Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sunday Soup - June 30

Sunday Soup is... a little of this, a little of that, not too much work, and hopefully a tasty result.

Soup Dish:  book people are talking about...
Good lord, I fell into the "WTF Bad Romance Covers" tumblr  the other day and almost didn't make it back. So funny, and so wrong. Not exactly SFW.

I am SO looking forward to RT14.  I had a lot of fun at RT12 but I feel a lot more connected in to the community now and plus, NEW ORLEANS! Also? the convention is being held at the hotel where my husband and I honeymooned in 1998, so that is pretty cool too.  This will be my first time back. Why do I bring this up now? Hotel reservations are now open!

More plagiarism. Teresa Mummert gives a detailed overview of a plagiarism "ring" that might be one person? or seven people who share a similar technique?  If you're going to go to all that trouble, people, you might as well ACTUALLY WRITE A BOOK.  The redeeming thing about all this hoopla is that the internet actually makes it kinda hard to get away with this kind of crap.  Book bloggers and authors will go to pretty great lengths to make sure of it.  There are hours of unpaid investigative work behind that one post, and there are many others-- because plagiarism hurts all of us.

If you feel like branching out from romance this summer, here is an intriguing-looking list of SFF titles for July.  Included are titles from Devon Monk, Jenna Black, and Ilona Andrews, so I know they've got taste.  I'm definitely interested in a couple of their picks.

Are you a lover of tropes? Honestly, I had no idea what that even meant until I started reading romance blogs and figured out that it meant, basically, story patterns.  I used to love to pick up pirate and captive type romances, but that was many, MANY years ago.  I started reading mostly by author in the 90s, and of course everything changed five or six years ago when I joined Romlandia online -- now I have more recs than I know what to do with, but I really don't read by trope.  If you do though, there's a great discussion over at DA and lots of recs-by-trope in comments.

To continue the reviews of the re-released Wickerly trilogy by Patricia Gaffney, here is Brie's review for To Have and To Hold. This title in particular has been dividing romance readers for years, on the question of rape versus "forced seduction," (a term I'm a bit uncomfortable with) and power dynamics in romance. I bought the paperback a few years ago to re-read when Jessica (of The Hypeless Romantic) was planning to use it in a class.  It's still on my TBR list, waiting...

What I'm reading
So I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was picked for Open Road Media's Retro Reader program, but somehow I missed the June email.  Finally I contacted them and got the two titles I'm supposed to be reviewing and have spent most of my reading time on those two books this week.  Both westerns, which is a genre I usually pass over, but I enjoyed them very much.  You should see something about them from me this week.

On Tap... what soup isn't a little better with a slosh or two?
OK, I know this blows my cover and exposes me for the pedestrian beer drinker I am, but I do like Blue Moon quite a lot. And over the winter, they had a Blue Moon Abbey Ale which I completely adored. It's got caramel and brown sugar and cinnamon and clove flavors. If you're thinking that it sounds like a Christmas cookie, you'd be right. I happen to like Christmas cookies. A lot.

However, this is a seasonal offering, so it's not currently very available. I've had decent luck with some mild blondes, so I picked up, somewhat randomly, a six pack of Abbaye Leffe Blonde from Belgium.

Sadly, I did not like it.  I had difficulty placing the fruit flavor I was getting, so I browsed a couple of reviews, and one of the reviewers from Beer Advocate said it perfectly:
Taste is very banana forward with a hint of funk.
I'm not really sure about what funk tastes like, but I don't think I like it. And I really, REALLY don't like bananas.  I'll be passing the rest of those on to a friend and I filled in the week with Henry Weinhard's Blonde.  It's getting super hot here though, so I think some Pyramid Apricot Ale is in my near future.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Wanted: Wife, by Gwen Jones - Review

Title: Wanted: Wife
Author: Gwen Jones
Publisher:  HarperCollins
Imprint: Avon Impulse 
Release Date: June 4, 2013 (ebook available now, paperback will be out July 2nd)
Reviewing: advanced eARC
Reason for reading: I caught some buzz on Twitter, and the title was available to me on Edelweiss in exchange for a fair review.

The Short Answer 
If you can suspend a bit of disbelief in the beginning, makes for sweet fantasy.

The Premise
A modern-day marriage of convenience: the hero wants all the perks of marriage, but without risking his heart.  The intrepid heroine finds herself in a difficult spot, and Andy's unconventional proposal offers her not only a way out, but possibly a break-out book deal.

W:W has a lot of charm, but it also has some flaws.  Andy posts an ad for a wife like something out of an old western, on the telephone pole of a small town.  Julie is a television reporter who specializes in off-beat human interest stories: "Julie Knott's Random Access."  OK, fair enough.  Andy claims that he wants to keep his heart and emotions out of the deal, yet he passes by eminently qualified candidates for Julie.
"Look, I don't want you to take this personally, but--"

"I won't," he said. "In fact, I've gone out of my way to make sure personalities have nothing to do with it.  I need a wife to help run the farm and have our children.  And if she does, she'll share equally in all the rewards and benefits.  All I ask is that she's healthy, able to have children, and be willing to work hard. You, Ms. Knott..." he looked me over. "... appear to meet all the criteria."
I don't know, this just didn't convince me.  He's basically denying that he's attracted to her, or that attraction even matters, and yet there is no other reason why he'd choose her over 200 other qualified women. It's nowhere on the page.

Julie's reasons for taking him up on it were a bit more believable, if somewhat wincingly mercenary: her fiance has left her high and dry, emotionally gut-punched, without a job, a home, or access to their frozen bank account.  Up front, she negotiates a book deal from the experience with him and with a publishing agent.  I liked that she was straight with him about that.

I can't decide if the down-home farm schtick is kind of wonderful, a bit over the top, or... just silly.  At times it struck me all three ways.  I mentioned in a review of a post-apocalyptic novel awhile back that I do think there's a certain visceral appeal to getting off the grid.  Andy's farm just happens to have "no bars" for cell service; no electricity when they first move in (the generator is busted), and certainly no internet service.  In the middle of summer, they go all Little House on the Prairie for a couple of weeks until the generator is fixed and the tumbledown farmhouse is sufficiently repaired to a liveable state. To me this was equal parts charming and not very believable.

The Chemistry
Part of Andy's deal is that they actually get married and actually try for a baby.  This is no "in name only" marriage. After 90 days, if there's no baby, they have an opt-out clause with an annulment.  (So why get married in the first place? Kinda silly, if you ask me.)

So the reason this book actually does work is that, once you get past the somewhat preposterous beginning, the chemistry between these two is electric.  The love scenes are searing and believable... and it does help if you read a little French.  (I mean, it is the language of love.)  Once they make this connection, the book held together much better for me.  There were some enjoyable getting-to-know you chapters; some space lent to how they worked together on the farm, and nested up their ramshackle farmhouse together.

I don't know if it was the French or the raw feel of his kiss, soft and cabernet-warmed, but when his tongue laced hungrily into mine it was like some crazy bomb went off in my head.  For all of Andy's previously stand-offish ways, he was suddenly all over me, covering me with kisses and enveloping me like a huge, hungry lion.  The icon from afar evaporated before my eyes, and all at once he became real-- a living, breating testament of his desire for me.

I have dwelled a little more on what doesn't work than on what does, but this connection gets made fairly early in the book and is enough to draw you through a classic build-up/black-moment/resolution arc and to make you cheer for them getting together in the end. So if you're a fan of the marriage of convenience trope, love the idea of whispered sweet nothings in French, and secretly want The Pioneer Woman's life, you'll enjoy this book very much.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sunday Soup - June 23

Sunday Soup is... a little of this, a little of that, not too much work, and hopefully a tasty result.

If you missed me last week (and I missed you!), I didn't get the Soup out because we had a Girl Scout camp out over last weekend.  I was in charge of cooking chili and cornbread outdoors for 35 people, which caused me to panic a little bit when I started really thinking through the logistics.  Fortunately, I had training, references, and several really helpful helpers; plus, people just get hungrier in all that fresh air, and as they say, hunger is the best sauce.  I got tons of compliments for the recipe, which included such gourmet ingredients as Ragu tomato sauce and McCormick taco seasoning spice packets.  Haut cuisine, baby.

Soup Dish:  book people are talking about...
As far as I can tell, the internet has been pretty quiet this week in terms of bookish uproar.  Perhaps everyone is busy kicking off their summers.  Where I am, it's just starting to get summery.  I did spot one article on paperbacks vs. e-books that was pretty interesting - no conclusions, but I think it's an interesting concept that physical books will
become art objects imbued with nostalgia, akin to vinyl records and Polaroid cameras. As e-books increasingly become our main means of digesting literature, print books of every binding will stop being mass-produced and start becoming more “bespoke”...

Patricia Gaffney's Wickerly trilogy came up over at Pamela's place a few weeks ago, and BAM, in the crazy coincidental way of things, it is being re-issued electronically and discussed over at Dear Author.  In addition, I finally got my hookup for the June Retro Reads and it includes another classic Patricia Gaffney title, Crooked Hearts.  So it's shaping up to be a Pat Gaffney kind of summer.

You can feel the excitement building up in the romance community for RWA 2013 in Atlanta.  I can't go to that, but I'm looking forward to the bookfair at the Greater Seattle RWA conference in October.  I got to thinking that it would be really fun to try to host some king of blogger/author workshop, but I was too late when I pinged the organizer.  I'm still pondering a little bit about maybe doing something in the area that weekend that isn't officially sponsored.  I don't know very many local bloggers though... are you out there? Let's talk!

What I'm reading
Lately I have mostly just been finishing up things that I have already talked about.  I finished Anna Campbell's Midnight's Wild Passion, Laura Wright's Eternal Demon, Jill Shalvis' It Had to Be you, and of course, Nalini Singh's Heart of Obsidian. I'm feeling inclined to review one or three of those, but I'll just say, recent reading exceeds all reasonable expectations.

Currently in progress is Janelle Denison's Born To Be Wilde, a contemporary that I got as part of a 6-pack special anchored by Carly Phillips. So far, I like it a lot!

I have a google alert set for blog articles about "Alpha Heroes," and recently it led me to this article, entitled Alpha Heroes and Kimchee.  Hee.  Great side benefit? There is a free short e-story posted in the article, any format you prefer.  I don't know this author but I'm willing to check it out just for the blog article title.

Oh, and I see that Marilyn Pappano has a new release coming out this week. Her Bethlehem books with their slightly goofy guardian angels have a very fond place in my heart.  I have lost track of her stuff in the interim; perhaps I'll nab this one.

On Tap... what soup isn't a little better with a slosh or two?
I still have a crush on Sam Adams. The Cream Stout is still a favorite because mmm chocolate, but when the temperature goes up a little more, I tend to prefer a lighter, fruitier ale - so Sam Adam's Blackberry Wit came home with me last week. (When it gets REALLY warm, nothing beats a Pyramid Apricot Ale, though.)

I am still experimenting with lagers and pilsners, but in general I am liking the ales better. apparently, my palate isn't sufficiently educated  to be able to articulate exactly why, so until I can, I will probably keep trying them now and then -- as long as they aren't too hoppy.

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Couple That Fooled The World, by Maisey Yates - Review

Title: The Couple Who Fooled The World
Author: Maisey Yates
Release Date: June 18, 2013
Publisher:  Harlequin
Imprint: Harlequin Presents
Reviewing: advance e-copy
Reason for reading: Uh.  I think it was because of the phallic salmon.

The Short Answer 
I loved this story!  I love the gender role inversions and the (I thought, anyway) tongue-in-cheek pokes at genre cliches. Fun, authentic, emotional, and deeply romantic.

Wait, Did You Say... "Salmon" ?
Well, yeah.  I did.  After RT12 last year, I sort of developed this Twitter habit.  So full disclosure, Ms. Yates and I have been swapping tweets for quite a while now.  Partly because we tend to be online around the same times, and partly because she cracks me the heck up.  I found myself in the middle of a conversation between Yates and another author about their WIPs.  One thing led to another, and the phrase "Is that a salmon in your pants or are you just happy to see me?" may have come up, and, well, long story short, she sent me an advance e-copy.

I want to assure my readers that if I didn't like the book much or was really lukewarm, I would likely have opted out of the review entirely.  I'm not going to pump up a book that I didn't like.  I have to say though, that reading this book was really just kind of a highlight of my weekend.  I swapped "live-tweets" with Maisey of some favorite quotes as they happened, and honestly, the characters totally pulled me in. I didn't know much about the story other than the afore-mentioned salmon, and the geek-speak at the beginning just KNOCKED ME OVER.  Romance writers, I love you, but honestly, there are not that many of you who do this right.  Yates turns out to be one of them.

Her characters are basically Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, if Gates had invented the Blackberry, and if Jobs was female, and if they were both SUPER ULTRA HOT.  And, um, had not started out in business together and tried to sue each other into oblivion.  And the Blackberry wasn't dying a slow painful death. Anyway, just go with it.

Ferro (iron? steel? I love the name) is the incumbent king of the secure, business-oriented smartphone, while Julia's upstart company is upsetting his applecart (heh, see what I did there) with a sleeker, more useable, more FUN smartphone.  The positioning of their companies and products don't consume very much of the story, but it's an opening gambit that is SPOT ON for what's going on in the industry right now, without a false step.

My Sordid History with Category Romance
It's been a really long time since I read a Harlequin Presents, but I'll tell you, they are the books that lured me into romance at age 12 or 13, with their exotic settings and luridly fascinating sexy sexytimes.  Also, I had this set of ever-so-wholesome "Sue Barton, ____ Nurse" books.  Their covers were falling off.  And those covers? fit just perfectly over the average category romance.  Voila.  I'm sure I FOOLED THEM ALL, HAHAHAH!!

Anyhow, I digress.  I moved on to stand-alones because they had even sexier sexytimes and also because I could read a 400 page novel in like 3 hours back then AND I had a lot more time on my hands.  I haven't been back to category very often, but I'm finding the shorter, sweeter bites to be more appealing these days. In many ways the format suits my available reading time better than a longer book.

Twisting the Tropes
I am more than a little bemused at how adamantly the romance genre continues to push the "marriage of convenience" trope into the modern day.  Is this still a thing?  Do actual people ever do this?  I feel like it's a beloved holdover from historical romance that we can't quite relinquish. It is indeed, a thing, in TCWFTW.  This one wasn't really a twist, but an obedient servant: the two are pretending to team up romantically so that a joint business venture will get more PR and have better odds with the client against a third competitor.  I will say that in today's highly visible environment, I felt that the characters handled their charade-that-comes-true realistically enough.

You can't start talking about the romance genre without someone bringing up the punishing kisses.  I have never found this as offensive as some and I've never taken it literally -- to me, it's visually powerful phrasing to convey a hard, passionate kiss that might leave your lips a little swollen.  Nevertheless, it's a Thing in Romlandia, and particularly in the HP line, so I was delighted to see the author playing with it like a cat with a catnip-bell-toy:
He leaned in, his lips brushing her ear, his breath hot on her neck.  "Think of how angry I make you.  And then kiss me like it's my punishment."
And then she does it! It's not often that a scene can be hott and slyly self-referential at the same time, but this one totally rang that bell.

I'm only going to say a little about this because discovering the characters and how well they fit together is a big part of how this book works.  I will say that their chemistry worked really well for me.  HPs are infamous for giving us couples with a huge power differential, always in the man's favor.  This one isn't like this. The characters are on equal footing in every way.  While Ferro demands a certain amount of dominance in their relationship, it's more of a defense mechanism that the two of them eventually overcome than any kind of kink.  Even so, it's quite clear throughout that Julia is is equal.

Bits and Pieces
I love how Yates uses Julia's wardrobe to trace her character arc. One of the "secrets" of powerful people is not that they are good at everything -- but when they understand their weaknesses, they hire people to fill in the gaps.  On the first page:
She smiled for the cameras, knowing she looked good.  Thank God she had a personal stylist, along with a hair and makeup team.  On her own she was hopeless.
Early in their deal, Ferro invites her at the last minute to be his date for a Hollywood opening; the whole red-carpet deal.  I love that she doesn't freak out over what to wear:

...she hit the intercom on her phone. "Thad."

"Yes?" Her assistant's voice came through the speaker.

"I need a dress. A hot one. Get Ally on it, please. And I need to get my hair done."

"Formal? And by when?"

"Yes, and I need to be waiting out in front of the building at four-fifty."
That's it! No freaking out. I love it. The result:
...he was genuinely stunned by her appearance.  She was utterly captivating in a long black dress-- the woman didn't seem to own another color-- that skimmed the gray sidewalk.  The sleeves were long and full, like a kimono, and the neck high, revealing very little of her pale skin.

Later, when they are staying in the same hotel suite to promote their fake affair, Ferro sees her dressed casually in sweatpants, and it kind of knocks him out:
Lace, silk would not have been as compelling. Because right now, Julia was a woman as he had never seen one."
When Ferro's backstory is revealed-- which twists another trope-- you'll see how perfectly true that is, and it just might pull on your heartstrings a little bit.

Bottom Line
I really enjoyed this story, and would recommend it to anyone who likes contemporary romance, whether you are usually a fan of category or not. 

Around the Blogosphere
Contemporary Romance Reviews
RT has a review in their latest issue if you are a subscriber.
A fun interview at Lady Scribes
(note, since I'm getting this review done ahead of time for a change, the list of published reviews is pretty short.  I'm happy to add more in as they become available.)

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Sunday Soup - June 9

Sunday Soup is... a little of this, a little of that, not too much work, and hopefully a tasty result.

Soup Dish:  book people are talking about...
Well, to be honest, I dropped out of Twitter and my readerly Facebook feeds this week because I was worried about getting spoilered for Heart of Obsidian. So I'm a little more unplugged than usual. But here are a couple of things I tagged for the Soup:

HuffPo's list of 9 Books People Will Judge You For Reading.  One of the "books" is the entire category of romance.  Sigh.  They're not wrong, but my response is always, always, Dear Author's classic Apologia Scale.  I'm thinking about trying to work my way through some of the rest of that list.  Actually, I'm rather liking their column on books in general.  I'm not really great about reading on news sites, but perhaps I'll try to adopt a new habit. Because I really need another avenue for book recommendations -- my list is just not long enough!

Penelope, whom I follow on Twitter and whose blog I've enjoyed for years, had a short, pithy little rant that I think most readers will cheer about, and maybe a few authors (and I really don't have any in mind) might want to remember. Do you like the book?

Being more than a little bit geeky for tech, I found this article to be really inspiring.  I want to try all those apps: Book Publishing May Actually Save Itself, in Forbes, no less.

What I'm reading
I finished up Wanted: Wife, by Gwen Jones, a cute contemporary out from Avon last week.  You'll see the review this week from me (imagine! an actual post other than the Soup!)

I'm still in the middle of the Laura Wright and the Anna Campbell titles that I mentioned last week.  I had to set them aside for ...

Heart of Obsidian -- Oh my, this was everything I've come to expect from Nalini Singh, and then actually? A little bit more.  I wouldn't really recommend diving into the series with this book, but you really, really should be reading this.  I'm debating whether I will do a review, but I think I have Things To Say, so there will probably be something.

And then I really needed something completely different so even though I had two books in progress already, I switched into the latest Jill Shalvis title, a small-town contemp.  I haven't been reading the Lucky Harbor books prior to this, so I'm not sure if it leans more sweet-small-town or if the suspense-thriller angle will be more dominant, but either way it's good so far.

On Tap... what soup isn't a little better with a slosh or two?
So you know I like a bit of a sweet beer, so I tried out something called Big Sky Honey Ale.  It was OK, but I didn't really taste any honey in it which disappointed me a bit.  It was smooth and tasty and not too hoppy but otherwise unremarkable.  Also, it's gone, which may tell you something.  Whether it's about the beer or the week I had shall remain ambiguous.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Avon Addicts - The Third Wave

Brace Yourselves, Romance Fans....
Avon has a whole new wave of power readers and reviewers!

Maybe you know some of these voices already, but if you don't, be sure to check them out, as they will soon have access to a trove of Avon review titles. Please welcome the third wave of Avon Addicts.  Ladies, you're in for a great ride!

Sheri V (LoveofBookends)
Michelle G (BookLoverChelle)
Crystal B (CrystalBlogsBooks)
Danielle G (RamblingsFromThisChick)
Jennifer D (Bittenbylovereviews)
Melissa W (BalletBookworm)
Pamela R (BadassRomance)
Kimberly W (TrulySimplyPink)
Sherri W (UrbanGirlReader)
Delphina M (DelphinaReadsTooMuch)
Ki P (DoingSomeReading)
Rachael G (BrunetteLibrarian)
Anna C (herdingcats2012)
Kimberly C (CaffeinatedBookReviewer)
Nancy S (OnceUponaHappyWriter)
Laura H (DemonLoversBooksandMore)
Nancy G (RakesRoguesandRomance)
Lisa B (DuckieWench)
Lime C (Limecello)
Teri C (SnarkyMamma)
Seirra P (DearRestlessReader)
Lisa L (TeaTimeRomance)
Vanessa R (JeepDiva)
Wren B (HerHeroHisLady)
Heidi Z (YABibliophile)

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Sunday Soup - June 2

Sunday Soup is... a little of this, a little of that, not too much work, and hopefully a tasty result.

Big News for Alpha Heroes!
A few weeks ago I mentioned that my review of Tempestuous Eden, by Heather Graham, was also an application to the RetroReads reader program.  I'm very happy to announce that I was chosen to be a part of this nifty deal, and I look forward to taking you back in time on a regular basis.  Look for the Retro Reader badge around the internet for other participants!

Soup Dish:  book people are talking about...
June! June? how on earth did it get to be June? that's like halfway through the year. I should start my Christmas shopping, right? And I haven't booked our summer travel yet, OMG.  (Yep, it's June. This happens every year.)  OK, anyway, so book people are talking about...

Kensington has re-released Robin Schone's The Lady's Tutor.  It looks like it's been available in Kindle format since at least 2009, but the print version has a gorgeous new cover.  If you've never read this book, I highly recommend it.  Interestingly, it's being marketed as erotic romance, which is a category that did not explicitly exist when it was first published in 1999. Although it will likely be considered fairly mild by today's erotica standards, as a genre historical romance, it raised my eyebrows, I can tell you that. Wikipedia references a dispute with the publisher, now resolved, that prevented her from publishing for a few years.  Hopefully this means more good things to come from Ms. Schone's talented pen.

An author takes a risky public stand: What Authors Owe You. Authors, being in the public eye, are often put in awkward positions when there are problems with their books that are out of their control.   I thought this was particularly interesting:

Readers are not an author’s customers. Readers are our readers. Readers are customers of bookstores (real and virtual) and other retail venues. Unless you bought the book directly from the author, you are not the author’s customer and all you are entitled to is the story we wrote. If there’s a problem with the delivery system, you take it up with the folks who run the delivery system.

If you buy a shirt and it’s missing a button, do you call up Versace or do you take it back to the store?

If you buy a videogame and the disc is scratched, do you bitch at Electronic Arts or do you get your ass back to GameStop for a refund?

Just because social media allows you to reach out to an author, doesn’t mean you necessarily should.
I'm not sure I agree that readers are not customers, and I happen to know that lots of people bitch at places like Electronic Arts for all kinds of stupid things.

But this all gets to one of the reasons why the perennial "Authors Behaving Badly" kerfuffles irritate me.   I don't really want to know. I don't want my enjoyment of an authors' work tainted by some kind of stupid lapse of judgment that had the misfortune of being splashed all over the internet.  If an artist (author, musician, cinematographer, etc) crosses the line into overtly racist, cruel, or criminal behavior, then I might want to make an informed vote with my dollars.  But a B or C list author having a tantrum over a two star review? DON'T CARE.

On the other hand, book people ARE talking about the sexism kerfuffle going on at SFWA. As far as I can tell, it was kicked off by this blog post, which outlines the problem pretty well. Spoiler: the Old White Guys pretty much show their ass here, and not at all in a good way. Late edit: good grief there are a lot of people talking about this! The latest to deconstruct and utterly destroy the puny, flaccid arguments coming from Mike Resnick and Barry N. Malzberg is Foz Meadows. She also has lots of links if you feel like going way in-depth.

This headline caught my eye.  Until I got down into the article, I didn't realize it was essentially a review for a book on How to Read Literature, which, based on title alone, sounded kind of interesting. The rest of the article was sort of a pan, but I might look at some other opinions.  I was too busy inhaling stories when I was a kid (still am) to pay much attention to literature--that just slowed me down. I don't know if education failed me or if I just had too much attitude to be open to it.  I remember scoffing pretty hard at a lesson on alliteration in 9th grade. But it would be nice to get better at expressing why some authors just have a treatment of language that moves me more than others.

It's not really about romance, but this article on the physiological effects of corsets can't help but catch the interest of historical romance lovers.  There are X-rays! I mean, we all figure it was bad, but really, it was pretty bad.

I absolutely loved this BuzzFeed article: Can You Guess What These NYC Subway Riders Are Reading?

On my list, haven't gotten to it yet, but certainly strikes a chord with me: The Curse of Reading and Forgetting.

What I'm reading
It's been a bit of a down week in reading - just super busy with other stuff and too brain-dead to read once the day finally settles down.  So this week is more about quality than quantity:

Fire and Frost, an anthology with stories by Jessica Sims, Carolyn Crane, and Meljean Brook. It was AWESOME. I'm hoping to get a review up, but in the meantime, I don't know how long the $0.99 price will last, so you should go get it right now.

Currently in the middle of Eternal Demon by Laura Wright. I do enjoy this author quite a lot, and this book is so far right in the pocket for expectations.

I was out and about on Saturday and left my Kindle at home. Now, if I were absolutely desperate, I could've used my iPhone to sync and keep reading, but I just happened to be at a little local mall with a Half Price Books and thought I'd nab something in an old-fashioned paper format. I'm way behind on Anna Campbell's backlist, so I have just dipped into Midnight's Wild Passion. Sometimes, your average regency rake is really just teddy bear with a thin facade, but so far Ranelaw is looking like the real deal -- actually quite dissolute, actually quite amoral, and with an unsavory ulterior motive. Campbell is awesome at redeeming these bad guys though, so I'm looking forward to the ride.

On Tap... what soup isn't a little better with a slosh or two of an adult beverage? 
OK, so writing this little blurb once a week is making me realize that I really don't know very much about beer at all. So when I was at the fancy mega store looking for my delicious Sam Adams Cream Stout (I got the last six pack, w00t!), I noticed a stack of these booklets and picked one up.

I've been browsing it, and it really is genius marketing because it's not only just general, good-to-know stuff, but it's quite handy to tell what specific brands and varieties--which the store JUST HAPPENS to carry-- might suit the category that you're learning about or that might sound good from the fancy descriptions.  (The book mentioned the existence of cherry porter beer, the acquisition of which just might be my next obsession.)  Meanwhile, I've mostly been alternating between the Sam Adams Cream Stout and the Blue Moon Belgian-style white.

Want to Join In?
I'm thinking about doing a couple of read-alongs in the not too distant future.  I'm thinking sheiks for one, and a specific Lisa Hendrix title for another. Anyone interested?

Just Because It Cracked Me Up:


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