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Books And Games 2009

31 Dec

Books

According to my spreadsheet, I read 86 books this years. I probably missed one or two but all the same, it would still be less than year. Considering my “slump” the last few months, it’s not surprising though.

Favorite novel 2009

Looking at the grades and leaving aside the re-reads, there are two novels I graded 5/5:

  • Anne Stuart – Black Ice (2005)
  • Meredith Duran – Bound By Your Touch (2009)

Like last year, a novel by Meredith Duran is in the running for my favorite novel of the year. Like last year, her novel was published that year whereas the other novel was not. And like last year, I’m going to name the other novel as my favorite novel of the year. Reason: I still remember reading it so vividly.

So my favorite novel 2009:

Black Ice by Anne Stuart

(Here’s what I wrote back then.)

~ * * * ~

Reading Challenges

TBR Challenge hosted by Keishon

I missed two out of twelve dates for this challenge. Which means, I managed to read ten out of twelve possible books. Overall, I read some good books in this challenge. I read some books who are favorite with many readers but didn’t really work for me, like Connie Brockway’s All Through the Night for example. I read some books I thought well written and saw the appeal but which still didn’t end up on my favorite list, like Suzanne Brockmann’s The Unsung Hero for example. I read some books by authors I’ve already read. I read some books whose authors where new to me and are now on my list of authors to read. And yes, I read some books that didn’t work for me at all.

Overall and although I missed it two times, I had a lot of fun with this challenge and I thought the monthly themes added a nice twist to the whole challenge. I found interesting new authors and I enjoyed myself.

Thanks to Keishon for coming up with the idea and organizing this challenge!

Re-Read Challenge hosted by nath

My sign-up for this challenge was the first time I ever posted on nath’s blog and I think it was a good idea. I had lots of fun with this challenge and I only missed one out of twelve dates for this challenge. I’m also happy to say that most of my favorite novels stood the test of time for me although I wasn’t brave enough to tackle the novel I think of as my favorite romance novel and which I only read one time for fear of finding it lacking the second time: Black Silk by Judith Ivory.

Maybe some day.

When I look at the novels I read for this challenge, I think for a re-read, I prefer a fun and humorous story to a more somber novel although I’m usually more interested in the latter when I think about buying a novel. Go figure.

Overall, a fun and interesting challenge, one I enjoyed very much.

Thanks to nath for coming up with the idea and organizing this challenge!

~ * * * ~

Games

I can’t say I have a favorite game this year. I played less than usual and I finished less games than usual.

2009 was the year I made real steps in my online gaming.

  • There’s the browser game I started in 2008 and still play: I joined a guild in February this year. My character is still doing good. She went from #1000 the last time I mentioned her to #163 in the ranking (status this afternoon).

  • And there’s Runes of Magic, a MMORPG. I started to play that several months ago and I still have fun although some of my worries about what could bother me have been confirmed. Anyway, I have three characters, a mage/priest (level 51/49), a priest/knight (41/39) and a scout/priest (level 20-30), and I joined a guild with my mage/priest character two months back.

    (No pics here due to the problems with our video card/computer – I can’t play at the moment).

~ * * * ~

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2010!

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December 2009

31 Dec

* * *Books* * *

Books bought / ordered:
Helen Brooks – The Millionaire’s Christmas Wife
Claire Delacroix – Fallen
Eloisa James – When the Duke Returns
Kathryne Kennedy – Enchanting the Lady, My Fair Lady, Double Enchantment

  • I probably won’t get the Helen Brooks

Books read:
Kelley Armstrong – Dime Store Magic (4/5), Industrial Magic (4/5)
Liz Fielding – The Bride’s Baby (3/5)*
– really liked the beginning; relies on, rather understandable, misunderstandings; liked the author’s voice
India Grey – Mistress: Hired for the Billionaire’s Pleasure (3/5)*
– really bad title; the heroine is into crying, acts and looks dumb mostly for plot reasons; interesting “Presents” appropriate language; enjoyed myself despite all that
Michele Hauf – Kiss Me Deadly (3/5)*
– quite okay
Leslie Kelly – Slow Hands (3/5)*
– quite okay
Maureen McKade – A Reason to Live (TBR Challenge; 4/5)
Maggie Osborne – Prairie Moon (4/5)
Karen Robards – Tiger’s Eye (Re-Read Challenge; 3,5/5)
Linda Warren – Once a Cowboy (3/5)*
– quite okay
Nancy Warren – Speed Dating (3/5)*
– nice and slow development of the romance; thought a novel in the NASCAR line would be much more “racy.”

  • TBR pile: – 5 books
  • * = I read them all very fast. I wonder that’s why they all ended up with 3/5

Favorite novel:
I don’t really have a favorite. I really liked Maureen McKade’s A Reason to Live and I loved Maggie Osborne’s Prairie Moon for the most part but both missed the special something to turn them into a real favorite. I also can say that after reading and enjoying Kelley Armstrong’s Dime Store Magic and Industrial Magic, I’m really looking forward to reading the next in that series, Haunted.

New-to-me authors: Liz Fielding, Leslie Kelly, Maureen McKade, Maggie Osborne, Linda Waren, Nancy Warren

New-to-me authors I would read again: Liz Fielding, (Leslie Kelly)*, Maureen McKade, Maggie Osborne, (Linda Waren)*, (Nancy Warren)*

* depending on the story

* * *Games* * *

Games bought:

Games played:
Runes of Magic
Disgaea

Comments: Games

Re-Read Challenge: “Tiger’s Eye” By Karen Robards

31 Dec

re-read-challenge-2009

Info:Re-Read Challenge 2009

This month:Re-Read Challenge: December!

GENRE: Romance / Historical
PUBLISHED: Avon, 1989

Lady Isabella St. Just is shocked to learn the identity of the daring champion who comes to her aid–for the man who rescues her from desperate felons is none other than Alec Tyron, the notorious king of London’s underworld. Now she is beholden to an outlaw who is repected and feared throughout the city and stunned by her own intense desire for this dark man of mystery. Fate has united these strangers from opposite lives–the beautiful aristocrate and the brazen criminal outlaw. And now that the flame has been lit, no power on Earth will quench the fire of their passion…or destroy a love that society cannot allow.

Then

This was the second novel I read by Karen Robards (the first being One Summer). I think the main attraction was the huge difference in the main characters’ position in society (think “the lady and the gutter rat”). I really liked it, the first half better than the last, and thought it interesting that it featured a married woman who commits adultery.

Now

Isabella is the (much) younger and unwanted-except-for-her-money wife of an earl. She spends her life on the country estate of her husband who’s in London most of the time and pretty much neglects her, something she’s used to from her family. Isabella herself has never been to London so the summons from her husband to come to London immediately is very surprising but something Isabella doesn’t hesitate to comply with. Her marriage is no love match but she knows her duties as a wife. She thinks of herself as sensible, possessing a good deal of common sense, and no real beauty.

Alec is the “king of the London underworld” which means that nothing goes on without him knowing about it. If someone dares to cut him out of a deal…Alec’s punishment is swift and merciless. He’s a gutter rat who pulled himself up in the only way and to the only position he could. But he strives to improve and educate himself, working on his language, speech, and manners. So it’s not much of a wonder that he’s fascinated with Isabella when they meet, who’s the image of a real and proper lady.

This unlikely pair meet because Isabella is kidnapped on her way to London and held for ransom in a cottage. The kidnappers acted without Alec’s knowing so Alec shows up one night. It’s the night Isabella flees because she has reason to suspect her kidnappers mean to kill her after they have the ransom. In all the confusion that night, both Isabella and Alec are shot and wounded. They are taken to a brothel Alec owns and which is run by his mistress, Pearl, and there they are confined to two connected rooms to recuperate. It’s there that their fascination with the complete difference of the other person gets the better of them and they start to fall for each other. And it’s there that Isabella learns the fact that her kidnapping wasn’t by chance, that it was planned and that she indeed should have been killed by her kidnappers. She has to accept the fact that someone she knows wants her dead, the someone presumably being her husband.

Tiger’s Eye is a story that spans more than a year and moves from London to the country to France, clearly dividing the story in distinct parts. The first part, set in London, shows how Isabella and Alec meet and how they slowly fall in love with each other. Then the story moves to Alec’s country house where Isabella and Alec truly get to know each other. Their time there is even more of an escape from the reality of their different lives than the first part so of course this idyll gets interrupted and the story moves to France. Isabella and Alec can’t hide from reality forever.

I still love the first part, the part in London, best. But then there’s a lull. Alec and Isabella need around 70 pages to get from London to the country house. On their way, there is a lot of action like more shooting, but I’m afraid that despite that and advancing the story and Isabella and Alec’s relationship in general, I thought it a bit boring. Probably mostly because I thought Isabella lost some of her common sense. At the country house, my interest in the romance writing conventions at play increased – Alec turning Isabella in a real beauty (dresses and educating her about sex) and Isabella taming Alec (teaching him to be a gentleman) – while my interest in the story decreased even more. The pace did pick up again for the last few chapters, dealing with reality, positions in society and Isabella’s husband, it also cranked up the drama a bit again but I’m afraid, reading Tiger’s Eye this time, it wasn’t enough to draw me in completely again after having lost me in the middle.

I didn’t have a problem with it but there are real-life concerns that could spoil the reading enjoyment, mainly the fact that the heroine is an adulteress (addressed as an issue only near the end of the story) and Alec’s background. Alec isn’t a benevolent Robin-Hood type of criminal, he’s the real deal (or so the reader is told). Yet apart from Alec telling Isabella

“I would have let Parren kill you if he hadn’t taken the job under the table. The fact that your life was saved in the process of protecting my turf was just bloody coincidence.” (227)

this reality of his life – that he accept(ed) harming innocents – is blanked out completely in the story. Isabella never asks herself the legitimate question if she could live with someone like that. Alec is kind to her, he’s the only one who really cares about her, he’s so beautiful, and he showed her how it can be between a man and a woman in bed – “she had no idea!” – so all is well.

Alec as the hero has to be all. He has to have all the power, trappings and dark allure the position as leader of the underworld gives him but to be a romance hero, the implications of what this actually means has to be played down into near non-existence. Because if you let yourself think about the reality of Alec’s background, the things that are not addressed in the story, he’s a rather unsavory character and not exactly hero material. The way it is, he’s a fantasy character.

I realize all this probably sounds worse than it actually is. The reason that I go on about Alec’s character so long when I went for the fantasy of his character is because it points in the same direction than my issues with the middle part of the novel. After promising a more unconventional story with a married heroine, Tiger’s Eye ignores most of the questions connected with that premise and instead turns to romance conventions and the path romances usually follow. If read for the fantasy of an utterly gorgeous man madly in love with a woman who was not really appreciated for much of her life, for the fantasy of a man willing to do all for a woman, Tiger’s Eye is a good and satisfying read.

Verdict: 4/5