Archive for the ‘ rant ’ Category

UK vs. US

Sometimes I feel like I am in a South Park episode. The one where Butters is Professor Chaos and he’s trying to take over the world and every time he comes up with a plan his sidekick General Disarray tells him, ‘The Simpsons did it!’ It’s like that in Romancelandia a lot of the time. You come up with an idea and go looking for pictures or quotes and then find that someone had beaten you to the punch.

Example. I was going to do this post on Nathan Kamp and how he seems to be on every frickin romance novel cover and why the hell is this the case cause yeah, he’s good-looking but he’s not that good-looking. Went to get some pictures and saw that Jessica over at Racy Romance Reviews had all ready done it. And her post was so much more eloquent and rational than I would have managed I thought to myself, ‘Yep, I’m not gonna even try!’

The I was going to do this post on UK vs. US covers and saw that Meljean had done something similar over at Oddshots. But you know what. I have come to the same conclusion poor Professor Chaos did. Romancelandia has been around for aeons and will be around after I go and we always talk about the same subjects again and again and again so another repetitive blog post ain’t gonna kill us. Plus, I have pretty pictures I want to show you all…

So UK vs. US book covers.

There are different reasons for a change in cover which Meljean goes into in her blog post here. But I have to say, maybe it’s because I am from the UK, I think the UK edges out the US a lot of the time…*controversial* Let me show you.

Keri Arthur

I just prefer the UK one. It feels more evocative somehow. Although I do like the colour scheme of the US one, it feels like anyone with Photoshop could have done it (Although I know that isn’t the case..)


Nalini Singh

I prefer black over lurid pink. I’m not sure what possessed that particular choice. Admit it, you’d be much happier reading the UK cover on the train.


J.D. Robb

Again much more evocative. I find the US covers really garish and it doesn’t tell me anything about the book at all.


Sherrilyn Kenyon

Admit it, it’s just much prettier. Although admittedly, the US covers have had a make over and I do prefer the covers with just the sigils on them to the lurid men covers they used to have.


Jim Butcher

I think the US covers for his Codex Alera series are like a badly drawn school project. I really dislike them.  (Although they are probably drawn by someone really famous.) I was so happy when Orbit brought the new UK covers out. I think they convey the fantasy feel without falling into the usual pitfalls of fantasy covers.


As for his Dresden Files series. I also prefer the, admittedly, boring UK covers. Why? Because as much as I like Chris McGrath’s covers he draws Harry with a freakin’ fedora on and HARRY NEVER WEARS ONE IN THE BOOKS. EVER! It really irritates me. So I prefer the UK ones cause they leave me to imagine the characters myself without putting ideas in my head. Of erroneous hats.


Ann Aguirre

I love the new cover for Ann Aguirre’s Corine Solomon series. It’s dark and moody much like the book (although there are lighter moments). I do like the US cover as well, I just like the UK more. Sometimes that happens. Even though the US cover is probably more representative of the character.


Eloisa James

No contest as far as I am concerned. It’s a beautiful picture and I love the little chess piece in the picture. It gives you a clue to the content but looks out-of-place there so you give it a second look. It’s just such a lavish picture. Very representative of Elosia’s work I think.


Julia Quinn

Although the UK covers are a lit too chick-lit in execution, I do think that they translate the sense of fun and humour that is apparent in Julia’s work. Unlike the US covers that are so vague they almost seem surreal.


However there are exceptions with Julia Quinn. The two ‘Cavendish’ books for instance. I much preferred the US covers. Go figure.


Lisa Kleypas

It’s not always the case that I prefer the UK over US either. I prefer the US covers to Lisa Kleypas’ newest historical series. The blue dress is stunning and much more interesting to my eye than the far away figure in the UK cover.  US cover win.


Rachel Gibson

I  do like the UK covers better. Again, they seem to convey a sense of fun. Although, that said, it is obvious that the UK publisher is trying to make this cover seem anything but romance as that is a dirty word in the UK.


It’s a subject matter that has been discussed ad nauseam and it’s true that while you know what you’re getting when you have mantitty or a back/dress combo, namely a romance novel, why does it feel that romance readers get the short end of the stick when it comes to cover art? Especially in America. Why is it that YA novels get beautiful covers like this?


And romance readers barely warrant any effort at all. Srsly, I CAN do better than this on Photoshop.

Why is there more effort put into a book for teens, than into a book for adults? Because that’s what it feels like. ‘Oh, they’ll buy it regardless so let’s not bother.’ But that’s a whole other subject for a whole other day.

(I’m probably going to get panned now from rabid Chris McGrath fans..*ducks*)

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The Mind Boggles…

So I work in retail.

Some days it really astounds me what people expect from a total stranger.

I work in the kids dept. I get all kinds of requests. But the strangest one happened today.

Woman walks up to me holding hands with a young child. The little girl was around 5 years old. The woman then proceeded to  thrust their joined hands (I am assuming it was her daughter)  at me and bark, ‘Can you take her to the toilet?’

Yes, this woman, walked up to a total stranger in a bookshop and asked them to take her child to the toilet. Regardless whether I had a uniform on that identified me as a member of staff, I’m still a stranger. Who she wanted to take her child to the toilet.

Am I the only one who thinks this is beyond the pale?

Is it usual to trust you child to stranger and then give them unrestricted access to them in the worst possible way? Was I out of order to refus?

I said in a completely stunned voice, ‘No, I am not taking your daughter to the toilet.’

She looked at me like I was a frickin’ idiot.

I then had to qualify that with, ‘I’m sorry, but you are asking me, a stranger, to take your little girl to the toilet?’ And she was still looking at me like I was throwing poo at her or something.

In the end, I told her I was extremely uncomfortable doing what she asked and politely reminded her that the kids dept is not a creche and I was not a trained as a childcare professional and that I had not been screened by the police like anyone who works with kids for a living has to. I work in a bookshop.

Seriously. Does no one remeber Jamie Bulger…or Madeline McCann?

Noooooooooooooooooooooo!

Can you feel my pain?

It’s here. It’s finally here, after an interminable wait and I can’t AFFORD to buy it!

FUCK!

Of course all of you who know what I’m bemoaning are laughing your asses off right now.

For those of you who don’t Josh Lanyon’s ‘Death Of A Pirate King‘ is finally released and I have to wait a further two weeks until I get paid before I can purchase me a copy of this fine, fine book.

Ahh Adrien, Jake, I’ll be pining over you, waiting impatiently, sobbing uncontrollably, feverishly trying to avoid spoilers.

I hate myself and my inability to budget right now. *pout*

In other unrelated news, catch me guest blogging over at DIK.

What a week

So last week kicked my ass.

Work is hectic at the moment. We have a new boss and while I am feeling energized and focused, I am annoyed at some of my colleagues and their less than professional attitude towards him. I always like to give everyone the benefit of the doubt when coming into an established team. Having been there myself I understand the stresses and pitfall of trying to integrate and facilitate a positive change in the process.Until he does something to prove to me he is TSTL he has my support. It’s how I am.

Retail is an ever-changing beast. It never stays still. Processes, tasks etc are always changing. Companies are always looking for the fastest, cheapest way to hoover money from their customers. So I always find it irritating when colleagues hold on like grim death to a certain job or function saying ‘We’ve always done it like this.’

What they really mean is, ‘I have always done it like this.’ There really is no place for inflated egos in retail and I am sick of trying to manage other peoples. ARGHHHHHH! Being obtuse and obstructive. Always seeing the negative first. Never bringing anything useful to a conversation. Maliciously gossiping about a man they don’t even know, just because he wants to change a few things. Things that will bring in more money and enable these people to keep their frickin jobs.

[/rant]

On the plus side we had an AWESOME cherub event this weekend in the kids dept. Around 40 kids attended although 70% drifted off before or during the event. Some were shy and some were a little too old. We did gear the tasks for the younger end of the spectrum, not expecting the older kids to come. I thought it would be too unfashionable for them. My bad. However, we sold a ton of books, recruited more kids to our monthly bookclub and generated a lot of interest in next weeks event which is Roald Dahl day.

I had a blast. Cat and I (who are both massive Cherub fans) had such a laugh and chatted and gossipped with the kids about the books and what character they loved best and what their favourite book was and why. Some of them were lucky enough to attend the Cherub event at the Book Festival this year and we managed to persuade them to write a little piece for our monthly newsletter. Fantastic fun.

I have been watching ‘That 70’s Show’ to fall asleep to this past week. That show still makes me laugh so hard. DUMBASS!

On the book front, I have picked up a little more speed again. Read a heap of Blazes.

Amorous Liaisons by Sarah Mayberry. Set in the world of ballet this time (her last one was female boxing!) it’s the tale of Max and Maddy. It a ‘friends become lovers’ story which I love. The twist is that it’s Max who has the unrequited love and Maddy who is clueless. I loved this. How can I not, it’s Sarah Mayberry. Even though it’s a Blaze and it’s law that 40% of it must be sex, she always manages to get the emotional impact across. Her guys are always great and her heroines are not usually TSTL.  Bliss.

Lethal Exposure by Lori Wilde. After a shaky start with the other two installments of this series, Lori Wilde managed to finish with a bang. It was hot and sweet. Although I did figure out who the big bad was well before the end. There is such a thing as TOO much foreshadowing.

Ms Match by Jo Leigh. Sublime, sublime, sublime. Great concept, great hero, great heroine. Horrible family. Paul is pretty but shallow and Gwen is smart but plain. Sparks fly. Misunderstandings are had. Sweet love is made and they all lived happily ever after. *sigh*

At Her Pleasure by Cindi Myers. Ridiculous tat about uncovering a female pirate’s buried treasure (I SHIT YOU NOT) and canoodling in hammocks on a desert island. It wasn’t as fun as it sounds. Trust me.

Next up was a Silhouette special edition by Susan Crosby called..wait for it…’The Single Dad’s Virgin Wife.’ Awesome. Title aside I loved this book. I adore it when the kiddies conspire to get the adults together. (Not one for you Jen though, I know.) Noah was great as the dad who was struggling to connect with his kids after the death of his wife. It gets me right here. *thumping chest* I just can’t resist a man who loves his kids. It’s part of a series called ‘Wives For Hire.’ The first one was good too. (It had a cute kid in it too….stay away Jen!)

Following that was ‘Mad Dogs‘ by Robert Muchamore. Gang warfare and teenage romance. I loved it. I’m not saying too much more because I do intend to wax lyrical about this book and the rest of the series in the not too distant future.

And Finally this week ‘Hostage To Pleasure‘ by Nalini SIngh. It was everything all the reviews said it was. I finished it with a sigh of satisfaction. Dorien was a great hero and after having doubts about Ashaya while reading excerpts, I was glad to be disabused of my worries. One niggle. I think Amara was wasted. The conclusion of her storyline was somewhat anti-climactic. There was so much more scope for terror there. She was set up as this horrific spectre and failed to deliver on the final push. But other than that…loved it. Nalini says there is going to be a pregnancy in the next book, anyone taking wagers on who is going to have the first set of pups? Sascha and Lucas? Faith and Vaughn? Judd and Brenna? Clay and Tally? Dorien and Ashaya? maybe even Mercy and Riley?

AND I won a book from Nalini Singh over on DIK. How cool is that. Plus Ann Aguirre took pity on my fangirl squeeing and sent me a copy of Wanderlust as well. LUCKIEST WEEK EVER!

Werewolves and shifters, oh my…

So, thanks to Jen/Sarai I am now a newly inducted member of the I *heart* J.L. Langley fan club. If you read the last post you will know that I read her cowboy series and loved . SO with it being payday this week I went out and glommed the rest of her back-cat.

Now I don’t normally do reviews because I have a tendency to gush (no, you say) and because I am rubbish at it. But I feel the need to speak. After reading ‘Tin Star’ and ‘The Broken H’ I went and read J.L. Langley’s ‘With/Without’ series. In simple terms it’s about gay werewolves. Not a new phenomenon in m/m romance by any means.

There are three titles so far. A novella which kicks us off called ‘With Love.’

It’s about Dev and Laine who are both gay, meet and realise that they are ‘mates’ and after some bumps with the local pack’s alpha, live happily ever after. Short, sweet and simple. We are introduced to the mechanics of the Wolf hierarchy and what it means to be an ‘Alpha’ and an ‘Omega’ wolf. Dev is all Alpha. Big, dominant but lovable. Laine is all Omega, small, feminine and submissive. It set the scene, gives us some rules for the universe and had some hot sex. It wasn’t my favourite of the series by far, but it is a novella so I understand the constraints and forgive the niggles I have.

The second ‘Without Reservations’ was my favourite of the series so far.

It’s about Chay and Keaton. Chay is straight, Keaton is not. Chay recognises Keaton as his mate straight away and while is a little surprised at first has no reservations (geddit?) about starting a relationship with Keaton. Keaton on the other hand has. He’s tangled with straight men and been burned in the past so he fights the attraction and Chay’s advances for a while. Not for very long though. They move in together, go through the trails and tribulations of telling everyone and settle down. Only to discover someone is trying to kill Keaton. They solve the mystery and live happily ever after.

I loved this book for many reasons. Chay calls Keaton by all these cute nicknames that Keaton outwardly objects to but secretly loves. In fact, most of the time Keaton is referred to a ‘Bit’ as in ‘Little Bit’ because he is smaller than Chay. However, although he is smaller and White (Chay is Apache) he is the much stronger wolf. This makes up for some interesting issues within the pack and within their relationship. Keaton has a stubborn personality and a hot temper. Chay is even keeled and understanding. I liked watching them struggle with their relationship dynamics. Why is the stronger wolf the sub and the easy-going, even tempered wolf the dom?

They were also both men. Although Keaton was younger and had a slight build there was no mistaking him for a girl. This irritates me in m/m as I feel it’s a bit of a cop-out. If I’m reading m/m I want them both ripped with stubble otherwise what’s the point? Call me sexist if you will…. I know it’s maybe not realistic but if I want realistic I’ll go to the reference section.

Although there is a slight mystery sub-plot running through this book, it’s mainly a study in relationships. How to start one, how to keep one and how new relationships affect those ones around it. Plus teh smexin is hot!

On to the third book and the one that inspired this post. There were so many things swirling about my head days after I read this, I felt the need to put them down.

‘With Caution’ is the story of Remi and Jake. Remi was turned in ‘Without Reservation’. We meet him there and he is a asshole of the biggest order. Jealous of Chay and Keatons new friendship he is a complete bastard to Keaton and then when he finds out the true nature of their relationship he cuts them off. Later on he comes round and goes to Chay’s to apologise when he is attacked by the werewolf trying to kill Keaton and left for dead. Jake, Keaton’s bodyguard, turns him in order to save him, while recognising Remi as his mate.

We meet up with Remi at the beginning of ‘With Caution’ trying to come to terms with his new werewolf status and looking after his baby brother Sterling. You see, Remi has an abusive dad who is a dirty Reservation cop. He used to beat on Remi and now holds the threat of beating on Sterling over Remi so that Remi will toe the line even though he has moved out.

Jake is a P.I. and out. His business partner and best friend Rhys is also gay and out. Jake has a whole gay werewolf community around him in his closest friends. I think the only one not gay is Gadget who is married and has nine kids (one of whom is gay).

Remi is fighting his attraction to Jake. He doesn’t know about the ‘mates’ thing to begin with. Trying to hide his ongoing friendship with Chay. See Remi isn’t really an asshole, that’s just a front. Really he disowned Chay and Keaton because he was afraid of what his father would say. Right enough when his father found out he forbids Remi to see Chay and Keaton again.

And this is the problem I had with this book. Remi and Jake get together, bring down his abusive father (who had killed a childhood friend and tried to kill Remi when he was younger) and keep his family together, along with starting a new pack with Jake (it’s a new gay pack, I think I’ll called them the Pink Ladies.) Jake is an Alpha, Remi is an Omega. But Remi somehow transformed into this submissive martyr who sacrificed everything in his life, his hopes and dreams etc to save his little brother from the abuse he got at the hands of his druken father.

He had a complete personality change. The Remi we met in ‘With Reservations’ was a smart-ass prick of the highest magnitude. And even though you got glimpses and hints as to his domestic situation and how that affected his behaviour, I got the impression he was always like that with everyone. Almost from the first page he is different with Jake and his brother Sterling. A totally different man. Kind, considerate, smiling, loves kids, gregarious and out-going and tolerant. The set-up for his conflict about his relationship with Jake was really strong but the fear of his father etc was brushed away after a few stray thoughts which annoyed me.

Plus Jake was this big-ass Dom who was worried about his bedroom proclivities and wondered how Remi was going to cope with being a Sub after the abusive childhood he had, when it turns out he LOVES it. To the point where has no qualms about being ‘claimed’ by Jake in pubic?!?!?! And calls him SIR!!???! And because Remi is also a rare Omega wolf, he has healing powers to boot!

It was just too much of a turn around. I would have much rather seen Remi struggle with shedding his smart-ass persona and the conflict that brought to him and Jake than what we got. Which was a shrug of the shoulders and a ‘I’m gay’ lightbulb moment. Poor. Plus teh smexin’ was lukewarm. It might be cause I have no use for the whole dom/sub thing but it didn’t do it for me. As it was in the first book which had a sub/dom feel to it too.

However, the storyline away from the romance was great and I really enjoyed it. Much more than in ‘Without Reservation’. Remi’s dad was a real bastard, the mystery behind what he was hiding and how Remi was involved was great. It kept me turning pages when I would have maybe stopped. The set-up of Sterling’s character was fun and with them starting ‘teh gay pack’ you can see new books with tertiary characters coming soon. There were a couple of world-building snafu’s but that’s to be expected and I never judge an author to harshly for that. I don’t think this was ever meant to be a series so there is bound to be some conflicting items while she works out the kinks.

My main gripe is that ‘With Caution’ should have been my favourite. It had the stronger plot line, better drawn secondary characters and world-building. But for that one flaw. The main character had a personality transplant. I almost with we hadn’t met Remi or Jake in the previous book.

I hate being ambivalent towards books. I loved it but was annoyed by it at the same time. I don’t want to put people off reading it because I really enjoyed it, but it also annoyed me to the point where I had to spew this up. I still love J.L. Langley’s stuff and can’t wait to read ‘My Fair Captain’. I’m still a fangirl and can’t wait until it’s her time on DIK. Oh Yes, there will be squeeing aplenty! SO read them and let me know if I’m crazy or if it bugged you to.

Blaze

I love a good category romance. They’re like tablet (which is Scottish candy made of sugar and condensed milk.) to me. They’re sweet, they’re gone before you know it and they get me so incredibly high. I love them. I am addicted to the Blaze line from Harelquin. Mainly cause I love the covers and also because there is usally a passable story in amongst all the hawt sex. There are usually no Greek/Itialian/Arabian tycoon/billionaire and no secretary/virgin/mistress to have his secret baby/revenge marriage. That’s not to say I don’t love a good ‘The Greek Tycoon’s Virgin Misstress’ Secret Baby Bargin,’ once in a while. But the Blaze titles seem to be a little more down to earth.

I subscribe (shock horror) and get six titles every month. You get to know the authors and I usually glom authors that I have enjoyed. I know the Blaze line has it’s detractors and that’s because when it’s done badly it sucks the big one. And this month has a freakin insanely bad title. And it’s written by a repeat offender. This is the second time this writer has done this to me. Let me show you.

Continue reading

Rip-Off!

[rant]

I am seriously pissed off at the moment.

I really feel ripped off at this moment in time.

I have been wanting to knit this ‘Baby Surprise Jacket’ for ages, ever since I saw the pattern. It is knit in one whole piece and sewn along two seams and viola! Jacket.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See, it’s so pretty and really quite unusal. The pattern is over forty years old and was designed by knitting guru Elizabeth Zimmerman.

I found out you could buy a pattern over the web and what with postage cause it had to be sent from USA (why they couldn’t have downloadable pdf’s) it cost me £5.00. Pretty expensive for a frickin’ pattern.

Then I open it and it’s not so much a pattern but a spattering of loose instructions. ARGHHHH! Just general comments, like ‘AT 5 ridges, inc 9 stitches (K3, M1) across end sections,’. WTF? What so is that (K3, M1) all on the same row 4 on one side, five on the other or is that (K3, M1) across the end over the next 4 rows?

I’m totally fucking bamboozled already and I’m not even past the fourth row.

When I pay money for a pattern I excpect a pattern, not just the scribbles that the designer wrote down when she originally designed it. And because it’s 40 years old, I have no doubt I’m not the first person to have this problem. So I have to ask, does she excpect everyone to dechiper her scribblings. Is it knitting snobbery? Only designing for people who have the knitting chops to decode the secret expert knitters language she has used. Why, oh why hasn’t a comprehensive pattern been done. A revision of the original so us ordinary peons can use it without being made to feel like a fucking idiot!

Perhaps I should be flattered that it is expected that I can decipher this but I feel I have just paid money for something I can’t use. Not without going to Ravelry and trawling through many of the posts there about this very subject, or finding a podcast kint-a-long and take pointers from someone who has already had to decipher this fucking mess of instructions.

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