"Sweet Valley Confidential" - Francine Pascal - 2011

Thank you, Cara.  

And Thank you, Back Cover, for finally teachin me what a MFin' lavaliere is!

I never would have made it through the audiobook, and it didn't have the sweet inside cover featuring  Jessica and Elizabeth's classic Book One cover art.

I spent a hot Memorial Day, lazing about on the couch, surrounded by a haze of nostalgia and cheese!

Terrible book.

Also, I don't remember nearly as much about this fictional world as I thought I would.  I bet the summaries in the ridiculous (on purpose?) epilogue would be funnier if I did though...

Also, no mention of much from SVU (no, not Special Victim's Unit - Sweet Valley University, also, there was definitely some date raping, kidnapping, etc) and no William White (a favorite sociopath).

Also, Bruce Patman is the nice one?  And I bought it?  (I'm such a sucker!)

"Bossypants" - Tina Fey - 2011

 Tina Fey, I love you.
You are hilarious.
Thank you for 30 Rock, 
and thank you for writing this book.  

I found a B/W disposable camera from a few years back.  
It only had 4 pictures taken on it.  One of which was this gem:

Hey Anj! 
You're a weirdo, just saying.  

Cats know you love it when they lounge in your workspace.  
They also know you love shedding on materials and hard bites to the forearm. 
You love these things.

p.s. see that handsome man behind my handsome cat?  

That's just the best birthday present ever, an original Bret Sarlouis painting of Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy.  

p.s.  Please ignore the bright blue bra hanging around my studio - it's for art, I swear.

Carl the Eisegete (The Making Of, My End Anyway)

Sketch for Cover

"The Lady Most Likely" - Anthology - 2010

I love a  house party.  I love couples falling in love while forced to participate in games and nonsense at said house party.  This novel features three couples all falling in love (or realizing love) at a house party. I enjoyed all three stories, but especially liked Julia Quinn's section, a surprising bonus when I haven't liked any of her novels in years, also reading at 3 am may help the heartstrings along.  

Stephanie Bond - "She Did a Bad, Bad Thing" - 2007

I think Stephanie Bond might be my go-to for series romance.  
Another light, fun, and most important for a series novel - fast read.  

"Leaving Normal" - Stef Ann Holm - 2005

I have never read Stef Ann Holm before, but “Leaving Normal” was on my looking for list, has a very cute cover, and just so happened to be in my TBR pile.  I had pretty high expectations, and started out enjoying this story of a reluctant divorcee resisting a relationship with a strapping younger man.  True, the story felt like half “Anyone But You” (Jennifer Crusie) and half “Just One of the Guys’ (Kristin Higgins) since the hero is a full-time fire fighter.  The heroine, Natalie a young looking 43, thinks she’s feeling hot flashes, and no, not the sexy kind, and has an 18 year-old daughter off at her first year of college.  When we meet Tony, he’s Natalie’s neighbor living with his wife and young step-daughter. That’s right, I said wife.  So, you know things have to change pretty quickly.  The progression of Tony and Natalie’s relationship feels pretty believable, despite all the reasons it shouldn’t – so I kept chugging along. 

The more I read the less I liked the characters, their story, or the author.  There’s a too cute (and very transparent) secondary love story which takes place almost entirely at Target, and one scene of the daughter on her own at college, included merely to set up a later event.  Even in a story that is not 1st person POV, a jump like that is disorienting. 

Natalie and Tony get super annoying after they finally have sex, and Tony of course wants a baby of his own, but Natalie has been there and done that, plus she’s got her supposedly peri-menopausal uterus.   This major issue is tied up neatly, without much comment however in the epilogue. 

Now for my biggest problem with this book:  the conservative opinions of the author, such as waiting for marriage to have sex (the daughter, not the mother) and wanting marriage and a baby, in that order (the hero, the heroine already did that) there was a detrimental line referring to birth control as well.  It’s not really the values themselves that bother me, it’s the preachiness of it.   Then there was a moment that truly bothered me, and I should have stopped reading, but I wanted to see how far it would go.  Here’s the gay joke that appears on page 153. 

The hero did and said the following:

“He and Rob had taken this morning’s personal section of the newspaper and highlighted the men-seeking-men gay ads and left them on Walcroft’s bed.  It was juvenile, but damn funny watching his reaction.”
“You guy’s are a bunch of pussies.  You were looking at those ads for yourselves.”
 “Not me” the Captain denied.  “Tony”
“Bullshit.” Tony countered, grinning.  “If anyone is gay, it’s Gable.”

That was the MFing hero!  Very mature and open minded of you, I can’t wait for your HEA.  Now this 34 year-old man, we’re supposed to believe wants a mature older woman, just made a middle school joke (and if I don’t approve of it from middle school boys, then why would I want that in my romance novel?) 

 So, yeah, I didn’t like that at all. And honestly it soured my whole perspective on the rest of the book.   Turns out the best part about it was the cover.  

My Idea of Fun Rapture May 21st, 2011

Wow, it's been a busy few weeks leading up to the 'Rapture' - which didn't happen, but look at the output that did! I had the pleasure of working with Dan Oatman on his release (which led to the creation of my release, and a new obsession with bookmaking) as well as giving my 2 cents for the Tech Ep mixes (both solicited and unsolicited).  It was great to see 3 tables full of work, and more online, including some projects that have been in the works for years.  Good Job everybody!

Digital Collages

They only exist on the scanner bed for a few minutes
 then it's back to the folders, binders, piles 
from which they came.

Mom and the Half Notes

"After the Ashes" - Cheryl Howe - 2003

Sometimes things work on what I like to call the 'poached egg principle' - the universe keeps throwing weird little quirks of repetition at you - so, it figures that the next books outside of Mary Balogh's Huxtable series would also have iconic (to me at least) television character names.  The H/H of "After the Ashes" names are (see picture) that's right, "Christopher and Lorelai." It may or may not be on purpose, but when I googled Gilmore Girls 2003, the year this novel was published, images of "Gilmore Girls" Season 4 came up - that's the season where Luke and Lorelai finally kiss and begin a relationship - do we have a Luke hater here?  Or perhaps an early draft was written around the very likable Chris in Season 2?  Or perhaps it has nothing to do with the tv show at all, as the actor who plays Chris, David Sutcliffe is very charming, but in no way does he resemble the hero in "After the Ashes" a West Point Grad, Union Captain and bad ass bounty hunter.   
As for the book separate from my second favorite television show, it was a big let down.  Granted, Howe's debut novel came from my DIK review list of books to look for, so I had high expectations, too high it seems.  Despite a ridiculous setup and an interaction that felt like a scene straight of a "Longarm" novel - I was very much enjoying the first half of the book.  It went way downhill from there.  It felt a bit like the 90's novels of Jude Devereaux, sacrifices for no reason, forced misunderstandings, and relationships built almost exclusively around sex and mistrust.  I found another review on The Romance Reader which only gave "After the Ashes" three hearts, and listed quite a few of the same issues I had, so now I'm going to take some time searching for a second opinion of all those books I'm looking for.  

April Leftovers - Orange