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What Jayne is reading/watching in early September

Courting the Enemy by Renee Ryan – I liked the first book in this inspie WWII series but even 1/3 of the way through this one still hadn’t got off the ground for me. When I read a book about espionage and spies during wartime, I expect some action. Perhaps I didn’t wait long enough but the part I did read was all multiple pages of characters wondering about each other followed by boring dialogue then more think, think, think time. The final nail in the coffin was a scene in which the heroine turns into an angst bunny and boohoos to the hero, whom she just recently met, about how she thinks she responsible for her cheating husband’s death. They had accidentally met at a nightclub and she could just *see* in his eyes the sudden realization that he was cheating on her which then drove him to get upset which caused him to crash his car. No sweetie, I’m sure he already *knew* he was cheating on you while he was boinking his mistress. DNF

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Spellcast by Barbara Ashford – Despite the tart humor – which I loved – and the insights into theater and summer stock – which I also enjoyed – this one started to flag when the romance and PNR elements got ramped up halfway into it. It sank further as the heroine becomes a Mary Sue who turns out to be *the one* of all the people the hero’s known over lengthy years, who will break a curse. Sorry but I never got why *she’s* special enough to achieve what must be achieved. Plus by the end I felt I was being conked over the head with all the parallels between her life, the other cast members/staff and the musicals being staged. By the last third of the book, the actions of the staff became smothering in a creepy way. Then comes a revelation about the relationship between two of the characters which is ghastly. The ending happens as it seemed destined to but, though I can understand that, I wanted even a glimmer of a romance on the horizon for Maggie. Oh, and the last 30 pages of the book seemed like endless plot point wind up time. D

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40 Tons of Trouble by Connie Flynn – I picked this Harlequin Treasury book up because it’s got a trucker heroine. Make that an 18 wheeler (long haul) trucker heroine. Lots of info about that but, man alive, is this woman stubborn. She needs to be in this he-man’s world but she also needs some sense knocked into her at times. Full review to follow.

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Fool’s Paradise by Tori Phillips – This is another Harlequin Treasury – this time from the Historical line. I had heard this author’s name mentioned in the late 90s/early 2000s as one who used Renaissance settings and had always wanted to try one of her books. The Tudor setting is well utilized but “Everybody Loves (the heroine) Elizabeth.” I mean just about every male in the book falls under her spell. Plus I had hoped the book would end with the commoner hero remaining just that – a commoner. Alas not. Full review to follow.

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What’s up for me next? Well I’ve got a contemporary about matchmaking, another about two doctors in a small town, a third with an HIV positive hero or a historical set in Africa to pick from. Stay tuned for the results.

*****

The Singing Revolution – this is about how Estonia was a free nation before WWII and how the aftermath of the war put an end to that for 60 years. Each year a vast number of its citizens meet for a national singing festival that exemplifies their heritage and pride in their country. When Glasnost opened the door to possibly overthrowing their Soviet overlords, regular citizens banded together, dared to dream and boldly pushed for their freedom. I will admit to having only cursory knowledge about Estonia before watching this documentary but profound admiration for them after finishing it.

Stephen Fry in America – this is a two disc trip with Fry as he drives through (though he flies to Alaska and Hawaii) each US state. I think it’s a good thing to occasionally see your own country through a foreigner’s eyes and Fry is a delightful traveler. With only about 6-8 minutes to spend on each state, some of them unfortunately get shortchanged – especially as he spends 14 minutes each on Alaska and Hawaii for some reason – and the things he picks to see are strange in some cases – all of Ohio’s time is spent on the Kent State shootings – but I like that he is so open to everything he sees and the people he meets. He wants to enjoy it all though he doesn’t hesitate to say when he finds something disappointing. Each disc is almost 3 hours long but the time seemed to fly.

Pageant – this is another documentary. Seems I’ve rented a lot of those lately. Watch 50 men don their best wigs, dresses and makeup as they vie for the Miss Gay America crown. One interesting fact I learned is that the contestants don’t actually have to be gay to enter. o-O Anyway, the time and effort they spend on their costumes – and makeup – is nothing short of amazing while the talent part of the evening is fabulous. This is an event none of them take lightly and all of them passionately want to win.

A Town Called Panic – this is a Belgian animated film and I won’t even attempt to try and describe the plot. “Tag along for the small-town adventures of plastic toys Cowboy (voiced by Stéphane Aubier), Indian (Bruce Ellison) and Horse (Vincent Patar) when they buy 50 million bricks, setting into motion a crazy chain of events at their rambling rural home. Now trekking across distant lands, they end up in another world pludged under water in this film based on the Belgian television series of the same name.” It’s a charming film though I didn’t understand the plot past the half way point. The animation is cute and the exasperated friendship shared by the three toys and their fellow townspeople is infectious.

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

12 Comments

  1. Brie
    Sep 17, 2011 @ 10:58:57

    What’s the title of the one with the HIV positive hero? You made me curious about it, at least sounds original but who knows, right? It might be a disaster.

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  2. Emily
    Sep 17, 2011 @ 11:52:41

    I really disliked Stephen Fry in America. Of course I am a Northern person. He went to the big cities in the North and complained they were “cold and unfriendly”. Then he went to people’s home in the south and talked about how warm they are, and how warm the south is versus the north (people wise;not just climate wise.) Of course people’s homes are always warmer than city streets, no matter where you are. He did so little through out that trip that he seemed to jumping to conclusions a lot.
    I also found it strange that at one point he went to a school of forensic anthoropology, and he acted like he had never heard of forensic anthropology . He had/ has guest starred on Bones multiple times, i.e. the show where an agent of the FBI works with a forensic anthropologist. I was surprised he didn’t make the connection.

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  3. Gab
    Sep 17, 2011 @ 12:07:11

    Estonians have achieved some amazing things. As with other former Soviet countries like Ukraine, the average Westerner lumps everyone in with Russia and assumes they’re all the same. The most amazing tales of freedom and survival (and mass murder of citizens) from the last couple of hundred years come from the Baltics and Ukraine, but nobody knows them.

    Estonia is an incredible country, though depressing because every single person on the street is blond-haired, blue-eyed and impossibly gorgeous!

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  4. JL
    Sep 17, 2011 @ 17:14:58

    I think I have an unnatural and somewhat extreme dislike for Spellcast because I bought into the hype so hard. I won a copy and saved it for a few months to read on the beach on my honeymoon, and ended up with nothing good to read other than what was in the small book exchange at the hotel.

    The amount of telling versus showing drove me up the wall. The main character was shallow in her judgements of the other characters, which was off putting to the point of no redemption. And Ashford broke me absolute deal-breaker rule when it comes to describing non-white characters: ‘a cross between Kanye West, Beyonce and (someone I can’t remember)’. Seriously???? That’s not a description, that’s a cop-out. Plus, referring to other characters as Barbies (or something to that extent) and Rastas without naming them didn’t help.

    I really dislike Rowen because…
    [***SPOILER-ISH***]
    he claims to be drawing everyone to the theatre to ‘help’ them, yet fails miserably at it and still acts like a diva. Maybe that works for directors in real life, but I could never get over the icky feeling I had every time he was on page.

    All that being said, I was really grateful to read about two characters who actually weren’t the most beautiful creatures in the world. I liked that Maggie had a zit on her chin and it didn’t ruin her life.

    [**MORE SPOILER]
    And I actually liked the ending. It fit the story. I didn’t in any way want an HEA for these two or even a HFN, so the ending was a bit redeeming for me.

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  5. Jayne
    Sep 17, 2011 @ 17:37:44

    @Brie: “Bittersweet Victories” by Rachel Smith.

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  6. Jayne
    Sep 17, 2011 @ 17:40:10

    @Emily: Well, he seemed to be having a good time with the lobstermen in Maine though when I mentioned shortchanged states I was refering to Delaware and Rhode Island. He also intensively disliked Miami.

    I think the explanation of the forensic anthropology was for the benefit of the British viewers.

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  7. Jayne
    Sep 17, 2011 @ 17:44:19

    @Gab: And they can all sing so well! My cats have always winced when I sang out loud. Seriously.

    I’d love to learn more about Latvia and Lithuania as well. Hmmm, must explore dvd options at Netflix.

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  8. Jayne
    Sep 17, 2011 @ 17:48:46

    @JL: I disliked Rowan more and more as the book progressed for exactly the reasons you mentioned. Plus everyone was hovering over Rowan and seemed to let their lives revolve around him. That hovering/smothering that the staff did throughout the book drove me nuts by the end.

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  9. Jane
    Sep 17, 2011 @ 19:14:46

    @JL

    a cross between Kanye West, Beyonce

    WHAT?

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  10. JL
    Sep 17, 2011 @ 20:51:41

    @Jane:
    I can’t remember who the third famous black person was in that descriptor and am no longer in possession of the book to check, but that was the point where the book hit the lovely hotel wall. I hate the laziness of ‘he looks exactly like XXX good-looking person’ to begin with, but this one was particularly absurd and borderline offensive.

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  11. Karla
    Sep 18, 2011 @ 09:46:28

    Twelve years ago,I started dating a man whose parents were refugees from Lithuania. We got married, so I found myself learning a great deal about the country and the people. My husband has a brother and sister. They each married someone from Lithuania.My brother-in-law and his wife adopted twin girls from Lithuania. I have tried studying the language which is most closely related to Sanskrit and is difficult to learn. It was the last country in Europe to become Christian around 1385.

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  12. Jayne
    Sep 19, 2011 @ 08:32:24

    @Karla: All of these are things about the country I didn’t know so thanks for posting. The history sounds like it would be fascinating to study.

    ReplyReply

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