Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My First Review for the Blog: Chasing Fire by Nora Roberts

Okay, let me just start off by saying that I am an unapologetic fan of Nora Roberts.  Those of you that read her know that she writes formulaic fluff.  You know what else?  I don't care.  I forgive an awful lot in her books because I read them for what they are.  I like her idealized relationships, generally enjoy the biplay between her characters, and think she has a straight forward writing style that is easy to digest.  Nevermind the predictability of the plots (and this one you can see coming a mile away).

Regardless, the woman is prolific.  She generally publishes about four to five books a year; two Eve Dallas books (under the pseudonym, J.D. Robb), a stand alone book, and usually one or two of an ongoing trilogy/quartet.  It's pretty impressive.  I know people (alot of them, in fact) that don't READ four books in a year.

Her latest is a book called Chasing Fire.  It is one of the stand alone variety and is a mild departure from her normal fair.  I'll get to why I say this in a second.  First, the obligatory synopsis:  The book is about the "Zulies" of Montana.  They are smokejumpers... Firefighters with a unique method of arriving on scene... they jump out of airplanes, helicopters...  prolly the spaceshuttle if it were efficient to do so.  Our heroine, Rowan, is a high speed, go fast, low drag, no nonsense type who doesn't mess around. Well... except MAYBE with that cute new rookie Gulliver (yeah, you read that right, 'cept they call him Gul most of the time).  There are nefarious deeds afoot and general mayhem ensues.

I've glanced at the reviews at Amazon (primarily the negative ones) and there are a number of gripes about the technical nature of this book.  Nora spends a fair amount of time explaining how smokejumpers, jump smoke.  Having been active duty Army Airborne (although not a firefighter) for 3 years, I personally connected with the material.  I can vouch for the jump training scenes, and found that she did a pretty good job of capturing the pre-jump atmosphere.

That being said, it might be a bit much for the target audience (romance aficionados).  Case-in-point, there was some comparison to her previous book, The Search, with regard to this technical material (The Search involved training rescue dogs). When it came up, people were generally willing to forgive her for it / enjoyed it, cuz... well the target audience likes dogs and doesn't mind hearing about them (their words, not mine... more or less).  Both books were clearly painstakingly researched, so you can't fault her there, although I can understand if you would rather have less "how to", and more kissy face.

I didn't find that the book was short on the romance, tho.  C'mon, this IS a Nora book. Her women are strong but feminine and her men are idealized. They generally fall into bed together without much of a hitch.  Which is where I found this book was a mild departure. 

Rowan has a harder edge than most of Nora's leading women (forgive me Eve, you'll always be the queen of tough, and J.D. writes you anyway).  Rowan is somewhat rough around the edges and is dealing with some issues of her own.  The path to the bedroom isn't a monumental one, but they don't get there as smoothly as usual.  In fact, Rowan comes dangerously close to displaying <gasp> actual character flaws.  Some Amazon reviewers found her too, manly... I thought she was HOT... get it... firefighter... oh, never mind.

So, what'd I think?  I liked it alot.  It's not High Noon or Angels Fall (if you read Nora but have not read these, stop what you are doing right now and go get them, they are worth your time), but much better than average Nora. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to comment below.  If you are going to post a spoiler, however, please make sure to designate the comment appropriately so people can avoid it if they choose. Thanx!


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Book / Movie Release and Club Meeting Calendar; Blog Site Name

Hey Y'all!

Just figured out how to add a calendar to the blog!  The downside is that the source for the embeded calendar is coming from my Google Calendar account.  What this means is that y'all will not be able to make additions or changes to it ('til I figure out another way).  So if you want something added to the calendar, just email me or message me on facebook with the pertinent information and I'll add it.  I've already added several highly anticipated (by me) book and movie releases!

This morning, I discussed with Brandi, setting a recurring hard meeting date so we can plan our schedules around it.  Our thought was that if someone has something going on or can't help but schedule something on a meeting date, we can change it up as necessary, but if we don't have a target date, there will be no urgency to get the book read.  This way we can make it a priority and plan for it.

Due to the 14 hour  difference between those of us Stateside and those of us in Okinawa, I would propose that we make the meeting date the first Friday / Saturday of every month at around 7:00p.m. (U.S.) / 9:00a.m. (Okinawa).  It would probably be best to discuss this in the comments below so that everyone can see, but also feel free to call me, email me, or facebook me, and I'll pass out the info to the others.

Finally, Christine and Kayla thought we might choose a different name for the blog by combining words from each of the titles of our favorite books.  I thought that was an interesting proposition.  We can certainly give it a shot.  So post the title of your favorite book in the comments below so we know the pool of words we are working with (note: If everyone is going to post The Lord of the Rings, our pool of words is gonna be pretty small, so just assume those are also words we can incorporate into the blog name!)


Welcome to Our Online Book Club

Okay, here we go!  I've never done a blog before, let alone a collaborative one, so this should be a learning experience for all.  I'm not overly attached to the title, so if any of you have any ideas about what you would like it to be called, we can always rename it.  Suggestions are welcome.

My thought is that we can use this as a tool to better facilitate our book club.   I have several ideas, but I'm not really sure how to go about them so bare with me.  Here are some of my thoughts about how we can use this site:

* We can do reviews of other books we're reading outside the monthly selection.

* We can recommend / link our favorite writers, books, etc.

* We can schedule our meetings

* We can post discussion questions for the monthly selection

* We can post thoughts (non-spoiler) about the monthly selection and other books we are reading

* Whatever else y'all come up with.

There are a couple of major projects that I'm thinking about pursuing, but I imagine they are going to take some work to figure out.  The first is adding a forum for discussing books or whatever online via postings.  The second is podcasting.  I think at some point it would be fun to record our sessions and link them as podcasts.  Once I figure out how to go about it, we can do other podcasts on other subjects, like book reviews and stuff.

Anyway, I've taken the first step.  Don't feel like you absolutely have to contribute to the site, but at the same time don't be hesitant if you want to post something, add a section or gadget or whatever!  I'm really very excited about this little project and hope we keep it going.

Starting us off, Christine has selected The Luxe by Anna Godbersen, which looks to be a period piece for young adults set in 1899 New York.  Below is a link for more information on the book.