Sunday, July 31, 2005

My husband is driving me crazy so I went to the UBS

and bought (only) 3 books. I know, I know. I said I wasn't going to buy any more books until a made a dent in my TBR pile. But I needed to reward myself for not strangling my husband!

It has been very hot here in the Seattle area this weekend. Probably in the low 90's (but the humidity is low). My husband has been working on the landscaping in the backyard for weeks and this weekend he has really worked his tail off. But he doesn't do hot weather very well. He came in the house all hot and sweaty to take a break and proceeded to bark at me for everything that came out of my mouth! And did I bark back??? NO, I did not, so give me a medal! I don't know how I controlled myself because believe me I am a very mouthy person and I don't let him get away with shit. Maybe I figured he was on the verge of heat stoke or something but I just kept my mouth shut. He started complaining about not having any beer or pop in the fridge and that was it. I grabbed my purse and sprinted out the door (what a good wife -NOT). What I was thinking is I need a break and a comfort shop. So where did I go? The UBS of course.

Here's the three books I bought:

Blaze - Susan Johnson (this is an older one, first book in a series, I have the others and just needed this one to get started. I heard SJ's older books were her best. Boy, the cover is awful!)
Prairie Wife - Cheryl St. John (I just finished Joe's Wife and loved it. This one got a 5-heart review at TRR)
Tempting Kate - Deborah Simmons (this is part of a series too, and the only one I didn't have so now I can start it)

That's it. Aren't you proud of me? I was so restrained.

I did make it to the grocery store to get the pop and beer but that was AFTER an hour (very short time really, I could have used 2 or 3 hours) of browsing the UBS. Then I "rushed" home to give His Majesty his libations.

One Good Turn by Carla Kelly

Carla Kelly is a master at writing gut wrenching, highly charged, emotional books with a light touch of humor and sweet poignancy without being heavy handed. She excels in telling of the horror of war and especially how it affects women and children. Warning: This book is not for those who get a bit queasy when reading about the realities of battle and its aftermath. In One Good Turn we learn how some men can be horribly brutal and barbaric and yet others so incredibly kind and compassionate. Every character is three dimensional and complex.

Benedict Nesbitt (Nez), Duke of Knaresborough, is a veteran of the Peninsular War, and meets Liria Valencia and her son when he is shamed into picking them up from the side of the road during a rainstorm. Nez is traveling with his niece who has chicken pox and his butler. Miss Valencia's strength and surface calm hides deep pain and anger as she was a victim of the atrocities of war. But she courageously gets on with her life to care for her five year old son. Nez starts to suspect the horror of her past which also forces him to recall his own shameful secrets. This book is a testament to the healing power of love and is a MUST read. Go buy, beg, or borrow it any way you can and read it.

My Grade: A

Friday, July 29, 2005

Overnight Alibi by Pappano

I have a huge box of series books to read from my TBR pile and this one was the first I pulled one out and I got lucky. I enjoyed it very much. Pappano writes very meaty books in such a short number of pages. Hannah picks up Mick in a bar and takes him back to her place for a very hot night of sex. The next morning he discovers his soon-to-be-divorced wife has been murdered and he is the prime suspect. A warning to those who dislike adultery in their books, Mick has sex with Hannah knowing he is still technically married. He had not had sex with his wife in years and he had never cheated on her during that time. His wife on the other hand had cheated on him numerous times and was bitterly unhappy in their marriage. Pappano does a good job of not making the wife a complete evil bitch (but close).

Hannah also may cause problems for some readers. She owns and operaters a cheap dump of a motel and she basically prostitutes herself to sleep with Mick in order to get out from under the debt that is crippling her.

So here we have two imperfect characters. But their development to sympathetic characters works. It was obvious fairly early who the villian of the story was so the focus is totally on character development and the secondary characters.

My Grade: B+

Almost a keeper, but not quite. I only collect series books if they knock my socks off. I don't think I'll be able to write mini-reviews for all those series books in my TBR but we'll see.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

I'm freaking freezing!

I live in the beautiful green Pacific Northwest, but our summer this year has been very late in coming. Up until two weeks ago we have had almost continual rain, cloudy grey days and very cool temperatures while the rest of the country has been sweltering. I read blogs daily complaining about the heat and humidity and their lack of air conditioning (see Alyssa's blog).

Well, we final got summer and the weather has been in the high 70's, low 80's. I love it, just about perfect weather for me. I'm very comfortable, EXCEPT when I'm at work. My office is situated on the north side of the building. The south side of the building has lots of windows and in the afternoon when it heats up the air conditioner kicks into overdrive trying to keep the south side cool. In the mean time, I'm freezing my ass off!! It might as well be winter. I wear long sleeves, sweaters, and long pants. This is ridiculous. Yesterday, I was turning blue so I went out to my 100 degree car and sat there for 5 minutes to warm up!!!

So anyone who is feeling the heat come on over to my office and cool down. It's a nice 71 degrees. But if you stay any length of time you're gonna need a sweater.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Mary Balogh

I have another goal I want to accomplish in the near future. I want to reread all my Mary Balogh's. I have read every MB ever written and I have a pretty massive collection. She has written about 65 books along with assorted short stories in various anthologies. I own all but 12 of her books. When I discovered MB back in the '80's quite by chance, I found I didn't want to let them go. So started my first episode of glomming.

Why do I want to reread them? The other day I saw a discussion on a message board about MB favorites and I realized I had no clue (except for the two listed below). I have read every one of her books but I can't remember much about most of them. So I'm going to reread and grade them so I can at least come up with a complete favorites and least favorites list.

Before I get started I know these are on my favorites list:

The Notorious Rake (reread this dozens of times - probably my all time favorite)
Snow Angel

Flirting with Danger by Suzanne Enoch

I have read books in the past that involved thieves and I must say they just didn't set well with me. The one that comes to mind is Hidden Riches Honest Illusions (Roberts). There was such a carefree, unapologetic attitude to their "business" that just made me uncomfortable. Like it was just another business and they were proud of it. Huh? They were stealing to make a living and one step away from possibly going to prison. And they were raising their children into the business. Maybe that's where my personal ethics really kicked in. It's one thing to steal, but it's just wrong to get your kids involved.

Anyway, Samantha from Flirting with Danger is also a thief. But somehow in this book it works for me. Sam started stealing because her father was a thief and trained her in the business from a young age. Her mother had thrown her father out of the house when Sam was about five and he took her with him. I would have liked more details about this but not much was explained. Her father died in prison and Sam is pretty much alone with a only a few thief friends.

Sam meets billionaire Rick when she breaks into his Florida mansion. She discovers a trip wire for a bomb just before she is caught by Rick. The bomb goes off and Sam saves Rick's life. What follows is a rather convoluted story about discovering who was trying to kill Rick and steal from him (there was another thief in the house that night) and I had difficulty following it. What saves the story is the emotional bond that develops between Sam and Rick. And the sex was hot! I like how Sam's character develops and the epilogue was great. The author's note mentions that Sam and Rick's story will continue in another book. I'll definitely be reading it!

My Grade: B

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Must read before year end

Hmm, OK, here are the 2005 books I absolutely have to read before the end of the year:

Hot Target (Brockmann) Grade = B-
Breaking Point (Brockmann) Grade = B+
My Surrender (Brockway) Grade = DNF
Dark Queen (Carroll) Grade = B+
Killing Time (Howard) Grade = B+
Origin in Death (Robb) Grade = B
Black Ice (Stuart) Grade = A
The Marriage Bed (Guhrke) Grade = B
The Devil to Pay (Carlyle) Grade = B+
One Night of Sin (Foley) Grade = C+
Ride the Fire (Clare) Grade = A-
Match Me If You Can (SEP) Grade = A
His Secondhand Wife (St. John) Grade = B+

I think there may be a few more that haven't made it to my spreadsheet yet.

Update (11/4/2005): Making progress - should be able to make this goal before the end of the year!

Update (12/29/2005): I going to make it! Almost finished with The Devil To Pay.

Updatge (1/1/2006): Yay! Finished them all!

Tackling Mt. TBR

I have set a goal for myself to whittle down my TBR pile. I have over 260 books cluttering up my spare bedroom on bookshelves and in boxes. This means I won't be buying more books for a while (sob)! This idea has gradually come to mind due to the fact that this pile is getting to be an embarrassment.

I have about 30 books from 2005 on my TBB list. This is really killing me. Maybe I should compromise a bit and read an occasional 2005 book. OK, new plan. Goal: Read (2) books from my TBR pile for every (1) new (2005) book. Let's see how this goes.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Over the Edge by Suzanne Brockman

Over the Edge is the fourth book of Brockmann's Troubleshooters series with Navy SEAL Team Sixteen and features multiple storylines and multiple characters that make it difficult to follow what the hell is going on sometimes. I "read" this as a book-on-tape on my trips to and from work and maybe that was part of the problem.

Anyway, I counted four (4) separate storylines:

Annebet & Herschel (WWII story)
Sam & Alyssa
Max & Gina
Stan & Teri

However, Brockmann delivers an intensely emotional book for all these characters and more. And the action is non-stop and centers around an airplane hijacking in a country called Kazbekistan, nicknamed the Pit. There is only one HEA storyline, but I'm assuming there will be HEA's for the other characters in upcoming books (except the WWII story which I felt was unnecessary and a bit distracting). Be warned though that the violence was also intense a couple of times and very real. Not "romance novel pretty". One scene was especially gut-wrenching.

I highly recommend this book and look forward to others in the series.

My Grade: A-

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Two Brockmann's


Just finished Everday, Average Jones and Over the Edge by Suzanne Brockmann. EAJ is a SIM series romance, the fourth book in her Tall, Dark and Dangerous series. Melody Evans is one of three hostages in an American embassy in some unnamed foreign country when she is rescued by Harlan "Cowboy" Jones and the rest of his Navy SEAL team. They have a steamy six day affair in Paris after which Melody says goodbye without looking back. But Harlan can't stop thinking about her so seven months later he contacts her. She doesn't want to see him, but he is persistent and eventually locates her in the small town of Appleton. And low and behold, he finds out she is pregnant.

This is where I got really annoyed. One of my pet peeves is women who find out they are pregnant and never contact the guy. She is going to be all brave and strong and have this baby on her own. He has a right to know! But as the story goes on I begin to see her point. I think a Navy SEAL would make a lousy husband to tell the truth. They have to pick up and leave at a moments notice, can't tell you where they are going, can't contact them, and they may be gone for weeks even months. My husband traveled for a job once and every time he was gone that's when the worst things would happen (problems with car or sick kids). "Cowboy" is very hard to get rid of and he sticks around trying to convince her what a good husband and father he will make and they fall in love. Melody seemed to take too long to come around and I wanted to shake her sometimes. But I really enjoyed this book in spite of her stubborness mainly because Cowboy is a wonderful hero.

My grade: B

Review of Over the Edge to follow.

Friday, July 22, 2005

How I started my romance reading "habit"

I'm not exactly sure how I got started reading exactly, but I remember that my siblings (2 sisters and 1 brother) called me "bookworm". This was meant as the ultimate insult. You know how name calling between siblings is one of your best weapons. If you want to really zing them, you call them the worst thing you can think of. We were a very active bunch but being the oldest I considered them a bit childish and a bit beneath me. After all, I was a whole year older than the next in age. I'm sure I was stuck up and a snob and they probably resented my attitude. One way for me to shut them out was to climb the big sycamore tree in the backyard and read to my heart's content. But the truth I recognize today is that I am somewhat of a loner. I still get a bit overwhelmed by large groups of people and feel the need to go off by myself.

Anyway, forget the pschological analysis. I have been a voracious reader from an early age maybe initially as an escape from my rather noisy, boisterous family. My mother worked outside the home from the time I was about 5 years old onward. During the summertime we had babysitters but I think I was about 11 when Mom decided I was mature enough to be "in charge" of the rest of the bunch for the whole summer. It boggles the mind when I think about that. You couldn't do that today but we lived in a largish small town and mom and dad had no worries about our safety. I sort of bossed the rest of the bunch into getting the chores done and we rode about town on our bikes the rest of the time. We rode daily to the local swimming pool and spent hours there. My point of this long ramble is that I made sure we also rode our bikes every week to the library. I would check out a large stack (the maximum that would fit in my bike baskets) every week. I remember being absolutely thrilled when asking the librarian how many books I could check out at once and she said there was no limit! Wow, I was in heaven!! I don't remember exactly what kinds of books I checked out but I do remember finding a section of lots of doctor/nurse stories that I was particularly happy with.

When I was about 15 and in high school my friend Katie grabbed my arm while we were in the school library and dragged me over to the section of books by Mary Stewart and told me I MUST read these books. Well, I read Nine Coaches Waiting and loved it. From there I went on to read everything I could find by her. Then I discover Victoria Holt, Phyllis Whitney, and some other gothic type books. But I eventually figured out that the most appealing part of these types of books was the romance element. Finding books with romance became my primary goal from that time on.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

First Blog

Well, I don't know what the hell I'm doing yet but I'll figure this blogging thing out eventually. I am starting this blog so I can record my thoughts and musing about subjects pertaining to books I read. I might possibly write some mini-reviews too. Depends on my time and inclination. I'll also throw in time to time some thoughts and personal opinions on my life and society in general. My politics might even sneek in here occasionally since I'm very opinionated. I'm a liberal and a feminist and proud of it.

I frequently blog other romance readers and envy their ability to articulate so well on what they think about what they read. This blogging thing is just journaling and journaling takes practice. I figure I'll get better at it as I go along and my writing skills will get better. I used to be a pretty good writer in college but I have gotten rusty. I'll try not to bore myself and others.