Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Excuse the mess

I'm really beginning to hate the colors on my blog. So I have been browsing around the web looking for templates but haven't found anything I like. I have been teaching myself HTML and CSS so maybe I'll be able to make some changes myself.

In the next few days (or weeks) I'll do a bit of experimenting. Hopefully, I won't screw things up too badly so excuse the mess when you see it. OK, I know what you're going to say...I WILL save my existing template to my desktop just in case....

I would really like to change my banner but that looks like it might take a spot of artistic creativity of which I have none.

Sperm Displacement Devices

To prove I'm a Smart Bitch (I have the crown to prove it - see sidebar) here's a link to a noteworthy article about penises in animals that I found hysterically funny. The article based on scientific research debunks myths regarding female promiscuity.

Carnal Knowledge/Upending ideas on the 'sluts' of the world

Favorite quote:

When the male honeybee .... mates with a queen, he leaves his penis stuck inside her, blocking entry for anyone else. The rest of his body explodes.


LMAO!

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Carved in Stone by Vickie Taylor

I read very few paranormal romances because I'm such a left brain person that the practical side of me just doesn't get them most of the time. But once in a while I read a review or hear buzz that catches my interest enough to try one. Carved in Stone had an unusual premise involving shapeshifting gargoyles. I was intrigued so I decided to buy it and I was not disappointed.

Nathan Cross is a thousand year old gargoyle who shapeshifts into a griffin, a beast with the head and wings of an eagle and the body of a lion. Gargoyles are immortals who reincarnate over numerous lifetimes. They have two primary missions 1) to protect humans from harm and 2) to procreate. Nathan is an art history professor living his 14th life and is very tortured by events in his past lives.

Rachel Vandemere is an agent for Interpol (an international police organization) who witnessed her parents' murder by monsters when just a small girl. She is obsessed with cases that involve what appear to be eyewitness accounts of monsters and has compiled files of these crimes in hopes of discovering who murdered her parents.

Nathan and Rachel first meet in an art exhibition and eventually learn that they have a psychic connection that I found to be highly erotic and filled with sexual tension. Their first encounter during a dream sequence when they weren't even in the same building was sizzling! Nathan fights his attraction and his driving need to procreate for much of the book. So when they finally get together it was very satisfying.

The story of how the society of gargoyles began a thousand years ago was fascinating. The mystery and suspense was well done. There were even a couple surprises that I didn't see coming in the final few pages. I like when that happens.

I had a little trouble following the 'rules' of their society and couldn't quite understand some of the details pertaining to reincarnation. But these were very minor quibbles. A very good read.

My Grade: B+

The sequel to CIS (Flesh and Stone) is coming in April January 2006 and I will be looking for it. The hero for this sequel, Connor, was a bad character in CIS (Spoiler: He tries to forceably mind-rape Rachel at one point) so I will be interested in how she turns him around.

P.S. Found a picture of the cover. Very nice :)

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Reading more than one book at a time

I've been trying to read three books at a time and it's not working too well.

I don't do this very often, but when I'm impatient to start something I have been looking forward to, I just think I'll pick it up and read one chapter. That's not really a good thing because then if I'm really loving it I forget to stop at one chapter. When I go back to my original book I have to backtrack a bit to figure out what's going on. I'm an idiot.

Here's the three books:

Into the Night (Brockmann) - audio book I'm listening to in the car. I like some parts and hate other parts (Sam is a JERK and a lousy husband) ::sigh::
Carved in Stone (Taylor) - shapeshifter paranormal about gargoyles (enjoying it very much)
Passion (Valdez) - whooheee, I'm loving it. Boy, I'm sure learning some new vocabulary! Never heard some of these terms before. Where have I been?

I've decided to put down Passion until I finish Carved in Stone since I'm further along with CIS and save Passion for 'dessert.' But I think it might kill me.

Last night I started watching the movie Loves Enduring Promise on DVD. It's a continuation of Love Comes Softly which I enjoyed very much. LEP is not as good though. While the h/h are very attractive, their acting skills are a bit stiff. But it's nice story so I'm going to finish it.

That's all for now.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Regency Chick Lit?















Here's a cover that caught my eye. Yeah, looks like regency chick lit. I was browsing on Amazon today looking for .. I don't know what... when I spotted this book cover for a new Zebra Regency Romance. I have never seen anything like it! Not bad looking, well except I don't care for pink on an orange background, and that tail thingie on his behind. Oh, well, never mind. Isn't Zebra the publisher that is going to stop publishing regency?

Anyway, I don't plan on buying it since I don't read regency anymore (NO SEX), except for an occasional re-read of older Mary Balogh. I guess I've been out of the loop where new trends in regency covers have been happening.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Confessions of a Lingerie Addict by Jennifer Ashley


Back in 2003 I read Jennifer Ashley's The Pirate Next Door and enjoyed it very much. Many of my favorite authors have been leaving historical romance behind to ride the current trend toward writing contemporary, chick lit, or other genres. While I have not been ecstatically happy about this, I'm willing to give them a try if these books have some element of romance. So when I saw this lovely book cover with the cute Victoria's Secret-like bag and read a good review over at AAR, I thought "why not". Unfortunately, I was disappointed.

COALA is marketed as a contemporary romance. Brenda, a DJ for a San Diego radio station, tells the story in first person POV. Nick is also a DJ for a competitor's radio station. They 'meet' when both wake up in bed together after a wild party with too much booze. The book goes downhill from there.

Brenda is extremely insecure and afraid of relationships so after waking up in bed with Nick, she goes on a wild buying binge of fancy women's underwear: bras, corsets, thongs, garters, stockings, bustier, etc. The reasoning behind this never made sense to me. I just did not see the connection. Brenda with her insecurities, fears, and underwear fetish was just plain irritating. I have no patience with women in contemporary romances who don't have a spine. I kept waiting for her to tell off her boss (a real jerk), her controlling ex-boyfriend, and grab onto a good thing like her relationship with Nick. But no, she's afraid!

Our hero Nick was a problem for me as well. Brenda confesses her love to Nick at least three times. He doesn't believe her. What? I don't get this. Nick was the most flip-floppy 'hero' I have come across in a long time. He breaks up with her twice in the course of this book and I wanted to strangle him. Part of the problem may have been the 1st-person POV since we never get inside his head.

In fact, I pretty much wanted to murder every character in the book. Especially David, Brenda's brother, who was the most immature, self-involved twit. He and Brenda's continual childish squabbling was so bad they rivaled the squabbles between my two kids when they were in junior high school. I wanted to smack them both upside the head. The rest of the 'quirky' characters were just plain annoying.

Brenda's mother started an affair with her son's friend Jerry who was 18 years younger than her! You know I really like older woman-younger man stories but this one just was icky! I think that's because it was handled so badly by her mom and Jerry. Here's a bit of advice: If you're going to mess around with a man young enough to be your son, be sure your children don't catch him coming our of your bedroom in his sexy red bikini underwear. Bad form.

What did work for me? Well, the story flowed very smoothly and was a fast read. The dialog was snappy (even when irritating) and never boring. Oh, and I love the cover!

My Grade: C-

I have Perils of the Heart in my TBR. I'm hoping this one is better.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Movie MeMe via Misty G

Misty tagged me for this and I worked diligently to come up with some answers.

Last film I watched:

Being Julia with Annette Bening. The first half-hour into it I almost put it back in the envelope to mail back to NetFlix but I stuck with it. I didn't care for the time period (1930s) but I loved the ending. Revenge is sweet!

Five favorite films I either watch frequently or that mean a lot to me:

When Harry Met Sally – I love romantic comedy and this one is my favorite. Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan are great and I loved the little skits with the elderly people talking about how they met.
My Fair Lady - the very first VHS I ever owned. I love Audrey Hepburn, Rex Harrison was the perfect Henry Higgins, and I loved the costumes and the music: Get Me to the Church on Time, I Could Have Danced All Night, and With a Little Bit o' Luck.
To Kill a Mockingbird - I remember seeing this as a little girl at the drive-in theatre (I’m showing my age here) in the 60's during the civil right movement and it really made an impression on me. And Gregory Peck... wow, need I say more?
Pride and Prejudice (the A&E version) - Can I count this? I know it's a TV movie but I have watched it probably a dozen times. All 6 hours of it. Goes along with the dozen or so times I have read the book.
Moonstruck – I told you I’m a sucker for romantic comedy and have watched this one many times. The best part of the movie is the final kitchen scene. Every line, word, and expression is a masterpiece. I think I have it memorized. It was so well cast and I laugh every time I watch it.

Honorable Mentions:
The Shawshank Redemption - there is something so uplifting about this movie.
Raiders of the Lost Ark – non-stop action with Harrison Ford. And I hate snakes too.

Worst film you've ever had to endure:

Dr. T & the Women. Abso-f***ing-lutely horrible. Richard Gere stinks!

Favorite movie quote:

This was a tough one for me since there are so many I love. I really liked the one from Kevin Costner’s character in Bull Durham, but AngieW already used it. I settled on this one from the final kitchen scene in Moonstruck:
Rose: Do you love him, Loretta?
Loretta Castorini: Aw, ma, I love him awful.
Rose: ::sigh:: Oh, that’s too bad.

Favorite movie adapted from a book:

To Kill a Mockingbird – loved the movie and loved the book.

One book I'd like to see made into a movie:

Has to be Naked in Death. But I’m very leery that Hollywood can pull this off and I’m afraid they'll probably ruin it.

People to tag with this meme:

Hmmm. How about Nicole?

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Blogger MSWord plug-in

After the fiasco of my last review when I lost everything and had to reconstruct the entire post, I went looking on the blogger help page. I remembered seeing something about a free Word plug-in. Sounds good to me. It gives you a tool bar for Word that has buttons for Settings, Open Post, Save as Draft, and Publish.

Sounds perfect. Except for one small problem... you must have MS Word 2000 or higher. And I'm still using Word '97. When I was a student at UW, Microsoft was giving away free software hand over fist to the comp. sc. majors and I got a bunch of stuff including Word '97. Now I'm just too cheap to go buy the latest update. We have the latest at work, of course, but Microsoft has over-engineered Word to the point where doing the simplest things drives me crazy. I have a real problem with font and formatting changes jumping around. grrr.

I suppose I could beg one of my MS friends to buy it for me at the employee discount price, but it's probably got an inflated footprint and will use up what's left of my hard drive. Then I'll need a new computer. Well, for the time being I'll just use Word and copy and paste.

****** Wow, it happened again, only this time my entire computer crashed when I hit Save as Draft. Bizarre! When I re-booted it did a checkdisk and the whole time my heart is thumping and I'm realizing I have not done a backup on my computer in quite a while. So basically, I freaked out! Well, at least blogger saved my post. And everything is good on the computer, but I wonder if my hard drive is failing. Well, crap. *******

If it's not one thing it's another. ::sigh::

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Ride the Fire by Pamela Clare

OK, it's official. After looking through my spreadsheet I have concluded that this is the best 2005 book I have read this year. I loved it. Set in pre-Revolutionary War America Ride the Fire tells the story of two very tortured people. But I must first issue a warning. The prologue was so gruesome and graphic that I had to read it with my eyes closed. You know what I mean. I had to skim through parts of it, but it was worth persevering.

Elspeth (Bethie) is a recently widowed and hugely pregnant young woman left alone in the wilderness of the Ohio valley when her older husband dies. She knows she cannot go back to civilization until after her baby is born. Nicholas has been living in the wild for six years after his torture at the hands of the Wyandot Indians. He severely injures himself and finds Bethie's homestead in the woods. He demands she help him and then passes out at her doorstep. Bethie stitches him up and nurses him back to health. Nicholas repays her while he heals by protecting her, helping with the homestead, and delivering her baby. The love that develops between them is sweetly erotic with lots of sexual tension.

Bethie is haunted by her abuse at the hands of her step-brother and step-father. Nicholas is haunted by his abuse and torture at the hands of the Wyandots. Both of them must overcome their fears and learn to trust the other. Bethie is a strong, wonderful heroine. But Nicholas is a hero to die for. When he thinks that her dead husband had abused her, he wanted to dig up his bones and kick them around. Right there he completely won my heart. There is lots of action based on true events which I found fascinating since I'm a bit of a history buff. But the action takes second place to this wonderful story of healing love. Nicholas' final speech to Bethie is heart stopping and will make you sigh in contentment. I think I'll go read that again.

My Grade: A

I have one quibble that does not effect the grade. The cover is so wrong! For two reasons: 1) covers with bare-chested men should go the way of the dinosaur, and 2) Nicholas was cruelly tortured and horribly scarred on his chest. Every time I looked at the cover I wanted to put a shirt on this guy. But don't let this stop you from getting this book.



AAAARRRRRGGGGG &#$&##%%# Blogger - This is the second writing of this review. Blogger ATE it. And the first one was SO much better *cries*. It's 1:00 am and I'm bleary-eyed. OK, Rosario, what was the name of that program??? You know what I'm talking about.

Additional note: I corrected the crappy spelling in this thing. I don't write well a one o'clock in the morning.

Random Stuff

I don't have much to blog about today. I'm trying to finish up Ride the Fire by Pamela Clare and loving it. A great book with two very tortured souls set in an unusual time period of pre-Revolutionary War America. And the hero is to die for! I'll try to write a short review later.

Don't you just love the little image in my profile? It's one of Raphael's cherubs from the Sistine Chapel. I took an Art History class in college as an elective because I needed a break from all those computer and math theory classes and it made quite an impression on me. Sometime in my life I must get to Italy and see Florence and the Sistine Chapel. I have seen these little cherubs almost everywhere I go. They're on mugs, T-shirts, and I think I even saw them at Target on something. Anyway, I love them.

What else? Oh, cleaned out Mt. TBR a bit. Found a Blaze called Scent of a Woman by Jo Leigh that looked good so I pulled it out to put in my nightstand pile of what to read next.

Pretty slow today.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Danielle Steele is a waste of book shelf space!

I promised myself that I would keep ranting to a minimum but I'm going to explode. My second favorite UBS (Half Price Books) has a whole section of Danielle Steele shelved with the romances. What's up with that? That is utter crap. I have read a couple of her books in the days when I hunted through library stacks looking for romance and they are NOT romance by any stretch of the imagination.

It just makes me furious because they have boxes of overflow all around the romance section for books they can't get on the shelves. I think a bunch of guys work at this place and of course they have HUGE sections of fantasy/horror/true crime/science fiction. And a big section of lit-tri-chur which is really just general fiction, baby. If fact, they stick all kinds of crap in romance that isn't. And Dean Koontz??? There's a shelf of those. Did/does he write romance? I doubt it.

OK, end ranting. Whew, I feel better now that I got that off my chest.

Ten Big Ones by Janet Evanovich

This book was MOS from Stephanie Plum. She's still blowing up cars. She's still broke all the time. She's still undecided between Ranger and Joe. She's still doing TSTL things that put her life in danger. But, damn it, they're funny! This series is not romance and not mystery. Just plain comedy.

I read this one as usual as a book on tape narrated by C. J. Critt. As I have said before, that's the major reason why I continue to read this series. Her voices for Lula, Grandma Mazer, and various assorted characters are wonderful to listen to, and I can't help myself, I laugh out loud. Literally. I have become a danger to drivers everywhere in the Seattle area. I miss turns, forget where I'm going, stop at yellow lights (so I can listen longer in the car), and laugh hysterically while sitting at red lights causing looks from nearby drivers. There were a couple of times I was laughing so hard the tears were dripping out of my eyes.

I don't think there was anything new in the "love" triangle going on between Stephanie, Joe, and Ranger. But we did get to see where Ranger lives (well one of them) and that was cool. I think Lula has some of the best lines. I wish I could talk with her sass and wit. One of these days I'm going to list my favorite Lula quotes here. I would love to see this series made into a movie. I'll have to think about who I'd like to see play Stephanie, Joe and Ranger. Lula, too. Any ideas?

My Grade: B

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Test Plan HELL

As a software test engineer, I enjoy abusing software to find ways to break it. But before you can test software you have to write a test plan. Right now I'm in test plan HELL. Until I actually have something to test most of my day is dedicated to writing these dull technical documents. MS Word is NOT my friend. But I will admit that I write a kick-ass test plan. At our last test plan review meeting mine came out on top. It wasn't a contest, of course, just a sharing of ideas. My test plan will be used as a template for others to copy when writing new test plans. (Can you tell I'm bragging here?)

My point is that I can write dull technical documents, but expressing opinions in a thoughtful, entertaining way is much more difficult and just not my strength. But that's OK. We all have our own strengths. I appreciate that there are others out there to bring up interesting, entertaining and thought-provoking subjects on their blogs. Keep it coming! I get paid to write the dull boring stuff and that's fine with me.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Till Next We Meet by Karen Ranney

It's taken me a while to figure out how I feel about this book, but the longer I think about it the less I like it. Catherine marries Harry who's a complete ass; a gambler, womanizer, and fortune hunter. After one month of marriage he can't wait to get away from her and he buys a commission in the army. He writes beautiful letters home to Catherine and she falls in love with him through the letters. He dies. Here's the Big Secret (not a spoiler). Moncrief, Harry's commanding officer has been answering her letters not Harry. Harry could care less about his wife (or is that couldn't care less, I never know which is correct). She goes into a major depression, becomes addicted to laudanum, and takes an overdose.

Moncrief arrives in the nick of time. Saves her by dunking her is a bath of cold water, sees her naked which compromises her, and marries her while she is still in a drugged stupor. The whole plot is implausible as hell. She wakes up with him in her bed. No reaction, nada... OK, maybe if she is still under the effects of a powerful drug like laudanum I can maybe see this. But he carts her off almost immediately to his family home (a castle - he's a duke). She won't consummate the marriage. He agrees to wait a month but insists they still sleep together in the same bed (*rolls eyes*).

Amazingly, I thought it was very well written and the story never dragged. At first I thought Catherine was the real problem with this book but her story is fairly believable. Harry could have made himself very charming to fool unsuspecting women. Moncrief is the problem here. Why doesn't he reveal himself as the author of the letters soon after he marries her? After all, if you find someone who blandly accepts waking up in bed with a complete stranger, being forceably married, and hauled off to a strange home without a squeak of protest then why not reveal a little thing like writing a few letters in her husband's name? In the meantime more secrets are revealed when Catherine discovers what a bounder Harry is from people who knew him before he died. Murder plot inserted here.

My Grade: C- (should have been lower but I gave points for her writing style and moving the plot along at a decent pace.)

I can't recommend it but I can recommend some Ranney's books I liked better: Upon a Wicked Time, After the Kiss, and My Beloved.

BTW, I took My Surrender (Brockway) back to the library. My Grade: DNF

Julian Beever is an English artist

You've probably seen these before but I thought they were cool!

Julian Beever is an English artist who's famous for his art on the pavement of England, France, Germany, USA, Australia and Belgium.

It's particularity? Beever gives to his drawing an amorphousness, his images are drawn completely diforms which give a 3 D image when viewing on the right angle . See for yourself it's amazing !!!

Here's more if you're interested: http://users.skynet.be/J.Beever/pave.htm








Friday, August 12, 2005

Demise of the Traditional Regency

The most recent ATBF at AAR discusses traditional regency romances. I didn't get a chance to post on the subject so I thought I would say something about it here.

In the mid '80s I discovered traditional Regency romances quite by chance at a wonderful UBS with a huge selection. Over the next 15 years or so I recorded close to 600. At that time some of my favorite authors were Mary Balogh, Diana Brown, Carla Kelly, Laura Matthews, Mary Jo Putney and Joan Wolf. I was so thrilled when Signet Super Regency line came out because they had more explicit sex. Occasionally I read a historical romance with more sex like Kathleen Woodiwiss and I liked a couple but most of them made me very uncomfortable. There was too much rape or forced seductions and adultery. A lady I worked with loaned me a Rosemary Rogers that she just loved and I HATED it. And those covers!!! Horrible. I had no one to help me pick out something good so I just stayed away from all of them.

My reading tastes have since changed drastically. Eventually, with the discovery of online review sites like AAR, I branched out to other historicals, romantic suspense, paranormals, and contemporary and mostly selected the romances from reviews and recommendations from readers. I like sex in the romances I read. I don't even read reviews that have an 'N/A' or 'Kisses' sensual ratings, and only subtle reviews if they get a high grade. I have a few traditional Regencies left in Mt. TBR and I will probably read most of them, but I won't be adding anymore for three reasons: 1) no sex, 2) most are too "light", I tend to prefer darker romances now, and 3) my favorite authors aren't writing them anymore. So I won't miss traditional romances when Zebra and Signet stop publishing them completely.

I think that the introduction of the Regency historical with more explicit sex was the beginning of the end for the traditional Regency. It was for me. I followed Mary Balogh from traditional to historical Regency and discovered more authors like Jo Beverly, Lisa Kleypas, Judith Ivory, etc. But, if they stop publishing Regency historicals, I'm really in trouble, which is a real possibility since we are seeing some historical authors move to contemporary or historical mysteries or some other genre.

Here is a partial list of my favorites (many with a 'subtle' or 'warm' rating):

Mary Balogh:
The Notorious Rake
Snow Angel
(This is a partial list. TODO: reread my keepers and grade them)

Diana Brown:
A Debt of Honor
The Emerald Necklace
The Sandalwood Fan

Gayle Buck:
Lady Althea's Bargan

Anne Gracie:
An Honorable Thief
Tallie's Knight

Carla Kelly:
Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand
With This Ring
One Good Turn
The Wedding Journey

Katherine Kingsley:
A Natural Attachment

Emma Lange:
The Cost of Honor

Dawn Lindsey:
The Reluctant Heroine

Laura Matthews:
Lord Clayborne's Fancy
Lord Greywell's Dilemma

Melinda McRae:
Married by Mistake

Mary Jo Putney:
A Controversial Countess
The Rake and the Reformer

Joan Wolf:
The Counterfeit Marriage
His Lordship's Mistress
The Rebellious Ward

I'm always open to recommendations for traditional regencies that have more sensuality than kisses. So feel free to drop me a comment.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

My Surrender is not going very well

I really can't get into My Surrender (Brockway). I read My Seduction and My Pleasure and enjoyed them giving grades of B- and B. But MS is starting to get on my nerves.

There is too much of that spying crap which I'm starting to despise. I do like the banter between Dand and Charlotte and she is one sassy lady which I like. But all that 'intrigue' is just getting tiresome. I'm on page 68 and I'm going to abandon it for now.

Can anyone who read this tell me if it gets any better? Should I try again to finish it? Otherwise, I don't want to waste more time on this so I think it's going to be a DNF (did not finish).

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Work is interfering with my reading

I used to be a stay-at-home mom with 2 kids. When my youngest was in 3rd grade I decided to finish my B.S. degree and after 6 years I ended up with a B.S. in computer science and mathematics (it nearly killed me). I immediately began a Software Test Engineer job which I loved. However, in December 2001 (right before Christmas) I was layed off and didn't find work again until March 2003. During that time I read a TON of books. Let me get out my spreadsheet... OK, I read 279 books, 222 just in 2002. Hey, no snarky remarks... I was looking for work... really...I kid you not. The whole software industry was in a slump.

Here it is August and my grand total is a measly 101 books. This working every day crap sucks. I need more time for reading! I have to remind myself that there are benefits to working. We were able to put both kids through college with no student loans and we paid off the mortgage. And I do like my job. I still have many more years of working ahead of me before I retire so I expect I'll be happy to get in maybe 125 books per year. That's still a lot of books.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The Givenchy Code by Julie Kenner

I don't know what genre this book is categorized as but from what I read I would call it a cross between chick lit and romantic suspense. Melanie (Mel) is a grad student at NYU with a BS in mathematics and history. Stryker is an ex-marine who has recently started his own security business. The plot involves a game that appears to be morphed from an on-line computer game called Play.Survive.Win where there are three players: a target, a protector, and an assassin. Of course, Mel is the target and Stryker is the protector and Lynx, the assassin is trying to hunt her down and kill her. The game is like a scavenger hunt involving clues and cyphers only with deadly consequences. The story is told partly in first person from Mel's POV and third person from Stryker's and Lynx's POV.

I loved the clues, cyphers, and cryptology aspect of this book. I have a BS in mathematics (and computer science, as well) and I was able to figure out some of the clues before the H/H (one clue involved the formulas for a circle and a line which I immediately recognized - cool!). The action was fast-paced and non-stop. I couldn't put it down and I finished it in a day. There were scores of references to designer brands (too many) and current trends. The ending seemed to be typical chick lit in that there was just a sense that they would get together again and maybe start a real relationship. Kenner's 'interview' at the end suggests that they will briefly appear in the next book, The Manolo Matrix.

My Grade: B+

Monday, August 08, 2005

Can't resist a book sale

I'm really failing at keeping my goal of reading from Mt. TBR rather than buying more books. I was at the Fred Meyer yesterday for no apparent reason (OK, I was just going to look at the book section). It's under construction ..argh.. It was a disaster area. Everything in the store was moved and I wandered around for 15 minutes looking for the book section and couldn't find it (I hate asking a clerk). On my way out the door I spotted it by the cash registers. And what do I see?... A sign for Buy 2, Get 1 FREE. (sigh) Of course, I found 3 books.

Passion (Valdez) (this is the main reason I was in FM looking for the book section)
Crimson City (Maverick)
Carved in Stone (Taylor)

If I hadn't found Passion I don't think I would have bought anything. So in actuality it cost me $14 plus tax (but I ended up with 3 books for that price so I won't whine anymore). I need to get me some more willpower.

I grabbed Men of Courage II on impulse from the library new shelf and have been trying to finish it. I read the last story by Jill Shalvis first and it was nothing special. Really just too short. That's the problem with anthologies for me. I'm not too excited to read the other two by Lori Foster and Donna Kaufmann so I abandoned it for now. Maybe I'll finish it before I return it to the library.

I just started The Givenchy Code and I'm enjoying it so far. It starts out like a chick lit type in first person and rapidly turns into a romantic suspense type. I really like the puzzle solving angle and the heroine has BS in mathematics (just like me). I'll write a review when I'm finished.

I'm listening to Ten Big Ones and LMAO. Why do I find these books so funny when most blogs and message boards and reviews complain about how tired they are of Stephanie and all her silly antics? I finally figure it out ... it's C. J. Critt. She is the reader for the books on tape and her voices and for all these characters are brilliant IMHO. The New Jersey accents, and other various cultural accents just seem so authentic to me. I have tried reading one of these books in print and it just wasn't nearly as funny.

Speaking of reviews, I really need to cut down on the length of my reviews. They are just too time consuming to do right. In the future I'll just write a brief synopsis of the story along with what I did and didn't like, then a grade.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Keishon's TBR Challenge for July

I came upon Keishon's blog a while back and spotted her TBR challenge. This challenge was to read something from your TBR pile every month. She selects a specific sub-genre (regency, contemporary, etc.) for each month. Since I have blogged about giant Mt. TBR previously, you know I have quite a selection to pick from. July's challenge was for a historical, but I only managed to knock off one historical from Mt. TBR read on 7/18/2005. It was an American historical and an excellent one:

Title and Author: Joe's Wife by Cheryl St. John
Sub-genre: American Historical set in Colorado in 1865
Copyright Year: 1999

Meg Telford is a young widow whose husband Joe died in the war leaving her to run their small ranch near Aspen Grove with only a couple of old cowboys. Her in-laws want her to sell it and move back into town to live with them. But Meg values her independence and does not want to let go of Joe's ranch. Tye Hatcher is a war veteran who returns after the war to Aspen Grove, the home of his birth. Tye grew up a bastard son of a prostitute who is now dead in order to fulfill his dream of earning enough money to start his own packing plant. The town has always treated him poorly and when he returns to town after the war they still treat him like dirt and he has a difficult time finding work of any kind. This was the only part of the story that just did not work for me. Why would anyone return to a place where he is treated like a pariah? He could have gone anywhere after the war and no one would have known his background, but instead he comes back for more punishment. Not realistic to me.

Meg has a mortgage payment due and has been selling off anything of value in order to hang onto the ranch. But her options are running out. Since she can't afford to pay any more ranch hands, she decides she needs a husband to work hard and help get the ranch financially stable. But since it's after the war, men of marriageable age are scarce. She decides to propose marriage to Tye. He will help her with the ranch in exchange she will help him with his dream of a packing plant if they make enough money. Tye feels he cannot refuse such an opportunity to realize his dream. They marry and cause quite a scandal in town.

The love that slowly develops between them is beautifully written and very emotional. Tye is a wonderful, wounded and courageous man. Although he has thoughts that he is not good enough for Meg, he shows his worth to Meg and the entire town. St. John is spare in her writing but the emotion she conveys is very powerful. Tye promises the town prostitute on her death bed to raise her daughter. So five-year old Eve comes to live with Tye and Meg. Tye is not sure who the father is but he suspects. Tye has always felt excluded and alone. When Meg confronts him about the paternity of Eve in a climatic scene near the end of the book, I went straight for my Kleenex box. Meg is also a wonderful, compassionate character. She is the only one in town who always treated Tye with respect. Slowly she comes to stop thinking of herself as Joe's wife and starts thinking of herself as Tye's wife.

I really enjoy a three hanky read occasionally and this book filled the bill. I would have graded it slightly lower due to the problem I mentioned above but those hankies raised my grade a little. Definitely a keeper. This is the first time I have read St. John and I'm looking for more recommendations for her. I recently bought Prairie Wife and I'll look for Secondhand Wife on my next book store shopping trip.

My Grade: A-

Harvard's Education by Brockmann

I have been on a serious Brockmann reading binge for a while now and I think it's time to take a break from my goal of finishing all her TDD and Troubleshooters series this year. It's not that I haven't enjoyed them. I have. Brockmann's books are always so crowded with characters that I was afraid that I would forget who they all were from book to book. But all these reviews I have recently been writing will help me so that I can pick up the next book in the series and know who everyone is. This is all part of my series OCD (it's a sickness, I know). That's the real benefit of blogging.

Harvard's Education is the 5th book in the TDD series and I liked it the best so far. In fact, I highly recommend it and it's a keeper. The two main characters are African American and Harvard and P.J. are very fully developed. Harvard is a big bad Navy SEAL and PJ is a FInCOM (sp?) agent when they are assigned to work together. Harvard's comes gradually to love, respect and regard PJ as his equal SEAL team member. I loved PJ. She is kickass, tough, strong, resilient, resourceful, highly intelligent and deserves her chance to prove herself. She is probably the best female character in all the Brockmann books I have read so far. SPOILER (highlight to view this): Only the fact that that PJ was a virgin made me consider lowering the grade for the book for an instant. But considering PJ's personality and background, it really made sense and made me believe it.

My Grade: A

OK, that makes several books in a row I have given a Brockmann book an A. I'm beginning to be afraid I sound like a fangirl. And I swear I'm not.

Here's a recap of my grading:

TDD series
Prince Joe B
Forever Blue B+
Frisco's Kid B
Everyday Average Jones B
Harvard's Education A
6 books left in the series to read

Troubleshoots series
The Unsung Hero C (disliked the WWII story and the ending)
The Defiant Hero A-
Over the Edge A-
Out of Control A
5 books left in the series to read (unless Brockmann writes another one)

Thursday, August 04, 2005

"Why Do Men Have Nipples?"

Because they have man boobs and it would look stupid without them. Don't know why this guy felt compelled to write a book about it. With this catchy title he'll probably make a million bucks.

Why Do Men Have Nipples

(Hey, look at me. I figured out how to add a link to my blog!)

I should go read something now.

Out of Control by Suzanne Brockmann

Any one who enjoys romantic suspense knows that finding a book that gets it right is not easy . So many authors sacrifice the suspense for the romance or sacrifice the romance for the suspense. Getting a balance of both romance and suspense is hard to find. Brockmann achieves this balance almost perfectly in Out of Control. This book is probably the best romantic suspense I have ever read. Hands down. I complained in my review of Over the Edge that there were too many characters to keep straight and that I hated the WWII story. But in OOC everything works right. These are the main characters:

Savannah & Ken
Molly & Jones
Sam & Alyssa
Rose & Hank (WWII)

Three of these couples have their happy ending including the WWII story (which I loved). Sam and Alyssa keep making appearances in this series of books and there is no HEA yet, but I know eventually somewhere down the line there will be one. I only have a general complaint that I wish Brockmann would wind things up faster for Sam and Alyssa. Their story is strung out over too many books. The action in OOC is non-stop and set in the Indonesian jungle. I have a huge fondness for stories set in the jungle. The dialogue was pretty crude at times but I think realistic in terms of how guys actually talk. I especially loved the dialogue between Savannah and Ken aka "Wildcard". I highly recommend this book for those who love romantic suspense.

My Grade: A

Monday, August 01, 2005

Evanovich

I was going through my spreadsheet this morning looking under the tab for Fiction (where I list everything that's not a romance) searching the WANT list, when I came across Evanovich's Ten Big Ones. WTF?? I was sure I had read this so I checked my reading log for 2004... no, not there. Then I checked the synopsis on AAR ... no, that didn't sound familiar. What happened? I have Eleven On Top on reserve at the library and I thought I was all caught up and current. I am number 64 out of 155 on the reserve list for EOT.

Shit, now I'm going to have to get my hands on TBO before I get EOT. I have this obsession (OCD I'm sure) about reading books in a series in order (I know... it's a sickness). There is always an enormous backlog of holds for these books. Shit, shit, shit. Maybe I'll have to go buy it. Is it out on paperback? Whew, I just checked the library holds for TBO and there is no backlog so I have got it on hold.

While I'm on the subject of Evanovich.. out there in romance reading land there is always much complaining about the lack of resolution of the relationship between Stephanie, Joe, and Ranger. Also, complaints abound that these books are always the same: Stephanie blows up car again, can't decide between Joe and Ranger (there are two camps in romance reader land), her immature antics, etc. Well, I think it's time to just accept it and get over it. I've come to look at these books as strictly comedy with a little murder mystery thrown in. Evanovich is never going to resolve anything with Stephanie. Just accept these books as a chance to have a good laugh and forget about Joe and Ranger. There is never going to be a HEA for
Stephanie. Of course, I see how people have come to have these expectations. Evanovich used to write romance and her romance fans have followed her switch in genre. Romance readers always like a HEA (I'm one of those too) but it's just not going to happen.

I don't know how many times I have been listening to these books on tape in the car and have almost had an accident (involving either my car or my pants). I'm laughing like a hyena while alone in the car sitting at a stop light and I'm sure people are staring at me. I don't care. These books are just plain funny. OK, they are silly too, but I love her characters. Lula, grandma, her mother and father, Vinnie, and all the assorted nut cases that populate these books. How many different ways can you blow up a car? Evidently, many, but that's part of the "charm" of these books.

I was just pondering something. How many more Stephanie Plum books do you think Evanovich has in her? OK, consider... if she is about 40 (completely pulled this out of my ass. I really have no idea how old she is) and she writes about 1 book per year, and let's say she retires when she's extremely wealthy at age 60 (another massive guess). That means she will have written over 30 Stephanie books! Of course, Stephanie will still be immature and still undecided about Joe or Ranger. Wow, what would the titles of those books be??? Twelve ?, Thirteen ?, Fourteen ?, Fifteen ?, etc.... After Twenty the titles start looking kind of stupid. Twenty-something??? Well, maybe twenty will look like a good number to stop with. We can only hope.