Monday, November 28, 2005

20 Book Things

Jay came up with this meme idea about our book quirks and then CindyS did it too. It looked like fun so I thought I would try it too but the problem is that I have a bunch of the same quirks as both Jay and CindyS. Oh, what the hell, I can't remember them now anyway. But I may have duplicated some of theirs.

1) I used to dogear pages to mark my place, even on library books (librarians hate this). But I have reformed and haven't done it in about 5 years.

2) I can never find a bookmark when I need one so I end up using grocery receipts or torn off pieces of paper from a newspaper, ad, napkin, kleenex (clean), straw wrapper, sticky note, etc.

3) I have sewn 3 books covers with a ribbon for the bookmark - two for mm paperbacks, and one for trade size and use them all the time. I'm thinking of making a couple more because they are getting worn out. Combines two of my favorite hobbies; reading and sewing.

4) I can read in the car without getting car sick (except on a really windy road - urp - excuse me).

5) I have a hard time visualizing a tall heroine. She starts out tall and after a page, she shrinks down to about 5'4" (funny thing, I'm 5'4"), then whenever the book mentions her height, she shoots up, only to shrink back after a page. This continues through the whole book.

6) I have a hard time visualizing a heroine with slim thighs (see #5). They start out slim then plump up to normal after a page, until their thighs are mentioned again. So it's plump, shrink, plump, shrink, plump ... a losing battle. (Story of my life.)

7) I keep a large Excel spreadsheet listing most of the books I have read, wish to read, and have in my TBR. All of these total over 2400 books. I keep a copy on my PDA (used to torment stalking bookstore owners.) I'm paranoid about losing it so I make a backup copy periodically.

8) When driving in heavy traffic, I read when I stop at stoplights. People sometimes have to honk at me but what the hell, I guess I don't care.

9) I'm very visual so book covers frequently influence my book buying decisions. I bought Goddess of Spring for no other reason than the glitter on the cover. Oooo, pretty.

10) After finishing Linda Howard's An Independent Wife, I tore it into shreds and dropped the tiny pieces into the garbage. Very satisfying.

11) I hate it when characters have names I cannot pronounce. It takes me right out of the story every time the name is mentioned.

12) I like books with pets in them, especially cats.

13) I feel guilty if I don't enjoy a book someone has bought for me as a gift so I force myself to finish it. Even if it's crap.

14) I try to avoid books with a subtle or kisses rating at AAR. I want HOT sex in the books I read (stealing this one from CindyS because it is so true).

15) I love how new books smell (eau de book ink) but I hate how the ink gets all over my fingers.

16) I sometimes buy duplicates of books that I really love to keep one as a spare 'just in case'.

17) I paid $30 for a hard to find collectible book. It's my favorite medieval romance of all time.

18) I have a huge collection of Mary Balogh books I began collecting in the '80s, probably worth a fortune now. I haven't collected the newer books though.

19) I don't have enough book shelves so most of my books are in plastic boxes.

20) Even though I continually try, I still can't break the habit of reading the last page (or chapter) of every book I read.

This was a fun exercise. Anyone else? I need some volunteers here.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Black Friday

Braved the crowds today and went shopping with the daughter at the infamous Bellevue Square Mall and didn't buy a single thing. The daughter wanted to go very badly and practically begged me to go. So I went but I dragged my feet all the way. We took my new car 'cuz husband was washing my old car in the pouring rain to get it ready to sell. Better him than me.

Turned out that the traffic was not as bad as I expected and we found a parking spot fairly quickly which is amazing. The usual jerks who wait till someone comes out to their car, loads their packages and backs out so they can grab their spot, were not in evidence. I hate those people! Just drive on, you idiot, there'll be something further on! You're just too freakin' lazy to have to walk a little further. Sorry, this is a pet peeve of mine.

I was glad I went because it was so nice to spend some one-on-one time with my daughter. We get along so well now. And I really appreciate that, since those horrid teenage years when I was the stupidest person on the planet were no fun. She bought some gifts and I bought us lunch at Panda Express. The crowds weren't bad either. We saw no long lines but we did see a few pushy women.

I pulled a book out of my TBR at random today and came up with Karen Robards' Wild Orchids. This book is a real oldie, copyright 1986, and is set in the jungle of Mexico. It's a road/cabin romance. I love both jungle and cabin romances so I'm hoping this one will be good. The hero is very alpha and carjacks the heroine in Cancun. He's very mean to her so far (OK, I admit, I peeked at the ending and it looked good so I'm going to keep reading).

Hope everyone survived Thanksgiving! I'm wishing I had some turkey leftovers, but I made a pot of Taco Soup (Bob's favorite) instead.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Flash from the Past

Oh.My.God. I'm freaking out here. I just ran to the grocery store on my lunch hour to pick up stuff for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow at my brother's. I was standing in line at a check stand when I look up and noticed the checker! AAAAACCKK, it's my old boyfriend from high school! He had quite a bit less hair and quite a bit more belly, so I checked the name badge. Yup, it was him.

So I'm thinking what do I do? I don't like surprises like that. My immediate thought was to change to another checkstand but at that point I was the only one in line and I thought that was too obvious. I know you all think I am chicken and you'd be right. Fortunately, just when I was trying to decide if I should pretend if I knew him or not, the checker next aisle over rescued me and carted my stuff off. While she is ringing up the bill I'm peaking over.. yup, yup, that's him. So I made it out of there without speaking to him.

And the memories are flooding back. He's the guy who showed me how much fun it is to snuggle two in a sleeping bag :) (OK, get you mind out of the gutter, I was only 15, and nothing happened... well, almost. He was a very good kisser ;)

Now that I'm prepared, I think I'll go back next week and say hi (pretending surprise at finding him there). Yeah, I know, I haven't matured much since I was a teenager.

Happy Thanksgiving! I love Thanksgiving. A national holiday devoted to eating plus a four day week end. I'm very lucky because my family is wonderful. We get along great and we all live within 20 miles of each other. My two sisters, one brother, their spouses, and kids with their girlfriends and boyfriends, and my dad and his girlfriend (love her) will all be there (about 17 of us). We laugh, joke, tease, and torment each other in good fun. After dinner we clean up then sit around the dining room table and play dice, or cards, or a game. The party usually breaks up around midnight when we all cart ourselves and the leftovers home. We all take turns hosting the big dinner and making the turkey, with everyone else chipping in the rest of the food. I'm looking forward to it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

'Hot' reads

The weather here has been foggy and cold for about a week and I can't seem to get warm today. No rain, which is good, but continuously grey and foggy. Anyway, I recently finished two books with 'Hot' in the title . I read somewhere that in the winter you should read books set where it's hot such as the desert or tropical locations because it will make you feel warmer. And alternatively during the summer read books set somewhere cold because it will make you feel cooler. Hmmm, must be psychological, but there may be some truth to that because when I really get wrapped up in a book, I block out my surroundings and practically dive into the pages :). I recently read Nance's Jigsaw set in Northern Michigan in winter with vivid descriptions of snow and frigid temperatures that made me feel chilled.

I picked up Crazy Hot by Tara Janzen because of all the buzz from other bloggers and because I had enjoyed River of Eden by Glenna McReynolds (Janzen's pseudonym). CH was slow starting out. This is the first book in the Special Defense Force (SDF - a secret special ops group) series and a bunch of characters are introduced via a letter in the first chapter. I had to keep paging back and forth to this letter to try to figure out who was who. And the action picks up speed immediately causing me some confusion. But I quickly figured out the characters and plot and it turned into a fun ride. Regan is a palentologist who is searching for her missing grandfather. She drives to Cisco, Utah, looking for Quinn Younger who she is hoping can help her locate him. Regan and Quinn have a past history. They met when they were teenagers and Quinn developed a crush and infatuation for Regan since he accidentally catches her dressing and saw her almost naked. I loved these two characters and the secondary characters as well. And the sex was HOT, loved it. I also liked how the restored turbo charged cars had girl's names and were an integral part of the plot. My car-crazy husband would like this one (if I could get him to actually read a book). Between the hot setting (temperature-wise) and hot sex, this one will warm you up on a cold winter night. My Grade: B

Hot Target is the 8th book in the Brockmann's SEAL Team Sixteen series. This one was pretty good but I'm getting a bit sick of this series. I really want to read Max and Gina's story which I believe is told in the next one, Breaking Point. After that, it's going to take some great reviews and a lot of good buzz for me to pick up the next one. HT is Navy SEAL Cosmo Richter's story with Jane Mercedes Chadwick, a movie producer and takes place while shooting a movie in California. The movie involves the story of a gay WWII hero and Jane's life is being threatened by a radical homophobe. Cosmo is one of Tom Paoletti's team assigned to protect her. I never really warmed up to Jane and Cosmo and thought these characters were a bit flat. HT also features a gay storyline with FBI agent Jules Cassidy, Robin Chadwick (Jane's brother), and Adam (Jules' former lover). I thought this story was fascinating and enjoyed it more than the primary one with Jane and Cosmo. My Grade: B

Maybe the reason I've been so cold today is because I've been reading Her Body of Work by Marie Donovan which is set in Chicago in winter. Brrrrrrr. I think I better find something in my TBR pile set in the Sahara Desert or the Amazon jungle or maybe some tropical island. Oooo, that sounds good. I feel warmer just thinking about it.

Update: Just checked Brockmann's website and Book #10 in the series has a working title of Into the Storm with a tentative release date of December 2006. It's Mark Jenkin's story (whoever he is?). I'm hoping I can stay away from it, but I may need a support group.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Dedication by Janet Mullany

The cover of Dedication is deceiving because, woo doggy, for a traditional regency, this one is H.O.T. And inside the cover you will not find anything like your typical regency. Not only is this one more sensual, the complex plot was very unusual with many different threads running through it. The hero and heroine are more 'mature' than you'll find in other regencies as well; he is 43 and she is 37. To top it off, he is a grandfather who writes gothic romance novels! Finally a book that shows us that 'mature' does not mean dead.

Everything about the H/H was fresh and original. Fabienne Craigmont is a widow and a former refugee from France who has settled in England. She is now acting as a sponsor of emerging young artistic talent in London. As a naive 17-year-old she met and fell in love with Adam Ashworth who seduced her. After a brief affair he betrayed and abandoned her. Fabienne must marry for the sake of her family. Her husband turns out to be a better lover than Adam was the first time around and they have a wonderful sex life. Due to a Big Misunderstanding Adam also feels betrayed and abandoned and returns home after their affair to marry and surprisingly to him falls deeply in love with his wife. Adam is a now a widower and a gentleman farmer who secretly writes wildly popular novels. Adam and Fabienne meet again when Adam has heard that his young godson, Viscount Tillotson, has taken a mistress who is indiscreetly living in the Viscount's home. He rushes to town to knock some sense into his ward only to discover that the mistress is actually a young female artist, Miss Elaine Twyford, who is using the Viscount as a model in her paintings. Elaine's chaperon living in the house with her is none other than Fabienne, Adam's former lover.

I loved both Fabienne and Adam. Fabienne is unapologetically sexual and takes no crap from Adam. Although Adam is a flawed character and does not always behave as a hero should, his cherished memories and deep love for his late wife won me over. It's so unusual to see dead spouses portrayed so warmly and positively.

All the characters were unique and three-dimensional and the dialogue was sharp with a touch of humor. In several places Adam's thoughts were so typically male and I found them especially funny. The pacing of the book was a little uneven due to the many subplots. I didn't like the huge misunderstanding that takes almost the entire book to work its way out. Plus there were additional misunderstandings that develop regarding the identity of 'Mrs. Ravenswood', Adam's nom de plume. The book could have been longer and the ending was a bit abrupt. I read somewhere that this was originally a longer book but due the the shorter requirements of a Signet regency, Mullany had to cut it down. If that's true, I would have liked to have read the original!

If you are looking for something fresh and unconventional in a typical regency, you'll enjoy this one. Years ago I read hundreds of traditional regency romances but only a few stand out in my mind. So it was very exciting to find something original in this genre. Also, with a few exceptions, I prefer more sex in what I read :) If Signet has decided to market sexier regencies to keep this genre afloat, then I'm going to be reading more of them again.

My Grade: B

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Girls' Night


I'm going to see the musical Cats tonight with a bunch of my girlfriends (Bob HATES musicals so he won't go with me). I bought 10 tickets to get the discount rate but I still was one person short until last night when I scrounged up one more person. Whew!

I'm looking forward to it. I saw it about 10 years ago in downtown Seattle, but this production is at the local community theatre. Their productions always get rave reviews so I hope it's good. I saw several other musical there and they were wonderful. Cats is a bit of a strange musical to me because as I recall there is no real plot, just cats dancing around and wonderful music (love the finale - Memory).

On the reading front:

I am reading Crazy Hot (Janzen) and was having a hard time getting into it. I found it kind of confusing trying to figure out who was who and what the hell was going on. But I'm on page 146 now and really enjoying it.

I am also reading Hot Target (Brockmann) on tape. I have never read a book with a gay storyline and it's pretty good. And I like Cosmo and Jane too and was happy that the WWII story is very minor compared to previous books. Brockmann needs to give that a rest. I don't want anymore WWII stories.

That's all for now.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Woohoo!!!!

I'm doing the happy dance here!! Just found out two minutes ago that I got a RAISE and a BONUS! It was a complete surprise. I was totally clueless that raises were in the works. Our admin walked into my office, closed the door, handed me my envelope with the good news and told me it was hush-hush because not everyone got bonuses. I have only been working here 7 months.

I just calculated it... the raise is 8.3%. That works out to an extra month's salary per year.

More books! More books!

Oh, wait, I forgot to mention, I think it's already spent. My husband bought me a new (used) car yesterday ::sheepish grin::. You're not going to believe this but he bought it over eBay. It's in California so he is flying down to LA and driving back with it. I think he's completely insane but it has been inspected and he won't hand over the money until he looks it over. He knows cars inside and out so I trust his judgment. It's a little sports car and really I think it's for him, 'cuz he has always wanted one. I don't really care what I drive. Did I mention he already has TWO pickups? So now all our vehicles are actually his vehicles. How did this happen? Anyway, we're going to sell my SUV. This little car is a hard top convertible and I'm a little worried I won't like going from sitting high in the SUV to sitting low in this car. He says if I don't like it he'll sell it and get me something I like.

I'm spoiled rotten!

I'll try to post a picture if I can figure out my digital camera.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Courtesan by Susan Carroll

I recently mentioned to Rosario that historical romance used to be my favorite romance genre but I have become burned out from all their sameness. I will only read them now if there is something different or special in terms of plot, setting, or characters. The Courtesan is a fabulous book that fits this description perfectly. TC is the second in the sisters of Faire Island trilogy and picks up 3 years after the end of The Dark Queen. Set in Renaissance France in 1575, this book is Gabrielle Cheney's story with prominent appearances by her two sisters, Ariane and Miribelle.

As the story begins, Gabrielle has abandoned her home and her sisters to live in Paris as a courtesan in the royal court. She has recently set her sights on Henry, the Huguenot king of Navarre, who is being held prisoner by Catherine de Medici, known as the dark queen. Life in the royal court is full of intrigue, betrayal and religious politics. Gabrielle is still mourning the loss of Captain Nicholas Remy who was murdered in the St. Bartholomew's Eve bloody massacre three years ago.

Unknown to Gabrielle, Remy has survived, saved by the young thief Martin Le Loup, nicknamed Wolf. Remy has been hiring out his services for the last three years as a mercenary soldier all over Europe in order to earn enough gold to release his king.

All the characters in TC are excellently drawn and three dimensional. I complained about how Catherine de Medici's portrayal in TDQ was a bit over-the-top evil, but in TC she comes across as much more human and realistic, and I almost (but not quite) felt sorry for her. After all, she created her own problems with her abuse of power, manipulations, and black magic. I loved how the secondary stories with Ariane and Renard, and Miri and Simon are not shallow but play an integral part of the whole story.

But the stars of the book, Gabrielle and Remy, are wonderful characters who both felt that their past sins made them damaged goods. It was interesting how Carroll presents the parallel notion of Gabrielle selling her body and Remy selling his services. (Spoiler: The scene where they wash each other before making love for the first time and its symbolism of washing away sins was extremely poignant. And the love scene that follows was beautifully tender and sweet (and hot). ::sigh:: Very romantic. End spoiler)

I laughed a little, cried a little, and I couldn't put it down; all signs that I have a DIK on my hands. The intricate plot was gripping and compelling. I'm a relatively fast reader but on this one I wanted to slow down and savor every word. Gabrielle's past horror and her resulting feelings of self-blame and worthlessness was handled very realistically and not beat into the ground. Wolf, Remy's squire, was an intriguing character and I hope he has his own HEA somehow. Needless to say, I am waiting impatiently for the last book in the series, The Silver Rose, to come out next year in March. (Damn, that's too long from now.)

My Grade: A

The Courtesan stands alone with Gabrielle and Remy's backstory explained well, so don't feel as if you have to go out and read TDQ first. I don't particularly care for witches or magic stories but these subjects were very minor here so I don't consider this book a paranormal at all. The real historical figures that pop in are also secondary to the main characters making TC definitely a romance not historical fiction.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Sugar is eeeevil

This past summer I lost 15 pounds on Weight Watchers and reached my goal weight (again). In September I went in for my yearly (yuk) physical. Dr. C and I chatted about a bunch of stuff. I mentioned that I had just lost 15 pounds and she said "Wow, that's a lot of weight for someone with your small frame. You certainly don't need to lose any more weight." I told her she was my new best friend. What a sweetie she is because let me say I am not small framed and feel I should probably lose 10 to 15 more pounds. But over the years I have come to accept that is not realistic for me. I am very happy now to fit into a size medium. And 10 more pounds won't get rid of the saddlebags. I tried that many years ago and I ended up with no butt and still with those blasted (inherited from mom) saddlebags. And there was no way I could maintain that weight.

Anyway, I remember reading a book a while back (can't remember the name, should have written it down) that mentioned the heroine of 5'6" and 120 pounds was average. Excuse me? Is it just me or am I living on the wrong planet? I hate when I read something like this 'cuz it makes me feel like a fat cow. I'm 5'4" and I will never be close to 120 pounds.

My problem now is sugar. Ever since the middle of October I have been bingeing on carbs, mainly sugar. I mentioned before that I have a mild case of SAD and one of the symptoms is a tendency to binge on carbs. Every year I do this at this time of year and it lasts till about March. Of course, with Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, it's a losing battle and too easy to tell myself that I will start over again in the spring. I'm so sick of that. Sugar has become my drug of choice. Someone lock me up (with a bag of books of course). I'm up a few pounds but I still fit in my clothes although I don't think I will for long so I'll be getting my 'fat' clothes back out.

So CindyS reminded me about the SAD lights and I have been actively searching online. I'm going to need two, one for work and one for home. I have my own office at work which is terrific considering my last job (I sat in a server lab - noisy, cold, no personal space, horrible) but I have no window. I don't really expect a SAD light to help me with the bingeing problem, just help with my mood and lack of energy. I'll be back again to Weight Watchers in the spring to lose my winter weight and hope it's not the whole 15 pounds (or more). But if it is, that's OK. I've done it before and I can do it again.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Never Too Much by Lori Foster

Let me get this off my chest right now... this book sucked! Big time. Whew, I feel better now. Foster has a multitude of rabid fans but I'm not one of them as you can tell. I'm not going to waste too much time reviewing this book since I already wasted too much time reading it.

Sierra Murphy owns and runs a landscape business and Ben Badwin owns a motel. That's it. That's about all I can tell you because there was no plot. Stuff happens, blah blah blah... more stuff happens. The characters were mostly flat. A smidge of conflict was provided by Sierra's wacko ex-husband who used to beat her and now wants revenge (for what I don't know) and is stalking her. Ben's perpetual hard-on got tiresome. The only two slightly interesting characters were Sierra's partner Kent and Ben's uptight mother, Brooke. Although Kent is younger than Brooke, he is instantly attracted to her and I liked their story more than Ben and Sierra's story. More stuff happens, some dialogue, ::skim::, blah, blah, ::skim::, nothing happens, oh yeah, they have hot sex, some more dialogue, ::skim::, blah. Ad nausem. The End (thank God).

OK, I can hear you thinking. Why did I start this and more importantly why did I finish it? I received this book as a gift so I wanted to read it in case I am asked about it. I'm a really lousy liar. I wanted to be able to at least say I read it.

My Grade: D-

This was my second Lori Foster and I conclude that this author is not for me. The first book of hers I read was Too Much Temptation which I named as my worst read for 2002 in AAR's yearly poll. As I recall many people named it their favorite book that year. Go figure. I have three other by Foster in my TBR (that'll teach me to glom an author before I have read any by them), and I think they're categories: Caught in the Act, Gabe, and Sawyer. I don't want to inflict any more torture on myself so they're probably going to the UBS.

Can someone explain the cover to me? What's with the pears? There is nothing about pears in the book. Hmm, maybe it's not pears... maybe, it's something else. Or maybe there is something erotic about pears and I'm clueless. Wouldn't be the first time.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Books on tape ( Pros & Cons)

I usually enjoy 'reading' books on tape (BOT) but of course that is not always the best way to 'read' a book. There is something very satisfying about getting cozy in my comfy leather chair with my favorite lap blanket (or two - I get cold in the evenings - even in summer I have my lap blanket on). I have my lamp table handy at my right hand with my beverage of choice and maybe a munchy (light or fat free popcorn is best). Of course, these are ideal conditions for me, but I can read almost anywhere else too (in the kitchen, at a stop light, in a doctor/dentist's waiting room, riding in the car, or generally anytime I have a spare moment). Any purse I buy must have room for a book.

I discovered BOT at the library several years ago when a friend suggested them as a way to pass the time on long drives. My daughter attended WSU in Pullman which is located on the eastern border of Washington. Once a year in April I drove by myself across state to visit her for Mom's Weekend - a 5 hour drive with about half of it across flat monotonous terrain with nothing to see except fields and farms. YAWN! Listening to a BOT has been a lifesaver by keeping me awake and making the trip go by faster. She graduated last May and I'm going to miss those weekend trips.

I have found a few other advantages to reading a BOT rather that a 'normal' book. My library has BOT for the newest HB releases of bestselling authors such as Nora Roberts/JD Robb, Linda Howard, Suzanne Brockmann, JAK, Elizabeth Lowell, SEP, Jennifer Crusie, and Janet Evanovich. The hold list for the latest bestselling HB's can get pretty daunting with anywhere from 200 - 500 holds. But the hold list for a BOT is much shorter, usually less than 40, and I can check it out in a few weeks at most.

Sometimes the BOT reader can make a book more enjoyable, and funnier depending on their voice inflections and accents. C. J. Critt reads most of the Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series and I love her character voices. They're hysterically funny, and I laugh and cackle my way through the whole book. But I suspect that Critt's voices and accents have made these books even funnier than if I had read the HB. Recently I finished Eleven on Top read by someone else, Lorelei King, and only had a couple of chuckles. It was not nearly as enjoyable. Her voice for Grandma Mazer was especially wrong. Critt makes her voice gruff and low (like she has been chain smoking for 30 years) and King gave her a high pitched squeaky voice. Yikes, it was so wrong. And I graded the book lowest of all the previous books in the series (a C). I also like the reader for JD Robb's In Death series. Her voices are very good; except McNab doesn't sound right, too much like a spacey skater-dude. JAK's reader was awful. Maybe that's why I gave up on JAK. So I need to be aware of a reader's influence on my grade of a book.

I have also discovered several disadvantages to BOT. They take longer to finish than if I read the book myself. I'm a fast reader and I don't read every word or 'say' the words in my head. But a BOT reader, of course, reads every word. Another problem for me is that I can't peek at the ending. OK, confession time... I'm an end peeker from way back. I'm trying to reform and I'm getting better but really, I NEED to peek sometimes. Especially if it's a non-romance. And I have had a few nasty surprises. I read Barbara Kingsolver's Prodigal Summer (NOT a romance) and hated the ending. It had me fuming and I don't think I would have read it if I had known the ending. I knew beforehand that it wasn't a romance, but it reads like a romance and sort of sucked me in and I started expecting an HEA, but of course I should have known better.

When I listen to BOT in the car on short trips, back and forth to work or running errands, arriving at my destination just when it gets interesting or funny or sexy can cause frustration. I have often sat in the car for 10 minutes or so when I'm in a really good place and can't quit. I was listening to one of Lowell's western romances and arrived home just while one of those really HOT sex scenes was playing. I parked in the garage and turned off the car. Later my son needed to back the car out of the garage and I handed him the keys without thinking anything of it. The next morning I got in, started it up, and the tape with the really HOT sex was still playing at full volume :) I think I must have blushed from the roots of my hair to the tips of my toes. Interesting course in sex education, right? He never said one word and I never brought up the subject. But that Christmas, what does my son get for me? Several books, one of which was labeled on the front: 'an erotic romance novel'. I think he was paying attention :)

Friday, November 04, 2005

Cheryl St. John

Something about Cheryl St. John's books really affect me. If I had to describe them to someone in just a few words, I would say that the theme of all her books seems to focus on the healing power of love and that CSJ shines best when she is writing about wounded characters.

I recently finished The Doctor's Wife and Joe's Wife and enjoyed them both. So I decided to tackle the rest of the CSJ books in my TBR: His Secondhand Wife, Prairie Wife, and The Bounty Hunter. I enjoyed two of them and the other one was only so-so.

His Secondhand Wife was a wonderful book featuring three-dimensional characters. I loved both the H/H. Noah Cutter is emotionally and physically scarred having suffered terrible injuries from barbed wire when he was 13-years old. He is a recluse rarely leaving his ranch in Cooper Creek, Colorado. Katherine was married to his half-brother and finds herself pregnant after he is killed in a brawl. Kate is incredibly strong and never feels sorry for herself. She wants the best for her baby so when Noah offers her a home at his ranch she accepts. I especially love how Kate completely ignores Noah's scars even though he feels he is so hideous and hides behind his long hair and beard. They slowly fall in love and when Noah finally shaves off the beard, it was an emotional moment. CSJ also did a good job of not portraying Noah's step-mother as an evil bitch. While I hated the way she treated Noah, she was not your stereotypical wicked step-mother.

Rosario wrote a terrific review and I agreed with everything she said! So rather than repeating her words I will just provide a link to her review. (Alright, I admit I'm lazy). And I'm giving it the same grade she did. (Thanks for the rec, Rosario!)

My grade: B+


Prairie Wife is the story of a troubled marriage. Jesse and Amy Shelby own a stagecoach station in Nebraska providing food and lodging for travelers. When the story begins they have just lost their 3-year old son in a tragic accident. He woke from a nap, wandered outside, fell in the nearby creek and drowned. A year later Amy and Jesse are having serious problems with their marriage and they are dealing with their loss is very different ways. Amy has shut up her heart and emotions from everyone to protect herself and refuses to grieve. She has completely closed herself off and she won't discuss their loss telling Jesse that she doesn't want to look back on the past and wants to just "move on". Jesse feels he has lost not only his little son but his wife as well and deals with it by climbing into a bottle of whiskey every night. Eventually, he feels his wife no longer loves him and he moves out of her bed. CSJ handled this subject of loss, grief, and guilt so realistically and with incredible emotion.

I realized when I picked up this book that I have been avoiding books with this subject because it hits a little too close to home. Over twenty years ago my sister lost her 10-month old son in a freak accident while he was napping. One of the things everyone told us was that a loss like this can either break up a marriage or make it stronger. Thankfully for my sister and her husband, they were able to work through it and came out stronger. They went on to have two more terrific sons and have the strongest marriage I have ever seen. But they did get some counseling.

Amy and Jesse don't have the luxury of counseling and are trying to deal with their loss as best they can but not succeeding. Events force them to finally confront their feelings and I found it very realistic and emotional considering my sister's experience. Surprisingly, this was one of CSJ's more sensual books with more than one sex scene. But maybe it's not so surprising because lovemaking is an important aspect of marriage that couples have to comfort each other and work through their pain to heal from such a terrible loss (I think I'm sounding like Dr. Phil again here).

My family's experience probably affected my grading of this book but even without that this was a very good book. Now I'm torn whether I should loan this book to my sister. We haven't talked about her loss for many, many years but I suspect it must cause her pain. I know I don't think about it more than once a year, but when I do it makes me weepy just remembering those first days after he was gone. I don't think the loss of a child is something anyone ever gets completely over. She might enjoy this book, but then again, I don't want to upset her. I'll have to think about this some more.

My grade: A-

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Crappy Day

I think my SAD (seasonal affected disorder) is kicking in early since it usually doesn't hit me until December. It's dark when I get up and dark when I get home and it's pouring rain. I NEED SUN! I'm starting to binge on carbs and that's a sign that I'm going into hibernation mode and won't come out of it until Spring (I'm part grizzly bear). I'm in a stinky mood as you can tell.

I looked at my blog this morning and the sidebar is missing. WTF? What happened? I'm not in the mood for this. Maybe when I republish it will reappear.

I'm at work and I'm supposed to be typing my weekly status report which I HATE. I have several half-finished blogs on some books but husband has been hogging the computer in the evenings and I have been trying not to blog while at work. So much for good intensions. I have been reading some very good Cheryl St. John books that I want to blog about. Maybe tomorrow. I'll try to be my usual cheerful self then :)

To: My Manager

Subject: Weekly Status

I did a bunch of good shit this week so quit bugging me so I can do some more good shit.

Renee