Tuesday, December 19, 2006


You may have been wondering where I have been hiding lately. Well, we had one doozy of a windstorm last Thursday night and lost power about 1:00 am when a huge gust came through. About that time SeaTac airport recorded a gust of 70 mph (a record). It knocked Bob's pride-and-joy gas BBQ grill on it's top (weighing over 200 lbs).

This was the worst windstorm we have had since 1993 with about a million households without power. We were without power for 48 hours and STILL are without cable internet so I have been offline for almost a week. I have been working 10-12 hour days and so haven't had time to post from work either. But I'm taking a breather here at my desk and decided "what the hell, I'm going to blog".

Thousands of people are still without power so I shouldn't complain. You should see the roads around here with massive 100 ft. trees fallen across the roads, homes and cars. Looks like a war zone. I have had to alter my route to work because a large section of Northup Way is still closed with several large trees overhanging the roadway in a two block section.

I'll try to post some pictures later.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Just had my breasts squished today. OUCH! I hate my yearly mammogram and the technician was especially mean, a real masochist. I am usually very stoic even though it's rather uncomfortable but this time it hurt like HELL. Most painful one I have ever had and I actually yelled in pain. Never done that before. I swear I've got a huge bruise on one boob.

Anyway, before the mammogram the assistant who led me back to the changing area noticed the book in my hand and asked what I was reading. I was brave and told her it was a romance (something I usually don't admit to a stranger) and her expression just lit up with a big smile. She said she loves to read romance.. but calls them her 'slutty' books. You know we woman have got to stop putting down our reading preferences. I smiled back and said 'oh I don't think they're slutty, I really enjoy romance.' Right there I could see that she realized I was a kindred spirit. She wanted to know who the author was (Susan Donovan) and I told her it was a contemporary. She said that she liked historical romance and asked if I had read Christina Dodd. We spent the next few minutes talking about our favorite historical romance authors until she realized I needed to get changed into an exam gown.

I think I have finally gotten braver about admitting to strangers what I'm reading. In the past when asked "what ja reading" I would say stuff like:

"oh, nothing"
"just a trashy book"
"a mystery" (it was a romantic suspense)

and other lies or half truths.

I was always afraid about being judged but really why should I care what perfect strangers think. I bet most of you are more secure in your reading preferences and never have this problem but it has taken me a long time to reach this conclusion. I will never ever call a book I'm reading 'trashy' again. I will stand tall. I will be proud.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Popping in for a sec. Worked 12 hours today. *sigh* I'm tired but can't go to sleep yet.

I was subscribed to fictiondb.com and just got a notice that my subscription has run out and to sign up again it will run $29.99. That's for one year. Kind of steep, don't you think? I mostly used it to look up an author's entire backlist and find related books in a series. Their database is very complete. But the steep price is making me think twice. I could have sworn it was cheaper last year but I could be wrong and I'm too lazy to look up what I paid. Well, you do get a free book when you subscribe but overall I don't think it's worth it.

Are there any other sites out there that you can use to look up an author's entire backlist that are less expensive? There used to be a free site but I think you have to pay now for that one too.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Greetings from the saltmines

Yup, I'm feeling pretty bitchy right now so be prepared for a major rant. I worked last Saturday and refused to work Sunday although I was asked to which probably pissed some people off but I don't care. I have a life! I have other commitments! I go to church on Sunday mornings and I'm not a religious fanatic which is probably what they thought (but we Lutherans are pretty tame :-). I belong to a community handbell group and we have rehearsal on Sunday afternoons and I have to get a sub if I can't be there (which is impossible to do this time of year).

Today we were told that lunch and dinner will be provided every day plus breakfast on Saturdays until we ship our product on 12/22. Basically they want us to work work work everyday and not leave the office for lunch or go home for dinner. Nose to the grindstone until ship day. Why don't they just get out the ol' ball and chain and attach us all to our desks? What's next... porta potties in our offices?

Now some may say that they are just being thoughtful by buying us lunch and dinner but I need to get away from this place occasionally. I workout on Monday and Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings and I don't plan on missing it. Our bible study group (we're more social than bible study) is having a cookie exchange on Thursday. Bob and I are going to a Christmas brunch at a fabulous restaurant next weekend. AND I want to do some Christmas shopping and decorating and baking. Oh, and Christmas cards. I feel like I'm going to explode. And I feel like I'm on the verge of tears a lot.

My stress quota has been reached.

I finished Hard Evidence by Pamela Clare last night and loved it. Ok, it had problems (and Jane's review pointed them out). But Clare's writing ranks right up there with Linda Howard and Anne Stuart for me. So what bothered her didn't bother me. It was fast paced and extremely HOT. I gave it a B-.

Just started The Wicked Lover by Julia Ross for about the 5th time. Let's see if I can get through it this time. Probably not a good time to try with my work situation.

Oh, well, back to work.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Twelve Sharp by Janet Evanovich

Why did I pick up this book? After reading the last Stephanie Plum book, Eleven on Top, I swore I was done with this series. This time I mean it... seriously... no, really. OK, shut up, I really mean it this time.

I read Stephanie Plum books to laugh. You know, those belly rolling laughs (and I have lots of belly to roll lately) that are so much fun. I can't remember the last time I had one of those laughs with her books. I think it was the opening scene a few books back where some FTA she was trying to capture was mooning her through a window. God, I laughed at that scene. Can't remember which book that was in though, but it was a while ago.

TS has a few laugh out loud chuckles and that's it. Waste of time. We got to see a bit more about Ranger's personal life, but really it wasn't worth it.

I read this from a book on tape with Lorelei King (I like CJ Critt better) as the narrator. At the end of the book Lorelei interviews Janet Evanovich. I usually skip those types of things but this time I decided to listen because I wanted to see what direction she is going with these books. Well, I was not pleased. Basically, she said that Stephanie will forever be the same age in all future books. She will never resolve her relationships with either Joe or Ranger. She emphasized that these are not romances and sort of dissed them a little (at least that's how I took it). So ladies, if you're expecting some kind of maturity out of Stephanie, forget it. She'll continue to blow up cars, do stupid stuff, keep her gun in her cookie jar, eat a steady diet of pizza and donuts, and lust after both Joe and Ranger. Doesn't matter if it's book 1 or book 53276. Nothing will change.

None of this is probably a surprise to the rest of you but I just had to rant. Ok, I'm done. Goodbye, Stephanie.

My grade: C

Monday, November 27, 2006

Brockmann binge

While cruising my TBR shelf I discovered I had a couple books left to read in Brockmann's Tall Dark and Dangerous series: Identity: Unknown and Get Lucky. So in the interest of closure I decided to read them. This series is all about U.S. Navy SEALs, has won numerous awards and launched Brockmann into fame and fortune and has also earned her a whole boatload of fans. Here is the complete list of eleven books with my grades:

Prince Joe (B)
Forever Blue (B+)
Frisco's Kid (B)
Everyday Average Jones (B)
Harvard's Education (A)
It Came Upon a Midnight Clear (C+)
The Admiral's Bride (B-)
Identity: Unknown
Get Lucky (A-)
Taylor's Temptation (B+)
Night Watch (B-)

Only a few of them were real keepers (A's) or nearly so (B+) but I'll hang on to all of them. They are all the original print version too. I can't figure it out but it just feels wrong to break up the set. I have done that with several other series by other authors as well. Have you ever held on to an entire series when only one or two are keepers?

Next I found several other Brockmann's published under the old Loveswept line. So I read them too and discovered a couple of treasures!

Body Language (A-)
Freedom's Price (B+)
The Kissing Game (A)

Which left Freedom's Price as a possible trade at PBS but just for the heck of it I looked at half.com to see how much I could sell it for (figuring about $5.00 or so) and discover that a like-new copy goes for $42.50!! OMG, that's ridiculous. I guess I'll hang on to it too. Maybe I'll sell the whole collection someday and retire in the lap of luxury. Uhhh, doubtful. :)

Isn't It Romantic? by Rhonda Thompson

Ever since I saw the review for IIR over at AAR where it earned an A, I had to have this book. But I didn't realize how HTF it was until making multiple trips to various UBS and never catching sight of it. It's been on my TBB list for about 6 years and I almost gave up. When I joined PBS I put it on my wishlist. Just recently it became available and I'm so glad I persisted because I thoroughly enjoyed it. This is a wonderfully witty romantic comedy very reminiscent of SEP or Jennifer Cruise. I have to confess that I laughed so much while reading it that Bob kept giving me those 'funny' looks.

As the story begins Katrine Summerville and Trey Westmoreland are on a blind date... well, not exactly. Both Katrine and Trey need an escort to an awards banquet and their mutual friend Cynthia sets them up. The blaze of attraction immediately ignites between them, but when they both are called to the podium to receive an award and discover the true identity of the other the blaze turns to intense dislike and an angry argument ensues for all to see.

Katrine and Trey have a history. Katrine writes sexy historical romances for a living under a pseudonym (Kat Summers). Trey is a book critic who writes reviews under the pseudonym T. West for the local newspaper. Years ago he wrote a scathing review of Kat's book reflecting his prejudice against the romance genre in general. His review created animosity between them and they have been sworn enemies ever since although they had never met. After seeing the sparks fly at the banquet, Trey's publisher and Katrine's editor come up with a great idea to handle the publicity. These two are going to go out on a series of four dates and each write an article on their views of the date. Katrine will write the romantic viewpoint while Trey will write the realistic view.

Both characters carry a boatload of baggage. Katrine was abandoned at 5 years old, and pregnant and widowed at eighteen. Trey is still bitter about his failed marriage and feels romance novels give women a distorted expectation of love. What follows is a hilarious ride through one hysterically funny date-from-hell to the next. I could tell you about their dates, but I won't :) They are just too damn funny and I don't want to spoil your enjoyment. I laughed and laughed over every one, each one more funny than the last.

The dialogue is snappy, sassy and clever, and the plot is fast paced and lighthearted with a serious undertone which makes it work so well. The chemistry between these two characters was perfect. I would rate them as one of my top 10 favorite couples of all time. I also got a huge kick out of the tongue in cheek spoof of romance novels as well.

And the ending...*sigh* ..... sooooooooo romantic. Loved it!!!

I hesitated about writing this review because the book is so HTF that you may have trouble snagging a copy. But maybe you'll get lucky in your neck of the woods. I suggest putting it on your wish list at PBS and you may get it eventually. I know I'm not going to be parting with my copy. It's a keeper. If you are one of the lucky ones who has this sitting in your TBR... get it out and read it, girl!

My grade: A

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Date Me Baby, One More Time by Stephanie Rowe

This book was my October TBR challenge read that I never got around to writing a review for. So I'm sure I probably ended up on AngieW's wall of shame :). I picked this book up on Cindy's recommendation and enjoyed it very much.

This was a funny book. By that I mean both funny, ha ha, and funny, strange. I'll try and summarize the plot but I'm afraid it might be too bizarre to explain. Plus it's been a while since I finished it and I'm having trouble remembering it all. But here goes.

Justine Bennett is an immortal and guardian of the Goblet of Eternal Youth which just happens to have morphed into an espresso machine named Desdemona (Mona for short). Oh, and she's forbidden to have sex because it might interfere with her job of guarding Mona. Justine and her roommate, Theresa Nichols, have been watching over Mona for the last 200 years. Oh, yeah, BTW, Theresa is now an 11-foot tall fire-breathing dragon who spends most of her day having cyber sex. Needless to say they don't get out much.

Derek LaValle and the men of his family are cursed. For the past four generations all the men of his family have died at the same age, 31 years, 46 weeks, 4 days, 6 hours, 3 minutes, and 5 seconds. How's that for a curse? Where Rowe came up with that exact age, I don't know, but it made me laugh. And the weird causes of death (hamsters, lemonade ?) for the men was hilarious. Derek is determined to break the curse and the only way he feels he can do that is to kill the Guardian and steal the Goblet. Justine must protect the Goblet by killing Derek or else face being sent the Chamber of Unspeakable Horrors. Satan and Justine's mother have a secondary romance (if you can call it that). He lusts after her and she wants nothing to do with him. Some of their dialogue is pretty funny.

Eventually Derek and Justine team up to solve the curse and they fall for each other. The plot was rather convoluted at times and while there were some laugh out loud moments some of it was a bit silly to me. This quirky paranormal has no werewolves, no vampires, no fairies, trolls or goblins. Just a fire-breathing dragon. But it was worth picking up for the comedy alone.

My grade: B

Rowe seems to be a writer with potential. The next book, Must Love Dragons, is Theresa's story and has just been released. I may have to go shopping.

Bob & shopping

I'm sitting hear listening to my cat snore. When did she start that? I should be used to it by now. Bob snores every night and most of the time it doesn't bother me.

Bob and I have been shopping a bunch. Monday we went to Frye's Electronics and bought a new computer and telephone. Cindy talks about C-Rex. Well, I don't have a nice name for mine. I was just a bitch at the checkout stand. I'm not going to explain it. I'll just say that the clerk and her manager PISSED me off royally. I think I embarrassed Bob.

Anyway, on to IKEA. We saw a few things we wanted (an easy chair for the bedroom for me). Had lunch there (Swedish meatballs of course). I gave up red meat about 2 years ago (long story) but occasionally treat myself. Only problem I think is if you haven't eaten beef for a while your body forgets how to digest it. Gave me a little tummy ache but it was worth it. Very yummy.

Today we went to Home Depot. I looked at light fixtures and found one I liked. Bob looked at some crap while I followed him the hell and gone all over the damn building. But I was good, didn't complain once. Then on to Costco where we fought the crowds. Picked up 2 pumpkin pies and a pecan pie for Thanksgiving dinner at my sister's. A bunch of Costco managers were standing around and I overheard them say that they had made 1500 pumpkin pies last night!!! We made it out of the store for less than $100, quite an achievement for me.

The weather has been horrendously wet. Supposed to be the wettest November on record and it's not even over yet! And terribly windy too.

Now somebody please tell me how to get rid of Bob for a day. I need some me-time. I need to go to the bookstore. He's driving me nuts. I need some space. He used to hate shopping, now he seems to like it. Help!

Update: The sun came out this morning and should last till this afternoon so we had this conversation:

Bob: "I think I'll go golfing"
Me: *jumping for joy...woohoo* "That's a great idea, honey, get out and get some fresh air."
Bob: "Would you like to walk along with me?"
Me: *are you kidding me?* "No thanks, hon"
Bob: "I think I'll stop at Lowe's after"
Me: *thank you Jesus... he'll be gone for hours :)* "That's nice, have fun!"

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Perfect Weapon by Amy Fetzer

I love a good romantic suspense as long as there is a minimum of blood and torture of women, children and animals. OK, so sue me, I'm picky. Also, I don't want to get inside the mind of a sick serial killer. I always skim over stuff like that.

Anyway, I have heard good things about Amy Fetzer and thought I would give her a try so PW was my first attempt and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Dr. Sydney Hale is a scientist working on an antidote to the deadly sarin nerve gas in a underground government lab when they are attacked by terrorists and she barely escapes with her life. Captain Jack Wilson and three of his fellow Marines are working on a job for the department of Fish and Game and unwittingly get caught in the crossfire. When his three buddies are brutally murdered Jack is determined to discover who did this, and figures out that Dr. Hale is the key so he kidnaps her from under the nose of the NSA who are supposed to be keeping her safe.

What follows is an action packed, nail biting plot that kept me on the edge of my seat. However, my biggest complaint was that the plot was somewhat convoluted and confusing. There were several plot threads running though it with numerous scene breaks involving characters that were not set up and explained so I had no idea who these characters were which drives me crazy. Eventually, I thought "f*ck it" and quit trying to mentally organize and figure out who the characters where and just let their names flow over the top of my head, figuring all would be explained later. Which they were. If you concentrate mainly on the H/H, then you should be fine.

Jack and Sydney team up to solve who is behind the terrorist attack and figure out the government traitor. They were an engaging couple whose attraction for each other sparked plenty of sexual tension. Jack was a yummy hero suffering a fair amount of angst and grief over the loss of his buddies. Sydney was a strong, admirable heroine and was a complex character. Sometimes I get tired of this plot line.... h/h on the run for their life, trying to solve a mystery, having lots of hot sizzling sex. But Fetzer does it very well in PW. A very enjoyable read I highly recommend. I definitely want to try another by her.

My grade: B+

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Haunted in Death by J. D. Robb

I'm a huge fan of this series and have read every one in a row. I listened to this book from the CD which was read by Susan Ericksen and was only 3 CD's long so it was basically a short story or a novella. I have asked myself why I keep sticking with this series through all 22 full length books, 2 novellas, and Remember When (I don't know what you'd classify that one).

In case you are one of the few people left who have never read this series before, let me give you an overview. The books are set in futuristic New York City beginning in the year 2058. Police Lieutenant Eve Dallas is one tough cookie with a lot of baggage left over from her sexual and physical abuse by her father when she was just a small child. In the first book, Naked in Death, she meets gazillionaire Roarke (a suspect in a murder case she is investigating) and they fall in love and they have lots of hot vigorous sex. Roarke also has his own baggage and throughout all these books I have enjoyed how their relationship develops and how their characters grow. Along the way we meet a bunch of other wonderful characters who appear in every book.

If you have read all of this series then be warned that HID does not add anything to Eve's character growth or her developing relationship with husband Roarke. Basically, what you have here is a murder mystery featuring a ghost but I felt a bit cheated because some of my favorite characters are missing (Summerset, Mavis, etc.)

I loved the mystery in this one but I don't read them for the mystery alone. I want Eve/Roarke relationship growth, I want the hot SEX, I want the characters. Well, there may have been one sex scene in this one but it flew by so fast it didn't leave an impression. Or maybe I was dreaming. So, sad to say, this one was a waste of time for me in some respects, but it was a good story.

My grade: C+

Upcoming books in this series:
Born in Death is just out Nov. 7th
Innocent in Death (2007)
Creation in Death (2007)

Friday, November 17, 2006

I'm back and ready to roll

And I really missed blogging! (let me know if I missed any good gossip so I can go rubber neck). I had a horrible day at work today. They are so mean... they actually want me to work. No time to peek at the internet and blog hop. No time for a lunch break so I ate my Lean Cuisine while I continued working. The only thing keeping me going is knowing that starting tomorrow I have 10 days off ... in a row even :) Tummy is under control but it really pisses me off that I have to avoid dairy. I'm in denial still.

So I see I need to update my sidebar and I have reviews to write. I also need to see if I can find a new free template. Getting tired of this one. I was thinking of maybe posting a review a day but that sounds overly ambitious. I have been reading but not as much as normal. Usually I can finish a book in 2 or 3 days but lately it's more like one in 6 or 7 days.

I updated to the new Blogger beta and, wow, it has labels. Cool! I hope they worked out most of the bugs because finding bugs in software is what I do all day at work and I don't want to have to deal with it when I'm trying to do something fun, like talk about books.

I also updated my yahoo mail account to the new Yahoo Mail beta. I'm a glutton for punishment.

Bob is taking the next 10 days off too. He wanted to spend time with me (how sweet :) and there are some things we want to do around the house. I hope it stops raining for a few days so I can send him off golfing. I don't want to hurt his feelings but sometimes I just want some time to myself. I have a huge To-Do list and hope to do a little book shopping. AND read as much as possible.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Time for a break

I've been a pretty lousy blogger lately. Work has been horrible lately and will be getting worse. We are supposed to ship our product on December 15 and that means some long hours and maybe have to work some weekends. I HATE THIS. My boss is throwing more responsibility my way too. I have to train a new employee today and Wednesday I'm scheduled to interview a potential employee. I like how he has such confidence in me but I find myself getting more anxious which causes me to procratinate about stupid stuff.

So the end result is I need to take a break from blogging for a short while. I am scheduled to take the week of Thanksgiving off so I'll try to pop in and post something then. I'm in a reading slump anyway after finishing Cold As Ice by Anne Stuart. Loved it! Peter is your typical Stuart anti-hero. I can't figure out why I love this hero type but it works for me. I loved the heroine too. She stands up to him when he acts like an a**hole. :)

BTW, I think I figured out my tummy problem which has been giving me fits since April. I'm lactose intolerant! I thought it was heartburn caused by stress. Went to a gastroenterologist and she did an endoscopy. I was starting to really worry but all she saw was gastritis from the heartburn. She has given me several heartburn medications (Prilosec, Nexium, Prevacid, Aciphex, etc.) to try and they have helped a bit but I still feel sick to my stomach most of the time. I remembered that my mother was lactose intolerant so I started taking those lactase tablets and wow do I feel better. I have never had problems with milk my whole life. I love milk. I had no idea that a person could develop this at my age.

I'll be back in a couple weeks but I'll try to keep up with everyone's blog.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Sometimes you get lucky

I can't believe this. I stumbled across a used copy of Cold As Ice. Today I ran over to Crossroads Mall to the Blockbuster to see if I could find a movie both Bob and I can watch together (this is not easy, ladies). A few doors down is the Half Price Books and a few doors down from there is the Barnes and Noble. The plan was to pop into HPB for a quick look around then head over to B&N to see if they finally had Cold As Ice. But I was stopped in my tracks when there it was... a used copy of Cold As Ice! I had to blink a couple of times because I couldn't believe my eyes. I was fully prepared to pay full price over at B&N (if the suckers finally had it in stock). I grabbed it and sprinted to the checkout line without even browsing any more. I had to get this to the car before someone discovered it was missing :)

I'm reading it now (even though I'm in the middle of another book) and loving it.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Sunday update

Had to work Saturday which really blows! I want a new job.

My right arm (wrist, elbow, and shoulder) has really been bothering me lately. I think it's related to overuse of my computer mouse. So I've actually been trying to train myself to use my left hand for the mouse. I'm not all that ambidextrous so although I can use my left hand for the mouse I'm very slow at it. I have been looking into buying a wireless mouse.

I went shopping at Best Buy and they had a bunch of mouses (mice?) but my question was ... What is the difference between a laser mouse and an optical mouse? Do you think I could actually locate a sales person to ask a question... NO! I have no patience with big mega stores and their customer service (Home Depot, anyone? Bob loves that place but women are invisible to their sale people, I swear). And I was running late and had to get back to work. I looked online for the answer to my question and I think I have determined that the laser wireless mouse is the one I want. Now it's back to the store and try them out for fit.

I read last night and stayed up very late to finish Perfect Weapon by Amy Fetzer, a new-to-me author. I was very impressed. It was extremely fact paced and very hard to put down and I loved it. The H/H were both excellently drawn and wow the sex was sizzling. The plot had 4 or 5 different threads running through it and were sometimes hard to keep track of. But I didn't sweat it figuring that all would be revealed and it was nicely wrapped up. My only complaint is that I hated the skanky villain sex. I highly recommend this one (my grade: B+).

I am also reading Twelve Sharp by Janet Evanovich, via Book-On-Tape, in the car. This one is a bit sparce on the laugh out loud moments. Some chuckles but nothing very funny.

Now I have to pick out a book for this month's TBR Challenge and I'm thinking of reading Touch of the Wolf by Susan Krinard but it's seems rather long (401 pages). Haven't read this author before. Anyone else read this?

Update: Go check out AAR's interview with Anne Stuart. I really need Cold As Ice. Of course, I'll probably be the last one to find it. *sigh*

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Three books in three days

A Whisper in the Dark by Linda Castillo
LC has been a consistently good author for me and this book continues her track record.

John Merrick is a former cop still haunted by memories of the night he accidently killed a fellow officer. But my favorite character is the heroine, Julia Wainwright. She owns a bookstore (YES!) AND writes erotic romance (YES, YES!) and is determinedly independent. What's not to love? Julia's problem is that she writes under a pseudonym and is now receiving letters from a crazy stalker. Julia writes in secret because she doesn't want to embarrass her father, a well known religious leader. Her father hires John, a family friend, to beef up her security and protect her from the stalker. The action was fast paced and the suspense was intriguing but the hero was not much of a hero to me. He was tormented by nightmares of the accident and like many cops seemed to be handling his problem with booze. He was supposed to be protecting Julia but was getting drunk every night and left her unprotected. John works through a lot of internal demons but eventually I'm convinced they get their HEA, but just barely.

My grade: B

The Samms Agenda by Alison Kent
TSA is book #3 in the SG-5 series and was VERY short (117 pages) so I finished it in a few hours. I loved book #1 (The Bane Affair), and hated book #2 (The Shaughnessey Accord), so hestitated about reading this one. It read like a short story where the H/H have sex and fall in love way too quickly (within 24 hours I think). Very fast paced and HOT.

Katrina Flurry writes a gossip column and seems like a high maintenance airhead to Julian Samms at first. Julian is supposed to protect her from a hit man hired by her ex-boyfriend. I'm partial to road romances and the nonstop action kept me turning the pages.

My grade: B

Perils of the Heart by Jennifer Ashley
This book was a pleasant surprise. It has been languishing in my TBR for 3 years and KristieJ spotted it in the picture I posted below. She recommended it (along with some others) so I grabbed it to take along for the weekend. And I'm glad I did. I would describe POTH as a swashbuckling high seas adventure. Well actually, there weren't any buckles being swashed but it was great fun.

Evangeline finds herself on a merchant ship bound for Boston after discovering her fiance in bed with her maid and disowned by her stepfather and mother when she refuses to marry him. She starts out as a very naive young woman who does some pretty stupid things. Austin is the captain of the ship and a typical tortured hero. After a failed attempt at a mutiny and a seduction, Austin suspects Evangeline of being a spy. The action takes off and there was never a dull moment. I enjoyed seeing the gradual change in Evangeline to a courageous plucky heroine and Austin is a yummy hero. POTH was a fast paced romantic adventure laced with humor and some steamy love scenes. The cast of characters were well done especially Lord Rudolph. After checking Ashley's website I see that she plans to write his book eventually. POTH was Ashley's debut book and she shows some potential.

My grade: B+

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

A quickie trip

Just back from our trip to the ocean. We were going to stay at Grayland Beach State Park but my DEAR hubby neglected to make a reservation and they were full! Now I'm not one of those wives who enjoys saying "I told you so." OK, shutup. I lied. I said it and I enjoyed it, because, man, he sometimes has this attitude that he knows EVERYTHING and I had to take him down a peg.

Anyway, we drove north of there about 30 miles to Ocean City State Park and they had lots of available campsites. We picked a campsite that was a short walk through the sand dunes to the beach. We went for a nice long walk on the beach Friday and Saturday. We drove up to the Olympic National Park to Lake Quinault and took the nature trail through the Rain Forest. Fabulous. The humidity is so high there year round that huge sheets of moss hang from the trees. I've never seen anything like it. Late Saturday night it started raining and wow did it pour! Sounded like we were parked under a waterfall. So we got up early (hey, who can sleep with all that racket?), ate breakfast and headed home and had a quiet Sunday afternoon (I did the laundry while Bob slept on the couch - jeez are we old or what?).

I got lots of reading done over those three days. Bob read lots too but it was magazines and newspapers. I can't get him to read a book for nothing.

Finished reading The Savage by Nicole Jordan.
This book was like taking a trip back in time to the old bodice rippers of the '80s. As I mentioned before, the hero actually rips the bodice of the heroine's dress. How cliche is that? TS reminded me why I used to love some of those old books because it turned out to be a very good story. Summer is a seemingly spoiled young Scarlett O'Hara type who has all the young men of the area wrapped around her finger. Lance is half Comanche and has been secretly in love with her and jealous of all the young men chasing after her. He knows that because of who he is he can never have her. But Summer has been secretly attracted to him as well. The racial discrimination that Lance has endured his entire life was realistically portrayed and his self esteem has suffered many blows. All he really wants is love and acceptance and when Summer approaches him a few years later to ask that he help her find her sister who was kidnapped by Comanches, he demands she marry him as payment. Summer and Lance are two great characters and the pacing was quick until the last few chapters when the plot seemed to drag. But the sex was HOT! I'm not an expert on native Americans but I thought Jordan portrayed the Comanche very realistically as well and was a bit painful to read at times. If you can scrounge up a HTF copy of this book it's worth reading.

My grade: B

I have the other reviews almost done. Will post them this week.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Picture Day

I haven't been able to blog much lately. Hectic around here and everyone keeps pulling me in different directions and I'm feeling a bit stressed. Today I had my yearly physical (oh, happy, happy, joy, joy). Blood pressure - 110/70. That's good anyway. Well, thank god that's over with for another year. My stomach is still bothering me so she switched me AGAIN to another medication. This is my fourth one (Protonix) so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it will work. I know this is probably related to my job. I feel fine on the weekends but during the week I can just feel the acid pumping into my stomach. I really like my job but it's been a pressure cooker lately. I hate to think I may have to look for another job but if I must, I must.

I really need a week long vacation but Bob and I have only been able to take a bunch of 3-day weekends this year. We are taking another one this weekend leaving on Friday morning. We decided to go to Grayland State Park on the Washington Coast. The weather has been wonderful so far this fall and I think the rain is supposed to hold off till Sunday. I plan on a few long walks on the beach, rain or shine. Of course, I have to figure out what books to bring :)

To make up to all of you for my absence and lack of book reviews here are some pictures I found from last year's vacation to Oregon.

Here's Crater Lake. The water was so blue that day it was almost purple. Isn't it wonderful?

Ok, prepare yourself people. I made this small on purpose to spare your eyes.

Here is a picture of me (on a bad hair day). I'm standing on top a mountain in southern Oregon. Inside the mountain under my feet is the famous Oregon Caves. After we did the tour we hiked up the trail to the top and the view was spectacular.

Around that same time I took some pictures of my cat, Bailey.

"Anything good to read?"

Pay no attention to the titles. This was taken last year so my night stand has a completely different bunch of books.

More cat pictures:

Here she is sitting on the desk watching me blog.

Why is it cats like to sleep on the clean laundry?

Here is a picture of my only book shelf taken last year. These were some of my TBR. The rest are in a box in the bottom of the closet.

My keepers are in those plastic bins. Someday I'm going to get book shelves. Someday........

Reading Now: The Savage by Nicole Jordan. This is an old bodice ripper (literally in fact since hero rips open heroines blouse) from 1994. It's good and the sex is HOT. Not as good as Heart Breaker but I'm enjoying it.

Friday, October 06, 2006

A Reason to Live by Maureen McKade

I love a good Western. I keep hearing that there is no market for Westerns but if they were all written as well as ARTL then the demand by readers would be overwhelming. I picked up this book on Wendy's recommendation and I'm so glad I did because this is a heart wrenching and emotional book. Get out your tissues, ladies.

As a nurse for the Confederacy, Laurel Covey kept a journal in which she recorded all the deathbed messages of the soldiers who died in her care. Now that the war between the states is over she feels obligated to contact each family to relay those messages and keepsakes.

Laurel is one of the strongest characters I have ever read. She sets out alone across the post Civil War South with no thought to her own safety to contact each family. The reader quickly realizes that she doesn't care what happens to herself. The horrible memories of attending a battlefield hospital continue to haunt her. She experiences flashbacks during the day of the blood, sounds, smells, and ghosts of the men who died and vivid nightmares visit her nightly. She thinks she is going crazy and hopes to finish her quest before she is committed to a mental hospital. But today we recognize these symptoms as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I was impressed with how realistically McKade portrayed her condition. The doctor's suggested treatment of a hysterectomy as a cure for her mental state seemed barbaric but realistic for that time period.

Creede Forrester is an ex-gunslinger whose son, Austin, has died in the War. He travels from Texas to Virginia hoping to find out more about his son's death. A doctor tells him that Laurel may know something more, so he seeks her out and comes across her as she is being robbed and rescues her. He finds out that Laurel was there when his son died but unfortunately Austin was dead when he arrived at the field hospital so left no last words for his father. Creede is crushed but insists upon riding along with Laurel against her wishes on her journey to keep her safe.

As they journey through the ruined South, Laurel and Creede meet all kinds of human and animal characters that were excellently portrayed. If you're a cat lover, you'll fall in love with the stray cat who adopts Laurel on her journey. They meet a little black boy and some former slaves that tore my heart out. In fact they meet lots of people, some good, some bad, and McKade portrays them without Southern character stereotyping. Each family member had a different reaction to the message she passed on from their loved one. Some were grateful, some devastated, some angry, some with no emotion at all. These scenes were often painful to read.

Laurel and Creede are both very wounded people and are drawn to each other. As they travel from Virginia to Texas finding all the families they develop a growing bond and start to open up to each other. Love blossoms slowly culminating in some intense love scenes.

Although post-Civil War America is a very depressing, painful time in history, Laurel and Creede's story is a powerful one of hope and healing. And the book's title.... absolutely perfect.

My grade A-

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Irresistible by Susan Mallery

Susan Mallery has been rather hit or miss for me. I read and enjoyed Delicious (B+) but I disliked the last book in the Marcelli family series, The Marcelli Bride (C-).

Delicious and Irresistible are the first and second books in the Buchanan family series. The Buchanans are a likeable family of 3 brothers and a sister (Walker, Cal, Reid, and Dani) but grandma is one evil bitch. The book is set in Seattle where the Buchanan family owns three restaurants. I love books set in Seattle since I live in a nearby suburb and I like to see if the author gets the landmarks right. Mallery has done her homework because everything seems correct.

Walker Buchanan returns to Seattle after 15 years as a Marine and he has a number of secrets. He is on a mission to find the girlfriend of his buddy who took a bullet for him leaving him with guilt and nightmares. Walker has sworn off women partly because he is still feeling guilt over the way he treated his first love after learning she had breast cancer many years before. Elissa Towers has sworn off men and also has a number of secrets laced with some guilt. She is a single mom raising a 5 year old named Zoe and is barely scraping by. When Elissa's car develops a flat tire her reclusive neighbor, Walker, buys her a new tire. In exchange Elissa offers to fix meals for him and they both fight their growing attraction.

Both Walker and Elissa were solid characters and their problems were realistically portrayed. There were some emotional moments when Elissa is reunited with her estranged family and I was pleased to see that there was no quick convenient solution. Elissa and her parents had hurt each other and they worked through those hurts in the course of the book in a realistic way. Walker's grandma, Gloria Buchanan who is the matriarch of the family and runs the family restaurant business with an iron fist, has a heart attack and when she falls, breaks her hip. Gloria is one mean old lady hated by her family (except Reid) and a bit over the top.

This is a character driven story and I enjoyed reading how both Walker and Elissa deal with a mass of problems which kept me turning the pages. Walker and Elissa fight their attraction for a bit longer than I like and Elissa does something to distract Walker when he gets too close that I found rather distasteful. The dialogue was quick but rather emotionless at times and Walker would have been a better character if he had shown more emotion. Children can be rather distracting for me but Zoe was not overplayed and added a nice touch. I look forward to the next book in the series titled Sizzling (Reid's story) due out January 2007. I'm curious to see what becomes of lady-killer Reid Buchanan. The 4th book titled Tempting (Dani's story) is due out July 2007.

My grade: B

Friday, September 29, 2006

September TBR Challenge

Title: The Admiral's Bride (SIM #962, TDD book #7)

Author: Suzanne Brockmann

Year published: 1999

Why did you get this book?
I collected the entire Tall, Dark and Dangerous series about 4 years ago after reading a couple of her books and enjoying them. I have been slooooowly making my way through them and have only 2 left in this series to read.

Do you like the cover?
Not really. Flowers, lace and a wedding ring don't do anything for me.

Did you enjoy the book?
It was pretty good. I gave it a B-. I don't particularly like older man/younger woman stories especially if the age difference is more than 18+ years. My first thought is that the hero is old enough to be the heroine's father and that's just icky. In TAB the age difference is 20+ years and was probably the worst aspect of the book for me. But Admiral Jake Robinson was a terrific hero. The first chapter was a flashback to one of his many heroic deeds from the Vietnam War and was a grippingly realistic account and a great way for the reader to get to know and love the hero. Now 52, Jake is a widower whose wife died from cancer three year before. He leads a SEAL team in covert operations and is a fully fit hunk (think Harrison Ford). Zoe Lange is a scientist who specializes in biological weapons and also works in covert operations. Jake's repeated angst because of his concern over the age difference was rather tiring. There was a fake wedding between Jake and Zoe that was arranged in order to get her into the compound (and so they can have hot sex of course) where he is working undercover. It was a rather trite plot device that you find frequently in series romance (and which I secretly love). The suspense was pretty good with most of the action taking place at the end. All in all a readable book. I think I would have liked it better if the age gap had been much smaller.

Was the author new to you and would you read something by this author again? No, not new to me. I plan to read my last two in this series (Identity: Unknown & Get Lucky) plus three other old Loveswepts I found at a thrift store. But I have lost interest in the Team Sixteen books and the endless parade of characters spanning many books. I just don't care anymore.

Are you keeping it or passing it on?
I'll hang onto it until I finish the last in the series. Then maybe I'll sell the whole set on eBay. All of them are the orginal editions (not the reprint) so maybe it's worth something to collectors. Or maybe I'll just keep it. There were a couple in the series that were keepers and I hate to break up a set.

Anything else?
I just realized that I forgot to sign up for this month's TBR Challenge at AngieW's blog. Better go do that.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

My brain has left the building

I'm such an idiot. I belong to this committee at my church that meets every three months. Our meetings are the dullest snoozefest on the planet and I HATE going to them. I really should quit but I promised to serve for a 3 year term and I have 2 years to go.

Anyway, the chairman of the committee always calls to remind me three days before the next meeting PLUS he sends email reminders. Well today I went to aerobics class after work and on the way home I stopped to pick up a prescription for Bob. When I walked in the door it hit me that I was supposed to have been at this dreaded meeting at 7:00, it was now 7:45. Damn it! No one else on the committee ever misses a meeting and I think I have done this a couple times now. I'm a flake.

I did have some good news. After reading Nicole Jordan's Heart Breaker and The Outlaw recently, I immediately put The Savage and Wildstar (both HTF) on my wishlist at PaperBackSwap. I just got a notice from them that The Savage is being mailed to me. Yay! Great bodice ripper cover too :)

I also found a copy of Lover Awakened finally. But I'm saving it for later. Just about everyone has already read it and loved it so I know I will too. It's nice to know I have a really good book just sitting there whenever I hit a reading slump.

Reading now: Irresistible by Susan Mallery and enjoying it. H/H from Delicious make a brief appearance. The book has a cupcake on the cover and it's killing me (I've been dieting on Weight Watchers since Monday - need to lose 10 pounds - 20 would be better but not realistic). I'm hungry.... I need a snack.

Update: Blogger sucks lately. Having a hard time publishing for the last couple days. 0% just keeps going round and round. Trying again.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Cover of Night by Linda Howard

I'm a huge Linda Howard fan and have read everything she has written. Some I have loved (Duncan's Bride, Dream Man, Mackenzie's Mountain, etc.) and a couple I have hated (An Independent Wife (F), Sarah's Child (D)) and the rest have been good reads of some degree or another. So of course, I had to read this latest offering (from the library since the HB version is $25.95 - ouch).

Trail Stop, Idaho, is a tiny isolated town connected to the outside world by a single road. Cate Nightingale is a widow with four-year-old twin boys and still mourns the loss of her husband who died three years earlier. After his death she moved to Trail Stop and bought the local bed-and-breakfast. Calvin Harris is the town handyman who helps Cate with the many problems that seem to plague the old house. Plumbing, carpentry, whatever, he can fix it. Cate thinks "Mr. Harris" is an extremely shy man who never opens his mouth. But Cal is not what he seems. He is a former marine who came to town to visit his former commanding officer. When Cate moved into town, Cal found himself very attracted to her so decided to stay and make his home there. Cate thinks that Cal is just a rather uninteresting man who gets extremely tongue tied around her and blushes uncontrollably whenever she speaks to him. The whole town is aware of Cal's attraction to her for the last three years and tries to throw them together, but Cate is oblivious.

One morning Cate discovers that Jeffrey Layton, one of the B&B guests, has disappeared out the window of his room leaving his personal possessions behind. A few days later Cate and her friend Neenah are held at gunpoint by two men who had checked in as guests. These men demand Cate give them the possessions that Layton left behind. Cal gets the jump on the two villains and ends up kicking their asses and they slink out of town.

But the trouble is just beginning. These thugs come up with plan to hold the entire town hostage until they get Layton's possessions which they believe contains one of those little flash drives (about the size of a pack of gum) with some mob secret files. They blow up the bridge leading to town, cut off their electricity, and start shooting townspeople at random. This part of the plot was rather farfetched and not realistic at all.

Amazon's review uses phrases like "breathless action", "gripping suspense", and "intense romance". Uh, no. Not quite, people. Slight exaggeration here, but it was a good book, just not her best. The first third of the book contained a lot of character setup with antics of her 4 yo twins who were not overly cutesy but acted like real boys. Cate's mother takes them away for a visit to her home so they were out of the way when the action begins. Cal was an unusual hero for Howard. He appeared to be a beta with all his blushes and stammering, but when the gunmen appear his marine training becomes evident and he starts acting more like an alpha male. The suspense was good and interesting and kept me turning the pages. The romance was a bit on the light side but still very good although it developed so quickly over the course of a couple of days. And I enjoyed the secondary romance. Many Linda Howard fans may find CoN rather dull but LH's dull is better than many author's best. She knows how to tell a story well and keeps you turning the pages.

My grade: B-

Friday, September 22, 2006

Two wallbangers (maybe)

Today is our wedding anniversary. Just thinking about how many years we have been married makes me feel ancient. Don't know where Bob is taking me to dinner. I told him to surprise me.

I'm not having much luck finishing a book lately. Two books have hit the wall (figuratively speaking because they were library books). Are my expectations too high after reading two keepers?

Problem book #1

Queen of Babble by Meg Cabot

This one was written in first person and usually that's not a problem for me but for some reason the heroine's inner voice just grated on me. Reminded me of the time my fifteen year old daughter had a slumber party with 10 of her closest friends. Aaaaaccccccckkkkkkkk. Lizzie Nichols's biggest problem is her mouth. She babbles, which has gotten her into trouble many times (foot-in-mouth disease). Lizzie is a recent college graduate who flies off to London to spend the summer with her British boyfriend. She hardly knows him (having only spent 24 hours with him) so when she arrives at the airport she doesn't recognize him. I'm still in chapter one and I am ready to strangle her. Maybe the problem is that the heroine is too young. Or maybe ChickLit is just not my thing. Whatever. AAR gave this book an A- so I had high hopes.

Has anyone else read this?

Problem book #2

Whispers of the Night by Lydia Joyce

I love LJ's voice and have enjoyed all her previous books. In this one the heroine, Alcyone Carter, has agreed to marry a nobleman in Hungary sight unseen. Her father is an extremely wealthy industrialist who wants his daughter to marry a titled peer. Since he is unable to find an English title, he settles on a foreign one, Baron Benedak. Alcy travels across Europe on horseback for days to her fiance's remote castle. No sooner does she set foot in the castle, then she is rushed to the chapel where the wedding ceremony is performed in a language she doesn't understand. We are told that Alcy is very strong willed and highly intelligent but I'm just shaking my head here. What woman (other than a doormat) would allow being rushed into a wedding ceremony in travel stained clothes smelling of horse? OK, it gets worse.

At their wedding dinner Alcy finally figures out that the "Baron" does not look like the miniature picture that was sent to her. The "hero" is actually Dumitru Constaninescu, a Rumanian count, a rival neighbor of the Baron. He has tricked Alcy and stolen (or kidnapped) her away from the Baron to wed her because he needs her huge dowry to restore his crumbling estate. At this point Dumitru's goal is to consummate the marriage, otherwise it can be annulled. Alcy feels betrayed and hurt, and tells him that if he forces her she will kill him, if it takes a month or twenty years. Dumitru is left in no doubt that she means it. More argument ensues. Eventually she says "You arrogant ass", then grabs him and kisses him! Then they have wild hot sex. Does that make sense to you? OK, it gets worse(r).

Dumitru later figures out that part of her dowry from the marriage is tied up in her bridal portion which is hers alone. If he wants to use it he must ask for permission and that doesn't sit right with the M.C.Pig in him. Alcy overhears him plotting with his steward to steal the money thereby making her completely dependent upon him. The bastard. This is about where I wanted to strangle him.

Joyce's last book, The Music of the Night, also had an jerk of a hero, but he redeemed himself somewhat (although some of you disagreed). But I don't know if I can continue reading this crap. Kidnapping, lying, and now stealing from the heroine are not attractive personality traits. I love an anti-hero as much as the next person, but I have serious doubts that he can be redeemed enough for me. I'm on page 137 and I'm putting this one aside for now. Anyone else read this? Does he redeem himself?

So I have two DNF books which I will probably take back to the library. Or I might try again later.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Updating my blog

I'm starting to think I need a new blog template. A person can only stand a pink background for so long. I'd really like one with three columns so must start looking around for a new one.

Finally getting around to updating my sidebar. I updated the link for KarenS and added some new-to-me reader blogs (I hope I have the links right). Most of them have been around for awhile and I've just discovered them. It's starting to get hard to keep up with all these blogs so I have been trying to update my Kinja account too and hopefully things will get easier.


I wish Maili would show up again. I hope she's just taking a break and has not abandoned her blog completely.

In other news... I'm the Test Lead this week at work and have managed not to set the building on fire or get myself in trouble YET. But I have had a stomach ache all week so I think the stress is getting to me. I really want a long vacation but we'll probably wait till Christmas. Bob wants to go to North Dakota to visit his folks but I'm balking at the idea. Spending four days driving in the car (two days each way) and then being cooped up in their little house while the snow blows with below zero temperatures is NOT my idea of a vacation.

Reading today: Cover of Night by Linda Howard. This is a book on tape and I'm about at the halfway point. I'm enjoying it so far. Plot seems a bit farfetched though.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Two keepers

Don't ya just love it when you read two keepers back to back? One, a new release, and the other a timeless classic. I then followed these up with another enjoyable read, Marriage By Design which I reviewed in my previous blog entry. All in all a great reading weekend.

Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh

Just got back from CindyS and KristieJ blogs and they both finished reading Slave to Sensation this weekend and loved it too. How weird is that! I swear I have some kind of ESP connection with these two. I figure that leaves me off the hook for a review, right? OK, maybe just a few of my thoughts.

This book is causing quite a stir in blogland and deservedly so. Wonderful book! I loved the world building and I can't wait to go back there with the next one. StS is set in an alternate reality Earth with three species: Psy, changeling and human. The Psy are an interesting species of psychics who are all connected through the PsyNet which is sort of like an internet for their minds. Due to serious problems with insanity and serial killings, the Psy have instituted a program of surpressing all emotion from birth. Sascha Duncan is Psy and knows she has been different all of her life because she has emotions and is desperately trying to keep it a secret. She fears 'rehabilitation' if her ability to feel emotion is discovered which would wipe out her mind. But lately she is having a harder time keeping her emotions under control. Lucas Hunter is a changeling who is a member of the DarkRiver pack of panthers. Changelings feel emotions and are proud of it.

The sexual tension between Sascha and Lucas was incredible and the dream scenes set the pages on fire. The characters were all well drawn and the plot fast paced. My only quibble is that I was a bit confused near the end when Sascha 'surfs' the PsyNet searching for clues to help find a serial killer since it was hard to tell what was going on. Other than that I thought the book was nearly perfect and I can't stand the thought of having to wait for the next book. I'll need to keep this one around so I can re-read it before the next one comes out.

My grade: A-

Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer

Thanks to Kristie, CindyS, and several others, for recommending this book to me. For some reason I thought this was a western but it actually takes place in Georgia in 1941, just before Pearl Harbor. MG was an emotional book about two very damaged people and the healing power of love. Both of them were unloved growing up and their story was heart wrenching and uplifting. Eleanor Dinsmore is a pregnant widow with two small boys living on a rundown farm. Will Parker is an ex-convict just fired from his job when he answers Ellie's advertisement for a husband in the local newspaper. The way these two grow to love each other over time was wonderful.

The secondary characters were three dimensional and vividly real. I especially loved Miss Beasley, the town librarian, who was crusty on the outside but had a heart of gold. My only quibble on this book was that I found it hard to believe that they could sleep together in the same bed for all those months and not have sex. But Will is such a beta hero that thinking about it further made me realize that this would be realistic for his character. And when they finally consummate their relationship it was rather subtle but nice just the same. I wanted some hot steamy sex! *sigh* Spencer just doesn't write that way. But I'm keeping this book to share with a few of my friends and my sister. They gotta love it.

My grade: A-

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Back home

Just got home from our 4 day mini-vacation to Winthrop, Washington. We camped with our RV at Pearrygin State Park where the deer have taken over the park. They came strolling through the campground at all hours of the day and had no fear of humans. They were mostly mama deer and their babies but we did see one buck. At any given time all you had to do was look out the window and spot a deer. I attempted to take a pictures to show you but the battery on my camera went dead. Figures!

Winthrop is the cutest little western town complete with wooden sidewalks and touristy shops and lots of restaurants. It seemed like all we did was eat, eat, eat. There is a fabulous little bakery/candy store with homemade cinnamon rolls and caramel apples. We ate dinner at Jack's Saloon (the oldest saloon in Washington - so they say) which had wonderful food.

Bob golfed twice and I finished three books (YAY!), all three were enjoyable with two of them keepers.

Marriage By Design by Lynn Michaels
Very cute, funny book with a large cast of characters. I'm usually a tough sell when it comes to humor in romance but this one worked for me. No silliness or slapstick (which I normally dislike), just lots of snappy, witty dialogue. In fact, some of it went over my head at first causing me to stop in puzzlement, re-read a passage, and chuckle a bit at the clever writing.

The plot takes place in Kansas City, MO, and gives the reader a glimpse into the world of high fashion bridal design. Mia Savard is a top designer in her father's bridal design company. But she is tired of designing bridal gowns and is trying to convince her father to move her to the trousseau department where she can design a variety of garments. Unfortunately, there is a traitor in their midst. Mia's newest bridal gown design for the govenor's daughter is stolen and appears in an ad for their competitor. Mia's father, Lucien, hires Joseph Kerr, a private investigator, to find out the identity of the traitor. Mia and Joe are immediately attracted to each other and love soon follows.

I liked Mia who was rather sassy but very intelligent. Joe was harder to figure out but I think the problem was that there was not enough story from his POV. The underlying mystery of who stole the design was pretty good. One of the villains was obvious but his accomplice took a bit longer to figure out. My biggest complaint is that there were too many confusing characters to keep track of but I still found this a light, humorous, enjoyable read.

My grade: B

I'm running out of steam. More to follow on those two keepers.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

New (to me) UBS

I managed to make it to a UBS yesterday and found two books that were recommended to me by Cindy (and several others) when I posted my reads from AAR's 100 favorite romances list. This UBS was a new one for me and was a great find. It is about 20-25 minutes away, and is quite large with a nice friendly guy behind the counter. But like a big dummy I forgot my list. Damn. I'll have to get back over there with my list in hand soon.

But I remembered these two:

Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer

For My Lady's Heart by Laura Kinsale

Who knows when I'll get around to reading them.

Bob and I are taking a short vacation, leaving Thursday and coming back on Sunday. When I get back I have to fill in for my boss. Yikes! We shipped our product today *happy dance* so it shouldn't be too tough (I hope). I can't believe they are actually putting me in charge for a week. Whose dumb idea was that?

Reading now: Scandal in Spring by Lisa Kleypas. Pretty good so far, but I don't think I'll love it as much as Devil in Winter. Last night I finished a wonderful old Loveswept category by Glenna McReynolds. Turned out to be a keeper. It qualifies for AngieW's TBR Challenge for September so I'll write up a review for it. I never got around to last month's TBR Challenge because I couldn't get up the energy to read a non-romance. Too busy with work anyway (that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it).

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Just For Kicks by Susan Andersen

Just For Kicks is the followup to Skintight (which I haven't read yet) and was a light and fluffy read.

Carly Jacobsen is a Las Vegas showgirl who rescues stray animals. Wolfgang Jones is the number two in command in the Security Department of the casino where they both work and just happens to be Carly's next door neighbor. As the story begins Carly has sprained her ankle when a little old lady toting a big-ass purse slams into her knocking her off her high heels. Wolf comes to the rescue and offers to give her a ride home. Carly and Wolf can't stand each other. Carly thinks Wolf is an uptight, driven, animal-hater (the worst sin in her opinion). Wolf thinks Carly is flighty, irritating and irresponsible.

Wolf has had a tough upbringing as a child. Because of his father's job, Wolf and his family had to move many, many times in embassies all over the world. He was never able to make close friendships and has issues of acceptance. As an adult Wolf still has almost no friends. But he has a plan... he's going to become head of his own security department, find a nice woman to marry and settle into the perfect life. Even though he thinks Carly is very hot, she is not his type at all. Wolf comes across as very regimented and cold and I found him unlikeable at first. When Wolf's teenage nephew, Niklaus, comes to live with him he is determined to make a good home for him, but Wolf has a very difficult time talking to people about how he feels and causes some misunderstandings with Nik and Carly. I liked Nik and how he schemed to bring Carly and Wolf together. Slowly Wolf loosens up and comes to realize how totally wrong he is about Carly. I enjoyed how her pets seem to adopt him as few humans had. Kind of symbolic and very sweet.

Carly comes across at first as a bit of a ditz. She also had a tough upbringing and has no plans to marry. Carly has a heart of gold and I really liked her. She fosters stray animals from shelters and then trains them to be good pets for others. She volunteers at the local children's hospital and brings her pets to share with the children who are cancer patients and even gives them up for adoption when she feels it's right. One quibble... she liked to call people 'Toots'. Funny the first couple times, after that a bit of an overkill.

This is a character driven story with some fairly good secondary characters. Near the end there is a stalker storyline that seemed sort of tacked on but it wasn't distracting and didn't ruin the fluffiness of the book. JFK had lots of hot steamy sex and was a fun, quick read.

My grade: B

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Manhunting by Jennifer Crusie

Manhunting is Crusie's first book and her incredible talent is obvious from the first page.

Kate Svenson is your typical uptight career woman on the fast track but she has one problem. She's lonely. So Kate and her best friend devise a plan. Armed with a detailed list of qualifications for the perfect husband, she sets off for a Kentucky golf resort that is prime hunting ground for eligible bachelors.

Jake Templeton is part owner of the resort and the most laid back hero I've ever come across. A former tax lawyer who has left the rat race behind, Jake is now the resort's handyman. He and Kate meet and immediately decided the other is not what they are looking for. Jake thinks Kate is too driven and too much like his ex-wife. Kate thinks Jake lacks ambition and does not meet any of the requirements on her list.

Of course, Kate's plans to find Mr. Perfect go wrong time after time with one dating disaster after another with scenes that were absolutely hilarious. Her dates end up either falling in the pool, hit over the head or in the emergency room. And none of it was her fault :) I'm not a real fan of slapstick humor in romance because I think it's too visual and most authors lack the writing talent to pull it off. But this book is the exception. Crusie succeeds superbly and I found myself literally laughing out loud (and scaring the crap out of my cat, thank goodness Bob wasn't home). The only other author who can make me laugh like that is Evanovich with her Stephanie Plum books.

This was a completely character driven book with a charming and engaging H/H. My favorite scenes were those that take place out on the lake. Kate invites herself along with Jake when he goes fishing in a leaky old boat. Jake fishes without bait because he is too lazy to actually want to catch anything and uses that time to nap. The sassy dialogue during these scenes practically sparkles off the page. All that banter made delightful sexual tension culminating in some yummy sex scenes. It was a wonderful moment when these two seeming opposites realize they are perfect for each other.

Manhunting is a deliciously delightful book. Although Crusie's inexperience shows with a bit of head hopping, I enjoyed it from the first page to the last. It's very short so I think I finished it in a couple hours. When I found myself re-reading favorite passages, I realized I had a keeper on my hands. It ranks right up there with Anyone But You and Welcome To Temptation.

My grade: A-

Monday, September 04, 2006

Happy Labor Day

Don't ya just love three day weekends?

Went book shopping at Borders on Saturday looking for the latest new books for September. They haven't had a very good track record of stocking new romances and things were no different this time (but I was hoping). I was particularly looking for Lover Awakened but came up with nada. I'm so jealous of all of you (Cindy, Tara, Sybil.... etc.)

I also looked for Slave to Sensation in the new books section and still no luck. Went over to the romance stacks and there it was! One lonely copy in the entire store. I grabbed it up fast and headed for the checkstand. I know, don't say it, I got out the door with only one book. Hard to believe, but true. But I was a bit pissed at them for not having LA.

I could try the Barnes and Noble but they aren't that romance friendly over there with a bunch of snooty sales clerks. Most of the indy bookstores have gone belly up around here but I remember there was one over at Factoria Square Mall. So I'm heading over there soon.

I'm on a mission!

I have to find it soon because we have our neighborhood Labor Day potluck at 3:30 and I have to be back to cut up fruit.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Miscellaneous crap

The worst is almost over at work. We ship our product on Sept. 1st soon so life should get back to normal for me. I don't have to work this weekend! Woohoo! I better get a raise out of all this crap going on, but *gasp* that means I have to go through a performance review first. Shit, I HATE those.

Went shopping at Target and Borders and bought some more books last Saturday (paid full price and everything :).

Bob loves anything NASCAR so we went to the movies on Saturday and saw Talladega Nights and it sucked big hairy monkey balls. A couple months ago I was awarded free movie tickets for doing something good (?? yeah, I was surprised too) at work so I'm very glad I did not waste my own money on this asinine movie. Well, to be honest, the last half was actually kinda funny and we ended up having a few laughs and the bloopers at the end were funny.

SCORE! I stopped at the library to pick up a book and stopped into their little bookshop that sells used books and found a copy of A Woman Scorned by Liz Carlyle (original print version, not the reprint). I have been looking for this one for a long time and I only paid 50 cents (okay, the cheapskate in me is showing). Don't ya just love it when you finally find a book that you have been searching and searching for and ... there it is for a measly 50 cents. Perked me right up. I actually looked over my shoulder cuz it almost felt like I was stealing :)

I was going to update my sidebar with some new reader blog links but I'm feeling lazy right now. Later.

Anyone update to the new Blogger Beta? I was going to but you need a Google account and I was feeling paranoid. Looks like it has some nifty new features (e.g. Labels). When I'm feeling braver I'll give it a try.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

To the Brink by Cindy Gerard

I read the first book in Gerard's Bodyguard series, To the Edge, and wasn't that impressed with it (gave it a C+) but decided to try the 3rd book in the series after hearing good things about it. Whoever recommend this on their blog, thank you! TTB is a jungle story combined with a second chance story, two of my favorite storylines.

The series is centered around a family security agency called E.D.E.N, Inc. founded by the father and named after his four children (Ethan, Dallas, Eve and Nolan) who are now employed by the agency. As the story begins, Darcy Prescott, Ethan's ex-wife, is in trouble. She works in the diplomatic service in Manila. When a co-worker leaves her a tape just before being killed in an alleged hit and run accident, she calls her ex-husband, Ethan, begging him for help on his answering machine. But before he can return her call she is kidnapped off the streets by terrorists.

Ethan and his siblings all have experience in covert operations so he was the right person for Darcy to call. But Ethan and Darcy have a past which is slowly revealed in several flashbacks. The couple met in Lima, Peru, and fell in love at first sight and marry. Darcy is employed by the diplomatic corp and Ethan is a special forces soldier so they see each other infrequently. After an incident in Tel Aviv when Darcy is attacked and Ethan kills her attacker, their marriage falls apart and they divorce. When Ethan hears Darcy's message and learns of her disappearance, he gathers a rescue team and tracks her to the jungles of the Philippines.

Of course, Ethan and Darcy have never stopped loving each other. I liked both these characters and they made a very likeable couple. Ethan has issues and like a typical male :) doesn't like to talk about them. The action was fast paced and edgy which kept my interest and made it hard to put down. The flashback scenes were interspersed throughout the action and showed how their relationship developed from the beginning with sizzling loves scenes through their breakup. These flashbacks could have been distracting but weren't at all. They helped explain how these two got to the present state of their relationship and I think it was an excellent piece of writing. Gerard's writing reminded me quite a bit of Brockmann's best. The secondary romance was also intriguing but I don't believe that book (#6 - Into the Dark) comes out until next year (damn).

My grade: A-

I'm hoping the first book in the series was a hiccup because I plan on finding book #2, To the Limit (Eve's story) and book #4 - Over the Line. Book #5 - Under the Wire, is scheduled for release in December.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

20 X 20 Meme

I've been a lousy blogger lately. My sidebar needs updating, I have some meme's to post and some reviews to write. I suck. I am behind in visiting everyone's blog and leaving comments.

This will be my first weekend home in a month because we have either been camping or I have been working. So I hope to get caught up but the weather is nice so I want to do some yard work, also go to Target, buy some BOOKS (yes, I purged 29 books from my TBR so far), balance my checkbook, and get my hair cut. I think I'm being overly ambitious.

I went to Costco after work last night and bought two books.

Just For Kicks by Susan Andersen

Irresistible by Susan Mallery

Before tossing them in the cart I practiced my mental talk like CindyS suggested (I deserve it, I deserve it, I deserve it). It worked! And I made it through the checkstand with them. She is also the one who came up with the idea to make a list of our 20 favorite books by 20 different authors. I have to cheat because I tried to keep it to 20 but ended up with 25 like KristieJ. Some of these are the same as hers (Ride the Fire - yes!). I put them in alphabetical order according to author since my brain could not handle ranking them this late at night.

Pride & Prejudice (Austen)
The Notorious Rake (Balogh)
Out of Control (Brockmann)
All Through the Night (Brockway)
Lord of Scoundrels (Chase)
Ride the Fire (Clare)
Duncan's Bride (Howard)
Red Adam's Lady (Ingram) (The best medieval romance evah. Very old - 1973 - and very hard to find - I've read it at least a dozen times, maybe more)
Sleeping Beauty (Ivory)
All Night Long (Jerott)
Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand (Kelly)
Dreaming of You (Kleypas)
Fallen From Grace (Leone)
It Had To Be You (Phillips)
Night in Eden (Proctor)
Thunder and Roses (Putney)
After the Kiss (Ranney)
The Older Woman (Reavis)
A Fine Work of Art (Reed)
One Summer (Robards)
Naked in Death (Robb)
Sea Swept (Roberts)
Joe's Wife (St. John)
A Rose At Midnight (Stuart)
Passion (Valdez)

If I'm not mistaken CindyS has yet to post her list (*tapping foot*). OK, I'll be patient.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Books and RVing

We took the RV out last weekend. Bob picked the camping spot over near Yakima and unfortunately there was one thing not mentioned on their website: MOSQUITOS!!!! Yikes! I slathered myself with insect repellent cream and didn't get any bites. The last day we packed up to leave and I ran from the RV to the car with no repellent (took a total of 5 seconds) and got 4 bites!!! Damn things.

I only managed to finish one book, The Red Heart of Jade by Marjorie M. Liu, over those two days but it was long and had a complicated plot. With 369 pages and non-stop action, I found it slow reading because there was so much going on that I had to re-read portions occasionally. The first chapter made absolutely no sense at all. Dean Campbell is a clairvoyant who works for the Dirk & Steele detective agency (3rd book in the series). He's having a dream where he's burning alive and it took me a while to figure all that out. There seemed to be more blood and guts in this one with an evil dragon shapeshifter that rips people apart and burns them alive. One scene where he rips off a guy's ear and pops it in his mouth to crunch like a potato chip really turned my stomach. That was probably the worst scene.

Mirabelle Lee is a professor of archeology who hasn't seen Dean for 20 years. In fact they were childhood sweethearts who each thought the other was dead. I'm not going to go into the plot because it was very intricate. I loved the setting that starts out in Taipei and moves to HongKong and mainland China. My biggest problem with the book is that it does not have enough romance in it. I would classify it as a paranormal with a smidge of romance.

As a romance I give this one a C, but as a paranormal I give it a B+. Hmm, well, that averages out to about a B-. If you love paranormal, give this one a try, but for those who want romance you will probably be disappointed like me. I plan on reading the next one though and hope for more romance in that.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Top romances meme

Stole this from Tara and Rosario. Here is AAR's list of Top 100 Romances from 1994 2004 (what can I say... I was half asleep).

Bold the books I have read
Italicize the books I intend to read (some are on my TBR)
Plain text for the books I have not read

1. Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase
2. Flowers From the Storm by Laura Kinsale
3. Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer Crusie
4. As You Desire by Connie Brockway
5. Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie
6. Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas
7. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
8. Over the Edge by Suzanne Brockmann
9. All Through the Night by Connie Brockway
10. Sea Swept by Nora Roberts
11. It Had to be You by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
12. A Summer to Remember by Mary Balogh

13. Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer
14. The Proposition by Judith Ivory
15. A Kingdom of Dreams by Judith McNaught
16. Ravished by Amanda Quick
(I have no memory of reading this but it was in the spreadsheet. All her books seem the same after awhile.)
17. Frederica by Georgette Heyer
18. Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand by Carla Kelly
19. MacKenzie's Mountain by Linda Howard
20. Mr. Perfect by Linda Howard
21. The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer
22. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
23. The Bride by Julie Garwood
24. Devil's Bride by Stephanie Laurens
25. To Have and to Hold by Patricia Gaffney
26. Born in Fire by Nora Roberts
27. Winter Garden by Adele Ashworth
28. Gone Too Far by Suzanne Brockmann
29. The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn

30. Saving Grace by Julie Garwood

31. My Dearest Enemy by Connie Brockway
32. In the Midnight Rain by Barbara Samuel
33. The Windflower by Laura London
34. Naked in Death by J.D. Robb
35. Whitney, My Love by Judith McNaught
36. Nobody's Baby but Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
37. A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux
38. Paradise by Judith McNaught

39. The Shadow and the Star by Laura Kinsale
40. Dream Man by Linda Howard
41. Out of Control by Suzanne Brockmann

42. Silk and Shadows by Mary Jo Putney
43. See Jane Score by Rachel Gibson
44. Shattered Rainbows by Mary Jo Putney
45. Thunder and Roses by Mary Jo Putney
46. The Duke and I by Julia Quinn
47. Heart Throb by Suzanne Brockmann

48. For My Lady's Heart by Laura Kinsale
49. Honor's Splendor by Julie Garwood
50. Lord Carew's Bride by Mary Balogh
51. Untie my Heart by Judith Ivory
52. Dream a Little Dream by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

53. The Secret by Julie Garwood
54. This is All I Ask by Lynn Kurland
55. Slightly Dangerous by Mary Balogh
56. One Perfect Rose by Mary Jo Putney
57. To Love and to Cherish by Patricia Gaffney
58. Kiss an Angel by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
59. Heaven, Texas by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

60. Venetia by Georgette Heyer
61. Daughter of the Game by Tracy Grant
62. The Prize by Julie Garwood
63. Reforming Lord Ragsdale by Carla Kelly (I've been looking for this one for years)
64. Prince Joe by Suzanne Brockmann
65. The Notorious Rake by Mary Balogh
66. Heartless by Mary Balogh
67. Son of the Morning by Linda Howard
68. Sleeping Beauty by Judith Ivory
69. Where Dreams Begin by Lisa Kleypas

70. The Devil's Cub by Georgette Heyer
71. The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons
72. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegar
73. With This Ring by Carla Kelly
74. The Lion's Lady by Julie Garwood
75. The Rake by Mary Jo Putney
76. Fallen from Grace by Laura Leone
77. Always to Remember by Lorraine Heath
78. Castles by Julie Garwood
79. One Good Turn by Carla Kelly
80. Chesapeake Blue by Nora Roberts

81. By Arrangement by Madeline Hunter (TBR)
82. Perfect by Judith McNaught

83. My Darling Caroline by Adele Ashworth
84. The Defiant Hero by Suzanne Brockmann
85. The Unsung Hero by Suzanne Brockmann
86. Guilty Pleasures by Laura Lee Guhrke
87. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
88. Kill and Tell by Linda Howard
89. After the Night by Linda Howard
90. More than a Mistress by Mary Balogh
91. Born in Ice by Nora Roberts

92. Miss Wonderful by Loretta Chase
93. The Charm School by Susan Wiggs
94. Scoundrel by Elizabeth Elliott

95. How to Marry a Marquis by Julia Quinn (Done with Quinn)
96. Angel Rogue by Mary Jo Putney
97. Trust Me by Jayne Ann Krentz (Done with Krentz)
98. Dancing on the Wind by Mary Jo Putney
99. Once and Always by Judith McNaught
100. This Heart of Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Wow, I can't believe this! I've read 76 with 7 in my TBR and 17 not read. I plan to read Morning Glory and Reforming Lord Ragsdale (if I can ever find a copy) but I'm not sure of the other 15. I've given up on Quinn and Krentz, and I'm holding off on more Garwoods because I'm not sure I'm going to read the ones in my TBR. I read The Bride and wasn't too crazy about it but I'd like to give her one more try before giving up on her.

Wouldn't it be nice if someone at AAR would volunteer to update this list? I bet it would look completely different now. Someday I'm going to make up my own 100 favorite romances list. Uh, wait a sec, that sounds like work.

Wow, I haven't touched my blog in over 6 years and I'm still logged in!  Good thing because I have no idea what my password is.  In ...