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

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