Monday, February 27, 2006

Author visits

Sorry I have been MIA for a while. I think I had writer's block or something (or maybe it's called blog block like Cindy said).

I just got a comment from another author who found one of my reviews. I re-read the review and kind of cringed a bit at first at my snarkiness. A bit harsh but not over the top, I think. My first instinct was to apologize all over the place but really I think it was an honest review based on my own interpretation so no apologies are necessary. Here's the link in case you want to read what I said.

In the review I mentioned the positive along with the negative and I also mentioned that I enjoyed her two previous books more than the book I was reviewing. I must say that the author's comments were very gracious and not defensive at all.

Sorry to read that "Honeymoon Suite" didn't work for you, but I appreciate your honest review. Not every book is every reader's cup of tea and I know that. I've taken a few headsmacks for "HS," mostly about Chase, but that's okay. I'm a big girl, I can take it. In hindsight, I wish I'd written an author's note warning readers that Chase McKay is the most real hero I've ever written -- most real in terms of being most like a real man -- so don't be too hard on him. But I didn't so there you are. You take your lumps and move on. I do appreciate you recommending "Mother of the Bride" and "Return Engagement." That's very nice of you, thanks. My next book, "Marriage By Design," comes out in July. Hopefully, you'll like that one better. I've enjoyed reading your blog and wish you the best. -- Lynn Michaels


Wasn't that nice? Makes me want to read her next one so I'll definitely be looking for it. I checked out her new blog and left her a comment thanking her for visiting.

This reminded me of all the discussion recently about a post at RTB from an author who quit writing reviews because she didn't want to review a book she didn't like and that reviewers were becoming too mean spirited like Simon on AI. I won't rehash that whole argument but I agreed with Tara Marie, Karen Scott, Mary Stella and others who disagreed with her. It was a lively discussion. I think reviewers can be honest about books we dislike without descending into personal attacks. Our purpose is to inform and entertain readers. If a writer can't stand criticism then they should find another profession IMHO. 'Nuf said.

Has anyone ever had an author visit your blog to make a comment about a book you disliked? Were they polite? How did you feel about them before and after their visit? Did it change your view of them?

Monday, February 20, 2006

I'm richer by far

Back from Vegas and I tell you I'm rolling in dough! Yeah, I'm ahead $26 (such a high-roller). They've got these new penny machines now. You pick how many lines across you want (I usually pick the max of 15 or 20 lines depending on the machine) and place your bet of 1 cent per line. I started out with $1 and sitting next to my mother-in-law just watching her and decided to try it. So I built up my $1 to $27 in the course of the evening after we had dinner. Decided to quit while I was ahead. Of course, Bob lost about $10 but he got some free drinks out of it so he was happy. We just are not gamblers but it was fun to hang out with Bob's folks. But, my goodness, the smoke in those casinos is horrendous. GAG *cough cough cough...* then your clothes and hair stinks. And the cigar smokers! Words fail me.

The flight out was fine (finished A Rose at Midnight which I loved to pieces, it's a keeper) but the flight back was on an MD-80 and Bob and I were in the back. I was seated next to the window but all I could see was the engine! And LOUD! When they pass out foam earplugs before the flight for everyone in the back of the plane, you know you are in trouble. But it was OK because I stuck in the earplugs and read the entire 2-1/2 hours from Vegas to Seattle and finished The Devil's Waltz and started on Summer Breeze. I loved TDW almost as much as ARAM.

OK, everyone else did this so I had to do it too:




My blog is worth $10,726.26.
How much is your blog worth?


Off to bed, I'm pooped.

Friday, February 17, 2006

For CindyS and other AS fangirls

Some of you may already have discovered Anne Stuart's website but I had not seen it before. I was looking for some images for two Anne Stuart books for yesterday's post when I stumbled upon it. While there I found the cover image for her next book out in November 2006 titled Cold As Ice.

Here's the cover:

Also I found a blurb:

A brief stop on a multimillion dollar yacht should have been the perfect start to Genevieve Spencer's desperately-needed sabbatical in the jungles of Costa Rica, far from the stress of her law practice. It should have been so simple - have the client sign some papers and be on her way.

But she hadn't counted on Van Dorn's deceptively bland assistant, Peter Jensen, suddenly transforming into the most dangerous man she'd ever met. She hadn't counted on becoming a hostage aboard a hijacked yacht. And she certainly hadn't counted on her reaction to Jensen. The man was gorgeous, deadly, and cold as ice. For the first time in her life all her instincts were dead wrong.

And if she didn’t figure out how to get out of this trap, she’d be in the same situation. Wrong. And dead.

Yum! I can hardly wait. She also has a guestbook for all us fangirls to gush all over. I was tempted to leave a message on the guestbook but I was afraid I would embarrass myself with my slobbering gushes and general fawning.

She has a new blog she started the end of January. It's probably not that interesting to most readers since it's a writers blog where she discusses the writing process, her latest work in progress, deadlines, etc., but I thought it was interesting because, hey, it's Anne Stuart. BTW, she talked about a possible title of Blue Ice for the book she's working on. Here's the link to her blog: annestuart.blogspot.com/

I noticed on her Books list that there are many of her categories titles I haven't read but I don't know how good they are. I recently scored a copy of Banish Misfortune at PBS. The trader told me that it was pretty beat up and asked if I still wanted it. I said 'hell, yes!'. I'm not looking for a collectible, I just want to read it. I guess someone else turned it down. Go figure.

OK, I'm offline till Tuesday. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Weekend in Vegas

Bob and I are going to Las Vegas for the 3 day weekend. His folks have a piece of property outside of Vegas that they want to sell and so they are going there for the weekend. They asked us to meet them there so that Bob can look over the real estate papers. I think they want to be sure they are not getting ripped off. They are quite elderly now (in their 80's) and don't trust their own judgment and I can't blame them.

These two amazing people are probably the best mother-in-law and father-in-law I could have. I love them dearly. They have both had heart bypass surgery TWICE and are doing pretty good, but slowing down a little with arthritis and other ailments. We're afraid something could happen to them at any time so we try to spend more time with them. Kind of rough though because they live 1200 miles away in Minot, ND.

I don't really gamble that much but I'll probably hit the slot machines for about 1/2 hour, then I'm done. I usually love to shop in Vegas but Bob's folks can't get around very well so I'm not real sure what else we'll be doing. I hope to get some reading in and relax a little. Bob just asked me if I was bringing my swimming suit. Are you kidding me? With the pasty white skin and rolls of fat? I don't think so.

Of course, can you guess my first concern about what to pack??!!?? Yes, books (easy question). I've got a bunch of books checked out from the library but I better not bring any of those since I'd probably leave one somewhere.

I found a bag of books left over from our vacation last September that I didn't get around to reading yet and thought I should take one of these along. A Rose at Midnight by Anne Stuart was hiding at the bottom of the bag and I immediately sat down and read a couple chapters. Oh. My. God. It's wonderful so far. Why haven't I read this one by now? I've had it in my TBR since before 2003. I'm an idiot. That cover threw me off. Bad cover. Ok, this one goes in the suitcase.

Here's a couple more I'll bring along:

Summer Breeze by Catherine Anderson
This is supposed to be a sequel to Keegan's Lady which I read so long ago I don't remember that story at all. I'll need to look up a synopsis online to refresh my memory. I took a peek inside SB and there is a geneological chart showing that the present day Coulter family (Sweet Nothings, Bright Eyes, Phantom Waltz, etc.) are related to the characters from Keegan's Lady and SB.


I don't think I'll need more than two, but I'll bring The Devil's Waltz (another Anne Stuart) along just in case. You can't have too many books by AS along.


Now I need to figure out clothes. I wonder what the weather's like so I better go look for a weather site. Hope it's sunny. We're going to try to bring one suitcase so I have to try not to bring the whole closet along.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Good news

Dad had his CT scan today and after a very brief look at the xrays Dad's doctor doesn't see any cancer in the lymph nodes. She and the tech will go over the xrays more closely in the next few days. She also doesn't see the need to remove the urethra. But she definitely sees the need to do the surgery on schedule, because of the rate of growth. She is satisfied with the surgery date of March 3rd and I'll be there for that. After another lengthy explanation about the two different surgeries (neobladder/resect vs. bladder removal/illiolupe) Dad will go with the bladder removal.

I can't believe how relieved I feel that Dad is having surgery to remove his bladder but the alternative was pretty grim especially for someone of his age (71). It's strange how a person can feel glad about the removal of a major body part. Dad sounded so upbeat when I talked to him tonight. Yay!

Tomorrow will be the anniversay of my mom's passing and although I miss her so much, it will be a good day. I feel hopeful for Dad's health outlook.

It also helps that the weather has been sunny but cold. That always improves my mood too. Bob and I are flying to Las Vegas to meet his folks so I feel like a weight has been lifted and we can now enjoy ourselves.

Thank you everyone for all your prayers and caring support. I'm starting to feel kind of mushy so I'll shut up now. ;)

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Klutzy

Damn, I'm such a klutz. Every morning I make myself a latte with my little espresso maker, then sit down for 15 minutes to read at the kitchen table while I sip a bit of it before heading out the door for work. This morning I picked the cup up by the lid (stupid, stupid, stupid) and it came off, dumping the entire contents of my latte all over my brand new book, The Mysterious Miss M by Diane Gaston. Shit, shit, shit! The entire kitchen table was floating and the mess waterfalled into my shoes on the floor. Lovely! And I was doing so well this morning, I was actually going to be early for work.

Thank goodness I had a cloth book cover on the book and only the edges got soaked, so I'll still be able to read it I hope. I'll have to let it dry and hope the pages don't stick together. What else can you do for a wet book? Now the pages will dry all ripply and I probably won't be able to trade it.

I guess I should be glad it wasn't a library book. A few years ago I had a car with a sun roof (loved that car) and left it outside in the rain with the sun roof open (I know, I'm an idiot!). There floating in a puddle in the front seat was my library book! Thankfully, they let me replace it rather than having to pay the full price. I found a used like new copy at the UBS. I was afraid Bob would have a fit about the soaked interior of the car but he just shrugged. Water dries, he says. Go figure. But it's hell on books.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

February TBR Challenge

The month is not yet half over and I have already read my TBR challenge book for AngieW. This month's theme was to read a new-to-you author. So I got out my spreadsheet to find one and looky there, the first book at the top fit the bill.

Title: The Secret Swan

Author: Shana Abé

Year published: 2001

Why did you get this book? I saw the review at AAR which gave it an A and a Hot sensuality rating. Plus a bonus... it's a medieval romance.

Do you like the cover? Eh. Green and blue... Seahawk colors was my first thought. Cover is by Alan Ayers and he has done some beautiful covers but this one is not.

Did you enjoy the book? It was okay. I have to disagree with AAR's grade and sensuality rating. Definitely not an A and definitely not Hot. I had several problems with this book.

Was the author new to you and would you read something by this author again? Yes, I'll try one more. I checked out Abé's latest, The Smoke Thief, from the library because so many people have raved about it (Keishon recommended it, too).

Are you keeping it or passing it on? Passing it on to the book trading group.

Anything else? I have mentioned before that secrets that go on too long make me twitchy. I think the secret in this book went on just a smidge too long. Tristan and Amiranth marry when she is only fifteen. She has secretly been in love with him for years while he is not too thrilled with the marriage. He dumps her at a secluded estate and leaves her to go off to war in France where he gets himself immediately captured and imprisoned for the next 8 years. When he finally escapes from prison he goes back for her and discovers the plague has decimated the population and Amiranth is one of its victims. Her cousin, Lily, is living completely alone at the estate and of course she looks EXACTLY like Amiranth. It won't take much brain power to figure out her secret. Despite this I actually enjoyed Abé's smoothly flowing prose.

I really liked Tristan and how he slowly falls in love with 'Lily' and when he finally tells her I actually believe it. Amiranth took a long time to tell him of her love and seemed to hang onto her anger and resentment but it was understandable and realistic. The secret of Amiranth's identity was revealed at three-fourths of the way through the book, a bit later than I like. The rest of the characters were sort of flat and seemed like wallpaper to me. My last complaint was I felt ripped off with AAR's Hot sensuality rating . NOT HOT. There was one sex scene and some sexual tension leading up to it, but it was pretty tame by my standards. Update: After thinking more and more about what irritated me about this book last night, I changed my mind and my grade. I'll give it a C+

Friday, February 10, 2006

I'm goofing off

Big ship party today at work. We have all been working our tails off to get a release of our software products that can be demo'd at a large conference in Spain (no, I don't get to go, I'm a lowly worker bee). I flashed my device (sounds sexy, huh?) and packed up my hardware to give to the BizDev guys last night. So off they went, and now everyone is taking a breather. Party at 1:00 at Parlor Billiards in Bellevue. Not that exciting, really, but there'll be food, beer, and people can shoot pool and play video games for those who care for that kind of thing (which I don't). Just goof off time for the whole afternoon. Yay!

I'm reading my book for the TBR challenge (see my sidebar): Secret Swan by Shana Abé. About a third of the way through and I'm enjoying it. I really should avoid books with the word 'secret' in the title because I notice that if a secret goes on too long I get pissed off, but I'm not there yet. It was driving me crazy so I peaked ahead a little to see if hero figures out heroine's secret soon and it looks like he does. Whew, I really didn't want to have to throw this one against the wall.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Blood Moon Over Britain by Morag McKendrick Pippin

I found Pippin's debut book, Blood Moon Over Bengal, very promising so I knew I would be looking for her next release. Blood Moon Over Britain is not a sequel to Bengal so I can't quite figure out why the title is so similar or what the significance is of 'blood moon.' I'm clueless. Sounds kind of vampirey or werewolfy (is that a word?), doesn't it, but it's definitely not. Maybe there was an author's note in the book on this but I missed it. I took it back to the library anyway so I can't look it up. If anyone knows let me know.

I can't remember reading any romance set in this place and time, and I was so pleased to find that Britain is even better Bengal. This historical romantic suspense is a spy thriller set in 1942 Britain, a very bleak period in Britain's history. They are fighting the Nazis almost alone and trying to deal with severe rationing, blackouts and the constant fear of nightly bombing raids.

Alistair Fielding is an Inspector with Scotland Yard when he is called to investigate an apparent suicide. But he quickly realizes that things are not what they seem. When he meets the victim's cousin, Cicely Winterbourne, he is convinced that she is hiding something. Cecily claims to be a lowly file clerk. But in reality she is involved with the German Enigma Code, a top secret government codebreaking project.

Soon Alistair learns that Cecily is deeply involved in this project when she reveals one particulary nasty secret that absolutely appalls him. Alistair is very attracted to her but doesn't trust her even when he is falling in love with her. Cecily is a fantastic heroine. She's intelligent, independent and incredibly strong. I really liked her.

BMOB is fast paced and absolutely riveting. It turns into a road romance quickly and follows the H/H's progress from London across the British countryside to Cornwall via train, boat, car, and on foot. They get separated somewhere in the middle of the book when Alistair becomes extremely ill and Cecily must continue her journey alone, but they come back together near the end.

I enjoyed the spies and intrigue which was meshed very well with the romance and sizzling sex scenes. Alistair and Cecily, and the secondary characters are all fully drawn. Pippin has done her homework to get the historical accuracy right. The dialogue and attitudes from that era (plus British terminology) was realistic but the slang was a little overwhelming at first. Luckily, Pippin helps the reader with a slang glossary in the back of the book which I only had to refer to a couple of times. If you're looking for something unusual, this book (which was my favorite road romance of 2005) will fit the bill.

My grade: B+

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Any Rich Man Will Do by Francis Ray

Last October I enjoyed an issue of AAR's ATBF about African American romances that discussed racism in romance and readers attitudes and prejudices. It also featured articles by author Monica Jackson and KarenS (love her blog). This excellent ATBF issue got me thinking about the few AA romances I have read in the past and made me want to try another. In November AAR reviewed this book and it looked interesting so I decided to give it a try.

ARMWD is a redemption story about a young woman , Jana Franklin, who has hit bottom in a big way. Living in a fleabag hotel with no money for rent, she dresses up in her last designer dress (all the rest having been sold) and crashes a high-society charity gala hoping to bag another rich man to support her. But her past catches up to her and she is thrown out. She is humiliated, flat broke, starving, and desperate when she stumbles into Olivia Maxwell's luxury linen boutique and faints at her feet. Tyler, Olivia's brother, is there too and, fearing a lawsuit, determined not to trust Jana when kind-hearted Olivia takes her under her wing and gives her a job and a place to stay.

Jana is a world class people-user and manipulator of men who has used her looks and her body to get what she wants, just like her mother did. She had cheated on her former husband and alienated all of her friends by her bitchy behavior; a totally unsympathetic character.

All of Jana's bad behavior takes place before the beginning of the book. Over the course of the book Jana changes into a strong admirable person and I liked how Jana never feels sorry for herself but sees clearly that she created her own problems, and has hurt people, but is now determined to change. However, Olivia is almost too good, generous, and perfect to be believed. She is a mother struggling to raise her son (who was also perfect) alone and becomes Jana's first real friend. I didn't expect to find so many references to God and Jana's religious beliefs. The minister's wife was also too good and non-judgmental to be believed. All of these too good characters made a stark contrast to bad girl Jana and maybe that was the author's purpose. But the goody two-shoes characters stopped short of making me gag thankfully.

Tyler comes to see the good in Jana before Jana herself does and the story has a very fairy tale kind of feel to it. The secondary romance between Olivia and Julian was also enjoyable. This was not a perfect book but I enjoyed it enough to want to try something by Francis Ray again.

My grade: B-

Friday, February 03, 2006

Update on Dad

Sorry I've been gone a while. Been horrendously busy at work which is good because it keeps me from thinking too much. Talked to Dad on Wednesday and the truth he was keeping from us came out.

On my last blog about Dad I told how his doctor told him that he has to have his bladder removed. He has been very depressed and talking about death all the time. When I talked to him on Wednesday he told me something else that he left out of the initial bad news. The doctor said that he has to go in on February 15th and have a CT scan to check for cancer in the lymph nodes. If they find cancer, they will not remove the bladder because it is too late and there is nothing else they can do. My heart just dropped into my shoes. I really didn't know what to say. But I guess my instincts took over and I told him and Gay that there was no sense getting worked up and worrying about it. Let's just take one step at a time. I thought about KristieJ's post about this same attitude. I think that's what they wanted to hear too but I know they're worried and I'm a natural worrier.

My two sisters are going to be with Gay when Dad has the CT scan on the 15th and when he gets the results that same day. I'm a complete coward!! I just can't be there because I'm so scared that if the news is bad I'm going to fall apart. The strange thing is my mom died on February 16th, 1999. So if the news is bad, the 16th is going to be a very bad day for us all.

I'm very confused about what the doctor told him. I just can't believe they would just give up with all treatments if they find cancer in the lymph nodes. But my sister will ask all those questions. In the meantime my sisters and brother and I have been exchanging emails about living wills and power of attorney. My brother has been acting like a overbearing know-it-all but I have ignored all his emails. I figure that's how he handles this kind of stress. While my sisters and I are more emotional.

Please forgive me for this very depressing post. I should have warned you at the beginning. Thanks for all your support. Just writing down all my fears here has helped me feel better so hopefully I can keep it together.

There is a bit of good news. Dad told me that next time he goes into the doctor he will tell her about his depression and ask for some medication for it (and Gay will make sure he does). That's a major step for Dad.

I have been able to read some good and not so good books. I have a few half finished reviews but I've been spending more of my computer time posting on everyone else's blog. Thanks for listening. I'll post another update when I find out the test results. KristieJ, Tara, and others have all been making me laugh my ass off lately. Thanks ladies! I needed that. :)