Thursday, March 30, 2006

Me in a nutshell

Just a quick update about my dad. All his tissue samples taken during the bladder surgery came back negative so he is cancer free!! Yay! He is slowly healing and seems to be progressing well.

We had the outside of our house painted. We ended up agreeing on a color called Jubilee that is grey with a tinge of blue, with alabaster trim and a navy blue door. I loved how it turned out and all the neighbors love it. Now three other neighbors want our painter guy to paint their house too.

I'm writing a review but thought I'd better post something before then. I stole this from CindyS and Tara and KristieJ. These memes are a great way to get to know people, don't you think?

1. FIRST NAME? Renée

2. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE? No, my mom just heard it somewhere. I always hated it growing up. I wanted to be a Debbie, Susie, or Laurie like all my friends. It was a 'weird' name and I hated being different. Now I like it because it is different.

3. WHEN DID YOU LAST CRY? Last night as I was finishing the last of In the Cold. Very touching near the end.

4. WHAT IS ON YOUR DESKTOP BACKGROUND? I use Webshots so it changes often. Today at work it is Tropical Plumeria. At home it's a picture of a kitten sleeping cuddled up under the floppy ear of some sleeping dog. Cute.

5. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCHMEAT? Pepper turkey from Safeway deli counter.

6. KIDS? Two. Boy 27 and girl 23. Yeah, I'm old.

7. IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU? Well, of course. I'm a great listener and will only talk your ear off occasionally. I can be very funny too sometimes.

8. DO YOU HAVE A JOURNAL ? Yup, this is it.

9. DO YOU USE SARCASM A LOT? Yeah, I can't help it especially when I'm grumpy.

10. DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR TONSILS? No, had them out at the age of 8 or 9.

11. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP? Not for a penny less then 10 million bucks.

12. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL? Hmm. Today's it's Kashi Go Lean Crunch.

13. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES? Yes, I try to tie them loosely to be able slip them off and on, but they won't stay on my feet.

14. DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG? Most of the time, during family crises or when under stress. But I will occasionally fall apart during private moments.

15. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM FLAVOR? Coffee.

16. SHOE SIZE? 6 - 1/2.

17. RED OR PINK? Pink. I don't wear red.

18. WHAT IS THE LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF? Procrastination. Also, I tend to talk too much with my friends until I remember to shut my mouth.

19. WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST? My mom.

20. WHAT COLOR PANTS AND SHOES ARE YOU WEARING? Brown cordoroy jeans and tan leather Naturalizers.

21. LAST THING YOU ATE? A Marionberry fat free muffin from Starbucks. Yum.

22. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? The guy in the office across from me who clears his throat every 10 seconds (I timed it with my stopwatch). I'm considering strangling him.

23 IF YOU WERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE? Periwinkle blue. My new favorite color. Sort of blue with a tinge of purple. I painted one wall in my kitchen this color.

24. FAVORITE SMELL? Homemade bread baking in the oven. My MIL makes her own bread. Yummy.

25. WHO WAS THE LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO ON THE PHONE? Brian, one of the BizDev guys at work, called me at home on my cell phone at 7:45am today because he was having trouble and needed my help. Another guy I want to strangle. I rushed into work to find he had figured out his problem. (yeah, he can't read directions!... sarcasm;) I'm just too sweet and polite at work, so they are not afraid of me.

26. THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE YOU ARE ATTRACTED TO? Their smile ;)

27. DO YOU LIKE THE PERSON WHO SENT THIS TO YOU? You mean the people I stole this from. Yes, I really like Cindy, Tara, Kristie and all my blogger friends.

28. FAVORITE DRINK? Non-fat sugar-free hazelnut latte from Starbuck's or Tully's.

29. FAVORITE SPORT? I don't think I have one. I like to play tennis but I haven't played in years.

30. HAIR COLOR? Real color - dirty blond. I had a foil color done at the salon last Saturday so now it's Light Natural Blond. Much better.

31. EYE COLOR? Blue with green flecks.

32. DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS? Yes, since I was sixteen.

33. FAVORITE FOOD? Barbecued hamburgers with all the fixings, with fresh corn-on-the-cob from the garden.

34. SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDING? Happy! Name any scary movie (except Jaws) and I have not watched it. Hate them.

35. LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED? The new Pride & Prejudice with Keira Knightley.

36. COLOUR SHIRT ARE YOU WEARING? Cream colored turtleneck sweater.

37. SUMMER OR WINTER? Summer!

38. HUGS OR KISSES? Kisses from Bob. Hugs from everyone else.

39. FAVORITE DESSERT? Any decadent chocolate dessert from Anthony's Homeport Restaurant.

40. WHAT BOOKS ARE YOU READING? Just finished In the Cold by Jeanie London (very good). Just started The Silver Rose by Susan Carroll.

41. WHAT'S ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? Plain black (at work).

42. WHAT DID YOU WATCH LAST NIGHT ON TV? The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

43. FAVORITE SOUNDS? Hmmmm. Baby giggles or a babbling brook. Can't decide.

44. ROLLING STONE OR BEATLES? Beatles. Mick Jagger is just too ugly.

45. THE FURTHEST YOU'VE BEEN FROM HOME? Disney World in Florida.

46. DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT? Musical. I have played in my church's Handbell Choir for the last 12 years. I'm pretty good too.

47. WHEN AND WHERE WERE YOU BORN? June 17th in Fargo, North Dakota.

48.WHY DID YOU ANSWER THIS SURVEY OF YOURSELF? Because I had nothing better to blog about today. I'm at work and just finished a test pass so I'm taking a breather.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Weekend plus misc. stuff

I watched the new Pride and Prejudice movie with Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen and while it didn't totally suck, I was disappointed. I can't help comparing it to the A&E version with Colin Firth and the new version did not hold up in the comparison.

MacFadyen's version of Darcy's brooding looks was more like a pathetic puppy and wow, I hate his nose. I think Keira was too beautiful for the part, Jane was not shy enough and Lydia was horrible. Mrs. Bennet was not grating enough delivering her lines in a soft spoken manner completely destroying their meaning. I liked Donald Sutherland but he's always magnificent. The furniture on the set looked more Victorian than Regency (although I'm no expert). I suppose I could go on tearing it to shreds but Keira and Matthew actually started to grow on me and I liked them both in the last quarter of the movie. The outdoor scenes were beautifully dramatic, especially Elizabeth standing on the edge of the cliff with her cape blowing in the wind. I especially liked the end scene with the sun's rays shining through before they kiss.

In other weekend news....

I started Every Breath You Take by Judith McNaught and got about halfway through and realized there was McNaught's usual big misunderstanding and I just wasn't in the mood for it. So I'm taking it back to the library unfinished. I know this is a trademark of McNaught's and have loved Paradise, Perfect, Something Wonderful and many others with a Big Mis. But this time I wasn't in the mood for a rich millionaire seducing his way into the sweet heroine's bed then calling her a slut whore (the bastard) when he finds out about her supposed betrayal. (Spoiler: He gives no thought to birth control and of course she gets pregnant). Spare me.

GOOD BOOK ALERT: So I randomly picked out In the Cold by Jeanie London from my TBR. It is fabulous and I'm not even halfway through. I actually thought about calling in sick for work :) but restrained myself. It is a romantic suspense that I think Anne Stuart fans would love. I'll let you know if it's worth searching for when I finish.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Romance Book Week Part 2

Am I too late? More questions from CindyS. Very hard questions. Here are my answers such as they are:

1) What romance book do you secretly love?

Gosh, I don't want to admit it. You are all going to be disgusted with me. I have mentioned repeatedly how Catherine Anderson's books are sickly sweet and most of you shy away from them. But one book of hers I really loved: Always in My Heart. It's a marriage in trouble story (which many people hate) about a couple whose two children (which many people hate in romance) run away from home to camp out in the mountains, hoping that this will force their parents back together. And of course, it works. Very sappy, but I loved it and it's on my keeper shelf (in the back where no one can see it). I wager there are some other secret loves, but this is the only one I'll admit to.

2) Name a hero that had you at 'Hello'.

Probably an Anne Stuart hero, which is totally unexplainable. I just recently read A Rose at Midnight and from the beginning of the book one side of my brain kept telling me "this guy is a complete bastard" and the other side was saying "I love this guy". Makes no sense. Maybe it's because I know any AS hero is going to be dark and tortured (my favorite type). So I fall for him immediately. Like Bastien in Black Ice.

3) Name your favorite 80s bodice ripper.

I have blocked out most of them from my memory. Hmmm.. is Something Wonderful by Judith McNaught considered a bodice ripper? I loved it. I need to re-read it to see if I still do love it.

4) What kind of heroine do you wish could be eradicated from the earth?

The type that don't think they are good enough or pretty enough or smart enough for the hero. Their self esteem is in the toilet. Like Cher in the movie Moonstruck, I want to slap the heroine and say "Snap out of it!". When this goes on throughout the whole book and she seems hellbent on ruining the HEA, I want to strangle her. I can see where there are damaged women (victims of abuse, rape, neglect) who need therapy for this but I don't want it dragged on throughout the entire book ad nausem.

5) Can you name a book or scene that you loved even though you know in real life you'd be telling the guy in a real dangerous voice that if he didn't move his hand pronto his ballcourt was going to take a beating.

Oh, this is a really tough one. I like Cindy's suggestion of 'sexy desperation'. So I checked my spreadsheet and came up with Duncan's Bride by Linda Howard. Do you remember the scene where they have sex in the bed of the pickup? Repeatedly. over. and. over. OMG. Can you imagine having sex on that very hard corrugated metal? Can you imagine how that would h.u.r.t.? I think Howard mentions how sore the hero's knees got. But nothing was mentioned about the heroine's back!!! Not to mention, you know, that private area that gets way too sore after only TWO times in a row. I used to tell Bob to back off if he got any ideas about sex on the carpeted floor. Not. comfortable. period. OK, I'll admit we did that a few times (TMI) but never in the back of a pickup! I need a mattress. Even a sleeping bag would be rough. DB mentioned that the hero puts a shirt under her. Oh, please, give me a break. NO. That won't make it better. Plus the back of a ranch pickup has got to be dusty and dirty. Yuk!

But I LOVE LOVE LOVE that scene. Can someone explain why this is one of my favorite sex scenes of all times? I re-read it whenever I'm in the mood for a very sexy read. I guess I like the fact that he was so extremely desperate to have her and nothing was going to stop him. Not discomfort, not dust, not the fact that the cows were watching (ok I made that up).

Some beta heros

Been doing lots of reading but not many reviews. So I'll play a little catch up. Here are two books I read that have great beta heros.

Both AAR and TRR gave Heiress For Hire by Erin McCarthy a top grade (5 hearts and an A-) but while I enjoyed it, I thought it was a bit too light and fluffy for me. The heroine Amanda is a rich girl whose father has cut her off in an attempt at tough love. Danny gets a big surprise when his eight year old daughter Piper, who he had no idea existed, is dumped on his doorstep. Danny is a wonderful beta hero who becomes an instant father and knows instinctively how she is starved for love and attention. I'm not crazy about children in romance but as long as they are well behaved I can tolerate them. Piper has been terribly neglected and emotionally abused and it doesn't take Danny and Amanda (and the reader) long to fall in love with her. Amanda was a bit shallow and I didn't completely buy her transformation from a spoiled rich girl whose only concern is her clothes, hair, shoes, etc. into a responsible adult that takes care of Piper while Danny works on the farm. The humor was good and not too silly but I didn't see the need for the paranormal aspect with the ghost. I loved the way Amanda related with Piper and understood her needs. Amanda's character growth was believable but the ending resolution with her father was a bit too convenient. My grade: B

Summer Breeze by Catherine Anderson is a sequel to Keegan's Lady, a frontier historical, that ties in with the contemporary Coulter family series (Baby Love, Phantom Waltz, Sweet Nothings, Blue Skies, Bright Eyes, and My Sunshine) where many of the heroines are the victim of some kind of disease or disability. SB deals with Rachel Hollister's intense fear and anxiety. She has barricaded herself into the kitchen of her home after witnessing the massacre of her entire family five years before. Her ranch foreman, Darby, is her only contact with the outside world. After Darby is injured, Joseph Paxton agrees to protect Rachel and provide for her needs. Joseph is another terrific beta hero. Joseph accepts Rachel's fears and bends over backwards to make her feel safe. This is a sweet romance with some nice sensuality. Even with her fears Rachel is a fighter. But there were a couple of points I found hard to believe. First, the townspeople's attempts to make her small world brighter seemed off. I think most people of that era would have labeled her as crazy because of lack of knowledge about phobias. Second, her recovery from this intense fear was way to fast. Maybe Rachel's fear and anxiety attacks would be described as agoraphobia today, so I find it hard to believe that someone could be completely 'cured' with the love of a good man in six weeks or so. Still the saccherine quality of Anderson's usual style was not too overwhelming and I enjoyed it. My grade: B

Sometimes I'm in the mood for a beta hero, and these two books filled the bill.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

A Crime of the Heart by Cheryl Reavis

I had every intention at the beginning of the year to whittle down the number of category books in my TBR. I haven't had much success so far. But the other day I picked up an old category and it turned out to be very deep, a bit dark, and a real buried treasure.

ACOTH is an excellent story of an inter-faith relationship between Adam who is Amish and Quinn who is ... not Amish. And here lies the main confict of the book. Adam and Quinn are childhood friends who become sweethearts then lovers. This story is filled with angst and very deeply emotional. Before reading this book I have always thought of the Amish people as sweet and gentle. But there is a dark side to their religion that I found disturbing. When a member goes against the rules of their very rigid community they can be 'shunned'. This is an extremely cruel practice where the person shunned is never spoken to again and they lose all their posessions. This is the way the leaders control their members so they don't dare step outside their world and I found it very cult-like and cruel. Of course if that person were to repent and ask forgiveness which I think involves prostrating themselves in front of the whole community, they are forgiven. Nice. So the person can live in misery as a non-person within the community, or leave their family and friends never to see or speak to them again, or kowtow to their rigid rules and leaders.

So when Adam and Quinn fall in love and want to be together, he has a choice of being shunned or leaving his family. Quinn makes that decision for him trying to do what she thinks is best for him and she goes away. The story begins 11 years later when she buys her parent's old house and finds Adam is doing the restoration work. And he still wants her. I think I was on the verge of tears throughout most of the book. Reavis is an excellent writer and I read it in one sitting. The characters were well drawn and so real. The sex scenes were steamy, emotional and well written. The HEA was unusual in that it was both happy and sad. An excellent book, but the h/h plight was so painful that I don't think I'll be able to read it again. If you like Reavis, definitely give this on a try.

My grade: B+

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Sweet Water by Anna Jeffrey

Georgeous cover, huh? The cover (I want that top she's wearing. It would go great with my jean skirt) and the fact that AAR gave the book an A- was the reason I picked up this book.

Sweet Water is a totally character-driven romance filled with quirky interesting characters.

Marisa Rutherford has returned to the small town of Agua Dulce in desolate West Texas where she had lived most of her life to care for her mother who has developed Alzheimer's Disease and run her mother's café and flea market. Agua Dulce, population 10, and its surrounding land is a privately owned town with a motel, gas station, and cafe/flea market/hair salon. The kind of town that if you blinked while driving through, you'd miss it. The entire town is thrown into a tizzy when they find out that their town has been sold on eBay.

Terry Ledger is a wealthy real estate speculator who buys the town in an eBay auction and plans to develop the land and replace all the existing businesses with brand new shiny ones. Terry is the kind of developer we love to hate. He's out to get richer and is unconcerned about throwing these people out of their homes and jobs. Marisa is the town's unofficial mayor and she takes on the task of dealing with the new owner to make sure everyone is treated fairly.

Besides the fact I hated the hero's name (Terry), I really hated this guy at first based on my bias against Donald Trump types who are out to get rich on the backs of the sick, elderly, and those just barely scraping by.

When Terry first visits the town and meets Marisa there is instant chemistry between them. But he does not reveal his identity to her (another point against him for me). But his identity is eventually revealed and he gets to know the townspeople and sees them as human beings who need his help with this traumatic change in their life. However, Terry was a rather flat character and I wanted to see more emotion from him.

Marisa is a wonderful character who fiercely defends her town and its people while trying to run her mother's business and care for her ailing mother. Caring for an Alzheimer's patient at home I know from personal family knowledge is extremely difficult and stressful. Marisa comes across as a very caring woman but not a saint or martyr.

There is very little action but the story flows smoothly and I read it quickly. The quirky characters were realistic and enjoyable. The sensual tension between H/H slowly builds into a very steamy sexy love scene which was worth the price of the book :) Although I was a bit disappointed that SW did not lived up to AAR's grade, I still enjoyed it.

My grade: B-

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Romance Book Week

CindyS came up with these questions and said they were easy but she lied :) This is probably my fault since I have a tendency to ramble. I tried using my book tracking spreadsheet but it was only marginally helpful. I had to go from memory and my brain is filled with too much useless information.

1. Name your all-time favourite male character.

I like dark heroes best. Usually those from Anne Stuart or Linda Howard really float my boat. But for some reason Roark from J. D. Robb's 'In Death' captures my fancy. He's the one hero who makes my heart flip. I love his intelligence and his single minded focus on Eve. I love when this arrogant alpha male fell flat on his ass for Eve from the very beginning. I remember in Naked in Death he finds a button that Eve lost from her jacket after she had interviewed him as a suspect in a murder case. He saves the button as a keepsake. Well, he had me right there. It doesn't hurt that he is gorgeous and a billionaire to boot. He accepts Eve quirks and all and is always in the background making her life easier and protecting her even when she doesn't want it. And he treats her like an equal. Sigh. I could go on but I'll spare you.

2. What is your favourite setting? Historical / Contemporary or otherwise. Why?

I loved history as a HS student so when I started reading romances I always gravitated to historical romances. I enjoy almost any time period if well drawn. I don't care for fluffy historicals where the dialogue and setting are not well researched although I don't consider myself a stickler for accuracy. I am getting tired of regency set historicals but haven't given them up entirely. I like medievals and renaissance books and historicals set in unusual places like India, Egypt, China, and Australia. I read a couple books set in ancient Rome by Gillian Bradshaw that were fascinating.

3. What trait in a hero can you not abide?

Arrogance or the attitude that they know what is best for the heroine and everyone else. Part of the problem here is that the heroine is too meek and submissive. An arrogant hero only works when he's balanced with a kickass heroine to whip him into line. (See #1 & #4)

4. Who's your favourite heroine of all time?

Has to be Eve (see #1). She is so incredibly wounded but kickass tough. Her growth in this series is phenomenal. She's intelligent, loyal, and I liked how she is madly in love with Roarke but not in a sappy sweet way. I even like her fear of children and her battles with Sumerset.

5. What is your favourite genre?

Historical romance used to be my favorite but I'm getting tired of the regency period. I beginning to like american frontier set historicals (i.e. Cheryl St. John and Pamela Clare). I also really like romantic suspense, but I hate lots of blood, rape, physical abuse, crazed serial killers, torture, sex slaves, child abuse, animal cruelty so I'm picky about what I'll actually finish. But I do like the mystery aspect of them. I would like to find books that combine history with romantic suspense but the few I have read don't have enough romance or senuality (OK, I want more sex than half a page).

6. What genre do you dislike the most? What is it that grates?

Fantasy. I hate stupid names with apostophes and names that I can't pronounce. I hate too much world building and unrealistic plots (ok, I can hear you thinking "but it's fantasy, stupid" and I say "but it still has to be realistic, so back off"). I hate overly alpha males which seem to populate most of this genre.

Update: I probably should clarify what I mean by fantasy. I tend to think of fantasy as the magical, mystical type of romances as opposed to the more 'practical' romances such as futuristics, vampires, werewolves, and science fiction I like.

7. If you have ever read books from the genre you don't like is there at least one book from that genre that you could recommend?

No, I can't think of one.

8. List some examples of books that represent the best of the romance genre.

The Notorious Rake by Mary Balogh
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas
Bliss / Dance by Judy Cuevas
Fallen from Grace by Laura Leone
It Had to Be You by SEP
Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer Crusie
Mackenzie's Mountain by Linda Howard
A Rose at Midnight by Anne Stuart
Sea Swept by Nora Roberts
Naked in Death by JD Robb

I could go on but I'll stop now.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

What romantic heroine are you?

This is too funny. After teasing some people about not having read Pride and Prejudice, I stole this from Ag today:



What romantic heroine are you?




You are Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice. Sometimes you are too quick to judge people. You are fairly happy with life - you certainly love to laugh at its absurdities.
Take this quiz!




OK, I don't look anything like her. But I like to think I have her ability to laugh at the absurd. :)

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

March TBR Challenge

This month's TBR challenge is to read a historical.

Title: It Happened One Autumn

Author: Lisa Kleypas

Year published: 2005

Why did you get this book? I generally enjoy Kleypas and since KristieJ enjoyed it I decided I must read it too. Also I read the previous book in the Wallflower series, Secrets of a Summer Knight, and plan on reading all of them.

Do you like the cover? Eh. Don't hate it. Don't love it.

Did you enjoy the book? Yes, it was pretty good but not her best (I find myself always hoping for another Dreaming of You.) I liked it better than the first installment in the series. The plot was tighter and the characters were more enjoyable. The heroine, Lillian, is a headstrong American heiress who comes to England looking for a titled husband. Marcus is a stodgy straitlaced British aristocrat. These two butt heads and the sparks fly. I enjoyed their interactions quite a bit. The characters were well drawn and interesting. A fun read but a bit longer than it need to be. The sex scene was pretty hot and steamy, always a plus for me. My grade: B

Was the author new to you and would you read something by this author again? No, not new to me and I generally enjoy her work. I plan to get the next one in the Wallflower series.

Are you keeping it or passing it on? Passing. Not a keeper.

Anything else? This book won the Best Villian category in the AAR 2005 Reader Poll. I thought there actually were two villains in the book, Lillian's mother and Marcus' friend Sebastian. But I'm assuming that the 'winner' of this cateory is Sebastian. The mother was very evil and a bit over the top.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Four Meme

I'm in heaven. Tomorrow I move into my new office with a window! I have my own office now but it's a cave with no window. I'm solar powered - I need sunlight. Anyway. Here's my answers to the latest meme from CindyS and KristieJ (with my dull boring answers):

Four jobs you have had in your life
1) Mail girl (My dad got me this job when I was 18. This is where I met Bob.)
2) Senior clerk for construction company (where a constr. foreman came into the office every day to stare at my boobs)
3) Secretary for Hewlett Packard (loved this company)
4) Software Test Engineer for Microsoft (hated that job)

Four movies you would watch over and over:
1) When Harry Met Sally (never gets old)
2) Pride & Prejudice (A&E version, all six hours of it)
3) Emma
4) Moonstruck

Four places you have lived:
1) Fargo, ND (born there. Met Bob in WA but he's is born and raised in ND, small world)
2) Tacoma, WA
3) Richland, WA (this is why I am solar powered)
4) Kirkland, WA

Four TV shows you love to watch:
1) Extreme Makeover Home Edition
2) What Not to Wear (TLC)
3) Myth Busters (Discovery)
4) The Daily Show

Four places you have been on vacation:
1) Disney World
2) Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
3) Maui
4) Disneyland

Four websites you visit daily:
1) All About Romance
2) The Huffington Post
3) PaperbackSwap
4) WeightWatchers

Four favorite foods:
1) Cookies (any type - I'm the Cookie Monster)
2) Barbequed hamburgers and fresh corn on the cob
3) Chocolate
4) Chinese food

Four places you would rather be right now:
1) snorkling at Ka'anapali beach in Maui
2) a cruise anywhere warm
3) Florence, Italy
4) Greece

Four friends you are tagging that you think will respond:
1) Keishon
2) Rosario
3) Alyssa
4) cw

Blogger hacking

I finally used Angie's link to a trick on Amit's blog explaining how to use expandable posts only on individual posts of your choosing. The Blogger hack forced the 'read more' link to appear on EVERY post which can be annoying when you have nothing to expand (like on short posts). So now when you see my 'Jump to it!' link there should actually be something more to read! Cool!


Amit also has a new program called labelr that let's you add categories to your blog. It's a beta version so that means it could be buggy so you are warned to use at your own risk.

Here I am sitting late Sunday evening in front of the computer. Rough day. Bob and I have been painting our living room and dining room. We have a vaulted ceiling and this is a major project. Everything done except the giant wall at the end. This wall is about 30 feet wide and at the peak probably 12 feet high. We'll do it next weekend. Bob did the ceiling and I was supposed to do the walls. But after watching me and complaining that I wasn't doing it right, he decided to 'help' me. *big grin* My evil plan worked. We got everything except giant wall done pretty quickly. We will finish next weekend. My body aches all over. I'm finding muscles I didn't know I had.

Oh, and I have this creepy stalker who keeps leaving me spam comments with his ugly picture. I think I'm going to have to turn on comment verification. Sigh.

I better go to bed.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

What Angels Fear by C. S. Harris

What Angels Fear is a historical mystery published under Candice Proctor's new pseudonym, C. S. Harris. I, like many other readers of Proctor's romances, have been mourning her loss to the romance genre. CP wrote this article for Romance Writers of America's RWR but they declined to print it. In this article she says that the romance genre gets no R.E.S.P.E.C.T (hum a little Aretha Franklin with me, ladies) from readers, writers, or publishers.

Now I have great respect for Proctor's writing talent and her decision to go where her heart leads her. In this article I think she was explaining or justifying some of her reasoning for abandoning the romance genre. And although I don't necessarily agree with everything she says, she makes some valid points.

But in my opinion that's not the only reason she abandoned the genre. If CP had really loved writing romances then that's what she would be doing. Yes, respect for your work is nice but if you have passion for what you're doing nothing will keep you from it. After all, if respect were all writers needed then there would no longer be any more romances written, except maybe Nora. I bet she gets respect just from the amount of money she rakes in.

CP obviously loves writing and is very talented, but I don't think she really loved writing romances. Her romances were wonderful but few and far between. But I wonder why she chose mysteries or maybe the genre didn't matter. With her degree in Classics and a Ph.D. in European History, maybe she feels that writing historical mysteries is a better use of her skills.

I'm beginning to very much appreciate the authors who stick with the romance genre and work to change attitudes in their own small way. Change takes a long time and comes about in small increments. To all you romance authors out there thinking of changing genres: Don't abandon ship!!! I don't want to have to envision a world with no romances.

Where was I? Oh, yeah, I was going to write a review and boy is this getting LONG. So I'll try to make this short (fat chance).

Set in England on the verge of the Regency period, WAF is an engrossing historical mystery blending political intrigue and suspense. Viscount Sebastian St. Cyr is the prime suspect in the gruesome rape and murder of an actress who has been the mistress to various members of the prime minister's cabinet. In order to clear his name, Sebastian escapes capture by the authorities so he can investigate the murder himself and expose the person who framed him. Using his training in intelligence and his very clever disguises, he begins questioning her friends and looks into her past.

If you enjoy fast paced mysteries with well-developed characters, this book is for you. The historical detail provided a fascinating backdrop to this story. The plot was tight and kept me on edge to its conclusion. Sebastian was an interesting fully drawn character and I loved his side-kick, Tom. There were lots of characters coming in and out of the story but they were all so unique I had no trouble keeping track of the action. And the mystery was a good one.

Some of you may wonder if there is any romance in the story and I'm happy to report that there is a small bit of romance here but it was very minor. Kat Boleyn is one of the victim's friends that Sebastian questions and is his former love that broke his heart years ago. Kat is hiding a secret from him about why she walked out on him. That secret is eventually revealed to Sebastian in a satisfying way. However, several questions were left unanswered and I supposed that's because this book is the first in a series. But I don't like questions left hanging because it feels like I'm being manipulated into buying the next book so that affected my grade. A straight mystery lover would probably give WAF a higher grade.

My grade: B

I'm hoping that Sebastian and Kat work together in this series. The next two books are titled When Gods Die and Why Mermaids Sing. I'll probably get them from the library too. I want to spend my book dollars on authors who actually write romances. That sounds kind of bitchy but, eh, it's my money and I'll support who I want :)

Blogger is giving me headaches

I'm having problems saving.

And I'm trying to figure out the blogger hack of using expandable posts. I hope I don't screw up my whole blog.

Is it working?

I have a long post and I want to use this feature.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Stalking Anne Stuart

I admit I find myself hanging out at Anne Stuart's website occasionally. She just won these three awards at AAR's 2005 Reader Poll which are prominently display on her home page.

Author Most Glommed

Best Romantic Suspense: Black Ice

Most Tortured Hero: Bastien Toussaint, Black Ice

AS rocks! Her next release, Cold As Ice, has been issued two covers and AS is taking a poll on your favorite cover.

Cover #1
Cover #2

Go vote for your favorite cover just for fun.

She has a contest link but it's not up and running yet.

Looks like she's a Lost fan too.

I've got to stop stalking her.

Monday, March 06, 2006

AAR 2005 Annual Reader Poll

AAR released the results of their annual reader poll and I was pleased to see that I voted for several books that won in their categories. However, there were several winning books that I read and failed to love as much as others obviously did. Most notably was Mr. Impossible by Loretta Chase. I read it last April and gave it a B, and I can't honestly remember a thing about it. Oh, well, c'est la vie.

Before I go off on a tirade on a couple of category winners that I disagree with, I want to do a happy dance for all those books and authors I voted for that won.

Favorite Funny: Match Me If You Can by SEP

Most Lucious Love Story: Passion by Lisa Valdez

Best New Author: Lisa Valdez

Best Traditional Regency: Dedication by Janet Mullany

Best Contemporary: Match Me If You Can by SEP

Best Romantic Suspense: Black Ice by Anne Stuart (Yaaaay!! So glad another Brockmann didn't win again!)

Best Chick Lit: The Givenchy Code by Julie Kenner

Most Annoying Lead: Blair Mallory, To Die For by Linda Howard (I'm a LH fangirl but she just grated on my nerves.)

I was very disappointed to see that Ride the Fire by Pamela Clare didn't win anything! This book was my favorite American Historical vote with another vote for Most Tortured Hero. Also His Secondhand Wife by Cheryl St. John was WAY better than Till Next We Meet by Karen Ranney in the Most-Hanky-Read (didn't read A Breath of Snow & Ashes - burned out with Gabaldon).

I'm totally pissed at myself. I forgot about how much I HATED What Do You Say to a Naked Elf? and left the 'Worst Read' category blank. Around chapter 3 I heaved it against the wall, and didn't log it into my spreadsheet. That'll teach me. My vote could have broken the tie! I loved Passion and I completely disagree with anyone who voted for it in the 'worst' category. Damn it!

Also, what's up with Passion for the Purple-est Prose? Most of the critics of Passion complained about how explicit it was. Yes, it was explicit and erotic (and I loved it). But in my opinion explicit is the opposite of purple prose.

I'm sounding like a cranky bitch today so I'd better duck and run.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

The Smoke Thief by Shana Abé

I was hesitant to read The Smoke Thief because AAR gave it a crummy grade ( D+) and most of the time that's the kiss of death for me. But there was much disagreement with the grade on the Reviews MB (plus Keishon recommended it to me and she hasn't steered me wrong yet) so I decided to get it from the library. I read Abé's The Secret Swan recently and was only mildly impressed with her writing (B-). There were problems with TSS but I liked her beautiful prose. That beautiful prose was again evident in TST but with a much better story.

TST takes place in Georgian England and tells the story of drákons, shapeshifting creatures who live in secret in the beautiful Darkfrith valley in northern England. These creatures have the ability to shapeshift from human to smoke to dragon and back again. For centuries they have lived by a very strict set of rules. One of these rules is that no one is allowed to live outside their valley. Clarissa Rue Hawthorne is part mortal and part drákon and because of her mixed blood is made to feel like an outcast because she is different. On her 17th birthday she fakes her own drowning in order to start a new life free from prejudice.

Some years later the Council of Darkfrith is alerted to rumors that a jewel thief in London can disappear into smoke. They realize that this was not a human but another 'runner' who has escaped from Darkfrith without permission. The continued existence of their people and its traditions relies on their secrecy so they want the drákon runner captured immediately. Their Alpha leader, Christoff 'Kit' Ellery, Marquess of Langford, travels to London to hunt down the runner and brings the Herte diamond to use as bait for his trap. To his amazement he discovers that the runner is an Alpha female who can Turn (change from human to dragon), a phenomenon that has not happened in four generations.

TST was a totally engrossing book that I found impossible to put down. I had my nose in the book constantly and Bob was having a harder than usual time getting my attention. :) One of my problems with fantasy is there is usually too much world building and too many weird names and places. But there was NONE of that here. The world building was minor and very subtle and the names and places were 'normal'.

The plot was fascinating and inventive and the characters were fully drawn. Clarissa was a wonderfully strong heroine and a perfect match for Kit. But I did have a problem with Kit at first. He was so overly Alpha that I wanted to strangle him. When he finds out the Smoke Thief is female he is determined to have her at any cost. He lies and cheats and manipulates her so he can drag her back to Darkfrith against her will. But before he can do that they work together to solve a minor mystery and he grows to love her. The sensuality was hot and intense and the imagery of their flights together was beautifully breathtaking. I think AAR's reviewer, Lynn, had a problem with the ending, but I bought it completely. I found Kit's change of character very believable giving TST a terrific ending.

This was a hardcover that I got from the library but when it comes out in PB I'm going to get my own copy because I know I will want to reread it. Keishon did it again :)

My grade: B+

Update: I believe this book is the first one in a trilogy although I can't figure out where I read that. Searching Amazon I found out the next book is titled The Dream Thief to be released on September 26.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Successful Surgery

Whew, my dad had his cystectomy (bladder removal) today and the surgery went very well. I was at the hospital with Gay for over 13 hours and we're exhausted. We stopped for dinner on the way home. Sitting and waiting is so tiring. Friends and relatives came and sat with us throughout the day so we were only alone for a couple hours. I was able to read a little but it was hard to concentrate. We did lots of talking and my mouth and lips are a dried up desert.

He had blood drawn a couple weeks ago to be used during the surgery but he had so little bleeding they didn't need to use it. The surgeons were very pleased with how everything went. They saw no other cancer in the abdomen or lymph nodes. But they also took some frozen sections to analyze and we will get the results on Wednesday. The hardest part was waiting for him to come out of the Recovery Room. First they said 1/2 hour, then 1 hour. After 3 hours they came out and said he would stop breathing (apnea) occasionally, but that was nothing to worry about because it was a common reaction to the anesthetic. Two more hours later he was taken to ICU which was normal for this type of surgery. He will be in the hospital for seven days.

I'm hoping his recovery and healing go well. The doctor told us that if he has no recurrence of cancer anywhere in what's left of the urinary tract for two years then the odds are he will live many more years.

Now maybe I can concentrate on other things. I have a bunch of half-finished book reviews so I'll try to finish some of those especially The Smoke Thief by Shana Abe and What Angels Fear by C. S. Harris. I'm also trying to keep up with all the blogs. I feel so out of it and I hate being left out :) But I see Kristie has made a list. So glad I was left out of that. :) (Yes, Kristie, I did read it and loved it). Thanks for all your prayers and support.