Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Road Trip

I've been away from the computer since last Wednesday and I feel like I've been on another planet. Bob and I had plans to leave last Thursday afternoon with our RV to travel to Nampa (near Boise) so that I could attend the Area X handbell conference.

Everything was packed and we were ready to head down the road when Bob noticed that the indicator light for the RV's brakes was not lit. Uh-oh. Six hours later he and Jim (our neighbor) with all their volt meters and tools could not find the problem. But I was determined to go to the conference so I packed a bag, got into our little sports car (Mercedes SLK) and headed down the road at 5:30 A.M. Friday and drove straight through to Nampa, ID and got there in 8 hours with one stop for gas, one stop for lunch, and a few rest area stops. Interstate freeway all the way there and I made it in time for the first rehearsal on Friday evening.

I signed up for the Bronze (advanced) division and the pace was rather brutal. Saturday morning was a 3 hour rehearsal and another 2.5 hour rehearsal in the afternoon. But after standing for 5.5 hours almost constantly, my lower back rebelled, and I spent the evening flat on my back (reading of course) after taking massive amounts of tylenol. Sunday morning I felt pretty good and was able to rehearse for 2 hours. The final concert Sunday afternoon was fabulous. The last piece we played was 'Stars and Stripes Forever' and was a big hit.

The concert was over at 2pm (mountain time) and I was on the road by 2:30 and home by 9:30pm (pacific time): another 8 hour drive. It was 101 degrees for part of the way and the car ran like a champ with no problems. Lots of cars pulled off to the shoulder with their hoods up.

I spent Monday doing laundry, watering the garden, pulling weeds (damn things), and running errands. Just now trying to get caught up with blogs. I feel so out of touch when I don't blog. I hope I haven't missed any big dramas or name calling or authors behaving badly because I HATE being left out! Let me know so I can go rubberneck. The last big stink I read was at Karen's and I loved it. I want to be her when I grow up. (okay, I know I'm older, shutup).

I did not get as much reading done this weekend because I had to drive. If the RV problem had been fixed, Bob would have driven those 16 hours and I would have read! *sigh* oh, well. But I was able to finish two books. Yay!

Crazy Kisses by Tara Janzen
This was the 4th book in the Steele Street series and it was another fun read. It is Kid Chronopolous and Nikki McKinney's story who we met in the first book (Crazy Hot). Kid and Nikki have a steamy past. In CH Kid walks out on Nikki after some pretty steamy sex (she was a virgin). CK takes place months later when Nikki tracks Kid down in Panama. Their meeting is sizzling hot! And of course danger follows. Janzen again gives us an exciting ride and I thoroughly enjoyed it. All of these books have been consistently entertaining reads and the steamy sex is a plus for me. My grade: B

I see Kristie reviewed the next one Crazy Love and gave it a 5 out of 5. Must go shopping.

Surrender by Pamela Clare
That plaid on the cover was deceiving. Everytime I looked at it I though "Scottish set historical" but of course it's not. The book is set in colonial America during the French and Indian War. The hero Iain MacKinnon and his brothers have emigrated from Scotland and are now being forced to lead a band of colonials to fight along side the British against the French. Anne Campbell has been forced into indentured servitude by her evil uncle. This was a wonderful book! After loving last year's Ride the Fire, I was reluctant to start this one (even though Kristie recommended it) because I was afraid it would not live up to the quality of RTF but I'm so glad I finally picked it up. The heroine is so incredibly strong. I loved the hero as well. The historical details seemed very authentic and the story flowed smoothly with a tight plot and interesting characters. Looking forward to the other brothers' stories. My grade: A-

I'm exhausted. I better head to bed.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole

We're leaving town on a short trip and I'm packing so I don't have time to go into much detail about AHLNO. CindyS, Alyssa, and several other bloggers really enjoyed this book but unfortunately I didn't like it quite as much. My main problem with it was that the pacing was uneven and there were just too many characters and species to keep straight. Vampires, Valkyrie, Lykae, Wraiths, and a bunch of other creatures and it seemed like they all hated each other and were mortal enemies. There was gobs of blood and chopping off of body parts, torture and other grossness mixed with some quirky humor and pop culture that made my head swim sometimes.

The good part was that I loved the hero, Lachlain, leader of the Lykae clan (werewolves). He scents his 'mate', Emma, at the beginning of the book and is totally commited to her immediately although he is pretty pissed to find out she is a vampire. But he slowly learns about her and her species and grows to love her and spends most of the book trying to convince her to stay with him. Emma was a lot harder to like, in fact, she got on my nerves. She's actually half vampire/half Valkyrie, was pale and small with pointed ears! I pictured her as looking like a fairy or an elf. She was rather meek but had a stubborn streak a mile wide. She wanted nothing to do with Lachlain for the longest time. And her family of Valkyrie women were also irritating and funny at the same time. All that screaming!

But I loved the ending when Emma finally grows a spine and kicks butt and how the H/H's inter-species problems were resolved. I think a good 10% of the book could have been cut and the rest tightened up and this would have been a very good book. There were a couple characters that intrigued me so I may pick another one by Cole.

My grade: C+

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Games of Pleasure by Julia Ross

I commented in my review of Night of Sin about how Ross's lush sensuous writing style reminds me of Judith Ivory a little. I have to say the same again about GoP. The characters are well-drawn and three dimensional and the plot moved right along with Ross's smooth flowing style. Ross tends to write rather purple sex scenes but in this book they seemed to be less so or at least not enough to distract me from the fascinating story line.

In NoS the hero, Jack, was extremely sexually experienced due to his adventures in the Far East and Anne, the heroine, was a rather sheltered innocent virgin. In GoP, though, that scenario is reversed with hero Ryder, Jack's older brother and heir to the Duke of Blackdown, who is sexually inexperienced (although not a virgin) and the heroine, Miracle, a notorious courtesan.

As the story begins, Ryder has just had his marriage proposal rejected by a well-born lady. He is riding along a cliff at the edge of the sea when he spots a dinghy with a seemingly lifeless woman on board floating in the surf heading towards the rocks. He saves the woman and discovers that she has been badly beaten. She gives him a false name and he takes her to a nearby inn where they have the best sex evah, of course. Miracle is hiding a big secret and the next morning she sneeks out on him leaving a note:

My name is Miracle Heather. I am London’s most notorious harlot.

When you found me in the boat, I had just murdered a man.

Thank you for all you have done or offered to do for me, my lord, but you are well rid of me.

Ryder tracks her down and offers to help her clear her name. The mystery is a pretty good one. Ryder is an admirable hero who has lead a responsible virtuous life as heir to a dukedom. He is a good honorable man, but not boring in the least. And far too trusting because Miracle is able to slip away from him several times.

Miracle was the dark character is this story and her past made her sense of worthlessness understandable but when she goes on and on and on about how unworthy she is of him I became annoyed. Most of the time I can deal with that attitude considering the time and the fact that he is an aristocrat and she is a commoner. But when it goes on for almost the entire book I lose my patience. He wants to marry her and she keeps turning him down. I kept thinking "get over yourself". I'm no expert on social attitudes of that time but it seems to me that most commoners would jump at the chance. What do I know, anyway?

Overall, the book was engaging and interesting and I enjoyed it enough to recommmend it.

My grade: B

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Shopping with Bob

Last night Bob surprised me. When I walked in the door from work he suggested we go eat dinner at Bellevue Square Mall and then shop for my birthday present! I was a bit stunned. There was a time he wouldn't be caught dead at the mall or grocery store or anywhere unless it involved tools, hardware, auto parts or lumber. But he has changed recently (I can't figure out why). He now volunteers to go to the grocery store with me and he loves to push the cart. Now this can be dangerous. Impulse buying is his middle name so I have to keep an eye on him 'cuz he'll sneek stuff in the cart.

When we got to the mall he suggested heading over to The Cheesecake Factory. Now this place is notoriously crowded on Friday and Saturday evenings but we got a table and only had to wait 15 minutes. Wonderful food! I had the Luau Salad and it was fabulous (mixed greens, thinly sliced chicken, red & yellow peppers, mangos, green beans, fried wontons, cucumbers, macadamia nuts, sesame seeds, and a yummy vineagrette dressing). We were both so stuffed that we wisely resisted dessert but we gawked at them in the display case on the way out. Must try some cheesecake next time (Coffee HeathBar crunch maybe).

So we headed to Macy's and Nordstrom's because I was looking for a pair of black shoes for work. Couldn't find a single thing! I needed something closed toe and everything was sandals and open toe. Bob wandered around with me very patiently. Next stop Coldwater Creek and I found two tops on sale and Bob waited patiently in their comfy chairs (with all the other men) while I tried things on.

I thought we were done but on our way out, we walked by the Brighton store and I had to go in. I found a gorgeous black leather purse (butter soft) that was VERY expensive which I loved. Bob says "I think you should get it!" I said "No, I'd feel too guilty." He said "You should get it." OK, he twisted my arm. I got it and here it is.

Today is my actual birthday (no numbers please) and I know he made reservations for dinner at this restaurant tonight at the top of Cougar Mountain that has a fabulous view of Seattle, Bellevue, and Lake Washington. He really went overboard this year but I guess I should just shutup and enjoy it.

On Sunday (Father's Day) he's going golfing and then we'll have the kids and their respective boyfriend/girlfriend over for a barbeque.

Reading now: Just finished Shadow Touch by Marjorie M. Liu and enjoyed it although it's a strange book. I guess you'd call it a psychic thriller with some romance. But it was fascinating and hard to put down. I just picked up A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole. The hero, Lachlain, is very alpha and the heroine, Emma, is kind of meek. Lachlain is furious to find that fey little Emma is his predestined mate. I like hate turned to love stories so I'm hoping for the best on this one.

Friday, June 16, 2006

June TBR Challenge

June's TBR Challenge was to read a book from your TBR pile that was recommended by someone you "know" (another blogger, friend, family member). Since most of my TBR qualifies this was not a difficult assignment. There has been an incredible amount of buzz on blogs about this book and as usual I'm late for the party. I'm probably almost the last one to read it.

Title: Lover Eternal

Author: J. R. Ward

Year published: 2006

Why did you get this book? When CindyS gave it her thumbs up, I had to buy it.

Do you like the cover? Oh, yes. Biting necks is very sexy.

Part of a series? Yes, this is the second book in the Brotherhood of the Dagger series.

Did you enjoy the book?I really shouldn't have liked it since there were several irritations and annoyances. But I enjoyed it despite the negatives and gave it a B+.

It was lots of fun revisiting the characters from Dark Lover. This was Rhage's story, the stunningly beautiful vampire. What's not to like about a gorgeous hunk hero falling flat on his ass in love the instant he 'sees' the heroine? Mary Luce is a cancer survivor with a lot of inner strength that I admired. However, I thought she held back from Rhage a bit too long with the "oh, I'm not beautiful enough for him, what's he see in little ol' me" routine. Rhage is under a nasty curse put on him when he pisses off the Scribe Virgin (aka Scribe Bitch (SB), since I thought she was overly cruel to Rhage). He turns into a horrible beast when he gets stressed out. Lots of fighting or lots of sex keeps the beast at bay.

There were several other storylines interwined that were equally as fascinating with a glimpse of Zsadist and his story that will be coming up in the next book. Overall, this was a compelling read with a few nitpicks that others have mentions such as those silly names for the brothers. And those phrases like "you feel me?" or "my brother". For the ending, I wasn't too crazy about how the Scribe 'Bitch' was going to make Rhage miserable for eternity (because she loves him ... yeah right!) but eventually takes pity on him spoiler: because Mary is unable to have children creating a too convenient happy ending.

Was the author new to you and would you read something by this author again? Not new to me since I read the first book in the series. Yes, like the rest of the JR Ward fandom, I will definitely read the next one in the series (Lover Awakened). I'm hoping that every book in the series will be as good as these first two. But I realize that I rarely like every book in a series so I have my fingers crossed.

Are you keeping it or passing it on? I can't make up my mind. I may keep it for a while just so I can reread a couple scenes

Anything else? Is it just me or do those lessers 'names' seem wonky? O, M, or X, etc. Does this mean there are only 26 of them? Maybe they move into O2, M2, or X2, etc when they run out of letters of the alphabet. Just wondering....

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Visit to the library

I think I have calmed my TBR anxiety for a while by whittling down the pile a bit. Since April I have read 23 books from my TBR and DNF on 4 others.

During that time I tried really hard not to walk into a bookstore and only lost the battle twice I think (one of those times I didn't buy anything). Plus several books on my wishlist at PBS came available so, of course, so I had to get them. But overall, I reduced the pile by about 15 books.

So I gave myself permission to go the library and check out some newer books that have been on my wishlist.

The Music of the Night by Lydia Joyce

I read Veil of Night so I've been meaning to try this book. AAR gave it an A- and a Hot rating.

A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole

CindyS loved this one so, of course, I have to try it.

Crazy Kisses by Tara Janzen

This is the 4th book in this series. The other three were fast-paced and fun (although not perfect by any means) so I had to get this (and the next two I'm sure to round out the series).

Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife by Linda Berdoll

Not sure why I had this on my wishlist but I did love P&P so it will be interesting to revisit Elizabeth and Darcy. Plus I heard the sex was hot, so that's a plus!

Shadow Touch by Marjorie M. Liu

I loved two others by Liu, Tiger Eye and A Taste of Crimson, and I think several bloggers liked this (can't remember who) but some didn't. We will see how it goes. I'm on Chapter 3 and liking it hugely. I do like the author's voice.

I also got a bunch of books on window treatments to help me figure out what to put on the living room and dining room windows. And I got a wonderful cookbook called "The Best Light Recipes" where they take regular recipes for some favorite foods (chicken parmasian, choc chip cookies, cheesecake, etc.) and created a light version that actually tastes good.

All these books were quite a heavy load. I should have asked for a bag since I managed to drop a couple on my way out to the car. Very fun trip to the library.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Dentists and doctors

I just got back from the dentist where I had a filling replaced. My lip is all fat and I can't talk so I'll blog even though I should be working. The dentist was trying to figure out how old the filling was and couldn't figure it out (I have pages of dental records) so it must have been older than 10 years. That's something dentists never tell you.... once you get a filling (or crown) it will eventually need to be replaced. They don't last forever. That's why they are all so freaking rich. My previous dentist drove a Jag and it was parked in the front slot of the dental building and he eventually retired at the ripe old age of 45.

Anyway, my daughter had the Lasik eye surgery done yesterday (paid for it herself - yay!) and I had to take her into the eye doctor this morning bright and early so they could check how she is doing. Everything's good. She's a trooper because she planned to go to her 11:30 class but I have my doubts since she went straight to bed after I dropped her at home. Last night when she was having pain she took four Tylenol PM!

Almost finished with Lover Eternal and still loving it! In fact, I'm having a hard time putting it down. I think I like it a tiny bit more than Dark Lover but we'll see how the last 100 pages go.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Lazy girl

I've been a lazy blogger this past week. Very busy at work and busy at home with no time for anything... blogging or reading. I did managed to finish one category and two books-on-tape in the last couple weeks.

Shameless by Glenna McReynolds
Published in 1992, this old Loveswept by McReynolds (who now publishes under the name Tara Janzen) was a very short read with only 179 pages and I was able to finish it in one evening. First of all I thought the cover was very deceiving. I thought he looked like some kind of airline pilot (click to see a bigger image). But actually he was a ranch hand/cowboy turned Navy SEAL. That's a Navy uniform the hero, Colt, is wearing.

Colt Haines leaves Rock Creek, Wyoming, after taking Sarah Brooks' innocence and breaking all his promises to her. He heads to California where he joins the Navy and eventually becomes a SEAL. Ten years later he returns to Rock Creek to attend his mother's funeral. He hopes to avoid Sarah, but of course that's impossible. Sarah does not understand why he left town breaking her heart.

I really love the sensuality of McReynolds' writing and although Shameless was one of her earlier works, she was quite good at it even in this work published in 1992. But the other thing that struck me was that there was very little dialog. Maybe that goes along with the fact that Colt was keeping secrets and the less talking the better. But really it was extremely irritating. I thought his 'secret' was rather obvious considering he was carrying the scar across his face and neck. They have steamy sex and still he keeps his secrets and intends to leave town. At this point I was talking into the book (good thing Bob had already gone to bed). "Tell her already!"

Anyway, it was a toss up whether I would give this one a B- or C+. But the hot sex tipped the scales in the favorable direction.

My grade: B-

Memory in Death by J. D. Robb
By my count this book was the 22nd full length novel in the series and not one of my favorites. Eve's foster mother, Trudy, turns up and attempts to blackmail her and Roarke so that she won't reveal Eve's shady past. Eve is stunned but Roarke won't take her crap and dismisses her with threats. When Eve and Roarke visit Trudy in her hotel to make clear that they won't fall for her line of BS they, of course, find she has been murdered. I thought the murder mystery was ho-hum and not engaging at all. The most fascinating part of the story was how more of Eve's past is revealed. And I enjoyed Roarke and Eve's continuing developing relationship.

My grade: B-

All I Ever Needed by Jo Goodman
This book was my first by Goodman and I was rather please with how well she writes. AIEN is one of the Compass Club series which all take place simultaneously so can be read in any order (I think that's what I heard). But I thought she was rather 'wordy'. The four books in the series feature four heros whose nicknames are North, South, East, and West. This is East's story.

The rumors are flying that Lady Sopia Colley and the Marquess of Eastlyn are engaged. When he arrives to straighten out the mess, he proposes to Sophie but she turns him down flat. There is a bit of a contrived mystery that was mildly interesting but the best part was seeing East and Sophie interact. The sensual descriptions reminded me a little of Judith Ivory and the dialogue was superb with some nice steamy love scenes. But I found myself bored with the mystery again and felt the whole thing could have been shortened up a bit. But still an enjoyable read.

My grade: B-

Hmmm, look at that... I gave all three books the same grade.

Reading now: I'm on page 71 of Lover Eternal by J. R. Ward and really loving it. I had my doubts before I finally cracked open the cover since I have heard good and bad about it. But I think this one is going to work for me. (OK, I peeked ahead just a little.. shut up). I think I'll go read now.

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 ...