Thursday, August 31, 2006

Miscellaneous crap

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

To the Brink by Cindy Gerard

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

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

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

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

My grade: A-

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

Thursday, August 24, 2006

20 X 20 Meme

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

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

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

Just For Kicks by Susan Andersen

Irresistible by Susan Mallery






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

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


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

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Books and RVing

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

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

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

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

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Top romances meme

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

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

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

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

30. Saving Grace by Julie Garwood

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Purging books from Mt. TBR

I'm really making an effort. Well, for me anyway.

Looked at spreadsheet: 128 categories romances. Yikes. No wonder I'm feeling guilty.

Where should I start? Alphabetically, of course. Hmmm, the A's, so that means first one at the top of the spreadsheet was Guarding Jane Doe by Harper Allen (HI). AAR gave it an A but this was an amnesia story. Ackkk! Into the purge pile it goes. Next up... Hot on Her Tail by Karen Anders. This is a Harlequin Blaze about a bounty hunter who's looking for a woman accused of embezzling from a bank. Handcuffs are involved and you know what that means *wiggles eyebrows* :) I skimmed it and it wasn't too bad so I sat down and did a fast read. The thought of sex with handcuffs makes my wrists ache. Not very sexy to me.

The problem with Blazes is that the idea of a category with HOT SEX sounds pretty good, but really most of them have been disappointing. Plots are too contrived, sex turns out not to be very hot, characters are flat. But not all of them are bad, I have 4 or 5 in my keepers.

HOHT wasn't too bad except I kept shaking my head at the fact that the heroine repeatedly escaped from the hero bounty hunter (like 3 times) and always went back to the same place where he would pick her up again. Duh! Anyway, I give it a B-.

So I have formulated a plan... get rid of all Blaze and other categories with plots I have come to hate:

Amnesia stories (tired of them, overdone)
Bodyguard stories (ditto)
Virgin sex therapists (give me a break)
Uptight businessman (yawn)
Uptight businesswoman (double yawn)
Thieves as H/H
Secret baby stories

That's just a start. I may think of more as I go along.

CindyS gave me some good advice. Anything I've been looking at for more than 3 years must GO! Okay, I'll try, but no promises. Get out the kleenex.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Book Shopping

Went book shopping today and came home with.... nada, zip, nothing. *sigh* There is something seriously wrong with me, I swear. I think I need a therapist or some kind of intervention.

I'm finding it increasingly difficult to spend money on books lately. Remember that cartoon where the little angel is sitting on one shoulder and the little devil is sitting on the other? Well, that's how I felt today while visiting two UBS's and Borders Books. Every time I picked up a book (urged on by the little devil) this little voice (the angel) in my head said "you don't need anymore books with over 200 in your TBR". At Borders I had three books in my hand that I really wanted but I put them back and walked out the door. Why, why, why!?! Okay, I know I have issues with spending money on myself. I'm very thrifty. No, not a tightwad. I enjoy spending money on my kids and husband for birthdays and Christmas. In fact, I go overboard a little and they are spoiled rotten.

I am the oldest of 4 kids and we were poor. Seriously. We lived in the projects up until I was 6 years old. My mother used to tell us kids NEVER to mention that fact to anyone because she was very ashamed of it. Okay, I better backup. My parents were married in December of their junior year of high school and I was born the following June. Yup, I figured out the math on that one in Junior High. My dad could not get a job to support his wife and kid so he lied about his age and joined the army which kept food on the table. They proceeded to have 3 more kids one year apart. But after the army my dad went to school on the GI bill, got a real job, my mom went to work full time and we moved out of the projects.

That time must have made an impression on me because I have always been more of a saver than a spender. I hoarded all my allowances and babysitting money and was very careful about spending money on myself.

Bob has the opposite problem and I reign him in sometimes so we balance each other out. He likes to buy me things that are too expensive that make me feel guilty. Remember that gorgeous Brighton purse he bought me for my birthday? I kept it in the box for 3 weeks, on the verge of returning it several times. I eventually worked through it and I use it but try not to think about the price. :)

Where was I? Oh, yeah, books. Sorry, I went way off topic.

I want to keep up with the newest books. My library has a great selection but they don't have everything and they are slow to get books into the catalog. I really need to go buy some books! But every time I do I have the same damn voice reminding me about my TBR. I know there are people out there with bigger TBRs and some of you have told me you have given up feeling guilty, but guilt is my middle name.

So it's time to do a major purge. I did whittle it down last spring but it was only a dent really (about 30 books). My idea is to cut it in HALF and the first place to start is probably the categories. I used to read quite of few of these but the only series I read now are an occasional HH. I'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Outlaw by Nicole Jordan

After reading and loving The Heart Breaker recently, I was absolutely convinced I needed to track down it's prequel, The Outlaw. It was a bit hard to find but I got lucky and snagged one from PBS. I am so glad I did because I loved it too, but I have to caution you, this book epitomizes the term 'guilty pleasure'. Here is a book that breaks a bunch of my unwritten rules for romance yet I can't help but love it.

The Outlaw almost felt like an older bodice ripper what with the overly alpha hero and stubborn self centered heroine. But don't get me wrong, this book is NOTHING like those horrid books by Coulter, Lindsay, et al, *shudder*. It is an older book published in 1996 (copyright by Anne Bushyhead ??? ok, no snarking) which probably accounts for it.

This is a Romeo and Juliet type of story. As the story begins Caitlin and Jake are young lovers but their families are mortal enemies. There is a range war that has been going on for twenty years between the cattlemen (which includes Jake's family) and sheep ranchers (which includes Caitlin's family) so they must keep their love secret.

I fell in love with Jake in the first chapter with that gorgeous body, devilish smile, and sense of humor. He is head over heals in love with Caitlin and determined to marry her. But she is afraid to tell her father, a bitter angry man with a violent hatred of cattlemen. After Caitlin leaves their love tryst at a mountain pool, Caitlin's father and brother confront him and he kills the brother in self defense. Caitlin is told by her father that Jake murdered her brother, and she does not believe he is guilty at first. Jake barely escapes with his life and he runs away when Caitlin's father frames him for murder to eventually become a hired gun. Since Jake ran away, Caitlin starts believing her father's story and this is where I start gettting pissed off at her.

Four years later, Jake is back in town and, unbenownst to Caitlin (who now has a son), has cleared up most of the false charges against him. But time and again she believes the worst of Jake and I wanted to smack her! But he never gives up on her and she goes back to him and they have a lot of sex. :) My feeling was that if she really had loved him she would have known he was not capable of all the crimes he was accused of, but maybe that's me living in romanceland. But on the other hand, I can understand her wanting to keep from exposing her son to criminals and violence. When she accuses Jake of being like her father, I thought she went too far and was ready to jump through the pages and strangle her.

So why did I love this book? Well, first of all Jake was a wonderful hero to die for. He never gives up on the heroine even though she deserved it. And a small part of me could actually understand her thinking. She was really a self-absorbed bitch, but she was trying to be a good mother, so I give her points for that. Oh, and did I mention that the sex was H. O. T. ? From page one. It was a fast moving story with good dialogue and 3D characters. This one is a keeper to go on the shelf next to The Heart Breaker and I'm giving it the same grade. Not perfect books but I still loved them.

My grade: B+

Now if only Jordan would write Wolf's story I'd be happy. She promises but has yet to deliver. Like Sybil, I'm trying to find a couple other oldies by Jordan, Wildstar and The Savage but they are very hard to find.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Work Sucks

Apologies to everyone for being such a lousy blogger. Work has been killing me and I'm not a happy camper right now. I'm on my 16th day straight of work and it's only Tuesday. By Friday I will have worked 19 straight days and I'm taking the weekend off come hell or high water.

Last year about this time I was complaining about being bored with nothing to do except write test plans. Well, I'm not bored anymore. I like being busy but this is ridiculous. We are in a crunch period right now and I'm trying to do my part and contribute to the team effort but I have HAD IT. To top it off we are having beautiful weather and I can't get out and enjoy it. We don't get that many warm sunny days and I'm spending them inside. I want my life back. I want to be able to do laundry (can't believe I said that), water my plants, weed the garden (yes, I enjoy that), go to dinner with friends, go shopping, visit blogs, and MOST IMPORTANT.... READ.

OK, shut up, Renee. Enough whining! Sorry, again. :)

I managed to squeeze in some reading time and finished Crazy Love by Tara Janzen and LOVED IT!!! This is the 5th book in the Crazy series with Dylan Hart, Special Defense Force commander, and Skeeter Bang's story. Although appearances are made by several past characters, they played a minor part. It was very fast paced featuring three storylines that were all very well done. All the action with muscle cars, high tech gadgets and weapons kept me on the edge of my seat and there was never a dull moment. But don't think the romance was short changed because Dylan and Skeeter's story was wonderful. Janzen has a way of writing a single love scene that is so sensuous and so drawn out to perfection that it feels like three or four love scenes. The secondary characters, Travis and Red Dog (Gillian), also have a hot love scene. Dylan is very tortured but has had the hots for Skeeter for a long time. Skeeter is a kickass heroine who doesn't take any crap. Some bloggers didn't like this book but it is my favorite of the series. A keeper! For those who a looking for a great summer beach book, this is it.

My grade: A-

The 6th book in the Crazy series, Crazy Sweet, is due out soon and features Travis and Gillian's story. Janzen's website mentions that she is writing another SDF Steele Street book titled On The Loose but I'm not sure if it is a continuation of the Crazy series.

Reading now: The Nightingale's Song by Kathleen Eschenburg and loving it. Thank you Wendy & Kristie for mentioning it. Very emotional so far and I think it gets even more so (ok, I peeked for just a couple sentences).

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Marcelli Bride by Susan Mallery

After seeing AAR's good review and enjoying Delicious a few weeks ago, I wanted to try this book. It's a continuation of the Marcelli Sisters series featuring the children of Marco Marcelli. I read the first book in the series, The Sparkling One, and it was a B read but I never got around to the next two. This book tells Joe's story. Joe is the son Marco and Colleen Marcelli gave up for adoption when they were just teenagers. His adopted parents died and he ended up in foster care until adulthood when he joined the Navy and ended up as a SEAL. Somehow he was reunited with his biological parents before this story began (maybe in a previous book which I missed). He is still very bitter and resentful towards his 'real' family and he keeps them at arm's length while they are desperately trying to show him they love him and want him as part of the family. He's not buying it though.

Darcy Jensen is the President's daughter and after a kidnapping attempt the Secret Service need to stash her someplace safe. Through some kind of connection (which I never really got) they decide that she will hide out with a team of SS agents at the Marcelli winery. Do you buy that? Well, I didn't... When Joe's SEAL team screws up, he gets assigned to head the team of SS agents at his family's winery as some sort of punishment. Weirder and weirder...

The plot was totally implausible and while that has never stopped me from enjoying a book (eg. Janzen's Crazy series) additional problems with the H/H kept me from liking this book at all. Joe was distant and angry and never convinced me that he was attracted to Darcy let alone fell in love with her. Except for his anger and resentment he was pretty much emotionless. Darcy was a bit better but I didn't like her much. The sex scene which the family overheard on the intercom made me uncomfortable. And there was no emotion in any of the sex scenes. There were lots of quirky characters but I just didn't care about the whole family. Blah! There are four sisters all together and I have only read one of their stories, but I have no interest in reading the rest of the series. Mia (the last sister) will have her story in an upcoming book but unless somebody in blogland convinces me otherwise, I'm not wasting my money.

My grade: C-

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Dartmoor

Would this make a good bed?

I was curious what heather looks like in Dartmoor where The Indiscretion took place. So I found this picture from the Dartmoor National Park website.

Still doesn't look like someplace comfortable to make love. Just saying.

Pretty though.