Friday, December 28, 2007

I'm trying to be less bitchy

OK, people, I lived through Christmas Day but just barely. My last post was extremely whiney and bitchy and I'm now trying to be a better person. I had been a real crab and bitch to Bob and I'm trying to make it up to him. I made dinner (a real dinner - not warmed up leftovers) TWO nights in a row. Come on, people, that's love don't you think? Bob is enjoying my guilt trip.

I'm going to take Cindy's advice and inform Bob that next year there will be no golfing or any activity where he could possibly hurt himself. He only uses the crutches about half the time now so his ankle is getting better.

I worked yesterday (Thursday) and today and it's great because only about 15 or 20 people are in the building. So I have got a lot done with no distractions and irritations. I brought in most of my Christmas goodies and left them in the community kitchen and voila - they disappeared. Awesome. Bob and I are going on a cruise in three weeks so I'm going to try to behave myself foodwise. My tummy has been in knots for days from holiday anxiety and it's still not back to normal. I'm laying off the coffee and trying to eat healthy so hopefully it will get back to normal.

I have been reading and I have several half finished reviews that I'm going to try and finish.

Reading now: Candle in the Window by Christina Dodd
This book has been languishing in my TBR pile for years. I'm really loving it but it's been slow going. The language is a touch too "old english" for me and I find myself re-reading several passages trying to figure out what they mean. It has a very medieval-ish feel with the language and social mores and attitudes. I love the hero and heroine.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas... shoot me now

You'll never believe this. Yesterday (Saturday) morning Bob went golfing (in the rain) while I hit the stores and after making about 10 stops manage to finish most of my shopping. I walked in the door at home ready to start wrapping, decorating and baking. And what do I find. Bob is 'braced' in the kitchen trying to fix his lunch. And he casually mentions the fact that while out golfing he hurt himself. Come to find out ... he has severely sprained his ankle. He was in pain and couldn't put any weight on it. I was stunned. Okay, I admit, I'm a selfish bitch, but my first thought was "how am I going to get everything done without him?"

Bob said he was walking down a slope (11th hole) and slipped on the wet grass and tried to catch himself and heard a loud pop (that was probably the ligament tearing). I was ready to be all sympathetic when he goes on to say that he thought he could just walk it off so he plays the other 7 holes limping. So here is where I get pissed at him. Walk. It. Off. ???? Are you kidding me? What is with the male macho shit? How he made it home driving I have no idea (it is his right ankle). So now his ankle is so swollen and black and blue he can hardly move. I had to call the neighbor to get him in the car so I can drive him to the emergency room because I wanted to make sure no bones were broken.

So I get him in the wheelchair at the ER and fill out the forms and we are sitting in the waiting room when I remember that I forgot to buy a toy for a 4-yo that will be at out house on Christmas. I left Bob at the ER and went over to Toys-R-Us (Bob said it was okay). Yeah, I'm a heartless bitch. I get back to ER and he is in the trauma room waiting for xray. No bones broken thank goodness but the doctor said sprains sometimes take just as long to heal but he should be able to move around in 5-7 days! I get him home and barely managed to get him in the house by myself. My neighbor (same one) happened to have a spare pair of crutches and they are a godsend.

Did I mention that Bob has NOT done ANY Christmas shopping (Mr. Procrastinator - worse than me). He usually shops Christmas Eve day, but that's out now. So he called our daughter and she went out tonight to get my gifts. Today was unbelievable. We have an artificial tree we keep in the attic in a HUGE box. I dragged it to the top of the stairs and made numerous trips up and down to empty out all the branches. I put Bob to work unfolding all the branches and I set it up. I also wrapped presents, baked cookies, cleaned and de-cluttered, and fetched and carried water and food for Mr. Grumpy-Pants. He's a very bad patient. He supposed to keep it elevated, on ice and take ibuprofen but I had to nag him about it. But I give up... he's on his own tomorrow. I'm not a very sympathetic nurse. I had to make a quick trip to the grocery store and I think I'm ready for Christmas Day and Eve. I feel pretty good about being ready. But really, I think I deserve medal ... or maybe diamonds, yeah, that would do it.

I am having my daughter and boyfriend and son and girlfriend Christmas Eve, then we go to church and I play in our handbell choir. Christmas morning is quiet, but just as a prelude to my whole family coming for dinner (19 people). I am making a turkey and ham and everyone else brings the rest. Then we are doing a secret santa gift exchange.

Wake me when it's over :)

Hope everyone has a lovely holiday.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I'm still alive

I'm still alive but I haven't done any blogging for a couple weeks. The Christmas tree is not up, nor are the decorations, and my shopping is only partially done. BUT I did finish my Christmas letter and got my cards mailed.

Renee=>Queen of Procrastination

The other girl I work with is gone for a MONTH to India and I am stuck with EVERYTHING. My boss said she would help me but she hasn't done a single thing. So I'm tearing my hair out at work. I am in two handbell groups and this is our busiest time of year. We had a concert and just practiced last night for our Christmas Eve performance at church.

This year is my turn to host Christmas dinner which is stressing me out since I have no furniture in my living room (long story) and Bob is not cooperating with my ideas about rearranging the furniture in the family room so everyone will fit (I'm expecting about 20 people). Sigh!

I'm going shopping after work today (in fact I should leave work right now) and hope to finish up. Then the wrapping begins. God, I feel like such a disorganized mess!

But I have been reading. My current book is The Lawman's Bride by Cheryl St. John and wow, it's a real tearjerker. I love a good tearjerker.

I have some time off next week, so I hope to get back to writing reviews next week.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Quick Post

Just a quick post to let you know we arrived home safe and sound from North Dakota. We flew into Minot on Friday and the weather was cold and sunny. But a snow storm blew in on Saturday and dumped about 4 or 5 inches of very dry powdery snow. I was very worried about getting back home because Minneapolis was also dumped on and there were multiple flight cancellations. But Sunday morning was again clear (and very cold) for our flight out of Minot. They de-iced the plane but we were late getting into Minneapolis. They again de-iced the plane in Minneapolis and we arrived in Seattle a mere 45 minutes late.

Sunday and Monday Seattle was hit by torrential rains which we call "The Pineapple Express" because the weather system originates near Hawaii and blasts through with warm temperatures and heavy rains. On my way to work yesterday I came across one intersection that was a lake with water more than a foot deep and water pouring down the street like a river.

My parents in law absolutely LOVED the digital picture frame. It was a HUGE hit. Thank you Cindy! If you are having trouble thinking of a gift idea for your mom or dad or grandparent, this is the thing to buy.

I brought 3 books along to read on the plane and I'm glad I did. I finished 2 of them and started on the 3rd one. I just finished that one last night. I'll post about them soon. I enjoyed all three.

Reading now: Mine Till Midnight by Lisa Kleypas
I just started it and I'm only a few pages in so I don't have any impressions yet except that it's already quite intriguing. I can hardly wait to get home from work and start reading some more.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Off to North Dakota

We're getting on a plane tomorrow at 7:00 am for a quick weekend trip to Minot, North Dakota for the in-laws 60th wedding anniversary. That means I need to get up at 4:30am ...yikes.

I just checked the weather forecast and today the high temperature is supposed to be 5 degrees Fahrenheit (that's -15 Celcius) with winds 20 - 30 MPH. My, my, how balmy that is going to be! Let me not forget my stocking cap, scarf and gloves. And warm shoes and coat.

Thank you everyone for all your helpful suggestions for a gift of photographs and a BIG THANK YOU to CindyS for the idea of a digital picture frame. I bought one with an 8" screen on sale after Thanksgiving for $99 (regularly $180) and then bought an SD card for only $10. I have been busily copying files to the SD card and scanning about 100 old photos to add to the card too. The scanning takes quite a while especially if you increase the resolution. Some of the old photos are in bad shape so I really needed to have a higher resolution. I think the card could probably hold about 500 photos but I don't have time to scan that many. I think they'll like what I was able to do. It sort of looks like this one.

The picture frame is so easy to use. Just turn it on and pop in the SD card and it starts a slide show of all the pictures on the card. Now if their grand daughter, Jennifer - who has two kids, has some digital photos she wants to share she can pop the SD card from her digital camera into the frame and show them the latest adventures of their great grandkids. I think mom & dad are going to love it.

When I get home from work I must finish scanning and pack my suitcase. Oh, course, figure out what books to bring.

Reading Now: Dangerous Lover by Lisa Marie Rice.
YUM, very, very, very HOT. Lots of build up and sexual tension before the sex scenes. Jack has been in love with the heroine for 12 years, but when he comes back in her life she doesn't recognize him (he was just a teenager then and she was very rich). Caroline has lost her parents and brother and is barely making ends meet. She takes in boarders to help pay for the upkeep on the old mansion she lives in and Jack approaches her about renting a room. She needs comfort and Jack provides it. Great sex scenes. There is a back story about blood diamonds related to Jack's previous work that is just getting started now and I'm hoping it doesn't distract me from the main plot. My only complaint so far is that the heroine is just too perfect and beautiful.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Movie Review: Beowulf

My team at work won a little competition a few months ago and the prize was lunch and a movie. Our manager finally delivered on that prize yesterday. The guys wanted to go to a Thai restaurant and the movie they decided on was Beowulf in 3D at the IMAX theatre. Not my decision but I went along with it.

The movie was horrid. Too gruesome, bloody and disgusting. I know it was just digital animation but it was very realistic and with the 3D glasses made it look like blood, guts and body parts were flying in your face constantly.

The monster Grendel was so ugly that he was excruciatingly painful to even look at. When Grendel grabs one of the men and bites his head off and crunches on it like celery, my stomach heaved and right there I was done. But I had to sit there because I couldn't see myself climbing over 8 people to get the hell out of there so I suffered through much of the rest of it with my eyes closed.

And the nudity was another story. Now I don't mind nudity, especially male nudity :) but just imagine watching a movie with 8 of your fellow mostly-male coworkers where a male and female character were totally nude (ok, I know it was animation). Would you feel a tad uncomfortable? I was squirming a bit. OK, here's the deal. Angelina Jolie is Grendel's evil mother (forgot her character's name) and she emerges as a gold-plated nude from the waters of the lagoon. Except she had no nipples. (Are those real breasts, cuz mine were never that perky... just saying). And she had spike-heeled feet .... NOT shoes, FEET. You can see it in this picture here. When I saw that I burst out laughing. I think that my girlfriend co-worker and I were the only people that caught that because we were the only ones laughing. The guys were silent ... I'm sure I know what they were looking at. Beowulf is the boastful warrior that takes on Grendel and strips nude to do battle with him. But the family jewels are always kept hidden by well placed objects or people. I don't get that... why are women shown completely nude from head to toe, front & back. Yet nude men always have the good parts covered. There's a double standard here. Men are wimps.

Those damn 3D glasses gave me a headache and made my face itch plus I had to go to the bathroom EXTREMELY badly the last 45 minutes. Let's just say I was miserable through the whole movie. Can you believe this thing was rated PG-13? Should have been R rated really but they got away with it because it was animation. There is something wrong with the MPAA rating system... it's total crap.

I will say that the animation was good with a few problems. Sometimes motion was sort of jerky like when they are riding horses. Too choppy. Anyway, this is not a girl movie. At. All. It might have been tolerable if seen in a regular theatre where bloody stuff isn't flying so much in your face. Or maybe just rent the video when it comes out so you can mute the head crunching sounds. Blech!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

60th Wedding Anniversary

Bob's parent's 60th Wedding Anniversary is November 30th and we decided to fly to North Dakota to celebrate with them. This decision was prompted by an email from his aunt who laid a bit of a guilt trip on us. She said basically that she wished we lived closer to her (and them) and wouldn't it be nice to surprise them with a visit in honor of this momentous event. Then she started cataloging all their various aches and pains and ailments. I'm sure we deserved to be slapped alongside the head with this wakeup call.

Several weeks ago Bob and I talked about going out there but had decided against it because
  1. Bob hates flying
  2. It's expensive
  3. We just saw them in June
But really those are pitiful excuses. We won't have them much longer and we need to make more of an effort.

BTW, I adore my in-laws. Plus the love they have shown their grandchildren makes them the best grandparents on the planet. My MIL never forgets a birthday and continually tells me she feels she's so lucky her son married me. My FIL is a hoot and loves to laugh and tell stories of his youth. In fact they both love a good joke and laughing is their favorite past time. They were hard working farmers and lived on the farm up until about 5 years ago when they had to move into the city - Minot - where they are closer to good medical care. Last year they moved into an assisted living facility because things have been getting harder for them. My MIL is 87 and my FIL is 82. An older woman/younger man story spanning 60 years. :)

We will arrive on Friday (30th) around 4:00 and go to dinner at their favorite restaurant. Then Saturday we will spend all day with them. I've heard talk from some relatives that they are trying to arrange some kind of open house party for them that day. Since we are 1200 miles away we can't help out with the plans which makes me feel bad but I said we would contribute the money if they wanted to reserve a meeting room in a hotel to hold the party. Bob's sister is in North Dakota so I'm sure most of the party planning will fall on her unfortunately. We will head back to Seattle on Sunday morning.

I love my MIL as much as my mom and she filled the void when my mom died in 1999. We used to talk and laugh together on the phone. But in recent years she has been getting more forgetful so whenever she calls she keeps the conversations very short. I really think she is afraid she will repeat herself or make a mistake about her memory. But really I don't care, I love her and she can say anything and I won't judge. But you can tell she is very self conscious. She has a pacemaker and Bob's aunt says that the only thing keeping her alive.

My main problem now is figuring out an anniversary gift for them. Help! I need suggestions! What do you get for a couple in their 80's who live in assisted living facility? I was thinking about some food item or treat but that seems like a stupid anniversary gift. Their apartment is very small so they don't have a lot of room. They will probably say that our presence will be gift enough but I think 60 years deserves something.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Serpent Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt

SETTING: Historical - Georgian era
TYPE: Straight Romance
PAGES: 384
SERIES: 3rd in the "Prince" series. The heroes of these three books are friends but the books really stand alone.


Country bred Lucy Craddock-Hayes is content with her quiet life. Until the day she trips over an unconscious man—a naked unconscious an—and loses her innocence forever.

Viscount Simon Iddesleigh was nearly beaten to death by his enemies. Now he’s hell-bent on vengeance. But as Lucy nurses him back to health, her honesty startles his jaded sensibilities—even as it ignites a desire that threatens to consume them both.

Charmed by Simon’s sly wit, urbane manners, and even his red-heeled shoes, Lucy falls hard and fast for him. Yet as his honor keeps him from ravishing her, his revenge sends his attackers to her door. As Simon wages war on his foes, Lucy wages her own war for his soul using the only weapon she has—her love…

Unless I read something very spectacular between now and the end of the year, TSP will most likely top my list of best historicals for 2007 in AAR's annual poll. I also made a place for it in my recently completed Top 100 Romances.

TSP had it all -- a dark tortured anti-hero, hot spicy sex scenes, and a wonderfully romantic ending which I've re-read 3 times as of this counting. However, the book had an edgy, gritty quality but was saved from being too serious by a fantastic hero and heroine. The cast of 3-D characters, including Simon's valet, and Lucy's father, a retire naval officer, were also well drawn.

Hoyt is a talented storyteller and I was engrossed from first page to last. This is another controversial book because lots of people may have issues with Simon's behavior in regards to his overwhelming need for vengeance against those who killed his brother. In fact, he goes over the top but I love this type of 'anti-hero' in the tradition of Anne Stuart, my favorite type as a matter of fact. His ultimate redemption at the end is all the sweeter. Never fear, he falls in love with the heroine, Lucy, from the start and treats her well although he fails to tell her the truth about his schemes for revenge until almost the end of the book.

Be warned that the level of violence portrayed in the duels may make some readers uncomfortable. I'm not fond of too much blood and guts myself. But to be fair I thought the duels were realistically portrayed.

Simon is a dark character but he is witty, clever and utterly charming and won my heart completely. Lucy is a down to earth country girl, and her calm demeanor and honesty are a perfect foil to Simon's sarcasm and teasing. But Lucy is also intelligent and sharp-tongued making the dialog between them a pleasure to read. The sex scenes are steamy too ... very erotic and emotional.

As in the previous two books there is a secondary story - a fairy tale about a Serpent Prince and magic and granting wishes - which Simon tells Lucy in bits and pieces throughout the book. It completely rounded out the book. I look forward to more from this author.


Thursday, November 08, 2007

Hot Wheels & High Heels by Jane Graves

PAGES: 363
SETTING: Contemporary
TYPE: Straight Romance

She has caviar dreams on a SPAM budget

Trophy wife Darcy McDaniel has just discovered that, thanks to her embezzling husband, her posh, upper-class life is gone for good. Now she's trading her suburban palace for a trailer park and her weekly salon appointments for a job. Darcy needs a new man--fast--one who'll keep her in the manner she darn well deserves. Problem is, the hottest prospect around is the my-way-or-the-highway hunk who's making off with her beloved Mercedes!

He doesn't want trouble...until she saunters in wearing high heels

Ex-cop turned repo man John Stark is sure that hiring the furious woman in his headlights is a colossal mistake. He knows Darcy's high-maintenance, designer-labels-only type--after all, he's used to taking their cars. But he never expected this hellion to have the smarts and the spunk to go from receptionist to repo agent in record time...or to drive him insane with desire. She's the last thing this tall, dark, and dangerous loner needs...and everything ne never knew he wanted.

I was very pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed HW&HH. My first book by this author, I Got You, Babe, was a keeper and the next two were pretty good, although not as good as IGYB for me. In HW&HH the heroine, Darcy McDaniel, returns from vacation with a girlfriend to discover her husband has sold their house, emptied their bank accounts and disappeared. Darcy is a trophy wife who traded on her youth and good looks to a man old enough to be her father so she can live the easy life. All she has left is her fancy car and her dog, Pepe. She has no money and no where to live and no job skills. So back to the trailer park she goes to live with her parents until she figures out what to do. Darcy was not a very likable character at first. But her character development along the way was very nicely done.

John Stark is an ex-cop who now owns his own repossession company. Darcy's husband was not making the payments on her car and John tracks her down in order to repo her car but Darcy catches him at it. There is a very funny scene where Darcy tricks him while he is trying to repo her car so that she keeps it from him. But he eventually catches up with her and gets the car. But he ends up offering her the receptionist job in his office and then the sparks start to fly. The snappy dialog was funny and the plot was fast paced and entertaining. I really started to like Darcy and became sympathetic to how she got in her predicament and how she works hard to get out and be self sufficient. John was yummy and the sexual tension was delicious. Even the secondary characters are well done. Although Darcy's mother was rather cliche, her father turned out to be very human and likable. This was a fun read guaranteed to make you smile. I'll be reading Graves's next book Tall Tales & Wedding Veils which features John's employee, Tony.


Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Some good books from 2007 - Part 2

More books from 2007 that I have enjoyed.

Claiming The Courtesan by Anna Campbell
This book was one of the most controversial books of the year. It seemed that people either loved it or hated it. Justin, Duke of Kylemore, is a spoiled selfish powerful man with a heap of emotional baggage. He is absolutely obsessed with his mistress Soraya and wants to make her his duchess. But Soraya is really Verity Ashton and wants to leave the life of a courtesan for a more respectable life in the country. When she disappears from London, Justin is furious and tracks her down and kidnaps her. He treats her cruelly and the forced seduction scenes were painful to read and normally I would have cringed thrown the book at the wall. But I was absolutely enthralled and couldn't put it down. These were two damaged souls and I love a good redemption story. The forced seduction was really more emotionally violent rather than physically violent. This was Campbell's debut book and she took quite a risk with this storyline but I will definitely be reading her next one, Untouched, due out in December.

My grade: B+

The Leopard Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt
I picked this one up because I loved The Raven Prince and I'm glad I did. Lady Georgina Maitland is a wealthy woman. She inherited a fortune and a large amount of land from an aunt and now she needs someone to manage her property. She hires Harry Pye as her land steward. As Harry and Georgina work together their attraction develops and results in some very steamy love scenes. I love stories where there is a big difference in social standing and this one was handled realistically. When Harry is accused of poisoning a neighbor's sheep, Georgina immediately believes in Harry's innocence. Both characters were very likable and were realistically portrayed.

My grade: B+

Ice Blue by Anne Stuart
Here is another excellent example of the cold dark anti-hero who spends a great deal of time wavering between the desire to assassinate or make love to the heroine. Summer Hawthorne is the daughter of a wealthy woman involved in a Japanese religious cult run by a disturbed fanatic, Shirosama, who is planning a catastrophic killing of millions of people with biological weapons. Summer was given a priceless Japanese bowl by her nanny and her mother has promised the bowl to the Shirosama (for some ritualistic reasons I didn't quite understand) but Summer refuses to let him have it. Takashi O'Brien is a member of the Committee, a top secret anti-terrorist organization. Taka is assigned the task of acquiring the bowl and assassinating Summer to assure her silence. But he ends up saving her from Shirosama's followers and a complex thrilling roller coaster adventure begins. Taka belongs to the Yakuza (Japanese mafia) and is half Japanese, half American and walked that fine line between hero and villain. Summer was one of Stuart's stronger heroines.

My grade: B

Reading now: Just finished Simply Irresistible by Rachel Gibson and loved it. This is Gibson's debut novel and I don't think her later books have this kind of depth. I just started Hard Lovin' Man by Lorraine Heath on KristieJ's rec. Very good so far.

Happy Halloween

Dev gave me this cute little Halloween treat:

We had a Halloween party at work with a potluck and costumes, office decorating contest and bingo. Some people brought spooky food. Someone brought these black duck eggs which are some kind of Chinese delicacy and were the grossest thing I have ever seen. Someone took pictures of costumes and the weird food. The employees' kids are coming later for trick or treating at all of our offices. I love seeing all the kids costumes.

I bought a huge bag of candy for the trick or treaters from the neighborhood. We usually only get 5 kids. Guess who has to eat all that leftover candy :)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Top 100 Romances

Here is my list of top 100 romances for the AAR poll, such as it is. It was a lot of work and slightly painful when I had to slash it down to a "mere" 100. And the ordering is pure crap. My top 20 are bunched together and only kinda in order and the rest are ordered as best I could. It's an impossible task and depended on my mood of the day.

I'm not going to turn it in for a few days so I have time to make adjustments. I have already been tweaking it but it's starting to drive me crazy so I just have to let it go.

1A Rose at MidnightAnne Stuart
2Flowers from the StormLaura Kinsale
3Pride and PrejudiceJane Austen
4The Notorious RakeMary Balogh
5Red Adam's Lady Grace Ingram
Fallen From Grace
Laura Leone
7 Night in EdenCandice Proctor
8 After the Night Linda Howard
9 To Have and To HoldPatricia Gaffney
10 Naked in Death J. D. Robb
11 All Through the Night Connie Brockway
12 Black Ice Anne Stuart
13 Duncan's BrideLinda Howard
14Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand Carla Kelly
15 Truly Madly YoursRachel Gibson
16 Reforming Lord Ragsdale Carla Kelly
17 Sunshine and Shadows Tom and Sharon Curtis
18 Last Summer Theresa Weir
19 Morning Glory LaVyrle Spencer
20 Sea Swept Nora Roberts
21 With This Ring Carla Kelly
22 Angels Fall Nora Roberts
23 Dream Man Linda Howard
24 Heart of Deception Taylor Chase
25 See Jane Score Rachel Gibson
26 Heart of Fire Linda Howard
27 Dreaming of You Lisa Kleypas
28 Thunder and Roses Mary Jo Putney
29 It Had To Be You Susan Elizabeth Phillips
30 The Wives of Bowie Stone Maggie Osborne
31 One Summer Karen Robards
32 The Emerald Necklace Diana Brown
33 Dance Judy Cuevas
34 Lady Gallant Suzanne Robinson
35 Nightfall Anne Stuart
36 Joe's Wife Cheryl St. John
37 Faro's Daughter Georgette Heyer
38 Wolf in Waiting Rebecca Flanders
39 A Fine Work of Art Shelby Reed
40 Untie My Heart Judith Ivory
41 Streets of Fire Judith Duncan
42 Ride the Fire Pamela Clare
43 Cry No More Linda Howard
44 Out of Control Suzanne Brockmann
45 The Phoenix Code Catherine Asaro
46 The Windflower Tom and Sharon Curtis
47 MacKenzie's Pleasure Linda Howard
48 The Lady's Tutor Robin Schone
49 Match Me If You Can Susan Elizabeth Phillips
50 Passion Lisa Valdez
51 One Good Turn Carla Kelly
52 Dream Fever Katherine Sutcliffe
53 Paradise Judith McNaught
54 The Serpent Prince Elizabeth Hoyt
55 Lady of Quality Georgette Heyer
56 Anyone But You Jennifer Crusie
57 A Debt of Honor Diana Brown
58 Prairie Wife Cheryl St. John
59 To Love a Dark Lord Anne Stuart
60 The Monk Downstairs Tim Farrington
61 Harvard's Education Suzanne Brockmann
62 Devil in Winter Lisa Kleypas
63 Heaven, Texas Susan Elizabeth Phillips
64 Simple Jess Pamela Morsi
65 Devilish Jo Beverley
66 Skypirate Justine Davis
67 Perfect Judith McNaught
68 Bliss Judy Cuevas
69 Winter Garden Adele Ashworth
70 My Dearest Enemy Connie Brockway
71 Welcome To Temptation Jennifer Crusie
72 Sleeping Beauty Judith Ivory
73 Libby's London Merchant Carla Kelly
74 All the Queen's Men Linda Howard
75 A Kingdom of Dreams Judith McNaught
76 Born in Fire Nora Roberts
77 Caressed by Ice Nalini Singh
78 A Much Younger Man Dianne Highbridge
79 Slow Heat in Heaven Sandra Brown
80 In the Midnight Rain Ruth Wind
81 Driven to Distraction Judith Duncan
82 Julie & Romeo Francis Ray
83 Birthright Nora Roberts
84 Games of Command Linnea Sinclair
85 Slave to Sensation Nalini Singh
86 Keeper of the Dream Penelope Williamson
87 The Nightingale's Song Kathleen Eschenberg
88 All Night Long Michelle Jerott
89 Kinsman's Oath Susan Krinard
90 Upon a Wicked Time Karen Ranney
91 Render Unto Caesar Gillian Bradshaw
92 Manhunting Jennifer Crusie
93 A Reason to Live Maureen McKade
94 Castaway Hearts Nancy Butler
95 The Lone Rider Lauren Bach
96 Texas! Chase Sandra Brown
97 The Trouble With Joe Emilie Richards
98 Heart Throb Suzanne Brockmann
99 Heat Lightning Anne Stuart
100 Married by Mistake Melinda McRae

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Working on "The List"

Time is running out and I'm feeling stressed about finishing my Top 100 Romances for the AAR poll. I finally narrowed down my list to 100 last night. Then I started the monumental task of sorting them in order of preference. I was rather overwhelmed until I came up with the idea of taking 20 of my all time favorites (I tried 10 at first but that was too hard) set them aside in a new list and then put them in a semi-order. Then I grabbed 20 more from the remaining 80 and sorted those. And so on it goes. I still have 40 left to go.

The whole task of sorting them is really like comparing apples to oranges. I may like one book more for the characters and another more for the plot, etc. etc. I like different books for different reasons. In the end I'm sorting them for my gut feeling about them. Or rather my heart. It's all subjective.

Anyway, AAR Rachel and Rosario finished their lists. And AAR published Interim results at the bottom of the poll. I found a couple books on these lists that I want to add but that means deleting some from my current list. Impossible! I better quit looking at other lists. I'd like to publish my list in a nice table like they did but I don't think I'm that smart.

What else? Oh, yeah, did you read about Nora Roberts winning book of the year at the 3rd annual Quill Awards? Totally awesome. I'm so proud :)

The rumble continues with KristieJ and Cindy posting some cool sparklies. It's so nice to be part of a community where people can disagree without getting their panties in a twist. I came up on the side of Derek and Cindy is feeling betrayed but I know she still loves me. Right, Cindy? Hmm, maybe I'll have to do something to get back into her good graces and groveling is probably involved.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Some good books from 2007

I have read 39 books published in 2007 so far this year but I have only done reviews on about a third of them. So in an effort to catch up, here are some quickie reviews of the best of the rest.

The Abducted Heiress by Claire Thornton
This book takes place in the Restoration Era in 1666 during the Great Fire of London. The setting, characters, and attitudes felt realistic for the place and time. Although the book had it's faults I enjoyed reading about the fire and how it affected people. Jayne at DearAuthor wrote a more thorough review so click here if you want to know more. My grade: B-

Innocent in Death by J. D. Robb
Another solid and fascinating addition to this series. I love this series and I think my main motivation for reading them is to see how the relationship between Eve and Roarke develops. And every book seems to have some event or events that move their relationship forward and makes it stronger. IID is no different. When an old girlfriend of Roarke's comes into town and starts asking for 'favors', Eve doesn't know quite how to handle it. She is extremely jealous but wants to appear unconcerned. Deep down though her insecurities are twisting her in knots. Magdelina is stunningly beautiful and super smooth but Eve is suspicious and despises her on sight. Roarke seems oblivious at first and insulted at Eve's jealousy, but he is no dummy and my respect for him was raised another notch because he sees through Magdelina fairly quickly. Oh, and the homicide investigation in IID is another good one. A much-beloved young teacher at an exclusive private school is murdered and I was rather shocked when his murderer is finally revealed because I didn't see it (or refused to believe it). My grade: B+

Castle of the Wolf by Sandra Schwab
This book also had an unusual setting - a dark mysterious castle in the Black Forest of Germany. I'm not sure of the time period but it seemed like maybe 1820's or so. I cut my eyeteeth on dark gothics like Jane Eyre when I was a teenager and this book reminded me so much of them. The hero is dark and tortured and is hiding some secrets. The heroine is convinced someone is trying to kill her. Some spooky weird things happen and the hero is so enigmatic that I almost believed he was behind them. Anyway it was great fun.
My grade: B

Well, I'm running out of steam tonight so I'll make another post this weekend with some more quickie reviews.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Free View

Cindy tagged me a few days ago and I'm just getting around to it. This is my desktop at work. Yeah, you're not seeing double. I have two monitors so when I did a Print Screen it took an image of both monitors. I'm too lazy to crop it.

I subscribe to Webshots and my favorite wallpapers all show beach scenes. I especially love tropical beach scenes that show palm trees, sand and turquoise blue water. They make me wish I was there inside the picture. Especially when we have those gray dreary days (like today) and I feel like escaping.

I'll try to do a print screen of my home computer later. I don't think there is anyone left to tag but I'll look at that too when I get home.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Dirty by Megan Hart

PAGES: 425
SETTING: Contemporary
TYPE: Erotica
SERIES: No (loosely related to Broken)

REASON FOR READING: Janine's review at DearAuthor piqued my interest. Also I greatly enjoyed Broken.

This is what happened . . .

I met him at the candy store. He turned around and smiled at me and I was surprised enough to smile back. This was not a children's candy store, mind you—this was the kind of place you went to buy expensive imported chocolate truffles for your boss's wife because you felt guilty for having sex with him when you were both at a conference in Milwaukee. Hypothetically speaking, of course.

I've been hit on plenty of times, mostly by men with little finesse who thought what was between their legs made up for what they lacked between their ears. Sometimes I went home with them anyway, just because it felt good to want and be wanted, even if it was mostly fake.

The problem with wanting is that it's like pouring water into a vase full of stones. It fills you up before you know it, leaving no room for anything else. I don't apologize for who I am or what I've done in—or out—of bed. I have my job, my house and my life, and for a long time I haven't wanted anything else.

Until Dan. Until now.


This was a much harder review to write than the one I did for Broken. Elle Kavanaugh is a very troubled young woman and even though this book is written in first person we don't really know what's going on. Somewhere around a third of the way into the book I started to decipher all the signals and hints which had raised my suspicions. By the halfway point I had figured out the main issue and although the subject is a difficult one for most women, I couldn't put the book down.

Elle is not a likable person or admirable in any way. She doesn't act wisely and seems self destructive. Well, actually she is self-destructive and that right there is a big hint and should set off the alarm bells in your brain. When we first meet Elle we find out that she has been celibate for 3 years but before that had been having frequent anonymous sex. It was strange how the way Ms. Hart wrote this made me feel like I was inside Elle's head but she wasn't telling me what I really wanted to know ..... mainly my question was "Why?" Eventually I had to figure it out for myself.

Elle meets Dan Stewart in a candy store. They start dating but their relationship takes weeks to become sexual. Elle can't do emotional intimacy so she treats their relationship like those anonymous sexual encounters from years ago. Some reviews I've read on this book thought Elle's voice read rather flat but I had the opposite reaction. I thought it was very emotional and very thought provoking especially after I figured out her issues. It was difficult and sometimes painful to read but I have to agree with Janine from DearAuthor when she describes the tone of the book this way:
...this delivery showed Elle’s numbness, her emotional armor, in a way that a different tone would not have.
That about sums it up.

Dan wants more intimacy and Elle wants less. Eventually they figure out why she pushes him away and they have a happy ending but it was not an easy journey. The resolution of their problems was dealt with very realistically and some readers might feel it's a bit too real. The cover calls it "An Erotic Novel" and the sex scenes are burning but some of them were not really "sexy", if you know what I mean. Well, maybe you don't. Anyway, this book isn't for everyone but I found it satisfying and was convinced of Dan and Elle's future happiness. If you want to read something a little deeper or if you enjoyed Hart's Broken, you might consider giving this book a try.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Strange sight and other stuff

Saw something strange today. I was driving to work this morning when I came to a stop light. Crossing the road in front of me in the crosswalk was a young woman (probably mid-20's) who was reading a hardback book while crossing the street. It looked like she was on the last few pages but sheesh!, does she have a death wish or something. Now I have been known to read while walking back in my college days but never while crossing the street. I live in an area where pedestrians have more rights than drivers but still people have been known to be killed in a crosswalk even around here. You can't trust drivers to actually see you. And to top it off, it was raining! So the pages had to have been getting wet. Must have been a really good book. Wonder what it was :)

I'm a software tester and I use a computer constantly everyday. Using my mouse has been causing me pain and severe coldness in my right hand for the last year or so. I've been trying to use my left hand for my mouse and trying to learn keyboard shortcuts which has helped a little. I decided to buy a new wireless mouse which is ambidextrous so I can use it with either hand. I came across a review at for wireless mouses (or mice) and the top rated one seemed to fill the bill. It's made for smaller hands (yeah, I have small hands and small feet - completely out of proportion to my butt) and can be used with either hand. It has a scroll wheel that is the fastest one on the market - it really screams. And the mouse is wireless so I can move it anywhere on my desk or even to my lap. I like to keep it on the left side of my keyboard and I use it with either hand. I'm getting pretty good at using it with my left hand, but when I'm in a hurry I can use my right hand. Yeah, it was pricey but worth it. Almost no pain or coldness in my hand/arm now.

I went through my spreadsheet and came up with a list of more than 125 books of my favorite books for AAR's Top 100 Romances poll. You have until October 31st to submit it but I'd like to get it done before that. I still need to trim it down but putting it in order of preference is going to be a very difficult task.

I came across this link about the cheapest days to buy certain items to get the best deals. Check it out. Under Books is says that the cheapest day to buy is Thursday.

Reading now: The Serpent Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt and it has a fascinating hero whose wit just leaps off the pages. The heroine is well done too. I just came across a very funny dinner scene that had me laughing out loud. KristieJ just reviewed it and gave it a top score and put it on her Top 100 Romances list. I have a feeling I'm going to be doing the same thing when I finish it. What's everyone reading now?

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Tangled Up in You by Rachel Gibson

SETTING: Contemporary
TYPE: Straight Romance
PAGES: 364
SERIES: Third in the 'author friends' series

SUMMARY: [from Amazon]
Maddie is determined to uncover the untold story about the town's sordid past—her past. As a child, Maddie lost everything, and now she's back at the scene of the scandal—a local establishment that's always belonged to the Hennessys—determined to uncover the truth, and nothing is going to stand in her way. Especially not a black-haired, blue-eyed Hennessy.

Everyone in Truly knows that the Hennessy men are irresistible, and the current owner, Mick, is no exception. His late father was a skirt-chasing heartbreaker who ended up causing disaster for two families. So far, Mick's managed to keep the ladies in line, but when he claps eyes on Maddie, with her luscious curves and tempting lips, he can't resist getting tangled up with her.

But Maddie is keeping secrets, not the least of which is her true reason for being in town. And when Mick discovers what‘s really going on, there is going to be a whole lot of trouble in Truly.


I was rather lukewarm over Gibson's last couple of books but I was pleasantly surprised with this latest one. Not quite as good as my two favorites, Truly Madly Yours and See Jane Score, but very good nonetheless. As in the last two books in the series, the heroine of TUIY was again a writer.

Maddie Dupree travels back to her hometown, Truly, Idaho, to research the story of a double murder-suicide which happens to be a very personal story. Maddie is a true crime writer and the story she is researching involves her mother. Thirty years ago when Maddie was a little girl her mother began an affair with the local bar owner. When his wife discovers the affair she shoots them both, then herself. Maddie is left all alone in the care of her eccentric aunt. The cheating husband's son, Mick Hennessey, now owns the bar. He and his sister were totally devastated by this event as children and he now wants to just forget the past. Mick is furious that this author is in town stirring up old memories better left forgotten. Mick and the rest of the town don't know that Maddie is the daughter of 'that waitress'.

The pages fairly sizzle from the moment Maddie and Mick meet and they had wonderful chemistry and sexual tension together. But Maddie keeps her true identity secret much too long and I was could just see the writing on the wall. And as expected when Mick finally finds out he is royally pissed.

The topic was probably more serious than Gibson's previous works but I thought she weaved the serious subject with some witty dialog rather well. In the end I really sympathized with both of them. They both had been damaged by this tragedy and each came to see that they couldn't hate the other for the actions of their parents because it was out of their control. They were both victims and they realized they could comfort each other. There is also a very nice secondary romance between Mick's old army buddy and his sister. Overall, I thought Mick and Maddie were perfect together and I enjoyed their snappy dialog.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Huntress by Susan Carroll

PAGES: 490
SETTING: Historical - Tudor England/France - 1585
TYPE: Historical Fiction - Romance
SERIES: 4th book in the Daughters of the Earth (Faire Isle) Series
REASON FOR READING: I greatly enjoyed the first three books in the series, The Dark Queen (B+), The Courtesan (A-), and The Silver Rose (B-).

In a time of intrigue and betrayal, the huntress is on a quest that could jeopardize two empires and two great queens: Catherine de Medici and Elizabeth I.

The year is 1585–and prophecy has foretold the coming of a daughter of the Earth whose powers are so extraordinary they could usurp the very rule of the Dark Queen herself, Catherine de Medici. Dispatched from Brittany to London, Catriona O’Hanlon, known as the Huntress, must find this mysterious young girl and shield her from those who will exploit her mystic abilities, which have the potential to change the course of history.

Catriona’s skill with weaponry is all she has to protect herself and her young charge from spies who snake through the courts of Elizabeth I, the Virgin Queen–including the girl’s own father, whose loyalties are stretched to the breaking point. But Catriona will soon face menacing forces and sinister plots unlike any she has ever encountered.

I was pleasantly surprised when I found out that this series was not actually a trilogy since the third book left a lot of unanswered questions. The previous books in the series told the stories of the three Cheney sisters. It is now a couple years later in 1585 and this fourth book tells the story of Catriona O'Hanlon, one of Ariane Cheney's most trusted friends. Ariane is the leader of the Daughters of the Earth, a group of healers (some call them witches) who reside on Faire Isle in France.

Cat is called the Huntress for her fierce warrior-like qualities and her feisty personality. Ariane has assigned her the task of locating a sorceress's daughter, Megaera, and bringing her back to the Faire Isle where she will be safe from the evil machinations of Catherine de Medici, known as the Dark Queen. Martin le Loup has fled France with his daughter, eleven year old Meg, to England certain he can keep her safer with him. He is living disguised as an Englishman in London and is trying to mold Meg into a proper English lady.

Cat is just the type of heroine I adore. She's a real spitfire with her red hair and Irish temper. She can wield a sword or shoot a bow and arrow and she takes her role as a warrior seriously. And she's not afraid to speak her mind. But she also has a vulnerable side and has her insecurities. I love heroines with a tough outer shell and a mushy center. When she locates Martin and Meg she tries to convince Martin to take Meg to Faire Isle, but he refuses.

But Martin has become embroiled in some political intrigue and an intricate assassination plot to kill Queen Elizabeth I. Martin and Cat have some entertaining verbal battles over who can protect Meg and I thoroughly enjoyed their conflicts when he and his servants try to get rid of her. They have great chemistry together. But Cat is a tough cookie and she won't be dislodged from her appointed task of keeping Meg safe from a sinister coven that practices the dark arts. They want Meg for her mystical powers which she inherited from her mother. In addition the evil Dark Queen wants the Book of Shadows that Meg is hiding.

It all sounds a little complicated but don't worry, it was easy to follow. In fact, I thought the middle sagged a bit when not enough was happening. But the last third was fast paced with some spicy love scenes. This is not a story about witches and magic, it only provided a little backdrop to the plot. Queen Elizabeth makes a short appearance near the last too. Carroll skillfully weaves together fact and fiction and I found it fascinating. If not for the sagging middle this one would have been a keeper. However, it was still as enjoyable as the rest of the books in the series. If you enjoyed the others, I'm sure you'll like this one.

MISCELLANEOUS: After visiting her website, I found out that she is planning a 5th book in the series. Oh, happy, happy, joy, joy!


Saturday, September 22, 2007

Why Women Read More Than Men

Here is a fascinating article about why women read more than men. As an experiment someone gave out free books in a London park. The women takers were "eager and grateful" while the men "frowned in suspicion or distaste".

I can't say I'm surprised. Bob and I are good example of this.

2007 Reads
Me: 88
Bob: 0

I rest my case.

How much has your significant other read this year?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Four books in four days

Just got back from a short vacation. We went camping in our RV to Pearrygin Lake State Park near Winthop, Washington. We went there last year and I believe I blogged about it then. The weather was beautiful ... sunny, warm, perfect temperature. The mama deer and their babies were running free through the park at all hours of the day. The baby fawns are so cute.

With all that free time I was able to finish four books in four days. You'd think I had my nose in a book the entire time but I managed to do some walking, shopping in town, and catching up on my naps :) It's amazing how much reading I can do if I don't have people bugging me.

Up Close and Dangerous by Linda Howard (2007 - romantic suspense)
I liked UC&D better than LH's last two books (Cover of Night and Killing Time). The plot was more believable and more romantic. Bailey Wingate and Cam Justice are left stranded after the small plane he is piloting for her crash lands in the mountains of Idaho. The majority of the book reads like a survivalist how-to book and I found it fascinating. Cam and Bailey begin the book as antagonistic towards each other before the crash but afterwards they learn to rely on each other and their survival skills in order to make it off the mountain alive. And the sexual tension slowly heats up. Some of it was a bit unrealistic (would you want to have sex in those conditions?) but I didn't care. I loved Cam's sexy Texas drawl and Bailey's steady competent strength. My only complaint is the suspense was rather light and the too fast and quick ending. I want an epilogue! My grade: A-

Wild Wild West by Charlene Teglia (2007 - contemporary erotic romance)
WWW was hot, sexy, steamy, sizzling and yummy. The book tells the story of three couples with about 1/3 of the book devoted to each couple. Three women and three cowboys meet in an espresso cafe in Missoula Montana. They pair up and each couple has an extremely erotic evening which leads to relationships and happy endings. The last story started going into that sub-dom crap I hate and I started to think I better skip it, but it was very lightly done and never got really heavy. If you like your erotica with romance and happy endings, then you'll love this one. My grade: B+

Arousing Suspicions by Marianne Stillings (2007 - romantic suspense)
I read Stillings' first book and didn't like it that well but I decided to give her 4th book a try. And I am pleased to report that I enjoyed it very much. Tabitha March is a psychic "dream interpreter". Nate Darling is a police detective investigating a murder. Tabitha approaches him about a client who has dreamt of that murder and of course Nate doesn't believe her. Eventually, Nate goes back to her when the evidence points to that dream and Nate doesn't quite know if Tabitha may be a suspect. They begin working together to solve the crime. Tabitha and Nate are good characters and the book has quite a bit of humor that worked for me. I'll be trying Stillings again. My grade: B

Mad Dash by Patricia Gaffney (2007 - contemporary chick lit)
I'm not that crazy about chick lit but DearAuthor's review made me want to give this book a try and I'm glad I did. I liked the fact that it wasn't all written in first person. Dash's POV was first person but we also get portions of the book with husband Andrew's POV written in third person. Dash Bateman is going through a mid-life crisis after her mother dies and her daughter leaves home for college. She walks out on her husband after he objects to her keeping an abandoned puppy. I have to admit this book came a little too close to home and I found myself identifying with how she is feeling. Although I thought she was way too impulsive (something I'm not). I also sympathized with Andrew who was completely bewildered and clueless. I loved their story though and the ending was great too. My grade: B+

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Book meme

KristieJ tagged me for this meme weeks ago. I was too busy or too lazy, one or the other. Or on vacation.

1. Total number of books I own:
I can't compete with Kristie's 2289! And Rosie has her beat (2302). Incredible. I'm feeling completely deprived. Let's see... according to my spreadsheet I have 387 fiction books with about 25 mathematics and computer science textbooks I just can't part with (yeah, I'm a geek) left over from my college days from 10 years ago. Confession: I love to do calculus problems just for 'fun'. Then I have 196 in my TBR. That makes about 608. Pathetic. I need more bookshelves so I can keep more books.

2. Last book I bought
Caressed by Ice by Nalini Singh. Bought on Monday (Labor Day) with my 25% off coupon at Borders. I was there last Friday and forgot my coupon so I put it back on the shelf (bet you didn't know I had such willpower). Went back Monday and the stupid clerk claimed he scanned the coupon. Then he says "That will be $7.82". WTF??? I say "You forgot to scan the coupon." He says "Yes, I did." I say "No, you didn't." Looks and says "Oh." Good thing I was paying attention for once.

3. Last book I read
Tangled Up in You by Rachel Gibson. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked it. I haven't liked the last couple of Gibson's books that much. This one was very good. Maybe I should review it.

4. Five books that mean a lot to me
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee - I read this book as a young girl and it shaped my sense of social justice and influences my political leanings to this day.

The Moonspinners by Mary Stewart - The first 'romantic' book I ever read. I was about 15 y.o. I devoured it and went on to read her entire backlist. This one still has a special place in my heart. Young Englishwoman on holiday in Greece encounters intrigue, suspense, danger and romance. *sigh* (be still my heart) I reread it often and it never grows old.

Red Adam's Lady by Grace Ingram - The best medieval romance I have ever read. Published in 1973. I paid $30 for my VHTF copy. Most I have ever paid for a used book. I keep promising to write a review but I hate to rave about a book that will be almost impossible for people to find.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - First time I finished this book, I started over and read it through front to back a second time. I loved the subtle English humor, the wonderful dialog, and the use of language and the character development.

Duncan's Bride by Linda Howard - The book I reread the most. Love the humor, the mail-order bride theme, the wonderful hero (who's a jerk but redeems himself in the end). And Maddie, what a heroine! Still one of the sexiest books I have ever read.

5. Tag 5 people
Well, I'm sure everyone's done this already.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Day off

Just a quick post...

You all know how damn busy I have been at work the last couple months. Our manager gave us today off (with pay) because we all have been working so hard, so we have a four day weekend! Woohoo! I am also taking my two floating holidays on September 7 & 10 so Bob and I can go camping. Two four day weekends in a row! How cool is that.

You know what that means... more time for reading (I hope)! August was a bad month for me reading-wise. Only 7 books which is my lowest in a very long time. Just finished Demon Angel by Meljean Brook and it took me 6 days... 2 or 3 is my usual. It was a very difficult book to read meaning it was very complicated and I felt like I was lost or confused much of the time so I had to go slow and concentrate. Not an easy read. But worth it. Jane reviewed it and Meljean was kind enough to answer questions in the comments. Some were spoilers but I really needed those otherwise I would not have known what the HELL was going on. This was probably not a good book to read given how busy at work I have been. When I finally had time to read my brain was too exhausted to figure anything out.

Anyway I'm glad I finished it and will definitely read Demon Moon soon.

Better run... lots of stuff to do.

Happy Labor (Labour) Day everyone!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Wedding Update: The Wedding Gown

Daughter (OK... I'll tell you... it's Angie) and I (and one of her bridesmaids) went bridal gown shopping last Saturday. Did you know you need an Appointment to shop for a wedding gown? And I can see why. It takes one or two people to get you into and out of the gown.

1) Unzip the gown bag
2) Unhook from the hanger
3) Lift out the gown (weighs at least 20 pounds - it seems anyway)
4) Unhook or unzip the dress
5) Find the opening in the bottom to slip over her head (through all the layers of tulle and netting - we had some funny moments with this when she got stuck a few times)
6) Slide over her head
7) Fasten the back
8) Clip together the excess fabric to make it look fit in the front (dresses are usually a couple sizes large so anyone can try them on)
9) Pickup the train so she can walk to the wall of mirrors to get a good look all the way around.
10) When she's done admiring it (oh, she looked so beautiful each time I wanted to cry)
11) Get the dress off of her
12) Get the dress back on the hanger and into the bag.

Whew! I was exhausted physically and emotionally after 3 hours of this.

She brought her scrapbook of pictures of dresses that she had been cutting out of magazines to give the shops an idea of what she was looking for. On Saturday she tried on a couple dozen dresses and came very close to finding what she wanted. She also went shopping on Sunday with her future MIL and SIL. And she found The Dress. She called me immediately because she didn't want me to be mad that she found the dress without me. I was happy as long as she was happy. We are going back tonight after work so she can show me the dress. I can hardly wait. She showed me a picture online but I forgot to get the link so I will post it as soon as I have it. Stayed tuned.

UPDATE: Here it is! Shhhh, I'm sworn to secrecy and I'm not supposed to share these pictures with anyone but I figure you all won't tell on me.

Description: Deep V-neckline gown with spaghetti straps. Swarovski crystal beading and Robison-Anton platinum embroidery accented at empire waistline and hemline. Back waist gathers to create the look of a full train.

Fabric: Taffeta

Color: Ivory

Monday, August 27, 2007

To Catch a Mate by Gena Showalter

PAGES: 370
SETTING: Contemporary
TYPE: Straight Romance

REASON FOR READING: AAR gave it a DIK review.

Jillian Greene is always getting caught in the act—it's her job! Working at Catch A Mate, Jillian gets paid by suspicious wives to smile, flirt and prove that no man can be trusted around the opposite sex. Her only ground rule? She never gets physical. Until a heart-stoppingly gorgeous male walks in…

Marcus Brody has just been hired as bait to test female fidelity. But the last thing Jillian needs is a partner…especially an infuriating, irresistible man who's got her fantasizing about tearing off his clothes.

Can a savvy modern woman find happiness with the most tempting man she's ever known? Is there such a thing as a totally monogamous male?


It's hard to believe that AAR gave this book DIK status because I was not that impressed with it. It wasn't horrible but it just wasn't to my taste. CaM had a good plot and I loved the idea of a service that helps women discover if their boyfriend or husband is cheating on them and thought it had great comic potential. But I found some of the dialogue kind of silly and childish rather than funny as the author probably intended.

Heroine Jillian works for the agency and acts as bait to entice husbands or boyfriends who've been accused of cheating and captures their actions on film to show their female clients. Marcus takes over the agency and wants to include catching cheating wives and girlfriends into their offered services. But the way he handles his newly acquired female employees was chauvinistic and bullying. I couldn't stand the guy. Plus all his mental lusting for Jillian was ridiculous. Both the H/H had good reasons to hate members of the opposite sex and they work out their problems fairly realistically. And the sexual tension and steamy love scenes were great. But I couldn't warm up to the hero at all.

Jillian spent a lot of time thinking "I hate him, I hate him" "Wow, is he hot!" "Wow, does he have a great butt", then of course they have hot steamy sex. I don't get that. If I hate some guy (male chauvinist pig), I don't think they're attractive and want to jump them. MCP's are a total turnoff. But then that's just me. If you skip all the mental lusting and chauvinistic attitude, it would have been a pretty good read.


Friday, August 24, 2007

The Prada Paradox by Julie Kenner

SETTING: Contemporary
TYPE: Chick Lit
PAGES: 334
SERIES: 3rd book in Play.Survive.Win Series

REASON FOR READING: Loved the first book in the series, The Givenchy Code.

SUMMARY/BLURB: [from the publisher]
Devi Taylor was one of Hollywood's fastest-rising starlets -- until a crazed fan held her at knifepoint and she retreated to a life of privacy and Valium. Now recovered and ready for a comeback, Devi dreams of endorsing all things Prada, whose Rodeo Drive store she can't resist. Instead, she lands the starring role in The Givenchy Code, a high-budget action-adventure flick. But with the tabloids all over Givenchy and her recent split with her drop-dead handsome costar, Blake, Devi can't shake the feeling that another crazed fan is going to strike.

Then a frightening message -- "Play or Die" -- is delivered to Devi's house, and she finds herself sucked into a deadly and cryptic game not unlike the one in the movie she's starring in. Hollywood has always been her life, but does Devi know its secrets well enough to follow the cinematic clues that might save her and her favorite Prada bag?

As I said above, I loved The Givenchy Code, the first book in the PSW series about an internet game that turned into a life or death treasure hunt. In fact I voted it my favorite Chick Lit for 2005. So naturally I was looking forward to the rest of the series. I never got around to reading book #2, The Monolo Matrix. But AAR gave book #3, The Prada Paradox a B+ with a Hot sensuality rating, so had to have it. Unfortunately, I didn't agree with the grade OR the sensuality rating.

The H/H are both actors and heroine, Devi, is trying to bounce back after a stalker attack 5 years ago which ended her career. The book follows the same pattern as The Givenchy Code with Devi and hero Blake gathering and solving clues. The beginning setup of the story was good and I liked the main characters but eventually I got bored with the story and just wanted it to end.

Another factor affecting my opinion was the lack of sex scenes. AAR gave it a Hot sensuality rating and that's what I expected. But there must have been some kind of typo or administrative error because this book could in no way be considered Hot. Kisses only, with one sex scene with the door firmly closed. You know what happens to me when I'm expecting Hot and it doesn't deliver, don't you? I get very cranky and it affects my grading. See this review for evidence of my crankiness.

GRADE:My Grade: C

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Broken by Megan Hart

PAGES: 378
SETTING: Contemporary
TYPE: Erotica
SERIES: No (some characters from Dirty make an appearance)
SENSUALITY: Burning hot.

REASON FOR READING: Lots of intriguing reviews on blogs that gave this book excellent grades

My name is different every month—Brandy, Honey, Amy…sometimes Joe doesn't even bother to ask—but he never fails to arouse me with his body, his mouth, his touch, no matter what I'm called or where he picks me up. The sex is always amazing, always leaves me itching for more in those long weeks until I see him again.

My real name is Sadie, and once a month over lunch Joe tells me about his latest conquest. But what Joe doesn't know is that, in my mind, I'm the star of every X-rated one-night stand he has revealed to me, or that I'm practically obsessed with our imaginary sex life. I know it's wrong. I know my husband wouldn't understand. But I can't stop. Not yet.

You may be able to tell from the blurb above that this book is written in first person. This is Sadie Danning's story. On the first Friday of every month she has lunch on a park bench with a man she only knows as Joe. Each month Joe tells her an erotic story about a sexual encounter while Sadie imagines herself as the woman in the story. But Sadie is married.

In a strictly definitive sense she is cheating on her husband but I can't condemn her for it. This is not a story about infidelity. Sadie deeply loves her husband Adam. But a serious accident has left him a quadriplegic. Adam is bitter and angry and has emotionally withdrawn from their marriage. Sadie is a therapist so during the day she is helping her patients and in the evenings and on weekends she is taking care of her husband's physical needs. But no one is taking care of Sadie. She doesn't want to cheat on Adam (and doesn't in the physical sense) but these once a month lunches with Joe are an emotional release where she can feel like a woman. I'm convinced that all people need love and they need to be touched. Without it something detrimental happens to their emotional and mental well-being. There is a powerfully emotional scene when during a massage Sadie realizes it has been a very long time since she has been touched and she has an emotional breakdown. It was heart wrenching and I cried along with her. The amazing thing was that the masseuse just continued on and said it happens all the time. I can believe this. Touch is a powerful thing.

At first I wanted to hate Joe for his easy sexual conquests and one night stands, but gradually I became convinced that Joe was actually falling for Sadie and was in a way seducing her. In fact at one point I started to think he was making these stories up for her sake. That's my opinion, others may see something else.

Broken is not a romance but there is love here and hope and I read the last page with a sense of optimism for Sadie's future happiness. I couldn't stop thinking about it long after I had closed the book. Sadie's inner dialogue is compelling and her loneliness especially painful to read. The book is dark and pushes the boundaries of morality and I found it moving. Broken might make some readers uncomfortable but I loved it. It's about real imperfect people with real faults and problems.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Wrong Hostage by Elizabeth Lowell

PAGES: 416
SETTING: Contemporary Mexico
TYPE: Romantic Suspense
SERIES: 1st book in St. Kilda Consulting series
SENSUALITY: Maybe kisses only, maybe subtle. Nothing memorable.
REASON FOR READING: I have loved so many of her past books and was hoping for the best.

Orphaned at thirteen, Grace Silva clawed her way out of poverty and violence to become one of the most respected judges on the federal bench. Grace believes in the rule of law -- lives it, breathes it. She has always been buttoned up and buttoned down.

Except once.

Joe Faroe has learned that laws are made by politicians and politicians are all too human. He believes in the innocents, the ones getting ground up by governments that are too polarized or too corrupt to protect their own citizens.

Now Faroe is out of the business. Retired. He's through trying to save a world that doesn't want to be saved.

Then Grace comes to him, past and present collide, and Faroe finds himself sucked back into the shadows, tracking a violent killer who holds the life of Grace's son in his bloody hands.


"Wrong" is a good word here because there was so much about this book that just struck me as wrong. First the heroine, Grace Silva, is a supposedly strong intelligent woman who is a federal district court judge and I liked her at first. But then we learn about all the incredibly stupid things she has done. Grace was dating her future husband, Ted, when she has a brief weekend affair with the hero, Joe Faroe. They part ways and she marries her boyfriend anyway not telling him that she is not sure if he is the father of the child she is carrying (not a spoiler).

I'm making excuses for her at this point thinking, well she was young. But her stupidity continues. Eventually they learn that Ted is not the father and he is pretty pissed when he finds out. He has affair after affair and treats her and her son like dirt and still she stays with him for years. She never tells her son or Joe, the biological father, the truth. Ted is a real slimeball and does some pretty bad things and she finally divorces him. This is all back story. When the book begins her son, Lane, now 15, had been caught hacking into his school's computer to change his grades and Grace sends him away to a strict private school in Mexico at the insistence of her ex. Now, I ask you, what kind of idiot mother would do this? Ted is not the boy's father and treats him like dirt. Yet she agrees to send him away to another country to a secluded private school on his recommendation.
Let's make a list of how highly intelligent this woman is, shall we.

1) Has an affair and cheats on her future husband
2) Gets pregnant (where is the birth control)
3) Lies by omission to husband about pregnancy
4) Doesn't tell biological father or her son when she finally figures it out
5) Stays with rat bastard cheating husband who treats son like dirt
6) Sends son away out of the country to private school because rat bastard ex-husband insists

One or two of these things would not bother me at all. I've seen them all before in lots of other books and it doesn't make me fly off the handle. But that last item really threw me. I just don't buy it.

Grace receives a call from the principal demanding she come to the school in Ensenada, telling her he needs to discuss something about Lane, and she drops everything and drives from San Diego into Mexico. When she gets there she discovers that Lane is a prisoner and will be killed unless millions of dollars stolen by her ex-husband from one of the most powerful drug lords in Mexico are returned.

Grace can't go to the law if she wants to keep her son alive so she contacts her former lover (and Lane's father) Joe Faroe. And what a coincidence, he happens to be a kidnapping specialist for a private firm called St. Kilda Consulting. He agrees to help because of their past history, but when she finally reveals that Lane is his son, he is understandably pissed. And she deserves his disgust.

The plot was full of fast paced action and suspense but it was very confusing and sometimes boring. But the worst part - there was very little romance. The spark between Grace and Joe was almost non-existent.

What has happened with Elizabeth Lowell? I used to love her writing. I loved the steamy sex and alpha heroes. Loved the Only series. Loved the Donovan family series (except for some minor irritations). Loved Running Scared (OK, just the sex in the elevator scene). Loved To the Ends of the Earth, Too Hot to Handle (sex on horseback scene) and Love Song for a Raven. Lowell was famous for her sizzling sex scenes. But there was no sex in this book. Zilch. Nada. Did I miss it somehow? Were there two pages stuck together? Or was my copy missing some pages? Did I accidentally skim over it because I was so pissed off or bored with it all? Did they print a G-rated abridged edition for Sunday School teachers and little old ladies? Someone help me out here.

Maybe it's her age. How old is Lowell, anyway? Since she has been writing for 30 years, she must be in her 50s or 60s. Why has she left out the sex? I can't think of any other authors who have stopped including sex scenes the older they got. I know NR must be in her 50s and she's still going strong (with the sex scenes, people).

EL was one of the BIG romance authors, almost right up there with NR. EL has 30 books that have been on the NYT list. She just puts her name on a book and it sells millions of copies. But Nora is still consistently good. EL ... not so much any more. Is she just sitting back and resting on her laurels? I don't know but I think she has officially jumped the shark for me.


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 ...