Monday, June 25, 2007

Vacation to nowhere

Just a quick post. We are leaving Wednesday on vacation to Bob's hometown in Noonan, North Dakota, population 154. The town was founded in 1907 and so this is their 100th anniversary. So they are having a 'big celebration' with a parade and a picnic and everything. Woooeeee! Yeah, I should shut up now. I've been a real B.I.T.C.H about the whole thing and poor Bob is tired of listening to me. Look at the map here. See that little red dot near the Canadian border in the northwest corner of the state? Yeah, that's it. In the middle of freakin' nowhere. We are driving there. 1200 miles. 22 hours of driving. Each way.

Now some of you may say, why don't you fly. Well, the closest airport to Noonan is Minot which is 100 miles away. To get to Minot from Seattle you have to fly to Minneapolis, change planes, then fly on a tiny plane (HATE those) to Minot. Then you have a two hours drive to Noonon. No thanks. In all the years I have been married to Bob we have flown ONCE into Bismarck, then got stuck in a blizzard about halfway to Noonan and had to spend the night in the motel from hell. Long story short... Bob does not fly to North Dakota. Plus there are no motels so we are bringing our RV so we will have someplace to sleep besides someone's barn (just kidding).

Along with the big town celebration is Bob's family reunion and his school reunion (all 9 his former classmates ... I'm serious). Rip-roaring fun. Do you detect a note of sarcasm? Yeah, now you know why Bob is sick of me.

I won't have much time for blogging till next week. I haven't picked out my books to bring along yet. One good thing, I can read in the car with no problem.

Everyone should go checkout Cindy, Kristie, Ames, and Nath if you haven't already for the latest reports on the Canadian Romance Bloggers Convention in Toronto last weekend. Very cool and they have pictures.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Little Known Favorites

I'm very bad. This meme (started by Jennie) was going around last month but lazy Renée didn't get around to it until now. Someone tagged me but I can't figure out who. Maybe Rosario but I can't figure out how to search through her archives (hey, Rosario, you need an archive link :) I guess it doesn't matter.

Rules: List and describe three of your favorite books that other people might not be familiar with. Then tag five people No one left to tag. See, easy!


Heart of Deception by Taylor Chase
I wrote a brief review of this book a year ago and was so impressed with it I thought I'd mention it again. It was one of those books that grab you from the first page and was incredibly hard to put down. The setting is Elizabethan England and Queen Beth herself makes an appearance. The history is not just wallpaper but an integral part of the story. The characters are three-dimensional and the story is fast paced and filled with political intrigue, betrayal, treason and murder. But these events are only a backdrop to an wonderful steamy romance. The heroine is queen of the underworld and the hero gains her trust only to betray her later resulting in some emotional scenes.

The Wives of Bowie Stone by Maggie Osborne
This is probably my favorite book by MO and that's saying a lot. This western romance set in 1880's Kansas tells the story of Rosie Mulvehey who marries a convict Bowie Stone to save him from hanging and to help her with her farm. Both have a dark past and are damaged individuals. This is a story about the healing power of love that sent me looking for a box of tissues but I love a good tearjerker. There are some good secondary characters too. This book was fast paced and hard to put down, so find a comfy spot and relax and enjoy. MO has written some wonderful books in her career but I hear that she has retired from writing. Damn. But there are lots of books in her backlist I haven't read yet so I'm set for a while.

Dream Fever by Katherine Sutcliffe
Australia/New Zealand is one of my favorite settings and this one is another good one to add to a couple of Candice Proctor's books (Whisper of Heaven, Night in Eden). This historical is set in New Zealand in 1861. Nick Sabre has been exiled to NZ after being tricked by the woman he loved into killing his rival in a duel. He now runs a sheep station and just wants to be left alone. Red-haired Summer O'Neile shows up at his door claiming to be his proxy bride. But Nick doesn't remember signing the proxy form since he was drunk at the time and has no use for any woman but he decides to let her stay until the sheep shearing when he can dispose of the wool and his unwanted bride. Summer struggles to be loved and accepted by him but Nick treats her very badly. Some reviewers complained that she was too much of a doormat but I didn't see that. I loved her character and shed some tears for her. Summer falls in love with Nick but he fights his feelings. Eventually, Summer worms her way into Nick's heart and it was an emotional roller coaster ride but I really enjoyed it.


Whew, one meme down. One more meme (maybe 2) to go. Cindy tagged me for the 7x7 music meme (no, Cindy, I hate country western.) Who knows when I'll get that done.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Favorite Short Stories

AAR has a mini-poll going on. You have until June 24th to vote for your Top Ten Short Stories and your Top Ten Anthologies. I spent my spare time this weekend skimming through the anthologies on my keeper shelf and trying to come up with only 10 short stories. It's a good thing they extended the due date otherwise I'd never have finished my ballot in time. Cindy is one of the nice people who help out with counting the ballots.

I came up with the following (18) Short Stories in no particular order. Just need to reduce this list to 10 then I can submit my ballot.

"Falling for Anthony" by Meljean Brook in Hot Spell
"White Out" by Linda Howard in Strangers in the Night
"A Mummer's Play" by Jo Beverley in A Regency Christmas VII
"The Wassail Bowl" by Mary Balogh in A Regency Christmas Feast
"The Star of Bethlehem" by Mary Balogh in A Regency Christmas
"A Lady's Pleasure" by Robin Schone in Captivated
"The Star Queen" by Susan Grant in The Only One
"Overload" by Linda Howard in Summer Sensations
"Love's Prisoner" by MaryJanice Davidson in Secrets Volume 6
"Kissing the Hunter" by Angela Knight in Secrets Volume 7
"An Honest Bargain" by Julia Justiss in The Officer's Bride
"Scandalous Lord Dere" by Stephanie Laurens in Secrets of a Perfect Night
"A House East of Regent Street" by Pamela Rosenthal in Strangers in the Night
"Make a Joyful Noise" by Carla Kelly in Regency Christmas Carol
"A Virtuous Widow" by Anne Gracie in Gifts of the Season
"A Family Christmas" by Mary Balogh in Under the Mistletoe
"The Best Gift" by Mary Balogh in Under the Mistletoe
"The Demon's Mistress" by Jo Beverley in In Praise of Younger Men

Note that there are 2 different anthologies with the title Strangers in the Night. Confusing, I know. I rarely read all the stories in an anthology so I just have a few on my list of Top Ten Anthologies. Usually one or two in an anthology are good and the rest suck. I like these three because they each have stories from only one author. Howard, Kelly and Balogh are a few of my favorite authors.

Strangers in the Night (Linda Howard)
Here's to the Ladies (Carla Kelly)
Under the Mistletoe (Mary Balogh)

Have you voted yet?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Visions of Heat by Nalini Singh

COPYRIGHT: 2007
PAGES: 332
SETTING: Alternate Reality
TYPE: Paranormal Romance
SERIES: Book #2 in the Psy/Changeling series
SENSUALITY: Hot

REASON FOR READING: Previous book by Singh, Slave to Sensation caused quite a stir amongst reader bloggers. I loved it (A-) and the Psy world she created is fascinating.

SUMMARY: [Amazon]
Used to cold silence, Faith NightStar is suddenly being tormented by dark visions of blood and murder. A bad sign for anyone, but worse for Faith, an F-Psy with the highly sought after ability to predict the future. Then the visions show her something even more dangerous-aching need...exquisite pleasure. But so powerful is her sight, so fragile the state of her mind, that the very emotions she yearns to embrace could be the end of her.

Changeling Vaughn D'Angelo can take either man or jaguar form, but it is his animal side that is overwhelmingly drawn to Faith. The jaguar's instinct is to claim this woman it finds so utterly fascinating and the man has no argument. But while Vaughn craves sensation and hungers to pleasure Faith in every way, desire is a danger that could snap the last threads of her sanity. And there are Psy who need Faith's sight for their own purposes. They must keep her silenced-and keep her from Vaughn...

THOUGHTS / OPINION:
I bought this book on one of my frantic buying sprees over at Borders on the day this was released last March. Since then, it's languished in my TBR (tell me... why do I do that?).

Faith NightStar is an F-Psy who can forecast the future and this talent is the reason she has been kept in isolation in her own compound almost her whole life. She sits in a chair day in and day out predicting the future for businesses and thereby making the NightStar clan extremely wealthy. But lately she has been having disturbing visions of murder.

Vaughn is a changeling who takes jaguar form and one night comes across Faith's compound and senses her inside. He is drawn to her and becomes determined to go in and claim her but to his surprise she climbs over the fence of her compound to him. Vaughn is an alpha male any girl could love :) He's arrogant and possessive and accidentally pushes Faith into sensory overload. Faith gradually adjusts to him and her character grows from a rather fragile woman to a very tough and brave individual. Vaughn is overly protective but Faith is equally determined to exert her independence. The relationship that develops between Faith and Vaughn is deeply emotional and the love scenes are erotic and passionate. I love it when the hero falls head over heels before the heroine and Vaughn knows that Faith is his mate long before Faith accepts it.

PsyNet stuff is very convoluted and complicated but I made a conscious effort this time to read this stuff more slowly to try and really understand what was going on and I think it helped. I still found some things too confusing but the relationship between Faith and Vaughn was so overwhelmingly satisfying that I found myself not really caring about the PsyNet and it's weirdness. Or the murder mystery that was just a side plot.

Overall, I have to agree with CindyS and Rosario. It's a keeper.

GRADE: A-

Monday, June 11, 2007

Crappy rainy weekend


I'm getting sick of the usual June Seattle weather... a couple days in the 80s followed by a couple days in the 50s, 80s, 50s, 80s, 50s. Ad nauseum. No yard work for me this week end. Cold (50s) wet, and windy.

Bob and I went over to future son-in-law's house to help them replace the floor in their bathroom. They gutted it and bought a new vanity and light fixtures. Bob showed them how to lay the 4" ceramic tiles. He going over there tomorrow to see how they did with the grout. I'm hoping it's not a complete disaster but Bob has more confidence in them than I do.

I went with my girlfriend to see West Side Story at the 5th Avenue Theatre in downtown Seattle. I loved the music and dancing but I hated the story. Everyone gets killed off at the end. Yeah, I knew it was a tragedy (have seen the movie several times) but it still was not pleasant to watch. This is why I love romance... I need a HEA.

My girlfriend drove me crazy through the whole thing... she kept talking out loud and asking me what was going on!!!!! I was ready to strangle her. I tried whispering back but she never got the hint. I should have just shrugged. I have gone with her to several plays and musicals and she does this occasionally but this time she was worse than usual. She wants to see some more plays together in the coming months and I'm trying to figure out a way to get out of it without hurting her feelings.

I'm trying to finish my review of Vision of Heat by Nalini Singh by tomorrow. We'll see.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Romance Novel YouTube style

OMG, this one made me giggle like a hyena.

What's a Widget?

Well, I think I'm done for now. I updated the sidebar and it was surprisingly easy using the blogger widgets. Oops, I just realized I left off my weather pixie and stat counter. Okay, tomorrow, since I can't keep my eyes open ... yikes it's 12:30 AM.

If you find any broken links, let me know.

So what's a widget?... Well, here is a link to a screencast that demonstrates how to customize your blogger header. Ignore that part, but pay attention to how she uses the widgets to move elements around in her template (just by using drag and drop). The DISADVANTAGE to doing this is you have to covert to the new blogger template layout (with the widgets) and my old template was not compatible with the new template layout. So I had to find a new template... which is why you see this one. The ADVANTAGE to using it is that you don't have to go into the code to made tweaks and adjustments to put things into your blog or change fonts and colors. I know how to do some of the coding but it's tedious for someone like me who's not an expert.

I still haven't figured out how to make the navbar at the top reappear but I probably don't need it anyway. Maybe some of you expert HTML coders can give me a hint.

The new template looks better in Firefox than IE. If you are one of those using IE... what are you waiting for? I like Firefox much better. Especially the bookmarks tool bar with all my favorite links at the top of the page.

Next up: Review of Visions of Heat by Nalini Singh

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

'scuse the mess

Trying out new blogger templates.

Update: This was a free template I found somewhere. Still fiddling with it. I lost the nav bar at the top somehow and can't figure out how to get it back. I'm using the new blogger template widget and the navbar shows up there. But not on my blog page. Anyone know how to fix that? It will probably involve changing the template code. I love using the widget for previewing fonts, colors and layout but it probably isn't compatible with this template. Let me know if I need to tweek colors or fonts to make it more readable.

Dangerous Desires by Julia Templeton

COPYRIGHT: 2004
PAGES: 226
SETTING: Historical - Regency Era
TYPE: Erotica
SERIES: No
SENSUALITY Hot

REASON FOR READING: Read somewhere that this book is a very hot regency.

SUMMARY:[from the publisher]
Rochford Manor, outside London, 1810:

When her dying father entrusts her to the care of Dominic Santrell, one of London's most infamous rakes, Arlie Whitman is thrust into a world of elegance and privilege she had never imagined. But her initiation into society is nowhere near as frightening as the powerful desire she feels for Dominic himself. The dark and dashing earl claims that she needs a husband, but Arlie knows she needs only Dominic.

Dominic had vowed never to marry. In his experience, love was, at best, an evening's pleasure. Yet the parade of young men courting his ward is unbearable. Arlie's innocent beauty haunts his dreams. The passion they share cannot be denied...

But desire can be dangerous.
THOUGHTS / OPINION:
DD was my first book by Julia Templeton and I was very disappointed. She tells a story very well but there were numerous problems that just kept adding up until I was thoroughly disgusted with it. I had heard such good things about it too *sigh*. First strike against it was the age difference between the hero and heroine. DD is a ward/guardian story; she is 17 and he is 33! From the very first scenes Dominic's mental lusting for Arlie just gave me the creeps. Dominic is a rake determined never to marry so he sets out to launch her in society and find her a husband. He provides her with lessons in deportment, etiquette and a new wardrobe. But this was Regency England and no mention is made of a FEMALE chaperon. I never thought I was a stickler for historical accuracy but this just set off the alarm bells in my head. I have read hundreds of regency romances from Heyer to Balogh and this premise was not right. For a young female to live under the same roof with a non-relative bachelor would cause a huge scandal in London society but in DD society didn't blink an eye. There were other scenes that creeped me out too, like Arlie catching Dominic and his mistress together. And for a virgin, Arlie was way too knowledgeable about sex.

Gradually, Dominic's lust gets away from him and he seduces Arlie, they have lots of hot sex. Then he convinces her to becoming his mistress and he sets her up in a house. She sits around waiting for him to 'visit' her. She was a real doormat even allowing for her age. He's determined never to marry until the very end when he finds out she's pregnant (duh!) then he marries her. The End. I can't believe I finished it. Lots of hot sex scenes but I couldn't care less. Blech! Templeton's writing style has potential but I think that if she wants to write in the regency era she needs to do more research because there were numerous scenes that just didn't seem to fit the attitudes of the time. I'm not that picky about historical accuracy but this book just seemed way off and it pissed me off.

GRADE: D+

PS: What is wrong with those reviewers over at Amazon? Almost everyone gave it 5 stars. Except for Mrs. N. Burgess (Suffolk, England) who gave it 1 star:
Having bought and read this book, I wonder if my copy does not belong to some alternative reality. The previous reviewers have commented on historical aspects of the story and character developement. Well, the authors knowledge of english social history at the time (1810) is so bad as to be non-existant. For a start a single man would have instantly employed a chaperone when acquiring a female ward of marriagable age, and once an unmarried woman became a mistress she would not have been received in society, she certainly would not have become friends with a Peeress. On a plus point the book did make me laugh though that was probaly not the reaction looked for. If you want fluff, sort of Barbara Cartland with sex, this is for you, if you want history read something else.
Very funny. I wish I'd read this before I bought this piece of work.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Camping last weekend

Bob and I went camping in our RV over to Lake Wenatchee State Park last weekend in eastern Washington. It was beautiful there with giant evergreen trees and lots of privacy between campsites. There were a couple nature trails I dragged Bob around (the bum). He kept complaining about the mosquitoes. They didn't bother me at all and I didn't get any bites but they wouldn't leave him alone. The campground is about 20 miles from Leavenworth, so we drove over to visit the shops and eat lunch. It's a cute town with all the buildings in Bavarian architecture and a polka band playing in the town square. Very touristy and popular year 'round. The hanging baskets of flowers are fabulous. Our favorite place to eat is called The Soup Cellar where they serve the most wonderful soups (and sandwiches). I have pictures of the town but I'm too lazy to post them.

I've been rather depressed lately and I can't figure out why. Usually December and January are my bad months but I just feel so down. I cry at the weirdest times and I feel like I have this dark cloud following me around. I should probably go to the doctor to get a pill but I just can't because I know I will start bawling. I have this 'rule'.... I never cry in front of people. It embarrasses me. So there's no way I can go to the doctor until I have myself under control and can speak without bawling like a baby. I know, none of this makes sense but I feel better just writing it down.

I finished two books while camping: one I liked and one I didn't. Reviews to follow shortly.

Reading now: Promises Keep by Sarah McCarty. *fans self* Wow, I'm just in the first chapter and it's already very hot.