A big family, a reading addiction, and the occasional celebrity scandal are the ingredients of life that create one woman's opinion on just about everything.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

FURAN SAN - Or How I Discovered Ninja Art

The plan was to do a post to tell all the Gold Rush players not to come here any more. Yeah, that works. NOT!

Anyway, somehow in my browsing (how does this happen to me!) I was checking out to see if
Racy Li had made any progress with her web site. AngieW had posted this week asking us to nudge Racy to finish her site. I linked to it and thought it was a pretty cool site, so back I went today for a more thorough looky-looky. BTW, I'm intrigued BIG TIME about your WIP about the ninja. So hurry up Racy...would ya!

So, there I am at Racy's site and I decide to click over to her blog. While reading her back posts I come across one with a link to
Deviant Art and some really kick-ass cool ninja art by a young woman in Puerto Rico...Furan San. All I can say is Wow! I went through her whole gallery and really liked what I saw. In fact, I'll probably be trolling over frequently to see what she adds and what she's up to. The Nosy Nora coming out in me again.

(This part is boring background so you might want to jump ahead). I come from a big family. There were nine kids in all. Yeah, NINE. I was the oldest. Immediately following me in birth order are four boys. To say I was a tom-boy is an understatement. I competed really hard with my brothers until I got boobs. When I say I got boobs, I mean I got BOOBS! Those boobs ruined life as I knew it. I say those boobs because I eventually got a breast reduction...but I digress. That's a post for another day, or, better yet a visit to a therapist. I actually never thought much about this until recent years. The one thing I could still share with my two (closest in age) brothers after the boob explosion was comic books. Our family was stationed in Japan at the time and the three of us would wait expectantly each month for the comics to arrive at the Base Exchange. We would pool our money and go buy the most recent Spiderman, X-Men, Superman or Batman comics. I swear those were the roots of my romance reading. Tortured super hero, unrequited love. *sigh* I have lots of great memories tied up with comics.

So with this love of comics from my youth and Hollywood's venture in putting comic book heros on the big screen, my love of the super hero has sort of been reborn. I haven't actually purchased any comics yet, but I do indulge my sons' from time to time. You can't believe how many discussions a family of four can have about Batman, Wolverine and the Green Lantern.

Back to this morning when I clicked on that link in Racy's blog I was ripe, I was ready...I was fascinated! I really was. Furan San is very good. It sort of makes me want to check out manga. Anybody a manga fan out there? Where would I start? What would a total rookie pick up for the first time? Any recs? I'm very curious at this point. Help me!

Because, you know, what I need right now? Another hobby to feed! Here's one of my favorites from Furan San. Thanks for the link Racy...I really enjoyed this.

-Holy Order Frederick- by *furan-san on deviantART

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Friday, September 29, 2006

Everything but the kitchen sink...

John Mayer and Sheryl Crow were fabulous! They both performed great. One of my biggest peeves is when a performer sounds like crap live. I’ve gotten better as I’ve gotten older when listening to the music on CD how much of it’s “canned” and so know to not to expect much in a live performance.

Both of these performers are so reliant on their voices and the music itself. They also come across as very sincere in their performance and interaction with the audience. It must be true because the review in the LA Times this morning agreed with me! *G*

Sheryl looked great and performed mostly her hits which had the crowd standing and singing along. John’s show was a mixture of hits and stuff from his new CONTINUUM CD. I think he has been working on his singing because it seems like his voice range has increased. Of course, the big thing for my two sons is his guitar playing. I know I sound like his mother I’m gushing so much, but for 28 years old that young man is seriously talented.

I can’t help myself…I’m putting in another John Mayer song COME BACK TO BED. It's a fav of the guy I live with. What can I say? I’m on a JM high.

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The last book reviews I posted are from books I read about a week and a half ago. With the exception of HOT NIGHT which I reviewed from my new stash, I’m sort of in a reading funk. You know where nothing is connecting. Kind of like Kristie(J) was talking about recently. There are books I want to read in my TBR, but nothing grabbing me.

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I’m letting you all know that I’ll be posting another AOL Gold Rush blog…probably tomorrow. I’m in the process of letting AOL know to take me off their blog list because I have so many people coming to my blog looking for help with the game. Crikeys those college kids are bunching together in groups to solve the challenges and you can’t believe the traffic I’m getting. I’m imagining some engineering geek from MIT coming to my site for Gold Rush tips and a romance cover loading. Then again, some of those geeky guys should get a clue and read a romance. While most romance novels hardly reflect “real” life, they sure can give any guy an idea of what women want.

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Thursday, September 28, 2006

Some Other Books I've Read Lately

What a Gentleman Wants by Caroline Linden is Ms. Linden's second book. I bought this book after seeing this post on Kristie(J)'s site about publisher's promoting new authors by offering their books at a lower price. This book was only $4.99 new.

This is a British historical. I think it's the Regency period, but with no dates and few historical references, I'm not positive nor historically savvy enough to figure it out. Anyway the most important thing for me, again, is that I feel and believe the characters are behaving true to the time period.

Both Marcus Reece, Duke of Exeter and widow Hannah Prescott do that in WHAT A GENTLEMAN WANTS. They have been thrown together and married by proxy, and with no little trickery, by Marcus' twin brother David.

While I do have issues with how far and how long Marcus and Hannah stretch the true circumstances of their marriage, I was very involved in the emotional whirlwind each of them were caught in. Marcus has cut himself off from most feelings in order to function as he thinks a Duke must and Hannah is still recovering from her husband's death and the circumstances he left her and their daughter. This is a book with lots of sexual tension and longing. It is not overdone or stretched beyond what is either realistic or appropriate for the times. There is much more that could be explored to be sure, but I see so many possibilities in Ms. Linden's writing that I'm going looking for her first book
What a Woman Needs.

I'm the Vampire, That's Why by Michelle Bardsley . This is a contemporary vampire book. A small farming town is attacked by a beast who is turning its' residents into vampires right and left. I'm the Vampire is very similar in tone to Katie MacAlister's vamp books. Ms. Bardsley does have humor and wit to spare, however, where she misses in this book, IMO, is that while Katie MacAlister's vamp books make you believe that odd bits of magic, vampires running around, and a bit of the surreal has happened to perfectly regular folks, this book just makes those things seem silly. It was a little over the top for me. Even with the moments that made my eyes roll, I also laughed, so I'm inclined to give Ms. Bardsley another try.

As You Desire by Connie Brockway I scrounged this book up at my UBS just because it was on the 2004 AAR 100 Romances list. I've read Brockway in the past and couldn't remember reading this particular book.

The best part about the book is that it takes place in Egypt in 1890. The author's web site describes it this way:

In Victorian-era Egypt, wunderkind Desdemona and deliciously disreputable Harry try not to fall in love as they race for a hidden treasure.

I enjoyed the back drop of the story very much. Even so, the book was only an okay read for me. I thought the heroine, Desdemona Carlisle, needed a little too much rescuing. I would have liked to understand more about any conflicts or feelings she had about being a genius child prodigy. It was only briefly touched on and I thought would have added depth and dimension to Desdemona.

As for Harry Braxton and his big secret...I figured it out almost immediately. I think knowing what we do, as readers, about both of these characters that his fear of discovery by the woman he loves was a little hard to swallow especially since he knows (because she told him) how she feels about him.

This was an enjoyable read. Light and fluffy. Harry and Desdemona are likeable and have some witty exchanges that are entertaining. However, this isn't a book I would put in my top 100.

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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

I Have This Friend...

I've been thinking about her a lot lately. Which is ironic because I had this post already written and was waiting to publish it when I read this post by Holly. She in turn has a link to another post. We are all thinking about people from our past. People who were, or are, very important to us. Both Holly and Moment happen to be thinking about first loves...for me it is a very dear friend.

She is the very best sort of friend. She and I can email or talk on the phone no matter how long a break we've had and take up where we left off as though the previous conversation or email had just been moments before.

Of course, she isn't perfect. While she faithfully reads this blog every day, and there isn't another living sole close to me who can claim that, she never comments. She emails, she calls, but never posts a comment. (Geez! What a pain in the a$$ you are sometimes!!) Not that commenting on a blog is her worst fault, it's just one I can discuss in a public forum. *G*

As I was saying, I've been thinking about her alot lately. Feeling like I owe her an apology. An apology for all the times I've been in a conversation discussing closest or best friends and made some remark stating that I have had all sorts of friends throughout my life, but I've never have had that one "special" best friend.

Then a couple of days ago I was looking at my blog stats and saw the little flag in Minnesota that tells me each day that my friend has visited my blog. This little red flag that has been there every day when not another person in the world, including my husband, was reading my blog.

Honest to God it hit me like a ton of bricks. I couldn't believe how completely dumb I'd been. Of course I have that one, true special best friend! She's been there for me for more than 25 years no matter what. When my Mom died, when my brother died...she's been there. How could I be so clueless and unappreciative?

I have many friends that are very dear to me to be sure. Friends I've shared many wonderful times and moments with over the years...and there isn't one I can do without or would trade. But this friend is special to me. You know why? Because with the exception of my sisters and my husband she is the only person I'm completely my down and dirty to the bone self.

I absolutely adore her! I can't imagine my life without her. We've cried together, fought together and we always laugh together. I get her and she gets me. Even the icky parts that most other people don't like about us.

So, this is for you dear Steadman. I love you to bits. Forgive me for not saying your name proudly every time I've been in a conversation about best friends. Can you feel me thinking about you? I think it's time for a visit.

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Okay...it's Sheryl's turn!

I can't believe we are going to see both John Mayer and Sheryl Crow on the same night! I just didn't feel right only have JM's music posted. So here's a little Sheryl to keep things on the up and up. BTW, if you can be arsed and you link to JM's site he has a pretty cool blog. He links you to some interesting stuff...mostly music and musicians. I think it's so cool he's such a fan himself. Still trying to decide what to read next. Rachel Gibson new release? Lisa Kleypas re-read? Hmmmm.....

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Monday, September 25, 2006

What to do....What to do?

So I spent almost $150 at Borders last Friday. Yes, I blew my whole month's budget in one fell swoop. Sometimes when I think of what I'd have in savings if I didn't buy books...but that's a blog for another day. Now between the new purchases and the TBR I have probably 50 books to choose from. I just finished HEART MATE by Robin D. Owens but don't know whether to read another in that series (which would involve a purchase) or just choose something else. Zan Duncan from HOT NIGHT still has me aglow as well. I'm thinking I should go for something completely different to get me out of THAT head space.

For now I'm going to leave you with some
JOHN MAYER. We are going to see he and SHERYL CROW in concert this week. Can't wait. Take a listen while I ponder my next book choice.

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Sunday, September 24, 2006

HOT NIGHTS by Shannon McKenna

Here's the set up and blurb from the back cover of the book:

Gold. The most precious of metals. And someone would kill to get at the dazzling exhibit of priceless Spanish treasure Abby Maitland just landed for the museum. Too bad Zan Duncan had to show up to protect her, but someone’s waiting—and watching. She’s in the crosshairs and she doesn’t have a clue.

Abby is mesmerized by Zan’s untamed strength and his very sexual vibe. From the long dark hair, the thick, hard muscles, and the black leather jacket right on down to the honed fighting skills and the tattoos, Zan is everything a bad boy oughta be . . . and everything Abby has sworn to avoid. Yet he’s a master of subtle seduction, pushing her buttons with tantalizing promises of night after hot night of secret, endless pleasure. Promises that he keeps, to the letter . . .

But danger stalks them both, for a lethal game of deception, greed and murder is underway—a game more sinister than Abby and Zan ever imagined. And when no one can be trusted and no place is safe, passion may be the only thing that can save them . . .

Okay, I'm going to say it and just get it out of the way, I know that I shouldn't like Zan Duncan in HOT NIGHT by Shannon McKenna. In moments of intimacy he becomes, to quote Abby in the book, "Dominator Guy". No, not in a BDSM way, but in a very sexually aggressive way he is sort of dominate...no he IS dominant. But Abby likes it...ALOT. Turns out I did too.

In many ways Zan is just not politically correct. He screws up in his relationship with Abby over and over again and offers a lame "I'm sorry" just one too many times. Which to Abby's credit she calls him on and sends him packing. He deserves it too, even understands that he's screwed things up and probably deserves to be sent out of her life.

The thing is I really liked this story. The sexual tension between Abby and Zan is so thick I, for one, could hardly breathe a couple of times. From a real life perspective if a girlfriend told me about a guy like this I would probably tell her to run for her life. A wild card sort of guy rarely works out in real life. For all the "bad boys" friends and family have linked up with I can recall only one time it's worked out.

Fortunately, this is Romancelandia and for me, in this book, it just worked. I totally bought that Zan was a different type of lone wolf/bad boy. Yes, he makes mistakes, is obsessed with Abby and acts out inappropriately, but we are sympathetic to it because we know who the real bad guy is.

This is another story where I was intrigued by the characters' past and how it influenced who they are when we meet them. I was glad that Zan wasn't independently wealthy, or a CEO, but a working stiff ... a lock smith and computer consultant. I also really liked Abby defending her territory whether it was her apartment or her job. Even though we, and Zan, know she is vulnerable to him and his wily seductive ways.

In short I loved this book and couldn't put it down. That just hasn't been happening much lately. I was glad it was my off night from yoga, because once I started reading I didn't want to stop.

In general I'm a Shannon McKenna fan and I think she is getting better at bringing more character elements into her books. These elements are things that as readers we often think about but many authors rarely address. For instance, Abby's demand that Zan respect her, trust her and give a crap about her "professional dignity". We don't very often see a character worry about the fallout in her real life when she takes a leap or choice that to any right minded person seems a little nuts.

This is a Brava release, so it has very hot and erotic love scenes. I was in just the right mood and it was a captivating read...

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Saturday, September 23, 2006

Just Because


Friday, September 22, 2006

AOL Gold Rush - Trois

Honestly, I thought my Gold Rush blogging days were over. But, I just had to report about Round 2. The three finalists who are going to Seattle include a Mother and Son who teamed up. Now they are competing against each other in Seattle for the $100K. Pretty cool, yet freaky, huh?!!

For all of you GOLD RUSH travelers. I have to direct you to:

She is completely into the game and seems to have an awesome network going for herself. I hope to read about her being one of the finalists before it's all said and done. Check her site out for clues and help solving the challenges.

And now we return to our regularly scheduled programming. Promise!


A KISS TO DIE FOR by Claudia Dain

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A Kiss to Die For by Claudia Dain is another book I picked up from the AAR list. I'd read Ms. Dain in the past but had absolutely no memory of the experience. I checked and found Ms. Dain's TELL ME LIES on my keeper shelf and wondered why I didn't remember reading it and, since I kept the book, why I had no recollection of reading any others, or more importantly, why I apparently didn't glom any others.

This was even more puzzling after I had read A KISS TO DIE FOR. I really liked this book. It's a post Civil War western. I like reading about this period because it is such a tumultuous time in our history. Life in the United States post Civil War was a time when we redefined ourselves. The Civil War affected people of every strata of life in every part of our country. The winds of change were blowing whether or not the individual wanted them to or not. This makes for some wonderful conflict in books, so I was very interested in reading this and wondered how I'd missed it when it was released in 2003.

Here's a blurb from the author's web site:

A KILLER Women were dying. Pretty women, lonely women, women who gave their hearts to a man who promised happily ever after, but delivered death.

A STRANGER He steamed into Abilene on the locomotive, a loner with a legend attached to his name. Jack Skull claimed he was tracking a con man, a murderer, but Anne felt as if he was pursuing her.

A LOVER Though she'd sworn matrimony was not for her--it seemed to backfire for women in her family--somehow she found herself saying "I do." When Jack took her in his arms and lowered his lips to hers, reason flew out the window, and she could well believe his would be...

Jack Scullard, aka Jack Skull, is a former Texas Ranger turned bounty hunter. He has lots of baggage from his past, but Ms. Dain doesn't over play this and does well showing us how Jack has coped and made the best choices available to him. True to character and the time period, Jack understands what people think of him without feeling sorry for himself or bitter about it.

Anne lives with her mother, grandmother and aunt. It is Anne's habit to meet the train every day. Everyone in town knows this and expects it. Anne has a plan, a plan to leave on a train one day so she won't be left like the other women in her family have been. At least that is what she has in mind until she meets Jack one fateful morning while he is tossing a captured bounty on to the train platform.

The backdrop of the serial murders gives added suspense and tension that keeps you interested in the mystery without overwhelming the real story which is the unlikely pairing of Jack and Anne.

Maybe I'm just in a western frame of mind, but this book really captured my attention. I was moved by the individual past history of both these people. It was a story that was very accessible and one where the thoughts and feelings of the characters were easy to identify with. This is another book that successfully tells a story and keeps the characters within the context of the time period without relying on stereotype. I'd recommend it for anyone who enjoys a story with emotional depth about real people. It's a must read for anyone who likes westerns.

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Help Out a Struggling Musician!

I had a book review for you for today, but while blog hopping last night I found out about a contest at Alternative Press called Almost Famous. This is a sort of battle of the bands contest. A fellow romance reader and blogger Holly has a brother whose band is participating in the contest. The band's name is Larusso.

All you need to do is go to AP, take a second to register and vote for three bands with Larusso being number one of course. While you are there check out some of the other band sites and listen to their music to cast your other two votes. My son, who already knew about the contest, cast one of his votes for
Endless Hallway. For more information go to Holly's site and read her post. C'mon the links are right here for you...click and vote. Besides being fun, you'll be hearing some up and coming new bands.

I figure one good turn deserves another. My brother and the AOL Gold Rush game one day...Holly's brother and battle of the bands another day! You gotta love the 'net!

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

AOL Gold Rush - Part Deux

Okay I made a shameless appeal to you a couple of days ago to go check out the AOL Gold Rush game. Well, it's the second week so we are on to Round 2. Even though I can't win anything, my brother and I play the game for fun. They even have the lucky guy who won $100,000 for Round 1 posted on the site now. The game continues until the first week of October when somebody (not me!!) is going to win a million dollars.

But I digress, that's not why I'm writing this post. Last night I was checking my stats and much to my surprise there were several people who visited me to read the AOL Gold Rush post. So, of course, I then had to see where these people came from and how they found me.

It turns out there is an actual
web site for blogs about the AOL Gold Rush game. What? Huh? As my 8 year old nephew C. J. says, "Believe it!" The comedienne, Kathy Griffin, is the official blogger for the game, but I'm listed second. Isn't that a hoot? I wonder if people are coming here thinking I have game tips or something. That's scary. Just think of someone linking here for game tips and finding a romance novel review. Call me crazy, but that's too funny.

Hey, if you are a person playing the Gold Rush game, and you are looking for help...go to my profile and you'll find my email addy. Drop me a line and I'll do my best to help you out 'cause, *sigh* I can't win!

**UPDATE** Gold Rush fans, here's somebody who is keeping track of the game with tips and clues. Go check out MY GOLD RUSH JOURNEY.


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

PALE IMMORTAL by Anne Frasier

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Pale Immortal by Anne Frasier (aka Theresa Weir)

This review is a toughie. Let me start by saying I'm a huge Theresa Weir fan, so I had expectations before I ever opened the book. I was looking for a similar voice and tone that I had come to expect from Ms. Weir's books. That wasn't the case. In fact, I don't believe I would characterize this book as a romance at all.

Here's a blurb from the author's website:

Welcome to Tuonela, a sleepy Wisconsin town haunted by events of 100 years ago, when a man who may have been a vampire slaughtered the town's citizens and drank their blood. Now, another murderer is killing the most vulnerable...and draining their bodies of blood.

Evan Stroud lives in darkness. The pale prisoner of a strange disease that prevents him from ever seeing the light of day, he lives in tragic solitude, taunted for being a "vampire." When troubled teenager Graham Stroud appears on Evan's doorstep, claiming to be his long-lost son, Evan's uneasy solitude is shattered.

Having escaped Tuonela's mysterious pull for several years, Rachel Burton is now back in town, filling in as coroner. Even as she seeks to identify the killer, and uncover the source of the evil that seems to pervade the town, she is drawn to Evan by a power she's helpless to understand or resist....

As Graham is pulled deeper and deeper into Tuonela's depraved, vampire-obsessed underworld, Rachel and Evan team up to save him. But the force they are fighting is both powerful and elusive...and willing to take them to the very mouth of hell.

Back to my expectations...with childhood friend Rachel Burton, back in town as Medical Examiner, I thought there would be more developments in the relationship between she and Evan...romantic ones. And, I have to say Evan's character certainly has lots of fodder for a different sort of dark and misunderstood protagonist. But I was disappointed this wasn't explored more and the characters while interested in one another appear to be disinclined to take too close a look at how they feel for one another. Aargh!!

Anyway my problem with PALE IMMORTAL is that while it is a well written book and had characters I was interested in and liked, I kept wondering why these people were hanging around this horrible town? While I can understand Rachel returning because her mother was sick, I just didn't buy her leaving a successful and interesting job in LA to return to weirdsville Tuonela. The town(s), for there are two Tuonelas, are actually like an additional character in the book. A character we don't understand and has many more mysteries than what we see on the surface.

While there were elements here that could certainly keep you guessing, I didn't have any problem solving the mystery by about a third of the book in. Evan and Rachel are supposed to be pretty smart people and I got irritated with them overlooking the obvious. I did very much enjoy Graham Stroud and his internal dialogue. I thought Ms. Weir did a great job with him.

This isn't a book to read if you are looking for a traditional HEA, and maybe that's what's bugging me. I haven't decided whether or not I'll read the next book in this series. However, I am nothing if not curious so I suppose nosy Nora that I am will have to check it out.

BTW, the link on Theresa Weir's name is to her back list of books and if you can lay your hands on them they are all pretty damn good. AMAZON LILY is a revered favorite on my keeper shelf.

I told you at the beginning this was a toughie. I can't really decide if I liked this book or not.

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Monday, September 18, 2006

DARK CELEBRATION by Christine Feehan

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Dark Celebration by Christine Feehan

I still faithfully buy all Ms. Feehan's new releases. This time I plunked out for a hard cover that I was fairly certain I wasn't going to like very much. Let me just say...I should have listened to myself. I'm such a sucker because I'm always thinking I'm going to miss that really great book.

I loved, loved, loved the Carpathians back when I first started reading the books. I had never read anything quite like them. Dark and tortured two of my favorite things...I devoured every one of them I could lay my hands on. This book is not in that league at all.

In fact, that dark and tortured hero is my main problem with DARK CELEBRATION. It's just plain hard to swallow with all that is supposedly going on with the Carpathian race, i.e. being almost extinct, all the ancient warriors scattered around the world, vampire and mage joining against them, the evil Council still after them and their inability to procreate that the Prince would gather everyone together in one place for a Christmas celebration. Besides, isn't there any traditional holidays or customs of the Carpathians that they would be more likely to have a gathering for? And, why with so many enemies would they all gather in one place?

Anyway, the celebration gives a reason for all the couples from the previous books to make an appearance. Prince Mikhail reintroduces each couple by paying a visit to each of them before the gathering. Each couple is preparing a part of the Christmas celebration meal.

Carpathains don't eat. They feed on blood. So why are they cooking? I get that food is needed at the celebration for their human guests, friends, etc. But why can't they just zap the food? What is the point of them having to actually prepare it? I believe Ms. Feehan was trying to humanize her characters and provide some humor as well, but it just didn't work for me.

When Mikhail visited each couple I kept wondering why he couldn't just check in and communicate with everyone by using the Carpathaian telepathic pipeline? The visits just seemed so lame and the transitions between each of them were rough. To my mind the Carpathians are taken completely out of the context and character Ms. Feehan previously created in their individual stories.

As you can see, alot of things about this book bugged me. However, I'm sure if you are a lover of all things Carpathian you will have to add this book to your collection. I can only suggest you wait for the paperback. You aren't missing anything...honest!

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Sunday, September 17, 2006

Homecoming 2006

Here they are...my two boys and their girlfriends all set for Homecoming 2006. Thanks be to God they are both dating very nice young women!! Any Mom's worst fear is that some evil wench sinks her claws into her boy and all the hard work of trying to raise a decent man will be for naught. However, the guy I live with (TGILW) and I are both pretty optimistic at this point that we've done a few things right because these young ladies are wonderful.

Of course we are still reeling from having them both in suits at the same time. Probably won't happen again until one of them gets married.

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Saturday, September 16, 2006

The AOL Gold Rush Game and Shameless Appeal for your Support

My brother works for AOL. Their latest big advertising campaign is AOL's Gold Rush Game.

Now personally, I don't really give a flying leap whether or not this is a successful promotion for AOL, but I do care if it's successful for my brother. That's what big sisters are for...cheering on little brothers.

So I'm going to shamelessly promote this game and ask you to link over there. After all you could win some really great prizes...me I can't win...my brother works there, but YOU...you can win. So it would be really great if you clicked over to the Gold Rush page and whether or not you want to play you might click on the T-Mobile advert. That would be really cool. Oh, and if you decide to play Round 1...I have the answers to all the clues. Just email me if you need help. Round 2 starts on Monday.

BTW, the game is all based on your knowledge of pop culture. Round 1 went fairly quickly and I think I completed all the levels but the last one in about a half hour.

Okay Chris...what more can I do, Dude!


Friday, September 15, 2006


I'm so used to blogging every day that when I realize it is Friday and I haven't posted since Wednesday I sort of startle myself. Weird, huh? Especially since I've only been doing this for a year that I would miss it in just a couple of days.

Of course my absence posting doesn't mean I'm not blog hopping when I do get on the computer. I usually check emails a couple of times a day. You do that when you have a family as large as the combined group of TGILW and I.

I'll be back tomorrow. TGILW is off on Fridays and Saturdays now so that sort of messes with the Friday schedule big time. Also, my boys are both going to Homecoming and are double dating so I hope to have pictures to post of that. It's a first, and probably only, since number one son is graduated and just happens to be dating a senior in high school. Of course number two has just turned 16 and still has a permit, so he's thrilled his brother is driving them and not his parents. So everyone is happy.

More later...

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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Discerning Reader or Jaded Jezebel?

I bought my first Ellora's Cave book back in February 2003. I remember that rush and thrill of buying a naughty book online. With the exception of the guy I live with I didn't tell any one. Of course, I was hooked. It wasn't long before I found other online erotic book stores and tested them all with purchases. I even found independent writers who were selling their books on their individual websites. I was the proverbial kid in a candy store.

In that time I've seen the erotic romance genre grow. There are innumerable sites out there now...lots of books to chose from and the naughty books finally made it into print in a big way. I can even buy them at the local book store.

These edgier romances with more explicit language and sex were thrilling for me and frankly quite liberating. Much like the Whitman's sampler of chocolates there was a wide range of romantic erotic literature out there and I was too curious not to sample all sorts of bits. Like the chocolates, some were devoured and had me wishing for just one more bite. Some were poked or nibbled and put back in the box.

I used to know what day each line released its new books and anxiously looked forward to see what came out. Now, three and a half years later I visited all my favorite online sites this week and pretty much rolled my eyes at the releases.

Is it me or is there just a glut of same old, same old? Beyond that do you find we've moved into the ridiculous with some plots? I often feel this way with print books as well. Every once in a while the publishing world seems to go through a particularly intense period of trying to capitalize on the popularity of one genre. The result being too many books, not very well written, on a worn out theme. Worse when a publisher thinks the readers are too stupid to realize what is happening. There are so many books out there, why do we readers keep buying books we are pretty sure we aren't going to like? I know I do...probably half my book purchases any more are books I'm hoping will be better than I believe they will be. Sad, but true.

Recently my sanity has been saved by an almost exclusive return to print romance. I can't remember when I've had so many good reads in a short period of time as I have the last two months. Very satisfying.

However, after taking a look at the EC releases today I wondered who had changed more? Is it me? Am I a more discerning reader or a more jaded one? Are my favorite online erotic romance bookstores just starved for new writers with many of the most popular authors now writing for print?

What's it been like for you? Oh, and if you have any recs, please don't hesitate to share.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006


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I'm finally doing my review of SLAVE TO SENSATION by Nalini Singh. I was determined to write about this book after participating in the blogging experiment. Hopefully I'm not giving the impression it is an ordeal to talk about this book, but after a few days and moving on to another book I lose my fresh perspective and reaction. Which incidentally is why I don't review more books. At any rate, I made myself sit down to do this review before I got too far from the reading experience.

Let me say from the get-go that I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I especially liked being so much inside the head of Sascha Duncan. If you've ever had to maintain a facade or appearances when something entirely different was going on in your head and heart then you have a feeling for how Sascha Duncan has lived her whole life. I've had to do this on a much smaller scale working with the public for many years, and the reality of it is challenging and extremely draining. So I identified with that aspect of the book right away.

Here's the book description from Amazon:

Book Description

Nalini Singh dives into a world torn apart by a powerful race with phenomenal powers of the mind-and none of the heart.

Born a Psy, Sascha Duncan must hide the emotions which mark her as flawed. But a passionate Changeling will tempt her to reveal everything-and risk her very soul.

There is plenty to sink your teeth into with Lucas Hunter. He is all one could ask for in an alpha male. In fact he is alpha of the Changeling leopard clan. He is intelligent, tough, ruthless, relentless and fascintated by Psy Sascha Duncan.

In one of the reader reviews I checked out while researching this book the reviewer mentioned STS was in the strong tradition of some of romance's long-time favorite authors like Krentz/Castle, Lowell, and Howard. I would have to agree. That opinion was certainly what I was thinking when I read Ms. Singh's back list of Silhouette Desire books.

There is plenty of conflict and just enough mystery to make it interesting. I was much more intrigued with the PsyNet and how it binds all the Psy together and how they rely on it to actually live. It becomes one of the obstacles for Lucas and Sascha to overcome. The world created by Ms. Singh was more interesting to me than finding out who was the serial killer of the Changeling women.

All in all this was an enjoyable reading experience. I will definitely be looking for Ms. Singh's next book VISIONS OF HEAT due out in May 2007.

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Monday, September 11, 2006

I Remember

It somehow doesn't seem right, at least for me, to write a blog today without remembering the tragedy that occurred five years ago. I couldn't begin to articulate all the feelings and emotions I had then, or those I have today.

So I'm going to follow the lead from SB Sarah at Smart Bitches and just remember, in my own way, and be grateful.

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Saturday, September 09, 2006

Making Lemonade...

You know the saying when you get lemons make lemonade? Well, this woman has gone beyond that. I give her lots of credit. She doesn't say anything about the lying, cheating putz she was going to marry. I'd have given him the Lorena Bobbit special myself. Also, being the nosy Nora that I am...how did the other boyfriend find her? Hmmm...mutual friends? What?

If any of you know any more about this. Dish it! I'm curious. Hope she had one hell of a good party and I'm just wondering...how do you have a vacation fling with your Mom along? : )

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Thursday, September 07, 2006


I'm coming out of reader mode to let you know I just finished reading this book, LOVER AWAKENED by J. R. Ward.

I had intended my next blog to be about
Nalini Singh's book, SLAVE TO SENSATION, but when I finished reading LOVER AWAKENED I found I just had to comment on it. I've really enjoyed this series so far. Often times when you get to the third book in a multi-book series the umbrella story and plot line can run a bit thin. Even if you have a substantial central love story sometimes the main theme just doesn't hold up or hold the reader's interest. With this third installment of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, I found myself even further immersed in the world Ms. Ward has created. What I liked the most was the depth and detail of the characters and the world they inhabit. The pages flew by.

I'm a fan of the tortured hero and I know not everyone is. The Black Dagger Brotherhood is full of tortured heros. Each warrior has his own cross to bear. Zsadist certainly is one of the more gruesome and cruel. Ms. Ward takes pains in the previous novels, and in the beginning of this one, to let us know that this guy is no cream puff. Here's the summary from the author's web site:

A former blood slave, the vampire Zsadist still bears the scars from a past filled with suffering and humiliation. Renowned for his unquenchable fury and sinister deeds, he is a savage feared by humans and vampires alike. Anger is his only companion, and terror is his only passion—until he rescues a beautiful aristocrat from the evil Lessening Society.

Bella is instantly entranced by the seething power Zsadist possesses. But even as their desire for one another begins to overtake them both, Zsadist’s thirst for vengeance against Bella’s tormentors drives him to the brink of madness. Now, Bella must help her lover overcome the wounds of his tortured past, and find a future with her…

My enthusiasm for the book spilled over into a conversation with the guy I live with last night. We had a discussion about redemption. Certainly I know this book is a work of fiction, but it made me think about deep wounds and pain people suffer from every day. People we know. People we love. Change is hard...very hard. For one to be redeemed one must first believe they are deserving of redemption. Change, redemption, forgiveness. If one little romance novel can make me think about and talk about stuff like that...well, I think it makes it worth reading.

Update: I just read a great review with some added insights and comments about this book at Paperback Reader. Go check it out.

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Books...Books...and more Books!!!

Yesterday was a great book day. You know one of those days where you find just what you are looking for? No, I didn’t get every book I was in hot pursuit to find, after all some of them are out of print, but I did come away with an exciting stack of books to read. I will go so far as to say I can’t remember when I’ve had this many books I was anxious to read all at once. Imagine the excitement of trying to decide what to read first. Ahhhh….reader bliss!!

For those of you who know me and that there is a significant stash already in my TBR, just understand that I HAD to buy these books…I had to!

Yesterday’s venture was two-fold. One was to purchase several new releases that I’d been hearing about and/or anticipating. Secondly, I wanted to try and pick up a couple books from the AAR 100 list. Books I hadn’t read but that had a good chance of being a good read.

So here’s my treasure trove of books from yesterday:

New Releases
PALE IMMORTAL (Anne Frasier)

From UBS
AS YOU DESIRE (Connie Brockway)
BRIDAL FAVORS (Connie Brockway)
A KISS TO DIE FOR (Claudia Dain)

Since I participated in the Dear Author blogging experiment, it’s my intention to post about SLAVE TO SENSATION which is Ms. Singh’s first single title release. However, I'm a big fan of Ms. Ward's, so I'm reading her book first.

So, if I’m MIA the next few days, you will know why. What with the walking, the yoga, the reading…oh yeah and the pesky things like cooking, cleaning and laundry, I don’t know where I’ll find time to post. How did I ever find time for a job?


Monday, September 04, 2006

So, I read some books...

I've read a bunch of books lately. Normally I don't mention a book here unless it makes an impression on me one way or the other. But I had the books stacked up to add to my spreadsheet and thought what the hell, let's see if I can give a brief review of the books. Of course this lead to all sorts of conflict for me. But screw it. No worries about linkage, authors, or book covers. Here's the low down on my latest reads.

TO HAVE AND TO HOLD by Patricia Gaffney - Good book. Surprised me...and I'm a jaded reader.

EDGE OF DANGER by Cherry Adair - Was sufficiently hooked to want to continue trilogy.

EDGE OF FEAR by Cherry Adair - Paranormal elements begin to be a little thin, but I'm hooked.

EDGE OF DARKNESS by Cherry Adair - Went too far with magic elements. Disappointed.

MURPHY'S LAW by Lori Foster - Anticipated story of secondary characters form JUDE'S LAW and I was disappointed. Still a fan, but this was not Ms. Foster's best effort. I thought it was a waste of some terrific characters.

TOO WICKED TO WED by Cheryl Holt - I don't know why I keep buying her books. I didn't finish the last two. I expected nothing and was surprised. Language rhythm and syntax bugged me.

DARK DREAMERS Anthology by Christine Feehan & Marjorie M. Liu - Ms. Feehan's story was tried and true Carpathians...boring. Ms Liu's story was moving, intriguing and I wanted more. IMO Ms. Liu's book makes it worthwhile purchase.

THE SOUTHERN DEVIL by Diane Whiteside - Not as good as IRISH DEVIL, but better than RIVER DEVIL. How's that for vague? Only an okay read.

A REASON TO LIVE by Maureen McKade - A rec by Wendy Super Librarian. Wendy's review(Aug 29 2006) is awesome use link on my sidebar and go check it out. This was a great book. I highly recommend it.

ZERO TO SEXY (EC e-book) by Jan Springer - Just not a good book. I've got other Springer books, but while this is a quickie...it has no substance at all.

HAWK'S PREY (EC e-book) by Dawn Ryder - Okay. Liked enough to try another book. I'm looking for more character development.

IMPROPER PURSUITS (EC e-book) by Dawn Ryder - All dessert and no main course.

So all in all I really liked A REASON TO LIVE by Maureen McKade. I very enthusiastically recommend this book. TO HAVE AND TO HOLD by Patricia Gaffney is a gem to read. I'm very intrigued by the Majorie Liu story in the DARK DREAMER anthology I can't wait for her to write the secondary character's stories. Once I read the first EDGE book in Cherry Adair's trilogy, I was sufficiently intrigued that I knew I'd read all three. Like Ms. Foster's book MURPHY'S LAW, I think there was a missed opportunity here. While having the books come out in three successive months is great for the reader, maybe taking longer with the plot development particularly in the third book would have been better.

Whew! I did it...I feel so much better. Was it good for you?

P.S. I went back and put Amazon links in for books.

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Sunday, September 03, 2006

How I Started Reading Romance Novels

While visiting my grandparents one summer when I was 13 years old, I found a copy of Saliee O'Brien's FAREWELL THE STRANGER in my grandparent's basement. Holy crap!! Not only did it have sex, it had betrayal, murder, mayhem a hunky frontiersman and a stalwart, brave heroine. Of course, I LOVED the book. I had read my first romance novel.

My trip down memory lane and recollection of how I started reading romance was sparked by a post at
SMART BITCHES. Apparently there was a "Dear Abby" letter asking whether it was appropriate for a 14 year old to read romance novels. My initial reaction while reading the post was something like "Hmmm...14 seems kind of young to start reading romance". Then I remembered FAREWELL THE STRANGER. It took me a few minutes to figure out how old I was at the time. It's been that long, but I was sort of surprised to realize I was only 13 years old. So on reflection I commented that I don't censor my sons (16 & 19) and never have but I did always know what they were reading, watching and listening to and that I thought that was important. To talk about things with your kids.

Anyway, the shocking part about my personal reading experience at 13 wasn't so much the content of the book. It was the realization that it was in my grandparent's basement. I just couldn't wrap my mind around the idea that since the book was in the basement some adult I knew must have purchased the book to read it. But who? My ultra conservative and traditional Italian Catholic grandmother? My mother? One of my aunts? I sure couldn't picture my grandfather reading it. So at an awkward and hormonal age I began to look at the adults in my life in a new light. Sexual beings. Holy sh*t! Yeah, it's enough to almost put you off sex forever. I sure couldn't relate my parents or grandparents to the characters in the book...so I didn't. Which was better for all of us.

So I drag the book upstairs. I read the book openly. I wasn't trying to hide anything. When I picked FTS up I didn't know there was going to be sex in it. You can see from the photo above that the cover is pretty innocuous. Nothing to suggest anything sexy was going to happen between the pages. To their credit the adults in my life all thought reading itself was a great past time. None of them were avid readers, but thought it was terrific that I liked to read. Consequently, this means there was no censorship. Certainly no one asked me about the book or its contents.

I feel pretty lucky about that now. It's not what I've done with my kids. But I'm glad no one stopped me or questioned me about what I was reading. It gave me a sense of autonomy and independence. FAREWELL THE STRANGER became my first keeper. I still have it 28 years later. Which, incidentally, is how I realized no one had actually read the book. My grandparents allowed me to keep it and never once questioned my reading it. No way they would've done that if either of them had read the book.

As it turns out, the book was part of a book club my grandparents subscribed to in the late 50's and early 60's. They received several books they never read. I also got THE SCARLET LETTER by Nathaniel Hawthorne from that basement cache. That was pretty racy too. Adultery, shame, pride and a single woman's courage not to be cowed by her community. Hester suffered for her choices, but she stood up for herself and her beliefs. Pretty heady stuff for a 13 year old.

Much better than my reading experience the year before with Harold Robbins' THE CARPETBAGGERS. That book was an education let me tell you. I ended up looking up words in the dictionary that I thought were salacious and provocative. Words like larynx which I thought was another word for a woman's vagina. What can I say? I was 12. In my defense the word was in a sentence after one of the characters finds the carnage of a raid on his village and he is looking at his dead sister who had been raped. A crushed larynx...I thought it had to do with the sex bits. Imagine my surprise to find it was her throat!

Shortly following that summer, my Mom had a friend at work that was an avid reader. I was trying to find books in the library in the adult fiction section. No more kid books for me. Anyway Mom's friend read gothics, Holt, Whitney, Plaidy, Stewart. The friend (it's killing me right now because I can't remember her name!!) often had duplicates and books she didn't want and gave them to my Mom for me. A romance reader was born. Those gothics lead to my love of historicals and regencies. In my twenties I discovered Woodiwiss. I couldn't catch my breath reading SHANNA. Sex in a carriage? Wow!!

Romance reading is such a part of my life that my boys are named for romance heros. Cole after Cole Latimer in ASHES IN THE WIND by Kathleen Woodiwiss and Clayton after the Duke of Claymore in WHITNEY MY LOVE by Judith McNaught. They each have a page in their scrapbooks with the cover of the books and the story of how they got their names. They loved (not) sharing that information in second grade when you tell the class "How I got my name". They think it's funny now and are totally used to my love of reading...romance novels in particular. But when you are 8 and have to explain that your Mom got your name from a book and not your great grandfather...not so much.

My reading has gotten me through many tough times. I could escape into a book when work sucked, my Mom was sick, my brother was dying, and my kids were driving me crazy. It has provided an outlet and a respite when I dearly needed one. I can't imagine my life without reading and it just wouldn't be the same without...romance.

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Friday, September 01, 2006

Katrina - One Year Later

I just finished watching the Spike Lee documentary WHEN THE LEVEES BROKE: A REQUIEM IN FOUR ACTS on HBO about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

While I can honestly say I have thought about New Orleans from time to time over the past year, and read articles on the bureaucratic nightmare for the survivors, I did believe real progress was being made to rebuild. As of June 2006 when Spike Lee last filmed, the 9th Ward in NO still had rubble in the streets and condemned houses that had not been removed. It looked like the hurricane had happened yesterday. The repairs and rebuilding of the levees wasn't complete with the start of hurricane season upon them. They were still finding dead bodies in abandoned houses that had been marked as being checked and cleared. The people aren't coming back...there is nothing for them to return to--no houses, no schools, no jobs. It is a travesty and a true American tragedy.

It was depressing to be sure, but it is another one of those situations that I believe the least we can do for our fellow citizens is watch the documentary and get informed about conditions in Louisiana. There is no excuse for ignorance and the American public should get a grip on what's happening down there. If it can happen there, it can happen any where.

I wish them well in pursuit of a percentage of gas and oil profits from the off shore drilling in their suit against the federal government. Other states get a share of the profits from their gas and oil leases, Louisiana deserves theirs.

My thoughts and prayers go out to all the people of the Gulf Coast, New Orleans in particular, as hurricane season gets into full swing.

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