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.

Monday, April 27, 2009

To be or not to be...THAT IS the question.

Let's just hit the high points shall we?

1. Nope not dead in a ditch. Or sick. My back is still creaking and giving me some fits, but I'm mostly my regular self.

2. I've been reading like there's no tomorrow. I can't remember the last time I cranked out 5 or more books in a week, but I did this past week. I read all 4 of the Mercy Thompson books by Patricia Briggs AND her Alpha/Omega (related) book CRY WOLF. Yesterday, I finished TO BEGUILE A BEAST by Elizabeth Hoyt. Let me just say I was very, very glad I had the Briggs books in my tbr to glom. Also, if you are a fan of Ms. Hoyt, this new book is a great addition to her soldiers series.

3. Apparently when I'm reading I can't write or blog hop. Sorry about that. I was mesmerized. I also expected things to be a bit easier at work this past week and they weren't. No hugs or words of sympathy needed. I'm fine, but the reading was a welcome escape and once I got home facing a computer screen was one of the last things I wanted to do.

4. For the second time in recent history I will probably be deleting posts from my google reader... not because I don't love you and all the places I visit, but my obsessive compulsive self can't possibly deal with the 597 posts that have accumulated the last time I was brave enough to check them.

5. In the process of going shopping with Shmoo to spend his birthday gift of cash on some new clothes he wanted I found a fabulous pair of shoes for walking in DC. I also took advantage of a killer sale in Macy's and bought a new handbag for the trip as well. Hey it may not seem like much, but my feet and my purse are serious business. I'm ecstatic at this point. As for clothes? Well if you are in DC and you were in SF last year expect to see a lot of the same stuff. Just sayin'.

So let's sum up...

Not dead in a ditch. Reading lots. Behind with blogging and blog hopping. Have new shoes and purse for DC. No blogging or blog hopping.

I figure it's all good. There's certainly lots of room for improvement.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

When your care to send the very best...

***Dear Kelley, On behalf of the wounded soldiers here at Walter Reed and Abrams Hall. Thank you. We received the packages and most of the stuff was immediately passed out to as many soldiers as possible. Generally we open them and set them in a common area for all the wounded soldiers to take what they need. The stuffed animals were a huge hit. They went the fastest, and the candy and slinky's were also. The toothbrushes and personal items are always needed. I would like to describe the process from Battlefield to Walter Reed. In my case I was medivac'd to Balad, Iraq. I was there for 2 days, and then to Landstuhl, Germany for a more in depth evaluation which took about a week. Finally I was flown to Walter Reed. Usually, all your belongings remain behind in Iraq or Afghanistan. That is why these care packages are very welcome. I came here with the set of clothes I was injured in and no personal items. The Red cross issues some personal items, but they don't last. The whole ordeal is very depressing because you are bounced around amongst strangers and the whole time you are thinking ( I hope my friends in Iraq are safe. ) It is very difficult to be here and your friends still there. It is very lonely here and these care packages are lifesavers. It at least makes us feel that someone, somewhere cares about us. So, from the bottom of my heart and the hearts of those around me Thank you. ***

This is a letter I stole from the ROAD WARRIORS blog that was found on Face Book. The soldiers very much appreciate our help. You can donate directly to WWP by going here. Or, on that same page donate for a back pack filled with essentials which costs $99. Or, you can go to the ROAD WARRIORS donation page for WWP and support them in their run to raise awareness and money for WWP on May 9th.

Another cause near and dear to my heart, EQUALITY NOW has a Mother's Day fund raiser. What could be better than helping world-wide womens' rights AND eating chocolate? It's an easy way to help.

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Well I Suck...

I was just tidying things up a bit around my blog and noticed I hadn't responded to comments in *clears throat* over a week. Sorry about that. I went back on the last four posts and answered everyone.


Reading Binge

I'm captivated by Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs. Will be back when I come up for air.

Great weekend with my sister and the Stair Steps. Always chaotic and fun. GG and Shmoo had a great time camping. GG had a run in with a tree branch...

Do brown eggs come from brown chickens? Do white eggs come from white chickens? My sister, WarriorM, sez they do. S'rsly?

Sure I could look it up on google, but that would be easy.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The faster I go...

...the behinder I get.

My sister is coming with the stair steps. She'll be here until Saturday, and in between I'm working and walking and swimming... you get the drift.

Once again my participation in these here parts will be scattered. I might not make my TBR Challenge this month. Bummer that.

Tomorrow is Shmoo's 19th birthday. He's celebrating by going camping with his Dad for a couple of days. Yes, that does mean what you think. I'm home alone with my sister where we can talk books to our hearts content.

Yep, no more pity party...

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I'm okay. Are you okay?

Were you wondering where I disappeared to? I hadn't intended to sort of vanish like that but the holiday weekend sort of obliterated all my free time and I use the weekends to try to get a jump start on my blogging week. So didn't happen this weekend. I have, however, declared a moratorium on my cooking. No more cooking in April.

Easter was great. It started on Saturday with GG and I doing the Bunny Walk/Run. GG ran the 10K and I walked 5K with friends from work. It was a cold a blustery day, but the time and the 3 miles slide by quickly when you are walking and talking with friends.

In the afternoon we went to my brother's house for fried turkey and ham. I made appetizers and my cheddar cheese onion bread. That made for a full day and I was pretty tired when we got home. Beanie came home with his girlfriend late Saturday night. That's always fun. Bean still loves his job at Disneyland and always brings so much energy into the house.

On Sunday I made some homemade bruschetta and this stuff...

It's called Insalata Caprese. We just call it good eats. Fresh mozzarella, basil and plum tomatoes with some ground pepper and balsamic vinaigrette on top of a baguette or cracker. It's very yummy for your tummy. Anyway, we had a great conversation over appetizers and were almost too full to eat, so we waited a while. More and more we find ourselves getting away from the more traditional meals for holidays. This time we opted for steak and chicken breast with green beans, my parmesan potatoes and salad. It was just right for us. It would have been nice if Shmoo's GF could have joined us but she was with her own family celebrating.

I have been doing some reading too. I really enjoyed the second SEAL book SEALED WITH A PROMISE by Mary Margret Daughtridge. It's a stand alone, but once you read it you'll probably want to read the first one SEALED WITH A KISS. On impulse I also picked up EDGE OF HUNGER by Rhyannon Byrd. It's the first book in a new series by Ms. Byrd called Primal Instinct.

A visit to category books had me reading the SSE April release of THE BRAVO BACHELOR by Christine Rimmer. It was pretty good too. I always forget what a quick read those books are.

The last couple of days I've had some issues with my back again. Who knows why I'm having these flare ups. I vacillate between anger and moping. I'd send invites, but really, who wants to RSVP a pity party?

It will probably take me a week or so to get back in the swing of things. Until then, let me know what all of you have been up to. How was your Easter weekend? What have you been reading?

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Thursday, April 09, 2009

Breathing, Lifetime, and Easter

My brain is foggy. It is chock full of a lot of incredible information about how to build a database. Maybe this is old hat to many of you, but after muddling my way through a crooked database built by someone else for over a year, I wanted to finally know what I was doing. An opportunity arose to take a 2-day class and I jumped on it. There are just so many possibilities with this new information. That's the silver lining. The side effects are the foggy head with too many bits of information to process.

Going into work tomorrow will actually feel like a vacation.

For me the best release (reward) is usually to either eat something I'm really going to regret... OR, I can get to work and actually put some of the education to use. Our friendly Mr. Goodbar won out yesterday. But not today. Today I came straight home and was all by myself. After a few quick chores I settled myself in front of the BATV and watched the Lifetime movie of Nora Roberts' HIGH NOON. You may remember how much I loved this book when I read it. Consequently I couldn't ignore the movie. I had to at least check it out.

Let me say that while Duncan wasn't as nearly as interesting and compelling as he is in the book, the actor who played the part, the delicious
Ivan Sergei, did a credible job with the script he had to work with. Lost actress Emilie de Ravin was cast as hostage negotiator Phoebe McNamara. This was, imo, a much better cast and adaptation than the hapless ANGEL FALLS movie was last year. I couldn't even sit through that one. Ultimately, the HIGH NOON movie was okay, not long or meaty enough, but okay. If I was grading it I'd give it a 'C'.

That bring us to Easter.

I'm late getting an Easter package out to my niece and nevvy in NoCal. I dunno. It's Thursday. Think they'll get it on time? Ummm... No?

I've also been dragging my feet making any plans for Easter. Little things like what we are having for dinner. Although, I did pretty much decide that earlier today, I still have some grocery shopping to do. What about you guys? Are you all ready for the holiday? Anybody got special plans for the weekend?

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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Reading not Blogging...

What with the new laptop, being in a class for work for a couple of days, and reading I hardly have time for blogging or blog hopping. I've been sorely out of the loop the past few days.

In the meantime books by Ann Aguirre, Karen Robards, Christine Rimmer and Megan Hart have been keeping me company.

I leave you with this little number that's made the rounds at work this week. It's pretty funny and clever at the same time. Have you seen this before?


Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Blue Diablo by Ann Aguirre

Blue Diablo by Ann Aguirre

I'm sort of fumbling around here because I don't know where to start with this book. Maybe I should start by saying I didn't want to put it down once I started it. Or, maybe I should tell you that I'm still surprised how hooked and interested I am in a paranormal sort of book that while character driven, the romantic elements are not the central theme of the story. All those things are true about BLUE DIABLO.

However, what Ms. Aguirre does best, in my humble opinion, is create memorable multi-layered characters. While her characters struggle to understand each other, we too as readers are sorting through all the information the author is giving us trying to figure things out. There are wonderful secondary characters as well who help fill out this story and give it added depth and flavor.

Chance and Corine, the H/H have a history. Eighteen months earlier Corine slipped away in the dark of night, no longer believing she could survive a relationship with Chance. Was Corine right to leave? Is Chance who and what he appears to be?

As they join forces to find Chance's Mother, someone Corine loves dearly, their back story is revealed. Partly. One can't help but feel, even at the end of this book, that there is more to know about Chance and Corine. Throughout the book Corine often mentally and verbally refers to Chance as her ex, but he is anything but with all the unfinished business between them.

While I was reading about these two strong, independent, and interesting people I couldn't help but think how complicated they each are. Life and love are rarely tied up in neat little packages, and that certainly holds true here.

BLUE DIABLO is a contemporary story, and while these characters inhabit the same time and place we do, their world has an added layer and dimension to it than the one we 'normal' people inhabit. This gave the story texture.

Chance and Corine both have a special gift. Corine can see the history of an object when she touches it. Chance is one lucky guy, always knowing the right people, the right turn to take in the road, and the right job to take next. However, nothing is pat or trite here. Not only 'good' people have special gifts and the race to find Chance's Mom is full of obstacles and complications. There were a couple of instances where the story got a little woo-woo, but these were minor and thankfully brief in comparison to my enjoyment of the overall reading experience.

This book is a worthwhile read for the characters alone. Interesting, intense, complicated and memorable, what more can you ask for? I can't wait to read the next book in this new series, HELLFIRE that should be released in April 2010.

In the meantime I'll console myself with the next installment in the Grimspace series, DOUBLEBLIND which is due out in October.

My Grade = B+

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Saturday, April 04, 2009

Holy Moly...

Guess what we brought home today? A brand spankin' new laptop. Yep, GG and I are the proud new owners of a MacBook. Sure I could be buying a new purse and clothes for my trip to DC, but why do something practical when I can go slightly nuts instead?

I'm not saying we're nuts because we got the laptop, that's been in the works for a year or so. No, I think we are slightly nuts because we went to the dark side and got Mac. It's our way of going middle-age crazy. Fortunately we have Shmoo to help us out if things get too complicated, but so far so good.

We got on the internet, set up access to our work emails and now I'm writing my very first post on Presley. Since we call the desk PC Elvis (Beanie's idea) I figure we'll call the laptop Presley. Too sissy? Not manly enough for the attractive aluminum body? GG says to go with Costello. There's more than one Elvis in the world... What?? There's only about a bazillion fans that would beg to differ, but I got bigger fish to fry than that debate. I have to figure out what to name the laptop that will begin many wonderful adventures with me us starting today.

Poor GG. He thinks I'm going to share. Wait! Stop the presses! I think I have the perfect name. I'm going to call the laptop 'Jax' after my fave heroine in Ann Aguirre's GRIMSPACE. Jax the space jumper taking people, or "jumping" them, from place to place in mere moments. My Our laptop will be taking me us places too. It's insane how happy this is making me.

Jax it is.

Let the games begin.

*whispers* GG wants a turn now. What's that saying about sharing being good for the soul? Anybody? Bueller?

ETA: Bear with me. I'm not as quick (yet) or as proficient (yet) with the Jax' keyboard and ze typos zey abound. I've left several after I published comments here and there. Dammit anyway!


Friday, April 03, 2009

The Phone Call...

House phone rings an hour and twenty minutes after Beanie leaves home from a Spring Break overnight to get free food, taken out to dinner and his laundry done (by him).

Me: Hello?

Beanie: Mom?

: Yeeeeeesssss...

: S'rsly Mom why do you even have a cell phone?

: What?

: Why do you have a cell phone? You don't answer texts and you don't answer calls.

: What are you talking about? You called the house.

: That was after I called your cell.

: I'm in the office and my cell is charging in the bedroom. What's the big deal?

: I wanted to talk to you.

: And you are!

: Never mind.

: Wait! Why'd you call?

: Oh, yeah... I'm home already. Do you miss me yet?


Thursday, April 02, 2009

Isn't it romantic?

Do you think about why you read what you read? What journey did you take to the books you like best? I'm talking about my reading journey over at Readers Gab at Access Romance today.


Wednesday, April 01, 2009

March 2009 Reading List

Overall March was an interesting reading month. I'm closer to my usual number of books with 13. I like to be in the 15 to 20 book range just to keep my reading on pace with my purchasing. Even with my reading miasma late in the month I still feel good about my March reads. Plus I had a strong finish with Lisa Kleypas' SMOOTH TALKIN' STRANGER. If you haven't read it yet, you should. It's just a very satisfying and fulfilling read. I'm so glad I bought it.

Gobsmacked by LB Gregg
I reviewed this and loved it. I can't wait for the next Smithfield book, HAPPY ENDINGS to come out later this month (April) at Aspen Mountain Press. Yes, that was a shameless plug for these books, because, I really like 'em. I really do.
My Grade = B+

Cry for Passion by Robin Schone
A great turn of the century awakening-to-passion story. Told in Ms. Schone's graphic, unapologetic, and honest manner. She's been hit or miss in recent releases, but I liked this one.
My Grade = B

Give Me a Cowboy - Anthology (Jodi Thomas, Dewanna Pace, Linda Broday, Phyliss Miranda)
I bought this one totally for Ms. Thomas, but figured it was a good way to give the other authors of the anthology a try. Ms. Thomas' book lacked the reality and honesty she usually brings to a story and I was a bit disappointed. I tried to read Ms. Pace's story and couldn't get into it. I read most of Ms. Broday's which was loosely tied to Ms. Miranda's but alas stopped due to lack of interest.
My Grade = C (for Ms. Thomas' story only)

The Outsider by Penelope Williamson
Loved this gritty, multi-layered western. I reviewed this one too.
My Grade = A-

Maverick by Lora Leigh
Note how I'm reading a new LL every month? This one was actually a bit better with a less angsty hero and a much more interesting plot. Ms. Leigh still relies on some of her usual standbys like 'she was his soul'. Why are they ALWAYS the hero's soul? Or, maybe the better question is why does she create a great characters and revert to the same language and rhythm? Both heros and heroines seem and sound the same. It's a shame because she creates characters like Michah Sloane that have so much potential.
My Grade = C

Two Texas Hearts by Jodi Thomas
This was my TBR Challenge read and review. I guess I can't go a month without a Jodi Thomas fix either.
My Grade = C

to good to be true by Kristan Higgins
Grace Emerson makes up a boyfriend to save face and avoid nosy questions when her ex-fiance ends up engaged to her beloved younger sister. Reading the blurb I didn't know how you could pull a story like that off without it being off the chart ridiculous or implausible. Ms. Higgins does a credible job. I do wish it had more 'real' conversations between Grace and her hunky ex-con neighbor Callahan O'Shea.
My Grade = B

Parting Gifts by Lorraine Heath
This was my Re-Read Challenge book. You can see what I thought about this classic eighties western here.
My Grade = B-

Dead Right by Cate Noble
It's amazing how much I liked this book when it's told in flashbacks and the H/H don't end up together in real time until two-thirds of the way through it. While I thought it tied things up too fast and too pat at the end, the redemption was a little too quick for me, this was a strong story and characters. I'll be looking for the next book in the series.
My Grade = B

Tangled Lies by Anne Stuart
This is a reprint in Harlequin's 'Famous Firsts' series. I hadn't read TANGLED LIES before and despite its late 80s release date I think it held up pretty well. A wealthy heiress travels to Hawaii to see her long lost brother... or is he? How do you go from believing someone is your brother to lovers? See how she pulls it off. Good book. Easy read.
My Grade = B-/C+

Taken by Anya Bast
From Samhain a futuristic menage. I'm wondering why I keep trying to read these (menage stories)? This was a disappointment and I have read some of Ms. Bast's books I enjoyed, like her recently released THE CHOSEN. Unfortunately, this one wasn't one of them.
My Grade = D

Lord of Sin by Madeline Hunter
When I lamented recently I didn't know which book to read, Kristie suggested I pick up the one that 'called' to me. This was it. It fit the bill and enjoyed the characters quite a bit. I'm anxious to dig out the other Madeline Hunter books in my tbr.
My Grade = B

Smooth Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas
What can you say when a book delivers exactly the way you want it to? A very good and satisfying read. This won't change the world, but fans of Ms. Kleypas won't be disappointed either. It's also a chance to really appreciate an independent middle son, Jack Travis. What a great character! I think I fell a little in love with him myself.
My Grade = B+