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, January 31, 2009

2009 Re-Read Challenge

Letters to Kelly by Suzanne Brockmann

This is for Nath's Re-Reading Challenge. I haven't formally signed up for her challenge because in truth I rarely re-read even though my bookshelves are full of books I love. My theory has always been that when I'm old and can't afford books my shelves will be full of all these great books to re-read. This book fits that premise to a 'T'.

Every once in awhile, as I mentioned in previous posts, a book from the past pops into my head and just won't let go. The irony of this is that on any other day you may mention the title of the very same book and I will look at you with a blank stare. My brain and books are tricky like that.

So I fell into the re-read challenge because LETTERS TO KELLY just wouldn't leave me alone.

In this story the H/H meet when she is only 12 years old. Of course Jax doesn't have any romantic feelings for his best friend's little sister right then, but over the course of the next several years he watches her grow up and his feelings change.

Kelly O'Brien is not your average 17-year old. For one thing her parents have made sure she has a good sense of self. Sure she thinks Jax is fun, good looking, smart and a good person, but she isn't a little girl following her brother's best friend around wearing her heart on her sleeve and carrying a trunk sized crush. She has plans for herself and her life.

When her date gets sick and can't go to prom, Jax who has been waiting for Kelly to get a little older, volunteers to take her instead. They have a wonderful evening, stay out too late and almost cross a line that Jax had promised Kelly's brother, and himself, he wouldn't.

The argument and split friendship that follow are not only plausible but realistic. Ms. Brockmann does well to portray the worry, betrayal and outrage a friend might feel finding his kid sister in a clinch with someone seven years older than she is.

What happens? Separation. A separation that is painful for both of them, but in drastically different ways. More than three years go by. Between them they survive marriage, divorce, going back to college and imprisonment in a Third World country.

This little category romance explores whether or not their individual experiences apart have created too great a chasm for them to cross to begin again. Trust, obviously, plays a big part of this.

I enjoyed my second reading of this story. I thought that Ms. Brockmann had just the right touch dealing with the age difference and did so honestly. I picked this up thinking that Jax had been a soldier. I was surprised, but not disappointed when I remembered and realized he was a journalist and not a man in the military. However, my memory of the sensibility of a young man being far away from home and longing for the people he loves was present and tangible. I'm glad I read this one again.

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Friday, January 30, 2009

January 2009 - Reading List

The Girl Most Likely To… by Susan Donovan B
This was a pleasant and totally predictable romantic comedy. It was a good ‘coming home’ story.

Midnight Soldier by Vonna Harper
Ask me why I bought a book with a ghost in it. I’m nuts that’s why. What, you might ask, overcame the ghostiness? A soldier. What else?

Undercover by Lauren Dane C
Love in space. Unfortunately, I just didn’t care about the characters they way I should have.

Veil of Midnight by Lara Adrian C
I’m a fan of this series and was a bit disappointed in this book. This was another book where I didn’t connect with the characters.

Stay the Night by Lynn Viehl B-
This is Robin’s book. As in Robin of Locksley or Robin Hood. Here we have 700 year old thief felled by 21st century cop. I love Ms. Viehl’s writing, I do, but this one just didn't dig in they way her books usually do. This too is the last Darkyn book. Luckily for us she has a new series starting with the Kyndred which will be set in the same world as the Darkyn books.There’s an excerpt in the back of STAY THE NIGHT. I'm intrigued and can’t wait.

Marrying the Captain by Carla Kelly B+
This book is the total opposite of the previous two. I love Carla Kelly's writing. How does she write and make you believe you are right there? You feel the cold.You feel the longing. These characters are so real and genuine. I really liked this book.

Only Pleasure by Lora Leigh C+
I ask myself all the time why I keep buying her books. They are becoming so one dimensional for me and predictable… same story, same dialogue. Nothing new. I guess I keep going back to the well because of the exhilaration of those first books I bought at Ellora’s Cave that opened a whole new world for me. Anyway, this is part of her Bound Hearts series. I liked it a bit better than some of her recent ones. And, I can hardly believe I’m saying this… I hope she does something really spectacular for Khalid. She needs to, for me. Heh.

Love without Blood by Raz Steel DNF

An Officer and a Millionaire by Maureen Child C+
This isn’t a particularly deep book and it certainly is predictable, but Ms. Child had an interesting twist on the arranged marriage. It was a fun, quick read.

For the Love of Pete by Julia Harper B+
FBI guy, girl in peril, a missing baby and some fabulous secondary characters make this book a very worthwhile read. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience.

First Born by Lindsay McKenna C
I reviewed this one here for TBR day.

Tempt the Devil by Anna Campbell B
This is another historical from Ms. Campbell about a British lord and a courtesan. I don’t how she hooks me in but she does. I imagine there is plenty to find objectionable here, but I think she writes true to the times and it’s sensibilities.

Letters to Kelly by Suzanne Brockmann B
I am reviewing this one for Nath’s Re-Read challenge. I picked it up off my shelves after obsessing about it. My obsession was sparked by my recent thoughts of our military serving overseas in Afghanistan and Iraq.

What I did for Love by Susan Elizabeth Phillips B
A solid performance by SEP. Characters from her recently re-released GLITTER BABY appear in this one. I didn't have any laugh out loud moments, but even when she stretches the plot a bit the ride is so darn enjoyable you over look it. I did. Mostly.

Thirteen books this month. 2009 is off to a great start!


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Tell the truth now...

Have you ever had your reader just jammed full of posts to catch up on? You sit yourself down, gird your loins determined to catch up with your nearest, dearest and faves.

Align Center
Scrolling through all those fabulous posts skimming reading you find that some lovely person has dropped in a fantastic picture, or cartoon, or maybe a snappy one liner in their post. Blissfully brief. To the point. You find yourself smiling, sighing in relief and moving on to the next post.

Yeah, baby. Posts happen.

BTW, have I ever told you about my childhood crush on this guy?


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Been shopping...

Yesterday was a big book release day for me. Suzanne Brockmann and Susan Elizabeth both had releases out. Throw in Madeline Hunter, Diane Whiteside with a dash of Elizabeth Thornton and you pretty much sum up my trip to the bookstore. Of course it doesn't hurt that I conned GG into dinner too. Nice. Very, very, nice.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Joni Mitchell

I love the COURT & SPARK album. These have been on my brain lately.


Monday, January 26, 2009

Keeping the Candle Burning

Do you ever, out of the blue suddenly think of a book you read weeks, months, years ago and it just won't let go?

This happens to me every once in a while and I sometimes just can't shake the book loose. Sometimes it isn't even a book I liked. It might be a book that had very little impact when I read it, but suddenly it's a new obsession.

This past week that happened to me. I started thinking about a book I'd read back in April 2003. The book is a little category romance written by Suzanne Brockmann called LETTERS TO KELLY. Fortunately I have the book so I pulled it off the shelves and read it. It wasn't, after almost 6 years, exactly the way I remembered it. For one thing I'd thought the hero was in the military. He isn't and the military connection is what lead me to think about the book. I'll be reviewing it for Nath's Re-Read Challenge at the end of the month.

Anyway, I know one of the reasons I began to obsess over this particular book was having seen the movie IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH last weekend.

Saying 'Wow!' doesn't begin to describe the experience I had watching this movie. It stars Tommy Lee Jones,in a role that he was nominated for an Academy Award for last year. It also stars h Charlize Theron, and Susan Sarandon. This is a quiet movie. It's very tangible and realistic. It's the story about one soldier and his family.

If you read this post you know I've been thinking a lot recently about the men and women who serve in the military. At home or abroad it's a pretty thankless job. As it often is for me when I obsess over something one thought leads to another. I can't help but relate what I see or read to my own life and relationships. It's the eternal question, what if that were me, what would I do?

The movie is stark and no frills. It isn't gentle in it's truth. It isn't political, at least I don't think it is, but it gives an honest picture of what war does not only to the soldier, but to his family, community and country.

I snagged the trailer and posted it below. Check it out. The movie is on HBO right now and it's also available for purchase on DVD.

All I can think of right now is to keep the candle burning, praying and hoping for all our men and women serving to some home safe and sound to their families. My good thoughts and prayers are the least of what they deserve for what they do.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Cindy's Meme

Cindy tagged me for this one. Apparently this meme was making the rounds back in November, but I like to pay up when I've been tagged, so my answers are below. I won't be tagging anyone, but the scoop on how you can do be a part of this one is at the end of the post.

The books that have been on my shelves the longest:

How about RING AROUND THE ROSARY? Yes indeedy my dear friends. This is the book my Aunt C gave me for my First Holy Communion, as we called it way back in June of 1962. Take a look at this...

A book that reminds you of something specific in your life (a person, a place, a time, etc.):

1. SHATTERED LEGACY by Lora Leigh. I actually purchased this from Ellora's Cave and printed the whole darn thing out on my printer and took it to the hospital with me. I read this book at my mother's bedside near the end of her life. I remember her waking and asking me what I was reading.

2. THE CARPETBAGGERS by Harold Robbins. Um...yeah. I read this one as a precocious 13-year old babysitter. The book boggled my mind. It was my first 'adult' book.

3. Within the year I read the CARPETBAGGERS I was staying at my grandparents and found FAREWELL THE STRANGER by Saliee O'Brien in the book case in the basement. I consider this book to be how I started reading romance novels.

A book you acquired in some interesting way (gift, serendipity in a used bookstore, prize, etc.):

I met Ann Aguirre at RWA and was so effusive and sycophantic in my praise for GRIMSPACE that she took mercy on me and gave me an ARC of WANDERLUST after I attended one of her workshops where she was presenting. I was over the moon.

A book that’s been with you to the most places:

My copy of Little Men by Louisa May Alcott.

I loved LITTLE WOMEN, but every time I read it, until I was an adult, I borrowed it from the library. When we lived in Japan I received a copy of LITTLE MEN as a Christmas gift. I honestly can't remember for certain who gave it to me, but I think it was my grandparents. Anyway, for a long time this was the only book I owned. It was mine. All mine. It was kept in my room and has moved with me ever since. RING AROUND THE ROSARY doesn't count because my Mom kept that one (who knows why) until I got married.

The most recent addition to your shelves:

Over the Fall I glommed Jodi Thomas. So I'd have to say TWISTED CREEK would be the latest addition to my keeper shelves.

Okay, that's it for me. Now it's your turn. Here are the rules if you want to participate in this one.

The Rules
1. Tag 3-5 people, so the fun keeps going!
2. Leave a comment at the original post at A Striped Armchair, so that Eva can collect everyone’s answers.
3. If you leave a comment and link back to Eva as the meme’s creator, she will enter you in a book giveaway contest! She has a whole shelf devoted to giveaway books that you’ll be able to choose from, or a bookmooch point if you prefer.
4. Remember that this is all about enjoying books as physical objects, so feel free to describe the exact book you’re talking about, down to that warping from being dropped in the bath water…
5. Make the meme more fun with visuals! Covers of the specific edition you’re talking about, photos of your bookshelves, etc

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

TBR Day: First Born by Lindsey McKenna

FIRST BORN by Lindsey McKenna
Silhouette Romance
June 2004

Keishon's TBR challenge this month was to find a category romance (if you wanted to) that's been languishing in ye old TBR.

Many years ago I began reading about the Trayherns in the Silhouette Special Edition line. The first series of Trayhern books were about three brothers who served in different branches of the military. At the center of the stories was Morgan Trayhern, the oldest brother, the best and the brightest trying to live up to the family's military traditions.

The Trayhern stories ended up, much like Suzanne Brockmann's books, with many off shoots. There was a series of books called Morgan's Mercenaries chronicling the lives of men and women who served in Morgan Trayhen's secret agency called Perseus. After trying a couple of these books, I began to lose interest. While Ms. McKenna is a very able writer, I just wasn't as invested in these new characters as I had been with the Trayhern family.

I'm guessing it was 3 or 4 years later that I spotted the book FIRST BORN at a used book store. Noting that this book was about Morgan Trayhern's oldest son my interest was piqued and I bought the book. I think that was in 2006. So here I am almost 5 years after it's release finally reading the book.

The heroine is very interesting. Annie Dazen is Native American, a helicopter pilot and the commanding officer of our hero Jason Trayhern. Annie is smart, intuitive and willing to open her mind and heart to the possibilities of the spiritual elements of her upbringing. While she loves her Native American heritage and culture, Annie isn't a caricature or stereotyped character.

Jason Trayhern had a traumatic life experience when he was kidnapped at the age of 8. During his month long captivity, Jason was beaten daily until his rescue. While loving and respecting his parents deeply, Jason also harbors resentment toward his hero father for not keeping him safe as a child. Jason also carries the burden and expectation for the oldest Trayhern son to have a successful and brilliant military career. This family tradition dates back to the American Revolution. So our boy Jason...he got issues.

Jason reports to Annie just weeks before her squadron is scheduled to be sent to Afghanistan. Jason doesn't have the greatest track record. He has been sent down from West Point for being involved in a drug scandal. As the story begins he is being shuffled out of a second assignment for not getting along with the crew. It is at this low point for Jason that Annie, an ace and top helicopter pilot, is given the task to see if 'Cowboy' has what it takes.

The twists and turns occur when the couple finally does make it to Afghanistan. Before leaving Jason and Annie get on equal footing when Jason receives a much deserved promotion. However they both understand their relationship will have to be put on hold while on this assignment.

This was one of those books I really wanted to like more. It had lots of the elements I enjoy in a book with a military backdrop. Unfortunately, the book just felt dated to me. I tried a few times to put my finger on exactly what was bugging me. I eliminated the war because the war in Afghanistan is still going on. The military references didn't seem old or out dated either. I think my discomfiture came more from not really clicking with the characters. The dialogue and behavior seemed a little stiff and one dimensional at times.

Ironically, I actually liked the scenes between the senior Trayherns, Morgan and Laura, better. Maybe because they were better known to me from my prior reading of their stories. To Ms. McKenna's credit I was surprised how much of the original Trayhern stories came back to me with this reading.

Still, this is far from a horrible book. This would definitely have to be read by someone interested in stories with a military backdrop because it plays a big part of the story.

My grade for this one: C

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Coming up next...

I'm exhausted today. I think I just chewed up a ton of adrenalin yesterday. Of course a 2 1/2 hour meeting to start the day probably didn't help things much.

Of course a lot of my energy was expended in my excitement over a new president. I watched as much as I could during the day (minimal) and then spent quite a bit of the evening catching up with the day's events.

So, yes, I know today is Keishon's TBR review day. I read a book but don't have my review ready. Hopefully, later today.

How about you? Any feelings about yesterday? Do you feel different today than you did Monday of this week? I do. I know we have all the same problems, but I have to say I really do feel hopeful. It's not just words, it's real. I feel it. So much feels possible.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

History is made...

I have such a huge feeling of expectation and hope... We don't know today what will happen the next four years of Barack Obama's presidency, but I do know that I haven't been this hopeful about a President in my whole adult life.

For years my parents would get together with several of their neighbors with their voting pamphlets and discuss the issues and mark (privately) their ballots. There was always spirited debate and lots of humor. At the end of one of these evenings I stopped by the house. One of our dearest neighbors and someone who had supported all my sibling's school sales and fund raisers told me something I've never forgotten.

No matter who we elect, no matter our individual political affiliation, our government is set up with three branches; the executive, the legislative and the judicial. These three branches of government balance each other out. We never have to worry about the harm any single man can do to our country because of this. I'd learned this in school, of course, but somehow when Mr. Morris spoke these words, it finally sank in. We have elected a President, not crowned a King.

I'm thinking about this and realizing that a single man as President can make a difference when he embraces this idea. When our President welcomes the knowledge and contributions of the other branches of government and opposing political party, big things can happen. This, I think, is why I have so much hope today.

There's one more thing that makes Barack Obama particularly appealing to me personally. I see a man who appears to be passionately in love with his wife. Maybe this shouldn't make a difference, but for me, it does.

It feels good. I feel good. It's a brand new day.


Monday, January 19, 2009

The Day Off

My brain runneth over. S'rsly.

Like many Americans I have a day off today, Martin Luther King day. I should be waxing poetic about the contributions Mr. King made to the civil rights movement, but that's not what's on my mind today.

Since I work for a fire department, a public agency, we rightly observe MLK day. GG, otoh, works for an LTL, or freight trucking company. They do not observe MLK so in order to have a day off together he had to take a vacation day. We don't have a particular problem with this since he has far more vacation days than I do, but it bugs me for this reason: a holiday should be a holiday for EVERY one.

Why is it only some people, companies and agencies observe MLK and others don't? Is there a holiday hierarchy? It seems to me when we have this random participation, we, as Americans, lose the importance of the reason for the observance. This has bothered me since we started honoring Mr. King. What's up with the 'holiday optional' business?

If anyone has a reasonable explanation why, I'd sure like to hear it, because as it stands, it makes no sense to me.

GG and I are off to swim now. He's on vacation. I'm on a holiday.

ETA: For all you inquiring minds (like me) and out of a sense of curiosity after Keishon mentioned that each State decides which holidays to observe, I did a little research. (A very little). I found this document which explains a bit about how holidays become holidays.


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Shamelessly Proud Auntie

We welcomed our 60th family member into the collective. Have I mentioned I have 8 siblings with assorted spouses, nieces, nephews, who have in turn married and procreated? Well we are 60 all told currently.

Below is the Christmas card photo of my nephew and newest family member with his big sister.

This is his 3-month photo. Is he a sweetie or what?

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Things that make me go....hmmmmmm...

Have you ever listened to a song and been completely captured by the music and lyrics? Did you ever ponder in amazement and wonder where the inspiration came from for that performer or song writer?

Then by happenstance you read an interview or see an interview and think... WTF??? You are mystified how a song that touched you so deeply could have been written by such a chowder head.

Have you ever been completely captured by an actor's performance and then saw a picture of them or a segment on ACCESS HOLLYWOOD and had that magical movie forever ruined by the actor's a$$hat behavior?

Did you ever read a sexually explicit scene in a book and felt completely convicted that the author HAD to have been a part of such a scene themselves because it feels that real and tangible? You later meet the author and think maybe they've never had sex in their lives. Ever.

Yes dear readers, these are the things I might be contemplating during my morning commute. Things that might lead my mind to wander which in turn results in a traffic violation.

So, tell me, is this light RED?

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Thursday, January 15, 2009


Do you look or turn away when you see one of those bumper stickers that proudly proclaim that someone related to the owner of the vehicle is serving in our armed forces?

I'm a looker. I look and I wonder. Is that his wife? Her husband? Is that his Mother or her Father? I look and I wonder how they stand it. Does having a bumper sticker on the car help with the worry I wonder? Worry.Worry. Worry. My two boys are nearby and I worry about them all the time. I worry about mundane dumb stuff like...

Do they have enough gas in the car? Are they wearing condoms? Is their college loan going to be enough money? Stuff like that.

What I don't have to worry about is whether someone in a far away land hates them because of the uniform they are wearing and is shooting at them just because they are an American. Most gratefully I don't have that kind of terror clutching at my heart each night before I go to sleep.

A couple of days ago there was a truck in front of me at the gas station. We were both filling up. The rear window of the truck was in three sections.

The driver's window said:
Deployed 11-01-2008

In the center it said:
Proud Mom of U.S. Marine
Sgt J___ M______
3x in Iraq. Now in AF (Afghanistan)

The passenger window said:
Guard your men.
Watch your six.
Come home safe.

She's a Mom just like me I thought. How does she do it I wondered? A Marine in Afghanistan who has already survived 3 tours in Iraq? Ho-lee crap! It boggled.

Why I'm bringing this up...

I got another traffic ticket. I was pretty devastated. I mean I went through ANOTHER red light and didn't even notice it? That's dumb. That's scary. That's freaking expensive. *sigh* But, I see this window at the gas station and I start thinking...and counting my blessings.

I'm so thankful I don't have to carry that burden. It was humbling. It was enlightening.

Perspective... is everything.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

What's on the Menu?

When was the last time you browsed? I mean truly browsed the bookshelves of your favorite bookstore or library? I so often shop with a list these days that I can't remember when I just went in and took books down from a shelf randomly. I can't remember the last time I tried someone (author) completely unknown and new to me. My lists are full of either auto-buy authors or recommended reads.

With Beanie at college and Shmoo working and in school too, GG and I frequently find ourselves home alone. Very often we spontaneously head out after dinner for a cup of coffee and the bookstore. To browse. Recently on our way home from just such an outing I told GG we don't really browse any more. Looking at me over the tops of his glasses, he said,"Then what is it we are doing?"

There's really not a short answer to GG's question. But what we do, it's not browsing. While GG goes through different phases, (most recently he has an obsession with 'ab' fitness) he searches through a specific section and subject. While I've been known to pick up a best seller or wander into the Sci-Fi section of the store, I'm usually reaching for the books I've jotted down on my TBB list. Not only is this not browsing, it's not all that fun either.

I used to go out trolling for books. Just walk up and down aisles and randomly pick them up, read blurbs, skim pages and weigh out whether or not I should spend my limited monthly allowance on that particular book. Discovery of a really good book and author was so exhilarating. I miss that. While I appreciate getting recommendations and buy many of the books, I miss my own exploration of those vast bookshelves.

So, I ask again, what about you? When was the last time you really browsed a bookstore or library? Can you remember the last time you 'discovered' a writer completely on your own that just made you sigh in happiness?

Well, I've decided that I'm going to make an effort to get back to basics and try looking for books the way I used to. I want to try to find books and writers I know absolutely nothing about. I want to take some reading risks.

That's it! I want an adventure. I want to have a reading adventure. Could be fun. Could be costly. On the upside I don't have to travel far or buy any special equipment for my adventure.

Aaaaaaand...I have a plan. A plan is good.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Seen Reading This Week...

Marrying the Captain by Carla Kelly

Veil of Midnight by Lara Adrian

Stay the Night
by Lynn Viehl

Only Pleasure by Lora Leigh

Four books in one week. That was my total book count for the whole month of December. Yeah, I'm feeling pretty darn good right now. You'll have to wait for my end of month summary to see the grades.

I'll give you a clue though, with one exception it was pretty much an "average" week.


Monday, January 12, 2009

Totally Bitchin' or What?

My little Spanky Lisabea put this up on her blog making some crazy vows for the New Year. Who cares about those stinkin' resolutions when I'm freakin' Wonder Woman! How could I concentrate after that? I'll tell you how. I didn't. Much.

Don't suppose for a moment that this will be the last time you see this picture either. Thanks to LB and Facehole.com I have a masterpiece. I gotta say...I love it, love it, love it! You know why? It makes me happy. Little picture. Big happy smile.

Speaking of that totally awesome and cool chick Wonder Woman, I must have been channeling her because I'm finally caught up with skimming reading all your posts from last month when I was mostly no where to be found. As I've said many, many, many times, I'm nothing if not a "Nosy Nora" so I simply had to check out what you all have been up to.

Oh, and that sublime sigh you hear? Yep. That's me leaning back in my office chair grinning like a fool. It just don't get much better than this skeeter.

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Friday, January 09, 2009

You know things are better when...

...I'm making lists. I actually made this one last weekend when I wanted to get caught up and back in the swing of things. Looking it over last night I felt pretty good about my progress because I've gotten several items crossed off the list already.

  • Do some blog hopping. (I had over 1000 posts to go through. I skimmed some; deleted some and read and commented on some. I'm down to about 240 now.)
  • Check out the e-book sites to see what I've missed the last about 4 months. (You guys got any e-book recs?)
  • Review 'drafts' in blog list. Delete and update.
  • Update 2008 spreadsheet. Add October, November and December reads.
  • Do reading lists for blog for October, November and December 2008.
  • Set up 2009 spreadsheet.
  • Write a post and sum up my reading year.
  • Update my TBB list.
  • Update my search list.
  • Dream about logging all my tbr books.
  • Dream about logging all the books I own.
  • Email SoCal bloggers about potential get together.
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    Thursday, January 08, 2009

    Gotta love the Christmas Gift Card



    Wednesday, January 07, 2009

    My Reading Year 2008

    Lordy, Lordy, in the process of doing this post I had to go back through the last three months of 2008 quite a bit. How can you stand me? All I did was whine, whine, whine. I actually had a wonderful Christmas. Thanksgiving was great as well. My niece got married, as many of you know, in late October and life has been at mach speed since. Sure, I'm living la vida loca on crack but, you know, it's a very good life so I need to quit complaining already.

    I felt compelled to mention these things so you all don't think I'm sitting in the dark in sackcloth and ashes lamenting my life. I've been busy, but I'm good...as are GG, Shmoo and Beanie.

    I can't believe how fast some of you got your year end stats up. Wenches. Kudos and much admiration. I'm thrilled to be sitting here doing mine when we are only a week into the new year.

    I'm happy to report I finally did my monthly reading lists for October, November and December. Click on the links if you are interested in seeing what I read in those months. They probably popped up as newly published if you have an RSS feed reader so you may have already seen them that way. If you don't have a reader they are dated and buried in the appropriate months. As I said, if you give a rat's patootie you can use the links and it will be quicker.

    Here it is chiquitas... *drum roll* In 2008 I read 135 books. Not bad, but quite a shocker especially after I checked to see how many books I read last year. In 2007 I read 244 books. 244. Books.


    Apparently working full time puts a crimp in my reading habits. Well that and a commitment to exercise several times a week. Oops, I almost started a whine there.

    Anyway, 135 is the magic number. 109 fewer than last year. I can hardly believe it was that bad. GG reminded me that this is more than 2 books a week. I reminded him that I am used to reading 4-5 books a week. Who knows maybe this is my new normal. Time and 2009 will tell...

    Here are some of my 2008 highlights:

    While I only had two DNFs, I also only had three 'A' grades as well. I'm a very tough grader just ask my kids. Never mind, don't ask them because they will also tell you I'm crazy. Just trust me. I'm a stingy 'A' giver.

    My three 'A' grades went to a re-read of one of my old favorite SHADES OF TWILIGHT by Linda Howard; WINTER WOMAN by Jenna Kernan and MRS. DREW PLAYS HER HAND by Carla Kelly. The title links are to my reviews of those books. Interestingly enough both WINTER WOMAN and MRS. DREW PLAYS HER HAND were TBR day reviews as well. Makes me shiver to wonder what other treasures are in those tubs of mine.

    RWA was a highlight for me this year for many reasons. One of them was Jodi Thomas. I hadn't read a one of her books, but I brought back and sent signed copies of her book TWISTED CREEK to a few friends who'd mentioned they liked her. I later discovered I didn't keep one for myself. I bought the book (again!) and loved it. Even though TWISTED CREEK was a contemporary, the writing interested me enough that I went looking for Ms. Thomas's back list which is mostly westerns. I've really enjoyed her books and will be forever grateful to Dev for the original recommend. Jodi Thomas is definitely an auto buy now.

    For no apparent reason I can think of it appears that I read more historicals this year. Maybe it's just a lack of decent contemporaries. I don't know.

    Another author I fell in love with is Ann Aguirre. It's unusual for me to be so passionate about a female character, but Ms. Aguirre certainly succeeded when she created Sirantha Jax. This is another author I had the pleasure of meeting at RWA. I got to tell her how much I enjoyed Jax and GRIMSPACE. I gave GRIMSPACE a B++. However, the book and characters have really stuck with me and I should probably change that grade to an 'A'. I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to reading Ms. Aguirre's new book called BLUE DIABLO that's due out April 7th.

    I did more re-reads this year than I have in recent years. In addition to the Howard book, I also re-read a couple of Jennifer Crusie's older books that were re-published. I enjoyed them both. I also re-read an Iris Johansen historical LION'S BRIDE that held up well.

    Nalini Singh is still kicking bootie with her Psy-Changling series. She is also an author I was fortuante to meet at RWA and she's just as nice as can be. I enjoyed HOSTAGE TO PLEASURE this past year and am looking foward to the new series starting in March. The first book is called ANGEL'S BLOOD. BTW, she has a contest going right now for an ARC of the new book.

    Of course I'm wondering what 2009 will bring. Even after GG looked at my '08 stats he still thinks I'll be back on track with 4-5 books per week this year. Things should settle down at work by the end of March. Hopefully there won't be as many special projects and less working on weekends. That means more time for reading! Right?

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    Tuesday, January 06, 2009

    December Reading List

    Let me start my saying this: A miracle has happened and I'm actually posting this in a timely manner. Well timely for me as it is within the first week after the month of reading. I don't think I've done that since August last year.

    December was bleak people. I read a total of four books. Now that's just sad. I didn't do much book shopping either. I bought lots of books and DVDs for gifts, but little to none in the way of reading material for myself. Since ye olde TBR is around 300 books I guess that's a good thing.

    Here's my four:

    THE TREASURE by Iris Johansen
    I mentioned this one while I was reading it. It returns to the same period and characters as LIONS BRIDE. As I mentioned while I was reading it, I was disappointed by the dialogue in particular. The characters all sounded the same. Of course I wouldn't miss reading it because it's Selene's and Kadar's book. Kadar remains a very interesting character for me. C

    UNTAMED by Pamela Clare
    This is the second book in the MacKinnon's Rangers series. This time we are following Morgan MacKinnon. I really like this time period, think Last of the Mohicans. Without personally knowing a whole lot about the time period the story appears to be well researched. It was a good read, but the male characters are much more interesting than the females. I think Amalie, the heroine, was a little wimpy. Having said that I still gave it a 'B'.

    STRANGE BEDPERSONS by Jennifer Crusie
    This book was originally published in 1994 and completely off my radar. At least I didn't (and don't) remember reading it way back then. It also wasn't on my bookshelves so I figured I was safe to read it. It's been re-released in hardcover so that's kind of a bummer. Here we have a conservative lawyer and a hippie do-gooder who shouldn't have anything in common. It holds up pretty well and I enjoyed it as a light read. B

    MURDER GAME by Christine Feehan
    I've mentioned before how much I like the Ghostwalker series. This is the seventh installment. Some of the books are better than others and this one certainly was a better one for me. Kadan is definitely an alpha hero, so if that's not your cuppa you probably won't like this one. B+

    Tomorrow I hope to have up some stats for my 2008 reading year. I'm thinking this past year might be a turning point for me.


    Monday, January 05, 2009


    I'm trying to redeem myself but find I'm liberated instead. When I started writing posts again this past weekend I remember calling out to GG, "Hey, guess what? I'm writing!"

    It feels good and reminded me a big way how much more fun (and cheaper!) writing blog posts are than therapy. Although therapy does have the seductive allure of being able to talk about yourself guilt free for an hour. Too bad you have to pay someone to do it.

    Anyway, I now really feel like I'm back because I'm talking about what it's like to Begin Again at Access Romance. Go check it out.


    Sunday, January 04, 2009

    STRANGER by Megan Hart

    Don't faint. I'm actually going to attempt a review. I can't remember the last time I wrote a review about a book, but this one is worth it.

    First of all I read STRANGER by Megan Hart more than a month ago. (Excerpt) Without even cracking open the book I looked at that cover and all sorts of impressions came rushing back to me. Considering my sporadic reading lately and the sheer number of books I've read in my life, that was a very good sign.

    I think I read about half of STRANGER thinking that while it was well written I felt out of sorts with the dysfunctional Grace and Sam. They both seemed a little selfish and self indulgent. These are reasonably attractive and intelligent people who shouldn't be so screwed up.

    On the surface Grace has it all. She has taken over as funeral director of her father's mortuary business. She's attractive, intelligent and a woman in sync and in charge of her universe.
    Grace likes sex with strangers, no strings attached.

    Even though Grace is far from a snob, it's hard to see, besides his looks, what would attract her to Sam. He is drifting through life without commitment playing his guitar in bars. He's recently returned to his home town for
    his father's funeral. Sam doesn't want to grow up.

    Whatever you are thinking right now about what you think you know about Grace and Sam or how they meet, you probably are wrong. That's part of the beauty of this book.

    So there I am, reading a well written book, interested but irritated with the characters. I want them to grow up, look around and see how lucky they are.

    Then in her own inimitable style Ms. Hart deftly drops in one of the most memorable scenes I can remember reading in long time.
    This scene is not between Sam and Grace. It is Grace alone, at work. I don't want to say any more, but that scene was a major turning point in the book. It was an incredible way to reveal the soul of who Grace is. It changed the way I felt and cared about the character for the rest of the story. I was moved to tears. Big wet tears that dripped off my chin. For me the book is worth reading for that scene alone.

    Don't be scared. This lovely erotic romance has the requisite happily ever after. Although in quintessential Hart style it is a more realistic happily ever after than the fairy tale one.

    Another good read for me. I'm dying to discuss this with someone who's read it without spoiling it for anyone else. So, you know, write me already if you've read it.

    This book was released on January 1st and should be in book stores now.

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    Saturday, January 03, 2009

    Let's see if I remember how to do this...

    I'm wondering if I know how to write a post any more. Or more realistically, what I'm wondering is if I know how to write a post that's less than a week from the last one I wrote.

    It's not that my head isn't swirling with stuff to write and catch up on. I feel a little breathless wanting to know everything at once AND write AND read. Most of all I just feel so darn glad to have a Saturday afternoon ahead of me to fiddle around and write, read or whatever I want to do.