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.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Auld Lang Syne

I'm completely clueless as to what's going on out here in Romancelandia. I've had a great holiday season and enjoyed family and leisure time and sort of taken an unplanned break from blogging and blog hopping. This pretty much happens every December, so I don't know why I should be surprised that the same thing happened this year. I really should do something about these unrealistic expectations I have...

Hopefully in the next week I'll do my December reading list and catch up my spread sheet for 2009.

In the meantime I hope you'll go over to Access Romance to check out my ROOM WITH A VIEW post at Reader's Gab. I'm waxing on about my reading and blogging in the year that was 2009.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Hey! Wow!

Look at that! I have a blog! Who knew? Considering how I've been neglecting it lately it's like rediscovering the whole process. I feel so out of touch.
Forgive my neglectful blog hopping. I'm sure when things settle a bit here I'll be back out in the mix of things.

Anyway, I just wanted to stop by and say hello and let you know I'm enjoying the holiday season quite a bit. The Stair Steps are visiting with their mom (my seeesteer) and my brother is here from NoCal and we are having a bit of holiday fun this weekend. The only blight on my December is my reading. Nothing seems to hold my interest, although I quite enjoyed Stephanie Tyler's HARD TO HOLD and am looking forward to the next book in her SEAL trilogy. Yes, I still have a thing for a man in uniform.

I'd love some suggestions for something to read. Is anybody reading a recent release that's really knocked your socks off? Tell me, tell me.

Enjoy the holidays. I'm thinking about you all.

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Friday, December 11, 2009

The heat is on...

We finally got heat on Tuesday. It feels so luxurious and decadent. Man, I will NEVER take being warm for granted again. I get cranky when I'm cold all the time.

The Banquet for work is tonight. The last couple of weeks finalizing everything are always a little hectic combined with regular work. I'm looking forward to a little bit slower pace next week. Maybe even get to do some blog hopping!!! Wouldn't that be nifty.

I hope you are all not going crazy with the holidays.

Oh, Beanie is in LA Monday night for his gig. He still hasn't told me the name of the place, which would help significantly, but I know it starts at 8 PM. I'll try to post more on this later.

Off to start my day with a swim. Crikeys! It's 36 outside. It will be a bit chilly...

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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

November 2009 Reading List

Still in my reading frenzy at the beginning of the month, I have a respectable 14 reads for the month that was November. I'm surprised to see how many of the books I read this month are still with me and rattling around through my thoughts.

Heart Change by Robin D. Owens
This is the 8th installment in her Celta series. Still enjoying the series although this was not a couple I was particularly anticipating a story about.
My Grade = B

Bed of Roses by Nora Roberts
I've seen a myriad of reactions to this series out there in Romancelandia, but it's still in the plus column for me. I love the idea of four friends being able to stay friends and be in business. I'm looking forward to each installment of this series.
My Grade = B

Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran
See my review of this one. Sublime.
My Grade = A

Ain't Too Proud to Beg by Susan Donovan
On many days this read might have been a solid C. As a general rule I like light fun fare for my Sunday afternoons and this fit the bill perfectly. The right book at the right time. Since a doggie is a part of this story having my Emily snuggled up next to me for most of it didn't hurt.
My Grade = B-

Rainwater by Sandra Brown
This one packed an emotional punch. I reviewed it here. After a few weeks to think about the book and absorb its impact I think I'm ready to grade it. What holds me back from an "A" grade is my belief there is conscious emotional manipulation of the reader.
My Grade = B+

Ice by Linda Howard
I talked about this one here. To sum up? Meh read for me. Although I readily admit I always have high expectations when it comes to Linda Howard.
My Grade = C?

A Bride in the Bargain by DeeAnne Gist
This historical gave a fictionalized account of one of Asa Mercer's brides coming from New England post Civil War to Washington Territory. Well done and steeped with history and true to life characters. Don't be afraid to try this romance just because it's in the inspirational line. Very well done.
My Grade = B

Love Under Seige by Samantha Kane
At Love's Command by Samantha Kane
While I have these two books in e-format I couldn't resist picking them up at my local UBS when I saw them. It was great to revisit the somewhat idyllic world of menage Ms. Kane has created.
My Grade = B

The Marriage Bed by Laura Lee Guhrke
I grabbed this one out of my tbr and every time I do that I think of Keishon's challenge. Alas I didn't get a review done, but I'm one less book in the teetering tower of tubs.
My Grade = B

Wild Instinct by Sarah McCarty
Like its predecessor RUNNING WILD there are 3 chapters about three linked but different couples. While much better than my recent western reading of Ms. McCarty I found myself wishing this story was more fleshed out. I also can't help but hope this is leading up to a single title full length book wrapping up this storyline.
My Grade = C

Beyond the Rain by Jess Granger
I saw several good things about this futuristic debut book by Ms. Granger. While I found the story premise intriguing I was never fully engaged with these characters. For me, I'm afraid this was a bit too much of same old, same old.
My Grade = C

One Cowboy, One Christmas by Kathleen Eagle
This is a Silhouette Special Edition #2011 and is about broken down cowboy Zach Beaudry, brother to Sam Beaudry featured in the May 2009 SSE by Ms. Eagle. Neither of these books packed the emotional punch I've come to expect from Ms. Eagle, but as it contained elements of redemption in it, I graded a bit higher than Sam's book. There is a third SSE due out in February 2010.
My Grade = B-

Her Colorado Man by Cheryl St. John
When Mariah finds herself pregnant she gets help from an unexpected corner when her grandfather sends her away to have the baby. When she returns to Colorado to the bosom of her large extended family and their brewery business, Mariah is separated from her "husband" who has taken off to the Alaska gold fields. I really enjoyed the family dynamic in this story and the how well Ms. St. John handled the realities of what Mariah had to cope with.
My Grade = B-


Monday, December 07, 2009

Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran

Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran

First I offer a little background on my Meredith Duran experience. Having seen many positive comments and reviews of her books, I purchased all three books as they were released. However, I'm a bit embarrassed to admit this, I didn't sit down and read one of them until I met Ms. Duran at the RWA book signings. Superficial isn't it?

Secondly, I read the books in reverse order. I read WRITTEN ON YOUR SKIN first, then BOUND BY YOUR TOUCH and then, DUKE OF SHADOWS, her first book, last. In each book the writing is beautiful, flowing, with all the subtle layering and texture I so enjoy in a good historical.

However much I enjoyed the books I have to say DUKE OF SHADOWS is my favorite. Multiple times I'd stop and re-read passages that were so wonderfully written. At a couple of points in the book I got that feeling one gets when listening to beautiful music or seeing art that speaks to them in a personal way. I even remember telling GG how gifted Ms. Duran is.

As avid readers we see and hear all the time about watching for this author or that author as an up and coming writer to watch. Meredith Duran gets my vote. I can only see her getting better and better and I'm going to predict she has a long and successful career in the publishing world.

Now about the book...

On her way to British India to marry, Emmaline Martin meets with tragedy. Her intended, a soldier serving in India and the son from a neighboring estate back in England, is neither gentle or kind to Emmaline in her circumstances but remains stubbornly adamant they proceed with the marriage.

Having survived loss and societal ostracism Emmaline is not inclined to proceed with the marriage and seeks the assistance of another outsider, Julian Sinclair. Julian is described on the back cover as "the dangerous and dazzling heir to the Duke of Auburn." While Julian is tolerated due to his wealth and position, he has no illusions about people's opinions of him. Unaware of the particulars of Emma's circumstances, Julian is cynical and suspicious when approached by what appears to be a spoiled British debutante for help to get back to England.

The story begins in India amid the Indian uprising of 1857. Beautifully written with wonderfully layered and sweeping historical anecdotes, I just plain loved this book. With Ms. Duran's words I was able to picture the time, the place and horror of Emmaline's circumstance. I mourned loss and separation with both Julian and Emmaline. Through it all Ms. Duran's words flowed over me like music and poetry.

This is definitely a circumstance where an e-book could not possibly capture how I feel when I pick up this paperback look at the cover, browse through the pages, and am immediately delivered back into the moment and time of my reading experience.

If you love richly textured historical romance told with obvious love and care, you will adore this book.

My Grade = A

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Sunday, December 06, 2009

It's the most wonderful time of the year...

Like most people, I love the fall and winter for the holidays they hold. Since my social life is pretty family centric this is a win-win. However, each year I'm challenged to focus on what is really important and not get "carried away". Fortunately for me I have an all-purpose, works-every-time, portable conscience barometer for just this purpose. I call it "GG".

There is nothing like hearing that deeply drawn breath before he utters one magic word. It's our own personal code. Depending on how extreme or slippery the slope, meaning my mood swings, it may go like this...




*eye roll* Babe.

Now Babe...

Since our Christmas shopping is almost complete I've heard all of these already.

In other news...

1. With the busy-ness of the holidays I haven't read much and obviously haven't been blogging or blogging hopping much either. It's that time of year where there just aren't enough hours in the day.

2. Beanie has entered some sort of stand-up contest at a bar. There's a purse of $500. Since he just called me yesterday on his way to work, I don't have any details. When I do I'll post 'em since a couple people mentioned interest in going to see him.

3. Shmoo has one more week of his EMT class and then his final next Saturday. He's nervous. It's been an intense 14 weeks. After he passes the class he still has to take the National Registry. Not a guy who likes school much, I'm so proud of how hard he's worked and studied. If you have a spare prayer or candle, keep him in your thoughts.

4. We still have no heat. Can you believe that? The story is too long and boring to go into, but I will say there has to be a more efficient way to put in a new unit and convert to gas (we were all electric) than the circus we've gone through this last month. Holy moly! Cuh-ray-zee!

5. I can't believe the first week of December is over and my house is only half decorated.

Well I'm off to wrap and get packages ready for mailing. I hope things aren't too crazy in your life and you are enjoying the holiday season.

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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

No book list yet...

I'm almost done with my book list for November. Almost. However they tell me "almost" only counts with grenades and horseshoes. Who makes up these rules anyway?

Got appointments after work tonight so I'm guessing Wednesday or Thursday before I get it all together and posted. Beanie will be home for a short visit Thursday night and we are finishing our Christmas decorating on Wednesday...

Oblivion isn't such a bad address.

Don't knock it until you try it.