Monday, March 26, 2012

Recent Read

Celebrity in Death by JD Robb

Why this one: ‘Cause it’s JD Robb, ‘nuff said

Steam Level: Eve and Roarke make each other very happy shall we say.

Blurb: Lieutenant Eve Dallas is no party girl, but she's managing to have a reasonably good time at the celebrity-packed bash celebrating The Icove Agenda, a film based on one of her famous cases. It's a little spooky seeing the actress playing her, who looks almost like her long-lost twin. Not as unsettling, though, as seeing the actress who plays Peabody drowned in the lap pool on the roof of the director's luxury building.

Now she's at the center of a crime scene-and Eve is more than ready to get out of her high heels and strap on her holster and step into the role she was born to play: cop.

My Thoughts: I HEART Roarke. I’m not sure if I’ve ever come right out and said it. Others may
rhapsodize over Jamie Fraser, but it’s Roarke all the way for me. I’ve never read about a hero who ‘gets’ the heroine as much as Roarke’ gets’ Eve. Of course he’s had 34 books now for that to happen – but still, I think he’s understood her from the beginning way back in Naked in Death. There are so many reasons why I love this series, this many books in when I get tired of most series after only four and my love for Roarke is a big reason. I love Eve too of course, though she still scares the heck out of me. She has mellowed considerably over the course of the series, but still, if I were to commit a murder and she hauled me into interview, I would cave like a wet Kleenex.

This latest installment is much mellower than some of her previous books considering they are murder mysteries that is. The victim is a real nasty piece of work so we readers don’t mind that she has met her demise. This particular book is far different from some stories where our hearts hurt for both the victim and the families. But in Celebrity, even Peabody wishes she had had a chance to beat the crap out of the victim before she ‘bought the farm’ so to speak. And this is PEABODY readers, Peabody, who comes from a family of Free Agers. And she is serious.

Of course part of the reason is the murder victim. KT Parrish is her. You see if you’ve been following along with the series, Nadine Furst wrote a best seller about one of Eve’s cases, the Icove case. And now they are just wrapping up filming a movie of it. Each of our beloved In Death crew has an actor portraying them and this makes for some nice levity. The ‘other’ Dallas, a very sweet woman in involved in a secret affair with the ‘other’ McNab. The ‘other’ Dr. Mira is a real potty mouth and the ‘other’ Roarke is an affable yet dim witted man slut drunk. The ‘other’ Peabody is the victim and a truly vile person she was. And as you can imagine, the more Eve and Peabody dig into her background and find more slimy things about her, the more upset Peabody is that such a person is portraying her.

There is a second victim in this book but as the murder happens ‘of screen’ so to speak and we never get this person’s POV, the murder isn’t as upsetting as it could have been if we readers were attached to this character

There is also a scene where we get a glimpse into a hair raising, rather tragic incident from Roarke’s past. As noted also by Eve, we really don’t see many details into his past, not from Roarke himself so I found this a bit insightful and appreciated.

I’ve always found it hard to put into words what I find so very appealing about this series, besides Roarke that is. But it’s the quiet moments when there is such a connection between characters whoever they may be. There was a scene in a previous book that encapsulated what is so special. Dallas and Whitney are discussing a case while both are watching as a fish swims around in a tank. It was a gift from Whitney’s wife and both are puzzled as to why she would buy such a thing. It’s moments like that that keeps me coming back book after book after book. It’s
like hearing a few chords of music that are so beautiful that you are transcended for a moment or two. That moment in Celebrity occurs early in the morning. Eve has just woken up from a bad dream; not the horrific nightmares she used to suffer from, but rather a dream about her mother where she knows she’s dreaming. She wakes up, not frantic as with her nightmares, but still a bit shaky. Roarke holds her and tells her gently shh and is just very loving to her. I know this happens many times, but like just a few chords of a song, this moment just made me melt.

There was one thing I got kind of a kick out of. Back when JD Robb first started this series, she was way ahead of her time. I’m thinking specifically of the ‘links, which today of course are cell phones or tablets or whatever. There was no such thing as texting so of course the characters didn’t do it. But I noted that a few times Dallas and Roarke would text each other. I dunno – that just kind of made me chuckle.

There was also a delightful scene between Peabody and McNab after the ‘other’ Peabody was found murdered. A bit of development in their relationship if you will.

I even found Mavis tolerable in this book. I don’t really care for either her or Nadine,
the only characters I don’t really like in this whole series.

This wasn’t my very favourite In Death book. For some reason I like to see more tension
between Roarke and Eve, but this was pretty darn close. Oddly enough, it was almost restful for an In Death book and I like that. I like that very much.

Grade: 4.75 out of 5

Friday, March 23, 2012

Real Life Update

I debated on whether to do this post but then thought ‘what the heck. I’ve posted about my fear of mail, my travails in buying underwear, my rather naughty lack of sending in taxes and many other things over the years.

Ever since Ron died, I’ve slowly been going to hell in a hand basket health wise. As I live alone, there is no one around for me to account to. If I feel like eating a bag of chips for dinner, no one wonders if that’s such a good idea except myself and I’m not so good at listening to me when I want chips. In addition, there’s been no one around to kick me in the butt to get up and move it so I’ve been a terrible terrible couch potato.

When I broke my leg, I knew in the back of my mind that I should be giving up smoking and that was the impetus that I needed to get me to quit and I also knew in the same place in the back of my mind that I needed to start taking care of my VERY neglected health concerns. The first kick came when my sister was diagnosed with something pretty darn serious. I won’t go into details as it’s not my story, but enough to say that now she is doing very, very well. The second kick came when my other sister was diagnosed with something very similar almost a month ago. She also is doing very, very well, but both of them gave me that proverbial kick to start taking charge of my health.

I just recently went in for one of “those” tests, my first one in about 15 years and things looked wonky. So I’m in the process of further testing. I don’t know the results yet, but it might keep me home this summer and *sob* miss the RWA conference. By the time I do know the results it may be too late to start making plans.

And as if that weren’t enough, while getting blood tested, it was discovered that I have high blood sugar levels, very high. I don’t have to take insulin, but I do have to take oral medication for it. And between those things, I have now been completely kicked. in my butt! Time to take action.

I joined a gym and now have my very own “BOB” (those who watch The Biggest Loser know who I mean) that I see 3 x’s a week. They asked if I would be willing to be a before and after gal for promotion services and I said sure. The more accountability I have, the more accountable I’ll have to be. I started off at 3 visits a week, now I’m up to 5. TBecause I said sure, they are throwing in nutrition classes they usually charge for. I plan on becoming their poster girl, heh, heh. There’s not a whole lot I can do yet, I really let myself fall to pieces and “Baby Steps” is my mantra, but each time I go, I’m getting a little bit fitter. I had been, up until I joined, out of breath when I climbed the stairs.

I’ve also started eating very healthy! My body is missing those potato chips I used to use as fuel.

Instead of an entire bag of chips – yes I could do that quite easily – I’ve replaced them with 10 almonds. Carrots are becoming my friend as well as that lettuce. I’m reading the sides of cereal boxes and so far Honey Nut Cheerios is my favourite new/old cereal followed by the Banana flavoured ones. Even just eating breakfast is a big change. Silly, silly, bad me used to fast until lunch time and then overcompensate throughout the rest of the day with really bad things – like potato chips. I would tell myself that it wasn’t so bad since I was eating the low salt, but come on – who was I really fooling.

I ordered a Yonanas from one of my favourite places to shop – The Shopping Channel. I haven’t got it yet, but if it works the way they demonstrate on TV, it will be a great way to get fruit and soothe that ice cream craving at the same time.

And water – I can’t forget about water! The old me hardly took in much fluids at all. And what I did drink was mostly tea and coffee with some Coke or Pepsi thrown in. At the end of many a day amongst the various thoughts of the day, I would think I should have had more to drink. One of the tests I had to take gave poor results and the person doing them said it was a good possibility I was dehydrated. So now I have one cup of tea before work, after I drink some water first, and one cup of coffee I pick up on the way. Other than that I drink nothing but water. Lots and lots of water until I feel like I slosh when I walk. I have a wonderful water bottle I got at one of the Conferences from Carina Press with me at all times now, whether it’s at the gym, at my desk at work or on the coffee table. I don't think I've slept all the way through the night since I started this water thing and the bathroom and I are good friends now. My own BOB wants me to drink even more water, but considering I used to drink next to none, I'm working up to it.

I also downloaded a couple of apps to keep track of my eating habits and exercise that I set up to update on both Facebook and Twitter when I work out, you may have noticed them. It’s a small amount of time at the moment, but will get longer as I go on. The more I have to account for my actions I figure, the harder it will be to give up.

I’m trying to be realistic in my goals and am giving myself a year to get to the place weight wise where I want to be and if I lose 2 pounds a week, unlike those on The Biggest Loser, I will be quite satisfied. But then I won’t know as I don’t really plan on weighing myself a whole lot. The most important thing for me is to get my breath back and have longer endurance. Weight loss, while I’m not going to deny wanting it like anything, is the second motivator not the first. So it’s going to be how lose or tight clothes feel on me; when I start going down sizes that will be the real prize as far as weight loss goes.

So now I’ve put this out to the world – not that everyone in it will read this, so I have a huge group to hold myself accountable to. I’m rewarding myself along the way. The first one was the first day I went to the gym so I rewarded myself with some jewelry, my biggest weakness next to plain potato chips. I’m hoping for a big reward from my health conscious son. I was telling him I need an IPod to listen to while working out. He said if I kept it up he would get me one. I don’t know if he will remember and if I were a good mother I wouldn’t insist on it. But what the heck – he said so I’m going to hold him to it! The ultimate reward I’m giving to myself is a trip to Australia next year, hopefully to a romancewriter/fan convention they hold there. At this point in my life it would be a waste of time since I’m so out of shape I couldn’t do a lot of the things I would want to do. But next year baby I’m there! And maybe I’ll meet a nice Australian guy


I woke up suddenly with a thought and clarification. For those who don't watch The Biggest Loser, Bob is a personal trainer. It's a personal trainer I work with 3 times a week. I did not mean the other thing BOB could mean. *laughing*. That would be giving TMI.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Second time - March TBR Challenge

I have failed fellow readers, I have failed. After being what turned out to be a day late and the wrong challenge that gave me almost a week to get this month’s CORRECT challenge done. And I didn’t get ‘er done.

I tried, I honestly tried, but no offense to the books and at another day at another time, they might have worked for me, but I couldn’t get into the ones I did attempt.

The first one Wild Cat by Jennifer Ashley just didn’t grab my attention that much. I’ve really enjoyed the first several in this series, but I just hit a spot where I thought the hero should have been grateful to the heroine and he wasn’t and I moved on. Now I fully expect I will go back to this one, but just not in time for this month’s challenge.

Having failed with Wildcat, I moved onto The Lady and the Libertine by Bonnie Vanak and again I had trouble getting into it. I quickly add that it wasn’t the book, I think it was my mood since I’ve read a few in this series and very much enjoyed them. More and more I’m becoming a mood reader though and I just wasn’t in the mood for historical during the past week. I know I will go back to it though.

And finally, I tried reading Hunter of Shadows by Nancy Gideon thinking for sure this would do the trick. Alas, it didn’t. I’ve loved all the previous books in this series but again I think it was my mood, because this one just didn’t appeal to me. I think I may be in a bit of a mini slump, at least until I stumble on the book that will wake up my sleepy mojo.

So that’s it, I gave it a good try, but just didn’t make it with any I tried.

Now what I can do, so it’s not a complete waste of a visit, is do a review of a couple of books that fit the bill, series wise. I read them in February so I think they are close to counting. The first up

Bad Boy’s Do by Victoria Dahl.

Steam Level: very nicely warm

Blurb: Olivia Bishop is no fun. That's what her ex-husband said. And that's what her smart bob and glasses imply. So with her trademark determination, Olivia sets out to remake her life. She's going to spend time with her girlfriends and not throw it all away for some man. But when an outing with her book club leads her to a brewery taproom, the dark-haired beauty realizes that trouble—in the form of sexy Jamie Donovan—may be too tempting to avoid.

Jamie Donovan doesn't mean to be bad. Sure, the wild streak in his wicked green eyes has lured the ladies before. Now it's time to grow up. He's even ready for a serious romance. But how can hat be when Olivia, the only right woman he has ever met, already has him pegged as wrong?

My Thoughts: Actually, I’m surprised I read this one. I got it at the same time as the first in the series, Good Girl’s Don’t. and I got the third one, Real Men Will, very shortly after that. I think I had coupons or something. But the reason I was somewhat surprised that I read Bad Boys Do is that I really didn’t care for the first book. I disliked the heroine quite intensely and neither of the brothers endeared themselves to me either. So I don’t know what came over me to read this one – must have been a Contemporary Mood I guess.

Whatever it was, I am SO glad I listened. I really enjoyed this second one. It was a complete change from Good Girls Don’t. We find out in this one that Jamie isn’t the screw up he appears to be in the first book. Rather, he just doesn’t bother justifying his reasons for doing things and the situation he found himself in from the first book, was him trying to do the right thing for his family and a nasty piece causing trouble.

Still, Jamie is a people kind of guy, working in the bar of the family owned winery. He has quite a reputation as a ‘good time guy’ but much of it is exaggerated. He is quite taken with Olivia, the heroine, when he first meets her. Olivia had a bad marriage and as a result, keeps pretty much to herself. She was persuaded by her friends to attend the book club (in name only) being held at Donovan’s, where she first meets Jamie. They run into each other again when he takes a community class she is teaching to learn more about the restaurant business. See, Jamie has big plans even though he doesn’t think his older, bossy brother will be interested. But he takes courses
anyway. He proposes that he and Olivia do some bartering; he will teach her how to be fun and she will help him with his restaurant plans.

Of course, this being a romance, against both their plans, they start developing real feelings for each other and what I liked, Jamie is the more willing to admit it.

I loved both Jamie and Olivia in this book. One of the big pluses is it’s one of my favourite storylines, older woman/ younger man. There wasn’t a huge difference in their ages, but enough to make me rub my hands in delight. Even the annoying sister Tessa was easier to swallow. Big brother Eric was still a pill but since I already had his book on stand-by, I knew I would be reading to see what made him tick.

Jamie has been keeping something very painful to himself and it was nice to see his trust with Olivia in being able to share it with her. This was a Most Enjoyable Read.

Grade: 4.75 out of 5

Real Men Will by Victoria Dahl

Steam Level: yep, steamy!

Blurb: It was meant to be a one-night stand. One night of passion. Scorching-hot. Then Beth Cantrell and Eric Donovan were supposed to go their separate ways. That's the only reason he lied about his name, telling her he was really his wild younger brother. Hiding his identity as the conservative Donovan. The "good one."
But passion has its own logic, and Eric finds he can't forget the sable-haired beauty with whom he shared a night of love. When Beth discovers that Eric has lied, however, she knows he can't be trusted. Her mind tells her to forget the blue-eyed charmer. If only every fiber of her being didn't burn to call him back.

My Thoughts: Again, like the second book, I enjoyed this one ever so much better than the first
one. Eric is to put it mildly, a stick in the mud. He doesn’t give much leeway to his family, especially his younger brother Jamie. So it’s somewhat surprising that before the story begins he has had a one night stand with Beth Cantrel, the manager of an “adult” store. But because he’s a it of that stick, he gives out his brother’s name rather than his own thinking they would never meet

So of course they do, and because he told Beth his name was Jamie, once the confusion is cleared up, he has a couple of pretty pissed off people, first off Beth, who deservedly has issues about being deceived and also Jamie who is both angry and hurt that his brother thinks he’s that kind of guy. And then there is the fact that he’s still in a committed relationship with Olivia.

But despite being not at all pleased with him, Beth is still wildly attracted to him and they agree to carry the one night past the one night. But they both have misconceptions about the other that cause me a few chuckles. Eric thinks that Beth is quite the experienced gal seeing as she gives sex demonstrations and writes a sex advice column. But Beth is only one of a number of contributors and I found it adorable that Eric thinks she’s such a wild woman. And Eric himself is going through major life changes. He’s been the big over authoritative brother all his life, but it’s not a role he ever wanted and he’s unsure of where he fits in with the changes going on with his family. He wants to be supportive but his relationship particularly with Jamie has been so antagonistic for years, neither is sure how to deal with each other.

As with Bad Boys Do, I really enjoyed this final chapter in the Donovan series. I love seeing a stuffed shirt thrown for a loop. And Beth was not the person we thought she was at the beginning. She has her own baggage and this made her an appealing character to root for.

I suppose anyone wanting to read this series of books might want to start with Tessa’s story just to get to know the family, but keeping in mind, at least for me, it wasn’t the best. But the next two more than make up for the disappointment of the first one. They have convinced me that Victoria Dahl is an author of contemporaries worth following.

Grade: 4.50 out of 5

So there you have it. I read two books that were part of a series that were in the TBR pile, but I didn't quite read them in the month we were supposed to.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

TBR Challenge - March

Um, ah, um - just ignore this as the March TBR challenge and it will now revert to a regular Recent Read. It seems I got the wrong date AND the wrong challenge. It seems that this months's TBR day is March 21 and the challenge is catching up on a series book.

Back to our regularly scheduled program


Marrying the Captain by Carla Kelly

I know, I’m a day late on this one. But as LMFAO sings, I work out. Bad excuse, I know. Another delay is I only finished my Challenge book last evening.

Why this one: I’ve long heard wonderful things about this author but though I’ve got a number of her books, they still languish in the TBR pile – the very purpose of this challenge, reading them – so who better to choose for this month’s New to Me Author than Ms. Kelly. I picked this particular book as I love the cover, yes shallow I know.

Steam Level: Warm

Blurb: Ever since her father tried to sell her as a mistress to the highest bidder, Eleanor Massie has chosen to live in poverty. Her world changes overnight when Captain Oliver Worthy shows up at her struggling inn.

Despite herself, Nana is drawn to her handsome guest....

Oliver planned to stay in Plymouth only long enough to report back to Lord Ratliffe--about Nana.
But he soon senses that Lord Ratliffe is up to something, and Oliver will do anything to keep this courageous, beautiful woman safe--even marry her!

My thoughts: Ah the curse of the damned with faint praise. I liked this one. It reminded me somewhat of the Marion Chesney books I read many years ago, though it’s been so many years since I read one of hers that I don’t know if they are similar or not. But still it reminded me of the book I read when I first came back to reading romance.

Both Eleanor, or Nana as she is called, and Oliver are very nice people. Oliver is a Navy captain on a short shore leave who was asked by a superior to check in on his illegitimate daughter who helps run a small struggling in with her grandmother. Oliver reluctantly agrees, though he is
instantly smitten when he sees her picture. He thought he was smitten with her picture, but when he gets to the inn, he is even more taken Nana and over times begins to reconsider his resolution to never marry and subject his wife to a life time of worry and sorrow. Oliver is a good guy. He’s not really a standout kind of character like a reformed bad boy or anything. I
did appreciate that he was the son of a parson rather than a member of the
nobility. But he’s honest and noble and honourable.

Nana is equally nice. She falls quickly for Oliver as he does her, but thinks he is above her
because of her illegitimacy. She is quite pragmatic about this. I liked her because, like Oliver, she is honest and forthright. She behaves as regular people do. Though quite straightened in circumstances, she isn’t bitter. She does what she has to do in order to help
and survive even if it includes selling her hair.

This wasn’t a thrill a minute kind of book, but rather a nice comfort read about two good people who work better as a whole than without each other. I’m glad I finally got around to reading a book by Carla Kelly. I can see why she is so popular even though my socks weren’t knocked off.

Grade: 3.5 out of 5