Thursday, June 30, 2005

Empty Nest and Pirates - UPDATE

Come Monday, my husband and I will officially again be empty nesters. Our oldest son is moving out. The youngest one has been on his own for some time but the oldest one ran into financial difficulties and of course he came home until he got things sorted out. What was supposed to be a three month stay turned into a year and a half. I love my sons dearly, I really do, but at ages 25 and 27, they really should not be at home with their parents. This became abundantly clear to me last week. I was copying a file onto a disk so I could take it into work and add things to it on my break. I just picked up a disc that was lying next to the computer, copied the spreadsheet and got ready to leave. Just before that I thought I should check the A: drive to see if it copied all right. There were a few files on it I didn’t recognize and thought I would open them up to see what they were. Imagine my astonishment when they turned out to be pictures of a half naked girl. Well, I knew they weren’t my husbands – he has no idea how to copy files. That of course left the son. I deleted the spreadsheet popped open the A: drive and carefully put the disc back where it was. He is 26 and 11 months. This was on Thursday. On Sunday, I was making dinner when he came in the house with a girl behind him. When I looked at her I realized it wasn’t exactly the first time I met her. I just about said “oh, you’re the naked girl” but luckily I managed to keep my mouth closed. Yep, it’s time this little bird leaves the nest.


It's a good thing I laugh at life's ironies. Son number 2 was over this morning - it's a holiday here in Canda. My oldest son had been living on his own for a while with a roomate who skipped out on him - thus the financial troubles. Son number 2 moved out a month before son number 2 (hell, Brent = son # 1, Ryan = son #2) A month after Ryan moved out, Brent moved back for his extended stay. We had a month of no kids and for the first time in memory, the testesterone equaled the estrogen. When Ryan dropped in this morning, it was to inform us that he needed to move back for a while. He is having roomate issues and is saving for his own house. So, this empty nest will only be empty for a couple of weeks.

I read on Romancing the Blog how they were extending an invitation to guest readers. I decided to give it a shot. I couldn’t think of anything to write about for the longest time and then finally something came to me. I had been in a reading slump so why not write about that. I quickly typed something up because the deadline was approaching and got ready to send it out.

Now in order to appreciate this story, you must know I am completely and utterly useless about some areas of the computer and internet and pasting pictures and that kind of thing. Some time ago our Microsoft Outlook denied me access and I haven’t got it fixed, mainly because this is an area I’m a dufus on. I can, however get access to my email through our provider – the cable guys. The only problem with this is because my husband pays the bill, all emails going out this way appear to be coming from him. Which is a hoot because he’s about as good at email stuff as I am. If I'm sending an email to someone for the first time, I usually put a disclaimer in the subject line saying this email is NOT coming from Derwood, it's really Kristie. Back to the story.
I obediently copied my “column” into the email, ran it through spell check and sent if off, barely making the deadline. It wasn’t until the next day, it occurred to me that it went out under the name Derwood Stonehaven (name has been changed to protect the poor innocent). I completely forgot to say who I was, or add any kind of disclamier. I won’t copy the whole column, although I’m sure I’ve blown it for sure, but there were a couple of things I (Derwood) wrote, that when I think about the PTB at RTB, believing this came from Durwood crack me up.

This one for example:
“Being a fan of the rollicking pirate adventure genre, I think of a book slump as winds that die out on the ocean. The seas calm, ships are left becalmed on the ocean seas, unable to continue their journey until the winds pick up again.”

Or this one:
“Reading is essential to my psyche.”

Or then there is this priceless one:
“After years of reading all kinds of fiction and non-fiction alike, I have settled in very happily to romance. At this point I’m not really interested in exploring other reading types.”

And finally this one:
“ The slump is usually caused by the letdown of a run of very good books, like the adrenalin rush leaving my body after a strenuous workout”

So, if the judges at Romancing the Blog happen to read an entry from (Durwood Stonehaven) and think “this guy is wacked” he really isn’t. He’s just married to a computer dufus wife. And Durwood wouldn't read a romance if it was the last book on earth.

And hopefully, someone from there will take pity on me and give me another chance.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Author websites - And "keeping Maili amused"

I love authors websites. I love visiting them. That’s why I enjoyed Maili’s blog. I visited some of the ones she mentioned and already, I found a few books I’m interested in reading. I can spend hours on author web sites. I particularly enjoy reading about their backlists. One of the features I most enjoy but not many have, is the little tidbits and trivia that went into writing their books. Laura Lee Guhrke, Jo Goodman and Susan Kay Law all have wonderful little tales about what went into the writing of their books. And covers, I love seeing the covers of backlists. The perfect ones are when they have both printable backlists and cover backlists. Another feature of particular interest to me when visiting author web sites is their upcoming books. I like to see what they have planned as much in advance as they can post it. Even if there is no title or cover or even publishing date yet, I still like to see what’s up. It helps to build anticipation and it also reassures me that they do have more coming up. It is so disappointing to invest time and heart into an author and then discovering she is no longer writing. I know this happens and real life takes over, still as a fan of their work, it can be a bummer.
Updating web sites is vital. Even if there is nothing much happening, it’s nice for the author to update their web site and say there "Hi, I'm her but nothing much is happening. At least we fans know they are still out there wanting to keep in touch. If an author is going to take the time and energy to have a web site, keep it current and up to date. If not then I almost wish they would remove it. There are a number that I visit and when I get there, nothing has changed
in 2 or 3 years. That can be frustrating.


"to keep Maili amused"

since I stole this idea from Mail, here's a website she might like. It's a love we both share

I don't know if you watch this show or not, but I am totally addicted - and it's on tonight

My vote would be the mane

Whenever I get bored, I think of changing my hair

Ah, those stupid things we did when we were young

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Longing for yesterday

There was a post recently on a message board I often visit with a two point question. The first question dealt with the vanishing romance books on the bookshelves and the second point dealt with the lack of interesting historical romances being published today. This is about the second part of the question.

I love Historical romance. It's the genre that gave me my love of romance books BUT the Historical Romances in particular English setting being published today, except for the increasingly rare cases are not the same as the historicals that were published a few years ago. Another poster said today’s historicals are boring. I can’t say that I find them boring as much as I find them completely forgettable. Many of the older historicals are unforgettable. Even though I read some of them years ago, if you were to ask me the basic storyline I would have very little problem coming up with it. Compare for example the books written by Celeste Bradley to Loretta Chase. I’ve read all the books in Ms. Bradley’s spy series and while I enjoyed them, for the life of me I can’t remember the storyline or the characters six months, even three months later. If I read the back blurb, if I rack my brain, I’ll remember something, but it hurts to do that. On the other hand, while I haven’t read Lord of Scoundrels for a couple of years now, I can still vividly recall the glove scene between Dain and Jessica, the scene where she gives him the icon, the boxing match and so many other unforgettable moments. Early Mary Jo Putney books, Julie Garwood (although she hasn’t stood the test of time with me, I still vividly recall many of her books). Just out of curiosity, I went to my spreadsheet, picked a random year over 5 years ago and here is a list of some of the books published that year:

No Sweeter Heaven – Katherine Kingsley
Then Came You – Lisa Kleypas
Whisper of Roses – Teresa Mederios
Thunder and Roses – Mary Jo Putney
Dangerous – Amanda Quick
Deception – Amanda Quick
Lady Defiant – Suzanne Robinson
East of Forever – Christina Skye
A Rose at Midnight – Anne Stuart
Shadow Dance – Anne Stuart
Once in a Blue Moon – Penelope Williamson

The year – 1993

Many of these books are considered classics and are still highly sought after today in 2005, twelve years later. How many books published in the past couple of years will still have the staying power of some of the above books? Not nearly that many I’m thinking.

I know there are a couple of reasons very little stands out these days. First of all is the quality of writing. It just isn’t there for the most part. Words and descriptions and character development have gone to the wayside in a lot of cases. Instead, they have been replaced ad nasuem by stories of spies, of dukes, of marquis, of rakes. Dain in FoS was a rake, but at least his character was developed. A lot of readers may not care for him but I bet they remember him. The exact same can be said for Jessica.
Quick question, no cheating, who was the hero of Bradley’s The Spy (2003)? Me, I have no idea. I know I read it. I can look it up and if I read the storyline, I can probably remember, but off the top of my head – nada. Next question. Who was the hero of Flowers From the Storm by Laura Kinsale (1992)?
Another major factor in the decline of the historical is imitation. I know it is the sincerest form of flattery, but how many spies, rakes, Dukes of Dullsbridge, Marquis’ of Mundanehaven, Earls of Boredom are we expected to read and remember? I have just about reached my saturation point. I can count of the fingers of one hand, how many English historicals I can still count on to remember a year from now.I want this to change. I want to remember books published today five, ten years from now. But I don’t know if it will.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

More of my all time favourites

I want to say that even though these next books aren’t in the top ten, they just as easily could be. It’s a very miniscule difference that separates any of them in the top 100. I could reread one and it would jump right into the top ten. So without further adieu, the next group in my list

Dream Fever, Katherine Sutcliffe – This book stars Nicholas Sabre as a tortured loner sent to New Zealand when he killed an aristocrat in duel. He is tricked into marrying Summer O’Neal, herself running from trouble. He doesn’t want to love Summer but her joie de vie pulls him out of his dark and lonely life. Nicholas is a tortured hero, not always easy to like. There is one scene that many may not like in these PC days but I found it very powerful and I love this book.

Jackson Rule , Dinah McCall – This is a story of Jackson Rule, a young man who after spending years in jail, comes to work for Rebecca Hill, a preachers daughter, when he can’t find work anywhere else due to his prison record. Rebecca sees something in this tortured soul and they fall deeply in love even as Jackson fights to deny his feelings. If you like a tortured soul, you will love Jackson Rule. I think this one has recently been rereleased under Sharon Sala

Sweet Lullabye, Lorraine Heath – This book has the best Beta Hero I have ever read. Jake Burnett has loved Rebecca from afar, but believes he never has a chance with her. Then when Rebecca’s father offers Jake a pregnant Rebecca as wife, Jake marries her and moves away. This book is so incredibly poignant I cried when I read it. A book very rarely moves me to tears, but this one does. I miss Ms. Heath's westerns more than I can say.

Portrait in Death, JD Robb - This is the Robb book where we finally get to see Roarke showing some vulnerability. He is always so strong and so there for Eve. Finally, we get to see him needing Eve

Take A Chance on Me, Susan Donavan - Thomas Tobin a district attorney who frequently works undercover inherits Hairy the Chinesse Crested dog. Thomas is forced to visit vet Emma Jenkins for help with Hairy's neurosis. This is a wonderfully funny laugh out loud book and even if you don't live Thomas and Emma, I dare you not to fall in love with Hairy. I did and I don't like dogs.

Looking for Lacey, Linda Francis Lee - Bobby McIntyre is a football quarterback recovering from an injury back in his home town where he owns a sports bar. Lacey Wright is his uptight single mother employee. At first it would seem these two have nothing in common but when the layers are peeled back neither are what they seem. Even Mrs Giggles likes this one - I think.

Texas Destiny, Lorraine Heath - Another wonderful book from Lorraine Heath, this is the first book in trilogy of three brothers. This one is the story of Houston. He is forced to bring his brothers mail order bride home when his older brother is hurt. Along the way Houston, a loner who was seriously injured during the Civil Way and Amelia, his brother's promised wife fall deeply in love. Did I mention how much I miss her westerns? None of her current crop of historicals have even made it close to my top 100, but her westerns are beautiful.

Absolute Trouble, Michelle Jerrott(Albert now) - This is the authors first book and she had me as a fan at the first chapter. Dulcinea Queen is a cop forced to retire when she is injured on duty trying to take down a crook. Julien Langlois, who is after the same bad guy is posing as a male stripper. When this Cajun, is forced to hide out with Dulcie, sparks fly. I love the "dance" he does for her. This book is hot and this book is steamy and I love this book

Conor's Way, Laura Lee Guhrke - I just finished reading this book again (and again and again) Conor Braningan is an Irish boxer who was beaten bery badly when he refused to "throw" a fight. He is rescued by Olivia Maitland. He is slowly and very much against his will, drawn into the struggles Olivia and her three daughters face. Conor is a hero beyond words. I simply adore this book. It should not be missed!!

Morning Glory, LaVayrle Spencer - Will Parker, Will Parker, Will Parker. Oh what a wonderful hero. This is my all time favourite book by Ms. Spencer and I think this one is a classic romance in it's finest form. Will applies for the job of handyman for Ellie. These two lonely people find love and acceptance with each other. If you've never tried LaVyrle Spencer, there is no better book than this to start with.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

I thought of a game

kind of like word association because I'm bored and feeling silly. I'll name five well known authors and you have to say the first book that comes to mind. You can't take time to think. It may not be your favourite but it's the first one that comes to mind. Just pass if you haven't read that author

Laura Kinsale

Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Jennifer Crusie

Linda Howard

Mary Jo Putney

Now think up five more for your own blog if you want.

(I'm trying to think up ideas for wish lists)

Monday, June 20, 2005

My All-time top ten

One of the good things about having read romance books for so long and so quickly is whenever I can't think of something else to blog about, I can blog about favourite authors recent reads, old read or top reads. Today's offering is my all time top ten favourite books.

1. Dreaming of You ,Lisa Kleypas - The reason? Derek Craven. I also like Sara quite a bit

2. Lord of Scoundrels ,Loretta Chase Dain is really just a big old teddy bear at heart and Jessica knows how to treat him. She's my kind of heroine. There's a reason this one always ends up so high on so many favourite lists.

3. After the Night, Linda Howard – This one I rate so high for the washroom scene alone. Sexy, funny and anyone who’s read it knows what I’m talking about

4. One Summer, Karen Robards – By all rights this one shouldn’t be so high. The mystery was only so so, but I adored the love story between Johnny and Rachel. One test is if I remember the characters names years later and I definitely remember these two.

5. Mr. Perfect, Linda Howard – The banter between Janie Bright and Sam Donavan is sharp, witty and delightful. This is the only book I have both in HC and PB and I plan on keeping both

6. Naked in Death, J.D. Robb - Although it’s hard to narrow down a favourite In Death book, this is the one that launched the series and I always go back to.

7. Whispers in Heaven, Candice Proctor – Jean Mason’s review (linked) at TRR says it beautifully what makes this book so special

Love Alters Not, Patricia Veryan – Anthony Ferrar is such a wonderful, tortured yet noble hero and I adore Mitten, the heroine. This one has it all (including a great cover)

9. Once and Always, Judith McNaught – Another surprising top ten. Jason is a bit of a jerk and Victoria is a bit too perfect, but still this is one I simply loved

10. Ride the Fire, Pamela Clare – I’ve blogged about this one recently. It’s the only book I’ve read in the past couple of years that has broken through to make it in the top ten.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

If you really think about it

If you really think about it some of the expressions and actions that sound so good in romance novels wouldn’t really survive in the real world. I mentioned in my last blog about nostrils flaring. Then I got to thinking. This is a favourite in romance books
“His nostrils flared as he looked on her with hunger in his eyes” Hands up. How many of us have actually seen nostrils flare. I have but only on commercials where they have a close up of some weird guy moving them in time to the commercial jingle. While it sounds all ooohhhy in a romance novel, would we really notice if the nostrils of the men in our life flared. I think if I even noticed my husband’s nostril flare, I would think he was coming down with a cold or about to sneeze. And the hunger part too. I can’t say if I ever really noticed a “hungry” look in my husband’s eyes when he feels frisky. Of course, we’ve been married over 30 years now and maybe that’s too long now to notice that hungry look. Although I know he is “hungry” for the Leafs to win the Stanley Cup if hockey ever resumes. I guess I might have been replaced by a little rubber puck.
Another one that amuses me when I think hard enough about it how the hero always manages to lift one eyebrow. “His eyebrow quirked as he looked at her in amusement”. It’s never both eyebrows, it’s always just the one. Now I think the ability to quirk one eyebrow is one of those things not many of us are born with. Kind of like the ability to curl your tongue. My mother could do it, lift one eyebrow, I'm not sure about the tongue curling, but she practiced for hours when she was young. She used to tell my sisters and me that. How hard she would practice in front of the mirror. I think it was one of her proudest accomplishments, learning how to do that. A few times she would sit us down and try and teach us how. She was an odd woman but very dear. Only one of us managed to learn how and it wasn’t me. Although the sister who did learn how quirks her eyebrow at me and it is most annoying. This is the the sister who doesn't read romance novels and she usually does it when I try and discuss them with her. It was hard enough for me to learn how to do the Vulcan “live long and prosper” hand greeting. (I grew up watching the original Star Trek). Spock could do the one eyebrow thing very well though. And the greeting. Talented guy was that Spock, but emotionally very cold. So, did most of our heroes practice this trick when they were kids in the hopes that one day they would be amused enough by some future heroine to do it?
I think there is a lot of romance stuff I haven’t examined in close detail. I’ll have to do some more thinking on it.

I've been renewed and my leaves have been watered

I am obsessive compulsive when I am trying to track down a book that I’ve decided I simply can not live without. There’s an adrenalin rush. The book finding radar goes on full alert. I carefully make my plans to visit all the used bookstores around me, study my route, time my schedule. I can’t sleep the night before I make my run. I am on the hunt and I’m excited. If my nostrils flared, they would be flaring. And I don’t stop until I found the treasure or I have reached a dead end. There is always an unfulfilled feeling inside when I reach the dead end. I’ve only lately discovered Amazon but I only save them for a very last resort. The cost of shipping and handling, currency exchange rate and the price of some books can be quite hard on the pocket book (who really uses that word anymore).
It has seemed until recently though, that my book questing had almost run its course. I had found almost every older book I wanted or I gave up trying to find them. My visits to UBS’s didn’t have the excitement as they used to. There was a definite lack of passion in checking them out. It was almost a formality that I went to them and I didn’t really expect to find anything of value. I almost always left empty handed or with books I was just eh about. It just wasn’t the same as when I first started.

I feel lately though like I am renewed. I was at a UBS last night looking for books for members of the trading group. That adrenalin rush was back when I found a few books on the list. The desire to raise my hands in the air and shout “YEA BABY, COME TO MAMA.” That pure love of a treasure found had resurfaced.
I am pumped again about finding books. I plan to make an hour trip tomorrow after work to visit the best UBS in the area for romance books. I went on the internet to check their hours, I looked for other UBS’s in the other city I’ve never been too. I found maps. I HAVE A QUEST AGAIN. My passions have been restored. I didn’t have much of a reason to visit this store for a while and I couldn’t justify the time and energy to look for books I had no real hope of finding. But now I have reasons, over 500 of them. Tra-la-la-la-la-la¯
I think a number of members of the group feel the same way I do about the trading. I would much rather have someone owe me a book than to owe someone else. I think it must be something about being obliged to someone that makes us nervous. But for those who owe me books I’m stealing an oft-repeated phrase:

Cost of parking meter $ .50
Cost of book $4.00
Cost of envelope $ .69
Cost of mailing book $4.50
Cost of excitement in finding book, cost of knowing it’s going to a well wanted home, cost of imagining the same excitement I feel


If anything, I owe YOU for making my book searching life worth living again.

Then of course too, there is the absolute joy in getting a book that was on my quest list. Found. Success. Mission Accomplished.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

This and That

I know I have said (complained, whined) in the past that I am an island, that none of my friends or family truly understands my passion for romance books. A lot of them know and I’m sure in the back of their minds they are thinking “she’s a wee bit of an odd one isn’t she”. Thank heavens I have an on-line community I can share with. I have one sister who is semi-understanding, and one friend who somewhat shares my love of the romance genre. I am happy to report I am no longer an island of one. This friend, after a 2 year hiatus due to RL has come back to the romance reading world. Our public library system has an atrocious selection of romance books. They don’t even have Bliss or Dance on file. I know, I checked. Can you imagine such an oversight? Because of this, I am the main supplier of books for my friend. I’m about as comfortable as I can be in loaning them to her, as she also shows them the proper respect they are due.
Being the main supplier puts me in an odd situation. I always give her the best of the best, in my opinion. There are a couple of genres she doesn’t care for, but other than the rare book she hasn’t been able to get into, she loves what I love.
Has this I wonder sometimes given me an inflated opinion of my own tastes? Having someone almost unanimously agree with me, while good for the ego always causes something of a shock when I read a review on a book and it gets a completely different grade than I have given it. This happened recently when a book I quite enjoyed received a terrible review. All the points the reviewer mentioned on why she give it a bad review, I agreed with, yet when the reviewer closed the book, she hated it and when I closed the book I loved it. Now, it’s not that the reviewer is wrong and I’m right. That would be just way too presumptuous wouldn’t it? Besides, it’s an opinion and how can anyone’s opinion be wrong. Facts can be wrong but opinions can’t be. That’s what makes it interesting though when I disagree with someone about a book. I may not agree with them but I love that they love books just as much as I do.

It looks like books are starting to arrive now in the book trading group. I don’t know about anyone else who has received books yet, but when I get home and there they are, it feels so good I almost question whether what we are doing is legal or not. I’ve gotten 4 books so far with more to come and I don’t’ know where to start :) What a delicious decision I’m going to have to make. This should get me out of my slump.

Is anyone else like me when they get a book they have hungered for a while? It’s like I’m too excited to read it. I just have to hold it for a while, check out the back, check out the front, savour it, put it down and move to the next one and repeat the process then start all over again. It can take ages to actually start reading sometimes. So are you a savourer or do you just jump in with both feet?

Monday, June 13, 2005

Project Eve - Lauren Bach

I hate it when this happens. This one just didn’t work for me on many levels. The idea was great. Rachel is a kick ass private detective. She is hired by a US Senator to try and find out if his stepdaughter gave birth before her tragic death in a car accident. In order to find out what really happened she goes undercover at an exclusive college funded and run by a highly successful evangelist.
She is teamed up with Elijah, a CIA agent she shares a past with who also partnered with her beloved brother before his tragic death.
It’s hard to pinpoint why I didn’t care for this one, it just didn’t work on so many levels. The storyline sounds great. First off though, the author loaded Rachel down with too much tragedy. Her parents were both killed when she was young and it was left to her brother to raise her. This is where I began questioning things. Her brother raises her and is her sole support after their parent’s die, so why does he join the CIA and participate in dangerous missions?
And if loosing her entire family isn’t enough, she walks into a very compromising situation when she tries to surprise Elijah her lover. That takes care of that.
This poor girl is left with nothing.
When she meets Elijah many years later and is forced to work with him again, supposedly sparks fly. I didn’t feel any sparks. Not a flicker. Not an ember. Nada. Nothing. Lauren Bach has done excellent sexual tension in the past but I didn’t feel it in this one.
We know who the bad guys are right off the bat. Or at least we should. I’m lousy at guessing who the baddies are, but not this time. If I can get it, believe me, anyone can.
The ditzyiness and naiveté of the college students annoyed me to no end. And the college itself was just too far fetched to believe. I know it was supposed to be a religious institute and somewhat separated from the world but the author carried it to extremes. I can’t imagine any campus not serving coffee.
Then, right near the end of the book, out of the blue, her mentor , it is learned has a drinking problem. What on earth does this have to do with anything at this point and why even mention it. This is a character never seen or never heard from before or after.
I wanted to like this book, I really did. But when I closed the cover I was left with rather a nasty taste. A somewhat cold heroine, no real sparks between the hero and heroine, over the top villains and characters coming in and out of the story that add nothing.

Grade 2 out of 5

Thursday, June 09, 2005

My Blog Slump

I’ve discovered you can have a blog slump just like you can have a reading slump. I know because I’m in one. I can’t think of anything to say, so I’ll just say why I have nothing to say, which will be saying something.
I was diagnosed with high blood pressure late last week. Now it didn’t come as a surprise as it’s in our family, but still it’s given me a bit of a jolt. In fact it was so high last Friday; I spent the afternoon in Emergency. The doctor has already doubled the medication I will have to be taking from now on. I’ve seen her more in the past few days than I have in the previous year. I’ve always taken my health for granted and now all of a sudden it’s not as good as it was. That’s taking some adjusting, not to mention the major life style changes I’m going to have to make to combat it. Because I’ve spent so much time at the doctor’s, I’ve been working later in the evenings to make up time and when I come home I’m wiped and my brain is functioning at half capacity.

A very good friend of my husband’s died on the weekend very unexpectedly. He was only 44 and had a massive heart attack. My husband isn’t taking it all that well. I’m trying to help him through it which is emotionally tiring.

My boss at work is leaving the company, in fact tomorrow is his last day. Now I haven’t been working there all that long, but I couldn’t have asked for a better supervisor. He loves the work I do and let’s me know all the time. He has been so good for my ego when I really needed it. His replacement is someone I like very well to so I’m not worried about that but still it’s hard to say goodbye to someone who has been good for you.

On the upside of things, I have been deeply involved with the book trading group that is going great guns. Other wonderful readers have found books for me that I have been trying to find for years. I had a wish list and all have been found except for one – Dance by Judy Cuevas and I have great expectations that it will be found. I’ve found a few for other readers, but I want to find more! It’s as much fun finding books for others as it is for me.

I just finished One Night of Sin by Gaelen Foley. Now I know some don’t like her, she can be a bit on the purple side, but I really liked this book. She is a hit and miss author for me and I’m happy to say this one is a hit.
Alex Knight, is our tarnished hero. In previous books he has been rather a bad boy. He got himself deep into debt from gambling and to get himself out of debt he offered his services as a gigolo, thus breaking the heart of poor Lizzie, the heroine in previous book.
Alex finds Becky our heroine fast asleep on the doorstep of a friend’s house. He immediately mistakes her for a lady of the evening and takes her home with him for a night of passion. But Becky isn’t what he thinks she is. Instead she is a woman in deep trouble running away from her nasty villain cousin who plans to ruin her. She had witnessed a murder and is running for her life. She agrees to go along with Alex in order to stay hidden.
For me, Ms. Foley does a good job in explaining the rationale behind Alex and why he is the way he is. His behavior explained and accepted I can sit back and enjoy the love story between an erstwhile rake and a damsel in distress. Becky was strong and while she did not like what Alex had done in the past, still she accepted him, mistakes and all. I did have a few eye rolling moments. The obligatory scene where Alex becomes a madman taking on four nasty guys at the same time. Gaelen Foley seems to like having her heroes do this doesn’t she? But still it all in good campy fun. I’m easily pleased and this book pleased me
Grade 4 out of 5

Now I have to dig into my TBR pile for some romantic suspense for Junes challenge. Before books start arriving :)

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Recent reads and questions

Why is it that just as soon as I start buying nail policy because my nails are looking good, they start breaking? I’ve lost 3 in the past day, just after buying 4 new colours of nail polish. And then it takes a good year to grow them nice again

Why is it, just after I get my car washed, the birds have a rave overnight right above it?

The Cobra and the Concubine - Bonnie Vanak

This book took me by surprise. When I finished it, I thought why haven’t I heard of Bonnie Vanak before? For those who complain about same old, same old, this the book for you.
Badra was just a young girl when she was rescued from a brutal and sadistic owner by the Sheik of the Khamin (apparently the hero of her first book). Once he realized how badly she had been abused, he assigned Khepri as her guardian and protector. Skip ahead a number of years. Khepri has been secretly in love with Badra for years. Finally he decides she is old enough and asks permission to marry her. Because of the abuse she had suffered, she refuses him. He leaves discouraged and returns to England where it turns out, he is a peer.
The Cobra and the Concubine is different on many levels. First is the location. Much of it takes place in Egypt. The author does a very good job in evoking the atmosphere of the time and place of when the story takes place. Next, is the heroine. Badra is an Egyptian slave girl. I found this most unusual for a heroine. I think the author does a good job in explaining why she makes the decisions she does. The hero Khepri or Kenneth is what I liked best. I thought he made a wonderful hero. Brave yet vulnerable where his feeling for Badra were concerned, confused and lost when he is thrust into a world he doesn’t understand. I enjoyed this book enough to seriously need to read her back-list and hope (really hope) she writes a book on another character who appears.

Grade 4 out of 5
It was interesting reading this one so soon after Mr. Impossible by Loretta Chase. Both took place in Egypt but the feel was entirely different. Mr. Impossible was outsiders looking into the time and place. The Cobra and the Concubine was like being right inside. Both different but very good.

Stargazer – Colby Hodge

This one is a typical futuristic. Now since I love futuristics, I was enjoyed it more than other readers who aren’t into futuristics. Princess Lily the heroine rescued the hero, Shaun Phoenix a prisoner when they ship they were both travelling on was attached by the same evil group who was attacking her planet. Instantly smitten, our hero decides his life mission is to keep our heroine safe. I had some problems with Lily in this one. I felt she was too self-sacrificing and willing to give her life for her people. I guess I like my heroines somewhat on the selfish side. The hero Shaun is good though. He is determined to rescue at all costs. I thought this was a pretty good effort for a first book and I would try her again. I just hope her next heroine is a bit less perfect.
Grade 31/2 out of 5

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Going back to the vault

I thought since some of us might be visiting UBS's over the next little while, I go back to my excel vault and share some of my older favourite books again.

Once a Pirate by Susan Grant
This is a wonderful time travel/reincarnation book. I didn't read it that long ago. I had ordered it from Amazon when I was going through my pirate book phase. And it fit the bill wonderfully. Carly Callahan an airforce pilot (pre Bonzai) is forced to eject from her jet and into the ocean. She somehow travels back in time and is rescued by pirate Andrew Spencer

Once I read Once a Pirate, it triggered a Susan Grant glom and I ordered another book that turned out to be a real winner

The Star King by Susan Grant
A wonderful futuristic.Air Force Lieutenant Jasmine Boswell was flying her fighter jet over Saudi's no-fly zone when the missile coming out of nowhere hits her plane. She bails out of her disabled jet, but lands on an alien-looking desert with spaceships flying overhead. She also encounters an injured Romlijhian B'Kah, whose starfighter crashed killing his brother. This strange encounter remains in both their minds
Years later they meet again and the book takes off from there.

What I love about Susan Grant is the strength of her heroines

And in a complete switch

Homeplace by Dorothy Garlock
(and I can't believe I can't remember the names of the h/h as I've read this book probably 4 times)
This is a sweet tender story of love found in the depth of despair. The heroine travels to help her young stepdaughter during the birth of her baby. When her stepdaughter dies of neglect during the birth she stays to take care of the baby. At first she is furious with the baby's father but things aren't always what they seem. This book is a very real portrait of rural life and love.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Reaching beyond our comfort zone

The other day while surfing the net I came across a message board I don’t visit very often. They were discussing books and authors, mainly historicals, and I was struck by how much I’ve grown as a reader. Many of them seemed perfectly content with the market, what the authors were producing and very happy in their own comfort box. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with that exactly, but I’ve discovered in the past number of years that life has a way of kicking us outside that box when we least expect it. Now I’m not going to go as far as too equate real life with reading romance novels, but in a small miniscule way, the more we are willing to experiment, to accept different ideas and concepts in romance books, maybe, the easier it will be to handle the changes real life throws us.
For example, for years I’ve heard how good Outlander was. A number of years ago a friend even lent me her copy to read. When I saw how thick a book it was and that it was written in the first person, I handed it back and said, “thanks, but it’s not for me”. It was far too away from my comfort reading level. But after hearing how good it was once I joined the on-line reading community, I saw it in a UBS and thought “what the hell, why not. Live a little.” So I did. Now whether I enjoyed the book or not isn’t really the point I’m trying to make. I did like it though by the way. Not as much as others, but it was the attitude I took that was important. I then began applying this same attitude towards other genres, some worked, others didn’t. Vamp books for example I tried with a why not, what the hell attitude and didn’t care for them. But the effort was made. Werewolves on the other hand worked. Go figure. Now in real life, over the past number of years, I’ve been thrown some real curve balls. I’m sure all of us have had those. But if we take the approach of “why not, give it a shot” I think it makes us more flexible people and able to handle change better. Life is always changing isn’t it?
That’s why I think
Keishon’s challenge to read a different type of book from our TBR piles each month is such a good idea. Although yes, it’s to make a bit of a dent in my pile but I know in those brief moments of crystal clarity that I have sometimes, I will always have a huge TBR. I will exit this world leaving many books unread. For me though, the real challenge is to stretch myself as a reader. Some of her year’s worth of challenges will be tough for me, but I want to do it anyway. The last one worked J.
Something else that prompted these thoughts was reading
Tara Maria’s blog about her leaving her zone. She spread her romance reading wings with great success. Congrats!
So if we start with an open attitude and a willingness to accept new ideas when it comes to romance reading and then apply it to real life, who knows what can happen? They won’t all be successful. I know for me, I’ve tried something from different genres and thought “well that was perfectly dreadful”. But the real gain is in the trying.
In my current job, I am a data analyst, about as far outside my comfort box as I can get. And you know something? I like it. And I’m good at it. Who knows *grin* what might have happened it I hadn’t read that Outlander book.

*note* For those who haven’t noticed and are interested, Sybil has set up a book exchange group, I’m glad she did! I’m such a dufus with this kind of thing somehow I managed to sign myself up twice. I sent off my first package to another reader yesterday and believe me; the thrill was just as great if not greater when I sent it as the one I got when I received Bliss!!

Wow, I set a record with linking! Between that and pictures I'm not doing to bad. Now if I could only learn to sign up for things just once.