Sunday, June 19, 2011

Book mini-Reviews: library books

OK, so these last few are library books, and are due in a day or so.  I'll just be giving a thumbs up or thumbs down, mostly, though I may have a comment or two on some of the books.  Obviously, I got all these books at my local library, and received nothing for these reviews, such as they are.

Beguiled by Deeanne Gist and J Mark Bertrand.  A first-time collaborative effort between two authors who met through a critique group.  (now that I'm writing about it, I may have already reviewed this one.  Oh, well).  I loved the character of Rylee Monroe and the character of Charleston.  Some of the old Southern cities have amazing personalities.  Thumbs Up.

The Beast Within by Erin McCarthy, Bianca D'arc and Jennifer Lyon.  This is an anthology of "other" stories.  Werewolves and zombies and magic, oh, my.  In The Howling by McCarthy, a young woman loses her boyfriend, and takes up with his brother.  She dreams frequently of an old wedding party being attacked by wolves.  One surprise is not really a surprise, and the other is only a small one, because the story telegraphs the twists.  It definitely had its good moments, though.  Thumbs Up.  In Smoke on the Water by D'Arc, a couple of federal agents fight zombies on a lake.  Zombies are not my thing.  At all.  Not movies or books or whatever.  Nonetheless, I enjoyed the premise of this short, just not the zombies.  The author has created an interesting near-future for Earth, and if it weren't about zombies, I probably would have enjoyed it a great deal more.  Thumbs Up.  Redeeming the Wizard by Lyon was probably the one I enjoyed most.  A wizard whose job it is to protect a city has issues, and fighting those issues means that his city is not getting all the protection it deserves.  In this universe, people who have no magic at all serve the others who do.  One such sister/niece/etc. drives out to pick up Gram for a party, only to find her missing.  She goes to the wizard for assistance, and they rub each other the wrong way on sight.  Mira insists on having the wizard's help, and together they solve the mystery of Gram's disappearance, as well as the issue Mr Wizard is going to great lengths to hide from his town.  Thumbs Up.

I'll Be Slaying You and Eternal Hunter by Cynthia Eden.  Both books are set in the Other Universe, where Others are people who are not quite what they appear.  Both stories have well-matched male and female leads, and the sex is hot.  The Other Universe is interesting, and one I'll likely look for more of when I hit the library again.  Thumbs Up for both.

Without Mercy by Lisa Jackson.  Jules' little step-sister Shaylee has been sent to an elite boarding school for troubled teens.  On the surface, the school has an amazing record for helping kids and many of those kids come back to the school to help others.  On the other hand, a girl disappeared there not too long ago, and no one seems to think the school holds any responsibility in the matter.  Jules has issues and sees conspiracy theories where there are none, but in the case of the school, something is definitely just a little bit off.  Jules uses the fact that she and Shaylee don't share a last name to apply for a job with the school.  Once she's there, her first surprise is that an old boyfriend is also there, and he seems to be everywhere she is.  The amateur investigation is a source of irritation, and bad guys go to a lot of trouble to shut Jules up.  She's plucky, and keeps on truckin', and takes a little time out to have a little shag with Cooper.  That's when things really heat up.  The final surprise in the story is one I didn't imagine at all.  Then, the epilogue opens the door to a possible sequel or related story, with a sinister twist.  Thumbs Up.

Smooth Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas.  Ella Varner's little sister abandons her baby with her and leaves it to Ella to find the baby's daddy.  (I have to say that this is one of the most realistic screwed-up families I've ever had the pleasure to read about.  Kleypas manages to make Ella's family profoundly damaged without going over the edge into caricature.)  Ella's boyfriend refuses to have anything to do with the baby, even for a minute, and so she has to leave her little corner of the universe to go find "daddy."  She narrows down the playing field and visits choice number one.  Jack Travis, of the Houston Travis family, takes her accusations in stride and, for his own personal reasons, takes Ella and baby Luke under his wing.  Ella fights her attraction to Jack, and fights falling in love with her nephew.  Jack Travis turns out to be a very handy ally in the search for Luke's father.  This book hit a lot of personal buttons for me, and I cried tears of sorrow for Ella, then tears of joy.  I hope this book is as good for you.  Thumbs Way Up.

Night of the Vampires by Heather Graham.  This story about vampire fighters set during the Civil War just hit me wrong almost from the moment I started reading.  I liked parts of it, but mostly it just seemed a ridiculous premise.  Thumbs Down.

The Killing Edge by Heather Graham.  Chloe Marin is not just a survivor, she's a survivor with a gift.  Ten years after escaping killers, she's using her past to help other people with their own personal traumas.  Girls have started going missing, and Chloe believes it's related somehow to the killing from which she escaped.  This story is a fairly fast-paced murder mystery, with some romance thrown in.  Thumbs Up.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Book mini-Review: Simply Irresistible

Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis.  I came across this one on the New shelf in my local library.  I received nothing in exchange for this review.

This is a Lucky Harbor novel, which means nothing to me, as I've read none of the others.  This is the story of three sisters, whose mother recently died and left them a place in Washington State.  The family is a bit like mine, in that there are moms and dads all over the place, and the family tree looks more like a forest.  The sisters haven't spent much time together, and none have really spent much time with mom, either.  The fact that she left this place to them as a group surprises them, and the condition of the place horrifies them.  Two of the sisters are all for selling out and heading for higher ground, but the third sister, Maddie, digs in her heels and they end up staying, at least long enough to get the place into decent enough shape to sell.

Lucky Harbor is a little town, and the sisters spend time getting to know one another and the person their mother was to these people.  There are surprises along the way, and the sisters confront not just their own demons, but each others.  In the process, each sister finds a new piece of herself.  It's an enjoyable read, with some heartwarming sisterly love and some middlin' hot romantic escapades.

Thumbs Up.

The things kids do...

I had a brief conversation with my grandson, who is eight months old, about his new diapers.  I was talking about how they fit his little froggy bottom.  He was laughing at me.  I told him he was not hung like a bull moose, and he started growling at me.  LMAO

Book mini-Reviews: Lori Foster

I got all of these books at my local library.  I received nothing in exchange for what reviews I give.

Tempted:  this is a collection of three full-length books from 1999 and 2001, written around a family.  Each story relates in some way to a family member and how his/her happily-ever-after came to be.   Stories are: Little Miss Innocent; Annie, Get Your Guy; and Messing Around With Max.  Personally, I loved this anthology.  Each one included little tidbits of the other family members, and that helped each subsequent story build on the one before.  The family relationships were real and humorous.  The sex was hot.  The plots were fresh.  Thumbs Up.

Bewitched:  this is a collection of two full-length books from 2000, with no common theme.  Stories are: In Too Deep and Married to the Boss.  Perhaps because I'd just finished reading Tempted and enjoyed it so much, I had high expectations, and this book fell short.   Although parts of the books were fresh and engaging, mostly, it was just same-old, same-old, and I didn't really enjoy either one of them.  Thumbs Down.

Yule Be Mine: this is an anthology of short stories published in 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2007, written around the common theme of Christmas, obviously.  Stories are:  He Sees You When You're Sleeping; White Knight Christmas; Do You Hear What I Hear: and The Christmas Present.  I was actually looking for another similarly-themed book when I found this one, and picked it up on a whim, because it was Lori Foster.  Each story is humorous and fun.  Maybe because the stories are short, none of the lead characters seem to be carrying around too much baggage, though there are obstacles to overcome, naturally.  They wouldn't be romances without that.  Thumbs Up.

Back in Black is a full-length story published in 2010.  This book pissed me off.  Seriously.  The heroine is this bad-ass business woman who talks about how she doesn't want to have sex with her client, for several very good reasons, but the second he touches her neck, she gives in and just lets him.  The "hero" doesn't believe no is a good enough answer, because he just knows she wants him.  He doesn't care about the damage to the lady's career, or the fact that she simply wants to get to know him before they have sex.   The cycle repeats, ad nauseum.  Sorry, Lori, but if this one had a positive message, I failed to interpret it, though I did enjoy what little I learned about MMA.  Thumbs Way Down.

30-Day Writing Challenge, Day Ten

I will not hide my tastes or aversions. I will so trust that what is deep is holy, if we follow the truth, it will bring us out safe at last. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Think of a time when you didn’t think you were capable of doing something, but then surprised yourself.  How will you surprise yourself this week?  (Author: Ashley Ambirge)

Well, if I knew, it wouldn't be a surprise, now would it?  I'm going to keep on plugging, and I'm sure there'll be a surprise or two in there somewhere.

30-Day Writing Challenge, Day Nine

These are the voices which we hear in solitude, but they grow faint and inaudible as we enter into the world. Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Is fear holding you back from living your fullest life and being truly self expressed? Put yourself in the shoes of the you who’s already lived your dream and write out the answers to the following:  Is the insecurity you’re defending worth the dream you’ll never realize? or the love you’ll never venture? or the joy you’ll never feel?  Will the blunder matter in 10 years? Or 10 weeks? Or 10 days? Or 10 minutes?  Can you be happy being anything less than who you really are?  Now Do. The Thing. You Fear.  (Author: Lachlan Cotter)

Play with cockroaches?  OK, that's a flip answer to a real question, though I am irrationally afraid of roaches.  I suppose I have the same fears many people have - not just the fear of failure, but the fear of success.  Once I get moved, I'm planning to take classes, one at a time, in simple things that will contribute to my bottom line, and at the same time will allow me to help people.  An example?  Reflexology.  I can learn that.  And I can use it to help people heal.  And I can use it to help my financial glass be more than half full, rather than more than half empty.

30-Day Writing Challenge, Day Eight

Imitation is Suicide. Insist on yourself; never imitate. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Write down in which areas of your life you have to overcome these suicidal tendencies of imitation, and how you can transform them into a newborn you – one that doesn’t hide its uniqueness, but thrives on it. There is a “divine idea which each of us represents” – which is yours?  Author: Fabian Kruse)

Uh...I think I already do this.  I don't dress fashionably, or drive the right car, or have the right friends, or support the right politicians.  Either that, or I just don't get the question.

30-Day Writing Challenge, Day Seven

To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, that is genius. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

What is burning deep inside of you? If you could spread your personal message RIGHT NOW to 1 million people, what would you say?  (Author: Eric Handler)

I guess if I have something that I just have to share, it's this:  Deep down, we all have the same basic needs.  Stop looking at the outside, and start just loving your neighbors.  ALL of them.

30-day Writing Challenge, Day Six

There will be an agreement in whatever variety of actions, so they be each honest and natural in their hour. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
What would you say to the person you were five years ago? What will you say to the person you’ll be in five years?  (Author: Corbett Barr)

To the person I was five years ago?  Two things.  One, you will not always have a job, so set some damn money aside for when things go weird.  Or, ask for help, don't just assume, you nutjob.  Two, she's twelve now.  It will not always be this bad.  I promise.

To the person I'll be in five years?  Wow.  That was easier than I imagined it would be.

30-day Writing Challenge, Day Five

Our arts, our occupations, our marriages, our religion, we have not chosen, but society has chosen for us. We are parlour soldiers. We shun the rugged battle of fate, where strength is born. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Next to Resistance, rational thought is the artist or entrepreneurs worst enemy. Bad things happen when we employ rational thought, because rational thought comes from the ego. Instead, we want to work from the Self, that is, from instinct and intuition, from the unconscious.

A child has no trouble believing the unbelievable, nor does the genius or the madman. Its only you and I, with our big brains and our tiny hearts, who doubt and overthink and hesitate.” - Steven Pressfield, Do the Work

The idea of “being realistic” holds all of us back. From starting a business or quitting a job to dating someone who may not be our type or moving to a new place – getting “real” often means putting your dreams on hold.

Today, let’s take a step away from rational thought and dare to be bold. What’s one thing you’ve always wanted to accomplish but have been afraid to pursue? Write it down. Also write down the obstacles in your way of reaching your goal. Finally, write down a tangible plan to overcome each obstacle.

The only thing left is to, you know, actually go make it happen. What are you waiting for? (Author: Matt Cheuvront)

I've always wanted to go back to school, but single-parenting, and the lack of money that goes with it, always kept me from trying.  Well, I'm not a single parent any more, or won't be very, very shortly.  So, I'll have time to go to school, just have to find the money.  I also want to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.  That one's not so easy.  I love so many things, and I so want for my next career to be something I'm happy doing.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Book Review: Absolute Fear, Lost Souls

I got Absolute Fear from my local Half Price Books clearance rack, and swapped Lost Souls with a local fellow bibliophile.  I received nothing in exchange for this review.

Lisa Jackson has written a continuity, set in and around New Orleans, both pre- and post-Katrina.  The first book in this continuity, Shiver, I've either not read, or read long enough ago that I don't remember it.  Absolute Fear revisits the asylum established in Shiver, and revolves around a murder investigation.  This investigation ends with a police officer's daughter waking from a coma, and kept me reading avidly.  That said, I have some notes cribbed on a Post-It, so that I could write my review, but don't remember many details.  Can't spoil the plot for you that way, can I.  LOL

First note: either the author or her editors had trouble with the terms black and african-american.  African-american is more politically correct today, but frankly, I come down on the black side.  I'm white, black people are black.  I don't really understand why we have to be so darn milquetoast to live in our society.  And who cares what color someone is, anyway?  I digress.  My note was that the author should pick one and stick to it.  Both were used often enough that I noticed it, and wrote it down.  Lost Souls didn't have this problem, as I recall distinctly that various people in the police departments are referred to as african-american.

Second note: many of us have watched enough cop shows that we know what a BOLO is, at least in context.  It's an acronym, standing for Be On the LookOut.  Only in this book, it's parenthetically defined as Be On the Lookout For.  So, in this book, BOLO is BOLF.  Yes, that took me out of the story enough to scribble it on my sticky note. 

Third note: a car was called a Carmengia.  Unless I miss my guess, this is a Karmann Ghia, an old Volkswagen model.  I remember thinking, "Seriously?  They can't even make sure to spell a car model name properly?"  I have since done some research and found many places online where it is spelled incorrectly, as shown above, so maybe someone did some lazy research and just picked the first website that came up on a search.  Call me a purist.  Things that are named after people and places should be spelled properly.

Lost Souls starts with Kristi Bentz (the girl who awoke from a coma in Absolute Fear) packing up the car to leave home.  She's decided to work on her education some, toward the goal of becoming a true-crime writer, and has enrolled in a not-quite-local private college.  Of course, part of making that choice included knowing that four girls had gone missing over the last year and a half, and she hopes to solve that mystery while she's attending classes, and then use that to write her first book.

When she gets there, several unpleasant surprises await her, among them that one of her instructors is someone she knew in the past, very well. 

Lisa Jackson creates great suspense, with odd secondary and tertiary characters, as well as wonderful descriptions of the college buildings and surroundings.  It's easy to understand how Kristi gets creeped out just about every time she walks out the door.

Some of the minutiae of attending college classes in a small town drags a little, though it's very little.  The mystery unfolds, piece by piece, and Kristi and her criminology professor, Jay, run down clues and research people and places.  I enjoyed this book a lot, and found the Kristi's efforts to avoid Jay, then build a new relationship with him, believable.

I did not see the twists coming, and that always makes a book better for me, if I haven't figured out the ending after the first two chapters. 

This gets a solid Very Good, and I look forward to another Lisa Jackson thriller set in this locale.  Since this was published in 2009, I just have to get out there and find it on a shelf somewhere.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Book mini-Review: Casey

I picked up this book at my local Half Price Books, on the clearance rack.  I received nothing in exchange for this review.

Lori Foster wrote a four-book Harlequin Temptation series on the Buckhorn brothers back in the late 90s or early 00s.  According to her blurb in the front of the book, she received many, many requests to write about the fifth brother, Casey, who at the time was just a teenager.  This is that story.  If I read any of the others, it's been so long ago that I don't remember doing so.

We meet Emma, Casey and some of Casey's family at the beginning of the book, when Casey and Emma are just teenagers.  One thing too many has Emma looking to leave home, and she runs to Casey, who she knows from past experience will help her without helping himself to her.  Casey, with the agreement of his dad and stepmom, puts Emma up for the night, only to find her gone the next morning. 

Roll the calendar forward eight years.  Emma's stayed gone, but Casey never forgot her, and maybe just a little, never forgave her for running off in the middle of the night.  She's on her way back to town, to visit her father in the hospital, when her car breaks down on the side of the road.  Next person along the road is Casey, with a date.  Emma's not alone, either....

These two have to reestablish their friendship, and on Emma's part, without revealing too much about why she left town in the first place.  The results are funny and engaging, particularly some of the parts that involve his family.  Parts of the romance were a little too easy for my taste, but I guess that happens sometimes when a couple has history.

Here's what I really liked about this book:  Emma is messed up as a teenager.  When we meet her again as an adult, some of her internal dialogue, and one of her conversations with Casey, lets out that she's experienced, sexually speaking.  She slept with a lot of guys as a teenager and she enjoys sex as an adult woman.  I'm not saying that I condone her teenage behavior, but that it's refreshing for an author to give her heroine that kind of history.  Too many times, the female lead has aspersions cast at her character, only to find out later she's a virgin, or has only slept with one or two guys.  Lori Foster didn't go that way.  She took a young woman living in less than ideal family conditions and let her circumstances take her down a bad road.  The grown up Emma has a handle on her past, for the most part, and has a healthy attitude about it, except when she's talking to Casey, of course.

So, Emma took what life handed her, ran away, used her new circumstances to change her life, and came back to Buckhorn a successful small business owner who only had to overcome her feelings about Casey and his persistent teenage rejection of her sexual favors.

It was fun and flirty, and the secondary story, though much too secondary, was adorable as well.

I'll list this one on my paperbackswap bookshelf.

Book Review: Midnight Crystal and Burning Lamp

I picked up these two books at my local library.  I received nothing in exchange for this review.

Midnight Crystal and Burning Lamp are books two and three of the Dreamlight Trilogy, written by Jayne Ann Krentz, either as herself, or under one of her pseudonyms.  In this case, Fired Up, which I think I reviewed earlier on, was written as JAK.  Burning Lamp was written as Amanda Quick, her historical romance pen-name, and Midnight Crystal was written as Jayne Castle, her futuristic pen-name.

These books are focused specifically on the Winters legend of the Burning Lamp, which basically states that a Winters male may be burdened with the Winters Curse, whereby he acquires multiple talents, and requires the services of a very powerful dreamlight reader to find and use the Burning Lamp to make his talents manageable, or he goes insane and dies badly.  In the trilogy, the dreamlight reader is always a woman, and the duo find they accomplish much more together than they do separately. 

Both of these books were good installments in the trilogy, and added some to the Jones/Winters universe.  Of the two, I preferred the second book, Burning Lamp, and I'm not sure why.  Perhaps it was because more useful information was revealed in this one, information that added to my knowledge base of this 'verse and set the stage for other Jones and Winters antics.  Maybe I just liked the characters better.  Or maybe it was because it was set on Earth.  Jayne Castle's futuristic stories in the universe are set on Harmony, a Class M planet (in Trek lexicon) where humans explored and expanded.  I have read a few of her stories of Harmony, and for me, they have been hit and miss.  I'm not sure if that's the Harmony backstory or her Castle style of writing.  Maybe this one, despite my enjoyment of the couple's story, just didn't hit me right.

At any rate, these were good reads.  Burning Lamp rates a solid Very Good and Midnight Crystal a solid Good.

Review: Bra

Leading Lady Cotton Front Hook Leisure Bra

Style: 20231
I can no longer reach behind me to connect a bra in back.  For months now, my daughter has been helping me with my bras anytime we had to go out.  But then, she traveled to San Antonio to spend a week with her husband, and I had appointments.  I HAD to go get a bra that closed in front.  I've always had good luck with the Hanes/Bali/etc outlet at Grapevine Mills mall, so I headed there.  The woman in the store was extremely helpful, and though she didn't have exactly what I was looking for, she found me something that would work well enough.

That was a Playtex bra, and I liked it well enough that I researched to find how much larger they came, since this one was a cup-size or two too small.  Imagine my surprise to find that the size I was wearing was as large as Playtex makes.

The hunt was on, so I researched and read reviews and researched some more.  Finally, I had my choices whittled down to two, and both were available in my price range on  I ordered one of one style, because I was pretty sure it would be too small but wanted to try it on, and two of the other.  The other was the subject of this review, the Leading Lady style number 20231.

This bra is so comfortable I forget I'm wearing a bra!  That is something I NEVER thought I would say.  I have large breasts, which get larger as I gain weight, so finding something that feels so comfortable is just amazing.  This bra is a cotton/spandex blend.  The straps do not adjust, but are slightly padded and feel great.  The one con for me is that something so comfortable provides almost NO support, so when I go out in public, my breasts jiggle, which I think is extremely unattractive, as well as unnecessary.  It's a price I'm willing to pay, for now, to have something comfortable to wear, which I can afford, which I can fasten by myself, which also keeps me from being completely braless in public.

Book Review: The Story Sisters

I picked up this book at my local library.  I received nothing in exchange for this review.

Alice Hoffman has written other stories, of which I remember exactly Practical Magic, not because I read it, but because I love the movie.

Anyway, The Story Sisters is about three sisters whose last name is Story.  Their lives, as written, are rich and complex and troubling and captivating, for the most part.  Some parts of the book dragged a bit, though I kept reading, because the story as a whole had me wanting to know what happened.

The story bounces around from their home in a relatively small town in New York, to New York City, to Paris.  The girls' grandmas live in Paris, though one is of Russian descent.  The peripheral characters, most notably the family members are well-drawn and add to the book.  Each girl has her own demons, and since we hit the story running when the oldest is fifteen, we get to know those demons pretty quickly.  In some ways, this story is typical of any three siblings, with internal squabbles, but a united front to any outsider.  Two of the girls are closer because of something in their past.  It doesn't take long for the oldest girl to go off the deep end, and her downward spiral informs the actions of the rest of the family for years to come.

My biggest disappointment with The Story Sisters was the ending.  It would have been a good ending for a less complex tale, but something this intricate deserved a better ending than the one we got.

I would have given this four stars, but the ending lost a star, and this story rates only a solid Good because of it.

Book Review: The Bodyguard

I picked up this book off the clearance rack at my local Half Price Books.  I received nothing in exchange for this review.

This is an anthology, a trilogy of stories around a central theme.  In this case, men of paranormal ability who are sent to guard or eliminate a female, who may or may not have some paranormal ability.  The book is billed as erotic romance.


OK, in case you didn't get the message, this review contains a bit of bad language.

Temptation on Ice by Cherry Adair.  Yes, she has a porn name, or what sounds like one.  This is apropos, as her story reads like a porno.  I have to mention that using words like cock, pussy, fuck and the like do not make a story erotic.  They do make it explicit.  Explicit is not necessarily erotic, though it can be.  In this case, it's just bad.  Thank goodness it was the shortest story in the book.  This story rates a solid Poor.

Hunting Temptation by Lorie O'Clare.  OK, her name's not quite so bad.  The story is better, too.  In this case, a human bounty hunter (pardon me, fugitive apprehension professional) is hunting what he learns is a rogue male werewolf.  His first clue, passed along by a long-time informational contact, leads him to a nightclub, where he is distracted by a woman who has eyes for him.  Turns out, she's a werewolf, part of a local pack, which he learns pretty late into the story.  So, in this case, the theme is turned around and it's the woman who's paranormal and the man who may or may not be.  Anyway, the romance seemed a little forced on the woman's side, and the overprotectiveness of the males in her pack got to be more than a little wearing to me, so I'm assuming this is why she felt the need to cut loose a little.  This story rates a marginal Good.

Temptation in Shadows by Gena Showalter.  The third story in the book, the longest by far, and the only one written by an author whose name I recognized (her name is why I bought the book, frankly), is also the best.  It's actually erotic romance, between two people who are grown, not rebelling against anything, not constantly thinking with their sex organs.  The premise of the story is solid, with a clear bad guy, and a heroine who's flawed but not weak.  The romance takes time, and isn't some kind of instantaneous mind-boggling hormone-fest.  Gena includes romance, suspense, action and a little mystery.  The hero's paranormal ability is related to shadows, thus the name of the story, and it's an interesting ability.  This story rates a solid Very Good.

This book is not worth the cover price.  I got it for $2, and still felt a little gypped, until I read Gena Showalter's story.  If you find it and are interested, avoid paying too much for it.  I'll be listing it on my paperbackswap bookshelf.

Book mini-Review: The Player and The Bluewater Affair

One of these books came from my local Half Price Books, and the other came from my wishlist at  I received nothing in exchange for my review of either book.

The Player by Evelyn Vaughn is the third and The Bluewater Affair by Cindy Gerard is the fourth, both in a continuity series called Family Secrets for Silhouette back in 2003-2004.  There are a total of twelve books, one each month, about a group of genetically engineered siblings.  Neither of these books is directly about any of the siblings, though Jake Ingram has a part in each of them.  I have not read any of the other books, and at this time, do not intend to read more of the continuity.

I picked up The Player because I love Evelyn Vaughn's books, and plan to like them even better now I've met her.  :D  I wishlisted The Bluewater Affair because the blurb in the back of The Player made it sound interesting enough for me to want to read more.  I am a sucker for crusty ranchers.

The Player is about a major player in Washington who's friends with Jake Ingram, one of the "extraordinary" five siblings.  Jake asks him to check into an old CIA project for him.  It's been declassified in part, but Matt may have better luck getting more than just the Freedom of Information Act partyline.  Matt hands it off to his assistant, Carey, who is, of course, more than a little in love with her boss, and is, apparently, the best assistant ever to walk the halls of the West Wing.  Anyway, research begins, stones are turned over, dangerous hijinks ensue.  Lest you think my cynical overview means I disliked the book, au contraire, mon frere.  I enjoyed it.  The "moment," you know, the one where the guy realizes he does love her after all, is not when I expected it to be, and Carey is stronger than you might think after the first few pages.

The Bluewater Affair is misnamed, but otherwise a good read.  Bluewater is mentioned only once or twice, toward the end of the book, and those mentions set the stage for the next book in the continuity.  That book probably should have been named The Bluewater Affair.  Anyway.  Susannah Hobson takes a good, hard look at her life and heads home to make up with her mama, only to find out mama, Violet Hobson, has been dead for a few days.  Mama's rancher neighbor, Travis Dean, judges the book by the cover and assumes Susannah is home because mama left her some serious property.  Despite his opinion of her as a gold-digging ne'er-do-well, he agrees to continue helping as he'd been helping Violet, then the bomb drops.  He's the executor of the estate, and terms are set in place that make Susannah take a hard look at him, with the same opinion.  Susannah spends some quality time with mama, via a coded journal, and spends some quality time with Travis, via a bridge-washing storm, and more of the puzzle of Project Proteus is uncovered and solved.  This particular story didn't have much bad-guy danger, and it didn't need it.  The plot revolves around Susannah revisiting her relationship with Violet and at the same time discovering that her mama wasn't -only- what she appeared to be.  Most of the bad-guy danger is related in the journal entries Violet made, and is very old news - circa 1960s.  The story is nothing new, yet takes a fresh look at why people become friends, and how those friendships change us, whether we realize it or not.  The story is set in the spring, and my favorite line in the entire book is, "This was the most pregnant place he'd ever seen."  It made me laugh out loud.  To understand the context, I guess you'll have to get the book your own self.

Both books are a good read, in my opinion, and I'd like to find other books by Cindy Gerard to see if I like her other stuff.


Sunday, June 5, 2011

30-day Writing Challenge, Day Four

Life wastes itself while we are preparing to live. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
If you had one week left to live, would you still be doing what you’re doing now? In what areas of your life are you preparing to live? Take them off your To Do list and add them to a To Stop list. Resolve to only do what makes you come alive.  Bonus: How can your goals improve the present and not keep you in a perpetual “always something better” spiral?

If I had a week to live, I'd make the time to visit my high school best friend again.  Haven't seen her since Spring Break.  Other than that, all this sorting and discarding is stuff I'm doing so that Mrs Potatohead doesn't have to do it when I'm gone.   I guess I'd keep doing it, because preventing her from spending six weeks sorting through my shit is still pretty important to me.

30-day Writing Challenge, Day Three

If we live truly, we shall see truly. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Not everyone wants to travel the world, but most people can identify at least one place in the world they’d like to visit before they die. Where is that place for you, and what will you do to make sure you get there?

I've always wanted to return to Japan or go to Australia.  I want to spend sometime, not make a fleeting, guided tour, never a minute to myself visit.

I don't really know how to make that happen.  I've never been in a financial position to travel overseas, because I've not been willing to go into debt to do it.  I"m still not, so I'd have to say that I'll do my best to set the money aside a bit at a time, when I have an income again.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Seduction versus Steamrolling

Romance authors and womanizers, take note! 

Let her get to know you, not the caveman in your pants.

Macking on her until she gives up saying no is not seducing her. 

A man who hears me say no, then tells me, "It doesn't count if you say it now.  You have to say no when I've kissed you until you're a puddle of goo.  Then I'll believe it."  Um, no, you won't, because if I say no and you go ahead anyway, you won't get another chance, and you might just get escorted home in a specially lighted chariot.

Characters like this are not attractive romance novel heroes, and female characters who put up with this bullshit (unless they're role-playing) are not the strong, confident women they're supposed to be.  Books with these kinds of characters (I've read two in the last two weeks) are not great stories to read.

Far from relaxing with a good read, I get angry that any woman believes this crap, much less writes it in a book so other women can see it and maybe believe it, too.  NO really means NO, not make me say yes.

30-day Writing Challenge, Day Two

Identify one of your biggest challenges at the moment (ie I don’t feel passionate about my work) and turn it into a question (ie How can I do work I’m passionate about?) Write it on a post-it and put it up on your bathroom mirror or the back of your front door. After 48-hours, journal what answers came up for you and be sure to evaluate them.

I'll have to get back to you on this one in a couple of days.  lol

30-day Writing Challenge, Day One

Today's writing prompt:
The world is powered by passionate people, powerful ideas, and fearless action. What’s one strong belief you possess that isn’t shared by your closest friends or family? What inspires this belief, and what have you done to actively live it?
(Author: Buster Benson)

I believe that I am a good person, a person worth knowing.  There are some in my family who think I'm one of the most worthless human beings to walk the Earth.  The "friends" that have believed that are dropped by the wayside as quickly as possible.  Family, that's not so easy to do.

What inspires this belief?  Maturity?  Years of therapy?  I'm not sure.  I do know there was a time in my life when I didn't believe it, and now it's unshakeable.

How do I actively live it?  I respect myself.  I use my manners.  I am pro-active about doing random acts of kindness for others, preferably anonymous acts, though an occasional pat on the back is heartening.  I compliment parents when I see their children behaving well in public - I know how hard this is to achieve.  I was unable to do these things when I didn't believe in myself, and now I know my goodness well enough to recognize it in others.  It's a never-ending cycle of positive energy.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Book mini-Review - No Mercy

Maybe it's just me, but Ms. Kenyon seems to be losing her touch.  The Big Bad (c Buffy) was neither all that big nor all that bad.  There was little suspense.  Maybe it's time to move on to a different series, or just write stories in this universe that don't build upon one another.

In the beginning of the book, when Devereaux Peltier and Sam Savage meet, there are the trademarks sparks of sexual attraction.  Then, it's just not hot anymore.  Where's the steamy sexual antics I count on Sherrilyn Kenyon providing? 

There are too many secondary characters to keep track of in this book.  Many of them have had their own story told, and they don't feel right in the corners and shadows or with one-line mentions thrown in randomly.  They detract from the story of Dev and Sam, and they're pretty two-dimensional, to boot.

Sam spends a bit too much time reflecting on her previous life as a human Amazon, and on what made her a Dark-Hunter.  Waah, waah, waah. 

The conclusion, when it comes, is anti-climactic and some of it is unexplained.  How'd that happen?  Huh?  I hate to say goodbye to what used to be a good series, but I think I've read my last Dark-Hunter novel.  Sorry, Sherrilyn.

I got this book at the local library, and received nothing in exchange for this review.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Book Review: Nothing Lasts Forever

The original Die Hard movie was loosely based on this sequel to The Detective.  Nothing Lasts Forever was written by Roderick Thorp and published in 1979.  Unless you pay attention to all the credits in your favorite movies the way I do, you're not likely to know this.  The book has been on my To Read list for a while, and I finally found it at my local library.

Roderick Thorp's tight writing style is easy to read.  The novel is a bit dated, but many of the concerns in the novel are still things we are struggling with today - international terrorism, anyone?   None of the dating distracted me from the story.

There was one place in the book where Joe Leland made a note of the time, 9:11, and that made me pause for a moment to reflect on the unknowable foreshadowing by Thorp and on the events of that date.  That was the only thing that took me out of the story for a moment.

Thorp's Joe Leland is an older man, a grandfather, and self-employed as a private detective and security consultant.  References are made to the air marshall program, where the air marshall could be anyone on board a domestic flight. 

This is a rare instance in which I prefer the movie over the book.  Much of the novel is taken up with Joe Leland's internal dialogue, and he's kind of a sad sack.  He second-guesses himself a lot, and randomly reminisces about his past and how he's mucked up his life.  He's not nearly as snarky or clever as John McLane.  Al Powell is not as friendly or quick to support Joe.   Joe Leland's wife has divorced him and died after remarrying.

Many plot points or characters are precisely the same:  Karl has long-blond hair, and his brother is killed early on; Leland's daughter uses the name Gennero; Ellis is a cocaine-sniffing asshole, eager to get into the daughter's pants; Ellis refers to Stefanie Gennero's watch, urging her to show it to her father; Joe Leland cuts his feet badly, though in the book, it's from unexpectedly stepping into a stairwell filled purposely with broken fluorescent light bulbs; the head terrorist's last name is Gruber; there is a jackass police honcho named Dwayne T Robinson.  I could go on and on.  The movie clearly differed from the book in one particular instance:  the terrorist team that invaded Klaxon Oil included two or three women.

In all, I enjoyed the read.  Mentally comparing the novel to the film might have made it a more interesting read for me.  I LOVE Die Hard and John McLane!