Friday, December 27, 2013

Book: A SEAL's Salvation by Tawny Weber

I won't rehash the plot - you can get that from the blurb. 

I loved the way this started - teenage Genna's hesitant attempts at seducing Brody on a dare. She'd been crushing on him anyway, and took this opportunity to make herself do something she'd been afraid to do. Brody took her unskilled attempts and ran with them, until her father showed up. To me, this was a pretty empowering first experience for a girl, even if they never got to third base. 

Fast-forward ten years, and Genna writes Brody to let him know that her brother has died. Brody's pithy single line response to her letter shakes her out of her personal and professional doldrums and reignites her feelings for him. Their correspondence before his return home on convalescent leave were both funny and hot.

There were great insights into what might make a man, particularly a SEAL, feel like a failure, and the way Genna came up with to make the hometown heroes parade okay for Brody was really touching.. 

I really enjoyed Genna's coping mechanism - incessant baking - and loved that Brody's friendship enabled her to take the first step in making that into the vocation she'd always wanted.

Genna and Brody are two characters I wouldn't mind revisiting several years into the future, when they're facing another obstacle and have to find their way back to the core of their relationship.

I wasn't entirely convinced of the sudden turnaround of Genna's parents, but that was a very small oddity in an otherwise really good book.

There were a few typos and the formatting was a bit wonky in places. I did keep reading Genna as Gemma, probably because I'd never seen Genna spelled that particular way, but that was my thing, not the author's.

I received a digital copy of this book from Netgalley for the purposes of review.

A SEAL's Salvation is available for pre-order on Amazon.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Book: Take Me Out

I was given a digital copy of this anthology by NetGalley for the purposes of review.

Trade Off by Elley Arden:   Scarlett and Ben hit the sheets early in this story - they were sweethearts in school and the chemistry is still there.  Their short romance is hot and sweet.  Second favorite of the four stories.

Slugger Gone South by Alicia Hunter Pace: This story was probably the weakest of the four, and had the most mistakes and formatting errors.  Something that wasn't an error, but jumped out at me to age this story was a reference to Conway Twitty taking the stage at the charity event.  Conway Twitty's been dead since 1993, which tells me this story has been sitting on someone's hard drive for a very long time.  Marc and Bailey try to avoid each other when he's unexpectedly in town for a charity event. Unknown to them, relatives were conspiring to get them together again.  The transition from her anger over his real or imagined infidelities to their HEA was abrupt and a little ridiculous.  He remembered something from when they were together and helped her through a crisis, so she magically gets over everything she's holding against him.  Instant couple.  Of the four stories, I liked this one least.

Safe at Home by Leslie P. GarcĂ­a: Amanda seeks out Josh in an effort to save her dad's mom-and-pop hardware store.  She has good reasons for hating a game she used to love, and Josh's patience and sense of humor win her heart over the course of several weeks.  Safe at Home had great characterization, plot, and pacing.  Best of the bunch.

That Ol’ Team Spirit by Bea Moon: Trish's gran has decided that the mischief in their concession stand is the work of a spirit, rather than plain old vandalism.  The premise for this story was cute, and one I should have liked.  It could have benefited from more words to work through the plot - it would have worked better as a novella or novellette.  The romance was rushed and the chemistry between the two leads was more tell than show.  Wrap-up was pretty wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am, and the sudden interest in 'let's get home so we can get horizontal now' came out of nowhere when the entire rest of the story was mostly holding hands (at seances) and the like.

To my knowledge, this anthology is only available through the Crimson Romance website.

If I had it to do over again....

I wouldn't.

This month, a question meme made its way through livejournal.  Many of the questions posed to me were fandom questions, because most of my friends there are fandom friends: BSG, XF, BtVS, Farscape.  

One of the non-fandom questions this month was:  You have one real-life do-over.  Do you use it?  And when?

In fiction, I'm a fan of a character saying something to the effect of, "We got off on the wrong foot, so let's start over.  Hi, I'm x."

In real life, not so much.  Not because I've never done anything I regret, but because everything I've done or not done has brought me here today.  I may not be terribly enamored of where my life is at the moment, but I like myself, and each and every choice I made along the way had something to do with molding me into this particular me.  And my life being where it is at the moment is an opportunity for change and growth.  Neither growth nor change has been something I handled particularly gracefully in the past, but that's the joy of aging, I suppose, is the ability to look back and see that even the bad things have good consequences sometimes, and that the good things I worked so hard to achieve didn't always get me where I thought they would.  So growth and change.

I might like to have made more responsible choices with the money I had after selling the land I inherited (I'm sure Mrs. Potatohead would have appreciated us being less hand-to-mouth for those years.), but I did the best I could with the budgeting skills I had at the time (facility with math does not equate to understanding the concept of budgeting, parents).  It was so many small choices leading up to "Oh, wow.  Where did all that money go?"  (not that it was a lot, but more than I'd ever had at any one time before)  When I win the lottery, oh, the things I know now...

I'd rather go forward, using the things I've learned, sometimes at great expense, to make the future better.  I can't change the past, no matter how much I might wish to.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Book: Making Him Sweat by Meg Maguire

I was provided a digital copy of this book by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sweet love story. Its sweetness was countered by the offputting graphic language during the love scenes. I'm all for graphic descriptions - I am not afraid of the f-bomb. But the language (not the descriptions, mind you, which were honestly relatively tame) felt completely out of place when compared to the rest of the story.

I like the detail of Jenna getting to know her father through his letters, and the somewhat realistic detail of both Jenna and Mercer feeling like they could get over the relationship fairly quickly, just by not acknowledging that they were serious about each other.

There could have been some more wrap-up at the end, but I'm thinking that perhaps some of those things will be in the beginning of the next book, to give readers some continuity.

All in all, I enjoyed the book and would read more by this author.

Making Him Sweat

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Yeah, sometimes families suck, too.

My little sister asked me a couple of weeks ago to pick her up at the airport tomorrow - she's coming into town early to spend a couple of days with our parents because she has to work over christmas.  I agreed to pick her up, knowing that I would have to figure out the gas situation and such.

Last week, my stepmother called me to find out if I *needed* my gift/check early.  I declined.  She said she hoped it didn't bother me that she'd called.  She also mentioned my sister.  So I texted my sister to ask if I was still going to pick her up at the airport.  She never texted me back, but messaged me on FB a couple of days later to say that mom & dad were picking her up, to save me the trip.

How kind of them.  And they probably think they're being nice, too.  Except that I haven't seen my sister in two years (oh, wait, I did see her for about ten minutes last year when she dropped off my "christmas presents" on her way back out of town), and I was looking forward to having thirty or forty-five minutes with her in the car on the way to our parents' house.  Now I won't get to see her at all.

And I'm feeling angry and resentful about it.  And sad.

All I can do is remind myself that I'm different. I'm not that kind of parent.

There is nothing, not one single solitary thing I can imagine, that my kid could ever do that would make me shun her.  Nothing.  I might not like her behavior, and I won't hesitate to tell her so, but I won't turn my back on her, ever.  It's definitely one of the things I learned about parenting from my own parents, and resolved never to do.

Those of you who have loving families, however dysfunctional or weird, cherish them.  Some of us aren't so lucky.

Bedbugs suck

Good night.
Sleep tight.
Don't let the bed bugs bite.

You've probably all heard it.  It's not just a nursery rhyme or whatever.

Might I suggest that if you ever have the opportunity to be infested with bedbugs, you should graciously decline.  Or run for the motherfrakking hills.  Burn the house down.  Whatever it takes.

Things I've learned:

  • Alchohol kills them on contact.  I keep a spray bottle beside my bed.  For the rest of my life, I will probably associate the scent of rubbing alcohol with these frakking bugs.
  • I am allergic to them.  I have been taking generic benadryl by the fours to keep the itch to a highly-pissed-off lion's roar.  That doesn't help the welts or swelling, of course, just the itch.
  • Diatomaceous earth kills them, but it takes longer, and they have to touch it, which means the ones in hiding aren't dying.  However, it is not harmful to me, so there's that.
  • Exception to the above: the DE aggravates my asthma if I am not careful about covering my nose/mouth when I spread it.
  • Organic pesticides, like you can get at Home Depot, rather than killing the bugs, make them breed faster.  
  • They don't like menthol - such as Vick's VapoRub or Baby Vick's or Mentholatum.  Aside from that, they also get stuck in it, and can't bite me.
  • The aforementioned menthol products take the sting out of the itch better than any itch cream.  They also keep them from biting whatever I've slathered the stuff onto - hands, jaw, neck, chest, ankles.
  • Even I, with my superhuman powers of itch-resistance, still itch so much that I will have permanent scars on my hands and feet.  I will also probably feel creepy-crawlies on my skin for a good long while.  
  • The more layers you wear, the harder it is for them to get to your skin.  The tighter something is, the less likely they'll get through.  
  • They especially like the soft skin of a sideboob or face.  Oy.  
  • The smaller they are, the more they hurt when they bite.
  • They DO bite house pets.  Whoever said they didn't lied.  They prefer human blood, but will feed on any warm-blooded mammal if humans are not available.
  • If you even think you might have them, get on the internet and find out for sure - there are lots of pictures to go by.  Then, find a reputable place that does full-house treatments.  Extreme heat and extreme cold kill them virtually instantly. Then, wash and dry everything that can take it in hot water and on high heat in the dryer.  If it won't take it, you can try drycleaning, though that doesn't always kill them.  
Best piece of advice:  Just don't get bed bugs.  If you travel, check out your hotel's mattress before sleeping on it.  When you come back, steam clean your suitcase, or if there's room, stick it in the freezer for a couple of days (if you do this, leave all your clothes in the suitcase).  Wash everything - don't just stick stuff back in your drawers because you didn't end up wearing it.  If you buy used furniture, check it carefully and steam clean it before you put it in your house.  

I cannot stress enough how much you want to avoid getting bed bugs.  DANGER, WILL ROBINSON!