Sunday, December 16, 2012

After A Very Long Absence.....

I'm back!!

Yes, after a very long (much longer than planned) absence I’m back again.  The reasons for the lengthy time away are many.  First off, because of the Very Evil Person who was the manager for the department I worked in, I had to leave it.  I was heartbroken that I couldn’t stay in a place I truly believed I was meant to be.  And it took a while to completely understand I was a victim of workplace harassment and that no one would do anything.  I went to the union and they tried but the HR department kept putting us off again and again and after a while in the new department, I had to let it go to get past it.  I wish now I hadn’t as she struck again and my dear coworker I worked with also recently bid out as the Very Evil Person cast her spell on my friend – to the point of calling her into her office and telling my friend she wasn’t allowed to talk to anyone unless it was work related and especially me and another person.  The irony is I barely spoke to my friend at work, not wanting to draw the attention of the Evil Person to her.  And my friend has returned (early) after taking time off from dealing with breast cancer.  That didn’t stop the Evil Person though and so far the union hasn’t really helped my friend though she has gone to them too.

But I love the department I’m in now though I had never seen busy until I went there.  For a few months I was working overtime just about every day and weekends in an effort to try and catch up on the massive amount of work that pours in – and another reason I wasn’t blogging.  I finally burnt out and faced the fact that we were never really going to catch up.  Since the manager knows this too, though the pressure to work hard and fast is there, the NEW manager is a good one and is very supportive.

Then there was the fact I was diagnosed with Type II diabetes. I think I mentioned that, but I started going to the gym more and more in an effort to get myself out of the terrible shape I’d managed to get into over the years.  Combine that with a whole lot of overtime and I’d come home and zombie like watch some telly, read some and crash.

Then, when I was getting ready to make a return, the gym I belong to had a weight loss challenge I signed up for and that meant even longer hours at the gym.  The prize for first place was $10,000 so as you can imagine, that was an excellent incentive.  One of the conditions was you had to have so many sessions with a trainer.  Way back when I first joined, knowing if I didn’t do something like work with a trainer, I would drift back into old habits.  That kind of happened over summer.  Although I was still working out, bad food was creeping back into the diet.  But now I’m straightened out again and discovered much to my amazement that I LOVE roasted veggies and that a salad with some cooked chicken thrown in tastes very, very good with a vinaigrette instead of say Thousand Island dressing.

I ultimately didn’t win, the person who did lost 66 pounds next to my measly 23, but better than winning was stopping at the gym and eating healthy has become a lifestyle now which is good.  And while I still have quite a ways to go, I’ve lost almosthisclose to 50 lbs – probably by next week it will be *official*.  And as I said on Twitter – yep I came back there tonight – it’s being healthy that’s the best.  It’s being able to go 10 minutes on the elliptical, ride the bike over 5 miles, walk a mile on the treadmill, that makes me feel really good.  It’s knowing my heart is healthy and getting healthier, that I’ve lengthened my life expectancy I think, that I’m not so short of breath I even scare myself that is the wonderful thing.

I really do have so much to say that I think I’m going to have to do this in 2 parts.  What I’ve wrote so far is much of the outer of me, but the inner me has undergone changes to so that’s up next post.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Recent Read

About Last Night by Ruthie Knox

Why this one: I read a pretty good review for it at AAR.  The reviewer said it had been "recommended" by Amazon if she "liked" Sarah Mayberry.  I was getting the same rec and once I read the AAR review, was convinced to try it myself.

Steam Level:  Oooh, it's a steamy one alright.

Blurb:  Sure, opposites attract, but in this sexy, smart, eBook original romance from Ruthie Knox, they positively combust! When a buttoned-up banker falls for a bad girl, “about last night” is just the beginning.
Cath Talarico knows a mistake when she makes it, and God knows she’s made her share. So many, in fact, that this Chicago girl knows London is her last, best shot at starting over. But bad habits are hard to break, and soon Cath finds herself back where she has vowed never to go . . . in the bed of a man who is all kinds of wrong: too rich, too classy, too uptight for a free-spirited troublemaker like her.

Nev Chamberlain feels trapped and miserable in his family’s banking empire. But beneath his pinstripes is an artist and bohemian struggling to break free and lose control. Mary Catherine—even her name turns him on—with her tattoos, her secrets, and her gamine, sex-starved body, unleashes all kinds of fantasies.

When blue blood mixes with bad blood, can a couple that is definitely wrong for each other ever be perfectly right? And with a little luck and a lot of love, can they make last night last a lifetime?

My Thoughts:  I thought this was a very enjoyable read. It was the story of two opposites, Cath, an American with ties to the Mafia living in England and Nev, a uppercrust businessman with the soul of an artist. Although a contemporary and while not titled, Nev kind of reminded me of how  an author might right the second son of a duke or earl or something.
Both Nev and Cath were well done characters.  Cath was a bit on the prickly side, not wanting to get involved with Nev because of her screwed up past and certainty that someone like him was too good for her screwed up self.  When done right, a prickly heroine is one of my favourite kinds and Cath is done very good.  I love the way Nev, a wonderful Beta type heroes admires so much about Cath.  He is completely gone for her and I love when the hero is so take with the heroine and has to battle to 'win her over'.
And I appreciated that despite his upper class upbringing, Nev, far from being the starchy banker Cath thought he was by the very nickname, City, that she gave him, was very unpretentious and down to earth.  And I also enjoyed the fact that Cath worked so hard to overcome her early mistakes.  I got a kick out of the inner battle she wagered between earlier, wilder Cath and wiser and more mature Cath.

Although I've read English set historicals for years, this is the first contemporary book I can remember reading that is set in England and that made it even more interesting. I like that she was an American trying to make her way in the art world in London.  

I'm glad I have Ruthie Knox's other book, Ride with Me in my queue.  It saves me the time in having to go back and read it.  This is the second LoveSwept title I've read recently and both have impressed me quite a bit.  I have a few other ones in the line now on my Kindle, both new releases like Ride With Me, Slow Summer Kisses by Shannon Stacey and Her Best Worst Mistake by Sarah Mayberry along with some older books rereleased under the LoveSwept line such as Lightning the Lingers by Tom and Sharon Curtins and the next one I plan to get asap, The Last Warrior by Kristen Kyle.  Love those two books!

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Recent Read

Because of You by Jessica Scott

Why this one: To be explained below

Steam Level: Just about perfect

Blurb: From the war-torn streets of Baghdad to the bittersweet comforts of the home front, two wounded hearts navigate the battlefield of coming home from war in this explosive eBook original from newcomer Jessica Scott.

Keeping his men alive is all that matters to Sergeant First Class Shane Garrison. But meeting Jen St. James the night before his latest deployment makes Shane wonder if there's more to life than war. He leaves for Iraq remembering a single kiss with a woman he'll never see again- until a near fatal attack lands him back at home and in her care.  Jen has survived her own brush with death and endured its scars. And yet there's a fire in Shane that makes Jen forget all about her past. He may be her patient, but when this warrior looks her in the eyes, she feels - for the first time in a long time - like a woman. Shane is too proud to ask for help, but for Jen, caring for him is more than a duty -it's a need. And as Jen guides Shane through the fires of healing, she finds something she never expected - her deepest desire.

My Thoughts:  Not long ago I got an email from this author asking if I would do a review of her book.  I don’t always respond to requests to review, but something prompted me to this time.  As I was reading the email and then reading the synopsis she had included, it did sound like a book I would enjoy so the next time I went out to a place with WiFi – yes, I still can’t get the WiFi working at home – I bought a copy and sent her an email saying I didn’t like accepting books but I did buy a copy and hopefully I’d be in a mood to read it and would let her know what I thought.

Well, I was in the mood sooner than I thought I would be and started reading Because of You yesterday.  Once I started, I could hardly bear to put it down.  I worked today – I’m working overtime like crazy these days – but even as I was working I was looking forward to getting home so I could read some more.
I’m not quite sure where to begin in describing this book.  From the very first page I appreciated that the hero, Shane Garrison, was a regular soldier.  It’s not that I don’t like SEAL’s but they are becoming the dukes and viscounts and earls of contemporary romance and a little are starting to go a long way.  So I found it refreshing that Shane was a Sergeant First Class.

Another thing that really struck me from the beginning was Because of You has such an authentic feel to it.  Apparently Ms. Scott is a career soldier herself and you can tell with every word and every nuance that this is real.  The characters may be fictional, but they don’t come across that way at all.  They truly come to life, from the hero Shane and the heroine Jen St. James, a nurse who works as a nurse in the army hospital, to the men under Shane’s command and the friends of Jen, each one is so fully alive, you could swear you are reading about real people.

And while this is a romance, it’s a romance plus so much more.  It’s about loss, the loss of a way of life for Shane when he is severely injured and shipped home to recuperate.  His whole identity is wrapped up in leading his men and he’s lost when he can’t be there to protect them.  It’s about physical loss with Jen.  She has lost a part of her body and hasn’t come to terms with it yet.  She is unprepared really for the desire that flares between her and Shane.  It’s about the loss of a partner that Jen’s best friend feels every time her husband and good friend of Shane’s is shipped into combat and it’s about the loss of friends that plagues one of the men under Shane who has also been seriously injured while fighting for his country.

And it’s about healing. It’s how Shane and Jen heal each other.  Shane is a loner who hasn’t had much of a personal life; he didn’t know who his father was, his mother was a drunk and his ex-wife cheated on him and took him to the cleaners.  So he is awed by Jen and who she is.  And with Shane, Jen is forced to confront her own issues that have remained unresolved.

While this is an intense and emotional book, there are wonderful moments of humour, especially in the hilarious character of Carponti, one of Shane’s men and the bane of his existence.

I don’t know what it was that caused me to linger on this one, but I’m sure glad I did.  I missed the buzz when it first came out due to my terrible online track record lately so I’m glad I found it now and will be waiting eagerly for her next book.

Grade: 4.75 out of 5

Monday, June 25, 2012

I went missing again didn't I?

So I owe an update I think.  I've still been busy working out a lot lately but I've also been dealing with another issue that's had me somewhat stressed.  It seems my manager and I don't get along.  It's been like that since she started last summer, but it's really been magnified since I went back to work full time.  It became very apparent to me that she 'had it out for me' and I never knew when I would get into, well, I'll say it, shit.  It happened quite a bit but I never knew what would set her off.  As one can imagine, living under that kind of pressure was somewhat taxing.

After one particular ugly incident, I realized that I could no longer work for her; that one of use would have to go.  I was starting to get that feeling when I got up in the morning that I didn't want to go to work, that I was almost afraid.  And of course once you start feeling like that it was downward spiral.  After the incident, though it almost broke my heart to do it, there was an opening in the department I previously worked in and I applied for the position and got it.  I don't expect everyone to like me, thank goodness I've reached the point where it doesn't bother me if they don't, but I will not work in the kind of environment I was working in.  I had my performance evaluation as one last kick at the can so to speak and it was the worst one I've ever had in all the years I've been working.  I wasn't surprised though.

So the new/old department is crazy busy and unlike where I came from, the manager appreciates the people who work for her and already it's like a heavy boulder has been lifted.  The department doubled in size today and in preparation for it, we have been working quite a bit of overtime.  So much so that last week I only worked out ONCE all week!  The rest of the nights I worked late.

I also did something that was very, very unusual on the weekend.  My son we shall call Ryan and daughter-in-law we shall call Kara came over and Kara and I went out to a garden centre and bought some plants, most of them for me.  The three of us then spent about four hours planting them.  Now people who know me will be laughing and laughing and laughing because I'm so not, or at least I so wasn't a plant person.  In fact I used to tell many of my coworkers who could discuss plants and flowers for hours on end, that they had been taken over by the Flower Pod People and warned those few of us who didn't discuss flowers to be on our guard in case they tried to get hold of us!!  
Well, the Plant Pod People found me.  At age 57, I planted my first flowers.  And if that's not scary enough, I went out the next day and bought a few more to plant.  And I got three bags of soil!!    
And tonight I terrified myself when I stopped at a hardware store and bought a shovel to dig a whole to plant the plants I bought yesterday.  See, Ryan dug the holes before and he had some strange looking implement that was in the shed and said it would have been a lot easier if I had a shovel.  And seeing as they spent almost the whole day with me minus the evening on Saturday, and Kara showed me how to plant flowers, I want to try these ones on my own.  And for that, I figured I'd need a shovel.  And as if I'm not scaring myself enough with this sudden and perplexing urge to "garden" and buy plants and shovels, I also bought a specialized implement to get rid of weeds and one of those kneeling pads for when I *shudder* weed the garden.

See!!!  I'm scaring myself.  I've been taken over!!  Good think I've been working overtime to pay for these new tools and plants and things.  I really must take pictures once the weeds are all gone.  Pod Kristie thinks it looks very nice and is very proud of the work done.

So that's what's been keeping my from blogging.  And oh, one more thing.  I took the wobble cushion off my chair in the computer room and it's ever so much more comfortable sitting down now.  The wobble cushion may be good for my back, but it sure is uncomfortable to sit one I tell you!
I hope to be back much sooner this time.  I have rather a large number of books I want to blog about that I'm most excited about.
So, until later......

Sunday, June 24, 2012

For those who haven't seen this yet

I hadn't and my son showed it to me outside a restaurant yesterday and I was laughing so hard tears were rolling down my face!!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


I don’t understand this new hair style on guys – the bald style.  There are a number of trainers at the gym and I think they are young dudes, but they all have their heads shaved so it’s kind of hard to tell.  I do not like this look.  I try to imagine them with hair to tell if they are cute or not, but I can’t imagine it.  While I thought Yul Brenner was fine in his day, Vin Diesel, the Rock and other famous head hairless guys are a turn off for me.  I don’t know why, if they have hair, they shave it all off.  It’s one thing if they really are bald.  My youngest, should he let his hair grow, would be half bald, and don’t think I didn’t give him many a warning when he was a kid and trash talked to his dad and his lack of hair.  I told Rye chances are he would lose his too – and sure enough I was right!)  My older son on the other hand, also keeps his hair to an almost nonexistent level, but he does have it should he let it grow.  I just don’t get this trend.  I may have pondered this before – but if so, I’m still pondering on it and the why of it.  Short hair on men I've come to grips with, but no hair????

They have a pool at the “club” I go to so when I go to the locker rooms, there are many women in various stages of undress.  I’m very disconcerted that this disconcerts me.  I don’t know why I’m rather unnerved at the sight of half-naked women.  The lockers are in short rows and if there is someone sitting there minus their clothes, I automatically move to the next short row and look for a locker.   I think I maybe should talk to a shrink about that.  I'm sure they would be fascinated

At the risk of sounding redundant, I hate the word haters.  In so many areas anymore if you don’t like something, you are called a “hater”.  I may not like the Kardasians but in no way shape or form could I be called a “hater”.  To me to hate something involves strong passion.  And I don’t have a strong passion against Kardasian family.  I think the mother (who most annoyingly shares the same name as me) is your typical stage mother magnified many times over; the girls are somewhat annoying although I do have a certain fondness for Chloe.  Poor Bruce has made a mockery of what was once a fine face and I did like Rob on DWTS.  As for the younger girls, I’ve never watched the show so I have no opinion on them.
But my point is I think most people accused of being haters aren’t – they just don’t give a rat’s ass.  Of course you have your nut jobs, you will always have those.  But in general, “hater” is a misnomer.

I am bound and determined to cut down on my TV reality show watching.  I watch way too much of it.  From Sister Wives to Toddlers and Tiara’s to DWTS, it’s taking over my life and sucking time I could be cleaning the house or reading or any number of better time management things.  I started last night when I turned the TV off after DWTS and refused to give in to another season of the Bachelor/Bachelorette.  I will allow myself So You Think You Can Dance – and that’s it!  I’m going to have to get my Wi-Fi working at home again though as there are some of us who live tweet during the show; apart from the main hash tag group.  I prefer the group smaller and more intimate.
But other than SYTYCD THAT IS IT.  No more reality TV for me!

On a further note about not getting Wi-Fi on my IPad – it’s driving me batty!  I have tried everything I can think of to get it going.  It works when I go to a wireless place such as McDonalds (only for coffee these days, only for coffee – I haven’t had any real fast food other than the very healthy choice at Subway going on 2 months now – and surprisingly enough, I’m not missing it.  I’m not missing cola either).  Wireless worked at my sister’s place though I didn’t use it that often as she isn’t limitless.  Should someone with an IPAD come to my place it works on theirs.  I have had a technician over twice – and have the bill to prove it – but to no avail.  It cut out on me again the last upgrade and I haven’t been able to get it back again.  I miss my tweeting.

It just seems wrong that healthy food costs more than garbage food.  My food bill has skyrocketed since I started eating healthier.  And a nice bag of chips last ever so much longer than a tray of strawberries.    This just seems grossly unfair to me.  The more I eat healthy, the more it's costing me.  Apparently there is an epidemic of obesity going on in North America but the food producers and restaurants aren't helping things out any!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The ANTI 50 Shades topic

There is a ridiculously long thread over at one of my favourite places to visit, AAR on this series of books.  Mind you, I think most of the pages are kept going mostly by two particular posters, but that’s neither here nor there.   I think 18 + 18 + 12 (and counting) PAGES of this book is a record. I’ve only made one post during the whole thing and that wasn’t really connected to the topic of the book.  So I think us ANTI 50 Shades need a voice.

Reason #1: I have no intention at this time of reading this book. Nothing in the VAST number of posts there has convinced me otherwise. First off, and I mean this as no judgment, but the conflict of the book; the hero is into BDSM has zero, zip, nada interest to me. Again no judgment but for me personally, this is a lifestyle I have no interest in. I prefer a relationship that is balanced between the protagonists. That’s reason number one why I don’t plan on getting/reading this book.

 Reason #2: From what I gather, this is not unlike a Harlequin Presents line – only hotter and by many accounts, better. I enjoy many a Harlequin line but I never have tried and do not really want to try this particular one. Again, they strike me as slightly unbalanced in power between the uber rich Greek/Italian/etc. Tycoon/Millionaire/Billionaire and the baby mama/secretary/dog walker – whatever.

Reason #3: From some of the posts I gather the hero/heroine don’t talk the way Americans/Canadians would. They talk Brit speak. One particular poster said she just had to think they were actually British and not Americans to get past some of the peculiar phrases and terms. I’ve no desire to play that kind of game in my mind. I have no trouble suspending belief on many a subject in romance, but I don’t want to do it because the author doesn’t get the difference between the ways the two cultures talk. Set the book in England for Pete’s sake and don’t make us pretend we are playing ‘airplane’ in order to swallow things.

Reason #4: One of the big discussion points/controversies on this book is it stated as a work of fan fiction and then took off to the stratosphere. I haven’t read the Twilight books it’s based on and I don’t care to. So I can’t say how much it may resemble them. But I’m not interested in fanfic. I know some authors, such as Meljean Brook started off writing fanfic. But then she developed her own brand new world. I may be wrong but it seems to me like fanfic was her springboard onto other things.  She then went on to completely develop her own entire worlds and characters, which in my opinion makes the two authors totally different cases.  But I do believe the author of 50 Shades is selling her fanfic work. Where once it could be found free, now it’s over $11 a book here in Canada. I’m not quite sure how I feel about that, though I tend to think ‘good for her’ but I still don’t want to read this series of books.

Reason #5: I think its first person – someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I have a much harder time getting into first person as a rule. Of course there are exceptions; the Stephanie Plum books, Lisa Kleypas trilogy and the Blair Mallory books by Linda Howard. But those authors I trusted having read many of their previous books – well, not the Evanovich books but they aren’t really romance so for some reason it’s a bit different. In romance, I also want the hero’s POV and you just don't get it in Fifty Shades.  Some books where I know the author, while disappointed, I can accept and even love the book.  But in this case I don't really want to try.

Reason #6: The price. As I mentioned, they are over $11 here for the eBooks and as there are 3 of them, that’s $33. I’m not about to spend that kind of money anymore on an unknown author. There are two of them and only two that I will go over $10 and they are JD Robb (not Nora) and Linda Howard. It drives me crazy not buying authors I love if they are charging over $10 for an eBook so I certainly won’t be paying over that for an unknown to me author.

Reason #7 I’m just perverse. I’m not sure if I can exactly say this to come out the way I want to, but the attention this book is getting is just SO overblown to me. I was on the stationery bike today at lunch (yes, I’m still a beast) and Access – the hour long one – and Billy Bush and Lisa Rinna were on talking about this book and speculating about who should play the roles.  I have been reading romance for all my life in one form or another and romance almost exclusively for the past 20 years or so. For a good deal of those years I wouldn’t tell other people my genre of choice but in the past few years, I’ve not only been telling people, I’ve been proud to tell them. And now this book comes out and all of a sudden it’s ‘cool’ to talk about sex and 50 Shades.

I’ve known all my life what a wonderful thing the romance genre is so I’m not going to go jumping on some particular book bandwagon just because Billy Bush and so many other people are talking about it. It may be the most wonderful book ever, but I’m not a wagon jumper, and I often don’t want to go along with the crowd. So those are my reasons why chances are very good I won’t be reading this book. Unlike what some of the more prolific posters have said on the never ending thread, it’s not about jealousy, it’s not because I’m a fan girl of other sites that have discussed this book; in fact the only place I’ve actually half-assed followed any discussion of this book phenom is at AAR.

In the past couple of days since I started this post, the 50 Shades discussion has started where I work and even still - I've no desire to read it.  

Some on that lengthy post have said us who don't plan/want to read the books really don't have the right to talk about it.  But I say we do!!!  And I'm here to say why this is one romance reader who will be passing these by.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Recent Movie - Review

The Lucky One

Synopsis:  Based on Nicholas Sparks' bestseller The Lucky One, Zac Efron ("17 Again," "Charlie St. Cloud") stars alongside Taylor Schilling (TV's "Mercy") and Blythe Danner ("Meet the Parents" franchise) in this romantic drama directed by Academy Award®-nominated writer/director Scott Hicks ("Shine," "No Reservations").
U.S. Marine Sergeant Logan Thibault (Efron) returns from his third tour of duty in Iraq, with the one thing he credits with keeping him alive—a photograph he found of a woman he doesn't even know. Learning her name is Beth (Schilling) and where she lives, he shows up at her door, and ends up taking a job at her family-run local kennel. Despite her initial mistrust and the complications in her life, a romance develops between them, giving Logan hope that Beth could be much more than his good luck charm
Steam Level:  Oh! My!

My Thoughts:  Oh! My!  My job share partner bid for another job at the same place a couple of weeks ago and she got it.  So I had to decide whether to go back full time or see if I could find someone else to job share with.  Since I went part time, things have changed quite a bit.  First of all, when I did go part time I lost all benefits, sick days, vacation time etc.  Since I was diagnosed with diabetes, my expenses have gone up.  I'm having to take more meds (for the time being anyway) I joined a gym and have myself a personal trainer.  On top of that, I seem to have misplaced my glasses and since it's been more than a few years since I had my eyes checked, it's most definitely time for a new pair.  All of this is costing money I'm not making anymore so I decided to go back full time.  I'm much healthier now, have more stamina and more endurance and all this exercise is starting to have a very strange effect on me, in a good way.  I am able to handle stress much better.  The same kind of thing that would drive me batty a few short months ago doesn't bother me as much as it used to.  I start back full time on Monday.

So what, you are wondering, does any of this have to do with the movie The Lucky One???  Well, I've kind of been wanting to see this movie, but every since Message in a Bottle, I've been gun shy of Nicholas Sparks movies.  But I was talking to a coworker today who went to see the movie on Monday.  I asked her, not exactly how it ended, but did it have a happy ending.  She laughed and said yes.  Tomorrow is my last mid-week day off so at the last minute, I decided to go to the show after my workout tonight.  The theatre is nice and close, the timing of when the movie would start vs the time I would finish with my trainer was perfect and I've been having such a craving for movie popcorn, I decided to go it alone and go to the show.

Now we get to the movie :-)

Oh! My!  Now it's no surprise to anyone I love a good romance and this one was excellent.  I LOVED THIS MOVIE.  Yes, yes, it can be argued it's rather simplistic in it's storyline.  I got talking to the girl sitting next to me before it started and she said she didn't like this kind of movie (chick flick).  When it was over and the lights were up and the credits were rolling, I asked her what she thought.  She said it was kind of cheesy and I'm not saying it wasn't, but even as she was saying it, I noticed she was smiling seemed rather happy.  And really, isn't that how we like to feel after we finish a good romance.

Yes, the story was almost step by step and I've no desire whatsoever to read the book as I think this kind of thing would bother me, but Zac Efron, besides being wonderful, wonderful eye candy, brought a lot of character to the role of Logan Thibault (pronounced Teebow which I found amusing).  He made me feel the loneliness and lostness of Logan and the frustration in not being able to tell Beth the truth about why walked from Colorado to Louisiana.  I was very pleasantly surprised at how well he played the role.

And I also loved the way Taylor Schilling played Beth.  She is intimidated and rather frightened of her ex, but she grows through the movie and is able to stand up to him.  Of course there is a misunderstanding between her and Logan - don't romance books have them all the time?  But they both made it believable.   And the chemistry between them - wowzers thought I.  The love scenes weren't too explicit, but very steamy nevertheless.

And Blythe Danner was quite a scene stealer as Beth's Nana.

The Lucky One isn't going to win any kind of Academy Awards.  I'm sure some people will make fun of it - just as some people make fun of romance books.  But at the end of the movie when someone who doesn't like this kind of movie was smiling, well, to me that says it's done it's work of making us romance fans sigh and feel good.  That's what I want most of all from a movie - or a romance book.

Grade: 5 out of 5

Sunday, April 22, 2012

I work out, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle

My goodness!!  I don't blog for a while and Blogger has totally changed it's look.

Anyway, back to where I was going.  Nath emailed me the other day to ask how I was doing and I realized it's time for an update since it's been a while since I posted.

It turns out that I'm not prediabetic, I'm not borderline diabetic.  I flat out have it.  I have to test my blood now (and oh how I hate that finger pricking)  but I choose to see it as a good thing.  I knew by the lifestyle or rather in a way lack of lifestyle, I was headed that way.  And as I said before, it was the boot in the butt I needed.  So - yes indeed I am still on the healthy life style track.  I'm working out at the gym six days a week now for at least an hour.  I do it on my way home from work as the gym is on the way.  In a way, that's the easy part.  I've attended a couple of seminars now on diabetes and it's really been impressed on me that I need to be a lot more strict with myself on eating.  That's the hard part.  I have about a half hour range of time that I have to eat in and there is where I'm finding it a bit harder.  On weekend and days off I tend to delay breakfast quite a bit and I can't do that anymore.

And dinner is even harder!  I stop at the gym which means I don't get home until sometime after 6.  Then I have to rest for a while because I'm tired from work and tired from working out and just need to totally zone out for a bit.  Then it's on to cooking dinner, then eating dinner which alas, is leaving little time for blogging.  And gosh darn it all, I miss is!

But - on the plus side, I'm feeling better than I have been for years.  It's kind of like I'm starting to emerge from a cocoon I've been in since Ron died.  I have a lot more energy, I'm in a generally much better mood, my blood sugar levels are very good and I have more endurance than in I can't remember!  I'm parking at the back of the parking lot at the gym to get that extra bit of walking and wonder of wonders I'm not winded when I get there!!  You have no idea how good that feels.

I'm still eating healthy although now it's a bit different.  With diabetes, it's all about the carbs and I have trouble getting all the carbs I need in, especially at dinner.  And I'm supposed to have snacks - between breakfast and lunch, then lunch and dinner and then the most important one - in the evening.  Unless it's chips or some equally VERY BAD junk food, I just don't want to eat after dinner and before bed.  I don't want to, I don't want to, I don't want to!!  But I must, I must, I must - see the struggle?

My blood sugar levels are very good and I only have to stick a pin in me once a day now so my fingers are most grateful.  And I have lost weight.  I still have so much farther to go and it's easy to get discouraged but I have to keep telling myself " this is not what it's about - and look how far you've come and just take it one day at a time" and all the other stuff that works most of the time but then the odd times I want to tell my inner voice to just fuck right off and eat that damn bag of chips.  But thankfully, I've ignored that particular voice in my head.

But, that's why the lack of regular posts.  I'm beat by the time I'm ready to blog and I still have to get my reading in.  And then of course there is The Voice, Dancing with the Stars, The Biggest Loser and best of all, Game of Thrones.

But hopefully as I go on I'll start bouncing back quicker and able to do more blogging in the very near future.

'til later

Monday, March 26, 2012

Recent Read

Celebrity in Death by JD Robb

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grade: 4.75 out of 5

Friday, March 23, 2012

Real Life Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Second time - March TBR Challenge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bad Boy’s Do by Victoria Dahl.

Steam Level: very nicely warm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grade: 4.75 out of 5

Real Men Will by Victoria Dahl

Steam Level: yep, steamy!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grade: 4.50 out of 5

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

Thursday, March 15, 2012

TBR Challenge - March

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

Back to our regularly scheduled program


Marrying the Captain by Carla Kelly

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

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

Steam Level: Warm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grade: 3.5 out of 5

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Recent Reads

From one end of the spectrum to the other

It’s rare that I have two such different responses to books by the same author. The first one I read is an keeper and the second I’m sad to say will probably be a DNF. Though I read the keeper first, I’ll start with the probable DNF; just so we end on a happy note.

Captain Sinister’s Lady by Darlene Marshall

Why this one: I loved the previous book I read by her and this one sounded like adorable follow-up.

Steam Level: Chances are good this one will be a DNF and I didn’t get far enough to reach steam level

Blurb: Morgan Roberts, AKA Captain Sinister, dreams of leaving the sea and running away to farm, but when the Zephyr comes across a damaged ship wallowing in the Florida Straits, it's just too good an opportunity for any self-respecting privateer to pass up.

Amanda Stephenson is a widow traveling from Yorkshire to Charleston in the 1820's to set up her soap-making business. It's a grand adventure, just as she's always dreamed—until her ship is boarded by the crew of the Zephyr. Amanda’s plans for her future do not include large, hairy, uncouth pirates.

Morgan Roberts has his work cut out for him, but he's prepared to try his most piratical tricks if it will convince the luscious widow to become Captain Sinister's Lady.

My Thoughts: As I said, this one sounds adorable – a pirate who wants to run away from sea and become a farmer. Who could resist such a premised based on that and a love of a previously read book. Not me, that’s for sure. But alas, I was SO disappointed with what I’ve read so far. My favourite books are the ones where I can feel the characters, where they almost seem like real, fully developed characters, but neither Morgan or Amanda felt like real people to me. I don’t really know how to explain why not, except maybe they weren’t developed enough – we didn’t really get to know them that much so far. Amanda is a widow whose parents had both died but I didn’t get a sense that none of the deaths affected her; they didn’t shape or form her personality at all. There wasn’t anything wrong with her, there just wasn’t that much to her.

I had the same issue with Morgan. At least as far as I got, it was briefly mentioned that he was an orphan but again, this didn’t seem to affect him all that much. For a pirate – or rather privateer – he’s actually kind of, well, boring. And one doesn’t like to read about a boring pirate. They should be larger than life. Maybe not quite as large as life as Captain Jack Sparrow – he’s a difficult one to match. But despite having a great pirate or rather privateer name, Morgan just didn’t do it for me. It didn’t help either that he was described as having a full bushy beard, I am so not a fan of hairy heroes. Even worse, later on he is described as having very bush eyebrows and all I could think was “EEEWW, EEWW, EEWW, Andy Rooney, yuck!”

Now all of this I could have overlooked but then the hero does something that took him out of hero range for me. He wants to “court” Amanda and rather than just ‘court” her, he arranges to have them dropped off on a deserted island for a few days so they could bond. But this turned into a TSTL thing to do as it was kind of a pirate hang out and at one point some bad pirates showed up, risking their lives. I don’t like a TSTL heroine and I also don’t like a TSTL hero.

Combine those factors along with the fact that I have way to many books that remain unread to keep going on one I’m not really enjoying and you end up with a DNF. Maybe if I hadn’t enjoyed the first one so much, maybe if the hero shaved his beard off (which he probably does later, but too little too late), if I could get a younger Andy Rooney out of my head, this might not have been such a disappointment and I might have continued.

Grade: DNF

Sea Change by Darlene Marshall

Why this one: I have meant to try her for a while now but she is primarily an ebook author and I didn’t have an ereader. By the time I did get one, I had forgotten about her until a review came up at AAR and some discussion of this book on the same site. The review was good, the posters enjoyed the book and I love a good pirate – excuse me, that would be privateer – book so I took the plunge.

Steam Level: Very nice cozy temperature

Blurb: American privateer Captain David Fletcher needs a surgeon for his wounded brother. But when he captures a British merchantman in the Caribbean, what he gets is Charley Alcott, an apprentice physician barely old enough to shave. Needs take priority over skill, and Captain Fletcher whisks the prisoner aboard his ship with orders to do his best or he'll be walking the plank. Charley Alcott's medical skills are being put to the test in a life--or--death situation--Charley's life as well as the patient's. Even if Charley can save the captain's brother, there will still be hell to pay, and maybe a plank to walk, when Captain Fletcher learns Charley is really Charlotte Alcott. A war is raging on the world's oceans, and two enemies will fight their own battles and their attraction to each other as they undergo a sea change neither of them is expecting, but cannot deny...

My Thoughts: I went into this book without much expectations. Though I’ve wanted to try this author for a while now, I hadn’t seen any reviews or anything for her books. I just kind of liked her on line voice and knew she wrote about pirates. And I came out completely charmed with this book.

Charlotte or Charley, is a young woman on her way to Jamaica. She has learned medicine at her father’s knew and after his death wants to continue practicing medicine. But she’s a woman and at this point in history, women doctors are, to say the very least, extremely rare. So she is disguised as a male while sailing and acting as a doctor for the captain’s pregnant wife. Their ship is hailed and Charley is stolen by a privateer, one David Fletcher, who is desperate for a doctor to save his younger brother’s life. Charley does indeed save his brother’s life and David realizes the benefits of having a doctor on board and decides to keep her. It’s a riot though as it takes him quite some time to figure out that Charley is really a Charlotte. In the meantime she treats his men for a wide variety of ailments, including STD’s.

The ‘girl disguised as a guy’ is fairly familiar and can either work very well or fall flat. For me it worked very well. A few people including David’s brother figure out that he’s a she, but David is clueless. This makes for some hilarious moments that had me laughing out loud. He can tell that Charley is attracted to him and that creeps him out. It gets even worse when he has ‘notions’ about her. He’s a big bad privateer don’t you know. There is one scene where he arranges for Charley to gain some ‘experience’ that is priceless. David really likes Charley as a person too and it’s nice to see them developing a friendship first. He can talk to Charley about things that he can’t talk to with many people. And he is somewhat bemused that he doesn’t intimidate her like he does so many others. She’ll stand up to him and give it right back to him. Not many people do that to him so he is intrigued that this young man who hasn’t even started shaving yet isn’t afraid of him.

I loved David, loved him, loved him, loved him. Once he finds out that Charley is Charlotte, his first reaction is horror that she is doing this doctor thing. He expects her to start acting like women should act. But eventually he realizes how good she is at what she does and how important it is to her so he accepts her as she is. He’s an alpha type hero, but an alpha with some softness in him.

And Charley is equally wonderful. She is making the best of this unusual path life has given her and she excels at what she does. When she finally makes it to Jamaica she really does give it her best effort to adapt to the lifestyle that women of her time lead. But she is just too different. She has experienced life to its fullest and doesn’t want to go back into the box.

I was most impressed with this book and while the first book here was a disappointment, Sea Change is her latest book so I hold out much hope that some of the others will make me as happy as this one did.

Grade: 5 out of 5