Friday, December 11, 2009

December is a write off...

Sheesh, between having two jobs, getting ready for Christmas, two family birthdays and football sundays. I'm having serious trouble finding much time for anything. I have read a couple books - here are my mini-reviews.

All You Can Eat - Emma Holly

This book was okay. It wasn't bad and it was certainly hot but I just didn't connect with the characters very well and preferred the heroines fling to the actual hero in the book. I didn't really by into the romance portion all that much either but it was entertaining.

Grade 6.5/10

The Lake - Richard Laymon

This was a horror novel which I found out after the fact was found amongst the authors things after he passed away and then published. Well - whoever made that decision did the author a serious disservice because I for one will never spend my hard earned dollars on a book by this man again despite the fact that most people feel this was a first draft that should never have been published and pales in comparison to his other works. You think you've read some pretty TSTL characters in romance novels or seen them in your typical horror movie? Trust me these two morons really take the cake. I'll just give you a small sample of beyond stupid things they did. Just a little background this is a mother and daughter. The daughter's boyfriend was just murdered by a psycho-path who then chased the daughter through the forest with a meat clever only she was lucky enough to hide and then make it to the police station. It is also made very clear to her that it appears she was a target and this wasn't a random attack. There are some spoilers here FYI.

1. Mother and daughter believe the psycho path may be in the house so they call the cops and hide in the bathroom. Sounds smart right only the cop who is coming is kinda hot right? So the mother turns on the hair dryer and starts blow drying hair before he gets there.

2. Daughter now knows there is a crazy man out to kill and decides that since she can't sleep she would take a kitchen knife and go out for a 1:00 a.m. run through the forest. Then she runs into some guy who thinks it's normal to walk is dog at 1:00 a.m. and rather than thinking Wow - I'm lucky he didn't attack and rape me I won't do this again she decides that he's really pretty cute and (her boyfriend has already been dead for a whole 7 days you know) she's going to go out again the next night in the hopes that she will run into him again then she goes to his house to have hot chocolate.

3. Another random psycho is trying to kill the daughter. The mother, daughter and another cop all know who it is and why and what he plans to do. They go home to the house where they have continued to live during numerous attacks on their lives, which the crazy killer has a key to (and the daughter is well aware of this) which is very remote and in the forest. Then the mother and the cop all have "emergencies" they just have to leave for and they leave the daughter in the house alone!!!!!!!!!! Are you kidding me????

I should also mention these were the two horniest women I've ever seen in my life. I don't think there was a moment in the book where they weren't getting "excited" about something that was happening. Not to mention the weird happenings that would pop up out of nowhere have nothing to do with the story then just dissappear never to be heard from again.

This book was horrible even if it was a first draft. The way the women behaved in this book was beyond ridiculous. I couldn't even tell you why I finished it but I did and I will never ever ever buy a book written by this author again.

Rating 0/10

Yeesh - on a happy note I'm currently reading By Design by Madeline Hunter and I think I may be enjoying it even more than By Arrangement.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


It was a busy weekend in the lonely bookworm household. The christmas lights are up outside, the christmas decorations and christmas tree are up inside and most importantly one entire year after my wonderful husband started building my bookshelves they are finally complete!!! No more books stacked on the floor or stored away in boxes they are all up on shelves. These are the ones he built for me in our bedroom. They are not completely finished but they are complete enough to hold books.

Then I stole my old bookshelves from my parents house to handle the overflow and lucky me I only filled two of the three so I have an entire shelf of space left.

I also had my husband and my father move my humongous reading chair from downstairs up into our extra room (my reading room) upstairs.

I'm definitely in my happy place this weekend :)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

WTF Giants?!?!?!

Wow. What the heck happened to my Giants?

I hate this chick

Okay, so I'm reading Wild Swan by Celeste DeBlasis which has been in my TBR pile for well over two years and was on my TBB list for at least 4 years prior to that. When I finally stumbled upon the whole series in a USB in Michigan I bought them all. Why? Well for one I'd spent four years looking for these books and damned if I was going to spend another four looking for the next book and two it had soooo many things going for it love triangle (my favourite plot type), it was huge and epic (I love big books), plus it had a glowing review on AAR and sounded right up my alley.

Well - as my title suggests (okay who am I kidding - screams) I hate this chick. I can't stand her she is just soooooo perfect and self-sacrificing it makes me want to puke. It seems like everytime I turn the page Alex is doing something else that is going to make her own life miserable but will undoubtedly improve someonelse's. To me this is not a strong heroine this is a martyr needlessly sacrificing herself on the alter of her own happiness. I mean jeez lady when your husband treats you like dirt for 6 months instead of stoically enduring it because of all he's been through step up and tell him he's hurting you instead of waiting for one of his friends to do it for you. Yes, yes, yes this is a common theme throughout romance novels but when the actual hero of the novel is standing there saying I will take you and the children away from this total douchebag who isn't good enough to lick the dirt off you're perfect feet and her response is "I love you more than anything but I can't do that to Sinje (yes please use your pet name for your husband when you are rejecting your lover) even though I don't think he loves me and has been treating me like a common whore I must stay with him for his own sake unless he chooses to leave me". Yes that is paraphrased but that's pretty much what she said.

Okay that was a huge run on sentence and this is turning into a very long rant. I'm obviously irritated but none-the-less I'm enjoying the book so I'm crossing my fingers that she evolves into something I can tolerate and the real hero actually finds someone better. It will never happen but a girl can dream.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Crimson City - Liz Maverick

This is another older review but I still haven't found anything that truly fills the Anita Blake void.

Sigh... I'm still trying to fill the void in my reading life that the current Anita Blake books have left. I had such high hopes for this series. I loved the idea of having different writers for each book in the series but having the same setting and characters. Unfortunately, here is yet another paranormal series that has fallen flat for me.

The story takes place in an alternate reality L.A. nicknamed Crimson City after the last war between species. The species in question are Werewolves, Humans and Vampires. Currently their is a tentative peace between the species but when a human killing machine (a mech) takes out the two head vampires leaving our heroine Fleur (dela something or other) as a defacto leader, Crimson City is teetering on the brink of another species war.

Dain is a member of some kind of night patrol for the military down on the humans level and for reasons I still don't understand (don't leaders of one society generally go talk other leaders when crap hits the fan?) Fleur and Dain form an alliance to try and figure out who sent the mech in the first place and who is responsible for all the random killings of vampires and humans.

My first problem with this book is that the romance between the h/h was really weak. Outside of the fact they were both ridiculously attractive I can't figure out why these two fell in love with one another and I certainly didn't see it. There was plenty of mental lusting going before the declaration of love but it didn't seem like the author put a whole lot of effort into the relationship. I still wasn't discouraged though I like lots of books that don't even have a relationship as long as the plot is interesting and action fast paced I'll still enjoy it.

As far as plot and action go this book was pretty meh. I don't know how to explain it but I couldn't get into the fighting scenes I just didn't care. I ended up skimming the last half of this book because it was just not holding my attention.

I don't know if I will pick up the next book or not even though it's by a different author I really don't care what happens to the characters or Crimson City. If your looking for an exciting paranormal series you may want to look elsewhere.

Rating 5/10

Thursday, November 19, 2009

What I've been up to...

Holy crap this minute taking has been kicking my ass. As soon as I look at a computer I start to get a headache. It doesn't help matters that the particular board I've been minute taking for does not get along and their meetings don't start until 7:30 and they are 3+ hours long!! Then I have to wake up in the morning and sort through 11 pages of petty bickering yeesh - I'm getting a head ache again.

Anyways, on to book stuff. I'm so not in the mood to write actual reviews so I'm just going to ramble a bit about what I've been reading.

Gone - Michael Grant
This book was awesome. Not perfect but awesome.

This is the blurb.

In the blink of an eye.
Everyone disappears.
Everyone except for the young. Teens. Middle schoolers. Toddlers. But not a single adult. No teachers, no cops, no doctors, no parents. Gone, too, are the phones, internet, and television. There is no way to get help.
Hunger threatens. Bullies rule. A sinister creature lurks. Animals are mutating. And the teens themselves are changing, developing new talents—unimaginable, dangerous, deadly powers—that grow stronger by the day.
It's a terrifying new world. Sides are being chosen and war is imminent.
The first in a breathtaking saga about teens battling each other and their darkest selves, gone is a page-turning thriller that will make you look at the world in a whole new way.

I don't normally browse the young adult section of the book store so I generally only pick them up when something on one of the display tables catches my attention. This one caught my attention because I thought the cover was ugly. After reading the back though I had to break one of my cardinal rules and purchase a stupid trade paperback. It was so worth it though. I loved this book. The story flew along and I mean flew. The action was pretty much non-stop through the whole thing and I actually cared about the characters. The bad guys were very bad and although I think the female characters could have been a little better fleshed out the male characters were very well done and multi-dimensional. I am so looking forward to the second book which is only out in hardcover right now and I absolutely refuse to buy. As soon as it comes out in paperback though you better believe I'll be picking it up.

Blood Rites - Dresden Files #6
Lost items found. Paranormal Investigations.
Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates.
No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or
Other Entertainment.

For Harry Dresden, Chicago's only professional wizard, there have been worse assignments than going undercover on the set of an adult film. Dodging flaming monkey poo, for instance. Or going toe-to-leaf with a walking plant monster. Still, there's something more troubling than usual about his newest case. The film's producer believes he's the target of a sinister entropy curse, but it's the women around, him who are dying, in increasingly spectacular ways.
Harry's doubly frustrated because he got involved with this bizarre mystery only as a favor to Thomas, his flirtatious, self-absorbed vampire acquaintance of dubious integrity. Thomas has a personal stake in the case Harry can't quite figure out, until his investigation leads him straight to Thomas's oversexed vampire family. Harry's about to discover that Thomas's family tree has been hiding a shocking secret: a revelation that will change Harry's life forever...

Ahh what can I say I love Harry Dresden. The fact that it took me an entire week to read this book just goes to show how busy I've been. I think this is my favourite in the series so far but they are all totally awesome.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Twice Loved - LaVyrle Spencer

The thing I love about LaVyrle Spencer is that she writes compelling emotional stories about ordinary people. There are no dukes, tycoons, millionaires, movie stars, golf pro's etc. these are just ordinary people involved in extraordinary love stories.

Laura and Rye Dalton have been in love with one another for as long as they can remember. When Rye's whaling ship goes down with no survivors Laura is left pregnant and alone. Dan Morgan is Rye's best friend and has loved Laura from a far since they were kids. Dan naturally steps in to help Laura and the two find comfort in one another.

When Rye returns five years later he is surprised to find that Laura is not present waiting for him when he gets off the ship. He is certain she must have received his letters about being put off his ship because of small pox and then being hired on to travel on the Omega. Of course Laura never recieved the letters and Rye returns home to find a son he never knew he had and his wife married to his best friend. To make matters even more difficult Josh (Rye's son) believes Dan is his father and has never been told about Rye.

Oh my heavens this book was gut renching. It's been a long time since I had a book take up so much of my time spent not reading. I couldn't put these four people out of my mind and I kept wondering how this could possibly come out happily.

I loved all the characters in this book they were so incredibly realistic. None of them are perfect and they all made mistakes some big, some small, but you still cared about and wanted everything to turn out all right.
Spencer has also done her research for this story and the island of Nantucket came alive in this book. If I didn't know any better I would think she'd lived there her entire life.

If you're like me and enjoy lots of angst in your books I highly recommend you pick this one up.

Rating 10/10

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy

I didn't realize how long it had been since I posted. I've started taking minutes at board meetings after work and typing them up on my own time to make a little extra cash and all this extra time on the computer has taken a bit of the fun out of blogging. Here are some mini-reviews anyways until I'm back to a somewhat regular schedule.

The Damsel in this Dress - Marianne Stillings


Port Henry Ledger Book Review by Betsy Tremaine: WRONG GUY HAS THE WRITE STUFF IN TORRID LOVE STORY
Let me tell you, dear reader, I've rarely been subjected to such drivel as I have in the novels of bestselling tough-guy cop-turned-author J. Soldier McKennitt. The man himself, however, is considerably more interesting. Having finally met him at a recent writers' conference in Seattle, I am pleased to report that Soldier is a tall, dark, and gorgeous hunk of literary superstar. To my surprise, he became quite the charmer once his self-righteous indignation evaporated ... Could it have been this critic's blonde hair and hourglass figure that brought about such an abrupt turnaround? Or perhaps our Soldier boy was simply vanquished by this reviewer's intelligence and caustic wit. In any case, due to the recent emergence of a crazed stalker, this plot has since thickened uncomfortably, and Detective McKennitt has brashly assumed the role of my knight in shining Brooks Brothers.
Bottom Line: The only thing standing in the way of a beautiful relationship in this love story is the fact that the two protagonists are so deliriously, passionately wrong for each other!

This was a very cute and enjoyable book. It didn't blow me out of the water or anything but it was a fun and quick read. Betsy made for a strong and likable herione. There wasn't a whole lot of suspense but what there was was well done. The mystery was pretty easy to solve but then that could have been intentional. The only quibble I had was with Soldier (my cousins' dog is named Soldier so that was hard to get used to) plus he really did think like a girl trapped in a mans body. I don't have the book with me at the moment but when he first meets Betsy he thinks to himself that she made his heart go "twitterty pat" like the rabbit from Bambi. Really, what super manly hardened detective thinks in terms of Disney characters?? Otherwise, I enjoyed it and it made for a very nice weekend read.


Sports agent Myron Bolitar is poised on the edge of the big time. So is Christian Steele, a rookie quarterback and Myron's prized client. But when Christian gets a phone call from a former girlfriend, a woman who everyone, including the police, believes is dead, the deal starts to go sour. Trying to unravel the truth about a family's tragedy, a woman's secret, and a man's lies, Myron is up against the dark side of his business—where image and talent make you rich, but the truth can get you killed.

This is the first book in Harlan Cobens Myron Bolitar series and it was awesome. There was a perfect balance of humour, suspense and character development. This was a really really good mystery too. There were plenty of twists and cliff hangers through out the book and it was seriously difficult to put the book down. I had no idea who the bad guy was. Everytime I thought I had it figured out something new would happen and only leave me with more questions. Really, this book was brilliantly plotted. I loved it and I can not wait to get the next one.

Currently reading

Gone by Michael Grant

In the blink of an eye.
Everyone disappears.
Everyone except for the young. Teens. Middle schoolers. Toddlers. But not a single adult. No teachers, no cops, no doctors, no parents. Gone, too, are the phones, internet, and television. There is no way to get help.
Hunger threatens. Bullies rule. A sinister creature lurks. Animals are mutating. And the teens themselves are changing, developing new talents—unimaginable, dangerous, deadly powers—that grow stronger by the day.
It's a terrifying new world. Sides are being chosen and war is imminent.
The first in a breathtaking saga about teens battling each other and their darkest selves, gone is a page-turning thriller that will make you look at the world in a whole new way.

I'm not finished it yet but honestly this book is awesome and I just found out it was a part of a series double awesome. I can't believe how invested I am in this book. It's starting to fill in the void the Harry Potter series left. Once it's finished I'll post a more detailed review because really more people need to read this book!!!!!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Dark Obsession - Allison Chase

Dark Obsession - Allison Chase
The Plot - Nora Thornegoode's mother always told her that her painting would get her in trouble.  When  Nora arrives at her first showing she is horrified to find that her "teacher" has painted a picture of her naked and informed the crowd that he is having an affair with her.  Of course none of this is true but to society it doesn't matter Nora is damaged goods and her reputation is in tatters.  Grayson Lowell is haunted literally by his brother Tom and his brothers wife Charlotte.   After Tom had confessed to Gray that he had gambled away the entire Lowell fortune they had a terrible row - after which Tom's body turned up battered at the base of a cliff.  Although Gray was determined innocent it is believed by most everyone that it did in fact kill his own brother and is little more than a cold blooded killer.  Nora needs to marry to save her reputation and Gray needs to marry for money to make sure there is an earldom for his nephew Jonny to inherit.    Nora's father quickly arranges for the two to be married.  Although there is mutual distaste for the hasty reasons for their marriage both Nora and Gray accept there circumstances and find themselves quite fond of one another.  This all changes when they leave for the Lowell estate in Cornwall.  Grayson continually becomes more withdrawn and distant as he deals with the guilt over his brothers desk and the ghostly sightings become more frequent.  Nora is confused unable to decide which Grayson is the real Grayson the one she spent her wedding night with or the cold, angry Grayson she is currently residing with.  The two must unravel the mystery of Tom's death if they ever wish to have there happily ever after.

The Hero - Grayson is definitely tortured, he is wracked with guilt over his brothers death.  He also feels guilty for the way he always treated Tom when they were growing up and the way he blew up at his brother when he came to him for help.   However, you never get the feeling throughout the book that he actually murdered his brother.  He is still a good man even with his quick temper.  The only problem I had with Gray was his self-loathing got to be a bit much.  The whole I'm a tainted horrible person and Nora deserves so much better argument got old after awhile - especially because really now that they were married what was she supposed to do?  It's not like they could have gotten a divorce and she could have gone off and met someone else.  If you really think she deserves better shape up and treat her better! Gray was the same way with his nephew Jonny - he feels so responsible for his Jonny not having a father that he leaves him in Cornwall to be raised alone by servants? Huh?  The poor kid is so traumatized he hasn't spoken in a year and you think the best thing is to leave? Jeez, anyhoo other than that Grayson was your typical romance hero nothing about him really stood out but he fit with the story just fine.

The Heroine - Nora is a great heroine.  She comes from "new money" and is not afraid to stand her ground and fight for what she wants.  What she wants is the Grayson she made love to on her wedding night and she's determined to bring him back.  Although, Grayson continuously tries to scare her away for her own good.  Nora is able to think about what he's doing and trust her own instincts enough to know that he's not a cold blooded murder.  There wasn't a lot of growth for Nora in this novel but she didn't really need to grow anyways.  She came to Gray as a self assured and confident woman who didn't need a man to feel complete but who found a perfect partner in Gray.

What worked - The ghosts of Thomas and Charlotte were well drawn but not spooky.  They were driven to save a Gray and Jonny and didn't do this by terrifying people but by appealing to them for help.  I also really liked Jonny - your heart just bleeds for this poor little boy who has lost his mother and his father and has been left alone to be raised by servants.  The mystery of what happened was also really well done.  The author kept me guessing through the whole story.  I would be so sure it was this person because of that reason and then three pages later it would be something else.  I also didn't guess it before the end so that was a nice surprise.

What didn't - Gray's self sacrificing that did nothing but hurt other people.  I was also a little disappointed it wasn't spookier.  I thought this would be a good halloweeny type book and it wasn't really scary at all.  Other wise I really enjoyed it.

Should you read it? This is really only the second gothic romance I've read and I've really enjoyed both of them but I'm not sure how this book stands up to the rest of the genre.  The first book I read was far spookier than this one - even so I'd still recommend it as a very good historical romance.

One other note - I was quite excited after reading this book because right on the front it says "A Novel of Blackheath Moor" to a series whore like me this is gold a brand new fabulous series to read and considering this is the authors debut novel it's likely to only get better.  Unfortunately, after visiting the authors website she has only published one other Blackheath Moor book and has moved on to a new series.  It's unclear as to whether she will come back to this series but I find that very disappointing.  I will check out the other series though.           

Rating 7.9/10                                                                                                         

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Sometimes I do stupid things...

In 2001 my second cousin got really into reading fantasy.  She showed up at our house one day with a huge pile of fantasy novels she'd just picked up at Chapters and I made the teensy tiny comment of maybe I should try one of these.  Well that launched us on a two hour book buying binge that ended with me leaving with the first books of about 20 different series.  (I miss the days of unlimited disposable income).  Anyhoo, I have a number of those first books which are still unread - that book buying binge sparked a weekly visit to Chapters for me where I began to amass my now ridiculously large collection of unread books.  So last week I picked up The Diplomacy of Wolves by Holly Lisle which I bought during that first trip to Chapters.  Fantasy novels have been mostly miss for  me lately but I decided to try it anyways and it was really really good.  So I'm thinking to myself "Sweet an awesome new series to read".  Yeah...No.  I get to the end of the book and it's a huge cliffhanger - like gigantic, enormous I can't read a book between these two because I need to know what happened cliffhanger.  Now did I mention I bought this book in 2001??  That perhaps I should have made sure the following books were still somewhat readily available?  Cause guess what - they aren't.  I've searched high and low on the internet and I'm not able to find a copy of Vengeance of Dragons or Courage of Falcons anywhere that doesn't have a ridiculously high shipping charge (yea Canada Post!!).

So now I'm pissy -I'm sure I'll come across it eventually but I'm one of those instant gratification people and I don't wait well.  Of course this happens right after my husband put me on a very strict book budget - very strict meaning you have 1200 + books you do not need to buy anymore - budget.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

MIA and The Phantom

I've been missing in action for awhile.  There is something about being sick that completely zaps all my motivation.  I see in my absence someone who appears to have even less of a life then me left a very "witty" comment on my last post.  What a charming fellow.

Anyhoo, on to the review.  

Phantom by Susan Kay

When I was 10 years old my mother took me to see The Phantom of the Opera at the Pantages theatre in Toronto.  To say that experience had an effect on me would be an understatement.  I lived and breathed all things Phantom for the better part of my pre-teen existence.  I received the soundtrack (on tape) along with Gaston Leraux's original book for Christmas that year and I don't think I could ever be found without one or the other.  Even as a 10 year old I still couldn't figure out why the heck Christine would leave The Phantom for sissy boy Raoul.  Actually, come to think of it perhaps this is where my love of love triangles as a plot device came from...

So - I heard about Phantom by Susan Kay quite some time ago and I put it on "my list" (this was a printed out list three columns wide and three pages long of books I wanted based on things I read on the internet).  The list has since been retired and I know keep track of books on my bookpedia wishlist.  There were probably a dozen books on that original list that I gave up on finding Phantom was one of them.  So imagine my excitement when my cousin drops me off two large boxes of books and at the very bottom of the second box is Susan Kays Phantom.  Trust me it was huge - hubby still isn't sure if he should be jealous of this book.

This isn't just a re-telling of the Phantom of the Opera - using the few pages of background on the phantom that is provided in Leraux's original novel Kay expanded on it and wrote The Phantom's (Erik) biography.  The novel is told in a narrative style and is divided into sections based on the storyteller.  I really liked this style of writing and it was interesting to see Erik through his own eyes and then through someone else's.  I especially like Raoul's section at the very end.  I don't want to give away any spoilers but although the story is still tragic there is just a little twist about what happened after Christine and Raoul left the theatre that I loved.

I know some people were annoyed about how the ending was tweaked but she really didn't stray so far from what happened in the original novel she just added to it a bit - and I for one really appreciated it.

Christine was the same weak-willed ninny she always is (I've never been a fan of Christine and figured the Phantom could have done better) but she does grow up a bit at the end of the novel and the glimpse into her diary we get makes her a little more sympathetic.

Erik is tragic.  His story is always tragic but reading about his life before the events of the Opera make it even more so.  It is no wonder Erik had no regard for human life there were very few people with redeemable qualities in his life.

The only quibble I had about this book was that I was a little disappointed in the Christine/Erik section.  It was actually kind of slow for me but perhaps that was because I had built it up so much in my mind and I couldn't wait to get there.

This book is most definitely going up on my keeper shelf.

Rating 9/10


Friday, October 16, 2009

My Top 16

I read on Kristie's blog here - that she saw a challenge on Jessica's blog here to list your top 16 romances. I'm sure there are plenty more lists out there but I haven't had much time to blog hop today. I admit this is the first time I've heard of Forever Amber but I'll have to keep an eye out for it now.

Here's my top 16

1. Outlander - Diana Gabaldon

I don't know if there will ever be another book like Outlander for me. I have yet to find another book that even comes close to having the same effect on me as Outlander. I also haven't been able to find another hero that is on the same level of awesomeness as Jamie.

                                             2. Heart of the West - Penelope Williamson

It's very hard for me to rank my favourite romances but Heart of the West is as close to No. 1 as you can get in my books without being Outlander :) This is still my absolute favourite Western and is also the first book I read with the love triangle (one of my favourite angst devices).

3. The Way Home - Megan Chance

Another western with a love triangle - what can I say I'm consistent.  Love love love this book Aaron is the most perfect beta hero.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      4. For My Lady's Heart - Laura Kinsale

This is my absolute favourite medieval - it's pretty much perfect.  Perfect hero, perfect heroine, perfect couple, the most romantic book I think I've ever read.

5. Midnight Honour - Marsha Canham

Most people seem to prefer the first two books in this series but Midnight Honour was heads and tails above the other two for me.  Coincidentally it also has a bit of a love triangle going on...

I also don't think I ever cried more than I did when I read this book.

                                                                                                       6. Almost Heaven - Judith McNaught

I just read this book recently and was absolutely blown away by it.  I loved Ian and Elizabeth.  This is probably the second most romantic book I've ever read.

7. By Arrangement - Madeline Hunter

Another fabulous medieval - David is one of my favourite heros.

                                                                                                  8. Twice Loved - Lavyrle Spencer

Surprise, Surprise another love triangle!! Lots of angst in this one.

9. Silk and Secrets - Mary Jo Putney

This was my favourite of the silk series and my favourite MJP so far.

                                                                                                               10. Devotion - Katherine Sutcliffe

I loved everything about this book.  Even the ending.  And I don't want to talk about Obsession.

11. The Enchanted Land - Jude Devereaux

Another western with lots of angst, big misunderstandings and long separations.

                                                                                                       12. Hummingbird - Lavyrle Spencer

Okay, even I'm surprised there is another love triangle on my list.  Apparently I like these even more than I realized.

13. A Kingdom of Dreams - Judith McNaught

If you've read it you know how wonderful this book is.  If you haven't you simply must go out and find it right now!

                                                                                                        14. Bodyguard - Suzanne Brockmann

Another book where I differ from the majority.  This is my favourite Brockmann and I've read the majority of the troubleshooters series.  It's also the only non-historical romance to make it to my list.

15. A Knight in Shining Armour - Jude Devereaux

I also loved everything about this book - including the ending.  Unlike most people it seems.

                                                                                                        16. One Sinful Night - Kaitlin O'Riley

I'm still shocked by my reaction to this book.  I did not expect to love it as much as I did.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A Reason to Live - Maureen McKade

In order to avoid reading slumps I try to vary genres and sub-genres so that I don't ever feel burned out on anything - which in theory works well. Sometimes in practice however, it doesn't work so well. I was worried about over doing it with western romances so I tried everything but in an effort to keep away the dreaded reading slump - what happened I ended up in a slump because all I really wanted was to read a western so of course nothing else worked. So guess what? I read a western and it was awesome.

A Reason to Live - Maureen McKade

The Plot - The story takes place shortly after the end of the civil war. Laurel Covey had been a confederate nurse during the war and has taken it upon herself to personally deliver the death bed messages of 21 soldiers to their families. Creede Forrester is an ex-gunslinger turned rancher who is looking for Laurel because he heard she may have been with his son when he died. Laurel is most fortunate that Creede happens upon her when she is attacked by two men on the road. Although Creede is disappointed that Laurel doesn't have any final words from his son after witnessing the earlier attack he refuses to allow Laurel to continue on her own. Having little say in the matter Laurel reluctantly agrees and the two begin their journey across the southern states.

The Hero - Creede has had a seriously difficult past and I mean difficult. Everyone he loves has been killed or taken away from him and he's left alone. Once he'd lost the very faint hope that Laurel would tell him there was a mistake and his son was really alive the need to protect Laurel on her journey is the only reason he doesn't spend the foreseeable future drowning in whiskey. Creede is your typical western hero and I mean that in a good way. I can't think of a more perfect fantasy. Creede is the strong silent type, he's incredibly capable and (my own made up word here) a take-care-of-er. He takes care of Laurel and he takes care of anyone else who needs him. However, for all Creede's wonderfulness he wasn't fully there for me as a character. To me this was very much Laurell's story and Creede seemed to not be quite as fully developed. Like I could swap him with any other number of western hero's and the story wouldn't miss a beat. I find this is something that quite often happens with heroines but I don't believe I've ever read a book before where it happened with the hero.

The Heroine - Based on the blurb and what I'd previously read about the book it seemed to me Creede would be the tortured soul who needed saving - don't get me wrong he was tortured but he would have eventually come around without Laurell to save him. Laurel is an incredibly strong heroine but she was so strong she was intent on destroying herself to keep from losing anyone or anything again. She lost her family when she married her husband against their wishes and then she lost her husband to the war. After witnessing the grief of mothers and fathers who lost their sons in the war she is determined to never care about anything again. Laurel is also suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - not that she realizes that of course - and believes she is going crazy. Even as she develops feelings for Creede she could never force him to saddle himself to someone who is losing her mind. Although, Laurel was stubborn and tough to love at times she's managed to worm her way into being one of my favourite heroines. This is no easy feat since very few heroines ever actually stand out enough for me to remember them shortly after I've finished the book. I completely believed Laurels reasons for not wanting to love Creed. The flashbacks from the war were so well written and tragic I couldn't help but understand exactly why she felt the way she did.

What Worked - Like I said previously I loved Laurel and she really stood out in the story for me. The relationship that developed between her and Creed was believable and filled with plenty of angst. These two were so broken and damaged and they healed one another slowly and realistically. There were a few other sub-plots that were brought in and resolved quickly so most of the story focused on Laurell and Creede and their developing relationship. Something else that worked for me THE EPILOGUE! It's the first one that I can remember that has actually completely fit with the book and it wasn't overly sappy and sweet and I felt added sooo much to the book.

What Didn't - I had very few problems with this book - although Creed was a very likable hero he did kind of fade into the background when compared to Laurel. The only other tinsy problem I had was the ending (prior to the epilogue) seemed a tad rushed and a bit too easy. The scene in the middle of the book with Seb and the mule (I won't go into to much detail since I don't want to enter spoilerish territory) brought tears to my eyes and I expected more emotion at the end of the book. The epilogue did a good job of bringing that back though.

Should you read it - I think most people who like Westerns will really enjoy this book it's gritty, heartwrenching and there is plenty of angst.

Grade 9/10

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Wandering Aimlessly Through My Book Shelves

I can't remember the last time I had so much trouble finding a book to read. You would think that with almost 1200 books 2/3's of which are unread I'd be able to find something - but no. I've tried romance, fantasy, historical ficiton, non-fiction and horror yet nothing is holding my attention for more than 50 pages. I don't know if it's the books I'm picking or just that I'm in the mood for a particular kind of book I just haven't figured out which one. Either way I've already wasted a week of reading with nothing to show for it.

I did happen to come across a copy of Susan Kay's Phantom (which I gave up looking for years ago) in the boxes of books my cousin gave me perhaps I'll try that next...

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Good News and Not So Good News

Good News - my cousin just decided she didn't like how much space her "already read" book collection was taking up and gave them all to me. Yea!!! It's mostly horror and fantasy (no romance at all) and she does horrible things to her books but it's two huge boxes of free books!

Not So Good News - I'm so not enjoying "The Golden Compass" it's got 15 more pages to prove to me that I do in fact want to read it and then I'm moving on.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Banned Books Week

I almost missed it but I read about the ALA's banned books week on Wendy's Blog. Although I'm in Canada I still think it's important so I searched high and low on the web to find a book in my collection that has stirred up some kind of controversy. Low and behold I found one - and the controversy was even close to home! In honour of banned books week I'm reading The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman.

In case anyone is interested I found this information on the "controversy" at

Pullman, Philip. The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass

2007—After receiving a single complaint, the Halton (ON) Catholic District School

Board ordered the withdrawal of these fantasy novels for young readers from the open

shelves of libraries in elementary schools. The books were collected at library circulation

desks, and students who wished to read the novels had to ask librarians for copies. The

board also formed a committee to review the books. Within days, the Roman Catholic

school board in Peterborough (ON) received two complaints about the novels and

withdrew copies from school libraries. In Peterborough, school employees denied

students access to the novels while the board set up a committee to review the novels.

The Durham (ON) Catholic District School Board followed suit. The Calgary (AB)

Catholic School District told employees to pull the novels from library shelves, not use

the novels in classrooms and exclude the books from Scholastic book fairs. In Calgary,

the school board also established a committee to review the novels.

Cause of objection—The stories, which are set in an alternative universe populated with

talking animals, undermine belief in God and organized religion and promote atheism.

Challenged Books and Magazines Page 9

Update—In 2007, the Halton (ON) Catholic District School Board ignored the recommendation

of its review committee and voted to ban the novels from schools. The board’s

order proclaimed, “Philip Pullman’s trilogy of atheist ideology, carefully couched within

the realm of fantasy for young readers, is in direct opposition to the mission statement

and governing values of our board.” But a few weeks later, in 2008, the board of the

Calgary (AB) Catholic School District decided to use The Golden Compass in schools.

“There is no doubt that the text is harsh in terms of its language about organized religion

and that it presents a consistently negative view of church, clergy and faith-based institutions;

however, there are glimpses of light with opportunities for positive reflection,”

the review document said. The board urged teachers, when using The Golden Compass,

to use instruction guides to ensure “a carefully planned approach” and a Catholic focus.

Unbelievable. Like Wendy said - some people really are asshats.