Thursday, August 31, 2006

Title: Simply Unforgettable
Author: Mary Balogh
Published: 2005, Bantam
Historical Romance
Rating: 6/10

After my uncomfortable brush with harsh reality in my last read, I needed a happy, happy book like a heroin addict needs her next hit. *groan* So who do I turn to? Mary Balogh! Cuz I like her books and they're always just nice.

I went through a major Balogh phase about a year ago. Read all the Bedwyns and a few others. But I didn't think I'd read this one. Turns out I was wrong. I'm reading along the first chapter. And hmmm, this seems familiar, maybe I read a teaser in another book. By chapter 3, I realize that I have definitely read this before. I guess Simply Unforgettable was, well, not. :) But I reread it anyway, because it's really sweet.

This is the first in Balogh's new series--four books, each about one of four schoolteachers who live in Bath. Frances Allard and Lucius Marshall are stranded together in a deserted inn during a snowstorm. They get lovin' but think that it's just a fling. They go their separate ways, but the encounter stays with them both and they know they're kidding themselves. They meet up again, first in Bath and then in London. Lucius, who has promised his grandfather that he will take a bride this season, realizes that he might just like to marry Frances. But she's got some skeletons in her closet. But nothing too bad. Of course. Because this is BALOGH! Those pesky little problems will be solved.

Balogh's writing always works for me. It's smooth and goes down easy. Though the plot and characters in this one aren't particularly interesting, I still enjoyed it. It was just what I needed.

The second in this series is already out--Simply Love.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Title: Falls the Shadow
Author: Sharon Kay Penman
Published: 1988, Ballantine
Category: Historical Fiction
Rating: 6/10 (But don't pay much attention to this as I am horribly conflicted about it.)

This is my book for Angie's TBR challenge. This month we were supposed to read a non-romance book. And this is definitely not a romance. I should get extra points for how much this is not a romance. It is the second book in Penman's Welsh trilogy. I'd read the first, Here Be Dragons, and a LOVED it. So I've had this one sitting in the TBR.

The trilogy focuses on the tense relationship between England and Wales in the 13th century. Here Be Dragons is devoted mostly to the Welsh prince, Llewelyn (my love), who was married to the illegitimate daughter of King John. Falls the Shadow moves the focus to England and tells the story of King John's successor, King Henry, and the man who becomes his nemesis, Simon de Montfort. Simon starts life as a unlanded younger son, but by the force of his personality and by wedding Nell, the sister of the king, he becomes one of the most influential barons of the time. Early in Henry's reign it becomes apparent that he is a weak, ineffectual king, capricious in giving out both favors and punishments. Though Simon is loyal to the king, he becomes the head of a movement to impose the Oxford Provisions--one of the earliest efforts to put limits on the king's authority and institute some kind of representational government. King Henry, of course, isn't interested in having his power curbed, and the country is split into civil war.

This is fabulous historical fiction. Penman takes important historical events and makes them come alive. Fascinating characters and interesting descriptions of the time period that are complex and detailed but not overwhelming. The writing is amazing and beautiful.

So why am I conflicted about this book? Oh, the ending. It has earned a spot on Amarjaa's list of Exercises in Futility and Disappointment. For 500 pages I am following the trials of a brave man fighting for a just and righteous cause. COMPLETE SPOILER--Then my hero dies. No, he doesn't just die, he is hacked to little pieces in battle, his head stuck on a pike and his body thrown to dogs. SPOILER OVER. WHAAAA! Okay, I know this is history and history is ugly sometimes. But I was so upset. Maybe if I knew more about English history I wouldn't have been so blindsided by this. I was complaining to Twin and she said, "That title might have tipped you off that this might not end well." Falls the Shadow. Err, right.

So am I going to read the last book in the trilogy? Yes, definitely. At some point. But I'm reading the ending first. I need to be prepared for these things.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Lookie! I've got archives now.

As you can see below, I've started an archive of my reviews. I was inspired by all you organized people out there who have archives. I wish now that I had started this thing on something like Wordpress or Typepad that lets you have tags, because those look really nice and easy. But I'm too lazy to move. Plus I don't want to pay for anything.

It's also for my own reference--I am forever forgetting what I've read, especially if it didn't really make much of an impression. Now I can see it all listed out, which is very satisfying. :) So I'm going to try to keep it updated. Unless it turns out to be too much work. Bloggeroo is for fun only. If I get sick of adding my posts to the archives, I'm chucking it.

Archives by Author


Susan Wittig Albert, The Tale of Cuckoo Brow Wood

Catherine Anderson, Sun Kissed

Kelley Armstrong, Broken

Kelley Armstrong, No Humans Involved


Mary Balogh, Simply Love

Mary Balogh, Simply Unforgettable

Mary Balogh, Summer to Remember

Mary Balogh, An Unacceptable Offer

Carrie Bebris, North by Northanger

Jo Beverley, My Lady Notorious

Ann Brashares, Forever in Blue

Suzanne Brockmann, Body Guard

Susanne Brockmann, Heart Throb

Connie Brockway, As You Desire

Connie Brockway, Bridal Favors

Connie Brockway, Bridal Season

Meljean Brook, Demon Angel

Lois McMaster Bujold, The Sharing Knife: Beguilement

Lois McMaster Bujold, The Sharing Knife: Legacy

Lois McMaster Bujold, Civil Campaign

Lois McMaster Bujold, Cordelia's Honor

Lois McMaster Bujold, Curse of Chalion

Lois McMaster Bujold, Memory

Jaci Burton, Wild, Wicked & Wanton


June Casagrande, Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies

Loretta Chase, Lord of Scoundrels

Loretta Chase, Lord Perfect

Loretta Chase, Miss Wonderful

Loretta Chase, Mr. Impossible

Loretta Chase, Not Quite a Lady

Tracy Chevalier, Burning Bright

Jennifer Chiaverini, Circle of Quilters

Pamela Clare, Ride the Fire

Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer, Agnes and the Hitman

Jennifer Crusie, Charlie All Night

Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer, Don't Look Down

Jennifer Crusie, Manhunting

Jennifer Crusie/Dreyer/Stuart, The Unfortunate Miss Fortunes


Maria de los Santos, Love Walked In

Lindsey Davis, Scandal Takes a Holiday

Lindsey Davis, See Delphi and Die

Sara Donati, Queen of Swords

Eileen Dreyer/Crusie/Stuart, The Unfortunate Miss Fortunes

Tracy Dunham, Yes, the River Knows


Janet Evanovich, Motor Mouth

Janet Evanovich, Twelve Sharp


Ken Follett, Jackdaws


Neil Gaiman, Stardust

Rachel Gibson, Sex, Lies, and Online Dating

Kristin Gore, Sammy's Hill


Tate Hallaway, Tall, Dark and Dead

Charlaine Harris, Dead Until Dark Sookie Stackhouse #1

Charlaine Harris, Sookie Stackhouse #s 2-4

Robert Harris, Enigma

Erin Hart, Haunted Ground

Georgette Heyer, Devil's Cub

Georgette Heyer, Frederica

Georgette Heyer, An Infamous Army

Georgette Heyer, Lady of Quality

Georgette Heyer, The Quiet Gentleman

Georgette Heyer, Sylvester

Georgette Heyer, Venetia

Carl Hiaasen, Hoot

Carl Hiaasen, Nature Girl

Linda Howard, Duncan's Bride

Diana Holquist, Sexiest Man Alive

Elizabeth Hoyt, The Raven Prince

Madeline Hunter, By Arrangement

Madeline Hunter, By Possession


Eva Ibbotson, A Company of Swans

Eva Ibbotson, A Countess Below Stairs

Eva Ibbotson, A Song for Summer


Eloisa James, Desperate Duchesses

Eloisa James, Kiss Me, Annabel


Susanna Kearsley, Mariana

Susanna Kearsley, Named of the Dragon

Susanna Kearsley, Season of Storms

Susanna Kearsley, The Shadowy Horses

Carla Kelly, Beau Crusoe

Carla Kelly, Miss Grimsley's Oxford Career

Carla Kelly, Miss Milton Speaks Her Mind

Carla Kelly, Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand

Carla Kelly, Reforming Lord Ragsdale

Carla Kelly, The Wedding Journey

Raymond Khoury, The Last Templar

Laura Kinsale, Flowers from the Storm

Laura Kinsale, Midsummer Moon

Lisa Kleypas, Devil in Winter

Lisa Kleypas, Dreaming of You

Lisa Kleypas, Mine Till Midnight

Lisa Kleypas, Secrets of a Summer Night

Jayne Ann Krentz, White Lies


Rosina Lippi, Tied to the Tracks

Laura London, The Windflower

Julie Anne Long, The Secret to Seduction


Katie MacAlister, You Slay Me

Bob Mayer and Jennifer Crusie, Agnes and the Hitman

Maureen McKade, A Reason to Live

Barbara Michaels, The Dancing Floor

L. M. Montgomery, The Blue Castle



Baroness Orczy, The Scarlet Pimpernel


I. J. Parker, Black Arrow

Sharon Kay Penman, Here Be Dragons

Sharon Kay Penman, Falls the Shadow

Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Breathing Room


Julia Quinn, The Duke and I

Julia Quinn, On the Way to the Wedding


Lani Diane Rich, The Comeback Kiss

Lani Diane Rich, Ex and the Single Girl

Lani Diane Rich, The Fortune Quilt

J. D. Robb, Ceremony in Death (#5)

J. D. Robb, Glory in Death (#2)

J. D. Robb, Immortal in Death (#3)

J. D. Robb, Naked in Death(#1)

J. D. Robb, Rapture in Death (#4)

Nora Roberts, Angel's Fall

Nora Roberts, High Noon

Nora Roberts, Sanctuary

Stephanie Rowe, Date Me, Baby, One More Time

J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows


Dorothy Sayers, Strong Poison

Schoen & Spartz,'s What Will Happen in Harry Potter 7?

Jill Shalvis, Shadow Hawk

Linnea Sinclair, Finders Keepers

Linnea Sinclair, Gabriel's Ghost

Linnea Sinclair, Games of Command

Sharon Shinn, Archangel

Sharon Shinn, The Twelve Houses series

Nalini Singh, Slave to Sensation

Nalini Singh, Visions of Heat

Marie V. Snyder, Magic Study

Maria V. Snyder, Poison Study

Jan Cox Speas, The Bride of the MacHugh

Mary Stewart, Thornyhold

Cheryl St. John, Prairie Wife

Jonathan Stroud, Amulet of Samarkand

Anne Stuart, Lord of Danger

Anne Stuart/Crusie/Dreyer, The Unfortunate Miss Fortunes

Michelle Styles, Gladiator's Honor

Shanna Swendon, Enchanted, Inc.


Cynthia Thomason, Her Sister's Child

Trigiani, Adriana, Home to Big Stone Gap





Oh, Blogger, I have maligned you!

You know how I said yesterday that Blogger ate my post? Yeah, it didn't. I was being stooopid. I forgot that I'd started the draft of that post a week ago, so it posted way down the list.

So, Blogger, here's a big SORRY for you. Don't hate me now and really eat my posts. Please.

By the way, the lost post follows.

I'm stingy, what can I say?

I've never yet given a book higher than an 8/10. I'm not mean. I'm not particularly choosy. I just like to keep the possibility open that I might read something I like even better.

But I don't want other readers to be put off by a book getting a 7. Because a 7 is really good. So here's a chart:

10--Perfection. Will be tempted to buy up every copy of this book I ever see. In case of disaster. Like . . . robbery by well-read theif (or my mother). Everyone should read it because it left me amazed and astonished by how wonderful it was.

9--Loved it!! All of it. Made me want to dance around and sing at the top of my lungs. Made me want to crawl inside the book and never leave.

7-8--Highly recommended. Lovely book, didn't want it to end. Will read much more by this author.

6--Recommended, especially if you like this kind of book or are a fan of the author.

5--Meh. I had little or no reaction to this book.

3-4--Serious flaws in my opinion. Not recommended.

1-2--I don't think I'll ever actually give a book this rating because I don't think I'd ever finish a book I hated this much. And I'd never review a book I didn't finish.

So there you go. An easy chart for your reading enjoyment.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Blogger is a big poo poo

I wrote a post and Blogger ate it. GRRR! I've heard other people complain about this but it's the first time it's happened to me. And I've been trying to remember to copy my posts to my hard drive, but of course I didn't do that this time.

It was a brilliant post too! OK, not really. But still, I am too lazy to reproduce it.

Maybe tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

I'll take (E) None of the above

The nominees for this year's Quill Book Awards were announced today. They're consumer choice awards where people vote for their favorites online. Then they have a big star-studded NBC special to announce the winners. But the romance nominees? Not very good, imo. I've actually only read one of them--the MaryJanice Davidson and I'm not voting for that. But I did vote in a couple other categories.

Completely unrelated and just because I feel like telling you, these are the books that I got this weekend at the Strand (18 miles of used books!):
Last Camel Died at Noon - Elizabeth Peters
To Have and to Hold - Patricia Gaffney
Good Grief - Lolly Winston
Spring Collection - Judith Krantz
Shining Through - Susan Isaacs

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Title: The Scarlet Pimpernel
Author: Baroness Orczy
Published: 1905, available in many, many editions
Category: Historical Fiction / Classics
Rating: 7/10

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I've kept my brain from rotting this month! Just finished The Scarlet Pimpernel. I'm going to do a mini-review here. We'll be discussing it later this week on Dance Chica's blog for her classics book club, so I'll link to that when it happens.

I also put a brain icon, because it is a classic. But it is one of the more accessible classics I've ever read. And I'm a wimp about "literature" (said in snooty British accent).

Set during the French Revolution, The Scarlet Pimpernel is the story of a mysterious hero who is the leader of a league that is committed to rescuing French aristocrats who have been sentenced to death on the guillotine. He is a hero whose reputation becomes larger than life; his identity is a closely guarded secret, his rescues are so daring that people have attributed almost supernatural powers to him. The French government, tired of being made fools of, sends a spy named Chauvelin to London to try to track down the Pimpernel and figure out a way of arresting him. Chauvelin threatens and blackmails Lady Marguerite Blakeney, a French actress who has become the leader of fashionable society in London, into assisting him in unmasking our hero.

It's easy to see why this is a classic. It is just a great story. And I believe (I'm not an expert here) that it was very influential in literature--a kind of precursor to the modern-day superhero. It's been made into many movies, plays, tv shows, even musicals.

This book is HIGH, HIGH drama. Very exciting. It actually gets a little melodramatic for me there at the end. (If I can not safe him, I will stand by my love and we will perish together!!) And the heroine, Marguerite, is pretty much worthless, even though she is described as the cleverest woman in Europe.

But the Scarlet Pimpernel himself is so wonderful. So clever, ingenious, and resourceful. The scenes with him are brilliant. And the love story is great too--how misunderstandings and wounded pride can slowly destoy the happiness of such strong-willed characters.

I'm looking forward to hearing what everyone else thought of this.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Interview with Marmee

My mom has been visiting us this week. She likes to come and stay and go shopping and mother us a little bit. She makes all our favorite meals (how nice is it to come home from work and not have to cook?!) and buys us stuff. Sweet!

And as she's the one who first inspired my obsession with love of books, I made her answer some bookish questions to post:

We'll start off easy--what book are you reading now and how's it going?

Marmee: For pleasure, Celia Garth by Gwen Bristow. (Spoiler alert) Classic tale of young orphan engaged to handsome wealthy young lawyer/Revolutionary soldier who gets taken out by that nasty Tarleton. She then marries the far more spicy and attractive son of the woman who rescued her from a sewing shop in Charleston. For all the tragedy, it's just about the most optimistic book I've ever read.
I've only read it about ten times now, since I first read it as a teenager. It's an old friend.
For work, I'm delving deep into various characters associated with the USS Monitor and CSS Virginia, plus trying to understand underwater archeology. It's a stretch, because it's not something I know a lot about, but it's got great dramatic potential. [Anyone who happens to be in Hampton Roads, Virginia should check out the Mariner's Museum in Newport News. Fab museum.]

J: You're a great re-reader of books. How many times have you read that Susan Howatch book? Why do you reread?

M: Well, the first time I read a book is always so stressful. Am I wasting my time? Will I like how this turns out? I do try to stick with a book through the first 50 pages -- and then I'll usually go ahead and read the ending. Then I'm not so stressed trying to anticipate the plot AND I don't get pissed off if there's some unexpected plot turn that takes out a character I'm investing in.

Suspense is just not my thing.

On the other hand, character development is something I really get into -- and you see so much more of that on the second or third or fourth re-reading. You also can admire the way the plot unfolds when you're not worrying about what happens next.

I like my relationships close and intimate. I have a very few close friends -- and not a lot of acquaintances. It's like that with books too -- which is why I am so grateful to have a daughter who reads widely and shares her books with me (even though I sometimes leave them open face downward or use the dust jacket as a bookmark.) [She's murder on books. Spines cracked, jackets ripped. Poor little babies. But that's okay, I love her anyway.]

I've been fond of Susan Howatch for a long time, though I probably like her historical novels better than the later ecclesiastical stuff. And I have really mixed feelings about her latest trilogy -- loved the first, weirded out by the second, and wasn't real comfortable with the third. But maybe when re-read they will work better for me.

J: What do look for in a great book? Characters? Plot?

M: Characters and the way they interact, more than plot.
There has to be plot, of course, but it should seem organic not forced. Like you can sort of see it coming and you're not blind-sided.
And it has to be long enough to get into.

J: Where did you come by your love of reading?

M: My dad was a great reader. He always had more than one book going (plus a huge Hershey's almond bar, hidden in the tuck between the back and seat of his favorite upholstered rocker). His mom was an English teacher, and the one sure way to get out of chores was to be reading a book.
He was famous for his library fines -- and I inherited it. So mostly I just buy books. Cheaper in the long run.

J: Favorite type of hero? (Don't worry I won't tell Daddy.)

M: Oh, I'd go for Rhett over Ashley. I loved Davy in Cruisie's Faking It. Lord Peter Wimsey. Marcus Didius Falco. Scaramouche. Horatio Hornblower.
They have to be bright and interesting -- sensitive is always good -- and able to triumph over the bad guys. Wit, charm, with just a wee spice of mischief.

J: Now for the hard question: Top 5 books of all time. (Only 5!)

M: Ooh, this is tough.
Captain Horatio Hornblower -- which is a trilogy of the first three C.S. Forester novels. One of literature's few introverted heroes.

Wheel of Fortune by Susan Howatch. The wars of the Roses, set in England over the Victorian, Edwardian, Great War and World War II time periods. Told by a series of characters.

The Ivy Tree by Mary Stewart. Love them all, but somehow this one stands out. Her protagonist is always the same person, and I always identify with her.

Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers. Harriet Vane struggles with her independence while solving a mystery at her alma mater -- then, at long last, gives way and falls into Lord Peter's (exceptionally patient) arms.

The Dark Rose (which was published as And No Quarter in the British Isles). Maurice Walsh tells the story of two young men from Ireland in Montrose's Scottish army in 1641, as the Royalists fought over incredible odds in an attempt to save the neck of Charles I. Probably one of the most lyrically written novels of all time, full of Irish turns of phrase, and so sad and beautiful. Great heroines. Great heroes.

J: Best book that you've read on my recommendation?

M: Crusie's Faking It. Davy and Tilda forever!

J: Snape--good or evil?

M: Evil. If he's good, it's going to be a miracle, and I think miracles are cheesy. Too many years in Catholic school, and too much experience of how apples don't fall far from trees.

J: Who's the golden child? Come on, you can tell the truth.

M: I have no metallic children, just three of the best and brightest kids ever.
Talented. Witty. Charming. And they love me back, which is the most amazing of gifts.

Aww, isn't she nice? Thanks, Mama!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Title: Manhunting
Author: Jennifer Crusie
Published: 1993, Mira
Category: Contemporary Romance
Rating: 7/10

I'm such a procrastinator. I have Scarlet Pimpernel to read for Dance Chica's book club, a non-romance book for Angie's August challenge, and a TBR pile that keeps growing. So what do I do? I reread an old Jennifer Crusie. It's Dylan's fault. She blogged about it and I realized I haven't read a real Jennifer Crusie (Don't Look Down doesn't really count) in eons. I just had to.

So yes, I don't know if you know, but I have a serious love of Jennifer Crusie's books. I've read everything she currently has in print. I would buy used copies of her out-of-print ones, but those suckers are expensive! I'm not paying $30 for a little series romance that was probably $4 when it was published. Not even for Crusie.

Kate Templeton is a 30-something successful businesswoman who is still looking for love. She wants to get married, but she's just not meeting the right guy. Just lots of the wrong ones. She comes up with a rational plan for catching just the kind of guy (rich, successful and intelligent) she wants: She takes a vacation at a golf resort, where lots of that type of man might be located. But the man she ends up meeting whose company she enjoys most is Jake Templeton. And he doesn't fit into her ideal at all. Can she be happy with a laid-back guy who has no ambition and won't leave the country?

This is one of Crusie's early books that have been reissued since she got famous. Generally, I think they are not anywhere near as good as her later books, IMO she's improved a lot as a writer over the years. I'd kind of forgotten most of what happens in this one, but I liked it more than I remembered. It's got lots of the trademark Crusie humor. And great characters--all her heroines are people I'd want to know in real life. And I love the scenes in the boat (yes, especially the last one).

Kate is such a '90s kind of woman--ambitious and successful, thinking that all women must want a career. At one point Jake says to her, "In the bad old days, men kept women from choosing to work. In the bad new days, women keep women from choosing to stay at home." Kate is stumped by this, and realizes that she's not being fair. But she wants it all, brilliant career and a family, too. She ends up having to reevaluate her life and deciding what's really important. The book is light and fun, but it's got a lot of substance too.

Great reread. :)

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Title: Devil in Winter
Author: Lisa Kleypas
Published: 2006, Avon
Category: Historical Romance
Rating: 6/10

This is the third book in Kleypas's Wallflower series. I read the first Wallflower book, Secrets of a Summer Night, and thought it was pretty good. But I skipped It Happened One Autumn because I wasn't excited about a whole book about Lillian Bowman.

Evangeline Jenner is the shyest of the four "wallflowers." She has been living with her dead mother's family, who are all cruel to her and resentful of the fortune she will inherit. They will not allow her to go visit her dying father, because he is not a respectable--he owns the biggest gaming house in London. Evie wants nothing but to get away from them, so she goes to ill-reputed Sebastian, Lord St. Vincent and proposes marriage. Sebastian needs to marry an heiress, so off they go to Gretna Green. When they return from Scotland, Evie decides that she won't sleep with Sebastian anymore because she doesn't want to fall in love with him, and she doesn't think that he'd ever be faithful to her. And Sebastian takes over the management of the gaming house and turns out to be more than just a useless aristocrat.

Evie is a nice character--her shyness and insecurities are endearing. And it's good to see her gain confidence as she becomes more secure in her relationships and abilities. But Sebastian was not that convincing as the rake he is supposed to be. I know he did kidnap Lillian in the previous book, but he never really does anything bad in this book! It's a bit of a romance cliche--the rake who we are told is dangerous and bad, but is actually respectful and kind and loving to the heroine. (Though I think this Sebastian is suffering from comparison to the Sebastian in Lord of Scoundrels, which I just read, who is a true scondrel.)

So I did enjoy it, and I'll probably read Scandal in Spring, but so far I'm not a huge Kleypas fan. I have bought Dreaming of You to read next, because, well, maybe I've heard a thing or two about it. :)

And does anyone know how to properly pronounce her name? I've been saying CLAY-pus.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

That's a lot of romance.

I just discovered AAR's list of Top 100 romances that they did back in 2004. I kind of want to try to read them all. Except there are a lot of them I haven't read. There are a lot I've never even heard of.

The ones in red I've already read. Green ones are currently in my TBR.

  1. Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase
  2. Flowers From the Storm by Laura Kinsale
  3. Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer Crusie
  4. As You Desire by Connie Brockway
  5. Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie
  6. Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas
  7. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
  8. Over the Edge by Suzanne Brockmann
  9. All Through the Night by Connie Brockway
  10. Sea Swept by Nora Roberts
  11. It Had to be You by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
  12. A Summer to Remember by Mary Balogh
  13. Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer
  14. The Proposition by Judith Ivory
  15. A Kingdom of Dreams by Judith McNaught
  16. Ravished by Amanda Quick
  17. Frederica by Georgette Heyer
  18. Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand by Carla Kelly
  19. MacKenzie's Mountain by Linda Howard
  20. Mr. Perfect by Linda Howard
  21. The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer
  22. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  23. The Bride by Julie Garwood
  24. Devil's Bride by Stephanie Laurens
  25. To Have and to Hold by Patricia Gaffney
  26. Born in Fire by Nora Roberts
  27. Winter Garden by Adele Ashworth
  28. Gone Too Far by Suzanne Brockmann
  29. The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn
  30. Saving Grace by Julie Garwood
  31. My Dearest Enemy by Connie Brockway
  32. In the Midnight Rain by Barbara Samuel
  33. The Windflower by Laura London
  34. Naked in Death by J.D. Robb
  35. Whitney, My Love by Judith McNaught
  36. Nobody's Baby but Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
  37. A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux
  38. Paradise by Judith McNaught
  39. The Shadow and the Star by Laura Kinsale
  40. Dream Man by Linda Howard
  41. Out of Control by Suzanne Brockmann
  42. Silk and Shadows by Mary Jo Putney
  43. See Jane Score by Rachel Gibson
  44. Shattered Rainbows by Mary Jo Putney
  45. Thunder and Roses by Mary Jo Putney
  46. The Duke and I by Julia Quinn
  47. Heart Throb by Suzanne Brockmann
  48. For My Lady's Heart by Laura Kinsale
  49. Honor's Splendor by Julie Garwood
  50. Lord Carew's Bride by Mary Balogh
  51. Untie my Heart by Judith Ivory
  52. Dream a Little Dream by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
  53. The Secret by Julie Garwood
  54. This is All I Ask by Lynn Kurland
  55. Slightly Dangerous by Mary Balogh
  56. One Perfect Rose by Mary Jo Putney
  57. To Love and to Cherish by Patricia Gaffney
  58. Kiss an Angel by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
  59. Heaven, Texas by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
  60. Venetia by Georgette Heyer
  61. Daughter of the Game by Tracy Grant
  62. The Prize by Julie Garwood
  63. Reforming Lord Ragsdale by Carla Kelly
  64. Prince Joe by Suzanne Brockmann
  65. The Notorious Rake by Mary Balogh
  66. Heartless by Mary Balogh
  67. Son of the Morning by Linda Howard
  68. Sleeping Beauty by Judith Ivory
  69. Where Dreams Begin by Lisa Kleypas
  70. The Devil's Cub by Georgette Heyer
  71. The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons
  72. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegar
  73. With This Ring by Carla Kelly
  74. The Lion's Lady by Julie Garwood
  75. The Rake by Mary Jo Putney
  76. Fallen from Grace by Laura Leone
  77. Always to Remember by Lorraine Heath
  78. Castles by Julie Garwood
  79. One Good Turn by Carla Kelly
  80. Chesapeake Blue by Nora Roberts
  81. By Arrangement by Madeline Hunter
  82. Perfect by Judith McNaught
  83. My Darling Caroline by Adele Ashworth
  84. The Defiant Hero by Suzanne Brockmann
  85. The Unsung Hero by Suzanne Brockmann
  86. Guilty Pleasures by Laura Lee Guhrke
  87. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  88. Kill and Tell by Linda Howard
  89. After the Night by Linda Howard
  90. More than a Mistress by Mary Balogh
  91. Born in Ice by Nora Roberts
  92. Miss Wonderful by Loretta Chase
  93. The Charm School by Susan Wiggs
  94. Scoundrel by Elizabeth Elliott
  95. How to Marry a Marquis by Julia Quinn
  96. Angel Rogue by Mary Jo Putney
  97. Trust Me by Jayne Ann Krentz
  98. Dancing on the Wind by Mary Jo Putney
  99. Once and Always by Judith McNaught
  100. This Heart of Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Friday, August 11, 2006

Title: Sanctuary
Author: Nora Roberts
Published: 1998, Jove
Category: Contemporary Romance/Suspense
Rating: 6/10

I bought this at the airport on my trip to Texas last weekend. I had packed Lake of Sorrows, a mystery that I've been meaning to read. This was a mistake because it was a little too heavy to read while traveling. I am a total spaz about traveling--I'm going to be late for my plane! Did I remember to take my pocket knife out of my purse? WHY is that baby crying so loudly? My ass hurts in this awful chair. How do those oxygen masks work? Fret, fret, fret.

Really, it's not pretty. So I decided a nice Nora Roberts, who I almost always love, would be something I could fall right into and be a good distraction for the 3-hr plane ride. And it was. But it's definitely not my favorite NR.

Jo Ellen Hathaway is a famous photographer who is being stalked by a man who is following her around taking pictures of her and then sending them to her. She is understandably creeped out by this, so she decides to go home to Sanctuary, which is the name of the house where she grew up on an island off the coast of Georgia. She and her family have not been close ever since her mother abandoned them 20 years ago. They're still dealing with the fact that they never found out what happened to her. She meets Nathan Delaney who is vacationing on the island and has a terrible secret that is connected to the Hathaway family. Jo's stalker has of course followed her to Georgia, and we have an exciting climax during a hurricane.

I loved the setting of this book. It's something Roberts does so well. She really captures the feeling of the island. Plus it's in the south, on a barrier island. YAY!

I also liked the big cast of side characters--Jo's brother and sister both get romances too. (Though it is incredibly unrealistic that three siblings would all meet their future spouses within 2 days of each other, unless someone put some love potion in their water supply or something.) It's a lot to cram into one book, but she manages to make each of the side stories interesting and sweet. Though I think she does this even better in Montana Sky (probably my favorite NR) which has three sisters all falling in love in the same book.

What didn't work for me so much was the suspense part of the book. It was just a little predictable. I mean, I never guess who the bad guy is, and I knew who it was. Also she drops little hints early on that Nathan is the villain, and this annoys me. It's a romance book, we KNOW that the guy who the heroine falls for isn't going to turn out to be evil. Even I am not that gullible.

Still a good read though.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Title: Lord of Scoundrels
Author: Loretta Chase
Published: 1995, Avon
Category: Historical Romance
Rating: 8/10
This book has been recommended to me by tons of people. Everyone who loves romance loves this book. And I totally see why. It's classic! Anyone who says that there's no such thing as a well-written romance novel should be forced to read this book and then eat their stick-up-the-butt words. :)

Jessica Trent goes to Paris for the purpose of separating her (slightly dopey) brother from dangerous involvement with a notorious hellion--aka the Lord of Scoundrels, Sebastian Ballister, Marquess of Dain. But then Jessica ends up being incredibly attracted to him, and they get caught in a compromising situation. Sebastian surprises Jessica by actually offering to marry her. Their real troubles are just beginning though. Sebastian is a truly messed-up guy--abandoned by his mother, and brought up by a cruel, cold father, he thinks of himself as an unlovable monster. It's obvious that you can't have any kind of a decent relationship if you hate yourself that much.

These two characters are just amazing. Jessica is strong-willed and so smart. Life hands her tough situations and she just steps back, decides what she needs to do, then fixes what she can and deals with what she can't. It's so refreshing after all the innocent, naive heroines who want to be saved. **SPOILER ALERT And she shot Dain!! Damn, I loved that scene. She is one tough lady. SPOILER OVER**

And I understand everyone swooning over Sebastian (especially you ladies who like your tortured heroes). He's so complex and vulnerable! Horrible self-esteem. And when he realizes that Jessica actually loves him and he's all confused about how that could happen--my heart? MELTING!! God, he acts like such an idiot sometimes, but you can forgive him because of what he's gone through.

And Chase can write sex scenes. Whew. *Blush* That's all I have to say about that.

I only had one bad moment in this book. At one point Dain tells Jessica, "If you leave me, I'll kill myself." And maybe this is very anti-romantic of me, but I thought this was awful. Talk about the worst kind of emotional blackmail. I understand that Dain feels like Jessica is the first person who ever loved him and that if she leaves him, he would be alone again, probably forever. But still. It's pretty pathetic that he thinks his whole life depends on her.

But I love, love, love this quote. Crankyreader has it on her blog, but I never knew where it came from till now.
"In my dictionary, romance is not maudlin, treacly sentiment," she said. "It is a curry, spiced with excitement and humor and a healthy dollop of cynicism."

Definitely my favorite Chase yet. Did someone say there was a sequel to this one? I'll have to see if I can get my hands on it.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Four things and a TRIP!

Four jobs I've had in my life
1. Server/bartender
2. Winn-Dixie checkout girl
3. bookseller (at Books-a-Million, the Kmart of bookstores)
4. archaeologist (I thought it was my calling. Turns out I'm too much of a wimp. Have you ever tried to shovel out a trench in 100 degree heat? When the burning sun has baked the soil into something the consistency of concrete? Yeah, not fun.)

Four movies I would watch over and over (and have):
1. Pride and Prejudice (the A&E version and the new one)
2. The Philadelphia Story
3. Lilo and Stitch (yes, I like kids movies)
4. 10 Things I Hate about You

Four places I have lived:
1. Brooklyn
2. Manhattan
3. Williamsburg
4. Yorktown

Four TV shows I love to watch (that are still running):
1. Bones
2. Grey's Anatomy
3. Everwood
4. We have no cable, so I can't think of anything else...

Four places I have been on vacation:
1. Pompeii, Italy (!!!! best place ever!!!)
2. Nova Scotia
3. California (We drove all the way across country after college graduation. That took a long time.)
4. London

Websites I visit daily:
1. (I'm a compulsive weather checker)
2. The blogs on my sidebar
3. Lots of other blogs
4. NYT

Four of my favorite foods:
1. Flourless chocolate cake
2. Apple tarts (and pretty much anything apple flavored)
3. Chicken salad
4. French bread and brie (when the bread's all crusty and the brie is all squishy. Hmmm)

Four places I would rather be right now:
1. In a sailboat on the Mediterranean
2. Somewhere cold, like, say, the North Pole. Because this heat wave is killing me.
3. Pemberley (Yes, I know it's fictional. I don't care.)
4. Texas visiting with my 3 oldest, dearest friends

And that last one's going to come true tomorrow! Twin and I are headed out of this sweltering city. We're going to Texas for the weekend and yes, it might be even hotter there. But the fearsome foursome will be together again and we are going to have a blast. Check out Twin's blog here for a picture of us on the first trip we ever took together 10 years ago. Ahh, look at our little 16-year-old selves. Thank god I don't have those bangs anymore.

So I'm back on Sunday. In reading news, I've just finished Lord of Scoundrels and can definitely see why it's such a classic. I've got plenty to say on it, but haven't got the time to do it justice tonight (must pack!), so I'll let it simmer while I'm away.