>> Saturday, August 30, 2003

Today I translate the questions from Las Cinco del Viernes.

1) How did you celebrate your birthday when you were a kid?

At the Montevideo Cricket Club, right after school. The clubhouse was right next to my school, so it was very convenient for the guests' parents because they only had to go pick up their children afterwards. Most of my school friends celebrated there, too.

Anyway, we usually had either a magician, or a clown, or someone who'd organize activities for us.

2) Do you still celebrate your birthdays? If you do, do you still blow out candles? If you don't, when did you stop celebrating?

No, I stopped celebrating my birthdays about 3 years ago. No reasons in particular, I just hate being the centre of attention and I never did enjoy hosting parties. 3 years ago I realized that my birthday was supposed to be a special day for me, so I shouldn't do something I don't enjoy just because it's expected. So these days, I just go out for dinner with my family.

3) Do you celebrate any anniversary or special day?

No, none. I'm not really into anniversaries, not even when I'm in a relationship. My last boyfriend was like that, too. I remember neither of us noticed our one month anniversary and after that, we decided we weren't going to make a bid deal out of them.

4) Any unforgettable birthdays, good or bad?

My dad's 60th birthday, last November. My mom's my exact opposite about parties, she loves them. She decided we were going to pull out all the stops and organize a huge surprise party. You should have seen my poor dad's face when he went in!

5) Are you good at remembering people's birthday's and celebrations?

Not very, so I've programmed all my friends' birthdays into my Outlook, so that a notice pops up both on the day itself and a couple of days before, to give me time to get them presents, and all that.


Eye of the Beholder, by Jayne Ann Krentz

>> Friday, August 29, 2003

Eye of the Beholder, by Jayne Ann Krentz. I think I'm really getting into JAK's newer style.

Alexa Chambers has a flair for style, an eye for art -- and a reputation in tatters. An expert in Art Deco, she blew the whistle on an employer who was selling fakes to wealthy clients. Her payoff? No job and no prospects. Now she runs a shop in her hometown of Avalon, Arizona -- a hot spot for crystal devotees and sunset gazers. But gutsy, energetic Alexa has no intention of sitting still. She's ready to take risks to rebuild her career...and she secretly consults on an exquisite deco collection being installed at the new Avalon Resorts. Her scheme might just work -- if she can steer clear of the resort's owner, the enigmatic and possibly dangerous J. L. Trask.

Alexa was a scared teenager the last time she saw Trask, the man who accused her stepfather of murder. Insisting his dad's fatal car crash had been no accident, Trask vowed one day he'd come back to Avalon for revenge. Now, twelve years later, their meeting is inevitable. Their attraction is immediate. And their chances of bliss are infinitesimal.

Trask wants to piece together the past with Alexa's help -- and get closer to this dazzling deco diva. Alexa wants to protect her family -- and figure out Trask's real motivations. But when a killer emerges from the shadows, they have no choice but to team up to solve a deadly crime from long ago. As they trade sizzling sparks and snappy repartee loaded with sensual suggestion, their trail leads to a trendy spa called the Dimensions Institute, whose flaky denizens and strange atmosphere suggest there is more hidden there than meets the eye. They don't need a crystal ball to see that their survival -- and relationship -- depends on more than tantric breathing or a heavenly passion. They need a little help from a higher power: a true and trustworthy love
This was still lighter on the romance and heavier on the suspense than I would prefer, since the mix was better in JAK's earlier books, but I still enjoyed it. A B+.

I loved Alexa and Trask together. Their relationship developed a bit too fast, but I really liked what there was of it. JAK is a master at dialogue, and the banter between the protagonists was delightful.

The suspense subplot was interesting, though I'm tired of those little snippets from the crazy killer's POV that authors seem to be compelled to include in romantic suspense. Boring.

The setting was wonderfully atmospheric, and created a fascinating backdrop to the story. That scene where Alexa is chased by the bad guy in Shadows Canyon was beautifully done. Also of interest was the information about Art Deco. I love those little themes JAK inserts in her books!


Devil-May-Care, by Elizabeth Peters

>> Thursday, August 28, 2003

Devil-May-Care is an Elizabeth Peters release that reads like one of the author's Barbara Michaels titles. A B+.

Ellie is young, rich, engaged and in love. These are the carefree days before marriage and new responsibility, and anything goes --including house-sitting at eccentric Aunt Kate's palatial estate in Burton, Virginia.

Ellie feels right at home here with the nearly invisible housekeepers and the plethora of pets, but she soon realizes that there are disturbing secrets about the local aristocracy buried in a dusty old book she has carried into the mansion. And her sudden interest in the past is attracting a slew of unwelcome guests -- some of them living and some, perhaps not. And the terrible vegeance that Ellie and her friends seem to have aroused -- now aimed at them -- surely cannot be...satanic.
This particular title is a paranormal, as I said, similar to the best of Barbara Michaels.

The best thing about this book were the characters. Aunt Kate was my favourite... I'd love to be like her when I grow up, so uncaring of public opinion. "Monotheism has caused more trouble than it's worth" indeed! And Henry, Ellie's priggish fiancé was incredible! The first scenes, narrated from his POV, were hilarious, in their idiotic patronizing condescension.

The paranormal plot was light, but interesting. I usually hate plots with many agents doing each a different part of the suspicious acts, but this one felt right.


Scenes of Passion, by Suzanne Brockmann

Ok, my last Suzanne Brockmann until I can get a copy of Night Watch.... a friend lent me Scenes of Passion (excerpt) this week.

Twenty-nine-year-old Maggie Stanton always did what was right, what was expected. Safe, steady....and unsatisfying--that pretty much summed up her life. Until she encountered a stranger who stirred her imagination until she blushed, and who, with looks that communicated a lifetime, made Maggie do the unimaginable: take a risk....

To Maggie's shock, the man who'd compelled her to forsake predictability for passion was the full-grown version of the rebellious boy who'd been her best friend. Only, this Matthew Stone wanted marriage, not reminiscences. For a while, Maggie almost believed that their whirlwind wedding was the union of soul mates. Almost. Because there was much more to her husband that met the eye....
A fun B+. Nothing special, objectively, but those little things that are so Brockmann account for the high grade.

The characters were great, and Matt, especially, was a to-die-for hero. There was just a certain chemistry between them, and their relationship, a friendship that quickly turned into something more, was so great that I can forgive the slightly hackneyed category plot about will stipulations and the foolish Big Misunderstanding in the last part.


The Black Knave, by Patricia Potter

The Black Knave (excerpt), by Patricia Potter is a book I've been wanting to reread for a very long time.

The Marquis
After the massacre at Culloden, the new marquis of Braemoor, Rory Forbes, takes a Jacobite bride in a marriage of convenience. And though Rory relishes neither the role of lord nor spouse, he uses both to conceal a dangerous game that no one -especially his infuriating, fascinating new wife- can know about.

The Lady
Highland lass Bethia MacDonnell initally despises her dissolute "husband", Rory. A political pawn, she plays at marriage while plotting to escape Braemoor and free her imprissioned brother. Only one person can help her...

The Legend
Named for the playing card he leaves behind, the Black Knave smuggles Jacobites out of Scotland, eluding the English at every turn. But Bethia is determined to find him. Even as she grows closer to the enigmatic Rory, Bethia keeps her plans secret, never suspecting that her hero is closer than she thinks...
I definitely see what I'd liked the first time I read it. A B+.

Rory, the hero, was what made this book. He was an accidental hero, a man who didn't set out to be the Black Knave and rescue people, but had circumstances force that role upon him. He didn't like having to play the role of the dissipated nobleman, but he felt the obligation. I especially appreciated the fact that he knew how to stop and didn't wait until he was almost caught.

So many other things about him that I loved! I loved that he was a genuinely nice guy; he hated having to humiliate Bethia and tried to be as kind as possible without giving everything away. I loved that having a bitch of a mother didn't turn him into a mysoginist, like so many romance "heros". Bethia was an interesting character, but Rory completely eclipsed her.

I really liked them together. I enjoyed the very gradual way the real Rory started showing and Bethia started to get an inkling that her husband wasn't the boorish fop he looked like. This part was excellently done. I don't know if this was the author's intention, but I got the feeling that Rory, in a sense, wanted Bethia to know the real him. He subconsciously forgot himself at times, because he was already falling for her and even though his mind said he shouldn't, he wanted her to know he was someone she could love.

My only problem with this was that he really should have told her earlier. Much earlier.

I found the Scottish history very interesting, though the "evil plot", why Cumberland was so insistent that Bethia had to have a child, didn't make sense. Apart from that, I enjoyed the setting.

I'll have to read more by Patricia Potter. I think I've read one Western by her, but it didn't make much of an impression, I'm afraid.


Callander Square, by Anne Perry

>> Tuesday, August 26, 2003

I needed to take a little break from romance, so I read a Victorian mystery, Anne Perry's Callander Square.

The bodies of two newborns are discovered buried in a garden in the posh Callander Square region of London. Inspector Pitt and his precocious young wife, Charlotte, begin solving the crime from two different perspectives--one from within the walls of the peculiar residents' homes, and the other from the outside.
This was excellent, a B+.

It took me a bit to get into Callander Square, but when I did, I couldn't stop turning pages. The police case in this book was fascinating; I simply couldn't figure out how it all fit together.And yet, when I read the solution in the last pages, it all fit perfectly, and all the clues were there, if only I had known to look!

Not only was the story gripping, the characterization was outstanding enough to make the book worth reading just for it. I'm not, by any means, an expert, but the characters felt real and they felt Victorian. Many of their attitudes were incomprehensible for me now, but they felt right for those characters and, probably because this wasn't a romance, I liked reading about them.

Perry's characterization, IMO, is even better than PD James', an author whose novels I've always thought of as being wonderful psychological studies, more than whodunnits. Perry's just as good at creating real people, interesting people, with the added benefit that some of Perry's people are likeable, while James' just depress me.

There was very little about Pitt here. -Callander Square is only the second in the now 20+ book
long Thomas Pitt series, and most of what I know about Thomas and Charlotte comes from the later books. Plus, a great deal of the action here is narrated through the suspects' POV, which gave this whodunnit a non-traditional feel. It's not something I'd care to have in every mystery novel, but it worked here and I liked it.

I'm glad I have quite a few more Anne Perry novels waiting for me to read, and many more I can reread.


Full Bloom, by Jayne Ann Krentz

More rereads, this time one by Jayne Ann Krentz: Full Bloom.

Emily Ravenscroft is tired of her rich, domineering parents overseeing her every move. And she is equally tired of the interference of Jacob Stone, the tough, sexy troubleshooter her family has sent after her for years to make sure she stays out of trouble. Jacob has been extremely attracted to Emily since the day he met her, but as far as he's concerned, she is strictly off-limits as the daughter of his employers. Unfortunately for his determined vow, Emily has recently decided she is tired of being dutiful, and fiercely protests when her parents sic Jacob on her once again. She doesn't want Jacob as a watchdog, she wants him for a lover, and this go-round, she's determined to change the status quo.
This was a pleasant surprise: a B+.

I hadn't read Full Bloom in ages, and I think I had it confused in my mind with Silver Linings or A Coral Kiss, because I had the distinct impression that it was some kind of jungle adventure.

It wasn't, not at all. The suspense subplot was actually very, very subtle, only serving to showcase the progress in Emily and Jacob's relationship. Case in point, Jacob's very different reactions the two times Emily is confronted by the villain. This makes it very clear that he has realized Emily is his equal and can take care of herself.

This is something the reader is gradually convinced of, too. At first, Emily comes across as a little naïve and easily manipulated, but she shows her strength fast. Her relationship with Jacob, which starts out as very uneven (with Jacob having all the power), soon becomes one between equals.

Maybe one of the reasons I mixed up this book with those other JAK was because Jacob was so similar to their heros, especially Hugh in Silver Linings. Rough edges, socially awkward and fiercely protective of his woman. However, Jacob also showed a more sensitive, less domineering side, so I had no problem liking him.

Wonderful book, though I could have done with not so "light" love scenes.


>> Friday, August 22, 2003

Actor Arrested After Fatal Action Scene
An actor who said he thought he was handed a gun with harmless blanks has been arrested after shooting and killing a colleague during the filming of an action scene.

This reminded me of JD Robb's Witness in Death (nope, I'm not spoiling anything with this).


This week the Friday Five questions are short and sweet.

1. When was the last time you laughed?

Earlier this morning, when I told my brother what I'd dreamed last night. I dreamed we had gone to the river to fish huge ravioli (it was full of them, you could see them practically bubbling in the river), but it turns out most of them were filled with peach. I did fish one with spinach filling, so that was ok. Also, my brother had a son, but he didn't know who the father was (I swear this made sense in my dream), and -even more surreal- he asked me to watch the kid while he fished.

2. Who was the last person you had an argument with?

My mother. To put it mildly, we have different political opinions. She's extreme right, I'm more like center-left (in Uruguayan politics; this would probably translate as far left in most of the rest of the world).

Our last argument was about something the archbishop of Montevideo said in an interview... he said that homosexuality was a contagious disease, and like any other contagious disease, its sufferers should be isolated and cured. Mom kind of agreed, I thought he should be sent to jail for incitement to hatred (later last night I saw on the news that a gay rights group is going to present a complaint accusing him of just that).

3. Who was the last person you emailed?

My football group, at Yahoo! Groups.

4. When was the last time you bathed?

Yesterday morning. I'm heading into the shower as soon as I post this.

5. What was the last thing you ate?

Breakfast... cold pizza left over from last night (yeah, I know, I know, not particularly healthy).


Prognosis: A Baby? Maybe... isn't this the worst book title ever? Why do publishers do this to those poor authors? It does sound interesting in spite of the title, though.


Love With The Proper Stranger, by Suzanne Brockmann

>> Thursday, August 21, 2003

Time for another reread (yeah, I reread a lot, so?). This time it's Love With The Proper Stranger, on of Suzanne Brockmann's old Silhouette romantic suspense categories.

His name wasn’t Jonathan Mills, and he wasn’t vacationing on the idyllic island. FBI agent John Miller was on the trail of a notorious female serial killer, and he couldn’t blow his cover to anyone. Not even the beguiling Mariah Carver, who had unwittingly entangled herself in a web of deadly deceit.

John couldn’t deny that sweet, sensual Mariah was the woman he had been waiting for. Nor could he act on the passion that tormented them both. The daring lawman was poised to wed another woman: the ruthless Black Widow, who married -- then murdered -- her victims....
Wow! I love what Brockmann can do to a clichéd "tortured hero after serial killer" plot! An A-.

From the beginning, there were original, fresh touches to the typical serial killer plot. The serial killer in question is female and we know who she is almost from the beginning (so that wasn't a spoiler!).

John was a wonderful tortured hero, tortured to the point that he made himself physically ill. I loved the way he was attracted to Mariah from the beginning, and the way being with her helped his warmer, more human side show.

Mariah was fine, too. The "Oh, I'm so ugly, my tits are too big, my legs are too long" got old fast, but she was a reasonable, grown-up heroine, with a wonderfully healthy attitude towards sex. I liked the way she refused to tolerate what she saw as childish games on John's part.

Everything just came together beautifully.. the love scenes, the interesting suspense subplot, the secondary characters. Loved this!


Just Watch Me, by Julie Elizabeth Leto

>> Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Finally, after 2 Harlequin Blaze duds, one that was at least ok: Just Watch Me, by Julie Elizabeth Leto.

Jillian Hennessy is supposed to be watching a man suspected of insurance fraud. But when wires get crossed and she ends up watching Cade Lawrence, a sexy undercover cop on a similar assignment, the watching soon turns to wanting...and more!
I wasn't too crazy about this book, but there was nothing too wrong about it. A B-.

I liked this better than the last Leto I read, Double The Pleasure, just as I did in that case, I liked it less than I should given that many of the elements present are some I usually enjoy.

Both characters were likeable, and the setup was interesting. It only provided a backdrop to what was really mostly an erotic adventure. Still, I was pretty intrigued by Stanley and wanted to know what was up with him.

About the erotic adventure thing, it was very well done. The "voyeurism" element was fresh and interesting, and the love scenes were inventive and well written. I especially liked that sex was treated as something natural and fun. Only, why had Jillian been with only one guy in her entire life? This didn't really fit in with the rest of the story, and felt like a concession to those readers who can't handle a heroine with a normal sexual history.

I liked the way Jullian and Cade reacted when learning the truth about what each of them was doing. Their answer was basically to work together as a team, which was something I enjoyed. No outraged "You lied to me!!" idiocy, since they both recognized they each had lied to the other, and for good reasons.

The only thing that made me a little uncomfortable was Jillian's self-serving justification for using illegal wiretaps. Yes, she ultimately decided not to do it any more, and Cade really told her what he thought of it, but it made me uncomfortable that she was prepared to blithely invade people's privacy... simply because she had little doubt they were guilty. Grr!!!

Still, after all that, I wasn't all that involved in these two's love story. I actually remember thinking that it would be ok with me if they didn't stay together in the end... if the story were erotica without HEA.


A Perfect Scoundrel, by Heather Cullman

>> Tuesday, August 19, 2003

The first time I read A Perfect Scoundrel, by Heather Cullman (sequel to For All Eternity), I was in bed sick, feeling like crap, and this book made me completely forget the fact that my entire body hurt. I loved it!

Lord Quentin Somerville has made a living out of debauchery until the fateful day he lays eyes on the Season's reigning beauty Clarissa Edwardes. He is instantly smitten and decides to pursue her. Tired of competing with Clarissa's other titled and more wealthy suitors, Quentin concocts a plan to trap her into marriage by compromising her at a masked ball. Quentin's plan goes without a hitch until he's found (as planned) by members of the ton. To his surprise and utter dismay the passionate woman in his arms was not Clarissa at all but her plain, boring stepsister Jane.

Jane has been in love with Quentin for ages, so she isn't exactly sorry when they are forced to marry. She is rudely awakened from her dreams of HEA, though, when Quentin all but rapes her on their wedding night and immediately banishes her to his run-down country estate. But when Quentin is forced by his father to spend a few months with Jane in the country, he finally starts seeing her with new eyes.
I did like it a bit better that first time, but A Perfect Scoundrel was absolutely wonderful. An A-.

God, Quentin really was a son of a bitch asshole those first few chapters. I knew he was going to repent and grovel and grovel, but I still hated him. I even hated Jane for being a fool and letting herself be trampled into the ground by the rat bastard.

Why did I like a book with a hero who started out by behaving that way, when I usually can't stand those alpha idiots in old bodice-rippers? Well, the first difference is that Cullman, in her portrayal of the bad things Quentin does to Jane, obviously believes that what he's doing is pretty unforgivable. With the authors of bodice rippers, I get the impression is that there's a "he's just behaving like a manly man" feeling behind it.

Also, Quentin repents. Boy, does he repent! He really tortures himself thinking about the way he behaved towards Jane and works hard at winning her trust again. I know, I know, I'm sick, but I loved seeing him suffer, mostly because he really deserved it after what he'd done.

As much as I loved this part of the book, I thought Jane was a bit too quick to trust him again. I think she would have forgiven and forgotten right when Quentin started to change, if he'd made any overture. He works really hard to win her back, but only because he knows that he was horrid to her and can't believe she would forgive him, so he woos her practically without hope of being able to get into her bed again. He treats her like a queen only because he thinks she deserves it and wants to make her happy, not because he wants anything from her. *Sigh* It was so romantic!

The setting was absolutely wonderful, too. It was excellently rendered, with fascinating details about life in the country at the time... all those fairs and festivals... it felt magical.

The problem, and the reason this was not an A+, was that all the sweetness that is lovely during most of the book becomes cloying during the last few chapters. Once Quentin and Jane have confessed their love to each other, they get to be almost too much for me. "I love you", "I adore you".... enough already! The whole part about Jane and her problems with childbirth I could definitely have done without. I'd much rather had done without, actually, since it was very boring.

Still, the rest of the book more than made up for it and made it a keeper for me.


My Beloved, by Karen Ranney

>> Monday, August 18, 2003

My Beloved (excerpt), by Karen Ranney was a loan from a friend. From the back blurb, it didn't really sound like my type of book... too much political intrigue, basically. However, it's one of my friend's keepers, so I decided to trust her judgement and try it anyway.

This is the story of Juliana and Sebastian of Langlinais and two secrets he must keep. One could change the world as he knows it; the other will prevent him from ever touching his bride. But above all, it's a love story that transcends boundaries.

Juliana had spent most of her life at the convent of Sisters of Charity waiting to be summoned to her husband's side, only to be offered a strange bargain when she arrived at the castle of Langlinais. What he proposed would allow her to perform the work she loves. But will that freedom be enough to overcome the mystery of her husband? Why does he dress in a monk's robe? Why does he forbid her to ever touch him?
I'm glad I listened to my friend. While this one was not a keeper for me, I enjoyed it quite a bit. A B+.

Though I really liked the characters and the love story (more later ;-), the most amazing thing about this book was the atmosphere. History was very definitely not of the wallpaper variety here. I tend to prefer MedievaLand when it comes to Medievals, since those that have a good sense of the times tend to emphasize the grit and violence more than I like, but here it wasn't like that at all. It was rich and exotic, and I almost felt as if I were there.

I also thought the author did an excellent job of showing how religion permeated almost every level of life at the time. Sebastian and Juliana are practically heretics, if one considers the way they don't bow to Church dogma (a fact they recognize), but religion is still important to them and a big part of their lives.

And the history! The first 50 pages alone sent me running for my computer to do some research on things like the Cathars and their fate. Really fascinating.

As for the romance part of the story, it was really good. Throughout most of the book Sebastian is sure that he'll never be able to have Juliana (trust me, he has good reasons to think that), and his feelings of anguish about that and about what's happening to him are wonderfully conveyed. He was a lovely character, a strong warrior who, nevertheless, was always kind to Juliana.

Juliana I liked, too. At first, she seems almost too innocent and naive (something understandable for a woman who's lived all her life in a convent), but even then she shows lots of inner strength. This strength really comes through later on.

My only qualm was how the way the main, seemingly insurmountable conflict is resolved. It was too easy. I mean, I don't know how Ranney could have solved it, but please, not this way! At least, this happened after hard choices were made by the characters.

The suspense subplot was interesting. It disappeared near the end of the book, but this was something I liked.


The Ebony Swan, by Phyllis A. Whitney

>> Friday, August 15, 2003

The Ebony Swan,by Phyllis A. Whitney is a book I've had in my TBR list for years and years... at least 6 years, easy.

At a crossroads in her life, Susan Prentice decides to make contact with her maternal grandmother whom her father had forbidden her to see since Susan's mother's death from a tragic fall almost twenty-five years earlier. There are so many questions she wants to ask - about her mother and her own dimly remembered childhood on Virginia's eastern shore. Susan is also determined to get acquainted with her grandmother, a reputedly difficult woman, on her own terms.

Traveling across the country to the lush Southern land of her birth, Susan has no way of knowing that her entire life is about to change irrevocably. Once there she discovers that her mother's death may not have been an accident and that her return has caused anxiety among people who fear what may lie dormant in Susan's memory.
Whitney had a very interesting story to tell here. Unfortunately, the way she did it was so boring that I can't give this book more than a C.

I never felt like I knew the protagonist, Susan. She was completely flat. I've no idea of who she was or how she thought. Consequently, I couldn't really care what happened to her.

The worst part is that Whitney obviously knows how to do good characterization. Susan's grandmother Alex, for instance, was a very complex character, and she was one I understood. Plus, she was 10 times more interesting than Susan... a former Peruvian ballerina who'd married a much older famous novelist and had emigrated with him to the US. This is one person I'd really love to read about! But no, we got some Alex (the reason why this got a C and not a lower grade), but the protagonist was that boring twit Susan.

I'm thinking this might have worked better as a gothic, I suppose. What I mean is, I liked Alex's characterization, but maybe if we hadn't known her agenda, this might have made a more gripping tale. I don't know, I guess we might need a more interesting heroine for this book to work as a gothic.

Another big problem I had, one that was related to this I just mentioned, was that we knew everyone's motivations; many secondary characters had heart-to-hearts about their nefarious plots at the drop of a hat. There's one point where there's been an accident and Susan gets a visit from a guy (a few pages later) who tells her he arranged the accident to scare her into leaving because he wants his girlfriend to inherit Alex's money and he's afraid the $ might go to Susan. Poof, all suspense gone from that subplot. And it was all like that...

The romance was so subtle it was almost non-existent. This was suspense, not gothic romance or romantic suspense. I don't know if more romance would have made it better, though.

I hate books with horrible plots and characters, but it's books like The Ebony Swan that depress me... all that unexploited potential!


FridayFive had some fun questions today:

1. How much time do you spend online each day?

Well, I'm online almost constantly at work. I've a long list of newspapers I need to browse each day, plus, 90% of the data and information I use for my reports I download from the internet. For personal use, I log on for maybe an hour at home.

2. What is your browser homepage set to?

Yahoo!. It loads very quickly and I like to see the little box with the news. I'm thinking of changing it to Google News. Actually, I'd prefer a website with more "local" news, but all the ones I know take forever to load.

3. Do you use any instant messaging programs? If so, which one(s)?

Yes, I use the MSN Messenger, but I don't log on very often these days.

4. Where was your first webpage located?

The first webpage I created was for my mom. I made her a simple page for her to upload her recipes, and hosted it at Geocities. My second site was my book trading site, also hosted at Geocities. My third, and last, is this one.

5. How long have you had your current website?

My trade page has been online a little over a year and I still use it and keep it updated. This one will be one year old on August the 26th.


Two Sexy!, by Stephanie Bond

>> Thursday, August 14, 2003

Why, oh why did I decide to read Two Sexy!, by Stephanie Bond?

Schoolteacher Meg Valentine has been dying to put some adventure, some excitement — some sexual stimulation — into her life! So when gorgeous bodyguard Jarett Miller asks her to stand in as a body double for his famous client, sexy beach babe Taylor Gee, how can she refuse?

Although Meg's not exactly the sex goddess type, under Jarett's skillful tutelage — and his even more skillful hands — she becomes increasingly aware of her own sensuality. Sensuality she's definitely having fun exploring with the hunky bodyguard. But is Jarett in love with the real Meg...or in lust with the sexpot he's created?
Damn it! I'd been having an excellent streak, all good books, even a few truly excellent ones, until I got to this irritating crap. I swear, I think I can understand those people who rage against the Blaze line. Some are great books, but the bad ones suck big time! I mean, this is the second Blaze in a row that gets an F from me.

I'm sick and tired of reading stuff that demonizes women who aren't some nurturing, motherly ideal. In this book, the hero, Jarrett, has promised his best friend that he'll keep an eye on his sister Taylor, a TV starlet, who happens to be in love with Jarrett since forever. But Jarrett won't have anything to do with her. He finds her attractive, but first he rejected her because of "respect" for her parents, who had taken him in and now he rejects her because she's an evil ho.

It's disgusting. At one point Jarrett actually thinks he'd like to have someone who looks like Taylor (because women like Taylor, that sinner! are only good enought for a man to lust after), but who is a nice, nurturing sort. A good woman, see, one fit to be the mother of his children. *Gag!* He gets his wish in Meg.

Meg is the typical series romance idiot with no self-esteem and who doesn't have a selfish bone in her body and who hides her beauty because... who knows? Meg doesn't accept to pose as Taylor because she'd be paid good money for it or because she thinks it would be fun. Oh, no, she does it only because she needs to replace some money that got burnt in a freakish fire at her sister's shop (Meg's minding it while her sister, heroine of the previous book, is on vacation). Jarrett offers to replace the money, seeing as Taylor caused the fire, but Meg, the twit, doesn't feel right about taking it because... who knows? Oh, yes, it's because she's a martyr, sorry.

While posing as Taylor, Meg shows that's she's good and kind and nice to little children, so Jarrett falls in love with her. They have sex. Taylor finds out and blackmails Meg into keeping away from Jarrett (because she's an evil ho who wants Jarrett for herself). That last thing was incredibly idiotic... a journalist is threatening to expose the switch unless he gets paid off, and Taylor says she'll fix it if Meg goes away. Come on! Meg has to know that if she goes to Jarrett with this, he'll solve it for her, basically because he's as interested as her in keeping this a secret.

The romance is stupid, the sex scene is boring, the characters are cardboard cutouts and the plot is idiotic. And then there's Harry, a blow-up doll with an erection. I've no idea what he is, he seems to be from the previous book, but it feels like a gimmick the author felt she had to include but didn't feel like write about.

To add insult to injury, as I didn't have enough reason to hate this book, the author happily sets out to bash cats. Cats! Whatever have those poor creatures done to her? Jarett imagines Meg's fiancé as "one of those soft, rich guys who prefer cats to dogs". Because of course, we all know that a real manly man wouldn't be caught dead petting a cat. No, sir, to be a real man, one has to have a dog, and not a little one, no, a German Shepherd at least. Sorry, Ms. Bond, but IMO there's nothing sexier than a cat lover hero, someone like Blue Reynard, from In The Midnight Rain? I'd trade a thousand Jarretts for a guy like that.


Smoke in Mirrors, by Jayne Ann Krentz

I recently finished Smoke in Mirrors, by Jayne Ann Krentz.

Leo, if you're reading this, I'm dead.
A con artist and seductress, Meredith Spooner lived fast and died young. Now it appears that Meredith's last scam is coming back to haunt her friend Leonora Hutton. An e-mail has just arrived in which Meredith -in fear for her life, but as feisty as ever- explains that well over a million dollars in embezzled funds is waiting for Leonora in an offshore account... and a safe-deposit key is on the way.

Leonora wants nothing to do with the tainted money, taken from an endowment fund at a small college. She's already been accused of being in on the theft by Thomas Walker, who apparently was a victim of Meredith's knack for both scams and seductions. Eager to prove him wrong and escape this mess, Leonora sets out to collect the cash and hand it over.

But there are two other items in the safe-deposit box. One is a book about Mirror House, where Meredith engineered her final deception -a mansion filled with antique looking-glasses that produce a dizzying infinity of reflections. The other is a set of newspaper stories about a thirty-year-old murder that occurred there, a murder unsolved to this day.

Now Leonora has an offer for Thomas Walker. She'll hand over the money, if he helps her figure out what's happening. In her e-mail, Meredith described Walker as "a man you can trust". But in a funhouse-mirror world of illusion and distortion, Leonora may be out of her league.
This was pleasant. A B. Nothing too exciting, but there was a nice romance with likeable characters and an intriguing mystery. Neither of these elements were perfect, but they were well-balanced and the combination made for a good read.

On the romance front, I especially liked Thomas and his tools *vbg*. He was a sweet guy, and I just had to laugh when he gave Leonora a box of tools as a gift. And Leonora was a nice character, too. Not even one TSTL second from her, and she was perfect for Thomas, with whom she had a very mature relationship, a nice change from the usual immature antics that pass for one in most romance novels.

Ehe only proble here is that I want my love scenes back!!!!! I don't want gratuitous love scenes, but they were missing here. Sometimes it feels natural not to have them, but in this case one felt the bedroom door bang against one's nose. This is exactly what I hate about my favourite authors going more mainstream: they end up toning down the romance.

The suspense part was interesting, but too intrincate. I mean, come on! 3 different villains, 4 if you count Meredith, all acting independently and with different agendas? I like to at least stand a chance to guess what's going on! At the same time, it was too easy to guess who Meredith's murderer had been.

Something I love about JAK that is present in this book is that she often has sympathetic gay characters. In a genre where sometimes being gay is code for being the villain, this is a nice touch.

Oh, well, I enjoyed this in spite of its flaws. I'm beginning to repeat myself, I know, but a so-so JAK is better than much of what's in the market.


To Sir Phillip, With Love, by Julia Quinn

>> Wednesday, August 13, 2003

I'd been looking forward to reading To Sir Phillip, With Love, by Julia Quinn, and I wasn't disappointed. An A-.

Sir Phillip knew that Eloise Bridgerton was a spinster, and so he'd proposed, figuring that she'd be homely and unassuming, and more than a little desperate for an offer of marriage. Except… she wasn't. The beautiful woman on his doorstep was anything but quiet, and when she stopped talking long enough to close her mouth, all he wanted to do was kiss her…and more.

Did he think she was mad? Eloise Bridgerton couldn't marry a man she had never met! But then she started thinking…and wondering… and before she knew it, she was in a hired carriage in the middle of the night, on her way to meet the man she hoped might be her perfect match. Except…he wasn't. Her perfect husband wouldn't be so moody and ill-mannered, and while Phillip was certainly handsome, he was a large brute of a man, rough and rugged, and totally unlike the London gentlemen vying for her hand. But when he smiled…and when he kissed her…the rest of the world simply fell away, and she couldn't help but wonder…could this imperfect man be perfect for her?
This was darker than usual for a Julia Quinn book, and I liked the result very much. TSPWL joins The Viscount Who Loved Me as my 2 favourite Bridgerton books.

As I said, the tone was more serious than in other titles, though I've never considered that Quinn writes fluff at all. Her humour and wit might make it seem that way, but if you think about it a bit you realize her characters are well drawn and that she explores some deep issues and does it very well, only with a light hand. And when I say "light hand" I mean it as the opposite of "heavy hand", not that all this was done "lightly".

Anyway, TSPWL had a different tone but it didn't lack humour at all. The best thing was the romance itself, which I'd found not that good in Romancing Mr. Bridgerton. Here, it was wonderfully satisfying.

I loved Eloise. She was the sensible spinster sort, but not one of those heroines who claim they never want to marry. She simply never found the right guy, so at 28 she suddenly realizes that she's alone and with no realistic prospects. At 25, I'm definitely not there yet, but I identify with her feelings, to some extent. I also liked the way her ambiguous feelings about her friend Penelope marrying Colin were dealt with.

Her interactions with Phillip's kids were hilarious and sweet. So they play a trick on her? She plays a worse trick on them. Heh-heh, I like this more because of the revenge element than because of how educational it was (I haven't a motherly bone in my body, I know).

As for Phillip, oohhh! I loved the guy. I could understand his issues better than, say, Anthony's, for all that I loved his book. I liked the way he was portrayed as a guy who was confused and unsure about what he should do. I just prefer a hero like that to one of those larger-than-life alphas, never a doubt in their heads that their way is the right way, and that any opinion the heroine ventures is worthless. I found the way he latched on to Eloise, practically the minute she arrived, very sweet. He definitely needed the happiness and fun she brought into his life.

I am of two minds about that scene where Phillip gets so angry because Eloise is dissatisfied with what they have together, something that to him is paradise. On one hand, the scene had plenty of that stomach-clenching emotion I like so much. On the other, however, I didn't think it was very healthy that Eloise not be allowed to discuss grounds for improvement of their relationship with her husband. The problem is that I didn't feel this was solved by the end of the book... I'm not sure that Phillip won't react in a similar way the next time Eloise comes to him and wants to have a "talk".

There were 2 elements that bothered me in this book. First, I couldn't stand the scenes with the 4 Bridgerton brothers coming to find their sister. They simply reeked with that protective, male superiority attitude I hate so much. Oh, aren't they sweet, so protective of their sister, not even stopping to listen to her before they beat Phillip up? Well, no, they're jerks, IMO. I just found them incredibly boorish, especially that scene where they are sitting around getting drunk and talking about that barmaid's tits. Idiot men!

Second, Eloise's whole scheme of running away in the middle of the night, leaving only a little note for her mother was idiotic! This was an intelligent woman, wouldn't she have arranged something so that her family wasn't worried? This seemed to me to have been done only to have an excuse for her brothers to come chasing after her and forcing her to marry. Come on, there were better ways to do that without making our heroine act so out of character. I don't know, Eloise setting up a fake visit to a friend's house and her family finding out the truth by some coincidence?

Still, I liked the love story (which was hotter than expected, too!) so much that I'm prepared to overlook little annoyances like those. How long until the next Bridgerton comes out?


Nobody's Baby But Mine, by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

>> Tuesday, August 12, 2003

I finally got around to rereading Nobody's Baby But Mine, by Susan Elizabeth Phillips.

Genius physics professor Dr, Jane Darlington desperately wants a baby. But finding a father won't be easy. Jane's super-intelligence made her feel like a freak when she was growing up, and she's determined to spare her own child that suffering. Which means she must find someone very special to father her child. Someone...well..stupid.

Cal Bonner, the Chicago Stars' legendary quarterback, seems like the perfect choice. But his champion good looks and down-home ways are deceiving. Dr. Jane learns too late that this good ol'boy is a lot smarter than he lets on — and he's not about to be used and abandoned by a brainy baby-mad schemer. The Explosion A brillant, lonely woman who dreams only of motherhood...A take no-prisoners tough guy who'll settle for nothing less than surrender...Can passion and physical attraction propel two strong-willed yet vulnerable people to a totally unexpected love?
I was right. I seem to have grown into SEP's books, because this time I actually "got" what was so wonderful about NBBM. An A-.

The actual setup for the story was more than a little stupid. First thing, I'm no expert, but really, all that about "intelligence tending towards the mean" may be correct, but a smart scientist like Jane being so sure that she could determine her child's intelligence simply by her choice of father sounds remarkably idiotic. Plus, I might be wrong, but can't one kind of pick and choose at a sperm bank? Read a kind of résumé, if you will, for each donor? They must have some non-medical-student samples there! This kind of contrived, "only in romance novels" situations are really irritating. Plus, I don't enjoy the kind of humour that relies on making the heroine look like an inept idiot, so I thought the whole first part of NBBM was not so good.

Luckily, once Jane got pregnant and she and Cal were married and went to Salvation, the book improved 100%. Their relationship was a delight. I especially enjoyed the way Jane realized Cal was too dominant and controlling,a nd made sure he couldn't run roughshod all over her. And the best part was that Cal loved the fact that she stood up to him and kept him on his toes. He seemed to genuinely enjoy the fact that she was as smart as he, and that she gave as good as she got.

And these two liked each other, which is something I always enjoy. Cal disliked her at first, of course (deservedly. I mean, what Jane did was wrong! I hated it in that awful book, Take Me, and I hated it here, though at least Jane felt guilty about doing it!), but he soon started liking her and enjoying being with her.

My only complaint about this part of the book was how, when Jane wsa rude to Cal's parents in order to keep them from growing too fond of her and suffering when they got divorced, it was implied that one her worst deeds was not going to church and not being a believer. It was right up there with being rude and condescending. Nice touch, that. As an agnostic, I was not amused.

I liked the secondary storyline very much. Cal's parents' story was sweet, and I liked how the author handled it. It was interesting to see a relationship that had been seemingly happy for almost 40 years but still had a fatal flaw that had to be fixed.

The ending was nice, too, and I loved to see Cal grovel (cruel, me?). He knew he had to prove his love, and he did it, all right!

I now find myself wondering if I shouldn't try Dream a Little Dream. With this one, it wasn't that I didn't "get" it, no, I hated it! I hated it so much that I traded it the first opportunity I got, even if that left my SEP football series incomplete. I just couldn't stomach a heroine so dumb that she could have married that asshole. Still, I have a friend who has it and can lend it to me, so I might borrow it at some point.


The Walker in Shadows, by Barbara Michaels

I have a lot of book comments to write, the first of which is for a book I finished reading last Friday! It's a Barbara Michaels, titled The Walker in Shadows, and it was a reread.

For a long time I thought I had every Barbara Michaels book ever written, but one day, with too much time on my hands, I decided to check my collection against the bibliography on Michaels' website. Turns out I was missing not one, but two books, which I bought immediately. One of them was this one, and I'm so glad I checked the list that day!

The house next door stood empty for years, an eerie mirror image of Pat Robbins' well-tended home. Until the day the Friedrichses moved in. Pat's teenaged son fell head over heels for Kathy, his new neighbor. But in a furious battle of wills, Kathy's father made his message clear: stay away. Even the house seemed to be warning them of the deadly secrets among its shadows--and the evil within its heart.
This and Ammie Come Home are the books I measure the rest of BM's ghost stories against. An A.

I liked the history behind the ghost, the characters, the teamwork involved in finding out as much as possible about what or who the ghst might be and about what happened allthose years before. Those are the best things about the book.

On the minus side, well, although it's aged pretty well, there are some parts, especially of Josef's behaviour, that seemed a little old-fashioned. But that was just a small quibble.

I must also say it was terribly chilling. I just couldn't stand to be alone when I finished it!


>> Friday, August 08, 2003

First post with the new template!

The FridayFive questions for this week are boring, so I'll translate those on Las Cinco del Viernes, which are much more fun:

1) Are you superstitious? Do you do things like throwing salt over your shoulder, or not walking under a ladder?

I don't really consider myself supersitious, but I confess I actually do some stuff like that. I wouldn't go out of my way to do it, but as long as it doesn't involve much effort, then what the hell! It can't hurt.

Some things I do:

- On the 29th of each month, we cook gnocchi at home, and we put money under the plate. This is supposed to guarantee that we won't be short of money the next month. This is more a tradition than a superstition (and most of the times I forget about the money), plus, I love gnocchi!
- I knock on wood to guard against bad luck.
- I used to have a routine whenever I had an exam at university. I'd drink a supposedly calming tea right before I left home, and I'd always wear the same clothes, a par of dark blue jeans and a red sweatshirt. I stopped with that when I gained a little weight and the jeans were too tight for comfort.

Most other things I just don't do... Tuesday the 13ths (It's Tuesday, not Friday, in my country)? I was born on a Tuesday the 13th, so I can't very well think it's bad luck, can I? Opening umbrellas indoors? No problem. Breaking mirrors? Doesn't bother me. Black cats? Love them. Walking under ladders? Only if there's someone using them, I've no wish to be splattered with paint.

2) Do you read horoscopes? Do you believe them? How do you feel about astrology?

I don't usually read horoscopes, and I definitely don't believe in them. As for astrology, I don't find it very convincing.

3) Have you ever paid someone to read your future? What system did that person use (tarot cards, palmistry, crystal balls, tea leaves...)?

Twice. Once when I was about 12, we were walking down the street with my mother and this gypsy lady (or rather, this lady dressed as a gypsy), hounded us until we "crossed her hand with silver". Oh, I was having trouble with my studies, wasn't I? Eh, nope. That's one area I've never had trouble with. What a fraud!

The second time was a couple of years ago at a nightclub. There were 4 or 5 fortune-tellers sitting around the room, each specializing in different systems. With my friends we had the guy with the tarot cards read our fortunes, just for fun. Every prediction was very vague, so it was pretty boring.

4) Do you have any amulets, or lucky charms? Do they work?

None that I can think of.

5) Any quirks or habits you can't help, superstitious or not?

Checking the doors at night to make sure they're locked. There are 5 doors leading outside from my apartment, and I can't go to sleep unless I check them all, even if I know they haven't been opened that day.


Notice any difference? Yup, I've changed my template. Hermione was kind enough to design this one for me, putting up with my not having any idea of exactly what I wanted and with my wanting thousands of little changes (to "see how it looks").

So, thanks Hermione! You're the best!


Once a Dreamer, by Candice Hern

>> Thursday, August 07, 2003

Earlier this week I finished Once a Dreamer (excerpt), by Candice Hern.

The fiery Miss Tennant wants satisfaction from the popular lady columnist who ruined young Belinda's life. But imagine Eleanor's surprise when she discovers the anonymous author of the odious advice is a disarmingly attractive man named Simon Westover! Well, the handsome cad is responsible for this outrage and he will set things right! As for Simon, he must protect his "Busybody" identity at all costs -- and therefore agrees to help Eleanor scour the English countryside for missing Belinda and her paramour.

But the intoxicating nearness of the exquisite lady -- not to mention her dazzling emerald eyes and lush, kissable lips -- is almost too much for a hopeless romantic like Simon to bear. Yet how can he convince Eleanor that he is no mere meddler but a passionate male with intense desires . . . and prove to the stubborn, straightforward miss that dreams of love can come true?
Once a Dreamer was close, very close to being a keeper, but the last 30 pages or so made it miss. Still, a B+.

I love beta heros and I love road romances, so I'm probably the target audience for this one.

Simon was a sweetie. He was a complete romantic, a feminist and also a bit of a revolutionary. Not weak at all, he was a man who stood up for what he thought was right and acted to improve the world. I loved him.

Eleanor was harder to like. She was pragmatic, a realist and a bit of a pessimist, a woman who had a deep distrust of love. She had reasons to be this way, though, and it was perfectly understandable that she would be so sure that Belinda was headed towards disaster.

Most of the book is devoted to Simon and Eleanor's trip north, after Belinda. There's a bit of armchair travelling here for the reader, very well done. During their trip, Simon and Eleanor have no big adventures, just little contretemps, and the best thing is that they talk. They discuss things, neither changing the other's ideas, both respecting each other and understanding where they're coming from. They really get to know each other, and this was very good.

All was fine until the final 30 pages, when Eleanor goes crazy and does several things that seem very out of character (and cruel), and which, IMO, serve only to provide some unnecessary conflict.

Not that this ruined the book, not at all, but it kept the book from being a keeper.


Murder in Ordinary Time, by Sister Carol Anne O'Marie

>> Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Rereads and more rereads. I noticed this one, Murder in Ordinary Time, by Sister Carol Anne O'Marie, when I rearranged my bookshelves not too long ago.

Just one bite of that irresistible Christmas cookie and Christina Kelly, Channel 5's leading investigative reporter, was on the air--dead. The odor of bitter almond told Sister May Helen the cause of the death: cyanide. Somewhere in the studio was the wily killer, a person everyone knew....

Had Christina's investigations led her to her dead end? Or was the fatal cookie meant for someone else: the notorious womanizer; the hard-drinking floor manager with something to hide; or perhaps Wicked Wendy, who certainly fit her nickname? Or was the intended victim the intrepid nun herself?
This was an enjoyable cozy mystery, though the mystery itself was a little to easy to solve (and I'm not too good at this). A B.

I loved Sister Mary Helen. She was one smart lady; nosy, but kind-hearteadly so. She had a very wry voice, and I loved her observations and comments on her surroundings, especially because she was wonderfully tolerant, not a word I usually associate with elderly Roman Catholic nuns (all this stems from traumatic cathecism classes, I'll write about them some other time).

MIOT was very atmospheric. It was set in San Francisco, and it's obvious the author has a great fondness for the city. The description was never boring, but there was a lot of it and it was almost like being there.

Now for the problems. First, the dialogue sounded off. The worst was the dialogue between Detective Kate and her husband, but it wasn't the only one. Even the scenes between Sister Mary Helen and her friend, Sister Eileen sounded strange.

Also, it was too easy to guess what had happened and even exactly who had done it.


Gone Too Far, by Suzanne Brockmann

>> Tuesday, August 05, 2003

I spent all Saturday reading Gone Too Far, by Suzanne Brockmann.

In his career as one of America’s elite warriors, Lt. Sam Starrett can do no wrong. In his private life, Sam–the king of one night stands–has done little right. Now, he’s waiting for a divorce and determined to stay active in his young daughter’s life. But when Sam shows up at the door of his ex-wife’s home in Sarasota, Florida, he makes a grisly discovery. His daughter is gone and the body of a woman lies brutally murdered on the floor.

FBI agent Alyssa Locke’s relationship with Sam has been overwhelmingly intense and nearly catastrophic, yet it refuses to end. The last time she saw Sam was six months earlier, when they worked together to stop terrorists from assassinating the U.S. President. Much to her dismay, Alyssa is assigned to lead the murder investigation and once again the two are face to face. When explosive information surfaces linking Sam to the still unsolved assassination plot, the stakes are raised. With her reputation hanging in the balance, and her loyalties in question, Alyssa is faced with an impossible dilemma:arrest a man she believes to be innocent, or risk her career.

While Alyssa tries to fight their intense attraction, Sam is determined to heat things up between them once again. And the complex case pushes them both to the wrong side of the law–and on the run to discover the truth. As more agents step into the chase, and with Sam’s daughter still unaccounted for, neither Alyssa nor Sam can predict just how deadly hot this situation is about to become. . . .

I enjoyed this very much, an A-. The Alyssa / Sam storyline, the storyline here, was wonderful. It more than made the book, IMO. I've never been a Sam-hater, and I've always liked Alyssa, so I was more than ready to enjoy seeing them finally together.

And I enjoyed the character development (at least, in Sam's case... there wasn't much for Alyssa). I found the flashback scenes to Sam's past fascinating, and they explained so much! I was never too comfortable with Sam's decision to marry Mary Lou just because she was pregnant, but seeing his relationship with Walt and what happened when Noah knocked up his girlfriend explained it.

In the present, I loved the way Sam was crazy in love with Alyssa from the first, and kept trying to get her to believe it. And Alyssa's resisting felt reasonable, not like in some books, where it's just a way to keep a conflict going. Even though these two have spent relatively little time together, I really believed their relationship.

The minute I finished the book I went back to the beginning and I read every page with S&A in them. I loved how Sam tried to fool himself into believing he was going to reject Alyssa if she didn't fully commit to him, only to find himself completely unable to resist. And that first love scene... ahh!!

Why not an A+, then? Basically, I thought the multiple storylines weren't as well done this time. I resented it as hell every time we left S&A and saw what was going on with the others. In the other books, I was actually more interested in the secondary storylines than in the main ones (David and Mallory in The Unsung Hero, S&A themselves in the rest), but here it was the other way around.

I've never been too interested in Tom and Kelly (will they or won't they get married? Who cares! was my answer), so the pages devoted to them only interested me in terms of what they were doing to uncover what had happened in the attempted assasination.

Max and Gina? Their relationship was a bit too repetitive and one-note, and I really don't see what Max's problem is, why he's so opposed to having a relationship with Gina. I understand that he'd want to keep away at first, because all those fears about Gina's feelings being transference were reasonable, but he's taking it much too far. Maybe it'll be better explained in their book, I don't know. I just know that those two didn't really capture my attention.

Then there was the WWII story, the worst so far. It was an interesting story, but it felt like it was edited out of all recognition. It might have been good with a few more letters or diary entries in the middle, showing the development of Walt and Dot's relationship a bit better. Anyway, there was enough about these two in the flashback scenes to make the rest unnecessary.

Finally, Mary Lou. I actually liked her, very much, in Into The Night, and I was looking forward to seeing her again, hopefully in some kind of relationship with Ibraham. What I got was a character that lost all the development that she'd gained in ITN. I hated her for creating all this trouble. The only thing she would have needed to get out of trouble was a phone call to her husband (like we see at the end of the book), because she obviously wasn't going to be able to hide forever. Plus, didn't she realize that Janine was going to be found at some point and that Sam was going to be worried as hell about his daughter? What an idiot!

The suspense subplot was basically the cleaning-up after what had happened in ITN. I mentioned when I wrote about that book that it had been left too open ended, which was something I hadn't liked about it. In GTF all those threads were tied up (though what was it with those 3 Fact: / Theory: pages near the end of the book? ), so that was good. It still felt like these 2 books could have been one long one, at least it terms of suspense subplot.

Still, the S&A story was good enough to compensate for all the other things that bothered me, and this one's one I'll probably reread quite a few times.


Nerd in Shining Armor, by Vicki Lewis Thompson

>> Monday, August 04, 2003

Nerd in Shining Armor, by Vicki Lewis Thompson is a book I've been anticipating since I read the review.

For Genevieve Terrence it seemed like a dream come true: a weekend alone on Maui with her sexy boss, Nick Brogan. But little did she know that Nick had dreams of his own -- a nefarious scheme that nearly got her killed on the flight over the Pacific. Lucky for her, brilliant computer programmer Jack Farley was on board and quick-witted enough to crash-land the plane. Now Jack is her sole companion on a remote desert island with nothing but guava trees and sharks for company. Who'd expect the shy genius -- and the least alpha male she knows -- to turn out to be the uninhibited stud of her wildest dreams?

Saving Genevieve's life has made Jack a hero in the eyes of the woman he has secretly lusted after for months. Now they're alone together in a tropical eden where they're free to give in to their every sensual whim. But when some nasty unfinished business puts them at risk again, Gen will learn there's nothing quite as dangerous as a fully aroused ex-nerd who'll move heaven and earth to protect the woman he loves...
I liked it very much, a B+. It was light and frothy, a book better read at the beach, not during a rainy Montevideo winter day. This was a case in which the cover really reflected the mood, tone and even setting of the book.

However, I must say it wasn't nearly as shallow as I've seen it accused of being. I really didn't think that this was a case of lust. In fact, I liked Gen because, though she wasn't attracted to Jackson before the plane went down, she was always kind to him, never mean or condescending. So I never got the feeling that Jackson's feelings for her were just a crush because she was beautiful, but also because he saw her as a kind person.

I loved Jack. Nerdy, beta heroes are my weakness, and he was just adorable and so nice. I loved that he had zero problem with the fact that Gen was the one who knew what she was doing in the island, and he followed her instructions without protest. A relief, really, after all those heroes who just have to be the ones in charge, or they don't feel like real men.

The weak point here was the very irritating dialect. I hated all those hillbilly expressions and turns of phrase, "Tarnation!", etc. The worst, however, has to be the scene when Gen tells Jack "This would be a good time for you to suck on my titties". Is this a huge turn-off or is it just me? Anyway, I thought this whole thing was completely unnecessary. I mean, I applauded Gen's decision to stop hiding her roots, but did the author have to make those roots so... annoying? (And I refuse to believe that this wasn't exagerated!).

Something very surprising was that Nerd was a very sexy book, but the love scenes weren't very explicit, a lot of almost-"fade to black". I wonder why this was so? I would have liked a little more detail, to tell the truth.


>> Friday, August 01, 2003

Friday Five questions of the week:

1. What time do you wake up on weekday mornings?

7:00, or a bit earlier if I'm going to the gym (if I go any later, all the treadmills are occupied!).

2. Do you sleep in on the weekends? How late?

I actually wake up at 7:00 too, unless I've stayed out late the night before. Even then, I try never to sleep past 9:30 or so... And, to tell the truth, it's not all that common for me to be out late. My friends and I have become little old ladies since we reached the quarter-century mark. "Going out" for us is now going out for dinner or a few drinks, and we tend to be back home by 1:00 AM at the latest.

I just hate sleeping in. It feels like I've lost most of the day, if I wake up too late. Mornings are my favourite part of the day, especially Saturday mornings. I read the newspaper, solve the very difficult Saturday crossword puzzle and settle in to watch the English Premier League football game. Bliss!

Actually, football was what made me realize how much I love mornings. The World Cup last year was played in South Korea and Japan, which meant that the games started at 3:00 AM Uruguayan time. Since I wanted to watch every single game, I started going to bed at 8:00 in the evening and waking up at 3:00 AM. It was so beautiful, being the only one up, having breakfast while everyone slept, that I continued waking up early when the WC was over... not quite as early as 3:00 AM, but earlier than I used to.

3. Aside from waking up, what is the first thing you do in the morning?

Make breakfast and read the newspaper.

4. How long does it take to get ready for your day?

I usually go to work at 1:00 PM, so I don't really get ready for my day in the mornings. I usually spend my morning at my computer, working on a paper I'm doing (and which doesn't seem to move forward at all!) and of course, answering my e-mail.

When I do get ready, though, at about midday, it takes me about 15 minutes to shower and get dressed.

5. When possible, what is your favorite place to go for breakfast?

I never go out for breakfast. I'd love to, but I don't know of any places that "do" breakfast near my house (except for the MacDonald's, but that's not a possibility!)


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