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September 20th, 2017

Review: Irish Thoroughbred by Nora Roberts

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May Contain Spoilers

Sadly, this book did not stand up to the test of time. Irish Thoroughbred is the very first Nora Roberts book I ever read, and I remember latching onto it because there was a teeny illustration of a horse on the cover. Silhouette Romance was still the new kid on the category romance block, and oh, how I loved them. The authors seemed edgier than the then current Harlequin crop, and most of the books were set in the US, or had American heroines. I gobbled these up, and Nora Roberts was a favorite. I could wax poetic on some of those older series romances, but that will have to wait for another day. The tingle of nostalgia, to this day, makes me smile.

Unfortunately, I did not enjoy my re-read as much as the first time I picked up this book (I had just started high school). Everything I liked about it before, grated on my nerves now. Romance, in general, has changed (thank goodness!), and this was just too old skool for me. The constant bickering between Adelia and Travis got on my nerves. Other than them snapping at each other, there was nothing to make me think they felt anything for each other besides annoyance. There was no chemistry, and the forced kisses  nah, that just doesnt work for me anymore. Nowadays I want tension in my romances, not questionable consent.

Adelia both irritated and charmed. When she first arrives from Ireland, she is wowed by Travis horse farm. Compared to the family farm she had to sell to pay bills, its elegant and almost like something out of a fairy tale. The living quarters shell be sharing with her uncle are glamorous in comparison to her old home. Now shes not expected to do anything, which grates on her. Used to working from dawn until dusk, she is eager to help her uncle with the horses, and proves her worth when shes able to climb aboard a troublesome colt and get him to concentrate on his job  running around a race track.  She has an almost mystical way of communicating with animals and Travis young nephews. But to have a civil conversation with Travis? Its not happening.

While my memories of this book were fonder than my actual experience re-reading it decades later, I dont regret checking this out of the library. The romance genre has changed so much from the days when I poured over Harlequin Romances acquired from garage sales, which meant they were ancient before I got them, and its been a fun journey down memory lane.

Grade: 2.75 stars

Review copy borrowed from my local library

About the book:

“COME TO AMERICA. YOUR HOME IS WITH ME NOW.”
Adelia Cunnane’s uncle had written her. So Adelia had left Ireland to join him on what he had described as the finest horse farm in Maryland.
Adelia agreed with her uncle about the farm. But what should she think about its owner, Travis Grant?
She knew that he could master his strongest horse. She had seen his eyes soften at the birth of a foal. Yet his lips on hers demanded a submission that she was not yet ready to give — at least not until he had spoken the words she had to hear.

September 18th, 2017

Review: A Cowboy to Keep by Barbara Ankrum

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May Contain Spoilers

I havent read this author previously, but my curiosity  was piqued  by the relationship between Adam and his teenaged niece.  I love stories when the hero is a caregiver of a younger relative, especially if there is some conflict between them. This seemed right up my alley, so I was eager to dive right in.

Ali has spent the past two years on the run. Shes landed in Marietta long enough to sneak a peek at her half-sister, who doesnt know she exists, and to earn some money as a photographer. Only problem? Reclusive rancher Adam Wolfe has purchased her camera from the shop she was forced to pawn it at for some quick cash. When she drives out to Adams ranch to offer to purchase her beloved camera back, she discovers that Adam needs just as much help as she does. Guardian of his young niece after shes left orphaned, he desperately needs someone to help cook, clean, and take care of Carrie while hes busy with his herd of cattle. Ali accepts a job with misgivings, but the lure  the opportunity to buy her camera back from him  is too tempting to refuse.

I really enjoyed this one. Ali, through no fault of her own, has made a nasty enemy, and shes been looking over her shoulder ever since. With no family or close friends to offer her protection, Ali is used to taking care of herself. Afraid to make connections now that she might place others in danger, she has hopped around, trying to stay one step ahead of the man who has vowed revenge on her. Adams ranch seems like heaven. She has the use of a bunkhouse, which is a huge step up from living in her car, and Adams kitchen is to die for. Carrie may have a few issues, but what teen doesnt?

Adam is a likeable guy. Hiding out at his ranch after an accident disfigured him, he is used to being alone. When his young niece invades his privacy, hes ready to make the best of it. He loves Carrie, but he knows that she is carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders. Adam tries to give her space to come to terms with her grief, as well as her anger at him, but once Ali arrives, he sees that hes taking the wrong track. Maybe he needs to confront her about her feelings, and help her deal with them. With Ali there to act as a buffer between them, Adam and Carrie are able to finally communicate. It was very touching to see them finally acknowledge how much they meant to each other, and how much they were both grieving for Carries parents.

Ali and Adams romance is a slow-burn, which I liked a lot. There was a lot of chemistry between them, even though they both tried to deny the feelings they had. Ali knew that she would be leaving soon, and Adam didnt think he was worthy of love. When Ali saw past his scars and saw the man beneath them, hope flared that maybe they could make something work out. But then Alis past catches up to her, throwing everything in doubt.

I thought the final resolution to Alis trouble was a little too pat. It was not believable to me, but it wasnt a deal breaker. A Cowboy to Keep is a pleasant way to spend a weekend afternoon.

Grade: 4 stars

Review copy provided by publisher

About the book:

On the run from her past, photographer Ali Thibeaux arrives undercover in Marietta to find her biological half-sister. Plan A: Meet Olivia, photograph her wedding, and disappear before endangering anyone. Plan B: All hell breaks loose.
Reclusive rancher Adam Wolfes only plan when he hires Ali to manage his dysfunctional household is to go on hiding from the world. But his scars dont seem to matter to the beauty who unexpectedly turns his house into a home and heals the rift between him and the teenaged niece hes taken in. Still, he suspects theres more to Ali than meets the eye and hes determined to uncover what shes hiding from him before its too late.

September 15th, 2017

Review: Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews

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May Contain Spoilers

Kate Daniels has a really scary family. Her father is thousands of years old, and he kills without a thought. Her step-father taught her how to fight and how to survive against the monsters that would be unleashed against her, should her existence be discovered. And in Magic Bleeds, Kate has a not so touching introduction to her Auntie Erra, a terrifying warrior whose closest companions are pestilence and death.

The action is fairly non stop, and once again, Curran makes a belated appearance. After standing Kate up for their naked dinner, I think she had every reason to be pissed with him. When he tries to make amends, she refuses to speak to him. Kate is such a hardhead, and she makes life more difficult for herself because she is so stubborn. Once she thinks she knows something, thats it. It takes moving heaven and hell to change her mind, and poor Curran took the brunt of her displeasure. After they sort things out somewhat, Curran achieves sweet revenge against Kates display of outrage, and I could not stop laughing. I like that Kate is so afraid to be part of a family because disaster follows in her footsteps, that she sabotages her own happiness. Good thing Curran isnt having any of that nonsense.

Despite her best efforts, Kate keeps picking up strays. This time, its a poodle (bwahaha) she names Grendel. I admit that I worried about Grendel the entire novel, and I dont think its a spoiler to tell you that both Kate and Grendel survived their battles to live to fight another day.  Thank you Ilona and Andrew for not killing the dog.

I love this series and am looking forward to book 5.

Grade: 4.5 stars

Review copy borrowed from my local library

About the book:

Kate Daniels cleans up the paranormal problems no one else wants to deal with-especially if they involve Atlanta’s shapeshifting community.
And now there’s a new player in town-a foe that may be too much for even Kate and Curran, the Lord of the Beasts, to handle. Because this time, Kate will be taking on family.

September Kimono 2017 part I

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September 14th, 2017

Final Irma Update

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Ok we are home now. So a final report. The site stayed up 100% through the hurricane and ensuing blackouts in the local area. My home is mostly ok, just a couple of minor things that can easily be addressed. Family is safe, all pets weathered the trip though they were't happy about it. All in all we came out of Hurricane Irma relatively unscathed. Please resume your regular InsaneJournal activities ;)

September 13th, 2017

Manga Review: Haikyu!! Vol 2 by Haruichi Furudate

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May Contain Spoilers

I may have to revise my opinion that volleyball is akin to watching paint dry.  This was a fun volume, full of action and athletic drama.  Kageyama is learning the value of teamwork, and Hinata is having a blast finally being on the playing court. There are two games featured in this volume, one between the Kurosuno team, and a practice match against a Aoba Johsai, a competitive volleyball school.

Getting the action kicked off, Kageyama and Hinata prove that they will make one heck of a duo once they get some mileage under their belts. In the 3 on 3 against the other 1st years, they struggle at first to find a rhythm that fits in with their playing styles, but once they find it, watch out! This was an exciting game! Capitalizing on Hinatas speed and mad jumping skills, Kageyama finally has a teammate capable of hitting his sets. Even though he has to pull back on his own abilities, Kageyama, still stinging from the rejection of his middle school team, is conscious of the need to work with Hinatas skills. While they still egg each other on, they are slowly wising up to the idea of working together to meet their goal of making the team and being allowed to practice with the other players.

After the match, they move on to a practice match again Aoba Johsai. This was another exciting smash fest. Hinata, despite his raw talent, is lacking experience, as well as practical knowledge of the game. It turns out that teams advisor is also lacking in that arena, and he is desperately trying to coax a coach out of retirement to work with the team. Now that Kurosuno has a range of talent, its time for the administration to do something to help these guys out when they start playing tougher opponents.

The match with Aoba Johsai featured a lot of angst for Kageyama. His old middle school teammates are on the team, and they taunt him, trying to get him to lose his cool. Its not Kageyama they needed to be going after, however, since Hinata once again suffers from pre-game anxiety. Poor guy! All of that running to the bathroom must have been wearying.

The thing I love most about sports and fighting manga is the ability of the creator to make the impossible seem, not only plausible, but probable and expected. Hinata and Kageyama make some crazy plays, and every single one felt real. Jump 6 feet into the air? No big deal. Block a ball traveling at 100 miles an hour? No big deal. Set the ball so Hinata hits it perfectly with his eyes closed? No. Big. Deal!

I enjoyed the second volume more than the first, and I am really looking forward to the next one.

Grade: 4.25 stars

Review copy borrowed from my local library

About the book:

After proving themselves to be the ultimate combination in their practice match against Kei Tsukishima, Kageyama and Hinata are finally allowed to join the club! Hinatas true powerto perfectly time his spikes with his eyes closedis awakened, and nothing can seem to stop this crazy setter-spiker duo. Now their skills are about to be put to the test at a practice game against one of Kageyamas former teammates from middle school, Tohru Oikawa.

September 12th, 2017

Review: The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare

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Review by Poo Penny

May Contain Spoilers

Well… It was okay? I am finding out that you aren’t going to love every book by authors you love. There are parts of this book I did enjoy, but I was hoping for more. I have high expectations for Tessa Dare books, and this one just came a little short.


There was definitely plenty of cheese, and there was some of that classic Tessa Dare wittiness, but I don’t know. It wasn’t my favorite. And I really wanted to like it, because what’s not to love about the premise. And that cover! Although, where are his scars? HMMM??

Breeches. I think he was one of the best parts, because when Emma tells Ash where she got her cat at the end, it was kind of like, well duh. I also liked her circle of “not normal” friends.

Grade: 3 stars

Review copy obtained from publisher

About the book

When girl meets Duke, their marriage breaks all the rules&
Since his return from war, the Duke of Ashburys to-do list has been short and anything but sweet: brooding, glowering, menacing London neer-do-wells by night. Now theres a new item on the list. He needs an heirwhich means he needs a wife. When Emma Gladstone, a vicars daughter turned seamstress, appears in his library wearing a wedding gown, he decides on the spot that shell do.
His terms are simple:
– They will be husband and wife by night only.
– No lights, no kissing.
– No questions about his battle scars.
– Last, and most importantly& Once shes pregnant with his heir, they need never share a bed again.

But Emma is no pushover. She has a few rules of her own:
– They will have dinner together every evening.
– With conversation.
– And unlimited teasing.
– Last, and most importantly& Once shes seen the man beneath the scars, he cant stop her from falling in love&

September 11th, 2017

The passing of the great Christopher Lee

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When I told my husband, he said, "He can't die, he's Dracula."

I've known his work all my life. Long before others discovered him as Saruman in "The Lord of the Rings" I knew him as Dracula, and Scaramanda in the James Bond movies, and Sherlock Holmes. He had one of those voices that made me swoon, and I could recognize it anywhere.

Here is his obituary. I would love to see the movie on Pakistan in which he played Jinna.

He was 93, which is a good age, but I will still miss him. May you thrive and see old friends and make new movies in the Summerlands, Sir Christopher Lee.




The man with his knighthood.

[[Comments have been disabled, as Tammy no longer checks this page. To comment, please go to her DreamWidth.

http://tamorapierce.dreamwidth.org/3454.html ]]

Irma Update

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So the site survived Hurricane Irma with no outages. Now we are just waiting to hear about the status of our home and are awaiting the all clear to drive the 14 hours back south.

Review: Frontier Want Ad Bride by Lyn Cote

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May Contain Spoilers

Since we will soon see the end of Harlequins Love Inspired Historical line, I have been reading them as the library acquires them. There is always a waitlist for them, so I dont understand why Harlequin is pulling the plug on the line, but it is what it is. I happened to be browsing the catalog when Frontier Want Ad Bride was added, so I was the first to check it out.

I dont know why I enjoy the mail order bride books so much. It would be extremely stressful to marry a guy you didnt know, and to put your life and well being in his hands. Thank goodness it always works out for the Harlequin heroines, but I have serious doubts about it working as smoothly in real life. Most of the young brides have no other economic choice but to marry a stranger and hope for the best.

Judith has traveled to Wisconsin to marry Asa Brant. They have been writing letters to each other since the fall, and now that its spring and the boats can ply the rivers again, Judith and her sister Emma have made the journey to Pepin to marry their prospective husbands. They have been forced to this drastic measure because their brothers nasty wife has run them out of the family home.

When they arrive at Pepin, Emma learns that her husband to be, Mason, had urgent business and had to leave town. Judith, meanwhile, is dismayed to learn that she is expected to marry Asa right now. She expected a short period to get to know him better, but the townsfolk have assembled at the school house, and before you know it, they are Mr. and Mrs. Asa Brant.

I enjoyed this book a lot. Asa is struggling with PTSD, and its keeping him from forming a relationship with his new bride. He is suffering from survivors guilt after half of his men died at Gettysburg. He thinks he isnt worthy of love, and that he can never atone for the orders that caused the deaths of so many of his men.

Judith was a bit annoying when she wished she were prettier. Constantly. She thought that her looks were holding Asa back. When two abused children end up in their care, Judith has more than herself to worry about. When she set aside her insecurities and understood that the only person she had any control over was herself, I really liked her. She slowly began to understand that Asas emotional distance stemmed from the war, and she understood that patience might solve some of their issues. Instead of confronting him, she gave him the space he needed to put his guilt into perspective. Having the children around helped both of them see beyond their own needs. Uniting under a common cause, keeping the kids safe from their abuser, allowed them to grow closer as a couple.

Frontier Want Ad Bride kept me happily turning the pages of my Kindle. Judith matured into an emotionally supportive woman determined to make a new family for herself, while  helping to bring comfort to her new husband, her father, and her equally unhappy brother. I look forward to reading more books by this author.

Grade: 4.25 stars

Review copy borrowed from my local library

About the book

Bride by Mail
Mail-order bride Judith Jones has barely arrived in Pepin, Wisconsin, before she’s whisked away to prepare for her wedding to Asa Brant. Though something about Asa seems so familiar, how do two strangers become husband and wife? Especially when Judith senses Asa’s hidden sorrow. His kindness in helping two young orphans could win her heart&if only he’d open up to her.
Determined to start over after four years of brutal war, Asa moved away and sent for a mail-order bride. He had no idea the woman answering his ad would be the sister of his former soldier in arms. The less he reveals, the fewer painful memories there are to confront. But Judith’s compassionand two loving childrenmight just show them the path to true happiness&

September 9th, 2017

Hurricane Irma Update

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Based on the current path of the storm and the current state of affairs, we are not anticipating any significant issues with the site. While power outages are still a possibility, the thought of data loss is now gone. The area the site is in, is no longer in any risk of flooding and the wind risk is minimal.

Thank you all so much for your words of support. Now we just need to figure out when we can go back home.

September 8th, 2017

Review: The Cowboy Rides Away by Jeannie Watt

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May Contain Spoilers

Yes! Another Jeannie Watt book! She is one of my favorite Western romance authors, and I get a little tingle of anticipation whenever I see a new book.  While I had a few problems with the hero of The Cowboy Rides Away, I found this an engaging read.

Meg Marvell is the middle child, and she has felt stifled her entire life. She has carefully moderated her behavior, so when cowboy Jason Mann shows an interest in her, shes secretly delighted. They share a fiery courtship, until Jason abruptly dumps her and leaves town. When she sees him in the local watering hole, she tries to avoid him at first. But then, she is determined to confront him and find out why he left her.

I really liked Meg. She is struggling to overcome her passive nature, and instead of sitting back and waiting for things to happen, she grabs the bull by the horns. In this case, she takes a summer job at her cousins ranch, working side by side with Jason. She is going to get to the bottom of their break-up even if it kills her. In order to move on with her life, she needs closure on his desertion. She also needs to assure herself that shes not the mousy woman who just sits on the sidelines watching everyone else enjoy life. She is going to break free!

Jason I wasnt too enamored with. His family has issues, and instead of dealing with the drama, he walked out on them, vowing to never return home again. The only problem?  They arent quite so willing to let him go. When they are short on money, they disrupt Jasons life, forcing him to pack up and move on, hopefully to somewhere they wont find him.  I just wanted him to say enough is enough and tell them to shove it. Instead, he lets them ruin his relationship with Meg, and when his brother turns up in town, hes willing to let him ruin it again. Argh!

I find Watts writing extremely readable, and I love her depiction of ranch life. I liked the secondary characters, and look forward to catching up with the Marvells in the future.

Grade: 4 stars

Review copy provided by publisher

About the book:

Never draw a line in the sand that you don’t want crossed…

The last person Jason Mann ever expects to cross a line is sweet Meg Marvell, the woman he’d fallen forand lefttwo years ago. An accidental meeting has Meg asking for answers, which he’ll give if she travels hundreds of miles to her cousin’s ranch where he works. Maybe making her go out of her way will help Meg

Never draw a line in the sand that you don’t want crossed…

The last person Jason Mann ever expects to cross a line is sweet Meg Marvell, the woman he’d fallen forand lefttwo years ago. An accidental meeting has Meg asking for answers, which he’ll give if she travels hundreds of miles to her cousin’s ranch where he works. Maybe making her go out of her way will help Meg understand that he’s not a good guy. His rough past makes it impossible to fit into her world.

Middle-child Meg Marvell has spent her life brokering peace and bending to avoid conflict. She lives cautiously, rarely takes risks, steps back when confronted. And she is damned tired of it. Its time to tackle life on her own terms. Break free. And what better way than to answer Jason Manns challenge? He doesnt believe shell travel to her cousins ranch to discuss why he disappeared from her life, so she does him one better and hires on. She didnt want him backshe wants to prove that she can rise to a challenge. Unfortunately, the attraction they once shared has not withered and died as shed once thought&if anything its stronger than ever.

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