Friday, January 28, 2005

Bargain Books @

Not sure how I ended up at Amazon's web site, but I was there this morning and to my delight, discovered they have a bargain book section. I got 6 trade paperbacks for $26 that had I paid full cover would have cost over $60. Here's what I am getting:

A Girl's Best Friend by Elizabeth Young
Dogs Are Better Than Men
1. They never brag about their ex's stunning cleavage.

2. They don't moan or sulk if you're a half-hour late.
3. They never tell you a Brazilian would really turn them on.
After her most recent disaster with the King of the Unrepentant Jerks, Isabel "Izzy" Palmer is finally convinced that the only male she truly needs in her life is Henry, her lovable part wolfhound, part who-knows-what. Henry's faithful, he adores her madly, and he's great fun to sleep with. So who needs the additional heartache?
But even armed with powerful knowledge and a new resolve, Izzy starts to feel that familiar itch ... and it's all because of Nick. He's a vet for goodness sake -- confident, handsome and compassionate -- if a bit rough around the edges. After teasing her about Henry's unusual looks and questioning her most recent choice in men, Nick then has the gall to turn halfway charming. But he doesn't stop at halfway, and though she already has a best friend, Izzy realizes it doesn't preclude her from having a perfect match, too.

Does She Or Doesn't She? by Alisa Kwitney
Passion. The kind of tear-your-clothes off, scream-your-lungs-out, crash-into-the-furniture passion that changes lives.
It's what Delilah wants. It's what she craves. It's what she fantasizes about whenever her disinterested husband's not around. Okay, so it occasionally makes her late for the school run and distracts her from the fact there's no food in the fridge, but an elaborate fantasy life is a basic requirement for a fledgling soap opera writer. Lately, though, the oddest things have been happening in Delilah's real life. First, she discovers a couple of skeletons rattling around in her husband's closet. Then, she learns that the insolently sexy plumber who's been fixing her pipes and starring in her daydreams is really an undercover FBI agent. And now all the clues seem to point to the conclusion that she's the only person in New York City not carrying on a torrid affair. Which she intends to do something about. Or does she? Because there's nothing more dangerous than acting on your secret desire.

The Accidental Virgin by Valerie Frankel
There ARE no accidents...
FROM: Venus, Goddess of Love, 120 Main, Mt. Olympus

TO: Stacy Temple, lapsed temptress
Stacy, Stacy, Stacy.
You were so promising at the beginning: Sexy, smart, personable and funny. Great on dates and really great afterward -- if you know what I mean. But this is a sad state of affairs; or, in your case, non-affairs! It's been nearly an entire year and you haven't had your way with even ONE eligible male. You've been working so hard concocting sexy lingerie for -- and really, Stacy, if that little pink velvet bustier didn't put you in the mood, I don't know what to say! -- that you haven't even tried to be coaxed out of your own! Are you listening, Stacy? Seven days to find the perfect man -- or else!
Happy hunting!

32AA by Michelle Cunnah
Emma Taylor wanted an engagement ring and a job promotion for her thirtieth birthday.What she got instead was the boot from herboyfriend, the heave-ho from his Manhattan loft -- and the indignity of having to work for the weenie who stole her position. Her pals only add insult to injury by giving her the "perfect" birthday gift: a bottle ofbreast-enhancing pills. It would be enough to defeat even a well-endowed woman, but Emma's not about to let such twists of fate get her down, even as she sets out on the most grueling task known to humankind: apartment hunting in New York City. But sleeping in the backseat of her car provides an unexpected bonus -- she meets Jack, who's kind enough to invite Emma into his home ... in a strictly landlord/tenant-type of arrangement, of course. Perhaps things are looking up -- since honestly they couldn't get much worse. Emma may not be able to fill a bikini, but she's going to do that "life and love" thing right this time. Because no matter what else destiny throws in her face, she's determined to come out where she never has before ... on top!

The Dominant Blonde by Alisa Kwitney
The search for the perfect boyfriend AND the perfect hair color. Lydia Gold has a new body (size 10 at last!), a new hair color (medium ash), and a new boyfriend (not too sexy but -- she thinks -- secure). She's certain Abe is about to propose. Then he shocks her down to her roots by going missing with about three million dollars of her family's hardearned cash... leaving behind nothing but some lukewarm memories and a ring she's sure is a fake! Distressed, depressed, and dumped, Lydia turns to Liam MacNally for help. From the moment he sees her there is something about "Blondie" that he can't resist. So the ex-cop turned scuba instructor decides to help her get back her money -- and her pride. It's time for Lydia to start having more fun!

On The Couch by Alisa Kwitney
After going for more than a year without a date -- a record in New York City -- Marlowe Riddle has finally met a broodingly sexy, sharply intelligent man who is clearly interested in making more than polite conversation. The only problem: Joseph Kain is an NYPD detective clearly under the mistaken impression that Marlowe is a call girl. But while Marlowe does take money for spending time with strangers in her expensive Upper West Side apartment, she's a psychologist -- not Manhattan's answer to the Mayflower Madam! A fact she has no intention of telling Joe ... at least not until she finishes her research project on the "Behavioral Effects of Disguising Identity." But Marlowe's not the only one trying to secretively gain information ... and it's becoming increasingly unclear who is seducing whom. Because sometimes the only way to learn what a man really wants ... is to get him on the couch.

A day that involves the acquiring of more books is a great day, don't you think?

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Kitchen Gadgets & Clothes

OK, OK, I admit it. I'm addicted to kitchen gadgets. The real kick in the ass is that I absolutely HATE to cook! Odd, I know. But, there is just something, oh I don't know, soothing I guess, about browsing through a kitchen store. For the past two weekends I have done that. Originally, I was on the prowl for a new garbage can for the kitchen. I want a stainless steel can (can't believe how bloody expensive they are!) and found myself at several kitchen stores and home interior design type stores. Went to a Home Depot Expo Design Center in North Scottsdale as well as a Great Outdoors, Restoration Hardware, Crate & Barrel, Bed Bath & Beyond, and a store I've never heard of before called Sur La Table, which sells all kinds of cool stuff as well as offers a culinary program (yuck, no thanks). Didn't buy a trash can but got lots of cool things instead. A stainless steel potato peeler with the big black cushy grip; 2 mesh strainers; this thing called Rub Away which looks like a bar of soap, but it's stainless steel. It's really cool. Ever mess with onions and garlic and can't get the odor out even after washing your hands? Well after washing your hands, you rub this Rub Away gadget in your hands as if it is a bar of soap and it removes the odors! How cool is that? Picked up some HUGE coffee mugs from Bed Bath & Beyond. They are ceramic blue that match my kitchen beautifully and are 24 oz in size. Need to get about 4 more. Actually Bed Bath & Beyond was the best prospect for the stainless steel garbage cans, but starting at $80 plus tax, it will have to wait until I get some overtime in my check or holiday pay or I win the lottery....

Then tonight, we went to an outlet mall in Tempe to a Linens & Things store where I picked up some plastic bowl covers and another outlet mall in Mesa where I picked up some pyrex dessert dishes (perfect for pudding or jello or using it to combine spices...), a garlic press and this cool tomato slicer with a finger protector that pushes the tomato through the blades without your fingers getting cut. For $3.50, I just HAD to try it. I really like the stainless steel gadgets like measuring cups, measuring spoons, etc. How many sets of measuring cups and spoons does one person need, right? My favorite is a set of 4 measuring spoons for "dash, pinch, smidge, and tad."

At the Home Depot Expo Design Center, we were blown away by this jacuzzi whirlpool tub that has a huge built-in flat screen television mounted. Oh my God! I would never get out of the tub if I had one of those! We almost fell over when we saw the price of $26,100! I was dying to ask a salesperson just how many of these tubs do they sell. Do people just whip out the old Visa or Mastercard and have the tub delivered? Would I actually tell people if I owned one of these tubs? Unbelievable!

On a side note...I hate shopping for clothes. I want a new outfit for work. I have to teach at the Police Academy next month and with the weight I've lost, all of my clothing is very baggy. For almost 25 years, unbeknownst to me, I have been buying the wrong clothing. I should be buying petite sizes. Always wondered why trousers and jeans were so bloody long. Now, I know. The problem is that although I need a 14 petite on my ass, I can't wear petite on top. I need a regular misses 14. So, how the hell do I buy clothes when everything is usually the same size top to bottom? I found the cutest suit in turquoise and black. The skirt fit great in the 14 petite, but the jacket was a no-go. Too tight across the back if I button it up and it just didn't look right unbuttoned. It's a conspiracy....wish I was one of the filthy rich who could afford a personal shopper to take care of this shite for me...

Friday, January 21, 2005

ABC Reading Challenge

For 2005, I have made a personal challenge to read as many books as I can. Of the hopefully hundreds I plan to read, I want to read a book from authors representing every letter of the alphabet. I think the only difficulty will come in finding an author whose last name ends in X. Do any exist? Must research...

Anyway, you can see how I am doing by looking at my bookshelf. Here's the link:

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Good Reading

In 2004, I read a lot of good books that I wouldn't necessarily rate as "keepers" though they were very good and I would recommend them. They are:

Little Bitty Lies by Mary Kay Andrews - In a suburban Atlanta neighborhood where divorce is as rampant as kudzu, Mary Bliss McGowan doesn't notice that her own marriage is in trouble until the summer night she finds a note from her husband, Parker, telling her he's gone -- and has taken the family fortune with him. Stunned and humiliated, a desperate Mary Bliss, left behind with her seventeen-year-old daughter, Erin, and a mountain of debt, decides to salvage what's left of her life by telling one little bitty lie... that starts to snowball until Parker turns up dead. Or does he? LITTLE BITTY LIES is a comic Southern novel not only about one woman's lifelong quest for home but also about all the important things in life: marriage and divorce, mothers and daughters, friendship and betrayal, small-town secrets -- and the perfect recipe for chicken salad.

The Girls' Guide To Hunting And Fishing by Melissa Bank - The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing explores the life lessons of Jane, the contemporary American Everywoman who combines the charm of Bridget Jones, the vulnerability of Ally McBeal, and the wit of Lorrie Moore.

High Maintenance by Jennifer Belle - There's a new property on the market. And she has great potential. Liv Kellerman has just left her cheating husband and, more tragically, their fabulous duplex with its Empire State Building views. Now Liv, alone for the first time in her life with few marketable skills, and crammed into a crumbling "fixer-upper" in Greenwich Village, is contemplating her next move...

Looking For A Hero by Patti Berg - Morgan "Black Heart" Farrell can't believe that the honey-haired siren is telling him the truth: that he's sailed right from 1702 into the twentieth century. He desperately needs to get back to his ship and his own time. But for now, the widowed Kate seems to need a man -- a REAL man -- who can protect and comfort her. Black Heart knows he may have brought danger with him from the past, but he can't seem to resist Kate's cupid-bow mouth with its fiery kisses. At first, Kate Cameron can't believe her eyes as they drink in the spectacular mystery man standing on an otherwise deserted beach. Never mind that he's wearing a cutlass and looks like he washed onshore from an off-Broadway production of THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE, Black Heart is the sexiest man Kate has ever seen. And she soon begins to believe that Morgan heart may not be so black... but that he may be the hero she's been looking for.

Something Wicked by Jo Beverley - Lady Elf wants to break out of her dull existence even if it is just for one night. Attending Vauxhall in disguise, she overhears a plot against the king. One of the conspirators is Fort, a man who hates all Mallorens. It was a night of danger and intrigue. Disguised as the mysterious beauty Lisette, Lady Elfled Malloren anticipates only fun and flirtation at the Vauxhall Gardens Masquerade. Instead, the dark walkways lead to an encounter with treason, a brush with death, and a night of riotous passion with her family's most dangerous enemy -- the elusive Fortitude Ware, Earl of Walgrave. His control is indisputable, his power unquestionable, his attraction undeniable. And after just one night, Elf knows she will never forget the man she should not love....

Tempting Fortune by Jo Beverley - Portia St. Claire's brother has gambled and lost, throwing her into the power of ruthless men. Their price for his life is her virtue, to be auctioned off in London's most notorious brothel....To retrieve an incriminating letter, Bryght Malloren once broke into a house where he was greeted at pistol point by a resolute woman... a woman he could swear stands before him, masked and trembling, on a madam's auction block....Unable to leave Portia to such a cruel fate, Bryght turns the private wager into a very public game of seduction, one that confirms his reputation as a shameless rake and keeps all of London society breathless with anticipation. But on a night shimmering with destiny, truth, and passion, those who tempt fortune risk losing everything... including their hearts....

Got Your Number by Stephanie Bond - Old flames never die... or do they?
Roxann Beadleman just received an ominous message that resurrects old secrets, and her debutante cousin Angora Ryder was just jilted at the altar. A road trip to accomplish things on a life list they made in college leads them back to their alma mater for Homecoming, and to the professor they were both in love with....But Angora doesn't know that Roxann is wanted for questioning in a police matter, or that a dangerous criminal could be following them. Detective Joe Capistrano is on their heels, too, determined to charm information out of Roxann and to protect her, whether she wants it or not....Once Roxann and Angora hit campus, their lives are turned on end. Professor Irresistible is majoring in Seduction, old skeletons are leaping from closets, and Detective Capistrano is closing in. Roxann and Angora soon find themselves thrust into a chilling lesson of murder, and if either of them gets out of this mess alive, could true love be at the end of their chase?

The Passionate One by Connie Brockway - He was a notorious rogue with a reputation for hell-raising and heart breaking. But family secrets forced Ashton Merrick to do his ruthless father's bidding -- and escort Rhiannon Russell back to McClairen's Isle. Ash suspected that his father intended to make the innocent beauty his fourth, ill-fated wife. But he didn't expect the passions she would ignite in his own wary heart.

Hello, Darkness by Sandra Brown - The gripping story of a woman haunted by her past and caught in a nightmare that threatens to destroy her future. It's a brilliant, fast-paced tale, electric with sexual tension, by one of America's most popular authors of sophisticated suspense. For Paris Gibson, her popular late-night radio show is both an escape and her one real contact with the outside world. Since moving to Austin to ease the pain of past, tragic mistakes, she has led a life of virtual solitude, coming alive only when she hosts her show. To her loyal listeners, she is a wise and trusted friend who not only takes their music requests but listens to their problems and occasionally dispenses advice. Paris's world of isolation is brutally threatened, however, when one listener -- a man who identifies himself only as "Valentino" -- tells her that her on-air advice to the girl he loves has caused her to leave him and that now he intends to exact his revenge. First he plans to kill the girl, whom he has abducted -- which he says he will do in 72 hours -- then he will come after Paris. Joined by the Austin police department, Paris plunges into a race against time in an effort to find Valentino before he can carry out his threat to kill -- and to kill again. To her dismay, she finds that one of the people she must work with is crime psychologist Dean Malloy, a man with whom she shares a history that had a catastrophic effect on both their lives. His presence arouses old passions, forcing Paris to confront painful memories that she had come to Austin to forget. As the clock ticks down, and Valentino's threats come closer and closer to becoming a reality, Paris suddenly finds herself forced to deal with a killer who may not be a stranger at all.

The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot - She's just a New York City girl living with her artist mom...NEWS FLASH: Dad is prince of Genovia. (So that's why a limo meets her at the airport!)DOWNER: Dad can't have any more kids. (So no heir to the throne.)SHOCK OF THE CENTURY: Like it or not, Mia Thermopolis is prime princess material. Mia must take princess lessons from her dreaded grandmére, the dowager princess of Genovia, who thinks Mia has a thing or two to learn before she steps up to the throne. Well, her father can lecture her until he's royal-blue in the face about her princessly duty -- no way is she moving to Genovia and leaving Manhattan behind. But what's a girl to do when her name is Princess Amelia Mignonette Grimaldi Thermopolis Renaldo?

Teen Idol by Meg Cabot - Ask Annie your most complex interpersonal relationship questions. Go on, we dare you! All letters to Annie are subject to publication in the Clayton High School Register. Names and e-mail addresses of correspondents guaranteed confidential. High school junior Jenny Greenley is good at solving problems... so good she's the school newspaper's anonymous advice columnist. Even if solving other people's problems doesn't make her own -- like not having a boyfriend -- go away, it's still fun. But when nineteen-year-old screen sensation Luke Striker comes to Jen's small town to research a role, he creates havoc that even levelheaded Jenny isn't sure she can repair... especially since she's right in the middle of it. Can Jen, who always manages to be there for everybody else, learn to take her own advice, and find true love at last?

Burning The Map by Laura Caldwell - A summer vacation that changed one woman's life....3 GIRLFRIENDS... 2 GREEK ISLANDS... AND ONE LIFE-CHANGING VACATION Casey Evers realizes that the choices she's made in her 26 years aren't exactly making her happy. In fact, her life is so ON course -- college, law school, boyfriend, job offer -- that it's actually OFF. So, before she slides into 14-hour days at a high-powered Chicago law firm, she decides to go to Rome and Greece with her two best friends for one last hurrah. The thing is, her best friends haven't really been all that close to her since she started seeing John two years ago, she hasn't been all that close to John lately, and she's awfully partial to Mediterranean men....

Mad About Mia by Millie Criswell - A story filled with delicious passion and a delirious sense of fun! It might be hard to picture impish Mia DeNero as a bodyguard, but what she lacks in size she makes up for in determination. So when straight-laced Nick Caruso walks into her office and says he needs protection from the mob because of a book he's writing, she doesn't hesitate to take the job. Moving the studious author into her apartment seems like the best way to protect him from shady characters. But soon after he's settled in, the thick, nerdy glasses come off and Mia starts wondering who's going to protect her from this irresistible new client? Posing as a geeky author on the run from the mob is making FBI agent Nick Caruso crazy. But if it will help him shut down a money laundering operation out of Little Italy, he can ignore the wimp jokes for a little while longer. It's harder to ignore the sassy woman he hired to be his "bodyguard." There are a number of things he'd like Mia to do to his body, and guarding it isn't on the list. As things heat up -- on the job and in the apartment -- Nick begins to see he's in danger of losing his heart to the woman he's deceived, and who is determined to save his life....

Crazy For You by Jennifer Crusie - On Wednesday, Quinn McKenzie adopted a dog and changed her life. On Thursday, she tried to get somebody to notice. On Thursday night, somebody did. When Quinn McKenzie decides to change her "beige" life by adopting a stray dog, everything begins to spiral out of control. Now she's coping with dog-napping, breaking and entering, seduction, sabotage, stalking, more secrets than she really wants to know, and two men who are suddenly crazy... for her.

The Royal Treatment by Mary Janice Davidson - In a world nearly identical to ours, the North won the Civil War, Ben Affleck is the sexiest man alive, Martha Stewart is a better pastry chef than insider trader, and Russia never sold Alaska to the U.S. Instead, Alaska is a rough, beautiful country ruled by a famously eccentric royal family, ostracized by the other royals, and urgently in need of a bride for the Crown Prince. In fact, ANYONE would do. But they have no idea what they're in for when they offer the job to a feisty commoner... a girl who's going to need... THE ROYAL TREATMENT.
Or, Things I've Learned Really Quick, As Compiled by Her Future Royal Highness -- Yeah, Whatever -- Christina. That's me.
1. Asking for cocktail sauce for your oysters will make the chef cry, then faint.
2. Telling jokes you picked up from the guys on the fishing boat doesn't go over really well at a fancy ball.
3. Telling the obnoxious younger royals you're going to kick them where the sun don't shine if they don't stop annoying you is guaranteed to make them follow you everywhere.
4. Must learn to curtsy, stifle burps, and tell the difference between a salad fork and a fruit knife. Don't these people ever use hands?
5. Must not keep thinking about Prince David's amazing eyes, lips, hands, shoulders, uh... wait, can I start over?
6. Waltzing: Head up, fingers down, don't let the tattoo show.
7. Remember: this is a business arrangement. That kiss in the gallery? The one that thawed the Alaskan frostiness down to a tropical heat? An aberration. Do not repeat... unless absolutely necessary.
8. The most important word in "royal family" is still family.
9. Becoming a princess is a lot harder than it looks.
10. Falling in love is a whole lot easier....

Vertical Run by Joseph Garber - You think YOU had a killer workday. . . Get ready for the FASTEST thriller of the summer!Each morning in his 45th floor executive office, David Elliot savors the quiet moments until the workday begins.
Until today, when his boss walks in and aims a gun at him. For the rest of the day, he will be trapped in his midtown office building, and everyone David Elliot meets will try to kill him. He has 24 hours to find out why. . .In Vertical Run, you can escape into a world on fast forward, a drama that plays out with electrifying intensity. No one who reads this book will ever see the office the same way again.

The Apprentice by Tess Gerritsen - It is a boiling hot summer in Boston. Adding to the city's woes is a series of shocking crimes in which wealthy men are made to watch while their wives are brutalized --- a sadistic demand that ends in death. The pattern suggests one man: serial killer Warren Hoyt, recently put behind bars. Police can only assume an acolyte is at large, a maniac basing his attacks on the twisted medical techniques of the madman he so admires. At least that's what Detective Jane Rizzoli thinks. Forced to reconfront the killer who scarred her --- literally and figuratively --- she is determined to finally end Hoyt's awful influence. But this time around, the vendetta is more vicious than she ever would have imagined.

H Is For Homicide by Sue Grafton - His name was Parnell Perkins, and until shortly after midnight, he'd been a claims adjustor for California Fidelity. Then someone came along and put paid to that line of work. And to any other. Parnell Perkins had been shot at close range and left for dead in the parking lot outside California Fidelity's offices. To the cops, it looked like a robbery gone sour. To Kinsey Millhone, it looked like the cops were walking away from the case. She didn't like the idea that a colleague and sometime drinking companion had been murdered. Or the idea that his murderer was loose and on the prowl. It made her feel exposed. Vulnerable. Bibianna Diaz was afraid for her life. If there was one thing she knew for sure, it was that you didn't cross Raymond Maldonado and live to tell the tale. And Bibianna had well and truly crossed him, running out on his crazy wedding plans and going into hiding in Santa Teresa light years away from the Los Angeles barrio that was home turf to Raymond and his gang. Now she needed money to buy time, to make sure she'd put enough space between them. And the quickest way she knew to get money was to work an insurance scam--just like the ones Raymond was running down in L.A. The trouble was, Bibianna picked California Fidelity as her mark. And it wasn't long before her name surfaced in one of Parnell Perkins's open files and Kinsey was on her case. But so, too, was her spurned suitor, Raymond Maldonado. He had a rap sheet as long as his arm, a hair-trigger temper that was best left untested, and an inability to take no for an answer. He also had Tourette's syndrome, which did nothing to smooth out the kinks in his erratic and often violent behavior. All in all, Raymond Maldonado was not someone to spend a lot of time hanging out with. Unfortunately for Kinsey, she didn't have a lot of choice in the matter. Not after the love-sick Raymond kidnapped Bibianna. Like it or not, Kinsey was stuck baby-sitting Bibianna along with Raymond and his macho crew. You might say she was a prisoner of love.

The Anniversary by Amy Gutman - Three women reach the edge of terror as the secret past they all share is unearthed and turned against them! It's been five years since the execution of Steven Gage, a devious, charming psychopath who took the lives of more than a hundred women. In those five years, three women connected with his case have moved on. His attorney has rid herself of the stigma of defending Gage. A true crime writer has gone on to new projects after her bestseller about his rampage. And Steven's ex-girlfriend has made a new life for herself one where she won't be reminded that she once shared her home with a monster. But someone hasn't moved on. On the fifth anniversary of Gage's execution, each of the women gets a private note... a chilling message that lets all three women know they haven't been forgotten, and that in someone's dark imagination, Gage's legacy of terror lives on. At the time of his sentencing, Gage issued a terrifying edict that all three women hoped was meaningless. As threats against them turn deadly, the past explodes into the present. And one woman is in the fight of her life to uncover who is really responsible a killer who is determined to start up the string of murders right where they stopped.

Equivocal Death by Amy Gutman - Just out of Harvard Law School, Kate Paine is on the fast track at Samson & Mills, the nation's most powerful law firm. Assigned to assist the managing partner, Kate can hardly believe her good luck. But with the brutal murder of Madeleine Waters, a beautiful female partner, Kate's world begins to collapse. A mysterious warning from the dead woman hours before her death leaves Kate terrified and confused - could she be the killer's next target? Delving far beneath the firm's smooth veneer, she discovers a legacy of abuse and betrayal that may hold the key to solving the murder, as well as to her own survival.

Sis Boom Bah by Jane Heller - What can make sisters stop talking to each other for years? If it's the Peltz sisters, just about anything can touch off an estrangement. In fact, the latest spat between Deborah, a soap opera writer in New York, and Sharon, a wedding planner in Boca Raton, has lasted two years. But when their mother has a heart attack, the sisters rally around her and promise to behave themselves. The only glitch in their peace pact is Mom's doctor. He's single, good-looking, wealthy... and coming on to BOTH sisters.

Jean Sheridan, a college dean and prominent historian, sets out to her hometown to attend the twenty-year reunion of Stonecroft Academy alumni, where she is to be honored along with six other members of her class. There is something uneasy in the air: one woman in the group about to be feted, Alison Kendall, a beautiful, high-powered Hollywood agent, drowned in her pool during an early-morning swim. Alison is the fifth woman in the class whose life has come to a sudden, mysterious end. Adding to Jean's sense of unease is a taunting, anonymous fax she received, referring to her daughter --- a child she had given up for adoption twenty years ago. At the award dinner, Jean is introduced to Sam Deegan, a detective obsessed by the unsolved murder of a young woman who may hold the key to the identity of the Stonecroft killer. Jean does not suspect that among the distinguished people she is greeting is The Owl, a murderer nearing the countdown on his mission of vengeance against the Stonecroft women who had mocked and humiliated him, with Jean as his final victim.

Cry No More by Linda Howard - It is a sentiment Milla Edge knows too well. With an astonishing blend of savvy, instinct, and passion, Milla displays an uncanny gift for finding lost children. When all seems helpless, desperate souls from across the country come to her for hope and results. Driven by an obsessive desire to fill the void in other people's lives, Milla throws herself into every case -- all the while trying to outrun the brutal emotions stemming from a horrific tragedy in her past. Traveling to a small village in Mexico on a reliable tip, Milla begins to uncover the dire fate of countless children who have disappeared over the years in the labyrinth of a sinister baby-smuggling ring. The key to nailing down the organization may rest with an elusive one-eyed man. To find him, Milla joins forces with James Diaz, a suspicious stranger known as the Tracker who conceals his own sinister agenda. As the search intensifies, the mission becomes more treacherous. For the ring is part of something far larger and more dangerous, reaching the highest echelons of power and influence. Caught between growing passion and imminent peril, Milla suddenly finds herself the hunted -- in the crosshairs of an invisible, lethal assassin who aims to silence her permanently. Intense emotion... potent suspense... pounding action. Author Linda Howard weaves these elements into page-turning fiction. CRY NO MORE is a seductive thriller of heartbreak and obsession that moves with a vengeance.

Dying To Please by Linda Howard - Loyal. Beautiful. Professional. Impeccably organized. Potentially lethal. Sarah Stevens is a woman with many distinct qualities. First and foremost a butler par excellence, skilled at running large households smoothly and efficiently, she is also a trained bodyguard and expert marksman -- indispensable to her elderly employer, a courtly gentleman whom Sarah has come to respect and love as a father. Then one night she thwarts a burglary in progress, a courageous act that rewards Sarah her requisite "fifteen minutes of fame" with the local press. But the exposure is enough to catch the attention of a tortured soul who, unbeknownst to Sarah, will stop at nothing to have her for himself. Sarah's perfectly ordered life is shattered when tragedy strikes: her beloved employer is brutally murdered. The charismatic detective investigating the case, assures Sarah that she is not a suspect. Until lightning strikes twice. There's a second killing -- and this time, despite a lack of evidence connecting her to the crime, Sarah cannot escape the shadow of guilt. The only option left for Sarah is to carry on with her life. But she doesn't realize that a deranged stalker is luring her into an elaborate trap... one in which she, once ensnared, might never escape. For Sarah soon finds herself at the mercy of a man who will tend to her every whim, smother her with affection, and crush her in his all-consuming embrace.

Cold Blooded by Lisa Jackson - A woman's slashed, incinerated corpse is found in a seedy New Orleans apartment. Her killer is certain there were no witnesses, unaware that his every move was seen by a beautiful stranger -- from her bed in a bayou cottage on the outskirts of town....Weeks later, another violent vision shatters Olivia Bechet's sleep. Convinced a serial killer is stalking the city, Olivia turns to the authorities. But jaded detective Rick Bentz doesn't believe her -- even when a second body turns up, slain in exactly the same bizarre, ritualistic manner Olivia described....As New Orleans panics in the icy grip of a merciless killer, Olivia is frustrated by Bentz's skepticism -- and captivated by her attraction to him. But soon her dreams are invaded by images of another murder. One that has yet to be committed. This time, Olivia recognizes not only the victim's face -- but the murderer's. And both are closer than she ever imagined....

Deadly Love by B.D. Joyce - Welcome to the world of Francesca Cahill, crime-solver extraordinaire. Francesca is no ordinary heroine. She refuses to bow to convention, wears her heart on her sleeve, and is determined to right the ills and injustices of society. DEADLY LOVE begins Francesca's mad escapades when the neighbors' little boy is kidnapped right out of his bed during a society ball.
It is January 18, 1902. Francesca stumbles across the ransom note just as she meets New York City's newly appointed police commissioner, Rick Bragg. And Francesca can no more stay out of this investigation than she can stop herself from falling in love with the city's determined and powerful police commissioner. But little does she know that on this singular night, her life with change forever. Step back in time to the lost, magical world of turn-of-the-century New York City -- where the glittering mansions of society's elite are only footsteps away from the impoverished back alleys of the city's underbelly -- and into the heart of true danger and even truer passion.

Scandalous Love by Brenda Joyce - Rebelliously independent Lady Nicole Bragg Shelton refuses to be constrained by the stifling rules of Victorian England. And now desire has impelled the beautiful heiress toward a shocking liason with Hadrian Braxton-Lowell, Duke of Clayborough. Bound by the dictates of honor and duty to another woman, Hadrian is shocked by Nicole's daring conduct, yet entranced by her fiery free spirit and breathtaking sensuality. Though resolved to making the raven-haired beauty his mistress, he will never agree to wed her. But Nicole is no man's plaything. And she is prepared to risk heartache in order to satisfy her wild, uncompromising passion... and win the dashing Duke's unwavering loyalty and undying love.

A Once And Future Love by Anne Kelleher - When Richard Lambert's beloved wife dies, he thinks he will never find love again. Until, while exploring a medieval tower, he falls from the steps -- and into another time....When he wakes, he's in the body of his ancestor, who is near death from battle. As his wife nurses him back to health, she finds he is not the cruel man she knew. And he discovers a second chance -- with his one and only love....

The Wishing Chalice by Sandra Landry - All Hunter wants is the love of his lady wife. All Isabel wants is to give him her love. There is only one problem: He thinks she is his wife. She knows she is not. Mourning the breakup of her marriage, Isabel retreats to the serene English countryside to find some measure of peace and healing. There she stumbles upon an ancient pewter chalice -- and is thrust centuries back in time into the body of another woman. Suddenly she is married to a total stranger -- a fierce warrior who looks at his "wife" with undeniable yearning in his eyes.... Hunter had finally achieved his long-desired goal when the king gifted him with Windermere Castle -- and the hand of its beautiful lady, Doña. But his dream tasted like ashes, for although he was now her lord and husband, Doña despised him and vowed never to love him. But suddenly, Doña seems to have undergone a swift and bewildering change. She claims to have no memory of him, of the circumstances of their marriage and her hatred for him, and forgets even her own name. Now, Hunter has a second chance -- to woo his lady wife with kisses, and seduce her with pleasure until nothing or no one can keep him from his heart's desire -- no one, perhaps, but Isabel....

Killer Blonde by Laura Levine - A gal with a serious Ben & Jerry's habit and credits that include a tome entitled "I Was Henry Kissinger's Sex Slave" can't afford to be too picky about employment. So when a Beverly Hills socialite offers Jaine Austen megabucks to ghostwrite a book of hostess tips, it's time sharpen the #2s. So what if Jaine has to take dictation from a rail-thin lady of leisure in a bubble bath sporting man-made breasts that qualify as flotation devices? Pride doesn't feed the cat. A dubious job benefit is an up-close and personal view of the amorous exploits of Hollywood's ladies-who-lunch. But everything short circuits when Jaine finds her employer floating face down in her tub, fried by her own blow dryer.

Last Writes by Laura Levine - Wisecracking pen-for-hire Jaine Austen is back --- and she's about to discover that working on the set of a Hollywood sitcom is no laughing matter....Jaine still hasn't found a good man --- or a way to keep all those sugary snacks from going straight to her hips. But --- with a little help from her best friend Kandi --- she's finally landed a gig as a sitcom writer! True, Muffy 'n Me isn't going to win any Emmys. And her seedy office at Miracle Studios needs a little sprucing up, and a few dozen rat traps. But it sure beats writing boring brochures and run-of-the-mill resumes, so Jaine's not complaining. Until the plot thickens --- with murder...The trouble starts when Muffy 'n Me's hottest star, gorgeous Quinn Kirkland, is caught in bed with the barely legal actress who plays Muffy. Before long, Quinn's many jealous girlfriends start coming out of the woodwork, all bent on revenge...So when the no-good heartthrob drops dead after nibbling a poisoned doughnut, Jaine isn't terribly surprised. But who could have done it? A competitive co-star and a couple of scorned lovers top Jaine's list of suspects, but the police have zeroed in on her man-crazy pal Kandi. She fell hard for Quinn --- and nearly fell apart when she learned of all his other women. Now Jaine has to figure out who finally stopped Quinn's cheatin' heart --- before her best friend ends up behind bars...

This Pen For Hire by Laura Levine - Steamy personals ads. Daring declarations of love. Writer for hire Jaine Austen has penned them all --- and, in the process, glimpsed the truly desperate side of L.A.'s swinging singles scene. But when one of the love connections she made is broken up by murder, Jaine finds herself freelancing free of charge --- and uncovering more than she bargained for.
No one seems to need her help more than geeky, gawky Howard Murdoch. His request, though strangely stalker-ish, is simple enough: a letter proclaiming his undying love for Stacy Lawrence, a gorgeous aerobics instructor. The fact that he's never actually met the woman gives Jaine pause --- but she soons overcomes her misgivings, warms up her computer, and starts pitching woo on Howard's behalf. To Jaine's surprise, the letter is a success --- the unlikely Romeo lands a date! But his triumph is, sadly, short-lived. On Valentine's Day, Howard finds Stacy bludgeoned to death with a Thigh Master --- and is quickly named the prime suspect. Upon hearing the news, Jaine is shocked. Sure, Howard's awkward, eccentric, and a tiny bit odd. But a murderer? That's hard to believe. Especially after a little sleuthing turns up a whole bunch of people who harbored less than loving feelings toward the svelte Stacy. Like the woman who coveted her spacious apartment. The jealous wife who saw her husband's eye wander in Stacy's direction. The ex-best friend, who's still angry at Stacy for stealing her man...Things only get crazier when Jaine meets Stacy's handsome neighbor Cameron, whose blue eyes and boyish grin turn her knees to Jello. But Jaine doesn't have time for romance. She's got a murder to solve. After all, it's her fault that Howard's in jail. If she hadn't written that letter, the only cops on Howard's case would be the fashion police. Before Jaine knows it, she's become a nosier --- and bolder --- version of her usual self, flashing her Bloomies charge card in lieu of a press pass and lying her pants off in her quest for the truth. But Jaine had better wrangle her clues quickly, before a crafty killer catches on --- and puts a whole new spin on her ghost writing career...

Heavenly Detour by Joanne Meyer - A funny thing happened to real estate agent Annie Edelstein Dowd on the way to finally making it with a gorgeous guy. She died.... But wait -- it gets even better. Now, I'm back. As a ghost, no less, with no how-to manual for contacting the living. The worst part? (Besides my unfortunate drowning during the Sands Point party of the year, and just before I was about to... oh, never mind.) I have no way to do a little post-life kibbitizing with my ex-husband, Frank, he of the goyim name (my mother got over it), the twinkling blue eyes (I never got over him), and the insatiable curiosity (did I mention he's an investigative reporter?). Why does this airy-fairy, ooh-darling-I'm-speaking-to-you-now-from-the-great-beyond-so-could-you-lose-the-ruggelech-for-a-minute-and-listen-already stuff always work in the movies, anyway? The whole thing is so confusing that frankly, if I were alive, I'd go out and get drunk. In my case, that's not a viable option. "EVEN IN DEATH, YOU NEED A WOMAN TO INTERPRET FOR YOU...." The only person who is getting the message is Charlene, the cop assigned to figure out who could have pushed me into a pool and why. (I was murdered? Who knew?) So now I've got my hands full trying to remember what happened while keeping my family and friends from going off the deep end, so to speak. Plus, I've got to help Frank and Charlene find my killer -- but this ghost gig isn't as easy as it looks. And the kicker is, now that I'm dead, I just realized I'm still in madly, wildly in love with my ex -- and he's still carrying a torch for me. That's afterlife for you. "WHEN THEY SAY A WOMAN's WORK IS NEVER DONE... THEY AREN'T KIDDING." Suddenly, things are making as much sense as a bagel with cream cheese and ham. Somewhere out there, probably in Queens, is a murderer and all I want is to cozy up to Frank and run a replay of everything we never had. It's crazy. It's kooky. It's a little creepy. But hey, where there's a will, there's a way... and any woman who's managed to hold on to a rent-controlled, pre-war, one-bedroom can handle just about anything. Or die trying. Well, you know what I mean. In this wickedly winning, delightfully sophisticated debut novel, Joanne Meyer delivers a screwball comedy about love, hope, and the importance of being buried in real silk... where death is only the beginning of the year's funniest story.

The Paid Companion by Amanda Quick - The Earl of St. Merryn needs a woman. His intentions are purely practical -- he simply wants someone sensible and suitably lovely to pose as his betrothed for a few weeks among polite society. He has his own agenda to pursue, and a false fiancée will keep the husband-hunters at bay while he goes about his business. The simplest solution is to hire a paid companion. Finding the right candidate proves more of a challenge than he expected. But when he encounters Miss Elenora Lodge, the fire in her golden eyes sways him to make a generous offer. Her sorry financial circumstances -- and dreams of a life of independence -- convince her to accept. But St. Merryn appears to be hiding a secret or two, and things seem oddly amiss in his gloomy London home. Elenora soon discovers that this lark will be a far more dangerous adventure than she'd been led to believe. And the Earl of St. Merryn will find that the meek and mild companion he'd initially envisioned has become a partner in his quest to catch a killer -- and an outspoken belle of the ball who stirs a bothersome passion in his practical heart.

White Heather by Jaclyn Reding - Near the Isle of Skye in the western Highlands, Catriona MacBryan slipped through a secret door into Castle Rosmorigh. But the spirited Scottish beauty never imagined the truth -- that she was not Catriona MacBryan after all, but a titled lady robbed of her birthright by an enemy who still endangered her life....Once, Robert, Lord Devonbrook, had been a dashing second son, a man without a worry. Then a terrible fire destroyed his art collection worth a fabulous fortune. The only thing left was his title and Rosmorigh. Then he discovered a young woman trespassing in his home....

On The Bright Side, I'm Now The Girlfriend Of A Sex God by Louise Rennison - Fourteen-year-old Bristish schoolgirl Georgia Nicolson is now dating the Sex God --- also known as Robbie --- and things couldn't be any more fab. When they snog, life is marvy and gorgey and all that stuff. But then Georgia gets dumped because she's too young. Robbie admits she's a great kid, but thinks she might be more interested in his mate Dave, who is "a good laugh." To lure the Sex God back, Georgia decides to give Dave a go. She hopes that when Robbie sees her with another bloke, he'll go mad jealous and come running back to her.

Enchanted by Nora Roberts - Lovely, guileless Rowan Murray felt drawn to brooding Liam Donovan with a power she'd never imagined possible. And his breathtaking kisses convinced her he felt the same. But she soon realized her darkly enigmatic neighbor was as elusive as the mysterious wolf she'd seen lurking about her cabin. Liam was tormented by indecision. He understood he had no right to love Rowan, knowing what lay ahead. But the allure of her beguiling innocence overpowered his will until he could resist no longer. And he knew, if he was ever to make Rowan his, he had no choice but to reveal his incredible secret.

The Bad Beginning: A Series Of Unfortunate Events, Book #1 by Lemony Snicket - Dear Reader, I'm sorry to say that the book you are holding in your hands is extremely unpleasant. It tells an unhappy tale about three very unlucky children. Even though they are charming and clever, the Baudelaire siblings lead lives filled with misery and woe. From the very first page of this book when the children are at the beach and receive terrible news, continuing on through the entire story, disaster lurks at their heels. One might say they are magnets for misfortune. In this short book alone, the three youngsters encounter a greedy and repulsive villain, itchy clothing, a disastrous fire, a plot to steal their fortune, and cold porridge for breakfast. It is my sad duty to write down these unpleasant tales, but there is nothing stopping you from putting this book down at once and reading something happy, if you prefer that sort of thing. With all due respect, Lemony Snicket

Sunset In St. Tropez by Danielle Steel - The story of three couples, lifelong friends, for whom a month's holiday in St. Tropez becomes a summer of change, revelation, secrets, surprises, and new beginnings.... As Diana Morrison laid the table for six at her elegant Central Park apartment, there was no warning of what was to come. Spending New Year's Eve together was a sacred tradition for Diana, her husband of thirty-two years, Eric, and their best friends, Pascale and John Donnally and Anne and Robert Smith. The future looked rosy as the long-time friends sipped champagne and talked of renting a villa together in the South of France the following summer. But life had other plans....Just two weeks after New Year's, tragedy strikes the heart of their close circle, as Robert Smith suffers a sudden, unexpected loss. Without hesitation, Diana and Eric, Pascale and John rally to his side, united in their support, love, and shared grief. Convinced that a change of scenery is just what Robert needs, they urge him to join them on the Riviera in August. But as they soon discover, the ramshackle old mansion they rented in St. Tropez -- sight unseen -- is far different from the exquisite villa and sun-drenched gardens touted in the brochure. Cobwebs hang from the ceiling. Beds collapse beneath them. All while a would-be housekeeper in a leopard-skin bikini and six-inch heels sashays through the house with a trio of yapping poodles at her heels. But the biggest surprise of all is the woman Robert invites to the villa as his guest -- a lovely, much-younger film actress with mile-long legs and a million-dollar smile. Diana and Pascale hate her on sight. But the men are dazzled. And amid the crumbling furniture and the glorious sunsets, the strained relationships and the acts of forgiveness, more surprises are in store for the villa's occupants. With the last days of summer fast approaching, each couple finds themselves changing in unexpected ways, as old wounds are healed, new love discovered, and miracles unfold... all beneath the dazzling sun of St. Tropez.
By turns wise and moving, heartbreaking and wickedly funny, Danielle Steel's new novel is about forgiving without forgetting, about the sorrow that shadows our lives and the hope that saves us. And it is about once-in-a-lifetime friendships... the kind that heal, sustain, and change us forever.

Now You See Me by Tina Wainscott - Olivia was eight years old when she was trapped in the twisted fantasies of a kidnapper. Escaping with her life, the trauma left her blind, and her innocence shattered. But Olivia would escape with something else -- a psychic gift that has become her greatest weapon....
Sixteen years to the day, it's happened again. A little girl named Phaedra has disappeared. Olivia saw it happen. In her private darkness came the visions: the toys... the chloroform... the scissors... the cage.... Olivia shares the stark fear in the young girl's eyes, and the terrifying fate only Olivia can stop. But to find the fiendish killer and save Phaedra means returning to the terrors of her own past -- and opening her eyes to an inescapable new nightmare.

The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger - A delightfully dishy novel about the all-time most impossible boss in the history of impossible bosses. Andrea Sachs, a small-town girl fresh out of college, lands the job a million girls would die for. Hired as the assistant to Miranda Priestly, the high-profile, fabulously successful editor of Runway magazine, Andrea finds herself in an office that shouts Prada! Armani! Versace! at every turn, a world populated by impossibly thin, heart-wrenchingly stylish women and beautiful men clad in fine-ribbed turtlenecks and tight leather pants that show off their lifelong dedication to the gym. With breathtaking ease, Miranda can turn each and every one of these hip sophisticates into a scared, whimpering child. THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA gives a rich and hilarious new meaning to complaints about The Boss from Hell. Narrated in Andrea's smart, refreshingly disarming voice, it traces a deep, dark, devilish view of life at the top only hinted at in gossip columns and over Cosmopolitans at the trendiest cocktail parties. From sending the latest, not-yet-in-stores Harry Potter to Miranda's children in Paris by private jet, to locating an unnamed antique store where Miranda had at some point admired a vintage dresser, to serving lattes to Miranda at precisely the piping hot temperature she prefers, Andrea is sorely tested each and every day and often late into the night with orders barked over the phone. She puts up with it all by keeping her eyes on the prize: a recommendation from Miranda that will get Andrea a top job at any magazine of her choosing. As things escalate from the merely unacceptable to the downright outrageous, however, Andrea begins to realize that the job a million girls would die for may just kill her. And even if she survives, she has to decide whether or not the job is worth the price of her soul.

'Til Death Do Us Part by Kate White - True crime writer and sometime sleuth Bailey Weggins took the media and mystery worlds by storm in Kate White's sexy and suspenseful debut novel, IF LOOKS COULD KILL. In Bailey's latest outing, she takes the plunge into a world of designer wedding dresses, domestic divas, and deadly nuptial doings...When she gets a call from Ashley Hanes on a frigid January night, Bailey's ready to tell her she's not pulling any of her Gloss magazine strings to get Ashley into a designer sample sale. But the Connecticut trust fund baby isn't looking for fashion favors; she wants to rehash the Cross / Slavin wedding. It turns out that Peyton Cross --_ the Vera Wang-attired bride and Martha Stewart wannabe --- is once again the talk of the town. Two of her bridesmaids have recently died in freak accidents and Ashley's terrifed she'll be next. Bailey's interest is definitely piqued --- she was a college roommate of Peyton's and a bridesmaid as well. Leaving her latest boyfriend behind in Manhattan, Bailey bundles up for the cold, scenic drive to Ivy Hill Farm in Greenwich, Connecticut, home of Peyton's burgeoning catering and gourmet food business. She's barely begun asking questions when Ashley becomes Bridesmaid Casualty #3. After Bailey is attacked by an assailant in a cashmere coat, she realizes she's been targeted by a well-heeled killer who knows how to dress for the weather --- which narrows the list of suspects to most of the population of Greenwich, including Peyton's employees and intimate friends. Before she knows it, Bailey is following a dangerous trail of clues that will take her from the elegant suburbs of Connecticut to New York's trendy Lower East Side to a fabulous oceanfront hotel room in Miami. With the clock ticking and a well-concealed murderer vowing to get her out of the picture, Bailey could become the headline of the next true crime story: Four Funerals And A Wedding.

2004 in Review

Happy New Year! In looking back, I've decided to review my year of reading and share what I loved and what I didn't. Here we go...

In 2004, I read 110 books. Quite an increase from 2003 where I only read 89 books. I feel really proud of that but still wonder where the time went and how come my to be read pile is still monstrous.

The best books I read in 2004 are:

P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern - This book deals with one woman's journey through losing her husband to cancer. After his death, a box of letters is delivered. She is to read one a month and do what they instruct. The book made me laugh and cry.

Love With The Proper Husband by Victoria Alexander - Historical romance about a group of women who are distressed over the disinterest in matrimony by their children and decide to take matters into their own hands by marrying off their offspring. Their first challenge is the Earl of Pennington. I really enjoy this author's work. The heroine is keeping a secret from her betrothed and I enjoyed the way it all played out.

All-American Girl by Meg Cabot - This is a young adult romance about a girl who inadvertently saves the President of the United States from an assassination attempt. She is appointed teen ambassador to the UN and has caught the eye of the First Son. I really enjoyed the humor and angst of the lead character, Samantha Madison. She doesn't think she did anything heroic and would much rather draw.

Boy Meets Girl by Meg Cabot - This is the sequel to The Boy Next Door. This book is written in memo and email format which I found entertaining. It's about a woman who works for the worst boss at the NY Journal. After she is forced to fire an employee, she finds herself being sued and has to give a deposition to a lawyer with a killer bod. The story was sharp, witty and full of humorous dialogue that this author does so well.

The Last Arrow by Marsha Canham - Historical romance about the daughter of the legendary Black Wolf who catches a mysterious knight trespassing on her family's lands. When she discovers he isn't just any ordinary mercenary, she fears he may have been hired to kill her brother, Robin. This book is part of Canham's Robin Hood series. I also recommend the first two books in this series, Through A Dark Mist and In The Shadow Of Midnight.

Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie - Contemporary romance about what happens when a relationship is started on a bet. This book was a lot of fun and I laughed quite a bit throughout the story.

Undead And Unwed by Mary Janice Davidson - Contemporary romance about the pitfalls of life and how it doesn't end when you die. The heroine Betsy Taylor is having a bad week including being laid off and being at war with her stepmother. As if that weren't bad enough, she dies. Worse, she doesn't stay dead. She's one of the undead and rises each night in search of sustenance and designer footwear. This book was a riot. I laughed throughout the story.

Wild Highland Rose by Dee Davis - Time travel romance. The heroine, Marjory MacPherson is happy for the first time since her parents were brutally murdered at the hands of the rival Cameron clan. But now, the man she was forced to marry, the son of her enemy has died in a rockslide and Marjory rejoices. When she goes to retrieve his body, she finds instead a living breathing man talking strangely and covered in blood. Though he wears her husband's face and kilt, he claims to be from the future and isn't at all like her husband. He's kinder and gentler. This was a beautifully written tale of second chances and redemption.

Ten Big Ones by Janet Evanovich - This is book #10 in the Stephanie Plum series. It begins as an innocent trip to the deli-mart, on a quest for nachos. But Stephanie Plum and her partner, Lula, are clearly in the wrong place at the wrong time. A robbery leads to an explosion, which leads to the destruction of yet another car. It would be just another day in the life of Stephanie Plum, except that she becomes the target of a gang---and of an even scarier, more dangerous force that comes to Trenton. With super bounty hunter Ranger acting more mysteriously than ever (and the tension with vice cop Joe Morelli getting hotter), she finds herself with a decision to make: how to protect herself and where to hide while on the hunt for a killer known as the Junkman. There's only one safe place, and it has Ranger's name all over it---if she can find it. And if the Junkman doesn't find her first. With Lula riding shotgun and Grandma Mazur on the loose, Stephanie Plum is racing against the clock in her most suspenseful novel yet. Loved this and can't wait for #11.

Dead To The World by Charlaine Harris - This is the fourth book in Harris' Southern Vampire Mystery series where vampires and witches and shapeshifters walk among us out in the open. Sookie Stackhouse is a small-town cocktail waitress in small-town Louisiana. She's pretty. She does her job well. She keeps to herself and has only a few close friends because not everyone appreciates Sookie's gift. She can read minds. Not exactly every man's idea of date bait. Unless they're undead. Vampires and the like can be tough to read---just the kind of guy Sookie's been looking for. Maybe that's why, when she comes across a naked vampire on the road home from work, she doesn't just drive on by. Turns out he hasn't a clue as to who he is, but Sookie does. It's Eric, still as scary and sexy---and dead---as the day she first met him. But now that he has amnesia, Eric is sweet, vulnerable, and in need of Sookie's help---because whoever took his memory now wants his life. Sookie's investigation into why leads straight into a dangerous battle among witches, vampires, and werewolves. But there could be a greater danger to Sookie's heart---because the kinder, gentler Eric is very difficult to resist....I have enjoyed the whole series and recommend the other books in the series, Dead Until Dark, Living Dead In Dallas, and Club Dead.

Kiss Me While I Sleep by Linda Howard - Suspense novel and probably one of her best since Mr. Perfect. It's about a woman named Lily who is an assassin working as a contract agent for the CIA. When she makes an unsanctioned hit out of vengeance, the agency sends in a field officer to bring her in or take her down. This story was full of intrigue, suspense and high octane action with an explosive twist near the end that shocked me. Loved it and look forward to reading more by Linda Howard.

Dance With The Devil by Sherrilyn Kenyon - This is book #4 of the Dark-Hunter series and is about Zarek who has a huge chip on his shoulder and a bad attitude to go with it. He has been exiled to Alaska for 900 years and being alone for that long can make anyone cranky. The Gods send Astrid in to judge Zarek to determine if he should be allowed to live. Awesome story. Zarek is a tortured soul both when he was mortal and now as an immortal. Astrid carries the power to heal him if he will let her. I've read three Dark-Hunter books this year and loved them all. I also recommend the first three in the series, Fantasy Lover, Night Pleasures and Night Embrace.

Kiss Of The Night by Sherrilyn Kenyon - Book #5 of the Dark-Hunter series. This one features Wulf Tryggvasen, an immortal Viking warrior who has to protect the last Apollite, Cassandra from the Daimons. With her death, so does all life. The only problem is that Cassandra is part of a race that Wulf has hunted for centuries. Not as good as Dance With The Devil, but highly recommend it.

Night Play by Sherrilyn Kenyon - Book #6 of the Dark-Hunter series. This one is probably my favorite so far. It features Vane Kattalakis and Bride McTierney. Bride McTierney has had it with men. They're cheap, self-centered, and never love her for who she is. But though she prides herself on being independent, deep down she still yearns for a knight in shining armor. She just never expected her knight in shining armor to have a shiny coat of fur....Deadly and tortured, Vane Kattalakis isn't what he seems. Most women lament that their boyfriends are dogs. In Bride's case, hers is a wolf. A Were-Hunter wolf. Wanted dead by his enemies, Vane isn't looking for a mate. But the Fates have marked Bride as his. Now he has three weeks to either convince Bride that the supernatural is real or he will spend the rest of his life neutered -- something no self-respecting wolf can accept....But how does a wolf convince a human to trust him with her life when his enemies are out to end his? In the world of the Were-Hunters, it really is dog-eat-dog. And only one alpha male can win. A true Beauty and the Beast theme and I loved it. I'm hoping that Vane's brothers will get their own story too.

Can You Keep A Secret? by Sophie Kinsella - I really loved this one. A hilarious new novel and an unforgettable new character. Meet Emma Corrigan, a young woman with a huge heart, an irrepressible spirit, and a few little secrets:
SECRETS FROM HER MOTHER: * I lost my virginity in the spare bedroom with Danny Nussbaum while Mum and Dad were downstairs watching "Ben-Hur." * Sammy the goldfish in my parents' kitchen is not the same goldfish that Mum gave me to look after when she and Dad were in Egypt.
SECRETS FROM HER BOYFRIEND: * I weigh one hundred and twenty-eight pounds. Not one eighteen, like Connor thinks. * I've always thought Connor looks a bit like Ken. As in Barbie and Ken.
FROM HER COLLEAGUES: * When Artemis really annoys me, I feed her plant orange juice. (Which is pretty much every day.) * It was me who jammed the copier that time. In fact, all the times.
SECRETS SHE WOULDN'T SHARE WITH ANYONE IN THE WORLD: * My G-string is hurting me. * I have no idea what NATO stands for. Or even what it is.
Until she spills them all to a handsome stranger on a plane. At least, she thought he was a stranger.
But come Monday morning, Emma's office is abuzz about the arrival of Jack Harper, the company's elusive CEO. Suddenly Emma is face-to-face with the stranger from the plane, a man who knows every single humiliating detail about her. Things couldn't possibly get worse -- Until they do.

Shopaholic And Sister by Sophie Kinsella - Book #4 in the shopaholic series. Newly married Becky Bloomwood Brandon is back from her honeymoon and trying to figure out how to tell Luke about all of the stuff she has bought when she finds out from her parents that she has a sister that she never knew about. Sounds great doesn't it? Finally, Becky has a sister! Someone to share everything with; like shopping. Until she meets her and finds out that Jess hates shopping and just about everything else Becky loves. I recommend the entire series, Confessions Of A Shopaholic, Shopaholic Takes Manhattan, and Shopaholic Ties The Knot.

Again The Magic by Lisa Kleypas - Historical romance with a reunited and revenge theme. Lady Aline Marsden was brought up for one reason: to make an advantageous marriage to a member of her own class. Instead, she willingly gave her innocence to John McKenna, a servant on her father's estate. Their passionate transgression was unforgivable -- John was sent away, and Aline was left to live in the countryside... an exile from London society....Now McKenna has made his fortune, and he has returned -- more boldly handsome and more mesmerizing than before. His ruthless plan is to take revenge on the woman who shattered his dreams of love. But the magic between them burns as bright as ever. And now he must decide whether to let vengeance take its toll... or risk everything for his first, and only, love.

Armageddon by Tim LaHaye - The 11th book in the Left Behind series. I enjoyed the whole series but was a little disappointed with the last book only because the series built up such a huge anticipation that it seemed to fall a little flat with the ending, which seemed rushed. I still recommend the entire series, however.

3rd Degree by James Patterson - 3rd book in the Women's Murder Club series. Detective Lindsay Boxer is jogging along a beautiful San Francisco street when a fiery explosion rips through the neighborhood. A town house owned by an Internet millionaire is immediately engulfed in flames, and when Lindsay plunges inside to search for survivors, she finds three people dead. An infant who lived in the house cannot be found --- and a mysterious messge at the scene leaves Lindsay and the San Francisco Police Department completely baffled. Then a prominent businessman is found murdered under bizarre circumstances, with another mysterious message left behind by the killer. Lindsay asks her friends Claire Washburn of the medical examiner's office, Assistant D.A. Jill Bernhardt, and Chronicle reporter Cindy Thomas to help her figure out who is committing these murders --- and why they are intent on killing someone every three days. Even more terrifying, the killer has targeted one of the four friends who call themselves the Women's Murder Club. Great story though I was saddened that one of the members of the Women's Murder Club is killed off. I hope Patterson continues this series.

Ain't She Sweet by Susan Elizabeth Phillips - Contemporary romance about a woman who returns home after many years away to confront the sins of her past and find forgiveness from the people she wronged and from herself. The girl everybody loves to hate has returned to the town she'd sworn to leave behind forever. As the rich, spoiled princess of Parrish, Mississippi, Sugar Beth Carey had broken hearts, ruined friendships, and destroyed reputations. But fifteen years have passed, and life has taught Sugar Beth its toughest lessons. Now she's come home -- broke, desperate, and too proud to show it. The people of Parrish don't believe in forgive and forget. When the Seawillows, Sugar Beth's former girlfriends, get the chance to turn the tables on her, they don't hesitate. And Winnie Davis, Sugar Beth's most bitter enemy, intends to humiliate her in the worst possible way. Then there's Colin Byrne.... Fifteen years earlier, Sugar Beth had tried to ruin his career. Now he's rich, powerful, and the owner of her old home. Even worse, this modern-day dark prince is planning exactly the sort of revenge best designed to bring a beautiful princess to her knees. But none of them have reckoned on the unexpected strength of a woman who's learned survival the hard way. While Sugar Beth's battered heart struggles to overcome old mistakes, Colin must choose between payback and love. Does the baddest girl in town deserve a second chance, or are some things beyond forgiving? AIN'T SHE SWEET? is a story of courage and redemption... of friendship and laughter... of love and the possibility of happily-ever-after.

The worst books I read in 2004 are:

Impulse by Catherine Coulter - When wealthy, beautiful Rafaella Holland puts her dazzling newspaper career on hold to care for her ailing mother, she learns of a long-held family secret: the true identity of her REAL father, whom she never knew. Wanting to exact revenge upon this notorious, world-famous man who had wronged her mother, Rafaella is determined to find him and face him. Her search takes her to an exclusive Caribbean island, a carefully protected sanctuary for the rich and powerful. There she meets Marcus Devlin, a handsome Irish daredevil who appears to have a secret agenda of his own. As they grow closer, they are drawn into a seductive world that threatens to spin wildly out of control -- imperiling not only their love, but also their very lives. I found the story to be dull and couldn't hold my interest.

Call Waiting by Michelle Cunnah - Emma Taylor knows the phone rules, but now Emma feels like she's been put "on hold." So, what's a girl to do? Make a list of course...If he's going to call, he'll do it by Tuesday to ask you about Saturday...If it works out on Saturday, he'll want to see you Wednesday...And after over eight months of dating bliss, he should at least ask you to move in with him...
1. Do not call lovely, lovely friends to whine incessantly about Claire Palmer, Jack's gorgeous, full-breasted boss. Must develop stiff upper lip.
2. Do something worthwhile and humanitarian to earn rest of inheritance from women's rights pioneering auntie. First part of inheritance: 9 1/2 long strong inches of fence post to which Auntie Alice chained herself ... I know! Join HUSSI - Hoboken United Sisters Suffragette Institution. Perfection!
3. Do impress Jack with worthy, meaningful acts. Don't let on you've seen emerald ring in his top drawer. Do tempt him with new confident, sexy image. He will immediately fall on one knee and propose --- won't he? I had high hopes for this one but it fell flat for me.

The Big Love by Sarah Dunn - Alison Hopkins is firmly, undoubtedly, and undeniably in love. She and Tom live together, they send wedding gifts as a unit, and, most important, they're happy together -- until the evening Tom goes out in the middle of a dinner party to buy some mustard and doesn't come back. He calls Alison to say that he has fallen back in love with his ex-girlfriend Kate, the kind of woman about whom men say rhapsodically, "She's like a drug." How can Alison compete with that? She had always feared that Tom's looks would land her in trouble -- having a handsome boyfriend is like owning a white couch, an invitation to disaster. But if Tom isn't Alison's Big Love, who is? Alison is tempted to take her humiliation and whip it into 700 words for the weekly column she writes about relationships for the local paper. Instead, she decides to treat her newfound freedom as a gift -- a shimmering portal to a whole new life, a whole new her. She risks a fling with her boss and makes the delightful discovery that "movie sex" -- like that scene in "Fatal Attraction," with the water running and the dishes in the sink -- isn't a cinematic fiction. But that is just the beginning of Alison's quest for The Big Love. Applying her restless intelligence to all the questions of the heart in the modern age -- Is love, in fact, enough? Does an undefined-yet-presumably-meaningless amorous encounter always turn out to be a mistake? What on earth do you tell your mother? -- Alison plumbs the depths and takes sight on the heights that love can lead to. Another one with high hopes that fell flat.

Olivia Joules And The Overactive Imagination by Helen Fielding - Move over 007, a stunning, sexy -- and decidedly female -- new player has entered the world of international espionage. Her name is Olivia Joules (that's "J.O.U.L.E.S. the unit of kinetic energy") and she's ready to take America by storm with charm, style, and her infamous Overactive Imagination. How could a girl not be drawn to the alluring, powerful Pierre Ferramo -- he of the hooded eyes, impeccable taste, unimaginable wealth, exotic international homes, and dubious French accent? Could Ferramo really be a major terrorist bent on the Western world's destruction, hiding behind a smokescreen of fine wines, yachts, and actresses slash models? Or is it all just a product of Olivia Joules's overactive imagination? Join Olivia in her heart-stopping, hilarious, nerve-frazzling quest from hip hotel to eco-lodge to underwater cave, by light aircraft, speedboat, helicopter, and horse, in this witty, contemporary, and utterly unputdownable novel deluxe. I kept comparing this character to Bridget Jones and it just didn't work for me.

Lost by Joy Fielding - It's almost five o'clock. Where the hell are you?
Losing Julia has become a constant in Cindy Carver's life. The first time Julia disappeared, she was five years old and vanished at the playground. That inspired motherly paranoia. The second was when, at age fourteen, Julia decided to move in with her father. That broke Cindy's heart. But when twenty-one-year-old Julia disappears without a trace after a promising audition with one of Hollywood's most powerful and influential directors, Cindy begins a frantic search. Secrets are revealed, lives are forever altered, and Cindy is forced to acknowledge the disturbing truth about the young woman she realizes she never really knew. Sexy, suspenseful, and utterly un-put-downable, Lost takes readers into the heart of a woman overwhelmed by her determination to find the daughter she's lost, and, if at all possible, to reclaim the respect she once had for herself. Every stranger was a possible fiend; every friend a possible foe. How well do we know anybody? How well do we know ourselves? Couldn't hold my interest.

The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler - Six Californians join to discuss Jane Austen's novels. Over the six months they meet, marriages are tested, affairs begin, unsuitable arrangements become suitable, and love happens. With her finely sighted eye for the frailties of human behavior and her finely tuned ear for the absurdities of social intercourse, Fowler has never been wittier nor her characters more appealing. The result is a delicious dissection of modern relationships. I had trouble staying focused on the story. It kept jumping from the past to the present too sporadically.

Dumping Billy by Olivia Goldsmith - A modern-day battle of the sexes -- dished up with scathing wit, hilarity, and plenty of attitude.
There's something magical about Billy Nolan. It's not just that the Brooklyn bar owner is wickedly handsome; it's also that any woman he dates and dumps -- and he dumps them all -- immediately goes on to marry the next person she meets. But Kate Jameson is immune to Billy's charms. She left Brooklyn for upward-mobility in Manhattan at the first chance she got, and she's not about to fall for some cad from the old neighborhood. But when her best friend Bina's engagement is broken off, Kate hatches a plan: All she has to do is get Billy to date and dump Bina. Then, they'll wait for Bina's wayward fiancé to return and for the magic to happen. But the one thing Kate hasn't counted on is how Billy feels about the whole plot -- and how she begins to feel about Billy. She may have changed her style, but her roots are showing. Couldn't hold my interest.

A Kiss Of Shadows by Laurell K. Hamilton - My name is Meredith Gentry, but of course it's not my real name. I dare not even whisper my true name after dark for fear that one hushed word will travel over the night winds to the soft ear of my aunt, the Queen of Air and Darkness. She wants me dead. I don't even know why...I fled the high court of Faerie three years ago and have been in hiding ever since. As Merry Gentry, I am a private investigator for the Grey Detective Agency: Supernatural Problems, Magical Solutions. My magical skills, scorned at the courts of Faerie, are valued in the human world. Even by human standards, my magic isn't flashy, which is fine by me. Flashy attracts attention and I can't afford that. Rumour has it that I am dead. Not quite. I am Princess Meredith NicEssus. To speak that name after dark is to call down a knock upon your door from a hand that can kill you with a touch. I have been careful, but not careful enough. The shadows have found me, and they are going to take me back home, one way or another. So the running is over. But the fighting has just begun... Another one that couldn't hold my interest.

Truly, Madly Viking by Sandra Hill - Jorund Ericcson is a tenth-century Viking warrior who lands in a modern mental hospital.
Maggie McBride is the lucky psychologist who gets to "treat" the gorgeous Norseman, whom she mistakenly calls Joe. Usually, I love Sandra Hill's books, but this one fell flat for me.

No Way Out by Andrea Kane - With a child's life at stake, a woman's deepest fears and desires careen toward an explosive climax where there is no time to hesitate, no going back, and NO WAY OUT!
Something is wrong with teacher Julia Talbot's favorite second-grader, the mayor's son Brian. Seeing the outgoing little boy become increasingly anxious and withdrawn, she suspects problems at home, inside the mansion of a high-profile political family. But even Julia doesn't know the real truth. Venture capitalist Connor Stratford, the boy's powerful uncle, does. Intrigued by Julia, Connor plans a campaign of seduction designed to keep her from snooping - and to get her into his bed. Yet Julia has already learned too much. As danger bears down on her like a runaway freight train, Brian vanishes, and a desperate hunt to find him draws Julia deeper into a family's secrets and an irresistible passion -- and closer to a place where a child's future, and her own fate, hang in the balance. Another one that couldn't hold my interest.

Barely Behaving by Jennifer LaBrecque - The moment veterinarian Niall Fortson spies Tammy Cooper sunbathing in the nude, he knows his new neighbor is naughty -- and a knockout! With a bad reputation and a bad attitude, Tammy has TROUBLE written all over her. And though Niall isn't looking for a scandal, he can't resist her. Luckily Tammy has a solution to cure them of their mutual case of lust -- a two-week secret affair. Tammy soon realizes the boy next door is almost more man than she can handle. And she's enjoying handling him -- a little too much. After all, someone with her track record is all wrong for a guy dreaming of white picket fences. Still, Niall's determined to be more to Tammy than just a boy toy. And with the way he makes her feel, Tammy's inclined to let him convince her....did nothing for me.

Notes On The Windowsill by Jennifer L.B. Leese - Jordan Raven has experienced ghostly encounters since the age of four. When a white pick-up truck causes the early and tragic death of her soon-to-be fiance, Martin, on the evening of their soon-to-be engagement, Jorie watches in horror from the window of their favorite restaurant. Just as she starts to get her life together, it spirals out of control and takes a turn for the worse when she learns that her mother is dying of brain cancer. She wonders how she can go on....Day after day ghostly sightings of her fiance, pacing footsteps in the hall, and voices, grow more intense and more frequent. Can Martin comfort his true love from the afterlife? Will Jorie accept his need to communicate with her? Only after visiting Madame Daluka, a fortuneteller, Jorie begins to realize just how out of sorts her life truly is. She is ready to give up and accept life as it is, until Kelly Spencer enters her life...and she finds herself wondering if Madame Daluka will be able to fill in the blanks for her...I had high hopes for this one but the plot seemed to jump all over the place and not making a lot of sense.

Sam's Letters To Jennifer by James Patterson - Laced with mystery, SAM's LETTERS TO JENNIFER combines two unforgettable love stories in a novel that's absolutely impossible to put down. Jennifer returns to the resort village where she grew up to help a beloved relative -- and ends up experiencing not one but two of the most amazing love stories she's ever known. The first is completely unexpected. In a series of letters that Jennifer finds, her relative reveals that she has concealed a huge secret for decades: Her great love is not the man she was married to for all those years. As Jennifer reads about this passionate partnership, she learns more about love's imperatives and secrets than she ever dreamed possible. And then comes the biggest surprise of all. At a time when she thought she could never love again, Jennifer lets her guard down for a moment -- and is suddenly caught up in the greatest flight of exhilaration she's ever known. But, just as suddenly, she learns that this new love comes with an unbearable cost. Jennifer doesn't think she can survive the pain -- but the letters she's been reading make her think that love may help her find a way. Too depressing for me.

The Spaniard's Passion by Jane Porter - Sophie is penniless since her late husband's death left her with nothing but a pile of gambling debts. She needs closure on that unfortunate period in her life, and the only way to get it is to travel to South America and put the past behind her. But Sophie cannot forget that she agreed to her loveless marriage to escape her overwhelming attraction to another man, South American millionaire Alonso Galván. And Alonso has never renounced his vow that, one day, Sophie will be his. So, finding her alone, vulnerable and in desperate need of his help is the answer to his prayers. Now he can show her real passion... and that he means to make her his bride! Did absolutely nothing for me.

Bliss by Lynsay Sands - If King Henry receives one more letter from either of two feuding nobles, he'll go mad. Lady Tiernay is a beauty, but whoever marries the nag will truly get a mixed blessing. And Lord Holden -- can all the rumors regarding his cold heart be lies? The man certainly has sobered since the death of his first wife. If he were smart, Henry would force the two to wed, make them fatigue each other with their schemes and complaints. Yes, it is only fitting for them to share the bed they'd made -- 'til death do them part! Perhaps they will even find each other suitable; perhaps Lord Holden will find in his bride the sweet breath of new life. Heaven alone knows what will happen when the two foes are the last things between themselves and the passion they've never known they wanted. It started out really good but started to drag and then totally lost my interest.

To Be Someone by Louise Voss - Helena Nicholls is no ordinary girl. In fact, she's famous. For many years she was the bassist and lyricist for Blue Idea, a band worshiped by adoring fans all over the world throughout the eighties. Following their breakup, Helena switched gears and became the most popular morning DJ in London with her all-request show. Listeners could call her and request songs, but Helena wouldn't play them until the callers gave the details of why they wanted her to play them --- where they were when they first heard the song, what they were wearing, who they were with, and why the song means so much to them. The show's success put Helena back on the map, but now that's all over. After a night of partying ends in a horrible accident, Helena wakes up in a hospital bed. As she groggily opens her eyes, she realizes that her irresponsible behavior, so completely uncharacteristic of her, has left her bruised and battered. The doctors tell her it will take months to recover --- who knows if her wounded ego will ever heal. Couldn't hold my interest.

Good Grief by Lolly Winston - A brilliantly funny and heartwarming debut about a young woman who stumbles,then fights to build a new life after the death of her husband. I found it morbidly depressing. I thought it would have more humor like P.S. I Love You, but this one fell flat.


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I am not a professional reviewer, but I love to read and share my opinions on my reading with others who are interested. I work full time but my ideal perfect day would be to curl up with a good book. The majority of the books I review here are from my private collection and my reviews are provided purely for entertainment purposes. I receive no compensation whatsoever for sharing my thoughts and review on any book. If you would like me to review your book, please email me at Happy Reading! :o)