Friday, December 1, 2017

Japanese Fundraiser

I'll try not to be too embarrassed to post this here... my daughter and two other young ladies from her high school are going to Japan in June as part of an exchange program. Mollie has been studying Japanese for three years and intends to go to college and major in languages and Asian studies in the hopes of living/working in Japan and/or Korea.

We're fundraising to help with expenses.

I won't be too obnoxious with this.

💕💕💕💕💕💕💕💕

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Christmas at Rosie Hopkins' Sweetshop by Jenny Colgan

Fans of Debbie Macomber and Jojo Moyes will love this warm, funny, moving holiday tale from the New York Times bestselling author of Christmas at the Cupcake Café and Little Beach Street Bakery.
It’s a white Christmas in England, and Rosie Hopkins is feeling festive: Her sweetshop is festooned with striped candy canes, luscious chocolate boxes, and happy, sticky children, and she and her boyfriend are eagerly awaiting the arrival of their families.
But when a tragedy strikes at the heart of their charming town, all of Rosie's plans for the future seem to be blown apart. Can she and her loved ones see their way through the difficult times?
Sweet and soulful, heartbreaking and heartwarming, this is the perfect novel for the holidays (or any time of year).


THIS NON-REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS!! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.



Lori:  Bah and humbug. 

I love the holidays and this year is just swimming in holiday goodness. I've already got the Christmas Pandora station streaming, I've watched 2 holiday movies with kissing and my Kindle is festooned with Christmas romance book covers.

This was the first book in the Christmas season and it drove me damned close to burning a gift and ripping down some mistletoe.

Rosie is a nurse who runs her aunt's sweetshop in a small English village. Her boyfriend Stephen is a schoolteacher, gentry type who has title and property and no cash. His mother is a bit of a witch, the town is all adorbs the way small towns are... there's the sweet best friend with the heart of gold boyfriend, the man crazy aunt who can't forget the love of her life and the mystery man with dementia. Also lots of cute kids. Lots of cute kids.

Did I mention the cute kids? Cause Rosie has a sweetshop. 

Anyway, the reason I disliked this book so much was because it was impossible to like Rosie or Stephen. What's the point of a holiday romance when you don't feel the main couple have done anything to deserve a HEA?


Carolyn: I'm sorta ambivalent about this book. After we talked, I went on and finished the book and found myself becoming more and more immersed in it. I enjoyed the snarky dialogue between Rosie and Stephen and between most of the characters, really. But I really, really dislike the 'big misunderstanding' trope and that's what this book was based on.

I understood and felt for Stephen re his PTSD. I didn't understand Rosie not clueing in on it, especially with her medical background.

It's hard to state some of my feelings without spoilers, so I will scatter warnings around and just plow on ahead.

I cried when James/Henry's story ended. On the other hand, I thought the ending of the book contained more than a little treacle and was a real downer for a Christmas book.

And I never really got a handle on all the characters except the three year old; she could have been Mollie, lol. (a younger Mollie, of course)


Lori:  To me it wasn't the big misunderstanding that killed the book for me: it was Rosie. 

I'm completely heroine-centric and if the heroine doesn't work for me then the book is a dead end. And Rosie didn't work for me. There was nothing about her that I really liked.

The worst part of the book was that Rosie's family all lived in Australia and were coming to visit for Christmas and Rosie never told her live-in boyfriend that her family was descending upon them. 

Rosie just did what she wanted and didn't pay attention to what it meant to other people. And all her choices were selfish. Even the selfless choice to keep the school open was selfish because she wanted to keep her sweetshop open and keep her boyfriend employed.

Rosie was a git and I didn't root for her. Also I don't feel she'd be a good life partner since she never treated anyone in her life with honesty or true empathy.

Carolyn:  I'm not heroine-centric, thank the lord. I did get outdone with Rosie. But, you know, she sorta reminded me of me, the way she kept putting things off. When it's something you don't want to do, that you know will cause problems and/or fighting, emotionally insecure people do tend to think "I'll do it tomorrow, I can handle it better then because ...blah, blah, blah". (That's why my house looks like it does. ;-))

I also think if you squint real hard and angle your head in precisely the right position, you can see the school/Stephen thing differently (well, not you you, but a general you). She really did want the best for Stephen. She really did have low self esteem but I didn't buy how she talked herself into believing he didn't love her. But that's what folks with low self esteem do.

It was the Aussie family that got on my nerves (sorry Lea). When first they arrived they were horrible. Trashy even. And then, for no particular reason that I could see, they became acceptable, behaved better and were gathered into the loving arms of the village, or at least Stephen's mother. Didn't buy it. But it is a Christmas story, so whatcha gonna do??

Lori: Well, because it's the season and all that fa-la-la, I'll be kind and say there is probably something in the book to enjoy. Just not for me.

I do understand how you could see Rosie as insecure but I saw it as selfish. However... it wasn't a DNF and it was an easy and moderately pleasant read. I'd love to know how other people feel about it.

And on another note: we plan on reviewing at least one more Christmas themed book as well as Loretta Chase's newest. And we'll be pulling a mean trick on one another soon and choosing a book for the other person to read. Anybody know any Amish bondage books I can force on Carolyn?

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Still Old, Still Farting and Still Talking Romance

We're still here.

Where there's a Lori, there's a Carolyn and behind every Carolyn is a Lori. We're still a team, still together and still talking.

We're just the same and different.

Mollie is a junior in high school and already going to college fairs and starting to look at scholarships. She'll be leaving me soon and my life is on the cusp of that great loss... right now I'm living in every moment enjoying the last years of being a mother to a child.

My heart swells and breaks every day.

Carolyn has been adjusting to life on her own in the middle of Trump country. It's a struggle sometimes to find a reason to get up and keep moving and she's working on that. This is not a world created for aging people.

We're still laughing and fighting. We still look at pictures of Jason Mamoa and clutch our pearls. (We'd rather clutch something else .. nudge, nudge, wink, wink).

We miss the romance community.

But we're figuring things out and where we want to be.

These old farts aren't done yet.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Overwhelmed

Life has just become overwhelming as of late. Time is at a premium and free time is hard to find. Work eats up my week with long hours and endless commuting and non-work time is chores and child, a lot of movement.

I am writing a murder mystery on Wattpad. It's fun and relaxing and writing not for profit has taken the stress out of it.

Carol and I are still talking but not as much as before **insert sad face here**. Time difference and work sometimes makes the connection hard. But there's still a lot of laughs we share.

Family is pretty okay. Mollie is discovering the bad side of teenage girls and having a slightly harder time recently. We're all navigating this together and trying to help her learn and not get too damaged by teenage girl meanness. (No bullying, just friendships gone bad and friends being pulled in different directions.)

Anyway, I'll put up a link to Wattpad soon for the story. Hope all our friends are doing well.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Carolyn's September Buys

Haven't done this for awhile and to be honest, I'm mostly doing it now to keep track of the books. It seems I've preordered quite a few for September. Hopefully, if someone reads this, a book or two will strike a chord in the reading heart and you'll discover you can't live without that particular book.  ;-)


1.  Cover of Night (Alpha Crew Book 3)
     
      Author: Laura Griffin
      Publisher: Simon and Schuster
      Price:  $3.99
      Release Date: September 4, 2017


Sparks fly when a journalist and a Navy SEAL cross paths in Thailand in this third entry in the thrilling and sexy Alpha Crew series from New York Times bestselling author Laura Griffin.

Journalist Karly Bonham is on her first overseas mission, covering the new United States ambassador to Thailand, when she is taken hostage by terrorists, with only her wits and courage to keep her alive--until help arrives in the form of Navy SEAL Ethan Dunn.

As part of an elite SEAL team called Alpha Crew, Ethan has been on countless harrowing missions, but he knows this one is different the instant he meets Karly—the sexy young reporter who somehow managed to escape the terrorists’ clutches. Ethan is impressed by her, especially when he learns she has intel that could be the key to a successful rescue op. Ethan knows working with a civilian raises the stakes on an already dangerous mission. But with the clock ticking down, he enlists Karly’s help to thwart a vicious plot and bring a terrorist mastermind to justice.


2.  Secrets in Death
     
      Author: J D Robb
      Publisher: Macmillan
      Price: $14.99
      Release Date: September 5, 2017


A new novel in the #1 New York Times bestselling series: Lt. Eve Dallas must separate rumors from reality when a woman who traffics in other people’s secrets is silenced.

The chic Manhattan nightspot Du Vin is not the kind of place Eve Dallas would usually patronize, and it’s not the kind of bar where a lot of blood gets spilled. But that’s exactly what happens one cold February evening.
The mortallywounded woman is Larinda Mars, a self-described “social information reporter,” or as most people would call it, a professional gossip. As it turns out, she was keeping the most shocking stories quiet, for profitable use in her side business as a blackmailer. Setting her sights on rich, prominent marks, she’d find out what they most wanted to keep hidden and then bleed them dry. Now someone’s done the same to her, literally—with a knife to the brachial artery.
Eve didn’t like Larinda Mars. But she likes murder even less. To find justice for this victim, she’ll have to plunge into the dirty little secrets of all the people Larinda Mars victimized herself. But along the way, she may be exposed to some information she really didn’t want to know…


3.  A Conspiracy in Belgravia (The Lady Sherlock Series)
      
      Author: Sherry Thomas
      Publisher: Penguin Group
      Price:  $9.99
      Release Date: September 5, 2017

The game is afoot as Charlotte Holmes returns in USA Today bestselling author Sherry Thomas’s Victorian-set Lady Sherlock series.

Being shunned by Society gives Charlotte Holmes the time and freedom to put her extraordinary powers of deduction to good use. As “Sherlock Holmes, consulting detective,” aided by the capable Mrs. Watson, she’s had great success helping with all manner of inquiries, but she’s not prepared for the new client who arrives at her Upper Baker Street office.

Lady Ingram, wife of Charlotte’s dear friend and benefactor, wants Sherlock Holmes to find her first love, who failed to show up at their annual rendezvous. Matters of loyalty and discretion aside, the case becomes even more personal for Charlotte as the missing man is none other than Myron Finch, her illegitimate half brother.

In the meanwhile, Charlotte wrestles with a surprising proposal of marriage, a mysterious stranger woos her sister Livia, and an unidentified body surfaces where least expected. Charlotte’s investigative prowess is challenged as never before: Can she find her brother in time—or will he, too, end up as a nameless corpse somewhere in the belly of London?


4.  On the Chase (Rocky Mountain K9 Unit Book 2)
      
      Author: Katie Ruggle
      Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
      Price:  $6.15
      Release Date: September 5, 2017

Injured in the line of duty,
His orders are simple:
Stay alive.
But when a frightened woman bursts into his life, Hugh and his K9 companion have no choice but to risk everything to keep her safe.
The sole witness to a horrific crime, Kaylee Ramay flees to the Colorado Rockies to start a new life. There she becomes Grace, a dog kennel employee desperately trying to avoid attention-especially from dangerously attractive K9 Officer Hugh Murdoch.
Because Hugh is tall, dark...and nothing but trouble.
Hugh is anxious to get back in the field after an act of heroism left him warming the bench.
Until then, he and his K9 partner Lexi spend their hours teasing the town's mysterious newcomer. But when their simmering attraction is nearly cut short by a sniper's bullet, Hugh's mystery woman must come clean about the secrets she keeps...
Or both of them will pay the price.

5.  A Taste of Honey (Lively St Lemon Book 4)
      
      Author: Rose Lerner
      Publisher: self published?
      Price: $0.99
      Release Date: September 12, 2017


Fire and ice cream...

Robert Moon risked everything, including his father’s hardwon legacy, to open his beloved Honey Moon Confectionery on the busiest street in Lively St. Lemeston. Now he’s facing bankruptcy and debtor’s prison. 

When a huge catering order comes in, he agrees to close the sweet-shop for a week to fill it. There’s only one problem: his apprentice is out of town, so his beautiful shop-girl Betsy Piper must help Robert in the kitchen.

Betsy’s spent the last year trying to make her single-minded boss look up from his pastries and notice that she would be the perfect wife. Now the two of them are alone in a kitchen full of sweet things. With just one week to get him to fall in love with her, she’d better get this seduction started...

She soon discovers that Robert brings the same meticulous, eager-to-please attitude to lovemaking that he does to baking, but can kisses—no matter how sweet—compete with the Honey Moon in his heart?


6.  The Duke's Bridal Path
      
      Author(s): Grace Burrowes, Theresa Romain
      Publisher: Grace Burrowes Publishing
      Price:  $3.99
      Release Date: September 12, 2017

Two Regency novellas of true love deep in the English countryside....Legend says that the first gentleman a lady kisses on the Duke's Bridle' Path will become her true love. Grace Burrowes and Theresa Romain say it's not that easy... 

In His Grace for the Win, by Grace Burrowes, Philippe, Duke of Lavelle, has sworn off all things equestrian after his brother's riding accident. Just one tiny problem: The woman who steals Philippe's heart, Harriet Talbot, loves horses, and generally only notices men when they're in the saddle. Will Philippe rise to the challenge, or come a cropper for the sake of true love? 

In Desperately Seeking Scandal, by Theresa Romain, ambitious London reporter Colin Goddard follows a trail of scandal to the Lavelle seat in Berkshire, hoping to save his career with articles on how to snare a wealthy spouse. What was intended as a humorous series turns seductive, as Lady Ada Ellis, sister to the duke, uncovers Colin’s true purpose and challenges him to a battle of wits…and wills, and hearts. But if they fall in love, one of them will lose everything. Who will triumph?


7.  Wicked Deeds

      Author: Heather Graham
      Publisher: Harlequin
      Price: $7.99
      Release Date: September 19, 2017

Eager to start their life together, historian Vickie Preston and Special Agent Griffin Pryce take a detour en route to their new home in Virginia and stop for a visit in Baltimore. But their romantic weekend is interrupted when a popular author is found dead in the basement of an Edgar Allan Poe–themed restaurant. Because of the mysterious circumstances surrounding the corpse, the FBI's Krewe of Hunters paranormal team is invited to investigate. As more bizarre deaths occur, Vickie and Griffin are drawn into a case that has disturbing echoes of Poe's great works, bringing the horrors of his fiction to life. 

The restaurant is headquarters to scholars and fans, and any of them could be a merciless killer. Except there's also something reaching out from beyond the grave. The late, great Edgar Allan Poe himself is appearing to Vickie in dreams and visions with cryptic information about the murders. Unless they can uncover whose twisted mind is orchestrating the dramatic re-creations, Vickie and Griffin's future as a couple might never begin…


8.  Archangel's Viper

      Author: Nalini Singh
      Publisher: Penguin
      Price: $7.99
      Release Date: September 26, 2017

Enter New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh's breathtakingly passionate Guild Hunter world with the story of a woman who isn't a vampire or an angel...or human...
 
Once a broken girl known as Sorrow, Holly Chang now prowls the shadowy gray underground of the city for the angels. But it's not her winged allies who make her a wanted woman--it's the unknown power coursing through her veins. Brutalized by an insane archangel, she was left with the bloodlust of a vampire, the ability to mesmerize her prey, and a poisonous bite.
 
Now, someone has put a bounty on her head...
 
Venom is one of the Seven, Archangel Raphael's private guard, and he's as infuriating as he is seductive. A centuries-old vampire, his fangs dispense a poison deadlier than Holly's. But even if Venom can protect Holly from those hunting her, he might not be able to save himself--because the strange, violent power inside Holly is awakening...
 
No one is safe.      
      

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

White Guilt

This is a terrible time in America. We have a man leading the country who says there are good people in the ranks of Nazis and White Supremacists and violent people in the crowd of counter protesters who brought no weapons and were standing against hate.

Marginalized people are suggesting the only thing new is that the Klansmen no longer feel like they have to wear hoods and for the first time, for the first time since I'm aware, white people need to shut the fuck up finally and start learning how they're complicit and how to change.

It's hard. It makes me personally feel bad. I read posts that say white people are complicit and I want to whine, "not me, I'm not a racist" but seriously, of course I am. I'm not color blind. I have white privilege and I know it. And it makes me shamed because whether or not I feel I deserve it, I get treated a fuck of a lot better for being white than people more qualified than me who are of different races.

Maybe I'm luckier than most because I've faced prejudice as a Jew, as a woman, as a mother of a gender bending Chinese child. I've heard Chink as a description of my daughter, I've been told that Jews are going to hell and we are waiting for our messiah, the anti-Christ (hey, I didn't vote for him, you did!!)

I've never felt white guilt before because I could claim to be marginalized. But I wasn't. A teaspoon amount of hate in a vast ocean doesn't allow me to claim understanding.

I hate this feeling. I hate not knowing what to do, where to turn. My country is being destroyed quickly. This isn't a small dismantling of pieces but a huge rending of our nation and we need to stop it and I don't have a fucking clue what to do.

I hate being told that being white is complicit even though I know it's true. Even more, the guilt of knowing that unless we figure out as white people how to get this country back from hate then we're as bad as those marching with their tiki torches and racist chants.

This is America and we've let our silence bring us here. Now we need to let POC show us the way to get out of this mess. So shut up for once white Americans and lets listen and follow someone else's lead.

This really is on all of us.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

And The World (And My Head) Keep Spinning

Reasons I don't want to get out of bed most mornings:

1. Fox News put up an opinion piece saying that Russia did meddle in the election and the Trump campaign was dirty but do we really care? After all, Trump is go good for the economy that we should overlook any criminal activity. (Still: Hillary's emails.)

2. The growing racism/Islamphobia/sexism of this country is terrifying.

3. HBO having a show whose premise is the civil war never happened (or different ending) and blacks are still slaves. And people don't understand why it shouldn't be made. Judd Apatow saying that maybe it will be like All In The Family and I'm just shaking my head. It's 2017. No. Just no. It's every shade of wrong and if you can't see that then I'm pointing a finger and saying you're part of the problem.

4. Reclaiming my time. Jay-sus. Don't tell me how wonderful I am, answer my question.

5. Check AztecLady's blog for the teach your daughters how to properly say no. Almost amusing since the author then called all the women saying no "outrage Twitter" but again with the sexism.

6. Personal note: I can't afford having a teenager. I just can't.

7. Body acceptance. Suddenly I'm reading about how dieting is bad and weight watchers is bad and body acceptance is the only good. And I want to post and mention that there's more empowerment in gaining control of eating issues and weight than in just telling a fatphobic world they should appreciate my obesity. I feel like I'm supposed to be happy with being fat and feel guilt because I'm not. (I'd rather not judge those who are happy in their skin at any weight and support those who aren't. And I'm not. Stop making me feel bad for losing weight and liking myself more.)

8. Work. I hate the anxiety. But I like the paychecks.

9. We have a congress nowadays who are passing laws to restrict the president's power because they don't trust Trump. The fear that our lawmakers are showing that Trump will send a nuke or start a war does not make me feel confident.

Our country is going to hell in a handbasket. And... my Fox watching, lib hating brother who openly calls Trump a loon... still supports him. Says he's a terrible president and supports him. Continues to say Hillary should be jailed. And he's representative of republicans nowadays. Hate the president but support him. Because he's white, male and not other.

If women don't take over the country soon, I worry there won't be a country left to take over.