Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Workout Wednesday: Huffin' and Puffin' My Way Through Leave Me Breathless

Ok I wasn't really out of breath while reading Leave Me Breathless by HelenKay Dimon, but I did break out into a good sweat and I thought it was a clever tie-in with my read-n-ride challenge this week.
(BTW this graphic is a good depiction of life imitating art LOL!)


The results are in:
Pages read 269
Riding Time 3hours 6minutes
Calories Burned 1287
Distance Peddled 61.50 miles

For My Thoughts

I actually finished the book before the deadline this week. Hallelujah! So does that mean the book was sooo good and a great read that I raced through it? Or that I made it to the gym enough days in a row to to get it finished on time? The truth is actually a combination of both.

I love Helenkay Dimon's style of writing. Snappy, witty dialogue, complicated family dynamics, a hot alpha male and a take no prisoners heroine collide for a combination that can't go wrong in Leave Me Breathless.

Callie Robbins ex-FBI agent, is a firecracker with a smart-aleck mouth, a quick wit and attitude out the ying-yang. Judge Bennett Walker never stood a chance once Callie was assigned to protect him after a threat on his life.

Bennett Walker may be the cock-o-the-walk around the courthouse, but he's met his match in Callie. She's not the least bit intimidated by the Judge or his formidable black robe (what do Judges where under those robes anyway O_o?) and she lets him know it just about every chance she gets. Ben is dead set against a bodyguard and a woman no less (sheesh he's an ex-marine - he can look after himself!), but his protests fall on deaf ears as Callie just shuts him up with a volley of one-liners and verbal zingers. She's stuck like glue on the good Judge whether he likes it or not...and surprisingly he likes it!

Just a little sample of one line delivered early on by Callie to Ben that had me snickering: "I was going to call you a douche and the bag you came in, but I thought you'd have me arrested." Something about that line just struck my funny bone.

In fact the night I started this book at the gym, someone commented to me that the book must be good since I had a smile on my face the whole time I was reading it. Certainly a good sign that this book was going to be an enjoyable read and make peddling all those miles a little less arduous.

I wasn't 100% sold on the suspense plot and who the threat turned out to be or their reasons for going after Ben, or Emma or Callie whoever the intended target turned out to be (you are going to have to find out for yourself by reading the book if you want to know), but it served it's purpose and brought Callie and Ben together and I can live with that.

The real draw for me in Leave me Breathless was the relationship between Callie and Ben. It's what kept me hooked and reading till the end. The secondary romance featuring Ben's brother Mark - Mr. Homeland Security Agent with no time for a personal life was a nice added bonus. That poor boy was a commitment phobe if ever there was one. Once he got his head out of his ass and embraced the love of his own good woman, it was nice to see him get his HEA as well.

You really can't go wrong with a HKD least I haven't been disappointed yet!

Back Blurb

According to Judge Bennett Walker, trying to kill him is a dumb idea. They might make him wear a big black nightgown to work, but it covers a lot of muscles, and he’s definitely packing beneath it. He’s also an ex-prosecutor and an ex-GI Joe. So when his brother brings in Callie Robbins to protect him, Ben has a few issues. First, he doesn’t need a bodyguard. Second, she’s a 130-pound girl—more smoking hot than smoking gun. And third, what if his body wants her guarding the night shift?

Callie has no problem brushing aside Ben’s disbelief. She left the FBI to escape the boys’ club, but she can be deeper undercover and twice as lethal as any beefy John Doe. As for whether someone’s after Bennett or not, the death threats and car bombs look pretty convincing to Callie. Of course, she might get distracted, sitting inches from the sexiest judge in DC for ten hours a day. Keeping him safe is no picnic. Keeping it professional—that might be impossible.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Workwork Wednesday: No Pain No Gain

Ok I thought this week was going to be easy to finish off my book for the read-n-ride challenge. But once again I managed to just squeak it in under the wire. I mean seriously it was only 243 pages and I was actually delusional enough to think that I might even read 2 books this week. Wrong! There were a couple of reasons I didn’t get as much time on the bike this week as I would have liked. First off I decided to try a different bike and that was my first mistake. My buttocks hurt for 2 days and just the thought of hopping back on that bad boy had my butt cheeks quivering in pain. I also had a few stomach issues this week that caused me to miss a few days. But I did complete the book so all-in-all it was a success.

♥♥♥ 1/2
The book: Her Best Friend by Sarah Mayberry

Pages read 243
Riding Time 2hours 20minutes
Calories Burned 839
Distance Peddled 49.60 miles

Back Cover Blurb
What's a girl to do when she's secretly in love with a friend and he's married to someone else? She gets over it. That's what Amy Parker has done. Rather than lose her best bud Quinn Whitfield with an ill-timed, crazy confession of affection, she's taken the smart route. She's eased away from him. Just enough to get past the unrequited bits. And you know, it's working.

Until the day Quinn announces he's now single. That's right. He's single. And he wants to hang out. With her. Get reconnected the way they used to be.

Oh, this is so not good for Amy's equilibrium. Daily doses of Quinn remind her of everything she loves about him. But if he's free…and she's free…well, maybe the time has come for one of those crazy confessions

For My Thoughts

First of all let me say that I love that Sarah Mayberry writes stories that take place in Australia. While reading, I always imagine the dialogue in my head with an Aussie accent (at least for the hero) and there is just something so hot and sexy about a guy with an accent.

Her Best Friend raises a very interesting question. What do you do when you find out your BFF is getting divorced and you’ve been in love with him since you were fourteen? That’s the dilemma facing Amy Parker when she discovers her childhood friends Quinn and Lisa are estranged and in the final stages of a divorce.

Can friends become lovers? Quinn and Amy spend most of the book dancing around this question. They have a fun, playful, easy-going relationship borne from years of being best friends. They know everything there is to know about each other except for how they really feel towards one another. Is wreaking a great friendship worth the risk of a few minutes tangled up in the sheets together? Neither Amy nor Quinn is willing to cross that line between friends and lovers to find out. Then one night one of them has a bit too much to drink and in an alcohol induced stupor reveals their true feelings. The circumstances surrounding the true confession were actually pretty funny and embarrassing and I did let out a little laugh.

This is a pretty tame book as far as smexy action goes, but there are a couple of close encounters only to be coitus interruptes by Amy’s mom who it turns out has impeccable timing.

If you have a spare couple of hours and want a fun, easy read then you won’t be disappointed with Her Best Friend.

Weigh in on the Friends Vs Lovers debate.

Next week’s challenge Leaves Me Breathless by HelenKay Dimon.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Shattered Lives and Family Secrets

Since this was my read-n-ride challenge book last week that I didn’t finish in time, final totals are:
Pages 388; Time 4hr 50min; Cal 1940; Distance Peddled 99.93mi

♥♥♥ 1/2

From Goodreads:

The past is never over. It just gets dusty.
Lisa Grant was a rising star in a prestigious law firm in Lexington, Kentucky; that is, until the firm went bankrupt and she lost her job. With an ailing mother to care for, Lisa takes the first position she can find: research assistant to District Attorney Scott Buchanan. Scott is as disagreeable as he is sexy, and Lisa suspects the only reason she got the job is because of her privileged upbringing as the daughter of a wealthy federal judge.

While reviewing cold cases in the Fayette County courthouse, a particularly thick manila envelope draws Lisa's attention. The details of the case are engrossing: An entire family-father, mother, and two children-disappeared more than twenty-eight years ago. Except that's not all: The mother in the photo could have been Lisa's twin, and the toddler in the picture bears an uncanny resemblance to Lisa herself. Before Lisa can learn more about her past, a series of catastrophes strike close to home. Lisa confides in Scott, and their relationship develops into something completely different. Together Lisa and Scott unravel a terrifying web of criminal connections that could destroy the very fabric of Lisa's life-if she lives long enough, that is.

For My Thoughts

I’ve been reading Karen Robards for at least 20 years and she’s always been an auto-buy author for me. You can count on her to deliver a great romantic suspense read.

Shattered delivered on both counts, but not without a few issues.

One issue I have to mention right up front (doesn’t really have anything to do with the storyline). Both the author’s website and Goodreads list the heroine’s name as Lisa Shewmaker when in fact her name in the book is Lisa Grant. How does that happen?

First comes romance:

Scott and Lisa have history in spades. Lisa has been in love with Scott ever since she was a teenager, a spoiled, rich little heiress, prancing around in her tight clothes and skimpy bathing suits trying to attract the attention of the cute, slightly older, hired help. Scott knows trouble (and jailbait) when he sees it and manages to keep his teenage hormones in check and resist the little princess.

Fast forward ten years and a reversal of fortune has brought a jobless Lisa back to the home she grew up in to care for her ailing mother. And right back into Scott’s life. Now he’s the Boss, a respected District Attorney and she’s come to him begging for a job.

You can sense right from page 3 of the 1st chapter that there is going to be some serious fireworks between these two when Scott threatens to fire Lisa for being late for work one day. It doesn’t help that Scott just happens to witness Lisa being dropped off by her boyfriend or the extended lip lock in the parking lot before “loverboy” drives away. Jealous much?

The sexual tension and chemistry between them is hot, unfortunately Scott has a strict policy against dating co-workers, but you know what they say about rules being made to be broken? Hey he did hold out for over half the book, which by the way was just too long in my opinion, but it kept me reading waiting for the payoff.

Then comes suspense:

The beginning flashback chapter set the stage for the action that was to come. It doesn’t take long to figure out where the story is headed and the title Shattered is a dead giveaway. Lisa was like a cat with nine lives as more than one attempt was made on her life as she tried to solve a decades old cold case. Even though I was sure about the ending, Robards did throw a few wrinkles in before reaching the final conclusion that I didn’t see coming so the ending was not as obvious as I thought it was going to be.

Speaking of the ending, it was way, way, way to rushed. It was almost as if the author realized she’d reached her word count and wanted to tie everything up in a nice neat little bow in the last 10 pages. All the questions got answered, but I really felt cheated.

Overall it was a good, solid read.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Workout Wednesday Ohh So Close......

OK so this week was a fail with regards to completing my book for the read-n-ride challenge. It's not that I didn't make it to the gym, it's just hard to sit on the bike and read...a lot harder than I thought it would be. I people watch, I get distracted, I watch the TV screens and I read.

Totals so far this week are:
Total pages in book 388
Pages read 324 (Ugh! I was so close)
Riding Time 4hours 7minutes
Calories Burned 1628
Distance Peddled 83.88 miles
I need to start choosing smaller books!

Quick Thoughts:
This book definitely has more emphasis on the suspense rather than the romance. It kept my interest while reading and if not for this challenge, I would have finished it at home.

With no book to review this week I thought instead that I would give my thoughts on Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred. I like and watch The Biggest Loser and if I was ever on that show, I would want Jillian to be my trainer.

I decided that I needed to add some weight training in this week so I bought her DVD The 30 Day Shred. I did level 1 this week 3 times, which is the beginner level (there are 3 different levels). It's a non-stop, no nonsense 28 minute workout combining a cardio and strength circuit (3 mins strength, 2 mins cardio, 1 min abs). She also makes sure to show advanced and modified moves even for level 1. I only needed some hand weights and the choreography is fairly basic so no need to get stressed out about following a lot of complicated moves. Next week I'll tackle level 2 and see how I do.

I do have one gripe though. During the jumping-jack section, Jillian remarks "If you're looking for the modified jumping jack - look elsewhere. I've got 400lbs people that can do jumping jacks - so can you!" Is that right? Has Ms. Michaels ever tried to do jumping jacks with cantaloupes flopping up and down on her chest? I was just lucky I didn't give myself a black eye. So yes I did modify the jumping jacks. And to Ms. Michaels I say Shred This!

If you watch The Biggest Loser (or even if you don't), are you Team Jillian or Team Bob? Weigh in.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Double The Pleasure, Double The Fun..or Not

Ever since I discovered the Book Depository last year for ordering books at great prices and free shipping worldwide, I have been obsessed with checking the website and ordering books non-stop. I seriously order more books than I could ever read in a month let alone a week.

And every day when I come home to find a little white envelope in my mailbox signifying the delivery of a new book, I get all tingly with excitement (I know folks - it doesn't take much).

So when two arrive on the same day it's like Christmas and my birthday all in one. Double the pleasure, double the fun. Or not...when both are the same book! WTH? Obviously I got a little carried away with my ordering and maybe I should pay better attention to what I am doing?

So I guess one of my family members is getting a copy of Dark Deceptions for their next birthday whether they want it or not.

In honor of my stupidity I present:

The Dunce Cap Of The Week Award

And the lucky winner is...........

me of course!

If you feel you are worthy of winning this coveted award, let me know and maybe you to can be an award winner!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wednesday Workout Readin' N Ridin'

HEY! Who snuck into the gym and took my picture when I wasn't looking and posted it on my blog?????? 

Ok all kidding aside somedays this is what I feel like and it sure made me laugh (at myself). Plus don't we all have days when we feel like this?

So I completed my Read-n-Ride challange this week and finished Delicious by Shayla Black.  It took me a lot longer than I thought it would.  I had to read-n-ride tonight just so I could finish the book and make my goal.  I wasn't expecting it to take me 6 days to finish this book.

Here are the final totals (minus the 1st day cuz I wasn't smart enough to think of this idea before I started the book).

Pages read 353
Riding Time 3hours 18minutes
Calories Burned 1334
Distance Peddled 69.74 miles

My take on the book:

From the Back Cover:
He can’t control his desire.
Luc Traverson’s entire future is planned out—but there is one very sexy obstacle in his path: Alyssa Devereaux . She’s a former exotic dancer turned strip club owner and restaurateur. Recently, Alyssa and Luc shared one night of wild abandon that left Luc terrified by his loss of self-control—and Alyssa desperate for more.
And that’s just the way she wants it.
Fulfilling a promise, Luc is the guest chef for Alyssa’s restaurant debut. The sight of her makes Luc wild, so how can he survive a week without letting loose and ravaging her—especially when she’s begging for it? Luc’s desire for her explodes when he realizes he isn’t the only man desperate to have her. But one of the others is deadly. And that’s not the end of Alyssa’s secrets…which are as dark and mysterious and enticing as her fantasies.

So I was looking forward to Delicious. It didn't take me long to realize this was probably not the most appropriate book to be reading at the gym?!? Good thing I had my book cover on it....Yikes!

Hot shot chef Luc Traverson broke the golden rule all readers know: Never judge a book by its cover. In this case that book is Alyssa Devereaux, former exotic dancer turned strip club/restaurant owner.

I did not like Luc at the start of this book. I found him to be a judgemental, hypocritical walking hard-on. Whatever his reasons, Luc thinks Alyssa is beneath his station in life because she’s a stripper and therefore she must sleep around. At this point in his life Luc is looking for a good little woman to marry and bare his children and Alyssa just doesn’t measure up to his standards. That doesn’t stop him from constantly sporting a raging hard-on or constantly thinking about having sex with Alyssa every second of the day. Oh ya and he somehow manages to conveniently forget about the little school teacher Emily he’s been dating back home and is thinking about proposing to.

Alyssa is not the person Luc perceives her to be. She’s survived a traumatic childhood, she’s come a long way and she’s made a name for herself. Alyssa’s got her own version of a hard-on for the sexy chef. Ever since Luc and Alyssa had a one night stand three months previously, she’s never been able to forget the way Luc rocked her world.

These two were actually a good match for each other. They played the she loves me, he loves me not; she hates me, he hates me too song throughout the entire book. Their mixed feelings for each other aside, that didn’t prevent them from going at it like bunnies whenever they were in spitting distance of each other. Very hot, energetic bunnies!

During the second half of the book, the action gears up as Alyssa is being targeted by a stalker – or two or three. No surprises though who the bad guy(s) are. Three stalkers may have been one too many.

Overall rating ♥♥♥

Next week's challenging read

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

To Paranormal or Not To Paranormal

Favorite things. Everyone has them. Given the option people will always choose the familiar, safe path 9 out of 10 times whether it's a decision between Chocolate or Vanilla ice cream; M&M's or Smarties; Tea or Coffee; Pop or Rock-n-Roll; there's always a clear-cut favorite.

Readers are no different. We all have our guilty pleasure whether it's paranormal, contemporary, historical or romantic suspense. Sometimes, if you step outside your comfort zone and try a "new flavor" - you might be pleasantly surprised.

To clarify I am not a fan of the paranormal romance. That’s not to say that I don’t read any books included in this genre. Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changling and Lora Leigh’s breeds are two paranormal series I do read. Maybe I just enjoy animal shape shifters rather than demons and angels?

So why then did I choose to read Passion Unleashed when:
1. I don’t normally do paranormal
2. This is the third book in a series
3. I’ve never read or heard of Larissa Ione before

When I was just new to Twitter and following a lot of authors and fellow book junkies, Twitter was quite abuzz with talk about Larissa Ione’s Demonica books. Always on the lookout for a new author to add to my ever growing pile of favorites, I ventured out to the bookstore and Passion Unleashed was the only Ione book in stock – so I bought it.

My Thoughts – from a non-paranormal perspective

Passion Unleashed is youngest brother Wraith’s story who is a half vampire/half demon. He’s a total bad-ass and he’s been infected with a deadly poison that is slowly killing him and to which there is no cure in the conventional sense. Now if he can find the human virgin Serena who holds the magic charm, seduce her into having sex with him and take the charm then he’s golden. No problem right? Oops slight hitch in that plan; Wraith may be cured but unfortunately for Serena once she has sex with him she dies. What’s a demon to do?

I won’t claim that I totally understood 100% what was going on in this demonic underworld because there was a lot going on; brothers Eidolon and Shade and their wives, sex demons, half vampires, fallen angels and heavenly angels, nasty, vile creatures and of course a virgin. It’s a very intricately constructed otherworld.

The bottom line is this book contains all the elements of any contemporary/romantic suspense novel I might normally choose to read. Messed up family dynamics (including a biotch of a mother and a long lost brother); mega-hot sex scenes; funny, witty dialogue; great action and adventure; bad guys (granted they are a little more “monstrous” creatures in this world) and at the heart of it all a true love story between a hero and heroine who are willing to sacrifice themselves for the ones they love. Good does triumph over evil and the guy gets the girl at the end of it all.

It may have taken me a while to read my way through Passion Unleashed, but I am glad I finished the journey.

Here's your chance to weigh in. What's your favorite genre and why?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Windy City Showdown: It's The Librarian Vs The Former Marine

First of all Happy Easter Everyone!
I hope the Easter Bunny was very good to you today.

Now down to business.

I’ve read all of Cathie Linz’s previous books and quite enjoy her as an author. Mad, Bad and Blonde was not one of my favorites.

Dumped at the alter by text message. A sign of the times? This takes social networking to an all new low.

That’s what happened to poor Faith West on her wedding day when her fiancĂ© Alan decided that he wasn't ready to tie the knot with a dull, boring librarian. Faith doesn’t let his rejection get her down though; no way she’s off on her Italian honeymoon solo to have a good time and forget about her cowardly fiancĂ©.

Former Marine Caine Hunter just happens to be in Italy the same time as Faith and it doesn’t take long for this hotty to sooth and comfort the recently jilted Faith. But appearances can be deceiving and Caine is not the lawyer from Philadelphia he is pretending to be and after a hot and steamy night of sex, the morning after discovery of who Caine really is sends Faith racing right back home to Chicago. It doesn’t take long for Caine to cross paths with the newly blonde Faith once again as it turns out he's right from her very own backyard and is a resident of the windy city himself.

Once back home Faith quits her job at the library and goes to work for her father’s P.I. firm West Investigations. Time and time again she “runs” into Caine, who just happens to really be a P.I. for a rival investigation firm of her father’s. Caine is determined to prove his father did not commit suicide and Faith is just as determined to prove that her father did not botch the investigate that ultimately led to the death of the elder Mr Hunter.

So this sounds like it should have been a good beginning to a fun contemporary romance and it did have a few cute moments. Unfortunately I just found myself trying to get through it. I didn’t care if Caine and Faith ended up together or killed each other. There was lots of talk about libraries and landmarks around Chicago and other information that seemed like filler and had little relevance to progressing the story. I found myself doing a lot of skimming.

There was very little romance between Caine and Faith after their quick initial hook-up in Italy, mostly they fought and their arguments were like rapid-fire staccato gunfire. I am sure the dialogue was intended to be witty and fun, but I just found that it made reading the book faster.

Here’s an example:

“I know a shortcut.”
“I bet you do.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“That I was an idiot to ever get in this car with you. Stop right now.”
“Why? We’re only two block from your condo.”
“I’ll walk.”
“With those?”
“If I have to.”
“You don’t have to. Just stay calm. Don’t panic.”
“I don’t panic.”
“Right. See, here we are. At your front door.”

This is a fast, quick contemporary read and if that's what you are in the market for then you should enjoy Mad Bad and Blonde.

PS: Don't forget to come back and visit on Wednesday for a workout update on my Read-n-Ride challenge!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Workout Wednesday - Exercising My Mind and Body

I know, I know it's Thursday, so why is my blog post entitled Workout Wednesday? Well I was thinking about a weekly feature I wanted to start on my blog and I only just thought of this today. Since I couldn't come up with a catchy title for Thursday, I settled on Workout Wednesday and will post on Wednesday's in the future.

So a couple of weeks ago I blogged about playing tennis for the 1st time in about 5 months and how with summer coming, I better get my bertha big butt in gear and get back to the gym if I didn't want to embarrass myself once tennis season started in earnest.

Anyone who goes to the gym regularly can tell you that working out on the treadmill, elliptical or stationary bike can be verra verra boring. So what's a gal to do? I decided to combine my love of reading with the agony of working out and challenge myself.

The Goal:
Every week I am going to pick a book that I will read strictly at the gym while riding the stationary bike. I will record the time, how many miles I ride, number of calories burned and number of pages read.

The Rules:
The book can only be read at the gym. No cheating no matter how good the book is. If I want to finish it, I will be motivated to get my bountiful butt back to the gym.

Every Wednesday I will post the totals and hopefully a review of the book and whether it was gym worthy material.

This week's book is Delicious by Shayla Black. I already started this book yesterday so here are my totals as of today.

Total number of pages 353
April 1 from page 79 to 143
Ride Time 47 mins
Miles Peddled 16.92
Calories burned 327

Happy Peddling and Happy Reading to me!