Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween Mini Goal Mildstone: Great Treat - With No Tricks

Happy Halloween

I've been really good over the last eight months about making mini goals for myself in my weight loss journey and to date I have achieved some remarkable results with a lot of hard work.  I've found that having a small goal to work towards and something that is attainable has really kept me focused on making small changes and not stress over the big picture.

Last Friday I ran 6 miles...all at one 1 hours 11 minutes. That is really incredible for me. I was determined to try it since I had been running 5 miles at least once a week for the last few weeks and I thought it was time to up the ante. And I did it! Considering where I was 8 months ago...I've come a long way baby!

So I set a mini goal for myself for October 31 - Halloween Day - a day celebrated by eating unlimited, mass amounts of candy.  Seemed like a good day to set a goal. 

I wanted to reach 90 lbs lost...and I did it!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Workout Wednesday: Ice Cold: Suspense That Will Chill You to The Bone

Pages read 97 of 336 pages
Riding Time 1 hours 4 minutes
Calories Burned 242
Distance Peddled 13.42

Disclaimer: Yes I had a read-n-ride fail this week. I had good intentions, but once I started this book...I just had to keep on reading!

Making the Grade: A

For My Thoughts

I do love me some Tess Gerritsen. She’s an auto buy author for me (even if they are in hardcover first). Her books always evoke a wide range of emotions. Her stories are always memorable, compelling and highly suspenseful. Sometimes the descriptions can be graphic since Gerritsen pulls no punches but you just have to keep turning the pages, no matter how cringe worthy the descriptions.

Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles are back in Gerritsen’s latest novel. Jane and Maura are great friends with a mutual respect for one another and have forged a strong friendship. In Ice Cold one woman battles for her life against evil forces and the elements, while the other races against the clock to save a friend.

If you’ve never read any books in this series, I wouldn’t suggest you start with this one. If you do want to give it a try, there is some back story provided but so much history exists in this series that you would be doing yourself a disservice by not starting with the amazing and unforgettable first book in the series The Surgeon. If you’ve been a follower all along, then buckle in for another great ride. Ice Cold was a chilling, roller-coaster ride that was worth the wait.

Medical examiner Maura Isles is kind of at a crossroads in her life and is in the midst of making a difficult, life changing decision in her personal relationship with Father Daniel Brophy (yes the Catholic kind of Father). So when she heads off to a medical conference in Montana, the time away allows for some personal reflection and a spur of the moment decision to accompany an old classmate she reconnects with at the conference, his daughter and another couple on a little sight-seeing side trip - will result in one of the worst decisions Maura ever makes.

A freak snowstorm and car trouble strands the group in their SUV in the middle of nowhere with no help in sight.  Cold, wet and forced to rely on each other for their survival, the group is forced to trek through the wilderness and fight the elements as they seek shelter in an abandoned settlement they happen upon called Kingdom Come (cue the spooky music). Gerritsen uses the elements in Ice Cold  to the fullest extent as this group struggles to stay alive.

It doesn’t take long to establish that something seriously bad happened among the deserted homes. The evil presence is palpable and Gerritsen is a master at making you feel like you are a part of the story and experience the emotions right along with the characters. There was lots of heart pounding tension and teeth gnashing as I flew through the pages.

Once homicide detective Jane Rizzoli finds out her good friend Maura is missing, she along with her FBI hubby Gabe and Father Daniel trek off to the wilds of Montana to search for Maura, leaving no stone unturned. Jane’s not about to let the local yokels give up on looking for Maura - no matter what the evidence points to.

The suspense is riveting, the story chilling and if you can figure out what was going on before the end, then kudos to you. If you plan to start this book then 1. Don’t start it at night - cuz it’s spooky and 2. You better block off a chunk of time because you won’t want to put it down until the last page is read.

From the Author's Website

In Wyoming for a medical conference, Boston medical examiner Maura Isles joins a group of friends on a spur-of-the-moment ski trip. But when their SUV stalls on a snow-choked mountain road, they’re stranded with no help in sight.
As night falls, the group seeks refuge from the blizzard in the remote village of Kingdom Come, where twelve eerily identical houses stand dark and abandoned. Something terrible has happened in Kingdom Come: Meals sit untouched on tables, cars are still parked in garages. The town’s previous residents seem to have vanished into thin air, but footprints in the snow betray the presence of someone who still lurks in the cold darkness—someone who is watching Maura and her friends.
Days later, Boston homicide detective Jane Rizzoli receives the grim news that Maura’s charred body has been found in a mountain ravine. Shocked and grieving, Jane is determined to learn what happened to her friend. The investigation plunges Jane into the twisted history of Kingdom Come, where a gruesome discovery lies buried beneath the snow. As horrifying revelations come to light, Jane closes in on an enemy both powerful and merciless—and the chilling truth about Maura’s fate.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Workout Wednesday: Personal Protection

See this smoking hawt cover? Yowza!! Definitely NOT the book to be reading at the gym and yet I keep on reading and peddling faster.

Pages read 239 pages
Riding Time 3 hours 10 minutes
Calories Burned 1019
Distance Peddled 47.12
(numbers are estimated-too busy to keep track!)

Making the Grade: B+

For My Thoughts

So my love affair with new-to-me authors continues with Personal Protection (Hauberk Protection) by Leah Braemel - yet another eBook for the read-n-ride challenge. I’d never even heard of Ms. Braemel before I discovered and started following her on Twitter. D’oh…she’s a fellow Canadian - why haven’t I read any of her books before?

So Itouch in hand, ebook loaded I had noooooo idea what to expect when I started Personal Protection…and I got waaaaay more than I expected. Erotica? BDSM? Who knew? And I’m reading it at the gym! I’m sure the hot flash and sweaty, flushed cheeks were not totally as a result of my workout.

Sam Watson may be the head honcho at his own upscale personal protection and security company Hauberk Security, but sometimes even the boss needs protection. When Sam starts receiving obscene pictures of himself doctored with his head blown off and then his highly secure apartment is broken into and trashed, his close friends and associates know it’s time to bring in the hired guns for his own protection. Question is: who’s he gonna call...Ghostbusters ( I couldn‘t resist)?  No silly! He’s got the best operatives right on his own payroll and there is no one better than Rosalinda “Rosie” Ramos.

Rosie is one of the best operatives working for Hauberk and she takes her job and responsibilities very seriously even if she is constantly being tested to prove her worth despite her small statue. So Rosie’s got mixed feelings when she’s tasked with being the lead operative on Sam’s protection detail because its such a huge honor and she doesn‘t want to risk her job or career. It's going to be a tough gig though considering she’s been jonsing for her hot, hunky employer for months and keeping those feelings under wraps and being around Sam 24/7 is going to push her to the limit.

What Rosie doesn’t realize is that her feelings are not all one-sided. Sam’s got a constant raging hard-on for the spicy, hot Latina whenever he even thinks about her. Let me just state that there was a lot of fantasizing going on about what these two wanted to do to each other *fans self*. Somehow they both manage to maintain (not for long) the Boss/Employee relationship(and not without a lot of cold showers) as they work to discover who’s out to eliminate Sam from the human race.

As these two grow closer Sam’s got serious issues with Rosie risking her life to protect him. He wants to be the boss; the protector; the dominant in their relationship. Which brings us to the other part of Sam’s life that he’s been keeping from Rosie and is hesitant to reveal. He’s actively involved in the Dom/s lifestyle and one of the founding members of a very exclusive club. Crackling Rosie’s education into this lifestyle was again *fans self* so smoking’ hawt!

Let us not forget during all this hawtness that someone wants Sam dead.

I must give kudos to Ms. Braemel for the ending of Personal Protection. The suspect everyone was on high alert for? I NEVER saw it coming. If you can figure out who the bad guy is….well you are much better at solving puzzles than me. I thought it was an excellent twist even though I am sure I was asking myself WTF just happened as I was reading. GOOD on you Ms. Braemel.

Even though this is book #2 in the series (and Sam probably made an appearance in book #1), I had no trouble starting with Personal Protection.

Disclaimer: Sam and Rosie weren’t the only ones in need of a cold shower during the reading of this eBook.

From the Author's Website

Read an Excerpt

She can cover him with one hand tied behind her back. Maybe two.

Sam Watson excels at keeping other people safe. Now a stalker is targeting him, but so what? A few doctored photos and a couple threatening phone calls are no big deal. He can watch his own back. Then again, the view from behind the sexy spitfire assigned to protect him isn’t so bad…

Rosalinda Ramos has managed to keep her attraction to Hauberk Security’s owner tightly under wraps. It’s just as well he doesn’t know. One slip—in the bedroom or on the job—will cost her her heart and her career, so she’s got only one thing on her mind. Protect Sam, whether he wants it or not.

The stakes—and the heat—rise exponentially when she discovers Sam belongs to an exclusive sex club—one she must investigate for potential suspects. Suddenly she finds herself immersed in a world that pushes her boundaries.

Sam delights in leading Rosie deep into his sexual shadows—until they go one game too far. Making him wonder if he can allow the woman he loves to take a bullet for him.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Sunday *Sigh*: My 33 Second Rule

Hey Brain! Yup it's me again with another installment of the Sunday *Sigh*.

When you workout at the gym, whether it's the treadmill, elliptical, stationary bike or weight machines, proper gym protocol dictates that as a courtesy to the other members you clean the machines when you are finished your workout. Because really do you want to be working out in someone else's sweat?

So the workout's complete, it's time to clean the machine. I amble over to the paper towel dispenser and I'm waiting and waiting and waiting for the person in front of me to get the heck out of my way...why is she taking so long...move it sista don't you know I've got miles to peddle and weights to lift?

Finally with my paper towel all spritzed up I waltz back to my elliptical, Itouch blaring tunes in my ears. One arm swiped and wiped on the elliptical and I'm working on the second, when I spy the man two machines over giving me the side eye and trying not to smirk. Mmmmmm what's up with him?

Light bulb moment! I'm cleaning the wrong machine! I was on the machine beside gym guy and he's trying not to laugh at me cleaning the wrong elliptical.

Shoulders squared, head held high I put the imaginary gun to my head and pull the trigger as I slink over to my machine and begin the wipe down process again as if I'd intended to clean the wrong machine all along.

I've just proven to myself once again that after 33 seconds...I can't remember anything.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Workout Wednesday: Last to Die

I Did Not Die While Riding Results
Pages read 432 pages
Riding Time 4 hours 1 minutes
Calories Burned 1489
Distance Peddled 76.24

**Rider's Disclaimer: It's getting harder and harder to finish a book within one week and yes this one took longer.**

Making the Grade: B-

For My Thoughts

Let me begin by saying that Kate Brady's debut novel in 2009 One Scream Away was one of my favorite books of the year. I fell in love with the book's hero Neil Sheridan, so when I found out that Brady’s next book Last To Die would feature his brother Mitch I certainly had high hopes.

Ms. Brady wastes no time getting right to the action in Last To Die with the murder of an ex-hooker and the prime suspect in her brutal murder Russell Sanders, a bigwig at the prestigious J.M.S. Foundation has now turned up missing as well. Coincidence? I thing not. Let the games begin.

Police Detective Dani Cole lands the murder investigation and she’s got a lot to prove and a lot on her plate. She‘s recently buried her dirty cop father, she's being watched by Internal Affairs like a bug under a microscope…cuz you know the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and now she has to deal with a blast from the past in the form of Mitch Sheridan - her teenage love. On a side note she’s got a really cool nickname…Nails…as in hard as nails…and she comes by her moniker honestly. This girl don’t take no S@#t from no one.

Mitch Sheridan world renown, award winning photojournalist and the force behind the J.M.S. Foundation, never intended to return to Lancaster Maryland, but when he receives word his mentor and good friend has gone missing and is being investigated for the murder of a dead prostitute, Mitch knows it’s time to bite the bullet and return home to face the music…and her name is Dani Cole.

It’s been 18 years since Dani and Mitch’s young lover's hearts were torn apart and these two definitely still have a lot of unresolved feelings for one other. Truthfully for me 18 years seemed a tad long to be carrying a torch for someone, but maybe that’s just because I can’t remember what I did last week?

Last To Die is a suspenseful thriller that has it all. Ms. Brady weaves in lots of layers as the investigation takes many twists and turns before the killer is finally revealed. Dani shines as the lead investigator and Mitch makes sure he’s got her back as they team up to solve the case. Although the romance between Dani and Mitch takes a back seat to the investigation, the two do manage to reconnect along the way and discover that what they say about your first love is true - no matter the time, the miles travelled or the circumstances - you never forget your first true love.

I thought Last To Die had an interesting, fast-paced plot and certainly kept me turning the pages, but it did't grab me the way the story and characters in One Scream Away did. A solid sophomore effort.

Read an Excerpt

Back Cover Blurb

A ruthless killer hides in plain sight, someone no one believes is capable of murder. Within a week, six women will be murdered, all punished for their dark pasts. Detective Dani Cole is determined to track down this serial killer whose victims include a young woman she pulled out of a life of crime. Her investigation leads her to a photography foundation and the renowned photographer Mitch Sheridan, a man she she fell in love with years ago but has tried to forget. Dani and Mitch are instantly attracted to each other again, though their troubled pasts keep them from getting too close. Together, through the course of the investigation, they unearth a dark chain of deception that leads to a killer who is closer than they think.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Review: Simply Too Irresistible To Put Down

Simply Irresistible
Grand Central
September 26, 2010

Maddie Moore’s whole life needs a makeover.

In one fell swoop, Maddie loses her boyfriend (her decision) and her job (so not her decision). But rather than drowning her sorrows in bags of potato chips, Maddie leaves L.A. to claim the inheritance left by her free-spirited mother–a ramshackle inn nestled in the little coastal town of Lucky Harbor, Washington.

Starting over won’t be easy. Yet Maddie sees the potential for a new home and a new career–if only she can convince her two half-sisters to join her in the adventure. But convincing Tara and Chloe will be difficult because the inn needs a big makeover too.

The contractor Maddie hires is a tall, dark-haired hottie whose eyes–and mouth–are making it hard for her to remember that she’s sworn off men. Even harder will be Maddie’s struggles to overcome the past, though she’s about to discover that there’s no better place to call home than Lucky Harbor.

Making the Grade: A-

For My Thoughts

Jill Shalvis 1st book in her Lucky Harbor series Simply Irresistible was truly irresistible.

There’s lots to love about Simply Irresistible and Jill Shalvis knows how to deliver a witty, cast of loveable characters in her newest novel about the folks of Lucky Harbor -population 2,100 lucky people and 10,100 shellfish.

First of all how can you not love Maddie Moore a girl after my own heart with her love of potato chips whether she‘s eating them or wearing the tell-tail crumbs on her shirt. The poor girl is at a crossroads in her life, recently finding herself jobless, she takes to the highway and heads to Lucky Harbor where she hopes to convince her two half-sisters, Tara and Chloe into renovating and running the ramshackle Inn left to them by their slightly eccentric mother Phoebe Traeger.

Maddie’s barely within the city limits when she almost wipes Jax Cullen aka Hot Biker Guy and his motorcycle off the face of the earth. The smiles and giggles started early - it only took until page 6 when I had my first LOL moment. Here's a sample.

What she needed now was an exit plan. So she put her phone to her ear, pretending it was vibrating. “Hello,” she said to no one. “Yes I’ll be right there. “ She smiled, like look at me, so busy I really have to go and turning away, she lifted a hand in a wave, still talking into the phone to avoid an awkward good-bye, except---
Her phone rang. And not the pretend kind. Risking a peek at Hot Biker Guy over her shoulder, she found him brows up, looking amused.

Ohhhhhhh Maddie you are so BUSTED!

Another enduring quality I loved about Simply Irresistible was how Ms. Shalvis started every chapter with some words of wisdom from Mamma Phoebe Traeger. These little quips set the tone for what’s to come in each chapter. Here are just a few note-worthy gems outta the mouth of mom:

“Don’t take life too seriously. After all, none of us are getting out alive anyway.”
“Just when you thing you’ve hit rock bottom, someone will hand you a shovel.”
“Experience is something you get…after you need it.”

Lucky Harbor is your typical small town clichĂ©…where everybody knows your name and is all up in your biz-nass. What's not so small town are the quaint names of several establishments including the Eat Me CafĂ© and the Love Shack Bar. Loves it!

Finally how can you not smile at the love story between Maddie and Jax. There’s lots of trademark witty, sexually-laced Shalvis repartee between this duo. Here’s just a tease for you. Jax notices Maddie’s preoccupation with being eaten…by the big bad wolf…or whoever…and calls her on it.

He sent her a mischievous glance. “What is it with you and things eating you?”

A nervous laugh burst from her, and he let loose with a smile that was just wicked enough to boost her pulse and scare her at the same time. “Tell you what,” he said silkily. “If I ever get the chance to eat you, I promise you’ll like it.”

Whoa! Promises, promises….*fans self*

Simply Irresistible is a fun, fast-paced read and since this is the first book in the series, we can expect more hi-jinx from Maddie “The Mouse”, Tara “The Steel Magnolia Southern Bell” and Chloe “The Wild Child”.

In the market for a few laughs? Then Simply Irresistible is the one you’ve been waiting for…so don’t wait! Go! Read it! Now!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Workout Wednesday: The Darkest Hour

Can I Haz Abs Like Those if I Keep Ridin' my Bike?

Pages read 290 pages
Riding Time 3 hours 26 minutes
Calories Burned 1320
Distance Peddled 64.80

Making the Grade: B

For My Thoughts

I've noticed a peculiar trend with a lot of books I'm reading lately. Lots of hot, bare-chested, rock-hard man abs on the covers. Not a bad thing to be looking at as I'm peddling away the miles (yes I'm sneaking pecs peaks - it keeps me the Hot Cover model gets an A).

The Darkest Hour is the 1st book in a new series by Maya Banks featuring the hot, sexy men of the Kelly family. These alpha males are all active or ex-military and are the brains behind the guns for hire organization they run known as Kelly Group International or KGI.

There were a lot of characters introduced early on in The Darkest Hour. In addition to meeting all 6 brothers of the Kelly clan plus Ma and Pa Kelly and the stray teenage girl they’ve taken, we also meet all the assorted operatives who work for KGI. I will admit to information overload while trying to keep track of all the players (an excel spreadsheet might have come in handy). One thing's for sure - Ms. Banks has lots of interesting options for future books in the series.

The Darkest Hour is Ethan Kelly's story, who when we first meet him is in a very dark place. He‘s been finding solace in the bottom of a bottle of booze, mourning the loss of his wife Rachel as the first year anniversary of her death approaches.

When a mysterious envelope arrives with proof Rachel is alive and being held captive in a South American hell-hole (and has been for the past year), Ethan's galvanized into action and enlists his brother's help and KGI's resources to mount a rescue operation.

Rachel Kelly has somehow managed to survive an unimaginable ordeal over the past year. Addicted to drugs and suffering from withdrawal, memory loss and being held captive by a drug cartel for over a year will mess with your mind and body. Rachel is fragile and damaged and has a huge mountain to climb as she attempts to re-enter civilization and reconnect with the man she’s married to and a family she can’t remember.

Rachel may be home safe and sound but her troubles are far from over because someone is majorly pissed she's risen like a phoenix from the ashes. The circumstances surrounding who went to the trouble and expense to fake Rachel's death and then keep her hostage was an intriguing component of the story and definitely kept me reading.

Ethan and Rachel's journey is a love story about second chances, learning to love again and rediscovering a lost love. I found the action slow to build between them and given the circumstances, I don't think it would have been realistic or appropriate for them to just jump right into the sack. Ethan is very understanding, patient and tender when dealing with Rachel but there's a secret he's been keeping from her and it proves to be a major stumbling block in regaining the trust in their relationship. I just wanted to shout at him “Dude” it’s not that bad. Just tell her already and save yourself a boatload of grief!“

The Darkest Hour is a good beginning to a new series and I’m sure future books featuring the men (or women) of KGI will only get better.

For Fans of: Suzanne Brockmann, Stephanie Tyler, Christy Reece

Read an Excerpt
Publisher: Berkley (September 7, 2010)

From The Author's Website
The Darkest Hour
KGI Series, Book 1

The Kelly Group International (KGI): A super elite, top secret, family-run business.
Qualifications: High intelligence, rock hard body, military background.
Mission: Hostage/kidnap victim recovery. Intelligence gathering. Handling jobs the US government can’t…
It’s been one year since ex-Navy SEAL Ethan Kelly last saw his wife Rachel alive. Overwhelmed by grief and guilt over his failures as a husband, Ethan shuts himself off from everything and everyone.

His brothers have tried to bring Ethan into the KGI fold, tried to break through the barriers he's built around himself, but Ethan refuses to respond… until he receives anonymous information claiming Rachel is alive.

To save her, Ethan will have to dodge bullets, cross a jungle, and risk falling captive to a deadly drug cartel that threatens his own demise. And even if he succeeds, he’ll have to force Rachel to recover memories she can’t and doesn’t want to relive—the minute by minute terror of her darkest hour—for their love, and their lives, may depend on it.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Is it Hot in Here..Cuz I'm Burning Up!

Burnig Up by Susan Andersen
Publisher: HQN Books (August 31, 2010)

read an excerpt

She's So Good at Being Bad

Though it’s been years since the infamous Macy O’James stepped foot in Sugarville, Washington, everyone remembers what she supposedly did. The tiny town is still buzzing about her crime and lack of punishment.

Now back to lend her family a hand, Macy vows to hold her head high—especially at her high school reunion. But forget about the hottest man in Sugarville escorting her. Though she and fire chief Gabriel Donovan generate enough sparks to burn down the town, he’s a law-abiding, line-towing straight arrow. So not her type.

But, maybe—just maybe—he could change her mind about that.

Making the Grade: C+

For My Thoughts:

Cover Art: Smokin'(get it?) Hawt.
I mean who doesn't like their man a little dirty, in a white tee and with just a little hint of his rock hard abs on display?

Best LOL Line:
Set-up: Gabe's making a list and checking it twice before leaving the house for a date with Macy.

Testicles, spectacles, wallet and watch.  (umm don't leave home without em).

Women take note. Make sure to pass this important check list along to your significant other because this one's a keeper!

On to the Main Attraction:

She's the girl everyone loves to hate and the good folks in the small town of Sugarville sure know how to hold a grudge because it's been 10 years since Macy O'James fled (read practically run out of town) with the ink barely dry on her high school dipolma.

Watch out Surgarville cuz Macy O'James is back in town and her new motto when she blows back into town is: "If you can't beat em, join em".

Macy's actually made a name for herself in LA getting her big break starring in a few racy music videos and now working behind the scenes on videos creatively, but she's headed home to tend to some family business.  Her cousin Janna (who's more like a sister to her) recently suffered an injury in a car accident so it's Nursemaid Macy to the rescue until Janna can get back on her feet, literally.

Gabe Donovan is Sugarville's new recently transplanted fire chief and he takes one look at Macy, in her little blue tap pants, come f-me shoes, her blonde Shirley Temple wig complete with a little sailor hat perched upon her head and immediately believes all the hype he's ever heard about the infamous Ms. O'James.

In Gabe's defence he has his own reasons for mistrusting women considering his troubled past with his own loving Momma, but that doesn't stop his hormones from raging like a wild fire out of control whenever Macy's within spitting distance.

There's a cute secondary romance with Macy's rockstar BFF, big, bad tattooed Jack Savage (think a younger, sexier version of Mick Jagger) and Gabe's ex, Grace the prim and proper school marm.

And for those looking who like a little suspense with their contempory romance, there's a pesky little fire-bug in town deliberately setting the house on fire.

Finally there was an unexpected twist revealed at the end of Burning Up during the ten year High School reunion that I did not see coming. I always enjoy it when an author can pull a fast one over on me. Good on ya Ms. Andersen.

For Fans of:  Susan Mallery, Toni Blake

Reminded me a lot of: SugarCreek by Toni Blake