Monday, December 31, 2007

Read in 2007

Interesting to no one but me...

I'm going to be making some changes on the blog tomorrow, and I'll be getting rid of my "Read in 2007" list on the sidebar. So for posterity, I'm going to paste it here. I'm having a quiet New Year's Eve. It's 11:00pm and everyone else is asleep. I literally just finished my last book of 2007, and it was great. I'll be reviewing Deep Magic by Joy Nash at TGTBTU. I'll link when it's up. I have a review of Scions: Resurrection by Patrice Michelle up over there now.

Without further ado:

* Deep Magic by Joy Nash
* Scions: Resurrection by Patrice Michelle
* To the Victor Go the Spoils by Sherrill Quinn
* Mistress on Trial by Kate Hardy
* Upon the Midnight Clear by Sherrilyn Kenyon
* The Six Month Mistress by Katherine Garbera
* Holy Smokes by Katie MacAlister
* Blame it on the Dog by Amy Frazier
* Coulda Been a Cowboy by Brenda Novak
* Back to Haunt You by Kate Hill
* Fairyville by Emma Holly
* Shelter Mountain by Robyn Carr
* Virgin River by Robyn Carr
* Demon of Her Dreams by Sherrill Quinn
* Mine Till Midnight by Lisa Kleypas
* Boundless by Dean, Dee, Galace
* Lover Unbound by J.R. Ward
* The Farmer Takes a Wife by Barbara Gale
* A Family of Her Own by Brenda Novak
* Howl at the Moon by Christine Warren
* Darkness Rising by Cynthia Cooke
* Driven by Eve Kenin
* Measure of a Man by Bonnie Dee
* Big Girls Don't Cry by Brenda Novak
* Father Material by Kimberly VanMeter
* Accidentally Expecting by Michelle Celmer
* Dangerous Lover by Lisa Marie Rice
* Familiar Stranger by Michele Hauf
* One More Time by Claire Cross
* Ghosts and Roses by Kelley St. John
* Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
* Starkissed by Lanette Curington
* Raintree: Sanctuary by Beverly Barton
* Finders Keepers by Linnea Sinclair
* The Strength of the Pack by Jorrie Spencer
* Pregnancy of Passion by Lucy Monroe
* Lady Strumpet by Gia Dawn
* Demon Moon by Meljean Brook
* Mistress for a Weekend by Susan Napier
* Fortune's Forbidden Woman by Heidi Betts
* Power of Two by Patti O'Shea
* Double Trouble by Claire Cross
* Beyond The Edge by Susan Kearney
* No Humans Involved by Kelley Armstrong
* No Rest For The Wicked by Kresley Cole
* All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris
* Talons: Kiss Me Deadly by Shannon Stacey
* The Demon You Know by Christine Warren
* If Angels Burn by Lynn Viehl
* Step into Darkness by Naomi Bellis
* Talons: Seize the Hunter by Michelle M. Pillow
* Persecuted by Lisa Childs
* Deadly Affairs by Brenda Joyce
* Realm Immortal: The Stone Queen by Michelle M. Pillow
* Realm Immortal: Faery Queen by Michelle M. Pillow
* Realm Immortal: King of the Unblessed by Michelle M. Pillow
* Anything for You by Sarah Mayberry
* Wolf at the Door by Christine Warren
* Blood Secrets by Vivi Anna
* Rock Star by Roslyn Hardy Holcomb
* Lover Revealed by J.R. Ward
* Simple Jess by Pamela Morsi
* Games of Command by Linnea Sinclair
* She’s No Faerie Princess by Christine Warren
* The Scorsolini Marriage Bargain by Lucy Monroe
* The Bought and Paid For Wife by Bronwyn Jameson
* Jack Riordan’s Baby by Anne Mather
* Love is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield
* My Sunshine by Catherine Anderson
* Guilty Secrets by Laura Leone
* Breaking Point by Suzanne Brockmann
* Demon Angel by Meljean Brook
* Man in a Million by Jessica Bird
* Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Do you see the tumbleweeds?

Man, I've been neglecting this place! Well, I haven't been reading too much either. I debated whether or not to give up, but I'm not ready to yet. So hopefully I shall be back to blogging (and reading) form soon. Just wanted to say Hello and thanks to anybody who is still dropping in. Hope your holidays went well. Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Mistress by any other name...

would not be half so interesting...

I have to admit, I am always drawn to books with the word "mistress" in the title. And there's no dearth of them over at Harlequin. I think it's right up there with "baby", "bachelor", "tycoon", "millionaire" and "virgin" for words used most often in a title. [I'm just geek enough to love it if someone would do a statistical breakdown of Harlequin titles.] I am not certain what is so compelling about the idea of a mistress. My understanding of "Mistress" is that it is a woman with whom a married man is having an affair, or in the more historical sense, a woman who is set up in a house with accounts and such, in exchange for which she provides her "protector" with sexual favors. So what's the appeal? Infidelity isn't often an interesting subject for romance, and the idea of a "kept woman" in this day and age seems unreal. I'm sure it happens, but really, get a life! Get a job. Unless the guy provides a 401K and dental. And certainly, it seems as though some of these books aren't too clear on what it means to be a mistress.

For example, I recently read Mistress on Trial by Kate Hardy. I have no idea how the mistress thing comes into play, other than the fact that the hero and heroine are sleeping with each other. I bought this on the basis of the excerpt and because it's and "opposites attract" premise, with a stuffy lawyer and artsy chick. But it was quite a pleasant surprise, and lived up to the excerpt. Leo Ballantyne starts out as a typical Presents hero, glowering and making nasty assumptions about the heroine based on half-assed info. Rose Carter, a vintage clothing dealer, makes quite a few assumptions herself. But in the second chapter, he calls to apologize! The two realize they maybe have got it wrong. As they find they have more in common as they think, they both fight their attraction to each other, thinking that the differences are too big to overcome. There are no big misunderstandings, no contrivances, just two confused people head over heels. I particularly liked Leo, who went after Rose with the same drive that made him so successful. He even says "I love you" first. It almost seemed to real, lacking that entertaining but ridiculous element of unreality that many HPs have. I'm giving it a B, and I'd recommend it to those who are leery of HP. I'd definitely read her again. Note: It is veddy British, and some of the language and legal stuff is different from the US.

On the other hand, much is made of the heroine's "mistress" status in Katherine Garbera's Six Month Mistress. [Look at this cover. The guy is supposed to be suave, sexy businessman. But to me, it looks like the former fat girl with her best buddy (and co-president of the drama club and art society) at the prom. He's grabbing her chin like, "No, no, no, sweetheart. If you eat one more cocktail frank, you're going to bust out of that fabulous dress. Then you'll never get that adorable jock." I love teen movies.] In exchange for billionaire Jeremy Harper's help, the struggling Bella McNamara agrees to be his mistress for six months. There's a legal contract and everything. It ain't no thang for Bella, who has been into Jeremy forever. Jeremy has wanted Bella for years as well. So why doesn't he just ask her out? Well because his dad was happier with his mistresses than with his wife, so Jeremy figures that's the way to go. Whatever. Being mindful of her feelings, Jeremy lets everyone assume they are girlfriend/boyfriend, keeping the true nature of the arrangement secret. Again, why not just make her your girlfriend? Jeremy's kind of a bonehead. I loved the bit where Bella hesitates opening one of his gifts in front of her assistant, because the gift one gives a mistress is probably different from one you give a girlfriend. The possibilities abound--is it trashy lingerie? A feather boa? Birth Control? Silly contrivances aside, this was a fast read which would probably appeal to people who like these kind of books. Bella was quite a good heroine. Too bad Jeremy seemed monumentally clueless at times. A C+. Eh, real or fake mistresses, I'm sure I'll keep reading 'em. I guess "Fuckbuddy on Trial" or "Six Month Girlfriend" just resonates differently.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

And the Winner is...

Image from Someecards. [Man, I love that site!]


Jennie wins the Harlequin Holiday Prize Package, which includes Mistress on Trial by Kate Hardy (Harlequin Presents, Doing Ireland! by Kate Hoffman (Harlequin Blaze), For the Sheik's Pleasure by Annie West (Harelquin Presents), Restless Wind by Aimee Thurlo (Harlequin Intrigue), Accidentally Expecting by Michelle Celmer (Silhouette Special Edition), Coulda Been a Cowboy by Brenda Novak (Harlequin Superromance). FWIW, I read my copy of Mistress on Trial, and it was quite the pleasant surprise.

Email me at dempseymurphy at optonline dot net with your mailing address. Thanks to all who entered. They were a funny lot.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Sticky:Have a Harlequin Christmas!!!

Image courtesy of Some ECards.

Having a contest, scroll down for new stuff.

If you don't get emails from Harlequin, let me tell you to go there now. They are running a Twelve Deals of Christmas Thing. Today's deal is 80% off of their Bargain outlet. Shit's like 95 cents each. Got me thinking, since I went on a Harlequin mini-binge over the weekend...

Many readers are probably like I used to be, thinking that Harlequins are full of secret babies, sheiks, passive women and other cliches and anachronisms. Perhaps you are slightly intrigued but unsure whether or not to spend your hard earned money on something that has "Mistress" in the title for no apparent reason. Well, you're right about the fake mistress, the overbearing men and the lack of condoms, but categories can also be very readable. Given their short length, they're the perfect quick fix, making it easy to try something you wouldn't normally.

In honor of the holiday season, I am going to give away a prize pack of new and gently used Harlequins. Here's your chance to experiment with category romance. The package includes:

Mistress on Trial by Kate Hardy (Harlequin Presents)
Doing Ireland! by Kate Hoffman (Harlequin Blaze)
For the Sheik's Pleasure by Annie West (Harelquin Presents)
Restless Wind by Aimee Thurlo (Harlequin Intrigue)
Accidentally Expecting by Michelle Celmer (Silhouette Special Edition)
Coulda Been a Cowboy by Brenda Novak (Harlequin Superromance)

All you have to do is comment and tell me about the worst present you ever got, for any occasion. One lucky commenter will be randomly chosen on December 15th. C'mon you know you want'em.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I've joined the Crusade!

Sigh, ugh! Tootie won Top Model. I think I'm hung up on her Tootie hair. She would've been so much prettier with, say, a flattering cut. Anyhoo, it was a pretty boring season (excuse me, cycle) altogether. At least I have Project Runway to keep me going. And perhaps, someday, The Office will be back.

Given the lack of appealing tv viewing, I was keen to hop on board the North & South train. If you've been by Ramblings on Romance or Sula's Space, you may have noticed a lot of posts devoted to this 2004 BBC miniseries. No, it's not the one with Patrick Swayze and Lesley-Anne Warren, as I first suspected. This is an adaption of Elizabeth Gaskell's 1855 novel about the industrialization of England. As soon as I read a little bit, I knew I had to watch it. I lurve BBC miniseries. There is nothing like beautiful people in beautiful costume swanning about lavish settings. Plus there is always restrained, yet smoldering passion. Good times, good times. One of the best things about becoming involved with blogging was finding like-minded souls. People who become obssessed with things like this or The Anne of Green Gables/Avonlea miniseries etc.

Okay, the show. North and South centers on Margaret Hale, the daughter of a country vicar who uproots his family to Milton, an industrial city in northern England. The dark, dingy city full of mills is nothing short of complete culture shock, and Margaret's low opinion of the area and its people is cemented when she meets John Thornton, a local mill owner. Thornton happens to be disciplining one of his employees for smoking. By beating the shit out of him. John Thornton is a self-made man who saved his family from poverty. Although he is wealthy, there is a great social divide between the two. Their deepening and changing feelings for each other are challenged by a union strike which tests the city and everyone's way of life.

North & South not only thrilled the romantic in me, but also the English major. This is a very interesting portrayal of a changing society. Margaret represents the traditional aristocratic way of life. Even though her family is not wealthy, she obviously has family and social connections, and she has that air of superiority. Her way of life is the best, and she assumes that those "in trade" lack the sensitivity that she has. John Thornton represents the more modern way. He had to work for money and position, and doesn't hesitate to hold on to what he has with whatever means at his disposal. He is honest and blunt, and basically kind, but he lacks the eloquence and refinement that seem important to Margaret. It's idealism vs. pragmatism, naivete vs. cold-hard experience, the ivory tower vs. down in the trenches. Margaret seemed overly harsh and kind of bratty at first, but she's definitely a product of her upbringing. And there is a third force here, personified by Nicholas Higgins, which is threatening to both of their ways of life. We see the beginnings of the working class attempting to take some power for themselves,through unionization and striking. Such actions are serious challenges to Thornton's wealth and power and to Margaret's assumptions about herself, Thornton and the workers.

But opposites attract, and oh the romance is hot! These are two people who do not want to be attracted to be attracted to each other. But they are, and they fight it, and it's fascinating to watch. The casting and acting was wonderful. Richard Armitage as John Thornton cuts quite the distinguished profile (he is extremely hot). He is fabulous too. You can see all of his conflicted emotions and his struggle to contain them. Daniela Denby-Ashe (as Margaret) is grave, pretty and luminous. She stands out among the dingy surroundings. She is intelligent and blunt and it's easy to see the attraction for Thornton. And the ending! The "train scene." It's anachronistic and unrealistic, but ohmygod they're finally kissing and yay! I re-watched it five or six times.

This was great entertainment. A sexy, sweeping romance set against a fascinating historical background. I've got to give props to the rest of the cast, particularly Sinead Cusack as Thornton's steely mother. I have to re-watch before it has to go back to the library, and I think I must buy it for myself. Count me as a new devotee.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Holiday Happenings...

I was so excited yesterday. My copy of North and South had finally arrived at work. I was already to put the kids to bed early and join the Crusade! Then I fell asleep on the floor while waiting for HBomb to fall asleep (Yes, I have to keep him company until he goes to sleep. Sigh.) I woke up at 1:40 with the passing thought of turning it on, then went and passed out in my bed. I'm starting it tonight and nobody's stopping me.

Anyway, there's some fun holiday related things happening in blogland. First off, stop by TGTBTU for the duodecimal celebration. All manner of readers and writers contributing their romance related lists. While there, check out my review of the fourth Aisling Grey book, Holy Smokes, by Katie MacAlister. Mediocre, but I really liked the first two. For more info, see here.

Then a group of bloggers, many of whom are new to me, are doing an advent event. Each day leading up to Christmas, a blogger is writing about Christmas. I look forward to spending more time reading up on this. To see the what, when and who, go to Marg's blog.

And finally, the ladies of Book Binge are doing a totally awesome contest. They're giving away an Ebookwise! Although I hold out hope of making my IPod Touch into an ebook reader, I really like the Ebookwise device. You just have to complete a holiday meme. See mine after the cut.

Christmas Meme:

1. What is your favorite Christmas romance to re-read each year?
I feel like Scrooge, but right now I can't think of a single Christmas romance I've read.

2. What is your favorite Christmas movie/show?
How the Grinch Stole Christmas, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. It's schmaltzy, but I try to catch Love, Actually every time it's on.

3. What is your favorite Christmas cookie?
Good old chocolate chips

4. When do you start Christmas shopping?
I started before Thanksgiving this year. It actually made my life easier, but now I have to wrap everything.

5. Do you re-gift?
Occasionally, but only if I think the gift is something the other person would enjoy and I have it or similar things already.

6. What is your favorite Christmas song?
I like traditional Christmas music sung by choirs and what not. Otherwise it's Do They Know It's Christmas (Live Aid), Christmas Wrapping (The Waitresses) or The Barenaked Ladies/Sarah MacLachlan version of God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen. Last year I bought my first non-classical Christmas Album, One More Drifter in the Snow by Aimee Mann. I like it a lot.

7. When do you get your Christmas tree?
A week or two before Christmas.

8. Wrapping presents: Love it or hate it?
HAAAATE! Thank God for gift bags.

9. Who is the hardest person to buy for?
My in-laws hands down. Thank God for Omaha Steaks.

10. Christmas tree: Real or artificial?
We're thinking about going for a fake tree this year. I prefer real ones, but I'm bad at making them last. And the needles, oy vey.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Some SuperRomance...

So I read two Harlequin Supeerromances over the weekend. I am finding myself enjoying the line, although, the books aren't necessarily awesome. They are character-driven stories, and they often have out of the ordinary settings, characters and premises. They're a nice change of pace.

Coulda Been a Cowboy by Brenda Novak
Miniseries: A Dundee, Idaho Book
Mini-Synopsis: A football player takes custody of his illegitimate and unwanted son. Trying to stay out of scandal's way and get back into playing shape, Tyler Garnier, accepts a former teammate's offer of a cabin in Dundee Idaho. Now he just needs to find someone to keep his kid out of the way. Frumpy, poor Dakota Brown seems perfect. Although the two seem like total opposites, and Dakota doesn't respect Tyler at first, they strike up an unlikely friendship. And perhaps these two very different people are exactly what each other need.

This is the fourth book I've read by Brenda Novak. She always has interestingly flawed characters and unusual plotlines. However, in the past, I felt that the romance aspect kind of went by the wayside. In CBaC, the focus is firmly on the characters' relationship. Tyler was not nearly as unsympathetic as he could have been. He is singularly focused on his career, and just particularly clueless about how attached he really is to his son, and later his nanny. Dakota is a practical, intelligent woman who has been held back by tragedy and family. I liked the way their relationship developed. They had a nice friendship, and when they got together it was because they really knew and liked each other. The things that held the story back for me were that a potentially huge conflict regarding the babymomma was wrapped too quickly and pat and the fact that Tyler carried on with his "I can't be a family man" schtick for far too long. But still a B. Novak is an author to try.

Blame it on the Dog by Amy Frazier
Miniseries: Singles...with Kids
Mini-Synopsis: A San Francisco artist with a twelve year old son and a rambunctious mutt, finds herself in need of a "dog behaviorist." The trainer's calm, stern demeanor and approach to disciplining animals alternately infuriate and intrigue Selena Milano. Jack Quinn finds himself fascinated by the mercurial Selena, bringing up emotions he hasn't felt since the death of his wife. But will these opposites be tripped up by Selena's need for independence?

This is the first book I've read by Amy Frazier. She has a nice writing style, and I read this book in a matter of hours. I liked the funky SF setting, and the unusual occupation of the hero and heroine. Selena is an installation artist, and Jack rehabilitates dogs and runs a huge rescue center. However the book suffered from an issue that I find happens often in books of this ilk. I'm always attracted to stories with free-spirited heroines and conservative heroes, but that "free-spirited" label tends to mean immature and bratty behavior on the part of the heroine. Selena is no exception. Her insistence on "self-reliance" and fear of losing control over her son, cause her to treat Jack like crap way too many times. I grew increasingly exasperated, and wanted him to cut and run. Jack was a great guy, but not nearly as uptight as you would think. He feel like a ton of bricks right away, and pursued Selena even though she was unpleasant to him. I wished he had a little more fight. When she changed her mind at the end I wasn't positive she wouldn't change it again. This one gets a C+. But I would try this author again, with a different storyline.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Some Christmas Cheer...

I love this song!

Okay, amusing myself. I haven't actually seen this video in years. As I was watching it, these thoughts ran through my head. Perhaps yours too...I wrote some of them down.

It's Bob Geldof! The man, the myth!...Who's that guy? Oh it's Paul Young. He sang "Every time you go away, you take a piece of meat with you" (as my sister liked to sing it)...Sing it, Boy George!...Why did Phil Collins get stuck playing the drums?....George Michael,back when we thought he was straight...then again, eighties hair and fashion made everyone look gay...Why so unhappy, Sting? Don't want to feed the World?...Sing it Bono!!...Hmmm, lots of people I don't recognize...More Paul Young (he must've been more popular in the UK, he carried this song)...Lots more do-gooding British musicians I don't recognize...Bananarama was awesome...Sting still looks uncomfortable and unhappy...maybe b/c someone's smoking, how rude...I think it's Jody Whatley...heh, one of the other guys from Culture Club...Ok, who the heck is that guy?...and fade.

First snow of the winter. Reading and blogging ahoy!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I'm tired...

Hey, did you know I've been blogging for two years now? This is one of the longest stretches of time that I've stayed with a hobby. It all began with this, on 11/14/05. Sigh. How far we've come. Or not.

Anyhoo, life has been super hectic, but that's name of the game this time of year. H-Bomb is still sick. He puked at school yesterday. Apparently due to to an ear infection. WTF? I know it's the school thing, but he was such a hale and hearty kid. A walking advertisement for the bennies of breastfeeding. I'm taking advantage by having a lounging around day. I'm sitting on my butt, reading and posting.

Although I've been leaving this blog to languish, I've been slutting around again. My first post at Access Romance/Reader's Gab can be seen here. What do you think of pop culture saturating romance? I also reviewed Fairyville by Emma Holly at TGTBTU. Lisabea, have you read any Emma Holly? May help you with the old slump. Well written ER in several subgenres.

I'm calling out to the internets, has anybody successfully made their Ipod Touch into an Ebook reader? I got one from my hubby recently, and a bit of poking around suggests that I can hack it, as DA Jane was able to do with her Iphone. I was able to get the Installer and the Ebooks app. onto my Iphone, but from there it went weird. I am having major difficulty figuring out how to get the files onto the Ipod. I have a feeling that the different directions assume a level of knowledge and technical expertise that I do not have. I got a "Network Connection Refused" message every time I tried this, and I found some other stuff here, but the easiest ways to do it seem to require a Mac OS. Word seems to be that Apple will be coming out with its own Ebook app in February 2008. Perhaps I should just wait. This guy found a way of doing it without hacking the IPod, but again I'm clueless. Not tech savvy enough to know what "Apache" and shit means. Bye the bye, if you're considering an e-book device of some kind, get thee to Jane's series at Dear Author. Start here, and you can access the other installments as well. Lots of good information. Be sure to read the comments for other opinions and suggestions.

Happy Turkey Day!!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Take Me Home, Country Roads...

One of my least favorite romance storylines is the one where the city girl ends up in the country, learns the value of hard work and country ways, and gives end her materialistic life to be a rancher's wife or something. I often find it heavy handed and hokey, which is weird because I love it on tv, and I often entertain fantasies of moving to the middle of nowhere. But Robyn Carr's Virgin River trilogy had been given high marks by some bloggers I respect, and I had picked up the books at the library for $1.50. Needing a change of pace I decided to give it a go.

Melinda Monroe, an L.A. nurse practioner/certified nurse midwife, impulsively accepts a job in the small town of Virgin River, California. She is looking for an escape after suffering the tragic loss of her husband. Virgin River begins with some stuff right out of Northern Exposure: Mel drives off the muddy road, and gets rescued by an crotchety old man who turns out to be the doctor she was hired to assist. He takes her to her disgusting cabin, where she promptly falls through the porch and back into the mud. Quickly realizing that this was a colossal mistake, she ends up at the local bar and grill, owned by a gorgeous ex-Marine, and finds out that the old Doc didn't want her around, anyway. The next morning, planning to make a quick exit, Mel literally stumbles over a newborn baby girl on the doctor's doorstep. Her calling won't allow her to leave an abandoned child. And thus, Mel's plans slowly start to change as she finds a new beginning in Virgin River.

This book started off well enough. I knew what was going to happen: Mel would fall in love with the eccentric residents of the town, with country medicine and with the ex-Marine, Jack Sheridan. I liked everything, but my attention started to flag, as it has been lately. I even put it down for a couple of days. Yesterday I decided to give it one more chance while waiting in the OT office for my son. And I became completely engrossed and polished off the book in a matter of hours. When I finished, I sighed, popped a cold one in honor of the bar setting, and opened up the next book, Shelter Mountain. I read Shelter Mountain into the wee hours of the night, so engrossed with these characters was I, and finishing it earlier this afternoon. Later this evening I will probably begin Whispering Rock. I need the closure!

I really fell in love with the characters in Virgin River. The characterization was very strong in this book, the setting very vivid. But what really stood out to me was the way Carr focused on the internal conflicts of the heroine and hero. Mel fears that she will never get past her grief and love again. As her relationship with Jack develops, she feels almost as though she is betraying her husband, as well as fearing losing someone again. Jack was a lovely hero, a strong and steady type. He had always been married to the Marines, so when he falls like a ton of bricks for Mel, it takes him by surprise. But he fears he will always come second in her heart. It was sexy, romantic, moving and emotional and no big misunderstandings or contrivances. Just a troubled soul finding home and love again. A B+.

I was intrigued by Jack's Marine buddy and bar cook, Preacher, so I dove into his story, Shelter Mountain, right away. Preacher is a big, scary looking guy who keeps to himself. Late one rainy night as Preacher is closing up, Paige Lassiter comes into the bar with her son Christopher. Right away, he can tell she's in trouble (the split lip and black eye being a clue), and he feels driven to help. Preacher is a really shy guy, who has always hung back because people find his looks intimidating. But as he gets involved with Paige and Christopher, and falls in love, it gives him a new confidence and purpose. In Virgin River, Paige finally begins to feel safe from her abusive husband. She gets back her confidence as well, and can't help but fall in love with Preacher, who loves and accepts her in a way she has never experienced. Unfortunately, abusive men are not easy to get rid of.

AAAAAAA!! I liked this one even better than Virgin River. It deals unflinchingly with domestic abuse, and it put me through the wringer. I have to admit I cried several times, not only with the main plot, but with subplots as well (Ricky and Liz, Mel and Jack). I am definitely emotionally involved with these characters :) Preacher was great, and I really loved seeing these two people, so isolated for very different reasons, bring each other to life.

I'm looking forward to Whispering Rock, although I'm not enamored of Mike Valenzuela (the hero), because I want to find out what happens next. There are a couple of characters who keep recurring, and I'm curious to see if they get some closure (the pot dealer guy, and Cheryl the drunk). These books have taken me out of my reading slump, and I would definitely recommend them to anybody interested in a character driven contemporary. Not a vampire, demon or secret agent in sight.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

I get around...

I've been feeling seriously crappy. A cold is kicking my butt, and seriously infringing on my reading and writing time. I've only managed to finish one book, an EC novella, for review at The Good, the Bad and the Unread. Standard fare, not great, not terrible, but I'd be interested in checking out other stuff by the author, Sherrill Quinn. I also have a post up at Book Binge regarding the difficulties in parting with books.

While I'm being a blog slut, I may as well mention that I will be contributing to Access Romance once a month. Access Romance is a fun site to explore, lots of stuff there. It is a site meant to foster communication between romance writers and readers. They have a feature called Reader's Gab, with monthly contributions by JMC, KristieJ, Tara Gelsomino and Robin. Access Romance is now expanding to include me, Rosie,Amanda and RfP. Today's contribution is the debut by Rosie, concerning a topic likely to be of concern as my kids get older. Check it Out!

Right now I'm reading Virgin River by Robin Carr. Promising so far. Perhaps I will actually finish something to review on this blog!!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Have a great day! And don't forget to check out the fun at The Good, The Bad and the Unread! Lots of prizes to win!

Shall add more Holiday stuff as I find it.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Movies that Made Me Keep the Lights on All Night (part 2)

The Changeling--Sidekick has seen lots better movies than me, probably b/c his parents were more mellow about letting him watch stuff. This haunted house story sounds great. I'm going to try to find it at work tomorrow. Nothing spookier than a good haunted house story. Gets you thinking about your house, and what if...

Halloween--The original, the best. Mike Myers was just so damn creepy and inhuman, the way he kept coming and coming. Interestingly, in his remakeRob Zombie took also the scary out, by adding in more gore.

Seven--The horror of what a plain old human can do. I saw this in the movie theater, and I almost walked out during the "Sloth" part. Well-written, well-acted, but I find it really hard to watch.

Silence of the Lambs--Another serial killer movie that really worked. I can't decide who was freakier, Buffalo Bill or Hannibal Lecter.

Nightmare on Elm Street--One, two Freddy's coming for you.... I agree with Dev, this franchise got cheesy quickly, but this one was scary! The idea of someone who could kill you in your dreams...I had a lot of nightmares, too. Didn't sleep for awhile after I saw this one the first time.

We're going to a costume party tonight. H-Bomb is going to be a knight, the Destroyer is going to be a fairy princess. Sidekick and I are going with a The Warriors theme. He's going to be the leader of the Baseball Furies and I'll be the leader of The Lizzies.

For once, the weather is working for me, my hair is nice and big and frizzy, and the frizzier the better.

I Can't Stop Laughing at This

I'm not sure why, but I could watch it for hours. But anyway, I'll send a copy of an old Johanna Lindsey and and a Barbara Cartland if you can tell me the actor and the movie it was clipped from. If you were a young girl in the early eighties and you enjoyed dancing, you'll probably can get it.

I have a guest review up at The Good, the Bad and the Unread (note the URL change). I'm actually going to be reviewing there regularly, you can see my bio here.

This weekend on Bravo, they are re-running The Scariest Moments in Movies (or something like that). Lots of good clips and interesting commentary.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Movies that Made Me Keep the Lights on All Night

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The Exorcist: I can't even bear the thought of this movie. I really hope that there's no such thing as demon possession.

Magic--One of Sidekick's picks. I've never seen it, but fuckin' dummy? No good. Not a big fan of dolls coming to life.

Psycho--Creepy, creepy, creepy. Less is more.

The Brood--Another one of Sidekick's picks, but it sounds disturbing. I'm curious, yet nervous to watch.

Freaks--Thought-provoking movie.
Seriously disturbing. My modern sensibilities are uncomfortable with the idea of people being put on display because of their physical differences. And I'm even more uncomfortable with them being the bad guys. I can't help but feel a lot of sympathy for the freaks, but the sequence where they get their revenge is really creepy. Gabba Gabba Hey!

Friday the 13th--The original. When Kevin Bacon gets it and the ending are among the good GOTCHA moments.

The Amityville Horror--The original never fails to creep me out. It's that demonic thing again. Man, is this house creepy. The creepiness factor is of course heightened by our relative proximity to Amityville. Finding the Amityville Horror house was a major pastime of LI teens. I wonder if they still do it. I worked in a school for awhile that had a number of kids from that neighborhood, and they all had debunking stories. The street names have been changed and the house extensively remodeled.

Part two to come later...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Five Vampire Movies worth watching...

and five to probably skip...

With varying degrees of scariness, but little romance {sigh}

The Lost Boys--I think this is the one that did me in. It's all about Keifer Sutherland and his boys. I could care less that they were supposed to be the bad guys, they were way more interesting than the beauteous, but boring Jason Patric, and the Coreys. I was always fascinated by Corey Haim's "I love shopping" t-shirt and the Rob Lowe poster hanging in his room. Was Corey's character struggling with his sexuality? Whatever. Why couldn't they let the sexy and intense Keifer live? Sigh. These days they would've redeemed him.

Shadow of the Vampire--Fun one about the making of Nosferatu (which is pretty neat too, if you've got to patience for something really old). Willem Defoe plays Max Schreck the mysterious guy who played the "Dracula" in that movie. He is very mysterious, and weird things start happening on-set. This one is creepy, humorous and well-done.

Blade--It's too bad that Wesley Snipes went wacky. He made some good movies back in the day. I really enjoyed the first two movies in this trilogy (the third was bleh). An anti-hero type that will be familiar to paranormal romance readers. The second one (my favorite), was directed by Guillermo Del Toro, who also directed Hellboy which I loved.

Dracula--The Francis Ford Coppola one, with Gary Oldman. Very flawed, but it had some great moments. I loved it when Dracula sees Mina/Winona in London at the puppet show thingy. I love Gary Oldman. I definitely thought Mina should stick with Drac rather than Harker/Keanu and his mysterious accent.

Near Dark--A must-see for vamp fans. Travelling desert vampire, lots of atmosphere. Yummy Adrian Pasdar, Lance Henricksen, and Bill Paxton. It's been awhile since I've seen this. I should rent it or something.

And...erm...some others...

Embrace of the Vampire--My husband (who shall henceforth be known as Sidekick) loves this movie. But that's because he got to see Alyssa Milano's boobies. I suspect that your enjoyment of this film is in direct correlation to your enjoyment of Alyssa's boobies, because, lame.

The Breed--I randomly found this on Sci-Fi Channel late one night. It got slammed on IMDB, and Sidekick didn't care for it but I liked it. It takes place in a future where vampires have come out in the open. (Another familiar set-up). It features Adrian Paul from Highlander and Bokeem Woodbine. Everyone's kind of wooden and plastic because it's the future, I guess. IMO, worth a try if it's on TV or something.

Once Bitten--An early, early Jim Carrey movie, wherein he plays a teenage virgin who gets bitten by Lauren Hutton. I'm not a fan of the Carrey slapsick schtick, but someone else might like it better.

Fright Night--Total guilty pleasure. Totally cheesy, totally eighties, but I always enjoy catching this one. The guy from Herman's Head thinks his next door neighbor is a vampire, so he enlists the help of his favorite horror movie show host. And his girlfriend is Marcy from Married with Children. This one shows up on cable this time of year.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer--Can't compare to the series, of course, but kind of fun when judged on its own merit. I enjoyed it as a teen, but I don't like Kristy Swanson and Luke Perry.

While I was typing this I thought of Innocent Blood (good, romance fans might enjoy), and Underworld (total guilty pleasure, IMO.) Don't bother with Underworld Evolution. It stinks.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Once upon a time there was a little girl who was afraid of everything. Everything, including her own shadow. She was especially frightened of things that go bump in the night. Just knew that ghosts and monsters and scary things were there lurking in the shadows. Then came a defining moment. A mime was hired to perform at her primary school. To end his act, he imitated a vampire sucking the blood out of his prey (I swear to God this is true. This was in front of Kindergarteners and First Graders). Not surprisingly, the little girl started screaming her head off. Mom had to come and pick her up. That night she began to sleep with a blanket wrapped around her neck, a habit that was to continue for many years to come.

From this point on she was still scared, but also fascinated by that which scared her. She tried to read scary stories. She watched scary movies and tv shows for up to ten minutes before running out of the room screaming. She stayed up all night with the lights on after reading books of true ghost stories. An attempt to face her fears? Only a licensed therapist might know. Finally she started to be able to sit through entire movies (Except for "The Exorcist". Parents, don't let your 12 year olds watch this, no matter how much they beg. It might scar them for life.)

This fascination with the supernatural and disturbing followed her into teenagehood. This fascination, combined with a totally negative attitude seemed like a surefire recipe for Goth girl hood. Unfortunately (or fortunately), she would've looked awful with black hair and was cursed by the inability to take herself seriously. And so she masqueraded as a normal person, but never gave up her love of all things that go bump in the night.

So, anyway, it may or may not surprise you that this is my favorite time of year. I've been going a bit crazy with my new DVR, taping all the Halloween programming for young and old. We're watching Nightmare Before Christmas as I type. And I haven't read a darn thing apart from a re-read of Connie Brockway's As You Desire (great book, but that's a post for another time). So I've decided to dedicate the blog to all things spooky and supernatural from now until Halloween. Enjoy!

What scares the crap out of you? I've always been terrified of the idea of demons, thanks to Linda Blair and a book by those Warren people (Linda and Ed, maybe?) who investigate paranormal phenomena. To this day I periodically have dreams about someone I know and love getting possessed. Reading "demon" romances is helping though, because with the exception of Lilith (Meljean Brook's Demon Angel), they never seem particularly demonic. Anything gives you the shivers, even though you know it's silly?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Thank God for Lisa Kleypas...

Man, am I finding it hard to get in the fall swing of things. I'm having a taste of the future I guess. H-Bomb is in Pre-K five days a week, plus I get to chauffeur him to Speech and OT three days a week. Plus work, storytime and various other educational and edifying activities. I also have all these "projects" planned, like organizing my photos and selling stuff on Ebay and weeding the file cabinets and shit. Add to that a LU induced reading funk and kids who take two hours to fall asleep and you have someone who's grumpy and not getting reading done. I did breakdown and get the DVR, though, because I've missed 4 episodes of ANTM and Ghosthunters. I'm in love with it, it's my new toy, though I've only taped kid's shows so far.

I have read one historical all year. Literally. And it was a mediocre one. I haven't even been re-reading old favorites. After reading Mine Till Midnight by Lisa Kleypas, I really have no idea why. They may be just the change of pace I was looking for. I feel like I've been doing so much moaning and groaning about authors skimping on creating chemistry and relationships, relying instead on mental lusting (although, to be fair, I have read some good books in the past few months). This book was able to accomplish so relationship development, though the time span is relatively quick, others should take note. All it takes is a few encounters, some banter, some conversation, where the h/h get to know each other, and we get to know them...and I am a happy camper. Lisa Kleypas is a very dependable author, IMO. Even her less memorable books have well drawn characters, good chemistry, great sex, and an HEA that leaves you with a big smile. And what more can I ask for? I would count MTM as one of LK's less memorable books, but it still gets a B+ from me, because I couldn't put it made me laugh and tear up...and hotness!

When an unexpected inheritance elevates her family to the ranks of the aristocracy, Amelia Hathaway discovers that tending to her younger sisters and wayward brother was easy compared to navigating the intricacies of the ton. Even more challenging: the attraction she feels for the tall, dark, and dangerously handsome Cam Rohan.

Wealthy beyond most men’s dreams, Cam has tired of society’s petty restrictions and longs to return to his “uncivilized” Gypsy roots. When the delectable Amelia appeals to him for help, he intends to offer only friendship—but intentions are no match for the desire that blindsides them both. But can a man who spurns tradition be tempted into that most time-honored arrangement: marriage? Life in London society is about to get a whole lot hotter….

Those of you who read the Wallflowers Quartet will remember Cam Rohan from Devil in Winter (great book!). I quite like him. For all his Gypsy exoticism, he was a steady, strong, levelhead fellow. He was the sane one in the relationship. Heroine Amelia Hathaway was almost unhinged in her determination to control things and be independent. At one point in the book, she really bugged me. But her family had been through so much, it was a defense mechanism. They made a great pair, I thought that he would need someone with a strong personality, so as not to be overshadowed and she fit the bill. I enjoyed the Hathaway family, especially Beatrix, the youngest, with her mix of immaturity and intuitiveness. She brought tears to my eyes with the window story. I hope she eventually gets her own book. As a fan of the Wallflowers and Westcliff in particular, it was good to be back at Stony Cross Park. There were some funny moments, sexy moments and some emotional moments.

I found the incident at the end with Amelia's former suitor to be unnecessary. Didn't add to the story. I also disliked big brother Leo more than I should. Overall, I don't think this one will stick with me the way some of Kleypas' others do, but it was a satisfying read. If you enjoy Kleypas, it won't disappoint. If you haven't read her before, start with Then Came You or Dreaming of You. I went on to re-read Scandal in Spring. Am I the only one who really loves this one? I love taciturn, secretly obsessed heroes. Speaking of which, the sneak preview of her next historical at The Good, the Bad and the Unread, has me wanting to do a tap dance. I am so excited for Win and Merripen's book. Kleypas does surly, but seething with love so well, and paired with an invalid from a different class? You have a recipe for angsty, tear-jerky reader heaven. Go look. I think I'm going to go re-read Devil in Winter.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

A round up...

I wanted to talk about a couple of other books I read while sans computer. I was still in Harlequin mode. These are more impressions or comments than anything else. I'm not going to give letter grades or anything.

*Rising Darkness by Cynthia Cooke--I had read the first in the Dark Enchantments miniseries and enjoyed it, so I picked this one up. It started off with a great Gothic set-up: a British family in a crumbling estate held hostage by a pack of howling demonic wolves. The heroine, Emma McGovern, is the last of a line plagued by a Gypsy curse, and her face has been badly scarred by a wolf attack. Sadly, the book didn't sustain the atmosphere, the suspense or any interest on this readers part. Strictly paranormal romance by the numbers, it featured two bland ciphers (the hero a tormented vampire type) who fall quickly and deeply in love for reasons unknown to them and me. Seriously, I can't remember how it ended, but I remember being annoyed. Ah well. I still bought the next installment, Night Mischief by Nina Bruhns.

*The Farmer Takes a Wife by Barbara Gale--I wanted this story of a Boston doctor who brings new life to a sleepy town and a crabby farmer because it took place in New Hampshire and I love NH. Unfortunately, this book suffered from some of the worst editing ever. Both the hero and heroine's eyes change color, and the heroine's hair color changes several times before settling on Auburn. At one point the heroine suggests talking to the local congressman in Albany (which is the capital of NY, not NH). The hero reflects on his initial meeting with the heroine, recalling a scene which he was not in. He came in after she walked into the gas station. Also much ado was made of the hero's marrying too young and having a child too quickly. But he's 40, and his son was described as 8 or 9. Having a child at 31? Not exactly teenage pregnancy. It made no sense. And now? I know what people mean when they complain about head hopping. I found the pov confusing at several times. Nah, can't rec this one at all.

*A Family of Her Own by Brenda Novak.--I've been reading another book by Novak, and I think that she is a skilled writer who writes interesting and original stories. But the romance (frustratingly to me) always seems to take a backseat. This is about an ex-con auto mechanic named Booker and a "good girl" hairdresser named Katie whose intense affair ends when she runs off for SF with a guy that everyone thinks is a tool. Two years later she returns to Dundee Idaho unwed, alone, penniless and pregnant. Booker is unhappy to see the woman who broke his heart but he ends up taking her in when her family turns her away. There was a lot of focus on Katie growing up and becoming mature and independent, which was a good thing, because I wanted to hate her. Sure, no one approved of Booker, but they didn't like the other guy either. And once they got to SF he got a nose ring and a Robert Smith haircut and became a club kid who sponged off of her. But she stuck it out for two years? And gave him pity sex "one last time"? Whereupon she became one more victim of the dreaded romance novel condom failure rate? Great judgment, Katie. Dump the sexy, mysterious, intense guy who is kind enough to take in the village idiot (no, not Katie, this other guy) for a wannabe hipster tool. I wish there had been some flashbacks or something about Katie and Booker's relationship, so I could see what he saw in her, as well as why she didn't believe that he cared about her. I was also curious about what Booker did time for. Overall, not so bad though, just didn't quite satisfy.

*Driven by Eve Kenin--All is not lost, 'cuz this book was great! I would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes futuristic/sci fi or who is looking for something other the standard vamp/furry paranormal. Driven is set in a frozen future in which truckers have to bring goods to the various settlements. One particular company controls everything, and is run by a powerful and super nasty guy. There's a tough, kick butt and likeable heroine, Raina who is a great match for the unusual and very hot hero, Wizard. I lurved him, though an HEA with him would not be easy. See some reviews here, here and here. Worth your while. Bev from Bev's Books, if you stop by, I'm recommending this to you. You'll like it!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

I'm baaaack!

Woo-hoo! The drought is over. My computer is back and better than new. Hurrah! I've been so busy, and worked so little, that I have had very little computer access. So before I go bopping around catching up, I wanted to type up a review that I wrote out longhand. Yes it's that time of year again...Black Dagger Brotherhood time!

I've got to say I'm definitely curious to see what people have to say about Lover Unbound by J.R. Ward. This book had a lot going on, some of it pretty unorthodox for a romance. I've always been a Vishous fan myself. I find the fact that he is supposed to be super smart sexy, and I dig the tattoos, the weird abilities, the tortured feelings for Butch, the Dom tendencies. Just the kind of delicious weirdness I like. I was apphrehensive about how Ward would treat his kinky and queer leanings? Was he going to to meet some chick and undergo a personality transplant, a la a Dark Hunter? Would it be all peaches and vanilla cream? I was also invested in the Butch/Vishous relationship that had developed. Could I buy V's HEA with someone else? I bought Butch and Marissa, but she was a familiar character. Also, weak soul that I am, I gave in to the temptation to read some spoiler, which made me pretty nervous about whether I'd like this book at all.

Since there are probably many, many places to read about the book at this point, I shall dispense with the synopsis and get down to business. I'm going to try to avoid spoilers, but read at your own risk. I definitely liked LU better than Lover Revealed, but...well there are several buts.

The Love--Love V. Love him. Totally tortured hero. I've got to give JRW props for sticking to her guns and making it clear that V is not your average tortured hero. He likes sex rough and his feelings for Butch went way beyond friendship. I thought that both situations were acknowledged, handled and explained well, as was his horrible childhood. These things made V who he was, not some aberrations to be explained away, by meeting the right woman. And I did buy his HEA with Dr. Jane. As for heroine Dr. Jane Whitcomb herself, I liked her quite a bit. She was intelligent, strong willed and witty. V and Jane played off of each other well, and had a repartee somewhat like Butch/V [whose dialogues provide some of the best moments in LU]. But this brings me to the big but...

The But--Not enough V and Jane. These books have always alternated between the primary romance and the larger cast of characters within the BDB universe. Now being such a fan of these books and characters, it doesn't always bother me, but in LU all the scene changes detracted from the romance. I really liked V & Jane, but damn if the story didn't keep cutting away to John Matthew and his school chums. I've enjoyed the saga of JM/Tehrror so far,but this time I wanted him to go away. He was having quite the pity party also. The best part of a romance is seeing how the emotional connection develops, and I always feel short changed if it is rushed or if we are told rather than shown. V & Jane had great chemistry and good scenes, but they came after V's realization that he was "in love". Before that, one or the other was passed out. I would have preferred some 'getting to know you' banter. The later chemistry was not quite enough to overcome this. The Primale thing took from them as well, and was kind of unnecessary. It was resolved so quickly, it ultimately served only as Phury's sequel set-up (more on that later), and there was plenty of conflict without it. Question: If the Primale is to father future Brothers (sons) and Chosen (daughters), and if the Brothers and Chosen are expected to mate as well, won't there be all sorts of creepy incest going on? The only interesting thing about the subplot was V's relationship with the ever-annoying Scribe Virgin.

The Ending--I would imagine the ending is quite controversial. Didn't bother me too much. Perhaps it helped that I was mildly spoiled (and read a similar ending in Kenyon's Sins of the Night). So yeah (spoiler warning) Jane gets shot and dies and lives happily ever after as a ghost. Seemed a bit unnecessary but whatever. My biggest problem was all the questions that kept coming to mind. Like if Jane can have sex and eat, does she need to go to the bathroom or wash up? I appreciated the humor, but it was a bit sitcom-y. Uh-oh, Zsadist sat on Jane again. Fritz, you dog, you put Jane's clothes in the washing machine while she was still in them! Oh well, although the Scribe Virgin as Deus ex Machina is getting old, I did get a bit verklempt at the ending.

The Dislike--Not feeling the setup for Phury's book at all. Hate the Chosen. They just creep me the hell out. The only thing that made those scenes bearable were some funny lines and reactions. Phury's book is going to to be Dumber and Dumber, with who can be stupider about sex. At least Cormia has already seen Phury's (Ph's?) junk, so we'll be spared an "Oh My God, it's so big! And it moves!" scene. And I love Phury so. Would've like someone with a bit more fire for him. And Lordy, how I hate the idea of John Matthew with the 'hermaphroditic' chick with the dumb ass name. I try to be open minded, but something about how she is described squicks me out. Please don't let it be so.

The Conclusion--Lover Unbound is an unusual and compelling addition to the BDB series. Disappointing in that intriguing characters were given short shrift in favor of storylines I found almost painful to read I still enjoyed it, and was completely obsessed with finishing. I was going to give it a B, but I've been thinking about it a lot, and want to re-read soon, so I think I'm going to bump to a B+. This series is staying strong, and is definitely one to try. Read in order for sure and your can check out my previous ramblings here.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Thoughts, Opinions?

I had been planning on getting some kind of ebook reader for my birthday, but I couldn't decide what I wanted. But with being without laptop for a couple of weeks, I was thinking of going ahead, b/c I was going to get a handheld pc device. This way I could at least check email etc. Does anyone have thoughts concerning the Palm TX or Tungsten E2 vs. an HP IPAQ like this? Or have any other suggestions? With the palm can you only use their software? Would you be limited to their store? I find all the different IPAQs overwhelming.

Nothing left to do but read, read, read...

Saw-yee Mommy!

So the Destroyer lived up to her name today by popping the q key off of my keyboard. She's actually done it before, but I was able to wedge it back on. I'm still having a u problem. But this time we were outside, and I think the key went between the slats and under the deck 'cuz I can't find it anywhere. Sadly, I ran off to Best Buy. Good news, it's under warranty. Bad news, they have to send it out (2 to 3 weeks). In horror and shock, I left my laptop with them and headed home. Then I got all worried about someone hacking into my private info, so I went back and asked if I could clear my private data. And ended up taking it back home, clutching it to my chest. While I was gone, the Destroyer climbed onto my dresser and broke a bracelet that I'm fond of. It was from New Orleans, and had hand blown beads, which she filled her mouth with.

I'm sure any geek squad geek could bypass any password protection on my files, but I wasn't quite ready to say "bon voyage" yet. In fact, I found myself wondering if I could do without the q key, because, as you can see, if I stick my pinky nail in the little circle I can still get a q.

When did I become such a computer junkie? Probably when I was breastfeeding my son. I didn't want to expose him to television, but I needed something to do. I couldn't read one handed, but I could point and click a mouse. My computer chair had nice arms for support, and I could have my water there on my desk, easy to grab. And there you go. As they got older, I found that it was an easy way to grab a few minutes to myself here and there. If we do have the tv on, it's kid stuff, and reading requires too much concentration and it's hard when you have to keep putting the book down. On the other hand, reading a blog post, or TWOP snark doesn't require the same focus, and I can get up, change diapers, give hugs, food, drink, or play for a bit, then come back to the same screen. Thus blogging, emailing and browsing became a major form of leisure, entertainment and communication for me. I am dreading being without the computer for 2-3 weeks. I can't do much at work (shared computers), so I guess I'll be dropping in on my parents regularly. I'm going to hold onto it for another day, but then it's off to the computer hospital. I have to tell them to look at the u key also.

So I won't be around much. On the up side, I'll probably get lots of reading done. Maybe I 'll find some new tv shows to watch. Wanna take bets on how long it takes for the withdrawal shakes to set in?

Friday, September 07, 2007


Yummy Cover!

I had been looking forward to the anthology Boundless, for awhile now. Long ago, when I read and loved Bone Deep, I of course then went to check out Bonnie Dee's website. I was intrigued by a story about a scarecrow. But when I got around to actually purchasing it, it was unavailable, due to Venus Press going belly up. So I was excited to see it coming out again. Plus the other two entries sounded intriguing and were by Dionne Galace (the artist formerly known as Bam) and Annie Dean, who I was familiar with from lurking about at It's Not Chick Porn. Hmmm...I guess it's time to officially move Bam to the writer blog section. Anyhoo, I bought this immediately, and am happy to say that it's the most satisfying anthology I've read in a rilly, rilly long time. I actually can't remember the last time I finished an anthology.

**Seven Days by Annie Dean--As I said I was familiar with Ms. Dean through her blog presence, but was not particularly compelled to read her prior works. Well, that will change because I loved this story. A lot. It was my favorite of the lot. "Seven Days" is about a young novitiate named Teresa, who is visited by temptation in the form of a gorgeous incubus shortly before she is to take her final vows. If she succumbs to the temptation that the charming, handsome and demonic Dev presents, she will take his place in Hell, and he will remain to enjoy the delights of Earth.

Ms. Dean has a smooth and witty writing style that assumes the reader is intelligent. I appreciated that, as well as the fact that the story dealt thoughtfully with matters of belief and faith. The characters were great. Teresa is a devout young woman, intelligent, curious and serious. Though she can't resist her curiosity about Dev, she deals with him thoughtfully and deliberately, trying to figure out how to best outwit him. I could see how Dev would be as intrigued by her as she was by him. Dev is charming, sexy, and witty, as befits an incubus. The romance worked really well for me, a rarity in a shorter story. There was great chemistry built up by the conversations and banter between them. I loved how, even as they were adversaries aiming for opposite goals, they grew to care about each other and wanted to help each other. I even got verklempt at the end. Always a good sign (for the author, that is. Makes me feel like I'm getting soft). I'm giving this one a A, for good characters, good writing and good love story. Wonderful!

**Straw Man by Bonnie Dee--As I said, this was why I bought the book, and I must confess that I read this one first. "Straw Man" is the story of Marie, a lonely woman feeling increasingly stifled by life on her pumpkin farm. Out of boredom, she's talking to her scarecrow, for chrissakes! On Halloween night she wishes for the lover of her dreams. A few hours later he appears. That's right, ya'll, it's the scarecrow come to life!

Sounds kind of silly right? And yes, it's pretty much a standard "dream lover" type erotic romance set-up, but Dee makes it work. She captures that atmosphere of a quiet October night, when the air is crispy, the wind is blowing and the leaves are rustling, and it seems quite possible that something bizarre might happen. Marie is another likeable Dee heroine, a bit unsure, but determined to go for what she wants. And Sam (the scarecrow) was pretty delicious. He was perfect, of course, because he's what she wished for, but damn if it wasn't sexy how he just wanted to please her. Not only with awesome sex, but by eating together, or talking or cuddling. Whatever she wanted. The ending seemed a bit abrupt, but overall it was a nice, romantic, escapist, 'woman gets her every fantasy magically fulfilled' type story. I'd give it a B.

**Waking Kitty by Dionne Galace--Has-been reporter Jack Ridley and pink-haired Kitty Jones meet when a ship appears in the bar that Kitty waitresses at. Jack leads a team that investigates and debunks weird and supernatural events, and Kitty...well, Kitty has had a number of weird and supernatural events happening in her vicinity lately. The two are immediately drawn to each other, and fall in love while Jack tries to find out what's going down in Chicago and Kitty tries to figure out what is wrong with her.

I enjoyed this one as well, but I felt it could have benefited from being longer. There's a lot going on, and it felt rushed. Jack was a bad boy who just needs some good lovin' hero, right up my alley, and Kitty was a fun, quirky but not annoying character as well. But there was a little too much mental lusting at first, and the leap from attraction to love felt a bit fast for me. I also felt like the resolution, and the mystery behind Kitty's past was too quick. I liked so many things about it, but I would've liked to get to know the characters more, would've liked to see the relationship develop a bit more and would've liked to hear more about Kitty's mysterious past. I do have a liking a for quirky characters and stories where weird stuff just starts happening, and I liked Kitty and Jack, so B-. I will keep an eye out for Ms. Galace's future work, because she's got a fun style.

I'm going to give Boundless a B+ overall. I don't know if that's mathematically correct, and I don't care. This was the strongest anthology I've read in recent memory, with three slightly offbeat, romantic and enjoyable stories.

Contest-y Pimpage!

I am almost finished with Boundless, an anthology by Annie Dean, Bonnie Dee and Dionne Galace (heh, they all have "dee" sounds in their names). Anyway, I'm hoping to get a review up of this book really soon (along with Driven), but in the mean time some contest pimpage. I love contests when they're easy.

From Annie Dean's Blog--

Which Boundless hero is right for you?

Which Boundless hero is right for you?

Jack is your meant-to-be man! He's the ultimate "reluctant hero". He fears there is nothing else in the world to explore, nothing else for him to see… until he finds the right woman. He just needs the right woman to make him believe in magic and love at first sight. He'll come through for you, just when you need him; he'll be your knight in slightly tarnished armor. In bed and out, Jack is exactly what you need.
How do you compare?
Take this test! | Tests from Testriffic

Read more about the book here. And see Ms. Dean's blog for more ways to win.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Pimping a friend and a quick review

Any Broadway fans out there? Being a fan of a things review-y, and also of embarrassing my friends, I'd like to draw your attention to's new word of mouth panel. They have gotten rid of their professional reviewer in favor of "man on the street" type reviews. They chose 12 people to send to shows, then they get to review them for the site. And one of the reviewers is my old buddy Ellen! Here she is, in all her fabulousness. I look forward to seeing what she has to say about NY theater (despite the fact that I never go). Congrats on getting chosen. Can't wait to hear about what you've seen.

I also wanted to quickly review Measure of a Man by Bonnie Dee (who is that guy on the cover and why does he keep showing up everywhere?) This book is part of Liquid Silver's Terran Realm series, which is like...environmental paranormal. Or something. Terrans are a race who live alongside humans and they keep the environment in balance. Or something. Different people have an affinity with a particular element (earth, air, fire, water) and some sort of power that is related to that element. These are called Keepers and there are Protectors who, um, protect the Keepers so that they can do their work. Okay, let's be honest. I didn't really get the world building, nor did I care about it all that much. I didn't even quite get what the heroine's power of mental healing had to do with the air.

Whatever. Doesn't much matter, because I found this to be an enjoyable, fast read. After reading this and Dee's contribution to the Boundless anthology, I can firmly say that I really love this author's characterizations. She writes down to Earth, likeable heroines, and offbeat, tormented and very appealling heroes. In this case, it made the book work despite me being meh about the Terran thing. MoaM has a con artist/petty criminal (Ian) as the hero and he gets drawn into the world of the Terrans when one literally crashes into him. Mirabai has strong mental powers and she works as a psychic healer. Dee was able to make her charming and not overly hippy dippy and sage like, but rather a nice foil for the jaded and self loathing Ian. They had good chemistry and the relationship developed quickly, but worked. Mira has stolen an object from the bad guys (the Destroyers), and it's a pretty standard going on the run type plot. It was the characters that made it work, from Ian and Mira to protector Justin to the bad guy (whose name is currently escaping me). I give it a B, and I've already bought the follow up Fruits of Betrayal. Maybe I'll figure out why the Destroyers want to destroy.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Is nauseating the new scary?

Saturday night, the husband and I parked the kiddies with my parents and took ourselves off to the movies to see our first grown up movie in ages, the remake of Halloween. Why on earth would we spend twenty bucks on this movie, with all that's out there? Upon reflection, good question. It may surprise you to find out that I am somewhat of a horror movie aficionado, and I think that the original Halloween, is one of the best movies ever, and certainly the grandaddy of all slasher films. But my husband and I have suffered through many Halloween sequels, including the one with Busta Rhymes in space (I may be mixing 2 movies together here) and the one with Paul Rudd and the cultists (don't ask, I have no idea what was going on). So in the interest of completeness, we went to see it despite not particularly enjoying the Rob Zombie ouvre (His films, that is. Love "Dragula" and "Thunderkiss '65").

The verdict: not awful, but not great. If you haven't seen the original, start there, but this wouldn't have been an awful rental. If anything, it served to show what made the Carpenter so great, by taking those elements away. As a young 'un, I wondered what made Michael Myers such a killing machine. Zombie gives Michael a backstory, which is supposed to show how he became what he was. Since Rob Zombie never met a white trash stereotype he didn't like, it features grimy, slutty characters spewing verbal abuse. Surprisingly, it weakened the story quite a bit. Are we supposed to believe that the 10 year old Michael snapped out and massacred his family because his mommy was a stripper and no one would take him trick or treating? Were we supposed to feel sympathetic? I preferred the mysterious, robot-like Michael Myers. Much more creepy.

Michael goes off to the Sanitarium, where he grows up to be enormous and super-strong despite the fact that he's spent his life in a small cell making paper mache masks. He escapes and returns to Haddonfield Illinois, where the story then closely mirrors that of the classic. Except that instead of dread and menace, punctuated by grab-your-date shocks, we get lots of blood and gore. I just don't get it. Lots of blood and gore is gross, yes, but not scary. I'm not closing my eyes because I'm scared, it's because my stomach is churning. What makes a killing sequence scary is that mounting dread, you know it's coming but not when. And leaving the details to the imagination works. What the viewers mind can come up with on their own is probably scarier than what the director can come up with. In the new version, Myers, quickly nabs his prey, then we're treated to endless shots of stabbing or bludgeoning then blood gushing and spurting. Sickening, but in an "enough already" way, not a truly frightening way.

In general, Rob Zombie's over the top sensibility is the problem. At times, it almost seems like he's parodying the slasher genre, but he doesn't take it far enough. Like I said, he loves him the white trash, but the characters are neither entertainingly ridiculous, or sympathetic, just repugnant. Similarly, the teenage girls are sooooo crass and slutty they seem like a joke, but the long drawn out death scenes are deadly serious. It comes off disturbingly like someone's got a fetish for topless young girls getting violently murdered. If you have a passing interest in horror movies, it might provide a good scare, but there's way better out there. The revisioning was pretty pointless, and shock value substituted for actual shocks.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Have you ever...

pulled out a purchase you made a couple of weeks ago, and been like, "What the eff was I thinking?"

I went to the used bookstore a couple of weeks ago, sans kiddies, and I don't know if I was just heady with freedom or what, but I went hog-wild. I know that I wanted to get some Harlequin lines that I have never read before, and I was picking up and putting a lot of stuff down. I also know that I had meant to grab a Harlequin Intrigue and didn't, so I must've put down the wrong book. Or two. But apparently that day, I had a real fascination for the works of Christine Rimmer, secret babies, accidental pregnancies, and most inexplicably, a boss/secretary story. Called "The Boss and his Secretary." I never like those. Nothing against the works of Christine Rimmer, I'm just not sure why I was compelled to buy three books by an author I am completely unfamiliar with. Perhaps she will become an auto-buy.

Oh well, with trade-ins, the whole she-bang was about 4 dollars. I think some are going back unread.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Big Girls Don't Cry by Brenda Novak

A two Haiku review!

Warning: I was unsure how to write this review. Part of me feels like I'm giving away the big secret. But there's no way around it, because that's what I both liked and disliked about the book. And the "secret" is revealed early on and is what pushes the whole plot. Here is the slightly misleading back blurb from the book:

Sometimes Mr. Right couldn't be more wrong...

Thanks to a devastating revelation about her husband, Reenie Holbrook's once-perfect marriage is over. For eleven years she had the life she wanted--and now it's gone.

Sometimes Mr. Wrong couldn't be more right...

Reenie decides that the first step in recovering from her ordeal is to find work; after all, she has three young children to support. She's thrilled when she lands a job at Dundee High teaching math--until Isaac Russell, the man who triggered the unraveling of her marriage, accepts a temporary position teaching science. Then she's tempted to quit. Reenie doesn't care if the whole town admires Isacc...and she won't admit that, secretly, she admires him, too. She doesn't want to see him or his sister in "her" town.

But a friendship with the most unlikely woman leads to a relationship with the most unlikely man...

If you are intrigued but don't want to know what's going to happen, don't click on the cut.

One man with two wives,
Wife two's brother finds out
and tells all the truth.

Reenie recovers,
but Isaac makes things tougher,
Intense, slow romance.

Comments from the peanut gallery:

This was an intriguing read. I devoured it in a matter of hours. Often in romances, the traumatic events have already taken place, but in Big Girls Don't Cry, we find out what's been happening along with the hero and heroine. It was very immediate and engrossing, but it also weakened the story a bit, for reasons I will explain.

Keith O'Connell lives with his wife of 11 years, Reenie (his HS sweetheart), and their three children in Dundee, Idaho. He also lives with his wife of 9 years, Liz, and their two children in L.A. His job as a software developer has him travelling between both places, and he has used both women's trust to great advantage over the past nine years. However, when Liz's brother Isaac becomes suspicious, he follows Keith to Idaho and uncovers the truth. After meeting the charming Reenie, he is unsure of what to do, but these things take on a life of their own and so the truth is revealed. The two women have to deal with a totally awful betrayal, while protecting their children. Keith abandons family #2, to try to get Reenie (whom he has always loved more) to take him back. Stung, and hurt for her children, Liz moves to Dundee to make him acknowledge his family and stay in his kids' lives. Loyal brother Isaac goes along to help. Now everyone's together in this small town. Can you say AWKWARD? Things only get more complicated when Isaac and Reenie grow increasingly attracted to each other.

This read more like women's fiction to me (but I'm not positive because I haven't read too much women's fiction). A lot of the book was focused on the big reveal, and everyone's reaction and recovery from it. I really liked the characters. They were well drawn, strong and had mixed and different reactions. But Reenie, Liz, and Isaac seemed human, never contrived or petty. That was some heavy shit to be dealing with. Keith, OTOH, was such a selfish, immature asswipe, it was hard to see why both women had loved him so much. But he was a bigamist, so I wasn't expecting to like him anyway.

The problem for me was that the book was so much about the fallout and recovery from the Keith betrayal, that the Reenie-Isaac romance felt a bit rushed. I was getting impatient for it to actually start. There was chemistry between them from the get go, but I would've liked a bit more focus on the relationship development and the sparks between them. Also, Reenie, had been totally in love with Keith prior to finding out the truth. Now, of course, I wouldn't expect her to remain that way, given the situation. But it made something like her telling Isaac that it was the best sex ever, ring a little hollow, given that she was shown to be sexually satisfied with Keith at the beginning. Overall, a moving and interesting read, but I'm giving it a B-, because I wanted more romance. I went to Brenda Novak's website , and I'm very interested in some of her other Superromances, especially the ones that take place in Dundee. She's got some unusual premises going on there. I hope the focus is on the advertised love story.