Sunday, December 30, 2007
I would try to explain the plot but it would go something like, there's this family, and one of the guys runs away with his daughter's nanny and then his cousin marries this woman who never loves him and then the first guy's daughter's fiance falls in love with the cousin's wife and then they try to run away together but that doesn't work out and then she leaves her husband and eventually marries the FIRST guy and would you believe that her son and her ex-husband's daughter end up falling for each other? And it actually gets even longer, more twisted around and complicated. But oh what fun! The sets are lovely, the costumes gorgeous. And what could be better than watching beautiful British-speaking people emoting on camera? I ask you.
Saturday, December 29, 2007
1. What is your favorite Christmas romance to re-read each year?
I don't actually have one. In fact, this may be the first year that I have read any Christmas-themed romances during the holiday season. I do recall reading an anthology that included a McNaught story featuring a character I liked (Nicky, I think his name was).
2. What is your favorite Christmas movie/show?
Oh, this is a toss-up but I think I will give the edge to "It's a Wonderful Life." Honorable mention to "A Charlie Brown Christmas". We watched IAWL pretty much every year when I was a kid and I find that I still get more out of it as an adult. This year I got to show it to my BF for the first time.
3. What is your favorite Christmas cookie?
My great-grandmother's traditional recipe - Fruitcake Cookies. Candied pineapple, cherries, dates, pecans all mixed up with a luscious soft cookie dough...mm mm!
4. When do you start Christmas shopping?
Usually at the last minute. This year I think I did it all within the last two days before Christmas.
5. Do you re-gift?
Sure, why not? I've been poor for most of my life, so I'm frugal. I don't mind receiving re-gifts and if I have an item that I think someone would appreciate better than me, I'm happy to pass it along.
6. What is your favorite Christmas song?
I lurve Christmas music, so this is tough. Possibly the First Noel for sacred music and The Christmas Song (y'know....chestnuts roasting on an open fiiiiire) for secular music. Nat King Cole does a great version.
7. When do you get your Christmas tree?
I don't have one. Living with four other grad students in a shared house...it just isn't practical.
8. Wrapping presents: Love it or hate it?
Love it! It's almost theraputic. Put on some Xmas tunes, get out the tape, scissors and paper and go to town. I look at it as a challenge to try to make each one pretty.
9. Who is the hardest person to buy for?
Probably my brother. He is very eclectic so I can't just get him typical "guy" stuff. This year apparently I did pretty good. Got him a model ship and a whisky flask. lol.
10. Christmas tree: Real or artificial?
See number 7. But if I did have one I think I'd like a real one cuz they small purty.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Thanks to the awesomeness of lisabea, I have been immersed in the gay space Regency world of My Fair Captain. VERY entertaining and touching story, and I would highly recommend it. More on my reactions to this book will follow to be sure. It was very interesting to read this in the midst of my listening to the Gabaldon "Lord John" audiobook every evening. In the latter, Lord John is living in a repressive society where sodomy is punishable by courtmartial and death. This complex and honorable man has to balance the demands on his profession (soldier), his family and his natural desire to love and be loved all the while guarding every word and every action. It was so fascinating to compare this with the openly gay but still formal and patriarchical society in My Fair Captain. I'm not explaining this very well, but anyways, it got me to thinking about culture and identity and our assumptions about what is normal and expected. All kinds of interesting stuff.
I'm also just finishing Beyond Paradise by Elizabeth Doyle. It's an entertaining pirate romp recommended to me by my blogging buddy Kristie(J). I'll probably write up a short capsule review later but for now let me just say that you have to admire an author who writes a story set not only in Martinique with an all-French cast but also has a deaf sailor (who is not even the captain) in the role as hero.
In other news, I successfully got my family to watch North and South! My mother, younger brother and I watched half last night and half this afternoon. They totally enjoyed it and were very impressed with the story, the quality of the acting and the entire production. Then my dad was looking for a DVD to use as a "test" for his new laptop and I handed it to him. A few hours later he came downstairs looking for disc 2. woot! So yeah, am I good or what?
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Friday, December 21, 2007
I started with Julia London’s The Perils of Pursuing a Prince. In this novel our intrepid heroine Greer Fairchild has ventured into the wilds of Wales to track down a long-lost relation who may be the key to her inheritance. Although she had begun the journey as the companion to an elderly woman, they had been joined by a very accommodating young man who ingratiates himself to the point that he convinces Greer to keep traveling with him even after her elderly companion passes away. So from the beginning I am thinking, ok, this girl is not the sharpest stick in the shed. Then we meet the putative prince of the title. He is something of a hermit on his land in Wales. Mr. Owen (the aforementioned young man) has a grudge with Rhodrick Glendower, Earl of Radnor and “Prince of Powys, based on a long history between the two. Ms. Fairchild ends up caught in the middle, but I kept wishing that she would be just a little more astute about the obviously nefarious Mr. Owen. Once he fled the coop and left her in the somewhat gothic tender care of the Prince, things did get more interesting. I vacillated between being entertained by the battle of the wills between Rhodrick and Greer, boredom that it was taking them so long to do something about their obvious attraction and frustration at Greer for her apparent insistence on being a stubborn eejit. I did like Rhodrick as a character. He was prickly and rude and adorably self-conscious about his less-than-handsome looks. Greer on the other hand is something of a whiny needy chit who can't see past the nose on her face. I was never quite sure what an intelligent man like Rhodrick saw in her. Oh well. There are worse ways to spend a few hours, and I do like Wales as a setting. C+
Dark Seduction by Brenda Joyce
I almost did not finish this book. As it was it gave me constant fits of laughter and snorts of “omg, I can’t believe I just read that!” Let’s just start with the accents. DROVE ME BATTY! And I like a Scottish accent if it’s done well. By the end of this book, I was walking around the house saying things like “I be hungry. Where be food?” What are they, pirates? I be tired of this talk. Then to make matters worse, the author has the audacity to name the heroine of a time-traveling story set in Scotland, Claire. Hello? Has no one heard of the book Outlander? Beyond that, the story just didn’t work for me on most levels. Our hero brings Claire back to his time and immediately upon arrival, does not even wait for her to recover from the aftereffects of the time-travel, but just hoists her up and mounts her. Woot! Hot sexxoring and we’re only into chapter 2! Hmph. I like hot stuff as much as the next girl, but this just struck me as unbelievable and not even real heroic. Oh, you wanted to know about the plot? Hmm, ok, let me try to sum it up. Our hero is a newly turned Master of Time. Which means, among other things that he has the ability to time travel, that his mother was a goddess (no really, a GODDESS!), and that he can do the nasty without ever tiring. Apparently, these masters of time have some masterful bits, if you know what I mean. What else? Oh yeah, there be evil. EEEEVIL. As in the fruits of the devilll…. *rolleyes* Um, anyways, there is some more stuff about the devil incarnate and a battle for the soul of our hero in which he has to try NOT to have sex with the heroine. Anyways, as you can tell, this book just didn’t cut it for me. Nice cover tho, I will give you that. D+
I’ve heard of Marjorie M. Liu for quite some time, but Shadow Touch is the first book of hers that I’ve read. It won’t be the last. This was well-written, imaginative and suspenseful. I assume that there is a lot more to the story of the Dirk and Steele detective agency, but I found that I could follow this story as a stand-alone pretty well. Artur Loginov has a gift. He can sense the emotions and thoughts of people from the objects they've touched. While that may sound kind of nifty, it can also be a terrible curse as it's not like he has a choice as to what kinds of thoughts and emotions he picks up. He's learned to protect his skin and his emotions with protective layers. Elena Baxter has the gift of healing. She's never gone to med school but volunteers at a hospital where she quietly heals the sick. One day, both of these extraordinary individuals are kidnapped and imprisoned in a hellish experimental facility that reminded me of something out of the X-men. Through circumstance, they meet and establish an amazing psychic and emotional connection, due to the combination of their unique extrasensory abilities. Even though they spend a good deal of the middle of the book physically apart, the link established between their minds permits them to communicate and continue to develop a growing relationship. One thing that I really appreciated about this story was how both of them had to rely upon the other. I never felt that either one was clearly dominant or superior to the other. Their gifts complimented each other and they felt like a true team. My only complaint, such as it is, would be that I like my romances to be a little spicier and there was a distinct lack of love scenes between the h/h. Of course, given the fact that they're locked up in a facility for half of the book and then on the lam for the other half, that's not a total surprise, but still. I'm shallow that way. *g* However, that's just a minor complaint. Overall, I was really impressed with Ms. Liu's skill as a writer and world-building abilities. I'm definitely going to look for more books in this series. B+
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Thanks to Kristie(J) I am even more obsessed. lol. This picture joins the ranks of other classics like "train scene" or "Chest" and will be known from this day forward as "white shirt". Simple, clean, elegant and to the point. Just like the photo itself and more importantly, just like the man himself. Yeah, it's late and I'm tired and I just want to share the Richard Armitage goodness because things like this should be shared and not hoarded. So enjoy.
pssst, North and South...you need to see it!
Monday, December 17, 2007
If I needed an extra kick in the pants to be good this holiday season, I think I just found it. lol.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
All of my roommates except one have cleared out for the holidays. The one who's staying is gone for the weekend. My house is empty. Of course, they were nice enough to leave both sides of the kitchen sink chucked full of dirty dishes, the dishwasher full and un-run, and the stove covered in dirty pots and pans. yay! Merry Christmas to me! And of course this weekend my big plan was to do a major cleaning of the house since my parents are coming to stay starting Monday night. arg! I am really annoyed.
So I've spent the last four hours in domestic bliss. Loading and unloading dishwasher, washing pots and pans, scrubbing grime off the stove, wiping down all counters, sweeping, scouring and mopping the linoleum floor. The fun just never ends. I intended to wash out the fridge too, but that's just going to have to wait. Vacuumed the living room and dining area and realized that I will have to go buy some sort of carpet shampoo because it is atrociously dirty. wahhhh!
Anyways, the sky is threatening and the forecast calls for snow. So I'm off to the other house before I get caught in inclement weather. They do have satellite and BBC America which means Robin Hood and RICHard! Here's hoping I can come back here on Monday morning and finish all of the other cleaning items before picking up the parents at the airport.
There's a whole 'nother level of foreboding at having two weeks of my parents here but that's for another post. I'll leave it with a simple equation. Conservative Christian missionary parents + Muslim African boyfriend = good times fun.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Speaking of entertaining television, can I just go off on a mini-rant about how angry I am at stupid Lifetime television right now? Ok, so they bought the first set of 23 episodes and then instead of showing them all in one normal season, they cut them in half and split it into two seasons. So that of course makes it harder for people who might have gotten into the show to stay hooked. They promised us a marathon repeat of season 1 before starting season 2, but that never happened. Then for season 2, they moved the timeslot to 11pm on freaking Friday night! To top it all off, they decided at the last minute that in fact the final two episodes would not be shown on television after all...they would only air on their website (which is not available to viewers outside the US). WTF? Not to mention their complete lack of promotional support for the show. And there is still no word on whether or not they will renew the show and have another season filmed. But considering the shitty way they've been treating it, I don't hold out much hope. Why oh why? This show was actually fun to watch, had two cute guys, a kick-ass heroine, paranormal elements, vampires, clever dialogue and romantic tension. How many idiotic "America's Top Psychic" shows can say that? AARRRRGGGG! /end rant
On the North and South crusade front...welcome to the ranks new recruit devon who wrote a really nice review. For any of you reading this blog, if you haven't watched the film, what are you waiting for?!?!? Look into this man's eyes and see if you can resist?
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
The Perils of Pursuing a Prince - Julia London
Dark Seduction - Brenda Joyce
Shadow Touch - Marjorie M. Liu
Faking It - Jennifer Crusie
And the most exciting thing of all, I found in the audiobook department. An unabridged copy of Diana Gabaldon's new(ish) book Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade! I love audiobooks. I love Gabaldon. Two of my favorite things combined. Very excited to start this. *g*
But before any of these new books will be opened, I must complete my reread nirvana. The Serpent Prince. *sigh*
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
...In many ways, I feel as though that since I’ve had these metaphors pointed out to me, they are head-smackingly obvious. I see them everywhere now. For example, last week I was watching a BBC miniseries called North and South which is set in the British industrial revolution. As I enjoyed the film and reacted to the characters and plot, my thought processes of evaluating it included bits and pieces of the metaphors. I could see the cotton mills with their endless rows of looms and factory drudgery work – Organization as a Machine. Then there were the inevitable clashes between the fledgling unions and the factory bosses – Organization as a Political System. We see workers suffering from lung disease developed by the cotton fluff in the factory air – Organization as Instruments of Domination. The film also allowed the audience to see some of the complexity that went into the management of the factory as the boss tried to decide whether or not to risk the future of his organization on a speculative financial investment or hope that the downward trend of the market would reverse itself. His decision had ramifications for the continued existence of the company – Organization as Organism. Although we don’t think of industrial era bosses as particularly enlightened or values-led, this particular owner had his own sense of justice and fairness. You could obviously see how his internal moral values had a direct impact on his leadership style and on the entire company – Organization as Culture. These are just the metaphors that came to mind easily. I’m quite sure that one could find parallels to all of them. ...
I dashed off the final paragraph and emailed the finished paper to my professor before I could lose my nerve. So what say you? Crazy or what? lol. Anyways, after that horrid Accounting exam which I finished tonight, my finals are done. I'm celebrating with an extra large bottle of Corona. I only wish I didn't have to work tomorrow or one bottle might be two.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Yet another of the "you gotta love Africa" photo collection. I am currently attempting to study for my final exam in Accounting for Decision Making and Control as well as complete two papers for Organizational Structure and Behavior. Oh yeah, it's just as fun as it sounds. So the blog is kinda not operational for the time being. Wish me luck in MBA round one and I'll see you on the other side.
Friday, December 7, 2007
This is a quickie post about a quickie book. In my little shopping spree at harlequin the other night, one of the e-books I downloaded was an anthology. So that meant that a short book became even shorter because it was divided into three short stories. Perfect for a half-hour read.
I read the first entry by Jacquie D'Allesandro. Previously on this blog, I praised Ms. D'Allesandro for her authentic characters and normal-sounding dialogue. I gotta say, this little story was no different. In fact, one thing I really liked about it was that our h/h are already together at the beginning of the story.
Eric and Jessica are living their HEA. Indeed the story picks up about where most romance novels end. They're engaged and now begin the grueling work of planning a wedding and referreeing between the families of the bride and groom. Eric's sister is a professional wedding planner, so she's taken charge of the event. Jessica's mom never got the big frou-frou wedding she wanted for herself so she's determined to force one off on her daughter. Eric and Jessica's relationship is starting to fray under the strain of trying to please everyone and being torn between family loyalty and a simple desire to just get over the 'wedding' part and on to the 'married' part.
They decide to get away for a romantic weekend to rekindle the romance and get the hell away from the pesky family. We get some spicy scenes and one of the things I loved is that these two already know each other and have that sense of long-time intimacy where they're really seeking to give and receive pleasure. Unfortunately, real life intrudes as the wedding-planner sister and Bridezilla mother drive up to the lodge and insist that they make these so-called 'critical' wedding decisions RIGHT NOW! Eric and Jess have to learn how to be firm with their relatives, stick TOGETHER as a couple and finally to follow their own hearts.
I have to say, this was a very satisfying little read. It ran like a little microcosm of life that I could definitely relate to. So often we don't get to see how the everyday little stresses that make up the HEA can have on a living breathing relationship. I felt happy and empowered at the end.
Oh and there were some really nice love scenes between our h/h, did I mention that? *g*
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Not in time to save me from going to work of course. But it did snow. And now it's freezing cold in my little basement room. I curled up with my new book and read it straight through in one sitting. I think I should save my proper review for a later time, once I've had a chance to reflect. But my initial impressions are that Campbell has a very good way with words and her characters are multi-faceted. I loved Matthew. Just loved him. How often do you get to read about a sexy, intelligent virgin hero? Yeah, about that often. 'Nuff said. I liked the love scenes...particularly the first one. There was an earthiness and 'real'-ness to it in which everything does not go magically right and the heroine lies there underneath the crushing weight of the hero and just wishes he'd get off and let her breathe. Again, not your typical "first time" scene. The tone of the story is very dark, almost gothic. The villains are Evil with a capital E. Overall though, I was pretty pleased with the book until the big climax. After all kinds of death and destruction and separation, our hero and heroine are finally back together and she pulls the old martyr "I'm only doing what's best for you by leaving you" routine that MAKES ME INSANE!!! Have I mentioned how much I abhor this device? Ok, yeah. That makes me want to throw the book very hard against the nearest wall. Had it not been for this, I probably would have given the book something like an A-, but at the moment I'm feeling more like a straight B. But like I said...I'll wait until I cool off to review it properly. lol. When I get angry at a character, it colors my view of the entire book which is probably unfair.
*deep calming breath*
So in other news, I have found a fun internet radio station that streams good old-fashioned Christmas classics for my listening pleasure. Ahhh, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Vince Guaraldi Trio...take me away!
And thanks to a timely post at Dear Author, I bought five e-Harlequins at the bargain price of $11 as they were running a half-off sale today. As I've mentioned before, I'm trying to add shorter series books to my reading diet to mix things up a little and this seemed like too good of an opportunity to pass up. My haul:
- Strokes of Midnight - Hope Tarr
- A Blazing Little Christmas - Jacquie D'Allesandro, Joanne Rock, Kathleen O'Reilly
- The Roman's Virgin Mistress - Michelle Styles
- What She Really Wants for Christmas - Debbi Rawlins
- Beyond Breathless - Kathleen O'Reilly
And now for a random funny picture from Africa to make me smile. I think I've taken that bus before!
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Actually, what I really should be doing is paying attention to my two MBA courses that are about to finish up next week. Finals and all that. hmm. I feel like I've been skating by, paying just enough attention in class to keep my good grades but not going above and beyond to really dig in and get a lot out of it. Which is silly really because the whole point of getting the damn degree is to learn something. Gotta do better on this next semester. hmmm, mumble mumble.
The forecast is calling for an 80% chance of snow late tonite and tomorrow. Since this is Virginia and people don't know how to drive on one centimeter of snow, there would be a good probability that school (and therefore work, for me) might be cancelled or delayed. So I am rooting for the snow. C'mon...bring it on!
In anticipation of being snowed in, I went to Borders tonite and used my $5 in Borders Bucks towards the purchase of Anna Campbell's new book Untouched. Granted, I didn't read Claiming the Courtesan, but Sybil had some previews up for this book on her blog a while back, and I was intrigued. Also, it seems to be getting pretty good reviews, so I'm looking forward to trying a new author. And hey, with my discount, I paid all of $2 so even if I hate it, it won't be a total loss.
In other reading-related news, I recently came across my audio-book versions of Outlander, Dragonfly in Amber and Drums of Autumn. Granted, they are the abridged versions but I bought them for a steal at B&N years and years ago and they've been sitting in the boxes I left in storage when I went into Peace Corps. Fun to run across them now and give them a whirl. I love listening to audiobooks, especially at night in the dark when I'm trying to fall asleep. It's like having someone tell you a story at bedtime. Only problem of course is when the story is too engaging and you stay awake because you don't want to miss anything. Tonight I am going to be listening to Hidden Riches by Nora Roberts. My library just started having audiobook downloads (for free!) but their selection of romance audiobooks is pretty pathetic. Lots of Delinsky, Coulter and Macomber. I'm hoping that by checking out the few that are actually good, they will get good stats as to popularity and maybe they will add more to the catalogue. Go check out the selection and give me any recommendations that you might have.
If I could only get an audiobook read by Richard Armitage, I think my life would be complete. Can you imagine falling asleep to that sexy voice? Guaranteed good dreams!
I hope to awake to a winter wonderland...wish me luck!
Sunday, December 2, 2007
I moved back to my house a few days ago and am basking in the boundless capacity to surf and post and just dawdle on the internet. Saturday evening I curled up in bed with my laptop and rewatched the entire North and South miniseries in one go. It's actually been quite some time since I've watched it, as I'd lent it out to a friend. I fell in love with it all over again and realized that as much as I've enjoyed posting and sharing and talking about it, I'd almost forgot how genuinely awesome it was. There were so many little nuances and details that I have overlooked the previous times I'd seen it. Details that I now noticed because of something Lisa mentioned in her interview or that Kristie and Kate talked about in our chats.
A good film like a good book is something that you can go back to more than once. That's why we call those books "keepers", and I suppose I would call those films personal classics. No matter how many times you've seen them, they can always bear repeat viewing. And like a good book, you can get even more out of them or see things in a different light because of a discussion with a friend. This open exchange of ideas and enriching debate is something that I love about the internet and the blogosphere in particular. I feel really lucky to have found such a neat community of people around the world with whom I have some things in common and whom are also very different from me in other ways. Without them, I might have never even known about this movie and I definitely would not have had such fun talking about it and obsessing over it.
So if I have any final thoughts it is that I'm really grateful that I had the good luck to be introduced to this film and that I hope that all of you out there who haven't yet seen it get the chance to do so in the near future. And that we continue the discussions!! :)
And now for Kristie's final thoughts:
First off, hopefully anyone who is at all intrigued by this awesome series, I urge you to try and track down a copy and watch it. It isn’t often something blows me away as much as North and South has. It’s the kind of thing that gives you shivers, like an extra special song or a really good book, the kind you will remember forever. We did go a bit goofy, devoting an entire week to it, but if you’ve seen in, I think you might know why and if you are planning on it, hopefully you will see why.
It’s not just that Richard Armitage is so devastatingly attractive, although he is. When you are watching, it’s like you’ve been transported into the time and are an observer of a slice of history we don’t always see. The acting is incredible. We feel John Thornton’s pain and anguish again and again, as he is dealt blow after blow, first of all being rejected by Margaret when he declares his love to her and then again when he thinks there is someone else in her life. From the first time we see him as he is beating on an employee, we slowly see beneath the surface to a man who hides his pain and his passion behind layers of gentility. We see his own self doubts, his loneliness. We see that although he is a master, he does genuinely care about his employees. And finally we see his triumph when he finally sees that Margaret does love him.
But something else I’d really like to mention is the fun this has been for me working with Sula and Katiebabs. All the emails we’ve exchanged and the chats – once we finally figured out how it works :). I know I’ve made two really great friends and that is a wonderful thing. We’ve had a riot, sighing and ooing and awing over some of the great clips on YouTube. We hope to keep this going – although not a whole weeks worth, but we do still have plans up our sleeves. Thanks to Sula and Katiebabs for joining in and promoting something we’ve all come to love!!
And finally, Katiebabs shares her parting comments:
So what can I say about North and South that hasn't been already mentioned? Well I have found a new appreciation for a classic and now I want to read the actual book and experience the passion, romance, and social issues that are brought up in the movie. If a movie adaptation is so good, that means the book must be even better. I've always been a big fan of BBC productions along with Masterpiece Theater and North and South must be one of the best productions I have ever seen. Almost tied with Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth.
We have gone on and on about Richard Armitage's portrayal of John but we also have failed to mention the actress Daniela Denby-Ashe who played Margaret. She was perfect and so lovely looking. These two actors played these two wonderful characters to perfection. Each look, touch and word spoken that came out of their mouths were scripted perfectly. Their chemistry was incredible and I truly believed they were John and Margaret.
There are two scenes that come to mind that made a big impression on me. I could say it was the swoon-worthy final train scene or when John watches Margaret leave him and says the simple statement, "look back", but there are two other scenes that are also as good and stick with me.
The first time Margaret enters John's mill and as she looks through the flowing white flakes that looks like snow, she spies John and my heart went thump. All is silent and both are shown as quiet and stoic.
The other scene was the party scene. John is making his rounds with his guests and when he meets a female guest, he grasps her gloved hand for only a moment. But when he goes to Margaret, he holds her un-gloved hand for a full minute before he releases it. That is just as sexy as a passionate kiss!
This whole experience has been incredible. From wonderful conversations with Kristie and Sula who are very intelligent women to getting the word out about works of art that are not usually discussed, I thank you for welcoming to be a part of this!
And every time I see a train, I will think of John as he smiles and gives his one love a simple yellow flower that means so much to her. Not one word of love has been spoken, but there it is in a simple gesture, look and of course a kiss.
And we leave you with the climactic "train scene" to bring some serious romance to your day. (if you haven't seen the film, this would constitute a spoiler...but oh WHAT a delicious spoiler!!)