March in review

March was such a BLAH reading month for me, especially after February’s fabulosity:

These Old Shades, Georgette Heyer A-

The Last Lecture, Dr. Randy Pausch A-

Never Seduce a Scoundrel, Sabrina Jefferies B+

Vexing the Viscount, Emily Bryan B+

Twilight, Stephenie Meyer B

New Moon, Stephenie Meyer B

Foul Play, Janet Evanovich, B

Blue Christmas, Mary Kay Andrews B

Velvet Glove, Emma Holly B

Mr. Midshipman Hornblower, by C.S. Forester B-

Remember Me?, Sophie Kinsella C

The Secret Heiress, Judith Gould D

I’m still pissed about the wasted time reading The Secret Heiress, I could have used that time so much more productively, like flossing my teeth.

This list is added, as always, to my Finished Reading page there on the side bar. There are some seksi hot titles up to bat on my TBR list, but I’m thinking of re-reading some old favorites that are always guaranteed to satisfy my lust.

Another quick fix to up my happiness level can always come from Kedzie, our resident mutt. This is her impression of the dramatic chipmunk:

How could that face not make you smile?

How could that face not make you smile?

She loves hanging out in our backyard (yeah we have a backyard in the city, be jealous. we nicknamed it “the alley”).

Velvet Glove, by Emma Holly

I started reading romance novels in 8th grade, giggling at the mall’s bookstore with my girlfriends in our mini-packpacks full of Claire’s earrings, snickering at the sex scenes. We got kicked out one time actually.

Although my introduction to the genre was out of immaturity, they became the mainstay in my reading habits and I was ALWAYS embarrassed that I read them. Literally until 3 months ago when I discovered romance book blogs and realized there is a WHOLE HUGE part of world (wide web) who appreciates, respects, and luurrves them too.

velvet-gloveAs I felt more empowered about my reading choices I found that I hadn’t taken the next step in my lusty reading journey: Erotic Romance. I still know VERY little about this sub-genre, but if traditional romance already prompts the horrible stereotype of porno/recycled/bad writing, erotic romance has an even WORSE rep.

Boy are they wrong. I picked up Emma Holly’s Velvet Glove based on a few good reviews and found one of the BEST WRITTEN PASSAGES of how love starts and grows, unbeknownst to the person themselves. Check out Holly’s FABULOUS skills:

She closed her eyes. Deep inside her, in the recesses of her soul, something sparked and began to burn like a tiny candle. The something had never been there before: not for her father [and] not for her mother… It hadn’t been there for any of her ex-boyfriends, or for Sterling… Nor had it been there for Tommy, her best friend, though of all the people she’d known, he’d come the closest to lighting it.

If she suspected how small and fragile the something was, she might have blown it out. As it happened, however, she barely registered its presence. She certainly didn’t know what it was. Consequently, as Audrey slept in Patrick’s arms, the little flame burnt merrily, a sneak thief, a harbinger of things to come.

The imagery evoked a powerful response in me and stayed with me through the rest of the book – I felt, saw, and cherished that flame as Audrey and Patrick’s relationship developed.

So there, erotic romance CAN be well written. But that doens’t mean this story and characters totally worked for me…

Now I definitely didn’t read Velvet Glove on the metro, and when hubby saw the cover I wasn’t 100% upfront with him about what I was reading at the time, but I wasn’t as sketched out or embarrassed as I thought I would be, and will definitely be checking out more reviews for well-written erotic romance in the future.

Read on for the summary of Velvet Glove and what I thought overall: Continue reading

Friday Finds (March 27)

friday_finds2Last night I couldn’t string two words together to form a coherent thought. After I grunted at him, hubby remarked in an observant voice, “The blogs ate your brain.” Is it normal that I’m blogging, tweeting, commenting, wikipedia-ing, and googling three or more hours a day? My brain aren’t working right. But all my internet wanderings DID yield some great Friday Finds hosted my MizB!

  • Revealed, by Kate Noble– Saw an intriguing review on one of my newly discovered romance book blogs The Book Smugglers(I’m behind the times, how did I not know about them before? They’re faboosh. But hey, I only just read/watched Twilight. I can’t be trendy ALL the time.)
  • Remember Me?, by Sophie Kinsella– I’m burnt out on Becky Bloomwood and my same friend who loaned me Can You Keep a Secret? a few weeks ago gave me this one this week. Apparently she is klepto for Kinsella books. Also, why does Kinsella keep making her titles questions? Weird.
  • Tall Tales and Wedding Veils, by Jane Graves– The title lept out at me when I saw this on the recently announced Romance Writers of America RITA nominee list. The summary doesn’t look half bad either (I’m a discerning reader huh?)  although I’m picturing Cameron Diaz and her flop of a movie with Ashton.

national_cherryblossomI also picked up the first two Horatio Hornblower books at the library yesterday, but my parents are in town for the Cherry Blossom Festival (hellloooo tourist season! I WILL be in some sidewalk battles this weekend) so I don’t know how much reading I’ll get in, but I’m proud to keep crossing titles off my Friday Finds list!

What’s with today, today?

While technically these events didn’t happen today, I’m still using that line from Empire Records. Really what I want to say, is what’s with my Universe of Loved Ones?

That movie had a happy ending, right? That’s what I need right now…

That or my Lisa Frank trapper keeper from 2nd grade! Smiling-bubble-cartoon-neon-colored animals and rainbows were an instant happiness improvement :

 lisa_frank3

 Well actually maybe that only worked when I was 7. Being upset over spelling socks as “sox” on a spelling test (what I’m from Chicago) isn’t quite as heavy as life at 25.

Something is out of balance; bad health has struck my nearest and dearest. 

What I didn’t mention before is that our epic trip to Houston was overshadowed by Hubby’s grandmother being carted away to the hospital the moment we arrived. We were able to visit her several times and while she is doing better, we know it was only one of many stints she has had, and will have more.

My bestest bestie called last night – in a recent appointment her doctor found something requiring minimal surgery; but may have other scary issues.

The sweetest, nicest, most supportive mom of one of my closest friends was just diagnosed with breast cancer.

Hubby’s eye doctor appointment yesterday uncovered “something unusual” that needs further examination by a specialist.

I don’t want to share any details, but the outlook is super positive in all these situations so I’m not at a freak out point and realize there is no use worrying about something you can’t control and will most likely be just fine.

I just wanted to breifly acknowldge these are the people nearest to my heart in the world… I love them and am praying for them.

And am sending Lisa Frank happy thoughts too.

 lisafrankballoon

Now off the library for a stack of romance novels with happy endings…

And so the lion fell in love with the lamb

Stayed up way too late watching Twilight the movie and the second DVD with all the special features. I just signed up for Twitter and was tweeting as I watched, so instead of re-writing anything, here are my thoughts as they happened (in 140 characters or less of course!):

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  1. now that i’ve read midnight sun and twilight i think i’m ready for the Twilight movie. ALWAYS gotta read the book version first!
  2. just pressed play on twilight. first meeting with jacob was super awkward…due to their bad acting together
  3. r patz american accent sounds sooo fake
  4. is esme the same actress who was the crazy chick from greys anatomy? you know the amnesia patient that karev had a thing with?
  5. wtf he just called her a spider monkey. that is not sexy nor romantic
  6. yay lots more kissing in the movie than in the book
  7. sad that its 10:20 and hubby’s still not home from work. but that means i can watch disc 2 special features without him harumphing!
  8. can’t decide my favorite scene, when edward rolled the apple up into his hands like the cover? or all the kissing scenes?

The visual rendering was brilliant, so many of the scenes I played in my head while reading were only enhanced by the good old Hollywood magic.

 

But too many good parts were left out, and sometimes my imagination was far superior of what ended up on the screen.

 

What surprised me the most was that I really liked Kristen Stewart as Bella. I thought she said her lines a too fast a lot and she had some awkward acting moments, but she was my favorite actor in the movie. I think my opinion was prejudiced by Perez Hilton’s snarkiness towards her, but I thought she was fabulous.

 

And she has super-great-cute-brown-hair. I heart her hair.

Twilight and New Moon, by Stephenie Meyer

Don’t you hate it when you’re trying to explain something to a friend and they don’t “get it”? Or when you really hate something, but your friend inexplicably likes it? Why don’t they “get it”??? Or you snigger at some weirdo walking by and tell your friend to look at how odd that person is and they don’t laugh and don’t GET IT.

This is when I make these noises: sigh, double sigh, arrgghhh, harumph. You have to give up, “getting it” can be beyond words sometimes and its SO frustrating when others don’t pick up on what you consider to be too obvious to explain.

So why have I described this awful feeling? Because you are about to feel it…

twilightI didn’t really like the Twilight books. newmoon

They were ok I guess, average young adult fiction, pretty entertaining and somewhat original. But my expectations were Harry Potter high and they didn’t even come close. The first person narrative from Bella’s point of view made me think she was stupid, reeeeeeeally whiney, annoying, and undeserving of all the “speshul attention” she was getting. I graded Twilight and New Moon with a C- after finishing them, telling hubby there was no way I was going to read the last two.

I decided I just didn’t get it. Their “love” didn’t seem real or that exciting, their drama too petty, I didn’t get why their romance was such a big deal.

But then I took to the interwebs to do a bit of research beyond the usual “OMG SQUEEEE Edward Cullen is HOTT and sparkly” and take a gander at some of the more serious analyses and reviews. My first stop was Stephenie Meyer’s webpage so I could get a bit of the backstory on her and there I found **trumpets blare, angels sing helleluja** her rough draft of Midnight Sun.

I opened the 264 page PDF written from Edward’s point of view and saw the sparkly light. I GOT IT.

I spent almost 3 hours reading it at my desk, hey we’re in a hiring freeze, as the lone recruiter for my office I have NOTHING to do. And I CRIED at my desk. Just some little sniffles. But this excerpt hugely contributed to my about-face:

Page 217 of Midnight Sun

For one moment, the hag-faced fate I’d imagined, the one who sought Bella’s destruction, was replaced by the most foolish and reckless of angels. A guardian angel – something Carlisle’s version of me might have had. With a heedless smile on her lips, her sky-colored eyes full of mischeif, the angel formed Bella in such a fashion that there was no way I could possibly overlook her. A ridiculously potent scent to demand my attention, a slient mind to enflame my curiosity, a quiet beauty to hold my eyes, a selfless soul to earn my awe. Leave out the natural sense of self-preservation- so that Bella could bare to be near me-and finally, add a wide streak of appallingly bad luck.

With a careless laugh, the irresponsible angel propelled her fragile creation directly into my path, trusting blithley in my flawed morality to keep Bella alive.

In this vision I was not Bella’s sentence; she was my reward.

I fell in love with Bella right along side Edward. I finally saw her kindness, bravery, selflessness, maturity, intelligence, sensitivity, and warmth. All these qualities were not as obvious from Bella’s point of view because she was HUMBLE and let’s be honest, super niave. Reading from inside Edward’s head explained so much that I had overlooked in Twilight, so many nuances and depths to his character that I hadn’t picked up on or imagined.

This insight earned the books a B for me, still not an A and here is why: Continue reading

We had us a hog-killin’ time

*Note: no hogs were hurt in the writing of this blog

High school in the suburbs of Chicago did not prepare me for the culture shock of college in North Carolina (sweet tea and cheerwine what? how do i not have 89324 cavities?). Similarly, Winston-Salem did not prepare me for the Lone Star State. In all my born days I ain’t never seen the likes o’ the folk at the Houston Rodeo.

I LOVED it, had a fabulous time, especially as I had plenty of undisturbed travel time to read 1200 pages of Edward and Bella’s angst. I had to hush hubby a few times, but I got through both Twilight and New Moon before the plane touched down back in DC!

My favorite souvenir is my program with the line up of all the rodeo participants. Their names were priceless. Cowboy names definitely differ from the wacky Southern names I was exposed to in school.

For anyone writing romance novels and looking for good cowboy names, my favorites were:

  • Cade Swor
  • Clint Cannon
  • Bud Munns
  • Dusty LaValley
  • The roping team Chance Kelton and Rich Skelton (imagine hearing Kelton and Skelton multiple times over the speakers!)

And last, but certainly not least, when this name was announced I thought it was the name of the bull he was about to ride:

Howdy Cloud

Luckily hubby’s aunt dressed the part so I didn’t have to ask random strangers to pose in their outfits. I don’t think they would have liked that.

Her belt jingled when she walked

Her belt jingled when she walked

Surprisingly my sundress and Rainbow flippers didn’t make me stand out as much as I thought I would. The crowd was amazingly diverse. I DID fit in 100% when I was eating a corn dog the size of my ARM (smallest size) but you will not be seeing any pics of that.

me_texashat 

 

Our dinky point-and-shoot camera doesn’t quite capture the moment, nor how great our seats were. His family has season tickets at Reliant Stadium where the rodeo was held (the Houston Texans play there, yeah they’re an NFL team, I was not familiar with them). Also, did you know that the Astrodome is condemned? It was right next door and didn’t look any worse than RFK to me!

dscf0272

PS: 60 THOUSAND people were there, this was the championship (they can make over $300K a year winning these events) and that was just above the average size crowd for the past 19 days, so it wasn’t just cuz Brooks n Dunn were playing that night! How in tarnation had I been missing out on such a great time?