Watch this movie!

Wow! Epic. Visual. Funny.
Beautiful imagery - Stunning locations.
"The Fall"

Trips (for your bathroom)

People You Run Into Every Few Years

I have quite a few people like this in my life - it's probably not a good thing that we fall out of contact, but usually we can pick right up again and I think that's cool. I ran into Jamie Hamilton at Jacob Koestler's opening in Pittsburgh a few weeks ago. I told her about MIoF and 709 and she emailed me about this event she's holding.

My actual RIOT GRRRL knowledge is somewhat limited - I kinda missed the boat, what with only liking Liz Phair and the Breeders for most of my young life. I do love the song "Pretend We're Dead" by L7 - and of course I fully support the ideology of Riot Grrrl culture. This night will be sweet, I'm sure. Funny though that it's been long enough to feel nostalgic. Getting older, I guess.
Check it out if you're in the 'burgh 3 Saturdays from now.


I love made for TV movies!

It's been years since I'd seen this movie - it originally aired on ABC Family, I saw it once and loved it! Not only does this movie star Emma Caulfield (Anya from Buffy the Vampire Slayer) it features Bradley Cooper as a quintessential nice guy. In fact, he's such a good guy in this movie, it's hard to see him playing a jerk in anything else. "I Want to Marry Ryan Banks" takes a tongue-in-cheek look at reality dating programs like the Bachelor and the love story is sweet and strangely believable. So pumped it was on TV again recently and I happened to see it!

"To Love and To Cherish" - Patricia Gaffney - 1995

"To Love and To Cherish" begins Gaffney's "Wyckerly" Trilogy (followed by "To Have and To Hold" and "Forever and Ever") - I'm gonna go ahead and say it's the best without even reading the final installment. It has to be. The second novel with its depressing plot and jerk of a hero is one book I can't seem to get into, no matter how many people say they love it. The hero in "To Love and To Cherish" however, he's a fucking hero, man. I know I shouldn't curse while talking about a man of the cloth, but, Christian Morell, he's cool, he'd give me a pass. He's what romance readers call a Beta Hero, meaning he's the opposite of the Alpha Male - but he isn't weak, he shows his strengths through discipline and faith rather than arrogance or brutality. Christy is a good man with good intentions, but he doubts his calling and doubts he can live up to his father's reputation as the previous Vicar of Wyckerly. He is not truly tested however, until the new lord (and former childhood friend) Geoffrey Verlaine inherits and comes home to Wyckerly with a wife in tow.

Anne Verlaine is a complex and interesting heroine. She's unhappy but not a victim -she was raised on the continent by a bohemian father and has rather modern views on love and sexuality. We learn about Anne through her diary entries, in a slightly different style than any I can recall. Anne is funny, and sometimes cranky, and more than a little insecure with her position as lady of the manor. Christy is first and foremost a confidant, ally and friend. He fights his attraction to Anne, and she only indulges in hers secretly between the pages of her journal.

There were many points during the course of this book where I sat on the edge of my seat, lifted to emotional highs and terrified Gaffney would ruin the whole thing with a "big misunderstanding" of the lowest kind. She mostly succeeds - there is one issue I could have done without, and the tension between the H/H becomes nearly unbearable at its peak, but I choose to follow in Christy Morell's shining example and give Gaffney a pass. "To Love and To Cherish" features a a love story of real depth and a hero I won't soon forget.

From My Keeper Shelf

"As You Desire" - Connie Brockway 1997

Okay, well first I should say that I love this book. I just found it a few months ago – I read it in practically one sitting. I loved the hero and the heroine, the setting, and the wonderful cast of eccentric characters. So, let me tell you how bummed I am that my own mother -did not even finish this book!! But she's my mom and I'll give her the benefit of the doubt, but only because she's my mom! She's busy, right now she's forced to read in slow installments and yeah, that's no way to really lose yourself in a book...but, I wish she liked it as much as I do! However, since romance novels are our largest common denominator, I will not squabble over particular likes and dislikes. My mom may not have liked it, but I think she’s the exception more than the rule.

In her DIK review over at AAR, Marianne Stillings says, "When Harry Met Dizzy. Only better." That expression was in my head throughout the entirety of this book, it's so fitting. The dialog is smart, and the characters are smarter. Harry Braxton is the most charming and endearing hero I've read in a long time. He's a self-made man with a secret, but this is no over-the-top melodrama. His fears are real (in his own mind at least) - and the reader sympathizes with him. In fact, when I first began "As You Desire" I was so taken with Harry, I couldn't help impatiently waiting to hear his perspective. Every new chapter - I was ready for it, but Ms. Brockway is too smart for that. She makes the reader wait, building relationships between all the players in this story, not just the H/H. Boy, when you finally learn Harry's true thoughts and feelings - well, it's fantastic -totally worth the 140 or so pages beforehand.

Sometimes in romance, when an author creates a dazzling hero, often they can't create a heroine to compare. "Dizzy" aka Desdemona Carlisle is a delightful match for Harry, in fact, she complements him perfectly in her skills and abilities and love of Egypt. From the very first scene with Dizzy sparks just fly. They're friends, yes, but on every page they walk a fine line between easy familiarity and so much more. Desdemona opens the book, and you get a sense of her life experiences, desires, and humor from page one. She’s been stolen from the market, a little bored and more than a little drunk – and spinning tales of an imaginary hero when Harry appears on the scene.

This book is set in Cairo - but it isn't a Cairo you would expect to find in a romance. Really. I only remember one camel and they only venture outside of the city because Desdemona has the misfortune to be kidnapped, twice, in a week. The novel takes place over a relatively short time period, but it never feels too fast, due to the personal history of leads. Brockway also shows Cairo itself from many perspectives: archeologists and adventurers, museum curators from all over the world vying for chunks of history, and the various cultures native to the land struggling to preserve their own history.

1982 Wall Calendar (N. Central Austin)

"Paper 13 month Calendar, Dec. 1981 - December 1982.
Complimentary "Seasons Greetings"
from Hyde Park Electric, Austin,TX
Good condition."


It's almost as if these cats know. Look at those eyes.

Private Arrangements - Sherry Thomas 2008

This book came out last year to a lot of Internet hype, including glowing reviews and tons of threads on Internet message boards. I am usually too cheap to buy books at full cost, especially one by a new author, so let me tell you I was pumped to find "Private Arrangements" at Goodwill last week. I actually feel like there isn't much more I can add to what has already been said - but here are some of my thoughts.

This was an angsty novel that is set over a 10 year time period told partially with flashbacks. Thomas has a deft hand, the time changes made sense to tell the complete story and were not hard to follow. Typically I'm not a fan of long separations in romance novels, but the way this story is told, you never feel like the hero and heroine spent a decade apart. A few minor issues for me include thinking the name "Gigi" is annoying. (It's not Leslie Caron's fault, I blame Gilmore Girls!) And the leads are not always likable in this book. The heroine was mercenary, but the hero was the one who was mean and vindictive. And obviously they're a very stubborn pair - it's the premise of the book. Although these characters marry young and quickly, I find it difficult to believe the misunderstanding was enough to keep them apart for as long as it did. (There is a nice missed chance about halfway through their time apart, but even 5 years is a long time). In theory, Camden wouldn't have returned to England until he needed an heir, or not at all - if Gigi hadn't petitioned for divorce first. Which leads me to another pet peeve, adultery - which I guess is understandable in the case of a 10 year separation, but it usually takes me out of the story. I do credit the author for her rather modern approach to relationships by allowing Gigi to take lovers instead of pining away and going without for a decade because her husband left her. I'd much rather see both parties involved in other relationships than just the husband living it up with one or more mistresses while his wife is expected to remain pure, true, and well, unsatisfied.

I feel kind of bad about picking this story apart - Thomas has managed to cause a stir and back it up with strong narrative and characters with depth. I did not love this book, and I can't say it's a keeper for me, but I do consider "Private Arrangements" a very successful debut with one of the most elegant covers I've seen in a long time. Plus Thomas credits bloggers and the Internet with her success, and talks as herself on message boards, which is undeniably cool to be on a personal level with readers. I look forward to hearing more from her and hope to find "Delicious" at the Goodwill soon.