Wednesday, March 30, 2005
The current frustration in my life at the moment though is the computer. My email is through Microsoft Outlook. Being a very responsible computer owner, I have spam killers, virsus scans, firewalls, all kinds of things. Every so often a message will pop up asking if I want to grant access. I usually hit no. I did this several weeks ago and within days could no longer use my Outlook. It seems I have denied access to myself. I went emailless for a few days and then called the provider we use for the internet. I have a friend who does on-line internet support for a US company and she has remarked that it's really the luck of the draw as to how much the person on the other end of the tech lines knows as to how much help you will get. I must have got THE ROOKIE my first call. He couldn't help me at all. I let it go for another week (I needed that rest period) before I tried it again. This time I got someone who knew what he was doing. Unfortunately I didn't. He kept telling me to go here and go there and I couldn't keep up with him. By the time the phone call winded down I apoligized for being so clueless and taking up so much of his time - I know they are timed on these things. I hate feeling stupid. And I still can't get into my email through Outlook. It's going to take a call to another tech person. I shudder at the thought.
While I was on a roll from that fiasco, I decided to try and fix up this blog and make it a better place to visit. I see other blogs and they are so darned good looking. I thought I would start off small and add links to other blogs. That should be easy right??? HA! Maili is very kindly helping me with it, but I'm making a mess. A complete and utter mess. It's the king of all knotted wool balls. I'm getting so frustrated, I want to take my keyboard and ......... well something.
This reminds me of when I was in grade nine, so many many years ago. Computers were just starting to come into being. This was WAY before the days of PC's. You typed your computer orders on these brown punch cards that were later used as Christmas wreaths. Anyone else remember those? They went kachinging through the mainframe and if you had the slightest little error, nothing happened. I had this little Japanesse teacher who was shorter than me and I'm only 5'2. He spoke with a heavy accent that I had a hard time understanding. Between not understanding what he was saying and not knowing what I was doing, I ended up with a 27/100 mark in that class and I think 26 of those were pity marks. That was the lowest mark I EVER got and traumatized me from computers for many (many) years.
I'm starting to feel the same frustration right about now that I did with the little Japanesse teacher and my mark of 27.
I hate feeling like and idiot, it makes me feel stupid.
On the brighter side, Lost is on in about 10 minutes.
Monday, March 28, 2005
One of my favourite books of 2003 was Lorraine Heath’s contemporary Hard Lovin’ Man. The heroine Kelley Spencer in a series of flashbacks is shown making some very serious mistakes and errors in judgment. Some readers didn’t like her for this reason but I thought they were being rather harsh. She was young and alone in a strange city and because many years ago I was young and living in a strange city, I could forgive her mistakes. By the time the story was taking place, I really thought she had grown as a person and because of this I loved this book.
In a similar vein, another book from the same year is Lady of Desire. I think the heroine Jacinda got a bit of a bad wrap for being foolish and selfish. I won’t argue, she was at the beginning of the book but she had been overprotected by her band of older brothers so I was willing to give her some leeway. By the end of the book, I felt she had really grown as a person and this made the book one of my favourites.
As I look over my all time favourites in case after case it is the heroine who “makes” the book for me. While I love Roarke in the In Death series, it is Eve who I find the most fascinating. It’s Faith Devlin and not Grey in After the Night and Janie Bright in Mr. Perfect by Linda Howard that makes these books so outstanding.
I look at the books that didn’t make the grade for me and in just about every case it was the heroine’s lack of growth or ongoing stupidity that annoyed me to no end. I loved Ride the Fire and almost as much, Sweet Release, but I couldn’t finish Carnal Gift due (what I felt) to monumental and ongoing stupidity of the heroine of that book. Meg Moore of Suzanne Brockman’s The Defiant Hero remains the heroine I LOATHE ABOVE ALL OTHERS. I simply cannot get over her incredibly stupid things she does. Sophia in Lady Sophia's Lover by Lisa Kleypas made this the only Kleypas book I truly didn’t like. In the cases above, I had no problem with the heroes of the books. It was lack of growth that did them in.
Friday, March 25, 2005
And another question I have. Do I really want to go back and read the books I loved so much from so many years ago? What if this happens again? On the one hand I loved the McKinney book. It was a very good visit. It can happen again with my old favourites. On the other hand though, how many of them will I not be able to finish? Many of the other older books I dug out of my pile from the basement have remained in a pile upstairs – somewhere.
Most of the books I reread have been written in the last five to seven years. However some are much older. Susan Anderson’s Exposure was written in 1993 and I reread that one not to long ago and it still held up over time. I think my old Putney’s will too. I’m kind of leery about my old McNaught’s though.
Well, I guess I will just have to try them and see – one book at a time (yea right)
And while I have your attention, can anyone help me with showing links to other blogs? I would love to add links to the other blogs I read and enjoy but have no idea how to do it.
Tuesday, March 22, 2005
I can’t for the life of me figure out what Bo Bice is doing on this show. It seems to me that American Idol is for amateurs hoping to make it big in music. To me, watching him week after week, he is already a star; he just hasn’t gained the attention yet. And I don’t think American Idol is the venue for him to achieve it. From what I’ve read, courtesy of Mrs. Giggles, the winner is tied up and dancing to the tune of the producers for seven years. If that’s true, they have seven years to turn him into something he is not. It’s not really that I want to see him get voted out, he is honestly too good for that. But then I think he’s too good for the whole competition. And he doesn’t exactly strike me as American Idol material. And a further thought; I think Anwar is hot!
As for The Amazing Race; I love Amber and Rob. I loved them on All Star Survivor and I love them on TAR. If you watched the first episode, all the competing teams were saying how tough they were going to be, how every other team should watch out etc. Well Rob and Amber are the team that is actually doing it. It drives me nuts when people say they don’t deserve to win or they’ve already won on Survivor, give someone else a chance. If they win, it’s precisely because they deserve to win. When you get down to it, these are game shows and unless you’re Ken Jennings and you win on Jeopardy because you know all kinds of for the most part useless trivia facts, you win on skill, cunning and luck something they have in spades. I say more power to them. The certainly make the show fun to watch.
Monday, March 21, 2005
Once I got past the prologue, I fell completely and totally in love with this book. For one thing the setting is one I love but is very hard to find - colonial America. The book opens six years later with the hero Nicholas Kenleigh having cut all ties to his family and simply existing as a trapper. After a brief stop at a fort to bathe and get rid of stress in a time honoured way, he is attacked by French trappers. He arrives near death at the homestead of heroine Elspeth (Bethie) Stewart, a young pregnant widow who is near her time. After forcing her at gunpoint to help him she reverses the roles.
Nicholas is a hero in every sense of the word. Although he has trained himself not to feel anything, Bethie slowly begins to melt the ice he has lived with. Bethie had had a very rough time of it herself and it's wonderful to see these two wounded souls heal each other. Nicholas is so patient and understanding with her. Bethie, although very cautious and untrusting is a heroine I enjoyed very much.
Another thing I appreciated about the story is it's not black and white. True the Indians are attacking the settlers, but Ms. Clare shows they aren't all bad and they have their own reasons for doing what they are doing.
The description of the times are superb. I could picture everything so clearly.
I love the movie Last of the Mohicans and this book had a very similar feel to it as the movie. I had no sooner finished reading this book, then I sighed, took a deep breath and began an immediate reread. I think I'm going to be spoiled for the next little while and find it difficult to get into another book. I noticed it just received 5 stars at The Romance Reader. It earned every one of them
Saturday, March 19, 2005
Well, when I got back from my wonderful weekend and the glow had long faded, I was right back to being an island. Only in a way it was more frustrating. I knew there were others like me out there. I’d met them. I had spent time with them. They existed and it wasn’t just my imagination. But how could I find them again? I knew my finances could never stand up to another weekend. I began surfing the net looking for….. something. I was aware of the Romantic Times website. I didn’t really care for it that much. I don’t know if they had the message boards then or not. I found The Romance Reader for reviews. I like this site quite a bit, but it didn’t really have what I was looking for.
Then wonder of wonders, I stumbled across www.allaboutromance.com. When I started visiting the message boards, I felt like I’d struck gold. Finally I thought, I’ve discovered where they are!!!! This is what I had been looking for. Other people like me I can “talk” to on a regular basis. I lurked for quite a while before I got up the nerve to start posting myself. My first post was about romance covers and how I hated the raunchy ones. I commented that when I’m buying a book with one of those covers, I’ll hang back if there are male cashiers until I can go through a female cashier. Wonder of wonders some else posted that she did the same thing.
I can’t imagine anymore not going there to visit whenever the mood strikes me. On occasion for one reason or another, my computer will go down or I’ll be away from a computer for a weekend and I start going through serious withdrawal. There’s always something interesting going on. It’s like a never ending party that you can drop in on whenever you want. And they all have the same thing in common, a deep and abiding love of romance novels. Whether I agree or disagree with some of the comments, I know where they are coming from.
What Laurie Gold and company have accomplished is astounding to me. There are readers from all over the world who visit AAR. Readers from their 80’s down to their teens. Topics run the gamut from what books are must reads to issues readers have with covers. From what are the best romantic movies to whatever happened to such and such author. Sooner or later everything to do with romance pops up there.
There are so many names that are familiar to me now. Xina, Keishon, Maili, Rosario, Sybil and so many more. Although I know I will never meet them, I feel a connection to them. And I realize I am no longer an island. I joke with my family and friends about spending time on the internet with 'my people' but in truth I'm not really joking.
So thank you Laurie and AAR for providing this wonderful place to visit and for all the work all of you do for fellow fans of romance.
It turned into one of the most glorious weekends of my life. I met authors whose work had enthralled me. I will always remember when I ran into Connie Brockway outside one of the meeting rooms and made an idiot out of myself with my awestruck behaviour. She was very understanding about it. Marsha Canham held a party in one of the meeting rooms. What a blast that was. I met Lorraine Heath, an author who amazes me with the poignancy of her writing. Julia London was another wonderful author who was fairly new at the time. The list of authors who I met goes on and on. Connie Mason, whose books I admit I don’t read sat and talked with me for a very long time and I have very fond memories of her. I can't possibly list all the authors I spoke to and had sign my books. I'm not a fan girl by any means but if ever I came close it was that weekend
And the other fans. What can I say? For the first time I was among other people who are as committed to romance as I am. At one of the events they held, they had everyone come up who had more that 1,000 books in their collection. The line was staggering. And I wasn’t even in it. At the time I didn’t have 1,000. I have since long past that mark though. I talked books with complete strangers and they could totally relate to me and I too them. It was incredible. It was amazing.
There were drawbacks to the weekend. The roommates for one thing weren’t quite what I was expecting. The room had two king size beds. I would be sleeping in the same bed with someone I’d never met. Two of them were friends who owned a used book store together. They were very nice and friendly but they were there not for “the experience” , but more for business. And one of them slept on the floor which I thought rather odd. They went to the meetings held for bookstore owners and publishers wanted to make business contacts and grow their business. And the one I had to share a bed with. Well, she was different, I’ll say that for her. She snored. And great leaping lizards did she snore loud. I thought my father was a loud snorer when I was a kid but she made him sound like he had a mild case of the snuffles. And I think every sentence she uttered started with the phrase “well, in my opinion”. And none of her opinions met with mine at all. “Well in my opinion, books written today have way too much sex in them.” “You’ve got to be kidding” I thought to myself. "Well, in my opinion nothing good is being written these days."After 15 minutes in her presence I had to take myself away. I honestly don't know why she was there. Nothing made her happy.
Another huge drawback was the fact I didn’t budget for food. Really huge mistake there. For some reason I had thought all the meals would be provided for. They weren’t. They had two wonderful dinners with parties after that were great loads of fun. And they provided muffins and pastry for breakfast but that was all. With the money I had, I could either save it for the book sale they planned or I could buy myself something to eat. I went with the books of course.
The third problem I had was my back. When I get stressed, it goes straight to my back. And leaving that box, as wonderful as it was, was very stressful. As I've said, I am normally very shy and quiet when meeting new people. For the weekend to mean anything, I had to be someone I not usually am. I had to approach people and introduce myself. It went very well, but it was hard. The Saturday night I could not sleep at all. Between the bedmate that snored to beat the band, and the agony I was in with my back I ended up getting dressed and going down to the lobby of the hotel at 4:30 in the morning, not having got any sleep at all.
It was all worth it though. I left Sunday tired, hurting like the dickens and very very hungry but for the first time in my life I was with my people.
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
Of those 200-250 or so books, I probably enjoy 150 to 200 (or very roughly 75% - my math is probably way out of whack) of them. I’m easily pleased. But every year one or two books grab hold of my and I don’t want to let go. These grabbers are keepers plus. They almost reach the obsession stage. It’s early in year but already the book that has grabbed me this year is To Die For by Linda Howard. I LOVE this book. I love everything LH writes but this one stands above the others. It’s only the middle of March and I’m reading it for the fourth time already. I love Blair!!! She is so unlike the real me, but everything Fantasy Kristie is. She’s a sharp intelligent woman who uses the dumb blond cover very much to her advantage. And I love the way she makes Wyatt, the hero work for everything. I just finished the scene where she’s showing Wyatt’s mother how she can do a one-handed hand stand when Wyatt walks in. That scene cracks me up every time. This is a book I’ll never get tired of.
One of last years’ grabber was Fallen From Grace by Laura Leone. I know it was published in 2004 in hardcover but I waited for the trade size to come out. Even then I had to special order it as the book store never did stock it. I’ve read it 5 times. Beyond A Wicked Kiss by Jo Goodman and Getting What You Want by Kathy Love were also grabbers.
My big grabbers of 2003 were Susan Donovan’s Take A Chance on Me; there was just something about the dog Hairy and Hard Lovin’ Man by Lorraine Heath.
I didn’t have a grabber for 2002; a lot of keepers but no grabbers. My grabbers of 2001 were Whispers of Heaven by Candice Proctor and Master of Desire by Kinley MacGregor.
These are all books I've read at least four times.
I love it when a book grabs me, it doesn;t happen often…..but, it’s hard to move on after reading them. There is always a big let down when I read the final page. It takes a while to get back on the reading railroad so to speak. And I have so many to read I can't afford to wait.
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
Now I am at a new job and things could not be more opposite. Trying to learn something new is always such a struggle. I’m exhausted when I get home from concentrating so hard.
Another thing that is drastically different is the loneliness factor. I had good friends at the old job. Our work stations were an open concept so that I could look up and smile and chat briefly any time of the day. Where I am now, the work stations are almost completely enclosed. It's Dilbert world. While the people seem friendly enough when I am introduced to them, I am eating my lunch alone or at my desk. By nature I am very quiet and shy so it’s very difficult for me to reach out to others. Once I get to know someone, I’m fine and can laugh and joke with them, but I can’t help feeling that my new coworkers must think I’m pretty boring. I’m not really. I can be heaps of fun when I’m relaxed.
Oh well, it’s only been two days. I know I need to give it a lot more time but
I MISS MY OLD FRIENDS. Change, I know, can be good. But sometimes it's just not fun.
Sunday, March 13, 2005
I am currently reading a Harlequin Temptation book, Free Fall by Jill Shalvis. It is light and fluffy and exactly what I need at the moment. Plus so far, it’s a pretty darn good book. I’m starting a new job tomorrow (see previous posts) and after being out of work since last November, I am somewhat anxious about it. I don’t have the concentration power to get into a weightier story right now but I still feel the need to read.
I often find this is the case. Series books are perfect for this. They settle the compulsion I have to read, but they don’t drain me emotionally.
Another reason I appreciate series books is the fact that they are a fast read. I can normally read a book in two days, but sometimes this isn’t possible. If I have a lot going on outside of my reading and don’t have the time or if a book is particularly moving and I’m taking my time with it, it can take me longer to read a book. After this, I like to read a series book to get me back into the timing groove so to speak. If I don't have a lot of distractions, I can read one of these in a day.
Quite a few popular authors started out writing series books; Suzanne Brockman, Linda Howard, Jennifer Cruise among others and it’s always fun to go back and read their roots books.
I will always read series books and I completely recommend them to anyone who hasn’t tried them before to give them a shot. They may be just what you need.
Friday, March 11, 2005
When I'm reading books, I often go through themes. One of my favourite themes are pirate books. When I get into pirate mode I can't get enough of them. I think my devotion with all things pirate; in the fiction world - not in the real world, I know in the real world they weren't people you wanted to run into; started with an obscure little movie titled The King's Pirate with Doug McClure and Jill St. John. If I were to watch this movie today I would probably be horrified that I ever liked it, but back when I first saw it, I was young, impressionable and had a terrific crush on Doug McClure. Whoa am I ever dating myself here.
The plot, from what I remember had Doug McClure going undercover as a pirate to find and arrest some pirates that were runny roughshod over the high seas. He discovers the pirate king's daughter Jill St. John, a pirate in her own right. They fell in love and yadda, yadda, yadda (which really means I don't remember what happened in the movie). But ever since then I perked up whenever pirate movies came out. Who made a better swashbuckler than Errol Flynn? I was burned terribly though with that dreadful Geena Davis movie Cutthroat Island.
As for pirate romance books, I loved the writings of Rafael Sabatini and Frenchman's Creek, a very bittersweet romance by Daphne Du Maurier. Then later, after my hiatus had ended I read Till Dawn Tames the Night by Meagan McKinney. This was my first experience with a HOT pirate book and boy was I impressed. Another one I read and enjoyed was The Pirate Lord by Sabrina Jeffries. Time moved on and I went on to different themes. My interest in pirate adventure stories was revived with the release of Pirates of the Caribbean. Was Johnny Depp not excellent in that movie or what? What followed was a glom of pirate books. I rarely met a pirate book I didn't love. Some of the ones that stood out
The Pirate Next Door and Perils of the Heart by Jennifer Ashley. I loved both of these books but was disappointed in The Pirate Hunter. The Care and Feeding of Pirates I will be reading very shortly.
The Iron Rose by Marsha Canham. This one has a novel twist in that the heroine is the pirate and a better kick ass heroine would be hard to find.
For Her Love and Into His Arms by Paula Reed. Although they weren't technically pirates, they were privateers, as was the hero from Across a Moonlit Sea.
I wanted more and couldn't find them in any of the regular or used book stores. This led me to special order what I wanted from Chapters. This is when I struck gold. The following are the pirate books I ordered and each and every one a delight.
Once a Pirate by Susan Grant was absolutely terrific. It's actually a cross between pirate and time travel another one of my favourite themes. This is a book I will be reading over and over.
The Pirate Prince by Gaelen Foley was the only Foley book I didn't already have and it too is a treasure I now own.
Across a Moonlit Sea by Marsha Canham was a book I somehow missed when it came out. Of course once I read it, I had to go back and reread The Iron Rose.
I know genres fade and swell, not unlike the high seas, but I hope there will always be pirate books. And I'm counting down the time until the sequel to The Pirates of the Caribbean comes out.
It took about a week to catch up on the story lines, six of them. Frightening isn't it? I alternate between quite a few of the soaps and have figured out what is happening in just about all of them. Passions, and General Hospital are the only ones I never got hooked on.
I have come to the conclusion that soaps are the antithesis of romance. They appear to be the visual version of a romance book but in actual fact nothing could be further from the truth.
Take for example, the required HEA in a romance book. Absolutely does not exist in soaps. They start out the same. Character introduction followed by character development. Both soaps and romance books then begin an attraction between two people. We the readers/viewers start to become invested in their romance. Problems arise between our couple whether external problems in the form of a villain or internal problems such as two different sides of the track. So far, not much difference. Then follows the couple finally, finally getting together and have their wonderfully romantic sex scenes. We are happy they finally made it. This is when soaps and romance books take completely opposite directions. In romance books the couple stays together and in the case of series such as the In Death books, we see their relationship grow or they may be secondary characters in following books. Soaps, on the other hand completely annihilate the HEA. They stomp it into the ground. An example of this that I will always remember happened many years ago in the soap As the World Turns. This is the soap I have watched the longest (over 40 years) and know the best. The couple - Betsy (played by Meg Ryan before she became a star) and Steve. They suffered, oh how they suffered in order to get together and I suffered along with them. They were a beautiful couple and deserved to be together but fate and Craig Montgomery kept them apart. I watched, agonized as they were continually kept apart from each other. Finally though, true love brought them together, they were happy, had a child and what happened? In the world of soaps they left the show. Some time later they brought Betsy back (a different Betsy as Meg 'made' it in Hollywood) sans Steve. It turns out that Steve, in order to care for his family, began smuggling drugs in Greece, was caught and sent to prison for the rest of his life. WHAT!!!!!! I had invested so much of my time and emotion in order for THIS to happen? I was devastated.
Think of all the couples in soaps; how many of them have stayed happily together?
Luke & Laura from General Hospital? I don't know if they are together or not. As I said I don't follow this soap although years ago I did watch their wedding as did everyone else at the time.
Bo & Hope from Days of our Lives? They each have died at different times only to be resurrected. They are together but still not happy.
Victor & Nicky from The Young and the Restless? They are together but not happily for any length of time.
Ridge & Brooke from The Bold and the Beautiful? Not really. The writers in their insanity actually had a relationship develop between Ridge and Bridget his stepdaughter who for years he thought of as his natural daughter. Big EEEWWW there let me tell you.
Erica and ??? ?????
Reva and Josh? They are so on again off again one gets dizzy.
I can go on and on but you get the picture.
Another way soaps and romance books are at opposite ends of the spectrum is in the treatment of villains. In romance books they always get theirs. Or in the occasional case, the villain reforms and becomes the hero in another book. Not so in soaps. The villain stays bad and never really dies. Can anyone say James Stenbeck, Adam Chandler, Asa Buchanan, Alan Spaulding, Stephano and/or Tony DiMerra?
Luckily my soap watching days are coming to an end. I just learned that vacation time is over and I will be entering the working world again. Yes I finally got a job and will be starting very shortly. But I will read in the recaps in the Saturday paper to see if Babe and Jamie ever get to live HEA.
Thank heavens, though my romance reading will continue on and I will experience the necessary and vital HEA.
Thursday, March 10, 2005
It's hard to say everything that makes her books so special. One thing that sets her apart is her wonderful ability to make me laugh and cry in a very short period of time, often in the same chapter. She has a wonderful sense of humor and at the same time can write with such poignancy and emotion. Her heroes are all so tortured but yet so noble, even those who have a rocky start. In particular there is a character who makes his appearance in Practice to Deceive, the first book of The Golden Chronicle series. Roland Otton is an utter villian. Yet at the same time there is something very compelling about him. He continues to appear in subsequent books and we learn more about him and why he is the way he is. He finally becomes the hero in the last book of the series The Dedicated Villian and by this time I challenge anyone who reads the whole series not to fall in love with him. He makes the ultimate sacrifice for his lady love and allow himself to be captured and tortured in order to save her life. To this day I still skip the torture scenes as they are too difficult to read.
She writes equally wonderful heroines. Dimity Crawford, the heroine in Love Alters Not is one of my all time favourite heroines of all the books I have read. She is compassionate, loyal and brave.
All of Ms Veryans books are on my keeper shelf and in my more morbid moments, I think that in case of disaster, what would be the first thing I would save. Without question it would be my collection of Patricia Veryan books.