Wednesday, October 31, 2007

It's Halloween!

Today is a very scary day! (you should what my desk at work looks like. Now this give a new meaning to the word scary!) I give you a spine tingling story from the master of horror- Mr. Edgar Allen Poe:
TRUE! nervous, very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why WILL you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses, not destroyed, not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How then am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily, how calmly, I can tell you the whole story.
It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain, but, once conceived, it haunted me day and night. Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! Yes, it was this! One of his eyes resembled that of a vulture -- a pale blue eye with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me my blood ran cold, and so by degrees, very gradually, I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye for ever.
Now this is the point. You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen me. You should have seen how wisely I proceeded -- with what caution -- with what foresight, with what dissimulation, I went to work! I was never kinder to the old man than during the whole week before I killed him. And every night about midnight I turned the latch of his door and opened it oh, so gently! And then, when I had made an opening sufficient for my head, I put in a dark lantern all closed, closed so that no light shone out, and then I thrust in my head. Oh, you would have laughed to see how cunningly I thrust it in! I moved it slowly, very, very slowly, so that I might not disturb the old man's sleep. It took me an hour to place my whole head within the opening so far that I could see him as he lay upon his bed. Ha! would a madman have been so wise as this? And then when my head was well in the room I undid the lantern cautiously -- oh, so cautiously -- cautiously (for the hinges creaked), I undid it just so much that a single thin ray fell upon the vulture eye. And this I did for seven long nights, every night just at midnight, but I found the eye always closed, and so it was impossible to do the work, for it was not the old man who vexed me but his Evil Eye. And every morning, when the day broke, I went boldly into the chamber and spoke courageously to him, calling him by name in a hearty tone, and inquiring how he had passed the night. So you see he would have been a very profound old man, indeed , to suspect that every night, just at twelve, I looked in upon him while he slept.
Upon the eighth night I was more than usually cautious in opening the door. A watch's minute hand moves more quickly than did mine. Never before that night had I felt the extent of my own powers, of my sagacity. I could scarcely contain my feelings of triumph. To think that there I was opening the door little by little, and he not even to dream of my secret deeds or thoughts. I fairly chuckled at the idea, and perhaps he heard me, for he moved on the bed suddenly as if startled. Now you may think that I drew back -- but no. His room was as black as pitch with the thick darkness (for the shutters were close fastened through fear of robbers), and so I knew that he could not see the opening of the door, and I kept pushing it on steadily, steadily.
I had my head in, and was about to open the lantern, when my thumb slipped upon the tin fastening , and the old man sprang up in the bed, crying out, "Who's there?"
I kept quite still and said nothing. For a whole hour I did not move a muscle, and in the meantime I did not hear him lie down. He was still sitting up in the bed, listening; just as I have done night after night hearkening to the death watches in the wall.
Presently, I heard a slight groan, and I knew it was the groan of mortal terror. It was not a groan of pain or of grief -- oh, no! It was the low stifled sound that arises from the bottom of the soul when overcharged with awe. I knew the sound well. Many a night, just at midnight, when all the world slept, it has welled up from my own bosom, deepening, with its dreadful echo, the terrors that distracted me. I say I knew it well. I knew what the old man felt, and pitied him although I chuckled at heart. I knew that he had been lying awake ever since the first slight noise when he had turned in the bed. His fears had been ever since growing upon him. He had been trying to fancy them causeless, but could not. He had been saying to himself, "It is nothing but the wind in the chimney, it is only a mouse crossing the floor," or, "It is merely a cricket which has made a single chirp." Yes he has been trying to comfort himself with these suppositions ; but he had found all in vain. ALL IN VAIN, because Death in approaching him had stalked with his black shadow before him and enveloped the victim. And it was the mournful influence of the unperceived shadow that caused him to feel, although he neither saw nor heard, to feel the presence of my head within the room.
When I had waited a long time very patiently without hearing him lie down, I resolved to open a little -- a very, very little crevice in the lantern. So I opened it -- you cannot imagine how stealthily, stealthily -- until at length a single dim ray like the thread of the spider shot out from the crevice and fell upon the vulture eye.
It was open, wide, wide open, and I grew furious as I gazed upon it. I saw it with perfect distinctness -- all a dull blue with a hideous veil over it that chilled the very marrow in my bones, but I could see nothing else of the old man's face or person, for I had directed the ray as if by instinct precisely upon the damned spot.
And now have I not told you that what you mistake for madness is but over-acuteness of the senses? now, I say, there came to my ears a low, dull, quick sound, such as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I knew that sound well too. It was the beating of the old man's heart. It increased my fury as the beating of a drum stimulates the soldier into courage.
But even yet I refrained and kept still. I scarcely breathed. I held the lantern motionless. I tried how steadily I could maintain the ray upon the eye. Meantime the hellish tattoo of the heart increased. It grew quicker and quicker, and louder and louder, every instant. The old man's terror must have been extreme! It grew louder, I say, louder every moment! -- do you mark me well? I have told you that I am nervous: so I am. And now at the dead hour of the night, amid the dreadful silence of that old house, so strange a noise as this excited me to uncontrollable terror. Yet, for some minutes longer I refrained and stood still. But the beating grew louder, louder! I thought the heart must burst. And now a new anxiety seized me -- the sound would be heard by a neighbour! The old man's hour had come! With a loud yell, I threw open the lantern and leaped into the room. He shrieked once -- once only. In an instant I dragged him to the floor, and pulled the heavy bed over him. I then smiled gaily, to find the deed so far done. But for many minutes the heart beat on with a muffled sound. This, however, did not vex me; it would not be heard through the wall. At length it ceased. The old man was dead. I removed the bed and examined the corpse. Yes, he was stone, stone dead. I placed my hand upon the heart and held it there many minutes. There was no pulsation. He was stone dead. His eye would trouble me no more.
If still you think me mad, you will think so no longer when I describe the wise precautions I took for the concealment of the body. The night waned, and I worked hastily, but in silence.
I took up three planks from the flooring of the chamber, and deposited all between the scantlings. I then replaced the boards so cleverly so cunningly, that no human eye -- not even his -- could have detected anything wrong. There was nothing to wash out -- no stain of any kind -- no blood-spot whatever. I had been too wary for that.
When I had made an end of these labours, it was four o'clock -- still dark as midnight. As the bell sounded the hour, there came a knocking at the street door. I went down to open it with a light heart, -- for what had I now to fear? There entered three men, who introduced themselves, with perfect suavity, as officers of the police. A shriek had been heard by a neighbour during the night; suspicion of foul play had been aroused; information had been lodged at the police office, and they (the officers) had been deputed to search the premises.
I smiled, -- for what had I to fear? I bade the gentlemen welcome. The shriek, I said, was my own in a dream. The old man, I mentioned, was absent in the country. I took my visitors all over the house. I bade them search -- search well. I led them, at length, to his chamber. I showed them his treasures, secure, undisturbed. In the enthusiasm of my confidence, I brought chairs into the room, and desired them here to rest from their fatigues, while I myself, in the wild audacity of my perfect triumph, placed my own seat upon the very spot beneath which reposed the corpse of the victim.
The officers were satisfied. My MANNER had convinced them. I was singularly at ease. They sat and while I answered cheerily, they chatted of familiar things. But, ere long, I felt myself getting pale and wished them gone. My head ached, and I fancied a ringing in my ears; but still they sat, and still chatted. The ringing became more distinct : I talked more freely to get rid of the feeling: but it continued and gained definitiveness -- until, at length, I found that the noise was NOT within my ears.
No doubt I now grew VERY pale; but I talked more fluently, and with a heightened voice. Yet the sound increased -- and what could I do? It was A LOW, DULL, QUICK SOUND -- MUCH SUCH A SOUND AS A WATCH MAKES WHEN ENVELOPED IN COTTON. I gasped for breath, and yet the officers heard it not. I talked more quickly, more vehemently but the noise steadily increased. I arose and argued about trifles, in a high key and with violent gesticulations; but the noise steadily increased. Why WOULD they not be gone? I paced the floor to and fro with heavy strides, as if excited to fury by the observations of the men, but the noise steadily increased. O God! what COULD I do? I foamed -- I raved -- I swore! I swung the chair upon which I had been sitting, and grated it upon the boards, but the noise arose over all and continually increased. It grew louder -- louder -- louder! And still the men chatted pleasantly , and smiled. Was it possible they heard not? Almighty God! -- no, no? They heard! -- they suspected! -- they KNEW! -- they were making a mockery of my horror! -- this I thought, and this I think. But anything was better than this agony! Anything was more tolerable than this derision! I could bear those hypocritical smiles no longer! I felt that I must scream or die! -- and now -- again -- hark! louder! louder! louder! LOUDER! --
"Villains!" I shrieked, "dissemble no more! I admit the deed! -- tear up the planks! -- here, here! -- it is the beating of his hideous heart!"

PS- Can anyone name the story?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Top 100 Romance Woes

I am jealous because Kristie has a very excellent and complete list of her top 100 romances of all time. I could only come up with 50 and to be honest, after my top 20 I just listed the books that have had a lasting memory for me. This is really hard to come up with my ultimte books list. My top ten were easy to come by, but after that I had to look on my bookshelf, go to websites for direction and check old lists... Well, you get the point!
On my My Space blog last week, I listed my top ten and why they are listed that way and what each book meant to me, but here I give you my top 50 romances. My top ten may surprise some because the majority of those books are written before 1950.

Wuthering Heights- Emily Bronte
Jane Eyre- Charlotte Brontë
Gone With the Wind- Margaret Mitchell
The Bronze Horseman- Paulina Simons
Tatiana and Alexander- Paulina Simons
The Passion- Donna Boyd
A Long Fatal Love Chase- Louisa May Alcott
A Rose at Midnight- Anne Stuart
The Hunchback of Notre Dame- Victor Hugo
Phantom of the Opera- Gaston Leroux
Lord of Scoundrels- Loretta Chase
All Through the Night- Connie Brockway
Flowers from the Storm- Laura Kinsale
Annie’s Song- Catherine Anderson
Suddenly You- Lisa Kleypas
Dreaming of You- Lisa Kleypas
Winter Garden- Adele Ashworth
Once in a Blue Moon- Penelope Williamson
The Warlord- Elizabeth Elliott
Lady Sophia’s Lover- Julia Kleypas
Everything and the Moon- Julia Quinn
Darkling I Listen- Katherine Sutcliffe
Where Dreams Begin- Lisa Kleypas
Dancing at Midnight- Julia Quinn
Honor’s Splendor- Julie Garwood
The Prize- Julie Garwood
Saving Grace- Julie Garwood
Lion’s Lady- Julie Garwood
Guardian Angel- Julie Garwood
The Wedding- Julie Garwood
Then You Came- Lisa Kleypas
Kingdom of Dreams- Judith McNaught
Hummingbird- LaVyrle Spencer
Demon Angel- Meljean Brook
Demon Moon- Meljean Brook
Phantom Waltz- Catherine Anderson
Lightning That Lingers- Sharon and Tom Curtis
Sleeping Beauty- Judith Ivory
Cry No More- Linda Howard
One Summer- Karen Robards
Seduction by Design- Sandra Brown
Fanta C- Sandra Brown
Naked in Death- JD Robb
Lover Eternal- JR Ward
The Real Deal- Lucy Monroe
Open Season- Linda Howard
Catherine- Anya Seton
Outlander- Diana Gabaldon
Dragonfly in Amber- Diana Gabaldon
Courting Miss Hattie- Pamela Morsi

My top three all have individual stories on why I picked them and it took me awhile to decide what numbers they should be because they mean so much to me and I read all those books before I was eighteen.
Wuthering Heights is my ultimate romance. Catherine is my name, just like Cathy and to this day every hero pales in comparison to Heathcliffe. (Sorry Derek!)
Jane Eyre was read my Junior year of high school. Between this book and Wuthering Heights, I had re-read each more times than I can count. I wanted to be Jane. She is the perfect example of girl power and what a true heroine should be.
Gone with the Wind was almost my number one read. By the time I was thirteen I hated to read, so much to the point my parents were worried about me. It has been a tradition in my family from my great-grandmother for each daughter to read Gone with the Wind. My mother simply asked me to sit down and read this book and than she wouldn't bother me anymore. Three days later, I devoured those pages and asked for more!
And if I have a daughter, I will do the same. :)


Real Quickie

Rosie had a good mail day yesterday and received North and South in the mail. She watched it. She liked it. She's going to watch it again!

t'il later

Monday, October 29, 2007

My top 100

Just in case you haven't heard, though I'm sure you have, AAR is holding a poll on your top 100 favourite romances of all time. It took me a while to do mine, I wanted to be sure that I included all I wanted too - and I still feel like I didn't get them all in. And ranking was very hard too! Although my top 25 - 30 were pretty set, the rest was very difficult and could just as easily be a different order. I sent it in last night so here they are:


Dreaming of You

Lisa Kleypas


Lord of Scoundrels

Loretta Chase


Ride the Fire

Pamela Clare


After the Night

Linda Howard


Whispers of Heaven

Candice Proctor


One Summer

Karen Robards


Outlaw Hearts

Roseanne Bittner


Morning Glory

Lavryle Spencer


Take A Chance On Me

Susan Donavan



Susan Anderson


Lips That Touch Mine

Wendy Lindstrom



Tom and Sharon Curtis


Conor's Way

Laura Lee Guhrke


Once a Pirate

Susan Grant


Beyond a Wicked Kiss

Jo Goodman


The Serpent Prince

Elizabeth Hoyt


Sweet Lullabye

Lorraine Heath


Joe's Wife

Cheryl St. John


Kinsman's Oath

Susan Krinard


Sky Pirate

Justine Dare


Wild At Heart

Patricia Gaffney


See Jane Score

Rachel Gibson


Mr. Perfect

Linda Howard


Born in Death

JD Robb


Lord of the Storm

Justine Dare


Love Alters Not

Patricia Veryan


If His Kiss is Wicked

Jo Goodman


Silk and Shadows

Mary Jo Putney


Thunder and Roses

Mary Jo Putney


Dream Fever

Katherine Sutcliffe


The Outsider

Penelope Williamson


A Reason to Believe

Maureen McKade


To Die For

Linda Howard


Drop Dead Gorgeous

Linda Howard


Once and Always

Judith McNaught


Fallen From Grace

Laura Leone


Bone Deep

Bonnie Dee


Absolute Trouble

Michelle Jerrott


Hard Lovin' Man

Lorraine Heath



Patricia Potter


Portait in Death

JD Robb


The Bronze Horseman

Paulinna Simons


Heart Throb

Suzanne Brockman


Sunshine and Shadow

Tom and Sharon Curtis


The Rainbow Season

Lisa Gregory


Suddenly You

Lisa Kleypas


The Panther and the Pyramid

Bonnie Vanak


The Shadow and the Star

Laura Kinsale


Games of Command

Linnea Sinclair


Dangerous Lover

Lisa Marie Rice


Darkling I Listen

Katherine Sutcliffe


Lady Gallant

Suzanne Robinson


Jackson Rule

Dinah McCall


Be My Baby

Susan Anderson


Beyond Sunrise

Candice Proctor


Get Lucky

Suzanne Brockman


All Through the Night

Connie Brockway


Letters From A Stranger

Connie Rinehold


My Forever Love

Marsha Canham


Captives of the Night

Loretta Chase


The Raven Prince

Elizabeth Hoyt


Crazy Cool

Tara Janzen


River of Dreams

Glenna McReynolds


Bet Me

Jennifer Crusie


My False Heart

Liz Carlyle


A Dangerous Man

Connie Brockway


Tiger Eye

Karen Robards


Gabriel's Ghost

Linnea Sinclair



Judy Cuevas


Cool Shade

Teresa Weir


Flowers From the Storm

Laura Kinsale


Dedicated Villain

Patricia Veryan


Off Limits

Michelle Albert



Laura Lee Guhrke


Winter Garden

Adele Ashworth


The Devil in Winter

Lisa Kleypas


Keeper of the Dream

Penelope Williamson


The Warlord

Elizabeth Elliot



Dorothy Garlock


Lover Eternal

JR Ward


Truly Madly Yours

Rachel Gibson


The Iron Rose

Marsha Canham


Light My Fire

Jane Graves



Candice Camp


The Cobra and The Concubine

Bonnie Vanak


The Nightingale's Song

Kathleen Eschenberg


Night Of The Phantom

Anne Stuart



Lavryle Spencer


My Dark Prince

Jean Ross Ewing


Getting What You Want

Kathy Love


Prince Joe

Suzanne Brockman


Once In Every Lifetime

Kristin Hannah


Hard Evidence

Pamela Clare


The Rake

Mary Jo Putney


Leader of the Pack

Justine Dare


To Have and To Hold

Patricia Gaffney


The Devil's Waltz

Anne Stuart



Amada Quick


As You Desire

Connie Brockway


Midnight Jewells

Jayne Anne Krentz

A few interesting things of note
Highest number - Linda Howard - 4
Lisa Kleypas - 3
Connie Brockway - 3
Suzanne Brockman - 3
Katherine Sutcliffe had 2 but they were very different books. One was a historical and one was a Romantic Suspense.
Pamela Clare was the same. One was a Colonial (or for easier grouping I called it American History) and the other a RS
As did Anne Stuart
I tried to get a wide sampling of genres and I think I did that. By far the most were historicals but there were quite a few other genres too.

First of a bunch - Clearing the record

I must clear up a matter of extreme importance.

Those silly sisters! I was NOT MEAN to Lisa and Nancy when growing up. Far, far from it. They were mean to ME! You see I am the oldest. Lisa is 3 years younger and Nance is 4 years younger. They are only 13 months apart and when we were kids they constantly ganged up on me and picked on me. No, I'm not whining or anything - just stating facts.
Their most unforgivable sin? One does not know what torture is until one, as a child, has to sit beside them in the back seat while listening to them recite Shakespeare soliloquies done with a fake heavy Southern accent done with idiot puppets named Suzie and Pipsqeak.
I can never listen to:
"O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father and refuse thy name
Or if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love
And I'll not longer be a Capulet"

without shudders of horror implanted on my brain. And they ruined a wonderful (at the time) movie. I mean who in my age range didn't swoon over this one!

Oh the stories I could tell.
Needless to say though - I managed to love them to death despite their wickedness.
Yes, on occasion I may have tried getting back at them - but it never worked. Meaness is not in me

I'm Baaaccckkkk

And had a wonderful time. Now I have so much to blog about I don't know where to begin *g* And the house is a complete disaster and it will take me hours to clean. I'd like to think that while I was away little messy elves came in and did a number, but alas - it was all me in a combination of too much work, too much procrastination, packing at the last minute and plain old fashioned laziness. Then when I go home since I was too beat to do anything, I plunked myself down in front of the telly and watched Blood Ties and then the whole North and South. Man I love those shows.
So the plan is to clean and then blog.
Thanks to Katiebabs who filled in for me while I was gone. I've asked her if she wants to be a regular contributor so I'm really hoping we get to see much more of her. We are tossing around ideas.
And finally during the brief housework break - we may have lost the latest skirmish - but The Rumble is far from over!!!
We will NOT go down to defeat my fellow Cravenators. It ain't over yet!
And my latest post for Readers Gab is up over at Access Romance. 'Tisn't my best - but ack work has so gotten in the way. And more good news there. We have more readers who have joined the team! In addition to Robin, JMC, Tara and myself, we know have:

'til later - and I mean that *g* - Now - Must Get To Housework

Oh - and speaking of overtime work? Not Worth It. The damn Tax Man gobbled up most of my overtime.

See how good I am at procrastination? I have to down to an art form.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Two Books You Should Read!

I feel the weekend is the best time to catch up on reading. And I have two interesting books that were very emotional, excellently written and overall recommended reads. Both are so different from each other. One is about an erotic tale of the Wild West with a heroine who has been sexually abused. And the other is a Young Adult novel written twenty-five years ago about two teen girls falling in love with each other. I read both of these book this week and they had such an emotional impact that I had to share them with others.

Caine’s Reckoning by former Elloras Cave writer, Sarah Mccarty was a very difficult read for me. If you have read Mccarty’s books from Elloras Cave, then you know what I mean. She writes about these larger than life men, who are the perfect alpha hero. They are protective and oh so sexy. The women that enter their lives have been abused in some wayor another, but the heroines are strong and don’t fall right helplessly into the arms of the hero. The poor guy has to work for it and uses his skills in the bedroom to impress his lady love. Caine is one of these heroes. He is a Texas Ranger and part of a group called Hell’s Eight. (There are eight men in this group, so this series is going to be a long one!) Caine has a horrible background, but he is pretty much well rounded. But when he meets Desi, who has gone though the most horrible things you can think of, Caine is smitten. Desi is no wilting violet. She runs away from him because she can’t stand men. Desi has been tortured sexually. I won’t go into many details, but the poor girl has been raped over and over. Caine marries Desi regardless so he can protect her. He simply wants to torture and kill these men who did Desi wrong.
Caine has his own form of therapy where Desi is concerned. She is afraid of intimacy, especially with a man like Caine. If he wanted, Caine could abuse Desi just like the men who have done to her in the past. But Caine treats Desi much like a horse that has to be broken in. He uses a steady hand plus a little TLC. A little? What am I saying! He can’t keep his hands off the woman! I knew what I was getting when reading a title by Sara Mccarty. She is not one of these fluffy romance writers that makes it easy between our two love birds. No, she likes to see them suffer, even during the most intimate parts. And those love scenes are very hot, erotic and written with such emotion!
So, if you are in the mood for some heavy reading, Caine’s Reckoning is the way to go.

The other book is, Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden. I picked this up after seeing it on the list of banned books. Written in 1982, this Young Adult novel is about teenage friendship and love. But this love story is about two teen girls. Liza, the narrator is a freshman at MIT and looks back at her senior year in high school when she met Annie. At first their friendship is more like any normal female one. These two girls bond and become best friends. Until one day, Annie kisses Liza. Liza is confused because the way she feels for Annie is unlike any she has felt for a girl or even a boy. Annie is her soul mate. But Liza doesn’t think of herself as being a lesbian. Annie is more honest with herself and says she has always been attracted to girls rather than boys. Liza is finally coming to terms with attraction and love. She loves Annie just because it feels so right and their love should not have a label.
Their friendship and eventual girlfriend relationship is sweet and beautiful, much like young love tends to be. They worry about how they will be together and when it comes time to be more intimate, how will they find a place to be alone and if they can, because taking that next step is a scary and new thing, especially because of the situation they are in. Other things happen, such as Liza parents, teachers and schoolmates finding out who she is with and basically getting caught.
I was truly in awe of this wonderful and moving story just about love in general. And because Nancy Garden has written Annie on my Mind for teens, it is quite extraodinary that I would recommend any young person (well, at least younger than me!) read.

Questions, comments and any other fun posts are always greatly appreciated! :)