Saturday, April 28, 2007

Golden Compass Movie Fun

I've got Rhian to blame... er... thank for this...

A little help, please? Major case of arachnophobia here- help me get rid of the eight-legged shadow, okay? *shudders*

Update: Okay, much better. A bird, a little wary of the critters, but better than a spider.

Update: Lynx is better. I'm likin' the lynx.

Update: ACK! That damn wren is back!

Update: Oh Look! I've got a wee bunny now! We even have one that looks just like him! My DD brought him home as a newborn and I raised him with a little eye dropper and powdered kitten milk. He can be a viscous little beast though- he's got killer nails and isn't afraid to use them!

Update: I just realized that with the bunny, I also am now described as spontaneous!! You've no idea how damn funny that is!!! I'm one of those people that has to completely plan out vacations- right down to memorizing the maps and still printing them out in close-up, just in case. LMFAO!! ME.. spontaneous!!! HAHAHAHAHA!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Sean_Michael, Pâtissier_Extraordinaire

Sean Michael - Jarheads series
1. Don't Ask, Don't Tell - Jarheads 4
2. Personal Leave - Jarheads 6
3. Three Day Passes - Jarheads 1
4. Tempering - Jarheads 2
5. Out of the Closet - Jarheads 3
6. All Roads Lead Home - Jarheads 5

Note: I've listed them in chronological order rather than released order. Also, I've linked each book to Fictionwise, however they are also available directly from Torquere Press.

Series Category: Crème Brûlée - My All-Time Moan-Out-Loud Favorites. (A+)
Flame Height: 9" out of 9" (actually 12", but that would make me a size queen wouldn't it?)

I’m spotlighting Sean Michael’s Jarhead series, but the fact is that I’ve yet to read one of Sean's books that wasn’t beautifully written. Sean has a unique voice. He doesn’t give us much physical description of his characters, but somehow paints an emotional picture. We get to know them through their words and actions. In another author’s hands, I might feel that the characters are less than three dimensional because, as a reader of Romances written mainly by women, I’m used to those detailed character descriptions that aid my development of a picture of the characters in my mind. But Sean might mention hair color in one chapter, maybe eye color in another, and height in yet another. Yet, even without that complete physical picture in my head, I still feel like I KNOW these men. That is the beauty of Sean's writing, he creates real, living and breathing men.

The Jarheads series is my favorite of Sean's. We follow the relationship between Rock, a Marine sargeant, and Rig, a flight nurse. In Three Day Passes, they are joined by Dick, a Marine private. But it is Rock and Rig's relationship that is at the the center of these stories. I grew to love and adore these boys, particularly Rigger, who is the heart and soul of the series and someone I'd like to count as a good friend in real life. I have to admit that I never quite developed a strong attachment to Dick. For me, he was a way for me to see just how strong the connection between Rock and Rig was. And even for the men, it was Rig that held the three of them together- I'm sure there would never be a Rock and Dick without Rig. And that damn Rock! Every time I was convinced he was nothing more than a self-centered, selfish sonofabitch, he would do something to or for Rig that would make my heart melt.

Now, to be honest, there were times that even I wanted to say "Enough with the sex, already! Get on with the story!" But, oh how I was completely caught up in the lives of these extraordinary, lovable and loving men! In Don't Ask, Don't Tell, we learn how Rock and Rig met and the amazing leap of Faith our redneck cowboy, Rig, makes. Even though we already know how it turns out, I still couldn't help feeling nervous and holding my breath with him. In Personal Leave, Rock and Rig's relationship is firmly established and we get to see the extreme contrast between their two families. As I said before, a triad is formed when Dick joins them in Three Day Passes, which was the first Jarheads story released. The events of Tempered left me horrified and outraged. How could anyone hurt our Rigger?! This is a life changing book in more than one way. And Out of the Closet is a complete emotional roller coaster ride. Happy tears one minute and sobbing for Rig's pain the next. Now that they are free of their commitments to Uncle Sam, they are all free to live as they please, but their happiness is tempered by heartbreaking events. All Roads Lead Home is fairly short, but I consider it Sean Michael's gift to his Readers. A way for him to let us know that our beloved boys are still together and doing okay. Thanks Sean!

For a beautiful sampling of Sean's artistry with words, try his anthology Bus Stories and Other Tales. And, in addition to a rather lengthy list of his own books, Sean has stories in several other anthologies over at Torquere.

Eye Candy with Impact

Writing about Sean Michael's books reminded me that I haven't posted what I believe is the most emotionally powerful picture I have.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Ta-DAH!! I've been Tweaked!!!

My super intelligent niece, LissaNY, has sent me all the magic words I needed to get this blog tweaked just how I want it in Firefox, IE6, IE7, and AOL. A thousand Thanks You's, Missy!

But if anyone else sees something hinky or floating around where it shouldn't be, tell me, okay?

And, if you're feeling generous, I am now officially collecting "people/body parts dipped in chocolate" pics. (hint hint) To clarify- I'm looking for more ART Photographs of people or body parts that appear to be dipped in or made of chocolate. I am NOT, however, looking for X-Rated candy that several sites sell nor am I looking for any do-it-yourself pics. Thanks.

Monday, April 23, 2007

QB's Quickie - Demon's Delight

"So, read any good books lately?"
"What did you think of...?"
Here's a Quickie answer to those questions.

Davidson, Holly, Taylor (¹), Spangler - Demon’s Delight
Book Category: Lava Cake - reads like warm Chocolate Lava Cake... à la Mode... sprinkled with nuts. (A,A-)
Flame Height: 4” out of 9”
Yeah, you’re reading that right- I placed an anthology in the Lava Cake category! What else could I do? It made me smile, it made me sigh, it made me cry, and I still can‘t shake it out of my head. In fact, here’s a picture to scrub out of your brain- there I am sitting on the “throne” in the “library” reading Vickie Taylor’s Angel and the Hellraiser, and I’ve got tears running down my face, bawling like a baby! Wha-a-a-t??!! Oh come on! You KNOW you save anthologies to read in there, too!
Maryjanice Davidson’s story is a fun and wacky (of course) story about a witch and a witch-hunter. Emma Holly’s story is set in her Demon world, so I’m not sure if it would be as enjoyable if you haven’t been reading that series. But it was interesting and weird- I hope the main characters, a “Demon” and a genetically manipulated human, show up again in one of her books. Catherine Spangler’s story is another very emotional one and brought happy tears to my eyes. It’s a beautiful story about a vampire and an angel. Vickie Taylor’s emotional story is about an angel and a human- you‘ve got ice crystals around your heart if you can read it without sobbing!
One more thing I found fascinating about this Fantasy/Paranormal Romance anthology- the cover picture. It’s a beautiful work of art unto itself, but somehow the artist seems to have taken elements of each main character in each story and blended them together into the cover art. I actually kept flipping back to the cover to look at it and find which elements applied to which character.

(¹) I was unable to find a website to link to for Vickie Taylor. I DID find a paranormal author named Vickie Taylor but she doesn't list Demon's Delight so I'm assuming it's not the same Vickie Taylor.

QB's Quickies

"So, read any good books lately?"
"What did you think of...?"
Here's a Quickie answer to those questions.

Keri Arthur - Riley Jenson series
1. Full Moon Rising
2. Kissing Sin
3. Tempting Evil
4. Dangerous Games
5. Embraced by Darkness (07/31/07 release)
Series Category: Peanut M&Ms - mmmm...devour... sigh... then reach for the next one. My daily dose of Insanity-B-Gone. Most books fall in this category. (A-,B+,B)
Flame Height: 6” out of 9”
As I said previously, I listened to Full Moon Rising as an audiobook and found that the narrator’s Aussie accent really brought the book, and Riley, to life for me. Since Keri told me that no further audio books are in the works yet, I decided to go ahead and buy the next 3 books in this Urban Fantasy series. And man, am I ever glad I did! I opened and started reading book 2, Kissing Sin, and the next thing I knew, I was at the last page of book 4, Dangerous Games!
This series engaged my emotions while at the same time being a kick-ass thriller. All the characters are interesting- even the bad guys. We’ve not seen a character like Riley before. Her and her twin brother, Rhoan, are werewolf/vampire hybrids. As a werewolf, she is very sexually free and has multiple sexual encounters with multiple partners, yet this can’t really be defined as an erotic series because the scenes aren’t really all that graphic. Sex is just part of being a werewolf, and she still fervently hopes to one day find her soul mate and have children. Her and Rhoan work for The Directorate- basically the Paranormal version of our FBI/CIA. Rhoan is a full Guardian (judge, jury, executioner) and Riley sooo does NOT want to become one, yet circumstances are leading up to giving her no choice in the matter.
We meet some new characters that will apparently play an important part in future books. And we say goodbye to some old characters and storylines, both good and bad. There’s a preview of book 5, Embraced by Darkness, at the end of Dangerous Games and it sounds like the new storyline arc will be just as interesting as this last one- we apparently get to know more about their original pack. As usual, click the links for more information and much better summaries of the books than I could ever write.

Eileen Wilkes - Lupi Series
1. Lover Beware - anthology with Feehan, Sutcliffe, and Brand
2. Tempting Danger
3. Cravings - anthology with Hamilton, Davidson, York
4. Mortal Danger
5. Blood Lines
Book Category: M&Ms - a bit lighter and/or not quite as satisfying as Peanut M&Ms, but still Oh-So-Enjoyable! (B,B-,C+,C)
Flame Height: 4" out of 9”
I had a really bizarre moment when I read Blood Lines. At the beginning of the book, Ms. Wilkes recaps the events in Mortal Danger. I was a bit disappointed at first, because I hadn’t realized there WAS any previous books. But between the recap and further mentions of what happened throughout Blood Lines, I got the gist of the backstory, plus the previous leads, Lily and Rule, were very much a part of this story. Anyway, well into this book, Lily’s Grandmother shows up- she’s an overbearing Chinese matriarch who can shift into a ferocious weretiger. Suddenly, I realize I’ve met her before. I went back and read the recap. Still not a flash of recognition of the story or characters, but what are the chances that another author in another story had such a similar, memorable character? I was seriously getting worried that my last few functioning brain cells were finally blinking out on me! After heading over to Amazon and searching for Eileen Wilkes other works, it turns out, I HAD read a previous story in the Lover Beware anthology AND the Cravings anthology, but had NOT read any of the full length novels. PHEW! That's what I get for picking a book up based on the cover pic!
This series can best be described as a hybrid between Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy. Maybe Urban Fantasy Romance? Urban Fantasy because demons, sorcerers, shifters, etc. are real and part of society (Lily and Cynna are with the FBI). Each book is romance/relationship centered- Lily and Rule in the 1st stories, Cynna and Cullen in Blood Lines, although Lily and Rule are still very much apart of this one, too. But no HEA- no final, we’re-together-forever ending- YET. Cynna and Cullen’s story will apparently be continued with the next book.
To sum up, Blood Lines was an enjoyable read for me and I DO recommend it. I will probably buy the next book. Although, weeks after reading it, the only details I remembered about it are that I liked it, and the Grandmother. So, I cheated. I had to skim through the book just to write this commentary. And the Flame Height? Well, I know there was some sex in there, but I don’t recall anything about the scenes, so 4” out of 9” seems generous.

QB's Quickies

"So, read any good books lately?"
"What did you think of...?"

Here's the Quickie answers to those questions. Click on the Links for more info.

Jean Johnson - Sons of Destiny
1. The Sword (see previous Commentary) - Saber and Kelly
2. The Wolf - Wolfe and Alys
Book Category: M&Ms - a bit lighter and/or not quite as satisfying as Peanut M&Ms, but still Oh-So-Enjoyable! (B,B-,C+,C)

Flame Height: 5” out of 9”
The Sword centered on the oldest of the eight brothers and his part of the “Curse of Eight Prophecy“. This one, The Wolf, centers on his twin, Wolfer, and the brothers’ childhood friend Alys. Turns out, it’s her uncle that’s been plaguing the boys with all kinds of nasty critters and Alys has been his virtual prisoner and forced to aid him. Alys isn’t quite as fun as the previous heroine, Kelly, and her portrayal is a bit inconsistent. All the brothers (except Dom) and Kelly are still around, and we get to know them better. Morganen (the youngest) wasn’t quite as likeable in this one though, just because Ms. Johnson is sort of setting him up as omnipotent- is there no ability that Morg can’t suddenly pull out of his hat to save the day? Still, you can’t help but adore him, and all the boys, anyway. This Fantasy series is so very fun and enjoyable and I fully intend to buy the rest.
One more unique thing about this series- these people not only have toilets, they actually use them! Now, I’m not saying that we have to hear about each potty break, but in the first book, Saber and Kelly have repeated bouts of diarrhea. It’s played for laughs. No, really! And in this book, Alys wakes up and doesn’t know where Wolfe is, but she hears him pissin’ in the bathroom and is reassured he hasn’t left. In a second scene (and who hasn’t had this happen), Wolfe and Alys are spoonin’ in bed one morning, when he slips it into her from behind. She realizes her bladder is too full to continue, so she gets up, goes and empties it, then comes back and they resume their nookie interuptus. Further proof of Ms. Johnson’s practicality- when Alys leaves her uncle’s house, she makes sure to pack her cloths she uses for her monthly periods. How often do authors ever address this bodily function stuff? Almost never, right? Of course, if she REALLY wants to get realistic and earthy, she needs to write a few scenes where the boys rip a few big ones, huh? After all, in real life, men+food+ale ALWAYS = major gaseous emissions!

Vicki Pettersson - Zodiac Series
1. The Scent of Shadows - The First Sign of the Zodiac (see previous Commentary)
2. The Taste of Night - The Second Sign of the Zodiac
Book Category: Peanut M&Ms - mmmm...devour... sigh... then reach for the next one. My daily dose of Insanity-B-Gone. Most books fall in this category. (A-,B+,B)
Flame Height: 3” out of 9”
I have a feeling that, if the next book is as kick-ass as the first two, I’ll be raising this Urban Fantasy series up to Lava Cake. Once again, this book is one helluva ride! So much happens in this book that I’m not even sure what to say about it because I don’t want to spoil anything! My only WTF moment was at the end- instead of doing what she needed to do to protect the one she loves, Jo chose to let him be happy yet in mortal danger! That just didn’t make sense to me.
Up until that moment, it’s an emotional roller coaster. My heart was torn out by so many scenes and so many characters. My breath was taken away by the dangers. Yet there are other scenes where we get satisfying closure or answers. One answer rocks Jo’s world and fills her (and us) with careening emotions. And Hunter? Let’s just say I’m REALLY liking him. It seems Jo has found a true friend in him, maybe more. Ben? OMG, my heart just cries for him! And Jo is turning out to be a very three dimensional character. My fear of her turning into a Mary Sue express appears to be unfounded so far. She does stupid shit, she pisses people off, and we feel when she’s hurt or confused. She doesn’t always save the day, in fact, she gets herself in situations where someone else needs to ride to her rescue. Warren, despite the fact he’s one of the good guys, is a not so likeable character. In fact, he’s kind of cruel in this one. Oh, and we finally meet Jo’s biological father, the Tulpa, aka The Big Bad.
If you read the first book in this series, don’t hesitate to get this second one. And if you haven’t read either- what the hell are you waiting for? Just don’t plan on putting either book down until you’ve reached the end!

J.R. Ward - Black Dagger Brotherhood
1. Dark Lover
2. Lover Eternal
3. Lover Awakened
4. Lover Revealed - Butch and Marissa, Butch and V
Series Category: Peanut M&Ms - mmmm...devour... sigh... then reach for the next one. My daily dose of Insanity-B-Gone. Most books fall in this category. (A-,B+,B)
Flame Height: 6” out of 9”
I’m going to assume that enough people have either read or at least heard enough about the BDB series that I don’t need to spew forth on the details. These books and their troubled heroes seem to have attracted the same kind of devoted, zealous fan following that Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunters or Christine Feehan’s Carpathians have. (Now us LKH fans? Whole 'nother level entirely *snicker)
Okay, I’ve admitted before that I’ve snickered and snorted my way through the first three books in this series. It’s just that the K-Fed Wannabe talk cracks me up! You feel me, my sistahs? *snicker* It just reminds me too much of the ‘60’s where older people (meaning over 30) would wear Nehru jackets and say things like “groovy” and “far out” and those of us younger than 30 would snicker and snort behind their backs. And why didn’t Darius get one of the uber-cool gangsta names? Shouldn’t he at least have been Dharius, maybe even Dhangerhous? J.R. Ward is going to RAW in September, and I fully intend to ask her that if I get a chance!
You know, I like this series despite the K-Fed junk. The BDBs can be real assholes, you know? And they all need some intense therapy, cause these guys have some pretty PHUCKED-UP heads. *snort* But the power of love and magic hoo-haws redeems one of them by the end of each book- at least as far as their attitude towards their woman goes. Of course, up to that point, we’re treated to some big-ass drama queen shit from them, and once they give in to their woman’s magic hoo-haws, we’re treated to some damn fine phuck scenes *snicker*, followed by a whole lot of possessive chest thumpin’ , teeth barin’ and growling.
Now, this latest book, Lover Revealed, is the story of Butch, the BDB’s human mascot, for lack of a better term. Actually, he’s been my favorite character all along- he’s even darker and more phucked up than the BDBs! Fortunately, Ms. Ward toned down the K-Fed talk in this one, so I didn’t have that shit in there to distract me from the story. In fact, Lover Revealed comes pretty close to being Lava Cake for me. And the sexual tension between V and Butch? DAMN! It was like unrequited love from V. I almost had myself convinced we were about to get maybe the first mass market M/M scene or at the very least, V and Butch would work it out in a menage with Marissa. But, alas, I was cock-blocked. *sigh*
I was also glad to see Marissa grow a spine finally. But that whole Safe House, while a good idea, seemed too much of a complete turnaround, too quickly for me to swallow it whole. One minute Marissa’s a meek, self hating, “O woe is me”, “Whatever shall I do, wherever shall I go?“ door mat, and the next thing we know, she’s got her shit completely together and is helping other women get their shit together too. Like I said, great idea, but it was too abrupt.
All in all, this series, and particularly this book- Lover Revealed, is highly engrossing and entertaining. I hope we haven’t seen the end of the V/Butch obsession, and I can’t wait for someone to figure out who John is. And when will we see Tohr again? In a Romance market full of same-old, same-old paranormal stories, the BDBs stand out as fresh and unique.

Sherrilyn Kenyon - The Dream Hunter
Book Category: Dark Chocolate - loved by some, just "meh" to me. (C-,D+)
Flame Height: 4” out of 9”
The basic story on this one was okay, but SK muddied it up with so much Atlantean and Greek mythology that I had to force myself to finish this one. The problem isn’t that the mythologies were incorporated in the book, the problem is that it seems to have been written with the assumption that the Reader is already familiar with these mythologies through her Dark Hunter series.
Dream Hunter apparently starts a new series that is an spin-off of her Dark Hunter series, another one that is getting tough to read. For me, it seems that SK is starting to write for her faithful board members instead of the casual reader. I don’t retain the kind of detailed knowledge of her previous books required to pick up on all the clues or “Easter Eggs” that her faithful seem to delight over and devour. Nor do I retain all the detailed knowledge of each previous character and book that is starting to be required to read her newer offerings. So, I doubt I’ll read more of this new series, and after Ash’s book in the Dark Hunter series (assuming I even understand it), I may be dropping that series too unless she either learns to incorporate reminders or brain nudges into them, or at least goes back to writing them for a larger audience instead of targeting them to just her zealous fans. And I’m not insulting her or her faithful fans, I’m just pointing out that, if SK is aiming for a larger audience, she’s developing too narrow a focus. Surely there’s a way to keep her devoted readers happy while still allowing the casual readers like me to enjoy her books.

Sunday Night Fondue

♥Thinking Blog Award:
I'm proud to say that my post about 2 of the books I was judging for the Passionate Plume Awards has been honored with a Thinking Blogger Award from Annie Dean in this post on her blog! The meme originated on The Thinking Blog and it's my very first tag, too. Thanks, Annie- who woulda thunk I'd ever get an award for my writing!

BTW, don't forget that Annie's new book The Average Girl's Guide to Getting Laid is now available over at Loose-Id. As soon as I've whittled my Recent Savorings commentary queue and my Soon to be Savored TBR pile down a little, I've got some serious ebook shopping to do!
If you aren't familiar with the Thinking Blogger Award (and honestly I wasn't either), these are the rules:
1.If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think,
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme,
3. Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote.
So I've met rule 2, I'll have to figure out how to do rule 3 (I know how to display the logo, I just don't know how to make it a link). So now for the toughest one- it's my turn to tag five people whose blogs have made me think. When I think of all the blogs I've read, and all the blog entries within each blog, selecting just 5 is going to be pretty damn hard! I'm not sure how kosher it is to award it back to the person who awarded it to you, but I still want to mention this blog of Annie's even if it's not for this award. It's the story of how her and her husband ended up where they are today. It'll leave you with a dreamy sigh and a smile.
This is actually the first blog post that came to mind after Annie tagged me for this meme:
Smart Bitches Who Love Trashy Novels. In response to one of Laurell Hamilton's blogs (that actually had tongues a-waggin' all over the 'net) the SB's first addressed the blog itself, then in a second post, they started a discussion about characters becoming real to writers. It is this second post that I am giving the Thinking Blog Award to. And not just for the post itself, but the post started a fascinating conversation of comments among the writers that frequent the SB site. As a non-writer, I'm still trying to truly comprehend what writers mean when they say their characters speak to them and change the way the writer wants the story to go. At last year's RT Con, every single writer brought this up. Finally, by the last day, I had to ask one of the panels to try and explain it to this non-writer. They all tried but other than the explanation that, if you know someone really well, you would know if you were forcing them to act out of character, I don't think my mind functions in a way that allows me to grasp the whole concept. Which is probably why I found the conversation on the SB's blog so utterly fascinating. But I would imagine that it would also serve as a master's course for new writers.

Morgan Hawke had a blog entry a couple of years ago titled Writing Smut for Profit. No, I haven't saved the link for 2 years, Merry Phillips blogged about it a couple of months ago. Merry had just sent her first submission ever to Phaze Publishing and then came across this blog from Morgan. After reading it Merry was nervous that she's done everything WRONG. Well, I was her beta reader and "Comma Patrol" so I knew she had a compelling story, and when I applied Morgan's advise to it and her publisher selection, I reassured Merry that she had, in fact, done everything RIGHT. And Jason's Reckoning will be released at the end of this month at Phaze. But I bookmarked Morgan's blog because it gave me a real slap of the writer's side of reality.

Hmmm... since the rules don't say I need to give all my awards at once, I think I'm going to hold onto the last three for now. I may remember another post I've read before and made me think, or I might come across a new one that deserves the award.

♥Over at Smart Bitches, they're compiling a list of the greatest love stories of all time. Here's the ones that immediately popped into my head, although I admit that, for a couple of them, their qualifications as love stories could be argued. I actually have Commentaries for some of these sitting in a blog draft I started a couple of weeks ago. And every one of these are solidly in my Crème Brûlée category.
Single Title:
Menage Emma Holly
Across the Sea Irene Maillol
Son of the Morning Linda Howard
A Gentleman’s Wager Madelynne Ellis
The Proud Breed Celeste DeBlasis (thanks to Laurie Breton for the reminder) ~

Within a series:
Devil’s Bride Stephanie Lauren’s Cynster series
Skye O’Malley Bertrice Small’s Skye O’Malley series
Tempting the Beast and Elizabeth’s Wolf from Lora Leigh’s Breed series
Darkfever from Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series
Seduced by Moonlight from Laurell Hamilton’s Merry Gentry Series
Blue Moon and Narcissus in Chains from Laurell Hamilton’s Anita Blake series
I just KNOW I’ll probably kick myself later for some I forgot.

♥My niece has informed me that my new blog template isn't working right in Firefox or IE6. It's working fine for my IE7, no matter which screen I'm viewing it on. Unfortunately, it took me so long to modify the template- mostly because it tended to be a trial and error process- that I'm just going to have to put further modifications on the back burner for now. Particularly since it appears I'm going to have to learn html and CSS MUCH better than the pitiful knowledge I have now. *sigh*

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Look! I have made FIRE!

You may have noticed a brand new layout around here- that last layout was pretty bad, wasn't it?. Did you ever see the movie Castaway with Tom Hanks? Well I feel like he did when he proclaimed, "LOOK! I. HAVE. MADE. FIRE!!!" then proceeded to strut around with his chest puffed out.


I'm still tweaking it here and there, and I plan on eventually figuring something out for that bland header.

And I couldn't have done it without the following sites:

Here's where I was pointed to the template:

Here's the Nyoba 780 template:

And here's where this HTML/CSS dipshit got some great help with code:


Monday, April 16, 2007

The Harlequin by Laurell K. Hamilton

Laurell K. Hamilton - Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series

.1. Guilty Pleasures
.2. The Laughing Corpse
.3. Circus of the Damned
.4. The Lunatic Cafe
.5. Bloody Bones
.6. The Killing Dance
.7. Burnt Offerings
.8. Blue Moon
.9. Obsidian Butterfly
10. Narcissus In Chains
11. Cerulean Sins
12. Incubus Dreams
13. Micah
14. Danse Macabre
15. The Harlequin - to be released 06/05/2007 (also see previous Commentary)

Series Category: Crème Brûlée - My All-Time Moan-Out-Loud Favorites. (A+)
Flame Height: 7” out of 9”

Book Category: Crème Brûlée - My All-Time Moan-Out-Loud Favorites. (A+)
Flame Height: 7” out of 9”


I’ve finished my second read through of The Harlequin, and I think my first impressions were an understatement! So much happens in this book that, while I was still processing some of the jaw-dropping scenes, I wasn’t absorbing some of the nuances. While I was trying to relearn how to breathe and was rushing forward to read what happens next, I missed important details.

This book may be as pivotal to the series as Narcissus in Chains. The Harlequin, which appears to take place in early December, probably a week after Danse Macabre, is about truths, and revelations and discoveries. Masks are ripped away and souls are bared. New enemies are identified. We learn of unexpected new allies. Menace and danger become more specific and more personal. This one book could easily be the catalyst for several new story lines or new directions in current story lines.

Compared to professional reviewers, I'm pretty sucky at giving formal reviews. So I thought instead that I would rather organize my comments in a way that's similar to how I would excitedly tell a friend about The Harlequin.

I should first explain my interpretation of Anita’s ardeur. The best analogy my uncreative mind can come up with is, when first diagnosed with a chronic medical condition, your life is turned upside down, you’re angry and you want to fight back, you’re overwhelmed by it, consumed by wanting it to go away, it seems your life has been taken over by it. But eventually, acceptance comes and dealing with it becomes a part of your day to day life. In Danse Macabre, Anita finally realized that trying to defeat the ardeur or beat it into submission wasn’t going to work. And it wasn’t just HER life impacted by the ardeur and her response to it. In The Harlequin, we see that, by accepting the ardeur as part of her life, she no longer must let it RULE her life. In fact, she discovers that the ardeur has nuances she never suspected.

Of course, the ardeur still necessitates sexual encounters. In this book, one encounter serves to reveal some very naked truths (excuse the pun). One is scary and shocking. One is written in a way that we're able to feel the characters’ awkwardness about the act's necessity. And one is so freakin’ hot that we, like the participants, are consumed.

Now, Anita’s asymptomatic lycanthropy? Well that’s a whole ‘nother ball game. It’s getting a bit crowded in Anita’s “den” (okay, SHE refers to it as a dark cave, but that just seems to give a whole different meaning to the point I'm trying to make)! And the lycanthropes and vampires aren’t the only ones that are concerned about it!

Even though Jean-Claude is not physically present in a pretty big chunk of this book, his presence is still felt in nearly every scene. He shows that there can be strength in what, on the surface, appears to be weakness. And events in The Harlequin reveal, without a doubt, who the Master is- of the kiss, of the triumvirate and of the entire St. Louis preternatural community! I know, I know- cryptic and not very informative, but Jean-Claude is more action oriented in this book and I can’t comment on his actions without revealing too much of the story.

Asher is not front and center in this book. Yet we still learn some very interesting, and potentially important, information about him.

I was afraid, after the revelation in Danse Macabre of the ardeur's manipulations, that we would see doubts in Micah’s relationship with Anita. But in The Harlequin, all doubt about their true feelings for each other is removed.

We also see that Micah has earned respect in the lycanthrope, vampire and human communities. Even, albeit grudgingly, from Richard! Now that’s not to say that Micah and Richard are suddenly BFFs- far from it! In fact we get another one of those snark sessions between the two of them where Richard tells him to stop being so perfect. I LOVE their snarkiness! And I have to admit that I’ve wondered whether those remarks from Richard to Micah are Laurell’s wink and a nod to some of the reader complaints that Micah is too perfect.

Now me, I see Micah as the character that can best be described as the most true to life man in Anita's life. He goes to work, he takes care of his family, he’s there when he’s needed, and he does whatever needs doing. He’s the one that Anita can let down all her defenses with and just simply be a woman loving a man. He possesses a quiet sort of strength and love that doesn’t seek or require the spotlight or drama. He’s like millions of men whose names and lives will go unnoticed by everyone but his friends or family, but to them he’s a true hero.

Again, though, my real life may color my perceptions of Micah. I've been married to someone very much like him for nearly 25 years. They're the kind of men you can go the distance with.

I need to preface this by explaining my feelings about Nathaniel. I don’t dislike him, I just am not attached to him, I’ve yet to connect with him. I’ve just never thought of him as a permanent character like Anita, Jean-Claude, Richard, or Micah. In my mind, he’s more than a secondary character, but not quite a main character. He’s easily dismissed by me. (Good grief, I sound like Richard, don’t I?) After he stepped up to the plate in Danse Macabre and now The Harlequin, I find him less easily dismissed, still not quite permanent, but not as temporary either. I have no doubt that he loves Anita and she loves him, but, particularly after some revelations in The Harlequin, I’m just not sure what flavor of love exists between them. Anita even refers to Micah and Nathaniel’s reaction to her pregnancy scare in what, to me, is a revealing way. Instead of saying that they were ready to step up to the plate and be daddies, she says they were ready to be daddy and NANNY. So, my interpretation is that even Anita may not see Nathanial as one of the “heavyweights”.

When we first met Nathaniel, it was tough for me to get past his meekness, his dismissal of himself, and the fact that he was just so damn young. I just didn’t, and still don’t, have a point of reference to understand him. I pretty much had to ignore his age completely and make him older in my head. What has made that even more necessary is that he is now 20 years old, and because of book chronology versus real life chronology, my oldest son and daughter are now the same age. EEK! So I think I’ll have to leave the interpretations of Nathaniel in The Harlequin to those readers that DO connect with him- and I know there are a lot of you. I still have to make him older in my head, which is more difficult to do with this book, and I know I’m not capable of forming a fair assessment of him or his actions.

Richard is still one of the most amazingly complex characters I’ve ever “met”. I adore him even though he pisses me off, he tears my heart out, he frustrates me. He is trying to get his head together, but with Richard it seems like, for every step forward, he takes three steps back. Going back to the analogy of a chronic medical condition, Richard, unlike Anita, is still at the stage of NOT accepting that his life is now changed permanently. Of still being angry that this lycanthropy has happened to him and necessitated a profound change in his life and his perceptions of himself. The “Why me? I don‘t want this!” stage. Adding to his conflicts, part of him embraces and revels in his new life, but he just can’t seem to let go of his original visions of the future he always assumed he’d have. And he can’t create a new, whole Richard until he accepts his new reality.

Many of the most important revelations in this book are Richard’s. Some so painful that I felt like I had been punched in the gut. I actually found myself cringing and thinking “No, Richard, don’t do it!”. Through both his actions and his words, he reveals some truths so profound, that I’m not sure if, now that the poison has been ripped from his wounds, whether healing can now begin, or whether the wounds will remain raw and bloody. Only Laurell knows. Although I suspect that even she won’t really know for sure until her characters tell her.

Jason is a bit wrapped up with his new girlfriend and so isn’t on stage except for a brief, but emotional, scene. BTW, I can’t remember if this was ever revealed before, but Jason is wolf because of Raina.

Edward finally learns the truth about Anita’s current life. But ever practical, he gathers information from several sources, digests it, then proceeds to deal with it’s effects on his current objectives. We do get glimpses of the effect that Donna and her kids have had on him. VERY interesting glimpses! And yes, as Laurell said in her blogs, Peter does come to St. Louis with him. And it’s a very different Peter than we saw in Obsidian Butterfly.

Yep, as Laurell said at some signings, Olaf and Edward had a deal- Olaf would stay away from Anita so long as Edward promised to bring him in as backup the next time Anita needed it. Let’s just say that Olaf’s parting gift to Anita by the end of The Harlequin is a new recurring nightmare. *shudder*

-Belle Morte-
Creepy, scary, unpredictable. Fortunately for everyone, she doesn‘t spend too much time visiting Anita in this book. ‘Nuff said.

-Marmee Noir/ Mother of All Darkness/Mommy Dearest-
Scary revelations. A specific threat arises because she knows that the Anita/Jean Claude/Richard triumvirate has not exchanged the fourth mark. Oh, and let’s just say that I’m pretty sure Anita hopes Marmee Noir never pulls her name in the Christmas gift exchange.

There’s also a revelation so profound that I whispered a gasping “oh. shit.” We now know why Mommy Dearest is waking up. Truly a gasp worthy moment.

At the Las Vegas signing for Danse Macabre last year, Laurell said that there IS someone else out there like Anita. But we haven’t met him because Anita is not aware of him yet. I just hope that when she does meet him, that he turns out to be an ally- she’s going to need all the help she can get!

-Malcolm-I’ve gained a whole different perspective on him. A complete 360 in how I view him, his motives, and his objectives.

-The Deaths-
Sorry, but no, I am soooo not saying who dies! I will say that the death that Laurell blogged about, the one that effected her so much, does cause grief in the characters, too. Interesting though that, while the other characters truly mourn that death, it is another death that effected me more. Although I suspect it was more emotionally wrenching for me because it was colored by people in my real life. And no, I’m not talking about “my” death in the book! (see previous Commentary)

-The Pard-
Cherry does have some scenes in this book, but unfortunately, we don’t catch up with the rest of the pard . They are mentioned as a group though.

-The Kiss, the Wererats, the Hyenas, the Swans, the Lions, the Wolves, and others-
Members of all have important placement in The Harlequin.

I think that covers everyone. One final comment- the very last paragraph in the book opens the door to a possibility that alot of us have said we’d like to happen. Whether it does happen, or it goes as far as we were hoping, is anyone’s guess- even Laurell’s, I suspect. She did say at a signing that it wasn’t going to happen, but I’m hoping the characters tell her otherwise!

Oh, and did I mention that another character from an earlier book makes a surprise appearance and their presence in this book has a huge impact? Yep, and I actually threw my fist in the air and squeaked “YES!” out loud. Hoo-yea!

So hopefully I’ve piqued the interest of those readers that had been feeling a bit disenchanted with the ABVH series. And for those of you like me, that still eagerly anticipate each new thrill ride that Laurell sends us on, who, while reading her books, lose all sense of this reality and become a part of Anita’s reality, well I have some bad news…


Sorry, couldn’t resist.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

HTML is NOT my Friend

As you can see, I successfully modified my blogger template from a 2-column to a 3-column thanks to the "HTML for Dipshits" step-by-step help found at Beautiful Blogger. I would have preferred that the two sidebars both be on the same side, but just breaking all that stuff up into 2 sidebars is going to have to do for now.

Well, maybe I should say SORT OF successfully modified , huh? The main problem I had (besides the fact that HTML and WTF are synonyms as far I'm concerned) was that the background for the new left column wanted to be the same color as the main column. I wanted it to be the same textured white background as the right sidebar. Evidently, I'm not the only one with that problem, because every pre-formatted 3-column I could find did that. So through some blind experimentation, I got the white texture over there- yeah me!

But I need some help people!! PLEASE!!! How do I get rid of that thin line of background yellow on the left of the left sidebar? And how do I either get the left sidebar background to fill in the length of the page, or get the right sidebar background to stop in the same way as the left?

Here's where I'm guessing I need to do something:

#left-sidebar-wrapper {
margin: 0 auto;
border: 0;
width: 250px;
background: $mainBgColor url( top left repeat-y;
float: left;
color: $sidebarTextColor;
word-wrap: break-word; /* fix for long text breaking sidebar float in IE */
overflow: hidden; /* fix for long non-text content breaking IE sidebar float */

#main {
width: 420px;
float: left;
padding: 10px;
margin: 5;
word-wrap: break-word; /* fix for long text breaking sidebar float in IE */
overflow: hidden; /* fix for long non-text content breaking IE sidebar float */

#right-sidebar-wrapper {
width: 240px;
float: right;
color: $sidebarTextColor;
word-wrap: break-word; /* fix for long text breaking sidebar float in IE */
overflow: hidden; /* fix for long non-text content breaking IE sidebar float */

I KNOW there's just GOT to be someone out there that knows HTML/CSS/Blogger Widgets enough that they could offer this techno-tard some advice! PleasepleasepleasePLEASE???

I'll even let you pick a theme for my next Eye Candy post!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Blog Karma

I love Blog Karma. That's my name for the lovely little gems you discover by clicking on and following links in blogs.

♥ I'm not sure where I originally found Annie Dean's blog (probably Bam), but I drop by there a couple of times a day (at least) and last week she blogged about Cynthia Eden's new book deal so I followed the link to check it out. Turns out that Cynthia writes books that warm the cockles of this werewolf-ho's heart (and lower places). Her new one coming out with Brava, Touching the Darkness, sounds soooo enjoyable!

Anyway, Cynthia's blog linked to the Brava Authors group blog which was having a contest to celebrate Cynthia's becoming their newest addition. So, I commented and congratulated her. Well, today I got an email that I WON THE $15 GIFT CERTIFICATE FROM AMAZON!! WOO-HOO! Blog Karma!!

♥Yesterday, I was over at Sean Michael's site and from there wandered over to a few Torquere Press pages on their site. I decided I might as well sign up for their mailing list while I was there. Turns out that signing up also entered me in an email drawing. So, also today, I received an email that I HAD WON A FREE EBOOK DOWNLOAD FROM TORQUERE!! Scarlet and the White WolfBook 3: The Land of Night by Kirby Crow. Blog Karma again!

♥Speaking of Annie Dean and Blog Karma, head over to Annie's Blog RIGHT NOW!!! She's got a book releasing next week at Loose-Id, The Average Girl's Guide to Getting Laid, that I would probably buy for the title alone! But since I'm addicted to Annie's blog (she's even on my Sweet 'n Sour Everyday Favorites list) , I can't wait to hear her "voice" in this book, too.

So she's running a contest for a $50 AMAZON GIFT CERTIFICATE (yes, I typed that correctly). Two ways to enter- either come up with a caption for her Chimp pic (creativity isn't important, it's a random, but fun, drawing) or blog about and link to the contest. Or do both and get two entries! Her kidlet is going to pull the winning name next week. Be sure to go back and visit her again, she's hilarious and interesting- even if she can't be goaded into doing anal scenes! LMFAO- I think it's Bam you need to blame for that bit of TMI, Annie!!!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

First Impressions - The Harlequin

I've finished reading Laurell K. Hamilton's The Harlequin. Here's my first impressions...

This book should come with a warning to sit down, strap in, buckle up, then hang on tight before reading this breathtaking ride that is The Harlequin! So much happens in this one, and much of it could effect many future books, that I'm going to need time to digest it and organize my thoughts. Probably read it a second time, too. But I can tell you that I gasped, my heart broke, I giggled, I was horrified, I forgot to breathe, I laughed out loud, I was moved to tears, and at one point, I actually threw my fist in the air and squeaked "YES!" out loud. In other words, I loved this book!!

But give me a couple of days, and I'll have a longer answer. I consider it a great honor and a great responsibility to be the first "civilian" to read The Harlequin and comment on it. And do it in a way that gives no further details away than what we already know. I couldn't stand the guilt if I spoiled the joy of reading this for someone.

To be honest, if I already hadn't delayed some work to read this the first time, I'd be on my second read and eagerly writing a very lengthy Cubie's Commentary about it.

Monday, April 9, 2007


Yes, that IS my ARC for Laurell K. Hamilton's The Harlequin- it came today!! I've never received an Advanced Readers Copy before, and to have this incredibly special one be my first is just Nirvana!!
Since my scanner has decided to join the rest of my electronics in keeping me in technohell, I used my camera to take these picks. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to take a legible pic of the back cover blurb.
The blurb says:
I have felt such power only once before...
Malcolm, head of the vampire Church of Eternal Life, is no particular friend to Anita Blake. So when he shows up in her office to ask for her help againsy creatures so feared that no vampire will willingly speak their name, Anita is surprised. But she believes him. Malcolm may not be a Master of the City, but he's an old and powerful vampire, a leader of men, and he does not easily ask for help- especially from Anita and Jean-Claude, whose power Malcolm considers corrupt. That was the first warning of the Harlequin.
The second warning is presented like a gift, left where she'd be sure to find it, with "Anita" printed on the box. Inside, carefully wrapped in folds of pristine tissue paper, is a white mask, utterly plain. The fact that it's white, Jean-Claude tells her, is the good news. White means they are only being watched.
The flow of power that connects Anita Blake with Jean-Claude, vampire Master of the City, and with Richard, Ulfric of the werewolves, has been growing and changing, increasing exponentially. Their power seems to have attracted attention, and it's a kind of attention no one would desire. Jean-Claude and Richard need to be strong allies now. Nathaniel and Micah need to give all their love and aid. And Anita will need to call on Edward, whose utter human ruthlessness in her defense makes him the right man for the job.
Anita Blake has the authority to pass judgement on vampires. The Harlequin have the authority to pass judgement on her. It is forbidden to speak of the Harlequin unless you've been contacted.
And to be contacted by the Harlequin is to be under sentence of death.

For the explanation of why I'm suddenly ARCworthy, click here.
I think I really HAVE died and gone to Reader Heaven!!

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Little Bonbons

♥Just a few little Bonbons- I've been working too much to post lately. I have been slowly filling in a nice long QB's Quickies post to try and clear out my Recent Savorings queue. I hope to get that finished and posted within the next few days. I've been reading nearly every minute that I haven't been working and there's been some really REALLY good reads in there!

♥Have you seen the May issue of Romantic Times magazine? If not, it's worth picking up- it should be available until May 14th, I think. First of all, there's a couple of articles about Urban Fantasy. They mention everyone from Emma Bull to Laurell K. Hamilton to Kim Harrison, but there are a few authors I've not heard of. I'll be checking out and possibly adding some of their books to my Constant Cravings list. Then later, some of the Urban Fantasy authors give advice for writing in this newly popular sub-genre. They've also added an Urban Fantasy sub-section to their Paranormal reviews.

Finally, there are some Historical and Erotica book reviews in there that have me salivating! I'll be adding them to my Constant Cravings and Decadent Desires lists as soon as I can find time.

♥ This is such a a dream story for a werewolf-ho like me. Go look at the pics and read the story. Isn't it like the first chapter of a Paranormal Romance where we first meet the hero? I'm hoping some author will take this and run with it!

♥ I've been doing a happy dance and hugging myself while letting loose with multiple Fangirl Squees! Why? Because my ARC (Advanced Readers Copy) of Laurell K. Hamilton's The Harlequin is in the mail and on it's way to me RIGHT NOW!!!!! Click here for a brief explanation of how I suddenly became ARCworthy. I have every intention of getting enough work done that I can sit down and devour it as soon as it gets here. Probably twice. And then I'm also going to take the time to create a very long Cubie's Commentary about it WITHOUT ANY SPOILERS. Hee-hee, that's right, you'll be getting no more specific details from me than Laurell or her publisher have already given. At least that's my plan, now let's see if I can pull it off. I absolutely do not want to spoil anyone else's joy in reading The Harlequin for themselves, but I also relish the chance to have my say-so FIRST without anyone arguing with me- at least for a couple of weeks until more ARCs get distributed.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Why She Did It

A quick follow-up to my blog about Kim Harrison's For a Few Demons More...

Evidently I'm not the only one freaked out by the events in the book. And she's aware of the outcry because she posted a thread titled "Why I Did It" over on the LKH board. WARNING: It's another spoiler so don't read it if you don't want the book ruined for you. (Ya got that crowwoman/rhian? LOL) It doesn't REALLY explain anything to me and I don't feel any different about any of it.

If you're not familiar with Laurell K. Hamilton's board, there is a section where other author's works are discussed and a few authors have their own subsections where they sometimes post- often more frequently than they do on their own boards or blogs. In Kim Harrison's section, you will find a lot of discussion of this latest book and of all the Hollows books. Some of it is really interesting, but I'm not done grieving over the major events of FAFDM enough that I can begin discussing some of the minor mysteries yet.

ADDED: Since older posts on the LKH board get archived from time to time, I decided to copy Kim's response here...

Laurell K. Hamilton Forums/Other Authors/Guest Authors/Kim Harrison
03/31/2007 at 11:57 AM

Hi all.

I have been hearing a lot of gnashing of teeth on various threads, and I wanted to give the comfort of a reason for those who need it. If you've read FOR A FEW DEMONS MORE, you know what I'm talking about. I didn't quite know where to put my words, so I'm just going to start a new thread. I won't be coming back to THIS thread to answer any posts, but I will continue to watch the ASK KIM QUESTIONS thread. Anyway, my next comments are a big spoiler, so don't look until you've read it. Some things you don't want to know ahead of time lest you cheat yourself of the true impact.

[QB: right click and highlight to read]
Kisten didn't die in the rough draft, or the first polish. He didn't decide to leave until I had written the rough draft of the _next_ book. Kisten peered over my shoulder, saw that he hadn't taught Rachel anything in this new book, gave her a kiss goodbye, and asked me to take him out at the end of FDM. He was done.

There was nothing he could help Rachel with, nothing he could teach her, nothing he could do to save her from the stuff coming next, and he asked me
to take him out so that someone who might be able to save her could step in. It was an act of love, if you believe fictional characters are capable of such a thing.

It was one of the hardest things I've ever done, but Kisten made me do it.
He wanted to go out in a blaze of glory then be shipped out of state, or
sent on an errand, or break up with Rachel and leave.

And I miss him