Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

I'm back. It's been a rough week and my way of dealing with things is to withdraw and escape. I didn't want to talk about any books, but I wanted- NEEDED- to get lost in them. So I've spent the last week lost in Stephanie Lauren's Cynster series. I think, actually I KNOW, it was my way of avoiding the real world and recapturing some sense of happily-ever-after. Doesn't make anything easier, but that's the coping mechanism that works for me.

I started out with the intention of only re-reading book 1, Devil's Bride, but even that close-to-perfect book wasn't enough and I ended up re-reading the first 6 books, all the Bar Cynsters, before I came up for air. I don't know what I'll read next. NOTHING I have is capturing my attention AT ALL! I think Sybil has given up on me and has decided not to be my BFF anymore. *sniffle*.

But I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow. I've gotta say that Thanksgiving has always been my LEAST favorite holiday. All the overcrowded grocery stores, then cooking all day, just to see the meal end 20 minutes later. GAK! I refused to do the big family holiday meal years ago, which helped enormously. I always hated how the women busted their asses all day, we ate , then we busted our asses cleaning up while the men all watched football and did NOT watch the kids. Fuck that shit, I want to go sit down after I eat, too! At least, when it's just me, my DH, and our kids, THEY help with a bit of the prep, and THEY clean up. I refuse to, although I do help box up the leftovers.

But wherever you are for Thanksgiving, whether you celebrate it or not, stay safe and take a minute to count your blessings. - Icon graphics

Things you can only say on Thanksgiving (I totally ripped this off from another site)

1. Talk about a huge breast!

2. Tying the legs together keeps the inside moist.

3. It's Cool Whip time!

4. If I don't undo my pants, I'll burst!

5. That's one terrific spread!

6. I'm in the mood for a little dark meat.

7. Are you ready for seconds yet?

8. Its a little dry, do you still want to eat it?

9. Just wait your turn, you'll get some!

10. Don't play with your meat.

11. Just spread the legs open and stuff it in.

12. Do you think you'll be able to handle all these people at once?

13. I didn't expect everyone to come at once!

14. You still have a little bit on your chin.

15. How long will it take after you stick it in?

16. You'll know it's ready when it pops up.

17. Wow, I didn't think I could handle all of that!

18. That's the biggest one I've ever seen! - Icon graphics

Monday, November 12, 2007

In Memoriam

When my Dad died 21 years ago, he was 59. I was about 2.5 months pregnant with my twins, and HIS Dad died when my Mom was about 2.5 months pregnant with me.

This morning, my sister-in-law died. She turned 59 last month. I remember when my Dad died (lung cancer), my co-workers kept commenting on how young he was. At the time, I didn’t truly understand what they meant. I mean, I knew 59 wasn’t OLD, but it didn’t really seem young either. Now I know EXACTLY what they meant.

Virginia and my husband’s oldest brother, Carl, have been together since the late 1960’s. Carl just retired as a captain in the fire department of a large city out west. They were inseparable, even more close and more in love now than they were back then. Their two daughters are grown now with kids of their own, but still very much need their Mom at this stage in their lives. Their oldest daughter has a 2 year old son, and a little girl due in January, and a 15 year old son who spent a good part of this past summer hanging out with his Grandma. Their other daughter has a 2 year old and a newborn daughter.

Virginia was diagnosed about a year ago with pancreatic cancer. Unfortunately, that’s not a cancer that has a good outcome, and hers was the most aggressive type of pancreatic cancer and had already invaded her liver. In spite of that though, she was able to fight the good fight for almost a year. That’s almost unheard of with pancreatic cancer. And through most of the past year, she stayed upbeat and active despite occasional setbacks. But in the end, her body just wasn’t strong enough to fight off both the cancer and the ravages of chemotherapy.

The thing is, she always did everything RIGHT! She ate only healthy foods, she ran and exercised daily. She was a tiny woman who never got over 100 pounds although, ironically, that was one of the reasons the chemo was so devastating to her- she died at 81 pounds. She took care of herself, dammit! All the things “they” say we need to do and it didn’t matter one damn bit, did it? Just goes to show that it doesn’t really matter what we do, it’s all just the cards we’re dealt.

So now we worry about her husband, Carl. Through all of this, he has been bitter and angry. To the point that, when she was started in a clinical trial program, the doctors pulled Carl out of the room and said “The first thing we need from you is a better attitude.” Yes, it’s normal to be angry, to resent others who live unhealthy lives and aren’t sick, to rail against the fate that could take your other half away from you. But I have never seen anyone as tortured as Carl has been for the past year. When my husband had lymphoma, I had to be the strong one. I told him his job was to get well and mine was to deal with all the other bullshit stress in our lives. And I did it without resentment. But it seemed to us like it was Virginia who had to remain upbeat and strong because Carl was falling apart and couldn’t deal with any of it. I have to admit we were kind of shocked since Carl had always been so protective of Virginia and now that she needed him most, he was almost too devastated to function. And now, at the end of the day, he will be going home to an empty house and the realization that after nearly 40 years of living and loving together, he won’t be seeing her again during his time here on earth. So, yeah, we are all worried about him. It really is hard to believe they won’t be together. And even harder to believe she’s really gone.

We here in Romancelandia read all about how the hero and heroine get together, fall in love, and live happily ever after. But in the real world, we don't really get an HEA, do we? Sooner or later death is going to rip one from the other. What do you do when the other half of your life is suddenly gone? Can you ever become a whole person again when you feel like your body is functioning but your heart, mind, and soul died right along with the one you love?

ADDED: She was in the hospital for 2 blood clots in her lungs which had also happened a few months ago. As late as Friday night, she was still upbeat and positive. In fact, she told my other sister-in-law that this was just another setback and she intended to get back into the fight as soon as it was taken care of. But by Saturday, the doctor told Carl to get hold of Hospice, take her home, and begin making funeral arrangements. On Sunday evening, he went home to eat and take a shower and then felt a strong need to go back to the hospital and spend the night with her. He planned on bringing her home as soon as he could make the arrangements with Hospice today.

This morning (Monday), she opened her eyes, looked at him, and said "I love you"... he said, "I love you, too"... then she took one last breath and was... just... gone.

There will be no services, no funeral, according to both their wishes. She will be cremated and he said he will place the urn containing her ashes on their bedroom dresser surrounded by her favorite jewelry and other trinkets, so that he can talk to her whenever he wants.

When I first found out he said that, I was even more worried about him. But, you know, in a way it makes sense. If having her ashes there for right now makes it easier for him to cope, then who's to say there is anything wrong with it? In fact, it's probably more comfort to him than anything else could possibly be.

ADDED: The circle of life goes on... my Mom just called to tell me that I've got a new grandniece. Momma (my brother's daughter) and baby are doing fine.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Saturday, November 10, 2007

More from the Jeff Files

Finished up end of month/beginning of month work crunch. So, since I haven't had time for much else, and it's been awhile since I've posted one of the endless supply of emails forwarded from my brother-in-law Jeff, I thought I'd show everyone what an equal opportunity offender he is!

What do you call two Mexicans playing basketball?
Juan on Juan

♥ ♥ ♥

What is a Yankee?
The same as a Quickie, but a guy can do it alone.
♥ ♥ ♥

What is the difference between a Harley and a Hoover?
The position of the dirt bag.
♥ ♥ ♥

Why is divorce so expensive?
Because it's worth it.
♥ ♥ ♥

What do you see when the Pillsbury Dough Boy bends over?
♥ ♥ ♥

Why is air a lot like sex?
Because it's no big deal unless you're not getting any.
♥ ♥ ♥

What do you call a smart blonde?
A golden retriever.
♥ ♥ ♥

What do attorneys use for birth control?
Their personalities.
♥ ♥ ♥

What's the difference between a girlfriend and wife?
45 lbs
♥ ♥ ♥

What's the difference between a boyfriend and husband?
45 minutes
♥ ♥ ♥

What's the fastest way to a man's heart?
Through his chest with a sharp knife
♥ ♥ ♥

Why do men want to marry virgins?
They can't stand criticism.
♥ ♥ ♥

Why is it so hard for women to find men that are sensitive,
caring, and good-looking?

Because those men already have boyfriends.
♥ ♥ ♥

What's the difference between a new husband and a new dog?
After a year, the dog is still excited to see you
♥ ♥ ♥

What makes men chase women they have no intention of marrying?
The same urge that makes dogs chase cars they have no intention of driving.
♥ ♥ ♥

Why don't bunnies make noise when they have sex?
Because they have cotton balls.
♥ ♥ ♥

What did the blonde say when she found out she was pregnant?
'Are you sure it's mine?'
♥ ♥ ♥

Why does Mike Tyson cry during sex?
Mace will do that to you.
♥ ♥ ♥

Why did OJ Simpson want to move to West Virginia ?
Because he heard everyone there has the same DNA.
♥ ♥ ♥

Why do men find it difficult to make eye contact?
Breasts don't have eyes.
♥ ♥ ♥

Why do drivers' education classes in Redneck schools use the car only on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays?
Because on Tuesday and Thursday, the Sex Ed class uses it.
♥ ♥ ♥

Where does an Irish family go on vacation?
A different Bar.
♥ ♥ ♥

Did you hear about the Chinese couple that had a blond baby?
They named him 'Sum Ting Wong'.
♥ ♥ ♥

What would you call it when an Italian has one arm shorter than the other?
A speech impediment.
♥ ♥ ♥

What's the difference between a southern zoo and a northern zoo?
A southern zoo has a description of the animal on the front of the cage along with... 'a recipe'.
♥ ♥ ♥

How do you get a sweet little 80-year-old lady to say the F word?
Get another sweet little 80-year-old lady to yell *BINGO*!
♥ ♥ ♥

Why is there no Disneyland in China ?
No one is tall enough to go on the good rides
♥ ♥ ♥

What's the difference between a northern fairytale and a southern fairytale?
A northern fairytale begins 'Once upon a time '
A southern fairytale begins 'Y'all ain't gonna believe this shit....
♥ ♥ ♥

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketHAH! Admit it! You laughed, didn't you?! Guess, you aren't as PC as you thought you were!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Bride for a Knight by Sue-Ellen Welfonder

Book CoverBride for a Knight by Sue-Ellen Welfonder
Historical romance published 01 Sept 2007 by Forever

This one just barely squeaked into my M&Ms category. Head over to The Good, the Bad and the Unread to read my review.

Monday, November 5, 2007

We're All 15 Year Old Boys

Gwen just sent me the link for this. Remember Conan O'Brian's Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog? Well, I had seen a few bits and pieces of him with Bon Jovi, but I had never seen the complete piece. Dear God! I had tears rolling down my face from laughing so hard!

Friday, November 2, 2007

But, Ya Gotta Have Fr-ie-ie-ie-nds

(Damn, I just gave myself an earworm with that title)

In Shelly Laurenston’s The Mane Event (see my TGTBTU review), three of the male leads are alpha-shifters and two of those are also former Navy Seals. But instead of writing them as predictably humorless and overbearing, Laurenston made them fun and playful- even in the bedroom! Totally unexpected and it set me to thinking about some recent romance books that also had less intense heroes.

In Shiloh Walker’s Hunter’s Salvation (see previous commentary), Vax doesn’t even WANT to get involved and be a hero. Nic, from Hunting the Demon by Jaci Burton (see previous commentary) is pretty laid back and has no problems letting Shay be the heroine. In Burton’s Wild, Wicked, and Wanton (see previous commentary), Abby felt a stronger connection to Seth because they had spent the previous year laughing and joking together. In Annie Dean’s Your Alibi (see previous commentary), the male lead, Sean, never realized sex could be so fun until he met Addie.

The brothers in Jean Johnson’s Sons of Destiny series (see previous commentaries), may THINK of themselves as manly men (despite all their quirks), but they really are marshmallows when it comes to their women. Luc, in Shayla Black’s Decadent (see TGTBTU review), was far more swoon worthy than the lead male character because he develops a friendship with Kimber outside of the bedroom (the fact that he was gorgeous and a gourmet cook didn‘t hurt either).

Throughout Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Underworld series, Jeremy has been the stoic alpha wolf, but in No Humans Involved (see previous commentary), she let us see the softer, more “human” side to him. Hunter was unmistakably the hero of Jennifer Ashley’s Immortals: The Gathering (commentary pending), but he was also laid back with a sense of fun. In Christine Feehan’s newest Carpathian novel, Dark Possession (see previous commentary), even Manolito is a kinder, gentler version of an uber-alpha!

Micah, from Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series (see The Harlequin commentary) is an alpha shifter but doesn’t feel the need to growl at everyone to prove who he is. Also in LKH's AB series, Jean-Claude can "taste" food for the first time in hundreds of years through his metaphysical link with Anita. Anita recounts how, when they are alone, Jean-Claude enjoys the tastes so much that he rolls around on the floor, covers his mouth and moans. For him to let go and get that goofy, you just KNOW it must be love!

Jamie Frazer from Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series is beloved because (among other things) he is friends with and genuinely LIKES Claire.

My husband and I have been together 26 years. On our wedding invitation 24 years ago, we had the following engraved on the front, “Today I marry my friend. The one I laugh with, live with, love.” And, to me, that says it all. “Best friends” romance stories have always been popular, and of course we find humor in romantic comedies. Outside of those, though, I hope more and more authors will include male leads that aren’t just sexy and masculine, but genuinely LIKEABLE too. They can still be alpha hardasses, but let me see SOMETHING that tells me why the heroine wants him forever instead of one night. Because, isn’t it the private moments, when we can let our guard down with our significant other and act silly and goofy, that bond us together? Let me see why the female lead puts up with the overbearing protectiveness that is standard in romance novels. We KNOW that the alpha hero will be there during the tough times, but let us see the good times, too. Even if it’s just a quick glimpse of their lighter side. Make me fall in love, rather than lust, with them.

I think one of the main reasons I prefer gay contemporaries over straight ones (aside from the whole man-luvin' thing ;D), is because the relationship dynamics are so different. For the most part, the romantic leads are buddies that hang together AND love each other. It's rare to find that "ease" in a male/female based romance story and, while I can accept the lack in a paranormal or historical, it's very hard for me to read a contemporary without it.

Having said all that, though, let me also caution that playfulness that seems “forced” is a kiss o’ death to a book. An author doesn’t have to be a master (mistress?) of one-liners to show us their hero’s lighter side. The entire book doesn’t have to be oh-so-wacky. Just give me a moment or two that show me how comfortable the leads are together in their private moments. One of my favorite lines in Christmas Pride, the first novella in Shelly Laurenston's The Mane Event perfectly illustrates the point I’m trying to make. This is part of a longer bedroom scene: kneeling above Dez, Mace hands her a condom and says “Here, make yourself useful.” See? Not laugh out loud funny, not even all that important to the storyline, it’s just PLAYFUL and REAL. Maybe only the heroine gets to see it, but find those little opportunities to give us a glimpse of another side to your alpha heroes.