Thursday, November 29, 2007

Off to North Dakota

We're getting on a plane tomorrow at 7:00 am for a quick weekend trip to Minot, North Dakota for the in-laws 60th wedding anniversary. That means I need to get up at 4:30am ...yikes.

I just checked the weather forecast and today the high temperature is supposed to be 5 degrees Fahrenheit (that's -15 Celcius) with winds 20 - 30 MPH. My, my, how balmy that is going to be! Let me not forget my stocking cap, scarf and gloves. And warm shoes and coat.

Thank you everyone for all your helpful suggestions for a gift of photographs and a BIG THANK YOU to CindyS for the idea of a digital picture frame. I bought one with an 8" screen on sale after Thanksgiving for $99 (regularly $180) and then bought an SD card for only $10. I have been busily copying files to the SD card and scanning about 100 old photos to add to the card too. The scanning takes quite a while especially if you increase the resolution. Some of the old photos are in bad shape so I really needed to have a higher resolution. I think the card could probably hold about 500 photos but I don't have time to scan that many. I think they'll like what I was able to do. It sort of looks like this one.

The picture frame is so easy to use. Just turn it on and pop in the SD card and it starts a slide show of all the pictures on the card. Now if their grand daughter, Jennifer - who has two kids, has some digital photos she wants to share she can pop the SD card from her digital camera into the frame and show them the latest adventures of their great grandkids. I think mom & dad are going to love it.

When I get home from work I must finish scanning and pack my suitcase. Oh, course, figure out what books to bring.

Reading Now: Dangerous Lover by Lisa Marie Rice.
YUM, very, very, very HOT. Lots of build up and sexual tension before the sex scenes. Jack has been in love with the heroine for 12 years, but when he comes back in her life she doesn't recognize him (he was just a teenager then and she was very rich). Caroline has lost her parents and brother and is barely making ends meet. She takes in boarders to help pay for the upkeep on the old mansion she lives in and Jack approaches her about renting a room. She needs comfort and Jack provides it. Great sex scenes. There is a back story about blood diamonds related to Jack's previous work that is just getting started now and I'm hoping it doesn't distract me from the main plot. My only complaint so far is that the heroine is just too perfect and beautiful.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Movie Review: Beowulf


My team at work won a little competition a few months ago and the prize was lunch and a movie. Our manager finally delivered on that prize yesterday. The guys wanted to go to a Thai restaurant and the movie they decided on was Beowulf in 3D at the IMAX theatre. Not my decision but I went along with it.

The movie was horrid. Too gruesome, bloody and disgusting. I know it was just digital animation but it was very realistic and with the 3D glasses made it look like blood, guts and body parts were flying in your face constantly.



The monster Grendel was so ugly that he was excruciatingly painful to even look at. When Grendel grabs one of the men and bites his head off and crunches on it like celery, my stomach heaved and right there I was done. But I had to sit there because I couldn't see myself climbing over 8 people to get the hell out of there so I suffered through much of the rest of it with my eyes closed.



And the nudity was another story. Now I don't mind nudity, especially male nudity :) but just imagine watching a movie with 8 of your fellow mostly-male coworkers where a male and female character were totally nude (ok, I know it was animation). Would you feel a tad uncomfortable? I was squirming a bit. OK, here's the deal. Angelina Jolie is Grendel's evil mother (forgot her character's name) and she emerges as a gold-plated nude from the waters of the lagoon. Except she had no nipples. (Are those real breasts, cuz mine were never that perky... just saying). And she had spike-heeled feet .... NOT shoes, FEET. You can see it in this picture here. When I saw that I burst out laughing. I think that my girlfriend co-worker and I were the only people that caught that because we were the only ones laughing. The guys were silent ... I'm sure I know what they were looking at. Beowulf is the boastful warrior that takes on Grendel and strips nude to do battle with him. But the family jewels are always kept hidden by well placed objects or people. I don't get that... why are women shown completely nude from head to toe, front & back. Yet nude men always have the good parts covered. There's a double standard here. Men are wimps.



Those damn 3D glasses gave me a headache and made my face itch plus I had to go to the bathroom EXTREMELY badly the last 45 minutes. Let's just say I was miserable through the whole movie. Can you believe this thing was rated PG-13? Should have been R rated really but they got away with it because it was animation. There is something wrong with the MPAA rating system... it's total crap.



I will say that the animation was good with a few problems. Sometimes motion was sort of jerky like when they are riding horses. Too choppy. Anyway, this is not a girl movie. At. All. It might have been tolerable if seen in a regular theatre where bloody stuff isn't flying so much in your face. Or maybe just rent the video when it comes out so you can mute the head crunching sounds. Blech!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

60th Wedding Anniversary

Bob's parent's 60th Wedding Anniversary is November 30th and we decided to fly to North Dakota to celebrate with them. This decision was prompted by an email from his aunt who laid a bit of a guilt trip on us. She said basically that she wished we lived closer to her (and them) and wouldn't it be nice to surprise them with a visit in honor of this momentous event. Then she started cataloging all their various aches and pains and ailments. I'm sure we deserved to be slapped alongside the head with this wakeup call.

Several weeks ago Bob and I talked about going out there but had decided against it because
  1. Bob hates flying
  2. It's expensive
  3. We just saw them in June
But really those are pitiful excuses. We won't have them much longer and we need to make more of an effort.

BTW, I adore my in-laws. Plus the love they have shown their grandchildren makes them the best grandparents on the planet. My MIL never forgets a birthday and continually tells me she feels she's so lucky her son married me. My FIL is a hoot and loves to laugh and tell stories of his youth. In fact they both love a good joke and laughing is their favorite past time. They were hard working farmers and lived on the farm up until about 5 years ago when they had to move into the city - Minot - where they are closer to good medical care. Last year they moved into an assisted living facility because things have been getting harder for them. My MIL is 87 and my FIL is 82. An older woman/younger man story spanning 60 years. :)

We will arrive on Friday (30th) around 4:00 and go to dinner at their favorite restaurant. Then Saturday we will spend all day with them. I've heard talk from some relatives that they are trying to arrange some kind of open house party for them that day. Since we are 1200 miles away we can't help out with the plans which makes me feel bad but I said we would contribute the money if they wanted to reserve a meeting room in a hotel to hold the party. Bob's sister is in North Dakota so I'm sure most of the party planning will fall on her unfortunately. We will head back to Seattle on Sunday morning.

I love my MIL as much as my mom and she filled the void when my mom died in 1999. We used to talk and laugh together on the phone. But in recent years she has been getting more forgetful so whenever she calls she keeps the conversations very short. I really think she is afraid she will repeat herself or make a mistake about her memory. But really I don't care, I love her and she can say anything and I won't judge. But you can tell she is very self conscious. She has a pacemaker and Bob's aunt says that the only thing keeping her alive.

My main problem now is figuring out an anniversary gift for them. Help! I need suggestions! What do you get for a couple in their 80's who live in assisted living facility? I was thinking about some food item or treat but that seems like a stupid anniversary gift. Their apartment is very small so they don't have a lot of room. They will probably say that our presence will be gift enough but I think 60 years deserves something.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Serpent Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt

COPYRIGHT: 2007
SETTING: Historical - Georgian era
TYPE: Straight Romance
PAGES: 384
SERIES: 3rd in the "Prince" series. The heroes of these three books are friends but the books really stand alone.
SENSUALITY: Very HOT

SUMMARY:

WHEN THE DEVIL MEETS AN ANGEL
Country bred Lucy Craddock-Hayes is content with her quiet life. Until the day she trips over an unconscious man—a naked unconscious an—and loses her innocence forever.


HE CAN TAKE HER TO HEAVEN
Viscount Simon Iddesleigh was nearly beaten to death by his enemies. Now he’s hell-bent on vengeance. But as Lucy nurses him back to health, her honesty startles his jaded sensibilities—even as it ignites a desire that threatens to consume them both.


OR TO HELL
Charmed by Simon’s sly wit, urbane manners, and even his red-heeled shoes, Lucy falls hard and fast for him. Yet as his honor keeps him from ravishing her, his revenge sends his attackers to her door. As Simon wages war on his foes, Lucy wages her own war for his soul using the only weapon she has—her love…


THOUGHTS/OPINION:
Unless I read something very spectacular between now and the end of the year, TSP will most likely top my list of best historicals for 2007 in AAR's annual poll. I also made a place for it in my recently completed Top 100 Romances.

TSP had it all -- a dark tortured anti-hero, hot spicy sex scenes, and a wonderfully romantic ending which I've re-read 3 times as of this counting. However, the book had an edgy, gritty quality but was saved from being too serious by a fantastic hero and heroine. The cast of 3-D characters, including Simon's valet, and Lucy's father, a retire naval officer, were also well drawn.

Hoyt is a talented storyteller and I was engrossed from first page to last. This is another controversial book because lots of people may have issues with Simon's behavior in regards to his overwhelming need for vengeance against those who killed his brother. In fact, he goes over the top but I love this type of 'anti-hero' in the tradition of Anne Stuart, my favorite type as a matter of fact. His ultimate redemption at the end is all the sweeter. Never fear, he falls in love with the heroine, Lucy, from the start and treats her well although he fails to tell her the truth about his schemes for revenge until almost the end of the book.

Be warned that the level of violence portrayed in the duels may make some readers uncomfortable. I'm not fond of too much blood and guts myself. But to be fair I thought the duels were realistically portrayed.

Simon is a dark character but he is witty, clever and utterly charming and won my heart completely. Lucy is a down to earth country girl, and her calm demeanor and honesty are a perfect foil to Simon's sarcasm and teasing. But Lucy is also intelligent and sharp-tongued making the dialog between them a pleasure to read. The sex scenes are steamy too ... very erotic and emotional.

As in the previous two books there is a secondary story - a fairy tale about a Serpent Prince and magic and granting wishes - which Simon tells Lucy in bits and pieces throughout the book. It completely rounded out the book. I look forward to more from this author.

GRADE: A

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Hot Wheels & High Heels by Jane Graves

COPYRIGHT: 2007
PAGES: 363
SETTING: Contemporary
TYPE: Straight Romance
SERIES: No
SENSUALITY: Warm


SUMMARY:
She has caviar dreams on a SPAM budget

Trophy wife Darcy McDaniel has just discovered that, thanks to her embezzling husband, her posh, upper-class life is gone for good. Now she's trading her suburban palace for a trailer park and her weekly salon appointments for a job. Darcy needs a new man--fast--one who'll keep her in the manner she darn well deserves. Problem is, the hottest prospect around is the my-way-or-the-highway hunk who's making off with her beloved Mercedes!

He doesn't want trouble...until she saunters in wearing high heels

Ex-cop turned repo man John Stark is sure that hiring the furious woman in his headlights is a colossal mistake. He knows Darcy's high-maintenance, designer-labels-only type--after all, he's used to taking their cars. But he never expected this hellion to have the smarts and the spunk to go from receptionist to repo agent in record time...or to drive him insane with desire. She's the last thing this tall, dark, and dangerous loner needs...and everything ne never knew he wanted.

THOUGHTS / OPINION:
I was very pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed HW&HH. My first book by this author, I Got You, Babe, was a keeper and the next two were pretty good, although not as good as IGYB for me. In HW&HH the heroine, Darcy McDaniel, returns from vacation with a girlfriend to discover her husband has sold their house, emptied their bank accounts and disappeared. Darcy is a trophy wife who traded on her youth and good looks to a man old enough to be her father so she can live the easy life. All she has left is her fancy car and her dog, Pepe. She has no money and no where to live and no job skills. So back to the trailer park she goes to live with her parents until she figures out what to do. Darcy was not a very likable character at first. But her character development along the way was very nicely done.

John Stark is an ex-cop who now owns his own repossession company. Darcy's husband was not making the payments on her car and John tracks her down in order to repo her car but Darcy catches him at it. There is a very funny scene where Darcy tricks him while he is trying to repo her car so that she keeps it from him. But he eventually catches up with her and gets the car. But he ends up offering her the receptionist job in his office and then the sparks start to fly. The snappy dialog was funny and the plot was fast paced and entertaining. I really started to like Darcy and became sympathetic to how she got in her predicament and how she works hard to get out and be self sufficient. John was yummy and the sexual tension was delicious. Even the secondary characters are well done. Although Darcy's mother was rather cliche, her father turned out to be very human and likable. This was a fun read guaranteed to make you smile. I'll be reading Graves's next book Tall Tales & Wedding Veils which features John's employee, Tony.

GRADE: B+