Tuesday, July 29, 2008

AWOL from blogging

Look how long it has been since a post.  An unexpected family tragedy has taken me out of blogging for a bit. I'll be back, oh, in a week or two.  


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Real & perceived hugeness

The Immortals After Dark by Kresley Cole
Book #2: No Rest For the Wicked

What’s funny is that when I was writing about A Hunger Like No Other below and thinking about all the different scenes, I decided then and there that was my favorite book of this series. But now that I’m thinking about No Rest For the Wicked, gosh, this one was so good, too! Maybe this one is my favorite! Maybe I have two favorites. What the heck, it’s my blog.

This is the first book in the series that revolves around the Hie, a kind of road race/scavenger hunt for the immortals.

The hero is one Sebastian Wroth, who was turned into a vampire against his will… “Burdened with hatred and alone for ages, he sees little reason to live. Until an exquisite fey creature comes to kill him, inadvertently saving him instead.”

The creature is Kaderin the Cold Hearted, a Valkyrie assassin sent to kill him. Their super lusty encounter shocks them both, but Kaderin takes off - she can’t think about Sebastian; she’s in the Hie, and the prize is the ability to go back and change history (save her dead sisters!) Sebastian decides to enter the Hie, too, though he just wants to seduce Kaderin and win the prize for her, or help her. This is a very fun and sexy book, which in fact spawned a certain infamous question of the day.

Real hugeness
Here’s what I want to talk about—one of the things I most love about this whole series: Kresley Cole doesn’t do anything halfway. Everything is HUGE!

In book #1, Lachlain didn’t just hate vampires, they burnt him to death repeatedly for 150 years. Kaderin’s not just cold-hearted, she hasn’t felt emotions for centuries, ever since her sisters were killed by a vampire she spared on the battlefield. It is her fault!

And Kaderin is sent to destroy Sebastian, but when she encounters him, she doesn’t just change her mind or fall for him—nothing so minor as that. Rather, her feelings come back, and his heart starts beating again (and they have a fabulously lusty encounter in his castle where he has hitherto suffered, tormented and alone for ages). And yeah, people here live in castles. Not condos. Not houses.

The Hie is also huge. You have minefields and shark infested waters and all-consuming immortal hell fires.

This hugeness of plot just makes everything more fun somehow. I really think this series is even more clever than it appears.

Perceived hugeness

Okay, here is another observation on hugeness: did you ever notice that in this series, as well as many many others, the heroes will frequently worry that they will hurt the women with their huge cocks?

It happens over and over—I would say the majority of paranormal reads in this very blog feature this idea on the part of the hero. Yet never once has a heroine felt upset or complained or been like, Yow!

I find this somewhat humorous, and I don’t think it’s exactly intentional on the authors’ parts. Taken case by case, I believe it’s supposed to suggest, well, yes he has a huge cock, but these two are perfectly suited so…

But when you look at it as an overall trend, it can only suggest that heroes have unrealistic assessments of their own sizes. Because they always seem to think it.

More opinions

Many of my esteemed colleagues have reviewed this series, including Sula, and Lisabea whose book this is, LesleyW, whose reviews on this series are way more thoughtful than mine, Taja who just finished them, too, and probably about 10 other people on my sidebar.  And you'll find MaryKate's fab reviews of #4 and #5 here!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

A Hunger Like No Other

Oh wait, hold the presses, this is a blog about BOOKS? Not DVDs? Not Kitties? Yes. And believe it or not, I have been reading and finishing books. Maybe not as fast as some of you high performance readers, but I have. And three of them are the first three installments of Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark. Does it seem strangely like I only read books that everybody else has already read? It does to me.

In a lot of ways I was predisposed not to like this series. I’d read a few tepid reviews, then heard the only good one was the first, then it was the third. Though some people like these quite a bit. Then I ordered #3 by mistake and I was like, shit, now I have to read the first two or I’ve wasted my money. I bought the first and lovely soon-to-be MBA Sula lent me #2.

So anyway, that is the pall under which I started #1, A Hunger Like No Other. Add to that I sort of sensed the hapless, gadget obsessed, slightly shallow-seeming heroine, and I don’t tend to like that sort of heroine.

But wow, this series totally grew on me. You know when you look back on books, and you have a kind of image or feeling about them? Maybe with one book it’s a nice feeling, or another it’s just blandness, like, what the hell was that even about? Or for me, Lara Adrian and BDB is dark broody sexorin. 

I look back on these Immortals and it's brightness and newness. To me, they’re these bright, clever reads that don’t take themselves seriously, but are quite fun and smart—in a way that sneaks up on you.

This is the story of werewolf Lachlain MacRieve of the Lykae Clan. This guy was chained under the catacombs of Paris for decades by vampires, where he was repeatedly burned to death, though being that he’s an immortal, he always revived for it to happen again. So it’s this terrible torture, and then he finally gets this new energy to be free when he sense his predestined mate walking the streets above him. And it’s Emma, a half vampire.

So he's mad, since all that kept him alive was visions of retribution against vampires. And she’s not into him either, as he seems like a big, backwards monster freak to her - okay, here, from the back: “…her fear of the Lykae—and their notorious dark desires—ebbs as he begins a slow, wicked seduction to sate her own dark cravings.”

Can I just say that’s some fine back cover copy? Also, I must say there were a lot of scenes where I was like, OMG, I can’t even believe this author is doing this. Various shower scenes come to mind. Yet I found them enormously fun and dirty! 

I really liked this book. I think of the three, it was my favorite, and Emma is my favorite of the heroines, and Lachlain MacRieve is my favorite of the heroes, too. I know people are partial to Bowen (Ana). In fact, bring back DIK and Lachlain would have been in my hero mix. Who got him anyway?

But Emma had such a strong character arc; she grows out of her timidity in a way that is very satisfying. I also like the writing in her sections. Like this, from very early on:
Starving in Paris. And friendless. Was there ever such a predicament?

Couples strolling hand in hand along the gravel walk seemed to mock her loneliness. Was it just her, or did lovers look more adoringly at each other in this city? Especially in springtime. Die, bastards.

She sighed. It wasn’t their fault that they were bastards who should die.
There is just a kind of coy darkness to the sections on her that I really like. Also, I enjoyed the Valkyrie…after a while. More on that later. With this book, there were moments when I wearied of their standoffishness, but on the whole, wow, grand and unexpected fun!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Nancy Drew Week starts August 18th !

Who doesn't love Nancy Drew? (Except maybe those chumps the Hardy Boys, because brilliant Nancy makes them look like bumbling fools!)

Next month, starting August 18th, will be Nancy Drew week here at The THRILLIONTH PAGE, full of mini-recaps and reader reviews of  favorite Nancy Drew adventures, recollections from the books or series, opinions, and more!  

Got a favorite Nancy Drew mystery?  Burning insights on Bess, or Ned Nickerson? Does Nancy hold a special place in your life? 

Be part of Nancy Drew week! (Details here) You don't have to be a blogger or anything to join in, just a fan. I'll send out details in the upcoming week on the many ways you can participate.  

Monday, July 14, 2008

True Blood pilot pre-review location, and I tell an arcane insect fact

True Blood Pre-pilot review!

Oh, I am such a lame poster!  But for those of my buddies who are excited about True Blood series, Voxy over at Suburban Trash has mysteriously been able to view the pilot, and has a very thoughtful review here.

And she has pictures!  Very intesting--and a fine blog, too. 

Late breaking update: Okay, Marta Acosta at Vampire Wire weighs in on this troubling tidbit: Alan Ball has never been a big fan of vampire mythology, hasn't seen an episode of Buffy, and has never read Anne Rice.  Whaaa?  Read about it here

Wasp in my kitchen

A wasp was in my kitchen tonight as I was trying to make dinner and really unnerving me. Further, I have actually never been stung by a bee or wasp, so I could be horribly allergic! Anyway, after watching it warily for 10 minutes, because I don't like to kill them but I have to be in a certain mood to catch and evict them, a duty usually reserved for DH, who was not present, I thought, I wish it would just magically disappear.  

And then it went on a window behind a blind and it disappeared!!  

But then I looked out the window and saw other wasps flying around outside the window, and also, a baby wasp was on the window, and I realized, shit, wasps can get in and out of the kitchen and there is a nest outside of it.  And then I ate dinner.  If it continues to escalate, I know that it will be very easy to fix this wasp's nest hole-in-window frame problem.  In fact, the only tool I will need is a telephone.  One of the great beauties of renting vs. owning. 

Bee and wasp fact taken from a dubious but delightful source

I'm actually not sure if the following is true, because it's taken from the body of amateur entomological literature created in the early 1900's which I was sort of fascinated with at one time. Basically, it was guys who would spend all this time watching the behavior of ants and bees and bugs and write these highly entertaining essays on insect toils and habits and lives and sometimes draw serious philosophical conclusions.  

Actually, it's really delightful stuff, specifically authors like playwright Maurice Maeterlinck, (Life of the Bee is his best work, but Life of the White Ant is kind of interesting, where he makes the case of the superiority of termites to humans) and The Insect World of J. Henri Fabre is one of my personal favorites. 

Anyways, in The Life of the Bee, Maeterlinck talks about how he and his buddy would have these long arguments on whether bees or flies were superior beings.  Maeterlinck's friend, solidly in the fly corner, would point to how, if you trap a fly in an open bottle that is laying on its side, the fly can fly right out, because it follows air currents, but the bee will always try to fly upwards toward the light and never get out.  Maeterlinck took the position that this merely proves that the bee is a more pure and spiritual being. 

So when a bee or wasp is trapped in my place, I always think about that. 

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Contributing to my deliquency

Dearest Kristie (j) and Katie(babs) (and Sula, too!),

Is it not enough that I have joined your crusade? Is it not enough that my mind is now addled with images of Margaret and Richard, er, John Thornton?  And images of their hands, and people looking out windows and things?  

Please, for the love of God, I have work to do.  I have kitties to feed!

But no, it is not enough for you.  No, now  you deliver me this.


North & South - finale!

Great moments from last night’s viewing

Once upon a time I would see those video montages of North and South, frequently at Katie(babs) and KristieJ’s place, and occasionally I’d play them, and it would be like, people walking around in an atmosphere of cotton fluff, or else looking out windows at each other, and I was like, hmmm. WhatEV.

No more! Now I will play those videos and relish the moments they call up. Without fear of spoilers! For I have come to the end of North & South! Twice, because once was just not enough.

Le moments:

The hands at the train station. I have to say, the way that John and Margaret sat together, and then put their hands together, pressed them over each other, that was even more satisfying than that kiss. It was so, just, perfect. Not that the kiss was chopped liver, but oh, those hands!!

It made me think of the way the hands are all the way through. Like, in the beginning, Margaret won’t shake John’s hand, then at the party, that fine handshake I mentioned in a previous gushing post. Then, during the proposal, he leaves his gloves and she picks them up. Empty gloves - deflation, absence, lack. No hands! And then the lovely train station scene, of hands joining!

Margaret has pleasantly plump hands which makes this scene all the more sweet and wonderful. I first saw this video at Sula's, and I just love it. Thanks!

Mrs. Thornton and Margaret in the empty factory. I love these two together in scenes. Now, I am not a good line rememberer, but Margaret says something like, you once accused me of not fully understanding the man I rejected, and you were right. And I felt at that moment the mother got it. Oh, the mother is perfectly written. She is the ultimate complex three dimensional character.

John Thornton’s voice. I love his voice, especially when it goes a little gravelly, which it tends to when he gets emotional, like at the end of the proposal scene, or when he bitterly tells Margaret that he’s looking toward the future after her rejection of him. I think my fellow crusaders know precisely what I am talking about. I also watched the Armitage interview - gosh, what a gracious fellow! - and his voice is just as enchanting in real life. I like him better with the cravat, though, than that little necklace.

n.b.: Look how he smiles as he is about to kiss her!

The extended proposal scene. Thanks, Sula, for pointing out the existence of this. Why did they cut this? This scene made so much more sense. I mean, I suppose they had to fit the series into a time slot, but now it is on DVD. They should stick in all the deleted scenes!

She goes back to the South. That was such a great way to highlight the journey of her character, how she suddenly saw the South as suffocatingly simple. And in a way, it brings the father to light as an intellectual. In the beginning, I felt the father seemed a bit stupid and selfish, but you really see what was going on with him by the end. He was rejecting that suffocation.

Okay, question. The one thing that seemed weird was that the old Oxford friend of the father’s owned the properties Marlborough Mills occupied. Wasn’t that a weird coincidence? Did they go to Milton because his old friend owned property there? It seemed actually, unnecessary, too, that she would inherit that property. It seems like it would’ve been enough to inherit money and invest it. Not that it detracted from my enjoyment of the series, of course!!

The expressiveness of Armitage. John Thornton is a character who contains many emotions at a time, or a fluid series of them. Almost in any scene, esp. with Margaret, he’s consumed with love, anger, worry. And actor Armitage has this ability to embody all that at once. Because really, the character of John Thornton is a highly emotional character. I love photos like this. Look at all the different emotions here!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

North & South & Kitties!

North & South update: I haven't had time to watch it!  Not that I don't deeply desire to, I've just been horribly busy. I have been eating standing up! I know I'll watch it tonight, though.

Okay, I can't even imagine how mind-numbingly boring this blog must be this week to those who have not seen North and South, or don't want to see it.   Almost as bad, I'm sure, as blogs about people's pets. 

So I promise to do this only once.

But look at the new addition to our family!  This is Otis, who is now the new BFF to our other new kitty, who we are calling Kyrie, short for Valkyrie. Sometimes Kyria. 

Favorite past time
As you see, they share a passion for the bird feeder.  They get particularly excited by pigeons. 

Hopefully my landlord won't see this.  My landlord would be nowhere near as excited as these two kitties to see that my birdfeeder is bringing pigeons.  

They also discovered a way to get under the cupboard system and under the dishwasher. When I deduced they were under there, and noted that they were silent and not responding to my calls, I actually began to cry. I was a bit overtired, frankly. Then the kitties came out!

Night of passion
The day before they were scheduled to get spayed and neutered, Kyrie went into heat and the kitties started trying to have sex! At first I was like, No! I think of you as cuddly little muppet brother and sister!  But of course, that's stupid. 
They're just a step away from wild animals. They are beasts, really, with sex and food uppermost on their minds, and if I was magically reduced to the size of a Barbie doll, I'm sure they'd gladly tear me limb from limb and devour me in their bloody jaws, even if they knew it was me. 

The sex didn't seem to work out that well, because Otis' little kitty body is too short. Kyrie was VERY frustrated, as I would be. That is one romantic conflict in a novel I have yet to read about.

Anyway, yesterday they were spayed and neutered respectively. Kitties are doing well. 

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Please Advise!

Well!  As I said before, due to dear husband's summer schedule, I have total control of Netflix and I am relishing North and South as my dinnertime viewing instead of stuff we have to agree on. Luckily we agree on a lot - in fact, he is a bigger Buffy fan than I am, but he would rather have needles poked in his eyes than watch a romantic comedy.

Thanks to my insanely busy life, dinnertime is the only time I ever do any passive viewing.  And movie theaters? What are those? I have a huge hole in my mind where romantic comedies should be! 

Which brings me to my request: What other fabulous chick flicks should I be renting? I have Princess Bride coming after this. Though I do like fun, clever, sappy contemporary romantic comedies. 

I loved:  The Truth About Cats and Dogs.  Also, Serendipity with John Cusack, Moonstruck, Miss CongenialityMaryKate had a post on romantic comedies recently, and people seemed to enjoy The Holiday. Maybe I'll try that. Any other ideas???

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Dark night in Milton

Great moments from tonight's viewing of North and South
Spoilers ahoy!

Dear readers, you find me very worried about our Milton friends tonight. I am maybe halfway through episode #3.

Worry #1: Poor John Thornton's heart. So I saw the proposal - oh, how crushing.  I actually watched the scene several times.  Please, do not continue in that way!  

I was surprised, in a way, that he even proposed, given that they were arguing, and it seemed a bitter exchange, and then he was like, actually I came to ask you to marry me (not in those words).  What's interesting and what I sort of love about him is that he's a man who'll do what he does in spite of potential rejection and that's why he went ahead and asked after that exchange. He told his mother he had to ask, even though he knew she'd turn him down, and he went and did it.  And Margaret tells him she doesn't even like him!  

Heroes get put through a lot. I felt confident in his resilience until he came to their door later to visit father and Margaret wouldn't let him in...and he saw Frederick's things and he felt so hurt! 

Worry #2: I am still really worried about that doctor who she spurned in the first episode.  He seems mean! And I feel like they wouldn't keep showing his angry face if he wasn't going to do something terrible.  

Worry #3: Frederick, of course. Hurry back to Spain, Frederick!  It seems naive on the part of the family that they might imagine he could wiggle out of a mutiny charge. 

Really, this entire family is sort of interesting in that way.  Are they a bit naive? Do they not see things, or choose to take things at face value?  Do they expect the best of people, and are they right to?  And they have their prejudices and blind spots.  It's funny how they don't know what's going on with their own daughter, for example. 

And the mother asks Mrs. Thornton to care for Margaret, not reading the signs of her
 reluctance--or does she choose to deal only with Mrs. Thornton's higher nature? I continue to absolutely love Mrs. Thornton. She is totally my favorite character here. She is full of self knowledge and honesty.

And in a way, Margaret seems to be sort of changing away from that in a positive way. In that scene, for example, where  Frederick speaks poorly of all tradesmen, including Thornton, Margaret defends him, not just because, well you know, but because she is seeing people and the world in a more complex way.  Maybe that is her journey.  At least it struck me that way in this episode.  We will see. 

Worry #4: Will Margaret misguidedly fall for Higgins?  NOOOOOOO!  

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Favorite moments from tonight's viewing

Well, I watched a portion of episode 2 of North and South tonight. Yum! I forced myself to turn it off in order to save some for tomorrow, but it wasn't easy.

Hurry, Netflix, hurry! But I know it won’t come tomorrow.

Oh, the moments! A few favorites:

The mother tells Richard that Margaret loves him, citing the way she rushed out to him on the balcony and clung to him. I am loving the mother. She is such a rich character! And I love when characters point out stuff to me that I stupidly don’t catch. Like the significance of that. I wouldn’t have drawn that conclusion, but I think mothers have certain psychological powers around their children, so I bought it. And it was so touching, she asks him not to go to Margaret, and that she wishes to be first in his affections, if only for one more day.

Also, I wonder if Margaret only realized she loved Richard at that moment. She tells him to go out there, and then he goes and then, after he’s out of the room she says “…and take care.” And then she rushes after him.

The handshake. Or perhaps I should say the titillatingly slow release from the handshake.

Our hero and heroine look back on the balcony scene. Richard looks back and the image that comes to him is her laying there wounded. Margaret looks back and it’s the brief embrace she recalls most strongly. What a great touch!

Richard removes his cravat. Katie(babs), I believe, said in recent comments here, “Isn't Richard so sexy in his cravat?” Yes indeed he is. The sexiness of Richard in his cravat, however, is but a dim candle compared to the brilliantly blazing sun of him ever so casually removing his cravat in a scene…what scene WAS it? What was happening? I don’t recall. All memory functions were overridden by the staggering view, there within the stiff V of starched shirt, of Master Thornton’s fine and masculine neck.

Margaret. Overall, I love Margaret, and I love the way she looks, and her sort of wonderful plumpness. Oops, that’s not a moment.

This isn’t a moment either, but people really look out windows a lot in this series. I’m sure it’s been mentioned in the many posts on it, which I tended not to read as not to spoil things, but I like it thematically. To me, it sort of heightens the sense of the series being about separation and perspective, in addition, of course, to Richard’s cravat, and one’s feverish hopes that he will remove it again.

Okay, question: I’m not entirely clear on Richard’s position vis a vis the strike. He won’t back down…is it because he can’t? Is there no compromise here? Do the strikers have no merit? I am having a hard time evaluating his position. At the dinner party, Richard seemed to appreciate her seeing different sides of an issue, but then he’s like, it’s horrible to bring them food.

Oh, how I could go on!