Help! Older Fantasy book!

Jul. 23rd, 2017 04:54 am
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[personal profile] yenven posting in [community profile] findthatbook
There was a book I read in high school, maybe 10+ years, and I'm struggling to recall the author and title.
I don't remember the main plot or character names, just a few scenes and descriptions the author used.
It's an older book and it's cover style was similar to other older books I read at the time like Through Wolf's Eyes by Jane Lindskold and The Outstretched Shadow by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory, therefore the book I'm searching for might've been published in the early 2000s like those 2 books.

The book had a hardcover and I think it showed a town by the sea with a ship to the left (but my memory might be off)

The first thing I remember is that I think the story starts with a town by the sea. There is a mention of the first strawberries of the year being brought to the market, that people will be clamoring for them. The author compares the fruit to rubies and then says they are nearly as valuable.

The story changes perspective and kinda jumps around. I remember it being told from a guys perspective and then sometimes by a girl.
I also remember the author describing in passing how one character witnesses a small figure of a woman pinned by two guys while a third rapes her.

I also remember there were these traveler people like gypsies that came during that time of year to perform and entertain. That later hide a mysterious woman who is described as very beautiful with nearly white hair, creamy skin, etc. There was a guy who desired her a lot and wanted her as a wife but the gypsies kept him away from her until near the end of the story where we find out she's the sister of someone (either a god or a king, someone important but I can't remember).
I faintly recollect that the gypsies give the male protagonist something to help him out but can't do anything more to help him. I think he might've been one of them but he was orphaned and I think he has magic too.

Lastly the scene that I can recall vividly is when the girl protagonist is injured, her hands and side of her face are burned. Later this old woman heals her using fire and a knife to "carve" and reshape her fingers since the fire fused them together. While the old woman is doing this another character shows up, sees the knife, freaks and kills the old woman. Her last words to him are something like "don't you know it's bad luck to interrupt a healing." The old woman dies and the girls burns are healed along with her 'new' fingers.

--If anyone can help me find this book I would be so grateful. I'm sorry if it's not a lot to work with!

Tempe March 2008 9/10

Jul. 22nd, 2017 08:42 pm
turlough: Gerard Way in bigass sunglasses, Taste of Chaos tour spring 2005 ((mcr) not afraid to keep on living)
[personal profile] turlough posting in [community profile] mychemicalromance_daily
Second to last batch of pics from their performance at the Tempe Music Festival in Tempe, Arizona, on 28 March 2008.

Teaser:
MCR

This way... )

(no subject)

Jul. 22nd, 2017 04:02 pm
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[personal profile] turps
It was such horrible news to read about Chester Bennington. While I've never been fannish about them, Linkin Park have always been a band I've enjoyed and loved. Hybrid Theory has been one of my most favourite albums for a very long time, and while their later works didn't hit the spot so hard, I still enjoyed them all, and looked forward to every new release. And now Chester's gone. My thoughts are with his family and friends, and all who loved him.

In a complete subject change. I've seen Dunkirk, the new Spiderman and Planet of the Apes films lately. I enjoyed them all in very different ways. I saw Dunkirk in the imax yesterday, and my ears were ringing coming out. It's a film with a heck of an emotional impact, and have to admit to being impressed with Harry and his acting.

Last Sunday I went to the christening of my youngest niece and nephew. James was at work so it was just me and Corey taking on the roles of Godparents. It was a nice enough day, a bit chaotic at the party afterwards, but that was always going to be the case with so many kids going.

Corey's had a bit of a nightmare with his house. The owners have had it up for sale for nearly a year now, but the letting agents have said all along that it was being sold with the understanding it came with tenants living there, and they'd be able to stay until the end of their third year. Sadly it didn't end up like that, and a fortnight ago they were told they had to be out by the end of next month.

Thankfully they've managed to find another house. It's a bit cheaper, but another ten minutes walk away from Corey's main uni building, so he's got a half hour walk unless he buys a cheap metro ticket. And of course there's another set of admin fees and deposits to pay. He should get his damage deposit back from the house they're in now, but I suspect the agents are going to pull a fast one and say damage has happened.

Yesterday I was at a travel agents asking about holidays as we're planning on going abroad next year. The lady we talked to was so good, I told her I'd never been abroad, James had only been to France and neither of us had flown, so we had no idea where to go. So she showed us a few options, gave a few ideas, and now we need to narrow things down a little before going back. I still can't believe we're doing it, like I told her yesterday, it feels like the world is opening up to me, and that's so cool.

I've just posted the story I started for picfor1000 and then abandoned for another idea. As it's a picfor1000 it's Gerard and Mikey centric, a bit of fluff, and has lots of talk about Muppets. It's Time to Play the Music.

ETA: I knew I'd forgotten something. We've bought tickets for Chase Park a music festival that's set up so people with disabilities can attend easily. There's no one well known playing, but it's local, the tickets are cheap, and I think it's going to be a great day.
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Me: Oh, man, I slept really well. The fat cat didn't wake me up once all night. That was-
Me: OH GOD.
(runs for the front door)
Link: HI! I SPENT THE NIGHT ON THE PORCH! I WAS BORED! BUT I FOUND A BAG OF FOOD AND CHEWED IT OPEN AND THEN I SHREDDED A PAPER BAG AND I THREW UP SOME STUFF AND I GOTTA PEE NOW.
Me: Annnnnnd I'm dealing with this after work...
(after work)
Link: CAN I GO ON THE PORCH?
Me: No, no porch tonight.
Link: WHY? I WANNA GO ON THE PORCH. POOOOOOOORCH.
Me: Don't you remember being locked out there all night?
Link: (blank look) Can I go on the porch now?

3 Summaries In Need Of A Good Home!

Jul. 21st, 2017 09:53 pm
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[personal profile] bbb_mod posting in [community profile] bandombigbang
There are still three summaries that need to have complement creators. If you are interested, or if you know of someone who is, please go here to claim a summary. And please help spread the word; we don't want these summaries to be without complements. \o/

#06

Media type: fic
Bands: My Chemical Romance
Relationships: Frank Iero/Ray Toro/Mikey Way/Gerard Way and all possible combinations thereof
Rating: Explicit
Warnings: Foursome m/m/m/m, Something Made Them Do It, Dubious Consent, Mpreg, Alternate Universe: Everyone Lives/No-one Dies, Sibling Incest, angst with a happy ending
Summary: [Danger Days: True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys (based on music videos rather than comics)] An ordinary skirmish in the desert with dracs leads to Frank taking the brunt of a new weapon - and ends with him pregnant, furious, and freaking out. When the shit hits the fan and he gets kidnapped and taken back for interrogation by Korse, and forced to listen to the contents of the Traffic Report, something in him snaps. This fucking dystopia has gone on too long.

#13

Media type: podfic
Bands: My Chemical Romance
Relationships: Frank Iero/Gerard Way (side pairing Alicia Simmons/Mikey Way)
Rating: Explicit
Warnings: brief references to past alcohol abuse
Summary: While on tour, everyone in the band except Frank mysteriously turns into a girl. Gerard uses the opportunity to get into Frank's pants; Alicia does the same with Mikey.

#20

Media type: fic
Bands: My Chemical Romance, Mindless Self Indulgence
Relationships: Frank Iero/Gerard Way, Lindsey Ballato/Frank Iero/Gerard Way
Rating: Teen to Mature
Warnings: violence; character death; suicide (minor character, off-screen).
Summary: Western genre, set in the 1890s American West. Gunfights! Desert pursuit! Horses and pistols! Vendettas! Frank and Gerard made it through their first cattle drive together, but now Frank is gone and Gerard doesn’t know what to do. All he knows is that it has something to do with the preacher man. Turns out, Lindsey is looking for the preacher man too, but she won’t say why. Gerard has reasons enough to hate the man, but Lindsey has more—reasons that stretch back into her family, her childhood, and what brought her out west in the first place. Like the hero of any Western story, she wants revenge. Ray is a New Mexico lawman who has to decide what to do with Lindsey’s quest, and whether to allow her to bring vigilante justice to his ranching town.
[personal profile] sandie posting in [community profile] findthatbook
I read this chapter book series in elementary school (around 2008) about a girl who had the power to influence plants with her emotions (for example, sometimes when she becomes angry she accidentally makes a plant grow a certain way). Each person in that world gets a power when they reach a certain age, as well as an orb. Her orb broke, however, so she has to travel to different realms to recover the pieces of her orb. She has a close male friend at home as well.

Later in the series, she discovers that she has a second power of reading the color of people's auras, which is relatively rare.

I think the title had something with "Azure" in it, though I could be wrong. I remember the cover being a photograph of the girl, with a pastel background.
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Posted by Guest Reviewer

B-

How I Married a Marquess

by Anna Harrington
April 26, 2016 · Forever
RomanceHistorical: European

This RITA® Reader Challenge 2017 review was written by NoeRD. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Long Historical category.

The summary:

A SHOCKING DECEPTION . . .
Josephine Carlisle, adopted daughter of a baron, is officially on the shelf. But the silly, marriage-minded misses in the ton can have their frilly dresses and their seasons in London, for all she cares. Josie has her freedom and her family . . . until an encounter with a dark, devilishly handsome stranger leaves her utterly breathless at a house party. His wicked charm intrigues her, but that’s where it ends. For Josie has a little secret . . .

. . . LEADS TO AN EXQUISITE SEDUCTION
Espionage was Thomas Matteson, Marquess of Chesney’s game-until a tragic accident cost him his career. Now to salvage his reputation and return to the life he loves, the marquess must find the criminal who’s been robbing London’s rich and powerful. He’s no fool-he knows Josie, with her wild chestnut hair and rapier-sharp wit, is hiding something and he won’t rest until he unravels her mysteries, one by one. But he never expected to be the one under arrest-body and soul . . .

Here is NoeRD's review:

If I had to sum up in a few words what I thought of this book, I would say: It’s the first too stupid to live heroine I like. No, no, cross that. Both main characters where pretty stupid or reckless in the course of the book.

The thing is I found them endearing most of the time and the banter between them was very entertaining too. So, let me begin again with this review.

The hero, Thomas Matteson, son of a duke and Marquess of Chesney, by himself is an ex-spy that wants to become a spy again. We are told that he was shot a year ago and this had something to do with him not being a spy now. He has something that I assume is post traumatic stress disorder and some anxiety issues because of this and he is desperate to go back to his old ways and not let this event define the rest of his life. So, because the War Office is not minding his requests, he feels he has to get a recommendation from a very powerful lord who has asked him to catch a highwayman who is robbing his guests in some country state.

Enter Josie Carlisle. She is the adopted daughter of a baron and because a lot of pompous asses won’t marry her for this reason, she is pretty much on the shelf. She is, most of the time, very smart and ballsy. She still takes care of the orphanage where she lived prior being adopted and is very independent by that time standard. She meets Thomas in the very powerful shady Lord’s house and the chemistry between them is off the charts. They can see right through each other and is a lot of fun to see how they try to outsmart the other.

Although I found the book very fun to read, the pace just perfect and the characters endearing (I like that word!), there were some flaws that could kill the book for you if you don’t get in its hype.

Firstly, I mentioned Thomas anxiety issues. As a partner of someone with anxiety issues I understand Thomas’s problems and motivations, but the book falls in the misdirection of pretending love cures them all. Thomas is first attracted to Josie because she “calms” something in him in their first meeting, and he decides to pursue her because he wants to know why. Then, his sleep anxiety disappears the first night they spent together. That’s not how anxiety works for most people and it could be harmful for your relationship to pretend that love is a magic cure. The only part when it’s done right is in a scene when Thomas and Josie are alone and a shot is heard in the distance and Thomas gets in full panic attack mode. Josie intuitively tries to appease him and does it by the way she speaks to him not through her mere presence.

Another thing that bothered me was that for all the admiration that Josie’s badassness causes in Thomas, he doesn’t trust her 100%. Sure, when he asked her not to do something she went and did it, almost getting herself killed. But near the end of the book, he locks her in a cell to stop her from meddling in his plans instead of telling her those plans and asking for her cooperation.

Then there is the issue of Thomas’s spy skills. He is like the worst spy ever. Thank God he chooses love above his country, because there would be no Queen alive otherwise.

Which brings us to the matter of “The secrets.” Josie has a secret that is very obvious from the start and is revealed around the 30% mark of the book. I had no problem with that. There also is a veil of secrecy around the details of Thomas’ shooting and it makes you wait for it and then is… meh. So I didn’t get why the secrecy in the first place.

All in all, beside its flaws I really enjoyed this and will look forward to reading more books from Anna Harrington.


How I Married a Marquess by Anna Harrignton received a B+ in a previous RITA Reader Challenge Review.

Tempe March 2008 8/10

Jul. 21st, 2017 07:22 pm
turlough: Gerard Way, Spin photoshoot, 1 October 2010 ((mcr) my eyes are shining bright)
[personal profile] turlough posting in [community profile] mychemicalromance_daily
More pics from their performance at the Tempe Music Festival in Tempe, Arizona, on 28 March 2008.

Teaser:
MCR

This way... )
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Posted by SB Sarah

In the Bitchery HQ Slack this week, Amanda shared this link to the ever-outstanding Kelly Faircloth on Jezebel:

Men Are Apparently Adopting Ambiguous Pen Names to Sell Psychological Thrillers to Women

From Kelly’s write-up:

“…there is a huge market demand for psychological “Girl Who” thrillers, often featuring dead or missing women, written largely by women for female audiences. And the guys—and their publishers—want in.

Her source, a Wall Street Journal article with a truly cringetastic headline:

These Male Authors Don’t Mind if You Think They’re Women

Well, thank heavens, because you know I was worried about it.

Jessica Jones rolling her eyes mightily and dropping her head to her chest

The WSJ article is behind a paywall, but the salient details are also on The Guardian:

Riley Sager is a debut author whose book, Final Girls, has received the ultimate endorsement. “If you liked Gone Girl, you’ll love this,” Stephen King has said. But unlike Gone Girl, Girl on a Train, The Girls, Luckiest Girl Alive and others, Final Girls is written by a man – Todd Ritter. This detail is missing from Riley Sager’s website which, as the Wall Street Journal has pointed out, refers to the author only by name and without any gender-disclosing pronouns or photographs. (His Twitter avatar is Jamie Lee Curtis.)

Ritter is not the first man to deploy a gender-neutral pen name. JP Delaney (real name Tony Strong) is author of The Girl Before, SK Tremayne (Sean Thomas) wrote The Ice Twins and next year, The Woman in the Window by AJ Finn (AKA Daniel Mallory) is published. Before all of these was SJ (AKA Steve) Watson, the author of 2011’s Before I Go to Sleep.

“Literally, every time I appear in print or public,” Watson says, someone asks about why he uses initials. It was his publisher’s decision to avoid an author photo and to render his biography non-gendered. He has never hidden, but when Before I Go to Sleep went on submission, editors emailed his agent and asked, “What is she like?” Watson found the mistake flattering.

Right, because with profit, they’re “okay” with you mistaking them for women.

I’m so relieved.

Never mind the incredible violence faced by, you know, actual transgender individuals.

Wow, did that entire reading experience leave me with side eye and a frown. There’s already plenty of barriers to entry within publishing if you’re not a white dude, so this was the news equivalent of rubbing a cat backwards from the tail to the shoulders.

This part of the WSJ article particularly rubbed Amanda the wrong way, as it did Kelly Faircloth. She wrote at Jezebel:

One of the authors featured has gone so far as to try on a bra so he didn’t make any obvious mistakes that might throw female readers out of the story. Wonder if he also gets the infuriating emails or the creepy DMs or the generally patronizing bullshit?

…Nevertheless, if only being a woman in, say, serious nonfiction or literary fiction were as straightforward as publishing under the name Steve.

Well, thank God the bra question was addressed.

Given that Elyse and Amanda both love thrillers, especially those that focus on women, they had a few things to say about this discovery.

Amanda: Since I just got Final Girls, I’m kind of bummed about this, Elyse.

Elyse: Dudes ruin everything.

Amanda: It’s weird how my excitement for the book just got sapped out of my body.

RedHeadedGirl: It’s one thing when women are exploring the things that make the world unsafe for us.

It a whole other thing when it’s men and since they are, you know, one of those things, it feels exploitative.

Elyse: THAT.

RedHeadedGirl: DUDES.

WHY ARE DUDES.

Sarah: Because Money.

Elyse: I guess I have two books to donate.

I read a lot of mysteries and thrillers written by men, and I have no issue with that. I think the reason this is squicky for me is that so many of the “Girl” mysteries deal with deep female POV, and that POV is often dealing with themes like toxic masculinity and gaslighting by men.

Sarah: The whole picking another name thing seems a lot like gaslighting.

Elyse: Yes. I have written about why I really love this new trend of female driven psychological thrillers. It’s reclaiming a genre that commodifies violence (often sexual) against women. It’s about female rage and about reclaiming our bodies. For me the genre works because it subverts the traditional narrative in a genre dominated by men.

Sarah: It’s a familiar feeling. An unpleasant one.

Amanda: Going back to RHG’s comment about women exploring things that make them feel unsafe, I’m skeptical of a man being able to accurately write a woman’s experience.

I’m not saying it can’t be done, but (as an example from the WSJ article) how is trying on a bra really going to get to the heart of the experience of living as a woman and having to factor in your own safety to your daily routine?

It all just feels like a gimmick to me and leaves a bad taste in my mouth, given the amount of violence that often occurs against women at the hands of men.

Sarah:  And…cue the sound of us all nodding and grimacing as one.

I’ve been pondering this for the better part of a day, wondering if my reaction is outsized or uneven. For example, JK Rowling adopted the Galbraith pseudonym to write without the expectation and pressure that came with the Rowling surname on the cover. I get it.

These individuals masking their gender to sell thrillers, as RHG pointed out, feels exploitative, not because of the pseudonym, but because of the pseudonym and the subject matter of the genre – not to mention the politics of gender identity – in the exploitation and insecurity inherent in identifying as female.

That said, it is entirely possible that I’m cranky and there are much better uses for my ire and snarly energy.

What about you? Are you a thriller fan? What do you think? What’s your reaction?

The Art of Dancing

Jul. 21st, 2017 04:15 am
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Posted by Anne Gracie

Anne here, pondering (musing? rambling on?) about the art of dancing. Is it a dying art? BrueghelDancers2

In the olden days, pretty much everyone, peasant or noble, danced. They were often different dances, but it was regarded as an essential part of life. The nobles' dances were more stately, the peasants more of a romp, but still, whenever the opportunity arose, everyone danced.

Darcy-and-elizabeth-at-ballThose Regency dances we catch glimpses of in TV shows and movies seem pretty slow and tame, but they're deceptive. My friend Keri, who is very fit — she walks 15 kms (nearly 10 miles) most days, and also attends a gym regularly, recently attended a conference where they did some Regency dancing. She loved it — and said she was exhausted at the end. "Those dances go on forever," she said. "Those Regency girls must have been pretty fit."

Fan Lessons

Of course young ladies were taught to dance —and practiced at home so when they performed in public, they would shine. Practice is the key. I loved this picture showing a lesson in the art of using a fan.

But back to dance. My parents grew up going to dances weekly or more often. They loved to dance, and all it took was a catchy tune and they'd be up and dancing, whether at a party or a club, or in the kitchen dancing to music on the radio. So often, Mum would be at the sink, and Dad would just whirl her into a dance. By the time I knew them, they were so attuned to each others movement that it was like one person moving. 

Old CoupleDancingMost of their contemporaries were the same. When they were young they went to dances every week—even out in the rural sticks—and at weddings and 21st birthdays there was always dancing. And if friends and relatives were gathered for any reason, of an evening someone would produce a fiddle or sit down at the piano and they'd roll back the rug and dance. And they danced right on into old age. (This pic isn't of my parents -- it's from Pinterest, but conveys the joy.)

My grandmother was a fine pianist, and during much of her long widowhood, after her kids were married, she'd be invited out to large rural properties as a guest for weeks at a time. Nothing was said, of course — nothing so vulgar — but her popularity was largely due to her skills on the piano, and most evenings they'd gather around the piano for a singalong or roll back the rug for an impromptu dance. A kind of singing for her supper. Dancing-Lesson-300x227

Some people learned dancing formally, at a dance class, or at school, but most often, they taught each other. I suppose they simply absorbed it, and practice made perfect. It was an important part of their social life. 

And a boy who could dance — well, that was an asset. I remember as an awkward eleven year old, dancing the barn dance at some country cousin's 21st. For those who don't know, a barn dance is a progressive dance — everyone is in a big circle, men on the inside and women on the outside (or maybe the other way around—I forget) and you dance a certain no of steps with one partner, and then, twirling, you move on the next. Must have been a great way to meet people in the old days. 

I remember as an awkward pre-teen, not ever having been taught to dance, and having little opportunity to practice, stumbling along, feeling like a clumsy clot, until I was partnered by a man who Knew His Stuff — suddenly I was twirling, light as a fairy, dancing with the best of them. Yay!! — I could dance!! And then he'd pass me on to the next partner and I'd be back to clod-hopping along.

My friends and I never learned to dance properly. By the time we went out dancing as teens, it was all free-form individual dancing — not "proper" dancing with partners, requiring coordination and an actual sequence of steps. It's ironic that I'm much better at Greek dancing than I am at any other kind. When I was in Greece as a young thing, the ladies in the village we were living in thought I must be a bit mentally deficient, because I couldn't dance. Even little Greek toddlers could dance, but here was this grown woman who hadn't a clue. They took me out the back of the church and taught me there in privacy, so I wouldn't shame myself any longer. SchoolkidsDancing (1)

I'm also pretty good at "bush dancing" — a mix of country dances, mostly Scottish and Irish in origin — "Strip the Willow" the "Virginia Reel", and dances like that — all due to the folk craze of my youth, and a later incarnation where I taught bush dancing for a colonial era performance, and ended up teaching half the school — several hundred kids— at lunch time on the oval, using a cassette recorder and a megaphone. Yes, it was mad. But those dances are very similar to some of the Regency-era dances. (These aren't my school-kids - mine were older.)

Morningrave7But ask me to foxtrot, or two-step or even waltz or any other partner dance with steps, and I revert to clod-hopperdom. The same goes for most of my generation. The Movie "Strictly Ballroom" which helped foster shows like "Strictly Come Dancing" and "Dancing with the Stars" caused a brief resurgence of dance popularity, but I think mostly it was dance classes who benefitted there. Most people of my generation, and younger, don't know how to dance as a couple. And a lot of the younger generation's dancing is really more a tribal group beat than anything else. Or individual showcase dancing, like breakdancing.

Is it a pity? I don't know.  I do think something has been lost. 

What about you — can you dance or not really? Do you go out dancing? What dances do you know? Have you ever danced Regency-style? 

 

Movie Review: Their Finest

Jul. 21st, 2017 08:00 am
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Posted by Carrie S

Their Finest is a British movie that had limited release in the USA. If, like me, you missed it in theaters, you can see it now on iTunes. This movie is slow and matter-of-fact but it snuck up on me and had me bawling my eyes out by the end. It’s billed as a romantic comedy, but due to a plot development near the end and a significant amount of tragedy it’s better described as a drama. I’m going to try to avoid spoilers, but here’s one I know none of you will mind:

There are two dogs in the movie, and they both end up fine. One of them ends up adopted by a strict but fond Helen McCory. We should all be so lucky.

Their Finest is a movie about a woman who makes a movie. Catrin, played by Gemma Arterton, gets a job helping to write a propaganda film (The Nancy Starling) in London during the Blitz. She’s supposed to provide the women’s touch on a film that, by order of the government, is to broadcast a sense of “authenticity and optimism.” Her co-worker, Buckley, is cynical and sexist but also very good at making a coherent story out of almost anything.

Buckley is played by Sam Claflin. Sam is one of the prettiest men ever to live, and as an actor he has perfected the art of wordlessly broadcasting intense and unrequited longing. It’s a relief that he spends the movie under an unfortunate, though period appropriate, mustache, as otherwise I would have spent the entire movie staring at him in a trance. He’s sardonic and bitter and funny and horrible and has fantastic chemistry with Gemma Atherton.

Catrin and Buckley typing side by side
Smart is Sexy!

Gemma plays Catrin, our heroine, and she is simply perfect. Whether she’s standing perfectly still or walking and talking very quickly across a set, she simultaneously broadcasts vulnerability and steeliness. In keeping with all opposites-attract type romances, Catrin and Buckley constantly look like they can’t decide whether to strangle one another or just start ripping off each other’s clothes in the middle of the office.

Back to the plot: Catrin meets middle-aged twin sisters, Rose and Lily, who took part in the evacuation of British forces from Dunkirk. They stole their drunken father’s boat, but never made it to Dunkirk because the engine gave out. They got a tow home from a bigger ship and took some of the soldiers from that (overcrowded) ship. One had a dog in his kit bag, and another, who was French, tried to kiss Lily.

Catrin brings this story, minus a few details, to the movie people, who are thrilled. “It has authenticity, optimism, AND A DOG!” one of them crows. Soon she and Buckley are writing non-stop as the Rose and Lily of The Nancy Starling become pretty young women, their abusive drunk father becomes a funny drunk uncle, a fictional love triangle forms around the fictional Rose, and the dog has a stirring action scene.

There’s just so much to unpack in this movie, which is quiet and slow (at about two hours, it felt like more) and restrained in the most British way but which tackles sexism, the war, grief, friendship between women, the creative process, the art and business of making movies, and some very nice hats. Helen McCrory does what she always does, namely takes a small role and simply walks away with the movie entirely. Bill Nighy promises Catrin that “Between you and I, we’ll have them weeping in the aisles” and then delivers on that promise. The whole cast has a chemistry which manages to progress from mass antagonism to a sense of comfortable familiarity. The actors who play actors combine certain narcissism with real warmth. When Bill Nighy sings a song with the line, “Will ye go lassie, go/and we’ll all go together,” to the cast, they feel like a real family, truly at ease with one another, and truly comforted during dangerous times by each other’s company.

Throughout is presence of war. Although this film is very funny in a deadpan way, I was surprised to see how many people have described it as a romantic comedy. It doesn’t have a romantic comedy ending, and anything funny transpires against a terrifying background. At one point Catrin has to literally step over corpses to get to her flat. “I’ll be alright after a cup of tea,” she tells her husband, only to be informed that the water main is out, a development that even the stoic Catrin cannot tolerate with equanimity. The making of The Nancy Starling is serious business that might affect the course of the war, and the war takes such a toll that at one point they fear that they’ve run out of enough people to finish it.

Towards the end of the movie, something happens that could make the viewer feel cheated. I felt shocked and sad, but not cheated, and here’s why:

  • The movie takes the time to follow through the ramifications of the event.
  • An arc has, for all intents and purposes, been resolved.
  • The movie has been hinting all along that all kinds of unforeseen events can and do happen, whether they be the result of bombs, guns, or, in one character’s case, being hit by a tram while on leave. Death is sudden and arbitrary. This is a theme all throughout the movie so when it causes a sudden tonal and plot twist, it feel both shocking and inevitable.

This movie was marketed as a romantic comedy, and up to a point it has the structure of one – very attractive people, the unappreciative husband, the witty banter, the chemistry, opposites attracting, etc. However, one of the running themes of the movie is that the movie within the movie keeps having different agendas and themes tacked on to it. The Nancy Starling is an action movie and a war movie, it’s a love story, it has comedy and tragedy, it’s meant to inspire America to join the war, and it’s meant to motivate the British to keep fighting. That’s not even a complete list of all the jobs that the poor Nancy Starling is expected to do. Through the writing of this film, Catrin is insistent that the film is, at its core, the story of Lily and Rose.

The Rose and Lily of the movie within the movie, piloting the boat
The fictional version of Rose and Lily

Similarly, Their Finest is marketed as a romantic comedy, but at its core it’s not the story of one couple or another. It’s consistently Catrin’s story. This means that while many characters undergo significant arcs, Catrin’s arc is the only one that matters and…

THIS IS A MAJOR SPOILER BEWARE
it requires her being alone for a while. Buckley dies so that from a character arc perspective we can see Catrin face being alone and independent instead of bouncing from one relationship to a volatile man to another. Basically he’s fridged for feminism.

The movie is also an ode to the women who kept Britain running during the war. They are paid less than men, they are resented and feared by men, and yet they are expected to manage the impossible. When Catrin finally goes to a screening of The Nancy Starling, she sits by an older woman who weeps copiously through the movie and explains that she’s seen it five times. “It’s our picture isn’t it?” she says, patting Catrin on the hand, “They’re our girls.”

I cried like a baby.

Their Finest is available for streaming/purchase at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google:Play, & iTunes.

[syndicated profile] smartbitches_feed

Posted by SB Sarah

I almost titled this episode, “Same Library, Different Tastes.” While having dinner the other night, I was talking to Adam, my excellent spouse, about a series he was reading, and I realized we hardly ever talk about what he’s reading. I’ll go on for hours about what I’m reading (and I have!) but unless I’m asking him if he’d enjoy a book I just found, he doesn’t talk much about what he reads, and he reads a lot. So he made cocktails and I handed him a microphone, and we talked about it.

We don’t like any of the same things, but we both love reading. So I asked questions about his favorite series, books he’s enjoyed that I’ve successfully recommended (YES!), and what makes a narrative world appealing.  Adam likes to read fantasy, and he loves never-ending world building and deep nerdy dives into back story, so he’s a very avid and engaged reader. But he keeps most of it in his head. So I ask him nosy questions about that. We also discuss series and trilogies he loves, including Game of Thrones, Libriomancer, The Inheritance Trilogy, and a lot more – expect a big list of books.

Listen to the podcast →
Read the transcript →

Here are the books we discuss in this podcast:

We also mentioned Elyse’s Bachelor and Bachelorette recaps.

And if you’d like to try it, here’s a recipe for Bee’s Knees, my new favorite cocktail.

And! The RWA Signing! July 29, 2017, from 3:00 – 5:00pm! 

Hundreds of romance authors in one place, and all proceeds of book sales go to literacy organizations. Some of your favorite authors are likely to be there, like Alyssa Cole, Tessa Dare, Courtney Milan, Julie James, Cecilia Tan, Beverly Jenkins, and Jill Shalvis. And, for the first time, I’ll be signing, too – yay!

The signing is at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort in Pacific Hall. Saturday, July 29th from 3-5pm. And if you come and find me (I’m in the Ws near the cashiers) and mention the podcast, I have a special sticker for you – if you’d like one.

Get all the details at:  https://www.rwa.org/literacy.

 

If you like the podcast, you can subscribe to our feed, or find us at iTunes. You can also find us at PodcastPickle and on Stitcher, too. We also have a cool page for the podcast on iTunes.

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What did you think of today's episode? Got ideas? Suggestions? You can talk to us on the blog entries for the podcast or talk to us on Facebook if that's where you hang out online. You can email us at sbjpodcast@gmail.com or you can call and leave us a message at our Google voice number: 201-371-3272. Please don't forget to give us a name and where you're calling from so we can work your message into an upcoming podcast.

Thanks for listening!

This Episode's Music

Our music is provided each week by Sassy Outwater, whom you can find on Twitter @SassyOutwater.

This is from Caravan Palace, and the track is called “La Caravane.”

You can find their two album set with Caravan Palace and Panic on Amazon and iTunes. And you can learn more about Caravan Palace on Facebook, and on their website.


Podcast Sponsor

This episode is brought to you by Too Scot to Handle by Grace Burrowes. This New York Times bestselling series with its “heartfelt emotions, humor and realistic, honest characters [is] a fan favorite,” raves RT Book Reviews.

In this second book of the Windham Brides series, Burrowes delights Regency romance readers once again with an irresistible rough-around-the-edges Scot who takes on saving an orphanage to win over the fiery, intelligent woman who captures his heart.

As a captain in the army, Colin MacHugh led men, fixed what was broken, and fought hard. Now that he’s a titled gentleman, he’s still fighting-this time to keep his bachelorhood safe from all the marriage-minded debutantes. Then he meets the intriguing Miss Anwen Windham, whose demure nature masks a bonfire waiting to roar to life. When she asks for his help to raise money for the local orphanage, he’s happy to oblige.

Anwen is amazed at how quickly Lord Colin takes in hand a pack of rambunctious orphan boys. Amazed at how he actually listens to her ideas. Amazed at the thrill she gets from the rumble of his Scottish burr and the heat of his touch. But not everyone enjoys the success of an upstart. And Colin has enemies who will stop at nothing to ruin him and anybody he holds dear.

As Tessa Dare puts it, “Grace Burrowes is a romance treasure.” Don’t miss Too Scot to Handle, on sale wherever books are sold this Tuesday, July 25th.

Transcript Sponsor

When It’s Real

Our podcast transcript is being brought to you by When It’s Real by #1 New York Times bestselling author Erin Watt.

A pop star. A regular girl. The world’s watching…

Wealth, fame and a real-life romance she never expected—seventeen-year-old Vaughn Bennett lands it all when she agrees to become a pop star’s fake girlfriend in this smart, utterly addictive novel.

School Library Journal calls it “a fast-paced, ‘he said, she said’ page-turner.” Kirkus Reviews writes: When It’s Real is “undeniable fun” and “a quintessential beach read.” You’ll fall head-over-heels in love with this electrifying and addictive new romance.

Under ordinary circumstances, Oakley Ford and Vaughn Bennett would never even cross paths.

There’s nothing ordinary about Oakley. This bad-boy pop star’s got Grammy awards, millions of fangirls and a reputation as a restless, too-charming troublemaker. But with his home life disintegrating, his music well suddenly running dry and the tabloids having a field day over his outrageous exploits, Oakley needs to show the world he’s settling down—and who better to help him than Vaughn, a part-time waitress trying to help her family get by? The very definition of ordinary.

Posing as his girlfriend, Vaughn will overhaul Oakley’s image from troublemaker to serious artist. In return for enough money to put her brothers through college, she can endure outlandish Hollywood parties and carefully orchestrated Twitter exchanges. She’ll fool the paparazzi and the groupies. She might even start fooling herself a little.

Because when ordinary rules no longer apply, there’s no telling what your heart will do…

You can find When It’s Real wherever books are sold.

Remember to subscribe to our podcast feed, find us on iTunes, via PodcastPickle, or on Stitcher.

(no subject)

Jul. 20th, 2017 05:36 pm
skygiants: Fakir from Princess Tutu leaping through a window; text 'doors are for the weak' (drama!!!)
[personal profile] skygiants
Death of a Pirate: British Radio and the Making of the Information Age is a fairly fascinating book that's trying to do a lot of things at once: the book starts out with the dramatic recounting of MURDER!!! and then immediately takes, if not a deep dive, at least a vigorous swim through such varied topics as the history of British radio and the BBC, Keynesian economic philosophy, copyright limitations, and the founding of Sealand in order to contextualize it.

Once we get back to the story of the murder itself, however, it turns out: IT'S BONKERS. The principals in the case are two pirate radio impresarios in 1966. Oliver Smedley, An Ardent Free-Trade Capitalist, was running a station called Radio Atlanta on a boat off the coast; Reggie Calvert, A Dance Hall Impresario, had taken over an entire abandoned British navy fort called Shivering Sands in the Thames Estuary and staffed it with a rotating encampment of youths running a station called Radio City. At one point Smedley and Calvert were going to have a merger, but then they had an ACRIMONIOUS BREAKUP spurred on in part by:

- the fact that Smedley was supposed to give Calvert a shiny new transmitter and instead provided an old one that never worked
- the fact that Smedley never paid all the bills he had promised Calvert that Radio Atlanta would pay
- the fact that Calvert got sick of all this and decided to merge with another station instead

The reason for all these pirate radio stations on boats and naval forts, by the way, is because in 1966 there was no legal pop radio in the UK (as explained, extensively, via the history of radio and Keynesian economic theory etc. that makes up the first half of the book). Because the pirates were technically outside of UK territory, on the other hand, they could technically get away with doing whatever they wanted, or at least the government like "it will be way too embarrassing to launch a huge naval raid against a bunch of youths on was a fort with a radio transmitter, so let's not."

HOWEVER, the fact that everything was happening outside of territorial waters where British laws and police had no jurisdiction BACKFIRED when:

- Ardent Free-Trade Capitalist Smedley decided he was so mad that Calvert had made a deal without him that he was going to MAKE SURE that the deal could never go through
- he was going to GET BACK HIS PROPERTY [the transmitter that had never worked]
- so he sent an ACTUAL OCCUPYING FORCE composed of out-of-work dockworkers to Shivering Sands, stole a bunch of key broadcasting equipment, took a bunch of it back to the mainland, and left a bunch of toughs to hold everybody who was on the station at that time hostage!!!
- (when they met the invading force, the hostage broadcasters were like 'welp' and made everybody tea)
- ("the vessel had to return briefly to pick up [the contractor who recruited the gang], who had been left behind drinking his tea")
- and then Smedley went to Calvert and his partner, an actual professional broadcaster, and was like 'I will not let you broadcast from there again or finish making your deal unless you pay me FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS'

Naturally, everyone involved was like 'wtf????' and refused to pay Smedley a dime; Calvert threatened to involve the police but the police were like 'ummmmmm technically we can't do anything for the same reasons we haven't been able to stop you from broadcasting;' Calvert then made a whole bunch of other even wilder threats; and all the hired dockworkers sat around cheerfully charging Smedley for hostaging operations which he was rapidly running out of money for.

Anyway, in the middle of all this, Calvert drove out to Smedley's house in the middle of the night and started screaming at him, and Smedley shot him and then claimed self-defense and that his HOSTILE OCCUPATION OF A POP RADIO STATION was just a little joke gone wrong! No harm no foul if only Calvert hadn't been so UPSET about it! It did help Smedley's self-defense case that Calvert happened to be carrying A FAKE PEN FULL OF NERVE GAS at the time, which apparently, according to his family, he always carried around just for safekeeping.

...so the author's point in writing about all this seems to be that a.) this incident was crucial in getting the pirate radio boats shut down and the formation of the current BBC radio system that includes actual pop radio, b.) that this is all a forerunner of later copyright battles and offshore data centers and so on, c.) pirate-radio-on-boats in the 1960s was a WILD TIME. About the latter, at least, he is most surely not mistaken.

(This has nothing to do with the main brunt of the book but I have to spare a mention for Radio City's chief engineer, who later was hired by the mob! to perform an assassination attempt!! using a spring-loaded hypodermic needle full of cyanide!!! in what it turns out was ACTUALLY a sting operation by the U.S. Treasury department who picked the hapless Radio City engineer to act as the assassin because "he needed the fee while being clearly incapable of killing anybody"!!!! This whole incident gets two pages in the book because it's somewhat irrelevant to the author's argument but seriously, where is this guy's movie?

For the record, the same mobsters then tried to intimidate Reggie Calvert's widow into selling them the remnants of the station and she was like 'lol no' and they were like '....well, when a lady knows her own mind, she knows her own mind! No hard feelings.')

Dukes Prefer Blondes by Loretta Chase

Jul. 20th, 2017 06:00 pm
[syndicated profile] smartbitches_feed

Posted by Guest Reviewer

A

Dukes Prefer Blondes

by Loretta Chase
December 29, 2015 · Avon
RomanceHistorical: European

This RITA® Reader Challenge 2017 review was written by Middleclassmanhattan. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Long Historical category.

The summary:

Biweekly marriage proposals from men who can’t see beyond her (admittedly breathtaking) looks are starting to get on Lady Clara Fairfax’s nerves. Desperate to be something more than ornamental, she escapes to her favorite charity. When a child is in trouble, she turns to tall, dark, and annoying barrister Oliver Radford.

Though he’s unexpectedly found himself in line to inherit a dukedom, Radford’s never been part of fashionable society, and the blonde beauty, though not entirely bereft of brains, isn’t part of his plans. But Clara overwhelms even his infallible logic, and when wedlock looms, all he can do is try not to lose his head over her . . .

It’s an inconvenient marriage by ordinary standards, but these two are far from ordinary. Can the ton’s most adored heiress and London’s most difficult bachelor fall victim to their own unruly desires?

Here is Middleclassmanhattan's review:

The hardest part of writing this review was trying to remember the actual name of the book. Dukes Prefer Blondes hints at nothing in this story, save for the fact our heroine is blonde. The title itself is unremarkable.

However, Ms. Chase delivers a book that is anything but! Filled with vibrant characters, witty dialogue, Dukes Prefer Blondes was a delight to read and a truly memorable love story. This was my first Loretta Chase book, and I understand why she has a great fan base, and why beloved author Julia Quinn is quoted on the cover.

To start with, the hero and heroine are equal parts intriguing, sexy, and quirky. You have your rich heroine, Lady Clara Fairfax, who wants to make a difference in society, and if she marries at all, Clara wants to marry someone who appreciates her intellect. And you have your genius Sherlock Holmes-like hero, Oliver Radford (known as Raven), who doesn’t have outrageous wealth (yet) but is building a standout career, and he doesn’t want anything to get in his way, most especially an illogical, emotional relationship. Our hero and heroine end up, after several adventures, with a heart-warming HEA. Perhaps that sounds as memorable as the title? Oh, but you would be wrong! Ms. Chase knows the magic formula for creating a HEA unique and memorable.

This review could be ten pages long explaining everything that appealed to me about Ms. Chase’s writing style and this particular book, but I’ve decided to limit my gushing and highlight three elements in particular, which for me, make it stand apart from other historical romances.

The first and most gratifying is the chemistry between the hero and heroine, which comes across through their amusing dialogue. Each Lady Clara and Raven scene is filled with quick-paced, charming banter. It reminds me of my favorite couple from the old TV detective series Remington Steele. The dialogue says that they find each other aggravating, but the subtext is altogether different. Here’s a typical example of the couple’s back-and-forth:

After a moment’s hesitation, he took the maid’s chair. “You must try to take nourishment,” he told his patient. “You must do exactly as I say, and get well, because I’ve promised you would and if you don’t, I shall be disgraced, and then—”

“I know. Your career will be ruined. You’re so charming.”

“Everybody says that,” he said.

“No, they don’t. Never. No one has ever said that about you in all your life, I’ll wager anything.”

“Perhaps they did not exactly say charming,” he said. “Perhaps… Yes, now I recollect, the phrase was ‘tolerable in very small doses’.”

“And yet I missed you,” she said. “Fancy that.”

She made it so difficult to stay detached. At this moment, it was impossible. He couldn’t stop his other self from getting a word in. “I missed you, too,” he said gruffly.

“Of course you did,” she said. “Because I’m so lovable.”

“You’re not lovable,” he said. “You are excessively annoying. And managing. But I’m accustomed to hardened criminals and half-witted judges, and being with you reminds me of home at the Old Bailey.”

Such a smile, then, more like her usual one.

How can you not look forward to reading more about this couple? Especially since Raven’s dialogue often had me thinking of Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes.

In addition to the couple’s chemistry, I thoroughly enjoyed the well-thought-out subplots, which contribute to the rich character development. Ms. Chase certainly uses the subplots to push her characters together, but she also takes it a step further. She uses them to flesh out each main character so completely that you cheer for Clara as an individual, and you cheer for Raven as an individual, and then you cheer even more for them to become a couple.

For example, the subplot involving the bad guy and his attempts to kill Raven could be a stand-alone book as they add so much suspense, but while you’re wondering what’s going to happen next, you are also learning all about Raven’s law career. And like the master magician she clearly is, each of Ms. Chase’s subplots give the reader insight into Lady Clara and Raven’s characters while keeping the reader highly entertained (the mock courtroom scene involving Radford and Lady Clara’s parents is certainly a delightful highlight). There is no chapter, no moment in the story that isn’t making the reader fall in love with the main characters. Ms. Chase even makes the secondary characters and the scenes without Raven and Clara intriguing and fast-paced enough that I didn’t skip ahead to when the two main characters were back in the same scene. (And, yes, my iPhone-addled, lack-of-focus brain lacks patience for parts of a story that bore me after a page.)

The subplots are filled with period detail, which is the third standout element in this story that I wanted to mention. Ms. Chase injects the story with enough factual history to leave you with more than just a taste of the time period without pulling you out of your happy escapist-romance-novel-reading time. In addition to the imagery and attention to period detail evident throughout the book, each chapter begins with a quote or a short excerpt of a piece published from the period.

DUKE, in Latin Dux, à ducendo, signifying the leader of an army, noblemen being anciently either generals and commanders of armies in time of war, or wardens of marches, and governors of provinces in peace. This is now the first rank of the nobility. —Debrett’s Peerage, 1831

Ms. Chase draws you into the time period a little deeper with these excerpts, as if she were saying to you directly, “You know this is the type of thing Raven and Lady Clara would be familiar with, dealing with, etc.” I appreciated the added whisper of historical flavor. I even found myself Googling some of the books quoted.

The dialogue, the subplots, and the attention to period detail combined to make this a memorable story for me. But of course, no romance novel review would be complete without a comment on the sex scenes. I was half-way through the book before I realized there had been no sex yet, and even then it barely registered as the story is so engaging. Ms. Chase spends time creating sexual tension, so when you get to the sex scenes you won’t be disappointed.

I would give Dukes Prefer Blondes a solid A, and I look forward to reading the other books in the Dressmaker series.

And finally, my dear romancelandia readers, forgive me if this review reads like a fourth grader’s book report. After finishing such a rewarding, heart-warming, thoughtful, well-crafted story, all I really wanted to do was jump up and down, wave my arms, and shout, “Read it!” With that said, I’ll end with the most important part of the review: “Read it! Read it! Just read it!”


Dukes Prefer Blondes by Loretta Chase received a B in a previous review by Carrie.

Tempe March 2008 7/10

Jul. 20th, 2017 06:17 pm
turlough: My Chemical Romance snuggling, NME photoshoot, October 2010 ((mcr) my downward spiral continues)
[personal profile] turlough posting in [community profile] mychemicalromance_daily
Even more pics from their performance at the Tempe Music Festival in Tempe, Arizona, on 28 March 2008.

Teaser:
MCR

This way... )

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