(no subject)

Sep. 22nd, 2017 03:53 pm
turps: (Mikey&Cat)
[personal profile] turps
I had an excellent time at Camp Sparkle. I got to stay for four days, which was all kinds of great as I got to hang with some very excellent people who I really don't see often enough. It was the 10th Camp Sparkle, which is amazing. All those years of sparkly meet-ups, and [personal profile] nopseud and [personal profile] pensnest deserve multiple gold stars for making them happen, because man, I can't even begin to imagine how difficult they must be to organise.

While at Camp I went on a steam train to Whitby, where it bucketed it down, but thankfully the rain eased off after dinner, so I got to wander Whitby with James and [personal profile] sperrywink, ending up having a drink in a relatively warm and sun lit courtyard.

Went to check out Castle Howard, which had beautiful gardens and a really interesting castle.

Had a quick trip to Filey, before the moderately tidy BBQ on the night, where the food was plentiful and tasty and everyone looked smart as carrots.

Then sadly had to go home before the others, but stopped off at Scarborough on the way back.

The week before I went nanna was admitted to hospital again as she couldn't move her leg. The news was pretty bleak at one point. We were calling Pauline on the night and at one point I was starting to think we'd have to leave early to see her one last time. Then, between one day and the next she perked right up. Since I've been home she's found out she's actually got two breaks in her back, old ones that probably happened when she fell four years ago. I'm not sure what's going to happen, but am hoping she'll be transferred to the rehab centre which is set up for periods between hospital and home. Especially so as the centre is in the same building as my gym.

It was a year for my weight loss op two days ago. This time last year I was just coming home with no idea how my life was going to change so amazingly. I won't give figures as I have my one year post op appointment next month and will take numbers lost from then, but know, I could walk for a long time and at ease while I was at Camp. I even sat in the middle of a three person row in the mini bus and didn't squash the people on both sides. Silly things like that remain amazing to me. But yeah, I did post a face-to-face pic on Insta if you'd like to see, which is here.

Movie Review: Home Again

Sep. 22nd, 2017 08:00 am
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Posted by Redheadedgirl

I feel like the romantic comedy genre isn’t dead; it’s just in a vegetative state. We get a handful of rom coms a year, and they’re usually in the range of “boring” to “well, that happened.” This is slightly to the more interesting side of “well, that happened” seasoned with a few dashes of casual racism.

Alice (Reese Witherspoon) is the daughter of a well-known, award-winning filmmaker who moves back to her father’s home with her two kids after separating from her husband, Austen (Michael Sheen). Her dad has been dead for some unspecified amount of time, and Alice is coping with her new life, and her two daughters are also trying to cope with a new school and LA life after growing up in New York. Through a series of alcohol-fueled birthday shenanigans, she meets a trio of dudes who have come to LA to break into the movie business (they had a short that was well-received at South By Southwest, so they’re not like, randomly, showing up, getting off the bus with a suitcase and a dream), so they end up staying in her guest house for a while. Alice starts a relationship with one of them, Harry, setting up a really interesting older woman/younger dude dynamic. Her husband shows up, and everyone needs to figure out what they’re doing with their lives.

I liked the relationship between Alice and Harry as a very firm “yes, you’re an older woman, and I find you incredibly attractive and sexy” with no apologies or psychological discussions. These are two people who have pants feelings for one another. That’s it. Also Pico Alexander is super adorable, and Reese is also adorable, and they have chemistry to spare. But the movie kind of skates past “why are these two interested in each other beyond the pants feelings?” You see them talking in a montage, but what are they talking about? It’s all very superficial.

I don’t know if I like Michael Sheen. I really don’t. I do know that I’ve never seen him in a comedy before, and I think I’d like to see him do more. (I mean, really, I want more comedy in general, but I think he’s at least interesting in a comedy, and he can play the straight man very well.)

I have seen some other people saying that they really liked this movie because it showed three younger dudes learning how to do emotional labor and help out this single mom. They end up helping with the kids (one plot line involves Alice’s older daughter and her anxiety, and how one of the guys helps her with that), and helping with the house. It’s very sweet, if kind of unrealistic.

The main problem I had is that I have certain expectations of romantic comedy, specifically that there’s an HEA with the two leads together. And this doesn’t. I mean, everyone is happy, at the end, and things seem to be working out for everyone, but Alice and Harry aren’t together. And I miss the movies where you have Julia Roberts giving a heartfelt, “I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy…” speech. Those don’t get made anymore, and I’m sad.

I did like Alice processing her life and musing about decisions she made when she was 25 that were supposed to last the rest of her life, and I love the message that yes, an older woman deserves love and sex and intimacy. I thought this was charming, to be honest. I just thought the portrayal was kind of hollow.

This was written and directed by Hallie Meyers-Shyer, who is the daughter of Nancy Meyers, the writer and director of movies like The Parent Trap, The Holiday, and It’s Complicated. Meyers-Shyer had small parts in her mother’s movies, and there’s a definite throughline in Home Again about growing up in the shadow of famous parents (Alice’s mother, played by Candice Bergen, was an actress). Moreover, in a move that I think is fairly typical for people who grew up in the movie business, this is a movie about movie people and the minutiae and frustrations of getting a movie made.

Is that something people who don’t spend a bunch of time reading and caring about the movie business are interested in seeing?

There were also a couple of moments of casual racism that just didn’t need to be there, which was so frustrating. There was literally no reason for the ostensible hero to say “You know what Indians are like,” without anyone calling him out on it.

I honestly don’t see this as a movie that you need to pay full price for. I mean, it’s a movie written and directed and produced by women, and it’s mostly about a woman entering the third act of her life, but it’s just not a $13 movie.

Home Again is in theaters now and tickets (US) are available at Fandango and Moviefone.

The Dior Exhibition

Sep. 22nd, 2017 12:20 am
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Posted by Anne Gracie

Anne here. I spent yesterday morning dazed and wandering vaguely (quite of my own accord) among crowds of other women, also dazed and emitting gasps and oohs and ahhs. And taking photos, lots of photos. Because we weren't allowed to touch.  DiorNewLook

I did notice several very elegant men in the crowd, making notes and taking photos, but most of the men I saw were lurking glumly in corners; here a father with an empty pram, there a husband visibly practising patience, on a bench a weary-looking fellow minding a handbag and a coat.

So where was I? At a fashion show — an exhibition celebrating 70 years of Dior fashion, in Melbourne, my home town, at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV). (Click on the photos for a closer view.)

Melbourne (Australia) is one of only three cities in the world that were chosen to help celebrate Dior's 70th anniversary. The other two cities are Paris and New York.

IMG_2186"Why Melbourne?" you may ask. Or even "Why Australia?" Well, unbeknown to most people (me included) the House of Dior has a long history of association with Australia.

Back in July, 1947, The Australian Women’s Weekly, the major women's magazine at the time, in association with the major department stores, ran a "Paris Fashions for All Parade" — 120 hand-picked fully accessorized French couturier outfits and four French models touring department stores around the country. It contained four Christian Dior original outfits from his debut collection in Paris in February that year. 1946womansday

Dior's "New Look" collection had a huge effect on fashion across the western world, revitalizing women's fashion after WW2, putting drab fabrics, rationing, padded shoulders and boxy, military-look outfits firmly in the past.

The "Paris Fashions" tour was such a huge success that the following year, in 1948 the first ever complete Dior collection to be shown outside of Paris — 50 original outfits, fully accessorized — toured Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide (state capital cities).

Speaking to The Sydney Morning Herald at the time, Dior declared that “living in the sunshine of a comparatively new country unscathed by war, Australians have a cleaner, brighter outlook and are more receptive to new ideas than the tired people of European countries”. (Quote from this site.)

ModelsArrive1948

As well as the collection, Dior sent a large number of his staff, including seven of his mannequins (as models were called then) to model the clothes. Here they are, arriving in Australia, looking amazingly gorgeous after a gruelling 60 hour flight.

The collection caused such a sensation that The Weekly staged three more French fashion extravaganzas, in 1947, ’48 and ’49. In October 1957 Dior died suddenly, aged 52, of a heart attack, but the following month 83 of his creations were dispatched from Paris, and the Australian parades went on. Screen Shot 2017-09-22 at 8.55.05 AM

The vision and determination of two women helped foster that connection — Mary Hordern, the glamorous and well connected fashion editor of the Australian Women's Weekly, and Mary Alice Shiell, the fashion buyer for David Jones (a major department store). You can read more about them here and here.

Dior named some of his designs after Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide (state capital cities) and a number were called "Australie" and, according to an article I read on a plane recently (but didn't bring home), every one of Dior's collections since then have had at least one outfit named after some aspect of Australia or one of its cities. That really surprised me.

And thus the Dior Australian connection is explained. 

IMG_2189 (1)I'm no fashionista, and dress for comfort rather than style, but I have to say, the display of fabulous clothes (not to mention shoes, and hats and other accessories) blew me away. The designers of the exhibition made clever use of mirrors, as you can see in this photo.

From one of the signs in the exhibition: "With every collection, Christian Dior introduced a new line, silhouette and series of themes, establishing a series of design codes that are now synonymous with the house. Revisited and recalibrated since his death, these codes were critical to Dior's creative vocabulary and have endured as part of the language of the house as expressed by subsequent creative directors. Four codes key to Dior are examined in this room; The New Look, the line, the flower and the eighteenth century." 

Guess which these are? IMG_2212 (1)

The exhibition also featured the work of the major designers who came after Dior, working in the House of Dior, right up to the current one, Maria Grazia Chiuri, the first woman to become the head designer for Christian Dior.

There was a giant video running on the back wall, showing a recent fashion parade of Chiuri's clothes as a backdrop to one of the displays. The friend I went with thought these designs were stunning — clothes designed to move with women's bodies. You can get an idea of the video from the photo below.

IMG_2163Such was my state of daze that I took many photos but forgot to note the designers' names, so I hope you can forgive me, and just enjoy the gorgeousness.

  Keep scrolling down . . .

This is a small selection of some of the photos I took.

Yes, I took heaps. 



IMG_2230 (1)



IMG_2197 (1)

IMG_2203 (1)

IMG_2241 (1)

IMG_2120

So, what about you -- have you ever been to a fashion show? Are you even interested in fashion? (If you'd asked me, I'd have said no, but then . . . I was blown away by these.) Do you have a favorite among these dresses?

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Posted by SB Sarah

Sarah chats with New York Times bestselling author Alessandra Torre and filmmaker and Passionflix co-founder Tosca Musk about the filming of Hollywood Dirt, and the process of turning novels into films. We also discuss the launch of PassionFlix, their goals for service, the production schedule, and some behind the scenes fun moments and challenges that made filming memorable. And we have TWO dogs on the podcast! Very exciting.

PassionFlix launched on 1 September, and Hollywood Dirt premiered 20 September on PassionFlix. They’ve optioned several other projects, including books from Brenda Jackson, and there are two more original films premiering this fall:  Afterburn/Aftershock by Sylvia Day premieres in November, and The Trouble with Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis in December.

Listen to the podcast →
Read the transcript →

Here are the books we discuss in this podcast:

You can find out more about Passionflix on their website, and you can sign up there, too: PassionFlix.com. And for more behind-the-scenes info, find them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

You can find Alessandra Torre at AlessandraTorre.com, and on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. And you can find Alessandra’s latest writing on Radish.

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

Thanks to our sponsors:

More ways to sponsor:

Sponsor us through Patreon! (What is Patreon?)

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

Shadow Orchestra Sweet as a NutOur music is provided by Sassy Outwater.

This is The Shadow Orchestra’s Sweet as a Nut, from their EP Remaker.

You can find more about Shadow Orchestra at their MySpace page, and their music is also available on iTunes.


Podcast Sponsor

This podcast is brought to you by The Scotsman Who Saved Me by Hannah Howell.

From New York Times bestselling author Hannah Howell comes a brand-new series featuring the MacEnroys, a family of seven strong, seductive Scottish brothers who have come to America with nerves of steel—and who will take no prisoners when it comes to love.

The last thing Iain MacEnroy expected to find in his peaceful corner of the Ozarks was a burning cabin with a brutally butchered young couple inside. As he and his brothers bury the dead, a blood trail leads him directly to gravely injured Emily Stanton, who managed to escape the attack.

For Scotsman Iain MacEnroy, Emily’s high-tone accent is a bitter reminder of the oppressive regime he left behind. The last thing he needs is to be burdened by the needs of a beautiful, blue-eyed Englishwoman. But taking care of elegant, educated Emily begins to transform Iain in ways he never imagined. Could it be that the deep divisions from the old world no longer apply in the new—and that Iain and Emily can share a passion as lush and wild as the Scottish highlands themselves?

The Scotsman Who Saved Me by Hannah Howell is available at Kensingtonbooks.com and everywhere books are sold.

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

Sidetracks - September 21, 2017

Sep. 21st, 2017 06:45 pm
helloladies: Gray icon with a horseshoe open side facing down with pink text underneath that says Sidetracks (sidetracks)
[personal profile] helloladies posting in [community profile] ladybusiness
Sidetracks is a collaborative project featuring various essays, videos, reviews, or other Internet content that we want to share with each other. All past and current links for the Sidetracks project can be found in our Sidetracks tag. For more links and commentary you can follow us on Twitter, Tumblr. You can also support us on Patreon.


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jabberwockypie:

villainny:

reioka:

echosiriusrumme:

tweedymcgee:

#gif warning #tweedymcgee #pTq

@reioka

“I’ve raised a criminal,” Tony says as Dum-E presses the button saying “I am not a robot.”

“To be fair,” JARVIS says. “Dum-E is not just a robot. He is a highly advanced AI as well.”

“A criminal,” Tony repeats as Dum-E creates his Tumblr account.

It would be poorly framed photographs of screws, weirdly angled pictures of people, and videos of Tony yelping, screaming and snoring.

Lilo would follow him instantly.

@scifigrl47

Finding Love in Unexpected Places

Sep. 21st, 2017 06:12 pm
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One of the great wonders of the Internet is meeting new friends and discovering people who love the same books you do. (This has been especially empowering for people who read romance, hasn’t it? Since so often the people in our everyday lives emphatically do not read romance and are only to happy to let us know this.)
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Posted by Amanda

The Trouble with Grace

The Trouble with Grace by Jenn LeBlanc is 99c at Amazon and iBooks! This historical romance serves as a prequel for the next book and seems to feature a triad of sorts. Readers recommend this one for those wanting a different sort of historical romance, while others said it was hard to get invested in the romance.

She had no idea what passion was,
Until she saw them…
 

Lady Alain needs a husband, and Quintin Wyntor will do just fine.

She will offer him a mutual agreement of respect and independence–
As long as he never visits her bed to claim his marital rights.

But seeing him with a man, with Calder, changes it all.
For better–and for worse.

Passion stirred.
Desire ignited.

And yet, she still never wants to touch or be touched.

But Quinn’s heart is shattered when his lover walks away so he decides to explore his feelings for Celeste to ease his broken heart.

In one unchecked moment of passion, mutual need spins out of control and bringing Calder home now may just be impossible.

Will Celeste give in to what Quinn wants for her?
Or will she stand her ground and hope they find another way…
 

This book is the story of Celeste and has her happily for now.
It is also the beginning of Calder and Quinn’s story which will be continued in THE SPARE AND THE HEIR.

This book is an autochorissexual romance (on the asexual spectrum) but contains important pieces of a gay romance. Both are explicit.

Warning: this book has a cliffhanger ending for Calder and Quinn, but is very much part of their story.

Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

This book is on sale at:

iBooks

and

amazon

 

 

 

Down & Dirty

Down & Dirty by Tracy Wolff is $1.99! This sports romance is the first book in the Lightning series. Readers said that while the book is definitely a sexy contemporary, it has some great emotional depth. However, some felt the romance aspect happened a bit too quickly.

This hard-bodied football star is used to scoring. But he needs all the right moves to get past a fiery redhead’s defenses in a steamy standalone novel from the bestselling author of Ruined.

Emerson: Talk about bad first impressions. I have too much riding on this job to show up late on my first day looking like the winner of a wet T-shirt contest, all thanks to an arrogant quarterback who drives like he owns the road. Hunter Browning thinks that because he’s famous, he can fix everything with a smile and a wave of his hand. He’s too bronzed, buff, and beautiful for his own good. Or mine. I can’t let on that I’m a fan . . . no matter how much fun we’d have in the sack.

Hunter: Hitting that puddle was my best play since winning the Super Bowl with a touchdown pass. Sure, it’s not my preferred way to get a girl wet, but I’ll make an exception for Emerson Day. She’s got a sharp tongue and a red-hot temper, even with her soaking clothes plastered to her every curve. Now I know exactly what my next play will be: hire Emerson as my personal real-estate agent, save her job—and see if I can take her off the market.

Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

This book is on sale at:

Barnes & Noble Kobo Google Play iBooks

and

amazon

 

 

 

A Summer for Scandal

A Summer for Scandal by Lydia San Adres is $1.99! This is a historical romance set in the Caribbean with a heroine hiding her writing identity. One promising review said the feeling between the hero and heroine is very much like Mr. Darcy and Lizzie, but some said the plot execution could have used some work. It has a 3.8-star rating on Goodreads.

Arroyo Blanco, 1911.

When Emilia Cruz agreed to accompany her sister to a boating party, she had no idea that the darling of the literary world would be in assistance—or that he would take such pleasure in disparaging the deliciously sinful serial she writes under a pseudonym. No one save her sister knows she’s the author and to be found out would mean certain scandal.

Stuck on his long-awaited second book, Ruben Torres has begun to edit in secret a gossip paper whose literary reviews are as cruel as they are clever. The more he writes about the mysterious author of a popular serial, the more papers he sells…and the more he is determined to find out her identity before anyone else can.

Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

This book is on sale at:

Barnes & Noble Kobo iBooks

and

amazon

 

 

 

Vampire Warrior Kings Boxed Set

The Vampire Warrior Kings Boxed Set by Laura Kaye is $1.99 at Amazon and iBooks! It’s $2.49 at all other vendors. This set collects books 1-3 in the Vampire Warrior Kings series and features vampires, obviously. Just a note that these romances are on the shorter side.

Get Laura Kaye’s three bestselling and award-winning Vampire Warrior Kings stories at one great price! Travel from Northern Ireland to Moscow, Russia, to Tromso, Norway in this exciting series featuring the world’s remaining vampire warrior kings as they battle immortal enemies in an escalating war and find unexpected love.

In the Service of the King
Kael, Warrior King of the Vampires loathes the Night of the Proffering. He needs the blood of either his mate or a human virgin to maintain his strength, but hasn’t enjoyed the ritual since he lost his mate. Until he lays eyes on his new offering, Shayla McKinnon, who will give him anything he wishes. Will Kael give in to their overwhelming desire–even if it means risking Shayla’s life?

Taken by the Vampire King
Henrik Magnusson is supposed to be immortal but, thanks to a mysterious ailment not even the blood of the Proffered can sustain him now. Then he rescues a beautiful young woman, and is filled with blood lust and desire he hasn’t felt for centuries…

Seduced by the Vampire
Kate Bordessa has fled to Russia to escape her family’s hopes that she’ll become one of the Proffered. But when she stumbles upon a wounded vampire, she’s instinctively driven to protect him. Will her connection now to Vampire Warrior King Nikolai Vasilyev be strong enough for her to embrace a destiny neither of them was expecting?

Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

This book is on sale at:

Barnes & Noble Kobo Google Play iBooks

and

amazon

 

 

 

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Posted by Carrie S

B+

Jane Austen, the Secret Radical

by Helena Kelly
May 2, 2017 · Knopf
Nonfiction

I am sorry to inform you, Dear Bitches, that Jane Austen: The Secret Radical is not the stirring tale of an undercover Jane who lives a life of seeming calm while secretly running top secret missions for the abolitionist movement in the dead of night. However, it’s a fascinating nonfiction piece of detective work that points out that in the context of her day, Jane would have come across as a much more politically and socially progressive writer than she does to modern readers.

Author Helena Kelly’s premise relies on the idea that every time period and every culture has its own frame of reference. If I tell you that I do all my shopping at Walmart, that tells you something about me that is different from me saying that I do all my shopping at Whole Foods. Cultural references aren’t always that name brand specific (“name brand” is, itself, a phrase that is a cultural reference) but we all rely on thousands of these references without ever thinking about it.

Over time, certain themes stay current, which is one of the reasons that so many older books remain relevant and meaningful. However, most of the references with which the books’ original readers approached the text are lost, giving the book a different flavor with each new generation of readers. Kelly tries to look at Austen’s texts through the lens of Austen’s first readers, and she finds a lot of plausible evidence that Austen was writing very progressively about marriage, class, slavery, and money during a time when England was at war and dissent or criticism was repressed, often severely.

Here’s an example: In Mansfield Park, there is one reference to slavery that all readers can easily understand, and that is when Fanny brings it up at the dinner table and is shushed. Readers with more knowledge of history also know that when Sir Thomas goes to Antigua, he’s probably dealing with problems on his plantation, which is run by slaves. So far things are pretty overt. However, readers who read Mansfield Park when it was published would also have noticed that Fanny’s favorite poet, William Cowper, was famous for his poems in praise of abolition, and that Maria quotes from a passage about slavery written by Laurence Stern that was all the rage at the time. These, among other references, are obscure today but would have been glaring to Regency Era readers.

The other method Kelly uses is to analyze the text for things like repeated words and certain symbolism. For instance, in Mansfield Park, a book that deals with the idea of being trapped in multiple ways, the word “chains” is used thirteen times whereas in all other her other books combined it’s only used twice. In my opinion, sometimes this method of analysis is plausible and sometimes not so much. It’s clear that Kelly knows her Austen. However, all English majors know the trick of making everything symbolic, whether it’s intended to be or not. I buy the idea that Northanger Abbey is a book with a lot of content regarding sexuality but I don’t buy the idea that the scene in which Catherine opens boxes is about masturbation. Sometimes a box is just a box.

This isn’t light reading, but it’s also not mired in academic jargon. To my surprise, I read it in two days, lured on by the suspense of wondering just what Austen allegedly had to say about various topics. I found the chapters on Pride and Prejudice and Mansfield Park to be the most convincing and entertaining. The amount of scholarship and the clarity and approachability of the writing is truly impressive.

One of the reasons that I loved the chapters on Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion is that while Kelly does get into the darker subtext, she also celebrates reasons that the romances in those two novels are successful at a level I hadn’t considered. With other novels, Kelly is less sanguine about the eventual happiness of the couples. If you don’t want anyone casting aspersions on Edward from Sense and Sensibility, or Knightly from Emma, or Edmund from Mansfield Park, back away from the book slowly.

I would recommend this to people who have an interest in Jane Austen at an academic level. I would NOT recommend it to people who simply enjoy Austen for some nice reading, nor to those whose primary attachment to Austen is from the television and film adaptation, which tend to soften things considerably. If you fall into either of the latter groups, then this book will either irritate you or successfully ruin all conception of Austen as light and happy. If you like getting into the nuts and bolts of writing and history, then this book will be perfect for you.

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Posted by SB Sarah

After our first and second installments of Podcast and Episode recommendations, my playlist has grown considerably. I listen to podcasts while walking my dogs and while cooking, and I find that sampling new shows is both fascinating, affirming, and intimidating. Fascinating because I learn about so many new cool things, affirming because I’m so excited when there are new shows, and intimidating because I pay closer attention to finer details of my own podcast after I listen to a new one.

But! I always love finding new episodes to recommend, either from shows I’ve already subscribed to, or shows that I’ve just discovered. Here are a few recent favorites.

Still Processing Podcast header with photographs of the two hosts back to backI’ve already recommended Still Processing from the NY Times, hosted by Wesley Morris and Jenna Wortham. You can listen on the NYT website, on Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts.

If you haven’t tried Still Processing, please, please try the episode titled, “We Care For Ourselves and Others in Trump’s America.”

Morris and Wortham talk about the concept of self care, the co-opting of the term, and the history of personal, physical, and spiritual care for marginalized people. They also have a guest, Matthew Steinfeld, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine, talk about diagnosis and care – and about the mental and emotional toll of contentious conversations, and the personal cost of doing the work to engage with people who hold views that are toxic and bigoted. I have listened to this episode, no lie, three straight times. It’s mind blowing.

Adrift podcast I’ve also tried a new show: Adrift, with Geoff Lloyd and Annabel Port. It’s a comedy podcast that seems to be partly about social awkwardness and embarrassment, and partly about random comedy. The two were radio DJs or presenters, and their show ended in March of this year.

The first episode featured stories about Annabel’s dog that had me laughing so hard I couldn’t go up my stairs until I calmed down. It’s sort of silly absurd comedy mixed with stories of social hesitance, and for the most part the two episodes I’ve listened to so far have been quite funny.

Rough TranslationAnd finally, also new: Rough Translation, a new podcast from NPR about issues affecting countries around the world that have a parallel with issues we’re facing in the US.

The first two episodes, “Brazil in Black and White,” and “Ukraine vs. Fake News,” were so interesting, I kept shushing the dog who was whining at me. Then I realized he was whining because I was standing completely still in my kitchen, holding his food bowl, stuck in place trying to fully process what I was listening to. Poor dog (yes, I fed him and his brother).

You can find Rough Translation on NPR’s website, on iTunes, and on Stitcher.

What podcast episodes have rocked your brain lately? Got any to recommend? 

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Posted by Amanda

Workspace with computer, journal, books, coffee, and glasses.It’s time for Wednesday Links, where we post some neat things we’ve found on the internet. I’m currently in one of those states where I’m not sure what day it is and when I do figure it out, it’s always earlier in the week than I’d thought. Which is a real bummer.

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries has a Kickstarter to be made into a movie! It’s already been successfully backed (yay!), but there are some awesome stretch goals that the team is working toward.

Big thanks to all of you who sent me the link to Entertainment Weekly’s cover reveal & interview with Lisa Kleypas. I loved this little historical fact from the Q & A:

Where did your idea for a female physician/doctor come from?

When I write these historical romance novels, I do an incredible amount of research just to get the flavor of the time period and to pick up all these details that give the story life. As I was reading about important people back in the late 1800s in England, the name Elizabeth Garrett Anderson came up. I was shocked to realize that she was the only female physician in England for 20-30 years and I had never even heard of her. After she got into the British Medical Association through a loophole after completing all these studies at the Sorbonne in France, the British Medical Association changed their rules so that no more women could be admitted for another 20 years. And I could not stop thinking about her because what an incredible thing to be the only woman in an entire country for that long. So I based this character Garrett Gibson on her and, of course, used the name Garrett, because I loved the idea of using a slightly androgynous name for this really tremendously accomplished and brave woman.

Also, what do you think of the cover? We had some thoughts here at the Bitchery.

 

The Ripped Bodice is doing a Blind Date with a Book, where readers can purchase books based on the description. Readers won’t know the actual title of the book until they receive it and unwrap it! I always love it when people do this. And just a reminder that The Ripped Bodice has graced us with an affiliate link for all of your online shopping.


Battery chargers!

Every few months a bigger, better, and lighter weight battery charger comes out. At this point I have 3 in various sizes—lipstick sized, 6.5oz, and the 12.5oz, which lives in our travel bag. I can recharge my kids' DS, tablets, my phone, etc, before it runs out of charge. - SW


In a previous Wednesday Links, we mentioned that Georgette Heyer’s Sylvester was being made into a stage production. Well, welcome Reader Melinda who saw it! Here’s her review:

Not long ago you mentioned on the blog that Lifeline Theatre in Chicago is doing a stage adaptation of “Sylvester” this fall. I’m a resident of Portland Oregon but realized that I’d be in Chicago visiting family during the play’s previews. So we got tickets.

Yesterday afternoon we went to the show, and I am pleased to report that it was well done and very, very fun! All of us enjoyed it–not only myself and my daughter, who are Georgette fans and familiar with the story, but also my husband and son in law who had never heard of Georgette or Sylvester.

The theatre is small, so the environment is intimate, and the production is creative (costumes are suggested, casting is diverse, each actor plays many parts, and there is a “game of love ” theme that organizes and comments on the action). I was personally amazed that such a long and complex novel could be dramatized in a way that made it manageable for a 2-hour running time and yet retained the essential character (and comedy) of the book.

Interestingly enough, the program mentioned that this is the theatre’s fourth adaptation of a Heyer novel, so it seems they have an interest in this kind of literature. They also seem to have done adaptations of Dorothy Sayers and “Miss Buncle’s Book.” If I were a Chicago resident I would definitely be keeping my eye on their future productions

Does anyone else plan on seeing it?

Erotic romance author, Selena Kitt, did an AMA (ask me anything) over at Reddit and I thought the Q & A was pretty informative for authors! Check it out! She talks about promoting books, how to manage a large backlist of books, and more.

Don’t forget to share what super cool things you’ve seen, read, or listened to this week! And if you have anything you think we’d like to post on a future Wednesday Links, send it my way!

More 99c Books from the Swerve Sale!

Sep. 20th, 2017 03:30 pm
[syndicated profile] smartbitches_feed

Posted by Amanda

Level Up

RECOMMENDED: Level Up by Cathy Yardley is 99c! Sarah and author Bree Bridges (one half of Kit Rocha!) had an entire podcast episode dedicated to squeeing about this book. If you want more geeky romances in your life, the next book, One True Pairing, is also on sale!

Geeky introvert Tessa Rodriguez will do whatever it takes to get promoted to video game engineer– including create a fandom-based video game in just three weeks. The only problem is, she can’t do it alone. Now, she needs to strong-arm, cajole, and otherwise socialize with her video game coworkers, especially her roommate, Adam, who’s always been strictly business with her. The more they work together, though, the closer they get…

Adam London has always thought of his roomie Tessa as “one of the guys” until he agreed to help her with this crazy project. Now, he’s thinking of her all the time… and certainly as something more than just a roommate! But his last girlfriend broke up with him to follow her ambitions, and he knows that Tessa is obsessed with getting ahead in the video game world.

Going from friends to something more is one hell of a challenge. Can Tessa and Adam level up their relationship to love?

Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

This book is on sale at:

Barnes & Noble Kobo Google Play iBooks

and

amazon

 

 

 

Crossing the Line

Crossing the Line by Audra North is 99c! This is the third book in the Hard Driving series, but it works fine as a standalone. I’ve read some of North’s books in the past and she does write some pretty sexy contemporaries. Readers loved the chemistry between the hero and heroine, but others wanted more racing action.

He wanted her the first time he saw her. It didn’t matter that he was on stage in front of a room full of reporters, or that his publicist was telling him to move on, or that she was asking him a question about racing. One look at her “just been bedded” hair — completely at odds with her deliciously prim appearance — and Ty Riggs is hooked.

Corrine Bellows is one of the woefully few women in a male profession: sports reporting. In a field where “Hey, sweetheart, can you fetch me a cup of copy” is part of her job description, she’s determined to keep things professional. And while interviewing Ty Riggs, the hottest new driver on and off the track, is a major scoop, Corrine knows that she is in major trouble when it becomes clear that Ty wants so much more and is determined to get it. As things heat up between them, Corrine finds herself on shakier ground. Her big secret just may destroy everything.

Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

This book is on sale at:

Barnes & Noble Kobo Google Play iBooks

and

amazon

 

 

 

Beauty and the Highland Beast

Beauty and the Highland Beast by Lecia Cornwall is 99c! This is a historical romance with Beauty and the Beast elements. Readers say the book has a great start introducing the hero and the heroine, but there were others who felt a lot of the plot points seemed unnecessary. It has a 3.8-star rating on Goodreads. This is the first book in the A Highland Fairytale series and right now, you can grab all three books for less than $3!

Powerful and dangerous highlander Dair Sinclair was once the favored son of his clan, The Sinclairs of Carraig Brigh. With Dair at the helm, Sinclair ships circled the globe bringing home incredible fortune. Until one deadly mission when Dair is captured, tortured and is unable to save his young cousin. He returns home breaking under the weight of his guilt and becomes known as the Madman of Carraig Brigh.

When a pagan healer predicts that only a virgin bride can heal his son’s body and mind, Dair’s father sets off to find the perfect wife for his son. At the castle of the fearsome McLeods, he meets lovely and kind Fia MacLeod.

Although Dair does his best to frighten Fia, she sees the man underneath the damage and uses her charm and special gifts to heal his mind and heart. Will Dair let Fia love him or is he cursed with madness forever?

Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

This book is on sale at:

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and

amazon

 

 

 

Meat

Meat by Opal Carew is 99c! It doesn’t look like this book is part of any series, so you can read without worrying about details from any previous books. I wanted to include this book because the title made me giggle. This definitely falls into the erotic romance category, so expect a lot of sexytimes. However, readers thought the book could have benefitted from being a bit longer.

Just one taste isn’t enough…

I ran into Rex Keene—literally—when I was trying to catch my flight and his muscled, tattooed arms stopped my fall.

Then our flight gets canceled, and we’re stranded in the same hotel room together…it ended up being the steamiest night of my life.

All I knew is that I had to see him again.

I just didn’t expect him to show up a week later in the restaurant I manage…as our new head chef.

But the generous, tender man I spent that night with is gone; instead he’s arrogant, demanding, and terrorizing the staff.

But he won’t give up until we’re together – and I’m not sure I can stay away.

Which man is real?

Who is Rex Keene?

Add to Goodreads To-Read List →

This book is on sale at:

Barnes & Noble Kobo Google Play iBooks

and

amazon

 

 

 

Speaker of the Lost by Clara Coulson

Sep. 20th, 2017 07:00 am
[syndicated profile] smartbitches_feed

Posted by SB Sarah

D

Speaker of the Lost

by Clara Coulson
September 15, 2017 · Knite and Day Publishing
Nonfiction

It’s getting a little bleak for me, reading-wise. This was the first book I finished after 8 DNFs in a row, some of which were nonfiction and some romance or fantasy. I was pretty excited that the beginning of this story was so promising. Then it became repetitive, emotionally limited, inconsistent, and then offensive.

Summary time! Stella Newport is a brand new FBI agent. Specifically, she’s a Lark, which is the name given to the agents in the paranormal investigation division. She’s sent to work with a curmudgeonly, unkind agent named Oswald Bolton, known informally as “Oz.” There are a couple of familiar character types here: the intelligent rookie who is more than she seems, paired with an experienced, jaded agent who lost his partner prior to the start of this story, and who doesn’t want to work with anyone else because emotional vulnerability is awful and he hates it. He works alone – doesn’t anyone understand that?!

This novel is book 1 of a new series called “Lark Nation,” but according to the listing, it’s part of the same universe as another series. First off: I do not think this book works as a stand-alone, and that’s a shame. The exposition and world building presumed that I knew things that I did not, and many major elements, like the entire other worlds and universes that exist parallel to the one the characters inhabit, are very sparsely described.

As a result, I switched between being frustrated that I didn’t get what the characters were talking about and being annoyed that they were so lacking in basic understanding of jurisprudence. For FBI agents, they didn’t know much about aspects of investigation that I would think were obvious. For example: if you suspect your partner has been hit in the head with a brick, throwing that brick into the water while you’re having a tantrum because she’s been fridged seems like a bad idea. Oz’s reasoning is that the rain washed away the evidence that it was used in an assault, but that’s some pretty flawed reasoning for an experienced agent. There are also multiple instances where “something” isn’t right, or “something” seems off, but the main characters shrug it off, or figure they’ll deal with whatever it is at a later time.

Stella and Oz are in Maine investigating a beheading. Some guy was walking home at night on a deserted road, and a headless horseman shows up and lops his head clean off. So Stella is sent to assist Oz, who is already on site, but because there are so many supernatural crimes happening all over the country – a byproduct of some event that happened in the earlier series which I didn’t read – there’s not much in the way of backup for either of them. At one point Stella has a call with her supervisor where she has to tell him about a few more beheadings that happened, and I was so confused how that wasn’t information said supervisor would need to know as soon as they had happened.

The book started out pretty strong: Stella is nervous about her first investigation, but very smart, capable, and confident in her training and her abilities.

Then we meet Oz. Oz is grumpy and also, he’s an asshole. They start by trying to figure out why the dude lost his head. Then more people start dying, and the narrative starts repeating itself. For example: I was told over and over that Stella isn’t sure if she wants to be the one who breaks down Oz’s defenses/”scale the concrete wall Oswald…had built around his heart”/lather rinse repeat.

Honestly, I didn’t care if she did or not. It was perhaps the second or third day of their working together, he barely managed to treat her with respect, and I didn’t really know the scope of what happened to him in the first place. I have dreadfully low tolerance for characters who lack any emotional fluency, and even less for people who use that excuse to treat other people poorly. Example: here’s Oz after he berates a local cab driver – and this is in a small town where he and Stella are already worried about gossip regarding the FBI’s presence and investigation:

Oz knew he’d been too hard on the guy, but again, he couldn’t bring himself to care about the feelings of a random stranger who would ultimately mean nothing in the grand scheme. The cabbie would get over his scare, resume his normal activities, and live, if not happily ever after, then some mediocre variation.

Nice, huh? And it’s pretty consistent with how he treats ancillary characters. I don’t care what kind of structures he’s built around himself. It’s probably a good idea he stay inside them. One of the goals (I presume) of this book is to establish Stella and Oz’s partnership as agents, but the overtly romantic tone, the constant reassertion that it’s somehow Stella’s job to emotionally heal Oswald, and the compressed time period of a few days or maybe a week, did not do enough to make me believe in their alleged progress.

The two things that frustrated me most, aside from the repetitiveness of Stella vs. Oz Walls, were as follows.

First: there was not enough connecting the magic to reality.  There’s a magical world connected to the real one, and the FBI has some sort of jurisdiction over it. But how that works is not ever fully explained, nor is their authority over magical events that happen to humans. Stella has some kind of magical ability (more on that in a moment) and both she and Oz have mage kits and magical rings but the integration of their individual magic into the reality they inhabit was also poorly built. The magical rings are particularly ludicrous: to use one, they have to point the ring at a target and yell “SHOOT!” to make things happen. I kept picturing the elementary school kids in my neighborhood playing superhero and waving their hands at each other: “BOOM! You fell down!” Without a more robust explanation of how the magic works, what the cost is, what its effects are, why they have it and some don’t, the whole wave-your-ring-at-the-bad-guy part seemed dumb.

Then, there’s this part which ruined the whole book for me. Get ready.

Stella is described by Oz when he meets her as follows:

She was roughly twenty-five and built like a ballet dancer, with light brown skin and facial features that spoke of a multiracial ancestry. Her long hair was tamed into a ponytail of black ringlets, leaving no shadows on her face to hide her bright green eyes. No, vividly green eyes. Eyes that almost seemed to shine, even.

I didn’t read about any other characters of color aside from Stella, but figured there would be some. To my knowledge, there were not – though I may have missed a description or two, as I began reading pretty quickly once the book began to sour for me.

Then Oz and the reader learns something pretty crucial about Stella:

Show Spoiler

Stella is revealed to be a powerful telekinetic, and part fae. Oz, it turns out – and this is revealed about him after Stella divulges that her grandmother is Summer fae – hates and distrusts the fae. Which leads to this rumination on his part:

Faeries were not his favorite creatures – they stood one step below vampires on his list of THINGS I HATE – but most of his ire was directed at full-blooded fae. They were mischievous, sadistic creatures, who’d taken their inability to lie and honed it into a mastery of manipulation. They were cold, callous, crafty, and clever, and every interaction Oz had with them in the past ended in absolute disaster….

To think Newport had their blood running through her veins unnerved him. It made him question everything she’d said and done since the moment they met. But…Oz rejected the impulse to categorize Newport with her inhuman relations….

No, Newport’s interactions with Oz had been true to form. She was what she appeared to be. Headstrong. Smart. Practical. Controlled…. She didn’t have faults as an agent that a few years of fieldwork wouldn’t fix.

Weighing all those qualities against her fae blood, Oz could find no legitimate reason to shun her. Her heritage was beyond her control. Her behavior was not, and what she’d displayed so far spoke of a talented agent in the toddler phase who’d one day grow to be a truly spectacular force.

My comment on my device: “Oh, no.”

So Stella is to my knowledge the only character of color in the book, and she’s part fae. But it’s ok: she’s not like other fae, and though Oz hates them all, she’s proved herself so he won’t shun her. Am I supposed to look at Oz favorably for overcoming his own prejudice? Am I supposed to ignore the substitution of “fae prejudice” for racial prejudice?

WHAT. THE. ACTUAL. LIVING. HELL.

If I cringe any harder, I’ll develop a hernia. Sloppy characterization that’s painfully racist is not what I wanted. I’ve sat here watching my blinking cursor trying to think of coherent words to respond to that scene. Stella even lampshades herself in an earlier part of the book, joking with a receptionist who expected Oz’s new partner to be “another brown-haired man around thirty-five” that her unit is “a little more diverse.” But she’s still a token character – on multiple levels.

I get so excited when I see more inclusivity in the fiction I buy. But this is not the representation I’m looking for. This is the exact opposite.

I was close enough to the end that I finished the book, but neither Oz nor the story were redeemable for me. There was so much potential in the first chapters: a bit of X-Files with a complicated set of partners, plus a headless horseman – who talks to the heroine! They have whole conversations after he yanks his head out of his saddlebag! They were the most interesting pair in the book, now that I think about it.

I would have been a lot happier if Stella had left Oz to his grumpy racist emotional navel gazing and run off with the murdering headless horseman.

If I be waspish

Sep. 19th, 2017 08:48 pm
[syndicated profile] wordwenches_feed

Posted by Joanne Bourne

Wench shrew
Not the one I saw.

The Carmel Shakespeare Festival

I went to a performance of Taming of the Shrew on Sunday. Quite an excellent, intelligent and witty performance from the American Shakespeare Center at the Blackfriars Playhouse right down the road from me in Staunton, Virginia. They had come touring to a sell-out crowd at my little Community College in the Blue Ridge.

In any case, Taming of the Shrew contains the memorable line,

If I be waspish, best beware my sting”

and it gets a bit bawdy from there. I had been thinking about wasps, as it happens, because I have a wasp nest in the back of my yard right under the bird house.

This is one of those “Oh, how full of briers is this working-day world!” moments which is Rosalind’s line, not Kate’s, but it is also very properly my own line. After con

Neotype_male_of_Electrostephanus_petiolatus_Brues_in_Baltic_amber_(AMNH_B-JWJ-260)
A wasp in amber. Not so terrible to look at

sidering several schemes I have decided not to deal with the wasps at all. I will wait till it freezes and then knock the stupid nest down. Then the ants can eat the wasps.

I feel entirely bloodthirsty and violent, but I intend to do this anyway.

This brought to mind the history of wasps and their relations with people and I decided to look into how my Regency folks would have dealt with wasp stings since I might be collecting some of my own.

Wench charles 2Since I’m talking bugs I will just stop by for a brief nod at Charles Valentine Riley as I go by, that knowledgeable and far-sighted entomologist. He spearheaded the first US Grasshopper Commission, you know, and headed the U.S. Entomological Commission in 1876. Riley turned his back on the Big Chem of its day – pesticides based on arsenic, lead, and kerosene -- and said, he’d never “had much faith in the application to the plant or the insect of any chemical mixture.” It was the insects’ natural enemies, “that carry on their good work most effectually.”

So it is kinda like me following Riley and handing over the wasps to my allies the ants, assuming the ants come out and eat the wasps during a warm spell which is by no means assured.

But onward to the Regency.

How did they deal with wasp sting?

In The New Family Receipt-book, 1811, John Murray says, “rubbing of the part stung, with a slice of onion, will give immediate ease.” Or they can be treated by applying “oil of tartar or solution of potash, and it will give instant ease; as also well bruised mallows.”

Oil of tartar is what we call cream of tartar when we use it in cooking nowadays. It’s a byproduct of wine making apparently. Potash is literally pot ash, the ash from charred vegetables. It would have been used as a fertilizer in the Regency, being all full of potassium goodness.

Wench Alcea_rosea_lv_1Mallow is a plant family. Here’s one.

 

Murray adds, “Sweet oil, applied immediately, cures the sting of wasps or bees.” Sweet oil being olive oil in this case.

And “The immediate application of Eau du Luce to many persons who have been stung by wasps, has caused the pain to subside in a few seconds, and after a few minutes all inflammation ceased.”

I know you are going to ask about Eau de Luce so I have this ready for you.

Per The Domestic Encyclopedia of A. F. M. Willich, Eau De Luce is a ... "liquid volatile soap with Wench eau de luce of c18 museum of londona pungent smell." To make it, you dissolve white soap in alcohol, add oil of amber, (which is what you get when you heat amber till it melts,) and volatile spirit of sal ammoniac. (That seems to be ammonium hydroxide and ammonium chloride. Quicklime is involved in this somehow and I wouldn’t mess with it myself.)

You can perfume your Eau de Luce with lavender if that’s how you roll.

Willich goes on to say the use of Eau de Luce “as an external remedy is extensive; for it has been employed for curing the bites of vipers, wasps, bees, gnats, ants, and other insects, for burns and even the bite of a mad-dog, though not always with uniform success.”

Hmmm. I imagine not.

Mostly though, Eau de Luce was used as very upscale smelling salts. It came in a lovely gold-decorated bottle. Nothing like a gold bottle to rouse you from a stupor.

Wench faint 2As one heroine put it:

“I was indeed ready to faint! I was never so ill. The men, who all condemned Lord Merton’s rashness, ran for drops, &c. &c. Bellville held one of my hands in his, and with the other, an eau de luce bottle to my nose. His tender solicitude, and repeated assurances that he was not much hurt, soon restored me.”

Moving from remedies that include melted amber to the more mundane sort:

“A good remedy for the sting of wasps and bees, is to apply to the part affected common culinary salt, moistened with a little water. Even in a case where the patient had incautiously swallowed a wasp in a draught of beer, and been stung by it in the windpipe, the alarming symptoms that ensued were almost instantly relieved by swallowing repeated doses of water, saturated with salt.” John Murray

If I find myself going head to head with wasps, I will keep a canister of salt handy.

One final word from the scienc-y folks of the Regency:

“Various kinds of oil, honey, ammonia, spirit of wine, and several other reputed specifics, appear to deserve no such character, since they are found, after unprejudiced trials, to have no power of neutralizing the venom, nor of appeasing the actual pain arising from the sting. ... [The best treatment is] The part is afterwards to be covered with snow, or bathed with ice-cold water, or some cooling sedative lotion. In short, the case is to be treated on common antiphlogistic principles, experience having fully proved that no specific has yet been discovered for the sting of the bee, and other venomous insects.”

The Cyclopedia: Or Universal Dictionary, Volume 38, 1819, Abraham Rees

 

So. What are your antiphlogistic principles?

How do you treat any wasp stings or bee stings that come into your life?

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