Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Squalling infants do not a romance make

We have yet to have given you a truly wonderful reading recommendation (I believe we did mention The Silver Metal Lover by Tanith Lee which is a definite win), so I am here to remedy such a sad truth this very morn. In fact, I have a little treat for you found by way of the Smart Bitches- a whole smattering of free romance eBooks from Mills & Boon!

There are ten of them total and all it requires is a little of your time to read descriptions and decide which ones you'd like/download the necessary software to read them if you don't already have it. I have read four of them and will happily give you my opinions; I am debating whether I will read the other six (probably yes because I am a ridiculous person) because it creeps me out that all of the storylines center around babies/pregnancy.

I don't know what kind of escapist fantasy involves a squalling infant, but I'll take slightly rape-y Regency-era England historical romances over that shit any day, let me tell you. Which I suppose I just did. Anyway: onto the reviews!

SILENT IN THE GRAVE Okay, I'm a little confused as to why this one was even in the romance category because aside from one passionate kiss there is absolutely no sexy time. I mean, it is set in the late 19th century so for that time period seeing a man with his shirt mostly unbuttoned (NOOOOO THE HORROR THE HORROR!!!) was pretty scandalous for a woman of 'good breeding' etc whatever- but this book is actually good. Well-written, the characters are interesting, it's witty, well-researched and the clothing descriptions (especially if you are a sucker for costumes) will have you wishing you had some Poppins-worthy hats on hand yourself. And it's a mystery! I'm actually planning to acquire the next two in the series as well as this one, all in actual book format.
Overall grade: A+
Sexytime grade: C+ good sexual tension/build for future
Ridiculousness grade: B (sadly no one is a werewolf/faerie/vampire; fortunately nobody is a sparklepire)

DIAGNOSIS DANGER Much more in the vein of the traditional romance novel- everybody is extraordinarily good-looking and sexy and when they have sex IT IS THE BESTEST EVER WITH EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY, OMG. I like the fact that the heroine is a redhead and a doctor- but she too has a weird obsession with babies. (If you want non-creepy babies, go for something like The Very Virile Viking by Sandra Hill. Far superior. And hilarious.) There is a murder-mystery plot happening as well, so at least our heroine has something to think about besides her devastating endometriosis. Best part of the book is her Polish mother butchering English, and the author's dedication to her parents for "taking the English language places it had never been before".
Overall grade: B-
Sexytime grade: B (includes over-the-top flowery language to describe their 'heavenly joinings' or whatever without actually describing much)
Ridiculousness grade: B+ (I think they at least take about a month before they sleep together. Must be a romance novel record.)

THE RAKE'S UNCONVENTIONAL MISTRESS I don't know how I read that other one before I realized that there was another historical romance in my midst, really. This one nearly lost me for two reasons: one, there is a lot of near-rape going on in this book. Some women like that kind of thing in their bodice-rippers, I do not. Creepy. Like babies. Second reason? JANE FREAKING AUSTEN MAKES A GUEST-APPEARANCE. WTF. Something about Shakespeare, maybe, being in a romance novel strikes me as hilarious. Austen? The Brontë Sisters? I just don't even know what to do with that. Aside from that, the book was well-researched though the supporting characters a bit cliché- your heros nearly always have to be, but you can have fun with the supporting. This author went for your standard meddling mother/supportive uncle/disapproving aunt/bubbly pretty younger sisters/rapey gardener's son. As far as the two main characters, I felt it was trying to be a re-rendering of Pride & Prejudice- at one point the heroine is even talking about how she should have seen the goodness in the hero but she had been 'too prejudiced'- how subtle. Darcy would kick this man soundly for being so rape-y. There are also two other instances of near rape by random other characters. It's lovely, really.
Overall grade: B+
Sexytime grade: A-
Ridiculousness grade: JANE FREAKING AUSTEN. A+.

THE PLAYER Oh sweet, sweet god. This one was AWESOME. Apparently it is also part of a trilogy, one I will be acquiring over the next few months, mark my words. Six-and-a-half foot tall, Irish-American former Army Ranger from Alabama with Deep, Dark Secrets? Our heroine was a Wall Streeter who had a heart attack at 26 so she rearranged her life to run a relaxation retreat for burned-out people? Her secretary is named TEWANDA? There is an ENGLISH MASTIFF? SOLD! And even better is the fact that our heroine is a "big girl"- the whole virginal theme starts to get a little weird after a while, with the Sexually Experienced Men Showing Them Things. She also almost psychically senses our hero's pain, which is pretty great. People jump out of rowboats into lakes in September in Maine. My favorite Irish whiskey is involved. The sex scenes are hot. There is of course conflict that you know will be resolved in a singular conversation considering there are only fifteen pages left in the book after that. This book is a win.
Overall grade: A+
Sexytime grade: A+ (you can't lose when the term 'impaled' is used)
Ridiculousness grade: A+ (TEWANDA, SERIOUSLY. Also the timeline for their romance is a single week. And our dear hero ROARS while in the midst of sexing his heroine. Hell yes.)

And there you have it. Go forth and read happy, kids!

ETA: My friend Andrew recommended the following article from the NYT about the path of life. My favorite excerpt, that describes how I feel exactly when people ask me if I ever want to have kids-

I have never even idly thought for a single passing second that it might make my life nicer to have a small, rude, incontinent person follow me around screaming and making me buy them stuff for the rest of my life. [Note to friends with children: I am referring to other people’s children, not to yours.] But there are also moments when some part of me wonders whether I am not only missing the biological boat but something I cannot even begin to imagine — an entire dimension of human experience undetectable to my senses, like a flatlander scoffing at the theoretical concept of sky.

I'll be twenty-four next Tuesday and I'm definitely planning the purchase of my next car around the possibility of getting a mastiff in the next five years rather than the fabled Marriage and Children (sorry mom, sorry Crazy Aunt Alida). Mastiffs don't turn out all wrong if you home-school them and rarely do they go to college.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Bonus AC2 Entry: I wish I had a croissant to go with that hat

In semi-related Longhorn Football news, I stopped by DSW today ostensibly to shop for a replacement pair of black pumps (mine are all kinds of dead- woe) but found something much more beauteous instead: that there burnt orange knit beret. If only it were actually cold here in Texas for the majority of football season; I'd have reason to drop twenty on it. (I would do it anyway, if it came with a case of chocolate croissants or something. Take note, manufacturers.)

As it is, we are only just starting to experience highs not in the triple-digits (bless you rain!) here in Mighty Texas and I pretty much consider this a thoughtful birthday gift from the universe. Well, that and the person with the fetching accent (British) who has a cubicle near mine at the office so I get to listen to them talk. . .okay that sounds creepy when I put it that way. Ahem.

It's truly amazing how maladroit (WORD OF THE DAY!) I can be considering I'm getting my MA in Interpersonal Communication, huh? That would also be the reason I don't date, you guys. OH HAI I'M AWKWARD. (Sadly this is the moment when most of my ex-boyfriends would chime in with "It's a good thing you're pretty". Gee guys, I wonder why we broke up.) I mean, I have an OKC profile and all. . .but let's just not go there, shall we? Now I'm just embarrassing myself.


I do plan to do my best to join AC1 in tailgate fun this Saturday, however I will not be able to make it out until later in the afternoon* as I have my UT Sailing Alumni Regatta on Saturday morning! I will now address several of your questions:

1) yes, UT has a sailing team and it has been around since the '60s
2) yes I sailed on it in college (and refused to ever learn how to skipper)
3) yes I do have a tendency to choose violent, expensive hobbies (ironic considering how accident-prone I am)
4)no our calendar is no longer for sale- sorry

Here is a picture of me with a boat that I actually sailed in, to make you feel better:
This was at Women's Sailing Nationals, circa 2007. The lovely lady with me was my skipper, the lovely Miss KJ. She is also my second wife, but that is something of a long story involving hand-holding, a tiara, my 21st birthday and a drunk, overly-excited man hanging out the window of his truck.

Anyway, the Alumni Regatta is more. . .festive, shall we say, than the other regattas hosted by the team wherein they actually compete in their region to be able to compete at the national level. Hands down the very best thing I did in college and I am glad I snuggled it and loved it as much as I could because damn do I miss it now! Although hitting things is coming in a nice second as a beloved, violent and expensive hobby.

PS: OPEN HOUSE WITH MARTIAL WAY THIS WEEK! Only three days left, but I will be there! Okay I won't be there Saturday because I'll be sailing, but. . .you know. Go and try out any class you may fancy, except the fanciful really hard advanced ones. We wouldn't want you to die.

Alright kids, it's off to bed for this intrepid young. . .uh. . .cat lady? Sure. Intrepid young Cat Lady. Going to try to conquer all again tomorrow, because today I just took a nap instead.


*So you might be thinking, "Hey, that game doesn't start until like 7pm, right?" and yes you would be right- and also clearly know nothing about how incredibly hardcore some of these tailgating folk are; some groups send out hungover and wayward freshman as early as sunrise to pitch tents and set up general merriment areas for the tailgating that often commences before noon. Alumni invest in $200,000 RVs with Longhorn decorating schemes so they can drink beer in comfort near the stadium, all day long.

It is an experience, people. If you ever get invited, your ass should say YES.

Longhorn Football and AC1 related news.

So this weekend is looking good! The Aquatic Cousin's will both be enjoying some Longhorn Football (in different areas of the stadium but none the less)! I will be trying to convince AC2 to join me for some pre-game tailgating, which in my opinion always makes the game sooo much better!

If you look to your right you will see a crazy painted Longhorn fan, he is Steve: King of the Tailgate (this was one instance when he made me paint him and his friend for a Horns basketball game). The man is a hardcore horns fan, he has twice spent weeks custom painting ping pong table's in Longhorn theme. He brings one (the second new and improved version), along with two TV's and multiple tables to every home game (look for him if you are out he will be the crazy little screaming Mexican man).

It is a family tradition, loving the Longhorns, Sarah has gone to UT for both undergrad and grad school and our G-Dad tied a world record in track when he attended back in the day. We love the Longhorns so much that my uncle even has a burnt orange Jeep. We also make Longhorn sugar cookies at Christmas time. . they are beautiful as well as delicious.
Here are Sarah's beautious cookies from 2008!

I am so looking forward to the beat down the Horns will hand out this weekend, Tech sucks and last year they threw tortillas at us! What the hell you people are an embarrassment to the Big 12! I can't wait to hear their fans cry after the game.

In un-Longhorn related news, I am working more and going to school less, which is great with me! Gotta love that MONEY! I am also about to get back into the stock game and hopefully make a little cash and learn somethings. We could all use a little extra cizzzash right? I am a bit low on funds at the moment which may or may not be due to a recent purchase of a certain pair of shoes. . . ahem.
I am also gyming it quite a bit, join me for spin class tonight at 6 pm! I do love Castle Hill! Currently I am cleaning and organizing the "Room of Doom" which is my closet within the BDH. I am making slow but steady progress. I had no idea it had gotten so bad! If only the BDH has as much storage space as it has charm!
Anyway work for miss Shelley tomorrow all day long! I believe we have a photo session at ten am.

Well this Aquatic Cousin needs to get back to cleaning now that lunch is over.


* Dayover a day long hangover.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Internet dating, road trips, and cousin adventures to come....

It's September and that means the huge Vogue magazine will be on my coffee table and it is birthday time for Sparker (Wow just caught a whiff of Scrappy, he needs a bath! WOAH!) This month has started off with a BANG! I have been to Taos, gone on a date and I am planning a birthday blow out for AC2 (Sarah you should be afraid).

It has been a month of new beginnings for the Aquatic Cousin's, new friends, fresh advice, strange happenings. AC2 has a new place of employment which makes my heart sing (you, cousin love work so hard)! Me, (as always) I am a huge mess who has little to no direction, but I do seem to have more than normal this year. Chalk it up to a therapist if you will (GIVE ME THE DRRRUUUGS!) or just good luck, but so far the fall looks like it should be great!

Apparently this look says bag lady?

I had the worst time deciding what to wear (I have too many options)! Ally told me I looked like a bag lady, Keeon said that the dress didn't show me off to my best advantage. . . so I changed three times and finally got it right. I guess? My date didn't seem horrified by my appearance anyway so that was good. First experience with internet dating, was not so bad but then again I am a horrible judge of character so maybe you should tell me?
That's all for now on the topic of internet dating, but I do recommend it thus far. Try it for yourself, but don't blame me if you end up with a stalker.
(If you wish to know more about the actual date you will have to call me because that is privileged information.)
The Taos trip was great we had a beautiful back yard and the dogs had a swell time! Moose loves to ride in the car and he also enjoyed the nice cool grass.
We had some amazing food including my personal favorite the Chile Rellenos from Doc Martins, also some amazing Foie Gras with Brioche from Joseph's Table. As always I really enjoyed the spices and hatch chile that New Mexico offers and you really can't beat the company or the margaritas!
This trip we made the pilgrimage to Chimayo where they have a chapel that is said to hold a holy dirt that can heal the sick (Becks had a cold so she got herself a little bag full). Does it really heal people? Many believe that they have received miracles after visiting Chimayo which is evident by the tons of photos and tokens left at the site, including hundreds of pairs of crutches. It is a neat little tourist trap if you ask me, but we did buy some of Chimayo's holy chile from a man we named Juan Bautista. He let us taste the different kinds and told us we were holy because all things god creates are holy. . . Chimayo is also famous for the high rate of heroine usage in the area.
Going to Taos is always fun, it is just the drive that is so awful! It is boring and takes forever especially when you do it in one day like we did this time, I guess mom didn't want to stay at the BEAUTIFUL Executive Inn again in Carlsbad. A man name Habib runs the front desk and charges you an outrageous amount for a sketchy ass room so bad that mom actually went to Wal-Mart and bought new pillows and cases to sleep on for the night. She was afraid to leave the dogs alone in the room, I guess she doesn't appreciate the charm of an empty swimming pool filled with garbage, empty boxes of condoms in the lot and barefoot children running down the side walks?
The only good thing about the drive to Taos is stopping in the tiny town of Vaugh and going to Penny's Diner. It is a classic 50's style joint with the best milk shakes you have ever tasted! YUM!
The gems are re-stocked and exciting times are on the way! I just drank a Bud Light Lime (which I also recommend strange as it may be) and bedazzled some more. . . it is really coming along nicely and AC2 and I plan to get some work done on it Sunday! Whoooohooo Sunday Funday with the cuz! I will say the jewl always seems to land glue side down, kinda like buttered bread.


Reminding you to be kind and rewind.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

No really, I want a pony.

It has been All Quiet Here on the Cousin Front for a variety of reasons- Aquatic Cousin 1 has been away with Empty Chair Cousin and her older sister (who shall wed in the spring and who I don't have a snazzy name for. . .Tequila Cousin? Help me out here, Mandapants!) along with other family, in Taos for the holiday weekend. I have been stuck with a computer that decided it no longer wanted to recognize any such thing as this newfangled "INTERNET" and pulling my hair out waiting to hear back on a sweet gig at an awesome local company. . .because yes, I need yet another job.

BUT I GOT IT!!! So now I'll be working 9:30am-3:30pm for The Man, Monday through Friday. I will also be wrapping up my thesis, compiling my data and actually writing my thesis, continuing to work for Mr. Artist Boss Man aka Kevin Greer and. . .you don't really care about my schedule, do you?

It's okay. I'll just drink my milk over here and pretend that you care. (Hey, it's important to prevent osteoporosis kids.) Perhaps you'd be more interested in hearing about my very first tailgaiting experience from UT's opening season game last Saturday, wherein I fell asleep sitting on a cooler, drooled on my arm and got massively sunburned across my back and shoulders.

Hey, we can't be pure sex all the time; but we try for you, faithful readers- we try for you. Additionally, that photo there (taken from Sixth Street adventures* I embarked on Friday night with some out-of-town visiting friends) reminds me of an important announcement that I have yet to make on this here blog:


Ahem. Just thought you should know. In case you wanted to buy me some Ray-Ban wayfarers. Or a pony. Or seasons 2.0, 2.5 or 4.5 of Battlestar Galactica. Or a Disco Deer. Or a case of Sophies. Or the entire Outlander book series by Diana Gabaldon. Or any and all Viking Time-Travel romance novels by Sandra Hill. Or a mastiff.

I'm sure I'd be able to hide a mastiff inside this apartment without my management ever finding out. They are such tiny and delicate creatures.

Look for more cousin adventures to come- I'm sure AC1 has loads of updating to do about her trip to Taos. And I've finally resolved my problems with AT&T, so you can look forward to me not bitching about that anymore.


*Sixth Street is the resident Drunk Street of Austin- the Aquatic Cousins recommend you go mostly for the people watching and cheap drinks and then move on to classier places to hang out for a more better time.