July 29, 2011

New at H&H: Ruth Langan's Strong Scottish Women

Online today from me at Heroes & Heartbreakers: Strong Scottish Women: Ruth Langan’s MacAlpin Sisters Trilogy. It begins:

"A close friend of mine lives in Vermont. I met her at a castle in the Berkshires while she and her family lived in New York. Many months after we became friends, the two of us discovered we have similar taste in books. Sometimes when I pass along what I consider a great discovery, she’s already discovered the author. Mostly, though, my friend is excited to discover my new discoveries. And since we are both Kindle fanatics, when I learned earlier this month that five of Ruth Langan’s Highland series were bundled on sale at Amazon for less than a ten spot, I emailed her in a flash, adding a link to a quick interview I’d done with the author back in the day that compared romances set in the Scottish Highlands to those set in the American West, and just as quickly she wrote back to say she’d read the interview and downloaded the bundle."

Click here to continue reading Strong Scottish Women: Ruth Langan’s MacAlpin Sisters Trilogy, then post a comment over at H&H.


My Favorite Authors

Back in the day I charted the authors who'd written multiple Desert Isle Keepers. I thought it might be fun to change it slightly. This new chart includes all authors with at least one DIK, and if they have [only] one DIK, they must also have two B+ reads. I may also do another chart of the next rung "down"—one DIK and [just] one B+/multiple B's (think Madeline Hunter), or authors with lots of B range grades (such as MaryJanice Davidson or Calvin Trillin), mostly at the upper end (like Anne Rivers Siddons). I'm also considering a chart of authors with the widest variation of grades, like Catherine Coulter, who has lots of DIKs, but also many D's/F's.

In the chart that follows, if you see this color, it refers to an addition over the original chart, and includes individual books, authors, and the entire "B+" column.

My Favorite Authors
(if only one DIK, than also two B+s)
Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb Born in Fire
Chesapeake Blue
Jewels of the Sun
Sea Swept
Ceremony in Death
Naked in Death
Portrait in Death
Promises in Death
Rapture in Death
Seduction in Death
Survivor in Death
Betrayal in Death
Born in Ice
Creation in Death
Divided in Death
Glory in Death
Imitation in Death
Inner Harbor
Judgment in Death
A Little Magic
One Man's Art
Origin in Death
Playing the Odds
Purity in Death
The Pride of Jared McKade
Reunion in Death
Rising Tides
Julie Garwood The Bride
The Gift
Honor's Splendour
Lion's Lady
The Prize
Rebellious Desire
Saving Grace
The Secret
Gentle Warrior
Catherine Coulter Calypso Magic
Midsummer Magic
Moonspun Magic
Night Fire
The Sherbrooke Bride
The Courtship
Anne Rice Interview with the Vampire
The Queen of the Damned
The Witching Hour
Blackwood Farm
The Vampire Lestat
Anne Stuart Breathless
Ice Storm
A Rose at Midnight
To Love a Dark Lord
Black Ice
Cold as Ice
Kathryn Lynn Davis All We Hold Dear
Somewhere Lies the Moon
Too Deep for Tears
Mary Alice Monroe The Beach House
Swimming Lessons
Time Is a River
Deborah Simmons The Last Rogue
The Vicar's Daughter
The Devil Earl
The Gentleman Thief
Jillian Hunter Fairy Tale
The Seduction of an English Scoundrel
Julia Quinn How To Marry a Marquis
It's in His Kiss
Katherine Sutcliffe Dream Fever
A Fire in the Heart
My Only Love
Connie Brockway All Through the Night
My Dearest Enemy
Christina Dodd My Favorite Bride
A Well-Pleasured Lady
Mary Balogh A Secret Affair The Ideal Wife
The Obedient Bride
The Temporary Wife
Ann Brasheres Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Forever in Blue
Girls in Pants
The Second Summer
Elizabeth Lowell Too Hot to Handle Chain Lightning
Only Mine
Winter Fire
Gail Carriger Soulless Changeless
Linda Howard To Die For Drop Dead Gorgeous
Duncan's Bride
Johanna Lindsey Prisoner of My Desire Man of My Dreams
Once a Princess
Christopher Moore A Dirty Job Bloodsucking Fiends

Whaddya think?

BTW, Goodreads and my tags at Goodreads made this an easy task as I have a tag for Desert Isle Keepers, and separate my B+'s from other B's by star (4=B+, 3=B/B-)


July 28, 2011

New at H&H: Angela Knight's Mageverse Series

Online today from me at Heroes & Heartbreakers: Angela Knight's Mageverse Series: Masterful Men and the Women Who Bewitch Them. It begins:

"Earlier this month the writer Lev Grossman wrote a piece for Time entitled How Harry Potter Became the Boy Who Lived Forever. Grossman, who in addition to his duties writing about technology at Time writes fantasy novels—The Magicians, to be followed by The Magician King in August, was a big success a couple of years ago—tackled the misunderstood world of Fan Fiction, which he describes as 'what literature might look like if it were reinvented from scratch after a nuclear apocalypse by a band of brilliant pop-culture junkies trapped in a sealed bunker,' adding that it 'is still the cultural equivalent of dark matter...largely invisible to the mainstream, but at the same time, it’s unbelievably massive.'"

Click here to continue reading Angela Knight's Mageverse Series, then post a comment over at H&H.




Smart Phone App

Grade: A

How many times are you listening to the radio in your car when a song begins to play that you cannot name or that you'd definitely download if you were at home? Well, it happens to me a few times a week, and I've begun to keep this app open on my phone when driving so I can easily do so when stopped at a light...

Read this short Amazon review in its entirety at Amazon.


Targus 90 W AC Laptop Charger with USB Fast Charging Port

Laptop Charger with USB Fast Charging Port APA32US


Grade: B

Frequent travelers often run out of USB ports. Indeed, I have three USB ports on my Lenovo Thinkpad and at times I need four. When on the road I dedicate a USB port to my USB modem, leaving me with two while often needing to charge a phone, Kindle, and backup/transfer data with flash drives and/or an external hard drive...

Read this Amazon Vine review in its entirety at Amazon.


July 27, 2011

We the People Do Not Consent to the Great Depression On Purpose

I just sent this letter via the Coffee Party's letter-writing tool to my two senators, congressman, and the White House via email. I realize my congressman would just as soon go down in flames, but my senators are not quite as ideologically insane.

Stop holding our nation hostage to pander to extremists.

We do not consent to the world's first Great Depression On-Purpose. We demand a balanced approach to solving our fiscal problems that will not put the entire burden on the poor and middle class. We see through the ransom demands from radical extremists and representatives in Congress who have pledged their loyalty to a rigid ideology instead of the American people.

We will not stand by quietly and bear the entire burden of solving problems that were caused by irresponsibility in Washington and on Wall Street. If you ignore our phone calls and emails, expect to see us in your local offices and at your town halls. One way or another we will be heard and our nation's interest will be served, or, you will lose the privilege of representing us.

Click here to send your own letter.


Rogue Elephants

I've already linked to this from google+ and twitter, but can't stop thinking about it, so I'm going to write about it here. There's an op-ed piece in today's @nytimes by David Barash entitled Washington's Rogue Elephants. In it he writes of the current debt ceiling stand-off between the President and the Republicans. Please click the link and read it for yourself, but here's what interests me, and following that, my question about it:

Barash writes about the metaphor we all seem to be using these days, that it is a classic game of chicken which will end with one side swerving out of the way. The swerver loses, but the crash is averted. But, he wonders, what if the current stand-off is not being played under traditional assumptions? His answer?

"Here’s where elephants come into play. To achieve their mating goals, male elephants will sometimes play games of chicken, with one individual essentially giving the impression that he is crazy and has become an irrational player in a game premised on shared rationality and predictability."

He adds that this tactic tends to work because male elephants "can become temporarily "crazy." When in musk bull elephants "ooze a weird, foul-smelling, greenish glop from glands near their eyes," and behave "with violent abandon, taking risks and defying the basic rules of pachyderm propriety (and also giving rise to the term 'rogue elephant')."

So, what does one do when confronted by a rogue elephant? Brasher suggests avoiding it or shooting it. Avoiding it means no more negotiating, and instead refusing to play the game.

Okay...in theory I get this, but how would President Obama do this in reality?


Men and Sex

The lurid lead-in to Leslie Bennetts' Newsweek article: "The men who buy sex are your neighbors and colleagues. A new study reveals how the burgeoning demand for pr0n and prostitutes is warping personal relationships and endangering women and girls." Is it, in fact, the same argument in reverse for romance novels and pr0n? Actually, I'm not going to get into that, as I think my piece for H&H earlier this year said it all. (Although, Bennetts' piece echoes something I wrote in my article, that being men believe sex workers, be it hookers or strippers, enjoy what they're doing...and with whom they are doing it.) Instead, I'm going to excerpt what really caught my eye in her article, namely...

Buying sex is so pervasive that Farley’s team had a shockingly difficult time locating men who really don’t do it. The use of pornography, phone sex, lap dances, and other services has become so widespread that the researchers were forced to loosen their definition in order to assemble a 100-person control group.

“We had big, big trouble finding nonusers,” Farley says. “We finally had to settle on a definition of non-sex-buyers as men who have not been to a strip club more than two times in the past year, have not purchased a lap dance, have not used pornography more than one time in the last month, and have not purchased phone sex or the services of a sex worker, escort, erotic masseuse, or prostitute.”

Okay, so to recap:

Because they couldn't find enough men who actually don't buy sex, they used criterion including those who visited strip clubs in the last year...but no more than twice and haven't used pornography more than once in the last month. Which means that while these men didn't buy actual in-person sex, they watched it, either in person, online, or in print, just not as often as other men.

Oh, one other thing. Those men who do buy sex say "they would rape a woman if they could get away with it." This is not just the expression of a fantasy; it's what they would do if they could, and I just don't see the reverse from women who read romance novels.

Other quotes that caught my attention, from those men who do pay for sex:

  • “Prostitution can get you to think that things you may have done with a prostitute you should expect in a mutual loving relationship.”
  • “You’re the boss, the total boss. Even us normal guys want to say something and have it done no questions asked. No ‘I don’t feel like it.’ No ‘I’m tired.’ Unquestionable obedience. I mean that’s powerful. Power is like a drug.”

That's enough from me...go read the article yourself!


July 26, 2011

Fresh Meat: Rhyannon Byrd's Rush of Pleasure

Online from me today at Heroes & Heartbreakers

Fresh Meat: Rhyannon Byrd's Rush of Pleasure (excerpted below)


At the conclusion of my Fresh Meat on Rhyannon Byrd’s Rush of Darkness, the seventh in her Primal Instinct series, I wrote about my hope for the series' end sooner rather than later. Turns out that Rush of Pleasure, the eighth in the series, is also the last...and now I don’t know how I feel about that. It’s true that I missed the middle three books in the series, and that there were problems with Rush of Pleasure. But now that it’s over, I kinda wish for more, and am glad that on Byrd’s website she mentions Deadly Is the Kiss, an April 2012 release from HQN about Ashe Granger, a secondary character in the series. It’s somehow a stand-alone, even though Granger figured in at least three of the series’ installments. After eight books in a relatively short period of time, August through April seems a long time to wait, but I can do it.

Please click here to read my new Fresh Meat in full. Feel free to comment on Rush of Pleasure, Rhyannon Byrd, and/or the entire Primal Instinct series at H&H once you've read it.

Click the label for Rhyannon Byrd below for more entries at Toe in the Water, including my review of Touch of Seduction, fourth in the Primal Instinct series.


July 22, 2011

Back to the 80s

Although I didn't vote for this particular video at Save the Internet.com as regards the possible AT&T/T-Mobile merger, it makes the point I can't imagine needs to be made again.

I lived through the 80s, when there was a telecommunications monopoly, when "Ma Bell" was the only option for telephone and long distance service. I also remember that when the Trust Division of the Department of Justice busted the monopoly, prices went down, particularly for long distance. No longer did family and friends "save up" to make the occasional phone call that actually didn't cost all that much, we could call throughout the country at competitive rates.

Obviously I'm against the merger, because anyone with a fraction of a brain realizes that the fewer companies in competition with each other, the higher the price consumers pay...well, except where Apple cuts in so they can screw with the competition all the while screwing the consumer. But because corporations now write our legislation and have thoroughly co-opted regulatory agencies, I think that the merger will likely go through, particularly now that AT&T has bought off progressive groups. But here's a couple of cautionary tales from my personal files...

1) Not long ago my daughter's cell phone died, and we needed to buy her a new one. She was not up for an upgrade, but Verizon had always worked with us in the past because we've been long-time customers and sent business their way. Well, the times they have changed. Forget that there's no longer actual tech support at their company store; I already knew that. But nobody was willing to help me out when we went in to buy her a new phone. Even though they'd just locked us in to another two years service for her a few months ago, we ended up shelling out full price on a phone that would have cost a new customer a fraction of the price. Why? Well, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that Verizon, AT&T, and t-Mobile together control the vast majority of the mobile phone market. A few years ago, when we did quite a few deals with Verizon, it was a different picture. So now, higher prices, less customer assistance...how great is that?

2) We've long been users of DSL; Southwestern Bell, which at one time was part of AT&T, and is once again part of AT&T (funny that, no?) and we live in a major metropolitan area. And yet, for the entire period of time we've had DSL, our service has sucked. Why? Because "we're at the edge" of a service area. For the same period of time we've heard that SWB/AT&T is "upgrading in our area," yet it's never happened. How do I know this? Well, yesterday, after trying to watch yet another buffered video (about the Dale Chihuly installation at the MFA in Boston), I called tech support. I was told: "Your DSL is as fast as it's going to be because you're at the edge of a service area, but we're upgrading in your area." If we lived in the boonies, this would make sense, but we don't.

Think about what the telecom companies have done: They charge tremendous amounts for basic cell service...much higher than you pay for a land line...for diminished quality, and the possibility of brain cancer. Does it really cost them as much as it does to provide service? Well, we know that text messaging represents pure profit to wireless providers, and that's just one service for wireless users. The wireless bill for our three-person family now includes three data plans for three smart phones in addition to a special text fee for Rachael who, like her college pals, texts almost exclusively. I'm thinking Verizon makes a bloody fortune from us, and I can only be happy that we signed her up for a data plan when we a couple of months ago because now Verizon, like the other carriers, has set in place tiered usage fees. They're also trying to eliminate the ability of users like my husband to toggle his phone to his laptop to avoid yet another data plan. They sold us the phone with that as a major feature less than a year ago, yet now they want to reneg on it.

Ain't the lack of competition grand?


July 20, 2011

New at H&H: The Light and Dark of Deborah Simmons

Online today from me at Heroes & Heartbreakers: The Light and Dark of Deborah Simmons. It begins:

"When I talked to Megan about my Hitting the Motherlode article, she suggested I consider writing about Ruth Langan's MacAlpin Sisters trilogy as well as an article—possibly two—about Deborah Simmons, an author I've championed online since 1996.

Perhaps an article about her Regency-set historicals, including The Vicar's Daughter, The Last Rogue, The Devil Earl, and The Gentleman Thief and another on her lengthy De Burgh family series? But what about Simmons' jumping the shark in more recent years, after being dropped by Harlequin before finishing the Medieval De Burgh series?"

Click here to continue reading The Light and Dark of Deborah Simmons, then post a comment over at H&H.


July 19, 2011

Fresh Meat: Janet Mullany's Tell Me More

Online from me today at Heroes & Heartbreakers

Fresh Meat: Janet Mullany's Tell Me More (excerpted below)


Knowing there's a difference between fantasy and reality is one thing, but having reality shoved in your face, even in a fictional setting, is something else entirely. Janet Mullany's Tell Me More is hilarious at moments because Jo Hutchinson is brutally honest, about herself and the people and situations around her. Unfortunately, that honesty, and the absolute explicitness of the author's prose result in a schizophrenic kind of read. The book went from LOL funny in one moment to squickishness in the next.

Please click here to read my new Fresh Meat in full. Feel free to Tell Me More over at H&H once you've read it.


July 14, 2011

Facebook, No...Google+, Yes Please

I think the last straw for me at Facebook was discovering that if I opt out of their automatically linking all my "likes," such as bands, TV shows, etc., my "likes" basically disappear from my Facebook page. It's just the latest intrusive attempt to force me to wade through more and more crap to discover what I really want and need to know...how are my actual friends, family, and acquaintances doing, and what are they up to?

My dislike really began when Facebook removed the personalization aspect of my page, forcing me to go into my left gutter to access third party apps. Then they removed the tabs, so even if I wanted to share my FB friend web with people, I couldn't. Hell, at this point even I can't find it...or my world map of all the places I've been, or particular music I want to share, or anything that I'm guessing doesn't provide FB with a way to make money off of me.

Yes, I can go in and individually shut off the No Doubt updates, along with those from Mad Men, Big Bang Theory, Game of Thrones, James Taylor, and so on. But why should I have to do that, one by one, for each "like?" If FB is going to allow intrusion, shouldn't I be asked to allow it on the front end, not disallow it, individually, for each intrusion I never asked for?

Wow...I don't think I've ever ended so many sentences, let alone paragraphs, with prepositions!

At this point I check FB mail, wish happy birthday, and then get the hell off of Facebook. Most of my posting is done from another locale; links on EW.com, the NYT, my blog, H&H, direct to Facebook without my actually being there. I'm incredibly happy now that Google+ has shown up; my plan is to set up the kind of circles I wish I could on FB...for friends, family, work, acquaintances, politics...and limit who is forced to endure any particular update from me. Why force Diana, a died-in-the-wool conservative, to read my endless NYT links about things that get my progressive dander up? Why post an update about the Border's bankruptcy to all my followers when only those involved in some way with publishing or bookselling give a crap? And why post a link to an article I've written for H&H to family who have no interest in romance or urban fantasy novels?

I've been extending invitations to Google+ to all who ask...all I need is an email address...with the understanding that unless I actually know you in some substantive way, circle joining will not follow. I understand there are burps along the way; it took two invites to two addresses each for my husband and daughter to join, and a friend of mine is having problems having Google+ accept her. But I love the idea of having a place to post without limiting to 140 characters—if this goes as I hope, my Twitter feed will soon cease to have anything personal and solely be about politics and publishing because I doubt Author A or Publisher B is interested in where I checked in for dinner last night using Foursquare— and I'll actually be able to see updates from the people I care about.

My daughter joined, but has no intention of actually using Google+ "until it catches on." My response? "It won't catch on unless people actually use it." I'm making a conscious effort to do that, downloading the Google+ app to my phone yesterday (I used it last night to pull Kevin into my "family" circle on the way to dinner).

If I can convince all family members to join, and can find some way to import birthdays into my calendar, I plan to leave Facebook altogether. Yes, I know you all play games there, but I quit cold turkey about a year ago when I realized what a time suck it was, so if you are growing more and more dissatisfied with Facebook, please consider the Google+ alternative. And if you need an invite, let me know.


July 13, 2011

New at H&H: Hitting the Motherlode

Online today from me at Heroes & Heartbreakers: Hitting the Motherlode. It begins:


"While waiting an hour and a half for Rihanna to perform Friday night at the American Airlines Center (we thought we were getting Cee Lo Green too, but he’s a diva and cancelled half the tour, so now his ab fab song Fuck You has taken on entirely new meaning), I got a wild hair and typed 'Ruth Langan' while playing around with my Kindle phone app. Imagine my surprise to discover that Amazon was offering a bundle of five (count ’em, five) of her Highland books from the 90s for $9.99, including the three I’d read and recommended multiple times throughout the years at AAR—Highland BarbarianHighland Heather, and Highland Fire. After that bit of excitement, which included my purchasing the bundle on the spot, I made a date with myself to later check and see what other 90s Harlequin Historicals might now be available digitally.

"This weekend I hit the motherlode..."

Click here to continue reading The Motherlode, then post a comment over at H&H.


July 10, 2011

iHome iA63 Alarm Clock Radio with Rotating Dock

iHome iA63 App-Enhanced Alarm Clock FM Radio Stereo Speaker System with Motorized Rotating Dock for iPhone and iPod


iPod dock/alarm clock radio

Grade: C

Music for my husband is critical. For that reason and because he uses an alarm clock, I asked him to test the iHome iA63. He did over a period of weeks and deemed it "yet another device that tries to be all things, and does none of them great."

Read this Amazon Vine review in its entirety at Amazon.


July 9, 2011


Nose spray. Check.

Antihistimine. Check.

Sudafed. Check.

Nasal irrigation. Check

Extra strength Tylenol. Check

I went through this entire procedure this morning because I woke up with a full frontal sinus headache, probably because I spent over an hour last evening in the hot wind of Dallas waiting for trains to and fro the Loud concert at American Airlines Center with Rachael.

My observations:

1) Cee Lo Green is the diva my friend Jane declared him to be. We'd bought the tickets because Rachael loves Rihanna and we both love Cee Lo. Until last night, that is, when we learned he'd cancelled his participation in what I think was a fit of pique.

2) I'd like to know more about the art of the modern D.J.; it's more than just spinning and scratching these days. Luckily Rachael's into it, as are college friends, and she says she'll show me a video on YouTube to explain the history from its roots in Chicago in the 1980s. I can't wait.

3) J. Cole, the very likable opening act, has a very interesting background (St. John's on an academic scholarship, where he graded magna cum laude).

4) Rihanna is even more of a dirty girl than I thought she was. At a couple of moments during her performance, she seemed to be giving Dallas a lap dance. And the simulated sex with a female audience member literally dropped my jaw.

5) To call her performance a "concert" is really a misnomer. It was more of a performance, with multiple costume changes and every second choreographed. The only personalized aspect was her referring to "Dallas" several times. I must say, I miss the old days when a concert, even in an arena setting, seemed more intimate and less like a Vegas show.

6) Along those lines, most of the young women in attendance dressed as though they were going clubbing. I cannot imagine wearing stilettos while climbing up and down narrow, high, arena stairs. And given we had to forgo the escalators entirely when a small fire broke out as a result of the pyrotechnics and we were forced to evaculate an hour into her performance, ouch! Back in the day we wore blue jeans, not cocktail dresses! My husband and I are going to a Boz Scaggs concert in September; I'm fairly sure there won't be much bling and many, if any, stilettos in the house.

It was an adventure, to say the least. Rihanna attracts fervent fans with her sultry voice and lipstick feminism. Does she do it for me? I say more singing, less faux fucking.


To Hell with Hits...Let's Go Shopping!

No mourning over the death of my latest H&H article, although I thought for sure somebody would find "...fitting your dainty foot into a glass slipper held by a prince has nothing on learning you have special powers that can stop a werewolf in high dudgeon in his tracks" out and out hilarious. Instead, let's go shopping.

Like every other young woman, my daughter is totally into Vera Bradley. To me her stuff is very hippy dippy, Calico Corner peasant skirty—not something that would appeal to a 2011 audience. But for girls living in dorms, who need their ID, key, and phone handy, they really are just the thing. So when we wandered into the Vera Bradley store so she could buy a larger wallet/wristlet thingie because her new phone is bigger than the old one, I kinda cringed. They were having a sale, though, and the "one for the money" she bought was actually cute.

The more I thought about it, though, the more the idea of not having to figure out what to do with a phone, keys, money, I.D., credit card, and key ring reward cards while running out for a quick errand in the hot summer heat or going to the gym appealed to me. The sale continued when we next visited the store, and we both ended up with purchases, although nothing we bought this time was on sale. She bought the "one for the money" in the print she liked, along with a lanyard to sorta turn it into a shoulder bag, and I bought a "one for the money" I liked, in the same print as the only sunglass case I've found that can fit this pair of sunglasses I have with enormous hinges. She also gave me the "one for the money" she'd been using this past month, and asked me why I ended up with two. The answer well and true? I wanted the wallet thingie to match the sunglass case and her cast-off didn't have a sunglass case to match. Also, I've been on a buying binge, the first in years and years, for the past couple of months, and saw no reason to deny myself.

The binge, thankfully, is over now. My husband asked how it felt to be able to buy whatever I wanted (more or less); he's been on his own binge as well. I told him I loved everything I bought...nothing was a regretful purchase...but that I did not like feeling as though I needed things I clearly did not need. He, on the other hand, was just happy to be able to buy whatever he wanted to buy.

Let's tally it up now, shall we?

  • White topaz earrings—25% off—from the amazing @GottaHaveBling (Ross-Simons) because I wanted needed a pair of day-to-day earrings that were substantial, and real (white topaz is not expensive, but it looks like diamonds; the real cost is the white gold setting).
  • Two Brighton discontinued watches from e-Bay; I've hungered for the chronograph for years (it goes without saying both brand new watches, with tags and boxes, were both less expensive than originally priced at Brighton).
  • A multi-gem bracelet, also 25% off, and also from Ross-Simons. Ever since I first saw that David Yurman Confetti Cuff I wrote about last month, I've wanted to find a more reasonably priced alternative. This cuff is amazing, and according to my jeweler, hand made.
  • Re-set a very large blue topaz yellow gold ring into a white gold pendant on sterling silver chain. I've owned this gorgeous blue topaz for more than 20 years, but what worked when I worked in an office setting no longer fits my lifestyle. My jeweler re-set it as a white gold pendant, used the gold from the ring to off-set some of the cost, and we picked out a very modern sterling chain to go with it. I saw no reason to buy a white gold chain at five times the price. Please excuse the photo; it's blurry, but it manages to display the gem's color quite nicely.

I splurged on a bag for Rachael as well (this bag, on the right, in this color—on your left)...she still can't believe I stopped being austere, but it's fabulous and she now "gets" why fabulous bags are fabulous. We're also doing major work on the house, but I'm not including any of that, because not only are we going to enjoy it, it'll help when the market returns and we can get the hell out of Dallas!

And so ends the Great 2011 Shopping Spree for things I craved, but did not need. When I add it all up—thanks to the terrific sales prices—it's not all that bad, but it's the craving aspect that scared the hell out of me. May I embark on no further sprees for years to come.


July 7, 2011

New at H&H: Girl Power

Online today from me at Heroes & Heartbreakers: Girl Power.

Some time ago Megan Frampton and I developed a list of possible blog ideas for me to write about. The point being: not to rehash too many of the topics I'd written about back in the day of Laurie Likes Books. The list included: Clubbing It, my title for the paranormal nigh clubbing article that went online as "A Party to Die For" in mid-May; several Fresh Meat articles; "Look Me in the Eye," posted June 20th; falling in love while honeymooning; and heroine super powers. I'm struggling with the honeymooning article (can't seem to recall any romances that fit), but just now, "Girl Power," about heroines who develop super powers in urban fantasy/urban fantasy romances, went online at H&H.

I'd love for you to read it, then post a comment over at H&H. Meanwhile, I'm reading Angela Knight's January Mageverse release (I lost track of time in January, but in recent years have read each release right upon publication), then plan to read an arc of her August Mageverse book in preparation for at least a Fresh Meat and very possibly a series overview. Also on tap for today: writing a review for PW of book number four in a series for which I earlier reviewed book number three...and didn't really care for. This time around, though, I'm a happier camper.


Interior Design

Yesterday we met with our new interior designer, and the designated project manager, for the master bath re-do we have planned. A couple of weeks ago we met with two local designers. I passed on the first because while she had great credentials, the amount of money she thought we ought to spend on the bathroom equaled about a fifth of our house's worth. The second designer, who also does contemporary spaces, although ours is eclectic more than modern, also has great credentials, but I felt far more comfortable with her.

A few days after signing the contract with her, she sent out the project manager and his assistant to measure the space and take photographs. Not long thereafter we received three design concepts and some photos. We decided on the concept we liked best, then I began to get additional ideas so that when our Big Meeting happened yesterday, I'd be able to show them what my "ideal bathroom" looks like.

BTW, for those of you interested in interior design, Houzz.com is a fantastic resource...I actually located some of the photos our project manager sent to us for perusal while going through ideas, and soon discovered our designer had 181 photos on Houzz as well. Anyway, on Saturday and Saturday night, because local bathroom showrooms all closed down for the Fourth of July weekend, I created an ideabook at the site that featured the colors I gravitate towards, tub and shower designs, etc.

I was thrilled that they had intuited my design aesthetic and brought wood and tile samples in my color palette, which happens to be sea foam green, and various shades of gray as the neutral influence. As I explained to Rachael, "think Vermont"—the color of the granite you see as you drive the highways that pass through the mountains, with their cutaways of the granite within— and "organic." We plan bowl sinks, a white free-standing tub, but not one with claw feet, a shower with two glass walls that will open up an end of the bathroom, cabinetry that doesn't rest on the ground and includes open areas for that "spa look," and drawer space made for jewelry. All of this meets our design aesthetic but also takes into consideration resale, as we would love to leave Dallas as soon as the housing market picks up.

Here are some photos from my Houzz ideabook:

Master Bath contemporary bathroom

contemporary bathroom design by seattle interior designer
Garret Cord Werner

Tub and shower configuration, though the tile wall is actually our outside wall, with a large window over the tub
XStyles Bath Design Studio contemporary bathroom

contemporary bathroom design by detroit kitchen and bath Tanya Woods

Inset for shampoos and such
Raven Inside Interior Design contemporary bathroom

contemporary bathroom design by vancouver interior designer Claudia Leccacorvi

Rain Shower Head
Cambridge Modern Bath modern bathroom

modern bathroom design by boston architect LDa Architecture & Interiors

Above floor and "open" cabinetry
Luxury Bathroom contemporary bathroom

contemporary bathroom design by new york general contractor Prestige Custom Building & Construction, Inc.

Color Scheme (the lighter gray)
Tribeca Loft modern bathroom

modern bathroom design
by new york architect Ann Marie Baranowski Architect PLLC

Bowl sink...although ours won't be glass, and will be the same oval shape as the tub