Monday, November 29, 2010

Christmas Is Coming, The Goose Is Getting Fat.....

The countdown to Christmas has begun! Woo hoo! My daughter celebrated this weekend by purchasing an aquamarine mini-tinsel tree for her bedroom. It's sparkly, it's cheesy, it says...Christmas is coming!

Here are my exciting updates!

1) The Klaus Boys are back! On Wednesday, Dec. 1, I am hosting a party with the five Klaus sons (Nicholas, Sven, Gregor, Wolfie and Oskar). My freebie teaser for Sweet Adventure is available on my website....please check it out and leave a comment for the Klaus Brothers on Wednesday, and you might win a $25 Amazon gift certificate. Merry Christmas!

2) For those of you concerned about my dachshund assured, she has experienced a miraculous recovery. I am giving thanks.....

3) I finished the Amish holiday romance, A Simple Amish Christmas by Vannetta Chapman. It was heading for a 5 star review, until the end, which was too abrupt. Other than that, I found the story very sweet and romantic. And....the hero has a beard! (Well, he is Amish...what do you expect?). I would definitely recommend this one for anyone looking for a sweet, rated G holiday story.

4) Gaby from Oh My Books! gave Sweet Inspiration a great review. "This book is perfect if you want to get in the Christmas's a perfect light romantic read, excellent for Christmas." Yay! I love getting good reviews!

Hope to see everyone on Wednesday...the Klaus boys are a lively bunch!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Get Better, Lucy!

Beware to pet-owners everywhere! My poor, sweet, lovely doxie Lucy almost died yesterday after she ate a tiny bit of mold-infested pumpkin. Evidently, the toxins from this mold can cause a severe reaction in small dogs. Lucy is recovering in the pet hospital, and I am praying she is back home soon. What a bittersweet Thanksgiving Day. Oy. I hope our Christmas is melodrama-free. One of the best parts of my day is snuggling with Lucy before I put her to bed. I missed my fluff-bunny last night. Dogs are good for the soul.

Get Better Lucy!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Penelope's Sunday Update

1.) Spawn of Satan (my Volvo) is finally being laid to rest. Picking up my new car (Acura MDX) tomorrow. Yay!

2.) Finished Hannah Howell reading extravaganza. Read the Wherlocke series (If He's Wild, If He's Wicked and If He's Sinful--the last one was my favorite, a 5 star read!).

3.) Got one of my non-romance reading friends (let's call her "Jasmine" shall we? hee hee) addicted to romance novels. Her favorite so far is To Beguile A Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt. And we're just getting started with this new addiction....

4.) Twas The Night (holiday anthology) was a total dud. Ugh. Why can't I remember I don't like contemporary romance? Why, oh why?????

5.) The movie Morning Glory with Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton was absolutely adorable....I laughed my ass off. Totally recommend it!

6.) Check out this preview for Cowboys and Aliens. Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig together in a movie. Bad-ass-ness-orama! Oh yeah!!!!

7.) I have family coming from Cali, PA, New York, and RI for T-day. So, you won't be hearing from me for awhile...Gotta go shop for some turkey, clean the house, and of course the most important job...get to the liquor store!

Happy Thanksgiving Week to All,

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Is Your Heart Trying To Tell You Something?

email title: This Is A Hot Flash?...sent to some friends on August 2, 2010

"Chest pain, head about to explode, heat and pain radiating down my arms, hands get numb, heat moves over my neck to my jaw, face turns red, dizziness, incredible heat/pressure/pain for 15 minutes until I think I'm gonna die. Holy Mother. I thought hot flashes meant you got sort of hot and sweaty for a couple of minutes. This SUCKS! I get a small one, then it goes away, then another one that's stronger, then it goes away, and they keep building up until I am totally incapacitated and lying on the floor."

One of my goals for the year is to spread the word about heart health. I'll be including healthy recipe ideas on my blog, and also information about recognizing the symptoms of heart failure, tips on reducing heart disease, etc. The message above is an actual email I sent to some friends in August of this year. I mistook my symptoms for early menopause. But it was NOT a hot flash. On August 3, 2010 I had a massive heart attack and was rushed to Beth Israel Hospital in Boston. I had been experiencing these symptoms for 2 weeks and brushed them off.

Unfortunately, many women experiencing chest pain do not realize what's happening to them. They attribute the pain to stress, indigestion, hormonal changes. Heart disease is the #1 killer of women in the U.S. But women are much more likely than men to put off seeing their doctor or to seek emergency treatment. Getting treatment quickly is absolutely critical!

Women's symptoms also vary greatly, which is another reason for misdiagnosis. Here is a list of possible symptoms...(from Women's Heart Foundation)

  • pain, pressure, fullness, discomfort or squeezing in the center of the chest
  • shortness of breath
  • stabbing chest pain
  • radiating pain to shoulders, neck, back, arm or jaw
  • heart palpitations
  • upper abdominal pain
  • nausea, vomiting, severe indigestion
  • sweating
  • dizziness, weakness
  • sudden extreme fatigue
  • panic with feeling of impending doom

I had a hard time articulating my symptoms at first. But I knew something was terribly wrong. I just kept explaining it away.

If you, or any of your friends, family, or acquaintances are experiencing confusing symptoms, please follow up immediately with a doctor. (My doctor appointment was for August 4...I didn't quite make it!)

Women have a tendency to take care of everyone and everything else before themselves. And to ignore their own health. There are no more excuses for me. Taking care of my health comes first every day...taking my meds, going for walks, following a strict heart-healthy diet. I've lost 45 pounds, and my heart has already recovered. I feel incredibly fortunate and blessed.

I am so excited for Thanksgiving this year. All of my family will be here celebrating. I have a lot to be thankful for...great medical care in Boston, amazing support from family and friends, and a second chance. My Thanksgiving dinner will be a big-ass salad (with a little bit of turkey on top!). Nothing tastes as good as being alive!

Hoping for Good Heart Health for Everyone,

Friday, November 12, 2010

Beard of the Day and Hannah Howell Reading Extravaganza!

Oh, boy! I just read my first Hannah Howell book, If He's Wild, and I am hooked, baby! It is part of a cool paranormal historical series called the Wherlocke series, about an extended family all with extraordinary "gifts"--detecting lies, reading minds, seeing ghosts, having visions, etc. etc. Although the book was a bit slow to start, once it picked up I was completely riveted. Howell has created a seriously bad-ass group of paranormal characters. (Oh yeah, the love story is really good, too...hee hee!). I already started If He's Wicked, and next up is If He's Sinful.

Since Hannah is well known for her Highlander series, I thought I would post a kilt-y beard of the day: Liam Neeson, looking rugged and fine in his plaid.

My husband and I are celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary this weekend (belatedly, since our first attempt was interrupted by my stupid heart attack!). We are headed to Vermont, my favorite place in all of the world. Quechee Antique Mall, here I come!

Happy, Happy Weekend!

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Thing About Spanking....

Some things are meant to go together...

Peanut butter and chocolate.

Rodgers and Hammerstein.

Butch and Sundance.

Spanking and pregnancy...uh, not so much. Seriously. Not a good idea.

Second Chances (a contemporary, spanking erotica) has a laundry list of problems, not the least of which is ending a spanky erotica with a pregnancy. The funny thing is....despite all of these problems, I still really enjoyed the book.

First, let's start with the duds....

  • copious grammatical errors--usually the kiss of death for me
  • unlikable heroine...she's whiny and bratty, has a horrible self-image because of her size
  • jarring POV changes; in general, not well-written
  • after a fairly concise storyline, the author decides to throw in a dead baby, emotional meltdown (by hero), marriage proposal, marriage and pregnancy at the end of the book...all that was missing was the dead body in the library
  • the spanking theme crossed the boundary (for me) from acceptable to uncomfortable

In spite of all of this, it also has a wonderful and romantic premise that I adore in romance novels. The heroine is a big girl, and the hero loves her, worships her, protects her, takes care of her, and lusts for her (and spanks the holy crap out of her, too...but let's not go there just yet). After reading Night Play by Sherrilyn Kenyon, I became a fan of "curvy girl" heroines....not all women are a size 2, and I like to see big girls get the guy for a change.

It's not really about the size. It's about the love. Regardless of the hero (or heroine's) flaws (too big, too small, war-injured, illegitimate, unfortunate tendency to turn into a werewolf when the moon is full, etc etc), I want the heroine (or hero) to fall madly, deeply in love, to see beyond the physical imperfections and find the true beauty of her (or his) soul-mate's being. This is a very, very romantic theme, and I personally love it.

Chance, the hero in this story, is a fabulous guy. He is patient and protective; he doesn't let Holly get away with belittling herself, he is sexy and domineering, and....did I mention patient? The freakin' guy waits ONE WHOLE FREAKIN' YEAR to be reunited with Holly after making a stupid mistake. He loves her just the way she is. He is a gem, and the perfect romance hero. (Well, except for the spanking thing....hee hee!).

Now....onto the spanking thing. I love a good fictional spanking as much as the next guy. In my mind, spanking is an extension of the alpha male exerting dominance over his woman...caveman-ish, but also sexy. One good swat on the fanny, then a lusty bout of love-making is always welcome. However, when the spanking crosses over into inflicting real pain....I have a problem with it.

This is my own personal opinion. I realize many folks are digging the whole BDSM thing right now, but in my mind, a true hero doesn't hurt his mate. I'm not really interested in diving into the whole psychological platform for this sort of behavior.

I just don't find hurting someone sexy. That's it. And I definitely think if an author is going to go that route in a book, then there shouldn't be any kids, pregnancies, etc etc. Call me crazy, but BDSM and carpools in the minivan seem like a strange partnership to me. I was about 75% okay with the spanking sitch in this book, but there was one scene that focused a lot on welts, pain, etc that made me cringe.

So, I have a lot of conflicted feelings about this book, but the bottom line (pun totally intended) is that I liked it. I'm giving it a B/B- grade (3.5 stars on goodreads). In spite of all of the problems, I loved the hero, and I loved how much he adores his big, beautiful soul-mate.

Grade: B/B-

Pondering the Prevalence of Paddles,

Friday, November 5, 2010

Beard of the Day

Jake Gyllenhaal strikes me as a very wholesome guy. He is usually very well groomed, and even with a beard he looks like he's about 12 years old, a Boy Scout, and ready to help little old ladies cross the street. But Holy Moly, he sure looks different in the Prince Of Persia film. Wild, sexy, scruffy, and the bod isn't looking too shabby either. (For your viewing pleasure, see photo below....)

The word "beefcake" comes to mind, which is not a term I would normally associate with Jakey. Who knew?

Hope everyone has a great weekend. We continue with the "Year of the Bar Mitzvahs" and my son's first swim meet! Sweet!


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Reading Update: Red-Bearded Heroes, Blue-Faced Vikings and Mistletoe

Nothing brings me more hope, more excitement, more anticipation for a romance novel than....

....finding out the hero has a beard!!!! Hallelujah!

So, imagine my everlasting surprise and happiness when I discovered that the hero for Robyn Carr's A Virgin River Christmas has a beard. And not just any ol' beard, but a full-on, hard-core, lumber jack-style beard.'s red!

(Please take a moment of silence to process this wonderful ditty).

In spite of the fact that I don't love contemporary romance, I am loving this series. The characters are wonderful, the love stories incredibly satisfying, and the setting is rugged, natural,'s a great combination. This book was freaking fantastic! I didn't think Carr could create a better hero than Preacher, but I absolutely adore Ian! He roars like a wounded wild animal, and then gently, quietly feeds a deer from his hand. Swooning here, people. Swooning!

Ian and Marcie's story is perfectly done....their love unfolds slowly and believably as they bond in his tiny cabin. It is wonderful to see how Marcie helps to pull him out of his isolation and introduces him to the world again. Their love is healing, powerful and transforming. The scene at the end of the book when Ian sings in front of the memorial Christmas tree is astounding. One of the best scenes I've ever read. Robyn Carr is a true master of romance.
Grade: A+++++++ (can you tell I liked this one? hee hee.....)

Now, onto a totally different book, The Blue Viking by Sandra Hill. I needed some humor, so I turned to Sandra Hill. Well, I got the humor (Bolthor's poems continue to entertain), but I also got a touching love story. And a nice, lusty one, too. I am totally digging this author. She has an amazing way of blending humor, emotional depth of character, plot and conflict, and lusty loving. If I had a crystal ball, I would predict......more Vikings in my future. Oh yeah!
(My only beef with The Blue Viking was that it started out a little bit slowly. But I'm sure glad I stuck with it!).
Grade: A-/B+

Finally, a real Christmas treat. Linda Banche's Mistletoe Everywhere is an adorable, sweet and satisfying holiday story. I am not a big fan of "The Big Misunderstanding" in romance novels. However, this short story managed to keep me racing through the pages to find out how the hero and heroine would finally thwart the evil aunt's interference and rekindle their lost love. This story is well-written, whimsical and has a lovely and satisfying ending (although I wish their reconciliation had been a tad longer). And best of all, the heroine's name is....Penelope! This is the perfect holiday story....time for tree-trimming, eggnog and maybe a sprig of mistletoe or two!
Grade: A

Happy Reading To All,