I’m a Crusader

After hearing about Kristie’s Crusade, I figured I would probably like North and South when I was able to watch it. I’ve had it on hold at the library for months now, just waiting for my turn in the queue. When my turn finally rolled around, I sat down and told myself I’d watch the first of four parts. About four hours later, I finished watching the program.

I loved it. Loved it. No real surprise—I’m a crusader.

North and South 

What a gorgeous program! The acting is terrific—yes, I love Richard Armitage, and Daniela Denby-Ashe does a fabulous job as well. The music is fantastic. Though I only watched the movie once, I can still hear bits of music in my head.

There are some truly great moments, all of which Kristie has covered, but I have to share a few thoughts as well. Armitage does an amazing job of showing how his character falls in love with Margaret—despite the folly of it, the hopelessness he feels. It was beautiful to watch.

The initial proposal was wonderfully memorable. Though I wanted her to say yes, and therefore I sympathized with Thornton, I could relate to Margaret’s discomfort with social situations as she just made everything worse. I don’t think anyone could watch it and not feel the pain of both characters.

Then there’s the amazing moment where Thornton wants her to look back at him as she’s riding out of his life. Honestly, it was difficult not to get a bit swoony about a man who loves that completely.

As for the end . . . I won’t spoil it but will simply say it lived up to the hype.

I wish I could have watched it again, but I couldn’t renew it at the library. More than 80 people have it on hold. I guess word of the Crusade is spreading.

I’m going to buy my own copy so I don’t have to wait another few months before seeing it again.

At Last

I put North and South on hold at the library months ago, and I finally reached the top of the queue. So here’s what I’m watching this week.

North and South

I’ll keep you posted.


I’m still among the living; I’ve just been taking a much-needed break from blogging. I’ve been doing some fun reading. :)

My priorities have shifted a bit. I’m doing the exercise thing, a little writing and reading, going out with friends. After seeing Office Space, I started collecting pieces of flair. Here’s one of my latest finds.

I like it. :)

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

July is always a busy month at work, but the 12-hour days are behind me, at least for now. Since I finally have energy and time, I thought I’d share my thoughts about the new Pirates movie. I won’t go into detail about the plot, but I will give away a couple of things to explain my point, so please stop reading now if you want to avoid spoilers.

First of all, I liked it. There are some terrific funny moments, lots of action, and lots of Orlando–never a bad thing in my book. Overall, I enjoyed the movie and am looking forward to the next installment.

I did have a few problems, though. One of the things I really, really liked about the first movie was the fact that Elizabeth was able to see through Jack. She didn’t dislike him, but she knew what kind of man he was. I loved how she used what she knew about him against him, such as when they were stuck on the island together. Scenes like this made me think of her as clever and astute, two things that made her a heroine I liked.

In Dead Man’s Chest, we see a different Elizabeth, one who is fascinated by Jack and/or the pirate life. You can certainly argue about the level of her fascination, but it’s there, like it or not. In my case, I didn’t like it. I thought it changed her character in a disappointing way. I’m not sure how it will play out, but I’ll go to the third movie feeling a bit cautious, I think.

Then there’s the ending. I won’t go into detail about how this installment concluded, but I can’t call this a feel-good movie. As I mentioned, it was action-packed and funny (with more darker moments than in the first movie), but I was frustrated by the fact that not one thing was resolved by the end. Everything is up in the air. I don’t have a problem with cliffhangers on principle, but I would have felt considerably better about the movie if there had been a tiny bit of resolution somewhere.

Ah, well. I’ll still go see the next movie, but I can’t say I’ll go into it with high hopes. From what I’ve seen online, I suspect my mixed feelings about the movie put me in the minority. Anyone else have similar thoughts about it?

Short Attention Span

I’m having difficulty finishing books these days, and I’m pretty sure it’s not the fault of the books. Instead, I’m busy trying to fit reading in along with everything else I’m doing. The problem is that it’s hard to get into a book when you’re only reading for 15 minutes at a time. It’s hard for me, anyway.

I’ve got a Romancing the Blog column coming up later this week (and some reviews to write!), but after that, I’m going to carve out more reading and blogging time.

On an unrelated topic, is anyone familiar with the UK version of Touching Evil? I’ve seen two episodes now, and it’s a fascinating show. I caught one episode on BBC America and have checked out the first DVD set from the library. I’m sensing a Millennium-like obsession ahead.


I’ve watched all three seasons of Millennium now and thought I’d blog about the program.

Millennium Season 1

Season One
Frank Black is a former FBI profiler with a unique ability to put himself in a killer’s mind. This led to a breakdown, which resulted in Frank leaving the FBI. Now, he and his family, a wife and daughter, move to Seattle to make a fresh start. Chris Carter (creator of the X-Files) created the series.

Frank still uses his abilities as a consultant with the Millennium Group, which includes other former law-enforcement officers. This show is dark, violent, and gory; the first season is especially gory. I found it best to watch one or two episodes at a time. Any more was too much.

Lance Henriksen plays Frank Black, and he’s perfect for this part. He skillfully portrays both a focused investigator and a man who loves his family. I love this combination. Megan Gallagher plays Frank’s wife, Catherine. Brittany Tiplady plays their daughter, Jordan.

This season is my favorite of the three. Favorite episodes: “Pilot,” “The Thin White Line,” “Covenant,” and “Lamentation.”

Millennium Season 2

Season Two
Chris Carter was busy with the X-Files series and movie, so he wasn’t involved much with this season. I ended up liking it the least of the three. There are a few significant changes (spoilers coming ahead; click the beginning of the blank space and scroll over it if you want to read it): Catherine and Jordan move out after Frank kills the man who kidnapped Catherine.

I found it difficult to accept Catherine’s abrupt shift. She was so supportive of Frank’s work before, and now she’s hostile about it. This season also takes a mystical turn. The Millennium Group turns out to be a mysterious group with mysterious agendas. Frank is conflicted about his involvement with the group, and this conflict keeps him separated from Catherine. In the last episode of the season, Catherine dies from a virus that Frank believe was created by the Millennium Group.

Favorite episodes: “Monster,” “The Curse of Frank Black,” “Midnight of the Century,” and “The Mikado.”

Millennium Season 3

Season Three
This season has big changes. Chris Carter is more involved behind the scenes. Frank is now a single parent. He also leaves Seattle and rejoins the FBI. He has a new unofficial partner, Emma Hollis.

I liked the shift away from mysticism and back to Frank investigating crimes. Emma makes a good partner. I miss Catherine, but it is also great to see Frank interact more with Jordan. The actress who plays her does a terrific job, and she has a larger role in several episodes.

Millennium was cancelled after three seasons. The third season finale is one of my favorite episodes, and while it doesn’t resolve everything, it is a nice series finale. The scene near the end where Frank gets Jordan offers one of the most memorable visuals of the series.

Favorite episodes: “Borrowed Time,” “The Sound of Snow,” “Via Dolorosa,” and “Goodbye to All That.”

I enjoy this series very much. Any other fans of Millennium out there?

Back Away from the Computer

I found myself a bit depressed last night, perhaps because I’ve watched eight episodes of Millenium in the past two days. In 2000, I watched a marathon of the series and was fascinated by several of the episodes. I found a used copy (How’s that for irony? Keep reading.) of the first season on Friday and settled in to watch. I’m still fascinated, although I’m thinking I might need to spread out my viewing for my emotional health.

This morning I settled in front of the computer to catch up on blogs. Angie has a column for Romancing the Blog about trading e-books. It’s an intriguing topic and excellent column. Unfortuntely, I got frustrated with one of the responses. Here’s what I replied.

Interesting column, Angie. Especially since I’ve started reading e-books this last year and can relate to many of the points you bring up. I wish there were a way to trade e-books, but I can understand the issue’s complexities, since, as Elizabeth points out, you can trade an e-book and still have a copy.

A few comments about the comments.

To assume that every person who read a loaned or resold book would have bought it or paid the full price is to assume a great deal.

Thank you, Elizabeth, for bringing up this point. Many readers, myself included, frequent the library, especially for books or authors they haven’t tried before. I do the same thing with used books or books I have borrow from friends. In fact, there are several authors whose books I now buy new because I once bought them used: Michele Albert, Mary Balogh, Karen Harbaugh, Jill Shalvis, to name a few.

An author may wish I had always bought her books new, but I suspect she’d prefer I buy some books new than none at all, which is what would happen with many readers like me if we stopped buying used books. If I had all the money in the world to spend on books, I’d be happy to buy all new ones. Since I don’t, I would stick with my autobuy authors if told I had to buy new.

Obviously I have strong feelings about this issue.

(Edited part of my response for length)

It is unethical to resell print books as well as ebooks. It is still the same concept. . . . Technically, you are not just trading paper vs. bits, you are trading a story that a person put blood, sweat and tears into so he or she can make a living.

Doesn’t this same logic apply to anything you buy? House, clothing, jewelry, cars?

I understand authors who feel strongly about wanting people to buy their books new. I really do. But it’s one thing for an author to say she’d like readers to buy books new and another to say it’s unethical to sell a book. (I’m talking print books, not e-books now.)

Anyone else who thinks it’s unethical, do let me know. I’ll make sure I never buy your books used. If you’re lucky, my book budget may stretch to cover buying it new. If not . . . well, take comfort in knowing you won’t be one of those soon-to-be-autobuy authors I discover through used copies.

As I said, I understand why some authors feel strongly about this issue. I feel just as strongly about the fact that I discover many authors through used books that I would never buy new first. Period. There’s a simple reason for this: finances. Surprisingly enough, there are limits to how much I can spend on books if I want to eat and pay my mortgage.

What I don’t understand is why an author would say it’s unethical, even if that’s what she believes. Some things are obviously unethical, but buying and selling used books isn’t one of those things. Using a word like that can alienate your audience, also known as the book-buying public. I suspect that’s why there are a number of “anonymous author” comments on the subject.

I don’t do a lot of experimenting when I buy new books. I used to, but I got burned too many times. However, you’ll see that I bought books from new-to-me authors at the literacy signing. If I like a library book I read, I buy a new copy. And as I’ve already mentioned, I’ve bought books by several authors that I first bought used.

As you can see, I’m getting all worked up about this, which is a problem. And I’m hijacking the comments away from Angie’s topic. So I’m going to back away from the computer, nice and slow.

Maybe I should go make lunch and watch a few more episodes of Millenium.

P.S. Would I have bought the first season of Millenium if I’d had to buy it new? No. But I’m probably going to buy the second season. Damn it.

Abby Cooper, Psychic Eye

Since Medium is one of my favorite shows these days, I was intrigued by the title of this mystery, Abby Cooper, Psychic Eye. Abby is a different kind of psychic than Medium‘s Allison Dubois; while Allison communicates with the dead, Abby’s strength is in giving impressions about the future. During one reading, she warns a woman about a man: “You could be getting yourself into trouble with this dark-haired man.” Weeks later, the woman is murdered.

Abby has never worked with the police before, but she has a blind date with Dutch Rivers, who turns out to be a cop. He’s skeptical about psychics, and she’s paranoid about police officers, but after a rough beginning, they work together to find out who murdered the woman.

I was fascinated by the explanations of how Abby’s abilities work. She can determine lies from truth by hearing a voice in her head saying, “Liar, liar, pants on fire.” And Abby’s predictions are amazingly accurate. The author of the book, Victoria Laurie, is a psychic as well as a writer. This is the first book in a series; I definitely want to read the second.

I did wish there was more romance in the story, but then, I’m a romance reader. And Abby Cooper, Psychic Eye sets the stage for more mystery and romance to come.


A Unique Approach

I suspect that I am not a conventional movie renter. Here’s my approach to renting movies:

Step 1: Start thinking about how it would be great to rent some movies. Then wait until that desire increases 10 times.

Step 2: Go to Hollywood Video (I don’t like Blockbuster) and spend a minimum of one hour selecting movies.

Step 3: Come home and watch one of the movies.

Step 4: Remind myself on day two that I have five days to watch the movies, so I can watch the rest at leisure.

Step 5: Remind myself on day four that I need to watch the rest of the movies so I can return them. Decide I’m not in the mood to watch movies.

Step 6: Watch as many of the movies as I have time for on day five.

Step 7: Return the movies to Hollywood Video even though I haven’t seen all of them OR keep them for an extra five days (incurring a late fee), hoping that I will be in the mood to watch the movies later.

When it comes to step 7, I usually take the latter approach. This time around, though, I went for the former. I’m delighted to say that I made it through three of the four movies: The Heart of Me, Red, and The Forgotten. Napoleon Dynamite will have to wait until next time.

Really Hot!

Really Hot 

Today I have been burning a new candle scent, and it’s now one of my favorites: Grapefruit Blossom. Very nice.

Barely Behaving was my first Jennifer LaBrecque read, and I remember liking but not loving it. I loved Better Than Chocolate . . ., though, so I picked up Really Hot! when it came out in February. It’s part of a series about reality TV. There’s enough explanation that it works well on its own, but it includes a spoiler from one of the previous stories.

I have to admit that I haven’t relished the recent romance trend of reality TV settings. I’m not a big fan of reality TV myself, except for Dog, The Bounty Hunter (which probably says something scary about me). Even that I watch sporadically. I probably wouldn’t have picked up this book if LaBrecque weren’t the author. That would have been a bad thing, because I would have missed a good story: 4 out of 5.

Rourke O’Malley is the star of a new reality series where 12 women will vie for his attention. He was a runner up in a previous show with the opposite scenario, but his good looks and charisma make him an ideal focus for a show of his own. These same qualities also bring him to the attention of associate producer Portia Tomlinson.

Really Hot! uses some familiar elements of romance–a heroine who had only one other lover, was burned by him, and vows not to trust anyone–but LaBrecque breathes new life into the characters. Portia could have been a stereotype, but she’s not. She’s a multidimensional woman.

Rourke is the perfect man for her. Down to earth yet charming, he’s single-minded in his interest in Portia. I enjoyed reading about both characters.

This is the book I’m giving away in this week’s contest. Just post a comment between April 12 and April 17, and you’ll be entered in the contest. (Limit one entry per person.)

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