Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Pioneer Woman

I love her. If you have never heard of her, please check out her blog:

The Pioneer Woman

Her story is fascinating and funny...and she is living one of my fantasy lives. Anyway, great recipes and advice...and lots of other fun stuff. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Hello, world!

Yes, the following video is me. It is my first "vlog" for "Susie's Blog."

Clearly, I have no experience with recording these things.  :)   Originally, there were about two extra seconds at the beginning (it looks like I start in mid-sentence right now). I don't know what happened to those seconds.  They simply are lost forever now...floating in the great beyond that is cyber space.


I recorded this video very late last night, which greatly contributes to the pale/no makeup/bad hair introduction of myself to all of you. Still, I am not a "girlie girl," and, seeing as how I am exhausted all of the time anyway...well, this is as good as it is going to get right now.  :)

Anyway, here is the first "vlog" titled "What am I reading? #1":

Thursday, January 26, 2012

I love a polite criminal.

So, someone broke into my car last night. He/she broke out a small back window (not the main window) and unlocked the back seat driver's side door. After unlocking the front door, he/she tried to pry out my CD player, but couldn't get it. He/she then took everything out of my glove compartment. Not finding any money, the person decided to leave the scene.

He/she didn't take anything. Not my XM radio (easily taken out), not the CD player face cover (the thing is 10 years old anyway...I mean, geez), none of the paper work in my car, none of the CDs or the books (I have a lot of books in my backseat and trunk that I planned to take to the Friends of the Library today...), none of the books in the trunk (which he/she got into, but gently closed so that I didn't even notice until the police had already left)....in short, nothing.

Apparently, he didn't think to check the small "change" compartment next to the steering wheel...all of my money was there. (Not much...just about $1.50 in change.)

The best part?

He/she locked my driver's side front door before leaving.

I'm sure it was to prevent further crime, you know.

On the less-than-positive side: he/she had really bad body odor, and I had to Febreze and change clothes. Cheers.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Internet woes...and I am a slacker.

So, I was supposed to do a lot of things online this weekend...and I didn't get to do them because our modem completely died. Ugh. Isn't it sad how fast we feel separated from the universe when we can't get online?

Actually, this should have been a blessing in disguise. You see, I had grand plans of getting a lot of dissertation work done. And not having access to the internet? Well, that should have really helped me out. I should have taken advantage of the opportunity and read until I couldn't read any more.

But...I didn't do that. Oh, well.  :) I did read some on Saturday, but on Sunday I just felt no desire to work on anything. It happens.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Just amazing...

The opening scenes of "Amadeus" floor me every time.

Annoying Characters; or, Why I am Unhappy with Wilkie Collins at the Moment

At the moment, I am reading Wilkie Collins's No Name, a book that I plan to use in the last chapter of my dissertation. Granted, I am not very far into the book, but the heroine of the novel, Magdalen, is driving me crazy! She is so annoying, and, if she was real, I would want nothing to do with her. Everything about her is exaggerated, from her commitment to "getting into character" for a friend's birthday play to her annoying relationship with her father and other men. I really want to throw the book against the wall!

I have been trying to think about other characters that annoy me...luckily, the list is short. I never liked Dorothea, from George Eliot's Middlemarch. I also can't stand Catherine from Wuthering Heights (though I must say that this is a fairly recent development). Felix Carstone, from Anthony Trollope's The Way We Live Now, is another one. And, from Dracula in Love, Jonathan Harker. Ugh. There are others, I am sure, but these are the ones that come to mind right now.

I don't mind a character like this, as long as he or she doesn't take up much space...but, as you see from the list above, the characters I take issue with are generally very important to the story. It isn't that I simply don't like them. There is something even more horrible about each of them that goes beyond dislike for me. Oh, well.

The bad news: I still have over 500 pages of No Name to go...and Magdalen isn't going to disappear soon.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

On the shelf soon! The crazy--but gorgeous--William Augustus Bowles.

Check out the abstracts for articles in our new issue! Yes, this is shameless self-promotion, as you will see once you read the abstract for the article on William Augustus Bowles. At the very least, he is a pleasure to look at, even if you don't read the article one day.  :)

Alabama Heritage: Issue 103/Winter 2012

Dracula in Love, by Karen Essex

*** SPOILER ALERTS!!! ****

I finished reading Dracula in Love, by Karen Essex, last night. Overall, I really loved the book. The writing was beautiful and there were quite a few steamy moments! Once I reached the end, however, I just felt that things fell apart and I was a bit disappointed. There are two basic reasons for my disappointment: 1) I don't think that it is reasonable or realistic that Mina makes the choice that she does; and, 2) Some of the action in the last quarter of the book just felt so far removed from the tone of the rest of the book.

Essentially, Essex rewrites Stoker's classic tale from Mina's point of view. In doing so, she creates a very sexy version of Dracula that makes us feel more sympathy than horror. There is a new mythology created, and, basically, Mina and Dracula are star-crossed lovers caught in repeated cycles of rebirth and disappointment. There is all kinds of creative license taking place in this book, so if that bothers you then you shouldn't read it. I am not put off by the changes Essex made, but I feel that she sold Mina short in the end. I mean, what woman would return to Jonathan Harker, a man who, in this story, repeatedly commits adultery, forces Mina into an insane asylum, and subjects her to mental cruelty??? There was so much emphasis upon Mina learning who she is and falling for the count...and then that is completely destroyed by the ending. Ugh.

Still, that being said, I still really loved most of the book. So, if you want a beautiful and sexy read, go for it.  :)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Do you like this blog? Then you need to advocate for the rejection of SOPA and PIPA. The proposed legislation will shut down blogs like mine. It will shut down your blog, too. Do you mention companies? Do you link to other sites? Do you post book reviews?  All of these would become illegal due to SOPA. You can be shut down and face other penalties as well.

See my post below with the link to the YouTube Evita clip? The clip of the Hunger Games preview? Yep. In violation of SOPA and PIPA. Am I making any money off of this blog? NO. Is this legislation wrong? YES.

Essentially, by posting book reviews, product commentary, clips freely available on YouTube, and other items, I am giving free publicity to authors. I am not posting full movies on my site. I am not offering links to books pirated from publishers. But under SOPA and PIPA, I am considered a criminal.

To find out more, visit:

Stop American Censorship

SOPA will Kill Your Mom Blog

SOPA Will Take Us Back to the Dark Ages

TechDirt article

BBC article

Question answered

That's right. I just posted a link. Deal with it.

Just because I don't support SOPA or PIPA doesn't mean that I support pirating. Anyone with sense would not support pirating. When I first heard of SOPA, I thought that it was a good idea. But the wording of the law goes way beyond protecting copyrighted material. It places in jeopardy freedom of information, intellectual freedom, and a host of other rights that we should have. Though the bill is couched in language that appears to say that the targets are foreign pirate operations, that is simply not the case. So, contact your congresspeople. Sign petitions. Contact the president. Do whatever you need to do, because we are all in danger of losing freedoms.

And, by the way lawmakers, passing this doesn't have a chance in hell of stopping piracy--and you know it. Stop being pressured by the likes of Hollywood and grow a backbone.

Last time I checked, we weren't supposed to be a communist country.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Finally on the mend...

Wow...all of this has really taken me out. I  have had a horrible time with this sinus infection (I guess that is what it is?) and am still not feeling perfect. At least I am on the road to recovery, though. The problem is that I am catching so many things these days because my immune system is so bad after the round of really strong drugs I had to take while in the hospital with food poisoning in September. I don't think I would be coming down with all of this otherwise. So, my new goal is to boost my immune system--eat yogurt, sleep, eat healthily, exercise, etc. Anyway, that is that.

During my recovery, I have read a couple of books: Marie Corelli's The Secret Power and Kresley Cole's Untouchable (in the volume Deep Kiss of Winter). I updated them to my Goodreads Challenge list, so I am 3 books (out of 50) into it. Yay!

I am now reading Dracula in Love by Karen Essex.

This is another one of those fabulous "bargain" buys I found on the discount aisle at Books-a-Million. It is a sequel/retelling of Dracula through the eyes of Mina. I had seen it before but was skeptical. Also, I never particularly loved Dracula to begin with (I find it tedious), but it was only $2.97, so I said, "Why not?"

And am I ever glad that I bought it! It is very sensual and well-written so far. I was really surprised how it sucked me in (yes...I know...deliberately bad choice of phrase). I am not that far into it, but I LOVE it.

I really need to get back to the dissertation, but until this medication gets out of my system and my head feels back to normal (the antibiotics are killing me), then I don't see the point.

So, that is about it right now. For those of you who are regular readers, please pray for/send good thoughts out to my friend Elizabeth, who is fighting stage 4 cancer. She is having a really rough time and has been hospitalized, which, unfortunately, has stalled out her treatments for a while. So, keep her in your thoughts, please.

Untill next time....

Monday, January 09, 2012

Sick. Ugh.

I have been sleeping away the weekend and today. I have whatever has been floating around out there, and I am sick of coughing! UGH!!! Oh, well. And tonight is the championship game (GO BAMA!!!), but I don't know if I will be able to make it through the game. Disgusting time to be sick.

Other than that, I don't have a ton of news to report. I have (once again) be reflecting upon The Hunger Games and thinking about how much that series means to me. Never in a million years did I think that I would be into those books. I passed them by several times in the store, especially once all of the merchandizing took up as much space as the books. But I am so glad that I read them. I am also very pleased to see that the movie version has a wonderful director and the perfect actress playing Katniss. Jennifer Lawrence, from the EXCELLENT movie Winter's Bone, is playing the part. She is such a strong actress and will be amazing.

Friday, January 06, 2012

A fascinating article from the Jewish Review of Books:

"Why There Is No Jewish Narnia" by Michael Weingrad

I really enjoyed reading this article because it made me think about things I had never realized before now. It is true...where are all of the Jewish fantasy authors? This is a very well-written answer to that question. I look forward to reading his book.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Sleep Helps So Much. Also, here is my 2012 Goodreads Reader Challenge List!

I actually slept last night...even better, I almost slept through the entire night. I had almost forgotten what that felt like. Last night, I was a bundle of emotion and nervousness and anxiety (as usual these days). I crawled into bed around 9:30 and downloaded some relaxation music. The next thing I knew: nothing. I woke up and realized the music was still playing. I cut it off and went back to sleep. It was nice.

I am not 100% by any  means, but I am trying my best to get there. One thing that helps me is to make plans for something that I enjoy. Of course, one of the greatest pleasures/indulgences in my life is reading. So, I joined the Goodreads Reader Challenge. This is a great one because you set your own goals. I don't add everything to my Goodreads list during the year, but this year my goal is to read 50 books. I probably already do that anyway (probably more), but it seemed a reasonable number for me. So, this morning, I made up my preliminary list (which has more than 50, but I wanted to give myself options). So, here is my list. Some are books I need to read for my dissertation or for MyVampFiction, and others are just books that I want to read (in no particular order and subject to change):

1. Doctor Thorne by Anthony Trollope
2. No Name by Wilkie Collins
3. Deep Kiss of Winter by Kresley Cole 
4. Pleasure of a Dark Prince by Kresley Cole
5. Demon from the Dark by Kresley Cole
6. Dreams of a Dark Warrior by Kresley Cole
7. Lothaire by Kresley Cole (not out yet)
8. Heartless by Gail Carriger
9. Timeless by Gail Carriger (not out yet)
10. Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
11. The Lady in the Tower by Alison Weir
12. The Secret Power by Marie Corelli
13. Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens (have read this once...but so long ago...and need a fresh reading for the dissertation)
14. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens (see note above)
15. The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens
16. Shirley by Charlotte Bronte
17. Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell
18. Sons and Lovers by D. H. Lawrence
19. The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy
20. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (again, read this a long time ago...but I need a fresh reading)
21. The Hand of Ethelberta by Thomas Hardy
22. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
23. The Bone Magician by F. E. Higgins
24. Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
25. Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning
26. The Healing Power of Mind by Tulku Thondup
27. Awareness by Anthony De Mello
28. Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis
29. The Castle by Franz Kafka
30. War and Peace OR Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
31. Charles Dickens: A Life by Claire Tomalin
32. The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens
33. The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde by Neil McKenna
34. The Heavenly Twins by Sarah Grand
35. Wormwood by Marie Corelli
36. New York Dead by Stuart Woods
37. Survival in Auschwitz by Primo Levi
38. Stormchasers by Jenna Blum
39. The Beautiful and the Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald
40. Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche
41. Illiad by Homer
42. Chance by Joseph Conrad
43. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
44. The Winter's Tale by William Shakespeare
45. Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare by Stephen Greenblatt
46. Buddha by Deepak Chopra
47. Angel Time by Anne Rice
48. The Confessions by St. Augustine
49. Metamorphoses by Ovid
50. The Four Feathers by A. E. W. Mason
51. The Narrative of Sojourner Truth by Sojourner Truth
52. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
53. Notes from the Underground by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
54. Framley Parsonage by Anthony Trollope
55. The Small House at Allington by Anthony Trollope
56. The Last Chronicle of Barset by Anthony Trollope
57. Christ the Lord: Road to Cana by Anne Rice
58. The Wolf Gift by Anne Rice
59. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
60. The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart
61. Dracula in Love by Karen Essex

Yes, I have some big books in there! The purpose of adding more is to give me some options if I don't want to read Augustine's Confessions, for example. (!!)

UPDATE: Note--the title above that I have marked through have officially been taken off of my "must read" list due to the fact that MVF will be shutting down. I may still read them, but they aren't priority because I don't have a review due. (But I am sure that I will still read the Cole books and Carriger's series. I love them!)

Tuesday, January 03, 2012


I finished Mockingjay last night (the third in the Hunger Games trilogy). I liked it, but I didn't love it. The reason: it felt rushed. Book 2, Catching Fire, is still my favorite. The character development and plot were awesome. In Mockingjay, though, I never felt as connected. Still, bravo to Collins for such a great series!