TBR Challenge: Saddled and Spurred by Lorelei James

Format: Trade paperback
Pub Date: March 2011
Publisher: Signet
Length: 328 pages
FTC: received at a signing at RT

Late again... but I have an excuse this time. I was on vacation with no access to the internet.

The theme this month was western, and since historical westerns are my least favorite genre, I picked a contemporary that I received at this year's RT Convention. I figured that it's better to whittle from the top, considering how many books I brought home from that trip that ended up languishing in the TBR.

I normally love Lorelei James. Her books are spicy, but always seem to have some excellent characters with real emotion, real problems... Despite what can often be wall to wall sex scenes, I'm never really tempted to skim.  Unfortunately, that was not the case with Saddled and Spurred.

I can't quite figure out what's wrong with this book, except to say that after reading 150 pages of it, I didn't care to read further. It's just completely uninteresting to me. No memorable characters, no real humor or emotion. Nothing to keep me reading further. Very unusual for this author. It could also be the different publisher, because all of the other ones I've read have been published with Samhain.

I'm not sure if that counts as having "read" the book, but I made it about halfway through before throwing in the DNF towel. But at least it's no longer hanging around the old TBR.


Recipe: Cream Cheese Pound Cake

I've only made one previous pound cake, the Blackberry Swirl Poundcake from Martha Stewart. This one is a more traditional one, and I must say makes THE BEST strawberry shortcake ever. But...the ingredients are fat, fat, and more fat, so save this one for when you want to distribute most of it to the neighbors, family, friends...anything to get most of this cake out of the house because it is addicting and way too easy to make.

1 1/2 cups butter, softened
1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese, softened
3 cups sugar
6 eggs
3 cups flour
dash of salt
1 tablespoon vanilla

Heat over to 300 degrees F. Grease and flour bottom, side and tube of a 10 x 4 inch angel food cake pan or a 12 cup fluted tube cake pan (Bundt®--this is what I used.)

In large bowl, beat butter and cream cheese with electrix mixer on medium speed until creamy; gradually add sugar, beating well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until blended.

Mix flour and salt; gradually add to butter mixture, beating on low speed just until blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Pour batter into pan.

Bake 1 hr 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on cooling rack 10-15 minutes. Remove from pan to wire rack*; cook completely, about 1 hr.

*This is a crucial step that I messed up on. I set mine out to cool on a regular pan and the bottom got a little soggy. There is a lot of residual moisture in the cake, so a wire rack is important!

Hump Day Movie: Man From Snowy River (1982)

[Photo: ©1982 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation]

 This is one movie from the 1980s that I think those of us born in  the late 1970s and early 80s got heartily sick of. It was on TV every time you turned around for decades. But I haven't seen it in a long time, and since it's a Disney movie, thought it might work for something to watch with the boys.

The good news: the makeup screams 1980s, but other than that, it's still very watchable.

My favorite part of The Man from Snowy River, besides the lovely scenery, is Kirk Douglas. I just loved him in anything he ever did. Especially when they gave him a quirky role (or two) in a movie that let him have a bit of fun.

This is a WESTERN. It's set in Australia, but has every genre convention found in just about every western movie ever made. Coming of age, overcoming adversity, falling in love with the boss's daughter...you name it, it's here. The Man From Snowy River is worth revisiting. If only to get that famous film score stuck in your head for weeks.


Hump Day Movie: Thunderheart (1992)

This is one of those movies that surprises you. You think you're going to get a standard thriller with some cultural appropriation, and instead you get a thoughtful exposé on real events that happened during the 1970s in South Dakota.

Thunderheart stars Val Kilmer, Sam Shepard, and Graham Greene. I think this is one of the first movies I ever saw Greene in, and it's definitely the one where I developed my crush on him.

Kilmer plays an FBI agent in the 1970s sent as a liason to an Sioux Reservation to investigate a murder because he is 1/4 Sioux. The problem is that he doesn't identify with his Native American heritage, and to the people on the rez, he's just another white man in a suit. Once he arrives, he discovers that there is far more going on than a "simple" murder. He steps into the middle of a war, and some machinations by greedy people that have turned the South Dakota Badlands into the murder capital of the country.

There is a bit of "Hollywood" to the story, but enough heart remains to make this one of the more memorable Kilmer movies. It's one I recently re-watched on Amazon Instant Streaming, and it's held up just fine. It's also available on DVD for around $6.

It is very violent, however, and more than a little disturbing given the subject matter. If you haven't seen it, you've missed out.


Review: Bedding Lord Ned by Sally MacKenzie

Format: Mass market paperback, ebook
Pub Date: June 5, 2012
Publisher: Kensington
Length: 325 pages (plus a novella in the back of the print version)
FTC: ARC courtesy of the publisher

Part of the magic of Sally MacKenzie's writing can be found in the details. Her humor is the kind that builds. There's the laugh-out-loud outrageousness, too, but it's the small touches that make her books a cut above the pack when it comes to funny historical romance.

In this case, the critical detail is a pilfering pussy cat named Reggie with a fondness for stealing red undergarments.