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25 December 2010

December Top 5: Our Favorite Christmas Shows

At Christmastime, we Broads love to watch Christmas movies and specials.  It puts us in the mood for tinsel and trimmings, and there's nothing like the smiles we get from Ralphie, Miss Piggy, and Opus.  So for our December Top 5, we give you the Christmas shows that make the holiday for us.


Alexandria/Moira

1.  The Year Without A Christmas/A Christmas Story
2.  The Muppet Christmas Carol/It's a Wonderful Life
3.  A Wish For Wings That Work/The Bishop's Wife
4.  Scrooged/White Christmas
5.  National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation/The Muppet Christmas Carol


 

1.  Alexandria:  When I was a child, my favorite Christmas cartoon wasn't Rudolph or Frosty but the one with the Miser Brothers-I'm Mr. Heat Miser; I'm Mr. Sun.  I'm Mr. Heat Miser; I'm Mr. Hundred and One.  I just loved those brothers!  As someone who hates the cold and snow, of course I liked the idea of a green Christmas, but the Freeze Miser was just fantastic too.  Still now, years later, I watch that cartoon and am taken back to when I was just a kid and the special aired each December on CBS. 



Moira:  "My father let out a string of profanity that hangs in a cloud over Lake Michigan to this day...Ralphie's father has always reminded me of my own father in many ways and makes this movie one of my all time favorites.  The narration captured the true excitement, humor, and childhood stress of the buildup to Christmas brilliantly. 




2.  Alexandria:  The Muppet Christmas Carol is my second favorite Christmastime show.  I just love the way this film treats the Dickens' classic.  Michael Caine is fantastic as Scrooge, and the muppets do an incredible job of bringing the story to life in a way only Jim Henson's muppets could. I've always loved that the Ghost of Christmas Present ends up looking like Santa Claus, and there are so many other parts of the movie I just love, such as when the clerks in Scrooge's counting house turn into islanders and sing "This is my island in the sun!" in response to Scrooge's threat after they complain about how cold it is inside and when Miss Piggy makes the toast to Mr. Scrooge, and their daughters sit on each side of her mimicking her, heads bobbing just like their mom's.  "To Mr. Scrooge...who I'm sure will be very merry indeed." 

Moira:  I first watched It's a Wonderful Life when I was around 10-12 years old, and it has been a favorite since.  It helps to put life in perspective. 

3.  Alexandria:  Not many people I know have even heard about my third favorite, A Wish for Wings That Work.  I remember seeing it only once, and thankfully, I had decided to tape (yeah, VHS days!) a bunch of Christmas specials for my daughter that year. (She's 21, so it's an old tape.)  But I still watch it each year and laugh at the incredibly dry humor of Berkeley Breathed.  Some of you may remember his comic strip, Bloom County (I think that's what it was named.).  From that came this holiday special featuring the penguin Opus and his one wish for some wings that work.  But it's not just Opus who makes this show.  There are Bill the Cat, who Opus explains had his brains replaced by tater tots a while back; Truffles, a pig who is having an identity crises and thinks he's a rhinoceros or a water buffalo; three ducks who act like the Three Stooges; and a host of other characters, including one voiced by Robin Williams, a kiwi whose wife Delores has left him for another bird with bigger wings.  "Oh my Delores!" Enjoy a wonderfully quirky take on the Christmas season!





Moira: The Bishop's Wife is another of my all-time favorites.  Carey Grant and David Niven produce the dry humor I find hysterical all while playing a priest and an angel.  Once again, this is a movie to refocus perspective. 

4.  Alexandria:  Another take on the Dickens' classic comes in at my number four favorite Christmas show.  Scrooged is just a wonderfully modern take on A Christmas Carol, and it never fails to put me in the Christmas spirit.  I like that this, just as A Muppet Christmas Carol and the original Charles Dickens' novel stresses a theme that it's never too late to make the necessary changes in your life to alter your future for the better. 


Moira:  White Christmas-Bing Crosby-Danny Kaye in a musical...what's not to like?


5.  Alexandria:  Rounding out my top 5 is National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.  To me, this film is a favorite because it covers all the extremes of the holidays:  exterior illumination, family, and neighbors.  What a combination! But ask anyone who's been around a Clark Griswold type at the holidays what this time of year is like and they'll tell you the movie isn't that much an exaggeration.  But for the Clarks of this world, I say even the overzealous deserve happiness and a damn bonus on Christmas! 



Moira:  Michael Caine makes an excellent Scrooge, and muppets have been a favorite of mine since childhood. It's also a musical, making The Muppet Christmas Carol a double winner for this Broad.








From both the Brazen Broads, we wish you a wonderful Christmas and a joyous New Year! 




19 December 2010

Interview with author Katrina LaCroix

We are happy to welcome Katrina LaCroix, author of Loose Lips Sink Ships, to the Brazen Broads Book Bash today.  To read our review of Katrina's darkly humorous book, click here.  

BB:
  Where did the inspiration for Avery Leigh come from?

KL:  I've come to the conclusion that there are far too many sane characters in fiction, and that's a shame because crazy people are the most fun to read about! I just wanted someone who had no inhibitions, no morals, no restraints to keep her from getting what she wants. That's how Avery was born. Looking at her on the page, the most shocking part about her might be how confident she is despite being completely out of her mind.

BB:
  What is your favorite scene from Loose Lips Sink Ships?

KL:  This is a hard question. I can't tell you how many times I laughed thinking some of this stuff up. I do love the sex scene, but I also love the scene when Avery finds out her younger sister is pregnant. Part of me wonders if Lori's master plan would actually work, the same part of me that I have to keep locked in the attic.

BB:  Do you feel more comfortable writing a female or male voice?

KL:  I do have an easier time writing females, though Avery is about as boyish as they come. For the most part though, I let the character's personality and motivation dictate their words and actions, without getting too deep into questions of "is this how a man talks?"

BB:  Do you plan stories out with outlines or just follow where they take you?

KL:  Although most of the time I do a lot of outlining, I didn't do so much with this one. As you pointed out in your review, this story is largely character driven, and so my goal was to have Avery and Carter bumping heads as much as possible. Most of the aspects of the story that don't directly have to do with their relationship came to me while I was writing it. I always say that it takes one brilliant idea to start a great novel and several more to finish it.

BB:  What are you writing now?

KL:  Now that Loose Lips Sinks Ships is out, I'm currently developing my next idea. Right now I've got this idea bubbling up for a more adult version of The Hunger Games, about a future reality TV show called "The 18 Year-Old Virgin" in which a group of hotties is thrown together in a house until there's only one virgin left standing. Is that a good idea? I honestly don't know. It would probably be filthy, and I'll have to wait for Loose Lips Sinks Ships to let me know if people want to read that sort of stuff.

BB:  Where do you like to write?

KL:  For me, it's not so much where I like to write, but the conditions under which I like to write. Perfect silence. No one around. Not drinking or eating anything. A solid couple of hours to myself. That allows me to get in my head and dig around until I find out what's in there. Most of the time I'm just writing at my desk, though I wish I had somewhere more exciting to write. My dream place to write would be at a frat party, though I doubt I'd do a word of writing. Maybe they wouldn't object if I just showed up with my laptop.

BB:  What's your background? 

KL:  I live by myself in New York City, but I'm actually from Western Pennsylvania. It can get pretty rural out there, and so the cool kids would always rent cabins in the middle of nowhere and do unprintable things. I'm lucky I made it to college, where I majored in Sociology. Basically, I got a degree in talking about my feelings.

BB:  Who are some of your favorite authors and why?

KL:  I love to read, and my favorite authors are too numerous to count. Most of them are completely over the edge in some way, William S. Burroughs, Stephen King, Sylvia Plath. Literature is about using these innocent little words to push the edge of what's acceptable.


Thanks so much to Alexandria and Moira at Brazen Broads Book Bash for having me! Loose Lips Sink Ships is available at Amazon.com and BN.com. I hope you like it!

We want to thank Katrina for joining us here, and we encourage everyone who likes a story with a real brazen broad to read her book.  You can contact her at
katrinalacroix@yahoo.com

14 December 2010

Euphemania-Ralph Keyes: Review and Giveaway

A Book About Why We Speak As We Do

We tend to read a lot of fiction here at the Brazen Broads Book Bash, so it's always nice to get our hands on some good nonfiction books almost as a way to cleanse our palettes sometimes.  Ralph Keyes book, Euphemania,  is the perfect mix of informative yet interesting.  In it, he shares the reasons why we use euphemisms so often in our daily speech. 

The main idea behind the book is that euphemisms are used to make the uncomfortable more comfortable.  Therefore, they're very common in discussions about sex.  One anecdote offered in the book refers to Jesse Jackson's threat during the 2008 election in which he stated he wanted to "cut off Barack Obama's nuts."  Keyes explains that the major news organizations struggled with how to report this, using euphemisms such as Jackson wanted to do something to his sensitive areas.  (It escapes the Broads why they couldn't just say Jackson wanted to castrate him.)

Euphemania is quite enjoyable to read and provides the answer to why some of the common phrases in our language have become so popular.  Often humorous, it's a fun read for anyone who appreciates the English language. 

We were provided a copy of Euphemania for review by the publisher Little Brown/Hachette Book Group, and are fortunate to be able to offer a copy to one winner in our giveaway. 

If you want a chance (or more than one) at winning this very interesting book, here's all you have to do:

For one entry, follow us.  (If you already follow us, leave a comment and tell us you're already a follower!)

For another entry, comment beneath this post.

And for five entries, post about this giveaway on your blog and link back to us.  (Just let us know so we can go visit your blog.)

The winner will be announced on Thursday, December 23 and the name will be forwarded to the Hachette Book Group, which will then send the lucky winner a copy.

Good luck!

11 December 2010

Life In The Slow Lane-Thomas M. Sullivan

Tales Of A Part-Time Driving Instructor, Or Personal Manifesto?.........

Life in the Slow Lane is mostly a collection of Thomas Sullivan's high-falutin' ever-so-progressive ideals; ideals which he implies all lower forms of evolved species (a.k.a. conservatives, rednecks, and those bastard capitalists who drive large SUVs) should embrace.  One example of which is found on page 81.....

".....town reeks of boredom and teenage pregnancy.  This is the type of place where people vote for republicans who don't care about them after the elections....... "

Sullivan spends much of the 166 pages of his book staring down the end of his nose, most certainly clad in hemp trousers, a chai tea concoction (in a recycled cup, no doubt) in his left hand while hugging trees and chanting some mantra about saving bacteria from extinction at the hands of greedy mega-corporations and their damned super-antibiotics - all the while certain that readers actually give a damn about his personal political/social views. 

Expecting a collection of laugh-out-loud anecdotes, this Broad was disappointed.  Sullivan's monologue of his lessons with teen aged drivers lacked heart and humor.  To this reader, the short recitations of the day's random events were mere filler between condescending reflections on those unfortunate souls in his path and the wearying discourse of a so-called "enlightened individual".  Oy Vey!

 star

~Moira

Thomas M. Sullivan's book, Life in the Slow Lane, is part daily goings on of a driving instructor written in the first person and in the present tense, and part screed to showcase his political ideas.  The result is a nonfiction book that too often reads like a lecture. 

The beginning of the book is promising, and this Broad had a few chuckles from it.  Sullivan's pursuit of a part time career in driver's ed is amusing at first.  I have to admit that the present tense format was unappealing to me from the very beginning, but as a writer myself, I allow for the creative choices of others. However, the problems begin before the first half of the book is finished.  Just as Moira had issues with his political stance seeping into the narrative, so did I.  Lines such as this on page 64 when Sullivan is discussing seeing a homeless man on the off ramp can be found throughout the book:  "The money for one botched nose job could house and feed this guy for a month."   While this may be true, I immediately ask, "What did you do to help this poor, lost soul, Mr. Sullivan?"  Or the one on page 76, which alludes to his belief that parents are incapable of teaching their children to drive: "This is one reason why I avoid driving in rural areas.  I don't feel safe when a kid speeding towards me is clueless because Dad diverted his educational funds into a new fishing boat."  Wow.  How supercilious can one get?

Mr. Sullivan's use of logical fallacies is rampant.  He particularly likes the red herring.  When he's discussing how the neighboring state of Washington doesn't require driver's education training and then introduces their spending money on combating West Nile virus to show how his pet issue is being neglected, he commits this fallacy.  This may work in comedy routines, but in this book, it comes off as whiny.

But very possibly the worst of his personal credos is found on page 121 in a chapter entitled, "Schlock and Awe".  "Being a good teacher is easy.  I know, from kids' comments and my past experience, that I'm decent at the job.  It's simple.  You follow one basic rule:  Never ever make a kid feel bad for making a mistake.  Never.  Teaching is the ultimate "do unto others" experience.  If teenagers become dejected while learning, they'll want to stop."  Teenagers can't feel bad or they'll cease to be interested in learning?  This is the mantra of the permissive parent and ask any teacher who has to deal with the darlings people like Sullivan produce just how easy teaching is.  Schlock indeed.

In between political comments and logical fallacies, Sullivan details his daily appointments to teach young Oregonians the fine art of driving.  And his dental appointments, strangely enough.  They interrupt his work narrative and create a dead stop each time, bringing what is often quite dry description of teaching people to drive into the even drier personal diary realm. 

I'm sure Sullivan has many humorous tales about his time as a driver's ed instructor.  Unfortunately, they aren't in this book.  What could have been quite an amusing ride through what is arguably one of the most fertile grounds for humor in education devolves into the author's chance to pontificate on the social ills he sees around him as he drives by during his lessons teaching those who can afford to pay him for a luxury similar to those he so soundly rails against time and again in the pages of Life in the Slow Lane

This book is perfect for anyone who is sure they know it all.  However, this Broad, even with her definite liberal leanings, finds the smug level of Life in the Slow Lane just too high. 




-Alexandria

08 December 2010

Down Home With The Neely's: A Southern Family Cookbook, by Patrick & Gina Neely with Paula Disbrowe

Some Eat To Live.....Others Live To Eat

Pat and Gina Neely, with Paula Disbrowe, share their recipes and their life experiences in their humor filled way.  Pat chronicles his family's humble beginnings and the love filled home he was raised in.  Losing their father at a young age, the Neely boys worked hard alongside their mother to make ends meet.  With their Grandmother's help, the brothers opened their first restaurant on February 29, 1988, and their success story is well known. 

The couple share their love story - which is quite endearing.  It is obvious as one progresses through the book that the couple have a great deal of love and respect for one another, for their girls, and for their families.  Both Gina and Pat share anecdotes on each double page spread along with a recipe or two.  Some are sweet, remembering a favorite Aunt, some informative, and many are seasoned with terrific wit and humor.  There is an additional section on barbecue meats handled by Tony Neely.....and the man knows meat!

The recipes are divided into ten sections including: Hog-Wild - Memphis Style Barbecue; Get The Party Started Neely Style; The Sweet Life - Favorite Desserts; and Southern Libations.  The remaining sections deal with salads, sandwiches, side dishes, and more.  Separate introductions by both Pat & Gina are preceded by a word from Paula Deen.  The recipes offered vary from simple to fairly involved, so cooks of varying experience will find a dish they can enjoy making.  My personal favorite is 'Get Yo' Man Chicken'...Ha! 

This Broad comes from a very large family, and we are always cooking and laughing our way through life, so I absolutely adore this cookbook!  I enjoyed both reading the Neely's book and sampling the recipes from its pages.  Congratulations Neely's on a job done to perfection.


~Moira

04 December 2010

Loose Lips Sink Ships-Katrina LaCroix

Now That's a Brazen Broad..........


Avery Leigh's life is in turmoil after her boyfriend, Carter, breaks up with her, and she determines that by hook or by crook, he will be hers again.  And so begins LaCroix's dark comedic glimpse into the life of a dysfunctional teen aged girl.

From the first, LaCroix writes with unabashed black humor.  Her main character, Avery, is pure malevolence, dealing friends and foes alike her brutal tactics to achieve her goals.  The character works, however, as LaCroix writes a hilarious version of the truly unrepentant bitch.  Avery becomes laugh-out-loud likable throughout the story as the reader discovers the bizarre home environment she must deal with and its effects on her young life.  LaCroix also scores a win - in that Avery, while ultimately remaining a true brazen broad, does grow (just a bit) over the course of her hysterical adventures with her minions....ahem, I mean friends.

Katrina LaCroix's story will not appeal to everyone (maybe not even to most), and this Broad struggles to place it in one genre.  It is assuredly comical, daringly dark, and would probably be best suited in the hands of well grounded women not afraid to laugh at what would happen if the "inner-bitch" were ever loosed upon the world......as long as it never actually happens.  Even though the characters are teens, this book is most certainly NOT for young adult readers.  Likewise, those desiring a tale of redemption, or good triumphing over evil will most likely find Loose Lips Sink Ships a disappointment. Contrarily, Broads who enjoy a chuckle at the (very) dark side of humor will find Loose Lips Sink Ships absolutely brazen.

star
star
 ~Moira

Deliciously Dark

Katrina LaCroix's Loose Lips Sink Ships is a story of characters.  Not tremendously plot driven, the main character of Avery Leigh drives the story to often wild places.  I can't remember any other book that included a scene with a female character chasing down her ex-boyfriend to a cheap hotel and rummaging through a hotel room's bathroom garbage to determine if he had been there.  Avery's singlemindedness in getting her boyfriend Carter back is the central idea of the story.  The other subplots involving the rest of the characters all lead back to Avery's story, but add further dimensions of crazy to the world these characters live in.  But make no mistake:  this is the story of one determined teenage girl. 

I enjoyed Loose Lips Sink Ships tremendously in parts.  The scene with Avery tracking down Carter to his job at the pizza place and her interaction with the teenage boy behind the counter is so funny I had to stop reading because the tears were making it impossible to see.  That the ending is significantly less dark than the rest of the story is my only complaint. 

But where does the story reside in the various genres of literature?  Moira and I agree on this that we don't know.  It's definitely humorous, but it may bleed over into chick lit, possibly.  I can say with certainty that this isn't romance, horror, steampunk, thriller, or mystery.  And it's definitely not YA.  This book wouldn't be appropriate for teenagers. 

In the end, Loose Lips Sink Ships is a funny romp through the teenage world of Avery Leigh and the people who suffer through her determination to reunite with her boyfriend.  Over-the-top, often bizarre, but in many parts funny as all hell, the story is worth reading. 






-Alexandria






01 December 2010

The Man I Should Have Married, by Pamela Redmond Satran

Should Have, Could Have, Would Have.......

Shocked when her husband of ten years, Frank, announces that he is leaving, Kennedy Andrews must pick up the pieces of her life and start over.  With a teen aged daughter in open rebellion, partly because of the separation of the only parents she's known, and in part from curiosity at finding her biological father, Kennedy agrees to help Maya locate him.  When both Maya and Amanda, the younger daughter, visit Frank for a weekend, Kennedy decides to revisit the neighborhood she used to live in with Marco, Maya's father, and then alone with Maya after their breakup.  Walking the changed streets, she hopes to rediscover the bold independence she felt during that time of her life.  But Kennedy gets more than she bargained for when she visits McGlynn's, the restaurant and bar she worked at all those years ago, for her former boss, Declan McGlynn, is still the man that sets her heart a flutter, and he's single. 

Kennedy had loved Declan all the years of their close working friendship, and she knew exactly the charmer he was as well as his love-them-and-leave-them attitude, which is why she disappeared from his life after sleeping with him ten years ago and married Frank.  Now, Kennedy is fairly sure she doesn't want to live her life "playing it safe" as she examines her past choices in response to seeing Marco, Frank, and Declan, the men she has loved and lost.

Pamela Satran's, The Man I Should Have Married, is a wonderful story in respect to a woman re-evaluating her life's choices, second guessing herself as she starts over, and re-discovering the woman within the wife and mother.  Satran blended realistically the mixture of joy at new found freedom, the fear of being alone, and the confusing world of love and sex for the woman re-entering it after so many years.

Satran tackles a difficult subject in this book, single mother/fatherhood, which is a topic I usually don't enjoy reading about; however, once I pushed aside my recalcitrance, I did enjoy the story with a few exceptions.  Maya, Kennedy's teen aged daughter was a bit over the top.  I appreciated her rebellion to a point, (not everyone has the "perfect" child....whatever that means.), but at times I felt like she needed her face slapped. (Maybe not politically correct, but honest)  I would have liked to see Kennedy assume the role of parent instead of friend.  Too often, Satran's main character goes along with her daughter's wishes to "keep her", and I found that disturbing, as this was primarily a story about Kennedy finding strength and taking control of her life, which she does in all areas except with her oldest daughter.  Satran did tone Maya down considerably, and it did somewhat marginalize the issue; nonetheless, this broad wanted Kennedy to command more respect from her daughter.

The main character's love interests, both past and present, were quite different from one another and provided convenient avenues for Kennedy to explore the good, and not so good, reasons why she loved these men along with the effects of her cumulative choices.  Declan and Marco were far more interesting characters than was Frank, something I believe the author intended.  I would have liked to have known Declan McGlynn a bit better, there being a romance between the Irishman and Kennedy, but Satran's focus is primarily on what her heroine thinks, desires, hopes, and fears as she discovers herself anew and builds the life she wants.

starstarstar
 Worth reading, The Man I Should Have Married, by Pamela Redmond Satran is a quirky tale based on the experiences of women beginning anew.
~Moira

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