How do sharks smell? Terrible!

Okay, so I've been staring at this cover for the last ten minutes or so and I'm pretty sure the person on the cover has no nose.

Fortunately (s) he has a gun to hide the deformity.


DocTurtle Reads Romance, Part III

The continuing adventures of a scornful mathematician’s journey through a category romance novel: DocTurtle reads Kathleen O’Reilly’s Sex, Straight Up, Part the Third...see Smart Bitches, Trashy Books for more coverage!

Chapter 6: In Which the Plot Moves Forward Like Napoleon Into a Winter-Wet Russia

The first eye-catcher in this chapter was a comment about one of the O’Sullivan boys’ bar’s regulars: “He [an engineer for the MTA] talked like a professor, carried his tall frame like a professor and had two ex-wives, who wish he’d been paid like a professor.” So do I! Oh, wait...hmm. Fact is, university faculty don’t get paid nearly as much as the general public thinks they do. Don’t get me wrong, we do pretty well, and I ain’t complaining, but not many faculty get into it for the money.


This chapter is distinguished primarily by the Mother of All Plot Twists, in which Daniel’s brother Gabe, undertaking renovations on one of the brothers’ bar’s walls, finds a mid-century engagement ring buried inside the wall. The ring falls into Daniel’s hands (the question he’s to answer: “whose finger does it fit?”), offering him the perfect excuse to track down a jewelry expert of the sort as might be retained by a major auction house.

Of course, this excuse proves unnecessary, as he’s soon tapped to head the team of outsiders tasked with performing an independent audit of Montefiore’s. Poor Catherine doesn’t even have a chance to Google Daniel (although she thinks about it on page 73) before he shows up in her building’s elevator.

Move along, folks, nothing to snark here...

Chapter 7: Our Hero Undumbasses Himself and Places the Ball Squarely in Her Court...No, Not That Again, Not Yet Anyway...Get Your Mind Out of the Gutter, You!


“Don’t talk to me.”

“You need to listen...Please.”

“No, I don’t think there’s anything to say.”

“I should have told you.”

“Yes. You should. I never would have...would have...if you had.”

“That’s not what I’m trying to say.”

“I don’t want to listen. I’ve never done anything like that in my life, and now I’m going to have eto live with it.”

“Catherine. I’m widowed.”

There it is, folks! It’s out! And it’s only page 77! That leaves...[thumbs through book]...[what, this thing has an Epilogue?!]...137 pages to go! Man, what are we going to do for conflict now?

Fortunately for us (but not so for them) this bodacious beau has been hired on to investigate her grandpa, making it unlikely the pair will be able to engage in much carefree nookie. Not to mention the fact that Daniel’s dead wife keeps getting in the way of their clumsy semi-romantic advances.

You should rest assured that by now Maggie’s informed me of the romance novel’s convention of misunderstanding and miscommunication that leads to protagonist conflict. Nevertheless, being a pretty straight shooter myself, I find the game-playing these two are going through to be pretty silly. For sure, I understand that human emotions are fragile, subtle, chimerical creatures, and that very often human interaction is not all that it seems to be. And for sure I understand that love is the most tortuous and tempestuous of all human emotions, and that sometimes it takes a skilled navigator to map a course through its throes. (At this very moment I’m helping a young friend try to figure out just what in the hell this one guy she’s got her eye on is thinking.)

But come on! Sheesh...

I’m sure the SBTB readers will be happy to hear that by the time

Chapter 8: Rolls Around

I’m actually cheering for these two numbskulls (huzzah, Ms. O’Reilly!), which is why their continued attempts to sabotage their own happiness are so damned frustrating.

By now we can add to the list of things we know about Daniel (erenow he was a cut [bodily, not phallically], dark, brooding, mysterious accountant-cum-widower): he’s now revealed to be a nice Catholic boy who loves his mother-in-law, even though he and her daughter were only married for a few months.

Moreover, on page 91 we find I wasn’t far from the mark when I surmised that Catherine’s a dynamite cook, too.

This chapter’s action carries the two to a date at a nice trattoria. A relationship malfunction at an adjacent table allows us to learn a bit more about our heroes’ altruistic characters, and then they skulk off into the lobby of an office building and boink publicly to Barry Manilow. Well, pseudoboink. Or quasiboink. Or whatever. They never make it to the finish line.

“You want an affair? No emotional commitment, no sharing, no ties?” Catherine asks on page 99 after coitus interruptus.

“That’s all I can do.” Oy! Like I said, I’m actually cheering for these two, but my neck is sore from watching the ball bounce back and forth.

Chapter 9: But This Can’t Be Tennis...

...for our hero is allowed a bump, set, and spike of dumbassitude. After his insistence at the last chapter’s close that all he has to offer is sex sex sex, he now asks for Catherine’s help in tracking down the immured engagement ring’s true owner. You can’t have it both ways, partner.

By me, nothing else of considerable interest goes on in this chapter: the couple schlep the ring down to the jeweler who’s most likely to have made it, and just outside this Park Avenue proprietor’s they help a young girl find her way back to her father. (Aha! Mark your scorecards, ladies and gentlemen: Daniel would make an excellent father.)

In the “Oh, And” column we can place a few suspicious e-mails between Charles “Grandpa” Montefiore and the head of one of the rival auction houses: is Gramps in collusion after all? Oh noes!

The chapter’s highlight? Catherine’s mother Andrea’s use of the word “puddleglum.” I’ll take “puddleglum” over “man-man” any day.

Chapter 10: Awkward Moments and Feverish Masturbation

Hey, everybody! It’s the long-awaited Italian Renaissance art reception and auction!

Hilarity ensues when Catherine and Daniel feign unfamiliarity while being introduced to one another by Charles “Grandpa” Montefiore. Well, maybe not hilarity...mild unease, at least.

It’s nothing compared to the torture Daniel goes through in spending the night at Catherine’s side, unable to keep his eyes off of her “silk-covered ass” (“the curves made for a man’s hands”), her “lush bountiful breasts,” and her “nipples perked against her dress.”

After all, “seven years of celibacy took a hard, hard, nail-chewingly hard toll on a man.”

At the day’s end, the couple find themselves lonely and alone in their respective domiciles, Catherine fingering herself beneath her covers and Daniel whacking off in the shower, coming with a “long and anguished roar.”

Hee hee!

“Why would it be anguished?” Maggie asks. “I’m pretty happy when I come.”

“He’s masturbating.”


Sultry Sunday #7 - The weekly "Pop Sensation" crossover

I passed up a few space-age and western paperbacks to find one perfectly suited for ... Sultry Sunday (the weekly "Pop Sensation" crossover)! Enjoy!

Paperback 155: Phantom Books 509 (PBO, 1952)

: Naked Fury
Author: Day Keene
Cover artist: sadly, uncredited

Best things about this cover:

  • Angry mob!
    • "I'm gonna beat him with this coffee table leg!"
    • "I'm gonna pull my pants up to my rib cage and burn the town down with a troupe of my pasty-faced brethren!"
  • The title is pure pulp - fantastic!
  • One of the greatest pieces of Girl Art I own - her face looks insane, but that dressing gown is gorgeous and the way she's captured in crazy panicked motion is very believable.
  • She is giving us some kind of sign with her right hand: "C" ... Uh, Call the Cops? Crazy people are trying to kill me? C-cup!?
  • I thought the big palooka with the awesome left Fist of Fury was wearing some kind of jacket and open-collared shirt ... but then I noticed the length of that jacket, which appears actually to be some kind of robe. At night, it seems, he likes to dress up like Joan Crawford. Is that why the mob is chasing him? Hate crime!
  • "Revenge" is one of my very favorite words / topics.

Best things about this back cover:

  • Too much Fury, not enough Naked, frankly

Page 123~

Malloy speaking:

"You're not tough. You only think you are. If you guys hadn't been chicken, you'd have let me have it out in Reardon's garage. But killing a two hundred pound man who's willing to fight for his life is a hell of a lot different than shooting a drunken cop from a fire escape or strangling a ten dollar tart."

Mmmm, ten dollar tart ...



1st Rule of Phalluses

"Walk softly, and carry a BIG .... sword! In the proper position, of course."

Thanks to Patrick H. for our Phallic Phriday pick of the day! You can always trust wizards to have a knob on the end of their stick.

Side note: Anyone willing to send me a copy of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine? I hear there's a link to the blog and I'd love to see it! I can't get this magazine come hell or high water here in the wilds of the North Carolina mountains.


Chapters 4 and 5

(Note: this is Post 2 of however-many-posts-it-takes-me-to-blog-about-the- books-handed-to-me-by-Sarah-of-SBTB, in which I continue to ponder openly Kathleen O'Reilly's Sex, Straight Up, straight from Harlequin's Blaze line of contemporary romance novels. Enjoy!)

Chapter 4: In Which Our Hero Is a Dumbass

I lost count of the number of times these two had sex (not counting the once in Chapter 3) about five pages into the chapter...three? Four? No, on recounting, it’s only three. It seemed like more. This guy could put Peter North to shame.

Best/worst line: “And he drilled inside her slick heat, until his mind was black, until his eyes were blind, because his body needed this.”

Drill, baby, drill.

The chapter builds to an exciting climax (yeah, yeah) at the top of page 52 as Daniel prepares to return to the city:
A wedding ring.

Okay, that explained it. Catherine ignored the shooting pains radiating up from her gut to somewhere near her heart.
Having only reluctantly embarked on this sex-filled weekend away in the first place, Daniel decides to take the easy road back to widower’s celibacy and let Catherine assume he’s still hitched, thus ending any possibility that she’ll find him fuckable for the next hundred pages or so.

Admittedly I can’t know what it’s like to lose my wife in the World Trade Center attacks, so I can’t really put myself in Daniel’s shoes. Nevertheless, I’ve always been the forthright type and can’t imagine not saying to the woman I’ve just had sex with four times, “you’re really sweet, and I had a lot of fun this weekend. I’d like to see you again, but I’m still not over my dead wife.”


Chapter 5: The Plot Thickens...or At Least Plods on for Eleven Pages or So

Okay, what do we know about Daniel so far? He’s

a. an accountant,
b. cut,
c. handsome,
d. brooding,
e. mysterious, and
f. prone to waking up at all hours with raging hard-ons.

Let’s hear it for character development!

As this chapter opens we find Daniel hard at work doing accountant-type things, and, moreover, the sort of accountant-type things that got him hot: “Daniel was a partner now, but he didn’t like the management aspect of accounting. He had found his niche in the accounting world –audits—and that was where he stayed.” Indeed we learn in these pages that men do manly things like crunch numbers (“Daniel exhaled and turned back to the tidy world of accounting”) and tend bars and rebuild speakeasies, while women do womanly things like entertain art show-goers (“At the receptions she was supposed to be animated, lively”) and paint.

In order to satisfy the curiosity of the SBTB commenters who expressed some measure of interest, I should point out that at the top of page 60 we’re introduced to a character I might just find attractive: Catherine’s friend Brittany sounds like a bookish goth, “with black leggings, a black T-shirt, and black thick rimmed glasses.” Rrrrowr!

Last, but not least, we’re led on a tour of the cut-throat world of high-end auction houses as the Montefiores' firm goes head-to-head with Chadwick and Smithwick-Whyte. Says Catherine: “Commission structures are state secret, and too variable to be the same.” Wow. Tension mounts (but only for a half-page or so), and Brittany shows us the road Daniel will take back to Catherine’s heart and “opening”: “Tell him you’ll help, go over the books [hint hint audit hint] and show everybody what a crisis they’re making out of nothing. You’ll be the hero. Your grandfather would love it.”

Oh, and by the way, math is hard.


Rising to the challenge, Part 1 of ???

Good evening, all!

After my widely-read and underinformed indictment of the quality of romance novels as a genre, I’ve been challenged by Sarah and her friends at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books to read Sex, Straight Up, a.k.a. Vol. 388 (April 2008) of Harlequin’s Blaze series, whose front cover appears thus:

As a courtesy to my challengers (and all of those who voted to make this particular selection my sentence), I’ve decided to write about each chapter as I make my way through the book and post my remarks here (and send them on to Sarah so that she can do with them whatever she’d like to).

I don’t intend that the sum of my remarks should make up anything at all like a review. Rather, I hope that my random observations might simply provide a rough impression of my view of the book as I proceed. I also hope that those reading these notes will keep in mind that you may likely be far more used to the conventions of the genre than am I and that I’ll as often as not mistake this particular book’s quirks and idiosyncrasies for standard Harlequin formulas, just as I’ll mistake stock formulas for singular idiosyncrasies. Mea culpa, in advance.

Enough yammering! On to the good stuff...

Chapter 1: Diving In

Okay, the story so far: Adonis-like accountant and reluctant widower (wife killed in 9/11) Daniel O’Sullivan, no doubt one of the “sexy O’Sullivans” advertised on the book’s cover, reluctantly removes his wedding ring before reluctantly trudging off to a weekend at a time share with his brother’s law partners. Mission: have fun (code for: get laid).

A few days pass in the space of a line, and hilariously well-educated but unselfconscious auction-house appraiser Catherine Montefiore (a Levantine Lorelei?) spies aforementioned Daniel (whom she compares to Odysseus) on the sand in front of her grandfather’s beach house and proceeds to sketch him stealthily while thinking illicit thoughts to herself, subjecting us to the book’s worst line yet: “There was art, and then there was man art.” (Close runner-up, a page an a half later: “Classical baroque art would have been altered forever if some Hamptons Hussy had turned Odysseus into Mr. Happy-Go-Lucky Melon-Grabber.”)

The conversational style of the prose makes this book refreshingly easy to read. Then again, you get an occasional shot of words no man would never utter: “One woman’s crap is another woman’s soul mate.”

So far I’m not really hooked. Sorry, y’all.

Chapter 2: Three Days Later

I’m back for the next round. It’s gotten better. The prose is a little less pretentious, the dialogue a little more natural. This second chapter actually reads kind of like the transcript of a slightly-awkward first date, and while it’s not particularly engaging it’s believable.

I was pleased by the author’s decision not to make of our heroine Catherine Montefiore a brilliant chef de cuisine in addition to a casually talented sketch artist and expert art appraiser (“all that, and she can cook, too!”) after flirting with that possibility on page 28.

By the way, I wonder if it’s normal that I should find lines like the following one pretty frickin’ hilarious?: “He could feel the heat under his collar, the slow pound of his blood and the push of his cock against what had been a loose pair of shorts until he had found himself fascinated by a set of wistful brown eyes.”

My question for regular readers of the Blaze series: just what is it that distinguishes Blaze books from those in Harlequin’s other lines? Are they particularly torrid?

On to the next chapter...

Chapter 3: Sex, Uninterrupted

Right away the second paragraph delivers a knee-slapper: “She’d been so caught up in the rare moment of being in the close proximity of such a man-man and now she’d blown it.”

What exactly is a “man-man”?

“Manly man?” Maggie asked.

“Nope, ‘man-man.’”

After this it’s a ten-page semi-literal description of a timorous sexual encounter. I was vainly hoping to take in a few laughable euphemisms for the genitalia of both sexes. “Purple-headed warrior” was one of Maggie’s favorites from her many years of reading historical romance. The closest this chapter came to that was “velvety hardness.” Catherine’s girl-part is most elliptically described as “her opening.”

I think that’ll do for tonight.

More to come, folks!


Mammary Monday DVD

Okay, I know it's a DVD, but we actually have this in the library and it's made me and all my colleagues laugh. Some weird kind of man-with-boobies is photoshopped behind a baby. And all this time I thought breast-feeding consisted of: have baby, attach to breast. How wrong I am.

Yum yum!


Sultry Sunday #6 - The weekly "Pop Sensation" crossover

Body fluids ahead .. brace yourselves for a below-the-belt "Sultry Sunday" (from Rex Parker's "Pop Sensation" blog)


Paperback 153: Dell 7733 (1st ptg, 1962)

Title: Seed of Doubt
Author: Day Keene
Cover artist: Clark Hulings

Best things about this cover:

  • "Explosive," "Seed," and a variation of "semen" all on one cover!? That's ... ballsy. Also makes me a little queasy. Oh god, all this seed-talk is making even "Unexpurgated" look pornographic.
  • "You expect that man to take care of that baby!?"
  • "You expect us to believe that that man is responsible for that stain!?"
  • The judge looks like he wants to say "Excuse me, sir, but the fencing class is down the hall."
  • "The pattern of ANATOMY OF A MURDER" - HA ha. High praise. That's like saying "As many pages as THE GREAT GATSBY" or "Set in the same general region as GONE WITH THE WIND"

Best things about this back cover:

  • Cast of characters! With quotes!?
  • "I'd rather see her dead" - I hope he's not supposed to be sympathetic character. "No wife of mine..." - how many does he have?
  • "I loved Eric so much ..." - of course. Women love men who would rather see them dead than see them bear the child of another man.
  • "Who is to say that I was wrong ...?" - nice defense, Perry Mason. I believe This Court is to say, you jackass.

Page 123~

Jenny emerged from the restaurant wearing a tight black skirt and a green blouse under a thin white sweater that accentuated her heavy breasts. She pretended to be surprised to see him.

"You still here?"

Eric continued to pick his teeth. "It would seem. You live far?"

Eric is suave - he knows what all real men know: that there is no surer way to seduce a heavy-breasted lady than to pick your teeth.



Vaginas have teeth, y'know

So I've been asking all of my coworkers what they think is going on with this woman's crotch. My favorite response is, "some kind of giant bug." I, myself, think it looks like dentata. I'm so happy we have this book in our young adult section!!

p.s. I'm happy to see that, although Harry Potter has gotten a sex change, at least he kept the scar (and yes, although it's a little hard to see here, that is a lightning bolt on her forehead).


Thanks the gods it's Phallic Phriday!

My good friend and co-consiprator who shall remain anonymous (but her name rhymes with Tabigail) just bought this book for the library. Why not just write SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX across the cover and be done with it?!?

Guess even underwater they're "happy ta see ya"!


Sultry Sunday #5 - the weekly "Pop Sensation" crossover

Welcome to this week's installment of "Pop Sensation" - A syndicated blogcast:


Paperback 150: Popular Library 60-2299
(1st, 1961)

Title: The Dead Beat
Author: Robert Bloch
Cover artist: uncredited

Best things about this cover:

  • Her face - everything about it screams horror hilarity
  • She looks like she's about to snap her own neck
  • That mouth is So Red that I can only imagine / hope / surmise that this novel involves her drinking blood
  • "My hair! O, why did I ever swim in that stupid, over-chlorinated community pool!"
  • "My robe! It appears to have fallen open to reveal my impossibly spherical boobs!"
  • "My jaw! I can't shut it! How am I even forming this sentence!?"
  • Honestly, I love the design on this cover. The jagged backgrounds, the sickly colors. All gold. I believe the word "shocker" is even being struck by something resembling lightning. Fabulous.

Best things about this back cover:

  • "Did we mention that Robert Bloch wrote 'Psycho'? 'Cause he did. Write 'Psycho.' It's true. 'Psycho!'"
  • "(Remember the author's Psycho)" - um, hey, reviewer from EQMM: the movie adaptation was an international sensation and made a generation of people think twice about getting in the shower. I'm pretty sure folks "remember."
  • "Psycho!"
Page 123~

Then he walked in. Opportunity knocks, but Larry walked in. He knew where he was going.

Did I mention that Bloch is a pretty good writer?



Sultry Sunday #4 - The weekly "Pop Sensation" crossover

Another Sunday, another installment of "Pop Sensation"


Paperback 147: Beacon Books 143
(PBO, 1957)

Shock Treatment
Author: Wright Williams
Cover artist: Peeping Tom

Best things about this cover:

  • I love how she looks - not terrified, but exasperated: "You again!?"
  • Wait - I thought she was in her bathroom and the peeping tom was opening the window shade, but it seems just as likely she's in a hospital with mobile curtain dividers, in which case a. whose arm is that?, b. what's it yanking on?, and c. what is that red cloth? What am I looking at!?
  • "AT LAST..." - HA ha. I was just asking myself, "Why is there no book that explores the borderland between love and perversity?" Now, at last, that void is filled.

Best things about this back cover:

  • "Sure, big Eric was crazy. Crazy about women! And who can blame him? Am I right, guys!? Yeah, you know what I'm talking about ... [amused chuckles from drunk comedy club crowd] ... ah, chicks."
  • Whimsical drawings of cruel medical experimentation. "It'll cure your pervertedness, but ... you're gonna experience some rubber-arm, I'm not gonna lie."
  • Maybe those arms are supposed to represent the gyrations of patients at the "hospital dance" (!?)
  • "Not since Snake Pit ..." - I can't stop laughing long enough to comment on that line
  • "Frankly!"
  • "Passion-wracked!"
Page 123~

Instead of thinking of Katrine as a lovely, attractive girl who had bravely come out of a harrowing experience, I was drawing mental pictures of her in bed with a man married to someone else. It was rotten of me, and I almost welcomed the self-loathing that I began to feel.

Well, we've all been there, right?



Locusts! Frogs!

Gas crisis in NC! Economic collapse! Funny Sarah Palin videos! These are all reasons I've haven't posted recently. But today I noticed a couple of books sitting side by side that simply had to be pointed out to you, my reader, because I know you have just as dirty a mind as I have. So here's what our New Book shelf looked like today (a little early for Phallic Phriday, I know).

Looks like the buildings approve, no?