Thursday, May 31, 2012

Romance With All the Trimmings

This was all over the place recently and I'm crazy about it.

Usually I don't like big funky proposals because they seem to be all about the guy proving how funny or clever he is and it isn't about the woman. But this one works so differently.

Maybe because you can tell that his parents and her parents are in there. As well as other relatives.

Maybe it's her constant laughter and delight.

Maybe it's the tissue box they put in the back of the car just in case.

Whatever it is, this video delights me and makes me mushy every time I see it.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Meet Grey Malkin

In Mariposa, a little tale written by our own Carolyn, there's a certain character who steals whatever page he's on. His name is Grey Malkin and he's well... in his own words...



So you disappeared after Mari's grandmother died. Mari thought you were dead also. Can you tell us where you went?

No

No? What do you mean - no?

Exactly what I say. Do you expect me to reveal secrets that have been hidden for centuries? Secrets that all familiars are sworn to protect?  I have never understood why humans call cats curious. Humans are more curious by far, and will dare much to satisfy that curiosity.

Well, really, cats are curious too, far more curious than humans, in my opinion.

Ah, but that is a human's opinion. I rest my case.


You have very strong opinions for a feline. Are most cats like you?

You must know they are. However, I must admit I'm a touch above other cats, even those who are familiars. I think it comes from the quality of witch we're assigned to. I've always been lucky that way; the gods can have a capricious sense of humour.

Were you aware of the dragons and other animals in the mountains and their secrets? And if you were, why didn't you tell Mariposa?

Of course I was aware. What Rose knew, I knew. I went to Bonne Terre with her. But some things a person needs to find out for themselves. What use to tell them when they won't even admit there's such a thing as magic? Humans do not have that inherent sense of the world about them, as cats do. No, not even witches.

Do you think Mariposa is a strong witch? Does she have the same strength as her grandmother?

Mariposa is stronger than her Gran could ever hope to be. Why do you think Rose didn't take care of the Evil herself? She would have, if she had the strength. Mari was our only hope. And, of course, she had me to help her. How could she fail?

You weren't the only non-human character that affected the outcome of Mari's story. Do you have anything you want to say about Horace, the donkey, stealing some of your limelight?

In the first place, Horace is a mule, not a donkey. I see no need to insult him, even if he is an idiot. Secondly, he did not steal any limelight that belonged to me. That would be impossible. I am a cat, after all.

~**~**~***~**~**~***~**~**~***~**~**~***~**~**~***

We don't do a lot of giveaways on this blog because generally, nobody enters.

With that said, we'd like to offer a free copy of Mariposa to a commenter chosen at random as long as there are more than three commenters. (And Lea doesn't count because she has a freaking copy!)

So if you'd like to read an extraordinary story, leave a comment about an animal in the comments. The winner will be announced once Mollie decides on one (she's my random chooser).

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Paperback Hero, a Review by Lea


It’s me, back again. Surprisingly, the door wasn’t slammed and bolted from the inside after the last post so I’m taking that as a good sign. Fingers crossed the door stays open after this post :D
I was undecided as to what to do for this post but hit on the idea of doing a movie review but I suppose it will ultimately turn in to a love fest for the Hunk that’s featured. Two birds, one stone, yada yada yada... Let me preface this though by saying that I can’t really write reviews worth a damn but I’ll try.
Although not my all time favourite romantical movie, this comes pretty close. “Paperback Hero” is an Aussie flick starring the very scrumptious Hugh Jackman and the lovely Claudia Carvan. I liked the chemistry between the two leads and found it very believable. They bounce off each other quite nicely and although you can predict what’s going to happen almost from the outset, the journey to reach the final destination is anything but boring.
The premise of the story revolves around the publishing of a ‘romance novel’ – not quite a bodice ripper but close, if the excerpts read throughout the movie are anything to go by. Not very interesting you say? It is when it’s being written by Jack (Hugh), a rough and ready, tough as boots larrikin who drives road-trains for a living.
No-one knows of Jack’s secret and he’s quite happy about that. He’s quite content to let everyone believe he’s nothing more than a lovable truckie, happy to share the cabin of his rig with his best mate Lance – a mutt who fancies himself a Sinatra aficionado. Only problem is now the publishers want to put a face to the name and promote her as the next big thing.
No, not a typo; I meant her. You see, Jack was happy enough to write the stories, using himself and those around him as ‘inspiration’ but he submitted them to the publishers under the name of Ruby Vale. Not only is Ruby not his name, it’s the name of his best friend’s fiancé and a woman he has a ‘I don’t really like you but I don’t really hate you either’ kind of thing with.
Aside from owning the little ‘cafe’ in this no horse town, Ruby flies a crop dusting plane and in the opening scene of the movie, it shows her ‘buzzing’ Jack in his truck, spraying some kind of chemical. She laughs and flies off, he pulls the rig to a screaming halt and curses the day she was born. The tone of the movie is set.
The banter between them as they jibe each other with putdowns and witty retorts does little to hide the fact that deep down you know they like each other. It’s been done before in other movies – the leads start out as frenemies and end up as lovers but I totally enjoyed the ride from A to B in this movie.
There are of course several other characters that each put their own little shine on the movie. Hamish, the docile and lovable vet who’s been engaged to Ruby for several years (you find out why in the movie); Suzie, the woman running the cafe for Ruby, who has a bastard of a husband; Ziggy, the man eating publicist who has come in search of Ruby.
Its Ziggy showing up that starts all the problems. She wants to take the next big thing in romance writing back to the big smoke for a big promotional tour, hoping to make a fortune. Imagine Ruby’s surprise when Ziggy tells her of the plans and she has no idea what’s going on. Enter Jack, who fills her in.
Rather than spoil it for those who want to watch (and I really can’t review without giving it ALL away lol), let’s just say that Jack, Ruby and Ziggy all go to Sydney for the promotion, with Ruby pretending to be herself and it’s here where things come together for the leading couple.
A few drinks, a karaoke version of “Crying” and a frozen turkey all lead to a kiss that reveals the true feelings of those involved. Mind you, it’s a good 30 minutes later before we get to the good bit and the teary ending but you can’t help but sit there and keep fingers crossed that they will wake up and smell the romance. And they do – happy ending. Oops, sorry, spoiler alert! :D
I really do love this movie. Like Muriel’s Wedding and Strictly Ballroom before it, it is so ‘Aussie’ you can’t help but love it. No big CG special effects, no outrageous storylines with monsters and aliens, just basic love stories told from the heart. Sometimes it’s nice to just watch a simple movie and not have to think too much or be bamboozled by all the action happening around the lack of story.
The fact that Hugh was in this movie just made it more wonderful for me. He was perfect for the role. I totally bought the idea of him being a truckie but with a warm and tender side. Putting someone like Russell Crowe in the role would have been just too much and totally absurd.
I’ve been a fan of Hugh’s since before he was really famous, having seen him perform at “Carols by Candlelight” one year in Melbourne. Of course it was only via the tele but I got goose bumps and totally fell in love with him then and there. I love his singing and so when he sings in this movie, well, I got a little teary. I will even go out on a limb and say I prefer his version of Crying over the Divos. It’s true I tell you!!
There are many other things to love about Mr Jackman of course. Good looks and talent aside, he’s a genuinely nice guy, funny, loving and totally devoted to his wife Deborah Lee Furness and their two kids. He also studied here in Perth, at WAAPA – Perth, for those of you who don’t know, is on the other side of Australia, where life does exist outside of Sydney (sorry, pet peeve there).
I also love the fact that he IS Australian, born and raised, unlike some others – namely Russell, Nicole, Mel etc. Sure, we love them too (well, I don’t like Nicole but taht’s not for here) but it’s not the same as having grown one of our own who has now made a name for themselves. If that makes sense.
I’ve loved most of his movies, although I don’t like his look in Wolverine – too hairy lol. Another romantic movie he made that I adore is “Kate and Leopold” with Meg Ryan. Of course he does the action well too but I suppose for me, he’s jsut the perfect romantic lead. I have no doubts he has his flaws but I choose to ignore them.
Anyway, I could go on but I won’t. Don’t forget, the aim of this is to stay in good with the Old Farts, not give them reason to lock that door. Let me just leave you with a couple of piccies, so you can see what I mean about Hugh. Thanks for stopping by.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Then She Found Me

Have you ever watched a movie that was so bad, so inept and so damned awful in every meaningful way that you want to find the director and punch her in the mouth?

If your answer is no, then you haven't watched Then She Found Me.

OMG. I found this on Netflix streaming and it has Helen Hunt playing a religious Jewish woman, Matthew Broderick as the husband that leaves her, Colin Firth as the man she's attracted to and Bette Midler as her birth mother who is famous, a chronic liar and basically a fucking idiot.

This movie was a muddled mess with insulting messages about adoption, families, love.... the only thing it didn't make me mad about was it's depiction of religion but that's almost only because it was touched on in meaningless ways.

Hunt looked anorexic in the movie and I kept wanting someone to feed her. Midler was a parody and I love the woman to death but hated hated hated her here. HATED!

In the movie Hunt's character is adopted and her mother is a cold hearted bitch. Then she dies. Then Midler finds her and tells her a bunch of lies and looks crazy and unrestrained and ick. Then Hunt gets pregnant, baby is not viable and miscarriage, Hunt hates everyone, Hunt treats Colin Firth and his kids like shit but she wants kids, then she demands Midler pay for her IVF treatments while insisting that adopting is horrible and she can only love a child that came from her body and then the movie ends with Hunt and a Chinese daughter.

So what part of this movie was there to like? Oh yeah. Nothing.

As a woman whose mother and sister and daughter all were adopted into families and who believes that family is who you want it to be.... I FUCKING HATED THIS MOVIE!!!  I want it to be unmade, I want the hour and a half of my life back and I want Colin Firth to promise if he ever sees Helen Hunt again he'll slap the skinny bitch silly for putting him in this piece of shit.

That's three thumbs down because I'm borrowing an extra one to pan this crap.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Quickie Giggle, That Damned Dibs

There's a new reviewer over at Dear Author named Kelly and she did a review of a book series about brothers and the reviews are quite funny because the books are obviously nightmarish reads. And right there in book #1 is a brother claiming his interest in a woman by saying, in front of his brothers, "Dibs."

Oh the hate that rolled out from that. "Dibs!" we cried. As if a woman is an apple tart and a man simply picks the piece he wants first. How dare he! How dare a writer write such tripe!

Nora did it too in the Rafe MacKade book.

Just sayin'.

The Witness by Nora Roberts

This is an honest to goodness true copy of an IM conversation between the farts. All references to penises and Spaniards were edited out.


So, did you finish reading The Witness?

Lori says:
 I started it on Wednesday and finished it on Friday

Carolyn says:
 i wouldn't call it a quick read so you must have liked it, 

Lori says:
 I could have read it in one big gulp if there was no child

Carolyn says:
 i did my best to do that, but I have a rather large child
 i'm married to him

Lori says:
 Well, he's just as bad as the 11 year old.

Carolyn says:
 yes, he is sometimes
 So, did Nora fool you?
 She did me

Lori says:
 Gads yes. It's weird that the most recent books I've read bothered me not because of what the writer did but because of what I was afraid might happen

Carolyn says:
 that's what a good book does

Lori says:
 you know, you invest yourself in the book and you think you know what's going to happen and your gut twists planning for it. A good author can do that. A great author takes you to an unexpected place.

Carolyn says:
 I agree. And I fell in love with both the hero and heroine, but especially Abigail, so I was extra worried about her. She was such a combination of toughness and naivety.

Lori says:
 I think one of the most brilliant aspects to Abigail is that she was what most of us were afraid of being. She was unloved, she was outcast, she was other. And she was on her own.

Carolyn says:
 And yet she wasn't defeated, she never said 'why me?

Lori says:
 What I appreciated also was that she understood logically why things happened to her. Although ultimately understanding wasn't enough. She needed to grow away from it.

Carolyn says:
 She needed to learn to trust - I was going to say 'again', but I don't know that she ever did trust anyone, except maybe John, not even her mother

Lori says:
 Her mother was more evil a character than those who wanted to kill her.

Carolyn says:
 I SO agree!!

Lori says:
 There was a lot of subtext about parents.

Carolyn says:
 Didn't I tell you?
 Cruella De Ville!!

Lori says:
 You called her Cruella....

Carolyn says:
 she was
 byatch

Lori says:
 But you had her, you had Sunny (Brooke's mom), you had the hotelier's parents and the Dad with the violent young son.

Carolyn says:
 a cross section

Lori says:
 Even the Russian mob father and Ilya.

Carolyn says:
 omg, the juxtaposition of their relationship struck me even as I was reading
 the sense of 'family' between them
 and the contrast with their jobs

Lori says:
 And why not? I think La Nora really stressed the family relationships in this. But she showed how some people grow into becoming their parents, some don't. And some rise way beyond.

Carolyn says:
 with Abigail, it was certainly nature, not nurture, with the hotel parents too.
 Don't know about Brooks, probably both, 
 He's almost the perfect beta
 a good example of why I love beta heroes

Lori says:
 Brooke was the only character I had an issue with and that was that he lacked motivation.

Carolyn says:
 motivation for what? he was a small town sheriff

Lori says:
 Yes but why did he push himself into Abigail's life? Why did he fall in love so fast?

Carolyn says:
maybe he was bored? it was a small town.
 heh
 he was curious at first, i think
 she'd made herself a mystery

Lori says:
 well it isn't a huge stickling point and it was just Brooke. But it was the only thing that I saw as a sticking point. A small sticking point.

Carolyn says:
 he was like a horse whisperer with her. he saw things in her that puzzled him, he wanted to solve the puzzle and in the process he fell in love

Lori says:
 An Abigail whisperer....LOL!!!!  Thats a brilliant analogy.

Carolyn says:
 he was so careful with her
 and btw
 I hate his name, don't care how famous it it is

Lori says:
 I don't like it much either since I think of it as a girl's name.

Carolyn says:
 omg, 
 could go either way, huh?

Lori says:
 yeah

Carolyn says:
 don't know how to say this well without giving away the goodies, but I loved how the heroine kept control of everything. Nothing resolved the way I thought it would

Lori says:
 I agree. I was so scared of the dog getting killed or the town getting shot up. I thought there was no way to resolve this without people's lives being shattered.

Carolyn says:
 I just couldn't see how it could resolve happily. which is why I’m not a best seller,  .,

Lori says:
 I agree. But there was this other layer to the book that I adored and that was the 'what if it was me?'
 I think that all girls had stresses with their mothers and had a lot of similar angst that 'Liz' did but you couldn't help but read what happened and wonder what would you have done at that age?

Carolyn says:
 I believe at that age, I would have caved
 and ended up a nothing
 She was so strong, so young

Lori says:
 I think many people would have chosen death as the easier way out. She was so admirable.

Carolyn says:
 she was so admirable
 she was so strong
 and I wanted to hug her and tell her she was loved

Lori says:
 But she wasn't and that's what made her so special.
 Because when she finally was loved, it was a wonderful/horrible experience.

Carolyn says:
 I loved her, from the first conversation she had with her new 'friend', in which she took everything so literally and just generally sounded like an Einstein, I loved her
 That's what I meant, I loved her, wanted to tell her that she wasn't alone, I was rooting for her

Lori says:
 I know what you mean. And Nora crafted it so brilliantly at the beginning too with showing a young woman expressing her opinions, not even rebelling, yet having the over the top reaction from her mother that truly created the entire problem.

Carolyn says:
 yes
 I'll never understand women like that mother. evidently she wanted a child only to serve her ego

Lori says:
 Well even Liz understood and said that her mother was incapable of bonding.
 It broke my heart.

Carolyn says:
 her mother was barely human
 more like a machine
 made me wonder about her upbringing
 and yet Liz overcame her upbringing, that to me was miraculous and marvelous and just plain wonderful
 strength - can one acquire it, or are you born with it?

Lori says:
 I think circumstances can bring out amazing things in people.
 And truly, I loved the way that Brookes could hear Abigail, not just what she said but what she meant behind the words.

Carolyn says:
 yes

Lori says:
 He annoyed me sometimes though because he heard her but knew better. Sometimes he heard but he acted in his own best interests.

Carolyn says:
 well, he is a man, they always think they know best

Lori says:
 She needed control and he kept taking it away.

Carolyn says:
 not in the important things tho, Lori

Lori says:
 It was what she needed but maybe done too quickly.

Carolyn says:
 he gave her control of her salvation
 she was in charge of saving herself

Lori says:
 I agree. And the places he respected her the most was in knowing that she knew better with those things. He barreled through with the relationship and although I wished he'd pussy footed a little bit, he did do right by her.

Carolyn says:
 he was what she needed.
 Really.

Lori says:
 Agreed. It was such a satisfying read.

Carolyn says:
 no one would have gotten past her defenses unless they were sneaky, 
 I'm so glad you liked it as well as I did. I put it right up there with Public Secrets.
 Maybe better

Lori says:
 Well I don't have an advanced degree in Nora like you do but this was a great book. I think anyone who loves a well crafted romantic suspense would put it on their 10 best list.

Carolyn says:
 I don't read as much romantic suspense as some, so I have a top 5,  . And yes, it's up there.
 Need to retire

Lori says:
 Ok, well thank you for putting this in our Kindles. I'm going to read the MacKade brothers next. I've a hankering for some Nora alphas.

Carolyn says:
 omg!
 alphas, betas, she does them both well
 I envy you, reading them for the first time.
 read in order

Lori says:
 damn Carol, I really am not a Nora fan girl but when she does it well, she does it amazingly well

Carolyn says:
 i totally agree. This book, well, i can't praise it enough.
 If I were reviewing
 and if I gave grades
 this would be a definite A

Lori says:
 Me too.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Mariposa: a Soft Sell

It's a tough road to be on, trying to sell a book in a market that's full of writers trying to sell their books. And how does one do it and not be obnoxious or pushy or any of those bad adjectives?

Well, if you're our Carolyn, aka CL McCullough, you sit quietly as your book releases and hope somebody notices.

But if you have a short mouthy friend who doesn't understand quiet....

MARIPOSA IS OUT!
BUY IT NOW!!

Mariposa is the story of a witch after World War One in the Appalachian mountains. Her grandmother has just died, she's been having dreams of a dragon who shifts into a man and there just might be an evil hanging around that Mari has to do something about.

IF YOU DON'T BUY A COPY OF MARIPOSA, YOUR PARTNER WILL SUFFER FROM ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION!!

Buy it on AMAZON

Two men show up in Mari's life: a stranger named Huw and a roving photographer Nick. Mari discovers they both have secrets but will their lies prove dangerous to her?

THE THIRD LETTER IN EVERY 45th PARAGRAPH OF MARIPOSA CONTAINS A HIDDEN CLUE FOR WHERE A MILLION DOLLARS AND GEORGE CLOONEY'S UNDERPANTS ARE HIDDEN!

Buy it from Barnes & Noble

Mari discovers the dragon she dreamed is real and the world he's so carefully hidden, needs her help to survive. Now this innocent witch must battle the world's oldest evil and save a people who just might save her own heart.

NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN THE WRITING OF MARIPOSA BUT HANDCUFFS WERE USED FOR VARIOUS REASONS!!!

Buy it from ALL ROMANCE EBOOKS

So this is what what we call a soft sell. Come back later for the hard sell.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Mariposa

Sometimes, when a person is in a place of darkness, when it seems like nothing will ever be light again, a small miracle happens. Sometimes it’s not even recognized as such, but it is because it helps to heal a sorrowing heart. I came out of the darkness of the road, toward the light of my new home and sitting precisely in the middle of the top step was Grey Malkin, a small miracle in his own right.

Some thought him my Gran’s familiar. Others, like Mama, called him evil. Miz Ledbetter pronounced him a heathen and a nuisance because he did have a liking for her fancy chickens. Like all cats, he was dignified except for those occasions he acted silly, and had that air of superiority for which cats are renowned. He’d always been in my life, as far back as I could remember. A very long-lived cat.

He’d disappeared the day Gran died and had been missing ever since. I had thought him dead, eaten by a fox or bear, or perhaps gone to the place familiars go when their witches need them no longer. Apparently the powers that be thought he was still needed. To guide the fumbling footsteps of a very new, very insecure witch maybe?

He was thin, weak from hunger too, though he’d never admit it. He sat on the step he’d made his throne and gave me his disdainful stare. “You weren’t here. I expect you here when I lower myself to come. You will please correct this matter and see to my needs.” He could say quite a bit without uttering a sound.

I’d never treated him with the respect he thought he deserved. He took it all in stride though and was very good-natured about it and never bit or scratched or showed any displeasure.

Mostly he was with Gran. If she was working on a new spell, he’d be curled on the table without regard to her papers, his paws tucked under his body, his eyes half closed. I don’t know what use he was to her. He looked to be asleep to me. When I asked Gran, she said he had lots of good ideas and I didn’t know whether to believe her or not. At night he slept on her bed, and when her illness took her bad, he never left her. Not until she’d left him first and then he’d disappeared. We all mourn in our own way.

I sat down beside him. He ignored me and stared out at the fireflies, the tip of his tail twitching.

“I suppose you’re hungry.”

He distained to answer but shifted his position slightly.

“I missed you,” I told him softly. “I thought you’d followed after Gran.”

He turned his head and I got the full effect of his clear green eyes. “You thought wrong. As you usually do. Did you mention food?”

I laughed softly and ventured one finger to stroke his neck. His cheek pressed briefly against my hand and then he was on his feet, tail high, headed for the kitchen. He stopped once to stare back at me. “Well? What’s keeping you?”

I laughed again and got to my feet.

I fed Grey Malkin the leftover chicken I was planning for my own supper along with a bowl of sweet milk. He gulped it down. I knew then it’d been awhile since he’d eaten. He was usually a very picky eater.

I settled into the rocker, watching Grey Malkin groom himself clean after his meal. When he finished, he stared up at me. Waiting.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

MacKade Reissued

Okay, I admit I've been less than happy with Nora Robert's trilogies, etc, but she redeemed herself with The Witness. That is one heck of a book; nothing happens like you think it will.

Now there is further redemption with the re-release of the MacKade brothers series in ebook at a price point of $2.99. Yes, it's one of them there series, a four book 'un this time, but it was written way back when and the joy of writing shines through them. They've always been one of my favorites.

Now they've got covers to match what's inside. Oh yum - just take a gander.




                                                                                                                               













I've worked damn near an hour trying to get these pics to do what I want. They won't cooperate, damn it! So I'll leave well enough alone and just say that the books are listed in order of my favorite. I could stop with Rafe MacKade and never read another alpha hero!

Aren't they pretty covers?  I love these covers. Sexy and working class (not a Duke amongst the lot!) and every last one of them in jeans. They only need a tool belt to complete the fantasy... and maybe shirtless with a bucket of water and a coke?? (heh, heh)

Anyways, going to try an experiment with the links. You know how me and links get along. I'm going to try to be sophisticated this time, like the real blogs are.  ;-)  Hmm - seems Blogger changed its link thingy too, omg, it's so easy. Y'all are in trouble now, lol.


B&N

Amazon
                                                                  


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Writers and Reviews

I know there have been lots of crazy ass behavior from writers regarding reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, at blogs and elsewhere. Some of that behavior has been complete wtf-ery with giggles galore and some has been excrutiating to see.

It's led to a lot of discussions of how authors are supposed to ignore reviews and reviews are for the readers. There have also been those authors popping up in those same discussions saying that they never check for reviews and would never read them anyway.

Blah, blah, blah.

I love me some reviews. And I'm going to speak for Carolyn and say she loves her some reviews too. It might be because we have that fanfic background and in ff you get feedback throughout the posting of your stories. But there's a lot of other reasons.

This Monday, Carolyn's new novel Mariposa releases. It's been a process for her with the writing, submitting, editing and now.... hooray! It's going to be out. And Lyrical sent out copies to review sites and the first review came in.

Mariposa Review

It's a terrific review. And super exciting because honestly, Carolyn knows that all that work was worthwhile. Someone who isn't her short, mouthy BFF loved her story. It makes a writer feel like they weren't wasting all that time.

But guess what? Books can be forever and sometimes a few years after a release someone finds your book and...

666 Angel Lane

I can't express the joy in finding that someone found this book and loved it. The book is still out there and knowing that someone found it and liked it enough to write about it fills me with happiness.

But Lori, you short mouthy bitch, I can hear you saying, what about bad reviews?

Well, yup, I've gotten them too. And I hate to admit that I love them too. A bad review that's well written can help a writer recognize what they need to work on. Plus, if someone doesn't dislike you then you're just not trying hard enough.

Reviews are confirmation that you're writing what someone wants to read. It's a way to feel like you aren't shouting down an empty well. Any reaction, good or bad, benefits a writer. Smart writers know this and use the reviews as confirmation, learning tools and a pat on the back.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Crackgasmic Craziness

I saw this book mentioned on Smart Bitches ages ago: Her Heart's Desire by Rene Garrod. It's a Zebra Historical (Hysterical) from 1994.

I'm maybe only 15% in and I LOVE this the way I love ice cream (not as much as chocolate but a lot).

So like there's this farm in the 1800s and there's 5 sisters and grandma and the eldest sister Ella has turned down every offer of marriage she's received. And Grandma won't let any of the others marry until Ella gets married so the sisters are getting desperate. Desperate, I tell you.

So they kidnap a man.

Oh yeah. I'm giggling just writing that. They kidnap a stranger because he wears glasses and reads and they think Ella will like him. And yes, he gets hit over the head with a frying pan during the abduction.

Then they bring him home and Ella is horrified but Grandma decides it's a good move and she abets them!

Oh I want to devour this. It's nuts and so damned ridiculous.

I think there's going to be a shotgun wedding and there's a fiancee in New Yawk and a town called Heaven and the sheriff is in love with one of the sisters and I think he aids and abets also and isn't this just too wonderful for words?

This is my day: the sun is shining, the world looks glorious, my daughter's birthday party was a raging success and I have this crackalicious book to read. Oh.... and I'm making Lea do a whole bunch of book covers and shit.

This day is milk chocolate.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Good Heavens!

My characters keep wanting to have sex and I don't want to write it. They're annoying the hell out of me.

Ungrateful bastards.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Confessions From an Arranged Marriage by Miranda Neville

This is going to be a million spoilers and then some so I apologize in advance.

I love the arranged marriage trope so when I saw this book in the TBR pile I gave a little squee. Then I changed my panties and got on with it. (Sorry...)

The thing about this book is that it wasn't a 5 star read because the anticipation that the author was going to fuck up the story kept me from truly enjoying it. I know tht makes no sense but let me explain.

The heroine Minerva is a bright 19 year old who wants to marry a political man and work with him for government reform. Instead she ends up being mistaken for someone else and gets almost debauched and caught by the dreaded Duke of Something or Another (Blake) whom she knows and hates because he is an idiot.

A good looking, charming idiot.

Blake can't read. He isn't stupid as such but he just can't read. Now as a modern woman reading this, I assumed he was dyslexic but back in the time the story takes place in, dyslexia wasn't common and there were no teachers specializing in it.

And then there's the one "friend" who knows Blake's secret and has been blackmailing him with it.

So that's the set-up.

So I read this utterly delightful book waiting the entire time for the author to drop the ball and have the heroine figure out the hero's secret and make it all better.

She didn't.

Not only that but, and this is so amazing and wonderful.... the heroine didn't like the sex the first couple of times they did it! Isn't that wonderful?

Anyway, I wish I trusted that the author was as skilled as she ultimately was. The book ended well but the hero still couldn't read at the end and never was going to. And that was perfectly okay.

In fact, that was better than ever.

I loved this book.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Introducing Lea (Lori's Australian Mini-Me)

The Two lovely Old Farts, (or should that be the lovely Two Old Farts?) have invited me to do the odd post for them and of course I’ve accepted. While subject matter is open to negotiation at the minute – ranging from Hunk of the Week to a book review – we agree it needs to at least be romantical. Wish me luck!

I’ve decided to start with a little about how I met the ladies and a hunk that ties me to them.

Sébastien Izambard is one fourth of the popera group IL Divo, who without knowing it led me to Carolyn and Lori. Before I get to the gorgeous Mr Izambard, let me digress a little.

I was a little ‘late’ coming to the Divo party. They had been around for at least a year before I had even heard of them. I think I might have seen part of their “Regressa a Mi” film clip while channel surfing but didn’t think to stop long enough and see what it was about. If only I had known!

Anyways, it was through a colleague at work that I first listened to them. She had just bought the first couple of cds in and was passing them around the office. I noticed that they did a cover of ‘Unchained Melody’ so asked to borrow the cd. One listen through and I was hooked!

I didn’t understand half of what they were singing – some songs being in Italian, French and Spanish – but I didn’t care. I needed to hear more. Fast forward a little and I decided I needed to put faces to the voices. The covers gave me an idea but I wanted to find out a bit more. I eventually found my way to the official forum for the band and the rest is history.

It was via this forum that I started to read some of the fanfics and even learnt to share some of my own. It was also through reading the wonderful stories of Lori and Carolyn that we ended up friends. I’m not quite sure how it happened, it just seems to have evolved in to what it is now and I’m beyond grateful, for so many reasons.

Now, friends we may be, but our choice of favourite Divo differs here. The Old Farts are fond of Carlos in all his Spanishness whereas I am more partial to the Frenchness of Sébastien.
Truthfully, in the beginning, it might have just been a looks thing but over the years the reasons have changed. He has shown himself to be a happy, forgetful, playful and warm hearted man and the fact that he married an Aussie girl hasn’t hurt at all.

I have no doubts he has his faults and isn’t perfect at all, no-one is. I can only go from what I’ve seen, heard or read and I like it all for the most part. I have to admit I’m not fond of some of his choices in headwear but then I suppose I’m not a hat kind of person, unless it’s a military hat lol.

Since joining the official forum, I’ve written some stories – a couple of full length pieces and dozens of short pieces – and a good chunk of those have Sébastien as the hero. He is probably the complete opposite of how I portray him but then isn’t that what fiction is about – imagination and artistic licence? There is just something intrinsically decent and good about him that appeals to me more than the bad-boy, anti hero type. What can I say – despite Lori’s protestations to the contrary, I’m a good girl at heart :D

So, there you have it. A little about how I came to know the Old Farts and my first ‘hunk’ of the week. Hopefully I will be able to share some choices that appeal to others. Except Lori – I’ve already told her I’m not that much in to muscles.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Last Boyfriend by Nora Roberts






I'm thinking Ms Roberts might consider dropping the trilogy part of her production line and stick to Eve and Roarke and her stand alones. I've seen this book, The Last Boyfriend, described as 'meh' and I'd have to agree. I'm trying to figure out just why this book was written.

The first book in the Inn BoonsBoro trilogy, The Next Always, I sort of enjoyed. I like seeing old historical buildings saved from the effects of time and brought back to life. I don't mind the descriptions of how it was done or how it looked when it was done, at least not too much. The romance had a little danger thrown in; the ghost was a bonus.

This book? I'm still trying to figure out what the story was. The only further on we got with the ghost mystery was the name of her presumed lover - Billy. Everything else was Owen Montgomery and Avery MacTavish wondering about their feelings: sure, I like him/her; sure, I love him/her, but is it the one and only love? Sure we're fucking like bunnies, but it's all physical, I'm sure I can stop anytime I decide to. Blah, blah, blah.

I also think this book swung a hundred and eighty degrees, from the male atmosphere of sweat and macho stuff in The Next Always, to decorating tips and wedding showers and frilly feminine stuff in The Last Boyfriend. I don't care so much for that. In fact, I care so little for it that I only read the first book of the Bride Quartet, Vision in White. I'm pleased to say I did finish it, just as I finished this book, but I was gritting my teeth before I was done.

Speaking of finishes - what was with that ending, anyway? That was the most unsatisfying ending I've ever read. I was reading along, thinking it was going to be finished soon, and then it was, while my eyes were searching for the next sentence, paragraph, page. There was nada. It was like the book finished in the middle of making love. It didn't quite, but that's what it felt like to me. It felt unfinished.

I have yet to figure out several things about the title. Like, what does it mean? I assume Owen is the Last Boyfriend, but why is he? Who were the others? There isn't a plethora of boyfriends running around, past or present. that I can remember. Boyfriends just don't figure into the plot and it's driving me nuts. Maybe it's about the ghost? She's certainly in no condition to acquire a new boyfriend.

If anyone figures it out, please let me know.

And finally, for some reason known only to the inner recesses of my brain, I decided to google the author and discovered the background in these books is true to life. I mean, I knew she owned an Inn, but I didn't know the name of the town or anything else about it. I know now, because it's all in these books, down to the names of the guest rooms. So I guess all the decorating stuff is authentic too.

There's nothing inherently wrong with that, but somehow it made me feel uncomfortable and a little squicky.

Now I'm in a quandry as to whether to try the third book when it releases. I think that one may have to wait for paperback prices.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Motherf*cker

This is my daughter. Her name is Mollie and this Sunday she'll be 11 years old. And yes, for you Americans, my daughter's birthday falls on Mothers Day which has a lovely symmetry to it, doesn't it?

Mollie is the love of my life. I've been her mother for 10 years and 3 months, she was 9 months old the first time she was put in my arms. She was a brave and bold baby and quick to laugh. She was incapable of sleeping in a crib and slept with me from the first week we were together till now.

She says she'll sleep in her own bed when she's 40 and I have a feeling she might not be lying.

To try and explain our relationship I'd tell a story about the third week of our life together. We'd just gotten back home from China after being there for two weeks. The house was cold since we'd had the heat off while we were gone. It was one or two am and we got in bed and tried to warm up and fall asleep but we were cold and jet-lagged and there was no sleeping gonna happen.

So with my 10 month old daughter tucked next to me, I turned on the tv and started channel surfing. Somewhere I found a cartoon and Mollie turned to me and smiled, it was both an affirmation that she recognized what a cartoon was and also a smile that said Look at what we just discovered together.

I know that smile really well by now. We share it all the time from serious conversations about school or friends and those wonderful moments when we find something else that brings us both joy.

For all the years I spent looking for unconditional love, I discovered that it can exist between a parent and child. I would die for Mollie and I know she has terror sometimes when she imagines her life without me in it. (The other night she checked to make sure I was still breathing because she felt I was too still. I told her I've done it with her, it's a thing you do when you love someone.)

So can someone tell me why when I had forms to fill out for my child, it asked what my relationship was and had adoptive parent as an option? I'm not an adoptive parent, I'm a parent. Hell, I'm more of a parent than a lot of people whose sperm or egg was used in the making of a child.

Okay, just a rant. And a moment of joy in talking about my baby girl.

Monday, May 7, 2012

The lure of the Forbidden—bad boys and why we love them.

A Guest Blog by Nerine Dorman


I’ve got a track record of falling for unsuitable males. This is in real life and in fiction. Luckily in real life I’ve had my happily ever after with the bad boy I’ve been married to for more than a decade, but that hasn’t stopped me from flirting with bad men in my fiction.

So far Jamie has been my most notorious bad boy. He’s the star of my Khepera series (Lyrical Press), and has stolen many hearts since I first unleashed him a few years ago. But what makes him so likeable? And how the hell does one write a thoroughly irredeemable character in one’s story without alienating readers?

Good question.

When I set out to create Jamie, I consciously combined all the aspects of his personality that were the absolute worst traits I could imagine. I asked myself, what sort of person would be the sleepy suburb of Fish Hoek’s worst fear? Hence Jamie.

He’s rooted in truth, since my husband and his friends terrorised the suburb when they were teens—a pack of coffin kids who were partially responsible for propagating the Satanic Panic in the mid- to late-1990s. Though they were, mercifully, not a bunch of cat-killers, this certainly didn’t stop the “good” folks of the sleepy seaside town from believing the worst.

Jamie represents all the fears of your average suburban housewife. He dabbles in the occult, he looks like something that’s escaped from one of Tim Burton’s film sets, he’s bisexual, has a penchant for substance abuse and thinks the world revolves around him. He has a flair for dramatics, and behaves like an idiot at the worst of times. If I had to meet him in real life, I’d probably bitch slap him.

But secretly I’d admire him. Here’s some guy who cuts loose without giving a second thought what others think.

Jamie’s the kind of guy who is loved and hated by equal measure, and this is largely due to the fact that he engages our sense of the forbidden. He allows readers to act on their taboo impulses without getting into trouble.

I mean, haven’t you ever wondered what your life would be like if you didn’t have to abide by society’s rules?

But the trick is that all these negative qualities need balance. I’ve seen authors try and fail to create “edgy” characters. There need to be positive qualities, and in Jamie, these are still very much apparent despite his physical appearance and less sociable qualities. A character, I believe, must never be too whiny, or too much of a passive victim. Yes, bad things must happen to a character, but they must be transformed by their tragedy. They must eventually build the spine to kick back.

Fetters such as drug abuse or alcoholism, I believe, are challenges a character can overcome. Every action can and does have an opposite reaction, and the friction produced from inaction often gives impetus for dynamism within the framework of a story. We watch a character flounder, crippled by his own weaknesses, and we sometimes want to shake sense into him. Then, when he gets his act together, we can sigh in relief and celebrate his triumphs with him. This being said, I also don’t believe in preaching. Yes, doing stuff like drugs or sleeping around can and often does have unintended negative consequences, but people need to decide for themselves what the cost of such behaviour is. And it’s not a “one size fits all” kind of situation. Doing some bad stuff doesn’t automatically make you a bad person. All people are a mixture of light and dark.

One of the aspects of Jamie’s personality that I love dearly is that he cares deeply about his family and friends. And he loves his pets. So much so that if anything bad happens to them, he goes to great lengths to right wrongs. And he has a definite sense of honour, even if his world view is skewed. One scene from Khepera Rising that I particularly enjoyed writing was when Jamie went to visit a very flaky Wiccan lady in her shop to warn her about danger. She’s all angels, light and bubbles, while Jamie... Well, Jamie’s just plain old Jamie. Putting the two together and observing their interactions was an absolute treat.

I’ll give a hint: I’ve always loved the bad boys in film. As much as we love to hate him, the Kurgan of Highlander infamy is one of my favourite villains, and Jamie leans a little on his attitude. He might be a little callous at times, but for all his bad-assery, I show him do something good to make up for his transgressions.

While I’ve moved onto writing other characters over the years, I can’t quite leave Jamie alone. He has a habit of occasionally showing up in my other novels. He has a brief cameo appearance in Hell’s Music (Lyrical Press, writing as Therése von Willegen), and I wouldn’t be surprised if, sometime in the future, he bumps into Ashton from my Inkarna universe (Dark Continents Publishing).

He’s not wholly bad or good, and when you hang out with him you can enjoy a slice of moral ambiguity without worrying about breaking any laws.

Bio: Nerine Dorman is a rather grumpy editor and author who lives in Cape Town, South Africa. By day she works as a sub-editor and writer for a newspaper publisher. By night she concentrates on fiction. She hasn’t quite given up on her musical aspirations either. Follow her on Twitter @nerinedorman or her blog at http://nerinedorman.blogspot.com


The author's photo and a fan-art drawing of Jamie.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Well, damn ...

Lori bought me a book cover.   :-)

Thank you Lori, nobody's ever bought me a book cover before.  ♥ ♥

Guess this means I need to write the book, huh?

Damn ....




PS: I said I'd get back with y'all when I finished The Witness and I always keep my promises. So here you go, a link to a very good and very true review:

http://karenknowsbest.com/2012/05/05/azteclady-reviews-nora-roberts-the-witness/

Friday, May 4, 2012

Khepera Rising by Nerine Dorman

I've been reading so much recently and some excellent books that I don't want to forget that which has made me go WOW. And definately Khepera Rising by Nerine Dorman is a book that made me say it a number of times.

The book is about James Guillaume, Jamie. He's the owner of an occult bookstore, he's boffing his boy-toy assistant and life is good. Well, almost all good. Because his mother is quite sick and he might have done a little black magic and started The Burning One's path to a little destruction.

A pair of Christian evangalists hit the town and begin tormenting, damaging and even killing those who dabble in magic. Jamie goes from being on top of the world to a quick spiral downward. The amazing thing about this book is that Jamie is the ultimate anti-hero. There's no possible way to truly like him or admire him. There's very little about Jamie to make him a hero except....he tries to protect the people who are practising magic. He cares about stopping the violence. Yet, he himself is also violent and living a life that might need to be stopped (or changed).

 Jamie is a complicated character and I admired how Ms. Dorman didn't back off from showing him and his flaws. I disliked a number of the things he did and I hated some of his choices yet part of the fascination of reading this was exactly for those reasons. There are many layers to the story from the relationship between Jamie and his ex-girlfriend to Jamie and the evangalists and even Jamie and The Burning One (the demon he summons).

We hope to have Ms. Dorman do a guest post one day about writing the anti-hero because in this story there's the perfect anti-hero in Jamie. You want him to win yet you dislike him.

One of the other things I really liked was that the way ultimately that justice was brought was via the bad guy's own humanity and flaws. Because despite everything, that's much of what this book was about. The flaws that define people and the ways we live and die by them.

There is a second book called Khepera Redeemed which I just bought and look forward to reading.

If you're interested in a book that dares to go somewhere most don't, if you like a man who is flawed and possibly not redeemable, this is a book worth checking out.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

RIP

My laptop died. I'm sure I could take it to the shop and get it back to life but the price of doing that would be the same as the price of a new one. (With the exception of having to buy Word, that is). So I'm going laptop shopping. What are your suggestions? Trying to keep it under $500, mostly for writing and internet stuff. Not a gamer, don't give a big hullabulloo about much. I just want a good computer that will last awhile and not crash as often as that damned Dell.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Tha For the Memories

Nope, not a typo. All this lovely jewelry was made by our friend Tha who commemorated Carolyn and my books with personalized jewelry using our book covers. Aren't they fabulous?


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Liberating Lacey by Anne Calhoun

I saw this book mentioned numerous time on Dear Author as a must read for erotic romance. And since I'm not a huge fan of E.R., I like romance with some sex but I don't care for tons of gratuitous sex, I thought I'd give it a try.

Well, it's a well written, rather expensive book that reads like an old skool romance in some ways with an older, wealthy heroine who is all buttoned down and a hot hunk who is all sexy and she wants some wild and he's attracted and you know...

The truth is, the story was fine because it was well written. But the sex bored me to tears quite frankly and for $7 for an ebook, I was slightly disappointed.

The sex was integral since it moved the relationship and the heroine grew from it but well... sex and then sex and some more sex and ah baby ah, I miss my $7.