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RIP Monica Jackson, Author, Warrior...Friend

The one thing that I’ve long since taken for granted here in Romance Land is that the people who I ‘meet’ and talk to, argue with, and discuss common interests with, will always be around.

Imagine my shock when I discovered that one of the stalwarts of our little world had passed. My heart goes out to Monica’s family, especially her daughter.

I’m still in shock now. I feel like my heart is breaking because I know that this great friend that I’d never even met, will no longer be part of our little corner of the world. And this world is a little less luminous because of her absence from it.

Monica Jackson was one of the most fearless woman I’ve ever known. She was bold, and brash and wonderfully honest. She spoke her mind, and I loved her for that.

Long after Romance Land had tired of the Racism in Romance discussion, she was always there, ready to bring this conversation that many readers and authors alike found uncomfortable, to the fore. She loved this discomfort, because it was proof to her that at last the issue was in the psyche of those readers, who subconsciously avoided those otherly books.

She was passionate about the Racism in Romance issue, and her tenacity and willingness to fight the long and good fight was inspiring. (more…)

My version of retweeting: Pamela Clare, Romance, State Law, and Women’s Rights

From the Smart Bitches, how one person (who happens to be a woman and a romance author) can make a huge difference in the lives of many.

Go read in detail how Pamela Clare fought her way to writing a law (that passed) to make it possible for female inmates to give birth unshackled to the bed.

Yes, you read right: unshackled. Because up to now, in many of states of the Union is allowed by law to shackle a laboring woman to a bed, simply because she’s also an inmate.

I also want to point out that as much as Ms Clare’s actions are amazing from the point of view of women’s rights, they are so as part of the fight for human rights–the inhumane treatment of pregnant inmates has, in fact, cost lives.

For her dedication to this issue and her work and integrity as a journalist, Ms Clare was awarded the Society for Professional Journalists “Keeper of the Flame” Lifetime Achievement Award.

Thank you, Ms Clare. Way to go.

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Read more here–and go check out Ms Clare’s website. She not only one determined human being but a really good writer.

 

Steampunk

The first time I read the term was on Sela Carsen‘s blog (where is she?), I think a couple of years ago–and didn’t get it.

And I didn’t get it for quite a while, even after reading Meljean Brook’s brilliant novella “Here There Be Monsters” (Burning Up anthology). Finally it clicked for me: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, of course! (the movie–Sean Connery as Alain Quartermain for the win!)

Then there was this video, posted ages ago by the Smart Bitches:

 

*cough*

 

And with that said, I am now in love with Steampunk–well, well writen Steampunk at least. Just as I’m in love with well written fiction, period :grin: How about you?

Ahh, another blast from the past. I don’t know what it is, but I’m on a massive re-reading binge at the moment. I first read Dee Tenorio’s Betting Hearts in 2006, how amazing is that? Where has the time gone?

Anyway, I still enjoyed this book as much as I did the first time.

Without further ado, here’s the blurb

When Cassandra bishop’s ex-fiance shows up with the prerequisite, blonde haired, big boobed bimbo in tow, and announces that he’s getting married, she’s absolutely gobsmacked. Not because she’s still in love with him, but because, he broke their engagement a year ago, after telling her that he was gay.
Things go from bad to worse, when bastard ex-fiance tells cassandra, that the real reason he broke up with her was because she wasn’t woman enough for him. The swine!

Cassandra being the fiery tempered broad that she is, decides to rearrange his well-placed nose.

Devastated by this revelation, Cassie gets drunk as a skunk, and ends up at her best friend, Burke Halifax’s house at stupid o’clock. A ritual which Burke has long become familiar with.

For the past twenty-two years, Burke has made it his life’s work to make sure that nobody hurts Cassie. She’s the best friend he’s got, and he’ll be damned if a snivelling little fuckwit like bastard-ex-fiance is gonna hurt his friend.

Things start to get out of hand when bef issues a wedding invitation to cassie, out of spite.

Burke foolishly bets Cassie’s prized car that she’ll be the hottest woman at bastard-ex-fiance and big boobed bimbo’s wedding. Cassie herself is determined to prove that she is woman enough for any man, least of all her BEF, and thus the make-over of one Cassandra Bishop begins, with a few mishaps along the way, to keep things interesting.

Will burke and Cassie finally work out that they float each other’s boat, or will they keep looking for love in all the wrong places?

My Verdict

I. Loved. This. Book. (more…)

Unbelievably, I’ve never read a Courtney Milan book, even though I’ve seen plenty of positive feedback with regards to her work.

I came across Unlocked when I was looking at some recommends on Amazon, and as it was only £0.86p, I thought I might as well give it a go.

Well, what can I say, Unlocked grabbed hold of me from the first paragraph, and wouldn’t let go until I’d read the very last word.

Here’s the blurb:

A perpetual wallflower destined for spinsterhood, Lady Elaine Warren is resigned to her position in society. So when Evan Carlton, the powerful, popular Earl of Westfeld, singles her out upon his return to England, she knows what it means. Her former tormenter is up to his old tricks, and she’s his intended victim. This time, though, the earl is going to discover that wallflowers can fight back.
Evan has come to regret his cruel, callow past. At first, he only wants to make up for past wrongs. But when Elaine throws his initial apology in his face, he finds himself wanting more. And this time, what torments him might be love…

Have you ever read a book where your heart literally felt like it was breaking from the start? A book that virtually had you on the verge of tears all the way through? A book that transcended the stereotypes of its genre? Well I have to tell you, Unlocked was that book. (more…)

Now, those of you who know me, know how much I thoroughly love Dorothy Koomson’s books. And those of you who have read her, also know that she doesn’t really do shiny happy clappy books. The Woman He Loved Before is no different.

Here’s the blurb from Dorothy’s website:

she’s out of his life, but is she out of his heart?

Libby has a nice life with a great job, a gorgeous husband and a big home by the sea. But she’s becoming more unsure of Jack’s feelings for her – and if he is over the mysterious death of Eve, his first wife.

When fate intervenes in their relationship, Libby decides to find out all she can about the man she hastily married and the seemingly perfect Eve.

Eventually Libby stumbles across some startling truths about Eve. As she begins to unearth more and more devastating secrets, Libby becomes frightened that she too will end up like the first woman Jack loved. . .

What I love about Koomson’s books are how easy she makes it for me to turn to page after page, even when I’m dreading the direction in which her book may be going. I loved the twists and turns of TWHLB, and although there was a sense that something fairly heinous was going to be revealed at the end, I still wanted to keep reading. (more…)

I do love Margaret and Helen’s blog. Those two old ladies talk so much sense.

Whether they are for real or not, who cares, but whoever they are, they have to be the most amusing, startlingly perceptive, forthright political bloggers out there. I love how they get right to the heart of the matter.

Their latest log is entitled “The Elephant In The Room Is A Kangaroo” and starts: (more…)

The chocolate run

Rosario has a great review of Dorothy Koomson’s book, The Chocolate Run, up on her blog. She loves it as much as I did.

Dorothy Koomson books

She also wrote a review of Goodnight Beautiful. Once again, she loved it, even though it wasn’t a romance.

Yay for another Koomson convert!

welcome back

Yay!

I am so happy to ‘see’ her. I think it’s been well over a year since she last blogged.

I emailed her loads over the past year, because I was really worried about her. The thing with blogging is, people can up and disappear, and you may never hear from them again. It’s happened a couple of times already, and if I like that person, I tend to worry about them, Maili, I’m looking at you!.

Monica was such a staunch voice in RomLand, she was honest and direct, and you always knew where you stood with her. Gosh it’s lovely to have her back.

She’s had a terrible time of it, having to deal with serious health issues, so she doesn’t quite sound her usual chirpy self, but hopefully that will change soon.

Anyway, go and say hi, I’m sure she’d appreciate it.

(I already tried posting a comment, but it didn’t show up for some reason, I’ll try again though. Monica, you may need to check your spam queue, because I think that’s where my comment went. In fact, I think you may find that quite a few other comments have ended up in your Akismet spam filter too.)

First: this one is Kristie(J)‘s fault-all of it! (Well, okay, the inimitable Super Librarian is involved there somehow, but still! All Kristie(J)!)

Second: next time someone recommends a book without telling me it’s the third in a trilogy, I’ll grab a leaf outta Little CJ’s book and start with the voodoo dolls and the pointy objects. (The good news: this one reads very much like a stand-alone until the last three or so chapters, so no one is getting hurt… this time. I seriously would advise you guys not to tempt fate, though, capisci?)

*ahem*

Ride the Fire by Pamela Clare

ride-the-fire-reissue

My confession: despite having one or (more likely) two other books by Ms Clare in the TBR mountain range, Ride the Fire is the first of hers I’ve read. Unbeknownst to me before I read it *glaring at Kristie(J) and Super Librarian Wendy* this is the third title in Ms Clare’s Blakewell/Kenleigh trilogy. As stated above, it can be read as a stand-alone title, but people like me *coughanalretentivecough* want know where it stands before reading it.

Set in the Ohio frontier during the tumultuous period after the French and Indian war, it follows Nicholas Kenleigh, firstborn son and heir to the Kenleigh Shipping empire in Virginia, and one Elspeth (Bethie) Stewart, the young widow of a humble settler.

I find I need to issue a warning: while this is definitely a romance, it includes some rather intense and graphic descriptions of violence-not for the faint of heart. Reader beware.

(more…)

Promises in Death, by J.D. Robbpromises-in-death

With twenty nine full length novels and five novellas, J.D. Robb’s “… In Death” series is a testament to the author’s successful blend of characterization and suspense. Obviously, not every title hits the same high note, but as has been said before, “Nora Roberts in a bad day is better than many other authors at their best.”

For those new to the series, it follows the adventures of Lt Eve Dallas, of the New York Police and Security Department, and it is set in New York in 2060. The futuristic aspects of the story are partly extrapolations grounded in current technology, and partly a bit of fantasy-with space colonies, virtual reality and interstellar travel being common place.

As a long time fan of the series myself, I am very happy with Promises in Death; the whodunit aspect of the story is quite good, but it is the characterization that makes the book for me. (more…)

Hello, my name is azteclady, and I’m a Shiloh Walker fangirl (and no, I don’t need no stinkin’ program, thank you)

Fragile, by Shiloh Walker

Ms Walker’s latest print release, Fragile, is a mix of erotic romance and romantic suspense, and it succeeds beautifully in both subgenres. All too often erotic romances focus so much on the erotic part that the romance feels short-changed; not so with Fragile, at all. All the different elements are so well balanced that I have trouble trying to label this novel into any one subgenre.

Unless the label happens to be, “excellent” ‘cause then it’s easy.

Here is the back cover blurb: (more…)

I love her version of Snow Patrol’s Run, I really do.

Here’s the original version for those who aren’t as familiar with the song:

I’d definitely say that she did the song justice.

I totally LOVED Michelle Obama’s election night dress!

Apparently she got slated in the press for it though:

Mrs Obama wore a red and black scoop-neck dress by Narciso Rodriguez for the historic moment, a decision that has sparked instant debate among the fashion-focussed. Some branded it an eyesore, others said it was a simple mistake. Most agreed Ms Obama had suffered a rare lapse of taste.

“I voted for Obama, but I didn’t vote for that dress,” Jessica Bettencourt told the New York Times.

Amazing, I thought her dress rocked on a grand scale.

Salvation in Death, by J.D. Robb

Can I say how happy I am that we get at least one, and often two, new In Death books every year? Happy, I tell you. Who needs sleep?

Salvation in Death is the twenty eighth novel-length installment in the In Death series. Yup, you read right, 28 novels, and—lemme count—five novellas in multi-author anthologies. Some readers may wonder how on earth can a writer keep both the quality of writing and the freshness of the characters after this many books, and I’m here to tell you that, while I don’t know how she does it, Ms Roberts definitely delivers, each and every time. That is not to say, mind, that I enjoy every one of the In Death books or novellas equally, since more often than not I find stuff to quibble about (but then, I do that with pretty much everything I read), but that they are consistent in quality of writing, plotting, and characterization, and every single one is worth reading and re-reading. (more…)

The Missing, by Shiloh Walker

Coming out on November 4th from Berkley, The Missing is my current favorite of the novels by Ms Walker that I’ve read so far. Honestly, I think her writing improves with every work she puts out.

The Missing explores the realm of paranormal, or psychic, abilities, and whether they can be harnessed and used as tools, as well as the toll such gifts can take on those who possess them. It is perhaps not a coincidence that foresight, psychometry, and other paranormal powers have been long branded as “curses.”

The back cover blurb:

Love lost
As a teenager, Taige Branch was able to do things with her psychic gift that others couldn’t understand—except for Cullen Morgan, the boy who stole her heart. He did his best to accept her abilities, until his mother was brutally murdered—and he couldn’t forgive Taige for not preventing her death.

Passion found
Now a widowed father, Cullen Morgan has never forgotten Taige. But what brings her back into his life is another tragic event. His beloved little girl has been kidnapped, and Taige is his only hope of finding her.

A love that never died
Working together against the clock, Cullen and Taige can’t help but wonder whether—if they find his daughter in time—it isn’t too late for the overpowering love that still burns between them…

(more…)

We have talked before about writers feeling forced by readers’ reactions to keep their opinions on politics, religion and other sensitive topics to themselves.

As figures in the public eye to a degree, but not involved in political or public service positions, it only makes sense to be careful not to offend large segments of one’s potential readership, right?

However, we have also seen how many an author manages to express herself very definitely and clearly on a number of sensitive topics without coming across as offensive, overbearing, insulting, or batshit crazy. (Here I tend to point to Nora Roberts, Shiloh Walker and a few others–consider yourselves mentioned)

This time I’m reposting (with permission) a message from one of my top favorite must buy authors, Suzanne Brockmann. Originally posted on her scrolling board, here it is in its entirety:

I’m “Suz the Writer,” and I support Barack Obama (more…)

(Via Ramblings on Romance, etc and with a nod to Katiebabs)

An Open Letter to Romance Readers:

If you are like me, you have a multitude of romance novels sitting on the bookshelf, doing little more than offering fond memories, looking pretty, and gathering dust. As I tried to make room for my newest purchases one day, I thought there had to be a better use for all these wonderful books.

After all, they are not merely love stories and are certainly not rescue fantasies. They are rich narratives of women overcoming conflict, discovering their own power, falling in love, and being rewarded with optimistic, emotionally satisfying endings. And shouldn’t all women enjoy the same treasure of words filled with inspiration and empowerment—or, if nothing else, a pleasant diversion from day to day life?

Of course they should.

Then it occurred to me: why not donate romance novels to women in crisis? Mass-market paperbacks are considered to be inexpensive but are still not in the budget for everyone who might enjoy them. How better to encourage literacy—an incredibly valuable skill that benefits not just women but the families they support—than by providing engaging reading material? Doesn’t everyone deserve the pleasure of a good story with a happy-ending?

With the help of Ann Bleakley, my friend and co-founder, Share The Love was born.

It’s simple: we will collect gently used romance novels and pass them onto non-profit organizations that provide assistance to women in transitional periods of their lives—homeless and domestic violence shelters, prisons and recovery half-way houses—and that help them establish independent lives.

We hope you will join us —one story at a time—in offering encouragement, inspiration, and enjoyment to women.

Thank you,

Maya Rodale
Ann Bleakley

Right now, there is only one organization receiving their donations, Women in Need (WIN, see below) but as they grow so will the list of recipients.

“Founded in 1983, today serves over 8,500 people including 5,000 children who are homeless and disadvantaged. We strive to restore dignity, promote independence and provide stable housing to vulnerable families who face major obstacles that threaten to destroy their lives. When families find themselves without options, we provide them with housing, skills, knowledge, understanding and support.”

So let’s go forth and clear some shelf space for a great cause!

We all love drama. The more convoluted, drawn out, ridiculous it is, the more we love it.

Some of us love it behind closed doors—or in the case of these here intrawebz, by lurking quietly in the background. And some of us have to be on hand wherever pieces of the wreckage happen to fall. The majority of us, like any good normal distribution, fall somewhere in between these extremes. And more power to us, really.

But occasionally, even the most stalwart among us get a tad fed up with all the screeching of “mean girlz” and the batshit crazy, so today I would like to list some of the amazingly cool people I’ve met around blogland this year. I say some because I’m liable to forget one or more (please do forgive me if your name isn’t mentioned—I’m having a CRS* day) (Perhaps I shouldn’t write this now…) (But then, there’s no guarantee I’ll ever get over the CRS*) (more…)

Into the Fire, by Suzanne Brockmann

Into the Fire is lucky thirteen in Ms Brockmann’s Troubleshooters series. Unlike many series, most if not all of the installments in this one can be read as single titles without really missing necessary background information on ongoing story arcs. Ms Brockmann is uniquely talented, in my opinion, in giving new readers enough information to understand everything that is going on, without overloading her books with backstories from previous novels. At the same time, she writes quite a bit of foreshadowing for a number of story arcs in every book—à la Joss Whedon in Buffy—which increases the enjoyment of each successive novel for long time fans.

Ms Brockmann’s novels typically include large casts of characters, many of them recurring from previous novels, with anything from two to five story arcs running through. Most often, only one or two of these will be resolved in any one novel, with the rest left open-ended for future installments.

There are also a number of ‘point of view’ characters who carry the story in alternate chapters—or even alternate sections within a chapter. This works extremely well mainly because a) Ms Brockmann writes from what she calls “deep point of view”—which means that the reader is looking at any given scene or event from that particular character’s point of view, with his memories and feelings coloring his interpretation of whatever is going on (unreliable narrators, anyone?) and b) her characterization is so deft, that the reader has no problem identifying each narrator.

From the very first book, The Unsung Hero (June 2000) the Troubleshooters series has been set in the counterterrorism/military world, as well as in ‘real time’—meaning that the action in the novel is dated at the time of publication, i.e. Into the Fire, which was released on July 22, 2008, is set in late July 2008. (more…)