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I like Opal Carew’s erotic romance books. They usually push the boundaries, without making me feel like I need a bath, so I’m definitely looking forward to reading her new book, Six.

Here’s the blurb:

Harmony leads a secret life. On the surface, she’s a respectable, straight-laced professional. But once a year, she reunites with her old college friends–the infamous Group of Six–for a decadent sexual free-for-all. Here, there are no limits. Nothing is forbidden as they push every boundary to reach dizzying new heights of pleasure. But this year, Harmony has a serious boyfriend in her life…and he has no idea about her naughty annual retreats. Now Aiden is about to enter an intoxicating world of explosive sensuality and mind-blowing group sex. But can their relationship withstand Harmony’s wild side? And when an old friend reveals his true feelings for Harmony, how far is Aiden willing to go to win her heart?

Join in the fun as six old friends-plus two new ones-push the boundaries of normal sexual interactions in escapades that will singe your senses.

You can buy Six here, and learn more about Opal Carew here.


Here’s this week’s dilemma:(Note: It’s a little morbid this week, and probably wont go well with your cornflakes.)

You have two children, a little girl, called Charlotte who you adopted from birth, and a little boy called Adam, who came from your loins.

One day, you’re taking both kids to school, when all three of you are knocked unconscious, and bundled into a van.

When you come to, it is to find your two children standing in front of you.

The men who kidnapped you, had been working on some dodgy deals with your husband, but he double-crossed them, and now the head honcho is out for revenge.

He tells you that one of your kids must die, and that you have to choose which one it will be. If you don’t choose, he will kill both of them.

What do you do? Who do you choose to save? Your child by birth, or your child by choice?

Yeah, it’s a real doozy.

What do you do?

I should be off doing stuff-there’s a long list of stuff I ought to have done already, in fact. Instead, I’m here pondering the absolute assholeishness of humanity as a whole.

Why, you ask, did something particularly heinous happened to make you focus on this particular topic?

Not any one thing, really, it’s just the utter deluge of idiocy, narrow-mindedness and absolutely out of proportion overreacting that so many indulge in.

Let me give you a couple of recent examples:


So, hurry and place your bids here. There are still book bundles, e-books, the chance to have a cameo in a couple of upcoming books etc still available.

Also, the Sharon Cullars Chip-In fund-raiser ends today, so for any last-minute donations go here, or click on the link below.

Thanks muchly!

Slightly Married, by Mary Balogh

As many of you know, I’ve been introducing (gently, I hope 😀 ) my significant other to all and sundry subgenres of romance. Given that he has always been an avid and discerning reader in many genres (the man owns and has read repeatedly multiple copies of Shakespeare’s complete works and Good Omens, as well as Pratchett, Gaiman, Asimov, Heinlein and many more), I have taken pains to chose the better writers and novels in each subgenre.

So far, he tells me I’ve succeeded.

*pause for cheers* Yes, little ones, we will convert every other person to romance *evil cackle in background*

Occasionally, though, there’s a dud.


The Best Complaint Letter Ever…

Thursday, January 29, 2009
Posted in: It Takes All Sorts

This was a letter received by Virgin Atlantic’s customer complaints team.

“Dear Mr Branson

REF: Mumbai to Heathrow 7th December 2008

I love the Virgin brand, I really do which is why I continue to use it despite a series of unfortunate incidents over the last few years. This latest incident takes the biscuit.

Ironically, by the end of the flight I would have gladly paid over a thousand rupees for a single biscuit following the culinary journey of hell I was subjected to at the hands of your corporation.

Look at this Richard. Just look at it:


I imagine the same questions are racing through your brilliant mind as were racing through mine on that fateful day. What is this? Why have I been given it? What have I done to deserve this? And, which one is the starter, which one is the desert?

You don’t get to a position like yours Richard with anything less than a generous sprinkling of observational power so I KNOW you will have spotted the tomato next to the two yellow shafts of sponge on the left. Yes, it’s next to the sponge shaft without the green paste. That’s got to be the clue hasn’t it. No sane person would serve a desert with a tomato would they. Well answer me this Richard, what sort of animal would serve a desert with peas in:


I know it looks like a baaji but it’s in custard Richard, custard. It must be the pudding. Well you’ll be fascinated to hear that it wasn’t custard. It was a sour gel with a clear oil on top. It’s only redeeming feature was that it managed to be so alien to my palette that it took away the taste of the curry emanating from our miscellaneous central cuboid of beige matter. Perhaps the meal on the left might be the desert after all.

Anyway, this is all irrelevant at the moment. I was raised strictly but neatly by my parents and if they knew I had started desert before the main course, a sponge shaft would be the least of my worries. So lets peel back the tin-foil on the main dish and see what’s on offer.

I’ll try and explain how this felt. Imagine being a twelve year old boy Richard. Now imagine it’s Christmas morning and you’re sat their with your final present to open. It’s a big one, and you know what it is. It’s that Goodmans stereo you picked out the catalogue and wrote to Santa about.

Only you open the present and it’s not in there. It’s your hamster Richard. It’s your hamster in the box and it’s not breathing. That’s how I felt when I peeled back the foil and saw this:


Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking it’s more of that Baaji custard. I admit I thought the same too, but no. It’s mustard Richard. MUSTARD. More mustard than any man could consume in a month. On the left we have a piece of broccoli and some peppers in a brown glue-like oil and on the right the chef had prepared some mashed potato. The potato masher had obviously broken and so it was decided the next best thing would be to pass the potatoes through the digestive tract of a bird.

Once it was regurgitated it was clearly then blended and mixed with a bit of mustard. Everybody likes a bit of mustard Richard.

By now I was actually starting to feel a little hypoglycaemic. I needed a sugar hit. Luckily there was a small cookie provided. It had caught my eye earlier due to it’s baffling presentation:


It appears to be in an evidence bag from the scene of a crime. A CRIME AGAINST BLOODY COOKING. Either that or some sort of back-street underground cookie, purchased off a gun-toting maniac high on his own supply of yeast. You certainly wouldn’t want to be caught carrying one of these through customs. Imagine biting into a piece of brass Richard. That would be softer on the teeth than the specimen above.

I was exhausted. All I wanted to do was relax but obviously I had to sit with that mess in front of me for half an hour. I swear the sponge shafts moved at one point.

Once cleared, I decided to relax with a bit of your world-famous onboard entertainment. I switched it on:


I apologise for the quality of the photo, it’s just it was incredibly hard to capture Boris Johnson’s face through the flickering white lines running up and down the screen. Perhaps it would be better on another channel:

Is that Ray Liotta? A question I found myself asking over and over again throughout the gruelling half-hour I attempted to watch the film like this. After that I switched off. I’d had enough. I was the hungriest I’d been in my adult life and I had a splitting headache from squinting at a crackling screen.

My only option was to simply stare at the seat in front and wait for either food, or sleep. Neither came for an incredibly long time. But when it did it surpassed my wildest expectations:


Yes! It’s another crime-scene cookie. Only this time you dunk it in the white stuff.

Richard…. What is that white stuff? It looked like it was going to be yoghurt. It finally dawned on me what it was after staring at it. It was a mixture between the Baaji custard and the Mustard sauce. It reminded me of my first week at university. I had overheard that you could make a drink by mixing vodka and refreshers. I lied to my new friends and told them I’d done it loads of times. When I attempted to make the drink in a big bowl it formed a cheese Richard, a cheese. That cheese looked a lot like your baaji-mustard.

So that was that Richard. I didn’t eat a bloody thing. My only question is: How can you live like this? I can’t imagine what dinner round your house is like, it must be like something out of a nature documentary.

As I said at the start I love your brand, I really do. It’s just a shame such a simple thing could bring it crashing to it’s knees and begging for sustenance.

Yours Sincerely…”

I swear, few people can manage cutting sarcasm quite like us Brits. Heheh.

Apparently, Richard Branson, being the good sport that he is, offered him a job as food taster for Virgin. *G*

Credibility and reputation–a dilemma

Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Posted in: Azteclady Speaks, reviews

Recently I have been asked about my ability-and willingness-to remain as honest and objective as I possibly can in my reviews.

The question is valid, in two different contexts.

In one case, I cross post my reviews to Suzanne Brockmann”s message board-including reviews of her books. It is no secret anywhere that I’m a fan of her work, and so far I haven’t been disappointed, but… what if I were? Would I write an honest review giving a low grade to one of her novels and then post that review at her board?


The Romantic In Me…

Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Posted in: The Obamas


…Loves this photo.

Stolen from JMC’s blog.

No Sex Before Marriage? Ya Think?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Posted in: random ramblings

Last weekend, on The Big Questions, Nicky Campbell and Co were discussing the subject of sex before marriage.

There were a couple of girls who were advocating waiting, on the show, and they made a lot of sense, but as a grown woman, there’s no way I would have wanted to do the deed on the night I got married. The nervous anticipation, and build-up, and ridiculously high expectations? Oh, no.

Losing my virginity was totally underwhelming anyway, so the thought of experiencing that same feeling on the happiest day of my life? I think not.

What say you? Would you guys have preferred to wait, if you could have a do-over?

Instant Attraction, by Jill Shalvisinstant-attraction1

This full length contemporary novel is the third of Ms Shalvis’ books that I’ve read, and I will say, right off the bat, that it’s the best so far. Instant Attraction, the first of three novels planned around Wilder Adventures and Expeditions (and about the three brothers who own it) is fast paced, funny without trying for laughs, and with vivid and appealing characters.

And, marvel of marvels, this novel is a pure contemporary. There is no murder, no conspiracy, no supernatural nor paranormal element in sight. People, with all their complexities, idiosyncrasies, and weaknesses, are what drives this book.


I lifted this from Ann Bruce’s blog.

Apparently our dear friends at Amazon took it off the site. Bah humbug!

1,385 of 1,406 people found the following review helpful:
5 out of 5 stars The Secret saved my life!, December 4, 2007
By Ari Brouillette

Please allow me to share with you how “The Secret” changed my life and in a very real and substantive way allowed me to overcome a severe crisis in my personal life. It is well known that the premise of “The Secret” is the science of attracting the things in life that you desire and need and in removing from your life those things that you don’t want. Before finding this book, I knew nothing of these principles, the process of positive visualization, and had actually engaged in reckless behaviors to the point of endangering my own life and wellbeing.

At age 36, I found myself in a medium security prison serving 3-5 years for destruction of government property and public intoxication. This was stiff punishment for drunkenly defecating in a mailbox but as the judge pointed out, this was my third conviction for the exact same crime. I obviously had an alcohol problem and a deep and intense disrespect for the postal system, but even more importantly I was ignoring the very fabric of our metaphysical reality and inviting destructive influences into my life.
My fourth day in prison was the first day that I was allowed in general population and while in the recreation yard I was approached by a prisoner named Marcus who calmly informed me that as a new prisoner I had been purchased by him for three packs of Winston cigarettes and 8 ounces of Pruno (prison wine). Marcus elaborated further that I could expect to be […] raped by him on a daily basis and that I had pretty eyes.

Needless to say, I was deeply shocked that my life had sunk to this level. Although I’ve never been homophobic I was discovering that I was very rape phobic and dismayed by my overall personal street value of roughly $15. I returned to my cell and sat very quietly, searching myself for answers on how I could improve my life and distance myself from harmful outside influences.

At that point, in what I consider to be a miraculous moment, my cell mate Jim Norton informed me that he knew about the Marcus situation and that he had something that could solve my problems. He handed me a copy of “The Secret”. Normally I wouldn’t have turned to a self help book to resolve such a severe and immediate threat but I literally didn’t have any other available alternatives. I immediately opened the book and began to read.

The first few chapters deal with the essence of something called the “Law of Attraction” in which a primal universal force is available to us and can be harnessed for the betterment of our lives. The theoretical nature of the first few chapters wasn’t exactly putting me at peace. In fact, I had never meditated and had great difficulty with closing out the chaotic noises of the prison and visualizing the positive changes that I so dearly needed.

It was when I reached Chapter 6 “The Secret to Relationships” that I realized how this book could help me distance myself from Marcus and his negative intentions. Starting with chapter six there was a cavity carved into the book and in that cavity was a prison shiv. This particular shiv was a toothbrush with a handle that had been repeatedly melted and ground into a razor sharp point.

The next day in the exercise yard I carried “The Secret” with me and when Marcus approached me I opened the book and stabbed him in the neck. The next eight weeks in solitary confinement provided ample time to practice positive visualization and the 16 hours per day of absolute darkness actually made visualization about the only thing that I actually could do. I’m not sure that everybody’s life will be changed in such a dramatic way by this book but I’m very thankful to have found it and will continue to recommend it heartily.

Effing. Hilarious.

It is with pleasure that I welcome author Jill Shalvis to KKB.

A while back I dug a couple of Ms Shalvis older titles, Get a Clue and Long-lost Mom from the humongous TBR mountain range, and posted my reviews (here and here). That resulted in an exchange of emails with Ms Shalvis from which the following interview germinated.

Without more ado, here’s Ms Shalvis!

You have been a published author since 1996 and have built quite the respectable backlist during that time–all contemporaries, some with a more comedic slant and others with suspense, but no paranormals nor historicals. Have you ever been tempted to try your hand at either?

Actually, I wrote one paranormal for Brava called Out of This World, and it was great fun. But I have to say, for the moment, I’m enjoying writing the sexy contemporaries most. Instant Attraction really blew my skirt up, so I think I’ll stick with that for awhile.

How would you say your writing has changed in the past dozen years? (I.e., balance of dialogue vs description, showing vs telling, etc.)

I’d like to think my writing has greatly improved. So much that I tend to get hives when someone reviews an older book (as you know 😀 ). I don’t like to go there! I’m definitely in the zone now, stronger characters, faster dialogue and banter . . .


So I decided to add a few of my books to the Sharon Cullars E-bay auction:

Dorothy Koomson Stand-alones (more…)

Or Escrava Isaura, as it was known in Brazil in 1976.

It was surely the most melodramatic programme ever, but I loved it, and watched it religiously on Channel 4 during the eighties.

Set in Brazil during the 1880s, the show is about a light skinned slave called Isaura, who is brought up by plantation owners.

The owner and his wife talk about freeing Isaura, but the owner dies before they make it official, and Isaura ends up in the hands of their cruel nephew Leonicio.

Leonicio wants Isaura for himself, and refuses to free her.

Isaura eventually falls in love with some bloke called Tobias, but Leonicio’s jealousy keeps them apart.

So, anybody familiar with this series?

The fund-raising auction for Sharon Cullars is still live (and going great!), so for your chance to purchase some great print and e-books, ARCS, agent, author and editor critiques, advertising banners etc, please click onto Sharon’s Fund-raising site.

If you’d prefer to make a contribution without purchasing an item, you can do so by clicking here.

To learn more about Sharon’s story, please click here.

I’d love for you guys to help spread the word, so I would be grateful if you could copy and paste this message onto your blogs. The more people click on, the more money we’ll hopefully raise.

Now go and buy, buy, buy!!

Nighthawk, by Rachel Lee

Digging through my sprawling TBR mountain range during one of those “I don’t want to read anything-I’m going crazy I need to read something-I don’t wanna read anything, ARGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!” periods of insanity, I found this sweet and lovely installment from Ms Lee’s very popular Conard County series. I don’t know that it solved my issues, but it engaged my attention so that I read it in one sitting. Published in May 1997, some aspects of the story may seem slightly outdated, but the characterization and writing voice are just lovely.

Here’s the much hated back cover blurb: (more…)

This week’s dilemma is as follows:

You work in a bank. You’ve been a loyal employee for over ten years, and you were finally made manager two years ago. You like your job, and you’re well treated. You are of course privvy to all the access codes for the safes etc.

You’re walking along one day when a black van pulls up to you, and suddenly you are blind-folded, and quickly thrown into the van.

The men are robbers, and they want to stage a heist at your bank. They torture you into giving up the access codes. They also demand that you help them stage the robbery, by sabotaging things at the bank.

The men (of course they’re men, aren’t they always?) tell you that they know where you live, and if you want them to leave your three children and wife unharmed, you will do as they say, and if you go to the police, your family is good as dead.

They eventually throw you out of the van, with their vile threats echoing in your ear.

What do you do? Do you go to the police, knowing that you will be putting yourself and your family at risk, or do you do as they say, because no amount of money is worth the loss of any of your loved ones?

Waddaya do?

Prince Joe, by Suzanne Brockmannprince-joe-original-cover

The first title in Ms Brockmann’s Tall, Dark and Dangerous series and released originally in June 1996, Prince Joe introduces the first of her now famous SEALs-this time, it’s the Alpha Squad from Team Ten. During my quest to convert erm… introduce my s.o. to romance in the course of the last three or so years, we have re-read many of my favorites. It was finally time for me to revisit Lt Joe Catalanotto. (more…)

Get Well Soon Mr Jobs…

Thursday, January 22, 2009
Posted in: Steve Jobs Apple

I hope you’re back real soon Mr Jobs.

I wonder what Apple thought they would gain by hiding his condition? Now they just look like mercenary idiots who put profit before a man’s health.

Mind you, it was probably Jobs’ idea in the first place.

Anyway, I sincerely hope he gets well soon.

Are you really worried about the national debt?

Because it seems to me, that much like the Universal Healthcare issue, the media seem to be doing their best to scare people into worrying about the fact that the US will be a trillion dollars more in debt.

What I want to know is, why haven’t they been worrying about the other $7 trillion dollars worth of debt that has been amassed during the Bush administration?

The media seem keen to bitch and moan about the money that will have to be spent on getting the US economy going again, but nobody seems to be talking about alternatives.

How do you guys feel about the increase in spending? What would the alternatives be?