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Sounds ominous, doesn’t it?

Well it wasn’t—quite 😀 but it started with just a tad of stress.

For reasons that have nothing to do with anything, I haven’t driven a car for a number of years (nine? ten? something like that) but in order to attend RWA—which is happening just over 35 miles southwest of my house—I have to drive down there. And back. Every day this week.

Freaking out time chez Aztec (and don’t give me the “like riding a bicycle” thing—I’ve been riding the bike for over five years now, and I’m still not comfortable with it).

But lust (books! fellow bloggers! books! authors! free books! did I mention books?) won over fear. So yesterday, with more than a little trepidation, I rented a car and drove down there a little before two. It was… an interesting experience for someone who stresses over stuff as much as I tend to do, and more so because the Walt Disney World complex? compound? is literally a city within a city—one I’m not familiar with, full of long empty roads that loop and twist and turn and separate (buses only, service access, etc.).

It was with no little relief—and some pride—that, about forty five minutes later, I managed to reach a parking lot right by the Dolphin side of the Dolphin and Swan Resort without incident. (Okay, so I had to stop and ask once—but I was within sight of the hotel, which should count for something right?)

Now, for those (few) who don’t know, (more…)

RWA 2010…

Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Posted in: Azteclady Speaks, RWA 2010

Here I come!

For the second year running my beloved has gifted me with the registration to (and the means to attend) RWA’s National Conference. Starting this afternoon, I’ll be up to the top of my head in romance bloggers, romance authors, and romance books.


I wish I could promise to post interesting, timely pieces on who I meet, what I see and hear, etc.–but I can’t. The days are going to be long and every second of every minute of every hour of them is going to be packed: with people to see, books to lust after, workshops and chats and Q&A to attend.

So I plan on wearing comfortable shoes, carry a couple of tote bags (one empty, inside the other one–which should be almost empty) and remember to take the camera with me everywhere. With any luck I’ll be able to put something together after the fact, like I did last year.

See you on the other side!

*     *     *     *     *

ps If you hear loud, intermittent squeeeeeeeeeeing sounds over the next few days… it’s probably me.

The Search, by Nora Roberts

Reader beware: I am a fan of Ms Roberts’ writing, and very rarely do I feel disappointed by it. The Search was definitely not one of those rare books. In fact, it was quite the opposite: an engrossing read with interesting characters, great dialogue, and solid writing.

Here is the hardcover jacket blurb:

Number-one New York Times-bestselling author Nora Roberts presents a novel set in the Pacific Northwest, where an island provides sanctuary, the lush forests seduce the unwary, and a man and a woman find in each other the strength to carry on.

To most people, Fiona Bristow seems to have an idyllic life—a quaint house on an island off Seattle’s coast, a thriving dog-training school, and a challenging volunteer job performing canine search and rescue. Not to mention her three intensely loyal Labs. But Fiona got to this point by surviving a nightmare.

Several years ago, she was the only survivor of a serial killer—a madman who stalked and abducted young women, strangled them, and left them buried with a red scarf on their bodies. As authorities were closing in on the Red Scarf Killer, he shot and killed Fiona’s cop fiancé and his K-9 partner.

On Orcas Island, Fiona has found the peace and solitude she needed to rebuild her life. Yet all that changes on the day Simon Doyle barrels up her drive, desperate for her help. He’s the reluctant owner of an out-of-control puppy, foisted upon him by his mother. Jaws has eaten through Simon’s house, and he’s at his wit’s end.

To Fiona, Jaws is nothing she can’t handle. Simon is another matter. A newcomer to Orcas, he’s a rugged and intensely private artist, known for creating exquisite furniture. Simon never wanted a puppy, and he most definitely doesn’t want a woman. Besides, the lanky redhead is not his type. But tell that to the laws of attraction.

As Fiona embarks on training Jaws and as Simon begins to appreciate both dog and trainer, the past tears back into Fiona’s life. A copycat killer has emerged out of the shadows, a man whose bloodlust has been channeled by a master with one motive: to reclaim the women who slipped out of his hands…

By choice I have read very few in the way of actual reviews of this novel. Generally speaking, when one is spoiler-phobic, it’s wiser to avoid most chatter on books one is planning on reading. However, it is difficult to avoid all mentions of highly anticipated novels—which happens to be the case with most of Ms Roberts’ releases.


Welcome to Harmony, by Jodi Thomas

Between having a couple of older books by Ms Thomas in the scarily huge TBR mountain range and seeing this novel mentioned often around the blogosphere, I couldn’t help but pick it up when I saw it at my local grocery store. I am glad I did.

Ms Thomas’ writing voice is both soothing and engaging; so much so that it took me a good hundred and fifty pages to wonder whether Welcome to Harmony was a romance. It so happens it is not—classified as mainstream fiction in Ms Thomas’ own website and with the word “novel” in the spine, the novel focuses mainly on Reagan’s growth during the first few months of her stay in Harmony, though not as exclusively as the blurb may make you believe:

A place to belong

Sixteen-year-old runaway Reagan has always wanted a place to belong. She’s never had a real home of her own, but maybe she can borrow someone else’s. At least for a little while…

At the nursing home where Reagan works, Miss Beverly Truman’s fond memories of Harmony, Texas, seem to fill an empty space inside the girl. After Miss Beverly passes away, Reagan travels to Harmony, pretending to be the woman’s granddaughter, and is taken into the home of Beverly’s surviving brother.

Still, Reagan is afraid to trust the gruff kindness shown to her by Jeremiah Truman and the warm friendship offered by another teenager named Noah, who dreams of being a rodeo star. She keeps her distance from Noah’s sister, Alex McAllen, who’s the town sheriff and busy with her own stormy relationship with volunteer fire chief Hank Matheson.

But when prairie fires threaten Harmony, Reagan learns the true meaning of family, friends, and home…

The novel starts as Reagan, having hitchhiked her way from Oklahoma, arrives in town. Inspired by the fond memories of a now dead old woman, she has decided that this little town in the middle of nowhere will be the starting point to the rest of her life.

Reagan, being a newcomer, is the perfect vehicle to introduce the reader to the town and its residents It is through her eyes that we meet many of the other characters whose lives and relationships make the fabric of the story, starting with the three ‘founding families’ of Harmony: the Trumans, the McAllens and the Mathesons—and their long standing feuds.

There are a number of threads weaving around each other throughout the novel. (more…)

Or perhaps it’s more like a series of mini-rants.

Either way, here we are:

  • Why is it that people believe that buying a lousy cup of coffee for less than two bucks gives them the right to treat the employees at the coffee place like slaves?
  • How can people coming in for breakfast/lunch right after church justify to themselves calling wait staff “bitches”?
  • What makes a man call a bus person over to a table—while she’s carrying a heavy plastic tub full of dirty dishes, thanks so much—to tell her, “this is the worst goddamned coffee I’ve ever had”?
  • Where does a male customer get off calling the young female employee preparing his food ‘brainless’ and telling her that ‘a monkey could do her job’?
  • In which universe do customer type people live that they believe it’s okay to tell an employee eating lunch during her break, “Since you work here, would you mind giving us your table?”
  • Who tells customers of any age that it is okay to stick chewing gum to non-disposable dishes?
  • When has it become acceptable to buy food ‘to go’ at one place and enter another establishment—with the full family, drinks, etc.—to eat it?

Did I mention that customer type people suck?

Well, too many of them do, at any rate.

Her Secret Fling, by Sarah Mayberry

After reading so much praise of Ms Mayberry’s work, it was inevitable that I would grab the next one of her novels that crossed my path—and this Blaze title, released in June 2010, was it. (Which means, kmont, Kristie(J) and SLWendy, that I am a Mayberry-virgin no longer). Her Secret Fling follows Australian swimming star Poppy Birmingham as she starts to build her life-after-the-Olympics. This entails finding a paying job—no matter how good the endorsement contracts, no money lasts forever when one has to eat, right? And for a former Olympic athlete, the offer to become a sports columnist for the Melbourne Herald is really too good to pass up.

Here is the much-better-than-average back cover blurb:

Talk about office politics!

Jake Stevens—start reporter and celebrated literary genius—is a snake. How else to explain the way he turns Poppy Birmingham’s hero worship into loathing with a single conversation? So what if she’s got a lot to learn about journalism? Aren’t they coworkers now? On the same team? Jake can take his attitude and…

Then during a job-related road trip, their relationship goes from antagonistic to hedonistic in no time flat. And suddenly Poppy can’t think of anything more delicious than having a secret fling with Jake. But with all this intensity, can she really keep it no-strings-attached?

Why much better than average?, you may ask—and it would be a good question. Read it again, carefully.

Got it?


Okay, I’ll tell you: it’s all about Poppy. Her feelings, her reactions, her perspective.

Mind, the author does an excellent job of showing us Jake’s perspective as well, but the blurb beautifully avoids the… well, the cheesy-ness that afflicts many a category back cover blurb. So yay for that! (more…)

Savage Garden’s Affirmation (Sony Music 1999)

I believe the sun should never set upon an argument
I believe we place our happiness in other people’s hands
I believe that junk food tastes so good because it’s bad for you
I believe your parents did the best job they knew how to do
I believe that beauty magazines promote low self-esteem
I believe I’m loved when I’m completely by myself alone

I believe in Karma what you give is what you get returned
I believe you can’t appreciate real love ’til you’ve been burned
I believe the grass is no more greener on the other side
I believe you don’t know what you’ve got until you say goodbye

I believe you can’t control or choose your sexuality
I believe that trust is more important than monogamy
I believe your most attractive features are your heart and soul
I believe that family is worth more than money or gold
I believe the struggle for financial freedom is unfair
I believe the only ones who disagree are millionaires

I believe in Karma what you give is what you get returned
I believe you can’t appreciate real love ’til you’ve been burned
I believe the grass is no more greener on the other side
I believe you don’t know what you’ve got until you say goodbye

I believe forgiveness is the key to your own happiness
I believe that wedded bliss negates the need to be undressed
I believe that God does not endorse TV evangelists
I believe in love surviving death into eternity

I believe in Karma what you give is what you get returned
I believe you can’t appreciate real love until you’ve been burned
I believe the grass is no more greener on the other side
I believe you don’t know what you’ve got ’til you say goodbye

There is only one statement in the lyrics with which I disagree–everything else? Spot on, as far as I’m concerned (can you guess which one?).

*it’s Vivian Arend’s fault for posting her Saturday Snippets, but it all started with Lauren Dane

All of Me, by Patricia Ryan

Before there were Blazes, there were Harlequin Temptations. Then someone had the brilliant idea of introducing “spicier” novels to the line and the Temptation Blazes were born (tag line: “BLAZE—Red-hot reads from Temptation!”)

All of Me, which I believe to be my first story by Ms Ryan, was one of the line’s launching titles, back in the dark ages of 2000. The novel follows the relationship of innocent and beautiful Nora and experienced and debonair David. Here is the back cover blurb:

He wanted a rose in his lapel…

David Waite knew exactly how to please a woman, but he’s had enough of social climbers and users. His solution? “Arm candy”—a beautiful woman to accompany him, no strings attached, either emotional or sexual. Then he saw Nora, and had a sudden, sharp craving for sweets…

She was it

Nora Armstrong was a wholesome, virginal beauty fresh from the Midwest. Her cousin asked a favor—go out with David Waite. She couldn’t say no, any more than she could say no when David asked for a second date, and another. According to “arm candy” rules, she should have been safe, except David wanted to break the rules. Then Nora realized it was a risky business, being flavor of the month… and falling in love.

As the novel starts, (more…)

After six months of not writing one single solitary review, it seems a flood is coming. I would apologize for the glut but… nah, ‘sall good 😉

Anyway, a recent author’s response to my usual courtesy email (“My review of your novel [title] has been posted here [link]”) included something along the lines of “I like your reviews because I can tell you actually read the book.”

Picture me blinking in incomprehension.

Seriously? People out there write reviews without reading the material they are reviewing?

People other than Harriet Klausner, that is *cough*

On another note–but somewhat related–I’ve been mulling a variation of “if you can’t say something nice…” This one is called “For the life of me I can’t understand why harping on the negative and not the positives”. (more…)

Hmmm, this girl is only fourteen? *Shudder*

She’s responding to the sequel to my Step-Sibling Falling In Love post.

What is wrong with you shallow, condescending in-greats?!??!?!?! LOVE IS LOVE. no matter who you fall in love with, it’s still just as beautiful an experience as the next person, so why do you stick up your nose at someone just because they have the same DNA? that’s ridiculous! Granted, my brother is disgusting and i would never marry him in a thousands zillion trillion years because he is a snot nosed brat, but if you truly have experienced love in it’s true for, you would know that no matter if they were related to you or not…

truthfully we are all technically blood related because we all evolved from the same cavemen or were birthed from Adam and Eve or whatever you believe. the fact that you are able to experience love with that person is a sure sign you are blessed. So stop turning your nose up at people like that because you’re just jealous they have true love and you don’t! it’s not your place to decide weather or not they are allowed to love each other freely. that’s like saying gay people aren’t allowed to marry. EVERYONE HAS THE RIGHT TO BE LOVED. anyone who believes otherwise can go fuck a horse.

I find it interesting how people have such widely different reactions to the same things.

As I mentioned in my review of Parker’s Price, sometimes I understand where people are coming from, but others… well, other times, I’m just flummoxed.

This is what happened: I posted the just revealed cover for Ann Aguirre’s upcoming YA debut, the awesome Razorland (yes, it’s awesome–it sucks that I won’t be able to review it, since I beta read it, but it is absolutely awesome)… Anyway, I posted the cover to a forum I contribute to and got a “what a terrible cover!” in reply.


Seriously? (more…)

Parker’s Price, by Ann Bruce.

First things first. Reader beware: I received a review copy of this book directly from the author. Further, I’ve reviewed only one other story by Ms Bruce, “Rules of Engagement,” and I liked it—a lot.

A contemporary romance with a hint of suspense and just shy of 200 pages, Parker’s Price is longer than a novella yet still shorter than most novels. One of Carina Press‘ launch titles, this is an ebook only story. Here is the blurb:

She was sexy, smart…and not for sale. But that won’t stop him.

When Parker Quinn is forced to accept an outrageously high bid at a charity auction, she has no choice but to go out with the last man on earth she wants to spend time with. Dean Maxwell may be one of Manhattan’s most eligible bachelors, but he’s also the man who had an affair with her sister and abandoned her when she became pregnant with his child.

Dean doesn’t know why Parker hates him so much, but he’s determined to show Parker the type of man he really is. Whisking her away to a private island in the Bahamas for a sensual, sun-drenched week together, Dean leaves Parker’s preconceptions shattered and her desires inflamed.

But even as their passion reaches irresistible heights, Parker has a decision to make. Can she allow herself to fall for the seductive magnate, or will family secrets and a dangerous ex tear them apart?

Since its release about a month ago, I have read a number of reviews of Parker’s Price, often contradictory (Wendy the Super Librarian thinks Dean is too sexy for words, while Mandi at Smexy Books thinks he’s too alpha). Having read the novel, I have to tend to agree with Wendy, while sorta understanding where Mandi is coming from (I think… please do feel free to correct me in the comments if I’m wrong).

The story begins during the auction mentioned in the blurb. (more…)

Well, that was the biggest anti-climax ever. I wanted the Dutch to win, but Paul the Octopus got it right again. Bugger.

England’s performnce was abysmal. Enough said.

Unfortunately, I didn’t miss blogging even a little bit. I manged to read about three books, all DNFs. I think my relationship with romance novels is coming to a painful end, but hopefully one day, I’ll read an amazing book that inspires me to return to roms again, in the mean time, crime and thriller books are where it’s at.

We currently have my brother staying with us. He was in a car accident, fractured his wrist, and broke his leg in three places. He needed somebody to look after him, and I knew that it would be too much for my mother, so TTG and I have taken on the job. First couple of days were rough, seeing as he’s been in hospital for three weeks and hadn’t really been moving around. We’re all adjusting well. I hope he copes on his own when we’re both away overnight.

I think I caught on Twitter that DA Jane is pregnant, so huge congrats luvvie. Ooops, Jane isn’t preggers after all, my mistake, lack of following threads properly an all that, hehe.

I’m currently loving the new Budweiser Designated Driver ad. So funny.

Thanks to AL for holding the fort whilst I’ve been away, muchos appreciated.

I have sweet fuck all else to say, so I’m signing off now, I’ll catch you guys later on in the week. Maybe.

Cured? Cured????

Monday, July 12, 2010
Posted in: arseholes abound, Azteclady Speaks, rant

This story has been bothering me for months now and it finally boiled over:

Asshole cheating drug using pastor claims that therapy has cured him of his “urges” to use male prostitutes.

I call utter and absolute bullshit on the whole thing.

You cannot cure who you are.

Blame abuse all you want if it makes you feel better, but don’t belittle so many people’s sexuality just because you can’t accept who you are.


What the Librarian Did, by Karina Bliss

I liked the first novel by Ms Bliss that I read (Second-Chance Family, review here) well enough that I was willing to buy What the Librarian Did when I saw it at the grocery store, book budget be damned. (Of course, it didn’t hurt that I had read mostly positive things about it around the blogosphere*.)

Here’s the rather coyly phrased back cover blurb:

When the librarian met the rock star…

Is Rachel Robinson the only one on campus who doesn’t know who Devin Freedman is? No big deal except that the bad-boy rock star gets a kick out of Rachel’s refusal to worship at his feet. And that seems to have provoked his undivided attention. Devin, the guy who gave new meaning to the phrase “sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.” Devin, the guy who somehow becomes wedged between her and the past she’s kept hidden for years.

It’s up to this librarian to find out firsthand just how “bad” he really is. Because her secret—and her growing feelings for a man who claims he’s bent on redemption—depend on his turning out to be as good as he seems. Which is really, really good.

Before starting on the review proper I have to say that I like that the cover, corny as it may look, actually reflects the characters in the novel. Okay, so Devin’s tattoo should be much larger and reach all the way to the back of his hand, but at least it’s there; and Rachel’s penchant for wearing old fashioned clothes that match (and, I’m tempted to say, mock) many people’s preconceptions about librarians is crystal clear, from the blue neck ribbon to the waist high, knee long pencil skirt.

The novel starts with a humorous meet-cute: retired rock star and recovering addict Devin is being shown around the campus library by an oblivious Rachel, when a small group of infatuated teenagers barge in. The following snippet of conversation sets the tone for many of the exchanges between these two: (more…)

God bless adult offspring

Friday, July 9, 2010
Posted in: Azteclady Speaks

(and their understanding of their mothers)

So, the firstborn is staying around for the next couple of months. In late September he’ll be back at CalTech, (hopefully) hard at work. But while he’s here, he is making time for his mother 😀 Awful, I know.

What is truly awful, of course, is how well he understands me and my weaknesses. Today, he took me out to lunch (low key) and then…

to a used bookstore.

Where I found… (more…)

I’ve bemoaned before the cursed reading slump that hit me months ago (yes, months–it’s a wonder I’m not crazier than I am, really, what with such long reading deprivation).

Well, I’m pleased as punch to announce that it seems to be ended–in the course of a week I’ve read a number of new books (not more of the wimpy re-reads I’d been reduced to *happy dancing*). Among these are: (more…)

Deja vu

Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Posted in: Azteclady Speaks

How often have we seen this:

I love (insert author’s name here) you guys are nuts. Yeah, so what if her books have sex in them. Whats so wrong with being open about yourself? No one is making you pick up her book, and i certainly dont see you going out there to write anything better.

in response to criticism of an author?

Sometimes the phrasing is a bit more sophisticated, the writer more articulate, and the spelling and grammar overall better, but the core message remains: if you don’t like what I like and have the gall to say so publicly, it’s because you are a talentless, envious hack and a prude–so there!

Personally, I’m entertained by visualizing these passionate defenders of whatever it is I don’t like or dare criticize, telling me these things to my face… :evil 😀 :