Friday, 20 December 2013

Black Magic Woman by Christine Warren


Daphanie Carter is thrilled that her sister Danice finally found her Prince Charming – even though he’s not quite, well, human.  Daphanie is trying to keep an open mind.  Which is why she jumps at the chance to enter the hidden world of The Others when a friendly imp invits her to a non-human nightclub.  Daphanie’s curious to see how the Other half lives –and parties-  but soon, one handsome stranger has her bewitched, bothered and beside herself.

 Enter Asher Grayson.  As a Guardian, its his job to protect humans who get mixed up in the affairs of Others.  When he spots Daphanie in a club, going head to head with a notorious witch doctor, he steps in to cool things off.  Now the heat is on.  Daphanie becomes the target of strange magical attacks, and Asher’s got to undo the voo-doo before it’s too, too, late.  But soon he starts to wonder if this beautiful, beguiling mortal has put a spell on him – because every little thing she does is magic…


Lets start off by saying that I really do love Christine Warren’s books.  There’s a note from the author at the start of the book explaining that in the beginning there was only ever going to be five books (there are at least fifteen, at this point) and that’s why the order of things gets mixed around and some facts may or may not add up.  But that’s not the problem I have with this book.  I don’t know about anyone else, but I find the unusual spelling of a character – any character’s – name to be highly distracting.  Daphanie, for example makes me want to call her Daff-ah-knee.  Or maybe just Daffy, which is somewhat appropriate considering her behaviour in the first few chapters of the book. 

Now, I get it, I really do, that when facing the prospect of being in-laws to someone who is not precisely human – not only that, but suddenly discovering that there are far more things in this world that can no longer be scoffed at and called ‘myth’. That, right there, is perfectly understandable.  But given that her sister, just got married to a changeling, you would think that maybe, just maybe, she would ask her sister if she had a question about Other society and how to behave, right? 
At her sister’s wedding reception no less, she catches this little imp who literally looks like a small devil, surmises that he is there under false pretences and proceeds to interrogate him.  The upshot is that he takes her along to a place called ‘Lurk’ (and if the red skinned imp wasn’t a giveaway, the name of this club should have set off a few alarm bells certainly).  Did I mention that she snuck out of the reception for this guy?  I dunno, I’d be cranky if my sister snuck out of my wedding reception for any reason not approaching Chernobyl on a scale of one to catastrophic. 

Now, given that she is now in a frankly dodgy club in an area of town that she shouldn’t be in, in a club she has no business being at, with a  being she should not under any circumstances have trusted – I would have ordinarily pegged her lifespan to last approximately 3.8 seconds under the circumstances.  But given that this is a romance novel, she has the rest of the book to stun us with her dreadfully optimistic (stupid) choices.   

This Asher guy now, he seems to have his head on straight.  He’s just chilling at the bar, relaxing after a hard day’s work, and in walks this sheila with wide touristy eyes (she should know better, as the book explains several times, since she’s from Brooklyn and all).  Naturally she gets into trouble, and he has to step in.  Admittedly, it’s not her fault.  Given the same situation, and being called the same names by an obnoxious person is not going to make me react much differently to Daphanie.  Then again, if I was confronted by some guy in a seedy bar that caters exclusively to people of a … let’s say special nature, I’d like to think that I would have the damned sense to keep my mouth shut.  Especially when a huge guy with wings steps in and essentially rescues my butt. 

After all that mess gets sorted out (sort of) we get to see that Daphanie is not some hot tempered ignoramus with the survival instincts of a suicidal lemming, she’s a hot tempered, highly creative and wandering world traveller.  And she’s a blacksmith.  This is something I. Just.  Love.  A blacksmith?  How wicked is that?  Of course, by the time we get to see her in action, things have progressed to “Holy crab cakes Batman!” and she just gets the coals of her forge heated up when the manure hits the windmill.


I won’t go into details, but with doppelgangers, bad voodoo, zombies, secret plots to take over the world .. it’s another Tuesday in the world of the Others.  Once Daphanie starts using her head and Asher stops using his naughty parts, and they both start to think – we’re in business. 


Friday, 1 November 2013

Never Ending Story In The Batcave: Part Two of Operation Pink Petticoat

 Well, being laid up like this means that I get to watch all the crappy Halloween style movies and shows.  Being Australian we, as a family, don’t actually celebrate Halloween, but it’s still heaps of fun.  Having said that, I’m a bit wierded out by the Never Ending Story II – it was my favourite movie as a kid.  Only now, with age and experience, it’s seriously the creepiest movie I’ve ever seen.  It beats out Candyman (seen age twelve) The Crush (age 13) and Iron Sky (last week).  Hell, it even beats out Annie (predatory overtones in the chase scene) and a tie between Dot And The Kangaroo/The Camel Boy (child slavery, animal abuse, human rights violations, harsh early settler conditions etc, etc...)

The eighties were not gentle with kids were they?  I think, or suspect that is where I may have learned my compassion.  The movies whacked you upside the head with symbolism, but you sure as hell learned a walloping dose of compassion.  And omigod, that theme song! Catchy, poptastic, positive and totally adorkable!

Someone get going on making me a Giant Flying Dog.  Now.

I never really realised how much writers of the time were semi-sensitive to the native cultures.  In the Never Ending Story, I never realised that the writers borrowed rather heavily from Native American culture.  As a child I had zero concept of race, colour or creed.  I didn’t care much for Bastien, whom I thought remarkable stoopid, and adored Atreyu. Although that as mostly for his ride, admittedly.   ;]

But now, I understand that fairy-tale stories and an amazing sense of adventure were woven together with a multicultural cast and recognition of their respective cultures without a single trace of irony.  They still are the secondary characters in a mostly white cast, but it’s such a strong story that I don’t actually care.  Yeah, you heard me.  I.  Don’t. Care. About. The. Kitsch.

Got a problem with that?

And that’s where I think we went wrong.

Say what now?

Somewhere along the line we got bogged down in reality.  Movies, theatre, film and television need to take a page out of the Never Ending Story book and base you in reality only.  It’s all well and good to bring realism to your writing – so long as you do it with passion.  And THAT’s where we’re going.  Not to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but the corporations are only interested in making safe money.  They don’t want to risk losing their precious millions for the theoretical billions that are possible if they merely cater to the market they aim at. 

Even this kid looks bored with the latest Superman reboot.

Seriously?  What is it going to take to get us our DC heroine movie?  It’s not like they don’t have material to work with here?  This is the next stage of #OperationPinkPetticoat in case you’re wondering.  If they need a pitch for a super heroine movie that’ll knock their socks off, I got about twenty seven at this point.  I find interesting people fascinating and comic book writers treat their characters with the respect they deserve. It’s the artists that let us all down. 
Remember these guys?




Oh, and these little known characters…

Not to forget…



And of course…

I sense a few origin stories in the force. 

Oh, and let’s not forget that little campaign called, the …Hawkeye Initiative? I’m sure you’ve never even heard of it.

Let’s get this thing started.  Let’s get some diversity on the screen.  The new series of the Agents of Shield and Arrow are pretty good – but they're only nearly there.  With ensemble casts you get the chance to play with different nationalities and cultures. I love it when writers play with a ‘What If’ scenario.  This is why I love Tony Stark’s character so much.  He’s completely unfiltered.  To quote Anthony Hopkins, he’s not crazy, poor people are crazy.  Tony is eccentric! And I have to admit, that with this stupid infection in my leg (for the last time, I’m Fine!) it’s making me approach Stark Industries level of intelligence.  Bit manic, complete with intervention and everything.  It’s been fun.  I’m seriously considering how to build my own suit.

I’m not even joking.

Bring it!


So that’s the catalyst for Operation Pink Petticoat. 

Many thanks to TheMarySue and Batman And His Bitches for the source material! Cheers!

Monday, 21 October 2013

Operation Pink Petticoat Part One

Operation Pink Petticoat Part One – The Germ Of An Idea

This post is going to be quick fast and dirty – try not to get any stains on the carpet.


I hope he has a jock strap for the balls he must be wearing...

By now my campaign has been given a boot up the arse and it’s on it’s first shaking but firm steps.  For those of you who don’t already know, or would like to know what on Middle Earth is hashtag-Operation-Pink-Petticoat, I’ll give you a short and then an epic version of my road to one sparkling, brilliant idea.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Dukes To the Left Of Me, Princes To The Right by Kieran Kramer

Most Women would not be please to be labelled a spinster.  But Lady Poppy Smith-Barnes isn’t most women.  In fact, Poppy has invented an imaginary fiancé, the Duke of Drummond, to deter unwanted suitors.  A very useful fellow, this duke, until the real Drummond turns up and uses Poppy’s ploy to trap her into a betrothal. 
A good spy flies below the radar.  Which is why being named one of the Prince Regent’s ‘Impossible Bachelors’ is so inconvenient for Nicholas Staunton.  Every society female will be out to ensnare him.  Nicholas needs a fiancée – and Poppy’s ruse is the answer.  How could he have known she’d be a brazen, sensual siren with an irresistible taste for adventure?  Now nothing less will do to convince his fiery Poppy to revoke her spinster status ... for good. 
It’s been a while since I’ve actually read a regency novel and I was pleasantly entertained by this one.  All the really great elements of a classic regency story, things that I love about the genre.  The heroine is smart and ‘plucky’, and since she is a well brought up young lady she doesn’t suffer from the indignities that a contemporary heroine might face when labelled as such.  Regency heroines have class, and thankfully are unlikely to fall victim to the hi-jinks of the ‘oops, silly me’ brigade most modern-day female characters tend to favour.  Thank God.  Lady Poppy is my kind of girl. 

Our hero, is a spy. 
Need I say more?
Oh alright, he’s the typical devil-may-care romance novel bachelor, which means that he loves women, but can’t seem to decide on just one.  But the ladies don’t seem to mind so much (romance bachelor trait number two).  But naturally, he has the good sense to realise that Lady Poppy is a total catch, as opposed to all those old-school romance bachelors who tended to be of the rape first-think later school of thought.  Thank goodness that’s over.   

The thing about this book is that it’s exciting.  Who’d have thought right?  We have Poppy, who has been proposed to twelve times and knocked back every single one, to the point where she has a ready-made, well-rehearsed speech, all because she harbours a crush on Prince Sergei, who she met in St Petersberg when she was fifteen.  She lets them down gently by telling them about this guy, this made up guy, called the Duke of Drummond, who she’s madly in love with.  Now, she knows perfectly well that there is no such person, hasn’t been for years, but it lets her potential husbands walk away with the pride still mostly intact. 

The newly titled Duke of Drummond Nicholas Staunton is British Secret Service, a Victorian James Bond and when events conspire against him (gets a title, gets a shot at a highly secret mission and gets on the Prince Regent’s Impossible Bachelors list) he needs to find himself nice and boringly engaged so the title hunting debutantes leave him to do his work.  How fortunate for him that there’s this woman running around London, knocking back suitors because she says she’s in love with him?  Never mind that they’ve never met. 

Confused yet?  No?  You will be.

Nicholas takes off to the nearest ballroom where he expects he can find this young lady, get engaged (officially), married and send her off to the estate.  After he does all that he can get a shot at this prize mission, Operation Pink Lady.  I do love an awesome mission name.  Poppy, who is at this ball so she can meet Prince Sergei for the first time in six years and hopes to snag him properly now that she’s all grown up, gets caught between the two of them.  Oh dear.  And it’s not like she can say in front of a crowded ballroom that she made him up because she was waiting for Sergei to come strolling back into her life.  Because he’s her soul mate.  Really. 
Oh, and Prince Sergei’s sister, Princess Natasha (brat, witch and corgi owner) is a former lover of Nicholas’ that she had to drug to get him to stay a whole night while he was trying to seduce information out of her.

Didn’t I say it was going to get complicated?

After that, there are a few deals made between Poppy and her by now no-longer imaginary Duke, after the clever cookie figures out that he is not all that he seems.  He’s surprised she finds the idea of rusticating in the country abhorrent and she’s surprised that he isn’t a Neanderthal halfwit.  He comes to the realisation that maybe, just possibly there’s a woman out there who fits his idea of the ‘Perfect Woman’ and he’s just lucky enough to be engaged to her.  She discovers that possibly the perfect guy for her isn’t Russian after all.  Mighty Wang, meet Magic Woo-Hoo.  There’s a scene where Poppy, Nicholas and the two royal (pain in the arse) Russians go to the museum on a sort of double date.  It borders on farcical, Natasha’s precious dogs being pushed along in a baby carriage of all things, while the two British spies try to winkle some much needed information out of them. 
Being a romance novel, of course there is some sexy time thrown in, but it’s not the full frontal stuff you get sometimes which is usually to try and boost readership or some such nonsense.  That much graphic material is not necessary with this, it’s just great writing.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s some pretty hot stuff in there, but you’re never suddenly struck with the feeling that you’ve accidentally walked in on your roommate and her new guy doing something interesting on the washing machine.    

Mistaken identities, imaginary fiancés, family betrayals, spies in training, manipulative princesses, missing paintings and Viking treasures... it’s one hell of an adventure and I can’t wait to find the next book by this author. 

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Spying In High Heels by Gemma Halliday

This is a book I picked up for five bucks at a newsagency.  I'm so glad that I did. 

LA shoe designer Maddie Springer lives her life by three rules: Fashion.  Fashion.  Fashion.  But when she stumbles  upon the work  of a brutal killer, her life takes an unexpected turn from Manolos to murder.  And things only get worse when her boyfriend disappears - along with $20 million in embezzled  funds - and her every move is suddenly under scrutiny by the LAD's  sexiest cop.  With the help of her post-menopausal bridezilla of a mother, a 300 pound psychic and one seriously oversexed best friend, Maddie finds herself stepping out of her stilettos and onto the trail of a murderer.  But can she catch  a killer before the killer catches up to her? 

The back cover blurb is a teeny bit deceptive, though in a lovely and unexpected way.  Maddie Springer is an LA shoe designer - though she designs kid's shoes.  And her boyfriend does disappear - but not at the same time as the money.  And it is not her lifelong dream to become the next Nancy Drew, she just stumbles blindly into this whole mess trying to find her missing boyfriend Richard. 

There are so many things that I like about this book and the way that it is written that so many other writers try to accomplish and fail.  I like that there is an every-girl candidness about Maddie.  I don't usually like books written in first person, but she has a sassy snark to her inner voice that is terrific - not too bitchy but not too sugary sweet either.  Maddie has real-girl reactions to significant moment in the story, from a pregnancy scare to a dead body.  In both scenarios she panics and freaks out.  Many of us would like to think that we could handle such situations with aplomb - or at least with a witty one-liner and a casual flip of our hair - but we all know we wouldn't.  Much as we would like to.  So while Maddie is bold, stubborn and loyal to a fault, she's not a sickly sweet and unbelievable Mary Sue type or a kick-arse but equally unbelievable urban fantasy heroine with leather trousers.  And a sword.  

Her best friend is apparently a raging nymphomaniac and an actress with regular if erratic work in tiny parts of TV shows that never get seen.  This man-eater has more bed partners than bit parts in low-budget television pilots and earns her crust by teaching aerobics at the local gym.  Despite Dana's cartoony description, she is actually a worldly and well developed character, something that other writers (at least the bad ones) tend to overlook.  I have a feeling that Dana leapt off the page and took on a life of her own, possibly to the bemusement of the author, her personality is so strong.  So the 'best friend' character actually has her own life and a little side plotline all to herself.  She's a funny, enthusiastic and positive foil for Maddie who often had confidence issues during the tale, especially when her boyfriend's apparent second life comes to light and Detective Ramirez starts to show a decided interest in the blonde protagonist.

Which leads me nicely into our male leads.  I have one word for you: Yummy.  One is her wayward boyfriend Richard, whom she believes she might be accidentally pregnant to and is where this whole story starts - Maddie panicking madly because she's, as Maddie puts it 'late'.  The other is the deliciously sexy cop investigating Richard's suspicious disappearance and circumstances, Detective Jack Ramirez.  Maddie thinks he is one of the bad guys to begin with, upon her first sighting of him and treats him as such: with extreme caution.  She runs into him more and more often as their paths criss-cross in their mutal attempts to find the same man, though for very different reasons and despite her horrified guilt with herself, finds herself unable to resist her attraction to the cop.  I absolutely love the self-flagelation that Maddie goes through when she can't get Jack out of her head but suspects she may be pregnant to her boyfriend who she is discovering is Not A Nice Man after all.  

I really, really like the part about going out for her Mum's bachelorette party to a place called 'Beefcakes' (!!!) and accidentally getting drunk on what she thought were non-alcoholic drinks.  Had me giggling all the way through it - the whole of chapter fourteen.  And the aftermath in chapter fifteen.  

There were really only one or two small things that I didn't like and they were so minor it didn't change the fact that I still really like the book, but they are worth a mention since they tended to jar me out of the story and were a wee bit intrusive.  Maddie's devotion to her boyfriend in need is admirable.  It's not often the bloke needs rescuing in one of these mystery novels so it's refreshing to see the girl saving her man.  However - and it is a huge 'however' - the more she finds out about her boyfriend of five months other life, the less I liked him.  If maybe they had been together for several years I could probably understand her reluctance to believe that he would do something stupid or criminal but it's too short of a time.  Some of the things that Richard is mixed up in are pretty nefarious and yet Maddie refuses to see the light.   Even when confronted with a condom wrapper.  
In his office.
Where they have never had sex.
She still makes excuses for this loser.  There are more and worse than that but I won't spoil the story.  Admittedly, Maddie does eventually realise that she is just making excuses for him but that doesn't help her earlier on in the story, she's so blinded by her love for a man who is not worthy of it. 
Meanwhile.  Sexy, honourable and available Jack Ramirez is more than just attracted to her and isn't shy in showing her his interest.  There were times when I wanted to leap into the book, give Maddie a quick slap upside the head, leap back out again and continue reading.  

The only other irritating measure was Maddie's refusal  to take the pregnancy test early on in the story, without her beloved (by which I mean worthless) Richard close at hand.  At first, fair enough, I can understand how she would want the comfort of her partner to be with her when she faces a life changing result.  But as the days drag on  and she all but tortures herself with 'it's still only 'maybe''.  A 'maybe' that could be a 'no' and leave her free to take the good Detective up on his offer for dinner with absolutely no guilt whatsoever!  But no, she leaves herself, and by extension, us, in suspense.  An excellent way to increase plot tension but absolutely maddening to read!  Maddie cites  pure, unadulterated terror at the prospect of becoming a mother preventing her from taking the test and I can probably understand that.  The teeny, tiny apartment she lives in  barely fits her, let alone a child.  Her fear is probably what drives her to find Richard, for moral support in her time of desperation, before taking the plunge.  Personally, not knowing would kill me far faster than any homicidal maniac running around LA.  But that's just me.

Apart from those two minor points, it's a terrifically well written book with a twist at the end that even I didn't see coming (I love those!).  Gemma Halliday gets a standing ovation from me and I look forward to reading the rest of the High Heels series.  (I downloaded some ebooks of hers today, because I can't wait to see what happens next!)


Saturday, 25 June 2011

A Shore Thing by Nicole 'Snooki' Polizzi

I will not be reading this.

Not to totally shred her wee book, but I cannot, for the life of me understand what is so compelling about drunken twenty somethings that apparently makes such fascinating television and reading material.  From all accounts she may be using the money she earns in this caper to turn over a new leaf, grow up some and get started on this thing called Real Life, and good for her.  Use the opportunities life throws at you, they are few and far between.  But people like me would rather read a ripping good yarn than wonder at the thoughts inside a sozzled head.  Once again, I have to admit that one of the reasons I cannot get published is that corporations are intent on making the millions out of - let's face it - titillating diaries of the rich and famous masquerading as fiction.  It's hard enough to get into the publishing industry without bookshelves being clogged up by vacuous accounts of people who should probably know better than to get so drunk they don’t remember what happened the previous day and are consequently arrested or charged.  We shouldn’t be celebrating this kind of behaviour.  It’s all well and good to publish a memoir, but please don’t pass it off as an original, fictional novel.  Yes, one of the adages of the author is to 'write what you know'.  But this is just something to take inspiration from, not to lift whole days or weeks or years from your own life so that anyone you might know will recognise themselves in the pages.  And likely be offended. 

Monday, 20 June 2011


Since I've decided to move, all my books are now in boxes - so I can't get to them!  Let's hope the ones I've ordered arrive soon!

In the meantime, I found this little gem of an article whilst trawling the net. 

Steampunk culture full speed ahead