Around the World in 80+ Books Part 8

So have we gotten out of the time warp yet? Seems like more than a week has gone by with us exploring Tasmania. The devil, you say? Get on the plane.

141. Australia. Sometimes I can recommend a book because I have read it. Other times I have seen the movie. This is a movie recommendation. The Rabbit Proof Fence by Doris Pilkington is based on a true story. I like to believe the government program had the best of intentions with removing children from their families, but you know what happens to good intentions. They end up resurfacing a hot roadway.

142. Papua New Guinea. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens does not take place in this country. However, Mr. Pip by Lloyd Jones uses the fascination with that story to pull a community together following a devastating war. Not a coming of age story or a novel of how bad it is to be a woman, instead it’s the story of how every individual is important for surviving tragedy.

143. Indonesia. I found this book and stopped looking for others. I just listened to the author’s book, Wild Fire, and if you read my Wednesday post, you’ll understand some of what pulled me into and out of that story. But I came away with a desire to know all about the other characters on the team, and I expect we will have that opportunity. Wild Rain by Christine Feehan is the second in the series Leopard People. At least Indonesia is a more likely setting for leopards than Central America.

144. Singapore. Say what you will about Barbara Cartland, some of her stories were fun and taught readers some things about the world around them. Magnificent Marriage by La Cartland has a heroine that proves to be smart, a little older than Cartland’s usual virgins, and more important to the story than the alpha hero. One reviewer praised the fact that she learned some of the history of Singapore, Malaysia, and Sarawak. A close second is The Elephant and The Tree by Jin Pyn Lee.

145. East Timor. Sometimes the best way to get to know a country is through fiction, and sometimes it’s through memoirs. The Crossing: A Story of East Timor by Luis Cardoso tells his story and that of his homeland during the important struggle for independence. One reviewer complained that it was too intense, with so much packed into a small book. Well, try to describe any such struggle in 20,000 words or less.

146. Madagascar. Did you ever wonder exactly what happened in detail between Tarzan and Jane, all those years in the forest? Well, apparently so did Collete Gale. Entwined is the first book in her series, The Erotic Adventures of Jane in the Jungle. I so want this book, and I so wish I had written it.

147. Mauritius. You are a young boy on an island that is largely in ignorance of World War II. Your father works as a guard at a prison there, and through various events, you meet a Jewish boy your own age. Jews were refused admittance to Palestine, and ended up wherever they could find some acceptance. One reviewer says this is a sweet story with a hard pit. Coming of age with a purpose that would not have occurred had there been more love in the world. The Last Brother by Nathacha Appanan.

148. Reunion Island. I picked a graphic novel because, one, I love and grew up reading comic books, and two, they are a great way to help kids and adults read more. The story of a young assistant to an ornithology professor looking for the nearly extinct dodo bird being swept away by the lifestyle of the island’s inhabitants got my attention. Bourbon Island 1730 by Lewis Trondheim looks delightful in both story concept and the art work.

149. Seychelles. Keith and Sally Pomeroy start their delightful Mathew Butler Adventures series with Butler Did It with a scuba diving photographer, a murder attempt, and lots of fun. Even the reviewers giving it a low star rating agreed that it’s a fun read. Those who liked it added exciting, but don’t expect a classic. And my favorite, it would make a better movie than a book.

150. Comoros. What do you know about the coelacanth? Here’s a cheat sheet: Now you are ready to read A Fish Caught in Time: The Search for the Coelacanth by Samantha Weinberg. Long thought to be extinct, this possible link between the sea and the land is merely elusive, living in a very inhospitable ocean depth for humans. Can you feel the excitement of seeing a picture of one just caught, when the scientific world felt sure they no longer existed?

151. Mozambique. Why does it seem that as soon as a person vows never to get involved with the opposite sex or the same sex in a romantic way if that’s their inclination, the perfect match for them walks into their life? Mozambique Mysteries by Lisa St. Aubin de Terán may not answer that, but you will read a personal story involving the remote coastal country and the various cultures that settled there.

152. Zimbabwe. Now we turn to a story of coming of age in a country where it’s tough to be female, and cultures clash without thought. Two people find themselves and each other while a country grows in spite of national upheaval, and a mystery might tear their world apart. An intelligent read in the land of growing tension, as well as growing tension between the main characters’ falling in love. The Boy Next Door by Irene Sabatini.

153. Swaziland. Presented as a fantasy adventure, The Bird of Heaven by Peter Dunseith reveals the world and lives of Swazi tribes through their spiritual beliefs and customs. There’s a character who is a leopard in a man’s body, so maybe wereleopards aren’t that original. We receive the gifts of our ancestors for self-empowerment, and face the transcendent victory of a noble spirit. All in one book.

154. Lesotho. I have struggled to find books about the countries written by natives, or at least citizens, of that country. Here I have a fictionalized account of the life of a great Zulu warrior. Chaka by Thomas Mofolo is compared by one reader to a Hindu myth. Written in the early 1900s, this book has taken a long time to come to any attention in the West, and for that I give it my complete attention.

155. Zambia. Another good way to get to know a country is through the accounts written by those totally unprepared for what they encounter. Peeing in the Bush by Adeline Loh is one such story. I came back to it several times just based on the title. All she knew about the jungle she learned on Animal Planet. I can’t wait to get to know her paranoid vegetarian companion. A wacky retelling of an attempt to leave the comforts of civilization behind, it’s dubbed a wack-o adventure by one of the reviewers. I’m thinking Lucy and Ethel go to Africa. Sold!

156. Angola. Truth or Fiction? Yes. Set in Diary form, Nzingha: Warrior Queen of Matamba, Angola, Africa, 1595 by Patricia C. McKissack is one of a series of books (The Royal Diaries) for young readers detailing the lives of girls from around the world and throughout history. Most of the reviewer readers are young, but not all. And in case it matters, Ms. McKissack is of the same blood as the heroine in her story. A strong main character and a fascinating story.

157. The Democratic Republic of the Congo. There’s so much about the country that is fascinating to me. My mother had a friend who had lived there, when it was called the Belgian Congo. I loved her stories of the jungle and the changing world. I could have gone easy on myself with Congo by Michael Crichton, where I first learned that gorillas are afraid to cross running water or to be wet. But I hoped for something deeper. When you go to Goodreads and read the synopsis, you should know immediately why I picked this one. The Madman and the Medusa by Tchicaya U Tam’si.

158. Rwanda. I’ll give you a few minutes to get over any uncontrollable urges to giggle at the names Hutu and Tutsis. Because the horrid slaughter of families for no other reason than the circumstances of their birth and heritage is nothing to laugh at. Finding hope and love in the heart of slaughter and chaos would be worthy of praise, and so it is in Baking Cakes in Kigali by Gaile Parkin. The reviews are the usual mix of loved it/hated it/ it’s not so bad, but I found it disturbing that one opined that the book would be popular in America because the main character was a strong black woman. I think it more likely that the gift of hope in despair by a person of any gender or race is the key to popular fiction.

159. Burundi. I feel like I have discovered something really special here. There are no reviews so far on Goodreads. But having grown up with Tarzan in all the various forms, and Jungle Book, and loved the idea that a human child could survive when raised by animals, I am all agog to read The Wild Boy of Burundi by Harlan Lane and Richard Pillard. A true case study of a child found living with primates in 1974. How did he get there? What happened to his parents? Is he any relation to someone named Greystoke? Well, I will have to read the book to find out.

160. Tanzania. We’ll end this week with a trip in the Way Back machine, visiting prehistoric Tanzania, and the tribes that live in the shadows of Kilimanjaro. Great Sky Woman by Steve Barnes is a combination of anthropology, cultural history, and fiction. A great read and the first book in a series that I expect will become addictive.

Enjoy the past, the huge herds of beasts that are no longer there, the people who changed to survive, and the foreshadow of a world to come. See you on Wednesday for a fun break, then on to some islands next Sunday.


More Pourri for Your Pot!

I’d Love to Verb Your Noun

I listen to books on CDs while I commute to and from work. I go through about a disc per day and this certainly makes the travel time zip by. However, it can be a problem listening to romance books with their soft porn scenes.

Listening to the first Outlander book had me squirming on many a drive home, and attacking my husband as soon as I walked in the front door. Little did I know that Diana Gabaldon’s passages were mild.

Right now, I’m listening to a book about leopard shape shifters. Overall the book is fun, but the naughty bits are certainly, well, naughty. Being summer in SoCal, I have the windows down while the AC gets up to speed. I turn on the player while stopped at a red light. A husky male voice said, “His throbbing cock thrust into her wet velvet sheath.” I look up and see a cluster of teenagers also waiting for the light to change. Their eyes are filled with horror and curiosity. I roll up the windows and pray for green.

Shoes, Glorious Shoes!

I can’t wear high heels. Between weighing more than is proper and having done stupid things in my youth, and nearly breaking the bones in one foot, the pain of heels is not worth it. But I love to look at shoes. It can be the first thing I notice about a person. I do often find myself in meetings where we sit in chairs in a circle. I look at the shoes so as not to stare people in the face. In the stalls in ladies’ rooms, often all I see of someone is a cute pair of shoes. I am struck by the styles some people can wear in a work environment. And a man who cross-dresses? I totally admire that talent.

Today I saw a woman in the stall next to me wearing those “Gladiator” style sandals with lots of thin straps over the whole foot. All I could think of was that if I tried to wear that style, my feet would end up looking like a roast tied up for cooking. Ew! (Actually this looks pretty tasty, but I wouldn’t want one on the end of my leg.)

Ticklish Much?

Yes, I am ticklish. I have been all my life. I can be mad as hell at someone, and if they tickle me, I’m laughing. And that just makes me angrier.

My beloved never tickles me on purpose. But sometimes his hand will touch a sensitive spot too lightly, and I jump and squeal. At least, I don’t think he does that deliberately.

He often teases me about “shrimping,” which has to do with his mouth and my toes. Not while I am still breathing. Not if he wants to keep his teeth. Being diabetic, I have had doctors check my feel for reflexes. If Mike is with me, he tries to warn the medico. So far I have not done any permanent damage to a doctor. Good thing there isn’t a patient version of malpractice.

And Another Thing About Porn CDs

The man narrating the book about the leopards has a great voice and a great range of accents and characters. I am pretty sure, however, at the end of each session, he goes into a padded, sound proof room, and laughs hysterically. Every time I hear him say cock or nipple or womb or wet panties, I think, I hope his mom never listens to this. Or his grandpa. Or his cousin Sadie. Oy!


I know we are on the home stretch of our journey Around the World, but this past week brought such relief to me and my beloved husband. He got a job. Not just a do-it-because-we-need-the-money type of job, but the perfect job, where they respect his knowledge and treat everyone like good people. He is looking forward to his first day at work tomorrow. So much excitement has not been good for my writing time, and so the research for the books to list has been allowed to slide. I hope you will forgive me and join in the celebration.

Of course, we have a few bills to pay, and catch up to do, but I can retire in 19 week (but who’s counting?) and still have oodles of money in the accounts. In my belief system, I don’t want to look too far ahead and dream of what I will do with the money, because that means I have already gotten that good. Okay, it’s complicated and all, but I try to live in this moment, when I am putting words down to share with people who like reading Romance and who like what I have shared before.

But if I DID think about the future expenditure of disposable income, here are a few of the things that come to mind. First of all, a trip to the United Kingdom.

And then a special tour following after the delightful Miss Austen.

We need a new washing machine and a new refrigerator.

I want a truck.

Of course, we would love to move closer to the ocean some day.

We may need some help with lawn care.

And the home office for my writing must have a secret door behind a bookcase.

We’ll want all the latest technology, eventually. Wait, will it still be the latest if we get it next year?

Most of all, however, I want to be back on Medifast, exercising more, getting vet care for all the pets, and having the time to feed the birds fresh foods every day. That really will be the perfect life, and is the most likely to happen right away.

So if you are out Trick-or-Treat-ing and see a crazy woman who looks as happy as it’s possible to look and still be decent in public, chances are it’s me. My retirement date will be October 30, 2014, and there will be a huge celebration on the 31st. A light heart lives longest. Maireann croí éadrom i bhfad.

See you on Wednesday for some fun, and next week we’ll continue our journey Around the World.

Regency Banquet Sneak Peek

Let’s pretend you finished reading one of my books. (Okay, first, let’s pretend I have a book out that you might buy and read and finish.) Now, at the end, you see a preview for the next series. Is that good or bad? I normally don’t read these. I did once and when the actual book came out, the story had changed. I felt I wasted my time. But some people like to get a jump on the next story.

I have in the works a series called Regency Banquet. The stories are going to be erotic romance set in the Regency period. The first of three novellas is called Appetizer: Pure Seduction. Here are the first few pages, before things get hot and heavy. Hope you like it.

Regency Banquet: The Appetizer
Pure Seduction, Part One
Brothers could be the most hateful creatures in the world. Yet sometimes, like now, they could behave wonderfully. Ellen Curtis adjusted her cap and pulled down her waistcoat. She followed her older brothers, Bernard and Roland, out of the hired coach.
She took pride in their sharp appearances, dandies from the tips of their Hessian boots to the top of their tall hats. Few people outside the family could tell them apart, but Bernard’s blond hair curled to the left, while Roland’s went to the right. Their green eyes matched hers, as did the shape of their long jaw lines. She’d often wished for blond hair, too, but had now grown to accept her shade of honey brown.
Bernard stopped her with a hand on her arm. “See here, Ellen. You cannot walk like that. You won’t fool a blind mouse if you don’t swagger more.”
“You must remember to not call me Ellen! I am Lenny, for the evening.” She turned and walked away from them, trying to walk with a bit of the arrogance her brothers showed. “Is that better?”
“A bit, but once we get in there,” Roland motioned to the doorway up a short run of stairs before them, “You just sit and observe.”
Bernard glanced nervously up at the door. “This will never work. We’ll be found out, Ell will be sent to a convent, and after Father thrashes us, he’ll purchase commissions and ship us off to Spain.”
“I should be so lucky,” replied Roland. “You should have kept that in mind before allowing your love letters to fall into enemy hands.”
The young gentlemen turned and glared at Ellen, she shrugged.
“I doubt a convent would keep me long. Besides, we’re not Papists. I think that’s a requirement.”
Bernard took a step toward her. “Give them to me,” he growled.
“Not yet. Once we’re inside, maybe.” She patted her coat, which rustled at the touch.
“Ro, it’s not going to work!”
“Bern, you got us into this mare’s nest!”
Ellen sighed and pushed the two toward the door. Her brothers had agreed to let her come with them to a gentleman’s club, for which boon she would not give their father letters from Bernard’s mistress, to which Father would object. She could not wait to look around, to see what a club was like, to listen to all the talk about politics and finances and things in which her father and brothers thought she should not have an interest. “We are going in, now!”
“Wait. We should tell you –”
Whatever Roland planned to say evaporated as a group of men exited the doors. Lowering their hats, the twins walked hastily up the stairs. Ellen copied Roland’s walk through the door, pleased that none of those leaving paid her any mind.
They entered a small vestibule, oddly furnished with huge Chinese vases full of feathery plants. Ellen stared open mouthed at a large painting of a naked woman, well executed to be sure, but hardly what she expected. Bernard grabbed her by the arm and pulled her through another door. This room appeared to be a lounge or parlor, rather larger than she expected, with chairs and sofas set about in cozy groups. If not for the lurid red velvet upholstery and the mirrors everywhere, she would have thought it a perfect place for conversation.
Then she noticed the women. The scantily clad women, draped over some of the chairs. Their dresses fell into one of two categories: so sheer as to be a waste of fabric, and so low as to be more of a skirt than a dress.
“Mr. Curtis, how good to see you again.” A short, plump woman in a slight, sheer, and clinging gown slipped her hand through Roland’s arm, smiling. Surely no one could be born with hair that brassy shade of red.
Ellen blinked, and looked at Bernard, who did blush slightly. Roland had allowed the woman to lead him to the stairs.
“This is not a gentleman’s club,” she hissed. “Take me home this minute!”
“Very well, give me the letters.” Bernard held out his hand.
She shook her head. “I will not. You have not kept your word.”
They stared at each other, and Ellen’s temper began to boil, when another of the “ladies” swooped toward them. This one had very black hair, and more makeup than Ellen had ever seen on a person before. She laid a possessive hand on Bernard’s arm, and his face lost all traces of anger. Instead he smiled at her. “Dorothea!”
“Bernard, do you plan to stay here all evening? Madame will be back soon, and if I am still downstairs, she may force me to take someone else.” Darkened lashes fluttered coyly.
“Damned if you will!” He covered her hand with his and turned to the stairs. “Ah. A moment, my dear.” He returned to Ellen’s side and whispered, “We’ll go to White’s directly. Sit over there in that dark corner, and don’t talk to anyone.”
“You can’t leave me here! What if someone recognizes me?”
Bernard’s grin made Ellen flinch. “A convent for you, then. And serve you right. But it won’t come to that if you stay quiet.”
The dark-haired Dorothea called Bernard away, and he went without a backward glance.
Fuming, Ellen sat down in the corner as instructed. She remembered to spread her legs, and crossed one ankle on top of her knee. She had been a fool to believe her horrid siblings could be true to their words. She could not complain to Father, and that galled her more than anything.
The door opened from the vestibule, and two men entered, soon being escorted away. One had stopped to stare at her, but her haughty glare apparently persuaded him to keep going. She allowed a glimmer of pride to cheer her up, but soon noticed that the chairs near her now contained more of the ladies of questionable virtue. And they all seemed interested in her. Oh, drat!
A short woman, girl really, came and sat next to her and put a plump hand on Ellen’s leg. “Hello, dearie, what’s the problem, then? None of the ready, or too shy?”
The other women laughed, and Ellen felt her cheeks redden. Not only by the familiarity of the girl, but by the extremely low bodice on her gown, and the sheer fabric. Why, she could see the woman’s nipples! Summoning the voice she used to imitate her father, she said, “No offense, miss, but I am betrothed. I don’t want any girl but her.”
“You sweet thing,” exclaimed one of the others. “I could cry! Here, I’ll give you a kiss for free!” She suited the action to the words, and Ellen drew away in amazement. The girls laughed and exclaimed over the “young gentleman.”
More men came in, calling the girls away, and Ellen rubbed at her lips. Damn her brothers! Her first kiss, and she got it from a woman!
A couple walked into the room, different in appearance from the other habitues. The woman looked older than the working girls, who had all gone upstairs now. Her dress and bonnet too were of a better quality and style.
The man riveted Ellen’s attention. Taller than any man she had ever seen, broad shouldered, his tan face made her think of a fallen angel. His profile cut a sharpe line of straight nose and strong chin, dividing the planes of his smooth cheeks. As if divining her thoughts, he looked over at her, and stopped whatever he had been saying to the woman.
“Good Lord, Vivienne! Since when have you supplied boys for sodomites?” He looked angry and came toward Ellen.
“He’s not one of mine.” The woman clutched his arm. “Don’t frighten the boy, Cooper!”
Ellen jumped to her feet, thinking to run out of the room, but at the woman’s words, Cooper stopped and his expression lightened.
“I beg your pardon, sir.” He bowed, and Ellen almost curtsied.
“Think nothing of it,” she said.
Cooper stared at her, and she returned a level gaze. Finally he said, “Why are you here?”
Ellen glanced at the woman, Vivienne, who merely shrugged, then back at the man. “M’brothers are upstairs. I’m waiting for them.”
“Ah. Too young to be interested, are you?” Cooper showed white teeth in a mocking grin. “You cannot stay here. I would not be the only one to get the wrong idea.”
Panic seeped into Ellen’s chest. Where would she go, alone, at night, on London’s seedier streets?
Cooper nodded and clapped her on the shoulder. “Come wait in my office. Viv, have a tray sent in, would you?”
And that solved everything, or so his manner told her. He led her past the stairway to a long passage, and into a large room. If the reception parlor had been decorated in the gaudiest fashion, this room stood directly opposite in decor. A dark green paper covered walls from high ceiling to dark oak wainscoting. Bookshelves covered another wall. Near a fireplace, in which flames danced, a few chairs and a sofa were arranged. Closer to the door stood a huge desk, with neat stacks of paper and envelopes.
Ellen went straight to the bookshelves, forgetting for a moment everything else. Her father held books in low regard, so she had never seen so many before. A book on philosophy caught her eye, and she pulled it out without thinking.
“A scholar, are you?” Cooper had followed her, and smiled at her interest. “That one is rather dry, I like this better.” He reached around her and removed a slim book bound in red.
She took it and read the cover. “Du Contrat social ou Principes du driot Politique, by Jean Jeaques Rousseau. My father detests Rousseau!’
Her host chuckled. “Good, sit down there and help yourself to tea.” He gestured to where a maid servant set down a tray.
Ellen smiled and moved away from him. She told herself it was the presence of so many books that made her heart beat faster, not the presence of Mr. Cooper. She still smiled when she met the eyes of the maid, who smiled back and winked.
“That will do, Sally,” the man said in stern tones. The maid, unrepentant, curtsied and left. Shaking his head, he looked back at Ellen. “What’s your name?”
“Lenny. Sir.” She picked up a biscuit and stuffed it in her mouth as she had seen the twins do.
“Lenny. Do sit down. I must change but I won’t be long.” He crossed to an opened door and stepped out of her view. She heard water poured into a bowl, and gathered he washed as well as changed his linen.
Why did Mr. Cooper live in a brothel? Ellen poured herself a cup of tea and made free with the cream and sugar. She began to read the book but soon tired of translating everything from the French. And the lingering scent of leather and cloves which the man wore distracted her. She set the work down and went to explore the shelves in more detail.

* *
Some days wore a man down. David Cooper sluiced water on his head, face, chest, and neck, letting go of the dust, sweat, and fatigue that had accumulated since noon. In spite of the issues of importance that he juggled mentally, what came to the front of his mind now? A boy. A youth waiting, unprotected, in the reception parlor of a house like this.
Damn! They had to hire a new porter, soon. The youth could be no more than 12 or 13. No beginnings of a beard showed on his smooth white cheeks, flushed a beautiful pink –
Cooper threw the towel he’d used to the floor with a snarl. Could he be attracted to that boy? No, it had to be his resemblance to Mathilde. Had she come back from the dead and dressed as a boy, she would have looked– Like Lenny.
“Dressed like a boy!” He stared into the pier glass but did not see his image. Instead, he remembered green eyes flecked in gold, straight brown hair, slender form, and absolute absence of anything that one expected to see in a young man. “Huh. But, why?”

Around the World in 80+ Books, Part 7

I love this part of the world, and I hope you enjoy it too. Slurp down those drinks in half a coconut with the fruit and umbrellas, and off we go. I’ll tip the waiter.

121. Jamaica. Errol Flynn. Sigh. When the film roles stopped for him, he bought an island near Jamaica and had wild parties. The Pirate’s Daughter is a blend of fiction and real life, the story of a young, impressionable girl who loves Errol, and bears him a daughter. A tale of both mother and daughter, and the independence struggle of the country. The Pirate’s Daughter by Margaret Cezair Thompson.

122. Belize. Take a young woman who wants a chance to live, a backpack life style, and a beautiful land, add inspiring moments, and you have Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard. This book is well liked by those who reviewed it, and includes real life experiences that the author had while backpacking across Central America.

123. El Salvador. Most of the novels set in this country are full of war, tyrants, and other sad things. In hoping to present a more uplifting story, I found What You Can’t Live Without by Eden Winters. I am not going to explore the reason that so many male/male romances are written by women. It’s just a fact. Like New York is up all night and small towns roll up their sidewalks at sunset. No one questions these facts, okay? And this romance choked me up just reading the summary. Love is love, and that’s a fact.

124. Colombia. Some miles to go before we get to the happy and carefree Caribbean again, but at least we can consider a classic here. Gabriel Garcia Marquez writes funny erotica, at least in this novel. The reviews range from the saddest book I’ve ever read to masterful and luminous. At 90 years old, a man has never felt true love. Rather leaving it to the last minute, but he has a plan. Memoirs of My Melancholy Whores by Marquez.

125. Venezuela. There’s a truism that Romances are all formulaic, stamped out one after the other using the same characters and plots. Hush by Cherry Adair is the first in a series called the Lodestone Trilogy. This is a suspenseful, extreme thrills and chills plot, nothing like most of the romances I’ve read. But it has sex in the jungle! And the readers’ reviews all liked it. Even the one reviewer who did not like the whole book was digging it to begin with.

126. Guyana. Write what you know. If you are a mixed race child in a world that can’t fit you into one slot or the other, then perhaps you write about the violence, the vice and brutality of the world where you grow up. Children of Kaywana by Edgar Mittelholzer begins the Kaywana Saga, a harsh look at natives dominated by European colonists, willing or not.

127. Suriname. Another country colonized bu Europeans and run through slavery. The book I chose originally was published in Dutch, with a title that translates to How Dear Was the Sugar? Dear in the sense of the lives required to manufacture the substance. And sugar has had the last laugh, poisoning so many of the colonists’ descendants. The Cost of Sugar by Cynthia McLeod is compelling and easy to read.

128. French Guiana. From slaves to a penal colony! I think we were overcharged for this tour. The Governor’s Daughter by Paule Constant examines the development of a young girl whose parents are fanatically religious and whose only friends are the prisoners. The only review suggests abandoning it after the first 60 pages, but still ranked it 3 out of 5 stars.

129. Ecuador. In a small and impoverished Andean village, a girl is sold to a rich upper-class family to work as their house slave. It’s not a fun life, but not much different, I would think, than working in the fields near the village all day long. And there’s no hint of the husband making sexual advances on the girl, so it could have been much worse. However, The Queen of Water is based on the real life of Marie Virginia Farinanigo as told to Laura Resau. I just want to know how she became queen.

130. Peru. Indians, archeologists, and a journalist investigating the crimes of the past. This true story caught my eye with a humorous title, Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time by Mark Adams. Mix in a little Romancing the Stone, a little Indiana Jones, and a little Crocodile Dundee, but make it real. Reviewers say that reading it makes you want to go to Machu Picchu, so I need to wait until I can afford the trip.

131. Brazil. You don’t hear much about what’s going on in Brazil these days. Oh, they do that Mardi Gras thing once a year, and there’s the odd sporting event. (Seriously, as Mexico is my next door neighbor, I am thrilled with the success of El Tri!) Hot Rio Nights by Stella Price and Audra Price is an erotic paranormal romance. Most of rthe reviewers love it, but one stated the editing was so bad she had to stop reading. I wonder if they used that faulty transcription software that read arms as ass? That would be difficult to read, wouldn’t it?

132. Bolivar. By now, you have picked up that besides romance and porn and pirates, I also enjoy stories where a young person has to deal with and make the best of horrible circumstances. So this title won’t surprise you at all. I Am a Taxi by Deborah Ellis chronicles a 12-year-old boy’s family as the traditional crop they raise, coca used for medicinal purposes, is made illegal, and his parents go to jail. Son Diego can come and go as he pleases, working as a Taxi for the prisoners to earn some money. Of course, there is a lot of conflict and strife as Diego learns an important lesson about life.

133. Paraguay. Amusing typo in the Goodreads summary says this book is set in 1297 when natives meet Europeans. Quickly consulting my history jingles, I remembered Columbus sailed the ocean blue in Fourteen Hundred and Ninety-two. So, yeah, Land Without Evil by Matthew J. Pallmary doea not involve time travel. Too bad, but it does involve a young man caught between two cultures and a tribe who no longer exist on this earthly plane. One reader marked it as the highlight of his reading year.

134. Chile. By Night in Chile by Roberto Bolaño tells the many interesting tales taken from the life of a Jesuit priest on his deathbed. One reviewer says it reads like muscular poetry. I admire the author for the fact that he worked hard labor jobs during the day and wrote at night. That gets him on my list of heroic writers.

135. Argentina. Near the border with Paraguay, a lot of stuff happens in a town that may or may not be Corrientes. A man who is from two cultures is mixed up in some thrilling events. The Honorary Consul by Graham Greene is told with humor in a stimulating, quirky narrative. Greene wrote this late in his career, and it has less of a following than his other works, but seems well worth the look.

136. Uruguay. It’s very common to find book “descriptions” that tell you this was written with humor and passion, an ironic world view, using parables and paradox. Nice to know, but what’s it about? Most important, are there pirates or time travelers? The Book of Embraces by Eduardo Galeano is a collection of short stories, so it is difficult to say it’s about any one thing. And the reviews are not very helpful, as most of them are in other languages. However, one English speaker does say this is one of very few books she recommends to others. We’ll go with that.

137. The Falklands. Yeah, just about everything that takes place on these little blips of land deals with that war. The one where the British put their national foot down and did not surrender the colony. There were other islands involved, but they didn’t get their names in the war title, so only a few thousand people know about it. I’m making light of a very heavy subject, and it’s not my intention to belittle anyone who has experienced this or any other war event. And that is why Walking Tall: An Autobiography by Simon Weston is the book I chose. This Welshman experienced true horror, and has the fortitude to relive it all in the writing of this book. He has other books continuing on from this, about his continuing progress. The next time I feel sorry for myself for any reason, I’m going to read this one.

138. Antarctica. South Pole adventures abound, especially in the realm of horror. I imagine the come from the brains of people who hate winter. Subterranean by James Rollins is classed as a thriller and an adventure novel. There’s lots of room for a romance here, but it’s not on the list. The mystery as old as time aspect makes me wonder, though. Very mixed reviews, comparing it to Jurassic Park with snow and more like Fraggle Rock. I’m thinking the author (who has a bunch of popular thrillers in print) tried to write something different, and the fans were not amused. (Born in Chicago. I rest my case.)

139. New Zealand. I’ve always wanted to visit this country, maybe even emigrate there if we get closer to nuclear war in my lifetime. Seems New Zealand is most likely to survive the fallout. I also want to read The Spanish Helmet by Greg Scowen. The problem with what we know about the past is that it’s mostly circumstantial evidence. We could inadvertently believe and “know” a whole lot of stuff that just isn’t so. That’s the basis for this adventure tale. Because if someone stands to lose big in the revelation of the truth, they might do whatever it takes to stop that revelation. The first book in the Dr. Matthew Cameron series.

140. Tasmania. Again, as your tour guide, I’m invoking literary license and making Tasmania a separate country. And I’m going to list two books. Because I can. The first one is Thyla by Kate Gordon. A Young Adult novel about a girl whose memory is missing for the most part, the book is listed as fantasy, paranormal, and a bit down the list, romance. Like the whole plot idea, as did most of the reviewers. Gould’s Book of Fish: A Novel in Twelve Fish by Richard Flanagan takes place in the most brutal penal colony in the British Empire (who votes these things?) and is not a wildlife book. Billy Gould draws fish as a way to keep sane and alive while incarcerated. Mixed reviews, but many of them! That says something in itself. And one even mentions man’s inhumanity to man.

Now we will rest here on this huge, primitive island until heading over to Van Dieman’s Land next Sunday. Look for a few paragraphs of my Regency erotica on Wednesday. Nothing too explicit, just the set-up. Happy Father’s Day in the United States!

Inspiring Music To Write By

If you are a writer and you aren’t a member of Scribophile, you are missing out. I lead a group there called Writers Who Love Romance, and I am privileged to have some of the most creative, zany, talented, and horny women and men in the group. We’ve got a couple threads going in the group forum called the Candy Dish where we post links to photos of hot models who look like the main characters in our novels. This has really helped me visualize my writing.

A very interesting and popular thread started by my blog hop buddy Mika Jolie ( has members making playlists like crazy. What music is a theme song for your main characters? What inspires you to write romance, or action, or mystery?

I hit something of a blank wall with this, as my writing is set in a historical time period when rock and roll wasn’t even a glimmer in anyone’s eyes. But there were country dances, waltzes, and Scottish airs of particular popularity. I have yet to decide, too, if I must listen only to period music while writing. For instance, a story idea that is tucked away for now was inspired by a Nickelback song, Savin’ Me.

Find a Way by Safetysuit is good.

Interesting, In Safe Hands by Badly Drawn Boy

Very nice version of Ellie Goulding’s Hanging On

Got a hero who’s flawed? Like a Storm’s Break Free is good! (Why have I never heard of them before this? Love the Way You Hate Me is great, too! )

So, I was saying about period music. And Scottish folk songs were very popular. But probably not The Ghosts of Culloden. Bonnie Prince Charlie was a romantic figure, but still.

This list of Irish and Scottish songs is nearly perfect!

A few beautiful Strauss waltzes:

And the odd bit of popular music: And now I’m in the mood to write. See you on Sunday.

Around the World in 80+ Books, Part 6

Good thing we waited until summer to head so far north. Luckily, this part of our journey will end in the Caribbean! Ready?

101. Norway. I love history, you may have noticed, and some years ago a friend lent a book to me that explored the history of the world where her family originated. I didn’t know until researching this list that the book I read was only part one of a series. Kristin Lavrandsdatter by Sigrid Undset qualifies as a Norse Saga, covering so many wonderful aspects of life both medieval (14th Century) and Norwegian. Of course it was written in the language of the author, so try to get the most recent translation by Tina Nunnally. Read the whole series, you will want to once you start.

102. Iceland. I discovered a special prize of a book. The author was the bass player in a group called The Sugarcubes. Bragi Olafsson writes a story called The Pets, which could easily be the script for a 60s madcap comedy film with a star-studded cast and lots of crazy stunts. Again, we are at the mercy of translators unless you happen to speak Icelandic, but the only real complaint from the reviews is that the book just ends. Maybe a sequel will show up someday?

103. Greenland. Not too many books take place in Greenland. I am making this a goal in my writing career, to go to the country and think of something to write that takes place there. However, there is one book with the intriguing title of An African in Greenland by Tété -Michel Kpomassie. This is not a work of fiction, actually. The book records the adventures of the author who as a young man is obsessed with Greenland, and eventually makes his way there. From Togo tribes to the Inuit is apparently not that much of a change. Most reviews are favorable, and the title alone gets my interest.

104. Canada. Not going to take the easy, Anne of Green Gables way out. Nope. Even though those books and the wonderful TV series are high on my list of great stories. Instead, I am going with a paranormal romance. Because Canada and weremounties and stuff. This is the first book in a series called Living in Eden, and the title is The Demon in Me. Michelle Rowen is the author. A little crime, a little possession by a sexy demon, and a lot of heat. I like the cover, too!

105. The United States of America, East Coast. Yeah, next summer I think I’ll do a fifty book tour of the US. But for now, heading down to the warm waters, just going to take a short stop in Upstate New York as long as we are doing urban fantasy, let’s step it up with a male/male romance. Handsome Beast by J.J. Cassidy grabbed my attention with the awesome cover, a red rose in the snow. And then I read the synopsis and reviews, and realized this was M/M. An original idea to me, so it’s on my list.

106. Mexico. Don’t believe that I think I can sum up one whole country in a book, especially fiction. Especially paranormal romances. Yep. Just seems like I found some of the most interesting books in that category. Accidentally Yours sounds like an awesome series, and the first one is Accidentally in Love with . . . a God? By Mimi Jean Pamfilofe. This god is the heroine’s secret friend, a voice only she can hear, but she does see him in her dreams. The reviews are mixed, but all agree that the heroine is someone you will love from the start. I’m in!

107. Cuba. Happens we be in pirate waters now, me hearties! Aye, and For Love of a Pirate by Anthony Esler gets the old timbers shivering, for sure! The daughter of the governor of Cuba is kidnapped by an English pirate. What could go wrong?

108. Dominican Republic. Unless you or your family lived on the beautiful island of Hispaniola, you probably know little about the history of this country. The Feast of the Goat by Mario Vargas Llosa lets the reader see the past and the present through the eyes of one woman who returns to the country of her birth. The Revolution that ended Rafael Trujillo’s tyranny began the struggle toward peace and prosperity, but those who lived through it were forever scarred.

109. Puerto Rico. Another beautiful island, and certainly lots of pirate history, but not everyone likes the same things. Not everyone wants the same kind of relationships. Some people want it all. Missing Linc by Kori Roberts looks at poly relationships, as in love not limited to a couple. Tomi and Mitch, still rebuilding their lives after being betrayed years ago by the third member of their life and love meet Linc, a man also rebuilding both his love life and his professional life. Don’t worry, it works out. Now, I know most of the hot, sexy romances and erotica don’t come with warnings, so I am a little miffed that this one has one: Publisher’s Note: This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations that some readers may find objectionable: Anal play/intercourse, exhibitionism, homoerotic sexual situations (m/m, f/f), menage (m/m/f), voyeurism. And if I read the set up of the book and liked it, wouldn’t I be expecting that? Go figure. Good reviews, so worth a look.

110. Guatemala. No doubt, when you think of Central America, you think of magic sex witches. The Bruja’s Tale by Timothy A. Madden explores the hold magic and superstition has on the people of Guatemala. Take someone whose life is nearly perfect, get them involved with solving a murder and having to avoid being murdered as well, and you have a pretty good suspense novel.

111. Honduras. In 1998, Hurricane Mitch brought destruction to the Central American country. This is a chillingly real story of a young boy’s sudden role as a grown up, helping his family survive. A short novel with a powerful punch, Jose Cruz discovers there’s more important things than getting away to play soccer.

112. Nicaragua. Now and then, a children’s book can bring gifts to adults. Trisba & Sula: A Miskitu Folktale from Nicaragua/Una Leyenda de Los Miskitos de Nicaragua by Joan Maccracken delivers a lesson from the forest in both Spanish and English. Beautifully illustrated by Agusto Silva, the story brings lessons in language, art, and environmental ethics to the reader.

113. Costa Rica. I like to recommend a book that gets an abundance of 5-star reviews. If that includes a good story, all the better. Anarcho Grow: Pura Vida in Costa Rica by T. A. Sedlak is another beautifully illustrated books, but not a children’s story. This is a marijuana adventure story. One of the reviews in the summary is from Steve Bloom, one-time editor of High Times Magazine.

114. Panama. A man, a plan, a canal. Panama. I love stories about tribes and their various cultures and beliefs. More often than not, the story is about a boy or young man, because so many societies subjugate women. So Panama Girl by Ida Freer is a delight. Through the eyes of Surni, a young girl of the Embera tribe. Her people have survived through their ability to adapt. But how much adaptaion is too much? Will there be anything left of their culture if they go too far?

115. Haiti. Race, class, and colonialism. That about categorizes what this country came from. In All Souls’ Rising, the first of a trilogy on the changes brought about through revolution, Madison Smartt Bell portrays the love of liberty and the hope of equality behind the violence and terror. To bring about a change, one may need to risk all that has meaning.

116. Bahamas. Is it a sell-out to go with an obvious book? Triangle, the third book in the Seeds of Civilization trilogy by R.J. Archer, might be okay as a stand-alone. I Have not read it, but based on the mystery/suspense with a sci-fi twist description, I got the first book for my eReader. I’m hesitant to trust the reviews as two of them are from the author, and one is from someone with the same last name. But what the heck, Bermuda and the Caribbean never get old.

117. Virgin Islands. Due to the split personality of these islands, I have two books to recommend. For the British side, we have an entertaining romp via a television reality show. Really Dead by J.E.Foreman is a Ria Butler murder mystery. It’s the first one in a hopefully long series, and involves finding a tattooed foot. For the US side, Timothy of the Cay by Theodore Taylor is my pick. I don’t often have psychic experiences, except with my husband, but just as I was searching Goodreads for books set in the Virgin Islands, I remembered the TV movie, The Cay, and how much I loved it. Well, this book is the same characters, and was a natural. The reviews are mixed, I guess depending on how much you liked the first book. Give it a go.

118. Caribbean Islands. Yeah, just an excuse to suggest more pirate books. Well, one of my all time favorite romance writers is Linda Lael Miller. And she has written a book involving pirates and time travel. Need I say more? The title? Yeah, that would be helpful. Pirates.

119. Curaçao . Truly, there is little to choose from about this island country. And I really wanted a book that takes place there. But I settled for The House of Six Doors by Patricia Selbert, and I expect it to be an enjoyable read. I especially like the review which says, “If you feel as though the circumstances of your life are against you and you wonder whether this will ever change, this is a story that will fill you with hope.” –David Robert Ord. And it’s never too late for hope.

120. Aruba. Again, a lovely place that few people have written novels set there. So to wrap up this ear lobe of our journey, I give you a light read, a young teen romance with an irritating heroine. Tropical Kiss by Jan Coffey sounds perfect for a day of relaxing at the beach.

And if you finish it too quickly, here’s a non-fiction that sounds like a charming and funny book. Does This Island Go To the Bottom? By Eric H. Pasley, retired SCUBA diving instructor.

We’ll wait here until next Sunday, when we meet up with Errol Flynn in Jamaica. And on Wednesday, we have a musical interlude planned. See you then.