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Maya-Banks

Wednesday News: Invention revolutionizes women’s health in India; Maya Banks hits Jeopardy; Salon defends Romance; and the Pope gets his own magazine

Wednesday News: Invention revolutionizes women’s health in India; Maya Banks hits...

The Indian sanitary pad revolutionary – Okay, this is one of the most riveting and inspiring stories I’ve read in a while (which may say something about how little I’ve been able to read lately). Arunachalam Muruganantham, who has no college education or specific training — spent years (seriously – he started in 1998) researching, experimenting, innovating, designing, and building a machine that could cheaply manufacture sanitary pads for women in rural India. His commitment to this process is nothing short of extraordinary (some – including his wife, who left him during the process, although they are since reconciled – might call him obsessive). At one point he even fashioned a bladder of goat’s blood on himself so he could test out his prototypes. Subject to gossip, rumors, and ostracism, Muruganantham persevered, and managed to build a machine that is not only easy to use, but it’s easy to learn, which means that it has provided both a product and a source of employment for the women it is meant to help. The only sad part? Muruganantham hasn’t seemed to earn very much from his invention, although now he is focused on a global market.

When Muruganantham looked into it further, he discovered that hardly any women in the surrounding villages used sanitary pads – fewer than one in 10. His findings were echoed by a 2011 survey by AC Nielsen, commissioned by the Indian government, which found that only 12% of women across India use sanitary pads.

Muruganantham says that in rural areas, the take-up is far less than that. He was shocked to learn that women don’t just use old rags, but other unhygienic substances such as sand, sawdust, leaves and even ash.

Women who do use cloths are often too embarrassed to dry them in the sun, which means they don’t get disinfected. Approximately 70% of all reproductive diseases in India are caused by poor menstrual hygiene – it can also affect maternal mortality. –BBC News

Maya Banks Makes It To Jeopardy – Not the author herself, but her books. It’s pretty cool, and possibly an indication that The Book That Shall Not Be Named is helping mainstream other Romances. –Twitter

Highbrow media’s sexist blind spot: Romance novels – Although this post contains no byline, it’s an intelligent meditation on the way the cultural marginalization of Romance reflects a larger issue with the cultural marginalization of women’s voices, as reflected most recently in the new VIDA results. Read it.

The typical excuse for that exclusion is genre, not gender. But those two words have a common root, and are intertwined in many ways. Romance is seen as unserious and frivolous because women are seen as unserious and frivolous, and romance is written largely by women, for women, about concerns traditionally seen as feminine (Jennifer Weiner and Jodi Picoult have made a similar argument about commercial fiction by women). I wouldn’t argue that the LRB and similar publications need to cover romance if they want to get more female book reviewers. But I would say that the mind-set that says that romance novels are automatically trash is linked to the mind-set that prevents these venues from publishing more women writers. –Salon

Berlusconi’s Publishing House Launches Pope Weekly – Am I the only one who’s surprised that the Pope doesn’t have his own magazine? In a marketplace where Christian publishing continues to grow and grow, this isn’t really surprising. And given the fact that the publisher also puts out a gossip magazine, I imagine that part of the agenda here is to reinvigorate the Catholic Church’s popularity among the younger generations. It will be interesting to see how well it sells, and if it will be distributed outside Italy.

Editor Aldo Vitali said Francis’ election a year ago has generated new interest in the papacy and moral and ethical themes that will be highlighted. –ABC News

Reading List for Jane, Ending October 4, 2011

Reading List for Jane, Ending October 4, 2011

I’ve been reading a lot of ARCs so most of my reading list are for titles not published until November, December and January. I hope that is okay with the readers.

Contemporary:

Holiday Kisses, an anthology by Shannon Stacey, HelenKay Dimon, Jaci Burton, and Alison Kent. I liked all the stories in this contemporary Christmas anthology although Burton’s was my least favorite. Burton’s story was about the ex husband of the heroine’s sister and I felt that the short story format didn’t allow for nuance (ie. perhaps the sister and the hero were just two different people rather than the sister being the evol one). I probably liked Stacey’s story the best although Dimon and Kent’s were also heartwarming. It’s a good follow up to last year’s Christmas anthology. Maybe next year, we’ll have some non Christian holiday celebrants in the collection.  Full review to come in December.

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Behind the Scenes by Natalie J. Damschroeder. This is a romantic suspense. The heroine is a security expert and she is asked to provide security for movie that is being directed by a friend of hers. She falls for the main lead. I believed in their love story. The hero was really attracted to the heroine and her passionate belief in the services that she provided. I wasn’t necessarily sold on this hero as an actor. He lacks a certain gravitas and hubris that I associate with celebrities. Full review to come in November after the October 31 release date.

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Fatal Heat by Lisa Marie Rice. I recommend this for LMR fans only. It’s short on  substance and long on total unbelievability. At least it was only $.99.  Hero is SEAL who was wounded and sent to his CO’s condo to heal. He is not returning to the teams.  Heroine is CO’s niece and researcher. One look at the heroine and the hero gains a new lease on life. Heroine’s life is endangered. Hero does really amazing physical things to save her. HEA.

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Mouth to Mouth by Erin McCarthy. This was a reread after the post by Maili regarding deaf characters. I really like the story and I thought that McCarthy did a good job of showing some of the challenges of a deaf person. There are a lot of things that McCarthy got wrong as pointed out by Maili. I didn’t recognize those so they didn’t affect the reading experience for me but I can see how it would be a challenge for someone who was hearing-impaired to be fully satisfied with the rendering.  Full review here.

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Whispers in the Dark by Maya Banks.  I liked it but didn’t love it.  Features a heroine who has a psychic connection to the hero.  I felt like there was too much telephathic talking and way too much PDA.  Fans of the series will probably enjoy the series. At least the heroine isn’t from outer space.

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Historical

Mad About the Earl by Christina Brooke. I haven’t read Brooke before and I found the “Ministry of Marriage” concept to be kind of ridiculous and the cast of characters is huge. I actually stopped reading to go to the author’s site to see if I could find a character guide or something. The author doesn’t have much of anything on her site but it was enough to provide a basis by which I could return the book. Essentially there are six Westruther cousins that were all wards of one man. He apparently does not have an heir and I suspect that there will be a story for him at a later date. Problematically, is that there are several titled individuals who have the same name (deVere or Westruther) and it was a real challenge to keep everyone apart.  Having said that, I did enjoy the book once I got a handle on the cast. Full review to come in January 2012.

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Category

The Man Every him Woman Wants by Miranda Lee. This is a December Harlequin Presents. The hero is a former soccer great who now represents other athletes. The heroine is an attorney who reviews his contracts. She asks him to pose as her boyfriend and he agrees. It’s a sweet story and they were both cute characters–No alpha asshole–but the endless exposition toward the end was a little much.

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A Christmas Night to Remember by Helen Brooks. Another December Harlequin Presents. Heroine, a dancer, is hideously scarred as a result of an accident and wants to leave her husband, a famous director. She can’t compete with the glitterati and thinks she is bound to lose him because of her scarred body. He pursues her relentlessly and won’t let her push him away. It was okay.

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Craving the Forbidden and In Bed with a Stranger by India Grey. This is a December and January HP release, respectively. There is an HEA in both but the second book does feature the same characters. The first one, the heroine poses as the girlfriend of her gay bestfriend and falls for said best friend’s brother. I like them both and would recommend them. Full reviews to come.

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Sweet Betrayal by Helen Brooks. This is a Harlequin Treasury book. As I said in the podcast with Sarah this is all about a heroine who jumps to awful conclusions and says awful things as a result of those awful conclusions and I just could not stand her.

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Heart of the Desert by Carol Marinelli. I liked the tone but not the storyline which portrayed the heroine Georgie as an irresponsible chit when she didn’t want to tie herself down to the rules imposed by the desert kingdom in which her sister lived. I did like that her sister and her didn’t have a hearts and roses relationship given that the sister was a former HP heroine (ha, that sounds funny). I did like the mysticism that the desert held for the people, though.

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Missing Mother-to-Be by Elle Kennedy. I wanted to give this a negative grade I disliked it so much. No worries. We will have a full review full of quotes and everything.

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The Most Coveted Prize by Penny Jordan. Hero is gross. Sets out to seduce a virgin and discard her so he can win a contract from her half brother.  Not because he needs revenge or any ridiculous HP ideal but because he wants this final contract to cement his place as a financial power.  She’s 19.  He’s in his 30s.  The power dynamic, not to mention the very skeevy way in which the hero set out to seduce the heroine, was quite disturbing.

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The Ice Prince by Sandra Marton. The hero delights in being a sexist jerk. Isn’t reformed into a non sexist jerk, just a sexist jerk who loves the heroine. Essentially, this is an opposites attract story where the hero owns some land in Sicily and the ownership of the land is challenged by a mob boss in the U.S. Mob boss sends his daughter, a lawyer, to Italy to negotiate a deal. Hero and heroine strike sparks off one another, first in anger then in passion. He grovels heavily to her brothers and then goes to her and proposes marriage. Whilst he was groveling to her brothers, I kept wondering why he wasn’t abasing himself before her.

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PNR

Ilona Andrews was looking for reviewers of Silver Shark and I volunteered. Silver Shark is a short story set in a futuristic world. I thought Andrews did a great job of imparting little details like vegetation to provide authenticity for world. I thought, though, the heroine embraced her lust for the hero too quickly, particularly since she was supposed to be shut down emotionally.  I do need to do a review of this and will next week.

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Fate’s Edge by Ilona Andrews. This is an ARC of a December release (late November). Heroine is a magically gifted Edger who is trying to make it in the Broken as a private investigator. She thinks she loves the normalcy of it. Unfortunately her con artist father gets her to participate in one last heist which leads her to be the target of the very evil group called the Hand, a kind of special police of a magically gifted faction in the fae land called the Weird. She gets some help from an agent of the Mirror and the brothers of Rose, the heroine in On the Edge. The agent of the Mirror is the cousin of Cerise Mar from Bayou Moon. Enjoyed this quite a bit and would recommended. Full review to come in December.

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Of course, this led to a re-read of Bayou Moon and On The Edge by Ilona Andrews.

Envy by JR Ward. This book just showed up on my doorstep. I opened it up and I start reading and the next thing I knew, I was hooked. I actually stopped reading Ward after the ghost story and lost interest in the BDB series. I thought the Fallen Angel series was much more urban fantasy than romantic but I found Envy to be very romantic.  Thomas DelVecchio Jr. is the son of an infamous serial killer.  He blacks out and when he comes to a suspected killer is savaged and Veck thinks he might have done it.  IA officer (not detective?) Sophia Reilly is called in to investigate. She clears him pretty quickly as the savaging was done by a wild animal (or so everyone thinks) but there is a battle over Veck’s soul.  The battle is the overarcing series plot pertaining to a contest between good and evil.

I then went and bought the previous 2 books and I tried to read Crave and could not get past the 1st chapter again so that was a waste of $7.95. Tried Covet and again that book did not work for me in any fashion so I just did a search and find so I could read the parts about Jim and his new love that is kind of referenced in Envy. And I chalk that up to a $16 mistake. (I’m sure at one time the publisher had sent me Covet and Crave in paper but I’m also sure that I don’t have those anywhere in my house).

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I also re read some of Nalini Singh’s Archangel series. Not very productive behavior.

Erotic Romance

Double Shot by Christine D’Abo. I can barely remember what this book is about. Sadie is part owner in a catering coffee shop. Her family business is asked to cater a party at a sex club. This is all an effort for Sadie and sex club board member to get in each other’s pants. I felt the hero was too emo and the primary sex scene in this novella featured a “Sadie, may I” game which got old after the second “Sadie, may I” but you have to endure it for at least a half a dozen times. That was five times too many for me.

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Sapphire by Jeffe Kennedy.  BDSM books with the male as a dom who knows everything have always bothered me and this is no different.  The hero came off as very smug and superior who felt like it was his duty to show the heroine what a true “sub” she was.  A very “father knows best” sort of tone.  And it wasn’t as if the hero sensed this *just* about the heroine.

This is a guy who has mechanical controls in his library and bedroom including hooks and rings that come out of the floor and lower from the ceiling. Did he just troll the streets looking for those secret subs?  And when he was whipping her with his belt, it was because he said she wanted it and needed it to free her of her own inhibitions.  I hated his know-it-all smugness and how I felt he took advantage of the heroine’s competitive nature. She did not want to give in to him and say the safe word.  There is a slight turn around in the end, but by that time, I just despised the hero.

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