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An unnatural worth by Mya

Synopsis: Lexis, a vampire, gets a little too conceited and confident and pisses his elders off. As a punishment his coven turns against him, blinds him and leaves him for dead. He gets captured by humans and, together with other supernatural beings, is being experimented upon in some institution. When some of his fellow inmates make it possible to escape he’d rather stay behind and just die. However, Bryce, a werewolf, has other plans and drags him along. Bryce wants to avenge Lexis – against Lexis’ will -, but as a result of this well-meaning action, his old coven captures Lexis to finish him off for good.

Review: OK, this was different. The whole story is being told in first person. I usually don’t like that I only get one person’s angle, but from an excerpt I knew already that the story was told from Lexis’ point of view. So no complaints here. What was strange for me was that Lexis also is blind, so we never receive any visual impressions, but only Lexis’ feelings and what he experiences by touch or from hearing.
Bryce is totally smitten with Lexis, a fact that Lexis doesn’t recognize. He is totally unaware of his own appeal. On the other hand he feels dependent on Bryce and is quite taken with him as well. The love scenes are hot (I wouldn’t expect anything else) and took some getting used to. The warning on the shop site that the story contained sex in shifted form made me wonder whether I’d like it at all (given my opinion about the Wolf Tales by Kate Douglas), but I went for it anyway. So once I got over the fact that Bryce turned at some point to a certain degree the scenes were quite good, but nothing I’d like to read repeatedly.

What I liked was Bryce’s dedication to support Lexis and his determination to avenge him and help him restore his eyesight. Even though Lexis doesn’t recognize this himself and even fights it, it is just what he needs. Those two certainly make an interesting couple. All in all, this was a good read and the unique perspective made it quite extraordinary.

Available at Loose ID

[rating: 3]

Article

Thursday 13: Name generators

This Thursday 13 is about generators. Some people think a name makes or breaks a book (see my blog post here). So I thought I’d hunt down a few name generators on the web. They can be fun!

1. Elvish name generator

2. Hobbit name generator

3. Serendipity
Generator for loads of things. Names, places, creatures, characters, novel titles, room descriptions and much more. You can create even Mary-Sues. Here is the one the generator came up with when I did it:

A groundbreaking woman lawyer, Desirée Larousse-Fairfax has vibrant hazelnut orbs and satiny bronze hair, and cannot disguise her streak of white hair. All are awed when she reveals the beauty of a thousand blooming roses. Little does she know she is really Mme. Hucheloup’s long-lost cousin.

4. Vampire name generator

5. Random name generator
for various races, locations etc.

6. The Forge
All purpose fantasy names, creature names, setting and location names, spells, effects and arcane names.

7. Fantasy name generator
Various options to choose from as well.

8. Lovecraftian name generator
Names in the style of, you guessed it, H. P. Lovecraft. More generators available at Seventh Sanctum.

9. Pirate name generator

10. Jedi name generator

11. Generatorland
Lots of fun stuff, e.g. horror movie title generator ("Bounced Checks of the Dwarf"), Twitter status generator for people without a life of their own ("Fundamentally evasive and playing with war machines.") and so on.

12. Band name generator

13. Romance story generator
The following is the first story that came up: This story starts in an electronics store. In it, an illogical fighter pilot is in love with a bandit who is more than meets the eye. It seems a betrayal will bring them even closer together.
Doesn’t sound any stranger than some stories I have read. Maybe this is the secret source of romance writers.

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Hero, Stay & Scars by Jessica Freely

Synopsis: David’s life is at stake when he gets robbed by a few gang members.Fortunately he is rescued by a homeless man who kills one of his attackers. David, who is leading a boring life as a book seller and is craving some adventure, asks him to come home with him, intending to feed him and put him up for a night.Seth turns out to be the perfect man for David. They click on a lot of levels. David is determined to make this relationship work, however, Seth’s traumatizing past is hard to overcome.

Review: The story is told in three instalments.
In Hero, David and Seth meet and spend their first night together.
In Stay, David makes it clear to Seth that he wants him to stay for good. He also finds out that there is more to learn about Seth’s past.
In Scars, after trying to find a job, Seth decides he won’t be a burden to David and leaves. David can’t accept that and tracks him down. He learns more about Seth’s horrifying past and persuades Seth to try to make things work for both of their sakes.

There is one complaint about this trilogy. It is way too short. I do enjoy reading novellas, but the whole plot deserves much more than what we got. OK, can’t be helped now, but I truly hope that we haven’t seen the end of David and Seth. There are some loose ends to be tied up, but besides this, those two guys deserve much more screen time just because.
David and Seth are wonderful characters that I want to know more about. Seth is as tough as can be, but at the same time vulnerable, gentle, loving and caring. How he carried those traits through his life, I can’t fathom,but that he did shows just what a strong personality he’s got. David on the other hand is a bookworm, nothing has ever been going on in his life, he is trusting to the point where you ask yourself whether he is in his right mind, but turns out to be correct with his assessment all along.

The way those two men come and stay together is heartwarming. Seth got out of the hell he’s been in out of his own accord and it is not surprising that he is insecure and can’t believe his luck. David is someone who stands by him no matter what. When he’s told about a previous murder Seth is probably involved in, he hardly bats an eyelid. In other novels that’s the stuff that drives along a plot full of misunderstandings and lack of communication. Not so here and thank God for that. David does address the issue which leads to the revelation of Seth’s past. But he doesn’t have to think twice about his feelings. He accepts what happened and lets nothing stand in between them. I just loved that.

The way Jessica Freely packs the whole plot (and I left out quite a bit) into two short stories and a short novella is amazing. Plus, she writes some hot love scenes on top of all that that feel neither rushed nor crammed in. I don’t know how she managed that. On the other hand, she could have dragged the whole story out into a volume of hundreds of pages and I still wouldn’t have had enough. I still want to read more about how Seth gets vindicated of the murders, how David and Seth go on with their live, how Seth gets a proper job, etc. Just more of everything. Can you tell I’m totally enthralled?

One word of advice: If you decide to get "Hero", just pick up the two sequels right away. After reading the first part, you will want to read right on.

Available at Torquere Books

[rating:5]

Article

I stumbled upon…#3

Today I stumbled upon…

this Fortune cookie. Love it.

Want to hide something? How to make a hollow book to create a little place for your secrets.

Just some Handsome books to look at.

Don’t like the happy Disney fairy tales? Here are some Gruesome fairy tale origins with not so friendly endings.

Lots of free books can be found at manybooks.net. Among them is one of my favourites, "The enchanted April". They are all downloadable in a lot of different formats.

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Book locations: The Gargoyle

Part of The Gargoyle is set in a cloister in medieval Germany. What I wasn’t aware of is the fact that said cloister was just around the corner from where we live. So I thought we’d go today and have a look at what the location looks like today. Not much of the cloister is still there. In 1565 it was abandoned and the property divided. Engelthal (valley of angels) is a village in the middle of nowhere. I was amazed at the amount of snow there. Where we live the snow is melting and muddy, but up the hills in the countryside there are tons left. Figures that I have to go there in the middle of winter when all the snow services are complaining about the lack of road salt, :-).

This is the parish church that was built around 1270. I’m not sure whether it belonged to the cloister or not. To see a few more pictures, please click on the image or here.

Article

The sequel to Dracula

Not that this is real news, since the Guardian talked about it already last October, but I only read it in the January issue of Writers’ News. Dacre Stoker, Bram Stoker’s great-grandnephew is writing an official sequel to Dracula. The story, set in 1912, will feature characters of the original as well as some that were removed from it and even Bram Stoker himself.

The title will be Dracula: The Un-Dead and will be published this October. Already a film version is planned. Prior to the release a previously un-published version of Dracula will be published in the US and in the UK.

Dacre Stoker intends to "give the novel’s legions of loyal fans […] the return of the real Dracula."

I can hardly wait.

Article

The Elf and Shoemaker by M. L. Rhodes

Synopsis: Logan Shoemaker runs an unsuccessful magick shoppe. No customers, no money for the energy bill, no food but instant ramen noodles. All in all, he’s pretty down. Along comes Hallan, an elf from a parallel world, who has been watching Logan through a mirror for nine months now (or rather longer in elf-time) and who finally had the chance to cross over into Logan’s world. Not only provides Hallan Logan with a powerful potion that sells like hot cakes in his shop, but also he turns Logan’s love life – so far non-existent- upside down. However, Hallan lives in a dangerous world he can’t just leave behind.

Review: M. L. Rhodes is starting to become one of my favourite erotica writers. Her characters are so endearing, you can’t help rooting for them constantly. That goes for this story as well. It is classified as a fairy tale and this fits perfectly. A good to the core human, struggling to make a living, elves, an evil usurper king, magical objects, wondrous potions, it’s all there, woven into a great tale (unfortunately way too short for my taste). The love scenes are sizzling hot and leave nothing to be desired; those two guys are just made for each other. One thing I particularly like about the story here is the fact that an issue, that always leaves me wondering, is being resolved in the end. The pairing of an immortal and a mortal person is somewhat dissatisfying in the long run (at least for the immortal one). Thank God, the HEA here leaves Hallan and Logan on equal terms in that respect.

After reading this novella M. L. Rhodes goes on my autobuy list. Do I need to say any more?

Available at Amber Allure

[rating:5]

Article

Organize your book collection online

Obviously organizing books on your shelves is a popular topic to talk about. Organizing online would be another interesting topic. There seem to be a lot of online communities or sites out there to help you organizing. I use Shelfari and am totally happy with it. I like the various groups and the way I can tag books.

These sites are just a few I found on the net.

Shelfari shelf

Living social
Shelfari
Goodreads
The library thing
Reader²
Gurulib
Lib.rario.us

If you are on Facebook you can also use Visual Bookshelf.

 

Nothing nicer than a well organized book shelf.

Article

Thursday 13: Book quotes

 For today’s Thursday 13 I’m listing some of my favourite book quotes…

  1. Anyone who says they have only one life to live must not know how to read a book.  ~Author Unknown
  2. It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.  ~Oscar Wilde
  3. "Tell me what you read and I’ll tell you who you are" is true enough, but I’d know you better if you told me what you reread.  ~François Mauriac
  4. There are two motives for reading a book: one, that you enjoy it; the other, that you can boast about it. ~Bertrand Russell
  5. A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it, or explore an explosive idea without fear it will go off in your face.  It is one of the few havens remaining where a man’s mind can get both provocation and privacy.  ~Edward P. Morgan
  6. My test of a good novel is dreading to begin the last chapter.  ~Thomas Helm
  7. I’ve never known any trouble that an hour’s reading didn’t assuage.  ~Charles de Secondat,
  8. Books had instant replay long before televised sports.  ~Bern Williams
  9. If you have never said "Excuse me" to a parking meter or bashed your shins on a fireplug, you are probably wasting too much valuable reading time.  ~Sherri Chasin Calvo
  10. A book lying idle on a shelf is wasted ammunition. Like money, books must be kept in constant circulation. Lend and borrow to the maximum — of both books and money! But especially books, for books represent infinitely more than money. A book is not only a friend, it makes friends for you. When you have possessed a book with mind and spirit, you are enriched. But when you pass it on you are enriched threefold. ~Henry Miller
  11. The public library is the most dangerous place in town. ~John Ciardi
  12. I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library. ~Jorge Luis Borges
  13. A lot of people ask me if I were shipwrecked, and could only have one book, what would it be? I always say ‘How to Build a Boat ~Stephen Wright
Article

Souls Deep by M. L. Rhodes

Synopsis: While trying to escape a few killers hired by his family Griffin is shot and rescued by a stranger who saves his life. The stranger, Jarrah, turns out to be a vampire  to whom he feels extremely drawn.  Jarrah, in turn, develops feelings for Griffin and is determined to help him face and overcome his past.

Review: I chose this story for the erotica challenge and I didn’t go wrong here. My synopsis really doesn’t do this novella justice. Jarrah and Griffin are compelling characters who both have a need to find someone to love and who loves them. Both have been betrayed in their past and are very unhappy with their current lives. The way they find each other and after a short interlude find each other again is so heartwarming, you can’t help feeling warm and fuzzy yourself.

The love scenes are hot and sensual, yet at the same time loving. A word about the spanking scene. I usually hate them. To me they always feel stilted and forced, never fit into the context and seem as if just put in the book because the writer felt they had to have one. This is not so in this story. It fits right in and is fun to read. I never thought I’d say that about a spanking but I really enjoyed it, :-).

This won’t be the last story by M. L. Rhodes for me. If you enjoy novellas with a decent plot, hot scenes and deep emotions, "Souls Deep" is a good place to start.

Available at Amber Allure

[rating:5]

Article

I stumbled upon…#2

Today I stumbled upon…

…an entry about the book "Bibliotheken" (Libraries) by Candida Höfer at The Nonist. The book contains photos of libraries from all over the world. The pictures are pure eye candy. On top of it the book contains an essay by Umberto Eco, a treat in itself.

If you would like to know more about Edgar Allen Poe, go to Knowing Poe.

No time to read at home? Nothing to do during your your commute? Receive books in small installments by daily email or RSS feed from Dailylit.

Want to create your own bookmarks by folding beautiful paper? Here are two videos with how-to’s for Origami bookmarks
Origami bookmark 1
Same bookmark, but animated video

Article

Dan Brown has finished his new book

Aren’t I glad to hear this? According to an article at Seacoastonline his book – working title "The Solomon Key" – is rumoured to be released on Sept 18, since that date has some connection to Freemasonry. The Solomon Key will feature the Freemasons and is set in Washington D.C. I’m going to take a guess now as to some details of the book. I’m pretty sure that the scavenger hunt (and there will be one undoubtedly) will lead Langdon and his female sidekick along the whole east coast, all the way across continents to the Peruvian coast (Nazca lines!), then on to Rennes-le-Chateau until they end up in Munich. There they will find the grimoire in the Löwenbräukeller where it was hidden by the Nazis only to have it snatched away by a descendant of a Rosicrucian leader who wants the book for his own evil purposes. The exotic or homely locations will deceive the reader into believing they read a completely new book when in reality they just forked out whatever it costs for a warmed-up version of Langdons earlier adventures.

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Weekly geeks 2009-06: what’s in a name?

For this week’s edition of Weekly Geeks, we’re going to take a closer look at character names. What are some of your favorite character names? Look up a favorite character’s name. What does their name mean? Do you think the meaning fits the character? Why or why not?

I decided to explore the name of the Vicomte de Valmont. Problem: After skimming through "Dangerous Liaisons" by Choderlos de Laclos it seemed to me the Vicomte didn’t have a first name, at least I couldn’t find one. I couldn’t remember if I ever saw a first name appear in the book, last time I read the book was at least 15 years ago. Anyway, I wikied (is that already a valid verb, not sure) him and, strangely enough, the German wikipedia gives first names for some of the characters. Did you know that the Marquise de Merteuil’s first name was Isabelle?

OK, so now I had a name to start with, his first name was Sébastien.

Sébastien comes from the Greek name Sebastianos, which meant "from Sebaste", a town in Asia Minor. The name of the town again derived from the Greek word sebastos (sebastos) which means "venerable" or "august".

Does it fit the character? No. Valmont is a ruthless seducer with a bad reputation. He got together with the Marquise when she was left behind by Gercourt for another woman who in turn discarded Valmont for Gercourt. When the whole plot started he was determined to seduce a woman just to prove that he could, but soon gave in to Merteuil’s plan to seduce Cécile. Thus both were bound together by their wish for revenge. Merteuil because she wanted to see Gercourt’s future wife, Cécile, in disrepute, Valmont because Cécile’s mother advised his sex interest, Madame de Tourvel, against hooking up with him. Only when he has fallen in love with de Tourvel against his will, he realizes that he is just another instrument in Merteuil’s machinations. Even though his motives started out to be somewhat doubtful he never shows a real evil spirit, whereas his partner in crime is a truly mean, spiteful character. Valmont dies in the end from a duel wound, regretting deeply that he gave up his love for his pride and not before he made sure Merteuil’s plotting will become known – thus redeeming himself.

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Literary tattoos

This is a change from the usual tribals, dragons and chinese characters. Literary tattoos shows us tattooed quotes, images and poems. I especially like Max

There is no "underground" community, no dark den of drunken sailors
initiating themselves into manhood via cheap, ill-conceived exercises
in bodily perforation; it’s just a group of people who delight in using
their bodies as billboards.

(Joanne McCubrey, "Walking Art: Tattoos,"
Mountain Democrat Weekend magazine, 9 February 1990;
source:
www.quotegarden.com)

How unlucky for you if you are one of those people who fell into the hands of a tattoo artist who misspells. Your billboard will be ruined forever.

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Haiku

horedsofhell I love haiku. I sometime do a scrapbook page with one of my favourite haiku in order to have them ALL turned into a poetry album one day.

Here are some great haiku pages.

First some of the traditional stuff:
Haiku of Issa
Haiku of Shiki
Haiku of Basho
Here you can see the differences in translations depending on the translator. Interesting! I prefer R.H. Blyth’s interpretation in every case. Of course I have no idea about the original they were interpreting.

Computer haiku
Microsoft error messages would be so much nicer to read if they came in that format.

Erotic haiku:
Nerve haiku, part II
Haiku by Nerve staff members

A review of "True Blood" in haiku form:
True Blood

Do you know any cool haiku sites or great haiku?  Share them in the comments section, please! I always love to discover new haiku. 

(credits for scrapbook page: template: Nina, set 15; Michelle Coleman – Written in the stars; Photo corner: M. Fenwick – Firecracker; Fonts: Arrière Garde, Citizen Dick)

Article

Covenant in Blood by Ariel Tachna

Synopsis: The war between the wizards is raging on affecting the natural balance. Meanwhile the wizards and vampires slowly realize that the connection between the couples entails more than just giving and receiving blood and the vampires’ immunity to the sun. Some couples are completely happy with each other, while others are struggling. Still they have to make it work so that the alliance will remain intact. Marcel and Jean, the leaders of the two groups, are preparing to announce their alliance publicly, to even get more support in their fight against the dark wizards around Serrier.

Review: Again the story kept me reading all night. More details are coming out about the bond between wizards and vampires that make the stories about the various couples even more interesting. The "aveu de sang" (blood vow) between Alain and Orlando is still strong, but due to Orlando’s past and all his hang-ups the relationship between the two becomes more difficult. Alain would like more than Orlando is able to give. I can’t wait to learn more about how those great guys will overcome their problems.

All the characters, who were already quite distinct in the first part, are getting even more fleshed out in the second one. The relationship between Thierry and Sebastien is getting more room in this book, and I’m already looking forward to reading even more about them in the next one. The same goes for Jean and Raymond and some other couples.

If you like vampire stories with a great story arc that stretches over more than one book, great love scenes and lovable characters, this is the series for you. It certainly is the series for me.

Available at Dreamspinner Press

[rating:5]

Article

Thursday 13: Favourite books

I discovered Thursday 13 recently. I love lists, so compiling one every week will be a breeze for me – I hope. Since I want to keep this blog book related, however far fetched at times maybe, my first list is going to be 13 favourite books of mine in no particular order.

 

A suitable boy by Vikram Seth

Confessions of Felix Krull, Confidence Man by Thomas Mann

Perfume by Patrick Süskind

Beneath the wheel by Hermann Hesse

Catch 22 by Joseph Heller

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

A town like Alice by Nevil Shute

The mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

Tender is the night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Letters back to ancient China by Herbert Rosendorfer

Basically all stories by Ephraim Kishon. I found this book I’m linking to on amazon.com, but he wrote loads of books. One reviewer said that the original language of his books is German, which is not true. The original language is Hebrew and I suppose a lot of the quality depends on the translator.

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A rainbow of books

While browsing around today I came upon a flick’r group called Rainbow of books. Organizing one’s books by colour probably is not the most efficient way if you actually would like to find a specific book, but it certainly is one of the most beautiful ones.

Look at this amazing picture of chotda’s bookshelf:

chotda's book shelf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

And check out all her other photos once you’re there. But make sure you have some time on her hands, you won’t be leaving her flick’r site any time soon.

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Alliance in Blood by Ariel Tachna

Synopsis: For some time a conflict has been brewing in Paris. Dark wizards are trying to upset the natural order of things and take over. The milice wizards see a chance to gain a decisive advantage by persuading the vampires to join their forces.
In order to start negotiations Jean, the leader of the wizards sends his captain Alain to meet with an emissary of the vampires. As soon as Alain meets Orlando there is an instant attraction between the two.
It turns out that wizards and vampires can form a mutual bond that enables the vampires to face the sun, which makes them even more powerful allies than the wizards thought they would be. The bond depends on a certain chemistry, not every wizard is right for every vampire and vice versa. Thus there are some who struggle with their forced choice of partner, others are a perfect fit.
One of those latter couples are Alain and Orlando. They click from the first moment and decide to not only be partners in the alliance but much more than that.
Meanwhile the war with the dark wizards is raging on…

Review: Ariel Tachna says she has never read a vampire story in her life (haven’t I heard that before?), so I was expecting something  in the line of Twilight as far as the vampire culture was concerned. Was I wrong! She did a great job building a complex world with a lot of characters to keep track of. All the characters are fleshed out and have a distinct personality. Just the thought of all those wizards and vampires walking around in beautiful Paris is so exciting. From what I understand the whole story of the war was written as one book and then later divided into four parts. This first part has no conclusion and at the end I just couldn’t wait to get my hands on the second part.

The idea of wizards and vampires forming some blood bond is fascinating and really kept my interest up. Since Alain and Orlando are the first two to pair up (and not because they had to, but because they chose each other), this part mainly deals with them. However, a lot of  other characters are being introduced in a way that was neither forced nor seemed rushed in any way.

Now,  Alain and Orlando: wow, what a couple! I have hardly ever read a romance with such an (instant) attraction and such devotion to each other. From the word go they hit it off and don’t waste any time on beating around the bush. Some people might complain about this being totally unrealistic, and so on, but so what? Yeah, this might not reflect reality, but after reading this you wish it would. This is a true love story. The way Alain wants to help Orlando overcome his insecurities and the way they interact is just beautiful. Of course, there are a few love scenes, but this story also offers scenes in which the love and tenderness between Alain and Orlando shows without all the plain sex. I have read my share of vampire stories by now, but I have never read a scene describing a vampire bite as sensual and erotic as in this book. There are no idiotic misunderstandings, problems are being dealt with immediately. Those two guys are the epitome of a couple truly loving each other.

What a fantastic read! I’m now halfway into book two and know I’ll have to wait until May for the third part to be released. Bummer!

Available at Dreamspinner Press

[rating: 5]

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I stumbled upon… #1

I only discovered stumble upon recently and found some interesting things through it, that’d like to share.

 

The Forbidden Library. There I learned the most astonishing fact about "The Lorax" by Dr. Seuss. The book was challenged in some California town school district for criminalizing the foresting industry. Truth is: "The Lorax" is a book every child should know, the earlier the better.

The 100 best novels at the Modern Library. They have two lists, the board’s list and the reader’s’ list. Imagine my surprise when I discovered on the reader’s list "Guilty Pleasures" by LKH among books like "The Great Gatsby", "I, Claudius" or "A town like Alice". Guilty Pleasures? This must be a cruel joke!

If you would like to display your books UNDER a shelf instead of on top of it, go to Instructables for the instructions on how to build an inverted book shelf.

The fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm can be found here. If you dare to read them, that is. After all the fairy tales were restricted to sixth to eighth grade classes at an Arizona elementary school in 1994 due to its excessive violence, negative portrayals of female characters, and anti-Semitic references (source: Forbidden Library).