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Book beginnings on Friday

horns_cover

 

I haven’t started reading this yet, but I plan on reading “Horns” by Joe Hill in January.

I like the first paragraph quite a lot.

Ignatius Martin Perrish spent the night drunk and doing terrible things. He woke the next morning with a headache, put his hands to his temples, and felt something unfamiliar, a pair of knobby pointed protuberances. He was so ill – wet-eyed and weak – he didn’t think anything of it at first, was too hungover for thinking or worry.

 

 

 

Isn’t that intriguing already? What terrible things? And why would he have grown horns overnight? I think this is going to be a good read…

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Thursday 13: Cuban cigars nomenclature

Last time it was Champagne bottles, for this week’s Thursday 13 I am looking at a nomenclature of the size of Cuban cigars…

cuban

Image by ChrisGoldNY on flick’r

Size Length in inches
Demi-Tasse 3 7/8
Très Petit Corona 4 – 4 5/8
Panetela 4 1/2 – 4 7/8
Petit Corona / Robusto 5
Corona 5 1/2
Piramide / Belicoso 5 1/2 – 6 1/8
Corono Gorda / Extra 5 5/8
Laguito No. 2 6
Lonsdale 6 3/4
Churchill 7
Laguito No. 1 7 1/2
Double Corona 7 5/8
Gran Corona 9 1/4

 

To see what other TT 13ers are talking about, go to the Thursday 13 website.

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What books did you get for Christmas?

essaysinlove_coverChristmas is over and it’s time to talk about the new books. I didn’t get many books but the ones I got were exactly what I wanted. Actually one was on my amazon wishlist, the other one I talked about some time ago, but had completely forgotten. So I was surprised as well as pleased with my bookish gifts.

The first one is Alain de Botton’s “Essays in Love”, the fictional story of a relationship, starting with meeting for the first time until I’m not sure when, since I haven’t finished yet. But given the analyzing and reflecting that is going on I assume the ending is not an altogether happy one. I am going to read this for the relationships topic of the One, Two Theme challenge and I can already say that Alain de Botton, as opposed to Greg Behrendt, is my new hero. horns_cover

 

The second one is “Horns” by Joe Hill. I am not a horror fan, but I read a good deal of Stephen King when I was younger and this second novel by King’s son sounds interesting, but at the same time not too horrible. I might be mistaken though, I can already see myself hiding under the covers, afraid to go to the bathroom at 2am. 

 

So, what did everybody else get for Christmas book wise? Were you happy with your new reading material? Or did you get other book related items? Let us know!

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He’s just not that into you by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo

Blurb:

For ages women have come together over coffee, cocktails, or late-night phone chats to analyze the puzzling behavior of men. He’s afraid to get hurt again. Maybe he doesn’t want to ruin the friendship. Maybe he’s intimidated by me. He just got out of a relationship.

Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo are here to say that — despite good intentions — you’re wasting your time. Men are not complicated, although they’d like you to think they are. And there are no mixed messages.

The truth may be He’s just not that into you.

Unfortunately guys are too terrified to ever directly tell a woman, "You’re not the one." But their actions absolutely show how they feel.

He’s Just Not That Into You — based on a popular episode of Sex and the City — educates otherwise smart women on how to tell when a guy just doesn’t like them enough, so they can stop wasting time making excuses for a dead-end relationship.

Reexamining familiar scenarios and classic mindsets that keep us in unsatisfying relationships, Behrendt and Tuccillo’s wise and wry understanding of the sexes spares women hours of waiting by the phone, obsessing over the details with sympathetic girlfriends, and hoping his mixed messages really mean "I’m in love with you and want to be with you."

He’s Just Not That Into You is provocative, hilarious, and, above all, intoxicatingly liberating. It deserves a place on every woman’s night table. It knows you’re a beautiful, smart, funny woman who deserves better. The next time you feel the need to start "figuring him out," consider the glorious thought that maybe He’s just not that into you. And then set yourself loose to go find the one who is.

My thoughts: 

This is the first book I read for my “relationships topic” for the One, Two, Theme Challenge. I don’t know exactly what I expected other than an entertaining read, but I was disappointed. Yes, it was an entertaining read, but other than that reading it is as enlightening as reading no book about relationships at all.

The book takes various situations, e.g. he doesn’t call when he said he would, he puts you down in front of others, he doesn’t want to marry you…., and evaluates them. The result of that evaluation is invariably the same, “he’s just not that into you”. Greg Behrendt’s world is black and white. If the man doesn’t do what he said he would and/or doesn’t do what you expect him to, dump the loser!

He doesn’t call on Monday, like he said, but on Tuesday? What a jerk! Dump him! He doesn’t want to marry you even though he knows how important it is for you to get married? You know now what to do.

Admittedly, there are some situations where the dumping is appropriate, but in others a readiness for compromise would help a bit. Also, your own feelings towards the jerk seem of no importance. You might be crazily in love with the guy who’s just not that into you. Doesn’t matter, get rid of him anyway.

The basic statement of the book “Better to be alone than to be with someone that makes you unhappy” might be sane and sound, but I am not sure that 100% of the women out there would agree with that. Liz Tuccillo, the co-writer of this book and the girl voice likes Greg’s wisdom and lives by it. Strangely enough, even though he assures the female reader continuously that she is a. hot stuff (how he knows this is beyond me, not all of us are hot stuff) and b. a better man is somewhere out there waiting for her, Liz is still single at 40 something and looking.

I’m ambivalent about this. Some advice is good, makes sense and should be followed, but that is advice that your mother would give you, too. The writing style is entertaining and every woman recognizes herself in the stories. However, a few more shades of grey would have done a great deal to make this book more helpful all in all.

Title He’s just not that into you
Author Greg Behrendt & Liz Tuccillo
Publisher Simon & Schuster
ISBN 978-1416948674
Buy link Buy He’s Just Not That Into You
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Tooth and Nail by Mary Calmes

Blurb:

Nineteen-year-old Dylan Shaw is possibly the most beautiful thing Malic Sunden has ever seen. After Malic rescues Dylan from an attack, Dylan makes it very clear that he is more than interested, but Malic won’t even consider sleeping with Dylan because of his age. Malic is sure he’s not good enough for Dylan, who has his whole life ahead of him, and can’t conceive of burdening Dylan with his secrets.

But the darkness in Malic’s life won’t be denied, and soon Dylan is drawn into the dangerous paranormal world that is Malic’s reality. Malic fights tooth and nail to push Dylan away, to keep him safe… no matter that Dylan is the key to Malic’s strength and the only hope for his future.

My thoughts: 

This is book two in the Warder series and we already know Malic from the first book His hearth. There he is introduced as a loner with a tense relationship with Ryan. He seems to be the only warder left without a hearth, so now it is his turn.

I found the story was quite different from the first one. Where the first one solely focuses on the relationship between Ryan and Julian, here Malic is constantly out fighting and, as a consequence, getting into one trouble or other from which his friends have to rescue him. That Dylan is always there somehow and won’t be driven away is somewhat a side product. Malic wants him, but then again doesn’t, and can’t make up his mind what to do with him. I found this a bit over the top. For a notorious bad boy he was decidedly too good (aren’t they often?) and just couldn’t bring himself to get together with Dylan for fear of hurting him. I kept thinking, for Christ’s sake, now, go already!

Other than that it was an interesting sequel as it gave more insight into the world, how the guys fight, what other creatures are out there etc. And Malic is quite delicious, which is always a good thing.

I am wondering, however, whether there will be another instalment. Two books is not very much, considering it is called a series, but it seems all the boys are taken, so who is left? Unless, maybe, more and other beings come into play. We will see, I suppose.

Title Tooth and Nail
Author Mary Calmes
Publisher Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 978-1-61581-692-7
Buy link Buy Tooth and Nail
Article

His Hearth by Mary Calmes

Blurb:

Julian Nash should be excited: he’s just earned a huge promotion at work and is going out to celebrate. But his happiness fades when he discovers his date cheating on him an hour before. Suddenly alone when everyone knows he’s supposed to have a plus one, Julian is set for a long night until longtime acquaintance Ryan Dean bails him out of the embarrassing situation. During dinner, they discover they have more than just friendship between them: there is mutual admiration and heated attraction. But getting to know Ryan better—and finding a place in his life—will bring Julian frightening surprises and paranormal danger he never expected or dreamed existed.

My thoughts: 

I had somehow missed the “paranormal danger” part when reading the blurb. So after about one third of the book I was wondering what the rest of it will contain. There didn’t seem to be any problems to overcome between Ryan and Julian, there was great chemistry, no misunderstandings etc. etc. So I had another look at the blurb and noticed there must be something else waiting.

So, basically the first half of the story is a romance without anything extraordinary to happen. However, all of a sudden, a rather upsetting encounter takes place in Julian’s kitchen that changes the scenario quite a bit. He and Ryan go from run of the mill contemporary couple to rather intense and different.

There is not much of a side plot apart from the romance. It is rather short and a quick read. I enjoyed reading it very much and am already in the middle of the second instalment of the “Warder Series”, “Tooth and Nail”.

Title His hearth
Author Mary Calmes
Publisher Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 978-1-61581-572-2
Buy link Buy His hearth
Article

Life changes everything by TC Blue

Blurb:

Ben might be young and only recently out, but he knows what he wants, and the hot blond on the dance floor definitely fits the bill. The last thing he expects is to discover that he’s not only met Aaron before, but that he likes the guy as well. That’s something he’s never encountered before.
Aaron’s no player, but when the universe throws a tall, built slab of gorgeous beefcake in his path, Aaron knows better than to question his luck. Ben unexpectedly turns out to be smart, funny, and a really good fit, which is definitely a bonus. Ben might be young, but he’s mature enough to keep Aaron interested, and happy.
They both have pasts and regrets, but everyone does. They’re determined to work through their issues, though, and just when they’ve started to move on together, life happens, throwing complications in their path. Can their fledgling relationship survive when everything changes?

My thoughts: 

I liked the prequel “Life or something scary like that”, so I was quite looking forward to reading this one. It is not a real sequel, since the main character was a side character in the previous book, but Cliff and Jack still are quite prominent here.

Unfortunately I was not too thrilled with this one. The reason is that a main plot element is a problem with Ben’s little sister and the struggle to get her out of the trouble she got herself into. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, of course, but, like I already must have said ten times on this blog, I just dislike issues with “children” that the main characters have to solve for them. Whether it is a sixteen year old sister or a 10 year old son makes no difference to me. I just don’t like children or teenagers in stories, period. So the second half of the story was wasted on me.

Also, the revelation that Jack came out with towards the end of the book was so out of place – time wise and topic wise – that I started to thoroughly dislike him. It is a bit difficult to comment on it without giving away what Jack said, but he really should have kept his mouth shut. The fact that Cliff, his partner, came up with an explanation for it and that he was ok with it was even more surprising. Had I been Cliff I wouldn’t have been too pleased.

I liked the main characters, the way they got together and how they overcame all the problems arising. However, how the issue with Teeny, Ben’s little sister, came to a satisfactory ending, was a bit rushed. Somehow their mother, who was made out to be very strict, conservative, homophobe and what not, somehow turned out to be not so bad after all. I would have expected more drama towards the end.

The character I definitely liked best was Aaron’s mother. She surprised me with her actions and her attitude. The way she took Teeny under her wing was very nice and comforting. With a woman like that giving her advice I am sure Teeny will be fine.

Due to the turn the plot took in the middle of the book, this story was just not for me. If you don’t mind situations like the one I mentioned, you will probably like it, though.

Title Life changes everything
Author TC Blue
Publisher Torquere Books
ISBN 978-1-61040-100-5
Buy link Buy Life changes everything
Article

Life or something scary like that by TC Blue

Blurb:

When Jack Cutler’s roommate Paul ditches him to move in with his pregnant girlfriend, Melissa, he recommends someone else to take his place: Melissa’s brother, Cliff. Cliff is young and hot, but Jack is sure that Cliff is straight. And even once Jack learns the truth, he knows he’s not right for Cliff. Cliff wants the real thing, commitment, and Jack’s not heading down that path again. When jealousy flares once Cliff starts dating someone, Jack must re-evaluate his position on long-term relationships and whether he wants to risk one with Cliff.
When Cliff gets sick, the shaky foundation of Jack and Cliff’s relationship is tested. Even so, sometimes true love really does conquer all, for the moment, anyway.

My thoughts: 

I know that I can usually count on TC Blue. She is one of my favourite writers and once more she did not disappoint me.

I liked the plot very much and it worked well for me. I had a few little misgivings, but I will come to them in a minute. If it had been another author I wouldn’t have liked the constant meddling of people to get Jack and Cliff together, but somehow I didn’t mind it here at all. Especially Ben was a real sweetheart. I don’t think I have read a story so far where the two characters took so long to finally get together (with the exception of “Take my picture” maybe, but that one is a totally different case).

God, the way those two were attracted to each other and never got it. On the one hand I wanted to smack them, on the other I hoped it would take a while still. TC pulled that off really nicely.

She even came up with a plausible (if rather hoorifying) explanation for Jacks reluctance to start another serious relationship. It just worked all out.

What I was not too enthusiastic about is the fact that Melissa and Paul left Jack in the dark as to Cliff’s orientation. THAT made no sense at all. It was one of the reasons why Jack did not approach Cliff, but since Melissa counted on their getting together, why not tell Jack right away. It took him ages to figure it out, it was painful to read. I’m not kidding.

Also Cliff and Jack very often misunderstood each other simply because they never said exactly what they meant. A pet peeve of mine. However, they always realized their own stupidity right in the next paragraph, that reconciled me a bit. I will never understand the need for misunderstandings in romance. Life is already hard enough without them.

Apart from those tiny things that I could live with, I very much enjoyed this. Especially if you like TC Blue’s writing style this is a must read. The sequel “Life changes everything” is already waiting for me to be read. It is Ben’s story and I am sure it will be just as good.

 

Title Life or something scary like that
Author TC Blue
Publisher Torquere Books
ISBN 978-1-60370-323-9
Buy link Buy Life or something scary like that
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Steampunk Flash Fiction contest winners

Voting for the Steampunk Flash Fiction Writing Contest ended yesterday. The winner was not immediately obvious because some people don’t seem to read what’s being said and just vote in whatever way they want.
Just in case anybody is wondering, I did not count the two comments below the poll. Commenting on the poll site was not the proper way to vote. 

So, to cut a long story short…

Winner of the Steampunk Flash Fiction Writing contest is Chris Pantazis with his story no. 33. (44 votes).

The two runners up are Horatio der Vere with story no. 40 and Paul Cyr with story no. 9 “Synaesthesia” (both 37 votes)

Congratulations to the winners! I will contact you by email as soon as possible.

Thank you everybody for participating. I am sure we all enjoyed reading your stories, it was a fun event.

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Weekly Geeks 2010-39: Plans for 2011

This week’s Weekly Geeks:

Do you plan on participating in any reading challenges in 2011? Are you planning on hosting any reading challenges? Perhaps you’d like to share an idea for a reading challenge–to see if there is any interest!  Share with us which challenges look tempting to you! (You don’t have to "officially" join any of the challenges for this weekly geek. Just let us know which ones you’d be most interested in.) You might want to spend some time browsing A Novel Challenge. Are there any challenges you are looking forward to that haven’t been announced yet? Regardless of your challenge plans, are you starting to plan ahead for next year? Do you make lists or goals? Are you a person who enjoys reading more if it is structured? Or are you all about being free to read what you want, when you want?

I have already talked abut my reading challenge plans for 2011, but it won’t do any harm having them all together in one post.

For 2011 I am planning to participate in the following three challenges:

That’s it. I will try to stick to my list for the One, Two, Theme Challenge, will read one book for the Gothic Reading challenge and as as many Steampunk books as I like. I don’t tend to stick to lists, so the fewer the better for me.  I am not very structured when it comes to reading, it’s supposed to be fun, not a schedule I have to follow.

To read what other weekly geeks have to say, go to the Weekly Geeks site.

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Book Beginnings on Friday

vesuvius_club 

 

Today’s book beginning is from Mark Gatiss’ “The Vesuvius Club”.

Stephen Fry calls this book “the most delicious, depraved, inventive, macabre and hilarious literary debut I can think of…”

The first two sentences remind me of Oscar Wilde, so I expect this to be a good read.

I have always been an appalling judge of character. It is my most beguiling virtue.

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My reading list for December

readinglist 

My list for November was short. So it was not a problem to read everything on it. I read Soulless by Gail Carriger for the Steampunk Challenge and Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater along with Carin. Then I read Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh, a book that a lot of PNR readers have been raving about.

Apart from some m/m books for review I also wanted to read Becoming George Sand by Rosalind Brackenbury. In fact, I wanted to read it so bad that I even downloaded the Sony software for my reader and managed to finally get Adobe Digital Editions to work. Unfortunately I didn’t find the book worth all the trouble. I declined the review on NetGalley because I found the book boring and decided not to finish it.

For December I am planning to read:

  • The Summer of Skinny Dipping by Amanda Howells, a YA book I have been wanting to read for quite some time. I already started, but haven’t finished yet, as I have a bad feeling about the ending. It’s not going to be good, I’m afraid.
  • Steampunk, an anthology that I want to read for the Stampunk challenge.
  • The Vesuvius Club by Mark Gatiss. The Telegraph says about this book it is Oscar Wilde crossed with H. P. Lovecraft. Mark Gatiss is from The League of Gentlemen and that alone should guarantee a good and fun read.
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The Great Grocery Bag Exchange – the loot

Carin from A little Bookish organized the Great Grocery Bag Exchange. With all those book swaps in the last 6  months or so everybody got a little obsessed with grocery bags and so we all swapped some more bags right in time for Christmas.

My swap partner was Pam in the US. Pam does not have a blog, but she is on twitter, @pam4290.

Yesterday I received her goodies, which made my day.

bag_swap

Pam sent me two re-usable grocery bags from Giant. One is blue and looks rather christmas-y and the other one is brown and pink, which suits my girly love of pink just fine. It is in honour of breast cancer month which was in October. Then Pam sent me a bookmark with a painting by Marjolein Bastin saying “Warm thoughts are flowers of the heart” which will come in handy since I recently started using bookmarks again.

Also, Pam sent me three postcards from Pennsylvania, one with Chocolate Avenue, the main street of Hershey, PA, one with an Amish man plowing the fields and one with a painting of a Pennsylvania artist.

I love all my goodies and they will all be used thoroughly. Thanks, Pam, for swapping with me and thanks to Carin for organizing the exchange.

Would you like to see other participants’ loot? Go here.

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Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh

Blurb:

In a world that denies emotions, where the ruling Psy punish any sign of desire, Sascha Duncan must conceal the feelings that brand her as flawed. To reveal them would be to sentence herself to the horror of "rehabilitation"- the complete psychic erasure of everything she ever was….

Both human and animal, Lucas Hunter is a Changeling hungry for the very sensations the Psy disdain. After centuries of uneasy co-existence, these two races are now on the verge of war over the brutal murders of several Changeling women. Lucas is determined to find the Psy killer who butchered his packmate, and Sascha is his ticket into their closely guarded society. But he soon discovers that this ice-cold Psy is very capable of passion-and that the animal in him is fascinated by her. Caught between their conflicting worlds, Lucas and Sascha must remain bound to their identities-or sacrifice everything for a taste of darkest temptation…

My thoughts: 

So I finally jumped on the bandwagon and read Slave to Sensation. I have been very curious about this book, but always found the title quite unappealing. But I have read so much praise for it that I finally got it on my swap site and went for it.

Don’t let the title mislead you. Sascha is by no means a “slave to sensation”. She is an interesting character, since she has never known emotion and yet her ability is worth nothing without it. However, she is still her own person and does what she thinks is right. She is not ruled by her desire for sensation.

I was very impressed with the world building. The world of the Psy was well developed and explained and a good contrast to the world of the changelings. I always had a liking for unemotional characters and I loved the Psy and their ordered, tidy world. I also liked their counterparts, the changelings with their emotions flaring up and their structures where family or pack is everything.

Sascha and Lucas meet for business and how it went from there was nicely done. To me everything that happened made sense, the side characters were introduced well, not overwhelming the plot but enough to make me want to find out more about them, especially Dorian and Hawke.

With the ending and the solution to the problem that occupied Sascha for a long time – a solution, by the way, that made sense and was not something far fetched – Nalini Singh has opened a lot of possibilities for other stories between Psy and changelings. I can’t wait to read them.

 

Title Slave to Sensation
Author Nalini Singh
Publisher Berkley
ISBN 978-0425212868
Buy link Buy Slave to Sensation