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Sunday Stealing: The green meme

Sunday Stealing: The Green Meme. If you’d like to play go to Sunday Stealing.

1. What is your current obsession?
Reading. It’s been my obsession all my life.

2. What’s a good coffee place?
Whatever it is, it is not Starbucks.

3. Who was the last person that you hugged?
Sean, our three-year-old, just a few minutes ago.

4. Do you nap a lot?
No, no time for naps.

5. Tonight, what’s for dinner?
No clue. I only start planning dinner about 30 minutes before dinner time. The result is usually chips.

6. What was the last thing that you bought?
A used bike from a friend.

7. What is your favorite weather?
23°C; blue, but cloudy sky; slight breeze

8. Tell us something about one blogger who you think will play this week?
I’m new and don’t know other players well yet. But I know that an eerie tapestry has played because I saw the entry on google reader. He is funny, even though he sometimes claims he isn’t. But that’s probably just the typical British modesty that we Continentals only know from hearsay.

9. If you were given a free house that was full furnished, where in the world would you like it to be?
Somewhere where the weather is like in #7.

10. Name three things that you could not live without.
Books. My handbag. Coke Zero.

11. What would you like in your hands right now?
More money.

12. What’s one of your guilty pleasures?
My blog, which takes up too much time (especially considering all the reading that is involved).

13. What would you change or eliminate about yourself?
I’d boost my metabolism.

14. As a child, what type of career did you want?
I wanted the one that I got – if you can call being the idiot to whom the boss shifts all the work that he doesn’t want to do a career.

15. What are you missing right now?
See #11.

16. What are you currently reading?
Among others “Gods behaving badly” by Marie Phillips

17. What do you fear the most?
That something bad is going to happen to my kids.

18. What’s the best movie that you’ve seen recently?
I haven’t seen a film in ages. The last one, that was pretty good, was “Krabat”.

19. What’s your favorite book from the past year?
That is hard. I could say which was the worst one much easier. “Rubicon” by Tom Holland was very good. On a different scale The “Partnership in blood” series by Ariel Tachna.

20. Is there a comfort food from your childhood that you still enjoy?
No, I’m not sentimental in that way.

Article

Zero at the Bone by Jane Seville

Synopsis: D is being blackmailed into accepting a contract to kill Jack, who has witnessed a murder. Instead of killing him he decides to protect him until the trial and at the same time find out who is after himself. They get on the road together and find more than they both had bargained for.

Review:

I’m totally in love with this book.

It starts with a poem by Emily Dickinson called "The snake". The poem leaves a lot of room for interpretation already. D could be seen as a character very close to the snake in the poem. He is dangerous, but might not be considered so, just like the snake that is mistaken for a whip-lash – but then a whip-lash has some bad connotation as well. With his various identities he might suddenly appear here but disappears just as quickly again only to turn up elsewhere. Jack on the other hand might just be that boy, trusting, naive, untouched by evil and mistaking the snake for something else. Then again D is the one with no feelings whatsoever, he feels "zero at the bone", which is attributed to the boy or man in the poem. And that is right again, because, even though D is the cold-hearted killer who has locked up his emotions, at the same time he’s insecure and doesn’t know how to deal with his emotions once they’re out. Worse, he never even thought he had any left. He is in need of guidance.

Listen to me, I’m even starting to interpret a poem in regards to a book, something I haven’t done in ages, :-). The book is truly inspiring obviously. Jane Seville used the great last line of the poem as the fitting title of the book. In spite of the ongoing plot, the hunt for Jack and D, the witsec program, the trial etc., it is basically the story about a man who learns how to feel again, how to go from feeling zero at the bone to a normal existence. And the story was beautifully told. No miracle cure, no rushed love/sex scenes, just a slowly developing friendship and relationship, which didn’t seem to be anything but transient for a long time.

Only gradually does Jack find out about D’s background, his former life and how he became what he is now. The way D eventually opens up to Jack and realizes how he feels about him was well done indeed. The lengths he goes to and the things he does to protect Jack and make it possible for him to get his true life back are incredible. I liked that at least he doesn’t lie to himself about his feelings, but acknowledges them, even if he is not able to express them for a very long time. The fact that if anything happened to Jack, D would just go back to his old life, floating without life support, just made me so root for him, I really felt for this guy.

I have no idea whether all the details about the witsec program and about the ins and outs of hitman life were realistic (and I don’t even want to start thinking about a hitman reality) but they felt right to me. It all fit. What I do know to be correct is the little speech that D gave Jack about fighting technique. I’m told all the time by my husband that fighting honourably will leave you dead rather earlier than later and that fighting  dirty is the only way to go. Being an "honourable corpse", as D puts it, won’t do you any good.

What made me like the characters even more was the fact that both have qualms about getting back together again, both for their different reasons, both make perfect sense, and still both overcome those ideas because in the end they are not as important as being together. Who has never wished that something anticipated will never come true, because then it will be over too quickly or not work out the way we wanted it to?

During the whole book people are serious with hardly any reason for much humour, except for the scene towards the end when Gloria inquires about Jack’s man and tries to guess, why Jack can’t talk about him, that was so funny! It almost made up for all the tension in the book. I needed that.

So much happened in this book that after I finished it I felt like I read several books in one go. The story is so tense, you never get a break from it. I never knew what might possibly happen next, it was like being on a rollercoaster ride that went on and on. If this was a film it would turn from road movie to cabin romance to Perry Mason episode to mobster movie and eventually redemption with a perfect HEA – yet again with a bit of tension thrown it. The long epilogue still shows us potential for future trouble (internal and external), we won’t have seen the last of Jack and D – I hope.

One thing about the "graphic nature" of the book. Someone has mentioned this on Jane’s blog in a different context. The sex scenes, that all serve a purpose, are not very explicit, rather short and not more graphic than in any other "hot" romance novels. In fact they are much less so. Other than in other books I’ve read the focus is on the plot and not on gratuitous sex.

As I said already in an earlier post there are two follow up short stories available for free on Jane Seville’s website. Jane said in an answer to my previous blog post that she will be adding more short stories to her website and that she’s actually writing a sequel. I’ll be so looking forward to that, those two guys have already become one of my favourite couples.

Available at Dreamspinner Press

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Friday 5: First post

I found Friday 5 just a few das ago and think this is going to be a fun thing to do. OK, so my first Friday 5 post, here it is…

  1. What’s something you know how to draw?
  2. Who’s someone you could get away with impersonating?
  3. Where’s the stapler?
  4. Why will this be a great weekend?
  5. When are you going to make that phone call you’ve been putting off?

 

  1. I can’t draw at all. I’ve never gotten past the stickman shape and am stuck with it now forever. The only other thing I’m good at is the “Haus vom Nikolaus” drawing. It is a kid’s game and exactly reflects my drawing abilities. 
  2. Nobody. I suck at not being me.
  3. Right in front of me, next to the monitor.
  4. It’s Easter, everybody is off for four days and next week I’ll be off as well. The weather forecast is good and we’ll be visiting friends and relatives. Sounds as good to me as it can get.
  5. Don’t know yet. I’ve been putting off a call to order a spare part for our fridge for what seems like forever and have no idea when I’ll finally make that call. It’s not a vital part, of course, still it would be nice to have it.
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Beginning to believe by Sean Michael

Lately I found a number of excellent stories in anthologies. In various groups people keep saying they don’t like reading anthologies because there is always a number of stories they don’t like and they feel they wasted money. Too bad, since they miss out on a lot of good stuff.

Sean Michael’s "Beginning to believe" is part of the collection "Bus Stories and Other Tales" which features a number of novellas or short stories by Sean Michael. His stories are either hit or miss for me. They are usually very intense, just sometimes I don’t like the way that intensity is taking.

What I like about him is that he seems to be able to write about topics without any bashfulness. I have read some of his stories that feature men with a handicap and they were always wonderful. Often, out of their own insecurity, people either act as if a handicap didn’t exist and ignore it on purpose or they focus on it and make a big fuss about it. Sean Michael describes people who know that a handicap is a part of someone’s life and acknowledge that, but at the same time never use it to define a person.

"Beginning to believe" is the story about Tyler, the owner of a motorbike workshop, and Kit, a former country singer, who was in an accident  some years ago, in which he lost parts of both of his legs. They meet when Kit asks Tyler to customize a motorbike for him. It’s all about the two men becoming friends and lovers. There is nothing more to it and it is perfect. No drama, no angst, just two adult people who get to know and love each other, even though one of them had already abandoned the hope for love or a relationship.

I take my hat off to Sean Michael for writing a story about a taboo topic in such a gentle and quiet way.

Available at Torquere Books

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Thursday 13: Black Adder quotes II

Today’s Thursday 13 is my second part of my series of Black Adder quotes and passages. The second series is possibly my favourite one, though the third one comes close.

The series is "a true and japesome historie of Elizabethan Englande".

1. Blackadder is doing some target practice in his lodgings with Baldrick holding up the target. Percy is coming in.

Percy: Sorry I’m late.

Edmund: No, don’t bother apologizing. I’m sorry you’re alive.

Percy: Oh good, I see the target is ready.

He lines up his bow professionally for a shot.

Percy: I’d like to see the Spaniard who could make his way past me.

Edmund: Well, go to Spain, there are millions of them.

 

2. Blackadder has fallen in love with his new, supposedly male, servant. The Queen, Melchett and Nursie are discussing that.

Queen: Do you think he’d spend more time with me if I was a boy?

Melchett: Surely not, ma’am.

Nursie: You almost were a boy, my little cherry pip.

Queen: What?

Nursie: Yeah. Out you popped from your mummy’s tumkin and everyone shouted, "It’s a boy! It’s a boy!" And then someone said, "But it hasn’t got a winkle!" And then I said, "A boy without a winkle! God be praised. It’s a miracle! A boy without a winkle!" And then Sir Thomas More pointed out that a boy without a winkle is a girl, and everyone was really disappointed.

Melchett: Yes, well, you see, he was a very perceptive man, Sir Thomas More.

 

3. Blackadder is visiting Dr. Leech seeking a cure for his fascination with his manservant.

Dr. Leech: I see. So, you’ve started fancying boys then, have you?

Blackadder: Not "boys". A boy.

Dr. Leech: Yes, well, let’s not split hairs, it’s all rather disgusting, and naturally you’re worried.

Blackadder: Of course I’m worried.

Dr. Leech: Well, of course, you are. It’s not every day a man wakes up to discover he’s a screaming bender with no more right to live on God’s clean earth than a weasel. Ashamed of yourself?

Blackadder: Not really, no.

Dr. Leech goes to wash his hands.

Dr. Leech: Bloody hell, I would be!

 

4- Blackadder is looking for the wisewoman to help him.

Edmund: Tell me, young crone, is this Putney?

Young crone: That it be, that it be!

Edmund: "Yes it is", not "That it be". You don’t have to talk in that stupid voice to me, I’m not a tourist.

Young crone: (Slightly deflated) Oh.

Edmund: I seek information about a wisewoman.

Young crone: Ah! The wisewoman! The wisewoman!

Edmund: Yes, the wisewoman.

Young crone: Two things, my lord, must ye know of the wisewoman.

Edmund: Yes?

Young crone: First! She is a woman! And second, she is …

Edmund: Wise?

Young crone: You do know her then?

 

5. Blackadder and Kate want to marry. The maid of honour is Baldrick, fitted in a lovely dress.

Kate: You look sweet as a little pie.

Edmund: Kate, he looks like what he is, a dungball in a dress.

Enter Percy.

Percy: Edmund, I!

He notices Baldrick, but doesn’t recognize him. He starts to flirt.

Percy: Oh, hullo, there. Edmund, you didn’t tell me we were expecting guests. And such a pretty one, too.

Edmund: Oh, God.

Percy: Well, you’re a little cutie to be hiding yourself away all these years. Tell me, gorgeous, what’s your name.

Edmund: He’s called Baldrick.

Percy: Baldrick, that’s a pretty name. Edmund used to have a servant called Baldrick, but anyway, away with such small talk, lady, a kiss!

Baldrick: What?

Percy: And so modest, too, come on, you little tease, you know you want to. Give us a kiss.

Baldrick: All right, if you say so.

Baldrick kisses Percy passionately. Percy claps a hanky to his nose in disgust.

Percy: Ooooh dear, what an original perfume.

Edmund: Percy, that is our Baldrick, he’s wearing a dress.

Percy now fears he may die of infection.

Percy: Bleuch!

 

6. Blackadder has been appointed Lord High Executioner. He is having a look at the Book of Death to sort out what needs to be done next.

Edmund: Right then. Let’s have a look, shall we? Who’s first into the head-basket then? Admiral Lord Effingham and Sir Frances Drake on Monday.

Percy: That should draw a crowd.

Blackadder looks at him questioningly.

Percy: Well, sailing enthusiasts.

Edmund: Yes, better make sure there’s a few anchors and things on the souvenir stall.

Percy: Aye, aye, sir.

Edmund: Never, ever, try to be funny in my presence again, Percy.

 

7. Blackadder has just noticed that there are two executions scheduled for Monday, one, Farrow’s, for Wednesday and two for Friday.

Edmund: It’s not right though, is it?

Percy: (Suddenly very passionate) Well, no. Now that you come to mention it, my lord, there was absolutely no evidence against young Farrow at all. It was an outrageous travesty of justice!

Edmund: No, I mean it’s not right that he should be stuck on Wednesday, when we could do him on Monday and have half the week off.

Percy: Oh, I see. Yes, that’s right.

 

8. Tonight Blackadder will die in agony with a spike up his bottom, if he doesn’t come up with 1.000 Pounds to pay his debts to the Black Monks of St. Herod. Percy and Baldrick try to help Blackadder in any way they can.

Percy: Oh, Edmund, I’m sorry, I had no idea. But do not despair, for I have some small savings , carefully harvested from my weekly allowance set aside against my frail old age.

This is a very moving moment. A moment of pure friendship, of pure generosity.

Percy: By lucky hap, it’s just over a thousand methinks, and has for years been hidden beyond the wit of any thief

Percy and Edmund: in an old sock under the squeaky floorboard

In fact, even Baldrick is in on it.

All: behind the kitchen dresser.

Percy is very surprised at this.

Percy: You’ve seen it?

Edmund: Seen it, pinched it, spent it. And the same goes for the two farthings Baldrick thinks he’s got hidden inside that mouldy potato.

Baldrick: Oh, bloody Hell!

 

9. Percy has devised a plan to help Blackadder scrape up the money.

Edmund: Oh, all right then. What’s your big plan, blockhead?

Percy: I intend to discover, this very afternoon, the secret of alchemy, the hidden art of turning base things into gold.

Edmund: I see. And the fact that this secret has eluded the most intelligent people since the dawn of time doesn’t dampen your spirits?

 

 10. Baldrick’s ideas go into another direction.

Baldrick: Well, I have heard there is good money to be made down the docks, doing favours for sailors.

Edmund: Favours. What do you mean? Delivering messages, sewing on buttons, that kind of thing?

Baldrick: Not quite

Edmund: (Light beginning to dawn) Baldrick?

Baldrick: My lord?

Edmund: Are you suggesting that I become a rent boy?

Baldrick: Well, a good looking bloke like you, posh accent, nice legs, could make a bomb. Just stick a pink carnation in your hat and make the old sign.

Edmund: I’d rather die.

Baldrick: Oh, fair enough, that’s all right then. I’ll put the kettle on while we wait, shall I?

 

11. Percy’s plan has come to fruition.

Percy: My lord, success!

Edmund: What?

They go across the room to the table in Blackadder’s room, on which there is an alchemy set.

Percy: After literally an hour’s ceaseless searching, I have succeeded in creating gold, pure gold!

Edmund: Are you sure?

Percy: Yes, my lord, behold!

He uncovers a silver platter, which has a lump of something green on it.

Edmund: Percy, it’s green.

Percy: That’s right, my lord.

Edmund: Yes, Percy. I don’t want to be pedantic or anything, but the colour of gold is gold. That’s why it’s called gold. What you have discovered, if it has a name, is some "green".

Percy’s face holds an expression of joyous amazement. He holds the green out in front of him.

Percy: Oh, Edmund, can it be true? That I hold here, in my mortal hand, a nugget of purest green?

 

12. Blackadder’s aunt and uncle, the most severe and humourless persons on the planet have come to visit to discuss Blackadder’s inheritance. They wear crosses on hats, shoulders and round necks. They are religious fanatics whose hobby it is to burn Catholics.

Edmund: May I introduce my friend, Lord Percy?

Percy tries to be roguishly charming.

Percy: Well, well, well, Eddy, you didn’t tell me you had such a good-looking aunt. Good-morrow to thee, gorgeousness. I know what I like and I like what I see.

Lady Whiteadder punches him in the face.

Lady Whiteadder: Be gone, Satan!

 

13. Nobody knows where Blackadder has disappeared to. The Queen and Percy are passing the time playing frisbee in the hall. The Queen throws to Percy who catches it.

Percy: How’s that?

Queen: (Warning) Percy. Who’s queen?

Percy drops the frisbee.

Percy: Whoops. Butterfingers!

That’s it for series II. If I have forgotten any funny scenes (and I’m sure I have), just mention them in the comments and I’ll add  them later.

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Children of Bacchus by Andrew Grey

Blurb: When Travis inherits the title to a large tract of unspoiled woodlands from his estranged father, he travels there and meets Cembran, a solitary figure who had been driven from his home. But the handsome man who captivates Travis is much more than he seems; he is a magical being, a satyr, and he awakens in Travis realistic, erotic dreams the like of which he has never experienced.

What Travis and Cembran don’t expect is for the dreams to bind them together and warn them of danger, threats against the magical woodlands from developers, against Cembran’s heritage and life with his people, and against Travis and Cembran’s growing love for one another.

It’s the hand of Bacchus himself that leads them into a life with one another: building a family, establishing a home, and battling old demons. And when the dreams return to foretell another threat to their happiness, it will take Cembran, Travis, and all those they love to save not only the satyr community and its lands, but the permanent future Travis and Cembran hope to live together.

Review: First of all a few words about the absolutely hideous cover image. Really, covers often are not great, but this one must be one of the worst ever. Who for Christ’s sake is that figure (I don’t want to call it man) supposed to be? What was the artist thinking? What must the author think to let this happen? Awful doesn’t even come close. Thank God I read e-books, that way I don’t have that cover image in front of my eyes every time I put the book down.

Now on to the story. I was a fan of "Winter Love", which is a short novella about a satyr and a human. This novel features mostly other characters but the same satyr theme. A lot of people turned out to be (or become) a satyr in that story, to me that was somewhat surprising. Those guys are all over the place. Even the ones that passed for humans for decades all of a sudden were revealed to be satyrs, and most of them gay on top of it. It was nice to see that there is such a large community to support each other, but where on earth do they all come from?

Just in case you are wondering what a satyr is, I had a look around on Pantheon.org and it came up with this definition:

In Greek mythology the satyrs are deities of the woods and mountains. They are half human and half beast; they usually have a goat’s tail, flanks and hooves. While the upper part of the body is that of a human, they also have the horns of a goat. They are the companions of Dionysus, the god of wine, and they spent their time drinking, dancing, and chasing nymphs.

Thank God that Andrew Grey gave our satyrs here the ability to hide their goat features at will. I don’t mind the horns (they might be quite sexy, you see), but I draw the line at a tail and especially at hooves. Most of our satyrs are a mixture of humans and satyrs, so that they don’t show all the features of full satyrs. Smart move.

I never complain about sweetness, and I’m not doing here either, but if there were any more sweet, perfect people in that story you would die from a sugar shock. Everybody helps each other out and goes to great lengths to make sure the others are ok, it’s too good to be true. Yes, there are problems, for example with a land developer, Cembran’s mean father and again with the land developer, but everything sorts itself out beautifully without bigger set-backs. The atmosphere is almost always dream-like and romantic. Those guys are made for love, that’s for certain, but then you wouldn’t expect anything else from a satyr, would you?

If you are partial to contemporary fairy tales with a peaceful atmosphere, loveable characters and cuddly little lambs, this is exactly for you.

Available at Dreamspinner Press

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A new release: Zero at the Bone by Jane Seville

Jane Seville’s first published book “Zero at the Bone” is the newest release at Dreamspinner. I’m a sucker for stories with hitmen with a conscience, so this story sounds quite good to me. There is a long excerpt available that should give you a clue whether you’d like it or not. I looked around to find a bit more info about the author and came across Jane Seville’s website.

On the site there are some free stories available about the two men that take place AFTER the book’s story. What a nice idea! Follow up stories, and for free on top of it, are not so common unfortunately. I always would like to read on and know a bit more after a story has come to a conclusion. Now I’m even more tempted to get the book. After all, it wouldn’t do to read the free stories if I don’t know what was going on before them, would it?

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Art locations: Another Place

This installation, Another Place, by Antony Gormley consists of 100 life-size figures made from solid cast-iron. The figures spread out along three kilometres of the beach and stretch one kilometre out into the sea. At particular high tides all the figures are completely under water.

The installation was supposed to move in Nov. 2006 to another location, but for some reason it was still at Crosby Beach in August 2008. We were lucky, obviously.

Another Place

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Book titles translated (or not) #1

When it comes to book titles the Germans are odd. Really odd. The other day I was browsing through the book shop in the German paranormal section (I usually read books in English, unless they were written in German to begin with. But even this is not 100% true. I got "The Reader" in English, even though its original language is German, just because the cover was nicer. All this, BTW, thanks to Claire and her post where she mentioned a Milan Kundera book, "Laughable loves", the cover of which she found so hideous, she wondered what to do about it).

All that aside, though. I was browsing and saw a book called "Dragon Love" (English, not German) by Katie MacAlister. I haven’t read anything by her so far, but I know that she wrote some vampire novels as well. Anyway, Dragon Love sounded interesting, so I looked for the original title. Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be "You slay me". Huh? They take an English book, and then translate the title into another English title for the German market? Why didn’t they leave it at "You slay me" when they wanted to have an English title? Possibly they thought the average German won’t know what "You slay me" means, but, of course, with all the paranormal hype, every German Tom, Dick and Harry will know what a "dragon" is. Does that make any sense? The Germans are mad about English, it seems.

Then, the Twilight books. They could have just gone with the German translation for the English titles, but that would have been too easy and obvious. Instead they invented new titles with a pun. The books are called:

Bis(s) zum Morgengrauen – Until dawn (or Bite at dawn)

Bis(s) zur Mittagsstunde – Until noon (or Bite at noon)

Bis(s) zum Abendrot – Until dusk (or Bite at dusk)

Bis(s) zum Ende der Nacht – Until the end of the night (or Bite at the end of the night)

Nice. The fact that Bella doesn’t get bitten until well into book four, if I recall correctly, is of no importance whatsoever.

The Black Dagger Brotherhood is also a good example. Not only are the titles totally different, here the publisher also came up with a great ruse idea to make the reader pay through the nose. They publish only half a book at a time. So, in order to read one novel, you have to buy two books , each priced regularly. And on top of that, you have to wait for the second half of the story until it is being released (usually six months or so after the previous book). You can say what you want about German publishers, but they do know how to market a book to their own advantage.

Dark lover is being divided into Nachtjagd and Blutopfer (Night hunt and Blood sacrifice)

Lover eternal is being divided into Ewige Liebe and Bruderkrieg (Eternal love and Fratricidal war)

Lover awakened is being divided into Mondspur and Dunkles Erwachen (Moon trace and Dark Awakening)

Lover revealed is being divided into Menschenkind and Vampirherz (Human Being and Vampire heart)

Lover unbound is being divided into Seelenjäger and Todesfluch (Soul hunter and Death curse)

Lover enshrined is being divided into Blutlinien (Blood lines) and whatever they will come up with once it’s being released

I find all this very annoying. Those titles give a totally different impression of what the story is about.

These are just a few examples of the most popular PNR books out there. Next thing I’ll do is have a look at a few classics or contemporary literature. Stay tuned!

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Sunday Stealing: Blogging

I’ve seen the Sunday Stealing meme around for a while, but often the questions were too personal for me (even though you could argue that the choice of books somebody reads says a lot about them already), or just not my kind of questions. Anyway, this week’s questions are about blogging. If you want to join as well, head on over to the Sunday Stealing blog.

Sunday Stealing: Our Third Meme About Blogging

1. How did you come up with your blog title OR what does it mean?
Well, I read books and usually don’t throw them away, so to find a title wasn’t hard. However, an awful lot of people who search for accounting software and the like turn up on my blog and tend to be somewhat disappointed.

2 What are your general goals for blogging?
No goals. When I started this blog it was to rant to my heart’s content about a couple of books by Laurell K. Hamilton that I read. That was my initial intention and I just went from there.

3. Do people “in your real life” know that you blog and do they comment on your blog OR is it largely anonymous?
Good heavens, no. Most people IRL don’t even read books and if they do I’d be very surprised if they read the same genre. I’d never hear the end of it if they knew about my blog.

4. How often do you post (x per week)?
I try to post at least once a day.

5. How often do you read other blogs (x per week)?
Every day.

6. How do you select blogs to read (do you prefer blogs that focus on certain topics or do you choose by tone or…?)
I read other blogs that review the same genre, other book blogs in general, other blogs that participate in the same memes, like Weekly Geeks and Thursday 13, photoshop blogs, creative blogs, whatever blogs I came across that caught my interest.

7. Do you have any plans to copy your blog entries in any other format, or do you think that one day, you’ll just delete it all?
No plans to copy into another format. As long as I can pay the bill for the web space and as long as I’m interested in books, I won’t delete anything. So, the blog should stay for a little while longer :-).

8. What are the things you like best about blogging?
You meet a lot of interesting people that way, or people that share the same interests. And sometimes those two groups even overlap.

9. What are the things you don’t like about blogging?
It’s time consuming if you don’t want to do it half-heartedly.

10. How do you handle comments?
Everybody loves comments. If you didn’t want feedback, why blog in the first place? I try to comment on blog posts if I have something to say. When I get comments I reciprocate if I have something to say (I usually do). What I don’t like though are comments that tell me nothing. Comments like “Great post!” and “Loved this” I can do without. That is just for the sake of commenting and should be abolished.

11. Do you have any burning thoughts to share on blog etiquette?
No. Just be nice!

12. Any desired blog features?
I use Live Writer and am not too happy about some of its supposed features. Like the publishing date doesn’t work and my images always end up where I don’t want them. But maybe that is just my inaptitude.

13. Have you suffered blog addiction?
Of course not. The mere idea is preposterous.

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Sutcliffe Cove by Ariel Tachna and Madeleine Urban

Synopsis: Gerald, a well-off accountant, is taking riding lessons at Brett’s stable. He feels attracted to Brett, and vice versa, but both men assume that the other is straight. Eventually that little misconception is cleared up and they own up to their feelings. Brett is totally smitten and wants to make it permanent. However, he is not certain how Gerald feels about things. He is getting mixed signals and is never sure whether they are both really in sync.

Review: I loved the blurb when I first read about this book and got it right away when it came out. I expected a solid story with two lovable men and without unbearable angst and adventure. And Ariel Tachna and Madeleine Urban delivered. Gerald and Brett were both absolutely realistic characters. They got to know each other over quite a long period of time and became close friends. On both sides there was sexual tension, but neither of the two ever let on about it (at least not knowingly).

Gerald’s easy going manner, agreeing to Brett’s every suggestion made Brett more and more uneasy. Why doesn’t he voice his own wishes? Why does he never say what he’d rather do? It never occurred to him that Gerald just agreed because their wishes were the same, but he always suspected Gerald didn’t care enough to even bother. Sweet!

This was a very pleasant and satisfying story. I enjoyed reading about the life at a riding stable and the chores that come along with it. I could picture the horses, the landscape, the old farm, the barbecue as if I was right there. The two protagonists were great characters that went very well together. If you enjoy a story that focuses on the couple and their feelings, with lots of love and a great atmosphere, you will find "Sutcliffe Cove" delightful. I certainly did.

Available at Dreamspinner Press

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Weekly Geeks 2009-13: The Wizard, the Ugly & the Book of Shame

This week’s weekly geeks:
April 2nd was International Children’s Book Day. And April is National Poetry Month. In celebration, I have two lovely options for you this week:

Option A: Be a kid!
You could read a picture book (or two or three) and share what you read.
Write up a post sharing your favorite books from childhood
Write up a post about reading together with your child(ren)

Option B: Be a poet!
Write your own poem and share with us!
Write bookish ABC poems–ABC’s of favorite authors, favorite books, favorite characters, favorite book blogs, or any combination of the above. Maybe even an ABC’s of a bibliophile or book addict. (A is for…B is for…etc.)(For example,
ABC’s of Dr. Seuss)
Review a book you’ve read recently in haiku. (It doesn’t need to be a poetry book you’re reviewing, any book will do.) See
Emilyreads for an idea of what I mean.
Read a poetry book and review it

wizard_ugly I went with option A and read a children’s book. I chose “The Wizard, the Ugly and the Book of Shame” by Pablo Bernasconi, not only because it is a beautiful story, but also because the illustrations are a feast for the eyes.

The story is about the assistant of the sorcerer Leitmeritz who is left alone after being told that he must not touch the Red Book of Spells. However, since he knows that Leitmeritz can fulfil people’s innermost wishes with the help of the book, Chancery, who is considered ugly to the extreme by everybody and is ashamed of his looks, tries to use the book to become handsome.  The results are disastrous. Leitmeritz tells Chancery that – in order to set everything that happened right again – he must attain his innermost wish without any magic…

The collage like illustrations are made from various patterns, textures, objects and letters and breathtaking. Pablo Bernasconi is an award-winning designer and illustrator and this book testifies to it. There is so much to discover that you won’t be done with this book for a long time. On amazon you can have a look for yourself with the “look inside” feature. Just follow the link above to the book’s site on amazon.

There is a quote by Oscar Wilde on the first page of the book, something I haven’t come across yet in a children’s book. To me that’s an added bonus.

I can’t recommend the book highly enough and wish more people would know about it. We bought the hardcover edition in a discount store for a few Euros that clearly shows that unfortunately the book isn’t appreciated the way it deserves.

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Literary one hit wonders

Times Online has compiled a list of ten literary one hit wonders. I’ve only read two of them out of my own volition, the third one was forced on me in school.

To kill a mockingbird – Harper Lee
If you’d like to read a few quotes from “To kill a mockingbird” go to Melissa’s blog. She has compiled a few quotes for one the recent Weekly Geeks.

Gone with the wind – Margaret Mitchell
Couldn’t stand Scarlett in the film and therefore never read the book.

Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
Loved it. If you liked Heathcliff, too, you might want to take a look at “Is Heathcliff a murderer?”. The book investigates puzzles in 19th century fiction.

Catcher in the Rye – J. D. Salinger
One of the most boring books ever. Never liked it, never will.

The picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
Well, it’s Oscar Wilde, so what can I say? One hit wonder doesn’t really apply here. He’s written lots of things and was successful, even though this was his only novel.

A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
It has been published as a Penguin Modern Classic and sounds interesting. Must check it out.

The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
Don’t know. Suicidal people are not my favourite reading material.

Black Beauty – Anna Sewell
Isn’t that about horses? I vaguely remember a TV series when I was a kid. Never watched it though, I was one of the few girls who wasn’t into horses. Don’t think the book is for me either.

Dr. Zhivago – Boris Pasternak
I remember the film with, ah, what is the actor’s name – Omar Sharif. Russian revolution isn’t my thing either, I guess I’m too picky.

The God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy
Sounds interesting, too. Must check it out.

Also, make sure and read the comments of the article. Lots of other suggestions for one hit wonders and some criticism of the above choices.

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St. Nacho’s by Z. A. Maxfield

Synopsis: For about three years Cooper has been going from place to place, never staying anywhere longer than for a few days. Eventually he ends up in St. Ignacio, a small beach community in California, where he finds some kind of peace and love with Shawn, a deaf, young man with a strong personality. Then one day Cooper gets a phone call from his former lover and knows he has to go back to his home town.

Review: I liked the characters – a lot. Cooper was a man haunted by his past and desperately tried to get away from it. Shawn was absolutely wonderful – strong, supportive and understanding – almost too good to be true. To see that angelic Shawn was the actual dominant partner and rough boy Cooper rather submissive was surprising. It showed that there always is more to people than what you would suspect from a first glance and what stereotypes tell us. I really liked everything about this book until it turned out that Cooper had to go back home to help his former lover, after getting out of jail, back onto the tracks – presumably leaving St. Ignacio, aka St. Nacho’s, for good.

I don’t mind when an established couple gets separated for whatever reasons, as long as they try to get back together again. The fact that Cooper actually left and intended to leave Shawn behind – no matter how hard that was for him and no matter how much he didn’t want to do it – was something I could have done without. He could have left to come to terms with his past, with people involved etc. but he actually planned to go back because his ex asked him to get back together with him. The deal breaker came for me about three pages later or so when it turned out that Jordan, his ex lover, had turned to the church for salvation. One thing I can’t stand is a religious zealot, be it a follower who constantly tells you that you have to go and talk to the pastor "because you need his help", or be it the pastor himself, who constantly tells you that with God’s help you’ll be a better person, if only you weren’t so stubborn and accept it. And as soon as I have to picture a bible study group I’m out of there. I just don’t enjoy reading this, no matter how good the story is otherwise.

Just a side note on Cooper’s sister. I cannot fathom how she would possibly give Jordan Cooper’s phone number. She might have had the best intentions (though I can’t imagine what they would have been), but I found that incredibly insensible. After all Jordan was the responsible party for all the trouble in the past and he still tried to shift the blame on Cooper. Knowing that your brother already goes through hell, but now has found some sort of peace, would you give that person his phone number to pester your brother once more? I wouldn’t.

I read on just for the sake of it, but skipped parts where Jordan kept whining and Stan, the pastor, kept preaching. I am sure lots of readers will really enjoy this story, it is well written, the protagonists are likeable and they have deep feelings for each other. If I hadn’t been put off by the religious issues this would have been an excellent read.

Available at Loose ID

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Thursday 13: Black Adder quotes I

Today Thursday 13 is about a black vegetable, well, it would be if Edmund had stuck to his original idea. As it is, now it is about a black adder.
I love Black Adder. If you don’t know Black Adder I strongly recommend that you try to watch it some time. To me it shares the top rank of "Funniest show on TV" with Seinfeld.
So, more to my own amusement than anybody else’s I’m posting favourite Black Adder quotes or passages. You might not think they are so great if you’ve never seen it. On the other hand, if you know Black Adder you might think "ah, she forgot the one where….". And you will be right, because there are so many that thirteen aren’t possibly enough to cover it all. In fact, I might expand this and make a series with only Black Adder quotes. Consider yourselves warned!

This week all quotes are from the first series which starts in the year 1484. It is “a most bloody and most gripping historical tale”.

1. Eve of the battle at Bosworth Field. Richard III. is having a feast with his noblemen. His nephew Richard’s second son is Edmund. Richard, Edmund’s father, never knows who he is, let alone remembers his name.

Richard, Duke of York: Edna! Fight you with us on the morrow?

Edmund: Oh, goodness, no; I’ll be fighting with the enemy. Ha! Ha! Ha!

Richard III.: You’re not putting him anywhere near me, are you?

Richard, Duke of York: No, Uncle. He will be somewhere with the rabble.

Richard III.: Oh, Arrow fodder?

Richard, Duke of York: Precisely.

Richard III. smiles and waves at Edmund. Then says under his breath…

Richard III.: What a little turd!

2. The morning of the battle. Edmund is still snoring in bed. His mother, the Queen, enters his room.

Queen: Edmund? Edmund!

Edmund (waking up): Mmmh! Mother- what do you want?

Queen: Did you want to go to the battle this morning?

Edmund uncovers a sundial by his bed.

Edmund: Oh my God. It’s eleven o’clock

3. After the battle. The Queen awaits the arrival of the knights after the battle.

Edmund: Within seconds, Henry Tudor will be here at our gate.

Queen: Oh, Edmund, I’m not ready. I haven’t had a bath or anything.

Edmund: Mother, Henry is our enemy. When his men get here they’ll brutally ravish you and every woman in the castle.

Queen: I shan’t bother to change then.

4. After the battle. Harry, Edmund’s brother, comes into Edmund’s tower room.

Prince Harry: Ah, Edmund. I know it’s a little early, but I would just like to get these battle averages sorted out. Who did you kill today?

Edmund: Ahmmm: no one.

Prince Harry: No one. Oh, dear. Right, I’ll put you down for a duck, which I’m afraid takes you out of the running for the Legion of Honour.

5. The Queen is once more waiting for the return of her husband, Richard IV.

Lady-in waiting: You must be so looking forward to the king’s return, your Majesty.

Queen: No

Lady-in waiting: No, my lady? But think, he will come to your chamber and make mad, passionate love to you!

Queen: Yes, and I wish he wouldn’t do that. It’s very difficult to sleep with that sort of thing going on, you know. Being used all night long. Like the outside of a sausage roll.

6. The Archbishop of Canterbury has died. A messenger brings the bad news.

Edmund: Oh, dear, the Archbishop of Canterbury, eh? The king has done it again. That’s the third this year. How did this one die?

Messenger: Horribly, my lord.

Edmund: Any details?

Messenger: Ah, no; “horribly” was all I was given.

7. Edmund is discussing the tragic accident with his brother.

Prince Harry: Yes, that’s right. A tragic accident

Edmund: Almost as tragic as Archbishop Bertram being struck by a falling gargoyle whilst swimming off Beachy Head.

8.  Edmund has become the Archbishop of Canterbury. His servant Baldrick is discussing with him and Percy business options.

Edmund: Yes, Baldrick has been looking at some of the ways we can actually make a bit of money in this job.

Baldrick: Well, my lord…there seems to be four major profit areas. Curses, pardons, relics and selling sexual favours of nuns.

Edmund: Selling the sexual favours of nuns…do some people actually pay?

Baldrick: Well, foreign business men, other nuns, you know.

9. Baldrick has moved on to presenting his fake relic collection which is to be sold.

Percy: How will people be able to distinguish between these and the real relics?

Edmund: They won’t; that’s the point.

Percy: Yes, well, you won’t be able to fool everyone. Look: I have here a true relic.

He very dramatically reveals a wooden box.

Edmund: What is it?

Percy: A bone of the finger of our Lord. It cost me thirty-one pieces of silver.

Edmund: Good Lord: is it real?

Percy: It is, my lord.  You stand amazed, Baldrick.

Baldrick: I am. I thought they only came in boxes of ten. I could have let you have one for a couple of groats. Fingers are very big at the moment.

10. While grand decisions are being made at his father’s “office”, Edmund is loitering in his tower room.

Knock on the door.

Edmund: Enter, unless you’re a woman, in which case, prepare to be thrown out of the window with your dog!

Messenger: My lord, I bring a message.

Edmund: Yes, obviously, you’re a messenger.

11. Edmund, Percy and Baldrick are awaiting the arrival of the Spanish Infanta, Edmund’s bride, whom he has never seen before.

Percy: You know, they do say that the Infanta’s eyes are more beautiful than the famous Stone of Galveston.

Edmund: Mm! … What?

Percy: The famous Stone of Galveston, my lord.

Edmund: And what’s that, exactly?

Percy: Well, it’s a famous blue stone, and it comes … from Galveston.

Edmund: I see. And what about it?

Percy: Well, my lord, the Infanta’s eyes are bluer than it, for a start.

Edmund: I see. And have you ever seen this stone?

Percy: (nods) No, not as such, my lord, but I know a couple of people who have, and they say it’s very very blue indeed.

Edmund: And have these people seen the Infanta’s eyes?

Percy: No, I shouldn’t think so, my lord.

Edmund: And neither have you, presumably.

Percy: No, my lord.

Edmund: So, what you’re telling me, Percy, is that something you have never seen is slightly less blue than something else you have never seen.

12. After realizing that the Spanish Infanta is a real moose Edmund and his friends examine possibilities to back out of the arrangement.

Baldrick: I also have a plan, my lord.

Edmund: Yes?

Baldrick: Why not…make her think you prefer the company of men

Edmund: Well, I do, Baldrick, I do.

Baldrick: No, my lord, I mean, the…intimate company…of men.

Edmund: You don’t mean…like the Earl of Doncaster!

Baldrick: I mean just like the Earl of Doncaster!

Edmund: That great radish, that steaming great left-footer. The Earl of Doncaster has been riding side-saddle since he was seventeen.

Baldrick: But who would marry the Earl of Doncaster.

Edmund: Well, no one…Brilliant! Of course! No one would marry the Earl of Doncaster. Except perhaps the Duke of Beaufort.

13. The plague is haunting the country. Everyone is full of panic and sees evil omens everywhere.

Percy: Look, I just can’t take the pressure of all these omens any more.

Edmund: Percy…

Percy is almost in tears.

Percy: No, no really, I’m serious. Only this morning in the courtyard I saw a horse with two heads and two bodies.

Edmund: Two horses standing next to each other?

Right, I’m done for today. On one of the next Thursdays I’ll post quotes from the second season. Oh, and if you think quote no. 10 is not funny, I’m sorry. I think, it is.

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Untamed heart by Ally Blue

Synopsis: After killing the murderer of his lover hit man Leon thought he’d find peace, but instead sinks into depression and takes to drinking. His bosses, a dubious (governmental) organization, send him to a remote safe house in Alaska to recuperate. On one of his walks into the forest he is being attacked by a bear and only survives because a young man rescues him. Grim, a strangely subservient, fragile, yet strong boy takes care of him in his cabin in the woods. Leon realizes that Grim has been in an extremely abusive relationship that damaged Grim pretty badly and is resolved to free Grim of his past – and finds salvation himself.

Review: This was my first novel by Ally Blue, but certainly not my last. Leon – what an appropriate name for a hit man – is a ruthless killer without a conscience, but a tender and considerate man at the same time. Grim is a tough young man who has survived in the Alaskan wilderness on his own, but a deeply damaged soul who needs to please. He has been sexually, physically and emotionally abused since he was fourteen and that left mental scars that are hard to overcome. Leon is determined to help Grim to get rid of the hold the past has on him and by doing so he is being cleansed as well.

The story had a very good plot. The first part felt like a cabin romance, since Leon and Grim were secluded in that hidden cabin for a long time. When Leon’s organization came for him the pace changed from peaceful (at least on the outside) to, well, not really action packed, but determined activity on Leon’s side to escape himself, then free Grim and plan a future for them. Thank God, Leon had all the knowledge and contacts to do that.

When the moment came to get Grim out of hospital I was extremely impressed with how well they worked together. What a couple! They were good together no matter what they did, be it making love, gutting animals or killing adversaries. I liked that none of them was a goody-two-shoes, but both were real people with good and bad sides. Thank God Ally Blue didn’t take the easy way out and make Grim’s issues vanish into thin air once he had known Leon for some time. He was still dealing with them at the end of the book, which makes sense. Way too often in (especially straight) romance the hero is being "healed" the minute he gets together with the heroine. Not here. Grim is getting better, but he still has a long way to go.

The ending is the sweetest one ever. The outlook into the future for both of them leaves nothing to be desired, neither for Leon and Grim, nor for the reader.

Available at Samhain Publishing.

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Size still matters anthology – two more stories

There are two more stories in the "Size still matters" anthology from Dreamspinner. The first two Stories "Sight unseen" and "Take my picture" I reviewed in two separate posts, but I’d like to quickly review the other two in one post.

Start from the beginning by Chrissy Munder

Blurb: A heart attack leaves Miles wrangling with a slow recovery and a quiet retreat; just one cabin down from wounded warrior Drew.  Although he’s unhappy to have his solitude invaded, Drew finds himself fascinated with Miles, but he can’t bring himself to push aside his skittish nerves.  Both men fear rejection for different reasons, but what if they’ve instead found the acceptance they crave?

Quick review: A good short story. We didn’t learn a lot about the two protagonists, but they were still complex enough. I always wonder why the basic tortured hero has experienced all the rejection he has. People continuously flinch at the sight of scars etc. and consequently reject the prospective partner. How come? We’re talking about scars (and not even in the face, where they are the most visible. In that case, people wouldn’t show interest anyway if they are so superficial) and not about the personality of a psychotic mass murderer, which tends to put people off. Who the hell cares about a few scars on the back of a person you might come to love? Anyway, I digress. That’s how life is for the tortured hero. Drew and Miles were fantasizing about each other from afar for quite some time, but once they got together they were a good match.

 

Evan’s Heaven by Nicki Bennett

Blurb: Actor MacAlester Kerr wanders into a whole new world of pampering and pleasure when his director sends him to Evan’s Heaven for a pedicure.  Right off, he meets the Evan and finds himself head over heels.  Mac’s on Cloud Nine when he finds out Evan feels the same.

Quick review: This was totally different from the other three stories. It was told from Mac’s POV, part playing now, part in retrospect, remembering how Mac and Evan met and what followed. Apart from the fact that Max is an actor and Evan is the owner of the beauty salon we know nothing about the two men. They meet, have sex and have sex again, mostly with some beauty treatment as foreplay and some mild kink (learned some stuff about love beads) thrown in. They do have a serious relationship, but we don’t get to know anything about other aspects of it.

In the other three stories the characters all had various issues to deal with, not here. It was a story purely based on getting off. Not bad in itself, if you like that, but by the time I got to this last one, I just expected more.

Anthology available at Dreamspinner Press

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Passion by M. L. Rhodes

Synopsis: Robert, a successful businessman, has been ogling Jesse, the bartender in the local GLBT run bar for some time now. Jesse has noticed Robert as well, but never let on to any customers that he’s gay. He wants to leave his past behind and is not interested in any sort of relationship or even a short interlude. One evening the two men are thrown together by bad weather and spend a passionate night. However, Jesse doesn’t seem to be ready for being with Robert, because he left the morning after with a short, impersonal note.

Review:  We met Robert already in the story about "The elf and Shoemaker". There we saw him in a short scene in Logan’s shop, a scene that is re-played here from Robert’s point of view. I liked how Robert and Jesse were attracted to each other, but never made a move. Robert because he thought Jesse was straight and Jesse because he didn’t want to get involved with anybody, even though he was dying to get to know Robert. The way they watched each other in the bar and noticed every little bit about the other was just like in real life.

The situation that forced them to spend the night together was credible. OK, blizzard and snow rifts are not the most original way of achieving that, but at least they are feasible. I could also relate to Jesse’s issues and his suspicions towards Robert later on. They both were complex, realistic characters and I just had to know how everything was going to be resolved. Once more a well meaning room mate gave a helping hand. It’s always good to see friends or family actually help instead of throwing constant spanners into the works – a device that is being used way too often in straight romance,  at least for my taste.

"Passion" was a pleasurable read – perfect to cuddle up with on a cold evening, preferably with lots of snow outside.

 

Available at Amber Allure

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Amnesia by Sean Michael

Part of the blurb: When Thaine wakes up in the hospital after a bull riding injury, he has a few problems. He doesn’t remember the last five years, or his new boyfriend, and all he wants in the world is his ex-lover Jerry. Thing is, he and Jerry broke up a long time ago, and no one is sure Jerry will come.

Review: Once more the good old amnesia theme. This was different though. For once it was not about the lover slowly trying to help the amnesia sufferer regain his memory. On the contrary.

Thaine loses his memory in a bull riding accident and thinks he is still together with Jerry, his lover of five years ago. Drew, his current lover, the total opposite of Jerry, he doesn’t even recognize. Doctor’s orders are to play along for some time. Jerry, a successful businessman with the accompanying attitude, comes flown in and takes over. Since he’s still somewhat in love with Thaine, he has no problem with that. After being told about the current status (Drew his lover, Jerry gone, mother dead) Thaine has no problem to heartlessly kick Drew out of his life in order to make room for his ex. Drew is left behind with basically nothing, but Jesse, Thaine’s old friend who has been pining for Drew for ages, offers him a place to stay and a job on his ranch.

In fact, it turns out that Drew and Jesse are a much better match than Drew and Thaine had been. Drew realizes that he’s always put Thaine – who never really loved him like he loved Jerry –  on a pedestal and now, with Jesse, he has found true love. Thaine, on the other hand, is happily screwing his days away with Jerry.

OK. I can honestly say I have never disliked a main couple in a book as much as I disliked Thaine and Jerry. Thaine isn’t only an idiot, who went back to bull riding against the advice of his doctors, thus almost losing his life later on in the book, better yet, he is an idiot without any style whatsoever. The way he discards Drew, his lover of three years, is disgraceful. It is true he has no idea who Drew is, but I’m sure there would have been better ways to deal with this situation. We don’t get any insight to what his relationship with Drew was before his accident, apart from the knowledge that Drew worshipped him as a hero and he didn’t love Drew that much, but surely there must have been some sort of connection. Consequently for Drew this is just awful; he didn’t deserve such treatment. Thaine’s relationship with Jerry was obviously based on sex and sex only, if we can go by what we see of them later on. I just didn’t like the interaction between Thaine and his friends once Jerry was back. The way Jerry was reacting to Jesse and his threats to hire a lawyer to get Thaine’s stuff back weren’t endearing either. I just hated those two guys and only scanned most of their scenes (a lot of them were merely sex scenes anyway).

The story between Drew and Jesse was a really good one. I enjoyed their time together. For once Sean Michael had a couple not spending all their time in the bedroom but actually do other stuff. A nice change. They were both likeable characters and sweet together; too bad, the larger part of the story was taken up by the other two.

Available at Torquere Books

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weekly geeks 2009-12: Linking reviews

This week’s weekly geeks is about linking to reviews of other bloggers who have reviewed the same books that I have. That’s probably pretty difficult in my case because the genre of books I usually review isn’t that common among my fellow geeks. There are a few romance readers among them, but even less that seem to read m/m romance. Doesn’t matter, I’ll persevere.

If you have reviewed any of the books that I talked about, please leave a comment and I will be more than happy to add a link to your review in the actual post. I always like to compare reviews and see what other people think about a book. To find all the books I reviewed, you can click on the reviews category.

I’ll go and have a look at other weekly geeks whether I’ll find some books that we both talked about. I have an inkling I might be lucky at Literary Escapism and Erotic Horizon if she is participating this week.

I’ll post later on in the week to see how successful I was.

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Take my picture by Giselle Ellis

Synopsis: Five years ago Aaron went to a casting for a photographer and was chosen by Jake as his new assistant after looking at him for two seconds, discarding all other blokes that were standing in line. Now, five years later, their relationship seems to come to a close. Aaron is moving out and Jake lets him go.

Review: This story is part of the anthology "Size still matters" from Dreamspinner Press.

Neither my synopsis which I kept extremely short nor the blurb on Dreamspinner can possibly convey what this story is about. I was actually considering skipping it altogether, because from reading the blurb I didn’t think it was for me. Now I’m so grateful that I didn’t remember what the blurb said when I started reading yesterday. I decided to just move on to the next story and I was drawn in right away.

Mild spoilers ahead!

OK, from the beginning. It starts funny and in a light tone. Jake’s and Aaron’s banter with cheeky remarks and snappy retorts was refreshing. The two guys got along from the start and became not only co-workers (of a sort), but good friends as well. Very soon Giselle Ellis starts to describe what both think about the other and that gives the story a completely different undertone. Aaron has boyfriends, Jake hates all of them. A boyfriend talks bad about Jake, Aaron just kicks him out for good. Jake has one night stands, all of them look like Aaron. I so felt with those two, I couldn’t stop reading to finally see them come together. The way the story went I wasn’t even sure that this was ever going to happen.

I usually hate stories where people are so blind that they don’t recognize their own feelings, or where they don’t own up to them, but here Giselle Ellis described everything in such a clever way that I was totally blown away.

The way Aaron practically lived with Jake, even though he had his own apartment. The way Jake called Aaron in the middle of the night to know he was there and Aaron’s reaction to that *. The way they were jealous of each other’s boyfriends or one-night stands. The way they looked after each other. The way Aaron described to Jake what he was looking for without seeing that he already had found it, that it was standing right in front of him. The way they knew everything about each other, except for the other one’s true feelings. The way they were utterly miserable without each other, not realizing they were in love. The way Jake went to Aaron’s house and just sat there and Aaron watching him. The way they were a couple without knowing it. It broke your heart. When someone is lovesick for whatever reason you normally think, ah, he’ll get over it after a while. Never for once did I think that about either one of those two guys. It was clear from the beginning that there would never be another one for them, and that neither would ever get over the other. It was incredible.

I felt like Alyson, Jake’s former assistant and friend, for the most part of the book and wanted to just yell at them both and tell them to open their eyes. Unfortunately, even after Jake and Aaron realized that what they felt for each other was love, they couldn’t bring themselves to acknowledge it. Usually by now I’d be sitting there and think "How hard can it bloody be?", but not here. It all made perfect sense. Thank God for Matt, Aaron’s current boyfriend, who must be the most selfless person ever, for recognizing what was going on early on and do something to help those two miserable guys on their way.

There was only one love/sex scene in the whole story, which is rather unusual in that genre, but, believe me, that one scene is one of the (if not the) most intense one I’ve ever read. Passionate doesn’t even begin to describe it, those guys are in a frenzy. It totally made up for the agony that everybody went through (including myself).

This is one of the most emotional reads that I’ve come across so far. The story is a real gem, I can’t say enough good about it and highly recommend it. Unfortunately I checked on Dreamspinner for more stories by Giselle Ellis, but found none. How come? How very disappointing! I want to read more of her.

* I’m reading too much into that really, but it reminded me of something Karl Kraus said: "Is a woman in a room, before someone enters, who sees her? Is there the woman per se?" (My translation, so it might be wobbly, forgive me).

 

The anthology is available at Dreamspinner Press.

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Sight Unseen by Shay Kincaid

Synopsis: Jackson Prescott, a well known artist and actor, dials a wrong number and gets connected to Devon. The two hit it off and keep up a telephone friendship over the next few weeks. However, to get to know Devon without all the baggage of being a celebrity Jackson didn’t give Devon his true name. After a couple of weeks Devon suggests to meet.

Review: This story is part if the "Size still matters" anthology. It contains four stories classified as "short stories", but I was surprised to find that it was quite long. I’ve read novellas shorter than that. I’m partial to the "meet your partner via ad, chat or phone" plots and this story was the reason for me to buy the anthology in the first place. And the money wasn’t wasted, even though I haven’t read the other stories yet.

In the beginning the story reminded me of "Short and Shy" by Rhianne Aile, but the plot was more elaborate and continued for a long time, where "Short and Shy" was resolved very quickly (not surprising, since the latter is a just a "day dream" and not meant to be anything else than a quick read).

Jackson and Devon’s relationship developed beautifully. They had conversations over the phone and got to know each other quite well before they even met. When they did eventually meet and Devon found out he had been deceived to an extent he didn’t shrug it off but had ambiguous feelings about continuing this friendship. Once he decided to give Jackson a chance to show him that he was still the person he was when they talked on the phone, they  turned out to be perfect for each other. What a delightful couple! Jackson, the older man, always knew what he wanted, but at the same time knew that he had to give Devon time to realize that what they had was special. He was never pushy and was actually extremely trusting and easy-going when he suggested Devon should go and find out for himself that their relationship isn’t something you can find just anywhere.

It was quite realistic that Devon needed time to decide whether he wanted to make a commitment to Jackson, considering what a relationship with him would entail. Even after he made his decision the story didn’t stop but continued to describe the problems Jackson and Devon were facing when being together, but had a good wrapped up ending. I liked that a lot. As for the love scenes, they were very sensual and well written. Shay Kincaid described Jackson’s and Devon’s feelings and that their connection is more than just physical in such a way that you were with the characters all the time.

I absolutely loved this story. This was my first read by Shay Kincaid, I will definitely check out her other stuff. If you like stories with deep feelings that concentrate on the main characters, this is a wonderful read for you.

Anthology available at Dreamspinner Press

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100 movies to see before you die. Really?

I came across this list at An eerie tapestry. Since I love lists, I thought I’d play along, even though the list has not much to do with books (if anything). I could probably stretch it a bit and say that a lot of them are either based on books or some dubious writer came up with a not so good novelization later to make a few more bucks. Which ones they are I can’t say, that would take too much research and time I don’t want to spend that way. But I’m sure you’ll live without that valuable knowledge.

The bold one I’ve seen, the blue ones I really liked.

0-9
12 Angry Men (1957)
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) √
400 Blows (1959)
8 1/2 (1963)
A
The African Queen (1952)
Alien (1979)
All About Eve (1950)
Annie Hall (1977)
Apocalypse Now (1979)
B
The Battle of Algiers (1967)
The Bicycle Thief (1948)
Blade Runner (1982)
Blazing Saddles (1974)
Blow Up (1966)
Blue Velvet (1986)
Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
Breathless (1960)
The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
Bringing Up Baby (1938)
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
C
Casablanca (1942)
Chinatown (1974)
Citizen Kane (1941)
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
D
Die Hard (1988)
Do the Right Thing (1989)
Double Indemnity (1944)
Dr. Strangelove (1964)
Duck Soup (1933)
E
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
Enter the Dragon (1973)
The Exorcist (1973)
F
Fast Times At Ridgemont High (1982)
The French Connection (1971)
G
The Godfather (1972)
The Godfather, Part II (1974)
Goldfinger (1964)
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1968)
Goodfellas (1990)
The Graduate (1967)

Grand Illusion (1938)
Groundhog Day (1993)
H
A Hard Day’s Night (1964)
I
In the Mood For Love (2001)
It Happened One Night (1934)
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
J
Jaws (1975)
K
King Kong (1933)
L
The Lady Eve (1941)
Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
The Lord of the Rings (2001)
M
M (1931)
M*A*S*H (1970)
The Maltese Falcon (1941)
The Matrix (1999)
Modern Times (1936)
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
N
National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978)
Network (1976)
Nosferatu (1922)
O
On the Waterfront (1954)
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
P
Paths of Glory (1958)
Princess Mononoke (1999)
Psycho (1960)
Pulp Fiction (1994)

R
Raging Bull (1980)
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Raise the Red Lantern (1992)
Rashomon (1951)
Rear Window (1954)
Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
Rocky (1976)
Roman Holiday (1953)

S
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Schindler’s List (1993)
The Searchers (1956)
Seven Samurai (1954)
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
Some Like It Hot (1959)
The Sound of Music (1965)
Star Wars (1977)

Sunset Blvd. (1950)
T
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
The Third Man (1949)
This is Spinal Tap (1984)
Titanic (1997)
To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
Toy Story (1995)
U
The Usual Suspects (1995)
V
Vertigo (1958)
W
When Harry Met Sally… (1989)
Wild Strawberries (1957)

Wings of Desire (1988)
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Women On the Verge of Nervous Breakdown (1988)
The World of Apu (1959)

I don’t know whether I agree with the list. You can certainly live without having seen The sound of music and the like. And obviously I missed a lot of so-called must-sees. In fact I take pride in the fact that I’ve never seen E.T. or Titanic. Some of the films on the list I should certainly go and see, like for example Schindler’s list.

An eerie tapestry (unfortunately I don’t know his name, so I have to call him by the name of his blog) suggested to add a film to the list, which I think is a good idea. He added Brazil, another film, I haven’t seen. Oh well, I’m adding:

Manhattan (1979)

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Thursday 13: Computer haiku

 

I already mentioned computer haiku once in a previous post. Today I’m listing a few of my favourite computer haiku. Programmers or who ever comes up with error messages might want to take a look and get some inspiration.

  

Chaos reigns within.
Reflect, repent, and reboot.
Order shall return.
Suzie Wagner

 

Login incorrect.
Only perfect spellers may
enter this system.
Jason Axley

ABORTED effort:
Close all that you have.
You ask way too much.
Mike Hagler

Yesterday it worked
Today it is not working
Windows is like that
Margaret Segall

No keyboard present
Hit F1 to continue
Zen engineering?
Jim Griffith

Serious error.
All shortcuts have disappeared.
Screen. Mind. Both are blank.
Ian Hughes

First snow, then silence.
This thousand dollar screen dies
so beautifully.
Simon Firth

For a new PC,
Center of my universe,
I abandon all.
Bob Ruby II

Server’s poor response
Not quick enough for browser.
Timed out, plum blossom.
Rik Jespersen

wind catches lily
scatt’ring petals to the wind:
segmentation fault
Nick Sweeney

Everything is gone;
Your life’s work has been destroyed.
Squeeze trigger (yes/no)?
David Carlson

Seeing my great fault
Through darkening blue windows
I begin again
Chris Walsh

Printer not ready.
Could be a fatal error.
Have a pen handy?
Pat Davis

 

See more Thursday 13 participants over at Thursday 13