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No Weekly Geeks this week, but…

…a Read-a-Thon.

Tons of challenges, prizes etc. to be had. However, I was busy without reading. After upgrading WordPress yesterday, non-working tags, and my old wordpress theme not to my liking anymore, I changed the looks of the blog today. I redid the categories, the tags and kicked out a few pages with challenges I’m not following anymore. And I had fun creating a couple of header and sidebar images. Not to forget the cool widget with the quotes from italy is falling.

All in all I’m pretty pleased with the new look. Hope you all like it, too.

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Free e-books from Random House

Random House have started a new site Suvudu where readers can download the first SF and fantasy books in various series. The books are available in various ebook formats. The first books available are among others “Assasin’s Apprentice” by Robin Hobb (The Farseer Trilogy) and “His Majesty’s Dragon” by Naomi Novik (Temeraire). New titles are being added regularly.

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Tagging problem

I went through the tedious task today to upgrade wordpress. So, now not only all apostrophes and speech marks are replaced by some code, which looks incredibly stupid, also something is wrong with the taggin plugin. I’m not surprised about the tag thing, since my former wordpress version was really outdated and the plugin is probably wonky due to the new version. I’ll remove all tags and the plugin and switch to a new one. This might take a little while, sorry. 

As to the apostrophes, I changed thm in the last few posts, but haven’t got the time to correct each and every post. Maybe when I’m getting really bored, I will. Sorry again!

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Friday 5: The great outdoors

Today’s Friday 5 is about the great outdoors. I’ll be done in about 30 seconds flat with this one, I’m not an outdoor person at all.

  1. When did you last sleep in a tent?
    That must have been about 25 years ago. My first and only time. I didn’t like it. Give me a hotel room any time.
  2. What comes to mind when you think about relieving yourself in the great outdoors?
    Bugs.
  3. Where’s the best place you ever went camping?
    The only place I ever went camping is Malcesine at Lake Garda in Italy.
  4. What’s your favorite camp food?
    I don’t go camping.
  5. What’s your sleeping bag like?
    Well, you will have guessed it by now, I suppose. I haven’t got one.
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Thursday 13: Pet peeves at work

Today’s Thursday 13 is not book related at all. I’m off this week and miss my job. So, in order to fight my feeling of being lost I made up a little quiz about my pet peeves at work. Guess which answer is the correct answer for me. In one case more than one answer is possible.

To make up for this list of laments I’ll post a list of my 13 favourite things at work in the future. 

  1. The royal "we" (unfortunately not)
    Situation: Your boss comes into your office and says: "We have to do the xyz reports today." To you this means:
    a. He always uses the royal "we", he does the reports himself.
    b. You do the reports with him together.
    c. You do the reports on your own. However, once again his "we" tricked you for a second into believing he will help.
  2. The eternal greeting card loop
    Situation: Your boss sends a gift with a greeting card. He receives a thank you card back.
    a. Nothing more needs to be done.
    b. He wants you to send a thank you card for the thank you card. Ad infinitum et at nauseam.
  3. Deadline? What deadline?
    Situation: A deadline is due.
    a. You get all reports at least 2 days earlier. You have plenty of time to sort everything out and to contact people if questions arise.
    b. You get the reports just in time to combine them all and send them on before the deadline expires.
    c. You get the first report just in time, the rest you have to ask for repeatedly. The deadline expires without being met. You are blamed for both, by the slowpokes for the too short deadline and by your boss for the missed one.
  4. Game over!
    Situation: Your boss receives a new assignment with a deadline.
    a. He tells you immediately, so you can prepare everything and request whatever is necessary from everybody involved with plenty of time to meet the deadline.
    b. You are getting the wind of it by pure chance, because your boss forgot to send you the info.
    c. You are notified about it 3 days (or 3 weeks) after the deadline date. Then chaos ensues. However, if you are lucky, someone took care of it in time. Then it’s like a puzzle with scattered pieces and all of a sudden those pieces all slot into their assigned places. In that case the chaos turns into sheer beauty.
  5. I’ll forward anything to anybody
    Situation: Your boss receives an email.
    a. He checks whose name is already on the distribution list and, after carefully reading it, sends it only to relevant people who have not received the mail yet.
    b. After carefully reading it, he sends it only to relevant people. They might get the mail a second time, because their name has been on the distribution list already.
    c. He doesn’t read the email and forwards it to everybody with a little "take care of this" note. Everybody has to read it and wastes valuable time. Advantage of this method: Everybody knows everything and doesn’t need to be informed separately. Disadvantage of this method: Everybody knows everything and thinks he’s got a say in it.
  6. Snails at work
    Situation: You discover a minor mistake on the companies website. A word has been translated wrong. You notify the German HQ.
    a. It takes a few hours to correct the mistake. You receive a notification that it’s done.
    b. You receive a notification that it has been forwarded to the international HQ. After about 3 days the mistake is corrected.
    c.  You receive a notification that it has been forwarded to the international HQ. After about 3 months nothing has happened.
  7. Morons at work
    Situation: A colleague has a parcel to be dispatched. He hasn’t asked the parcel service yet to come by to pick it up. Parcel service turns up to pick up a parcel. Reception staff is busy at the moment and can’t answer the parcel guy. The colleague happens to stand at the reception. What does he do?
    a. He does nothing and waits until reception staff is free to answer and give the parcel guy the correct parcel that has been sitting there all day to be picked up.
    b. He thinks, "Ah, I have a parcel that needs to be picked up and here is a parcel guy. I’ll tell him to wait and  get my parcel from my office. He must have known I have something that needs picking up."
    c. He thinks, "Screw my colleague whose parcel is waiting to be picked up. Mine is more urgent, I’ll just get mine and hand it over. Who cares what happens to the important papers that need to be in xxx by tomorrow morning?"
  8. Why would you need software? Or hardware?
    Situation: You want to watch an important flash movie (with sound) on your company’s intranet.
    a. You watch it and enjoy the top quality of picture and sound.
    b. You watch it but can’t enjoy the sound, since you haven’t got speakers.
    c. You can’t watch it since it requires the newest flash version, which you haven’t got.
  9. Access denied!
    Situation: In your lunch break (or working time) you want to blog, watch a youtube video or tell your facebook friends what you’re up to.
    a. You go ahead and blog / watch youtube/ facebook to your heart’s content:
    b. You can’t do any of these, but you can at least go through your bloglines and read your favourite blogs
    c. You can do nothing of the sort, because all access is denied.
  10. Cut the red tape (and glue it back together)
    Situation: In order to cut down bureaucracy it is announced that reporting will be reduced to a minimum.
    a. Your workload is reduced by at least 50%. Only minimum reports are being requested now. It is a dream come true.
    b. Your workload stays the same. Nothing changes.
    c. New reports and spreadsheets to cut red tape are being added to the usual and your workload is increased by 25%.
  11. Your ad could go here 
    Situation: Someone comes by without appointment and wants to speak to you. He wants to sell you ads for a local event brochure.
    a. He is a businessman who tells you prices and media data. You tell him that you’ll contact him. He leaves.
    b. He is a somewhat casual guy and tells you prices and media data. You tell him that you’ll contact him. He chats a bit with you and then leaves.
    c. The guy in question is a self appointed expert on eroticism. He is a sex-crazed maniac who looks like a pimp. He chats you up, tells you about a lake where the nudists hang out and suggests you come out one day for a photo shooting. On top of it he proposes his idea for an erotic reading on your premises. He only leaves when you say, you are off the clock in about two minutes.
  12. You want food? Go and buy some elsewhere!
    Situation: You are hungry. You go into the kitchen and check whether you can find something to eat.
    a. There is plenty of stuff to choose from because a buffet has come back from the clients. You’re free to take whatever you want.
    b. There are a few leftovers from God knows when. You grab whatever is available. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.
    c. No luck! Apart from the extremely short break times there is no food to be had. Missed the break? Tough! Not even a slice of dry bread can be found.
  13. My desk is my castle (but nobody seems to care)
    Situation: You shut down your PC and leave your office to go home.
    a. The next morning your desk is exactly how you left it yesterday.
    b. The next morning you see that somebody sat at your desk. They tried to conceal that fact by arranging everything the way it was when you left. Only subtle signs tell you somebody was there.
    c. The next morning your PC is running. Outlook is open. Someone rummaged through your emails. Some pens and your scissors are missing. When you sit down you almost land on the floor because someone has changed your chair settings.

Correct answers:

correct_answers

Article

Over the road by Madeleine Urban & Abigail Roux

Blurb: Truck driver Elliot Cochran meets ‘McLean’ while talking on the CB and strikes up an unusual friendship. One evening, McLean tells Elliot he needs to go find some companionship, and so Elliot meets Jimmy Vaughan – and has one of the best nights in his life. Before long Elliot faces a decision about sharing his life: Does he choose McLean, the best friend he’s never met, or Jimmy, the man who thrills him beyond belief?

Review: This is the second story in "Love ahead".

SPOILERS AHEAD!

I really enjoyed reading about the two protagonists. They hit it off right away over the CB / phone and became great friends without ever seeing each other. So far so good. Unfortunately hidden identity plots are another pet peeve of mine (I know I have many; another one would be woman disguised as man, but you don’t come across them in gay novels, thank God), so I wasn’t too pleased with this. How "McLean" and "Millis" could talk for what seems like an eternity over the phone but never exchange even first names is a mystery to me. Must be a male thing, obviously. I can’t imagine this happening with two women, :-).

The one night stand I was ready to forgive, since by that time their "long distance relationship" hadn’t really developed yet, but when Jimmy and Elliot met again and they still carried on, I was a bit disappointed. Yeah, ok, they were felling guilty, but it still took them some time to stop this "cheating". The scenes with Jimmy and Elliot were hot and romantic, nevertheless I didn’t really care for them, because they felt wrong to me. I especially disliked one scene when Jimmy deliberately lied to Elliot. Only later I was back on the right track again when this ridiculous situation was cleared up.

I felt the whole initial situation just unrealistic to the extreme. Usually I don’t mind lack of realism. I this case, however, it was paired up with a plot I didn’t appreciate, and that made all the difference.

Available at Dreamspinner Press

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Under contract by Madeleine Urban & Abigail Roux

Synopsis: Foreman Ted Lucas is in love with his assistant Nick Cooper, but his erratic behaviour leads Nick to believe Ted doesn’t like him and ask for a transfer. One day after work Ted gets up the nerve to confess his feelings. Nick is stunned and agrees to a night together to give them a chance.

Review: "Under contract" is part of "Love ahead", a book with two stories by Madeleine Urban and Abigail Roux.

I was extremely impressed with Ted and the courage he shows when he tells Nick about how he feels. Not only is he Nick’s superior and a sexual harassment complaint is a distinct possibility, he also isn’t even sure whether Nick is gay or not. In fact from gossip he must assume that Nick isn’t. Yet, since he is a burnt child and already had to let one man go because he didn’t own up to his feelings, which broke his heart, he is determined not to make the second mistake twice. That is even more admirable since he more or less got kicked our from another site after his sexual proclivity was revealed.

Nick turns out to be gay after all – lucky Ted – and agrees to a night together to show Ted that love has nothing to do with this. Again, a commendable reaction. I wonder if Nick didn’t have feelings for Ted all along without even acknowledging it himself. Why else would he agree to such a thing? Just because someone confesses to be in love with you, you won’t be inclined to spend the night with him/her, unless you feel something. At least to my way of thinking.

Anyway, they get along wonderfully and decide to give that thing between them a chance to grow or die. An unfortunate accident at work causes Ted to practically move in with Nick which helps them along the way. However not all is sunshine, since Nick just can’t get the words out that Ted longs to hear.

Then some miscommunication happens and the whole relationship gets blown to pieces. I wasn’t too keen on that, because lack of communication or misreading the other person, even though it should be obvious what they mean, is a pet peeve of mine. However, that whole sad interlude came to a rather quick ending, which reconciled me somewhat.

Apart from the protagonists a few nice supporting guys were present as well. I especially liked the ever fainting Sanders, who turned out to be a perceptive and cunning observer. He would probably be a good scheming matchmaker, if he ever chose to leave his present line of business.

This was a fun read, perfect for readers who don’t like angst and upsetting internal conflicts.

Available at Dreamspinner Press

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It was the French – yeah, right

I, like everybody else, got the following email from amazon:

"This is an embarrassing and ham-fisted cataloging error for a company that prides itself on offering complete selection.

It has been misreported that the issue was limited to Gay & Lesbian themed titles – in fact, it impacted 57,310 books in a number of broad categories such as Health, Mind & Body, Reproductive & Sexual Medicine, and Erotica. This problem impacted books not just in the United States but globally. It affected not just sales rank but also had the effect of removing the books from Amazon’s main product search.

Many books have now been fixed and we’re in the process of fixing the remainder as quickly as possible, and we intend to implement new measures to make this kind of accident less likely to occur in the future."

Furthermore they say according to a post at seattlepi.com that it was a mistake by a guy from amazon France that caused all this. Strange, because

  • NOT all countries were affected by this. On amazon.de you could still find books in question. with an all departments search
  • why didn’t this effect books that deal with homosexuality, but from a different angle, like "A parent’s guide to preventing homosexuality" or "You don’t have to be gay"
  • how come one single guy in France can do something that affects all of amazon worldwide, when obviously he has no clue about what he was doing? Haven’t they got any security measures to prevent this?

Another link to an interesting insider’s look at seattlepi.com.

I still haven’t heard from amazon.de. They should be aware of that problem since "This problem impacted books not just in the United States but globally". But then again, it didn’t.

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Amazon rank (v.)

The news is all over the place and everybody is up in arms against amazon. For some idiotic reason amazon has come up with some crap that obviously caters to the religious fanatics and narrow minded bigots.

In consideration of our entire customer base, we exclude "adult" material from appearing in some searches and best seller lists. Since these lists are generated using sales ranks, adult materials must also be excluded from that feature.

"Adult" material meaning mainly, but not exclusively, GLBT fiction and non-fiction. Already authors have confirmed that their books don’t turn up in search results anymore. What gives? I don’t get that. At all.

The smart bitches have already taken some action and created a quick website where the new verb amazon rank is getting a whole new meaning*.

Go and sign a petition to object to amazon’s outrageous try at censorship. On his blog Mark R. Probst has talked about his exchange with amazon concerning this new adult policy that has obviously been going on for much longer than we thought.

Astonishingly enough now amazon claims that a "glitch" was responsible for the removal from sales ranks. A glitch, of course! Who do they hope to fool with that transparent excuse? A glitch that lasts months and has been brought to amazon’s attention already in February? Read Craig Seymour’s post to know more about his experiences with amazon.

On Dear Author you will find the email address of amazon’s executive customer sevice and a template you can use to send to them. Until this matter is resolved we all should go and buy our books elsewhere. Companies who censor books and discriminate shouldn’t be supported in any way.

Here is a list of books the sales rank of which has been removed. It is growing by the minute. And if you’d like to see twitter updates check #amazonfail search results.

As a matter of fact I think I’ll inquire with our national amazon as to their POV on that matter. I don’t think that this new adult policy is being in effect over here, but possibly letting them know that they are losing customers in other countries adds a little bit of pressure, too.

Amazon would do better to backpedal quickly.

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Weekly Geeks 2009-14: What’s cookin’?

What shall we cook today? It seems that for most of us, a bit of our book obsession would carry over to the cookbook genre, so this week for Weekly Geeks, let’s talk cookbooks! Here are some ideas to get you started:
–Describe your cookbook collection. How many cookbooks do you own? A lot? Just a few? None at all?
–Do you even buy cookbooks? Or do you gather family cookbook compilations and/or recipe files instead?
–Do you like to collect certain types of cookbooks? Say, from certain chefs? From places you visit? From a particular food group or style?
–When buying cookbooks, what do you look for? Does it need to have pictures? Spiral binding? A specific type of font?
–What is your favorite cookbook? Tell us the story behind it.
–Tell us about your most well-used cookbook. Is it different from your favorite cookbook? Or are they one and the same?
–Take a picture of your collection. How and where do you organize it?
–Share a recipe from one of your favorite cookbooks. Include a picture if you can.

OK, cooking. I didn’t think I’d ever blog about cookbooks, but, I suppose I will after all…

My cookbook collection
I probably have around 30 cookbooks, none of which I really use. I have a few basic cookbooks that I sometimes refer to, but other than that I hardly ever try out new dishes from cookbooks.

Where do I get cookbooks from?
I usually buy them. I have a little binder with a few recipes that I collected over the years, but I hardly use those either.

Do I collect certain types?
No, not at all, I buy whatever catches my eye. Usually mediterranean or other ethnic cuisine.

When I buy cookbooks…
…I look for books with enticing covers and good photos. A cookbook without photos must be something different for me to buy it. A few examples would be Recipes from the Raleigh Tavern Bake Shop, which I bought in Colonial Williamsburg, A book of famous old New Orleans Recipes, that I got in the French Quarter or The Amish homestead cookbook, that I picked up God knows where. But those are more travel souvenirs than anything else.

My favourite cookbook?
I don’t think I have a favourite cookbook. Ah, not true. I sort of like the Culinaria series. They are not so much cookbooks than books about the various types of cuisine, facts, interesting tidbits to know, specialties etc. I’ve got the European and the USA one. Another book I like is Cooking A to Z, which is a wonderful reference book. I bought it years ago at Books for Cooks. That shop is a dream come true for cook book lovers.

My most well-used cookbook
is probably Basic Cooking.

A picture of my collection…
can’t be taken. They are all over the place. Some in the kitchen, some on various bookshelves. I don’t organize them in any way. Only the most helpful ones are in the kitchen on the window sill.

A recipe

I chose a recipe from Sophia Loren’s recipes and memories. I love Pasta and especially Carbonara dishes, but often they are not done properly.

Bucatini alla Carbonara

Ingredients:

1 tbs olive oil
2 tbs unsalted butter
4 oz. pancetta or bacon, diced
Minced Italian parsley
5 or 6 egg yolks
2 tbs light cream
3 tbs freshly grated Pecorino or Parmigiano, and more to serve
1 1/4 lbs bucatini

Heat oil and butter in pan. add pancetta and parsley. Sauté over medium heat to brown pancetta well. In a bowl beat together egg yolks, cream and cheese.

Meanwhile boil the bucatini until al dente. Drain well and turn it out into a serving dish. Working quickly, pour first the pancetta mixture, then the beaten egg mixture over the pasta. Toss quickly to coat the strands with the sauce; the eggs will cook in the heat of the pasta, Serve immediately while still hot. Pass additional cheese at the table. Enjoy!

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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

Article

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.
Article

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