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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

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Book thieves

Times online recently published an article about the most stolen authors in the UK. Apparently, apart from reference books and maps, Terry Pratchett is the most stolen author. On the other hand, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows” is the most borrowed book in the UK. How anybody can steal books is a mystery to me. They can be borrowed in libraries, swapped or even found. And usually they don’t cost a fortune either. I’m not a big fan of Günther Grass, but for once he’s right when he says “Even bad books are books, and therefore sacred.” (“Die Blechtrommel”, “The Tin Drum”)

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M/M romance challenge

Christina is hosting a M/M romance challenge on her blog “I heart paperbacks”. A good way to start reading that genre if you are interested but never knew where to start or just to get even more into it (as if we needed a challenge for that). Anyway, there are prizes to be had and lots of fun. I think I’ll have to give up another one of the challenges I signed up for, but that won’t be a problem really. I just have to decide, what to drop.

I suppose I’ll sign up for the 10 books. Until August this should be manageable. I’ll decide on the books as I go along.

edit: I already thought of a few books to read. My list an be found at the M/M romance page

Want to sign up? Head on over to her blog.

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Excerpt for “Conflict in blood” available now

If you have read my reviews of Alliance in blood and Covenant in blood you will know that I absolutely love the “Partnership in blood” series by Ariel Tachna. The third volume “Conflict in blood” will be released in May and an excerpt is now available on Dreamspinner. The excerpt is about Jean and Raymond, not one of my favourite  couples in the book, but I enjoyed reading it nevertheless. If you are interested, I strongly recommend you read the first two books, otherwise the story won’t make much sense to you.

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Blood and Sex vol. 1: Michael by Angela Cameron

Blurb from Ravenous Romance: Detective Victoria Tyler is investigating Collins Bay’s new serial killer, one of the city’s vampires. Since they have marked her as a human to be killed or conquered, Tori knows that Michael is her only hope for survival. But she hasn’t spoken to him since the night she tried to kill him.
As the enforcer for the Italian vampiro cosca, Michael expects a certain amount of cooperation from his boss. That amount has been shrinking ever since their leader took a new sadist lover. So when the detective requests his help, it’s just the excuse he needs to take control of the city and the delicious human.
Risking it all, Tori agrees to let Michael take her neck and lead her on a journey through a world of bondage, domination and blood to stop the killer. But can she resist the dark lusts he sparks? Or will her weakness get someone else killed?

Reason I bought this book: I got it for a book discussion on Shelfari. Otherwise I probably wouldn’t have. The title is too obvious even for me, :-).

Review: After about 10 pages it dawned on me that this is a re-telling of "Guilty Pleasures" with sex. There are so many similarities between these two stories, it is not funny.

Tori is a tough police detective in search of a serial killer. She is acquainted with Michael, a high ranking vampire who runs the nightclub "The Fallen". She once tried to kill him, she doesn’t trust him, he’s mad about her. Sound familiar? Tori is not quite as bitchy and aggravating as Anita Blake, but she’s almost there. She’s attracted to Michael – has been from the start, – in fact the real reason she tried to kill him was jealousy -, but guilt, qualms and self-denial have kept her at bay. This is one of my pet peeves, and more than half the book Tori oscillated between sleeping with Michael and loving it and rejecting him later, because "she can’t do this". So not for me. This "I love him, but I can’t let myself do this" device is a major plot key in a lot of romance books, and I hate it every time.

The evil vampire master of the city/clan/family is the next thing. It says "Nikolaos" all over. Michael later defeating him and becoming the new master/padrone? I’m not saying any more.

The bond between Tori and Michael, that he forced on her without her knowledge in order to save her life?  The master/servant thing? Been there, done that.

Once I got over those obvious similarities the story took off into a slightly different direction since there had to be some justification for the sex. Because of  Tori not owning up up to her attraction to Michael, there obviously couldn’t be a sex scene right at the start. How to solve this? Easy! Dreaming of sex with Michael, of course. Another thing I don’t like. Later on Tori did  comply and have sex with Michael and submitted to him (something she always wanted to do and Michael knew this from the get go), but, of course, this wasn’t the end of it. Right after, there was the inevitable rejection scene. This "I like you, I like you not" game went on for an eternity until all of a sudden Tori changed her tune and decided to love Michael after all. Huh?

All over the story Italian words were scattered about. I don’t really mind this, but at least they should be understandable. The Italian word for slave is not shiavo/shiava, but schiavo/schiava. The word "inamorato" is spelled "innamorato". Innamorato means "in love", and if it can be used to address a woman as "sweetheart" at all, which I doubt very much, it would be innamorata, since we are speaking about a woman. Just small details, but those just annoyed me.

If I hadn’t read "Guilty Pleasures" I probably would have liked the story a bit better than I have. As it is I didn’t like it at all, because even the concept wasn’t new to me. If you have never read Laurell K. Hamilton and enjoy reading about women who can’t make up their minds and won’t stick to their decisions, men who know exactly how submissive women are without even knowing them and with immediate sex scenes, you might enjoy this book.


Foot note: The customer service at Ravenous Romance is far from stellar. I got this book taking advantage of a "buy one gift certificate, get one free" deal. Three days after my purchase I inquired for the second time about when I’d get the second GC. Then I finally got an answer that consisted of exactly one sentence: "I will get to them tomorrow". Hello? No form of address, no "sorry about the delay", nothing. I’m the customer here and I’d expect a bit more than a snippy phrase. Anyway, the tomorrow turned out to be the day after tomorrow. Thanks a lot for it. After redeeming it, I won’t shop there again. There are plenty of shops out there who offer excellent customer service. In that respect I highly recommend Dreamspinner Press. They answer customer emails very fast and are extremely helpful.

[rating: 1.5] Because I did finish it for the discussion’s sake it gets a rating of 1.5. Otherwise it would have gotten a rating of 1

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Weekly geeks 2009-11: Historical fiction

This weeks weekly geek:
Is there a particular era that you love reading about? Tell us about it–give us a book list, if you’d like. Include pictures or some fun facts from that time period, maybe link to a website that focuses on that time. Educate us.
Do you have a favorite book that really pulled you back in time, or perhaps gave you a special interest in that period? Include a link to a review of it on another book blog if you can find one (doesn’t have to be a Weekly Geek participant).
A member of your book group, Ashley, mentions that she almost never reads Historical Fiction because it can be so boring. It’s your turn to pick the book for next month and you feel it’s your duty to prove her wrong. What book do you pick?
If you’re in agreement with Ashley on this one (or even if you’re not): Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to browse through this week’s WG posts, and by the end of the week, pick a book from one of the posts to read. Report on which book you picked, linking to the Weekly Geeks post where you found it.

Cicero attacking Catilina

Great topic. When I read historical fiction and/or historical detective novels it is mostly set in ancient Rome. I absolutely love reading about this time. I don’t want to say that my love of Ancient Rome started with Asterix, but it was my first contact with the Romans. I think that the books that really started me to get into all things Roman were "I, Claudius" and "Claudius, the God" by Robert Graves. I read them when I was still young and absolutely loved them. I remember that we used to watch the TV series with Derek Jacobi as Claudius and the excellent John Hurt as Caligula. All the actors were brilliant, and I don’t give a toss about the fact that the show doesn’t meet nowadays’ standards of filmmaking. I still love to watch it. But back to books (not all of them are fiction).

So, "I Claudius" started it all, but there are a lot of other great books out there. Just to name a few:

Imperium by Robert Harris, a fictional biography of Cicero

Rubicon by Tom Holland, the last years of the Roman Republic

Cicero by Anthony Everett

Augustus by Anthony Everett

Another book I highly recommend is Caligula by Aloys Winterling. Is is not published yet in English, but it will be out in May according to amazon. It is a biography that shows Caligula from a different perspective and claims that his reputation as a dangerous nutcase tyrant might not be justified after all.

For a nice bit of gossip you could turn to Suetonius "The twelve Caesars". The private secretary of Hadrian, he got all his material from the imperial archives and eye witnesses (and probably hearsay).

If you are into historical detective novels, there are a few series out there that are wonderful reads. People always criticize that the heroes are way too modern and can’t possibly be children of their time, but if you don’t mind this, you’re in for entertaining hours. The ones I’m mentioning below usually take a historical incident and put a spin on it. So they might not be realistic, but they usually encourage me to find out more about that time period and that is a good thing.

The SPQR series by John Maddox Roberts is delightful, however not much as far as the detecting is concerned. Set in the time between end of the republic and during Caesar’s reign.

The Marcus Corvinus Mysteries series by David Wishart. Set during the reign of Tiberius. One of my favourite detectives. He wisecracks his way through his adventures, it’s not funny anymore (well, it is). And he loves his wine.

I can’t resist to add another film recommendation. Rome is purely fictional again, but of course with lots of historical figures thrown in. A wonderful entertaining show that I can watch again and again. And just a little side note: David Bamber, who played the deliciously slimy Mr. Collins in the BBC mini series Pride and Prejudice, plays here the somewhat opportunistic Cicero in an equally captivating fashion. Absolutely loved him.

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History locations: Nazi party rally grounds

colosseum 2We went to the playground today and close by is the area where the Nazi party held their rallies, called Reichsparteitage, from 1933 to 1938. There are lots of old photos and information available to learn a lot about that time and place. Wikipedia offers a few good articles about the Nazi party rally grounds and the rallies.

Nowadays the grounds are part of a large recreation area with several lakes, some of them poisonous (yeah, we Germans know how to party and have fun). You can see lots of inline skaters there and in summer people go there for barbecues, sit in cafés by the lake and have a good time. It is also a tourist magnet with a large (and fairly new) exhibition about National Socialism and the Third Reich. The exhibition has its home in a part of the Congress Hall, which is otherwise used for rehearsals of the Nuremberg Philharmonic Orchestra, for small pop concerts in a courtyard and for storage for various companies.

Click on the photograph to see a few more pictures.

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Intimate Beings by Jessica Inclán

Synopsis: Lately, Claire Edwards feels like she is floundering. A ho-hum teaching job, a string of terrible dates, nights spent only with Netflix and bizarre dreams of spaceships for company…life isn’t working out the way she hoped. But Claire has an extraordinary secret ability – she can go anywhere at all, just by wishing it. And if the intensely attractive man who suddenly materialises in her car one day is any indication, Claire’s not the only one…Ever since Darl James learned of his true origins, he has been searching for his partner and life mate, the one whose gift will complement and complete his own. Now that he’s found Claire, he vows to never lose her again, or their soul-searching, sensual connection. But keeping her safe won’t be easy when they’ve been marked for destruction by an evil, power-hungry race. A fierce battle is brewing, one that will test Claire and Darl’s new bond to the limit, and decide the future of all their kind…

Review: Darl found Claire very early on in the book and there was no discussion about them belonging together. Also they were separated a good deal of the book, so I suppose to call this book a romance would not be accurate. Actually, most of the book was about the goings on on Upsilia, all the Cygirians to get together and the struggle of Darl and Claire to find each other again as well. They had only a few scenes together and I found this a bit disappointing, as far as the romance factor was concerned.

My favourite couple Stephanie and Porter were there again for quite a large part of the book, and they bickered to a lesser degree this time. I think that slowly they are coming to terms with each other. How ironic that the only couple that might enjoy a break from each other (well, they wouldn’t, but Porter certainly gets on Stephanie’s nerves sometimes) never seems to get separated.

I missed Edan throughout the book. He only arrived at the end of the book and met Claire for the first time. I wonder what it is about him that has everybody in awe. We get hints of what he can do and how extraordinary he is, but so far – due to his lack of presence – we haven’t seen much of his abilities. I certainly hope that Jessica has something in store for us here. Also the search for his twin has me puzzled. EVERYBODY seems to have heard of him, and knows what he can do or at least knows of his power that could be reversed by his twin. So, why on earth doesn’t that girl show up and say, "Hey, here I am, I can make myself younger, I’m the yin to your yang." Where is she, for Christ’s sake?

Apart from all the personal circumstances, which also play a big part in the overall plot, the story developed further, which was good to see. More and more people found their way to their fellow Cygirians and finally an ally was found to help them fight the Neballats (even though that ally might not even be needed, the future will show). So, now, we’ll have to wait until later on in the year to finally get the conclusion of the story. It’s going to be a long wait.

My Review of the first book in this trilogy, "Being with him"

[rating: 4]

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Bad case of loving you by Laney Cairo

Blurb: Matthew is a medical student, trying to ignore his various roommates’ wild parties and get through his classes. Andrew is his instructor, a doctor at a prestigious British hospital. They’re not supposed to be attracted to each other, but they can’t deny their undeniable chemistry.
They come together with a heat that surprises them both, and through doctor’s strikes, dealing with Andrew’s teenaged son, and hospital red tape, Andrew and Matthew learn to live, and love together. Is their relationship just what the doctor ordered?

Review: I read a lot good reviews about this book and I was not disappointed. Andrew and Matthew were two great characters who were just right for each other. I loved the way they got together and how their relationship developed into something serious without much drama or angst. The fact that they were teacher and student, even though it was clear such a relationship was officially forbidden, didn’t bother anybody who knew about it. That might not be realistic, but I liked it anyway.

The story is told in first person, with the POV alternating in each chapter. It was never difficult to understand whose turn it was at the moment and it was nice to read what both characters were thinking.

It seemed to me that the everyday life in a hospital run by red tape and the problems of the British NHS were pictured very well. Thank God I don’t know the NHS from own experience, but I have heard some horrid stories that make even this one sound almost favourable. At times I thought all the medical terms were too much and the overuse of medical gloves (except where recommended) made the love scenes sometimes a bit sterile. I would think that if both partners were tested, as medical staff should be, unprotected sex shouldn’t be such an issue.

The relationship between Andrew and Matthew was balanced wonderfully. Andrew was the teacher, and thus automatically in a position of power. That was totally reversed in the bedroom where Matthew was the Dominant. This Dom/sub relationship was the first one I read about that was understandable to me. I never could relate to master/servant talk and have no much interest in BDSM. The power exchange here seemed natural and right.

The love scenes (quite a lot) were emotional and steamy – very enjoyable. They never felt out of place but slotted in just right. Matthew’s piercing sounded intriguing, so I had to look it up on the net. Apadravya has a long tradition as an aphrodisiac and was found with men of Borneo tribes as well as in the Kamasutra. It certainly looks interesting. Can’t say I didn’t learn anything new from this book.

The supporting characters were extremely likeable as well. I especially enjoyed F, Andrew’s friend and colleague and Henry, Andrew’s precocious son. He wasn’t nearly as much a pain in the arse as I thought he’d be. In fact, I found his statement “I live to aggravate. It’s a lifestyle choice.” very endearing.

For people who don’t like artificial drama and angst, but a solid story, loveable characters and a loving relationship, this story is perfect.

Available at Torquere Press

[rating: 5]

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Thursday 13: Oscar Wilde

Today’s Thursday 13 is all about Oscar Wilde.

Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde (16 October 1854 – 30 November 1900) was an Irish playwright, poet and author of numerous short stories and one novel. Known for his biting wit, he became one of the most successful playwrights of the late Victorian era in London. (source Wikipedia)

  1. Oscar Wilde was married to Constance Lloyd and had two sons, Cyril and Vyvyan
  2. In 1878 he went on a lecture tour throughout the United States, London and Canada to teach aesthetic values.
  3. Wilde is often associated with the aesthetic movement called "Art for Art’s Sake", which says that art is self-sufficient and does not need to have a moral, social, or political purpose.
  4. Along with his sparkling prose, Wilde is also known for his flamboyant fashion sense. He often, for example, wore green carnations in his jacket lapel.
  5. He was one of the early "celebrities". In some respects he was famous for being famous. His dress was a target for satire in the cartoons, but Wilde didn’t seem to mind. In fact he learnt the art of self-publicity and seemed to revel in it.
  6. Teleny or The Reverse of the Medal, a gay pornographic novel, has been attributed to Wilde, but was more likely a combined effort by a several of Wilde’s friends, which he may have edited.
  7. The last of Wilde’s plays, ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’, is considered by many to be the finest modern farce in the English language.
  8. He only wrote one novel, "The picture of Dorian Gray"
  9. In 1895, Oscar Wilde was convicted of ‘gross indecency’ (i.e., homosexual acts) and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment with hard labour. He was sent first to Pentonville and Wandsworth prisons in London, and then to another at Reading, in Berkshire. While there, he wrote his long poem The Ballad of Reading Gaol.
  10. After being released from jail in 1897 he adopted the name Sebastian Melmoth, went to Paris, penniless, and is said to have reunited with his friend and lover of many years, Canadian journalist Robert Baldwin "Robbie" Ross.
  11. Oscar Wilde died shortly before two o’clock in the afternoon at the Hotel d’Alsace, 13 Rue des Beaux-Arts, Paris, on November 30, 1900. The funeral took place at 9 o’clock on Monday, December 2, at St Germain des Pres and afterwards at the cemetery at Bagneux. Later he was moved to Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. His tomb in Pere Lachaise was designed by sculptor Sir Jacob Epstein, at the request of Robert Ross, who also asked for a small compartment to be made for his own ashes. Ross’s ashes were transferred to the tomb in 1950.
  12. On 20th August 1962 a voice manifested in the seance-room of British medium Leslie Flint which claimed to be that of the late Oscar Wilde.
  13. Merlin Holland, Oscar Wilde’s only grandchild is keeping the legacy alive today by studying his grandfather’s life and by publishing books about various aspects of Oscar Wilde. His only great-grand-child, Lucian Holland was born in 1979. 

 

A very short part from "The Ballad of Reading Gaol":

Yet each man kills the thing he loves
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!

 

And 13 quotes:

  • There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.
  • I don’t at all like knowing what people say of me behind my back. It makes one far too conceited.
  • It is perfectly monstrous the way people go about, nowadays, saying things against one behind one’s back that are absolutely and entirely true.
  • We are each our own devil, and we make this world our hell.
  • One should always be in love. That is the reason one should never marry.
  • Arguments are to be avoided; they are always vulgar and often convincing.
  • All bad poetry springs from genuine feeling.
  • True friends stab you in the front.
  • We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
  • They spoil every romance by trying to make it last forever.
  • Everybody who is incapable of learning has taken to teaching.
  • Only the shallow know themselves.
  • Ridicule is the tribute paid to the genius by the mediocrities.

And another interesting link: Documentary about Oscar Wilde in seven parts on you tube

Article

Winter love by Andrew Grey

Synopsis: Blayne is forced by his father to drive up to one of his properties and evict the tenant who has been living there for decades. His car getting stuck in a blizzard he arrives at the tenant’s hut in the forest to find a young man his age. Roeder, who turns out to be a satyr, and Blayne make an instant connection and spend a few days together until Blayne goes back to his father to sort out the issue and find a way around evicting his new lover.

Review: This novella was a short but lovely read. Blayne and Roeder are both good characters, that work well together. Blayne’s reaction to the revelation of his lover’s true nature is admirable. There was a short moment of confusion and uncertainty, but that was it. Very refreshing. His father turned out to be a right jerk who betrayed his whole family, but Blayne didn’t back down and sorted out everything in a speedy and efficient way. Not speedy enough for Roeder’s well-being, though. Good for both of them that there were some supporting characters, who were equally likeable, even though we only met them for a very short time.

If you like stories with uncomplicated characters, strong no-fuss feelings and a bit of a paranormal touch, this is a story for you. From what I read there is another longer book out, "Children of Bacchus", that sounds like a lot of fun as well. I’ll definitely check that one out soon.

Available at Dreamspinner Press

[rating: 4]