Friday, April 26, 2013

#FridayReads and Other #Book Updates




I Am: Busy with my full-time online editing job, a new freelance job writing catalog descriptions (clothes and shoes, mostly, for a local store with a surprisingly large online reach) and ghost-writing some short stories.



I'm sneaking in as much reading time as I can, though. Here are a few updates on what I've read, am reading or have on the horizon.



I Have Read: Hemingway's Girl by Erika Robuck. 5 stars. I was not in any way disappointed with the second half of the book. It's a permanent keeper; I put it on the shelf next to The Old Man and the Sea.


I Want to Read: Call Me Zelda by Erika Robuck. I could have ordered it for free from Amazon Vine, but I didn't. I've got to read some things before I bring in any more.





The Master by Colette Gale. My paperback arrived from Better World Books this week.


Safe Word by Molly Weatherfield. Cleis Press sent me a review copy this week.


I Really, Really Want to Read: Lover at Last by J.R. Ward. A copy (from the library) sits on the table in front of me as I type. I'm going to let my mom read it first, though. She wants to finish it before she goes on vacation, because it will come due while she and my dad are out of state.


I'm Reading: Covet by J.R. Ward. I swear I will finish this book one of these days, but I still have about 74 pages to go. Maybe over the weekend.


'The Watcher in the Shadows,' freshly arrived in its Amazon Vine envelope

I also started The Watcher in the Shadows by Chris Moriarty. It's another Amazon Vine pick, and I really enjoyed the first book in the series. I'm usually reading two different books in two different parts of the house.

I Saw: Les Miserables. I swore I wasn't going to watch this opera unless there was a director's cut with Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe singing their parts naked. But I still put it in my Netflix DVD queue; I had to see what all the fuss was about. I assumed I'd be bored, but it was actually pretty good.

Add this to the list of I Saw the Movie, Didn't Read the Book. No, I don't want to read the book. I already have a dead French guy whose brick-like tome I adore; it is Alexandre Dumas and The Count of Monte Cristo. I must say non to Mr. Hugo.



Friday, April 19, 2013

Book Club Friday: Hemingway's Girl


I'm currently halfway through reading Hemingway's Girl by Erika Robuck. I can't even wait until I finish this book to blog about it because I love, love, love this book. This is a case of "I waited forever to pick it up, but once I did I was sorry I ever waited."

The publisher's description as found on GoodReads says:

She remembered when Hemingway had planted a banyan at his house and told her its parasitic roots were like human desire. At the time she’d thought it romantic. She hadn’t understood his warning.”

"In Depression-era Key West, Mariella Bennet, the daughter of an American fisherman and a Cuban woman, knows hunger. Her struggle to support her family following her father’s death leads her to a bar and bordello, where she bets on a risky boxing match...and attracts the interest of two men: world-famous writer, Ernest Hemingway, and Gavin Murray, one of the WWI veterans who are laboring to build the Overseas Highway.

"When Mariella is hired as a maid by Hemingway’s second wife, Pauline, she enters a rarified world of lavish, celebrity-filled dinner parties and elaborate off-island excursions. As she becomes caught up in the tensions and excesses of the Hemingway household, the attentions of the larger-than-life writer become a dangerous temptation...even as the reliable Gavin Murray draws her back to what matters most. Will she cross an invisible line with the volatile Hemingway, or find a way to claim her own dreams? As a massive hurricane bears down on Key West, Mariella faces some harsh truths...and the possibility of losing everything she loves."

I've been a little obsessed with Ernest Hemingway ever since I was 18. My Novel class read A Farewell to Arms, and then we went on a class trip to Oak Park, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago). We visited a Hemingway display at the public library, Oak Park and River Forest High School (Hemingway's alma mater), and Hemingway's childhood home (where you'll find his earliest short story, "Cat," written and illustrated when he was four).  Because I'd already bonded with the deceased author in his home environment, it was that much exciting in 2004 when Tit Elingtin and I visited the Hemingway house in Key West, Florida. 

(I personally took the following two photos. They're not great photos, but they're mine.) 
Hemingway's bar. When he drank there, it was called Sloppy Joe's. There's still a Sloppy Joe's in Key West, but it's at a different location. 
Inside the master bedroom. (I don't know the person pictured; she's just another tourist.) 
I have a Hemingway bond - which is why I nearly blow a blood vessel when I watch Lost and Henry/Ben says Ernest Hemingway "fought in the Spanish Civil War." Hemingway covered the Spanish Civil War as a journalist, and before that he was wounded in the First World War, not as a combatant but as a civilian Red Cross volunteer. Ben Linus can quote John Steinbeck at will, so he should be well-versed enough in American literature to understand that distinction. 

Now, Hemingway's Girl is completely fictional. Mariella Bennet is a product of the author's imagination. Even though some names and places are based on real life, Robuck states up front that she's taken artistic license with them. No one should mistake this book for history. 

Reading Hemingway's Girl brings back a lot of pleasant memories of our vacation to Key West. The 1930s (Depression-era) tropical setting is really enjoyable, and I recognize some of the major Key West landmarks, like Mallory Square at sunset. I'm loving this book for a number of other reasons as well. For one thing, Mariella Bennet is the kind of strong, self-reliant, confident heroine you just have to love. She's wrestling with her own conscience, fighting her attraction to "Papa" and developing her attraction to the scarred World War I vet Gavin. She never loses sight of her goals, though: making sure her two little sisters are taken care of now that their father's gone and saving money to open her own charter boat business. 

Mariella is a fully developed character, with goals, flaws, weaknesses and strengths. Hemingway as a character, too, has flaws and strengths; he is neither overly romanticized nor reduced to a caricature of himself. 

Another place I really have to give Robuck credit is in the relationship between Mariella and Hemingway's wife Pauline. This could have been just another example of two female characters who have a cold, bitchy relationship characterized by rivalry - the old stereotype that women are like beta fish and you can't put two in the same fishbowl without a fight to the death. Pauline is a well-developed character with faults and strengths. We can empathize with her even though she can, at times, be jealous or condescending. Instead of setting them up as enemies, Robuck allows the women to be characters who each have their own needs and concerns, some of which are in conflict, but who also can sympathize with and help each other. I love a book that respects its female characters enough to let them be human. 


Even though I haven't finished it yet, I'd recommend giving this book a chance. I don't think I'm going to be disappointed with it, whatever Mariella decides in regard to her relationships. (We know from the prologue that, 25 or so years after the events of the main narration, Mariella has an adult son. I presume that Gavin is going to be that son's father, but I can't know for sure yet.) You never know - sometimes it's possible to love, love, love the first half of the book and then get disenchanted with later chapters (Her Fearful Symmetry, I'm looking at you).

If you read this, let me know whether you liked it or not.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Oh How Pinteresting: I Saw the Movie, Didn't Read the Book

I read a lot of books - but, honestly, not as many as I'd like to. Sometimes I skip the book and go right to the movie. Today's theme for Oh How Pinteresting! is "I Saw the Movie, Didn't Read the Book."


This was a great movie to see in 3D. I really liked the story. Did I read the book by Yann Martel? Nope.



Mom loved this book. Grandma loved this book. Did we all share it like we did Shanghai Girls or The Mermaid Chair? No, it skipped my generation.



I've never read anything by Neil Gaiman - other than stuff he posts on Tumblr, I mean.



I love this movie so much. I've even heard people say this is a rare case of the movie being better than the book. I don't know; I've never read anything Ian McEwan.



I don't read James Patterson, either. I liked this movie generally, but was somewhat disturbed by Matthew Fox in this. I was like, "No, Jack Sheppard, y u be so evil?"



I never read Jonathan Safran Foer, either. If it helps, I did read The History of Love of Nicole Krauss, the author who happens to be married to JSF.



My 9-year-old niece has devoured this series, and likes to pretend she's married to Percy, but I haven't cracked a single one of the books. (I didn't really like the movie, either.)



What did you fail to read, but enjoyed on the big screen?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

I Need Another Book Like I Need A Hole in the Head, But...

I wasn't going to buy any more books for a while. In May, the Amazon Vine program is changing; currently, you have to write reviews of 80% of the items you've ordered to get another two items, but in May it'll be 100%. That means by the third Thursday in May, I'll have to have read three books:

Hemingway's Girl by Erika Robuck - I'm currently on page 25, and I've got to say the heroine, Mariella, is pretty hard not to love.


The Difference a Day Makes (Perfect, Indiana: Book Two) by Barbara Longley, the sequel to Far From Perfect

The Watcher in the Shadows by Chris Moriarty, the sequel to The Inquisitor's Apprentice

...so I'll be busy reading these, and also Covet by J.R. Ward. This is the second time I've tried to read her non-Black Dagger Brotherhood series, and I just couldn't get into it. It's actually pretty good - the main character, Jim Heron, seems to be a building contractor but actually has secret assassin skills gained from covert military ops. He's like Mr. Reese on Person of Interest, but instead of a reclusive billionaire boss he's now working for mysterious supernatural beings. His first "number" is Vin diPietro, a real estate mogul who, against his wishes, is also a medium who gets flashes of when people are going to die. In seven books, Jim will battle the seven deadly sins, starting with attempting to save Vin from greed.

Covet will also hold me over until I get my hands on the book I really want, Ward's Lover at Last. I'm gonna need Qhuinn and Blaylock to get their HEA - finally. (Sidenote: Thanks to this vampire/goddess article on SecretSun.blogspot.com, I remembered that the bisexual vampire played by Catherine Deneuve in The Hunger was named Miriam Blaylock. Did J.R. Ward name her gay vampire character after Miriam?)

So my reading dance card was quite booked already when I read "The Smuttiest Fanfiction Stories Starring Highbrow Literary Characters" by Emily Temple. #8 on the list is Mitzi Szereto's Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts. #6 was the one that really got my attention, though:


"An Erotic Novel of the Count of Monte Cristo." Apparently it takes place after the end of the Dumas novel, and is about the Count and Mercedes - not the Count and Haydee. What happens to Haydee? I hope she doesn't make good on her statement that she'll die if the Count leaves her. I don't think it would be possible to exaggerate how badly I need to know what happens in this book - so I ordered it from Better World Books.

I read The Count of Monte Cristo in January. I desperately wanted the book to be longer. I read an abridged version, but even so, the ending left too many questions unanswered. Burning with questions, I read the modern sequel The Sultan of Monte Cristo by "Holy Ghost Writer." It was poorly written and unsatisfying for a huge number of reasons.

So please, Colette Gale, do not disappoint me.

Colette Gale sounds like a false name to me. Not just because Colette is a beautiful pen name in reference to the wonderful hell-raising 20th century French writer Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette who was known professionally only by her last name. (I learned the cooking term aspic from one of her short stories - but I digress.) Also because "Henry Gale" is the false name that Ben Linus initially gives the survivors on Lost - the name of Dorothy Gale's Kansas-bound uncle to go along with his Ozian tale of arriving on the island via hot air balloon. If the name "Colette Gale" is in tribute to both a beloved, prolific French author and the beloved, prolific U.S. author L. Frank Baum, then I expect a high quality of very imaginative and sensual work.

Oh, and as a nod to the title of this post, I now present for your amusement (I hope) "Call Me a Hole," a musical mash-up of the vocals from Nine Inch Nails' "Head Like a Hole" and the melody of Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe."

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Invisible Bridge ~ Guest Post by Meggan Watterson

The Invisible Bridge
by Meggan Watterson, author of REVEAL: A Sacred Manual For Getting Spiritually Naked

I’m going to tell you a story. You’ve heard it before. It’s really the only soul-story that has ever been told.

It starts with restlessness, a longing for more.

Or it starts with flashes of blinding light from an elusive pot of gold, streaks of an unreliable happiness dependent on something—a drug, a lover, a physical object—that reminds you of a light that’s more lasting and then fades away.

Or, it starts with a fire: a divorce or a death tears open the smallness of your life and reveals that something—a vastness—is impossibly near. And always has been. The bridge between you and that vastness is invisible yet you try everything to find it. You see this guru, you hear that imam. You travel to a shrine at the peak of some passout-high mountain with a name you can’t pronounce. You chant mantras. You have no sex. You have tantric sex. You sleep to interpret your dreams, and then you meditate with Buddhists to awaken.

You search the world to find the treasure you can sense is right here nearby, like your shadow. It is elusive and yet as ordinary and essential as the air you breathe. You go everywhere in search of this treasure, not realizing that what you are searching for is with you all the time. Finally, out of exhaustion, disillusionment, and sheer hopelessness, you stop. You end your search.

You come home.

You return to your just-okay life, to your so-so job, to your friends who sometimes love you and sometimes leave you too much alone. Then one day it dawns on you: there’s still a place you haven’t looked. You stand in the center of your shabby little studio apartment. You don’t have everything you wanted for yourself. You have maybe very little of what you had imagined for yourself at age 13 but you’re smiling anyway. For the first time in your life you see that there’s absolutely no reason, no crisis, no something you lack that could keep you from letting that smile break open your face.

Your smile is not the vastness you were searching for, but it’s a start. It’s a glimmer of the pot of gold you were restless to find, the Promised Land, the “lost” treasure—that certain immutable something that no one and nothing can disturb or take from you no matter what comes your way. It’s your own inner Shangri-La. It’s your freedom.

In any given moment, in any situation life hands you, you can stand very still in the center of yourself and know what exists within you. You have the power to access it as easily and effortlessly as taking this next breath.

This is the story that so many of us keep living out—the inexorable search to find what we can never be without and have, in fact, never lost.

A psychic once told me that I would find true love in the most unexpected place. She was right.

I did. Within.



This excerpt is taken from the book REVEAL, by Meggan Watterson.  It is published by Hay House (publication date: April 3, 2013) and available at all bookstores or online at: www.hayhouse.com.
 
About the author

Meggan Watterson is a spiritual mentor, speaker, and scholar of the Divine Feminine. She received a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School and a Master of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary (Columbia University). Meggan is the founder of REVEAL, an organization that spiritually empowers women to connect to the love within them, reclaim their bodies as sacred, and become agents of change in the world. Visit www.megganwatterson.com


Monday, April 8, 2013

Interview with Romance Author Rebecca Royce


Blurb for Rebecca's New Novel, Love in One Night:

Melanie is a woman who prepares for disasters.  If the world as she knows it were to come grinding to a disastrous halt, her Sustainable Living Community will be ready and able to take care of the people in their area. She doesn't have a man in her life anymore but she has her daughter and that's enough. 

Until a tall, dark stranger drives into her life.

Griffith is on a mission to find Melanie's ex-husband Victor, who has stolen a very expensive new drug from a pharmaceutical company.  Griffith is a man who can find what others can't.  He never backs down from a fight and he's never afraid until he sees Melanie.  She steals his breath and makes him wish for things he's never wanted before.

They are two people who can prepare for everything except the depths of their own need for each other.


Interview with Rebecca Royce:

1. The heroine of your newest novel, Love in One Night, is a prepper, a woman who has extensive plans in place in case of disasters. What got you interested in writing about the prepper movement?

Well, in this case it was because Decadent Publishing's owner Heather Bennett called and asked me if I'd be interested in writing for the line. It had never occurred to me to write about it. And I had a long line of books to write, pasted on my desktop to remind me not to fool around. But as Heather started talking about this amazing prepper line she'd thought up I knew I had to write one.

2. What, in your opinion, is the one most important quality in a leading man - in a romance novel or in real life?

Oh wow. Well, I think the one thing fictional heroes and our real life ones need to share is honor. Ultimately, whatever their deal is they have to be at their core honorable people. We have to want to root for them, and by that I mean root for them to achieve their dreams like getting the perfect job or in books to defeat the monstrous bad guy.

3. Was there any particular piece of music that inspired you while you were writing Love in One Night

No. I don't really listen to music that much when I write. It tends to be more of a background TV thing. And since Love In One Night took me a bit out of my comfort zone, I wrote in silence.

4. Which series has been your favorite to work on so far? 

Well, I just wrote The End on The Westervelt Wolves. I'm going to say that one for that reason alone. I think my favorite will always be whatever I'm able to accomplish at that point.

5. What will your next release be about?/What are you working on right now?

My next release could be one of two books. I'm just not sure which one is going to come up first. One is a horror romance. Really scary. Demons and not as the hero kind. Exorcisms. Its a quick read. And the other is a time travel vampire story that takes place in an Irish castle.

Right now, I am writing a High Fantasy Erotic Romance that is maybe the hottest I've ever written. Having a lot of fun.

6. Will Love in One Night be part of a series? 

No. Its part of the Prepper series that is multi-authored at Decadent Publishing. Many authors involved and I love all of them. Such a group of talent. But, this is, I think, a one off for me.

7. When you write a contemporary romance, do you miss writing about paranormal elements? Or do you enjoy both equally? 

Yes. I tend to move toward Paranormal. Or Science Fiction. Or Fantasy. Or Urban Fantasy. Or Other. Before I move to Contemporary. But a Contemporary story forces me to stretch and that is awesome. 

Blurb from Love in One Night:

I married him because I got pregnant.” She put her hands on her hips. “And I won’t take his money because I won’t take money from the pharmaceutical companies. No offense.”

Gee, why would I take offense when you meant to insult me?” Melanie’s face turned a lovely shade of cherry as he spoke.

Truth is, I meant to say something nasty about Victor. I forgot, momentarily, what you do and who you do it for.”

He shrugged like he words hadn’t stung a bit. The pharmaceutical companies did both good and bad things. Griffith didn’t have to feel one-hundred-percent comfortable all the time to still know he worked on the right side of the law.

Theft is theft. I give them back things they’ve lost.” He moved along the edge of the room. 
Melanie must be organized. Everything had a label, down to the box holding sponges. “And I’d bet when you get a headache, you take a Tylenol.”

I’d try magnesium and zinc, but your point is taken. I shouldn’t be generalizing. I don’t like when it’s done to me.”

Griffith had to get out of there before he did anything really asinine, like give the blushing woman a hug. He pulled out his card. “If you hear from Victor or you think of anything, give me a call. I’ll be staying in Austin overnight.”

Right.” She took his card. “I’m sorry you had to come all the way down here for nothing.”

I’m not.” Her eyes widened, and he had a moment of sheer male satisfaction. He’d been able to shock her.

You haven’t asked me why I do this. Why I’m so prepared for a disaster? You haven’t asked. Everyone does.”

I’ve been a lot of places. I think preparing for things, even if they might never occur, makes pretty good sense. I guess we all have our own reasons for why we do what we do.”

She bit down on her lower lip, chewing on it as she regarded him with narrowed eyes. “So you want to know why I married Victor but not why I formed a whole community dedicated to organic farming in the desert, self-sustaining living, and disaster preparedness?”

Melanie, if you want to tell me, I’d be really amenable to hearing.” Anything she wanted to say would be fine by him. She could read the phone book aloud, and he’d sit like a good little boy and listen to her.

Maybe I could. Over dinner tonight.”

His heart skipped a beat. Had she actually asked him out? His mouth opened and closed. When he’d gotten off the plane in Austin, he’d had no idea he’d be stepping onto a sustainable farm, a converted bomb shelter, and asked to dinner by a hot redhead. 


Rebecca Royce Bio:


As a teenager, Rebecca Royce would hide in her room to read her favorite romance novels when she was supposed to be doing her homework. She hopes, these days, that her parents think it was well worth it.
Rebecca is the mother of three adorable boys and is fortunate to be married to her best friend. They’ve just moved to Texas where Rebecca is discovering a new love for barbecue!
She's in love with science fiction, fantasy, and the paranormal and tries to use all of these elements in her writing. She's been told she's a little bloodthirsty so she hopes that when you read her work you'll enjoy the action packed ride that always ends in romance. Rebecca loves to write series because she loves to see characters develop over time and it always makes her happy to see her favorite characters make guest appearances in other books.
In Rebecca Royce's world anything is possible, anything can happen, and you should suspect that it will.

Links

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rebecca-Royce/172551376131638?sk=wall
http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3005246.Rebecca_Royce

Current and Upcoming Works

Series
The Outsiders
Love Beyond Time
Love Beyond Sanity
Love Beyond Loyalty
Love Beyond Sight

Westervelt Wolves
Her Wolf
Summer’s Wolf
Wolf Reborn
Wolf’s Valentine
Wolf’s Magic
Alpha Wolf
Angel’s Wolf
Darkest Wolf



The Warrior
Initiation
Driven
Subversive

The Conditioned
Eye Contact
Embraced

Sexy Superheroes
Screwing the Superhero
Banging the Superhero

Other Works
Behind The Scenes
First Dimension
Yes, Captain
Return to the Sea
One Night With A Wolf
Another Chance
Light Me Up
I’ll Be Mated For Christmas
The Edge stories: Unwanted Mate, Bar Mate, Mate by the Music, Out of Place Mate
Forever

Thank you, Rebecca Royce, for being my special guest today, and good luck with Love in One Night!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

SOC Sunday + Writing Update + A Review of 'The Spindlers' by Lauren Oliver

This Stream of Consciousness Sunday's theme is "Pass It On:" what have we passed down to our children and what our parents have passed down to us. Jana wrote about the fear of the dentist she passed down to her youngster. I have the dental anxiety from my own bad dental experience as a 20-year-old, but my anxiety in general is a gift of dubious value from my mom, and she got it from her mom.

I'm nervous a lot. Ask my husband - it drives him crazy. I'm always imagining worst-case scenarios, and it's hard to be happy when you're always anticipating something bad being around the corner. I haven't been happy very much lately - more like just muddling through. It may have something to do with the fact that the prescription I get for my terrible PMS (I would say full-blown PMDD) ran out a little while ago and I haven't refilled it yet. It does seem to make me a slightly happier person at all times of the month.

Right now, things that are hard to tolerate are REALLY hard to tolerate.

Which brings me to a writing update. The husband/co-writer and I are putting the finishing touches on the third book in the Pagan Spirits novel series. Back in July of 2012 (that's how long it's been since I worked on this book), we wrote a really nice romantic scene that takes place at a fairy-haunted graveyard in Scotland, where Zen and Ramesh have gone for their honeymoon.

Not the final draft of the artwork, but it gives you some idea.
We wrote it on our old laptop. Said laptop is now a dead brick. The vast majority of the novel was saved elsewhere, but that one little scene that made the honeymoon chapter so much more interesting and romantic is now just a memory.

I have to rewrite it - and I HATE having to rewrite a lost scene. I know it'll never be as good as the lost one. I have had more than my fair share of anxiety and frustration (mostly frustration!!) over that stupid missing scene. I am not looking forward to the rewrite at all. We attempted to work on it today, but our collaboration devolved into an argument. It's been set aside for a few days until we can work on it without all the high drama and heartbreak.

If you're not a writer, you might not have any idea how hard it is to get your thoughts to cooperate with the scene you intend to write, and how precious the draft is once it's been written. Writing something that reads smoothly and sounds professional is nowhere near is easy as it seems.

But, God willin' and the creek don't rise, we'll have St. James's Day (Pagan Spirits Book Three) back from the proofreader's soon and ready for a late spring debut. I may be just a little burnt out at the moment, especially with erotica and writing sex scenes. I have been doing it since 2006, after all. Maybe I should try writing a children's book for a change of pace.

Which brings us to part 3 of the blog post: a review of The Spindlers by Lauren Oliver


The SpindlersThe Spindlers by Lauren Oliver
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lauren Oliver is famous for her books for slightly older readers, particularly Delirium and Pandemonium. There are too many good YA series for me to keep up with these days, so I haven't read those, but I picked up The Spindlers because it was a stand-alone book available for free from Amazon Vine.

The back cover of my ARC compares it to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass and Coraline, but there's really only one scene near the end that really reminded me of Coraline. (For the record, I have only seen the movie of Coraline. I did not read the book.)

It's a fairly dark story, in some ways akin to the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, if that couple were a brother and sister and the sister had to go to the Underworld (here simply called Below) to rescue the brother. Like Alice, Liza is a sensible, level-headed girl who finds herself on an adventure with talking animals, strange creatures and homicidal queen. Like Alice, she finds herself equal to the challenge - even when confronted, like Harry Potter, with a 3-headed dog.

Reading this, I had neither the sense that I was reading a wholly derivative retold Greek myth nor the sense that I was reading something wholly original - it falls somewhere in the middle. It touches on the issues of trust, friendship, honesty, the value of siblinghood and how children should treat their parents, but it's not overly didactic. I probably would have enjoyed this as a bedtime story when I was a middle-grade reader.

View all my reviews on GoodReads

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Happy Caturday! Time to Let Out My Inner Crazy Cat Lady

I missed the usual Wednesday feature, Oh How Pinteresting!!!, so instead I'll link up with Caturday at A Catlike Curiosity.


I haven't read this, but I recent came across it on Pinterest, and it looks good. I wouldn't want a bluejay for a familiar, though. They are the noisiest birds of all - worse than crows.





Cats love books, of course.
















This is an affiliate link:

Think like Cat by Benedict Stewart. $1.99 from Smashwords.com
Cats are probably the most adorable creatures on this planet. At least that is what cat lovers would say, but there are times when they can get very unpredictable and you would just want to get your way into their minds to think like cat. You want to know what a cat likes and does not like and before that, you would also want to know whether you should get yourself one or not.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Book Review: The Host by Stephenie Meyer

The Host (The Host, #1)Yep, I jumped on the bandwagon. I read The Host by Stephenie Meyer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The concept behind this novel is an interesting one, but the execution falls short for a few reasons. First, there isn't enough action to justify the book's 619 pages.

Second, the best thing about the Twilight series - the way it captures the unreasoning, headlong way young people fall in love - is absent from The Host. There's a love triangle of sorts (technically it's a love quadrilateral), but during very few passages of the entire novel did I get the sense there was very much real passion or intensity of feeling on the parts of any of the alleged lovers.

To me, Ian's feelings toward Wanderer seemed the most romantic, since he loved her purely for her personality and her mind, completely divorced from her human host body. The one time I choked up at all was when Ian described holding Wanderer in her true form. Wanderer, as narrator, kept telling me that Jared loved Melanie, but I didn't really FEEL it.





Third, since the novel failed to be particularly romantic, I hoped it would at least be really interesting science fiction - but it isn't. This is related to point one - numerous scenes of waiting and deliberating rather than scenes of action - but apart from that, Meyer saves the best off-planet alien action (the claw beast story) for the last fifth of the novel. There isn't enough science to qualify this as true science fiction; instead it comes off as second-rate scifi.

One thing I did like about the writing was Meyer's description of Wanderer's willingness to give up her life to be a mother to new souls. I must have seen or read some interview with Meyer in which she described herself as a mother first (she has three sons) and a writer second. I'm a writer first and a mother never, and even though her experience is different than mine, I really admire and enjoy the way Meyer's books show the beauty and value of motherhood - or at least of parenthood, because even though Wanderer considers herself a female soul, her species seems to reproduce asexually. At least, it wasn't clear that she was going to need a male soul's DNA to split herself into many smaller souls.

The point is, Wanderer was willing to die so that the next generation could be born. Her entire personality is peaceful, cooperative, and empathetic, and it's completely in character for her to be willing to make the ultimate self-sacrifice so that life could continue. That's what good parents do, isn't it? They don't have to literally die - usually, hopefully - but they do have to sacrifice some of the things that they like and want to invest enough time and attention into their young ones. If you choose to be a parent, you're making a very admirable sacrifice.

I really did like Wanderer as a character, and the personality contrast between Wanderer and Melanie.

Overall, this novel was worth exactly one read, but I have nowhere near the attachment to it that I have to the Twilight series.

View all my reviews


Previous Stephenie Meyer posts

Book Review: The Gospel According to Twilight by Elaine Heath

The Silver Kiss by Annette Curtis Klause v. Twilight

The Ultimate Twilight Fan LinkUp Post

Twilight of the Goddesses - comparison of the women in Twilight to classical Greek goddesses

The Best Parts of Breaking Dawn Pt. 1

BD Pt. 2 Countdown - Twilight
BD Pt. 2 Countdown - New Moon
BD Pt. 2 Countdown - Eclipse
BD Pt. 2 Countdown - Breaking Dawn Pt. 1

Is St. Marcus Day Real?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Interview with Molly Weatherfield and Review of 'Carrie's Story'

An Interview with Molly Weatherfield


Erin O'Riordan: What's your best memory of working at the Modern Times Bookstore Collective?

Molly Weatherfield: Reading my way through the bookshelves was a great education in the tradition of critical, leftwing thought. And at our evening author events I listened to ideas fighting it out, particularly around feminism and sexuality. Which was ultimately the set of controversies that goaded me toward Carrie's Story. Thinking my way through all this was how I learned to be faithful to both my politics AND my kinky fantasy life. It was, in fact, during a presentation by Gayle Rubin, thoughtful and original chronicler of the South of Market leather scene, that I started thinking seriously about these issues.

Erin: How did you feel about your company on Playboy's 25 Sexiest Novels Ever Written List - any favorites there?

Molly: I'm still knocked out by being there. Next to Lolita, my god! -- even if you and I and everybody else really knows that Lolita at all a dirty book in the sense that Carrie's Story is. Lolita is great, special, enduringly brilliant, very dark and comic, and much more about the insanity of romantic passion than it is about sex. But it's such a favorite novel of mine that even if I don't actually accept the logic that put Carrie's Story on a list next to Lolita, I'll gladly take it.

I'm also delighted (in a snarky way) to be on the same list as Norman Mailer's An American Dream because it was during reading Norman Mailer as a very young person that I started to wonder whether, if you wrote sex through a female voice and female sensibility, you might get something new, interesting, and uninsulting. 
Erin: What is the biggest difference between writing contemporary erotica and writing a historical romance novel?

Molly: I don't like creating fictional BDSM relationships in books set during historical periods when slavery actually existed and women's lives were subjugated and circumscribed. In a contemporary setting, I'm able to give my intrepid heroine a clearcut consensual fantasy relationship to erotic domination and submission: Carrie can always end a relationship, or even a contract, if she chooses to. But until she chooses to she and I can go to the far reaches of our imaginations.

Whereas in historical romance, I'm more careful to find ways for my heroine to protect herself from her second-class citizenship and for my heroes to respect the heroine's autonomy as well. Which almost always (to be accurate at all) means marriage or at least monogamy. But the silver lining, of course, is the wealth of period costume and furniture and fetishistic props you can set your scenes within. Delicious!

Erin: Why do you think Carrie's Story has retained its appeal after almost 20 years and 16 editions?
Molly: Isn't that amazing? Especially because I don't live a very kinky lifestyle... well, a little play, but, really, I'm not part of a scene or anything.

It's really made me wonder, and to listen to what my amazingly smart readers have told me about their experiences reading my books. And what I've kind of come to understand is that by following my imagination as far as it would take me, I tuned in to a kind of pervasive mood, a set of rhythms, a trade-off between mind and body that seems to be something a lot of BDSM actors and fantasists share. We like to play with the boundaries of our autonomy and individuality, and we're very insistent that this includes our critical intelligences, and very serious about what happens when we're in control and what happens when we let go. That's why all the elaborate rules and rituals, I think, to enact those complexities, and bring us to those borders and boundaries. And that's also why I spent so much time trying to get right words and prose rhythms in order to represent the tension between the action, the scenarios, and Carrie's internal dialogues. (And Jonathan's too, in 
Safe Word.)

But what I also tuned into, I think -- what has always fascinated me -- is the humorous aspect to it. The way that consciousness makes all the elaboration just a little silly. The way the details and costumes and props are so irresistible and yet so stagy, so predictable. And I think that people enjoy that insight, and the opportunity to laugh at their secret, passions and obsessions.


Read more about Molly on her website: http://pamrosenthal.com/molly/index.htm

Buy the book here: http://www.cleispress.com/book_page.php?book_id=514

Erin O'Riordan's review

Let me begin by saying that erotica with a female submissive as the protagonist is not my favorite subgenre of erotica. I personally do not fantasize about being submissive, so it's a bit hard for me to relate to a fem dom main character. I don't particularly like brussels sprouts, either, but I understand that other people enjoy them, and I don't judge other people for wanting to eat them.

I wanted to read Carrie's Story because 1) it's an erotica classic that's been consistently popular since it was published in the '90s, 2) it was written by a sex-positive feminist, 3) I have, in the past, enjoyed erotica depicting pony play, and 4) it had to be better than Fifty Shades of Grey (which, for the record, I did not think was without merit).

I couldn't quite put myself in Carrie's mindset, nor could I conjure much attraction to the male protagonist, Jonathan. Carrie calls their first meeting at a party "meet cute;" I would have called it, "Why does this jerk think he knows me?" But that's okay, because the novel was still well-written and Carrie was quite likable. Who doesn't love an intelligent heroine who knows what she wants and gets it?

My favorite thing about Carrie is how well she knows who she is and what she wants. Interested in dominance and submission since she began exploring her sexuality as a teen, she's well-read in classics like The Story of O (to which Carrie's Story is sometimes compared) as well as in mainstream literature like Thomas Pynchon and the occasional pop culture novel. I admire her intelligence and self-reflection even if I don't share all of her desires.

One of my favorite scenes was Carrie's date with sweet, vanilla handyman Kevin. She tried her hand at being the dominant one in the relationship, but Kevin just didn't quite get it. My preference would have been for more Kevin and less Jonathan, but Carrie wants exactly the opposite.

I did like the pony play. I wouldn't want to be the pony; personally I think the role I'd prefer to play in neither dom nor sub, but the paid servants. The servants get some of the benefits without having to make quite so much of a commitment to the scene. From the pony farm, Carrie is sent off to auction. The novel ends with Carrie going to greet her new master, a story that continues in Molly Weatherfield's book Safe Word.

I'll be reading it, because I like Carrie, I like Molly Weatherfield's writing style and the sex scenes are a delicate balance of sensual and realistic (every encounter is not purely blissful; Carrie has good and not-so-good experiences - I prefer some realism in my fantasies), and never some corny caricature of BDSM sex.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

'Carrie's Story' by Molly Weatherfield: Excerpt and Blog Tour Schedule

I want you to see how your photographs turned out,” she said, and handed me two prints. Then she sat behind me on the couch, her legs straddling me, her hands on my breasts, her breasts touching my shoulders. “Do you like them?” she asked close to my ear. “Tell the truth, slave.”

I figured I’d better. “No, Mistress,” I said.

She squeezed my breasts painfully, “And why not?”

The pictures were very careful, very documentary jobs. She had been right the other day; Paul did good work. The light was harsh; the general effect was of truth-telling. Something about the marks on my ass, the shadows under my eyes, the pallor of my skin. Nobody was being flattered, the pictures said, but this was itself a form of flattery. And if the viewers were not being flattered, they were certainly being asked to participate, if only imaginatively.

Here,” the pictures seemed to say, “this is for you, if you want it. She will receive whatever you care to give: caresses, thrusts of your hand or cock, blows. It’s up to you. Interested?”

I was scared to see how I had posed for the pictures. In the front view, I thrust my pelvis out a little, as though I were offering guests something to eat. I looked shocked and a little outraged, but I held the pose anyway. Even in the back view, smarting and still sobbing from a beating, I held myself up. I was surprised at how firmly my feet were planted on the floor. I had remembered dangling from my suspended wrists, but in fact the pose was much more provocative. I couldn’t deny it; without even realizing it, I had complied with Paul and Margot. I was showing off the bruises. I was displaying myself for buyers. I looked proud to be able to receive pain. I was showing myself to whomever and whatever, to strangers, who could do anything they wanted to me; I was offering myself to the highest bidder.

Why not, slave?” she asked again, this time twisting my nipples and making me gasp.

They frighten me, Mistress,” I temporized. I knew she’d insist on hearing me more. “I…I look willing to be hurt,” I mumbled.

And?” she insisted.

I look available to everybody,” I said sadly. “And proud of it.”

These are wonderful pictures,” she said, moving one of her hands in slow circles down to my belly. “Right now, in various expensive hotels and pieds-à-terre in this city, there are dozens of people looking at these pictures. They are considering whether they would like to fuck you, whether they would like to hurt you, whether you could be led and trained and forced to become what they want. You look like…new red wine. Beaujolais Nouveau. The depth is still developing, but the sweetness caresses the tongue and touches the heart. Not everyone wants it, but it is a unique pleasure.”

Her hand had reached the opening of my vagina. Her fingers were slowly searching their way around. I wanted to drop the pictures, but I was afraid to. I just kept staring at myself and feeling her. She’d reached my clitoris. She was in no hurry. I heard myself moaning. I dropped the pictures and leaned into her leather-clad thighs, her bare breasts, her hair, her mouth on my neck.

And then she stopped.

Lithely, she swung a leg over me and stood up. She turned to face me.

I would whip you right now if I could,” she said. “I’d love to see you trembling and weeping under me. But I can’t. We’ll manage, though.”

She went to a drawer and pulled out some black leather, and something else. A harness for me? No, a harness for her, I realized hazily, as I watched her fit the big dildo into place. It was a heavy clear plastic—virtual phallus, I couldn’t help thinking. She pulled some zippers on her leather pants, and they fell away from her lean belly, though they stayed around her legs like a second skin. And then she quickly strapped on the harness while I looked at her in awe. Bright skin against black leather, shiny transparent up-curving member, insolent smile, clouded, intense eyes.

I was still kneeling in front of the couch. She nudged the dildo into my mouth, deep, deep, deep, and then she pulled out and pulled me to my feet. She lay down on the couch and pulled me into a straddle on top of her, the dildo deep in my cunt, making me groan as I raised and lowered myself on her. Her fingernails played with my nipples. She moved her hips subtly, suavely. Her hands were on my ass now, squeezing my flesh and moving me with her. And I followed her blindly, seeing her face through a haze of pleasure, the hard dildo probing deep inside me, my groans louder and louder, cresting to a howling orgasm.




She didn’t let me recover very long. Quickly, she pushed me off her and forced me down to my hands and knees. She took off the harness and pulled my mouth down on her. I licked, I sucked, I nibbled. I wanted to do everything she might possibly want. I wanted to hear her cry out. I succeeded. She took her hands off my head and stroked my back, my ass. I lay with my head in her lap.

I heard a low laugh. She raised my head and kissed me a long time on the lips. I held her tightly.

Do you think,” I murmured, “that I’ll ever see you again, after tomorrow?”

She nibbled at my neck a little more before she answered.

Well,” she said, “I do have some influence. I don’t use it much, but I suppose that makes it more valuable. So if what I think is going to happen happens…well, yes, maybe you will see me again. But only after you’ve been worked so rigorously that you will have almost forgotten me.” I looked at her imploringly.
No,” she said, “I’m not telling you a word more.”

I sighed, though of course I wasn’t surprised.

But I won’t forget you,” I said, kissing her hand.

You won’t forget me, what?” she asked sternly.

I won’t forget you, Mistress,” I said meekly, dropping my eyes. End of idyll.

I didn’t want to move, but she got up and started searching around for her shirt. When she’d gotten it sloppily buttoned up, she walked to her desk and found my bracelet. I was still on my knees in front of the couch, my head resting on my arms, but I turned and straightened into a position of attention, raising my arm passively to let her buckle on the bracelet.

Get up,” she said, and when I did she led me to the door.

If you’ve forgotten how to get back to your room,” she said, “the Argus will help you, of course.”

Of course. And just then, as she opened the door, the bracelet prickled.

You’re going to be very tired tomorrow morning,” she said, pushing me gently into the hall. “All the other slaves have had their regular tofu dinners and special baths and massages. Except, of course, for that crazy boy with the ponytail, who’s probably still down in the kitchen, servicing every woman who works there.” She chuckled and kissed me on the forehead. I was too tired and satiated to be anything but amused as well.

Sleep well, Carrie,” she said, and closed her door. As I waved my bracelet over the Argus, trying my groggy, confused best to make sense of the diagram that appeared on the screen, I heard the keys at her keyboard clicking fiercely away. 

* * *

Carrie's Story is regarded as one of the finest erotic novels ever written—smart, devastatingly sexy, and, at times, shocking. In this new era of "BDSM romance," à la Fifty Shades of Grey, the whips and cuffs are out of the closet and "château porn" has given way to mommy porn. Carrie's Story remains at the head of the class. Imagine The Story of O starring a Berkeley Ph.D. in comparative literature who moonlights as a bike messenger, has a penchant for irony, and loves self-analysis as much as anal pleasures. Set in both San Francisco and the more château-friendly Napa Valley, Weatherfield's deliciously decadent novel takes you on a sexually-explicit journey into a netherworld of slave auctions, training regimes, and enticing "ponies" (people) preening for dressage competitions. Desire runs rampant in this story of uncompromising mastery and irrevocable submission. 

Molly Weatherfield, the pen name of Pam Rosenthal, is also the author of Safe Word, the sequel to Carrie's Story. A prolific romance and erotica writer, she has penned many sexy, literate, historical novels. She lives in San Francisco.

You can find Molly on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MollyWeatherfield and on Twitter at @PamRosenthal (https://twitter.com/PamRosenthal).

Blog Tour Schedule
March 24 - Shanna Germain 
March 25 - Lelaine
March 26 - Alison Tyler
March 27 - Romance After Dark
March 28 - Romance Junkies and Amos Lassen
March 29 - Sinclair Sexsmith
April 2 - Kissin Blue Karen
April 3 - Dana Wright
April 4 - Erin O'Riodan
April 5 - Lindsay Avalon
April 6 - Laura Antoniou
April 7 - DL King