Friday, May 31, 2013

Book Club Friday: Reading 'In the Body of the World' (Memoir) by Eve Ensler

This Friday I'm reading In the Body of the World, the memoir by Eve Ensler, the activist and writer best known for The Vagina Monologues. I got an ARC of this book free from the Amazon Vine program - free book in exchange for my own honest opinion in a review. I'm about 80 pages into it right now, and it's about 217 pages long.

The Blurb From GoodReadsFrom the bestselling author of The Vagina Monologues and one of Newsweek’s150 Women Who Changed the World, a visionary memoir of separation and connection—to the body, the self, and the world.

Playwright, author, and activist Eve Ensler has devoted her life to the female body—how to talk about it, how to protect and value it. Yet she spent much of her life disassociated from her own body—a disconnection brought on by her father’s sexual abuse and her mother’s remoteness. “Because I did not, could not inhabit my body or the Earth,” she writes, “I could not feel or know their pain.”

But Ensler is shocked out of her distance. While working in the Congo, she is shattered to encounter the horrific rape and violence inflicted on the women there. Soon after, she is diagnosed with uterine cancer, and through months of harrowing treatment, she is forced to become first and foremost a body—pricked, punctured, cut, scanned. It is then that all distance is erased. As she connects her own illness to the devastation of the earth, her life force to the resilience of humanity, she is finally, fully—and gratefully—joined to the body of the world.

Unflinching, generous, and inspiring, Ensler calls on us all to embody our connection to and responsibility for the world.

I said this wasn't going to be an easy memoir to read, but it's not just a litany of true horror stories. Ensler is first and foremost a survivor, and you don't get to be a survivor unless you're able to rise above the worst you've been through with some resilience and good humor. There's some tough stuff in the Monologues, too, but at the same time, it's very funny and real, and you come away not with the sense that the world is hopeless and all is lost, but that the secret to existing as a human on this planet is, and always has been, embedded in the female spirit.

That's what makes this book not only bearable to read, but actually enjoyable. It's not that you're enjoying cancer, abuse and torture, it's that you're enjoying the ability of women to survive, thrive, and look toward the future with hope.

The title, I think, refers to the fact that we all have to live within one finite, very limited, fragile human body, yet that one body has the ability and the power to make an enormous impact on the world. She's constantly linking events in her own life and in her own body with events on a global scale. The infection raging through her body reminds her of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill as she's watching the tragedy unfold on TV. These are some of the most powerful passages. This was the one that really got me:

"Afterward I meet with my oncology team, who seem utterly distracted....They send me to another distracted, testy, arrogant doctor dude who makes me feel that my questions are childish and wasting his time....

"Then he says the mantra of the end of the world. 'WE LIKE TO THROW EVERYTHING AT IT. That's all we know how to do.' And I say, 'The only problem is that IT is attached to ME.' And I swear, he doesn't flinch. Me is irrelevant. Me is personal and specific. Me is what has to be passed through to get where he is going. Me is what can be sacrificed to get better information. And I suddenly know what the bride in Pakistan felt when the drones bombed her wedding and her fiance splintered into pieces and her mother was only fragments of a dress. They were throwing everything at al-Qaeda. And I suddenly love my infection and my protective scar tissue, which are saving me from everything they want to throw at me."

That made me angry. That made me think, "How dare you!" How does anyone, ever, dare think it might be okay to drop a bomb on someone's wedding?!? Why might you think it would be okay to kill people by remote control at all? How could compassionate people who supposedly care about something other than themselves - including President Obama - not ban drones for anything other than surveillance? Why haven't the American people protested against this disgusting practice until drone strikes were banned? Because look at who the bad guys is here - it's not those awful Congolese militia members who are torturing the women - it's Americans (and Canadians and the British, to a much lesser extent). It's US.

Which I'm sure is the point of this book. It's supposed to make us upset, but in a constructive way. It's supposed to take that classic second wave feminist expression, "The personal is political," and flip it inside out to where we'll see that the political is also personal.

I still contend that everyone should either read or see a performance of The Vagina Monologues. I don't know yet if I could make the same endorsement of In the Body of the World, but I still think a lot of people will derive a lot of value from reading it.

Have you read this? What did you think?

(I am an Amazon affiliate, and if you buy this book or anything through this link, I earn a small percentage.)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Oh How Pinteresting! 'Cloud Atlas' and the Masterpiece Classic 'Wuthering Heights'

Look what came in the mail today! I know this isn't going to be an easy book to read, but I suspect it's going to be a worthwhile read.

On Monday I watched Cloud Atlas. I didn't read David Mitchell's novel, and maybe that's why I was so utterly baffled and confused by this movie. Someone please tell me - is it so brilliant it went over my head, or is it just a hot muddled mess of characters in six different timelines?

...and when the characters start speaking in dialect that's supposed to be a futuristic descendant of English? Even subtitles wouldn't have helped. You need a new dictionary to get this movie.

This is one of Hugh Grant's characters in it.

He kinda looks like Rick Genest (that Canadian model who appears in "Born This Way" with Lady Gaga). But this is the part that's really going to stick with me: the Frobisher-Sixsmith feels.

I mean, it would kill Hollywood to make one big-budget movie with a gay couple that gets a happy ending?!? Hollywood, I will give you good American money to see a gay rom com that ends with the happy couple cheerfully eating strawberries off each other. I don't want the young LGBTQIA thinking their love lives have to turn out like A Single Man, Brokeback Mountain and Boys Don't Cry because that's all they see in the media. You're sending mixed messages when you say "It gets better," but in every single movie it gets worse.

Okay, ranty thing done. I also saw this movie. Wuthering Heights is one of my top 5 favorite books ever, but I'd never seen the Masterpiece Classic version until last Friday.

At first I was like, "Tom Hardy as Heathcliff? Ew. No." Then I started watching it, and I was like, "I wish he'd stop using that stupid Bane voice." To be fair, the Bane voice pops up a few times, but he sounds normal through most of it. He's not OMG-great, but he's not terrible, either.

I liked this adaptation. I don't think I ever appreciated Edgar Linton as much as I did when he was played by Andrew Lincoln. I still kinda blows my mind that he's actually English and not U.S. Southern.

Ralph Fiennes remains my favorite movie Heathcliff.

But now I can't stop watching the Bad Lip Reading take on The Walking Dead.

I read this last week. Obnoxiously, I have volumes 1, 2, 4 and 6. I'll have to see if the library can fill in the gaps, because $15 a piece (at Barnes and Noble) is a lot to pay for a graphic novel series of which there are at least 17 volumes.

The Complete First Season: 3-Disc Special Edition

Monday, May 27, 2013

#BookReview 'Master: An Erotic Novel of the Count of Monte Cristo' by Colette Gale

Nobody stands in between me and my dead French man, 'cause it's me and Mr. Alexandre Dumas pere. If I may briefly recap my history with Dumas' classic The Count of Monte Cristo:

1) I saw the Jim Caviezel movie, loved it, read a summary of the book on Wikipedia and decided I would not like to read it.

2) I got The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss from Amazon Vine. I read it, loved it, and decided I would read the Dumas novel.

3) I read The Count of Monte Cristo (an abridged version, unfortunately) in January 2013 and thought it was awesome. Afterward, I had withdrawals.

4) In the midst of my withdrawals, I read The Sultan of Monte Cristo, which I found quite disappointing.

5) I found out about Colette Gale's Master: An Erotic Novel of the Count of Monte Cristo.

Readers, I'm happy to announce that Master met all of my expectations. I was extremely pleased with this retelling of the the Dumas novel, largely from the point of view of Mercedes. This novel does some things that I really appreciate, including:

1) It gives Haydee, a character I like, a happy ending with someone other than the Count. In Gale's telling, Haydee is in the love with Ali, the Nubian man whose life the Count saved, and who therefore put himself in servitude to the Count for ten years to repay the debt. I should have seen it before - Haydee and Ali are a perfect couple! She's a Greek princess of the Ottoman Empire, and he's a Nubian prince. She's also a virgin, and Ali is too honorable to take her virginity. She engages in a relentless seduction campaign.

Near the beginning, Haydee does attempt to seduce The Count, but he clearly has very little interest in her. He's too rattled by all his feelings when he sees Mercedes again.

2) It gives us some moments of stolen passion between Max and Valentine. There are a couple of nice scenes in which they meet, can only speak and touch through the small holes in her father's garden wall, and have to conduct their secret romance through the iron fence Pyramus and Thisby-style.

3) Like the movie, it allows Mercedes and the Count/Edmond the possibility of living together happily ever after. Assuredly, there are many angsty moments along the way. By the final chapter, however, they've come to forgive each other for everything that's happened since Edmond's unjust imprisonment. The implication is that they'll be permanently reunited in Marseilles, in the little cottage Mercedes inherited from her father.

The best erotic scenes in this book are the ones in which the reader can feel the love. One of the least sexy erotic scenes is the sort of threesome involving the Count, Mercedes and Fernand. Nobody loves Fernand, not even when he is portrayed by the lovely Guy Pearce, because he's a slimy, evil bastard. In this retelling, Gale follows a traditional romance novel convention you can read about in Beyond Heaving Bosoms: that gay male character = evil character. Fernard, although wanting Mercedes is part of his motivation for betraying Edmond Dantes, prefers men.

We do not love this convention, obvs. But in Gale's defense, Fernand Mondego Comte de Morcerf is evil gay, straight or bi.

It also feeds into another convention: that if your heroine is married to someone other than your hero, you must go out of your way to assure the reader that the marriage is loveless and, for the most part, sexless. You want all the true love and mind-blowing sex to be between your hero and heroine. (Just because we know these are the conventions, this doesn't mean we don't enjoy the romantic ones.)

Just ignore the small mistake in this video I made, in which I refer to Colette Gale as "Colleen."

When I first heard of the name "Colette Gale," I assumed it was a pseudonym, an homage to the French writer Colette and to beloved fictional character Dorothy Gale. I was at least partially right. Colette Gale, I learned from someone on Goodreads, is a pen name for NYT bestselling author Colleen Gleason, who also writes under the pen name Joss Ware.

Disclosure: I purchased this book with my own money from Better World Books. My review is completely voluntary, not influenced by any person or organization, and represents my own opinion.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

New in Paperback: 'The Erotica Anthology' by Erin O'Riordan and Tit Elingtin

My first boyfriend, Shane, asked to borrow my car one weekend.  He didn’t tell me where he was going.  I knew right away that this wasn’t a good idea.  I realized over the next week or so that Shane wasn’t a good idea.  I broke up with him.
This levelheadedness when it came to the opposite sex has served me well.  My second boyfriend, Phil, kept eyeballing my sister Francis.  I gave him the boot.  Phil was followed by Victor.  Victor had a good run, but I also knew that the end would come sooner or later.  When he left, I was sad, but not devastated. 
After Victor came Steve.  Steve stole my ATM card one weekend.  I testified against him.  He’s now serving six years on a similar charge.
I, Liv Stenke, am not a foolish woman.  I’m not given to falling so madly in love with a man that I can’t see his flaws.  At the age of twenty-eight, I was determined that no matter how fine a man’s body, no matter how earth-shattering the sex, I wouldn’t lose my head. 
    This was before I’d heard of Dante Sugar.
    The first time I heard the name Dante Sugar, I was at the county records building on business.  I was in the ladies’ room, freshening my rock-candy-pink lipstick in the gold-rimmed mirror over the speckled marble sink.  Two women who worked in the county assessor’s office sat in adjoining stalls, apparently not realizing that I was there.
“Guess who was at the concert in the park last night?” the first said.  “Dante Sugar.”
I wasn’t even sure she’d heard her right.  Dante, as in the thirteenth-century Italian poet?  Sugar, as in the stuff you sprinkle on your grapefruit in the morning?  What kind of name was that?
The second broke out in a lascivious guffaw.  “Oh my God,” she said.
The first woman chortled.  “What’s so sweet about Dante Sugar, anyway?”
“Oh my God,” said the second woman, apparently of limited vocabulary.  “How about his sweet little ass?  Or that sweet little sports car he drives around in?  You’ve got to be kidding me.  How could you look at Dante Sugar and not just want to ride him until you break it off?  How can you even hear his name and not fall totally in love with him?”
“I heard his name,” I said.  That shut the women up quickly.  “And I’m not totally in love with him.  As a matter of fact, this Dante Sugar sounds like an arrogant prick.”
           The name was stuck in my head, though.  

Thus begins "Herbert," the first story in The Erotica Anthology by Erin O'Riordan (your humble blogger here) and her husband, Tit Elingtin.

Naked Honesty TimeI gave this book the wrong title. I consider myself fairly literate and well-read, but no one ever told me that “anthology” meant “collection of multiple authors’ works” until AFTER I published this collection at The original title remains, even though this isn’t technically an anthology at all. It’s simply a collection of some of my works.
Book BlurbErin O'Riordan has contributed smart, honest short stories, articles and film reviews to Playgirl, Hustler Fantasies, and quality webzines including Clean Sheets, The Erotic Woman, and Oysters & Chocolate. This collection showcases some of the short stories, along with an excerpt of her full length novel, Beltane (Pagan Spirits Book One), from Eternal Press.

The Stories 

Herbert:  Exclusive to this anthology, a dark and sexy faery tale
Beltane: The original short story of Pagan magic that launched the Pagan Spirits erotic romance series
Anatomy Lesson: An erotic tribute to Our Bodies, Ourselves
900: Gender-bendy tale in which a bisexual woman has a phone sex encounter with a gay-for-pay man
Innocent: Zach meets his virgin bride-to-be for the first time and finds out she isn't so innocent after all
Going With the Flow: The one that was published in Playgirl: a kayak ride with a happy ending

New to this edition of the "anthology:"

Cinnamon Honey Bear: Submissive husband, mild bondage, kitchen stuffs used in bedroom 
Tile Job: Girl only
Experimental: American Tori is a scientist; Welshman Quill is her experimental subject

Get It Now For Only $9.99

Other Editions: We published this first at CafePress, and you can still get that print version - but it COSTS MORE and has FEWER STORIES. You can also get the shorter version as an e-book from Smashwords for $.99.

Get the print one from CreateSpace. It's good. You'll like it.

Naked Honesty Time, Pt. 2: I need to sell a lot of books, more than I've ever sold before. As my husband stated on his blog the other day (May 23), he wants to avoid going on disability for his kidney disease. You might see us standing on a street corner with a sign that says, "Buy my books." This is my virtual sign. Buy our books!

Beltane (erotic romance novel)
Midsummer Night (erotic romance novel, book 2)
Eminent Domain (crime thriller)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Oh How Pinteresting: The Best of My "Vampires" Pinterest Board

After reading Lover At Last and Dead Ever After, I'm ready for Season 6 of True Blood and very much in a vampire mood. Please enjoy the best of my pin board "Vampires."

This is an affiliate link:

The First Bite Is the Deepest by Elisa Catrina. $2.99 from “Funny and clever and emotionally hard-hitting” "A perfectly creepy read." Elisa Catrina's debut novel begins as a quirky send-up of vampire romance, but quickly turns sinister. High schooler Stella Ortiz starts dating the mysterious new guy, but her friends are convinced he's bad news: Sebastian misses tons of school, he day-drinks something that smells like pennies, and oh yeah, he's a vampire.

Monday, May 20, 2013

#BookReview: 'Dead Ever After' by Charlaine Harris (spoilers)

Thank you, Charlaine Harris, for the years of enjoyment your Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire Mysteries has given me. I absolutely adore this series, a wild 13-part paranormal ride. Dead Until Dark was one of the books that first drew me into the paranormal romance genre, even though it isn't strictly speaking a romance series.

I got this book at the library. 
I've always wanted it to be that, though. I wanted a continuous romantic arc from the first book through the last, with Bill and Sookie rediscovering and rekindling their love for one another. I imagined that ending the series without Bill and Sookie being together would be like ending the Twilight Saga with Bella running off with Mike.

(I've never liked book-Eric.)

However, Harris had a different story arc in mind, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I truly enjoyed reading how it played out. At the moment when Sam and Sookie discovered their mutual attraction, I was rooting for them. I was satisfied with the ending, despite any preconceived notions I had before I started reading.

It was a pleasure to read about consummate ladies' man Jason Stackhouse finally settling down and getting married. It was deeply satisfying that some long-term villains finally got their comeuppance. The book doesn't break any new thematic ground for this series, and in this case that was a comfort, since Harris was wrapping the series up. As usual, there's a murder, and Sookie's life is in almost-constant danger. As usual, she gets horribly injured.

Southern Vampire Mysteries Gifts at Cafe Press

As usual, she does the thing that makes her annoying as a narrator: gets jealous of and/or slut-shames any other female character who crosses her radar. To my everlasting shame, I didn't take much notice of this until I read ACrackedMoon's "Meet Charlaine Harris: Racist, Misogynist, Talentless." I don't agree with everything in that post, and I certainly wouldn't call Harris "talentless," but once Sookie's slut-shaming tendencies have been seen, they can't be unseen.

Sookie isn't a perfect character, and she remains a magnet for paranormal troubles of all kinds (and often a damsel in distress), but after 13 books and now knowing her full story, I'm glad I stuck with Sookie. I don't ask for perfection. I ask for a good story, well told. Charlaine Harris delivered.

I'm really going to miss this series. I'd like to know if Sookie and Sam ever get married, or if they decide to just be friends with benefits. I'd like to know if Bill ever finds someone, and if Eric really spends the next 200 years with Freyda. I'm sure Pam has many fascinating adventures as the new sheriff of Area 5 - and we never really got to see Karin in action.

Fortunately, we still have at least one more season of True Blood to look forward to. I won't lie - I'm hoping for a lot of exploration of the budding Pam-Tara romance.

Follow on Bloglovin

Sunday, May 19, 2013

New Essays From Peg Tittle: 'No End to Shit That Pisses Me Off'

War rape, profit, baby androids, tax exemptions for churches, make-up, having kids, assisted suicide, abortion, grades inflation, littering, business ethics…

Canadian popular philosopher Peg Tittle is back with a fourth volume in her thought-provoking series of rhetorical questions and answers. Volume three, Still More Shit That Pisses Me Off, tackled pregnant men, paying stay-at-home moms, advertising, income tax deductions, people skills, boy books, speech codes, porn, god, testicular battery and tranquilizer guns, the Academy Awards, intelligent design and evolution.

You may have read Tittle's essay "What's Wrong With Mr. and Ms.?" here at Pagan Spirits. In it, she addressed the issues associated with using gendered language as part of a person's formal address of title, which is essentially part of person's name. This essay appears in Tittle's original book Shit That Pisses Me Off. You can also read about her second book here

"Philosophy with an attitude. Because the unexamined life is dangerous."

Available for $1.99 in various e-formats:

She has written Critical Thinking: An Appeal to Reason (Routledge, 2011), What If…Collected Thought Experiments in Philosophy (Longman, 2005), ShouldParents be Licensed? Debating the Issues (Prometheus, 2004), Ethical Issues in Business: Inquiries, Cases, and Readings (Broadview, 2000). She also contributed the Ethics unit to the high school philosophy text, Philosophy: Questions and Theories (McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 2003). Her papers have appeared in Free Inquiry, Sexuality & Culture: an interdisciplinary journal, The International Journal of Applied Philosophy, and Philosophy in a Contemporary World and have been anthologized in At Issue: Is Parenthood a Right or a Privilege? and Current Controversies: Child Abuse.

She was a columnist for The Philosopher Magazine’s online philosophy cafĂ© for eight years and for Philosophy Now for two years. Her columns have also been published and posted in and at the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies website,, Humanist in Canada , Links, Academic Exchange Quarterly, Inroads, The Nugget, Canadian HR Reporter, Elenchus, Teaching and Learning Literature, University Affairs, South Australian Humanist Post, Forum, and The Humanist.

She has served on the ethics committee of the North Bay General Hospital and has had a number of positions in the education, social services, and recreation fields. She has also worked in maintenance and as a disc jockey.

From TeachPhilosophy's 10 Definitions of Critical Thinking:Judicious reasoning about what to believe and, therefore, what to do (Peg Tittle).”

Friday, May 17, 2013

#BookReview: 'The Difference a Day Makes' by Barbara Longley (contemporary romance)

Difference a Day Makes, The (Perfect, Indiana, #2)The Difference a Day Makes by Barbara Longley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Paranormal romances will probably always be my favorite, but when I need a break from vampires and witches, I like a nice contemporary romance. I really enjoyed Far from Perfect, the first book in the "Love From the Heartland" series because it was simply a sweet romance (with some heat) between two very, very stubborn people. I enjoyed the hero of that novel, Noah, the wounded veteran.

This second novel follows Noah's sister, Paige, who's bummed out after losing her first job. She shows up in Perfect, Indiana, at the same time as one of Noah's "rehabilitation projects," the emotionally fragile veteran Ryan Malloy. It's hard to say which is the more stubborn couple: Noah and Ceejay from the first book or Paige and Ryan.

Paige has a dream she wants to follow - taking over the family business - and it takes her a long, long time to figure out how Ryan could fit into her life plan. (But this is a romance novel, so you know they'll find a way. It's no fun if we don't get our happily-ever-after.)

I hate to say it (because my to-read list is already so long), but I think Barbara Longley has added herself to my "auto-buy this author's latest" list. She writes sexy, believable heroes and relatable heroines, and I enjoy the Midwest U.S.A. setting.

Barbara Longley knows she has my number, too. She sent me a friend request on GoodReads, along with a note saying that when she wraps up the Love From the Midwest trilogy with A Change of Heart, set to be published in October 2013, her next series will be paranormal. She calls it a time travel/historical trilogy with faeries! She, too, likes to switch back and forth between paranormal and contemporary romance. All the more reason to appreciate her.

View all my reviews at GoodReads

Currently reading:

Master by Colette Gale

Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris

Disclosure: I received this book free from the Amazon Vine program and was obligated to review it for Amazon in return. It represents my own honest opinion.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

I'm a Year Older and So Are These Gorgeous Bitches (Oh How Pinteresting)

Last year for my birthday I wrote "I'm 35 and So Are These Hotties Born in 1977." I'm a year older, and - well, the people who were born in 1977 were still born in 1977.

But they're still some quite lovely humans, so please enjoy them.


Orlando Bloom:

My personal favorite Rachel Dawes, Ms. Maggie Gyllenhaal:

Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges:

Michael Fassbender:

Kal Penn:

Jonathan Rhys Meyers:

Wow, guys - you all look so good for our age!

(I lifted this birthday post idea from Alexandra O'Hurley. Her awesome erotic romance author website is Go check her out - she's fun.)

Monday, May 13, 2013

Verily, I Am Dhead: Review of 'Lover At Last' by J.R.Ward (Spoilers)

I have gone unto the Fade. Verily, I am dhead from feels after finishing Lover At Last by J.R. Ward, the 11th volume in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, last night.

This book promised to finally bring together Qhuay, which is to say the mighty warrior Qhuinn (with the piercings, spiky black hair and mismatched eyes) and the friend who's in love with him, Blaylock (a blue-eyed redhead). To say their relationship is complicated would be a gross understatement. In the past:

-Blay came out as gay to Qhuinn and their best friend John Matthew. Blay made it clear he had feelings for Qhuinn, and Qhuinn made it equally clear he only wanted to be friends.

-Qhuinn had a lot of anonymous sex with a lot of women and men - everyone except Blay, basically. Blay was deeply offended that Qhuinn would partner with pretty much anyone who wasn't Blay. It was generally assumed Qhuinn was a promiscuous bisexual.

-Blay started a serious relationship with Qhuinn's lawyer cousin, Saxton. Qhuinn resented Saxton and, ironically enough, tried to slut-shame him.

-The unmated Chosen vampire Layla went into her fertile period, and she and Qhuinn decided to use this opportunity to have the child they both desired, even though they are not in a relationship. Layla became pregnant.

In Lover At Last, there are many angsty moments in which Layla fears she's miscarrying her baby. Thankfully, this tragedy seems to have been prevented by the warrior female Payne - who is, after all, the birth daughter of the Scribe Virgin herself. In future books, for my own mental health, I'm going to need Layla and Qhuinn's daughter to be born perfectly safe and healthy - with her dad's mismatched eyes, of course - and for Layla to live happily ever after with Xcor. I know that seems impossible - he's trying to take over the throne from Wrath. She'd have to betray the Black Dagger Brotherhood to join the Band of Bastards. But J.R. Ward will make it work somehow. She's good like that.

It was Blay who encouraged Payne to try to help Layla, and in a moment of gratitude, Layla spills the beans, telling Blay, "I can see why he's in love with you." Blay actually had no idea that Qhuinn felt about him the way Blay used to feel about Qhuinn, before the Saxton complication.

Saxton, in the meantime, has broken up with Blay, although they remain friends. Yet for some reason, for most of the book, Blaylock allows Qhuinn to believe he's still together with Saxton. When Qhuinn smells another guy on Saxton, he thinks Sax is cheating on Blay, and he literally tries to strangle his cousin to death in a moment of sheer protective outrage. Blay does not take this as a romantic gesture; he's extremely angry with Qhuinn. This only pushes them further apart.

Yet Qhuinn and Blay still manage to come together physically. Their complicated emotions boil over and they finally have sex (right around page 200). It happens a second time when Qhuinn is really, really worried about Layla losing the baby. The third time, Qhuinn gets very insistent that he's not gay. But maybe he is? Ward leaves it unclear whether Qhuinn has genuine attraction to males and females, or whether his pursuit of various women was overcompensation for his attraction to men. It's a moot point, really: by the end of the book, he and Blay are completely committed. Bonded.

The epilogue of the book is Qhuinn's mating proposal to Blay (with the full blessing of Blay's aristocratic, but very cool, parents). This means they'll be mated - the vampire equivalent of married - just like the other couples in the series. The book literally ends with, "...and lived happily ever after."


And, about fucking time.

They'll still have to get each other's names tattooed in the Old Language on their backs. A hellren (husband) always has his mate's name on his back.

Yet there are many loose ends to be addressed in the next book, including:

-Will hanging around with pregnant Layla cause Queen Beth to go into her fertility period? If Beth and King Wrath have offspring, will their 1/4 human young be eligible for the throne some day?

-Will a relationship develop between Trez and the Chosen female Selena? (I'm hoping so.)

There's also a subplot involving Assail, the Old World vampire drug dealer who took over the Caldwell drug trade from Rehvenge when Rev ran off with Ehlena for their happily-ever-after. I can't say I have any emotional investment in the story of Assail and his human would-be killer, Sola. Sola is in great danger, however, and what becomes of her is a loose end.

Now we impatiently await the next book, which Ward has said will be titled The King.

I got Lover at Last from the library. When I take it back, I'll be picking up Dead Ever After. I read the spoiler for the ending (not sorry), and unlike J.R. Ward, Charlaine Harris is going to rip out my heart and shred it in millions of tiny pieces. Can't wait.

Black Dagger Brotherhood Gifts at CafePress

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Weekly Faves Link-Up: Song Crush, Book Crush, TV Crush

Song I Can't Stop Listening To:

(Yes, still. I don't get a new favorite song that often.)

Book I'm Loving:

...Lover At Last by J.R. Ward. I'm 200 pages in and having so many feels over Qhuinn (he of the heterochromia iridum - one blue eye, one green eye) and Blaylock.

TV I Can't Stop Watching:

Person of Interest season finale is tonight, and I am so scared. Last year it was an entire summer of, "What is Root going to do to Finch?" Now Finch is reluctantly taking help from Root, but I fear it's going to be an entire summer of, "What is HR going to do to Joss Carter?"

Last week's episode made it look like they were setting her up like they set up Mike Szymanski - and Szymanski got murdered. If anything happens to Carter...I cannot even.

Monday, May 6, 2013

#Reading Updates: 'Lover At Last' and 'The Difference A Day Makes'

I'm currently reading two books. Last night I started Lover At Last by J.R. Ward.

My mom just finished it Saturday night, and I got it from her at breakfast on Sunday morning. I was at her house Saturday afternoon playing with my nieces. (We took them to the the comic book store for Free Comic Book Day.) While the girls and I were at the park, my mom said something about the book to my husband. Here's his summary of that conversation:

"Your mom's upset because the queers don't get together in this book."

I'm only 60 pages in, but I swear to the Scribe Virgin, Blay and Qhuinn had BETTER get together by the end of this book. But, if possible, I'd not like anything bad to happen to Saxton. I want Qhuay, but not if Blay is free because Saxton is dead or something. My heart will break.

I can never read only one book at a time, though. I'm also reading The Difference a Day Makes by Barbara Longley. I fear Barbara Longley may have added herself to my auto-buy author list. (Isn't it long enough already? But Charlaine Harris will be crossed off once I read the last Sookie Stackhouse novel - out tomorrow. I've never gotten into her other series.)

I already have a beef with this cover art, though. The hero, Ryan Malloy, is described as blond, with long and rather shaggy hair. I'm picturing Josh Holloway.

Photo by Kristin Dos Santos, Creative Commons license
Blond. Not dark-haired, but blond. Also, the heroine, Paige Langford (sister of Noah Langford, the yummy one-legged hero from the previous book, Far From Perfect) is described as curvy. Ryan's physical attraction to Paige is based in large part on her soft, generous curves. The svelte woman on the cover is attractive, but could hardly be described as curvy.

Cover beef aside, so far, it's a perfectly good contemporary romance set in my home state of Indiana. I'm about 60 pages into this one also, but it's about 230 pages shorter than Lover at Last.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

YA #BookReview: The Watcher in the Shadows by Chris Moriarty

The Watcher in the Shadows (Inquisitor's Apprentice #2)The Watcher in the Shadows by Chris Moriarty

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love this alternative history world Chris Moriarty has created, a version of early 1900s New York City where magic is commonplace, but under the control of the police department's Inquisitor division. It's a world where tenement-dwellers clash with upper-crust families of ultrarich wizards, where Old World traditions collide with Industrial Age realities.

In this second installation, 13-year-old apprentice Sacha Kessler doesn't simply follow Inquisitor Max Wolf on the investigation of a mysterious death in full view of a packed theater. Sacha has some very adult decisions to make, including how much to trust Wolf and whether or not he wants to learn magic. Sacha's supernatural doppelganger is still on the loose, and the danger has never been greater.

Fans of The Invention of Hugo Cabret should appreciate this sophisticated magical tale.

View all my reviews

Disclosure: I received this book at no cost from Amazon Vine in exchange for this review, which represents my own honest opinion.

This book will be released on May 28, but you can pre-order it now. In the meantime, catch up by reading The Inquisitor's Apprentice, the first book in a planned 5-part series.