Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Best Books I Read in 2014

2014 wasn't an OMG-spectacular reading year for me, so I had a hard time even coming up with ten books to put on this list. (As usual, I'm kind of cheating and counting a YA series as a book.)

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Goodreads Summary: Is falling in love the beginning...or the end? In Ethan Wate's hometown there lies the darkest of secrets...There is a girl. Slowly, she pulled the hood from her head...Green eyes, black hair. Lena Duchannes. There is a curse. On the Sixteenth Moon, the Sixteenth Year, the Book will take what it's been promised. And no one can stop it. In the end, there is a grave. Lena and Ethan become bound together by a deep, powerful love. But Lena is cursed and on her sixteenth birthday, her fate will be decided. Ethan never even saw it coming.

My Review

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

Goodreads Summary: When Barry Fairbrother dies in his early forties, the town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils ... Pagford is not what it first seems. And the empty seat left by Barry on the parish council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity, and unexpected revelations?

My Review

File Under: 13 Suspicious Incidents by Lemony Snicket

Goodreads Summary: Match wits with Lemony Snicket to solve thirteen mini-mysteries. Paintings have been falling off of walls, a loud and loyal dog has gone missing, a specter has been seen walking the pier at midnight -- strange things are happening all over the town of Stain'd-By-The-Sea. Called upon to investigate thirteen suspicious incidents, young Lemony Snicket collects clues, questions witnesses, and cracks every case. Join the investigation and tackle the mysteries alongside Snicket, then turn to the back of the book to see the solution revealed. A delicious read that welcomes readers into Lemony Snicket's world of deep mystery, mysterious depth, deductive reasoning, and reasonable deductions.

My Review

Four: A Divergent Collection by Veronica Roth

Goodreads Summary: Two years before Beatrice Prior made her choice, the sixteen-year-old son of Abnegation's faction leader did the same. Tobias's transfer to Dauntless is a chance to begin again. Here, he will not be called the name his parents gave him. Here, he will not let fear turn him into a cowering child. Newly christened "Four," he discovers during initiation that he will succeed in Dauntless. Initiation is only the beginning, though; Four must claim his place in the Dauntless hierarchy. His decisions will affect future initiates as well as uncover secrets that could threaten his own future--and the future of the entire faction system. Two years later, Four is poised to take action, but the course is still unclear. The first new initiate who jumps into the net might change all that. With her, the way to righting their world might become clear. With her, it might become possible to be Tobias once again.

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth comes a companion volume to the worldwide bestselling Divergent series, told from the perspective of the immensely popular character Tobias. The four pieces included here--"The Transfer," "The Initiate," "The Son," and "The Traitor"--plus three additional exclusive scenes, give readers an electrifying glimpse into the history and heart of Tobias, and set the stage for the epic saga of the Divergent trilogy.

My Review

I Work at a Public Library by Gina Sheridan

Goodreads Summary: From a patron's missing wetsuit to the scent of crab cakes wafting through the stacks, I Work at a Public Library showcases the oddities that have come across Gina Sheridan's circulation desk. Throughout these pages, she catalogs her encounters with local eccentrics as well as the questions that plague her, such as, "What is the standard length of eyebrow hairs?" Whether she's helping someone scan his face onto an online dating site or explaining why the library doesn't have any dragon autobiographies, Sheridan's bizarre tales prove that she's truly seen it all. Stacked high with hundreds of strange-but-true stories, I Work at a Public Library celebrates librarians and the unforgettable patrons that roam the stacks every day.

My Review

Lost in Translation by Ella Frances Sanders

Goodreads Summary: Did you know that the Japanese language has a word to express the way sunlight filters through the leaves of trees? Or that there’s a Finnish word for the distance a reindeer can travel before needing to rest? Lost in Translation brings to life more than fifty words that don’t have direct English translations with charming illustrations of their tender, poignant, and humorous definitions. Often these words provide insight into the cultures they come from, such as the Brazilian Portuguese word for running your fingers through a lover’s hair, the Italian word for being moved to tears by a story, or the Swedish word for a third cup of coffee. In this clever and beautifully rendered exploration of the subtleties of communication, you’ll find new ways to express yourself while getting lost in the artistry of imperfect translation.

My Review

Pray the Gay Away by Sara York

Goodreads Summary: Star football player Jack Miller had it all. The perfect family, looks, girls hanging on his every word, and the respect of most people in his town. But one thing was missing--a man to be his own. When Andrew Collins showed up in small town, conservative Sweet, Georgia, he looked more scrawny mutt than high school senior. Andrew's plan was to keep his head down and graduate high school, leaving his family behind to start his real life. When he meets Andrew, Jack thinks he's found heaven, but reality holds him in check until one night when his lips gently slide across Andrew's and fireworks go off. As lust and something a little deeper brings them together, compelling them to take chances, people start to notice. Then the unthinkable happens, and Jack's parents find out he likes guys. The battle lines are drawn and they vow to pray the gay away.

My Review

This Star Won't Got Out by Esther, Lori, and Wayne Earl

Goodreads Summary: A collection of the journals, fiction, letters, and sketches of the late Esther Grace Earl, who passed away in 2010 at the age of 16. Photographs and essays by family and friends will help to tell Esther’s story along with an introduction by award-winning author John Green who dedicated his #1 bestselling novel The Fault in Our Stars to her.

My Review

The Vampire Academy Series by Richelle Mead

Goodreads Summary of Book #1: St. Vladimir’s Academy isn’t just any boarding school—it’s a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They’ve been on the run, but now they’re being dragged back to St. Vladimir’s—the very place where they’re most in danger...Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy’s ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world’s fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever.

Vampire Academy
Shadow Kiss
Blood Promise
Spirit Bound
Last Sacrifice (currently reading)

The Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray by Mitzi Szereto

Goodreads Summary: Inspired by Oscar Wilde’s classic novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, Mitzi Szereto’s Wilde Passions of Dorian Gray continues where Wilde left off with the Faustian tale of a man of eternal youth and great physical beauty who lives a life of corruption, decadence and hedonism. The story begins in the bordellos of Jazz-Age Paris, moving to the opium dens of Marrakesh and the alluring anonymity of South America. In his pursuit of sensation and carnal thrills, Dorian’s desires turn increasingly extreme and he leaves behind yet more devastation and death. He ultimately settles in present-day New Orleans, joining with a group of like-minded beings known as The Night People. They inadvertently return to Dorian his humanity when he falls in love with a young woman he rescues from becoming their victim. She will be his redemption, but she will also be his final curse.

My Review

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Shift by Madison Dunn. $8.99 from
I'm not sure why it happens, but when I focus just right, I can slow time. Things around me become lighter somehow, and I almost feel the tiny particles of energy spinning inside of them. The thing is, having the ability to transform the world around you isn't all it's cracked up to be -- especially when you are running from the Valencia without any deodorant.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

'Wuthering Bites' - Emily Bronte's Classic With a Twist #MashUp

Wuthering Bites by Sarah Gray

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If you've read this blog for a while now, you may recall that near the top of my all-time favorite classic novels list is Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights. I read or watch it or its many spinoffs and adaptations at least once every couple of years.

In October 2014, I saw it as a stage play. With Halloween being right around the corner from that night, I decided to give the vampire version a chance.

The thing that gave me tremendous pleasure about reading this novel was re-discovering all the brilliant bits that made me fall in love with Wuthering Heights in the first place. I have my favorite lines, and it's always a small thrill whenever they come up in a new version. There are also some deft bits of humor woven in.

Overall, I didn't enjoy this mash-up as much I liked Jane Slayre: The Literary Classic with a Blood-Sucking Twist, which I also recently read. In general, I'm fan of monster mash-ups, beginning with Pride and Prejudice and ZombiesWuthering Bites was a fun read, but the vampire elements could have been incorporated in a more thorough way. Some of them, especially toward the end, felt very tacked-on. In a really good mash-up, we don't see the seams.

For example, for the vast majority of this version, we don't know what Heathcliff is. We know he's most likely the son of a Roma vampire slayer and that he has some power to control the vampires around Wuthering Heights. They listen to him when he tells them certain people are off-limits as food sources. But why does he have this power? We also know he's not a vampire himself. At almost the very end, we learn Heathcliff is a dhampir - half vampire, half human. Why this had to be a surprise kept until the very end, I just can't figure out. It seems like being a dhampir would go a long way to explain and perhaps even excuse some of Heathcliff's more disturbing behavior. Didn't Bronte intend for us to feel sympathy for Heathcliff, after the way Hindley treated him? He's more sympathetic if, through no fault of his own, he's caught between two opposing worlds.

The elder Catherine's fate is treated in a similarly mysterious way. Her ultimately-fatal illness, explained in the original book as being self-induced out of sheer cussedness, is explained in this mash-up by a vampire bite - not enough to turn her into a vampire, but enough to eventually kill her. We're told throughout the second half of the novel that Catherine's grave always looks fresh, and at the very end we find out it's because Catherine isn't quite dead and roams the moors in a zombie-like vampiric state. (Sounds like a job for Andrew Lincoln as a combination of Edgar Linton and Rick Grimes, no?) It would have been interesting for the other characters to come across her in this state, rather than just having Mr. Lockwood learn about her at the last possible moment.

One addition I did rather enjoy was the younger Catherine's ambition to become a vampire slayer. In the end, not only is she redeemed by her love for Hareton, but also by her new-found freedom to pursue her dream. I love a heroine with an ambition, even if her ambition is beheading bloodsucking fiends.

I love Wuthering Heights. I love vampires. This should have been the perfect book for me, but I thought it fell somewhat flat.

I purchased this book with my own funds and was not obligated in any way to review it. According to the sticker on the back, I bought it for $15 at Borders. It was published in 2010, so this was apparently one of the last things I ever bought at Borders.

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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.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

'Beautiful Creatures' by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl Book Review

Beautiful Creatures? Beautiful writing.

This is a lovely book - one could almost say spellbinding - a combination of young adult paranormal fiction and Southern Gothic.I saw the movie in June 2013, but since my morning commute now allows me to listen to audiobooks, I checked this one out from my local library.

Some thoughts.

- Sixteen-year-old boys, please be more like Ethan Wate. Play basketball and keep books under your bed. Return to your favorite classics again and again for the comfort of familiarity. Care what your friends think, but not all that much. Get your girlfriend a birthday present when she says she doesn't want one.

- Marian Ashcroft and Lilah Evers Wate, please be real. I would love to read their history books - and to explore the secret underground Caster library.

I like the name Lilah Evers, and it is somewhat similar to the name of Harry Potter's deceased mother, Lily Evans. I wonder if that was an intentional homage.

- Ethan isn't an orphan, though. His father, Mitchell, is alive, and he's clinically depressed. Ethan - realistically for a 16-year-old narrator - refers to him as "crazy." However, as adults we know that people with depression don't deserve to be stereotyped or stigmatized because of their illness, and we should try to back away from using the c-word. People who have serious mental illnesses have enough to deal with without the burden of dismissive labels.

- It's also realistic that Ethan would be somewhat dismissive of Charlotte, because like all teenagers he's been encultured to think that "pretty" means "skinny." The Charlottes of the world should know there is nothing wrong with being fat, though. People - fat, skinny, and in between - don't need to be shamed because of our body types.

Charlotte makes some unsavory choices because she's trying to fit in with the popular girls; Emily is just a bitch. I can't believe my sweet, sassy Dhampir - Zoey Deutsch, a.k.a. Rose Hathaway - played that awful Emily in the movie.

- I don't remember Uncle Macon being an incubus in the movie? But fortunately he's not the sexual kind, like the incubi of traditional mythology. In fact, he seems to be repulsed by the whole idea of sex. Is Macon Ravenwood an asexual character? Asexual people need positive media representation too - although I do think incubi are technically demons, so I don't know how "positive" this portrayal actually is.

I myself do not identify as asexual, but I understand that asexuality is a normal variation under the human sexuality umbrella.

- Was Boo Radley in the movie?

Also, kudos to Garcia and Stohl for the tons of literary references they worked in. Perhaps they are the real-life Lilah and Marian - except, y'know, neither one of them is a ghost.

- The next time I go to the movies, I would like to try mixing Milk Duds with my hot popcorn, a la Lena. (Unlike Lena, though, I like "butter.")

- The ending of the book is very different from the ending of the movie. Lena doesn't leave Ethan. Instead there's a vague but ominous warning that all Lena has really done is put off her Claiming until her 17th birthday, buying Lena and Ethan an additional year together.

- I typically read one YA series a year. In 2012 it was Hunger Games, in 2013 it was Divergent, and this year it's been Vampire Academy. I think I would like to read Beautiful Darkness (the second book in the series) and its subsequent volumes in 2015.

This is an affiliate link:

Shift by Madison Dunn. $8.99 from
I'm not sure why it happens, but when I focus just right, I can slow time. Things around me become lighter somehow, and I almost feel the tiny particles of energy spinning inside of them. The thing is, having the ability to transform the world around you isn't all it's cracked up to be -- especially when you are running from the Valencia without any deodorant.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

#Destiel AU in Which Castiel Is Cupid and Dean is Psyche - Pt. 3 of 3

Cupid meanwhile had gone to his mother's chamber to have his wound cared for, but when Venus heard his story and learned that it was Dean whom he had chosen, she left him angrily alone in his pain, and went forth to find the guy of whom he had made her still more jealous. Venus was determined to show Dean what it meant to draw down the displeasure of a goddess.
Poor Dean in his despairing wanderings was trying to win the gods over to his side. He offered ardent prayers to them perpetually, but not one of them would do anything to make Venus their enemy. At last he perceived that there was no hope for him, either in heaven or on earth, and he took a desperate resolve. He would go straight to Venus; he would offer himself humbly to him as her servant, and try to soften her anger. "And who knows," Dean thought, "if he himself is not there in his mother's house." So he set forth to find the goddess who was looking everywhere for him.

When he came into Venus' presence the goddess laughed aloud and asked him scornfully if he was seeking a husband since the one he had had would have nothing to do with him because he had almost died of the burning wound Dean had given him. "But really," she said, "you are so plain and ill-favored a boy that you will never be able to get you a lover except by the most diligent and painful service. I will therefore show my good will to you by training you in such ways." With that she took a great quantity of the smallest of the seeds, wheat and poppy and millet and so on, and mixed them all together in a heap. "By nightfall these must all be sorted," she said. "See to it for your own sake." And with that she departed.

Dean, left alone, sat still and stared at the heap. His mind was all in a maze because of the cruelty of the command; and, indeed, it was of no use to start a task so manifestly impossible. But at this direful moment he who had awakened no compassion in mortals or immortals was pitied by the tiniest creatures of the field, the little bees, the swift-fliers. They cried to each other, "Come, have mercy on this poor guy and help him diligently." At once they came, waves of them, one after another, and they labored separating and dividing, until what had been a confused mass lay all ordered, every seed with its kind.

This was what Venus found when she came back, and very angry she was to see it. "Your work is by no means over," she said. Then she gave Dean a crust of bread and bade him sleep on the ground while she herself went off to her soft, fragrant couch. Surely if she could keep the boy at hard labor and half starve him, too, that hateful beauty of his would soon be lost. Until then she must see that her son was securely guarded in his chamber where he was still suffering from his wound. Venus was pleased at the way matters were shaping.

The next morning she devised another task for Dean, this time a dangerous one. "Down there near the riverbank," she said, "where the bushes grow thick, are sheep with fleeces of gold. Go fetch me some of their shining wool." When the worn boy reached the gently flowing stream, a great longing seized him to throw himself into it and end all his pain and despair. But as he was bending over the water he heard a little voice from near his feet, and looking down saw that it came from a green reed. He must not drown himself, it said. Things were not as bad as that. The sheep were indeed very fierce, but if Dean would wait until they came out of the bushes toward evening to rest beside the river, he could go into the thicket and find plenty of the golden wool hanging on the sharp briars.

So spoke the kind and gentle reed, and Dean, following the directions, was able to carry back to his cruel mistress a quantity of the shining fleece. Venus received it with an evil smile. "Someone helped you," she said sharply. "Never did you do this by yourself. However, I will give you an opportunity to prove that you really have the stout heart and the singular prudence you make such a show of. Do you see that black water which falls from the hill yonder? It is the source of the terrible river which is called hateful, the river Styx. You are to fill this flask from it."

That was the worst task yet, as Dean saw when he approached the waterfall. Only a winged creature could reach it, so steep and slimy were the rocks on all sides, and so fearful the onrush of the descending waters. But by this time it must be evident to all the readers of this story (as, perhaps, deep in his heart it had become evident to Dean himself) that although each of his trials seemed impossibly hard, an excellent way out would always be provided for him. This time his savior was an eagle, who poised on his great wings beside him, seized the flask from him with his beak and brought it back to him full of the black water.

But Venus kept on. One cannot but accuse her of some stupidity. The only effect of all that had happened was to make her try again. She gave Dean a box which he was to carry to the underworld and ask Proserpine to fill with some of her beauty. He was to tell her that Venus really needed it, she was so worn-out from nursing her sick son.

Obediently as always Dean went forth to look for the road to Hades. He found his guide in a tower he passed. It gave him careful directions how to get to Proserpine's palace, first through a great hole in the earth, then down to the river of death, where he must give the ferryman, Charon, a penny to take him across. From there the road led straight to the palace. Cerberus, the three-headed dog, guarded the doors, but if Dean gave him some pie he would be friendly and let him pass.

All happened, of course, as the tower had foretold. Proserpine was willing to do Venus a service, and Dean, greatly encouraged, bore back the box, returning far more quickly than he had gone down.

His next trial he brought upon himself through his curiosity and, still more, his vanity. He felt that he must see what that beauty-charm in the box was; and, perhaps, use a little of it himself. He knew quite as well as Venus did that his looks were not improved by what he had gone through, and always in his mind was the thought that he might suddenly meet Cupid. If only he could make himself more lovely for him!
He was unable to resist the temptation; he opened the box. To his sharp disappointment he saw nothing there; it seemed empty. Immediately, however, a deadly languor took possession of him and he fell into a heavy sleep.

At this juncture the God of Love himself stepped forward. Cupid was healed of his wound by now and longing for Dean. It is a difficult matter to keep Love imprisoned. Venus had locked the door, but there were the windows. All Cupid had to do was to fly out and start looking for his husband. He was lying almost beside the palace, and he found him at once. In a moment he had wiped the sleep from his eyes and put it back into the box. Then waking him with just a prick from one of his arrows, and scolding him a little for his curiosity, he bade Dean take Proserpine's box to his mother and assured him that all thereafter would be well.

While the joyful Dean hastened on his errand, the god flew up to Olympus. He wanted to make certain that Venus would give them no more trouble, so he went straight to his grandfather, Jupiter himself. The Father of Gods and Men consented at once to all that Cupid asked—"Even though," he said, "you have done me great harm in the past—seriously injured my good name and my dignity by making me change myself into a bull and a swan and so on. . . However, I cannot refuse you." Then he called a full assembly of the gods, and announced to all, including Venus, that Cupid and Dean were formally married, and that he proposed to bestow immortality upon the mortal man. Mercury brought Dean into the palace of the gods, and Jupiter himself gave him the ambrosia to taste which made him immortal.

This, of course, completely changed the situation. Venus could not object to a god for her son-in-law; the alliance had become eminently suitable. No doubt she reflected also that Dean, living up in heaven with a husband to care for, could not be much on the earth to turn people's heads and interfere with her own worship.
So all came to a most happy end. Cupid and Dean had sought and, after sore trials, found each other; and that union could never be broken.

About the Authors

Lucius Apuleius Madaurensis (circa 125-180 CE), commonly known as Apuleius, was a citizen of the Roman Empire who lived in North Africa (present-day Algeria). He's best known for his ribald prose work Metamorphoses, or The Golden Ass. The myth of Cupid and Psyche is the best-known part of this work, remarkable for being the only Latin-language work to have survived complete from antiquity.

Erin O'Riordan (b. 1977) is still alive. She gets distracted by writing fan fiction mash-ups when she should be editing her novel. She's obsessed with Castiel (an angel of the Lord) and Dean Winchester because of Tumblr. She still hasn't seen a single episode of Supernatural, and she likes it that way. She might be persuaded to catch up if Destiel should ever become canon, because she laments the sore lack of bisexual/pansexual representation on television.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Cupid and Psyche Mash-Up - #Destiel AU Pt. 2

Part One is here.

Dean slept peacefully that night enfolded in his lover's wings, but woke up alone. The sun's first light revealed a trace of his lover in the form of a single feather, black at first glance but shimmering with all the colors of the rainbow when held in the light.

This half-and-half companionship could not fully content Dean; still he was happy and the time passed swiftly. One night, however, his dear though unseen husband spoke gravely to him and warned him that danger in the shape of his brother was approaching. "Sam is coming to the hill where you disappeared, to weep for you," he said, "but you must not let him see you or you will bring great sorrow upon me and ruin to yourself."

Dean promised he would not, but all the next day he passed in weeping, thinking of his brother and himself unable to comfort him. He was still in tears when his husband came and even his caresses could not check them. At last he yielded sorrowfully to Dean's great desire.

"Do what you will," he said, "but you are seeking your own destruction." Then he warned Dean solemnly not to be persuaded by Sam to try to see him, on pain of being separated from him forever.

Dean cried out that he would never do so. He would die a hundred times over rather than live without him. "But give me this joy," he said: "to see my brother." Sadly Dean's husband promised him that it should be so.

The next morning Sam came, brought down from the mountain by Zephyr. Happy and excited, Dean was waiting for him. It was long before the two brothers could speak to each other; their joy was too great to be expressed except by tears and embraces. But when at last they entered the palace and Sam saw its surpassing treasures, when he sat at the rich banquet and heard the marvelous music, bitter envy took possession of him and a devouring curiosity as to who was the lord of all this magnificence and his brother's husband.

"Texts From the Impala" Meme.
But Dean kept faith; he told Sam only that his husband was a young man, away now on a hunting expedition. "How is Jessica?" Dean asked, changing the subject.

"Jess is fine. She's huge - I mean, she's very pregnant. We're going to have a little prince or princess."

Dean gave Sam another hug. "Congratulations, bro."

"Thanks. So, no babies for you, huh?"

"We don't need babies to be happy."

Sam seemed to notice something. "What's this thing around your neck?"

Dean smiled. "My leather collar. Do you like it?"

"He put a collar on you - like you're his slave, or his dog?"

"No, he gave me this collar as a gift because he loves me. It's pretty, it smells good, and sometimes - at just the right moment - he slips two fingers inside it and it tightens up just enough..."

"That's sick, Dean."

"No! It's nice. It's like when he pulls my hair. Don't you ever pull Jessica's hair?"

"Dude, no. She's a queen; she would have me beheaded. Dean, he treats you horribly, but you're so innocent you think that's love."

"You're wrong, Sam. Not everybody has to love the same way. Jessica is a tiny person compared to you, so you're sweet and gentle with her. My husband can be very sweet and gentle, and other times, he shoves me against the wall - and I like that. I know he loves me."

Then filling Sam's hands with gold and jewels, he had Zephyr bear him back to the hill. "See you later, jerk."

Sam went willingly enough, but his heart was on fire with jealousy. "Not if I see you first, bitch." All his own wealth and good fortune seemed as nothing compared with Dean's, and his envious anger so worked in him that he came finally to plotting how to ruin him.

That very night Dean's husband warned him once more. Dean would not listen when he begged him not to let Sam come again.  "You can never see me," he reminded Dean. Was Dean also to be forbidden to see all others, even his brother so dear to him?

He yielded as before, and very soon Sam arrived, with his plot carefully worked out. Already, because of Dean's stumbling and contradictory answer when Sam asked him what his husband looked like, he had become convinced that Dean had never set eyes on him and did not really know what he was. Sam did not tell Dean this, but he reproached his older brother for hiding his terrible state from him, his own brother. Sam had learned, he said, and knew for a fact, that Dean's husband was not a man, but the fearful serpent demon Apollo's oracle had declared he would be. He was kind now, no doubt, but he would certainly turn upon him some night and devour him.

Dean, aghast, felt terror flooding his heart instead of love. He had wondered so often why his husband would never let him see him. There must be some dreadful reason. What did he really know about him? If he was not horrible to look at, then he was cruel to forbid him ever to behold him. In extreme misery, faltering and stammering he gave his brother to understand that he could not deny what he said, because he had been with him only in the dark. "There must be something very wrong," he sobbed, "for him so to shun the light of day." And he begged Sam to advise him.

Sam had his advice all prepared beforehand: That night Dean must hide a sharp knife and a lamp near his bed. When his husband was fast asleep he must leave the bed, light the lamp, and get the knife. He must steel himself to plunge it swiftly into the body of the frightful being the light would certainly show him. "I will be near," Sam said, "and carry you away with me when he is dead."

Then Sam left Dean torn by doubt and distracted what to do. Dean loved him; he was his dear husband. No; he was a horrible serpent demon and he loathed him. He would kill him — he would not. He must have certainty — he did not want certainty. So all day long his thoughts fought with each other. When evening came, however, he had given the struggle up. One thing he was determined to do: He would see him.

When at last he lay sleeping quietly, Dean summoned all his courage and lit the lamp. He tiptoed to the bed and holding the light high above him he gazed at what lay there.
Oh, the relief and the rapture that filled his heart. No monster was revealed, but the sweetest and fairest of all creatures, at whose sight the very lamp seemed to shine brighter. In his first shame at his folly and lack of faith, Dean fell on his knees and would have plunged the knife into his own breast if it had not fallen from his trembling hands.

But those same unsteady hands that saved him betrayed him, too, for as he hung over him, ravished at the sight of him and unable to deny himself the bliss of filling his eyes with his beauty, some hot oil fell from the lamp upon his shoulder. He started awake: he saw the light and knew Dean's faithlessness, and without a word he fled from him.

Dean rushed out after him into the night. He could not see him, but he heard his voice speaking to him. He told Dean who he was, and sadly bade him farewell. "Love cannot live where there is no trust," he said, and flew away.

'The God of Love!" he thought. "He was my husband, and I, assbutt that I am, could not keep faith with him. Is he gone from me forever? At any rate," he told himself with rising courage, "I can spend the rest of my life searching for him. If he has no more love left for me, at least I can show him how much I love him." And he started on his journey. He had no idea where to go; he knew only that he would never give up looking for him.

(Happily-ever-after ending to come in Part 3.)

In Other Fan Fiction News: Squee! Rainbow Rowell is writing Carry On, a book about Simon Snow (and, I should really hope, Baz too). Its projected release date is in October 2015, and it will contain Simon Snow fan art by actual fangirls. It's super meta, and I'm so excited. Is this going to be the first mainstream bestseller based on same sex romantic fan fiction?

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Woman Who Couldn't Stop Reading 'The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming'

Hanukkah begins at sundown tomorrow, but I (finally) read this book at a really inappropriate time: in mid-March, much closer to Purim than to Hanukkah.

...but I couldn't find any books about screaming hamantaschen, so it had to do.

Actually, I bought it because I got a good deal on a used copy from Better World Books, and it happened to be almost springtime. I'd been wanting to read this for years, and I wasn't disappointed.

Like almost everything Daniel Handler writes as Lemony Snicket, it's laugh-out-loud funny. Some of the best quotes in it are:

1) “Santa Claus has nothing to do with it," the latke said. "Christmas and Hanukkah are completely different things."

"But different things can often blend together," said the pine tree. "Let me tell you a funny story about pagan rituals.”

2) “It is very frustrating not to be understood in this world. If you say one thing and keep being told that you mean something else, it can make you want to scream. But somewhere in the world there is a place for all of us, whether you are an electric form of decoration, peppermint-scented sweet, a source of timber, or a potato pancake.”

One caveat: It did make me crave deep-fried foods.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Destiel AU in Which Castiel Is Cupid and Dean is Psyche

The base text comes from Edith Hamilton's Mythology, taken in turn from Apuleius, an ancient Roman writer imitating the style of Ovid. You can read the full text online for free at

There was once a demon hunter who had two sons, both lovely, but the elder, Dean, excelled his brother so greatly that beside Sam he seemed a very god consorting with mere mortals.
The fame of his surpassing beauty spread over the earth, and everywhere men and women journeyed to gaze upon him with wonder and adoration and to do him homage as though he were in truth one of the immortals. They would even say that Venus herself could not equal this mortal. As they thronged in ever-growing numbers to worship his loveliness no one any more gave a thought to Venus herself. Her temples were neglected, her altars foul with cold ashes, her favorite towns deserted and falling in ruins. All the honors once hers were now given to a mere boy destined some day to die.

It may well be believed that the goddess would not put up with this treatment. As always when she was in trouble she turned for help to her son, that beautiful winged youth whom some call Cupid and others Love, against whose arrows there is no defense. neither in heaven nor on the earth. She told him her wrongs and as always he was ready to do her bidding. "Use your power,” she said, "and make the hussy fall madly in love with the vilest and most despicable creature there is in the whole world."

And so no doubt he would have done, if Venus had not first shown him Dean, never thinking in her jealous rage what such beauty might do even to the God of Love himself.
As he looked upon him it was as if he had shot one of his arrows into his own heart. He said nothing to his mother, indeed he had no power to utter a word, and Venus left him with the happy confidence that he would swiftly bring about Dean's ruin.

What happened, however, was not what she had counted on. Dean did not fall in love with a horrible wretch; he did not fall in love at all. Still more strange, no one fell in love with him. People were content to look and wonder and worship—and then pass on to marry someone else. His brother was splendidly married, to a queen. (I believe her name was Jessica.) Dean, the all-beautiful, sat sad and solitary, only admired, never loved. It seemed that no one wanted him.

This was, of course, most disturbing to his parents. His father finally traveled to an oracle of Apollo to ask his advice on how to get him a good spouse. The god answered him, but his words were terrible. Cupid had told him the whole story and had begged for his help.

Accordingly Apollo said that Dean, dressed in deepest mourning. must be set on the summit of a rocky hill and left alone, and that there his destined husband, a fearful winged serpent, stronger than the gods themselves, would come to Dean and make him his husband.
The misery of all when Dean's father brought back this lamentable news can be imagined. They dressed the young man as though for his death and carried him to the hill with greater sorrowing than if it had been to his tomb. But Dean himself kept his courage.

"You should have wept for me before," he told them, "because of the beauty that has drawn down upon me the jealousy of Heaven. Now go, knowing that I am glad the end has come.” They went in despairing grief, leaving the lovely helpless creature to meet his doom alone, and they shut themselves in their palace to mourn all their days for him.

On the high hilltop in the darkness Dean sat, waiting for he knew not what terror. There, as he wept and trembled, a soft breath of air came through the stillness to him, the gentle breathing of Zephyr, sweetest and mildest of winds. He felt it lift him up. He was floating away from the rocky hill and down until he lay upon a grassy meadow soft as a bed and fragrant with flowers. It was so peaceful there, all his trouble left him and he slept.

He woke beside a bright river, and on its bank was a mansion stately and beautiful as though built for a god, with pillars of gold and walls of silver and floors inlaid with precious stones. No sound was to be heard; the place seemed deserted and Dean drew near, awestruck at the sight of such splendor. As he hesitated on the threshold, voices sounded in his ear.

He could see no one, but the words they spoke came clearly to him. The house was for him, they told him. He must enter without fear, bathe, and refresh himself. Then a banquet table would be spread for him. "We are your servants," the voices said, "ready to do whatever you desire."

The bath was the most delightful, the food the most delicious he had ever enjoyed. There was pie. While he dined, sweet music breathed around him: a great choir seemed to sing to a harp, but he could only hear, not see, them.

Throughout the day, except for the strange companionship of the voices, he was alone, but in some inexplicable way he felt sure that with the coming of the night his husband would be with him.

And so it happened. As the sun set, the voices ushered Dean into the bedchamber. They urged him to get undressed and make himself comfortable under the sheets of a bed fit for a god. Dean did as they said and soon found himself all alone. As the candles burned down to nothing, the room became black as pitch. Dean couldn't see his own hand in front of his face. He knew when his bridegroom entered the chamber by the soft sound of feathers rustling. Dean felt his husband's weight on the bed.

"Don't be afraid," the unseen man or creature said. When he heard his voice softly murmuring in his ear, all his fears left him.

"I'm not afraid," Dean asserted. He knew without seeing him that here was no monster or shape of terror, but the lover and husband he had longed and waited for.

"Are your eyes open or closed?" Dean's bridegroom asked.

Dean wasn't sure. In the pitch blackness, he couldn't tell.

"Close them, because I'm going to kiss you now." Dean closed his eyes tightly and felt a firm hand on his cheek, turning his head slightly. A heartbeat later, lips met his in a kiss that radiated heat throughout Dean's entire body. Hands caressed his chest, and for the first time in his life, Dean knew what love felt like.

With kisses and touches the two lovers got to know one another through the night. When he grew bold enough, Dean even touched the softly feathered wings he knew his lover possessed. Dean found he liked to tug at the feathers, and that this seemed to please his lover. Yet kisses, hungry touches, and feather play alone would not satisfy them all night. When the time was right, Dean allowed his lover into the most vulnerable part of himself, and thus the marriage was consummated.

To be continued...

Friday, December 12, 2014

'Love and Decay' Episode 3 Book Blast (Zombie Dystopian Romance) & #Giveaway

Season Three, Episode One Blurb:

Zombies- as if that wasn’t enough to ruin any girl’s dream of a happily ever after.

It’s been six months since Reagan Willow fled the Colony and Matthias Allen’s tyrannical clutches. Six months since she broke Hendrix Parker’s heart. Six months since she watched Kane Allen sacrifice his life to save hers.

Whatever was left of her already-tattered life during the Zombie Apocalypse fell apart six months ago. Now, on the cusp of crossing the Mexican border, there is hope that she might lead her friends to a better existence.

Except Zombies are only the beginning of their problems. Reagan and her friends must battle the elements, armies of Feeders and bounty hunters desperate to drag them back to the Colony to face their greatest threat.

The Colony’s power stretches wide and far. Their only hope is to outrun Matthias and get to Mexico.

Love and Decay, Episode One is the first episode in Season Three of a novella series in a Dystopian Romance about Zombies, the end of the world and finding someone to share it with.

This story takes place over multiple episodes, with a release date every two weeks. Approximately 20,000 words.


Haven't started the Love & Decay Series Yet?  Season One Episodes 1-6 are Free!

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Zombies- as if that wasn’t enough to ruin any girl’s dream of a happily ever after.

A vaccination gone oh so wrong and a huge portion of the world’s population was turned into Zombies. Reagan Willow is forced out of her home when her parents become casualties of the horrid Zombie Apocalypse. With the help of her best friend Haley, they’ve become somewhat of experts on surviving the dangers of a world thrust into chaos and decay.

Reagan and Haley are on a vague mission to find somewhere safe to live out the remainders of their terrifying life when they stumble upon the Parkers, a pack of brothers that seem to have the survival thing down in a much more efficient and successful way than Reagan could ever have imagined. They are also protecting their eight year old sister, Page, and will do anything to keep her safe.

The brothers decide that Reagan and Haley need help with being kept safe as well, and as a group they set off to find the Zombie-free utopia Reagan is dreaming of.

Zombies are a daily problem, constantly threatening the lives of their group, but they’re not the only peril on the journey ahead. Militia groups of power hungry men are also a constant concern. And settlements of paranoid, suspicious people turn out to be just as hazardous.

Danger looms over every inch of the way, but Reagan, Haley and the Parkers are determined to get to their goal and remain together. Soon the Parkers become more to Reagan than just traveling companions and more than friendship starts to develop between her and Hendrix, the second oldest brother.

But at the end of the world, nothing can be as simple as life and death. Now, Reagan is going to have to schedule falling in love between hunting and surviving. Hopefully she can last long enough to find out if true love can still exist when everything else has started to fall apart.

Love and Decay, Volume One is a compilation of the first six episodes in a twelve episode season. It is a Dystopian Romance Novella Series about Zombies, the end of the world and finding someone to share it with.

This story takes place over multiple episodes, with a release date every two weeks. Each episode is approximately 20,000 words.

About Rachel Higginson 

Rachel Higginson is the creator of The Star-Crossed Series, Love & Decay Novella Series, The Starbright Series, The Siren Series, Bet on Us and the soon to be released The Five Stages of Falling in Love! She is also the co-creator of the podcast "Zach and Rachel Take Over the World."

She was born and raised in Nebraska, and spent her college years traveling the world. She fell in love with Eastern Europe, Paris, Indian food and the beautiful beaches of Sri Lanka, but came back home to marry her high school sweetheart. Now she spends her days raising four amazing kids. In the few spare moments she has to herself, she is either reading for hours on end or writing her own stories.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

'Christmas in the Cotswolds' by Jenny Kane

A seasonal easy read romance, Christmas in the Cotswolds is Jenny Kane’s festive sequel to Another Cup of Christmas. (It can also be read as a stand alone story.)


Izzie Spencer-Harris, owner of the Cotswold Art and Crafts Centre, is due to host the prestigious Cotswold Choir’s annual Christmas carol concert in her beautiful converted church. Or at least she was, until a storm smashed a hole right through the chancel roof.

Days from Christmas, Izzie suddenly finds herself up to her neck in DIY, with her last dodgy workman having walked off the job. She does the only thing she can … calls in her best friend Megan to help.

Leaving Peggy and Scott to run Pickwicks Café in her absence, Megan heads to the Cotswolds for Christmas. Within minutes of her arrival, she finds herself hunting down anyone willing to take on extra work so close to Christmas. It seems the only person available to help is Joseph Parker – a carpenter who, while admittedly gorgeous, seems to have ulterior motives for everything he does …

With Izzie’s bossy mother, Lady Spencer-Harris, causing her problems at every turn, an accident at work causing yet more delays, and the date for the concert drawing ever nearer, it’s going to take a lot more than Mrs Vickers’ powerful mulled wine to make sure everything is all right on the night …


Izzie closed her eyes and counted to ten as the door of the Cotswold Arts Centre slammed shut.

There was no point in panicking. She simply didn’t have time for such luxuries if her converted church was going to be ready to host a Christmas carol concert by the renowned Cotswold Choir in nine days’ time.

Bored of being propositioned by men who weren’t remotely interested in her until they discovered she was a daughter of the gentry, Izzie had ejected the carpenter through her front door before he’d quite had time to work out just how insulting her rejection of his latest lurid suggestion was.

Now, her hasty tongue having deprived her of a desperately needed pair of tradesman’s hands, Izzie sat with a heavy thump onto the nearest pew. She knew she had to find fresh help, and fast. A task that wouldn’t be easy so close to Christmas.

‘Although,’ Izzie addressed the image of Noah, who smiled benevolently at her from his stained-glass window, as if grateful he hadn’t been smashed to pieces by the tree branch that had come through the top of the chancel and caused so much seasonal inconvenience, ‘I’m damn sure I’m not asking my mother to help out ever again!’

Reaching for the offending package of invitations that had arrived by courier first thing that morning, Izzie emptied it onto the table. The invitations were supposed to have been posted by now. As soon as she’d seen them, Izzie understood why her mother had left them to the last minute.

Unfussy, cost-effective, and with a medieval Christmas flavour in keeping with the spirit of the converted fourteenth-century church where the concert was to be held. That’s what she’d asked for.

What she’d got was decadent Victorian-style gold-edged invitations which weighed so much, Izzie was sure that posting them alone would break the bank. And if that wasn’t bad enough, her mother had done the one thing that she had expressively forbidden. She’d put Izzie’s full name on the invitations.

Lady Perdita Spencer-Harris had been unable to comprehend why her daughter didn’t want to use the family name to help sales. She simply didn’t understand that Izzie wanted people to come to hear the choir for its own sake, or because they wanted to see what she’d done in her art centre; not because she was a young and single female member of the landed gentry.

Miss Isadora Spencer-Harris
cordially invites you to a magical festive evening at
The Cotswold Arts Centre, Chipping Swinton
to hear the renowned Cotswold Choir’s
Christmas Carol Concert
Saturday 21st December
7 p.m. for 7.30 p.m. start
£25 per ticket
Refreshments provided
RSVP by 18th December to Harris Park

Wrapping her stripy woollen scarf more tightly around her neck, Izzie breathed warm air over her cold fingers. Deciding it wasn’t cost effective to heat the church this late at night just for her, she gathered up the invitations, and with one last check that the polythene sheeting would keep the rest of her chancel roof in place overnight, Izzie headed home.

Izzie scooped up three Christmas cards from her doormat. A smile replaced her frown as she opened the first envelope to see a cartoon robin wishing her a Merry Christmas. Inside, beneath the seasonal greeting, her friend Megan had written Must meet up SOON! I’d love to see your new art centre.

‘Should I?’ Izzie was sure her dearest friend from college would help. Megan always helped. Izzie addressed the picture of the robin, ‘But won’t she be hugely busy at Pickwicks café this close to Christmas?’

Switching on her laptop, Izzie started to hunt for a replacement tradesman to help repair her church roof. Half an hour of searching later, and her quest was looking increasingly hopeless by the minute.

It was no good, if she wasn’t going to be forced to ask her parents to bail her out – which was an ‘over her dead body’ situation as far as Izzie was concerned – she needed alternative assistance. Izzie picked up her mobile before guilt at disturbing her friend’s life at Christmas overtook her.

‘Megan, thank goodness you’re there! How can I put this … help!’

Buy links 


With a background in history and archaeology, Jenny Kane should really be sat in a dusty university library translating Medieval Latin criminal records, before writing research documents that hardly anyone would want to read. Instead, tucked away in the South West of England, Jenny Kane writes stories with one hand, while working for a Distance Learning Company with the other.

Jenny spends a large part of her time in the local coffee shops, where she creates her stories, including the novels Romancing Robin Hood (Accent Press, 2014), the best selling contemporary romance Another Cup of Coffee (Accent Press, 2013), and the novella length sequels Another Cup of Christmas (Accent Press, 2013) and Christmas in the Cotswolds (Accent Press, 2014).
Jenny’s next full length novel, Abi’s House, will be published by Accent Press in 2015.

Jenny Kane is also the author of quirky children’s picture books There’s a Cow in the Flat (Hushpuppy, 2014) and Joe’s Letter (coming soon from Hushpuppy).

Keep your eye on Jenny’s blog at for more details.

Twitter - @JennyKaneAuthor

Facebook - 

Jenny Kane also writes erotica as Kay Jaybee. (

Monday, December 8, 2014

'The Hunger Games' Adult Parody: Woodrocket.Com Presents 'The Humper Games' #NSFW

(Woodland Hills, CA - Press Release) December 2, 2014 – After a giant opening weekend for The Hunger Games franchise, there is only one way for fans to celebrate...with the XXX parody, The Humper Games.

From the website behind the viral hits “Bob's Boners” and “Game of Bones” comes the adult spoof that will have you saying,  “May the odds be ever in your beaver!”

Welcome to The Humper Games, the sexiest competition of any dystopian future! As an 18-year-old Tribute, Kantmiss Everyween, must take her place in the 69thannual Humper Games. With the help of her friend, Puta, she must do everything in her power to survive a life-or-death contest filled with fighting, sex, talk show appearances, cat-calling, waiting for the next episode of Serial, getting her dystopian future iCloud account hacked, and hanging out with Lenny Kravitz.

Written and directed by Lee Roy Myers, and starring Veronica Vice, Aaron Wilcoxxx, Vuko, Kris Slater, and Seth's Beard, The Humper Games premieres exclusively on on December 2nd.

And stay tuned to for the sequels, Catching Firecrotch and Cockingspray Part 1 and Part 2.

Check out The Humper Games for free, only at is your source for free adult entertainment with a comedy and pop culture twist. With thousands of high quality adult movies & scenes like "Doctor Whore," as well as original web series like “James Deen Loves Food,” “Topless Girls Reading Books,” and “Stoya Does Everything.” and its content has been featured on Gawker, Gizmodo, The Hollywood Reporter, Jezebel, Esquire, Bon Appetit, Vice, Fleshbot, and more. WoodRocket even found its "Game of Bones" and "The Knobbit" parodies as a trivia question on the highly acclaimed Comedy Central game show @Midnight.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Thoughts on ‘Mockingjay: Part 1’ – With Spoilers

Readers who are sensitive to discussions of sexual abuse should be aware that it will be mentioned in the discussion below. There will also be SPOILERS for Mockingjay Parts 1 & 2. You’ve been warned.

We saw Mockingjay on Friday night. We didn’t sit in the back row and eat popcorn mixed with Milk Duds like Ethan Wate and Lena Duchanne, although that sounded awfully good when I was listening to Beautiful Creatures earlier in the week. We sat in the middle and didn’t eat anything, because we’d just been to Red Lobster. I had the lobster tacos (which, of course, made me think of the Simpsons joke. “I’ll have your finest food stuffed with your second finest.” “Very good, sir: lobster stuffed with tacos.”).

We arrived at the perfect time, as the commercials ended and the previews began. One of the previews was for Insurgent. The clip showed an action heroine Tris in a dream, bravely trying to rescue her mother Natalie (the ever-beautiful Ashley Judd) from a burning house careening through the air. Tit turned to me and said he’d just realized the same actress played Tris and Hazel Grace. Disney’s new live-action Cinderella movie looked very traditional, very close to the cartoon, but also very good.

We also saw the Night at the Museum 3 trailer. The movie looks fantastic  - it moves the setting to London, and Rebel Wilson (another one of my favorite Aussies, with the Hemsworth brothers) appears as a security guard. She gets to be sexy and do a British accent. Robin Williams plays Teddy Roosevelt, and it’s bittersweet to see his face on the big screen now that he’s gone.

Rebel Wilson also appeared in the trailer for Pitch Perfect 2, which I think I’ll also enjoy. I love me some Rebel Wilson and Anna Kendrick. They’re so funny and smart and pretty and really they can do no wrong – and I say this even after I’ve seen Kendrick’s screwball end –of-days comedy, which is…different. Pitch Perfect 2 also has our Effie Trinket, Ms. Elizabeth Banks.

Then Katniss Everdeen woke up from a nightmare in the bowels of District 13, pining for Peeta. Forced into a hospital bed, she reawakens to the sounds of Finnick’s tears.

Aw, Finnick Odair – how my heart aches. Finnick pines for Annie in a way that Katniss can’t yet understand. Her love for Peeta is mostly theoretical; Finnick and Annie’s bond is physical. He misses her with every cell of his body. They both know Peeta, Annie, and (my darling) Johanna are being tortured in the Capitol; they just can’t imagine the extent.

Finnick is still alive at the end of this movie, but he’s already gone on the air to tell the people what President Snow did to him. Fictional or not, it still makes me angry. All Finnick wanted was to marry Annie and have a quiet life with her, but Snow forced him to be passed around between the elites like a toy. Let’s be perfectly clear about this: there is no such thing as consent when you’re being coerced by the threat of having a loved one killed. Snow caused Finnick to be raped. In my mind, Snow might as well have raped Finnick himself. Forced prostitution makes Snow and his accomplices the lowest of the low.

Creative Commons image by dalekhelen
I don’t judge Finnick at all. He only did what he had to do to save Annie’s life. He has nothing to be ashamed of. I don’t judge consenting adults over the age of 18 for choosing sex work as a career, either, but Finnick didn’t choose it.

As if we needed another reason to detest Snow – we see him flat-out murder an entire hospital full of innocent wounded people in this movie. He’s scum. I’m trying to remember what President Alma Coin does in Mockingjay 2 that makes Katniss decide she’s scum, too.

But I like to think that once Finnick and Annie are reunited, they can't stop touching each other. They're both such damaged people, each other's presence is the only thing that keeps them going. I'd like to imagine that night is the night their baby is conceived. 

Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson both do some exceptionally good acting in this film. She has to make Katniss believably traumatized, and I thought she did, especially in her reactions to seeing the bombed-out, burnt remains of District 12. He has to portray the effects of psychological torture (something similar to MK Ultra, in fact), which he pulls off chillingly.

Creative Commons image by slackerwood
Hutcherson looked physically traumatized in this, gaunt and with a swollen face. He almost looks like Christian Bale in The Machinist. I hope this effect was achieved digitally, similar to how pregnant Bella Swan looked emaciated and near-death in Breaking Dawn Pt. 1 without risking Kristen Stewart’s health. I’d hate to think of an actor as young as Hutcherson putting himself through such a harsh physical regimen.

If this movie has one fault, it's not enough Johanna Mason. 

Of course, it’s bittersweet to see Philip Seymour Hoffman in his last role as Plutarch Heavensbee. He played the character so well, too. 

Remind me not to see the second part, though. I don't want to see some of the sad things that are going to happen. Reading the book was traumatic enough. 

One of the side effects of reading is that it helps us understand other people's lives better. Right now, the entire United States is upset with the large number of innocent Black people who've been killed by poorly trained, racially prejudiced Caucasian police officers, who then escape legal consequences. Some of the victims are as young as 12. They're Primrose Everdeen in real life, only we're powerless to volunteer in their places. Unless the militarization of the police and the snowball effect it creates are somehow stopped, revolution will come off the big screen, out of the pages of the books, and into the real world. 

Every young person deserves an equal chance to grow up safe and healthy. The odds should ever be in all our favors. 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Spirit Bound: Vampire Academy #5 of 6 - Spoilers

SPOILER ALERT! Read no further unless you want to know what happens in the second-to-last book in Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy series.

Overall, I'm very happy with a couple of developments in this book, but what a cliffhanger ending! I didn't expect anyone to assassinate Queen Tatiana. Sure, she was a bit of a difficult woman, and she and Rose naturally clashed - Rose Hathaway isn't the most easygoing of heroines either - but I never anticipated that someone would kill her. Much less that Rose would be accused of the murder!

The book begins with awful, awful Strigoi!Dimitri renewing his vow to find Rose and kill her. Rose is still harboring the hope that she can invoke the magic that will turn Dimitri back into the Dhampir she knows and loves. In fact, she'll go to any length just for a chance to make it happen.

Even if it means traveling to Alaska to break Victor Dashkov out of Moroi prison.

It isn't enough for Rose and a small cohort of her trusted friends to break Victor out, though - they also have to travel with him to Las Vegas. There he meets his brother, who claims to have changed a Strigoi back to her living form. Rose and Lissa learn the secret: a Moroi must stake the evil, dead vampire with a silver stake charmed with the fifth element, spirit. Good thing Lissa is a spirit user.

...As is Rose's current sort-of-boyfriend, Adrian Ivashkov. One must have a bit of sympathy for the beautiful, clove cigarette-smoking Vampire Academy graduate, who gets treated rather shabbily in this installment. He loves Rose, but she can't get over the possibility of having Dimitri back. Rose and Adrian come close to having sex in this book, but due to the lack of a nearby condom, she offers him her blood to drink instead.

Evil Dimitri kidnaps Lissa, as well as Christian Ozera, in a bid to lure Rose to him. Bloody mayhem and murder ensue - but Lissa eventually manages to drive her charmed stake into Dimitri. The magic works. He goes from murderous undead fiend to Dhampir with a heartbeat again. The Moroi are skeptical at first, and keep him locked in a guarded cell until an explanation can be found.

He refuses to see Rose. She sneaks in to see him anyway. On her second visit to him, he tells her, "Love fades. Mine did." Shut up, Dimitri - you still love Rose. You're just trying to run her off because you're scared of hurting her. We know he still loves her because when the Queen's guard comes to arrest her for murder, he throws his all into trying to defend her - until she literally screams for him to stop, that she won't resist.

Rose didn't kill Tatiana - she was sleeping beside Adrian at the time, post-blood donation - but I don't know who did. I anxiously await the next book, Last Sacrifice.

A Bulgarian edition
Oh, and it appears Lissa and Christian are back together, or at least on their way to being. I hope they get married - but even if they don't, it seems she has a long-lost sibling and will no longer be the only Dragomir. Will Lissa become the next queen?

I purchased this book with my own funds at my brick-and-mortar Barnes and Noble and was not obligated in any way to review it.

P.S. I saw the trailer for The Fault in Our Stars during the Vampire Academy movie. Tit Elingtin and I finally watched TFIOS on DVD on Monday night. I am emotionally devastated - and impressed with the performances by Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, and Nat Wolff all.

P.P.S. I can't believe my sweet Rose from the VA movie, Zoey Deutch, plays that awful Emily in Beautiful Creatures, now that I'm listening to the BC audio book. Emily in the book is a mean girl. Zoey, that doesn't sound like you! Rose is snarky, but not mean.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

'City Nights: One Night in Edinburgh' by Charlotte Howard (@Shy_Tiger)


Chloe Shard has traveled to Edinburgh to meet up with a potential client, and has just twenty-four hours to convince them to sign her contract. But when she meets the delicious Ethan, he proves to be so much more than an enticing distraction. It’s not long before Chloe has some life changing decisions to make, and less than a day to make them in.

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Chloe squeezed her eyes shut as the plane’s wheels bumped along the tarmac, and her stomach lurched into her chest as the brakes were applied. Her ears flooded with the sound of her own heart beating louder than the squealing and screeching of the landing gear. Pressure built in her cheeks as she clenched her teeth together.

The worst hour in her life was almost over.

“Welcome to Edinburgh,” said the captain over the speaker system. “We hope you had a pleasant journey and enjoyed the flight. Please remain seated with your seat belts fastened until the light is turned off.”

A chuckle emanated from nearby. Chloe opened one eye and peered at the man in the seat across the aisle from her.

“You can breathe again,” he said in an American accent, flashing her a grin.

“I think I’ll wait until my feet are actually on the ground if it’s all the same to you,” she replied, leaning back into the headrest.

A loud ping was followed by a Mexican wave of clicking as the passengers released their seat belts and fought to get their bags and rush off the plane. Chloe undid her own belt then hurriedly squished herself into the seat as an oversized belly, violently stretching at a pale green shirt, began its invasion of her breathing space. Her shoulder was nudged as the impatient woman beside her stood up, hunching under the overhead compartment.

She waited for the plane to empty. The impatient woman started huffing and tutting. Chloe looked up apologetically, but was met with a hardened glare.

“Here,” said the man from opposite. She turned her gaze towards him and was grateful to see him holding back a herd of cattle desperate to depart. She drank him in for a second. He was broad enough to act as a barrier between her and the crowd. A very attractive barrier. From the way his T-shirt stretched over his biceps, she could tell that his width was certainly not due to being overweight. Ink spiralled around his skin from beneath the short sleeve, tracing down to his elbow.

“Thank you.” She stepped into the aisle. Immediately, the woman from beside her shoved herself through the gap, knocking Chloe into the man’s chest with an oof!

“I’m so sorry!” she said, stepping back and turning to the overhead compartments, feeling her cheeks heat. Her fingers tingled with the memory of his muscular chest beneath them.

Charlotte Howard

Author Bio:

British author Charlotte Howard was born in Oman and spent much of the first part of her life flitting between Oman, Scotland, and England. Now settled in Somerset, Charlotte lives with her husband, two children, and growing menagerie of pets.

Her career as a writer began at an early age, with a poem being featured in an anthology for the East Midlands. Since then Charlotte has written many short stories and poems, and finally wrote her first full-length piece of fiction in 2010.

During what little spare time she has, Charlotte enjoys reading and writing (of course), spending time with her family, and watching action movies whilst eating curry and drinking tea.

Charlotte is an active member of Yeovil Creative Writers.

Social Media / Website links: \

Instagram: Choward_author