Dec 31, 2014

My Top Ten Books of 2014

Here we are again! 

Top Ten Time!

Let's get right to it: 













If you click on any of the above covers,
you'll be taken to the book's page on Goodreads.

You're welcome!


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How about you? Tell me about your favorite ten books of 2014?!

Dec 15, 2014

On writing

Ah, Sandi. http://sandyquill.com
Last summer, I was messaging back and forth with author Sandi Layne about the pain of writing, and suddenly realizing that I was turning myself inside out in the story I had just finished, sharing so much of myself I felt quite lost.

She sent me the above message in response. It was my birthday, and what a gift.

Anyone who receives a message like this should feel heartened. Uplifted. Should feel slightly better. Because there is such truth in these few words.

But at the same time, it kind of kills you, because let me tell you, I am not a courageous woman. I have done a gazillion things in my life, mostly because I am stubborn and hardheaded and use sheer force of will to march through obstacles, but doing it just with and by courage?

Never.

Until writing happened.

Writing is probably the most courageous I have ever been, or ever have had to be. Because every time I try to cut corners and write for an audience, it falls flat on its face.

Just as, every time I try to write from the bottom of my heart, something happens and my words get wings. When I write to write.

~~~~

So much courage is needed to spill your heart out onto the blank pages of a piece of paper—or onto the screen of your computer, as it were. Nothing more daunting than that empty word document, cursor blinking in the upper left corner, waiting for you.

Even more courage is needed to later edit the living daylights out of the baby that you have birthed through pain and labor, but also through cackling glee and awesome rush of happiness.

You use your sadness. You write your anxiety. You make the reader live the drama that happened. Your strongest writing comes through, loud and clear, when you describe disaster striking. When a whole life crumbles in the chaos and madness of destruction.

When those things have happened to you, for real and in your life, you can either despair and go under, or you can USE IT in your writing. Or both. There is power in despair, when it most certainly can get no worse, it can only get better.

You have such power in your words. When you tap that specific river of personal knowledge. When you use it, and turn it around from having been something that hurt you (emotionally or physically) into something that whispers to people who are reading your words, whispers, until they themselves scream out loud—

“This is truth—this is real—OMG—I am IN THIS SCENE with the author, feeling her feelings, and seeing what she sees! I am dying, running, screaming, fainting, loving, hating, seeing, feeling utterly lost and blind. Everything. I experience everything.”

That. Is. Powerful. Magic.

There is such enormous power in that kind of writing.

To revisit your demons in writing is cathartic. You get to go there again, but you have the power now, and with millimeter-precision, you can excise the hurt. Turn the whole incident into something that YOU created, that YOU have power over, that YOU can use.

There is true greatness when, in the process, you get to take back your power.

It is how I deal with pain. I use it. Manipulate it. Force it, until it is totally mine and in a place where I can do with it as I please.

Those are powerful feels.

I know you see it. There is power to be had here. I hope you use it.

Because when you tap into that source, my friend, you get handed a pair of huge, huge wings—the kind that make you soar.

You f*cking soar.





Nov 30, 2014

Winner — National Novel Writing Month 2014


 


I did it again.

Gobsmacked.


My NaNo page—please, come be my friend there, and let's do it again this coming November!







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How about you? Have you done the NaNo-thing too? Want to tell me about it?




Nov 18, 2014

Pet peeves of a grammar nerd: Lie/Lay

Ginkgo tree (Ginkgo biloba) 

Hello, fellow grammar nerds!

Today, thought we'd talk about Mr Down, because apparently, a lot of people want to lay him.

No, wait, hear me out!

This is how I make sure I remember how to correctly use the verbs Lie and Lay, respectively.

Here is the deal:

Lie - Lay - Lain - Lying (as in: I lie on the couch now, I lay on the couch yesterday, I have lain on the couch for a week, I am lying on the couch)
and
Lay - Laid - Laid - Laying (as in: I lay the book on the couch now, I laid the book on the couch yesterday, I have laid the book on the couch every day, I am laying the book on the couch)

They are two different words. They mean different things. They act in different ways. They are not interchangeable. One doesn't need an object (the first one), and one absolutely needs an object (the second - the book).

So where does Mr Brown come into this whole mess? Well, when you write "I am going to lay down," it is wrong. Because it makes the word "down" into an object to be laid. What you wanted to say was, "I am going to lie down."

Let's turn down into Mr. Down, to see the error: when writing a sentence with lie/lay, use Mr Down. If it looks like you're having sex, you're using the wrong verb. 

So, every time I see someone writing "I'm going to lay down," I quickly ask myself:

"Who is this Down that everybody wants to lay? And can I have his number?"

The correct way to say it is: "I am going to lie down."






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How about you? Tell me about your pet peeve in the grammar jungle?! 






Oct 22, 2014

Pet peeves of a grammar nerd: On to/Onto

From MorgueFile, by Natureworks

Hello, fellow grammar nerds!

Today, I want to talk about On to, and Onto.
Because, you see, they are not the same. The two not interchangeable.
They are two different animals completely, and the jungle needs them both.

To decide which one to use, ask yourself:

AM I actually putting/walking onto something? Like, "I walked onto the terrace." Or, "He threw the book onto the desk." Or, "She stepped onto the stage."

Because, if you can swap it for "upon" you can certainly use "onto."

But if it doesn't mean "upon," then it is because it is not behaving as a true preposition...because "on" is often a particle in a verbal phrase. Yup. It hangs out with verbs. It sticks to the verbs, instead of sticking to its brother "to."

It can be as easy as this: "I hang on to hope," where the verbal phrase is "to hang on (to something)." You don't "hang upon hope," so it's not a preposition.

It's a particle in a verbal phrase. It belongs to the verb. The verb gets upset if it settles with the late-comer "to."


So, rule of thumb: If you can swap it for "upon," then you can use "onto."
If you can't, then use "on to."




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How about you? Tell me about your pet peeve in the grammar jungle?! 




Sep 19, 2014

A Silent Challenge

Yesterday, I read the combined blogposts written by Cody Kennedy and Timmy Ashton—and they blew me away.

And when I leaned back and tried to get my bearings again, I knew, deep inside, that I had to take Timmy up on his challenge to not speak for a whole day. At all. Just use pen and paper, body language, and/or sounds, but no words.

You see, they both wrote about not talking. Not having speech as a tool. See Cody’s words here, and Timmy’s words here—more eloquent guys are difficult to find, which makes it all the more amazing to try to step into their shoes, if just for one day.

Now, I know full well that I can never understand what it is like to not be able to speak to the people who surround me. To only be able to write or sign (to those who understand sign language). I will never be able to step into those shoes, because, let’s face it: when I need to talk I can just. Talk.

So what happened with this challenge? 
After eighteen hours of this silence I am exhausted.
Discouraged.
Sad.
And so very appreciative of what Cody and Timmy and lots of other people go through every day.
I still have six hours to go, and I can’t wait to be done. I am sad, and feel insecure, and I just want to go to my bed and pull my blankets up around my nose and wait for tomorrow.
And yet. Everyone I met was nice, more or less. Some were a bit obnoxious, like the woman who started to speak LOUDER at me, when she read my note saying that I didn’t speak. As if that was any part of the problem.

Let me take you by the hand, and lead you through my day. 
It started with me writing good morning to mr anna and then scribbling Have a good day, see you later. It felt completely empty. Mr anna is a good sport, so I got a kiss and a smile, and then I was on my own.
 I am a technical translator, and I work from my home office, but I had to divert four business phonecalls to texting Skype chats instead of speaking with my clients directly, and three were okay with it, the fourth said he had no time for bullshit, and hung up. Well, goodbye, buddy, I don’t want to work for you anymore, anyhow.

Procrastination. Why, yes.
Then I realized that I was procrastinating, trying to find things to do in the office, to avoid going out and interacting with people. And this was the first sign that something was different, indeed. I have never hesitated to go out and seek contact before.

“I do not speak” 
I got in my car, and drove to a mall nearby, I was thinking McDonalds, some fries and a coke. I can honestly say that I have never been that nervous waiting to order anywhere before. Lunch hour rush, and there I was, standing in line with my note pad and pen.

My first scribble was “I do not speak”. 

I showed the young woman this, and she smiled, and said “Sure thing! Hello!” That seriously made me tear up a little bit, she was so nice. Casual.





“PREGO: You’re welcome”
Then I showed her my note for the food I wanted, ending my order with, “Please.” She turned on her heel, took off and got my stuff together, told me how much it was, gave me my money back, and then asked for my note pad.

She wrote “You’re welcome” at the bottom of my order.

I smiled so wide I thought my face was going to crack in two. After finishing my snack, I waved at her, and got a smile back, even though she was very busy.



But that was a false start
to my challenge. The next stop wasn’t going to be that much fun. At the cosmetics shop (OMG, right? I never go into those) the girl got very nervous when I showed her my note that I don’t speak. It made her speak louder at me, as if that was my problem, that I didn't hear well. At first, she wanted to help me, and then she just ended up ignoring me. At the checkout she didn’t make any eye contact at all, filled my small bag up with samples without any explanation, like she wanted to give me all the stuff if I would only get out of her store.

It was deeply unsettling.


Fashion store and Anna—not a good mix
I took a deep breath before entering a fashion store next. Two clerks circled around me at once, all smiles. I gesticulated, to let them know them I just wanted to look around, and then showed them my note saying that I don’t speak. The both dropped off like I was contagious.
Not even a smile.
No small talk.
No, “Look around and let us know if you need any help.”
No nothing.
Not even a wave in response to mine when I exited the shop. They ignored me completely.

It made me really, really angry. Needless to say, I won’t be going back to that store.

“A tepid cappuccino, please.”
Time for coffee
Thinking I might be ready for a coffee at that point, I headed over to the corner bar. Same procedure, I showed her that I don’t speak, and then scribbled “A tepid cappuccino, please.”
I got it, and together with the change she gave me an Italian “corno,” a stupid, little, red plastic horn, which supposedly brings luck to the superstitious. I guess she really thought I needed it.

My cappuccino was steaming hot, and I burned my palate. Made me very upset.




I was changing
I was just done with the mall. I noticed myself changing, with every minute of this Not-Speaking-thing. I noticed I stopped making eye contact, to avoid having to answer a potential question. Or, not answer it, as it were.
I became shy, avoiding, wanting to go home.
Not me at all. Scary thing is, it took only about an hour to get me to this point.

At the stables
So I pushed myself to go to my stables, to friends, and my sweet horse, Moro. The one close friend I have there already knew that I was going to do this challenge, so that felt good, like I’d have an ally there.
Of course, shit always happens, it blows up in your face, because she wasn’t there, and the people who were there, are the ones I don’t much like to interact with even on a good day. So when they saw my note, there was endless riling and giggles, and one of the older guys (of course, one of the men) said to the others, “Well, that was to be expected, stupid foreigner that she is. What an idiotic thing to do, stop talking just for fun.”

I was fuming. But nothing I could say (even had I used my voice) would have made any difference what so ever with those guys, so I took off, out into the paddoks to see Moro. He saw me from far away, and came running. I think maybe I cried a little bit in relief. There are many emotions hidden in the manes of horses, safely guarded.
We took a walk together where he could get a bite of fresh, green grass, and I could feel connected again.
Thank DOG for horses.

After an hour with Moro, I was feeling more like myself again, because this is one soul who never expects words from me, who never wants my voice, who just is happy to be by my side. It is healing to be with him. As I drove away from the stables, I thought about my two cats waiting for me to come home, and again, thank DOG for cats.

Six hours left
Now I’m waiting for mr anna to get home in a couple of hours, and a silent dinner and evening. I know he has an online game lined up tonight, so me, I’m probably going to be chatting with YOU guys!

So thankful for you all. So thankful for my voice, because this has been one of my worst days in a long time.

I cannot even begin to say how much I admire you two, Cody and Timmy, for living this, for surviving this, day in and day out. And I am more than ever determined to be the voice of those who have none.

It is also my responsibility to make sure all voices are heard.


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How about you? Are you ready for a challenge like this? 


Aug 24, 2014

Favorite Books


There is this Facebook tag game going around—which is actually quite cool—where you get to tell everyone of your favorite books.
As a reviewer, this was almost painfully hard, as I read so many good books. So I sat down and thought about the books that have really meant something to me, through the years, and came up with this list.

Here is how it worked:

I was tagged by M LeAnne Phoenix and Srae Lizess to "List 10 books that have stayed with you in some way. Don't take more than a few minutes and do not think too hard. They do not have to be the "right" books or great works of literature, just ones that have affected you in some way."
 
Well, here is my list, starting with 2 books from my childhood, 1 book for growing up a strong woman, 1 fanfiction story that woke me up and shook me alive, and then finally 6 books from the wondrous land of M/M:

1. Philippa Pearce, "Tom's Midnight Garden"
2. Astrid Lindgren, "The Brothers Lionheart"
3. Clarissa Pinkola Est├ęs, "Women Who Run With the Wolves"
4. Just4Ale, "The American Vampire Series" (fanfiction, because reasons)
5. Cody Kennedy, "Omorphi"
6. Sarah Black, "The General and the Horse-Lord"
7. Julio-Alexi Genao, "When You Were Pixels"
8. TJ Klune, "Into This River I Drown"
9. Con Riley "After Ben" (and the two sequels)
10. S.a. McAuley, "An Immoveable Solitude"
and the sixtyeleven other books that didn't make it to the list? Gaah, to tag a reviewer? Not nice!! *gigglesnort*


Then I was tagged again, by Timmy this time, and I thought I'd do something different.

So I listed my favorite books about how to relate to your horses, softly. These men and women have taught me how to stop and listen, how to sit down and wait. Because the horse will seek you out, if you are quiet and wait patiently.

1. Buck Brannaman, "The Faraway Horses" (and sequels)
2. John Lyons, "Lyons On Horses" (and sequels)
3. Xenofon, "The Art of Horsemanship" (ca. 350 BC)
4. Henry Blake, "Talking with Horses"
5. Pat Parelli, "Natural Horse-Man-Ship"
6. Alexandra Kurland, "Clicker Training for your Horse"
7. Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling, "Dancing With Horses"
8. Lucy Reece, "The Horse's Mind"
9. Linda Tellington-Jones, "The T-Touch"
10. Monty Roberts, "The Man Who Listens to Horses"


Most of these authors have written several books, I'm just adding one for each here. Some are better than the others, and my personal preference will always be Buck Brannaman. He is a fantastic storyteller, and the original horse whisperer. (You'll notice that the book by Nicholas Evans is NOT on my list).

So, there you have it. If you want to know about horses (and the beautiful men and women who follow them closely) start with Buck Brannaman.

There is something with the outside of a horse that speaks directly to the inside of a person.

Thank you, Timmy, for tagging me, so that I could do this list, too. I suddenly feel like I have to read all these books again!

Oops. Those were eleven books. Well, dang!


©Art by AnnaLund/2014


Jul 10, 2014

The Power of Positive

 There is this thing going around on Facebook where you get tagged from a friend asking you to list three positives in you life.
I love this concept, and if we could only concentrate more on the GOOD, maybe the world would be a better place?

Jase Glines (from Jase's Athenaeum!) tagged me to list three positives for today. I feel both honored and happy to have been chosen by him, because he is a person I greatly admire.



Three positives in my life right now:
1. The people I spend my days with on Facebook. You have made my life richer in ways you might not even understand.

2. I am alive, and you are alive. Yes, you! The one who is reading this! That is not only positive, it is goddamn AMAZING! So grateful that you are in my life. Please stay. Have a cookie. Jase made them!

3. A huge positive in my life, finally, are words. The words you write me, the words I read in books, the words I write myself. I thank you all for WORDS. They take me by the hand and lead me to faraway places. To places where there are mermaids, and unicorns, and dragons, and love, so much love.

There are of course a million other things that are positive in my life, like horses, family, sunshine, good food, the ocean, watercolor painting, etc... but this excercise was just to get us all started:

STARTING THE GRAND-SLAM POSITIVE THINKING MOVEMENT OF THE EARTH!

Sending this on to Mel Leach, Deeze Browne, and Sandra Fictionnook.

Have at it, ladies! 


*blows a kiss to Jase*



©Art by AnnaLund/2014

Jun 10, 2014

LGBT Pride Month, June

What LGBT Pride means to me as an ally and as a human being:
It means we all have the same worth, we are all equal, and we all have the right to live a happy life.

I decided already many years ago to always speak up when hearing slurs from people around me, be it about race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. I make a point in never letting a slur pass me by without a comment, a protest, a discussion, a full on rage-filled thermo-nuclear war—which one it is going to be depends largely on the person in front of me. Because I can ride that horse just as fast as it can run. And I stand up for my friends.

A few days ago, I met a pitiful and rabid man in a social setting. This man was full of hatred. Hatred of the unknown, hatred of people, of women, of foreigners, and possessed a deep hatred for most everything in his life. (See why I used the term "pitiful" up there?) But instead of informing himself, of educating himself, of simply going out and learning, thus conquering this hatred, he had decided to simply concentrate on his hate of the whole gay community. I guess that felt easier for him. God knows it's exhausting to hate.

This man specifically had opinions about the Pride that is taking place in Milan at the end of the month of June (Milano Pride, 23-28 June, 2014, in case you are planning on going!) and was whining about the silliness of it all, and how "the terrible, terrible trans,"—as he called them—"will destroy the Italian youth." He moaned about, "Why do they have to walk around in demonstrations dressed like that? Why can't they just stay at home? You don't see US walking around having Prides for being straight."

Yeah, I couldn't very well let that one pass by, could I?

I took a couple of minutes of my time to educate him on several issues, and to set him straight on quite a few uses of terminology. It did not end well for the man in question. I am quite certain I did not sway his mind, but several other people at the table had interesting points of view after my rant, and it turned into a very nice evening of good discussions and eye-opening moments for some of them. No, not for him, he was mostly sitting there, seething.

Of course, no Italian man worth his salt is supposed to take an intellectual beating, in public, by a 6 ft blond Swedish woman, so his ego is probably still smarting today.

I'm not going to go into the whole He said then I said then she said-thing here, but the point is, we can all change and inspire people, or simply make somebody curious to know more. It takes so little, and those of us who are allies have so much work to do. There was truly a feeling of new insight around the table that night.

Just as the best men in my life have always stood up for me and my rights as a woman, I can stand up and defend the rights of my friends around me. It is what you DO, you stand up for your friends.

It takes so very little to open people's minds.

And what I cannot for the life of me understand is:

Why would it matter to that man who you might love?

Why would it matter to that man whether your genitals are both on the inside or both on the outside of your bodies? Or whether they are one on the inside and the other on the outside?

Why would it matter to that man what you do in full consent with your partner in your private bedroom?


Is not the important thing, in this life, that you have found somebody to love? 

So, to wrap this post up, to me Pride means we all have a job to do to help our friends.
It also means that we all get to love whomever we choose to love, regardless of gender, religion, race, or sexual orientation. We get to love.

Because, you know what?

The opposite would mean hate. And that's one thing I am totally against, hate.

I am not a hater.

I am a lover.  



©Art by AnnaLund/2014

May 24, 2014

Book Review - Omorphi, by C. Kennedy

High school senior Michael Sattler leads a charmed life. He’s a star athlete, has great friends, and parents who love him just the way he is. What’s missing from his life is a boyfriend. That’s a problem because he’s out only to his parents and best friend. When Michael accidentally bumps into Christy Castle at school, his life changes in ways he never imagined. Christy is Michael’s dream guy: smart, pretty, and sexy. But nothing could have prepared Michael for what being Christy's boyfriend would entail. Christy needs to heal after years of abuse and knows he needs help to do it. After the death of his notorious father, he leaves his native Greece and settles in upstate New York. Alone, afraid, and left without a voice, Christy hides the myriad scars of his abuse. He desperately wants to be loved and when he meets Michael, he dares to hope that day has arrived. When one of Michael’s team-mates becomes an enemy and an abuser from Christy’s past seeks to return him to a life of slavery, only Michael and Christy's combined strength and unwavering determination can save them from the violence that threatens to destroy their future together.



As you know, I don't write recaps of the story (read the blurb), nor do I fill my reviews with spoilers. This is my experience of the story. My connection to it.

AND WHAT A STORY IT IS.

Christy. You had me, hook, line, and sinker, already when you were sitting up on the bleachers, watching Michael from afar. His #1 Fan.

How somebody can take this subject matter and gently turn it into something so brilliant and elegant, is beyond me. Child abuse, sexual child abuse, in a story that has me cry like a baby and laugh like few books before, without ever even potentially falling into the horrifying trap of exploiting the abuse for the reader's "pleasure"?

Simply amazing.

Even the (quite tame, young and loving) sex scenes are never graphic nor exploiting. All power is, thanks to Michael, left in Christy's hands, for him to rediscover sexuality, love and discover Mike.

There is the one scene that just killed me dead, when Christy says he is glad that at least Michael is a virgin, and Michael responds:

"You are too. You have never been touched by someone who loved you."

There is so much in this book that just totally rocked. Or had me sitting in the corner, rocking.

The only parts that grated on my sense of correct storytelling were about the slacker security, and while I understand that it was to make the story more interesting, seriously, it just managed to annoy me, and took half a star off my rating.
Nuff said.

One of the most charming characters was to be found on the sidelines: young Lisa. She was a force to be reckoned with, and by god I loved that. More and more intelligent women-side-characters are appearing also in m/m books these days, and I applaud it.

There were people from different continents and several colors in this story, and they all had their own voice. That is quite unusual, so extra kudos for that. (I have no idea if the Greek written in the book was correct, but the Italian could have benefited from a helping hand from a native speaker).

What is great with a story like this is that this was an MC I could really root for. Every step Christy took in the right direction was a screaming victory and I adored him so much for his strength. Even when he froze and walked in the wrong direction. To eventually bolt like a rabbit. God, I screamed for him, rooting so hard.

There is so much understanding about abuse and power play in this story that I am left shattered at the end. But mended, somehow, by the fine example of NEVER GIVING UP ON YOUR FRIENDS.

You stand up for your friends. Every. Single. Time. 

And the cover of the book? That is seriously such a perfect image of Christy. I kept closing the book, and looking at the cover for minutes on end.

Beautiful.

Omorphi.

Indeed.

***

I received a free ARC from the publisher, Harmony Ink/Dreamspinner Press. A positive review was not promised in return.

Disclaimer: Since reading and reviewing this book the first time in September 2013, I have become friends with the author, who has gifted me with a paperback copy. It is simply beautiful.

On my list of Top-Ten Reads of 2013


Find and buy this book at Harmony Ink/Dreamspinner Press

Apr 22, 2014

Pet peeves of a language nerd: translation vs. interpretation

From MorgueFiles, by mconnors

Hello, fellow language nerds!

Today, I want to talk about the fact that so many people still think that translation is the same thing as interpretation.

The two skills may seem to be the same, but are, in actuality, two very different ones.

Not only that, but these skills appear in two wildly different kinds of people: an introvert perfectionist thrives as a translator, when an extrovert communicator is the perfect person to become an interpreter.

Let's straighten the concept out a little bit:
Simply put, translations deal with the written word,
whereas interpretation deals with the spoken word.

The translators sit quietly in their offices, translating, using dictionaries and resources at will—it is a perfect job for our introverts. They can sit there for hours, going back and forth, perfecting the phrase and making sure all the technical terms are Just So.

The interpreters are is usually out and about, in settings where their services are needed: in a booth at a conference, with headphones and microphone. Or standing beside the client whispering a rendition of the words being said in the client's ear, called chuchotage.

An immigration officer may call upon an interpreter to have a conversation with a person who might be seeking asylum.
A translator is often called, too, to translate the documents the potential asylum-seekers bring with them.

To interpret, you need to be fast as a flash, have a wild memory for the smallest details, and not be prone to losing your thread. Because if you lose it, in this setting? You lose your job.

To translate, you need to be a perfectionist and a nit-picker, and you will probably work mostly toward your mother-tongue, as it is nigh-on impossible to be an excellent translator in both directions.


So there you go, the difference between Interpretation and Translation.





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How about you? Did you know this?
Tell me about your pet peeve in our language jungle?! 







Jan 28, 2014

Buy a paperback and also get the eBook?


I don't know if you are all aware of the fact that buying a paperback book with Dreamspinner Press also gives you the right to download the eBook. I find this absolutely charming. Brilliant.

Are other publishers doing this too?

And wouldn't it be just FABULOUS if it were the other way around? (Or, at least, heavily discounted). First, you get the eBook becasue you want to read it NOW, and then you love it so much that you want to have the DTB in your shelf. Just to look at it. Touch it.

Is there a publisher out there that gives you a discount on the paperback if you've already bought the eBook? 

~~~~~~~~

Are you a publisher? Would you consider doing this for your readers?
And if you are a reader—would you like this feature, too?



Jan 21, 2014




You know, when you get a new follower on Booklikes or Goodreads?

And you promptly go to his/her profile to see who this new person might be?

Me?

I hear Telly Savalas in my mind, as I click on the Followers button...

"Who loves you, baby?"

It is endlessly amusing to me.

Please, keep following me. I'm just having one of those days—and I have 1.037 followers on Booklikes, so I must be doing something right.




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How about you? Do you do that too? 








Jan 11, 2014

Book Review – Freeing Stella, by Zoe Lynne

Stella Marshall feels invisible to everyone but her sister Jessica and best friend Jenna. Thanks to their Friday night LGBTQ youth group meetings, she can be true to herself and cast aside the boy she was born as, Steven. The rest of the time, she locks herself away, because if her super conservative, Christian parents ever found out…. When her little sister admits to liking a girl as more than a friend, it becomes ten times harder for Stella to keep up the charade. She wants to stand by Jess and take some of the heat away, and that means coming out of the closet—even if it costs Stella her family and the girl of her dreams, Lillian Nelson. Unfortunately, it’s too frightening to give up the security of hiding behind Steven. But Stella knows she has to be brave, for herself and her sister.




An absolutely lovely and short story (around 100 pages) about coming out a girl in a boy’s body. About family, siblings, parents, and close friends.

True to my usual form, I have jumped feet first into a series at #2, but it was totally standalone, and I will run and buy book #1 as soon as possible.

To free the person stuck inside the wrong body must be devilishly difficult. This story takes a beautiful look at how Steven struggles to become Stella, and how she manages to stay true to herself.

I am not a religious person, but I loved how there was also talk about how there are churches that accept you as you are, churches that don’t condemn you before even knowing you. Look for them! Search them out, if you need them!

This is a great book for young people, adolescents, who are looking for answers, and maybe finding that they are not so strange as they feel inside. Adolescence is a difficult moment at the best of times, and feeling lonely is a big part of that. Here, a young person can see how it is to be unique, not lonely.

There is no sex, only two sweet kisses, so if you are looking for something to put into the hands of your young ones, (perhaps 12-18?), you can relax. There is no talk of bits and pieces either, quite unusual for a transgender book. Very refreshing.

I found the story absolutely charming, with a little moment of angst, and then full of love and understanding—even though there, at first, was quite an upheaval within the family.

I adored the best friend’s mother, who told Stella there would always be room for her in her home, if needed. That is how you act as an adult, that is how you take responsibility for all our children, not just the ones that are straight and your own. Kudos for showing a real human being.

Warmly recommended. Will look for more books from this author, who says in the afterword that she wants to write stories for young people for whom very few stories exist.

I approve with all my heart.

Favorite sentence:

“I love you, I don’t understand you, but I love you.”


***

I was given a free copy of this book by the publisher, Harmony Ink Press, and a positive review wasn’t promised in return.



Find this book at: Harmony Ink/Dreamspinner Press

Jan 4, 2014

Book Review – The Three Miracles of Santos Socorro, by Sarah Black

Abraham needs a Christmas miracle or three. His lover Santos wants to play with masks, his brother is searching for a gay bear, and now Abraham's been cursed by that expert tamale maker and grandmother Magdalena Socorro. 
















I won this book with a limerick, and I am damn proud of it, too. The prize was supposed to be an Idaho spud, but those monstrosities are notoriously difficult to send overseas, so Sarah gave me this book instead.

LUCKY ME!!!

It is totally charming.

A sweet bear of a Jewish chocolate maker dates a Hispanic detective without any of the two being exactly clear on how much actual dating is going on. Mix in a hilarious gang of kickass relatives of Santos'—ladies of the tamale persuasion—and it is cooking! Recipes galore! Sweet and hot (the recipes, mate, get your mind out of the gutter!) and plenty of action. Actually, there's a lot more sensual action than I am used to from this author, but I am not complaining.

The Padre fainted, however.

God I love every word that comes out of this author. Every single one.

Favorite line?
Here:

“Well, he’s Muslim, you’re Jewish, I’m Catholic. We could join hands and sing Kumbaya for world peace.”

If you like tamales and other hot south-western stuff, there’s also a great recipe for mole in here. Come get it!


***

I received this book after winning the limerick contest on the Meet the Author Sarah Black-event on Goodreads. A positive review was never part of the deal.


Find this book at: Amazon