#Review: Flirting with Death, by @cerebraltart

Flirting with DeathTitle: Flirting with Death
Author: India Reid
Rating: 5/5 stars

“When they announced the comet approaching earth, she had to cope with only having six months left to live. But as it turned out, thanks to a perverted home invader, she only had a few minutes…

She thought that Michael Arthur, her sleazy man-child of a next door neighbor, was going to rape her after shooting her. When a mysterious stranger wearing all black appears, Michael seems to be in line for his just desserts, but the act of salvation doesn’t make up for the man’s strange, shimmering skin, or why she can’t look into his eyes for more than a few seconds, or how he could possibly know her name. And as it turns out, her salvation comes with a dark, intimate price– but is it one she’s willing to pay?

Fate may not have been on her side that day, but Death certainly was.

Warning: This 5400-word short story contains a badass, fearless woman, a sexy, smooth-talking man, earth-shattering orgasms, a passionate, emotional love scene and the just, timely death of a brony who was asking for it. Author is not liable for passionate swooning, vengeful urges or uncontrollable attraction to godlike entities. ” (description from Goodreads)

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I’ve been finding it more and more difficult to come across an erotic story that grabs me and keeps me reading to the end. With Flirting with Death, the story did just that. It starts out showing the promise of being well-written, and not only a story to get to the sex. Reid sets up a good voice for her main character. It’s an interesting voice as well due to the fact that she’s dying from the beginning. I found that start alone to be unique for a story the reader knows will become erotic at some point.

Also, just as I thought the story was going to get a bit awkward (see description and you might know what I mean) it doesn’t go down that route. There’s no unnecessary shock value here when it easily could have had some. And when it got to the more erotic later section of the story the author didn’t ease up in her skill to write a good scene. It was steamy and classy, which I admire in erotica. Get the reader into it, but not to go overboard.

I grabbed another story from this author, which seems to be set up in the same “world” as this one. I’m expecting to enjoy that one, as well. I wouldn’t mind seeing where Reid takes the characters from this story also, if she happens to write more with them.

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If you’d like to purchase a copy of this story, you can find it on:

Amazon

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About the Author:

India Reid is an American expat writer of alternative, cerebral erotica.  She has a sense of humor, just not a very good one.

Her writing is provocative, witty, and often charming, with thematic focuses on the psychological and philosophical.  Interests in science fiction, fantasy, horror and history have shaped her stories into tales of dangerous men and sharp-tongued women that transcend the pornography genre.

She loves men, women, film noir, tongue-in-cheek banter, literary theory, giant robots battling inter-dimensional alien invaders, failed revolutions and feminist liberation.  Most of her words come out heavily lubricated with whiskey and wine.

Her first full-length novels, With a Whimper and Hell on High Heels will release in September.

Find out more:

#Review: Four p.m. Plumber, by @AlisonTyler

4 P.M. PlumberTitle: Four p.m. Plumber
Author: Alison Tyler
Rating: 3/5 stars

“In this bonus story for Morning, Noon and Night,” Alison Tyler tells the tale of a woman lying in wait for her plumber to help her out. And we all know blue collar guys can be THE HOTTEST of all. You are in for a sweet surprise with this lovingly crafted story by one of the best erotica authors around!” (description from Goodreads)

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For a story only a few pages long, it had just enough story packed into it for a few minute enjoyable read.

There was one error near the middle that jarred the flow momentarily. For a work as short as this, even one error can change the overall experience. Also, the ending was predictable enough mainly because there are many erotic stories out there with this exact ending. I felt that if I hadn’t read the last bit, my overall enjoyment would have been more.

But still, overall, it was worth checking out and if it’s a taste of this author’s other work, I’ll be see what else she has to offer.

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You can grab this story free (at the time of posting) from the following ebookstores:

Amazon | B&NKobo

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About the Author:

According to the East Bay Literary Examiner, Alison Tyler is “Erotica’s Own Superwoman.” She’s also been called a “literary siren” and a “Trollop with a Laptop.” Her work has appeared in over 100 anthologies, including Sex for America edited by Stephen Elliott, Purple Panties edited by Zane, and Best Women’s Erotica 2010 edited by Violet Blue. She is the editor of 50 erotic anthologies, including the Alison’s Wonderland (Harlequin, 2010), and the author of 25 naughty novels, including Melt With You (Cheek).

Find out more:

#Classic Read: #Dracula by Bram Stoker

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DRACULA by Bram Stoker
Rating: 4/5 stars

In a huge, desolate castle in the dark forests of Transylvania, an Englishman is held captive and awaits his terrible fate. In a suburb of London, a beautiful young woman is plagued by a mysterious illness that seems to suck the very blood from her veins. it is an unspeakably evil force that threatens their lives: the centuries-old vampire, Dracula.

The extraordinary horror of this tale in which the restless dead are pitted against the living has held generations of readers spellbound (description from Goodreads)

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I’ve finally read it. It only took me about three attempts, but I’ve read the classic horror/vampire novel Dracula. I attempted the book a few years ago by both reading it and listening to it. At the time it just didn’t work for me. The epistolary novel isn’t always my cup of tea, even though the concept always gets me to check them out. I think when you throw epistolary and classic together, it’s almost certain to be a struggle for me because I always have trouble reading classics (nothing against them, the language, style, etc is normally just hard for me to enjoy a story through).

This third time, I have an audiobook version with a great cast and production value. I think that was the key to success for me. I was able to enjoy listening and be into it enough to get how the journal entries and letters made the book what it is (even if I feel it could have worked from one narrator as well with a slightly different way of bringing all the stories together, but I’ll save that for another day). The only thing I was disappointed with for the audiobook was that Tim Curry was listed high on the cast list…but we don’t get much of a performance from him. He does the narration for Van Helsing’s parts, and there aren’t that many of them. At the same time, I do think he was a good choice for that part.

So to the story, we all know the basics. I’ve seen a few of the film adaptations, I’m sure many of you reading this have as well, and maybe even read some adaptations. Many of us also know of the modern vampire mythology, whether it’s Twilight, Buffy, or any of the other vast interpretations (one of my favorites comes from Thomas Winship’s Vaempire’s series). How does Stoker’s early vision match up for the modern reader? Well, it was interesting how much has been taken from this mythology, and also how much seems to have been left behind. Yes, we’re still using stakes and beheadings. Garlic is even still a thing. But what about the deal with the tides and crossing bodies of water? For me, I haven’t seen that anywhere else. It was also interesting to see Stoker take a literary figure we seem to hold high up as a cunning, strong, and dangerous creature/man in the horror world and have Van Helsing say he has the brain of a child, compared to their “man brains”. There’s more to that than I’ll get into, but on the surface, it seemed strange that he’d feel the urge to write that this man, centuries old, would not have matured and become powerful in mind in order to overcome our heroes. He was too easily “outsmarted” in my opinion. From the beginning Dracula seemed to be the figure we all conjure up and able to outwit many.

How did I feel about the story overall? I was surprised to found that I enjoyed it almost completely. Yes, there were parts I felt had no need to be in there, and I also thought Renfield was somewhat unnecessary, even though I enjoyed his character. But after all, all readers have opinions on what is and isn’t “needed” in a book. All that matters is that the story was enjoyed and that this one in particular has continued to reach readers even 100 years later. Would I read it again? Probably not. But I’ve gained an appreciation for another classic (doesn’t happen every day).

What’s next? I don’t know yet, but I have a few books to follow this one up with in time. Should I read Dacre Stoker’s Dracula: The Un-Deadthe sequel from Stoker’s descendant? Or maybe I should read the copy of Sherlock Holmes vs. Dracula (by Loren D. Estleman) that I picked up recently? The possibilities are almost endless. What I do know is that I won’t be leaving vampires behind any time soon…as long as non-of them sparkle ;)

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If you’d like to grab a copy of Dracula to read yourself, it’s a public domain work and can be found free in ebook form from most stores and other resources online. Here are some of them:

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Project Gutenberg

And if you’d like to grab the audiobook version I read it’s over on Audible here. (note that there is a DRASTIC discount if you own the Kindle ebook version posted above.)

But if you would like a free version, Librivox has it:

Version 1 | Version 2

#Review: Twinkle and the Little Red Ball, by @PCMarotta

TwinkleTitle: Twinkle and the Little Red Ball
Author: P.C. Marotta
Illustrator: A.L. Houghton

Rating: 4/5 stars

“There once was a little Shih Tzu dog named Twinkle, who loved his little red ball more than anything in the whole wide world. This special little red ball went everywhere with him. But one day, it was gone! Will he ever see his little red ball again? Who will help him find his ball? Will you? Let’s help Twinkle and his friends find his ball then get creative with pages to color at the end of the story!” (description from Goodreads)

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This was a cute children’s book to read and it has a great message in it for children to learn from. I’m confident young readers (or listeners if they can’t read the book just yet) will enjoy the story and want to read it many times over. I wouldn’t be surprised if Twinkle and his other canine friends showed up in future books. They’re cute characters, great for a children’s story.

The only real issue I had was with the layout of the book. The illustrations were well-done, but I felt that they should have been on pages facing the text that corresponded with the image. Instead, the book starts out with text on page one, then on page 2 (the back of page one) the image that goes with the text is found. For a child, and even myself as an adult, I feel that it’d be a better experience to see the image while reading the text. Flipping to the next page for it didn’t work. I remember reading as a child and that the pictures were just as important as the words. But it might be a slight issue for others, that’d be overlooked quick enough.

Again, this would probably be a great addition to a child’s book collection. As an added bonus, there are a few pages at the end of the book with uncolored illustrations for a child to color in his/herself. I found that to be a nice touch.

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If you’d like to grab a copy of this book, you can find it:

Ebook: Amazon
Print: Amazon | B&N

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About the Author:

P.C. Marotta is an independently published author. Her books, Brooklyn Italian: A Memoir of Recipes of Days Gone By and In My Mother’s Kitchen take you back to a simpler time of family traditions, food and remembering.

Her newly published children’s book, Twinkle and The Little Red Ball is beautifully written with a section for children to color in the back. Illustrated by the very talented Amy Houghton from the United Kingdom, this book once again shows the uniqueness of the author. Always with a message, Twinkle and The Little Red Ball is a wonderful story which will entertain children while teaching them that no matter how different we all look, or where we may come from we can all come together as a team for any good cause.

She has appeared on Chicago’s WGN Lunch Break Show, Author’s First Radio Show, The Creative Life with Erin Denk Radio Show, Chicago’s Daily Herald Cook of The Week, The Lake County Journal, Fra Noi Italian Magazine and the UA Journal.

Her books are sold worldwide on Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble Nook in paperback and e-book format.

When not writing, she enjoys spending time with her husband and her beloved dogs.

Find out more:

#Review: Life After – Episode 1, by @JJHoldenWrites

LA- Ep 1Title: Life After – Episode 1 (of 20)
Author: JJ Holden
Rating: 4/5 stars

“Note: This is the first episode of Life After.

The ultimate fight against an American dictatorship is about to begin…

Following a civil war that left the United States in ruins, the remaining few who managed to escape the Imperialistic Army and the horrors of their death camps must unite and fight to reclaim their country.” (description from Goodreads)

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I’m not a reader who always jumps at the idea of a serial novel, but at times I do. Life After sounded like a good concept that could work for the serial form, so I took a chance with the first episode.

For being about 7k words long, I feel that the author was able to establish just enough of the world and a few characters to keep me intrigued to keep going in the novel. So far it doesn’t sound like there’s much to call unique about the story compared to many of the dystopic, near future in America stories/novels out there, but I don’t have much to base a solid opinion on yet. It seems like a good start, and has the potential to expand into a great novel.

I’ll have to see if I can get my hands on episode two (or debate on getting one of the many bundles available) and see where this story goes.

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Amazon | Smashwords | B&N

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About the Author:

J.J Holden lives in a small cabin in the middle of nowhere. He spends his days studying the past, enjoying the present, and pondering the future.

Find out more:

My Book Collection: Entry #2000 (and beyond)

Entry #2000? Are you wondering where the other 1,999 posts are? I hope so, because I was trying to be clever and confusing. If I failed, well, I hope you keep reading at least. I’ll try redeeming myself.

It’s common knowledge here on A Life Among the Pages that I have a LARGE collection of books. I mainly pay attention to my large print book collection, though my ebook collection is VASTLY larger, but it’s not as close to my heart (sorry authors I only have ebooks from. I still love you all).

I’ve been buying books for years. I’d say my real collecting started around 10th grade when I first discovered my local used bookstore (Catnap Books) when my mom started doing some work for them. I used to hang out there after my summer school class was done for the day. (What? Summer school? But you’re all smart and stuff…well, here’s another shock: It was because I failed English, 9th and 10th grade. Variety of reasons, but I actually enjoyed the summer classes better since we actually learned…crazy.) I don’t remember which book was my FIRST that I bought there, but I remember the first three: The complete tales and poems of Edgar Allan Poe, Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls (I saw the title and was like “wait, that’s a Metallica song. I need to see what probably inspired the song. Hemingway turned into one of my favorite authors), and Homer’s The Odyssey (a prose translation, but at the time I didn’t realize it was written in verse normally. It’s a 1930′s hardcover and that held some appeal as well.)

Things escalated from there, but the book buying madness really happened once I went to college. I was always in town only about a mile from the bookstore. I had a job. When you put that money and hours between class/work together it apparently equals: LET’S GO TO THE BOOKSTORE. I’d even drag people with me. Once I went to my second college my buying slowed a lot, but not fully. I didn’t have a job up there, but still has some pocket money at times and a used store above the hardware store in town. There was another one about 5 miles away I went to a few times on the bike and the library had Saturday morning sales. It was a great town for books!

Rambling much? Yea, happens a lot when I talk about books. I’ll fast-forward a bit now. Through the years, my collection grew and grew…and grew. I’ve only recently met fellow book lovers (mainly through the Internet) with collections equal or even larger (wasn’t sure that existed) than my own. It makes me feel like less of a weirdo to have so many books held in one room and to want it to keep growing. Once I hit 1,000 books, I thought that was a large amount. Turns out it’s almost nothing now. I’ve only recently having to be even more creative with storing them and room is running out. If you look back at my “How I Store All of my Books…Revisited” post from a few months back, you’ll see how I make them all fit.

Last weekend my girlfriend was up visiting and of course we went to the bookstore. I needed to buy 9 books to get to the 2,000 mark. I only got four. That meant that I needed to still get 5 more for the milestone and that #2,000 needed to be a special one. Well, yesterday I went around to some garage sales (since that’s what any good book lover will do on a weekend). I came home with #2,000 and MORE.

Still with me? I’m basically done now. I said what I wanted to say and I’m patting myself on the back for a job well done of getting to the big 2,000 mark. I’d just like to leave you with my purchases from yesterday and to share that 2,000th book.

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BOOKS 2, 3, 4, 5 OF BAUM’S OZ SERIES

I’ve read the first two, now I’ll get to at least #5 and will probably love them all

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I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER

I saw this in a used store earlier in the year but didn’t grab it. Kind of glad I didn’t since I got this copy for five cents. And yes, it’s what the movie(s) are based on. Didn’t know that until I found the book the first time.

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DEATH: THE FINAL STAGE OF GROWTH

Not my normal book choice, but I’ve heard her name in a few college courses over the years and figured I should actually read something by her instead of it just being a brief mention in a class.

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A CROWN OF SWORDS AND CROSSROADS OF TWILIGHT

I’ve yet to read Eye of the World (the first book, it’s on my summer read list), but I can’t pass up cheap copies of the series. I’m slowly getting them all. Here are #7 and #10.

#2000

(became #2000 as I entered it into my database…might not have been the “actual” #2000 bought over the course of the day.)

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HOWARDS END IS ON THE LANDING

I’ve been looking for this book after hearing about it on a podcast earlier in the year. I’m always up for a book about someone else reading and collecting books. I think it’s very fitting for this one to be a milestone book for me due to its subject matter.

“Early one autumn afternoon in pursuit of an elusive book on her shelves, Susan Hill encountered dozens of others that she had never read, or forgotten she owned, or wanted to read for a second time. The discovery inspired her to embark on a year-long voyage through her books, forsaking new purchases in order to get to know her own collection again.

A book which is left on a shelf for a decade is a dead thing, but it is also a chrysalis, packed with the potential to burst into new life. Wandering through her house that day, Hill’s eyes were opened to how much of that life was stored in her home, neglected for years. Howard’s End is on the Landing charts the journey of one of the nation’s most accomplished authors as she revisits the conversations, libraries and bookshelves of the past that have informed a lifetime of reading and writing.”

See, definitely the PERFECT book for a milestone. It’s about another booklover…and well-known author…who has a collection of neglected books, like mine. While I love each and every one of my books, I can’t read them all and don’t fool myself into thinking it’ll ever happen. But going through the stacks to reorganize or just to find a specific books brings back memories of when and where the book came from, the day surrounding that purchase, and a number of other things that come with books. The stories inside them will be fascinating, but the stories around the book as an object is also worth remembering and revisiting. That’s part of what my Aged Pages series is about, though I haven’t written it in a long time. I’d like to start up again and maybe get some readers to submit some of their own stories. (Hit me up here if you want to do that.)

So that’s it. A LONG post, but I hope it was enjoyable to read. I hope you’re all still around for #3000…and the reinforcement of my house to hold the weight ;)

Go, grab a book and savor it. Go read. Enjoy the day!

#Review: Destiny, by @KaleighM

DestinyTitle: Destiny
Author: K.C. Maguire
Rating: 4/5 stars

“In earth’s future, humans are becoming more like robots and robots are becoming more human. As Joe Baker’s friends and family undergo the Transition – a procedure enabling humans to upload their personalities into robotic replicas – Joe discovers that his android companion, Destiny, is developing sentience. And falling in love with him. Joe’s conflicted feelings about becoming a machine and his growing fondness for Destiny confuse him about his own future. His best friend, Cutler, is pressuring him to Transition before it’s too late. Does Cutler know more than he’s saying? If Joe Transitions, he can be with Destiny forever, but at what cost? As he pursues his options, Joe learns some startling truths about the Transition and the nature of humanity…and love.” (description from Goodreads)

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This story started out with an interesting premise. Technology has advanced so far that we can take our thoughts, personalities, and everything else that makes us (mentally) who we are, and download it into an exact artificial copy of our body. Androids are common place, as well as  an agency that’s purpose is to preserve species that are becoming extinct. It all sounds like a great future.

As the story progressed, I found myself becoming more and more interested in the way this world worked and the consequences it has on the individual, as well as humanity as a whole. There’s also a discussion to be made about the love between man and machine because the lines are blurred between the two with Joe and Destiny. I find myself thinking about it even hours after finishing the story.

The outcome was great, too. I found it a realistic way for the story to progress, even if it’s not the most positive conclusion. I can’t elaborate, to avoid spoilers, but I’ll say that I was glad to see it end this way because it helped elaborate on the way this future society handles things and it made me think back on it all, wondering : “What is humanity? What makes us what we are?”

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You can grab your own copy of Destiny from:

Amazon | B&N | Kobo

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About the Author:

Kaleigh Castle Maguire is a wife and mother of three who loves fiction writing and reading fiction of all genres. She has a particular passion for young adult and children’s books and is currently working on two young adult novels – one is a science fiction story for girls and the other is a fantasy action adventure for boys. She is a member of RWAAWP and SCBWI. She loves to blog about books, writing, and to interview new authors when she can get them to agree (which they happily do most of the time). She’s also a proud member of the Houston-based Space City Scribes author collective. In July of 2014, she joined the blogging team at Luna Station Quarterly, contributing interviews with women speculative fictions authors.

Kaleigh’s flash fiction has appeared in publications including Writers Type, Delta Women, Tough Lit, Black Petals Magazine, Six Minute Magazine, Midlife Collage, Everyday Fiction, and Luna Station Quarterly. She has three e-novellas published by Books To Go NowDestinyDear John, and Ivory Tower. In 2014, she came second in YA/MG/children’s category in the the Houston Writers’ Guild fiction contest for her draft fantasy manuscript, Halfling.

She has completed the fiction writing certificate programs at UCLA and Stanford, and is currently a student in the MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College of Fine Arts.

She has lived in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia, but home is wherever the family is.

Find out more: