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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Book Review: Beauty's Kingdom (Sleeping Beauty #4) by A.N. Roquelaure (pseudonym), Anne Rice

Beauty's Kingdom (Sleeping Beauty #4)
by A.N. Roquelaure (pseudonym), Anne Rice

Hardcover, 368 pages
April 21st 2015 by Viking

Mega-bestselling author Anne Rice, writing as A. N. Roquelaure, returns to the mysterious kingdom of Queen Eleanor in this new chapter of her Sleeping Beauty series. When the great queen is reported dead, Beauty and Laurent return to the kingdom they left twenty years before. Beauty agrees to take the throne, but she insists that all erotic servitude be voluntary. Countless eager princes, princesses, lords, ladies, and commoners journey to Beauty’s realm, where she and her husband usher in a new era of desire, longing, and ecstasy. Provocative and stirring, Rice’s imaginative retelling of the Sleeping Beauty myth will be adored by her longtime fans and new readers of erotica just discovering the novels.

This book is intended for mature audiences.

This is a review of the trilogy as well as Beauty's Kingdom

Sleeping Beauty Trilogy review
Until this year, I’d never read A.N. Roquelaure’s infamous Sleeping Beauty series. Sure, I’d heard via word of mouth that Anne Rice wrote an incredibly erotic fairy tale series under a pseudonym; however, I’d never taken the time to investigate. As an Anne Rice fan, I know how sensual her writing can be and when the opportunity to review Beauty’s Kingdom presented itself, I eagerly volunteered. And so, I embarked on a journey to binge-read the first three Beauty books, to prepare for my review of the fourth installment. I’d read erotica before, I was prepared, or so I thought.

Reading The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty, Beauty’s Punishment, then Beauty’s Release in quick succession can be likened to eating a triple chocolate cheesecake in one sitting; it’s enjoyable and sinfully delicious, but in the end you’re likely to feel nauseous. I don’t fault the texts per se, but rather my process. When the books were re-released in recent years, they bore the tagline, “If you liked Fifty Shades of Grey, you’ll love the Sleeping Beauty Trilogy.” Rice herself evokes Fifty in her defensive preface to the new editions from 2012. I’d like to make something clear: Sleeping Beauty and Fifty are vastly different trilogies. They both chronicle BDSM sex, yes, but they are worlds apart. In order to enjoy the Beauty trilogy, one must be capable of transcending every preconceived notion one has about sexual relationships, preference and orientation, monogamy and methods. There were many times I struggled with this, but I endured.

The books chronicle the lives of naked pleasure slaves, who, for a predetermined term, serve in the kingdom and are subject to the whims and fancies of a multitude of masters. The goal is for pleasure slaves to learn the art of sexual pleasure, but to also learn humility and ultimate self-control. The minimalist plot in the Beauty trilogy is propelled by colourful characters and their graphic sexual encounters. Rice is endlessly creative in her descriptions of sex, sexual implements, and sexual participants. The language is poetic, rich and dense, kinda like cheesecake, and the sex is so outrageous, it needs to be carefully and slowly digested.

Beauty's Kingdom review
This brings me to the current installment, Beauty’s Kingdom. This fourth volume in the series can, in many ways, be set apart from the originating trilogy. It has been written over 20 years after Beauty’s Release and the realm has been reloaded, so to speak. Within the text, Queen Beauty and King Laurent have been asked to rule over Queen Elenor’s kingdom following a shipwreck that has left the queen and her son, the crowned prince, lost at sea. It has been 20 years since Beauty and Laurent were used as naked pleasure slaves and the request is both tantalizing and overwhelming. They agree to assume rule of the realm provided they are permitted to make crucial changes to the pleasure slave structure. These changes make this text far more palatable and acceptable for a mainstream readership. If Fifty-type readers are being marketed to for Rice’s new erotica, these changes were crucial. Many of the more problematic and troubling aspects of the original trilogy have been corrected through, well, political correctness. Rice reworks the realm to settle the mainstream reader’s nerves surrounding issues of age, feminism, ethnic diversity, and consent. As the text unfolds, Queen Beauty’s kingdom comes to represent a mature sexual utopia of perfect and beautiful democratic acceptance.

The newest installment was, for me, a more palatable sojourn into fantastic erotica. I found it less an exercise in challenging my own sexual mores and more an entertaining read. This book can be read as a standalone, I think, and, if you’re new to erotica or on the periphery, that’s exactly what I suggest. Rice does a good job of seamlessly recapping the past. The payoff in reading the first three books is that you are rewarded with closure in discovering what has befallen numerous intriguing characters. But there are new, equally formidable characters, like Lady Eva, who is a wonderfully fierce female heroine in this novel. So, if you plan to try this book, approach it like triple chocolate cheesecake; take it in slowly, one sliver at a time, and perhaps even share it with someone special.

4 sheep

Bianca Greenwood

About the Author:
Anne Rice (born Howard Allen Frances O'Brien) is a best-selling American author of gothic, supernatural, historical, erotica, and later religious themed books. Best known for The Vampire Chronicles, her prevailing thematical focus is on love, death, immortality, existentialism, and the human condition. She was married to poet Stan Rice for 41 years until his death in 2002. Her books have sold nearly 100 million copies, making her one of the most widely read authors in modern history.

She uses the pseudonym Anne Rampling for adult-themed fiction (i.e., erotica) and A.N. Roquelaure for fiction featuring sexually explicit sado-masochism.

37 New Book Releases in Speculative Fiction for April 21

Check out the new releases this week. Couple of popular authors and a whole lot of new ones for you to try.

Check out this week's WTF-ery. Love this title.

When Bad Meets Good (Inherited Damnation Series book 5 by Claire Ashgrove) + giveaway

Good morning, everyone! Thanks for hosting me today and supporting the re-release of Inherited Damnation. I’m excited to have the chance to talk about the series for a little bit!

The old adage is that opposites attract. I’ve certainly experienced that. Sometimes you know that opposite is good for you, and sometimes you know it’s only going to cause trouble. I’ve also experienced both of those. Laugh.

But in romance, pairing opposite personalities is something I truly enjoy doing. With Inherited Damnation, that task proved a bit more daunting. The question became not only how could I pair up an “opposite”, but how could I do so across sixteen different characters. Particularly when some of the siblings in the stories share similar…divides.

Destined to Die – Belen and Faith – was one of the easiest pairings, in all honesty. Belen is the bad boy, trouble-making, half demon. He likes his dark powers to a large degree, embraces who and what he is. He was presented as sort of a lout in the preceding two books. He supports his father, though his reasons for doing so aren’t necessarily out of admiration. In fact, he instigates the trouble that befalls Faith…and relishes corrupting the two minds that contributed.

Until, the sweet, innocent beauty ends up in a very bad way. And then, Belen suffers the torture of the lighter portion of his soul. He doesn’t particularly like Faith, because she stirs that lighter portion, and that would make him have to question his more dominant, darker side. But when he’s the source of her pain…everything changes.

In sharp contrast, Faith came wholly naturally. She likes to save people. She’s fairly innocent about the world around her, views most things through rose-colored glasses, and can’t fathom any reason why Belen might be (obviously) torturing himself. She sets out on a crusade, essentially.

Her innocence made the resolution, her final discovery of all the dark entities in the world she knows, very fun to write. Watching these two, even as I composed the words, lock heads, battle with words, and eventually come together was exciting. It became a quest to see how I could twist them and leave them hanging in the wind the next go-round.

In the end…as we all know and love…the bad boy finds reformation. Or perhaps it’s acceptance.

Or perhaps, it’s just simply love.

Whatever the case, opposites definitely attract. In many ways, Belen reminds me of a man I dated – no, there are never people in my real life consciously put into my books. On the surface, he was all bark and vinegar, tough as nails, aloof, devil-may-care. Beneath…there was so much more. A very fragile soul hidden beneath a detached exterior. Like many of the opposite pairings in life, our differences couldn’t compliment enough. The end was devastating. But we both learned a great deal from each other, and boy those sparks could fly!

What about you? Have you been drawn to someone who’s your polar opposite? Or if not, what about the opposites in books draws you? Is it the promise of sparky banter, the tension, or the inevitable surrender? Please share below!

Fated for Sacrifice
Add to your GoodReads Shelf
When Reese Hamilton is abandoned in the snow-laden woods, she must find her way to Dáire McLaine’s cabin—a friend she’s known for years, and the man who makes her pulse triple. Little does she know that a cozy night in the woods will lead to passion they both have been longing to explore. But with the new change in their relationship comes something darker and more terrifying, and Reese must confront danger, even death, before she can be free to love.

Dáire McLaine will do anything to escape his demonic blood and attain mortality, even if that means defying nature’s laws and manipulating Reese’s thoughts for his own means. But when he delves into her hidden secrets, the staggering emotion he encounters makes it impossible to deny the forbidden longings of his own heart. He’s yearned for Reese over the years. Yet to love Reese will demand the ultimate sacrifice—his life.

Book #6, Doomed to Torment, will be coming on 5/12/15. Keep your eye out…

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Comic Review: No Mercy #1 Image Comics

No Mercy #1
Story By: Alex de Campi
Art By: Carla Speed McNeil
Cover By: Carla Speed McNeil
Image Comics

Price: $2.99
Diamond ID: FEB150483
Published: April 1, 2015
It was just a trip, before college. Build schools in a Central American village; get to know some of the other freshmen. But after tragedy strikes, a handful of once-privileged US teens must find their way home in a cruel landscape that at best doesn’t like them, and at worst, actively wants to kill them.
Throw a bunch of priveleged city folk on a bus and ship 'em out to the country for a while, then watch 'em sweat. Now, switch it up some. Take a bunch of doe-eyed college freshmen and ship 'em out to Central America for some humanitarian work. Ya know for kicks. Then watch 'em really sweat.

If you're looking for superheroes, or even the supernatural, in this comic book, you have come to the wrong place. Alex de Campi and gang have something much more mundane in nature and traumatizing in tone in store for you. Because, sufficed to say, this is going to be the trip from Hell.

With this first issue, Alex sets the table with more than a dozen characters to juggle along the way, which is quite a feat to do for a single issue, at least in my opinion. Somehow, she manages to pull it off, giving just enough of a glimpse to each character's personality, with many afforded a little more attention thanks to the expert illustrations that breathe as much life into them as the dialogue.

The first half of the book feels a bit familiar with its introductions, kind of like Final Destination with disaffected or excruciatingly chipper teens taking their seats before the big plane ride. Only with No Mercy, it is a jalopy bus they find themselves crammed into along with locals, both charming and shady in nature. But when the badness happens, it's furious, unforgiving, and quickly shows just how unprepared these young go-getters are outside suburbia.

The series is just getting warmed up, but shows a lot of promise, and I expect de Campi and company will take no prisoners and no shortcuts with No Mercy.
3 1/2 Sheep

Gef Fox

Book Review: Piercing the Darkness (Shadow Born Series Book 2.5) by Angela Dennis + giveaway

Piercing the Darkness
Shadow Born Series (Book 2.5)

by Angela Dennis
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
Date of Publication: April 7, 2015
Number of pages: 86
Word Count: 27,000
Cover Artist: Kanaxa
Love knows no bounds.

Cursed by the dark mage who killed her, Hilda Janssen has wandered the Earthly plane as a ghost for fifty years, finally finding her place as an IRT hunter, policing supernatural misfits trapped on Earth after a brutal war.

When a demon attacks, putting her team in mortal danger, Hilda sacrifices herself to save her friends. She’s already died once; what difference will doing it again make? But instead of meeting a final death, Hilda is cast into the Void, a magical prison from which there is no escape.

Her only hope is Cade Kerrigan, the lover she left behind after her first death. Their bond and his magic are the only things strong enough to pull her through the Veil. But Cade has no idea his soulmate came back as a ghost, and he isn’t too happy to have been left in the dark.

They must put aside the baggage of the past to save Hilda from a fate worse than death.

Warning: Contains star-crossed lovers destined for a second chance, a whirlwind of powerful magic, and a love so strong it defies even death.

Available at Amazon BN Samhain iTunes Kobo

Hilda is a ghost stuck in the home of the IRT. She had gone, fifty years before, after a baddie, but was killed, leaving behind her fiancée, Cade Kerrigan. When she agrees to be a sacrifice in order to save everyone from the latest evil, she unexpectedly ends up in the ‘void’ an in-between the veil place that has been used as a magical prison – with no way out. The only one who can save her is Cade, who does not know she hasn’t passed on, and still exists. It is Seraph who convinces him to save her and bring her to where they are at. When she is brought to the earthly plane, both are shocked to see each other.

I enjoyed reading it, though it ended too short for me. I like to see more of Hilda and Cade.

I give Piercing the Darkness (Shadow Born) 3 ½ sheep.

Pamela  Kinney


Everything hurt, even her teeth. Hilda eased to her hands and knees, spitting dirt from her mouth. She had no idea how much time had passed, and she didn’t really care. All she wanted to know was where the hell she was.

She tried to stand, but pain brought her back to her knees on the damp ground. Rubbing at her burning eyes, she shook her head. Her vision was blurry at best, and all she could see for miles was dirt and darkness. The air was thick with humidity and stank of wood smoke, burning her lungs each time she inhaled.

Wait. She was breathing. Ghosts didn’t breathe. And they didn’t hurt.

Her legs gave out and she collapsed onto the ground. She ran her fingers through the soggy earth at her side, realizing she could feel it. Fighting back her growing alarm, she brushed her fingertips across her face. She could feel that too, and it felt solid.

Holy shit, she still had a body. She had no idea how that was possible, but she was going with it. This time when she stood, she was prepared for the instant pain and weakness, so she managed to stay on her feet. She spun around, searching for something, anything, other than the endless darkness.

She definitely was not still on the Earthly plane. This place felt different. The air was gritty, felt dirty against her skin. And something about it seemed…wrong.

As her eyes adjusted, she realized there were globe-like fixtures scattered beneath the ground. They shimmered with pale blue light that barely penetrated the dense atmosphere.

But it was bright enough she could make out the outline of a hillside in the distance. Maybe if she climbed to the top she could get a better look around.

She wrapped her arms around her chest to try and get warm, realizing she was naked.

How she had missed that was anyone’s guess, but it was irrelevant. It wasn’t as if she could pull a pair of pants and a sweater out of thin air. She’d figure it out later, once she got her bearings.

Bare feet dancing across the rough, pebbled landscape, she kept her eyes focused on the hill in front of her, confident her salvation lay on the other side. The farther she walked, the more confused she became. This plane didn’t fit the description of any plane she’d heard of, and the education Brenna had given her had been fairly extensive. There was a tingle of doubt in the back of her mind, a part of her that was convinced she was finally completely dead and this was her afterlife. But she refused to believe that.

So she moved forward, step by painful step, against the wind’s resistance, through the thick layers of fog, until she was only a few yards from the hillside. Now that she was close, she realized the hill was made of a series of jagged stones, jutting out at various dangerous looking angles. It would take a miracle for her to reach the top, but she was known for beating the odds. She’d never know if she didn’t try.

Her hand was clutching the first notch in the rock when she heard it. A mix between a growl and a hiss echoed through the night. It was so loud, she unconsciously released the rock, pressing both palms over her ears to block it out. The ground shook with the force of whatever was coming and the wind stopped abruptly as if it too was running away.

About the Author:
Angela Dennis lives outside Cincinnati, Ohio, with her husband, son and a sheltie with a hero complex. When she is not at her computer crafting stories, she can be found feeding her coffee addiction, playing peek-a-boo, or teaching her son about the great adventures found only in books.
She loves to hear from her readers, so don’t forget to find her on Twitter to chat.
Tour giveaway 

$10.00 Amazon gift card and one digital copy of the book

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