Sunday, January 30, 2011

Beautiful Book Covers: The Fallen series

The Fallen 1: The Fallen and Leviathan

Published by Simon Pulse, March 9, 2010
544 pages, Young Adult

This is another addition to my TBR pile!  I've been meaning to get to
these books, as I have so many others....
The story is about a young boy who finds out, when he turns eighteen,
that he is the son of an angel and a human.  But there's more...
for he has been chosen to redeem the Fallen.
Sound as fascinating as the cover is enticing!

The Fallen 2: Aerie and Reckoning
Thomas Sniegoski

Published by Simon Pulse, July 20, 2010
576 pages, Young Adult

In this second book of the series, Aaron, the half-angel, half-human
introduced in the first book, must battle
the leader of the Dark Powers,
who is, of course, determined to destroy him, at the same time
eliminating all hope of an angelic reconciliation.
Naturally, there's also Aaron's girlfriend, whom he must protect...
as well as the family he has come to love.

I think I'll move these books to the top of the pile -- not only are the covers
incredibly attractive, but the story line sounds like just
the thing I enjoy reading!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Beautiful Book Covers: Passion's Blood

Passion's Blood
(Love Spectrum Romance)
Cherif Fortin & Lynn Sanders

Published by Medallion Press
December 1, 2008
81 pages, novella/art book

I was browsing the Internet tonight, looking for the most beautiful book covers I could possibly
find, and came across this gem of a book!
It's a fantasy romance novella, a collaboration between
two writers who are also artists and photographers.

The plot concerns a princess, Lady Leanna, 
renowned for her flaming red hair, and the two brothers who love her. 
Love triangles are, of course, a cliche of romance fiction;
however, this novella adds the element of magic to the plot.
Leanna is betrothed to Prince Emric, whom she loves, 
although she is not happy about the fact that this is an arranged match.
Emric's brother, Prince Bran, wants the lovely princess
for himself, and attempts to seize his opportunity
when Emric goes off to war.
Leanna must strive to keep her betrothed alive 
through her love and the use of her magic powers.
If this plot sounds a bit too flimsy to work,
I still say that this exquisite book is worth buying, 
if only for the absolutely enchanting illustrations!  Of course, I definitely approve
of their choice of male model for the paintings...

The cover pictured above is from the second edition.  The cover of
first edition is pretty nice, but this one is absolutely stunning!!

Here is one of the gorgeous illustrations to be found inside the book,
which only has 81 pages. 
The text of the novella is printed in small print, so
the story is longer than one would think,.
The emphasis, quite obviously, is placed on the stunning
illustrations.   These are the lovers,
Prince Emric and Lady Leanna.

Here are the portraits of Emric and Leanna.

I know that I  must own this book!  It's just a matter of time, and not
too much of it, at that!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Daughter of Xanadu: Author Interview/Giveaway at "A Myriad of Books"

Daughter of Xanadu
Dori Jones Yang

Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
January 11, 2011
352 pages, Young Adult

This novel sounds like an utterly fascinating YA read!  I also think that the cover is very beautiful!

Princess Emmajin is determined to become a warrior in her grandfather's army, and he is none other than the fearsome Kublai Khan...  Enter the great explorer, Marco Polo, to whom she becomes fiercely attracted as they travel across 13th-century China, encountering incredible adventures.  Thus she feels the tension experienced by every modern woman -- that between love and the call to a meaningful life mission.

The love story also offers what promises to be a totally enthralling exposition and contrast of two very different cultures.  According to Kat's review, Ms. Jones Yang has thoroughly researched the time period, with the result that one is totally immersed in it.  As everyone knows, there's nothing quite like getting lost in a good book!

The author has actually traveled to China, and visited the site where the Palace of Xanadu once stood.  Read the interview with Kat of A Myriad of Books, check out her review, and enter the giveaway!!   I, for one, am doing all three!  

And, last but definitely not least, Ms. Jones Yang has hinted that there just might be a sequel.... 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Fan Fiction: "Beautiful Creature of Darkness"

Disclaimer: I do not own Erik the Phantom, and yet he owns me...Neither do I own the rest of the characters. What I do own, however, is the ability to dream up new scenarios for them. I can certainly create the events that should have happened...

Author's Notes:

Erik, the Phantom of the Opera, was my first dark hero.  After him, I was totally hooked, and went looking for more of the same.  Thus I found the romantic vampire.  I've never looked back!

I would like to explain the title of this story, which, by the way, first appeared on, under the pen name "Angelmuse".

The original phrase, from the musical as well as the film, is "pitiful creature of darkness". All of us phans who are madly in love with Erik (sigh...), especially in the form of one Mr. Gerard Butler, know that our Phantom is anything but a "pitiful" creature!  I don't like to think of Erik as "pitiful".   To me, this equates to "pathetic".  Erik is, indeed, a beautiful creature of darkness!   In short, I much prefer the title I have chosen.

Chapter I - A Torchlit Madness


The torches cast an eerie, fitful glow on the walls of the tunnels as the mob descended, further and further. I knew that it would not be long before they were able to discover the home that I had so lovingly, so painstakingly, designed for myself. I no longer cared...

My strength was suddenly spent. Yet, I could not let them find me, at least, not alive. They would probably tear me to pieces. Even if they failed to do so, however, I would be bound and overpowered, and taken to the police, where I would surely be caged. Bound. Overpowered. Caged. The words stung. I could not allow this to happen. I had to put an end to myself, as quickly as possible. After all, I had nothing to live for now. She had left me, to go off with that wretched aristocrat. He would ensure that she lived in total comfort, of that I was totally certain. He would care for her, and take pains so that she never felt less than secure. Her soul, however, would never again know the sweet tyranny of music's love...He would require her to leave the stage forever. No proper wife of an aristocrat could possibly follow a career on the opera stage. It was simply not done. I wondered, too, and the thought was like a dagger in my chest, whether this would be her only regret. Would she truly feel nothing for me, as she reclined in her luxurious chateau with her handsome young husband at her side? She had, after all, kissed me full on the lips. She had touched my ravaged face, and gazed into my eyes with what seemed like love. And yet, she had walked away from me...Yes, I must end it all now...

The sounds of the mob were growing louder and louder now. "Murderer!" "He must not be allowed to escape!" I looked around, not knowing what to do. I had smashed all my mirrors. None were left unscathed to torment me any further...Perhaps a shard of glass...No, that would be too painful...I wanted to leave this miserable world without agonizing interminably...I wanted to feel no more. This pain tearing at my gut, this horrible pain, the pain of betrayal, was much more than I could bear...I began to search wildly for my pistol. That would be the most efficient method of ending my agony. I would simply put it to my right temple, and pull the trigger. Then, it would all be over. The music of the night had already ended. I would probably never play or compose again. My beautiful muse, my angel, my Christine, was gone. Where was that blasted pistol? I searched like a madman for it. Never had I dreamed that I would turn my onetime lust to kill upon myself. It was entirely logical, however. Was this not a fitting end to a murderer's life?

I ran from room to room, my heart pounding as if it would break out of my chest, my head feeling as if a hammer had installed itself inside. Sweat dripping from me, I tried to locate the pistol. The sounds were growing ever closer...Then I heard it. Someone was calling out my name. No, it couldn't be! I must locate that pistol!

Finally, I went into a small storeroom that I had always kept locked. It was located directly behind Christine's former bedroom, and she knew nothing of its existence, as it was very cleverly hidden. Surely the pistol was ensconced within. I had no time to look for the key, although I was fairly confident that I knew where it was. This, of course, was not a problem at all. Lock picking was the least of my considerable talents.

The door was at last open, and I stepped inside. As I did so, I heard the voice again...I shook my head, deciding that it had to be my imagination, playing tricks on me. Surely it could not be her voice! I rummaged around inside the storeroom, cursing myself for not bringing a candle with me. There were odds and ends in there, including old sheet music and discarded clothing. No pistol as yet...I went further inside, groping blindly, with a grim determination to find the instrument that would blow my disfigured head to kingdom come. I would no longer horrify, no longer offend, no longer be in the way. My existence would cease to present a problem to others.

Ah, my questing right hand finally closed on the object of my search. Success! I drew the pistol out of its hiding place, gloating like a man who has found a treasure. Well, in a manner of speaking, I had. This was the treasure that would at last set me free. I would leave all this torment, all this unbearable pain, and would be forcibly transported to sweet oblivion. That was all I truly wanted now.

I stepped out of the storeroom, and into Christine's bedroom. Ah, it seemed most fitting for me to do the deed here. I would splatter my brains, my blood, all over the bed where I had once laid her, the night she fainted after seeing her likeness decked in wedding finery. After checking the pistol to make sure that it was properly loaded, I put it to my right temple. My hand was trembling violently, my chest heaving just as violently. Uncharacteristically, I breathed a quick prayer asking for forgiveness. I suppose one's childhood teachings never completely desert one, especially in times of great need. I had, after all, been raised a Catholic, and I knew the Church's view on suicide. Once finished with my simple little prayer, I cocked the pistol.


I whirled around, my arm still raised to my temple. She stood there, her gown sopping wet, her beautiful hair bedraggled, and her face, her lovely face, was twisted with a terrible anguish, an anguish that caused a fresh fire of pain to knife me in the chest.

"Erik, for the love of God!" she screamed, though not daring to come toward me, fearing that I might do the unthinkable, and pull the trigger right in front of her.

She now took two tentative steps in my direction, holding her hands out in a pleading gesture. Tears poured down her face. She had never looked more beautiful to my eyes. She seemed to be a vision from beyond. For one stunning, time-stopping moment, I thought that perhaps I had pulled the trigger, and was seeing a denizen from the highest reaches of the heavenly realm. I stood completely still, frozen and numb. This could just not be happening...

"Erik, please... " she entreated me, now approaching, yet slowly. "Put that horrible thing down, please. Do you wish my life to end, also? It surely will if you do away with yourself. Please, my love, my angel!" As she finished saying these words, a great racking sob tore through her. I continued to stare at her, stupefied into immobility.

Two or three minutes passed, while we both stood, staring at each other, with the background noises of the approaching mob now incredibly loud in the passages near the lake. At last, I put my arm down, slowly, though still staring at her, not able to feel anything, totally in shock as I was.  She inhaled sharply, and then suddenly rushed toward me, weeping hysterically. She came right into my arms, and they automatically went around her, as tears began pouring from my own eyes. I began to shake with an uncontrollable emotion, tightening my arms around her. "Christine. Christine," I murmured over and over, as we both sobbed into each other's arms...

"This is the way!" a voice screamed, too close to the lake...Suddenly I sprang into action. Letting the pistol clatter to the ground, I swung her into my arms, and went out into the lake. I splashed my way to the grilled gate, now remembering that it had stayed open when Christine and Raoul had left. However, it was not up far enough. Apparently, it had come down to some extent after they had gone through it.

"Erik, hurry!" Christine screamed, jumping down from my arms. I pushed at the lever, and was able to raise the gate further. Impatiently, she grabbed my hand, and we bent down a bit so as to go underneath the gate. My little angel had apparently abruptly taken charge of the situation!

We kept on, splashing through the rather murky water, our hearts pounding as one. On and on, as behind us, there were suddenly cries of "The gate! He has escaped through the gate!" and "After him, my lads!"

"Christine!" I cried out, panting, as I marveled at her swiftness, although I was easily able to keep up with her, "Where do you think you are taking me? Have you any idea, sweet?"

She turned suddenly to look at me, and the smile I had started to direct at her, in spite of the grimness of the situation, disappeared from my face. Her face was completely drained of color, and her eyes were like those of a hunted animal. We stared at each other briefly as we ran, and then, characteristically, she fainted right then and there. I was able to catch her as she fell, and kept right on running without breaking stride.
I would take another passageway that I was sure Raoul would not have known about. He and Christine would most likely have taken the most obvious route, which lay straight ahead of them. They would never have noticed this other route, which was invisible to the naked eye. I had to push a particular stone in the wall, and we would be through. I would then shut it behind us, and we would never be followed. The mob, if they dared to go that far, would believe that we had simply vanished. That suited our purposes perfectly.

Reaching the place where I was sure the hidden passageway lay, I paused, shifting Christine to my right shoulder. I began feeling along the wall with sensitive fingers, hoping to find the slight dip that would indicate a movable stone. It only took a couple of minutes for me to find it. I then pushed in just the right way, and the stone slid inward. Reaching inside, I felt around for the hidden lever that would open a door in the wall. As I did so, Christine moved slightly on my shoulder, and pausing in my efforts, I turned to look down at her. She was still unconscious, however, so I continued with my task. Finding the lever, I pulled on it with as much strength as I could muster, given that I had to keep my balance so I would not drop her. The lever moved forward, and I heard a dull roar as the mighty stone door opened. I stepped through, and, turning, pushed the door shut. There was still water in the passageway, as the underground lake continued throughout the entire length of the foundations of the Opera House. I sloshed on in the darkness, entirely sure of where we were going. Had I not designed all these passageways myself?

It would not be long now. We would soon emerge out into the street. However, there was now fresh cause for distress. I had forgotten my mask in the rush to get away! No one had seen my face, not even at the very end of my opera, "Don Juan Triumphant". I would probably not be recognized, and Christine would perhaps be taken for a victim of the great chandelier disaster, if she were still unconscious when we left the Opera House.

I pushed forward with new-found strength. My concern was now for her. I had to save her; she was my love, and had risked her own life to come back for me. On and on I went, while my angel slept on, unknowing. Ah, such sweetness, to carry this beloved woman in my arms! If necessary, I would carry her to the ends of the earth...

At last, I felt the lake bottom growing shallower, and finally emerged on the shore. There was a gentle slope leading up to the steps that would take me to the door that opened out into the street. This door would, naturally enough, be locked, but that was the least of my worries.

Finding the steps, I took them two at a time, bearing my precious burden in my arms. Her weight was slight, yet, had it been heavier, I would gladly have borne it without question. The steps seemed interminable. Up and up I went. At long last, I came to the door. Setting her carefully upon my left shoulder, I began to expertly pick the huge lock. At first, nothing happened, and the sweat began to collect upon my brow. Then, after two or three desperate tries, the lock gave. Pushing with all my strength, I was able to make the door move, albeit quite slowly.

The door swung open on its rusty, time-worn hinges. There was a sudden little breeze on my face. I stepped out onto a badly-lit alley, mindful of my sweet burden. Turning, I again applied all my strength, and pushed the door shut.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide and International Contest!!!!!!

Well, I say it's about time!!!  I've been waiting for this for more than a year now, if not two!!  I had actually pre-ordered it, thinking it would soon be out.  I finally canceled the pre-order.  It's still on my Amazon wish list, of course.  So now the official release date is April 12, 2011!!!!!!!!!

The only thing I can't say I really like about this book is the cover.  The old adage about not judging a book by its cover would certainly apply here, since the content looks fantastic!!!

This guide, according to the appropriately named website, will be of encyclopedic proportions, more than 500 pages long, with over 100 illustrations and photographs!  Sounds like Twilight Heaven to us Twi-hards, for sure!  It will also contain new material, along with lots of information on the four classic books, as well as Stephenie Meyer's Twilight-based novella, The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner.

There's also an international contest associated with the release of the guide!!  Stephenie's publisher, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, is hosting an international sweepstakes to select 10 lucky fans who will meet Steph in person and chat with her!!!!!  These fans will be selected from the following countries: the USA, Canada, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Taiwan, and the UK. 

You can obtain more information and the entry rules here


Monday, January 17, 2011

Breaking Dawn movie still!!!!! Oh...oh....OH!!!!

Oh....oh....oh!!!!!  I just HAD to post this!!  I found it on one of my favorites sites, Robsten Love Blog!!!  This is a photo still from the upcoming movie "Breaking Dawn: Part I", which is set to be released in November of this year. 

This is the part in which Edward and Bella are on their honeymoon island, off the coast of Brazil.  The island is known as "Isle Esme", because Esme, Edward's adoptive mother, was given the entire island as a wedding present by Carlisle, Edward's adoptive father.  (For those not familiar with the Saga, Edward's family members are all vamps.)

For more news about Robsten, i.e., Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart (whom I hope will end up happily married forever after!!!), please visit the site by clicking on the blog name above.  Or, you can access it from my list of favorite sites, which you will find in my sidebar.

By the way, they call themselves a blog, but I don't see a list of followers on their page.  You can follow them, though, on Facebook.  But I don't see any direct following link on the page.  Therefore, I have listed them in my favorite sites section.


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Book Review: All I Want for Christmas Is a Vampire

All I Want for Christmas Is a Vampire (Love At Stake #5)
Author: Kerrelyn Sparks
Mass Market Paperback, 350 pages
Published November 1st, 2008 by HarperCollins Canada
(First published October 16th, 2008)
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Vampire Romance, Christmas romance

Dracula would be shocked to see how the vampire has evolved in modern fiction.  Originally a terrifying, remorseless killer, the vampire, whether male or female, can now be found in lighthearted, funny romances such as this one.

Kerrelyn Sparks, like Lynsay Sands, writes funny vampire romances full of sparkling, witty dialogues and characters as unforgettable as those in the more traditionally angst-filled novels of authors like Christine Feehan, Amanda Ashley, Stephenie Meyer, and Kresley Cole.  Like the vampires created by Sands, as well as Meyer, the ones in the Love At Stake series refuse to drink from humans.  Sparks's vampires drink bottles of synthetic blood, though. 

The main character, a vampire named Ian MacPhie, is 500 years old, having been created in the Scottish Highlands when he was dying from a battle wound.  He was rather young at the time -- only 15, as a matter of fact.  Therein lies his very comical dilemma; while he grows and matures -- intellectually as well as emotionally -- his body remains that of a 15-year-old boy, because vampires stop aging, of course, from the moment they are transformed into denizens of the undead world.  Poor Ian wants to be taken seriously, but he looks like a teenager, which puts a real cramp in his style, especially where the ladies are concerned...  So he decides to try the new "Stay Awake" drug, which allows vampires to remain conscious during daylight hours.  The drug makes him age 12 years, and the effect on the ladies is remarkable, to say the least. 

Now Ian is intent on finding his soul mate, because he wants to get married.  Och, bless his old-fashioned Scottish heart!  Unfortunately, he goes to the wrong place -- a nightclub named, of all things, "The Horny Devils", which is strictly for vampires.  Since the club features male strippers (I must say that's a bit sleazy for a Christmas-themed romance), he knows it will be teeming with vampire women. 

This is where the comedy of errors begins, for Ian runs into Vanda, a friend who barely recognizes him, since she only remembers the teen-faced Ian.  Once he presents her with his dilemma, she insists on posting his profile, which she herself writes, on a dating site -- "Single In The City".  The results are hilarious, and very surprising to Ian, as literally hordes of women begin to pursue him.

Enter one Toni Davis, a human woman, expert in martial arts, and recently hired by McKay Security to guard the vampires while they sleep in a townhouse owned by one of their leaders, Roman Draganeski, inventor of the "Stay Awake" drug as well as synthetic blood.  While Ian tries to deal with his new-found fame among vampire women, he struggles with his growing feelings for Toni, whom he initially believes is all wrong for him.  Toni, too, attempts to fight her increasing attraction to Ian, with no success.

The romance is complicated by skirmishes with rogue vampires who do kill for blood.  They are known as "Malcontents", and are as much a threat to the good vampires as they are to humans.  Thrown into the mix is the greedy uncle of Toni's friend, Sabrina, who has his niece committed to a mental asylum in order to use her money to pay off his gambling debts.  Toni and a good neighbor and friend, Carlos, plan to rescue her.  Ian offers his help, and they accept it.  And meanwhile, the Malcontents must be dealt with...

The book is full of equally memorable minor characters, such as Phineas, a wise-cracking, African-American vampire and ladies' man, Roman and his son, Constantine, who is half-vampire, and Carlos himself, whose true nature surprises even Toni, who had thought she knew him so well...

This is my first Kerrelyn Sparks novel, and it surely won't be my last!  Now I will have to go back to the beginning of the series, in order to meet all the other characters in her vampire world. 

I decided to give this book 4 instead of 5 stars because I thought the sex was a little too graphic.  The novel is supposed to be a Christmas romance, after all.  This aspect of the novel could have been handled with a bit more finesse, I think.

All in all, though, All I Want for Christmas Is a Vampire is a fun read, full of comical as well as serious moments, and the romance is "verra" sweet, indeed!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Fan Fiction: The Rainbow at the End of the Bridge

Disclaimer: I own nothing related to the Twilight Saga. These are Stephenie Meyer's characters, and no copyright infringement is intended, now, or at any time in the future, near or far.

Chapter 4: Bloodlust


She couldn't seem to stop screaming. I stared at her helplessly. The venom pooled in my mouth, and I knew that very soon, I would strike...

Then she fainted. I cringed. She had just made everything so much easier for me. I shifted my eyes away from her, toward the living room, where I could see my finished paintings stacked against two of the walls. Perhaps I could turn my unholy, unbearable thirst, as well as my anger, into a creative frenzy.

I was only fooling myself.

I walked over to her unconscious body, feeling the pull of her delicate, simply delicious self. I wasn't breathing yet. If I allowed myself to do so, I would inevitably sink my teeth into her.

I hesitated. My two selves, the vampire and the human I had been, and was still, even if I tried to deny it at such times, warred with each other. I wanted to kill her. I had to have her blood. It had been sheer madness to bring her here. The human in me had been taken in by her helplessness, her vulnerability, the sadness I had felt in her. The human part of me had already fallen irrevocably in love with her...and yet, the monster raged, straining to kill. I had to squash the human, in order to do it, quickly and without a qualm. The horrible feelings would come later, I knew. But now, the monster fought to break free of the slim restraint imposed by the human.

My jaw worked as I stood over her. I bent down to pick her up, staring obsessively at her jugular vein, faintly visible underneath her skin. Only vampire vision was able to pick up such a delicate detail.  I held her so if I were afraid of breaking her. Ironic, of course. Soon she would be nothing more than another corpse to discard. My right hand was at the base of her skull. I closed my eyes, even as I prepared for my unerring, cobra-like strike. I didn't need to have my eyes open for that.

Then a vision came to me. I saw this beautiful girl, with an appropriately beautiful name, as she looked up at me, her goodness plainly visible in her eyes. She stared at me innocently, smiling, pronouncing my name in that breathy voice...

I opened my eyes. With a moan of anguish, I fell to my knees, her slight form still cradled in my arms. I wanted to kiss her, but didn't dare. I might bite her lips instead, and then, I knew I wouldn't be able to stop feeding until I was full of her blood.

I laid her gently on the floor, as the terrible thirst continued to rage through me. I threw back my head, howling like a werewolf. I had never suspected that vampires could make such a sound. The anguish was building up, so unbearable I knew I wouldn't be able to tolerate it any longer... If vampires had the ability to cry, I surely would have done it at that point.

I had to do something. I had to get away from her.

Then I remembered. How could I have forgotten? The animal blood in the fridge... I always kept at least three jars of it, in case of just such an emergency. After all, I couldn't risk going out in the daylight. And it would have looked very strange indeed, had I wrapped myself up in heavy clothing, in the middle of August.

Picking her up again, I hurriedly carried her into the bedroom, laying her on the bed. Then I ran back into the kitchen and frenziedly tore the refrigerator door open, although I was careful not to do this so forcefully that I would tear it right off the hinges. The hunger was now totally unbearable. Grabbing one of the jars filled with the blood, I twisted the lid open, and downed its contents in several gulps. I did the same with the second one. Then I stared at the third, wondering whether I should consume it, as well.  I swallowed convulsively and closed my eyes, letting the blood do its work of reviving me. It wasn't as satisfying as human blood, of course. It would have to do for now. I simply couldn't picture myself taking this innocent girl's blood. I simply couldn't bear the thought that, because of me, her heart would no longer beat, would no longer pump the life-bearing fluid throughout her body.

Sighing, I took the third jar, and emptied it, as well. Then I rinsed all three jars in the sink, and put them in the dishwasher. Now that Bella was here, I would have to make sure she never saw filled jars in the fridge. Perhaps if I hid them in the back...

I was sitting in the kitchen, my bloodlust now under control. I knew that I would soon need more blood, however.

Then I heard her scream again.

At the same moment, my acute hearing picked up a knock on the door.

I rushed into the bedroom, where I noticed her cowering on the bed. The knocking was becoming more urgent, too.  I looked at her, and she stared at me, puzzled instead of terrified. I knew then that my face no longer betrayed my true nature.

"Bella," I whispered, dismayed. She said nothing. Perhaps she was dazed.

The knocking on the door increased to a frantic pounding. "Open this door right now, Edward, or I'm calling the cops!"

I knew the voice. Jack Quinn, one of my neighbors. He would occasionally drop in for a beer, and we would chat while I painted.

"Hold on, Jack!" I called out. "Let me turn down the TV!"

"Bella," I whispered again. My voice, soft as velvet, would weave itself into her mind. Such is the power of vampire fascination. "Everything's all right. You're safe. Please believe me. I would not hurt a hair on your head. I promise. I rescued you, remember?"

She continued to stare at me, and then her gaze moved down to my T-shirt. I looked at myself, and saw fresh blood stains on it now, along with the dried paint stains.

I looked back at her, again willing her to calm down. I knew that the hypnotic effect of my eyes was working on her when I saw her visibly relax.

I hazarded a breath, and was more than relieved to find that I was pretty much under control.

"Now," I went on, as I proceeded to weave my spell, "I want you to stay here quietly, where you will wait for me. I'll shut the door, but I'll be in shortly. All right?"

She nodded, never taking her eyes from mine. I shut the door.

Breathing out another sigh, I ran over to the bathroom, where I whipped off my T-shirt threw it on the floor, and grabbed another one that was very conveniently hanging behind the door. Afterward, I ran over to the huge plasma screen on one side of the room, and grabbed the remote. In a split second, I had a zombie movie up on the screen.

Vampire speed can be so useful.

Jack pounded on the door again, and I was immediately there to open it. When I had done so, he stood there, arms crossed, glaring at me.

"What the hell's wrong with you, Edward? What's the idea, anyway?"

I smiled a little nervously. I had to get rid of him fast. I had to talk to Bella. But I couldn't arouse his suspicions.

"Sorry, man. I didn't know you were squeamish about horror movies."

He shrugged. "Well, hell, I don't particularly like them, but I guess they're better than some romantic slush flick." He peered into the apartment.

I had no choice but to wave him in.

He walked in warily, looking around. I wondered if he was expecting a skeleton to come dancing out of one of my closets. He glanced at the TV screen, where one of the zombies was running after one of the hapless humans. The human, a girl, was screaming, and I had the fleeting thought that I didn't know zombies could move that fast. So much for B movies.

Jack frowned. "You know, I could have sworn I heard a strange howl, too.'\

I shrugged, grinning. "There are a couple of werewolves in this movie, as well as zombies, and...vampires."

Suddenly, all the tension seemed to drain out of his body, and he turned to the painting I had propped up on three easels. He studied it for a couple of minutes, then grinned.

"Seems to be coming along great. When's the opening?"

I relaxed, too. My art was about the only thing that could take my mind off my hideously inhuman nature. That, and classical music, which I usually had playing when I was in the throes of creation.

"It's tentatively set for the first week of September. You're coming, right?"

"You know I am. I'm bringing Alice along, too. She just loves art - any style, modern, impressionistic, you name it."

I could feel myself becoming even paler than I usually was.

"Alice?" I mumbled. And then a picture of my Alice rose in my mind. Alice. My funny, quirky sister with the incredible visions. If I let my mind have its way, I would be able to...but there they were - my family. My chest tightened.

"Yeah. You haven't met her - we just started going steady last week. She's dying to meet you, too
I stirred uneasily. Funny choice of words he had. "Well, um, actually, Jack, I do have to get ready to go out in a while, but I wanted to get some painting in first..."

Jack barked a laugh. He was such an easy-going guy. "Sure, no problem. Got a beer I can swindle out of you?"

I grinned, and we walked into the kitchen. I didn't look at him as I gingerly opened the refrigerator door. Thankfully, it didn't seem to be broken.

I emerged from the fridge, two beers in hand. I would make sure to plant the suggestion in his mind that I had actually drunk mine. "Here you go."

I started to push him out of the kitchen. "Sorry to rush you, Jack, but I really have to get this painting finished. I promise I'll have you and...Alice over for dinner one of these nights."

He grinned. "Cool! Saves me the trouble of trying to get to first base with dinner."

I shook my head, laughing, as I walked him to the door. "You're impossible, Jack! I"ll bet she's your true love, too, right? For this month, anyway."

He shrugged as I opened the door. "Well, hey, just remember to keep the TV down, will ya? You wouldn't want Alice to get spooked when she visits, you know? And thanks for the beer."

I nodded soberly. "I totally understand. Later, guy," I closed the door practically in his face.

Then I sprinted toward the bedroom, and threw open the door.

She had remained on the bed, as I had ordered her to. She was staring unseeingly into space.

I was afraid to approach her, and bring her out of the trance. What would I say to her? A thought occurred to me, but then, I had never used the legendary vampire power of erasing a human's memory. I wasn't sure I wanted to use it on her, either.

No, I wanted her to be completely awake when I spoke with her next.

I walked thoughtfully back into the living room. My agent. I had to speak with my agent. My cell was on my spacious, sculpted coffee table. An identical one had been featured in Architectural Digest the previous week.

"Alex?" My agent wasn't far - just a couple of blocks away. "I need a huge favor from you. Yeah, I know, you'll want one of my paintings for it. No problem. Can you come over right now?"

There was a slight pause, and then he said this was a really bad time. I could guess why - my keen hearing had picked up a woman's frustrated sigh in the background.

"All right, Alex - two paintings. Just come over right away, okay?"

Having come so close to killing my beautiful Bella, I couldn't see myself causing another mysterious tourist disappearance. I didn't think I'd be able to tolerate the expression of terror on yet another human victim's face.

It was just fifteen minutes later, exactly, when I heard another knock on the door. I picked up my cell again, and dialed the number of Alex's cell. I didn't want to answer the door if it wasn't him knocking.

He picked up in two rings. "I'm standing right in front of your door," he said, obviously annoyed.


Flipping my cell shut, I put it in the pocket of my jeans. I calmly walked over to the door, and opened it.

Alexander Wainright was the only human I had ever trusted with my true nature, to a point. He did not know that I had killed humans. He always supplied me with the necessary animal blood when I requested it. As far as he knew, that was all I drank. I don't even know where he obtained the jars of blood, but they were necessary for those unfortunate times when I could not go out in the daylight without attracting attention due to my unusually heavy attire. Miami doesn't really have seasons. The temperature could hit the mid-eighties even in the middle of December, as it had the previous year. Snowbirds walking around Lincoln Road would be sure to stare at anyone who went out wearing a turtleneck sweater and gloves, not to mention a ski mask. Not even my face could be visible, of course.

The problem is that vampires sparkle in the sunlight. The Volturi would have been over here in a flash, had any stories hit the papers about a sparkling guy walking around the city.

"Okay, Edward," he said, visibly annoyed. "You need more blood, right? Jeez, why now? I was in the middle of something.,."

I waved dismissively at him. "I know, Alex, and I'm sorry. But this is a real emergency. It's not animal blood, either."

I stepped into the kitchen as I spoke, and he followed me. He gave a low whistle when I showed him the three jars in the dishwasher.

"Good God! You must have been ravenous!"

I nodded soberly. "I'm having a big problem with control today. I need you to go to a blood bank and...'

He didn't allow me to finish. "A what? Are you out of your mind?"

I sighed. I had known this wasn't going to be easy.

"A blood bank. You heard me. I need you to buy some human blood for me. Please. I'll make it really worth your while."

His eyes were wide, round. "You're really creeping me out, Edward."

I was starting to feel desperate. "Look, Alex, just name your price. I'll give you enough to buy the blood, plus a nice amount as a sort of commission, plus the two paintings. Cross my heart."

He shook his head, exasperated. "Do you think I can just waltz into a blood bank and ask to buy blood? Do you want them to lock me up in a padded white cell? You just don't buy blood, Edward! Only doctors and hospitals have access to the blood in blood banks!'

My panic rose. "But Alex, I thought you had connections." I stared at him meaningfully.

"Well, yeah, some, but..."

I grinned. "I knew I could count on you!" I clapped him on the shoulder.

He eyed me, unconvinced. "Why do you want human blood now? Isn't the animal blood satisfying you?"

I shook my head. "I guess the moment. Believe me, I wouldn't ask you to do this if it weren't really necessary. You don't want me to start killing humans, do you?"

I saw him shudder, and he backed two steps away from me, eyeing me warily.

I smiled nervously. "Alex, don't worry. You're safe. But I do need the human blood right now. Please."

We stared at each other. Then he shrugged. He knew when he was beaten. I hadn't had to use my vampire powers to gain his compliance, either. Well, I never had, with Alex.

"I'll see what I can do."

"Thank you," I said, in all sincerity. "You have no idea how much I owe you for this."

"You sure do!" he put in, dryly.

We walked back into the living room, and I went over to one of the couches, where I had carelessly flung one of my good pair of jeans - a pair I would never dream of wearing while painting. I dug in one of the pockets, and fished out a thick roll of bills. Alex didn't bat an eye. He was more than used to seeing me pull huge wads of cash out of my pockets, in his presence. I never did so in public. I wouldn't want to be in a thief's shoes, if I ever caught one trying to rob me.

I peeled five big bills out of the roll, and handed them over to Alex, who took them nonchalantly.

"Keep the change," I said, wryly.

"How soon do you need this by?" He was already tucking the bills into a one of the front pockets of his jeans.

"By nightfall tomorrow," I answered, casually.

He snorted. "You're the weirdest vampire...but what am I saying? All of you guys are..." Then he paled, his eyes huge. "Wait a minute...just how many of you weirdos are out there?"

"Just be glad it's not a human being I'm asking you to bring up here, so I can drain them dry." I didn't answer his question.

He snorted again. "Funny, Edward!" But I had not counted on his typically human inquisitiveness. "Give me an answer. How many?"

I hesitated. "Well..."

"How many?" He hissed the words between his teeth.

"We're all around you. Although at the moment, I don't know of any others besides me in this city. And I'm telling you the truth."

And I really was, in a way. There was a small coven further north, in the Hallandale area. I had always steered clear of them, though, and doubted they knew of my existence. I was absolutely sure that there were no other vampires in my area, which was South Beach. That would have been an intrusion on my territory. I was free to stroll along Ocean Drive at night, and claim my victims from the tourists perpetually thronging that popular street.

He seemed to relax a bit. "Okay. Now how about my two paintings?"

"When you return with the blood," I assured him, as I stuck my hands in my pockets. I noticed he was keeping his distance from me, but I could hardly blame him for that. "You can pick out any two you like."
He sighed. "The things I do for budding Picassos," he muttered.

"Cullen. The name is Cullen. And I've always hated Picasso. In my book, Matisse is far superior."
My agent shrugged, grinning.

I grinned right back. "Later, Alex - and thanks,"

I shut the door, feeling the huge weight I had been carrying lifted, as if by magic, from my shoulders.
Now I would have to go speak with Bella. I hoped and even prayed that I would be able to convince her not to run away. I might have been fooling myself, but I thought that dealing with a sometimes thirsty vampire would be preferable to being drowned in the uncaring waves of the bay.

I can be incredibly stupid at times.



Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Short Story: "The Secret of the High Priestess"



This started out as a meditation on a Tarot card -- The High Priestess, from the Aquarian Tarot, designed by David Palladini.  This is a very beautiful Tarot deck -- the style is Art Deco.  Gazing upon its cards for a while can give one a feeling of serenity.   I find certain (not all) Tarot decks very conducive to giving free rein to the imagination.  I am not at all interested in using these cards for fortune-telling purposes. 

So, one afternoon, I sat down to gaze upon this card.  I felt the need to go to my laptop, and my meditation somehow became a little story... I posted it on Goodreads back in June, 2010.  As you will see, I am an incurable romantic!

I am the High Priestess. I am pondering how to proceed as I face the possibility of being removed from my position. I have served as a vestal virgin of the Mysteries for such a long time…. I have dedicated myself to the determined pursuit of inner truths. Setting aside normal female longings for love and a family of my own, I have resolutely continued my solitary inner journey.

I do have a secret lodged in my heart. I am deeply in love with The Magician. He, too, is completely dedicated to the pursuit of higher knowledge, the music of the spheres, the eternal, immutable truths of our mysterious universe. He does not know how very much I love him.

As I sit here, quietly, sadly, I hold a flower in my hands. I am focusing all of my attention upon it. It seems to be wilting, and I can do nothing to stop it from dying. I am not a giver of Life, as the Empress, my cousin, is. I am, instead, a way shower for those who wish to know the deepest secrets. As I wistfully contemplate this flower, I am immersed in thoughts of what might have been. The Magician and I…. It would be such a natural alliance! He is my male counterpart. He is in search of the Ideal, the Imponderable, the Formless, as I am. Would our union not prove fruitful, a natural bond between two kindred spirits?

So I sit, next to this richly-printed curtain. Its print is so ironic – a repeated design of pomegranates, a symbol of fertility. This would be more suitable for the Empress. My fertility is that of the heart, the inner knowing of intuition. My insights are many, and in that sense, I suppose, I am indeed fertile. I am connected to the stirrings of my soul, as well as those of the Universal Soul. That is my mystical marriage. I live, breathe, move and have my being in the Eternal One, the Ineffable.

There is a palace in the mountains far off in the distance. That is where the elders are now in council, deciding my fate. Why are they considering my banishment, my removal from my sacred office? Perhaps they know of my secret love for him, The Magician. Such a thing must not be allowed. The High Priestess must remain dedicated to her high calling. She must forsake the ties that bind most women. I do not agree with this. I think that, were The Magician aware of my love for him, he might deign to return it. Thus we could be united in one purpose, one will.

I am sitting here very quietly, waiting for my soul to stir, to guide me in this matter. Must I choose between Love and Knowledge? Will succumbing to Love make me unfit to perform my duties? The scrolls of Wisdom stand at my side, waiting for my hands to open them so that I may peruse their life-imparting words, their timeless truths. Yet, here I sit, looking at my wilting flower, and wondering about what could have been…

The headdress of my office sits heavily upon my head. It bears a triple cross upon it. My hair is bound and hidden beneath it. I have controlled my normal female passions, and steeled myself to use my mental and spiritual powers. Did not Merlin fall when he became enamored of Nimue? Would a similar fate await me, were I to allow myself to enter into a romantic relationship with him whom my heart longs for?

Now I look beyond the flower, into the secrets of Nature herself. The image of The Magician recedes in my mind’s eye, and I marvel as the beauty of the flower, even as it wilts, assaults my senses, and speaks to my mind and soul. I see once more with my inner vision. I see deep into the heart of the flower, into the dance of Life, the living partnership of dancing atoms and molecules. The flower speaks to me, and I listen. I listen as Nature imparts to me the concepts of endless, uncreated energy, and how humans can tap into this energy. I see how we are all part of this endless dance, how we can know that we are all children of a Mighty Creator Spirit, here for our individual purposes.

Soon it will be time for me to go forth, toward the castle. Soon it will be time for me to enter the Council Chamber, there to learn my fate. I will either be removed from my high office, or confirmed in it by the ancient rite of Affirmation.

Sighing, I gingerly put down the flower. Then I see him, slowly approaching me, his dark hair softly ruffled by a gentle breeze, his gentle, smiling face bathed in the glow of the sign of infinity above his head. His robes softly rustle, his flowering wand, which he holds in his left hand, is firmly planted in the ground with each step he takes. In his right hand he holds his cup, which he now extends toward me. He is girt with a living serpent, which holds a naked sword at his waist. He has slung his pentacle shield on his back. He continues to smile as he walks toward me, and I can scarcely believe it…

It is he. It is The Magician. Breathless, I ask myself if he knows….

He reaches my side, still holding the cup out to me. I look up at him, and feel myself smile slowly, unbelieving.

Then he does an incredible thing. He kneels down in front of me, and puts the empty cup in my hands. Then his eyes meet mine. I am seized by a love so great it overflows in spontaneous tears. One falls on my flower, and the result is another miracle, for it blooms anew.

He covers my trembling hands, still holding the cup, with his own.

“I have always known.” He whispers as he gazes into my eyes. “And I have always felt the same way. You will not walk alone into the Council Chamber. I shall be with you, and together we will tell them of our love, of our continuing commitment to the Highest Truth. And we will convince them that you should continue in your office as High Priestess, as I shall continue in mine as The Magician. Are you ready, my love?”

I nod my head in assent. I am unable to speak.....

Then he gently pulls me up, and taking one of my hands in his, purposefully strides with me toward the castle, as I bear the cup reverentially before me.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Beautiful cover for Lauren Kate's new release, "Passion"

What an absolutely beautiful cover!!!  I'd love to know who designed it!  (And I will, too, when I buy the book.)

This series has quickly become one of my favorites!  I have already read -- and reviewed -- the first book, Fallen, which I thoroughly enjoyed.  Its cover, also showing Luce, the main character, in a similar black dress, her head in her hands in apparent despair, rivals this one. 

Now I'm enjoying the second book, Torment, just as much, and its cover, too, is quite beautiful!  

This third installment will be released on June 14, 2011.  I'm sure I won't be disappointed!

The story of Daniel and Luce, who have known and loved each other through many incarnations, continues, as they strive to remain together in Luce's present lifetime...

Luce is an average human girl, except for the fact that she sees these strange shadows.  Daniel, who has desperately followed her down the centuries, is a fallen angel. 

Yes, this is the stuff of GREAT romance!!  Sigh.....

Friday, January 7, 2011


I'm very honored, as well as happy, to have received my second award, which was graciously given to me by LJ at Reader Recommended.  If she hadn't given it to me first, and someone else had, I would certainly have included her in my list of stylish bloggers, because her blog has plenty of style!  The content is just as awesome, so be sure to check it all out!  Thank you so much, LJ!!

And now for the rules related to this award:

1.)  Be sure to thank the person who gave you the award, and link back to his or her blog.
2.)  Share 7 things about yourself.
3.)  Pass the award along to 10 to 15 other bloggers whom you think have GREAT style.
4.)  Contact the bloggers you have chosen to let them know about the award.

Here are 7 things about me:

1.)  When I was around 2, my mom discovered the ideal way to keep me out of trouble.  She would put me in a playpen in the middle of the living room, with a "Reader's Digest" magazine next to me.  I would pick up the magazine, and become totally absorbed by it for quite a while, turning each page carefully as I looked it over.  When finished, I would simply fall asleep, still holding the magazine.

2.)  One of my fondest teen dreams was to own a big, black Arabian stallion (like the one in the Walter Farley books), and I would be the only one able to ride him, of course!

3.)  I have Scottish and English ancestors on my mother's side, and Spanish ones on my father's side.

4.)  I was introduced to science fiction at the age of 12 by a classmate named Sylvia, who affirmed that she was from another planet (I can't remember what it was called, but it was not in our solar system).  She told me that her real name was Chel-al Burr.  I then affirmed that my real name was Chal-ter Byron, and that I was really from Mars.  

5.)  I'm in the process of writing my first book, which will be a fantasy novel.

6.)  One of my favorite foods is "paella", which is a rice dish that contains chunks of chicken, as well as different types of seafood.  It's a very delish Spanish dish!  (A little alliteration goes a long way....)

7.)  I would love to win the lottery so I could have plenty of time to write, blog, read, paint, and study three subjects: theology, philosophy, and psychology. 

These are the fabulously stylish blogs I have found! 

1.)   A Myriad of Books

2.)   Book Lovers Delight

3.)   Blood Rose Books

4.)   Book Lover Book Chicks

5.)   Books and the Universe

6.)   Far From Reality

7.)   Happily Forever After

8.)   I Just Wanna Sit Here And Read

9.)   Love Fantasy Sci-Fi Novels

10.) My Overstuffed Bookshelf

11.) Quirky Fate Press

12.)  Reading Teen

13.)  Removing Stitches

14.)  Sapphire Romance Realm

15.)  Spellbound by Books


Tuesday, January 4, 2011


John Ronald Reuel Tolkien
Born: January 3, 1892

Tolkien was, as all fantasy enthusiasts know, the revered author of those fantasy classics, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion.  This great writer has mesmerized countless readers, including this one, and has influenced several fantasy writers, as well.  He even created a new language for his elven characters, complete with grammar and syntax.  His world of Middle Earth is a richly complex one, peopled by totally unforgettable characters, and made to come alive by means of an enthralling, brilliant prose style.  

As a philologist and scholar who taught at Oxford University, Tolkien was steeped in the study of languages, as well as mythology and folklore from various sources.  He wove everything together, sifting it through his amazingly inventive imagination, and immortalized his tales thereby.  How many enthusiastic fantasy readers are not familiar with Frodo, Gandalf, Aragorn, Merry, Pippin, and the pitiably disgusting Gollum?  How many have not felt chills run up their spine at the very mention of the Nazgul?  

Yesterday was this wonderful man's birthday.  How could I have forgotten?  Thanks to Marty at Book Noise, I realized what day it was, but I was a bit too late! 

According to Marty's post, there was a worldwide celebration last night, at 9:00 PM, one's local time.  Alas, dear Tolkien!  I was unable to participate, due to my blasted nighttime part-time job!  So I'm now trying to make amends through my own post... Thanks, Marty!! 

How I wish I could have met Mr. Tolkien!  What a treat that would have been!  I would have sat at his feet, raptly listening to his wondrous tales of Middle Earth, and asked for nothing more in the world!  But, as he himself once said, "The road goes ever on...."

If there's a special place in heaven for great weavers of dreams, I'm sure that John Ronald Reuel will be there, sitting alongside such other greats as his friend, C.S. Lewis, Hans Christian Andersen, E.T.A. Hoffman, the creator of  "The Nutcracker", and all those whose trips into magical lands have transported us out of our ordinary reality to the extent that we have entirely forgotten our immediate surroundings, and become one with their wonderful characters....

Saturday, January 1, 2011


I'm wishing all of my readers
a most wonderful,
joyful, blessed

May all of your wishes come true in 2011!!
May the most fantastic experiences
come your way!
And may you be able to read