Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Reviews on Fangs for the Fantasy

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True Blood: Burning Down the House

Last night was a bit of relief after last week. I was actually beginning to wonder why I continued to watch this show. It was a relief that this episode had less obvious fail.

Sookie was irritating as usual this week. She stops Eric from killing Bill my a magical burst of fairy power but later tells him that she still loves Bill and never promised to his. Okay, here we go again with the ongoing triangle. I know I should be caught up in this, but the truth is I am just plain tired of it. Perhaps, it's because Sookie gets on my last nerve.

Bill gets into it with Nan because she is only concerned about she is going to spin what happened at the hotel rather than actively proactively to fight Antonia. Finally, he decides to blow up the emporium. I have mentioned previously that it makes absolutely no sense that the vampires have been so passive. Antonia has the potential to be deadly but she is no king Russel and the vamps acted far more proactively when he was a threat. I have to say that I am with Bill on this one.

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Succubus Shadows by Richelle Mead

I cannot believe that I have to wait until August 30th to read the last book in this series. I know that it's only a few days, but I cannot wait to find out how Seth and Georgina end up together. Yes, I am actually excited about a romance in an urban fantasy book - somewhere pigs are flying.

In this book, Mead explored the complexity of life. Though Georgina is technically a lesser immortal and a succubus, as she went through the centuries she experienced relationships that ended in tragedies, each time she tried to be good. She gave up her soul to end her husbands pain after she was unfaithful. She took the dying power of a man that she tried to avoid, because she didn't want to corrupt his soul. In the present she struggles not to sleep with Seth, for fear that she will shorten his life. Georgina's intention are always good, but they always seem to end in disaster. In fact, she makes a point of saying several times that her life is circular.

Read More 5 Fangs

Proven Guilty by Jim Butcher, Book 8 of the Harry Dresden Files

There are monsters appearing in Chicago. Literal Horror film monsters bursting from the screen, killing people and feeding on their fear (I'm actually kind of curious as to who did this first, since I've seen that plot line in about a dozen places). Harry must find out who is doing this and how – before more people are killed – or left living only to have their psyches mauled in the wake of the attack. It hits even closer to home when he sees that Michael's child Molly is directly involved in the horror and she and her friends are at risk.

The war between the vampires and the White Council continues, further confused because the expected support from the Summer and Winter courts has not arisen – much to everyone's surprise. Harry, as the Wizard most closely linked to the courts, must try to unravel why and secure their help

Harry is settling into his role as a Warden, though clashing with the Merlin over the severity of having to execute young wizards whose main mistake in life has been to grow up with power but no education or training. This only becomes more poignant as he is faced with the task of saving a friend's life – in defiance of this brutal policy

Read More 4 Fangs

Firelight by Sophie Jordan

Jascinda is a draki – the descendants of dragons. She can shift her form into a humanoid dragon, scales, claws, wings and all. It's not easy though, for their kind are hunted to sell their body parts – indeed Jascinda barely escapes when one handsome young hunter spares her life.

Also, like all draki, she has a talent – she can breathe fire and makes her highly in demand. So in demand that her mother (who is effectively human) and her twin sister take her away from her pride in the dead of night.

Taking her to Nevada, to a city in the desert. In the hot, dry air without fertile land, Jascinda's draki will die and she can be a normal person just like her mother and her sister – but she doesn't want that and her draki withering feels like part of her soul is dying.

Read More 2 Fangs

Succubus Heat by Richelle Mead

Though I have so many other books on my to read list, I cannot stop reading the Georgina Kincaid series. This is really out of character for me because the novel is essentially a love story between Georgina and Seth. It's not quite paranormal romance but it's not far from it either.

In this book, Jerome, the archdemon of Seattle is summoned, causing all the lesser immortals in the area to lose their power. For Georgina this translates to not being able to shift and not being dependent on stealing bits of people's soul to survive. For the first time she can actually have sex with Seth and not worry about shortening his life. Suddenly, the prophecy that she would have a child and be with someone that she loves, looks possible for the first time.

Unfortunately, no good thing comes without a cost in Georgina's life. She realizes that she must rescue Jerome or risk her whole life being torn apart. It's a case of the devil you know really. The problem of course is that if she does rescue Jerome, she will go back to being a succubus thus ending her relationship with Seth. It's a no win situation for her because even if she does not immediately find Jerome hell being the organized institution that is, will simply appoint a new archdemon.

Read More 4 Fangs

City of Souls by Vicki Pettersson, Book 4 of the Zodiac Series

I am happy to report that this is the first book in this series where I did not come across any GLBT failure. I think Pettersson just decided to go all out with her erasure. As a straight person, I am not in a position to say that the complete erasure was a relief, because it also represents a form of failure that is reoccurring in this genre. Once again, the book takes places in Las Vegas, and there are no people of colour. As a woman of colour, I can say that after watching her treatment of the GLBT community, that I am kind of happy to be erased.

If I had to say that this particular book had any message at all, it would be that absolutism is dangerous. Throughout the series, Joanna/Olivia's nemesis is her biological father tulpa. His mission is to either destroy her before she can bring about his destruction, or to force her into becoming his ally. When we examine this from a womanist perspective, it is clear that in this case that the tulpa constructs her as a possession to be claimed or punished/destroyed for a failure to submit. When we consider that historically daughters have always been understood to be the possession of their fathers until they were lawfully wed, the tulpa's quest to claim to Joanna/Olivia fits into the framework of women as objects.

Read More 3.5 Fangs

On the Lambda changes

So I hear that there has been development in the Lambda Awards and the many many oppressed straight writers who were so upset are getting their award.

I had a post to write, but... nah. I'm not. Really, I'm not going back there. It's not worth it and I don't need any more grey hairs. I don't need the stress, the prejudice and the rampant dehumanisation that comes with it.

Not a whole lot has changed since then, nothing more really to add. And I'm not going to repeat or do a new post because very few people listen or care and I don't need to jump into a snake pit again – I already play outside my safe(ish) spaces far too often to add another without good reason

I may skin Beloved

So today was bank holiday and while I don't normally get these off, I managed to wrangle merely being on call. I intended to be productive but kinda flopped.

I also intended to do a full on cook fest but after baking I just felt too lazy today. Lazy day is good. So went all light and summery – crab risotto, home made onion bread, tarragon butter mushrooms and some rotisserie chicken left in the fridge – a con meal because it's relatively quick to do but looks like you put in so much effort :)

Except, when Beloved is there. Beloved should be banned from all kitchens

I make dough – he takes my baking bowl. I grab it to make more, and he's put away the flour. I get it out again and he's put the butter away. I had to get the yeast out 7 times. SEVEN!

Monday, 29 August 2011

A fuss being made about same-sex relations in computer games?

So Bethesda Games have announced that there are going to be the option for same-sex relationships in the Skyrim

And there is a predictable response. No, not happiness from gay people – nope, the “what does it matter?” “what's all the fuss?” “why is it necessary?” from the straight folks (and believe me, that's among some of the better responses.)

And I sigh, I really do.

Because it matters do damn much. I am tired tired tired of nearly all the media I consume. 3 quarters of the reviews I write on Fangs for the Fantasy include the words “and there were no GBLT characters. Again” and the few inclusions I do find generally leave me wishing that they hadn't.

And y'know in many ways I find erased computer games even more annoying than other erased media, especially in a game that has story content. Let's have some immersive escapism! Sure, so long as that involves escaping as a straight person.

This does not help my escapism. I can escape from a heteronormative world where straightness abounds and go to... an even more heteronormative world where even I am straight! YAY FUNSIES! That sounds like such great fun!

*opens window, let's the sarcasm out*

So, yeah, I'm going to make a fuss. And, Beloved, who games far more than I do (beyond WoW of course), is going to do cartwheels because it is a big deal. Just being able to play as *gasp* someone like me, just acknowledging that someone like me exists in a game is still pretty damn rare and improves my enjoyment of the game

And yeah should this be mundane? Yes. Should this be standard? Yes. Should this be unworthy of comment? Yes. But that's not where we are right now, though I have a vague hope of getting there. And no, I'm not going to hand out cookies and sobbing gratitude for the inclusion, but I am going to be happy about it. If nothing else because there's a chance I can play a story based game (my favourite kinds) and not keep looking for the damn skip button whenever the inevitable straight love interest arises and I'm treated to a huge huge chunk of plot that reminds me that “hey, this game? Totally not for you”.

So yes, fuss is being made.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

There is a race heating up....

Who will win? Beloved dragging out the BBQ with a solid determination to cook half a cow?

Or the sky, whose black clouds make it clear that rain will be coming

Actually, Beloved claims I can't place bets because I am sabotaging him by not letting him start cooking at 11:00am. Uh-huh, I call shenanigans, he can't win the race against the weather if he starts early! All right thinking people agree.

I predict we will be arguing about this for the next... ooooh, 4 hours. He has started cursing the sky. The thunder gods won't like that. *is amused*

I have a large golf umbrella ready. Just in case. And there's nothing quite like BBQing in pouring rain under an umbrella. If it comes to it, I have enough marinated meat that will be just as good on the grill in the kitchen and a couple of large bread loaves in the oven. And there's always the endless boring salad (what? So I don't rely on Beloved's cooking skills to feed us. This is wisdom!)

Beloved is also arguing about the disputed carbonara. See, I made fake (because it has cream in it so is not Authentic. But it has cream, so tough :P) Carbonara last night and Beloved declared, so proudly, that he had made the same thing before. Damn, I knew I shouldn't have let him get away with that! No good deed goes unpunished. I pointed out to him that my fresh rolled pasta and home made sauce is cooking carabonara. His open-a-packet of dried spagehetti and open a jar of sauce is most certainly not. And further that he would be wearing carbonara if he compared my cooking to shop bought pre-made much. Yes yes I did. Then he threw a bread roll at me (home made, I might add). Things escalated :P

However, the debate continues today. I may have to get the left overs out the fridge to taunt him with. We could get a full week of arguing out of this.

I'm drinking Pims and random fruit juices.. it manages to be quite a foul drink that I can't stop drinking. It's strangely compelling but is not to be drank with chocolate or cappuccino. That taste's going to stay with me.

Having something of a fluff day. After having the Awkward But Useful conversation with therapy-blokey and a couple of weeks of crawling into a bottle because I hate the world and everything in it, I'm going to have a weekend of lightness, brightness and much poking of Beloved (stop it. Dirty dirty minds people). And yes, I'm drinking but it's a different relationship with booze – I much prefer the habit of drinking with my blond and giggling at him cursing the skies than drinking in a corner cursing the world. Masses of difference.

So, fluffy post for fluff reasons :). I think I'll just lounge here reading today – had plans, cancelled them because Cannot Be Arsed, frankly and if I don't leave the house, there's less chance of my being irritated.

And, yet again, aren't kindle's brilliant?

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Another bad news round up

Another depressing round up of bad news. I've been lax oin this and my links have built up so I'm going to have 2 next to each other.

I think it's important to spread these, not just so we can see that this stuff happens and how damaging it is but I think it makes a point to bring them together - that this crap happens everywhere, literally and the common themes and links between them

As ever, divided by vague category

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

On respecting homophobia

Rick Santorum has whined on about how he's a homophobe - as usual. But he also calls for people to respect his feelings in being a homophobe Can't we respect that he feels differently from us?

Ok, just in case anyone has even the slightest doubt - let me make this abundantly clear. I do not respect bigots. And I do not respect people who do not respect me. And no-one who thinks I am anything less than entirely equal to straight people respects me. Anyone who thinks I am less than straight people, anyone who thinks my relationships are less than straight people's, anyone who thinks I am inherently more reprehensible than straight people or anyone who thinks my family, love and life is anyway lacking compared to straight people does NOT respect me. They do not.

I will not be friends with a homophobe. I will not tolerate a homophobe. Any time I spend in a homophobe's presence will be one of endurance, never of choice or happiness.

I will not agree to disagree with a homophobe. I will not respect them. I will not accept that they have a difference of opinion. I will not compromise with a homophobe, I will not accept their position on my life as having any validity or legitimacy. I will not make excuses for them and I will not accept excuses from them or on their behalf. I will accept no "justification" for their homophobia, nor will I accept that there CAN be a justification for homophobia. I will not accept any reason for their homophobia or accept any deflection of blame for their homophobia. I will not accept any attempts to diminish the severity of their homophobia or the importance of it. I will not accept "it's not personal" if they are promoting, protecting or championing homophobia.

Homophobia is a force that does its very best to lessen my humanity and my existance. I will not accept that as anything other than evil or as anything other than something to oppose vehemently - and yes, viciously. I do this because I deserve better, I do this because I have too much self-respect not to do this and I do this because it's basic self-defence. I will not accept debate on my rights, I will not accept that there are reasonable differing viewpoints on my humanity and I will not treat a bigot as anything other than an enemy.

And this is so beyond non-negotiable.

Reviews on Fangs for the Fantasy!

True Blood: Nobody Leaves

Let's do something a little different this week.  Let's discuss last night episode by character/plot.  Last night's episode began with Alcide carrying Sookie away from the battle.  Sookie is taken from him by Bill.  Bill tries to give her his blood, while Alcide asks, "does she even have a pulse?"  Can we just say right now that there was no suspense to this. Of course the minute that Sookie wakes up she barely thanks Alcide and proceeds to make plans with Bill to get Eric. In the first sensible thing that Alcide has done in a long time he tells her that he is done and walks out of the house.  

Unfortunately for Alcide, Debbie is awake when he gets home.  She pretends to sleep but you can see the tension all over her.  (BTW, thank you Alan Ball for the naked shot of my fav werewolf)  As Alcide snuggles up to Debbie, her eyes go yellow.  It's clear to me that Alcide needs to just take his fine behind away from both Sookie and Debbie.  Could any man really be that slow to catch on?

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Succubus Dreams by Richelle Meade

I unabashedly love this series, yes, yes, I do.  Succubus Dreams actually read more like a paranormal romance than a straight up urban fantasy book, but not even that could diminish my desire to find out what happened to the protagonist Georgina Kincaid.

Kincaid walks into a bar to find Carter, three angels and human sitting together.  Joel, one of the angels clearly does not like or trust her. At every opportunity he is downright hostile towards her.  Carter and his crew of angels are clearly up to something but realizing that it is pointless to question them, Kincaid stays to have a few drinks.  At the end of the night Carter asks her to let Vincent the human stay with her while they are on their secret angel mission.  Kincaid reluctantly agrees.  

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Teen Wolf – the season finale

It's the season finale of Teen Wolf! We have to say this series was far better than we anticipated. We expected lots of teen angst, lots of pointless moping and the other staples of the genre – and yes there's been some – but much less than we thought. The characters have been fun, Stiles as been awesome, the bare chests have been yummy – all in all a good find. Definitely way exceeded our expectations (even if those expectations were low)

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Spider's Bite by Jennifer Estep. Book 1 of the Elemental Assassin's series
Gin, the Spider, is an assassin. She kills people for money and she's very very good at it, even in a world with vampires, elementals, dwarfs and giants – she hardly even needs to use her Stone and Ice magic, her knives and training are more than enough.

Until a job goes wrong. Her employer has double crossed her and is now out to kill her and her loved ones to continue to frame her for a death she didn't cause. Working with her remaining family and a reluctant police officer who complicates things by being both extremely hot and enraged by her previous job killing his partner, she must find out who is after her, why – and avenge the dead.

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Raphael by D.B Reynolds
This is yet another book of the month selection from one of our reading groups on Goodreads.  This is yet another book that I would not have chosen to read because it is paranormal romance.  Unlike Love Bites by Lynsay Sands, there really is nothing to redeem this book. 

Cynthia is a former police officer turned private investigator. Normally, she does things like background checks and following cheating spouses, and so when Raphael and his vampires enter her office wanting to hire her to track down a kidnapped vampire, she jumps on the opportunity to do something new and interesting. The existence of vampires is sort of an open secret socially, but even with all the secrecy, Raphael's place in vampire hierarchy is well known.

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Dead Beat by Jim Butcher, Book 7 of the Harry Dresden Files
There are some new big bads in town – necromancers, some of the darkest wizards out there, have arrived and they're all looking for the World of Kemmler. Kemmler, the greatest and most horrendous necromancer that ever lived, left his remaining knowledge in this book – a book that could bring untold power to the most evil of people.

And in addition to the Necromancers, Marva of the Black Court also wants the book – and if Harry doesn't get it for her, she's going to ruin Murphy's life. To further complicate things, Bob the skull has a disturbing past and even more disturbing secrets with Kemmler.

The war between the vampires and the wizards continues with the Wizards suffering a major defeat, the remains of the Warders must turn to people they'd shunned to try and prop up their numbers and can't offer Harry even a tenth of the support he normally could expect.

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Dead Iron by Devon Monk
Dead Iron falls into the category of paranormal steampunk.  I really looked forward to this book when I saw that it was chosen as the book of the month by one of my Goodreads reading groups; however, that excitement quickly turned to dust, and I found myself looking for anything to do other than reading this book.  How do you know when a book is bad?  When you find yourself thinking after reading a few pages, hnmmmm  I suddenly have a desire to clean the kitchen, or a do a load of laundry.  Yes, housework is more amusing than this book.

One of the major faults with Monk's work is how convoluted the story is.  First we have a werewolf named Cedar Hunt, who is considered an outsider in the small Oregon town of Hallelujah.  He has moved to Hallelujah in an attempt to forget his past. Hunt believes that he  killed his brother, one night when the wolf's blood lust blocked out his ability to reason.  His wife and child are also dead.  Out of the blue, Rose Small, the General Store owner's adopted daughter tells him about a missing child named Elbert Gregor, and he decides to hunt him down.  Because Rose has told him that she believes that the boogeyman took the child, he decides to pay a visit to the Madder brothers, who seem to have a special skill working with stone.  Even though he has no connection with this child, he is willing to owe the Madders a favor in order to secure their help.

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Zoo City by Lauren Beukes
Zinzi December is a animalled – aposymbiotic. She has done something bad in the past – she has killed someone – and since the mid 90s that has caused people to manifest their own animals. The animalled all gain a special power upon having their animal, but it doesn't compare to the widespread prejudice and hatred society shows them – nor to the constant threat of the Undertow. A darkness that chases and hunts down animalled when their companions are killed and stalks them until then.

Zinzi has the power to find things people have lost, following the connections of them to their objects. She has had a hard life, an ex-journalist who fell into drug use, the spiral of which eventually ended up with her brother dead and her carrying around Sloth, she now ekes out a living in the slum Zoo City, a derelict, crime ridden and poverty stricken area of Johannesburg with a large animalled population. Trying to get by in the face of prejudice, her severe drug debt she is pulled into a swamp of the music industry trying to find a missing pop starlette who is tipped to be the next big thing – but has gone missing.

Then suddenly there are deaths, homeless people being murdered and going missing and a shadowy underworld to the music industry and her employers she never imagined.

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Monday, 22 August 2011

Bad News round up

Another depressing round up of bad news. I've been lax oin this and my links have built up so I'm going to have 2 next to each other.

I think it's important to spread these, not just so we can see that this stuff happens and how damaging it is but I think it makes a point to bring them together - that this crap happens everywhere, literally and the common themes and links between them

As ever, divided by vague category

Rabbi Yehuda Levin has blamed the terrible and tragic murder of an 8 year old on gay marriage how grossly sick is it to use a child's death in this manner?

After a series of homophobic speakers, an East London mosque promised they would not invite more homophobes to speak. The echoes of the promise hadn't even died before they broke it

The pope took time out of his busy schedule defending paedophiles to again warn about the terribad dangers of gay marriage which will destroy families. Same old pope, same old church, same old hate.

In Kenya, a coalition of Muslim clerics is campaigning to have GBLT people killed More pushes for genocide.

Catholic archbishop Timothy Dolan thinks gay marriage is communism well if you're going to talk hateful nonsense you may as well go the whole hog and be utterly incomprehensible

In Massachusettes, a full quarter of gay teenagers are homeless. 1 in 4. 1 in 4 gay teenagers have no homes – what can we even say to that?

A religious group at the Faith and Freedom conference in DC compares gay adoption with losing a parent at 9/11. Wow... stay classy guys

A catholic school in Mississauga, Canada has banned the rainbow

Lesbian comedienne Dawn Whitwell was due to perform at a Catholic school event – until they learned she was married

Hate Speech
In Jerusalem, homophobes tried to interrupt the pride parade with a donkey convoy to show the “bestial nature” of homosexuality. It's creative hate speech I guess.

In Poland, homophobes threw firecrackers and yelled homophobic abuse at a gay pride parade

Republican congresswoman and bigot, Vicki Hartzler compares gay married with incest, polygamy paedophilia *yawn* that's yesterday's script, Vicki. Go get some donkeys. All the cool hate speakers are doing performance art now.

Scottish MPs are angry at the inexcusable decision to invite bigot Cecil Samuelson as speaker at Holyrood

The Brown Coffee company feels the need to tweet bigotry Later tries to claim bigotry isn't bigotry

In Chicago, a straight man was prevented from donating blood because he “looked gay.” Well there's some medical professionals you can trust, right?

Facebook has censored yet another photograph showing a gay couple kissing our existence must be hidden and our love is obscene. Again. And since this is a repeat offence from them, their apology means nothing

In Minnesota A lesbian couple were told off like naughty children at a sports match for daring to *gasp* kiss

In Nigeria, the Woman's Football team bans lesbians. FIFA, being homophobic, doesn't give a shit

In Arkansas a newspaper published an obituary – and completely erased his partner. Even after death, his love is completely denied.

In Northern Cyprus gay men have been arrested. For being gay Again this is ongoing genocide that seeks to persecute us for daring to exist – until we don't exist

In Italy, a bill to ensure basic discrimination protections for GBLT people has been rejected And this is why we need EU wide discrimination protections

In Kentucky, 2 gay men were kicked out of a public pool... for being gay. The Bible was cited as the reason

Just in case gay people got too excited about marriage equality the New York police were ready to give lessons about place and respect


In Uganda, the gay rights group FARUG had its offices broken into and computers stolen with members lists on them with escalating homophobic hatred in the country, this could very much become a hit list.

In India, the first married lesbians need constant police protection from violence

In Croatia a gay pride parade came under repeated violent attack

In Puerto Rico there have been a series of GBLT murders – 3 in 3 days

In DC, a trans woman managed to escape being shot at, in the same place where just 2 weeks before another trans woman was murdered

And at Lashi Mclean's funeral, the service was considered so offensive that there was a mass walk out

In Philadelphia, an elderly gay man was beaten to death with a rock. His killer invoked both the gay panic defence and the Old Testament

In Seattle A man claims that god told him to rape and stab a lesbian couple

In New York 6 teens have been charged for stomping an 18 year old to death for being gay

In Portland 2 gay men were attacked by a gang of 3 using anti-gay slurs

In North Carolina a 4 year old boy was murdered for “gay behaviour”

In St Petersburg activists were attacked at slavic pride In response, the police arrested... the GBLT activists.

In Slovenia, a gay man was beaten with clubs by 6 or 7 men for being gay

In London, a gay man was beaten and police are appealing for witnesses

In Vauxhall, 2 gay men were attacked and robbed by a gang of 8-10 men after pride

In Dublin, a gay man was threatened with a knife in a homophobic attack

In New Zealand, a lesbian couple was forced to move after a string of homophobic attacks

In Toronto A gay man was attacked by a group of men using anti-gay slurs who broke a bottle over his head

In Denver, 2 teens launched a homophobic attack against a man

In Sacremento a gay man has been beaten in an anti-gay assault

In Colorado 2 gay soldiers were attacked – but have to stay silent because of DADT

In Province Town, Massachusettes a traffic argument was escalated by anti-gay slurs and violent assault

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Reviews on Fangs for the Fantasy!

Succubus on Top, by Richelle Mead

After reading Richelle Mead's Vampire Academy series, I did not believe that she would ever write anything that I would read, let alone absolutely embrace. I read the first book in the series because a book club that I am involved in selected as the choice for the month and now I am absolutely HOOKED. Who knew that she was capable of creating such a wonderful world. This really makes me wonder what the hell went wrong with Vampire Academy. Okay, maybe it's not fair to compare the two because the Vampire Academy series is YA and her Georgina Kincaid series is definitely ADULT. (yes lots of sex but at least it doesn't pretend to be anything other than vanilla)

Having promised to corrupt humans using sex to save Seth's memory of his love for her, Kincaid must balance her commitment to the Archdemon Jerome and her desire to nurture her budding relationship with Seth. Throughout the book there is a lot of discussion as to whether or not it is possible to maintain a romantic relationship with a man and not actually engage in sex. This is an absolute necessity for Kincaid and Seth because every time she is sexually intimate her succubus drive takes over and she drains energy and life force from her partner. Honestly, I see quite a lot of gender essentialism in this because of the constant real men need lots and lots of sexay times to be happy. This approach also ignores that asexual people have romantic relationships all of the time.

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True Blood – SpellBound

I really looked forward to this week's episode but in the end, I found it quite disappointing. Jessica got quite a bit of screen time this week. The episode began with Jason bursting through the door to save Jessica from the sun. I suppose this makes them even, because now they have both saved each other.  Jason cradles her and takes her back downstairs. While she is sleeping she dreams of breaking up with Hoyt. The Hoyt of her dreams is pathetic and begs her to stay, but she bashes his head in, and then goes outside where Jason is waiting for her in a truck. When she finally does tell Hoyt, he tells her that she is not good enough for him and that he wants a woman that isn't an eternal virgin and can give him children. He then revokes her invitation when she tries to reason with him. Though what he said was absolutely cruel, he certainly has come a long way from the Hoyt who couldn't take a breath without his mother's approval.

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Love Bites by Lynsay Sands

For the purposes of disclosure, I must admit that had I known that Love Bites was a paranormal romance, I never would have agreed to read this book. I am normally not a fan of paranormal romance, and try to avoid the genre altogether. That said, I must admit that I kind of liked the book. Yes, it had the usual boy meets girl, girl runs away from boy, and boy and girl get together storyline. It was extremely predictable for a lot of the book, but I still found it entertaining and when it comes to reading anything, the ability to hold my attention is extremely important. Unlike many paranormal romance books, I didn't find myself stopping because doing laundry seemed more interesting than reading this book.

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Touch of Twilight by Vicki Pettersson, Book 3 of the Zodiac Series

I am working my way through this series at a pretty rapid rate because it is enjoyable and each book leaves unanswered questions and problems that need a solution. Each book makes the world larger but still leaving the reader wanting more.

As much as I like this series I do have a few continuing issues. This is now the third book in the series and beyond a brief mention in book one, the world is still all White. This is absolutely unrealistic for a city like Las Vegas and speaks very much to the authors belief in White supremacy. If you cannot even imagine people of colour, in a world of your creation, it means that we are less than nothing in her mind. The same erasure of course exists for the GLBT community in this book, with the exception of the following line:

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Succubus Blues by Richelle Mead

After reading the entire Vampire Academy series, I was not exactly excited to read anymore Richelle Mead. The only reason I gave this book a shot is because it is not Y.A. I know, I know another adult running down Y.A.  The truth is I don't mind Y.A. if the story is good my issue is with the angst. Having gone through my teenage years once already, I don't want to relieve them. Alright so I am off on yet another famous tangent.

Let's start with the usual. Once again we have a book set in a major city and there is no mention of any GLBT people. Georgina, the protagonist, works in a book store, but apparently no one in the GLBT community reads, or is interested in taking the dancing lessons that she teaches there. The only time same sex attraction occurred was Georgina had ingested a pure soul.  Unfortunately that was cast as even women are attracted to Georgina, as though two women being attacked to each other is a complete oddity.

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Teen Wolf episode 11

This week brought another episode of Teen Wolf and Renee and Sparky sat down to have a snarky chat about it. On the whole it was of the good – but there's waaay more teen angst – it felt like they were making up for the last episode. We're not happy about the treatment of the gay Maris, Danny who only ever appears on screen to be useful to Scott and Stiles – and every time he's played for some comic relief. This week went above and beyond by using him and making a joke while playing on the idea of a teacher yelling at a gay student for bringing a same-sex date to the school dance.

The villain(s) are still really scary and well done – and we want them all to be eaten. And, take not True Blood, actual CGI!

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Vampire Tapestry by Suzy McKee Charnas

Our hunt for new series to read is ongoing and often on our blogs, or the podcast we request new titles. We are especially looking for books that are progressive and have good representations of marginalized people. Because all of our blogs are social justice related we have a tendency to trust the recommendations. The following is the recommendation that we received for the Vampire Tapestry

“I also recommend The Vampire Tapestry by Suzy McKee Charnas for vampire fiction fans. I read it years ago but it's a very interesting take on the Vampire mythos with just scary good, brilliant writting..”

We need to thank you. Up to this point we were forced to constantly refer to Charlaine Harris’ Aurora Teagarden series as our example as the most fail possible.  It was awkward, because we were constantly referring to a book outside the genre and justifying it based in Harris’ urban fantasy series. But no more, now we have a book that is worse than Teagarden – a book within the genre that sets a new limit for awful. So, thank you.

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Saturday, 20 August 2011

Another argument with therapy blokey

I tell myself that my snapping at therapy blokey and having a tantrum is a good thing because it's another boundary down and some more ground covered and it's usually stuff that needs to be said. Right? It breaks down my normal stand-offish unwilling to open up thing and is really a breakthrough.

And yes I can positive spin anything.

Yeah, I'm not sure I believe it either, but I tell myself it and maybe one day I'll convince myself. Still, after argument it's probably not best to go home and empty a bottle. This is not the best of coping strategies, no no it is not. Still, no hang over – I am immune to hangover so I am presuming this means I am justified (hush, I know it doesn't make sense).

But I am sorely tired of feeling like my past decisions, actions and inactions are being judged and second guessed. I am sorely tired of feeling blamed for the various badnesses that happened, or blamed for not 'fixing' them and I'm, frankly, sorely tired of his pig-ignorance of the realities not just of the time but that are still very much the case today.

Could I have spoken to teachers as a child? Section 28, have you heard of it?
Could I have spoken to my parents? I can't speak to them about it NOW, how could I have then?!
Could I have spoken to anyone? The closet prevents that. And no, there wasn't anyone I trusted – not one person.
Could I have gone to the police? Page me when the police start giving a damn. And don't tell me they do, I've been there, seen that and see it every day.
Could I have gone to a shelter or similar charity? Sure – give me the phone number for one in the area... got one? Nooo...? Oh, why would that be, do you think?
Could I have sought therapy earlier? Uh-huh, because this is working out so wonderfully, right? And there is no history of badness between men like me and the shrinks, right?

I am happy for you. No really. I'm happy that you've had a life that lets you believe that the world is this big fluffy, supportive happy fun place. It must be wonderful, be grateful. But it's a lie. And I'm tired of feeling like you're telling me I screwed up because I don't live and never have lived in your happy-dappy-super-fun-fluffy land.

I don't know whether your plan could work if better executed. I don't know whether you could convince me that the world isn't all that bad and there resources out there and my habit of dealing with stuff alone is both unnecessary and unhealthy. Hey, it's probably a good idea. But all I'm getting from this is a whole amount of ignorant cluelessness that a) tells me I really should speed up looking for an actual gay therapist and b) undermines my confidence in you, which I don't need because that makes me doubt the life-saving pills. You need to get that what I did (and didn't do) isn't the result of bad brain paranoia, another symptom to be treated, it's the result of realistic concerns and knowledge and experience.

So today, there's another (more expensive) bottle open. And there's a BBQ which means I don't have to cook (well, technically. Why is it the actual application of meat to grill is always the least involved part of a BBQ?). And I am snarking the BBQ, reading my Kindle and posting on Beloved's tablet (shhhh! He hasn't noticed what I'm doing yet! Touching the tablet is VERBOTEN! Oops... nearly spilled wine on it. Wine and Ipads? Good combination? Or not? Better the Ipad than my Kindle). I've also turned my mobile phone off, again. Ooops, I Do Not Know What Happened It Must Have Been Broken. And yes I can say that with a straight face.

Ohhh I wonder if In have any chocolates left? And I wonder if I express my deep sadness at their lack then the chocolate gods will restock them? It's worth as try!

Friday, 19 August 2011

The EHRC needs guidence on whether to be bigots or not

So, as I said before, the EHRC is still looking to support homophobia in the European Court after our local courts already decided that homophobia was bad and wrong. The EHRC disagrees.

Because they have faced a lot of fury from gay people who, y'know, expect an equality body NOT to champion homophobia, they have now announced a consultation.

Yes, I kid you not. This "Equality body" is actually having to consult to see whether they should support homophobia or not. I'm just going to repeat that because really it's hard to believe. The EHRC, a supposed Equality body, is actually consulting the public to see whether it should support homophobia or not.

How wrong is this?

Homophobia is wrong and should be stopped. It doens't matter whether most of the public is quite happy to see us persecuted, discriminated against, maimed killed, whatever, it is bloody wrong and should not eb supported. We don't need public consultation to decide whether prejudice is ok or not.

Secondly, as an Equality body they shouldn't need telling. This should be the ultimate no brainer. How are these people fit for their purpose?

Now it seems like that EHRC is backing down from supporting homophobia since there has been rather a lot of outrage about it. However, the consultation is still open so nothing is set in stone and we are still not safe.

Looking at the consultation document, it has done it's very best to de-emphasise the rights of gay people and instead has put the religious right to be bigoted front and centre. It hardly mentions the rights they seek to trample at all. Not impressed.

Still, in a desperate attempt to stop this non-equality body from trying to legally insert bigotry into our laws, please Consult and tell them what bigotry is wrong and that being Christian does not give one a license to be a bigot and be free from our equality legislation.

Maybe they'll even get it

Edit to Add: The wording of the consultation is awful. There is no mention of homophobia or homophobic. To be clear, the cases they refer to in question 2, much as they try to hide it, involve denying government services to gay people because of Christian bigotry. They try to avoid mentioning it as much as possible in this "consultation" to downplay the homophobia.

Hmmm chocolate...

I have some ultra-nice chocolates :) They're like silk, pure lovely silk only, y'know with more sugar

Now I normally have a box around, ish. Usually a big box a month or a couple of small ones. There's usually one in the house or I can expect one to show up (because while I eat them, I never buy them). I can't eat them all at once because sweet things quickly make me ill – except cake and biscuits for some reason. Anyway, chocolates. I love chocolates. Not chocolate, you understand. I've never really liked big bars of chocolate, they've always struck me as dull (unless it's white chocolate. White chocolate is made by the gods themselves) and high cocoa solid chocolate is pretty vile.

But chocolates? Filled with nuts and ganache and praline and liqueurs? Little nuggets of tasty tasty art, oh yes. I likes them I does.

Of course, for Beloved & I they're a little more. Back in the days of yore when my family was assimilating the idea that not only was their eldest son gay but also WASN'T going to live the rest of his life both alone and sexless. This was something of a stumbling block for them since, being denied their first 2 choices (straight son or gay son who'd pretend to be straight, find a nice girl and live in lovely lovely denial) the next 2 were perpetual virgin gay son, or gay son who had the decency to keep all that sexing as hidden as possible so we could all live in happy denial-land. Instead they got this gay son with a boyfriend who was hanging around and acting all part of his life and everything – totally not on the list at all!

Anyway, back in this tricksy tricksy time, Beloved bought me chocolates. Yummy yummy assortment of goey loveliness.

And family did declare “why have you bought him them? He doesn't like chocolate. You should have gone for toffee.” (see, silly boy, presuming to know him. You knoooow nothing, we shall be smug at you)

And he questioned “but I think he likes these. I'm pretty sure.” (what the hell muppets, are we even talking about the same person or are you all on crack or something?)

Of course I love these chocolates and there was much smugness from Beloved. He Officially Knew Me Better. This was a total territory moment. No, really, he still refers back to this moment. It is the epic “mine” moment when he believes he firmly asserted his boyfriendhood to my family.

So, I have chocolates. I never have to buy them, Beloved often provides them and I find them lurking around for me to find in the fridge or cupboard, it is one of the constants that makes life a little better. I'm still not sure if they are some kind of possessive scent marking or branding :)

There's still no excuse for chillis in chocolates though. Or orange. I hate orange and chocolate.

(Beloved's secret vice that his family didn't know about is his eternal love of children's animation – we regularly have to steal my cousin's small children so we can go watch them. He also likes daemonic plushies)

Oh and behold Beloved, I am saying nice things about you. See? I don't mock you all the time. Despite the 22lb turkey (no I have not forgotten and I don't care how long ago it was, it's gold and when I'm in a rocking chair hiding your false teeth I'll still be reminding you of it) or the mince or the “cleaning” or the restaurant with me in rags, or the unlabelled freezer bags (which you've done AGAIN I might add) or the BBQ that cost more than the oven. (Not that I'm keeping score or anything).

And the daemonic plushies will be seen as cute, not mockable, so you can't claim I still poked you. So there.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Ok on the muppets

Now there has been some talk about trying to get Bert and Ernie married on the muppets. On the whole I don't think it's ideal – I'd much rather have fresh, new GBLT characters created who are GBLT, rather than some hasty retconning of previously straight characters for obvious inclusion cookie-ness (and it would be retconning since the people who make the muppets have always leaped up and down desperately screaming that there's no gay here – oh no, nononononononono)

But rather than address that, I'm going to look at the response because this is another of my side-eyes to people who can suspend disbelief amazingly to encompass any fiction. Let's have a look at it:

"Bert and Ernie are best friends. They were created to teach preschoolers that people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves. Even though they are identified as male characters and possess many human traits and characteristics...they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation."

How silly are we? They're muppets! Of course they don't have sexual orientation! They're not people, they're not alive – they're puppets!

Of course, puppets don't have gender. Or names. Or personality. Puppets don't have friends. Puppets don't sing. But of course they don't have sexual orientation! I mean, what muppet would actually get married?!

Wait, what is this? A muppet?! Proposing marriage?! Yes, that is the Count, with one of his Countesses (I believe he got through 3 in the series. VON ex-wife! TWO ex-wives!)

Yes, even Oscar had a girlfriend and sang a song about how much he loved her.

But how can this be? Surely this is a sign of *gasp* depictions of sexuality

So apparently, in contrast to their dismissive brush off – Muppets CAN have a sexual orientation. So long as it's straight or straight seeming. And don't tell me how wonderfully inclusive Sesame Street is as if being progressive for some marginalised people makes it perfectly ok to ignore others.

Now, I don't care if they got married – I'd much rather have fresh GBLT characters than a retcon – but don't feed this tired old homophobic excuse and expect us to swallow it. It's insulting and just compounds the erasure on a show that is supposed to be so “inclusive” for all children – well, straight ones anyway.

And why does it matter? It matters because children's programming has zero GBLT representation. We're invisible, freaky, strange and dangerous – and don't tell me that doesn't hurt our young. Straightness tries to 'shield' all kids from our existence until the heteronormativity – and the homophobia – is well and truly locked in place. I'm sick of being considered a threat to kids – and I'm sick of our kids growing up feeling like freaks.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

My broken branch of the family tree

This piece originally appeared at Womanist Musings where Renee has very generously allowed my random musings to appear on her excellent blog

Genealogy is something of a familial obsession with my kin. The never ending quest to push the records as far as they can and fine every slight tiny detail about the lives of people you never met who died years, decades, even centuries before we were born. It's vaguely creepy to be honest.

As you can probably tell, I've never really got it, not to the degree that consumes my family. I don't understand why they're so frustrated that my grandfather's family has only oral records, no paperwork. I can understand lamenting the tragedy of the times when considering how many of my male ancestors died at sea – and how many of my female ancestors ended in work houses or the numbers who were working gruelling physical labour into their 80s – but I don't understand the personal almost grieving that often accompanies each revelation, like it was a personal loved one who suffered such straits. Perhaps it's because, while we're an immensely vast and almost disturbingly close knit family, I've always been an outsider – I don't feel many bonds with my living kin, let alone those long dead.

Of course, I've had issues with genealogy before, specifically about my great uncle Ralph who is listed on the tree as single. Even the big obituary scrap book (yes they keep an obituary scrap book. Because that's not creepy morbid at all, right? Of course you've never seen them compete to see who manages to put the most column inches in the local newspaper whenever one of the family shuffles off their mortal coil. It kind of gives you a new definition of morbid) lists him as brother, uncle, cousin, sorely missed etc. Of course, he lived another man for oooh, 20, 30 years? Oh no official record, no obituary, not record on the tree – but I've heard enough rants about “Henrietta” and how he “stole Ralph's money”. I always wonder who Uncle Henry was (and it causes no small ructions that I insist on calling him uncle) but the family hasn't even remembered his last name.

Now fast forward a little to a family gathering I have somehow found myself talked into. Consider it triage, I do my duty at this gathering that is merely excruciatingly boring and I have done my kinship duty and don't have to attend one with relatives I actively despise. I'm sat in a corner wondering if I can sneak out my kindle and do some reading while my mother is rhapsodising about some 16th century parish records that we've all gathered to enthuse over (a many times great grandfather, a farm labourer, died young, apparently his mother was an unmarried Irish woman). Well, they've gathered to enthuse over, I've gathered to nod and smile and make appropriately positive noises at the correct moment and wishing that there was some decent coffee in the house. Deciding that the kindle was perhaps a little unsubtle, I click around on a lap top trying to find something to keep me awake, clicking past like 9,000 different electronic versions of our family forest (No tree ever looked like this). And I notice something.

There are my many many many cousins. There are their spouses. There are their endless children, even little Originalnamie (whose mother may actually kill me for calling her that) who was born earlier this year. And there's me... little me all on my lonesome. I click around, willing to assume my technical incompetence could cause all kinds of random stuff to happen with any computer. But no, my entry in the family tree is missing some important details

Like how awesome I am (of course). And how I'd happily take a chainsaw to several branches of the family tree. I think some of the biographical dates were wrong too – oh and I was missing a husband.

Yup, there I was, on the grand, much beloved and obsessed over record of all our kin - Sparky. Single.

I have to say that it was not a very good moment. To hear all these relatives gather with my mother to excitedly discuss a relative from the 16th century and check to see if they have his marriage records, yet my present day marriage is not listed.

Makes me wonder, in a couple of generations to come, will the kids grow up hearing spiteful tales about how Beloved stole my money complete with insulting nicknames – or will I just be remembered as having died a bachelor? I wonder, I wonder.

I think mainly the point I want to make with this is yet again, how your prejudice doesn't have to be extreme in order for it to be harmful. My family will be the first to say how tolerant they are of having a gay son (I know, because they've said it oh-so-many times), compared to many families – they never tried to disown me, they never attempted to change me, they never cast me out onto the street. And yes, they're right, in some ways. But they have they ever tried to treat my being as anything other than a tragic affliction and hoped – oh so hoped – that I would fix myself somehow. In a thousand ways, nearly every time I meet them, they have throw in some clueless, painful sporks – and have since before they even knew I was gay. Since before even I knew I was gay, for that matter. And it continues to this day.

Being better than the worst is never enough. Not being as bad as can be doesn't mean what you're doing still isn't pretty bad. The fact that there are people worse than you out there, doesn't mean you're not hurting people. It's always tempting to point at someone – anyone, no matter extreme – and say “I'm not that bad.” Because though it's true – there's a good chance if you're saying that that you're not that good either.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Being called "bigots" offends bigots!

One of the eternal habits of the homophobes that annoys me is the habit of appropriating the language of oppression. I'm sure we've all seen the various hate groups claiming how oppressed they are and how persecuted they are because they don't get to persecute us. After all, the EHRC bought into the line of the poor oppressed bigots not being able to be bigots and how awful that was...

And I will probably talk about that another day, particularly religious bigotry and how you aren't oppressed if you are denied the ability to persecute us.

But now I'm going to look at the whiny whiny bigots who oh-so-hate how meaaaaan we are because we call them, well, bigots. I think NOM's Maggie Gallagher has cornered the market in anxious whining about how those mean mean people were calling her prejudiced, but she's hardly alone. Indeed we have to mention bigoted MSP Bill Walker who is very upset that his bigoted self has been called a bigot. This bigot does not support GBLT equality, would much rather us be second class citizens but is soooo very upset that he's being called a bigot for it. He feels intimidated by it! (Check that instantly trying to claim victim status to justify his bigotry. Better, it tries to grab into that whole bullying meme – always good to try and grab that, isn't it bigots?)

Well, bigot Bill, if you don't want your bigoted self to be called a bigot and if the word bigot so upsets your bigoted feelings then maybe, just maybe you should try... not being a bigot.

No, really, because personally that's the only way I'm going to stop calling you it. If you think that GBLT people do not deserve all the rights, privileges, respect and treatment as straight, cis people then collect your prize, you're a bigot! Yes it's a hat shaped like an arse, probably because of the arsehattery. And I can guarantee you that no matter how much being called a bigot hurts your pweshus pweshus fee-fees, it's nothing compared to the damage bigots like you do to me and mine.

If you talk like a bigot, act like a bigot, think like a bigot and champion bigotry? Then you're a bigot. Well done, it's quacking, it's waddling, we're going to call this duck a bloody duck.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

An argument - and why why why do they bother?

So today I had a fun time arguing with someone – yes a straight someone - whether “Batty Boy” is a slur and whether it's ok to call me that.

Now there's a lot we can say here, but it's very very tiresome and I am very very tired so I'll confine myself to questioning why I had to ARGUE this. Especially whether or not it's ok to call me something.

I just said it wasn't. I get to decide what I am called and what it's ok to call me especially when the world is completely and utterly a slur with minimal attempt at general reclamation and most certainly none from me.

But really – he says it, I say no, do not say that, then we have an argument? Why? Why even fight this? Why try to make me concede that it's ok to call me a slur? Why is it so hard to say “sorry, didn't realise, I won't in future”? Why was I reduced to using threats to make him drop it?

And it's the same question I've asked a lot of times. Well, ok, it's the same things I've shouted and raved about with a lot of imaginative cursing a lot of times. It's one of the reasons I refused the beta requests from people I don't know (beyond the entitlement issues) – because if I turn round and say “hey this is so homophobic that it should be on the Westboro Baptist Church reading list” then I get an argument, usually outraged and huffy. I've seen this over and over

I know there is often going to be debate on many issues, but I am astonished at some of the things I have to argue. Some of the things I have to fight for, some of the things I have to be prepared to have a full blown raging battle over are ridiculous. There is no reason why they should be this hard or why the concept is so damn hard to understand.

“Batty boy” is a slur. It's an insult. It offends me – don't call me it, ever, in any context. Why do I have to argue this? Why do such basic things have to be a battle?

And beyond things being easy to understand I just want to know why they bother? I mean, really, what do they have invested in this argument? I know what I have invested. I don't want to be dehumanised, I don't want to cringe, I don't want to be insulted and demeaned and hurt and I think such language creates a casual atmosphere of disrespect which in turn leads to more severe and dangerous homophobia – daily dehumanisation makes larger offences seem more reasonable.

That's why I am arguing this, despite it being less than fun, draining and headache causing.

But why is he? Or the gazillion other people arguing over such ridiculous things? What do they have invested in this? Why is this argument worth their time and energy? Gods, why are they not conceding the point just to humour me for crying out loud?

But, then, I think this with a lot of homophobias – and prejudice in general – why do these people put in so much time and effort and energy and money into something that can't make even the slightest bit of difference to them?

Reviews!:Taste of the Night by Vicki Pettersson, Blood Rites by Jim Butcher, Fangs for the Fantasy Podcast and Teen Wolf

Blood Rites by Jim Butcher, book 6 of the Dresden Files

The war between the White Council and the Red Court of the vampires continued to rage (in fact, it seems to include all 3 courts of vampires) and Harry Dresden remains at the heart of it as well as maintaining his limited income doing what jobs he can as Chicago's only wizard in the yellow pages.

Harry's life remains excitingly complicated. The Black Court is in town, perhaps the most dangerous and magical of the vampires and his old enemy Mavra is gunning for him with her followers. He has to take the fight to her before they succeed in bringing him down – especially since the Black Court can multiply so quickly and kill so many people. Meanwhile a new job pushed on him by his old almost-friend Thomas of the White Court leads to him trying to protect a porn studio from a powerful and random death curse as well as dropping him neck deep in White Court politics - and those pretty vampires are so much more devious and often more dangerous than their more brutal cousins. To top it all off, he finally learns more about his missing family – and how they're not all as missing as he had previously thought.

And as an added bonus, he also has to figure out how to pay a mercenary before that mercenary extracts his own payment and disturbing revelations about his mentor. Never a quiet life for Harry.

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Taste of the Night, Book 2 of the Zodiac series by Vicki Pettersson

When we last left Oliva/Joanna she had rooted out the spy in the light, met the Tulpa and come to terms that are life had changed forever.  In The Taste of Night, Oliva/Joanna must live with the results of her decisions.  Though she has developed an attraction for Hunter, her heart still belongs to Ben.  The fact that she belongs to shadow and light continues to cause friction between her and the shadow warriors.  She fears that they will never trust her. Within the turbulence of all the conflicts, chief among her concerns is to seek vengeance for the rape that she just barely survived at the tender age of fifteen.

There was a lot of world building in this book, but it did not slow down the action in the slightest.  We learned how the comics are made which document the actions of the Shadow and Light warriors.  We learned that it is possible to kill the Tulpa and that we are quickly approaching a time when Oliva/Joanna will bring light to the world if she manages not to shift to the dark side.  In some ways the play between the dark and the light reminds of Star Wars and the Matrix. Of course, even when this approach was taken in Star Wars, it was not new, because it very much is a spin on the bible.  What makes Pettersson's Zodiac books different, is that this time, the chosen one is a woman.  I find this transgressive, because 'woman' has always been constructed as the downfall of man, rather than the savior.

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Fangs for the Fantasy Podcast episode 27

This week we discuss True Blood "Cold Grey Light of Dawn", Yasmine Galenorn's Darkling from the Sisters of the Moon series, Lauren Beukes' Zoo City, Kelley Armstrong's Bitten from the Otherworld series and Rachel Caine's Glass Houses from the Morganville Vampire series

Clicky clicky

Teen Wolf Episode 10

Another week is another episode of Teen Wolf. We're continually impressed by how this teenage show keeps the angst levels down (occasionally anyway)  and how it remains both dark and with a deep nuanced story. It continues to hold our interest and this is one that was well worth our time. What follows is our discussion on episode 10.

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Wednesday, 10 August 2011

On the riots

I really don't know what to say, yet I feel compelled to say something simply because it's far too huge not to comment on.

It is a matter of supreme sadness - to see all those people who have had their homes, their neighbourhoods

The cause? I wouldn't presume to say. I think there are far too many people who never before have given a damn about these extremely poor boroughs now deciding they know the whys and wherefores. I will say it's about more than a police shooting and I'd say most likely its because a lot of people have been very angry for a very long time.

And this is the worst possible way of expressing that anger. It achieves little, it hurts the very people who are already suffering and it gives the powers that be even more ability to crack down and pull more fuckeries. To say nothing of the violent, the thieves and general out to stir shit because they like it will leap on the back of it.

Of course it begs the question what would be a productive channel for that anger? Especially since so many of those productive channels have been ignored. I don't have the answer to that

What I do believe is that, unless the underlying problems that cause this anger are drained then this is going to keep happening and likely worse and the whole thing is depressing as all hell.

However, I am heartened to see the people running to help out - and bringing tea! There's some hope left.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Reminder: Fangs for the Fantasy Giveaway ends tomorrow

Fangs for the Fantasy is having its first give away for Kevine Hearne's book Hammered, a book in the Iron Druid Chronicle series that is among my favourite books of all times (our review of Hammered can be found here. Our reviews of Hounded and Hexed are also up).

People who read us at Fangs will be aware of how much we fanpoodle Kevin Hearne and generally put him at the peak of the best books we've read – honestly it's an effort of will for me not badger for the 4th book in the series, it really is.

We actually had an interview with Kevin Hearne (which you can find Here) which just further added to our fanpoodling. We managed not to embarrass ourselves by fawning slavishly but it was a near thing. Of course him sending us a signed book for this give away (assuming I can pry it from Renee's desperately clutching hands) just confirned his awesomeness and probably sealed our Fanpoodling for all time (unless Book 4 is late, in which case I'm going to be totally unreasonable and needy).

Read more for full details of the offer This book is most certainly worth it.

Now I'm going to have to find a crowbar or a acetylene torch to get the book free of Renee's grasp

An actor has returned to the closet

So, there's an actor, an action movie actor, who may be on of the next big things and he's rapidly reinventing himself and his image. Especially he's de-gaying it. See he has been in productions before as an openly gay man, he's been interviewed in gay publications and called himself and openly gay man, said he'd have to be himself, said he'd have to be open and wouldn't hide and even did interviews on the kinds of gay porn he likes

Fast forward and our boy has made it, he's becoming successful aaaaand the gay is gone. He's being linked to a woman romantically, his wikipedia page has been radically edited, he's no longer taking interviews from gay publications (according to his management team anyway) and his manager refuses to comment “on his private life” no matter how public he'd made it before.

I'm not going to say his name and I'm not going to provide links. I refuse to identify this man. While, emotionally, I cringe and am saddened by this, logically I more than know the cost of being open – and it is his right to be closeted if he wishes to be so. I do not approve of anyone being outed against their will unless they're attacking us. If he turns round and starts spewing homophobic bullshit, then yes, he's fair game – until then hands off, even if he has been out before. We know being out of the closet can damage any career – and it most certainly can damage the career of an action movie star. We know that being gay on this career path is going to hurt him – it's wrong and it's enraging but it's true and I don't think we can blame him for facing harsh reality. I'm not going to blame him for deciding not to try to be the trailblazer – because for every trailblazer there are no doubt 10 who burn out and die. I'm not going to say he has a duty to us GBLT folk to sacrifice himself or make his life so much harder so we can get some great representation. Yes, it would be great – but the cost and the pain of that are far too much to ask of someone and certainly too much to demand of them. If he chooses to come out, I will hail and support him. If all this is just his management “protecting” him and he slaps them down then I will praise him. But I won't make demands of him, he doesn't owe me anything and I know too well how hard and how painful being out can be to insist anyone out themselves.

No, let's put the blame where it is deserved. On the film industry, on society that says a big action manly man simply has to be straight. On the continued prejudice against GBLT leads – and yes, some have made it, but they've made it despite their sexuality as an extra hurdle to vault – and they haven't made it as manly man action stars.

Blame society on this one – because here we had a happy, joyfully out gay man, out and proud and refusing to hide who he was and he's been pushed back into the closet. And that's really really sad.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Reviews!: Glass House by Rachel Caine, Darkling by Yasmine Galenorn and True Blood

Glass House by Rachel Caine, book 1 in the Morganville Vampire series

Claire is an ultra-bright 16 year old college student. Away from home for the first time she arrives in Morganville – a Texas University town that happens to be controlled by vampires. And, having pissed off some vampire lackeys, she now has enemies – some of them with fangs.

Fleeing the dorm she arrives at Glass House, home of Michael, Shane and Eve all with their own secrets yet none of them in the vampire's pockets and all are willing to help her navigate the murky and dangerous politics of Morganville life.

Now she just has to find a way to get the vampires off her back, make her enemies back up and negotiate some kind of peace for her life.

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Darkling by Yasmine Galenorn, Book 3 in the Sisters of the Moon Series

I’ve just finished Darkling, book three in Yasmine Galenorn’s Otherworld series. It is the first book in the series that I can claim to like. Well...like is too strong a word...let’s go with: I didn’t hate it completely. Not sure whether my semi-enjoyment of this book, as compared to Witchling and Changeling, is due to a more compelling main character or whether I have developed Stockholm Syndrome--that I have been held captive by this series for so long (These short books are loooonnnng reads.) that I am beginning to feel positively toward it.

The Otherworld series follows the half-fae, half-human D’Artigo sisters: Camille, a witch, Delilah, a weretabby, and Menolly, a vampire. The trio are Earthside representatives of a supernatural intelligence agency, and, at least in the inaugural books of the series, the only thing that stands between Earth, Faerie and a demon named Shadow Wing that is bent on domination of multiple worlds. If, as I hinted in the first paragraph, I find the series painful, why ever was I inclined to read the third book in the sequence? I find the foundation story of the Otherworld series compelling: Three sisters with varying supernatural abilities, refugees from a world in political upheaval, balancing personal lives and romance, while kicking ass and keeping the world safe from a demonic big bad. I can get down with that. It’s the writing that made Witchling and Changeling tough reads. Darkling is no exception.

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True Blood

The very end of last night's episode left me screaming noooooo at my television. Alan Ball, you sir are a supreme tease. With Jason stopped by Bill's security will he manage to get away long enough to pull Jessica inside the house? There are a lot of characters that I think are extraneous to the show but Jessica is certainly not one of them, though I could do without the Hoyt, Jason, Jessica love triangle.

Last night we got a lot of Eric and Sookie getting it on in various positions. I wonder if Sookie has enough peas for her yahoo palace after that much shagging. I don't know about you but the whole Eric mooning over Sookie thing has gotten old. I love bad ass, take no prisoners Viking, and not the musty I don't want my memories back because you may not love me anymore Eric. Perhaps Sookie just brings the musty out in men.

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Sunday, 7 August 2011

Straight Pride day?

So Sao Paolo has decided that it's vital to have a Straight Pride parade legally recognised. I raise an eyebrow in surprise because I thought it already was straight pride day on that date. For that matter, it's straight today as well! Congrats!

And it was yesterday.

We also have straight pride scheduled for Tuesday.

In fact, it's every day. 365 days of the year. One long celebration of straight pride. Hey, and you know on our Pride days? Well our Pride tends to be one parade, it tends to be surrounded by a whole buncha straight pride.

Ultimately I just can't grasp my vision of pride in a straight context. Not the parades or the displays or anything like that, but the heart of it. The heart of Pride, in my eyes, has always been about shame – it's rejection. The rejection of the idea that we should hide, that we all need to either not exist or be closeted and hidden away from the eyes of “decent” (i.e. straight) people. This is Pride, it is like a coming out on a grand public scale, to me it has always been a great big megaphone yelling “I am Me and there's Nothing Wrong with That!”.

No-one has ever said there was something wrong with being straight. There is no need to assert straightness in a world that assumes and honours it. The need and foundation for GBLT Pride is completely absent in Straight Pride.

So why has this city declared Straight Pride day?

Well, to quote them it's to “raise awareness and encourage the public to safeguard the morals and good customs.”

And Councilman Carlos Apolinario said the project was only one way to speak out against “excesses and privileges” for the gay community.

Right then, so I think it's been very badly named. Let's have some more accurate labels shall we?Let's call it what it is – a city wide homophobia-fest. Prejudice Pride day. Homophobia Endorsement Day. Bigot Day!

Yes, I think I'd go with “Bigot Day”

Review: Play of Passion by Nalini Singh, Book 9 of the Psy/Changeling series

Indigo is a lieutenant with the Snowdancers pack and one of the few dominant female soldiers. Third in the pack, she has few equals and even less superiors and this causes her a problem – because she and her wolf do not want a subordinate male to be a partner.

Enter Andrew, tracker for the pack. With his dominant wolf and indeterminate rank, he may fit Indigo well, if it weren't for that grey area left by the unknown rank and the looming worry about whether their excellent working relationship would be compromised by a failed romantic encounter.

They battle their mutual attraction as well as continued problems from both being dominant wolves, negotiating each others dominance, rank and control.

The Psy are on the verge of civil war, the Council fractured between those who are desperate to preserve – and expand Silence and those who see it falling as inevitable. The latter faction is now closely linked with the Snowdancer and Darkriver Changeling packs and both stand to be dragged into the war by their Psy members and simply to protect their territory and San Francisco. Already, the pro-Silence Psy are moving in force against the Changelings as the war begins.

I have to say, I was deeply disappointed with this book, though that's not entirely fair of me. This is difficult. Because part of my unhappiness with this book is genre related – therefore highly subjective, even more than most reviewing – rather than quality related.

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So, me is back kinda

So, remember when i said "gremlins not the kindle"? Yeah, that was silly wasn't it? That was kind of tempting fate, right? That was like giving Loki the finger and telling him "I double dog dare you" right?

So, the screen is kinda frozen except for a bottom half inch. I think I dropped something on it. I never realised how dependent I'd become on this thing.

This means, dear people, that for the last few days I have been without internet, without a car and without my kindle. I actually had to do stuff. With people. Actual people. Without a computer screen in the way - and I had to use other people's transport.

Truly, I have suffered

Well except today when I decided to stop playing with the world and had a Lie to Me marathon instead. Good programme - but even better Tim Roth pushes allll of my buttons. Twice. Three times in this role. (What? I have a thing for rascals. Sue me)

On the blog, I'm catching up with things but to decide on the comment system:

I am keeping intense debate. I looked at Blogger's commenting system and it's not very good (lack of threads?! Really?) and has less back of the house tools to aid me in moderating (like putting certain people on insta moderation. Honestly - why do you even keep trying? And really, how many HOURS did you spend copying and pasting slurs on every back post that never saw the light of day because of insta-moderation? Get a hobby already). Besides, if I went back to Blogger I can see no way of uploading the currently existing comments (short of copy and pasting manually. No).

My inquiries weren't about people commenting on LJ - that's fine. but people had emailed me and said "I can't see how to comment". Aaaand I don't really know why. At the bottom of each post there's a bit marked Comments clicky and you get the option. So I assumed it was broken?

I know there's a character limit but I thought it was huge and vast? Akin to LJs. Is it limited?

You should be able to log in either with intense debate, or twitter, or open ID. I've tried to make a few things clearly. Let me know

So... all good?

Friday, 5 August 2011

Comments comments

So Intense debate isn't everyone's cup of tea, is causing problems and making it hard to comment (I don't mind if people use LJ, but people have tried to comment on the blog and it hasn't worked).

Trying to take it off could mean losing the comments on there. I've downloaded the XML file of those comments now and I'd like to upload them to blogger which is... THEORETICALLY possible....

In theory?

And yes, my net is still playing me up

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Comment problems?

Are some people having trouble commenting?

I use intense debate commenting system because it gives more options for banning/blocking/turning into a pumpkin when people show their arses. And this is USEFUL yes yes it is. Blogger is a platform I chose for its simple simplicity (I can't even get twitter to work), but I felt I needed a little more for the comment section.

At the risk of talking down to people, to comment you have to click ont he comments (0) at the bottom of each post - it doesn't just show existing comments it has the option to comment there as well. I've had a few emails from people saying they can't find where to comment, is this bit missing or not showing up maybe on some browsers?

(and Sean Kennedy, how how how did you manage to comment using Blogger's original comment system? I have no idea I thought it was turned off! I don't even know how to reply using it :). But while tempting, I chose not to go the name & shame route because a) it's not me b) I have seen the epic flamewar clusterfucks consume so many people over this issue period and I ain't that daft to jump into that snake pit, noooo way c) I have emails and first names, could be anyone.)

So first my car, then my home internet

Dies a horrible horrible death. And I still haven't got round to car fixing.

Of course, everyone tells me things come in threes.

NOT THE KINDLE! Do you hear me gremlins? The kindle is OUT OF BOUNDS! Go bother Beloved, he has lots of silly techno gizmos. Look, an Ipad! Pretty Ipad! Go break that.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Review: Death Masks by Jim Butcher, Book 5 of the Harry Dresden Files

Why, I do believe we have arrived.

Harry Dresden is dealing with the ongoing fallout of the war between the Wizard's White Council and the Vampire's Red Court. A war he started and where he still very much stands at the eye of the storm. The Red Court noble, Ortega is in town with a proposition for Harry. A duel. A duel between Harry and Ortega to the death. If Harry wins Chicago is declared a neutral zone. If he refuses the duel? His friends will be targeted and killed. Faced with this non-choice, Harry is forced to accept the duel against a vampire centuries his senior. But life is never so simple for Harry. Susan is back in town, still dealing with the affects of being infected with Red Court vampirism she must struggle against her urges and her attraction to Harry as well as forward her own agenda and the agenda of the organisation to which she now belongs.

Worst of all, the Denarians are in town. Not just demons, but servants and vessles of the Fallen themselves. They're in town and they seek to acquire the stolen Shroud of Turin and use it in their nefarious plotting (and yes, I got to use the words “nefarious plotting” in a serious sentence. Yes this amuses me) opposed by Michael and his fellow Fists of God, the Knights of the Cross and yet further complicated by John Marcone, crime boss also being involved.

Never simple, but most certainly epic.

I would say this is the book where everything this series has been promising to be has finally got into action. Every book until now seems to have been an introduction paving the way to this book, though Summer Knight was epic in its own right.

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Oooh look, entitlement in my inbox!

I always get more traffic by email than I do by comments. Gods alone know why. I will look at my blog and LJ and see 3 comments huddled together, open my inbox and see a gazillion queued together. One of the idiosyncrasies of life I guess.

Anyway, my m/m posts seem to be getting a lot more hits (or so my vague reading of the technology. I don't promise it to be vaguely accurate) and I have a lot of email related to them. Surprisingly, most of them are generally decent and raise my faith in humanity a little, just a little but they do. Of course, the second most common make me despair and cover all the same problems I've covered 100 times before, with an added bonus of telling me what I should and should not consider a safe space. Uh-huh – I decide my safe spaces, thank you. You can suggest a safe space I may be interested in, but if I say “no, I don't go near that, it's unsafe for me” that's not up for debate.

The third class of emails are very similar: “Please beta X” where X is m/m, slash or some variation thereof.

Now, I do beta books for some authors. Because I know them, consider them friends, respect them, love their work and know they're not going to hand me something to read that will make me cringe, hurt or have my eyes explode. I appreciate the lack of eye 'splodies.

Even if those wonderful people asked me to beta at the moment I would be forced to decline (or say it'll take me an age) since I am so overcommitted with work, other projects etc. There are simply not enough hours – or enough energy – at the moment.

But a complete stranger - several - asking me to devote no small amount of time to something that could be very painful. No, I don't think even if I spent all day burrowing through sudoku I would be doing that. I'm not confident enough in it having sufficient return for the energy and risk I take doing it. Still I suppose I don't fault people for asking.

Now, when receiving a refusal, I did not expect the repeated response along the lines of “so you're just attacking people, you don't actually care about it getting better, if you did you'd do this!!!” Or words to that effect.

Well, if you put it that way, let me give a brief thought on your work – it's probably going to have allll the problems I've posted about. Because if you have so little respect for gay men that you think a complete stranger who is gay owes you a free service, owes you his time, energy and potential mental strength, if you are willing to dismiss triggers, if you are willing to ignore that I might have other commitments beyond the demands of strangers, if you are failing to understand how much it could cost me to read a book that is deeply problematic in it's portrayals - then the chances of you treating portrayals of gay men with even a modicum of respect are pretty damn low.

Please go write a book about aardvarks or something. Aardvarks don't care if you disrespect them.