"I think we need to come up with a safe word."
"Blue cheesecake," Beth mumbled, more to herself.
"That's two words.  That's how people die.  It needs to be one word."
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This story starts me out with a laugh and a little sexual innuendo (and ends the same way).  What better way to start a piece labeled a Sci-Fi Erotic Short?

A playful, at times silly, erotica that just might have you craving cheesecake.

About the Author:

Confessions: 
1.) I laugh (a lot) when I'm nervous.
2.) I blush every time I write a sex scene.
3.) I love Big Bang Theory, Football, and True Blood.
4.) I'm a horrible insomniac and go days without sleeping.
5.) I have a crude sense of humor and drag all conversations to the gutter.

Be a fan on Goodreads.

Author's Website:
www.charityparkerson.com
Follow her on Twitter:
@CharityParkerso
Add to Goodreads.

Buy the Short:
   Amazon US | Amazon UK 
 
The lure of the Sun calls me.  Its once white starlight is replaced by a roiling sea of crimson radiation.  I watch sunspots shatter as yellow-orange geysers of flame thrust through them, fleeing the Sun's deteriorating surface.

I want to be closer.
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After reading and reviewing Volume 1, I was looking forward to Volume 2 and it doesn't disappoint.  Keeping to the feel of Volume 1, Volume 2 continues in its legacy with stories of nightmares, horror, and unhappy endings.

The first story, "CAL" by Lisa Gail Green kept me hoping that things would work out for the main characters.  Filled with tension and dread, I kept hoping our deepest fears would be proven wrong...

"The Terrible, Perfect Duet" by Trista A. Bissett tells a coming of age story, with a twist.  At times, I found myself wondering, "What is she turning into?"

"Helios" by Leslie S. Rose was a story that screamed tragedy from the very beginning.  Throughout the story, I wondered what would be their downfall.  Would the father she never knew cast her aside?  Would her mate lead her astray?  Would they, like Icarus, reach for the heavens and fall to the earth?  As I read on, I had the sneaking suspicion the couple would never make it off the planet with the rest of the evacuees.  I'll let you read it to find out what really happened.

"Encrypted" by Ian Kezsbom had me trying to put the clues together like a mystery.  I'm known for figuring out the whodunits before everyone else (including Sherlock Holmes), so saying I saw the ending a mile away doesn't mean it was obvious.  Still, I loved trying to piece the reality that Kezsbom paints together to figure out what's really going on.  Think deeper and maybe you'll figure it out too.

"Lighting the Sacred Way" by S. P. Sipal was a cool story and different from the rest, at least in my opinion.  I can honestly say I didn't see the ending coming.  It was a good ending.  I liked the ending.  It balanced out all the other endings.

Source: Amazon.com (Gifted from the author)
eReader: Kindle for iPad
File type: MOBI

About the Author

I am a writer of both adult speculative fiction and middle-grade fiction. When not writing, I work as a film and television picture editor.

My wife and I began the anthology series Journeys of Wonder because we wanted to provide a new outlet for speculative fiction. Each volume comprises stories from various authors (I personally have 2 stories in volume 1 and 1 in volume 2).

Be a fan on Goodreads.

 
When the door opens the world disappears.

I turned the knob.  No one in the room stopped me.  They couldn't stop me.  The door had already been opened.  I knew that now.  I pulled, and the door swung silently.
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At first, I wasn't so sure about this book because of the cover.  The cover reminded me of the stories I used to read as a kid.  You know, like Scariest Stories to Tell in the Dark.  I still remember one of the songs in the back.  I think it went something like: The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out, in your stomach and out your snout.  I don't remember the rest, but the cover made me thing of those types of stories.

As I read the book, which is quite short and consisting of five short stories, I realized that this book is a lot like those childhood tales.  Except, it is geared and adapted to an adult audience.  It was brilliant.

The first story, "The Door" by Ian Kezsbom, was a perfect start to the series.  "When the door opens the world disappears."  I loved how you gradually realize what's going on.  What is that room?  Why are they there?  What do they have in common?  You'll have to read to find out.

"Blackout" and "Eye of the Wolf" by Lisa Gail Green were great chilling tales.  You know bad things are happening.  You may even suspect even worse things are going to happen.  Still, the author ends the stories with the type of closure I haven't read in years.  Happy endings are overrated.

"Infinity" by Ian Kezsbom was predicable, but still a fun read and cool concepts.  The last story, "Afterdeath" by Leslie S. Rose might just have been the most powerful story in the book.  The story had me in its grip, on the edge of my seat and vying for the couple, for a happily ever after.  And with a collection like this one, there's no telling whether they got it.

All in all, I enjoyed this short collection of stories and for $0.99, what's to lose?  So sit back, relax, and enjoy a little piece of your childhood with an adult twist.  You'll be glad you did.

Source: Amazon.com (Gifted from the author)
eReader: Kindle for iPad
File type: MOBI

About the Author

I am a writer of both adult speculative fiction and middle-grade fiction. When not writing, I work as a film and television picture editor.

My wife and I began the anthology series Journeys of Wonder because we wanted to provide a new outlet for speculative fiction. Each volume comprises stories from various authors (I personally have 2 stories in volume 1 and 1 in volume 2).

Be a fan on Goodreads.

 
"What the hell did you do, Eden?"  He dropped her arm without warning, and she pitched sideways onto the vanity, directly in front of the large mirror hanging over the sink.

Hearing the shower turn on, she gripped the edges of the sink and stared at herself in the mirror.  Red-brown smudges, approximately the size of one of her fingers, drew three short lines across each cheek and one traveling from her hairline to the bridge of her nose.  Like warrior paint.
Stewart, Lauren. Hyde, an Urban Fantasy. Off The Hook Publishing, 2012. MOBI file.
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This book made me want to jump on the roof tops shouting Hallelujah.  Yeah, it's that good.  Looking back, I'm not entirely certain what elements were to blame for my high esteem of this book.  It simply pulled me in and dragged me along.  Though not a short book at 418 pages, I read it in a few hours (maybe eight total).  I couldn't put it down.  The last couple of days, if I got in bed by one in the morning, I was doing good.  And that's with having obligations that require me to be up by 6:30 in the morning.  I was dying on my feet yesterday with five hours sleep.  Brilliant.

Filled with intrigue, sexual tension (and, yeah, some vivid sex scenes), swear words (so, you know I'm happy), double-crosses, murder, mayhem, characters waking up covered in blood, shady organizations, and, of course, main characters with a side they can neither control nor remember the actions of; what's not to love?  

Stewart pairs Eden, the female lead you can't help but like, with Mitch, a character that you should love to hate but just can't seem to.  The characters are deep and, I think, that's part of the reason Mitch is a character I came to like so much.  If he wasn't such a deep character, his abrasiveness would send people running... and does, just not the readers.  I like that Mitch could just as easily been the bad guy of the story... except there are evils far worse out there than Hyde, his alter ego.

Hyde is the type of book that makes you want to run to download the next book in the series.  I just didn't want it to end.  I had to know what was going to happen next.  I won't just recommend this book; you are truly missing out if you let this treasure pass you by.

Source: Amazon.com (Gifted from a friend)
eReader: Kindle for iPad
File type: MOBI

About the Author:

I am a single mother of two incredible kids who knows the world well enough to put half of my income into therapy accounts for them.

I was a modern dancer, a choreographer, a secretary, a massage therapist, an English teacher, and, for two horrendously guilt-laden days, a carnie. Yeah, that’s right—a carnie. And I let the little kids play until they won a prize, without their parents having to fork-over their entire life savings. Seriously, don’t play those games—you won’t win.

I was a woman who never realized that all of those “to do” lists were attempts at trying something she really wanted “to do”—write. It’s not the form one does it in, just the doing that is important.

And now I am a writer. A tremendously happy, fulfilled writer of urban fantasy, mystery, paranormal romance, and a bunch of other things, all with a comedic element because life is too insane not to poke fun at.

Be a fan on Goodreads.

Author's Website:
www.readlaurens.com
Follow Her on Twitter:
@readlaurens

Add Hyde (Book I) to Goodreads.

Add Jekyll (Book II) to Goodreads
and get alerted when it releases.

Buy the Book:
Smashwords
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes

I always encourage buying from Smashwords, when available, for several reasons:
1: You are doing more to support the author because they get more per book there.
2: It's one stop shopping.  They have every ebook format possible.  
3: You can download the book as many times as you want.
And 4: No DRM's, so no hassle. 
 
Yep, that's me.  It seems I've become obsessed with proper comma usage.  And really, it's so vital to a good story.  Sure, some places, like between dialog tags and the dialog, can be forgotten without seriously impeding the meaning or readability of the sentence, but others will not only confuse the reader, but change the meaning.  It amazes me that even those authors that had an editor (with a publisher), that should have caught it, still miss this on a regular basis.

So here's a few instances where authors tend to go wrong...

  • He said, "Thank you, David."  There should always be a comma separating the rest of a sentence from the dialog.  Also, always have a comma before a name that is neither the subject nor direct object of a sentence.
  • As I hung up the phone, I leapt toward the kitchen.  A comma should be used when indicating a pause for the reader.  In this example, the reader can't run straight from phone to I.  They don't connect.  They are separate, though related, and must be connected by a comma.
  • It’s strange one of my favorite things is sleeping when I’m an insomniac but, then again, maybe not.  You can remove the intervening "maybe not" and still have a complete sentence.  This is a major one authors mess up on.  When you have a portion of the sentence surrounded by commas, test to see how removing it would influence the sentence.  If the sentence isn't right, you put the commas in the wrong place.  A common example would be putting words like "but" or "and" on the wrong side of the comma.  If I put "but" on the other side of the comma, the sentence would read, "It's strange one of my favorite things is sleeping when I'm an insomniac maybe not."  That sentence doesn't make sense.  It's wrong.
  • Eating and sleeping had always been my favorite activities, though.  This one is probably a redundancy of one of the previous bullets, but I thought I'd put it in anyway.  The sentence is complete without "though".  It's an addition to the sentence.  A pause in reading is required.

I'd love to show some great examples of improper comma usage, but that would require posting copyrighted content on my blog, which I won't do without permission.  The one to pay the most attention to is the third bullet.  It has a massive influence on sentence meaning and can leave a reader confused, reading a sentence over and over trying to elucidate what the sentence is supposed to say.

And I was intending to make a graphic for this post, but it's after midnight, I'm exhausted, and I have to get up at 6:30a.m. tomorrow (yay, not...).  Wait, make that today.  Grrr...  I think I'm going to die...

 
Probably, a lot of you are thinking things like cell phones, wallets, keys, maybe even pants if you're so inclined.  Since I'm a gadget guru, you're probably also thinking things like my laptop, my iPod touch, my iPad, camera, and on and on.  But I've routinely forgotten my cell phone (for days) and have forgotten my wallet on more than one occasion.  I can forget my keys and still get into my house, so I can do without them too.  Though I love my electronics, I can do without those as well for periods of time.

There's really only one thing I can't do without:

A Book.

I am completely an utterly incapable of going anywhere without a book.  I can't even go to the bathroom for fear I will get stuck in there for a good deal of time ("thinking" as my mom would call it).  This might seem strange to some, especially when I am in the lab and leave my backpack but bring my iPad (which has my eReader on it) and a winter coat (because it's about fifty degrees in the woman's bathroom!).  It can also lead to some hilarious and frantic searches as you are trying to hold it in but can't find your chosen reading material.

I had one time where my car broke down when I was only doing a quick run to the grocery store.  I had to stay by my car and was stuck there for over an hour.  Because I wasn't planning to be gone long, I didn't bring a book with me.  I had some nasty things to say to, fingers to fling at, etc the other drivers and the occasional pedestrian.  I was about pulling my hair out with boredom.  And that's hardly the only example.

I've also had plenty of instances where I forgot to bring a book to work (back when I worked at Labcorp) or finished my book before the day ended and didn't have anything else to read.  

I.  Would.  Go.  Mad.

Just like I can't function on too little sleep, I have to be able to fill my lull periods with reading.  I need a book.  I need to be able to read.  Twitter doesn't cut it.  Facebook doesn't cut it.  Playing sudoku and puzzle games don't cut it.  I need my books.

If you're wondering what brought this on, I just got stuck without a book.  I don't think it was very long, but I didn't have a watch on me and it felt like an ETERNITY.
 
The other day I was thinking that, since I write book reviews that drive traffic to places like Amazon, a good way of earning revenue on my website would be Amazon's Associates program, which gives you a percentage for traffic you drive to their site that results in a sale.  I get revenue without annoying my readers with ads.  Win, win, right?

I read all the rules and regs, caveats and addendums, and decided to join.  I started the process, they asked for my address and allowed me to choose my information from my Amazon account, then I got an error.  I didn't realize it was an error at first.  It just wanted me to type in my address and select my state.  My state wasn't listed.  WTF?!?

Okay, no worries.  I'll send an email to them asking about the problem.  This was the response I got:

Hello Danielle,

Because you are located in North Carolina, we are unable to accept your application to join the Associates Program because of unconstitutional legislation enacted in your state. In the event that North Carolina repeals this tax collection scheme, we would certainly be happy to re-open our Associates program to North Carolina residents.

Information about this legislation may be obtained from the Performance Marketing Alliance Website:www.performancemarketingassociation.com.

We appreciate your understanding.

Thank you for your inquiry. Did I solve your problem?

If yes, please click here: 
http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/survey?p=A1XFF90M6HDTXZ&k=hy 

If no, please click here: 
http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/survey?p=A1XFF90M6HDTXZ&k=hn

I wanted to click no, but knew it would only put me through a redundant page-looping hell.  No, you didn't help me.  And, yeah, I found it real amusing that you called it a "tax collection scheme", like North Carolina is a con artist with no right to collect taxes.  Amazon, you're a dick.  I know the "unconstitutional legislation" Amazon is referring to.  And, no, it isn't unconstitutional.  Requiring that Amazon pay the state the taxes it is OWED is not unconstitutional.  Did my state go about it wrong?  Yes.  That doesn't change the fact that Amazon owes the state of North Carolina (and almost every other state in the US of A) hundreds of millions of dollars in sales taxes.  For all I know, it might be in the billions of dollars.  There's no way of knowing.

Amazon, as many people know, works on a loophole in sales tax laws.  Other internet companies work with similar business models, but Amazon is the biggest offender.  Because the company is based in one state and the sale is made in another, the sale falls into this no man's land.  The company is only required to declare in-state sales to its taxing agency.  In these cases, the buyer is technically required to declare all out of state purchases where they did not incur sales taxes.  This never happens.  So, in a revolutionary move, the state of North Carolina passed a law requiring online businesses to pay sales taxes to the state when the sale is made to residents living in North Carolina, regardless of the state the business is based out of.  They have been unable to implement it and, to my knowledge, are probably still locked in a legal battle with Amazon over the new legislation.  I shudder to imagine their next move.
 
I feel like this is all I'm doing lately.  I've been reviewing a lot of new authors lately.  I've found a lot of gems, but I've also read a few books that make me grind my teeth.  Being the person I am, wanting to help other authors and liking the story, if not the editing, I send critiques of the books I don't finish just the same as the books I do.

But I'm starting to get tired of the disillusionment emails I get for my time.  Things like, "But I had an editor!" or, "I just don't understand," or "I can't believe my editor missed so much," or "I feel shocked," or "I feel lost."

Is there something wrong with saying, "Thank you"?  Or what about, "I appreciate you helping me"?  "Thank you for taking the time to review my novel"?  I feel like the bad guy when authors dump all that on me.  I'm just trying to help.  Rethink how you went about editing your novel, find other habits that work better, learn from your mistakes.  It's not the end of the world, it's just a reviewer giving you the chance to improve.  I could have put it in a review, blogged about it, posted it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, and Smashwords, thus making my words a permanent blemish on your writing career.  I didn't.  The story's fine.  You have potential.  It just wasn't ready to be published yet.
 
I have an iPad 2.  I love my iPad.  And like many iPad owners, I don't see the point in buying a dedicated eReader like the Kindle when I can just as easily download an app.  Saves me space in my already electronics-ladden bag and saves me money.  Win, win.  But what apps are best?

My journey of discovery started where a lot of iPad owners likely started, with the iBook app simply because it came with the device.  I've used three different apps and I compare them here.
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Image from iTunes.
iBooks

At first, iBooks was a pretty, seemingly functional app that allowed me to read my ePub ebooks.  But, since I only had a PC, uploading ebooks that weren't purchases from the iBooks bookstore was confusing and difficult.  It had to be done through iTunes (which was abominably slow) and it took a great deal of effort to figure out how it was done (I had to do a great deal of research on Google).

But, I got the books on my iPad and I was reading them.  I liked the way the pages turned (and I would frequently play with the page turns as I was reading, slipping my finger back and forth to make it distort).  It also showed how many pages were left in the chapter, what percentage you were into the book and how many pages were in the book. 

But quickly, I found that, unless I set the font so huge that an old person with vision problems could see it, I couldn't finish a page without the iPad going to sleep.  There is no way of changing the duration it takes before it sleeps or turning off this sleep setting in iBooks.  Also, there was no easy way of changing the brightness of the screen while reading.  Since my eyes are very sensitive, I was constantly wanting to change it but would have to stop reading to do so.  I went in search of greener pastures...

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Image from iTunes.
Stanza

After a good deal of research, I tried Stanza and fell in love.  The more I used it, the more I loved it.  Though it isn't as pretty as iBooks and doesn't tell you the total pages in the book at your current font size, it is far more functional in ways that count.

First off, Stanza is easier to upload books to, even in iTunes.  It also allows you to upload books outside of iTunes, including using Calibre (a computer program for organizing ebooks and converting them between formats), email, and direct download from the internet (Email and internet are options for iBooks as well but I didn't learn this until later and it didn't help me for the books I already owned).  Hell, you can even access the Smashwords directory directly from the app.

Stanza also allows you a lot more versatility in how you read your books, giving you a plethora of backgrounds and fonts, allowing you to deactivate sleep while the app is open and even allowing you to lock orientation.

Stanza also lets you quickly adjust the brightness of the screen, simply by dragging your finger up and down.  You don't have to go to a menu to do this and thus stop reading.  I am constantly dragging my finger up and down to fix the brightness based upon changes in lighting conditions where I am reading.  I don't even think about it anymore.  My finger just hovers there, ready to turn a page or move up and down as needed.

The ability to deactivate sleep and lock orientation are probably my two favorite features of this app.  As I said before, unless you're a speed reader, iBooks and Kindle (which I'm getting to) will dim the screen and put the iPad to sleep before you can finish a page.  I don't care about saving battery power.  I mean, honestly, what are the chances that I'm going to put my iPad down and forget about it?  Besides, the machine has ten hours of battery life.  That'll last me all day.  I think I can afford a few minutes sitting there with the screen active while I stir my dinner.

But my favorite feature is, by far, the lock orientation mode.  It might not seem it, but it's a godsend.  I don't know about you, but when I read, I fidget and squirm.  I might start out sitting upright with the iPad in my lap, but I quickly shift and it's to my right, then I'm laying on my side and the iPad is on it's side as well, then I'm hanging upside down with my feet in the air like a monkey and the iPad in a similar orientation (I'm not even sure that's an exaggeration).  I don't care where the floor is.  I want the screen to be in the same orientation as my face.  I don't want it to suddenly switch on me when I lean over or lay down.  I didn't want that with paper books.  I don't want it in an eReader.

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Image from iTunes.
Kindle for iPad

I'm not going to say much about the Kindle for iPad because, frankly, it is almost identical to iBooks.  The only difference is that Kindle for iPad doesn't tell you your progress within a chapter, which is why I am not overly fond of people sending me review copies in Kindle (MOBI) format.  It is the worst eReader app I have on my iPad, but nothing else reads MOBI so I'm stuck if someone sends me a review copy from Amazon.  

But at least it's better than PDF, which, by the way, Stanza does too.

 
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This was a fun read from beginning to end.  It is a romance with a spattering of Greek mythology integral to the story.  I found myself trying to figure out what the bad guy was up to, even frequently getting it wrong as I didn't yet have enough information to fill in the puzzle.

While clearly romance, the story wasn't what I would call mommy porn, as it's come to be called.  A primary theme of the novel is the relationship dynamics between the characters, which are constantly in flux as you try to figure out who wants who and who is related, which brings about its own tension.  It's kind of like daytime soaps in that way, actually, now that I think about it.  But in a good way.  The book keeps you guessing and engaged in the lives of those in it, whether they be good guys or bad.

McKnight is great about using foreshadowing and giving out information piecemeal so as to engage the reader and entice them to read further without becoming irritating.

The main character, Lucessa, had me laughing over her attitude and snarky thoughts.  Maxim had me vying for him, cheering him on and hoping things would work out.  Guy and Marie left me agonizing for them as I saw how Guy beat himself up over the choices he'd had to make and how Marie struggled, breaking her daughter's heart over and over again without even realizing.

As a word of warning, I found a few grammar mistakes in the book, mostly comma usage and using present tense instead of past tense, but it didn't affect my enjoyment of the book even though I'm a perfectionist.  It also didn't pull me out of the story, which I have had happen before.  I have had to put a book down because of poor editing.  I will not review it if it doesn't reach a certain standard.  I won't even finish it.  I am not very forgiving of mistakes in editing but these I could easily overlook.

Only in her Dreams, with so many twists and turns, will keep you trying to put the clues together as you yearn for the characters to make it through.  Definitely a good read.

Source: Amazon.com
eReader: Kindle for iPad
File type: MOBI

About the Author

Christina McKnight is a book lover turned writer. From a young age, her mother encouraged her to tell her own stories. She’s been writing ever since. 

In college, Christina took many courses to help develop and enhance her writing skills. She completed a seventy-page dissertation on the need for community policing in American society. Now, she focuses on Historical Romance, Urban Fantasy, and Paranormal Romance.

Christina lives in Northern California with her husband, daughter, two boxers, two cats, and a Beta fish named Marmaduke.  If she’s not behind a computer screen or book, she’s busy leading her daughter’s Girl Scout troop. She is very active in several writing groups and a local book group.

Become a fan on Goodreads.

Author's Website: 
http://www.christina-mcknight.blogspot.com
Follow her on Twitter:
@CMcKnightWriter
Add to Goodreads.

Buy the Book on:
Amazon US