Tag Archives: paranormal

Fangtastic Friday: Twilight-inspired artwork & comic by Mangled Stare

This month, Austin comic artist Will Rodriguez celebrates the 10-year anniversary of his quirky web comic Mangled Stare, a dedicated accomplishment in today’s fickle entertainment market.  The Mighty Mangler may be the brain and brush behind MS, but he’s quick to give credit to his family for the handy supply of situational humor and for the occasional coloring assistance of his junior-graphic-artists-in-training.  When asked about awards and honors earned by Mangled Stare, Will said…

Aside from the praise and admiration of my family, no other awards really carry the same priority or worth. ^_^ (Though, I don’t mind mentioning that I have held the Chipotle Chowdown Champion title at each convention I’ve attended in the last 6 years.)

Aww.  And, congratulations… I think?  *wink*  Earlier this month, MS published a comic that Twilight fans everywhere, especially the significant others of TwiFans, will appreciate…

Psst – click to make it bigger and open in a new window!

Q&A with the Mighty Mangler!

From the comic, it’s clear that your honey is staunchly Team Jacob.  How do you feel about all the Twilight hype?

You’d never know if not for  her “Team Jacob” tshirt, keychain, posters, or bumper stickers, huh? Yes, my wife is extremely Team Jacob. I think Stephanie Meyers took a genre and turned it on its ear. She spun a story that built a very strong and dedicated fan-base and I applaud her for that.

So you visited Forks on your Spring Break… how exactly did she talk you into that? (hopeful TwiFans everywhere are holding their breath…)

She smiled and asked me in her sweetest girlie voice. >_< We were planning a road-trip and since I’d never seen the Pacific Ocean, I agreed that a drive to the west coast would be fun for the whole family. Besides, my wife supports my artistic endeavors and other geeky obsessions so it’s only fair that I support hers.

Did you enjoy the trip?  What did you like best about it?

Well, we all had a fantastic time. The drive from Texas to Washington is a beautiful one. Utah was just breath-taking and the Quileute Reservation was humbling to visit. The best part of the trip, though, was when we surprised my wife by telling her that we were staying in the “Jacob Cabin” right on the treaty line, from the books. The entire cabin was Twilight-themed and each of the rooms was named after a member of the Black clan. We had the entire cabin to ourselves and made use of that fact with all of our children.

Do you have any advice for fellow TwiFan significant others?

Unless you have a significant other who enjoys a battle, fake it! Even if you think vampires should be fanged, stone-cold murderers, pretend to like it or, if nothing else, don’t bad-mouth a Twihard or their stories. Play your cards right and you’ll reap all the benefits of his or her Twilight addiction. ^_-

Can we look forward to any other Twilight-inspired comics in the near future?  (Breaking Dawn is coming!  *nudge nudge*)

My wife is counting down the minutes until the first part of Breaking Dawn releases! If she has any say in the matter (and she nearly always does), I can guarantee plenty more Twilight humor from Mangled Stare.

How did you get started in comics and what have you done to keep yourself motivated all these years?

When my wife told me she was pregnant with our first child, I knew that my childhood dream of becoming a cartoonist had no better springboard than the milestone of parenthood. I wanted to be able to leave a legacy for my children and show them that any of their dreams were achievable. Their praise and the continued support of my wife and readers, in addition to my love of cartooning and making folks laugh, make motivation easy. Ten years-easy, as a matter of fact!

Do you have any goals or plans (besides world domination, of course) for Mangled Stare that you’re excited about?

World domination comes with WAY too much responsibility! Keeping my three kiddos in line is enough for me, thanks. I am working on a graphic novel with a great friend of mine which will serve as a sort of precursor to Mangled Stare. I’m also working on some other stories I’ve been dying to tell since high school through animated cartoons as well as future graphic novels.

What advice would you give to young artists just starting out in the industry?

Be true to your craft. Never “settle” or compromise your passions for creativity in the attempt to “succeed.” Hone your craft and never stop learning. Art is organic and dynamic, so you should never stagnate your style. Draw something every day; anything! Just keep drawing. Accept constructive critisism and avoid being defensive; art is subjective.

And finally (no, you can’t skip this one!), declare your Twilight “Team”!

Well, if I have to choose, I guess I’m team Alice, though I’ve always had an affinity for werewolves over vampires, just because shapeshifting is cooler than drinking blood…

Pfft, blasphemy (from the GT Team Edward corner)!  Thanks to Will Rodriguez from Mangled Stare for allowing GT to pepper him with Twilight fangirl-type questions and feature his work.  =)  Best of luck and we hope to see many future Twilight-inspired MS comic strips!

Related links:

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Review: Dark Leopard Magic, by Sapphire Phelan

TLDR recap:

Orphaned a 16, Dev has lead a difficult and lonely life as a transient wereleopard shifter.  Montsho, alpha of his African wereleopard pard, has known only women and is uncomfortably surprised to find that the Dreaming has brought him news of a male as his mate.  While Dev helps Montsho learn to accept and become comfortable in their new relationship, he discovers a mystery that hits too close to home to ignore.  These two strong-willed men will face more than just social struggles on their journey together.  This story is erotic and sweet, but the writing is a little lacking in finesse.

    • Title: Dark Leopard Magic
    • Series: n/a
    • Author: Sapphire Phelan
    • Prominent Characters: Dev & Montsho
    • Recommended reader age: 18+
    • Sexual content level: heavy and explicit (vulgar language typical of erotica)
    • Classification: m/m erotica

***** CONTENT ALERT: This is a review of a male/male erotica book.  If anything about that statement offends you or if you have delicate sensibilities, you may consider skipping this review.  Nothing here is crude or explicit, but some of the visuals evoked might be disturbing to you.  Consider yourself warned.  =) *****

Thoughts:

The story starts out with a quick and dirty (and a little gruesome!) waltz through Dev’s past, told in jaded, sharp-tongued first-person.  The second chapter unexpectedly changes to the first-person perspective of Montsho (communicated only by the chapter title) after awakening from a disturbing erotic Dreaming of Dev.  I like the idea that one of the men in this relationship has to be willing to go way outside his comfort zone in order to find the happiness they’ve been promised.  That said, however, I don’t feel there was enough of a struggle for Montsho before he caves to the inevitable and starts declaring his love.  I found it fairly unrealistic that a seemingly-straight man would allow another strange guy he’s basically just met to do things to him that he’s never even thought about before… but hey, it’s erotica, right?  Isn’t that sort of the point?  Yeah, agreed, but I think there could have been a much stronger build-up of sexual tension between them before the first penetration happens, and (true to the romantic stereotype) there seems to be absolutely no physical repercussions of these new (and heavily repeated!) activities.  “But they’re shifters – they heal fast!” Sure, they heal fast, but they still feel pain and they still have at least a small recovery time.  Meh, who reads this stuff for realism?!  Not I… *wink*

For those who are adamantly opposed to sex scenes with humans and animals, know that there is some borderline beastiality in this book.  It feels carefully written, so that they’re never human/cat (not for very long anyway) but always human/human or cat/cat.  I didn’t really get much out of the cat/cat parts, but they aren’t that plentiful or as explicit and are always paired with the human scenes.  The human/human scenes are definitely explicit but not overly long.  There is a good mix of passion and tenderness, and a decent dominance tradeoff between the two “alpha” males.

The dual first-person perspective is an interesting writing technique that I haven’t seen much of, and Ms. Phelan uses it effectively to express the dichotomy of personality between our two heroes.  Dev most definitely identifies more with his leopard than with his human side, and he makes no apologies for it… wild, careless, and without roots is how he prefers to live.  Montsho is a respected pard leader and enforcer, cognizant of his impact on those around him, and takes comfort in the structure and familiarity of his pard.   However, the dialogue occasionally teeters between childish and preachy, sometimes resulting in a stuffy feel to the conversations.  The sexual vocabulary is also awkward and cheesy at times, taking me out of the moment to try to process what I’ve read and understand what context the author intended it in.  There was a fair amount of snickering over terms like “ambrosia” and “nectar”.

Memorable quotes:

But it sucks so good! (I know I know, I just couldn’t resist this one…)

We were a perfect, blazing circle of suck.


If you like Dark Leopard Magic

If you enjoyed Dark Leopard Magic for its shapeshifting and paranormal storyline, you may also like the books in the Psy/Changeling series (starting with Slave to Sensation) by Nalini Singh.  Ms. Singh has created a rich world of shifters, mentally-gifted Psy, humans, and all the passion and politics that comes with the mix.

If you liked Dark Leopard Magic for its male/male erotically explicit romance, you might enjoy The Vampire Queen series by Joey W. Hill, particular books 5 and 6 which star Gideon and Daegan.  Now if you’ve read those books, I know what you’re probably thinking… “but those books are really more about a F/M/M BDSM threesome than a M/M romance!” and yes, that’s absolutely true.  I haven’t read much M/M erotica yet, so I’ll probably have more appropriate recommendations for you in the next few months.  =)

Final thoughts:

The opening of the book is a story of survival, a young man’s acceptance of his beast and his struggle to live alone in a human world he knows little about.  It’s initially difficult to identify with Dev because of his cavalier and violent attitude toward humans, even with regards to sex.  There’s a pretty disturbing scene before he meets Montsho that involves a little dismembering – best not to let your guy friends read that bit.  The story feels a little loose but I can see where Ms. Phelan was going with it, and the relationship and chemistry between the characters, while accelerated a little too early in my opinion, was strong enough to overpower the plot.  As it should be, with erotica.  =)

I would have liked to give this a rating of 4, but there are just too many spelling and grammar mistakes that took me completely out of my headspace, and the dialogue turned awkward a little too often.  Some people may think this review and analysis is overkill for a story classified as “erotica”, so to all the unenlightened I say this: read the Vampire Queen series by Joey Hill and then tell me you don’t think a high standard has been set for the genre of paranormal erotica!

If male/male erotica is your thing, grammar and spelling don’t phase you, and you’re just in it for the smexy, you will probably enjoy this book.  Dev and Mont definitely have chemistry and there’s a little mystery and action to be had as well.

Rating:
3.5 fangs: Bite worthy! 

*Original review done for The Forbidden Bookshelf.  Go here to see it.

Related links:

http://www.sapphirephelan.com/ (Sapphire Phelan’s website)

http://www.nalinisingh.com/ (The Psy/Changeling series website)

http://www.storywitch.com/ (The Vampire Queen series website)

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Night Huntress World: Vlad & Leila celebrate their first title!

Original image from Frostfans.com

She’s a mortal with dark powers…He’s the Prince of Night…

Jeaniene Frost, author of the popular Night Huntress & Night Huntress World series’ has released the title of her first book in the upcoming Vlad & Leila series, featuring everyone’s favorite pyrokinetic vampire and his new, apparently mortal, lady love.  Ready for this?

Once Burned

*mwuah!* Perfecto!  On the as-yet-mysterious Leila, Ms. Frost says…

Leila has some unusual abilities, too, but I can’t say more about those until I’m allowed to release the book description.

And of course, we all want to know the release date now that it’s really for real!  Sheesh…

ONCE BURNED is tentatively scheduled to release on March 29th, 2012, assuming I can finish it soon. Cross your fingers for me :) .

We definitely will.  *wink*  And you can bet on legions of Cat & Bones fans eagerly hitting bookstores on release day to devour the new Vlad novel (myself included)!  =)

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New John Pritkin short by Karen Chance: A Family Affair

A Family Affair, the new John Pritkin short story by Karen Chance, is now available on Ms. Chance’s website for your viewing pleasure!  Spells will be slung and potions will be flung, so read at your own risk!  *grin*

This short story adventure, featuring everyone’s favorite DSWM (Dirty Sexy War Mage), takes place between the events of Curse the Dawn and Hunt the Moon (books #4 and #5 in the series) and does contain spoilers for the first four books of the Cassie Palmer series, so I highly recommend not reading A Family Affair until after you’ve finished Curse the Dawn!

If you still can’t get enough Pritkin, head over to the John Pritkin Facebook fan group and chat him up with the other DSWM addicts!  It’s an open group, so just request to join!  =)

In other Karen Chance news…

We just received word, Fury’s Kiss, the third Dorina Basarab novel, will be published in July 2012!  We also hope to have another Cassie book out that year; more on that as info becomes available.

To read A Family Affair directly from Ms. Chance’s website, click here!  The story is also accessible via SmashWords and can be downloaded to your mobile device and viewed in your favorite app.

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Dual Review: Vampire Mistress and Vampire Trinity (The Vampire Queen series #5 and #6), by Joey W. Hill

TLDR recap:

Renegade vampire hunter Gideon Green is a wandering soul, lashing out at everyone who tries to help him in his search to find peace and a place to belong.  Anywn Naime, owner of the successful BDSM club Atlantis, is a natural dominant and has the ability to reach into the hearts of her clients to bring them face-to-face with dangerous and frightening truths.  Vampire Daegan Rei is a mystery, a chillingly effective killer with unswerving loyalty to Anwyn and an unsettling interest in the wayward vampire hunter.  Gideon’s struggle with what his rough life has made of him, and who he subconsciously wants to become, is vulnerably gut-wrenching and will touch even the most cynical readers.

    • Title: Vampire Mistress, Vampire Trinity
    • Series: The Vampire Queen series – books #5 & #6
    • Author: Joey W. Hill
    • Prominent Characters: Gideon Green, Anwyn Naime, Daegan Rei
    • Recommended reader age: 18+
    • Sexual content level: heavy and explicit (vulgar language typical of erotica)

Thoughts:

The first book in the Gideon duet, Vampire Mistress, centers around the renowned troubled vampire hunter Gideon Green and the consummate BDSM club mistress Anwyn Naime, and his path to becoming a marked servant.  The second book, Vampire Trinity, focuses on the relationship between Gideon and Daegan Rei and the ties that bind the three of them together.   As with books #1 and #2 in this series, I’m reviewing these as a set – they were written with the intention of being read as one story, so one feels incomplete without the other.

Gideon’s path to accepting and becoming part of his vampire trinity is sometimes uncomfortably arousing in its poignant brutality.  The vampire hunter’s reluctant regard for Daegan offends his staunchly hetero sensibilities and leads him on a harrowing journey of self-discovery and acceptance.  The psychological impact of his fight, acceptance, and submission is masterfully crafted.  Gideon’s journey is as physically traumatic as his brother Jacob’s, and even more so psychologically.

Ms. Hill definitely understands how to tame an alpha male without breaking him or taking away what makes him special.  If Jacob’s journey was heartbreaking and scintillating, Gideon’s is excruciatingly personal and explosively erotic.

I’m no expert in the psychology of domination and submission, but the dichotomy between Gideon’s heart’s desire and what his soul demands is intriguing and immersive.  The art of domination, of looking into someone’s soul, understanding what they need and knowing how to help them realize it, walks a very fine line between compassion and abuse, and for someone as emotionally scarred as Gideon, it is a razor edge.

On a geekier note, there are two separate references to World of Warcraft in Vampire Mistress.  Think Ms. Hill actually plays?  For the Horde!

Memorable quotes:

I’m quoting for two books, so get comfy!  =D

The psychology of dog (people?) whispering…

“In order to understand a creature’s pain, ,you have to step inside him, see through his eyes.  And be strong enough not to feel sorry for him, in order to teach him how to be a dog again.  Live in the moment, because this moment is all there is.”

Dangerously conflicted…

“Your problem is your mind came here looking for what you want, rather than what you need.  Your soul is the battleground between those two forces.”

Nothing a good titanium pair of handcuffs can’t solve…

Goddess save her from alpha males, and their irritating habit of switching from emotionally closed, dysfunctional pains in the ass to knights in shining armor in a heartbeat, sweeping a woman’s legs right out from under her.

It’s never too late to apologize… 

“Well, me and Don Juan, we don’t hang out as much as we used to.”

Trusting your own emotions?  Pffft, overrated.

Oh yeah, ego stroking.  His subconscious was working this angle hard.  Freaking little internal hustler.

Gotta draw the line somewhere!

He definitely had rules about bathing with naked male vampires he didn’t know.  Hell, with naked men he didn’t know.

Parental supervision not required…

“Maybe, Dad.  They’re having karaoke night at Floyd’s down the street.  I’ve been itching to give them my rendition of ‘Back in Black’.”

Real strength comes from within…

“Nothing outside of you destroys who you are, what you want to be.  If you’re strong enough, you can put it back together, no matter who or what shatters you.”

The quandary of leadership…

“A true leader does want to lead, because he or she believes the goal is important.  The more appropriate adage is that a person takes a leadership role, not because he or she wants to be important, but because the job itself is important.”

Ah, the sophisticate wine connoisseur…

Jesus, how many bottles of wine did anyone need?  He chose one at length, mainly because he liked the dog printed on it.

If you like Vampire Mistress and Vampire Trinity of The Vampire Queen series…

If you enjoyed Vampire MistressVampire Trinity, and the rest of the Vampire Queen series for its paranormal ties (vampire society with humans who serve as blood hosts), check out the Night Huntress series (Cat & Bones, starting with Halfway to the Grave) by Jeaniene Frost.  The NH books are not erotica but they feature strong ties between a central couple and they definitely have their share of steamy scenes.

If you enjoyed Vampire Mistress and Vampire Trinity for its acceptance of alternative sexuality but you don’t want to read full erotica, try the Black Dagger Brotherhood (starting with Dark Lover) by J.R. Ward.  The BDB books are tamer but still have emotional and sensual impact, and Ms. Ward is not afraid to consider the reality of men who love men.

Final thoughts:

Vampire Mistress and Vampire Trinity are raw and revealing, especially on the part of Gideon, but for the two vampires as well.  Ms. Hill leads us straight into their souls and lets us experience firsthand their anguish, uncertainty, passion, and triumph.  This entire series is an emotionally supercharged freight train that will blow your mind and leave you begging for more!

Rating: Vampire Mistress Rating: Vampire Trinity
4.5 fangs: BITE IT!  5 fangs: DEVOUR IT! 

Related links:

http://www.storywitch.com/ (The Vampire Queen series website)

http://jeanienefrost.com/ (The Night Huntress series website)

http://www.jrward.com/bdb/ (The Black Dagger Brotherhood website)

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One Grave at a Time: newest Night Huntress book trailer and excerpts!

For Cat & Bones fans, the wait for Book 6 is nearly over.  One Grave at a Time doesn’t hit bookshelves until the end of this month (August 30th), but impatient readers can get an early glimpse of the first three chapters on Ms. Frost’s website.  To spoil or not to spoil, that is the question!  Actually, it’s more like “excellent impulse control or rabid pleasure seeker?” because anyone who’s already a fan of this series is going to have a tough time not taking a peek!  If you’re of the “give it to me now!” camp, click here to read the teaser chapters.

Whether or not you choose to indulge in the chapter previews, you can safely check out the book trailer sans spoilers!  (Psst – click Play below!) 

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Release day: Night Walker (The Night series #1) by Lisa Kessler


Related links:

Lisa Kessler’s Night Walker, the first novel in the new Night Series from Entangled Publishing, is now available at your favorite bookseller!  If you missed my review of Night Walker, check it out here and then go pick up your own copy and get to know Calisto and Kate.  If you need to stop for a few, to ogle the cover eye candy, that’s perfectly acceptable.  *grin*

Here are some online purchase links…

Enjoy!

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