<i>Hell for Leather</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Hell for Leather: Exclusive Excerpt Julie Ann Walker "Lord almighty, how he wanted to touch her there, needed to touch her there." H&H Reads <i>A Breath of Scandal</i> (5 of 6) H&H Reads A Breath of Scandal (5 of 6) Elizabeth Essex Ready to be reckless? Join us for a read-along of Elizabeth Essex's A Breath of Scandal <i>The House on Blackberry Hill</i>: Excerpt The House on Blackberry Hill: Excerpt Donna Alward "He felt a shiver of anticipation that had...everything to do with the client." <i>The Billionaire Biker</i>: Exclusive Excerpt The Billionaire Biker: Exclusive Excerpt Jackie Ashenden "Her best friend. Her first lover. And the boy who’d left her..."
From The Blog
April 18, 2014
Friday Beefcake: Blue-Eyed Devils
Team H & H
April 18, 2014
Ruthless Ladies in Fiction
Megan Frampton
April 17, 2014
Lessons from J.D. Robb’s In Death Series
Pen Singleton
April 17, 2014
The Appeal of Gritty Romance in Skye Warren's Wanderlust
Cara McKenna
April 16, 2014
Hot Small-Town Contemporaries
Jennifer Proffitt
Showing posts by: Synde Korman click to see Synde Korman's profile
Thu
Jun 6 2013 4:30pm

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah HarknessLike the vampire on the prowl for fresh prey, it seems that the paranormal element is on a search for new territory. The hunt is closing in on the Literary Fiction Genre. Is this shift a result of fiction running out of places to go? Or rather is it born out of the desire to get new readers from the Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance genres into Lit Fic? At any rate, the escapism of the supernatural is becoming more desirable to mostly traditional regular fiction readers (not genre readers). People are looking for a way to escape the day to day drudgery of “real life” into worlds of the unknown, the urban legend and others while demanding a more challenging read. Here are some books that are blurring the lines between literary fiction and paranormal romance:

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

Much of the story takes place in France and Oxford's Bodleian Library. A vampire and witch meet, and what ensues is a Da Vinci Code meets Practical Magic sort of story.  Discovery of Witches concerns a magical text and the battle of who will eventually possess it. Harkness draws elements of esoterica, wine making and even gemology into the story, something I found interesting, but at some points does make the story read a bit text bookish. Her main characters are stubborn, egocentric and not particularly likeable, but those elements are what makes this book stand out and place it in the lit fic arena.

[But wait, there's more!...]

Mon
Jan 7 2013 11:36am

Snow White and Prince Charming in Once Upon a Time 2.10**********SPOILERS**********

(Need to catch up? Don't miss H&H's recaps of episode 2.04episode 2.05episode 2.06episode 2.07episode 2.08, and episode 2.09.)

This episode had a ton of ground to cover, just to bridge the gap between Snow and Emma's return, and Hook and Cora's sailing to Storybrooke. It started off really slow and sadly boringly sentimental, but picked up some steam on the back end. I'm still not convinced the show isn't going to rely on the same old sappy tricks to keep us hooked (get it, HOOKED? Ahem).

Highlights:

Granny has a welcome home party for Emma and Snow. Regina shows up and Grumpy gets even grumpier. Snow and Emma argue about why Regina is even there, and Emma says she wants her there. No one will talk to Regina, so she leaves, all sad. Emma comes out after her and tries to be nice, but fails miserably. She blabs that Archie has told her how well Regina is doing with the cold turkey quitting of magic. Regina storms off.

[Are you feeling bad for her yet?...]

Wed
Dec 12 2012 10:30am

Oh, Richard Armitage, you play bad so good!After a year and a half of recapping Once Upon a Time for Heroes and Heartbreakers, I find that the real attraction for me isn't the love story of Snow White and Prince Charming. Instead, the reason I watch is the draw of the Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin character brought to life by actor Robert Carlyle.

He's referenced as the dark one, and yet there is a spark there! Deep in that black heart of his he knows what love feels like. It's obvious when he talks to Belle, Emma, and Henry. Combine that with his maniacal behavior, chittering laugh and outlandish costumes and you have hit GOLD!

 So now lets look at some other baddies from television, film, and books we unabashedly love.

Sir Guy Gisbourne (BBC's Robin Hood, played by Richard Armitage)
He's insecure, not too smart, and motivated to get ahead by doing practically anything Prince John tells him to do. He does some really despicable things, but the torture is read in his eyes, deep pools of regret and dishonor. What is he really looking for? Acceptance and love? Tell me, what women doesn't want to fix that? Let's not forget all his leather outfits too; who knew Sir Guy was a goth?

[You're not always cute, and never cuddly, but we love you, bad boys!...]

Mon
Dec 3 2012 11:19am

Season 2 cast of Once Upon a Time

**********SPOILERS**********

(Need to catch up? Don't miss H&H's recaps of episode 2.04episode 2.05episode 2.06episode 2.07, and episode 2.08.)

This episode was the “winter finale” and although it was enjoyable, there was very little story. It was really just a huge information dump—lots of back story about all the characters and where they have been hiding out. The costumes in this one were absolutely stunning, some of the best of the series. Here are the highlights:

In a flashback, it's revealed Hook has always been a double agent, and he first worked for Regina. She gifted him with the ability to pull one heart out with his hook. Her intention was for him to take Cora's heart. Regina sent him to Wonderland to do the dirty deed. Cora had been hiding there as the Queen of Hearts, only, silly Regina, her mom hid her own heart! Hook had no luck and to save his own skin became Cora's henchman.

[Gotta look out for #1...]

Mon
Nov 26 2012 11:41am

Hook in Once Upon a Time Season 2 episode 8*****SPOILERS*****

What we already know:

Sleeping Beauty (SB) has had a dream of the room of fire and Henry was in it. Emma and Snow were encouraged about going home when they heard this news.

This episode, “Into the Deep,” was one of the good ones! While a little sappy, the writing was creative and forward thinking. We had both intensity and plot development—not to mention lots of Mr. Gold.

(Need to catch up? Don't miss H&H's recaps of the Season 2 premiere (2.01)episode 2.02episode 2.03episode 2.04episode 2.05episode 2.06, and episode 2.07.)

The episode opens in Fairytale-land (FTL) with Hook finally escaping from the beanstalk, only to run smack into Cora. She is “very disappointed” in him for his lack of discretion. Since he no longer has the compass, she tells him she is leaving him in FTL therefore denying him his revenge. He tries to charm her but she just vanishes in a puff of smoke. She returns to the refugee camp where she takes the hearts of the dead and reanimates them with her breath. YES! Folks, zombies have left the building.

[Oh boy...]

Mon
Nov 12 2012 11:22am

Ruby and Snow White in Once Upon a Time Season 1 episode 7 Child of the Moon*****SPOILERS*****

So this episode was great in theory—but only gave us five minutes of information in an hour-long show.

What we know: Emma and Snow are still trapped in Fairytale-land (FTL); nothing has changed.

(Need to catch up? Don't miss H&H's recaps of the Season 2 premiere (2.01)episode 2.02episode 2.03episode 2.04episode 2.05, and episode 2.06)

Our episode opens with all the dwarves mining, and getting super frustrated because they haven't found any fairy dust. A happy hour-athon is mentioned and Grumpy gets...well, Grumpy. He hits the wall of the mine and falls through a hole, filled with unprocessed...what? Dust! Happiness and much drinking ensues. 

[Never would have seen THAT coming...]

Mon
Oct 29 2012 12:29pm

Emma, Mulan, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White in Once Upon a Time********SPOILERS********

I had high hopes for the Halloween episode of OUAT—did it live up to my expectations?

Yes! I think this was one of the more interesting episodes, although the gruesome factor was still a bit on the bland side. Still it was chock-full of Regina, Rumpelstiltskin, and Captain Hook, not to mention we finally get some background on the good Doctor Whale.

(Need to catch up? Don't miss Synde's recaps of the Season 2 premiere (2.01)episode 2.02episode 2.03, and last week's episode 2.04.)

The episode opens with Mulan, Sleeping Beauty, Emma, and Snow coming back into the refugee camp in Fairytale-land. They find the whole camp burned and everyone viciously slaughtered, each one having had his or her heart ripped out. They know only one person could have done that: Cora.

[Evil queens are evil...]

Mon
Oct 22 2012 3:07pm

Captain Hook in Once Upon a Time 2.04, The Crocodile********SPOILERS********

Special Guests: Captain Hook, Mister Smee

While much of this episode was boring and trite, the last 20 minutes were real fun. Not just cute, but “Peter Pan never grows up” fun. The costumes for this episode were outstanding, so were the sets. Visually, this show just gets better and better, even though the writing isn't up to the same standard.

(Need to catch up? Don't miss Synde's recaps of the Season 2 premiere (2.01)episode 2.02, and last week's episode 2.03.)

Gold gives Belle a beautiful necklace; she is ecstatic and tells him so. Grumpy comes in shouting about how Gold took his axe and he wants it back. Gold gets furious and violent, nearly choking Grumpy to death. Belle wakes up with a start, realizing she's had a bad dream and goes to find Gold. Looking through the basement window, she sees him conjuring a spell.

[You've got your work cut out for you, huh, Belle?...]

Mon
Oct 15 2012 1:46pm

Prince Charming and Henry in Once Upon a Time Season 2 episode 3Tonight’s guest stars include Lancelot, Mulan, Sleeping Beauty, and the Queen Mother.

Wow, chaotic much? Tonight’s episode jumped from Fairytale Land to Storybrooke and then to flashbacks. I thought it was just me being confused, but I had a first-timer friend watching it with me, and she was utterly confused.

(Need to catch up? Don't miss Synde's recaps of the Season 2 premiere (2.01) and last week's episode 2.02.)

What we know:

A group of curse-surviving refugees is holding Emma and Snow captive in the Enchanted Forest. They have met the Queen Mother (QM) in their cell. Snow is freaked out, Emma is intrigued, and QM is sweet as pie (unsweetened pie, of course).

[Sounds about right...]

Mon
Oct 8 2012 12:19pm

Regina as a young woman in Once Upon a Time***********SPOILERS**********

I must say, I really liked the episode this week! It wasn't very exciting, but it functioned much like a Greek Chorus does in all those tragedies you read in college. I am going to try a bit of a different format tonight, see if it works. You all will let me know, mmmkay?

(Need to catch up? Don't miss Synde's recap of the Season 2 premiere!)

What we find out right off the bat:

The Dwarves try to cross the city limits of Storybrooke, using Sneezy as a guinea pig. Blue lights swarm him and he loses his memory, indicating that the residents still are trapped within the city limits.

The city of Storybrooke is in total ruin from the renegade Wraith as well as the crazy purple fog.

[That fog, always causing trouble...]

Mon
Oct 1 2012 11:43am

Once Upon a Time’s Regina

***********SPOILERS**********

Once Upon a Time is back for a second season—but the season premiere felt oddly flat.

The episode was chaotic and full of small odd vignettes, fraught with unnecessary tugging of the heartstrings, so I am going to discuss the two main plots, and leave out all the little extra “what the hell”s that were so oddly prevalent. Tonight's special guest characters include Sleeping Beauty, Prince Phillip, Mulan, and a creepy wraith-like creature that looks like an escaped Ringwraith from Middle Earth.

In the beginning of the episode, we're in Fairytale Land, where we see a Prince and his Knight (who is dressed in traditional Japanese fighting gear) cutting through thorns to reveal a sleeping woman (Sleeping Beauty). The Prince wakes her with a kiss, and after a few “Hello, how do you do?”s, they discuss where to hide from Maleficent, who was the originator of Sleeping Beauty's curse. Phillip also introduces his companion knight Mulan, a woman.

[Mulan is here!...]

Thu
Sep 27 2012 3:05pm

Once Upon a Time Season 2 poster — Magic is ComingSeason two of Once Upon a Time premieres on Sept 30th, and we'll be covering it here at H&H.  The show debuted with a bang, and it seemed viewers really took to Storybrook, and its respective citizenry. A lot happened during the season, and secrets were revealed, so we thought it'd be good to remind us all of what happened—and what we'd like to see happen.

When we last left the denizens of Storybrook, they were in the midst of some really “Grimm” chaos. Here are some of the key points:

Henry ate the poison apple tart that Regina made for Emma. He was rushed to the emergency room in full cardiac arrest, and subsequently died. This episode featured a dragon, finally! The dragon was guarding an egg with the secret potion that could potentially bring Henry back and break the curse the town lives under. Emma must take the Prince’s sword and go slay the dragon.

[Show 'em how it's done, Emma...]

Sun
Aug 5 2012 12:00pm

Carrie Clevenger
Crooked Fang
Lyrical Press / August 20, 2012 / $5.99 digital

Sometimes a vampire’s past can bite him in the ass.

Xan Marcelles—bassist for Crooked Fang, vampire and full-time asshole, is content with his quiet existence in the backwoods of Pinecliffe, Colorado. But life at the Pale Rider tavern is set to become a little more complicated when he gets entangled with a feisty, blue-haired damsel and her abusive soon-to-be ex boyfriend.

To add to his woes, he’s gone from hunter to hunted, and his past returns to haunt him when a phone call draws him back to New Mexico. With the help of friends from his living past, he must get to the bottom of a murder, and figure out where he stands with his lover and his band, all while keeping one step ahead of his enemies. Hiding won’t be easy for him, especially with a mysterious woman dogging him every step of the way.

Xan Marcelles is not your typical vampire, but as bassist for the band Crooked Fang, he operates exactly like most bass players I have known: Slightly shy, but with a hearty appreciation for the ladies. And yet, trouble follows Xan wherever he goes.

[I <3 trouble...]

Fri
Jun 8 2012 5:00pm

Promises to Keep by Charles de LintOne of the trends in urban fantasy and paranormal romance about which I am most excited is the inclusion of musicians and music into the stories. It adds a bit of realism to the story, anchoring it to a real-life context, not to mention exposes the reader to new sounds and ideas. As a person coming from the music industry who now works in the book industry, it’s cool to see my worlds collide. Here are some of my favorites.

One of the first series I remember seeing musicians in was Charles de Lint’s Newford stories featuring Jilly Coppercorn. Jilly’s best friend was a fiddler named Geordie Riddell, who often aided Jilly in her schemes to save someone or to aid the fae. Geordie was married to Melanie, a harpist and healer. Melanie often used music and magic together to help make “something” happen. These books encouraged people to check out local folk music and, traditional Celtic music, along with some really magical stories. He is the “father” of urban fantasy.

Jeri Smith-Ready’s vampire DJs of her WVMP series conjure the same feeling: Each vamp DJ is stuck in an era of music and when they DJ, they tell a fantastic story of the music’s time. By making the setting a radio station, Smith-Ready adds a bit of real life to her monsters. We all know of and can relate to listening to the radio. Ready gets the music industry and portrays it clearly. I read some of her books while still working on the road, and felt right at home with Shane McAllister and company. This series is a must-read for music lovers.

[Click if you love music...]

Mon
Apr 30 2012 11:55am

Emma and August in Once Upon a Time episode 20*****SPOILERS*****

As the season nears the end, we see Once Upon a Time finally gather enough steam to really be enjoyable. This week’s episode had some really stellar moments. Some of it was a bit hard to follow and clichéd, but at least it’s beginning to answer some questions.

The episode centered around August the mysterious writer with the bad leg and serious interest in Emma, and tonight we find out why.

(Need to catch up? Check out previous Once Upon a Time recaps: Episode 14 | Episode 15 |Episode 16 | Episode 17 | Episode 18 | Episode 19)

We open the story with Henry telling Emma that there is a new story in the book, about Pinocchio, and it’s unfinished.

[How will the story end?...]

Mon
Apr 2 2012 1:35pm

Once Upon A Time’s original Evil Queen and stable boyIt figures that when Once Upon a Time finally airs a good episode it airs opposite the premiere of Game of Thrones, standing very little chance of being something watched by the masses. That being said, this was one of the GOOD ONES! It focused on young Evil Queen Regina, and how she came to be so evil. It also shed some light on Snow White, showing us once again that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

The show opens with a flashback of Mr. Gold and Regina striking up a deal to frame Mary Margaret for the murder of Kathryn. They do everything but shake on it.

(Need to catch up? Check out previous Once Upon a Time recaps: Episode 12 | Episode 13 | Episode 14 | Episode 15 |Episode 16 | Episode 17)

Then we flashback to Fairytale land to find a young Regina free as a bird riding her horse, taking jumps and laughing, while her father watches happily from the ground. Just as Regina dismounts her steed a well-dressed woman shows up (hey, it’s Barbara Hershey!). Regina addresses her as “Mother,” and Regina’s father looks unhappy. The woman who is indeed Regina’s mom is also the Queen, and the way she shows her displeasure with Regina is by magical torture. Regina fights her until the torture becomes too much, at which point  she acquiesces. Wow, abuse much?

[The rise of an evil queen...]

Tue
Mar 20 2012 4:00pm

Sea foam image courtesy of Sirsnapsalot via FlickrMany people read—especially romance novels and other genre fiction—to escape the stresses of daily life. No need to remind you of a bad economy or rising gas prices; all you have to do is turn on the news.

So if you were able to live in any Urban Fantasy or Paranormal Romance city out of any book, where would you go? Fellow blogger and pal Chelsea Mueller told us where we wouldn’t want to live, so let’s talk about the positive—the top 5 places where it’d be fun to hang your hat (and leash your wolf, rest your powers, etc.):

Morella Beach, California (Jenn Bennett’s Arcadia Bell Series)
Who doesn’t like the beach? Surf, sand and sun, not to mention a fantastic Tiki bar called the Tambuku run by cool mage Arcadia Bell. This bar boasts great drinks and fun loving earthbound demons. Need a little excitement? Morella Beach has that too, with its local branch of the Hellfire Club. Fight gladiator style against other paranormal creatures, while rich dudes bet who on will win.

Don’t like your current photos? Lon Butler, pirate mustachioed fashion photog extraordinaire, will book a session for you.

[You’ll never wanna leave...]

Mon
Mar 5 2012 10:58am

Emilie De Ravin as Belle in Once Upon a TimeIt’s Miners Day in Storybrook!  You know one of those crazy town celebrations that no one really knows they why or wherefore of? That’s this week’s Once Upon a Time. There is also an underlying theme of understanding love and its unreliability. Oh, and my favorite part, a fairy actually says “Don’t Dream It, Be It” I think Tim Curry might be crying somewhere.

So yes, this week’s theme is love and the power it has over people—how it createsthe desire to do great things, or really horrible things...Let’s just say it has the power.

Oh, and I almost forgot: We learn how dwarves are made, in a scene from Alien.

(Need to catch up? Check our our previous Once Upon a Time recaps:
Episode 1Episode 2 | Episode 3 | Episode 4 | Episode 5 | Episode 6 | Episode 7 | Episode 8 | Episode 9 | Episode 10 | Episode 11 | Episode 12 | Episode 13)

[A scene from Alien??? This I gotta see...]

Tue
Feb 21 2012 3:00pm

A Perfect Blood by Kim HarrisonA Perfect Blood (Rachel Morgan series #10)
Kim Harrison
HarperCollins, February 21, 2012, $26.99 hardcover/$12.99 digital

Ritually murdered corpses are appearing across Cincinnati, terrifying amalgams of human and other. Pulled in to help investigate by the I.S. and the FIB, former witch turned day-walking demon Rachel Morgan soon realizes a horrifying truth: a human hate group is trying to create its own demons to destroy all Inderlanders, and to do so, it needs her blood.

She’s faced vampires, witches, werewolves, demons, and more, but humanity itself might be her toughest challenge yet.

I love me some Hallows adventures featuring Jenks, Rachel, Ivy, Al, and oh yes, Trent! Ever since the terrible loss of Kisten Felps, the Hallows took on a bit of the sads for me. That is, until Trent Kalamack became a bit more “present” in the most recent books.  And whoo boy, is he present in this book!

[And who doesn’t love a good elf, even if he’s not bearing cookies?...]

Mon
Feb 13 2012 12:59pm

Belle and Rumpelstiltskin in Once Upon a TimeThis episode was a retelling of “Beauty and the Beast,” and I am going to trust that you all have at least seen the Disney version. The episode was kind of a chaotic jumble and it’s going to be hard to give you a play by play so apologies in advance.

(Need to catch up? Check our our previous Once Upon a Time recaps:
Episode 1Episode 2 | Episode 3 | Episode 4 | Episode 5 | Episode 6 | Episode 7 | Episode 8 | Episode 9 | Episode 10 | Episode 11)

Our story opens with in Fairytale land, where a king is poring over a map with his staff. They are clearly trying to stave off a war, and are hoping for help—help they are certain will not arrive. A woman tries to comfort the King, and it’s his daughter Belle. A hunky boorish guy speaks up, saying he’ll save everyone, oh hello Gaston, yep, still stupid. There’s a knock at the gate, the guards open it, no one is there—but that’s because he’s right behind you, and yes it’s our own David Bowie wannabe, Rumpelstiltskin! He strikes a deal with the King to save the country for the price of...uh huh, his daughter, Belle. Everyone cries outrage, but Belle goes willingly.

So R is our “beast du jour” of the evening. I’d go with him too, he’s hawt!

[Didn’t see that coming...]