March 31st, 2009

andrew potter

Poison by Joely Skye

Poison is a very strange novel. I actually can't say if I fully understand it.

In a fantasy regency world, Rimania, people are divided in Elite and Workers. They are a closed cast society and only Elite can do politics and have access to high class; they are so strict on their rules that a worker is not even allowed in presence of an Elite if not as personal servant.

Tobias is the nephew of the actual regent. His father attempted to his brother's life and was executed for this reason. Now Tobias prefer to have a secluded life in his manor with a matchmaking mother. He is not interested in politics, but when his uncle is murdered and some days after also his cousin, only another cousin remains between Tobias and the regency. And he is not very happy of that.

Meanwhile Geln, an outworld spy of the Alliance who wants to take over the power in Rimania, infiltrates in the Elite's society through Tobias' mother, posing as her lover. Geln is a spy and also a "whore": he uses sex to reach his purposes; after being the "prostitute" of a revolutionary worker, Arjes, now he is the paramour of Dressia, Tobias' mother. But when Tobias is poisoned, surprisingly Geln saves his life. Tobias is an innocent 23 years old man, who is not aware of all the politic troubles around him: he only realizes that people he loved were killed and he wants to know why. But when he meets Geln, he realizes also something else: he is attracted by a man, even if they said to him that, in this new Elite society, homosexuality is extinct.

Tobias and Geln embark in a strange relationship, where Tobias discovers his sexuality and Geln tries to teach him how beautiful can be sex with a man and meanwhile tries to go on with his plan without using innocent Tobias as a pawn. But Geln is not tough enough as he thinks, and past experiences make him a little skittish when he faces a true and sincere love.

Both Tobias than Geln are unwilling heroes, and truth be told, they don't have the physique du role to be a full figured hero. Tobias is not enough on an idealist, he is more a child who finds himself to play with an "adult" game, and he doesn't know the rule. He could use the help of someone more experienced, but Geln is not that man. Geln is, as Tobias, a man who is thrown in something bigger than him and not even having all the necessary information. But two halfs maybe make an entire, and Tobias and Geln together manage to play in this game. Among betrayals and perils, the reader starts to understand to not trust no one and maybe the less human of all will be the more trustworthy of all.

Amazon Kindle: Poison

Amazon: Poison

Reading List: list&view=elisa.rolle

Cover Art by Anne Cain
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Sherry Thomas: Digging Down to the Emotional Core of Romance

"The books I write are the books I hope to read. I like to read books that are fresh and different, but not so different I don't recognize it for what it is. I love stories about a man and a woman falling in love (or falling in love again). I love complicated characters, sexual tension, and raw emotions. And I love such stories packaged in sparkling prose. That's what I strive for. Have I succeeded? You be the judge. :-)" Sherry Thomas

Sherry Thomas burst onto the romance scene with Private Arrangements, one of the most anticipated debut historical romances in recent history and a Publisher Weekly 2008 Best of the Year book. Lisa Kleypas calls her “the most powerfully original historical romance author working today.” Her books have received stellar reviews from Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, The Chicago Tribune, and Romantic Times, along with enthusiastic praises from many of the most highly trafficked romance review websites and blogs.

Her story is all the more interesting given that English is Sherry's second language--she has come a long way from the days when she made her laborious way through Rosemary Roger's Sweet Savage Love with an English-Chinese dictionary. She enjoys digging down to the emotional core of stories. And when she is not writing, she thinks about the zen and zaniness of her profession, plays computer games with her sons, and reads as many fabulous books as she can find.

To read more
andrew potter

Behind the Cover: David M. Bowers

David Bowers, born 1956 in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania and graduated from art school in Pittsburgh in 1979. He began working as a staff artist at various studios in Pittsburgh. Two years later, David began teaching at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh where he lectured for ten years. This job was perfect for Bowers at the time due to the short hours in the classroom. These short workdays enabled a lot of free time to perfect his painting technique before he entered the illustration field.
In 1991, David began his illustration career working mostly with book publishers in New York City in which he completed over one hundred covers in a span of over ten years. Also, David’s work graced the cover of numerous prominent magazines, including TIME. He also painted the portrait of J.P. Morgan for the cover of Cigar Aficionado, as well as a family portrait of the Rothschild family and the Chateau Latour Winery for the covers of Wine Spectator magazines. These paintings are now part of the company’s permanent collection.

The Ice Princess, Oil

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Bowers’ illustrations received numerous awards including three Joseph Morgan Henniger Awards, “Best of Show” from the Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles along with two Patrick Nagel awards. These awards recognized David with the best, published illustration of the year. Also, David received 9 other medals from that organization. David also has received numerous medals and Merit awards from the Society of Illustrators in New York, Spectrum’s Best of Fantastic Art and Communication Arts Magazine.
In the mid 90s Bowers began to focus more on his fine art, splitting his time between his illustration assignments and personal paintings and had his first solo exhibition at James Gallery in Pittsburgh in 1995. An expert in the field once remarked, “His illustration assignments seem to get in his way of his passion for doing his personal paintings.”
Since then, Bowers has had exhibitions across America and Europe, including the Mendenhall Gallery in Pasadena, CA; Gallerie 224 in Laguna Beach, The Downey Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico and the Halcyon Gallery in London, England.
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Best Contemporary Novel (2° place): A Note in the Margin by Isabelle Rowan

Every book that makes you cry even once is a book worthy to be read, and A Note in the Margin made me cry from more or less page 50 till the end of all the more than 250 pages of it. And not that mild moving which warms you and predisposes your body to cuddle under a blanket on the couch, but that strong lump in the throat and big fat tears that you can't help falling from your eyes.

Someone could think that John is a self-centered man; a man wealthy enough not only to go to a doctor that prescribes him to move near the sea, a sea change, to cure his migraines (and let me say, even if I suffer from migraines, this is an ill that most of the people endure without doing nothing), but to be able to take an year off from his executive job and buy a bookstore with upstair apartment included. John actually doesn't move on with his live for a new adventure, since he is wealthy enough to maintain his work (sabbatical year) and his upper-class condo, he only allows himself an year to see if that strange medical prescription will work.

With the bookstore and the apartment, arrives also Jamie, the son of the previous owner that decides to continue to work for John. Jamie is young and gay, and makes pretty clear that he is interested in John for a friends with benefits relationship. No strings attached, only fun. And John in a way, confirm the first impression that he could leave to a reader, since, even if he has an on and off relationship with a woman, he jumps to the opportunity of a bit of fun with Jamie. It's obvious that John is not interested nor in his girlfriend or in Jamie, but he is not a man without heart, he is only not used to listen to it. There is something in John's past that let the reader glimpses something different and nice in this man, a past that maybe pushed John too much towards the pursue of success and let him forget what is really important in life.

From this first pages, the reader could have had the idea that the main story was between John and Jamie, and instead, like the author said, pay attention since the real story maybe is written in the margins. And the margins are represented by David, an homeless who has taken residence in one of the leather chair in the second hand section of the bookstore; so there are more meanings to that "margins", David lives at the margin of society, David is always present to Jamie and John first approaches, but he is at the margins of them, and David is not exactly a full-figured romance hero, he is more a marginal character that finally takes the full stage. It was not in David's persona to "impose" himself on someone, he instead tries to be as much invisible as he can, but Jamie's mother, the previous owner of the bookstore, saw something in him and forced the man to enter the bookstore and spend his days there. As John, David has a past that influenced his present life and that pushes him to try to disappear. David is not a crazy man who lives in his mind, he is more than aware of who he is become and he is embarrassed by it; but there is something in his past that made him like that.

Both John and David realize that what they are starting to feel for the other man is not a simple interest for someone in need, John cares for David in a way he has never felt for anyone else (for how much relationship he had, John was never in love), and David, with his skittish behavior and his proud, the only thing he has left, cares for John, even if he knows that John deserves someone better, even if that someone is Jamie.

I like as the author presented all the characters, giving to all of them the chance to be the main hero of the story, even Jamie. But the reader knows, from John's behavior, that is final choice will be David. For Jamie, John feels friendship and he is amused by the joyous behavior of the man, but for David it will be real love. Truth, John's first reaction to David was embarrassment, but he soon was able to see beyond the outside look, even before the man cleaned up enough to let him glimpse the man that he was before. The initial embarrassment of John was right and real, I would want to see you if you find a vagrant in your new shop, even if that man is innocuous and shy. But John is able to move on to that initial feeling, and even when he should have more nice thoughts in mind, his worries for David never leave him.

A Note in the Margin is a romance, but it's above all a wonderful novel, and I'm even more glad to see for it a really nice cover that attracts people more than drive them away. And so friends, go and buy this novel and read it in the metro, on the plane, during your lunch break! I for sure love it (even if I'm still in tears...).

Amazon Kindle: A Note in the Margin

Amazon: A Note in the Margin

Reading List: list&view=elisa.rolle