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Book Review! Love Lies Bleeding

Full Moon ♍

Two posts on the same night? Aren’t you lucky!

Going with the flow of Awen and with the “Creativity comes with other people” theme from my other post, I felt compelled to write this one!

I haven’t done a book review before and I am thrilled that my first is for my fellow blogger and friend, Aspasía S. Bissas’ novel ‘Love Lies Bleeding’.

Firstly, ‘Love Lies Bleeding‘ is a romance. I don’t do romance books, but this was a first. Ok, technically Dracula could be classed as one- alright, a love story!

Secondly, this is a story in a world that has vampires in it.

I love vampires. I especially love the modern version of vampires being sexy, having cool powers and using blood drinking as a metaphor for sex.

Our main protagonists are Mara and Lee. Mara’s a young (looking) vampire who is older than she appears; loves her garden and dreads spending anytime with Nigel. Nigel’s a vampire of the Enlightenment, the vampire high society. He’s also a bit of an arrogant sod who loves the sound of his own voice.

Lee is human, he has a cheeky demeanour and punky sensibilities. He is all life and daring, which is a contrast to Mara’s ebbing Humanity and this flutters something in her undead heart as she begins to feel again.

Problem is, Nigel presents serious problems for them both….. and there’s also the problem of Dominic. Did I mention Mara has a stalker?

When I first started reading ‘Love Lies Bleeding‘ I was totally confused. There were British words and turns of phrase, yet there were Western dialects and prose. Mara was from Ireland and, of course, is going to use words such as “arse” and not “ass”.

Bissas has great skill in setting the scene, you can see grand houses standing tall, gothic and dark. You can imagine shadows dripping down the walls to hide whatever might be haunting them. And this all set against the urban noise of bright lights, thumping music and sweat of the mortal populace. You can imagine the grime of the alley way and feel the thrill of the victim thinking he’s getting lucky…. only to be the latest feeding opportunity.

Bissas also eases you in slowly, introducing the characters at a good pace so you aren’t bedazzled in some Tolkienesque saga. She also sets the stage and scene so you come to see what the Enlightenment is all about and what it will cost for Mara to join it.

In terms of the romance aspect, we aren’t talking Twilight, here. Mara and Lee fall in love and they pursue it, knowing full well, this can’t last. But how long can they ignore that fact? How long until they have to make sacrifices until the cost is too high? In this world, vampires aren’t supposed to fall in love with their prey!

I met Mara with curiosity, she comes across independent and a bit of a high-profile-almost-anarchist. But as we discover, she’s putting on a mask to hide the fact she feels dead inside. Mara is dedicated to her garden, allowing opportunity for the insertion of plant lore which was a wonderful touch and adds to the story.

It’s Lee who enables her to feel alive and give her a cause.

Lee, I didn’t like Lee at first. I found him annoying and cocky when he’s trying to be charming and funny oh, wait…. like all men when we’re trying to impress someone? Yeah. Lee, fortunately, grew on me. He also has layers which make him completely relatable. Which I found a great foil to Mara’s ennui. A ghost is trapped in the past, Mara is trapped in her immortality. One of my favourite conversations is in a later chapter when they bicker and snap at each other where I thought “Yep, definitely been there!” Rather than being a rebel for the sake of it, he has his own reasons for flipping authority the finger.

The novel is written in 3rd person, but primarily follows Mara and Lee’s perspective. Any other characters are part of the narrative, but we don’t read their thoughts or what they’re planning. This was a brave choice to write following only the two main characters. But I would like to have seen events from the perspective of others. Nigel is boring. We know this because Mara’s point of view says so. Dominic is dangerous and obsessed, again we see this from Mara’s eyes. For me, it would have fleshed both male antagonists out with a bit more from their side of the story and dislike them more. Although we do come to learn more about them in time.

At the end of the night, vampires are monsters. And ‘Love Lies Bleeding‘ is not afraid of this; whether it’s Mara’s hunger becoming uncontrollable- is it her age, or is it something else deep within her? Is Nigel really boring or is it that he’s so inhuman that he is above such a paltry thing such as emotion? Is Dominic really stalking Mara or does he see her as prey…. even if they are both vampires? And what of Mara and Lee? Can they pursue their love? What lengths will all go to get what they want?

These are the questions that can only be answered by reading the book!

Love Lies Bleeding is available from Bookshop in Canada and the USA. Being the UK, I had to get it from Amazon.

Get it, read it and enjoy it!

Locksley. 😉

My copy, with beaten corners and all…. sorry about the rug, Aspasía!

Here be Dragons…

Earth Dragon, art by Bill Worthington.

Ah, 2016, I’ve been expecting you.

With all the strong winds we had this winter, I got the feeling that the winds of change had already arrived; eagerly pushing 2015 out of the way as if 2016 couldn’t wait to get here. 

2015 has been a busy year for me.  I got moved store (again) and have even taken steps to help me back on the road of acting.

Comparing to last year’s reading, how did things play out?

Venom: I lost my cat, Loki.  She was my companion, my little girl and my pain in the arse all at once. I had her put down after she was attacked by a Fox as her chances of survival were extremely slim.  Not a day goes by without me thinking of her. 

I broke the heart of my friend and fellow Grove mate, River.  I thought I was ready for a new relationship and after three months, realised I wasn’t.  So I ended it and hurt her badly.  Looking back on it, I see now that was what’s called a ‘rebound’.  We have spoken since and says she has forgiven me.  I wouldn’t say we are the friends we used to be, but at least we are civil now. 
  The venom was my broken heart and the lesson of Adder reversed is to use the poison that harms into one that cures.  Loki’s death reminded me of the savage side of Nature, it was a serious wound that was brought through the cycle of survival.  I think it would have been worse if I found her after getting run over by a car.
  As terrible as breaking up with River was, things happened in motion to change her life for the better, from what she told me, she has discovered Buddhism which has taught her to let go of the past and embrace the future. 
  I learned a lot about myself from this experience and now know who I am, as well as who I don’t want to be.

Honey: The card of Bee represents community, celebration and organisation.  2015 was a very social year for me, I am blessed with many friends wether it is my Grove, my housemate, my workmates, both my social and spiritual circles.  I even left Pagan Pride in an official capacity, in a good place. 
  With the Am Dram group, I bonded really well with my fellow cast and crew in the One-Acts of that summer.  I spent NYE with Cludgie’s family and mutual friends. It was Cludgie who gave me the final push to go for the role I auditioned for and got.  The director had previously asked if I’d be interested in reading for it and I thought of every reason not to.  I’m glad Cludgie talked me round.
Three major creative things happened this year too: me, Strider and Dumbledore got together and formed our storytelling group “Tales From the Fireside”, a separate venture from our Grove that was described by one event organiser as “I knew you’d be good, I didn’t expect you to be awesome”.
  The other was joining the Actors Workshop here in Notts.  Making some good friends and progress in my performing skills.
  And filming the Promo of Gallows Bait in Sherwood Forest, dressed as a proper highwayman for two days!

2015 was for me a year of discovery, having courage enough to do what it is I want to actually do (and sowing the seeds for it to happen) and being surrounded by wonderful people, old and new.  I also did a lot of guest speaking this year, touching on new subjects for me as well as revisiting old ones.

Dragons: I was quite hungover on New Year’s Day when I drew the card for 2016 and as soon as I saw what my focus for this year was, I said in my best George Takei voice: ‘Ohhh Myyyyyyy’ Earth Dragon or ‘Draig-Talamh’ is the card of accessing your inner potential, as well as recognising the potential in others. 
Here’s hoping 2016 will be a very productive year!