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Thursday, August 28, 2014

'Religio Duplex:' How the Enlightenment Reinvented Egyptian Religion (Review)


Religio Duplex: How the Enlightenment Reinvented Egyptian Religion by Jan Assman, translated into English from German by Robert Savage, is described like this on Amazon.com:

"In this important new book, the distinguished Egyptologist Jan Assmann provides a masterful overview of a crucial theme in the religious history of the West - that of 'religio duplex,' or dual religion. He begins by returning to the theology of the Ancient Egyptians, who set out to present their culture as divided between the popular and the elite. By examining their beliefs, he argues, we can distinguish the two faces of ancient religions more generally: the outer face (that of the official religion) and the inner face (encompassing the mysterious nature of religious experience).

"Assmann explains that the Early Modern period witnessed the birth of the idea of dual religion with, on the one hand, the religion of reason and, on the other, that of revelation. This concept gained new significance in the Enlightenment when the dual structure of religion was transposed onto the individual. This meant that man now owed his allegiance not only to his native religion, but also to a universal 'religion of mankind.' In fact, argues Assmann, religion can now only hold a place in our globalized world in this way, as a religion that understands itself as one among many and has learned to see itself through the eyes of the other. This bold and wide-ranging book will be essential reading for historians, theologians, and anyone interested in the nature of religion and its role in the shaping of the modern world."

This is a dense, scholarly work by a German academic who's not only a noted Egyptologist but also well-versed in European history. Let's look at it chapter by chapter to see if we can make out Assmann's main arguments.

Introduction

The introduction begins with a quote by P.E. Jablonski: "Should we not say that Spinoza took his [doctrine] from the Egyptians?" Assmann's assumption is that the reader is already familiar with Spinozism (or Spinozaism). It's been many a year since my college philosophy course, so I am not. But, looking it up in Merriam-Webster online, we read, "the philosophy of Baruch Spinoza, who taught that reality is one substance with an infinite number of attributes of which only thought and extension are capable of being apprehended by the human mind."

That's not exactly an easy sentence to understand, but the Wikipedia entry on Spinozism helps place it into context a bit. Spinoza was sometimes accused in his own time (1632-1677) and afterwards of being an atheist for his suggestion that the entire world was a material one. However, the philosopher's suggestion was closer to "the universe is a subset of God," a position sometimes referred to as "panentheism."

Baruch Spinoza. Public domain image
Assmann's point in bringing up the 17th-century Dutch philosopher was the concept of "natural religion" (as represented by Spinoza) as opposed to "revealed" or "positive" religion, which is what we usually think of when we think of "religion." Natural religion demands reason; revealed religion demands faith.

We're then introduced to two scholars who came after Spinoza, Ralph Cudworth (1617-1688) and Theodor Ludwig Lau (1670-1740). Cudworth was an English philosopher, and Lau was a German lawyer and essayist.

Cudworth's The True Intellectual System of the Universe (written in English, then translated in Latin and published in that scholarly language in 1733) was intended to refute atheism. It looked at religions of the ancient world, including Egypt's, and attempted to show that each of these religions showed evidence of belief in "all-oneness," a kind of pantheism (all is God) or panentheism (all is in God). Cudworth proposed that the ancient Egyptian religion had a polytheistic "outer" religion and a pantheistic "inner" religion. This is the main idea of religio duplex, or double religion.

Lau, in his Meditationes, Theses, Dubia philosophica-theologica, actually coined the term religio duplex. His work articulates the difference between "natural" and "revealed" religion, which again boils down to religion that can be reached through reason vs. religion that can be taught by the clergy and which requires faith. At about the same time Lau's work was published, Jacob Friedrich Reimmann described the ancient Egyptian religion as being divided into the "exoteric" and "esoteric" ("open" and "hidden").

Chapter 1. Egyptian Foundations: The Dual Meaning of Signs

The first chapter looks at how the Enlightenment-era philosophers arrived at their understanding of ancient Egyptian religion. The intent of this chapter is to trace the history of a thought. Assmann concludes that the 17th and 18th century philosophers understood the Egyptian religion through the extant writings of the ancient Greeks, most notably Hecataeus of Abdera. Hecataeus was a Greek scholar invited to Egypt by the monarch Ptolemy I Soter (circa 367-283 BCE). His job was to explain the traditional Egyptian religion to the Macedonian ruler; Ptolemy I was a general under Alexander the Great before he was made king of Egypt.

Ptolemy I Soter. Public domain image
Greek writers from this period in Egyptian history did not understand the Egyptian language and could not read hieroglyphs. To these Greeks, the Egyptian priests seemed to be practicing a public religion, one that involved parades and tributes to the various animal-headed gods, but also cultivating an esoteric religion known only to the priestly elite. This was a cultural error, Assmann contends.

Chapter 2. From the Dual Meaning of Signs to Dual Religion

The second chapter goes on to show how the religio duplex idea was picked up by Moses Maimonides (1135-1204). Maimonides was writing about Judaism. He thought the pagan religions were simple, but that Judaism alone had a complexity in that it was divided between "an exoteric political theology and an esoteric philosophical theology." Maimonides wrote in Arabic and Hebrew, and while he wasn't unknown to Christian thinkers in Western Europe, his works were not widely available to Western European scholars until Johann Buxtorf the Younger (Swiss, 1599-1664) translated Maimonides' Guide for the Perplexed into Latin in 1629.

Bronze statue of Maimonides in Cordoba. Creative Commons image by David Baron
The ideas of Maimonides then influenced John Spencer (1630-1693), who - like Buxtorf - was a Hebrew scholar writing for the benefit of a Christian audience. Spencer advanced the idea of Judaism as a religion with two goals. His thesis was that Judaism was a religion that encoded its signs and symbols so that they were able to be read in two different ways.

Spencer and Cudworth were both working from Cambridge University and were peers. Both studied the ancient Egyptian religion. Yet Cudworth, Assmann asserts, was less interested in the semiotics (sign system) of ancient Egypt and more interested in the content of the ancient religion. Specifically, Cudworth's concern was the theology of Egypt's exoteric religion versus the theology of its hidden, elite religion.

An interesting sidenote in this chapter is the mention on page 49 of a historian named Isaac Casaubon who lived from 1559-1614. I simple wondered whether George Eliot named her character John Casaubon in Middlemarch after the 16th-century scholar. The fictional Mr. Casaubon is attempting to write a scholarly-religious piece about the unity of all world religions, and that seems like something Ralph Cudworth would be working on.

Chapter 3. Religio Duplex and Political Theology

Assmann begins by informing the reader that the term "political theology" was used in two senses during the Enlightenment era. The first sense is the identification of a particular religion with the state, a situation which creates the problems I read about Christianophobia. But Assmann's chapter is going to deal with the second sense, which refers to political powers using religion to further state goals, the main goal often being achieving civic peace and order.

According to the author, political theology in the second sense was criticized by both atheists and Deists. This chapter assumed familiarity with the concept of Deism. According to the World Union of Deists website, Deism can be defined thus:

"Deism is the recognition of a universal creative force greater than that demonstrated by [hu]mankind, supported by personal observation of laws and designs in nature and the universe, perpetuated and validated by the innate ability of human reason coupled with the rejection of claims made by individuals and organized religions of having received special divine revelation."

Essentially, Deism is the belief in natural religion and the rejection of revealed religion.

For the Enlightenment-era atheists, revealed religions were frauds perpetrated against the common people. For the English Deist John Toland (1670-1722), the pagan religions are merely superstitions, but Moses was excluded from the group of religious fraudsters. In Toland's writings, Moses is a philosopher who recognizes the God of nature.

John Toland. Public domain image
Following Toland's line of thought, William Warburton (1698-1779) wrote The Divine Legation of Moses. It purports to show that while paganism is a fiction invented for political purposes, there has never been a culture that successfully operated without a religion. He argues that political theology is necessary and that the Judeo-Christian philosophy is a logical and essential basis for civil order.

Sidenote: Toland writes, "...Isis has this inscription at Sais: I Am All That Was, Is, And Shall Be, Nor Has Any Mortal Discover'd What's Under My Hood. Isis therefore, whom the vulgar believ'd to have been a Queen...was the Nature of All Things, according to the Philosophers, who held the Universe to be the principal God, or the supreme being, and consequently abstruse or obscure, none seeing beyond the surface of Nature. But this they only discover'd to the initiated. To that of Sais corresponds another Inscription still remaining at Capua; To Thee, Who Alone Art All Things, O Goddess Isis."

Public domain image
He's referring to a passage written by the ancient Greek philosopher Plutarch (circa 46-120 CE). On this website it's quoted as: "In Sais the statue of Athena whom they believe to be Isis, bore the mysterious inscription: "I am all that has been, and is, and shall be, and my robe no mortal has yet uncovered." Apparently Plutarch was well-known in the 18th century, because the German poet/philosopher Friedrich von Schiller (1759-1805) wrote a poem called "The Veiled Image at Sais" in reference to the above passage.

Plutarch evidently identified the Greek goddess Athena with the Egyptian goddess Isis. You will have heard the name ISIS in the news quite a bit recently, in reference to the terrorist group the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. An older name for Syria is The Levant, so sometimes it will be called ISIL, which is the acronym President Obama has been using. I think the President is trying not to offend Neopagans by using the name of a Great Goddess to describe an organization which is slaughtering people in northern Iraq. I think the President actually understands that we live in a multicultural world.

But I digress. I only thought it might be interesting to compare the idea of Athena and/or Isis as Supreme Being to the Gnostic conception of Sophia.

Chapter 4. Religio Duplex and Freemasonry

In this chapter, Assmann shows that an essay by Anton Kreil introduced Enlightenment-era German Freemasons to the idea of religio duplex. The Freemasons also read a novel by Jean Terrasson (1670-1750) called Sethos, which depicts its hero undergoing an initiation into the "Egyptian mysteries" upon entering a pyramid. In the temple of Isis, Sethos is offered a choice between the Draught of Oblivion which will make him forget and the Draft of Remembrance which will allow him to remember what he's learned. (Is that where the Wachowskis got the inspiration for the red and blue pills of The Matrix?) It's fictitious and only loosely based on the author's interests in history and antiquities, but some people took the depictions of the Egyptian mysteries quite seriously.

On page 107, Assmann sort of sums up the relationship between the Freemasons and the concept of an ancient Egyptian religio duplex in a paragraph that reads:

"This image of a split-level society, a society divided between superstructure and substructure, publicity and secrecy, accords with what the polyhistor Reimmann termed philosophia duplex, and it encapsulates how people pictured ancient Egyptian culture at the time. It also corresponds to the image the freemasons made of themselves as an elite that had taken cover in an underworld of secret ritual."

Mozart. Public domain in the United States
The rest of the chapter shows how Mozart's The Magic Flute can be understood on two levels. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) was an active freemason, as was his father. This, I suppose, is simply one example of how the train of thought that began with Hecataeus of Abdera trickled out of the freemason lodges and into the larger Western European culture.

Chapter 5. In the Era of Globalization: Religio Duplex as Dual Membership

As we shifted into the modern era, the concept of religio duplex began to be understood as one's particular religion (i.e. Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, etc.) as one level and a universal human religion - an anthropological constant - as the second. Assmann claims this shift was articulated by Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786) in his 1783 book Jerusalem. The freemasons and the other secret societies of the Enlightenment era - the Rosicrucians and the Bavarian Illuminati among them - accepted members regardless of their particular religions, and considered themselves the guardians of those few, specially evolved souls who were enlightened enough to recognize the universal human religion.

Following Chapter 5, there are two additional sections on how this train of thought can be followed into the present era, perhaps laying the groundwork for religions to co-exist in an increasingly globalized world.

This isn't a book that's likely to appeal to the casual reader interested either in the Enlightenment in Western Europe or in Egyptology. It's a specialized interest, to be sure. Philosophy majors might enjoy it, and so might people with a heavy interest in studying the history of freemasonry.

P.S.

I would have warmer feelings about Robert Savage if he'd chosen to translate "mankind" as "humankind." Come on guys, it's 2014. Enough of this exclusive language nonsense.

New Release: Smut by the Sea Volume 3, edited by Lucy Felthouse (@cw1985) and Victoria Blisse (@victoriablisse)

Blurb:

Light hearted, sexy fun by the sea is the theme of this erotic anthology, edited by Victoria Blisse and Lucy Felthouse.

From exotic locales such as Croatia and Australia to the coastal caves of England, Smut by the Sea Volume 3 has it all. Whatever your interpretation of naughty seaside fun, there’s something nestling between the covers for you. Kinky role play, gorgeous artists, bobbing boats, sexy cougars, hunky hermits, and more abound in this exciting collection of stories from erotica’s finest authors.

Buy links: http://lucyfelthouse.co.uk/published-works/smut-by-the-sea-volume-3/ 

Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22703850-smut-by-the-sea-volume-3


*****

Excerpt from Hermit by Lucy Felthouse:

Karen grimaced as she drove the car onto the Dungeness estate. She knew for a fact she was on said estate because she’d just passed a sign proudly proclaiming her whereabouts. Personally, she couldn’t see what all the fuss was about. It looked pretty damn grim, in her opinion.

She sighed. As soon as she’d been handed the assignment, she’d known it would be a bitch. The blog she wrote for, Universe of Quirk, published just that—anything quirky. This meant there was a huge amount of scope for articles for the site. Mostly it was about weird phenomena, picking out oddities in popular culture and freaky findings the world over. For the most part, Karen loved her job—she had a genuine interest in the bizarre and unusual, and a good nose for sniffing things out to write about. She didn’t often have to leave the comfort of her office chair to write her articles—the Internet gave her all the information she needed, at the touch of a button. And what she couldn’t gather via Google, she could find out by interviewing people. By email, phone or Skype.

But not Tom Pettyfer, it seemed. According to her notes, he was an ex-army dude who’d had some kind of meltdown, quit his job and moved to a shack in Dungeness. He was now a total hermit—hence the in-person interview. He had no telephone, let alone a computer or Internet access. Her boss had had to arrange the appointment by snail mail, for heaven’s sake! As such, there’d been no way of double checking he was still available. Karen hoped like hell he hadn’t suddenly decided to go out—leaving her with a long journey home with no article in the bag.

Continuing along the poorly-surfaced road, Karen slowed the car to a crawl—both to avoid damaging the rental vehicle and also to squint at the shacks she passed to find the one she was looking for. They all seemed to have names rather than numbers, which made the signs easier to read, but it was more difficult to find the right one, as there was no rhyme or reason to the layout. For all she knew, Tom Pettyfer’s shack could be the very last one on the lane.

Soon, she discovered that was not the case. Tom’s home was a strange-looking wooden building that wasn’t near to anything else. It sat alone in the shingle, a sparse garden-type thing surrounding it, and an ancient rusty car on the driveway. She supposed there was no point buying and running an expensive car if one didn’t go anywhere. Perhaps he just used it for errands and grocery shopping. He couldn’t shop online—so how else would he buy food and other necessities? How did he pay for those things if he never went out, didn’t have a job?

She reminded herself that this was the whole point of the trip. To meet this hermit and ask him questions, to find out why he lived the way he did, what made him tick. What had happened to make him choose this lifestyle?

Her car wouldn’t fit on the driveway behind his so she parked at the side of the road in front of his house, figuring traffic wouldn’t exactly be a problem anyway. Looking around, she was struck by the eeriness of the place, the loneliness. Add that to the ugly nuclear power station perched at the edge of the estate and you had a recipe for… well, hell on earth, really. And they called Kent the garden of England.

Pulling herself back to the task at hand, Karen grabbed her stuff then stepped out of the car, locking it and walking up to Tom’s shack. The sooner she got the interview over with, the sooner she could leave this desolate dump. Grey clouds overhead threatened rain, and she could hear the sea crashing mercilessly against the shore, the saltiness in the air filling her nostrils and coating her tongue. None of those things endeared her to the place.

Reaching the front door of Tom’s shack, she sucked in a deep breath and let it out, then straightened her stance. She was so used to working from home, lounging in her office chair as she researched and typed away, that she’d almost forgotten what it was like to meet someone on a professional basis. It was imperative to get this guy to trust her, so he’d open up and give her some good stuff for her piece. The project was a pain in the arse, but she couldn’t grumble too much—the site’s editor had made it worth her while financially.

Satisfied her body language was business-like yet friendly; Karen knocked on the door, and waited.

A couple of seconds later, the door opened. “Hi,” said a guy about her age, “you must be Karen, from Universe of Quirk.”

“Uh, yeah… that’s me.” So much for being professional. She hadn’t been expecting a god to answer the door. It had totally thrown her. “I mean, sorry, yes. I’m Karen Wilson. Lovely to meet you.” Holding out her hand, she tried not to swoon as the hottie reached out and gripped it, his own hand warm and dry, the shake firm but not crushing. Her belly did flip flops.

*****

Editor Bios:

Lucy Felthouse is a very busy woman! She writes erotica and erotic romance in a variety of subgenres and pairings, and has over 100 publications to her name, with many more in the pipeline. These include several editions of Best Bondage Erotica, Best Women's Erotica 2013, and Best Erotic Romance 2014. Another string to her bow is editing, and she has edited and co-edited a number of anthologies, and also edits for a small publishing house. She owns Erotica For All, is book editor for Cliterati, and is one eighth of The Brit Babes. Find out more at http://www.lucyfelthouse.co.uk. Join her on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to her newsletter at: http://eepurl.com/gMQb9

Victoria Blisse is a Mother, Wife, Christian, Manchester United Fan and Award Winning Erotica Authoress. She is also the editor of several Bigger Briefs collections, and the co-editor of the fabulous Smut Alfresco and Smut in the City and Smut by the Sea anthologies.

Victoria is also one of the brains behind the fabulous Smut Events, get togethers for authors and writers alike. Check out http://smutters.co.uk for the details of the next smut gathering.

She is equally at home behind a laptop or a cooker (She is TEB’s resident “Naked Chef”) and she loves to create stories, poems, cakes and biscuits that make people happy. She was born near Manchester, England and her northern English quirkiness shows through in all of her stories.

Passion, love and laughter fill her works, just as they fill her busy life.

You can find often find Victoria procrastinating on:

Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

...and if you want to know more check out her website: http://victoriablisse.co.uk

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Review: 'Four: A Divergent Collection' by Veronica Roth

Four: A Divergent CollectionFour: A Divergent Collection by Veronica Roth

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I told myself I would take a hiatus from YA books after reading This Star Won't Go Out, but obviously my hiatus has already ended. So what if I'm occasionally reading the same book as my 10-year-old niece? Books like this one make me happy.

And sad.

Based on my personal enjoyment of this book, I'd give it five stars, but I think four stars are appropriate since it isn't going to mean nearly as much to someone who hasn't read the Divergent trilogy. I'd read the first story, "The Transfer," when it was available as an e-book for Nook. The first time I read it, it struck me as poignant and insightful. It was nice to read it again and be reminded of the small details that make up Four' character.

One thing that bothered me slightly: Roth describes both Amar and Zeke as "dark-skinned." Amar is Middle Eastern/North African and Zeke is La Raza. Surely they don't have the exact same skin tone. Is Roth trying to say that Tobias, her narrator, divides the whole world into "dark-skinned" and "light-skinned" people? That's not very Abnegation. Perhaps Roth just didn't realize she could use more rich and varied words to tell us what Zeke and Amar look like. Rookie mistake, maybe.

The other two stories that take place before Four meets Tris, "The Initiate" and "The Son," also struck me as being poignant, especially where they address Four's complicated relationship with his mother.

Then, in "The Traitor," Tris appears. Why did I imagine it wouldn't be painful to revisit Tris and Four's relationship? I kind of felt like my heart was caught in a vise as I read some of Four's first impressions - his first stirrings of love - towards his soul-mate. At the same time, spending some more time with FourTris is a wonderful gift from Ms. Roth. The third of the three "exclusive scenes" at the end is especially romantic, if you're into that kind of thing.

Which I totally am.


The copy I read was on loan from my local library, although I wish it could live in my house. When the Collector's Edition of Divergent comes out (October 21, 2014), I'm buying that for myself. I might even pre-order it. Heaven help me, I loved the Divergent series, and it's a world I'm not yet willing to leave.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Live Event! ‘An Intimate Talk with Ernest Greene and Nina Hartley’ Tuesday 8/26 #SexTalkTuesday


[Press Release] CYBERSPACE – Online discussion portal MindBrowse.com is set to host its second live show, “An Intimate Talk with Ernest Greene and Nina Hartley” on Tuesday, August 26, starting at 3 p.m. A live videoconferencing event produced by Sssh.com, the legendary husband and wife duo will talk about Greene’s new novel Master of O, the recent appearance of BDSM on the pop culture radar, and their careers in adult entertainment, each of which spans over 30 years.

“Nina and Ernest have been a huge part of the porn industry over the last several decades, and they have an enormous wealth of experience and knowledge,” said Angie Rowntree, owner of Sssh.com and coordinator of MindBrowse.com events. “I look forward to hearing them talk about everything from BDSM culture to recent developments in the adult entertainment industry.”

Hartley, who performed in her first adult film in 1984, is also well known for her work as a sex educator and author. In addition to performing in nearly 1000 adult movies, Hartley has released a line instructional videos, and in 2006 published the book Nina Hartley’s Guide to Total Sex.


Greene has been involved in the production of adult films for three decades as a writer, director, producer, and performer, and has over 500 movies to his credit. Greene produced and directed the Nina Hartley’s Guide instructional series, with has sold 250,000 units and now includes over 40 individual titles.

An Intimate Talk with Ernest Greene and Nina Hartley starts at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, August 26, and is available to viewers free of charge on www.MindBrowse.com. The discussion also will be live-tweeted and monitored at @ssshforwomen under the hashtag #sextalktuesday. Viewers may interact during the event and pose their own questions and points under the #sextalktuesday tag for Hartley and Greene to address.

Previous #SexTalkTuesday Guests:

Nina Hartley
Midori
Desiree Burch
Joan Price

Monday, August 25, 2014

Commentary: 'Fated' (The Vampire Destiny Series #1) by Alexandra Anthony


Yesterday I finished reading a short Nook book, Fated by Alexandra Anthony. Fated is the first book in Anthony's Vampire Destiny series of paranormal erotic romance novels. This was the review I posted on Goodreads after I finished the book:

Fated (The Vampire Destiny Series Book #1)Fated by Alexandra Anthony
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This erotic paranormal romance is a quick, easy, fun read with lots of hot sex. I thought the mind-reading heroine, Josephine, reminded me of Charlaine Harris's Southern Vampire Mysteries series heroine Sookie Stackhouse. The main difference is that while Sookie is blonde, Josie has reddish blonde hair.

Josie is a Southerner, but the setting of this story is Bali, where Josie is on a sort of working vacation. The hero, Stefan, is tall, blond, and Nordic. He has icy blue eyes and speaks Swedish, which automatically made me think of Alexander Skarsgaard as Eric Northman on True Blood...which is, of course, the TV adaptation of Harris's novel series. Did this read a little like True Blood fan fiction? Yes, and I didn't mind. There isn't much of a plot until the very end of the novel - the action mostly happens in bed - but I didn't mind that either, because the characters were likable and the sex scenes were well-written. It was a nice escape into a vampire fantasy world.

View all my reviews on Goodreads (review ends here)

I bought this ebook from the Barnes and Noble website. I'd discovered it on the http://bookclubreading.com/ website. The website not only lists books for sale and accepts reviews but also allows book clubs to contact the authors for book club meetings. FYI, I'm an affiliate and earn a small commission when a group books an author through my site.

Because I bought the book at Barnes and Noble, I also wanted to post a copy of my review to the B+N website. It was then that I discovered the ebook was no longer available on that site. I thought this was a little strange, but not too strange. When I read Play Him Again, I went to review it on Smashwords only to discover it's no longer for sale there.

So then I thought maybe I'd post my review on Amazon.com. (FYI, I am an Amazon affiliate, but there isn't an affiliate link in this post.) Here's where I discovered the controversy with this book. I didn't read any of the other reviews on Goodreads.

Fated has 275 reviews on Amazon, with an average of 3.5 stars. It has 120 5-star reviews and 45 1-star reviews. The 1-star reviews, for the most part, all convey the same information: namely, that Anthony plagiarized parts of Fated from a True Blood fan fiction author who went by the name of ficlet78. But how am I to determine whether these accusations are true or false?

By Googling "Alexandra Anthony plagiarism," I came upon ficlet78's WordPress blog. In a post dated July 28, 2014, ficlet78 (who signs the post as "Heather") says she Googled a few sentences of her fan fiction work titled "Pretty Kitty" and found her words being used in an excerpt on Anthony's WordPress blog (which is private, i.e. not accessible without an invitation). She then discovered Anthony's work for sale on B+N and Amazon. Heather says she's contacted Anthony and asked her to take the work down. It appears this is the reason I could no longer find the book for sale at B+N.

If you read through the comments, you'll see that in a comment posted July 31, 2014, Heather says Anthony admitted copying Heather's work. Heather writes, "As angry as I was/am, I have to take the moment and give her some credit. She could have ignored my messages. She could have taken the psycho-bitch route and denied the whole thing, then done everything in her power to discredit me. But she didn’t. She admitted it. Publicly. And while she did take one scene from my work (which is all I and several others have found so far), she did the hardest thing and was a fucking adult about it. So I thank her for that, at the very least."

The blog Book Goggles posted about the incident on July 30, 2014. Read here

However, since I'm unable to read Alexandra Anthony's response firsthand, I'm aware that this is only one side of the story. I'd hate for a hardworking author to be unjustly accused of plagiarism. At the same time, because we authors do work so hard, often for little or no compensation, it's especially egregious when someone does cross the line and pass someone else's work off at their own.

When I was a student in a Catholic high school, I was told I would automatically fail my English classes if I were caught plagiarizing in a paper, even if it was unintentional (i.e. failure to cite a source). I guess that lesson always stuck with me. It never crosses my mind to use any words other than my own, except when I let the reader know that something is a quote.

In summary, I enjoyed Fated, but I have reason to suspect it's not entirely the original work of Alexandra Anthony. I leave it for the reader to decide for herself.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

New Paranormal Erotic Romance Novel by Lucy Felthouse – PACK OF LIES! (@cw1985) #erotica #romance #werewolves


Blurb:

Werewolf brothers Matthew and Isaac have lived in the peaceful village of Eyam all their lives. The villagers know what happens every full moon, and are happy to keep their secret. But their privacy comes at a cost—neither brother has taken a lover in almost four hundred years.

Then at the full moon, a sheep is slaughtered on Eyam Moor, by what could only be an animal. A large, vicious animal. Even the brothers’ staunchest supporters begin to have their doubts. Meanwhile Isaac is smitten by a handsome newcomer to the village, while a vivacious visitor is happy to offer Matthew her all.
As they indulge their lust, they must clear their names and convince their neighbours that they aren’t also letting their baser instincts out to play.

Inside Scoop:  This book contains sizzling scenes of both M/M and M/F sex.

Buy links: http://lucyfelthouse.co.uk/published-works/pack-of-lies/

Add to your Goodreads shelves: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22756241-pack-of-lies

*****

Excerpt:

As Matthew and Isaac Adams opened the front door to their house, the telephone started ringing. Matthew sighed. “Typical. No rest for the wicked. I’ll answer it, you go and get ready for work.”

Isaac nodded and headed off to do as his brother advised. Matthew, the older of the two, walked toward the ringing phone and snatched it off the hook. Then, remembering that the person on the other end of the line would have no idea what a rough night he’d just had, he made the effort to inject some politeness into his tone.

“Hello? Adams residence.” Isaac had told him time and time again that the last part about the residence was old-fashioned, that people didn’t say that anymore, but Matthew couldn’t seem to shake it.

“Hello, Matthew? It’s Richard.” The village vicar’s voice, even though he’d only spoken four words, sounded strained, almost panicked. “You boys just get back?”

“Yeah, a moment ago. Why, what’s up?”

“I, uh… I got a call. A dead sheep has been found up on the moor. Not just dead. Mutilated. Like a wild animal attack.”

An unpleasant feeling wormed its way under Matthew’s skin and his stomach flipped. “Oh?” He paused, then figured he had nothing to gain by not saying the next words he wanted to. “You don’t think it was us?”
The vicar’s gasp was instant, one of genuine surprise. “Lord, no! Absolutely not. I just phoned to let you know and I was wondering if you’d come up there with me and take a look. You and Isaac are probably more qualified than anyone else in the village to tell what did this.”

“Isaac has to work, he just went to get ready. But yes, I’ll come up. I’ll let my brother know where I’m going, then I’ll be straight over. Are you at the rectory?”

“Yes. Okay, I’ll see you soon. Thanks, Matthew. Bye.”

“Goodbye.”

Matthew hung up the phone with another sigh. The horrible feeling that had crept under his skin and taken over his gut seemed as if it was there to stay, and it was never a good sign. The vicar’s news was surprising, yes, but he also had an inkling that it was going to spell trouble, or at the very least inconvenience, for him and his brother.

Pulling in a deep breath in an attempt to calm his jangling nerves, Matthew walked upstairs and toward his brother’s bedroom. The door was closed. He knocked. “You decent?”

“Yeah,” Isaac replied, “close enough.”

Stepping into the room, Matthew looked at his brother. He was half-dressed, ready for his shift at the doctor’s surgery, where he was a general practitioner. “Sorry to interrupt, mate, but that was Richard on the phone. They’ve found a mutilated sheep up on the moor, and he’s asked me to go with him to check it out.”
Isaac paused with one arm pushed into his shirtsleeve. “He doesn’t think—”

Matthew cut him off. “No. He was quite adamant about that. He just thought we’d be able to help figure out what did it. I explained that you’ve got to go to work, though. I’m going to head across there now and go up with him.”

“I could phone in, let them know I’ll be late.”

Matthew held up his hand. “There’s no need, brother. Relax. Just go to work and help the sick people. I’ll let you know what—if anything—I find out.”

Opening his mouth, then closing it again, Isaac seemed to have thought better of whatever he was going to say. He continued to dress. “All right, I will. But make sure you let me know what happens. Send me a text or something, and I’ll phone you as soon as I have a gap in between patients.”

Matthew grimaced. He hated texting. Hated mobile phones, actually. Technology was one of the things he disliked most about modern-day life, though he realized it was a necessary evil. It solved as many problems for him and his brother as it created, so he dealt with it as best he could. Fortunately, Isaac had always had an affinity with computers and phones, so he tutored his older brother.

“Yeah, all right. I’d better go and find my phone first then, eh?”

Smirking at his brother’s rolled eyes, he left the room and headed for his own bedroom, where he thought he’d left the device the previous night, before he and Isaac had headed for the caves. Immediately spotting the mobile phone—which Isaac often made a point of telling him was akin to a brick—he grabbed it and stuffed it into his pocket and made his way downstairs.

Retrieving his keys from the hook by the front door, he called up to his brother. “I’m going now, Isaac. I’ll see you after my shift at the pub. I’m working until closing time.”

“Okay. Don’t forget to keep me posted!”

“I won’t.” As if he could forget. The dead sheep was going to be a big thing, he just knew it. The vicar might not think he and his brother had anything to do with it, but some of the other villagers might. When there was no proof either way, just his and Isaac’s word, it was understandable, really. Since he and his brother changed into wolves every full moon, it was a natural conclusion to draw. Particularly since normal wolves had been extinct in England for over five hundred years.

*****

Author Bio:

Lucy Felthouse is a very busy woman! She writes erotica and erotic romance in a variety of subgenres and pairings, and has over 100 publications to her name, with many more in the pipeline. These include several editions of Best Bondage Erotica, Best Women's Erotica 2013 and Best Erotic Romance 2014. Another string to her bow is editing, and she has edited and co-edited a number of anthologies, and also edits for a small publishing house. She owns Erotica For All, is book editor for Cliterati, and is one eighth of The Brit Babes. Find out more at http://www.lucyfelthouse.co.uk. Join her on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to her newsletter at: http://eepurl.com/gMQb9

Friday, August 22, 2014

#FridayReads: Books I'm Currently Reading Aug. 22, 2014

I'm having one of those "read 1,000 things at the same time" moments again, but what's new? I love books. I'm kind of obsessed with them, really.



My main book is Four: A Divergent Short Story Collection, which I picked up at the public library a few days ago. I loved the Divergent trilogy. Even though I already bought and read one of the e-book versions of "The Transfer," the first story in the collection, I haven't read all four stories yet.


I had intended to take a short hiatus from reading young adult books, but the opportunity to get this from the library weakened my resolve.

By the way, I said in my Divergent review that Tris and Caleb Prior are fraternal twins. Four makes it clear they're "Irish twins." In other words, they were born ten or eleven months apart. I missed that upon first reading.

I had been reading the final book in the All Souls Trilogy series, The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to finish more than a third of it before it had to go back to the library.


It's too wonderful. I don't want to gulp it down. I need to savor. I think I'll have to buy the e-book and read it in my Nook.

The book I'm currently reading in my Nook is Fated (Vampire Destiny #1) by Alexandra Anthony. It's a paranormal romance, and a pretty quick, easy read.


The vampire, Stefan Lifsten, is tall, blond, and Nordic, heavily reminiscent of Eric Northman in Charlaine Harris's Southern Vampire Mysteries series. The heroine, Josephine, is a telepath who reads people's minds. She's very much like Harris's Sookie Stackhouse. It almost reads like True Blood fan fiction - and I'm not complaining. I'm liking it.

The last episode of True Blood is coming up this Sunday. I'm looking forward to it, and I'm dreading it at the same time.

The book I'm reading in my kitchen as I wait for coffee to brew and water to boil is Vampyres of Hollywood by Adrienne Barbeau and Michael Scott.


It's a paranormal murder mystery. Half the chapters are written from the point of view of a vampire/horror film actress who's sort of the sheriff of Hollywood the same way Eric is the sheriff of the Shreveport region. All of the victims (at least the first three) were her vampiric creations, her "children." The other half of the chapters are written from the POV of the mortal human detective who's investigating the crime. He doesn't know that vampires really exist.

I haven't read any of Michael Scott's other books, but he wrote the YA fantasy Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series. And of course we all remember who Nicholas Flamel is...he created the Philosopher's Stone, the very thing that gave young Harry Potter so much trouble. Well, that's the folklore. He was an actual historical person, too.

Barbeau in a Creative Commons image by Leslie Gottlieb. 
Adrienne Barbeau, of course, is an actress as well as an author. Very beautiful lady.

The book I keep in my husband's van in case of reading time is HellFire by Kate Douglas. This is part of my PNR rotation. It's the second book in the DemonSlayers series. It's a silly-but-fun paranormal romance series with a hero from the lost continent of Lemuria. (That's an interesting subject we'll save for when I finish the book. I have a thing for discarded scientific theories.)


Okay, the cover model with the long blond hair looks exactly like Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies. As I'm reading the book, though, I'm imagining the tall, white-blond hero as Lee Pace in the Hobbit movies. I'm imagining Rutina Wesley - True Blood's Tara Thornton - in the role of the heroine, Ginny. (That's Ginny as in Virginia, not like Harry Potter's Ginny. Mrs. Potter's nickname comes from Ginevra, the Italian equivalent of Jennifer or Guinevere.)

I love me some Kate Douglas. She had me hooked from the first time I picked up Wolf Tales.

Now, the serious book I'm reading is my latest Amazon Vine pick. It's called Religio Duplex: How the Enlightenment Reinvented Egyptian Religion by Jan Assmann, translated from German by Robert Savage. (I don't know what Assmann means in the German language, but it's unfortunately giggle-worthy in English. I can't help but think of the Seinfeld episode in which Kramer mistakenly receives the "ASS MAN" vanity license plates.) This scholarly work describes the history of a thought, from a Greek interpretation of the Egyptian religion during antiquity to the re-emergence of this interpretation during the European Enlightenment era of the 1600s and 1700s. Assmann is an Egyptologist, and he's also a scholar of European history, so this is right up his alley. I'll write a detailed review as soon as I finish this dense academic work. I'm about halfway through.

What are you reading?