Twitter Recommendations for First Time Romancers who like Fantasy

So I have this friend, who I always talk to about romance, but he has never read any. So I asked to twitter, what would you recommend for a young male who reads fantasy, but has no idea about romance and is willing to test the waters. This is what the fabulous romance community on Twitter came up with!

  • The Siren by Tiffany Riez (literary bent, BDSM, hot sex, strong characters)
  • Sherrilyn Kenyon Born of Night (sci fi setting, male perspective, gentle sex and crime)
  • Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead (fantasy with strong romantic elements)
  • The Changeling Sea by Patricia A McKillip (fantasy with a female gaze)
  • The Dark Hunter series by Sherrilyn Kenyon
  • Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs (Urban fantasy with strong romantic elements)
  • Alpha and Omega series by Patricia Briggs (More romancey than prev series)
  • Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh
  • Graveling or Fire by Kristen Cashore (Fantasy, strong romantic elements)
  • The Sharing Knife by Lois McMaster Bujold (Fantasy, strong romantic elements)
  • The Iron Seas series by Meljean Brooks (steampunk worldbuilding)
  • Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold (Sci fi with romance)
  • Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews (More urban fantasy than straight romance, but with female protagonists)
  • Shadowfae by Erica Hayes (explicit sexy times, but edgy and dark romance)
  • Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger
  • Lord of the Fading Lands by C L Wilson
  • Demon Angel by Meljean Brooks
  • Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris
  • Thousand Kingdoms series by N K Jemison (fantasy with strong romance)

For something different:

  • Suzanne Brockman (romantic suspense)
  • Exclusively Yours by Shannon Stacey (contemporary)
  • Mr Impossible by Loretta Chase (Historical)
  • Mr Right and Other Mongrels by Monique McDonnell (Contemporary Australian Romance)

Thx to @stuffedO, @bookthingo, @littlecatdesign, @rudi_bee, @kaetrin67, @jodimca, @greenspace01, @prohairetic, @_marijana_

HearthStone Beta Overview

I’m so lucky, I got a HearthStone beta key! Woo! I haven’t played many card based games before, but I’ve watched others play ’em and understand how it generally works.

This is just a very, very basic and general overview so I have an excuse to show off how damn pretty this game is! The music is also really nice, and there are sounds and actions to everything from pulling cards to dying. It makes for a really nice atmosphere. And not to mention, it’s useful to have the clock at the bottom so you don’t spend four hours playing <.<

So far, I haven’t done everything in game so I’m getting in my mate Aliva (the pretty pandaren monk from the transmog and raid posts) to explain how to disenchant/craft cards.

Also basic reminder, the pictures and information within this post are from the beta and pretty much everything is subject to change before it goes live! HearthStone has no release date but will be free, and you can sign up for a beta key or look for giveaways at the HearthStone site. Initially, it will be available on Mac and Windows, with an iPad version coming later (and yes, there’s been suggestions for an Android version too already XD ).

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Welcome to HearthStone (packs, decks and chat)

main screen

You start the tutorial with the Mage pack, and have to fight against various familiar faces such as Hemet Nesingwary and Illidan. Once you have conquered those, you can fight AI classes at basic level to win access to those packs too. I’ve unlocked all mine, but only by playing more, leveling your classes and defeating others can you unlock all the basic cards – there are 20. For higher level cards, you need to buy (with coins from completely quests or PvP, or with real money) packs.

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This is my friends screenshot, and as you can see, he’s damn lucky! There are different rarities of cards which you can tell by looking at the little gems in the centre of the cards; white = common, blue = rare, purple = epic, orange = legendary. As you can see with the Warlock card, Twisting Nether, it is a gold card. You can get a gold version of any card. So far as I can tell, a gold card just looks shiny and does animations.

create deck

Once you have a bunch of cards, you can create your own custom deck. Here’s the hunter pack! You have suggest a card on the side which shows various cards to choose from, and if you don’t complete every slot for the deck, it will auto-fill.

censored chat

Another important aspect of the game, the chat window! It’s massive for the size of the game, and would be impossible to talk during play, but then my friend pointed out something obvious….

enter chat

Soo yeah… Derp. There’s an easier way to chat with someone <.< Just hit enter, and a bar comes up in the centre with the last thing your mate said. Your conversation comes up on the left side of the screen, so in game it’ll be a lot better than the massive chat window.

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Fight to the death (the battle screens, hero ability and minions)

priest v hunter

So here’s the battleground. At the beginning, the game tosses a coin to decide who goes first. If you go first, you start with 3 cards, and then one gets drawn from the deck. If you go second, you get an additional starting card. You can also choose to replace one or all of your starting cards, and it will be replaced with a random from the deck.

PVP: In PvP, the main difference is that there is a timer of 90 seconds, so you can’t take forever in deciding what your next move will be. Also, you don’t know what class you are playing against, and you can right click your hero to send preset messages (thanks, sorry, well played, etc) that will be said aloud by your character. 

You are on the bottom (here I’m playing the hunter, Rexxar… again) and your enemy is at the top (my friend is playing priest/Anduin. Don’t you just want to punch that face?). My hero skill is +2 damage to the enemy hero, and his is +2 health to him or his minions. My minions are above me, a guard with the ability Taunt (so if the priest gets a minion, the minion will have to target him) and a raptor. On the bottom right is my mana bar – pretty simple. If I had mana here, I could use it to pull out other cards, or my class ability, but I’ve already used it up (and when you can’t possible make further moves, you get the cute little Peon saying “Job’s done!”). On the far right going down, you can see the list of skills or actions that have been played.

weapon

On another fight, the paladin, you can see on my right is the hero special move. Uther’s move is to summon a 1hp/1attack minion. With cards or with other classes (such as rogue), you can get an additional attack which shows up on the right of your hero portrait, with attack on the left and a little broken shield on the right, showing how many times before the weapon breaks.

zoom card

If you hover over certain cards, you can zoom into their full details. I rather like that this fella from my enemy can’t attack, because he could eat either of my minions. When you use a minion to attack another minion, they BOTH take the damage. So if I used the dwarf to attack the watcher, the watcher would take -2 to his health, but my dwarf would die to the watcher’s +4 attack.
defeatI’m still pretty new to the game, that or the pally rather sucks. He didn’t even come close! I’ve been watching how long it takes me to take down certain classes and which ones generally win over another, or come close. I even have a nice little table drawn up – I always get the rogue with the hunter first go, the priest can easily down the mage and druid. The first hunter pack took me sooooo long to get! I tried on almost everything! But finally got him first go with the warrior.

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Disenchanting and Crafting: By Aliva

aliva 1

In HearthStone, there is no trading system. Instead you can destroy the cards you get from booster packs (disenchanting) for materials (e.g arcane dust) to craft the cards you want. You get more arcane dust the rarer the card is and even more if it is gold. You also get less than the amount needed to craft that same card so you can’t just pick whatever card you want after disenchanting one of the same rarity. When you get enough dust to craft a card you are able to pick from every card in the game including golden ones if you want (though they cost more to make) to help complete your deck. You can’t disenchant or craft the basic cards.

aliva 2

To do this, go to your deck collection and right click on the card you own to disenchant. Down in the bottom right there is a tab called “My cards”, and the other “All Sets” you can click on to sort the cards and find the ones you are looking for easier. Crafting is the same, except you right click a card you only have one or none of, and then click Craft down the bottom beside where the Disenchant is. 

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Want more? Go check out WoWInsider (such as this post on what they love and what they hate.) Or watch gameplay from MMOChamp Warlock V Druid.

And now a poem from everyone’s favourite (alongside Sha of Happiness and Doodle Gnome  of course) Twitter buddy, it’ssssss ANGRYORC!

@AngryOrc1: NOW I LAY MY CARD SO MEEK.
PRAY TO THRALL THIS MAGE DONT SHEEP.
IF IT DIES MY HEART WILL BREAK .
PRAY I HAVE A TAUNT TO MAKE.

WoW Selfies

Not much going on at the moment. It’s the holidays, and naturally as soon as they start, you get sick. I’ve been watching early Doctor Who episodes, and started Mad Men (yes, I’m years behind!). Also more Warcraft, of course. There’s some research going on, but I don’t have any substantial thoughts about any of it yet.

One thing I have taken up is selfies … of my WoW characters. I feel like I should show remorse for it, but WoW is full of interesting little details!belf - Copy

This here is my BElf hunter, showing off a stunning set I am yet to finish (damn non-matchy shoulders everywhere!). My friend laughs at me when I show him the armour sets I like on WoW, lots of chainmail bikinis. Depends on the character though, I choose non-combat pets that match their “personality”, as well as titles, which mounts they use, and of course the armour and weapons. duke grins - Copy

This was some quest text from Icecrown. I just like the added RP depth to what I was being asked to do. “GO KILL (number) (mob)” would be boring and meaningless without the additional text.
hks - Copy

Finally got this achievement, yayyy! My dear friends were online with me and we were all PvPing together at the time. AV was not offering many opportunities for killing, so I just ran IOC time after time after time. Little did I know, there’s an achievement AND title for 250,000 kills. This may take a while <.<leih - Copy

I love the look of this instance! This is my paladin at Vortex Pinnacle. It’s an instance in Uldum, a place rather muchly based on Ancient Egypt, which I’ve always had a fascination with (partly due to cat-worship, partly due to meeting @graecomuse in Egyptian Archaeology 101 XD).

magecleaning - Copy

This was a neat little detail I hadn’t noticed before on a Horde skyship, headed to Twilight Headlands. A mage deckhand. not the eye of sauron - Copy

This is totes not the Eye of Sauron … It’s just a big eye on top of a tower in a land corrupted by evil and ruled over by a really bad guy. Totes original XDqueen - Copy

Bow to the Slayer of the Archlich! Now bring me a sammich, mortal minions!
ray - Copy

Finally got my Skyguard reputation up and now have these lovely rays to ride. The purple, of course, is the best looking, and matches my mages armour. tauren

A quest in Karasang Wilds on Horde side that has a rather sad event, followed by the introduction of these adorable Tauren babies! Very pixely, but very cute. time lost figurineWith the Skyguard rep grind, I also got a trinket that turns me into a Skettis Arrokoa. Can’t mount with it on, sadly, but it looks very cool nonetheless XD

gargle and gurgle

This is in Zangarmarsh, just a troll witch doctor and his two pet murlocs, Gargle and Gurgle. They just pitter patter around his feet.
in the heart of horde homeland

In the heart of the Hordes land, beneath the shadow of Orgrimmar, the Alliance is just in the middle of it under a bubble and transforming people into robot cats.garroshbad

Now this image was disturbing. Basically, the leader of the Horde, Garrosh, is a big jerkface, the usual trying-to-take-over-the-world-for-the-pure-race villain. The trolls are rebelling against this evil orc. This is why we need to kill Garrosh!me n tyr

On a happier note – here’s my hunter and my friend Tyr, just before going to kill Galleon for the bajillionth time. Later, she helped me get the spectral porcupine XDrave

I found this picture on my old hard drive of a dear friend I met in WoW who died a few years ago. He was a rather serious player. Back in vanilla, I would tease him by running into giant elite mobs and laugh at him trying to save me. I stopped playing around the time of mid-end BC, but we still kept in touch and talked often. He was a great bloke 🙂

Gawd will save us!

The movement of zombie mythology from its first period to its second … mirrors the shift from faith in God to faith in science. – Kevin Boon’s essay ‘The Zombie as Other’ in Better off Dead, edited by Deborah Christie and Sarah Juliet Lauro

 

One of my favourite and hated of all stereotypical characters is the ‘crazy religious person’ (note: this does NOT refer to every religious person! There are people who take anything too far, no matter the name of their god. Second note: I will always not capitalise the word/name god unless it is from a quote. I use the term ‘gawd’ when I’m being silly.) This is the person who will deny what is front of them, even as the zombies are eating their flesh (literally in some movies). In Stephen King’s The Mist, it’s Mrs Carmody, thinking herself so pure when actually she splits the survivors apart. Whether unshakable belief in anything can be healthy is a topic for another academic. What I think about is god and science.

If you haven’t seen Prometheus, think of Frankenstein. The creation of life is an ability for god alone and no mortal can be god. Your  belief can change the purpose of life completely in a story: in one side of beliefs (of either science or religion), mankind is king, either being certified by god as above all the creatures or through survival of the fittest and evolving above the animals. On the other side, mankind is one of many creations and it’s our ability to think that will save us (and animals) and doom us (and animals). Are humans any more worthy of survival than animals? In some texts, animals are immune or not part of the zombie food pyramid. Could it be god resetting the world back to equality, where mankind no longer has total control? Or is it the animals are better at survival of the fittest?

The disease/plague/whatever itself is another point. Mostly we see zombie plagues either made by man, for bio-weapons, for immortality, for whatever. I’m struggling to think of a zombie plague ‘sent by god’. Usually it’s science or there is no explanation at all. Voodoo is human-controlled, so I wouldn’t quite set that as being god’s power or intent.

Science vs god also determines how we look at the Other. Western society is very paranoid about robots, for example, where in some countries like Japan have huge robot development (just told my partner what I’m writing, and he said how easy it would be to program a robot to kill zombies). But if zombies were created by god? How would that change our perceptions of them (whether you are the religious type, and whatever religious type you are)?

So in all didn’t actually talk about the quote at all, but still an interesting divide, whatever the monster!

What makes a zombie a zombie?

Upon my recent viewing, what I’m finding very interesting is the great changes in zombie behaviour over the decades since Night of the Living Dead. Human behaviour is much the same, but zombies change (adapt? evolve?) to cater to the new audiences.

Here are some of the general differences (of course, won’t be true for absolutely every movie):

  • Speed: Early zombies are shamblers, but don’t be fooled, they are just as dangerous as the fast zombies. Never, ever underestimate them.
  • Hunger: The whole brains thing comes from Return of the Living Dead, a horror comedy. Zombies in film are attracted to flesh, but there’s a scene where an early zombie is seen eating bark off a tree.
  • Reason for being: Suddenly, a wild zombie appears! Or was it a chemical leak? A bio-engineered disease? Early films don’t explain how or why the zombie comes about. That’s one thing that used to grate on me in books because I enjoy the backstory of why. But sometimes it’s just irrelevant.
  • Mindlessness: Earlier zombs could scream in pain, use tools, bust out lights, pull out phone cords. In Dawn of the Dead (original), one survivor makes the remark that the reason zombs are going to the mall is because it was an important place in their lives, they go there out of habit. Most modern zombs don’t have any of this. No memory, no emotion. Just the urge to feed upon flesh. (There are a few exceptions to this, of course). In Return of the Living Dead, they could even talk.
  • Special zombies: These are not present in Night/Dawn. Tarman in Return of the Living Dead could just be Patient Zero rather than a special. Some modern zomb films and stories have the different types, the most common special being a Tank or Behemoth. A big one. Might be a bit smarter, might be able to use tools where others can’t. Left 4 Dead has a variety of specials, including a Tank, but also a Witch, Hunter, Jockey, Spitter, Charger, Boomer (fan art at the bottom pictures a Witch and a Hunter … they don’t kiss in the game, but I find it fascinating how somehow, fan fictioners/artists have come up with the idea to make those two in particular lovers). What makes these ones ‘turn special’ is unknown, but they are clearly separate from the other mindless hordes.
  • The long undead: This is from Return of the Living Dead, where the long dead awaken. This is quite a rare thing in zomb texts, but an interesting distinction nonetheless. This also relates to the infection and how/why of the zombs.
Some things that remain the same:
  • Infection: Through bite or exposure
  • Desire to eat humans (whatever the body part)
  • Ignorant of injury to itself (will keep coming after you despite a shot in the leg)
  • Lesser mindedness/single mindedness: Their focus is on eating, not manners. While most have lesser capabilities, there are some texts where they seem to remember their lives
  • Rot/Decay: Crumbling bodies are a regular appearance in zomb texts. As the story goes on from Night to Dawn to Day of the Dead, the makeup gets more gruesome and rotted.
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Really, on any of these points you can argue if having one aspect or not having one really can make something a zombie. There are so many arguments over whether 28 Days Later infected are really zombies or not.
I love those arguments ^_^

Left 4 Dead witch hunter 2 by !angelofhapiness3 on deviantART