Thing of the Month October 2013

Latimer and ridley

We are fan-girls – we get obsessed about anything and everything, very quickly… it’s a curse and gift (sort’a!) that we both share!

When we find something we love, we stand up on virtual rooftops and scream – “watch this! go here! eat this! love this! listen to this! read this!”

We have so many obsessions, big, small, wonderful, weird,… weirder. We accumulate new ones by the month! Like hoarders.

We give an RSA (Ridley Stamp of Approval) or an LSA (Latimer Stamp of Approval) to the things we like best – if one of us gives one, then the other knows it’s something is good!

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One of us will ask; “Ah, but does it have an R/LSA?” 🙂

We’ve decided to share one of our R/LSA’s each and every month!

Yes, welcome to *drum roll* —- THING OF THE MONTH! (*boom*)

Latimer’s LSA: For me, it’s a book series!

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You know how it goes; you find a series of books you love and you just devour it like it’s chocolate – you ride the book high. And you feel awesome! (that was me, I found a series that had me riding that high!).

That series is The Seven Realms by Cinda Chima Williams (4 books total – I like a good sized series me!). It was recommended by mseregon (who mentioned it on deviantart)!

The Seven Realms series - soooo pretty, neh?
The Seven Realms series – soooo pretty, neh?

I’d never heard of it before! So I owe mseregon so much!

The Seven Realms is a good old-fashioned pure fantasy series. It has been a while for me, a long while, since I stepped back into that world!

It made me want to seek out the Belgariad series (by David Eddings)!

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I read it so long ago, I hardly remember it – but I remember that I loved it (if that makes any sense!). It’s in my attic somewhere – I went looking, but I had to fight a bird and a massive spider up there, so I got freaked out and ran away screaming!

Anyways, The Seven Realms is a great fun, high-fantasy series, with magic, adventure, romance and mystery! Ah, but beware, with great joy comes sadness – when it ends… argh, you hit the book-low!

WHAT NOW!? ARGH
WHAT NOW!? ARGH

Yep, you know the feeling, the ‘what now?!’.

 It’s chasing the dragon and getting burned.

Hopefully, by sharing this series, someone will recommend me a new one! But please, chase this dragon… it’s worth the burn!

Ridley’s RSA: My thing of the month isn’t as impressive as Lat’s, I didn’t have a dragon chasing experience, though I plan on it soon as she passes on that series she’s just finished (I know they’ve been bagged up and they’re just now waiting for my grubby hands to get on them, haha).ID-10071274

It has a serious LSA attached, so I’m really looking forward to delving deep and not coming up for air until I’ve devoured each book and have slumped over in a fit of depression where I fully believe that nothing else will ever top them. You know how it is. 🙂

20131017_104627This month I started a new comic book series, Fables. It was not in any way what I expected. Basically all the well known characters from our fairy tales (Snow White, Prince Charming, Red Riding Hood etc) have all been driven out of their magical lands and they’re currently etching out a life in New York city. As you’re a child when you read these stories, I came to the series (without realising I was doing this though) expecting it to be a little like the fairy tales of old, I thought it would be quite light-hearted, little childish, maybe just a new take on the old stories. I was quite wrong. It’s very much for adults, where in the opening pages there is an apartment trashed and covered in blood, then there’s Prince Charming seducing a waitress into paying for his restaurant bill and bringing her home for the night and the Big Bad wolf is an old school smoking Columbo like detective who has a serious crush on Snow White (can you tell I’m already rooting for them to get together?? 😀 ).Columbo

It’s an absolutely massive series with something like 133 issues, which is both fantastic – knowing I’ve so much I can work through – but daunting at the same time.FABL_Cv133_previews_qopkm6dkvn_

My one gripe with this new reading genre that Latimer and I are trying to break into (she’s doing such a better job of it than I am too!) would be how quickly you go through a comic, I read volume one of Fables in one sitting, so then you’re left sitting there wanting more. With a book you can just sink your teeth into it, and then when you’re left waiting for a sequel you know when you get it, it’s going to be enough to slake your thirst, you’ll get to find out what happens to the characters. Though I suppose the exact same could be said for manga and I still love those too!

We’d love to hear your Thing of the Month, here in the comments, or if you want to post one to your blog – maybe we could make a chain of fan-girls sharing fandoms!

As hoarders we love to collect new obsessions! Hopefully we’ve given you some fun things to check out too! 😀 

Book Addicts

Read-a-thon Tackle Your TBR

We just want to thank Laura over at Colorimetry and Tressa at Tressa’s Wishful Endings for letting us take part in their Read-a-thon! Get on over there and check these ladies out, that have some fantastic posts up!

We also have a four ebook giveaway for Legend Unleashed and an interview on Colorimetry, pop on over and say hi to Laura and enter the rafflecopter to win one of them!

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A book addict, are you one? We know we are!!

Everyone gets swept away by something, a novel, a movie, a person. Your imagination and your emotions are ensnared. Your heart is like a jack-hammer in your chest and your thoughts whizz by barely half-formed.

For us, it’s always been a series of books that affects us like this, though the occasional box set of a television series or Asian drama has seized us in the same way. You know that feeling when you become so immersed in this pretend new world, that if you’re jerked back into your own reality, you resent it? It’s just a fantastic feeling, isn’t it? To find something that you can become so captivated by it, that you forget you’re not actually out on the briny sea or or staring deeply into the leading man’s eyes.

Nothing else really matters; when dinner is on the table, you don’t want to stop reading to eat it, when your eyes begin to droop, you brand them traitors. You just wish you could just read faster, to find out what happens next, to know if the heroine lives or dies, if the couple end up kissing or if the bad guy wins. But there are also those other, conflicting feelings. You want to know how it ends, but you also want it to last forever, you want to slow down too. You panic a little now that the fatter part of the book is in your left hand. There are always stalling tactics, of course, like popping into the kitchen to go get a cup of tea. It’s a quick break to try to persuade yourself that you should make your book last. You finally convince yourself while you wait for the kettle to boil, that you should put the book down and leave it until tomorrow to finish but then you begin to wonder…what will happen, will our heroine make it out alive? What will he say to her now she’s said she loves him? All of this of course nibbles at your resolve and it only means the minute you’re back with your book, the steaming drink is abandoned. That little smile returns as you remove your bookmark and you continue to plough through it like a person possessed.

Reading or watching a brilliant fantastic series for us is like you’re riding high, you’re swept away on the crest of a wave until eventually you’re carried to the end of your journey. Sometimes it a gentle landing onto a soft beach, other times you’re slammed into sharpest of rocks and you tumble to a halt.

It’s amazing the feelings a good book can provoke. Both the highs and lows.

There is always a big slump, almost like a small bout of depression, after a really excellent series is finished. It generally only happens with a series, rather than stand-alone novels, because you’ve been with the world and the characters for long enough that in a way you’ve ‘bonded’ with them. This slump comes from the knowledge that you have to leave them now and that you won’t get to be that engrossed again for some time. You’re always left with question of whether you’ll find another ‘hit’. You begin to doubt that there really could be another series available as good or better that this one.

Sometimes this lull doesn’t last long. Other times you spend a day or two thinking about the book. It’s the rare few that will have you in a funk for longer (and they’re the depressing books, the ones that end in great tragedy).  Though we all know the big hitters, where you’re dying for the next sequel. Their affects can last weeks, and weeks. 😀

Does anyone else find this happens to them? Or is it just us, do we become too emotionally involved in characters, that we can’t break away for ages afterwards?

It has to be said, though, the pen (or keyboard now?) with a good writer behind it really can be mightier than a sword.

Don’t forget to go visit Tressa’s Wishful Ending for the Read-a-thon wrap up!!

Obsession Island

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Ridley: Hello…*waves* I know, I’ve been quiet as of late, I’m sure you were all wondering where Ridley had gone. (No? No one?) I’ve been busy! Kind of. While Latimer has been ploughing new roads through the unknown jungle that is the comic book world and developing her inner fangirl there, I’ve gone back to the old staple of Asian dramas. I will follow Lat down the comic book route, eventually, when she has the road newly paved and there’s been a bus route established with a tourist map on all the best locations (aka stories).*grin*Dublin-Tourist-Map

I can just imagine me wandering forward into the large sprawling forest, wide eyed and hesitant, staring up at the comic book trees…

TA8

Latimer will be pointing at one tree with a beautiful sturdy trunk, “Let’s climb this one! It seems like a great story!”

And then we look upwards with smiles of excitement and far higher than we can see the branches have become all twisted and cancerous as the tale has gone awry, and then closer to us a whole thick limb suddenly disappears from the tree and I turn to her in horror, pointing at it.

Latimer huffs in annoyance, “They’ve just retconed the story line.”

“Ret-con?”

“Restarted it, so it’s like everything that they’ve done up until now hasn’t happened.”

I gasp at her. “But I could have been on that part!!”

I look down at the leafy forest floor, imagining myself lying there dazed not knowing why I’d plummet to the ground. I turn and shake my fist up at the now blank space on the tree.

So…I’ll wait until some of the trees have hazard signs erected first! And maybe a train line, I can get a bit travel sick on the bus…

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As I said though, I’ve been away, lost in the world of Asian dramas, I’m the canary (as in canary down the mine!) for, Flower Boy Next Door (Latimer pointed this series out to me). It’s a Korean one this time. I’ve ventured forth alone to see what it’s like and to report back on whether others (well, just Latimer) should follow me or run away, and so far? Oh it’s so good!Flower-Boy-Next-Door-04

But I’ll tell you (another side journey here), I got this hankering to return to the dramas after I’d tried my hand at watching a Bollywood film, I’d never watched one before-a proper one now, made for their home audiences, not Europe or America. It had the same type of romantic elements, the restrained passion and heartbreak as the dramas. The film was called Veer-Zaara (it’s the name of the two main characters). Basically the two main characters are from different countries (India and Pakistan) and they meet when the main girl, Zaara, visits India. Over the few days they travel together, they fall in love, but then the man she’s been promised to comes to take her back to Pakistan….and heartbreak and forbidden love ensues!veer-zaara

Absolutely beautiful images and colours and the dancing was great, but I’m just not really a fan of people breaking out into song at critical moments in the tale.

Veer-Zaara 16veerzaara_2004_4

Musical episodes in any series I’ve ever watched have never really sat well with me (even that Buffy episode-though I just looked at the trailer…it was kinda good…I loved that series, and Angel!).

The reason for not possibly liking it is because I get sucked up by the tune and while I’m humming and swaying, I don’t hear what they’re actually singing about, so I miss important parts of the storyline.  (Though for some reason, this never seems to happen with my beloved Disney films, I sing and sway to them, but I still know what’s going on afterwards!)

Hakuna MatataThe biggest plus this film had though, (that if I see this in any drama that I watch I sit back with the words, ‘this is gona be gooood’), is the rain scene. There has to be a rain scene in any epic or tragic or hard-fought-for love story, there has to be a rain scene when the two couples reunite or finally come together after overcoming all the hardship or just kiss for the first time. It truly is a swoon worthy moment.Veer-Zaara 21Veer-Zaara (1)

I just realised they had quite a few rain scenes in this film, though some of them didn’t technically happen as they’re just the character imagining them. Like this one (but now you hopefully understand the beauty of the rain scene?):

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Now back to my, Flower Boy Next Door. I’m only in the middle of it, but basically it’s about a girl (Go Dok-mi played by Park Shin-hye) who avoids people and contact with the outside world.Flower-Boy-Next-Door-Korean-Drama_korean-dramas We’re getting flashbacks to the tragic events behind this with each new instalment. Then there’s a possible love interest in the beautiful man next door (Oh Jin-rak played by Kim Ji-hoon)543806_576111315748402_241042218_n-1

and also the beautiful neighbour across the road (Enrique Geum played by Yoon Shi-yoon)tumblr_mkj5a0u3n91qiq9wto1_500

and then there’s the scheming ‘other woman’ (I always hate the ‘other woman’ in any story *glare*) who wants one of the men and is making the girl’s life a misery. (no one cares who she is….oh fine! It’s Park Soo-jin as Cha Do-hwi, she a great actress too….but I still hate the ‘other woman’.)boynextdoor8-00204

I’m all set for some fantastic viewing and roller coaster moments. I’m already wrecked from not going to bed early enough during the week while watching this! And of course having to go to work, eat, sleep, and also get my writing done, people (other than Latimer, who is now getting 20 texts a minute with random happy (no doubt confusing) lines like, ‘oh my god, he just looked at her!’, as I’m watching the drama) think I’ve disappeared!

I have, into Korean drama land!   

PS: I just realised you know, when you find something new that you absolutely love, it’s like you’re on your own little obsession island, completely by yourself revelling in it and consuming as much of the comic, series, book, music that you can, that’s stage one. Then stage two is bursting free from your little hovel, when there is no more (you’ve read, seen or listened to everything) and you share your love of the obsession and want to meet others just like you. I think stage two lasts quite a while especially now we have the internet!

Sleep vs. Book: the cost of addiction

Latimer: Two nights in a row I’ve been up until 1.30am. And that’s not good when you have to get up at 7am!

I ended up watching episode 2 of Game of Thrones on Tuesday night. It was pretty crap actually- too much talking and gratuitous sex. My flatmate (Orbie) made a very good point about the sex, “why is it never the ones we want to see naked?”

“Fair point,” I said. “Like Robb Stark.”

Orbie nodded, “And Jon Snow- the hottest things in the show.”

Silently, I nodded, this is true, but then I chirped up, “And Jaime Lannister?”

She didn’t reply. Is it just me? I’m going to wait for Ridley to shoot me down on that (I don’t expect her to, but the heart of a woman is a fickle thing. We find beauty in strange places at times and expect others to loudly declare they are sisters in arms with us, when in actuality they look at us with scorn and reproach! But then in turn, we’ll do the same thing when they come forward and admit their guilty pleasure!).

Anyway, so we watched Game of Thrones.

Then, I headed to bed to finish reading Book 2 of the Hunger Games (it wasn’t my intention initially to finish it, but that’s what happened- like a crack addict I OD’d on reading). I stumbled, bleary-eyed to the bathroom at 1am (1 chapter left at this point). As I passed Orbie’s room, the light was on (this was weird). “Hmm,” I thought. Then shrugged, stumbling back to my room to finish gobbling down Book 2.

I woke up the next morning in a hazy half-dream state. I thought I was in the games for a minute, in some weird trippy after-effects of late-night reading. I shook my head and struggled off to make my breakfast. It was a while before Orbie materialised, clawing her way out of her room like a drunk, doped-up koala. She stood blinking in the kitchen, “I’m so tired!” she moaned. “My eyes are burning! I can’t keep them open!”

I nodded, munching my toast. “Hmm, I know what you mean I was up last night reading.” Pause. “What time did you go to bed at?”

“2am!” she cried, using her fingers to hold her eyes open.

“What were you doing?” I inquired. My mind connecting the dots… I wondered….

“Reading.”

“What?” I pressed.

“Hunger Games Book 2!” she said with a sheepish smile, as if I would shoot her down.

“I knew it! Me too,” I squealed.

I told her I’d been up the previous night too. She asked if I had the one’s with the crap, horrible, garish covers (yes).

She scowled, “Those covers make it look like you are reading a kids book about aliens.”

I told her about how Ridley and I had gone to the bookshop after the movie (I’ll set the scene: movie ends, Ridley turns, a knowing smile on her face; “bookshop” she asks, but it’s not really a question. I squeal like a child on too much sugar “YEEY!”- she knows me too well).

Orbie levelled a knowing look at me, “I told you, you would like it” (she had seen the film the previous week and told me, “you’d like it; it’s very good”).

I sigh, “Yeah, yeah, you and Ridley!”

Then, Orbie and I stumbled off our separate ways to work.

I’m saving Book 3 for the weekend. I have it under lock and key. I have to, I need sleep!

My name is Latimer and I’ve been Hunger Games free since 1.30am on Wednesday.

Urban Fantasy

Latimer: It’s hard to be average and ‘normal’.

It’s sort of boring. Scratch that, it is boring. However, I’m not the sort who’s always unhappy about that fact. Because to be fair, life ain’t so bad; when all’s said and done and you’re healthy and content, the fact that there aren’t any monsters or mystical stuff outside your door doesn’t really matter, it’s more annoying that there isn’t than depressing.

But that doesn’t stop the mind from wondering what it would be like if there was a world beneath the everyday one. I’m talking vampires and werewolves and all that stuff that humanity has always had a morbid fascination with.

We might consider ourselves in this day and age enlightened and above the flights of fancy of yesteryear, but that’s not really the case. We do still think about magic and monsters. Hell, there’s still religion isn’t there- angels and demons? So, we dream there’s a divine overseeing force watching over us, because it’s what we want to believe. If that force takes the form of God or vampires and fairies, what’s the real difference?

I like thinking about the ‘world beneath ours’… I don’t believe it’s there, but the imagining is half the fun for me. I like to picture what it would be like to turn the corner and see the unseen- to be told the great secret and be let into the mysterious world beyond this world.

And I think there’s lots of people like that. And that’s why we have Urban Fantasy on the up and up lately. Well, it’s only recently I’ve come across the term ‘Urban Fantasy’ or UF to describe a genre of books- though possibly we are more likely to see it described as ‘paranormal romance’… hmm, I don’t like to hang around the bookshelves in shops that describe it in this way! Bad marketing people; it sort of cheapens the stories to be classified in this way!

Urban Fantasy has peaked my interest lately.

I guess though, it’s not a lie to say it’s Twilight’s doing that True Blood and co. are on our screens and that the bookshelves are now awash with UF.

 It’s like there’s a special guideline authors of UF must follow; a girl, not special, finds out she’s special, meets vampire, meets werewolf and them comes the secret supernatural community wherein she meets fairies, demons, angels etc!

Sounds like I have a problem with this? Ah-ha, no, I don’t. This is the bedrock of UF.

It’s just I’m never fulfilled by it. It seems the idea is more perfect that what people deliver. Some worlds have been good (I really enjoyed the Chloe Saunders books Kelley Armstrong wrote)

But I find myself still looking for that good one… TV show or book I don’t mind.

So, where did I start with Urban Fantasy? Well, many years ago with Buffy and Angel. That was probably the start-proper for most people. I adored Buffy and Angel. But even they failed to deliver a good ending, leaving fans idling on what might have been but never was.

Then came Supernatural…

Now this is a funny one; it’s two brothers for a start, with a mixed up relationship with their missing father… and for me, I like mixed up relationships with families in books, but there was no ‘love’ in this, no women…. and I thought- that’s not really what I want; I need a relationship damn it! And I let Supernatural go.

Never watched it when it started…. BUT years later I came back to it and I was blown away!

It is the best. Better than Buffy or Angel at their height. I love Sam and Dean (gorgeous of course but as characters as well). I love sharp-talking Bobby and the Impala (yeah, even the car becomes a character in it’s own right). 

The whole show is witty, cool, charming, depressing, moving- everything you want! Even the soundtrack is cool, with classical rock songs in every episode. It has demons, ghosts and gods and all sorts of things that go bump in the night. But mostly it has this great brother-relationship between Sam and Dean. Even the way the show is shot makes it look cold and gritty. There never seems to be any bright colours. It’s always blues and greys.

I love this show. And I find that every time a ‘woman’ comes into the boy’s life I want her out of it! I think to myself ‘this isn’t for girls! This is just the boys! Get out woman!’ It’s funny how you don’t need the relationship in this one, just the Urban Fantasy.

Supernatural is by far the best.

That said my interest in True Blood was peaked when it came out. And whoooh, what a disappointment that was!

Basically it descends pretty fast into gratuitous sex-scenes and there’s hardly a thing to like about anyone anymore.

Eric Northman is most certainly the only reason I watch it.

Alexander Skarsgård is a beautiful man. But…. well, maybe he is actually a good actor, but in True Blood I find his accent (whatever he’s putting on because I know he’s Swedish, but the accent must be American via the moon via Sweden) weird and off-putting and his acting unbelievable. 

Still he is beautiful and I know the character is bad and devilish and yummy so I overlook the portrayal.

Bill is an utter joke, his acting is bad and the character is just so ‘blaaah’.

Sookie is annoying (though Anna Pacquin can act).

Vinnie from Home and Away plays Jason Stackhouse- he has changed from his ‘Summer Bay’ days; my word has he!

He looks great and sounds completely American. In fact I didn’t even know him at first; very unlike me. I notice the ex-Home and Away crowd popping up here and there on American TV shows. Anyway, Vinnie is amazing in True Blood. He’s a great actor and actually I like the Jason character (at least his sex scenes serve a purpose illustrating his feckless character)- but it’s not like he can hold the show on his own, it’d be too much of a struggle to make up for everyone else!  

True Blood is a funny one. I don’t like it, but I still watch it. I don’t know why. I keep up-to-date with it- but I fast-forward through ALOT of it. I think it’s probably loss of Supernatural. Which won’t be back until September.

Has True Blood just caught the people looking for a summer boredom-UF fix? In me, I think it has.

This brings me onto another UF book series turned TV. I’m late to these. I know. It’s not that I don’t know they’re there, it’s just I keep them on the periphery until they do something to peak my interest.

Here enter the Vampire Diaries…. and what lured me in? Isn’t it always a bad-boy… Damon Salvatore!

So… I got the general idea of it- two vampire brothers fighting over the human girl with a mysterious family history- nuff-said, I’m in!

And so, I settled down and munched my way through the 1st series.

And I really enjoyed it. I’m not saying it’s obsession worthy, it’s not without its flaws, but I’d easily overlook the small hic-ups, because it reminds me of early season-Buffy (the last seasons were just a joke). The strange town protecting itself against the vampire threat that none of the average folk know about- only the overseeing forces…

The vampires are old school, blood suckers as well. Monsters, the way they should be (mostly). There’s gore and a certain amount of the viewer feeling being a vampire is not a good thing. A nice touch here is that the Salvatore brothers have enchanted rings that mean they can go out in the daylight. It gives an added joy to see the daytime with the vampires as opposed to having to leave them to the night.

It’s set in an American town called ‘Mystic Falls’ (what a name, nice) and it’s very picturesque… because of Supernatural and shows where people live or pass through (regularly) these, woodland/town/village places in America, I’m left thinking ‘is this what it’s like in the ‘country’ in America?’ and ‘I want to see it’. There’s something nice and quaint about the town that’s getting harassed by monsters. I like it.

A lot of problems come from a bad leading lady. Elena is mouthy, but she’s not stupid and she works things out pretty quickly all by herself. So, yeah she’s a good enough character. They’re never perfect. Could I say there’s one I love- no, not really, but I can name plenty I dislike (Sookie, Anita Blake, Cassandra Palmer, Elena the werewolf from Kelley Armstrong’s books and Bella Swan).

So if I don’t hate, I like well-enough- I like Elena.

Her friends have secrets, her family is hiding things. Her town has known misfortune of the vampiric sort before… hmm, interesting right?

So let’s look at our leading men shall we? I’m wondering why is Damon so much more handsome than Stefan?

Is this a sign (haha). She’ll end up with him by the end (not because he’s better looking though- if Elena/or we, meet him first she’ll end up with him- factoid (it’s an unspoken rule)- did she meet him first in the books I wonder? I’ll never read them, so I’ll just go by the TV show)… mark my words… Damon is the troubled soul, he needs her more.

The actor that plays him has amazing eyes (stunning is the word! Unnatural!)… I won’t get into that though, it cheapens the musing to harp on about the man (he’s lovely… mmmm…. yummers).

As a character, Damon is as bad as they come (bad as in evil… well, he DOES kill people, many and without a second thought). He’s conflicted and caught up in his past. But his character evolves and the actor that plays him does a fine job at playing a cocky bastard. Damon reminds me of Dean from Supernatural (and I adore Dean). They have the same sort of rock-devil-may-care attitude. And younger brother complexs I guess.

Okay, The Vampire Diaries isn’t perfect. But it’s comes worlds closer to it than the likes of True Blood. I’m looking forward to the next series basically. It was enjoyable. Young and fresh and yeah the backdrop is a lot ‘nicer’ than that of True Blood.

It’s taking some time for the good Urban Fantasy to rise above the rest of the crap. But maybe it’s a case of getting back to basics… get back to ground roots early-Buffy-style.

Why do we have to be subjected to the porn without plot? Come on, people. It’s nice to have a bit (don’t get me wrong), but too much really leaves a bad after taste in the psyche!