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Archive for October, 2015

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Friday, October 30th, 2015
Book Review: The Seventh Bride, T. Kingfisher

I received this book from Netgalley.

Wow. I mean, wow. The Seventh Bride by T. Kingfisher (aka Ursula Vernon) is stunning. So freaking good. I’ve read three books so far this year that I think deserve big awards and this is one of them. The writing reminds me of Naomi Novik’s Uprooted and Cat Valente and Kelly Link. Kingfisher’s writing, however, is more pointed and observant, while being witty and delicious and funny and unexpected. I seriously love this book.

To begin, the description:bridecoverfinal-200x300

Rhea is an ordinary miller’s daughter, engaged to be married under suspicious circumstances to a man not of her choosing. He has unknown powers and a manor house full of mysterious women.

Rhea has a hedgehog. It claims to be ordinary, but normal hedgehogs don’t act like that.

It’s probably not going to be enough.

bridgeI don’t want to give away too much, but Rhea is only 15 when a noble asks for her hand in marriage. The asking is more of a telling, as she has no real opportunity to refuse or her peasant family will suffer significantly. So she reluctantly agrees. Very quickly she begins to suspect he’s a magician, though that’s not a terrible thing. What really bothers her is that he’s rather a shifty, mean-seeming sort.

He invites her (again, she can’t refuse) to visit his home and once there, she cannot leave. She discovers his terrible secrets and then must use her wits and her friendships to try to escape before very bad things happen to her.

The worldbuilding in this story is incredible. I loved the golem birds and I thoroughly enjoyed Rhea. She’s smart, observant, and while afraid, she’s courageous as well. Crevan was seriously obnoxious in the best possible way, and I loved the other inhabitants of the house and the quirky magic within.

Don’t get me wrong, there are a couple of things that niggle–a lot was made of Rhea’s name and I thought that would turn into more, and also, Rhea made some pointed observations and then didn’t go anywhere with them. Those were only a couple of things, though and the rest of the book was stunning and engrossing. One of those that I stay up stupid late to read because I can’t put it down. It’s coming out very soon, and you should preorder your copy. Seriously. Do it. You won’t regret it.

 

Friday, October 30th, 2015
Book Review: The Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum by Kirsten Weiss

I received this book from Netgalley.

The Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum by Kirsten Weiss is a really fun book. I’d call it a mostly cozy, slightly paranormal romance with ghosts and light on the romance. It’s got quirky friends and a quirky setting and a fun main character. So first, the description:

museum coverWhen Maddie Kosloski’s career flatlines, she retreats to her wine-country hometown for solace and cheap rent. Railroaded into managing the local paranormal museum, she’s certain the rumors of its haunting are greatly exaggerated. But a new ghost may be on the loose. A fresh corpse in the museum embroils Maddie in murders past and present.

With her high school bully as one of the officers in charge, Maddie doubts justice will be served. When one of her best friends is arrested, she’s certain it won’t be.

Maddie grapples with ghost hunters, obsessed taxidermists, and the sexy motorcyclist next door as outside forces threaten. And as she juggles spectral shenanigans with the hunt for a killer, she discovers there truly is no place like home.

The book begins with Maddie having lost her job and returned to her hometown outside of San Francisco. She’s not been having much luck, and it’s looking like her former company is blackballing her. She’s at loose ends. In the meantime, her good friend is in the process of opening a shop and needs Maddie to take on running the next door paranormal museum, which is home to an array of haunted objects, including a bunch of really creepy dolls that gave me the heebey jeebies.

Maddie agrees to run it, and wouldn’t you know it, pretty quick a body turns up in the museum. More than a few people have a reason to have murdered the woman, and soon a ghost has Maddie working to uncover the truth. Complicating things is the fact that one of the investigators has a grudge against Maddie.

I enjoyed the book because while it was light, it did have a good mystery, and the characters were developed. The museum was definitely a fun setting and I also liked the added interest of the anti-museum advertisement and the later solution. Definitely a book worth reading.

Monday, October 26th, 2015
Um, wha–?

I get this email from Dictionary.com, as I do every day, with the word of the day. That word is taphephobia, which is an abnormal fear of being buried alive. Um, define abnormal fear here. Cause personally, I can say that I have a healthy fear of being buried alive. Or cremated alive, for that matter. I mean, I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it, but when I do, I consider it pretty healthy to be afraid of that. And also torture. Generally any painful things give me a healthy fear. Just saying. Is that phobia? At what point is it abnormal? I mean, if it’s a fear of being buried alive, do you avoid dirt? Working in the garden? When does it become abnormal?

All right, enough of the silly. I’ve decided to participate in Nanowrimo this year. Anybody else? Here’s hoping I can get focused and going.

 

 

 

Sunday, October 25th, 2015
catching up with myself

that’s actually not true. I haven’t caught up at all with myself. The girlie was sick a bit last week and I may have had a touch of her fever. Anyhow, my back is still crappy and I need to go see a chiro. Will I? Well, who knows. Course I have a ton of kid stuff to do this week after school and I have writing tasks that MUST. GET. DONE. So I shall. Or kill myself trying.

In the meantime, I’ve been writing some. Or really staring at the screen and wanting to write. Putting down words and then deleting them. Too much time doing that. I’m feeling doubtful about myself, which of course is a natural part of a writer’s journey. Unfortunately it’s one of the most obnoxious and difficult parts. I’m hoping to collect myself better this week and get on task better.

In the meantime, I’ve been cuddling dogs and spending time with the family. Today was an incredibly lazy day and I enjoyed that, even though I felt horribly guilty by it. I spent it with the family, so at least there was that.

And now, I’m off to do something fun or constructive, or both.

 

 

 

 

Sunday, October 18th, 2015
Body hurts

Friday the kids had the day off from school and so the man took the day off and we went to central Oregon to look for limb cast. Those are agates formed when hot ash covers wood after a volcanic eruption. The wood disappears and leaves a void and over time, minerals filter in and create a limb cast. It looks from the outside like petrified wood, but instead of minerals replacing the wood and leaving rings and so on, they are simply molds of the wood that was there. Anyhow, we went looking. We found a lot of little pieces about the size of my thumb, and a lot of smaller chips. Then the man found a Y branch about four inches across. It’s pretty blue. Then later he found a really big piece about five inches long and maybe four across. It’s lovely. limb cast 2 limb cast 1 There’s a lot of blue and purple in them. We hope to go back another time and look in some other spots for other colors. limb cast 4I love rocks, but don’t really know what I’m doing as far as hunting them. So the fact that a month or so ago we found some really cool obsidian and this weekend we found these limb casts was really exciting. We’ve got books and stuff, but I just didn’t know if we’d be able to find anything or that we’d know were to look or what we were looking at.

So Friday was a seriously long day, and then yesterday we went in the opposite direction to the coast and walked along the beach. The day was a little rainy, but then it cleared up for awhile and the waves were lovely and I walked around 5 miles with the doggies. I picked up a few shells and we went to a place called the Crystal Wizard and I got a really cool celestite geode egg and a lovely piece of black tourmaline. I’d like a piece of watermelon tourmaline, but they didn’t have any. We ate lunch/dinner at the Pig-N-Pancake and got home and I collapsed into a puddle.

Somewhere in all that, I tworked my back in a particular spot that tends to annoy me and now it hurt. Dammit. Worst part is that I think I did it sleeping rather than doing anything fun.

The dogs are exhausted by all the traveling in the last couple of days. When we were hunting rocks, we let them out of the truck off leash and they followed us for a bit, then Viggo kept running back to the truck. Voodoo followed me from shade to shade. Then when we went back to the truck to drop stuff off and head up a hill, they jumped inside like they thought we were going to sneak away without them. Goofy beasts.

Today I’ve done laundry and attempted to do some cleaning. Got the replacement mat for under my desk. The old one didn’t hold up. They sent me a replacement that is much heavier duty, so hoping it works better.

In the meantime, I’ve done a couple of minor changes to the website–notice the bar up at the top is now where the menu is. The reason is that I’m writing more and the old menu didn’t leave a lot of options for adding more stuff.

I’m hoping to do more with my newsletter. I kind of stink at thinking what might be nice to include in that. I don’t suppose anybody out there has suggestions of what they’d like to see?

 

 

 

Saturday, October 17th, 2015
Book Review: Four Weddings and a White Christmas

I received this book from NetGalley.

I’ve been in the mood for some light romance and some Christmas reading. I don’t know why. It’s not even Halloween. Maybe it’s because of the recent shooting here in Oregon, and I just needed some happy, sappiness. Four Weddings and a White Christmas by Jenny Oliver was a pretty fun read and generally I liked it. The key thing is that it was really light and not a lot of deeper emotional stuff.

So the story, as you might have guessed, revolves around four weddings and a snowy Christmas. Set mostly in England with weddings christmasforays to New York City and France, the story revolves around Hannah, a newly-graduated dress designer, who is reconnecting with old friends. One of them saw her graduation project and asked Hannah to design her wedding dress. Hannah, a single mother of a five year old girl, both living with her parents, is looking to have a life and develop her career. She’s eager to reconnect with old friends and that is one of the key elements of this book.

At the first wedding–rather right before–Hannah and Harry meet. He’s a top chef in a New York restaurant. He’s not looking for romance any more than Hannah is. He grew up in a strained household and is struggling to figure out how adult Harry connects with his parents and sister.

Harry and Hannah meet infrequently, mostly at the events of the title (very much like Four Weddings and A Funeral). Harry discovers he’s attracted to Hannah and to her daughter as well. He’s not as anti family as he thought. However he can’t bring himself to want a real relationship and Hannah is working to hard to find roots and a stable life for herself and for her daughter.

Even so, they grow closer, and then Harry’s world falls apart when his estranged father dies. Hannah gets offered a hug opportunity and struggles with finding her feet. In the end, of course, as in all romances, the two find their way to be together.

What was fun about this book was that it focused more on the people growing and changing and as a result, and part of the process, they discover each other. This is a ‘sweet’ romance, with no sexual situations. I’d definitely recommend this one.

Friday, October 16th, 2015
Book Review: Kill Box

I received this book from NetGalley.

Kill Box is a Thriller by Nichole Christoff. Today we’re starting with the description:

Hardworking Jamie Sinclair can’t wait for the weekend. She plans to be off the clock and on the road to wine country with kill boxhandsome military police officer Adam Barrett. But when a strung-out soldier takes an innocent woman hostage and forces his way into Jamie’s bedroom, everything changes. Jamie’s never seen the soldier before. But he’s no stranger to Barrett—and with one word he persuades Barrett to pack a duffel and leave Jamie in the lurch.

Jamie cannot fathom why Barrett would abandon her without explanation. But as the consequences of an unsolved crime threaten to catch up with him, a late-night phone call sends Jamie racing to Barrett’s hometown in upstate New York. In a tinderbox of shattered trust and long-buried secrets, Jamie must fight to uncover the truth about what really occurred one terrible night twenty years ago. And the secrets she discovers deep in Barrett’s past not only threaten their future together—they just might get her killed.

 

I did enjoy this book for the most part, though I stumbled over some things. First, When Barret’s buddy pulls his stunt and Barret disappears, Jamie forgives and forgets that for the most part. I’m just not sure that she would. That seems to be a significant relationship problem. It doesn’t bear a lot onto to the overall story, but it did bother me throughout. The other thing that bothered me for a long time (though the thread finally came back in) was the beginning bit. Jamie is involved in a police operation, and after, she comes home to the hostage scene described in the beginning. That initial scene seems to be important, then simply vanishes from memory. It seems to have no purpose. Eventually it came back, which was nice, but until it did, it bothered me.

I also didn’t like the resolution. The bad guy. The murderer made sense. But I had a little bit of trouble buying the conspirator and mastermind of the uncovered drug operation. That all seemed to come out of the blue and again, I just had a hard time buying it.

However, I really liked the way Christoff built the mystery and revealed the clues. I liked the various characters in the town and the difficulties between Barrett and Jamie. I also like the complications from the old murder and the town’s law enforcement. I did like Jamie as a character, and Barrett grew on me as more of his past was revealed. I could see why he didn’t open up very quickly.

I enjoyed the book. I thought it was a good read overall. The ending was a bit disappointing, but I’ll definitely pick up another book of Christoff’s.

Wednesday, October 14th, 2015
Coolios

I just got invited to be in a really awesome anthology based on another writers oh so awesome world. I can’t give details. Sorry. But it’s going to be amazing and so I’m rereading the novels starting today.

In other news, Boy of Size got the upper rack of his braces on today. All went smoothly, thank goodness. We even got there on time, despite traffic and events conspiring against us.

I’ve been working through a revision on this WIP. It’s a little bit aggravating how slow it’s going. Mostly it’s my fault because a little tweak here becomes a serious fix later. And then I have to cut things that I really liked because they no longer fit, so then I have to go back to the tweak and see if it was worth it or could be done differently . . . Sigh. Today I cut out a scene I really really liked. It doesn’t work anymore.

I’m also trying to bolster up some of the emotional depth of one of the characters. And cut the redundancy from another. It’s just depressingly slow, and that’s to some extent because I’m distracted by life. I have to stop that. And stop being online when I’m writing. I need to focus, avoid the news and too much research.

 

 

 

Tuesday, October 13th, 2015
Book Review: Wrapped in Red

Received from Netgalley.

This book is actually two novellas about Christmas, both contemporary romances. I don’t really have a lot to say about them. I found them fine, but not really all that appealing to me on an emotional level. I’ll go one at a time.

Tis the season for finding passion and rediscovering love…
wrapped
Mistletoe Mantra by Nana Malone

Returning to her Virginia hometown where her fiancé dumped her—years earlier on Christmas Eve—is making Nomi Adams croon the holiday blues. She needs to find the reclusive photographer who can advance her magazine career. However, Lincoln Porter’s on his own rescue mission this yuletide. Because during this season of love and renewal, Faith, Virginia, looks to be a place for second chances…

So to begin, the premise seemed a little forced to me. I just didn’t buy that the editor would put so much pressure on Nomi to find the photos. But okay, I can deal with that. Moving on, I thought that their romance was fine, but not particularly engaging. Things progressed in a normal manner. I did like Nomi and Lincoln, but I found the final difficulty between them artificial and manufactured rather than natural.
White Hot Holiday by Sherelle Green

A solo Caribbean vacation is college professor Sage Langley’s perfect escape from Christmas and all its merriment. But she has unexpected and thrilling company at Grayson Ellington’s luxurious vacation home: the sexy attorney himself! And her brother’s best friend—who has desired and longed for Sage for years—has fantasies and plans for a red-hot romance to chase away her winter doldrums.

This story was more fun for me. The set up was more believable. I liked Sage and Grayson, and while there wasn’t a lot of drama to the romance, it was fun read and light and quick.

Monday, October 12th, 2015
Book review: The Society Lilith Saintcrow

I received this book from NetGalley.

I enjoy reading Lilith Saintcrow. I was looking forward to The Society quite a bit and sadly found myself disappoisocietynted. It has a terrific premise, but it wasn’t executed as well as I hoped and then the big one for me . . . Well, I’ll get to that in a minute. First, the book description:

Will she be the Society’s salvation . . . or its downfall?

The black-ops government agency called Sigma broke Justin Delgado, trained his psionic talent, and turned him into a killer. Then he escaped and joined the Society, an underground resistance movement of psions determined to use their talents to bring Sigma down. Competent, cold, and cruelly efficient, he’s the best operative the Society has, a legend among the psions who fight a shadow war against an enemy that owns the courts, the press, and the police. Feared even by his own teammates, hunted by the government, and too damaged to feel anything but clinical rage, he is utterly alone—until he meets Rowan.

When Rowan Price stumbles across Delgado’s team in an abandoned house, he is assigned to make contact with her, bring her in, and keep her alive—because Rowan is one of the most powerful psychics the resistance has ever encountered. If the government gets its hands on her, she could very well mean the downfall of the resistance, because nobody, not even Rowan, is quite sure how far her talents extend.

The Society will welcome Rowan, if she can stay alive long enough to join them. Unfortunately, there’s a traitor buried in the ranks. If the Society goes down, Rowan is at risk. God alone knows what Delgado will do to keep her safe, because Rowan is fast becoming the only thing in the world he cares about . . .

I was looking forward to paranormal action and a thriller element and intrigue. I didn’t get a lot of it. The beginning was promising, with the meeting between Rowan and Justin. But the ongoing story felt like it dragged a bit and didn’t have that much action. A lot of that had to do with Rowan having to learn how to use her powers and to understand the world she’s come to live in. In the meantime, much of the interesting action happened off page.

Then we get to the romance element. It’s slow. And by slow, I don’t mean it takes awhile to build, I mean that it wort of plateaus and stops and then starts again without seeming to grow.

I wasn’t really clear on what Sigma or the Society were up to. I wanted to know more on all of that.

Even so, I was intrigued enough to want to keep reading. Until I got the end when the book just stopped. Not a cliffhanger. Just a stopping. It felt incomplete and unresolved on so many levels. I was disappointed at the end. No getting around it. I’d hoped to have a better experience.

 



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