Thursday, April 27th, 2017
I’ve been doing some reading off Netgalley recently. I’ve not been getting my reviews up because I’ve been reading. So here’s a bit of a catchup.
The Graves by Pamela Wechsler (May 2 release)
Back cover copy:
Abby Endicott, the chief of the District Attorney’s homicide unit in Boston, returns in the heart-racing follow-up to Mission Hill. Things are looking good for Abby: she’s top pick to be the next District Attorney, and her musician boyfriend Ty has moved in, despite her upper crust family’s objections. But a serial killer is on the loose, and with two college-aged girls dead and another missing, time is running out. When the sons of a prominent government official are linked to the murders, Abby pushes back, stopping at nothing to find justice for the girls. This time, the killer could be right under her nose, and she may be the next victim.
In The Graves, former prosecutor turned television writer Pamela Wechsler delivers a tense and enthralling Boston-set thriller about the intersection of power, privilege, and justice.
I like romantic suspense and serial killer mysteries, and this looked right up my alley. It’s told in present tense, which can be offputting for some readers. Mostly it worked for me, making the tension more immediate, and discovering events as Abby does.
I waffled on whether or I liked Abby or not. She’s smart, but often seemed shallow. A lot is made out of her figuring out how to live without money since she’s been cut off from her parents’ money for dating a man they don’t like. There were times I got bored and annoyed with that, when I just wanted to tell her to suck it up. She’s had to give up luxuries, but she’s doing just fine. It seemed whiny. At the same time, her shopping addiction seems to mask a deeper pain. I think. I was never quite sure.
Abby’s also cutthroat, which she has to be in her line of work. That can be off-putting too, but in the case of Cassandra and Max, I was okay with that.
The investigation and courtroom parts of the novel were very well done. That’s what really wins in this book. It’s sharp and fastpaced and the killer isn’t terribly obvious, plus you have a stirring in of political maneuvering that adds depth.
The major thing I wished for in reading this book was more of Abby’s internal life. I wanted to like her more. I wanted to care more about her choices in life. As it is, she left me a little cold. On the other hand, I’m hooked enough to want to read the next volume in the series whenever it comes out.
Owning It by Leah Marie Brown (May 2 release)
Back cover copy:
The chance of a lifetime . . . or just another bad decision?
Delaney Lavender Brooks needs to grow up. At least, according to her parents. After getting evicted from her apartment and wrecking her car, Laney is almost ready to trade in her paintbrushes and surrender to a more sensible 9-to-5 existence. Almost. Until she’s awarded an internship at a prestigious art gallery in Paris. What else can the free-spirited artist do but follow her dreams? Even if her latest attempt at chasing rainbows might cost her a real future . . .
Once in the city of lights, Laney is almost undone by the glaring truth: maybe she isn’t sophisticated or talented enough to make it as an artist—or an independent woman, for that matter. And when she’s hotly pursued by a seductive Frenchman, she has to wonder if she’s about to be a fool for love, too. Soon Laney’s greatest challenge is not proving herself to her parents, but having the courage to live the life—and love—of her dreams . . .
I know I’ve read Finding It, another in this series, but for the life of me, I can’t find my review. But anyhow . . .
This is a really breezy romance. Laney is a really fun character and I enjoyed her discovery of Paris and her romance with Gabriel. Laney’s quirky and not entirely put together. She’s often awkward, and she is genuine and kind. I came to care about her quickly. I like Gabriel as well, though for me, he was a little bit flat. Or rather, it felt like I didn’t get to know him very well. The book is far more about Laney’s journey and her maturing.
There are only two minor issues I had with the book. The first is that the slang gets a little bit much for me. I get a little bit overloaded. Not a big deal, though. The second is that I’d have liked there to be a little bit more to the ending. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I was looking for just a little bit more personal exploration.
All that said, Owning It was a whole lot of fun. It’s funny and sweet and joyful.
Romancing the Rogue by Erica Ridley (now available)
Back cover copy:
When the new earl inherits, poor relation Miss Rebecca Bond must wed immediately or be out on her ear. The only man she’s ever loved is summoned to hear the will—but he already rejected her so soundly that they haven’t spoken in years. Yet who better than a rakish Viscount to teach her how to snare a gentleman who appreciates her charms?
Daniel Goodenham, Lord North-Barrows, regrets nothing more than the lost friendship with the one woman who treated him like a man, not a title. Fate has given him the perfect pretext to win her forgiveness—even if it means having to matchmake her to someone else. But now that she’s back in his life, he’ll do anything to convince her to choose him instead…
I should start by saying that I haven’t read an Erica Ridley book that I don’t like, and this one’s no exception. It’s an unusual setup and it took a little bit for me to buy the idea that Rebecca had essentially lived like a ghost in the mansion for so many years. Ridley made it believable, though. I thoroughly liked Rebecca. She has a sense of humor, talent, brains, and strength. She’s in a crap position and she knows it, but she keeps fighting for better.
I didn’t like Daniel much at first, mostly because he’d been an ass before the book started and I was irritated with him before I ever met him. He owned it, though, and by the end, he’s redeemed himself. He’s realized what he lost–and it’s not only Rebecca.
Sunday, April 9th, 2017
Maybe not important things, but things nonetheless. I’ve done some seed sprouting and now need to do some transplanting. I’ve also been doing some digging in the dirt, though there’s been a lot of rain. I’ve also been petting dogs and scratching tummies and cleaning up dog pee because all of a sudden, one of them has decided to pee on the rug. I have no idea why. It’s frustrating. The rug is a small area rug and I’m wanting to clean the whole thing and not sure how. I think I’m going to need to wait til the weather warms and I can do it outside with a hose.
I’ve been in an ice cream sort of mood these days. Not sure why. And steak. I have not had any steak, but I’ve been craving it. Weird. My folks come tomorrow. They stay up near us for about five or six months of the year. I’m excited. Hopefully their trip is smooth.
I am planning on cleaning the kitchen and downstairs tomorrow. Things I’ve been avoiding. I’m at least going to do some of it. Been also wanting to get out and start dealing with weeds. They’ve been having a whole lot of fun growing like, well, you know. I’m planning on spraying a whole lot of vinegar, attack with a hoe, and then get some preemergent herbicide down to see if I can get it somewhat under control. And I’ve got to get out and put the hazelnut hulls down in my strawberries and get some fertilizer down, too.
My red dragon contorted hazelnut is leafing out. I’m really pleased about that because it didn’t seem all that happy in the fall. My monkey puzzle tree is doing quite well also. I’ve got a lot of perennials putting on a show also. I’m really pleased about that. My goal has been to pretty much cover all my flower beds in foliage of some kind. I’m still nowhere close, but I’m making the effort.
Writing is going pretty well, though I’m having trouble with getting my days scheduled. Eventually I will . . . just in time for summer vacation. Same ole same ole. Found out that had I stuck it out to see the new administration in my old job, I would not have seen an improvement. Morale is lower than ever, and the leadership, I’m told, is actually worse than previously. I do find myself missing teaching, though. I’d really like to do more of that. I just have to figure out how. I know one thing: Once the boy has his license, the structure of my days will change for the better. Though I’ll have to make sure that I get out and interact with people or I’ll become a crazy hermit. Not a good thing.
Puppy dogs scared us. They had some sort of fungal infection that required shots and three weeks of antibiotic/antifungal pills. They’re still taking those. But they are no longer throwing up or having diarrhea, which is a huge win. They did enjoy the week of rice and chicken they got to eat for their meals. They thought that was a fine menu plan and we should stick with it forever.
A big wind storm came through and took down a lot of trees around. We lost some smaller limbs, but nothing serious. Hate to see trees go down, especially the old ones. Sucks.
Wednesday, March 29th, 2017
Whisper of Shadows is only $1.99.
I’m also working on a client’s manuscript. I also went over the copy edits of the new Horngate story that will be coming out in Urban Enemies sometime this summer (also in the book Jim Butcher, Seanan McGuire, Kevin Hearne, Faith Hunter and many more). I haven’t had a chance to read everybody else’s story, but I’m sure looking forward to it.
I’ve been getting out walking when I can, with the weather. I’ve been not feeling all that well, and so I’ve decided to start on probiotics again and see how it goes. I’ve also given up diet soda again. See, I gave it up for a long time, then started back sometime recently because I like Diet Sprite when my stomach gets upset. So I got sick at some point, had some Diet sprite, and then kept drinking Diet Coke and Diet Dr. Pepper for the caffeine. I tried to go off the other day and got terribly sick with a headache, terrible nausea, and my temperature dropped to weirdly low. It might be the aspartame. Anyhow, I’m hoping the probiotics help.
I’ve been doing some reading, some of it I like. Some less so. I need to write up a couple reviews.
I’m finding Trial and Error really amusing.
I’m also getting mugged by several book ideas. That’s a good thing, but finding time to write! I’ve got so much work to do!
Sunday, March 19th, 2017
Shades of Memory is done! I sent it to my editor and now I await her wisdom. I’m proud of this book. It’s super twisty and cool and I’m so hopeful that I’m not being delusional and that it’s as good as I think.
This week I had visitors from Montana and Washington. It was lovely to visit with both and today, Megan and I went to the Grimm sale (last day) and mostly everything was gone, but we got a few things, though not sure anything was noticeable in the show. But it was cool, all the same. I should have gone up a lot sooner, but today at least everything was 75% off. So there’s that. Ended up with some apothecary jars, a cool metal drawer that was once used for type, it looks like. Don’t know if we’ll ever be able to see it in an episode. I also got this plaque for a doctor with an award for studying nocturnal exertions, which I thought was funny. Other than that, not much.
So it was a lovely weekend, and tomorrow I get back to work and that will be a good thing.
Thursday, March 16th, 2017
First this announcement. Path of Fate has been included in a Humble Bundle with some amazing company. Octavia Butler, Kate Eliot, Elizabeth Hand, Robin McKinley, among others. It’s an amazing bundle and you should definitely have a look.
Shades of Memory is the name of the fourth Diamond City Magic Book. Here’s a snippet in honor of the fact that the revision is nearly done:
“How do we do this?” Price asked, doubt threading his voice.
“A lot of talents work together to make a single spell,” I said again, trying to be reassuring.
“Don’t they usually practice together for years, too?”
“You said you’ve done this before.”
“Sort of. I’ve done it where one of us laid down a spell and the other one laid another on top. If done right, it’s supposed to work.”
“Did you do it right?”
“The second time.”
“And the first?”
I made a face. “A sort of spectacular failure.”
“Define sort of spectacular.”
“Some pretty fireworks. A broken leg. Maybe a small concussion.”
Price sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. “By fireworks, I trust you mean you lit half the city on fire. Dare I ask what you were trying to do?”
“So Robbie had this obnoxious girlfriend,” I began.
“Oh God. This cannot end well,” Price said.
“I already told you that.”
“But now I realize how much worse it’s going to be than I thought. Anything that beings with, So Robbie had this obnoxious girlfriend, must by definition
always end in the worst possible way.”
“I don’t know. Everybody survived.”
Price rubbed his eyes like they wanted to pop out.“Why don’t we move on to getting this blizzard started.”
“I apologize. I shouldn’t have.”
I shrugged. “Suit yourself.”
“But let’s make this turn out better than it did with Robbie, shall we? You don’t really need another concussion.”
“What makes you think I was the one who ended up with a concussion?”
“Experience and your track record. Am I wrong? Don’t tell me you broke your leg and your head.”
“Why don’t we move on to getting this blizzard started?” I said.
“You go first,” I said. “I’ll jump on top.”
He slid a sideways glance at me. “Out here? In the cold? You could get some serious frostbite.”
I hit him on the shoulder. “Behave yourself.”
“You’re the one who wants to jump on top. Not that I’m complaining. I’m easy. I’d go for on top, behind, underneath–”
“Can you just get to work?” I asked, jabbing him with my elbow as inappropriate tingles started up in places they had no business being at the moment.
And that’s all for now, folks!
Sunday, March 12th, 2017
Here’s the news. The title for the fourth Diamond City Magic book is *drumroll* Shades of Memory. It’s really a perfect title and I’m so pleased to have actually worked out a title. It’s been hard to figure out.
In this book, Riley is back with her family–including her dad–Price and Touray and Arnow and a whole lot of trouble. A Tyet war explodes in Diamond City and there’s a lot of intrigue, double-crossing, and surprises. You’re going to love it. I’ll be posting snippets soon.
In the meantime, I’m in tax-hell. Plus it’s been warm enough to work in the yard, but still too soggy. So I can’t get anything done that I want to. Sigh. I did get some peas in a couple weeks ago and they are coming up. At least some of them are. So that’s a good thing. I started seeds in the house but need to get them transplanted into larger containers.
Been doing a little bit of reading, but having a hard time getting to the end of anything. Also doing some knitting. Trying to make the girlie a cool poncho and make some socks. Wanted to go to the Grimm warehouse sale (of all the props and stuff) but won’t make it til next weekend maybe. Did get out in the sunshine a little bit. More rain coming in the next oh, ten days at least. For all those ten days. It’s a super wet winter.
Saturday, February 25th, 2017
I did that. Ran away from home and to the Rainforest Writers Village where I got less work done than I wanted, but I did finish the fourth Diamond City Magic book (Yay!!!) and did some work on the second Mission Magic book. I also got to meet a lot of people I didn’t know, and spend time with others I do, and it was a good time. Patrick Swenson is so amazing for organizing and running this. He’s just fabulous.
I came back to aid the husband who had had his wisdom teeth out right before I left and developed dry sockets, which were very bad. Painful bad. He’s improved, but is still having some pain. In other news, the girlie is quickly becoming a teenager and I’m quickly losing my mind. My stress level is up and I’ve got a raging headache at this moment. I’ve got to seriously figure out some way to get through these next five years or so. Ten? Shit.
I need to learn to meditate. And maybe yoga. And exercise myself into the ground. This might get me through the hateful hormones.
Now I’m watching this very odd movie that is alternately bizarre and funny. I’m very amused. It’s called Mr. Right with Anna Kendrick and Sam Rockwell. Tim Roth has always been a good actor, but in this, he’s awesome. He does southern accent like nobody’s business. Plus he’s a really a fabulous actor.
Today was lovely sunny. Tomorrow the rain returns. Damn. I was looking forward to another walk in the sun with the dogs tomorrow. Maybe it will be a rainy walk. Or I’ll do some reading. I’ve been managing to enjoy some lately. Hoping for more.
Monday, February 13th, 2017
Plot is necessary for novels. This seems like a no-brainer. It’s the causal sequence of events in a book: This happened because this happened because this happened and so on. Events happen, problems, conflicts, and everything escalates until there’s a final conflict and resolution. Usually there is at least one secondary plotline, and often more. After all, most people have more than one thing going on in their lives.
Here’s the trouble, at least for me: I often have trouble developing the plot in advance. More often, my brain wants to see what happens as I go along. In some respects, I think this is because I’m out to entertain myself with my stories. I don’t want to know what happens in advance any more than my readers do. I want to discover as I go. I’ve a friend who calls the first draft the “discovery draft.”
The trouble with not knowing the plot is that you make a lot of wrong turns and go off to random spots, find hidden trails, and sometimes–even often–find treasures you never knew you were looking for. That makes writing exciting. It also makes it stressful. You always wonder where you might end up. Will the book make sense? Will it become a well-woven whole or will it be a mess of spaghetti dripping over the edge of the plate?
I would like to work with a plot outline. I’ve tried a lot of different methods. I used to be able to establish the major plot points that I wanted to hit on and then I could navigate toward those points, weaving in the secondary plot lines as I went. But my brain refuses to do that much anymore. I’ve been working on tricking myself and forcing out a plot outline. And of course, it always changes and is never correct. In fact I don’t really expect it to be, which ought to sound bizarre–I mean why do it at all? But having a sense of the path does help. It frees my mind to play a little bit. Knowing that, I don’t know why I can’t just write down a possible plot direction. I’m such a weird contradictory mess in that regard. A plot outline frees me, but writing it feels like I’m fixing it permanently in place and my brain rebels.
In order to make myself do it, I focus on projects that I’m not planning to write right away. That takes the pressure off getting it done to try to get it written. It lets me play with the story in my head for awhile, and lets me be goofy with the possibilities. That last often gets me to where I want to be–an original plot line. I get acquainted with my characters, developing who they are until they feel real to me and have a voice and I know what they would and wouldn’t do, which of course leads to more adventures.
I wish the process didn’t have to be so messy, but it is and I just have to suck it up. So this is me, sucking it up. *dives back into the mess*
(crossposted from the BVC blog)
Friday, February 10th, 2017
Book provided by NetGalley
Dark, Witch, and Creamy is a fun little contemporary fantasy with the beginnings of romance in it. Here’s the back of the cover blurb:
A witch, a kitty and dark chocolate magic…
Caitlyn is used to being the ugly duckling in her glamorous showbiz family… until the day she learns that she was adopted as an abandoned baby. Now, her search for answers takes her to the tiny English village of Tillyhenge where a man has been murdered by witchcraft – and where a mysterious shop selling enchanted chocolates is home to the “local witch”…
Soon Caitlyn finds herself fending off a toothless old vampire, rescuing an adorable kitten and meeting handsome aristocrat Lord James Fitzroy… not to mention discovering that she herself might have magical blood in her veins!
When she’s dragged into the murder investigation and realises that dark magic is involved, Caitlyn is forced to choose. Can she embrace her witchy powers in time to solve the mystery and save those she loves?
I enjoyed this book. It’s sort of on the cozy side of the mystery continuum, with fun and colorful characters and of course, chocolate. Lots of chocolate. I enjoyed Caitlyn and Widow Mags quite a bit, though I wish a little more about Caitlyn’s background had come to light. I also had some questions about Viktor and I hope those get answered in the future. I thought the magic elements were charming. My major complaint about the book is that while the bad guy is identified, the story seems a little unfinished (trying not to spoil it here). There is another book in the series that I think I’ll probably pick up. All in all, the book is fun and worth reading.
4 out of 5 stars
Wednesday, February 8th, 2017
I obtained this book through NetGalley.
I really wanted to like this Combatting Fear by Sandy Vaile. The description pulled me in and I thought it was going to be a fun romantic suspense. Plus it’s set in Australia, which was a big attraction to me (though there were no spiders in this book, which I found surprising. Or venomous snakes.) Let’s start with the back cover copy:
How far would you go to save a child that wasn’t yours?
Mild-mannered kindergarten teacher Neve Botticelli leads a double life. Thanks to a childhood tragedy and her paranoid father, she’s a trained warrior with extreme survival skills who lives off the grid.
When self-made billionaire Micah Kincaid storms into town in search of his son, Rowan, he’s pushy, entitled, and stands for everything she despises. Micah can’t believe a kindergarten teacher is barring the way to him getting crucial information or even just a glimpse of the boy his cheating ex kidnapped. They share only one thing in common: either will do anything to protect the four-year-old, who they soon discover is being held for ransom by an outlaw motorcycle gang.
But as they work together to get Rowan back, they start to see beyond each other’s masks. Could falling in love be even more dangerous than hunting down deadly criminals?
The writing of the book is really good, and the end relationship stuff was well done. Plus there were a lot of elements in the book that worked well. The moments between Tony and Neve especially. The descriptions were evocative and made me feel like I was there. Where I ran into difficulties was with 1) the relationship development, and 2) uneven/contradictory character development.
I’m going to start with the second issue first. Both Neve and Micah were engaging and likeable. But they were also inconsistent and constantly waffled on issues for no good reason. There were no real triggers for much of their–but what if? thoughts. I got annoyed with both of them. Vaile justified their qualms and fears with a solid foundation. I got why Neve was suspicious of Micah and why he’d doubt her–at least at first. But then it kept feeling artificial as they got to know each other and still had the very same doubts without any real trigger for them.
Then Neve is billed as leading a double life. Not really. I was disappointed in that. And that she’s a trained warrior. It didn’t really come across. She’s weepy and nervous and generally sort of passive. And then she’ll have these sudden moments of warrior action and thinking, and then go back to the other. It’s aggravating. The warrior stuff comes out somewhat in the end, but still wasn’t all that warrior-like. I felt a little bit like there’d been a bait and switch.
The relationship development was also odd. Their attraction came at odd times and sort of out of the blue. The final development was really well done, but the development just didn’t feel organic or natural.
In the end, I felt the book was okay, but I didn’t come away feeling satisfied.
2 out of 5 stars.