Saturday, August 6th, 2016
Received from Netgalley.
I enjoyed Follow Me by Tiffany Snow. It’s romantic suspense with a fair bit of geekery, which made me happy. Here’s the back of the book description.
Brilliant, quirky twenty-three-year-old China Mack is totally satisfied with her carefully ordered, data-driven life. A computer prodigy who landed a coveted programming job at the cutting-edge tech company Cysnet before even graduating from MIT, China is happiest when following her routine: shower before coffee, pizza only on Mondays, bedtime at ten thirty sharp.
But then things start to get a little…unpredictable.
First Jackson Cooper—Cysnet’s rich, gorgeous, genius CEO—assigns China to a dangerous and highly classified project for a government defense contractor. Her sixteen-year-old runaway niece suddenly arrives in town, begging to move in with China. And then there’s her sexy but oddly unsettling new neighbor, Clark…
Quickly the Cysnet assignment becomes disconcerting—and then downright scary—as key staffers turn up dead. China suspects she’s being followed and isn’t sure whom she can trust. For the first time ever, she’ll have to follow her instincts, rather than logic, if she’s going to survive.
China Mack is a fabulous character. Snow made her feel not only real and interesting, but made her believable as a genius. I also liked and disliked Jackson and Clark and thought the ending was about perfect. The plot of the suspense made sense and didn’t have big holes in the logic. The only major issue that I have, and it’s my own issue, is I’m not a fan of love triangles and I have no doubt like it’s coming. Snow has planned at least one sequel with these characters and there’s no doubt that she’s set up the triangle.
As an additional note, I’m really glad that Clark wasn’t a dick (as he said). Or at least so much of one that he went through with what he was up to. That would have squicked me beyond redemption.
Friday, August 5th, 2016
Received from NetGalley.
Sins That Haunt by Lucy Farago is a romantic suspense novel. Here’s the back of the book blurb:
Civil attorney Shannon Joyce walks the line of law and order, but she learned from day one how to put up a good front—thanks to her con man father. Thirteen years ago, she left the east coast and her life of crime behind. Her high school sweetheart, Noah, was collateral damage, but some things can’t be helped. But now there’s no escape when her past comes roaring down the Strip—in the oh-so-tempting form of the man she left behind…
Special Agent Noah Monroe has Shannon exactly where he wants her—in the back of his car in handcuffs. Her grifter father has been murdered, and the FBI needs Shannon to keep one of his scams in play to bag the big bad guy who was financing him. Once again a pawn in someone’s else game, Shannon will have to trust her instincts to survive both the peril threatening her—and the passion Noah reignites…
I liked this book with some minor qualms. There’s a history between the characters and the initial meet made me wary. It seemed a little bit contrived. But then things quickly moved ahead and I was immersed. I thought the overall suspense arc was quite good and their history and backstory made a lot of sense and powerfully impacted the here and now. I do wish that Shannon, who is very smart, would move forward a little quicker in terms of Noah. The things that hold them apart otherwise are important and work well. I liked the twist at the ending–really, both twists. I did doubt her mother could drive the backhoe, but maybe that’s because I’m a ranch kid and driving a tractor isn’t that easy. Or didn’t used to be. Maybe it’s all very automated and simple now.
The way the end built up with multiple climaxes to various arcs was powerful and compelling.
Monday, August 1st, 2016
Here’s a snippet from Diamond City Magic #4:
Questions bubbled in his mind. Pointless and useless. He had no idea who’d taken him, how, or why, or where they were taking him. Had they harmed Christina? By God, but the question irritated him. He shouldn’t even care. The girl had been nothing but trouble. First, dragging Clay, him, and Riley into the middle of a turf war, and now this. He should have dumped her at the hospital or fire station. Why the hell hadn’t he? Riley. She’d want to know the girl was on her way home. When had he gone so soft that he cared what his brother’s girlfriend thought of him?
There was no good answer to that.
Sunday, July 31st, 2016
Pulling bullshit out of your ass and piling it on the page until it turns into a story. Hopefully a good one.
Wednesday, July 20th, 2016
I’ve been making an effort to walk. Basically, I’m trying to work up to 10K steps on my fitbit. I realize the number is fairly arbitrary, but given that I’m out of shape and given that I have a sedentary job, it’s a goal. On top of that, I want to get in enough shape to be able to go hiking more. I’m also dragging the kids out on the walks, too, as much as I can. The dogs usually want to quit before I do.
So anyhow, my son has been going to a summer “camp” this week–it does not involve anything resembling camping–doing underwater robotics. We have to drive about 45 minutes away, so while he’s in camp, I have been walking for awhile, and then going to Starbucks for some reading, then running a few errands, and reading some more. I’ve been walking on the OSU campus and it’s quite lovely. Lots and lots of trees, with amazing brick and stone buildings. The weather has been lovely, as well.
So far this week, I’ve hit my 10K three days in a row. Only today, I know I was stupid to do it. I have slight shin splints, and my feet hurt–my muscles need a rest. And yet . . . I don’t want to stop walking. Today I *meant* to go about 4K steps on the walk. I ended up going about 7K and then another 1K before I picked up the boy.
Tomorrow I know I shouldn’t walk much at all. Yet I don’t want to stop. I’m in the zone where I have to make myself get out and do it, and so the more days I hook together where I actually move, the more I develop the habit. So I have to convince myself to do only about 4K tomorrow. Or at least stop and sit for a bit every so often. This I also don’t want to do. I suppose it’s the better of the two choices, giving my fit and legs a chance to relax and to get some stretching in.
I’ve never been very much into exercise, except when I’m having fun. Hiking in the woods is fun. But I need to build some stamina and leg muscles to get there. I’ve begun to do so, and I don’t want to give up the ground I’ve gained.
Tuesday, July 19th, 2016
I received this book from NetGalley
The book is Hard to Handle by Raven Scott. It will be published August 30th by Kensington Books. It’s romance with some suspense thrown in.
Here’s the description:
A covert ops specialist, a cyber-surveillance expert, and an unmatched international security and recovery pro. These are the men of Fortis. When money is no object, discretion is essential, and the police are not an option, the wealthy and powerful call on this trio of former government agents with elite military training—not to mention charm and good looks…
Samuel Mackenzie has his hands full with Fortis’ latest assignment. Their client is a European real estate investor who is trying to close a multi-million dollar acquisition. But a competitor is attempting to block the deal by any means necessary, including threats and vandalism that quickly escalate to life threatening assault. For Samuel it’s all in a day’s work—except for one unexpected twist…
The mission requires protective detail for the client and his mistress, who is also his personal assistant. But the mistress is Mikayla Stone-Clement—the only woman Samuel has ever loved, and who always seems out of his reach. Yet things aren’t what they seem. Because Mikayla has a hidden agenda of her own, one that puts her directly in the crossfire. Now Samuel will have one chance to save her life…and make her his forever.
I have mixed feelings about this book. Parts of it a really liked, parts of it annoyed the heck out of me, and parts of it made me feel a little uncomfortable in a weird way that I will delve into a little bit deeper here.
So first, the good: Overall, I thought the romance was pretty good, and the suspense plot well designed and laid out (except for the bad guy because he came out of nowhere.) I thought the security stuff was believable and I thought the development of all the actions really smart.
That leads me to the bad. One thing drove me seriously nuts. That was Scott’s inclination to use a lot of book saidisms–insisted, muttered, yelled, etc., when people talked. That was okay, but I felt like they were frequently off. Like when people yelled when they really didn’t. Maybe they raised their voices a little–but yelling jarred me because it was wrong for the scene. Likewise, using insisted when there’s nothing to insist on. Like saying, I’d like a yogurt, only writing it as: I’d like a yogurt, insisted the girl. When no one is protesting that she have a yogurt. And then when one character mumbled when he really was murmuring, because mumbling means unintelligibility of the words. It drove me batty and threw me out of the story.
The next thing that drove me up the wall were the over-the-top connection between the two leads. I loved that there was a time when they forced themselves to keep their hands off each other because of emotional tension, but it annoyed me early on when they couldn’t because it seemed too much for these very controlled people. I think that was the writer’s point–that their passion for one another overcame their usual control–but I had a hard time buying it.
I was really annoyed that the actual bad guy wasn’t even mentioned until they pegged him as the bad guy. I wanted him at least mentioned far earlier.
Finally, and this last one may just be me, but one of the things that threw me out of the story was something that seemed to be missing. Many of these characters were people of color. While I am glaringly white, I do know that POC face various kinds of discrimination based on their skin color on a daily basis. There was no hint of that in this book and it struck me as odd. Or maybe the word is artificial. I thought this particularly for Kaylee, who is not only a black woman, but she works in a field dominated by men. In fact, she’s worked in two fields dominated by men. So I kept waiting for someone to be obnoxious both because of her gender and color and there was nothing.
Now, this may be the fantasy of the book–that there’s a world where POC don’t have to worry about their skin color any more than white people do. And maybe it’s the Black Lives Matter movement that makes me extra-sensitive to those elements in society right now. I’m not judging the writer or the book on this one. I’m trying to figure out if this is a reasonable thing to expect in a book or not. I don’t know. In expecting it, am I doing making demands of a text that I have no right to? I’m interested on what anybody here might say because I think it’s important to discuss and frankly, I’m interested in being corrected if I’m way off base.
All things taken together, I’d give this book a 3/5 stars.
Thursday, July 14th, 2016
Went shopping up in Portland with my mom today. It was fabulous. I’m not into a lot of clothes shopping, so of course, we weren’t doing that. We went to Penzey‘s and got fabulous spices. I love that place. After that, went to a big mall and went into a shoe store for mom, then into Chico’s for mom, into Teavana, and then lunch and out. I did end up with a pair of Alegria clogs that actually fit (Dansko’s run way too small for my ginormous surfboards I like to call feet.) So I’m really happy about that. Teavana had a ‘tea’ called Beach Bellini, and there’s no tea in it. It’s all fruit. Can be mixed with tea, but I’m thinking it will make a great drink for the fam. Going to try it out and see.
But shopping is exhausting. And I have only got 4K steps in. I need to go out and do some walking this evening.
I’ve got a post up on Imposter Syndrome at Magical Words today. Check it out.
Friday, July 8th, 2016
I went to Westercon last weekend and it was a lot of fun. Had some great panels with some terrific people and the audiences were attentive and smart and asked great questions. Pretty much a perfect storm of panels. And people came to my reading, which was on the first day and I wasn’t sure anybody would.
I got back on the fourth and zoomed out again on the fifth at 6 in the morning. Drove with my folks to CA for my mom to see a doctor. Amazingly, it’s been much cooler than normal–which is to say, I haven’t whined that much and I’ve been able to get out walking. The oaks here are amazing and the scents of the summertime dried grasses, certain weeds, dirt, and oaks just bring me back to childhood. I’ve so been enjoying that. I got to see an enormous vulture in a tree very close up. I didn’t impress him. Or her.
The only downer has been I seem to have had a bout with some food poisoning. Last night on the way home from dinner, I started getting an awful headache and nauseous, and then I got home and upchucked everything. It wasn’t long after that that I started feeling better. I’ve been able to see some people–my father-in-law, my brother and niece, and tonight I’ll get to see another niece and a nephew.
Saturday we drive back. My poor mom’s face is terribly swollen–she had a bit of skin cancer removed–and it’s given her a black eye and half her mouth is swollen. Poor thing.
I’ve been reading some. One book by a popular romantic suspense author that I think must have been written in the eighties because the male lead is an alpha asshole and the woman is sort of a door mat. I read the whole thing, but I didn’t enjoy it the way I wanted to. Now I’m reading one by Iris and Roy Johansen. It’s not really romantic, but the lead character is a lot of fun and I am enjoying that. I’ll report back on it later.
Also, Lois Bujold has a new Penric novella out. If you haven’t read the first, do. I’ve not read the second, but I plan to.
Thursday, June 30th, 2016
I’m going to be at Westercon 69 this weekend. If anybody out there plans to be there, here’s where I’ll be:
Diana Pharaoh Francis Reading
Fri Jul 1 4:00:pm – 4:30:pm
Fri Jul 1 5:00:pm – 6:00:pm
Get your goodies signed!
Cat Rambo, Diana Pharaoh Francis, James Glass
Saturday 10am Kaffeeklatsch
Sat Jul 2 10:00:am – 11:00:am
Small group discussions with authors, artists, and other interesting personalities (referred to as “hosts”). Sessions are limited to the host and a small group of attendees.
Anthony Pryor, Carol Berg, Curtis Chen, David D. Levine, Diana Pharaoh Francis, Morris Allen, Sonia Lyris
Sat Jul 2 3:00:pm – 4:00:pm
Is this science fiction, fantasy, or horror? Whatever it is, fans love it! Learn what makes paranormal romance unique from other genres and the inspiration for writing them.
Diana Pharaoh Francis, Gwen Callahan, Janet Borkowski, S. A. Bolich
Physical Intuition and the Suspension of Disbelief
Sat Jul 2 4:00:pm – 5:00:pm
Readers want to suspend their disbelief in our improbable scenarios, but one violation of their physical intuition is all it takes to lose their trust forever. How do we keep it feeling real, even when the impossible is happening?
Blythe Ayne, Devon Monk, Diana Pharaoh Francis, Lindsay Schopfer
Sat Jul 2 8:00:pm – 9:00:pm
Small group discussions with authors, artists, and other interesting personalities (referred to as “hosts”). Sessions are limited to the host and a small group of attendees.
Diana Pharaoh Francis
Fantasy In the City
Sun Jul 3 10:00:am – 11:00:am
With the rise of popularity in urban-based fantasies, so increases the complexity of storytelling. Sure, you know what’s happening in a modern world. But does including a fantastical element have its own challenges? Discuss the challenges of writing fantasy in a modern setting, and how the different choices made by authors influenced their stories.
Diana Pharaoh Francis, Jennifer Willis, Mike Kabongo, Rhiannon Held
One Man’s Villian Is Another Man’s Hero
Sun Jul 3 1:00:pm – 2:00:pm
Swirling mustaches and obvious evil plans are a thing of the past. Today’s villains and heroes are as complicated as the world we live in. Discuss with our panelists what makes the difference between villain vs hero, and how thin that line can be.
Carol Berg, Devon Monk, Diana Pharaoh Francis
Sex Scenes in Writing
Sun Jul 3 5:00:pm – 6:00:pm
Sex is a part of life, and an aspect we can use to learn many things about a character. Are they chatty in bed, or kinky, or do they prefer the lights off? All are insights that help a reader relate to the characters. But does sex ‘need’ to be in your writing? Let’s discuss what sex in writing means and whether it needs to be in your novel.
Diana Pharaoh Francis, Mike Moscoe, Rhiannon Held, Sienna Saint-Cyr
Publishing Coops: The BookView Cafe
Mon Jul 4 11:00:am – 12:00:pm
The BookView Cafe has grown from midlist writers wanting to increase their web presence to a publisher of new and back list fiction and non-fiction. With over 50 members like Ursula K. LeGuin and Vonda N. McIntrye, no one shoulders more work than they can handle.
Diana Pharaoh Francis, Sara Stamey, Shannon Page
Monday, June 27th, 2016
I’m trying to write a non-fantasy romantic suspense. Sort of a side thing for fun and relaxation. This is my current beginning. Very rough. All the same, I need to know: What do you think? Seriously, what do you think?
He was on his way home just after midnight on a Thursday night when the call came through. A disturbance at Utopia, Trinity’s new night club and restaurant. Injuries onsite, ambulances needed. Chase was only a couple miles away and tired as he was, he wasn’t in the mood to go home yet. It wasn’t as if anybody was waiting for him.
Troopers had beaten him there. Flashing emergency lights strobed across the parking lot. People stood in groups or perched on the hoods of cars, watching the action. Not that there was any action to see, as far as Chase could tell.
He parked, leaving his suit jacket in the car. He paused to avoid the ambulance that rolled through the parking lot and up to the front doors of the club side entrance. A second one turned in a few seconds later, blowing past him in a cloud of diesel.
Chase drew a tired breath and let it out. What was he doing here? He should go home and get some sleep. He had a meeting with Sloan and Rossitch at 8:30 in the morning. He grimaced at himself. Who was he kidding? Even if he went home, he’d be lucky to get three hours of sack time. He’d flip channels on the idiot box while he ate, then he’d spend an hour or two banging his head against the Shore murder. Four years and he still didn’t have the killer. Not that he was allowed to investigate it anymore, at least, not officially, anyway. He shook his head, putting his frustration aside. Things on the trafficking case were heating up. That’s what the meeting was about. Once that was cleared, he could get back to work on the murder.
Chase rubbed a hand over the stubble on his jaw, still wavering. He hadn’t been inside Utopia yet. Now was as good a time as any to check the place out. His stomach rumbled. That decided him. Maybe the kitchen was still open and he could get a burger. All his refrigerator held was beer and frozen dinners. He didn’t doubt both were better here.
“Hey, Lieutenant, what’s homicide doing here?” Jason Thomas stepped away from the woman he was interviewing and reached out a hand to Chase as he approached. He was young, maybe twenty four. He was sharp, though, and ambitious. He planned to make detective by the time he was twenty five. Probably would, too. Chase liked him, even though at thirty one he felt like the kid’s grandfather. The downfalls of working homicide. No innocence left.
“Was heading home. Heard the call and figured I’d have a look around, maybe see if they were still serving food. What’s the situation?”
Thomas shook his head. “Domestic disturbance. Husband’s drunk and shooting pool, the wife is a cocktail waitress. He decides she’s flirting with the customers and goes after her with a pool cue. The manager yanks her out of the way before he can crush his wife’s skull, though the manager took a hard hit to her shoulder. The husband gets hotter and starts throwing punches. Customers and the bouncers take him down. Hard. He’s got a busted nose and maybe a broken wing.
Chase nodded without any sympathy for the bastard. He got what he deserved, attacking his fucking wife. He was probably lucky to have her.
“Good work, Thomas. I’ll leave you to it,” he said. The Trooper grinned at the praise. God, had he ever been that young?
He left Thomas to get statements and wandered up toward the club entrance. Tall pillows held up a broad overhang. Beneath danced a fountain. Not too long ago, the place had been a car dealership. The guy who owned it decided to divorce his wife, probably trader her in a newer model. It had been ugly. Her father owned the land the dealership was on and had kicked the husband off the property. The building sat vacant for awhile before someone had bought it to turn into a restaurant and club. From the looks of it, they’d done a good job. Word was that the food was good, too.
The old showroom was now the restaurant, with the bar housed in the repair bays. The exterior had been covered in a rock façade, with lush trees and flowers sending up a sweet, rich fragrance. White firefly lights wrapped the front pillars, outlined the windows, and layered the roof in a pattern like fish scales. A six foot iron fence with spikes along the top surrounded the outside the rollup bay doors like a large, flagstone-paved corral. Within was a covered stage, picnic tables, a dance area, and a barbecue pit. The stage was dark and the pit was cold tonight. Maybe it was a weekend thing.
The June night was warm and one of the bay doors had been rolled up. Inside, Chase could see pool tables and red-tile floors. Customers still shot balls, uninterested in the drama outside.
The scent of cooking meet wafted out to meet him as he drew close to the entrance. His gaze continued to rove over the spectacle outside, taking in the faces and other details.
Lightning thrust through the center of his chest. What the hell was she doing here?
Chase stopped dead, hard gaze locked on her. Four years since her mother’s murder, three and a half since he’d last seen her. Then she’d been pinched and washed out, her beauty hidden under the drab blanket of hard grief. Now–
She was a wet dream walking. Sunstreaked dark hair framed her face. Tanned skin smoothed over high cheekbones, a strong nose, and narrow chin. His gaze ran greedily over her. Her curves had firmed and her body was lithe and lean except for her breasts. They rode high and full beneath her vest and shirt. The last few years had turned tempered her. She held herself with assurance and confidence, like she didn’t take shit. His chest tightened as her wide, full mouth broke into a smile as she looked up at the paramedic. What the fuck? Was she hurt?
Chase didn’t think. His legs started moving before he knew what he wanted to do. He thrust through the rubberneckers, making a beeline for her.
Behind him, someone complained in protest, but Chase didn’t slow down. He couldn’t have stopped if he’d wanted to.