Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Spiritwalker Trilogy by Kate Elliott

I lick up books for lunch, slurp them for supper, and dine on them for dessert. I go through books so quickly that even I have a hard time keeping up with what book I'm reading. It's a rare book that keeps me reading for more than two days. I just finished a trilogy that kept me reading for more than a couple of days.

I cannot say enough good things about this trilogy. It was a Steampunk fantasy-loving feminist's dream. It also helped that one of the main characters shares my name!

It had romance to please my sappy romantic heart. The romance was not an overwhelming part of the series, but enough to satisfy. There were two remarkable things. One of the cultures in the book allowed women to have TWO husbands. The women in the novels also were able to have sexual assignations without anyone in the book calling them sluts. At the same time, the women in the novels were mostly without the right to own property.

I loved the Steampunk aspect, of course! Trolls were portrayed in a way that is very different from the way they have been in any other book I've read. I have always thought of them as being huge, hulking creatures with little intelligence. They were learned, brilliant beings who were scientists and lawyers. The author described them as something I imagine being a cross between a velociraptor and a giant bird. They conveyed themselves by way of airships and experimented with black powder.

There were political undercurrents that jive with my current political leanings. In addition to the main plot, there was political fomentation going on. There were pamphlets printed and speeches given on the corner, complete with hecklers who were easily dismissed by the female orator. Women demanded the same rights as the men. I loved watching the progress of the "radicals" and their ideals.

This is the third in the Spiritwalker Trilogy, so if you're interested in reading, start with Cold Fire, the first in the series. If you're a feminist, a Steampunk lover, a romantic, or a fantasy lover, this is the trilogy for you!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Wisdom of the House of Night Oracle Cards

I received a copy of the Wisdom of the House of Night Oracle Cards for review last week. They were created by P.C. Cast, one of the authors of the House of Night series, and Colette Baron-Reid, an author of several books about Tarot and oracle cards. There are 50 cards included, and a guide book. 
My first reaction was WOW! These are some gorgeous oracle cards. They have silver edging, and the illustration blew me away. One of the subtle things they did that I love was that the House of Night symbol was present somewhere on every card. 
The guidebook is 127 pages long. It contains a short story about the Oracle of Nyx, the purpose of the cards, some examples of ways to read the cards, and an interpretation of each card. For the cards, there is a short message from Nyx, then a longer explanation of the card and some words of wisdom about the subject on the card. 
Overall, this is a fantastic item, and worth the price tag! It's not only a fun way to work through your problems, it's also a beautiful collectible for a fan. I recommend these to both fans of Tarot/oracle cards and fans of the House of Night series.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Stuff Bea Likes #24: Thorlos Socks

This is a series from my separate blog, Stuff Bea Likes. I'm trying to simplify my life, and that includes my blogs! If you want to see any of my other entries(which include such awesomeness as Leonard Nimoy, Wil Wheaton, and 3 Musketeers Truffle bars), please head to Stuff Bea Likes.

I received a pair of Thorlo socks a couple of years ago through someone else's blog giveaway. I don't remember which blog, unfortunately! I am not a runner, so I didn't think much about them or wear them often. They were also a bright orange, and it's not a color I wear often.

Fast forward to a couple of months ago. Due to an excess of driving on a road trip in poor shoes, I developed plantar fasciitis. It's pretty painful, and it's the worst in the morning. It comes with a lot of heel pain, and there aren't any quick fixes. I've tried a lot of them. I've iced it, I've worn shoes nearly around the clock. It's hard for a barefoot oriented type person such as myself to wear shoes all. the. time. I've tried a couple of products meant to pad the heel. I've worn a night splint to keep it flexed during the night. I've gotten a measure of relief from these methods combined, but it wasn't until I put these puppies on that I was truly happy with the way my feet felt!

The padding in the heel is marvelous! It provided more support and cushion than any of the other products I've purchased. I sometimes end the day with residual heel pain, but not the day that I wore my Thorlos. I ended up wearing them two days in a row just to keep myself pain-free.

I bet they're awesome for runners, too! I don't think I'm going to take it up as a past-time in order to find out, though.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Guest Post by Jaz Primo!

Paranormal Fiction is Out of This World!

Hi, everyone! I'm Jaz Primo, author of the urban fantasy Sunset Vampire Series, and I'm proud to be with you today to discuss a topic near and dear to my heart: Paranormal Literature. The paranormal genre has become a mainstay in today's popular literature, and has exploded into a multi-million dollar industry in less than a generation. The paranormal segment of literature is among the fastest-growing genres in the world today. In fact, the genre has grown so large that it's no longer merely relegated to the sole label of "paranormal." In recent years, paranormal elements are bleeding ubiquitously into the romance, urban fantasy, young adult, and even science fiction genres with wanton abandon. But what is the essence of paranormal literature that has launched into the success that is has today? Let's examine this further...

The dictionary loosely defines paranormal as phenomenon "unable to be explained by science and therefore mysterious." The umbrella of elements that fit neatly underneath the canopy of paranormal are numerous. In recent years, a host of paranormal creatures are once-again abound in modern literature, including vampires, all manner of were-creatures and shape shifters, ghosts and revenants, angels and demons, fairies and fae, humans with psi-abilities, aliens, and undead creatures such as zombies. And yet, that merely touches the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Human folklore from around the world is replete with references to other-worldly and under-worldly beings and entities, thereby creating a wealth of creative sources for aspiring authors to draw from. One question remains: Why does it seem that paranormal literature is so popular all of the sudden?

As previously noted, human history is riddled with folktales, stories, and parables that include references to paranormal creatures and elements. People are inherently drawn to mysterious stories, and in the past, such references were used to help explain the functioning of the universe around them or to gain clearer insight into the human condition. One only has to look back to the Greek and Roman cultures, or Native American tribal histories, to see how strongly paranormal beings or stories have influenced or shaped the development of those societies. Granted, we have no way of knowing if ancient peoples fully believed in such gods and creatures, but it is apparent to archaeologists and sociologists that those cultures were greatly influenced by them. Today, though were are deemed far more technologically advanced in explaining the nature of the universe around us, people are still drawn to the mystique and intrigue surrounding paranormal entities and the creative stories surrounding them. While the exact catalyst for a renewed interest in all things paranormal is difficult to determine with precision, it is worth venturing that both film and television should receive some of the credit in capitalizing on an initial societal interest, and subsequently growing that following using visually-captivating creations via the latest technological advancements in visual and auditory special effects.

And yet, special effects and entertainment industry executives aside, no matter the mechanisms for feeding people's hungry paranormal appetites, the truth remains that compelling prose by equally-captivated writers and authors is at the root of paranormal's recent success. Without sound story and character development, people's minds would not be tempted to continue delving into such mysterious realms. As the author of vampire-related paranormal and urban fantasy storylines, I can only hope that readers will continue to be smitten with all things paranormal!

I hope that you have enjoyed our brief discussion of the paranormal genre. And hopefully you will appreciate the review of my debut novel, Sunrise at Sunset, on this blog and consider reading my Sunset Vampire Series. The first novel, Sunrise at Sunset, was published in October 2010, and the second novel, A Bloody London Sunset, was published in May of this year. A third installment, Summit at Sunset, is being released this November. All novels are available in both trade paperback and multiple eBook formats from major retailers including as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, and Apple iBookstore. My sincere thanks to Beatrice for her review and for the opportunity to appear on My Kingdom for a Book. And, of course, many thanks for her support of the Romancing Your Dark Side Paranormal Blog Tour that I'm currently participating in with six other wonderful authors.

Before I go, here's the teaser for Sunrise at Sunset:
When is a bloodthirsty predator the best protection against a psychotic killer?
When the predator is both a vampire...and the woman you love.

“We vampires are focused and tend to shape our own realities.”
My name is Katrina Rawlings, and I am a vampire. I declare that with neither pride nor ego. I am simply nature’s most dangerous predator. On occasion, it’s a very valuable quality. It helped me protect Caleb Taylor one day when he was very young. But that single, traumatic day is behind him now; wiped from his memory, or so I hope.
Caleb has finally matured into a rather striking young man, and believe me, I like what I see. I’ll readily admit that there are issues for us to confront and overcome, though a sense of mutual commitment isn’t one of them. I’m feeling hopeful for our future together, in fact. But an adversary from my past has returned to haunt me, and she’s trying to get back at me through Caleb. That was her first...and last...mistake. I’ll protect my Caleb at all costs, and I’ll make her regret the day she was born.
So, I suppose that I’m not just a vampire. I’m about to become someone’s worst nightmare!

You can also find or follow me at the following locations!
Facebook:!/pages/The-Sunset-Vampire-Series/223514840998333 Twitter:   @jazprimo

Monday, September 19, 2011

Promise by Kristie Cook plus Giveaway!

I am part of the Romancing Your Dark Side Tour, and today I am reviewing Kristie Cook's first novel in the Soul Saver series, Promise! I'm also giving away an e-copy of this book, and I'll include instructions on entering the giveaway at the end of my review.

Alexis has moved many times during her childhood because of her special abilities. Her mother refuses to tell her exactly what she is, but she is not human. She is able to heal faster than normal, and when she's angry, she's got enough strength to knock a nasty ex-boyfriend across the room with one punch.

She and her mother Sophia move to Florida where Alexis is already enrolled in college. On her first day of class, she literally runs into Tristan. She has a knack for knowing who is good and who is evil, and Tristan screams good guy to her. They begin getting to know one another, despite the misgivings of Alexis's mother. As time goes on, her mother is forced to start answering some of the big questions that Alexis has about who and what she is.

I'm not sure what I expected of this book, but I was blown out of the water! I really loved it. I started out feeling like it was more a novel that belonged in the Young Adult genre. The more I read, the more I felt like it was for grown-ups, too.

The romance was perfect for me. It moved slowly with the those moments that make your heart(and other parts) tingle! I'll be honest, there was a little bit of a wet panty factor going on. There wasn't a lot of profanity. It's not something I usually notice the presence or absence of, but one of the characters said "son of a witch!" a lot, and that made me chuckle a little. No one I've ever known has used that particular phrase when they were trying to avoid cursing. Toward the end, the f* bomb got dropped a few times, and that startled me.

I got the feeling that the author was a Christian. It doesn't bother me--I've read multiple Inspirational fiction novels, and even some paranormal that include characters who claim Christianity as their religion. I've also read some overly preachy sci-fi. I did not at all feel like this author was preaching at me, trying to convince me that Christianity was right. It was an undertone in the book instead of being an overtone.

The writing got better as I got farther into the book. There were some times at the beginning that I noticed some places where I would have written a sentence or two differently. The story pulled me in quickly enough that I quit noticing any places where editing might have been needed.

Overall, I highly recommend this book! I liked the characters, the story was strong, and the writing was strong as well. If you like the Sookie Stackhouse novels, Jessica Anderson's Skykeepers novels, and the Anita Blake novels, you will most likely enjoy this novel. It's not really like any of those books--it's a twist I haven't really read in any novels before.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering 9/11/2001

I have not watched any news coverage about the attacks on September 11, 2001 since that day. I've rarely talked about my memories with anyone. I don't want to follow the crowd of people who are talking about their experiences, but it seems like it is time.

I was late to work at the small private college where I worked that morning. My brother had been sick and was home from school. I don't think he had anything to do with my tardiness, but I don't remember.

I listened to the radio during my drive and heard the announcers say that a plane had flown into the first of the Twin Towers. My first thought was that it was a joke! It was at the same time the cruelest joke I could imagine.

I reached my office still very disbelieving. It was much quieter than normal. I found one of the professors at a TV, and then I believed. They were showing the smoke, the collapse of the towers. The people walking out of the cloud of dust from the Twin Towers' collapse. The worst was the people choosing to jump from the top of the Towers and die as opposed to waiting for the buildings' collapse.

We watched hours of coverage that day. They replayed the same scenes over and over. There was a girl there whose father worked in the Twin Towers. She was beside herself with worry over his safety. I knew nobody in New York City, no one who worked in the Towers, and I watched with numb detachment. I don't remember if I cried or not.

It didn't stop with the Twin Towers, either. We heard about the Pentagon being hit and the plane that was bound for Washington, D.C.

The stories were, and still are heartbreaking. I am proud beyond measure of the Fire Department and Police Officers in New York City. They heroism, their bravery exemplifies what a Fire Fighter or Police Officer should be. They are among the noble professions. Those men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice that day are among the saints, I truly believe. There is no more tragically magnificent way to die than to die saving the life of another.

I am a child of the cold war, but I remember nothing of it. The first tragedy I remember is the explosion of the Challenger. I remember the Oklahoma City Bombing vividly. After 9/11 happened, a bombing seemed so much less terrifying than using airplanes filled with innocents to commit terrorism. It was also terrifying simply not to know who had committed these crimes against the American people for so long, even though there were suspicions.

My world has always been safe. September 11th changed that.

Friday, September 9, 2011

A Grief Examined

Where there is great love, there is also great sorrow.

I am one of those people who has a great capacity to love others. I have found so very many wonderful people in the world! I consider myself very lucky and I would never trade my friends for anything in the world. I would even dare to say that my friends are more awesome than your friends! Just kidding. I hope that you have friends as generous, caring, and reliable as mine.

At the same time, it hurts to have so many wonderful friends. It hurts to live most of the way across the country from my friends. I miss my California friends all the time. I wonder how their school years are going and if my little gang is getting together at Canter's diner to have lunch or dinner without me. Just being friends on Facebook isn't enough. I want to be close enough to go out to dinner with them, too.

It also hurts when they die. I had a dear friend from California pass away over the weekend. She was smart and funny. She was generous with her heart and her home. She was everything you could want in a friend. She was diagnosed with cancer about a week before she died. If cancer is the thing that's going to get you, it's the best way to go--right away before the chemo, surgery, and pain can eat away at your joy in life. At the same time, she deserved the right to fight! I can't find words for my hatred of cancer.

I've begun to wonder how much grief one soul can absorb and not completely unravel. I feel like I've barely recovered from one loss when another hits. It is magnified so many times, an algebraic effect. Every time someone I love dies, I remember the pain of all those other deaths. I re-live the grief of the other deaths on top of the new one.

I think that some people have the inclination to draw away from others and close their hearts to loving new friends and family. I don't do that, but my greatest wish is that the people I love stop dying.

Rest in Peace
Sandy McCoy
Ron Bramon
Harold Sweet
Margaret Reese
Helen Classcles
Avery Edward Adkins McCoy
Amy Rion Chesbro
Anne O'Donohue Lainhart