Monday, September 26, 2011
Monday, September 19, 2011
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
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
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
Avery Edward Adkins McCoy
Amy Rion Chesbro
Anne O'Donohue Lainhart
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
First, let me apologize for the tardiness of this blog post. A dear friend of mine passed away over the weekend, and I've been somewhat mired in grief over that.
Secondly, I have 2 e-copies of B.K. Walker's Night Secrets
to give away! Anyone who comments on this post, follows me publicly on Google Follow, votes in my poll, follows me on Twitter, and retweets the contest will be eligible. Please leave one comment per entry! In addition, each person who comments will be entered in a contest to win a free Kindle! Check out www.vbtcafe.com for more information and for an expanded schedule of the Romancing Your Dark Side book tour!
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
On my Twitter profile, I describe myself as someone who thinks there should be more Steampunk in the world. The more Steampunk I see, the more I think it's awesome. Steampunk is one of the coolest parts of the sci-fi/fantasy world. There is so much you can do with it!
My first real exposure to Steampunk was at Dragon-Con a couple of years ago. The coolest this I saw was an awesome modded Steampunk wheelchair! I'd love to see some more Steampunk in movies. Wild Wild West with Will Smith and Kevin Kline is the best example of Steampunk in movies. Unfortunately, it was more hokey than cool. The Golden Compass had some Steampunk elements, but those were more in the book than the movie.
My dad fell in love with Steampunk, too. He has some skill with a soldering iron, so he's started making his own Steampunk jewelry! I am glad that he has found something to occupy his time since he's retired. I also think that his work is pretty awesome. The photo on this blog post is one of his creations. He has just started his own Etsy shop, and I hope that my awesome readers will check it out! He is Gears and Glass Guy on Etsy. Click on his shop name for more photos of his Steampunk jewelry. He plans to have stained glass pieces up soon as well!
Thursday, August 4, 2011
The signing last night was fantastic. I went with my little brother, the guy in the dark blue shirt behind me. It was cool to get to spend time with my brother. He is 14 years younger than me, and sometimes we don't have a lot in common. He turned 18 in May, and it's getting easier.
One of the things we DO have in common is that we're both big fans of George R. R. Martin. I discovered his books in the paperback racks of the Los Angeles Public Library's Central Branch. I took it home with me and encouraged my roommates at the time to read it, too. After we had all three read the books, we played "Cast that Character" and chose our dream actors and actresses to play Sansa, Arya, Tyrion, and the rest. I've continued to recommend the series to everyone I know who reads fantasy. I badgered both of my brothers into reading A Song of Ice and Fire. My little brother even gave up his W.o.W. account this spring so that those funds could go to paying for HBO.
Martin's Q & A session was short because there were so many attendees, but he answered some of the FAQs. His favorite character is Tyrion, and he's the easiest to write. He loves the HBO show and writes one show per season. My friend Heather asked a question about women in his books, and received a very nice response. Basically, he said that his books are based on history and the women in his books have a lot to overcome(!).
Martin had great things to say about our local independent bookseller, which was awesome. The store guy says that he requests to come to our bookstore. We were his last stop on the tour. He said that a non-reader lives only one life, and a reader lives thousands. Such true words!
Unfortunately, there were so many people who were there that there was no personalization or photos. Well, other than the guy at the end of the line snapping people. I very much wish that I had still been in town during one of his earlier signings at the book store! I am amazed at his stamina. He signed books for over 600 people, and with a limit of 3 books each. I am sure that not everyone had more than one book--my brother and I each had one. If he did, he would have signed over 1800 books! The really amazing thing is that he did it in only two hours! Even with those downsides, I am very, very glad that I went to the signing. It was by no means a waste of my time, and I'd do it again in a heartbeat!
Monday, August 1, 2011
It is a lot of fun to meet these authors. They sometimes read from their latest book, but most of them simply take questions from the audience. You get a chance to ask them personal questions when you get to the table to get your book signed. You can usually get your picture taken with the author as well. That's pretty awesome if you ask me.
I was really impressed with Jim Butcher who was the author I saw on Saturday. I thought he was really funny. There were a lot of fans there. They did the order of signing by giving us tickets that were alphabetized. My ticket was I, and it took 2 1/2 hours before we got a chance to see Mr. Butcher. I can't even imagine spending 2 1/2 hours signing my name, smiling for the camera and making small talk. If I ever make it as an author, I would totally sign books and take photos for 2 1/2 hours or more if my fans could wait for 2 1/2 hours to see me!
In 2008, I met
- Diana Gabaldon (who said that her grandmother shared my name, very cool!)
- Peter S. Beagle (who went to school with two of the writing instructors at my alma mater, Gurney Norman and James Baker Hall. I had to give him the unfortunate news that James Baker Hall had passed away.)
- I got a peek at Charlaine Harris while asking for her publicist's information
- Kelley Armstrong!
- Kim Harrison (who is a fellow Dr. Who fan!)
- Jim Butcher
If you've never met an author before, do it! It's an excellent experience!
Thursday, July 28, 2011
I have been a fan of Charlaine Harris for several years. I'm probably one of the last to join her fandom. I started reading after the first season of True Blood. I knew that Anna Paquin had been cast as Sookie while I was reading the books, and I could hear her in my mind as I was reading. I hadn't seen the show at the time, but I have now. I have to admit that I was disappointed in Paquin as Sookie at first, but I feel like she is coming into the character finally in this fourth season. I appreciate the show and the books as separate entitites now.
I think I'm probably one of the last to read this book as well! It was my first time reading a book as an ebook. I don't have an ereader, so I was reading on my computer. My feelings on ereaders is an issue for another post, however.
The book felt shorter than the rest of the books. However, that may be because I was reading it on my computer. It was apparently 247 pages long. It was a very typical Harris novel with plenty of sex, blood, and violence. I always enjoy her books, and they never fail to deliver. They keep me turning the pages, and I am always sad when the story is over.
Sookie is living with her fairy relatives Claude and Dermot while happily dating Eric. Things are never quiet for long in Bon Temps, however. During Sookie's shift at Merlotte's, someone throws a molotov cocktail into the bar. Meanwhile, Eric is struggling not to let Victor, the regent of Louisiana anger him enough to make his death a certainty.Underneath all of this, Sookie has to wonder if her fairy relatives have ulterior motives for living with her. They claim that they become more powerful when they live together, but Sookie is not convinced. She also discovers that Sandra Van Pelt is out of jail and (yet again) gunning for her. Sookie also finds out some things about her heritage that are unexpected. It all culminates with a very bloody, gory battle.
Sookie has some serious issues that she has to deal with. I don't know how I would deal with it if I were in her situation. She has more tolerance, more perseverance than I would. There are a lot of issues associated with the paranormal that aren't necessarily predictable, but I think Harris has done a good job of anticipating those things. She doesn't show relationships with vampires as being any easier than relationships with other humans, and I appreciate that about her novels. I feel like there is a depth to the Sookie series that is lacking in many other paranormal novels and series.
Obviously, I highly recommend this book! I love Harris's novels and had the opportunity to see her if not speak to her at Dragon-Con. Sometimes I am surprised that novels like these come from an older lady like Harris! If you haven't read these books yet, go pick them up NOW. They are fantastic!
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
I've been thinking it for quite a while and I've probably mentioned it, but Urban Fantasy is definitely my favorite subgenre. This book just reminded me of that fact!
Sarah is a blacksmith who works shoeing horses during the day, moonlights as props master for a local film company, makes swords for fun, and is part of a Society for Creative Anachronisms(SCA) group on the side.
She's purchased a black sword at auction and after it is shattered during a movie scene, she decides to reforge it. She has an audience consisting of her girlfriend and a man who claims he is a dwarf. Things grow steadily stranger after the dwarf asks her to slay the dragon using the sword. Apparently, the dragon is an investment banker!
This is my newest favorite book. I couldn't put it down. I really loved the characters. I totally understood Sarah's dual feelings about her sexuality, her upbringing versus the truth of who she is. Her relationship with her girlfriend seemed very realistic to me. I do have a friend who would complain that all lesbian relationships are portrayed in a very angsty, abusive light. I felt like Sarah and Katie's relationship was surely angst-ridden, but I wouldn't say that Sarah's behavior was abusive. It was more confused.
In addition, I've thought that the fantasy genre could always use more lesbians. I'd say the same about gay men, but they just aren't macho enough for sword fights. Fencing, yes. Sword fights, not so much. It would be totally awesome if the next book had some gay guys in it. I won't have long to wait-the next installation is coming out soon, and I am very excited!
Sarah reminded me of Buffy in some ways. She was reluctant to stand up and take her place in the overall story. Once she did, she kicked ass and took names. She also pushed herself to her limits. Sarah is the kind of person that I would like hanging out with, and that's really at the heart of what I liked about this novel. I don't want to read books about people I don't like. It's distasteful.
At the same time, Buffy was someone who couldn't have a "normal" relationship. I don't feel that way about Sarah. I think that while there was a lot of indecision and figuring things out in this book, she won't have the same problem in the next book.
In addition to liking the heroine, I have to say that I felt like there was a twist in this story that I didn't expect. There were some questions raised that weren't answered, and I am looking forward to having at least some of then resolved. I liked the elements of pop culture that were included, too. It was really cool how the author took a skill that is somewhat archaic and turned it into something that made our character that much more vital. I am a knitter and while I enjoy the craft of it, it's not something that is altogether useful in the grand scheme of things. Blacksmithery is important in small circles, but not in the grander scheme of things. I guess it's an appreciation for the finer, more obscure arts that appeals to me.
If you like urban fantasy, you'll like this book! If you've ever been to a Ren Faire or are a member of SCA, you'll like this book! If you're a fan of Viking mythology, you'll like this book! If you're looking for something new to read, go find a copy of this book. You won't be sorry!
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
For hundreds of years, China was ruled by an emperor. Traditionally, the imperial family was served by eunuchs. It was considered proper to have eunuchs, especially for the imperial wives and concubines because castration was seen as putting a stop to sexual desire. Eunuch-hood was seen as a possible way for peasant families to get rich, and would often castrate their young boys and send them to the palace for training as eunuchs.
Sun Yaoting was castrated at the age of 7! in the early 1900s shortly before the imperial family was dethroned. How horrible to have gone through that pain and suffering(two MONTHS of recovery time with a quill stuck in your urethra!) only to discover that it was for nothing! Sun Yaoting was sent to the palace by way of a nobleman anyway, when he was a teenager. He was able to serve the royal family for quite some time until the People's Liberation Army claimed China.
Yaoting's life was really interesting. He talked about the imperial family in what seemed to be a very frank light. He had plenty of negative things to say about them. At the same time, I had to wonder if there was more negative to say about them simply because of censorship in China.
Likewise, there was much to say about being a eunuch. There were some eunuchs that served the Imperial family who had families before they were castrated. Others adopted children. Yaoting talked often about eunuchs who would have affairs with maids. Obviously, castration does not remove physical desire.
The book was written in a rather formal style. For the most part, it was a very good translation. There were some times when I could tell that it was translated, but those were few. I was left with a desire to read more about the imperial family of China, especially that of the last emperor.
I would recommend this book for anyone interested in history, especially Chinese history.