Monthly Archives: July 2017

Eleanor Morgan and the Case of the Noisy Chimney Koalas

I slept poorly last night. I was restless and plagued with weird dreams. We currently have a family of birds who’ve built a nest in our chimney and the babies are newly hatched and loud AF.

Because the bird noise is near constant right now, it’s invaded my subconscious, and last night I dreamed opened up the fireplace and found: two dozen hummingbirds, some rabbits, a hawk of some kind, baby owls, opossums, raccoons, stray cats, and a koala.

Hopefully, I’ll get more sleep tonight and the baby birds can adequately learn to fly in our chimney so they can get the hell out and we can make a chimney hat or whatever to keep future critters out.

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I spent a lot of time with The Ruby Blade over the weekend. Saturday was definitely my most productive day, with Friday coming in second. Yesterday was not so great. I finally managed to get things moving in late afternoon when my friend RJ started bribing me. Every 500 words, I got another page from her current WIP. It was very effective!

I’m hoping that one more week of focused, intense work, and I’ll be able to wrap this draft up and send it to my beta readers only a week late.

This weekend’s writing supervisor is checking my work.

 

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I feel like I haven’t had much time with my kiddo lately. He’s been at his dad’s since last Wednesday (the 26th), and the previous weekend, he was at the coast with his grandma. The Beer Guy and I got out there for one night, but it feels like it’s been too long since I’ve gotten an adequate amount of Alvie Bean snuggles. I can’t wait to pick him up tonight and I’m even more excited to spend the weekend with him. (Please remind me of this at 3:30 pm on Saturday when I’m updating my Etsy listing because he never. stops. talking.)

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I actually had a wonderfully productive weekend, even beyond the writing. I did menu-planning and got groceries for the week (although I know we’ll have to restock the bananas midweek), went to pick up my new glasses, got my car washed and the oil changed, got a massage, and brought some of my books to a local book store where they are currently on sale. In addition, I’ll be doing a book reading and signing there on August 10 at 7 pm. If you come, you can ask me anything, buy paperbacks of my books, and get them signed. I’ll also try to convince you to come have a beer with me after (my treat).

Book Review: Dustwalker

I paid cash money for this book, so this wasn’t one of those free ARC situations. However, I am acquainted with 1/2 of the authors and converse with her via FB chat almost daily.

Neither of the above facts are going to color my review.

THIS BOOK WAS SO GOOD.

There. That’s all you need to know. But, if you must have more, keep scrolling.

The Cover

 

The Blurb

A SYNTH SEARCHING FOR PURPOSE…

Walk. Scavenge. Destroy. Trade. A simple cycle that’s suited Ronin for one hundred and eighty-five years. With no clear grasp of his programming, the barren wasteland known as The Dust offers him purpose, a place where his armored undercasing, amped-up processors, and advanced optics can be put to use. The ramshackle towns on the edges of the waste serve merely as resupply stations between increasingly long treks. But one night — one human woman — makes him question everything.

A WOMAN WHO BRINGS HIM TO LIFE…

Lara Brooks struggles to survive under the strict rules imposed by the bots in Cheyenne. With her sister missing, she’s been on her own for weeks, and fears the worst. Her only hope comes from Ronin, a bot she catches spying on her. He promises to provide for Lara and search for her sister. All she has to do is dance. It should be easy; she’s done it before. But the longer she spends with Ronin, the harder it is to see him as just another bot.

A SANCTUARY HIDING DARK SECRETS…

In a city where humans are relegated to live in squalor, Ronin discovers a threat greater than any in the Dust — Warlord, Cheyenne’s tyrannical leader. When Ronin ignores the rules, he unwittingly puts Lara in danger. Warlord is as intolerant of disrespect as he is of mankind.

The Review

I’ll be honest. I might not have picked up this book if it wasn’t by someone I know. More honesty: my life is better because I did. I don’t read a lot of sci-fi romance, but I’m going to be rectifying that IMMEDIATELY.

I was hooked almost immediately. I love me a Romeo and Juliet story (although I prefer they not end with miscommunication and teenage suicide) (this one did not end with teen suicide due to miscommunication), I love rebellions, and I love the whole premise of the post-nuclear apocalypse with no real recollection as to exactly what happened, but a separation between the ‘bots and humans.

It’s a brutal world, and Tiffany Roberts does an amazing job describing that brutality in a way that really grabs at you and doesn’t let go. The world-building is fantastic and completely believable.

I imagine it’s difficult to write a robot (synth – a ‘bot that was programmed to adapt and change like a human) while maintaining their decided non-human characteristics. This book doesn’t have any trouble doing that. Ronin’s thought processes clearly keep him on the bot side of the spectrum, even when he’s becoming more “human” with his emotional reactions. I especially love the precision in which he measures time.

Lara is angry. Very angry. But this makes sense. She’s had a hard life. Human are subsistence farmers. Scrap gatherers. Subject to the bot Warlord who runs everything with cruelty. She’s had a brutal time of it, and most of that can be traced back to the bots of Cheyenne. The fact that she’s able to move past her anger enough to even consider softening to Ronin is amazing.

My only bone of contention with this story is the rape. It’s a flashback rape, but a rape nonetheless (and you all know how I feel about rape scenes – so many better ways, in my opinion, to torture someone and give them PTSD). But, in this case, I’m not going to deduct stars for it. Although I’m knee-jerk sensitive about rape being used as a method of torment, specifically for women, this violation added to the story and the protagonist’s character in a such a way that it’s hard to imagine it not having happened. (I’m still going to call out ever rape in every book I read, but I’ll always admit when I think they’re defensible.)

The Quotes

“I think, I reason, I react to the world around me. I question what I know and see, and I wonder what the future might bring, though I know it won’t likely be different than the past. I hope!”
– Ronin

Many humans viewed robots as tools, more akin to the handheld electronic devices they were so infatuated with than to themselves. Many others, like William, recognized our emergent consciousness, intelligence, and personality, and saw something inherently human in mind, if not in body.

[Lara:] “Smart ass.”
[Ronin:] “My ass is, at best, of average intelligence.”

 

The Verdict – 4.5 stars

This book was smart, funny, emotionally challenging, and all-around fantastic. I laughed out loud at parts (see above quote about the smart ass) and cried out loud (on the bus, damn you Tiffany!). This makes me eager to dive into everything else they’ve written. So do yourself a favor and buy it!

Motivation Monday

Today is a very high-anxiety day. Chest-crushing anxiety. (I don’t know why. That happens a lot.)

Thanks to last week, in which I hit 85% of my exercise goals, I know the proper ways to start treating this anxiety.

I have my swim stuff in my bag (and, unlike last week, I packed a comb, flip flops, am charging my swim watch, and brought my goggles instead of the Bean’s). Tomorrow, I will run. Wednesday, I will yoga. Thursday, I will run. Friday, I will swim. And Saturday, I will run.

If I hit 5 of those, I’ll be happy. Even if I don’t get to my time/distance goals on each one, I’ll still be happy to get out there. (Friday, I didn’t hit my swimming goal, and was extremely frustrated until I remembered that it was my first time in the pool in a year and swimming 500 yards was better than all the swims I haven’t done. Some is better than none. I should probably get that tattooed on the backs of my hands and my forehead or something.)

Other things I am doing in the way of self-care include:

  1. Eating healthy and regular meals
  2. Getting back into the habit of meditating
  3. Reframing my life into positive “I am” statements.  (“I am a runner” NOT “I used to run more.” “I am an author” NOT “I write but still have to have a day job.”

Since I have trips planned to Mexico (October) and Spain (March), I also need to really dig into my Spanish refreshers again. I minored in Spanish in college, but haven’t kept up the practice. I could probably skate by with my limited skills and the fact that people everywhere speak English, but I’d rather make the effort – and since Bean didn’t get into the dual-language school, I want to start doing more Spanish at home so he at least has a shot at a foreign language while his brains are still malleable.

(Speaking of brains, I was texting with my PSM this morning and we decided that it was monumentally unfair that one person could have both a defective brain and a defective reproductive system. You should really only have to be stuck with one of those. Although, I guess since she and I are both graced with both breath-taking beauty and dazzling intelligence [well at least one of us is…], maybe this is the trade-off?)

I’ll leave you with a picture of my adorable Bean who’s been at the coast with grandma since Thursday. 

Three Things Thursday: Brain Dump Edition

I typed the post title as “brain dumb” on my first go, and that might be accurate.

  1. I’m deep in edits/rewrites for The Ruby Blade. My goal is to finish 95% of the big work by the end of the month so I can get it to my beta readers and back in time to get it to my editor by the end of next month.
  2. I joined the gym on the campus of my new job and my membership is now active. I am going to start swimming/lifting a couple times/week. So it is written. (I need the accountability.)
  3. I have so many books in my TBR queue that I barely know what to do with myself. It’s the best problem I’ve ever had, TBH. Currently, I’m reading Emma Hamm’s Silver Blood (bus book), A Gathering of Shadows by VE Schwab (road trip audiobook), Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews (bedtime book), Besieged by Kevin Hearne (walking audiobook), and The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte (my non-fiction selection OTM). Up next in the queue is Dustwalker by Tiffany Roberts and then Godkiller by Colleen Vanderlinden. So you know, just a couple books. I’m a little behind in my goal to hit 185 books this year, so I need to pick up the pace. Having a full-time job really is messing up my writing and reading schedules!

Writerly Wednesday: MOAR FREE BOOKS

Hi! Because I love each and every one of you, I’m delighted to give you a chance to win MOAR FREE BOOKS (not to mention Amazon gift cards)! I’m one of the sponsors of the Night Owl Reviews Summer Fun Scavenger Hunt.

The grand prize is a $100 Amazon Gift Card. ($900 in prizes and over 90 Winners!)

Enter Now! (This event runs from July 19 – Aug 9)

Night Owl Reviews Web Hunt