Monthly Archives: January 2017

Book Review: Omens & Artifacts

Elizabeth Hunter, who is one of my favorite authors, has a new book out in her Elemental Legacy series. For those of us who really like Tenzin, this is an exciting time. (For the record, I really like Tenzin and have written a fanfic in my head about being friends with her.)

I received this book as a free ARC, but that in no way influenced how much I loved it.

The Blurb

In the elemental world, reputation is everything, but gaining it can get you killed.

Setting up shop as an antiquities hunter means nothing if you don’t have clients. Benjamin Vecchio, nephew of a famed vampire assassin, is the subject of widespread speculation, but so far that speculation hasn’t translated into work.
What Ben needs is a job. A big job. A profitable job.

A legendary job.

Finding the lost sword of Brennus the Celt, the mythical Raven King of the British Isles, would make Ben’s reputation in the immortal world, but it could also draw dangerous attention. The Raven King’s gold hoard isn’t famous for being easy to find. Luckily, Ben has his own legend at his side.

Tenzin is a wind vampire who doesn’t like digging, but she’s more than happy to let Ben do the dirty work while she provides the muscle he needs to make other immortals pay attention. They’re partners. Or so Ben thinks.

But when finding this treasure puts Tenzin’s future plans at risk, will their partnership survive? Tenzin isn’t used to taking orders from anyone, particularly from a young human who used to be her student. Digging into ancient Scottish history can get you dirty. It can also get you killed.

The Cover

The image is a link…click it.

 

The Review

You guys. I love Benzin. It’s been so much fun to watch Ben grow up and the way his relationship with Tenzin has developed just makes me so happy. He’s gone from a streetwise kid and ward of one of the scariest fire vamps out there to a badass in his own right. He’s obviously cool, right? I mean he’s besties with Tenzin!

Ben’s been caught up in some shady shit, due to Tenzin. (‘Shady Shit’ is probably her middle name.) But now he’s ready to step forward and own what he’s doing. He knows his target audience and needs to make a name for himself – something that’s probably easier if you’re virtually immortal and have a couple of centuries to build a reputation. But, since Ben is [still] mortal, he needs to go big or go home. Obviously, going home would result in a boring book, so that’s not the direction he chooses.

I really like how well Elizabeth transports her readers to the various settings. It’s almost as good as having the travel budget to go there myself. I’ve never been to Scotland (booo!), but it’s on my shortlist (top three after Romania and Sweden), but I feel like I have the lay of the land – at least a bit.

As always, the world building was fantastic. The consistency that Ms. Hunter shows throughout the various Elemental series is rather remarkable. Really, my only complaint is that she won’t let me dictate who shows up where. (All my books would have Carwyn, Tenzin, Cathy, Baojia, and Caspar. Oh, and Patrick.) (And Ioan. *hard stare* And Stephen.)

The combination of humor, mystery, and intrigue equals a delightfully paced book that I was unable to put down once I started. Tenzin’s relationship with Cara, the virtual assistant, made me so happy (as did her insistence on teasing Ben about putting holes in the walls of his NY loft to hang her weapons).

I cannot recommend this book more and am excited for the next Benzin adventure – which I’m assuming will continue to be filled with high jinks, gold, and witty banter (I’m a huge fan of witty banter).

The Quote

You guys – I couldn’t pick just one. I have three quotes that made me happy in this book.

Tenzin had walked in rooms layered in gold, had drunk blood from solid hammered goblets, and eaten food sprinkled with its dust.

She’d taken a king for a lover who painted her body with gold dust just to see her outline on silk sheets after they’d made love.

Not included – whether or not she enhances her lady garden with real diamonds…vajazzling on a very expensive level. We know Tenzin likes shiny things. (This is one of the questions I will ask her when we hang out.)

Oh shit. Well, the neighbors’ llamas had lived a long life. Probably.

I mean, that’s just perfect. Even with no context. Maybe especially with no context. Now you’ll have to read it to find out about the llamas.

[Cathy]: “If he’d given it to you…then you’d be stuck being the vampire king of Scotland.”

“I’m not a vampire!” Ben said.

Cathy nodded. “It would certainly be an awkward and probably very short reign.”

I love Cathy and want more of her.

The Verdict

Solid 4.5 stars. I am SO EXCITED for the next chapter and don’t understand why Elizabeth won’t let me lock her up*, keep her supplied with gin, and write whatever I want as fast as possible. DAMN YOU, HUNTER!

*hahaha. Just kidding. I’ve totally never floated the idea of a writer’s dungeon with my PSM. Ha. Ha.

Monday Musings & Health Goals

So, here we are ten days into the new presidential administration. I can’t even with everything that’s happened. I’ve been too sick to go to any marches, but I have made a couple of phone calls and angrily tweeted a lot, so there’s that?

I don’t even know what to do. I feel lost. There’s so much going on at the national/global level that I fundamentally disagree with. But at the same time I’m sick. Still. More sick. I’m unemployed. Still. Not even an interview since before Thanksgiving. And I’ve been moving. And while I’m pleased to be moving in with the Beer Guy, I am displeased about moving in general because our place currently looks like we ordered the Hoarders starter pack and it’s like walking through a labyrinth to get to my desk and computer.

Also bad?

This.

That is the back half of a rat. The rats that have been running about being nuisances since late July/early August. The ones that I knew were in the walls/ceilings. The ones ignored by my landlords until the rats did $200+ worth of damage to my stuff earlier this month. The rats that decided to come out for a big face-to-face Saturday while I was trying to empty & clean the old place. (The landlord came out later that day after I sent that photo and found a nest with tea lights and “clothing items” which I can only assume were my missing lacy thongs. Ratcliffe was trying to set some kind of mood, I guess.)

In just under two hours, I will be out of that place for good and forever. *full body shudder*

ANYWAY – As active as I’m staying in politics (this is so unacceptable on so many levels), and as much as there is no way I’m going to promise to keep this a politics-free zone, I will still mostly be concentrating on my four areas of interest:

  1. Book reviews (new one tomorrow for Elizabeth Hunter’s “Omens & Artifacts!)
  2. Writing stuff (I should have my second round of edits back from the editor no later than tomorrow!
  3. Amusing kid stories (we had a big conversation about #altfacts yesterday and why it’s not okay to tell lies, even if you won’t get caught)
  4. Health stuff. Like I said above, I am sick. Again. This is the third horrible cold I’ve had in two months. My immune system is shit. This is due to the triad of stress, poor eating habits (I’m getting better!), and very little exercise. I have to do better for me. I can’t constantly be ill, because that sucks. I’m going to start blogging more about this journey again. I used to do weekly goals for health stuff, and I’m going to start doing that again to hold myself accountable.

The Lego Movie is serious business. Lord Business.

 

Health Goals: 1/30 – 2/5

  1. 30 minutes of movement x 5 (yoga, walking, swimming)
  2. A fruit with breakfast every day (done for today!)
  3. Eat lunch every day
  4. Stay hydrated! Glass of water on hand at all times.
  5. MOAR veggies (at least 2 servings/day)
  6. Bonus: no arguing with racists on the internet (unless they start it)

 

Self care is going to be even more important as we move through the altreality that is our current political climate. (In the past week, I’ve agreed with Cheney, the Koch Brothers, and a friend’s father who usually just drives me a little bonkers.)

 

Book Review: Cheating Death

I recently received the opportunity to read an ARC* of April White’s newest book (released today! Get it!), the fifth and final installment of the amazing Immortal Descendants series: Cheating Death.

The Blurb

In the thrilling conclusion to The Immortal Descendants series, a life has ended, the future is lost, and a war has just begun. 

An explosion has split Time and Archer has paid the ultimate price, leaving Saira heartbroken and desperate to repair the rupture. But the blast has trapped Saira in an alternate future where Mongers are cornered predators and Death is the ultimate judge. If Saira and her larcenous friend, Ringo, ever want to see Archer alive, they must pull off the impossible – alter history at a moment in time to which they cannot return. But saving Archer will restore a timeline where Mongers have complete control, mixed bloods are hunted prey, and the Descendant world is spiraling into chaos.

As Saira uses her Clocking skills to prevent her worst nightmares from coming true, she travels from the dirty streets of Victorian London to the secret archives of the Vatican. She seeks a purpose that is greater than smashed hope, greater than lost love, greater than the prophecy that has shaped her very existence. She must use the lessons of history to free the present and shape the future. And in the end, Saira and her friends will face War and Death in the most important battle of all – the one for Peace.

The Cover

The Review

I don’t want to delve too much into what’s gone before, because SPOILERS!, but my main irritation (really, my only irritation) with the book (and this genre – YA – in general) is the whole falling madly in love and getting married while still a teenager – especially when half the duo is more than a century old. That really turns up my squick factor. However, since that’s my only quibble (and Saira’s and Archer’s relationship is hella more stable than any sparkly vampire couple), I guess I’ll let it go.

The best parts of this book are the historic characters (Mary Shelley! Oscar Wilde!), the history (secret Vatican intrigue!), and the fact that Saira is an unabashed feminist and really sticks to her guns about that, regardless of what time she’s in and who’s pushing back. For someone so young (see above “teen marriage” reference), she really comes into her strength over the arc of this series and I love how much pushback she gives to everyone who even sidles up to the implication that women – especially young women – are not up to snuff.

“…that word ‘just,’ when used as an adverb, means ‘only’ and ‘no more than.’ By using ‘just’ that way, you’re saying there’s something greater than being female, and you’ve implied that being female isn’t enough.”

See? That’s Saira talking to someone considerable older, more powerful, and with a lot more woman-experience behind her.

What balances – and nicely, I might add – Saira’s feminist strength to keep her from being unrealistic is the fact that she is so very obviously not fully adult yet. She’s technically old enough, but there is still some major frontal lobe development that needs to happen. She’s more thoughtful in this book than in earlier ones, but still has to rein in her tendency to think before acting. Everything is so close to the surface yet – which of course it is in all of us when we’re newly emerging into adulthood and haven’t yet learned to temper our emotions with our experience (and most of us aren’t time travelers trying to repair rifts in the time stream and rescue our vampire lovers while avoiding being killed by angry clerics).

April’s world building is fantastic. I love me some urban fantasy – it’s so much more satisfying to me to have our world infested with the supernatural than to imagine other worlds where anything is possible. I like the idea that the dude I saw hunched in a trench coat in the shadows might be a vampire, and if I just find the right person, I can be next in line for some blood-sucking immortality.

I should probably hang out in cemeteries more often.

The character building throughout this series has also been quite good. I am exceptionally fond of Ringo and love the path that Raven took in her development.

This five book series has been a fantastic journey, and my only real regret is that it’s over. (Although I want at least a novella with Mr. Shaw…gotta love a bear shifter, amiright?)

The Quote(s)

“Miss Elian, I do believe we should be friends. There is something quite extraordinary about a woman who is quite completely herself. I find that being oneself is an excellent choice, as everyone else is already taken.” (–Oscar Wilde)

The bath had done him good though, and he must have eaten fairly recently because his resting corpse-face had filled out enough to be considered chiseled rather than emaciated.

The Verdict

This book, in addition to being a great conclusion to a wonderful story, full of amazing world building, fascinating history, exceptional character development, and a unique back story for the supernaturals running around this earth, also made me laugh out loud more than once.

It’s out today! Buy it! Love it! Get the series!

 

*I received this book for free. In return I am giving a review. The gift of the book in no way changed the fact that it was amazing. If I’d hated it, I just would’ve “forgotten” to review it or something.

 

No Words

Today, I mourn.

Tomorrow, I fight.

Three Things Thursday: We’re All Going to Die

It’s been a while since I’ve graced you all with three things on a Thursday. I know you’re feeling the pain of that specific abandonment. (Not as much as you feel the pain of my now defunct “Shoesday” series, though, I’m sure…)

Today is a bittersweet day, and I’m feeling a wee bit political, so welcome to the “Oh My God, We’re All Going to Die” (political commentary) edition of Three Things Thursday.

  1. Today is the last full day that Barack Obama will be president. I have very much enjoyed having him as my president. I didn’t always agree with everything he did, but overall, his policies matched my beliefs. We’ve come a long way in eight years. Healthcare reform (although it was gutted by the GOP and wasn’t as good as it could be), marriage rights, increased funding to prevent violence against women, and on and on… Today, I read an article about all the things that our incoming PEOTUS has planned. Beyond gutting funding for arts and humanities, he is also planning on gutting funding for 25 DOJ programs that administer grants to prevent violence against women. Don’t even get me started on Planned Parenthood. (Did you know we’re at a 30 year low rate for unplanned pregnancy? Do you know what makes preventing unplanned pregnancy possible? Places like Planned Parenthood. Do you know what else goes down when unplanned pregnancies go down? Abortion rates! So, if you really are pro-life, why wouldn’t you support access to birth control and health care? I DO NOT UNDERSTAND!)
  2. Intersectional feminism shouldn’t be that hard for white women to grasp. I’ve given up on arguing with cis/het/white men on the internet (hahahahaha…we’ll see how long that lasts), and I know some amazingly feminist men who don’t seem to believe their masculinity is diminished by a woman’s strength. One of the most disturbing conversational trends I’ve seen in the past few days, though, is the number of white women who call themselves feminists but don’t understand why they (cis/het/white) also have more privilege than WOC and those who are LGBTQ. The number of arguments I’ve seen that start with “identifying differences is divisive/let’s not talk about race or color or orientation/we’re all women together” is so incredibly tone deaf. For all that we as women lack the male privilege, those of us who are white (and cis/het) do not get to diminish the voices of those who have to work even harder than we do to achieve the same things. That whole $0.77 on the dollar that is publicized as the income inequality? That’s only white women. There is nothing wrong with shutting up to hear others’ experiences and interpretations of the world. The more I learn about someone else’s struggles, the more I can rebuild my narrative to include everyone and fight for everyone. Sometimes that means I have to take a backseat, and you know what? That’s okay. Shutting up to let someone else talk is not the same as being silenced. We tell that to men who talk over us – let’s make sure we’re not talking over anyone else.
  3. Ugh. You guys. The cabinet nominees. I’ve never paid too much attention to confirmation hearings before because I’ve generally done some reading about the candidates, either agreed or disagreed with their nominations, and sent off a quick email to the appropriate parties regarding my opinions. This is the first time I’ve actively watched multiple hearings. Every time I think there can’t be a more ill-prepared and vastly unqualified candidate, I am surprised. Current record holder for me: Betsy DeVos. DUDES! If confirmed, she is going to gut our public education system. She is not interested in making public education better. She doesn’t care about making sure that students with disabilities receive quality education. She wants federal funds to go to unregulated charter schools. She knows nothing about education. Or running large financial systems. Or anything useful at all as far as I can tell. (She does, however, know that there are bears in Wyoming and those bears are apparently a larger threat to our school children than guns. The facts do not support that, but we are moving away from things likes “facts” and “information” and “knowledge” in our educational systems.) As someone who is attending kindergarten open house next week (which is full of crazy anyway), this is disheartening. I can’t afford private school (unlike Ms. DeVos) for my kid and can’t home school (because I don’t hate myself or my child and would like to keep it that way), so I need a good public school system with good teachers.

This was not the Harry Potter education professional I would’ve chosen. (Although with Lockhart as president, I guess it’s not that surprising…)

 

I’m trying hard to stay positive. I don’t have money to donate right now, but you can bet your ass that once I’m reemployed, I’ll be sending my $$ to all the places that are going to need it most.

Provided I can breathe and walk without trying to hack up a lung, I’ll be marching on Saturday.

I will continue to support my congress people in their fight for ALL American people.

Tomorrow