Friday, September 28, 2018

Shedding Your Skin and Turning 60

Yesterday I turned 60 and I was wary, waiting for the sudden despair of age to drag me into its depths, the misery of youth having flown and death coming closer.

It never happened. In fact, I spent most of the day giddy and delighted. Joyful to be alive, blessed to be loved and accepted and feeling creative and vital.

Sixty is when I realized that I really am out of fucks to give.

Sixty is when I accepted that the white men on this earth are not my allies, younger women are not my models and I have lived a life full of despair that has afforded me this life full of joy. Sixty is feeling marvelous (except for my knees which need replacement, like, yesterday).

Things I realized: as I celebrated with family and friends, I saw how the women all brought energy and awareness to the celebration, bringing the food and gifts to nourish me (emotionally and literally) and the men sat back and brought nothing. They ate the food, hadn't helped in choosing gifts and didn't lift a finger to clean up afterwards.

Women brought the effort, the emotional care and the pleasure.

On my birthday when Dr. Christine Blasey Ford relived the trauma of her sexual assault in front of a room of old white men and showed courage, committment and more love of this system than any of them will ever know, I knew, as did everyone, that their choices would not change but the women in this world would. ME TOO is no longer a catch phrase to say we've been hurt, it's the words to start a revolution.

I was raised to try and please others. Look pretty, speak softly, let go of anger. And I never understood why I couldn't be that womam. I'm loud. I'm not pretty. And I've spent my life furious as person after person has told me that anger is holding me back.

Not any more, bitches. I'm SIXTY fucking years old and my anger is righteous. My fury is fire and beauty and LOUD AS FUCK! You don't like it well that's a shame for you because this old woman is out of fucks to give, out of politeness and out of sweet. These are my honest years now. This is when I finally don't care about being liked.

Men have touched us, fucked us and made us apologize for our tears. Other women try to quiet us because we make them feel uncomfortable for having loud voices. No more whispers.

That polite skin is shed and I'm ready to slither into the world with my teeth exposed, my venom dripping and motherfuckers, you better hide because this woman just doesn't give a damn anymore.

Welcome to the revolution, fuckers.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Carolyn's October Book Orders (and some of September)

Books, books, books. I keep ordering books; it's something of a bad habit now because I just don't have the reading urge anymore. Or at least not as strongly. Still, I'll not cancel anything because they all sound good and I know eventually I'll dive in and read them all. Just not quickly, that's all, lol.

First of all the last of September.

1.  Hot Winter Nights
     Author: Jill Shalvis
     Releasing: 9/25/18
     Price: $6.99

Most people wouldn’t think of a bad Santa case as the perfect Christmas gift. Then again, Molly Malone, office manager at Hunt Investigations, isn’t most people, and she could really use a distraction from the fantasies she’s been having since spending the night with her very secret crush, Lucas Knight. Nothing happened, not that Lucas knows that—but Molly just wants to enjoy being a little naughty for once . . .

Whiskey and pain meds for almost-healed bullet wounds don’t mix. Lucas needs to remember that next time he’s shot on the job, which may be sooner rather than later if Molly’s brother, Joe, finds out about them. Lucas can’t believe he’s drawing a blank on his (supposedly) passionate tryst with Molly, who’s the hottest, smartest, strongest woman he’s ever known. Strong enough to kick his butt if she discovers he’s been assigned to babysit her on her first case. And hot enough to melt his cold heart this Christmas.

I usually like Jill Shalvis but I don't like the brother's friend and sister trope. I'll have to see what Shalvis does with it.

2.  Phoenix Unbound
     Author: Grace Draven
     Publisher: Penguin Group
     Releases: 9/25/18
     Price: $4.99

A woman with power over fire and illusion and the enslaved son of a chieftain battle a corrupt empire in this powerful and deeply emotional romantic fantasy from the USA Today bestselling author of Radiance.

Every year, each village is required to send a young woman to the Empire's capital--her fate to be burned alive for the entertainment of the masses. For the last five years, one small village's tithe has been the same woman. Gilene's sacrifice protects all the other young women of her village, and her secret to staying alive lies with the magic only she possesses.

But this year is different.

Azarion, the Empire's most famous gladiator, has somehow seen through her illusion--and is set on blackmailing Gilene into using her abilities to help him escape his life of slavery. Unknown to Gilene, he also wants to reclaim the birthright of his clan.

To protect her family and village, she will abandon everything to return to the Empire--and burn once more.

Love Grace Draven and this sounds real interesting.

3.  Strong: A Stage Dive Novella
     Author: Kylie Scott
     Publisher:  Evil Eye Concepts, Inc.
     Releases: 9/25/18
     Price: $2.99

When the girl of your dreams is kind of a nightmare.

As head of security to Stage Dive, one of the biggest rock bands in the world, Sam Knowles has plenty of experience dealing with trouble. But spoilt brat Martha Nicholson just might be the worst thing he’s ever encountered. The beautiful troublemaker claims to have reformed, but Sam knows better than to think with what’s in his pants. Unfortunately, it’s not so easy to make his heart fall into line.

Martha’s had her sights on the seriously built bodyguard for years. Quiet and conservative, he’s not even remotely her type. So why the hell can’t she get him out of her mind? There’s more to her than the Louboutin wearing party-girl of previous years, however. Maybe it’s time to let him in on that fact and deal with this thing between them.

**Every 1001 Dark Nights novella is a standalone story. For new readers, it’s an introduction to an author’s world. And for fans, it’s a bonus book in the author’s series. We hope you'll enjoy each one as much as we do.**

Love this series; I've been wanting Sam to find his love. You go, Sam!

That's all for September (that's 'cause there's not much of September left!) Onward to October.

1.  The Hollow of Fear   
     Author: Sherry Thomas
     Publisher: Penguin Group
     Releases: 10/2/18
     Price: $9.99

   Under the cover of "Sherlock Holmes, consulting detective," Charlotte Holmes puts her extraordinary powers of deduction to good use. Aided by the capable Mrs. Watson, Charlotte draws those in need to her and makes it her business to know what other people don't. 

Moriarty's shadow looms large. First, Charlotte's half brother disappears. Then, Lady Ingram, the estranged wife of Charlotte's close friend Lord Ingram, turns up dead on his estate. And all signs point to Lord Ingram as the murderer.
With Scotland Yard closing in, Charlotte goes under disguise to seek out the truth. But uncovering the truth could mean getting too close to Lord Ingram--and a number of malevolent forces...  
I'm invested in this series now, will probably read the first two to refresh my memory.

2.  Rocky Mountain Cowboy Christmas
     Author: Katie Ruggle
     Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
     Releases: 10/2/18
     Price: $5.68

When firefighter and single dad Steve Springfield moved his four kids to a Colorado Christmas tree ranch, he intended for it to be a safe haven. But he never expected danger to follow them to his childhood home...
Or that he would come face-to-face with the one girl he could never forget.
Folk artist Camille Brandt lives a quiet life. As the town's resident eccentric, she's used to being lonely—until Steve freaking Springfield changes everything. Brave and kind, he's always had a piece of her heart, and it doesn't take long before she's in danger of falling for him again. But as mysterious fires break out across the sleepy Colorado town, Steve and Camille will have to fight if they want their happy family to survive until Christmas.
Love Katie Ruggle too. Damn.

3. An Easy Death (Gunnie Rose Book I)
     Author: Charlaine Harris
     Publisher: Simon & Schuster
     Releases: 10/2/18
     Price: $7.99

The beloved #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Sookie Stackhouse series, the inspiration for HBO’s True Blood, and the Midnight Crossroad trilogy adapted for NBC’s Midnight, Texas, has written a taut new thriller—the first in the Gunnie Rose series—centered on a young gunslinging mercenary, Lizbeth Rose. 

Set in a fractured United States, in the southwestern country now known as Texoma. A world where magic is acknowledged but mistrusted, especially by a young gunslinger named Lizbeth Rose. Battered by a run across the border to Mexico Lizbeth Rose takes a job offer from a pair of Russian wizards to be their local guide and gunnie. For the wizards, Gunnie Rose has already acquired a fearsome reputation and they’re at a desperate crossroad, even if they won’t admit it. They’re searching through the small border towns near Mexico, trying to locate a low-level magic practitioner, Oleg Karkarov. The wizards believe Oleg is a direct descendant of Grigori Rasputin, and that Oleg’s blood can save the young tsar’s life.

As the trio journey through an altered America, shattered into several countries by the assassination of Franklin Roosevelt and the Great Depression, they’re set on by enemies. It’s clear that a powerful force does not want them to succeed in their mission. Lizbeth Rose is a gunnie who has never failed a client, but her oath will test all of her skills and resolve to get them all out alive.
I liked the Midnight series; not so much the Sookie one. So this will be a tossup Fingers crossed.

4.  Band Sinister
     Author: K J Charles
     Publisher: KJC Books
     Releases: 10/11/18
     Price: $3.99

Sir Philip Rookwood is the disgrace of the county. He’s a rake and an atheist, and the rumours about his hellfire club, the Murder, can only be spoken in whispers. (Orgies. It’s orgies.)

Guy Frisby and his sister Amanda live in rural seclusion after a family scandal. But when Amanda breaks her leg in a riding accident, she’s forced to recuperate at Rookwood Hall, where Sir Philip is hosting the Murder.
Guy rushes to protect her, but the Murder aren’t what he expects. They’re educated, fascinating people, and the notorious Sir Philip turns out to be charming, kind—and dangerously attractive.

In this private space where anything goes, the longings Guy has stifled all his life are impossible to resist...and so is Philip. But all too soon the rural rumour mill threatens both Guy and Amanda. The innocent country gentleman has lost his heart to the bastard baronet—but does he dare lose his reputation too?
If the cover feels familiar, well, Ms Charles said she channeled Georgette Heyer while writing this book. This ought to be a doozy.  

5.  Archangel Prophecy
     Author: Nalini Singh
     Publisher: Penquin Group
     Releases: 10/30/18
     Price: 7.99

Return to New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh’s darkly passionate Guild Hunter world, where human-turned-angel Elena Deveraux, consort to Archangel Raphael, is thrust center stage into an eons-old prophecy…

Midnight and dawn, Elena’s wings are unique among angelkind—and now they are failing. The first mortal to be turned into an immortal in angelic memory, she’s regressing. Becoming more and more human. Easier to hurt. Easier to kill.

Elena and Raphael must unearth the reason for the regression before Elena falls out of the sky. Yet even as they fight a furious battle for Elena’s very survival, violent forces are gathering across the world. In China, the Archangel Favashi is showing the first signs of madness. In New York, a mysterious sinkhole filled with lava swallows a man whole. In Africa, torrential monsoon rains flood rolling deserts. And in Elena’s mind whispers a haunting voice that isn’t her own.

This time, survival may not be possible…not even for the consort of an archangel.
This is the 11th book in this series!  O.o

6.  Shades of Wicked
     Author: Jeaniene Frost
     Publisher: HarperCollins
     Releases: 10/30/18
     Price: $6.99

In this thrilling new Night Rebel series set in New York Times bestselling author Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress world, sexy and ruthless vampire Ian finally meets his match!
The Rule Breaker...

Master vampire Ian is unrepentant, shameless…and every shade of wicked. He’s made one too many enemies in his two centuries of existence, including Dagon, a demon who now lays claim to his soul. Ian’s only chance to escape Dagon is to join forces with a Law Guardian, but he's never been able to abide by the rules for long.

The Law Maker...

Veritas’ normal role is police, judge, and jury to reprobates like Ian. But she has her own ax to grind with Dagon, so if she can use Ian as bait...well, all’s fair in law and war. As they scour supernatural hotspots to perfect their trap, Veritas soon realizes Ian’s carefully cultivated, devil-may-care roguish image hides something much more powerful. And Ian discovers Veritas has shocking secrets of her own. As they’re drawn to each other with a passion as intense as their peril, either love or justice will prevail. But each will have devastating consequences.
Glad to see Ms Frost back in the saddle, I've missed her.  :-)

Well, that's it until November, when I'll try to return with more releases. 

Happy reading, y'all!

Friday, September 14, 2018

Hold Your Breath by Katie Ruggle

This review is by Carolyn. 

In the remote Rocky Mountains, lives depend on the Search & Rescue brotherhood. But in a place this far off the map, trust is hard to come by and secrets can be murder…

As the captain of Field County’s ice rescue dive team, Callum Cook is driven to perfection. But when he meets new diver Louise “Lou” Sparks, all that hard-won order is obliterated in an instant. Lou is a hurricane. A walking disaster. And with her, he’s never felt more alive…even if keeping her safe may just kill him.
Lou’s new to the Rockies, intent on escaping her controlling ex, and she’s determined to make it on her own terms…no matter how tempting Callum may be. But when a routine training exercise unearths a body, Lou and Callum find themselves thrust into a deadly game of cat and mouse with a killer who will stop at nothing to silence Lou—and prove that not even her new Search and Rescue family can keep her safe forever.

I can remember the first time I read this book, a minor miracle in and of itself. The characters stuck in my head and came out to visit every now and then and you know a book has hit your sweet spot when that happens.

Usually I'm hero-centric but with this book I was both hero-centric and heroine-centric. I totally loved both characters and I loved the fact that there was no instalust, although there certainly was interest. We are in Lou's head, so we know she's interested but we experienced romance readers can also suss out Callum's wanting to do more to Lou than train her in cold water diving rescue.

Callum is a handsome, kind, gruff guy with a mild to moderate case of OCD and who never says a word if a grunt will do. There is no hint of an abusive background or any other reason for his personality, other than that it is just Callum. I found this very refreshing. And because of this, Lou loves to poke at Callum, about everything from storing meeting chairs to ... well... plumber's crack. Ahem ...

"You know, you'd make even plumber's crack look good."

His hand slapped over the back of the waistband of his jeans. Finding himself fully covered, he sent her an upside-down glare.

"I'm using my imagination," she told him, heading into the kitchen.

Lou has been known to babble and in fact does it several times in this book. She is also stubborn and courageous and determined to change herself from the weak, spineless person she was (her words), into a strong, independent woman who can take care of herself. Lou is the one with the past and it chases after her from the East coast to Colorado and oh my lord, this is such an exciting book and Lou is truly a wonder woman. As she says herself:

"Of course," she said. "In the hospital, I had a lot of time to think, and I realized that loving you doesn't make me weaker. To save you, I dove into a frozen reservoir, killed a guy and almost died."

He flinched, and she gave him an apologetic grimace.

"Loving you actually made me into kind of a badass."

Katie Ruggles became an autobuy author for me, based on this book. She is a good writer and her characterizations are deep enough to be interesting but not so deep as to be boring. Love everything she writes and I highly recommend this book, the start of the Search and Rescue series.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Quilting a New Interest

This is what I'm doing now.

Oh, I'm still doing other things but with the loss of writing in my life, I've found creative outlet in other places. Still trying to knit socks (and failing terribly once I hit the heel/gusset). Still playing with skulls (2 sales in my Etsy shop).

But sewing. Quilting. Big wow. It's a craft I know I can get better at. And even something that isn't very good (like the above quilt) is still awesome.

I miss writing but I'm accepting that it's done. I love this new phase in my life though. My new bliss: rediscovering literary fiction, fabric, yarn, coffee drinks and family.

Happy me.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Magic Triumphs by Ilona Andrews

(After rereading this post, I decided a warning was in order because I didn't want to rewrite it, lol.


You probably will be confused reading this post unless you are familiar with the Kate Daniels world. I'm so fearful of spoilers that I usually end up saying nothing at all ...)

Kate has come a long way from her origins as a loner taking care of paranormal problems in post-Shift Atlanta. She’s made friends and enemies. She’s found love and started a family with Curran Lennart, the former Beast Lord. But her magic is too strong for the power players of the world to let her be.
Kate and her father, Roland, currently have an uneasy truce, but when he starts testing her defenses again, she knows that sooner or later, a confrontation is inevitable. The Witch Oracle has begun seeing visions of blood, fire, and human bones. And when a mysterious box is delivered to Kate’s doorstep, a threat of war from the ancient enemy who nearly destroyed her family, she knows their time is up.
Kate Daniels sees no other choice but to combine forces with the unlikeliest of allies. She knows betrayal is inevitable. She knows she may not survive the coming battle. But she has to try.
For her child.
For Atlanta.
For the world.

This is the last book of the Kate Daniels story arc and it's action packed with a lot of feels. There were surprises (for me), especially with how Roland was handled - that was not how I thought it would be - and although some characters had resolution, others didn't, which is totally real life and makes me hopeful for many more stories in this world. 
I don't think I've read an Ilona Andrews book that I haven't enjoyed and this book was no exception. With one caveat.

I'm not sure how to say this properly: the book was full of epic material and could conceivably have had 700 pages. However, the story had to be told in 336 pages, according to my Kindle. I thought at the time I was reading it that there was a lot of jumping around. Months were covered in this book (and it's already a year after the last book) but it was like the authors were skipping a stone across a lake and we, the readers, got to see the the very tip of the iceberg(s). (Talk about mixing your metaphors!) Some plot lines were just dropped, others hinted at further books, but they all left me vaguely dissatisfied.

Whether skipping ahead and numerous plot lines detract or adds to the story depends on the reader, I suppose. Either way, it doesn't change the fact that these authors can WRITE and they are storytellers supreme. I read Iron and Magic before Magic Triumphs, as they suggested, and that is why I had supposed a different ending for Roland.

This perception of mine regarding stone skipping does not negate the fact that I love the book, love the characters and can't wait for book 2 of the Iron Covenant series and/or any other book about this world the authors might want to give birth to.

Magic Triumphs is not the book I consider their best in this series; that would be Magic Breaks because ... omg, the feels! The trust. The love. the courage and committment.

I have to admit the solution to the Roland problem disappointed me (and the stone skipping). Therefore if I were grading (because y'all know I don't, right?) I would give this book 4 stars and/or a B rather than the five everyone else is gifting it.

Oh, and Dali - WTF???

Friday, August 31, 2018

To All the Books I've Loved Before

Just a quick recap of some recent books I've read:

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North. Harry is a man who dies and is reborn back into his old life. Again and again. Interestingly, it wasn't interesting. DNF, unfortunately.

The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis. It was... interesting. It was almost like a YA Jane Doe but more complicated and nowhere near as satisfying. I enjoyed it though. A teenage girl mass murderer who falls in love and the unfortunate boy who loves her. Wished for a better ending.

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. Wow. This was a great read. Epic adventure, strong heroine, magic. It felt like I was reading a folklore story handed down from the ages. I couldn't put it down. But dare I say I was a tad frustrated by the ending? (The hero really deserved better and never got redemption. His sister rocked though.)

Sin is a Puppy that Follows You Home by Balaraba Ramat Yakubu. Someone was lauding it on Twitter and it sounded interesting and sat in my Amazon cart forever. It was a surprising book, very different describing a life I couldn't relate to at all, a world of women who are possessions and not necessarily even human and well... I loved it.

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang. Sorry. DNF.

The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker. I didn't know anything about this book when I started reading it. And it was ... well, I'd call it a quiet, epic fantasy. I kept thinking it wasn't my cup of tea but I couldn't stop reading. And even though the ending was like walking into a brick wall, the more I thought about it the more I appreciated it.

I'm currently reading The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. I'd read All the Crooked Saints and it was one of the best books I'd read in years. Raven Boys isn't as magical (then again, I'm still in the beginning) but this woman can write. She's rocking my world and I'm so grateful she's out there. She's also amazing to follow on Twitter and if you aren't, you should. She's magic.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society: the movie


#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • SOON TO BE A NETFLIX FILM • A remarkable tale of the island of Guernsey during the German Occupation, and of a society as extraordinary as its name.
“I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb. . . .

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.

Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.

Lori:  This is one of those books that everybody read when it came out, 90% of the people who read it probably enjoyed it and then promptly forgot it.Watching the movie it was easy to see why it was so forgettable.

The story is just... obvious. There's nothing about it to really promote. The ideas are multitude but none of them are really explored or drawn out. I felt like I was supposed to relate to a group of readers but the story was less about the reading and writing and more about the deep, dark secret of missing resident Elizabeth who disappeared and might be dead.

When the emotional depth of the film is in a character who isn't there... neither is the heart of the film. It was empty. 

The romance wasn't. 

I was very disappointed.

Carolyn:  Oh, I'm so disappointed to read your opinion. Certainly the movie isn't as indepth as the book; in fact it was rather superficial. I would have expected to see scenes from Elizabeth's capitivity or more involvement with the fellow who gave information to the Nazis. And I'm almost positive Juliet stayed in Elizabeth's cottage while she was on the island and found more insight into Elizabeth by doing so.

Still, I enjoyed this movie. It wasn't hard to follow, it didn't piss me off and I liked most of the characters even if they weren't necessarily fully fleshed out. And I really enjoyed the ambience of the 1940's and especially the fashions.  

Lori:  I think maybe there just wasn't the emotional connection in watching the movie as there was in reading the book. Such as, her American fiancee I liked more than the pig farmer (although he was much cuter). And there was no time spent showing the characters really connecting so it fell flat.

Netflix is trying to bring more romance into what they're offering and I appreciate it but so far it's just falling flat for me. There's a disconnect between seeing the characters actually experience each other and engage and just being expected to believe it without really seeing it.

This just fell flat for me. I'm almost sorry to say it because I love romance but I needed and wanted more.

Carolyn: sounds like you need to reread the book.  ;-)

It was an enjoyable movie and even more so if you haven't read the book.Everybody seems so innocent back then, even though I know they weren't. I'm glad Netflix made it; hope they find more inspiration in the romance world.