Monday, December 26, 2022

An Anita Blake Limited Edition Lot Find I REFUSED to Leave Behind

Okay. Okay. Okay. So, Anita Blake and I have beefed back and forth for years. I stopped reading the series for a few years, jumped back on, stopped again, and recently decided to jump back on to catch up on Blake's (and Hamilton's) latest offering with 2020's Sucker Punch and 2021's Rafael. I had some deep, ripping issues with 2018's Serpentine; I welcome you to find the video in which I shared my concerns.

Nevertheless, my continuing to read Hamilton on and off is driven chiefly by the state of nostalgia her work generates. Summer of 2007. Just discovering how the urban fantasy/action woman stories stretched outside Buffy meant everything during that time. Not to mention how incredible the first nine Anita Blake books were (though I've gradually become accustomed to the tone change after book nine).

Friday, December 9, 2022

#FridayReads ~ More Carolyn G. Hart Despite a "Break"

"A group of Christie buffs. . .In honor of Agatha Christie's one hundredth birthday, mystery bookstore owner Annie Laurance Darling plans a week-long celebration of mystery, treasure hunts, title clues, and Christie trivia. Yet even as the champagne is chilling and the happy guests begin arriving on Broward's Rock Island, Annie feels a niggling sense of doom. But the last thing she or her guests expect is that the scheduled fun and mayhem will include a real-life murder. The unexpected arrival of Neil Bledsoe, the most despised book critic in America, was sure to raise a few hackles. An advocate of hard-boiled detection and gory true crime, Bledsoe drops a bombshell on the devoted Christie assemblage: He's penning a scurrilous biography of the grand dame of suspense herself. Before the first title clue is solved, no less than two attempts are made on Bledsoe's life. Now Annie and her unflappable husband, Max Darling, find themselves trying to stop a murder in the making-only the first corpse isn't the one they're expecting. . .and it isn't the last."


Now, see, I told my ass this: “Don’t you pick up another Death on Demand book and ruin your appetite for them with the fourth book read in a row." My intention was to read within a different series or genre. To get out from underneath Carolyn G. Hart's fantastic cozy series for a hot minute. And, well, knock some of these unread titles off my shelves before this latest package of books arrive tomorrow (YIKES). Yet, the work week was finished. The rain was pouring. The coffee was brewing. Listen, everything in life was in order for some more familiar, cozy mystery reading. Thus, here arrives The Christie Caper by Carolyn G. Hart (Death on Demand #7).

So I'm already fifty pages into the book and loving it. Wholly absorbed in all matters (from personal to mysterious) stacked within this entry. I'm still getting to know the suspicious characters, as Hart does a great job of putting at least five or six of them in a room to see who behaves in whichever way to get readers to "know" them. And the apparent–though not quite yet established as such–victim is particularly spirited and nasty this go’round. But on the other hand, the main protagonist, Annie, remains pleasant and inviting as our central guide to the mystery. The same can be said for the side characters.

Anyway, this book puts an evident and strictly specific emphasis on its references to Agatha Christie and her works. Every other page does some job in ensuring not to lead readers away from that focus and how much these references operate as clues as well. But by book seven, readers will already have established that Agatha Christie is highly revered and favored by Carolyn G. Hart. So it was only a matter of time before she would draw up a mystery and cast centered around an Agatha Christie convention. And the "draw up" is dedicated and fierce in this entry.

I have yet to indulge in much of Christie's work to get Hart's references, but I'm here for Hart all weekend long as is.

Happy #FridayReads

Thursday, December 8, 2022

Reading some Death on Demand by Carolyn G. Hart

Carolyn G. Hart's Honeymoon with Murder and A Little Class on Murder are books numbers four and five of her award-winning Death on Demand series. Death on Demand itself is a mystery-themed bookstore on a South Carolina island called Boward's Rock. The store is run by a woman named Annie Laurance, who becomes Annie Darling per her eventual marriage to her beau, Max. Nonetheless, as a mystery bookstore owner, Annie is deeply dedicated to everything surrounding the mystery genre–so she knows her stuff. A cast of supporting characters are there as well with equal appreciation for loving and conversing about mystery books. As readers, we are privy to much of these conversations about various mysteries and the authors who write them. Blended so well into the overall narrative, you, the reader, suddenly find yourself intrigued by anecdotal information on, say, Agatha Christie and/or Ross MacDonald. The list is endless.

Meanwhile, the author is telling and selling you a great murder mystery with all the operating components that make these books cozy. Yet, they are so, so much more. For one, they are apt and sharper than many nowadays cozies I've read that seem to prioritize lunacy and love triangles as the standard. Secondly, while some primary and supporting cast may annoy me sometimes, Hart delivers humor/comedy like the pro she is. I sometimes run across cozies where authors need to learn how nuance lands a comedic moment. Or lack the ability to put some intelligence behind comedy to keep it from selling eye-rolls and cringe page after page. As a matter-of-fact, I think "nuance" is the correct term to describe Hart's ability, because outside notes of humor her characters simply come off the page to me. I respect it; Carolyn G. Hart won multiple awards for a freakin’ reason.

This all aside, I list three things that keep me returning to this series (aside from Hart's ability to plot).

1. I've entirely warmed up to Hart's duo, Annie and Max. I mention this because I typically wouldn't like the way romances are handled in cozy mysteries–especially those that insist on beginning a romance with a love triangle. Nevertheless, earlier in the series I thought Annie was rude; her and I didn't exactly click. In contrast, Max got on my nerves as the designated love interest in many cozy series. The further into the series I read, the further my view of the two changed. 

Monday, November 28, 2022

Eternal Sailor Moon S.H. Figuarts Unboxing #sailormoon #tamashinations

You can purchase an Eternal Sailor Moon S.H. Figuarts yourself on Amazon via my affiliate link HERE.

"Towels Channels Branigan" serving tray is featured on my Society6 store HERE

Friday, November 25, 2022

Should a Jordan Fan Read Fallon?

Lately, all this talk about Robert Jordan has put me in the mood to check out that one copy of his Reagan O’Neal Fallon books my library has to offer. While I’ve always seen/hear about these books, reading Michael Livingston’s Origins of the Wheel of Time laid out the story as to how this trilogy of books came to be. However, the question is how worth it for Wheel readers to take on Jordan’s Historical Fiction offerings?

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Quotes from The Grief Recovery Handboook

John W. James and Russel Friedman’s The Grief Recovery Handbook came into my reading life via some conspicuous means a few years ago. There’s a story behind all that–as you’ve probably picked up. However, I hardly care to revisit that time and how this book came into my sphere of thought. Though I am grateful that it has. Even so, I’ve held on to this practical book for the past three years as a precaution; a “just in case” prep tool.

Sadly, that day has arrived and I found myself pulling this off my shelf to finally (and timely) seek answers through it to find some relief from some of the grief I have been going through. Now we all know grief works, progresses and operates on its own time and differently within each individual. But all the same, with that in mind, I wanted to share some of the quotes that really resonated with me in this book that helped me make sense of my own grief these past two months.


The first one is simply how the authors defined grief as “the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change in a familiar pattern of behavior.” Of course, your and everyone else's definitions may vary. However, I appreciate simply seeing theirs in plain, practical terms. As this is exactly what I've felt personally. And this "conflicting feelings" brews one of the most bizarre, out-of-body experiences I've ever felt. Empty and confused.

Monday, November 21, 2022

Origins of The Wheel of Time Book Chat

November 15
th (which was this past Tuesday) marks a full year since I finished and closed my reading of the final book in The Wheel of Times series, A Memory of Light. Still remember that day. Still remember when I began reading the series in 2019. Still remember many of my high points and low points. And frankly I still miss reading the books, however exhausting the journey had been. So, naturally, seeing a WOT-ish book coming out earlier this month, there was no question I was going to grab it. To my bookstore I went to grab a copy of Origins of The Wheel of Time by Michael Livingston. 

Now the thing is that I don't have a "galaxy brain" when it comes to all the ins and outs and machinations of The Wheel of Time, in both the intricacy of the overall story as well as the fandom. So, no, I'm not gripping the deeper threads of details. I'm not chewing on theories and conspiracies related to WOT's all encompassing being. Heck, I don't even have a connoisseurship when it comes to reading and critiquing fantasy novels in general. But this book was great for me as well, because of my casual interest. I mainly had an interest in Jordan's writing style, choices, and the string of ideas implemented in The Wheel of Time books themselves. I do love taking the opportunity to learn something from an author as is.

Nonetheless, I wanted to share a few of my takeaways from indulging in this book. First, my interest lay primarily in the first half of the book where the author focused on relaying Robert Jordan's (or his actual name James Oliver Rigney, Jr.) beginnings as a child up until adulthood and his ultimate passing before the series was completed. It's always cool to relate how an author's life experiences translates into their fictional world; here, Jordan had a plethora of life experiences he could somehow fashion and relay into The Wheel of Time. Nevertheless, though I've heard the story, I was particularly interested in how The Wheel of Time came about from its original conception, the timeframe in which Jordan mulled over it before writing, the subsequent publications of the books, and his final days in maintaining his work for afterwards. All of these are shared within this book. Shoot, for a moment I felt as if I were reading a memoir. Nevertheless, I appreciated this portion of the book because it made me feel closer to Jordan and The Wheel of Time.

(Side story here. The Wheel of Time was actually introduced to my reading life after Jordan's death in 2007, despite my having started reading the books twelve years later. At the time, I was working at a Borders in Atlanta. After the news of his death, several of the staff members were broken. I specifically remember one assistant manager at her desk bawling her eyes out. I was bemused, but aware at how the expressed gravity of the situation was how The Wheel of Time would never be finished now. Anyway, of course the books were suddenly flying off the shelves, so I grew increasingly curious.

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Patricia Cornwell LIVID Hype


NEW RELEASE TIME: Anywhere You Run by Wanda M. Morris

"It’s the summer of 1964 and three innocent men are brutally murdered for trying to help Black Mississippians secure the right to vote. Against this backdrop, twenty-one year old Violet Richards finds herself in more trouble than she’s ever been in her life. Suffering a brutal attack of her own, she kills the man responsible. But with the color of Violet’s skin, there is no way she can escape Jim Crow justice in Jackson, Mississippi. Before anyone can find the body or finger her as the killer, she decides to run. With the help of her white beau, Violet escapes. But desperation and fear leads her to hide out in the small rural town of Chillicothe, Georgia, unaware that danger may be closer than she thinks.

Back in Jackson, Marigold, Violet’s older sister, has dreams of attending law school. Working for the Mississippi Summer Project, she has been trying to use her smarts to further the cause of the Black vote. But Marigold is in a different kind of trouble: she’s pregnant and unmarried. After news of the murder brings the police to her door, Marigold sees no choice but to flee Jackson too. She heads North seeking the promise of a better life and no more segregation. But has she made a terrible choice that threatens her life and that of her unborn child? 

Two sisters on the run—one from the law, the other from social shame. What they don’t realize is that there’s a man hot on their trail. This man has his own brand of dark secrets and a disturbing motive for finding the sisters that is unknown to everyone but him . . ."

Well, it’s finally time/here. Wanda M. Morris is back with her second book, Anywhere You Run. I know I can’t be the only one waiting impatiently for this release, AFTER reading the incredibleness that came from her first book, All Her Little Secrets. Anyway, I’m going through a difficult life experience right now, so my reading has been rather slow. But for sure I’ll be getting to this book before the end of the year. Wanda M. Morris can tell a story!

Thursday, October 6, 2022

LIVID for Patricia Cornwell's 26th Kay Scarpetta Book

"Chief medical examiner Kay Scarpetta is the reluctant star witness in a sensational murder trial when she receives shocking news. The judge’s sister has been found dead. At first glance, it appears to be a home invasion, but then why was nothing stolen, and why is the garden strewn with dead plants and insects?

Although there is no apparent cause of death, Scarpetta recognizes telltale signs of the unthinkable, and she knows the worst is yet to come. The forensic pathologist finds herself pitted against a powerful force that returns her to the past, and her time to catch the killer is running out . . ."

Y’all. I am so glad Patricia Cornwell is back with Kay Scarpetta. To think how 2016’s Chaos was potentially the last book in the series. Until we got Autopsy last Fall as a series revive. NOW we immediately get ANOTHER new one in Livid. Which is due later this month. I don’t want to wait until the freakin’ 25th!

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Brandon Sanderson's The Way of Kings - October Reading Jumpstart

"Roshar is a world of stone and storms. Uncanny tempests of incredible power sweep across the rocky terrain so frequently that they have shaped ecology and civilization alike. Animals hide in shells, trees pull in branches, and grass retracts into the soilless ground. Cities are built only where the topography offers shelter.

It has been centuries since the fall of the ten consecrated orders known as the Knights Radiant, but their Shardblades and Shardplate remain: mystical swords and suits of armor that transform ordinary men into near-invincible warriors. Men trade kingdoms for Shardblades. Wars were fought for them, and won by them.

One such war rages on a ruined landscape called the Shattered Plains. There, Kaladin, who traded his medical apprenticeship for a spear to protect his little brother, has been reduced to slavery. In a war that makes no sense, where ten armies fight separately against a single foe, he struggles to save his men and to fathom the leaders who consider them expendable.

Brightlord Dalinar Kholin commands one of those other armies. Like his brother, the late king, he is fascinated by an ancient text called The Way of Kings. Troubled by over-powering visions of ancient times and the Knights Radiant, he has begun to doubt his own sanity.

Across the ocean, an untried young woman named Shallan seeks to train under an eminent scholar and notorious heretic, Dalinar's niece, Jasnah. Though she genuinely loves learning, Shallan's motives are less than pure. As she plans a daring theft, her research for Jasnah hints at secrets of the Knights Radiant and the true cause of the war."


I decided to pull this 1000-something-page epic fantasy book off my shelf. To do what? I guess actually–finally–attempt to read it. All intimidation of its length aside, Brandon Sanderson’s first The Stormlight Archive book, The Way of Kings, was a planted consideration for epic fantasy goodness post my reading of Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time series. And, as of late, I could use a fantasy distraction more than ever.

Friday, September 23, 2022

Abandoning Bewitching Mystery Series by Madyln Alt

I'm officially calling it. After attempting to read the second-to-the-final book in Madelyn Alt's bewitching cozy mystery series, I've decided I can not take on the penultimate entry nor the final book. It's sad because I really enjoyed this series after reading the first book in 2008. It was around the time when urban fantasy was still in my reading "system". Though categorically Madelyn Alt's series isn't urban fantasy, it still maintains a witch-of-sorts as the main protagonist as a small-town woman named Maggie O'Neill. Regardless, I distinctly remember loving the first two books, taking years off, revisiting the series, and loving the third book most of all. Then the fourth book made for a decent read a few years ago. Then I revisited the series again back in 2020 with the fifth book. This is when I realized I’d just about changed as a reader, and that the series just wasn’t interesting anymore.

Still, I had two books left to go. And I decided maybe now was the time to clear the series off my lifelong reading TBR. 

Well, A With in Time made for a 60-page BORE. The deal is that our resident witch, Maggie, is supposed to overhear a conversation involving a teenager who was found dead of an apparent drug. Concerns about a possible perpetrator of this action are swirling about the local school and community. Nevertheless, somewhere in all this Maggie is supposed to overhear a conversation on the subject and subsequently get the mystery started. However, instead, for 60 pages we've got nothing but Maggie all nervous about her "hot date" (I freakin’ HATE this term) with the handsome Marcus character. She finally got to his house and a red flag threw me when he pulled her onto his lap. You know, grown women sitting on men's laps just do something to me.

Anyway, Maggie gets a call about her sister, who is at the hospital preparing to have twins. For whatever reason, this call was urgent. Anyway (again), we get to see Maggie’s mother act a fool. Her grandfather in a wheelchair acts like a fool (another pet peeve of mine is the grandmother/father character who is desperately drawn as amusing with his or her obnoxious antics). Maggie’s father is blah. Meanwhile, Marcus is circulating around her family as their new favorite bit of interest.

So what’s happened with the allegedly murdered teen within these 60 pages? Not a damned thing of interest. It was just… BORING! The sad part is that I actually like Maggie’s voice. But, man is she underused as a character stuck in a hospital waiting on her sister to give birth or some mess. Give me the darn mysteryyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!

Anyway, I’m abandoning the series. I won’t get rid of the books. But they are certainly being pushed to the back of the shelf to make room for more books. Which was my intention upon finishing the series anyway.

I just wanted to see if I could actually complete the last two books. Unfortunately, it's a NO. And I'm cool with that. I have to keep it moving. Plus, I'm really enjoying the book I'm reading in its place.

Monday, September 19, 2022

Guest Post: 3 Tips for Increasing Your Exposure as an Artist by Ian Garza

3 Tips for Increasing Your Exposure as an Artist

Guest Post by Ian Garza of Big On Balance

Getting your work discovered is a life-changing experience, but boosting the visibility of your art can often feel like an uphill battle. Exposure is vital to your future success, whether you're a painter, fashion designer, or crafter. Being proactive, investing in marketing, and expanding your network lets you show more people what you can offer. Follow these tips to boost your profile and attract more clients to your work.

1. Develop a Plan

According to experts, having a clear business plan contributes to your brand's future growth and success. When developing your business plan, it's a good idea to include information about your products or services, target market demographics, and financial needs.

If you are a fashion designer or craft maker, determining how to source materials and whether to sell your work on an e-commerce platform or in a brick-and-mortar store can help you anticipate initial costs. In addition to details regarding your business's finances, your plan should include its operational structure.

There are several options when selecting a business entity, but most artists form either sole proprietorships or LLCs. Each of these offers unique benefits, but the rules and regulations governing them can vary depending on your state, so you should do your research before making a decision. Find out how to start a business with ZenBusiness for the ease they offer.

Friday, September 16, 2022

Friday Friends of the Library Shopping

SOMEBODY COME OVER HERE AND STOP ME! Dude, listen. I am STILL on this “reaching to reclaim urban fantasy” nostalgic reading kick.

Even though half the books I have attempted to read and/or revisit have not worked out. Yet, here I am with this again. Though, truthfully, it happens; one week you’re into this, another week you’re into that. With that said, I went to the library early in the afternoon and just HAD to stop by the Friends of the Library Bookstore. What else would one do with $5 in his pocket, right? Well, yeah. Subsequently, this is the urban fantasy madness that followed…

Urban Shaman by C. E. Murphy has been on my reading wish list since 2007 (which I think admitting is part of my problem). Anyway, the story features a woman ex-cop named Joanne Walker who is part Native American and I believe Irish. The dilemma consists of Joanne attempting to save a woman fleeing a Celtic god who is running what we all understand as the folkloric Wild Hunt. Either way, I crave the adventure of it all. Don't know why. But I do.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Sailor Moon & Mini (mini) Book Haul & Possible Karen Chance Reading

Tuesday seemed like a day for some minor retail therapy. It appears the stars have aligned for some small, small fortunes.

I went to Gamestop early in the afternoon looking for some of those thumb grippers for an Xbox Series X controller. And while that mission was successful, I happened across these Sailor Moon travel hand sanitizer sleeves (or whatever). Now, for any other item/IP/brand/whatever I wouldn't even look twice at purchasing something unnecessary like this. But finding these stacked up shook me to my core. So much so that I knew right away if I didn’t buy one of each character now, I ran the risk of never finding them all at once again. Therefore, I got one of each and kept it moving. The guy at the register was pretty much like "you ain't playing around." Never with Sailor Moon, buddy. Never!

Friday, September 9, 2022

#FridayReads ~ Desperation in Death by J. D. Robb

"New York, 2061: The place called the Pleasure Academy is a living nightmare where abducted girls are trapped, trained for a life of abject service while their souls are slowly but surely destroyed. Dorian, a thirteen-year-old runaway who’d been imprisoned there, might never have made it out if not for her fellow inmate Mina, who’d hatched the escape plan. Mina was the more daring of the two―but they’d been equally desperate.

Unfortunately, they didn’t get away fast enough. Now Dorian is injured, terrified, and wandering the streets of New York, and Mina lies dead near the waterfront while Lt. Eve Dallas looks over the scene.

Mina’s expensive, elegant clothes and beauty products convince Dallas that she was being groomed, literally and figuratively, for sex trafficking―and that whoever is investing in this high-overhead operation expects windfall profits. Her billionaire husband, Roarke, may be able to help, considering his ties to the city’s ultra-rich. But Roarke is also worried about the effect this case is having on Dallas, as it brings a rage to the surface she can barely control. No matter what, she must keep her head clear--because above all, she is desperate for justice and to take down those who prey on and torment the innocent."

Welp. Got my J. D. Robb new release, Desperation in Death. And while I’m naturally enthusiastic to read more of it today, I have to say this entry features a subject that I am worn out exploring within this series.

Nevertheless, I must give one of my favorite series its usual go.

Here’s to book number 55 in J. D. Robb’s In Death series.

Thursday, September 8, 2022

CHOP IT UP: Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews

"When the magic is up, rogue mages cast their spells and monsters appear, while guns refuse to fire and cars fail to start. But then technology returns, and the magic recedes as unpredictably as it arose, leaving all kinds of paranormal problems in its wake.
Kate Daniels is a down-on-her-luck mercenary who makes her living cleaning up these magical problems. But when Kate’s guardian is murdered, her quest for justice draws her into a power struggle between two strong factions within Atlanta’s magic circles.
The Masters of the Dead, necromancers who can control vampires, and the Pack, a paramilitary clan of shapechangers, blame each other for a series of bizarre killings—and the death of Kate’s guardian may be part of the same mystery. Pressured by both sides to find the killer, Kate realizes she’s way out of her league—but she wouldn’t have it any other way..."

Oh, MAN! Check this out, I tried to read this book back some almost-decade ago when I was still in my urban fantasy reading bag. Back then, I couldn’t seem to get around the first chapter. Now–as of my writing this–I’ve read the book page for page successfully. And I have to say the delay wasn’t worth it. Though I have to admit it's one of those books I've been curious about since, and am now happy the experience is behind me. Still, the Kate Daniels series is certainly popular with at least ten books released since her story's 2007 debut. However, I don't feel any desire to go further than said debut, Magic Bites.

So what happened to me with Magic Bites?

For starters, the first 100 pages had it going on. There was a crime scene. Murders to investigate. A law enforcing institution of sorts that's geared toward investigating and solving paranormal/preternatural crimes. Then there's Kate, our local mercenary heroine. She steps on stage appearing as clear-headed and competent in bringing justice to a crime that has unfortunately resulted in the murder of her guardian. So, off the bat, she has a closeness and even deeper stakes in solving this case ("story" box checked). Furthermore, she came armed with a directive and motive as a character ("plot" box checked).

In those first 100 pages, Kate was doing the damned thing; researching, interviews, morgue visits, document gathering, deducing, analyzing, and determining her next angle/action. I was all in, thinking to myself how nice it was to see an urban fantasy character doing actual investigative and procedural work that made sense. No illogical and desperate conclusions. Not too much fumbling. But actual steps. Now I held my breathe a bit because I knew soon she would be swayed to have sexy time with a local vampire or pack leader, per urban fantasy tropes (especially given the book's 2007 publication)! Yet, it was undeniable how Kate in motion provided a level of groundedness to the story, as well as character.

Sadly, the bottom fell out somewhere around 100 pages...

That’s when all I can describe as an over-the-top freakshow extravaganza hijacked Kate's investigative journey, and Kate herself. Now you can take my use of the term "freakshow" as either good or bad when you consider how we're talking about urban fantasy books where werecreatures and vampires generally take center stage. Yet, for darn sure, this change in tone seen in Magic Bites made for a disappointing and unpleasant reading affair.

Saturday, September 3, 2022

No Jane For Me

"Jane Yellowrock is the last of her kind—a skinwalker of Cherokee descent who can turn into any creature she desires and hunts vampires for a living. But now she’s been hired by Katherine Fontaneau, one of the oldest vampires in New Orleans and the madam of Katies’s Ladies, to hunt a powerful rogue vampire who’s killing other vamps.

Amidst a bordello full of real “ladies of the night,” and a hot Cajun biker with a panther tattoo who stirs her carnal desire, Jane must stay focused and complete her mission—or else the next skin she’ll need to save just may be her own..."

Another urban fantasy is an unfortunate non-continuing. About 65 pages and I was rather done with Jane Yellowrock. Her vibe was… unusual. I could only see hot leather and a motorcycle fantasy. And an extraordinarily beautiful tough woman who easily woos the extraordinarily handsome number of men who breathe near her ecosphere. Everybody was hot and hot to trot and rather over-the-top. And much of this spinning of who can be the most desired and sexiest one in the room was all a distraction from a pretty decent plot involving a rogue vampire who is fighting death by draining the blood of many New Orleans relatives. But… but… if only the story, characters, and Jane could have remained focused on this detail.

Don't get me totally wrong, as I thought Jane had an engaging mystery provided within her backstory. And I did like her ability to shift shapes (though I question the Native American angle the author used to shape this). But, overall, the book read too much like hot girl/bad boy. Leather and night teddy for the girls. Tight white t-shirts (with rolled-up sleeves) and ass-hugging jeans for the boys.

If only. If only.

The author was less compelled to enforce those areas instead of the plot.

Keep the plot/story moving.

Stop getting distracted.

Stop with the desperate, romantic side drama…

Leave it to authenticity.

Or give it time to cultivate.

Then again.

Everybody is super hot in looks, as well as desire.

Oh, and don’t forget the sexy energy behind a motorcycle.

Friday, September 2, 2022

#WEEKENDREADS: Half-Resurrection Blues by Daniel Jose Older

In all my latest desires to dive back into reading urban fantasy, I've finally fallen onto my copy of Half-Resurrection Blues by Daniel Jose Older. It's the first book in this Bone Street Rumba series (two other books were released), featuring the first-person narrative of a Puerto Rican man named Carlos Delacruz. Carlos is half-dead. Or what they call an inbetweener. He works for an organization called Council of the Dead. I'm going to spare you and myself in trying to round out and encapsulate what each "inbetweener" and "Council of the Dead" conceive of. Just know Carlos is like an agent of sorts ushered out to put a stop to supernatural problems. In the case of the first book, he has to stop a sorcerer who is also an inbetweener. As well as put a stop to a slew of ngks attacks. Ngks are a phylum of imps. Only they cause plagues and a host of other fatal disturbances. When we’re first introduced to one, it’s actually rather creepy.

I’m 100 pages into the book and, while I don’t follow 100% with the story, I’m enjoying this book a lot more than I thought I would. I was hesitant over the years, but Half-Resurrection Blues is winning me over so far. Placing some of the issues I have so far aside, I think I like the voice of Carlos. There’s a bit of Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlins in it–to a degree (I stress “degree”). Carlos is smooth and charismatic. Though, most of all, he cusses. With him in the lead, the story just kind of propels and glides me forward. Even and despite the work it takes to understand and conceive the urban fantasy landscape the author has built. Now in terms of urban fantasy, Carlos is obviously in the minority as a male protagonist and triple as a man of color. And can't I express how MUCH I appreciate a voice similar in likeness to my own. Call it swag or vernacular or whatever. I just appreciate it and it is what’s largely keeping me engaged.

Still got 226 pages left to see how much happens. And, of course, I’ll always be the first to drop out and say if and why something doesn’t work. But as of now, this is my #WEEKEND READ.

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

No Greywalker For Me


"Harper Blaine was your average small-time P.I. until a two-bit perp's savage assault left her dead for two minutes. When she comes to in the hospital, she sees things that can only be described as weird-shapes emerging from a foggy grey mist, snarling teeth, creatures roaring.

But Harper's not crazy. Her "death" has made her a Greywalker- able to move between the human world and the mysterious cross-over zone where things that go bump in the night exist. And her new gift is about to drag her into that strange new realm-whether she likes it or not."

Whew, chile. What and where do I go from here? Listen, I got about 51 pages into FINALLY reading Kat Richardson's Greywalker before I decided to bail. And I mean my reading spirit was absolutely flooded to the brim with disinterest along this 51-page mark. Despite desiring to read the book for years (and owning it for probably longer), things just didn't work.

So where did it all go wrong for me, personally?

  • Harper Blaine is the first-person main protagonist, and had a voice about as gray as the title itself. Some books can have a decent voice but a good premise to work with. Sometimes it's the opposite, but the voice keeps you glued. Here, Ms. Blaine didn't seem to come alive on the page. It's one of those cases where the author sees his or her character's liveliness differently than the reader, for sure. Which is natural, just like the impression of his or her character will not land with all readers. Blaine didn't land with me. I get the hard-boiled outlook, but she wasn't giving me much else. 

CHOP IT UP: Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire

In my recent travels to help satiate this nostalgic need to read urban fantasy books–per my discovery of the genre in 2007–I have finally read Seanan McGuire's Rosemary and Rue. This is the first book in her October Daye series. Ms. Daye is a half-human half-fae P.I. residing in San Francisco. Nonetheless, being born a mixture of the two, October lives between both the human world and the fae world. P.I. profession aside, there was a time she was a check-out clerk at a local grocery store, alongside a time when she could travel through gateways into fae dwellings. Cool stuff. Right? Well, indeed it was–though I had some problems. 

As far as plot/story, the prologue gives readers a moment into October's role as a P.I. She's on a tracking mission, which ultimately finds her cursed into the body of a koi fish for fourteen years. In the meantime, she's lost her family, which consists of her human husband and child. Essentially, it is believed she ran away from her family or was killed. Anyway, fourteen years later the curse has lifted and she's back in the world anew. And while her family has moved on, October has to start completely over without them. With the help of one duchess-like fae woman named Evening, October slowly gets back on her feet. And it's here that the same woman who helped October finds herself hunted down and assassinated. But not before cursing October to solve her murder and bring her killer(s) to fae justice. Or, heck, justice in general.

So, what were my aforementioned problems?

·    There was a big deal about how October was a private investigator who did pretty dang well for herself. Well, having taken on this new mission to solve a fellow fae's murder, October seemed rather sloppy as a detective to me. Blame it on her being in the body of a koi fish for fourteen years. Blame it on her readjustment to not being so. Blame it on something. Sure. But, otherwise, she wasn't so great at it. To me, she couldn't seem to infer much. Was constantly caught off guard. Suffered multiple bullet wounds and continued to fight her way through bleeding set piece moments. No discernment. No intuition. But there is a reason for that: the actual investigation and plot lacked much for her to even work with. Even so, I wasn't being sold on October's detective abilities. It came across as a vanity title stitched along like many urban fantasy protagonists.


Sunday, August 28, 2022

Lies of Descent Let Down

"The Fallen Gods' War drove the remnants of a victorious army across the ocean in search of a new homeland. A thousand years later, the lifeless continent of Draegora is largely forgotten, a symbol for the regiments that remain. Demons to some. Protectors to others. The power of their god-touched blades has forged a nation, though many resent their absolute control.
Riam and Nola are unknowing descendants of the old world. When it’s discovered they carry enough Draegoran blood to serve in the regiments, they are dragged away from their families to begin training. If they survive, they will be expected to enforce the laws of the covenant, to fight the Esharii tribesmen who raid along the border, and to be judge, jury, and executioners for those accused of crimes.
For Riam, who welcomes his escape from an abusive father, the power to protect those who cannot defend themselves is alluring. For Nola, who wishes to return home, it is a betrayal by all she holds dear.
Neither is given a choice...and neither may ever get the chance to serve."

So let me be clear: THIS BOOK HAD FULL COMMAND OF MY ATTENTION WITHIN THE FIRST 70 PAGES. Unfortunately, by page 136, I could no longer deny the loss of interest. Bad news came in and just never left. So what happened? Well, the worldbuilding portion had gleamings, glimmerings, and gatherings of an indigenous/Native American/tribal nature or coloring to it. Different tribes. Different customs. So forth and so on and a touch icky in all its killing and slaying of each. However, I got tired of trying to keep up with this setting, along with the bloodthristy faction tribes and customs. I got tired of the killing between each tribe, and just the conflict in general. For a moment I found them all villians. Then I began to pick up on what the author was actually obscuring.

Sidebar: There was a scene featuring giant, homicidal wasps that just… did… not… work… for me. As they were attacking, I was thinking to myself “where is this coming from”?

Then there was an issue with the POV. Two young characters carry the overall story. One is named Riam, the other is Nola. While they find themselves together on their journey's start, eventually they are split apart and so goes the adventure I was actually looking forward to reading. Nevertheless, Riam’s narrative grew increasingly boring to me without Nola to bounce off of. His narrative started off really well, as readers got to look into the trauma surrounding his home life. Same applied for Nola, though within a happier context.

However, the more time Riam and the story itself spent away from Nola's perspective, the more my disinterest grew. I suppose I needed a balancing of perspectives to keep the pacing and suspense afloat as a reader watching this world unfold between the two. During the extensive brackets of time spent within Riam’s story, I wish the author took some kind of cue to push in Nola's narrative to keep the interest going. Now it's true I didn't get far enough to witness any changes, but Nola had a breadcrumb moment and from within the pages I've read I was too hungry for more of the loaf. In short, I needed balance to carry me though. And I believe the reversal in perspectives would result in the same feeling, because my issues weren't so much with the characters of Riam and Nola themseleves. As a matter-of-fact, it was the bellicose tribes people who did it in for me. Along with all the cryptic messaging regarding gods and change and evolution and all that jazz.

So, ever inpatient and desperate to find out what the author had in mind for Nola, I did something I hardly ever do. What's that? I peeked at the spoilers. I figured I was done with the story anyway. So why not? Nevertheless, what was Nola’s direction and fate? Well, let’s just say when I found out she was supposed to be a vessel of sorts I immediately was like "forget this, man." The whole women's bodies as obligatory birthing vessels to "usher in a new dawn" just ain’t it for me, personally. I was instantly troubled and sad for Nola.

With this information, I wanted to cry for Nola and the story I was hoping I was getting involving two teens going on a journey together to change the world (ala T. A. Barron or something). But in all the DNF'ing, I realized for those stories I was better left looking into the middle-grade and young adult section. And I'm cool with that.

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