Book Review: Baba Yaga's Daughter and Other Tales of the Old Races

I just finished reading The Baba Yaga’s Daughter by C.E. Murphy… it was divine.  I felt like I was in an old library, hidden in a corner with a small lamp, devouring a leather-bound book I found inconspicuously mixed in with the fiction when it should have been shelved with ‘fact’.  Like it was handwritten in script with ink and quill and the owner of the library either had no idea what they possessed or were clever enough to shelve it where it would be hidden in plain sight.  The language was lush, the stories interwoven intricately enough to stand on their own but with small hints to broaden the back-story of the others.  I highly recommend this book… either to ready fans who follow her work or as an excellent introduction to the quality of her writing and stories.

(Hi friends, yes, I know - I'm not dead!!  But life has been crazy the past couple years with getting laid off -twice- finding new jobs, buying a car, moving, getting puppies, etc. etc. etc.  So I've even barely been reading!!  Thankfully this book came my way to get me back in the saddle and it was worth it!!!  Don't worry, I have been reading posts, just not posting.)

Addict Abby

Author Review: Angie Fox

I considered doing just a 'book' review but I read two of her books this week and they are part of a larger series I don't think I've (sadly) taken the time to review as of yet.  So, consider this like a book review on steroids. :)

I met Angie Fox in Columbus, Ohio during the Romantic Times con about a year ago.  I was waiting in line for someone else (sorry!) and she saw my jewelry.  She liked it so much we made a deal: I'd make her a copy and she'd send me a signed copy of her first book.  It was a rather even trade actually.  I also picked up My Zombie Valentine which is a collection of short stories about - you guessed it - love and zombies. (Not necessarily zombie lovin'.  Don't be afraid.) 

A short time later I sent her the jewelry and I got my book:  The Accidental Demon Slayer.  I read it in a day.  Then the next day I went out and bought the second: The Dangerous Book for Demon Slayers.  Again, read it in a day.  Fast forward a few months and I began keeping my eye out for her next book....  But I got my hands on them and this week devoured: A Tale of Two Demon Slayers and The Last of the Demon Slayers (which was my favorite).

To the story!!  I'll give you the blurb for the first book from Amazon b/c it sums it up pretty well:

Prim and proper preschool teacher Lizzie Brown is on the verge of her thirtieth birthday when her hitherto unknown grandmother shows up, quickly followed by a demon erupting out of her toilet who Lizzie surprisingly manages to blast into “a million flecks of light.” Raised by distant adoptive parents, Lizzie had no idea that she was born to be a demon slayer. Her granny, a biker who communes with spirits in a metal lawn shed, then takes her to join her coven of senior biker witches who will help her defeat the demons who want to kill Lizzie before she can go after them. Along the way, Lizzie meets sexy shape-shifter Dimitri Kallinkikos, a sometime griffin who claims to be her protector but may have a hidden agenda that will take her straight to hell.

There is alot of comedy in the books.  Little things (and some big) that keep you snickering while you move along the story.  They are well-paced, have good solid action, and often take a surprising turn.

But what I love most is Lizzie.  Angie explores the two warring sides of Lizzie: the uptight, list making, scheduled preschool teacher vs. the danger seeking, confident, ninja star slinging demon slayer.  She does take advangage fo the comedic side of these things but there is also the subtle dig into her psyche as she learns that she doesn't have to choose one side over the other, she can still have a bit of her old personality.  Her life radically changes but her core being is still there.  This also comes into play with her love life... but I don't want to give anything away. 

I've really enjoyed Angie's books.  Her main character kind of reminds me of Linda Robertson's main character Persephone from the Arcane Circle series - someone who you'd want to be friends with, who always pushes themselves to find the answer, but isn't afraid to ask for help.  I truly invest in Lizzie and so ride the tensions in the book with her very closely.  This last book really had me.  It was pretty awesome.

I hate going too far into detail and giving everything away so needless to say, I highly recommend this series.  If you like Katie McAllister's Aisling series, Dakota Cassidy's Accidental series, Linda Robertson's Arcane Circle series, then you will probably like this one.  (These are all also other series I highly recommend!!)  Let me know if you've read it or pick it up!! :)
Join the Dark Side

May the Force Be with Katie

I'm behind on my internet... I know.  I just found "May the Force be with Katie" today.  And wow.  Just wow. 

There was one article that said something that kind of annoyed me:

Here is the quote:
It's tough to lay out anti-bullying rules for kids so young, but tougher still to know how to protect the bully's perennial target: geeks, nerds and anybody whose interests stray from the norm.

But riddle me this... are we (as in geeks, nerds, etc.) really so far from the "norm" anymore?  I like lists so let me list some things that are probably considered geeky, etc. and yet are HUGELY popular and mainstream:

1. WOW (aka World of Warcraft) - sci-fi/fantasy video game with MILLIONS of players around the world

2. Harry Potter - a glasses wearing wizard yet probably one of the most popular books series in the world.   (You can't tell me that Harry isn't a little bit nerdy.  And look at Hermione?  And sweet dorky Ron.  I love these guys!  These are the people I would have wanted to hang-out with at school.)

3. Comic-Based Movies... and aren't comic books still considered geeky?  I mean, Superman has been around for ages.  Even redone a couple times.  Spiderman.  X-Men & Wolverine.  Thor.  The Green Lantern.  Iron Man... shall I go on?

4. Comic Cons - 10's of thousands of people CRAM themselves into venues, often in homemade costumes of their favorite comic, anime or sci-fi fantasy series.  (Homemade stuff used to be geeky too but it's seeing a comeback thankfully since I'm a craftaholic.)

5. Glee - I was in Show Choir, which is basically what Glee is.  What I wouldn't have done for that show to be around a decade ago because, despite the fact that the Glee group is somewhat ostracized, I think the show is helping garner more popularity for these kind of groups.

6. Star Wars - A hugely popular book and movie series seen around the world I think... or at least around a lot of it.

7. Star Trek - See above. :)  (Oh, Captain Picard, I still think you're the hottest captain to date!!  Bald is sexy, baby!)

I could go on, but I think you get the point.  Is being 'geeky' really something outside of 'the norm' or is it so uncool to be interested in these things when so many people are into them?  Isn't that the definition of 'popular culture'?  Something that so many people are interested in that the movie studios and book publishers are willing to invest in them because they'll get a huge return?

People are still carrying around the 1950's definition of cool: jock, cheerleader, etc.  But do you know how many of them are also into Star Wars or Comic-based movies, etc.?  When are we going to get over this and just be happy being who we are?

But back to Katie and being yourself - I did feel that the most important part of her story was that she talked to her mother and that her mother rallied for support.  My sixth grade year is referred to as my "Year of Hell" in my household.  I wouldn't have survived had I not talked to my mom about it, had she not been supportive, and had she not apparantly had weekly phone conversations with my homeroom teacher.  (I didn't know that last portion for years.)  But because of that and the constant support at home from both of my parents (and even my sister who apparently kept some bullies away from me and I didn't notice either... yeah, I was kind of innocent and oblivious to a lot... well protected), I am happy with who I am.  Yes, I have self-doubts and struggle with weight-issues, but I overall am happy in my life and adore my family and those things don't dictate how I choose to express myself.  And I know that it all stems from the fact that my mom and I started talk when I was young.  I wasn't afraid to tell her the big stuff.  I'm still not.  TMI is not something you hear in my family. 

So I guess I kind of have two points to this post: 1. Being geeky is universal now and we all just need to be loud and proud! and 2. the love and support of one's family is one of the greatest gifts out there.
Writing Wretro Woman

My Short Story & Overdue Book Reviews

So... I've started researching places I can submit a short story.  There is so much to go through!! (Data and site, not the submitting process.)  We'll see how it goes.  You know I'll update you all.

Other than that, I owe you 9 book reviews:

The Hollow Crown by Diana Pharoah Francis (her best yet!!)
The Accidental Human by Dakota Cassidy (funny and moving - I was impressed)

3 of the Broken Heart series by Michelle Bardsley
Wait till Your Vampire Gets Home
Over My Dead Body
Come Hell or High Water
(Read one a day, 3 days in a row, just like the first three.)

Dead Matter by Anton Strout (I so love this series)

The Accidental Demin Slayer by Angie Fox (Funny, unexpected, and Ms. Fox has excellent taste in jewelry.)

How to Knit a Love Song by Rachael Herron (A sweet love story)

Savvy by Ingrid Law (YA UF - funny, fast, and recommended for all kids!)

Yeah... just a few.  Eesh.  I read 8 of those in two weeks.  Now I haven't read anything in two weeks.  Guess I filled up my brains. :)  But I've had incredibly good luck and have really gotten into each book.  And I read more than just Urban Fantasy which I haven't in quite awhile, so that was cool.  I really really need to get full reviews up b/c there were some great books in that pile!!!  (So feel free to bug me about them!)

Goofy Mal

Christmas Present Pictures, Long Distance Friends, and Tom Foolery

So I'm a giant dork.  I'm sure all of you get that by now... :) In fact, most of you, my friends, probably have a least a little dork in you, which is why I feel such a kinship. :)  Anyway, for Christmas, I crocheted my poor little arms off and made hats and scarves for a lot of family and a few friends.  One such friend finally sent me pictures of she and our other friend (oh how vague I am) wearing the hats and scarves I made for them.  And upon seeing these pictures, I can see why these - these are my people. :)

I present: Diana Pharoah Francis and Christy K*muffle*

What's that you say?  That's not dorky?  Fine.  Let's take it up a notch.

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Ah, there... all are amazing and I highly recommend them!!  Go, buy, read, and enjoy!!!

Book Review: The Last Christian

I recently read The Last Christian by David Gregory.  It's a Christian science fiction novel and, boy, does it make you think.  I didn't know what to expect from this novel because I've never read anything by David Gregory but overall I really enjoyed it.  There was just one thing that bugged me: ONE character he writes from the first person point of view.

Before I get into that, let me give you blurb from the back cover:

In the future it's possible to live forever, but at what cost?

2088 A.D.

Missionary daughter Abigail Caldwell emerges from the jungle for the first time in her thirty-four years, the sole survivor of a mysterious disease that killed her village. Abby goes to America, only to discover a nation where Christianity has completely died out. A curious message from her grandfather assigns her a surprising mission: re-introduce the Christian faith in America, no matter how insurmountable the odds.
But a larger threat looms. The world's leading artificial intelligence industrialist has perfected a technique for downloading the human brain into a silicon form. Brain transplants have begun, and with them comes the potential of eliminating physical death altogether—but at what expense? 
As Abby navigates a society grown more addicted to stimulating the body than nurturing the soul, she and Creighton Daniels, a historian troubled by his father's unexpected death, become unwitting targets of powerful men who will stop at nothing to further their nefarious goals. Hanging in the balance—the spiritual future of all humanity.

I noticed a couple parallels between Abby and Jesus that made me nervous at first, but it never really went beyond the fact that she was in her earlier thirties and 'pure' in that she had never been inundated by society and the strong secular point of view that clashed with her faith.

Dr. Daniels is the one who is written in the first person.  I could see why Mr. Gregory may have done this... to give the reader a deeper look into the emotional state and thought process of a contemporary human in the book who encounters the worst of his fellow Americans, let alone a woman of a faith he has only read about... Despite all that, I don't think it quite achieved those goals (IF that's why he did it).

One of the most impressive aspects of the book was the amazing researching that Mr. Gregory must have put into building a future United States.  It feels very realistic.  The movement from communication via cell phones and email to virtual reality plants in our brains felt very organic... so much so that I'm really freaked out my kids' kids may do something like that. *shudder*

But in a society whose focus is very much on self and nothing beyond their own sphere of influence, it's an appropriate fit.  People have lost touch with 'the bigger picture' although they now have access to more.  All forms of religion have been eschewed as society has declared 'self' the most important thing to focus on because religion was just a set of rules and the dogmas of so many religions caused more bad than good (so society said).

Mr. Gregory moves Abby through this world that she is overwhelmed by and as she works with Dr. Daniels, they both learn about their opposing points of view.  The compare/contrast was interesting and well written so you absorbed it without realizing it.

Even if you aren't a Christian, this book makes you take stock of what you value and think about how changing part of your anatomy to a mechanical piece (no matter how advanced) would change your perception of the world.  I recommend this book for everyone.

(This review is not doing the book justice but for the life of me I cannot find my notes!!!!  If you want more, let me know or ask questions and I'll be glad to discuss it with you.)

You can buy the book here.
This was book was provided for review by WaterBrook Multnomah.

Romantic Times and the Latino Lover

So my sister, our 'adopted sister', her husband, and another friend all made shirts for our friend and author Linda Robertson (I've done review on her books Vicious Circle and Hallowed Circle).  We got into the book fair and beelined (as best you can with hundreds of women and tables jam packed into a room) for her table and surprised her b/c apparently her man can keep a secret. :)  Shannon and Beth were smart enough (the tees were all them) to make one for Linda who stripped right there (she had a tank on under another shirt) and put it on to wear for the signing.  It was awesome.  We had tons of people ask about them.

Then I found the sensual and sexual Mark Henry.  I gave him a little make-up gift since I have not been all a Plaguecarrier should be for the past many moons.  So we 'kissed and made up' (no real kissing - my husband would kill us!).  He graciously vandalized all my copies of his books and invited my and the gang to the League of Reluctant Adults party that night.

From there I dashed about to get signatures for the books I'd brought with me.  Dakota Cassidy had to sign ALL of hers b/c I hadn't bought them til after I met her two RT's ago in Pittsburgh.  And just as I predicted, she sold out of books! :)  B/c she's a sexy bitch.  Then I found Jackie Kessler and Caitlin Kittridge only to find that girl in front of me bought the last copy of Black & White!!  I was sooooooo disappointed.  Guess I'll just have to order it online.  I picked up the latest Ann Aguirre and had her sign my second Jax book.  She, Rachel Vincent and even Dakota remembered me from 2 years ago!!  I was impressed.  And God bless Dakota - she even noticed I'd lost weight. 

Last year I won the third book in the Michele Bardsley vampire series and had gotten completely hooked ont he series.  Though I was behind a few books b/c of job loss and lack of funds to feed my addiction.  She was so awesome and totally gave me a tshirt when I explained my sob story.  I'm quickly catching up though... I read book 4 Friday and half of book 5 today!!  You'll get reviews once I finish book 6. :)  Apparently I can only do reviews once I've read 3 books for her.  But I got to hang out with her later too which rocked.

Let's see... oo - I also recently picked up a book at the grocery store b/c it was shiny, the author's name was Melissa Mayhue, it was Scottish historical, and had magic... like kismet!!  And the author was there!!  So I told her I'd just bought her book and why.  We had some chuckles and chatted for a good 5 minutes (I promise I didn't block anyone from her table! It was still early!).

Finally I jumped in line and waited for 30 minutes for Jeannie Frost to sign all of my Kat and Bones books. She's such a quiet sweet person.  After that I wandered around and met a few people - Crystal Jordan, Carrie Ryan (yes, Brian, I bought her book), and more... Stacia Kane had an awesome blue wig on.  She's normally platinum blonde but I think I liked the light teal blue better!! 

Oh, and I met Barry Eisler.  He'd met my friend Stephen earlier and recognized that we were wearing the same shirt.  I introduced myself and he was like 'you must be Stephen's friend!'  I haven't read any of his work either so I picked up a book.  He really does have perfect hair... you kind of just want to run your fingers through it... and this is coming from me, who rejoiced mightily when my hubby shaved his head b/c I like 'em bald.

Next our merry little band (Linda, her friend Laura, Shannon, Beth, Stephen, Costie, and two friends from PA (VA - yes, that's her name) and NY (Todd)) went to Mongolian BBQ and gorged.  It was so good.  And we were so loud. :)  But it wasn't as busy as we feared it may be and so we weren't disturbing too many people.  :) 

After some photo ops and fingers, we went back to the hotel and simply vegged for a few hours on the second floor in a lobby area.  Mark found us and convinced us all to wait and stay for the party later.  OH!!  I got to meet the wonderful Zombie Joe and his lovely wife Robin.  (He's the one who got me hooked on Alex Bledsoe.)  Then finally, we meandered upstairs to the League of Reluctant Adult party.

It was fun. There was Rock Band... and the Wii version.  Mark played the drums... Shannon said he looked like he was having a seizure or something the way he pounded on the poor drums... they kept drifting away from him.  We also stood around and chatted...

And now that is how I met my Latino Lover... ok, I really make no claims to him.  But a writer (who will remain nameless) decided (in his somewhat drunken haze) that I was pretty b/c he doesn't like really skinny girls (gee, thanks?).  He asked me if I was married.  I flashed the rock and said 'very much so'.  He decided he was going to kill off my husband and whisk me away.  Then he showed me a picture of his son who was in his late 20's.  I said 'oh, we're the same age'.  This did not deter him.  Thankfully, he mostly behaved, just a little dirty talk which I mostly deflected.  It definitely made the end of the evening interesting.... heehee

Not long after that we had to make our way home.  There were many fond farewells and 'can't wait to see you next time's then the long drive home which my wonderful sister was kind enough to take care of.  I was awake for most of it only drifting off a few times but just for a minute or two until my head flopped forward.  And that's it in a nutshell!  I only have a few pics.  I have to compile some from my friends then I'll try to post them here too.

Book Review: Silver Borne

I have never been disappointed by a Patricia Briggs book.  The Alpha and Omega series doesn't blow my mind like the Mercy Thompson set, but it's still a good read.  And once again, she's done it.  In fact, this may be one of my favorites (except for Hobb's Bargain... that's in my top ten books of all time).  But Silver Borne... is definitely one of her masterpieces.

Collapse )I read the book in one day.  Yes, I know I do that alot but only for the good ones - only for those who story I have to finish b/c I've invested that much of myself.  And that always speaks to me of good writing.

If you aren't fan of the Mercy Thompson series, you should definitely become one.  Even on her fifth book in the series, Briggs hasn't lose the momentum or depth that so many series do.  If fact, it may just get better as Mercy grows.  And her cover art just rocks. :)

I'm done now... go, skaddale off to the bookstore and read, people!!