Friday, August 26, 2011

In Honor of Irene, Let's Talk Books...

Specifically, Rachel Caine's weather warden and djinn series.

First up, the weather warden series, which consists of 9 books - Ill Wind * Heat Stroke * Chill Factor * Windfall * Firestorm * Thin Air * Gale Force * Cape Storm * Total Eclipse. There are also short stories on her website.

The series follows Joanne Baldwin, a Warden. What is a Warden, you ask? They control nature. Or try to control it. Contain it, maybe - if they're good at being wardens. They have help, though - djinn. The djinn are elementals, captured and owned (think really pissed off genies in bottles). So when an earthquake happens, or a hurricane is coming, the wardens with the djinn's help can keep them from being complete disasters.

Joanne is called into action to deal with a serious problem. Along the way, she meets David, a free djinn (A really HOT djinn!) and they fall in love. That doesn't exactly please most of the djinn.

In addition, the earth mother is waking up, the contained djinn want their freedom, there are weather wardens who aren't exactly good guys (okay, they're super bad guys), and the old djinn are at war with the new djinn. This all builds through the series until it comes down to a final showdown where choosing sides doesn't necessarily mean good vs. evil.

The characters are well developed, including bit characters, and each has their purpose to propel the story forward. The storyline is smart and exciting. The world is brilliantly conceived. The books are fast paced with tender moments where Joanne has to stop and deal with the shit in her life. Her happiness with David is constantly challenged. There is no guarantee of a happy end for her or any of the characters that you will grow to love.

In addition, there is an offshoot series - the Outcast Season series - from Joanne and David's story. Cassiel, an old world djinn who makes an appearance in their story, gets her own story in trying to deal with the earth mother and Pearl, a really bad djinn that's transformed into something else. Cass is turned human and is forced to learn to live as a human, tho she still needs to draw energy from a warden. Enter Luis. As they race to save the world and Luis's niece, some disastrous, awful stuff happens. The last book in this series isn't out yet. The 3rd book ended on one of those WTH cliffhangers that have me horribly worried for the characters.

So, in honor of Hurricane Irene, which is going to cause *cough* death and destruction in eastern MA *cough* (seriously that's how they're portraying it as they say we're going to have 60 mph winds - whoop dee doo)....anyway, in honor of that, today I am recommending both the Weather Warden and Outcast Season series. Of the two, I'm far more drawn to Cassiel's story because I think her POV is so well written. But, that being said, I highly recommend both. Go. Buy. Before books die out forever or the apocalypse happens....

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hurricane Irene

Do I prep for it? Do I not prep for it? Do I batten down the hatches or not? Geez, weathermen, make up your mind where it's going. I want to know whether I'm going to see a real hurricane or not.

Yesterday, the track showed it going directly over my town & level 2. Then it showed it slightly to the left. Now it's somewhere out past Worcester & level 1. Come on!! I already stocked up on batteries, dry foods and water. WTH?

(And what's the deal with everyone and their brother buying up every last D battery in Massachusetts??) 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Rob Thurman

If you're a huge fan of Rob Thurman, you've probably already heard the news. It's not good. Rob was apparently in an accident sometime last week. She's been in critical condition ever since & has developed pneumonia in both lungs. There is a post from Jayda on Rob's official blog and Lucienne Diver has tweeted that she spoke to Rob's mother. Since these are both reliable sources, it is obviously true.

My stomach is in knots over this. I've blogged about how much I enjoy Rob's books. In addition, I regularly visit her blog. She's a very funny, snarky woman who loves her pets and loves to write. She talks to her fans and has even given us a name - Reavers.

Please, whatever your beliefs, keep Rob in your thoughts and prayers.
(And if you've never read her books, you really should. She is a brilliant writer.)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Stacia Kane's Downside e-books on sale!!!

Quick! While the promotion is on!! You can pick up Unholy Ghosts for 99 cents, Unholy Magic for $4.99 and City of Ghosts for $4.99 on Amazon or B&N. (I recommend Amazon, since B&N is the nemesis of UF lovers like me.)

That means you can pick up all three books (which usually cost $23.97) for $10.97! That's a huge savings.

Stacia's asking fans to spread the word. I've already swung over there & purchased my copies (since I already own them in paperback, I figure they're one of the series I must have on my e-reader for everywhere reading).

 Go. Buy. Chessie, Terrible and Lex are some of my favorite characters. Her books are smart, the world is dark and gritty, the characters are unique and amazingly complex, the storyline is nothing short of brilliant. And I dare you not to love Terrible and lust a little for Lex, right along with messed-up Chessie.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Either I'm in a reading slump or....

...the books I'm picking to read aren't all that good.

I'm not going to mention authors. I'm just going to say this - I have a LOT of books on my TBR shelf. A lot! I've picked up half a dozen books from that pile in the last week. I start them. I get about 40-50 pages in and....meh. I can't continue. Some of these are authors that I like. Some are new authors. Some are paperback. Some are e-reader. Regardless, I can't continue them. They....well, to be perfectly frank, they suck.

It's like trying to walk through a muddy bog that sucks your feet down to shin level with each step, dressed in winter ski gear. Jeez.

I'm looking at that damn TBR pile and I want to stick bamboo under my fingernails rather than pick up another book from it. That's just not good.

I don't think its a slump. Because I've read several books this month that had me on the edge of my seat - books I finished in a day or two. So, I'm left to think that a lot of less than stellar new books are floating around out there right now....

...or maybe it is a reading slump.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A grumpy post...

When we adopted our beast six years ago, my husband promised we would fence in our yard. We'd been talking about doing it for years. (He promised to do it when the boy was born, too.) You know where I'm going with this, right??? It never happened.

The other thing that was promised when we adopted beast (aka Leo) was that I would not be the only one caring for him. That both big man and little man would take beast out. They would walk him. They would play with him. They would clean his piles in the yard. They would make sure he had water & take turns know where I'm going with this (again), right? Oh, big man takes beast for walks every now and then. Neither one ever plays with him. Neither one has ever taken care of the water/food. If I relied on them to do it, beast would be dead from dehydration! Little man takes out beast maybe once a month. Big man gripes and moans and complains and curses and takes out beast maybe once a day. But only after making sure I know how much he's being put out by having to do it and waiting until he sees if I will break down and do it first.

I play with beast. I feed beast. I give beast fresh water. I take beast for walks. I am a responsible pet owner who loves beast and wants him happy. He's a good beast. He deserves that.

However, I did some calculations (if you follow me on twitter, you will have already seen these calculations). Since I'm a good pet owner, when I take beast out I give him time to sniff/explore/be a dog. Therefore, a trip out to pee/poo is at least 15 mins. Beast is smart. Beast has learned how to fake having to do business. Beast likes to go out A LOT!

Sooo, without further ado. I estimate I'm outside with beast roughly 2-2 1/2 hrs. a day. (That's 8-10 trips out a day.) I'll low ball the number and go with 2 hrs. per day.

2 hrs./day x 365 days/yr. = 730 hrs./yr.
730 hrs./yr. x 6 yrs. = 4380 hrs. since beast moved in, standing outside while he does business and gets to be a beast.
4380 hrs. divided by (hey, I have no division key) 24 hrs./day = 182 days 12 hrs.

Okay, I have spent 182 days 12 hrs. outside sun/rain/snow/hail/freezing temps/heat/day/night with the beast since we brought him home. That's half a year, people. Minimum. Don't I deserve a fence??! Doesn't he?

(BTW, when we brought kitty beast home, little man promised to feed/play/clean his litter box. That lasted 3 wks. I am now doing that, too!)

Okay, rant over.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

I'm a dangerous book-a-holic.

Now, I've posted about how many new books are coming out this month and how many of them I want (42, I think). I have already bought some of them and have the others in my cart on Amazon (because I'm not shopping at B&N unless I'm FORCED to at gunpoint). There's no way I'm going to be able to read them all, but I'm damn sure going to own them.

Soooo....I keep going to Borders. I know, their stock is getting thin but here's the thing. I have a whole backlog list of books that I want to read (ummm, own) which have been out FOREVER. And another list of books I'd purchased, loved, but gave away because I had no place for them.

(I think someone needs to take my credit card away from me...although this is a one month binge of a sort, I guess. I'm sure once Border's doors shut forever *sob* I'll be able to control myself...)

Aaannywayyy, I have gone to Borders three times in the last week. (A different Borders each time, mind you.)  And I've bought stacks of books. (Hey, romances are 50% off. So a book that costs $7.99 is only $3.99 - and if it's on the list, I'm going to buy it anyway someday, right? right??....oh who am I kidding? I've bought more books than I can read in a century. (Well, maybe a year...)

I just can't help thinking that when all the damn bookstores close, and we're all forced to go the ereader route, I'll have all my beloved books in hard copy in my possession! mwah ha ha....

Hi. My name is Karen and I'm a biblioholic.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Basilisk by Rob Thurman

As usual, I loved this book. I love anything by Rob. She's a smart writer. I love her pop references. I love that she does first person POV but only allows that character to share what they want. I love that she keeps me guessing. And in the end, I have these "Damn, how did I miss that?" moments that make me smile. Because she gets me every single time - with every book.

In Basilisk, we get the world from Michael's (aka Lukas aka Misha) POV. Chimera, the first book in the series is from Stefan's POV. Stefan is mob, an enforcer, and a total badass who kills with remorse. Michael? Well Michael is a devious, sociopathic, badass who refuses to kill because it would be too easy to continue killing. He's damaged, he's thoughtful, he's loyal....and he's so freaking brilliant it makes your head spin.

Basilisk takes place 3 years after Chimera. Michael and Stefan have had time to settle into familiarity with each other. They've created a place to call home. That all ends with the arrival of The Institute's people. It sends them into a spiraling race to survive, as well as save/rescue the other kids Michael left behind. There are twists, turns, surprises, and bonding moments punctuated throughout an action-packed, fast paced story that will have you tied up in knots.

And that's all I'm going to say because Rob might be pissed if I ruin it for you & I'm not going to. You should experience it for yourself. 

Definitely a 5 star read. And I highly recommend it. Then again, I think Rob Thurman's books should be on every UF lover's bookshelf. Hard copies AND digital. And you should probably have backups of the paperbacks for when you wear them out. And, hey, you might want to invest in Chris McGrath's art for your walls to boot. (I bought my sister a Cal Leandros Moonshine poster for her birthday - it was absolutely amazing!)

Okay, I think I'm done. Go forth and buy.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Supernatural Convention - Boston

Okay, lets see if I can do this....

Heh heh heh....I'm the one in the middle of the Jared Misha sandwich. The one on the side is my sis.

Yes, we totally fangirled out today (is that a word?) and went to the Supernatural Convention. We started off our day by sitting in a room for a few hours while waiting for picture time. Then we did our 20 second pose with Jared and Misha, who are both incredibly good looking in person and extremely nice. Not to mention funny! Sadly, we both went into "can't get a coherent intelligent thing to say" mode. I had all these brilliantly smart things I planned to say - like if Jared said "nice shirt", I was going to say "Thanks. Nice abs." All I managed was a high pitched, breathy "hi". Pathetic.

Annnywayyy, the photo was followed by a Q&A with Jared, and Misha joined him half way through. They had the entire crowd cracking up. Did I say that they're super friendly, funny and down-to-earth? I have video of it, but I have to go through it because the convention does not like video and I got yelled at twice by a guy who might have been a hitman or assassin or something, so I video'd when he wasn't looking and set the camera out of sight (recording my thigh) when he was. Scary bastard. Don't they realize all us older women are taping for our own pleasure.

There were more videos, a trivia game in which sis came in 2nd! (They didn't give her a prize :( She deserved something...) And an auction where one crazy fan paid $1000 for a 4 ft. x 6 ft. poster signed by all the stars that were in attendance. Where do these people get the money? We saw this same woman pay for a photo for herself with the boys ($169!) plus 2 extra photos of just the boys alone. That means she spent at least $1700 for a day of fun - and that's if she only did that photo op. If she did all the others....holy smokes.

The auction was followed by a Q&A with Richard Speight, who plays the trickster aka Gabriel (although he DIED on the show). He was hysterical and very sweet. 

Finally, there was a talk with just Misha - who came out with a nametag that said "Hello. My Name is God." And a jar (which someone had given him) of a pickled hellhound fetus! He didn't answer a single question seriously. I swear, I haven't laughed so much since....god, I don't know when. 

So, that was my adventure of the day. Next year, (they'd better come here again!) we're getting autographs (couldn't afford both) and a photo. Hopefully Jenson will be there next time. (Sis loves him.)

Again, I can't say enough about how nice all the other fans and the stars were (the convention people were a scary? bossy?). We met people from all over and everyone was so happy to be there. There was an entire group of teens in cosplay as the characters. There were even a fair number of men there. And Jared, Misha and Richard went out of their way to make everyone smile. It was a really really good day.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Desdaemona by Ben Macallan

This was a really unbelievably good read.

Jordan is a seventeen year old boy. He helps find lost kids and sends them home, then asks to be paid thru his paypal account. (I kind of loved that little bit.) Jordan is a man of mystery. We do know a few things about him...
  1. He's been seventeen a while
  2. He has a sixth finger on his left hand
  3. He's running from something/someone
  4. He doesn't like people using his real name
Here is what we don't know about him...
  1. How long he's been seventeen
  2. Whether he's entirely human or not
  3. Who or what he's running from
  4. How that sixth finger gives him something extra
Enter Desi, aka Desdaemona, a teenage girl. She has managed to hunt Jordan down (which scares the crap out of him) because she needs his help to find her missing sister, Fay. Desi isn't just a girl, though. She's a daemon - which means she sold herself into service of a master (we don't know who/what that master is) for several years for power.

Jordan agrees to help Desi, and so begins an action packed, wildly entertaining story with so many brilliant twists, it will have you hooked. The story is beautifully told from Jordan's POV. His descriptions of Desi, the places they find themselves, their interactions and their run ins with some nasty badasses are beautifully done. I could feel the story in my gut. Each puzzle piece is laid out perfectly. Everything that is revealed makes sense. And the ending! OMG!!

And yes, I did break down and talk to the book. (I do do that with books I love, you know).

I honestly don't want to give away too much of this book. I can say there's a sequel in the works called Pandaemonium - and I'll be buying it. Because I fell in love with these characters and their world. And I think you will, too.

I give it 5 enthusiastic stars with a little O-o for the ending. Write fast Mr. Macallan. I have to know what happens next!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Basilisk is out! Basilisk is out!!!

Okay, this is a shameless promotion for one of my favorite authors. If you've never read any of Rob Thurman's books, you're living on some planet I don't ever want to visit!

No author on the face of the planet writes the connection between siblings as well as Rob. And frankly, her ability to make the characters come to life is nothing short of amazing. Her stories are filled with snark and emotion - her plots exciting and action packed. I want to live in her brain.

Today is the release of Basilisk, the second book in the series which began with Chimera. The story is, as all of her books, brilliant. Stefan is Russian mafia. Years ago, his younger brother Lukas was kidnapped. It's haunted Stefan because he believes he should have been able to prevent it. He's spent years looking for Lukas. And unbelievably he seems to have found him. Only Lukas is part of some experiment turning children into machine-like assassins. And his name is Michael and he doesn't remember anything about his former life. When Stefan rescues him, all hell breaks loose. This book has twists and turns that will have you staying up late into the night to finish it. You will not be able to put it down.

I expect no less from Basilisk. And that's why I'm going to keep this post short. I ran out and bought it this morning, now I'm going to read - devour - inhale - absorb the goodness. Its better than pizza. Its better than chocolate...Hell, its better than sex!

 Go. Run as fast as you can to your nearest bookstore and buy Basilisk! Buy copies for your friends and family. While you're at it (if you don't already own her books) invest in every last book that Rob has ever written. Screw the house cleaning. Tell the kids to make their own lunch. Drink lots of coffee. You're going to be up until you finish it.

(...and as a side note, my 16 year old son loves these books as much as I do...)