Saturday, October 29, 2011

THE VACUUM - Happy Halloween everyone!


There’s a vacuum under my bed.
I’m not talking about a Hoover or a Bissell either. No. This is a black hole, a swirling vortex, the kind of vacuum that sucks things into it.
Nothing ever comes back out.
It’s not a big hole – maybe the size of a softball – but it can stretch when it’s got something it really wants. Something like Fifi.
My poodle.
Stupid ugly dog.
Stupid Brian.
He was playing fetch with her in the hallway. My bedroom sits at the end of the hall, my bed right there at the end of a perfect straight line. Brian tossed the ball. Fifi chased it. I gave it an extra tap as it sailed past me, Fifi in close pursuit. The ball rolled under the bed and whoosh, it was gone. Fifi followed.
She didn’t go so quickly.
Her head went in first. I guess she didn’t have the smarts or the instinct to avoid a slurping black hole in the floor. She jammed her head in after the ball and her body started twitching. The hole made a sound like a groan. It wasn’t Fifi that made the sound - that much I know. It groaned. It pulled. It sucked. It churned. And then it stretched like a tight rubber band expanding to swallow her in.
I didn’t expect the ball to roll under the bed like that. Not really. And Fifi? Well, geez, who would have expected that? Maybe I could have stopped her. I didn’t.
Brian tried to grab her by her back feet but I stopped him. If it could pull Fifi in, then it might be able to expand and pull him in. I might be able to explain Fifi’s disappearance, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to explain Brian’s vanishing act to my parents. 
Brian thinks the hole is cool. He's a boy. He likes all kinds of crap that's weird.
It was easy to convince him not to tell.
Mom and Dad weren’t home from work yet, so we had time to come up with a believable story. It didn’t take much of an effort. We agreed to say Fifi had slipped out the open door. Brian even volunteered to be the scapegoat if they asked who left the door open. It was his fault she was gone after all.
I felt bad about the dog. Honestly. Well, mostly. Stupid yappy little thing. But at least I didn’t have to worry about her peeing all over stuff I left on the floor anymore. And done is done. She was gone. There was no getting her back.
I don’t think Brian felt bad at all. He seemed almost relieved. But then again, he was the one that had to walk her every day and I know he got teased about it. The boys in the neighborhood call him names. A fat boy walking a pink poodle is easy to tease. If they called me names like that, I would have probably made Fifi disappear any way I could.
Without her around, he does’t have to do the daily walks and pooper scooping. He can hang out on his bedroom computer and concentrate on playing Halo.
I suppose you’re wondering why we don’t tell our parents about the vacuum. That’s easy. Adults don’t believe in things like monsters and magic and black holes under beds. They’d just think we were making stuff up. Even if they looked, I don’t think they’d see it. Adults are blind like that.
Now you’re wondering how can I be sure that adults can’t see the vacuums. I’d argue that it’s not like it’s the only vacuum I’ve ever seen. They’re everywhere, especially in places that attract large crowds – schools, grocery stores, malls. Most aren’t much bigger than the hole under my bed. They suck in receipts, barrettes, earrings, keys, candies – stupid things people lose every day. No one misses that stuff. And if you don’t notice the lost stuff, you aren’t going to notice the holes eating the lost stuff.
Oblivious. That’s what most people are.
Some vortexes are big enough to swallow a car.
I think the Bermuda Triangle might be one of them.
I learned about that in school. Scientists think its electromagnetic fields or gigantic gas pockets. I’m betting it’s a huge vacuum. For that reason alone, when I’m an adult, I’ll never fly or sail near that area. A vortex that can suck up a squadron of planes is not something to mess around with.
My black hole has sucked up everything from shoes to toys, from tennis balls to homework, from spiders to Fifi. It even sucked up the china doll my great-aunt Mabel gave me. She was an antique – the doll, not Aunt Mabel – made of porcelain, with sleepy eyes and an open mouth. She had real human hair, too, and a pretty black dress.
I stuffed her in the hole because she wouldn’t stop staring at me. Doll’s eyes are creepy, especially the really old dolls. And her mouth? It was one of those special dolls where there was actually a hole into the doll’s head. A spider crawled out of it once. Yuck. Aunt Mabel thought she was pretty. I just thought she was evil.
I think it’s growing – my vacuum. After it ate Fifi, it shrunk right back down to size and didn’t eat anything for a week. I guess Fifi must have been filling. I can’t imagine why, though. She was mostly all that puffy hair with skinny bones and not much meat. Maybe black holes aren’t too picky.
Once it started eating again, I fed it things. I like feeding it things. I like the sounds it makes as it crushes things; the way things get sucked down in as if they're being tugged. 
It’ s... interesting. 
And it eats everything I give it – old sneakers, cooked spinach smuggled from my dinner plate, the ugly dress my mom bought me for Easter. I hated that dress. It was all ruffly and itchy, with big pink flowers on the skirt and something called crinoline. I called it torture.
Brian gives it bugs, dirt and other boy stuff. He tried to feed it mom’s leftover meatloaf, but the vortex didn’t touch it. The stuff just kind of swirled over the top and didn’t go down. I don’t blame it. Neither one of us wanted to eat that stupid meatloaf either. Its always too greasy and sometimes it has hard lumps in it. I’d rather eat Fifi.
Sometimes it makes sounds - soft moans and whispers. Like maybe something is on the other side trying to find a way out. When that happens, I talk to it. I tell it secrets. It eats those, too. Like how I saw Myles, the next door neighbor and some girl doing it in his bedroom. Or how I stole Lucy Jordan’s favorite Barbie the time she stayed over. Of course, it probably knew about that anyway because I fed that dumb Barbie to it, too. I’m not stupid. If I’d been caught with it, I would have been in big trouble. I didn’t want it anyway. I just didn’t want her to have it anymore.
Tonight, it’s making loud sucking noises. I think something is happening with it. But my lights are off and there’s no way I’m going to go turn on the light so that I can look. Something about it sounds dangerous. Hungry. Starving maybe.
I’ve already tossed my pillow under there. And my comforter. I won’t miss them. The comforter was pink and mint green flowers and ponies on it, and the pillow was just lumpy. I don’t know how I’m going to explain those disappearances to my mom, but I’ll come up with something. I can’t say the dog ate it. We don’t have a dog anymore.
Maybe its clogged or something. If I had a flashlight, I could check. The comforter was pretty bulky. But I don’t have my flashlight anymore. The vacuum ate it last night. It likes flashlights a lot. It’s eaten every single one in the house. Dad keeps replacing them, and he’s pretty mad about it. He doesn’t blame me, though. He thinks Brian is swiping them and losing them in the woods.
Brian’s grounded right now because of it.
He threatened to tell mom and dad about the vacuum because he’s tired of getting in trouble for things disappearing. I would’t mind getting in trouble for all of our missing stuff because I didn’t like most of it and I’m just glad it’s gone. Even Fifi. Smelly dog.
Brian’s been kind of a jerk lately anyway. He’s fourteen. He thinks he knows everything. For instance, he thinks the vacuum under the bed goes to Hell. Like the devil would put a vortex in my bedroom. I mean, come on. What would Hell need with a bunch of paper clips?
I wonder whether Brian’s sleeping. He went to bed right after dinner as part of being grounded. No TV for him. No computer either. That sucks. Me, I’d watched American Idol and wished I could stuff some of those singers in the vortex. I don’t know why some of them think they can sing. Bet no one would miss them.
I wonder how long it would take the hole to get hungry after eating a person. I mean, if it was full for a week after Fifi, would someone Brian’s size feed it for a month? A year? Longer?
Doesn’t matter. It probably couldn’t stretch that wide anyway. Brian is pretty fat. He probably should have walked Fifi more.
I peek over the edge of the bed to see if I can tell what was going on with the hole. It's really dark under there, but I can just see it if I concentrate hard on the spot. A small piece of my comforter is still sticking out of it. Geez, I hope all that fluff didn’t give it indigestion. If it's still making that awful sound in the morning, I’ll feed it some Tums or something.
Or maybe Brian.
That thought makes me giggle. Would he scream as it pulled him in? Or would he be too shocked to do anything? Would it hurt? If the way Fifi had twitched and fought was any indication, it probably doesn’t feel good. Maybe I can convince him to come in and try to pull my comforter back out of the vacuum. See what happens.
Would he do it? Probably not. He's too chicken.
Maybe I could tell him I heard Fifi barking down in there. He felt bad when mom cried about that ugly pink dog going missing. Not bad enough to tell her where Fifi had gone, but still. Would he stick his hand in if he thought he could be a big hero and rescue that stupid dog? Maybe.
But I wouldn’t really do that, would I?
The vacuum seems to be laughing a little bit as if it can hear what I'm thinking about. It is pretty funny. I can imagine Brian getting pulled in. His feet kicking. His eyes all buggy. Would he be too fat to fit?
I could tell mom and dad he ran away. They would believe it. They fight all the time about things going missing. I know they;re worried he was selling stuff to pay for drugs. I've heard them talking about it late at night. They might even think he sold Fifi for drugs.
If he disappeared, they would believe he ran away. And I’d have them all to myself. No stupid fat brother to embarrass me anymore.
Maybe I'll try it tomorrow. See what happens. Brian probably won’t go for. He’s started wearing a cross to protect him from whatever's in there. Stupid.
It isn’t a hole to Hell. I’d know.
The vacuum lets out a huge slurp and I know my comforter is gone. Just like everything else I hate.
Tomorrow, while Mom and Dad are gone to work, it will be Brian.

Hope you enjoyed my little Halloween horror story! Karen

Friday, October 28, 2011

Apparently my 15 year old self kept a book list, too....

I'm having a strange nostalgic moment. I'm trying to clean out the clutter in my house & in doing so, I've found several stories & a bunch of poetry that I wrote in my teenage/college years, along with all kinds of crazy stuff. (I was president of The Nice Buns Club in college - which involved oogling college boys' asses & trying to get in a squeeze at bars - and a contest for Best Buns at the end of the year. Yes, I was a total degenerate.)

The most interesting thing I found so far? A Star Wars notebook with an alphabetical list of the books I'd read over the course of the year at the age of 15. I didn't remember keeping a list, so it cracked me up. Apparently I was into lists back then, too. More interesting, though, is the books I read:

Alien (horror - loved the movie, too)
The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson (horror  - snitched from my father's shelves)
A Man Called Intrepid by William Stevenson (a true account of WWII and a spy - I can't fathom why I read this one although I vaguely remember it - weird)
Bugs in Your Ears by Betty Bates (emo story)
The Best Little Girl in the World by Steven Levenkron (emo - anorexia)
Break a Leg Betsy Maybe by Lee Kingman (dunno - guessing emo)
Cry for the Strangers by John Saul (horror - purchased in secret & hid from my parents cause it was creepy scary)
The Catherine Wheel by Jean Stafford (emo)
The Cliffs of Dread by Virginia Coffman (thriller - story of people who wrecked ships to rob them)
Cruel Shoes by Steve Martin (twisted stories - still have it on my shelves)
The Chopin Express by Howard Kaplan (espionage - inspired my first foray into story writing)
The Cranshaw Inheritance by Christine Etheridge (historical romance/suspense)
Dinky Hocker Shoots Smack by M.E. Kerr (emo)
The Devil's Doorstep by Marian Rumsey (I have no idea - guessing horror)
Deep Space by ?? (completely clueless but might have been a sci-fi anthology)
The Doubting Kind by Alison Prince (emo)
Dear Judgement by John Crosby (I assume its one I snuck from dear dad's stash - looks like a crime story)
Eye of the Gods by Richard Owen (again, no clue)
First Step by Jean Richardson (emo)
Find a Stranger, Say Goodbye by Lois Lowry (emo)
French Postcards by Norma Klein (emo)
Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews (horror - and incest! eek)
Going Crazy by T. Hemmings (anorexia)
Gretchen, I Am by Carroll E. Jay (pretty sure this was horror)
Gentlehands by M.E. Kerr (emo)
The Golden Unicorn by Phyllis A. Whitney (suspense)
Get a Little Lost Tia by Phyllis Anderson Wood (emo)
The Hawkline Monster by Richard Brautigan (horror)
House Malign by Julie Wellsley (I assume horror - that seems to be a theme)
Haunted Houses by ?? (I'm guessing an anthology of ghost stories?)
Horizon by Helen MacInnes (thriller)
House of Strangers by Jennifer Hale (gothic thriller)
It's Okay if You Don't Love Me by Norma Klein (emo)
It's Not the End of the World by Judy Blume (emo)
Is There Life on a Plastic Planet by Mildred Ames (horror - about a girl who replaces herself with a lifesize doll - creepy)
Ice Castles by Leonore Fleischer (romance/emo - yes, I had a whole "Robby Benson is a doe eyed god" thing going on)
If Life is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits by Erma Bombeck (the woman who made me really want to pursue writing)
Kiss a Stranger by Glenna Finley (romance - have a feeling I swiped this from mom's stash)
The Lansing Legacy by Ann Hyman (looks like a thriller)
Lady of Mallow by Dorothy Eden  (historical suspence/romance)
Like Mother, Like Me by Sheila Schwartz (emo)
Letter Perfect by Charles P. Crawford (emo)
Morning is a Long Time Coming by Bette Greene (emo mystery)
My Name is Davy I'm An Alcoholic by Anne Snyder (obviously, emo)
Mom, the Wolfman and Me by Norma Klein (emo - apparently a was a big fan of Norma)
The Magician's Sleeve by J.C. Conaway (I have no idea - at this point, I'm assuming horror)
Mistress Masham's Repose by T.H. White (girl discovers Lilliput - comedy urban fantasy?)
Night of the Scorpion by Rosemary Carter (dunno... horror? thriller? gothic?)
Nightmares by ?? (I'm assuming it was the poems by Prelutsky about monsters)
Night Stalks the Mansion by Harold Cameron and Constance Westbie (true ghost story)
The Ouija Board (I think this was a non-fiction book, because my parents gave us a ouija board that year & we were trying to contact the ghost that lived in our house - let's just say we put it away after several freaky things happened - truth)
Out of Love by Hilma Wolitzer (emo)
Outrun the Dark by Cecilia Bartholomew (horror - about a girl who supposedly murdered her brother & got locked in a mental institute)
The Phaedra Complex by Jeannette Eyerly (looks like a bad thriller/romance)
Punish the Sinners by John Saul (horror - kept this one hidden from my parents!)
Play Misty For Me (thriller - swiped from my father's bookshelf)
Rosemary's Baby (horror - again, swiped from dad)
Ronnie and Rosey by Judie Angell (emo)
Rich Kids by H.B. Gilmour (don't know -- here's a guess...emo? lol)
Sea Cliff by M Thomas Hinkemeyer (I'm guessing again...historical thriller? gothic?)
Sunshine by Norma Klein (emo emo emo - I remember this one)
The Son of Someone Famous by M.E. Kerr (emo)
Sooner or Later by Carole and Bruce Hart (emo)
7 Ways to Tell Fortunes & Predict the Future by  Jodra Petrie (don't know but guessing it was non-fiction)
Suffer the Children by John Saul (horror - again, a secret purchase)
The Sound of Midnight by Charles Grant (horror)
Something Left to Lose by Robin F. Brancato (emo)
Shadow of the Tamaracks by Sara North (I'm guessing from the cover...romance/thriller)
Seventh All Hallows Eve by Ruby Jean Jensen (looks like a gothic horror)
The Terror Trap by Willo Davis Roberts (gothic thriller)
The Tower Room by ?? (not sure who wrote it since there are 3 books by that title from the late 70's - but all of them are gothic thrillers)
The Touch of Evil by Lydia Colby (gothic thriller)
The Testing of Charlie Hammerman by Jerome Brooks (about a boy afraid of swimming - something I'm not to fond of myself)
The Turning Place by Naomi J Karp (about prejudice - emo)
There is a Season by ?? (again multiple books by that title - I think it was about a Jewish girl and Catholic boy - emo)
Two for Survival by Arthur J. Ross (about two diverse boys on a plane that crashes in the wilderness)
Voices Long Hushed by Barbara Ann Pauley (gothic horror)
Wrath of the Lion by Jack Higgins (from my dad's collection)
The White Jade Fox by Andre Norton (gothic thriller)
Where are the Children (horror - snitched from dad's stack)
Planet of the Apes (sci-fi obviously)
Beneath the Planet of the Apes (sci-fi)
Logan's Run (sci-fi - loved this one)
Logan's World (sci-fi)
The Omen (horror of course)
Damien: The Omen II (horror)

Apparently I was into emo "my-life-sucks" books, gothic novels, thrillers and horror. I remember the horror books because my parents would have freaked if they'd found out I was reading them. (I started sneaking them when I was 11 or 12.)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

In honor of Halloween...If I were a supernatural creature....

...I'm giving this way more thought than I should. But I'm bored, so here goes.

I wouldn't want to be a werewolf. A) they're hairy B) canines lick their own asses C) the whole shape shifting thing has to hurt and I'm not a fan of pain.

I wouldn't want to be part of the seelie court. A) they remind me of the shallow girls who made me miserable in high school only with magic B) I can't see myself running around in a long flowing dress C) I'm not into pinks and pastels D) I'm not cheerful kind of gal E) some of them are ridiculously tiny

I wouldn't want to be a ghost A) I wouldn't like being invisible to most people B) I couldn't eat pizza C) I'd be dead (although passing through walls might be fun).

I wouldn't want to be a demon A) ummmm.. evil? B) evil evil evil C) fire and hell...hello?!? evil

I wouldn't want to be an angel A) no freedom of choice B) a tough boss C) no sex

I wouldn't want to be a gargoyle A) they turn to stone during the day B) they're not very sociable C) gray doesn't look good on me.

I wouldn't want to be a mermaid, selkie or any other water creature A) I don't like deep water B) I'm more of a drowner than a swimmer C) I can't open my eyes underwater

I wouldn't want to be a zombie A) they're dead B) they're rotting C) they eat brains.

I could probably live with being a vampire (what the hell does that say about me?) Although A) the whole blood thing...euwww B) frying in sunlight would suck C) I like silver jewelry.

That could also probably find something in the unseelie court....which is filled with all kinds of scary ass long as there was no A) blood sucking B) flesh eating C) pastel clothing.

After thinking about it (way too long and hard), I guess I'd like being a witch or magic wielder. I also wouldn't mind being a magical shape shifter (I do have a little native american blood). A kitsune would be okay. Or maybe a coyote.

And yes, this year for Halloween I will be giving out candy in a witch costume :D

So what would you choose to be?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Mob Rules by Cameron Haley

I'm just about finished reading Mob Rules and about to dive into it's sequel, Skeleton Crew. I've seen a few reviews of this book (some of them not favorable) and I felt the need to talk about why I really like this book.

The main character, Domino Riley, is not your typical urban fantasy heroine. In fact, she's not really a heroine at all. Domino is an enforcer for a gangster. She wields magic to take care of problems and isn't adverse to killing. She doesn't really feel remorse for the things she's done. She is who and what she is.

Domino is 35 years old. She's at a point in her life where she's reflecting on her choices and sees them in a very realistic light. She knows she's not a good person necessarily, but she can accept that. She's okay with herself - good and bad.

I also like the idea that magic is flowing in the world and that magic users are on the fringes of society. They wield their magic through graffiti tagging, which also lays down the various gangs/mobs territories. I thought it was clever that Domino uses quotes to wield her magic (and that everyone manipulates it in a way that makes it unique to them).

The story follows Domino who has been assigned the job of figuring out who is making a move on her boss and why. She's in charge of taking them down. And she does what's necessary to solve the problem. From that she discovers she has a lot more magical ability than she realized. She also discovers there's more to the world around her than she thought. It puts her in an interesting position where she needs to be the good guy. I like that that makes her uncomfortable.

There are some clever characters in this and some humorous ones. I think the world that Cameron Haley created is unique. And I can't wait to see where it goes in book two. I'm giving it 5 stars.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Where I Profess My Love For Urban Fantasy...

So....for my blog readers out there, Jaye Wells has declared October "Urban Fantasy Month". And she's offering up a massively cool list of books (signed!!!) to lucky winners. What do you need to do? Write a love letter to urban fantasy on your blog. (You know where this is going, right? Right?!?)

Dear Urban Fantasy,

I love you. No, seriously, stop laughing. I L-O-V-E you!

If you take some time and read this blog, you'll probably understand why, but since you're busy people and I don't want to take you away from writing (because I need more UF books like a crack whore needs her drugs), I'll give you a brief synopsis of why Urban Fantasy is my life saver.

I'm a middle aged housewife, raising a 16 yr. old with Asperger's Syndrome, who is currently a freshman in college. My husband works long hours and is rarely here - when he is, he's usually asleep in his chair or in his home office working. This means all of the crap that's come our way - shitty school system, doctors, therapies, etc. - falls on my shoulders. My world revolves around my son and his needs. I haven't been able to hold a job since he was born. My life is chaotic. It's stressful. Generally, it sucks.

For the longest time, I was so wrapped up in taking care of my son that I fell by the wayside. There was no time for me to breathe, never mind do the things I love. I'd forgotten what it was like to pick up a good book and read.

Enter Jennifer Rardin's Jaz Parks series.

I was at the bookstore with my son, finding books to help teach him something (I don't remember what) when I saw Jennifer's books. I picked one up and read the first few pages and fell a little bit in love. That night, I stayed up until 2 a.m. and read it. No, I take that back. I devoured it. And I remembered how much I loved to read. I dragged my son to four stores over the next 48 hours to find the rest of the series. Then I discovered Kim Harrison. And Lilith Saintcrow. And the Deadline Dames. And the League of Reluctant Adults (oh League, you make me laugh) .... and sooo sooo many more amazing urban fantasy writers.

I fell completely, irrevocably, madly in love with you, Urban Fantasy. I started this blog to talk about the books I've read and share my love with anyone out there who would like to do nothing more than lose themselves in worlds where kick ass heroes and heroines fight incredible odds to save the world.

I have so many Urban Fantasy books, my husband had to install IKEA shelves in the living room to hold them. See?...

And, yes, those books are two layers deep on those shelves. Worse, I'm putting shelves in the family room so that I have someplace to expand my library. In fact, I have so many Urban Fantasy books that I have a file called "Urban Fantasy List" which is currently 124 pages long. It's broken down alphabetically by author with columns (Author) (Released) (Own )(Format) (Title) (SF/Romance/YA, etc) (vampire/demon/were/etc) and (Rating). I follow up books I've read with a brief synopsis of the story. I also have a second folder called "Urban Fantasy Books Missing" which is 12 pages long, separate lists of e-reader books and anthologies, and a list called "Release Dates" (4 pages) that I use to keep track of all upcoming Urban Fantasy books. I carry the release dates and UF books missing lists in my purse at all times.

Is this a little obsessive? Probably. (I'm a little ADD and got tired of buying books I already owned.) Urban Fantasy are you scared of me now? Don't be. I'm not a stalker, I promise. Maybe a bit of a rabid fangirl. (Okay, I'm a definitely a rabid fangirl.) But my love for you is true.

Thank you for making my life more bearable. I love you.

Happy Urban Fantasy Month!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Trial by Fire by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

It's a rare book that I feel the characters on a visceral level. Trial by Fire (2nd in the series which begins with Raised by Wolves) was one of those rare books. In fact, I can count on one hand the authors who have that affect on me: Lilith Saintcrow, Maggie Steifvater, Stacia Kane, Melissa Marr and Adrian Phoenix. (Oh wait, that requires two

The way this book hooked me and pulled me in is why I'm taking time out of my crazy schedule and blogging about it.

I've actually had the book for a while. I loved the first book so much, I wanted to make sure when I read Trial by Fire I had the attention span and time to devote to it. So this weekend was finally the weekend where I could read uninterrupted and appreciate what I was reading.

The story follows a teenage girl, Brynn, who was raised by Callum, a werewolf alpha, after a rogue werewolf killed her parents. In the first book, she discovers that everything she believes about Callum and her life is questionable, and makes some dangerous but necessary choices to save herself and other young wolves. Callum is manipulative, sees the future, and he has a plan (what that plan is still has yet to be revealed, but I'm extremely worried for Brynn). I don't want to say too much about the plot, though, because you have to read them!

What I want to talk about is why these books are good. Yes, this is a young adult book  - but it doesn't assume that teenagers can't read with depth - and its a fantastic read for adults as well. The story is clever, action packed and emotional. What Jennifer Lynn Barnes does is pull you into Brynn's world - into her head - into her fears, hopes, wants, and needs - and makes you feel them in your gut. The emo in me LOVES that! I love getting so into a book that the world around me falls away. I love it when I FEEL a book like I felt this one. It is wonderfully done.

Brynn is an intelligent, strong character who stands up for those she loves no matter the cost to herself. She thinks things through. She's incredibly brave. And her loyalty is matched by the loyalty of her friends who rely on her and look up to her. In fact, all of the characters in the book are well written, brilliantly vivid and wonderful - whether they're the good guys or the bad guys.

The end of Trial by Fire is breath stopping...and I can't wait to read more. (There had better be more. Right, Ms. Barnes? There will be more?!?) That's why I say get to the store and buy these books. Add them to your shelves. Buy them for your teens. Awesome. Amazing. And the coveted 6 stars!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Soul Thief by Jana Oliver

I just finished reading Soul Thief by Jana Oliver. It's the sequel to The Demon Trapper's Daughter. I have to say, I thoroughly enjoy this series. And I give the book 5 stars.

Riley Blackthorne is a demon trapper, just like her father. She's seventeen years old and lives in Atlanta - a very unique Atlanta where the world has gone to shit and demons run rampant. The trappers work to keep the balance. Riley is the first female trapper and most of the other trappers aren't happy about that. Denver Beck is a journeyman trapper - trained by Riley's father. He has issues. He and Riley don't get along - mainly because Riley had a crush on him and he stomped on her feelings. Something is afoot in Atlanta. Demons aren't behaving like they're supposed to. And for some reason, Riley seems to be the centerpoint for whatever is going on between heaven and hell. But she and Beck are going to have to work together to figure it out and they can't even be in the same room together without fighting.

I've read a lot of reviews of these books. People either love them or hate them. I'm on the loving side. I think the world that Jana Oliver has created is interesting and her characters are well developed. Nobody is all good (even Riley and Beck) and nobody is all evil. The characters make choices that could end up damning them.

At points (and I don't have a problem with this) the writing loses its rhythm. In other words, the pace becomes a little chaotic and doesn't flow smoothly. This is just the writer's writing style. And the dialogue (mainly Beck and some of the trappers) is a little too colloquial (that's the only word I can think of for it - basically, they talk with an accent). I don't think that was necessary, and it's really the only thing I didn't like (because it makes Beck sound more ignorant than he is - which may be the point of it) but it doesn't by any means ruin the story.

What I really like about this series is that I don't know where it's going. I don't know who the good guys are and who the bad guys are. I don't know what the ultimate plan for Riley and Beck is. I don't know if there's going to be a happy ending. I know what Riley and Beck know - and I keep learning (as do they) that I'm wrong about certain things. That's clever. And it's what makes me keep on reading. I even read the prequel for the third book at the end of Soul Thief - something I NEVER do. What I do know is that Riley and Beck are in serious trouble and they'd better start trusting each other or they're both doomed.

Go forth and buy, people.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Books Read in September 2011

Okay, now that I've recovered most of my files, albeit with missing chunks and shit, I can say with certainty that I read 7 books this month. (I think I read 9, but this was one of my corrupted files & for the life of me, I can't remember the other two books.) So we'll stick with the 7 the file says I read and if I remember the others, I'll post them.

Succubus Revealed by Richelle Mead. My favorite series of all time is done! (sobbing hysterically). I will miss Georgina and all her friends. But I loved this book. And it ended like it should (even if I don't really like Seth - who I think is a bit of a jerk.) Georgina is happy and that's what counts.

One Salt Sea by Seanan McGuire. Another huge favorite of mine. Toby is a wonderful character and I can't say I'm sad with how things turned out in this one. I absolutely love the fae in Seanan's world. Everything is so well thought out. Definitely a series to own.

Nightshade by Michelle Rowen AND Bloodlust by Michelle Rowen -This is an interesting series about a woman who gets injected with some kind of serum by a mad scientist and then ends up on the run with a damphir who is trained to kill vampires. There are a lot of twists and turns in this and I really liked the secondary characters. The problem is I wasn't a big fan of the main character, who doesn't seem to know her own mind. People keep telling her what she thinks and she's like "oh yeah, I guess I do think that." Hunh?! (Grow some balls and decide things for yourself sister. Geez!) Still, I'll keep reading the series because I'm interested to see what happens.

Crossroads by Jeanne Stein - This is the latest in the Anna Strong vampire series. Anna is a bounty hunter who was attacked and turned against her will. (Its pretty awful.) In this latest installment she's coming to terms with what she is and dealing with someone from her past (the jerk). These books are written first person present-tense, which is usually a killer for me, but I like these books because they're well written and fast paced, with a good storyline.

Beasts and BFFs by Shannon Delaney - This was really just a short story prequel to the book 13 to Life which I'll be reading in October. It definitely got me interested in the characters and curious to know what exactly is going on.

Bloodshot by Cherie Priest - I'll also have to admit I'm not a fan of detective stories. This book has the feel of a detective story, but not. The main character, Raylene, is awesome. She's a vampire who's just a little bit neurotic and paranoid. She doesn't like attachments - and yet she has them. I love the characters in this book & I'll be reading the 2nd in the series in October, too. I kind of wanted to savor this one and read something light before reading the next book. It was really good.

Like I said, I'm pretty sure I read more than this but my records that I salvaged don't reflect anything else and I'm too tired to remember. Right now, I'm reading Soul Thief by Jana Oliver and its fantastic.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Books I Read This Month....coming soon (I hope)

AKA The Computer Saga...

Thankfully, I've already blogged about several of the books I read this month. Right now, I'm reading Bloodshot by Cherie Priest & loving it. It's kind of a modern-day old-vibe gumshoe vampire vs. government action book.


My computer died. Yes, the stupid piece of garbage computer (don't buy a Toshiba with the bubble-button mouse pad - they're junk) failed completely. First the left click button went, then the 'W' button went, followed by the 'R', 'T', 'F' and 'E'. I backed my data up on my external hard drive and then the computer just crashed. It wouldn't stay on. I couldn't get Firefox to work when it did stay on. It took 20 mins. to turn on and couldn't shut off without forcing it. And it was heating up to astronomically alarming temperatures. In other words, it went into it's death throws.

So, I turned the POG over to my son (the computer genius), who ran all kinds of diagnostics and said it wasn't a virus or some hacker. He suggested as a last ditch effort, we should do a fresh install, although he suspected it wouldn't help because he believed it was a bad sector on the motherboard. So, we made sure everything was backed up & he did his thing. When I attempted to reinstall all my files, bookmarks, etc., my dog (God I love the beast, but damn) decided he needed to sit on my lap. Up he hopped. Right. Onto. My. External. Drive. 55 lbs of dog vs. small plastic hard drive?? Dog wins. He broke the hard drive and IT crashed.

So, my little guru took the computer back, along with the hard drive and his own computer and hard drive, did a little magic and managed to retrieve all my crap. Only problem? They seem to have moved all over in the system. Nothing is where its supposed to be. And all my music? OMG! Everything EVERYTHING I bought since 2009 is GONE! (Oh, its still there in my files, but my Zune no longer allows access to do anything but listen to it.) In other words, I can listen, but the music isn't in my Zune folder and when I plugged in the device, it deleted everything off it too. Zune says I have to rebuy it all. 600 SONGS! LOST!

This is a long post, hunh? Long story short, I'm going to spend tomorrow baking cookies and trying to retrieve everything that I can from the various places on (1) my old computer (2) my cracked and mangled hard drive (3) my son's confusingly messed up hard drive - and put it on my brand new, shiny Dell. Yes, that's right. I went out this weekend and bought a new computer (and external hard drive).

I just hope this one is a little better made than the last one. I know its a whole lot prettier and the keyboard is more comfortable. And the damn thing has surround sound and an LED screen. (I think we're going to be best friends....)