I wasn’t going to write about The Thief again, as I’ve moved on to the new Thea Harrison and Faith Hunter books… but I couldn’t resist. Life has imitated art recently. I’ve had to get up close and personal with anachronistic idiots who haven’t gotten the memo about modern women. Bottom line up front: I am not a princess and I don’t need saving. I’m a queen and I got this shit handled (to quote a Twitter meme). But why in the 21st century is this shit still on women’s ‘to do’ list? This queen has more important shit to handle.
I’m just finishing The Thief by J.R. Ward. Yes, I know, I read as slowly as my mother-in-law eats. Coupled with my lack of Kindle time, let’s just say I will not set any land speed records. I don’t care; the minutes I spend with my books are precious: I’ll take what I can get. Luckily, one Ward book is always good for several blog posts.
I’m reading J. R. Ward’s latest Black Dagger Brotherhood book, The Thief. There are those who gave up on the series after the end of the original Brothers’ stories. These people are fools. I’m loving me some Jessica Bird and no one can stop me. Except maybe my boss. He frowns on my reading at work. Go figure.
I love Atticus O’Sullivan, the Iron Druid, and his author, Kevin Hearne. I love them even though the series’ end, Scourged, left me somewhat cold. Things did not turn out as well as I’d hoped for Atticus; fate caught up with him and he was required to pay his karmic debt. He’d made a lot of enemies over the years, and many of them came home to roost. Atticus had to pay for his hubris, his willful ignorance and his refusal to back down once he set himself on a path. Kevin Hearne implied that Atticus got what was coming to him but that with time, it might end up making him a better man.
I just finished Burn Bright, the latest in the Alpha and Omega series by Patricia Briggs. It is a story about werewolves and the fae. It’s about good and evil. And love. Primarily, it’s about love. What does it mean to love someone? To cherish them? Do we take the good with the bad? Or do we ascribe to the cafeteria definition where we take what we like and try to leave or change the things that don’t work for us?
My kids are going to college. We knew that. It’s the natural order of things. Or at least the hoped-for order of things. They could be pursuing careers as baristas, but most of us hope for more for our children.
I had an interesting experience at work last week. Because of the serendipitous nature of life, it was perfectly reflected in the book I was reading. I often wonder if I’d recognize life’s meaning if I couldn’t connect my daily experiences to the deep truths I find in my beloved fantasy stories.
Normally, I avoid young adult or new adult stories; too much angst and not enough sex. Add to that my typical avoidance of apocalyptic books and those with love triangles, and the Arcana series would normally be relegated to my top three Greatest Miss List. But I’m a sucker for Kresley Cole. I would read toilet paper if she wrote on it. But, I’m hooked on the Arcana Chronicles. All hail Tar O! Also, there’s only one book left (which I’m sure will take at least another year to come out, dammit!) so I gotta find out how it ends.
I retreated to my comfort zone for … well, comfort. I rewarded an author who made money recycling previously published stories by compiling them into a single book. I figure that because I pay for convenience in a thousand ways a day, that I might as well add a new book of old stories to my pre-washed, bagged lettuce, my pre-measured instant coffee packets, my detergent and softener pods, and the drive through pharmacy, bank, and brew-through. The few bucks I spent on The Complete Sookie Stackhouse Stories is a small price to pay to keep company with one of my all-time favorite characters.
I’m on a roll of outstanding books. I’ve already mentioned Demon, Interrupted by Elliot Parker, and this week I devoured Robyn Peterman’s latest offering in the Magic and Mayhem series, Three’s a Charm.
I’ve found several new authors of late. My dry spell is over. Phew. These authors are self-published or published by small, independent presses. And it’s hard out there, I know. But, thankfully, quality rises to the top.
I'm still enjoying Jon Merz's fascinating character, Lawson, the Vampire Fixer. Think Ray Donovan with fangs. In fact, I would be delighted to see Liev Schreiber play Lawson in the film adaptation of the series. Jon, you with me? Last time, I wrote about Lawson's absolute discipline and my extreme envy of this—admittedly fictional—quality. Today I want to turn my attention to Lawson’s abiding sense of honor. He is an honorable man, or, more accurately, vampire. He says what he means and he does what he says. He follows through on commitments no matter how difficult or inconvenient. Or even dangerous. He can be counted on. He has honor. Honor is a characteristic I admire.
People tell me I'm a disciplined person. “Are you on drugs?” is my usual response. I feel like the least disciplined person in the world. I’ve broken every resolution and promise I’ve made to myself again and again. I succumb to every temptation. I'm constantly trying to trick myself into following a routine, sticking to a plan, practicing discipline. Today, I'm thinking about discipline through the lens of a new author, Jon F. Merz, and an exciting new series featuring Lawson, the Vampire Fixer. I finished the first book, called, appropriately, The Fixer, and am enjoying the second, The Invoker, with no discipline at all—ravenously devouring page after page. Lawson is an exceptional character.
It's been an eventful couple of weeks. We've enjoyed Christmas and New Year's Eve and all of the joyful mayhem that these holidays entail. In addition, my family managed to squeeze in our sons' birthday. That's right, eighteen years ago, three days after Christmas and three before New Year's Eve, we were blessed with a set of beautiful baby boys, weighing in at over six pounds each and putting their mama into intensive care for three days. Not that I hold that against them. Most of the time at least… And you know how everyone tells us how freaking fast it goes? Well, they were right. And while many of the days seemed endless, the years have flown by and our babies are now adult males who had to register for the draft.
I’m still thinking about Amid the Winter Snow, the wonderful anthology I wrote about last week. This week, my Muse was tickled by another novella from the book, The Storm, by Elizabeth Hunter. This is the story of Renata and Maxim, long-time lovers whose chemistry eventually overwhelms the armor around Renata's heart to find their HEA. Joyful. Renata has suffered terrible loss and devastating grief, so much so that she is incapable of any joy. She remembers that her mate, family— her entire community— was slaughtered by their enemies, leaving her mired in her despair. Renata can only remember the pain without the happiness that preceded it, until she is gifted with a release that enables her to access the joy she once felt. The themes of grief obliterating joy and the gift of unencumbered memories touched me deeply.
You know I love my fantasy with a strong dose of truth. I believe in happily ever after, but I also believe that life, specifically mine over the last couple of weeks, sometimes gets in the way. I've had to make some difficult choices about where and how to spend my time. Most unfortunately, my blog has been the big loser in my time management of late. But never fear: I will adjust to my new normal and I will learn how to get 'er done. All of it. Somehow. Luckily, I enjoyed a special treat this past week: a new Thea Harrison novella. I'm on her ARC team (yay!!) and was given an advanced copy of a new anthology, Amid the Winter Snow, with her story, The Chosen, nestled in the middle. It was transportive. And authentic. My favorite.
I've written before about the gift of gratitude and how sometimes we need a little help to focus on what's good instead of what we wished were better. How many of us sit at a Thanksgiving table laden with a ton of traditional fare, football games playing in the background, the hangover and food coma just around the bend, our attention fixed on anything other than giving thanks? I believe this happens more often than not, but maybe I'm projecting my own gratitude inadequacies on the rest of humanity.
I'm devouring the latest (and penultimate!) Charley Davidson book, The Trouble with Twelfth Grave by Darynda Jones. This series is beloved because Charley is a phenomenal character; getting into her head is a joyous privilege. The plot has become a tad complicated, but Ms. Jones gives us a primer on events thus to date and I'm following along pretty well. In this latest installment, Reyes, Charley’s smoking hot husband and deity, has gone to Hell and returned a changed man. [Go figure, Hell has quite an effect on all beings] Charley, a deity in her own right and the Grim Reaper on this plane of existence (complicated, I told you), is trying to discern whether there is anything of the husband she knows and loves left in Reyes' distorted psyche. And while the divine aspects of the story strain credulity the heart of the issue does not.