I was working on an editing related post today, but I got derailed from that by the news that my aunt and uncle from Arizona were in the area and wanted to meet up. Now, I don’t know about the rest of you, but my house isn’t “drop in ready”, though I wouldn’t term it a total disaster. And I did find out this morning that they were going to be in the area. So I had a little warning. Good thing I already don’t expect to get much work done on Tuesdays since that’s the day Brianna is home with me. I managed to get things picked up, run the Roomba (love the Roomba!) and clean the kitchen through the day, in preparation for their arrival.

We had a wonderful, three-hour visit. This is one of my mom’s sisters, a side of the family I’ve had very little contact with since my mom’s death almost 15 years ago. It’s actually a large family, my mom had 8 brothers and sisters, and each of the 8, with the exception of one (who’s been a bachelor his entire life–but is getting married this weekend!) had multiple children. Many of whom have had multiple children. Like I said, big family. But it’s been since my grandmother’s death…ten years ago? That I’ve seen most of the family. It was the last time we were all together and will, I suspect, be the last time. Some of them are barely speaking to each other (if at all).

One of the great things about meeting with my aunt was hearing stories about the family–and my own childhood. Keeping in mind that my mom died when I was 17, basically just a child really, there were a lot of memories/undercurrents that she never shared with me. Had she lived, these are things I probably would have learned with time. And family drama would have been shared with me via her. But with her passing, I wasn’t close to anyone/didn’t keep in contact with anyone. During dinner with my aunt and uncle, I learned things that I never knew, such as my mom’s reason for keeping me back a year in school (I could have started a year earlier but another aunt convinced my mom to keep me back a year so I’d be in the same grade as her daughter). My aunt Yvonne (the one I had dinner with tonight) disagreed with this decision. She said I was a bright child, more than ready to start school, with good verbal skills. This caused my other aunt, Sue, to take offense in some way and was apparently the cause of a now lifelong rift between them. Weird, huh? The delightful thing was Yvonne said that one of the most common statements she heard from my mom during my school years was how bored I was, because I wasn’t challenged. She said she never said “I told you so” though. I love it!

It was weird to me, to hear about my mom talking about me, to think of my mom as well, a mom. Like me. My dad and I don’t have conversations about my childhood. Maybe dads don’t hold the same memories of things. And since I’m not close to any family, there’s no one to tell me those stories. It was neat and it kind of…made me long for more.

One of the other fascinating things that came out during our meeting was that Yvonne is very passionately interested in geneaology. She’s researched our family line back to…well, I think I heard 40,000 names as a number mentioned. My grandmother’s roots are in England, royalty and aristocracy. My grandfather’s? German peasants. Harder to research, she says 😉 But the history she told was very interesting, and all the “bad” ancestors and their stories (one was a lawman who found out his wife was having an affair. The story goes that he put her lover in a brick wall, walled him in, and made her sit outside and listen to him die. Cold!).

So anyway, the few hours I spent getting the house in order was totally worth it, to reconnect to some family, hear some stories and spend some time with someone who remembers my history. I might even do it again sometime 😉

Poor fish…

We have a five gallon fish tank that Brianna likes because she can feed the fish in that one (we don’t let her feed the saltwater tank). Today she fed them and I noticed no fishes were eating. They were all…gone. I was pretty puzzled, what would cause four fish to all die suddenly?

Answer: boil them. Seems “someone” turned up the heater on the fish tank. Poor fish.

How do I…

Stop someone from stealing my bandwidth by using the links to my photos? I discovered that someone is sharing some pictures that I’ve shared here (pics of celebrities, not Brianna, though isn’t that a frightening thought?) using my links, which are hosted on my site. So stealing my bandwidth. How do I prevent that?

Reading round-up

I’ve read a few books in the past months. Not many, but a few. I’m just going to provide general thoughts on them, sorry no big reviews. I’m terrible at those. It feels too much like editing/rejection letters/revise and resubmits. In other words, too much like work 😉

Red Phoenix: Dark Heavens Book Two by Kylie Chan
White Tiger: Dark Heavens Book One by Kylie Chan

I first saw these books on Racy Li’s blog, where she talked about them. I liked the covers, thought the blurbs sounded interesting and went looking for them. And almost immediately realized they were going to cost me an arm and a leg because they were only available in Australia and holy buckets, do you know who expensive shipping is from Australia? So I did what any sane person would do. I asked one of my authors in Australia to buy them and bring them over for me when she came for RT. She was lovely and went about hunting them down for me in Oz (they apparently weren’t easy to find) but I’m so glad we both went to the trouble.

I read these two books back to back. I almost gave up on the first about 75-100 pages in because the heroine was a little inconsistent. And the book itself has some slow pacing spots. I thought it could have used a little trimming in places and they are long books, so I think some of it wouldn’t have been too missed. But the story themselves are interesting and I did enjoy them, and will be buying the third (somehow/someway). If you’re feeling motivated, go ahead and order them from Australia, but if they were to become available in the US, I’d recommend them to those who’d enjoy a romance interspersed with a lot of Chinese mythology. I will say that the heroine is quite Mary Sue** (see bottom of entry), though, so if you hate that type of heroine, avoid at all costs. I’m not one to be bothered by things like that, and the story itself drew me in enough to move me past that. I am a character driven reader and these books had a nice cast of interesting characters, with the fight between good and evil being the underlying theme in the books.

Actually, I read these in May and I know the third releases in August. I find myself a little anxious for that third one to see how it all comes out, so they hooked me! And I shared my copies with Racy Li, she said she’ll be special ordering the third as well.

Demon Hunters: Hunting the Demon (Book 2) by Jaci Burton
Next I had an ARC of Jaci Burton’s Hunting the Demon. Most of you know that Jaci is like my Best Friend For-evah so of course, my opinion is probably suspect, but I had a great time reading this book. I actually thought it was even better than the first, Surviving Demon Island. It was fun and sexy. Of course, you have to wait until August 28th to find out if you agree 🙂

The Silver Spoon by Stacey Klemstein

Stacey was introduced to me by Linnea Sinclair (who I’m a huge fan of) at RT and she very graciously gave me a copy of her book. Silver Spoon is an interesting and unique type of futuristic that takes place on Earth. While there were times when I had a hard time connecting to the relationship between the hero/heroine (which can sometimes be tricky in a first person book), I liked the story itself and hope to read more from Stacey in the future!

Sebastian (Ephemera, Book 1) by Anne Bishop

I’ve always enjoyed Anne Bishop’s books and this one was no different. Though I admit there were times when her worldbuilding made my head hurt, her characterizations are superb and the story is always compelling. I’d be reading the next one tomorrow if I had it on ebook (yes, ebooks shall some day rule the world). If you’re looking to give Anne Bishop a try, I would recommend the Black Jewels books if you like a darker fantasy, or the Pillars of the World if you enjoy witches/fae. Sebastian is a very compelling read, but for first-time readers of Anne Bishop, I think some of her earlier work is a better place to start.

Taste of Night: The Second Sign of the Zodiac by Vicki Pettersson

I admit that I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I enjoyed the first, Scent of Shadows. The heroine irritated me much more in this one and the pacing felt slow for me. But again, I will read the next in the series because I’m curious to see where the story goes, and I did enjoy the story, despite not liking it as much as the first.

Magic Bites (Kate Daniels Series, Book 1) by Ilona Andrews
LOVED this book. Jane had mentioned that there’s basically no romance, and she’s right. But the worldbuilding, the characters and the story are fun, the pace moves fast, and you find yourself sucked in and wanting to keep on reading. I was desperate to discover when the next book comes out and dismayed when I realized that it wasn’t until next year. Bah.

Thief with No Shadow by Emily Gee
I probably enjoyed this book least, of any I’ve discussed here. It’s very dark and the characters themselves only seemed marginally likeable to me. I felt little connection with them and at the end of the book, was unsure why I should want them to have a HEA, probably because of that lack of connection. The author does draw an interesting, if somewhat depressing, world and I think there are people who would probably love this book, though I’m not one of them.

Hunting Party, Winning Colors and Sporting Chance (Heris Serrano) by Elizabeth Moon
In June, I was in Long Island for their annual RWA luncheon. While I was there, I visited the local Borders with the lovely and talented Bianca D’Arc. We spend a good amount of time wandering both the romance and science fiction/fantasy section. Bianca came away with a huge stack of books (I think 8-10) to read. Half of them recommended by me (and boy do I hope she didn’t hate them!). I, on the other hand, bought nothing but children’s books for Brianna. But I did make a mental list of Bianca’s recommendations and included in there were Elizabeth Moon’s books. Bianca actually said her favorites were those featuring Esmay Suiza, but that I should probably start with these three, which feature Heris Serrano, because they’re the first in the series. Well yeah, given my OCD about reading in order, that’s probably a good thing!

I read these three books in rapid, back to back succession. While I found some of the writing habits a little jarring (the rapid POV switch would be one. I’m no POV purist by any means, but this took some getting used to), and in the first book I felt myself wondering where the book was going, and what the point was (I think book one served as the set up for the rest of the series, which can be a difficult thing to muddle through sometimes), I did find the cast of characters interesting and I really looked forward to seeing what happened next, how the author solved the conflict and where she took the characters. While these books do have some romance elements, they’re light, but I’m a fan of space opera and these books were no exception. I have the next in the series, Once a Hero, which features Bianca’s favorite, Esmay Suiza so I’ll report on those once I’ve read them. In the meantime, I recommend these to fans of SL Viehl’s StarDoc series!

Also read but not reviewed because they’ll get their own posts:
Demon Moon by Meljean Brook
Caressed by Ice by Nalini Singh

**The term [Mary Sue] is also somewhat more broadly associated with characters who are exceptionally and improbably lucky, far beyond what can normally be considered realistic; the good luck may be in such common things as romance (“Mary Sue” always gets her man), adventure (“Mary Sue” always wins a fight or knows how to solve the puzzle), and popularity — with the “right people” seeming to gravitate toward the character. The connotation in this sense is not just characters for whom everything eventually ends up happily ever after, but rather characters who meet very little significant challenge or resistance in attempting to achieve their goals. “Everything goes her way” is a common criticism regarding “Mary Sues,” the implication being that the character is not sufficiently humanized or challenged during the course of the story to prove interesting or sympathetic to the reader.
Via Wikipedia

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