Monthly Archives: September 2011

Friday Funnies – How to Give a Cat and Dog a Pill

How to Give a Cat A Pill

1. Pick up cat and cradle it in the crook of your left arm as if holding a baby. Position right forefinger and thumb on either side of cat’s mouth and gently apply pressure to cheeks while holding pill in right hand As cat opens mouth, pop pill into mouth. Allow cat to close mouth and swallow.

2.. Retrieve pill from floor and cat from behind sofa.   Cradle cat in left arm and repeat process.

3. Retrieve cat from bedroom, and throw soggy pill away.

4. Take new pill from foil wrap, cradle cat in left arm, holding rear paws tightly with left hand. Force jaws open and push pill to back of mouth with right forefinger. Hold mouth shut for a count of ten.

5. Retrieve pill from goldfish bowl and cat from top of wardrobe. Call spouse from garden.

6. Kneel on floor with cat wedged firmly between knees, hold front and rear paws. Ignore low growls emitted by cat. Get spouse to hold head firmly with one hand while forcing wooden ruler into mouth. Drop pill down ruler and rub cat’s throat vigorously.

7. Retrieve cat from curtain rail, get another pill from foil wrap. Make note to buy new ruler and repair curtains. Carefully sweep shattered figurines and vases from hearth and set to one side for gluing later.

8. Wrap cat in large towel and get spouse to lie on cat with head just visible from below armpit. Put pill in end of drinking straw, force mouth open with pencil, and blow down drinking straw.

9. Check label to make sure pill not harmful to humans. Drink 1 beer to take taste away. Apply Band-Aid to spouse’s forearm and remove blood from carpet with cold water and soap.

10. Retrieve cat from neighbor’s shed. Get another pill. Open another beer. Place cat in cupboard and close door onto neck, leaving the head showing. Force mouth open with dessert spoon. Flick pill down throat with elastic band.

11. Fetch screwdriver from garage and put cupboard door back on hinges. Drink beer. Fetch bottle of scotch. Pour shot, drink. Apply cold compress to cheek and check records for date of last tetanus shot.  Apply whiskey compress to cheek to disinfect. Toss back another shot. Throw tee shirt away and fetch new one from bedroom.

12. Call fire department to retrieve the damn cat from the tree across the road. Apologize to neighbor who crashed into fence while swerving to avoid cat. Take last pill from foil wrap.

13. Tie the little *&#%^’s front paws to rear paws with garden twine and bind tightly to leg of dining table. Retrieve heavy-duty pruning gloves from shed. Push pill into mouth followed by large piece of filet steak. Be rough about it. Hold head vertically and pour 2 pints of water down throat to wash pill down.

14. Consume remainder of scotch. Get spouse to drive you to the emergency room, sit quietly while doctor stitches fingers and forearm and removes pill remnants from right eye. Call furniture shop on way home to order new table.

15. Arrange for SPCA to collect mutant cat from hell and call local pet shop to see if they have any hamsters.

——————————————————————————–

How To Give A Dog A Pill

1. Wrap it in bacon.

2. Toss it in the air.

Posted in Friday Funnies | Tagged | 7 Comments

Helping Underprivileged Kids This Christmas

Okay, slightly more serious topic than usual.

I’d like to ask for your help. I’m contributing to a program this December where a few kids from the neighborhoods around my church who come from very poor families will be donated a Christmas dinner, toys, given games to play and other activities to do for the day, spend time with Santa, and meet a participating celebrity or two.

Here’s what you can do — what I’m asking for are donations of NEW:

  • clothing
  • books (preferrably middle grade / young adult – any books donated should be appropriate for children and teens)
  • toiletries
  • makeup
  • gift cards (preferably to Target and Walmart)

While we can accept toys and such for younger kids, I’ve been asked for special concentration on things for teenagers, as the pickings for them were pretty slim last year. There should be about 20 teens attending. Please bear in mind that these kids wouldn’t get gifts for Christmas or any kind of special way to celebrate the holiday if we weren’t providing for them. We do want to make this special but also give them something they can come away with that they can use, will make their lives easier, etc. Most of these kids don’t have iPods or computers or even TVs and DVD players, so please bear that in mind regarding any any kind of electronics, media, or gift cards you’re thinking of sending.

If you’re willing to help, please send your donations to my address by no later than December 2nd, and I will make sure everything gets delivered, wrapped, etc. We’re holding the actual event on December 17th. I’m not sure if I can post pictures due to the nature of this program, but if possible, I will see what I can do after the event so you can get an idea of how your contributions can change the lives of these kids. (And believe me, it does. I cried when I saw the pics from last year.)

Here’s where to send any care packages:

Jess Haines
RE: Christmas Donos
249 N. Brand Blvd. #587
Glendale, CA  91203

Please do not wrap any gifts you send. You can include wrapping and ribbon in the package if you want, but we need to know what we receive so we can ensure it goes to a child of the right age range and gender (we don’t want a 16 year old boy walking out with a Barbie or an 8 year old getting a copy of THE HUNGER GAMES, that sort of thing).

I’d very much appreciate it if you would help spread the word by forwarding or re-posting this information on your own blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

Thank you very much.

Posted in Rants & Raves | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Friday Funnies – The 5 Stages of Drunkenness

There Are 5 Stages Of Drunkenness:

Stage 1 – SMART
This is when you suddenly become an expert on every subject in the known Universe. You know you know everything and want to pass on your knowledge to anyone who will listen. At this stage you are always RIGHT. And of course the person you are talking to is very WRONG. This makes for an interesting argument when both parties are SMART.

Stage 2 – GOOD LOOKING
This is when you realize that you are the BEST LOOKING person in the entire bar and that people want you. You can go up to a perfect stranger knowing they want you and really want to talk to you. Bear in mind that you are still SMART, so you can talk to this person about any subject under the sun.

Stage 3 – RICH
This is when you suddenly become the richest person in the world. You can buy drinks for the entire bar because you have an armored truck full of money parked behind the bar. You can also make bets at this stage, because of course, you are still SMART, so naturally you will win all your bets. It doesn’t matter how much you bet because you are RICH. You will also buy drinks for everyone who you fancy, because now you are the BEST LOOKING person in the world.

Stage 4 – BULLET PROOF
You are now ready to pick fights with anyone and everyone–especially those with whom you have been betting or arguing. This is because nothing can hurt you. At this point you can also go up to the partners of the people you fancy and challenge them to a battle of wits or money. You have no fear of losing this battle because you are SMART, you are RICH, and, hell, you’re BETTER LOOKING than they are anyway!

Stage 5 – INVISIBLE
This is the Final Stage of Drunkenness. At this point you can do anything because NO ONE CAN SEE YOU. You can dance on a table to impress the people you fancy because the rest of the people in the room cannot see you. You are also invisible to the person who wants to fight you. You can walk through the street singing at the top of your lungs because no one can see or hear you, and because you’re still SMART you know all the words.

Alcohol Warnings

The FDA is considering additional warnings on beer and alcohol bottles, such as:

1. WARNING: Consumption of alcohol may make you think you are whispering when you are not.

2. WARNING: Consumption of alcohol may cause you to tell the same boring story over and over again until your friends want to SMASH YOUR HEAD.

3. WARNING: Consumption of alcohol may cause you to thay shings like thish.

4. WARNING: Consumption of alcohol may lead you to believe that ex-lovers are really dying for you to telephone them at 4 in the morning.

5. WARNING: Consumption of alcohol may leave you wondering what the hell happened to your pants.

6. WARNING: Consumption of alcohol may cause you to roll over in the morning and see something really scary (whose species and/or name you can’t remember).

7. WARNING: Consumption of alcohol is the leading cause of inexplicable rug burns on the forehead.

8. WARNING: Consumption of alcohol may lead you to think people are laughing WITH you.

9. WARNING: Consumption of alcohol may cause an influx in the time-space continuum, whereby small (and sometimes large) gaps of time may seem to disappear.

Drink responsibly, kids. And have a nice weekend!

Posted in Friday Funnies | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

2012 Appearances and Some H&W #4 News

One of the most frequently asked questions I get these days is when to expect H&W Book #4.  If you’re subscribed to my newsletter, you already know the answer.  *g*

For those of you who’ve been left hanging, keep an eye out for STALKING THE OTHERS coming July 3rd, 2012!

You might notice that the book has a new title—it’s no longer JUSTICE FOR THE OTHERS.  Aside from that change, I’m told there will also be a new style of cover.  Though I don’t have anything to share just yet, I do know there is a new cover artist, and that the times, they are a-changin’… Well, maybe one thing to share. Here’s one of my favorite lines from the work in progress–and I’ll leave it up to you to guess who Shia is with. Mwahaha!

Then, surprise, surprise, he grabbed my hands to put them back to where I’d found a death grip on his ass a moment before—and what a fine ass it was, solid as bedrock—because he was obviously enjoying my encouraging squeezes.

Feel free to speculate in the comments. *g*

I’m still working on writing it, but I expect I’ll have reviewer ARCs maybe in March or April.  If that feels like forever to wait, in a very short time you can keep yourself occupied with my latest short story in THE REAL WEREWIVES OF VAMPIRE COUNTY which releases—GASP—next month, October 25th!  I’m woefully behind on mailing ARCs of this book (as well as a few other things), but reviewers can expect it shortly, as I’ll be doing a mass mailing on Friday.

If you are not a reviewer and/or are so inclined, you can pre-order Werewives at Amazon, on the Kindle, from Barnes & Noble, or Book Depository, to name just a few fine establishments carrying the book.

Now, if you’d like to know where you can stalk me in 2012, so far, I’ve lined up two events:

 
Passion & Prose
(Featuring Meg Cabot, Christina Dodd, M.L. Malcolm, etc)
February 25, 2012
The Westin Hotel
333 E. Ocean Blvd.
Long Beach, CA 90802
Ticket information: www.mystgalaxy.com (there’s a downloadable PDF flyer here)
 
Authors After Dark
August 8th-12th, 2012
Royal Sonesta Hotel
300 Bourbon Street
New Orleans, LA  70130
Ticket information: www.authorsafterdark.org
 

I’m ridiculously excited for these events, and I hope I’ll see some of you there.  Anyone have plans to attend Passion & Prose or AAD?  Let me know in the comments!

Also, on a disrelated note, it’s Carlolyn Crane’s birthday today!  I recently did a review of her first book, MIND GAMES, and met her at Authors After Dark in Philly. She’s adorable and sweet and you should totally find her on Twitter or swing by her webpage to tell her HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!  

That’s all for now, folks.  See you on Friday for the latest Friday Funnies…

Posted in Rants & Raves | Tagged , , , , , , | 17 Comments

I’m Up for a Few Bookie Awards!

Holy wow! I’m honored that I’ve been nominated (by you, the readers) into this year’s Bookie Awards! I was lucky enough to be a presenter at Authors After Dark this year, and I can tell you, it warms me right down to the cockles of my heart that some of you felt strongly enough to vote me onto the ballot.

If you want to vote for me and some of your other favorite romance and urban fantasy authors this year, click here to take the survey. You’ll find me in the following categories:

1. Anthology of the Year – The Real Werewives of Vampire County

6. Shifter Short Story of the Year – What’s Yours is Mine

24. Most Accessible Author – Yours Truly

29. Reader Voted Star of Tomorrow – Yours Truly

33. Series of the Year – H&W Investigations

38. Vampire Short Story of the Year – What’s Yours Is Mine (though I would like to point out it would not be fair to vote for me on this one–the story is more about werewolves than vampires)

39. Werewolf Novel of the Year - Deceived by the Others

46. Best Foreplay Scene – Taken by the Others (Wait, wut–when did I write foreplay in that one? Maybe when Royce had Shia up against the wall in her apartment? Never mind, I’m not complaining. RAWR.)

46. Best Foreplay Scene – Deceived by the Others has ALSO been nominated for this category! Holy schnikes!

50. Best Villain – Max Carlyle

So, there you have it! Sally forth and vote as you will. Thanks again for considering me for so many categories! My readers rock my socks!

…as an aside, I don’t know what cockles are, but they sound dirty. *brow waggle*

Posted in Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Friday Funnies – Dictionary For Arguing With Women

This Friday, I’ve decided to give the guys a few helpful tips since last week’s Friday Funnies was more for the women in the audience. Enjoy!

DICTIONARY FOR ARGUING WITH WOMEN

1. “Fine”
This is the word women use at the end of any argument when they feel they are right but can’t stand to hear you argue any longer. It means that you should shut up. (NEVER use “Fine” to describe how she looks. This will cause you to have one of those arguments.)

2. “Five minutes”
This is half an hour. It is equivalent to the five minutes that your football game is going to last before you take out the trash, so women feel that it’s an even trade.

3. “Nothing”
“Nothing” means something and you should be on your toes. “Nothing” is usually used to describe the feeling a woman has of wanting to turn you inside out, upside down, and backwards. “Nothing” usually signifies an argument that will last “Five Minutes” and end with the word “Fine.”

4. “Go Ahead” (with raised eyebrows)
This is NOT permission; it’s a dare! If you mistake it for permission, the result will be the woman will get upset over “Nothing” and you’ll have a “Five-minute” discussion that will end with the word “Fine.”

5. “Go Ahead” (normal eyebrows)
This is NOT permission, either. It means, “I give up” or “do what you want because I don’t care.” You will get a raised eyebrow “Go Ahead” in just a few minutes, followed by “Nothing” and “Fine” and she will talk to you in about “Five Minutes” when she cools off.

6. “Loud Sigh”
This is not actually a word, but is still often a verbal statement.  Very frequently misunderstood by men. A “Loud Sigh” means she thinks you are a complete idiot and wonders why she is wasting her time standing here and arguing with you over “Nothing.”

7. “Soft Sigh”
Again, not a word, but a verbal statement. “Soft Sighs” are one of the few things that some men actually understand. It means she is momentarily content. Your best bet is to not move or breathe in the hope that the moment will last a bit longer.

8. “Oh”
This word-followed by any statement-is trouble. Example; “Oh, let me get that”. Or, “Oh, I talked to him about what you were doing last night.” If she says “Oh” before a statement, run, do not walk, to the nearest exit. She will tell you that she is “Fine” when she is done tossing your clothes out the window, but do not expect her to talk to you for at least two days.

9. “That’s Okay”
This is one of the most dangerous statements that a woman can say to a man. “That’s Okay” means that she wants to think long and hard before deciding what the penalty will be for whatever you have done. “That’s Okay” is often used with the word “Fine” and in conjunction with a raised eyebrow “Go Ahead.” Once she has had time to plan it out, you are in for some mighty big trouble.

10. “Please Do”
This is not a statement, it is an offer. The woman is giving you the chance to come up with an excuse for what you have done. In other words, a chance to get yourself into even more trouble. If you handle this correctly, you shouldn’t get a “That’s Okay.”

11. “Thanks”
The woman is thanking you. Don’t faint and don’t look for hidden meaning. Just say, “you’re welcome.”

12. “Thanks A Lot”
Dramatically different from “Thanks.” A woman will say “Thanks A Lot” when she is really ticked off at you. It is usually followed by the “Loud Sigh.” This signifies that you have hurt her in some callous way. Be careful not to ask what is wrong after the “Loud Sigh,” as she will only tell you “Nothing.”

Posted in Friday Funnies | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Us vs. Them – Traditional vs. Self Publishing

When it comes to the traditional vs. self publishing debate, I tend to keep my mouth shut. I’ll say up front that I haven’t self published anything and I’m not usually one to rock the boat by getting involved in such a hot topic. However, I do keep an eye on the trends, commentary, speculation, and news that floats around the internet about my industry, which self publishing is a part of.

Sometimes I come across stories that make me scratch my head or roll my eyes. If they’re interesting enough, I tend to share them privately with a few friends, but you won’t see me comment on them in public.

Well, today I have something to say.

I find people like Polly Courtney who post pictures of themselves pole dancing online who then go on to complain about how their employer and then their publisher treated them was sexist and condescending is just… ugh. Seriously? You’re not giving back your advance? I thought you believed they were treating you unfairly and that you don’t want to work with them. You must have known that the cover that you complained about on launch day was going to look like that for MONTHS in advance of publication. You’re only just now complaining about it—to the media rather than your publisher, no less—the day the book is released?

Fuck that. No, seriously. Fuck. That. Guess what? The big, bad pro-published guys are not out to get you. The Man isn’t here to keep you down. Editors and agents have not made it their mission in life to make you miserable.

Shocking, right?

When I see someone like Kiana Davenport go off about how their publisher has treated them and how awful things are because they have to pay back their $20,000 advance and oh, woe is me, I shall self publish and go indie because it’s the stylish and “right thing to do” and damn The Man, frankly, it boggles me. Who are you sticking it to? The people who worked hard to find a way to market and print your book and put it in stores and get it into as many hands as possible. The people who believed in your work enough to pay you money (a LOT of freaking money in this economy–the $20K wasn’t even the full amount of the advance) up front for it regardless of whether they would earn that money back and if you smack-talk them in public.

Sorry, chicky, but I have no sympathy for you. Whose fault is it if you didn’t read your contract? Take a look in the mirror. A few other people don’t think you handled this well, either, and they said why a lot more intelligently than I am at the moment.

Let’s look at some pros and cons.

Traditional Publishing Pros:

  • You get an advance (money given to you that the publisher is “guesstimating” you will earn back within a year or so of publication). Unless you make a fuck-up of epic proportions, that advance is yours. You don’t have to pay it back. Seriously, you have to work to piss off your publisher and have your book cancelled, especially after they have already paid you part of that advance. I’m looking at you, Kiana.
  • You don’t have to pay for editing, marketing, publicity, book cover design, printing, etc. Someone is double-checking your work every step of the way for continuity, spelling, and/or grammar errors, and your work is also checked for any potential legality issues. That’s all handled and paid for by your publisher.
  • Your editor bought your book because they believe it will sell. They fought to get you in over other books to sell you to their board, and they think you’ve got something worth putting into the hands of the reading public. That is a very powerful ally to have in your court.
  • Your publisher will handle most of the marketing, so your attention is freed up to do what you love most—writing books.
  • You have an entire company full of experienced people who are working hard to make sure YOUR work is a success—because if you succeed, so do they. They make money off of your book. That’s why this is a professional industry, and not just a “hey, this seems like a nice thing to do, let’s give it a whirl” hobby for most authors.

Traditional Publishing Cons:

  • Sometimes you have to change something you aren’t particularly happy about changing. If you fight against it, you might be considered “hard to work with” and not get another book deal.
  • Sometimes you have to keep something (*cough*fugly book covers*cough*) that you don’t want to. If you fight against it, you might be considered “hard to work with” and not get another book deal.
  • If you are one of those people who gets a tiny advance and your book is going straight to paperback, you might not get much attention from your publisher because you’re one of what in some cases can be literally hundreds of books on their list and they don’t have an equal amount of time to devote to everybody. That means you may have to do some of this marketing biz yourself. It’s not personal—it’s business.
  • There is a possibility you might not earn out your advance or even make the publisher enough money in sales to justify them signing you on for more books. You may never earn more money for your book(s) than what you received for your advance.
  • It can take a really damned long time to get your full advance, get your book on the shelves, get your royalty statements, etc.
  • Rejections hurt. No one likes to hear their stuff isn’t good enough. No one.

Self Publishing Pros:

  • Full control over the entire publishing process.
  • You don’t have to change a thing about your work if you don’t want to.
  • Instant gratification (most companies that offer this service from what I have heard will pay you immediately once you reach a certain amount of money, or pay you once a week/month/whatever, and will also let you see your sales figures right away).

Self Publishing Cons:

  • No advance.
  • No vetting process (there’s no one double-checking your work for errors or for potential legal issues).
  • You are one of so many, getting your voice heard in the market is incredibly difficult. Have you looked on Amazon lately? How many self published books are available there? How many of those books or authors have you heard of aside from Amanda Hocking or Barry Eisler or J.A. Konrath? Per an article on How Publishing Really Works, the average sales figure for a self published (POD or Print On Demand) novel in 2009 was less than 200 copies, and even then, most of the sales were to the author rather than to the reading public. I did a quick search for info on ebooks publishing figures, but I wasn’t able to find anything that answers the question of averages. To give you an idea, based on my royalty statements (and I’ve only seen the figures, both in the five digit range, for two books so far—HUNTED BY THE OTHERS and NOCTURNAL) my ebooks make up less than 10% of my sales. If all you’re publishing are ebooks, it looks like you’re missing out on an awful lot of potential sales. Are you starting to get the picture?
  • As Amanda Hocking herself once said, “The amount of time and energy I put into marketing is exhausting. I am continuously overwhelmed by the amount of work I have to do that isn’t writing a book. I hardly have time to write anymore, which sucks and terrifies me…Just because I sell a million books self publishing, it doesn’t mean everybody will. In fact, more people will sell less than 100 copies of their books self publishing than will sell 10,000 books.”
  • You have to pay for everything yourself—editing, marketing, publicity, cover art—all of it, and you might never make enough sales to earn that money back.
  • Even though you haven’t been “traditionally published,” you can still be rejected—by readers and reviewers. Have you seen many (if any) self published books reviewed by Publisher’s Weekly, Locus, NY Times, etc?

Now, as a published author with a New York house (Kensington), you might think I’m anti-self publishing. That’s the farthest thing from the truth. I really could care less if you self publish. I’ve read some fantastic self published books by David McAfee, Jill Myles, Annie Nicholas, and others. One of my favorite short stories was self published. What do I care how you get your book out there? Honestly? As long as it’s well written and edited, I could not give less of a crap how your book was made available.

So, seriously. Where I’m going with this is for those of you who are pissed off at agents and publishers to just stop it with the finger pointing and the whining and making the traditionally published authors, the agents, and the publishers out to be the bad guys. Read your damned contracts and ask questions if you’re not sure where the line is in the sand. We’re not here to keep you down or hurt you or slam you or make you into a victim. Some of you are doing a fantastic job of that all by your lonesome.

Quite a lot of agents and editors have made a point of being helpful and trying to show you how to make it as a traditionally published author. Have you seen my blog roll? I’ve barely scratched the surface of the number of agents and editors out there who try to post helpful advice on the internet. Have you read the thousands of posts from Miss Snark, Evil Editor, Janet Reid / Query Shark, Bookends, Nathan Bransford (from when he was an agent)—need I go on—all trying to help you? Come on, people. Yeah, there are some “professionals” who are rude and cruel in this industry. It’s true. However, that doesn’t mean EVERYONE is out to get you, or that ALL traditional publishing is bad, or that you need to “stick it” to someone just because you don’t like how the game is played.

There are plenty of us who do. I want to thank all of the agents and editors out there who don’t tolerate this sort of behavior. I want to thank all of the people in the publishing industry who have made a point to help those of us who were at one time floundering newbies who didn’t know which way was up. I want to thank all of the people who took the time to educate themselves and worked out their differences quietly, in non-newsworthy fashion. I want to thank those of you who are self published who don’t make asses of yourselves in an effort to get attention.

Politeness and courtesy goes a lot farther than being a snot, I promise you. Biting the hand that feeds you and then blaming them for smacking you on the nose with a rolled up newspaper is in poor taste and will not garner you any sympathy. Being an internet phenomenon for five minutes thanks to having a public tantrum might get you a lot of attention, but it’s not the right kind, and the sales you get from it will peak—and then that beautiful rise will disappear within a few days or weeks as morbid curiosity/rubbernecking fades, and never return. The only way people will remember you is as “that person who exploded on the internet way back when“.

What I’m trying to say is, you don’t have to take an “Us vs. Them” view on this subject. You really don’t. As long as you understand what you’re getting into on both sides, there’s no reason to cop an attitude about who you read or who you work with or how you get your prose out there. There’s room enough in the pool for everyone to play, and most of the authors, agents, editors, and other publishing professionals I know are fantastically, genuinely nice people. Really, there are a lot of you who are true gems, a boon to this industry. Not the least of which being my own agent and editor.

I really do appreciate the people who take the time to educate themselves, understand this, and realize that there’s no reason we can’t all be in this together. You guys are awesome. And I’ll always have your back.

Posted in Rants & Raves, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Book Review – MIND GAMES

Title: MIND GAMES
Author: Carolyn Crane
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Disillusionists

JUSTINE KNOWS SHE’S GOING TO DIE. ANY SECOND NOW.

Justine Jones has a secret. A hardcore hypochondriac, she’s convinced a blood vessel is about to burst in her brain. Then, out of the blue, a startlingly handsome man named Packard peers into Justine’s soul and invites her to join his private crime-fighting team. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime deal. With a little of Packard’s hands-on training, Justine can weaponize her neurosis, turning it outward on Midcity’s worst criminals, and finally get the freedom from fear she’s always craved. End of problem.

Or is it? In Midcity, a dashing police chief is fighting a unique breed of outlaw with more than human powers. And while Justine’s first missions, including one against a nymphomaniac husband-killer, are thrilling successes, there is more to Packard than meets the eye. Soon, while battling her attraction to two very different men, Justine is plunging deeper into a world of wizardry, eroticisim, and cosmic secrets. With Packard’s help, Justine has freed herself from her madness–only to discover a reality more frightening than anyone’s worst fears.

My Review:

I’ve had this book on my radar for a while, but never got around to reading it until I met Carolyn at Authors After Dark. Well, it also took a little nudge from Binah to get me to move my ass and pick it up. Specifically, it took Binah telling me three to five times a day every day for a week and then forcibly putting it into my hands to get me to bump it up in my queue and read it.

What the hell was I waiting for? This book is pure awesomesauce.

Justine is a hardcore hypochondriac. She’s positive that she’s going to die via vein star syndrome, just like her mom. Her medical bills from all the late night trips to the ER are sky high. Her boyfriend is on the verge of leaving her. The fear is paralyzing her, ruining her relationships and her life.

When presented with a way out from the fear controlling her life by an intriguing and mighty sexy dude, she takes his offer to help—in the form of becoming a member of his team of disillusionists. For great heaping gobs of money, they “disillusion” criminals of their justifications and reasons for acting evil, break down their mental defenses, and force them to face who and what they really are. By doing so, it destroys the criminal’s life of crime, and “reboots” them into a moral person who wants to right the wrongs they committed.

As Packard’s minion, Justine works with a small team of other people who suffer similar mental problems, and she learns how to “zing” a target by infecting them with her own hypochondria. Every zing leaves her clean and free of fear for a time and brings the target that much closer to breaking down so they can regain their humanity. As soon as her misgivings start to come back, all she has to do is zing a target again, and she’s “cured”.

The only catch is that once you start, you can’t stop—and there are only certain people she’s able to disillusion. If she zings the wrong one, she’ll become a vegetable. She’s left at the mercy of Packard to find out who the safe targets are. He isn’t the savior from that path to certain death Justine thought. In fact, she can’t even be sure all of her targets are as evil as he says.

MIND GAMES is an apt title for this book. It’s hard to detail why without giving away more than I already have. Carolyn has built a delicious, rich world, one which I am very much looking forward to delving back into in the next installment—very soon. Though I’m decidedly curious if there will be another cucumber mention… *cough* Whether you end up on Team Kabob or Team Cucumber (or, like me, Team Noncommittal), it’s impossible not to get sucked into this book. The twists, turns, and surprises are fantastically executed and had me hooked from the get-go. I can’t wait for the next book!

4/5

Series Order:
1. Mind Games
2. Double Cross
3. Head Rush (Coming December 2011)

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Friday Funnies – Find the Dogs

I’ve decided that I’m going to post jokes and funny pictures on Fridays from now on since I have so damned many of them and I love sharing these things. For my first Friday Funnies, I’m going to give you an excellent mental/visual exercise.

This is a visual-perception challenge for you. See how quickly you can find the dogs in the picture below. Men seem to do better at this than women for some reason.

Average times for men and women are:

Women – 12.46 minutes
Men – 1.23 seconds

Typical comments by women taking the test :

1. I couldn’t see a dog and I stared at the picture for a good 10 minutes.

2. I think it’s one of those pictures where you have to stare at a certain spot and then everything comes into focus … but it never happened to me.

3. I’ll give it another try later.

Hint #1: The dogs will appear to be white with black spots.

Hint #2 : There are only 2 dogs in the picture.

Good Luck!

Scroll down…..

I keep staring at it but the dogs just aren’t coming into focus. Heh.

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Book Review — BLOOD RIGHTS

Title: BLOOD RIGHTS
Author: Kristen Painter
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: House of Comarré

My Review:

First, I have to say thank you to Stella for noticing my grabby hands and drooling over the pretty, pretty cover of this book at Authors After Dark! There is no book description on the back of the ARC I received, just blurbs from a few NY Times bestselling authors. So, as I did with Sharon Shinn’s ARCHANGEL, I will make up my own back cover copy!

Comarré are status symbols in the secret underworld of vampires in the form of a trained, geisha-like companion who provides some of the richest blood available—to those who can afford their price, that is. Our heroine, Chrysabelle, is such a comarré. One of the best her house has ever seen.

And she’s been accused of the murder of her patron.

On the run from the vampires who hunt her, she makes some unlikely friends in the form of a ghost, a were-housecat, and an exiled vampire. A very sexy—and very cursed—exiled vampire. Will Chrysabelle survive being hunted? Will she be able to save her friends from the creatures chasing her? Will she bone Mal raw?

…aaaaand I’m going to stop there.

I’ll be honest. I had a love-hate relationship with this book in the beginning. There was a bit of eye rolling to start out, but that soon turned into a fangirly crush that guarantees I’ll be one of the first in line to pick up the sequel FLESH AND BLOOD in November. The characters have such incredible personalities they practically leap off the page. Let me give you an example (this is the inside cover snippet):

She was not for him.

He knew that, and not just because of the voices, but getting his body to agree was a different matter. Her scent was so rich it numbed him like good whiskey. Made him feel needy. Reckless. Finding some shred of control, he shadowed her out of the club, away from the mob awaiting entrance, and herded her deep into the alley. He scanned in both directions. Nothing. They hadn’t been followed. He could get her somewhere safe. Not that he knew where that might be.

“No one saw us leave.”

She backed away, hugging herself beneath her coat. Her chest rose and fell as though she’d run a marathon. Fear soured her sweet perfume. She had to be in some kind of trouble. Why else would she be here without an escort? Without her patron?

“Trust me, we’re completely alone.” He reached awkwardly to put his arm around her, the first attempt at comfort he’d made in years.

Quicker than a human eye could track, her arm snapped from under the coat, something dark clutched in her hand. The side of her fist slammed into his chest. Whatever she held pierced him, missing his heart by inches. The voices shrieked, deafening him. Corrosive pain erupted where she made contact.

He froze, immobilized by the hellfire scorching his insides. He fell to his knees and collapsed against the damp pavement. Foul water soaked his clothing as he lay there, her fading footfalls drowned out by the howling in his head.

As you can see, the writing is excellent. Passionate, gripping, and exciting. So, yes, I had a lot of fun with this book, but it had some flaws which I feel would make me remiss if I failed to mention them. There are some logic fails and a couple of TSTL moments, as well as a lack of explanation as to why some things occurred.

One of the major points which is never made fully clear is exactly how Mal was granted Chrysabelle’s blood rights. If I understand the mythos correctly, vampires come to the comarré house and place a monetary “bid” for the companionship of a comarré (female) or comar (male). This gives the vampire the rights to do whatever they like—I think just short of killing their companion—for the next 100 years. The comarré then has the option to either fight to the death for their freedom and to regain their blood rights, or to remain by the vampire’s side. It’s unclear if the bond between patron and comarré is mystical other than that the vampire’s saliva injected during their bite grants the comarré some special perks, e.g., slows aging/extends their lifespan/grants them extra speed, stamina, agility, whatever.

Chrysabelle is knocked unconscious at one point and Mal directs another vampire who is acting as a doctor to use her blood in a transfusion for someone else. Did he suddenly get some mystical claim to her blood rights that way? If so, it’s never exactly explained why or how it ties in to the established mythos. It was very odd to see her fighting with him over whether or not he had her blood rights—him saying no, her saying yes. I thought she wanted her freedom?

Also, “Special snowflake-ism” runs rampant. (Heroine: Pale skin, long/pale hair, golden tattoos, violet eyes, vampire-crack blood, excellent fighter. Hero: Vampire, super hot, magnetic attraction to heroine, emotionally tortured, silver eyes when hungry/horny/excited, excellent fighter. Side character #1: Ghost, died at vampire hero’s hand, can occasionally take a corporeal form and feed said vamp her blood [?!]. Side character #2: Were-housecat, who occasionally functions as comic relief, and is hot/built/powerful in his human form. Need I go on?)

Here’s the thing—despite its flaws, it is still a very enjoyable book. Part of the reason I was able to forgive all of the above and soldier on is that the story and the way it was written reminds me of the glory days of roleplaying Vampire: the Masquerade / World of Darkness online back in the 90’s/early 00’s. It hit a very personal note for me on that level, and that played a huge part in why I devoured this book very nearly in a single sitting.

Also, some of the world building is very intriguing, and I’m quite curious to find out more about the comarré and their long term plans. This series does have a lot of potential, and I am hopeful that Painter will take the time to explain in future books some of the things which were not made clear or seemed to jump the shark. It may seem early to say anything is jumping the shark considering this is only the first book, but the contradictions of the mythos and character derailment that pepper the story may (note: not will but may) give you a bit of reading whiplash. I don’t want to spoil the story for anyone so I’m not going to go into much detail here. It’s entirely possible you won’t notice what I did when you’re reading, so take what I say here with a grain of salt.

My opinion is that people who are able to turn off their logic-meters and just enjoy the story for the sake of the action and intrigue will get a kick out of it. You might hit a few speed bumps along the way, but it’s like watching a movie along the lines of Last Action Hero, Waterworld, Air Force One, etc. Don’t question too closely, don’t nitpick the details, just sit back and enjoy the ride. Regardless of whatever else I’ve said, it’s a fun story, and–if nothing else–the characters make it a worthwhile read.

If you can’t bring yourself to turn your logic-meter off, you will likely take issue with it. If you’re like me, and you went through a teenage phase where you played vampires and hunters on AOL, I think you’ll be just as sucked into this story as I was.

4/5

Series Order:
1. Blood Rights (Coming October 1, 2011)
2. Flesh and Blood (Coming November, 2011)
3. Bad Blood (Coming December, 2011)

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