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Book Review – Right Hand Magic by Nancy A Collins June 3, 2011

Posted by Realitybypass in Book Review, Book Series, Romance, Urban Fantasy.
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I finished Right Hand Magic a couple of weeks ago, and I have to admit I found it charming.  It it the best, most dramatic urban fantasy I’ve ever read?  Nope.  But it was engaging and really fun, and sometimes fun is exactly what I’m in the mood for.

In Right Hand Magic we meet Tate, who is a trust fund baby defying her socialite parents by choosing the path of an artist, in her case an artist who builds sculptures out of metal.  When the book begins Tate has recently broken up with her boyfriend and is looking for someplace new to live, particularly if the rent price is right and she finds the right rent in the area of the city known as Golgatham.  We’re not given a LOT of background about how magic came into the world, but it’s enough to know that the supernatural exists and that it is untrusted and generally confined within Golgatham.  Usually humans aren’t welcome there, but Tate is desperate for change and at $750 a month she figures it’s worth trying something a little weird.

From this beginning Tate meets her witch born landlord, his obnoxious winged cat familiar, a cellar dwelling seer and a new housemate in the form of a were cougar escaped from the underground fighting pits.  The plot is fairly predictable, but I didn’t mind going on the journey to see just how it’d be achieved.  Tate is a really fun heroine with a spunky attitude, that never crossed over to being mean.  She is not a ‘kick ass’ heroine in the traditional UF sense of killing everything that gets in her way.  More she’s just confident in herself and works hard to achieve her goals and to take care of the people around her.  At one point she’s captured by the protagonist and even though she can’t do much, she does take the opportunity to stomp his foot and kick him in the shins, which is pretty much what I think most people would do.

Likewise the romance is cute and sweet.  You can tell it’s coming, but Tate and Hexe are cute together and it’s satisfying.   I appreciate Hexe’s characterization and his strength of person as well.  In fact the majority of the secondary characters are well done, which really rounds out the world and makes the bits that would be less believable something I’m willing to suspect disbelief for.

The magic system is fun consisting of natural abilities that come with race and then the witches, who practice Right Hand Magic, Left Hand Magic or some combination of the two.  Right Hand Magic is gentle magic, usually used for healing and blessing and undoing dark magic, where Left Hand Magic would be the a fore mentioned dark magic.  Most witches tend towards Left Hand Magic or the middle ground, but Hexe has chosen a path of only Right Hand Magic, no matter how hard it is to hold that road.

This book read fast and I’m looking forward to the next installment.

Genre:  Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance

Age: Late Teen/Adult

Content:  Very mild Sexuality, violence, language

Overall:  4/5


Love letters and literature… March 10, 2011

Posted by kmcalear in Inspiration, Life, Musings, Romance.

I’m taking French, one of the many requirements for the PHD. I recently was able to read a passage from L’education sentimentale by Flaubert in its native language and found it captivating. It got me thinking, though, of a lost art: the love letter. With the speed of e-mail and texting, we have a lot of electronic-flirting, but some of that is the ‘gut instinct’ communication. But… do people still write love letters? I know a few friends who try to do love notes in their relationships, but what about actual letters. We see romance on tv, we read about it in books, we sing about it in songs, we celebrate it on Valentine’s day, but in our personal lives do we truly take those risks?

I know that I pulled over on the freeway to listen to love letters read on NPR from an author to his sweetheart. I don’t remember the author, but I remember the letters were so compelling I couldn’t focus on the drive. Working in Special Collections I have discovered the power of reading letters between friends and lovers, and the beauty of the prose and turn of phrase you can find in them. People used to read them as literature, as well, but I don’t recall being given any in my education. In Women’s Studies there is an argument that the ‘letter’ and the ‘diary’ is a form of literature that has been ignored because it may have been more the province of ‘the sentimental’ rather than the ‘cerebral’ which is celebrated in literature.

How many of you have written or received a love letter? In my life I’ve received one, when I was 15 years old. I kick myself for not keeping it, even though it terrified me. I wasn’t emotionally ready for such a thing at the time. I have now, at 28, written my first love/goodbye letter. It was liberating, it was fun in a way, it was self-educating… and it was terrifying. But it was also gratifying to hear from the few close friends I asked to ‘edit it’ for me, that they found it touching. What more can a writer ask for?

And… as writers and artists, aren’t we asked to fearlessly bare our subconscious to the world? So… if you haven’t written a love letter, why not try it! If you don’t have someone in your life right now that you’d write to, why not try to writea “friendship” letter to a friend, explaining the value of your friendship? And I’d love to hear about some of the best/worst love letter experiences others have had.

Ahh…Love February 15, 2010

Posted by Realitybypass in Life, Movies, Musings, Romance.
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As most folks are aware this past weekend was Valentines Day, or as I prefer to think of it, Singles Awareness Appreciation Day (SAAD).  Even as a married person Valentines is not my favorite holiday.  Fortunately it’s not my husband’s favorite either, so we’re pretty equal in that.  He doesn’t like it because it’s a holiday where in men, even when they do all the right things, tend to take it in the chops and I just spent too many V-days alone or with girlfriends sharing in the frustration.  So…we’ve made the holiday our own.  Every year my sweetie and I exchange the same Valentine gift…windshield wipers.  It’s highly practical and also useful as the darn things should be changed about once a year anyway.  Then we reaffirm our love by ordering in food so no one has to cook or make a mess and watching TV together.  It ain’t fancy, but it’s love.

This year my sweetie added one little thing to the routine.  He painted my fingernails.  The act itself was adorable, but then he produced Mickey Mouse decals and put those on, all in prep for our upcoming trip to Disney World.

It ain’t traditional candy and roses, but it works for us.

How about you, gentle reader?  What non traditional things do you do to celebrate the relationships in your life?


Book Review – On the Edge – Ilona Andrews January 13, 2010

Posted by Realitybypass in Book Review, Book Series, Romance, Urban Fantasy.

Happy Wednesday, Folks.

Yeah, second week back to work is easier than the first. Well, at least back to the day job, some work never takes a vacation. 🙂

Today’s review features On the Edge, by the lovely Ilona Andrews. We’ve reviewed some of her Kate Daniels books here before with much love, so feel free to go see what we thought of that. On the Edge is NOT a Kate novel but the first book in a new series which I’d classify as a paranormal romance. I’ve been following Ms Andrews blog for a long time and spent much of the lead up to this book eating up snippets, so I was excited to pick it up.

This leads to a CONTEST announcement!  I actually picked up two copies back in October when it released but I ended up giving one away for a contest and the other to my best friend for her birthday and realized I was bookless.  Now I have two copies again because I bought one for myself for Christmas and so did my husband.  Soo…I’ve a copy that needs a good home.  Contest will be open until Sunday night and one commenter will get my unread copy of On the Edge.

Now, back to review things.  This was a fun read and a quick one.  The flow of the writing is very easy to get into with a good balance of action, humor and romance.  I really enjoyed the family dynamic as it’s so easy to get the hard bitten heroine, and here Rose is a loving sister and granddaughter who is trying to do everything and take care of everyone.  As the oldest of six and mother of two I empathized immediately with much of her situation. Okay, not the magical aspect or being pursued by highly messed up hounds, but ripped shoes and getting kids to school and the toy aisle at WalMart were right up there.

Rose’s love interest, Declan, was amusing to me as well.  There were moments where the high blood arrogance got on my nerves, but those were around the same moments when Rose would verbally poke him or something would happen to show that there was much more to the story than met the eye.  The logistics of why he’s at Rose’s door and what he really wants both in the beginning and at the end had me giggling.  It’s human nature to make assumptions and in this case they both jump to conclusions which get Declan and Rose in trouble with themselves and others.  The younger brothers, George and Jack, were delightful as was Grandma.  I appreciate very much the skill this author has with secondary characters.  I’ve never read an Andrews book where the secondaries weren’t just as round as the primary characters, but were still secondaries.  This also applies to William and his painful story and need to be accepted.  Bayou Moon, the next book in the series, is William’s story and I’m hoping to see him end up in a happier place!

All in all this was delightful and fun.  I guessed a lot of what was going to happen in the plot, but it didn’t matter because the method of getting there was interesting and fun.

“Grab the guns and get in the truck, we’re going to WalMart…” – On the Edge

Genre: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance

Age: 15+

Content:  Some sexual content, mushing of badguys, violence, magic, family, lurve

Overall: 4.5 paws


Book Review: Shadowlight – Lynn Viehl September 23, 2009

Posted by Realitybypass in Book Review, Book Series, Romance, Urban Fantasy.
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Hallo my darlings and welcome to another book review day on RealityByPass.   As a matter of housekeeping I’m changing the scoring on our books just a little.  The overall category we’ve been using as a buy, borrow or toss and I find it’s actually pretty hard for me to break things down that way.  Sooo…I’ll give it a paw rating between 1-5 and go from there.

Today’s selection comes from an E-ARC which I was lucky enough to get my hands on and will be available to the public on October 6th.

Ms. Viehl is a prolific author with 43 books published to date and at least a good handful coming soon.  This was the first time I’d picked up one of her books despite being an avid reader of her blog.  Now I have to look for her books at the library, since I’m not allowed to buy anything until after my birthday.  My husband says so.

Shadowlight is the first in Ms. Viehl’s Kyndred series, which takes place in the same world as her Darkyn series.  It tells the story of Jessa Bellamy, a psychical gifted young woman who died and then was reborn with even stronger skills.  Her particular power the ability to touch a person and see his or her internal shame and guilt.  It’s a double edged sword since it’s always on, and Jessa struggles with always seeing the darkest side of anyone she touches.  She takes to wearing gloves and does her best to be careful, mostly keeping her own company.  When her talents are identified by a genetics company (GenHance) with a dark goal she’s put in danger of being both kidnapped and killed.  Enter Matthias, the man with a secret past, who works with an operation focused on stopping such things and giving the gifted new identities and someplace to go.  He knows from the first time that he meets Jessa that she’s the woman for him, no matter how she fights him and tries to escape from his protective custody.  They have to learn how to work together in order to keep her from being found by the authorities, the company, or the mutated man who wants to take her apart piece by piece.

As well in this piece we get cameos by Lucan and Samantha from the Darkyn series, who are down in Savannah for Samantha’s police work and Rowan and Drew, gifted folks who are helping Matthias with his relocation program and trying to put a stop to GenHance all together.

Overall I found this an enjoyable read.  The pacing is good and the characters well thought out with few too stupid to live moments.  Jessa was so bull headed about wanting to do everything herself that it made me laugh because I know people like that.  I’m fairly sure I’ve been people like that.  She and Matthias might have been a little too perfect, but not so much that it dragged me out of the story and they are both given flaws and backstory which are charming and interesting.  That Matthias wants to be a family man also won points with me.  Rowan, the chef, was my favorite character and I’m really glad her story will be the next book in this series.

The plot is generally very good though there were a few points where I kinda felt like things happened too fast or there was a twist which the reader should have been given more information about.  I love the powers the characters have because they don’t tend to be typical.  No teleporting or flying here.  The romantic arc works well, save that I feel like Jessa goes from clubbing Matthias in the head to calling him the man he loves just a little too suddenly.  I reread the section twice to see if I’d missed something.

I liked the inclusion of the Darkyn folks as it made me curious to go look up some of those books and gave a different perspective on what was happening.  Sometimes their appearance at certain places seemed a little contrived, but also necessary to keep things rolling along.  I did like watching Samantha learn to at least begin to embrace who and what she is and I find myself curious to go back and find her story.

So all in all it was a good read and kept me flipping the virtual pages.  There is some graphic violence and a couple of graphic sex scenes which folks may want to be aware of.  I don’t think any of this was gratuitous as each scene seemed to serve a purpose either on the plot or romantic arc, but the reader should be aware.

Genre:  Paranormal Suspense Romance

Age:  Adult

Content: graphic violence, sexuality, language

Overall: 3.5 paws

Shadowlight cover image