Give me magic, gadgets, monsters, zombies, everything that seems impossible, and throw in some tough chicks with swords. That's the stuff.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Review: DARKWALKER

DARKWALKER (Nicolas Lenoir #1) by E.L. Tettensor

The blurb: "He used to be the best detective on the job. Until he became the hunted...

Once a legendary police inspector, Nicolas Lenoir is now a disillusioned and broken man who spends his days going through the motions and his evenings drinking away the nightmares of his past. Ten years ago, Lenoir barely escaped the grasp of the Darkwalker, a vengeful spirit who demands a terrible toll on those who have offended the dead. But the Darkwalker does not give up on his prey so easily, and Lenoir has always known his debt would come due one day.

When Lenoir is assigned to a disturbing new case, he treats the job with his usual apathy—until his best informant, a street savvy orphan, is kidnapped. Desperate to find his young friend before the worst befalls him, Lenoir will do anything catch the monster responsible for the crimes, even if it means walking willingly into the arms of his own doom…...

My take: Really liked this. Easy to get into, fast-paced, good read.

Lenoir is a cranky expat living in a backwater country compared to his more genteel homeland (think a Frenchman living in exile in England, but this is a different world, so it's more kind of French and English-like). He is a detective with the Metropolitan police, a brilliant detective but often bored, very arrogant and blunt, always searching for decent food, and haunted by nightmares from his past.

He is called into a case of a missing corpse and is drawn into an even bigger conspiracy when his orphan informant/sidekick (one of the few people he allows himself to care about) is kidnapped. He has to navigate the various villages, nobles with long reaches, and the secretive and persecuted Adali (similar to the Romany). 

The world feels familiar enough but is still it's own separate universe from ours. There is a supernatural element, shown in Adali magic and healing and the Darkwalker. It starts out subtly, then grows.

The Darkwalker is very interesting and I loved how it was introduced and the interactions with Lenoir. Very good "monster". I don't want to talk about it too much because you just need to read it.

There is no romance in this book but relationships between characters are key. Lenoir is firmly in the center of the story, but we do get to see things from other characters' POV as well.

I need to read book 2. Luckily, MASTER OF PLAGUES will be out February 3.

Buy DARKWALKER  Amazon | B&N | Kobo | BAM | Powell's | Indiebound

E.L. Tettensor

Saturday, January 3, 2015

2014 Movie Report

I am not a big movie fan. Actually, this isn't true. I do love movies. I just rarely find many that are worth the time to watch them, especially when I could use that time (and money) for more books.

Here are the ones that I remember watching in 2014. Mostly ones I loved, because honestly I refused to sit through many that I disliked.


Pacific Rim: My enjoyment of this film can be summed up with "FUCK YEAH, SWORD!" I almost yelled this out loud in the theater. I've found that if you give me giant robots fighting monsters as well as Idris Elba and Ron Perlman, I will not care about plotholes or inconsistencies.

Guardians of the Galaxy: LOVED IT. When I first saw the trailer and a raccoon firing a machine gun off a sentient tree, I prayed that it would be good. AND IT WAS! Very fun, great action, great characters. I could have done with a toned down mom death scene, but still. Had to pre-order the blu ray.

Interstellar: I loved this. Felt like the best mix of 2001 and 2010, but was also its own thing. Great acting and effects. Also really liked the storyline, the best and worst displays of humanity, and the overall hope. Was happy to have spent the money to see it in the theater.

Big Hero 6: Loved this movie so much. I might have gotten teary in parts. A boy, his robot, his friends and a supervillain.

Ghostbusters: Introduced the children to this one. Realized I need to watch it more often.

Die Hard: Watched it Christmas Eve, as you really should. Yippee ki yay!

Snowpiercer: I was enjoying this most of the time, even if the very linear nature of everything (as it kind of had to be when you go from the back to the front of a train) felt a little too on the nose. Then, in the end, they had a part reminiscent of the Architect scene in Matrix 2. THEY MADE ME REMEMBER MATRIX 2! Unforgivable.






Friday, January 2, 2015

Recipe: Crockpot Lava Cake

Might not look pretty, but it tastes good!
I got this recipe years ago from one of the hosts of Good Day Sacramento (I can't remember her name - I know, bad, bad, bad). I hand wrote it on a piece of paper and stuck it in my favorite cookie cookbook.

We recently attended a neighborhood gathering and I was supposed to contribute a dessert. The hubs mentioned this cake, that I haven't made in forever but is easy and oh so tasty. It's perfect for folks who like chocolate but aren't overly fond of super-sweet desserts. It took me awhile to find the recipe, so in the interest of keeping this for posterity, I am typing it here.

Ingredients:

Cake:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp baking cocoa
2 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla

Filling:
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup baking cocoa
1-1/2 cups hot water

1. Spray crockpot with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Mix the first 5 ingredients for the cake. Stir in milk, oil & vanilla until smooth.
3. Spread mix evenly in crockpot. This looks more like cookie batter than cake batter. Just go with it.
4. Time for the filling. Mix brown sugar & cocoa in bowl. Stir in hot water until smooth.
5. Pour mixture over the batter in the crockpot. DO NOT STIR.
6. Cover and cook on High 2 hours.
7. Turn off the crockpot & let the cake stand uncovered 5-10 minutes.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

SOME FINE DAY

I first reviewed SOME FINE DAY by Kat Ross over on Stellar Four. At the time, the release of this YA book was cancelled when Strange Chemistry shut down. Luckily, this very fine story was picked up by another publisher, Skyscape. You can get the Kindle book now, and the paperback will be out in February.

Note: There have been some editorial revisions and I haven't read the updated copy, but I really enjoyed it the first time I read it and I plan to read this one too.

Amazon | B&N | BAM | Powell's | Indiebound

Here's the review again:

Set in a world where super-powered hurricanes devastated the planet, a highly trained soldier who never saw the sun before gets an unwanted extended excursion on the surface and learns that her life has been a lie in SOME FINE DAY by Kat Ross.

This was a fast-paced, Young Adult read. I got Jansin. For so long she's been going along with the program, enjoying the life as one of the near-elite, but she feels disconnected. She left her family at a young age to go to the Academy, she isn't sure that her boyfriend really likes her or just wants a well-placed connection with her father, the general, and she isn't a diehard believer in the goals of her government. Yes, she is well-trained, but that doesn't mean she wants to go to war. She's at a crossroads, like most of us at graduation, and that is when her father gifts her with a vacation to the surface.

Seeing the sun, feeling the air and the ocean, it makes it hard to go back underground. Of course, then she ends up captured by hypercane survivors and staying alive becomes her goal. Then, as she comes to find her place on the surface world, she has to question where she wants to belong.

I liked that, although as I said this is a fast-paced book, the action unfolds over almost a year, so when Jansin makes friends, she didn't just meet them a day ago and now they are a cohesive team. Jansin is not someone who trusts easily and the story reflected that. The ragtag bunch of survivors was endearing and I wish we got to spend more time with them. 

On the romance front, there is a love interest but no triangle. Also refreshing, said love interest is not a bad boy, nor does he continually push her away because reasons. He's smart and fairly level-headed.

Jansin's home of Raven Rock is a fascist regime and it's easy to on the surface paint the underground societies as evil, that left the rest of humanity to die above. However, we do get at least some hope that not all of the governments are as harsh as Raven Rock. Also, it can't be denied that while life is absolutely not perfect below ground, that living there did save lives. 

The end goes quickly and there are some loose ends, a few that I really wish has been solved before the finish, but overall I liked where it went. I'll be looking for more from Ross.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Must for Our Holiday Shelf

Charles Dickens' A CHRISTMAS CAROL is a holiday staple and one that I look forward to sharing with my family. This year, I found the Penguin Chalk edition and I need to have it on our bookshelf.

The Puffin Chalk editions have colorful chalk designs on the covers of select books in the Penguin Classics line. I absolutely adore the one for the venerable holiday tale:


This edition also has a mini biography of the author, a cast of characters list, Victorian Christmas traditions, and a glossary.

Getting it on the shelf so it's ready for our family read-a-long this December.

Available at Amazon | B&N | Powell's | BAM | Indiebound