Where did January go??? It’s like I blinked and a whole month went by! In a couple of days the Christmas holidays will be over and the kids will be back at school… and I’ll have the house to myself again. Well, except for the week where my lovely quiet house will be invaded by builders who need to fix the bloody great hole in a downstairs bedroom’s ceiling and repair the water damage resulting from a pinhole-sized leak in a water pipe. Not to mention the carpet cleaners who’ll come in once that’s done. But hey, that’s what noise-cancelling headphones — which are The Best Present Ever for a writer — are for, right?
Yes, it has been a stressful month in the Anderson household, what with having to move both teens out of their rooms, filing insurance claims, a week of industrial carpet driers and dehumidifiers going 24/7, insurance assessors, and coordinating a suitable time for the builders to come in. And I tell you, after having one of the carpet cleaning guys who’d arrived to check the progress of the driers lecture me as though I was a complete idiot (think mimicking how women apparently sound in a stupid high-pitched voice), I really felt like kicking something. And when the anger subsided and the frustration set in, I could have done with a cuddly wombat like this one:
But it could have been soooo much worse. The leak happened just as we were about to head the the beach for the afternoon, so at least we were there to cope with it. Imagine if we’d gone out. Or worse, it’d happened while we were away on holiday for a week of Christmas! And the other upside is that after hearing a couple of horror stores from the plumber, DH will never again call me paranoid for running round like a mad thing turning off gas and electrical stuff and the washing machine taps before we go on holiday. Because in addition to all that, we will also be turning off the water mains.
But it wasn’t all drama over January. DD baked me a very memorable birthday cake… and learned a valuable life lesson: when the recipe calls for “1 cup black coffee” it doesn’t mean “1 cup ground coffee beans” O.O
Let’s just say it was the kind of cake that really keeps you alert ;-) I also had a wonderful birthday dinner with DH and the kids at a local restaurant. The food, the company, and the view over the marina was outstanding. It doesn’t get much better than that. Plus, my birthday present from DH is still to arrive from overseas so when it gets here it’ll be like it’s my birthday all over again *g*
And, as always, when I needed to de-stress, there was always the joy of burying my nose in a good book and leaving the world behind for a couple of hours. (And you can see from the list of books I read in January I did A LOT of de-stressing. It was either that or turn into a heinous snappy bitch.)
This month’s standout read was Written In Red by Anne Bishop. Here’s the blurb:
“As a cassandra sangue, or blood prophet, Meg Corbyn can see the future when her skin is cut — a gift that feels more like a curse. Meg’s Controller keeps her enslaved so he can have full access to her visions. But when she escapes, the only safe place Meg can hide is at the Lakeside Courtyard — a business district operated by the Others.
Shape-shifter Simon Wolfgard is reluctant to hire the stranger who inquires about the Human Liaison job. First, he senses she’s keeping a secret, and second, she doesn’t smell like human prey. Yet a stronger instinct propels him to give Meg the job. And when he learns the truth about Meg and that she’s wanted by the government, he’ll have to decide whether she’s worth the fight between humans and Others that will surely follow.”
What struck me most about this book was the incredibly well-drawn world-building. I’m a huge fan of paranormals, and I’ve read a number of books where the “world building” consists of the author introducing so many different flavors of non-humans it’s like this huge melting pot that overwhelms the actual plot. Not so in the “world” of Written In Red, which is surprising given that the paranormal creatures collectively known as terra indigene include wolves and crows and bears, sanguinati (who are not like vampires you’ve likely encountered before), elementals, elemental ponies, and the mysterious Tess, whom no one — not even the terra indigene themselves — are sure about except that she’s one very scary paranormal creature. Written In Red could have been a hot mess but the “world” was so skillfully portrayed and woven into the story that it absolutely worked for me.
I appreciated that the terra indigene were in charge, while the humans/”meat” were merely tolerated — mainly for their clever inventions. This is a world where, if humans break the rules, they are eaten. However the terra indigene are “civilized” enough to understand that the humans they’ve just nommed on might have families who will worry about their disappearance, so they leave non-edible possessions (such as keys and ID cards) in a cairn for the human cops to identify. It’s all so matter-of-factly portrayed and logical that the horror of one of the scenes I’d just read took a while to sink in: the wolves and a sanguinati had just killed a gun-wielding trespasser, and his blood is taken away for one of the older sanguinati, the wolves eat the corpse but the alpha wolf makes sure to leave an arm out for the crows to feast on when morning comes. Yep, nothing is wasted.
The terra indigene have rules and if a human breaks them, there are true life or death consequences and no mercy is shown.
What I also loved is the weres truly are animal-like in there human forms. The crows are attracted to shiny things, for example. So it’s not a good idea to let one of them man the cash register! And the wolves think about eating humans… a lot. There’s no glossing over the fact they are predators: ‘Simon bared his teeth. “We know what’s inside a human. Tasty bits. Especially the heart and the liver.'”
So when Meg, a human, turns up on their doorstep, it doesn’t seem like it’s going to end well given how clueless she is. But she intrigues them because she doesn’t smell like prey, and they become very protective of this young woman who’s stumbled into their midst.
For me, Meg is an exceptional heroine. She has been sequestered and used as a commodity all her life. To help the veracity of her visions, she’s been shown detailed videos of many things that you and I would take for granted, but she doesn’t understand them at a practical level. For example she’s learned enough via watching videos of car chases to drive a vehicle when she has to, and the first time she gets into a car she can drive forward but not in reverse. She’s vulnerable, but so courageous it makes me cry.
There are so many things I loved about this book — did I mention the grumpy chubby elemental ponies??! But rather than risk spoiling the story for anyone, suffice it to say after reading Angie’s review of Written in Red on Dear Author I borrowed it from the library and it’s now top of my must-buy list.
Here’s my full reading list for January:
- Heart of Obsidian by Nalini Singh
- Beat of Temptation by Nalini Singh**
- Stroke of Enticement by Nalini Singh**
- Declaration of Courtship by Nalini Singh**
- Texture of Intimacy by Nalini Singh**
- Ghost Town by Rachel Caine
- Bite Club by Rachel Caine
- Last Breath by Rachel Caine
- Black Dawn by Rachel Caine
- Bitter Blood by Rachel Caine
- Fall of Night by Rachel caine
- Taken by the Cowboy by Julianne MacLean*
- The Bodyguard by Kathryn Shay*
- Finale by Becca Fitzpatrick
- Ill Wind by Rachel Caine
- Heat Stroke by Rachel Caine
- Chill Factor by Rachel Caine
- Windfall by Rachel Caine
- Firestorm by Rachel Caine
- Thin Air by Rachel Caine
- Gale Force by Rachel Caine
- Cape Storm by Rachel Caine
- Total Eclipse by Rachel Caine
- Written in Red by Anne Bishop
- These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
- Allegiant by Veronica Roth
- Existence by Abbi Glines
- My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century by Rachel Harris
- Just A Little Crush by Tracie Puckett
- Dancing With The Duke by Suzanna Medeiros
- A Dark Kiss of Rapture by Sylvia Day
**Wild Invitation anthology
*Bodyguards boxed set