Ashes by Amanda Pillar

Jul. 24th, 2017 08:00 am
calissa: A low angle photo of a book with a pair of glasses sitting on top. (Mt TBR)
[personal profile] calissa

Ashes, Amanda Pillar, Graced, Graced series, Venom and Vampires, paranormal romance collection, Earl Grey Editing, tea and books, books and tea

Published: July 2017
Format reviewed: E-book (mobi)
Series: Venom and Vampires collection, Graced #2.2
Genres: Paranormal romance
Source: Author
Reading Challenges: Australian Women Writers Challenge 2017
Available:Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble~ Kobo

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Aria Ash shouldn’t exist

Born to a were mother and vampire father, Aria Ash is the perfect blend of two races, and in their world, that’s a death sentence. Hunted for as long as she can remember, she now hides in plain sight in the city of Skarva, and will do anything to keep her secret safe.

Sebastian Talien is an alpha were with a troubled past. Ever since his pack went rogue and tried to kill three innocent pups, he’s been dedicated to rescuing children in need. Now an invitation has him heading to Skarva, to help a child he thought he’d failed

Ashes is a novella set in the Graced universe, around the same time as Bitten. While I enjoyed reading it, I ultimately had the same issue with it as I did with Captive: I felt its ambition exceeded its scope.

Since Ashes is part of a collection, I assume it’s meant to appeal to new readers. I feel it’s only partially successful on that front. The beginning works quite well, introducing us to the characters and getting us invested in their relationship. However, the Graced universe is a complex one. Worldbuilding elements necessary for understanding the story were given in a kind of infodump in the guise of one character educating and warning another. The character doing the educating also functioned like a deus ex machina, there to make sure certain things happened. While there is context and an implied reason, it sat rather awkwardly and I’m not sure how it would sit for someone new to the series. It is also old information to returning readers, making it a little bit dull to sit through, even if I enjoyed the cameo from that particular character.

That said, I felt Ashes was a much stronger story than Captive. Aria is a wonderfully fiery character. She’s powerful and quick to protect what’s hers. I really enjoyed the way her strength is something that Sebastian finds attractive, rather than seeing it as a threat. Their relationship is likely to be a bit too insta-love for some readers, but it worked for me. The circumstances and the passion between these two dominant characters sold it. The pair are also able to spend more time together than Laney & Wolf did in Captive. This gives their relationship a more solid foundation before the rest of the action really kicks into gear.

I also really enjoyed the development of the city of Skarva. We got to see the Duke of Ravens in Bitten. In Ashes, we get to meet the Duke of Ashes and learn a little more about the other ruling dukes. I liked that each duke has their own motif, providing a distinctive counterpoint to the vampire nobility of Pinton featured in previous books.

There were also plenty of loose ends left and I’m looking forward to discovering which directions will be explored next.

All in all, Ashes was bumpy in places, but an enjoyable read.

Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.

Fitbit goal check

Jul. 23rd, 2017 10:31 pm

Exertion hangover

Jul. 23rd, 2017 09:08 pm
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
[personal profile] rmc28
Last Sunday (after Saturday's epic dog chase where I lost my keys) I woke up feeling the most hungover I have in years.  And I didn't even get drunk first!  I did manage to pull myself together by early afternoon, and we successfully hosted Nicholas's birthday party at the Little Gym in the late afternoon.

Yesterday was tiring, but for a much more pleasant reason. I took Nicholas to see My First Ballet: Cinderella at the Peacock Theatre, and for icecream at Ruby Violet afterward. We walked to Ruby Violet through pouring rain with bright new umbrellas, and had the whole shop to ourselves.  By the time we'd finished eating it was bright and sunny for the return walk to Kings Cross.  This morning I was thankfully free of hangover symptoms, but did (need to) spend the morning in bed again.  (Reading fanfic and re-reading All Systems Red; there are worse ways to spend a Sunday morning.)

The shiny new phone runs Pokemon Go and on Friday I let Charles talk me into installing it and going for a daily walk with him. The first evening, we passed the charity shop and saw the biggest Angry Bird toy I have ever seen.  Charles bought it at opening time the next morning.  Today our walk took us past the noticeboard in the park - where someone had hung my lost keys!  About five minutes later, we met one of the people who'd put them there, who said they'd found them about 5 minutes after I'd gone home last week from grumpily trawling the park!  I thanked them profusely and asked them to pass it on.

Nicholas says he wants to be called Nick rather than Nico, and I'm slipping up far too often, but at least making sure other adults taking care of him are made aware, and giving him some standard reminder phrases to use on me and others. (It's really not my preferred version of his name, but it's his name not mine, so I need to get over that.)

School has finished for the summer, and in less than two weeks we will be in Helsinki!  I have so much to do between now and then ...

No culinary activity, obvs

Jul. 23rd, 2017 09:50 pm
oursin: The Accomplisht Ladies' Delight  frontispiece with a red cross through it (No cooking)
[personal profile] oursin

Today, in spite of various travel muddles and confusions, we went to Darmstadt. However, possibly more detail when I am less tired and it's not so late in a long day.

Belated Memery

Jul. 23rd, 2017 06:48 pm
legionseagle: (Default)
[personal profile] legionseagle
The Kindly Ones for [personal profile] carbonel

Story here

This is an ambitious story. Its theme, basically, is "Snobbery with Violence." It's set in the place where I learned to sail, and I wanted it to have a ferocious sense of place; I'm not sure how successful that was.

Read more... )

Just One Thing (23 July 2017

Jul. 23rd, 2017 07:34 pm
hollymath: (Default)
[personal profile] hollymath posting in [community profile] awesomeers
It's challenge time!

Comment with Just One Thing you've accomplished in the last 24 hours or so. It doesn't have to be a hard thing, or even a thing that you think is particularly awesome. Just a thing that you did.

Feel free to share more than one thing if you're feeling particularly accomplished!

Extra credit: find someone in the comments and give them props for what they achieved!

Nothing is too big, too small, too strange or too cryptic. And in case you'd rather do this in private, anonymous comments are screened. I will only unscreen if you ask me to.

Go!
sovay: (PJ Harvey: crow)
[personal profile] sovay
I don't know if I saw relatives of mine this afternoon.

My grandfather's father was born in Lodz. He was the eldest of six siblings, three sisters, three brothers; the family owned a textile mill in the city and the father was a Talmudic scholar of some repute. My great-grandfather was expected to continue in his father's religious footsteps; instead, after a stint in the Imperial Russian Army (from which he must have deserted, because he sure didn't serve twenty-five years), he became what my grandfather once memorably described as a "Zolaesque freethinker" and emigrated to America in 1912. One of his brothers followed him; though we're no longer in contact with them (a little thing about declaring my mother ritually dead when she married my father), his descendants live in Florida. Another brother is buried in Israel, though I'm not sure how or when he got there—his older children were born in Lodz, his later ones in Tel Aviv. None of the sisters made it out of Poland alive. The middle one I have almost no information about, except that Lodz is listed as her place of death. (Her children survived: they too turn up later in Israel.) The eldest and the youngest died—as far as I know, with their families—in Chełmno and Auschwitz. These are the cousins who feel like closer ghosts than they should, dying in 1942 and 1945, because their descendants would have been no farther from me in blood than [personal profile] gaudior. They are loose ends, like other family stories. I don't know what there is to be known of them anymore.

Because the exhibit is closing in a week, my mother and I went to the MFA this afternoon to see Memory Unearthed: The Lodz Ghetto Photographs of Henryk Ross. If you live in the Boston area, I don't say it's a light day out, but it's worth your time. Ross was one of the few survivors of the Lodz Ghetto, a staff photographer employed by the Judenrat. He was supposed to take the nice pictures of the ghetto, to document how productively and well the Jews were getting along under Nazi supervision; he used his license to take the ones that were not so nice, dead-carts instead of bread-carts, chain-link and barbed wire, the sick and the starving, the broken walls of a synagogue. He documented the resistance of living, which sometimes looked like defiance and sometimes like collaboration: the slight, quietly smiling man who rescued the Torah scroll from the smashed-brick ruins of the synagogue, the young wife and plump child of a Jewish policeman like the ones seen—perhaps he's among them—assisting a crowd of Jewish deportees aboard the boxcars that will take them to Auschwitz. Pale Jude stars are so omnipresent in this black-and-white world that even a scarecrow wears one, as if to remind it to confine its trade to non-Aryan fields. Ross took about six thousand photographs total; in the fall of 1944, as the ghetto was being liquidated, he buried the negatives as a kind of time capsule, not expecting to survive himself to recover them. He was still alive and still taking pictures of the depopulated ghost town the ghetto had become when the Red Army liberated it in January 1945. His face cannot be seen in the photograph of him reclaiming his archive because he's the figure at the center of the grinning group, the one bending to lift a crusted box from the dug-up earth. Groundwater had rendered about half the negatives unsalvageable, but rest could be developed, warped, nicked, bubbled, and sometimes perfectly clear, their damaged emulsion showing scars and survival. He published some in his lifetime. He never arranged the complete series to his satisfaction. My mother would have seen him on television in 1961 when he testified against Eichmann. The MFA has a clip of an interview with him and his wife Stefania née Schoenberg—his collaborator and another of the ghetto's 877 Jewish survivors—eighteen years later in Israel, describing how he took his covert photographs hiding his camera inside his long coat, how just once he snuck into the railway station at Radogoszcz to record the last stages of a deportation, the freight train to the "frying pan" of Auschwitz itself. He died in 1991. It is said that he never took a picture again.

(I know there are philosophical questions about photographs of atrocity: how they should be looked at, what emotions they may have been intended to evoke, to what degree it is or is not appropriate to judge them as art. I'm not very abstract here. They were taken to remember. You look at them to make sure you do. What you feel is your own business; what you do with the knowledge of the history had damn well better concern other people.)

My great-grandfather's sisters would have been deported from the Lodz Ghetto. Their death dates even match the major waves of deportation to their respective camps. I have no idea what either of them looked like. I have seen maybe two photos each of my grandfather's parents: aunts and uncles, nothing. I'm not saying the photos don't exist. My grandfather had a sister; she may have inherited a better pictorial record. But I haven't seen it. And looking for people who look like my grandfather is no help; Henry Kissinger went through a period of looking like my grandfather and that was awkward for everybody. Any older woman might have been either one of them, any older man one of their husbands, any young people their children, any children their grandchildren. None of them might have been my family. Maybe theirs were among the images destroyed by the winter of 1944, as unrecoverable as their bodies. Maybe they were never captured on film at all. I wouldn't know. I don't know. I pored over faces and thought how beautiful so many of these people were (not beautiful because of their suffering: bone and expression, the kinds of faces that are beautiful to me), how many of them looked like both sides of my mother's family. Almost no one was identified by name. Maybe no one knows these people by name anymore. I hope that's not true.

You can look through the contents of Henryk Ross' archive yourself. They are, like most photographs, historical and modern prints both, better in person. We left the museum and had dinner at Bronwyn both because we lucked out parking two blocks from the restaurant in the middle of a street fair and because it was Eastern European food and it felt symbolic that we were here to eat it, even if I am pretty sure that a Hungarian-inflected chorizo dog is food of my people only in the sense that I personally would order it again because it tasted great. I did some badly overdue grocery shopping and caught the closing performance of the PMRP's Murders and Scandals: Poe and Doyle and spent nearly the entire cast party upstairs reading the scripts for the second through the fourth seasons of Babylon 5 (1993–98) and as much of the fifth season as doesn't suck. Autolycus fell asleep on my lap almost as soon as I sat down at my computer and I haven't been able to move from this chair for hours. I can't imagine what the world looks like in which I have so many more cousins of the degree of Gaudior, although I know that I am tired of fictional versions in which neither of us would even be here (the same goes for other atrocities, imagined worse for purposes of entertainment). Maybe in that other world, we have more family photographs. Maybe we're not in contact with them, either. Maybe I still don't have faces to go with the names. It doesn't matter if they were all strangers, though, the people from this afternoon and more than seventy years ago: they were alive. They are worth remembering. Especially now, they are worth remembering why.

(no subject)

Jul. 23rd, 2017 09:03 am
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin
Happy birthday [personal profile] oyceter!

Attention tax

Jul. 22nd, 2017 09:32 pm
mrissa: (Default)
[personal profile] mrissa

Originally published at Novel Gazing Redux. You can comment here or there.

One of the things that has been making me furious about sexual harassment lately–secondary to all the other things that make me furious about it–is the attention tax it imposes on women. The time spent figuring out whether there’s enough evidence for us to be taken seriously this time, whether the people who were in the “surely you misinterpreted” and “that doesn’t mean what it blatantly means” camp last time will finally take us seriously, the time spent recovering from someone shouting in our faces and someone else grabbing our asses, the time sharing stories and pooling information and cleaning up messes and figuring out what to do, what we can do, what we have the power to do. That is time not spent on other things that are frankly a whole hell of a lot more interesting.

When it’s in convention terms, the time spent discussing who did what and what to do and letting the adrenaline settle and coping is time not spent on ideas for books and stories and where to go with them. It is very directly a tax on attention that could and should be going toward work. And it makes me exhausted and resentful, and then I try to corral my attention back to my work, because that is a far, far better place for it to be. I have directly observed that when I am at a con where people are dealing with an ongoing situation of this type, I come back with far, far less in the way of inspired notes for new projects–not just coming away drained instead of energized, but the specifics of what business are we doing here, where is our attention going.

I’m lucky. I know a lot of good men. I know a lot of good straight, white men. One of the benefits of this is that when a straight, white dude is an asshole, I am clear that it is artisanal assholery that he is hand-crafting by choice, not a trait he can’t avoid by his demographics. And a lot of good straight, white men have been stepping up to share the work of dealing with sexual harassment on a community level. I appreciate it. I do. But that is a choice they are making. Statistically, on average, the nonconsensual part, the part where you have to cope with the fallout of being harassed again, the part where it happens several times in a row and then it’s on your mind and you go into the next professional situation having to have a plan for how to cope–that’s a drain on your time and attention that you cannot have back, that other people can help with structurally but not in the moment. They can donate their time but not hand you back yours, not give you back those hours and days of working on the situation and processing and coping. It can happen to men. It does happen to men. And as one woman I know never loses an opportunity to point out, it does not happen to every woman. But statistically, on average, it is an attention tax that falls much, much more heavily on women, for things that we did not ask for and cannot change.

It’s not just sexual harassment. This is not the only attention tax, and I don’t mean to talk as though it is. Racist bullshit and the people who visit it upon people of color? That is, among other worse things, an attention tax on those people of color. Having to cope with accessibility issues and prejudice against the disabled? Attention tax. Homophobia and other forms of anti-queer assholery? Attention tax. Navigating the world while neurodiverse, even in ways that do not feel like a disability internally, among people who are going to be utter jerks to any hint of non-neurotypicality? Attention tax. And while I’ve talked about men and women above, the amount of attention tax that falls on gender-nonconforming and non-binary people gets mind-bogglingly larger the more gender-policing the subculture they’re interacting with gets. One of the fundamental questions is: how much jerkitude are people going to blithely shovel on you for being you and then skip along with their day, and how much will that pull away from the focus you need to do your stuff that you do.

Do I imagine I’m the first to observe this? Hardly. But “show don’t tell” is hardly new advice, either, and writers get blog posts out of that several times a year. What I’m saying to you is: this is affecting the work of people you know and care about. All the time. It doesn’t have to. It is literally all entirely voluntary. The thing I said above about artisanal bullshit: last month I got very tired of people saying “so that’s a thing that happened” when they were describing a choice someone made. So let’s not do that. Let’s not ascribe to fundamental forces things that are actual bad choices people are making.

And also: people who are doing work through all these attention taxes, who are managing to push it aside and fight their way through to focusing on making something awesome: I see you. I appreciate you. I’m sorry it’s like this. I keep hoping that some of the draining work will gain us some ground and it will be long-term less necessary. But in the meantime, thanks for clawing back some of your own in the face of it. It’s so hard, and it matters so much.

(no subject)

Jul. 22nd, 2017 10:09 pm
alexseanchai: Blue and purple lightning (Default)
[personal profile] alexseanchai
Do scented soaps and lotions taste good to kittan?

Clearly I am approaching due for either figuring out how to clip Thea's claw tips or how to apply the red plastic thingies.

(ow.)
jesse_the_k: Dreamy photo of playground roundabout in rosy foggy light (lost youth)
[personal profile] jesse_the_k
https://www.metafilter.com/167493/Distinguishing-character-assassination-from-accountability

is another excellent meta-post from [personal profile] brainwane. Links to ~twenty think pieces on how we can hold each other accountable with as much love as we have for a better future.

And the comments are excellent.

Cats update

Jul. 23rd, 2017 03:33 am
vass: Icon of Saint Ignatius being eaten by lions (eaten by lions)
[personal profile] vass
He's being a terrible Dory again. (Sung to the tune of 'I'm telling a terrible story' from The Pirates of Penzance.) This time his evidence exculpatory is that I won't let him use the indoor swimming pool. (No, not the sink. And I don't have a bathtub.)

So he learned to turn the lever sort of door handles and also swing on them in such a way that he can open an outward opening door from the outside. I am pondering technological solutions. I hear there's a form of child lock that works on cats. Until then I'm leaving the lid down and putting a barrier in front of the door, but I expect that won't hold him for long.
kaberett: Clyde the tortoise from Elementary, crawling across a map, with a red tape cross on his back. (elementary-emergency-clyde)
[personal profile] kaberett
I have been meaning to write this up for a while and have just had cause to do so elsenet; ergo, have a copy of Alex's Algorithm For Choosing A New GP. It has served me pretty well thus far.

Comments and additions welcome, as ever. :-)

Read more... )

Touristifying in Frankfurt

Jul. 22nd, 2017 05:35 pm
oursin: Brush the Wandering Hedgehog by the fire (Default)
[personal profile] oursin

Having a weekend with partner in Frankfurt.

Hotel perhaps overdoing the stylish minimalism: why does this always mean, nowhere to put stuff in the bathroom? However, good marks for the breakfast buffet.

On matters of modern design, am I the only person who finds themself waving their hands at a tap that turns on some other way, and vice versa?

Today to the Stadel- art gallery, very good stuff and lots of it. Among works observed, one C16th courtesan as Flora, with obligatory symbolickal bubbie displayed.

Also to the Arts and Crafts Museum, which has gone full-on poncey and eschews labeling in favour of composing curatorial 'constellations'. Though I could have spent more time with the shiny pillow-like balloons that one was permitted even exhorted to touch. (Sometimes I am shallow and frivolous.)

Some general flaneurserie, looking into churches, etc.

Dear Niantic,

Jul. 22nd, 2017 03:29 pm
green_knight: (Abandoned)
[personal profile] green_knight
We have received reports that Trainers haven't been able to collect their Defender bonus after the Gym update. We’ve investigated many of these reports and have not been able to reproduce any bugs related to this issue.


(as posted here) is not a good conflict resolution.

If you're unable to reproduce the bug, that just points to it being intermittent. Fair enough. Doesn't mean you should stop looking. However, you have the stats: you can compare pokemon activity and gym rewards, and if they don't match what they should be, you can fix.

Signed,
Trainer of a Pokemon which stayed in the gym for 10 days, got fed a lot of berries, was kicked out this morning, and brought home 0 pokecoins.

SHREW

Jul. 22nd, 2017 12:36 pm
rydra_wong: Lee Miller photo showing two women wearing metal fire masks in England during WWII. (Default)
[personal profile] rydra_wong posting in [community profile] common_nature
Yesterday I got to see a tiny shrew very close-up and it was very exciting.

So I was sitting on a muddy path in a wooded area because of reasons (ok, exhausted after climbing) when I saw movement and a tiny thing scurrying past me. I figured that glimpse was all I'd see, but I turned round to see where it'd gone and it was on the path on the other side of me, and with great caution so as not to startle it I managed to dig my phone out of my coat pocket:

longshot in which a tiny shrew may be visible among rocks and moss

(There's nothing to give a sense of scale, but the shrew is a few centimetres long. It makes mice look big.)

THEN --

Cut for blurry close-ups and blurry worm death )

Just One Thing (22 July 2017)

Jul. 22nd, 2017 12:24 pm
nanila: me (Default)
[personal profile] nanila posting in [community profile] awesomeers
It's challenge time!

Comment with Just One Thing you've accomplished in the last 24 hours or so. It doesn't have to be a hard thing, or even a thing that you think is particularly awesome. Just a thing that you did.

Feel free to share more than one thing if you're feeling particularly accomplished!

Extra credit: find someone in the comments and give them props for what they achieved!

Nothing is too big, too small, too strange or too cryptic. And in case you'd rather do this in private, anonymous comments are screened. I will only unscreen if you ask me to.

Go!

vid recs?

Jul. 21st, 2017 09:39 pm
yhlee: Sandman raven with eyeball (Sandman raven (credit: rilina))
[personal profile] yhlee
ETA: And if anyone knows where on earth I can find an Angel S4 AU vid to Will Smith's "Black Suits Comin'" I will be eternally grateful. (I can't remember the vidder, which is making this difficult to Google.) Also a Buffy/Angel shipper vid to Darren Hayes' "Insatiable," likewise apparently impossible to Google without the vidder's name.

I have gotten out of the habit of chasing down fan vids and would like to download some to my laptop for enjoyment purposes. I find them to be a lovely pick-me-up--they don't necessarily have to be cheerful vids. But I probably can't deal with extreme gore or realistic violence (I've seen half an extremely well done Hannibal vid that I had to nope out of because I am chicken).

Some vids already in my collection that I really like, to give you an idea (in no particular order):
- [personal profile] bironic's "Starships"
- bopradar's "I Kissed a Girl"
- Lithium Doll's "All These Things"
- [personal profile] laurashapiro's "Ing"
- [personal profile] giandujakiss's "A Charming Man"
- obsessive24's "Cuckoo" and "Remember the Name"
- [personal profile] shati's "Hope on Fire"
- sisabet's "Cowboy" and "Two Words"

Fandoms I especially like watching/or have some clue about:
- Buffyverse
- Firefly
- I like the visuals of Game of Thrones although I've only watched one episode (have read most of the extant books, though)
- Leverage
- Arrow
- The Good Place
- recent Star Wars
- The Great Queen Seondeok
- Suits
- The Good Wife

That being said, if the vid can be understood without having seen the show, I'm happy to watch it. :)

Sting Ray Skin

Jul. 21st, 2017 04:36 pm
jesse_the_k: amazed Alanna (hero of Staples/Vaughn SAGA comic) (alanna is amazed)
[personal profile] jesse_the_k
Today I learned that the original handle grip tape was sting ray skin. That's cause I went to a stunning exhibit of Samurai Weaponry at a local art museum. The design and crafting of the armor and swords was exquisite. The helmets have face guards, which look like they're molded from the wearer's actually face. These face guards also sport mustaches and soul patches. Altogether delightful. Also clear that "Art Deco" in the West was 90% ripping off 16th C Japanese design.

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David Gillon

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