Thursday, February 27, 2014

Review: Day Watch

Day Watch
Day Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Please Note: Read and reviewed in 2007.

My Synopsis; In this, the 2nd book of the Others' series, we are again treated to three separate, yet intertwining stories: first, the young Dark witch Alisa loses her powers in a struggle over an illegally practicing Dark witch and is sent to Artek (the most elite of the camps for the Young Pioneers during the Soviet era) to regain her strength. There she falls in love with another of the camp leaders ... In the second story, a Finnish group of the Dark Ones called the Brothers of Regin steal the mystical Talon of Fafnir and attempt to bring it to Moscow. Vitaly Rogoza, an Other who seems to have lost his memory and is gradually gaining it back, along with stronger and stronger powers, gets in the line of several murders, causing the Light Others to attack him. There is not much more I can tell about this story without completely ruining it - you will simply have to read it for yourself. In the third story, we are treated to a gathering of the Inquisition to determine the guilt or lack thereof regarding these events.

My Thoughts: This story is told more from the point of view of the Dark Ones, which is very interesting in that it seems to show that most of the scheming and problems are caused by the Light Ones, because of their misunderstanding of the ultimate goals of the Dark Ones, and their refusal to even try to understand. The Dark Ones are shown to only wish to live their own lives in freedom and do as they wish as long as they don't infringe on others' freedoms - which is very similar to the witches' creed: "An it harm none, do as thou wilt." The Light Ones, however, believe that everything the Dark Ones do is a direct attempt to "start something" and/or are lies. It is truly a tragic situation.

The addition of many references to Russian pop culture means that there will be little bits and pieces here and there that people who aren't familiar with Russian modern culture might find a bit abstruse; however, this does not lessen the enjoyment of this very well-done book. I highly recommend this series to anyone who enjoys thought-provoking works, epic stories about the struggle of Light vs. Dark, paranormal alternate history stories, or just a good book.

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Review: Night Watch

Night Watch
Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Please note: I've read this book twice, the latest time being December 2006.

Translation: I had my husband read this first, after he read the Russian version, so he could tell me how good the translation was (he was born in Russia). He tells me the translation from Russian is very good, as good as could be expected considering there are so many Russian words and phrases that simply cannot be translated into English with the same amount of impact. Apparently the Russian version of this book has a great deal of humor in it - what I primarily perceived was a fairly melancholic air.

My Synopsis: This book - all three parts of it - focus on Anton, a 5-year veteran of the Nightwatch. The Nightwatch is a group of Light Others - magicians, shapeshifters, etc. - who work to ensure that the Dark Others (led by the Daywatch) keep the truce that was set up by both sides as a result of WWII (as far as I could tell judging from the time frame). Anton is having what could be most closely defined as a crisis of faith; he feels that maybe the ends do not justify the means and that the Nightwatch is not acting in the best interests of humankind after all. However, he does not want to switch allegiances - in fact, as far as he knows no one can - and he cannot act directly against the Nightwatch or he will be sent into the Twilight forever.

Act 1: The first part of the book is the part that most closely resembles the movie that was created from these novels - they must again save Egor, a young boy, from a female vampire, after Anton has already saved him once and killed her paramour, who illegally turned her after falling in love with her when he was licensed to take her (I presume the "legal" result of this transaction would be the death of the girl, but it is never baldly stated this way). At the same time, a large dark vortex has opened over the city and they must find first the person over whom it has risen and secondly the Magician or Sorceress who has set it.

Act 2: The second part of the book finds Anton in a great deal of danger when he is sent after a Maverick Other, who does not even realize that he is an Other, who has been killing off Dark Others for around three years. He must find the Maverick and bring him in before the Daywatch catches up to him (or the Maverick - but the Daywatch is certain is it Anton himself who is committing the murders).

Act 3: Finally in the 3rd section of the book, we find Moscow under an unusual heat wave and the Nightwatch has been cut down to a skeleton crew, with the rest being sent off on vacation. Anton fears that Svetlana - who, he is told, is destined to be a Great One - is being pushed too far, too fast and that, as a result, the fragile love that has grown between them will be snapped. As a result, he pushes her even farther away and finally ends up making a deal with the Dark Ones; however, he redeems himself in the denouement, before announcing to Gesar and Svetlana that he has realized this whole situation has been a feint and distraction to keep the Dark Ones from knowing what is actually going on (of course, we ourselves have very little idea ourselves, as Anton doesn't deign to actually state out loud much about the actions going on.)

Comparisons and Recommendations: Maybe more perceptive readers than I will figure out what is going on in the background, but a lot of this feels like a book by L E Modesitt, Jr., where I never quite know what the heck is going on, but I love it anyway.

Don't miss this one - it's a terrific book.

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Review: Twilight Watch

Twilight Watch
Twilight Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Please note: Read and reviewed in 2007.

My Synopsis: This follow-up to the (also amazing) Russian magical reality books Night Watch and Day Watch returns us to Anton's mind and to Anton's relationships with those around him. Focusing on interactions with the mysterious Inquisitors, this book takes Anton further along in his path to understanding that there really is very little difference between Light and Dark and that the shades of Grey they all walk in are probably more suited to all Others than being separated like this.

Synopsis Book 1: In the first of the three "books" that are traditionally found in each of these novels, Anton has to go "undercover" into a community of humans to try to discover who, if anyone, has been told about the Others. Not only is it dangerous for the Others to be revealed, but whomever revealed the Others to this human has also promised to turn this human into an Other him or herself, which is - according to all but the most forbidden of legends - impossible.

Synopsis Book 2: In the second "book," Anton runs across an unregistered and VERY powerful witch as well as several werewolves who were apparently hunting humans while on vacation in his dacha (country house) and has to try to take care of these problems with the help of Svetlana.

Synopsis Book 3: In the third "book," a powerful vampire and member of the Inquisition has been murdered and a book thought to be the stuff of legends, which will allow Others to turn humans into Others themselves, has been stolen from the house of the witch Arina. Anton, with the help of the vampire Kostya and the Inquisitor Edgar, has to try to find the culprit and the book.

My Thoughts: Lukyanenko has created a vivid world in modern-day Russia. He shows us the despair with which many modern Russians live while they try to adapt to a capitalistic society, a method of life that is completely foreign to everything they've ever known before. Through this is shown the plotting of the Watches and Inquisition and the Others, using the humans often as pawns and foils in their games for glory. It is an often bleak outlook (to me). My husband, on the other hand, found the book to have a lot of humor in it - he says there are a lot of instances of outright slapstick. So I guess it is all in how you look at it - there is a situation where Anton has an old out-of-work drunk work on a BMW. He brings in several friends and they completely take apart the car. They get so involved in it that they even forget to get drunk. Me, I found that sad. My husband thought it was hysterical.

At any rate, do NOT miss this amazing series of books. You will not be sorry for reading them.

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Monday, February 24, 2014

Review: A Perfect Blood

A Perfect Blood
A Perfect Blood by Kim Harrison

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

You may see my original review by clicking here.

Please note: Originally read in January 2012 from a copy received from Amazon Vine in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Trigger Warnings: Hate group, hate speech.

My Synopsis: Rachel has had her shunning reversed by the coven, but since she has also officially declared herself a demon, things aren't exactly going her way - she has no official or legal standing as a citizen and that is making her life difficult. She can't get a license or registration for her new car, she can't have a bank account or credit cards, Social Security considers her to be dead ... so, of course, now is a perfect time for some loony to be running around trying to turn people into demons. I.S. calls Rachel in to try to find the people behind the scheme - or, if she is unsuccessful, to take the blame. Being a demon isn't all it's said to be ... Can Rachel find who is committing these atrocities and clear her name ... again?

My Thoughts: One thing I love about the Hollows series is that it remains fresh - Harrison seems to continually find new and inventive ways to make Rachel's life difficult. I loved this book, but there were parts of it that I had difficulty reading, as there is a hate group that is integral to the plot - and they are nasty. They consider Inderlanders to be nothing but animals, not even sentient, and treat them worse than they would treat a dog and reading that vitriol almost made me physically sick. It makes me wonder what is wrong with people, that they can be like that - and I certainly know that people can be like that. So, issues of hate and hate groups play a big part in this book, and if you think that will bother you - if you are a very sensitive soul - you should be sure you are in a strong frame of mind when you are reading this. Highly recommended!

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@DEShipley @JTaylorPub #Giveaway Win one of five ARCs of "Inspired" by Danielle E. Shipley

J. Taylor Publishing are giving away FIVE ARCs of Inspired by Danielle E. Shipley!

Check it out!

For a muse like Lucianíel, one story’s end is another’s beginning.

In the wake of his author’s sudden death, Luc takes ownership of her surviving creations—four fantastical characters with tales yet to be told—saving them from unwritten lives crumbling around them and giving them a second chance at a literary future.

Luc finds that chance in the unsuspecting mind of Annabelle Iole Gray, a quirky teen with her head in the clouds, nose in a book, and imagination ripe for a brilliant muse’s inspiration.

Or so he hopes.

Neither Luc nor Annabelle, however, realize all they’ve undertaken. Even with a to-write list including accounts of a shape-shifting cat creature, gentle knight-in-training, vigilante skater girl, and a mystery boy smothering in unspoken fear, the most remarkable saga created between author and muse just may turn out to be one stranger than fiction.
INSPIRED is an innovative glimpse at the true muse of a writer, a tale told with style and wit. And J. Taylor Publishing is giving away FIVE ARC copies.
You don’t even have to be a book blogger!
Nope, so long as you are willing to leave an honest review between the dates March 3rd and March 17th 2014, you are eligible to enter.
Then just fill out the form and keep your fingers crossed.

You have until midnight of March 2nd to enter.

About Danielle E. Shipley:
Danielle E. Shipley, author, Inspired

Danielle E. Shipley’s first novelettes told the everyday misadventures of wacky kids like herself. ...Or so she thought. Unbeknownst to them all, half of her characters were actually closeted elves, dwarves, fairies, or some combination thereof. When it all came to light, Danielle did the sensible thing: Packed up and moved to Fantasy Land, where daily rent is the low, low price of her heart, soul, blood, sweat, tears, firstborn child, sanity, and words: lots of them. She’s also been known to spend short bursts of time in the real-life Chicago area with the parents who homeschooled her and the two little sisters who keep her humble. When she’s not living the highs and lows of writing young adult novels, she’s probably blogging about it.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Home again, jiggity jig #Cancer

Right, well, obviously this picture was taken last summer. This is the view from our back porch into the little woods that borders this area of the cul-de-sac. But that's beside the point...

I came home Friday night, after two weeks in the hospital. We found a combo of meds that keep the pain mostly bearable, but for some reason the doctor only provided 2 1/2 days worth of one of them. A Home Health nurse came by yesterday, and she will also look into it, see what the problem was, and try to procure more of the meds for me to take me through to my oncologist's appointment, which is March 7. I will be meeting with her social worker on March 10 regarding my lack of insurance and so forth. I'm not certain when the chemotherapy will start, but I would guess fairly close to those dates. Apparently I'll be seeing someone else altogether about the radiation, and am not sure if they will be done at the same time or one after another or what, nor exactly how long I'll be undergoing all of this. Dr. Shepard (the oncologist) wants to do genetic testing to see if she can pinpoint a specific mutation, which will make the treatment more effective and less damaging to the rest of my system.

Once I regain my strength a bit from the treatments, then there will be another surgery to clear out more of the tumors, remove my ovaries and uterus, and hopefully reconnect my colon. I really don't like this ostomy bag.

A CT was done of my chest, and an MRI of my head, and it appears that there is no involvement above my stomach, so that's good news at least.

I'm very far behind on reviewing, and I believe I'll probably fall farther behind. It's difficult for me to concentrate, and I think I'll be reading stuff for fun rather than for reviews for awhile once I can focus again. Meanwhile, I've been meaning to watch Eureka  and Supernatural and a few other things so that will probably fill time for me between doctors' visits and sleeping. I think I'll probably lower my reading goal for this year, and then pull in the new widget, since it doesn't update automatically here.

Much thanks and love to all my friends, to my chosen family, to my husband, and to my cousins and their friends for all the support and encouragement. It's been lovely talking to so many of you, and feel free to call anytime, especially if you called me early on after my surgery and I had to cut short the call due to a case of the weepies. That's mostly under control now... You all rock.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

An update

So, I have been diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer, which means it has wandered off to sow its wild oats throughout my abdomen. Among the things that now need to come out are my uterus and ovaries. Well, wasn't using them anyway. Apparently there are tumors sort of wrapped around in there, I'm not really very clear. I will need to undergo chemotherapy and radiation therapy to shrink the tumors, then another surgery to take them out.

Also, my dad says I need to take pure maple syrup mixed with basking soda, so I'll give that a try, too. I hurt, but not as badly as I did without the lovely morphine pump. I'm down, but that's probably at least partially to do with the fact that I've been off my antidepressant and anti-anxiety meds for a week. I still can't eat, damnit.

Winter weather blowing through Athens today. Everything will likely be shut down today and tomorrow. I'm still at St. Mary's Health Care System in Athens, GA room 5035. My deepest appreciations for all the support I've been receiving from all of you.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Where I've been, where I'll be

So I'm sure my followers have noticed that things are not normal here at Now is Gone. Reviews have been few and far between, no giveaways, etc. Truth is, I've been having some pretty serious health issues and spent December and January watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel rather than reading, as well as working on a couple of editing projects. I just learned this Monday that I have a cancerous mass in my colon, and Friday I'll be going to have it removed. We're hoping it is contained there but honestly? I've been symptomatic since August. So... time will tell.

And why did I wait so long? Well, no insurance. I was so excited for ObamaCare, sure that with our low income I'd be eligible for low-cost or even free insurance, but as it turns out, this isn't the case. Not in Georgia. Georgia did not accept the Federal monies to expand the Medicaid system, so those of us who are less than 100 percent of the poverty level (we're "only" 96 percent) are screwed. If I could afford $250 to $400+ a month for insurance, I'd already have it. So, now I have to apply for charity care through the hospital and hope that they will still treat me properly even if I'm not paying. We'll see just how that works out.

So, expect further silence. Odds are I'm not going to be feeling up to much of anything for awhile, although I am still going to try to review J. Simon's books later this month. Meanwhile, I thought I should let you know what is going on. I have a friend who'll watch the blog for me while I'm in the hospital, but just to approve any comments. See you all on the flip side... I hope.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

@JTaylorPub @RealJonLister #Cover Reveal "Bullet" A Demos City Novel by Jonathan Lister


Release Date: June 16, 2014
Target Reader: Adult
Keywords: Urban FantasyWerewolf

Back of the Book

A father’s love doesn’t bend, so what happens when it breaks?

Corruption, dark truths, and a new Alpha mean Leon Gray’s days of running without a pack are over. At least, that’s what everyone but him believes.

He’d rather be helping his teenage daughter navigate the landmine life of a full werewolf, finish out his servitude as bodyguard to a former Demos City reporter and, in all honesty, not be taken advantage of by a beautiful woman who really only wants him for his body—figuratively and metaphorically.

Of course, the only way any of that might happen is if he’s dead. That’s likely given the information the reporter has unearthed and the territorial battles already underway between packs. If only Demos City's corruption didn’t have such deep roots—older than the bones of the city or any of the werewolves who’ve decided to claim it. A city can only take so many power hungry mongrels invading it at one time, and Leon can only take so much knowing his daughter lives within its boundaries.

War has come to Demos City.

It’s up to Leon to fix ... what's most important to him.