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Book Review – Intensely Familiar

Alma Boykin continues the story of Lelia Chan and her Familiar Tay in Intensely Familiar.

Home is the Hunter . . .

Something moves in the darkness, hunting the hunters. An ambush leaves Lelia Chan weak and troubled. Her husband André returns from an extended deployment with problems of his own, some old, some new. Both shadow mages and their Familiars need rest. Their enemy, however, does not.

Magic solves magical problems: that’s the rule among Riverton’s magic users. But what if it doesn’t? Especially against a foe who is Intensely Familiar.

Intensely Familiar starts with a punch to the gut and keeps you reading until the last sentence.  Like the rest of the series, it is a character-driven tale with fast, intense action sequences. It’s not a thriller, but it keeps your attention through good story telling and pacing.

Lelia Chan is wholly fleshed out by now, but Ms. Boykin continues to let her grow and evolve without forcing the character forward.  Her husband, Andre, is also well done, but we are still learning about him as a central character in the story.  Other characters, such as her employer, Arthur, round out a cast that we can all relate to.

Intensely Familiar ends a multi-book story arc and hints to more in the future.  I’m definitely looking forward to seeing where Ms. Boykin takes her characters.

Musings

  • I know it doesn’t count as camping if we get a cabin and sleep in beds, but I have to wonder why I’m just as tired as I would be if we slept on the ground and hiked all day.
  • The first night we were there, I brought in the food cooler, but left the beer cooler out.
    • The raccoons opened that one and gave everything a good pawing over with their muddy feet.
    • No worries, said I, as I drained the beer cooler, gave all of the bottles a going over with a Clorox wipe, then put them back.  It’s nature, I said.  They’re just following their rambunctious instincts.
  • The second night, I arrived back at our campsite approximately 15 minutes after sundown to interrupt a raccoon smorgasbord in progress.  It looked like I’d thrown a hand grenade in a hen house as the fuzzy little bastards unassed the cabin’s porch.
    • This time, they gave both coolers a good going over, and I had to separate out the contaminated food from the still-vapor-locked stuff.
    • That is, of course, once I’d cleaned up the bologna, cheese, blackberries, and raw bratwurst they had strewn across the porch.
    • I ended up having to throw out all of the uncooked breakfast sausage, the ham, the leftover sausage gravy, and almost all of the fresh fruit.
    • Did I mention that this was after dark and I could see their beady little eyes watching every move I made?
  • Breakfast on Sunday, for two adults and a 12 year old with a hollow leg, consisted of a pineapple that I cut up with my pocket knife, bananas, hot dogs, 2 day old biscuits with jelly, and coffee.
  • Because of all this, I am declaring an official jihad against the thieving rascals.  No longer will I gently prod them off of my porch at night.  Nor will I indulge my lovely wife when she defends them based on their cuteness.
  • During our travels to and from the wilds of southern Indiana, I had the unique experience of stopping at a convenience store in an area whose drug problem has made the national news more than once.
    • The display of novelty glassware was only dwarfed by the “It’s not ephedrine anymore!” stimulant selection on the other side of the register.
    • Also, who would have guessed that the folk around there needed so many metal scrubbing pads?
  • The work to finalize the purchase of our new home continues.  The inspections are complete, with the exception of the one done by the Veteran’s Affairs folks.  I’m happy to say that our new home has a modern septic system, no evidence of termites, and the minor issues with the roof are being taken care of as I type this.
    • Irish Woman is already shopping for the pool she wants for the back yard.
  • The current work in progress is off to the beta readers, and I have a wonderful cover in the works from the nice lady who did my last cover.  Should have some snippets from it in the next few weeks.

How My Day Went

Me – Did you do the thing?
 
Them – Yes, I did the thing.
 
Me, a couple hours later, with definitive proof that they did not, in fact, do the thing – Why isn’t the thing done?
 
Them, after some silence on the line – Well, doing the thing was hard and boring. Why don’t you get someone else to do the thing?
 
Me, getting The Voice out and polishing it a bit – Because everyone else is doing their own things
 
Them, now sounding offended – But I don’t know how to do the thing. Nobody taught me how to do the thing.
 
Me – You’ve been doing the thing, incorrectly, for a decade. And here’s the email I sent you with instructions my cat could have followed for doing the thing.  Just do the thing and it will be done.
 
Them, now defensive – Why do we have to do the thing? Nobody wants to do the thing.
 
Me, now with both The Voice and two drops of Retsin – The thing needs to be done, it needs to be done right, and if you don’t do the thing right, the people who pay you to do the thing are going to be angry.
 
Them – Well, I’ll try to do the thing sometime next week. I’ve got other things I need to do.
 
Me – Name them.
 
Them – What?
Me – What are the other things you have to do now?
Them – Well, you know, just.. things.
 
Me – You not doing the thing correctly, right now, is stopping me and other people from doing other things that need to be done.
 
Them – So? Those aren’t my things to do.
 
Me – Just do the thing. Now.
 
Them – Why are you so mean? I mean, I’ll try now, but I’ll just break things.
 
Me, trying to remember why I got into this line of work – If you break things, you will fix even more things.
 
Them – But I’m getting off work in an hour or two.
 
Me – The thing takes 20 minutes if you do it right, and it’s only just now past lunch. Do. The. Thing.
 
Them, now really out of sorts that someone would tell, not ask, not cajole, not bribe, them to do the thing – Alright, alright, I’ll do the thing, but when it breaks, it’s your problem.
 
Other Them, 15 minutes later – Hey, the thing is broken.
 
First Them – You see? I told you. Now the thing is broken and it’s your fault for making me touch it.
 
Me, giving my monitor the migraine salute – Did you do the thing the way I told you to?
 
Them – No, I did the thing the way I wanted to. Now it’s broken. Listen, I gotta run. Just fix the thing and let me know if there’s anything I can do to help out when I get back tomorrow.
The sound of someone abruptly ending an electronic conversation and disappearing back to whatever realm they go to when they’re not on the clock.
 
Me, beating head against desk, trying to make the hurting stop – This is why we can’t have nice things!

Today’s Earworm

Uncle Sam Ain’t Released Me Yet

 

Musings

  • Well, after several years of talking about it, numerous negotiations on what we both want and are willing to compromise on, both of us choosing hills we’re willing to die on, intense discussions about moving to North Dakota and taking up some honest living or another, stalking areas we wanted to live in, a couple of false starts, then a sprint to get to a house that we both liked before it was gobbled up, Irish Woman and I have started the process of purchasing a new home.
  • We looked at two houses yesterday.  Both were very nice.
    • Both properties were on the market for a little more than 24 hours when we took a tour.
    • One was a bungalow built in 1916.  It had been added onto, and had a lot of character and other things that made me like it.  It was on the edge of the country, with one of my favorite watering holes just down the street.
    • It also had plumbing and wiring very similar to our current house, which gave me pause.  One of my goals was to not get another fixer-upper.
    • By the time we got done looking at the bungalow, someone else had put in an offer, so deciding to not bid on it got easier.
    • The other house was a relatively new (well, newer than the house we have now) ranch on a nice lot in a neighborhood that we’ve been keeping an eye on.
    • We looked at the second house, then talked on its porch for a few minutes before asking our realtor to make an offer.
    • The market around here is so hot that a lot of properties don’t even make it to the realty sites before they’re sold.
  • With that, we began the paperwork part of this process.  As much work as this is to do electronically, I cannot imagine how it was done in the days of carbon paper.
  • Today, I have provided the following things to our bank:
    • VA certificate
    • Statements from our checking, savings, and investment accounts
    • A copy of our contract to buy the house
    • A picture of the check I wrote for the deposit
    • Our latest statement on our current mortgage
    • A genealogy going back five generations on both sides
    • Our latest horoscopes
    • Proof that we are, indeed, human.
    • Pawprint impressions from both dogs and one of the cats
    • An offer of our son’s hand in marriage to the last scion of some obscure Italian nobility. I’m told she’s quite lovely.
  • Finding someone to do the home and septic inspections was an adventure all by itself.  Apparently I’m just one of a million yokels who are buying homes these days.  I found one, count them, one inspector who could get the job done in the ten days we have per the contract.
  • Our plan is to move out of our current place, then fix, paint, clean, and polish everything so that we can put it on the market.  We’ve already gotten the plumbing fixed, and more is to come.
  • Hopefully, by the time the Kentucky Derby rolls around on Labor Day, we’ll be settled into our new house one county over and will only have one mortgage.

Review – Forget Nothing

Michelle C. Meyers and Jason Anspach teamed up to explore the life one of the more intriguing characters in the Galaxy’s Edge series.  Their work pays off big time in “Forget Nothing

She Chose the Hardest Way

The daughter of a Legion war hero, fighting was in Andien Broxin’s blood. But the battles Republic marines face on strange and alien worlds are a far cry from the vaunted, brutal, no-holds-barred conflicts fought at the edge of the galaxy by the elite legionnaires.

Until a devastating war erupts right in the Republic’s stellar backyard.

Newly stationed on a mid-core planet being harassed by terrorist revolutionaries, Andien and her fellow “hullbusters” find themselves right in the middle of a desperate fight for survival. All their training, standards, discipline—all the hard paths—have led to this. If she and her fellow marines are to come out of this alive, Andien will have to find out who she truly is…and what she can become.

We first met Andien Broxin on Kublar in Legionnaire, the first book in the series, and the character became more and more important to the series in later books.  She’s tough, talented, and dedicated to her mission.  Forget Nothing takes us back to when Andien was an officer in the Republic Marines.  This female warrior is capable, but believable. Yes, she kicks ass and leads from the front, but she’s not a cartoonish GI Jane who beats up grown men and has a pithy comment to spit out over their prostrate bodies.

Meyers and Anspach wrote this character in a way that reminds me of the best leaders I have known, regardless of their gender.  She pushes herself constantly, but the characters has limits that push back.  She’s experienced, but has things to learn as the story goes on.  She’s brave, but is written in a way that you can feel her overcoming the shock and fear of combat.

The other character that stood out in the story was Gunny O’Neill.  If you’ve ever known an old, crusty NCO who was a master at motivating his troops with sharp comments and wry wit, you’ll recognize him immediately.  I laughed long and hard at some of his absolutely genius dialogue.  I’m not ashamed to say that I’ve heard some, but not all, of it before, because it’s been directed at me.

Forget Nothing is well-paced, and Khristine Hvam’s narration is almost 100% spot on.  The story flows through several sequences that flesh out Andien Broxin as a person and an officer, then rushes into several excellent combat sequences.  The character is allowed to make mistakes, then struggle to overcome them.

If you’ve enjoyed the other books in Galaxy’s Edge, I think you’ll enjoy how the authors filled out this character and gave us a good understanding of her backstory and how she’s put together. I hope this isn’t the last we see of Andien.

With Apologies to Kipling

I went into a Walmart to buy a box of shells,
The manager ‘e up an’ sez, “Those we no longer sell.”
The girls be’ind the register they laughed an’ giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an’ to myself sez I:
O it’s Gun Nut this, an’ Gun Nut that, an’ “Gun Nut, go away”;
But it’s “Thank you, Mister Firearms Owner”, when the mob comes to play
The mob comes to play, my boys, the mob comes to play,
O it’s “Thank you, Mister Firearms Owner”, when the mob comes to play.

I went into a concert as sober as could be,
They waved the guy with a bong in his pocket through, but had no time for me;
They pointed to a “NO GUNS” sign affixed upon the wall,
But when it comes to fightin’, Lord! they give me a call!
For it’s Gun Nut this, an’ Gun Nut that, an’ “Gun Nuts not allowed!”;
But it’s “Can you defend my shop, friend?” when the thugs form a crowd,
The thugs form a crowd, my boys, the thugs form a crowd,
O it’s “Can you defend my shop, friend?” when the thugs form a crowd.

Yes, makin’ mock o’ folks like me who their guns they want to keep
Is cheaper than cleaning up the streets, an’ that’d be starvation cheap;
An’ hustlin’ honest people when they want to shoot a bit
Is five times better business than voters knowing you’re a twit.
Then it’s Gun Nut this, an’ Gun Nut that, an’ “Gun Nut, wait your turn!”
But it’s “Neighbor, can I borrow a gun?” when the towns begin to burn,
The towns begin to burn, my boys, the towns begin to burn,
O it’s “Neighbor, can I borrow a gun?” when the towns begin to burn.

We aren’t no Dirty Harry’s, nor we aren’t no madmen too,
But honorable folk with firearms, just citizens, like you;
An’ if sometimes our conduck isn’t all your fancy paints,
Why, honorable citizens with firearms don’t grow into plaster saints;
While it’s Gun Nut this, an’ Gun Nut that, an’ “Gun nut, fall in line”,
But it’s “Please protect the unprepared, sir”, when there’s trouble in the wind,
There’s trouble in the wind, my boys, there’s trouble in the wind,
O it’s “Please protect the unprepared, sir”, when there’s trouble in the wind.

You talk o’ bans for magazines, an’ suppressors, an’ ammo, an’ all:
But we’ll stand a turn at guard with you if you treat us rational.
Don’t mess about with empty promises, but prove it to our face
The gun is just a tool, it’s the man sets the pace.
For it’s Gun Nut this, an’ Gun Nut that, an’ “Chuck him out, the brute!”
But it’s “Saviour of ‘is country” when the guns begin to shoot;
An’ it’s Gun Nut this, an’ Gun Nut that, an’ anything you please;
An’ Gun Nut ain’t a bloomin’ fool — you bet that Gun Nut sees!

Review – Going Ballistic

Dorothy Grant puts out her best work so far in an action and character driven piece entitled “Going Ballistic

When her plane tries to come apart at apogee during a hijack, ballistic airline pilot Michelle Lauden handles the worst day she could imagine. After getting down without losing any passengers or crew, though, she finds her troubles have just begun!

The country she’s landed in has just declared independence from the Federation. The Feds intended her passengers to be the first casualties in the impending war – and they’re not happy she’s survived to contradict their official narrative in the news.

The local government wants to find her to give her a medal. The Feds are hunting her to give her an unmarked grave. As they both close in, Michelle’s running out of options and time. The only people able to protect her are an accident investigation team on loan from the Federation’s enemies… the same enemies who sent her hijackers in the first place.

And they have their own plans for her, and the country she’s in!

Going Ballistic weaves a strong female lead into a fast-paced, engaging plot that rarely stops to take a deep breath.  This story grabs you by the throat and keeps your attention until the last sentence.

Mrs. Grant’s ability to bring characters to life in a very small number of words makes this story move along without creating cardboard-cutouts.  Michelle is strong and capable, but also has the emotional depth to fall apart when she needs to.  Blondie, one of the male supporting characters, is there to help, but it is Michelle’s story and Grant leads us through it with a practiced hand.

Going Ballistic is great for laying in a hammock on a summer day or by the fire during a winter night.  Just make sure you have time to read it through, because you’ll be trying to guess what comes next until you can return to it.

Musings

  • So, we’re at quarantine week… 10? Is it 10? Let’s just say 10 for the sake of the argument. I have no idea anymore without consulting a calendar.
    • I seriously don’t know whether it’s time to buy fireworks or a snow shovel at this point.
  • Is it a bad thing when you’re cleaning out the attic and hear baby birds chirping from the piping leading from the bathrooom fan to the outside?
  • I am proud to say that I removed the sentence “If you told me the sky was blue, I would look up” from a professional email the other day.
  • Is it a bad thing that I’m half a decade away from retiring from the day job and I’ve already picked out the date for my retirement party?
  • I was bored enough the other weekend that I took all of our dry goods out of the various shelves, cabinets, and tubs, then sorted and organized them. I was surprised that we had quite a surplus on peanut butter, applesauce, and canned beans. I was even more surprised that we were short on canned tomatoes of almost every variety.
    • A quick trip to Kroger and the restaurant supply store corrected that.
  • Irish Woman has returned to work after being off for about two months. In her time at home, she power-washed, repaired, cleaned out EVERYTHING, put in the garden, done landscaping, filled in one old goldfish pond, rebuilt another, put in a fountain, painted, trimmed, and home-schooled our sprog.
    • I’m not saying that going back to work will be less strenuous for her than not going to work, but since she first went back to her office, she seems much more relaxed.
  • My “I’m just going into the office for a couple of hours so that a technician can update the office software on my laptop” turned into “I’m going to sit here for six hours waiting for the bloody thing to reboot”
    • Since I work in a semi-secured building, I couldn’t even take in a tablet to read. And, of course, I forgot to pack a book or notebook.
    • Heck, I even forgot my coffee on the way to work this morning. I am really out of practice on this whole get-out-of-bed-and-go-to-work-in-another-zip-code thing.
  • Every single thing Boo was looking forward to doing this summer has been cancelled. At this point, I’m about to buy him a copy of the improvised munitions field manual and let him loose just so he has something to do.
    • This would be so much easier if we had the same rules for kids as we did when we were young.
    • “Bored? Here, take your BB gun and this pocket knife and go entertain yourself for a while. Don’t forget, you need to burn off all of those fireworks from last summer before we can buy more.”

Review – Rimworld: The Rift

Jim Curtis returns to his Rimworld universe and takes it in a whole new direction in The Rift:

Danny Ortega was a failure. He couldn’t tolerate the implant to be a starship captain…

But Danny Ortega has run his deep space research vessel Ghost alone for years, flaky AI and all, mapping the most unstable and unexplored regions of the Rift for the Cartographers Guild. When his latest mission lands in a mass graveyard of ships, including some ships out of legend, lost for hundreds of years, the guild isn’t happy with him.

He picks up a misfit crew out of the asteroids and the games begin!

Turns out he’ll need them not just for research and salvage, but to help him keep his ship! As word gets out that he has artifacts and is returning remains, Danny finds he’s gone from chasing a prize to becoming one himself…

Unfortunately for his enemies, Danny didn’t get his own ship by being an easy target or giving up. His odd connections and crew have plenty of surprises up their sleeves, too!

The Rift is a much more detailed, character-driven story than the other books in this series. While there is action, Curtis took his time and developed the main character, Danny, from a loner to a leader, from a lonely man to one that learns the meaning of family.

That’s not to say that the story moves slowly. This is a page turner crafted by a master storyteller. The plot rolls smoothly off the page, with believable and engaging twists and turns. I found myself losing hours to this book as I kept reading just one more page.

Unlike a lot of books in an already established series, a new reader could pick up this one and enjoy it. It resides in the same universe as Into the Green and Militia Up, but don’t inhabit the same space.

The Rift is definitely recommended for summer reading, especially if you’re in the mood for something different.

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