Monthly Archives: February 2017

Day 9 Update

An extremely tiring but rewarding day today! An important decision from the physical therapist was that a standard walker is a very bad idea for Dan right now – it’s just not stable or sturdy enough. Therapy included practice with a rolling cardiac walker (imagine a tall walker that you rest your forearms on). Although he had two people with him providing guidance, Dan walked twenty-two feet the first time, and thirty feet the second time. This is a great improvement!

Recreational therapy was up next. This is to provide a little fun with all of the hard work – sometimes games, sometimes just relaxation. Today’s session was playing catch with Chance, a very friendly but focused German shepherd (shown here).

After lunch it was into occupational therapy. This included moving a weighted sliding box on a table to build upper-body strength, lifting a lightly weighted bar (not too much due to his back healing), and going from sitting to standing to sitting repeatedly to gain more control in his motions.

All of this therapy is definitely taking a lot out of Dan by the end of the day. He is feeling accomplished overall, and getting great positive feedback from his therapists, though it’s still a long road ahead. By tomorrow afternoon we will hopefully have a better idea of when he might be going home and when he can return to work.

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ejacutastic: never try to consider yourself one of “the good” privileged people because tbh that…

ejacutastic:

never try to consider yourself one of “the good” privileged people because tbh that just is cutting you off from continually learning and continually deconstructing your privilege and learned bullshit. every time i’ve thought “ok i’m one of the good guys now” i’ve learned more fucked shit i’m doing and deconstructed more bullshit and if you continually cling to “BUT I’M NOT RACIST/SEXIST/TRANSPHOBIC/ETC” you’re refusing to face the possibility that you could still be doing really bad shit and that means you’re part of the problem. being aware of privilege doesn’t mean you’re absolved of it.

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Day 8 Update

This morning’s occupational therapy was very upper-body intensive, which is good since that is going to be necessary. The only downside to this was that the afternoon’s physical therapy included his first attempt at walking with parallel bars. Dan was able to practice walking motions while carrying the majority of his weight on his arms. Definitely an improvement, though.

I mentioned it this morning, but I sort of buried the lede yesterday: Dan’s physical and occupational therapists told him that given his current state and the improvement that he has shown, the chances are very good that he will be able to walk unassisted in the future. Now, how long that will take is still up for grabs, but that is still fantastic news.

More good news today: Dan has been approved for short term disability for four weeks at 100%, (after burning a week of vacation) and another four weeks at 100% is available if necessary (it drops down to 66% after that). With luck he will be able to start back to work before that eight weeks is exhausted.

Interestingly, one of the therapists asked Dan what his goals were to go home. He said he wanted to walk (assisted) 50 feet, and have a way to go up and down stairs by himself, among other things. The therapist seemed to think those were good goals, and that he may not need three full weeks of therapy for that.

All in all, there weren’t necessarily any huge breakthroughs today, but a lot of very promising tidbits. That’s the kind of thing that keeps Dan (and me!) going. He is maintaining a strong positive outlook and a firm belief that this is something that can be beaten. Damn, I love my husband!

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Day 7 Update

Another busy day today, with three full hours of therapy. Occupational therapy this morning was working on transfer from the wheelchair to the bed and to the tub bench, as well as chair push-ups (pushing out of the wheelchair using his arms), and leg raises. Physical therapy this afternoon was some exercises while lying on a mat and practicing going from sitting to standing with a walker. It turns out that he had been doing it wrong (since he hadn’t received any training), moving too quickly. Now it is a nice smooth procedure and a lot more stable!

It was also quite busy visitor-wise. Thanks to Jim, Jenne, Woody, Jake, Misti, Jeff, and Rusty for coming by for extended visits. I know that Dan was a little wiped out after his therapy but seeing all these friendly faces really helps keep his spirits up!

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Day 6 Update

Fantastic start to the day! Dan got a shower and got to wash his hair. It’s amazing what a difference something small like that can make. There was 90 minutes of physical therapy this morning, consisting of “walking” motions while sitting in a wheelchair, moving his feet back and forth on a skateboard, and learning better ways to transfer from the wheelchair to the bed and wheelchair to the commode. The walking motions were great since he said he had more feeling in his feet than before, a tingling like the nerves are trying to wake up. The new transfer procedures are a huge improvement in getting around, too.

I came over after lunch, then we had a great visit with Linnaeus, sitting in the cafeteria, chatting and catching up. Unfortunately right after he left Dan was hit with another IBS attack, a quite painful one. He is currently skipping dinner to relax in bed and waiting for the pain and nausea to pass. Tonight will be a quiet one. I’m going to step away from a bit and get some dinner, then come back and just hang out and keep him company for a bit.

There’s a bit more going on tomorrow, according to his schedule. Occupational therapy from 9:00 AM – 10:30 PM, then physical therapy 11:30 AM to 12:00 PM then again 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM. I expect Dan is going to be pretty worn out by Sunday night, but company is welcome during the day.

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Day 5 Update

Three hours of therapy this morning, mostly establishing a
baseline for comparison as Dan improves. He also got a better idea of what life
will be like here in the rehabilitation ward, and it’s certainly an improvement
over where he has spent the past few days.

Dan has the afternoon off and is sitting comfortably in a
wheelchair next to me as I type this (he was sitting up for four hours
straight!). He didn’t sleep well last night due to thunderstorms and nurses
going in and out of the room, though as he heals more that should decrease. We went
for a nice wander around the hospital (with him in a wheelchair of course,
though with no input from me) so he could see more than just the usual area
around his room, too.

Dan is showing great mobility in the wheelchair (good
upper-body strength!) though hopefully he won’t be relying on that long-term.
Every day more feeling is coming back to his feet, though it’s still
incremental improvements. He did a great job of going from sitting in the
wheelchair to standing in the walker, though is definitely unsteady on his
feet. He can lock his knees and stay upright, but for heaven’s sake don’t try
to move those feet!

All in all, a great first day in rehab. Things only go up
from here!

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Book Review: The Lords of Davenia series, by Mason Thomas

 

Lord Mouse (Lords of Davenia, Book 1), by Mason Thomas

Scoundrel by nature and master thief by trade, Mouse is the best there is. Sure, his methods may not make him many friends, but he works best alone anyway. And he has never failed a job.

But that could change.

When a stranger with a hefty bag of gold seduces him to take on a task, Mouse knows he’ll regret it. The job? Free Lord Garron, the son of a powerful duke arrested on trumped up charges in a rival duchy. Mouse doesn’t do rescue missions. He’s no altruistic hero, and something about the job reeks. But he cannot turn his back on that much coin-enough to buy a king’s pardon for the murder charge hanging over his head.

Getting Garron out of his tower prison is the easy part. Now, they must escape an army of guardsmen, a walled keep and a city on lockdown, and a ruthless mage using her power to track them. Making matters worse, Mouse is distracted by Garron’s charm and unyielding integrity. Falling for a client can lead to mistakes. Falling for a nobleman can lead to disaster. But Mouse is unprepared for the dangers behind the plot to make Lord Garron disappear.

The Shadow Mark (Lords of Davenia, Book 2), by Mason Thomas

Auraq Greystone, once a military officer with a promising future, exists on the fringe of society. Accused of murder, Auraq is on the run from the ax-until two fugitives crash into his solitary life. One is a young man named Kane. The glowing marks on his arm pulse with an otherworldly power, and they have made him the target of a sinister organization called the Order of the Jackal. When the old man protecting Kane dies in an ambush, Auraq swears an oath to take his place.

But the runes are far more significant than they realize. They are a message from the shadow realm, a dark memory of the past-one holding evidence of a bloody massacre and its savage architect; one that will shake the kingdom to its foundation. Risking arrest and execution, Auraq fights to get Kane to the capital city where the cryptic marking can be unlocked. And with assassins close on their trail, Auraq might never get the chance to show Kane what’s in his heart-or the way their journey together has changed him.

The Shadow Mark is an epic tale of magic, murder, conspiracy, betrayal, and-for the two men tasked with unraveling the mystery-love and redemption.

Ratings:
Lord Mouse – 4.75 out of 5
The Shadow Mark – 4.25 out of 5

One of the big challenges of writing high fantasy is how to approach a genre that is so well-traveled. You can spend a lot of time world-building, and try to create something novel. Alternatively, you can sketch out a world (general social class structure, level of technology, where the characters fit into the world) and let the reader fill in the blanks. Mason Thomas takes the latter approach here, and in my opinion it’s an excellent choice.

The driving force in these books is the characters. Mouse is clever, sarcastic, and morally questionable at times. Garron is a strong-principled man, born to the noble class but not blinded by it (usually). The two make for a fun pairing as they spark off one another initially and slowly grow together. Auraq is smart and wise in the ways of the commoners’ world, and willing to honor an oath at all costs. We get less of a good mental picture of Kane, which is why I favored The Shadow Mark somewhat less. He is a likeable enough character, although driven by forces beyond his control.

The bulk of Lord Mouse is essentially a caper. Mouse setting up the escape, then Mouse and Garron (and some unexpected allies) finding their way out of captivity. The mystery is wrapped up neatly and the ending is quite satisfying, with no cliffhanger. The Shadow Mark is more of a quest as Auraq and Kane fight to find someone to make sense of the glowing marks. Again, the mystery is wrapped up well, though there are a few loose ends left over for later books.

I believe that one of the hallmarks of a good author is the quality of their secondary characters, and the roles that they play in the story. Thomas populates the books with a wide cast of characters, and they are well-defined and interesting to read. You know what their motivations are, or what they might be, or perhaps you think you know, but you’re wrong! This makes the story so much more enjoyable.

Thomas’ writing is a pleasure. The stories are well-plotted and well-paced. Descriptions are lush but not overly drawn out, and the reader is able to easily imagine what this world looks like. A stereotypical fantasy-world map might be useful here, but it’s not really a necessity. For all that these books take place in the same world at approximately the same time, they are stand-alone and could be read in either order, though a few references are made in The Shadow Mark that tie it loosely to Lord Mouse. The “heat level” here is relatively low, and all but nil in The Shadow Mark. I’m just happy to see strong gay main characters in well-written fantasy stories!

I am very much looking forward to book three in this series.
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Day 4 Update

Dan was moved over to the rehab ward of the hospital today. This is going to be a big improvement for him. It will include daily hygiene routines, like taking a shower and brushing your teeth, putting on and wearing normal clothes, and communal meals with the other patients in the middle of the ward. Initially, he is scheduled for 90 minutes of occupational therapy and 90 minutes of physical therapy. The therapy is done at a gym several floors down, so he will get to go out and about around the hospital, though in a wheelchair.

Dan received some lovely and thoughtful gifts today from Perro & Mahoney and Mwako (silly lion!). Thanks to Lex for an absolutely gorgeous walking cane! It may be a while before he can use it, but it will be extremely useful down the line.

So here is where we’re at: likely 2-3 weeks in the rehab ward, then 4 weeks of in-home therapy, and outpatient therapy thereafter. The reality is that this is some serious nerve damage. It will take 12-18 months of recovery, and some things may not come back at all. Right now, standing unaided is impossible and walking is out of the question. But that is just right now. Every day that goes by brings improvement, large and small. Dan is a fighter, and I know he is going to work his ass off every possible moment to beat this.

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Hello, it is my job to make people second guess openingly asking for asks. :D Just kidding, but really quick question. Probably the most important question I ask everyone. Waffles, Pancakes, or French Toast?

Tough call, but I have to go with French toast. How can you go wrong with some good thick bread, soaked in a delicately-flavored custard, topped with some dark maple syrup…

Dammit, now I want some French roast.

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Q&A

(snagged from @wynteruniverse, who Tumblr won’t let me tag for some reason)

Not that anyone cares, but I desperately need distractions right now and this looks like a fun one.

Nickname: Duncan, Duncan da Husky

Star sign: Aquarius

Height: 6 feet 2 inches (188 cm)

Time right now: 14:44

Favorite music artist(s): Lordy, this changes at a moment’s notice. Lately I’ve been on a dance/pop kick so there’s a lot of Tiesto, Martin Garrix, David Guetta, etc. I also like ambient instrumental stuff like Tycho, Explosions in the Sky, and Lowercase Noises. Finally, I’m a sucker for folky/rock stuff like Passenger, Carbon Leaf, and Spirit of the West.

Last movie I watched: I don’t really watch many movies. The last movie I saw in a theater was Jason Bourne.

Last tv show watched: Building Off the Grid. Yeah, it’s a dumb homebuilding show, but it’s fun to skip through occasionally.

What are you wearing right now?: Business casual – blue striped long-sleeve button down shirt, gray slacks, black walking shoes. Because I should be working but can’t concentrate enough to do that 🙂

When did you make your blog?: Which one? I started my LiveJournal blog in January 2002. I’ve been blogging off and on using various platforms since then. I started this Tumblr blog in August, 2013.

What kind of stuff do you post: Book reviews, random musings I don’t want to post to Twitter (which gets autoposted to Facebook for my family to see), occasional fanboying of some of the authors and artists I follow here, reblogging of things that amuse me.

Do you have any other blogs?: I no longer post to LiveJournal and have imported all of my posts to my WordPress site at http://ift.tt/2mcDtDU. Posts to this Tumblr are also echoes to that site. I post far more frequently  (for better or worse) to Twitter, at http://twitter.com/duncandahusky

Do you get asks regularly?: Not at all, really. I’m an open book though so if anyone ever has any questions, fire away!

Why did you choose your URL?: Duncan da Husky is me 🙂 I picked up the nickname Duncan when I was active in the Society for Creative Anachronism back in the early 1990’s (Lord Duncan MacKinnon of Tobermory is still registered with the SCA’s College of Heralds, as is my unique heraldic device!). When I became active in furry fandom in the late 90’s, I was already used to being called Duncan more than my real name so I kept that. I identify closely with dogs, and Siberian huskies especially, so there you go.

Hogwarts house: Hufflepuff, according to Pottermore. Eh, I’ll take it.

Pokemon team: No habla Pokemon

Favorite color: Purple

Average hours of sleep: I aim for eight, but more usually it’s around six and a half.

Lucky numbers: Um. 7?

Favorite characters: Balto (Balto), Nick Wilde (Zootopia), Deacon Parish (Amy Lane’s Promise Rock series), Ox (TJ Klune’s Wolfsong), Bear (TJ Klune’s Bear, Otter, and the Kid series), Roan Mackichan (@notmanos‘ Infected series)

Favorite public figure: None at the moment

How many blankets do you sleep with?: Always a comforter, and an extra blanket for the winter months as well

Dream job: Alaskan tour coordinator

Blah blah tag people whatever – fill this out if you want to, how about that?

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I am confused

killfrost2:

Why are all of the toys from my childhood on this shelf labeled retro?

I’m sorry, you’re now old. Please report to the senior center for your cardigan and rocking chair. Enjoy your episodes of Matlock and Murder She Wrote. ???

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duncandahusky:Nothing like stress-testing the “in sickness and in health” part of our wedding vows. …

duncandahusky:

Nothing like stress-testing the “in sickness and in health” part of our wedding vows. I’m at his side no matter what happens.

So, to be somewhat less cryptic: My husband (40 years old) collapsed yesterday after losing feeling and control in his lower extremities. It turned out to be congenital spinal stenosis – an abnormally narrow channel for the spinal cord between the vertebrae. Basically, the bone was growing into his spinal cord. This has been going on all along and was a ticking time bomb. I guess it’s good that he was at home, but I got to learn what it’s like to call 911 and have the ambulance come to your house (the EMT’s were awesome, by the way).

Off to the hospital we went, and late last night he had emergency spinal surgery: lumbar laminectomy from L2 to S1. There was a good bit of trauma to the nerves in his lower back, and nerves don’t bounce back quickly. We are looking at 12-18 months of recovery, a good portion of which is going to be learning how to walk again.

I’m not going to lie. This is fucking terrifying. It is going to change our lives completely, but this is the new normal and we have to deal with it. The important thing is that I still have the man I love, and god dammit together we will make this work! The support we have received from our friends and family near and far has been overwhelming and immensely gratifying. We are not alone in this, and for this I will be eternally grateful.

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Book Review: Rogue Magic, by Kit Brisby

Rogue Magic, by Kit Brisby

While trapped in a stalled subway train on his morning commute, PR rep Byron Cole flirts with Levi, a young waiter with adorable curls. But Byron’s hopes for romance crash and burn when Levi saves him from a brutal explosion-with outlawed magic.

When Levi is imprisoned, Byron begins to question everything he’s ever believed. How can magic be evil when Levi used it to save dozens of lives? So Byron hatches a plan to save Levi that will cost him his job and probably his life. If he doesn’t pull it off, Levi will be put to death.

Byron discovers that he isn’t the only one questioning America’s stance on magic. And he learns that Levi is stubborn, angry, and utterly enchanting. Time is running out, though. Byron must convince Levi to trust him, to trust his own magic, and to fight against the hatred that’s forced him to hide his true nature his entire life. The more Levi opens up, the harder Byron falls. And the more they have to lose.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

This was such a fun book! Brisby has done a very nice job of world-building here, imagining a world like our own but some people are born with magic. Magic is seen as dangerous, a threat to society and rigidly controlled. Mages are required to be registered with the government and wear magic-nullifying bracelets. Sure, the bracelets cause constant pain and a high percentage of registered mages commit suicide, but at least society is safe, right?

Byron is the nephew of the chairman of Cole Industries, an enormous company that is the driving force in magic suppression and control, possibly more powerful than even the government. For him to start questioning his beliefs is a very big deal indeed.

The plotting and pacing of this book were great, and the suspense really ratchets up throughout the book. I adored the main characters. Byron is socially inept and “weird” and yet a good and thoughtful man who is trying to do the right thing. Levi is someone who has always just tried to fly below the radar but now is forced to endure medical testing and be subjected to some truly horrifying procedures. I would have liked to get a better feel for Levi’s personality before this all went down, but it’s understandable why he is written the way he is. I loved that Levi maintained a grim sense of humor and sarcasm throughout the story, though. The blossoming romance between Byron and Levi was incredibly sweet, and I was cheering them on the whole time.

The side characters are great as well, from Victoria, the anti-magic scientist recruited to help Levi, and Eleanor, Victoria’s maybe-girlfriend and Byron’s snarky roommate, to Byron’s shady, unscrupulous uncle. They and others supported the story well and yet still seemed well-developed.

Brisby’s writing flows well, and she does a good job of slowly ramping up the pacing as the suspense kicks in. Little modern touches like social media addictions and smartphone games help to ground the story in the present and help the reader get a better mental picture of the book’s world. Overall the “heat factor” is pretty low here save for a few intimate moments, but the developing relationship between Byron and Levi is even more enjoyable to me than paragraphs of steamy scenes anyway.

I happily recommend this book, and look forward to seeing more of Kit Brisby’s writing in the future!

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Book Review: Wolfmanny, by Julie Talbot

 

Wolfmanny, by Julie Talbot

Three hot werewolves, sexual tension thick enough to cut with a knife, an impending Colorado winter, and a rambunctious pack of werewolf pups. Stand back and watch the fur fly.

When Kenneth Marcon loses his nanny to a bite from one of his inherited kids, he knows he needs someone strong to contain five werewolf children. What he finds isn’t a stalwart nanny, but a werewolf manny named Jack. Kenneth and his assistant, Miles, aren’t sure if Jack is what they need, but he’s what they have to work with.

Jack’s got what it takes to keep the kids busy-and attract both Miles’s and Kenneth’s attention. The two old friends have been circling each other for years, but with Jack as the final piece to the puzzle, it’s time to finally act on those urges. When Kenneth is forced to travel instead of solidifying the bond with his new mates, Jack and Miles take desperate measures to get him back, even as they save the kids from one disaster after another. Amidst the chaos, they have to learn how to become not just a pack, but a family.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

This book was far more entertaining than it has any right to be. The world-building is sketchy (we know there are werewolves and shifters of other species), the dramatic conflict is low, we have insta-mates (“I have just met you and I know that we are destined for each other!”) and really not much of any import happens. And yet – the characters are very sweet, the domesticity is comforting, and the ménage à trois is hotter than heck!

Jack is a former soldier of some type now an employee of Nose to Tail, Inc., a company of various types of shifters that you hire to get things done when they must get done. This isn’t his first “manny” (male nanny) job, but it may be his most complicated, dealing with a teenager, two tweens, and two toddlers/cubs. The father, Kenneth, is a multimillion-dollar business mogul trying to find time for his family and his business. Miles, Kenneth’s second-in-command, has been devoted to Kenneth all his life with no hint of romance and is swept up into the threesome with a gratified astonishment that is simply adorable.

Almost the entire book takes place at the family’s isolated Colorado home. Scenes typically devolve into a frenzied display of Jack juggling the kids’ needs and working with the multitudinous house staff to make the whole thing run. To be honest, the way it was written appealed to the logistics geek in me, which is probably another reason I enjoyed this book so much! The scenes in bed are well-written and aside from being damned sexy also make me smile to see three men so genuinely happy together.

Talbot’s writing flows well, and while the books pacing got a little slow at times, it was still a fun read. The fact that these characters are shifters is more incidental to the story than anything, but it does add some interesting touches. I would hope that future installments in the Nose to Tail, Inc. series up the dramatic tension a bit, but I suspect I will happily read them even if they don’t.

(I made it through the entire review without commenting on the book’s title. Just…yeah. It’s an awful pun and let’s leave it at that!)

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Book Review: Bayou des Enfants (Rougaroux Social Club #4), by Lynn Lorenz

It’s been nearly a year since Scott and Ted set up house together in St. Jerome. Life is good. Ted is trying to get his PI business off the ground with the occasional job and still painting for the gallery. Scott is alpha of the pack and sheriff of St. Jerome.

But Scott’s mother, Darlene Dupree, is not content. She wants grandkids and she wants them now. Taking matters into her own hands, Maman, as Scott and Ted call her, works her magic in the middle of the night next to the bayou.

Before Scott and Ted know it, they’re saddled with two boys. Which wouldn’t be so bad, if someone in the pack would take them in. But no one steps forward to claim them and Scott and Ted are left with a terrible choice, take in the kids themselves or give them up to CPS, where the boys can’t hide what they are – werewolves.

It’s the wrong time and the wrong kids. But the first rule of the pack is to protect the pack and there is no other choice to make.

Bayou des Enfants (Rougaroux Social Club #4), by Lynn Lorenz

Rating: 5 out of 5!

I’ll start off this review with a guilty admission: Whenever I see a review of a book other than #1 in a series I haven’t read I immediately skip past it. Hopefully others won’t do so with this because it’s really quite good. While you might understand a bit more about the characters and the setting if you start with Book 1 (Bayou Dreams, which I gave a 4 out of 5 review here), I think this book would also stand alone. This is the continuing story of small-town Louisiana sheriff Scott Dupree and his partner, former New Orleans cop/private investigator Ted Canedo. I fell in love with these characters in Bayou Dreams and it’s wonderful to spend more time with them.

To date I have generally taken a pass on books with couples raising kids. It’s not that I have anything against kids or the topic itself, it just didn’t seem like something that would interest me. Since I’ve enjoyed the Rougaroux Social Club series to date I figured I would give it a shot. I’m glad I did! This is a very sweet story.

Scott and Ted are in a quandary. Scott wants kids but isn’t always that great at dealing with them. Ted doesn’t feel he’s ready for kids but handles them quite well. They take in Timothy (age 6) and Charles (age 10) on a temporary basis after their mother and abusive father are killed in a car accident. The difficulties they have adjusting and slowly becoming a family are incredibly endearing.

Their efforts at becoming a family are threatened by a homophobic community, though. I wish I could say that this aspect of the story is overblown, but I grew up in the American South and I know that even to this day such attitudes exist. It’s hard to read sometimes, but I think it is important to acknowledge that this homophobia exists and can be damaging in unexpected ways.

There is a nice little subplot to this book as well, where Ted and Scott struggle with their relationship and issues of dominance, masculinity, and gender roles both in their daily routine and sexually. This leads to some extremely hot times in the bedroom that I definitely appreciated!

This was a sweet, enjoyable book that I’m glad I took the time to read. I do hope we don’t have to wait another two years for the next book in the series!

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fozmeadows: thehoosh: kh2rac: sodomymcscurvylegs: iam-miracul…

fozmeadows:

thehoosh:

kh2rac:

sodomymcscurvylegs:

iam-miraculous:

lily-peet:

PREACH!

Give this a 100,000 notes please. This needs to be all over the internet.

THIS! Conservatives want to pretend that academia is made up of liberal elites instead of admitting that education and factual knowledge fly directly in the face of their ignorant, ridiculous views.

I’m surprised it took this long for someone to say this tbh

every tweet made my heart grow bigger

MIC DROP

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Book Review: Secrets & Truths, by Kimberly Hunter

Secrets & Truths, by Kimberly Hunter


For untold centuries, the history of the Regem Lupus, the Wolf King, and his Regem Conjugem, the Royal Consort, have been hidden. Many times they have surfaced, putting the Pack back in order. Only to have it all fall apart again after their deaths.

Until now.

This is the personal account of Caleb Lamont and Jett Valen. Told in their own words, follow along with them and discover how an ordinary human and a powerful Alpha Prime learn of their birthright, their heritage, and most importantly, their destiny.

So in the immortal words of Caleb Lamont, “Buckle up, bitches! It’s going to be a wild ride!”

Rating: 2.25 out of 5

This book started out so well. I have always been a complete sucker for the whole ordinary-guy-destined-for-greatness storyline, so I loved the premise here. Caleb, a soldier in a shifter defense force, is nearly killed but saved by a bite from a werewolf compatriot, making him a werewolf as well, and a very powerful one at that.  Woohoo, right in my wheelhouse!

But then you have the standard werewolf insta-mate trope (“I have just met you and I love you!” Wait, does this mean Dug was a werewolf? Never mind.) I’m willing to put up with this if it is written well. The problem is that we don’t get a lot of glimpses into the personalities of the two main characters, Caleb and Jett, so the whole thing falls kind of flat for me.

There is really very little action here. There is a lot of discussion about the history of the Regem Lupus (I agree with the earlier comment that it should more properly be Rex Luporum, “King of wolves”) and the politics of the human and shifter worlds. OK, so we spend 75% of the book talking and talking and talking and then things go completely off the rails.

I really can’t get around the ethics of what is proposed in this story. It is definitely au courant in dealing with income inequality and poverty and need across the world. The solution that is proposed, though, is for all intents and purposes mass murder. This is NOT OK. What can I say? I like my good guys to at least try to be good. This is pretty much amoral trigger-happy BS.

Regarding the writing, the story is told from first-person POV, but it jumps between Caleb and Jett. I frequently couldn’t tell through which character’s eyes we were seeing and it made the story confusing as heck.Finally, a bit more proofreading would be helpful. There were also a good number of places where incorrect words were used, like “diffusing a situation”.

I’m afraid I really can’t recommend this one, unfortunately.

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afhenley: maptitude1: The North American Cryptid Map Here is a…

afhenley:

maptitude1:

The North American Cryptid Map

Here is a map in case any of you wanna go hunting for some cryptids.

Oh yeah. I put that wolf shifter pack in the right place, didn’t I, folks? 

Yes indeed! And I’m tickled that The Beast of Bray Road which I mentioned today is shown (that’s less than an hour from our house).

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Book Review: To the Other Side (Terra #1), by S. J. Frost

 

To the Other Side (Terra #1), by S. J. Frost

When Garrett Evergard is rescued by the witch, Bryson Summers, he discovers an alternate world unlike anything he’s ever imagined, and when that world is threatened, he’ll do anything to save it and the man he’s grown to love.

Garrett Evergard is a finder of secrets. As a biologist and environmentalist, it’s his job to go into wild lands and uncover their mysteries in order to save them. In the Pacific Northwest, he races against logging lobbyists to save a section of temperate rainforest, but the forest seems reluctant to give up her secrets. Until a fateful meeting with a rare spirit bear opens the door to wonders beyond anything he’s ever imagine, the greatest of those being the beautiful man who comes to his rescue.

As a witch and Gatekeeper, Bryson Summers is used to living a solitary life. He lives between two worlds, Earth and Terra, feeling not fully part of either, and dreams of meeting someone who understands him. From the moment he sees Garrett, he believes – and hopes – he’s looking upon a twin soul. Dragons, unicorns, and a witch with enchanting brown eyes, Garrett tries to make sense of a world so different from anything he’s ever known. But his mind and heart are open, and he finds himself drawn more to Bryson with each day they spend together. When Bryson and the gate that links the two worlds fall under threat, Garrett is willing to do all he can to protect them, even if it means facing down dark magic.

Rating: 2.75 out of 5

I had really high hopes for this one. It’s got a great premise and interesting characters. Alas, after a promising start it quickly gets detoured into Tropesville, and not just romance tropes.

Garrett’s personality comes through pretty well. His role as a scout to prevent development is a little unlikely, and the environmental issues at stake are presented in very simplified, black-and-white terms. Nature is Good, Corporations are Evil. Got it. This would be a peripheral nitpick if it weren’t a driving force for the plot as well.

Bryson is a little more difficult. Although we get a good idea of his character, he’s so very good, so altruistic, so nurturing…it’s just a bit much. He is an ideal match for Garrett. In fact, he is rather too-perfect a match and this is the point where the story started to feel a bit contrived for me. Bryson’s role as Gatekeeper is interesting, and the history and responsibilities of the position make for interesting reading, though.

Once we get the set-up and determine what the conflicts might be, the story collapses into plot-by numbers. We have the kidnapped lover thrown in the dungeon, we have the party assembling for a quest, and we have the modern-guy-in-fantasy-setting fish out of water scenario. Eventually it felt like the story devolved into what reminded me of some of the generic fantasy novels I read in high school, only with more gay sexytime.

The book finishes with what is quickly becoming a pet peeve of mine: introducing all of the characters who will appear in future books and laying out what the plots of those books will be in vague hints (“He swore that one day he would find his stolen {thing}.”)

Unfortunately, I just didn’t find this book interesting enough to consider pursuing the series any further.

Side note: About that cover. Sheesh. Can you imagine how much waxing it would take to get that look? Also, props for relating maybe 25% of the book cover to the actual storyline.
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Happy [Valentine’s|Single’s Awareness|Horny Werewolf] Day!

I’m so damn lucky to be surrounded by amazing friends and family, and even neat
folks on the net I’ve never met. I send love and well wishes to all
today!

Happy Valentine’s Day especially
to my wonderful husband Dan, who somehow continues to put up with my sh*t even after 18 years together 🙂

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Book Review: Aaron (Survivor Stories #1), by J. P. Barnaby

Aaron (Survivor Stories #1), by J.P. Barnaby, audiobook narrated by Tyler Stevens

I can’t describe what it’s like to want to scream every minute of every day.

Two years after a terrifying night of pain destroyed his normal teenage existence, Aaron Downing still clings to the hope that one day, he will be a fully functional human being. But his life remains a constant string of nightmares, flashbacks, and fear. When, in his very first semester of college, he’s assigned Spencer Thomas as a partner for his programming project, Aaron decides that maybe “normal” is overrated. If he could just learn to control his fear, that could be enough for him to find his footing again.

With his parents’ talk of institutionalizing him – of sacrificing him for the sake of his brothers’ stability – Aaron becomes desperate to find a way to cope with his psychological damage or even fake normalcy. Can his new shrink control his own demons long enough to treat Aaron, or will he only deepen the damage?

Desperate to understand his attraction for Spencer, Aaron holds on to his sanity with both hands as it threatens to spin out of control.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

This is a remarkable, visceral read. Aaron is a survivor of a vicious assault, and Barnaby doesn’t sugar-coat things in the least. The reader is taken along in the spiraling panic of Aaron’s breakdowns and really gets an understanding of the PTSD that Aaron experiences. The author has clearly done an extensive amount of research into how victims of traumatic experiences feel, and how it can be dealt with on the personal and professional level.

Spencer has been deaf from birth, and while his father and aunt have done a great job raising him the isolation he feels in his everyday life is brutal. We learn what it is like to live with being deaf, the sacrifices that have to be made, and how technology can improve communication. Spencer is a strong-willed man, fiercely independent – the antithesis of Aaron in many ways.

Seeing Aaron and Spencer develop a tentative friendship that advances further is wonderful, and realistic. This isn’t something where they meet and it’s all rainbows and unicorns. There are harsh setbacks and disappointments. There are some degrees of intimacy that Aaron clearly will take a long time to be comfortable with, and this is dealt with honestly.

Barnaby’s writing is quite good. The story flows well, the POV alternating between Aaron and Spencer, so the reader has a good feel for how they are thinking and feeling. The side characters, mostly Spencer’s father and Aaron’s parents, behave believably. The support they offer is great to see. I have to knock off half a point because a major issue with Spencer’s father and the impact of it is not fully explored, though.

Tyler Stevens’ narration is fantastic. He helps the listener really feel and understand the emotions of the characters. In Aaron’s case this is no small feat and it makes the audiobook that much more affecting. Stevens’ makes Spencer’s speaking voice as one would expect from a deaf person, but I never got the feeling it was a mockery or unflattering portrayal – it just is. The side characters’ voices are easy to distinguish, and the overall narration feels very natural.

This is at times a difficult read but an extremely rewarding one, and the book is well-served by the audiobook performance.

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northofthemountains: afhenley: I need at least five. *le sigh*…

northofthemountains:

afhenley:

I need at least five.

*le sigh* Soon all of Canada won’t be large enough to accommodate all the adorable little cuties you want to keep, my friend. ?

Here’s some more background on the olinguito: http://ift.tt/2lcRAaP

Very cool! It’s the smallest Procyonid (member of the raccoon family)
known so far

.

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When people say: “We survived Reagan & Bush” …

aithne:

peoplemask:

http://ift.tt/2kljI7m

At every rehearsal during the 1980s and early 1990s, there were announcements about who was in which hospital room and when the next memorial was scheduled.

“I could see all these people dropping all around me, and there was no official response from any health department at any level,” said Tony McIntosh, who joined the chorus in 1985 and lost 25 friends to AIDS. “It was maddening. The chorus gave us an outlet for all that anger and relief from the feeling that nobody in the world seemed to care.”

… not everyone did.

A lot of us did not survive Reagan and Bush.

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Apropos of nothing, I was reminded of Kaje Harper’s Unjustified Claims, book 3 in her Hidden Wolves…

Apropos of nothing, I was reminded of Kaje Harper’s Unjustified Claims, book 3 in her Hidden Wolves series. I thought it was neat that in among all of the other trappings of m/m romance/shifter tropes, one of her main characters had a cross-dressing kink that was peripheral to the storyline. Because it was peripheral and not too important I didn’t give it much thought when I read it (~6 months ago) but with a little more context in the M/M genre I think it’s really nifty that it was a.) mentioned and b.) not made a huge deal about. Whether it is or is not your thing, I think it adds a nifty element of three-dimensionality to the story that I really appreciated.

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duncandahusky: So, about this latest book I’m reading. I’d characterize it as “Like reading Piers…

duncandahusky:

So, about this latest book I’m reading. I’d characterize it as “Like reading Piers Anthony only with more gay sex.” I enjoyed Piers Anthony when I was 12 years old. I’m not 12 years old anymore.

(To be fair, the reviews seem to rave about it and I’m only 35% into it. Maybe it gets dramatically better?)

UPDATE: It didn’t get any better ☹️ I actually really hate reviewing books I don’t think are very good. Someone worked very hard to make something they thought was worthwhile and I don’t want to be the one to tell them it sucks. I’ll have to think about it and figure out objectively why it didn’t work for me, and why maybe it might work for someone else.

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So, about this latest book I’m reading. I’d characterize it as “Like reading Piers Anthony only with…

So, about this latest book I’m reading. I’d characterize it as “Like reading Piers Anthony only with more gay sex.” I enjoyed Piers Anthony when I was 12 years old. I’m not 12 years old anymore.

(To be fair, the reviews seem to rave about it and I’m only 35% into it. Maybe it gets dramatically better?)

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Good Advice About 45

From a Facebook post by Bernice King:

Some Wise Advice Circulating:
1. Don’t use his name; EVER  (45 will do)
2. Remember this is a regime and he’s not acting alone;
3. Do not argue with those who support him–it doesn’t work;
4. Focus on his policies, not his orange-ness and mental state;
5. Keep your message positive; they want the country to be angry and
fearful because this is the soil from which their darkest policies will
grow;
6. No more helpless/hopeless talk;
7. Support artists and the arts;
8. Be careful not to spread fake news. Check it;
9. Take care of yourselves; and
10. Resist!
Keep demonstrations peaceful. In the words of John Lennon, “When it
gets down to having to use violence, then you are playing the system’s
game. The establishment will irritate you – pull your beard, flick your
face – to make you fight! Because once they’ve got you violent, then
they know how to handle you. The only thing they don’t know how to
handle is non-violence and humor.”
When you post or talk about him,
don’t assign his actions to him, assign them to “The Republican
Administration,” or “The Republicans.” This will have several effects:
the Republican legislators will either have to take responsibility for
their association with him or stand up for what some of them don’t like;
he will not get the focus of attention he craves; Republican
representatives will become very concerned about their re-elections.

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TJ Klune, on women writing M/M romance novels:So I read some of their books. And I was blown away by…

TJ Klune, on women writing M/M romance novels:

So I read some of their books. And I was blown away by them. They absolutely could
write about being gay in an authentic way. Granted, there were the
books with the ten-inch dicks and the eight-pack abs with Alpha males
named Blaze and Talon who snarled at each other that they’ve never even thought about being with a man before meeting each other, but then falling to their knees and giving head like a motherfucking porn
star with cocks leaking copiously (this might be a medical condition
that a doctor should be consulted with should it happen repeatedly) and
then taking it up the ass as if they normally walked around with a loose
butthole.

(In case you don’t know, bottoming for the first few times hurts. Like, a lot. So.)

Men in Romance: What’s In a Name? by TJ Klune

Oh my god, I am dying of laughter. And it’s so true!

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RESIST PIN AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDERThe ohm symbol – Ω – is a…

RESIST PIN AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER

The ohm symbol – Ω – is a measure of resistance. Show the world
you’re resisting the fascist turn the US government has taken in the
most adorable way possible with this angry skunk pin.

This angry little skunk & its word of RESIST will be 1.5″ (40mm) tall & hard enamel silver plated.

All money raised that is not spent on pin production and shipping
will be donated to the ACLU, who are currently fighting for our rights
across the country. Please note I am not involved nor work for the ACLU,
I simply know they need all the help they can get.

http://ift.tt/2jFK0WA

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vorik: I’ve been trying to put my finger on why the whole…Rogue Twitter thing has been bothering…

vorik:

I’ve been trying to put my finger on why the whole…Rogue Twitter thing has been bothering me, and I think I’ve finally figured out a piece of it.

The way people are regarding and celebrating these “rogue” accounts tastes a lot like idolatry. Which….would be less of a problem, in my opinion, if we were actually able to trust these accounts.

Some of them seem pretty legitimate but…you realize how easy it would be for someone (say, a counterintelligence agent) to make an account like this, in order to infiltrate the community, right? Considering how quickly more “rogue” agency accounts sprung up after the AltUSNatPark account, and how quickly they amassed followers, can you imagine how easy it would be for a competently-run imposter account to get plenty of attention and support?

People want to believe that there are people in federal agencies who have their best interests at heart. We want to believe that there are people in places like the White House, who are willing to risk their careers in order to help us fight. And I’m sure there’s a fair chance that those kinds of people do exist.

However, our government knows that we want that as well. It would not surprise me if the current administration were to take advantage of it. After all, it wouldn’t be the first time the American government has infiltrated dissenting groups to sabotage them.

I’m not claiming that I know that any of these accounts are fake. I’m not trying to delegitimize them. I mean, as a student of science (and as just one of millions of people who are fearful of what’s happening)…seeing accounts like the AltUSNatPark and RogueNASA has made me hopeful that truth, and fact, and reason, are things that will survive despite the government trying to suppress them.

I just want be careful. I want us all to remember that we need to be vigilant, we need to be skeptical, we need to remember how easy it is to be misled on the Internet. We need to restrain from putting blind faith into just any account that pops up and claims to want to help us.

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Book Review: Murmuration, by TJ Klune

Murmuration, by TJ Klune

In the small mountain town of Amorea, it’s stretching toward autumn of 1954. The memories of a world at war are fading in the face of a prosperous future. Doors are left unlocked at night, and neighbors are always there to give each other a helping hand.

The people here know certain things as fact:

Amorea is the best little town there is.

The only good Commie is a dead Commie.

The Women’s Club of Amorea runs the town with an immaculately gloved fist.

And bookstore owner Mike Frazier loves that boy down at the diner, Sean Mellgard. Why they haven’t gotten their acts together is anybody’s guess. It may be the world’s longest courtship, but no one can deny the way they look at each other.

Slow and steady wins the race, or so they say.

But something’s wrong with Mike. He hears voices in his house late at night. There are shadows crawling along the walls, and great clouds of birds overhead that only he can see.

Something’s happening in Amorea. And Mike will do whatever he can to keep the man he loves.

The best way to read this book is to go in completely cold, so there’s no spoilers to be had from me. It is safe to say that even though the blurb above tells a lot, it really tells you nothing at all.

It’s interesting that you could probably summarize the events of the entire book in a single paragraph and not miss much, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad story. Instead, it’s a tribute to the writing. We learn about the world of Amorea bit by bit, and the mystery slowly unfolds. We see the world from Mike’s point of view, taking comfort in his daily routine. As in Wolfsong, repetition of phrases plays a key part in the storytelling. This establishes a rhythm to the story and lulling the reader into a sense of normalcy, so that when things start to go awry the effect is all the more visceral.

The relationship between Mike and Sean simply melts my heart. They go slow – maddeningly slow at times – but the wait is so worth it. The fact that the town is watching them knowingly and quietly cheering them on is simply adorable as well. The rapport that they have established over the years is sweet and charmingly old-fashioned. They have been together-but-not-dating long enough that they have the simple language of lovers, where an exchange like, “Yeah?” “Yeah.” carries a mountain of subtext. The reader cheers them on as well, and as they get closer I admit I may have shed a tear or two.

This is another winner from TJ. If you’ve read his books, I’d say it has the seriousness of Into This River I Drown (which is very subtly referenced!) but the engaging story development of Wolfsong. If you haven’t read his books, then those two are great ones to move on to when you finish this one!

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