What I’ve just finished
The Paladin Caper (Rogues of the Republic #3) by Patrick Weekes [ARC]
Alpha Unleashed (Alpha Girl #5) by Aileen Erin [ARC]
Both of these books were ending books (though the Alpha Girl world will go on, I believe) and both wrapped things up very well. The Paladin Caper, especially, tied up things that had been in play since book 1. (Longer reviews will be on Goodreads when I have the spoons.)
What I’m reading now
Fool’s Quest (The Fitz & The Fool #2) by Robin Hobb: I love this series. I smile while I read it, I think the writing is gorgeous. I’ll be lost in this to the exclusion of all else until I’m done.
What I’m planning to read next
Reap the Wind (Cassandra Palmer #7) by Karen Chance [ARC]: I’ve been with this series from the beginning and I’m in it for the long haul. I don’t love the vampire stuff, but I like Cassie and Pritkin, so this book should be good.
How to Live Well with Chronic Pain and Illness by Toni Bernhard: Toni is pretty well known in the chronic illness community. I like her blog, I’m excited to check out her book.
[ARC: I received these books free from NetGalley in exchange for unbiased reviews.]
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Wow. There was so much in this book. It’s suspense–people are being murdered and the FBI is investigating. It’s speculative fiction–one of the FBI agents is a “Haden,” a person with Haden’s syndrome whose body is in a medical cradle at his home while his mind inhabits a robotic body (threepio–so perfect). It’s about disability and disability rights and it is very, very good at that, in my opinion. The book gets five stars from me because it combines speculative fiction with suspense/thriller and because it made me think.
What would I do, were I a Haden? Would I use a threepio and interact with the physical world? Would I never use one and interact only in the Agora (a virtual world that is utterly real to the Hadens)? Would I mix both? There was a minor incident mentioned about threepios not being allowed to use chairs in coffee shops if those chairs were needed by those without Haden’s. The particular threepio relating it doesn’t mind, but I’d mind. Oh, would I mind. There are great things like that which call into question the humanity of a Haden while in their threepio. Then there’s the housing which tends to be small and cramped for Haden’s because they are, after all, bedridden and don’t actually need space. But do they deserve it? Does it benefit them?
Oh, and the whodunnit? A wonderful mix of plots and schemes with the technology available to them. Very clever.
I could go on. I’m going to be revisiting this book many times.
3.5/5 stars. Zoe is an out of work travel writer who moved home to New York City. She finds an ad for a job she’s sure she’s perfect for, only to be told she wouldn’t fit in. Zoe doesn’t take no for an answer and scores herself a job interview and an introduction to the coterie–all the supernatural monsters (don’t call them monsters!) humanity doesn’t know exist. While planning and editing the ultimate coterie travel guide to NYC, Zoe gets entangled in a dangerous plot, discovers something about herself, and saves the city.
The action is interspersed with segments from the travel guide. It’s cute, but the travel guide sections often come before the related action, somewhat spoiling it. But that’s basically my biggest complaint about this book, which I couldn’t put down and ended up reading long into the early morning.
I really enjoyed Lafferty’s versions of vampires, elementals, and all the other coterie. The travel guide format creates an opportunity to learn things you otherwise wouldn’t learn, such as coterie history and dining habits. It’s a lot of fun.
Also, I really like Zoe’s friendship with Gwen (the Welsh death goddess) and Morgen (the water elemental).
3.5/5 stars. The Shambling Guide to NYC was a great hit with the coterie, so Zoe and some of her writers are taking the ghost train to New Orleans to write a travel guide for that city. My complaint from the first book in this series was that the travel sections often came before the action, spoiling it, and that’s fixed in this book, with the travel sections now coming after and supporting the action.
Though the first book threatened all of New York City, Zoe included, this book seemed more threatening to her on a personal level. One of her writers would happily kill her, she gets shot on the train, and some mysterious guy hints that she could be in huge danger just based upon who she is.
There is a mysterious African god Zoe meets in Jackson Square and I encourage those of you who don’t recognize him right away to google him. I think it’ll enhance your reading to know who and what he is, and it won’t take anything away from the story.
Zoe learned a lot of coterie and human-coterie history in this book and I’m fascinated to see where it goes. Yes, obvs, I am hoping for more in this series.
(Provided by publisher)
Work with my PCP and Clinical Pharmacologist to better control my blood pressure. This includes trying various new medications, having as many appointments as they deem appropriate, and checking and recording my blood pressure at home.
Better track my health issues. Use the apps I have. Tracking can lead to finding triggers and that can lead to better overall control of my disease.
Get a medical marijuana prescription. Confirm my hospital’s policy, then find a pain management doctor if necessary. Register with the state as needed.
Commit to taking a multi-vitamin daily. This is the one supplement I always forget and I need to be better about it.
In 2013 I accomplished the majority of my health resolutions. I did change my DMD from Copaxone to Tecfidera and I haven’t had an exacerbation (with new disease activity) since. I increased my gabapentin dosage and had a remarkable upswing in my walking ability because it much better controlled the pain and muscle fatigue. As for my migraine triggers, they seem to frequently come along with other MS pain, so I still need to track them further to figure this out. I did not obtain medical marijuana last year as the state was not yet set up to provide it, but I did join an organization supporting patients so that I could learn about the process.
Will o’ the Wisp by Tom Hammock
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Aurora’s parents die when they eat death cap mushrooms. Aurora survives and is sent to live with the grandfather she’s never met on Ossuary Island. At first she thinks she doesn’t fit in, but gradually she makes friends with her grandfather, his pet raccoon Missy, Mama Nonnie the hoodoo conjurer, and even a boy she meets in the swamp. But things on Ossuary Island aren’t right. People are disappearing. Dying. And the people might need Aurora’s help to survive.
This book was beautiful. I loved, loved, loved the art. The ends of things–hair, beards, tails, clothes–drift off into question mark shaped wisps. It was great how Aurora’s gradually wore more black and white stripes–there were times she and Missy were matched striped friends. It was as cute way to show how Aurora began to fit in on the island and in her new family.
I don’t know a great deal about hoodoo, so I can’t vouch for the accuracy of it in this book. But I did find it to be treated respectfully. Though Aurora and her family are white–Aurora especially so with her pale skin and white hair–you will see a variety of people of color living in this Louisiana town. I worried at first that Mama Nonnie would be a “magical negro” but she was fleshed-out as a character with her own dreams and desires, she didn’t exist only to further the plot.
I liked this a lot. It was eerie, sad, and beautiful, all at once.
(Provided by publisher)
Hopeless, Maine Volume 1: Personal Demons by Nimue Brown and Tom Brown
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Salamandra is an orphan. One of many on the tiny island of Hopeless, Maine. And she’s very afraid and lonely. Until she meets a friend, someone who’s always there for her. The only one who loves her, the only one who understands. Her own, personal, demon. When Sal gets rid of the demon, it moves on to target others. Together with Owen, a real friend, Sal fights this personal demon and makes things on Hopeless just a bit brighter.
This book is lovely. It’s dark and slow and feels like three a.m. when anything could happen even though you’re so close to the dawn. The island is alive, with eyes and wisps that reach to grab. Sal is beautiful, a bit wild, a bit frightened, and very smart, and Owen with his height binds the sky to the ground in the same way he binds Sal to Hopeless.
Hopeless, Maine Volume 2: Inheritance by Nimue Brown and Tom Brown
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The authors say this book isn’t about growing up, it’s about thinking you’ve already grown up and realizing you have a ways yet to go.
Finally giving her full name, Sal finds out she has a living relative on Hopeless. A grandfather, who lives in a lighthouse, and who everyone thinks is crazy. At the same time, Owen’s mother lays dying. Everyone tells him there’s no cure, but he believes there has to be one and that they’re letting her die.
Sal’s grandfather lives in the lighthouse for a reason. He’s there to guide people away and to wait for them to come back. He did it for his family, and now it’s possible he could do it for Sal and Owen. But only one of them can leave Hopeless; who will it be?
If anything, I think the art in this book is even better than that in the first. Everything is living. Hopeless is as alive as its inhabitants, and as eerily beautiful.
(Provided by publisher)
It’s supposed to reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit today and since that’s changed all my plans for the day I suppose now is a very good time to tell you about a big part of my invisible illness: Uhthoff’s Phenomenon.
Basically, Uhthoff’s Phenomenon (or Sign) is a worsening of Multiple Sclerosis symptoms caused by heat. It happens because the heat makes it even harder for your already-damaged nerves to function. Something as common-place as a hot bath or shower is enough to trigger symptoms. (Which is why, for years, the “hot bath test” was used to diagnose MS.)
You might be thinking of it as “heat intolerance” but that doesn’t describe the scope of it. I’m not intolerant of heat, I’m knocked on my ass by heat because all of a sudden my nerves no longer transmit the right messages or want to work properly. (Knocked on my ass was a literal statement; I can fall down if the heat is too extreme and I’m unable to cool off quickly enough.)
Here’s the scary part: an increase of 1/4 to 1/2 of a degree Fahrenheit is enough to trigger symptoms. Now try to imagine what an increase of, say, 30 degrees above my optimal will do to me. Yep, that’s why I’ve changed all of my plans for the day to “stay inside an air-conditioned space.”
So what actually happens to me in the heat? The symptoms come on almost immediately; it takes only minutes for me to start to feel the effects. Then I feel drowsy and my legs begin to feel weak. If I’m walking, I start to wobble. I tremble and shake. I slur and forget words, and have trouble with my memory. I feel as if I’m going to pass out. Sometimes I fall or nearly fall down.
The good thing is, under normal circumstances the symptoms can be rapidly reversed by cooling down. By under normal circumstances I mean, being able to cool down immediately. The longer you’re exposed to the heat, the longer it will take to feel better once you begin cooling down.
So if you need me today, I’ll be inside where it’s air-conditioned.