My Best Friend

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At first glance, you’d think he was a monster.  At six foot four, dark hair, coffee colored skin and a permanent five o’clock shadow, all the stereotypes flood your mind when you see him, overwhelm your synapses, and you would give him a wide berth.  But you need to take a closer look.  Look past his height, his weight, his face.  Look into his eyes, and you will see what I see.  Inside that embodiment of all those stereotypes likes my best friend.  The kindest, most gentle, most caring soul any of us would ever meet.

His name is…well, if you know the real me, he needs no introduction.  Born and raised right here in Mississauga, Ontario Canada.  Twenty eight years old, and a few months older than me, a fact I don’t often let him forget, he’s the son of a full blooded Italian father and Armenian mother.  He’s traveled to both sides of this country, to the States, Cuba, and even as far as Australia for family and friends.  He’s a gamer, a geek, a writer, a reader, and a manga freak.  I met him seven years ago.

What first drew me to him was his personality.  He has one of those intelligent, funny, vibrant personalities that generally draw people for one reason or another, despite his shyness at times.  For me, it was his sense of humor that attracted me to him.

We met in university, my first year, his last.  The first time I saw him he was more on the periphery of my vision rather than front and center, listening in on a conversation I was having about condoms with teeth.  Long story, I’ll get back to it later.  So the first time we met, we didn’t really talk.

The second time however was more memorable, that’s what cemented our friendship, and is the story I prefer to tell of the first time we met.  I was coming off a very hard, emotional time of my life, and while I was getting better, I was still very bitter and very much into shocking the hell out of people, and I had found a particular phrase to help me do just that.

You know how people tell you to bite them, screw off and such like that?  Even your friends when you’re horsing around?  Well my particular phrase of the day was ‘suck my dick’, and it worked quite well to shock people.  See, normally when I say that, people look a little cross eyed at me.  They’re confused that I would say that, amused, and just a little bit curious as to if I did have one.  And fyi: I do.  His name is Pinky and he runs on batteries.

But he didn’t react the way people normally did when I first said this to him, the second time we met.  Instead, he says to me “Well the clitoris is the female equivalent, so drop your pants let’s do this.”

Well, wasn’t I the one cross eyed.  I was surprised, amused, and very impressed.  Things went uphill from there for us, and soon enough we were spending a lot of time together and became fast, close friends.

But if it wasn’t for his compassionate nature, and his way of accepting people as they are, we would never have become as close as we are.

One night, while we were working late on campus, we talked.  And some how I told him things I had never told anyone else before, things I was too afraid or ashamed to speak of to anyone.  But I told him.  And he didn’t judge me.  He didn’t condemn me, or look at me differently, he just accepted me for everything that I was, something I learned as time passed that he does for everyone.

It’s been seven years since I met my friend.  Seven years since I made a best friend.  Four years ago we took that next step that seemed so natural, and he became my lover too.  But I know no matter what, even if things crash and burn between us in terms of a relationship, I know that he will still be there for me.  Yes, he is my boyfriend now, but he was my friend first, and my best friend forever more.

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Our First Night Part 1

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Fenris was waiting for me when I returned home that night, sitting on a bench in my foyer.  We had killed Hadriana, an apprentice of his master, saved a slave girl, and learned he had a sister alive and well in Tevinter all in one day.  But instead of being happy, feeling some joy or closure, he disappears into the ether; his final words to me before he had left were “I … need to go.”

And now he was here, in my home.  He walks out on me, on all of us.  And with all that had happened to make him leave, I had to wonder what brought him back.

Fenris stood up when he saw me.  “I’ve been thinking about what happened with Hadriana,” he said.  “I took out my anger on you, undeservedly so.  I was not …myself.  I’m sorry.”

Well this was refreshing.  Fenris was not the sort to apologize to most people unless he truly felt he had done them wrong undeservedly.  I hoped this meant things were finally looking up between us.

“I had no idea where you went,” I said softly.  “I was concerned.”

“I needed to be alone,” he said, looking away from me.  “When I was still a slave, Hadriana was a torment.  She would ridicule me.  Deny my meals, hound my sleep.  Because of her status I was powerless to respond and she knew it.”  His voice slipped into a growl as he said that.  “The thought of her slipping out of my grasp now, I couldn’t let her go.  I wanted to, but I couldn’t.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.  I couldn’t imagine Fenris actually wanting to let go someone who had used and abused him so long.  Especially when they had such a strong connection to the one person he hated most in this world.

“This…hate…” he began. “I thought I’d gotten away from it, but it dogs me no matter where I go.  To feel it again, to know it was they who planted it inside me, it was too much to bear.  Bah!” he exclaimed, turning from me.  “I did not come here to burden you further.”

“You don’t have to leave Fenris,” I said as I reached for him arm.

Fenris turned on me with a snarl, his lyrium runes flaring bright blue as he grabbed my arms and pushed me against the wall.  His face fell as he realized that he had done, and the glow faded.  He looked at me with a mixture of trepidation and regret, afraid I would at long last turn him away.

But how could I bring myself to do that?

I smiled at him, and before he could do or say anything, I kissed him.  Pushing us away from the wall, it was my turn to be aggressive.  I grabbed his arms and took his place, pressing him against the wall as I ravished his mouth.

I could feel his hands on me, roaming over my back and buttocks.  Our tongues met as we kissed and the world disappeared.

Finally I broke the kiss, gasping for air.  My head spun as I looked at him.  His eyes smoldered and we were breathing heavily, panting for each other.  I smiled at him again and leaned forward to whisper in his ear.

“Follow me.”

I took hold of his hand and led him up the stairs to my bedroom.  Thank the Maker mother was out visiting friends and I had given Bodahn and Sandal the night off or else this would have been very awkward.

I closed the door to my room and turned to see Fenris staring at me from the fireplace.  He was nervous, I could tell.  I would need to take my time with him.

Slowly I walked over to him, untying my robe as I went.  Fenris’ gaze fixed on my hands as I undid the belt and slowly slipped the fabric from my shoulders, leaving me in nothing but my underclothes.

Fenris swallowed as I reached for the buckles of his armor.  He caught my hands before I could go any further.

“Hawke,” his voice broke.  I waited.  He cleared his throat and started again.  “Hawke you know I’ve never-“

I swiftly placed two fingers over his lips, stopping him mid sentence.  “Shush love,” I whispered.  “I know.  Just relax.  I’ll take care of you.”

My lips soon replaced my fingers, freeing my hands to continue their work.  Soon enough I had him stripped of his armor and down to his underclothes.  I finally saw his body fully for the first time.

His body was everything I ever imagined.  Lean and muscular, my mouth watered at the thought of touching his dusky skin.  Intricate runes covered him from head to toe.  I had to admit they were beautiful to look at, but I knew how much pain they had caused him and my heart ached for him.

I looked at Fenris, and saw the fear.  He was scared that now that I had seen him, I wouldn’t want him anymore.

I had never seen this side of him before.  Fenris had never let himself show anything other than fierce determination and strength.  Never had I seen him more open, more exposed.

It only made me want him more.

I gently led him to the bed and laid him down.  I propped myself up on my arm next to him.  I was determined to show him just how much I wanted to be with him.

I just hoped he would give me the chance.

Gently, I began touching him, tracing his runes with my fingers.  I felt him tense, and then relax as I took the sting out of my touch by having my lips and tongue follow.

I traced my way down his body, touching, licking, kissing and sucking, until his underclothes impeded my progress.  I looked up the length of his body through the fringe of my bangs.  He was breathing heavily, head propped against my pillows, hands clenching the bed sheets.  He was watching me, and my eyes never wavered from his as I undid the ties and slipped his underclothes off, gently urging his hips off the bed to do so.

Finally I saw all of him.

The runes stopped short of his manhood, standing firm and proud from the rest of his body now that it was freed.  Nestled in a thatch of dark curly hair, a bead of moisture glistened at the tip.

“Hawke,” Fenris groaned before I shushed him.  I continued my previous ministrations and gently ran my hand over his shaft.

I heard his swift intake of breathe, then a long drawn out moan as my lips and tongue soon followed.  I took my time with him, stroking and sucking.  I wanted to show him that not everything in this world was hard and painful.  I looked up at him again and saw that his eyes were closed, sweat beading on his forehead.  I knew he was close.

“Hawke, please,” he whispered as I stroked him faster and faster.  I ignored his pleas, focusing on bringing him to the conclusion I knew he was fast approaching.

His breathing grew more labored, he began thrusting his hips, faster and faster into my hot wet mouth as he reached the edge of no return.

I knew when he was ready.  I felt him pulse in my mouth and hand as he arched his back and bellowed my name.  I pulled away as he came, letting his seed splatter over his belly as I milked him for every drop.  Finally his body stilled and he collapsed back into the bed.  His breathing grew calm and he looked at me, sated.

I smiled at him as I stood up and went over to my dressing table, picking up the cloth and bowl of water there.  I returned to the bed and began to gently clean him.  Fenris said nothing, just watched as I drew the cloth slowly across his belly, my hands gentle and sure.  I could only imagine what was going through his head right now.

When I finished, I set the bowl aside and lay in bed next to him, propping my head on my fist I looked down at him.

“I take it you enjoyed that?” I asked with a grin on my face.

“It was…good,” he said hesitantly.  “But what about you?”

I gently stroked his face as I looked into his eyes.  “I wanted to give you something first,” I whispered.  “I wanted to show you that life isn’t always harsh and painful.  There can be good and joy in it too.”

Fenris looked away from me as he fought to keep his emotions in check.  I took his chin in my hand and slowly turned his head back so he faced me again.

“Besides love, we have all night and I am nowhere near done with you yet.”

Part 2

Angel or Demon?

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Ah Fable.  The franchise that has devoured so much of my time and soul on my 360.  Well, at least with 2 & 3.

When Fable first came out in 2004, for me it was a breakthrough RPG.

The story revolves around your character, a little boy who grows up in a small village  called Oakvale in a land called Albion.  Life is peacful for the boy at first, but then your village is attacked by bandits one balmy summer night, your father killed, your mother kidnapped, and your sweet big sister with the weird, prophetic dreams blinded and lost to the wilderness.

You’re found among the burning ruins of your town by a wizard named Maize, and he takes you to the Guild of Heroes where you grow up and learn that you have something special in your blood that makes you a Hero too.  So you spend about five to ten years learning, growing, and honing your skills before you discover that a darkness is descending upon Albion, a darkness that you must help defeat, and in the end is caused by the one that ripped your world apart all those years ago.

But everything you do, from start to finish, affects you and your world in some way.

Before Fable, all of my RPG experience had been with Neverwinter Nights, and in Neverwinter, your actions do affect your game play to a slight degree, mostly limiting what classes and abilities you take.  For example if you start out as a Lawful Good Paladin, then go on a pillaging spree, taking whatever your black little heart desires, then you shift your alignment and are no longer able to level up as a Lawful Good Paladin and are exempt from all the abilities thereof.

Also, the world around you wasn’t overly affected either.  If you’re getting along well with someone and kill their spouse/family  in front of them, they don’t really care.  Or if they do, they make a comment, you leave the area, come back, and your best friends again.

No so with the Fable franchise.  Fable was the first game I came across where your actions affected everything from your physical appearance, to the lasting impressions of the characters that partake of the world with you.  You steal from a merchant and get caught, they bloody well remember you.  Want to kill someone?  Make sure no one is looking else the guards are called.  And I liked that.  It made the game more challenging for me.  I had to be more aware of my actions down to what I ate so I could have the game play I wanted.

And what I thought was really nifty, the more good I was the more angelic my appearance, and the more evil, the more demonic.  Something which they have kept on throughout the franchise.

So basically everything you do has moral consequences.  These consequences affect your morality, your appearance, and the way the world perceives you.  But the other big difference in Fable compared to most other RPGs in my experience is the world layout.

Most RPGs are like a really long corridor with rooms on either side that you can nip in and out of to gather treasure and XP, but once you leave that room, the door closes behind you forever and you can’t go backwards along the corridor.  The story is linear and there’s not much need or motivation to stray of the storyline path.  Fable is a bit different.

The Fable world is more like a walled in canyon, with one entrance, on exit, a path clearly linking the two, and a lot of caves and valleys to explore.  You have your linear storyline, a plan as day progression from point A to Z an every letter in between, but you are not limited to the areas you can search, and you can go back to them as many times as you like, whenever you like.  You can even dig up buried treasure!

Every time you enter a new area in Fable, you have a clear and defined goal in sight, but you can run around that area, looting it for treasure and bad guys, and you can go back to it again and again and again.  The treasure may not re spawn, but the bad guys-and therefore the xp- do.

The XP system was also pretty new to me too.  You can gain three different types of experience in Fable, depending on the type of weapon you favor: Strength (for melee weapons like hammers and swords), Skill (for long ranged weapons such as crossbows and the like), and Will (for magic and spells).  If you’re a type cast player, this works out pretty well.  I’m always a melee fighter, I like to get right in the middle of the fight, get down and dirty.  As a result, I was only using melee weapons and leveled up pretty quick so soon I was almost unstoppable.  But if you prefer to be a more versatile or all around fighter, you’ll need to grind away a bit more for get a good balance of damage dealing abilities.

What was really cool though, is the economy.  No longer are you stuck grinding away at jobs and quests to make money to buy that shiny new armor you’ve always wanted.  Now you can buy homes and rent them out!  Unfortunately there are only like one or two properties in the bigger and better areas that you can buy, but it’s better than nothing.  Buy a few houses, rent them out, and sit back and let the money roll in.

My biggest complaint is with traveling around the world.  Travel is like save points in Fable.  You could pass through ten areas of the game, but only have points that you can actually travel to at areas 1, 5, and 10.  If you want to get to area 3, you need to select area 1 and walk the rest of the way.  Bit of a pain in the butt if you’re on a fetch and carry quest because all the beasties re spawn when you leave an area.

But that’s really about it.  Fable was fantastic for me when it first came out because there were all these new features I never thought an RPG could have.  The only downfall was that travel was a bitch if there wasn’t a ‘save point’ for lack of a better term.

I know this is late in the game for review, especially since Fable came out for Xbox and trying to find a copy is like trying to find a virgin in the Playboy Mansion, but I’ve just gotten back into Fable 2 & 3, and discovered you can still get Fable 1 as a download from Xbox Live, so there we are.  The only thing is the download does not include the expansion The Lost Chapters, so I has a sad for that.

Otherwise folks, enjoy.

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Avengers Assemble!

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Ok folks, how many of you had nerdgasms when you heard The Avengers was coming to theater?  Show of hands!

*whispers* One, two, skip a few…

Why you naughty, naughty fan boys.

S’ok, I did too. 😀

And the thing is, I’m not a huge comic book person.  I knew nothing of the Avengers before the movie came out, aside from the movies starring the individuals themselves, Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, and The Hulk.  Most of my excitement came from the boyfriend.  He’s more into comics than me, and therefore knows more of the cannon than I do.  I’m always double checking my facts with him, and bless his soul he does love to teach me and spread the nerd around.

I loved the Avengers.  Full of action, humor, good actors and awesome characters, it’s the kind of movie you can go into with zero back story and still enjoy it on it’s own merits.  Granted seeing at least the individual movies of the main four I mentioned earlier would help in some aspects, but it’s not required or necessary.

The story here goes that Loki, Thor’s brother from his self titled movie, is alive if not mentally well, and planning on opening a portal to earth to bring on an alien invasion and take over the world.

First he attacks SHEILD, which is essentially a high tech, super secret government research facility into the scientifically weird and volatile.  He steals an outer space energy source, blows up the compound, and he pisses of the director; a one eyed bloke by the name of Nick Fury who just so happens to be played by THE Bad Ass of bad asses, Samuel L. Jackson.

If that’s not enough to make you see this movie, I weep for the species.

Anywho, tricky Nicky here wisely decides that what is left of his organization after Loki’s attack is not enough to get back the outer space energy source that he made off with, and so he puts out a call to a few ‘friends’ to give him a hand.

At first it’s just Captain America, Banner, and Stark as Iron Man in the Avengers, alongside a new character the Black Widow.  Thor joins in later when Loki is captured, and Hawkeye (first introduced in Thor) joins up later after being freed from bad guy clutches.  And they’re not very cooperative in the beginning, a source of frustration and amusement.  But when they join together, hoo boy.  Do not stand in their way.

The words ‘Hulk Smash!’ don’t even being to describe it.

Enjoy folks.

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Azmodaus Part 2

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And what a plan Immerald mused to herself, her mind on the centuries that had passed since that council meeting as she soared over forests and rivers far, far below her.  The plan she, Jakkor, and the last of the elder Druids had come up with seemed ridiculous and impossible, but there seemed no other way and at the last it was done.

All the creatures that followed the old ways were to converge on one spot with the last of the Druidic orders.  The combined magics of creatures and humans would be used to create an alternate world, a New World, a haven for those who were hunted in the Old World.  But such an undertaking undoubtedly would have its price.

Several Elders did not survive to see the New World, including Moonstar and Thunderstorm.  The last of the practicing druids were decimated, leaving only a score surviving, and to this day Immerald believed they had gotten off easy.

The creatures exacted their own price from the two druids as well, fearful of being betrayed by members of the race that were driving them from their homes at a time when they would be most vulnerable.  Jakkor and Immerald’s souls were ultimately bound forever to the land they helped to create.  Any harm coming to the land they would feel, and likewise was the ancient dragon Azmodaus bound, for it was his magic that was pivotal to allowing the New World to be created.

So long as Azmodaus’ soul lived, so too would the land survive.  But as no creature could live forever, they took out Azmodaus’ heart and placed it in a jeweled case so that when his time came, the body and mind of the great dragon could pass on, but his soul would remain, protecting the land he created in life.

As for Immerald and Jakkor, their bodies lived and died in the normal lifespan of a human, but their souls were continually reborn will all their accumulated knowledge, a gift from the elders so that they could live to care for the land they helped to create.  Now the two druids cared for the New World and kept the Old World from discovering the New until they could join the two and create One World.

But now the unthinkable was happening.  Azmodeus’ heart, the keystone to the existence of the New World, was dying, and it was calling out to the Caretakers, Jakkor and Immerald.  And they answered.  Soaring over mountains and valleys, the two druids-turned-raptors headed to the First Door, the place where it all began, where the New World was created, and forever joined with the old.

The creatures were understandably hesitant to cut themselves off from the only home they had ever known, so in the beginning there was a myriad of these doors, but as time went by and humanity forgot what was once true, the doors were used less and less, until all but the First were finally closed forever.

By the time the druids had reached the cliff face that held the First Door, they had flown miles across the world, to a desert that lay cold and dark under a full moon and clear sky.  It was on an ochre red ledge that the two falcons landed, and two humans stepped forward towards the seemingly smooth cliff wall.  But with a wave of Immerald’s hand, the veil that hid the Door shimmered and disappeared, revealing a deep, dark tunnel burrowing deep into the cliff.  With only a glance to one another, the pair stepped forward into darkness from the clear night-

-and came out onto another ledge in the bright sunshine of noonday.  The land they came upon was beautiful.  Mountains stretched as far as the eye could see to their left and right, while in between lay miles of fields and forests, meadows and glades, rivers and streams in every shade of green, blue, aqua, and turquoise.

Immerald stepped forward towards the edge, tilted her head back and opened her arms wide, basking in the warmth of the sun.

“We’re home,” she whispered.

Jakkor stood silent, watching the sun turn her hair into molten honey that swayed gently in the breeze.  He heart swelled as he watched her.  This was the usual greeting she gave the New World, but never had her words held so much passion.  Jakkor knew that soon, one way or another, their role as Caretakers would be over.  They were fighting a losing battle, and soon the New World would be totally inaccessible.  He knew that on that day, he and Immerald would finally be able to rest, to spend their lives together as Jakkor had been longing to for centuries.  But so long as they were Caretakers, they could be nothing more between them

Shaking himself from his reverie, Jakkor stepped next to her.  Lowering her arms to her sides, Immerald turned and smiled at him.  Jakkor smiled back.

“We’d best see that’s going on,” he said.

“And we’re here to take you there,” replied a voice beside them.  Turning, they saw two unicorns standing on the trail leading down to the valley.

“Greeting Caretakers,” said one stepping forward.  Immereld saw that the unicorn was an elderly stallion, and his companion was a young mare.  “My name is Daystar, and this is my daughter Morningstar.”

“Greetings to you both, Daystar and Morningstar, children of Moonstar,” Immerald bowed to the pair.  “You honor us, your ancestor died to help create this world.  Your bloodline is a proud and noble one.”

“Thank you Caretaker,” said Daystar, and Immerald could see both him and young Morningstar swell a little with pride at those words.  “But it is you who honor us.  Many stories are told of your dedication to our world, and I hope they are not over estimated.” Daystar’s voice had taken on a gloomy tone.

“What exactly happened Daystar?” asked Jakkor stepping forward.  “Why is the Heart dying?”

“We cannot discuss it here,” said Morningstar in a soft whispery voice. “It is better if you see for yourself.”

“Come,” Daystar said, presenting his flank to the pair. “We will take you.”

Immerald and Jakkor climbed onto the backs of the unicorns and they set off down into the valley.  As the unicorn raced across the valley floor, Immerald reveled in the sensations around her.  The roiling of Daystar’s muscles beneath her as he ran, the wind rushing past and whipping her hair about her face, the blur of greens and flashes of blue as the landscape sped by.

Soon they came to a cave that had been carved into the cliffs.  Jakkor and Immerald dismounted and faced the unicorns.

“We go no further,” said Daystar.  “Enter the cave and continue until you meet Thunderfist.  He will tell you all you need to know.”

Immerald bowed again.  “Thank you for your assistance unicorns,” she said.  “Your generosity will not be forgotten.”  It was not often one got to ride a unicorn, and it was not an event to be taken lightly.

The unicorns bowed in turn to the humans and left them at the cave mouth.  Reading the symbols carved along the sides of the cave, Immerald spoke a Word and the veil of magic that guarded the entrance fell away in a shimmer of light.  With racing heart Immerals started forward, but was stopped by Jakkor’s hand on her elbow.  Looking back at him, they were able to read the fear in each other’s eyes.

Smiling softly, Jakkor stepped beside her and slid his hand down her arm, twining their fingers together and clasping their hands tight.  Immerald smiled weakly back at him, and looking forward they took the first step that would change the rest of their lives.

Retribution Review

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9065265Retribution is the 20th book in Sherrilyn Kenyon‘s Dark Hunter series, which also features Were and Dream Hunters, and it is unfortunately one of those few books that I must give less than a five star rating.  More like three.

Normally, I devour Kenyon’s books.  They’re sexy, fast paced, action packed, and generally speaking everything you would want a romance book to be.  Normally she delivers.

Now don’t get me wrong, she delivers here too, but it takes a while to get the ball rolling on this one.  I didn’t really start liking it till almost the end, and by the end I was like “OMG that was fantastic!’

Retribution features the cowboy (literally, he was born, raised, and reborn in the Wild West) Jess ‘Sundown’ Brady, squaring off against Abigail, the descendent of his long lost love Matilda who just so happens to want his death because she saw him kill her parents.

Or at least she thinks she did…

Abigail winds up being raised by Apollites after her parents were murdered, and lo and behold, they twist her pretty little mind into thinking that Dark Hunters kill humans, blame the deaths on the Apollites, Daimons don’t exist, and Dark Hunters in general are mean, nasty, viscious blood thirty crazy murdering bastards who deserve everything they get.

So Abigail goes on her own crusade, killing every Dark Hunter she can, hoping to run across Brady one day and take his life too.  Along the way she manages to kill one of four Guardians; you know, the kind destined to guard something really, really nasty from being released unto the world and destroying all mankind.

So she essentially kick starts the apocalypse, and winds up a ‘prisoner’ of Brady’s, and off they go together to try and save the world and fall in love as they were destined to do.

And I do mean destined.  Those two have a pair of really old souls…

So that’s the gist of Retribution.  End of the world apocalypse, according to the beliefs of the Native American mythology this time round.  So far Kenyon has touched on Celtic, Sumerian, Greek, Atlantean, and now Native American mythos in her books, along with a fair amount of demonology to boot, so needless to say her books are never boring.  You learn a little something new every time.

But something just seemed off to me about this one.  I think it was because Abigail caved so easily in her feelings for Brady.  I mean, one second she’s hating his guts, wanting to spread sed innards all over the walls, and the next she’s mounting him in a car wash.  The physical connection, the ‘OMG I actually love this guy’ revelation…came on too quickly for me.  She just rolled too easily into it.

It might have been better if she was more like ‘Ok, I still hate you but I can’t deny I’m attracted to you’ when she bedded him the first time.  That would have been a bit more understandable and believable.  You can be physically attracted to someone and still hate them before that hate melts into something more.

I dunno, their whole relationship up until the end of the book just seemed off.  By the end I guess it all makes sense, but you tend to focus on the past and future of their souls rather than the present.

Good beginning, squishy middle, but a fab ending.  Plus by the end of Retribution you realize why book 21 is called Time Untime.

Enjoy folks.

Next up: The Kingless Land by Ed Greenwood

49386Aglirta is known as the Kingless Land–once prosperous and peaceful, it has now fallen into lawlessness, studded with feuding baronies engaged in a constant state of war. The only hope for peace lies in the legend of the Sleeping King: destined to rise and restore peace when the Dwaerindim stones are recovered.

Lady Embra Silvertree is the sorceress daughter of a bellicose baron with an eye towards world domination. She has been imprisoned by her father who hopes to use her as a magical battery to fortify his castle. When a pair of good natured rogues attempt to steal one of her jewel encrusted gowns, they are quickly enlisted as allies to help her escape and, with the aid of a shape-shifting cleric, to seek out the Dwaerindim.

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Once Tricked, Twice Shy

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12700306Oh Atticus.  What have you gotten yourself into this time?

The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne is one of my favorite fluffy series.  Hearne is lauded as the next Jim Butcher, and his character Atticus O’Sullivan as the next Harry Dresden, and for good reason.

Atticus is the last Druid on earth, and that’s Druid with a capital ‘D’.  He can work earth magic like no one’s business, and so long as he is in contact with Gaia, he can draw on her strength to heal or enhance his.  He has werewolf and vampire lawyers who help him cover up supernatural messes and drum up new identities when the need calls for it, and they in turn have a group of ghouls on speed dial for messy clean ups.

Now Tricked is the forth book in the series so far, the first three being Hounded, Hexed, and Hammered.

In Hounded, we are introduced to Atticus and his Irish Wolfhound Oberon (who is just fantastic by the way).  A lot of ground work gets laid down here for the next three books, and we’re introduced to the Irish pantheon, one of whom has been hunting Atticus for centuries.

And that’s the story of the day folks!  Hounded is all about confronting this god, who has hired a cabal of witches to help him, and taking him down.  Hexed is about Wiccans and finishing off the witches that were introduced in Hounded, and Hammered deals with the Norse mythology.  We go to Asgard, home of the Norse pantheon where Atticus takes on Thor with the intent of killing him.  Needless to say, win or lose that doesn’t turn out very well in the end.

Tricked here deals with, interestingly enough, Native American mythology.  Navajo to be precise.  A few books back, we met the Native American trickster god  Coyote himself, and Atticus made a deal with him.  And now Coyote is calling in the deal, but being a trickster god, there’s always a catch.  And this one is skin walkers!

Now skin walkers are basically human beings who have been courted by some seriously bad mojo with a brain and turned into witches who can literally take the skin of an animal and fit inside it, becoming a stronger, faster version of the animal whose skin they wear.  Skin walkers are wicked fast and super strong, if you’re lucky enough to get a shot off, congratulations!  You’ve just pissed it off even more.

So Coyote knows the skin walkers are around, and that they’re a problem, and he fully intends for Aticus to deal with them, but of course telling Atticus this would just be too easy and way less fun.

But that’s not the only trick in Tricked.  Turns out that Hel, the Norse goddess of death, is running around loose in the world thanks to Atticus’ shenanigans up in Asgard, and that he may have very well had a hand in speeding up the Ragnarok time clock.

Not to mention the fact that pretty much every omnipotent god from every pantheon is watching him very closely to see what he will do next.

No pressure, right?

The thing is with Atticus, he doesn’t go looking for trouble, he’s just too pig headed to back down when he should.  His pride gets in the way of a lot of things, and a lot of people get hurt because of it, and he covers it up by saying ‘I was keeping my word’, ‘I was only trying to survive’, yada yada yada.  But life is a learning experience, and just because you’ve lived longer than most anyone out there don’t mean you can’t learn a few more things.  Old dogs, new tricks and all that.

For me personally, the reason why I like Atticus and Dresden so much is because they’re flawed and human just like us.  Ok, yeah they’re a couple of bad asses that can throw some serious magic mojo around and most likely take out most everyone or everything that crosses their path the wrong way, but they make mistakes just like you and me.  The only thing is when they screw up people tend to die.

But aside from Atticus being a thick headed S.O.B most days, The Iron Druid Chronicles is quite enjoyable, providing you like the light fluffy reads.

Enjoy folks.

Next up: Retribution by Sherrilyn Kenyon

9065265Orphaned as a child and raised by vampires, Abigail Yager lives for one purpose, and one purpose only: To avenge the deaths of vampires everywhere. To destroy the merciless Dark-Hunters who stalk and kill her adoptive race. But most of all, to find the one man responsible for brutally murdering her family: the ex-gunslinger Jess “Sundown” Brady…
Resurrected from death by a vengeful Greek goddess, Jess must hunt and destroy the creature who’s assassinating Dark-Hunters. The last thing he expects to find is a human face behind the killings—and especially one resembling the human who’d murdered him centuries ago. Jess knows he’s not the one who slaughtered Abigail’s parents. But now he must convince her of his innocence—and cross the abyss between human and vampire—before the darkest of powers rises to destroy them both…

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