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Jana Stocks "~J" RSS Feed (Western USA)

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Emissary
Emissary
Price: $2.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A lovely sense of humanity and Humor, January 8, 2015
This review is from: Emissary (Kindle Edition)
Disclaimer: The author of this book is a personal friend. Even so I'm pretty sure if it sucked I'd tell her so...and possibly run thereafter, but still. She'd rather I review it honestly, and that's the plan.

Review: Emissary is the story of a priestess of Death, Zerafine and her protector Gerrard. Zerafine's job is to help restless ghosts find their way into the court of Atenas, God of Death, and it's a job she's very good at. Good enough that when ghost that don't act right start appearing in the capital city Portena she's sent to find out what is going on.

I had a lot of fun with this novel. It's a very fast read with characters who are engaging from the get go. I love Zerafine's dedication to her religion and her understanding of how people view her. She sees the suspicion and sometimes out right aggression without letting it get her too upset because she knows people fear death even if she also knows they don't need to.

She and Gerrard make an excellent team and you can tell they've been together for a long time and have that sense of family and almost finishing sentences for one another. (view spoiler) There is a bit of a romance thread, but it doesn't over take the main plot, or really interfere with the rest of the story so I'd still recommend it to those who aren't into a strong romance.

I also love the addition of the messenger girl Nacalia who manages to be brash and charming without crossing over into obnoxious child figure. Her near instant connection with the pair adds a lovely sense of humanity and humor.

The resolution of the piece is really satisfying, showing the deep connections between the deities and their followers and how one person really can be that important to the whole of the world. And that's all I'm gonna say about it since I think you should read it for yourselves. :)

One other thing of note. There is a lot of original terminology and world building in Emissary. It's fascinating, but sometimes takes a little to keep it all straight. It'd be interesting to see more in this universe and how it all ties together.


The Monster at the End of This Book
The Monster at the End of This Book
by Jon Stone
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $2.36
410 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Early Christmas, July 21, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I purchased this book for my little girl as a really early Christmas present. I have a soft spot in my heart for this story of poor Grover and his fear of monsters as it was one of my favorites when I was little. I'm looking forward to reading it to my kiddo.


Luvs With Ultra Leakguards Size 4 Diapers 160 Count
Luvs With Ultra Leakguards Size 4 Diapers 160 Count
Price: $30.99
34 used & new from $24.33

4.0 out of 5 stars Affordable and functional, July 21, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I like Luvs. I know they don't work for all babies, but for my little one they're a very good combination of functional and affordable. Getting them in the large pack on subscription drops the price to about 13-14 cents per diaper which is something that fits into my budget.


Cornaby's Thick Gel, 32 Ounce
Cornaby's Thick Gel, 32 Ounce
Price: $16.38
2 used & new from $16.28

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superior Stability, September 20, 2012
While Thick Gel is used like traditional corn starch the results are definitely nothing traditional. Products thickened with Thick Gel stay beautiful in the fridge, frozen or canned! I can finally make salsas and apple pie filling that isn't cooked down to nothing, but is beautiful in the jar and in my pies!


Cornaby's Ultra Gel - Instant, Gluten-Free, non-GMO Food Thickener for Cooking and Canning, 16-Ounces
Cornaby's Ultra Gel - Instant, Gluten-Free, non-GMO Food Thickener for Cooking and Canning, 16-Ounces
Price: $10.26
4 used & new from $10.26

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great product for making cooking easy, September 20, 2012
I've been using Ultra Gel for years and love it. My husband calls it kitchen crack because once you see how easy it is you never want to give it up. Ultra Gel instantly thickens any liquid at any temperature so is good for making everything from instant pudding to Thanksgiving Gravy, and best of all products don't separate in the fridge or freezer and can be safely canned. This makes it so that no only can I cut down my time in the kitchen I never have to give up quality and my leftovers stay good long enough that someone eats them!


Fated (An Alex Verus Novel)
Fated (An Alex Verus Novel)
by Benedict Jacka
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $6.40
83 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting new offering...can it separate itself from it's predecessors?, June 15, 2012
Fated rates somewhere between three and four stars for me, but there is no 3.5 here, so there you have it. It was fun to see another male protag in urban fantasy which is often dominated by snarky women.

Alex Verus is a mage, though not of the blow things up or 'kill you with my brain type', rather Verus is a diviner, someone who can see the future. I really enjoyed seeing a very different type of ability as the primary use, though there are a few things which struck me as a little odd. Such as how matter-of-factly he took watching many scenarios where he died, often in horrible ways. Maybe this is just something you get used to as a diviner, but it seems to me someone would be more shaken by watching this kind of thing, even knowing that it hadn't happened yet and that maybe you could still stop it. The other thought I had was that being slightly out of phase with what was happening all the time would tend to create someone who was a little more off kilter than Verus is. Maybe it's a matter of his training that he could very much stay focused in the here and now with the futures and possible futures only playing out when he wanted it to and not affecting him that much. The plotline is pretty straight forward and there weren't many places where I didn't guess the twist before it happened, but it was well enough put together that I didn't mind. I appreciated the secondary characters, in particular the twist on Luna's curse, and the use of creatures such as Arachne and Starbreeze.

The biggest thing which is both a pro and con is that Alex and his universe are very clearly inspired by the Harry Dresden books, by Jim Butcher. So for those who love the Dresden novels there are a lot of similarities to be enjoyed. Butcher offers a blurb on the front, but that's not the only cross over. The history of Alex Verus has some distinct similarities with Harry Dresden and there is at least one throw away line referencing the guy in Chicago who lists himself in the yellow pages. Also there are several writing bits which are distinctly in Butcher's style, (The last few paragraphs of Fated are a distinct echo of the end of Storm Front. Not word for word, but very close and the flow of the wording and intent are very similar.) which was an interesting homage to a very good series, but it makes me really hope that in future books this series can set itself apart as it's own thing with a distinct voice separate from Dresden.

So I'm willing to read the next book and didn't regret this one, but I'll be watching to see where it goes. All authors tend to draw ideas and inspiration from other masters in the genre (Tolkien anyone?) but the most interesting part isn't where they're the same, but what they do which is different!


Under Wraps (The Underworld Detection Agency Chronicles)
Under Wraps (The Underworld Detection Agency Chronicles)
by Hannah Jayne
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $6.99
83 used & new from $0.01

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Don't Judge a Book?, August 28, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I can't say that I regret the time I spent with this book. I picked it up because of the controversy over the cover, and I have to agree that the cover is ridiculous as compared to the actual content. Pondering it I would have been just as likely to buy the book with an appropriate cover versus getting it just for the kick assitutude represented by the sword and leather fall back position.

This story is a highly campy urban fantasy/paranormal romance. Sophie Lawson works at the supernatural version of the DMV where it's paperwork and dodging slime day in and day out - usually while wearing comfortable shoes. She's drawn into an above world murder plot and gets to hang out with the handsome and detective Parker Hayes. She's got a fashion obsessed roommate and a kindly boss who she chains up every night...apparently it's a werewolf thing.

The world building here is all right, but nothing that blew me away. It's campy, fun and very predictable. The interesting thing for me was that I'd recently finished Grave Witch by Kalayna Price which had a similar base plot, but it was done much better. So I think Under Wraps suffered by the comparison.

This book reminds me most in tone of the Simon Canderous novels or Touched By An Alien.. Fun, but I'll check the next book out from the library before purchasing.


Ghost Country
Ghost Country
by Patrick Lee
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
82 used & new from $0.01

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enter the Ghost Country, July 22, 2011
One of the books I picked up in the airport bookstore was Ghost Country by Patrick Lee. I've been curious about this one since reading a few blurbs about it over on Janet Reid's blog and in a couple other places. I'm happy to say that it was totally worth my 8 bucks and I'm going to go get the prequel. I didn't realize this was the second book in this set, though it's not a problem at all to start with this book. There were a couple things that felt like the author was assuming information I didn't have, but they were few and far between and I really only realized The Breach was the first book about Travis Chase when I got to the last page of the book and saw an advertisement for it.

Ghost Country is the story of Travis Chase and Paige Campbell, lovers parted by unanswered questions and their own past. Paige works in a place called Boarder Town which is the guardian of an alien phenomenon called The Breach. Various machines referred to as `entities' come through the Breach and the scientists in Boarder Town work to determine what they are and if they can be safely used by human beings. Ghost Country picks up when an entity gives proof of a future where life as we know it is over and Paige is taking the information to the President. Unfortunately she finds out that the President already knows what's going on and has no intentions of stopping it...in fact he and other highly positioned people are helping it along. A thirty second phone call involves Travis, pulling him out of a self imposed retirement to come to Paige's aid and to work with her and another young scientist, Bethany, to unravel what is happening to the world and how they can stop the bleak future from becoming a reality.

I can't really get into too many more plot details without spoiling the book, but it was a fun fast read. The writing is engaging and the action keeps moving, but it's obvious the author has thought his technology through and is a fascinating view at what happens in the minds of people when they give up on making things better. There's a romance angle through the book, but it's very gentle and added to the story without the narrative stopping to let Paige and Travis deal with their issues. They have to deal on the trot and in the end...well...they're still dealing.

Definitely worth the read!


Fairest
Fairest
by Gail Carson Levine
Edition: Paperback
Price: $6.99
236 used & new from $0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Fun lazy afternoon read/listen, July 22, 2011
This review is from: Fairest (Paperback)
This last week I listened to Fairest by Gail Carson Lavine. I was in the mood for something light with a happily ever after kind of thing after reading a lot of darker bits. I kinda wonder if that's partially because I'm so ready for spring and happily ever afters tie into good weather in my brain.

Fairest is a retelling of Snow White and takes place in the same world as Lavine's Ella Enchanted retelling of Cinderella. The maid Aza is abandoned as a baby and raised by an innkeeper and his family. Unlike the usual spin on step families the family truly loves her and she truly loves them. (As a step mom meself it appealed immensely to me to see a happy step relationship.) Physically Aza is an ugly kid, both in her own eyes and the eyes of other, and that theme of chasing beauty and what it means to be beautiful on the inside and the outside is really what the book is about.

The language is not overly difficult save for some of the names, the fantasy spellings are occasionally horrid, but easily readable by around 10 and up. In a month where I just needed a little `and they all lived happily ever after' this was a fun feel good listen. The one problem I had with the audio book is that they sing all of the singing parts, which are abundant. Initially it was kinda cute, like listening to a Bollywood film, but some of the songs are LOONG and I didn't like the melodies they'd chosen enough to listen. I became grateful for the fast forward button at a few points. Despite some of that annoyance, I do really like the full cast audio for this type of book.

A great book for a lazy sunny afternoon or while on vacation.


Right Hand Magic: A Novel of Golgotham
Right Hand Magic: A Novel of Golgotham
by Nancy A. Collins
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $6.71
92 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Proof that UF doesn't have to be dark to be fun, July 22, 2011
I finished Right Hand Magic a couple of weeks ago, and I have to admit I found it charming. It it the best, most dramatic urban fantasy I've ever read? Nope. But it was engaging and really fun, and sometimes fun is exactly what I'm in the mood for.

In Right Hand Magic we meet Tate, who is a trust fund baby defying her socialite parents by choosing the path of an artist, in her case an artist who builds sculptures out of metal. When the book begins Tate has recently broken up with her boyfriend and is looking for someplace new to live, particularly if the rent price is right and she finds the right rent in the area of the city known as Golgatham. We're not given a LOT of background about how magic came into the world, but it's enough to know that the supernatural exists and that it is untrusted and generally confined within Golgatham. Usually humans aren't welcome there, but Tate is desperate for change and at $750 a month she figures it's worth trying something a little weird.

From this beginning Tate meets her witch born landlord, his obnoxious winged cat familiar, a cellar dwelling seer and a new housemate in the form of a were cougar escaped from the underground fighting pits. The plot is fairly predictable, but I didn't mind going on the journey to see just how it'd be achieved. Tate is a really fun heroine with a spunky attitude, that never crossed over to being mean. She is not a `kick ass' heroine in the traditional UF sense of killing everything that gets in her way. More she's just confident in herself and works hard to achieve her goals and to take care of the people around her. At one point she's captured by the protagonist and even though she can't do much, she does take the opportunity to stomp his foot and kick him in the shins, which is pretty much what I think most people would do.

Likewise the romance is cute and sweet. You can tell it's coming, but Tate and Hexe are cute together and it's satisfying. I appreciate Hexe's characterization and his strength of person as well. In fact the majority of the secondary characters are well done, which really rounds out the world and makes the bits that would be less believable something I'm willing to suspect disbelief for.

The magic system is fun consisting of natural abilities that come with race and then the witches, who practice Right Hand Magic, Left Hand Magic or some combination of the two. Right Hand Magic is gentle magic, usually used for healing and blessing and undoing dark magic, where Left Hand Magic would be the a fore mentioned dark magic. Most witches tend towards Left Hand Magic or the middle ground, but Hexe has chosen a path of only Right Hand Magic, no matter how hard it is to hold that road.

This book read fast and I'm looking forward to the next installment.


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