Snippet Saturday

Part 1, Part 2

Sebastian followed Morgan’s human assistant, Anne, to Morgan’s study a mere ten minutes after he’d arrived. He’d honestly expected to be told to make an appointment and come back another time. One didn’t just drop in on the de-facto leader of the Faithful. Or, one wasn’t supposed to. Sebastian did when he needed to see her. She’d only turned him away a few times.

Sebastian was on uncertain terms with the Faithful. He’d been made by one over a hundred years ago and had followed their rules for many years. Honestly, he still did, for the most part. He didn’t kill humans when he fed, unless they were bad–murderers, rapists, pedophiles–or they really pissed him off.

But, the Faithful… They were just so sanctimonious. And boring. They were in a sort of perpetual mourning state for their creator who’d been killed a few years before Sebastian was made. Before she’d died, she’d proclaimed she’d return, and so the Faithful were just waiting for her to come back. If she ever did.

The Faithful were all about rules and rituals and worship and Sebastian had never believed in God as a human. And while he was grateful to Kali for miracuously rising from death as a vampire and starting a new race, he wasn’t going to start worshiping her memory.

Anne stopped in front of Morgan’s study and turned. “I don’t know how long she’ll be able to talk with you,” she said with an easy smile. “She’s not super busy tonight, but things always can come up.”

“I understand. Thanks for letting me see her at all.”

She laughed. “I run her schedule, but this was all her. I think she was intrigued that LA’s most famous neutral came her see her.” She pushed the door open and waved him in.

He rolled his eyes at the description as he walked by her. There were plenty of neutral vampires in LA. He was hardly famous.

Morgan was sitting at her desk, typing. When he came in, she looked up and smiled. “Sebastian.” She rose and walked around the desk. “So nice to see you,” she said, holding out a hand.

He took it and shook it gently. Despite himself, he always felt a little tongue-tied around Morgan at first. It wasn’t her looks, although she was beautiful with long dark hair, big brown eyes, and long lashes. If she hadn’t been the second vampire ever created, he might have tried to take her to bed. But she was the second vampire ever and that sort of intimidated him. Kali was an abstract concept; Morgan was reality.

“Morgan. Thanks for seeing me.”

She smiled and gestured at a couple chair set up in front of the desk. He took one and she sat across from him, tucking one ankle behind the other. “What can I do for you?”

“I have a couple things. First, do you know anything about Michael Clearwater? He’s a member of the Society.”

She wrinkled her nose. “Not much. For awhile, he was trying to gain power and made some traction. Then, it all fella part for him, and now he’s a fairly obscure member.”

“Any idea why?”

“Not really.” She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “I don’t generally worry about the Society. Why?”

“His son came to me and asked me to find something for him. It occured to me that it could be a trap.”

“His son?”

“Tristan Clearwater. He’s looking for a book called The Magic of Music. Which is the other thing I wanted to ask you about.”


She tapped her fingers against her chin, eyes distant. After a moment, she shook her head. “I don’t know that I’ve heard of it. I doubt it’s in our collection, but I’ll ask Anne. She’s got a better idea of what we have, at least in the house. Is it urgent?”

Sebastian shrugged. “I get the sense it is, but Tristan isn’t exactly being forthcoming on why. He says he only wants to understand the theory, but it’s obvious he’s lying about something. And, he’s powerful.”

“Really? How powerful?”

“I’m not sure exactly, but I could taste the power in his blood.” Sebastian swallowed, thinking of the tingling he’d experienced. “It’s nothing I’ve ever tasted before. It made my mouth tingle. That ever happen to you?”

She shook her head. “No. I could taste some power in Anne, but nothing that made my mouth tingle. Are you sure it wasn’t something else? Lust? Compatibility?”

“Now, it was power. He wants it to seem like his interest is purely academic, although he admitted he was interested in gaining some control. It’s more than that, though. I’m sure of it.”

Morgan frowned. “What control does he need? Does he want to become more powerful or less?”

Sebastian pursed his lips, thinking. That was something he hadn’t considered. What if Tristan was lying not because he didn’t want Sebastian to think he wanted more power, but because he had the power and wanted less? What if he was as powerful as Sebastian sensed and it was overwhelming him?

“If it’s the latter, it’d be better to get the book into his hands sooner than later,” Sebastian said. “The last thing we need is for him to accidentally blow up Los Angeles because he can’t control what he has.”

Morgan moved her head from side to side. “That kind of innate power is very rare. But, you’re right. Do you know where he works? I can send Anne to meet him. See how powerful he really is.”

Sebastian gave her the address of Tristan’s workplace. “And you’ll check around for the book?”

“Yes. If we really have a violate warlock…”

“He says he’s not a warlock. He’s got magic, but says he can only do a few things.”

Morgan leaned forward. “Yes, but musical magic isn’t based on spells. It taps into a deeper power and teaches the magic user to channel his energy. For it to work, the user must have a connection with that magic already. The magic is a tool to draw it out.” She tapped her fingers on her knee. “Actually, if he uses magic as a focus, he might not even be a warlock.”

“What might he be?”

“I’m not sure,” she said. “But warlocks usually need spells. Music is different.”

“Anne’s a witch, isn’t she?”

“Yes, but she’s still studying. Her magic is spell based. If his isn’t, if it’s something else, we can’t let him run around untrained. We need to know.”

Sebastian shifted. “You think his father sent him?”

“Perhaps,” she answered, sitting back. “It could be Michael Clearwater is hoping to climb the ranks once more by disrupting our society in America. But, it’s equally likely that Tristan left on his own and came here to distance himself from his father.”

“Why?

She shook her head. “I don’t know. Generally, while the Society is against the supernatural, they aren’t technically averse to using and training warlocks. If Tristan is powerful, he’d be coveted, not spurned. So, without knowing Tristan and his story, I couldn’t say.” She leaned forward. “Proceed with caution, Sebastian. You are dealing with the child of a vampire-hate group. Try to find the book, but be careful.”

“I’m not planning on becoming his best friend. He’s just a client.”

“One whose blood you’ve drunk. And whose blood is infused with power. That can be addictive.”

He rolled his eyes. “I’ll be careful.” Sebastian stood. “Thank you for your time, Morgan.”

“I’ll be in touch.”

Comfort Reads M/M Romance Edition

Hi all! Don’t know if I’ve ever explicitly stated this, but I’m in California, which has now been put under a “stay-at-home” order. I’ve been under “shelter-in-place” for a few days now. I’m surviving by vlogging my experience. Talking to a camera helps a lot. If you’re interested, here’s my playlist.

I’ve seen quite a few people posting comfort reads and wanted to hop on the train. I’ll do it with a different twist. I’m going to post exclusively M/M romance books.

So, full disclosure: The Magpie Lord by K.J. Charles might be just a little bit too heavy for right now. It deals with a magical curse that’s trying to kill one of the main characters, Lucius Vadurey, and dead bodies and evil stuff. But the characters are so good and the plot is so interesting, you might not mind that. Plus, K.J. Charles writes some of the hottest sex scenes and this one has some great ones. It’s also one of my favorite M/M historical fantasies, so I had to include it.

Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston is the most romantic romance book I’ve ever read outside of Jane Austen. It’s such a great premise too: the son of the president falls in love with the Prince of England. It’s enemies to lovers (although they aren’t enemies, they didn’t like each other very much) and there are love letters. Super good love letters. This book is fun and squishy and romantic and absolutely lovely.

If you’re looking for a lovely read about magic, 1920s, Prohibition, a gumpy magic user and a protective non-magic user, this is for you. Arthur and Rory are <i>amazing</i>. I love how protective Arthur is of Rory and how good he is. And Rory is a fire starter. It’s a great book and the sequel is coming out sometime this year. I’m trying to get an eArc of it, but no reply yet. 😐

Really, anything by Cat Sebastian is perfect for this time, but I just finished A Gentleman Never Keeps Score and I remembered how much I loved It Takes Two to Tumble, so I’m highlighting these two. The first, It Takes Two to Tumble is basically The Sound of Music set in the 1800s (or 1700s) and they’re both men. Ben Sedgwick is hired to instruct Philip Darce, a ship captain’s, children. In the process, they fall in love. In A Gentleman Never Keeps Score, Sam Fox comes together with Hartley Sedgwick when Sam tries to find a dirty portrait painted of a friend of his. In the process, they fall in love. They’re both just lovely, sweet, and very easy to read. And, seriously, check out any of Cat Sebastian’s books.

Lord Alexander Pyne-ffoulkes hires Jerry Crozier to steal some diamonds from his father. Upon meeting, they find themselves attracted to each other and eventually, you guessed it, fall in love. But, oh man, can K.J. Charles write a love declaration. She bowls me over every time. Any Old Diamonds is so much fun, a rollicking heist, with hot sex and romantic words.

No Good Men by Thea McAlistair is another great novel. Alex is a bodyguard by night and a writer whenever he can get it in. When he gets distracted by a handsome stranger one night, his charge and mentor are killed and the police want to pin it on him. He and the handsome stranger, whose name I think is Sev, team up to solve the murder. It’s a great book with a lot of romance and I may have to reread it. 🙂

Any of the Hexworld books by Jordan L. Hawk are great. They’re set in a world where some people can shift into animals and are familiars of magic users. They are stand alone, but have an overarching plot. They’re a lot of fun.

Okay, I’m starting to get repetitive, so I’m going to leave this off here. I hope this list was helpful to any M/M fans who are looking to escape. But, really, anything by KJ Charles, Cat Sebastian, or Jordan L. Hawk will get you through this. Take care and stay healthy!

Review: The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

Title: The Starless Sea

Author: Erin Morgenstern

Publisher: Doubleday Books

Genre: fantasy, modern fairy-tale

Source: Library (and then Target)

Publication Date: November 5, 2019

Zachary Ezra Rawlins, son of a fortune-teller, finds a door. It’s beautiful and entrancing and calls to him. Unfortunately, it’s painted on a wall, so he doesn’t try to open it. But the memory stays with him right up to the moment he finds that memory written in a strange book he finds in his university library. Most intriguing is the mention of the Starless Sea that he didn’t find. Not yet.

Now, Zachary is obsessed with finding another entrance to the Starless Sea and the vast library it holds. All he has to go on is his book and the symbols of a bee, a key, and a sword. These symbols lead him to the intriguing characters of Mirabel, a pink-haired painter, and Dorian, a handsome storyteller. Together, they will venture into the Harbor where Zachary will find wonders he never dreamed. But there is a dark force trying to stop him, stop them. Will he find the answers he searching for? Or is he too late?

OMG, this book was amazing. From beginning to end, it envelops you in a magical world that’s just so fantastical. This is a fairy tale of the best sort. The characters are real, but at the same time, they’re tinged in fantasy. The whole book has a dreamy feel which sometimes made it hard to concentrate on, but it’s just wonderful the way it pulls you in.

I don’t have much to say other than to gush. I will give a bit of advice if you read it: tab the stories. Every other chapter in this book is a story from a book that a character owns. These stories are very important and are referred to throughout the story. I found that I forgot the gist of some of the stories as I read and needed to flip back frequently. When I reread, I plan to tab the stories with sticky notes so I can go back and reread them when I stumble across the references in the main narrative.

I loved the way the stories intertwined and came back. Little insignificant things become very important, and that was amazing.

The characters were great, too. My favorite was the hero, Zachary, who was romantic and searching, smart and strong, and well developed. My second favorite was Dorian, who I wish we could have gotten to know a bit better. He was a well of mysteries, and even when they were somewhat explained, there were depths there that I wish could have been explored more. But that would have added a whole other five hundred pages to the narrative, so I get why he remains shrouded.

I didn’t see the ending coming. I had no idea what the narrative thrust was until the last quarter of the book, and that was great. It kept me guessing, kept me reading, and kept me enthralled. The language was beautiful and lyrical and there were a few lines that I want to have framed just so I can read and ponder them and be inspired them daily.

YES!! If you haven’t read it yet, go get it and read it ASAP. You won’t regret it. It’s the perfect escape for right now.

WWW Wednesday | March 18, 2020

Hi everyone! I am now on living under a shelter-in-place order. I panicked yesterday, not sure what that meant, but I can still leave for food or to go outside. They specify go outside for walks, but I assume I can still run. I don’t think I can go to the beach and run, though, which I did yesterday and it felt really good. We’re supposed to avoid unnecessary driving.

Things are scary, but there’s still books and reading and writing. I’m also vlogging my experience mostly to hear myself talk and process through. If you’re interested, my channel is here.

So, enough about me. Let’s talk about what I’m reading. WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Each week, participants are asked to respond to the following questions:

What are you currently reading?\

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading

I might have to stop reading Mrs. Sherlock Holmes for a bit. It’s heavy reading and I’m not quite in the mood for that. I’ll read some today and see what I think.

Recently finished

Reading next

How’s pandemic life treating you? Any great books this week? Let me know, I’m dying for company!

Top 5 Tuesday – Authors KLMNO

Hello everyone! It’s time for Top 5 Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by Shanah at Bionic Book Worm. Each weeks, Shanah gives us a topic and participants answer with their top 5 answers in that topic. This week is authors KLMNO!

This week, I’m doing one author for each letter. I’m only doing authors on my shelf or in my Kindle and I’m going by last name. Let’s get started.

K

This one was hard because I’ve got lots of K’s on my shelf, including Brigid Kemmerer who is a new favorite author. But, in the end, I had do go with Susan Kay author of Phantom.

I know the book has its flaws and Erik is just a little too good at everything, but I love it to death. This Erik is my Erik and just adds to my love of the Phantom of the Opera.

L

For L, I have chosen Ira Levin who wrote Rosemary’s Baby. I read this many, many years ago and just fell in love. It was probably the first true horror novel I read. I still have my Nana’s copy, which is being held together by tape and a prayer. I probably shouldn’t read it again and get a new copy. But I love it.

M

Who else can I put other than Jonathan Maberry, who is my (I think) my second most read author after Rick Riordan. I almost put the first book I read by him, Patient Zero down because I thought the main character, Joe Ledger, was going to be a chauvinist pig. Turns out, he’s very sensitive and upholds feminist ideals. Plus, the books are suspenseful, horrifying, and a lot of fun.

N

I didn’t have many under the letter n, but then I realized that Ahab’s Wife was written by Sena Jeter Naslund. I read this in college and I was enchanted. Una is an amazing character and I loved her relationship with Ahab and everyone else. I haven’t read this in years, but it’s great.

O

I only have one author for O, but it’s an important one: Robert C. O’Brien, author of Mrs. Frisby and the Rat’s of NIHM. My fourth grade teacher first read this to me, and I fell in love hard. I wrote a sequel to it for her as my end of year gift (which was just a romance between Jonathan and Mrs. Frisby). I’ve read this so many times and it never grows old. It’s magica.

And that’s my list! It was a lot easier than just doing one book for each. That’s what I”m doing from now on.

Stay healthy and wash your hands!

Weekly Wrap-up | March 15, 2020

Hello from the apocalypse! This week was pretty crazy. We had parent conferences, which went well. In the past, I’ve experienced massive anxiety over conferences, but since going through intensive therapy, going on anti-anxiety drugs, and feeling like I’m actually a good teacher, it’s gotten a lot easier. The hardest part was the growing panic over COVID-19 which culminated in an after school meeting during which the principal told us that she couldn’t tell us anything officially, but she recommended that we take anything we’d want to have for the next two weeks home with us. A couple hours later, the official notice came down that our school is closed for the next two weeks. I have a feeling it will be longer, but I don’t know. The cafeteria will still be open for the kids to eat. I’ve been sending resources out to the parents over Class Dojo, but not all parents are signed up, so not everyone is getting them. I teach in a poor area, and some of the families don’t have access to the internet anyway. It’s a mess.

It’s funny: my dream is to not have to teach so I can write, but this is definitely not how I wanted it to happen. I want to have published several books, first, and then be able to leave teaching to write full time.

The positives: I’ll have time to read. I can continue watching The Untamed and I just got Disney+ so I can also watch The Mandalorian. (I’m not sure how to spell that). I just ordered weights, a yoga ball, and resistance bands so I can work out at home. Plus, I’ll continue to run, since that’s a solitary activity. I am considered vulnerable because of my asthma. I was considering going home to visit my parents, but right now, I’m afraid of picking up the virus on the way down and passing it on to my father, who has cancer and is losing weight as I type this. Probably not a great idea.

Reading wise, I didn’t get much done this week. I’m focusing on The Starless Sea, which I bought because it was due at the library and I couldn’t renew it. Of course, then the library closed and it didn’t matter anymore, but I love the book, so it’s fine. This way, I can go through and tab the stories in it so when they’re referenced, I can go back and reread them since I only vaguely recall them. Anyway. I hope to become more active on my blog again. I’ve got the time.

Tuesday: Top 5 Tuesday – Author’s F-J

Saturday: Snippet Saturday

Monday: TBD

Tuesday: Top 5 Tuesday – Authors K-O

Wednesday: WWW Wednesdasy

Thursday: TBD (probably The Starless Sea review)

Friday: TBD

Saturday: Snippet Saturday

How are you? Are you self-isolating? What are your tips to survive this? Drop a comment below and let me know!