Friday, December 27, 2013

If you’re looking for moose...

I recently had a conversation with someone and have been thinking about it off and on for most of the week. 
This person looked at something and what they saw wasn’t what was actually there.  At least, that was my perception.  It’s been weighing on my thoughts. I’ve been trying to figure out how they could look at the same exact thing I was and see something sinister, when what I saw was a message that was clearly meant to be positive and uplifting.

As usual, the world and a little bit of reflection have a way of resolving most problems. As is the case with this situation.

I was driving home from visiting with my family on Christmas Eve.  All roads between my brother’s and home are lined with heavily wooded forest.  It was dark out and a large, dark shape appeared in the tree line. 

Now, see, in Alaska we have an abundance of these large beasties that have a tendency to run out in front of fast moving vehicles.  This is especially common in the winter when it’s dark and hard to see these creatures coming, and when ice and snow make stopping quickly an unlikely prospect.

I’ve personally had one of those unlucky meetings of metal and fur.  Moose in Alaska weigh on average about half a ton and the result of the collision are always highly destructive for both parties.  Having experienced this first hand, I’m a bit hyper-aware. I typically lend extra attention to the sides of the roads and the abundance of forests that line them.

So, as it turns out, the dark shape I saw on the side of the road in the trees resolved into just that, a dark space where the trees were thin of the snow covered branches.  In other trips, large, uprooted stumps have also appeared as moose upon first glance.

The point is, when you’re looking for and expecting moose, you’ll see them, whether or not they are really there.  The same goes for sinister intentions and negativity or uplifting intentions and positivity.  If you go looking for something, you’re probably going find it.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Debt Collector Season One by Susan Kaye Quinn - Review

I recently picked up a copy of the first episode in the Debt Collector serial from season one.  It was free so I thought I'd give it chance since I'd seen up popping up in quite a few places.  I'm glad I did.

Below is my review.

Lirium is a debt collector, one of a limited percent of the population with a genetic mutation that allows them to draw the life force out of a person and contain it within themselves and then transfer it to high potentials, people who are contributing great things to society. 

The bean counters/life actuaries calculate what a person’s life span is and how much they can make in that time.  If their debt exceeds what they can pay back, they are transferred out, giving their remaining life force to those high potentials, allowing them to shine.

As a debt collector, Lirium has to live a solitary life, lest he fall into the unsavory, brutal hands of one of the three mob families in the area.  It’s a lonely, miserable life with a job that leaves holes in his very soul.  He tries to fill them with his post collection routine of alcohol and anonymous sex with one of Mistress A’s sex workers.

When he’s sold out by the same Mistress to a life hit seeker, looking not for a high but a mercy hit, he does it, but then uproots and moves to a whole new place.  Now he’s stuck living his miserable life without the ritual that helps keep him alive and sane.

The same mercy hit seeker sheds light on a terrible side of the world he believe impossible because he trusted in the system he works for, a system that is supposed to keep kids alive not kill them, no matter what.

Now that he doesn’t have half his sanity keeping routine, that only leaves alcohol and the feeling of giving a mercy hit to a dying kid.  He spirals out of control, nearly losing it.  His Psych Officer, Candy Kane Thornton sends him a mentor to help him get a grip.  Unfortunately, the mob is after the mentor and Lirium gets caught in the crossfire.  

This series is a breath of fresh air in a time when there seems to be a lot of books out there that either push the line or flat out promote questionable behavior and ethics as being okay or even good.  Sure, these types of books are fantasy, but as they are read and accepted, they slowly erode the perception of what is good and what isn’t.  

I was afraid this book might be the same, as the title and the perceived premise match other series’ out there that are.  I figured as they are short serials and Susan Kaye Quinn has a YA series she directs people to since this series has adult content, and the first of each is free that I’d download it and eventually give it a try.  I’m guilty of being a cover junky, and since this cover was done by the wonderfully talented Steven Novak (he did one of my own covers), I of course loved it and it gave a different impression than what I feared the book series might be. 

Lirium is a hero that is flawed and broken, but deeply good. He’s in a terrible situation, forced to work for the system or fall into the hands of the mob and either do far worse or die a terrible death.  He believes the line the company tells him, because he has to and has never looked to closely. But when the lie is revealed, he can’t live with it.  He falls apart and in doing so finds a reason the get it together, a reason to live.

Over the course of the nine episodes I watched Lirium grow and become the hero I knew he was, the one I saw in him in that very first episode.  He is good, actually good, not that I’m not sure if he’s the hero or not good.  I loved that about this book. It gave me someone worth rooting for and investing myself in.  Every time I was afraid he’d disappoint me, he instead surprised me with his capacity to not give up or give in to the easy way.

Every character in this series was interesting and I found myself hoping they would all turn out the way Lirium did. Even the ones that started out bad, they were heartbreaking and I loved them.
I also loved that Lirium’s influence on them helped to elevate them instead of the other way around.
I completely loved this series and cannot wait for the next season!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Come With Us – Glenn Highway

For this episode of Come With Us, I’d like to take you along with me for one of my greatest fears.

It’s dark out, darker than normal because it’s been raining and there are heavy, black clouds blotting out any hope of light or color from the sky.  There is standing water on the road and a slight wind has kicked up.  The truck passing you on the left going seventy-five is kicking up a vicious spray, which is making it even harder to see than flat out buckets of rain because it’s constant and the mist covers your windshield instantly, no matter the speed your overworked wiper blades flip back and forth at.

Sure they’ve added lights on the sides of the road, finally! But there are stretches of the thirty-plus miles that span from Anchorage to Wasilla that they didn’t put in any street lights.  Those are black as pitch and seeing past the yellow line that separates you from the wilderness is like trying to see into an ocean of the blackest ink.  Even in the areas where there are street lights, those only provide a seconds warning.

Something catches your attention, it’s reflective, glowing. Before you can ponder it, a dark shape, brown and big emerges in your periphery. A leg and then a body. You have only a second, maybe less. Not enough time to react, to save yourself, but still somehow long enough to be absolutely certain of what is about to happen.  

You are going to hit a moose. You even have time to wonder, in a horrified, detached sort of way if it’s going to come through the windshield.  If it does, will you be kicked to death in the midst of the poor creatures death throws?

And then it happens. Everything stops and at the same time speeds up.  You don’t even feel the impact, really.  The head is through the window and somehow you have long, thick, coarse hair in your mouth and you catch a glimpse of headlights beaming directly at you.  You’ve been knocked off course and are facing oncoming traffic.

The worst case scenario your brain sped up to play out for you in the milliseconds before you struck the moose has fallen far short of the mark. This is so much worse. Suddenly another thump rights you and though you have no idea how, you are pulling onto the shoulder and coming to a complete and horrified stop.  But there are no moose antlers spearing you, no legs ruthlessly kicking you through the shattered window.

You hold your breath, waiting for the moment either of those things might occur.  You’re in shock. You recognize that, as well as the fact that something is terribly wrong.  There is glass in your eyes and blood on your face.  There is hair all over the interior and every time you move you create a small avalanche of broken, tempered glass.

Still dazed,  you fumble with the door and then spill out onto the pavement.  There is a dark shape behind you on the ground some distance away.  It’s still moving, panting out heavy, slow breaths, still alive. You swallow the bile rising in your throat and blink back tears.  You don’t need to call the police because there are already several vehicles stopping and someone says they’ve made the call.

Minutes tick by and then there are flashing lights and a trooper and the shot and though you know it’s to end the poor things suffering, you still can’t help but flinch as your heart breaks a little bit more.

Now that the focus is no longer on the poor creature, you take stock of your SUV.  It’s demolished, but it’s possible angels were riding in the car with you because every spot except your door is caved in, windows smashed. Your door only has a scratch where the rearview mirror got dragged along the paint as it was ripped off.

It seems an odd thing to do, considering you are standing on the side of the road after you’ve just been in a pretty serious accident, but you say a prayer of thanks. You do this because those scenarios you played out in your head seconds before things went really bad, those aren’t just the product of your overactive imagination, those are the things others have gone through, people you know, people you’ve seen on the news.

You are one of the lucky ones.

I wrote this because tonight as I made my way home on my fifty-five mile each way commute, there was a similar scene which was and always is a shocking reminder of my mortality. Though what I wrote above was no hypothetical. I lived that experience several years back.  Having done so, as the season gets later and the light fades to darkness far too early, the fear of repeating this is a real thing, alive in my chest as I drive home in the darkness.

Living in Alaska has so many positives, but it also has its drawbacks.  The threat of striking a moose on the highway going sixty-five miles an hour is one of the bigger of them.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Come With Us. We Can Go Anywhere We Want.

Have you ever experienced that perfect feeling where you’re completely in the moment, all the stresses and worries of life fall away and you feel totally alive and free? 

For me this happens most often when I’m listening to music, usually while writing or being inspired to write, but it can happen any time.  Watching a movie and feeling the emotions of the moment. Reading a book. Running. Surfing a wave... Wherever is that place for you.

I often feel transported by these moments to another world or another time. Maybe to a previous perfect moment. Many times I go to a point a few years ago when I was walking from the bus station to work in the snow, early in the morning when the world is silent and everything is white and fresh and new, untouched by anything. Trees covered in hoar frost, turning them sparkly and magical.  Wearing my headphones which keeps me in the world but feeling separate. Big, perfect flakes the size of half dollars falling down around me.

 (If you don’t have quite as vivid an imagination as me, or you just want to see a picture of a similar experience – check out the Let it snow post – to the right it’s the second one under most popular posts.)

The awe I felt on that day, my own perfect corner of the world was burned into my mind, my memory, my history. It’s a beacon that often helps to keep me going when things aren’t so perfect and not so full of wonderment.

Sometimes those places, those worlds, those moments aren’t even really real, but places I’ve created in my imagination either while writing or while reading about worlds another author has dreamed up.
If you follow this blog you might know that I love finding new music. Finding a good, new song can feel like the perfect moment.  Even better when you find a good, new artist. Awhile back I happened upon one of those amazing artists, Lindsey Sterling.  I LOVE her music. I LOVE violin music. Her music combines violins with all different kinds of music.

One of those collaborations is Come With Us featuring Can’t Stop Won’t Stop.  I’m not typically a fan of rap, but it’s not your typical rap either. There is singing, rap and violin which combined equals a total win! for my ears.

When I listen to this song I have many of those moments when I feel completely alive and free. Which is good, because the message of the song, at least to me, is about that exact thing.

The chorus sings:

Come with us. Come with us. We can go anywhere tonight. We can go anywhere tonight.
Just gotta come with us.

Come with us. Come with us. We can do anything we want. We can do anything we want.
Just gotta come with us.

Often times when I listen to this song, I feel inspired. Story ideas bubble up in my head, but also the idea for a blog series titled: Come With Us.  It doesn’t have to be big or busy, but any of those perfect moment, or perfect world that I have, you have to be shared as I did above and allow others to Come With Us.

This is a series I’m going to start. And I’m resolving to try and keep it going regularly. Committing to a post at least once a month.  Please feel free to share your moments and allow us to come with you, or simply just come along and enjoy the ride.

Saturday, June 1, 2013


I need help!?!  I have recently read a couple of really good books that involve angels, and I am sort of on a crave now.  But I don’t want your typical, fallen angel saved by the love of a good, adorable teen/woman/man whatever.

I want books that will awe me, will introduce me to a whole new world or new way of looking at the old one.  Some examples of what I’m looking for are:

Uprising by Dawn Jayne

This is probably the most amazing, unique, cool take on angels that I’ve ever read. I am completely in love this book and cannot wait for the next one!  It’s hard to say much about this book once you’ve read it, without giving anything away.  I will say that I’d really like one of the black choir for my very own. :D

 Angelfall by Susan Ee

This is another very unique take on angels.  Their aren’t your typical, cute, cuddly spiritual beings.  These are more the avenging, tear down the world type creatures.  I was completely lost, sucked head first into Penryn’s post-apocalypse world.  I had this book sitting in my kindle app for almost a year, without knowing what I was missing out on.  Now I’m desperate for Susan Ee to release the second one already.

Daughter of Smoke & Bone and  Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor

I LOVE these books.  Laini Taylor has also created a unique world where the war between angels and demons is both close and very far from the one we’ve been taught in Sunday school.  Angels are again not sweet and cuddly, they are possibly more frightening than the ones in Angelfall.  Vengeful creatures who have wages a war for millennia against the Chimeria whose appearance could easily spawn the feared naming of demon. The world Laini Taylor created is one that makes it very hard to want to rejoin the real one when finishing reading the books, so beautiful and tragic, full of magic and doomed lovers.  Just writing this makes me ache for the third in the series to hurry up and come out.

Sweet Evil and Sweet Peril by Wendy Higgins

These books were an unexpected, pleasant surprise.  The cover and the synopsis don’t do the books justice.  From both, I got the impression they were going to be very much like the typical YA new boy at school/rocker hottie type books, but they aren’t.  They have depth and heart.  Wendy Higgins has created a very unique world in which Nephilim are the offspring of both angels and demons.  I love the whole Nephilim mythos and she took it to a unique and brilliant place.

And I’d be very remiss if I left out one of my favorite series’.  

The Mortal Instrument Series by Cassandra Clare, and the prequel series The Infernal Devices.

This great series has it all though, not just the coolest take on Nephilim as demon dispatching Shadow Hunters, but it also has fairies, werewolves, vampires and warlocks.  Not to mention some creepy other things like the City of Bones and the Silent Brothers.  Soon to be released major motion picture. (Can't wait - though I'm a little unhappy about casting choice for Jace - one of my all time favorite male characters.)

(This cover is new and beautiful so I used it, but the original cover is what pulled me in. Jace's naked chest, swirled with the Marks that Shadowhunters use. It's beautiful.)

What I need from you is some suggestions/recommendations. If you've read an amazing novel about angels or nephilim or even demons. Please share them here or find me on GoodReads and leave me a recommendation there.  I can't enough right now.


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Monica Millard's books on Goodreads
Children of the Gods Children of the Gods (Chosen, #1)
reviews: 34
ratings: 44 (avg rating 3.91)

Chosen - A Children of the Gods Short Story Chosen - A Children of the Gods Short Story
reviews: 4
ratings: 17 (avg rating 3.47)

The Fall The Fall
reviews: 7
ratings: 6 (avg rating 4.83)

Monica's bookshelf: read

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
Blood and Feathers
The Rithmatist
Forbidden Blood
Last Blood
Out for Blood
Bad Blood
Flesh and Blood
Blood Rights
Girl Parts

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