Children are terrifying.

(scene opens in early morning dinning room)

Me: (bleary, drinking coffee, scrolling Tumblr)

Delta: (bright eyed runs over, reads over shoulder)

Laptop:

Delta: (reading out loud) The nowe…

Me: Novel. It’s a type of book.

Delta: (reads it out loud correctly) What makes him think he’s going to live another three years?

Me: (side eye) That was a little dark.

Delta: (grins kisses Carrot, runs off)

(image stolen from Write-On-World)

Worth it.

(scene opens in mini van)

Me: Everyone get your belts on. OH! That reminds me, I found a new playlist for the car.

(picks up phone, begins to fiddle)

Beta: (skeptically) Is it kid friendly?

Me: (smug) Yep.

Beta: A kid friendly list that you like? This can’t be good.

(Carrot begins to drive and a cover of Danzig’s “Mother” begins to play)

Beta: (stunned) What the hell is this? Alpha? Are you seeing this? It’s a playlist in Klingon. We’re listening to Klingon pop music!

Alpha: (unconcerned) You think this is the weirdest thing she’s ever done?

Me: (giggling madly)

Beta: (appalled) You know, just because it’s in Klingon doesn’t mean that it’s kid appropriate.

Me: They’re covers of 80s music. Its unlikely there’s any swears in there.

Beta: Klingons don’t swear?

Me: Oh, I’m sure they do. But I don’t know if there’s a Klingon version of “F you, you F’ing F”. I think they’d just insult your honor or say something like “Your starship is a garbage scow.”

Delta: (righteously) That is very rude.

Me: Yes, that is very rude.

(music cues up cover of “We’re Not Going to Take it“)

Beta: (wearily) Turn this off please.

(Carrot laughs maniacally, fade to black, cut to car commercial)

Black like my soul.

Look. I can’t be funny all the time.

I can’t even poke my kids and say “Hey, do something funny.”

Okay, I can poke Beta and he’ll step up to the plate, but sometimes translation is hard and you can’t distill the funny into a cut-scene. So today we do shameless promotion.

(cue trumpet fanfare)

BEHOLD SHAMELESS PROMOTION!

Today’s beloved topic is the coffee.

Oh, that magical brew that allows me to be functional against my natural circadian rhythm and the demands of children who apparently do not have circadian rhythms and do not respect the circadian rhythms of others. The brand I propose to you today is the Perle Noire.

(linky goes not to the Amazonian empire and I am not being paid for this review)

The bag was a birthday gift from my sister-in-law, who understands my love of coffee. She also understands that Mama Ain’t Proud(tm) and I will drink whatever coffee is on hand. Because I am just grateful to have coffee. Because its hard to justify the really expensive coffee when I have a pack of feral chimps in my house who’ll eat two dozen hardboiled eggs in less than a day.

There’s my self-slam. I’m cheaper than eggs.

Thus I am gifted the Expensive Coffee. Because when you’re all grown up, its the expensive treats that really get you excited.

Anyway – I cannot tell you in pretentious wine terms about “hints of oak” or “a chocolate finish”. I have not that refined a palate (see again, Mama Ain’t Proud(tm)) But it is smooth. So smooth. Like they took out that bitter sucker punch of your first morning’s hit and replaced it with unicorns and rainbows. I suppose it must be mentioned that I drink my coffee black. Black black blackity black. No sugar. No cream. Nothing. Just me, hot water, and the sacred almighty bean to whom I pledge life and loyalty.

There is nothing to stand between me and whatever the Coffee Gods decide to put in my mug in the morning and so I must taste its full savage judgement.

And Perle Noire loves me. It says to me “Child, life is hard. You’re going to need this. Godspeed.” And I say, “Thank you, Perle Noir. Without you, my life is meaningless.”

Even the smell is smooth. Everything about Perle Noire is dark and silky and full of love. You want Perle Noir. Trust me.

Carrot’s Book Review: Undead and Lost

Comedy Central What GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

That seems a good place to start.

Hello fellow book nerds. Carrot here to review Nona the Ninth, yet another installment of those loveable yet incomprehensible space necromancer. Again, not paid to review and linky goes to not the Amazonian Empire.

Gee, what to say about Nona?

Allow me to hasten to reassure you, oh less-than-gentle readers, it was good. I’m invested in the character, even though I wasn’t entirely sure who was who, and what was what, even though some of the names were familiar. Maybe it would have all be way more clear who was who if I had been listening to it rather than read it (go me, read a whole grown up book!) and I could take cues on just the voices of the reader. Some of the characters not only were playing a new role in this novel, but I think were also going by code names. Like maybe Coronabeth was going by Crown this time around? For reasons, I’m sure, but for reasons I’ve not exactly figured out.

Okay, so, there’s still an epic war and there’s still hard science in some of the necromantic excitement. It does detail – in a somewhat round about flash-backy kind of way – how the Emperor Undying and his necromantic legion even came into existence. I feel like a second read might help me understand better, but the part I did grok was kind of depressing. Let’s just say that some of the motivation in become necromancers are currently in play with our current eco/political/environmental conundrums. That bit of existential gloom has a back-up dancer in the form of the characters in ‘current day’ on a world under siege by something and in a civil war on the ground and people being shot in the streets or rounded up by gov’ment types. Or maybe freedom fighter types. I’m not really sure where the line was or even who the good guys were. Are we cheering for Blood of Eden or are we cheering for the Nine Houses? What even is the Blood of Eden and why the hell are they called Blood of Eden?

I won’t lie, book nerds, if you told me that I had gone to Burning Man and hallucinated the whole thing after too long in the desert, I’d totally believe you. Nona the Ninth is one big fever dream and I fully expected to get to the end and have the whole “then they woke up” explanation chapter. Nope. Prepare your shocked faces, I don’t feel like the ending was an ending all, just another “Same bat time, same bat channel!” where you turn the last page and wonder if you’re going to spend eternity just trying to get your brain on straight.

But. It. Is. So. God. Damn. Compelling.

There is no clear or easy answer on why that is. I cannot tell you what kept me reading or what brought me back after the fever dream that was Harrow the Ninth. It seems that I am committed to this necromantic cause and to follow the Emperor Undying. Also, I am determined to find out what is in the Locked Tomb, of which teases you along. All answers reside there, it seems, both for the Nine Houses and for those of us caught in their wake and and confused as hell.

I can only attribute it to the well crafted characters and the compelling world in which they reside. If you made it as far as Harrow, just jump right into Nona. There is no going back for us, there is only forward.

Boogey Down

(scene opens in mini-van)

Alpha: What day is it?

Me: September 21st.

Alpha: Happy Wind, Earth, Fire day.

Me: Wut? I have no idea what you’re talking about.

Alpha: The song! Here, I’ll play it. (picks up phone, connects it to van’s stereo)

(Carrot does a quick glance at the screen and sees Earth, Wind & Fire’s “September”)

Me: OH! I remember this song. Yeah, okay. I get it now.

Alpha: (surprised) You know this song?

Me: Yeah. It was popular recently. It was on the Troll’s soundtrack.

Alpha: But that was like nine years ago.

Me: Honey, hate to break it to you, but its way older than that. I remember being a little kid in the car with my dad and singing it. Use the technology and see what year it came out.

(Alpha fiddles with his phone)

Alpha: Woah. It came out in….1978?

Me: Yes. For reference, your Uncle J was born that year. I’m six years older than this song.

Alpha: Wow. That’s really old music.

Me: (says nothing)

Carrot’s Book Review: WTF Undead Edition

Editor’s note: Am not being paid to review and linky goes to not the Amazonian empire.

So, class. You might remember my love of necromancers, and so I finally got around to Harrow the Ninth, sequel to Gideon the Ninth.

Listening, more like. My brain has been scatter shot of late and I can’t keep my eyes on the printed word for very long, skimming like I was trying to cram before a college final. Audio books are rarely an option for me as I cannot stand most voices. I have finally found myself another audio reader that I can stand (still can count them all on one hand) and settled in for some embroidery and listening. Thank you Moira Quirk.

We shall begin. Ahem.

Whiskey.

Tango.

Foxtrot.

I had so much no-damn-clue what was going on, I checked out the first audio book for a re-listen to help me get fresher base for whatever insane bit of storytelling architecture I was subjecting myself. By the way, Sassomancers get +3 to everything when voiced in snotty English accents. The kids kept interrupting me wanting to know what I was laughing at.

While I had a better understanding of Gideon’s tale of WTF, I still had no idea what was going on with Harrow’s WTF. It didn’t mean the story wasn’t interesting, it just had less Sassomancy than the first book. I’m not even sure how to describe what was going on without giving exceptional spoilers. We do get introduced to the Undying Emperor. Some space travel. Some space bees.

I’m not kidding. Space bees. You know you want to read it now just for that.

Again, there’s some hard science to the necromancy but still no damn explanation on how the Emperor Undying became undying and no damn explanation on why they’re at war or who they’re at war with! There were times I had to stop to consider that maybe this story was being told by the baddies perpetuating a terrible and unjust conflict. It didn’t make any more sense of the tale I was being told.

Harrow’s strange little trip does get some resolution by the end. Most of her crazy little drama is made clear, but in the process of unveiling that madness, it just gives you another crate of WTF and isn’t even shy about the cliff hanger it gives you.

Bastards.

So, just the fact I listened to it on loop to make sure the WTF portion of this novel wasn’t 100% a user error (constant familial interruptions likely contributed) should be factored into the entertainment the book provided based on my Stargate Theory*. The characters were interesting, the mystery compelling, I’m dying to find out the rest of the world and the universe and am still holding out that I will have that itch scratched sooner rather than later. I suppose I need to find out if Ms. Quirk read the rest of them and hope that giving them a listen will make All Thing Clear(tm).

Still no clever undead ratings, so I’ll give it another four outta five stars just for the brain game it played with me.

Carrot’s Stargate Theory: Back when Stargate hit the theater, a knot of us nerds went to see it and debated the merits – or lack thereof – for well into the evening. Someone pointed out that we talked about the movie longer than the movie’s actual run time. It was postulated that any movie that could make you discuss it for that long was de facto a good movie.

Ergo, the fact that a completely incomprehensible book was interesting enough in its confusion to get you to hit repeat for a second ride meant that it was good.

The mighty hunter returns.

(scene opens in bright summer parlor, Jethro Tull loud on the speakers)

Me: (at embroidery frame singing heartily) Ring out those solstice bells! Ring out….

Alpha: (off screen and with terror) MOM!

(Carrot leaps up and heads to basement, cut scene to top of the stairs)

(Alpha looks up helplessly, Epsilon noses something suspicious on the floor, manages a doggy smug)

Me: (exasperated) Alpha, its just poop. If you guys walked him more this wouldn’t…

Alpha: (tremulously) Mom. It’s not poop.

(Carrot descends stairs for better look)

Carrot’s Inner Voice: Please, oh god, don’t be a rat.

Carrot: Looks a little big to be a mouse, and there’s no tail. (gets closer, sighs gently) Oh honey, its a baby rabbit. A very baby rabbit.

Epsilon: (wags tail and pants smugly)

Alpha: (tearfully) Is it dead?

(Carrot picks up small animal, wet and slick and black. It kicks slightly)

Alpha: (jumps) It’s not dead!

Carrot: Well, this makes things a little more complicated.

Editor’s Note: Said baby appears to have been claimed. Given the cruelty of Mother Nature, we are continuing to believe that said baby was claimed by the mama.

Life Advice, Not Beer Commercial

(scene opens in frosty min-van)

Gamma: Mom, what’s 6th grade like?

Me: Oh. Well, my 6th grade was part of the Jr. High building and so we’d swap classrooms with 7th and 8th graders for different classes. Like for science or math…

Gamma: (interrupting) No, I mean the social part. Like popular kids and stuff.

Me: I hate to break it to you, but I wasn’t a popular kid.

Gamma: That much was obvious.

Me: Ouch, that hurts. (thinks) Okay, well, what’s the point of being popular?

Gamma: To have a lot of friends.

Me: Fair. But sometimes people are friends with you only because you’re popular. By whatever metric they’re using to scale that. If you stop being popular, they’ll find someone else to be friends with.

Gamma: Oh.

Me: In 7th grade, I realized I would never be the prettiest, or the smartest, or the tallest, strongest, fastest, most talented at anything. There would always be someone who was any or all of those things better than me. So I decided then and there to be the most interesting. If I was the most interesting person in the room, people would want to hang out with me. So. Read a lot of books. Listen to a lot of music –

Gamma: (interrupts) Got that covered.

Me: Learn a wide variety of strange and random skills that serve no real purpose save that you want to learn how to do it. Constantly make people amazed at your unexpected know-how on something. Trust me, it is way more fun to be interesting than it is to be popular. Popularity is fleeting. Interesting is forever.

(mini van pulls into drop off)

Me: Okay kids! (starts to sing) Have the best day ever!

Gamma: Please don’t.

A little called out there.

(scene opens in cluttered dinning room, merit badge work in progress)

Carrot: (typing around Delta in her lap) Okay, requirement #2b says you have to pick a book of a “best of” list that you think you’d like to read and write it down.

Beta: (unenthused)

Carrot: (after the third list heavy on the “Live, Laugh, Love” bullshit) Wow, its a lot harder than I thought to find something to read.

Beta: Try narrowing it down to just best science-fiction of 2021.

Carrot: Here we go. (starts to scroll, points to the screen) Read that one. Don’t recommend. Oh! I read the first one of this series! (camera cuts to screen, showing Harrow the Ninth)

Beta: (skeptical)

Carrot: Stay with me. It’s got a very Warhammer 40k setting.

Beta: (skeptically interested) …..yeah?

Carrot: And everyone has a different flavor of necromancy.

Beta: (explodes) What is it with you and necromancers!? First its necromancer vampires! Then its necromancer space marines! (waves arms in Muppet flail) Look over there! Necromancer ponies!

Carrot: (loses it completely, laughs copious fat tears into Delta’s moppy blond curls)

Beta: Seriously. What the hell is wrong with you?

Delta (echoing) Yeah mom! What’s wrong with you?

(Carrot laughs until it hurts, fade to black, cut to car commercial)

Carrot’s Book Review: Crime Pays

Since it was a duology, I figured I’d finish both books before I said anything.

Here we revisit the Grishaverse with Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom.

(Ed. note: I was not paid for this review and for all those that wish to avoid the Amazonian empire, links connect to an independent bookstore)

Loved! It!

It follows the heist and tribulations of a group of thieves and con-men. If you’d seen the Shadow & Bone tv show on Netflix, we’re talking about Brekker, Inej, and Jasper. I might have mentioned before that the show and books deviate a great deal by combining characters/plots, making them all one big story arc rather than separate one (there’s a duology after this one with another charcter years after the Sun Summoner drama).

I do speculate, however, with how the first season of the show ended and how Nina and her Fjerdian boyfriend came to questionable ends, I suspect that the meat of these books are what will be on the plate for our loveable thieves in the next season.

But moving on. I really love Brekker. Love me some cold and highly competent crime bosses. Thanks to having watched the show first, I envisioned the actors rather than my brain creating them from nothing. I’m not entirely sure I could see that much competence in a gang of teenagers, but then I never had to hone my wits and my skill to survive an uncaring underworld that’d chew you up and spit you out the first chance they’d get.

It was also better written, I think, than the Shadow & Bone trilogy. Ms. Bardugo upped her game. Mad props.

Even better? There was an accidental necromancer! We’ve already discussed how much I love necromancers. So it was like I got my cake and ate it too. I really hope that if there are any more novels set in this world, we get some more Brekker, Inej, and Jasper. They are really the best thing about the Grishaverse.

Except maybe the coats. I’d love a kefta.

Giving these books a Double the Pleasure.

Shameless Promotion: Ridiculous edition

Its been a while since I’ve shared my oh-so important thoughts about anything, but you really need to see this.

That, my dear readers, is Duke Cannon’s Offensively Large Sunscreen Lip Balm. Don’t be surprised when I tell you…it is offensively big. I can’t tell if I feel like a tiny little child playing with mommy’s lipstick or if I mistakenly grabbed Delta’s glue stick. It does give good coverage. At a mild SPF 30, I feel like I could easily hit my cheekbones and nose in an extra swipe it’s so large.

Okay, backtrack a bit. I am not receiving any goods nor monetary inducement to give this review, just the hilarity in my black little heart.

It smells a little minty but it doesn’t burn the mouth the way menthol related medicated lip balm does. Once I get used to the feeling of putting on clown makeup, I think I’m gonna love it. Also, way harder to lose when its that damn big. Takes up almost the entirety of my girl pockets. I’m giving this a: Worth the Extra Cargo Space.

Continuing on this shameless promotion: The reason I ended up this monstrosity is because I was hunting a replacement jar of Bloody Knuckles Hand Repair Balm. I got a jar for Husband a while back, for he dislikes scented things. Lotions tend to be on the perfumed side and few of them are acceptable, even to for me. It is a scentless lotion that is super creamy and does not leave the hands gross and oily and slick and slimy. Or all of them. And it works really well. Trust me, I’ve got dragon skin. This gets a: No Joke, You Need Some.

Yes, yes, the entire site is Hyper Masculine Marketing. Men can’t have lip balm, they must have tactical lip balm! They don’t use soap, they use Thick Ass Soap! (which I did get myself, but have yet to use) But something deep inside of me tells me that they don’t actually believe their over the top testosterone laden product blurbs. Its part of the joke?

As a final bit of review, I got myself some solid cologne. Yes. For me. It smells of vetiver and oakmoss and now you know what they used to make English Leather cologne (for those of you old enough to have fathers that wore such a thing). One does not buy perfume/cologne without knowing the preferences of the recipient, so I was unwilling to order for any of my stinky boys. So I will share, if they are inclined to be headed into the world of Manly Smells(tm). Meanwhile, I get to smell like a forest god. It’s quite intimidating. And this is a rather large solid tin, so it’s going to last me quite a while. This is rated: Maybe Too Much

Husband is going to love that.

Sins of the Father

(scene opens in mini-van)

Me: Its your sister’s birthday today.

Beta: Its also Wolfenoot.

Me: It is. So, I heard of a lovely Wolfenoot tradition from a friend of mine, H the Bard*. You hide gifts around the house and play “Hungry Like the Wolf” on repeat until everyone finds a gift.

Beta: Sounds fun. We should do that.

Me: Except that your father hates Duran Duran.

Beta: Huh. I should take forever to find a gift then. Just put it under my chair and sit there going “I wonder where it could be?” while he stands in front of me going “It’s right there!”.

Me: (starts laughing) You’re a terrible child.

Beta: (pleased) I wonder where I get it from.

(*Names blurred out to protect the guilty, but not very well.)