Another Potter Novel? JK Rowling Says, 'Maybe'

Harry Potter #7So if you haven’t heard, JK Rowling has said that she occasionally gets “weak” enough to say yes to an eighth Harry Potter novel. She says, however, that any further novels set in the world of Diagon Alley et al would not focus on Harry himself. Small miracles happen every day, I guess.

The author in me is half in awe and half bitter at the news. On one hand, it is very rare for a writer to be able to earn so much money on their work. I would be tempted to milk that popularity for all it’s worth too. On the other more acrimonious hand, JK Rowling is a freaking millionaire already. She doesn’t need it. Maybe she could– I don’t know… Pass off the torch to another fantasy author who might actually need to pay the rent? (Ms. Rowling, please keep in mind that if you do decide to pass off that torch, I’m available.)

The avid reader in me is torn as well on this news. I’d thought the series over and done. Things were all wrapped up neatly with a pretty little bow. I’d let go. I had moved on. To hear there may be more… Well, that is both blessing and curse. I was never overly fond of the Harry Potter craze anyway, despite being fond of the books themselves. As a matter of fact, I read the first few books only at great reluctance and only because so many people I knew loved them so well.

In any case, Rowling has said to “give it ten years” and so there may not be any additional news soon. But you never know. I’m sure the speculation at least will be entertaining.

Another Potter Novel? JK Rowling Says, ‘Maybe’

Harry Potter #7So if you haven’t heard, JK Rowling has said that she occasionally gets “weak” enough to say yes to an eighth Harry Potter novel. She says, however, that any further novels set in the world of Diagon Alley et al would not focus on Harry himself. Small miracles happen every day, I guess.

The author in me is half in awe and half bitter at the news. On one hand, it is very rare for a writer to be able to earn so much money on their work. I would be tempted to milk that popularity for all it’s worth too. On the other more acrimonious hand, JK Rowling is a freaking millionaire already. She doesn’t need it. Maybe she could– I don’t know… Pass off the torch to another fantasy author who might actually need to pay the rent? (Ms. Rowling, please keep in mind that if you do decide to pass off that torch, I’m available.)

The avid reader in me is torn as well on this news. I’d thought the series over and done. Things were all wrapped up neatly with a pretty little bow. I’d let go. I had moved on. To hear there may be more… Well, that is both blessing and curse. I was never overly fond of the Harry Potter craze anyway, despite being fond of the books themselves. As a matter of fact, I read the first few books only at great reluctance and only because so many people I knew loved them so well.

In any case, Rowling has said to “give it ten years” and so there may not be any additional news soon. But you never know. I’m sure the speculation at least will be entertaining.

Book Review: Punching In by Alex Frankel

The author of this book has previously written for Wired and The New York Times. When I received this book as an advance copy, I was thrilled at the chance to read it. I spent nearly a decade in the customer service trenches, as a manager of a fast food restaurant. And although Frankel steered clear of such low-wage jobs as those, I was still excited to see a learned interpretation of the life that many Americans lead.

Punching In CoverFor the past six years, I’ve been a member of corporate America and I have been offered a glass of the ‘company Kool-Aid’ many times in my career. I don’t see myself as a gullible person. I am a cynic, and therefore I was intrigued by the thought that someone had actually researched how companies reach out and turn their employees into dedicated converts.

I must admit that the glimpse into the different worlds was interesting, and I could tell from Frankel’s writing that he had overall enjoyed his foray into the behind-the-counter aspect of commerce. However, there was an overlay upon some points in the retelling of the author’s experiences that smelled patronizing to me.

In this book, Frankel has bared the backbone of our country: the customer service employees who are nearly overlooked in their unobtrusiveness every single day of the year. These are the people that get the small but important things done. They deserve more reverence than to be reduced to some high school science experiment. I’m willing to believe I’m being overly sensitive on that point, however, so I’ll let it go.

Overall, the narrative was mildly interesting and the language was elegant. However, I expected more insights into the different companies than were offered in these pages. Each company philosophy was presented only briefly and then the author went on to complain of how long and hard the hours were. All I could think was, well what did he expect? It just felt like there should be more to the story than that.

Final conclusion: An enjoyable read; and I’m suitably thankful that I was chosen to review this book. If you’re in HR or corporate management, I would recommend it.

[xrr rating=1.5/5]

Things To Look Forward To

Schedule of Releases:

June 5, 2007The Harlequin, Laurell K Hamilton (book)
June 5, 2007Eat Me, Drink Me – Marilyn Manson (album)
June 14, 2007Kushiel’s Justice – Jacqueline Carey (book)
July 21, 2007Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling (book)
August 28, 2007Elves of Cintra by Terry Brooks (book)
September 25, 2007Empire of Ivory by Naomi Novik (book)
November 6, 2007Host by Faith Hunter (book)
November, 2007Holidays Are Hell – Anthology including Kim Harrison (book)
November 13, 2007Confessor by Terry Goodkind (book)
February 2008 – Dark Wraith of Shannara by Terry Brooks (a Graphic Novel illustrated by Edwin David and adapted by Robert Place Napton)
March 2008The Outlaw Demon Wails by Kim Harrison (book)

Review: The Serpent Bride by Sara Douglass

Ever since the first Wayfarer Redemption trilogy, when Axis lied to, betrayed and abandoned Faraday, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with the work of Sara Douglass. As in life, Ms. Douglass’ characters are rarely either wholly good or evil. From Axis, Starman and former StarGod, hero of the first three books* who did his own share of nasty things; to Gorgrael, Axis’ twisted half-brother and the original villain of the story, who while evil was clearly shaped by the desperate loneliness of being outcast and disfigured.

*The story is published differently in Ms. Douglass’ home of Australia than it is here in the US. As I am unfamiliar with the Aussie version of things, I refer only to the US versions. The original ‘trilogy’ of The Wayfarer’s Redemption, Enchanter, and Starman; followed by the subsequent ‘trilogy’ of Sinner, Pilgrim, and Crusader. All six books have been dubbed “The Wayfarer’s Redemption” series here in the US.

Continue reading “Review: The Serpent Bride by Sara Douglass”

Review: Kim Harrison For A Few Demons More

I apologize excessively for the delay in getting this review together. I’ve had a busy week at work; but not only that. I needed more than a few days to process this book, to roll it over in my mind like hard toffee and to, well, grieve.

Warning: This review may contain spoilers for books 1-4, though I will be marking spoilers for book 5. Please note that comments may also include spoilers and I cannot be responsible for the etiquette, or lack thereof, of my readers.

For A Few Demons More (further known here as FFDM) is, by no small measure, Ms. Harrison’s best novel yet. Of course, each subsequent work since Dead Witch Walking has improved. FFDM is the fifth book in the series that, while without an official title, has come to be called “The Hollows Series” or “The Rachel Morgan series”.

A History Of The Hollows

The Hollows-verse, as it has come to be called, resembles our own world very closely except for a few fine points. First, the ‘space race’ never existed. Both scientific research and money were instead devoted to genetic research. By the mid-1960’s, science had created cures for genetic diseases that we still haven’t in our own world. In 1966, a world-wide disaster called the Turn began.

A biological weapon escaped from a laboratory somewhere in the world and latched onto a weak spot in the DNA of a genetically engineered tomato. Before the slip was caught, the tomatoes had been shipped throughout the world and hundreds of thousands of humans perished. Eventually, people came to realize that certain kinds of people were getting nothing more than a mild case of flu, if any symptoms at all. Human curiosity and a charismatic Inderlander* finally outlined the truth.

Most of those ‘fairy tales’ we’d been told as children? They were real. Species that were completely unaffected by the virus: witches, pixies, fairies, and the undead. The weres, living vampires, and leprechauns developed a mild case of the flu. The elves, having interbred with humans a little too closely to bolster their sagging numbers, disappeared. Oops. I guess that plan backfired, huh?

Since a large number of humans perished, it was the Inderlanders (*The term for non-human species.) that held the world together while it was in the midst of it’s death throes. When the dust settled, the numbers were even. Rather than draw battle lines against creatures that could obliterate the rest of the population, humans instead took their retribution out on geneticists and other scientists. It was a Scientific Inquisition.

As such, genetic research is now outlawed and punishable by death. Subsequently, tomatoes are also shunned by humans and tomato-based products can only be obtained commercially through specialty stores. The only product to survive the purge was Cincinnati-style chili. I can understand that. It’s damn good, after all. I’d risk death to eat it, too.

Where Is The Hollows?

The Hollows is a slang term for an area located across the Ohio River from the city of Cincinnati. When the Turn ended, most humans flocked to the inner cities for a sense of safety. Naturally, most Inderlanders then moved to the suburbs and countryside, since real estate there became cheap in a big hurry. The Hollows is Cincinnati’s main Inderlander suburb. It’s also where our heroine, Rachel, resides.

The Main Players

Rachel Morgan:

  • Species: Witch
  • Born: 1981
  • Treated for an unnamed genetic disease as a child at a summer camp for sick children. This fact is kept a secret, as genetic research is illegal; and anyone having been subject to genetic medicine is either killed or shipped off to the arctic.
  • Resigned from the IS in book 1 and was one of the only people to have survived the death threat put out on her life for not buying off her contract.

Ivy Tamwood:

  • Species: Living Vampire and only remaining (living) heir to the Tamwood family.
  • Born: 1979
  • Subjected to a brutalization of her sense of love and self-worth as a teenager by family patriarch, and undead vamp, Piscary; when we first meet Ivy she is in the midst of a 3 year blood abstinence.
  • Quit the IS with Rachel and used most of her early inheritance to pay off her contract.
  • Resides with Rachel in a church in the Hollows, from which they operate their independent runner business: Vampiric Charms.

Jenks:

  • Species: Pixie
  • Born: unknown
  • Third member of Vampiric Charms
  • He, his wife Matalina, and their 30-odd children all live in Rachel’s garden behind the church.
  • Coming to the end of a pixie’s typical 20 year life span.

Kisten Felps:

  • Species: Living Vamp
  • Born: 1980
  • Ivy’s childhood companion (and once-upon a time, her lover as well).
  • Member of Piscary’s camarilla.
  • Manager of Pizza Piscary’s, a popular Inderland restaurant that serves pizza with real tomato-based sauce.

Trent Kalamack:

  • Species: Elf
  • Born: 1979
  • Councilman of Cincinnati & popular philanthropist.
  • Runs several successful legitimate businesses, as well as an illegal Brimstone ring, and an even more illegal network of genetic laboratories.
  • Has a goal of getting Rachel to work for him and has been manipulating her toward that end since the beginning.
  • Scheduled to marry Ellasbeth, another elf, during FFDM— not for love, but for political and genetic reasons.

Ceridwen Dulciate (Ceri):

  • Species: Elf
  • Born: Pre-Turn, over 1,000 year ago. Exact date unknown.
  • Rescued by Rachel from over 1,000 years of being a demon’s familiar.
  • Extremely well-versed in demon magic and able to twist demon curses, although she doesn’t have the correct enzymes to invoke them.
  • Currently living across the street from Rachel, with Mr. Keasley.

Mr. Keasley:

  • Species: witch
  • Born: unknown
  • Rachel’s mysterious neighbor from across the street.
  • Took in Ceri when she was rescued.
  • Suspicous of authority figures, and as such, keeps medical equipment in his home.

About FFDM

(Here be spoilers. Beware.)

Continue reading “Review: Kim Harrison For A Few Demons More”

Review: The Scent of Shadows – Vicki Pettersson

This is a book review for The Scent of Shadows by Vicki Pettersson.

The Scent of Shadows is The First Sign of the Zodiac. So it’s proclaimed on the cover of this newly released paperback. Yet this description only barely begins to hint at the depth of this tome of ‘dark fantasy’- categorized so by the author herself. The stage is set in Las Vegas, a city built on paradox, or so it seems. Not only is there the contrast of neon glowing excess to the stark barrenness of desert; but there is also the intertwined but parallel worlds of human and paranormal.

Joanna Archer should by all rights be dead. Attacked, raped, and left for dead in the desert when she was 16 years old, she’s grown to become a strong, yet brittle woman. A reluctant heiress by day and a photographer by night, she spends her time searching the streets of her beloved hometown of Las Vegas. Whether she’s searching for her attacker, who was never found, or for her own lost innocence, it’s hard to say at first.

Recruited by a homeless vagrant who is far more than he seems, Joanna is initiated into a world of paranormal ‘superheroes’. They are crusaders: living in this world but not truly of it. The group consists of the human embodiment of the twelve Zodiac signs. They have been tasked with the burden of both fighting off and protecting the world from the Shadow Signs, their polar opposites and a source of great evil.

Despite (or maybe because of) spending the first half of the book almost thoroughly confused, I was enraptured by this world. In fact, I finished it in just over a day and that was with a break of an entire evening. Why did I take a break from reading if the story captured me so? Simply because I didn’t want it to end so soon.

Every page of this novel drew me deeper. I’ve never been to Las Vegas, so even the normal sights and sounds of that city were new to me. You can tell that not only has the author spent a vast amount of time there, but she loves it as well. That, above all, is what shines through the pages. And there’s more.

Much more.

It’s taken me a couple of hours at least to being to process the underlying themes involved in this book. I’ve become accustomed to not having to think too hard when I read. Perhaps that’s a fault of my own, but Ms. Pettersson has certainly forced me to begin to do so again. Yes, there are all the action elements which make a good paranormal story: heightened speed and strength, unique abilities, flashy weapons, ‘magic’ storms, and portals to another world.

What makes this book so unique, I think, is the thought behind it. Without any paranormal elements at all, this is an intriguing read. Here we have a woman who was brutalized as a child, carrying all of the shame, frustration, rage, and determination to no longer be a victim that you would expect. She refuses to be seen as soft or too womanly, since those are traits she associates with weakness. Ironically enough, these are the same traits her beloved sister portrays. Seemingly abandoned by her mother, and neglected by her father, she’s rebuilt her world on a foundation of martial arts and a need for vengeance.

Further, this book seems to ask one question: What happens to a person when you take every identifying characteristic away? Can they survive as a whole, happy person? As said in the book, “And what a strange world it was when a woman had to lose herself in order to find herself.”

The mythology is a bit unclear, which is why I spent the first half of the book scratching my head and hoping for another scrap of information. However, I can also appreciate the depth of the history involved, and why the author chose not to provide a long dissertation on the back story. If you can stand the suspense and a little bit of confusion, you’ll enjoy being teased as the story unfolds. By the time you come to the action movie-worthy conclusion, you’ll know where everyone stands and be rooting for Joanna to kick some Shadowy ass.

In the interest of disclosure: This book was recommended to me (and a lot of other people) by Kim Harrison, the author of the upcoming For A Few Demons More via her Yahoo Group. This review is being posted in response to the Scent of Shadows contest hosted by Sara Howe. The second book in the series, The Taste of Night, is due out in April. Personally, I can’t wait.

[xrr rating=4/5]

Working Permalinks With WordPress In It's Own Directory

I spent half the morning yesterday trying to get this to work. Now that I have, I thought it’d be a good idea to document it here. Not only might I need this again later, but it might be useful to someone else.

My Objective:

I had a two part purpose here. I wanted to be sure my mod_rewrite permalinks functioned correctly, as well as having the root of my website(www.waitingforfairies.com) redirect to the WordPress subdirectory.

My Process:

First, I tried putting WordPress in it’s own directory. This didn’t work for me. Mostly because of the problem and solution for GoDaddy hosting found here, which I’ll get to explaining later.**

To cut a long story short, here’s what I did:

Part 1: Setting Permalinks In WordPress

  1. I moved WordPress completely into it’s own directory. It’s now physically located at http://www.waitingforfairies.com/blog.
  2. I set my permalinks to what I wanted via the WordPress administration panel. In my case, I used the date and name based option: /%year%/%monthnum%/%day%/%postname%/
  3. There is now an .htaccess file in that WordPress directory with the following code:

# BEGIN WordPress

RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /blog/
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
RewriteRule . /blog/index.php [L]

# END WordPress

This part is pretty standard, and you can find it in a hundred places if you look.

That resolves part 1 of my objective: to make sure the permalinks work the way I want them to. Now, for part 2: powering the root of this website with WordPress.

Powering The Root With WordPress

  1. I created an .htaccess file in the root directory of my blog.
  2. It’s powered by the following code:

# Turn on rewrites.
RewriteEngine on# Only apply to URLs on this domain
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^(www.)?waitingforfairies.com$# Only apply to URLs that aren't already under folder.
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} !^/blog/# Don't apply to URLs that go to existing files or folders.
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d# Rewrite all those to insert /folder.
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ /blog/$1# Also redirect the root folder.
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^(www.)?waitingforfairies.com$
RewriteRule ^(/)?$ blog/index.php [L]

This code effectively reroutes anyone who visits the root of my website directly to my WordPress blog. Voila: Working WordPress permalinks AND WordPress functioning as the root of the site from within it’s own directory.

If you use this method, you’ll need to replace each instance of waitingforfairies.com with your domain. You’ll also need to replace each /blog/ with the name of the subdirectory where you’ve installed WordPress.

And that’s it. Except for one thing…

**Part Three: GoDaddy Hosting and .htaccess

The above referenced article was a sanity saver for me. The reason why I’d spent half the day on this is that I hadn’t realized this about GoDaddy:

NOTE: Changes made to an existing htaccess file will be seen immediately. When a new htaccess file is created or an existing htaccess file is deleted, however, these changes will not be seen until the htaccess cache is cleared. This occurs every hour.

Once I knew this little piece of trivia, the rest became easy. I realize that my method is only one of many. I further realize that anyone with experience will be able to write this code themselves. But that’s what’s great about WordPress. You don’t have to be a guru to do cool things with your website. And if you do happen to be a guru, you can still do cool things with your website without having to reinvent the wheel. So I hope having this information all in one place will benefit someone, somewhere, somehow. Giving back is a good feeling.