All Steamed Up!

February 22, 2010

Steamed: A Steampunk Romance” by Katie MacAlister
Printed by Signet, a division of Penguin Publishing
Okay! I’m a man. I admit it. When I first laid eyes on the cover art for Steamed I was hooked. It has to be one of the best covers I’ve seen in years.
Steamed: by Katie MacAlister
Let me digress… Awhile back, someone noted that covers for almost all the big-name urban fantasy and paranormal romances have a back or three-quarter view of a shapely young woman with a dark background the hints of great danger. Occasionally, a lusty male figure will be in the background. In very few of these cases, do you see the woman’s face. This is done on purpose, so that the reader can imagine themselves or their loved one in the heroine’s shoes, boots or calluses.
The cover art for Steamed takes a slightly different twist in that it is not a photo or photo-realistic painting, but rather a garish comic drawing in shades of reds, browns, gold and flesh-tones. It fairly jumps off the rack at you.
Enough about the cover. That’s why I picked it up in the first place. But what about the story, itself?
This is the first time I’ve read any of Katie MacAlister’s works and I’m going to remedy that oversight with the next few visits to my local bookseller. Steamed was a fun read! The promise of the cover, the premise hinted at in the synopsis and the tagline are fulfilled perfectly. This really is a wonderful tale of steampunk romance.
The hero is a member of the Society of Friends, also known as Quakers. This is a religious group that actively practices non-violence. As our hero demonstrates, that doesn’t mean they are pushovers or won’t defend themselves or those they love.
The action is a roller-coaster of melodramatic scenes that play in your head like Indiana Jones movie trailer. Airship warfare is offset by highly-charged romantic trysts that are never X-rated and yet leave little to the imagination.
The heroine is the captain of an airship full of incredible characters and is perfectly depicted on the cover. That should say enough.
If you need a fun read to offset some of the dystopian steampunk and urban fantasy novels that fill the shelves, you won’t go wrong with Steamed. I give it five pasties!
Bravo, Katie! I’m a fan and eagerly awaiting a sequel.

Great Customer Service!

February 16, 2010

I was over at my favorite Borders book store a little while ago. While poking through the computer to see if a new title was available, a lovely young lady asked if she could help. We chatted about various books and she was extremely polite, knowledgeable and helpful.

Please take note that this is one of the main reasons I purchase books at a store rather than at Amazon or other online venues. The lady’s name is “Dez” and my favorite bookstore is located at 5871 Crossroads Center Way, Baileys Crossroads, VA 22041.  That is near the intersection of Rt. 7 and Columbia Pike.

If you’re looking for some reading matter and are in the area, I would highly recommend you stop by and browse their selection. Who knows? You might get lucky and meet Dez.

Ranting About Lazy Neighbors

February 15, 2010

I just got back from a marvelous vacation in south Florida.

There are tons of old, grey snow up here and I live in a row of townhouses that share a sidewalk. That is what brings me to the topic of this rant.

The guy on the back end (away from the street and two doors down from me) shoveled and iced his walk towards the back. The other five townhouses have ‘pushed’ some snow from their walks to make little, slippery trials to the main sidewalk.

The management waited until there was already 3-4″ of crushed snow and ice on the main walkway with two foot of snow on top of it before they made a single pass with a snow blower. The result is what you would expect… Sixty feet or so of lumpy, treacherous ice between our door and the parking lot.

Oh, and to make matters even better, the two small evergreens that stood alongside my neighbor’s side broke a few feet off the ground and toppled so they covered our short walkway. The neighbors have been too friggin’ lazy to grab some gloves and drag them to one side. Instead, they kicked a narrow path around them that is going to turn our lawn side into muck when it starts to thaw.

The last snow storm, when we were up here, I shoveled and salted the front steps, the entire walkway (20 foot) that we share with our immediate neighbor and more than 3/4 of the main walkway that leads to the parking area. For that two and half hours of work, not only did I not get thanked, but the kid next door actually bitched that I hadn’t shoveled it wide enough in places. I asked him why he wasn’t out helping and he muttered, “I don’t have a shovel and they don’t pay me to do that kinda shit.” He scampered back inside and slammed the door before I offered to loan him my shovel. Actually, no one is going to pay him to do any kinda shit, because he’s a semi-literate, lazy, sullen, rude little snot who’s only skills involve handheld video games.

Such is the life I have come to know and expect in the big city. Damn! I hate cities in general.

Now, I know that there are some fine, generous and hard-working folks in many parts of every city, but they are the exception rather than the rule.

Gimme some country folk and good neighbors.

Here are three shots I took today.

We’ll be back home in a few days and I’ll share some more images after I’ve had more of a chance to sort them.

Still More Pictures

February 11, 2010

Y’all up north need to stay warm and safe!

A Few More Vacation Pix

February 9, 2010

Vacation Pix

February 1, 2010

Here are a few of the photographs I’ve taken so far.

Blue Heron

House of Refuge Rocks

Stuart Bridge

Please note that these are the unedited images. I’ll be posting a gallery of the ‘best’ shots after I get back home.