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time travel

Review: One Way Fare (Null City Book 1) by Barb Taub – New Favorite!

One Way Fare (Null City, #1)“Suppose neutral angels were able to talk Yahweh and Lucifer – God and Satan, to use their popular titles – into settling out of court. What would be the terms of the compromise? Specifically, how would they divide the assets of their early kingdom?” – Tom Robbins, Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates (2000)

I really only picked up the book as it was advertised on one of my “Free Today” book emails. You know the ones, and if you don’t, why not?  So anyway, there it was, and the cover caught my eye. It was the first in a series, free, written by an author I hadn’t heard of. Why not?

Now, here is the thing. One Way Fare had a fairly interesting blurb, though I was a bit leery of the whole “Angels and Demons” shtick. Honestly? The whole Hellhound/Poodle thing is what really caught my attention. And you know what? For all that the Angels/Demons/Time Travel thing is normally so not my thing, well, I was entranced. I mean, really, truly entranced. Taub’s writing is unique. She has shaken up a couple of genres, and written her characters, and her story, in ways that held me rapt from page one.

In the room made of light, they plan the end of Hell.

The thing is . . . I’m rooting for Hell in this one. No, really. I mean, Lucifer is The Morning Star – which the oldest Latin texts portray as either John the Baptist, or Jesus himself. After all, it isn’t until much later that texts were converted to the concept of The Morning Star as being “Satan,” an evil character. Let’s face it – the ideation of “God vs Lucifer” is based in the takeover of various Egyptian, Canaanite and Jewish tales of gods who fought fiercely amongst themselves for power. To the victor go the spoils – an the right to tell the tales in any way they see fit.

Taub’s Hell is a nightmare for anyone who considers intellectualism to be threatening (you know, Right Wing Republicans, that sort of thing). As Ray Williams, in Anti-Intellectualism and the “Dumbing Down” of America (Psychology Today, July 07, 2014), says,  “There is a growing and disturbing trend of anti-intellectual elitism in American culture. It’s the dismissal of science, the arts, and humanities and their replacement by entertainment, self-righteousness, ignorance, and deliberate gullibility.”

Ha! Send me to Hell, because this place is Interesting!  And a whole “Hell” of a lot more inclusive than “Heaven” could ever hope to be. Or even “Haven,” the place where the Fallen Angels who want to recreate the “Heaven” they were thrown from, exist. So, a bunch of pissy Angels want to destroy Hell – and they don’t care that, “Not only will that strategy lead to massive death and destruction for humans, but it could mean war between Fallen and Angels.” Wow, total narcissism really can be deadly! (I still wish I could remember the book I read, I think it was in the late 70’s or early 80’s, where ‘god’ is so busy staring into a mirror admiring himself – well, keep telling a guy he is handsome, you just know that spells spoiled rotten, self-centered ego maniac, right? – he allows the universe to go down in flames around him.)

Then, of course, there is the time travel aspect of the book. Honestly, I am not usually a time travel book lover. They never seem to get the continuity right. But Taub proved me wrong. Her writing makes sense. “I have a theory about time. Things can’t happen if they didn’t.” And what is even more crushing? Things still happen if they did. Taub holds all of the timelines tightly in her grasp, flowing backwards and forwards, building a gossamer web of linkages that never left me thinking “Huh? What just happened?”

This series is now at the top of my “Must Read New (to me) Series.” I already downloaded the second, DON’T TOUCH, Null City Book 2. There are some issues that weren’t tied up all the way in book 1, and I look forward with great eagerness to see how they carry forward through the series. One Way Fare is edgy, imaginative, and deeply unusual compared to my usual experience with this type of book. Highly recommended!

And remember this – “Why do they blame me for all their little failings? They use my name as if I spent my entire days sitting on their shoulders, forcing them to commits acts they would otherwise find repulsive. ‘The devil made me do it.’ I have never made one of them do anything. Never. They live their own tiny lives. I do not live their lives for them.”  ― Neil Gaiman, The Sandman, Vol. 4: Season of Mists

Review: Heat of the Moment (Sisters of the Craft Book 2) Lori Handeland

Heat of the Moment (Sisters of the Craft, #2)“People who claim that they’re evil are usually no worse than the rest of us… It’s people who claim that they’re good, or any way better than the rest of us, that you have to be wary of.” ― Gregory Maguire, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West

“You believe in a book that has talking animals, wizards, witches, demons, sticks turning into snakes, burning bushes, food falling from the sky, people walking on water, and all sorts of magical, absurd and primitive stories, and you say that we are the ones that need help?” ― Mark Twain

What truly constitutes evil? Is it those who do things for the sake of evil? Or the ones who do it in the name of “good”? Whether one or the other, Roland McHugh is pure evil. Evil which would put the worst of the demons of any religions hell to shame. Roland McHugh – the personal witch hunter of King James – pouring his evil over the Scottish countryside, his rage, hatred and serial murders in the name of James and the Church focusing, finally, upon the family of Henry and Prudence Taggart and their three infant daughters. McHugh ignored his own wife’s pleas for the midwife, Prudence, until it was too late to save either her or the child. But far be it from the monstrous McHugh to take the blame upon himself.

Ignorance. Illiteracy. Hubris and insecurity, mad obsession. Once upon a time, long ago, in the bad, ignorant, evil times of King James and his Danish queen, there was a great storm. James, an ignorant, religious fool, thought to himself, “Such a storm can only have been caused by witchcraft!” And in his ignorance and fear, he called to himself Roland McHugh, witch hunter, who he placed in charge of a secret society, known as Venatores Mali – Hunters of Evil. And from those savage beginnings there began an age of slaughter, of blood and death of innocents such as hearkened to war. And Roland McHugh spread his evil across Europe, spraying blood and hatred in his path. . . Roland McHugh – who, according to his Wikipedia entry, “had burned more witches than anyone in history.” (My words, not the author’s)

To save their daughters from slaughter at the hands of McHugh Henry and Pru willing gave their lives in the flames of the pyre in order to send their daughters forward in time – to a time when no one believes in witches. But the thing is, now time is rolling back around again – and the evil of those who call themselves “hunters of evil” yet are truly the most evil of all, are working to bring McHugh back into the world, spreading slaughter and fire in their wake.

The girls were sent 400 years into the future, to today, when magic has been overrun by technology. But Wiccans still exist – Wiccans, whose one immutable law is “Harm None”. So cruel that those who harm none are considered evil by those who commit the most evil of deeds in the name of so-called ‘good’. Such twisted minds, that ritual slaughter of innocents is considered godly.

In the Air Tonightintroduced us to Raye, Air Witch, speaker with ghosts, the very In the Air Tonight (Sisters of the Craft, #1)definition of a foundling. She was found tossed on the side of a highway, no clothing, no blanket – simply a tiny infant, left beside the road, apparently to die. Adopted by the Larsen’s, a good New Bergin, Wisconsin family, Raye never knew who left her by the side of the road. Now, in “Heat of the Moment”, we meet Becca Carstairs, Veterinarian, speaker with animals, and second daughter of Henry and Pru. Lovely, sweet Becca, who has no idea that she is anything but her parent’s daughter. And no idea why someone is trying to murder her. With Henry and Pru to guide her, Raye finds her way to Becca. But will she be too late to save her sister from a madman?

I am absolutely loving this series by Lori Handeland. The narrative is tightly woven, the characters well written, and the historical background beautifully, heartrendingly designed. The Christian religious connotations are sharply and bone-chillingly drawn, showcasing the hatreds and obsessions of a barbaric time brought forward into the beliefs of modern times. The reality upon which the story is based is deeply, deeply disturbing – especially in light of the religious hatreds still extant today. This is a wonderful series I hope you will enjoy.

The next book, “Smoke on the Water” will tell Willow Black’s story. Willow’s story begins on the banks of a Northern Wisconsin creek, beneath a willow tree. Willow’s story is next on my list – and I am greatly looking forward to it.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a realistic review.

Note to the Publisher:
Guys, Really! I never would have picked up these books on my own, based upon the cover art and titles. They come off as Young Adult novels if you simply look at the cover, but these are adult-centric books. The titles have only a passing reflection of the book contents. “In the Air Tonight” sounds like a Harlequin Romance, and “Heat of the Moment” does as well.  The books are much better than that, and deserve better titles and covers. I get it, Raye is an Air Elemental, Becca Fire, but still.

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