More Than Luck: A St. Patrick’s Day Story by C.T Adams

happystpatMORE THAN LUCK

1

“The leprechauns have gone off the reservation your majesty.”  Chang was not smirking when he said it.  In fact, his handsome features were completely devoid of any emotion.  If this had been six months ago, he’d have been joking with me, smirking and supremely confident as only a dragon can be.  After all, even in human form, a dragon is well nigh indestructible without the use of dragonsbane—not something you can come by easily on this side of the veil.

But that was then, this was now.  Things had changed.  I had changed.  And the easy familiarity I’d once shared with him was suffering from a bit of a strain. 

Life can be a real pain in the ass.

Apparently so can leprechauns.

“What happened?”  I tried not to sound as tired and irritable as I felt.  Tried, and failed miserably. 

“Someone showed them how to get on the internet.  They watched the first movie in a horror series where the villains were leprechauns.”

Oh hell.  I hadn’t watched any of them, but I remembered they were supposed to meld comedy and horror.  I couldn’t imagine the actual leprechauns would be impressed.

“They took offense.  Apparently they’re on their way to Hollywood to take revenge on all of the parties involved.”

“How many of them went?”

“All ten.”

Ten leprechauns may not sound like many—but they have enough magic individually to wreak serious havoc.  Together?  I managed not to shudder.  I needed to handle this, and quickly.  First, their leaving sanctuary was an insult to me if not direct disobedience of a royal command.  It made me look bad and undercut my authority.  All the other Fae would be watching to see how I would respond.  On the other hand, overreacting would be just as bad.

I counted off the names in my head:  Flaherty, O’Bryan, Murphy, Coughlin, Reagan, Mulligan, Harrity, Flanigan, O’Hara, Doyle.  I knew them all.  They’d been a part of my childhood, conspiring with Adam, the Diamond King, to reward me for catching rainbows he made when sunlight struck his skin.  I liked them for the most part—at least I did when they weren’t complicating the hell out of my existence. 

I tapped my index finger against my lip, thinking quickly.  “All right, here’s what we’re going to do.  Chan, rent me a warehouse in L.A. and hire me a film crew.  Buy the rights to make the next sequel.  Then get on the internet.  Get the word out everywhere you can, make a big splash about it, get the crew to film a preview if you need to.  I want word to get out that we’re filming a big new movie in the series and it’s going to be HUGE.  Contact the agents of everyone involved in the first movie—say you’re ‘checking availability’.  If the leprechauns are getting ready to move against them, we should hear about it if we’re courting them for the film, and it will give you a chance to get people talking in the industry.” 

Chan nodded, but expressed concern.  “How do you know they’ll see it?”

“It’s your job to make them see it.”  I said sternly, then grinned in spite of myself.  “Besides, if there’s one thing I’ve learned about the internet—it’s that it’s addicting as hell.  You get the word out, make sure it spreads.  They’ll see it.”

I turned to address my personal assistant, an elderly man of Polynesian ancestry and many talents. “Teo, I want you to summon the single biggest clotheshorse among the Sidhe women to me and buy us a pair of tickets to Los Angeles.  Tell her we’ll be hitting the shoe stores on and around Rodeo Drive.  And I will need plenty of cash.”

Moash, the King of the doxies, tilted his head, his batlike features wearing an expression of pure puzzlement.  “You’re going shopping for shoes?

“We’re going shopping for bait.

2

Shopping with Alala was an education.  She stood six foot four inches in her flat and every inch of her skin was ebony perfection, from the tips of her manicured toes to the black curls she kept cropped close to her head.  Her delicately pointed ears sparkled with no less than eleven piercings on one side, and a single two carat diamond on her left.  She moved with the deadly grace of a lioness on the hunt, and when she walked into a store everyone stopped what they were doing to cater to her least whim.  That she was deferring to me earned me a level of obsequity that was almost disturbing.

We hit the shoe stores for bait.  We hit the others for fun, and by the time we were done I was glad I had the royal treasuries at my disposal.  Damn but that woman knew how to spend money!

We kept in touch with Chan by cell phone, so I knew exactly what warehouse to drive to. 

It was a dump.  But it was a busy dump.  There was construction going on everywhere, with sets being built, actors auditioning, and deities alone knew what all else going on.  The racket was terrible.  And it says something about the abundance of beautiful women in Hollywood that Alala and I were able to walk into the hubbub without causing a stir.

I stopped the nearest construction worker.  “Chan?”

“Office, northwest corner of the building.”  He gestured with the hammer in his hand.  “But you’d watch out.  He’s in a mood.”

I didn’t doubt it a bit.  Dragons are notoriously moody, and Chan more than most.  Besides, he was having to deal with people—lots of people, and computers.  Neither of those were his favorite things.  Oh, he’d do his job, and flawlessly.  But he wouldn’t be happy about it.  I would have to think of some suitable reward for him when this was over. 

Alala followed me without protest, her expression a bit bemused.  After the lavish attention that had been shown us in the shop, the attitude here was a bit of a cold shower.  Then again, these people weren’t trying to get us to spend money. 

Cynical?  Perhaps.  But I did start out as a shop keeper.

It was awkward, what with all the packages I was carrying, but I managed to I tap on the door before opening it.  It was only polite, and I wouldn’t want to get roasted by accident. 

“Now what?”  Chan’s growl stopped abruptly when he saw who it was.  “My apologies your majesty.”

“No problem.”  I let Alana pass through the door then closed it. 

We stood in a claustrophobically small office.  Chan sat in a battered office chair behind an ancient metal desk which was in only marginally better shape than the battle scarred filing cabinets—each of them a different color from the other, and from the desk.  “I see you’ve been busy.  Any sign of the leprechauns yet?”

“Not here—but there have been rumors about one or two of the people involved with the first movie.  Not the stars, but the producer, the director.  They’ve both had accidents in the last couple of days.  Not deadly, but nasty. It’ll take them a while to recover.  I’ve heard rumblings about more, enough that people around town are starting to talk about the ‘Leprechaun curse.’  I don’t like it.  Frankly, I’d like to break their little necks for causing all this trouble.”

“Break these instead.”  I dropped bags with shoeboxes on his desk.  Don’t destroy them—but damage them enough that they’ll need serious repair.”

He nodded in understanding and set to work.”  He knew as well or better than I did that leprechauns a cobblers—they mend shoes by trade and take even more pride in their work than in the gold that they guard. 

“Then we’d better get to work.  Where’s my gear?”

All fae are magic.  But I’m half human, and a witch like my mother.  I work primarily with stones, but I do have a few other tricks up my sleeve.  Between one thing and another, I should have everything I needed.  I hoped.  With Alala tagging along as assistant and pack horse we left the office carrying my magical gear and the bait.

Here’s hoping it worked, before someone got killed.

3

   I was exhausted, but the traps were good.  Now all we needed was for the prey to show their little pointy noses.

   I was just starting to really worry when I felt the little shiver of familiar magic.  I looked up from my hiding place on a comfortable couch stashed between a large armoire and several painted canvases on wheels that were basically movable walls.  There they were, all ten of them, sitting all in a row, their legs dangling from the metal rafters overhead.  Their suit jackets and top hats were emerald green.  Their pants vermilion.  Black patent leather boots and belts provided contrast, and vests in red, green and black plaid pulled the outfits together.  They were older than the Irish hills, all of them, but those without beards looked almost like children, wicked children, their eyes alight with mischief.

   Coughlin let out a small cry, his hand pointing to a corner not far from me.  In the blink of an eye he, and four of the others vanished.  I felt a surge of power as the trap was sprung, and a second surge as the cloaking spell I’d worked into it made their capture invisible and inaudible. 

   “Paddy?  Timothy, Joseph,” a piping voice cried.  “Where be ye?”  I recognized Colin Flanagin’s voice.  With a little pop he appeared just a few feet from my hiding spot, the remaining leprechauns crowding behind him. 

   Moving with great care, more silent than a mouse, I took the enchanted net and pulled it open wide.  With a single swift movement I flung it over the group of them and felt a surge of satisfaction as the spells within it trapped and disabled them neatly.

   “Very nice work your majesty.”  Alala’s disembodied voice came from her hiding place not far away.  “But now what will you do with them.”

   “Aye, my queen you caught us all good and proper.”  Reagan admitted with a sigh.  “What will become of me and mine now?”

“Now you will pay for your misdeeds.”  I said sternly.  “First, you will use your gold to reimburse Chang and the crown for everything we spent to take care of this. 

He groaned.  Leprechauns hoard their gold almost as much as dragons, and he would hate desperately to lose his to one.

“Second, you will repair those shoes for Alala.”

   That they would do anyway.  They couldn’t help themselves.  “Of course.”

   Third, you will, at your own cost, create three pairs of new boots for each member of the royal guard.  Two work pair and one dress pair.

   He scowled, but didn’t argue.

   “And lastly.  I’m thirsty.  Magic us all up some green beer—and mind you, no enchantments.  This has been thirsty work.”

   “For us too?”

   “So long as you all swear not to go wandering off again without my leave.”

   “Done then.”  He agreed on behalf of them all, but they nodded their approval in unison.

   So we raised a glass, me and those of my subjects, and it was good. 

   So was the movie.

2

             The Exile cover image-2

The Exile by C.T Adams

SYNOPSISBrianna Hai runs an occult shop that sells useless trinkets to tourists—and real magic supplies to witches and warlocks. The magical painting that hangs in Brianna’s apartment is the last portal between the fae and human worlds.

A shocking magical assault on her home reveals to Brianna that her father, High King Liu of the Fae, is under attack. With the help of her gargoyle, Pug, her friend David, and Angelo, a police detective who doesn’t believe in magic, Brianna recovers what was stolen from her and becomes an unwilling potential heir to the throne.

A suspenseful urban fantasy with a hint of romance, The Exile is the first solo novel by C. T. Adams, who is half of USA Today bestselling author Cat Adams. Like the Cat Adams Blood Singer novels, The Exile is set in a world where magic is real and contains Adams’s trademark blend of suspense, action, humor, and strongly emotional writing.

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Book Review: In Search Of Us by Ava Dellaira

SpringReads

In Search Of Us by Ava Dellaira

insearchofus

Published: March 6th 2018 Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

416 Pages

synopsis

The author of the beloved Love Letters to the Dead returns with a parallel story of a mother and daughter each at age seventeen. Marilyn’s tale recounts the summer she fell in love and set out on her own path. Angie’s story is about her search for her unknown father.

This sweeping multi-generational love story introduces readers to mother-and-daughter pair Marilyn and Angie. To seventeen-year-old Angie, who is mixed-race, Marilyn is her hardworking, devoted white single mother. But Marilyn was once young, too. When Marilyn was seventeen, she fell in love with Angie’s father, James, who was African-American. But Angie’s never met him, and Marilyn has always told her he died before she was born. When Angie discovers evidence of an uncle she’s never met she starts to wonder: What if her dad is still alive, too? So she sets off on a journey to find him, hitching a ride to LA from her home in New Mexico with her ex-boyfriend, Sam. Along the way, she uncovers some hard truths about herself, her mother, and what truly happened to her father.

review

Ava Dellaira always breaks my heart with her gorgeous prose.

I wasn’t ready for something so beautiful.

There is a number of books that explore social themes very directly, this isn’t one. And yet, the issues are so present it stings. I was very fond of how subtly Dellaira introduced it all. The relationship issues between Marilyn’s mother and her grandmother, then between Marilyn herself and her mother, and finally between Marilyn and Angie, as each generation tries to be better than the preceding but fails in other parts for overcompensating. It’s beautiful!

Both main characters had their own way of thinking and reacting, everyone was very round and well developed. Yet, this was so well written, it was a pleasure. Also, it had the right doses of drama, in no moment I felt the author overdid it. On the contrary, the story just kept going like life, with no time to digest.

 

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Book Review: Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff

SpringReads

Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff

Papervalentine

Published: January 2013 by Razorbill

synopsis

The city of Ludlow is gripped by the hottest July on record. The asphalt is melting, the birds are dying, petty crime is on the rise, and someone in Hannah Wagnor’s peaceful suburban community is killing girls.

For Hannah, the summer is a complicated one. Her best friend Lillian died six months ago, and Hannah just wants her life to go back to normal. But how can things be normal when Lillian’s ghost is haunting her bedroom, pushing her to investigate the mysterious string of murders? Hannah’s just trying to understand why her friend self-destructed, and where she fits now that Lillian isn’t there to save her a place among the social elite. And she must stop thinking about Finny Boone, the big, enigmatic delinquent whose main hobbies seem to include petty larceny and surprising acts of kindness.

With the entire city in a panic, Hannah soon finds herself drawn into a world of ghost girls and horrifying secrets. She realizes that only by confronting the Valentine Killer will she be able move on with her life—and it’s up to her to put together the pieces before he strikes again.

Paper Valentine is a hauntingly poetic tale of love and death by the New York Times bestselling author of The Replacement and The Space Between.

review

Paper Valentine

This is such an important read. The synopsis does not do the story justice at all, and I think for that reason it is often overlooked when we are discussing the great and powerful stories of our generation.

Paper Valentine takes us on a journey through the dark side of human nature. Yes, as discussed in the synopsis there is a killer running rampant and of course that is terrifying. The most terrifying part of this novel? The demons Lillian was facing that resulted in her tragic death. Lillian wasn’t murdered. She wasn’t in an accident. Lillian battled her own demons. Her mind told her she wasn’t good enough, and so she lived in a way that her mind deemed appropriate.

Lillian wasn’t enough. So, she began starving herself. The classic downward of spiral of eating disorders. It begins initially as the voice of self consciousness. Dictating ourselves to lose a bit of weight. Then we will be pretty. Then people will like us – maybe, people will even love us. Then, we feel control over the food we intake. As things plummet around us due to our own self hatred. While everything else is crazy, that control we feel is a saving grace. That is until it becomes out of our control. What once was meant to lose a little weight, or to make us feel a bit better in the midst of chaos – now has it’s hold.

This is what happened to Lillian. Slowly she slipped away and her self hatred became stronger than she was. She became the eating disorder, she felt it defined her as much as the colour of her hair or her voice.

Once we give in to that voice. Telling us we are not enough. It stays with us forever. Even when we beat the ED, in times of distress that voice still lingers. Telling us not to have those calories, telling us to purge. It’s horribly sad, beyond sad really.

This is the important focus of the novel. It can save a life. We see how broken everyone is in the aftermath of life without Lillian. We see how her sickness not only ate away at her body, it ate away at the soul of everyone whom loved her. It is a real reality check.

We may hate our reflection in the mirror. We may think we are obese. Hideous. Unloveable.

But.

That’s not the truth.

We are loved. And we love. We just need to learn to love ourselves. This is the message I take away. It’s not a cautionary tale about eating disorders. It is an ugly truth that many of us endure in our lifetimes weaved into a storyline.

You may have your own Lillian in your life. You may be Lillian…

We are all important. We all matter. We can all beat that voice. We just have to let ourselves live long enough to overcome it. Allow ourselves some grace. Forgiveness.

Thank you Paper Valentine, for being my voice of reason. My voice of comfort. To overpower my demons persuading me to once again lose myself in this dark world. I never want to be Lillian. Thank you, with your words, I know I never will be.

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Book Review: Nymphs (Nymfit #1) by Sari Luhtanen

Nymphs by Sari Luhtanen

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Published: January 28th 2016

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Sexy, dark and exciting, NYMPHS is the novel of the smash-hit international TV series. Perfect for fans of THE VAMPIRE DIARIES and THE ORIGINALS.

Meet the nymphs: living among us, they’re forever young, dangerously seductive – and ever so deadly…

A young man is found dead after a college party in a small town. His body bears the marks of a brutal attack, but police are mystified as to the actual cause of death.

Afterwards, student Didi Tiensuu is approached by two mysterious women. Beautiful and other-worldly, they have come to warn her she is in danger. And to live, she must for ever leave her old life behind.

There are evil forces at work that mere mortals can never comprehend. And Didi is about to discover her past is a lie. The night of reckoning is coming and the choice is hers. Reject her fate. Or accept her destiny and embrace her power..

1600167_10152164384800908_58508561_nWhat a creative and compelling read!

Nymphs is simply fantastic. Fun, innovative and fresh — exactly what the YA genre needs. Each character is so well rounded that at times it feels like the dialogue is just friends chatting around you.

I loved the world building and location of the story. It sprung from the pages and became alive. Everything felt so real. The descriptors used were almost poetic.

The plot itself is quite fantastical, and you guessed it — fantastic. I wish I had the opportunity to watch the television show.

It really surprised me how much my feelings towards different characters changed as the story progressed. It was a neat experience, one that a book hasn’t delivered in quite some time.

Thank you, Raincoast Books for the review copy.

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Book Review: Half Lives by Sara Grant

Half Lives by Sara Grant 

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Published: 2014

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Present day: Icie is a typical high school teenager – until disaster strikes and her parents send her to find shelter inside a mountain near Las Vegas.

The future: Beckett lives on The Mountain – a sacred place devoted to the Great I AM. He must soon become the leader of his people. But Beckett is forced to break one of the sacred laws, and when the Great I AM does not strike him down, Beckett finds himself starting to question his beliefs.

As Beckett investigates The Mountain’s history, Icie’s story is revealed – along with the terrifying truth of what lies at the heart of The Mountain.

Sara Grant’s HALF LIVES is a dystopian chronicle of the journeys of two unlikely heroes in their race against time to save future generations

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After reading the first few chapters I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book. It was oddly paced. The first few chapters were fun, and the reader got to know the protagonist, Icie. Then there was a bit of a lull, then it picked back up again.

I am glad I decided to finish. The dual narration added excitement in moments that weren’t as intriguing. I particularly liked how two stories were unfolding throughout the book. It was neat to see the past and present intertwined in one story. As we learn about Icie and her circumstances, we see the story of Beckett unfolding parallel to hers.

This book could actually serve as two separate stories. The reader could simply just read Icie’s story, or Beckett’s.

Many of the dystopian/apocalyptic reads in the YA genre are not believable, they are great fantastical novels—but, not believable. What was disturbing about Half Lives? I really could see events like these actually unfolding in our world.

Icie was the perfect protagonist. She wanted so badly to live, and so badly to help others. The reader feels her emotions, which automatically makes this novel a great read. When an author is capable of triggering emotions from their readers, they are a success.

Thanks to Hachette Canada for the review copy.

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Book Review: Hark! A Vagrant

Hark! A Vagrant – Kate Beaton10767466Hark! A Vagrant is an uproarious romp through history and literature seen through the sharp, contemporary lens of New Yorker cartoonist and comics-sensation Kate Beaton. No era or tome emerges unscathed as Beaton rightly skewers the Western world’s revolutionaries, leaders, sycophants, and suffragists while equally honing her wit on the hapless heroes, heroines, and villains of the best-loved fiction.

If you have not yet been exposed to harkavagrant.com then I can only surmise that all the time you’ve spent on the Internet to date has been a waste. Go check it out, immediately!650x375_tumblr_lejx1us30V1qa0q13o1_500

Beaton’s book Hark! A Vagrant, is a compilation of comics from the site with some book-exclusive comics tossed in to the mix. I love that Beaton is a Canadian and uses several references of Canadian history, and jokes throughout her comics. It is refreshing to see Canadian culture explored, even comically!

Beaton is one of the best new comics, her art and storylines are witty smart, and true to her style a bit vulgar. This collection is hilarious, and is the sort of book you can turn to when you a need a pick-me-up. Beaton’s craziness will have you laughing in hysterics. Part of her appeal is combining modern day slang, with bold literary references such as the Bronte’s and Nancy Drew.

Hark! An excellent book.

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Valentine’s Day Cards Traditions

VintageValentines
The first Valentine’s cards were sent in the 18th century. Initially these were handmade efforts, as pre-made cards were not yet available.

Lovers would decorate paper with romantic symbols including flowers and love knots, often including puzzles and lines of poetry. Those who were less inspired could buy volumes that offered guidance on selecting the appropriate words and images to woo their lover. These cards were then slipped secretly under a door, or tied to a door-knocker.

VintageValentines

It was in Georgian Britain that pre-printed cards first began to appear, though these were not yet as popular as they were eventually to become. Perhaps the oldest surviving example dates from 1797: this card, held at York Castle Museum, was sent by one Catherine Mossday to a Mr Brown of London. It is decorated with flowers and images of Cupid, with a verse printed around the border reading:

Since on this ever Happy day,
All Nature’s full of Love and Play
Yet harmless still if my design,
‘Tis but to be your Valentine.

Victorian Valentines
The industrialisation of Britain in the early 19th-century brought with it rapid advances in printing and manufacturing technologies. It became easier than ever to mass-produce Valentine’s cards, which soon became immensely popular.

It is estimated that by the mid 1820s, some 200,000 Valentines were circulated in London alone.

The introduction of the Uniform Penny Post [a component of the comprehensive reform of the Royal Mail, the UK’s official postal service, that took place in the 19th century] in 1840 bolstered the popularity of Valentine’s cards yet further: reports suggest that by the late 1840s the amount of cards being circulated doubled, doubling once again in the next two decades.
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Many Victorian Valentine’s cards survive, but most intriguing is a collection of more than 1,700 examples that is held at the Museum of London. This is the archive of the stationer Jonathan King, who ran a card-making enterprise in London. This collection, which has been digitised, demonstrates the huge array of designs, verses and sentiments that were popular with lovers in Victorian Britain. Cards tended to feature elaborate paper lacework, embossing and other intricate designs.

The more expensive the card, the more elaborate the design would be. This meant it would be obvious how much your lover had spent on a card! Typical imagery included flowers, love knots and Cupid. Though hearts were sometimes used, Victorian cards did not feature the ubiquitous red hearts that are so typical of Valentine’s cards today.

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