I Am A Reader Because of Return of the Jedi

Like most people born in the 70s, the original Star Wars Trilogy has been a huge part of my life. But, a few days ago, I realized that it had a bigger impact on me as a person than I’ve always thought. Sure, I am a geek pretty much because of Star Wars, and being a geek has determined my television viewing choices, the movies I watch, the books I read.

The books I write.

ReturnOfTheJediI’ve mentioned before that my very favorite book is Neal Stephenson’s “The Diamond Age,” and it is. I’ve also mentioned that the book that changed my life as a reader is Umberto Eco’s “Foucault’s Pendulum,” but it’s not. The book that made a difference in my life was one I received for Christmas in 1983. The Return of the Jedi Storybook, written by Joan D. Vinge.

I read that thing cover to cover a hundred times. I may have read it more than I watched the movie, and in the summer of 1987, I rewound the VHS tape six times per day ALL SUMMER. I still know the dialog by heart.

I don’t know where my glossy hardback copy of The Return of the Jedi is. 1984 was a tough year for my family. My brother and I spent the summer with our grandparents while my parents navigated my father’s unlawful termination from the oil company he worked for and the subsequent unemployment with no savings whatsoever. As a result, most of our belongings went into storage, and my brother and I were uprooted from our school once, our home twice, and I never saw my glossy Return of the Jedi Storybook again.

ITheSnowQueenn 1988, my freshman year in high school, I was sitting in my high school library and I see a mass market paperback in one of those spindle carousel things. It’s sitting among Harlequin romances, Sweet Valley High books, and Anne McCaffrey’s Dragon Riders of Pern series. I did pick it up because of the cover, but I checked it out because Joan D. Vinge wrote it. I remembered her name from my Return of the Jedi Storybook.

I loved this book SO much, I asked the librarian if I could buy it. (She said no.) We lived in a small town. My family rarely left town. Places I could buy a book locally didn’t have a whole lot of variety in science-fiction/fantasy, and so I had to be content with knowing I could get it from the library if I wanted to read it again.

Because of The Snow Queen, I stayed in the Science Fiction/Fantasy aisle on the adult side of the library. That’s where I found Dune, the Neverending Story, and the Princess Bride. It’s where I found Stephen Donaldson’s “Mordant’s Need.” It’s where I fed my hunger for intense world building and developed a love of political and sociological entanglement in my stories. It’s where my interest in Sweet Valley and Nancy Drew died a quiet death.

Later came Foucault’s Pendulum and Cryptonomicon, and from them I cultivated my reading behaviors as an adult. However, without Joan D. Vinge and her Return of the Jedi Storybook, I may have graduated from Sweet Valley into genre romance and gone no further, and I would be an entirely different reader…and writer…than I am.

Thank you, Joan.


A Personal Lesson in Privilege, Courtesy of CW’s The 100

I watch more TV than I read books. It’s an embarrassing thing for a writer to admit, but I will here and now. I live and work on the opposite ends of a 25 mile drive, which includes crossing the Amite River. There are four bridges that cross this river in Livingston Parish–that’s a county for those of you who live outside of Louisiana—and only one of them is a reasonable option for a daily commute from my house. That one is Interstate 12, the only reasonable option for 20,000 other people. (That may or may not be an exaggeration.) That leaves a few hours per day when we are not sleeping, working, or driving, to do EVERYTHING else. We don’t read the same books, but we do watch the same TV.

Every so often while I am watching TV, I will see something in a show that will knock me on my butt. It will stick with me, for days. Battlestar Galactica, S1 Ep3, for example. While watching it, I felt deeply in my bones that it might be the best written hour of television ever aired. The death of Fred on Angel, just after she and Wesley finally got together…my heart is still bleeds for them.

And the awe I feel is not always pretty, as in the case of CW’s The 100, currently in its second season. This show has forced me to examine myself as a consumer of television, of fiction, and of storytelling entirely. Bear with me, please, while I set the stage for my problem.

The 100 Season 2 PosterThe 100 takes place after a nuclear holocaust destroys all civilization on Earth. A very small group of humans, in space at the time of the incident, survive by linking their stations and sharing their resources. The assumption is that Earth is contaminated by radiation and life is not possible there. To ensure the survival of humanity, the “Arc” has very strict rules that are brutally enforced. Simple acts of mischief and defiance are met with jail sentences and/or death.

A decision is made in year 97 to clear out the Arc’s jail cells by putting 100 teenage inmates on a drop ship to Earth to test whether it is safe for the rest of the Arc’s people to return to the ground. (More on this later). These kids have been judged to be nuisances to the Arc. Disposable people.

The kids do mostly what you might expect kids to do in the lack of proper supervision…party, have sex, and beat up on people smaller than them. Fortunately, because of Arc’s super-strict rules, not all of the kids on the drop ship were miscreants. Clarke, the daughter of the Arc’s doctor, is a natural born leader. Bellamy, a guard on the Arc, shot the Chancellor to get sentenced to the drop ship because his little sister Octavia was on it. Octavia’s crime was being alive at all…resources being scarce on a space ship, and all, there’s a “one child” policy in force. Finn was jailed for wasting a month’s worth of air on an unsanctioned spacewalk. These four, along with a supporting cast of other teens willing to follow instructions, make sacrifices, and do the right things get The 100 through their first days on an Earth whose dangers come from freak acid fog and vicious neighbors they call The Grounders. By the end of season one, the 100 become the 55 (or something).

I’m a Finn and Clarke shipper and have been since moment one. She’s a strong, but conflicted female in a position of leadership. Finn’s good-looking, takes her lead, and puts his skills to good use…supporting her when he should and disagreeing when he should. For this reason, he’s been called a boring character and viewers like to hate him. But I argue that any group really only needs one alpha male, and Bellamy’s got that roped up nicely. Finn and Clarke have a good thing going, and then it gets interrupted when his girlfriend Raven steals a second ship to ascertain whether or not the 100 survived the trip. Finn’s now caught between a girl he’s cared for all of his life and a girl he fell in love with on Earth. He doesn’t have time to explain the situation to either girl before Raven sticks her lonely tongue down his throat. Clarke gives him up, and then Raven breaks up with him, making a decision for Finn that he wasn’t strong enough to make on his own.

While the kids prepare to defend their new home from Grounders who intend to kill them all, Finn tells Clarke that he’s in love with her, and her response is that he broke her heart. Season one ends with Clarke sealing the drop ship doors while Bellamy and Finn are still outside fighting the Grounders, and Raven blows the ship’s fuel reserves to incinerate everyone outside.

Clarke wakes up in a sterile, white room of an underground, former US military base called Mt. Weather, along with 46 of her friends. And she has no reason to believe that either Finn or Bellamy is still alive.

There are some criticisms I have of The 100. For instance, we learn in Season 2 that this story is taking place within the 50 mile stretch between Mouth Weather EOC and the National Mall in Washington DC. Yet, the Lincoln Memorial is the only indication there was ever a civilization between the two locations. Yes, radiation contributing to the forest reclaiming the Earth, but there should be ruins. I can overlook this though, because the story is concerned with its own present and the past has no bearing on the problems the characters face whatsoever.

In Season two, we see a significant and overnight growth of our key players as all of their circumstances change. Remember when I said I’d come back to the decision to send the 100 to the ground to test survivability? The Arc didn’t just jettison these kids to conserve resources. They didn’t have enough air to support life on the ship for even three additional months, a secret they kept from the people to avoid panic and uprising, and they don’t have enough space on the remaining drop ships to get everyone down to Earth. So, when they have proof that the kids did live through the trip, they took a gamble and sent the stations on a suicide reentry mission that results in a lot of casualties. Now, there are four groups on Earth fighting for survival instead of three.  (I am counting the kids and the Arc ship people separately, because the kids have changed that much.)

The folks living at Mount Weather seem to be nice enough. They cleaned the drop ship kids up, gave them bunks, clean clothes, and food. Clarke doesn’t trust them though. The Mount Weather people ask for nothing in return and that just doesn’t sit well with her. She believes, despite assurances to the contrary, that more of her friends are still outside and she breaks out to find them. Along the way, she discovers Mount Weather is using the Grounders in cruel medical experiments and she breaks one out to make their escape together. Her choice is strategic…a commander of the Grounder military forces, someone she can build an alliance with before returning to Mount Weather for the rest of her friends.

Finn and Bellamy are alive, prisoners of Grounders who have lost 300 of their warriors to Raven’s fuel reserve explosion. They manage to kill their captors and get back to the drop ship where Finn finds a Grounder wearing Clarke’s watch. Bellamy and Finn capture and interrogate him to learn where their friends (the 48 captive at Mt. Weather are), and the Grounder gives them the location of his own village.

Meanwhile, the Arc survivors are setting up camp and picking up life where it left off in space…enforcing disobedience to rules with brutal punishment. They also treat the drop ship kids they encounter as citizens to fall in line with order, and understandably, this doesn’t go over well with Bellamy, Clarke, Raven, or Finn. Octavia, who’s actually earned a modicum of respect in battle from the Grounders, feels no allegiance to, or fear from, Arc authority whatsoever. And Clarke, when she gets back to the Arc’s ruins, she has no problem standing up to her mother who by this time has become the new chancellor. Our kids have friends to find. None of them have time for the Arc’s “business as usual” bullshit.

OK…I hope that sets the stage well enough. We have the kids, who have bonded over shared and deadly circumstances, and are determined to save each other.  Mount Weather, aka “the Mountain Men”, have no resistance to radiation at all and are performing experiments on Grounders to ensure their survival. The Grounders have no trust of outsiders due to the Mountain Men capturing their people and turning them into drug-addicted, cannibalistic beasts. And we have the Arc survivors who have guns and rule of law, but no clue what to do with it.

Let’s return to the moment that made me question my role as viewer in this story. Finn…the sane voice of reason among the core group of discarded kids…is so desperate to find the girl he’s in love with that he tromps into a village of Grounders (mostly women and kids), sets fire to their food resources, pens them together under armed guard, and then ransacks every building looking for captives. When he finds none, a man from the village explains that the Grounder Finn got his information from was an untrustworthy bastard known for lying and he was bitter for having been banished. Finn is convinced to lower his weapon, and then a scared man jumps out of the pen. Startled by the movement, Finn shoots him. And this starts an avalanche of people jumping out of the pen and Finn shooting everything that moves.

Clarke watches from the woods as Finn guns down 16 innocent people, and what does he say as he sees her at the edge of the village?

I found you. No remorse. Two days later, Finn is absolved of wrongdoing by the Arc’s council (insert me rolling my eyes), and he’s bitter that Clarke won’t even look at him. In other conversations, Bellamy tells a struggling Clarke that they all done things they’re not proud of in the war they’re fighting. Other characters are also guiding her to forgive him for what he’s done…as if he kissed another girl while thinking she was dead.


First, the Finn we met in Season 1 would not have penned up peaceful people and shot 16 of them because someone made a run for it. And doing so would burn his bridge back to Clarke, and he’d know it the moment he met her eyes. The words that fell out of his mouth wouldn’t have been, “I found you.” They should have been, “What have I done?”

So…that’s led me to a week or so of wondering through the writer’s rationale for taking Finn in this direction, how they justify the sudden and drastic dark turn in the boy’s character, and just rapid and complete about face. It required a bit of soul searching and examination of the privilege I have as someone bearing witness to this mess from the safety of my energy-sucking couch.

The only thing I truly share in common with any of these characters is that I know other people. These kids were dropped out of the bottom of a dying tyranny to fight or die on a world where blood shed is answered with bloodshed in return. Respect on Earth is earned in battle and peace lies on the far end of a war against people already committed to kill, or worse, to win.

Finn, as we met him in Season One, was a kind soul. The one ready to take orders, to make sacrifices, and to do what needed to be done. He chose Clarke to follow over Bellamy. Within the first hours on solid ground, she claimed he heart and soul, and he lost both when he realized she was gone in the Season 2 opening episodes. And when he and she return to the Arc ship ruins after his massacre of the village people, he gets both back to find them battered and bruised.

And this is where I believe the understanding and willingness to let Finn’s crime go comes from. Bellamy shot the Chancellor to get onto the drop ship, and he participated in torture of a Grounder to save Finn’s life. Raven built more than one weapon of mass destruction to defend the drop ship camp from Grounders, and the Arc ship ejected hundreds of people to conserve their dwindling air supply. Most of the characters the viewer is meant to identify and empathize with are drenched in blood. We zero in on Finn’s actions only because he had options that he didn’t take. In a moment where his one lead to find Clarke turned out to be worthless, someone startled him while he had his finger of an automatic rifle, and with one innocent life on his hands, the floodgates of desperation and rage just burst in a hail of “what difference does it make?”

Am I making excuses for my favorite character on the show? Maybe. But at the same time, maybe my role is to sit back and let Bellamy, Raven, Octavia, and Clarke judge Finn by the rules forced upon them by their world, and not hold him accountable to the morals of mine.

New Release: Gemini Rising II: The Light and the Flame



Ripped from her deathbed, Noah transports Kate to the Olam Yetzirah, the dimension where universes form. They seek the advice of the archangel, Michael, in how best to get back to Earth and their children. Kate’s son and their newborn daughter, Lucia, the one spoken of in the prophecy Gemini Rising, await their return.

Trouble arises and concern ripples through the Olam. Kate is unable to make the transition from human to bond mate and her dreams of returning to Earth with Noah are crushed. Uriel will become Kate’s mentor while Noah is dispatched to Naresh, his home planet and to his people to whom the Light no longer speaks.

Will Kate become the bond mate she is meant to be? Will Noah find welcome with his people or will they despise him for taking the Light from their souls. Most important of all, will the prophecy of Lucia be fulfilled, or will Belial, demon of Hades, murder her in a fit of jealous rage.


True love keeps no track of wrongdoing.

Memory flooding back, Belial lay with Saddash on the banks of the river, wishing he could make his mind a blank for all eternity. After a time, listening to the water’s ebb and flow, his anxiety eased.

While in the river, Saddash had taken him into her arms. Together they melded, but as usual, the joining was not complete. Since Saddash was not his bond mate the ritual left him empty, and instead of building flame the act brought him sorrow even as it provided physical relief. A part of him would always be with Sheren no matter where the Light had taken her.

“You think of that woman.” Saddash’s eyes were spiteful as she brushed back a lock of blue-black hair.

Her burnished body gleamed in the misty twilight, catching rays from the setting shoshrana sun above. Starlight glanced off the contours of her skin, adding to her lustrous beauty.

He answered her, “I do.”

“Why did you let her go?”

“It was not of my choosing.”

Saddash circled one nipple with a nail. “Am I not as good as her?”

“You are better.”

A pleased expression crossed her face and he wondered that she could not detect his lie. She should have. He had given her the power to do so, but it was always this way. Incomplete and alone he faced the world, his bond mate forever separated from his side, her clone unable or unwilling to share his life completely.

The day of his bond mate’s betrayal had dawned with each of them entwined within the other’s arms. He had a surprise for her, something to celebrate their years together. A golden dragon sculpted by the finest artist in the universe. He couldn’t wait to see her face. He thought a moment, thinking of when he’d first laid eyes on her, the raven-haired beauty of Beriah.

He had stolen Sheren from the world of creation. There, only souls of the highest luminosity could live and Sheren was the loveliest. Fair of face, dark of hair and eye, lithe of body, her arms had held him close, providing comfort to one of the Light’s rejected.


“Quiet, Saddash.” He gazed across the river, his memory fading into the past.

On the day of Sheren’s disloyalty, they had been abed for hours, each of them enjoying the other in a dance of lovemaking that would make the Light blush—until she said the unthinkable.

“I want another child.”

“You what?” Her request had shaken him to the core, thinking this subject had been put to rest. Taking a sip of memosky, he searched for the right words to answer her demand. The thought of a child was anathema. No one would come between him and his bond mate, least of all a newly created soul.

“A child, Belial. I want—no I need a child.”

“Whatever for? You can create one if you will. Just think of one by Hades!”

Her eyes burned bright with tears. “Remember Haon? He came from my loins and did us both proud. Until you murdered him and our grandchild.” She sat up, her eyes bright with tears. “You and that prophecy. You fear it, don’t you. You really believe a child will take you from your rightful place in the universe.”

“Why now?” He rose from bed, dragging the sheet across the floor. “We have everything! Why must you have a child?” He would never forget her answer.

“The Light told me to ask.”

Fury exploding within, he morphed into demon-hood and staggered toward her, one hand ready to rip the soul from her body. “How dare you consult that insipient Being, that, that…!”

Sheren did not cringe. She had never been afraid of him and that had won his respect. She said again, “I want a child.”

Towering over her, his hand bent into a reptilian claw, he cried, “I’ll see you dead first.”

Instead of meeting his anger with fear she smiled, the light from her inner being shining on her face. He stood down, instantly morphing into personhood, the pain encompassing his soul not easily forgiven. He hissed, “I cannot believe you would ask such a thing.”

Ebony eyes looked back, the agony of her request filling him, letting him know that once again he would accede to her wishes.

She finished, “Still, I want a child.”


Louann Carroll is a Native Californian living in the Sierra Nevada foothills with her husband, Dennis.

Mother to three children, she is an avid rock, fossil, and gem hunter who enjoys sharing her finds with family and friends. She is a student of alternative religion, archaeology, anthropology, and paleontology.

After leaving her position as C.E.O. in the Bay Area, she has pursued her writing career with much success. Winner of the 2010 Crescent Moon Press award for best novel, she has added numerous titles to her resume. She is the author of the Gemini series, A Shadow of Time, a paranormal romance, Journeys, The Adventure of Leaf, and other children’s stories.

You can reach her at: TwitterFacebook | Email | GoodreadsAmazon Author Page

And if you really want to know Louann…

  1. I have Crohn’s disease but it does not define me.
  2. Chocolate defines me, but because of Crohn’s I can rarely eat it. Although I do blog about it often enough. Wishful thinking, I guess.
  3. I have three kids, but they are grown, thank heavens. I could NOT do it over again.
  4. I have seven grandchildren but I’m still very young. Just ask them.
  5. I married my childhood sweetheart and after forty-four years he is still my sweetheart, but don’t tell him, he has a big enough head already.
  6. My three dogs, Chelsea, Bella, and Aggie sleep in our bed. I just can’t see kicking them out at their age.
  7. Moving to the Sierra Nevada foothills was the best decision I ever made. Aside from marrying my husband.

5 Star Review for Gemini Rising I from Merrylee from Two Lips Reviews (Reviewers Choice Award AND Recommended Read)

Excerpt: Earth-Sim, by Jade Kerrion

Author’s note: The world’s a crazy place, isn’t it? Massive floods, deadly plagues, world wars…it makes you wonder, who’s in charge of this place anyway? Let me introduce you to Jem Moran, Kir Davos, and SimOne—the two students and android assigned to manage Earth.

Earth-Sim seamlessly blends popular culture with history, science, and religion. This whimsical and irreverent romp through the history of Earth will charm and entertain as you attempt to decipher just how much is fact and what else is fiction. Either way, you finally have someone to blame for the shape our world is in.

This particular scene, which includes Kir’s younger brother, Kav, showcases the source of the kamikaze, the “divine wind” that saved Japan from two Mongol invasions, and the origin of the Black Death.



“Did we ever hear back from the Shixar or the Atlante teams?” Jem asked as they walked into the simulation laboratory together.

“No, it’s been quiet. It helps to be a little backwater planet. The Shixar and Atlante are so busy fighting each other on the other side of the universe that we’ve been able to escape their notice. It also helps that we’re technologically primitive. No one wants the hassle of raising toddlers if they can help it. All right, Kav. Remember, hands behind your back. Don’t touch anything.”

“Got it.” Kav laced his fingers behind his back. His eyes were wide, and his head swiveled from side to side as he tried to take in everything.

“It looks like lots of teams are back,” Jem murmured, nodding to another student who passed by them on his way to his own planet.

“I think many teams didn’t even take the week off,” Kir said.

Jem snorted. “Now I feel like a slacker.”

“On the other hand, I feel like I’m giving up two weeks of my vacation, and I’m moderately resentful about it.” Their planet came into view. “Good morning, SimOne.”

“Good morning, Kir. Good morning, Jem. Good morning, Kav.”

“How are things going?” Kir asked.

“Well,” was the android’s succinct reply.

“Let me see. Let me see.” Kav stood over the planet, his fingers interlocked behind his back, and stared down at the blue-white world spinning serenely in space. “Is that the moon?” he asked, as something brushed by his head.

Kir nodded. “Yes, and step back. You’re in its orbital path.”

“What’s that stuff down there?” Kav asked.

Jem leaned in over his shoulder. Her eyes narrowed. “It looks like a fleet of ships.”

Kir leaned in too. “That you can see from up here? That’s got to be a lot of ships.” He whistled low. “I’ve never seen these many ships. It will probably go down in history as the largest naval assault to date.”

“It isn’t going to bode well for that island,” Jem said.

“You’re not intervening?” Kir asked, sounding surprised.

“No. Both countries are somewhat peripheral to my plans. Contrary to what you may think about me, I don’t make every single decision for them. I step in only where it matters.”

Kav suddenly sneezed.

The fleet of ships vanished beneath the violent exhalation of air that tore up the waves. “Oh, no…” Jem choked back a giggle.

“Kav!” Kir shouted.


“Cover your nose!”

Fascinated, Jem watched in silence as more ships sailed forth from the mainland; the armada reformed. They were going at it again.

Kav wailed. “I can’t cover my nose. See! My hands are behind my back. I can’t cover my nose with my hands behind my back.”

“Use your hands, damn it,” Kir said.

“You told me not to use my hands in here. I’m gonna sneeze again…I’m gonna…AH CHOO!”

The fleet dissipated. It never reformed.

Jem covered her mouth, the muffled sound trapped between a chortle and a sob. “Oh, God, I can’t watch.”

“Stand all the way back here.” Kir physically picked up his brother and moved him out beyond the asteroid field. “Jem, are you okay?”

She swallowed the chuckle. “It’s so bad. I thought that we’d figured out the art of planetary management, but no, we’re still careening from crisis to crisis.”

“You don’t sound or look mad,” Kir said carefully.

“I’m not. I’m resigned.” She giggled again. “Just imagine how the events must have seemed to that country. A massive armada shows up on your shores, and suddenly, bad weather takes it down. A few years later, another armada shows up, but once again, it’s consumed by bad weather. If that’s not a divine wind, nothing else is.”

“You’re taking this better than I thought you would.”

“Practice,” Jem said with a straight face.

SimOne cut into their easy banter. “Alert. An alien vector was inserted at 35°N, 103°E”

“What?” Jem turned sharply back to SimOne.

“Where did it come from? Who inserted it?” Kir asked.

SimOne stood very straight; she stared at something apparently only she could see. “It came from Kav Davos.”

“Get it out,” Kir ordered.

“Negative. The alien vector cannot be removed.”

“Track it, then. I want to know where it goes. What is it? A humanoid?” Kir asked.

“Negative. It is an enterobacteriaceae.”

“Damn it.” Jem paled. “Give me a population map, SimOne.”

The world map unfurled across the astral screen. The disease spread, flowing out of the heart of Jem’s empire, toward the west and south. Dark patches faded, thinning out, sometimes disappearing completely.

“Oh, my God…” Jem whispered. “They’re dying. They’re dying all over.”

Check out Jade Kerrion’s Book Blogger Fair – Summer 2013 page for more information.

Book Review: Keir, by Pippa Jay

Keir, by Pippa Jay
Lyrical Press, May 2012

Outcast. Cursed. Dying. Is Keir beyond redemption?

For Keirlan de Corizi—the legendary ‘Blue Demon’ of Adalucien—death seems the only escape from a world where his discolored skin marks him as an oddity and condemns him to life as a pariah. But salvation comes in an unexpected guise: Tarquin Secker, a young woman who can travel the stars with a wave of her hand.

But Quin has secrets of her own. She’s spent eternity searching through space and time with a strange band of companions at her back. Defying her friends’ counsel, Quin risks her apparent immortality to save Keir. She offers him sanctuary and a new life on her home world, Lyagnius.

When Keir mistakenly unleashes his dormant alien powers and earns instant exile from Quin’s home world, will she risk everything to stand by him again?

A broken, emaciated man lies in the shadows of a sewer, trapped behind iron gates. Persecuted every day of his life for the color of his skin, Keirlan de Corizi is taunted even in his last, lonely hours. He wishes for death to claim him. Death denied him. When an odd young woman named Quin is tossed into his cell, he is confounded by her light regard for her situation. She claims she can get out of anywhere and promises to take him with her. At the moment, he doesn’t have enough energy left in his body to hope that she can. There’s much he doesn’t understand in their first day together. Why does she drag him out of the sewer to freedom? Why does she care for him after their escape? Why does she refuse to leave him behind when his deteriorating condition guarantees she will be recaptured. But, she keeps her promise and takes him home with her. The man known as the ‘Blue Demon’ of Adalucien has one moment of peace and is grateful for it even as he fades away.

Keir wakes up in a strange room where he is treated gently by a woman with purple hair and fangs. She gives him clothes and introduces him to others in the compound. They are all very different…from him, the Andalucian, and each other. Strays, the kind woman calls them. He finds his savior, Tarquin Secker sitting alone in a garden. He wants to be near her. Having avoided other people all of his life, the desire terrifies him.

I seldom cast books as I read, but in this case, both leads quickly acquired living models. For me, Keir is Orlando Bloom in Nightcrawler (X-men) make-up, complete with symbols carved and inked in his skin. Quin is Bryce Dallas Howard channeling the 12th incarnation of Dr. Who. That’s more about me than Pippa Jay or her delightful novel, but I felt like sharing.

Keir is a clever amalgamation of science fiction plot devices, fantasy realms, and literary themes. It is built within a construct of futuristic devices, fantastic locations, and alien power sufficiently advanced to be considered magic. At it heart, though, it is a character driven story about embracing differences. Over the course of our lives, humans acquire memory, fears, and regrets. We either overcome our mistakes and our losses, or they overwhelm us. The one thing we cannot turn time back on them. We cannot abandon or undo them, as much as we’d like to. They become part of us, define who we are, and inform our relationships with other people. Keirlan de Corizi symbolizes a personal demon, and finding in Quin a kindred soul, he feels drawn to her and trusts her well before he learns the first details of her many secrets.

First, they must survive Keir’s home planet, a world contemporary with pre-Industrial Europe, where everyone is human, where the powerful rule the masses by force, superstition, and fear of things they don’t understand. In Pippa Jay’s universe, Andalucian is the exception, not the rule.

Keir reminded me of Dr. Who in many ways, Stargate SG-1 in others. I would sincerely recommend this book to fans of either series.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

New Release/Blog Tour: Keir, by Pippa Jay

I’ve been enjoying six sentence snippets of Keir for a few months now, and I’m antsy to get my hands on this book. The wait is almost over.

Outcast. Cursed. Dying. Is Keir beyond redemption?

For Keirlan de Corizi–the legendary ‘Blue Demon’ of Adalucien–death seems the only escape from a world where his discolored skin marks him as an oddity and condemns him to life as a pariah. But salvation comes in an unexpected guise: Tarquin Secker, a young woman who can travel the stars with a wave of her hand.

But Quin has secrets of her own. She’s spent eternity searching through space and time with a strange band of companions at her back. Defying her friends’ counsel, Quin risks her apparent immortality to save Keir. She offers him sanctuary and a new life on her home world, Lyagnius.

When Keir mistakenly unleashes his dormant alien powers and earns instant exile from Quin’s home world, will she risk everything to stand by him again?

WARNING: Contains sweet romance, some violence and plenty of adventure.

Keir will be available from Lyrical press on May 7, 2012. Click the link for more information and a snippet.

Pippa Jay is a stay-at-home mum of three who spent twelve years working as an Analytical Chemist in a Metals and Minerals laboratory, Pippa Jay bases her stories on a lifetime addiction to science-fiction books and films. Somewhere along the line a touch of romance crept into her work and refused to leave. In between torturing her various characters, she spends the odd free moments trying to learn guitar, indulging in freestyle street dance and drinking high-caffeine coffee. Although happily settled in historical Colchester in the UK with her husband of 18 years, she continues to roam the rest of the Universe in her head.

Book Review: Static Shock, by Eilis Flynn

Static Shock, by Eilis Flynn
Crescent Moon Press, March, 2012

Can you live without your computer? Can you wear a watch? Do you know anyone who can’t?

In a time not long from now, there are people whose life paths are determined by such simple details. Legally recognized as electromagnetics, or “Readers”, they are a twist in evolution, an anomaly in a society that has become technologically dependent. Considered second-class citizens because of their heightened electromagnetic fields, Readers can’t wear watches, get too close to a TV, or even drive for fear they will shut down the car’s electrical system. Computers become worthless doorstops quickly around Readers. Career prospects are limited.

Reader Jeanne Muir decides to expand her horizons when she’s unexpectedly offered a new job opportunity. But she hasn’t been told that her job description includes being framed for a crime she didn’t commit. Because Readers are not held in high esteem, Jeanne’s an easy scapegoat, and law enforcement definitely is not on her side. Knowing she was set up and the odds are against her, Jeanne can’t let herself be taken in-and risks asking mysterious, sexy Ran Owata, a fellow Reader who is no longer accepted among their kind, for help. The problem is: Can she trust him? Does she have a choice?

Abandoned by her normal parents at age eleven, EM-charged Jeanne Muir spent her teen years between a university research lab and the streets of Seattle. An adult now, she does part-time work for the Geller Institute consulting on energy leaks. Six months ago, she was arrested for being in the wrong place at the wrong time and it earned her an abrupt change in duties. She was remanded to testing (that she dislikes), training (that didn’t interest her the first time around), and boring consulting jobs.

Static Shock opens with Jeanne on two critical missions. First, she must reach her destination without overloading every single thing that runs on an electrical charge. It’s a challenge for her anywhere in urban Seattle, but today, points A and B are on the U of Washington campus. Second, she has to ask something of her boss. She’s optimistic, but there’s a good chance that he will say no. The boss that greets her in the Gellar Institute director’s office, however, isn’t the one she’s expecting. That man, Sam, was peeled off a campus statue a few hours earlier and carted off to a mental institution. The new director is a sexy younger man who puts her on her guard. He’s a reader who doesn’t behave much like one, which tips her off to who he is.

Ran Owata serves as a bridge between readers and normals, but his name has become a dirty word among those like him and Jeanne. Because their EM fields magnify each other in close proximity, readers are prohibited from congregating in groups…a violation of their Constitutional right to assembly that does not escape Jeanne. Ran’s advocation of self-control for integration purposes rubs most readers the wrong way, but that’s the bright side of his problem. He’s also associated with a controversial law that would see readers interred into camps. At the least, he’s viewed by readers as the enemy, at most, the boogeyman. At the thought of his name, Jeanne freaks out, and her EM field blows half of the light bulbs on the director’s floor.

Static Shock has an intriguing premise. The extra-normal condition of Jeanne, Ran, and the other readers is a byproduct of an evolutionary change colliding with a technological society where that this new property of the human condition negatively affects. As such, the readers are ostracized by the other 80% whose lives are built upon the electronic backbone of modern societies’ critical infrastructure. The views of norms, as the readers call them, range from wariness to prejudice to outright fear. Politicians, whether caving to the masses or earning brownie points, have written increasingly restrictive laws inhibiting where they can go, when they can go there, and who they can meet. Other laws have upgraded the wiring in apartment houses to sensate wiring…a technological advancement for which landlords charge their tenants more. Landlords who don’t have it can charge readers a premium that makes renting nearly impossible in one of the America’s most expensive cities. The gloves that readers wear to shield both them and the devices they handle from shock are the new badge of discrimination and segregation…like the Stars of David and colored triangles of Nazi Germany, or racial identifiers throughout history.

The details, great and small of this world makes the not-so-distant-future in Static Shock tangible for the reader. The social issues and concerns are contemporary, relevant, and I very much appreciated the focus given to civil rights. In addition, the author’s style is fluid and clean, which allowed me to read the bulk of the story in four hours, and the interaction between Jeanne and Ran was, for the most part, believable and appropriately paced. My problem with the book lies in one particular scene with Jeanne and Ran that I found un-believable. Ran does something that I feel…based upon his behavior to that point…was very much out of character. And Jeanne’s response to it felt out of character as well. After this very short, very odd scene, they find their groove again and the relationship continues exactly as I had expected it to. If the scene had been written slightly differently, or taken out completely, I would have given this book five stars.

Jeanne is enjoyable as a beleaguered smart ass, and Ran is charming as an understated, older, wiser counterpart. Clearing Jeanne’s name of the crime she’s wanted for may be the point of their adventure, but it would be hard not to cheer on bond that forms between them along the way. Static Shock is a solid book that I believe my fellow fans of made-for-SyFy movies will enjoy.