@RonovanWrites Haiku Challenge: Bust & Must

In response to Ronovan’s Weekly Haiku Challenge: Bust & Must

I must do my best

Working hard, busting my gut,

Never been so fun.

At the end of this working week, I feel like I achieved a great deal. Although, having the Ekka show day off halfway through the week helped…

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Flash Fiction: Instincts

“Trust your instincts,” he’d told me. “It’s the most powerful thing in your arsenal.”

I had, and now I was standing on a rooftop, pointing a gun at my crazy informant who wanted to jump. My instincts could go blow themselves.

My instincts said he wouldn’t run. Then my instincts told me he’d go down the stairs, not up. If I hadn’t paused to listen to his echoing footsteps, I wouldn’t have changed direction. I’d only just made it up to the roof when I caught him nearing the edge and shouted ‘Freeze!’.

But he hadn’t jumped yet.

“Just calm down, aight? Let’s talk about this-”

No!  I’m done hearing you talk! Now you listen!” He stepped backwards, heels now against the ledge. “I can’t…” He gasped, trying to control his wavering voice. “I can’t do this anymore…”

“Look, mate, that’s fine. Everyone’s gotta know when to quit. We’ll get you to a safehouse-”

“They’ll find me. They will! They…” One foot went up on the ledge, then another.

“You don’t want to die, mate. I know you don’t.”

“’S’better… better doin’ it this way.” He started to turn towards the drop, and that’s when I shot him in the leg.

The bullet ripped through his calf. He screamed, buckled, swayed…

And fell back onto the rooftop.

I tucked my gun away as I called for an ambulance. He was still awake as I took my jacket off and pressed it against his wound.

“Arrgh!” He screamed again. “You shot me!”

“You fell back on the rooftop.”

“W-what?”

“You know the one instinct everyone trusts? Self-preservation. It didn’t matter you were trying to jump off a building – your instincts kicked in, and you fell back to the safe side of the edge.” I grinned at him. “Trust your instincts.”

Book Review: Heart of Venom by Jennifer Estep

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Review:

Ugh.

I once loved this series. Like really, really loved. I was shocked how the first five books seemed to be written just for me. Have you ever had that reaction to a story before? It doesn’t have to be the greatest story ever told, but it ticks all the right boxes for you.

Gin Blanco is a proper kick-ass heroine, with the kind of ‘get-yer-hands-dirty’ attitude I love. The first five books in the series were wonderful (for me) but even back then I remember recycled scene-setting and dialogue. And I always thought the sex-scenes were weird and awkward, but that’s fine. I didn’t read these for the romance (which seemed to be thrown in purely for mass-appeal purposes).

Ever since the big finale way back in Spider’s Revenge, I thought the series was done. Then I saw there was a sequel and I was like ‘oh good’, but it’s just gone downhill from there. Nothing seems to be a proper challenge for Gin after she beat the Big Bad Bitch. Even when the stakes are ramped up, it seems artificial. The same thing happened to me after the Cell Saga in Dragon Ball Z so maybe I just have an issue with series going too far beyond their original plot-line (which, admittedly, was the Frieza Saga but I like time-travel. So Cell Saga was good). But I digress…

The only thing I got out of this book was the explanation and wrap-up of what happened to Sophia all those years ago. I was always interested in that sub-plot but… I just feel it would’ve been better done following Fletcher around. Gin, hell, everyone’s just gotten on my nerves. There’s no real character development for anyone because there’s nothing really left to do. That spanner in the works with the main love interest was contrived and unbelievable and everyone else is just milling about. Sure, the action is still fun and Gin is still bad-ass, but it’s all technicalities. Everything just seems so artificial now. It’s lost it’s glamour.

I’m sorry, I cannot bring myself to give this a proper thumbs-up. It just seemed lazy, lazy, lazy. But thankfully Jennifer Estep is trying something new, with a thief-themed series starting next year. Then there’s the prequel The Spider which I haven’t read yet, but will anyway because it’d be nice to go back to a non-omnipotent Gin. So yes, I will read Estep’s other books, but I’m done with the Elemental Assassin Series.

I was disappointed. So thumbs down 😦

Heart of Venom
Jennifer Estep
Elemental Assassin #9
Adult
Urban Paranormal Fantasy
354 pages

According to the blurb on the back:

When I say you’re a dead man, take that literally.

To me, killing people is like a day at the salon: cut and dry. Well, more like rinse and repeat when you moonlight as the assassin the Spider. But my last spa day ended up redder than my freshly painted nails after a twisted Fire elemental and his goons kidnapped my close friend Sophia Deveraux and nearly killed her sister Jo-Jo in the process.

Up Ashland’s most dangerous mountains, and deep into the heart of its blackest woods – I’ll track these thugs no matter where they take Sophia. It doesn’t matter what kinds of elemental magic they try to throw at me, my Ice and Stone powers can take the heat and then some. I will get Sophia back, over their dead bodies.

Because anybody that hurts Gin Blanco’s family becomes a body.

Book Review: Labyrinth by Alex Archer

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Review:

I love this series. Sure, it is pulp fiction at its worst (or best) and Alex Archer isn’t even a real person – it’s a pseudonym for any number of authors trying their hand at this series.

The plot for this installment (and most others) is basically a bad James Bond movie with random doses of pseudo-science and magic. But it’s exactly my kind of thing. Globe-trotting, adventuring archaeologist basically just goes around ‘landing’ in more adventurous situations (like the Poirot effect – crime keeps finding the master detective, and so adventure keeps finding the master adventurer).

But Labyrinth doesn’t do any globe-trotting, instead opting for a more claustrophobic atmosphere. Then there are the eco-terrorists, something I can never take seriously for some reason. Actually there is a lot of silliness here, so if you’re not geared up to go along for the ride, you probably won’t enjoy it. I did though. Just turned my brain off and enjoyed reading Annja struggle to survive the increasingly personal challenges.

While it’s not necessary to read the Rogue Angel books in order, this one does reference past stories (namely, Footprints, Warrior Spirit, and Phantom Prospect). So I wouldn’t recommend starting with this one (though it is one of the more action-packed and brutal survival stories). But if you like your women ridiculously strong with a drive for justice behind her, this is the series for you. Just be warned, like bad James Bond movies, there are a silly number of dead innocents caught in the crossfire. It’s only a minor annoyance for me, and one that doesn’t detract from the fun tale.

All in all, Labyrinth was a great entry to the series, and reminded me just how many books of Annja Creed’s I haven’t got around to reading yet. I should get on that. Big thumbs up 🙂

Labyrinth by Alex Archer

Lara Croft with a Sword Rogue Angel #34

Book Length: 317 pages

Time to Read: About six hours (across two travel days).

Action/Adventure.

Adult Fiction.

According to the Blurb on the Back:

Each step, each test, each twist and turn leads closer to death.

A book dealer lies imprisoned in a Boston mansion, an IV tube dripping a lethal narcotic cocktail into his veins. In thirty-six hours, he’ll be dead. His final request is to receive a visit from one woman…

It wasn’t the most hospitable invitation she’d ever received. Archaeologist Annja Creed is being rushed to Massachusetts, abducted by a famous environmental terrorist – a zealot willing to kill anyone who gets in his way or the planet’s way. He has taken the book dealer hostage in order to steal a rare and very valuable treatise called the Tome of Prossos. Annja is the key to retrieving the ancient manuscript hidden somewhere deep within the mansion. But the book is well-protected. In order to find it, she must survive the rigors of an elaborate maze. She has only twelve hours to decipher the labyrinth’s sinister secret… a secret that could ensure she never emerges.

 

P.S. I’m sticking the review first since that’s always what I read first before looking at the blurb on other people’s blogs. I don’t know if everyone does that, but I figured I’d give it a go and see what happens.

Mini Story: Chase

WARNING! There is some very, very minor violence (well, minor in its description) in this fictional tale. Don’t keep reading if you don’t like death. No wait, no one likes death. I mean, if you don’t like reading about deadness. I haven’t cleared that up at all have I? Uh, look, it’s not gross. It’s just that someone gets dead, and not everyone’s into that. I understand. I like to think of myself as an open-minded person.

Enjoy!

Chase

The grit under my sneakers caused me to slip sideways. I cursed under my breath but counted my blessings as a bullet whizzed past my head. Tensing my calves I took two long strides before leaping again to the next rooftop, my palms landing snug against the lip of the building and my fingers seizing into claws to pull me up.

But they were faster. I could hear their polished soles smacking against the ground, the sound horrid and echoing in the dead of the dawn. Up, get up! Roll onto your stomach and pull yourself up and bolt!

Another shot fired into the rising sun. I don’t know how close it got to me and I wasn’t gonna turn to find out.

Keep your damn head down and keep moving!

I scrambled up and ran, my feet flying along so that I could no longer tell where they were, but that wasn’t important. The important thing was that I was moving forwards, and fast.  I got to the end of the roof and leapt, not even bothering to question if I could possibly make the distance. It felt like I was flying further than I ever had before. I landed neatly onto the next rooftop and propelled further along. I was gaining distance. I was moving so quickly that the air howled past my ears as if it were wind. I was going to make it!

Or so I thought until my eyes recognised what they were meant to be seeing – no more rooftop.

When I got to the edge I looked down. The next building was at least three stories below. I could survive that. Maybe. What other option did I have?

But it wasn’t my decision to make. As I was working out how to jump, looking down at my fate below, I got a good view of the bullets that ripped through my chest. One-two-three-four. Just like that, in quick succession. The impact staggered me, but I kept upright long enough to turn myself around and spy the bastards who got me. But they weren’t there.

Another second and I saw them clamber up over the building’s ledge just as I had done. Then one more bullet caught me in the chest, and this time I saw the red sniper’s sight.

I actually managed a laugh before I toppled backwards. Well, a gurgle. As I fell against the rising sun and the new dawn blinded me, I muttered one last curse.

“Cheats.”

I wasn’t dead until I hit the ground between the buildings, fourteen stories below.