March 11th, 2015

_Kiss of Steel_, Bec McMaster SPOILERS RUN RUN RUN

I was over looking at recent reviews at the Smart Bitches, and this book got an A+ from Elyse:

It was available from kindle unlimited, so my response was more or less along the lines of, what could I possibly lose by giving this a try? Answer: some sleep. I _did_ manage to put it down at about 11 p.m. last night, so not too much sleep anyway.

Part of the appeal was that this was, like Cindy Spencer Pape, Victorian Steampunk + vampireswerewolvesetc. And Elyse's review, which is better than anything you're likely to get from me, made it clear that it was much less plot-y and much more descriptive, character developing, ambience -- all that novelistic description that people sort of notice by its absence in the shorter, plot-heavy Gaslight Chronicles.

Like the Gaslight Chronicles (and like many addictive romance series), there is an extensive family-by-choice and some family-by-blood, offering the opportunity for sequels exploring their life-arc and finding an appropriate Significant Other.

This entry is set in Whitechapel, but there's some description of how the Craving Virus got to western Europe from China's White Court, and its interaction with politics in various regions in Europe, along with clashes between Blue Bloods (infected with the Craving Virus, blood consuming but not yet intolerant of light and not yet _totally_ nuts) and verwulfen. Nice to have some international variation.

SPOILERS! Run or the Drainers will GET YOU! Or maybe the Slashers, or Vickers, or other members of the Echelon, or possibly the Inquisition or . . .

Obvs, there's a Top Dude in Whitechapel, and this is the story of him approaching The Fade (transition to totally nuts and must be Put Down, arrangements have already been made with his verwulfen thrall/second in command/man-of-few-words buddy Will) with trepidation and fascination with the newly arrived in Whitechapel Honoria Todd, currently going by the name Miss Pryor. Dear old dad is believed dead. Younger brother Charlie has been infected and the sickening process looks suspiciously like TB but isn't. Mid-child Lena misses the Good Old Days working for the Echelon but is working hard as a seamstress and caring for Charlie.

Things deteriorate rapidly for Honoria from page 1: Blade (Top Dude in Whitechapel) sends her a message. Charlie gets a lot worse and the doctor declines to provide further treatment. Blade takes her into town for a meal, someone sees her and reports to Honoria's boss, who then checks a reference and fires her. Mostly, tho, there is a lot of angsty conflict because Honoria doesn't want to accept that she can't save Charlie, doesn't want to make any kind of arrangement with anyone and is generally displaying bad judgment driven in part by a lack of adequate food. And then a vampire fixates on where the Todds are living in Whitechapel.

Along about the point where an alert reader is stepping back from the headlong run from one disaster to the next, wondering whether the well-written but weirdly not that compelling (to me) sexual interactions between Blade and Honoria (CONSENT ISSUES! Seriously, consent issues. Also, I am apparently pretty much done with the sucking on arteries is sexy thing. I knew that it had mostly run its course, er, for me, but I am _really_ just about completely done. Which is sad. It had been such a nice 20 years of trashy, trashy fiction.), the vampire doesn't hurt Lena much, and declines to hurt Honoria at all. Which on the one hand really pushes one over the Mary Sue horizon, but on the other hand, turns out to be the key to figuring out how to save Blade from The Fade.

Phone call; I may or may not finish this later, with remarks about the irony of Vickers and the ultimate cure.

ETA: Amusingly, given that this dates from 2012, there is a bunch of stuff about vaccination in this book. The Big Bad, Vickers, sponsored Artemus Todd's research both into vaccination (to prevent accidental infection primarily) and a cure (to put off The Fade) for the Craving Virus (I really want to put TM here). But then something bad happens that causes the Todd children to go on the lam and convince them that Vickers killed Artemus (there's a real lack of clarity on precisely who saw what, when). Ultimately, the person responsible for Artemus dying (well, THAT is debatable) is someone else entirely, and that simultaneously explains all kinds of things like, why did Charlie get sick when the Todd sisters did not, why did Artemus' attempt to vaccinate himself with what looked like a sure thing fail, etc. And that, in turn, provides the cure that Vickers canceled the vaccination research in order to focus on. Ironies abound! And all that irony is buried in the rooftop encounter between Honoria and the vampire that conspicuously does not kill her.

Turns out that set piece on the roof was really more all about WOULD SOMEONE ANSWER THE CLUE PHONE PLEASE and less about Honoria being Mary Sue. Altho she still is.

There is more to the series, and it looks like it may be winding up? So this might be a rare opportunity to read the whole thing when it is still fairly new but after it is complete and thus not actually have to wait for subsequent volumes to come out. There's just those nagging consent issues that I had. . .

Ah, the mysteries of 2 walks vs 1 walk

By stepping out my door, going out to the sidewalk, and making all right turns, I arrive back at my door step almost exactly 1 mile later, with some hills. It makes for a pleasant 20-30 minute (or more) walk, depending on the slickness of the pavement and whether or not a small dog is doing the walk with me and any human companions, and the mood of said dog.

Generally, I try to do that walk (or a longer, 3 mile walk, but I haven't done that lately because of snow accumulation -- but I'm feeling optimistic again. And the Nature Walks have been canceled for similar reasons) once a day, most days of the week. My walking partner is a fabulous assist on this. When things are going well for me, R. and I might do the long walk on Friday, which helps. I sometimes even get out on weekend days, if the kids and the weather are cooperative (altho even when the weather isn't cooperative, I've still done it if there are other motivational factors -- I've done it in snowshoes, for example).

What I have noticed is that when I get very focused, and try to do the walk once with my walking partner and once by myself -- that is, 2 walks rather than 1, and both 1 mile, rather than attempting the 3 mile loop -- there is an inexplicable effect on total step count for the day. On a typical 1 walk day, I'll wind up with around 7 or 8 thousand steps. The walk is about 2500 steps, give or take (more if the dog is very slow, less if I'm by myself and taking longer steps). So I would expect to come out at just about exactly l0K, if I didn't change _anything_ except adding a second walk. But that isn't what happens. Like, ever. If I get two walks, I get the expected total 5K ish aerobic steps, but the second walk also does something to my day where I do a bunch of additional walking, adding up to 1-3K more steps total. Today was an extreme version of that effect (to be fair, I also went swimming, and that confuses FitBit to the tune of a very small number of hundred additional steps), and I wound up at around 14K.