Monthly Archives: June 2013

The Unfortunate Importance of Honey Traps

First off, let me apologise for being AWOL lately. I’ve been dealing with a little bit of Internet drama that I feared was going to be the end of my little blog here. Last month a bot from IP address 198.199.124.41 tried to access a page on my blog and encountered a ‘404 Not Found’ error. It was unsuccessful, so it tried again and again and again and again…25,209,286 times. Yea, that was 25+ million times. Eating up 24,987,720 Kbytes of data and netting me a £417.82 bill for bandwidth overage from my provider. That’s $656.10!

Yeah fuck you and your bot Digital Ocean, Inc. of 270 Lafayette St Ny, NY 10012. That’s essentially my blog’s budget for the next five years. I am, of course, negotiating with my hosting company to try and reduce the cost since they are apparently charging me roughly 50X as much per MB for over use as regular use, (Seems a little high doesn’t it?) but so far no luck. I feel like I’ve been robbed twice. First by the bot (and how futile is it to get angry at a damned bot?) and then by the hosting companies predatory overage charges. I imagine this one is going to Trading Standards before it’s over with.

So, here’s what I learned out of all of this. Honeytraps are important. Sad but true. I didn’t even know what one was before this. We (i.e. my blog, my husband’s computer skills) followed Michael Langley‘s directions on how to set one up. Apparently the idea is to create a ‘forbidden’ area  that lures the bot and allows it to sneak in, gives it some trash data so it thinks it has done it’s job, logs it’s IP address and summarily blocks it. The list of blocked bots grows at a surprising rate after that.

I knew there was a lot of bot traffic on here by the difference between the hit counter (which discounts bots somehow) and the unmitigated number of hits a day. But it never occurred to me that they could cause me any real harm. Imagine my surprise. So, here’s my advice people. Get yourself protected. Especially if, like me, you don’t understand all that much of what make the whole system function.

 

 

Review of Mystic Ink, by Casey Wyatt

Mystic Ink

I grabbed Casey Wyatt‘s Mystic Ink from the Amazon KDP list. 

Description from Goodreads:
Welcome to Mystic, Connecticut, where a Satyr owns the local pawn shop, a Minotaur serves the tastiest pizza in town, and the nearest gate to the Underworld resides in the alley outside a tattoo parlor.

Nix–Sea Nymph, talented artist and proprietor of Mystic Ink–just wants to run her tattoo shop in peace and quiet. Peace and quiet, however, are the least of her problems. Mortal corpses keep springing up in her alley like daisies. Hades is angry that the mortals’ souls are missing. And to top it all off, the human authorities suspect Nix of foul play. 

Before long, the supernatural police force takes an interest. They dispatch Agent Calder Quinne to investigate. His assignment is simple: determine Nix’s guilt or innocence by observing her daily routine. Instead, he’s faced with an uncooperative Nymph who resents his presence and evades him at every opportunity. 

Nix finds Cal far too attractive and a challenge to her self-imposed ban on relationships. She wants him out of her life as soon as possible. When Cal’s soul is stolen next and Nix wakes up missing memories of the evening’s events, even she starts to wonder if she’s guilty. Now, she has only two weeks to locate Cal’s missing soul, or he’ll be doomed to spend eternity as a Shade.

Review: **Warning, slightly spoilerish**

Meh, it was alright. The writing was perfectly readable and it was well edited. I have no complaints on that front. But the story had a number of elements that I just plain dislike. For one, though Nix was the main character and the events centred around her, it wasn’t her who saved the day. Nope, Gods forbid the woman be in on the important action. Instead she ran around from the start of the book until the end, encountering and being attacked by one mythological creature after another. Note, not intentionally doing anything but instead reacting to a presented stimuli. Then in the end, all her male protectors went behind her back and saved the day. It was subtle, but all the impetus was taken by the men. At one point Cal even asked her, Do you trust me?…Then hold your questions a little longer. In other words she not only wasn’t in on the action, she wasn’t even allowed to ask about it. This was all further exasperated by the fact that all of the power players were Gods. The only real Goddess you get to know is vapid and too busy with her facials and pedicures to be important.

Then there was the complete mishmash of pantheons. I get that this was intentionally. The D.L. was after all an alliance of them. But come on, first we’re presented with the Greeks (including Sitars, Cyclops, Titans, Nymphs, Fates, Furies, Basilisk, etc), then the Egyptians. I’m still on board at this point. Then the Elves show up. Huh? And then Aliens! Really, WTF, it was just too much, too cluttered, too many disparate genre thrown together.

Then there was how easily everything wrapped up. The bad guy was defeated with absolute ease. More than once problems were overcome almost miraculously. Nix being able to call in a favour based on winning the office raffle the year before, for example. Thats handy. Cal was given his prize and avoided a fate worse than death despite technically not completing his quest. Then in the end Nix rails at her father for three or four minutes and manages to convince him to change the rules that have been in effect for, presumably, millennia. I seem to recall stubbornness being a trait of the gods. Plus, these were pantheon-wide rules, so they effected everyone, not just her. It was just too easy.

Now I know I’ve bitched a lot. I was annoyed by the end of the book. But as I said it was well written. There were some really fun characters. I especially liked Zeph and Devlin. I’m not discouraging anyone from reading it. Heck I might even pick up the sequel if I come across it. I enjoyed the read, just not every aspect of the book.

Review of A Blood Seduction, by Pamela Palmer

A Blood Seduction

I downloaded Pamela Palmer‘s A Blood Seduction from the Amazon KDP list. At the time of posting it was still free. (Plus, if you follow the link to her website you’ll find a contest to win a signed copy.)

Description from Goodreads:
Take me down to Vampire City…

Vampires live only for lust and pleasure in the eternal twilight of Vamp City. But the city’s magic is dying. The only person who can restore it? A beautiful woman from the mortal world…one who knows nothing of the power she wields.

Quinn Lennox is searching for a missing friend when she stumbles into a dark otherworld that only she can see—and finds herself at the mercy of Arturo Mazza, a dangerously handsome vampire whose wicked kiss will save her, enslave her, bewitch her, and betray her. What Arturo can’t do is forget about her—any more than Quinn can control her own feelings for him. Neither one can let desire get in the way of their mission—his to save his people, hers to save herself. But there is no escape from desire in a city built for seduction, where passion flows hot and blood-red.

Welcome to Vamp City…

Review:

I’ve had this book on my Goodreads wish-to-read list for a while because it’s raved about and tops quite a few Must-Read listopia lists. So, when I saw it come up on the KDP free list I grabbed it. Honestly, I’m not seeing what everyone loves so much.

It’s like one long, protracted rape scene. It felt like every vampire and trader in Vamp City must be walking around with a hard-on all day, constantly on the lookout for any female that they are somehow obligated to assault on sight. Seriously, I don’t think the book goes 5 pages without someone being molested in some fashion. People are killed, tortured and raped endlessly in this book.But this seems to be a fate reserved solely for women. Are horrible, psychopathic vampires really so picky? The reader is forced to confront women being literally ripped apart, drained dry, burned, beaten, raped by a penis wrapped in a barbed sheath, as well as just raped en masse and on display, fondled, molested, humiliated and intimidated non-stop (and I mean that almost literally. It is the backdrop of the novel), but only one man was embarrassed because he had to show his bits in an auction and one man was hunted for sport. That’s pretty much the complete list of male victims in the book.

I know rape is a pretty common motivator in fiction. It’s also used fairly common to ensure the reader knows bad guys are really bad, but I just couldn’t take a whole society based on it. I found reading this book extremely uncomfortable, and I read for fun. This was not fun for me. 

Then there is Arturo and Quinn’s relationship. There is a constant back and forwards between them in which he says he ‘I want you’, she counters with ‘as a slave,’ he then counters her with ‘no, in my bed.’ Now this wouldn’t be so horrible except that she’s his slave either way. He owns her.  There is no indication that (or even social process by which) she could be anything but a slave in Vamp City. So, there’s a mixed emotional message being sent here. She’s supposed to somehow accept that his wanting to make her a sex slave, as opposed to say a scullery maid, is somehow better or even acceptable. Here’s a direct quote about his thoughts on the matter,”If only he could make her a simple slave and keep her, always, in his house. In his bed.” Yea, he’s not looking for a wife or an equal, just a slave. Lets also not forget that he’s not even offering exclusivity. She’d be one of 4.

Then there is the way this is all cloaked in the illusion of choice. She knows it’s and illusion, but she’s falling for it all the same. She has no power, no control and no other options. Personally, I’d rather call a spade a spade and get on with it. Yea, I’m so not getting what people love so much about this book.

A lesser disappointment, though still a disappointment, is Quinn’s reunion with Zack. He’s essentially her sole motivation. She spends 90% of the book trying to rescue him. Are we, the reader, given a heartfelt reunion? No. Just a ‘go away Quinn.’ Such a let down. Sadly though, having finished it I find myself left with a morbid desire to read the second just to see if it could possibly be as bad. How misguided it that?

I wish I used star ratings on this blog so I could give the book a one star…except I still probably wouldn’t. I really want to. I disliked it that much. But dislike it as I might the writing was still alright and it was still well edited enough to deserve better than a one star. That doesn’t make me feel better about it though.