Cover Reveal: Elizabeth Hunter’s “The Staff and the Blade”

This will come as a shock to no one, but I’m pretty excited about Elizabeth Hunter’s next release.

“The Staff and the Blade” is the newest in her Irin Chronicles, and it steps away from Malachi and Ava and concentrates on Damien and Sari. I’ve been following the development of this story as Elizabeth’s been posting about it on social media, and you guys! I am already buying stock in Kleenex in preparation. I think Ms. Hunter is going to rip my heart out and stomp on it a little.


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Warriors. Lovers. Enemies. Legends.

The Staff and the Blade

Damien and Sari. Their union became pivotal in Irin history. But to understand their ending, you must go back to the beginning. A young singer and a hardened warrior meet and mate, but their life is torn apart by violence, betrayal, and grief.

Yet no matter how much pain and anger stain their lives, bonds in the Irin race cannot be abandoned. Damien and Sari will never truly leave each other, because those who are destined cannot be ignored.

The Staff and the Blade is a novel in four parts. It is the fourth book in the Irin Chronicles.

“She hates me as she loves me. Wholly and completely. Sari never does anything by halves.”

Wattpad readers: Read the first novella in The Staff and the Blade: DREAMS in serial format. A brand new chapter will post every Thursday until the final book releases. Please visit: for more information.


“You’re calling me naive?”

“Yes.” She leaned forward. “You may be older than me, but you’re still the noble Irin warrior of ages past. This world is not black and white. It never has been.”

“You think I don’t know that?”

“You think every scribe has a conscience and a code of honor because you do.”

He looked away from her.

“Not every scribe is noble. Not every Irin wants the Irina back. Not every one of your brothers would sacrifice himself to protect me or any of my sisters.”

“I know I’m no saint. None of us are.”

“No, you’re honorable. And decent. And good.”


“And I love that about you,” she continued, even as her throat started to close. “I love your honor. I love your decency. But Damien, the world is not like that. It’s a hard, cruel place with countless shades of grey. People are selfish and weak. We do things…” She choked. “We do horrible things because we think it’s the only way to survive.”

Damien turned back to her. “There is nothing you can do that would make me love you less, Sari.”

She gave him a bitter smile. “That’s because you don’t know what I’ve done.”
Copyright 2016, Elizabeth Hunter
All rights reserved.




Anyway. You’re really here for the cover and that thumbnail up there didn’t do it for you, did it. Let’s get on with it. It is so gorgeous. Those shoulders. Those forearms. The tattoos. I am totally judging this book by the cover.

The Staff and the Blade - Ebook Small


You know you want it almost as much as I do, don’t you? Well here you go.

Pre-Order Links








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40 Before 40 – Update the Second

The first couple months of my fortieth year have been a little on the rough side. I was sick in March, and then I herniated a disc earlier this month, which has really cut into the activities I was planning – the hot hatha, pole dancing, and barre classes.

Because life is constantly in flux, I may do some switching around. I’ve been cleared for pilates but not yoga; walking but not running; and swimming but not pole dancing. (To be fair, I didn’t ask about pole dancing. It just seems like maybe that’s not something this gazelle wants to try while rehabbing a back.)

So I’ll try a pilates class instead of the hot hatha class I was going to do. I’ll walk a 5K in May instead of run one. It’s all about compromise.

I’m sure by now you’re wondering if I got anything done in the last month.

I most certainly did!

I ate a cheese. That’s right – I go for the hard stuff. (heh.)

Sleeping Beauty

Sleeping Beauty

I’m 2/2 in cheeses/month!

I also finished my first award winning book (and then reviewed it!): Evernight.


I’m very nearly finished with my second, so I should be back on track with that by the end of the week.

One of the more exciting things I got to check off the list in April was meeting friend in the computer Elizabeth Hunter. You may remember Elizabeth from my frequent reviews of her books. We got to meet and hang out a lot while we were both in Vegas for the 2016 RT Booklovers convention. She is just as wonderful IRL as she is via the internets.

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The next month will have more books and more cheese and more pie! I also need to make my hard cheese so it can sit in the cheese cave and age gracefully. I’m signed up for my Habitat for Humanity build, but am contemplating pushing that back (ha!) because of my disc problem. I’m going to get my hairs done all purty-like to check that off the list. And it’s possible that going to a concerty show thingie counts for an item on the lists since I almost never go to those types of things. Possibly.

The #40before40 project

Update the first – March 2016



How am I doing with my 2016 goals, you (almost certainly did not) ask:

Well, the big ones:


  1. More sleep – after the four days of no sleep at all in March (you guys! I started hallucinating!), things seem great in comparison. Still not as good as I’d like, but better than they have been.
  2. More writing – Yeah….I need to get my ass in gear here. I have things to do and people to impress.
  3. More movement – stupid sick and messed up back!
  4. More job satisfaction – no comment. 🙂


  1. More water – YES! I am a hydrated water monster! (Or something)
  2. More gin – I’ve been doing well here, too. I love the taste of success.
  3. More love – I think this is doing quite well.
  4. More laughter – There have been some decent laughs. I have the best friends, y’all!
  5. More time outdoors with the Bean – We’re two blocks from a park now! And we planted a garden! And my back yard is fenced in (although not kid proof – he loves to leave the back yard and come through the house to freak me out)
  6. More unicorns – I am wearing these RIGHT NOW!  13043390_10154218257939410_1189946415125501668_n
  7. More letting shit go – Still a work in progress
  8. More reading – Not more, per se, but I still read a fair amount.
  9. More cheese – YES! my #40before40 is helping immensely with this
  10. More beer & cribbage nights – I need to work harder on this. I think there’s only been one cribbage night this year so far…slackers!


Happy Blogiversary to Gazelles on Crack!

Just over ten years ago (ten years and a couple weeks), I published my very first post on this blog.

Gazelles on Crack is turning 10!

Gazelles on Crack is turning 10!

I’d been blogging for a while – first on Xanga (gosh, it’s really too bad that I am unable to locate those posts…too bad indeed) and then later on LiveJournal. That apparently does still exist. I even appear to still have ten friends left on LJ.

I don’t remember why I decided to switch over to my own blogging platform. Probably because so many cool people blogged and I thought I’d give it a shot. I’m certainly not as prolific now as I was ten years ago. I don’t even get the readership that I got ten years ago. But we’re still at it, even now.

In the past ten years, I’ve written 1,676 posts and received 7,123 comments.

I’ve written 480 posts about running and 173 about gin and cheese. That’s even more than the 166 posts I’ve written about my kid. (Gotta have priorities!)

Running and Bubbles!

Running and Bubbles!

I’ve written 100 posts about books, including book reviews and 158 about shoes.

book it

My posts are fairly evenly balanced (according to my tag cloud) among

  • Alvie Bean
  • Book Reviews
  • Exercise
  • Goals
  • Running
  • Shoes
It was my friend Margaret's Prada pumps that really got me hooked on beautiful shoes. Damn you, Margaret!

It was my friend Margaret’s Prada pumps that really got me hooked on beautiful shoes. Damn you, Margaret!

You’ve been here for my move from Los Angeles to Portland, for my wedding, for my adventures in domestic bad-assery and gardening, for the death of my father and the birth of my son, and for my next big adventure of moving out on my own sans architect.

Toasting the new house with an extravagant bottle of bubbly. #40before40

Toasting the new house with an extravagant bottle of bubbly. #40before40

Maybe you’re one of the readers who got here via a random internet search? Although the most popular search term on the day I’m writing this is “toe prosthetic”(?), the top ten overall search terms (that are not my actual blog name) are:

  1. Anthropophobia (still relevant – I’ll catch you up on Day 2 of Vegas: The Hiding soon)
  2. Spiders (legit)
  3. No Sleeping (It’s like you know me, google search engine!)
  4. Early Pr0n (Early in the morning? Pre-modern? Are we hoping for medieval pr0n? I NEED MORE INFORMATION!)
  5. Christina Ricci
  6. Dirty Hippie
  7. Beach Wedding Shoes
  8. Unicorn Bicycle
  9. I Suck
  10. The toaster is very loyal (This is my favorite)


Most of the rest of the top are variations on pr0ns and shoes (or combinations thereof. Like Salvadorian Shoe Pr0n.)

Must insert own pr0n

Must insert own pr0n

This may be less relevant, but the top three search terms for the last quarter are:

  1. Unicorn cut a bitch
  2. Accidental cleavage
  3. Cat maid outift
I actually thought this image search was going to be mainly cats. HAHAHAHA! No.

I actually thought this image search was going to be mainly cats. HAHAHAHA! No.

I approve of Google sending all of you my way. Welcome. Pull up a chair and pour yourself a gin.

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The top five posts ever are pretty much what you’d expect after seeing the popular search terms.

  1. Arach Attack!
  2. Anthropophobia
  3. Faux-lebrity Encounter
  4. (Spring Trends in) PR0N!!!; and oddly
  5. Product Review – Moji Knee Ice Pack

Disappointingly, none of my book reviews are more compelling than fear, fake Jennifer Grey, shoes, or (???) ice packs, although my 2015 wrap-up is pretty far up the list…

The best, really, are the friends I’ve made via blogging. There is no way to name them all, of course, but a few that I’ll mention are Eliza, Claire, Meri, Steph, Kristine, Jessica, Erika, Amy, the PBRs, and certainly not least, my PSM Cat. Through Cat I’ve met a lot of other people, and the network keeps expanding and expanding.

This is my bff, Thor the Thunder thug. And also my psm, Cat. She is not, as far as I know, the thunder anything.

This is my bff, Thor the Thunder thug. And also my psm, Cat. She is not, as far as I know, the thunder anything.

So thanks, readers.  Thanks for ten years of reading, commenting, sending me pictures of shoes, helping me discover new books and authors and websites that will help me waste time, and most of all for sharing my life.

Thanks for a great 10 years!

Thanks for a great 10 years!





Book It! Eidolon by Grace Draven

A few days ago, I was kickin’ it writer style at the RT Convention in Las Vegas when I got a FB message from Grace Draven asking if I was interested in an ARC of Eidolon. After taking the time to be grateful that she couldn’t hear me squee through the internets, I replied that of course I would be happy to get one. And there went the rest of that day. And night. And a bit of the next day.

If you haven’t read the first book in her Wraith Kings series, get thee to Amazon and Kindle that shit immediately. (I know that technically Kindle isn’t a verb in this sense, but lower-case kindle is, so just roll with it.)

I had been counting the days for this book release. I’ve read and re-read Radiance, I’ve listened to Radiance, I’ve made sacrifices to the dark gods.

And the wait and human sacrifice were totally worth it. Eidolon was brilliant.

The Blurb
In a bid for more power, the Shadow Queen of Haradis has unleashed a malignant force into the world. Her son Brishen, younger prince of the Kai royal house, suddenly finds himself ruler of a kingdom blighted by a diseased darkness and on the brink of war. His human wife Ildiko must decide if she will give up the man she loves in order to secure his throne.

Three enemy kingdoms must unite to save each other, and a one-eyed, reluctant king must raise an army of the dead to defeat an army of the damned.

A tale of alliance and sacrifice.

The Cover
eidolon cover

The Review
I was already very attached to the main characters – Brishen, the spare Kai prince and his human wife Ildiko. Their marriage was one of politics, uniting two disparate peoples with extra royals they had lying about. Each species finds the other rather abhorrent. From their looks to their eating habits, they are really and truly very different. Brishen and Ildiko managed to look past that, though, and not only found a way to reach alliance, they found partnership and love.

Happily settled far, far away from the main Kai palace, home to Brishen’s family including his rather evil mother, their future is looking pretty darn good.

Until of course the aforementioned evil mother decides to level up. A horde of unstoppable demons are unleashed on the land – starting in the royal palace – and they destroy everything in their wake.
As the only surviving member of the royal family, Brishen must not only save his country, but become a king – and no Kai king can have a human wife.

The Wrap-Up
This book kept my heart rate up and my ass on the edge of the chair. I read a lot of wonderful fantasy authors, and if you don’t have world-building skills, you don’t rate high on my list. Grace gets double points for not only setting her world up magnificently, but doing it from scratch.

I have the feels for Brishen and Ildiko and I was really, really worried about them while reading.

I enjoy the way Grace is able to portray not just the romantic relationship between our two main characters, but also their partnership and friendship. Anhuset, Brishen’s cousin, is perhaps one of my favorite characters in the book and I just want to get drinks with her and talk about men and weapons.

Grace does such a good job of making complete characters – not just the main characters, but those that, while important for the purposes of the story, are not ever going to step into leading roles; at least not in this series.

The only thing that I have trouble with is keeping track of everyone. To be fair, I’m pretty crap at names in real life, even when I’ve met a person a dozen times, so to expect myself to keep track of characters in a book is probably pushing it.

The Quote
Grace is such a beautiful writer that it was hard to keep this narrowed down. In the end, the following really hit me right in the old feelers.

“If you were granted one wish, what would you wish for?” he whispered.
She swallowed hard past the knot of tears lodged in her throat and blinked hard to clear them from her vision. “I wish…” She inhaled and started again. “I wish for you to grow old with me.”

RIGHT? Who’s cutting onions in here?

The Verdict
Go. Go forth and read. You will not be sorry.

The Disclaimer
I received a free advanced reading copy of Eidolon, which in no way influenced my review. I’ve since also paid for a copy, because that cover, amiright?

Four Years with Alvie Bean

My dearest Alvie Bean (“I am NOT a bean, I am a BOY!”),

You are four years old today. Finally, finally after weeks and months of anticipating your birthday, your transition into FINALLY being a really big boy, the day is here.

You’ve been telling people you were 3 & 7/8 for quite a while. It was hilarious.

Now, you’re definitely almost a grown-up.

Month 37 (April 2015)

Sometimes I wonder if you spend too much time with the cats

You are a near-constant delight and a near-constant challenge. The older you get, the less I blog about you, because you are becoming an actual person and not a mere extension of me.

You did, however, do your best to live up to the reputation that three-year-olds have for being tiny demon monkeys. There were days that I threatened to sell you on the internet. There were other, much worse days, that I threatened to pin a $20 bill to your collar and just leave you in a park.

But for every day that you drove me absolutely crazy, there was another day that you melted my heart.

First Day of Preschool! Lightning McQueen was for moral support.

First Day of Preschool! Lightning McQueen was for moral support.

You are the stereotypical boy. You love cars and trucks and trains and getting extremely filthy. I think I could bathe and sterilize you and drop you in a clean room, and you’d come out looking like Pig Pen in less than 15 minutes. It’s a gift, really.

Not a clean room.

Not a clean room.

You are inquisitive and smart and not nearly as reckless as I would’ve guessed you’d be. Not yet, anyway. You love playing legos and trains and watching TV shows about lego trains. You have a temper, though. Oh my, do you have a temper.

But you know what? You’ve never lost it in public. Maybe in front of friends, but never in the grocery store, or Target, or anywhere else that would’ve been difficult to remove you from the situation.

The calm down jar is my greatest craft achievement. GLITTER GLUE!

The calm down jar is my greatest craft achievement. GLITTER GLUE!

I was never sure if your affinity for gardening was more about your delight in watching new plants grow or because it gave you one more way to get dirty.

Planting M&M's is not advised.

Planting M&M’s is not advised.

You loved watching your watermelons grow, though. You watered them and talked to them and tickled them almost daily as encouragement to grow. And boy, did they! We ended up with only one edible watermelon (the others cracked early on), but it was a good one. And so delicious!

I carried a watermelon!

I carried a watermelon!

As you know, Halloween is my favorite holiday. It is entirely my goal to make sure that it’s yours, too. So far, I’m a bit skeptical because you refuse to wear all of the costume pieces I painstakingly make and buy and put together so you can live your costumed dream.

Regardless, you’re still the cutest, even if you wouldn’t wear the polar bear head OR the Captain Barnacles hat. I guess blue pajamas and an Octocompass are all you need to be a sea-captain, though.

Together, we are Captain Barnacles.

Together, we are Captain Barnacles.

One of the biggest frustrations for me (and probably for you, too) is your insistence on eating only about five foods. I guess I should count my lucky stars that you will eat just about any fruit, but I’d be delighted if we could expand your food choices a bit. Fortunately, after a serious discussion last week, you agreed that once you turned four, you’d eat what everyone else at the table was eating. It can’t always be grilled cheese sandwiches. (I would happily eat grilled cheese sandwiches every day for the rest of my life if it could be.) It’s always an exciting day when you voluntarily try a new food, and my heart grew three sizes when you agreed to try lefse (and you LIKED it!) at the Scandinavian festival.

Cutest Norwegian gnome ever!

Cutest Norwegian gnome ever!

You had such a fabulous holiday season. I think this was the first year you really got what was going on. You helped me decorate the tree and helped me shop for Christmas presents for your dad. And when it was FINALLY Christmas, you had such a wonderful time. You got so many fun presents and gave so many fun hugs.

Christmas kisses are the best.

Christmas kisses are the best.

You love playing outside and you love parks. I personally am not much of a park person. They’re pretty boring and the other kids look at me funny when I go down the slides. I try to talk you into participating in other outdoor activities with me, but we haven’t really hit on something you like more than just “playing” (boooring).

Not ready to commit to being a tennis prodigy.

Not ready to commit to being a tennis prodigy.

The older you get, the more wonderful you become. I love snuggling with you, and reading to you, and just hanging out with you. For all your childish thoughtlessness, you are still the sweetest and best kid. When I was sick, you brought me cough drops (and even unwrapped them, which was sweet but maybe not as hygienic as one would hope) and blankets and hugs. For my birthday, you insisted that we go pick out a cake for me. You wanted chocolate, but because that’s not my favorite, you got lemon. You are just fantastic. I don’t know what I’ve done right, so I’m just going to keep on keeping on with everything, because you are turning into a great human being.

My lemon birthday cake. He gave me all his money to pay for it.

My lemon birthday cake. He gave me all his money to pay for it.

The last month has been a rough one for both of us. So many changes. We moved houses and you spend half your time in “Mommy’s new house” and half in “Daddy’s old house.” You’re shuttled back and forth with preschool as the go between. You’ve been a lot more emotional as we adjust to the changes. (Although, to be honest, so have I.) When I cried on our first night in the new house, you asked me why I was crying. I told you I had a lot of emotions. You said, “Mommy, just have one emotion at a time. Then you don’t cry as much.” And you hugged me.

Kid, you are the best.

Goofy, funny, smart, sweet, opinionated, terrific, stubborn, and all around the best boy anyone could ask for. I love you.

"Take my picture!"

“Take my picture!”

Maybe stop growing quite so fast, though. I want you to be small enough to hold for a while longer.

2016-02-27 19.04.51

I’m really sad that I don’t get to see you on your birthday this year, but I’m looking forward to seeing you tomorrow and having a great party on Sunday (vanilla cake, chocolate frosting, and a train on the cake, as ordered.)

I love you.