Fire and Bone Blitz

Fire and Bone
Rachel A. Marks
(Otherborn #1)
Publication date: February 20th 2018
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult

Music that helped inspire the book here!

“Gossip Girl meets Percy Jackson in the glitz and grit of L.A….”

In Hollywood’s underworld of demigods, druids, and ancient bonds, one girl has a dangerous future.

Sage is eighteen, down on her luck, and struggling to survive on the streets of Los Angeles. Everything changes the night she’s invited to a party—one that turns out to be a trap.

Thrust into a magical world hidden within the City of Angels, Sage discovers that she’s the daughter of a Celtic goddess, with powers that are only in their infancy. Now that she is of age, she’s asked to pledge her service to one of the five deities, all keen on winning her favor by any means possible. She has to admit that she’s tempted—especially when this new life comes with spells, Hollywood glam, and a bodyguard with secrets of his own. Not to mention a prince whose proposal could boost her rank in the Otherworld.

As loyalties shift, and as the two men vie for her attention, Sage tries to figure out who to trust in a realm she doesn’t understand. One thing’s for sure: the trap she’s in has bigger claws than she thought. And it’s going to take a lot more than magic for this Celtic demigoddess to make it out alive.

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I try to hide my shivering as I wait before the altar, in my position as the Bonding begins. Around me, shadows dance over the cairn walls from the restless flames licking up the ram’s body—the sacrifice on the pyre behind me—and the smell of sweat and burnt flesh smother the smoky air.

The King of Ravens paints an alarming image, standing almost naked across from me on the other side of the blood circle. He wears the corona radiata, the golden laurel-leafed crown, on his head of onyx hair. His short beard is neatly trimmed, combed with lavender oil for the ceremony. His sharp silver eyes study me beneath a heavy brow.

I try not to think about the past. Or future. I try not to think about what those hard hands will feel like on my skin when he seals this Bond.

I study the stone floor rather than look in those metallic eyes. I feel them on me, though, the same way they have been for the fortnight I’ve been here preparing for the ceremony. He hasn’t touched me; he’s only brought me gifts and insisted I sit with him beside the greatfire in the evening before he goes out for his hunt. Sometimes I smell him in the hallway outside my rooms. But he never comes in, thank the goddess. The scent of blood is heavy on him in those moments. I’m not sure what I would’ve done if he’d attempted anything.

After this is done, it won’t matter. My bed will be his. As will my life.

A druid walks back and forth behind me, tossing rosemary and lavender onto the pyre after each stanza of his spell. He calls to the wind from the east, he calls to the waters in the west, and he pulls the spirit of flame and earth into the cairn with us, asking the Penta to approve the Bond set to be made between the two most powerful Houses, as he pleads for a blessing from our mothers, Brighid and Morrígan, and thanks the Cast for their permission to seal the Bond between the two very different powers.

A female druid comes to my side with bowl and brush, beginning to paint my skin in blue woad, tracing patterns of knots and runes across my back, then baring my chest and continuing.

The king’s gaze follows the woman’s strokes, and when she’s finished, he raises his chin at me in approval but says nothing. What does he see when he looks at me? My wild copper hair? My simple features? The awkward birthmark just above my heart? I’m round of cheek and hips and not much of a beauty. But however I look to him, I will belong to him.

Determination is set in hard lines on his face, and I wonder if the torque on his neck is working properly. I can see his dark energy lifting in silver and black curls over his shoulders now. It should be tight inside his skin, as mine is. The iron shackle should be holding it in place so that we don’t harm each other in the first merging, before we can get used to the feel of each other’s powers.

The female druid moves to the king next and begins painting the woad in circles over his torso. The druid chanting behind me recites the final section of his spell, walking the ram’s-blood circle painted on the floor. He holds a rowan stick aloft, flicking rosewater over the king and then me as he passes by, mumbling, “A price paid, a covenant sealed, in earth and blood and ash, in spirit and flesh and fire.”

The price is my will, my soul, in payment for the life of the human prince that I took.

In the center of the circle, between the king and me, is an altar with two bowls set atop, one full of salt, one full of rye.

The iron union dagger rests between them.

I stare at it, imagining the blade cutting into my flesh. And I can’t help when my gaze moves to the king. I want to blink and make this moment a dream, perhaps find myself in the thicket with Lailoken, among the bluebells in the Caledonian wood.

I should run from this son of Morrígan, deny him, deny our mothers, and let the world burn. But my heart twists at the thought. I was running from duty when fate took my heart from me, when the prince succumbed to my fire’s will. It was the childish notion of freedom that tore him from me.

Now it’s time to accept my punishment for allowing the humans to glimpse our world. Time to atone.

The druid’s voice fills the room again. “When moon gives birth to stars,” he says, in a droning hum, flicking more rosewater over us with the rowan stick, “let this Bond be sealed in blood.”

My skin prickles with fear as the king takes the cue, reaching out to pick up the ceremonial dagger by the leather-wrapped hilt. I focus on not moving, not making a sound, as I watch him bring the blade to his chest, tip pricking his left breast. A drop of crimson pearls up at the spot.

With a slow hiss of breath, he cuts across.

Dark blood slides down his abdomen in a thick swath of red. “My blood with yours,” he says. And he turns the knife, holding out the hilt for me.

My hands clench into fists at my side, and I force my shaking limbs to still.

I breathe in slowly again. Then I reach out, taking the ceremonial dagger from him, careful not to touch his fingers.

I pretend not to care about the cage I’m about to be locked in. About the pain in my soul from loss, from the goddess Brighid abandoning me to this darkness, pain from the reality of everything in front of me.

I press the tip of the blade to the center of my chest, the point breaking the skin. I look into the silver eyes of the king in front of me. And consider my fate.

One deep plunge to the heart and the pain will end. One plunge.




Author Bio:

Rachel A. Marks is a cancer survivor, a writer and artist, a surfer and dirt-bike rider, chocolate lover and keeper of faerie secrets. Her four kids and amazing hubby put up with her nerdiness with tremendous grace, even when she makes them watch Buffy or Smallville re-runs for days on end. She was voted: Most Likely To Survive A Zombie Apocalypse, but hopes she’ll never have to test the theory.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest



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Studying Religion: An Introduction Through Cases by Gary Kessler


Title: Studying Religion: An Introduction Through Cases

Author: Gary E. Kessler

Published: November 9th, 2007

Rating: 3/5 stars


Through the use of thought-provoking case studies, summaries, and review questions, this introductory level text shows students how to engage in the academic, objective study of religion and helps instructors address some of the typical problems they encounter when introducing students to the study of religion. Kessler guides students through an unbiased and varied study of religious beliefs and practices such as sacred power, myths and rituals, religious art, the problem of evil, and the relationship between religion and morality. The text also addresses issues of gender and religious institutionalization.


Okay, I’ve never written a review for a non fiction book before so we’ll see how this goes. Hopefully its still useful? Also, full disclosure, I did not read every chapter of this book, only the ones that I was assigned in class.


I tend to avoid non fiction like the plague and then inevitably be shocked when I actually like it, something that happens more often than not let’s be honest. This one was not an exception. I didn’t love it but I definitely didn’t hate it. I read this for a college level religion class and this book was perfect for that! It explains some difficult concepts and different parts of religion in a way that isn’t difficult to understand, even if you go into it with next to no knowledge of religion like I did (I had a very basic understanding of some of America’s popular religions).

Although there were parts of it that kind of dragged or didn’t interest me as much as others, I also learned a bunch of cool religion facts that I had absolutely no knowledge of whatsoever. For instance there’s Jainism a religion I had never even heard of before reading this book that I now know at least a little bit about. It stuck with me in particular because of how important ahisma is to them. Ahisma basically meaning nonviolence, so that those who practice Jainism are vegetarians and take care not to harm insects or sometimes even microorganisms living on their skin. I’m sure that there is much more to it than that, but I was glad to learn about it at all because I feel like its a wonderful reminder of kindness. The book also goes into some less pleasant aspects of religion such as cults, which, although I’d rather not dwell on them here, I also gained a better understanding of.

If you’re interested in learning about all the different religions around the world then this probably isn’t the right fit, but for me personally I think that the information it provided was almost more valuable than a book like that would have been because I left it with a better sense of what makes up religion and how to tell it apart from other similar things.


Books I Stopped Loving

I’m sure everyone has a few of these, books that you used to love or at least liked a lot that you try to read again and can’t stand at all. For me it’s the Warriors series (which I still think is pretty great) and the House of Night series (I really would have to say that Twilight is better written).


Why I loved it:

  • Talking cats
  • Talking warrior cats!!!
  • The relationship between the cats and the different clans
  • The names are cute (I gave my cat a nickname based on them for a short while)

Why I can’t love it anymore

I’ll go ahead and tell you straight up that I still reread the first book in this series every now and then and they still make me happy because I remember how much I used to love them. But now that I’m older the dialogue tags really drive me crazy.  I really enjoy the descriptions in Into the Wild, as well as the others from what I can remember, there tends to be a great mix of action and description that never fails to keep me interested. The dialogue is a different story and it’s become a bit of a deal breaker for me. It’s like the authors who write the series sat down together and decided that “said” is a dirty word that should be avoided at all costs.

“No, Redtail. Thunderclan will never be beaten!” Tigerclaw yowled back, leaping to Redtail’s side.

The gray cat dipped her head in greeting. “How is Mousefur?” she meowed.

I don’t even want to count the number of times “meowed” is used as a dialogue tag. If it was an occasional thing it wouldn’t bother me at all but its constant enough that it prevents me from having any real interest in getting back into reading this series. It doesn’t seem like it really bothers anyone else all that much, but I actually like it when authors use “said” as the default and other dialogue tags on occasion. It makes it feel more professional and real. That being said if you haven’t already read it I still would highly suggest it because the characters are very likeable and the world itself is very interesting.

30183Why I loved it:

  • Vampire school
  • Cool tattoos and magic powers
  • ???

Why I don’t like it anymore

I think the only reason why I liked this so much when I first read it is because I was young and when you’re young you sometimes want to be the most special. The main character is the “most special” and I would like to have some of her abilities, but looking back she has too many. Even from the book’s description this becomes a bit too obvious, for starters she “learns that she is no average fledgling” andShe has been Marked as special by the vampyre Goddess Nyx and has affinities for all five elements: Air, Fire Water, Earth and Spirit.” Once I went back and actually reread this book a few years back I remembered that this was only the tip of the iceberg. Before she even goes to the school she receives a special mark from the goddess that they aren’t supposed to receive until they’re older, all of the boys I can remember thought she was nothing short of amazing and she becomes even more special throughout the series (saying too much more about that would be kinda spoilery so I won’t go there). Basically she can do no wrong and the entire plot seems based around showing off her skills. By itself that might not have actually made me hate the book, but I have problems with the writing as well. Other reviews have expressed doubts that the authors are familiar with teenagers and I have to mirror those thoughts here. They don’t talk like teenagers, the main character doesn’t think like a teenager and they have much more drama then I ever experienced in high school. You start to get a feel for this by the end of the first page so I’ll just leave a snippet of it here for your consideration (and for me to be mad at when I look at it later). It’s not a better love story than Twilight.

“Just when I thought my day couldn’t get any worse I saw the dead guy standing next to my locker. Kayla was talking nonstop in her usual K-babble, and she didn’t even notice him. At first. Actually, now that I think about it, no one else noticed him until he spoke, which is, tragically, more evidence of my freakish inability to fit in.”

I’m tempted to go back and read it again but if you’re looking for a good YA vampire novel I recommend skipping this one and reading something else instead. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black is one of my personal favorites though it doesn’t have the same magic elements as this one.



Getting Excited About Spinning Silver

This news is a little bit older by now, but I’m super hyped about Naomi Novik’s upcoming novel Spinning Silver. It’s inspired by Rumpelstiltskin and is supposed to come out July 10th of this year. Her previous fairy-tale inspired novel, Uprooted, was an instant favorite of mine and I can’t recommend it enough. Not to mention just look at these covers!!!


“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.



Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders… but her father isn’t a very good one. Free to lend and reluctant to collect, he has loaned out most of his wife’s dowry and left the family on the edge of poverty–until Miryem steps in. Hardening her heart against her fellow villagers’ pleas, she sets out to collect what is owed–and finds herself more than up to the task. When her grandfather loans her a pouch of silver pennies, she brings it back full of gold.

But having the reputation of being able to change silver to gold can be more trouble than it’s worth–especially when her fate becomes tangled with the cold creatures that haunt the wood, and whose king has learned of her reputation and wants to exploit it for reasons Miryem cannot understand.


I’m planning on reading her other series Temeraire sometime this year too so if you’ve read it I’d love to know what you think of it! Rather than a fairy-tale retelling its an alternate history series with dragons (my ultimate weakness). You can check out the first one, His Majesty’s Dragon, here on Goodreads

You can read an excerpt of the new novel here on the Verge! Let me know what you think! I’ve read it and I’m already quite obsessed.