Book Review: The Curse Merchant by JP Sloan

The Curse Merchant (The Dark Choir #1)The Curse Merchant by J.P. Sloan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dorian Lake has an unusual job. He sells hexes and charms to people who feel they need a bit of help from the magical side of things. For the last couple of years, however, he’s been having a bit of a slump. Following a devastating break up with his girlfriend, he began to neglect his clients, ignore his friends and kept a less-than-watchful eye on the rental properties he owns. It isn’t until a confrontation with a gun-wielding disgruntled client that he realizes how much he has let things slide. Determined to get back in the game, Dorian begins to work on getting new clients, reconnecting with his friends and learning what he can about the Mage who seems to have cornered the Baltimore market while Dorian was moping around.

Lake makes for a great protagonist. He’s smart, witty and more-than-a-bit charming, though he can be a jerk at times, too. His saving grace there is that he has the self-awareness to know he’s a jerk and a genuine desire to set things right. Too bad for him that most of his efforts to do so end up backfiring on him, always costing him something and sometimes at a very high price.

This is the first book in what promises to be a really good series. Dorian is really quite a bit of fun, and the side characters are all well-written and three-dimensional. The magical world Sloan has created is unique – magic can be built on someone’s karma, which helps mitigate blowback, or it can be crafted with dark energies that are very dangerous to mess with. Dorian is committed to using only karmic magic, though after he’s tricked into giving up something quite precious, the dark side begins to look more tempting. It will be interesting to see how far Dorian may end up falling – and if he’s able to save himself before he meets a grisly fate.

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Trump’s Campaign (already??) Rally…

Craigslist ad purporting to offer payment for people going to Trump rallySome common sense thoughts on the Craigslist ad floating around purporting to pay people for showing up at Trump’s Florida “campaign event.”

In particular:

First off, there have been a tremendous amount of unverified claims from both the left and the right that supporters/protesters are being paid to show up to political events. These claims have been made since the beginning of the last election, since Donald Trump descended down his escalator, and not one instance has been proven.

[…]

However, in this case, overtly saying they’re going to pay supporters with gift cards and cash vouchers, at a very public event, is so incredibly dumb it can’t possibly be real.

Most importantly, it’s impossible to know if this ad is real or fake without attending this Saturday’s rally, which we will be doing. And if we see people getting paid to go this rally, we’ll let you know. To be honest, that would be an amazing story.

There are also rumors being circulated that this rally is actually a plot to make Trump protesters look like violent thugs with agitators prepared to attend the rally and stir up trouble. Unless someone has actually seen evidence of such plotting, though, it’s hard to know if it’s true or not. I think skepticism is warranted here as well.

The suggested way of dealing with this is for peaceful protesters to hold their counter-event some distance from the rally itself. While that certainly sounds reasonable, it won’t do anything to stop agent provocateurs from causing trouble in the name of the Resistance movement, and it could render any protest more-or-less invisible, since it will be out of sight of both the Trump supporters and the media. If one were given to conspiracy-style thinking, one might be concerned that this could be propaganda from Trump supporters to help minimize the appearance of dissent, but I wouldn’t know about that…

Don’t Panic

Mental illness and gunsI’ve been seeing this article getting passed around on social media, but the situation isn’t as alarming as some think. The bottom line is that the rule they want to repeal went into effect in December of last year – only 10 weeks ago. Even if the regulation is repealed, anyone who would would have been blocked from buying a gun 3 months ago will still be blocked from buying one.

As for the rule itself, what it did was require Social Security to notify the FBI of anyone receiving disability checks who had been determined to be too mentally ill to manage their own affairs, so that they could be flagged during background checks. While this would make it easier to make sure they don’t fall through the cracks, we will still have all of the other ways we’ve used to screen out the mentally ill from gun ownership. That won’t be changing.

So, yes, it’s a good regulation, but it’s repeal won’t mean that we’ll suddenly be flooded with mentally ill people buying guns unchecked or anything like that. It’ll just be going back to how we handled it as of November.