Category Archives: Jennifer Rardin

Remembering Dan Wheldon & Jennifer Rardin

In my teen years Ferrari, and sometimes McLaren, dominated F1. Bored, I tried out America’s premier open-wheeler series. I didn’t care for the oval tracks, but I liked the road courses and the purpose-built circuits with more than four corners.

The series was CART, later renamed ChampCar, and currently IndyCar. It was on free-to-air Monday nights/Tuesday mornings (Aussie time) on 10, but then 7 bought the V8 coverage, and with them came the US open-wheelers. Never saw IndyCar on the TV scheduling, though, so I stopped following the series.

We later acquired Foxtel’s basic package, and only this year added a sports package. So we get SPEED, which broadcasts IndyCar, but I never remembered to include the races in the planner.

So come the Las Vegas race this past weekend, I wasn’t really a fan, but it was still a blow to learn of Dan Wheldon’s death. He wasn’t in the series during my fan days, yet his name seemed so familiar.

I remembered Jennifer Rardin.

I don’t profess to be a big fan of her work, but what stood out to me was that she was an IndyCar fan. The kind of authors I read aren’t into motorsport, unless maybe NASCAR, so an American open-wheeler fan is a rare gem.

In my early days of book blogging, I conducted author interviews and hosted guests, and I asked Jennifer to share about her love of IndyCar. Her guest blog was posted 14th June 2008.

Her favourite driver was Dan Wheldon.

So Monday was nostalgic for me, remembering Jennifer Rardin and my ChampCar days. This weekend, Mr Wheldon was to have raced on the Gold Coast in Australia – stock cars, not open-wheelers. A few of his fellow IndyCar drivers have withdrawn from the race (the field is to be half regular V8 drivers sharing duties with half from international series). But others will be racing in honour of Mr Wheldon, and a special memorial is scheduled.

So many cars on such a small track at such high speeds. Rumours to start from the back and receive US$5 million if he’d won. And you wonder why I don’t care for oval tracks.

[COVER ART] Vanished (UK) – Kat Richardson; 2 New US Pre-Order Links

Kat Richardson’s Vanished (UK). Original

Rachel Caine: Fade Out (3 Nov 2009)
Megan Hart: Pleasure and Purpose (1 Sep 2009); No Greater Pleasure (6 Oct 2009)

What Kind of Urban Fantasy Hero Are You?

You’re an Urban Fantasy assistant!

You're an Urban Fantasy assistant!

Can you say, Administration? Maybe it’s good that you like to let other people do your work for you. Without bureaucracy our unemployment rate would probably triple. Go you.

What Kind of Urban Fantasy Hero Are You?

[GUEST BLOGGER] Jennifer Rardin

(Image from here.)

People often ask me how my main character, Jaz, and I are alike. In many ways we’re complete opposites. But not when it comes to fast cars.

Jaz and I both adore IndyCar racing. In fact, you may notice that she mentions it from time to time with something of a lustful tone. It’s the speed, man. You get no sense of it when you watch it on TV, which was why I wasn’t hooked until I attended my first race in 1992, about six weeks after giving birth to my son.

My hubby and I lucked into infield tickets, and for a couple of twenty-somethings who never thought we’d get a chance to see the Indy 500 up close and personal, we just couldn’t say no. So one extremely cool morning near the end of May, we dropped our two-year-old off at Grandma’s, tucked the infant into his car seat and the three of us took off for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

(I can hear you gasping from here. “You took a baby to a car race? How could you?”) Easily. Because he had a sleeping disorder called apnoea, which meant he would forget to breathe during his naps, no way would I leave him. So we brought him along with his breathing monitor, and I carried them both under my blue wool cape (because it was so cool). I kept one of his ears pressed to my chest and covered the other with my hand so the loud sounds wouldn’t disturb him. He slept through the whole race, except when he woke up to nurse. I don’t think anybody sitting around me even knew I had a baby with me underneath that enormous cloak of mine, he was that good.

In the meantime, they raced. OMG, what a sight! The speed literally made me dizzy until I learned how to watch them take the corners. To this day I’m still amazed at the dexterity, the athleticism and the professionalism of drivers who can go over two hundred fifteen miles an hour, wheel-to-wheel, without crashing. Yeah, yeah, they do wreck. And when that happens, it’s pretty spectacular. But the astonishing thing to me is how often they don’t. How close they race without touching, the breathtaking passes, the world-record finishes.

And now that open-wheel racing (in the US) has, at last, reunited under one banner, I am as excited as a kid at the circus. New drivers to cheer for. New teams to round out the field. New cars to ooh and aah over. (Although there’s one that I call the John Deere car because it’s exactly the green and yellow you’d expect to see on your neighbour’s lawn mower—somebody should probably tell Aussie Vineyards.) [Tez: Even though they’re not on our flag, green and “gold” – read: yellow – are Australia’s national colours. We’re not so much “Team America: World Police” as we are “Team Australia: Booze & Cars”.]

My fave driver? Dan Wheldon, a British speedster from Emberton who won me over with his steadfast loyalty for the series, his classy remarks regarding his team, and his sharp-edged wit. But the best thing about IndyCar is that there are so many drivers to love. Who hasn’t grinned along with Helio Castroneves as he “Danced with the Stars” or, better yet, climbed the fence after a big win? This year’s Indy 500 winner, New Zealand’s Scott Dixon, has a quiet charm all his own that’ll go straight to your heart. Darren Manning is such a goof you know as soon as he opens his mouth you’re going to crack up. Anthony Foyt, whose year is starting to look as rough as rusty iron, makes you believe cowboys aren’t quite extinct after all – they’re just riding faster horses. And Vitor Meira’s stubborn courage keeps you hoping you’ll be there when he finally gets his first win.

I’ve attended a lot of races since 1992. Every Indy 500 with only two exceptions. Also races in St. Louis, Chicago, Michigan and Kentucky. This year we’re hoping to travel to Nashville for the first time. Nope, I can’t get enough. And I’m not even the biggest fan in the house! Oddly enough, the least interested is our boy, who must’ve got his fill that first year. He outgrew the apnoea at four months and is presently a strapping two hundred-pounder who breathes quite well now, thank you. But the only race he’ll join us at is Indy. That’s cool. Because we’ve got the daughter hooked, and through her the boyfriend. Yup, it’s beginning to be a family tradition!

Relevant Links
Meet Jennifer Rardin

Once Bitten, Twice Shy
Another One Bites the Dust
Biting the Bullet
Bitten to Death
One More Bite

Meet Jennifer Rardin

(Images from here, (Images from here, here, here, here, here and here respectively.)

I used to follow Formula 1 until I realised the corruption, and then had trouble caring. Nowadays F1 isn’t as famous for its racing as for its sideshows: namely Max Mosley’s Nazi-themed orgy with prostitutes. I also watched a mostly American-based open-wheeler series back when it was named CART. Then it changed its name to Champ Car. For those of you celebrity-inclined, Paul Newman put the Newman in Newman/Haas Racing.

Partway through this season, Champ Car merged with author Jennifer Rardin’s favourite series, IndyCar. Yes, in a country where NASCAR is the racing series with the most fans (and its own Harlequin imprint of NASCAR-themed romance novels), our Miz Jen flies the open-wheeler flag. When I learned of this, it immediately made her stand out from all the other urban fantasy writers…and provided an excellent topic for Miz Jen to guest blog about. In this pre-post, here’s her publishing schedule:

Once Bitten, Twice Shy (8th October 2007)
I’m Jaz Parks. My boss is Vayl, born in Romania in 1744. Died there too, at the hand of his vampire wife, Liliana. But that’s ancient history. For the moment Vayl works for the CIA doing what he does best – assassination. And I help. You could say I’m an Assistant Assassin. But then I’d have to kick your ass. Our current assignment seemed easy. Get close to a Miami plastic surgeon named Assan, a charmer with ties to terrorism that run deeper than a buried body. Find out what he’s meeting with that can help him and his comrades bring America to her knees. And then close his beady little eyes forever. Why is it that nothing’s ever as easy as it seems?

Another One Bites the Dust (12th December 2007)
n their latest mission, Jaz and Vayl are sent to kill an ancient Chinese vamp who’s stolen a vital piece of biotechnology. The catch? They’re undercover as street performers…and Jaz has to bellydance.

Biting the Bullet (11th February 2008)
The Raptor, the CIA’s longtime nemesis, is back. Jaz Parks and her vampire boss Vayl are asked to join her brother David’s special ops team to take him down. But when her spirit guide tells her that she’s being lead to the wrong man, and she starts asking the wrong questions, her life – and her job – are threatened. And the one person who can help her – her boss – is off on a wild goose chase. Add to the mix a pack of reavers bent on revenge along with a small army of desert monsters…

Bitten to Death (12th August 2008)
Jaz Parks and her vampire boss, Vayl, have already fought demons, vampires, and reavers. Now, juggling work and family takes on a new dimension as she tackles her latest challenge: nail the Raptor before he can reduce her to Jaz-bits, survive a head-on crash with Vayl’s violent past, and lever her twin’s military career back on track before a dishonourable discharge ruins his life. To top it off, she must also contend with her father’s issues. Is he losing his mind? Or is someone really trying to kill him – from beyond the grave?

One More Bite (5th January 2009)
Jaz and Vayl have been assigned to travel to Inverness to prevent an assassination that has the potential to upset the balance between the west coast vampire nests and allow another Raptor to emerge. In the power vacuum left by Edward “the Raptor” Samos’ death, a struggle for supremacy has begun between his former allies: The Coven of Inverness, the Valencian Weres and The Flock. The struggle takes on a new twist when Pete learns that the Valencians have hired an assassin to take out the Coven’s leader, a powerful witch named Floraidh Halsey. Jaz and Vayl must stalk a killer as wily and Gifted as themselves as they travel through the wild, stark beauty of the Highlands. Their travels also bring new heights to their romance, a new depth to their passion, and a bond they are both, at last, willing to seal.

Relevant Links

The 10 Books I Read in May

Jennifer Armintrout: Ashes to Ashes: “Plenty of vomit and severed digits to satisfy gore fans, witticisms to appease the humorous and alternate history for those not impressed with the real world.” Review Buy

Rachel Cohn: You Know Where to Find Me: “This is intense, emotional stuff, with characters I wish I’d had in my life…Thought-provoking, emotionally draining and forces (unintentionally or otherwise) readers to undertake personal reflection…Powerful and memorable in a way that very few novels are – put simply: a must-read.” Review Buy

Anya Bast: Witch Fire: “The author has some interesting ideas, and I look forward to learning more about the elements and what they do…The world-building is interesting enough that I’m already reading the sequel.” Review Buy

Anya Bast: Witch Blood: “A step up from its predecessor…Anya Bast is doing what all authors should be doing: improving with each novel. I’m really looking forward to reading The Chosen Sin, future Elemental Witches instalments and whatever else the author has in store for us.” Review Buy

Jennifer Rardin: Once Bitten, Twice Shy: “An urban fantasy featuring the CIA and a sense of humour…Quite interesting. Indeed, Chapter Twenty is memorable, so keep your eye out for that…Jennifer Rardin is an author to watch.” Review Buy

Jennifer Rardin: Another One Bites the Dust: “Ever experience blackouts, and regain consciousness to find yourself holding a gun to your own head? This makes for fascinating reading…” Review Buy

Jennifer Rardin: Biting the Bullet: “I have much respect for the author featuring some creatures not usually found in current fiction. Top marks for originality…” Review Buy

Laurell K. Hamilton: Blood Noir: “The relationships between Jason, Anita, the Schuylers and the Summerlands’ various guards and spin doctors is really quite interesting – sometimes it’s understandable why the author is a bestseller.” Review Buy

Kelley Armstrong: Personal Demon: “Gobsmacked me with its brilliance and sheer originality…It really justifies the author as my favourite.” Review Buy

Sydney Bauer: Gospel: A good read, but it felt too long.

[REVIEW] Biting the Bullet – Jennifer Rardin

Jennifer Rardin
Biting the Bullet (Jaz Parks, Book 3)
Orbit (7th February 2008)

Finally, Jaz Parks goes where those in the CIA usually go: overseas. From Florida and Texas respectively in the first and second novels, the spotlight is now on Iran…as well as hell.

Jaz’s twin Dave is part of a CIA special ops squad, whose big target is the Wizard, whereas Jaz’s team’s enemy is the Raptor. Here’s where I don’t quite follow – why the two squads come together, and how the Wizard and the Raptor are linked. The Raptor is part of the series arc, but the Wizard may only be in this episode.

Continuing the theme of screwed-up families, Jaz and Dave haven’t talked for years before they’re forced into this situation. Neither of them completely trusts the other, whilst back home patriarch Albert is having another crisis. Meanwhile, we finally meet Jaz and Dave’s mother, who’s in hell.

Romantic complications arise when former private investigator Cole makes clear his intentions for Jaz, but she’s still mooning over their boss, Vayl. I’m usually first to stick my hand up for a hot foreigner (Vayl’s Romanian), but I’m just not connecting with him. Brooding Vamp with a Troubled Past is a common character type in urban fantasy, thus making it difficult for one to particular stand out from the crowd. However, I do fancy Jaz’s Spanish spirit guide, Raoul, though I have the feeling Jaz and Vayl will shag before the series is over.

Jaz’s out-of-body experiences are often confusing, and though I don’t quite follow them I have much respect for the author featuring some creatures not usually found in current fiction. Top marks for originality, but perhaps this series is too intelligent for my tiny brain.

[REVIEW] Another One Bites the Dust – Jennifer Rardin

Jennifer Rardin
Another One Bites the Dust (Jaz Parks, Book 2)
Orbit (12th December 2007)

Ever experience blackouts, and regain consciousness to find yourself holding a gun to your own head? This makes for fascinating reading, even though it happens long before the novel is over.

With characters working for the CIA, this series is ripe for social commentary on what it means to work for the government, and how to deal with conflicts between their ideals and yours. Unfortunately, the author hasn’t picked up this golden opportunity to create fiction that would really resonate with readers. And I think this is why I’m not connecting with this series – it isn’t doing what it could. So I find myself judging it for what it’s not, rather than what it is. However, within the pages of Another One Bites the Dust are right-wing conservative Christians who piss me off, but I’m not keen on right-wing conservative Christians in real life.

I’m continuing with this series, and hope it’ll serve up what needs to be read. But right now I feel somewhat unfulfilled.

[REVIEW] Once Bitten, Twice Shy – Jennifer Rardin

Jennifer Rardin
Once Bitten, Twice Shy (Jaz Parks, Book 1)
Orbit (18th October 2007)

An urban fantasy featuring the CIA and a sense of humour – this novel shares things in common with my writing work-in-progress, so I wasn’t all that comfortable reading this at first. However, as our differences piled up, I settled in just fine.

But at times Jaz Parks seems so much like me (not just my characters, but me) that it’s scary. Minus that she’s American, works for the government and kicks arse: our “voice”, humour, mannerisms and coping mechanisms are so similar that reading essentially a fictionalised version of yours truly was off-putting.

When a joke isn’t shoved into every paragraph (ie. When the humour isn’t overpowering the story), the novel is quite interesting. Indeed, Chapter Twenty is memorable, so keep your eye out for that. But as the plot got more outlandish with out-of-body experiences, I couldn’t easily picture the scenes in my mind’s eye and thus my attention somewhat waned. But Jennifer Rardin is an author to watch, and I’m already reading Book 2 in the series.

Cat with Books

Kristopher Reisz once pondered if Manny’s facial expressions demonstrate his feelings towards the books he’s photographed with. So let’s analyse photos taken this afternoon:

Jennifer Armintrout’s Ashes to Ashes: Cutest photo of the bunch – I think he likes Dr Carrie.

Yasmine Galenorn’s Darkling: I’d forgotten I’d photographed him with this before, but this one’s better.

Adrian Phoenix’s A Rush of Wings: One eye open, one eye shut – yes, my cat looks deranged.

Jennifer Rardin’s Biting the Bullet: Doesn’t look impressed, but he’s Australian – what would he know about guns? 😉

Caitlin Kittredge’s Night Life: Disdainful – might be wondering why a cat owner wrote about a werewolf instead of werecats.

Keri Arthur’s The Darkest Kiss: Photo session over – back to naptime.