Sunday, January 30, 2011
Thursday, January 27, 2011
This is a review that is a long time coming. It's so long coming that I'm almost embarrassed to post it especially because sometime at the end of the summer I got a copy of this book in the mail, no note, no return address, so someone was expecting me to do a review.
Warrior is equal parts alternative history, paranormal romance, and adventure story. I enjoyed that it avoided many of the genre cliches. The time period is pseudo-Victorian, but most of the novel is set in Mongolia. That was a big pluse for me because I've wanted to see Mongolia ever since I heard one of my college professors talk about spending time there in a Yurt, (and not just because of the wonderful Mongolian dinosaur fossil sites). I also liked that both the hero and heroine aren't straight out of central casting. For one thing the hero, Capt. Gabriel Huntley, isn't a brooding dark alpha male. (I'm so sick of dark brooding alpha types) Gabriel isn't a pushover. Big, blond, and slightly battered by life. He's a veteran soldier, late of the Thirty-third regiment foot, who has resigned from the army and is heading home for a well deserved retirement when is stumbles into a mystery that will transform his life. He's one of those people who is competent at whatever he turn his hand to, and a natural leader, but he's not someone who seeks out positions of authority or uses his ability to dominate those around him.
Thalia Burgess knows she's not a typical Victorian lady, she has been raised in the wilds of Mongolia by her scholar father, and is more used to wearing a del and riding across the steppes than wearing a corset and serving tea. She has also trained as a Blade of the Rose a warrior sworn to protect Sources, objects that are repositories of magical power.
Thalia and Gabriel are thrown together in a quest to find a protect a powerful Mongolian source, and keep it from falling into the hands of a group of evil English magicians bent on world domination. The quest goes as these things do, with ups and downs, challenges met, and lost. Archer does a nice job of working Mongolian geography and customs in to the story, while at the same time developing Thalia and Gabriel's growing relationship.
These two are meant for each other and make a good team, but the only flaws I see in the book are with their relationship. Everyone, from the magical Source, to the slightly too helpful Mongolian bandits, seem to be conspiring to put these two together in sexual, or at least sensual, situations and when that happens Thalia becomes just a little too out of character naive. There is also one more magic enhances too perfect to be real sex scene for my taste. These scenes don't really fit with the texture and flavor of the rest of the book in my opinion. They don't ruin the book, but it don't add to it either.
Despite that one flaw I enjoyed the book and look froward to finding time to read the rest of the series.
I'd like to play forward the kindness of whoever sent me the book and send my copy one to someone else to enjoy. I'll send my copy to the first person to comment on this review with their contact info.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
by Lou Aronica
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy/Fiction YA
Publisher: Fiction Studio
What I Liked:
The main character--Chris--is fantastically complex. Definitely the kind of character you'd want to spend a book with. His life, his relationship with his daughter, his problems... all fantastically complex.
I liked the fact that the book doesn't start off straight in the fantasty world. It sort of draws you into it, kinda like The Neverending Story. It's definitely a way to escape from the reality of his daughter's hard life, but it's more than that. It's the magic of creating something together that is truly unique. All writers know this. There's nothing quite like it. But this story goes one step further, into the realm of what happens when you stop telling stories and a world that exists, even when you don't want it to. It's a very interesting concept.
It's also a beautiful story.
Chris Astor is a man in his early forties who is going through the toughest stretch of his life. Not long before, Chris' world sparkled - he was doing significant work, he had a good home, and his young daughter brought him more joy than he ever could have imagined. Now, divorce and estrangement have left him confused and all too often alone.
Becky is Chris' fourteen-year-old daughter, a girl who overcame enormous challenges in her early years to become a vibrant, vital young woman. Her parents' divorce has left its mark, though, most significantly in her relationship with her father. Once, they told remarkable stories together. Now, they barely speak. Emotional detachment from Chris is not Becky's biggest concern, though.
Miea is the young queen of a fantasy land that Becky and Chris created when Becky was little - a fantasy land that has developed a life of its own. Miea knows nothing of Becky and Chris. She only knows that her beautiful kingdom - a place of remarkably varied flora, dignified and distinctive fauna, and an ecology that works in symphonic majesty - is in terrible, maybe fatal trouble.
At the most challenging junctures of their lives, Becky and Miea discover each other and Miea shares this discovery with Chris. For Becky, it is nearly inconceivable that a place she created has come into existence. For Miea, it is nearly inconceivable that a child created her land. For Chris, it is beyond inconceivable that he is again sharing something important in his daughter's life. For all of them, it as though a world of opportunity has opened up before them.
But time is not on their side. In fact, time might be running out.
Together, they need to uncover a secret. The secret to why these worlds have joined at this moment. The secret to their purpose. The secret to the future. It is a secret that, when discovered, will redefine imagination for all of them.
Sunday, January 23, 2011
Saturday, January 22, 2011
Well, Kimber refers to me as the "Grammar Goddess" sometimes and I'm quite flattered by this, since it wasn't always the case. As a matter of fact, all through school, up through high school, I hated grammar. I didn't understand why it was important or what I would ever use it for and it was boring as all getout. After all, I had more important things on my mind back then...like checking out the cute guys in my classes (sigh). What changed that all for me is that I had to take a required grammar class for my English degree when I got to college and went for my B.A. I took a class by a professor named Jonathan Price, and it turned out that he'd written a book called Grammar Demystified. Sure, I thought - as I sat at the front of the class because I knew that otherwise I would surely nod off or not do the work - demystify it for me. But the amazing thing was that he did. It began to make sense and I realized that grammar really is important because it defines the way in which we use language. And personally, I wouldn't have felt like I had really "earned" my English degree if I didn't get past the obstacles holding me back from learning grammar.
So Professor Price taught me to like grammar and to not be scared of it. Well, I got out of college and job searched for a LONG time. When I finally got a job with the State, I was relieved, but I didn't know how I was going to use the B.A. degree I got in English. After about a year and a half of State work, I heard that Decadent Publishing had started up and that they needed editors. I had written a novel called Fallenwood, and some other random pieces of fiction, but I'd tried submitting to what seemed like a million publishers, and all to no avail. So I stuck with editing for a while. I'd never done any kind of professional editing before and wasn't really sure what it was going to be like, but with a steady footing in English and grammar, I felt confident that I could handle it.
So I took the test and submitted it, and not too long afterwards, became an editor for Decadent. I started editing other people's work and decided that I should try and submit something of my own. So I sent "The Devil's Bidding" in for submission, expecting it to be rejected like all the other times it had been rejected by publications before. At the time, I had a notebook that I would tape rejection letters into, and it had become a sort of collection of mine. I wanted to be able to add another page into my rejection notebook and collect the Decadent logo. What I got was something much cooler - the first acceptance for one of my stories. And that's how I became an author/editor at the same time.
One of the great things about being an editor and author at the same time is that I have learned to be better about editing my own work. I used to hate editing the things I'd written. Once they were written, I didn't want to take a second look at them. This was a good thing to get over, since I've recently had to do a lot of editing for my upcoming novel Fallenwood.
Thanks, Kimber, for giving me the opportunity to blog here!
Thursday, January 20, 2011
3rd January 2011, Egmont (UK - not sure if/when it will be published by Egmont US)
Science Fiction, 11+
Summary from Egmont UK
This is one of those books that made me go wow a lot. My spine tingled most of the way through the novel. I have to say that I'm pretty glad I got a proof copy, without the final cover. It freaks me out a little - I do have a fear of anything wiggly. I think I turned a little pale while reading this book - there are a few moments when things are a bit too - um - wiggly for my liking. Those aside, this novel rocks!
Initially I was intrigued by 0.4, but before I started reading I did wonder whether it would be a bit weird or not. It sounded weird with the tapes. Strangely that actually worked out pretty well, and it heightens the element of surprise for the reader. Kyle is a likeable character. He's fairly ordinary, but what happens to him is extremely extraordinary. The story starts off with a snippet of what his life is normally like, as a background for all the strangeness that is to follow. The story is laid out by having sections where Kyle tells it into a cassette tape (which came before the mp3 player, before the cd player, before the mini-disk player - waaaay back in music history (not that long ago because I had one when I was little)). Just by nature of the very first cassette tapes, a few chunks of Kyle's words are cut out from the story, which made me go 'grrr' at the book and hope that I caught up in the next chapter (I did).
It isn't that Kyle disappears from the world. He and a few others disappear from peoples' existence. That is because they aren't people, but they are something else, something that can be altered or wiped out. The way the event happens is pretty clever. I really thought that it was a joke - until the joke never ended. There is a good deal of suspense and danger as Kyle and his friends go on the run from their own families and fellow neighbours. There are several moments where it seems like they will get caught. The truth behind what 0.4 really got my mind thinking. The fugitive element of the plot worked well, as did the way that Kyle used his friends' skills to survive. Through the event and the consequences, Kyle learns a lot about himself, and also about how his new friends behave. The future isn't necessarily an optimistic one for Kyle, but he has the right attitude to face what's coming. I'm very eager to read the next book, 1.0.
(Content-wise there isn't anything of note, other than a few horror elements).
This is on a similar vein to Michael Grant's trilogy Gone, Hunger, Lies (Blogger won't let me put links to my reviews for these just yet, I'll try and add them another day).
Thursday, January 13, 2011
September 2010, Titan Books
Graphic novel, Paperback
Summary from Titan Books
James Bond-style adventure starring Fables’ own Cinderella.
When supernatural artifacts from the Homelands begin surfacing in the modern world, it’s up to Cinderella, Fabletown's best-kept (and best-dressed) secret agent to stop the illegal trafficking. But can Cindy foil the dark plot before Fabletown and its hidden, exiled inhabitants are exposed once and for all? And how does her long-lost Fairy Godmother factor into the equation?
When I was approached to review some TV-tie in books, I was invited to check out the other books by Titan. I zoned in on this one. How could I resist learning more about one of my favourite fairy tale characters? This is Cinderella like you've never seen her before. She didn't get the happily ever after with Prince Charming, but she is relatively happy now. She runs her own shoe shop - well, what else do you think she could sell? She isn't around the shop much, which shouldn't be a problem. Unfortunately in this story her shop assistant gets too big for his boots (slight pun intended), has crazy ideas which create a moment of popularity followed with many complaints and protests outside the shop. In between her spying, Cinderella manages to sort out the problem swiftly.
Yes, Cinderella is a spy! How cool is that! She is nifty with weapons, and equally dangerous without them for she uses her environment to hurt her attackers. One of her attackers turns out to be working on her side (not that you'd believe it at first). Cinderella goes undercover, which involves going back to her roots to get to the bottom of the mystery. There is magic abound in the gadgets she uses. But to be fair magic is only a part of the story. A lot of it is about Cinderella's courage, quick thinking in a crisis, her ability to formulate a plan and be able to modify it when circumstances change.
The illustrations are stunning. Cinderella visits a variety of locations, each with a different outfit. There are a few pictures with outfits that aren't used in the story, but are more of a chapter break. Despite having a mature readership suggestion on the back, this book isn't too steamy. There is the odd use of strong language, and there is innuendo and a few half-intimate scenes but generally it's a decent book.
It was fascinating to learn what Cinderella did over her long life (we are talking a few hundred years), and how her work impacts on normal people and other Fables. The only down side was that the outfit on the front cover wasn't actually used in Cinderella's story. It provided a nice chapter interlude though :)
I recommend this book for anyone who loves a strong female protagonist who can hold her own in a fight, who is intelligent, has an extensive wardrobe and who is fun to read about.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Monday, January 10, 2011
Thursday, January 6, 2011
So I'm without a book to review (bad me). I thought I'd chat about what I hope to happen on my postings this year.
I am determined to actually get through Lisa Shearin's novels. I've read a few - but I'm re-reading them and keep setting them down as other shiny books grab my interest. I'm easily distracted by several things: chocolate, anime, books, icecream, milkshake, soft toys and not necessarily in that order. Perhaps I can do this before her next book is released (see - I don't even know what date that is!)
That takes care of 4-5 reviews :) As for the rest, I haven't got a clue what I'll be reviewing. But I'm looking forward to reading all the other books reviewed here, and to more great work by Kimber An :)
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
by Syrie James
Genre: Paranormal Women's Fiction
Publisher: Vanguard Press
Release Date: January 4, 2011
What I Liked:
Some people might be tempted to categorize this as a romance novel. That, my friends, it is not. It might be a story about a man and a woman falling in love (think Nights in Rodanthe with snow instead of hurricaine and Edward Cullen instead of Richard Gere--or maybe Richard Gere without who sleeps all day and has no tan), but like those fabled books by the one we call The Spork, this is a love story, not a romance novel.
Why the distinction? Well, to tell you that, I have to give away something very important about the novel. So if you are worried about SPOILERS, please stop reading now. I'm going to spoil something very important.
Seriously, stop reading.
Okay, now that we've weeded out all the spoiler-weenies, let's get down to the nitty gritty. The H/H do not end up together in the end. It was the most realistic vampire love story I've ever read, for that reason precisely. Why do I say this?
Because, and I really hate to admit this, but Edward Cullen was right. It's an act of supreme selfishness to turn someone you love into an undead monster. (Never, ever tell anyone that I said anything good about Edward Cullen.) That's not true love. That's obsession, desire, lust: self-centered. When you're truly in love with someone, you want the absolute best for them, even if that means you never get to see them again.
Spoilers aside, it was interesting to read the book just to get to that place. But that alone was good enough that I had to highlight it, because this is how every true vampire romance should end, at least if the characters are really in love with anyone else besides themselves. So, kudos to the author for that. The book is worth checking out just for that alone.
When Nicole Whitcomb’s car runs off a Colorado mountain road during a blinding snowstorm, she is saved from death by a handsome, fascinating, and enigmatic stranger.
Snowbound with him for days in his beautiful home high in the Rockies, she finds herself powerfully attracted to him and soon comes to realize that the feeling is mutual. But there are things about him that mystify her, filling her with apprehension—and Nicole can’t shake the feeling that he doesn’t want her there.
Who is Michael Tyler? Why does he live alone in such a secluded spot and guard his private life so carefully? What secret—or secrets—is he hiding?
Nicole has secrets of her own and a past she is running from—but Michael understands her better than anyone she has ever known. Soon, she is falling as deeply in love with him as he is with her.
But as the sexual tension between them builds, the clues mount up. When Nicole learns the terrifying truth—that her host is an ages-old vampire who is torn between his love for her and his desire for her blood—there’s nowhere for her to run but into the blizzard raging outside, and he’s the only one who can save her life.
- Rebecca Lynn
Sunday, January 2, 2011
Saturday, January 1, 2011
For my blog post, I have an observation to make and a question to ask. The young adult market is swarming with paranormal stories (which I love, don't get me wrong). But I've seen a few historicals popping up, and I'm very interested in those. I love stories about ancient egypt and medieval/renaissance periods. The next story I have brewing will be a historical and a bit of a change for me, which should be nice.
My question is: what do you wish you could see more of in the YA/MG world? What time period? What draws you to or repels you from historical fiction?
Please leave a comment and tell us!