Archive | March 2012

World Building

We’re gonna talk about world building tonight, kiddos. I recently realized that I read a lot of series, especially in the fantasy genre. (wow, wyn, great alliteration there!). Successful authors of a fantasy series, or any series, has to do with these things at some point or another.

The author needs to keep it fresh for themselves, allow themselves to grow while still hanging onto the original readership, and keeping from going out of their ever loving mind while doing it. Because who wants to read, let alone write, the same novel over and over again?

This first came to mind with me while reading one of Mary Janice Davidson’s novels (Undead and Unwelcome, I think). Because that book blew me out of the water. While before there had been lots of cute jokes, there hadn’t been a whole lot of growth. Until that book, when it took a hook for the dark side and the main character started to grow up. It was a humbling moment. As a writer who reads a lot, it showed all the ways to grow not only your own writing but your character at the same time, dragging your core audience gasping and yelling at you all the way.

Bridge of Dreams, by Anne Bishop was the second novel to make me wonder about that. Part of a series that is preceded by Sebastian and Belladonna, Bridge of Dreams takes the reader to a portion of the world that feels foreign, new and exciting along with new characters. But the world was built that way from the very beginning, giving limitless options for scenery, potential stories, lots of ideas. (The way the three sisters are handled is amazing!)

Kind of like Anne McCaffrey with the Pern series. You have the normal books, then of course there is the southern continent, and the sci fi element they may or may not go back to but even if she does, the people in the here and now are trying to figure out what feels like future technology.

And of course there’s Lynn Flewelling, who with the Bone Doll’s Twin took me and shook me completely to my core. She went back into her land’s distant past and told the story of the queen. That trilogy is written so differently from the Nightrunner books that it was a “WOW” moment.

So. Writers! Have your escape plan hatched. Because if you’re lucky, you’ll need it!

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Night Circus

“A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.” – Oscar Wilde (as quoted in Part One of The Night Circus)

Le Cirque des Reves is a magical, mystical place. One moment there, gone the next, it offers its visitors a glimpse of magic. Contained within this magical realm are Celia and Marco, who are bound by their own masters in a contest. The magic created becomes more and more complex, the players are swept up along with their companions on the way.

Told in present tense, this book is haunting and beautiful and it echoed for a while. I couldn’t seem to pick up anything else after I read it, so I waited a few days until I could settle down and read something new. Something different. When what I really wanted was to go to the Night Circus again. This is a seriously beautiful, haunting story. I want to write like this when I grow up.

 

Night Circus

Erin Morgenstern

Doubleday

 

5/5 stars

Circling the Stacks

This week, the two books I’m reviewing have 1 thing in common:  I circled around both of them at the book store. It took me a few weeks before committing to them in the form of actually buying them.

 

The House I Loved by Tatiana De Rosnay (St Martin’s Press). This one has a gorgeous cover, which is what first entranced me. And yes, I do often make my first judgment on a book based on the cover. The novel is a love letter from the heroine to her beloved (deceased) husband, about the home and the life they shared there. Napoleon is on a mission to make Paris a modern city, and their home is to be demolished in order to expedite the mission. Even though it appears on the surface to be about just that, there is something that she’s trying to tell her husband that she couldn’t tell him in life. Something that has burdened her… and she needs to get out from under that burden before she rejoins her husband.

It’s very prettily written, with lots of asides regarding letter writing, reading, getting lost in novels. It is a peek into another life, one that contains much more than is written on the surface. When the heroine writes of the smells that bring back the loves in her life… it is remarkable in the fact that she does not include her daughter on that list.

All in all, while I enjoyed the book… I hate to say that I wish I had waited for the paperback. However, it was good enough to make the “sending it to my sister in Missouri because I think she’d really like it too” category.

Graveminder, Melissa Marr, William Morrow. I wasn’t sure about this one, mainly because it kept talking about how creepy it was. I don’t do horror. But I finally cracked open the book, read the first few pages and decided to read it. The premise reminded me a bit of Sarah Addison Alen (Garden Spell, Sugar Queen, Girl who Chased the Moon) who is one of my favorite authors.

I was riveted right up until the part where Marr takes the reader into the underbelly (the land of the dead). She almost lost me there—and I can’t put my finger on why. The transition just wasn’t quite as smooth as I would have liked. Once that scene was over, and things started cooking along… Well, it was a lot better. Bottom line is that I would read this again, but there are areas that I will skip over. I’m curious about her other books, and will probably check them out.

Oh, and it does get creepy, but not in a Stephen King Pet Cemetery I’m gonna wet my pants kind of way. Overall, a keeper.

 

Ta Ta for now, my lovelies. I have a review in the saved files, perhaps if you’re good I’ll post it on Wednesday or Thursday.

Good Things Coming Your Way

Good Things coming your way.

As some of you know, I am the beneficiary of ARC’s from Kensington Books. In return for these, I give good blog on those deserving of such LOL. There are a few coming out in March and April that I want to make sure you’re on the look-out for. And as always, my creed still stands: If I don’t like it, I won’t read it all the way through and will not pass on to you. ALL the books on this blog have been read & enjoyed by yours truly.

 

Curses (A F****ed- Up Fairy Tale), By J.A. Kazimer, Kensington Books. (PUBLISHED IN MARCH) This book skirts the edge of amusing and annoying in a good way. Take a fairy tale, tell it from the point of view of a cursed villain, shake well and there you have it. Written in the style of a hard-boiled P.I. story, with the subject matter at hand, it just cracked me up to no end.

 

Words Get In The Way, By Nan Rossiter, Kensington Books (COMING IN APRIL 2012) This book was a sweet read, but the thing that first intrigued me was that here was a single mother raising an autistic child. My Princeling doesn’t have autism, but there are some similarities in the symptoms. Like Auditory Sensory Integration Disorder. I have to admit I came unglued when Callie (the heroine)  took her 3 year old son to go view fire words.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, Auditory Sensory Integration Disorder does not bode well for fireworks. I was sooo angry on behalf of this fictional child. Why on earth would she do that? The kid is three years old, she’s been dealing with her son’s issues…. Well. Take a deep breath. Everyone’s journey in mother-hood is different. There’s also a wealth of difference between a mother that is twenty something (Callie) and forty something (me). But the scene where she begs the question, “Why can’t you just be normal??!!” Wow, that one hit home.

As an aside, every once in a while, like standing in line at Walmart and Ray catches me trying to pull a fast one on him… I’ll ask him “What happened to that poor, deaf, retarded boy I was supposed to have?” (And yes, those words were actually used by a school to me about my son). “You don’t have him, Mommy, you have me and I’m smart.” Well yes, you are. (I quit doing that when the lady behind me almost choked on her gum. Not sure if she was angry with me or laughing… I choose laughing).

There needs to be more books like this one. Books that brings the plight of kids that are different, and their parents, into the homes of others. I think I’ll do one on dyspraxia, as it’s already figuring in my candy garden story.

 

Buried in Buttercream, A Savannah Reid Mystery, by G.A. McKevett (COMING IN APRIL 2012). This one  is funny and well-paced. All poor Savannah wants is to get married, dang it. So why are arsonists, murders and natural disasters raining on her parade? Add in the eclectic mix of her large extended family in town for the wedding, and staying in her itty bitty house… And you have a book that rocks along nicely. It has a nice balance of every day stuff (body image, family rants) against the mystery. I finished this book before I knew it, zipped right along. And that, my dear friends, is a very good thing.

Hope you all enjoy as much as I did!

A Perfect Blood Book Review

So what happens when you’ve written several books in a series? You need to keep the pace moving, freshen up things a bit and yet still keep your readers right there with you.

Unfortunately, keeping things fresh and mixing them up often means killing off a character. It’s already happened in Kim Harrison’s The Hollows series, when Rachel’s vampire love is killed. Again.

A Perfect Blood, by Kim Harrison ( Harper Voyager, hard back) is a great read. Fast paced, great action… but it also feels like a bridge. Because even though boyfriends come and go, there has been nothing that could compare to the little (strange) family of Rachel, Jenks and Ivy.

Instead, something— someone else is popping up more and more frequently. I like the play between Rachel and Trent, find it extremely interesting. But I’m also wondering where Harrison is going with it. Because it felt almost as if Rachel was distancing herself from her family.

There are other minor characters in A Perfect Blood that make things interesting. Wayde, the were-bodyguard who can’t seem to get near Rachel whenever she’s snatched. Winnona, a poor girl who is transformed… her body monstrously, but opening her eyes to loyalty, friendship and magic at the same time.

This was a really good read. I blew through this in a little more than 24 hours (keeping in mind that I had to sleep, and play with my son and feed him and all that mommy stuff too…) and towards the end I was telling my son “In a minute” quite a lot.

It will be interesting to see where the relationships land in the next novel.

Except, since I bought this in hardback I probably have to wait another whole year.

SIGH.

It’ll be worth it!