Archive | August 2013

Book Review: Blood is Thicker by Meridith Mansfield

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So I keep up with Meredith Mansfield’s blog, where she keeps us up to date on what she’s bee up to both writing wise and publishing. She’s an indie author, and I like her spunk.

I’ve been reading about the books for a long time, and finally I broke down and bought the first book, Blood is Thicker. At first I wasn’t sure about it– I thought it was going to be a straight up epic fantasy, but instead it blurs between epic and urban.

And I liked it.

It took me a little while to get into it, but that was mainly because of the above mentioned misconception. The magic was handled deftly– it would have been very easy to make dragons all powerful and therefore unbeatable. But they, too, have their weakness in this novel.

By the end of the story, I was completely hooked. Because just as the epic was blended with urban fantasy, fantasy was blended very well with romance. Woohoo! My two favorite types of reading, all in one little bite!

I saw that the second book is out, too. I’ll have to check and see!

 

SERIOUS NOTE: Some people are afraid of Indie Published / Self Published books. Unfortunately, a group of people (notice I didn’t say writers) spoiled it for everyone else. The only nit I found with this novel was probably caused because I use the BIG LETTERS CUZ I’M NOT YOUNG ANYMORE typeface on my Nook (i.e. quotations at the beginning of a line, instead of bringing the last word down). We need more Meredith Mansfields, and less of the other people. So lets go support her, shall we?

 

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Book Review: Rain Wild Chronicles by Robin Hobb

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Originally, this was intended as a trilogy, but it is actually four books. That works for me. Blood of the Dragons is actually the last book in the series, and it wraps it up nicely.

This series gave me a serious geek girl moment. I walked outside while at work, and realized I had forgotten my book. My first thought? “But I wanted to go to the Rain Wilds.” Serious geek girl moment, but that’s ok 😀

Books One (Dragon Keeper) and Two (Dragon Haven) hooked me in and would not let me go. Book Three (Dragon City) is a bridge book— one of those books in a series that kind of breaks with the first ones, so that the grand finale will make sense. We also get 3 new point of view characters. We had seen or  heard of them before, but had never been inside their heads.

Most authors, you know that everything will work out ok… but with Hobb on this one, I wasn’t sure (but in a good way). I tore through the whole series in about a week, maybe two (I know I had to wait for payday to get the last one LOL).

Love, love love this series. Especially love how the dragons are very distinct from humans, and from eachother. They are not merely beats, but neither do they think or act in a human way. Why would they? They outlive humans by hundreds, if not thousands of years.

I was sad to read the last pages of this series, but rest easy knowing I can visit anytime I want to. While the instinct of a fan girl such as I is to keep writing the series, as writers we all know when the story is done.

Hobb also has a habit of re-visiting the world she built in completely different ways… and re-introducing her characters. Check out Paragon, and how far he’s come by the time this novel opens. So, onward and upwards!

I was so geeky over the series, that of course I have to give it a 5/5… with the caveat that book 3 is a bridge book.

Enjoy, my lovelies!

 

Book Review: Ocean at the End of the Lane

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I actually bought this book when it first came out. I was excited.OOhhhh…. a new book! An IMPORTANT book, or so all the reviews I read said. One of the Best Books of 2013, so Far… according to Barnes and Nobles.com

Yah. It was good.

It was also freaking 192 pages.

I really need to start paying attention to the length of the work. Sea Change was really good, and disturbing, and I thought it was a little short. This one was a good little story, I enjoyed it… But come on. $10 for 192 pages? 

And ok. I’m gonna get on my writer’s high horse here for a moment. Writing in first person past tense is great. I love it when an author pulls it off effortlessly. Many, many authors do this. For the most part, Gaiman does as well. (Did you catch that~ the phrase “for the most part…”

Sea Change had the magic box that disappeared. The Ocean at the End of the Lane has… a first person, past tense narration where the narrator forgets something he has told the reader. Kind of impossible… when you think about it. Because if it is written in the past tense, how could he forget it within the time frame of the novel? (And yes, I went back to double check it, and it does open in past tense.)

In first person, PRESENT tense, you can do that. Characters can forget stuff, because they are living in the present and people are forgetful. But if you’re writing in past tense, and that little forgetfulness slips in and snakes around the tale… well, if it’s been forgotten, then how come you just told me the story? Huh? How??!! There are no other hints that I found that the narrator was unreliable.

SIGH.

But still.

This book also marks the point in time when I finally realized that I need to check the number of pages before I bought the Nook book. $10.00 was way too much for this book. It was good, don’t get me wrong. But for a Nook Book, at $10, you’d better grip the hell out of me and take me longer than a day to read. Because I work hard for my damn money, and there’s not enough of it… and that’s something that a lot of book lovers are dealing with. I’m not special in that regard.

But you’d think that the publishers would take a look and give us readers a little bit more love on the pricing. With E-Books, especially. I understand that they have to  pay people, and for the printing and marketing and and and…. but I have to pay for things too.

I have no idea where I’m going with this post, so I’m going to sign off now. I know it’s a bit incoherent, and probably I should wait to hit publish… but I’ve been so lax lately that I feel I need to hit that little blue button….

Book review: The Queen’s Rivals by Brandy Purdy

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The Queen’s Rivals by Brandy Purdy

 

Ms. Purdy is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. While The Queen’s Rivals doesn’t have the sumptuous words of the previous book that I read (The Queen’s Pleasure), it is a deeply moving novel.

The Queen’s Rivals tells the story of the Grey sisters, cousin to Queen Elizabeth I, from the point of view of the littlest sister. Mary, the youngest, stopped growing at about the age of five or so. Disfigured, she is pragmatic about her prospects in life and how others treat her.

The thing about historical novels is, most of the time you know how they end. We know the story of the bloody road to the English throne. Purdy excels at bringing the names and dates from the history books to life, putting soul into them. We already know how things are going to end. She makes us care, all over again, in a story that keeps moving towards a tragic end for all of the sisters.

But Purdy also does something else: she sparks the imagination. One of Mary’s complaints about her treatment is who would really want her to be queen? Her mother is strict about what she wears lest anyone mistake her for a jester, a clown. She is deprived of dancing for the same reason. (And, actually, because her mother was a witch— but given the time period, on this I think I agree with the mother’s assessment.)

So yes, a story spark is burning right now. One that may or may not flame into a full fledged short story. And that is the greatest feeling of all!

 

Overall rating: 5/5

 

Ta for now, my lovelies. I’ll be back soon with one on the Rain Wilds books by Robin Hobb. I’m currently on book 3/4….Yay!

Dear Bruce Willis

I don’t know if the reports about what you said about making action movies is correct or not. Did you really basically say you were in it only for the money? I don’t know. Could be the media has blown this all way out of proportion. It’s happened before.

But really. C’mon. If this is the truth, then I say to you: put your money where your mouth is. There are thousands, if not millions of writers out there. I bet one of us could come up with either a non-action film that could gross lots of money OR an action film that might just make you say “Hey, that sounds like fun.” I really think you should do it. Want more ideas? Open it up to short story or novel writers.

Because here’s the thing. If you keep going on the path you’re on, you will end up like so many hack writers. They need money, so figure “Hey, I’ll knock out a quick romance / children’s book/ tween novel and sell it for mucho money.” The problem is that even if they get published, the readers know that they aren’t on the same page so to speak. I have a Master’s degree in English, but I proudly carried my novels (romance and epic fantasy included) to school. They are the genres that I love, and I saw no reason to break my own mold.

There’s no guarantee when you go off and do your own thing. But  you know, if you’re true to yourself things have a way of working out. Or at least working to make you happy. I understand that some people can’t see the joy. They worry over every penny and wonder how someone with less can smile and enjoy life.

I’ll tell you why. Because we know the secret to life. There are, in fact, things more important to money. The next few months will hurt financially for me, but you know what? I’ll still be able to cover my bills. And if my son’s happiness is really all wrapped up in getting a new toy every week (a habit I broke him of), then… well, i haven’t done my job as a parent.

If you don’t like the movies you’ve been offered, Bruce, go and find the story that you want to tell on screen.

If you don’t like the genre you’re writing in, find something that makes your soul sing. Your fingers will start flying over the keyboard, and at least you’ll know that you’ve given it your all.

Ok. I’ll get off my soap box for now.

By the way: My laptop was unfortunately injured and has been with the tech for a while, but I just got it back. YAY! Normal (for me) book review tomorrow. I still have Brandy Purdy’s new book to get you to buy…um, tell you about LOL!

Till tomorrow!

Writer’s Brain

Hello, my lovelies. I have a post up on the MMP blog today, which can be found here. In it, I tried to show how my writer’s brain works… the way we start with “What if” and keep it going, hopefully all the way through a story.

But Writer’s Brain can also get us into weird situations. Like, for instance, when I’m having a perfectly lovely conversation with my self, or my character, and it happens that I’m saying it out loud, in line at Walmart. Or while pumping gas.

Sometimes we look at the world differently. There’s a tree that grows over the road near here, and to me it looks exactly like a dragon head, ready to snatch up a car and chomp on it. While driving down another road, a common sight is great big stacks of hay, partially covered with a blue tarp. A giant’s bed? Yes, I believe so.

Writer’s brain rears its head in the most fascinating ways. What’s your favorite?

Oh, and go read that blog post! Tell me what you think of it 🙂

I’ll be back tomorrow with a review on Brandy Purdy’s latest historical.

It’s been a weird, weird summer

So in the normal course of things, summer is just like any other season. I get up, I go to work, Monday through Friday. Saturday and Sunday are reserved for writing, resting, and getting the laundry done so I can go and do a repeat of M-F.

This summer has been a bit different. It’s strange, and wild and wonderful!

My son is 7, and in the normal course of things he’d be at daycare M-F too, just the normal normal. This summer, though, he was able to stay home with Poppa, run wild with his neighborhood friends, and generally have a blast. I’ve always wanted to give him that— essentially the modern day version of my childhood.

I took an online course, then quit at the very end. Last lesson. I quit. Yup, and oddly enough, i don’t regret it. I have a piece of writing that is extremely experimental and I might want to send off to competitions (i adore it). I also had discovered a writing event that I want to attend— but the scholarship application was due within a week. I had to let that take preference at that time.

And then there was Reno! Traveling with the boy, solo for the first time. Once we got there, Regina was there and it was so awesome, but this was the first time it was just he and I in a hotel room and on the drive. We did great! (One melt down does not constitute a bad time. It constitutes a bad moment)

Today, we went to Stockton-con. A mini- comic convention that is a fundraiser for local charities. Ray made it through for about an hour and a half, I picked up some great art work and he got to take pics with some great characters. And the artists were so nice, talking with him about the pictures and stuff.  When he started to have a melt down (due to excessive noise and people), there were people who were nice enough to pull him out of it, distract him while I steered him to an outdoor area. You hear a lot of crap about Stockton, but at the arena today, people were extremely nice to an over excited little boy with dyspraxia, SPD and a slight speech impediment.

Can’t ask for more than that.

Although now i’m thinking… tide pools. Definitely tide pools or the beach in some form or another.

Oh. And writing. Have a couple of great ideas right now and am working them out. Which looks a lot like me looking off into the distance LOL. But that’s ok. I really like the one… about a goblin princess. But I need to come up with what and who I think the goblins are before I start researching them.