Tag Archive | Fantasy

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.

Book Review: Sweetly by Jackson Pearce

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Sweetly, by Jackson Pearce is another book that I found by cruising the 2.99 deals over on the Nook page. I love fairytales, and even though this one is a little short (clocking in under 300 pages on my Nook), it never dawned on me that this might be a young adult / younger readers novel. I didn’t know that was indeed the classification until I went back to the book page to grab a shot of the cover. We’re going to have to explore this more fully, soon.

Plot in a Jot: What if… Ansel and Gretchen escaped the forest and the witch that stole their sister from them, only to end up on the other side of the country. Facing another witch (this time a sweet one, who makes candies), another forest… and more questions about their own past.

One of the things that stood out in this for me was Gretchen’s struggle for a voice. She calls it making sure she won’t just vanish… But it could just as easily be her voice, her purpose that she’s seeking. Until she is firmly in place within herself, she can’t even say her sister’s name.

But girls have gone missing in the town where they end up, too. All the way across the country, more and more girls are disappearing. Because the town is so small, most assume that the girls (all 17-18) have up and vanished of their own free will.

It’s a great retelling of the Hansel and Gretel story, taking it and spinning it out into a contemporary “what if” scenario.

Bottom Line: 3.5/4 Woohoo’s… because when a girl not only finds her voice but the guts to battle her witch? That’s something to celebrate.

Steampunk-a-pallooza

In honor of my very good friend, Rie Rose’s release of The Marvelous Mechanical Man, we’re gonna look at steampunk. It’s surprisingly appropriate, since she is the one who first turned my attention to the sub-genre.

 The Marvelous Mechanical Man By Rie Rose.

Ohhh… I am so happy to finally be able to talk about this title. I had the privilege of being a Beta Reader for this story. (A Beta Reader, for those who don’t know, is among the first people to read the story after the author thinks it’s ready. It may go through a couple of rounds, but it gives invaluable insight into the reader’s experience to the author.)

I love the heroine, Jo Mann. Jo is resourceful, bright and has sass to spare. Professor Conn is the classic absent minded variety, except… Except when he isn’t. Like when he agrees to hire Jo as his assistant J This book hooked me from page one and kept me there until the very end. Can’t wait for the next book! Hey Rie Sheridan Rose! We want more Conn-Mann!

A note about this book. The book is set in New York City. It’s one of the very few steampunk novels set in America that I like. Mostly, I like the Victorian England ones, although I can’t put my finger on why. It could be that since I already live in the US, I enjoy living vicariously through my heroines. However, this one was done so well, that I really didn’t miss tea time much at all LOL.

And just so you know, Rie Reccomended to me:

Gail Carriger, the Parasol Protectorate series (incl. Soulless, Timeless, Heartless, etc.). Alpha werewolves? A No-nonsense heroine? Check and check. Great series, I devoured them all.

And then I found on my own:

Cindy Spencer Pape,  Moonlight and Mechanicals and also Kilts & Kraken (what is it with Kraken’s lately?)

If you like steampunk, with a shot of feisty heroines and sometimes, a romance… Give any of these authors a try. It’s well worth it.

 

And if you want to go catch my short, short mood vampire piece, you can grab it over at the MMP blog today. Pop back in and let me know what you think.

Have you read any of the above titles or authors? Do you like steampunk? What authors/titles do you recommend? What do you like about the genre, and what drives you batty?

Book Review: Royal Street by Suzanne Johnson

 

 

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I found this through the Nook cheapies page (it’s currently $2.99 for Nook- go snatch it up!). It’s definitely a paranormal, what with wizards and werewolves and shifters and vampires OH MY! But the part that interests me in this is the way the main character, Drusilla, deals with the fall of her hero.

Plot in a Jot: DJ is the Jr. Sentinel for New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hits, decimating not only New Orleans but the border with Old Orleans. Her mentor and Sr. Sentinel goes missing and she has to figure out what happened to him and how to get those of Old Orleans to respect the borders. Oh! And there’s a sexy co-sentinel for her, as well as his sexy cousin.

I like it when a character is conflicted to the point that DJ is in this novel. Gerry practically raised her. Her father gave her up, then her grandmother handed her over to a total stranger and no one has ever told her why. But Gerry has become the center of her compass point: he is mentor, friend, father figure and more. As what happened both before and after the destruction of New Orleans unravels, DJ is conflicted. At first, she believes he has been kidnapped, held against his will. Then as she slowly comes to terms with what is going on…

Well, as that’s happening she gets a magic stick. Becomes closer to her co-sentinel, developing a relationship (not necessarily romantic although that might happen too).  Oh. For a little while, she also gets a dog named Gandolf. Hehehehehe. Oh, and some powers that she has no clue how to use.

Yah, this series is going to be a fun ride.

Bottom line: 4/5 WHOOHOO’s, because although Sookie might be gone we now have the Sentinels.

Book Review: Sea Change by S.M. Wheeler

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Tor.com has a great blog. They blog the blog-e-verse so well, that I was tempted to buy this new novel by a new author. (No, really, if you like Sci Fi or Fantasy, run right over there right now! They not only bring you info on new books, but also fandom stuff (think Buffy / Star Wars / etc), interviews and new fiction. So go. Now. GO!)

The post that hooked me in was by the author, S.M. Wheeler, about Krackens. I waited and waited for that darn book to be released via Nook, and when it finally was I was in the middle of a monster 1100 page Goliath (which was a disappointment and shall remain nameless for now). Sea Change clocks in at 203 pages on my Nook. It might be small, but it packs a mighty huge whallop.

PLOT IN A JOT: Lilly has a crappy home life with her privileged family, and when her only friend (a kracken) goes missing, Lilly sets out on a quest to save him.

 

BUT>>>>>

When I first started reading this, I thought to myself: Hey, maybe I can read this with my son (7 years old). That thought did not persist for long. While it is told in the style of an old fairytale, it is brutal. So brutal that if it had been written any other way, I would never have finished the book. I would have deleted it right off the Nook, disregarding any monies that I had spent. Within the course of the book, Lilly literally transforms into Lyle, her femininity completely ripped away from her. And then her humanity starts to be peeled away, too…

The fairytale convention was very smart on the part of the author. It allows a distance between the reader and the story. This is a deep, darkly disturbing story and I’m not sure I understand the half of it. But it has been bothering me, especially the ending. What the hell? I understand not every fairy tale came with a happy ending, but they did come with closure. I didn’t get any closure with this one.

SIGH.

Ok. And for all you writers out there… If you are going to put a magic freaking box in the story, given as a gift and then given to someone to save for your character… and a big deal is made of it… IT NEEDS TO COME BACK IN AT THE END OF THE STORY. I can’t lay my eyes on the part of the story where she leaves it with her step mother, but she says something about a secret being in the box or something (darned nook! I could have found the passage in a real book!). When she came home, I kept expecting that box to pop up. Never did. What?!

(In *my* ending, the box held her secret memories. So there!)

I can’t really rate this one. It’s definitely not a Wheee! Of a book. Or even a Whoohoo! It was too distant to produce tears, but I’m still thinking of it 2 days after finishing. So maybe… 4/5 woeful wandering thoughtful of a book?

The Name of the Wind By Patrick Rothfuss

Earlier in the week, I was scrolling through my blog reader, and came across this article  all about a fantasy series by Patrick Rothfuss. It intrigued me enough that I went and downloaded it onto my Nook.

The Name of The Wind is the first book in a series called The Kingkiller Chronicles.

You know those books that you put down and come back to never? THIS IS NOT THAT BOOK. As is the key with rich worlds, I fell into it and didn’t come up for air until I had finished. Words with Friends? PPfFFTTT. I was busy with Chronicler, Bast and Kvothe for the whole week.

Well, except for the pre-birthday shenanigans for my son’s birthday, and then the very real stomach flu on his actual birthday.

I love the language of this (world? character? writer? book?). But the mix between the regular everyday language in The Name of The Wind and the troubadour’s soul that comes through to pluck gently at your soul… oh wow.

And then there’s the framework of the story. It is a mix of first and third. The first person narrative is Kvothe telling his own story: of being half feral in the big city, of going to university, of love and loss and everything in between. Third person narrative is the present day, when he’s telling the story to Chronicler and Bast and interacting with the locals his inn serves.

It would be a mistake to miss those third person chapters, however. Because it becomes very obvious that the present may be just as perilous, if not more so, than the past.

Ohhh,…. I’m forcing myself *not* to buy book 2 yet. Maybe next weekend. I have things I have to get done and can’t afford to disappear for a week again.

 

In other news, I started a fiction writing class (of the online variety), and have been writing a little bit every day. Can’t ask for more than that right now. I also just some new books to read. I’m really liking the novel by Holly Chamberlain. It’s very different from the Name of the Wind, but I needed that.

Of course, I noticed that part of the frame work is similar to NotW.hehehehe.

 

Ta, my lovelies!

Henry V

I’ve been thinking about the writers and books that have inspired me. One of the ones that hits me every single time I read it is Henry V, by none other than Shakespeare. And yes, I know it’s a play and not a novel, but once you’re reading it… The words and drama take over and transport you.

Hamlet was a pretty play, so are the comedies. I love seeing the different version of them. But nothing resonates as deeply as Hal’s giant leap into majesty, and the war speeches that come after.

Yes, I said war speeches.

The first time I saw Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, I gasped. That one speech, at the end of the movie, when he’s sure that everyone is going to die but they need to fight anyways and Aaragon (I think that was his name) gets them to do it willingly? To buy a couple of hobbits a few moments to hopefully complete the mission?

Yah. I thought “Shakespeare.”

Henry V did battle with France and was grossly out numbered. The numbers go something like: English Men: 6,000. French Men: 30,000-60,000 (depending on which source you use for historical –i.e. real– numbers).Think about it. 

What kind of genius was he to turn around what should have been a stomping? The French had armor, but not the English. Did you know that if you knock someone over in armor and they land on their back they can’t get up? And if they fall forward into mud (and it was a muddy, dirty battlefield), they’d drown to death? Yup. Armor looks pretty, but has some pretty atrocious drawbacks to it.

But tactics alone couldn’t make scared men and boys follow you into certain death. No, in Shakespeare’s Henry V, it is the Eve of St Crispian’s Day Speech that’s gets them all going. . Google it, or look it up on You Tube. You can find it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-yZNMWFqvM  (not sure how to do links, but I’m trying!)

As an epic fantasy reader I see shades of this character all over. Not all live up to it, but oh when they do…

It truly is magical.

 

Beautiful Creatures

Beautiful Creatures, by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. Published by Little Brown (mass market paperback edition).

 

So I saw the ads for the movie, Beautiful Creatures, and thought to myself… You gotta read that book. Because so many times the books out strip the movie. Now, I probably did realize that the protagonists would be teenagers… I just didn’t think too much about it. Because, you know, it happens all the time in fantasy novels.

However, this novel takes place in the here and now. So, there was a bunch of high school shenaningans, along with everything else.

Beautiful Creatures starts out differently than I imagined. Why? Because the whole story is told in first person from the point of view of Ethan. I have never, that I recall, read a book of the romantic type from the male’s perspective. It makes sense from a dramatic point of view— he’s the one with the most to lose. He’s in way over his head, and quite frankly as new to the world of his new girlfriend as we the reader are.

One thing about the world building that I just adored: the house. OMG. It was the perfect compliment to this strange, weird, beautiful family. Constantly changing, rearranging, anticipating every need. I want that house. I want it bad! If you want to know how to make something that is absurdly, wonderfully magical in a story, this is the way to do it. Yah, the house can change, from a grand ballroom to a castle to what ever is needed… But in the end, the house is the least of the magic being slung around. It should be an all powerful fortress from which to hide… but it’s  not.

I also liked how they did the villaness. She beats Cruella DeVille, hands down. Not only that, but the way the authors explain where she’s been hiding— perfect sense, with out me having a clue that it was going to come to that. Ohhh.. it was good. And no, I won’t tell you, or tell you who it is for fear that I’ll spoil some of the suprise for you as well.

One little matter on this book. It is a big book. 563 story pages, according to the pagination. I’m not telling you this because I’m afraid of big books, or becaues I think you might be. I’m telling you this because the version I picked up (movie tie in) has the yucky binding. What that means is that not only did the spine crack, but that the book separated in half. Almost straght down the middle. Pretty soon pages are going to start to fall out. This is a concern to me mainly because I reread so very often. I have books longer than this one that I’ve read several times… Spines and binding still intact. So. If you think you might want to reread this type of book, I highly recommend either getting the Nook or Kindle version, or going one step up and getting a trade paperback (the larger ones that run about $13-15).

 

I’ve recently started reading more Tudor novels. I really like the time period– the politics are viscious and the women have to be wily to survive. I’ll tell you more during the week. Or, we can go the cozy mystery route. I’ve gotten back into being ecclectic. Oh, well, that’s the Wonderful World of Wyn.

 

Red by Kate Serine (Transplanted Tales)

I didn’t know what to expect when I started Red, by Kate SeRine. The titular character is Little Red Riding Hood, and both The Big Bad Wolf and the Grim Reaper are hanging around, as well as other very familiar characters.

It’s scary reading something like this, especially if you are a writer who has been involved in any sort of writing class, group, etc. Because there’s always, every single dang time, someone who thinks they can take their favorite stories, mash them together, and make something great. *eye roll* please.

Kate SeRine deftly makes the Transplanted Tales work because the characters are so much more than their tales. While their tale might be the popular version of things, it isn’t always the way things are. And you know, the characters are actual people in the here and now, so they’ve grown and changed beyond what everyone thinks they know.

I think that’s the key. You have to pay homage, acknowledge the original while still putting your own spin on the story. Because otherwise you end up with a mish mash of … other people’s words and worlds.

Of course, it also helps if you can write *grins*

So… all in all… it was a great read. I actually picked it up on the Nook while I was sick and it had me both engrossed and laughing so hard I nearly coughed a lung out. If you look for Red on the Nook Book site, you need to go by the author’s name… Kate SeRine. Otherwise it’s a pain in the backside to find.

In other words, go find it! The second one just came out— The Better to See You. I think it’s on sale for the Kindle, but not so the Nook right now. SIGH. But that’s ok, cuz it’s worth every single virtual penny I spent on it.

You should feel sorry for my Words with Friends friends… Cuz I ain’t playing until I finish this book!

I’ll post again later this week— Kim Harrison or Romances? Make your vote now, or forever hold your peace!

What has she gotten herself into now????

The title for this blog could just as easily be “what’s she done now”, All the people who know and love me can tell you that I have an aptitude for clutziness and am “highly intelligent, no common sense” as one brother puts it.

That being said, i am having an utter blast.

Last weekend I was feeling so much better that I started cleaning out the books and clutter in the garage. Then I went to tackle Ray’s bedroom. By Sunday, when I normally post, I was so disgusted and tired that I wanted to weep. No stamina.

This weekend however, not only did we go to the Mickey Grove Zoo (which should be billed as a min-zoo… not a whole lot there right now), I watched Ray’s little cousin T and ran around with the boys out back. We then proceeded into much birthday foolishness, since T’s birthday is coming up in the next week or so.

Today, it was hanging out with T. and L. Then playing in the back yard with Ray. When I say playing, I don’t mean the sitting on my butt being “base” to his army guy, either. I mean I got up and we kicked a ball around, ran around chasing aliens… generally having a grand old time.

In the past week or two, I also came to a hard decision on my not quite rock opera. I’m not ready for it. At 2 years, I’m still going through it and I was so angry and frustrated. Part of that was being sick for so long, but a lot of it was forcing myself to go through everything again. It might be that I need to deal with it in fiction when I get down to it, too, instead of a first person monologue.

I’ve started world building on Alex’s new story. Alex was the heroine of my Master’s Thesis. She was a kick butt kind of heroine, as Mistress of the Dragon’s she kind of has to be LOL. And a new story is perking and bubbling patiently, waiting for me to figure out the details.

Oh. And starting in March, I’ll be posting over on Mocha Memoirs’ blog, which I believe is linked on the side over there. I’m going to be posting on the 10th of the month and decided to do it Ten by Ten. So… Ten stanza poem, ten paragraph story/viginette etc etc. Any ideas for this? I’m not a great poet, but I love what I consider writing games.

I do have a few books to talk about, but I’ll try to get to them during the week.

Till later, my lovelies!