Give me magic, gadgets, monsters, zombies, everything that seems impossible, and throw in some tough chicks with swords. That's the stuff.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

On Writer Friends...

Since I started the whole "kindle-aholic likes to review and talk about books" thing a couple of years ago, I've been truly privileged to make friends with some very talented writers. Some go the traditional pub route, some are self-pubbed, but we all share a love of reading and writing. Recently one of them got some very big news...

I started out on Amazon, chatting about kickass Urban Fantasy in the forums. There I met Amanda Carlson. It turned out that we liked a lot of the same books and shared recommendations. Then one day she asked if I would mind taking a look at something she was working on. I quickly agreed, and soon I became one of her beta readers.

What does that mean? I read whatever she sends me and then say what I like/don't like, what I think works, what might be confusing and needs more explanation, and so on. It also means that I leave any spellchecking, grammar checking, etc at the door (I think this is easier said than done for a lot of folks). It means giving your opinion, but also backing away and not taking it personally if your comments aren't used (after all - it's not your story). More than that, I get to see a book come together. It's fantastic to see the first rough drafts, then see how things start coming together after some re-writes (and re-writes, cause that's what writing is).  I have to say - Amanda is one talented writer and she tells a helluva good story. She's also a great writing buddy and I learn a lot from her critiques.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Recent Reads - Hounded & After the Golden Age

It's been a week of deadlines and craziness, but here's a couple of great books I managed to read anyways. Links go to Goodreads.

Hounded by Kevin Hearne

It had me at "Thor is an asshat" (and that was page 2).

Do not get the wrong idea here - this isn't a romp through mythology with Beavis and Butthead, but the bits of snark and pop culture references had me laughing (there are some fantastic Star Wars references as well - this geekgirl approves).

Atticus looks like a 21 year old stoner who owns a New Age bookstore. He actually is a 21 HUNDRED year old Druid who has spent most of those 2100 years running from the Celtic god of love (the Celts weren't big on cherubs, and this guy packs a mean punch). Just when Atticus seems to have found a place he can settle in for awhile, he is discovered. Fight or flight? Throw in a complicated "friendship" with the Morrigan, more deities, other mythologies, vampires, werewolves, witches, betrayals, new allies, and Oberon, his trusty Irish Wolfhound, and you have an adventure with a broad cast of characters that never gets out of hand and leaves you wanting more.

Add that's the big thing - I can't wait to get my hands on book 2 and read more about Atticus and the world he lives in. There are no cliffhangers, I just had so much fun reading this book.

I'm giving it 4.5 stars, because we're still growing into the character and his world. Great start to series.

After the Golden Age by Carrie Vaughn

This feels like a perfect "summer book" - superheroes and supervillains, they go with summer like beaches and ice cream. What I liked the most about this book was that the heroine isn't a superhero, she's the absolutely normal daughter of the city's premiere superheroes. That she has feelings of inadequacy and severe parent issues is an understatement. She's also been a frequent kidnapping victim for most of her life (the opening chapter with her boredom at another kidnapping was great).

Now, just when she finally has built a life for herself, Celia's world starts falling apart. Crime is escalating in the city, her parent's arch-nemesis is finally going to trial, and Celia has been brought into the case.

Vaughn does the "seemingly weak character comes into her own" well - the character's journey was believable, and it was also easy to root for Celia.

I really enjoyed it, I would have liked a bit more interaction with some of the characters, but I was still satisfied with the end.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Thanks, Dad

I credit both of my parents with fostering (and feeding) my love of books, but my dad is the one who first introduced me to fantasy and sci fi. We all found comfort and joy in reading, and we still share books to this day.

So, thanks, Dad. Thanks for winning control over the TV most weekends so I HAD to watch Doctor Who, The Avengers, Star Trek, Wild Wild West and all of the other awesome shows you introduced me to. I might have made a snit over it, but deep down I really loved them.

Thanks for buying every book of the Belgariad, Mallorean and Elenium so we could all read them together. Thanks for the evening and weekend trips to the library and the bookstore. Thanks for not batting an eye during my vampire/magic obsessed teen years. Thanks for giving in on more than one occasion when I had to have a certain book or 10.

I hope you enjoy your present - yep, books! - there's one you asked for, and one I recently read and think you'll really like (Hounded by Kevin Hearne - good read!)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Supernatural Sidekick Smackdown...

Or why Andrea kicks major ass and is an AWESOME sidekick

It is no secret that I have undying fangirl love for the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews. (see Is It May 31 Yet?) One of my favorite aspects of this series is the friendship between Kate and Andrea. Like all relationships in this series, it develops slowly (Kate does have issues getting close to people), it has ups and downs, but the series would not be the same without it.

Vote for Andrea in the Supernatural Sidekick Smackdown (brought to you by the awesome Badass Book Reviews and Hesperia Loves Books). Her bracket is up tonight and goes for 24 hours.

Now, I'm going to talk about things that happen in the series. If you haven't read it, then be warned of spoilery things. Also, get off your ass and read these books! Back to Andrea....

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Recent Reads

I admit it - I read about 3-4 books at once. I see a new book and it's "Oooh! Shiny, pretty!" So sometimes it takes a little while to finish, but I usually enjoy it. No matter my mood, I can find something to read that fits it. Here's some of my recent reads (links go to Goodreads):

Song of Scarabaeus by Sara Creasy

This was a good read. Not what I was expecting (I was expecting a romance as I'd heard it was a sci fi romance), but that's not a bad thing. It reminded me of some of my favorite UF series, but with space travel, tech gadgets and genetic mutations instead of vamps and witches. There were some romance-y bits, but if you are looking for steam then you will be disappointed.

I liked the main characters (and Cat is a very intriguing secondary character), but there were so many (almost) nameless secondary/tertiary characters that I got some of them confused. It's also not done - I need to get the next book! Great start to series

I recently bought the complete Dante Valentine series. Book 1 starts with Dante Valentine, a powerful Necromancer and bounty hunter on the side, who gets a offer she can't refuse from the Prince of Hell himself - although in this future world, Hell and demons aren't exactly the Christian brimstone type, although they aren't altruistic either. We meet Dante's friends, enemies, a former lover with unresolved issues, and did I mention she is tracking a serial-killer demon? Gritty, cool world and magic system. Lots and lots of action. Really good starting point for the series. I'm glad I got all of the books, so I don't have to wait too long before I can get to the next one. I'm already kicking myself for waiting so long to start this one.

Shift by Jeri Smith-Ready

Jeri Smith-Ready does love triangles right. Yeah, it's a little high on the angst scale, but it's to be expected given the subject matter. This is book 2 in a trilogy (I'll try not to be SPOILERY, but if you are waiting to read book 1, then maybe you should stop here.).

To catch you up a little, everyone Aura's age and younger can see ghosts. This becomes quite personal for her when Logan, her boyfriend, ODs, but he hasn't crossed over, so she finds herself torn between moving on and keeping a slim hold on her love. She's also trying to figure out why the "shift" (that's whatever event caused the young to see ghosts) occurred, and what her mother had to do with it. And she meets Zach, a very handsome Scottish boy who is looking for answers too (cue love triangle). Then everything goes wrong and Logan becomes a shade - a dangerous ghost that has lost himself.

Back to this installment: For 2/3 of the book, it reads more like a YA romance with some ghostly bits. Some very interesting things happen with Logan (ha - understatement!), but a lot of it has to do with Aura trying to salvage relationships. The last third, though, WHEW! There are some BIG revelations here. Can't wait to see how this is going to be worked out. When is Shine out, again?

Friday, June 10, 2011

I Don't Pirate Books

There are many legitimate ways to get your hands on great reads:

1. Buy it from a reputable bookseller.
2. Library
3. Borrow from friends or family (who bought it from a reputable bookseller)
4. Luck out and win one in an author/blogger/publisher sponsored contest.

I love supporting books and the authors who have poured blood, sweat and tears into their work.

I don't f-ing pirate books. I won't help you do it. Nuff said.

On Meeting Authors - Nalini Singh

Have you ever gone to an author event? Sat with other book lovers, asked questions, maybe listened to a reading, got your book signed? If not, then if you get the chance, I highly recommend it.

I admit it - I'm an author event newbie. You better believe I will be trying to search out ones in the future. When I found out the Nalini Singh was going to be at a B&N in reasonable driving distance from home, I jumped at the chance. I got there a little early, bought the book I wanted to have signed (seriously folks, buy the book early - you don't want to have to go running to the cashier when it's signing time), and managed to sneak a chair up front. It ended up being standing room only, so give yourself some extra time, unless you like standing at the back. Online, Singh has always been charming, funny, and just plain nice. It was the same experience in person. She graciously answered all of the questions, teasing around anything spoilery, and her enthusiasm for these characters she created was infectious.

The occasion was the release of Singh's latest Psy/Changeling book - Kiss of Snow. It is the 10th in the series and her first released in hardback (for those who want the paperback - it will be released in about 5 months, faster than usual for a paperback).

Now here's where I have a confession to make. I've only read the first book in this series and some of the novellas. I've actually only read the first book in Singh's other series as well. So I'm new to the party, but that just means I don't have to wait a long time for the next one to come out.

It was a little weird when a fan asked which book was my favorite and I had to admit I'd only read the first one, but it was over quickly, and the exuberant crowd let me know that I would enjoy the other books in the series.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Musings on "Dark" Books

Who would have guessed that losing myself in a book would be the best way for me to find myself again?

I didn't always have a bright, shiny childhood. No, I wasn't abused, beaten, or molested. What I did have was a younger sister with a terminal disease. My formative years were spent visiting the kid's ward at the hospital - the side where they put the kids who were running out of time.

I remember seeing a little boy racing around. He must have been about 2. He looked so happy. I pointed him out to my parents, that he must be getting better now that he's running around. They got a weird look on their faces and told me that he was really sick, just having a good day at the moment. I then noticed his parents, the look on their faces. Similar to the look my parents had at times. A mix of happiness for a rare good time, a small tinge of hope that was dying as well. A few months later, I stopped seeing him and his parents.

It was the first time I really understood what was going on. That hospitals aren't just places where they "fix people", they are also waiting rooms for death. I also learned that sometimes it even happened to kids my age, or younger. Sometimes life just punches you in the face and there's not anything you can do about it. In time, no matter what my parents did (and even if they kick themselves over it to this day, I know they did everything they could) in time my sister lost her fight.

Who do you talk to about that stuff when you are a kid and every one of your friends has the normal sibling relationship? They aren't at hospitals, they aren't being dropped off at various houses so their parents can go to the next specialist, they aren't at funerals for kids younger than themselves. No one understood, and for the most part, the adults didn't know how to react to me. They could barely deal themselves, or they were worried about upsetting me. Truthfully - kids know. They know when you are hiding something and keeping it quiet doesn't help. Isolating someone because they had an experience you wouldn't want to wish on anyone doesn't help.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Kindle Book Deals and Recent Reads

Amazon Kindle "Sunshine Deals"

Just in time for summer reading - Amazon has over 600 eBooks on sale for $0.99, $1.99, and $2.99. At my personal favorite - the Sci Fi and Fantasy section, I've got my eye on Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley ($2.99), Those Who Hunt the Night by Barbara Hambly ($0.99), and Into the Dark Lands by Michelle Sagara West ($0.99). Lots of other books to choose from. If you don't yet have The Greyfriar by Susan Griffith and Clay Griffith you can pick it up for $2.99. Lots of Lit, Teen, Kids, and Nonfiction books too.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Magic Slays Review

I got it, read it in one day and loved every freaking minute of it. Then, I had to make up for all of the stuff I didn't do while I had my reading day, so today is review day.

I'm going to start with the notes I jotted down over at Goodreads right after I finished:

1. This series does not disappoint. There is a (BIG) problem to solve, but also quite a few things were set up for future encounters in later books.

2. Several "Holy Crap" moments, but fans will not be throwing their books at the wall. [And the end - what a tease! Not a cliffhanger at all, but I am already wanting book 6.]

3. Get quite a bit more info on Kate's family. Some I'd guessed, but not all.

4. Jaded as I am, Andrews continues to surprise me. Quite a few things I did not see coming.

5. Can't wait to see the consequences from this book's events.

6. Reading the Curran POVs Vol 2 before reading this book is a good idea - not necessary, you won't be lost, but it definitely made some scenes even more enjoyable.

7. Kate is still screwed up, but she's learning, and I loved all of her interactions w/Curran.