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1. Strange things did happen here…

Hi everyone!  So, that was another fun hiatus.  Since our last episode: My family moved from our Wisconsin home of 20 years, to the Fort Wayne area. I’ve made it a project to check out all the area coffee places and review them on FourSquare (and also hopefully find a new favorite haunt or two). Put […]

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2. A Lot Further Down The Romance Road

Back in 2012, I found Daughter of Smoke and Bone to be both romance and fantasy, two genres I'm not fond of in and of themselves. I need something more in those genres, such as a strong character, or, in the case of Daughter of Smoke and Bone, a mystery. Who was the main character, Karou? Why was the guy with the wings always hanging around her? There was a journey thing going on, as Karou discovered who and what she was. I can't find a post on Days of Blood and Starlight, the second book in the trilogy, but I recall feeling it was a connector, which second books in trilogies often are.

Dreams of Gods and Monsters, the last book in the trilogy, is more clearly a romance. There's various other things going on, but the real significant storyline here is all about Karou and Akiva. Their eyes meet across a crowd. There are many paragraphs about kissing. Lots of relationship stuff. There are teases for the reader, too. Will they kiss? Someone shows up at the cave opening and No! The kiss is off! Will they get together for some real hot and heavy stuff? Oh, they're getting closer...closer...No! Akiva has disappeared!

You can probably tell I'm not that keen on Karou and Akiva anymore. No, Liraz was my big interest in this book. I won't tell you who she gets together with because that's the best surprise.

The Significance Of Romance And Marketing "Gods And Monsters"

 

I happened to read A Billion-dollar Affair in the Oct. 24 issue of Entertainment Weekly while I was reading Dreams of Gods and Monsters. Sales of romance are huge, there's an enormous market. At the same time, though, author Karen Valby says the "long-ridiculed" genre is "dismissed by the critical mass." As a result, I started wondering how Dreams of Gods and Monsters is being marketed. Is it being promoted as a fantasy or paranormal romance, which could bring it to a large and appreciative audience? Or is it being marketed as something else, perhaps to avoid the romance label?

In a USA Today interview, Taylor talks about working on a short story for a romance anthology, so she thinks of romance as a genre she works within, at least some of the time
. I think there is a romance thing going on in the publisher's marketing of the book, but it's subtle. The publisher's copy at its website includes the line "They begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves--maybe even toward love." There's also talk of various beings fighting, striving, loving, and dying.

Wait. I just realized. My romance reading is limited to historical mysteries with couple characters. I don't read advertising copy for romance novels. "They begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves--maybe even toward love" may be exactly how a romance novel is marketed.

Dreams of Gods and Monsters is a Cybils nominee in the Young Adult Speculative Fiction category.
From the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond, humans, chimaera, and seraphim will fight, strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy. - See more at: http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titles/laini-taylor/dreams-of-gods-monsters/9780316134071/#desc
They begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves--maybe even toward love. - See more at: http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titles/laini-taylor/dreams-of-gods-monsters/9780316134071/#desc
They begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves--maybe even toward love. - See more at: http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titles/laini-taylor/dreams-of-gods-monsters/9780316134071/#desc
They begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves--maybe even toward love. - See more at: http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titles/laini-taylor/dreams-of-gods-monsters/9780316134071/#desc
They begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves--maybe even toward love. - See more at: http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titles/laini-taylor/dreams-of-gods-monsters/9780316134071/#desc
They begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves--maybe even toward love. - See more at: http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titles/laini-taylor/dreams-of-gods-monsters/9780316134071/#desc

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3. Book Review- The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley

Title: The Mirror Empire
Author: Kameron Hurley
Series:  Worldbreaker Saga #1
Published:  26 August 2014 by Angry Robot
Length: 569 pages
Warnings: semigraphic sex, assault, graphic gore
Source: Netgalley
Other info: Hurley has written many things, like God’s War and We Have Always Fought.
Summary : On the eve of a recurring catastrophic event known to extinguish nations and reshape continents, a troubled orphan evades death and slavery to uncover her own bloody past… while a world goes to war with itself.
In the frozen kingdom of Saiduan, invaders from another realm are decimating whole cities, leaving behind nothing but ash and ruin.
As the dark star of the cataclysm rises, an illegitimate ruler is tasked with holding together a country fractured by civil war, a precocious young fighter is asked to betray his family and a half-Dhai general must choose between the eradication of her father’s people or loyalty to her alien Empress.
Through tense alliances and devastating betrayal, the Dhai and their allies attempt to hold against a seemingly unstoppable force as enemy nations prepare for a coming together of worlds as old as the universe itself.
In the end, one world will rise – and many will perish.
Review: Two worlds exist, mirrors of each other, and two versions of people exist, one in each world. Doorways can be opened between them, but you can only cross into the other world if your double in that one is dead. In one world, the Kai, the leader of the magic workers,Kirana, dies mysteriously, leaving her ungifted brother Ahkio  to take her place. In another story line, Lilia was pushed through a door to escape death. Many other stories weave together to form the story of this mirror empire.
I read this because Kameron Hurley's  blog posts are really good and Angry Robot had this on offer from Netgalley and I'd heard of really good diversity  and so I read this.
I haven't read high fantasy for some time,I think, and it shows. I did infer lots of things about this world  and my head picture is probably completely different to Hurley's.
I also think I missed something crucial as to how everything fits together in terms of plotlines. There's Zezeli,an army captain, who goes campaigning and then.has to find her husband Anavha (who we followed for a bit then I think we stopped following him which was sad because I liked him). Other characters I liked include Roh, Ahkio, Taigan, Gian and many others. Most of the main characters really.  They were all developed, and their stories were intriguing and I wanted to carry on reading about them despite me not fully understanding the links between them all.
The worlds are well developed. Polyamory and female led relationships and strong belief in magic and a  coherent magic system can be found, and settings range from army camps to cities to frozen areas.
The writing is descriptive, even in the very gory areas. It felt like  a long book, but it didn't feel slow. i didn't want this book to end!
characters' storylines clearly overlap in places, but in others, it felt like we were just following someone without it feeding in to a main thing.  I didn't mind, because the small plots were well written and interesting, but I would like to see more convergence in any future novels.


Overall:  Strength 4 tea to a book I enjoyed for its characters' individual plots, despite them not all coming together.


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4. Zac’s Destiny – Award Winner!

Great News! Zac’s Destiny won the online People’s Book Awards for the month of October 2014! Thank you so much to everyone who voted.
This award winning Sword & Sorcery fantasy is available to purchase from Amazon worldwide.

Click here to buy your copy

Kindle winner Oct14

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5. Zac’s Destiny – Award Winner!

Great News! Zac’s Destiny won the online People’s Book Awards for the month of October 2014! Thank you so much to everyone who voted.
This award winning Sword & Sorcery fantasy is available to purchase from Amazon worldwide.

Click here to buy your copy

Kindle winner Oct14

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6. Hansel & Gretel by Neil Gaiman and Lorenzo Mattotti

Hansel & Gretel, written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Lorenzo Mattiotti is the newest release from TOON Graphics, a line of graphic novels for kids reading at 3rd grade level and above, launched by the superb François Mouly and the fantastic people at TOON Books. What Gaiman and Mattotti do with a very familiar fairy tale in their rendition is amazing, both for the spare starkness of

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7. Siren’s Song

Siren’s Song

Siren's Song Illustration by Manelle Oliphant

Siren’s Song, Personal Project: Digital

A Short Story

By Manelle Oliphant

To Download This Story Click Here

Joseph stood on the ship’s deck where he’d served for the last three years and stared at the miniature painting his wife had sent. The picture showed his smiling two-year-old son in a sailor’s outfit.

“I show him your portrait and tell him about you every day. We are very excited you will be home soon,” her most recent letter had read.

Joseph smiled. The shortcut through the pass would allow them to be home in a few short weeks. He would see his wife and meet his son. Best of all he could now retire from the navy. The crew had made a fortune on this voyage. His percent plus the money he’d saved from his pay was enough to buy a small house.

The ship’s bell tolled and someone yelled, “Amar Pass ahead! Make yourself ready.”

Joseph stuffed the letter and miniature in his pocket as he ran toward the helm. Sailing through the pass required strict protocol. Every sailor must have their ears plugged and be tied to the ship. One man steered the ship with his hands tied to the helm. The pass’s smooth water held few hidden rocks, despite the high hills on either side. The pass itself was safe. Any danger came from the creatures who lived there.

Commander Weldmen would steer the ship, and Joseph’s assignment was to help him prepare. When Joseph arrived Weldmen handed him some rope. “Get on with things Midshipman. We don’t have long.”

“Yes sir.” Joseph took the rope and waited while Commander Weldmen plugged his ears with wads of cloth. Then he tied the Commander’s hands to the wheel. Weldmen nodded and Joseph ran to the main deck.

The pass was in view. The sight filled him with dread no matter how many times he’d seen it before. He took some rope from Billy, another Midshipmen, and tied himself to the railing. He double checked its tightness around his waist, and stuffed his ears with cotton cloth.

The only sound Joseph could hear as they entered the pass was the breathing inside his head. Huge boulders jutted up out of the water on either side of them. He looked toward the shoreline where the sirens sat.

They were ugly. They looked like women but green and blue scales covered their skin. Instead of legs they had long tails, which flopped in the water like a dying fish. When the ship steered close enough they bit at the sailors with their sharp teeth.

All the while they sang a song Joseph couldn’t hear. The song enchanted men to drown themselves. Stories told of only one man who heard the song and survived. His shipmates kept him from jumping overboard and he lived out the rest of his days in an asylum. Joseph shuttered when he thought about it.

The movement loosed the cotton in his left ear and it fell into the water. Horrified he watched it fall into the water, and the beauty of the song wrapped around his heart.

Joseph reached up and pulled the other plug from his ear. Waves of song flowed through him. The water, clouds, and rocks dazzled before his eyes. He looked at the singing women and sighed. Such beautiful women! His heart leaped in his chest when one smiled at him. Her teeth shined like pearls and her scales glistened in the sun. She waved him over. He waved back. He thought about feeling her cold skin and wet tail. He imagined putting his arm around her tiny waist and pulling her close. Would she let him give her a kiss?

He tried to jump over the railing but a rope tied around his waist stopped him. He remembered tying the rope but couldn’t understand the reason. There was no danger here. He grabbed at the knot with his fingers. It wouldn’t budge. Curse his knot tying skill. He pulled a knife from his pocket and sawed at his prison.

Someone grabbed his arm. Joseph looked up. Billy shook his head and reached for the knife. Joseph scowled and jerked it away. Wasn’t Billy his friend? Now, when he thought back, he remembered all the times Billy had betrayed him. Why hadn’t he seen it before?

Billy reached for the knife again. Joseph hit him with its handle. Billy’s nose started to bleed.

Joseph smiled. Serves him right. He finished sawing and jumped into the water.

Cold engulfed his whole body and a current pulled at his legs. The sensations invigorated his body. He’d never felt so alive. He kicked to the surface and looked around. The ship had passed him. He waved at the men who watched him from the poop deck. Silly fools, they would regret not taking this chance. He turned to the shore and spotted the flirt who smiled at him before. He grinned and swam toward her.

He ignored the current pulling at his legs, and imagined running his fingers through her long clammy hair. His muscles grew colder but rainbows danced off her scales as the sunlight hit them. He smiled again. His eyes had never beheld such a feast. He had never heard such a song. He ignored his body’s protests and swam closer. His whole purpose in life was to make this beautiful creature happy.

She was so close now. She smiled at him again with her beautiful arrow-like teeth. Inviting teeth. Oh, to kiss her mouth!

The current pulled at his legs again, he fought it, but his cold muscles protested. His head went under water. He kicked hard and resurfaced. He reached for her. She sang her song. He relaxed and sunk again. He looked up through the clear water. She grinned at him. Water filled his mouth. He didn’t fight. Water filled his nose. He breathed it in. He could still see her smile. He had made her happy. Now he knew every event in his life, good and bad, had happened to lead him to this blessed moment.

November 6, 1895

My Dear Mrs. Hansen,

I understand you have heard the news of your husband’s death. I write to offer you my deepest condolences. I served with your husband on the Greenfly for the last three years. He talked of you often, and was very proud of his son. He showed me the miniature you sent. He looks like a strong healthy boy who takes after his father. I was with him as he went overboard and I know he thought of you ‘til the last. Your husband was a good man, and a good friend. It was an honour to serve with him.

With deepest sympathies,

Midshipman William Smith

 

The End

 

Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed this book support the author and the creation of other ebooks like this at http://www.patreon.com/manelleoliphant

Manelle Oliphant Patreon

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8. Come On. No One Else Gets A "Jane Eyre" Vibe Here?

When I was a teenager, I was a big fan of historical romance. In college, I would read Georgette Heyer during exam weeks to relax. As an adolescent, I really liked that "I hate you, I hate you, I hate you, Well, maybe you're not so bad" storyline in a historical setting. So I picked Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge off the Cybils Young Adult Speculative Fiction nomination list for one reason and one reason only: The main character has been raised to marry and murder a demon who has had control of her country since before she was born but falls for him before she can complete her task. Okay, it was paranormal and not historical, but I was dealing with a speculative fiction list, after all.

Now, though I seem to read a lot of fantasy, it's mainly because a lot of children's and YA books are fantasy. It's not because I'm so fond of it. I don't get excited about fantasy elements, as a general rule.  I'm not crazy about houses that are always changing, for instance, as the one in Cruel Beauty does. I was kind of mystified about who the Kindly Ones were in this book, especially since there seems to be an alternative Greek mythology thing going on here and where do the Kindly Ones fit in? But that didn't matter because the demon was very witty and clever and our protagonist wasn't a particularly nice person, which I like in a heroine.

Yes, Teen Gail would have loved this thing. Cruel Beauty should be on a list of teen vacation reading that is totally inappropriate for school papers. 

But If You Want To Write A School Paper On It, Try Talking About Jane Eyre


However, if someone really wants to sell this as a subject for a high school paper, I think they might be able to do a Jane Eyre comparison. Cruel Beauty is being marketed as a Beauty and the Beast meets Greek mythology tale, but I kept thinking of Jane Eyre.

Jane Eyre was not assigned reading for me when I was a teenager. I read it on my own, as I read a great many things back then. I did not find it particularly memorable, except for the scene where poor Jane sits on the sidelines during an evening event at Mr. Rochester's house. That probably speaks volumes about my adolescence. I didn't become a fan of Jane's until I re-read it in 2003 after reading The Eyre Affair. The Good Reading Fairy had hit it, and I've become a bit of a Jane Eyre groupy, looking for and reading retellings. Cruel Beauty may not be an intentional retelling, but I still think an enterprising student could make a case that would convince a teacher to at least accept a Beauty/Jane Eyre paper.

Jane Eyre is about a prickly young woman who doesn't inspire affection in traditional relationships, such as the one with her aunt. In the course of acquiring what is by the standards of her time a good education, she is not treated very well. She enters a wealthy (wealth is power) man's home as a governess. Said wealthy man is unhappy and bitter over the life he has been forced to live. These two damaged, unromantic people find something in each other.

Cruel Beauty is about a bitter, angry young woman, her father's least favorite child, the one he bartered away to a demon. He provides her with what is by the standards of her world a good education so she can kill the demon he's marrying her off to. The plan will mean her death as well, explaining her bitterness and anger. She enters a powerful male's home as his wife. Said powerful male is amusing and attractive but resigned to a fate he brought upon himself, one we're not aware of for a while. These two damaged, I can't say unromantic because I'm sure we're supposed to think they are, people recognize something in each other.

In Jane Eyre, there's a madwoman in the attic. In Cruel Beauty, there's a little something in one of the house's many rooms.   

Jane and Mr. Rochester's story in Jane Eyre is framed with a beginning piece about Jane's rough youth with her family and boarding school and an ending bit about her suffering after she leaves Rochester. Nyx and Ignifex's story in Cruel Beauty is framed with a beginning piece about Nyx's rough youth with her family and an ending bit about her suffering after she and Ignifex are separated. Some have argued that Mr. Rochester's blindness is a punishment for what he planned for himself and Jane, a punishment that was alleviated when Jane returned to him. A clever high school student could argue that Ignifex was punished for all he had done, a punishment that was alleviated when Jane returned to him.
 
There you've got it, folks, the beginning of a Cruel Beauty/Jane Eyre English paper.

Wait! There's more! It's kind of a stretch, but if enterprising students wanted to, they could claim there's a bit of a torn-between-two-lovers thing going on in Jane Eyre what with Jane being proposed to by both Mr. Rochester and that creepy minister named St. John. The author of Cruel Beauty does something interesting with the torn-between-two-lovers cliche.

Okay, lads and lasses. You're welcome to this material, but put it into your own words.

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9. World Building

Here are some techniques to use when creating a fantasy world for your story. 

http://www.adventuresinyapublishing.com/2014/10/craft-of-writing-world-building-tips-by.html

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10. Steampunk queen: an interview with Gail Carriger

gail brookline parasol Steampunk queen: an interview with Gail Carriger

Tea time! Photo: Elissa Gershowitz

Gail Carriger introduced readers to her alternate Victorian London — chock-full of steampunk technology and supernatural characters — in 2009 with Soulless, the first volume of her five-book adult series The Parasol Protectorate. The Finishing School series, a YA prequel series set in the same world, soon followed, beginning with Curtsies & Conspiracies. Espionage lessons, a dirigible boarding school, a girl inventor, vampires and werewolves, witty banter: what more could a steampunk fantasy fan ask for? Gail is currently working on another companion YA series, The Custard Protocol, which will kick off with Prudence in spring 2015.

brooklineinvite Steampunk queen: an interview with Gail Carriger

You’re invited… Photo: Elissa Gershowitz

My beloved local Brookline Public Library (hi Robin!) hosted Gail on November 10th for a lovely evening tea party — cucumber sandwiches and all! — and Q&A event to celebrate the release of Waistcoats & Weaponry, the third book in the Finishing School series. I spoke with her over tea just before the event. In addition to being a prolific and (ahem) fantastic author, Gail is also an archaeologist by training, Elissa’s college roomie (Oberlin represent!), and a very stylish lady — she told me she had a different Waistcoats & Weaponry–cover coordinated ensemble for each stop on the book tour.

The Parasol Protectorate books are adult books and The Finishing School series is YA — although there’s been a lot of crossover, with the YA books being read by adults and the adult books being read by teens. Have you found that there are things you can do in adult books that you can’t do in YA, or vice versa?

For me, YA has to be — and this is what I like about it — it has to be very clean and sharp. As a writer, it requires me to do a lot more editing because it needs to be very sparse. You don’t sacrifice details, but you sacrifice a certain amount of waffling. In adult books you’re allowed to put in extra little bits and distract the readers with pretty description for a while. In young adult, you just can’t do that. You have to be very structured and paced. Pacing is always really important to me, but I think in YA it’s even more important. That’s one of the biggest differences. And I allow myself to be a little more racy when I’m writing the adult stuff.

carriger waistcoats and weaponry Steampunk queen: an interview with Gail CarrigerYour Finishing School protagonist Sophoronia Temminnick has quite the name. Do you have other favorite Victorian-era names that you’ve come across in your research (or that you’ve come up with yourself)?

I tend to use them if I come across them. I love the name “Euphrenia”; I don’t know if I’ve leaked it into the books yet, but it’s one of my favorite ultra-Victorian names. I really like first names that are traditionally Victorian but are not used anymore. That’s one of the reasons I chose “Sophronia.” It’s still a pretty name, and sort of like “Sophia,” but just old-fashioned enough for you to know immediately, the minute that you read her name, that she’s not of our time. “Dimity” was another actual name from the time period. Alexia [from the Parasol Protectorate books] only got named “Alexia” because she was one of those characters that announced herself as being named that. Sometimes characters just enter your head and they’re like, “This is my name!” “Soap” is one of those as well. “Pillover” is another one — it’s not a real name; I just made that one up completely. But “Sophronia” and “Dimity” I picked.

Is there a mythological creature that you’ve been wanting to introduce into this world that you haven’t gotten to yet?

I’m pretty strict with myself with world-building. I’m sticking to motifs of vampires, shape-shifters, and ghosts, probably because almost every ancient culture has some version of them, like the kitsune in Japan. But I excavated in Peru for a while and there is a legend in the Peruvian highlands of a creature called a pishtaco (which is fantastically ridiculous-sounding, first of all). It’s essentially a fat-sucking vampire rather than a blood-sucking vampire — which is comedy gold. I’m dying to get [Custard Protocol protagonist] Prudence to the New World at some point so that she can meet one of these creatures and I can write all about them.

gail standing brookline Steampunk queen: an interview with Gail Carriger

Ensemble #1 at the Brookline Public Library. Photo: Elissa Gershowitz

Are we going to see more mechanimals like Bumbersnoot in the Finishing School books? (Or do you say “mech-animals”?)

I say “mechanimals,” like “mechanicals” but with an “animal” at the end. You will see more of them, but you’re not going to see a named little friend like Bumbersnoot. There’s quite a few in the last book but that’s all I’m going to say.

If you were going to have a mechanimal pet yourself, what kind of animal would you pick?

Probably something like a hedgehog. I would like a round, roly-poly, friendly sort of critter. I have a very demanding cat who’s svelte and overdramatic, so I think I’d like a calm, rodentia-style, chubby little creature. Something in the porcupine, hedgehog arena. The cat would probably be very upset with it.

What would your dream teatime guest list and menu look like?

Oh, goodness. Do I get to pick fantastic characters? Or historical people?

Sure. Living, dead, fictional — anyone you want.

There’s part of me that has to be true to my archaeological roots and pick Nefertiti, Hatshepsut, Boadicea… I’m attracted to super-powerful female historical figures, the queens and mistresses, so I’d probably concoct a party that was all these fantastic women from history. The problem, of course, would be interpretation, but it’s my fantasy so everyone would speak English. I’m an adventurous eater, and I’d like to cater to the guests, so I’d have foods from all of the different places and times they came from. One of my favorite things is cooking ancient food, sourcing the ingredients and re-creating it myself. I think if you can taste the flavor of the past, you can get a better impression of it. I’d try to do that so everybody got to try everybody else’s dishes.

What’s your specialty, your pet era as an archaeologist?

I’m not an area specialist; I’m a materials specialist. My focus was on ceramics. To this day I have a propensity to pick up a piece of pottery and flip it over to look at the back side — which can be terribly embarrassing if I’ve forgotten that there’s food on the front side — to look for the maker’s mark.

gail cambridge Steampunk queen: an interview with Gail Carriger

Ensemble #2 at Cambridge’s Pandemonium Books and Games store. Photo: Elissa Gershowitz

Are there other historical eras that you’d like to write about?

The series I’m writing now [The Custard Protocol] is set in the 1890s, which is basically the dawn of female emancipation. Mostly because of trousers — women gained a great deal of autonomy due to education and to the bicycle. The two combined started the New Woman movement, these educated young ladies with self-motivation and autonomy. I’m excited to move closer to the turn of the twentieth century and to have a bit more realism behind my super-strong female characters, because they’re not quite realistic to their time. There’s certainly other time periods I’d love to write in. I’d love to set an ancient story in some of the places I’ve visited.

What would be the most useful gadget for a Finishing School student to have on her person in the case of an espionage emergency? (This is a very difficultly worded question!)

It sounds like something I’ve written! The voice-acting talent [for my audiobooks] is always calling and complaining because I love tongue-twisters. I don’t even realize I’ve written them until somebody’s like, “Why did you write that?!” “I didn’t think about you guys reading it out loud.”

“Handiest gadget?” is the short version!

I love Sophronia’s fan, but I think it’s really handy for her. She becomes comfortable with it and adapts to it, but it’s not necessarily something that would be useful for everybody. In the final book, the chatelaine really comes to the fore. The girls keep going to balls, and they keep having to have chatelaines on them. A chatelaine is like the base for a Swiss Army Knife; it hangs off your belt and there’s a bunch of little chains and clips so you can hang multiple little things off it. Customarily you’d have a bit of perfume and a dance card, maybe keys or a little sewing kit. But of course Geraldine’s girls have a whole different set of things dangling! I love the idea that you could just attach something that has everything useful hanging off of it. Why can’t we still do that?

More fabulous photos at the Brookline Public Library Teen Room Tumblr.

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11. Adelita’s Secret by Christopher Cloud

AdelitasSecret_Ecover-187x300Title: Adelita’s Secret

Author: Christopher Cloud

Publisher: Create Space Independent Publishing Platform

Genre: young adult fantasy romance

Format: paperback copy, kindle 

Lost in a superficial world of materialism and social status—and ashamed of her Latino heritage—seventeen-year-old Adelita Noé is loved by two men, two men separated by a hundred years and vastly different stations in life. One man owns little more than the shirt on his back. The other, a poet at heart, is heir to a vast fortune. Their love for Adelita serves as the backdrop for the Latino girl’s quest to better understand herself and her Mexican roots.

For More Information:

Title is available at Amazon kindle,  or paperback

Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble

Ron-15-224x300
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Award-winning author Christopher Cloud began writing fiction full time at the age of 66 after a long career in journalism and public relations. He writes middle-grade and young adult novels. Chris graduated from the University of Missouri in 1967 with a degree in journalism. He has worked as a reporter, editor, and columnist at newspapers in Texas, California, and Missouri. He was employed by a major oil company as a public relations executive, and later operated his own public relations agency. Chris lives in Joplin, Missouri, and enjoys golf and hiking. 

Visit Christopher Cloud’s website

Visit Cloud’s blog

More books by Christopher Cloud


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12. Demons and Thieves

Demons and Thieves
Author: Lynda Berger
Publisher: Fuluji’s Publishing Ltd
Genre: Adventure / Fantasy
ISBN: 9780957374300
Pages: 268
Price: £6.99

Author’s website
Buy it at Bookstore.co.uk

Tad Bailey can’t take much more. After another fight between his parents, he runs from his home, wondering if things can get any worse. When he discovers a mysterious gate leading to another world, he’s offered a chance at happiness. He doesn’t know it, but he’s been living in the Shadows, and now he has the opportunity to get out.

All he has to do is find three Keys in Shiladu before time expires. If he doesn’t succeed, he’ll be stuck there forever. While he’s there, demons prey on his vulnerabilities, another visitor tries to steal his Keys, and a permanent resident of Shiladu upsets the time continuum, making Tad the scapegoat. Seeking the Keys is his ultimate goal, but he’s even more concerned with making it out of Shiladu alive.

Demons and Thieves is an exciting fantasy and adventure novel that grabbed my interest from the very beginning. Tad faces dangerous situations that he needs to escape from, and he never knows what lurks behind the next corner. Evil comes at him from every direction, keeping the reader hooked to find out what happens next. I enjoyed this story very much, and I look forward to reading the next two books in this Seven Keys Trilogy.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


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13. Friday Feature: Wicked Path by Eliza Tilton





Wicked Path, by Eliza Tilton

Genre: young-adult, fantasy

Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press

Date of Release­­: October 6, 2014

Series: Daath Chronicles (#2)

Cover Artist: Michelle Johnson at Blue Sky Design(https://www.facebook.com/pages/Blue-Sky-Design/1401031006827361?sk=timeline)

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22452354-wicked-path?from_search=true

Description:
In Wicked Path: Book Two of the Daath Chronicles brother and sister are forced to opposite sides of Tarrtainya on a fast-paced adventure where the wildlife isn’t the only thing trying to kill them.

Three months have passed since Avikar defeated the Reptilian Prince, and he still can’t remember his battle with Lucino. On the hunt for answers, he returns to the scene of the fight and discovers a strange connection between his family’s dagger and the mysterious kingdom of Daath, and it seems only his distant father can reveal the truth behind it all.

Before Avikar can travel back home, Lucy assaults him in the market and forces him to flee to Nod Mountains—a place few dare to enter, and even less return from. With Raven and her childhood friend by his side, they must survive the treacherous journey through the pass with a vengeful Lucy hunting them. If they don’t, they’ll never see home again.

Jeslyn’s new life in Luna Harbor is the perfect remedy for her confused and broken heart. But when a group of mercenaries kidnap her beloved Grandfather, interrupting her daily routine as his jewelry apprentice, she's forced to join forces with the one person from her past she tried to forget.


And his assistance comes with a price.

About The Author:

Eliza graduated from Dowling College with a BS in Visual Communications. When she’s not arguing with excel at her day job, or playing Dragon Age 2, again, she’s writing.

Her YA stories hold a bit of the fantastical and there’s always a hot romance. She resides on Long Island with her husband, two kids and one very snuggly pit bull.

Find Eliza Tilton Online:


Website (http://elizatilton.com/)| Facebook(https://www.facebook.com/pages/Eliza-Tilton-YA-Author/245765852217133) | Twitter (https://twitter.com/ElizaTilton)| Goodreads(https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7047768.Eliza_Tilton)

Want your YA, NA, or MB book featured on my blog? Contact me here and we'll set it up.

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14. KidLit Book Review - Ashlynn's Dreams by Julie C. Gilbert

   

Ashlynn’s Dreams
Written by Julie C. Gilbert


Julie C. Gilbert has created and delivered a fantasy adventure like no other. From the onset the reader is immersed into Jillian Blairington’s world told from the perspective of those closest to her as well as Jillian’s inner most thoughts. Using the technique of diary/letter entries shared from each perspective person, the reader is carried through a journey of unexpected twists and turns. Jillian longs for the days of her predictable life after her kidnapping. What she learns about her existence and the plans Dr. Deyva has for her newfound capabilities shatters Jillian’s every waking thought and dream state. Will she figure out all the components to save herself, Danielle and her “new siblings” in time? Or will Jillian succumb to the treachery of Dr. Deyva and the so-called capability of shaping a person’s dreams?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Best wishes,
Donna M. McDine
Multi Award-winning Children's Author

Ignite curiosity in your child through reading!

Connect with
A Sandy Grave ~ January 2014 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ 2014 Purple Dragonfly 1st Place Picture Books 6+, Story Monster Approved, Beach Book Festival Honorable Mention 2014, Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

Powder Monkey ~ May 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Story Monster Approved and Reader's Favorite Five Star Review

Hockey Agony ~ January 2013 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ~ Story Monster Approved and Reader's Farvorite Five Star Review

The Golden Pathway ~ August 2010 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.
~ Literary Classics Silver Award and Seal of Approval, Readers Favorite 2012 International Book Awards Honorable Mention and Dan Poynter's Global e-Book Awards Finalist

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15. Audio book reviews - recent fantasy favorites

*
I'm back from vacation and have some catching up to do!  If you're a frequent reader, you'll know that I review books for AudioFile Magazine.  Once submitted, I cannot reprint my reviews here, but I can offer a quick rundown, and link to the reviews as they appeared for AudioFile.


I am smitten with the unflappable Jennifer Strange, protagonist of Jasper Fforde's Chronicles of Kazam series. I recently reviewed the second book in the series, The Song of the Quarkbeast. A quirky, funny, and smartly-written fantasy series.  Book 3, The Eye of Zoltar just published last month, so get reading!  Read my review of The Song of the Quarkbeast here.  Suggested for ages 10-14. (I think older readers may enjoy it as well.)

I love Cornelia Funke's dark fantasy titles.  The Inkheart trilogy is a favorite series, and I thoroughly enjoyed Reckless, the first in the Mirrorworld series. I was thrilled when offered an opportunity to review her new early chapter book fantasy, Emma and the Blue Genie, especially when I discovered that she is the narrator.  My review of Emma and the Blue Genie is here.  Suggested for ages 7-10.
 (I only reviewed the audio copy, but the print copy is lovely - small and special and delightfully illustrated)




* Headphone image courtesy of Openclipart.org.

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16. Review: The Turning Season by Sharon Shinn

 

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I’ve read and enjoyed several of Shinn’s older books, so I was curious to see if I’d still like her writing style now.  I haven’t read any of the other books in the Shifting Circle series, and I didn’t feel that I was missing anything by not reading them.  The Turning Season stood well on it’s own, though now that I’ve read it, I would like to read the other books in the series.

 

Karadel is a shape-shifter and she hates it.  She hates the unpredictability and the disruption to her life, and she yearns to be normal.  She has a small group of close friends who help out with her animal menagerie when she’s unable to because she’s changed into something else.  She experiments with the DNA of other shifters in an attempt to make her own change cycles more regulated.  Living outside of a small town, she works as a vet, as well as offering shelter and medical care to other shifters in need.

The Turning Season reads like a day in the life of a reluctant shape-shifter, and though the pacing might be slow for some readers, I really enjoyed it.  I liked how powerless Karadel felt about her shifts; she has no control over when or what she will change into.  This makes it difficult to do many of the things that I take for granted.  Planning a vacation, a date, or even holding a steady job outside of the house is nearly impossible for her.  Going to school if you are a teenage shape-shifter is definitely not a good idea.  Karadel has a contingency plan in place for when she does change, and her close friends make her chaotic life possible.

Her  impulsive friend Celeste inadvertently turns Karadel’s life on end.  After Celeste changes shape in public, Karadel’s got serious damage control to orchestra.  Worse, Celeste’s life is in danger, and the small community of shape-shifters is in danger of being exposed.  This is so not a good time to start having romantic feelings for a local guy.  Worse, he’s normal.  How can Karadel ever share her secret and be herself with him, when she’s having such a hard time accepting herself for who she is?  Then, to make things really difficult, throw in a murder and make your ex the main suspect.  Karadel’s quiet life goes from bad to worse, and she isn’t sure who she can trust with the truth.

I thought the love story was sweet, and that Joe was the perfect match for Karadel.  I found all of the characters engaging, even the sly sheriff who always seemed to be sniffing around for the truth.  All of the shifters had different challenges to deal with regarding their ability, and I found it interesting how they dealt with them.  Overall, I enjoyed the world Shinn created for her shifters, and more importantly, I enjoyed getting to know all of them.

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by publisher

In national bestselling author Sharon Shinn’s latest Shifting Circle novel, a woman must choose between hiding her nature—and risking her heart…

For Karadel, being a shape-shifter has always been a reality she couldn’t escape. Even though she’s built a safe life as a rural veterinarian, with a close-knit network of shifter and human friends who would do anything for her—and for each other—she can’t help but wish for a chance at being normal.

When she’s not dealing with her shifts or caring for her animal patients, she attempts to develop a drug that will help shifters control their changes—a drug that might even allow them to remain human forever.

But her comfortable life is threatened by two events: She meets an ordinary man who touches her heart, and her best friend is forced to shift publicly with deadly consequences.

Now Karadel must decide whom to trust: her old friends or her new love.

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17. Otherbound: Review

Otherbound is super interesting, you all. If you like incredibly original fantasy, detailed world-building, and diversity to the max in your reading, you should go pick up Otherbound. Here’s the premise: whenever Nolan blinks (or sleeps, or closes his eyes for any period of time whatsoever), he becomes trapped in Amara’s mind. He’s been diagnosed with epilepsy, but no medication seems to have much of an effect on his blackouts. These blackouts have been pervasive since he was a little kid, and have had real physical, emotional, and social consequences for him: he was hit by a car during one blackout and now wears a prosthetic leg; he feels helpless at his lack of control over his blackouts; he also can’t spend time with family and friends without worrying about whether he’s going to get pulled into Amara’s mind. Amara lives in a totally different world – the Dunelands – and has no... Read more »

The post Otherbound: Review appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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18. In My TBR Pile: My Friend Merlin by Joanne Lécuyer

merlin

There is a great legend that has been passed down through generations about two young boys who would change history. One was destined to become a great king. The other was a druid, and his guide, mentor and friend. This is the tale of the meeting of Arthur and Merlin and how they changed the fate of magic.

Paperback: 121 pages
Publisher: Topsy Books; 1ST edition (2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1927353440
ISBN-13: 978-1927353448

Joanne Lécuyer is a Canadian indie author who loves writing positive fantasy/ fiction books for kids – chapter books for ages 7-10. Her catalogue of books includes: The Witch, the Cat and the Egg (2010), Kaptain Vamp (2011), The Tales of Anex and Bit (2012), La sorcière, le chat et l’oeuf (2012), Kapitaine Vampire (2014), The Witch, the Cat and the Water Dragon (2014) and My Friend Merlin (2014).

Joanne Lécuyer is lives in a small rural community near Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. She has a BA in Communications and Visual Arts from the University of Ottawa, a Diploma in Public Administration from the University of Quebec, and a Professional and Personal Coach Certification from Concordia University. She is also a Reiki Master.

 

Purchase here!


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19. The Kiss of Deception, by Mary E. Pearson | Book Review

THE KISS OF DECEPTION, by Mary E. Pearson, is an exciting, quest-filled story that will please more traditional magical fantasy fans.

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20. Interview and Giveaway: Erin Lindsey, Author of The Bloodbound

I enjoyed The Bloodbound, so I was thrilled when Erin Lindsey dropped by the virtual offices to answer a few questions.  Be sure to enter the giveaway for a chance to win a copy of her book!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Good morning, Erin!  Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Erin Lindsey] Constantly daydreaming lover of words.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The Bloodbound?

[Erin Lindsey] I wanted to write a classic fantasy adventure that was genuinely fun to read. A lot of the stuff out there in SF/F right now is pretty grim. That’s not a criticism – I’m including my own work in that category. The Nicolas Lenoir novels, which I write as EL Tettensor, are about as dark as it gets. But sometimes you’re looking for something lighter, something you can take to the beach on your summer vacation and enjoy every page. A cast of flawed, likable characters caught up in a heroic struggle, with enough romance and humour to keep the mood balanced. That’s what I was going for in this book.

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  Can you share your favorite scene?

[Erin Lindsey] This is tough, because I don’t want to give anything away, but there’s a scene about halfway through the book where the heroine, Alix, has just been reunited with someone important in her life, and she ends up really pouring her heart out. Up to that point, she’s been struggling with a lot – her new role as the king’s bodyguard, her first taste of real battle, some pretty tough personal decisions – and to have this person back in her life to share that with comes as a tremendous relief. The scene feels a little like sitting on the foot of your best friend’s bed, chewing over the things that are most important to you. It’s comfortable and intimate and peppered with laughter, and it leaves the reader feeling almost as relieved as Alix. It really came out well.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

[Erin Lindsey] Everything! Okay, I know that’s not an answer, but really – it was a joy to write. I’ve never written anything so fast, so flowing, in my entire life. I think I had the whole thing done in about three and a half months, which for a novel of 120K+ is pretty crazy. Part of that, I think, is that I was finally getting to tap into some themes that I’ve wanted to play with for a long time. Some of my favourite moments in literature, films, and even comic books inspired certain scenes in The Bloodbound. A relationship, say, or a particular type of dilemma, trying to capture the feel of that moment in a different way. There’s a lot of real-life history in there too. It felt like finally getting to play with a bunch of toys you’ve coveted for a long time.

I think, I hope, that the fun I had writing it comes through on the page, and will infect the reader as well.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?

[Erin Lindsey] Chapstick. I know, I know! I’m trying to cut down, but it’s just so addictive!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

[Erin Lindsey] A stuffed gorilla, a chunk of black crystal from the Congo, and an extremely smug feline called Charlie Richard Parker.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s your favorite snack when you’re working on a deadline?

[Erin Lindsey] Biltong. It’s a South African type of beef jerky. If you haven’t tried it, DON’T; it’s even more addictive than Chapstick.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

[Erin Lindsey] Sherlock Holmes. Oh, wait – does this have to be a real person? In that case, Benedict Cumberbatch. Or his coat.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] You have been granted the use of one superpower for one week.  Which power would you choose, and what would you do with it?

[Erin Lindsey] I already have a superpower. I am Logic Woman, able to jump to a conclusion in a single bound. One day, I would like to do an appearance on Fox News. We’ll see if they’re as impervious to logic as they appear to be.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

[Erin Lindsey] My editor at Ace/Roc, the lovely Danielle Stockley, recently turned me on to Guy Gavriel Kay. I’ve read several of his books now, and enjoyed them all, but I particularly recommend A Song For Arbonne.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Erin Lindsey] Through my website, www.erin-lindsey.com, where you’ll find ways to reach me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, and email. Stop by and say hi!

Of all those in the King of Alden’s retinue, the bloodbinders are the most prized. The magic they wield can forge invaluable weapons, ones that make soldiers like Lady Alix Black unerringly lethal. However, the bloodbinders’ powers can do so much more—and so much worse…

A cunning and impetuous scout, Alix only wishes to serve quietly on the edges of the action. But when the king is betrayed by his own brother and left to die at the hands of attacking Oridian forces, she winds up single-handedly saving her sovereign.

Suddenly, she is head of the king’s personal guard, an honor made all the more dubious by the king’s exile from his own court. Surrounded by enemies, Alix must help him reclaim his crown, all the while attempting to repel the relentless tide of invaders led by the Priest, most feared of Oridia’s lords.

But while Alix’s king commands her duty, both he and a fellow scout lay claim to her heart. And when the time comes, she may need to choose between the two men who need her most…

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Erin Lindsey likes her stories the way she likes her chocolate: dark, exotic, and with a hint of bitterness. She has visited fifty countries on four continents, and brought a little something back from each of them to press inside the pages of her books. Erin Lindsey is also the pseudonym for E.L. Tettensor, whose Darkwalker series is published by Roc.

US addresses only please

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The post Interview and Giveaway: Erin Lindsey, Author of The Bloodbound appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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21. Why Halloween Doesn't Matter Anymore

Happy Halloween! 


It used to be my favorite holiday. Seriously, over Christmas. Who needs gifts when you can dress up into your wildest fantasy? That's what I used to think. 

The question I ask myself this morning, on Halloween, is:

The image on the left was painted in 1996. I was in 8th grade, obsessed with the movie "The Crow", listening to heavy metal,  and addicted to Gen 13 and Witchblade comic books. I believe it was around that time I dressed like the Catwoman from Batman Returns for Halloween. Whip and all. Yep, I thought I was quite the bad girl. I hid behind a made up character I named "Raven", who I drew all the time, made stories for, and just simmered there. Angry and lost.



She followed me all through high school and into my freshman year of college.

1997
1998
1999

In college she began to morph, just a little. And although I invented other stories to hide myself behind, she was always there. I tried so hard to hold on and not forget who I thought I was.

2003 - Heavily into Manga and still learning watercolor

2004 - Style used for my senior project in college.

When I left college the real soul searching started. I continued to practice witchcraft, but grew in my watercolor and figure drawing skills. I entered into some really difficult relationships, did my years of exploring the night life, and hit rock bottom.

Enter the church. Now wait, don't jump the gun yet. There was LIGHT. I lived in the shadows so long, it was refreshing and very unexpected. I was skeptical but continued to find faith in it. I always had faith I would find LOVE. Find TRUTH. Find WHO I WAS. Who I AM. 

I can't paint the darkness like what's above anymore. I try, and this is what happens:



This image (just below), after many years of searching, is the truth of who I am. I hide behind masks to protect my heart, but it's golden because I am a child of light, the daughter of He who is LIGHT. I wander through the night, not because I am lost, because I'm hunting evil and snuffing it out to make the night safe and beautiful. I have wings so that I can fly, because I am free. These are the truths I have learned through the years, and it is because of these truths I can not go back. I am glad that Raven is now a face who smiles, who comforts, who flies in to bring LIGHT. Not death, pain, or sadness. 


So Halloween you say? Sure, I'll dress up, I'll laugh and find the joy in it, but the holiday used to have such meaning to me - freedom to hide. I think today as we celebrate dressing up and scaring away ghosts and goblins, I see myself as a warrior who doesn't need to hide anymore behind costumes, it doesn't matter anymore. So, I'll happily eat some zombie finger pretzels and begin to look forward to Christmas, when family, love, light, and joy are all dancing about. 


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22. World Building

Do you have to have your story's world completely figured out (and described) before you write the rest of your book? 

http://rateyourstory.blogspot.com/2014/09/worldingbuilding-as-you-go.html

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23. Review: Dreamer’s Pool by Juliet Marillier

 

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I didn’t have to think too hard when a review request for Juliet Marillier’s latest release hit my inbox.  I didn’t even have to read the blurb; I was in the mood for something different, and lo-and-behold Dreamer’s Pool magically appeared.  I haven’t read Juliet Marillier in a long, long time, so I was eager to see if I still enjoyed her writing.  I do!  This is an engrossing book, with only a few niggles to distract me from the story.

Blackthorn has been waiting to take her case before the midsummer council, suffering in jail to have a chance at her revenge.  She’s been horribly abused by her jailors, but that bright, shining promise of her hearing has kept her going.  When she discovers that Mathuin, the chieftain responsible for her imprisonment, has no intention of letting her live to face the council, she’s given a strange proposition. Conmael, one of the fey, promises to release her from her cell and save her from her cruel fate, if she will put her quest for revenge aside for seven years, and serve as the healer in Dalriada, far to the north.  In addition, she must help anyone who asks for her assistance.  If she doesn’t keep her word, she’ll be punished with another year of servitude added to her initial term of seven years.

The first person to ask for help is fellow prisoner Grim.  His sun sets and rises on Blackthorn’s existence.  Her presence in prison gave him a reason to survive, and now that they are free, he’s going to follow her wherever she leads him.  He’s like a giant puppy, loyally trailing in her wake.  Blackthorn is less than happy  about her hulking traveling companion, but she’s afraid of the consequences if she sends him away.  Seven years of waiting to go after Mathuin is a long time for her rage to simmer, and she doesn’t want to add anymore time to her period of service. 

When the two arrive in Dalriada, they are both wary of the Dreamer’s Wood, which stands ominously next to the old wise woman’s hut.  Something about the woods unsettles both of them.  When Prince Oran’s fiancée has trouble in the woods, Blackthorn must rush to her aid.  Lady Flidais’ maid, Ciar,  tragically drowns in the Dreamer’s Pool, and Blackthorn is too late to save her.  Giving the young woman what comfort she can, Blackthorn resigns herself to a houseful of loud, chattering women until Oran can fetch his intended. 

Prince Oran is a dreamer and a romantic, and he’s fallen in love with Flidais after exchanging a series of letters with her.  After she arrives, however, her behavior is nothing like he had expected.  The things that she claimed to love mean nothing to her now, and her beloved dog, Bramble, becomes agitated and snappy whenever his mistress is near.  As Oran’s misgivings mount, he desperately asks Blackthorn for help.  Help that she can’t refuse to give.  Can she solve the mystery of Flidais’ strange behavior before Oran is bonded to her in marriage?

I loved Blackthorn.  She’s cranky, tough, and a survivor.  After experiencing terrible, terrible things, she still finds the strength to keep going.  Her time in prison would have destroyed someone with lesser resolve, but her fury helps her to survive from one day to the next.  Her rage is a double-edged sword, though.  While it ensured her survival in prison, it blinds her to the truth and makes her gullible once she’s serving as the wise woman in Dalriada.  This drove me nuts at one point in the story; for such a clever woman, Blackthorn is taken for a ride by a few artfully told lies.  I wanted to scream when it sent her for a tailspin, making her set aside her promises  and act like a brash fool.

I wasn’t overly fond of Oran.  He’s the opposite of Blackthorn.  While he’s noble and kind, he’s also blinded by love.  He’s fallen in love with the Flidais from the letters, and he’s so confused when the real Flidais fails to live up to the Flidais of his imagination.  His uncertainty completely unbalances him, turning him into someone he’s not.  He can’t figure out what to do, and he allows himself to be manipulated time and time again by Flidais.  I was starting to fear for the future of his kingdom because he could be so dense!

Grim is a compelling character, too.  He’s a man of few words, and he likes it that way.  Not one for small talk, he and Blackthorn make a great team.   He lives to serve Blackthorn, something that she’s not entirely comfortable with.  She just wants to be left alone, but his blind devotion slowly begins to break through the shield she’s built around her heart.  I enjoyed how their friendship grew, and how both of them learned to trust because of it.

There was one point in the story that I just wanted to knock Blackthorn and Oran’s heads together.  They were being so stubborn and so naïve and all I wanted to do was beat some sense into them.  Grim, on the other hand, steadfastly performed his duty to listen and observe those around him.  He didn’t allow his emotions to color his thinking, he patiently pursued the truth for Blackthorn.

Dreamer’s Pool kept me entertained from the first page.  Blackthorn and Grim took me on a long journey, and along the way, I got to know them, as well as like them.  I’m looking forward to their next adventure, but in the meantime, Marillier has an extensive backlist that I need to explore.

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

Award-winning author Juliet Marillier “weaves magic, mythology, and folklore into every sentence on the page” (The Book Smugglers). Now she begins an all-new and enchanting series that will transport readers to a magical vision of ancient Ireland….

In exchange for help escaping her long and wrongful imprisonment, embittered magical healer Blackthorn has vowed to set aside her bid for vengeance against the man who destroyed all that she once held dear. Followed by a former prison mate, a silent hulk of a man named Grim, she travels north to Dalriada. There she’ll live on the fringe of a mysterious forest, duty bound for seven years to assist anyone who asks for her help.

Oran, crown prince of Dalriada, has waited anxiously for the arrival of his future bride, Lady Flidais. He knows her only from a portrait and sweetly poetic correspondence that have convinced him Flidais is his destined true love. But Oran discovers letters can lie. For although his intended exactly resembles her portrait, her brutality upon arrival proves she is nothing like the sensitive woman of the letters.

With the strategic marriage imminent, Oran sees no way out of his dilemma. Word has spread that Blackthorn possesses a remarkable gift for solving knotty problems, so the prince asks her for help. To save Oran from his treacherous nuptials, Blackthorn and Grim will need all their resources: courage, ingenuity, leaps of deduction, and more than a little magic.

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24. Book Review: The Name of the Blade by Zoe Marriott



The Name of the Blade
by Zoë Marriott

Mio Yamato has a secret sword hidden in the attic. Her grandfather, Ojiichan, showed it to her when she was nine years old, He told her that the sword would be hers when she turns 16, but he made her promise not to touch it before then. Ojiichan planned to teach her about the katana, but he never got a chance, because the next day he died from a massive stroke.

All these years, Mio has avoided the sword as she promised her ojiichan, and kept it hidden away, even from the rest of her family. But when she needs a katana to complete her costume for a costume party a few days before her sixteenth birthday, she figures that she's close enough to 16 to take it. As soon as she touches the sword, though, strange things start happening. She feels an immediate connection to the sword; it's almost as if the sword is alive and speaking to her. Then a giant, catlike, many-tailed monster called the Nekomata appears. The Nekomata claims the katana, and threatens to kill everyone that Mio cares about to get it.

With a distinctive teen voice and an action-packed plot full of Japanese monsters, sword battles, Kitsune, and a super-hot 500 year old Japanese dude, The Name of the Blade is loaded with teen appeal. It should especially appeal to anyone who likes anime, Japanese folklore or culture, but there's so much Japanese influence in pop culture today that its appeal should be much broader than that.

The characters are interesting, well-rounded, and authentic teens. Mio is ethnically Japanese, but culturally she's a Londoner. Her ojiichan taught her Kendo and some Japanese folklore when he was still alive, but her father eschews his Japanese heritage, and Mio knows very little about Japan except for Kendo and anime. Mio's impulsiveness in taking the sword and her other early behavior show an immaturity that she starts to grow out of throughout the book, as she begins to take responsibility for the consequences.

Her best friend Jack (Jacqueline) is a bit of a rebel, with pink and purple streaked hair and black fingernails. Both girls get along with their families, although Mio's relationship with her father is somewhat strained. Shinobu, the 500-year-old Japanese boy, is mostly a one-note character, but his hotness more than makes up for that. He looks out for Mio, and yet I found it refreshing that he doesn't try to take the sword from her, even though they both have a claim to it, and he lets her take the lead in battle. (Although he does teach her a few things about combat).

There is also a young Kitsune (fox spirit) named Hikaru. The Kitsune are one of my favorite parts of this book. Apparently, there's a London court of Kitsune; how cool is that? Mio, Jack, and Shinobu get caught up in Kitsune politics when they visit the court to ask for assistance.

The plot is exciting but well-paced. The story alternates the big battle scenes with quieter moments and other challenges. It's quite an enjoyable read.

There are a few things that weren't explained, but since this is the first book in a trilogy, I hope that everything will be explained fully before the end.

Diversity?

The Name of the Blade does well on diversity. Besides Mio's Japanese heritage, Jack and her sister Rachel had a grandmother who came from Barbados, and they have brown skin. Jack is also a lesbian, which comes up a few times, but doesn't really play a role in the story, except when Jack has to tell a Kitsune who is sweet on her that he isn't her type. The girls are multifaceted personalities that are not defined by their ethnicity or sexuality.

Who would like this book:

Anyone with an interest in Japanese folklore, culture, martial arts, or anime. Anyone who likes stories where the contemporary world intersects with the fantastic.

FTC required disclosure: Review copy sent by the publisher to enable me to write this review. The bookstore links above are affiliate links, and I earn a very small percentage of any sales made through the links. Neither of these things influenced my review.

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25. MORTAL HEART (His Fair Assassin #3) by Robin LaFevers

Review by Andye MORTAL HEART His Fair Assassin #3 by Robin LaFevers Hardcover: 464 pages Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (November 4, 2014) Goodreads | Amazon In the powerful conclusion to Robin LaFever's New York Times bestselling His Fair Assassins trilogy, Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain,

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