Thursday, September 30, 2010

Circle of Magic: Sandry's Book by Tamora Pierce

Four elements of power, four mages-in-training learning to control them. In Book 1 of the Circle of Magic Quartet, gifted young weaver Sandry is brought to the Winding Circle community. There she meets Briar, a former thief with a way with plants; Daja, an outcase gifted at metalcraft; and Tris, whose connection with the weather unsettles everyone, including herself. The four misfits are taught how to use their magic, but when disaster strikes, it's up to Sandry to weave together four different kinds of power to save herself, her friends, and Winding Circle.

I mentioned Tamora Pierce on my post 'What to Read After Mockingjay' and this particular series is just one more reason why. I can't say that it holds the same place in my heart that the Alana Quartet does but it's another great example of what young adult literature can be. Tamora Pierce never talks down to her audience, never assumes that the reader would want anything different than an adult would. Thus her stories have the pacing and character development that you would find in an adult fantasy story but with the emotions and heart of a younger generation. I know I sound crazy but I swear it all makes sense when you read it!

Also, as I said before, this is again a series where female and male leads are of equal importance. Each character has a part to play, has a reason for being there - and male or female, flashy power or quiet, each characters gets the chance to save the day. I think it's a wonderful message and a big part of why these are books I read when I was younger, that I read now, and I'm sure I will continue to read in the future.

Overall Feeling - Thumbs up.

Series - 1) Sandry's Book 2) Tris's Book 3) Daja's Book 4) Briar's Book

The Trade Paperback 'Curse'

Literary Management Dystel & Goderich had a blog post the other day about the 'curse' of trade paperbacks which seemed like a reasonable topic to me. Yet what surprised me about the article was the fact that it talked about trade paperpacks as viable alternatives to hardcover - an alternative that wasn't being taken seriously by a lot of people in the publishing industry, especially for new authors.

Not where I thought this was gonna go, let me tell you.

Whenever I think about trade paperback my mind goes 'oh no'. I hate having to purchase something in that funky size for that price. I mean - I know you're going to sell it to me as a mass market eventually. Why are you messing with me and trying to get me to buy if for $15? Most of the time I'm really only interested in one story and it pisses me off that you're taking even MORE money from me for that one story.

If I end up buying that trade paper at all - which is really what happens in that situation. If I only have the option of buying something in trade paperback there's a lot of back and forth in my mind about just getting it from the library because I feel cheated whenever I contemplate the book itself. My favorite author only has a story about 20-30 pages long and you're charging me twice the price of a full length mass market. Why does anyone think this is a good deal? Especially when you're doing 1 big name with 2-3 smaller/new names with them. Why don't you give those other authors a chance in hell of being successful on their own and publish the titles as mass markets? I think as a whole, especially in this economy, publishers have a much better chance to grab the reader if they stick with a wholeheartedly embraced form like the mass market. Because let me tell you if I from the beginning have only one author I love and don't even recognize the rest? It's that much less likely that I'll buy it.

Additionally, on a more personal note, trade paperbacks mess with my bookshelf aesthetic. It's an awkward size and it makes keeping a series consistent much more difficult. I know that sounds ridiculous but it makes a difference to me! 

So the point is I don't disagree that there's a curse on trade paperbacks. I just think the curse is for different reasons entirely.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Burning Up by Nalini Singh, Angela Knight, Virginia Kantra, & Meljean Brook

Bring these four authors together and it's sure to ignite a spark...

Angela Knight pairs a vampire warrior and his seductive captor in a battle against demonic predators.

Nalini Singh returns to the world of her Psy-Changeling series as a woman in lethal danger finds an unlikely protector-and lover.

Virginia Kantra continues the haunting tales of the Children of the Sea in her story of a wounded soldier rescued by an enigmatic young woman.

Meljean Brook launches a bold new steampunk series about a woman who strikes a provocative-and terrifying-bargain for freedom.

This book is a prime example of why I rarely like anthologies. Somehow it always turns out that they're not really worth my money. Now don't get me wrong, I loved Nalini Singh's story. It had all the fun heat and emotion that her Changeling relationships have. 
I unfortunately can't say the same for the rest of the stories.

Knight's story gave off this awkward forced-seduction-kinda-rape-but-I-love-you vibe, and that didn't turn out well in my opinion. Maybe if there had been a bit more of the story, more time for the characters to go from sex to love it would have been a bit believable. Instead it all seemed to rapid fire and I never quite got over how the two first come together. Kantra's addition still suffered from too few pages, with her characters coming off a little flat, though I liked more the more rarely seen relationship between a selkie-like shapechanger and a human male. 

Meljean Brook had the second best story in the anthology. I thought the background of the two characters was more thorough and the emotions more real. My problems were more with the execution of the story and a feeling of indignation on behalf of the heroine when she's stuck in situations due to other people's manipulation and reluctance to give her the whole story - but that would bug me no matter the author. At least from this story I was able to figure out that probably no matter the author I'm not going to be a big steampunk fan (except when it comes to the fashion of course).

Overall Feeling - Thumbs up for Singh, thumbs down for the rest.

Series - Singh's is part of her Psy-Changeling books (a prequel) but the others I don't know well enough to say

Quiz Yourself - Banned Books Edition

Think you know a lot about Banned Books? Test your knowledge with this fun quiz from!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays (9/28)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

"Her ability to harm them without doing much more than think in their direction confused the men, which allowed her to pull on the ropes holding her. She dragged the soldiers over to her in the process and as they got close she stepped on them, enjoying the little squishy sounds they made."

--pg 296, "Chains & Flames" in Dragon Actually by G.A. Aiken

Saturday, September 25, 2010

ALA Banned Books Week 2010

Today starts the very important week highlighting banned books. It's amazing to think of how in this day and age people still use feelings of moral righteousness and/or censorship to try and determine what people should (or be allowed to) read.

I'm lucky enough to say that my mother never tried to tell me what to read. I've always just picked up what caught my eye and if it held my attention? Well enough said. Try to imagine some place that had a library with mostly bare shelves or book stores that had 'with parental permission only' sections. 

Do any of us want to live like that?

Instead of taking for granted what most of us in America have as a inalienable right, remind yourself this week that it is a privilege that we have access to all that we read. Click on the link below and take a gander at the books some people don't have available and read something new. Read something controversial. 

Read something. 


Friday, September 24, 2010

Border's New Rewards 'Plus' Program

Browsing through my emails this morning I see one from Border's with a fantastic coupon (40% off 2 paperbacks!) and an ad at the bottom for Border's Reward Plus Program.

An additional rewards program.

That you would have to pay for.


Now for my general book buying pleasure I'm very much a Barnes and Noble girl. I like their sales associates better and I think the layout is more conducive to me finding what I want with or without help. I think this attitude may have been influenced by how Border's are run in NC, but even the best ones here in DC aren't all that fantastic.  But still, after moving here, I've found that I've visited Border's much more often because they're just as (if not more) conveniently located than Barnes and Noble. Go figure.

The reason I'm moved post though is the fact that this new push from Borders seems to be slightly hypocritical of most of the signage in the store: 'Why pay up to $25 for rewards programs at other book stores when you can get ours for free?' That seemed like a great marketing plot to me, but how many people are going to continue to be motivated to sign up if they realize that the best deals can only be had through paying almost as much as they would at Barnes and Noble? What would make Borders stand out amongst the competition?

What do you think? Do you think the rewards plus program is a good move for Borders?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Last Dragon Standing by G.A. Aiken

I know what they see when they look at me. The charming, soft-spoken dragoness bred from the most powerful of royal bloodlines. A disguise stronger than any battle shield that allows me to keep all suitors at tail's length. A technique that's worked until him. Until Ragnar the Cunning, handsome barbarian warlord and warrior mage from the desolate Northlands. Unlike those who've come before him, he does not simply submit to my astounding charm and devastating smile. Instead, he dismisses me as vapid, useless and, to my great annoyance, rather stupid!

Yet I'll allow no male to dismiss me. Soon he'll learn my worth, my many skills, and the strength of my will. For this one challenges me enough to make me want to ruthlessly taunt him, tease him and, finally, when the trap is set, bring him to his knees.

I'm going to keep this short and sweet because whenever I read a Shelly Laurenston book (G.A. Aiken here, whatever) I tend to wax on poetically for days and at some point I even get bored with myself.

I really enjoyed this book. Keita is a lot of fun and even reminded me a bit of Dagmar in that she's so much more than she appears. You know that if you're getting her typical 'Her Highness' routine to watch out, because she's probably going to try to kill you any minute from now. Her relationship with Ragnar has all the smart banter, quick wit, and sexual tension that us readers have grown to expect from Laurenston and when combined with the appearance of the rest of Southland dragon family it's a damn good time. I think that's part of what make Laurenston's book such stand outs for me: the main couple of course has center stage, but all the men and women who have been integral parts of the story in the past are still there and the continuity of that connection keeps me involved the entire way.

I HIGHLY recommend it, though I think you'll only get full enjoyment of this particular installment after you've read all the books that have come before.

Overall Feeling - Thumbs up.

Series - 1) Dragon Actually 2) About a Dragon 3) What a Dragon Should Know 4) Last Dragon Standing

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Books to Read After Mockingjay

A couple weeks ago I read an article written by Peter Steinberg called "6 'Flashlight Worthy' Children's Books to Read After You Finish Mockingjay". I love articles like these because I feel that children and young adult books don't get highlighted enough to the public. I can't say that I would have been the same voracious reader if my mother hadn't taken me to the library and let me pick whatever I want. I still remember sitting at the park near my apartment and reading some random kids book that I think had a camel as a police officer (all the characters were animals). I couldn't tell you what the name of it was but I still remember reading it.

But back to the article - Steinberg does a great job of picking books that are oldies but goodies: things that you may have read as kids (or your parents may have read) that aren't really talked about much today. The standouts from his list for me are A Wrinkle in Time and Amelia Bedelia. Those are both incredible books that while targeted to different age groups have the kind of charm that lasts forever. I still read A Wrinkle in Time almost every year and the Amelia Bedelia series are great to flip over when I'm wandering around the library.

I had s
o much fun reminiscing about what I loved as child that I've composed my own 6 children's books to read, and I hope that if you haven't read them yourself you give them a try and remind yourself of the depth and diversity that children's literature provides.

1) Berenstain Bears by Stan and Jan Berenstain
I can't comment on any 'Christian overtones' but I can say that I loved the family in these books and I'm pretty positive I read through most of them without complaint, with no more junk fo
od, too much tv, and strangers being the topics I remember most clearly.

2) Magic School Bus by Joanna Cole
I don't k
now how anyone learned anything without Ms. Frizzle. She had the bestest craziest class and bus EVER and she is totally unforgettable. If you (or your child) hasn't learned about the solar system, the human body, erosion, or any other cool science-y subject through these books well go read them now!

3) Encyclopedia Brown by Donald J. Sobol
Encyclopedia Brown holds my heart as that great combination of brains, brawn, and small town charm. S
elling his services for $0.25 a mystery, Enyclopedia Brown is a 5th grade wonder, helping the town's police force solve big and little crimes. The best part of these book is that they allow readers to try and find the answers on their own, as each mystery is connected to a 'How and Who Dunnit' section at the back of the book.

4) Bronze King by Suzy McKee Charnas
One of my favorite fantasies - and I think one of the best urban fantasies out there in the juvenile section. There's action and suspense, romance and sadness - it's all here and culminates in a great final battle (though I must admit I hate this cover

5) Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce
No one does a female heroine like Tamora Pierce. With Alanna she's crafted a young girl that defies society to do what she knows her heart demands, and Pierce goes above and beyond to show the ups and downs of that decision. Still what's best about this series (and all her books) is that the male characters aren't relegated to the back stage or blithering idiots. They're still there as main supporting characters, equals to Alanna, which I think does the best job possible of showing both young boys and girls why they're both deserving of praise and the chance to do what they love.

6) Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley
I've not made it hidden that I love Robin McKinley. Her books are great juvenile/young adult/adult crossovers and demonstrate some pretty unbeatable fantasy. This book makes the list for having both a great female lead and an irresistible fantasy world. You always want to know more, you're always as the reader ready to keep going and see what the next battle's going to be. I own this and the sequel and couldn't recommend them enough to any and everyone.

Honorable Mentions:

The Dark is Rising
by Susan Cooper <---- SO GOOD! Just putting it out there.

The Last Vampire
by Christopher Pike

Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

Whatever Happened to Janie?
by Caroline B. Cooney

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays (9/21)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

"Sylvester Sebastian Cynster, a sixth Duke of St. Ives, known as That Devil Cynster to a select handful of retainers, as Devil Cynster to the ton at large and simply Devil to his closest friends, watched his wife-to-be from beneath his long lashes. What, he wondered, would his mother, the Dowager Duchess, make of Honoria Prudence Anstruther-Wetherby?"

--pg 26-27, Devil's Bride by Stephanie Laurens

Video from Dragon*Con 2010

It's taken me most of the month of September but I've finally starting editing the 30 or so videos I took at Dragon*Con (let's not talk about the unpacking though). Some of them focus on actors or authors, but others include random babbling by myself and my friend Jessica. Which is what you can see below, the first accumulation of footage from our seemingly endless drive down and first day at Dragon*Con 2010!!!

Monday, September 20, 2010

H Street NE Festival

I'm lucky enough to say that when I'm not reading Washington, DC offers me the chance to go to a lot of cool events. This past weekend was the H Street NE Festival; H St NE is an up and coming area of DC and it was blocked off between 8th and 14th to make room for a ton of vendors, bands, fashion shows, and artists. I've strangely enough been spending quite a bit of time there lately and this was just one more reason why I like it so much. If you're ever around when it's happening I highly recommend that you drop by because except for food it's a free and fun time!

H Street NE for the win!

I would say that 90% of the time all I think about is food so it's not really surprising that this is one of the first pictures I took.

I loved the derby girls! They had great outfits and kicking butt at the arm wrestling!

Baltimore Rock Opera Society

I had never heard them before but Billy Woodward and the Senders were terrific with a 50's rockabilly look and sound - I'm definitely going to try and see them again in person.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Favorite Jim Butcher Quotes from Dragon*Con

(in reference to new books after Dresden) "Epic epic fantasy epic."

"Harry Dresden set out to save his daughter even if it killed him. It did. The end"

"Bob the Skull, know-er of secrets and girls"

Healer's Garden by Nina Pierce

In the female-dominated society of the twenty-third century, mating with a male, even if it is to save the human race, is a distasteful task and one Healer Jahara Hriznek has successfully avoided—until now.

Brenimyn is a gifted breeding instructor at the Garden of Serenity. Forced to copulate with all females requesting his services, he yearns to find the one woman who responds to his touch. When Jahara arrives with the new class of breeders, Brenimyn’s body immediately aches for her, but convincing the stubborn healer that sex between a man and a woman is more than just an act for procreation proves to be a challenge he refuses to fail.

Jahara doesn’t want to enjoy the sinful rapture only Brenimyn brings to her body. Brenimyn has no intention of dousing the flames of desire licking at them until Jahara is completely his—body, mind and heart. But when the government finds their loving relationship a threat to the natural order, there may be more than their stubborn wills at stake.

**This book was provided by the author for review consideration**

Let's start off with the good - Nina Pierce has crafted a well written novel that has some interesting twists on the usual hierarchical themes. I've seen quite a few futuristic eroticas on Ellora's Cave where due to some natural disaster men are the ones left in charge but this is probably the first I've read where it's the other way around. I like the way Pierce switches up the perspectives so everything is not always from Jahara's POV - it's a big reason why I liked the story at all. Ultimately I feel she's created a believable futuristic environment with enough good points to make me think that while it wasn't my cup of tea other people will probably feel differently.

When I was reading this e-book there were a few big things that didn't work for me. First I didn't believe that someone who was a lesbian and in love, or at least in a big heap of like, would be able to fall in love with a guy. Right from jump that confused me and that confusion lasted for throughout because I never felt like it did make sense. That original feeling wasn't helped any by the way this futuristic society approaches sex and the way Pierce sets up Jahara's first time with a man. The question of coercion/forced seduction hasn't really been an issue for me because I think most of the time I'm willing to suspend my disbelief, but for some reason the way it's done here made me vaguely uncomfortable. I just couldn't shake the feeling that Jahara was being conned into something that she didn't want to do even if the guy was being nice about it (none of that 'asshole seduces the virgin and she gives in because she's a virgin and later they end up with this miraculous HEA' stuff). Secondly as much as Brenimyn wasn't a jerk his inability to understand why Jahara wouldn't just be in love and be happy with him irked me. Of course she's not sure you idiot! You're working on convincing her to be part of a relationship that she previously had no way to comprehend. If you could step off your high horse there for a minute I would appreciate it.

Overall I thought the book wasn't bad. The suspense elements are unexpected and done well enough and each supporting character's motivations were for the most part hidden until the very end. If thing had been different with the characters or really the way the world itself was set up (which I acknowledge would make it a different book) I probably could have seen my way to liking it. Unfortunately that didn't happen and it's just not for me.

Overall Feeling - Thumbs down.

Series - None.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays (9/14)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

'Bride laughed at the thought. "Did you ever see that episode of Buffy where Sarah Michelle Gellar flashes between the insane asylum and her life in Sunnydale as the Slayer?"'

--pg 224, Night Play by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Dragon*Con Photos!

It's take me a few days (post vacation recovery has been rough) but check out my new album on Facebook with the pictures from Dragon*Con 2010!!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Teaser Tuesdays (9/7)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

"What would Ripley do? In a jam, Carrow often thought of how Ellen Ripley, the legendary badasstress of the Alien quadrilogy, would figure her way out."

--pg 18, Demon From the Dark by Kresley Cole

Monday, September 6, 2010

Dragon*Con Days 2 & 3 (Also pic heavy)

So by the time days 2 and 3 rolled around I realized a couple things:

1) I am often too lazy to dig through my huge bag to find my camera to take a picture.

2) My friend Dave's camera is at least TEN TIMES BETTER THAN MINE and he's willing to take pictures when I don't want to.

These two facts coming together has resulted in the pictures of a lot of the people/panels I saw and costumes I noticed being on his camera. Not mine. And he doesn't really post pictures on Facebook so I'm not going to be able to steal the pics from there either.

Well, I guess you'll all just have to wait for the really cool stuff huh?

Look at this guy - I love his costume and I didn't even watch the original Star Trek!

Chakotay and Ensign Kim! (for all the cool people who watched Star Trek Voyager)

From the NYT Bestsellers panel: (L-R) Sherrilyn Kenyon, Jonathan Mayberry (I have to check that), Laurell K Hamilton, Jim Butcher, AJ Hartley, & the moderator

From the BDSM in vampire novels panel (yes Dragon*Con is that fantastic)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Dragon*Con Day 1 (Pic Heavy)

Hey Guys,

It's 2:30am and I am EXHAUSTED but it's been a great first day!!! I was able to go to a few great panels, see some amazing costumes, and just in general hang out with my 'kind' (yes I went there). The only real downside was the very aptly named EPIC LINE OF DEATH that Jessica and I had to wait in for 2 HOURS to pick up the passes we PRE-PAID for.

It was horrible.

I'll go into that with more detail later, right now it's time for a few pictures!!!!

P.S. - I also took some random very wobbly video, but that will have to wait until I have to edit it down to a manageable size.

Love you all!!!!


Here's Jessica and I! Fresh off our 8hr roadtrip (damn you 95 South!) and stuck in the epic line of death.

Loved these ladies - great human and ogre Fiona!

I'm not sure about this one, some kind of superhero battle royale maybe?

No joke this Poison Ivy has 'homemade' pasties over her nipples. Nothing else is taped down to prevent any kind of wardrobe malfunction. Now that's bravery.

One of my favorites, Harry Dresden! This guy was super tall- when I stood next to him in flats I didn't even come up to his shoulder!

You might not be able to tell but here you have Tony Stark (complete with glowing chest thing) and one of the best Phoenix's I've ever seen. Why are they together? Because they can be.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Dark and Stormy Knights by Ilona Andrews, Jim Butcher, and More

They’re the last defenders of humanity, the lone wolf bad boys— and girls—who do dark deeds for the right reasons. Modern day knights who are sexy, funny, mad, bad and dangerous to know because they do what most of us only dream about…and get away with it. In this all-star collection, nine of today’s hottest urban fantasy authors bring us original stories of supernatural, modern day knights that will have readers clamoring for more!

The truth is I did not buy this book. I took horrible, shameless advantage of my local Borders and sat in a corner and read the Ilona Andrews and Jim Butcher stories.

But I just couldn't help it! It's a $15 trade paperback and I only cared about 2 stories! 2 stories that in a such a large anthology were only about 20 pages long! I'm sorry authors, but I'm going to wait until this comes around in the mass market size to purchase.

Still, to get to the stories, the ones by Andrews and Butcher(which were the only ones I read) were great. Andrews is a side story, giving readers the back story of how Kate originally met Saiman. It's got the action and dialogue that make every one of their (husband and wife team) books fun to read, and since Kate & Saiman's relationship is pretty f*cked up, it was interesting to me. Butcher is the surprising one because his addition to his anthology is not the usual fare given to use written in first person from Dresden's point of view; John Marcone takes the front seat and readers are treated to another round of his type of honor. Of the ruthlessness that makes him someone to fear and the surprising notes of honor that continue to make him a character you want to watch.

Together these two stories almost make the anthology worth it, but ultimately I decided to wait. I will have it to round out my collection, but not right now. These stories are good, but I need more than 40 pages to take $15 out of my wallet, when that $15 can usually get me two full length mass markets. It's a math I can't seem to argue with.

Overall Feeling
- Thumbs up (but IMO not worth the buy at trade paperback price)

Series - None, though most of these short stories have connections to other books published by the authors

Top Ten Dragon*Con Greats - #1 (!!!!)

#1 - Jim Butcher

That's right - Jim Butcher. He's been integral to my enjoyment of paranormal romance/urban fantasy/fantasy-science-fiction/whatever. I don't care what you call it, without his books the genre would not be the same. Harry Dresden, to me, stands alone as a great character who is the heart of a great series.

Things are not easy for Dresden; being the first and pretty much only paranormal detective listed in the phone books can do that. Butcher has created an incredibly deep and real world in which Dresden operates. The laws of magic and science co-exist and bounce off each other. Happily Ever Afters have to be looked at with side glances and suspicion, because almost no one is exactly what they seem.

With the latest book in the series, Changes, Butcher knocked me off my feet. Terribly bad and terribly good things happen and the cliffhanger ending made me want to throw my book at the wall.

Which if you know me, you know this doesn't happen often.

I think it can be hard for an author to take a series to a dark place. It can alienate and frighten readers, make them worried about the li
velihood of the men and women they consider integral to the work, but Butcher does it like a pro. I've never regretted starting this series and even when I want to cry I HAVE to know what's going to happen next. To get the chance to see him in person, to listen to him speak about this series I love, is going to be unforgettable.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Cast in Chaos by Michelle Sagara

Kaylin Neya is a Hawk, part of the elite force tasked with keeping the City of Elantra safe. Her past is dark, her magic uncontrolled and her allies unpredictable. And nothing has prepared her for what is coming, when the charlatans on Elani Street suddenly grow powerful, the Oracles are thrown into an uproar and the skies rain blood..

The powerful of Elantra believe that the mysterious markings on Kaylin's skin hold the answer, and they are not averse to using her - how ever they have to - in order to discover what it is.

Something is coming, breaking through the barriers between the worlds. But is it a threat that Kaylin needs to defend her city against - or has she been chosen for another reason entirely?

This book took me a good long while to finish. Not because it was that bad, but because it was that good. Sagara's series gets me so invested and involved that I have to pay a lot of attention to the dynamics between different people, races, cultures - it's all there. Then you start tacking on language barriers and the difficulty when immortal beings try to understand mortal limitations and you've just got a lot to keep your eye on. Luckily she makes it all worth it.

Probably one of the most straight forwardly fantasy series that I read, Sagara has gone to great lengths to create a world that is both foreign and familiar. I love her characters and I love the fact that Kaylin is wonderfully human. She makes mistakes, lots of them sometimes, but usually has the best of intentions and a willingness to grow. It's hard to watch your heroines fall in the dirt but when they pick themselves up and just keep going and doing what they know is right, it turns into a wonderful story.

In this book Kaylin learn slightly more about what purpose the runes on her body will serve and what journey she still has ahead of her. Sorry for the vagueness there but this book is so complex that it's hard for me to pin point exactly what's the most interesting to hear about it. I think you as a potential reader should care that emotions run hot in this book. That the dragons - Sanabalis, Arkon, Tiarmis - are ancient and intimidating and while very much 'other' are also part of the world Sagara has made. Kaylin has to confront a lot of hard emotions in this book, going back to a traumatizing experience that's revealed to readers in the first part of this series, and she has to use those emotions and what's she's learned about life to save the world.

Sounds dramatic doesn't it? Well it is, so I can safely say I'm not exaggerating.

Sagara began this book with an author's note detailing why she hoped this series was one people could enjoy whether they picked up one book or all 6, which I agree with to an extent, but I truly believe full understanding of these people and this world doesn't come unless you've read the rest. Especially book 5, as there's a lot of HUGE changes that happen in the book that effect how characters act, what responsibilities they have, in this book. In my opinion this is a series that you read all the books to, read in order, and then when you finally arrive at book number 6 you're almost guaranteed a great time.

Overall Feeling - Thumbs up.

Series - 1) Cast in Shadow 2) Cast in Courtlight 3) Cast in Secret 4) Cast in Fury 5) Cast in Silence 6) Cast in Chaos

Top Ten Dragon*Con Greats - #2

#2 Laurell K Hamilton

In the end, LKH couldn't be number 1. I've seen her both years I've gone so far and I have to admit that the shininess of her coin has rubbed off. Not that it's gone completely mind you, I'm definitely going to be another one of her stalkers this year (did I ever tell you about the time she RECOGNIZED my friend and I last year? That's right, we'd stalked her to the point that we became familiar. How bad ass are we?!), but other people/panels might take precedent.

What makes LKH so integral to my experience at Dragon*Con though is the fact that so much of her goes into her writing (especially her Anita Blake series). There is an incredible amount of what maker her her that goes into creating Anita, and I'm not going to lie, listening to her talk is freakishly close to talking to Anita - and who's going to pass up the chance to talk with one of their favorite book heroines?

LKH does great by herself or as part of a panel, though when she's by herself I have to resist the urge to tell crazy/stalker-y/self-absorbed fans to SIT THE HELL DOWN! NO ONE CARES ABOUT YOUR LIFE STORY! I'm sure that this year she'll again manage to wow me and the other hundreds of fans who come, which makes her position near the top of this list very understandable.