This was absolutely the last time I was going to watch funny face. I didn’t feel I could blame myself… the network had played it twenty-five times in the last three days, and Audrey Hepburn was just too adorable to pass up.
As she berated Fred Astaire from the balcony, I finally plugged my phone into my charger. Eli was probably worried. John had probably filled my voicemail. I wondered idly which one I dreaded dealing with more. It was getting easier to hate John, dealing with him would undoubtedly be easier.
With Eli, I cared too much about whether what I was doing hurt him.
The light blinks on and a chime sounds as the phone announces its reemergence into the world of useable electronics. Fifty-two messages.
I didn’t think my phone held that many. I pressed the one key and entered my pin. I pressed seven until the woman’s voice told me “there are no more messages.”
With something like that you’d think they’d have gotten the woman who’d been recorded to say the whole phrase instead of stringing the words together as though they were spoken by a bored robot.
I immediately dialed Eli’s number. Before I could press send, an incoming call canceled mine.
The unrestricted number gave me pause. I almost declined, but curiosity got the better of me.
“Zoe? Are you alright? Everyone’s worried.”
Marion’s voice came across the line like a battering ram. John had decided to play dirty. Send his grieving mother to do his dirty work for him.
“I’m fine, Marion,” I lied. “I’m just taking some time to be alone to clear my head.”
“John is beside himself. You need to come home.”
“Come home? Are you—”
“Of course I am! My son called me in the middle of the night completely beside himself, did you think I was going to leave him alone like this?”
I couldn’t say anything. It was too bizarre.
“Zoe. You need to come home.”
If she kept saying that I was going to scream. “I’m not ready for that yet.” I didn’t think I’d ever be ready for that.
“I don’t care. John needs you and it’s your duty as his wife to help him through this hard time.”
“Hard time? Marion, do you know what’s going on at all?”
“I know that you left him and now he’s a complete mess!”
“Before you start blaming me for your son’s problems, why don’t you talk to the woman who’s carrying his child. I’m not going to let you guilt me into coming back to a man who has every intention of leaving me for his child’s mother.”
Marion cleared her throat and spoke very clearly. “That’s not important right now. I know you two still love each other. Please, just hear him out. I have to go. Hope we can talk again soon.”
I had to admit, I admired her hope. I also had to admit: she was wrong.
Cassel Sharpe is a member of a curse worker family, which has its ups and downs. He is relieved to head back to his hoity-toity prep school after a summer of helping his mother con old men out of their money in Atlantic City. A return to stuffy class rooms and boring lectures promises to bring some normalcy back to his life. It doesn’t.
When Lila, the girl his mother cursed to love him and daughter of the crime boss his brother’s tried to kill last year, shows up at school his whole life gets more complicated. Add to the mix a pair of Federal Agents putting the screws to him, forcing him to help them solve his brother’s murder and his remaining brother’s attempts to black mail him, and Cassel’s running out of choices.
There’s something to be said for a book in which every sentence has a purpose. There is nothing superfluous in this novel. If it’s mentioned, you know there’s a reason that will come up shortly. The story is uniquely plotted and the undertones of hate and what it does to society form a subtle harmony beneath the plot in a way that doesn’t make you feel like you’re being preached at.
Buy, Borrow, Brush Past:
If you’ve already read the first of this series, I don’t really have to tell you that getting the second is well worth it.
If you haven’t read White Cat, why not? Go, run to your library or bookstore and pick up your copy!
My Summary: Raine Benares finds things – it’s just what she does as a Seeker. She’s a sorceress of modest power, but her friends and family run the spectrum. On the lower end of that spectrum, you have Quentin, a thief who’s breaking into the home of one of the nastiest necromancers in Mermia. On the high end, you have her god father, a conclave mage and possibly the most powerful sorcerer in town. But when Quentin’s job goes foul and Goblins start literally popping out of thin air, Raine compelled to seek out an artifact that has been missing for nearly nine hundred years. It wouldn’t be so bad, if the thing that was compelling her wasn’t an amulet she couldn’t take off.
My Review: I’m going to admit. There are a few things in this book that stopped me up, but overall it was a very entertaining read. I enjoyed how a lot of the book felt almost like a murder mystery and yet all the elements of High Fantasy were present. Rayne is a likeable, if somewhat contradictory character with whom it is easy to sympathize – no girl wants her jewelry telling her what to do (especially if said jewelry isn’t particularly pretty). As a protagonist I felt she walked the tightrope between utterly helpless and too many with great ease, only faltering once or twice – a great feat for any character. The Antagonist in this novel is not someone I found myself hating, but I did strongly dislike him and – as he wasn’t threatening me or mine – that’s to be expected.
Buy, Borrow, or Brush Past: Check this one out. It’s entertainingly refreshing in the world of High fantasy to read a novel like this.
The only mark of passing time was the thin strip of light through the curtains that faded in and out and the number of infomercials on TV.
I couldn’t count the number of calls I’d ignored. I’d answered three of them. Eli’s questions were always the same: How are you holding up? Fine; Do you need me to come over? No, I’ll be okay.
The answers fell from my lips like chips of sawdust. Painful little lies.
The screen on my cell had lit up with John’s name at least seven times and produced as many messages. I wasn’t going to listen to them, but I couldn’t bring myself to delete any of them. The phone lay on my bedside table, unanswered, its battery slowly dying.
Briar Wilkes Blue hasn’t had it easy since her husband’s Boneshaker drill split open the earth under Seattle and released the blight gas. Forget the rotters and stagnant blight that fill the walled-up city-proper like cockroaches and pea soup; she’s got a fifteen year old son to feed and care for and a last name worth hiding. When Zeke, her son, runs off into the city to prove his father’s innocence, Briar is the only one who can rescue him. Getting over the wall with the aid of a dirigible captain and finding camaraderie in a rag tag group led by a one armed barkeep and a man who dresses like a tank, she realizes quickly that Zeke could only be one place: Dr. Minnericht’s. The doctor has made a very good life for himself in the city, keeping the people in line with the fear that he might actually be Leviticus Blue. Briar is the only one in the city who can tell if he is or isn’t Leviticus, but knowing that truth may cost her her son.
It’s difficult to not have an enjoyable book when you mix zombies, steampunk and a villain so over the top he takes you back to Vaudeville. However, while entertaining, the plot does meander a smidge. The most interesting characters are barely touched on and disappear for large portions of the book, and the character that provides the perspective for the opening and Epilog seems only present to establish history and I feel that could have been handled in a better way.
That being said, the novel was entertaining as any I’ve read and provided a unique and interesting approach to the zombie plague.
Buy, Borrow, Brush Past:
This is one worth having in your collection, especially if you’re a steampunk fan. I’d definitely suggest adding it to your library queue, even if you’re a little iffy on it. It is a wonderful read.
Being the King’s best friend can have its perks, becoming the Hand of the King when the previous one dies, is not what Ned stark would consider one of them. Unable to refuse, Ned sets out to King’s Landing to perform his duty as well as to determine whether or not the last Hand was murdered, and if so, by whom and why.
With his father gone, John Snow, Ned’s bastard son decides to take the black. He travel’s north to the wall to join the Night’s watch. When brothers begin to go missing and they find only two corpses, it seems that the old legends of the White Walkers may just be true after all.
Across the Narrow Sea, Daenerys Targaryen and her older brother Viserys live in exile, seeking ways to take back the throne, Robert the Usurper took from them. When her brother sells Daenerys in marriage to Kahl Drogo of the Dothraki horse lords, he thinks he’s bought himself an army to invade, but the strength of the Dothraki makes his sister stronger than he would have assumed possible and soon his plans crumble in ashes.
Overall the story is intriguing and filled with many things that can set your imagination off on a wild tangent. I love the take on the Epic Fantasy subgenre wherein there isn’t much magic, it almost feels more like an alternate history, than a novel set in a different time and place.
The setting is intriguing because it’s more or less a medieval England but if france was Greece-like and Mongolia was directly east of it. And imagine that Scotland was blocked off by a seven hundred foot tall wall of ice guarded by a “brotherhood” of bastards, criminals and anyone else who has no other place in the world. There is magic in the far eastern lands that is spoken of, and there were once dragons and a race of people called the children of the forest, but at the opening of the book, nearly all magic is gone and only steel and stubbornness hold the realm together.
GRRM is fantastic at making characters you can loath. That being said, I found it incredible that I read an entire novel where the “everyman” protagonist was utterly unlikable after three of his perspective chapters. In the end there are truly only four characters in this novel that are likable – and two of them are technically antagonists.
I’ll adimit, there is an enormous smoking Chekov’s gun in this novel that I won’t point out because I don’t want to spoil it – but there are a few people who can vouch for the fact that I predicted the exact ending by the second Daenerys chapter (and by exact I mean what happens on the last page and a half.)
This is a BIG story, told from many points of view (8 to be exact). So big that it isn’t nearly finished when you end the novel. This is in no way a standalone novel, and that means that, if you’re in for a penny, you’re in for a pound and these are not short books. The first four have been published, but this is supposed to be a seven novel series and the fifth book has still not been published – it’s six years since the fourth book came out and as of right now the pub date for book 5 is set for this summer… but they’ve pushed back the publication date more times than I can count.
Buy, Borrow, Brush Past:
Buy – IF! You a) love long books, b) want an interesting take on the genre, c) don’t mind being left hanging (It is entirely possible the author could die before completing the novels and he has threatened to burn all of his notes so the story can’t be finished – he seems a little unstable, if I’m honest)
Borrow – IF! You a) enjoy long books, b) can read fast enough you won’t get late fees, c) are at least willing to experiment with an epic fantasy that’s not so magic-y, and d) could stand it if he never finished the series.
Brush Past – if you don’t like long books, epic fantasies or alternate histories, and would be utterly annoyed if he did end up dying before the rest of the series was finished.
The Galactic Empire is on the brink of downfall! 300 years away if we’re going to get picky… and the psychohistorian, Harry Seldon had come up with a plan to save the galaxy from a millennia of tyranny and infighting. He has everything predicted and the Foundation, his legacy is just the beginning.
This book is an odd duck, because it is split into five “parts” that are all extremely distant from each other. The book is really a compilation of connected short stories with a common thread. Because of this format, there is no single plot arc with a definitive climax and resolution, but instead, each individual part has its own climax and the resolution seems to be explained in the following part for most.
Buy, Borrow, Brush Past:
Check this one out at your local library. Each story has its own merits and they do tie together well enough to form a cohesive story. Frankly, Part III is worth reading the entire book.
(This is being posted late due to bloggerpocalypse 2011)
Eli dropped me at the hotel before leaving to go on some errand he refused to tell me about. He only promised that he would not hop on a plane to give John a piece of his mind.
The mattress folded me in like an embrace from my long gone grandmother and I wept into the pillow as though it were her fragile shoulder. My stomach pitched and suddenly the coffee in my stomach wasn’t enough. I clicked on the TV and scrolled through room service. I didn’t normally indulge – I didn’t have the metabolism I’d had when I was eighteen anymore – but right now I needed something sugary to wash away all the bitterness. I ordered everything on the menu’s desert section and three side orders of garlic bread.
The room was too quiet as I flipped through the channels on the flat screen. The holiday was playing on one of the cable movie channels and I settled into it – it didn’t matter that it was nowhere near Christmas.
I curled up with the pillow until a heavy knock on the door announced my room service’s arrival. The scrawny waiter smiled at me uncomfortably and I wondered how many puffy faced middle aged women he had to deal with in a crisis. I felt the knot of embarrassment fill my stomach as I realized what the cart he passed to me must look like. There was nothing I could do but give his sneer a condescending look and not tip him. He walked away grumbling and I didn’t feel any better for it.
Rolling the cart up to the bed, I climbed on to the white comforter and tucked in as I refamiliarized myself with Kate, Jack, Cameron and Jude’s plights. Somehow their pain didn’t ease mine in the slightest. The cold, velvety filling of the chocolate cream pie, however, dulled it enough to make me want more.
The flakey crust mixed with the pudding-like filling melted in my mouth too quickly and soon it was gone. I delved into the New York cheesecake piled high with cherries. The thick, custardy filling with the sugary red globs of the delicious blend of tart and sweet danced across her tongue like the perfect ballet.
She’d finished off the cart before she realized what had happened. A slice each of key lime pie, chocolate cream and Dutch apple; A hefty square of triple devil’s food, a wedge of red velvet with divine cream cheese frosting; Three pieces of cheesecake and one each of a lavender and carrot cake cupcake.
As the credit’s rolled across the screen, she fell backward onto the matters and clutched her overstuffed stomach.
So, I fiddle around with covers for these lovely drafts I write when I'm not writing or reading and they're generally pretty lame in their first incarnation .... I thought I'd share this one with you. It's for my sixth novel - Sun Drops.
Shattered souls, Mary Lindsey’s Debut novel, is a paranormal romance. It will be released December 8th, 2011 by Philomel/Penguin. Pre-order it here! Mary is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency.
ABK: Tell us a little about yourself to start off.
ML: I live in Houston, Texas with my hubby and three kids. I also teach acting to teens. My favorite thing to do is read at the beach. My least favorite to do is iron shirts.
ABK: What inspired you to write your first novel (published or unpublished)? What got you started?
ML: My first novel came about as a gift to my daughter. She had just started reading young adult novels, and she didn't like the fact that all of them she had read contained heroes who were or believed themselves some kind of inherently evil creature. She said she wanted a book where the guy was hot, edgy, broken, had magical qualities, but was still a human guy. I wrote a time-travel novel and gave her a chapter a day. 31 chapters. 700 pages. Ugh. She loved it, and the story was unusual, but I had no clue what I was doing--the writing was awful. I'd done plenty of literary analyses, but had never written fiction. That manuscript still sits in a binder on my shelf, where it will stay...forever.
ABK: What was the most difficult part about writing your novel?
ML: The revisions. This book went through a lot of changes. It started in third-person point of view and ended up in first. Converting it was much harder than I thought it would be because I lost huge chunks of the story that had been told from my male character's point of view Then, it went through a major plot overhaul with my publisher. Writing the story was easy. Getting it right? Not so much.
ABK: I know you say not to ask… but why do you have dozens of Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches?
ML: Ha! Well, it's a long story. I'll give you the abridged version. I used to teach at a private school that had a fabulous science lab. A sweet friend of mine was the science teacher and prided herself on her menagerie of bizarre creatures--Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches being among them. My son, who was four years old at the time, loved hearing them hiss, which they do when handled. The males are the loudest. My friend had the two males in one tank and the three females in another. After playing with them, my son put one of the little darlings in the wrong cage. Well, nature happens, you know. A few weeks later, my friend came into my room hysterical. "Mary! There are little beetles in my roach cage!" Yeah. Beetles. Little baby roaches, she meant. Honestly, I thought she'd be happy. She seemed to like the roaches and all... Man, oh man, was that perception wrong. I told her that my son was responsible for her new grand babies and she freaked completely out. "I've been trying to get rid of those things forever. All I had left were these five. Now, I'll never get rid of them," she said. "Oh, wait. I know. Since your son is behind this, YOU will take the babies!" (insert maniacal laughter here) "Yes! Now YOU are roach lady." Perfect. So I took my new wards home thinking I'd found the perfect solution for all 30 or so of them: I'd feed them to my Australian Bearded Dragon! She loved bugs. Yum! Nope. She wouldn't touch them. Okay. How about the huge Tin Foil Barbs in the fish tank. They ate bugs too. Again. No. Nothing would eat them. Now what? I couldn't bring myself to kill them. I was the reason they existed at all...well, my son was, but I was the one who okayed playing with them. Dear husband volunteered to put them in a baggie and spray them with Raid. *shudder* I couldn't bring myself to kill them at this point. I mean, it seemed like I was supposed to have them or something, right? And here I am, many roachy generations later, still caring for them. I actually like them now. I do school visits with them discussing topics ranging from bio-diversity to conservation to Entemology and am working on a children's non-fiction picture book about them. They eat bananas, lemons, lettuce and dry dog food. And the best part? The move slowly and don't fly. No wings. And they make for great party conversation. (I keep them in tanks in a cabinet in my office that has louvered doors so they are out of sight but still get light during the day.
ABK: Your debut novel is coming out in December of this year, can you tell us about it?
ML: Shattered Souls is a Young Adult paranormal romance. Here is the description from the jacket flap:
Lenzi hears voices. She also sees visions--gravestones, floods, a gorgeous guy with steel gray eyes. She knows she must be going crazy, just like her dad did. Her boyfriend, Zak, can't do anything to help, and the voices just keep getting louder, the visions more intense. But when Lenzi meets Alden, the boy from her dreams, everything makes sense.
He tells Lenzi that she's a reincarnated Speaker--someone who can talk to lost souls and help them move on--and that he has been her Protector for centuries. But instead of embracing her abilities, Lenzi struggles between her life as the girlfriend of a sexy musician and the life she is destined to lead with Alden. Yet time is running out; a malevolent spirit has been trying to destroy Lenzi for ages, and he will surely kill her if she doesn't make a decision soon.
Her choices are clear: Destiny or normalcy. Alden or Zak. Life or death.
ABK: Are you working on a follow up to shattered souls? If not, can you tell us a little something about your next project?
ML: Shattered Souls was sold as a stand alone novel, but it does have series potential. I have just completed a middle grade trilogy and am working on a gothic young adult novel in addition to several adult projects.
ABK: Do you have any advice for other writers you’d like to share?
ML: Hang in there. Never give up. A publicist once told me that the only thing all published authors have in common is they didn't quit. Amen.
Thanks so much, Amy, for having me on your blog today!
This week has been really productive writing wise. I have to say: I didn't expect it to be. I got to work super early on monday morning (we're talking about 2 hours before my normal hours) and I worked through lunch so I could leave at 3. And That was the start of a great writing week. Now, fidays are never ones to follow a curve, or to be cooperative in anyway.
This is where we started out the week:
And this is where we're at this morning:
Not to shabby for a draft I wasn't "supposed" to start until monday (May 2nd). Maybe this is a good sign :D
I watched from beneath the shifting shadows of the trees over head as the young waiter poured more coffee and did his best to not look at the oversized sunglasses that barely hid the bruise. He was nice enough, clearly a wanna-be-actor type. But he didn’t hover and that was all I cared about.
I could see Tilly swaning about on his balcony. The years in the South American country and six kids hadn’t been kind to her, but the unkindness that rankled most was that of whoever had told her the robe she wore was appropriate for any activity, let alone standing on a balcony visible to half the city.
But as I looked at her I realized she was something that I would never be. A woman who made her life an adventure. She’d jumped at the chance to go to Peru, when I’d thought it insane. I’d spent my life taking the easy road, while she hacked out her own piece of jungle. Somehow, we ended up in the same place – only I hadn’t left children behind. Well, none of my own.
I found Myself hating this overweight, wire haired woman, now for two reasons. The jealousy twisted my stomach in ugly knots. As I thought about it, the knotted rope coiled upward into my chest, constricting my lungs.
Despair and anger mixed in a volatile cocktail and threatened to send out their infantry of tears.
I shook my head, and remembered I had made my choice and Tilly had made hers. There was no point in hating her for having more courage. In fact, there was no reason to hate her for anything. The ire soured in my mouth and I took a long draught of the coffee to clear my tongue of the taste.
The waiter came once more to top off the cup.
I thanked him again and turned back to the condo. Hoping to catch a glimpse of something other than Tilly in her too-short frock, I turned away from the coffee.
The only thing that truly bothered me was that I hadn’t seen a trace of Eli since I arrived. He hadn’t left for his usual morning run; he hadn’t even gone out to get the paper that still lay like a carcass on his door mat.
I let myself fall into the dark pool in front of me, musing on the reflection of the leaves dancing above.
“You don’t have to stalk me you know,” Eli’s voice startled me so much I spilled my coffee.
“Jesus!” I sopped up the scalding liquid as he sat across from me, his eyes probing the small area of purple that as too dark for even mannequin makeup to disguise.
He pulled the glasses from my face and ran a gentle thumb over the bruise, “Tell me the whole story.”
And I did.
He sat, arms crossed and jaw twitching as he listened. He was mad, but I wasn’t entirely certain at who. I had paused only once, when the waiter came to offer him a cup and pour the black liquid into his bone white cup.
“He didn’t deserve you.”
I’d heard those words before, or close enough. The night I finally told Eli I was marrying someone else. “He doesn’t deserve you, but then, I guess in my opinion no man can.”
They’d seemed like jests all those years ago, now I heard a different jealousy in the memory of those words.
(A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, and A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin; Boneshaker by Cherie Priest; and The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss)
I got these on April 13th and promptly started reading A Game of Thrones because we were watching the HBO series with our “in the building” friends. But this was only the first half. I was still waiting for the second bit to come in…
(Magic Lost, Trouble found by Lisa Shearin; Ptolomy's Gate by Johnathan Stroud; Leviathan by Scott Westerfield; Dreadnought by Cherie Priest, Red Glove by Holly Black; The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mocking Jay by Suzanne Collins)
So… this was what my bookshelves looked like at the beginning of April:
A cluttered mess with way too much stuff on it. Seriously, I needed more space.
And this is what they look like now:
Of course Lucy had to get in the shot...
The chair with the stuffed cow in it is on the wall the old two bookshelf setup was on.
I’ve needed to get some more space for a while, but ordering a whole new TBR pile really called for it. I finished Foundation by Isaac Asimov and was officially out of things to read! So I went to Amazon and emptied out the cart that I’d been piling up for a while.
April was the month of the blog fest and so I haven’t updated you on anything. Over the last month, I read 3 novels, reread two and finished the first draft of my 6th novel. I also spent a lot of money on new books to replenish my TBR Pile…. This week is all about catching up.
So… novel # 6 came about on a bit of a whim. We were getting out of the car at the grocery store and a commercial came on for a product that totally sounded like a drug. I looked at Earl and said, I’m going to write a novel with that as a drug.
Over the course of 2 months I worked my way through a rough draft that I’m actually really proud of. Now I’m letting it sit and I’ll get back to it in two months so I can look at it with fresh eyes.