Tag Archives: books

Latest Reads

It’s been a while since I’ve done any reviews, and there have been a few already released this year that I loved, so let’s remedy that, shall we?

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First up – THE MUSE by Jessie Burton. It’s completely different from her first book, THE MINIATURIST (you can find my review here) and totally works on its own. There is a freedom and something like joyous abandon in the voice and prose that goes beyond Odelle and Olive – the primary characters and narrators. Yet Burton hooks it all together through the mystery of the painting, of the Schlosses, of Isaac and Teresa. You won’t find magical realism here like existed in The Miniaturist, because it doesn’t need it. It’s compelling, gorgeously written, and I think has more of Burton in it than her first book. I’d give it a 4 out of 5!

 

Kameron Hurley’s THE STARS ARE LEGION is up next. If that cover doesn’t make you want to buy it, I honestly don’t know what to do with you. It’s an inventive sci-fi of world ships (actual whole planets!), and brutal women who have their own hidden agendas. Like the levels of Katazyrna, I know I’ll have to re-read it two or three more times before I truly get all the details and intricacies built into it. If you like Hurley’s other series, especially the Bel Dame Apocrypha books, you’ll enjoy this. I’d give it a 4 out of 5, also!

 

The last one I want to talk about is Aliette de Bodard’s THE HOUSE OF BINDING THORNS. Because Asmodeus needs a bit more room to be doted on =).  You like fallen angels, magic, and dragons? Good. Read this. Actually, read book 1 first, then come back.

The House of Binding Thorns picks up shortly after the events of HoSW, when Madeleine is returned to House Hawthorne and, unfortunately, under Asmodeus’s thumb/dagger. There’s a lot to love in this book: a deeper, longer look at the Dragon Kingdom under the Seine, and their growing interactions with the houses; Asmodeus marrying into the Dragon Kingdom; the Annamite community that makes the best of the magic-ravaged city, away from the Fallen; a glimpse back to House Silverspires; the introduction of a Fallen who has stayed out of the war and conflict between the houses, making a life with the one she loves on her own terms.

Oh, and Asmodeus kiss scenes. *swoons*

Seriously, read it. Madeleine deserves a medal, or something. We get a much better understanding of Asmodeus and what he cares about. Overall: gorgeous writing, lovely characters, and an amazing world I’ll come back to again and again. HoBT gets a 4.8 out of 5 from me!

 

The next books up on my TBR are THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas, DREAMS OF THE EATEN by Tex Thompson, CARAVAL by Stephanie Garber, and INFIDEL by Kameron Hurley. Are there any particular books you all *gestures wildly* are excited about releasing this year? Books I can add to my ever-growing TBR shelves?

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Book Review – One Night in Sixes by Tex Thompson

So shame on me, I’ve had Tex’s debut novel since its launch party, read it shortly thereafter, and am just NOW getting to the review. Still trying to find my blog-stride here, bear with me.

Appaloosa Elim is a man who knows his place.  On a good day, he’s content with it.

Today is not a good day.

Today, his so-called “partner” – that lily-white lordling Sil Halfwick – has ridden off west for the border, hell-bent on making a name for himself in native territory.  And Elim, whose place is written in the bastard browns and whites of his cow-spotted face, doesn’t dare show up home again without him.

The border town called Sixes is quiet in the heat of the day, but Elim’s heard the stories about what wakes at sunset: gunslingers and shapeshifters and ancient animal gods whose human faces never outlast the daylight.

If he ever wants to go home again, he’d better find his missing partner fast. But if he’s caught out after dark, Elim risks succumbing to the old and sinister truth in his own flesh – and discovering just how far he’ll go to survive the night.

I was surprised that I liked this book as much as I did. Westerns are not my thing. Though it does retain an air of the old west with dust and sand, horse sales and gambling houses, it didn’t take long for those preconceived notions to get trampled by Tex’s world. Sixes, the primary setting of the story, is beyond the reaches of what one might consider civilized law. The city plays by its own rules, and only those “in the know” seem to decide who gets told how to play.

The characters are another plus. I wanted to punch Sil in the jaw for the first half of the book. Then Tex takes this unlikeable guy and turns him around. The entitled brat realizes what danger he’s put them in, and he makes a good attempt to the salvage the situation he caused. Elim acts as a good foil. I can’t help but feel bad for the guy. But his perseverance, and trust in Sil, get us through the latter half of the story.

The one [eensy] downside I can note is that once in Sixes, I found myself unable to keep up with the secondary characters. I was reading so quickly to see what happened next that I couldn’t keep track of everyone. The relationships between the Sixes inhabitants, and where they stand on the social ladder, are not explained very well. Or it’s entirely possible I missed the links there in my fervent reading frenzy.

Without spoiling anything, the ending got me. I guess everything else I read around the time had a HEA, and put me in the mindset that all would turn out well. No such luck here. Since this is the first book of three, though, I’ve got a lot of hope that Elim will catch a break at some point.

Book two of the series, Medicine for the Dead came out this week, so I’m excited to get the next piece of Elim’s story. You can find out more about Tex and her book-babies on her website: http://www.thetexfiles.com/p/works.html. Give it a shot!

To sum up other news, my February NaNo extension was somewhat successful. I wrote another ~37,000 words. Most of which were for a new beginning third. There will be a lot of cutting and stitching together in my future. We also adopted two cats (kittens, really) earlier this month. Next time we will think long and hard about getting young’uns, or make sure we bring them home at the same time. Oy.  They are starting to get along, but it has been a slow, stressful process.

Want to help pick the next review I post? Have at it! The ones on my list so far, are: Premonitions by Jamie Schultz; Clariel by Garth Nix; Dreamer’s Pool by Juliet Marillier; Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews; The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton; The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley; Crimson Son by Russ Linton; Night Broken by Patricia Briggs.   Leave a comment with your vote!

Until next time, write on!

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DFWCon Recap!

So I’ve been meaning to write this post for the last three days, and I’ve had problems pulling it all together. I don’t know if it’s work, or having to cook for myself again, but my writer-brain keeps trying to take another week off.

Last week was our second journey to Mexico (Riviera Maya), and we enjoyed it just as much as our stay last year. My stomach didn’t act up this time, so I got to enjoy more food. It was sunny and 80+ the whole week. The only speck of rain came at the start of our romantic dinner on the beach, which then became a romantic dinner in a nearby resort restaurant that just happened to be closed for the night. We caught the sunrise on the morning before we left, and then went on a hunt for coatis.

Of the (miniscule) disappointments:

  1. We didn’t get to go kayaking, due to rough and choppy waves the whole week.
  2. We were very nearly run over by a bus on the way to the resort. It’s one thing to have road rage in the States, and entirely another to see a giant charter-type bus beside of your van, that doesn’t want to let you over,  and is literally close enough to touch through your window.

The trip back was much less exciting, I promise.  And for the more noteworthy recap…

 

DFWCon!

I woke up on Saturday morning nervous as hell, and not sure what to expect. In retrospect I shouldn’t have been worried, or stressed.  It really is a gathering of wonderfully talented, exceptionally kind people.

The day was chock full of panels, workshops, and classes, covering a wide range of topics. I went to the author/agent panel first. Even though I’m nowhere close to querying agents, I think it had the best non-craft related pieces of advice that I heard over the whole weekend (I’ll get back to that later). Next came Tex Thompson’s dialect class, which was totally not what I had expected (in a good way). She’s got so much enthusiasm for what she’s doing and what she’s teaching, you can’t help but be gung-ho about fixing your own stuff.

At lunch I stuffed my face with fajitas, and networked a little.  Jonathan Mayberry gave an insightful and inspiring keynote. After the lunch hour ended, I headed straight for Donald Maass’s class on setting.  It was packed, and for good reason. I certainly came away feeling like I could make my setting do more for the story than what it currently is.

Skipping past an hour-ish wait and then my consultation, the last class for me of the day was about writing a great query. Yes, I have a knack for putting the cart before the horse. By that time in the day, though, I just wanted to go home and take a three-hour long nap. I didn’t, though, because I needed to eat dinner and head back out for the Gong Show. The aforementioned event is a neat concept, and fun to watch. A panel of judges (agents/editors) listen as anonymous queries are read aloud. If they hear anything that would normally make them stop reading or reject the query, they hit the gong. At three gongs, the reading is stopped, and the judges explain why they have rejected the query. It’s exciting, wondering when or if they’ll sound the gong. But it’s also informative, and gives a good idea of what agents are looking for in a query. Sometimes it’s a language issue of the query itself, and at others it was simply the story idea. Two queries made it through the test, one having received no gongs at all. One of the best things, though? Everyone in the audience applauded the query authors. Community love = warm fuzzies.

I bowed out after the Gong Show ended instead of networking. In addition to feeling exhausted, I was not exactly in the best headspace. I felt better when I got back to DFWCon in the morning after a good night’s sleep. Highlights of the day included Tex’s prose class, Maass’s micro-tension, making our own “Fantasy” table for lunch, Amanda Rutter talking with us at lunch, and listening to Jennie Goloboy talk about killing characters with disease. Maass closed the conference with a prediction on how publishing is going to change in the next few years. He also left us with this thought – how will your writing change the world?

Long story short, DFWCon is more than I hoped it would be. I’m excited for DFWCon 2015, and am going to work to make my writing ready for it.

Now if we back up a bit, remember when I talked about the best non-craft advice that I heard over the whole weekend? Well, sorry to keep you waiting. Here it is:

Make sure your response is not from an emotional place.

I’ll just leave that to stew for a few days.  And to all my fellow writers – I hope to see you at DFWCon next year!

 

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