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Showing posts from 2019

12 Days of Christmas (Author Style)

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I've seen this tag show up in a few places, but Kate over at Seek Him First was the first I saw put an authorial twist on it and answer based on her own stories. I liked the idea so much I had to try it myself. ON THE FIRST DAY OF CHRISTMAS, MY TRUE LOVE SENT TO ME: A PARTRIDGE IN A PEAR TREE. The partridge stood alone in the pear tree. What is your favorite standalone novel? Definitely There's No Place Like Home? because I think it's probably the strongest of the few standalone books I've written. I can't wait to dive into editing it later next year. ON THE SECOND DAY OF CHRISTMAS, MY TRUE LOVE SENT TO ME: TWO TURTLE DOVES. Love is in the air! Who is your one true pairing? So, this is a tricky question because the Albion series has its fair share of pairings, but with only the first book released, none of them are exactly "canonical" yet. But the one pairing that's fairly set up (or at least implied to be in the early stages) in Albion Acade

Fangs, Skins, and Whiskey-Scented Candles: An Interview with Mirriam Neal

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I'm excited to welcome back Mirriam Neal for another interview, this time to discuss her new novel, Dark is the Night . (In case you missed my review of Dark is the Night , you can find it here .) ED: Last time we talked about a book of yours, we spent some time discussing your redemption of certain mythical characters. With Dark is the Night , you're not so much redeeming these characters as taking a different tack on them. Which aspects of vampire (and werewolf) lore were you most excited to explore? What drew you to these creatures and this genre? MN: Honestly, as much as I enjoy the physicality of creatures like vampire and werewolves, it’s their psychology that fascinates me the most. You have people who (mostly) used to be human, and can remember it all, and still look human to most people—but have been altered into predators in ways most people can’t see. It goes beyond having fangs or howling at the moon, and getting to explore those dynamics is like Christma

Dark is the Night: Vampires Hunted and Haunted

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Three years ago, I had the pleasure of helping introduce Mirriam Neal's second published novel, Paper Crowns , to the world (see here for my interview with Miss Neal about redeeming myths and here for my review of Paper Crowns ). Today, I'm heralding her third. Like many in Miss Neal's social circles, I have heard a lot about Dark is the Night  and its cast of grumpy, broken people over the years. So when she announced a few months ago that it would be published this year, I was more than happy. I was ecstatic to finally get my hands on this book. Short enough to read in a weekend, Dark is the Night  isn't short on one-liners, explorations of faith, and characters battling demons both internal and external. Now let's dive into it, shall we? South Carolina gave the term 'God-forsaken' an entirely new meaning. If that isn't an opening line to grab you, I don't know what is. From the opening howls of predatory werewolves to the growing bloodl

Crimes of Grindelwald: Messy but Lovable

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I finally had the chance to see Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald  recently (both the theatrical and extended cuts) and boy do I have a lot of thoughts. It goes without saying that there are massive spoilers ahead. First off, let me say that the extended cut is better. It's only seven minutes longer, but those seven minutes add some very necessary scenes. Credence's rebirth in the alternate opening, Leta's fears in the ballroom scene, more time with Credence and Nagini, and an extended version of Newt and Albus Dumbledore's early conversation all serve to fill some of the many holes left in this film's plot. If you have access to the extended cut, watch it. It's worth it. There's a lot of magic here. Some of it is old but fresh such as Portkeys and fantastic beasts. Other elements are new and strange (looking at you, blood pacts, Maledictus, and vision-spewing skull). Some of it could do with deeper explanation, while other pie

Top 10 Fantasy Series

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I often talk about specific books and series that I love, but I've never broken down (for myself or others) just which fantasy series  I love more than all others. So I decided to work out what my top 10 fantasy series of all time are, based on the following criteria: I have to love the themes, the magic, the characters, and so forth (themes of hope, light conquering darkness, etc. being preeminent); how complete is my reading of the series; and how many re-reads have I completed, if any. The Elemental Masters The least completely read series on this list, Mercedes Lackey's Elemental Masters wins a place by virtue of its unique blend of fairy tales, magic, and historical romance. Every time I read a new book in this series, I remember how much I love the world Lackey has created. The Dresden Files I'm all caught up on this series barring the newest short story collection, Brief Cases  (which is in my ever-growing to-read pile). This series has it all: magic

Review Round-up: Bridge of Clay, The Wee Free Men, and The Silver Branch

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I've been doing a chunk of reading in the last few weeks, along with finishing "Paper and Thorns" (if you need a refresher on this fairy tale novella, click here for all the snippets and behind-the-scenes posts). If you're interested in being a beta reader for "Paper and Thorns," leave a comment with your email (all comments are moderated, so if you don't wish to have it be public, just say so and I'll delete the comment after sending the story your way). On to the reviews! Bridge of Clay The long-awaited next book from the author who wrote  The Book Thief , Bridge of Clay  is the story of the five Dunbar boys following the return of their estranged father, Michael. He wants them to build a bridge with him, and all of them refuse, except for Clay. As Clay and his father work on the bridge, the oldest Dunbar boy, Matthew, narrates the stories of Michael, Penny (their mother), and their family. We're given insight into the histories of in

Locke and Key: If Stephen King Wrote 100 Cupboards

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A while back, I got the audio adaptation of Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez's graphic novel series Locke and Key  as part of a promotion on Audible. I haven't delved into it yet, and when my local library picked up the whole series I decided to check out the source material before diving into it. Before I go into the story, let me be frank: this is not a series for younger readers. It's probably not for a lot of older readers, either. Joe Hill is Stephen King's son and it shows in everything he writes, for better or worse. This series deals with graphic violence, alcoholism, death, murder, and creatures called (for lack of a better term) demons. Extreme profanity and vulgarity pepper the dialogue throughout. Proceed with caution and discernment. That being said, there are some good bones in this story. As the title suggests, my first impression of this series (volume 1 pictured above) was that it was N. D. Wilson's 100 Cupboards  if Stephen King were writing i

Digging Holes and Connecting Dots: Rereading Holes 20 Years Later

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When I was in fifth grade, my teacher read a number of books to the class. Stuart Little. Maniac Magee. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Number the Stars. But one that sticks with me the most is Louis Sachar's Holes. Though I remember the other books being part of that year, Holes is the one I remember whole passages being read in my teacher's voice. When the movie came out, I remember loving that the story was presented so faithfully (something I attribute to Sachar's screenplay more than anything). This story has fixed itself firmly in my imagination like few other books from that period of my life. Recently, inspired by some posts raving about the movie adaptation, I picked up Holes  again and reread it for the first time since it was read to me almost 20 years ago. (And if you want to feel old in a hurry, just realize that a book you thought you hadn't read for 10 years is really from 20 years ago. Not that I speak from experience or any

Review Double-Header: Rosemary Sutcliff and Jonathan Stroud

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Today we're doing two smaller reviews of recent reads: Rosemary Sutcliff's The Eagle of the Ninth  and Jonathan Stroud's The Hollow Boy  (third in the Lockwood and Co. series). I picked up The Eagle of the Ninth  because Megan Whalen Turner has mentioned it multiple times as an influence on the Attolia/Queen's Thief series. Marcus's early injury in the story directly inspired Eugenides's story in The Queen of Attolia , and Turner has even said she wrote Thick as Thieves  partially as a reversal of Eagle ; rather than the soldier, it is the slave who tells the story. The quest feel of the latter half of Eagle  also feels very similar to Turner's The Thief . But enough about influences. Eagle  isn't a seat-of-your-pants thriller or even a typical quest narrative. While the seeds for the quest are planted early, the mission to retrieve the lost eagle isn't even introduced until nearly halfway through the book. Instead, we're treated to Ma

Paying Your Debts to Keep the Wolf Away: Naomi Novik's Spinning Silver

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A year and a half ago, I read and fell in love with Naomi Novik's Uprooted , a mostly new fairy tale for adults that draws inspiration from Novik's Eastern European heritage and my own favorite fairy tale, "Beauty and the Beast." Last year, Novik released a sister book, Spinning Silver , and I finally got around to reading it. Spinning Silver does not take place in the same universe as Uprooted , but it feels very similar (magic systems aside). The narration is nuanced and varied; each of the ultimately six narrators has their own voice and diction (the audiobook is spectacularly performed by Lisa Flanagan). The story is openly a "Rumpelstiltskin" retelling; Miryem's opening narration brings the story to the forefront and sets it in opposition to her own. The story about the miller's daughter, she tells us, is one that people began to tell to cast the moneylender (a Jew) in a demonic light in order to get out of their debts. Miryem knows t

Over Your Dead Body: John Cleaver Fights Monsters and Explores Morality

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In the past, I've made no secret of my appreciation for Dan Wells's John Cleaver series of novels. You can read my reviews of books three and four here and here , respectively. Over Your Dead Body  picks up months down the road from The Devil's Only Friend.  John and Brooke are on the road and on their own, hiding from both the FBI and the Withered. Using the memories deposited in Brooke's mind by the Withered Nobody and information gathered by FBI agents over the preceding years, they have been tracking down Withered one by one. Now, they're down to only a handful of Withered that Brooke (and her myriad personalities that came with Nobody's memories) can lead them to. Their path takes some unexpected twists and turns, including the reappearance of a personality John never thought he'd see again: his girlfriend, Marci. Her memories came to Brooke along with all the others Nobody possessed, and the chance to have her in his life again is a temptatio

The Wizard of London Breaks New Ground and Cold Hearts

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We're back this week with a look at the fourth book in Mercedes Lackey's Elemental Masters series. I've mentioned my love for this series before , but I've never done a full review here. It's time to change that. Like its predecessors,  The Wizard of London  retells a classic fairy tale in Lackey's alternate Victorian/Edwardian England. In this case, the tale in question is Hans Christian Anderson's "The Snow Queen," although the parallels are scanter than previous books in the series. In another change for the series,  The Wizard of London picks up multiple POV storylines. Whereas previous books have focused on the romantic plot interwoven with the main conflict, usually maxing out at three POV characters, Wizard  uses five main POVs. While some of Lackey's more direct adaptations would have suffered from the added perspectives, Wizard carries the tale forward better for its multiplied leads. The original story was, after all, quite ep

Books and Cookies Tag

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I'm picking this tag up from Paper Fury , who picked it up from other blogs. Chocolate Chip: Classic Book That You Love Dracula, Treasure Island, Pride and Prejudice, The Hunchback of Notre Dame Thin Mints: A Hyped-Up Book You Want To Read The Return of the Thief by Megan Whalen Turner, Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak, the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik Shortbread: An Author You Can’t Get Enough Of C. S. Lewis, Jim Butcher, J. R. R. Tolkien, Naomi Novik, Megan Whalen Turner  Samoas: An Emotional Rollercoaster A Monster Calls  by Patrick Ness, Changes by Jim Butcher, I Don't Want to Kill You by Dan Wells Oreos: A Book Whose Cover Was Better Than The Story The Golden Compass  by Phillip Pullman Gingerbread Cookies: Where The Story Was Better Than Its Cover Till We Have Faces  by C. S. Lewis, The Secret of NIMH/Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH  by Robert C. O'Brien (I have the movie tie-in edition and it's not the bes

Obligatory New Year's Goals/Resolutions Post

It's really hard to believe it's been a year since I last made major goals for my creative life. And what a year it's been. I've switched jobs (so has my wife, but through less stressful circumstances), and God has seen us through financial hardships small and large. Lorehaven  magazine launched.  My life has been a lot busier and less restful of late due to work being so full the last couple of months. Add on doing Inktober and NaNoWriMo, and holiday travels . . . I'm bushed. But I'm going to try to get back into the habit of blogging and being creative in other ways. But before I set myself some goals for this year, let's take a look at last year's goals. Writing: Edit Albion Apparent and get it to the publisher.   During the first half of last year, I spent a large portion of my writing time on this. However, I stalled out for several reasons I can't go into. When there's news on this front, I will share it. Finish writing "Pap