Thursday, October 31, 2013

Books of Note: October Reads

Like last month, I mostly read some re-reads but I did read a few new books too, and here's a couple that I enjoyed most!

In the Urwald, you don’t step off the path. Trolls, werewolves, and butter-churn riding witches lurk amid the clawing branches, eager to swoop up the unwary. Jinx has always feared leaving the path—then he meets the wizard Simon Magus. 

Jinx knows that wizards are evil. But Simon’s kitchen is cozy, and he seems cranky rather than wicked. Staying with him appears to be Jinx’s safest, and perhaps only, option. As Jinx’s curiosity about magic grows, he learns to listen to the trees as closely as he does to Simon’s unusual visitors. The more Jinx discovers, the more determined he becomes to explore beyond the security of well-trod paths. But in the Urwald, a little healthy fear is never out of place, for magic—and magicians—can be as dangerous as the forest, and soon Jinx must decide which is the greater threat. 

Sage Blackwood introduces a daring new hero for an innovative new world as Jinx is joined by friends, battles enemies, and discovers life beyond—and even within—the forest is more complex than he can imagine, and that the Urwald itself needs him more than he could ever guess


Thoughts on the Overall Book: This was a really fun, unique fantasy read with an interesting story line, good characters and a god dose of adventure and humor. Pretty much just the kind of book I like to curl up with at the end of the day.

Cover--Yea or Nay: Yes, I really like the cover, it caught my attention and definitely looks like a fantasy novel. I also really love the title font.

Characters: Jinx is the kind of protagonist I love to read about (and one of the reasons I really like middle-grade books so much). He's smart, resourceful, and what's better, he does make his own decisions, even if they aren't always for the best, but without seeming like he's being disrespectful to others. He's very curious, and wants to know what there is to know about the world. I liked his simple genius that even he didn't realize he possessed. Simon was a good mentor/father figure character. Not quite as awesome as some others I've read, but still good, and I liked how the reader could tell he really cared about Jinx, even if he didn't always show it, and also for the fact that sometimes we really weren't sure why he did what he did. I also really liked Sohpie, and I wish she had been in the book more, but maybe we'll see more of her in the next one. Elfwyn and Reven were also really likable characters. Elfwyn was one of those enjoyable female characters who have spunk and are capable of taking care of themselves without having The Attitude and Reven was kind of the happy one, who was always good natured and polite but no less capable of taking care of business than the others. As for the villain, I thought the Bonemaster was really cool. Sometimes villains can get a little overblown and cartoony in middle-grade fiction, and while he was a little bit like that, you could also tell he was really dangerous, and the fact that he kept tiny people in jars was really rather frightening. I was not disappointed with him.

The Romance: None!

Writing Style: Third person, but from Jinx's perspective. I really enjoyed the writing style, it's written in somewhat of a light humorous style which is exactly what I like from these kinds of books. The descriptions and the world of the Urwald were well-crafted and held just enough of traditional fantasy elements to seem familiar, but was also different enough to be unique. I really enjoyed the world presented in this book, and how Jinx presents the different types of magic. I'm not always a fan of magic books, but this one actually made sense to me in how the magic worked, and I find I can enjoy those much better.

Accuracy/ Believability: Not applicable.

Problems/What bothered me: There was only one small thing I felt was a little lacking(view spoiler)

Conclusion: 4 stars. This is a really fun adventure novel that is great for when you want a quick read. It ended a little bit abruptly but I imagine the sequel will pick up right where it ended, and I look forward to continuing the story of Jinx and his friends.

Recommended Audience: Guy or girl read 10 and up. Anyone who enjoys a good fantasy adventure novel with fun characters and not an overload of magic.

(To read this review with spoilers go to Goodreads)

Meg and her siblings have been sent to the English countryside for the summer to stay with elderly relatives. The children are looking forward to exploring the ancient mansion and perhaps discovering a musty old attic or two filled with treasure, but never in their wildest dreams did they expect to find themselves in the middle of a fairy war.

When Rowan pledges to fight for the beautiful fairy queen, Meg is desperate to save her brother. But the Midsummer War is far more than a battle between mythic creatures: Everything that lives depends on it. How can Meg choose between family and the fate of the very land itself?


Thoughts on the Overall Book: This was a pleasantly enjoyable read, and while not the best fairy book I have ever read, it had a lot of the traditional tales and such that are always fun to see in such books for lovers of fairy lore.

Cover--Yea or Nay: Yes, I love this cover. It's so pretty and it obviously states what the book is about.

Characters: Meg is a nice protagonist. I liked her because, even though she's not the oldest of the siblings, she's the oldest girl and kind of takes on a motherly role among her brothers a sister. She smart but not without human failings which are obvious to see in the story. Rowan, the older brother, is practical, a quiet scholarly wise type of person, and I liked him too. Silly, the younger sister was your typical tomboy and she was enjoyable as well. As for the other children, I liked Dickie, who was the shy, bookworm, and the one who did all the research on fairies, so I liked him, of course. And I was rather devided in my opinion of Finn. As he was written and what he did, I didn't like him, obviously, but I had the feeling that he just wasn't or shouldn't have been as bad as he was portrayed to be. Because he was so young, I didn't think he should have been as malicious as he was, but that was just my opinion. I do think he should have had more of a defining moment and turned for the good in the end but since there's another book, I suppose his story isn't finished. I loved great aunt and uncle Ash, they were nice characters and Bran was your typical brooding, closed-off-from-the-world-for-his-own-reasons character. I also really liked Lemman the otter girl, even though she wasn't in the story a lot. In short there was a good cast of characters, and I liked the sibling relationships.

The Romance: None

Writing Style: The style was my favorite part of this book, actually. It's written in kind of an old fashioned style, and read like a fairy tale, which is essentially what this is. I also liked how, while the book is all in third person, we got to see the insights of almost all the characters. I think that works good for this kind of story. The author also seems to have done quite a bit of research into fairy lore, and since I love that, I like to see people using the old legends and tales.

Accuracy/ Believability: Not totally applicable, but there was one thing that bothered me. The children are sent to England because of a major flu epidemic in the US. I wouldn't have had so much of a problem with this if it was set in the past, but as a modern day story, this was just a little strange, and I half expected the epidemic to have been some cause of the fairies, but it was never explained and it just kind of seemed a little weird to me. It just seemed almost like the author needed something drastic to happen to get the characters where they needed to be. The flu doesn't feature in any part of the story apart from that, so it just seemed a little off, but it might not bother everyone.

Problems/What bothered me: Apart from what I mentioned above, there were actually a couple things that bothered me(view spoiler)

Conclusion:3 stars. An enjoyable read for any who like family stories and fairy stories.

Recommended Audience: 10 and up, readers who enjoyed the Spiderwick books would probably like this too. 

(To read this review with spoilers go to Goodreads)

And don't forget to stop by later this moth to see all the fun stuff I'll be posting for NaNoWriMo! I can't beelive it's only hours away now!

On another note, Happy Halloween! Eats lots of candy! 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

NaNoWriMo Story Reveal!!!

Okay, so I promised, to reveal the story I will be working on for NaNo today, and I have been really mean and hinting at this one for a while because I was rather proud of the idea and I didn't want everyone to know about it too soon. But okay, now I can't leave you in the dark anymore. In short this is what it's about:

Roman Britain & Werewolves

Yep, this is my first official attempt at paranormal and I'm both excited and nervous, but because I'm writing this as a historical with paranormal thrown in, I have a good feeling that I can make this book work. You'll all have to let me know as I post excerpts this next month. I'm really looking forward to hearing everyone's thoughts on the story, and the idea itself, for or against. All I know is that I'm bloody excited to start writing this book since I've had the outline done since June. Here's a more in depth look into the story.

Alexandrus has been hoping for his promotion to centurion for a while, not only for his own personal gain, but to make his father, a wounded veteran, proud. However, promotion does not come in the way he expects. His new posting is for a frontier fort on the Northern Border, and he'll be commanding a cohort of Celtic auxiliaries. He was chosen for this particular job since his grandmother was British and he speaks the language. So he sets off for his new posting leaving behind a disappointed father and the life he has known in the south. When he reaches the fort, he finds it the most horribly run place he has ever seen. Men are sleeping on duty, no one seems to be motivated to do anything, and the decurion is "currently indisposed". He soon makes it his duty to join with the other centurions and whip the men into shape, but it proves difficult, for the fort is full of troublemakers, both well-meaning and otherwise. But the lack of discipline is not the only thing strange about the new posting. Where are the horses if it's supposed to me a cavalry cohort? Why do most of the men seem to have strange golden eyes, and why is it that most of them have bite scars? It can't be that they were all so unlucky while hunting for wolf skins, could it? Alex disregards an old story he hears about a Druid curse, but when it comes the night of his own initiation, he begins to wonder whether there is truth to it after all.

That's the story in a nutshell, or at least as much as I'm willing to tell at the moment ;) Interesting? Strange? let me know!

Also, you can go onto Pintrest and see my board for Wolfsblood (the title) which I have just unlocked from being secret :) Again, if you're doing NaNo, let me know and if you want to add me as a buddy I'm there under "Theartfulscribbler" just like my Twitter account.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Michael Crandon Excerpt

Okay, so I didn't get as many blog posts written this month as I wanted to, mainly because I started a new writing project and kind of obsessed over it and fell in love with all the characters, and decided to spend all the time I had before NaNo writing a bit of that story. So, yes, that's what happened, and I can't talk about that particular WIP at the moment because I'm a secretive writer, but I really CANNOT WAIT to share it with you all because I think it's totally awesome and I've been having a blast with it. However, next week you are all going to get a sneak peak into my NaNo project for this year, and it will finally be revealed to the public. My crazy idea, I can't wait to see what everyone thinks =) And all through the month of November, I'll be posting fun stuff to go along with my story, an excerpt each week, and also just NaNoWriMo stuff in particular. If you're doing NaNo too, let me know, and we can be NaNo Buddies =)

All right then, so today was pretty awesome, because it's finally gotten cold here in Florida. (Relatively. Cold enough to wear an over-shirt, anyway.) So, because that put me in such a good mood, I wanted to share an excerpt of my upcoming novel Michael Crandon: A Company of Rogues. My new mystery novel about a retired jewel thief living in the 1930s. (If you missed the introductory post about Michael and co., look here). And because I'm a mean author, I decided to share the bit where Michael gets accosted and beat up by one of his nemeses. So, I hope you enjoy that.

I hadn’t gone more than ten metres from the pub beforesomeone stepped out of the shadows on my right, revealing himself in the glow of a street light. I stopped, cursing violently. If it hadn’t been so wet, I would have been warned by the acrid smell of the cigarette the man was smoking, but as it was, I had been caught off my guard, and by the second worst possible person. The only thing I could thank Lady Luck for at that moment was that it was not Randall; though I didn’t really care right then, for I knew the result of the meeting would likely be about the same when all was said and done.
            “Ah, Crandon,” he said with a sneer I hated so much on his face. “I’ve been wanting to talk to you. Have a few questions, I do.”
            This was the infamous Inspector Dowd, the man who had had it in for me since the first heist. I had never figured out what had led him onto my trail or how he had even found me for that matter—perhaps it had been Randall’s doing—but he had never forgotten and he enjoyed tormenting me whenever a chance arose. It was lucky there had never been evidence found against me despite his desperate searching, or I would have been behind bars long ago, or worse. And as Dowd was a very sadistic minded man, I didn’t want to think about what the worse might entail.
            “I don’t have time for you tonight, Dowd,” I told him, trying to dodge to the side, but he stopped me with a hand on my chest, glancing over my shoulder with a smile. I didn’t bother looking; I already knew who would be there.
            “Hello, Braxton, Howard,” I greeted Dowd’s two bruisers who had marched forward to box me in. Dowd turned back to me with an oily smile on his face.
            “Let’s go somewhere a little more private, shall we?” he inquired, motioning to an alley to the left and his lackeys put their huge paws on my back and shoved me along until we were out of sight of the street. The light only shone enough to see the vague outlines of my accosters, and Dowd’s face glowed eerily from the light of his cigarette whenever he took a puff of it.
            “Now Crandon, you should know how this goes by now. You answer my questions and I let you go on your way. If you don’t, I’ll have Braxton and Howard give you a little something to consider for the next time we meet. I do hope you didn’t forget your last lesson so soon. But it has been a while, I suppose; perhaps it’s time to refresh your memory.” He knocked the hat from my head and it landed in a puddle on one side. I cringed as he breathed smoke right into my face. “What’s it going to be?”
            “Tell me what you want to know before I decide,” I told him.
            “I think you know,” he said then grabbed me harshly by the lapel of my jacket and dragged me toward him so that his face was uncourteously close to mine. “Where is the necklace, you scum?”
            I shoved him away, twisting my lip as I tried not to breathe in his awful breath; I caught the scent of liquor as well, only adding to my sinking feelings. “I don’t have the bloody thing, as I have explained to everyone else. Now get out of my face and let me be!”
            He didn’t like that at all, sneering at me with a wicked gleam in his eyes. “You’ll pay for your contemptible attitude, Crandon,” he said before he shot his head forward into mine. There was a metallic taste in the back of my throat and I felt blood drip down my chin from my nose. Before I could recover, Braxton and Howard had taken me between them, and there was no chance I was going to get away now. Dowd grabbed one of my hands and put his cigarette out in my palm. I gritted my teeth as it burned me, but I knew better than to show him any reaction. It only egged him on all the more.
            “Perhaps next time you won’t defy me,” he said with a weary sigh and motioned lazily to the bruisers. “Teach him his lesson, boys.”