Designed for updates, bits of undeniable wit, unasked for wisdom and story scraps.

Currently Available Books

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Review of Mastiff, by Tamora Pierce

Mastiff (Beka Cooper, #3)Mastiff by Tamora Pierce
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Reviews that start with, "First, let me say how much I love this author and this series..." are never good for a reader to see. Unfortunately, a lot of Beka and Tamora fans are going to be saying that.

As a standalone book this is amazing. A sort of Medieval Without A Trace. This is not a disappointing book, it is a different book.

First of all, do yourself a favor and read Terrier and Bloodhound first. They are wonderful stories and you will never be able to enjoy them the same once you've read Mastiff.

Beka is back and she is the same amazingly good, shy, loyal and incredibly intelligent young woman we all love and remember. Her surroundings have changed considerably though. She's pulled from the Lower City of Corus and thrust into the Northern wilds of Tortall in order to find the crown prince, a four year old who has been kidnapped in order to destroy and replace the monarchy.

Along comes trusty* Tunstall, her partner who is a wonderful sort of father/brother figure. Pounce and Achoo are along as well, providing much of the lightheartedness. Lady Sabine, who keeps a leash on Tunstall's moodiness. And a new character, Farmer Cape, a kennel mage from Blue Harbor who is either a complete fool, or the smartest one of all.

The good first:

Farmer Cape: A wonderful character! So well developed, so well thought out...he had me guessing in the first 50 or so pages, but once I got him I instantly loved him. He's a rascal that one, but a really good guy at the core. I think this is possibly the best character that Tamora has ever written, replacing Nawat and Nealan in my affections.

Gershom: The main father figure for Beka, and a great man he is. We don't see a lot of him, as per usual, but everytime you see him he's so in character that you love him. It was because he vouched for Farmer that I could trust a new mage.

The bad guys: They are seriously bad. I mean really. I was impressed and sickened by the zeal with which they killed things. Younger audiences will likely need supervision reading this, because if their imaginations are good this could induce nightmares. Holes blown in castles, people being melted, eaten by bugs and flies, strangled and left for dead wherever they are killed. Bloody I tell you.

I liked the pacing in this book too. I have read that some felt it too slow, others too fast, but I'm happily in the middle. It felt realistic in length, and I'm glad there's over 500 pages. The Hunt was vvery real, and quite frustrating at times, but that is what makes Tamora so good. That and how compelling her characters are.

The Epilogue is genius and totally makes me want to read Song of the Lioness again, even though I recently finished it (for the sixth time).

The Bads:

I was firmly in Camp Rosto and have been terribly disappointed in this respect during the last two books. I really wish he had been more in the mix. That being said, I think Farmer was a much better choice for Beka. They are highly complimentary personalities and it will not try her honor to be with him as it would with Rosto, King of Thieves.

Tunstall: Heart=broken. I love, love LOVE Tunstall and the twist just shattered me. I was really hoping that Beka was wrong about a traitor among the four of them, but I should have realized that couldn't be so. I would have been more comfortable with it being Sabine whom I never liked much. I think the fact that this twist has inspired such passionate reactions is likely the work of genius, but I am too close to the event to see clearly. All I know is how much I love Tunstall and how completely out of character his actions were in this book. I also think Beka should have been even more broken up, but realize perhaps she did not wish to dwell on that in her writing.

I do not believe that I will be able to read Terrier and Bloodhound again for some time though, as I will constantly be looking at Tunstall with disbelief and shock.

This book was much different from Tamora's other writings, but the Beka Cooper books have been different from the beginning, having a much more police-show orient than medieval lords and ladies feel. I reallly did love it, but I am still trying to get over Tunstall.

I think the hallmark of a good series is this though: I wish there was another book coming!

View all my reviews

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Extra Special Birthday Surprise! (Is Here!)

Welcome to the ESBS, and thanks so much for joining me on this auspicious occasion!

You would think that just the fact that there is an Extra Special Birthday Surprise would be enough, but NO! I love my readers so much that I have made this into a two-part special!

2-parter for double the awesomeness!

Part 1: How I Met Cameo
Part 2: Prologue of Shadows On The Wall

Now that the requests have started coming in for the next Immortal World book, I am going to reassure you that the third book (#2 in the series) IS in the making! For those of you who cannot simply take my word for it, I have formed the ESBS. What better way to convince you than to introduce you to the main character?

People like to ask how I come up with the ideas for my books. Well, here's the secret: I don't. The characters find me. They are the ones telling the story. I am a vessel for their words.

In the case of Submerged In Darkness, Alex found me when I was just a fledgling writer. She convinced me that I was wasting my time trying to write about characters I created. She told me that she had a story for me to write, and then introduced me to Liam. But much like the time in Tears You Apart, when Aubri meets Angela and Connor, I could only see Damon once he was in my eye-line.

When I first finished writing Submerged In Darkness, it was just after Christmas and I was absolutely heart-broken. How could Damon be dead? You see, I had done what any good author will; I had fallen in love with my character. I wasn't sure I could write again. I know now that I was being a bit melo-dramatic, but the experience was incredibly tramatic. It was the first time I had killed a character that I was absolutely, soul-wrenchingly in love with.

The nights I had formerly spent plugging away at the keyboard were now spent staring up at the stars on my ceiling wondering, what now?

I got the answer one night. Here is the story of how I met the main character of Shadows On The Wall.

Part 1: How I Met Cameo

I lay in bed, contemplating the last pages of my latest book. Incredible, I was already wondering what I would write next. I had a few ideas of course, but nothing concrete yet. I was dressed comfortable in my favorite writing clothes: sleep pants, t-shirt, fuzzy socks. I had removed my roomy sweatshirt a few minutes before.

As I lay atop the covers on my bed, I wondered when I would see Damon again…It was something I couldn’t stop my mind from dwelling on. My decision to go back in time for my writing had been made by now. I was sure it was the right way to go. I might see him again…if not in the flesh, then at least through the memories of my characters. It was more than I had thought to hope for since finishing Submerged In Darkness.

His death nearly broke me in that first book. What would it be like to see him again? Even from afar….my heart beat unevenly for a few seconds. I missed him so. I missed his sweet laughter in my ear as I fell asleep, the teasing smile he sometimes turned on me. More than those things though, more than anything; I missed the sound of his voice. I had grown so used to it in those six months of writing…I barely knew what to do without him. It felt as though I couldn’t function properly without him.

How could I have let this happen? How could I have written his death?

An unfamiliar knock in the vicinity of my bedroom door caught me off guard. I jumped and, as I am wont to do when startled, gave a strange half-screech. My hand flew to my throat and I sat full-up.

Standing just inside my bedroom door (though it had never opened, I knew, because it squeaked terribly) was a woman I had never seen before in my life. She had shoulder-length dark red hair. In the bad light I thought her eyes were dark, but couldn’t be certain. She was only about five feet, four inches and was dressed in green cargo pants and a white spaghetti strap camisole.

I was about to scream, but she held up a hand.

“Wait.” Her voice was deep, catching me off guard, “Are you Shannon A Hiner?”

My eyes flew back and forth wondering if this was a trap. What answer would keep me alive?

“The truth, please. I was told that Shannon A Hiner could help me.”

“Who are you?” I said quickly.

“My name is Cameo.”

I repeated the name under my breath, trying to figure if I had ever heard it before. I didn’t believe I had. I looked at her afresh…she looked different. Not like a normal human. But who would send an immortal to me?

“Look,” the woman sounded exasperated, “If you’re not her that’s fine. I’ll just leave. I don’t have time to waste.”

I made a snap decision, “I am Shannon. Who sent you?”

She had been turning to leave, but when I spoke she turned back, “Someone who knows about your last project.”

“Who?” I repeated, feeling slightly testy at her evasion.

“I am not at liberty to say.”

I sighed, lying back against my pillows. The Immortal World could be such a pain in the ass.

She took a step toward me and, albeit hesitantly, sat down on the end of the bed. “I was told you could…tell stories.”

“Write. I can write stories.” I motioned to the new manuscript on my desk across the room, “If you’d like to read it I only ask that you wait until I’m done proofing it.”

The woman closed her eyes briefly and then shook her head, “No.”

My jaw clenched. I should have been used to rejection by then, but still her refusal hurt me. “That’s fine. You don’t have to. Whatever.”

“You misunderstand me, human.” She looked at her hands briefly before raising her face to meet my eyes defiantly, “I want you to tell my story. Write my story.”

“Your story…” I stared at her. Never had I imagined the characters would come to me. “I-who are you?”

She smiled bitterly, “I am not surprised you have not heard of me. I am something the vampires would like to keep quiet--a black mark on their history. Will you help me? I want the correct story to be told, not the propaganda.”

I was taken aback by the quiet fury that seethed under her calm exterior. Here was a story worth telling for sure. I had a feeling it would be harder to tell than any of the ones that had come before it. Cameo was already incredible to me, and I didn’t even know her yet.

“I will write your story to the best of my ability.”

“It’s not a happy story.” She said it as if she was apologizing.

I smiled at her, “I’ve a feeling it’s a good one though.”

“Thank you.” She stood up, “I will return tomorrow night at eight, if that is acceptable to you.”

“That sounds great.” I watched as she walked back to the door. She opened it, sure enough it squeaked, and left.

Perhaps I would be able to see Damon sooner than I had hoped.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Goodreads Review: Hush, Hush

Hush, Hush (Hush, Hush, #1)Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It took me approximately 3 1/2 hours, reading straight through, to finish this book. That is including the time my cat would jump on the book and force me to lose my place.)

Becca Fitzpatrick is a good writer, she has a good feel for suspense and she knows how to keep the reader guessing. Unfortunately, this is becoming a tired storyline very fast.

Beware, spoilers lie ahead.

We all know the story, right? Teenage girl gets thrown together with hot, standoffish boy who makes her sincerely uncomfortable. It develops into romance, there is a lot of danger associated with possibly loving him..someone dies in the end. These are pretty much givens.

While the overall plot was comfortable (or highly predictable, rather) Ms. Fitzpatrick's own unique style did add some truly good moments. Interactions with Patch are, appropriately, very uncomfortable at first. But towards the end when he starts relaxing around Nora he develops into a more likeable character.

There are some unrealistic acts where disbelief can be suspended by the reader based on the beings performing them: angels (ie. An angel becomes the new psychologist for the high school with no problem).
On the otherhand, there are times when the humans commit these unbelievable acts as well. While Nora's mother comes across as a nice, caring woman, she somehow finds it okay to leave her 16 year old daughter home alone in a rural setting for days on end. Forget the elderly housekeeper, this kid is ALONE at night. Had the mother been put forth as absent minded and apathetic this would be acceptable, but she genuinely seems to be a loving mother.

Vee, Nora's supposed soul sister and best friend constantly disregards Nora's feelings. Now I know there are many people who behave this way to their friends, but she honestly did not have enough lovable moments to justify the hell she puts Nora through towards the end. If my own best friend acted in such a way, she would nolonger be my best friend.
Coach, the biology teacher (yeah, try THAT one on for size) doesn't find it odd or put a stop to the fact that Patch is behaving completely inappropriately for a classroom setting. And was it a biology class or sex-ed? Because I'm still really confused by that turn of events. I understand that Fitzpatrick was using it as a plot mover to get Patch hitting on Nora, but honestly it felt really really weird.

I like the fact that Patch becomes the anti-hero. He's not meant to be the hero in the beginning, he's supposed to be the bad guy. But over a short time he shifts, believably, and becomes the protector and good guy...good thing because it's his enemies out to kill Nora.
The good news is that I'm definitely interested in seeing where Fitzpatrick takes this in the sequels. I just hope that she gets more original in her plotline, because she has the talent to carry a good tale.
View all my reviews