Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Scala by Christina Bauer

I read and loooooved Angelbound by Christina Bauer, so of course I wanted to read the sequel as soon as it came out. (Actually, I got an ARC, so I read it before it came out :-D) I was a little disappointed to see that it was only a novella, but then I remembered that 52,000 is a pretty long novella and was okay with it. And, really, I think it was the appropriate length for the plot. I would have gotten annoyed if the story had gone on for any longer, and I felt there were the right number of twists and turns. 

I enjoyed Scala a lot overall. Lots of continued adventure in an awesome and unique world. I think Myla is a great character. She is determined to do whatever she thinks is right, and is willing to kick a little ass to ensure that she gets to do so. She takes her new responsibilities as Scala very seriously, while also taking time out to spend with her family and boyfriend, Lincoln. 

Am I being negative if I say that I think Lincoln was a liiiiiiittle too perfect? There were a few times that I thought he would get annoyed at something Myla did, but he ranged from "Let's do this together instead of you doing it alone" to "OMG, Myla, even when you are meddling in my life, you are perfect." Which I didn't think was all that realistic, since all couples disagree on some things. And it's not that I want realism in my fantasy. I just want conflict. To keep things interesting.

So after Angelbound, I really wanted Adair to be redeemable. I mean, it's only like she pretended to be the Scala heir, thus endangering all the realms when she wasn't able to actually be the Scala and... Never mind, I guess she was pretty awful. And there was a point in Angelbound where it was pretty clear that if she had any good qualities, they would have come out. But... I wanted the Thrax to be the good guys, descended from angels as they were. But I think we establish in Scala that she's pretty much just evil.

The next book is due out in October, so yay for that! Apparently Lincoln and Myla have a baby, which is an interesting jump from their I'm-not-giving-an-spoilers relationship status at the end of Scala. But I guess he is a prince and all, so having children is high on his to-do list. It also seems to be a jump out of the YA genre, but I shall reserve my judgment until I read it.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Rook by Daniel O'Malley

Ordinarily at this time, I would be plying you with pictures of my latest baked goods adventure, but life has sadly inhibited me on this front. You see, near the beginning of April, I noticed that my feet had swelled to about twice their normal size. When the swelling had not abated in a couple of weeks, I went to the doctor, and she gave me a moratorium: no more sodium. Or, at least, a lot less sodium. For a supertaster with a lot of food neuroses like me, this was kind of a major deal. And it meant that I couldn't bake nearly as many things, because butter, baking soda, peanut butter, buttermilk.... all loaded with salt. I've got a brownie recipe with no salt, and I have my hands on some substitute baking soda to try, but nothing super exciting. Perhaps I shall work up some more exciting substitutes in the future, but for now, it's all boring.

Instead, I shall have to talk about the last book I read, The Rook by Daniel O'Malley. I wasn't entirely sure that The Rook would be my kind of thing. It's not YA, there's no romance, and it's by a male author. (I know, I know. I hate being gender biased. But I like my books to have feeeeeeeelings.) I had it on my list because the description seemed interesting, and I gave it a try because some one in my on-line buddy reading group wanted to check it out, which is pretty much my criteria for actually reading books these days. 

The book opens with Myfanwy Thomas (She doesn't know how to pronounce her name either. Her best guess is that it rhymes with Tiffany) coming to life with a letter in her hand explaining that she is now in possession of someone else's body. Pretty much from there on, I was totally hooked. At first I wasn't sure whether the story was about actual body switching or not, but it turned out to just be the most interesting way of presenting amnesia that I have ever seen. New-Myfanwy has a series of letters from Old-Myfanwy explaining what her life had been like before she lost her memories. Old-Myfanwy had had four separate individuals (three humans and a duck) tell her that she was going to essentially disappear and be replaced with a new self.

Since she had time to prepare, Old-Myfanwy left a series of letters to New-Myfanwy to help her get situated in her life. (Old-M also gave New-M the option of disappearing to a happy new life, which New-M was all about, until she knocked a bunch of people out with her touch. Then she had to know what was going on.)  Other reviewers have commented that these letters serve as infodumps, which is 100% true. Some of them are relevant backstory, but most of them just serve to give us information about the characters and situations. But, really, they remind me how much I like a good infodump. As a writer, I spend a lot of time thinking about showing vs. telling (Apparently I do too much of the latter), but I think part of my issue is that as a reader, I really want someone to tell me what is going on. And Daniel O'Malley does here. And it's all interesting. Okay, yes, a few of the stories toward the end seem to have no point, and sometimes I wish I'd gotten more information sooner, but all-in-all, I am totally on board with the letters.

Both Myfanwys work as high-ranking members of a supernatural spy organization known as the Checquy, which meant we got to deal with lots of individuals with a variety of interesting powers. Gestalt had my favorite power. He (or she, depending) was born into four different bodies but contained a single consciousness. When he was young, he could operate only one body at a time, but as an adult, he can operate all four bodies simultaneously. I thought about how hard it is to have two hands doing different things and had to admire him.

Myfanwy's position leads me back to admiring the use of the amnesia trope. Old-Myfanwy had amazing powers over other people's nervous systems and the potential to be a great agent. However, because of the emotionally traumatizing way she was recruited to the Checquy as a child, she never grew to her full potential. Enter New-Myfanwy with all of the power but none of the historic baggage. Old-M told New-M that she was in a position of power, so she goes in and demands the respect that no one ever gave Old-M. And over the course of a quite long book, she becomes awesome. 

So, seriously. Read The Rook. I don't care who you are. And then join me in sighing that Daniel O'Malley is apparently an author who takes time with his books. But be respectful. Cuz, you know, writing books is hard.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Interview with Jen Printy

Hello, everyone, and welcome to another exciting interview from a Red Adept author. Today I'm talking to Jen Printy, author of My Soul Immortal, a paranormal romance about an immortal man who meets a girl who looks like his dead love from over a century ago. 

Congratulations on your debut novel, Jen! Let’s start with you telling me some of your favorites from the book—favorite scene, favorite character. Whatever you want.

Thank you so much.  I have a bunch of favorite scenes—mainly because they were the most fun to write—so I’ll pick three. I love the beginning scene when Jack runs into Leah for the first time. That was the turning point for Jack after searching long and hard for a way to die.  Then there’s the scene when Leah is hit the car. Last but not least, the scene where Jack is in front of Concilium Animarum, bargaining for Leah’s life with his own.

Something you and I have in common is that we both write about immortal characters. What do you find are the unique issues when writing about immortality?

Good question. Because we’re in Jack’s head, and he’s been kicking around for 170 odd years, I knew it was important to make him a mixture of old and new. Jack appears to be a modern-day man. He dresses like one, and he’s changed his manner of speech to fit in with the times. However, I decided to keep old-fashioned manners—opening door, bowing, and standing when a lady gets up to leave. Those behaviors are habits and they’d be harder to break. I also kept his dated way of thinking about certain topics.

Based on your non-immortal characters ages, My Soul Immortal could qualify as a New Adult novel. Do you group your book this way? What drew you to college-aged (and slightly older) characters?

I’ve found My Soul Immortal definitely has appeal with the New Adult crowd. I’d love to say this was all planned from the beginning, but it wasn’t. The reason for Jack’s immortality had everything to do with it. I did research about how the body ages. I’m not going to go into all the boring details (you’re welcome), but to make a long story short, I found out the human body ages until twenty. After that, erosion sets in. So, Jack had to look twenty, and I wanted my heroine, who’s navigating the adult world for the first time, to be around the same age.

I like to talk about the paranormal romance/urban fantasy divide, which I hope isn’t something I just made up in my head. I would say My Soul Immortal straddles the two fairly well, though you picked the inferior side and put it in PNR. ;-) Do you have thoughts on these genres and your book’s placement in them?

Again, I’d love to say this was planned, but I just wrote out the story that was that was rambling around in my head. Honestly, the book started out as thoughts about déjà vu and reincarnation. Although it’s not surprising the story weaved its way into a PNR, it is my favorite genre, and because of the plot, the romance had to take center stage. Nevertheless, I soon realized because of what Jack is and the world he’s stumbling into, the story would have an urban fantasy side too.  I just ran with it, and let the story lead the way.

Okay, no more questions about genre. I see that Fated Eternals is going to be a series. Will we be seeing more from Jack’s point of view? Some from Leah’s? From completely different characters?

The majority of the books will be in Jack’s POV, for the main reason he is the loudest voice in my head. LOL. Although, we will be in Artagan’s POV a bit of the time again too.

So rumor has it, and by rumor, I mean your facebook page, that you have another artistic skill. Would you like to tell us about it?

Sure. I’m a freelance doll sculptor, which means I sculpt dolls out of clay for doll companies such as Ashton-Drake and Paradise Galleries. They re-produce them into vinyl and sell them to collectors.

What else do you do when you’re not writing, assuming we writers are ever allowed to not be writing?

I enjoy listening to music, mostly alternative rock, reading, and watching movies. Nothing like a good chick flick after a long day. (My husband would disagree.) I also attempt to grow orchids. Seems I don’t have a green thumb that can be a bit of a challenge, but I still try.

If you could have any super power, what would it be and why?

Oooo, decisions, decisions. If I could pick any super power, I think I’d want to be about to walk through shadows like Artagan and the rest of Concilium Animarum Beside the convenience, they’d be great for practical jokes. Taking jumping out and yelling “boo” to a whole new level.

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