Telekinesis. It just seems like a FUN power to have!
What superpower would you love to have?
Friday, June 29, 2007
KARMA GIRL has some surprising depth to it, as is true with any comic book. What's that you say? You don't think comic books have depth? Pick up a few issues. You my be surprised. And you may just become a fan.
Anyway, this book deals with guilt, betrayal and -- believe it or not -- sin. This shouldn't be surprising, because it says right there on the cover, "What goes around, comes around. . . "
I really can't get too much into the plot at this point (2/3 of the way through) without giving stuff away. Mr. Sage's secret identity was a surprise, as was his relationship to another member of the Fearless Five. I'm not sure who most of the members of the Terrible Triad are, but I think I know who Malefica is.
Some amusing bits:
Striker should NOT have made Carmen go to that dinner in her jeans.
Carmen's T-shirt sayings. Really. Estep should offer these for sale on her website. I'd buy one.
Fiera's supermodel scheme.
Cooking southern-style fried chicken for a superhero.
Fiera has the best power. She can put away more food than Bubba at a hotdog eating contest, yet she maintains her superthin figure because she literally burns her fat away.
Still enjoying . . .
Thursday, June 28, 2007
This is a short post, because the cyber-launch party at Enduring Romance is sucking the life out of my web traffic tonight.
The master unmasker has figured IT ALL OUT! I've got to wonder if Estep meant for the reader to figure it all out as well. The only member of the Fearless Five that I'm not sure about is Mr. Sage. Striker? Fiera? the Hermit? They were easy to figure out.
At least I think they were . . . we'll find out in the next few pages if I'm right, I think. I've just reached part two, which is intriguingly titled "Superhero Central".
Please read on to the next post and let me know what you think about my crazy idea.
Ordinarily I post some debut news every week, but the debut news this week seems to be . . . no news. The closest to a debut that I found was David Anthony Durham's ACACIA, but he's an established novelist breaking into fantasy, not an entirely new novelist.
This brought a question to my mind. What on earth is the next Harry Potter novel going to do to the fiction publishing scene in a few weeks? What havoc is it already wreaking? Lisa and Jennifer (and Emily, if she's listening) -- did you have any trepidation with your novel being released so close to the great HP release? This is like the book of the century. What's a debut novelist to do to get noticed amid the uproar?
That's why I'm thinking of declaring the week of July 22 as Debut Novelist Week. Yes, that's the day after the HP release. Go ahead, buy your Harry Potter novel. But buy a debut novel at the same time and read it first! And most important, blog on it!
Yes, I know. We're all dying to know for once and for all whether Snape is really evil or not. We're dying to know if Harry will even survive this book We're dying to know if Sirius will come back (at least I am). But you've waited this long. Surely you can wait a few more days, and it would mean so much for a debut novelist to get some buzz during Harry Potter week.
What do you think? Am I completely nuts for even thinking of such a thing?
Posted by Tia Nevitt at 9:23 PM
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
The next few chapters are filled with action. Carmen gets to meet Striker, a sword-wielding superhunk, and the sparks fly. I'm not sure if she's developing a superpower of her own at this point, but she has an ability that mystifies both her and Striker. And, it only seems to work around Striker.
She has the most hilarious sexy dream that I have ever read. And that's only topped by a sex scene that, as I wrote in Jennifer Estep's blog, is the funniest sex scene I've read since Stephanie tried to get it on with Joe the Buick in one of the early Stephanie Plum novels.
Time is running out for our unmasker, and I have no idea what's going to happen next.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
The cover to KARMA GIRL doesn't really resemble today's comic books, but it has a sort of nostalgic appeal for the older, 6 color comics of yesteryear. The black dress turns out to be significant. As I said in an earlier post, you'll find this book in the Romance section, with the cover out (at least at Barnes and Noble, you will).
Before I dive in, I want to congratulate Jennifer Estep on her website. It has fabulous graphics and sound (and I ordinarily like quiet websites), and is just stuffed full of information. I'm going to have to devote an entire post to her website alone.
As for the novel. I found the opening chapter just a tiny bit rough. The events seemed rushed and tried to deal with all these angsty themes of heartbreak and betrayal with the same breezy voice that characterizes the rest of the book. However, Estep really couldn't have handled it any other way and that was the only rough point that I've encountered so far. Even in sad parts further in the novel, the writing is smooth and transparent.
And need I say hilarious? I have not had so many laugh-out-loud moments with a book since I read Huck Finn. It helps if you know a little comic book trivia. The little old lady superhero was a hoot. And there seems to be a lot of kindly widowed aunts mentioned as well.
But back to the story. I don't think I'm giving anything away here, because most of it is covered in the cover blurb. After Carmen Cole (there are a lot of alliterative names in this book, reminiscent of Peter Parker and Otto Octavius) finds her finance in bed with her best friend, she makes the startling discovery -- courtesy of their super suits that they are wearing under their wedding clothes -- that they are in fact a superhero and an ubervillain. She snaps some photos of them with a handy camera and unmasks them both -- thus launching her unmasking career.
(I love the term "ubervillain". It's so much more perfect than "supervillain".)
Most of the action takes place in Bigtime, New York, where superhero battles level buildings on a regular basis. When you go shopping at Oodles-o-Stuff, you're likely to encounter superheroes, because they get special discounts in exchange for protection against superfights.
It's a blissful three years for Carmen, but all good things come to an end, and her unmasking career ends in tragedy. She barely hangs onto her job. However, certain ubervillains--who seem to have been following her career--decides that she needs to take up her unmasking mantle once again. And they know who her next target should be.
However, Carmen Cole is the master unmasker, and she has a plan. More on that in the next post.
I forgot all about Fur, Fangs and Fey in my post below on group author blogs. They are urban fantasy novelists. I'll have to link them in when I get home. Lisa, you should join this blog. MAGIC LOST, TROUBLE FOUND definitely has urban, fantasy, fangs and fey covered.
I think group author blogs are a great idea. It's a way for an author to keep a blog without posting every day. There seems to be a lot of romance-related author blogs out there. Romancing the Blog seems to be the biggest of the bunch. But here, linked on this page is Alien Romances. It has new posts up every day, yet the same author need not post more than once a week, unless she wants to. Manuscript Mavens just popped up last week, and it appears to be made up of a mix of published and unpublished mavens. Then there are group blogs like Enduring Romance, which is made up of unpublished authors who garner a significant amount of respect.
But where are the fantasy-related group author blogs? If you know of one, please let me know.
Monday, June 25, 2007
I've already started Karma Girl and I'm having a blast reading it. In fact, I'm reading it way too fast. I need to slow down a bit so I can feature this book for a full week. I'll put my first post up on it tomorrow.
If you want to pop by the book store and buy it, you'll find it in the romance section, not the fantasy section. (I've already broken one of my own rules!) It's a trade paperback. It was placed cover-out.
If you want to get it at Amazon, here's the link. Or, you can read the opening chapter here.
I think the thing that I liked the most about THIEF WITH NO SHADOW was its originality. I don't think there was a sword drawn throughout the entire book. No spells flung between characters. Very few tavern scenes.
The book spends a lot of time dealing with the consequences of theft. Melke stole something of vital importance to Bastian's family. She did it to rescue her brother, who tried to steal treasure from the salamanders. Bastian got his revenge by stealing something from Melke. And before everyone was born, another theft results in the curse being placed on Bastian's family.
As Scooper said in a comment a few posts back, the ending did surprise me. It was what I thought should happen early on in the story, but I didn't really expect it to happen. The ironic thing was that the only character who didn't self-sacrifice in some horrible way was the character who was the most self-sacrificing at the start of the story.
The story was literary and serious in mood, yet fast-paced and gripping. I will keep looking for other books by Emily Gee.
Here's the complete info (that I could find):
The book at Amazon
A sample chapter
Emily Gee's Website
Emily Gee's Myspace page
Sunday, June 24, 2007
I finished THIEF WITH NO SHADOW this morning.
The ending was understated, yet I would not call it subtle. I kept expecting the story to lead one place when it lead in another place instead. There were some things that were obvious to me that the characters should have thought of, but did not. For example, Melke should have used the salamander scat to disguise her scent, rather than pungent oils. That way, they never would have known she was there.
I expected the salamanders to bestow a curse of their own. But a certain sacrifice prevented that from happening.
The romance at the end was definitely forced. It might have been better for the author to allow a little time to pass before trying to force the romance in there. It would have been even better if Melke and Bastian could have had more of a rapport established earlier in the story.
However, I loved the story. It was completely different and wholly new. I don't think a sword was drawn throughout the entire book. Yet, there was plenty of magic and tension and conflict and horrible consequences for failure. I didn't want to put the book down, and I love it when authors do that to me.
I'll try to put up a post about the book as a whole by tomorrow night.
Saturday, June 23, 2007
I'm completely stunned and blown away by THIEF WITH NO SHADOW. If I had not been busy all day, I probably would be done with it by now, because it has been so difficult to put down.
In most fantasies, the public stakes are huge. A world is at risk, or at the very least, a nation. In THIEF, the world does not seem to be in any danger, nor is any nation, or any city, or even any town or village.
So what is at stake? A family. Or rather, the remnants of two families. In each family, a brother and a sister are all that is left. There is a curse at work, and perhaps even more than one. It is so rare to have such subtle stakes in a fantasy. Yet, you are so drawn into the story, the stakes are so enormous at a personal level that I cannot imagine the stakes getting any higher. Yet Emily Gee keeps piling it on and on.
In her interview on Nalini Singh's blog, Emily Gee promises a happy ending, but at this point, 4/5ths of the way through the novel, I sure don't see how that's going to happen. However, that's exactly what authors are supposed to do with us, isn't it? I am learning a lot from this novel.
I'll probably finish this up by the end of the weekend.
Friday, June 22, 2007
If you would like to write an as-you-read-it review of a debut fantasy here at Fantasy Debut, please either leave a comment with your email address here or email me at tia dot nevitt at gmail dot com. You would have to obtain your own copy of the book. I am looking for guest reviewers for either of the following novels:
WICKED, LOVELY by Melissa Marr (hardcover, but not expensive)
MALEDICTE by Lane Robins (trade paperback)
KARMA GIRL is not available because I have already purchased my copy. :)
Please only volunteer if you are really hooked by either of these books. I think this blog can only support one guest reviewer at a time so whichever novel gets a volunteer first would be up next. I will send more details to any volunteers.
Posted by Tia Nevitt at 7:20 AM
Thursday, June 21, 2007
I picked up THIEF WITH NO SHADOW at Barnes & Noble. I found it with some difficulty in the Fantasy section because it was the only copy left! It was on the shelf spine-out.
The cover is pretty awesome. It features a girl in a cowled robe holding a necklace. My impression from the cover is that it is going to be a dark fantasy.
It begins with the Melke stuck up a tree while a vicious-seeming dog barks up at her. She is invisible, but that doesn't deter the dog, or the dog's mysterious owner, who seems to be able to see her even when she is supposed to be invisible.
The point-of-view switches between Melke and the dog's owner, Bastian. Bastian has an interesting link with the dog, which is no ordinary dog. Emily Gee delves pretty deeply into the minds of both characters. It is like looking at the world through their eyes in a manner that is very well done.
Within the privacy of his thoughts, Bastian seems hot-tempered. However, he appears to master his thoughts even when they would otherwise drive him to violence. So far, Melke appeals more than Bastian, but I can see Bastian's plight as well. It would have been interesting to see Bastian make a certain sacrifice that he was asked to make. That would have really put the onus on Melke to do something, to intervene somehow and it would have made me love Bastian almost immediately. However, Melke and Bastian have come to an accord, and it looks like Bastian is going to live up to his part of the bargain.
I should be able to read a good chunk tonight.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Lisa graciously took the time to answer a few questions about MAGIC LOST, TROUBLE FOUND.
Can you give us a teaser about Raine's next big adventure?
Let's see. . .by the end of page three of Armed & Magical, Raine's already got big problems -- an assassination attempt on the archmagus, an encounter with an enemy from her past, and an entirely too public display of her Saghred-enhanced powers. Later. . .Tam has not one, but two, deep dark secrets from his past that he'd rather keep buried. Piaras is now a Conclave college student studying spellsinging, and that voice of his attracts way too much of the wrong kind of attention. Mychael has his hands full with Raine, and with trying to keep her from falling prey to the darkest side of the Saghred. Let the fun continue!
What is your favorite scene in MAGIC LOST, TROUBLE FOUND?
Mychael and Raine in Mychael's bedroom is definitely a favorite. I also had a lot of fun writing the scene at the goblin king's masquerade ball.
What scene gave you the most trouble?
The final confrontation between Raine and Sarad Nukpana in The Ruins near the end of the book. That took a lot of time and rewrites to finally get it right.
Can you recall any particular sources of inspiration for this novel?
I read in a lot of genres: fantasy, detective, romantic comedy, mystery, romantic thrillers, political thrillers. I think that over the years they all just sort of melded into MLTF.
Have you finished any other novels besides MAGIC LOST, TROUBLE FOUND?
Oh yeah. I have two finished books. Small pieces and parts of them made it into MLTF.
If so, can we expect to see any of them in print or are they permanently trunked?
They're in the closet in my office and that's where they belong. ; ) I consider them my 'practice books.'
Your website mentions that you have a day job. When do you do most of your writing?
Lunchtime, break time, nights and weekends. I keep a notepad in my pocketbook, Jeep, and pretty much every room in the house.
Do you have a copy of your cover pinned to your office wall at work?
On the wall isn't necessary. ; ) I have a huge monitor -- the MLTF cover is my wallpaper. I'm going to have a poster-size print made and have framed for my office at home. Aleta Rafton is the artist and she did such an amazing job -- that cover deserves to be 24 x 36.
Is your boss worried that you might leave?
I've assured them that I love my job and I'm not going anywhere anytime soon.
Please share your publishing story and/or any writerly advice that you may have.
My first two manuscripts were rejected by every publisher in New York. I kept writing, and reading, and rewriting, and learning -- and most importantly, I refused to be discouraged or to give up. I wrote every day, regardless of if my 'muse' was visiting or not. Muses are fickle creatures; don't depend on them for inspiration. Believe in yourself and don't let anyone belittle your dream. I was blessed to have the complete support and understanding of my husband and family. Believe me, it helps. Writing is solitary; the only way you're going to get to where you want to be is through discipline and determination. I've been told that I was just too stubborn to give up. ; )
Read, write, rewrite -- and don't give up!
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Lisa Shearin is the Janet Evanovich of fantasy.
She writes with a fun, unpretentious style, and she has mastered writing with humor. In many ways, this is better than Evanovich's Stepanie Plum series. As I said before, Raine is competent, whereas Stephanie bumbles her way through her adventures, surviving by luck and instinct rather than skill. The joke wears thin after a while. (At least on me -- since there are thirteen Stephanie Plum books out, then she obviously still appeals to a lot of people.) Raine is the type of girl who rescues dudes in distress. She comes up with daring plans. She kicks butt, but she's all girl.
There are some slight spoilers ahead.
The book opens with a character that is discarded after the first chapter or so. I kept expecting to run into him again, but I didn't. He is referred to both as Raine's sometime employee and as her partner. He basically kicked the story off and went off into obscurity. Will he turn up again in book two? Hard to say, since book two looks like it will take place elsewhere.
I thought her fear of drowning would lead to some horrifying drowning scene. Maybe that's coming in a later book.
Some wishes? I got to see lots of Mychael, but I wish I could have seen more of Tam. However, this book is rather short, as far as fantasies go, and it takes place over the course of only a few days. There was not a lot of time to develop any romance. Tam did get the most kissing time in. And he got the best kissing scene, hands down. He is definitely the more complicated character. It's hard to say if Raine is in love with either of them, which leaves open the possibility for some other guy to come along and totally sweep Raine off her feet.
And then there's the prince. I know I have not seen the last of him.
The book ended in a satisfying smart way. It was the kind of ending that I like. No magical brawls, which I find tedious. Just one character outsmarting another. It was not a cliffhanger, but it definitely points the reader squarely toward book two.
I can see myself rereading this book, because I think this is the sort of book that will present "nuances" to the reader upon rereading. And of course, I'll want to read it again when book 2 comes out.
And a HUGE thanks to Lisa Shearin for stopping by so often and making my very first review so much fun!
The sample chapters!
The blog! (I'm waiting for a link; I'll edit this when I get it)
Sunday, June 17, 2007
The winners of the Locus Awards have been announced. I have not read any of these, however the debut novel award, His Majesty's Dragon, by Naomi Novik interested me very much. Is anyone really surprised? I love the timeframe in which it takes place, because I am a huge Jane Austen fan. And I'm one of those types of people who researches history just for the fun of it. I also love the idea of a historical fantasy that "reimagines" historic events.
I'd like to open up this blog for (gulp!) critique. Of me. I tried to strike a balance of writing about the book without giving too much away. How did I do with my postings about MAGIC LOST, TROUBLE FOUND? Was I boring? Did I post too often? Not often enough? Did I take to !@#$ing long to read the book? Were my posts comprehensible? How can I improve?
Did I do anything right? Did you enjoy my posts? Did you want to go out and read the book?
I love debut books, and I'm not often disappointed by a debut novel that I think I will enjoy. MAGIC LOST, TROUBLE FOUND was no exception.
I have finished reading MAGIC LOST, TROUBLE FOUND. I won't give the ending away, of course, but it was in keeping with the rest of the book -- smart, satisfying and tense. There was a nice little epilogue, cleverly disguised as a final chapter, where Lisa propelled Raine on her next adventure and kept me in the dark about which guy Raine's going to go for.
I'm going to cogitate about it for a while before I post my final impressions. Expect another post on MLTF tonight.
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Oops; I forgot! The way that Raine met up with Mychael again was most fascinating and unexpected. And here I thought she was just going to go to sleep! It was a great way of imparting some necessary background information. Rather than just another conversation about what is going on, spice it up with some sexual tension and unexpected states of undress. Then it becomes anything but boring. Not that it would have been boring, but this made it even better.
I gave myself a breather at chapter 17.
As Lisa promised, I definitely got to see more of the Guardian, Mychael. Raine seems to like him. They're even on a first-name basis, now. However, the goblin Tam moved in for a kiss -- maybe he sensed competition. Raine wasn't exactly fighting him off, either. And what a naughty kiss it was, "topped off with just a nibble of fang . . ."
Raine is still capable of a blush (as is the Guardian), which I found an unexpected treat.
Lisa seems to be using something that I see a lot in mystery, but not so much in fantasy -- two fascinating leading men, with the leading lady attracted to both. How to choose; how to choose?
Raine and her two men have just extracted some information from a particularly nasty goblin, and Raine has learned a bit more about her family history. Quite a bit more. I sense action ahead.
I will post more later today.
Friday, June 15, 2007
I just started chapter thirteen. The intervening chapters were a whirlwind of action, with bad guys at every turn, not to mention monsters. For a while there I thought Raine was going to be a hostage, but she got herself out of that situation. Unfortunately, she ended up in a nasty place full of evil kings, mad sorcerers, scary fairies, horrific shadow-things and goblins everywhere.
The prince did something to creep Raine out, but I'm not sure if he's totally off the "hot guy" list.
In fact, here's a rundown of the hot guys encountered so far:
The Guardian. The only heroic one in the bunch. And I have to admit that I have a soft spot for heroes.
The Gambler. I have not seen much of him, but he has his charms as well.
The Prince. By far the most complicated. Appears to be a sympathetic villain. I could be deceived.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
I added KARMA GIRL to my review list. I already read the first chapter on Jennifer Estep's website, and it was great fun, but sad at the same time. I'll start teasing on it (since I don't really actually review, strictly speaking) as soon as I finish THIEF WITH NO SHADOW.
I am now looking for a debut book by a male author. Preferably with a male protagonist. If you stumble across one, please let me know.
I've found another debut to put in my queue. It's WICKED LOVELY by Melissa Marr. Her LiveJournal blog is here. I found it on Rachael Vater's blog.
It's a young adult novel, which I always enjoy, and the hook really intrigues me.
Long ago, I read that a good story plunges the hero against "almost insuperable odds". Shearin has mastered this advice. Her story may be light, but what Raine faces is not. It was a good dash of sobriety, yet still she maintains her lighthearted tone.
It reminded me of the First Crusade. During the First Crusade, the crusaders found this spear that grew to be a legend. It was said to be the spear that had pierced the side of Christ. The legend grew and the crusaders went absolutely bananas over it. Why? Study your history, because I don't want to give too much of the plot away. (I'll give you a hint. The spear was found in Antioch.)
Raine doesn't just have one enemy. Her enemies seem to be everyone who wants to find a similar artifact. But Shearin doesn't stop there. She raised the stakes by throwing in a good way of compelling Raine to help one of the artifact-seekers. And, she added a new mysterious man!
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
The title of this book so fits. Trouble Finder would be an apt nickname for Raine. She's just taken a decadent bath and she went out looking for trouble . . . and naturally, she found even more trouble than she expected.
I've just started Chapter Ten. Since Chapter Nine ended up as a cliffhanger, I didn't go to bed as I planned. And truth to tell, I'll probably take the book with me when I do.
Locus Magazine had an entry last week in their Monitor: New Books section about Jennifer Estep's Karma Girl, but it seems more like a paranormal romance, so it may be a bit out of my realm of expertise. The reason for my reluctance? Well, with Magic Lost, Trouble Found, I have enough of a background in fantasy to get a kick out of magical containment boxes and to appreciate the freshness of a sexy goblin. Were I to suddenly jump into paranormal romances, I would not have that sort of insight. However, it looks like a fun book, so I wanted to give it a mention.
Appearing on this week's entry is Lane Robins's Maledicte, a dark fantasy with a soul-selling protagonist.
I've been watching the Monitor section for several months now, and there is almost always a debut author listed in their weekly New Books section. In fact, I may be missing some, because last week's Monitor mentioned Magic Lost, Trouble Found, but did not identify Lisa Shearin as a debut novelist.
A hearty thanks to The Toasted Scimitar for adding me to their blogroll! And many thanks to Kristin for her nice little blurb about this site. Thanks, guys!
I've added a few boxes to the right, including a link to MLTF on Amazon so you can rush out and buy a copy. I also added links to book titles ("Filter Posts by Title") so you can jump straight to the reviews without enduring entries like this one.
I'm working on a better way to link to the Amazon site by clicking on the book's cover. Blogger doesn't seem to provide a way to do this so I'm going to have to brush out my HTML and make my own wigit. But time has been at a premium this week, so it will have to wait until the weekend.
Raine has some valuable contacts. I don't want to give anything away, but she knows people in all the right places. There is nothing wrong with making friends. She even does nice things for them. Gotta like that.
I've finally encountered one of the scoundrels from her past. And oops! I don't want to give that away, either. Suffice to say that he is intriguing.
I had a laugh-out-loud moment when a police-officer type called for a "containment box" to hold a suspicious magic item. How many D&D gamer types would have loved to had containment boxes when transporting dangerous artifacts? I know that Frodo would have loved to have one. Temptations from the One Ring? No problem! I've got this handy little box here in my Bag of Holding!
Of course Raine can't use one -- she has this TINY problem when she tries to take off the amulet (which is evident from the cover blurb, so I don't feel like I am giving anything away).
Still enjoying . . .
Monday, June 11, 2007
I love the way Chapter Six starts:
You know it's going to be a bad day when you can't get privacy inside your own head.
This is why I love first-person novels. You just can't get this sort of connectedness with a character when its written in third person. Besides, its impossible to head-hop when writing in first person.
Anyway, that first sentence is going to make it REALLY hard for me to put this book down and go to bed. Not that I'm complaining.
Chapter Five was meaty with information. I finally know how old Raine is. I hate it when authors refuse to give an exact age for their character. Raine discovers several nasty things about the amulet, which by now she is quite stuck with. And the hottie elf Guardian tried to cast a spell on her.
Oh, and did I mention that she kicked him in the nether regions when they first encountered each other? There's nothing like first impressions!
Sunday, June 10, 2007
I picked this book up for odd ten and twenty minute intervals throughout the day. New characters are popping up like daisies. There is this mysterious Guardian character who seems to be some sort of elven hottie who also happens to command a platoon of other Guardians. There his Raine's uncle and his student, who is a sort of kid-brother type to Raine.
She's also in touch with this elven intelligence network, which I find intriguing.
There's a lot of background information being fed to the reader at this point. I kind of wish the author chose to bring such info up as needed, because sometimes I find it a bit hard to keep up with. But since I haven't had a good stretch to read today (I have a young disabled daughter), that may be my own fault.
I'm already planning my next review. Emily Gee has written Thief with No Shadow, and it looks very good. I found her book on Locus Magazine's list of new books. Her website is interesting because it has a book trailer, and its the first example of a book trailer that I've ever seen. She also has a MySpace page.
I purchased Magic Lost, Trouble Found at Border's yesterday. I found it quite easily on the fantasy and science fiction shelves, with the spine turned out. There were three copies. I chose the pristine copy in the middle. (Not that it will remain that way.)
Were I the author, I would have been rather pleased with the cover art. It features a tall young woman with reddish-blond hair, a smug expression on her face, holding a sword that has its tip in the ground. The girl is not too pretty or sexy. You can tell by the cover that it is meant to be a fun read.
And the first chapters provide just that. I found that it took a few pages for the story to suck me in, but it did. Raine--the half-elven main character--is loyal and protective over her friends. She is concerned for society as a whole when she learns that a group of baddies wants this amulet. I detect a strong Janet Evanovich influence. I would be very surprised if the author had not read the Stephanie Plum series. However, Raine is no Stephanie Plum--she can handle some tough situations.
One thing that I absolutely got a kick out of was the sexy goblins. Who knew goblins could be sexy? Shearin's goblins are tall, thin and elf-like, except for the gray skin and the fangs. They apparently have this dangerous appeal, and so there are lots of half-goblins running around. In fact, I think it might have been fun to make Raine half-goblin, rather than half-elf.
Terms like "home security", "pays the rent on time", and "cooling my heels" pop up regularly. I am ambivalent about it. On the one hand, it gives the book a breezy voice. On the other hand, they jar me out of what is supposed to be a medieval fantasy. I can understand that it might have been awkward for the author to try to find medieval substitutes. However, J.V. Jones (wow! she has a weblog now!) succeeded quite humorously with Bodger and Grift.
I am on page thirty-five, almost at the end of the second chapter, and a new character has just arrived on the scene. (Like I said, I read slow.) I'll try to post every night.
Friday, June 8, 2007
Since Lisa Shearin has posted two chapters of Magic Lost, Trouble Found online, I thought I'd go ahead and get started. I don't have the book yet, so I can't give my initial impressions of the cover art and the jacket copy. I will do that when I have the book in my greedy hands.
If you want to read along, chapter one is here.
I'm having a bit of trouble with tags for the title of this book. Blogger keeps trying to split the title into two tags, because it contains a comma. Putting the title in quotes does not help. Therefore, I will have to tag the title of this book without a comma.
Thursday, June 7, 2007
For my first live review, I intend to purchase Magic Lost, Trouble Found by Lisa Shearin. I read about her book on Kristen Nelson's e-newsletter and it looks hilarious. However, I will not be able to buy it until this weekend.
I've been thinking about starting this site for quite a while.
Whenever I hear of a book by a debut author that zooms to the top of the bestseller charts, I take notice. After all, as a writer, it is my job to try to determine what made that book so successful. Here is a short list of book that I might not have otherwise read, had they not been wildly successful debuts:
Of these, I enjoyed (and continue to enjoy) Harry Potter the best. J. K. Rowling is a master storyteller and I learned a lot from her.
Oftentimes, when I go to the bookstore, I go specifically to find a debut book. Green Rider by Kristen Britain is one such book. Rhapsody by Elizabeth Haydon is another.
Since I read so many debut novels, I decided to start Fantasy Debut. Fantasy Debut is where I will post my reviews of debut books by fantasy authors. I will read books that meet the following qualifications:
1) It must be published by a major publisher. No small press, no POD, no E-books. There are plenty of other blogs that review such books. Since debut books fly off the presses every month, I don't have time for anything more. I don't even have time to review every debut book that is released every month. I've whittled this down to a nice niche that should keep me busy without overwhelming me.
2) It must be a fantasy novel. By "fantasy", I mean that if I were to go to a bookstore, I would most likely find it in the fantasy/science fiction section, or in the fantasy Young Adult section.
I have several reasons for this requirement. The key reason is that the first book you read in a genre tends to be the most memorable. The first modern fantasy series I ever read (back in the 80s) was Dragonlance (actually a series), which I think tends to get a bad rap these days. I have never forgotten Dragonlance, and for a few years it was the standard by which I judged other books in the genre. I have never read, say, a paranormal romance. Therefore, I would not be a good reviewer of such books. I am willing to stretch this to include light SF, but no hard SF. (I do enjoy hard SF, but I have not read enough of it to be a good reviewer.)
3) It must be an author's first book by a major publisher. By this I mean that this is the book that could get the author into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. It's ok if the author has published other small press or POD books.
These will not be typical reviews. I will take full advantage of blogging technology. In other words, I will blog on your book as I read it. I will make every effort not to give too much of the plot away. I do not read quickly, so expect it to take me about a week to read your book. I will make every attempt to finish it. If I am unable to finish your book and I set it aside, I will attempt to articulate why. I am not a paid reviewer and I will not continue to read books that are a chore for me to read. However, I very rarely set books aside so I don't expect this to happen much.
I will not mock your book. In having your first book published, you have made a significant achievement and I admire you for it. But, I will be truthful in what worked for me, what didn't work for me, and what I wish you had thought of.
Books I tend to like:
- Historical fantasy. I am a big Stephen Lawhead fan.
- Futuristic fantasy. I like blends of SF and fantasy.
- Mythological fantasy, especially with historical mythology.
- Different fantasy. I like new ideas.
- High fantasy. However, I tend to judge these a bit more harshly than others, since there is so much of this out there. Thinly disguised elves will earn frowns from me. If you have an elf or fairy in your story, I prefer if you just come out and say so.
- Christian fantasy. Miracles are good.
- Dark fantasy, with several caveats (see below).
- Vampire stories. I'm not interested in protagonists that have to devour humans or human blood. "Psionic" vampires might interest me, however.
- Stories about ultra-powerful characters. I like reading about humans.
- Deal-with-the-devil stories. However, I wouldn't mind reading such a book when the main protagonist is trying to save someone who made a deal with the devil.
- Blood and gore horror. Horror should have a supernatural element and should scare the hell out of me, not gross me out.
- Christian bashing, either overt or subtle. I'm no fundamentalist, but I don't like to see my beliefs trashed, either.