Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa

A wonderful thing has happened: The Iron Queen is out three weeks earlier than originally posted, at least in the U.S.  International fans should check your local sites and stores to see if you can get your hot little hands on the book now, too.  Go on.  We'll wait.

If you're already a fan, what you need to know is that this book is even better than the last.  I'm trying to think of what I can tell you without giving spoilers, and I think I'm going to have to settle for my own reaction...I had to start dinner when I reached the climax, and I was so engrossed in the story that I took carrots, the peeler, and a little bag into the room with the computer (ah, the joys of e-reading).  I just barely spared enough attention away from the book to make sure I didn't accidentally peel my fingers!

Normally, I wouldn't post the trailer, but it does a good job of introducing Meghan, summing each book up shortly without giving too much a way, and doing it with lovely graphics.

I love...
1. The world-building.  Kagawa's version of the Nevernever is memorable, both conforming to faerie lore that long time fantasy fans will find familiar but also breaking new ground.  The Iron Fey themselves come (in)organically from the dreams of humans in the age(s) of technology in a way that makes one think, "Huh, how'd I miss that?"  Good, good stuff.

2. The only thing Meghan Chase and I have in common is gender, and yet I spent close to no time thinking of that at all.  There were a few moments of resistance when I had to remind myself that I was judging her choices from my own experience (and with a son her age, that's considerable) rather accepting her youth.  But for the most part, I tagged along in her adventure joyfully.

3. Meghan Chase herself.  The more-obnoxious-than-the-last heroine doesn't seem to as big a problem in Young Adult Urban Fantasy as it is in adult UF, but the genre does have more than its fair share of I-don't-think-I'm-pretty-but-the-hot-guys-love-me Mary Sue characters.  Meghan isn't one of them.  She's a girl who doesn't have it so easy, even before her world takes a turn for the weird, but she's full of heart and she tries.  More importantly, over the course of the books, she grows.

...And if you don't want to try the series out because of all that, there are, of course, hot guys.

The Iron King (Harlequin Teen)          The Iron Daughter (Harlequin Teen)          The Iron Queen (Harlequin Teen)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

From beneath you, it devours...

Maybe the title is a bit dramatic; the First Evil is not coming for me (10 pts for anyone who immediately recognized the reference).  But the first day of the next semester is fast approaching and I'm looking at everything I don't have done.  And my husband is the literary version of my brother's puppy.

I'd seen pictures, but unlike my dad and husband, I'm not a dog person.  I haven't taken trips to my brother's house just to visit his pup.  Then last weekend, my brother took his family out of town and got my husband to agree to dog-sit.  This juvenile Great Dane is already bigger than the full grown Dobermans I grew up with, but with all the energy of a little yappy dog.  Since he's crate trained, we were able to go out around his schedule, but the rest of our weekend was punctuated by, "Humans! I love you, you love me? Wanna play? I wanna play! Can I sniff your butt?  Sit on your lap? Chew your house shoes? Playplayplayplayplayplay!"

Having put aside all that I'm working on to read the first half of his unfinished manuscript, I still had to go to bed last night/this morning (I've gotta work on my sleep schedule) to "I introduced a new character! Wanna read it?  This who he is and what he does and how I introduced him. Do you like him? Wanna read it now? Whatcha think?!" Only to sleep in late and wake up to, "You gotta read my new scene! Here's who's in, this is what they said, this is what it's leading to. Wanna read it? Whatcha think? Is it OK? Why aren't you reading it?!"

On the upside, my husband doesn't smell like a dog and I don't have to take him for walks in the snow.  On the downside, my brother took the crate with him when he picked his pup up.

Meanwhile, I've got to work on my own projects because, once classes start, who knows when I'll be able to sneak in the time?

Oh, but I can't go without mentioning that I was guest blogger for J.A. Campbell's Tea Time.  All mentioned!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

So far beyond OMG!

I always try to blog in a way that will be understandable to people who don't know the first thing about me, but let's be real: most of you lovelies who visit A Writer's Block know me from somewhere, if only a forum online.  You know that I'm pretty down to earth, generally friendly, and not too over the top.  You'd have never guessed how I'd be a total gibbering idiot in front of (but mostly, thankfully, behind the back of) one of my favorite authors.

OMG!OMG!OMG! O. M. Friggin'. G.  I had dinner with Kelley Armstrong!

Note that I've been a sci-fi/fantasy fangirl since I was too young to know what fandom was.  And I was an officer in the sci-fi/fantasy club my first go 'round in college.  But I'd never been to a convention.  Note also that, while I'm not particularly impressed by "special people" (as I said to my friend today, "How impressive can they be when I know they poop, too?  They're only human.") I am a little starry eyed about my favorite authors.  A little.  I thought.

Then I got all late-registered for my first con ever, and my husband and I slipped into my first panel: Introduction to Kelley Armstrong.  I thought, "She's so much prettier than her photo!"  (She's very cute in her photos, but more than cute in person.)  Then I focused, cuz I can do that.  Unfortunately, I didn't think to take notes until after she mentioned an anthology, Blood Lite, that I had never heard of.  What I can tell fellow fans who have been anxiously awaiting any sort of development on a series based movie--it's off.  What may or may not be on is a TV series pilot.  Space TV green lighted the project, but after the whole movie thing, she's not holding her breath.

If, like me, you've got all the books but Counterfeit Magic (OK, OK, I don't have Men of the Otherworld either, but I read most of the stories so it was easy to put off) because you won't pay $40 to $100, rejoice!  If you don't hate ebooks, at least.  The Kindle edition is out now for $4.99. 

I'm not going to list her favorite authors, and that's the end of my notes, so back to my geekdom!  After the panel, we followed her out and introduced ourselves.  Or at least, I meant to introduce myself.  What I actually did was hold up my badge and explain (perhaps in spasms, I'm not sure) that I am An, Avangyline, Angela who moderates her writing forum so she may remember telling me to do stuff sometimes.

She very kindly did not respond as though I were the lunatic I present myself as.  And she asked if we wanted to meet for coffee.  Now, I was expecting coffee...Bea had contacted her in advance and then contacted me. But Kelley Armstrong asked me to go for coffee!  I gracelessly got out of the way of other fans and the husband and I went in search of Bea, then in search of the next panel.  Sure, I'd finally gotten my butt to my first con because it's in my city and Kelley would be there, but it was shear coincidence that she was a part of the next panel (Vampires,Gender, and Sexuality--Oh, My!), but good because Bea was able to confirm for coffee while I stood there like a nut...a silent, star-struck nut.  

We had lunch, hung out more since there was no room at one panel we wanted to attend, staying in place so we could catch seats the next, Fail! (about, of course, Racefail--linked for Bea's benefit)...and then it was time.

I called on all my years of theatre training to only be a little bizarre.  We made it through dinner, and talked about Kelley's books, books in general, my own writing (she scolded me; *squee*) and my husband's...yah know.  Stuff.  Then dinner was over, we took a coupla pix, talked some more, and said our good-byes.  And when Kelley was out of sight, I geeked out so hard that I looked like a giant 12 year old freakin' out over Justin Bieber.  

And I am only a tiny bit sad for my lost dignity because that, my friends, was so far beyond OMG.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Drunken New Year's Musing

I love urban fantasy because it makes anything possible right here, right now.  I realized this as my husband and I walked home from my cousin's house.  We paused to speak to a gorgeous woman who could have been Eshu (harkening back to my White Wolf days [and look, totally sauced, I still found yahs a link]--think African storytelling fae) and sidhe/shee by the look of her, or Eshu and pooka, by my desire to have at least one good pooka showing up at any time.  The dark woods nearby most certainly held sluagh (or an urban gang of young werewolves for those not following me and my love for fae).  Near the bottom of my hill is a house that can't decide if it's a Cape or a Tudor, and there is most certainly something magical going on within.  Two houses up from that is a brick Victorian that has definite opinions about its new occupants, though it hasn't shared them with me.

Considering all this I thought, "And any black car that passes might be a horse in its natural form."  Sure enough, a black car slowly rolled down the street.

There was a world of mythic possibility just avoiding ice patches a few blocks on the way home from a party. I like to see that world reflected in what I read.