The Poison Eaters

I gave Holly Black another chance. This time, I didn’t read one of her novels, but a compilation of some short stories. The Poison Eaters and Other Stories includes twelve short stories, with subject matter that runs the gamut. Vampires, werewolves, faery, devils, elves, and other magical beings are just a few of the characters contained in these pages.

I believe my favorite story is Paper Cuts Scissors. It is about Justin, a young man who is trying desperately to get his girlfriend back after she has folded herself up and put herself in a Russian novel. He begins studying for a library science degree and finally gets a job organizing books in a man’s private library. After midnight each evening, characters come out of the book and have a party, hosted by the librarian. Justin returns one night with his girlfriend’s book, and watches as she comes out of the pages, meeting other characters and jumping into other books. But maybe she doesn’t really want out of the books after all.

Most of the stories here were very raw, dark tales. Many included sex, drugs, and alcohol. I can’t deny that that the author’s writing was excellent, but I can definitely prefer other types of characters and stories. It seemed like many stories were about very trashy people. That’s fine, it’s definitely real life, but that is not the only way to go, either.

So, basically, while I overall enjoyed this short story collection, I still haven’t made up my mind about this author. She’s a very talented writer, that can’t be denied. I have read about some of her newer books, and the story lines look very interesting, so it’s still possible that I will read more of her work in the future.

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Immortal Beloved

Immortal Beloved, by Cate Tiernan is the first novel in a trilogy. It is (of course) another YA paranormal fantasy series.

Nastasya, or Nasty, is 449 years old, one of the immortals. In an effort to distance herself from the emotional pain of her past, she doesn’t let anyone get too close. She’s constructed a hard shell around herself, and she’s been living the party girl lifestyle for the past hundred years. Part of being an immortal is possessing magick. One of her partying friends using that magick in front of Nastasya for something terrible and she finally has a wake-up call. She doesn’t want to be dark anymore.

She has a memory of another immortal, River, from 80 years ago, who offered to help her. Not knowing what else to do, Nasty seeks her out. It turns out that River runs a sort of rehab facility for wayward immortals. There, she meets the stunningly gorgeous Reyn, (pronounced like “rain”), and feels oddly connected to him in some way. As the teachers at River’s Edge help Nasty to learn about herself and her magick, memories of her past sneak back into her mind, forcing her to evaluate where and who she has been, and who she now is. She slowly uncovers more about her legacy and past lives, including many terrible times she has gone through. Strangely enough, she sees Reyn’s face in one of her horrible memories. Nasty has finally found a place where she wants to belong, but is unsure if she can get past the strange and terrible way that she and Reyn are linked together. She is also unsure if she will be able to stay away from him.

I definitely enjoyed this book more than the last one I read, and I liked how the author left quite a few unanswered questions and mysteries that make me want to keep reading Nasty’s story. I enjoyed the magick elements, but they were not overpowering. I did have a bit of trouble getting through the first couple chapters. I didn’t like Nasty’s character at all, until she finally made a decision to try to be better than what she had been. The main complaint I have is that while Nasty is supposed to be hundreds of years old, she still spoke like a teenager. “Like, I looked at him, and like, thought….” It was a bit off-putting. Still, I’m eager for the next book, (to be released January 2012) to see what happens next, and whether Nasty continues in her new course of life.

Tithe

Since I’m a fan of young adult paranormal romance, I thought I’d give author Holly Black a try. I’d read some good things about The Modern Faerie Tales, so I decided that I’d read Tithe, the first of these books, and the author’s first book.

Kaye Fierch is a sixteen year old misfit. Her mother, a talented but unsuccessful musician, drags her from city to city. Finally, they end up in New Jersey, living with Kaye’s grandmother. Kaye and her friends smoke, drink, curse, and hint at being sexually active. She says she is Japanese, but has blond hair. She doesn’t go to high school, she shoplifts, and her best friend lives in a trailer park. She is hardly the expected heroine of a good adventure and love story.

Still, she captures the attention of Roiben, a knight of the Unseelie Court, when she saves his life. Unfortunately, she also has the attention of the Unseelie Queen, who wants to use her as a blood sacrifice, or the tithe, that will bind the solitary fey to the Unseelie Court for the next seven years. The solitary fey have other ideas though, and want to use Kaye for their own purposes.

This book was definitely a darker faerie tale than other books I’ve read. The beginning of the book was so irritating that I almost had to stop reading it, but towards the end, it did have some redeeming qualities. In some places, the writing was a bit unclear and difficult to follow. And I really didn’t like Kaye. She was not the type of person I thought deserved a sexy faery knight. I found her a bit disgusting, amoral, trashy, skanky…

Anyway, while I do not have a high opinion of this book, I might try Holly Black again. (When I got Tithe from the library, I also picked up two more books by this author.)

Finally Finished!

I’ve finally finished the rough draft of my novel. (Actually I finished it over a week ago, but due to work, etc., I’ve been a bit too busy to write this post.) It began as a NaNoWriMo project last year, and I made the 50,000 word goal to be considered a winner. However, November 30th was the last day I looked at it….until about three weeks ago. All I had to do was add a few closing chapters to tie up the ends. The rough draft is complete, coming in at about 57,000 words. All it took me was six weeks! Over a stretch of about 10 months….

But I’m quite thrilled with this small accomplishment. Yes, I know the book is pretty much crap, but that’s why it’s called a rough draft! But it is complete in that it has character development and a plot. It needs more work, of course. But as the only person who has read most of it so far has said, “It’s better than some of the crap that’s published.” And I guess that maybe that’s true. It still doesn’t mean I’m sending out query letters though. Just yet. Maybe eventually? Or maybe when I write something better? After all, this is my first novel. I could consider it practice.

Anyway…. The working title is Queens of Winter. I’m not thrilled with this title, but until something better comes along, I’m going to stick with it. As you can probably guess, it’s a young adult fantasy novel. More specifically, a faery novel.

Reagan is looking forward to the summer before her senior year. As a talented dancer, she has been accepted into a summer arts program, along with her best friend Gabe, who is a talented pianist. Finally, she feels as if she is where she belongs. But when she meets one of her dance instructors, Kai, she is immediately attracted to his ethereal grace and captivating dark good looks. All is not as it seems, though. Reagan is really a half-human, half-fey. She is a true faery princess. Her relationship with Kai progresses, but can she trust him? Especially when she discovers that his motive in getting close to her has all been an assignment? Her feelings for him cause her to be led into the dangerous Unseelie Court, where she must discover who she really is if she wants to save herself, and Kai as well.

A Discovery of Witches

A Discovery of Witches, by Deborah Harkness, is the first book in the All Souls Trilogy. Written by a professor of history, aspects of the book have obviously been thoroughly researched. There is so much detail that it is impossible not to have an astonishing visual image of the times and places mentioned. Also, it’s another book for book lovers, too, (reminding me a bit of The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova in this sense).

However, amid all the wonderful history, alchemy, and scientific research, there is also a love story, a timeless conflict promising to result in war, secrets of the main character’s power that others want to harness for their own benefit.

Diana Bishop, descended from powerful witches, lost both of her parents when she was seven years old. Since then, she has wanted to forget about witchcraft and has been intent on living her life without using her powers. In the midst of her research, she calls up a manuscript from “the stacks” that has been missing for a very long time. Upon getting her hands on Ashmole 782, she can feel the magic within the book. So she promptly takes her notes and sends the book back. But now that she has been able to recall this manuscript, she has attracted the attention of creatures, all intent on having the book for themselves. Other creatures, such as witches, vampires, and daemons.

Matthew Clairmont is one such creature. The vampire is immediately drawn to Diana and has an overwhelming desire to protect her from those who would harm her. Their suspicion of each other eventually turns to trust and to love. However, to love another creature unlike yourself is forbidden by the covenant made by the Congregation, a governing body made up of three of each creature, so many years ago. But Matthew and Diana don’t care. They refuse to allow others to dictate who they can love. Of course, this creates a world of other problems as well.

The romance between Matthew and Diana is intense, like a slow burning flame. There is quite a bit of sexual tension as well, which is still present at the end of the book. However, things are happening very quickly, and they’ve only known each other for a little over a month.

I enjoyed this book very much. It did have a bit of a slow start, but that part of the book was just introducing Diana and showing her “normal” day-to-day life, too. After Matthew was introduced, the pace did pick up quite a bit. I have read a few bad reviews of this book, and I believe those stem from the slow, meandering, very detailed pace. So for those who want to rush through life and not take time to enjoy the finer things, this book is not for you. But if you enjoy slow burning romance and appreciation of history, good wine, and of course, books, you should definitely read this book. The only complaint I have is that the next book is not yet published and I have to wait to find out what happens next.

Versatile Blogger Award

Somehow I’ve been nominated for the “Versatile Blogger Award.” Megan, over at verynormal nominated me. Thanks Megan!!

The rules:

1. Thank and link the person who nominated you.

2. Share seven random facts about yourself.

3. Pass this award on to 15 blogging friends.

4. Contact and congratulate the awarded bloggers.

Okay, so number one has been done. On to facts about myself:

1. I have two cats, Albus and Minerva. Albus has long white hair and big blue eyes. His sister, Minerva, has short gray hair and yellow eyes.

2. I am currently a pharmacy manager, with my pharmacy filling about 2,000 prescriptions per week. Sometimes, the only way I can get through work each day is to tell myself that it is only temporary.

3. I was vegan for about 12 weeks. But now, I’m back to eating meat, dairy, and eggs. It would be easy for me to be vegetarian since I don’t eat much meat anyway.

4. I love tea. Coffee is nice, too, but tea just has so much versatility. I can’t even count the flavors and varieties I have right now.

5. I absolutely love the YA fantasy genre. (That’s probably pretty obvious from my book reviews.) Some people might think I’m a bit too old for these books, but the subject matter and the depth that can be found in this genre just continues to grow. And I love the stories.

6. I have no memories of my parents being married. I look at this as a blessing in disguise, though, since I’m now blessed to have two families, each with a step parent. Also, I have five younger siblings.

7. I crochet. My current projects are a baby afghan (yarn) and a table runner (thread).

Now the hard part….I’m supposed to pass this award on to 15 blogging friends. I really don’t have any! There are some blogs I read, but the majority of them are authors. And I’m not going to be a weird internet stalker and give them this kind of virtual award. Now, my sister-in-law used to have a blog, but that’s past tense, so I guess she’s out too. So here are really the only blogs I can think of:

Rebekah Loper at blackanddarknight. I stumbled upon her blog one day and really enjoyed what she had to say, so now I’m a subscriber. She’s another writer, aspiring to be published, (like me), and I like to read about her thoughts on writing as well as the different worlds and characters she has created.

themisanthropologist There are definitely some interesting posts here. Also, we traded some comments about GRRM’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. And a subscriber to my blog.

Sandy M. at Bibliophage’s Buffet. She is also an avid reader (as is obvious from the title of her blog), and posts some great book reviews.

Well, I know that’s not 15, but that’s going to have to do…

Divergent

I’ve just discovered an amazing new author. Veronica Roth’s debut novel, Divergent, is the first in an amazing new dystopian series. A trilogy, I think. I first learned about this book through a comment on Facebook, which basically stated that those who enjoyed The Hunger Games, would probably enjoy this as well. And that holds true!

Beatrice “Tris” Prior lives in a dystopian Chicago, complete with crumbling ancient brick buildings, a dried up lake that is now considered a marsh, and roads that have long ago fallen into disrepair. She has reached her sixteenth birthday, an age that signifies the beginning of the rest of her life. She is forced to choose between her family and what she might want for her future.

There are five factions, each of which value a specific virtue: Candor, Abnegation, Dauntless, Amity, and Erudite. Tris chooses to leave her Abnegation family and embarks on an adventure to be a brave and courageous Dauntless. But she is not really Dauntless or Abnegation, or any of the other factions. She is different. She is Divergent.

She has been warned that if anyone finds out about her flaw, it would mean her death. There are those seeking to control and lusting for power. Those with the ability to think for themselves and in unique ways pose a danger, a threat that those aspiring leaders will do anything to eliminate.

And then there is Four, a Dauntless who is in charge of training of the faction-transfers. Of course there is a love story here. And it was paced realistically. No immediate kissing or declaring of feelings. Much confusion and discovery. Definitely believable.

The next installment comes out in May 2012. Until then, I’ll have to find other great books to keep me busy.

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