Monday, May 24, 2010

Dear Keri Arthur:

A Fan Letter
I seriously cannot wait for Moon Sworn tomorrow. You are officially my current favorite author-- I've torn through all the Riley Jenson books up until this point, haunting the bookstores for back issues, losing sleep, dreaming of strange beings and super powers, missing bus stops*, and accidentally buying duplicate copies of titles.

You've got me all shook up, Ms. Arthur, and it's rare that an author steps outside the bounds of my reading time to occupy my thoughts during random "real life" moments. Riley has the perfect character balance between "special, outrageous, extraordinary" and the everywoman, relate-able quality. Yes, I know that's contradictory. That's why it's so hard to do, and so rare to find.

I'm also a sucker for well-done folklore and mythology. Of course, by "well-done" I mean, "done in a way that I particularly-- and completely subjectively-- really like." I like the way you combine legends that I know a bit about with the more obscure ones-- you've got everything from ghosts and vampires, to judeo-christian-esque demons and that cat thing, whattaya call it, bakeneko . Not to mention a lovely, series-wide sub-theme about power and how it plays out in different times, different populations, and with different paranormal twists. It's done with both familiarity and respect to tradition as well as ingenious originality. I know, contradictory again.

And the thing is, I'm first and foremost a romance fan. And these aren't really romances. But the series-long romantic arc is so enjoyable. I love the way you separate sex and love for your characters -- they are related of course, but they're NOT the same, and I love that your characters don't fall prey to the Magic Hoo-Hoo/Curse of the Bad Wang** syndrome. I haven't read Moon Sworn yet (not on the lucky review copy list) but I can say that I was STUNNED by the series romance plot turn in Bound by Shadows and cannot wait to see how you resolve Riley's conundrum. Treated as a whole-- assuming that Moon Sworn delivers (and word is, it does) -- the series is a wonderful romance.

Thanks much to Kassa for the idea of the awesome Author Fan Letter Crawl. I chose Keri Arthur for two reasons -- one, Moon Sworn is my MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK in more than a year; and two, I can't really write a review, because I really do try for at least a little objectivity in my reviews... and I can't be objective when I'm MADLY IN LOVE with an author.

So in conclusion,

Keri Arthur, I am MADLY IN LOVE with you and-- thank you so much for providing so many hours of superior entertainment. Your work is fabulous and amazing and sets a bar to which other UF writers should aspire.

Love,

Nicola O.


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*not literally true -- but close; very close.
**The Smart Bitches develop this concept more in their book, but essentially it's the idea that the heroine is physiologically incapable of having really good sex unless it's with the Hero of the story, ergo, any sex that the heroine may have had prior to meeting said Hero must suffer from Bad Wang.


Please visit Althea tomorrow for the next letter in the crawl. If you missed Stacy's yesterday, head on over to her tribute to Shiloh Walker. And please stop by Kassa's place to get the complete list of participants and to thank her for having such a great idea.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I Really Hate It When

...bloggers post non-posts about how much they suck and how they are so sorry and life got in the way and blah blah blah.

Is there anything more boring?

I'm sorry. I suck. Life is getting in the way, a little bit.

I will get the carnival up in the next couple of days and hopefully I can get my mind on a couple of the Arthurian posts that I wanted to do shortly thereafter.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Bookworm Carnival Update

I'd like to post the carnival/round-up on Wednesday evening, so you still have time to put up a post if you'd like to participate.

You can send me a link to something you've already written, or if you'd like to post something new for the occasion, that works too. If you'd like an idea-starter, the discussion question that I'm throwing out is this: do you prefer the more fantastical versions of the story, or the more realistic? What role does Merlin play in your favorite version?

New deadline is noon-ish on Wednesday. Looking forward to seeing what you've got! Email me: nicola327 AT hotmail DOT com.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Thursday Thirteen, Edition 19 - Arthurian Style

The Collection
I have a shelf dedicated to Arthurian fiction. I didn't start out intending to collect the books, it just sort of happened that way. I've kept most of the ones that have come into my possession, even some that weren't particularly remarkable.

In addition to novel-style treatments of the legend, I have a few semi-academic references and a book on armor and arms, with illustrations.

Eventually, the collection bled into related legends, like Gawain and the Green Knight, and Tristan and Isolde... then further out into general Celtic mythology; books on Dierdre of the Sorrows and Bran and Brian Boru and some wonderful stuff by Morgan Llewellan.

This is a somewhat random assortment of books that are actually on my shelf at the moment, mostly novels. (Before you read on, I must warn you that looking these up on Amazon can be highly dangerous; I was checking some titles and the "people who looked at these also liked..." links are pure evil. I saw at least 3 titles that made me go OOOOOO at mere glance. Consider yourself warned!)

THE THIRTEEN

1. The Once and Future King – TH White
2. The Crystal Cave – Mary Stewart
3. Idylls of the King – Tennyson
4. Firelord - Parke Godwin
5. The Road to Avalon, Joan Wolf
6. Child of the Northern Spring; Queen of the Summer Stars; and Legend in Autumn - Persia Woolley
7. Mists of Avalon – Marion Zimmer Bradley
8. The Winter King; Enemy of God; and Excalibur - Bernard Cornwell
9. The Pendragon – Catherine Christian
10. Merlin - Steven Lawhead (there are at least 5 books in his Pendragon cycle, not sure why I only have the one!)
11. Guenevere: Queen of the Summer Country; Knight of the Sacred Lake; and Child of the Holy Grail - Rosalind Miles
12. The Child Queen; The High Queen; Queen of Camelot - Nancy Mackenzie
13. The Fionavar Tapestry—Guy Gavriel Kay

Keep an eye out early next week for the Bookworm Carnival post that will bring it all together!

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Monday, May 3, 2010

Marked, by Elisabeth Naughton - Review

Series Premier
Marked by Elisabeth Naughton is the beginning of Naughton's new "Eternal Guardian" series and the April installment of Dorchester's Publisher's Pledge book.

OK, there were a couple things that really bugged me about this story, so let me just get them out of the way.

1. Theron (the hero) resembles Wrath from Dark Lover so, so much-- it bugged. There were other similarities as well - like the bar where Casey works and Theron first shows up is called "XScreams," while one of the main hangouts for the BDB is "Screamers." I have this problem where I am frequently comparing all paranormal Dude-Group series to JR Ward's, and sadly the comparees often fall short.

2. The extensive liberties that the author took with traditional Greek mythology bugged me too. There was a time when I was really into Greek and Roman mythology, and while I'm certainly no expert, I wasn't crazy about the artistic license here. (But then, I didn't like that Disney gave Hercules a girlfriend, either).

Now, either of those things might be elements that other readers really liked or maybe didn't even notice, so they definitely fall into the realm of personal peeves versus a failure of skill.

Onward and Upward
On the plus side, Naughton creates an absorbing paranormal world of alternate dimensions, bickering political deities, and a growing evil threat. This first book introduces the various factions involved - the Argonauts, the daemons, and the half-breeds. The heroine is at the center of a prophecy, and its resolution in this book is a distinct stage-setter for the rest of the series.

This story weaves together several plotlines with nary a loose end, and the well-drawn secondary characters add to the enjoyment. Altogether a densely plotted, fast-paced and vividly imagined tale.

The Romance
Theron's conflict is a fairly typical romance trope: duty and honor preclude him from acting on his feelings for Casey. The twist? She's not exactly destined for another -- she is supposed to die*.

I'm not sure how I feel about this. I mean, it's one thing for a loyal soldier to offer up the woman he loves to another man, especially if it's a man the hero is loyal to. But knowing that she's supposed to die, sacrificed to their cause? Worthy though it is (salvation of the human race, etc. etc.) ? I couldn't exactly condemn him for following through on his duty, but it did give me some pause.

Otherwise, there's good chemistry between the two; the love scenes are steamy enough to take off wallpaper, and the HEA ought to elicit a satisfied sigh or two.

All in all, an entirely competent entry in the Paranormal Dude-Group Saves The World romance subgenre, and a risk-free one too, as part of Dorchester's money-back guarantee on their Publisher's Pledge books. Watch for Entwined, coming out July 27 of this year.


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*there's a loophole, of course. But then you knew that, because it's a romance!

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