Friday, March 23, 2012

Review: Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire

Title: Discount Armageddon

Author: Seanan McGuire

Format: Paperback, 350 pages

Publication Date: March 6, 2012

What it's about:

Ghoulies. Ghosties. Long-legged beasties. Things that go bump in the night... The Price family has spent generations studying the monsters of the world, working to protect them from humanity-and humanity from them. Enter Verity Price. Despite being trained from birth as a cryptozoologist, she'd rather dance a tango than tangle with a demon, and is spending a year in Manhattan while she pursues her career in professional ballroom dance. Sounds pretty simple, right? It would be, if it weren't for the talking mice, the telepathic mathematicians, the asbestos supermodels, and the trained monster-hunter sent by the Price family's old enemies, the Covenant of St. George. When a Price girl meets a Covenant boy, high stakes, high heels, and a lot of collateral damage are almost guaranteed. To complicate matters further, local cryptids are disappearing, strange lizard-men are appearing in the sewers, and someone's spreading rumors about a dragon sleeping underneath the city... (via Goodreads)

Favorite quote: "The things I do to keep potentially extinct monsters from eating the human race, I swear."

My Thoughts:

Seanan McGuire will make you question if the things that go bump in the night could be your next door neighbors, your co-workers, or even friends in her latest book Discount Armageddon, part of her new Incryptid series.

Discount Armageddon focuses on Verity Price, a typical 20-something year old, who just happens to be a cryptozoologist, a ballroom dancer, and has a familial obligation as a member of the Price family to study the monsters who may just happen to be serving you lunch all while, as stated in the description above, working to protect them from humanity and humanity from them.

Not only did I immediately fall in love with this book, but I fell in love with the main character Verity Price. She is Buffy the Vampire Slayer for the next generation minus all the teen angst. Blonde girl bad-ass, who loves to dance, loves boys, loves shoes, she just happens to know how to get blood out of her clothing better than most. What is not to love? Not to say Verity doesn't have angst, after all she has to constantly try to protect her identity as a Price, so the society called the Covenant of St. George, which the Prices used to be members of but left because they discovered that not every cryptid in the world was senseless killer that needed to be exterminated, as the Covenant preached, so basically killing harmless creatures would make them just as bad as the cryptids who do kill, don't find her and exterminate her as well. She does all this while working at a strip club as a cocktail waitress and leading a double life as a ballroom dancer who has found moderate success after staring on a reality show called, Dance or Die. Sometimes a girl has to do what a girl has to do to live out her dream.

But, beyond the bad-ass main character, McGuire has created a rich, fantastically detailed world. I am envious of what goes on in this woman's head! One thing that I know some readers have claimed to struggle with in her books is the fact that the she uses a lot of exposition, however, I felt that all of the back story was relevent and actually served a good purpose, not to mention it seemed to flow seemlessly between what was happening situationally in the book and giving us enough detail to get a really good idea of what the world Verity lives in as a whole.....past and present. I personally enjoyed the descriptions of different types of cryptids and their purposes.

There is a bit of romance in the book, which I also thoroughly enjoyed. Dominic De Luca is the hot boy Verity has a run in with on night while she is patrolling the rooftops, and who just happens to be a member of the Covenant. All sorts of complications ensue. But, what I liked most about the romance is that it wasn't constantly in your face. You knew that Verity was the main focus of the story. And Verity didn't become a blithering idiot every time Dominic looked in her direction. In fact, she spends a good amount of time wondering if she should join him, kick his ass or kill him. Dominic never treats her as lesser either. From the beginning he respects her abilities even if he doesn't respect her philosophies or her reasoning.

Throughout the story we are introduced to several members of Verity's family, although we only really get to know her cousin by adoption, Sarah, who is a cryptid of the cuckoo variety and who just happens to possess telepathic abilities. We learn they all have some special talents and have been researching cryptids for generations. We also learn that Verity's grandmother spends most of her time spelunking in the Underworld trying to find her grandfather. With just the few glimpses we get of the family members McGuire introduces us to I can't wait for future books and stories to get more involved in the Price family.

Overall, this is a fun, fast-paced read. I have read all of Seanan McGuire's books, including the ones she writes under her pseudonym Mira Grant and I have to say that this is by far one of my favorites. I definitely urge you to give this series a go and to check out McGuire's website that has links to not only more adventures of the Price clan, but information about her other series, as well as links to her music and her LiveJournal account, to which she is a very active blogger, and other goodies. I tell you I have no idea how this woman gets any sleep!

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

2012 Reading Challenges-Witches and Witchcraft Reading Challenge

I made a bet with my boyfriend in regards to reading this year. Last year my goal was to read 50 books. I made it to 57. This year I decided not only to double my original goal, but go a little bit further. My goal is 104 books this year. Don't ask where the 104 came from...I have no idea! I thought to make my challenge a bit easier I would check out some of the book challenges floating around cyberspace.

The 2012 Witches and Witchcraft Reading Challenge hosted by Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf is the first challenged I have signed up for.

Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf

I am going for Crone level and am going to read 16 - 20 Witchy Books.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Review: A Perfect Blood by Kim Harrison

Title: A Perfect Blood

Author: Kim Harrison

Format: Hardcover, 438 pages

Publication Date: February 21, 2012

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Synopsis: Ritually murdered corpses are appearing across Cincinnati, terrifying amalgams of human and other. Pulled in to help investigate by the FIB, former witch turned day-walking demon Rachel Morgan soon realizes a horrifying truth--a would-be creator is determined to make his (or her) own demons. But it can't be done without Rachel's blood, in this latest blockbuster by a "New York Times"-bestselling author. (from Goodreads)

My Thoughts: I have been a fan of The Hollow series since the very beginning. This is the 10th book and while I can't honestly say I have loved all the books I found this particular book to be highly enjoyable. After 10 books a lot of series have a hard time keeping it fresh and there were a couple books in the middle of this particular series that I wasn't too keen on. Mostly because I was finding the books starting to be a bit repetitive and I felt it had lost some of the adventurous feel of the earlier books that I loved so much. But, much like her main character Rachel Morgan, Kim Harrison has really started to come full circle with these novels.

I felt as though this book was really about Rachel "growing up", so to speak, and accepting who she is. She is finally realizing she can't change what has happened to her, and in starting to accept her reality, I felt the character finally start to move forward, even while struggling with the perceived idea of her friends moving on without her. And, of course, being Rachel, she still does some really stupid stuff, which can be frustrating and make you want to smack her upside the head. But, in the end I was really happy with her continued character development and I have high hopes for Rachel.

(THIS PARAGRAPH CONTAINS A MINOR SPOILER!) I thoroughly enjoyed the further possibility of a love interest in Trent that has been spanning a few books now. I like that Harrison is giving it to us in small doses because it is nice to have that tension and it is something to look forward to. And come on! Who doesn't love a sexy, powerful, dangerous elf? But, beyond that, this is another element that is really coming full circle. Rachel is finally starting to trust Trent (although who can really blame her for not trusting him in the first place for all he has put her through) and not only are they starting to look like they may actually be able to carry on a romance, but they are also looking as if they could work as a work-related team.

I highly recommend this to any fan of The Hollows series. I would definitely recommend the Hollows series as a whole to anyone who hasn't read any of Harrison's books, but I would not start with this book if you are new to the series. There is just too much info and back story in the other books that you need to know for everything to make sense that definitely does not make this a stand alone novel. All in all this is a great book. It has good action. It has our sassy heroine once again getting herself into all kinds of trouble. It has some truly nasty villains. And, of course, it has the familiar cast of characters Rachel calls her friends and teammates, who I for one, know and love.

What I did find interesting though is Harrison has recently started that there are only going to probably be one or two more books in the series, however she introduces some elements in the story, which I will refrain from talking too much about since I don't want to give anything away, that seem like they are going to be an integral part in the future and I just am not sure how she is going to be able to wrap it all up in only a couple more books! I guess we will just have to wait and see.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Future Author To Look For: C.K. Garner

You have not yet heard of C.K. Garner. She is a new author. In the midst of writing her first novel, she decided to start work on a short story and achieved a very rare feat that most new writers can only aspire to....she had her very first submission for publication accepted. Her short story, Stealing Time, will be published in the next few months by Musa Publishing's Urania Division, which is their speculative Science Fiction & Fantasy imprint. I thought it would be fun to pick her brain and see what makes her tick because something tells me we will be hearing a lot from her in the future.

Tell us a bit about your short story, Stealing Time?

Acastu Atenai is a youth living the 1863 of San Atenai Bay, a fictional town the next cove up from San Francisco Bay. His ancestors, the Pieraomati, an ancient caste of pirates and thieves founded the town, becoming its first settlers, and finally its defenders. But Acastu's missing father was the last of those defenders, and now, Acastu is the last heir of the Pieraomati. In the mid-nineteenth century, technology is in its infancy. Steam power is king, Nikola Tesla is testing his Tesla Coil science, lines for cable cars are still being built, and land technology is superseded by experiments with air travel by dirigibles. San Atenai is home to the latest secret experiment; time travel. Acastu takes his little sister, who has a penchant for blood and boxing, to watch a friend box in a match on the wharves. The town is attacked Acastu, normally defended by his friends, must fight to save himself and his sister from impressment. Their efforts to escape land them in a Time Traveler Pod.

What motivated you to write this particular story?

When I was a young girl, I was fascinated with adventure tales. My nose was always in a book, and I read everything from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, to Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Louis Carrol's Adventures of Alice in Wonderland, anything by Madeline L'Engle, horror tales by Edgar Allen Poe, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Vern, H.G. Wells The Time Machine, Alexander Dumas' The Three Musketeers, The Legends of King Arthur, and so many others. But I was equally obsessed with real life adventurers such as Robert E. Peary's North Pole expedition, the tragedy of the Hindenburg, and the Wright brothers' invention of the airplane, which of course, led to Amelia Earhart as an early heroine, and a collection of material on western outlaw legends such as Jesse James robbing steam locomotives, and even legends from as far away as Australia's famous Ned Kelly, among others. My interest in writing a Steampunk novel is an inner push of all of these ideas and time-frames mixing up in my head. It all had to come out sometime, in some fashion. Pouring it all into a new adventure tale seemed like a good idea.

How long have you considered yourself a writer?

I've been writing since I was little. It's funny, I can't write a poem to save my life, but as early as first grade I was stepping outside the lines of the prescribed lessons; to wit: I was supposed to write a nice Easter story, and instead I wrote a short tale about a giant man-eating rabbit who lived in a cave and came out annually to dine on little children. Ha ha, that one got a letter home to my mother. Stealing Time is my first published story.

What motivated/inspired you to become a writer in the first place?

My friends have been telling me I should be a writer for as long as I can remember. They say I have tales in my head that should visit a page, and one even went as far as to say that if I shut my mouth it flows out from my brain to my hands. Nah, it's not an insult. It came from a person who is a dear friend, and she was making an observation of sorts; moreover it's true. Instead of saying what do you think about this idea I've had floating around in my head, I now write it out. One of my best friends told me to sit down and write a sentence to her. Just one sentence, and if it turned into more, that was okay, so, I tried it. End result? After a week of sentences and paragraphs, my writer's block broke (in the shower, of course) and I wound up sprinting for pen and paper in a towel, and still wet with water, filled ten sheets of paper, both sides, with the beginnings of a fantasy novel...and yes, it's still in the works. Writing for a living-- well that's the goal now. Lofty thing, that last.

Can you talk a little bit about your writing process? Is there any particular thing you do that helps you focus? Any particular rituals? Do you do any sort of research, etc.?

Hmm, well as far as how I do it, I have to say I'm a seat of my pantser. That is, rather than have an outline, I plop myself in front of the computer, pull up screen and blank document, or continuation of a WIP (work in progress) and stay there until I write something. I've been known to write, effity, effing eff! when nothing else comes to mind. Point is, I stay there until I've got something. I play 'what if' in my head, or actually write a what if onto the page, even if it doesn't pertain to my story, it will eventually lead to something juicy, and I can use what I've written that doesn't relate to the WIP in another project later on. I did, however, have to stop on a longer project, that fantasy novel I mentioned earlier, yeah, that one, because I am juggling so many characters, events, religions, and subplots, it got away from me. As a writer, you are in control, and if the plane feels like it's going to crash land, well, bring her in ahead of time. Set it down for a while until you can sort out what isn't jiving. You can even work on something else for a while, which is how I began Stealing Time. The thing is to always be writing something.

What are your major literary influences?

As far as literary and other influences, well, as I mentioned earlier, adventure novels were always around, but I also delved into my father's collection of paperback science fiction novels, names such as Poul Anderson, Isaac Asimov, Marion Zimmer Bradley, JRR Tolkien were pilfered daily from his bookshelves. Later teen years and my adult choices lean toward darker climes. I adore Kim Harrison's Hollows series, anything by Seanan McGuire, Laurel K Hamilton's earlier books, Stephen King, Cherie Priest, speculation about Jack the Ripper, and don't get me started on movies! Hammer Horrors top my list of fun things to watch on a lazy rainy day. And did I mention Harry Potter? How about the entire series of Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars, and Logan's Run. See, I told you not to get me started on movies.

What do you find toughest about the writing process? How do you handle criticism?

Well, I think the hardest part of writing is when you get stuck. That's when Stephen King's "what if" game comes into play. The second hardest for me is the mountain of editing required, and that's where handling criticism well comes into play. Yet another quote from Stephen King, who may have got it from someone else, "Kill your Darlings." That means that however precious a sentence, paragraph, or scene is to you, it might not be so great to your Beta readers, friends, or editors. These early editing folk represent actual readers, i.e. your future audience, so listen to what they have to say, and "kill those darlings," even if it hurts you to see them go. Your story will be tighter for chopping out the unnecessary things, and your editor will thank you for being so cooperative a word slayer.

What advice would you give to other new, aspiring writers out there? Gosh, the best advice I can give to a new writer would be to just do it. No matter what anyone says, you know what you want and who you are. If you are driven to write, whatever it is, let nothing stop you. You can make time for people, but you must designate a time to write. It is a one person prospect getting the ideas from your head to the hand and onto the page. Give yourself the space in which to be alone and do it. Everyone else will still be there ten minutes, thirty minutes, an hour later. Sit your butt down in the chair and don't move until you've got something on that page, even if it's just, "Eff me, I cannot write a sentence!" At least you will have written something. There is also the what if game, ala Stephen King: Just take any situation; say you are looking out the window and you see a lady walking her dog; give the dog wings, have the dog get loose and run after a cat, have an old man meet her at a park bench...they are both cheating on their spouses, you know...everybody says so. See, that's how “what if” mode works. Try it, you'll be spinning tales in no time now, if you want to become a published author, here's a great piece of advice given to me by Batton Lash, the writer of the Comic Book series Supernatural Law, Batton:"Do you know the difference between a Writer an an Author, CK?" CK: "Please!" Batton:"The Author never quits."

Where can readers find you if they want to learn more about your and your writings?

My story is still in the midst of the publishing process, in the works right now at Musa Publishing's Urania Sci-Fi & Spec-Fi imprint. You can read my Author's Blog: and find me on Facebook under CKGarner.

I will update you on C.K.'s progress once her story gets published. In the meantime...happy reading!!