Sunday, February 28, 2010

Laughter Reviews - Keeper: IMPROPER RELATIONS

Janet Mullany

Historical Romantic Comedy

Little Black Dress, 2010

Regency 'He Said / She Said' love story.

Cover: Title - Can be applied to content on several levels = well done. Art - loved it. From the unusual lack-of-people approach, to the magenta and robins-egg blue coloration, to the cursive script, to the whimsically retro parasols and curlicues. Beautiful, and in keeping with the previous title done in chocolate and robins-egg blue. Excellent work, Little Black Dress!

What Works: When Apprentice Writer first heard the term 'Regency Chicklit' she wasn't sure what to expect. Now she can congratulate the author on founding such a delightfully entertaining subgenre.

What did she like? The alternating first-person present tense format was surprisingly successful. The heroine sections really did have the feel of how Bridget Jones would write in her diary had she been born a century earlier, and it was very entertaining to 'see' things from the male point-of-view. Also working was the fact that although many 'traditional' Regency ingredients were present - special licence, mistress, compromising situation, misunderstanding, servant-handling - how the protagonists behaved and spoke in conjuction with them was utterly unpredictable. The way the duel scene ended, especially, will pop up whenever AW encounters another (literary) duel.

"Rules of Gentility", the first Mullany title AW read, was memorable among other things for venturing into territory that is usually glossed over in historicals - at least, the ones AW has come across. In the case of RoG one such subject was water closets (since then also delved into, if that is the right expression, by Eloisa James). In this case, there was some exploration of how expectations differ along class lines, and also the matter of what happened with the natural consequences of a lady (rather than the man) entering marriage with experience, as it were.

But what worked best of all for this reader was the author's style. Breezy, funny, conversational, compelling. Judge for yourself:

"...He wears plain black...but on this man it looks as though he intends to fight a duel and possibly conduct the funeral service over his unlucky opponent all in the same day. His dark hair is unruly...but in a way that, along with this unshaven chin, suggests he has but recently risen from his bed.
He is lean, dramatic handsome as the devil, and I suspect the bed was not his.
A rake!
Will my reputation fall around me in tatters if I approach him?
....I arrive in front of him as he looks up - ...and gazes straight at my bosom.
He yawns."

"I don't believe I'm more or less clever than any of the hopeful young ladies paraded in the marriage mart. I speak some dreadful French, embroider with a minimum of bloodshed, produce lifelessly correct watercolors, have several easy pianoforte pieces at my disposal for the drawing room and occasionally I read something other than the fashion pages. In truth, I am quite accomplished."

" 'Who is that?' I ask.
'Mrs. Gundling.'
'Does not Mr. Gundling care for the park?'
He looks at me, possibly for the first time that day, with a long, thoughtful look. 'I believe Mr. Gundling to be legendary.'
'Indeed? Legendary in the sense that he may not exist?'
'Precisely, ma'am.' He flicks his whip and the greys break into a canter.
'Is she your mistress?'
'That's a very indiscreet question to ask on our wedding day.'
I shrug. 'Very well. I'll ask you tomorrow.'

What Doesn't: Apprentice Writer is still trying to work out how she feels about the last page, which for obvious reasons she cannot reveal. It is not that she disliked it - she didn't. It is more that it was unexpected - from point-of-view, from closing action, and from lack of hint of what came next. This, of course, may simply be a sign of how well-trained she is in forecasting a more typical type of historical romance genre ending - meaning that one that departs from the usual is an innovation, and as such, to be commended. AW will therefore congratulate the author once again, for pioneering an unforeseen ending to go along with the new subgenre.

Nevertheless, AW would personally have liked having a bit more of an idea of what happened to the characters beyond THE END. She is a reader who loves epilogues, as a way of getting a more lingering farewell to characters she has come to like. Perhaps readers will find out what happend to Charlotte, Shad, et al in a follow-up title?

Overall: Apprentice Writer is very pleased to find proof that rather than being dead, chicklit has metamorphosised (is that a word?), and is alive and well in a new form. She will now go forth and find the author's previous 'Rakish Regency' title, A Most Lamentable Comedy, and enjoy her very funny blogpost on genre tropes all over again here: Regency Hotline.

'Improper Relations' has taken up a spot on AW's Keeper shelf. It is available from with free shipping anywhere in the world.

Learn more about the author here and here.

The Fine Print: AW received a copy from the author - and she's very glad she did.


Friday, February 26, 2010

New Release: JULIE JAMES

Got a case of the winter blahs? Grey skies making you blue?

Apprentice Writer recommends: self-medicating with a funny story. One candidate is Julie James latest, with a blah-busting hit of unabashed magenta. Pretty spring-like, you'll probably agree.

Release date is 2 March, and AW is curious to see if she will enjoy it like the author's previous two titles.

Learn more about the author here.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Georgette Heyer

Historical Fiction
Sourcebooks, 2010

Premise: After the failed Scottish uprising, a brother and sister seek protection in cross-dressing and must decide how far to carry the deception in the face of romantic attraction and parental claim to nobility.

Cover: Apprentice Writer has no idea where Sourcebooks keeps finding these gorgeous classical paintings, but whatever the source (ha!) it's working because she's tempted to read each and every re-issued Heyer title on the strength of beautiful cover alone. The legendary Heyer prose is (almost!) just a bonus.

What Works: This is AW's third Heyer title, and she has come to marvel at this author's versatility. It is not just the time period and subgenre that changes, but the whole feel of the language and characters. She would go so far as to say it would be a huge mistake to form an opinion on like or dislike of this author based on one or two (or three!) titles alone; a better minimum would probably be half a dozen or more.

There is a character in the story who, by nature and youth, yearns for excitement and adventure and can consequently be persuaded into all kinds of risky escapades. Readers who similarly live for (vicarious) swash and buckle will get much satisfaction - duels, bloodshed, highwaymen halting coaches, balls, aristocratic slights requiring redress, and enigmatic masked rescuers don't just appear, but do so in plural.

But the heart of the story revolves the siblings' father: a majestic character who exercises planetary-level gravitational pull on everyone around him. Is he a con-man wanted in most countries on the Continent? A Jacobite sympathizer, one step ahead of royal retribution in the form of a noose? Or a long lost heir to aristocratic titles and fortune? Not even his children know for sure. What is certain is that his oft-expressed and breathtaking delusions of grandeur are indeed so grandiose that he unfailingly gets people to believe in them, creating what almost seem to be self-fulfilling prophecies. It is a memorable literary performance. Which leads to.....

What Doesn't: ....there was a very great deal of the paternal figure praising himself. Over and over and over, frequently with the same words. At first, it was entertaining, then it was clear that this was a running joke, but by the last quarter of the book this reader found it oppressive. The impression gained was that the author was bound to a minimum wordcount, and found this the quickest way to pad the total. Apprentice Writer's guess is that 10% of the total could be cut entirely in the form of such self-praise without meaning being lost in the overall story.

The other aspect that grew wearisome was the apparent poverty of imagination of how the people in the circles where the masquerade took place spent their time. It truly seemed as if they did NOTHING else but play cards at their clubs or homes, attend balls in order to play more cards, scrutinize each other's fashion choices and insults to one another, and sleep. AW predicted the siblings and their father, all used to the heady excitement of travel, subterfuge, and the knife edge of danger due to potential discovery, would grow bored silly and plunge themselves into the closest war/price-fixing scandal/coup d'etat sooner or later after the words 'THE END'.

Overall: An entertaining tale from the era of tricorne hats and dress swords that looks at the question: what defines masculine and feminine thinking, appearance and behavior, and how much blurring can occur without lasting negative consequences? AW's favorite cover quote described it very well as ".....a tale for those who think Shakespeare didn't give Viola enough to do...."

The Fine Print: AW received her copy from the publisher. Thanks, Sourcebooks!


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Non-Laughter Reviews: SCOUNDREL'S KISS

Carrie Lofty
Historical Romance
Zebra, January 2010

Premise: English scholar battling addiction and warrior-turned-monk battling inner and outer foes are thrown together in the complex environment of medieval Spain.

Cover: Title - Short, references author's previous 'What a Scoundrel Wants' title, blessedly free of words 'wicked', 'sin' and 'Duke' = not bad at all. Art - Will Scarlett is surely revolving in his literary grave. Here it is, the rich, saturated red that should have graced his own story's cover, one book too late. So while the actual elements give a true picture of what to expect (cover lady's complexion convincingly British-pale, cover man's complexion convincingly mixed extraction, his grip on her equally interpretable as lovingly passionate or monumentally frustrated), the irony is uppermost.

What Works: Carrie Lofty is a fearless author. Not only does she choose unusual time periods and places (Robin Hood's Sherwood Forest, Spain at a time of uneasy back-and-forth control between Christian and Moorish forces), she makes her heroines stand far apart from commonplace historical female characters. Meg (of the author's wonderful debut book) was smart, resourceful, and seeing-impaired in a world without benefit of Braille or seeing eye dogs. Ada, her sister, made a none-too positive first impression in Meg's story (based on her treatment of Meg) and opens her own story grimly negotiating with an unsavory character about terms of payment for the opium she needs to stave off imminent withdrawal symptoms. An addict heroine? Can she be believably redeemed to the point the reader roots for her happy end?

She can and is, but not before some very dramatic moments for herself and the aspiring monk tasked with curing her as a condition for his ultimate acceptance into the order. Gavriel is a wonderful figure, made up of opposites that threaten to tear him apart even before Ada complicates his life: born of two worlds and fully accepted in neither, possessing a strategist's brain but denied all education but that intended for warfare, struggling to atone for past actions by pursuing a spiritual path yet having nigh insurmountable roadblocks and temptations thrown in his way. Ada, who first acts with disdain towards others and denial about her own condition (with the reader unable to yet distinguish if these are features of her own personality or a symptoms of her addiction) becomes like a fuse to his powder keg: she will, without question, speed him either to heaven or hell. Apprentice Writer's favorite scene between them was when he kicked a very specific psychological crutch out from under her, forcing her to make a choice without any excuses or pretense that she does not know the consequences of each potential decision before her.

What Doesn't: AW had the good fortune to visit Spain (including Toledo, which makes an appearance) and fell in love with the country - meaning she couldn't wait to plunge into the story. To her delight, a wealth of small details skillfully woven into the narrative provided a glimpse of a fascinating place and time, where the pressures and realities of frontier life and opposing world views battling for dominance led to the easing of social rules practiced more strictly elsewhere. AW confesses to longing for more; she felt greedy for a greater taste of the Spanish backdrop. The fact that this hunger was not satisfied is not a flaw of the book; it rests with two unalterable facts: 1. Commercial fiction operates within strict (*cough* stingy *cough*) wordcount parameters, and 2. If the back blurb and title didn't give it away, the clinch cover certainly would; this is not historical fiction. It is historical romance, with emphasis tightly on the relationship.

AW will have to resign herself to the options available for her Spanish fix: a) seeking out more historically oriented fiction, b) petitioning publishers to increase future wordcounts for Ms. Lofty, and c) daydreaming within the pages of tourist brochures. She'll get right on all three.

Overall: Another entertaining and emotionally satisfying foray into a fascinating pocket of history as seen through the eyes of a unique author. With Ms. Lofty soon branching out into the apocalyptic genre and holding craft workshops all over the place, Apprentice Writer hopes there will be time in her busy schedule to tell the stories of Jacob, Ada's erstwhile Jewish travel companion with hidden depths, and Blanca, the appealling young Spanish woman whose rescue of Ada leads to her own first taste of independence.

Learn more about the author here , here, and here.

The Fine Print: Apprentice Writer purchased her copy of 'What a Scoundrel Wants', and won a copy of 'Scoundrel's Kiss' from 'The Season' blog.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Giveaway: WINNERS!

With the able and impartial assistance of junior apprentice writer #3 (age 2.5), not to mention the assistance of publisher Sourcebooks, two winners have been chosen:



Laura Hartness

Congratulations! Please send your snail mail deets to mayamissani AT yahoo DOT ca, and stop by after you've read the book to let us know you thought!


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Q & A and Giveaway: CIJI WARE

Today, Apprentice Writer welcomes Ciji Ware, author of Island of Swans (for review see previous post).

First things first: the cover. Did you have input about art? Did you choose the title?
Yes, I chose the title Island of the Swans. On my first of five trips to Scotland researching the book, I visited the picturesque Loch an Eilean - which means 'Swan Isle Lake' - where this story, based on true events, takes place. Coming up with the title was the easy part; what was more difficult was tracing the events of the heroine's life, about which no full-length, serious biography had ever been written. And for the first time in my 25-year career as an historical novelist, I was awarded cover approval in my contract with Sourcebooks Landmark. However, let it be said that other than suggesting that their staff have a look at the wonderful Romney painting of my heroine, Jane Maxwell, the 4th Duchess of Gordon that hangs in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, all the credit for the stunning cover must go to my publisher's wonderful art department. When the cover proof arrived, and I saw they'd incorporated the portrait, I literally burst out crying as the image of the Duchess and the swans depicted below it was what I'd always imagined in my mind's eye. I guess you can tell: I was thrilled!

I agree, the cover is lovely. What comes to you first? The hero? Heroine? Ending? Well, in the case of Swans, I had a great grandmother who claimed we were descendants of the Duchess of Gordon way, way back in our family history. I was drawn to the story of this fabulous eighteenth century 'woman of fashion' who was also known as 'The Matchmaking Duchess' because she managed to marry off her five daughters to, respectively, three dukes, a marquis, and a baronet, thereby alligning herself with the most powerful families in the British realm. Not only that, one of her two sons was to inherit the Dukedom of Gordon, and the other became the Marquis of Huntley. I was fascinated to learn of a woman wielding significant political influence in the tempestuous times of the British involvement in American Revolution, and besides, there was also the compelling story of an aristocrat caught in a love triangle for three decades with two men who both wanted her desperately. What more could an author ask?
Sadly, after five years of research, I could never prove without a doubt that my McCulloughs had married into Jane Maxwell's family a few generations before her birth in 1749. Oh well. So much for the family lore. I had fun dressing up like my heroine when giving my stump speech: 'In the Footsteps of a Scottish Duchess'.

What fun to dress up like that, and how tantalizing to imagine a direct link, proof or no!
My favorite scene comes late in the story when the Duchess is in process of arranging a marriage for one of her children, and turns a situation intended to form her ultimate humiliation on its head so it becomes a triumph. What was your favorite scene in the book?

My absolute favorite scene has to remain a secret or it will spoil the plot, but certainly one of my other favorites is when Thomas Fraser of Struy, lately returned from the Black Watch regiment serving in the American colonies, sees Jane again as the newly-minted Duchess of Gordon and demands she meet him secretly at the ruined castle at Loch an Eilean.

What does a typical writing day for you look like? Has it changed since Book #1?
I now have eight books under my belt: six historical novels and two non-fiction works. When I'm working on a book, I treat it like a job at the telephone company. I punch in at nine and work until three or so, and then again, a few hours in the evening if I can grab them. I don't make lunch dates, and I pretty much drop off the radar for awhile. I think being fairly disciplined about putting the seat of my pants on the chair and my hands on the keyboard is in my DNA. Now that my son is grown, educated and married, this schedule has loosened up a bit, but still, writing is the way I pay my light bill; it's not a hobby. I put in the hours in order to get the pages to pile up.

How does your family feel about you being an author?
Speaking of DNA, I am the daughter, niece, granddaughter and many greats' descendant of writers going back to William Ware who wrote the historical novel Zenobia published in 1889...and Henry Ware who published books of his sermons as a minister and academician in Boston in the early 1800's. I think my family would have given me grief if I hadn't become a writer. My husband of thirty-three years, Tony Cook, is a former financial journalist (now internet marketing guru) who was writing for Forbes and Money magazines when I met him, so basically, writing is the family business!

Your best writing habit?
I'd have to say my sense of discipline is my best asset.

Worst writing vice?
I don't write - I rewrite because I tend to use three adjectives when one or none would do . I studied Latin for four years and still fight the overwhelming desire to use too many clauses when a simple sentence would be preferable. Balancing this is my ability to be a cruel and heartless editor of my own work.

Social Networking: Wolf in Sheep's Clothing or Blessing in Disguise?
Despite my husband's profession as an internet guy, in the beginning of the social networking revolution, I saw it as the most tremendous time-suck in the world. Now I embrace it - used judiciously - as a fantastic tool to reach the readers who want to connect with the kind of historical writing I do: (I hope) rich, entertaining tales about extraordinary women set in times past, but also stories replete with the 'telling detail' that only deep-delving research can produce. If it weren't for the internet, books like Island of the Swans would perhaps not find an audience in a world dominated these days by short, pithy posts on Twitter or zippy text messages. I am one grateful writer that there is such a thing as social networking and that my new publisher, Sourcebooks Landmark, is one of the few print publishers who totally 'gets' how important electronic media is and sees around corners as to how it is already impacting the delivery of what we writers produce.

Nightstand inspection! What was the last ____ you read?
Contemporary: Bruce Lipton's nonfiction 'The Biology of Belief'
Historical: Tasha Alexander's 'Tears of Pearl'
Paranormal/UF/Fantasy: Does seeing the latest Harry Potter film on an airplane count? (haha!)
Mystery/Suspense: Jaqueline Winspear's 'Among the Mad'
Kindle: Kathryn Stockett's 'The Help'

Who is your writing idol and why?
I have two: Daphne du Maurier and Anya Seton. Both wrote straight historicals and also what we'd call paranormals today. As a young reader, I was totally swept into the worlds they created, and grew up wanting to write just like them. My third idol, if I'm allowed, is Jane Austen, naturally, whose characters will live as long as there is storytelling, be it print, drama, or some medium not yet invented!

Which literary character do you wish you'd thought of first?
Scarlet O'Hara, but I also loved Amber in Forever Amber. I definitely admire uppity women.

Best piece of advice for aspiring writers?
If you write something every day, in 365 days you'll have a book.

Anything else you'd like to share with Apprentice Writer's readers?
For a couple of years I taught the ten-week course 'Writing the First Novel' at the UCLA Writer's program. Each year, 15-20 students would fill my classroom, and in all that time, only 2 ever later finished books they'd come to class to jump start. One got published. I believe that many more would have landed between covers if only the writers had enough faith in themselves and perseverance to get to 'the end'. And also, once they got to the end, to go back to page one and look for ways to make it even better. My other two-bit piece of advice to budding writers: Show your work only to people whose literary judgement and experience you trust and, most importantly, show your work-in-progress only to people who wish you well!

Thank you so much for your time and insights, Ms. Ware!
Next upcoming title will be A Cottage by the Sea (late spring 2010)
and A Race to Splendour (2010)

Sourcebooks Landmark has generously provided 2 copies of 'Island of the Swans' for AW readers. Leave a comment on this Q & A for your chance to win a copy, and double your chances by commenting on the review posted earlier.

The Fine Print:
1. U.S. and Canadian addresses only, please. Sorry, no P.O. Boxes.
2. If your name does not link to a site, please leave a way to get in touch.
3. Contest closes on 17 February 2010.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Non-Laughter Reviews & Giveaway : ISLAND OF THE SWANS

Ciji Ware

Fictionalized Biography
Sourcebooks, 2010 (reissue)

Premise: Remarkable life of a woman caught in a love triangle who rises to social and political prominence during turbulent times.

Cover: Title - Excellent. Short, unusual, relevant to the story geographically and symbollically. Art - Excellent. The portrait is a true likeness rather than a period stand-in; the swans add a wonderful touch. Overall, one of the best covers this reader has seen in a long time.

What Works: This story is well-deserving of the word 'sweeping'. It follows the heroine's development over several decades as her path interweaves those of the many people whose lives she touched. Doing this justice would a challenging enough task for any biographer, but Lady Jane lived during a time of many historically significant events. Through chapters set during and sometimes embedded in events of the American and French revolutions, power struggles between Parliament and British monarchy, the rise of poet Robbie Burns, efforts of Scottish nobility to rise from the ashes of the Battle of Culloden aftermath, and repeated recruitment drives to raise Scottish regiments for British war efforts, history came alive for this reader.

But even more than these largescale events, it was the small details of everyday life that enriched the story; the food eaten, the poor tenements in childhood, the descriptions of streets, livelihoods , transportation, and the pervasively unjust treatment of women which Lady Jane spent a lifetime resisting. All made for an engrossing story and winning heroine - personal flaws and all. When the titular swan island shows up, it becomes the heart of the story, a place of retreat and restfullness where thoughts and feelings and actions impossible anywhere else can come to life. The reader longs for a return to this place right along with Lady Jane.

Where to end a biography of a historical figure is a ticklish question. AW liked the author's choice to end the story in a hopeful spot, with the heroine still living rather than with her death.

What Doesn't: This is always a difficult question in biography because it can be impossible to tease apart authorly writing style and constraints imposed by subject matter. If someone was a hothead in life, the author can't magically write in increasing wisdom with age for the sake of nicely readable character arc. This reader had some moments of frustration with the repeated similarity of how the two main male characters behaved during chance encounters, much as Lady Jane herself must have felt. Is this a weakness of the story? Only if the reader thinks real people don't behave immaturely when feelings are involved - which obviously, is all too often the case in real life. It is perhaps too much to expect for historical people to be beyond such human weaknesses.

Overall: AW had never heard of Jane Maxwell Gordon prior to reading her story and finds this inexplicable. Why in the world has no-one made a movie about this extraordinary woman, equivalent to the recent film about her rival, 'The Duchess"?

Interested in reading this biography for yourself? The publisher has offered two books to AW's readers! Comment today for your chance to win, and double your chances by commenting on tomorrow's interview with the author.

The Fine Print:
1. Open to readers with American and Canadian addresses. Sorry, no P.O. boxes.
2. If your name does not link to a site, please leave a way to get in touch.
3. Contest closes 15 February 2010.



"Perched uncomfortably on a low stool in the drafty sitting room, the young girl stared miserably at the scrap of embroidery lying forlornly on her lap. Refusing to look at her mother, Jane Maxwell angrily stabbed her needle into the clumsily stitched letters that proclaimed 'She is a Joy Who Doth Obey'.

'Jane!' said Lady Maxwell crossly, pointing to the threads that ran at decidedly odd angles across the soiled fabric. 'Tis impossible to sew properly if you dinna stretch the piece upon your frame. You'll take out every word, missy,' she said in an exasperated tone, 'until you do it perfectly!' Voicing her reproach at her ten-year-old daughter's failure to master yet another of the feminine arts, Lady Maxwell retrieved Jane's crumpled sampler and sighed audibly as she examined it more closely."

The first paragraphs of 'Island of Swans' capture a theme that will run through Jane Maxwell's life; a lifelong struggle to determine whether to submit to the will of others as was expected of daughters and wives in that period of time, or to decide the best course of action for herself.

They also may be a sign of how writing fashions change over time. Ten adverbs ending with a 'ly' suffix spread over two paragraphs. From her experience with writing contests, Apprentice Writer wonders whether an editor looking at this proportion would bring a red pencil into play, though the editor who first published the novel in 1993 clearly had no issue with it.

Please come back tomorrow for review and giveaway!


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Non-Laughter Reviews: Three Days To Dead

Kelly Meding
Urban Fantasy, 2009

Premise: Bounty hunter wakes up following her death in the body of a stranger and learns she has three days to solve the triple mysteries of who killed her, who she is now, and who set her up for a crime she did not commit.

Cover: Attractive in a typical UF kind of way. Art gives an accurate idea of contents.

What Works: Apprentice Writer started the story with much anticipation after great buzz for this debut author and how much she enjoyed the 'other' Kelly's UF title released on same day ('Better Part of Darkness'; review here). To AW's delight, the story started off with a bang and just kept going, the three day deadline keeping the tension at a steady simmer.
Evangeline operates in a questionable part of town, where all sorts of alternate life forms have moved in without the knowledge of the human citizens who live in more upmarket neighborhoods. It is neither a happy nor successful form of multiculturalism; there is a lot of political power struggle and things go wrong so often between individual citizens there is a formal force in place to eliminate beings who transgress against those of other species too flagrantly. The force is kept busy, and Evy was recruited into it as a juvenile. Her background lacked any sort of privilege, and her manner throughout the story is convincingly streetsmart and unpolished. The creatures that inhabit the world are fascinating and wonderfully described in appearance and behavior: AW's favorites were the earth guardian and gargoyle. The love interest who eventually appears has some interesting talents and conflicts of his own; there are some poignant scenes when she struggles to figure out which of her former and current beings she truly is, and when he struggles to convince her of the authenticity of his feelings for her even though her outside shell has changed. Provided food for thought about the nature of identity and love.

What Doesn't
Two minor things that AW was willing to go along with:
- a couple of spots where characters get right down to sharing information and trust with complete strangers rather than biding their time; was willing to suspend disbelief because, hello, a whole lot has to happen in the three ticking timeclock days Evy has left on Earth,
- AW wished for Evy to display some capacity to adapt to an elevated environment and figure out that maybe, the equivalent of fae royality should be treated on a different level than her usual brash-to-the-point-of-rudeness manner adopted with scum she's about to blow away or professional rivals. Evy didn't demonstrate such adaptive skill, in this and some other situations, but in all fairness her manner was completely consistent with established personality and backstory.

One minor thing that that placed a bit more strain on suspension of disbelief:
- a late battle scene with goblins. Without getting too spoilerific: considering the role of the main battle opponent, and the number of opponents involved in the skirmish, the way the situation was described did not make sense to AW. Then again, what does she know about goblin battle tactics? Maybe the problem lay with her under par imagination skills.

One non-minor thing that made this reader say WHAAA??? (not really a spoiler since this happens right at the start):
- reference is made multiple times to an incident in the backstory where Evy took cover with a group of shapeshifters after becoming a fugitive due to implication in the murder of her partners. In retribution for taking her in, the building where they live is burned with no survivors reported. AW could have dealt with this if the shapeshifters were landcreatures, or maybe if they lived underground. BUT - they are avian. So, a building full of people with the capacity to form wings and escape via windows and balconies - just somehow didn't? If they'd been described as were-penguins or were-emus, it would still have been OK, but their group name is Owlkins. ???????

Overall: A high-octane debut with more than enough elements in the mix to make this reader mark her calendar for publication date of second in the 'Dreg City' series, "As Lie the Dead".

Learn more about the author here and here.

The Fine Print: AW won this book from the delightful Fiction Vixen.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Health Promotion

Laughter promotes good health. According to Apprentice Writer, this is worth a vitamin pill.


Blog Archive