Storm Front by Jim Butcher

ButcherStormFrontWhere I Got It: Own it.

Narrator: James Marsters

Publisher: Buzzy Multimedia Publishing (2009)

Length: 8 hours 1 minute

Series: Book 1 The Dresden Files

Author’s Page

 

I’ve reviewed this book before but I was writing for a different blog at the time. Also, it has stood the test of time quite well and I feel it deserves another review.

Harry Dresden, the only openly practicing wizard in the country, is about to have a very rough weekend. Set in the city of Chicago, Harry must help the local Special Investigations unit figure out who is behind the grisly deaths of two people. While Harry would like to steer clear of this one and just focus on the mundane case of a missing husband, rent’s due and the Chicago PD is willing to pay for his services.

Harry is a very interesting lead character. He’s got this past that he doesn’t really want to talk about. Then he has this whole life that seems to be built around walking on the edges. The wizarding community doesn’t like that he so openly practices his abilities (let alone listing his services in the yellow pages). Meanwhile, the bulk of normal society scoffs at him and asks him to perform at kids’ birthday parties. He’s also a flawed character. He has trouble trusting people and he’s sometimes arrogant and bullheaded. Yet he is also a gentlemen to the ladies without being a chauvinist and is always willing to fight for what is right.

The plot moves quickly but there’s also these luscious moments of introspection tossed in throughout the story. I got to know Harry but was never bored with the ‘getting to know you’ parts. Harry’s wrapped up in two cases and his efforts on one or the other wrap around each other, always keeping me guessing as to where things will end up.

Then we have a plethora of interesting side characters. The infamous Lt. Karrin Murphy of the Chicago PD is both a support and pain in the arse to Harry. These two don’t fully trust each other and that leads to difficulties in coordinating efforts. Bob, Harry’s wizened friend, has some of the best lines of the book. Mister is a 30 pound cat that deigns to call Harry’s small apartment home. Susan Rodriguez is a reporter of supernatural events and doesn’t mind doing a little flirting to pick up a lead. Meanwhile, we have John Marcone, one of the main crime bosses of the city.

This is the book that got me hooked on urban fantasy. Now, years later, after having read many, many urban fantasy books, I have returned to it. This book has stood the test of time and is still one of my favorites of the genre. I do believe I enjoyed this book even more on the second reading. There’s plenty of small details I had forgotten. I’ve read up through Book 14, Cold Days, and I really enjoyed coming back to beginning.

The Narration: James Marsters makes a great Harry Dresden. He’s got the beaten down PI voice, with a little gravel in it. I also love his uppity voice for Bob. His female character voices are believable and each one is distinct from the next. 

What I Liked: Harry Dresden – a PI and a wizard!; more than 1 mystery to solve; Harry has a complicated past; not all his allies trust him; some of his enemies want him to sit this one out; Mister the cat; Bob; the Blue Beetle.

What I Disliked: Nothing! I really enjoyed this one!

What Others Think:

SF Reviews

Fantasy Book Review

Knite Writes

SF Site

The Ranting Dragon

Castalia House

Giveaway & Interview: Elizabeth Jeannel, Author of The Travelers

JeannelTheTravelersFolks, please give a warm welcome to Elizabeth Jeannel, author of The Travelers, to the blog today.

If you had to choose someone to rescue you from the jaws of certain death would it be a superhero, supernatural creature, or a space alien?

As a child, I definitely would have chosen a space alien because superheros were real to me, actively saving the world, I just hadn’t met them yet. As an adult, I’ve somewhat grown up. I currently think superheros just live among us waiting for their time to shine. I’d have to say Batman would be my chosen hero because, lets face it, there’s enough billionaires out there that someone could realistically step up and do the job. Until then, my life will not be complete. So, someone who knows a billionaire needs to tell them its Batman time; we are all waiting.

Myths and beliefs that we would consider fiction or fantasy in modern literature once upon a time shaped history (think of all the hunts for unicorns & dragons). Do you see modern fantasy fiction affecting human cultures today and how?

Modern fantasy definitely affects human cultures today. People are constantly stepping up as they prepare for the zombie apocalypse (which is inevitable, might I add), some are even claiming to be vampires, others are searching for vampires, whether it be lover or hunter, people still look for Big Foot, and the age old Loch Ness, and we all know that the idea of time travel is secretly on the mind of everyone who can comprehend the idea. We want to believe what isn’t real because if the imaginary stay imaginary, life is just too normal.

Conventions, book signings, blogging, etc.: what are some of your favorite aspects of self-promotion and what are some of the least favorite parts of self-promotion?

I think my favorite aspect about the self-pro process so far is that I’ve really had full control. I decide where to go, what to talk about, who to talk to, and why. No one tells me where I have to go or what I have to do. Ultimately, its up to me.

My least favorite part is that I’m alone. Everything I do is sort of in my hands, and its a learn as I go experience. Most of the steps I’ve taken so far have really come from reading the experiences of others, and trying my best to learn from them. The writing world is so vast, and unless you make the right friends, you aren’t really going anywhere. I’m still trying to make friends in general, but those that I have are amazingly supportive.

If you were sent on a magical quest which other 4 fantasy authors would you take with you?

When I read this question, I imagined that each of us would have the ability to use our writing freely. I.e. we could magically create things and change things just like we do in the word world. So, that being said, I would definitely bring J.R.R Tolkien back from the dead because who doesn’t love classic, by his side C.S. Lewis would be kicking it, I’d definitely add Jim Butcher along for the ride, and finally I’d add one more female to this group of manly men with Lauren Kate. I feel like I’d definitely be the weakest link with this group of literary geniuses, but I still think we would take that magical quest by the horns.

What does your Writer’s Den look like? Neat and tidy or creative mess? Can you write anywhere or do you need to be holed up in your author cave?

Sadly, I do most of my writing at my day job. Between caring for my spoiled cat, spending time with my disabled girlfriend, and doing that real work thing, I just don’t have a lot of spare time, except when work is slow. However, I typically leave an earthquake wherever I go, so if I had a Writer’s Den, it would most likely be a beautiful disaster. In all honesty, I’ve written at work between 911 calls, the park, school, the library, Starbucks (because I am a typical white girl and I don’t care), and even in the car at one point, BUT I prefer to be curled up with a blanket, munchies, and my favorite drink by a rainy window. I think that’s when I have my best creating juices flowing.

Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

I can actually honestly share two of these moments because both are equally worth it.

Since my first book has not been released, and a recent accident forced me to put it off, I’ve had some of my friends and family in full suspense waiting for the release since the spring of this year. Well, about a month ago, I bumped into an old high school friend at our local mall, and she had to stop me and beg me to release my book soon. She even said she checked my facebook page regularly to see if I had posted any tidbits about the book. It was the first time that I realized that other people actually do care about my work, and I can’t get over that day.

My second story flashes back to the dark days before my self publishing adventure began. These were dark times, Susan, very dark times. I was doing the unthinkable and querying like crazy, when I stumbled upon the agent of one of my favorite authors (who shall remain nameless for lack of ridicule from the general public). I literally squealed, scaring my cat, my girlfriend at the time, and my in laws. Quickly, I began forming a query letter, without explaining my outburst, and clicked send. Of course, I never received a response, and it just so happens now that I’m glad about it, but at the time, the idea of having the same agent as one of my favorite authors was something beyond my wildest dreams.

Thank you for the interview, and I hope you have an amazing day!

JeannelTheTravelersBook Blurb for The Travelers:

The town Alex calls home has always felt safe to her, until three girls her age are found dead. When Alex’s father forces her mother to skip town with him, possibly for good, they leave Alex behind to fend for herself and unfold years of lies they have built her life upon. Jaze, who has been invisible by her side for months, appears just in time to eliminate any normality that remained in her life. He’s tall, dark and terrifying, though that wasn’t his intent. Just as Jaze is earning Alex’s trust, the Council, a feared and powerful group of leaders from his world, orders him to protect her with his life.

Jaze quickly becomes torn between his duty and his love for Alex. When her real memories of her childhood return, Alex tumbles head first into Jaze’s strange world and into his arms. While Jaze soon finds that Alex may not be the ordinary girl he had originally assumed her to be. Together the two of them discover that sometimes love and simplicity aren’t always options in life.

Places to Find Elizabeth

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GIVEAWAY!!!

Elizabeth Jeannel is offering up 2 ebook copies of her book The Travelers. This giveaway is open International! To Enter, do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer the following in the comments: 1) Do you think fantasy fiction affects modern society? 2) Leave a way to contact you! Giveaway ends December 7th, 2015, midnight.

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Interview: Josh Powell, Author of The Berserker & the Pedant

PowellTheBerserker&ThePedantSeason1Everyone, please welcome Josh Powell, who authored the very entertaining The Berserker & the Pedant – so worthy! You can check out my review of it over HERE. Today we talk about Josh’s kickstarter project, other fantasy authors, TV shows and plenty more. Enjoy!

If you could be an extra on a SFF TV show or movie, what would it be?

Oh, that’s a fun one.  If it’s a main character, it’s too easy – Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous!  As an extra I’m thinking SG-1 as a Jaffa or Goa’uld.

Would you rather have a dragon, or be a dragon?

If the dragon can polymorph, be a dragon.  Otherwise, have a dragon.  Preferably a Pseudodragon or Pocket Dragon or a sarcastic Jhereg so I can bring them with me.

If you had to choose someone to rescue you from the jaws of certain death would it be a superhero, supernatural creature, or a space alien?

A superhero, the other ones might bite or probe after saving me.

Would you choose to live permanently in a fictional world, or visit as many as you liked but you couldn’t stay more than a few hours?

If I get to choose which fictional world, stay permanently.  If not, visit as many as I can.  There are some worlds you just do NOT want to live in 🙂

Myths and beliefs that we would consider fiction or fantasy in modern literature once upon a time shaped history (think of all the hunts for unicorns & dragons). Do you see modern fantasy fiction affecting human cultures today and how?

I see modern fantasy more as a reflection and recording of who we are and strive to be at the time it was written, rather than shaping who we are becoming.  Sci fi is the vision of what we want to become in the future and actively shapes it.

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

Sitting at a desk working for the government as a programmer.  The people were great, but I could not stand being given two weeks to do something that only took 30 minutes. That experience is definitely reflected in my Sci fi writing.  Writing is the opposite of that, I have 30 minutes to do what should take two weeks!

If you were sent on a magical quest which other 4 fantasy authors would you take with you?

Totally different answers than if I was hanging out in a bar with them. On a quest I’d like Jim Butcher as the wizard for his creativity and magical knowledge, Larry Correia to be the tank and kill the monsters, Patrick Rothfuss to be the bard, and since I’m not sure who the cleric is, Anne Rice to be the necromancer and raise the dead.  Back at the tavern, I’d want Steven Brust and GRRM swapped in there somewhere.

Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

I try not to gush, when I see someone I’m a fan of I prefer to valiantly hide on the outskirts of their vision, stalking them just out of range saying “Oh my god, is that…” while pretending to look at something else.  That’s what I did at Baycon with Amber Benson, I think I really pulled it off well.

Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

There is a Kickstarter to turn The Berserker and the Pedant into a graphic novel series.  Some really amazing talent, veterans of Marvel and DC, have lined up to contribute to the work.  The sketches and pencils for the first issue are in, and the artists are working on the inks and colors.  So exciting!  You can find the details at www.pedantpublishing.com

Also, Dragon Apocalypse, the sequel to The Berserker and the Pedant, is available to preorder and will be out in another month.  It’s only 99 cents until soon after it’s released.

PowellTheBerserker&ThePedantSeason1Book Blurb for The Berkerker & the Pedant:

Gurken Stonebiter, avatar of Durstin Firebeard, templerager of the Stonebiter clan, is in a pretty pickle.

He’s an axe-happy, grammatically-challenged dwarf on the hunt for blood. Thieves made off with temple property, sending him into a fit of vengeful rage. Seeing as he’s a Berserker, it’s in everyone’s best interest not to get Gurken’s hackles up. Gurken often dissolves into a fury of blood, lust, and carnage unlike anything seen in the age of men. When he finds those whom he assumes to be the aforementioned thieves, he is unable to control himself. Thus for our heroes, a master magician named Arthur and a girl-child named Pellonia, the blood flows until poor Arthur is hacked into pieces.

It takes all the temple priests (and all the king’s men) to put Arthur back together again. Imprisoned for their supposed crimes, Pellonia and Arthur aren’t willing to sit around the dungeon on principle, and so promptly escape. They return the following morning to join Gurken on a hilarious and dangerous adventure to the Mines of Moog to recover the sacred Orb of Skzd. Along the way they face gruesome deaths at the hands of enormous arthropods, an amiable Minotaur, and excitable dragons, making them wonder what exactly they’re doing on this quest in the first place.

Pellonia, for one, is much more than meets the eye, and although she has the body of a pre-pubescent girl, she is full of snark and knowledge beyond her years. Her past and fate become apparent as they meet mysterious denizens from her childhood. Arthur’s ability to frequently engage in death throes only to return once more is to be admired as well as puzzled over. Unfortunately, one too many dismemberments occur and some shortcuts are taken during the resurrection process, to Arthur’s utmost shame and revulsion. Gurken, with his brash temperament and willingness to confront anything that challenges them, though it be ten times his size, is both an enviable asset and a terrible curse along the way. The three companions come together to brave obstacles and solve puzzles hindering them from obtaining the goal of their quest.

Within the Mines of Moog, the lurking creatures multiply in size, cleverness, and deadliness. Well, with the exception of a new knoll dwarf ally, who joins them as a healer to serve against future dismemberments. Kitten-sized ants, elven maidens, and others occasionally strive to assist our heroes on their oft-forgotten quest.

Gurken’s adventures run the gamut of the fantasy genre, taking us through the ridiculous to the mythological, passing through epic fantasy, and finally resting on fantastically improbable. The rapid, so-fast-you-might-miss-it pace of the short stories make for one incredible, bordering on the absurd, ride that will enthrall fantasy lovers everywhere. Fantastic creatures abound in these stories, and it takes a clever eye to catch all the different breeds and specimens from orc to elf. Blink and you will miss a flippant phrase or a clever beast of burden flickering into existence and going out. Gurken’s adventures have a cunning, dry, tongue-in-cheek style and quick-as-a-whip writing that will have fans of William Goldman’s The Princess Bride and Piers Anthony’s Xanth series begging for more.

Places to Stalk Josh Powell

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Audible

Audiobook Giveaway & Interview: James Livingood, Author of Pale Rider

LivingoodPaleRiderFolks, please welcome the highly entertaining James Livingood. I have had the pleasure of enjoying 3 of his stories (Pale Rider, Summer Sword, & Magic Factory). We chat about Brandon Sanderson’s works, supernatural creatures, Firefly, and plenty more. Also, don’t miss out on the audiobook giveaway at the end of this post!

Would you rather have a dragon, or be a dragon?

I would rather have a dragon than be a dragon. Popular media shows dragons as hording gold and the closest I’ve every come to that is having a “piece of eight” pirate treasure mounted in my office. I am not very materialistic.

If you had to choose someone to rescue you from the jaws of certain death would it be a superhero, supernatural creature, or a space alien?

I like the idea of a supernatural creature saving me from doom. Much of the current portrayal of superheros seem like “happy accidents”. They accidentally gain great power and now use that power for good. On the other side of that space aliens feel like deus ex machina. They can be anything the author wants because humanity has never met an alien. Furthermore, alien technology can be whatever the author wants. However, supernatural creatures are purpose driven which I find fascinating. They exist for a reason and that binding (then breaking) of rules is what draws me to fiction.

LivingoodMagicFactoryIf you could, what book/movie/TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

Book: God Emperor of Dune

Movie: Flash Gordon

TV Series: Firefly

For me, the entire Dune universe came to a conclusion in the God Emperor of Dune book. Flash Gordon is something my family watched on a regular basis. The soundtrack was created by Queen and the movie was a cheesy type of fun. Finally, Firefly was well written and a pleasure to watch.

If you were sent on a magical quest which other 4 fantasy authors would you take with you?

Brandon Sanderson would be the guide, since he knows the rules. Kevin Hearne could provide jokes and positive attitude. Jim Butcher could be the brooding one in the back that comes up with a crazy plan. Finally, I could sacrifice Terry Goodkind to the lion / volcano / angry natives. After reading all 11 of the original Sword of Truth series, I ended up only liking one book.

Who or what are your non-writer influences?

There are a lot of them: family, friends, teachers. I’ve been lucky to have so many great people in my life that singling just one out is difficult.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you chose to do?

My other job is playing with technology. Beyond writing, it’s the closest thing to playing with magic. Using universal machines to create anything and communicate anywhere feels very magical.

LivingoodSummerSwordCare to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

I once got into an awkward argument with Brandon Sanderson. I felt he wrote the exact same female characters better than Robert Jordan. He was humble and disagreed. However, I was in full fanboy mode and I kept pushing my point. It was very awkward.

Which favorite fictional worlds would you like to visit?

I am working my way through Scott Meyer’s Magic 2.0 series. I think it would be fun to visit a world that I could program like a computer code. Living in that world would be like the holodeck in Star Trek.

What is the first book you remember reading on your own?

The first one I remember reading would be Where the Wild Things Are.

LivingoodPaleRiderBook Blurb for Pale Rider: Zombies Versus Dinosaurs:

“I am often left to wonder why a zombie, walking around in the sun, smells better than a pooping dinosaur.”

Two worlds collide in this action novelette. Zombies have destroyed civilization. Gasoline fuel is no longer an option, but humanity must find a way to survive. In response to trying to restore our way of life, we engineer franken-monsters. Because of their small brains and massive sizes, these beasts make quick work of farming and clearing land. These large creatures are immune to the zombie virus and perform excellently in loud conditions. They are easy to train. They behave like war horses, prone to help charge in and defend our livelihood.

In honor of the past, and to help build our future, we named these creatures dinosaurs.

Places to Stalk James Livingood

 

GIVEAWAY!
James is giving away 5 Audible.com copies of Pale Rider: Zombies Versus Dinosaurs! To enter do the Rafflecopter thing below OR answer the following in the comments: 1) Do you have an Audible.com account? 2) Please leave a contact email (I promise not to do anything evil with it) 3) Do you have an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment? Giveaway ends September 15, 2015, midnight.

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Interview: Henry Herz, Editor of Beyond the Pale

HerzBeyondThePaleFolks, please welcome author and editor Henry Herz to the blog. I have thoroughly enjoyed his works (Nimpentoad & Beyond the Pale) and just knew Henry would be a lot of fun to interview. Want to know how Seth MacFarlane and Leonardo da Vinci are similar? Curious about Monster Goose Nursery Rhymes? Keep reading and enjoy!

What drew you to organizing an anthology that focused on the sub-genre of paranormal Young Adult/New Adult?

I love the phrase “beyond the pale”, and everything sprang from that. Beyond the Pale is an anthology of fantasy, urban fantasy and paranormal stories that skirt the border between our world and others. Was that my imagination, or did I hear something under my bed? What was that blurred movement in my darkened closet? There is but a thin Veil separating the real and the fantastic, and therein dwell the inhabitants of these stories.

The noun “pale” refers to a stake (as in impaling vampires) or pointed piece of wood (as in a paling fence). “Pale” came to refer to an area enclosed by a paling fence. Later, it acquired the figurative meaning of an enclosed and therefore safe domain. Conversely, “beyond the pale” means foreign, strange, or threatening.

Myths and beliefs that we would consider fiction or fantasy in modern literature once upon a time shaped history (think of all the hunts for unicorns & dragons). Do you see modern fantasy fiction affecting human cultures today and how?

Long ago, fantasy literature (although not labelled as such) directly influenced culture. There was no scientific method – people were scared of the unknown (falling off the edge of a flat earth, comets, dragon hunts, witch burnings, etc.). Today fantasy literature only affects pop culture. Few people seriously believe “Winter is Coming”, but it’s still fun to say at cocktail parties to establish geeky credentials. 🙂

HerzNimpentoadIf you could, what book/movie/TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

I’d have to say The Lord of the Rings. I read it in elementary school. Reading it again for the first time as an adult would be a very different experience.

Conventions, book signings, blogging, etc.: what are some of your favorite aspects of promoting a book and what are some of the least favorite parts of promotion?

For me, book promotion is the hardest part of indie publishing. There is always more to do, and if you’re not careful, it can drown out the time for writing. My favorite part is attending events where I can meet the authors and the readers who appreciate their work. I moderated a fantasy/science fiction panel at San Diego Comic-Con featuring award winning and NY Times bestselling authors David Brin, Jason Hough, Jonathan Maberry, Rachel Caine, Jim Butcher, and Marie Lu. That was also the initial public unveiling of Beyond the Pale. What’s not to like?

What book should be made into a game (card, PC, board, etc.) and why? Is there a specific character who you would want to play in this game?

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. In that classic fantasy, he writes about allomancers – wizards who gain power by ingesting small amounts of powdered metals. A game about how such wizards would fight each other could be cool. Maybe there is such a game, and I simply haven’t seen it. Another good choice would be the Iron Druid series by Kevin Hearne.

Who are your non-writer influences?

Great question. Certainly some illustrators have had a strong influence, like Maurice Sendak (yes, he wrote too), David Peterson (Mouse Guard), Aaron Becker (Journey). I’m also awestruck by people who are gifted in multiple disciplines, like Leonardo da Vinci or Seth MacFarlane (I never expected to put those two in the same sentence).

HerzHowRhinoGotHisSkinFrom your own writings, are there any characters you would like to cosplay? Have your kids, and co-writers, done any cosplay?

It would be fun to cosplay Nimpentoad, the protagonist of my fantasy early chapter book of the same name. But that would be quite an elaborate costume. My co-author kids and I enjoy attending conventions, and while we’ve occasionally worn armor and hefted fake weapons, I wouldn’t call it cosplay. We lack the dedication and time to create the truly inspired costumes that would qualify us for cosplay.

What reboots (or retellings) of classics have you enjoyed? Are there ones that haven’t worked for you?

I’m a big fan of retellings. I had the idea of retelling Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes from a fantasy perspective, swapping creatures for the human characters. When I researched the concept, I found a couple of books out there, but they didn’t work for me. The gauntlet was tossed. Our version, Monster Goose Nursery Rhymes, will be published by Pelican in 2015.

Rudyard Kipling’s Just So stories are justifiably acclaimed. But, having been written so long ago, the language is outdated and too complex for today’s younger readers. So, my sons and I indie-published a picture book version, How the Rhino Got His Skin. See www.birchtreepub.com.

Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

It is always a pleasure to meet someone who was touched by my writing. That’s why authors write. Similarly, I’ve had my share of gushy fanboy moments meeting such inspiring authors as Jim Butcher, Kevin Hearne, David Brin, Orson Scott Card, Vernor Vinge, and Brandon Sanderson.

Lastly, please tell us a bit about the cover art for Beyond the Pale. Does it represent an overall concept for the book, or does it draw more on a single story contained in the anthology?

The cover art for Beyond the Pale represents an overall concept for the book. It’s entitled Snow White, and was done by Abigail Larson. She illustrated our picture book Monster Goose Nursery Rhymes. Love, love, love her dark style! If you agree it would look great on your bookshelf, please consider getting a copy via Amazon, Kindle, or www.birchtreepub.com.

Beyond the Pale, edited by Henry Herz

HerzBeyondThePaleWhy I Read It: Yolen, Ahmed, Butcher – How the hell could I turn down this book?

Where I Got It: A review copy courtesy of the blog tour (thanks!).

Who I Recommend This To: For those who enjoy mystery and creepy and fantasy in their short stories.

Publisher: Birch Tree Publishing (2014)

Length: 200 pages

Editor’s Page

When Henry Herz emailed me and asked if I would like to read & review a collection of stories he edited, I couldn’t turn him down for two reasons: 1) I loved his book Nimpentoad and knew that if he put the same care and delightful whimsy into Beyond the Pale as he did Nimpentoad, then I was in for some great reading; & 2) There’s stories by Saladin Ahmed (loved his Throne of the Crescent Moon), Jim Butcher (a Dresden Files short story!), Jane Yolen, and Peter S. Beagle, plus many more. I was not disappointed. This is a great collection of works, not only for the known-to-me authors that I enjoy so much, but also for introducing me to several new-to-me authors that I will be seeking out there work and devouring (yes, I am pointing at you, Ms. Heather Brewer).

Each story in this book has the wonder or mystery built in to it, and some stories end in such a way that the reader can make of it what they will (or need). Our heroes often found themselves questioning reality as they knew it, having to act on what their senses where telling them, and sort it all out later (or forget about it to stay sane). While several of the stories have a touch of the creepy and/or horror, it never goes so far as to be a true horror collection – which suits me just fine. There is awe (The Shark God by Peter S. Beagle), wonder, and hope (Misery by Heather Brewer and Hooves and the Hovel of Abdel Jameela by Saladin Ahmed). And, of course, I have to mention Jim Butcher’s Even Hand, a Dresden Files story told from the viewpoint of Johnny Marcone, crime boss of Chicago and Harry Dresden’s constant nemesis. For Dresden fans, this is a real treat. If you haven’t read any Dresden Files, don’t worry, it works great as a stand alone, and may even entice you to dive into Harry Dresden’s world.

This book gets full marks for entertainment. I enjoyed the cover (awesome art!) and the story line up. If you find you need a short story anthology for that commute or those 20 minutes before you nod off at night, this is worthy.

What I Liked: Great authors come together to entertain me!; awesome cover art; I now want to be a Shark God for Halloween; I have a slightly different view of Johnny Marcone thanks to this short story; Heather Brewer’s story, Misery, will stay with me for a while (in a good way).

What I Disliked: No dislikes here, though I am hoping that Henry Herz creates more anthologies.

What Others Think:

My Bookish Ways

Fiction State of Mind

Interview: Melinda Moore, Author of A Sunset Finish

MooreASunsetFinish_200Please welcome Melinda Moore to the blog. I quite enjoyed her novella, A Sunset Finish, and asked her for an interview. Today, we chat about Katharine Hepburn, the Pueblo Revolt, The Hobbit movies, Star Wars, faeries, and bassist Edgar Meyer. Please sit back and enjoy!

If you could, what book/movie/TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

I wish I could read The House with the Clock in its Walls by John Bellairs for the first time again. It’s a great childhood introduction to spooky books. I still go back to his stories now and then, but I can’t recapture that goose bumpy feel I had the first time.

BellairsHouseWithClockInWallsWhat biographies of the creators of your favorite genres do you want to read? Are there lesser known creators that still need a biography?

I’m actually not a fan of biographies. When I was in my twenties and very idealistic, I found biographies to diminish the subject. I had a favorite author whose ideals in his books were right along with mine, and then I read about his real life and found he didn’t follow those ideals at all. His was the first to be disappointing but not the last.

The highlight of my biography reads was Me, which is the autobiography of Katharine Hepburn. I found it to be exactly as I imagined her real life being. She was a leader in feminism in all her characters, and her real life was the same way.

Probably the low was not one I read myself. I had recommended Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to a friend of mine. She read Lewis Carroll’s biography and said, “Did you know he liked to paint and photograph nude little girls?” I have never recommended his stories to my children.

I still find myself wondering enough about an author to consider checking out what the Internet has to say about them. Of course with blogs you can watch living autobiographies. One of my favorite authors started to blog a few years ago, and while reading it didn’t ruin her books for me, I don’t follow it because her day to day life does not interest me.

But a writer who I do wish had a biography or autobiography out, and who I find to be very approachable (I emailed her how much I enjoyed a book she wrote and she replied in under an hour) is Jane Yolen. The breadth of her work is amazing.

YolenDragon'sBloodGiven the opportunity, what fantastical beast of fiction would you like to encounter in the wild? Which would you avoid at all costs?

Well depending on the type, I think a dragon qualifies as the answer to both 🙂 I love to write about dragons and would want to encounter the friendly type, or hot erotic shapeshifting type, but not the type that would burn me to a crisp on sight.

What book(s) should be made into a game (card, PC, board, etc.) and why? Is there a specific character who you would want to play in this game?

It seems like the Dresden Files Series by Jim Butcher would make a good CCG because there are so many different factions. It would also be great as an MMO. It has a huge fan base, and I think players could make it a very dynamic game. It looks like it’s already an RPG, but I haven’t had the pleasure of playing it yet.

What nonfiction works have you found useful in building fictional worlds, cultures, and plots?

For A Sunset Finish I used Dancing Gods by Erna Fergusson and several historical books about the Pueblo Revolt. Although other stories I’ve written aren’t so directly tied to an area in the real world, I still research a lot about the folklore of whatever mythical creature I’m using. I use fairies frequently and have found The Erotic World of Faery by Maureen Duffy to be very helpful—it’s not as racy as it sounds 🙂

ZahnHeirToTheEmpireWho are some of your favorite book villains?

Admiral Thrawn from Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn Trilogy for Star Wars is by far my favorite villain. I think that series is officially the Heir to the Empire series, but because Thrawn is so awesome, people just call it the Thrawn Trilogy. In fact, he is so cool all other villains have escaped my head at the moment.

What reboots (or retellings) of classics have you enjoyed? Are there ones that haven’t worked for you?

I really like the Pride and Prejudice production with Colin Firth. The new movies for the Narnia series have been great and added new depth to the books. I think the second Hobbit movie was terrible. I loved The Lord of the Rings movies, and the first Hobbit movie was good, but I don’t know what happened with the second part.

In this age of publishing, self-promotion is really necessary for the author. What do you enjoy most about advertising yourself and your works? What do you find most challenging?

I really enjoy interviews like this, but it’s hard for me to go out and seek them along with seeking reviews. I also just spent what I considered a large sum for advertising and really didn’t get much in the way of sales from it. I’ve found the balance between promoting current publications and working on new stories to be difficult. In the long run, I think concentrating on improving my writing and getting new stuff out there will be what pays off.

MeyerViolinConcertoCare to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

Actually, my awkward fan girl moment occurred in my musician life, but I wasn’t gushing. I played the bass from middle school until my early thirties. Bass is just not that glamorous. But when I was in high school, a man who was both a hot bass player and cute was burning up the music scene. He was giving a master class in Colorado, I live in NM, and I auditioned and received a spot to play for him along with a few other girls from here (strangely Albuquerque had mostly female bass players when I was going through high school even though it’s a male dominated instrument). So we drove up there, the whole time talking about how cute Edgar Meyer was and not focused on our music at all. By, the time I played for him, he was pretty much a god in my mind. I managed to get through my song; he gave me comments. His last comment was, “It would really be great if you played it by memory.” He whisked the music off my stand and stood there waiting for me to play it by memory. There was just no way. I was now humiliated in front of the bass god and all his worshipers!

A little addendum to the story: he just performed with Taylor Swift on one of the country music awards this year. I was flipping through channels, saw him and jumped up yelling that I knew him. My kids thought I was crazy 🙂

MorgensternNightCircusCover art can be so important for a book, making or breaking sales. What cover art has caught your eye, that you found stood above other books?

I really like both covers that I’ve seen for The Night Circus. I’d love to have artwork like that for a series I hope to publish one day.

Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

My short story “The Virgin and the Dragon” has just been released in the Spring 2014 volume of The Colored Lens. My novella A Sunset Finish will have been out a year this summer, and I’ll probably do a special giveaway at my blog enchantedspark.com.

Places to Stalk Melinda Moore

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Cold Days by Jim Butcher

Clean sheets, cats, and a good book.
Clean sheets, cats, and a good book.

Why I Read It: The Dresden Files is one of my all-time favorite series.

Where I Got It: Own it.

Who I Recommend This To: The Dresden Files series is urban fantasy at it’s best. If you are not familiar with Butcher’s works, start with Storm Front.

Publisher: Penguin Group (2012)

Length: 528 pages

Series: Book 14 Dresden Files

I will do my best to chat about this book without revealing too many spoilers about the series or this specific book. The few spoilers included will be marked.

Harry Dresden, Chicago wizard detective, seems to have at least one really tough day a year. If you’ve kept up with this series, you know that each book is about one of those days. Book 14 is no exception. Book 12, Changes, ended in a tough way for Harry. Book 13, Ghost Story, found Harry defeating that tough ending, only to jump from the fire into the frying pan. Book 14, Cold Days, we get to find out what Harry does with the frying pan. And he handles it masterfully, grabbing that frying pan with both hands and slamming it into anyone who tries to manipulate him. Once again, Jim Butcher kept me well entertained.

Harry has a new role in the land of the Fae, specifically in the Winter Court, and he is given a most difficult task by Queen Mab. In order to accomplish this task, he reunites with friends from the human world and crashes into opposition from not only the Fae Summer Court, but also trouble makers in the Winter Court. Fans of the series will be glad to see old friends brought into play, even as old enemies start coming out of the wood work. Most touching to me were several scenes between vampire Thomas and Harry.

Even as Harry fights for the good of our world, he is tormented by a newly given power which threatens to turn him into a less honorable man. Coupled with this, a fight on the Large Universe level is revealed to him, adding urgency to his quest to fulfill his Winter Court orders and yet maintain his humanity. Each time I read one of these books, I think, that’s as big as it can get; it just can’t get any worse than this. Ha! I’m always delightedly wrong. Because the characters continue to grow and change throughout this series, it never, ever gets old. Each book isn’t a rerun of the last, nor are there simply 4-6 tropes that Butcher recycles. People change, allegiances change, the scope changes. Book 14 is not an exception.

If I have any complaints about this book, it is that some of the banter fell a little short, didn’t make me chuckle as much as in previous books. In part, this may be due to conscious decision by Butcher, as things are a little strained between Harry and some of his Chicago friends, so the conversations and banter would be a little off, a little strained themselves. However, such a minor complaint did not keep me from experiencing a large sense of fulfillment at the end of the novel. Foolishly, at Page 99, I thought I had glimpsed the ending; I was wrong, because the ending was so much more than I anticipated.

What I Liked: Harry has additional inner demons to fight; Harry doesn’t magically, instantaneously recover from injuries received in past books; his love life is complicated; we got a glimpse of what the final, giganto battle might be for the series; Thomas and Harry have some of the best lines together; satisfying ending; SPOILERS Mac’s mysterious past; reunited with Mouse; Bob shares a key piece of info; Murph on a Harley; Harry teasing The Malk (is he an idiot, or just sleep deprived?); Demonreach and his underground jail of mayhem; pet names like ‘Spangle Crotch’ END SPOILERS.

What I Disliked: In a few instances, the banter didn’t feel as well-rounded as I would have enjoyed.

readandreviewbuttonThis week, I am counting this as part of On Starships and Dragonwings’ Read & Review Hop. I mean, it’s an awesome book and everyone should hear about it. Period. Make sure to stop over at Anya’s for more great reviews.

The Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher

Why I Read It: Loved Jim Butcher’s other series, The Dresden Files.

Where I Got It: The Library

Who I Recommend This To: People into epic fantasy with strong world-building and character development.

Narrator: Kate Reading

Publisher: Penguin Audio (2008)

Length: 16 CDs

Series: Book 1 of The Codex Alera

This was such a fun book. As a fan of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, this was quite a different pace but every bit as good. Tavi is a teenager, a shepherd, and lacking in judgement when it comes to women. He also has no furies of his own, a bit of an oddity in a world where everyone has at least one fury they can call their own. Furies are the spirits of various natural elements of the world of Alera – water furies, fire furies, earth furies, etc. Calderon has some of the strongest furies, and hence some of the strongest furycrafters, in all of Alera.

The Alerans are not alone in this world, but their last confrontation with the Marat was nearly 15 years ago. So when Tavi and his Uncle Bernard go out to find some lost sheep, the last thing they expect is to fend off is a Marat warrior and his deadly birdbeasts. This external foe coupled with internal power struggles puts Alera in a precarious position. Amara in a Cursor, which is not just someone who delivers the Empire’s mail, but can also serve as information gatherer. She is also wicked good with her wind fury, decent with a blade, and has some of the best lines in the book. Unfortunately, she is up against a foe who knows all her strengths and weaknesses.

Butcher wove together a masterful tale that grabs a hold of you right away and never lets go. The characters are introduced simply and gain in depth as the story unfolds; I even fell in love with some of the bad guys, hoping they wouldn’t die before I had learned all their secrets. The magical rules governing furycrafting are well laid out and the author doesn’t stray from them for ease of moving the plot along. The Marat make an intriguing external force upon the Empire, with their own code of honor and culture.

Kate Reading surpassed my expectations. I had listened to other narrations by her and had found her speech pattern halting and a little unsettling. I am very happy to say that she performed this book beautifully, with a notable range for male and female characters. I especially loved her rendition of Odiana. This performance not only puts her back on my Listen To List, but also in the top 20.

What I Liked: The story begins and ends with sheep; the Marat are so alien to the Alerans; the side romance of Amara; Amara’s word duel with a cocky knight; the bad guys are complex; the good guys are complex; everyone has secrets and a past.

What I Disliked:  I took far too long to pick up this book.