Thursday, April 30, 2015

Urban Sci Fi Fantasy: REVISION


Many times while reading REVISION by Andrea Phillips, I was reminded of the Arthur C. Clarke quote "Magic's just science we don't understand yet."

The blurb: "Mira is a trust fund baby playing at making it on her own as a Brooklyn barista. When Benji, her tech startup boyfriend, dumps her out of the blue, she decides a little revenge vandalism is in order. Mira updates his entry on Verity, Benji’s Wikipedia-style news aggregator, to say the two have become engaged. Hours later, he shows up at her place with an engagement ring. Chalk it up to coincidence, right?

Soon after, Benji’s long-vanished co-founder Chandra shows up asking for Mira’s help. She claims Verity can nudge unlikely events into really happening — even change someone’s mind. And Chandra insists that Verity — and Mira’s newly minted fiance — can’t be trusted."

Quick and dirty review: I had fun reading it. Quick, easy to get into. Given the technical aspect of the power at hand, it falls into the sci fi realm. However, this also had the feel of an urban fantasy, so I'm calling it Urban Sci Fi Fantasy. This isn't romance heavy at all, even with the fiance bit. The main character has a lot of growing to do, and she did irritate me at times, but by the end I was rooting for her.

A little more info: When I first started reading the book, I thought that Mira was trying to make it on her own, but as I got to know her better, it became apparent that she's just been playing at being a grown up. I get wanting to have a low stress job and not fitting into your parents' expectations. Mira, though, felt like she hadn't moved past rebellious teen. She said she didn't want her trust fund, but she also called up the family lawyer if she couldn't make rent.

Then she discovers that her boyfriend's Wikipedia-like site can actually alter reality. At first it just seems crazy. There's no way that typing  a sentence on a website can make a guy go from dumping you to proposing, right? Then she uses it to save a friend, but it doesn't take long to see darker implications. She also meets a mysterious person who warns her about Verity, tries to get Mira to help, but is so distrusting that she herself isn't trustworthy.

It's a jumbled mess for our lead, who along the way starts realizing that she has been wasting her potential and has not been a remarkably good friend.

The tech was interesting but not overwhelmingly heavy or complex. It all seems quite magical. I'm good with magical.

Mira isn't the typical kick-ass heroine. It takes her awhile to figure things out. Once she does though, and has a very important meeting, things clicked into place in rapid succession.

I'll be on the lookout for more from Phillips.

Find pre-order links for REVISION at http://www.firesidefiction.com/books/.

[received a review copy]




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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Hollywood Is Giving DC Serious Side Eye

On the eve of the release of Marvel's next Avenger's movie, The Hollywood Reporter has run a story about how little faith Hollywood has in DC ever getting it's shit together. It's full of industry insiders shit talking the company and tearing into the disastrous looking Batman V Superman movie trailer.

DC has a lot of reasons to be nervous. They're losing their grip on TV supremacy as Marvel has stepped up their game with Daredevil and Agent Carter. Marvel's comics are outselling DC's and this entire summer is 100% Marvel. The next DC film doesn't come out until this winter. What are they thinking?

The ultra-grimdark and pointless looking Batman V Superman is supposed to be the lead-in to the Justice League and I'm afraid to say I couldn't care less. Wonder Woman already looks like a beleaguered undertaking since it has already lost it's director and there isn't even a script yet. According to the Hollywood Report, DC hired five different writers to write a script SEPARATELY and the best one wins. OH lord. Aquaman sounds as if it has the same writer problems, with DC hiring three writers to make separate scripts and neglecting to tell them when the studio's vision for the film changes. They're just spinning their wheels.

 The Hollywood Reporter article is a fascinating look at a group who has some of the most famous superheroes in all of comic book history and has no idea what to do with them. DC still comes off as embarrassed about making superhero films, overcompensating with bleak characters and dark plots. It's obviously not making them any friends. Add in the absolutely bizarre styling of the Joker in Suicide Squad and DC is losing their fans as well. I honestly want to pull the DC execs aside and shake them REALLY HARD shouting "WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?!".

Meanwhile, the Avengers opens this weekend and I could pass out from sheer excitement. DC, this was your race to lose and it isn't looking good.
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Monday, April 27, 2015

Guest Post: Andrea Phillips on Writing & Fantasy

Andrea Phillips, author of REVISION, out May 5th, is here to talk about writing and fantasy.

First, a little about the book: "Mira is a trust fund baby playing at making it on her own as a Brooklyn barista. When Benji, her tech startup boyfriend, dumps her out of the blue, she decides a little revenge vandalism is in order. Mira updates his entry on Verity, Benji’s Wikipedia-style news aggregator, to say the two have become engaged. Hours later, he shows up at her place with an engagement ring. Chalk it up to coincidence, right?

Soon after, Benji’s long-vanished co-founder Chandra shows up asking for Mira’s help. She claims Verity can nudge unlikely events into really happening — even change someone’s mind. And Chandra insists that Verity — and Mira’s newly minted fiance — can’t be trusted."

I've enjoyed reading this one, and my review will be here later this week. For now, take it away, Andrea!

There are a lot of reasons to write fiction. Fame, fortune, endless glory and power… HA HA HA yeah right. I mean, in theory those things can happen, but the smart money is giving your fame and fortune the side eye and slipping its phone number to an investment banker instead.

It's true, though, that your dreams can come true through the writing of fiction. Just they come true in the story, not outside of it. This is one of the quiet and vastly undersold joys of being a writer: you get to live other lives, be other people, make different choices. It's all thought experiments, of course, but sometimes even the contemplation of a different life scratches that itch.
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Saturday, April 25, 2015

First Thoughts on DC Girls



By now everyone has had a chance to read about DC's new line of superheroes for girls, yes?

I had three first thoughts/reactions when I heard about it:

1. Uncontrollable eye-twitch over the "Just for Girls" label.

2. My kids are going to want this. All of it.

3. They better fucking have adult sizes of the t-shirts.

I really love the character designs just from this peek at their costumes. We'll see how they implement it, but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt for now. Would have loved for it to be a DC KIDS line where we have girl and boy heroes and villains all together. I don't think our toys need to be one for girls, one for boys. Put them all in the same section and let the kids pick what calls to them.

SOMEDAY.

What do you think about DC's new line?
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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Summer Stock: Books for Young Readers

Summer is coming. Usually this statement fills me with a dread greater than the zombie apocalypse, but strangely not this year. Could it be because summer means summer reading?

Well, no. Summer means I don't have to get the kids out the door in time for school, but we'll pretend it's the books.

Over the past couple of weeks I've bought several books for our friends. Need any of these for your shelf?

Girlchild's grandma is getting her this book, and we also pre-ordered it for one of her friends who has a birthday soon. PIP BARTLETT'S GUIDE TO MAGICAL CREATURES by Jackson Pearce & Maggie Stiefvater.

The blurb: "From bestselling authors Maggie Stiefvater and Jackson Pearce comes an exciting new series full of magical creatures, whimsical adventures, and quirky illustrations.

Pip is a girl who can talk to magical creatures. Her aunt is a vet for magical creatures. And her new friend Tomas is allergic to most magical creatures. When things go amok—and they often go amok—Pip consults Jeffrey Higgleston’s Guide to Magical Creatures, a reference work that Pip finds herself constantly amending. Because dealing with magical creatures like unicorns, griffins, and fuzzles doesn’t just require book knowledge—it requires hands-on experience and thinking on your feet. For example, when fuzzles (which have an awful habit of bursting into flame when they’re agitated) invade your town, it’s not enough to know what the fuzzles are—Pip and Tomas also must trace the fuzzles’ agitation to its source, and in doing so, save the whole town."


We gave a "get well soon" book to one of her other friends. She likes fantasy, but lately has been reading a lot of real world fiction, so we got her TEN by Lauren Myracle.

The Blurb: "Winnie Perry is turning ten and ten is BIG: it means double digits, more responsibility, and being an almost-middle-schooler. Ten means that Winnie can handle anything, even a three-year-old baby brother and a practically teenage (and acting like it) older sister. And with her best friend, Amanda, by her side, Winnie plans on enjoying every last second of their last year in elementary school.

This prequel to the New York Times bestselling Winnie Years series will thrill the tweens who grew up with Winnie and introduce a whole new generation of readers to a heroine they can grow up with."


Other presents we recently bought, book 1's in series with book 2 already out:

THE FORBIDDEN LIBRARY by Django Wexler

The blurb: "Alice always thought fairy tales had happy endings. That--along with everything else--changed the day she met her first fairy
When Alice's father goes down in a shipwreck, she is sent to live with her uncle Geryon--an uncle she's never heard of and knows nothing about. He lives in an enormous manor with a massive library that is off-limits to Alice. But then she meets a talking cat. And even for a rule-follower, when a talking cat sneaks you into a forbidden library and introduces you to an arrogant boy who dares you to open a book, it's hard to resist. Especially if you're a reader to begin with. Soon Alice finds herself INSIDE the book, and the only way out is to defeat the creature imprisoned within.

It seems her uncle is more than he says he is. But then so is Alice."


THE LUCK UGLIES by Paul Durham

The blurb: "The Luck Uglies is the first in a tween fantasy-adventure trilogy brimming with legends come to life, a charming wit, and a fantastic cast of characters-and is imbued throughout with the magic of storytelling.

Strange things are happening in Village Drowning, and a terrifying encounter has Rye O'Chanter convinced that the monstrous, supposedly extinct Bog Noblins have returned. 

Now Rye's only hope is an exiled secret society so notorious its name can't be spoken aloud: the Luck Uglies. As Rye dives into Village Drowning's maze of secrets, rules, and lies, she'll discover the truth behind the village's legends of outlaws and beasts...and that it may take a villain to save them from the monsters.

The first in a series, The Luck Uglies is an altogether irresistible cross of Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain, Stefan Bachmann's The Peculiar, and Chris Healy's The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom, overflowing with adventure, secrets, friendship, and magic."


THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL by Soman Chainani

The blurb: "The first kidnappings happened two hundred years before. Some years it was two boys taken, some years two girls, sometimes one of each. But if at first the choices seemed random, soon the pattern became clear. One was always beautiful and good, the child every parent wanted as their own. The other was homely and odd, an outcast from birth. An opposing pair, plucked from youth and spirited away.

This year, best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to discover where all the lost children go: the fabled School for Good & Evil, where ordinary boys and girls are trained to be fairy tale heroes and villains. As the most beautiful girl in Gavaldon, Sophie has dreamed of being kidnapped into an enchanted world her whole life. With her pink dresses, glass slippers, and devotion to good deeds, she knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and graduate a storybook princess. Meanwhile Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks, wicked pet cat, and dislike of nearly everyone, seems a natural fit for the School for Evil.

But when the two girls are swept into the Endless Woods, they find their fortunes reversed—Sophie’s dumped in the School for Evil to take Uglification, Death Curses, and Henchmen Training, while Agatha finds herself in the School For Good, thrust amongst handsome princes and fair maidens for classes in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication.. But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are…?

The School for Good & Evil is an epic journey into a dazzling new world, where the only way out of a fairy tale is to live through one."





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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Miserere Review and Discussion Time!

MISERERE by Teresa Frohock gives us a portal fantasy with a religious-based magic system, dysfunctional families, betrayals, demons, knights, and a man seeking a chance to make up for past mistakes. It was parts what I expected, but also threw me wonderful surprises, even if they weren't very wonderful for the characters involved.

The quick and dirty review: I really liked this story. It was intense, dark, but also with hope, even if sometimes that hope was just a slim shard. The magic system is based on religion, with knights of all of the religions of the world battling the Fallen. While faith is a key attribute of the magic of this world, it didn't feel preachy to me. It's also an incredibly dangerous and treacherous world, so there is a lot of action. If you are a fan of knights, fights with demons, and portal fantasy, you should check this one out.

Continue on for a bit more detail and discussion questions for MISERERE.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

For All Your Evil Needs

8-Bit Black Hearts Evil Meter Pin - $2.95
Being a villain isn't all volcano lairs and henchmen waiting on you hand and foot. It can be hard. There are heroes who insist on interrupting you while you're watching Netflix with their goody goody crusades. Sometimes your killer robots malfunction. I mean, have you seen the price of freeze ray freon lately?

Thankfully, there is someone out there who understands. He's the villain's villain. He's there to see that us villainous connoisseurs get the help we need. He's Atticus Q. Redghost, head ghoul in charge of Evil Supply Co. and they just re-launched their website.

I've talked about Evil Supply Co. before here and I'm very excited that they finally finished their long awaited store revamp and relaunched their site. If you need evil stationary, Atticus is your man. I assume. No one knows if he's really a man or a ghost or a figment of our collective imagination.

From notebooks with wills on the back to awesome patches and pins to complete your evil genius style, they have everything you need. One of their best products is the Mister Ghost's Highly Enviable Monthly Parcel of Simple Yet Amazing Wonderments. For $12, you can get a monthly surprise box of stickers, cards, patches and envelopes. It's like an evil stationary Birchbox!

Fellow villains, times are tough. Let Evil Supply Co. help make things just a little bit easier. See some of their awesome products under the cut!

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Friday, April 10, 2015

When Did April Become the Best TV Month?

by Sara N.

Can we talk for a second about what riches our televisions have in store for us this month?



Outlander came back last Saturday, just in time to meet all of our kilt and accent needs. Game of Thrones returns in two days, and I cannot wait to see how it deviates from the books, which have become an increasing slog to read. And the mister and I are planning on spending all of tonight watching as many episodes of Daredevil as we can before our old-person eyes can't stay open any more. These are just the shows on fancy cable and Netflix, though.


Stupid sexy Jamie Fraser.

This coming week also brings new episodes of Gotham, Jane the Virgin (not genre, but I'm including it because it's so delightfully fun), The Flash's All Star Team Up episode (more Brandon Routh!!!), iZombie, Arrow, Supernatural, S.H.I.E.L.D., The Vampire Diaries, Scandal (again not genre, again don't care; the ep is called "I'm Just a Bill," so hee!), Grimm, and Once Upon a Time.

Stupid sexy Brandon Routh.

And that's just the networks! Tonight are the season finales for Helix and 12 Monkeys on SyFy, and although I'm not watching it, AETV is in the middle of its run of zombie-ish show The Returned. (Side note: Is anyone watching this who also watched the original French version? The original is so very good; I'm wondering if it's worth watching a remake with American actors I like.) Plus, you know, freaking Mad Men is in its final season. Oh, and Orphan Black season 3 is back next week! Which reminds me: I totally need to get around to watching season 2.

Image from season 1 so I can avoid spoilers.

Seriously, with all of this bounty, can we not all agree that April is the kindest month?
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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Miserere Discussion Next Week


Way back, I asked if you were in to read MISERERE by Teresa Frohock. Life got in the way for me (things are much better now, thanks), but I'm setting a date for my review/group discussion: Thursday April, 16. One week from today.

Here's the blurb again:

"Exiled exorcist Lucian Negru deserted his lover in Hell in exchange for saving his sister Catarina's soul, but Catarina doesn't want salvation. She wants Lucian to help her fulfill her dark covenant with the Fallen Angels by using his power to open the Hell Gates. Catarina intends to lead the Fallen's hordes out of Hell and into the parallel dimension of Woerld, Heaven's frontline of defense between Earth and Hell. When Lucian refuses to help his sister, she imprisons and cripples him, but Lucian learns that Rachael, the lover he betrayed and abandoned in Hell, is dying from a demonic possession. Determined to rescue Rachael from the demon he unleashed on her soul, Lucian flees his sister, but Catarina's wrath isn't so easy to escape!"

A tortured protagonist, demons, and one hell of a horrible family dynamic? I'm in! Are you?

Buy MISERERE: AN AUTUMN TALE Amazon | B&N | Kobo | BAM | Powell's | Indiebound
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Sweeping Her Way to the Finish

artwork by Doris of Disanthus.com
Back in 2013, I raved about Ilona Andrews serial, Clean Sweep. Last year, they started book 2, SWEEP IN PEACE. Like book 1, it is a free serial on their website. Chapters are added fairly regularly (except when deadlines or life take priority).

Now though, we're on the fast course to the finish. In the last two days we've had 4 new installments. Did you hear that? Yes, it's the sound of fans squeeing with joy.

With Clean Sweep, as soon as it was complete, it remained up on the website for a time, then was edited and some content added before it was published. I'm anticipating that the same thing will happen with SWEEP.

Once again we have action, the trademark Ilona Andrews humor, fantastic worldbuilding and scene-stealing characters. Dina is hosting a peace summit lead by characters from another Andrews' series. I won't say who, just that my fan-self was awash in happiness. Of course, nothing goes smoothly, and Dina and her broom have a lot of cleaning up to do. And by "cleaning up" I mean "kicking ass."

Want to get caught up on SWEEP IN PEACE? Check out http://demo.ilona-andrews.com/. Then get ready to buy the ebook when it is released. The extras added to Clean Sweep were totally worth it and I anticipate the same this go round.
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