Thursday, March 27, 2008

Faeries Among Us

Rule #3: Don't stare at invisible faeries.
Aislinn has always seen faeries. Powerful and dangerous, they walk hidden in mortal world. Aislinn fears their cruelty — especially if they learn of her Sight — and wishes she were as blind to their presence as other teens.

Rule #2: Don't speak to invisible faeries.
Now faeries are stalking her. One of them, Keenan, who is equal parts terrifying and alluring, is trying to talk to her, asking questions Aislinn is afraid to answer.

Rule #1:
Don't ever attract their attention.
But it's too late. Keenan is the Summer King who has sought his queen for nine centuries. Without her, summer itself will perish. He is determined that Aislinn will become the Summer Queen at any cost — regardless of her plans or desires.

Suddenly none of the rules that have kept Aislinn safe are working anymore, and everything is on the line: her freedom; her best friend, Seth; her life; everything.

Faery intrigue, mortal love, and the clash of ancient rules and modern expectations swirl together in Melissa Marr's stunning twenty-first-century faery tale.

Title: Wicked Lovely
Author: Melissa Marr
Published: 2007
Publisher: Harper Teen
Pages: 336
Genre: Young Adult-Fantasy

Wicked Lovely is a fairy.. oops, very, special award-winning debut book for author Melissa Marr and the first book set in her fairy world. It’s a fantasy book that loosely mixes fairy folklore with a modern teenager’s life.

I love how Melissa Marr sums up the whole book in a blog interview: “It's a story about three characters who each want something. Keenan wants to find his missing Summer Queen (who happens to be a mortal); Donia wants freedom from the curse she's carrying (because of Keenan); Aislinn wants a normal life (but she sees faeries). Keenan and Donia are at odds, bound to compete to convince Aislinn to choose as they want/need. Aislinn is trying to hide the fact that she knows faeries are real. Ultimately, it's a story of choices made and un-made.”

I've always loved anything "paranormal" but faeries have fascinated me the most so when I heard about Wicked Lovely I had to pick it up. It was just as good as I thought it would be! I can’t say I would want to be able to see faeries all the time but Marr’s fairies sure do sound like they would be frighteningly beautiful.

I really liked the main character Aislinn (pronounced Ash-linn) for being such a strong character even though she has lived most of her life in fear of her “gift” (or curse, which her whole family seems to have) being discovered by the faeries because it could mean instant death. Her goth friend Seth has to be one of the most interesting humans in the book. Typical bad boy look (piercings, etc.) but totally good through and through. I loved how he was protective of her without being overbearing. Plus it takes a lot of guts to not only believe in things you can’t see but also to stand up to them.

I also liked the gritty, down-to-earth feel to the book. It reminded me a lot of Holly Black’s young adult novels about faeries and made me want to go and pick up the rest of the books I haven’t read by her yet. I’m so glad that Marr is going to continue writing about the incredible world she has created in Ink Exchange! Even though the characters from Wicked Lovely won’t be the main focus, at least the reader can get reacquainted with them.

I have found a surprising amount of interviews with Melissa Marr, including two from the blogs Cynsations and YA Authors Cafe then one from the publisher that’s mainly just about the author herself. My favorite thing though is the fansite I found that has tons of info, interviews, podcasts, contests, and more. It’s the very first one for Melissa Marr but I can see that there will more soon!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Angela Knight's Mageverse Series

American agent Erin Grayson has a new mission: romance international businessman Reece Champion. Seducing the handsome millionaire could put her that much closer to the revenge she craves against a murderous organization.

Erin doesn’t realize she’s being manipulated by the very group she hunts. Champion is actually an agent of the U. S. government.

He’s also a vampire.

Reece senses the latent supernatural powers hidden within Erin, powers as dangerously irresistible to him as her lush body and hot blood. Yet he also knows that yielding to their mutual desire will make them pawns in a deadly game- a game in which their opponent is, quite literally a monster.

To survive, Erin must embrace talents she never knew she had- and trust a man who is Master of the Night.

Title: Master of the Night
Author: Angela Knight
Series: The Mageverse
Published: 2004
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Pages: 309
Genre: Paranormal Romance

Angela Knight’s Mageverse series takes place in a fantastic fantasy world that draws upon the Arthurian legends and then twists them into something much more supernatural to say the least! Master of the Night is the first book in erotic romance author Angela Knight’s Mageverse series but technically the second story (the first is a short story in the anthology Hot Blooded called Seduction’s Gift). It features the vampire, (or Magus if you will) named Reece who must save his entire race from an ancient evil who has captured him by not having sex and thereby awakening the powers in the latent Magi (pretty much someone who can do magic) of his dreams Erin.

The Mageverse series takes place in an elaborate, complex world of supernatural beings and uses ancient Arthurian legends to elaborate the story. Arthur and his knights of the round table became vampires to protect humanity from destroying itself. The Magi (women who can do magic) feed and fight alongside the Magus (and sometimes become partners for life- like marriage with no chance for divorce ever) and the Magi in turn need the Magus to feed from them or else they can have a stroke from all the magic in their bodies. They in turn beget children who could later become Magus or Magi if the council deems them worthy. If they are turned without permission they could very well be destroyed as a safety measure (if they can’t handle the Mageverse which gives them their powers, they go insane) or as a warning.

Like I said, very elaborate and complex, also very good. Once you understand the plot (and the author lays it out as easily as she possibly can) it’s not very hard to get wrapped up in the series. Vampires, “witches,” fairies, demon-things, and others are part of this good vs. evil series. Each book (and short story) focuses on two characters and their fight against the Dark Ones and the evil they wrought. It also focuses on the main character’s love of course and they spend half of the book locked up in a cell.

I really liked Reece and Erin (although they aren’t my favorite couple from this series) and was happy with the ending. I also like how this and each subsequent book introduces the next main character during the course of the book. The major minor character Lyr (the king of the fairies) has his story told in Master of the Moon.

Diana London works hard in her day job as the city manager of a small South Carolina town. Yet she still finds time to moonlight for the Verdaville Police Department.

As a werewolf.

But while helping the police investigate a brutal murder, Diana discovers she’s not the only magical creature in town. A female vampire has also decided to make Verdaville her murderous playground. What’s worse, she has powers even Diana can’t match.

Fortunately, Diana is not the only one determined to stop her. Llyr Galatyn is the king of the Cachamwri Sidhe- a seductive otherworldly warrior with fantastic abilities. He’s sworn to hunt down the murderer, and he’s more than willing to give Diana any help she needs.

And not just with the case. Diana is in her Burning Moon, a time of sexual heat, when need rides her hard. Llyr is delighted to be the answer to her erotic prayers.

But as they hunt the vampire while desire runs hot between them, a deadly enemy urges the killer to turn her sights on Llyr. It seems Llyr isn’t only the king of the Sidhe- and his brother wants him dead.

Title: Master of the Moon
Angela Knight
Series: The Mageverse
Published: 2005
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Pages: 322
Genre: Paranormal Romance

The second official book in Angela Knight’s Mageverse series, Master of the Moon continues right where Master of the Night left off but this time the main characters are Diana London (who happens to be a werewolf- a race Merlin created for insurance if the Magi and Magus’ he created ever went bad) and Lyr Aleyn Galatyn- the King of the Fairies (seriously!).

I really liked Master of the Moon because it’s the same erotic action-packed book as the first book in the series and I like the fact that the main plot line from the last book is continued which is one of the reasons this series is so interesting to me. You get the romance but you also get a real substantial story that you can sink your teeth into too.

Although the characters from Master of the Night don’t make an appearance, other characters from short stories in anthologies Angela Knight has done do and of course so does one of the next main characters in the third book in the series, Master of Wolves. His name is Jim London and he happens to be Diana’s brother.

Officer Faith Weston, head of the K-9 department of Clarkston, has lots of experience handling dogs. Except the kind that walk on two legs- like her lewd boss. So Faith puts up a front that reads “all business”...

Jim London is outraged over the death of his friend, a fellow bounty hunter and werewolf- and thinks the police department of nearby Clarkston cooked up a phony story about Tony’s murder. The only way to find out is to go undercover. And, in his wolf form, Jim can do that better than anybody...

There’s one complication, though. The new police-dog handler, Faith Weston, is sexy enough to bring out the animal in any man...

Title: Master of Wolves
Angela Knight
Series: The Mageverse
Published: 2006
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Pages: 294
Genre: Paranormal Romance

Master of Wolves is Angela Knight’s third book in her Mageverse series and the winner of Romantic Times’ Best Werewolf Romance beating out four other werewolf paranormal’s including one by Sherrilyn Kenyon. This is the story of Jim (Diana from Master of the Moon is his sister) and how he takes on a corrupt police station (who serve one of the bad vampires c
reated in Master of the Night) with the help of the only good officer left on the force, Faith.

Although I really enjoyed this story so many of the Mageverse heroines are cops before they meet their mate it kind of makes it hard to keep the books straight but Merlin’s creatures and the latent Magi and Magus’ were born to serve and protect so it makes sense even if it can be a little confusing. What made this more distinguishable than the others is that much more time and attention are spent on explaining the werewolf race (for example: they can shapeshift into dogs) and of course the hero and heroine are up against an entire police force plus an evil vampire!

Because I sat and read the entire Mageverse series straight through I was starting to get a little sick of the sex scenes by the time I got to Master of Wolves. Thankfully there is no sex when the characters are furry but I was much more interested in catching and stopping the bad guys to really care about the romance.

Witch Lark McGuin has survived a vicious vampire attack that shook her confidence and left her struggling with feelings of helplessness and fear. The last thing she needs is a partnership with Gawain, a handsome vampire knight who means to seduce her every chance he gets.

Gawain believes he needs Lark for one thing and one thing only- and it’s not her skill with magic. In the process, he plans to help her overcome her fear and show her the pleasures to be found in a vampire’s arms.

Title: Master of Swords
Angela Knight
Series: The Mageverse
Published: 2006
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Pages: 294
Genre: Paranormal Romance

Angela Knight’s Master of Swords is the fourth book in the Mageverse series and the first one to be set primarily in the Mageverse itself. It’s also the first book whose main character is one of the original Knight’s of the Round Table (the short stories in anthologies usually feature them) i
n this case it’s Gawain and he eventually falls in love with Lark who is the great-granddaughter of another knight, Sir Tristan.

Gawain is my second favorite hero in this entire series. He’s brave, loyal, and it’s always great to see a notorious womanizer fall in love! Oh and there is a reason why this book is called Master of Swords, Gawain’s best friend was a dragon named Kel and someone changed him into a sword until he killed his friend (dragons do NOT like humans for the most part). Instead he stayed a sword for centuries linked to Gawain through some kind of mind-link thing.

A lot of the romance was put on the back-burner for this book (although Gawain and Lark certainly do sizzle) for the extremely exciting action-packed adventure. Dragons, Magus and Magi, curses, Dark Ones, steamy sex, what more could you want?

The last time fairy princess Nineva Morrow engaged in magic, evil forces rendered her an orphan—isolated and incapable of trusting in anyone's survival. But after years of hiding on Earth, she'll use her powers once more—and attract more knights than she can handle.

Now at the center of a rebellious Mageverse noble's plot and helplessly dominated by a powerful, body-possessing spirit, Nineva's only hope is the smoldering Dragon knight Kel. This renegade of Arthur's court has enough desire to burn down every door to her heart—if the surrounding forces of King Llyr would subside long enough to let him.

The survival of the Mageverse hangs in a passionate balance of entitlement and pleasure, with destruction threatening to bring an entire magical universe to it's knees...

Title: Master of Dragons
Angela Knight
Series: The Mageverse
Published: 2007
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Pages: 304
Genre: Paranormal Romance

The current book in Angela Knight’s best-selling Mageverse series, Master of Dragons picks up where Master of Swords left off but this time instead of being a witty sidekick stuck in a sword, Kel’s curse has been lifted and he’s 100% dragon again. He’s also a Knight of the Round Table now and he has to protect princess Nineva because lot’s of people are out to kill her. Can he protect her from himself?

Master of Dragons is my favorite book in the entire series! There’s less unimportant sex scenes, more adventure than any other book (the climatic battle scene is probably the best out of the entire Mageverse series), and my favorite character Kel has a starring role! He’s sexy, funny, courageous and a bit scaly at times (he is a dragon after all) and I just loved him.

I’m also pleased with the way the story arc that connects the entire series ended. I can’t wait for her to continue on with the Mageverse series. There are still so many characters that are just mentioned briefly that I would like to explore in full.

When I was reading the Mageverse series I kept referring back to this Wikipedia page about the
Knights of the Round Table and although Angela Knight did play with a lot of known history she also used some of the information provided for her characters based on Arthurian legends. I also stumbled upon several interviews with Ms. Knight all over the internet: this 2006 interview with Paranormal Romance talks about several of her Mageverse books, A fun Vamps and Scamps interview in 2007, an RBL 2005 interview, and this interesting short interview with Penguins Group.

I also found a video interview with her too (pay no attention to the chick in the hat):

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Song and Dance Romance

Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra team up in this frothy confection of two sailors on leave in Hollywood, with gawky, shy, young Clarence Doolittle (Sinatra) tagging along with his worldly buddy "Sea Wolf" Joseph Brady (Kelly), who promises to show him the ropes. Sinatra croons "I Fall in Love Too Easily" and "What Makes the Sunset," chirpy co-star Kathryn Grayson sings "All of a Sudden My Heart Sings," classical pianist José Iturbi provides a little highbrow interlude, and Gene Kelly dances with cartoon mouse Jerry (of Tom and Jerry fame). Somewhere in the midst of this, little Dean Stockwell makes his film debut as “Aunt Susie’s” nephew who melts the heart of self-centered Kelly. This big-budget Technicolor extravaganza, directed by MGM stalwart and musical specialist George Sidney (Show Boat, Kiss Me Kate), was one of the studio's biggest hits in 1945.

Title: Anchors Aweigh
Release: July 14, 1945
Genre: Musical-Comedy
MPAA Rating: G
Writer: Natalie Marcin (story) & Isobel Lennart
Director: George Sidney
Produced By: Joe Pasternak
Distributed By: MGM
Run Time: 143 minutes

Anchors Aweigh is a charming, Academy award-winning musical/romantic comedy that stars two of Hollywood’s greatest men: Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra in their first film appearance together although it certainly wasn’t their last! Because Sinatra and Kelly were such giants in the movie and music business, their co-star (and love interest in the film) Kathryn Grayson could have easily been overshadowed but she held her own with both her acting and singing abilities (although I really don't care for that operatic style) but the kings of dance and croon do dominate the film and is what you remember from it later.

I just loved this musical! It was the first time I had ever seen Frank Sinatra in a film before. Boy, was I shocked at how young he looks but he still has a gorgeous voice. You can tell that Gene can dance better than Frank and that Frank can sing much better than Gene. Which is why there are only a few musical numbers with them together but the ones there are happen to be some of my favorites in the film.

This is a musical filled with duets, dances, and incredibly music sequences but the one that really stands out in the whole picture is Gene Kelly's dance with Jerry the mouse because it's amazing and it really looks like they're interacting with one another. Although it wasn't really necessary for the story, it became the most famous part of the whole film! Jerry’s part was originally supposed to be Donald Duck (or Mickey Mouse as some stories go) but Disney decided against it which really is a shame! I thought Jerry became quite the little dancer with Kelly's help and if by the end of this great film you aren’t saying, “Look at me, I’m dancin’!” I’d be completely amazed.

As usual, Wikipedia and have wonderful, informative articles on this film but by far has the most interesting ones including a complete script of the film and publicity photos.


"I Begged Her":

Gene and Jerry:

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Mysterious Story Inside a Story

When Margaret Lea opened the door to the past, what she confronted was her destiny.

All children mythologize their birth... So begins the prologue of reclusive author Vida Winter's collection of stories, which are as famous for the mystery of the missing thirteenth tale as they are for the delight and enchantment of the twelve that do exist.

The enigmatic Winter has spent six decades creating various outlandish life histories for herself -- all of them inventions that have brought her fame and fortune but have kept her violent and tragic past a secret. Now old and ailing, she at last wants to tell the truth about her extraordinary life. She summons biographer Margaret Lea, a young woman for whom the secret of her own birth, hidden by those who loved her most, remains an ever-present pain. Struck by a curious parallel between Miss Winter's story and her own, Margaret takes on the commission.

As Vida disinters the life she meant to bury for good, Margaret is mesmerized. It is a tale of gothic strangeness featuring the Angelfield family, including the beautiful and willful Isabelle, the feral twins Adeline and Emmeline, a ghost, a governess, a topiary garden and a devastating fire.

Margaret succumbs to the power of Vida's storytelling but remains suspicious of the author's sincerity. She demands the truth from Vida, and together they confront the ghosts that have haunted them while becoming, finally, transformed by the truth themselves.

The Thirteenth Tale is a love letter to reading, a book for the feral reader in all of us, a return to that rich vein of storytelling that our parents loved and that we loved as children. Diane Setterfield will keep you guessing, make you wonder, move you to tears and laughter and, in the end, deposit you breathless yet satisfied back upon the shore of your everyday life.

Title: The Thirteenth Tale
Author: Diane Setterfield
Published: 2007
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Pages: 406
Genre: Suspense-Gothic Literature

British author Diane Setterfield’s debut novel, The Thirteenth Tale is a gothic suspense story t
hat has a classic literature feel to it (kind of like Rebecca or Jane Eyre which is mentioned quite a few times throughout the course of the story) and has almost overnight became a best-selling book.

I finally read The Thirteenth Tale not only because it was the February group read for my
Bookcrossing Reading Group but because I've heard so many positive things about it. Besides, it was a story about stories, it couldn't possibly be bad! It more than lived up to my puny expectations! I was hoping I would like it, but I never expected to love it.

One of the things that I liked was how everything in the book had a personality, story, and secret- even the inanimate things like the two main houses-Angelfield and Ms. Winter's home. Angelfield is a beautiful house on
the outside (even if it looks like it’s giving you the cold shoulder) but dirty and decrepit on the inside just like all of it's inhabitants except John-the-dig and the Missus. Ms. Winter's home is scarily oppressive but the gardens are beautiful if maze-like in their randomness. Miss Winter herself is pretty much the same. Beautiful, interesting, but still secretive and reclusive.

The characters are unique and contemporary but at the same time, old- fashioned; especially Ms. Vida Winter and Margaret, which is the main reason why it’s hard to pin-point exactly what year the story is set in! I loved
the mystery at the center of the book and how I wasn’t quite sure what to believe but I never had the slightest inkling of what was really going on. Which is why when I finished it I really wanted to go back and re-read it again!

The Thirteenth Tale has it’s own official website. Barnes and Noble has two interviews with Diane Setterfield, one audio and one text and the publisher website has special note from the author and recipes.

Interview with Setterfield:

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The World’s Favorite Musical

Comedy, romance, great musical numbers, stars at their best and a fond recreation of a bygone movie making era: Singin' in the Rain has so much that it ranked a lofty 10th on the American Film Institute's 100 Best American Films list. Silents are giving way to Talkies—and matinee idol (Gene Kelly) is caught in that bumpy transition, as well as his buddy (Donald O'Connor), prospective ladylove (Debbie Reynolds) and shrewish co-star (Jean Hagen). Singin' in the Rain is pure singin', dancin' laughin', lovin', moviewatchin' joy.

Title: Singin’ in the Rain
Release: March 27, 1952
Genre: Musical-Comedy Romance
MPAA Rating: G
Writer: Betty Comden & Adolph Green
Director: Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly
Produced By: Arthur Freed
Distributed By: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Run Time: 103 min.

Rated the #1 musical by the American Film Institute and nominated for two Academy Awards, Singin’ in the Rain is probably one of the most well-known musical ever made. It stars Debbie Reynolds, the hilarious Donald O’Connor, and Gene Kelly in his most famous role ever.

I’ve always loved a good musical and Singin’ in the Rain definitely fits the bill! It was a bit over the top in some places but I still really liked it for the most part. I would have enjoyed it a whole lot more if certain numbers would have been cut though. My favorites were Singing in the Rain (of course), Good Morning, and Make ‘Em Laugh. I also really liked the dance numbers for Moses Supposes and Fit as a Fiddle.

Just about everyone today knows who Gene Kelly is even if they have never seen any of his work and this film has a lot to do with that. Although I adore Kelly and always will I have to say his co-star Donald O’Connor really caught my eye! From what I’ve seen, not too many actors can keep up with Mr. Gene Kelly but O’Connor does! I was also impressed by the fact Debbie Reynolds never had any training in dancing but she still makes it look almost effortless (although later she revealed that it was the hardest thing she had ever done and Fred Astaire himself helped her).

The whole film is funny, sweet, and altogether wonderful! It essentially parodies the panic of Tinseltown once the “talkie” film revolution came and how all the studios handled this major turning point in film history. Because of this, the film seems to lose it’s train of thought in a couple of spots (like in the very colorful Gotta Dance) but it always finds it’s way back to the love story at it’s center.

Wikipedia and have really great articles on Singin’ in the Rain but I really enjoyed this fan site that has a walk-through of the film with trivia. There are also tons of interesting video interviews and movie clips on the musical at


Title Song:

Make 'Em Laugh:

Monday, March 10, 2008

A Dark, Fathomless Love

Neely Wallace thought she had found the perfect lover. Aidan Tremayne was both angel and devil, as tender and sensitive as he was powerfully erotic. Then she learned the secret that tormented his soul... Aidan was cursed with the dark gift of immortality. His passion for a mortal woman was forbidden, a reckless temptation that fired the hunger within ... and threatened to destroy them both.

Title: Forever and the Night
Author: Linda Lael Miller
Series: Vampire, Book 1
Published: 1993
Publisher: Berkley Publishing
Pages: 338
Genre: Paranormal-Romance

Romance is something that author
Linda Lael Miller is an old hand at but she ventured into a new realm of forbidden love with Forever and the Night, the first book in her vampire series. She claims that after reading several vampire stories (like Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles) she “wanted to write about such dramatic creatures” because they are “dark and mysterious, yet sensual, too”. I believe that Ms. Miller achieved her goal with this enthralling, yet very down-to-earth story.

Like most writers of vampire tales, there are a couple of borrowed ideas in the book about vampires that are situated firmly into the public’s mind like the drinking of blood, sleeping through the lethal day, immortality, etc. but I’ve found that vampire fiction is best when the writer brings her own version to the table. Linda Lael Miller’s vampires are no different. Not only can they vanish at will, communicate mentally with other vampires, read human minds, oh and the coolest thing: they can travel through time!

I was a little disappointed that the time travel wasn’t used more often but it was still a good story although I admit, a little corny at times. Neely was a great heroine that reacts the same way many real women would in her shoes and I found myself liking her spirit. I also liked Aidan even though he was more than a little different from what I normally am used to vampire-wise. There are usually a few vampires in fiction that hate what they are but I’ve never heard of being able to revert back to their original human form before like Aidan wants to (vampirism was created on Atlantica).

There are also a few intriguing minor characters in the book like Aidan’s “friend” Valerian and his twin sister, Maeve. I’m looking forward to reading their stories in
Linda Lael Miller’s other books that make up this series.

Vampire Series:

  • Forever and the Night
  • For All Eternity
  • Time Without End
  • Tonight and Always

Saturday, March 8, 2008

An Anthology of Dark Fantasy

On the make. On the scent. On the edge.
On the prowl…

Alpha and Omega by Patricia Briggs
The werewolf Anna finds a new sense of self when the son of the werewolf king comes to town to quell unrest in the Chicago pack-and inspires a power in Anna she’s never felt before.

Inhuman by Eileen Wilks
Kai has a secret gift of sensing thoughts and desires. What she senses in her neighbor Nathan could be dangerous. Because he has a secret gift too, and it’s about to be let loose…

Buying Trouble by Karen Chance
A Lord of the Fey crosses paths with a fiery red-headed mage named Claire in a New York auction house. But in this strange underground society, the rarity up for sale is Claire herself.

Mona Lisa Betwining by Sunny
Among the children of the moon, Mona Lisa is of mixed blood-part Monère, part human, and destined to be alone. Until she meets a man who could be her salvation-or her downfall.

Title: On the Prowl (anthology)
Author: Patricia Briggs, Eileen Wilks, Karen Chance, Sunny
Published: 2007
Publisher: Berkley Publishing
Pages: 341
Genre: Anthology-Paranormal Romance-Urban Fantasy, Adventure

The anthology On the Prowl includes a story from the best-selling author of the Mercedes Thompson series, Patricia Briggs as well as stories by Eileen Wilks, Karen Chance, and Sunny all whose characters dwell in paranormal/fantasy worlds where dragons, werewolves, or even Fey could very well be your neighbors.

Alpha and Omega is a short story that takes place in the world of
Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series during or soon after the first book, Moon Called but Mercy herself is never mentioned. This is the story of the Morok’s (leader of the werewolves) son and “hitman” Charles and how he meets Anna while investigating the Chicago pack.

The whole reason I picked up this anthology in the first place was because of how much I liked Briggs’ writing style and Charles’ half-brother Samuel is a recurring character in the Mercy series but little is mentioned of Charles himself so I was interested in finding out more about him. I also really liked Anna because she was such a strong character and refused to be continue being a victim.

There are a few references to things that happened in the original series but there aren’t any big spoilers and I believe that this story could be read on its own. Charles and Anna’s first complete book , called Cry Wolf will be out this August, hopefully it will continue into a series as well.

Eileen Wilks is the author of the second short story called Inhuman and it is the sixth story in her World of the Lupi series, most of which are available in other anthologies. The WotL takes place in an earth very similar to ours except it’s populated with people who are “Gifted” because of the “power winds” and “nodes”. Of course there are regular people too and people who aren’t even from this world!

I have never read anything by Ms. Wilks before but I found the story itself very intriguing. There was a lot of interesting world-building but unfortunately, it was also way too complex for a short story. You’re left with a bit of a cliffhanger and it also doesn’t really explain some things either. More like the author realized that her story was the longest in the book and tried to wrap it up as quickly as possible. I was left with the feeling that she decided to just set up for the next story with Kia and Nathan in it called Night Season and ultimately let this one become unraveled in places.

The third story in the book is called Buying Trouble by Karen Chance. Magic null Claire knows her life sucks, her whole family (what’s left of it) wants her dead or sold (nulls can be killed and harvested) but she soon finds out that there is more to herself than she originally thought when she and a Fey named Heider are accidentally transported into a hostile part of Faerie.

Karen Chance seems like she’s a fairly new author whose Cassandra Palmer series have recently become best-sellers but I’ve actually never heard of her before now. However, her story was the second best story in the anthology. The characters had so much personality (especially Claire!) and the worlds that the story is set in are full of Sidhe, dragons, werewolves, mages, etc. I wouldn’t mind visiting again if Ms. Chance decided to set another novel in those worlds... I just wouldn’t want to live there!

Author Sunny’s (no last name) Mona Lisa Betwining is a dark fantasy, erotic romance and it’s the last short story in On the Prowl. It’s also the fourth story in her Monére, Children of the Moon series. The Monére are supernatural creatures, mostly shapeshifters who are “descended from the moon” and take power from it as well. Mona Lisa is a Queen (there seem to be many of them) who is a half Monére, half human and she has to go to the High Court with her men about things that happened in previous novels.

Being the last story in the anthology, you would expect that it would be really good (most authors and publishers like to leave you with a high note) but you cannot really understand too much of Mona Lisa Betwining unless you’ve read the other books in the series. Not only do they constantly refer back to things that happened previous to this story but also it seems like you’re expected to know about them (the Monére themselves aren’t even explained very well). Not very friendly to a first-time reader of Sunny’s work like myself. I did like what I understood though and I’m considering trying to get the first couple of books in the series.

For an anthology, On the Prowl has a surprising amount of information available online! The first author
Patricia Briggs comments on her story Alpha and Omega here on her website. To view a complete list of her works, check out the Wikipedia article. Eileen Wilks talks more about her World of the Lupi series in this interview, she has a Wikipedia article with her complete bibliography too. The third author, Karen Chance has an excerpt of her story on her website and this interview explains what her other series is about. This interview with Sunny helped me understand the background of her Mona Lisa series better.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Ice Queen’s Story

Behind her mask is a deadly secret...

The powerful head of the covert mercenary organization The Committee, Isobel Lambert is a sleek, sophisticated professional who comes into contact with some of the most dangerous people in the world. But beneath Isobel’s cool exterior a ghost exists, haunting her with memories of another life...a life that ended long ago.

But Isobel’s past and present are about to collide when Serafin, mercenary, assassin and the most dangerous man in the world, makes a deal with The Committee. Seventeen years ago Isabel shot him and left him for dead. Now it looks as if he’s tracked her down for revenge. But Isobel knows all too well that looks can be deceiving...and that’s what she’s counting on to keep her cover in this international masquerade of murder.

Title: Ice Storm
Author: Anne Stuart
Series: The Ice Series
Published: 2007
Publisher: MIRA books
Pages: 347
Genre: Romantic Suspense

In Ice Storm; the current book in
Anne Stuart’s extremely romantic and suspenseful Ice series, the entire Committee and all it’s operatives are in danger but especially the head of the organization Isobel Lambert. If she can survive the assassination attempts, she may just lose her heart.

Each book in Anne Stuart’s series focuses on a cold-blooded member of the Committee (which is an organization that keeps bad guys trying to create global annihilation or domination) and their current mission where they meet the woman (or in this case man) who melts their heart. Because of this, some of the Committee’s best operatives started retiring leaving them short-handed which in turn is why Lambert was in the field in the first place.

I have to say that Ice Storm is truly my favorite book in the Ice series so far (although I have a feeling that will change when Reno’s story Fire and Ice comes out). All of the Committee members that I know and love from the previous books come back to help take out the threat (except Takashi who sends his cousin Reno in his place). Plus there are nail-biting moments when you aren’t sure if everyone will survive and well-written flash-back sequences where you get to know the mysterious Madame Lambert and who she used to be until she met a man named Killian who changed the course of her life.

Although there isn’t that much I could find on Ice Storm other than reviews,
Wikipedia has a complete listing of all her books and MIRA has a list of them too as well as an interview and Fun Facts about the author.

The Ice Series:

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Three Cheers for Pooh

In 1926, Winnie-the-Pooh, a collection of stories about a rather stout, somewhat confused bear, was published in England and America. The enchanting tales of Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, Christopher Robin, and the others were an immediate success, and firmly established A. A. Milne, already an acclaimed dramatist, as a major author of children's books.

Ernest H. Shepard's brilliant illustrations were based on real toys owned by Milne's son Christopher Robin. The artist visited Cotchford Farm, the Milne country home in Sussex, where he sketched the child, the stuffed animals, and the surrounding countryside.

The world of Winnie-the-Pooh is as popular today as when it was first created. The book has appeared in twenty-one languages, among them Hebrew, Afrikaans, Esperanto, and Latin.

Here are the beloved stories of Pooh stuck in Rabbit's doorway, of gloomy Eeyore and his nearly forgotten birthday, of playing Poohsticks on the bridge and so many more. Elegant yet simple, whimsical yet wise, these classic stories shall forever be treasured.

Title: Winnie the Pooh
Author: A. A. Milne
Illustrator: E. H. Shepard
Published: 1926
Publisher: Methuen & Co. Ltd.
Pages: 192
Genre: Children-Classics

A. A. Milne’s stories about a chubby little stuffed bear named Winnie the Pooh have been favorites of children and adults alike ever since they were first published over 80 years ago as stories in a newspaper. After so many people expressed such interest in Milne’s characters he wrote more and then adapted his already published stories into one book.

Pooh’s stories continued in The House at Pooh Corner and they have been adapted as Disney movies such as well. The Disney Company has produced tons of movies and cartoons that feature Pooh and his friends like The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and just about every other has some basis on the original material.

For some reason I had never read any of A. A. Milne’s books but I was still familiar with all of the Pooh stories because of the Disney adaptations. I really liked the author’s writing styles but I guess I’m so spoiled on the versions of his characters that I kept finding their personalities odd. They aren’t all sweet, cuddly characters, sometimes they’re almost like little children themselves. Especially Pooh and Piglet!

A man named E. H. Shepard had done some illustration work before for Mr. Milne so he got the job of doing the artwork for Winnie the Pooh, making him one of the most famous children’s illustrators ever. As with every hugely successful artist though, he never was able to get away from his creation and it overshadowed all of his other work. We actually have him to thank for the Disney version of Pooh and his friends we all know and love today.

Wikipedia has great articles on the book, author, and the character of Pooh himself. I found a fan page that has many links to various Pooh subjects like a virtual tour of the real Poohsticks Bridge, games, wallpapers, and biographies of the author and illustrator. This is the complete book and I wrote a post on the Disney movie The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh over on my other site.

Search This Blog