March 31, 2009

Tuesday Giggles: Yo La Tengo Version

Man, I love this song. And this band. DH informs me that Yo La Tengo is the band I need to see live next. After watching this video, I completely agree. It's to do with the awesome.

Blue Diablo Giveaway Winner

Congrats to Christine! You were the randomly selected winner of the copy of BLUE DIABLO. Please contact azteclady1 at gmail dot com with your mailing info. 

March 30, 2009

Blue Diablo Virtual Tour: Special Guest Ann Aguirre (+ Giveaway!)

If you've been following this blog, you'll know I've become a big Ann Aguirre fan over the past year. I fell in love with her Sirantha Jax books and can hardly wait to get my hands on the third installment, Doubleblind, due out in September. What's even more exciting, though, is the release of the first book in Ms. Aguirre's new Corine Solomon series. Here to celebrate the upcoming release of Blue Diablo, I'm tickled pink to welcome Ann Aguirre!

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“Bacon is not a snack food”, and other truths

Read that title. Do you agree? Or would you fry up a skillet full of bacon if you had the munchies? (If that’s true, I can only say, dude, you must’ve been a trip when you were stoned.) But I digress.

The only person (is my a dog a person? She occasionally wears a sweater, so you decide) I know who thinks of bacon as a snack is my dog, Daisy. And she doesn’t get actual bacon, but treats that look and smell like bacon and come from the pet food section of our local grocery store. And yet, my dog will do damn near anything for a bacon treat. I think she would bark the Star Spangled banner for a Beggin’ Strip.

Where are you going with this, you might ask, and rightfully so. See, in some respects, writers are an awful lot like my dog. We will do damn near anything to get our books in the hands of readers. For most of us, it’s not about ego or getting to swan around conferences with our “professional author” badges on. We just love to tell stories, but if you don’t have anyone to read your work, it’s… lonely.

Writing harks back to the oral tradition that came before. Once, bards were very honored in our history. They carried the news from place to place; they decided what stories would be remembered. Gradually, as we developed more sophistication as a society, we started jotting our best tales down. And a new tradition arose. In the old days, a writer needed a patron to keep from starving while he worked.

Now, the system functions a bit differently. But we are still eager for patrons. We are still eager to hear from readers that we touched or moved them. Heck, I would settle for knowing that I made someone smile with something I wrote. I cherish every email I receive because it took me so very long to get my books in the hands of readers.

With the release of Blue Diablo, I’ve achieved another dream—publishing in the genre of urban fantasy, like Charles de Lint, Simon Green and Jim Butcher. I don’t claim my work is on par with theirs, but perhaps you will be kind enough to let me entertain you. So in conclusion, maybe bacon (the bacon of getting our books in your hands – it’s a metaphor! Work with me, people) is not a snack, but it’s definitely a treat.

What are some your favorite books? And why? Which ones do you reread for comfort, and which ones would you never reread, despite your enjoyment? A random commenter will win a free copy of Blue Diablo

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Thank you so much Ann! Please make sure to leave a valid email address in your comment so we can contact the winner of the giveaway.

March 27, 2009

Monday Guest & Giveaway

Just a quick reminder that the lovely Ann Aguirre will be here guest blogging on Monday. She will also be giving away a copy of her upcoming release Blue Diablo to one lucky commenter! So be sure to stop in and say hi. 

March 26, 2009

A Poisoned Season by Tasha Alexander

This second installment in the Lady Emily Ashton mystery series definitely exceeded my expectations. I ended up rather underwhelmed by the first book. Nevertheless, I was willing to move forward, hoping things would pick up substantially in the second. And by "things" I mean plotline, character development, chemistry between principals...pretty much the whole shebang. Good news is--they did. Quite a bit, in fact. And I'm still trying to decide whether I adjusted to the world and writing style or if they gussied up a bit. Either way A Poisoned Season  was a very enjoyable read. 

Emily leaves her beloved Greece reluctantly, returning home to England for the dreaded Season. Now that she's a couple of years into her widowhood, Emily couldn't possibly care less about the endless winings and dinings, myriad marriage brokerings, and insipid social maneuverings that consume the London aristocracy for months on end. The string of cards and parties is spiced up a bit, however, by a series of burglaries--all of them items once owned by the late Marie Antoinette. When her friend Cecile's diamond earrings are stolen from Emily's own home, she becomes interested in investigating. Matters become a little more personal when the thief reveals a tendresse for Emily herself, stealing in and out of her home at will, leaving love letters and fragments of poems penned in ancient Greek. Meanwhile, Margaret has taken up with a duke, Colin is involved investigating a pretender to the defunct throne of France, and Emily's mother is determined to see Emily married again before the Season's end. 

I thought things came together much more seamlessly in this story than in the first. Emily is much more sure of herself and less and less interested in what others think of her. It was a pleasure to watch her flaunt stuffy society matrons and their catty gossip in favor of learning Greek,  investigating crime, and deepening her friendship with the ever-openminded agent of the crown--Colin Hargreaves. I like how Colin never once forces Emily to do anything. I like how Emily very sensibly waits to make any permanent changes to her life before she knows her own mind on the matter. Where And Only to Deceive made me want to pull out my copy of The Iliad and settle in, A Poisoned Season sent me into a French Revolution phase, digging out my battered A Tale of Two Cities, as the mystery centers around the exiled French royal family, the life of Marie Antoinette, and the political machinations of the beleaguered Republic. This one had a delicious ending and left me eager for the next one.

March 24, 2009

And Only to Deceive by Tasha Alexander

I must confess. I feel a little bad about my relationship with Lady Emily Ashton. I came across her adventures in the wake of LadyJulia Grey's escapades and I fear I won't be able to do Emily justice, that she will always be overshadowed by Julia. And, um, Brisbane. Do not mistake me. I like Colin Hargreaves very much. He is a delight and I hope Emily never throws him over. But he's not....well. He's not Brisbane. There. I've said it. We can move on. If you haven't guessed by now, And Only to Deceive is the first in Tasha Alexander's series of Victorian mysteries featuring Lady Emily Ashton. A series that has a fair bit in common with Deanna Raybourn's Julia Grey novels. 

Emily, like Julia, is made a young and rather sudden widow at the start of the story. The thing is, she never much cared for poor, dead Philip. He was simply a way of escaping her overbearing mother. To the cynical Emily, he represented the lesser of all the evils courting her. After his death, however, Emily is shocked to discover her husband was wildly, irrevocably in love with her and she had no idea. Through his journals, letters, and stories told by his closest friends, she comes to know and love her late husband. As she embarks on a study of ancient Greek language and sculpture (in memory of Philip who was something of an afficionado), Emily becomes involved in a ring of forgeries leading back to Philip and his friends. It seems she has a few more things left to learn about the man she married.

The best thing about And Only to Deceive is the wonderful immersion in all things Greek. I was instantly taken back to my history of civ classes and what a wonderful experience I had reading The Iliad for the first time. Emily, too, had the good sense to prefer Hector to Achilles. I thoroughly enjoyed watching Emily fall in love with her husband and struggle with the fact of coming to know him secondhand and all too late. I loved the way she embraced the life of the scholar as a tribute to him and how she tried to move on despite the ever-constricting mourning requirements imposed on all sides. Unfortunately, her loyal love for her husband soon becomes a bit ridiculous as it is clear he is dead and was not, perhaps, the capital fellow his friends made him out to be. Emily also suffers a few TSTL moments with regards to the merits of her two suitors as well as her endeavors to unmask the villain. As a result, I grew a bit impatient on the whole. Not enough to deter me from the next installment, as I did enjoy many things about this light and charming mystery. Here's hoping things pick up a bit in the next one. 

March 23, 2009

A Map of the Known World by Lisa Ann Sandell

A big thanks to Scholastic for sending me an advanced copy of Lisa Ann Sandell's A Map of the Known World. Ever since I read and loved Sandell's Song of the Sparrow, I have been eager to see what she would write next. I knew it would probably be something quite different. It both was and it wasn't. Where Song of the Sparrow was an Arthurian novel in verse told from the perspective of Elaine of Ascolat, A Map of the Known World is a contemporary prose novel about a girl named Cora's struggle in the wake of her brother's death. What they share is a young woman's attempt to make sense of (and leave her mark on) the changing world around her.

Cora's brother Nate died in a car crash six months ago. And Cora's been on her own ever since. Grief inhabits all corners of her world now. Her parents effectively collapsed in on themselves after Nate's death, her best friend doesn't know how to talk to her anymore, and Cora is afraid she will forever be known as the little sister of that boy who died. As she prepares to start high school, Cora desperately hopes the horrible stasis she's been existing in will somehow change. Any change will do, really. But one for the better would be nice. Change comes in the form of Damian Archer--her brother's best friend, the boy who was in the car with Nate when it crashed, and the one person everyone blames for Nate's untimely death. Damian gifts Cora with a wealth of unknown details about her brother and unwittingly gives her the key to changing her life. 

This is a story about grief, art, family, and first love. It is a story filled with sadness and Sandell balances this by weaving in those moments of breathless understanding and discovery that only come when one is fifteen. I liked Cora. I found her incredibly strong for being able to withstand her parents' suffocating despair, her friend's gradual defection, and the painful realization that she didn't really know her brother at all. Sandell's storytelling is meticulous and genuine. And it was so refreshing to read about an adolescent girl who seems utterly normal, yet so intent on seeing her world clearly. Cora is definitely fifteen and impressionable. She thinks and talks like a fifteen-year-old, squeeing and ranting at all the appropriate times. Yet she is not content with mundanity. She strives for something more. It was a pleasure to spend time with her (and Damian) and, once again, I look forward to reading whatever Ms. Sandell writes next. 

March 18, 2009

Angel's Blood by Nalini Singh

This book won out on the most likely to pull me out of my slump query. I do think it did the trick as I've read two more since and seem to be moving on. So thanks, guys. I was in dire straits. Prior to reading Angel's Blood, I was a Nalini Singh virgin. I'd heard nothing but good, but just never found myself in the mood for paranormal romance. My feelings on the genre are unsurprisingly similar to Thea's. However, this book, the first in Singh's new Guild Hunter series, is being billed as urban fantasy, which made it seem more palatable and like a good place to start. It does have several of my favorite urban fantasy characteristics. Kick-A** heroine, deadly vamps of the non-sparkly variety, strong world building, etc. But. As Thea points out, it remains a paranormal romance at heart. So if extremely heated situations make you cringe, giggle, or otherwise react unfavorably (as they do me), tread lightly here. 

Elena Devereaux is a vampire hunter. She's what is known as hunter-born and so it's not just her job. It's her calling. She could no more walk away from it than she could sprout wings and fly. Elena belongs to the Hunter's Guild and, as such, is hired out to those willing to pay to have an expert hunt, capture, and/or kill rogue vampires. In this world, vampires aren't the top man on the totem pole. That honor belongs to the angels. Specifically, the archangels. Archangels rule the world and, get this, they create vampires. Who are then at their beck and call for at least a hundred years of servitude. The vampires are pretty much evil incarnate, but interestingly enough, the angels are not their polar opposites, i.e. paragons of virtue and goodness. In fact, they're sort of outside the whole good vs. evil spectrum. They run the show. They use who and what they need to to keep the vampires and humans in line and, if you value your life, you stay out of their way. Life spices up for Elena when Raphael, the Archangel of New York, enlists her services to hunt down a rogue Archangel who has done the unthinkable and become a vampire himself. 

Here's the thing about Angel's Blood. It grew on me more after I finished it than it did while I was actually reading it. While I was reading it I spent a fair bit of time on the fence. Since finishing, I've found myself thinking about it throughout the day, wondering what will happen next and what the characters I particularly liked are getting up to in my absence. That's a pretty good sign, after the fact, I have to say. I had two main issues with the story, the romance and the backstory. I love me a good antihero so Raphael was right up my alley. So much so that I wanted his gradual transformation to something resembling something human to be even more gradual so that I could savor the process. And while I'm a big fan of protracted tension between the two main characters, this one tended heavily toward the sexual variety and I tend to like mine a little more cerebral. I kept wishing Elena and Raphael would wrangle a little more over the differences in their species and background and a little less over their mutual desire to jump the other's bones. Similarly I liked Elena, but I really wanted more on her backstory to push that like over to love. There are all kinds of hints at a dark past and I felt like a little more reveal earlier would come in handy sympathizing with her position in the present and understanding where she's coming from. That said, I still think this was a good place to start and I'm glad I read it. I'll be picking up the sequel to find out what happens to Elena and Raphael (and Ilium and Dmitri--love those two). 

Linkage

March 16, 2009

Rated E for Everyone

Awhile back the Ink Mage put together a delightful post entitled, "Books I'd Recommend to Anyone."  I enjoyed reading through it so much I decided to slap together a similar list of my own. It's rather nice to have a list of books in various genres that you feel comfortable pressing on almost anybody. This list does not encompass all of my favorites, but these are the ones I hand out indiscriminately.












Fantasy
The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander









Sci Fi/Post Apocalyptic/Dystopian
Doomsday Book by Connie Willis











Urban Fantasy























Mystery
Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart

March 13, 2009

FABulous

Jackie over at Literary Escapism has gifted Angieville with this FABulous award. Literary Escapism is a daily stop for me and Jackie keeps it chock full of good info, reviews, recommendations, and updates from around the web. So thanks for the award!  I'm supposed to list five things I am obsessed with and/or addicted to. I asked DH what he would list if asked what I was obsessed with. His response: "You're not a particularly obsessive person." And I guess he's pretty much right about that. The only thing I really obsess about is books. So this will be a list of five book-related things I currently think about WAY too much.


2. How Diana Peterfreund's Ivy League series is going to end. Tap & Gown comes out in just over two months and I am seriously concerned cautiously optimistic.

3. Book release dates. I keep a list of everything I'm looking forward to. I add to and modify it on what is probably a daily basis. I have chosen to believe I am not the only one who does this and am, therefore, Not Crazy. I am, rather, organized in my obsession.

4. Matched sets. I am a lover of new covers, old covers, covers tattered and torn. But I love them in sets. This obsession will often earn me the Incredulous Look from my husband. "You know, you do already own that series. You do know that. Don't you?" I know, babe. I know.

5. Supplying my people with the books that they need. Whether or not they know they need them. I have several long-suffering friends and family members who have stacks of books I have pressed upon them. Fortunately, they indulge me. They read them. Sometimes they love them. Then I get to do the happy dance.

So. There you have it. I get to pass the award on to five of my favorite FABulous blogs. So here you go guys. Since you are all so great, you may have already received this. That's cool. You get it again. Me and My BooksBookshelves of DoomEveryday ReadingTempting Persephone, andThe YA YA YAs. Thanks for all the good reads and good laughs. 

March 11, 2009

"Chrissy, bring me the big knife!"

Much like Ronny Cammareri in Moonstruck, I appear to be floundering. Having finished my Megan Whalen Turner orgy fest, I find myself in the old familiar place. Stop-starting book after book. Unable to commit. I figure I'd better ask for some help before my status gets upgraded to critical. So now's the time. The suggestion box is open. I need your very best, guaranteed to bring you out of any slump, recalled to life books. Cause, seriously, I'm starting to lose it. 

March 10, 2009

A few Pretties to look forward to

Sevenwaters Sequels

Good news all you Sevenwaters fans. The folks at Writer Unboxed revealed that Juliet Marillier has sold two new Sevenwaters books! The first of the two books is titled SONG OF THE ISLAND and features druids, Vikings, and a familiar medieval Ireland setting. I just knew Heir to Sevenwaters wouldn't be the last word. 

Thanks to Li for the heads up!

March 9, 2009

Blue Diablo Blowout and Guest Blog



The countdown to Ann Aguirre's new Corine Solomon series is on. Blue Diablo is due out April 7th and I am very pleased to announce that as part of the celebrations Ms. Aguirre will be making a stop here at Angieville as part of her Virtual Tour! Make sure to stop by on March 30th to catch her guest blog. Here is the official blurb:

Right now, I’m a redhead. I’ve been blonde and brunette as the situation requires, though an unscheduled color change usually means relocating in the middle of the night. So far, I’m doing well here. Nobody knows what I’m running from. And I’d like to keep it that way…

Eighteen months ago, Corine Solomon crossed the border to Mexico City, fleeing her past, her lover, and her “gift”. Corine, a handler, can touch something and know its history—and sometimes, its future. Using her ability, she can find the missing—and that’s why people never stop trying to find her. People like her ex, Chance…

Chance, whose uncanny luck has led him to her doorstep, needs her help. Someone dear to them both has gone missing in Laredo, Texas, and the only hope of finding her is through Corine’s gift. But their search may prove dangerous as the trail leads them into a strange dark world of demons and sorcerers, ghosts and witchcraft, zombies—and black magic…

And here is the complete list of stops on the tour:

Blue Diablo Virtual Tour:
Guest blog & ARC giveaway at Novel Thoughts — February 25
Guest blog & ARC giveaway at Romance Bookwyrm — March 4
Guest blog & ARC giveaway at The Book Smugglers — March 11
Guest blog at Jennifer’s Random Musings — March 25
Guest blog at Magical Musings — March 26
Guest blog at SciFi Chick — March 27
Guest blog at Angieville — March 30
Interview at Lurve a la Mode — March 31
Guest blog at Babbling about Books — April 1
Guest blog at Fantasy Cafe — April 2
Guest blog at Stacy’s Place on Earth — April 3
Interview at Confessions of a Romance Addict — April 6
Guest blog at The Book Smugglers — April 7
Guest blog at Writer Unboxed — April 7
Interview at Cynthia Eden’s blog — April 8
Guest blog at The Thrillionth Page — April 9
Guest blog at Reading Adventures — April 10
Guest blog at Urban Fantasy Land — April 13
Guest blog at The Book Binge — April 14
Guest blog at Ramblings on Romance — April 15
Guest blog at Fantasy Debut — April 16
Guest blog at The Discriminating Fangirl — April 17
Guest blog at Cubie’s Confections — April 20


Ann is also currently running a Blue Diablo Blowout Contest on her blog with prizes including Amazon giftcards, free copies of the new book, etc. So head on over to check that out.

March 6, 2009

The First Third Damar Novel

Robin McKinley was rummaging around and came across the 300-page hard copy of what she terms "the First Third Damar Novel." Code name KIRITH. She's put the first chapter of it up on her blog. Ah, her stories always draw me in from the first page...

It's not you. It's me.

A couple of days ago Read Roger posted his thoughts on the reader's right "not to finish a book."There are many reasons you might choose not to finish a book. You get bogged down, lose interest, something more engaging comes along, you may not even be able to put your finger on the exact reason. But one way or another you put it down and don't come back. 

I am often motivated to finish a book I am not enjoying out of sheer perversity or a desperate hope that it will pull itself out of the nosedive at the last minute. But the last book I simply walked away from? I think that was The Fetch. It was just so cold and strange and, try as I might, I couldn't get close to any of the characters. I don't like doing it, but finally it was just time to move on.

So what was the last book you gave up on? And do you have a hard and fast rule on calling it quits? 

March 4, 2009

The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner


If I tell you that each book in this series just gets more and more exceptional, will you believe me? Or will you believe that I, like Eugenides, am simply telling you a version of the truth to get you to do what I want you to do? (In this case, to get you to read these books yesterday). Both things are true, by the way. The King of Attolia is even better than its predecessor and I will tell you anything to get you to read these books. Yesterday. Plus, check out my favorite cover of the three. Look at the feather scar on his cheek. Her hand on his shoulder. His grip on the sword. So awesome.

Eugenides has just embarked upon his self-imposed life of exile in Attolia. And to any and all onlookers, he is ill at ease in his new home. The queen appears to despise him, the court thinks him an idiot of epic proportions, and the guard are ready to murder him on their queen's behalf. The story follows a young lieutenant named Costis who is having a shockingly bad day. In a fit of righteous indignation, he hauled off and punched the king in the face in front of several witnesses, including the captain of the guard. Certain he will hang in the morning, Costis is shocked and discomfited to find himself assigned to be the king's personal assistant. Forced to serve the man he hates, Costis soon finds himself on the receiving end of a most unorthodox education of a lifetime. Through his eyes, the reader gets an intimate, exquisitely poignant look at the relationship between the King and the Queen of Attolia.

This third installment is the big payoff in many ways. The Thief set up the key characters, briefly sketching out their backgrounds and motivations--all against a background of a grand quest--and it did it with humor and style. The Queen of Attolia delved into the complicated psyches of the two main players, word by artfully chosen word, making your heart ache for them, ensuring you fall in love with them. The King of Attolia cements the whole gorgeous package. This is where Eugenides comes into his own. This is where you realize he's smarter than you. And so is Megan Whalen Turner. And you wouldn't have it any other way. This book is the real deal. Every scene is choice. Every sarcastic exchange. Every vicious riposte. Every hidden glance. It's a rereader's paradise and, as Oscar Wilde said, "If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all." The King of Attolia is so worth it. I can already tell I will be reading about these characters for the rest of my life.

March 2, 2009

The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner


Wow. I just...wow. Talk about a sequel. In fact, I'm pretty sure that as sequels go The Queen of Attolia should be the standard textbook in a class entirely devoted to how to write a killer sequel. The kind of sequel that will leave your readers completely unable to contain their glee at how it was just as good as they weren't daring to hope it would be. The kind that makes them keep their husbands up at night expounding upon the splendor that is such a sequel.

A note on the cover: I truly love the "new" covers. I do. But this one kind of makes me want to run and hide under the covers. And I'm glad I didn't see it until after I read the book. Rather, I went in blissfully unaware of what awaited me.

A note on a spoiler: I generally try to avoid them. This review, however, may have to be an exception as there is one key plot element early on that is, well, integral to everything that happens thereafter. I can't find a way to dance around it, so consider yourself forewarned. 

The Thief of Eddis is on a secret mission for his queen in the heart of enemy territory. As he slips away into the night, something goes massively, horribly wrong and he is run down and captured by Attolian guards. For his audacity, Attolia takes his right hand and sends him back to his queen broken and on the brink of death. While Eugenides struggles to comes to terms with his drastically altered life, Eddis declares war on Attolia for his sake and the three countries are quickly at each other's throats. As their losses mount, Eugenides realizes there is one more thing he can steal from Attolia that will save his country from destruction. But, given their last encounter, does he have the courage to venture into Attolia again and face her one more time? 

Truth? I spent a a fair bit of time holding back sobs while reading this book. You see I fell in love with Eugenides. And he does not have an easy time of it here. The thing is he is so very awesome that you know he'll be okay. He has to be okay. But, still, his anguish and rage are so palpable it's hard to watch. And at the same time, my favorite scenes are the beautifully alternating passages in which Gen tries and fails and tries to piece his life together while, a world away, Attolia sits on her throne, staring blankly out the window, agonizing over what she did. It's so unexpected and had me glued to the page. School Library Journal had a fun article on some of their favorite love stories and they named The Queen of Attolia the Best Declaration of Love. They're not kidding around. When it comes it takes your breath away. On top of it all this book's got a perfect ending. It'll make you smile through your tears.