I don't necessarily agree with everything in this short book, though I do think the advice therein is finely tuned to how writer marketing works in thI don't necessarily agree with everything in this short book, though I do think the advice therein is finely tuned to how writer marketing works in the age of social networking. Still, I can't help but wish that things didn't have to be so caught up in contacts and ulterior motives and all the "I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine" ways of the world. Useless thinking, I know.
(I may write a more detailed review at a later date, but I think this will suffice for now.)...more
Oh my goodness, I'd forgotten how much fun it is to read about Seraphina, her dragon-tutor Orma, and plucky Princess Glisselda. "The Audition" reallyOh my goodness, I'd forgotten how much fun it is to read about Seraphina, her dragon-tutor Orma, and plucky Princess Glisselda. "The Audition" really gives a great showcase of a few of the characters who appear in the full-length novel Seraphina, and this short story made me smile throughout because I love these characters and their world.
For anyone interested in reading Seraphina or even those unsure of trying it come its July 10th release date, please give this short story a read and see how you fare with it. I doubt you'll be disappointed....more
In some respects, Loki: Nine Naughty Tales of the Trickster fell a little short for me me due to my expectations. After having finished Mike Vasich's full-length novel Loki, I was eager to see what his short story collection about the trickster would entail. As I said in my review of Loki, I really adored Vasich's sympathetic take on Loki and wondered if the short stories of this collection would tie into the backstory of the character we had met in the novel.
Alas, the nine short stories therein rather support the Loki seen in traditional Norse mythology: he's less of a cunning strategist (as were seen in some shades of Loki's character in Loki) and more of the usual wily character who's sometimes quite petty and childish in his schemes. Granted, I love when writers are faithful to myths while at the same time offering a spin narrative-wise, but I guess I was still pondering the question of why the gods held such a low opinion of Loki within the novel's narrative frame and hoping that the "nine naughty tales of the trickster" would give that backstory. Instead, the novel and this short story collection are very much apart from each other, so readers should take that into account whether they be starting the novel or the short story collection first.
Many of these stories are familiar to anyone who has ever looked into Norse mythology -- the cutting of Sif's golden hair, the time Loki disguises Thor as Freyja so that they might reclaim Thor's hammer from the giants, the events that lead to Sleipnir's birth, Balder's death -- but Vasich brings his own spin to them through witty dialogue from Loki and others. Even with the sometimes distasteful things the gods do, it's still somewhat amusing to read about these gods' blunders and missteps, often orchestrated by Loki himself. This quote from the collection really sums up how Loki perceives his role among the gods:
It was a given that any of the gods could slay him in physical combat, and yet he survived–nay, he thrived–in their midst, making them dance like puppets at the end of his strings!
However, even with the amusement to be had from the other tales, the real stand-outs here are the final two which deal with Ragnarok and its aftermath: here Vasich really takes the myths into his own hands and fashions his own unique take. The seven tales preceding them seem almost like child's play by comparison and, by the time I finished, my eyes had gone wide because, egads, what if that had happened?
Somewhere, I think a certain trickster was laughing at me.
All in all, I think Loki: Nine Tales of the Trickster is an amusing take on Norse characters and their stories with a spotlight on the trickster's antics. Loki fans especially will likely find this collection worth reading....more
When I first read the synopsis for Cassandra Rose Clarke's The Assassin's Curse, I was very intrigued. Pirates? Assassins? Magic? Curses? Yes, please!When I first read the synopsis for Cassandra Rose Clarke's The Assassin's Curse, I was very intrigued. Pirates? Assassins? Magic? Curses? Yes, please! Who wouldn't want to read a novel that seems like what might have happened if someone like Tamora Pierce had written Pirates of the Caribbean? As often as I've been burned by false promises in novel synopses, I need not have worried with this novel: The Assassin's Curse fulfilled its promises and managed to soar above and beyond my expectations.
In a world where a Pirate's Confederation rules the seas and assassins stalk the shadows, Ananna of the Tanarau finds herself in a precarious position: she is engaged to marry Tarrin, son of the Hariri, yet she has no plans to play wife to a pirate captain's son. Rather, she wants to be the pirate captain, leading her own ship and crew. Even though Tarrin promises that his family will send an assassin after her if she were to leave, Ananna takes her chance and escapes her arranged marriage...but her goals are put on hold when she finds herself faced with the assassin hired by the Hariri. Through a series of magical mishaps, the unthinkable happens: pirate princess and assassin end up journeying to find a way to break a curse that binds them together. What good can come of these happenings?
The first thing that really struck me about this novel was how subtle yet fascinating the world-building was. For one, I don't think I've read a novel recently that managed to contain so many culture cues and nods without being overwrought or feeling too authorially maneuvered for diversity's sake. Here everything felt natural, even with the shadow-traveling assassins (who reminded me of ninjas at times) and blood magic and mentions of mystical creatures. It was one of those worlds I never wanted to leave because it seemed so full of possibility.
Of course, Ananna herself really stole my attention. Recently, I've found myself really admiring narratives that manage to capture a character's specific voice (Moira Young's Blood Red Road and A.C. Gaughen's Scarlet come to mind), and I can add The Assassin's Curse to the list because this novel also bears quite a distinctive voice in Ananna. Beyond that, though, she's the kind of heroine who's really fun to follow because she does things. Ananna doesn't wait for people to do things for her or protect her (instead, she's usually very opposed to these things because she was raised to take care of herself in dangerous situations), and she's a whole spectrum away from passive.
With the assassin/would-be hero, Naji, there was quite a role reversal. In some ways, I think he actually took on some of the characteristics usually attributed to YA heroines (mind, I thought this was a *very good* thing). Despite being a capable assassin, Naji mucks things up quite a bit through some impulsive decisions over the course of the novel and, even with his magic, he's far from "invincible." (Rather, he often ends up drained due to his magic use, leaving Ananna in a bind to drag him to safety somehow.) It's also quite interesting that Naji seems to bear quite a bit of insecurity, all born from people and happenings in his past. Too often in YA novels I see the insecure "I'll never believe I'm beautiful"/"I'm too ugly to be loved" heroines, so it was very refreshing to read about a hero who, despite capability and intelligence, seems to think very little of himself on a person-to-person level. Usually in various media (not just YA novels) we see male characters who are confident, most oftentimes bordering on arrogant, yet rarely do we ever see the ones who bear self-esteem issues and quite a bit of uncertainty. In that respect, Naji seemed very "real" to me as a character, especially in how he acted and interacted with others.
Though the novel undoubtedly had flaws, I'm probably too close to it right now as far as "book infatuation" to point them out and note them in this review. The ending came far too abruptly for my liking, though that's likely due to the fact that I really, really wanted a resolution...only to reach the end and think, "Nononono, don't end, don't end... Oh, crap, now I have to wait for the sequel." (Don't we all hate when that happens?) I guess my reaction only gives more testament to how much I really enjoyed this novel and how much I look forward to the sequel, The Pirate's Wish.
Needless to say, I feel that The Assassin's Curse is definitely a notable addition to YA fantasy and one that I hope fantasy fans will flock to read and devour come October. It's a fun novel that should quench any reader's thirst for magic, pirates, assassins, and a world where the possible and impossible twine together. Here's hoping that Ananna and Naji's journey will enchant other readers as much as it did me.
Note: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley....more