In The Soup This Week... SM Reine, Pepper Winters, Amber Belldene, Alexa Riley, Rachel Aaron/Bach, Jeffe Kennedy.
Soup Dish: on my mind/good links
✽The Word Whores are seeking a new blog name, plus a link to the snarkiest review that never made it to Amazon.
✽Book Riot's debrief of RT16: less sex, more Vikings?
✽Really liked this blog post on character development - it's a great framework for reviewing too.
What I'm reading
The great irony of going to the big RT Convention is that there is zero time to read. I didn't even read on the plane on the way, because it was a short flight and early! But I have finished a few books since the last time I wrote a Soup post.
✽I kept seeing Facebook ads for books by Alexa Riley, so I downloaded a freebie. I got about 2/3s through it and stopped, but when I went looking to find the correct name for the blogger I'd hung with in NOLA, I discovered that her blog was gone and she is now one half of the Alexa Riley writing team. I have to say, I didn't love this title, and several of them look even less appealing. The team has landed on a new-to-me trope: the hero is SO dominant and SO possessive that he needs to impregnate the heroine so she can never be free of him; Romlandia is calling this a "breeder" trope (ugh). Well, everyone's line between alpha and alph-hole is a little different, but that's way over for me. I read Guarding His Obsession, which only included that trope as a side note in the secondary romance. The heroine in this book is apparently on the Asberger/Autism spectrum, although this is never called out by name. Her dialog reads a little bit like a kindergartner in the body of a 24-year-old-woman discovering sex for the first time. So while I adore Melissa K and her snark, these books are not for me.
✽Not A Mistake, by Amber Belldene. I do plan a full review, but I confess that I didn't realize the release date was in March. Short answer -- liked it a lot, really wonderful heroine, angsty hero, and church politics. Christian but not inspy.
✽Debt Inheritance, by Pepper Winters. This one is a super-dark captive/slave fantasy. I did finish it, but it's a serial and I won't be continuing. Competently written and emotional, but much too dark for me; it's a tale of a 5-century family feud that involves some incident so heinous back in the 1600s that king granted one family "the life of the firstborn female" of each generation of the other family to do with as they wish, up to and including murder -- which this heroic family has availed themselves of right up to the hero's father killing the heroine's mother. Includes a scene of non-consensual violation of the heroine by ~20 men including the hero. Not for me.
✽Cast in Angelfire, by SM Reine. This is one of those authors that I mentioned, that was at RT but I didn't realize until too late. I enjoyed this book quite a lot, as the beginning of a UF series about an extremely powerful woman who has been mysteriously stripped of her memory. The romantic interest is reclusive and powerful, but secretive and reclusive. The worldbuilding is intriguing, borrowing equally from biblical references and popular fae, were-beast and witchy mythology. Currently 99 cents, give it a shot.
2016 Book Goals
My physical-book stash keeps growing! My stash reading is not keeping up. I guess it will stop when I die or my house explodes, whichever comes first. I got some advice from Jeffe Kennedy about tracking my TBR inventory in a spreadsheet, which I might try. Because you know I love a good spreadsheet.
I am sadly behind on my non-fiction goals. I'm consistently running at about half-goal: instead of 1 per month, I've read 2 and here we are at the end of April.
That's it for this week. Happy reading!
Sunday, April 24, 2016
Thursday, April 21, 2016
What DID happen in Vegas?Just so you know, it's mandatory for all posts about RT16 to include that line somehow, somewhere. It was in the rules. Sorry about that, but it couldn't be helped.
What do you think of my debut as a cover model? They're going to photoshop in the sunset, galloping horses, and misty floral overlay later. Also, I think I'll be getting more hair.
It's become a bit of a tradition (if 3x makes a tradition!) to write up my RT Convention experiences. Every time I go, I use a little bit different strategy and it's been kind of interesting to see how it pans out.
Things I did right this year
Look Ma, no blisters!
I consider my shoe choice to be "pretty fancy" if it doesn't involve athletic socks. I rotated between Sketchers with thin socks, cute but comfy sandals, and yes, non-fancy sneakers for one day in the middle and the very last day because my feet and legs just needed it. Most days I took an hour break in my room with my feet up and the room quiet. For the really dressed up party, I wore some blinged-out flat sandals with zero support for about 2 hours, and not one minute more.
I carried a water bottle and kept it filled, mostly from the tap. I'll be honest, the price of the drinks in Vegas made me less inclined to overindulge (I'm kind of a cheapskate, it seems) but this definitely helped keep tiredness and possibly conference crud at bay. I also used hand sanitizer much more liberally than I do at home - I don't really believe in it for everyday use, but in this situation, every bit of immunity-bolstering helps.
Planned an outing.
It was a bit small but I planned ahead, and gathered some like-minded friends and headed to a pub with recommended beer flights. I definitely enjoyed that evening very much and hope to make it a tradition at the RTs that I attend. I would like to grow it just a little, to maybe 8 or 10 people. The beer was very tasty, too. We went The Pub at The Monte Carlo, on the advice mainly of this article. I was hoping for a bit more extensive menu, but the food was very tasty. (Normally I love pub food, but by the time we went, I was a little tired of sandwiches, even very delicious ones.) I think "Cali' Creamin'" was my favorite, not surprisingly since it was sweet and vanilla-y. They were all very good, actually, and wisely, poured into cute little 5 oz glasses. Amber had the Dragon Stout, highly rec'd by her husband, and JPBasquill had a flight similar to mine. Non-beer-lover Elisabeth Staab got talked into coming along, drank wine, and provided delightful company.
|l-r: Brookly Lager, Cali Creamin, Wasatch Devastator Double Bock, Coconut Porter|
Got out of my comfort zone.
My usual conference buddies didn't make it this year, so I made some new friends, one of whom loves to dance. So one night, we spent an hour or two on the rooftop dance floor -- I would say "raising the roof," only a) it sounds really stupid when I say things like that; and b) oops, no roof! I can't say I loved the music but the view was amazing and the fresh air was very welcome. I returned the favor by corrupting, er, I mean, introducing several new friends to Cards Against Humanity.
|The question card states, "I never really understood ____, until I encountered _____."|
Things that maybe didn't work as well
Last time, I had such a great time going with the flow, spending significant time in the bar, and just hanging around with whoever showed up, that I really wanted that again. But the Rio wasn't set up for that very well. There were several bars in the hotel, including an over-priced and under-selective cash bar dedicated to the con (not a fan, in case you couldn't tell). There was a fairly central one that seemed to have a lot of RTers in it at any given time, but it wasn't the Grand Central Station effect that we got in NOLA. So not having much in the way of plans meant that a couple of my evenings turned out a little slow.
In the theme of failing to plan, I didn't pay as much attention to the authors and bloggers who were attending and I realized too late that I had missed at least half a dozen people that I really would have liked to meet. I did better at that at NOLA.
More to comeI do want to talk a little bit about the panels and parties, so I'm going to do a two-parter this year. Come back soon for the second installment of What Happened in Vegas.
Overall, I had a wonderful (and exhausting) time at the conference, strengthened my ties to the community of bloggers, reviewers, authors, and others, and I'm really glad I went.
Thursday, April 7, 2016
Title: Dandelion Iron
Series: The Juniper Wars
Author: Aaron Michael Ritchey
Publisher: WordFire Press
Release Date: April 11, 2016
Reviewing: eARC for Kindle
Reason for reading: Author love
The Short Answer
Saddle up folks, we're going on a post-apocalyptic cattle drive where Little House on the Prairie meets the Terminator and Jules Verne meets Louis L'Amour. Mob-style protection wars rage from synthetic-helium-lofted dirigibles, machine guns are a girl's best friend, and every sperm is sacred. The word "rollicking" was invented for this series. It's out next Tuesday and YOU WANT IT.
It is the year 2058. The Sino-American War has decimated several generations of men, and the Sterility Epidemic has made 90% of the surviving males sterile.Author Love
Electricity does not function in five western states. Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, and Montana are territories once again. Collectively, they are known as the Juniper.
It is the most dangerous place on Earth.
On a desperate post-apocalyptic cattle drive to save their family ranch, Cavatica Weller and her two gunslinging sisters stumble across a rare boy. Sharlotte wants to send him away, Wren wants to sell him…and Cavatica falls in love with him.
Little do they know that an inhuman army is searching for the boy and will stop at nothing to find him.
Welcome to the world of The Juniper Wars.
I have always chosen books based on authors. In the old days, I had a short list of auto-buy authors, and if I tried a new author, it was because my list was dry for new releases, and maybe I got a recommendation from a trusted human in person. These days, I find authors through buzz on social media, recs from other bookish people, and more recently, conferences. Ritchey started out with a warm fuzzy feeling when he opted in to not one, but both of the flash fiction stories that ran on Alpha Heroes in the run-up to RUDCon, and then he was just super fun and nice at the conference with a wicked awesome sense of humor, which is both wicked and awesome. So that's why I'm reading this particular title.
About the Book
In-person humor doesn't always translate to an author's work, and the voice in Dandelion Iron is so unexpected that I would not say they align exactly. Cavatica does not have the dry, sly humor that the author does, but the book is filled with it, in the references and the linguistic choices- Exhibit A would be the three dogs named Bella, Edward and Jacob. While this story is not a comedy, and touches on some darker themes of alcoholism and abuse, the tongue-in-cheek world-building never takes itself too seriously.
Cavatica's first person narration does a outstanding job of calling to mind the fears and aspirations of youth: the desire to be heroic, the fear of failure, the insecurities and yearning and melodrama. There's a cadence, a musicality and rhythm to her speech that calls to mind the oral tradition of storytelling, of an audience rapt around a flickering campfire or hearth. It's a delight to read, and Cavvy, a delightful character that surprises herself and everyone around her.
It must be said that this story is being published as a 6-book serial. We get through a battle in this book, but are only getting hints of the real conflict behind the war to come. The end is a bit of a cliffhanger, but there's good resolution to the first skirmish in The Juniper Wars, and the following books are expected to release in quick succession.
It was raw shakti, but right then it didn't feel like a creative, female energy.
To borrow from the Hindu myths, it was Kali's fury in her eyes.
And what did Kali's fury do?
It destroyed the world.
Well, let the world die. I was going to save the ranch even if at the end of things, it was the only dirt left in the universe.
It was our land, where our parents and baby sisters were buried. It would be ours, forever and ever, amen.
You don't let go of sacred ground. You fight to the death for it.
On a promotional note, I've never heard of humblebundle before, but it's definitely worth checking out. Dandelion Iron is being offered as a part of the third tier of this bundle, with a sliding price scale. Very interesting pricing model, and some great authors in this bundle.
Around the Blogosphere --what others are saying
Dave Butler- a similar assessment
Chessy The Cat - 5 Stars
Awnna Marie Evans - a rave indeed
Lee French - little less enthused, put off by the teen-ish slang & parts of the worldbuilding
Bonus: Me and This Guy!
|At super-fun Reading Until Dawn Con last October.|
Friday, April 1, 2016
I confess, I kind of love the internet on April Fools' Day. Last year, my favorite was the artisan selfie-stick video released by my former employer, Motorola. There's no such thing as "too much quality" when it comes to selfie-sticks. So far this year, I've only seen this one, which is pretty funny, but it's early out here in Seattle. I'm looking forward to seeing what the internet pranksters come up with this year.
I would love to make an April Fools' post a tradition at Alpha Heroes, but the truth is, I don't get the brainstorm every year, or at the right time of the year. But maybe if I start thinking about it now, I can come up with one for 2017.
When I announced I was changing over the blog to lit-fic.
When I announced my career as an author.
What's your favorite April Fools' story?