June 26, 2011

Review: Godslayer, by Jacqueline Carey

Godslayer (The Sundering, #2)
Author: Jacqueline Carey
Title: Godslayer
Series: The Sundering
ISBN: 978-0765350985
Publisher: Thor fantasy (2006)

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My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Once human but now immortal, Supreme Commander Lord Tanaros fled the realm of Men and chose darkness when he killed his adulterous wife and his liege king who cuckholded him. A thousand years have passed in service to his master, the dark god Satoris. The world view Satoris as Evil Prime and the name of Tanaros is the byword for treachery.

The races have united in their quest to rid the world of the Dark God and his minions. The key to the prophecy is the beautiful Elvish princess Cerelinde--and Satoris has captured her.

Yet not all tales told are true and evil may have another face. Satoris refuses to act like the monster that he is made out to be for he recognizes in Cerelinde a spark of the love that he once bore for his fellow gods. But this spark of light might prove to be a danger to Satoris...and a greater danger for Tanaros and all that he holds dear. For Cerelinde might remind him that the heart that he willed to iron an eon ago is still very much mortal.

Godslayer is not quite the second book of The Sundering series. It is the second half of a single story, and it is impossible to read one instalment without reading the other.

While Banewreaker depicted a world tethering on the verge of war, closing off with the inevitable fall into conflict, Godslayer offers us an agonising resolution to the epic struggle of thought versus passion: the tension mounts with every new development. Even when we think that the rope is so taut that it must surely break Ms. Carey keeps on weaving her tale, taking us to higher and higher places... And setting us up for an ending that should leave no one untouched.

June 25, 2011

Writing tips #2: To find your style

I should address the issue of “practice makes perfect” but we're going to be talking about something else entirely. After all, if you don't know what you need to practice, perfection is a far-fetched objective. Therefore, let us figure out what style you should start writing before we move on to anything else.

Short answer to this enigma: No one knows! Not even yourself.

A lot of people believe that because they read a lot of adventure, a lot of romance, tons of angst, they will obviously do their best writing these genres. And there is a solid logic to their argument, because when all's said and done they have been picking up structure, tricks, vocabulary... They should be good to go.


June 24, 2011

Review: Iron Daughter, by Julie Kagawa

The Iron Daughter (Iron Fey, #2)
Author: Julie Kagawa
Title: The Iron Daughter
Series: Iron Fey
ISBN:  9780373210138
Publisher: Harlequin Teen (2010)

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My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Half Summer faery princess, half human, Meghan has never fit in anywhere. Deserted by the Winter prince she thought loved her, she is prisoner to the Winter faery queen. As war looms between Summer and Winter, Meghan knows that the real danger comes from the Iron fey—ironbound faeries that only she and her absent prince have seen. But no one believes her.

Worse, Meghan's own fey powers have been cut off. She's stuck in Faery with only her wits for help. Trusting anyone would be foolish. Trusting a seeming traitor could be deadly. But even as she grows a backbone of iron, Meghan can't help but hear the whispers of longing in her all-too-human heart.

The Iron King set astoundingly high standards with me, so much so that I'm considering the series for my day job. It was almost impossible to keep up with what I expected from this series. And yet, bar a couple of scenes, the Iron Daughter has managed to perform up to par.

June 19, 2011

Review: Iron King by Julie Kagawa

The Iron King (Iron Fey, #1)Author: Julie Kagawa
Title: The Iron King
Series: Iron Fey
ISBN: 9780373210084
Publisher: Harlequin Teen (2010)

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My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Meghan Chase has a secret destiny; one she could never have imagined.
Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan's life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school or at home.
When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she's known is about to change.
But she could never have guessed the truth - that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she'll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil no faery creature dare face; and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.

The Iron King has been one of the best surprises to be found in my shelves this year. I decided to pick it up because the fourth part is coming up, my curiosity was piqued, and I thought it might be nice to read a Fairy Tale – a topic I've recently become interested in.

The result? One of the best Young Adult books I've read to date. And reading YA books is part of my job.

June 16, 2011

Review: Dracula my love, by Syrie James

Dracula My Love: The Secret Journals of Mina Harker

Author: Syrie James
Title: Dracula my love: the secret journals of Mina Harker
ISBN: 9780061923036
Publisher: Avon A

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My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Many have read and loved Bram Stoker’s Dracula. But questions remain. What is the true story of Dracula’s origin? What if Mina could not bring herself to record the true story of their scandalous affair—until now?

In Dracula, My Love: The Secret Journals of Mina Harker, Syrie James explores these questions and more. A vibrant dramatization, told from Mina’s point of view, brings to life the crucial parts of Stoker’s story while showcasing Mina’s sexual awakening and evolution as a woman, and revealing a secret that could destroy her life. Torn between two men—a loving husband and a dangerous lover—Mina struggles to hang on to the deep love she’s found within her marriage, even as she is inexorably drawn to Dracula himself—the vampire that everyone she knows is determined to destroy.

The book starts with a prologue that gives the whole novel a flashback perspective, so, unfortunately, we know from the first lines how the tale is going to end. I had picked it up hoping to see Stoker's Dracula redeemed, so it was not exactly the most gripping way to open the narrative, but still I decided to give it a chance.

I must confess that Syrie James must have done it right, because by the end of the text I was almost sure that I would get my happy ending. The writing was very much on par with the original in style and vocabulary. The descriptions were detailed and full of a vivid imagery. And still, somehow, I can't say that this is a book I would recommend.

Let's go step by step:

June 14, 2011

Writing tips #1: To be an Aspiring Writer.

I have run into a lot of people who, when asked about it, turn out to be self-proclaimed "aspiring writers". It is something that always prompts me to arch an eyebrow and utter an amused, “Oh?”. For me, this species is baffling in its existence, even though I understand where they might be coming from.

I'm not going to claim that I'm right in my own assumptions and then go on a rant about the aspirant defenders, as I think that is not constructive and is plain presumptuous, but I'm going to explain my views on this matter so that, perhaps, some of you who consider yourselves “aspiring writers” can get the aspiring part out of the title.

You'd be amazed at what can be accomplished when you stop thinking of yourself like a project of, and start believing you are the real thing.

The basis to this whole theory lies in a simple question:

What makes a writer?

June 12, 2011

Review: Banewreaker, by Jacqueline Carey

Banewreaker (The Sundering, #1)

Author: Jacqueline Carey
Title: Banewreaker (Book 1)
Series: The Sundering
ISBN: 978-0765305213
Publisher: Thor fantasy (2004)

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My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If all that is good thinks you evil... are you?

Once upon a time, the Seven Shapers dwelled in accord and Shaped the world to their will. But Satoris, the youngest among them, was deemed too generous in his gifts to the race of Men, and so began the Shapers' War, which Sundered the world. Now six of the Shapers lay to one end of a vast ocean, and Satoris to the other, reviled by even the race of Men.

Satoris sits in his Darkhaven, surrounded by his allies. Chief among them is Tanaros Blacksword, immortal Commander General of his army. Once a mortal man who was betrayed by King and Wife, Tanaros fled to Darkhaven a thousand years ago, and in Satoris's service has redeemed his honor-but left his humanity behind.

Now there is a new prophecy that tells of Satoris's destruction and the redemption of the world. To thwart it, Satoris sends Tanaros to capture the Lady of the Ellylon, the beautiful Cerelinde, to prevent her alliance with the last High King of Men.

But Tanaros discovers that not all of his heart has been lost--his feelings for Cerelinde could doom Satoris, but save the race of Men...

Some books hook you from the very first sentence. Other books fail to capture you at all.

And then, there are books like Banewreaker: tales what will coax you subtly, irrevocably, word by word, without you realizing it, until you cannot stop poring over its pages.

I started reading this series because I found an interesting comment by George R.R. Martin in his own website: he said that it was a good read, that it told the story of the Lord of the Rings from the point of view of Sauron's minions. Both the source and the recommendation were enough to make me grab my own copy, but it turned out that things were, as they are wont to be, much more complex. A retelling of the Lord or the Rings? No: so much more.