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Friday, June 22, 2012

AAD Author Spotlight: Melanie Card!

Although I won't be able to attend AAD this year, I do want to continue spotlighting some of the awesome authors that will be attending!  I am woefully behind on these spotlights but hope to get caught up soon, and in the meantime, here's the skinny on today's featured author, Melanie Card!  She's tackling the Five Question Quiz:

1. Introduce yourself, Twitter style! Describe yourself or your books in 140 characters or less.

My novels are YA fantasies with dark magic, thrilling adventure, and sweet romance.
2. Tell us a little bit about your latest release, or your upcoming projects if you'd prefer.

My latest release is WARD AGAINST DEATH is the first book in the Chronicles of a Reluctant Necromancer series. It’s about a reluctant necromancer who’s tricked into helping an undead assassin solve her murder.

Here’s the official blurb:

Twenty-year-old Ward de’Ath expected this to be a simple job—bring a nobleman’s daughter back from the dead for fifteen minutes, let her family say good-bye, and launch his fledgling career as a necromancer. Goddess knows he can’t be a surgeon—the Quayestri already branded him a criminal for trying—so bringing people back from the dead it is.

But when Ward wakes the beautiful Celia Carlyle, he gets more than he bargained for. Insistent that she’s been murdered, Celia begs Ward to keep her alive and help her find justice. By the time she drags him out her bedroom window and into the sewers, Ward can’t bring himself to break his damned physician’s Oath and desert her.

However, nothing is as it seems—including Celia. One second, she’s treating Ward like sewage, the next she’s kissing him. And for a nobleman’s daughter, she sure has a lot of enemies. If he could just convince his heart to give up on the infuriating beauty, he might get out of this alive…
3. What books (your own or others) do you recommend most often? 

I’m not sure if it’s a debut author thing or not but I love to recommend my book. If YA historical fantasy is your thing I want to share Ward’s story with you. Other books I recommend a lot (both historical fantasy) are Magic’s Pawn by Mercedes Lackey (for the amazing conflict – this book also has themes often found in YA) and  The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay (for his amazing prose and detailed worldbuilding… oh and that last battle at the end.)
4. What part of Authors After Dark 2012 are you looking forward to the most?

I’m looking forward to meeting everyone and making new friends!

 5. If you've been to AAD before, do you have any advice for first time attendees?

This is my first time attending AAD and my first time attending a reader-focused conference. I look forward to reading the other AAD Feature Author interviews here for their great advice for first time attendees.

About Melanie Card:

Melanie has always been drawn to storytelling and can't remember a time when she wasn’t creating a story in her head. Her early stories were adventures with fairies and dragons and sword swinging princesses.

Today she continues to spin tales of magic in lands near and far, while her cat sits on the edge of her desk and supervises. When she’s not writing, you can find her pretending to be other people with her local community theatre groups.

Connect with Melanie:

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Review: Tangle of Need

Title: Tangle of Need
Author: Nalini Singh
Page Count: 432 pages
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: paranormal romance
Copy for review was purchased by me

Adria, wolf changeling and resilient soldier, has made a break with the past--one as unpredictable in love as it was in war. Now comes a new territory, and a devastating new complication: Riaz, a SnowDancer lieutenant already sworn to a desperate woman who belongs to another.

For Riaz, the primal attraction he feels for Adria is a staggering betrayal. For Adria, his dangerous lone-wolf appeal is beyond sexual. It consumes her. It terrifies her. It threatens to undermine everything she has built of her new life. But fighting their wild compulsion toward one another proves a losing battle.

Their coming together is an inferno...and a melding of two wounded souls who promise each other no commitment, no ties, no bonds. Only pleasure. Too late, they realize that they have more to lose than they ever imagined. Drawn into a cataclysmic Psy war that may alter the fate of the world itself, they must make a decision that might just break them both.

I freely admit that I do something that drives most people I know crazy. I read the end of a book first before I read the rest. I think it's my control freak personality shining through because once I know the destination, I can enjoy the rest of the ride, so to speak. When Tangle of Need showed up on my Kindle (and heck yes I had it preordered, Nalini Singh could release her own version of a takeout menu and I would preorder it at this point) I immediately went and read the ending.

Please stop throwing things at me! I totally understand that some people like the suspense of not knowing what's going to happen next and want to experience each little twist and turn as the story unfolds; I'm just not one of these people.  Frankly, in this case, I'm glad I didn't veer from my regular habit, because knowing how things would turn out made me consider this book in a totally different light.

Let it be said that I am going to try to review this book without spoilers, but if one slips through, I'm sorry.

Anyway, the starring couple (at least according to the back copy, but we'll get to that in a minute) of this story is Adria and Riaz- folks will remember from previous books that Adria is the wolf who was in a long-term relationship with a guy that couldn't handle the fact that she was more dominant than she was, and Riaz was the guy who had found his mate only to find out she was already married to someone else. By all accounts, this relationship should be dead in the water, and indeed both characters do fight their attraction for a long time, each landing some hurtful emotional blows on the other in the meantime.

Hormones won't be denied, though, and soon these two find themselves in a relationship that is, for lack of a better description, weird.  They aren't mated and they both realize that they won't ever be, but does that mean they can't live happily ever after? Who makes the rules here? I thought it was interesting that Riaz realized that their lack of a mating bond wasn't necessarily an obstacle a lot sooner than Adria did- it totally makes sense given their history, but reading the sections where Riaz gives his full attention to courting her was sweet and fun.

I say that the main couple is allegedly Adria and Riaz because it should be noted that Hawke and Sienna get a ton of page time here as well.  I've read mixed reviews of this facet of the story- some people loved the little vignettes from the other couple and some people felt that some of those scenes should have ended up on the cutting room floor because Hawke and Sienna already had their book, damn it.  Mostly because I read the end of the book first and therefore saw specifically where we were going to end up, I saw the inclusion of those scenes as facilitating an interesting contrast between the two relationships.  I was super excited at the point in Kiss of Snow where Hawke and Sienna get their mating bond, but in order for relationships that have this supernatural bond to be believable and feel authentic, then relationships like Adria and Riaz's relationship are valid too, because those are based fully on choice, instead of based on the combination of choice and magical woo woo.  Ultimately, nothing in life is truly certain, and you have to grab happiness where you find it- Riaz and Adria had to consciously choose to devote themselves to their relationship, even knowing that "fate" or whoever is out there had originally had something else planned.  Let's face it- lots of time was spent emphasizing that Riaz had found the woman who could have been his mate, but that means that Adria's mate is still out there somewhere too.  These two decided to be committed to a relationship that brought them both peace and happiness- the ends are the same even if the form is a little different.

I think this will end up being one of those books that forms an important bridge between one story line and the next- I can see the threads of future stories starting to really extend from the side plots here, and as a result don't recommend starting here if you're new to the Psy-Changeling series.  But seriously people, why would you want to start this series in the middle, when you can go back to the beginning and enjoy from page one? Seriously.

Overall Grade:

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Summer is Here!

The school year is done here in my neck of the woods and that means it's time to plan for other things! I am teaching summer school this year, which starts in a week, but there are lots of things I'm looking forward to in the next few months:

-Reading more! I've been reading a lot of good books lately (I'm in the middle of Shades of Milk and Honey right now and I LOVE it) and I'm looking forward to finally having time to review the standouts.

-Finally getting caught up on my remaining AAD Author Spotlights- I apologize for the delay on that!

-Craft time! I've been making a lot of gifts for birthdays/bridal showers/other events and planning ahead for Christmas as well. Time to get ahead!

-Laying on the beach. Summer is here and in full swing!

-Training for my next 5k in mid-August. This one is timed- eek!

-Cooking more. I have been taking the easy way out a lot lately because of time but there are so many good recipes I want to try. Decisions, decisions.

What is everyone else up to this summer?
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