Monday, 31 October 2011

Tomorrow Nanowrimo Starts... Are You Ready?

The short answer is no, but then, will I ever be?  In less than 24 hours, Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month), click this link to find out more) will officially start!!  My heart is racing as I type these words.  This will be my third Nanowrimo, but this doesn't mean I'm going into this any cooler and more organized than before.  Quite the opposite.  In previous years, even though I've never done a plot outline or character development ahead of time (I'm one of those write by the seat of your pants people), I at least knew where to start.  This year feels a bit different.

This year, I thought I was doing well when I came up with a blurb for my YA fantasy novel.  Here it is:
My name is Antigone, the famous daughter of an infamously famous father, Oedipus. Yup. The Oedipus. The one who killed his father and married his mother then poked his eyes out. Now there was a lesson in not messing with the plans of the gods!

Saturday, 29 October 2011

I Write Like

I found an interesting link on Dr. Stravagante's Traveling Book Circus blog today, it is called I Write Like.  You cut and paste your writing into their link and it tells you who you write like.  It's really fun.  I cut and paste the first chapter of my middle school fantasy, The Prophesy of Ilverzah, in and got:

I write like
James Joyce
I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!

Hmmm.  I wondered what would happen with a different chapter, so I picked a random one from the middle and got:

Friday, 28 October 2011

Book Review: The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

Book:  The Lost Hero (Heroes of Olympus #1) by Rick Riordan, Hyperion Books for Children, 2010, 557 pages.

Source:  Purchased.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Jason has a problem. He doesn’t remember anything before waking up in a bus full of kids on a field trip. Apparently he has a girlfriend named Piper and a best friend named Leo. They’re all students at a boarding school for “bad kids.” What did Jason do to end up here? And where is here, exactly?

Piper has a secret. Her father has been missing for three days, ever since she had that terrifying nightmare. Piper doesn’t understand her dream, or why her boyfriend suddenly doesn’t recognize her. When a freak storm hits, unleashing strange creatures and whisking her, Jason, and Leo away to someplace called Camp Half-Blood, she has a feeling she’s going to find out.

Leo has a way with tools. When he sees his cabin at Camp Half-Blood, filled with power tools and machine parts, he feels right at home. But there’s weird stuff, too—like the curse everyone keeps talking about. Weirdest of all, his bunkmates insist that each of them—including Leo—is related to a god.

My Thoughts: 
I had so much fun reading this book.  I read it to my 8 year old and he loved it too - to the point of nagging and pleading with me to read it more, even when my throat was raw because I had already read for over an hour.  He was that addicted, always pleading for "just one page more..." 

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Angel Winner

The winner of the signed copy of Angel by Laura Lee is Cheryl Cheeseman!!!!!  
Congratulations, and thank you to everyone who stopped by and entered.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Spooktacular Giveaway Hop (Int)

This blog hop is huge - there are over 400 blogs participating!!!  I am so excited to be taking part in this giveaway hop - and it coinsides with my blog reaching 400 followers!  I so appreciate you all!  This hop is sponsored by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and The Diary of a Bookworm.  Thank you so much for putting this together.

My giveaway:  1 person will receive a book (or books) up to a $15 CDN at The Book Depository (so long as they deliver to you, you can check the list of countries here).

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Book Review: Brightwing by Sullivan Lee

Book:  Brightwing by Sullivan Lee, 2011, adult crime/romance.

Source: From the author.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Brightwing:  A Criminal Love Story

Edgar and Mallory Battle are on the run after a spectacularly violent escape. Now, with a trail of bodies behind them, they need a hostage against the inevitable standoff with the police. Their first doesn't last long, thanks to sociopathic Mallory. Edgar has been hiding his brother's crimes since they were kids. Now he's torn between family loyalty and self-preservation.

They carjack Lucy Brightwing, a criminal fresh from her own heist, with a fortune of uncut gems hidden in her vehicle. She could escape - but she won't abandon her millions. She could kill the Battle brothers, but she has to be careful. For one thing, if the law investigates, they'll find her ill-gotten loot. For another, her own life is sacred. She's the last member of a Florida paleoindian tribe thought to be extinct - the Tequesta. With her share of the money she plans to buy, bribe and blackmail her way into her own ancestral tribal lands in the heart of the Everglades: a Tequesta nation.

Lucy leads the brothers into her beloved swamp, determined to kill them. But when she falls for Edgar she must decide whether to risk her heritage and the future of her tribe to save the doomed brothers.

My Thoughts: 
This book was not what I was expecting, the crime is more of a backdrop than the point of the story, which is the developing relationships and the love story between Lucy and Edgar.  And I would call this a love story and not a typical romance.

The book starts off very exciting and grabs your attention right away.  This is a tough-talking, almost macho book, but with a light edge.  The criminals are hard and brutal at times, but also have their own kind of concious.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

I'm Being Interviewed

Today the tables have turned and I am being interviewed on Janet Whitehead's blog, Advocate for the Creative Soul!!  I am talking about writing and creativity, 2 of my favorite topics.

I am part of a group of over 20 creative muses who are going to showcase our work and passions in the Second Annual Muse A-Fair here in Kamloops, BC.  If you live in Kamloops, this event will be wonderful.  Even if you don't live here, these interviews with Janet (she is interviewing many of us involved and posting them on her blog) are going to be amazing and inspiring.  We are talking about a variety of things, such as our passions, how we show up for them, challenges, inspirations...

I'll put an exerpt of the interview below, to read the full interview, check out Janet's blog by clicking on this link.

Me & my three kids, reading our Nano novels.
What projects you are currently working on?
I am getting ready to participate in my third year of National Novel Writing Month where the goal is to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November.

Also, I am almost done editing my first Nano novel from two years ago.  It is a middle school fantasy called The Prophesy of Ilverzah.

What helps you to show up to your creative projects?
I have a writing buddy (yes, you Janet)!!!  This has been amazing for me to get things done.  Every (most every) morning, I call her at 9:30 in the morning, set the timer for 20 minutes, then get writing or editing – 20 minutes is such a non threatening amount of time.  After 20 minutes I call her back and debrief.  This is such a supportive, gentle way to write.  After 20 minutes, I am often eager to keep going, but in the back of my mind, I know if I only ever do the 20 minutes, I have still done something.  This is also a great way to celebrate the baby steps.  Sometimes all I can do in 20 minutes is edit one page or get my notes organized.  These are all important steps, but are often overlooked as part of the process.

Also, I am part of a very informal writing group.  We meet most weeks for coffee and talk about our projects, brainstorm and do writing exercises.  It is so much fun to meet with this great group of writers.

Then there is the threat of deadlines.  I think that is why Nanowrimo works so well for me.  There is a crazy deadline which makes me work crazy hard.

The last one is chocolate.  I often wonder if Nano was picked to be in November because it is the day after Hallowe’en.  I get through November by raiding my kid’s Hallowe’en chocolate.

To read the rest, click here to go to Janet's blog.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Author Interview: Laura Lee + Giveaway

Today I get to interview Laura Lee, author of Angels, on my blog.  At the end of the interview, enter to win a signed copy of her new book, Angel (US only).

Thank you for being here today, please tell us about your novel.

Here is the cover blurb:

Since the loss of his lively, charming wife to cancer six years ago, minister Paul Tobit has been operating on autopilot, performing his religious duties by rote. Everything changes the day he enters the church lobby and encounters a radiant, luminous being lit from behind, breathtakingly beautiful and glowing with life. An angel. For a moment Paul is so moved by his vision that he is tempted to fall on his knees and pray.

Even after he regains his focus and realizes he simply met a flesh-and-blood young man, Paul cannot shake his sense of awe and wonder. He feels an instant and overwhelming attraction for the young man, which puzzles him even as it fills his thoughts and fires his feelings. Paul has no doubt that God has spoken to him through this vision, and Paul must determine what God is calling him to do.

Thus begins a journey that will inspire Paul’s ministry but put him at odds with his church as he is forced to examine his deeply held beliefs and assumptions about himself, his community, and the nature of love. 

Monday, 17 October 2011

Book Review: The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa

Book:  The Iron Daughter (Iron Fey #2) by Julie Kagawa, Harlequin Teen, 2010, YA fantasy/romance.

Source: Library.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
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.

My Thoughts:
This is a great second installment to this series, and I found that I tore right through it.  I did like the first book better, but I still really enjoyed this one.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

10 + 2 Reasons to Participate in NaNoWriMo This Year

For the last two years I have participated in National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo.  This is a challenge to write a 50,000 in the month of November.  That's right, 50,000 words in 30 days, or 1667 words a day.  I am gearing up to take part again this year; in fact, I'm getting pretty nervous because I don't have an idea yet...  Still, I am going to do it anyway.  Here are 10 reasons why:
  1. It is fun.  Seriously.  There is something about the craziness of the whole thing that makes it fun to participate in.  There is a wonderful energy to Nanowrimo.
  2. You get great pep talks sent right to your inbox.  These are wonderful, inspiring, encouraging pieces of advice about writing from top authors. 
  3. You are not alone.  Sign up and check out the forums.  There is likely someone in your region or your area of interest to connect with.  I don't know how many people participate, but there are literally thousands world wide.

Winner of The Dark Age

The winner of the ebook copy of The Dark Age by Jeff Horton is Theresa!!!  Congratulations Theresa.  I have sent you an email to let you know that you have won.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Chapter Five: The Prophesy of Ilverzah

Hello, here is chapter five of my middle grade fantasy, The Prophesy of Ilverzah.  If you would like to read the first four chapters, just click on the "My Writing" link at the top.  As always, I love to hear feedback and comments.  Thanks.

Chapter Five

“Let go of me, you big galoot!!” the small faerie demanded furiously. She grabbed the delicate looking sword hanging from her belt and started to cut at Tom's fingers. Rebuffed and wounded, Tom instantly opened his hand and the faerie started to fall to the bed before she opened her wings and flew up to eye level. Tom's finger started to bleed, as if from a deep paper cut, and he wrapped it in a tissue from the bed side table.

“What did you go and do that for?” she yelled. “Do you hear me? I'm talking to you! Why did you grab me like that?! Don't you know you are not supposed to grab beings and rip them out of their own dimension? Besides being very rude, it messes everything up. It was bad enough you kept peeking in on me, and now this! Didn't you see me waving for you to go away? And, I had even managed to get the Scroll that the King wanted! There will be no end of trouble now.” The faerie angrily waved a tiny rolled up piece of paper at Tom. 

Friday, 14 October 2011

Book Review: The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

Book:  The Iron King (Iron Fey #1) by Julie Kagawa, Harlequin Teen, 2010, 363 pages, young adult fantasy.

Source:  Library.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
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.

My Thoughts:
I loved reading this book!  I have heard so much about it, all good, that I don't know why it took me so long to read.  Once I got started, I could hardly put it down.  The world that Kagawa creates is wonderful, somewhere between A Midsummer Night's Dream and Peter Pan - an interesting, yet creepy and dangerous, faery tale world.  

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Book Review: Jeremy and the Enchanted Theater by Becky Citra

BookJeremy and the Enchanted Theater (Orca Echoes) by Becky Citra, Orca Book Publishers, 2005, 64 pages, middle school fantasy.

Source:  Library.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Something silver flashed in the corner of the roon. Jeremy stepped closer. A jagged lightning bolt glowed and shimmered. "Neat!" said Jeremy. He picked it up. It felt warm. His fingers tingled. "Put that down!" screeched Mr. Magnus. "Can't you read? DON'T TOUCH!" Everything swirled around Jeremy. Mr. Magnus cried, "He's not ready! He didn't read the rule book!" Jeremy should be at home eating his supper. Instead he has traveled through time with a cat named Aristotle to Mount Olympus, home of the Greek gods. Neither he nor Aristotle has any idea how to get home, let alone how to help Mr. Magnus lift Zeus's curse on his theater, where no play has been performed for years. Not knowing what else to do, Jeremy and Aristotle climb toward the summit, finding adventure all the way. Becky Citra is a primary school teacher and author of many widely read books for children.

My Thoughts:
My son in grade 3 read this to me over several nights as his home reading assignment.  The reading level was completely appropriate for him and the story kept his interest.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Book Review: The Hunchback Assignments by Arthur Slade

Book:  The Hunchback Assignments (The Hunchback Assignments #1) by Arthur Slade, Harper Trophy Canada, 2009, 275 pages, middle school steampunk.

Source:  Library.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
A gripping new series combines Steampunk, spying, and a fantastic Victorian London.

The mysterious Mr. Socrates rescues Modo, a child in a traveling freak show. Modo is a hunchback with an amazing ability to transform his appearance, and Mr. Socrates raises him in isolation as an agent for the Permanent Association, a spy agency behind Brittania’s efforts to rule the empire. At 14, Modo is left on the streets of London to fend for himself. When he encounters Octavia Milkweed, another Association agent, the two uncover a plot by the Clockword Guild behind the murders of important men. Furthermore, a mad scientist is turning orphan children into automatons to further the goals of the Guild. Modo and Octavia journey deep into the tunnels under London and discover a terrifying plot against the British government. It’s up to them to save their country.

My Thoughts: 
This is a fun steampunk novel for the middle school age group.  There is so much adventure and imagination in this book that is is sure to appeal to a wide range of readers.  

Monday, 10 October 2011

Guest Post by Jeff Horton + ebook Giveaway (int)

Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Dark Age by Jeff Horton.  Mr Horton has kindly agreed to write a guest post and to give away an ebook version of his exciting new book, The Dark Age.  To enter to win a eversion (pdf, epub or mobi) of this book, simply fill out the Rafflecopter entry below (international giveaway).  The contest ends Oct. 16, when the winner will be announced.

Suppose you learned that an ancient prophecy about an artifact, said to be powerful enough to dramatically change the world, was true. Would you risk everything to find it?

It has been five-hundred years since the Pulse caused the Great Collapse, ending the Golden Age, and civilization on planet Earth. Humanity has waited ever since for a long-anticipated sign from God, which has finally appeared in the night sky. The time has come for Ferrell Young, the Warrior Clan, and the Church to risk everything in an effort to restore civilization, and bring hope to a world full of despair. Alex Montgomery is an archaeologist who has spent many years looking for a mysterious book on behalf of the Holy Christian Church. The book is said to contain the location of the Great Oracle which, according to legend, can endow the one who finds it with great power and wealth. Of much greater importance to the Clan and the Church however, is the fact that it may also enable the world to emerge from five centuries of darkness and suffering. When a powerful, intelligent, but sadistic barbarian leader named Kraken learns of the Oracle, he plans to destroy the Warrior Clan and the Church, take the Oracle for himself, and enslave the rest of humanity. Join Ferrell and his companions as they set out on a desperate journey to find the Great Oracle, and rescue humanity from The Dark Age.

Guest Post by Jeff Horton:
Please permit me to begin by saying thank-you for allowing me to be a guest author on Books and Other Creative Adventures, and for giving me an opportunity to discuss my novel, THE DARK AGE!

Have you watched, as I have, the many post-apocalyptic movies that have come out of Hollywood over the past several decades? During the twentieth century and the first decade of the twenty-first century, apocalyptic stories became increasingly popular, particularly at the box office. Movies like Mad Max, The Day After, Independence Day, Armageddon, Deep Impact, and 2012, just to name a few, have captured and held our imagination. I know that I've always been fascinated by apocalyptic thrillers, and I suppose many other people have as well. Apocalyptic stories in which the world is threatened and the unlikely hero finds himself in the right place at the right time to make a difference, and post-apocalyptic thrillers in which the protagonist is in a position to change the world for the better, have always inspired me, and helped me to realize how so very small many of my everyday concerns in life really are.

There have been a number of programs on television over the last few years, which examine possible outcomes should a specific global, catastrophic event occur, and how humanity might recover. There have also been experiments where people attempt to live as prehistoric man did, without the benefit of modern conveniences. While it certainly would be difficult to thrive or even survive under such conditions, one of the experiments I saw offered hope that humanity would be able to survive. 

I didn't necessarily set out to write a post-apocalyptic thriller when I started writing The Dark Age, but it soon turned into one. As I did research for my first novel, The Great Collapse, and my second novel, The Dark Age, I was astonished to learn how vulnerable our national infrastructure and our civilization itself are to powerful electromagnetic pulses and solar flares. In 2008 a report requested by Congress and was completed by the EMP Commission. It confirmed that the threat of a single nuclear warhead detonated high in the atmosphere somewhere around Kansas was real, and that it could potentially take out the United States' national power grid.

In The Great Collapse, it is an EMP attack and a solar flare that together knock out power worldwide, causing civilization to collapse within months. Unlike an EMP generated by a nuclear detonation, however, the EMP attack and the solar flare renders it impossible for anyone anywhere on the planet to rebuild the technology so vital to our society. With most of humanity no longer possessing the know-how to safely live off of the land, it is a struggle just to survive.  Now fast forward five-hundred years and you'll find yourself in The Dark Age, which is set in a world where humanity survives by the sword, the bow, and the arrow, while secretly hoping that a legend about the Great Oracle is true and that civilization will one day return to the Earth. The Dark Age is a story about self-discovery, perseverance, and self-sacrifice, all in an effort to save the world from a fate worse than death.

Hopefully, you will find as I did that The Dark Age paints a stark, yet intriguing and hopeful vision of the future, where heroes must work together in order to offer mankind a brighter tomorrow.

Find Jeff Horton on the internet:
Buy his books at The Dark Age (Survivors of the Pulse)

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Book Review: Triangles by Ellen Hopkins

Book:  Triangles by Ellen Hopkins, Atria Books, release date Oct. 18. 2011, 544 pages, adult fiction.

Source:  ARC received from the publisher.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
In this first adult novel by the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the unforgettable Crank trilogy, three female friends face midlife crises in a no holds-barred exploration of sex, marriage, and the fragility of life.

Ellen Hopkins has made her mark as the wildly popular author of several novels for young adults—every one of them a New York Times bestseller, and every one a hard-hitting exploration of tough-to-tackle topics. Now, in Triangles, Hopkins brings her storytelling mastery and fearlessness to take on the challenges of adult dramas.

In this emotionally powerful novel, three women face the age-old midlife question: If I’m halfway to death, is this all I’ve got to show for it? Holly, filled with regret for being a stay-at-home mom, sheds sixty pounds and loses herself in the world of extramarital sex. Andrea, a single mom and avowed celibate, watches her friend Holly’s meltdown with a mixture of concern and contempt. Holly is throwing away what Andrea has spent her whole life searching for—a committed relationship with a decent guy. So what if Andrea picks up Holly’s castaway husband? Then there’s Marissa. She has more than her fair share of challenges—a gay teenage son, a terminally ill daughter, and a husband who buries himself in his work rather than face the facts. As one woman’s marriage unravels, another one’s rekindles. As one woman’s family comes apart at the seams, another’s is reconfigured into something bigger and better. In this story of connections and disconnections, one woman’s up is another one’s down, and all three of them will learn the meaning of friendship, betrayal, and forgiveness before it is through.

My Thoughts:
Triangles is about three women whose lives intersect cleverly, written in poetry, with a play on triangles and parallel and intersecting lives.  Each of the three women is dealing with a midlife crisis:  there is stay at home mom Holly who, outwardly, is living the perfect life with a big house, two kids and a loving husband but who secretly is very bored and dissatisfied and wants to experiment sexually; Andrea, Holly's friend, is a single mom who has given up on men and thinks Holly is crazy for taking what she has for granted; and Marissa, Andrea's sister, who is in a bad marriage, has a gay teenaged son and spends her days looking after her terminally ill daughter.

The three main characters are real feeling and full of flaws.  We are seeing them at very difficult times in their lives and watching them act out, in many ways.  Through her poetry, Hopkins is able to intimately connect the reader with the character.  She takes turns with the point of view of each of the main characters thoughout the book, so we have a chance to get into the heads of each of the women.  I really felt for them in some cases and was horrified by them in others - Hopkins was able to create a deep, provocative connection with the characters, whether I liked them or not.

The poetry in the book is interesting and beautiful at times, as well as being quite readable.  I loved how Hopkins played with words and themes for each section of the book, and even how she placed the words on the page.  At times the form echoed the meaning of the words.  Each section ended with a word or phrase that became the theme of the poem for the the next section, which created a poetic continuity to the book.  This was masterful and thoughtful.

I also enjoyed how sparce the words were sometimes and how not everything was layed out.  There were a lot of details left to the imagination, like we stepped into the middle of these women's lives with an expectation that we understand their background.  This added to the intimacy of the book.

Part of what Hopkins does in this novel is to push the characters and this sometimes manifests in explicit scenes. There are so many interesting themes in this book, primarily sex, marriage and love, but also betrayal, jealousy and friendship amongst others.  I would recommend this book for those who like women's liturature or who are looking for something different or who wants to try reading a novel written in poetry. 

Friday, 7 October 2011

Chapter Four: The Prophesy of Ilverzah

Hello everyone,
Today I am posting Chapter Four of my middle school fantasy novel, The Prophesy of Ilverzah.  If you wish to read the first three chapters, click on the tab above labelled My Writing and you will find the links.  As always, I welcome your feedback and comments.

Chapter Four

“Okay,” said Mara, “if you're sure you want to do this, well, then, I guess I am too.” She was excited at the prospect of taking action. Also, this might solve the whole question of if she was imagining things or not. “I'll create the energy field.” The smile faded from Mara's face. “There is the miniscule possibility that I imagined this whole thing and that nothing will happen.”

“I doubt it,” Tom grinned, “you're not that imaginative.”

Mara laughed and pushed her brother. “All right, wise guy,” she said, anxious to begin now that she had made her decision, “let's get started.”

Tom nodded. “What do you want me to do?”

“I don't know, I guess just sit there and watch to see what happens. If there is a faerie, see if it's in trouble.”

Tom nodded again in understanding. “Okay,” he said, “I'm ready.”

Mara took a deep breath to calm and centre herself, then started to rub her hands together. Almost immediately she could feel the warmth and tingle of sparks between her hands as well as the intensity of the energy. This was definitely stronger than even the last time. The energy field was already distinct as Mara slowly separated her hands. All the colours of the rainbow sparkled as they mingled gently with breathtaking beauty. Mara was mesmerized as she gazed, transfixed into the glowing orb, feeling energy and excitement surge through her body.

Tom gasped, "It's so beautiful, it's really real, you weren't kidding."

Both children stared into the flowing orb as it gained more and more power. Slowly, butterfly wings began to solidify in the mass of colours. Incredible wings, wispy and flowing, ethereal and shimmering. Then, a body emerged, small but strong. It was the faerie, exactly like the picture Mara had drawn earlier, complete with eyes full of anxiety. The faerie!

Mara ventured to whisper, “do you see it?”

“Yes,” Tom breathed. For the first time in his life he was speechless.

The faerie stared at Mara and Tom, as surprised to see them as they were to see it. It was confined to a small room, its eyes full of fear.

Mara sat, frozen, her hands holding the energy field, unsure of what she could do.

Tom gently reached into the luminous ball, put his hand around the tiny faerie, and pulled her out of the pulsating field of energy. Mara, stunned, let her hands go and the energy instantly disintegrated into a million points of light, dispersing though the room like a shattered rainbow. All that remained was a confused faerie and two very stunned children.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Book Review: The Woods by Paul Hoppe

BookThe Woods by Paul Hoppe, Chronicle Books, 2011, 44 pages, Children's Book.

Source:  Won from Raincoast Books - thank you so much!

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Being afraid of the dark doesn't mean being afraid alone. When a boy can't find his favorite stuffed bunny, he bravely heads into the woods to look for it. Instead, he finds a big, scary brown bear! But the bear is just lonely, so the boy shares his night light and forges ahead with his new companion, until...they run into two frightening giants! As the boy continues on, he comes across other seemingly menacing creatures, but finds that like him they're just looking for some comfort and security before bedtime. Simple text and classic European style meet a fresh, modern twist in this delightful picture book.

My Thoughts:
This is such a cute book!  My daughter loves when I read it to her.  The illustrations are bright and simple, and the text is suspenseful and engaging.  This is a great book for kids who are afraid of the dark, as well as providing some great lessons on empathy and sharing.

The story has a young boy in bed at night, but he can't find his stuffed bunny, so he goes looking for it in the woods.  He is not afraid, until...  The boy deals with his fear, then moves onto the next adventure.  Kids will love the suspense of every "He's not afraid, until.." and they have to turn the page to see what the boy comes across next.  The boy then comes up with a creative solution and moves on to the next adventure.

I highly recommend this charming book for kids.  It has everything kids love:  suspense, good, inviting illustrations and a character they can identify with, one who takes control and works out his problems.  My kids love it and have me read it over and over.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Author Interview: Joseph Corsentino

Hello Everyone.  I am excited to interview Joseph Corsentino, the author/artist of the stunning graphic novel series, Afterlight: End of the World.  Thank you to Bewitching Book Tours for putting this tour for Book 1:  Time of the Faeries together.  You can read my review of his book here.

Joseph Corsentino, Artist/Author Biography:

Joseph Corsentino is a storyteller at heart who chooses photography as his medium.  He took his passion for Science Fiction and Fantasy to Los Angeles where he began Time of the Faeries, an epic retelling of the faerie mythology.  His stunning, ethereal, and realistic faeries, angels, and vampires can be seen in private collections and magazines all over the world.  His first book, published by Imaginosis Publishing, is a prologue into the Time of the Faeries universe.  Joseph is currently completing the four-part Afterlight graphic novel series and making appearances at conventions such as Dragon*con.

You show such great imagination in your art and writing, what do you do to nurture your imagination?

Music inspires me.  Every image is created in the presence of music.  I never work in silence.  I can never tell if music inspires the mood or the mood inspires the music, but I know for sure that the music that I am listening to is reflected directly in the image.

Who or what encouraged (or still encourages) you in your creative endeavours?  Have you always wanted to be a photographer? 

I picked up photography as a way to tell my stories.  I am a storyteller at heart, my head is always crazy filled with ideas, emotions, and visions that I want to lay down in story form.  I chose photography to illustrate these ideas.  The next step was for me to combine photography and storytelling into the graphic novel, Time of the Faeries: Afterlight.

My family, friends, fans, and models all encourage me to continue on this creative path. 

What challenges have you faced and how did you overcome them?

I took only one course of photography in my life!  And none in Photoshop.  Everything that I can do, I’ve had to learn on my own, the hard way, and not everything I do is standard.  At a convention panel one year, I announced to the audience that I don’t use masking and all the Photoshop users gasped.  At which point, I realized that I did something non-standard.  However, I make it work for me and incorporate it in as part of my organic, blending process.
What do you do when you are not creating amazing photographic art?

I watch an insane amount of movies with my wife, play with my four cats, and search for NEW music to listen to.
What is Time of the Faeries?

Time of the Faeries is an epic re-imagining of the faerie mythology, bringing gritty reality into fantasy. Currently, it is in the form of several books, and lots and lots of beautiful artwork based on photography and Photoshop.

Time of the Faeries, over the years, has developed into a massive storyline, taking us into a post-apocalyptic future and a not-so-idyllic past.

What is The Afterlight series?

The Afterlight Visual Novel Series combines digital art and narrative to create an epic four part tale, delving into the evolution of the new mythology.

What made you write Time of the Faeries: Afterlight?

Time of the Faeries grew quickly and spans 10,000 years of the past, present, and the future. As the story matures, I realized that it’s too big to be told in just one art form, one image at a time. Instead, it began to take the form of a novel series grounded in artwork. The Afterlight series is actually only the first series in the entire mythology already planned and drafted.

Where are the faeries?

The first book, Afterlight: End of the World, begins with the apocalyptic end, with angels hunting the last humans in existence. There are no faeries mentioned outright in the book! I started the story with this bleak future to show what the world would look like without faeries. Once the faeries arrive, then the fun can commence!

Why did you choose to make the angels the bad guys?

Someone had to be the bad guys, and many people will be mad that I chose the angels to be bloodthirsty killers. In the mythology, they represent the dogma of unchanging religion and the narrow mindset of “don’t rock the boat.”

How do you create your compositions?

My artwork is based on a collaboration with the people who model for me. First, we find a person with the “spark” or characteristics that we are looking for. We invite them to do a photoshoot with us, dress them up, then spend a few hours shooting and building a character. Finally, it’s time for me to sit at a computer for hours and days building the magick and background using Photoshop as my artistic tool. It is an intense process for me and the models.

Who are your favorite artists and authors?

I am a Sci-Fi movie fan. My heroes are J. Michael Stracynski, Joss Whedon, Ron Moore and Brian Fuller and other film storytellers. Visually, I am still inspired by Luis Royo and Brom, sexy and moody art.

Do you believe in faeries?

I do believe in faeries! I believe in the faeries of today, the modern, urban faeries, the people we meet at important juncture in our lives that sets us on a new path, the conversations at 3 a.m. that starts us reflecting, the serene girl out of the corner of our eyes with that something special about her…Yes, yes I do believe in faeries. Come play in my universe and you will too!

Tell us about yourself and what draws you to fantasy.

I’ve been a photographer for over ten years now, but got into fantasy photography about eight years ago. With a group of friends, I used to run around Long Island, NY taking photos and having fun. At one particular photoshoot, we shot a dozen faeries, creating individual wings and costumes for everyone. From that single photoshoot, I was inspired to create more fantasy art. Years later, Time of the Faeries evolved. Me personally, I’m a media geek, more drawn to Science Fiction than fantasy, the more epic, the better. District 9 has really inspired me to take a deeper look at my concept of a street faerie. My walls, shelves, and table tops are lined with Transformers figures and always have. I’m a fan. I guess that’s why I create art, because I enjoy this stuff!

What do you hope people will take away from your mythology?

On a trip to Tiajuana, Mexico, I got lost and found myself in the red light district, streets lined with young girls prostituting themselves. Their desolate poses as they stand there, waiting, struck me so deeply that I created the idea of the street faeries, creatures of magick lost in our urban lifestyle. What I hope people will draw from Time of the Faeries is that magick is there in our world, even in the grittiest of places. But at the end of the day, it's about people doing the work, not relying on fantasy or magick. --- It's about people working as people to evolve and create and better themselves and the world around them.

What new projects are you working on or are excited about right now?

Time of the Faeries: Afterlight graphic novel series is my major project right now.  It’s taking up all of my time, but I’m loving every minute of it.  I’m also working with a producer to turn Time of the Faeries into a major motion picture and an RPG video game.  

Thank you so much for visiting my blog today, I loved learning more about how you made this unique book!!!


The 8 page Prologue is available at in digital book form.

Book Review: Time of the Faeries by Joseph Corsentino

Book:  Time of the Faeries (Afterlight:  The End of the World series) by Joseph Corsentino, 98 pages, full colour graphic novel.

Source:  From the author via Bewitching Book Tours.

Time of the Faeries: Afterlight is a four-part graphic novel series that explores the origins of the Faeries, the evolution of Angels and Vampires from a common Fae ancestor, and their own unique adaptations to the modern world. It follows the alliances and tensions that develop between these three species as they struggle to protect human civilization or shape it to their will. The Afterlight follows several lines of cause and effect, revealing possible versions of the Apocalypse at the hands of all three species.

In the first book, Afterlight, End of the World, we begin at the end with the Angel Apocalypse: a dying Earth, ravaged by war, now hosts only a few scattered pockets of humanity. These last survivors are being hunted to extinction by starving Angels, their energy consumed so that the Angels might live. Below ground, a small band of shape-shifting male faeries called the Phelans struggle to protect the last collection of human life in Los Angeles and a mysterious young girl who may hold the key to their survival. Above ground, as the winged forces amass to complete their genocide, a lone Angel named Halyon struggles to understand what went wrong, and why her race now hunts the very people they were charged to protect. 

My Thoughts:
Time of the Faeries is a stunning book.  The photographic illustrations are incredible - I can't imagine the hours spent photographing, editing, Photoshopping and tweaking these photos to get the amazing effect.  Then to think that this is only the first book in this series - what an ambitious project!  The dark tones and moody lighting of the photos perfectly reflect the dark and bleak story being told.

I found that I loved savouring this book and the pictures.  The story was engaging, but I wanted more.  I could see that Corsentino was building the post-apocolyptic world and how it got that way in this installment.  There was a lot of description, which I am hoping is world building and that there will be more interaction in the next installments.

One of my biggest complaints was the actual text.  I received this is digital form and read it on my computer to get the best effect - an ereader would never do this book justice - but in making the text look worn and weathered, it was also difficult to read at times.  This completely stopped the flow of my reading in several places.  Hopefully, this is not an issue in the print copy.

The imagination displayed in this story is different and rich - it is the year 2078 and the Angels are killing off the last of the humans because the Angels believe they need the human's energy to survive.  It is interesting to cast the Angels in such a negative light, and to show humans as their victims and I love it when people create new mythologies.  I look forward to seeing how the Faeries fit into all of this.

I would recomend this book for those who like graphic novels and for those who like fantasy and are looking for something very visual.  This is not a chidren's book, however, and is probably best suited for young adult and adult readers.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Book Review: The Dragon Factory by Jonathan Maberry

BookThe Dragon Factory (Joe Ledger #2) by Jonathan Maberry, St. Martin's Griffin, 2010, 486 pages.

Source:  Library.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Joe Ledger and the DMS (Department of Military Sciences) go up against two competing groups of geneticists.  One side is creating exotic transgenic monsters and genetically enhanced mercenary armies; the other is using 21st century technology to continue the Nazi Master Race program begun by Josef Mengele.  Both sides want to see the DMS destroyed, and they've drawn first blood.  Neither side is prepared for Joe Ledger as he leads Echo Team to war under a black flag.

My Thoughts:
Joe Ledger returns in this fast paced, exciting second installment in the Joe Ledger series.  Maberry is a master of timing, creating tension, and gruesome imagination.  He has a way with first sentences, and The Dragon Factory is no exception:
Otto Wirths was the second-worst mass murderer in the history of the world.  Compared to him Hitler, Stalin, Attila the Hun, and even Alexander the Great were amateurs, poseurs who could not hold a candle to Otto and his body count. (p. 1)
There are so many things to grab attention here - it is hard to imagine worse mass murderers than Hitler, and this Otto guy is only the second-worst.  Who was the worst?  This sets us up for some scary characters.

The other thing that happens in this prologue is that we learn that things don't go well, that Joe will be on his own, injured with limited weapons, the Extinction Clock is just about to run out, but that he is still ready to fight to save humanity.  The rest of the book is told with the ticking of the Extinction Clock counting down like a time bomb and we know that it will come down to the wire.  This is great writing.

Dragon Factory is written in a hard hitting, macho style of writing that is perfectly suited to Joe Ledger, a member of the secret government agency, Department of Military Sciences.  This group saves the world from the worst of the terrorist threats without the world even knowing the threat exists.

Joe is an interesting character, tougher than tough, smart, strong, and yet human at the same time.  He struggles in his own mind about the things he has to do to beat the bad guys, how he has to become a warrior, though the civilized man in him is horrified.  Several of the other characters, especially Grace and Rudy Sanchez really humanize Joe.

There are so many creepy and horrible threats in this book, from the top two mass murderers ever in the world whose plan is so awful that it is hard to wrap the mind around it, to the creepy twins, and the horrors of using science for evil ends.  This is another area where Maberry excels, it is clear that he has done a lot of research on genetics and eugenics to add a layer of possibility to the story.

Finally, there is also the very interesting explorations about good vs. evil and nature vs. nurture.  I love it when books tackle big issues like these as I think it adds another dimension to the book.

I would highly recommend this book (or series for that matter) to those who like action, adventure, horror books. Be warned, though, these books are pretty violent and graphic.