Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Word Nerds Unite!

I had a great time with my little Reading Pal today. She picked a new book to read, and as soon as I opened it I got all excited in an extremely geeky fashion.

"Do you know what kind of book this is? No? I'm going to teach you a new word, a word a lot of grown ups don't know. Are you ready? The word is 'epistolary'."*

We looked up 'epistolary' in the dictionary so she'd be able to read the definition for herself (we had to pull out the large, grown-up Webster's Collegiate for this one), and then I showed her how the publisher had typeset the book to highlight the different chapters.

The novel is Dying to Meet You (43 Old Cemetery Road #1) by Kate Klise and M. Sarah Klise. While I'm very tempted to keep reading this epistolary novel on my own, I'm behaving myself until my Reading Pal and I get together this week.

Oh, and if you're wondering what an epistolary novel is, grab your dictionary!




*I was speaking to my son about it later and told him we were reading an epistolary novel.
"You're reading Griffin and Sabine with that child?"
"No, a different epistolary novel, though that is one of my favorites."

Review--Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle, #3)

Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle, #3)Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'd go for 4.5 stars if that were an option. The third book in the Raven Cycle won't make sense to people who haven't read the first two, but it's both deeply satisfying and yet unsatisfying with the cliffhanger ending to the fans of the series.

The satisfying part is we get more of the internal and external goings-on of the Raven Boys and Blue, we learn more about what happened with Blue's mother and Mr. Gray and Mr. Gray's employer, and we gain some characters and lose others.

It's the characters that make the story so solid. Even the henchmen have interesting stories, and secondary characters like Jesse make the tale that much more entertaining.

Like the others, I'm anxiously awaiting book four.


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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Boskone 52 Mini-Interviews

I'm one of the participating authors being interviewed today at the Boskone blog, and you can check it out here: BoskoneBlog Mini-Interviews. I've got my snow boots dusted off and I'm ready to brave Boston's weather to join fans and friends at the annual conference in February.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Review--The Creole Affair: The Slave Rebellion That Led the U.S. and Great Britain to the Brink of War

The Creole Affair: The Slave Rebellion That Led the U.S. and Great Britain to the Brink of WarThe Creole Affair: The Slave Rebellion That Led the U.S. and Great Britain to the Brink of War by Arthur T. Downey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Excellent, well written history of a little remembered, but very important, incident that strained US/UK relations to the point of war.

Antebellum US was dealing with its "original sin", the slaves and slave states and territories of the Southern US. The British West Indies were emancipated by 1838, creating an opportunity for slaves to escape from the US to the islands, and that's exactly what the slaves aboard the US brig Creole did while they were being shipped to New Orleans.

The writing is clear and accessible to the armchair historian as well as the serious scholar, and the personalities are fascinating. I enjoyed it very much.


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Monday, January 12, 2015

Review--A Rogue's Paradise: Crime and Punishment in Antebellum Florida, 1821-1861

A Rogue's Paradise: Crime and Punishment in Antebellum Florida, 1821-1861A Rogue's Paradise: Crime and Punishment in Antebellum Florida, 1821-1861 by James M. Denham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another outstanding history that kept me turning pages when I should have been doing other things. Denham's comprehensive and extremely well-documented overview of Antebellum Florida's law enforcement gives a clear view of the frontier society, where justice was often administered by lynch mobs, where the lack of prisons and law enforcement offices truly made it a "rogue's paradise" and where fear of slave insurrections kept the public paranoid and twitchy.

This book is a valuable asset for anyone writing historical fiction about the Florida frontier, and of interest to all who like a glimpse into history that's more than kings, queens and huge battles.


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Boskone 52--My schedule

I've given my winter wardrobe a once-over, so it must be time for Boskone 52. As I've said before, you know it's special if I'm willing to drag my Florida self up to Boston in February. Here's a blurb explaining all:

"Boskone is New England's longest running science fiction and fantasy convention. Join us for a weekend of fun at the Westin Waterfront Hotel in Boston, MA from February 13-15, 2015. Programming begins at 2:00 pm on Friday, February 13th and is free to the public from 2:00-6:00 pm. Memberships are required after 6:00 pm on Friday and throughout the duration of the convention. For more information, visit www.boskone.org"

MY SCHEDULE:

An (M) next to my name means I'm moderating that panel.

Growing Up in "Game of Thrones"

Friday 17:00 - 17:50, Harbor I (Westin)
The consequences of their parents’ plots sit squarely upon the shoulders of the Stark, Lannister, and Targaryen children. Their childhoods are gone, and they must come quickly into their own strengths if they hope to live through the great Game of Thrones. But have the adults underestimated the youngsters’ value — and valor — as players? How will they evolve? Who will survive? Who will gain power? Who will surprise them all?
Darlene Marshall (M)(darlenemarshall@darlenemarshall.com), D. Lynn Smith, Valerie Estelle Frankel, Laurie Mann, Peadar Ó Guilín.

The Antihero

Saturday 10:00 - 10:50, Lewis (Westin)
Science fiction and fantasy with an antiheroic protagonist goes back at least to Lucifer/Satan in Milton's Paradise Lost. In these dark days, have we been seeing a rise in the number of antiheros in fiction? Is it harder or easier to write an antihero? Is it more or less satisfying to the reader? Why are antiheroes so popular?
Bob Kuhn (M), Laird Barron, Paul Di Filippo, Scott Lynch, Darlene Marshall(darlenemarshall@darlenemarshall.com)

Mythic Love and Epic Romance

Saturday 11:00 - 11:50, Harbor III (Westin)
Some of the greatest love stories come from ancient mythology, such as Psyche and Cupid or Odysseus and Penelope. However, great love stories that span the fantastic and (in some cases) the centuries also come in more modern tales, featuring couples such as Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese, Bella and Edward, Wesley and Buttercup, Dr. Frankenstein and Elizabeth, and Count Dracula and Mina. What do these tales of love and romance tell us about love? What do these epic love stories tell us about ourselves? And why are we drawn to them?
Darlene Marshall (M)(darlenemarshall@darlenemarshall.com), Debra Doyle, Max Gladstone, Chris Jackson, Ada Palmer.

Paranormal Romance Before It Was Cool

Saturday 14:00 - 14:50, Harbor II (Westin)
Paranormal romance is one of today's hottest genres, but it wasn't always that way. Panelists discuss the origins and early works that built the foundation for today's paranormal romance genre. What are some of the foundational works? What and who should you be reading from the early days of paranormal romance? Why did it take off like it did?
Leigh Perry (M), Melissa Marr, Darlene Marshall(darlenemarshall@darlenemarshall.com) , Carrie Vaughn.

Reading: Darlene Marshall

Saturday 15:30 - 15:55, Griffin (Westin)

Darlene Marshall(darlenemarshall@darlenemarshall.com)

Autographing: A.C.E. Bauer, Darlene Marshall, Leigh Perry (Toni L. P. Kelner), Karl Schroeder

Sunday 10:00 - 10:50, Galleria-Autographing (Westin)

A.C.E. Bauer, Leigh Perry, Darlene Marshall, Karl Schroeder

Swashbuckling

Sunday 12:00 - 12:50, Harbor I (Westin)
Swashbuckling adventure models itself on tales of privateers like Sir Francis Drake (latter half of the 16th century), buccaneers like Henry Morgan (mid-17th century), and pirates like Blackbeard (turn of the 18th century). We even see suitably swashbuckling pirates in the Caribbean into the early 19th century. Who today is writing adventure stories that tap this rich vein? How are they adapted for fantasy and science fiction? What is the appeal for a speculative fiction-loving audience? What happens when these stories go arrr-wry?
James Cambias (M), Steven Brust, Chris Jackson, Darlene Marshall(darlenemarshall@darlenemarshall.com)

The Evolution of Urban Fantasy

Sunday 13:00 - 13:50, Harbor III (Westin)
Now wildly popular, urban fantasy first appeared on our literary radar in the 1980s — showcasing works by Charles de Lint, Neil Gaiman, and Terri Windling. Today, the genre embraces elements of paranormal romance, horror, and noir in books such as The Mortal Instruments, The Sookie Stackhouse Series, and The Dresden Files. Why is urban fantasy so successful? Are there further opportunities for writers in this genre, or is fantasy with a modern setting morphing into science-fantasy? What are our favorite urban fantasy books? Whom should we be reading?
Darlene Marshall (M)(darlenemarshall@darlenemarshall.com) , ML Brennan, Ginjer Buchanan, Leigh Perry, Max Gladstone.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Review--Black London: Life Before Emancipation

Black London: Life Before EmancipationBlack London: Life Before Emancipation by Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Excellent history. While we get a relatively small amount of African-American history in most public schools in the US, there's very little focus on African-Anglo life and how it affected attitudes here pre-emancipation.

This book was enlightening and entertaining.


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Review--Forever in My Heart

Forever in My Heart (Dennehy Sisters, #3)Forever in My Heart by Jo Goodman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this novel more than I thought I would. At first I found the plot contrived, but the more I read, the more it grew on me. The love story developed in an interesting and coherent fashion, and the secondary characters were great--even, or especially, The Other Woman.

I'm glad I have the opportunity to catch up on some of Ms. Goodman's older Western romances in new ebook editions. Her new ones have been an autobuy for me for some time, so this is a treat.


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Sunday, January 04, 2015

Review--The Burning Room

The Burning Room (Harry Bosch, #19)The Burning Room by Michael Connelly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Very powerful, very satisfying chapter in the Harry Bosch saga. Harry's coming to the end of his time with the LAPD. He's still working cold cases, looking at crimes that remain unsolved. He's partnered with a hotshot young woman, Lucy Soto, who's a rising star in the department, there to be mentored by an old gumshoe like Harry.

They're investigating two cases, one of which has a very personal connection to Lucy. Harry's not looking forward to retirement and wants to close as many cases as possible, but when they start turning over rocks to look at suspects, what they find could come back to bite them.

Fans of the series will enjoy it with a touch of bittersweet feelings as Harry ages out of active police work. New fans are recommended to start with the first books to get the full flavor and enjoyment of Connelly's excellent writing.


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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Cleaning out the old, and a resolution or two

Cleaning is usually at the very bottom of my "to do" list, somewhere after "sleep" and "invent flying car". However, I had the dictum "You don't put flowers on a dirty table!" drilled into me at an early age, so when I got a spiffy new pen display case, I knew I had to clean my desk before I could put my fountain pens in their new home.

Once I cleaned my desk I realized I now had a floor to contend with, and bookshelves going gray and...well, you know how these things escalate.

It's probably a good thing. I found books and notes under piles of other books and notes, the dust bunnies ran in terror from the corners of the office and the windows are letting in sufficient sunlight.  Here's a picture of my desktop with the new pen home. They seem very happy in their swanky surroundings.





While 2014 was a difficult year because of the death of my elderly canine companion, it also saw a great deal of joy. My eldest son is engaged to be married and both my boys are doing wonderful things with their lives, teaching, working, making the world better. My husband is golfing more, which is a good thing--it means he's not working so hard.

I've gained many new fans over 2014, and hope to meet even more readers in 2015. My new year's resolutions are more of the same: Finish the book (#8, working title: The Legend of Marauding Mattie, or, The Pirate, Her Cabin Boy and What the Parrot Saw) in a timely fashion, and keep walking for exercise. I've already started ramping up the daily walk from two miles to three miles. If I start in the Florida winter, it's easier to endure it in a Florida summer.

How about you? Any special resolutions to welcome in the new year?