Showing posts from January, 2013

Review--Steel's Edge

Steel's Edge by Ilona Andrews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've really enjoyed the Edge series by the writing team "Ilona Andrews". I was sorry to see the authors' note that this is the last Edge novel they're planning to write, because I think they've done some excellent world-building.

The final Edge book is about Charlotte, a Healer in the Weird, the magical land that borders our mundane world. Charlotte witnesses a slaver attack that rocks her world and changes what it means to be someone who will "do no harm" with her healing skills. She also meets Richard, an agent of the Weird whose mission it is to destroy slavers and their illicit operations.

All of our old friends from the Edge are back, including two of my favorite characters, the young brothers Jack and George. The writing is crisp and evocative and the story is engrossing. Fans of the series will enjoy it, and if you're new to the Edge, I recommend starting with On the Edge, book #1.


Thank you, Jane!

It's Pride and Prejudice's 200th anniversary! How are you going to celebrate? I'm debating between reading the novel again or watching the Colin Firth BBC production while sipping tea and eating ginger biscuits. Maybe I'll do both!

I also want to give a shout-out to one of the unsung heroines of P&P, Mrs. Bennet. Sure, she's silly and narrow-minded, but she realized her husband had not made adequate provision for their future and it was up to her to ensure that they survived after his death. The best way--perhaps the only way--would be for her five girls to marry well. She knew they'd be homeless because of the entailed property, and had to take care of them and herself in advance. So, kudos to you, Mrs. Bennet!

Review--Midnight Riot

Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this first Peter Grant novel. It's sf & fantasy set in modern London with overtones of Terry Pratchett, Jim Butcher and other authors who combine police & detective work with magic and spellcasting.  I'm looking forward to reading the next novel in this series, which is now an auto-buy for me.

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Dodger by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sir Terry's in fine form with "Dodger", a YA historical that brings forward a cast of characters including Charles Dickens, Benjamin Disraeli, Queen Victoria, Robert Peel and more from early Victorian London. Dodger himself incorporates some of the characteristics of the Dickens' character from Oliver Twist, but he's more human, more real, more one of London's own in this tale. If anything, Pratchett's Dodger incorporates elements of other Dickens' characters--Oliver Twist and Pip from Great Expectations: a young man seizing opportunities to better himself.

It will be enjoyed by regular readers of Terry Pratchett, and is also a good entry book for those unfamiliar with his wonderful Discworld.

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Earl Grey. Hot.

It's no secret I'm a coffee addict, but I also enjoy a properly made cuppa tea, something seldom found in US eateries. When you go out you're usually offered a teabag, a cup, and slightly warm water, and if you're lucky, an additional little extra water in a pot. So I don't order tea unless I'm in a teashop that's been vetted for me by someone who'll assure me the tea is loose and fresh. At home I have my own tea rituals: Each day at lunchtime I heat filtered cold water to 190F, rinse out a ceramic teapot with a splash of the hot water, spoon loose-leaf quality green tea into an infuser large enough for the leaves to dance and expand in their hot bath, steep it for 3-4 minutes (I use a timer), then put a cozy over the pot to keep it warm.

So from my good friend DG I'll share this profound truth: "Tea drinking in the US is like sex: it mostly doesn't happen in public, is usually in a private home, and you have to go to specialty shops to bu…

SwampCon, Jan. 12 & 13--UF

My SwampCon Schedule: I'll have books to autograph on Sunday, and when I'm not on panels you'll mostly find me at my table.

SwampCon is in the J. Wayne Reitz Union at the University of Florida

My program items:

4-5 p.m. Author Roundtable
10-11 p.m. Romance, Erotica, or both?

Autographing (check at table for times)
1-2 p.m. Putting the History into Alternate History
4-5 p.m. The View: Strong female, that is

There will be plenty of other authors, gamers, artists and more at SwampCon, and I'm looking forward to attending a SF & F con at my alma mater. Go Gators!

Fans and Friends are Everywhere!

I received a review of Pirate's Price from Japan today, and I almost broke out into my happy dance that scares the dog. Every time I receive a note or a review from a reader outside of the United States, it makes me glad again that I live and write in the 21st Century where my books can be accessed by readers all over the world. I was especially touched that this reader hunted down a paperback copy of Pirate's Price, because she wanted to read it based on another review.

I've heard from fans in the UK, Ireland, Australia, France, Canada, Brasil, Estonia, Germany, with US troops overseas (those notes are extra special), and from Israel. The picture you see here is me holding two of my books that I found in a used bookstore in Jerusalem.

If you're one of my readers outside of North America, please drop me a note at darlenemarshall [at] darlenemarshall [dot] com. It truly brightens my day to hear from any of my readers, but knowing my books are going around the world make…

Review--The Black Box

The Black Box by Michael Connelly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Harry Bosch is in fine form in this latest mystery. I like how Connelly has aged him in real time, and how Harry makes mistakes, but still has a passion for justice.

The scenes between Harry and his teenage daughter are particularly well-done, and Connelly has said he bases some of that on his interaction with his own teenager. The cluelessness of a father stumbling his way through his daughter's adolescence rings true, and brings the humanity of the worn-down and battered LAPD detective to light.

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Got Resolutions?

It's that time of year, when we take stock of what we've accomplished, and look forward to doing better in 2013. In 2012 I had a goal of finishing the WIP by the end of the year, and I'm about 75% done with the first draft. I set a goal at the Goodreads Reading Challenge of 200 books over the year, and got up to 190 (95%).

My goals were realistic, and I could have achieved them with a little bit of effort. Less TV and clicking on internet memes would have meant more books read. Less time spent on social media would mean more of the manuscript written. I can accomplish that in 2013. I've found the secret to success is to keep my goals realistic and achievable in small bites: Instead of being overwhelmed at the thought of finishing [working title] The Hot Pirate's Secret Baby and starting another 100K novel this year, I tell myself I'll work toward an additional 1,000 words of writing a day. That's eminently doable, and will get me to my goal in a realistic f…