Anne’s Book Club 10

I love reading trilogies, tetralogies, and series. If you don’t want to wait a year (or sometimes two) between books, here’s a list of trilogies that are coming to an end, sadly, this year (in order of release):

daughtersmokebonetrilogy
Daughter of Smoke and Bone
, Days of Blood and Starlight, and Dreams of Gods and Monsters (Apr 2014) by Laini Taylor is a gorgeous sweeping story of monsters, love, teeth, lies, hope, and reincarnation. Laini Taylor is one of my favorite YA authors. Her writing is rich and lyrical. It will transport you from a magical Prague to a deadly land of dust and starlight. These books will leave you breathless and aching in all the right ways.

Note: I first fell in love with Laini Taylor’s writing when I read Lips Touch Three Times. Audrey reviewed it here after I foisted it on her to read.

grishatrilogyShadow and Bone, Siege and Storm, and Ruin and Rising (17 Jun 2014) by Leigh Bardugo is a unique and wildly imaginative tale of summoners, sunlight, darkness, beauty, ugliness, friendship, and romance.  Leigh Bardugo writes magic that sparkles on the page. Her world is enriched by Russian language and folklore, but it’s all her own. The Darkling is sinister and trapped by his own lust for power. Alina and Mal are mismatched and matched brilliantly.

Note: I picked up the first book at the library completely based on the cover. I’m so glad I did. It was a thrilling read. (Also, a New York Times Bestseller, but I didn’t know that at the time.)

strangedeadlytrilogy
Something Strange and Deadly, A Darkness Strange and Lovely, and Strange and Ever After (22 Jul 2014) by Susan Dennard is sprawling epic that weaves zombies, spirit-hunters, steampunk, necromancy, love, and demons. Susan Dennard writes some intense action scenes. Anyone who enjoys historical fantasy will inhale these books. The settings of Philadelphia and Paris are delightful. I can’t wait to read about Egypt in the third book!

Note: Something Strange and Deadly is the first book in the trilogy. I put it in the middle of my collage so it looks like the other two cover girls are looking at her.

throneglasstrilogy
Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight, and Heir of Fire (2 Sep 2014) by Sarah J. Maas is an epic fantasy that brings together assassins, political intrigue, sexy heroes, castles, mystery, and one of the baddest-ass female protags in Celaena Sardothien. Sarah J. Maas also writes terrific fight scenes. Each book is told from three points of view: Celaena, Chaol, and Dorian. Each of them are hiding something exquisite, and the twists and turns to reveal these things are divine.

Note: Sarah J. Maas and Susan Dennard are critique partners. It’s no wonder I like both of their trilogies, which are wildly different and amazing.

lynburnlegacytrilogy
Unspoken, Untold, and Unmade (23 Sep 2014) by Sarah Rees Brennan is a quirky story with a diverse cast, a quaint English town, magic, mystery, family legacies, and a plucky heroine. Sarah Rees Brennan is known for her humorous voice, and she certainly delivers in these books. However, there’s a darker side too, filled with need and murder. The two main protags have been able to communicate psychically since they were little things. I loved being in Kami’s head, which is funny because I’m pretty sure Jared did as well.

Note: Sarah Rees Brennan also wrote the delicious The Demon’s Lexicon trilogy, which I highly recommend. The twist in book one was perfect. It made me question things. Things I can’t tell you because I’m not going to spoil it.

darkestmindstrilogy
The Darkest Minds, The Darkest Minds Never Fade, and The Darkest Minds Never Fade In the After Light (28 Oct 2014) by Alexandra Bracken is a page-flipping thriller that deals with powers, a sadistic government, escapes, road trips, creating family, and hard choices. Alexandra Bracken writes about a future where a disease has killed most of its children. Those that did live are burdened with powers that many adults think made the kids monsters. In a world of brutality, Ruby finds love and answers to long-guarded secrets. But will she survive?

Note: I was a huge fan of comics/superheroes as a kid. These novels hit all the right buttons for me. I can see this set of books being turned into a Hollywood franchise.

Are there any trilogies, tetralogies, or series ending this year you think I should read? Let me know in the comments!

“King and Lionheart” by Of Monsters and Men Inspires Anne

Of Swords and Other Things

I watch from atop the fences as two lanky boys kick up clouds of dust under shuffling feet. The sword master and a group of five other boys line the practice circle. The reek of unwashed bodies made worse by vigorous thrusts and parries catches on the breeze. Lantsida and her twin, Basina, escaped inside to finish their needlework rather than be subject to the rank odor for one instant longer. I’ve grown used to the musky roughness of young men. It sings of hard work and determination, an outlet for frustration and anger.

It’s home. It’s Hal.

The layered fabric of their practice doublets blunts the sound of a solid hit. Hal always wins and gives a raucous cheer, which most of the boys echo. He raises his arms in celebration, reveling a strip of bare skin that sends waves of delight through me. Even missing his left eye, Hal never fails to strike a killing blow. Basina says the other boys let him win because he’s their One True Prince. Mama slapped the back of her hand with a wooden spoon the last time she said it. We’re not to speak of Hal as anything other than the orphan boy we took in nearly ten years ago. He’s not His Royal Majesty Prince Henry Louis Philip Charles Valois. That name is supposed to taste like ashes in our mouth.

Instead, it tastes like hope. The royal line didn’t all expire in that tower.

Hal’s taller and more slender than most boys his age. Raven-haired and gray-eyed like his mother. The shape of his full bottom lip closely resembles his father’s mouth. Anyone who worked in the palace would know him, even with the ragged scar that mars the perfect symmetry of his facial planes. He wears his hair longer on the left side to hang down over the deformity.

He’s beautiful in ways that other boys will never be. His kindness shines like the stars at night: quiet and delicate.

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Anne’s Book Club 09

Bernie Wrightson's FrankensteinFrankenstein: or The Modern Prometheus by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (summary by Amazon.com):

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is one of the masterpieces of nineteenth-century Gothicism. While staying in the Swiss Alps in 1816 with her lover Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, and others; Mary, then eighteen, began to concoct the story of Dr. Victor Frankenstein and the monster he brings to life by electricity. Written in a time of great personal tragedy, it is a subversive and morbid story warning against the dehumanization of art and the corrupting influence of science. Packed with allusions and literary references, it is also one of the best thrillers ever written. Frankenstein; Or, the Modern Prometheus was an instant bestseller on publication in 1818. The prototype of the science fiction novel, it has spawned countless imitations and adaptations but retains its original power.

My Thoughts on FRANKENSTEIN:

The first time I read this book I was thirteen. It was the hardback with wood-carvings by Lynd Ward. I remember being inspired by Shelley’s use of “big words” that I had to look up in a dictionary. She was eighteen when she wrote it, which meant, I had time to expand my own vocabulary. I remember the swelling feelings of compassion for Victor’s creature as I read. Somehow, I’ve been rooting for the monsters for a very long time.

I picked up the book again when I was a senior in high school. I received the illustrated version for Christmas. Bernie Wrightson’s artwork was as moving as the text. I spent hours pouring over every minute detail. Having been a comic book fan for as long as I could read, I treasured this version. (And when a classmate knocked a glass of water across the table and ruined my book, I felt the loss in a profound and deep way.)

“It was the secrets of heaven and earth that I desired to learn; and whether it was the outward substance of things, or the inner spirit of nature and the mysterious soul of man that occupied me, still my inquiries were directed to the metaphysical, or, in its highest sense, the physical secrets of the world.”

So much of the text that I didn’t grasp as a thirteen-year-old suddenly became as clear as the black and white illustrations. Bernie’s style is made-up of artists that came before, patched-up into this gorgeous movement of shadow and light — just like Frankenstein’s creature. It’s interesting how many of Lynd Ward’s wood-carvings depict the same moments as Bernie Wrightson’s drawings, as if they both felt the same thing in reading the same words. As Mary admits in her forward, she was inspired by The Iliad, Shakespeare’s Tempest and Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Milton’s Paradise Lost. I finally believed that words had the power to create/inspire. When we write/paint/sculpt, we’re all Victor Frankenstein.

Finished reading Frankenstein again this week. I’m older. I’m not sure if I’m wiser, but I have more experience now than at thirteen or seventeen. I still feel for the creature though. He murders a number of characters throughout the novel, but I forgive him. I understand why he did it. I don’t know if that makes me monstrous. Both creator and created are social outcasts: the creature for his exterior, the creator for his arrogance at playing God. They’re well matched. But after reading, I’m not entirely sure who is the man and who the creature.

What do you think?

“Love Song to California” by Jen Hickman Inspires Anne

LoveSongtoCalifornia_JenHickmanLa Terreur

3 November 1793

Paris, France

The bells are ringing in Saint-Germain-des-Prés across the Seine. I pull my shawl tighter with each peal as I try to keep my slippers clean as I walk as quickly down the Rue Honoré. The pale pink shoes are the only nice thing I have on. It wouldn’t do to wear the matching silk gown. Papa would have noticed that slipping out the back gate. I borrowed the dress and shawl from Claire, but her feet were too big and her boots clunked and slipped when I walked. I glance up at the darkening sky.

A shout from a man on a mud-splattered white horse stops me. I nearly ran into its path. I turn and cling to a lamppost and lean my cheek into it, squeezing my eyes shut tight. Maybe this is a bad idea.

I came down to breakfast this morning to find Mama fretting around the house, her handkerchief pressing into her reddened eyes. I followed her to the blue parlor at the back of our townhouse.

“Mama?” I ask, placing a hand on her arm and turning her toward me. Her eyes dancing everywhere but on me. “Mama? What is wrong?”

Papa slams open the front door, thumps hurriedly down the hall, bursts upon us, and heads straight to the cognac on the sideboard. Two glasses later, he turns to us.

“It must be tonight, Mama.” She nods. Her eyes seem to focus as her pupils expand engulfing the blue into black.

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When Worlds Collide by Anne (an April Fool’s Extra)

Tower Bridge © Copyright, Anne Marie 2008. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Tower Bridge © Copyright, Anne Marie 2008. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

*Go here and here to read the origins of this story*

Break Your Heart

The snap of power used during the divination burns the skin above my collarbone. It takes the breath of a star to get to Cheapside, London from Réunion in the Indian Ocean.

London hits me in the face with unwashed bodies stuffed into filthy clothes. Ratty-haired women roam the streets selling themselves. The reek of burning coal and sickness hang heavy in the cold November air, a sharp contrast from the fresh sea air and white sand beaches. Like a pack of vultures, my psychopomps swoop down to join me on the street leaching color with their black wings.

Two boys, arms slung around each other’s shoulder, step from behind darkly polished doors. Power emanates from behind them, blinding me with its multicolored light. Light shining like a beacon in the dark. It sings to me. Tempts me to cross that threshold and touch every single person playing fortuneteller until the light blinks out in a wink. But the taller boy carries darkness in his pocket like a handkerchief. He’s the one.

I remove my black-lace gloves and follow. The gang hangs back; their eyes burn holes through the fabric of my gown. Usually, I remain out of human’s sight. Unless they belong to the Diviner’s Club; they see through my illusions.

“Paul,” says the taller boy, doomed and unaware, “stop holding a candle to the devil and give us the goods.”

The other boy shakes his head, and then moves the brim of his baker boy up and down on his forehead. He drops his arm off his friend’s shoulders. Good, I don’t want to accidentally touch him. They look behind them, Paul stares right at me. He holds a hand up as if to say, “We’re not interested.” I smile, wide-mouthed and bright-eyed. He doesn’t carry the mark; he’s touched with light. Interesting.

My buttoned boots click clack click in rhythm with their steps. The taller boy doesn’t notice a thing. He continues ribbing Paul to learn some secret. Maybe he wants to know that his true future was told in subtle riddles, but Paul doesn’t have the first idea how to tease out the true meaning. He whips his head behind him a number of times before his friend notices.

“What’s got your knickers in a twist?” The other boy scans behind them, seeing no one.

“There’s a lady following us,” Paul whispers. I catch his words as they echo off the building and continue down the breeze.

A carriage led by a team of four clops down the cobbled street, distracting both boys. I slide ahead of them, faster than starlight racing across the universe. Paul’s friend flinches a tiny bit when I brush a cold hand against his cheek. He steps out in front of the horses. One of them bucks up, kicking well-manicured hooves into the boy’s face and chest. He falls in slow-motion, grabbing the pocket of his coat where the darkness hides.

The carriage bumps and hops over his broken body before stopping with a “Whoa!” and harsh yank on the reins. Both driver and passenger leap toward us. A pool of crimson spreads out, staining the stones and reflecting the gaslight in muted sparks. I replace my gloves, feeling the brush of dark wings sweep past me. My psychopomps surround the body.

Paul walks to me and beats his fists against my chest. The men from the carriage gape at him. They might do worse if they could see he was assaulting a woman.

“He was my future!” he screams against the wind, tears streaming down his cheeks.

~*~*~*~*~
A/N: Happy April Fools! I hope you enjoyed our mash-ups. We were inspired by last month’s Craft Discussion: World Building.

Anne’s No Rules Friday 08

The companion piece, Back to You, is now live!

Motorbike "Indian Scout" (1929) © Copyright Joachim Köhler, 2006. Used by permission of the Creative Commons License

Motorbike “Indian Scout” (1929) © Copyright, Joachim Köhler 2006. Used with permission. Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 United States License.

In Repair

An undiscovered back road stretches out in front of me. Dead leaves and melting piles of snow outline my twisting route leading me deeper into the woods. The Scout’s tires eat up the cracked and neglected asphalt. My helmet’s sitting on the back of the bike. I should be wearing it. I know I should, but I want to feel the wind’s fingers in my hair, want to smell the gasoline off the bike.

The first warm day in weeks woke me up to all the possibilities of spring. My leather jacket isn’t zipped up, and the wind whooshes in and around my body. In its holster, my gun tap tap taps against my ribcage, as I shift into second gear. The bike flies past the aspen and pine trees. I want more than a taste of spring. I need this weather to last all week.

The bike shudders when I shift into third. I ignore it, give it more gas, and curse under my breath as the bike coasts to a stop. The forest goes quiet around me, as if the creatures living in it hold a collective breath. I get off the bike, thinking twice before kicking it hard. The whole thing topples over into the dirt.

“Sure, Rosa, make it worse.”

For an hour, I vacillate between walking up and down the road trying to get a signal on my phone and tinkering with the bike’s metal parts. Rust and grime cover my hands, and I’m pretty sure I’ve got streaks of the stuff across my forehead. Elías will kill me for taking the bike out before we finished restoring it, but living through another of Papi’s benders wasn’t gonna happen.

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Anne’s Book Club 08

SAtrilogycoversSummerset Abbey by T. J. Brown (summary from Amazon.com):

1913: In a sprawling manor on the outskirts of London, three young women seek to fulfill their destinies and desires amidst the unspoken rules of society in this stunning series starter that fans of Downton Abbey will love.

Rowena Buxton

Sir Philip Buxton raised three girls into beautiful and capable young women in a bohemian household that defied Edwardian tradition. Eldest sister Rowena was taught to value people, not wealth or status. But everything she believes will be tested when Sir Philip dies, and the girls must live under their uncle’s guardianship at the vast family estate, Summerset Abbey. Standing up for a beloved family member sequestered to the “underclass” in this privileged new world, and drawn into the Cunning Coterie, an exclusive social circle of aristocratic “rebels,” Rowena must decide where her true passions—and loyalties—lie.

Victoria Buxton

Frail in body but filled with an audacious spirit, Victoria secretly dreams of attending university to become a botanist like her father. But this most unladylike wish is not her only secret—Victoria has stumbled upon a family scandal that, if revealed, has the potential to change lives forever…

Prudence Tate

Prudence was lovingly brought up alongside Victoria and Rowena, and their bond is as strong as blood. But by birth she is a governess’s daughter, and to the lord of Summerset Abbey, that makes her a commoner who must take her true place in society—as lady’s maid to her beloved “sisters.” But Pru doesn’t belong in the downstairs world of the household staff any more than she belongs upstairs with the Buxton girls. And when a young lord catches her eye, she begins to wonder if she’ll ever truly carve out a place for herself at Summerset Abbey.

My Thoughts on SUMMERSET ABBEY and an interview with author Teri Brown:

First, and rather shallowly of me, the covers for these three novels are GORGEOUS! The Belle Époque has always been one of my favorite times in history (though I have many. But, come on, the costumes! Budding technology! Historical amazements!). I haven’t had the pleasure to watch Downton Abbey, but I’ve enjoyed several films and books that take place (and were written) during these years. I was really pleased to see how each of the three main characters navigated the time period growing into strong independent women against an incredible historical background.

Teri writes with such rich detail that I couldn’t help but be swept up and read them all over the span of a long weekend. It’s interesting that I’ve been reading more contemporary lately because as I’ve said before I love fantasy, but I recommend these to anyone who likes this time period, strong heroines, and engaging story-telling. These books are definitely ones that cross the boundary from adult to YA. The youngest protagonist begins in her teens and ends at, I believe, 19. They’re not graphically violent or sexual, and would appeal to readers of all ages. In fact, I think our own Audrey would love them.

Through the power of Twitter I discovered her books. Teri was kind enough to let me ask her a few questions about her Summerset Abbey trilogy. Viva les médias sociaux!

The Summerset Abbey trilogy takes place during what the French call the Belle Époque (Americans call it the “Gilded Age” and the English call it the “Edwardian Age”, but I like the French version best). What drew you to this time period in particular to set your novels?

I’ve always loved this time period even before I knew it was a time period! I look back at the books I read as a child and so many of my favorites take place in the late 1800’s early or 1900’s like, Amanda Miranda by Richard Peck, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith or So Big by Edna Ferber. When I saw Downton Abbey I realized that it was actually the Edwardian Period and I knew I wanted to write a series about it.

The costumes, settings, autos, and jewelry are richly drawn. How much research did you do to write this trilogy?

I did a lot of Research, but I was on a very tight writing schedule as well. I took a class from a woman who was an expert in the period and then hired her to help me with research duties. Whenever I had a question, I would just shoot it off to her and she would get on it. That way I was able to finish the stories and go back in an layer more details. That’s pretty much the way I work with all my historicals… story, characters and plot first, then details.

Throughout each book, Rowena, Victoria, and Prudence take over narrating duties. Did you write the book linearly and change perspectives according to story demands, or … ?

I wrote each book from start to finish. They seemed to come very organically for me. Of course, I was fighting cancer during the writing of these books and with the back to back deadlines, there was no way for me to write any other way! Only a few times would I have to go back and rewrite a scene in someone else’s POV.

This was written as a trilogy, but each book could certainly be read as a stand-alone. However, how much of each main characters’ end journey did you know before you started?

Honestly, I knew very little about their individual journeys when I first started the trilogy. I think of each of the books as focusing on one particular character arc, though they all grow during each book. For instance, The first books was Prudence’s book. The second was Victoria’s and Rowena got the final book, though Kit and Victoria didn’t get their happy ending either until the third book, but I think Victoria did most of her growing in book two.

What are you working on now?

I’m currently researching and working on an adult novel called Saffron Skies which takes place in 1911 India. It’s about a sharp tongued young woman who was a part of the “Fishing Fleet”, which is what they called women who went husband hunting in India during the time of the British Raj. She falls in love with a half English half Indian clerk and all sorts of troubles ensue. The research has been wonderful fun.

Thank you so much, Teri, for talking to me about your process with this trilogy! I also discovered that Teri also writes YA books. Born of Illusion is currently sitting in my tbr pile. Check it, and her historical novels out, at your local bookstore or library.

TJBrown_authorphotoAbout the author: Teri Brown is proud of her two children but coming in a close second is the fact that she parachuted out of a plane and beat the original Legend of Zelda video game.

She is a word scribbler, head banger, math hater, book reader, rule breaker, food fixer, novel writer, kitty keeper, and city slicker. Teri lives with her husband and way too many pets in Portland, Oregon.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Buy SUMMERSET ABBEY Today: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

“Human” by Ethel Veva King Inspires Anne

HumanEthelVevaKingHuman Behavior

Naveera never felt more alive than during nighttime in Manhattan. Her boyfriend, Damien, gripped her hand tight, as he led her past lampposts and tourists on Fashion Avenue. One of the design firms held a by-invitation-only rave for tonight only. Damien scored the invite because he knew a girl who worked there. It gave Naveera a funny feeling that Damien always knew a girl, like falling from a height or getting high.

From across the street, strobe lights pulsed on one of the upper floors. Shadows flickered past the windows, followed by the familiar trails of glow sticks. She let herself be pulled toward the stone building, past the line of clubbers, and right up to the side door. The bouncer barely looked in her direction as he nodded Damien through.

After spending nearly $350 on a fake ID that she didn’t get the chance to use, Naveera gritted her teeth. The guy that printed it promised it would pass scanners and black light tests with a money-back guarantee. She wanted to test the theory. The only thing he couldn’t promise was her seventeen-ass self would pass for twenty-two. Naveera eyed her wardrobe: short skirt, tight top, and a push-up bra. So much skin, and the damn bouncer glossed her over!

A thick girl, with piercings Naveera envied, waved them further into the building. “I’m so glad you made it!” the girl’s lip ring cooed. “The rest of your band’s not here yet.”

“Oh,” Damien said. He didn’t match the other girl’s smile. Warm relief flooded through Naveera. “It’s early.”

She watched the girl’s pierced eyebrow raised when Damien introduced her as his girlfriend. Naveera shook the other girl’s hand, secretly feeling sorry for disappointing her. Clearly, she thought Damien was available. Clearly, Damien let her think it.

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Anne’s No Rules Friday 07

lacrossestickSticks and Stones

Try-outs for the varsity lacrosse team were on Friday. They promised the roster would be posted today by noon. I’m sitting here, pretending to eat my lunch, waiting for the results. It’s rare that a freshman makes the varsity team. I know that. Still, I have hope. My friend, Aki, and I are both freshers this year. I bet he’ll make it. He’s one of the top underage attackers in the state.

“Don’t worry, Alex” Aki says, shoving almost a full sandwich into his mouth. He talks around the bread and meat. “Even if you don’t make varsity this year, you have three more, yeah?”

“I guess.”

It’s hard to argue with a guy when he’s spitting his lunch on you.

He drinks a long swig of chocolate milk. “Plus, we’ve got athletic scholarships. They already think we’re white-hot gold. Why would they hold back on us now?”

“Alright. Alright,” I say, throwing up my hands. As if to prove my defeat, I take a tiny bite out of my chicken quesadilla. The lunch ladies really didn’t out-do themselves today. It’s hard to swallow, but I chug down half a bottle of apple juice.

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