If not... well, the internets beat me again.
UPDATE: I'm sorta liking what I've ended up with now. What do you think? If you run into any weird things, please let me know. The only real wall I've run into is trying to figure out why in the heck my background won't change to the file I've specified...grrr...anyone particularly savvy at coding that has any helpful tips?
Dangerous as her job may be, Kira happens to be quite good at what she does and has carved out a small, happy existence in Atlanta with a few trusted friends to rely on. That is until Kira's world is turned upside-down after learning that her much admired handler and mentor was killed by a vicious Seeker Demon searching for a centuries old blood thirsty knife that her handler had previously passed onto Kira for authentication. Hurting and not sure of whom to trust, Kira is forced to join forces with the dagger's previous owner Khefar - a Nubian warrior almost as old as the dagger itself - who has his own agenda where the knife is concerned. Though the pair constantly but heads, they agree that the demon and its guide must be stopped before it can loose more destruction on the unsuspecting city. And if Kira happens to take a little vengeance in the course of things, so much the better.
Although Shadow Blade started out fairly slow, I quickly fell into the rhythm of Kira's intense narrative. I usually really enjoy it when an author plops me firmly into their story, forcing me to find my way around, but I sort of floundered around until I felt I had a good grasp on Kira's background. Once I began to understand her motives, her history - her thoughts and feelings became much more relate-able and quite believable. Kira and Khefar also had some nice moments together. I've said it before, but I really appreciate an author who knows how to take their time developing relationships. Seressia Glass does an admirable job of slowly building tension between Kira and Khefar without neglecting the story itself. Always a good thing in my book. Additionally, the layered mythology and Kira's fascination for antiquities laid a very solid foundation for Ms. Glass' tough leading lady. Not all of Kira's many secrets were revealed and her relationship with Khefar was far from resolved, leaving Ms. Glass plenty of room for her likable characters to maneuver around in the next ShadowChasers novel, Shadow Chase.
series reading order:
~ Shadow Blade
~ Shadow Chase (July 2010)
blog tour participants:
All Things Urban Fantasy review
Drey's Library review
Jeanne's Ramblings review
The Neverending Shelf
Pick of the Literate review
The Wayfaring Writer review
book source: provided by the publisher, Pocket Books
After finding herself with a broken heart yet again, Penny decides to swear off boys (except the Beatles) until after high school, choosing instead to focus on herself and her girlfriends by creating The Lonely Hearts Club (so named after the Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band album). Penny couldn't be happier with her new found freedom, even if she is only a club of one. But word of Penny's new club spreads quickly among the girls of her school who are also eager to shed their boy-troubles and Penny quickly finds herself on the outs with nearly every boy, some particularly catty girls, and even her principal.
There were several things to love about Elizabeth Eulberg's debut novel The Lonely Hearts Club. First off, any novel that takes not only its title but several character names and a 'date' to a Beatles impersonators concert from the Fab Four cannot help but be entertaining. Additionally, I adore the lighthearted cover with its modern girly Abbey Road inspired cover. I also applaud Eulberg for creating some strong female characters who recognize the futility of centering their lives around the whims of immature males who go on to get good grades, join sports teams, and who understand the value of female friendship. Thank you for that.
As much as I enjoyed Penny and the girls, I often found myself wondering if The Lonely Hearts Club had been written about eight years ago after listening to Penny's best friend repeatedly say "what to the ev" (gag) or how the girls applied shimmer powder before going to party. Shimmer powder? Yeah, that kind of stopped happening with anyone over the age of 10 after 2006. And those are only a few small details. I had issues with the basically nonexistent parents who were essentially present only to lend Penny her Beatles infatuation and the unbelievably unsupportive Principal who would have been slapped with several lawsuits quicker than you can say "advanced placement." And as much as I was rooting for Penny, though many of her exchanges with friends could sometimes be described as light and fun, they were usually awkward and extremely after-school-special unrealistic. Which I found extremely sad since all the components for making The Lonely Hearts Club into something really entertaining were right there. In the end, Penny and her club just failed to turn it into something more than a predictable 90's sitcom.
Because Everyone Likes a Second Opinion:
Book Muncher review
The Book Smugglers review
The Compulsive Reader review
Lauren's Crammed Bookshelf review
Steph Su Reads review & interview
book source: Book Muncher giveaway
No, don't be silly. It's actually in what they hear.
Oscar's father has created the cure-all for any worried parent in the form of a pricey, perfect planned community. Pedestrian friendly shopping and schools close to home sprinkled among picturesque parks. Though he's taken this master plan a step further than most builders by including a stream of constant subliminal messages filtered daily to every inhabitant. The messages can make you lose weight, quit that lingering bad habit or even make you think you're in love. Having been around Candor since it's inception, teenage Oscar has worked hard to combat his father's constant brain-washing. He's successfully fooled an entire town into thinking he's the perfect son while secretly helping other kids break free of the system that allows no room for differences. Oscar himself is content to wait for escape until the perfect moment comes along. Then the lovely, rebellious Nia becomes Candor's newest resident and although she could mean the downfall of everything Oscar has worked so hard for, he finds himself ready to do anything to help her escape 'normalfication.'
Talk about your disturbing dystopian concept to keep you awake at night. In the first instance that someone would even go so far as to try to control everyone around them using subliminal messages and secondly, that any parent would knowingly submit their children to such a fate. I must say, however that no parent is half as sinister as Oscar's dear old dad. His controlling persona is a force to be reckoned with and Oscar is very believable as a teen who not only wants to escape the brain-washing while still seeking his father's approval. In fact, I was highly impressed with the entire set-up of Candor. That said, there was a definite lack of substance to the novel. Weighing in at just over 200 pages, it didn't seem like Pam Bachorz took the time to adequately flesh out Oscar (or anyone really) as a character. Although I understood his initial attraction to Nia (she was completely different that anyone else he had ever met), I never really saw him truly falling for her or understood why he took the steps he did to ensure her safety. I won't say any more than that for risk of spoilers, but I'll just say that their relationship never really quite made it off the ground. Which is unfortunate since Candor had the potential of becoming really quite special.
What I really love about this book is the rockin' cover. That shiny piece of marketing was one of the main reasons I decided to pick Candor up in the first place (besides being a Cybils finalist). The guy on the cover is close to what I had in mind for pretty-boy Oscar and those little paper houses are something special. And the book itself? A nice bright spray-paint orange reminiscent of the delinquent Nia.
Because Everyone Likes a Second Opinion:
The Book Butterfly review
The Book Nest review
The Compulsive Reader review
My Friend Amy review
Not Enough Bookshelves review
book source: purchased
* Just kidding :) That would be the Hubby's twisted sense of humor talking.
April of Good Books & Wine is undertaking a truly commendable task. After looking and not finding any one genre list specifically dedicated to YA books, she's decided to create her own with a little help from the blog-o-sphere. She's currently holding a poll over at her blog to determine the Top 100 Young Adult Books of All Time, so hop on over and nominate your top five favorites. There are so many, many reasons why this is a fantastic idea (one: it's a list, I adore lists), so please head over to cast your vote before March 17th.
I just don't know how anyone is going to be able to limit themselves to only five choices...
After agreeing to a risky contract which ends up going south, Gin quickly finds herself fighting tooth and nail to protect those she loves while trying to stay alive herself. But the only way she's going to make it out alive in the corrupt and brutal city of Ashland is by aligning herself with by-the-book Detective Donovan Caine. Which can only complicate matters since said easy-on-the-eyes Detective happens to loathe every single aspect of Gin's chosen profession. Figures.
Jennifer Estep has created an intriguing new world in her latest series Elemental Assassin. As a dangerous and corrupt city with dirty cops ready to look the other way, Ashland reminds me of a southern Gotham City with an added bonus of powerful magic. Though equipped with an appealing world-building concept, I struggled throughout to connect with Gin as a character. Even in the face of tragedy, I never really felt that her grief was genuine. Sad to say, her narrative often seemed forced and quite repetitive. I often found myself hearing Gin describe the same types of scenes over and over again. Her enemies were always "sloppy, sloppy, sloppy" and every description of the attractive Detective Caine ended with "Mmm." While I'll give you that a good lookin' man can be mouth watering, I don't need the blatant reminder every time he pops up. Though I did catch a glimmer of chemistry between Gin and Caine, their awkward exchanges tended to leave me surprisingly uncomfortable and a little iffy on their couple-potential more often than not. Which can only be described as unfortunate since Gin's story really had the potential for becoming a honest and hard-hitting UF series. Spider's Bite, while fast and gritty, ultimately failed to deliver on the entertainment front for this reader.
On a side note, I am actually totally digging this cover. In a Urban Fantasy market awash of books that have no relation whatsoever to their story, the cover art for Spider's Bite is refreshingly accurate, and really eye-catching.
series reading order:
~ Spider's Bite
~ Web of Lies (May 2010)
Spider's Bite blog tour participants:
All Things Urban Fantasy
My Friend Amy
The Neverending Shelf
Ramblings of a Teenage Bookworm
Red Headed Book Child
book source: provided by the publisher, Pocket Books
But for some reason this heroic legend has hidden himself far away in small town with only his faithful apprentice Bast as a reminder of times past; styling himself as Kote the common innkeeper, and seemingly ready to forget anything concerning his past. It's not until the arrival of Chronicler, a professional story teller, who convinces Kvothe to record his life story that Kvothe begins to resemble the man of the countless stories. What follows is the tale of a young boy - a genius actually - who not only succeeds but excels at any task laid before him. Music, acting, horsemanship, magic. Then onto his early unorthodox education under a master who recognizes his true potential and his eventual admission to the prestigious Arcanum at the tender age of 15. While at the University, he quickly makes friends and enemies and continues to ruffle more than a few feathers with his quick wit and natural intelligence.
Okay, admittedly that is a pretty tame explanation of Patrick Rothfuss' stunning debut The Name of the Wind. Set to be the first book in trilogy called the Kingkiller Chronicle, Rothfuss has created a masterpiece epic to tell the story of his intensely driven and highly intelligent Kvothe. Rothfuss takes his time developing characters and lays such a solid foundation of world-building and backstory that I quickly began to trust him wholly as an author. Additionally, how hard is it to keep two equally entertaining yet disparate story lines going at the same time? Not easy, let me tell you. And yet Rothfuss easily juggles two distinct stories: a third-person account of Kvothe the innkeeper relating his story to Chronicler and a first-person account of Kvothe's life.
Furthermore, no review of The Name of the Wind would be complete without mention of Patrick Rothfuss' mind-boggling prose. Don't misunderstand, the story itself is unforgettable but the writing is what really makes this book stand head and shoulders above the crowd. Rothfuss knows his way around a pen for sure. His perfectly accurate descriptions of love, friendship, the desire for education, the thirst for revenge, or even a seemingly mundane sketch of a cloak mold into something much greater than your generic epic fantasy. Seemingly small, yet astoundingly complex details allow the story to become accessible to any reader ready to invest themselves into Kvothe's story. And that's what The Name of the Wind should be viewed as: an investment. It's long (over 700 pages) but once you take the time to settle into Kvothe's story, you are rewarded with superb passages such as this:
Now let me say this: when you're traveling a good cloak is worth more than all of your other possessions put together. If you've nowhere to sleep, it can be your bed and blanket. It will keep the rain off your back and the sun from your eyes. You can conceal all manner of interesting weaponry beneath it if you are clever, and a smaller assortment if you are not.Such excerpts are what had me laughing out loud and even bursting into tears a mere 50 pages into Kvothe's tale. That is an impressive feat I tell you. I can't tell you how giddy I am over this book - it seems like I've been recommending it to everyone (including perfect strangers) and for good reason.
But beyond all that, two facts remain to recommend a cloak. First, very little is as striking as well-worn cloak, billowing lightly about you in the breeze. And second, the best cloaks have innumerable little pockets that I have an irrational and overpowering attraction toward.
The Name of the Wind is one of those stories I can rely on to develop at its own, calculated pace. It immediately becomes obvious to any reader that Rothfuss has a plan: for Kvothe, for the Chronicler, and for his readers. Little clues are dropped along the way, allowing you glimpses into the man that has become the legend but readers will have to wait patiently for the highly anticipated sequel for more of Kvothe. That said: I have absolutely no hesitation saying I know the next installment, The Wise Man's Fear, will be just as astounding as its predecessor. Rothfuss takes his time and I'm sure he will continue to deliver a great story. It's just the waiting for its release that's going to give me an anxiety attack.
series reading order:
~ The Name of the Wind
~ The Wise Man's Fear (May 2010)
Because Everyone Likes a Second Opinion:
A Fantasy Reader review
The Book Smugglers review (basically why I picked this book up at all)
Fantasy Book Critic review
Giraffe Days Book Review
Reading the Leaves review
Walker of Worlds review
book source: purchased - Okay, not really, but let me explain! I found this book at a second-hand store but after noticing the cover had been torn off, the lady at the counter said she couldn't charge me because 'if a book doesn't have a cover, that means it was stolen.' Which made me wonder: who are all these thieves running around stealing books and then tearing off the cover so that everyone knows it was stolen? Is it some sort of code of ethics among book thieves? So I tried to buy it but in the end, the lady just gave it to me. Maybe because she took pity on my wallet after seeing the rest of the books I was ready to buy.
At turns harrowing and euphoric, Linger is a spellbinding love story that explores both sides of love -- the light and the dark, the warm and the cold -- in a way you will never forget.
Comes out in stores everywhere July 20th. Pre-order here.
Enter to win an advanced review copies of LINGER, Sisters Red, The Dead-Tossed Waves, and The Replacement on Maggie's blog.
Today while you're throwing away all those leftover conversation hearts (you didn't buy Necco? Oh NOS!), let me share with you what has to be part hilarious, part social commentary and altogether highly addictive. I give you: The Fallen Princesses series by the very talented artist Dina Goldstein.
Ever wonder what happened to Little Red after foiling the Big Bad Wolf or how Belle managed to stay bella for her image obsessed Beast? The irreverent Ms. Goldstein would like to take a moment to turn your beloved Disney-fied fairy tales into an up-close and personal cautionary tale.
Enjoy. But don't say I didn't warn you.
So now onto the good stuff. You told me who you loved best* and believe you me, I listened. The Literary Love Winners from each of the following categories are...
Classic fiction: Elizabeth Bennett & Mr. Darcy from Pride & Prejudice
General fiction: Jamie & Claire from Outlander
Urban Fantasy: Kate & Curran from the Kate Daniels series
Young Adult: Gen & Attolia from the Thief seriesAnd your favorite couple of ALL TIME? The honors goes to Elizabeth Bennett & Mr. Darcy from Pride & Prejudice
Thank you, thank you (thank you!) to everyone who stopped by to make Literary Love just so astonishingly frickin' awesome - I know I had a blast and I hope you were able to sigh over some old favorites and discover some possible new ones too. I wish you all a supremely Happy Valentines Day full of chocolate, the best books, and excellent friends.
Happy Valentines Day!
*Want to see my super scientific method of tallying results? It's called the 'I'm up way too late writing shorthand on my kid's white-board' method.
My favorite book to silver screen romances?
West Side Story (which is basically Romeo and Juliet)
North and South (hello Richard Armitage...)
The Princess Bride
Romeo + Juliet
and this one scene that still kills me every time...
What movie will you snuggle up with this year?
Don't forget to vote for your top Literary Love couples before Valentines Day!
One of the things I love best about Tamora Pierce's writing is that she, like Judy Blume, isn't afraid to tell it like it is. Premarital teen sex happens! Omigosh! Pierce made her name with the Song of the Lioness quartet, affectionately known among fans as "the Alanna books". After copping a lot of flack about their sexual and violent content, she wrote another fantasy romance that had some readers feeling squeamish: the Immortals quartet, starring Veralidaine Sarrasri (Daine) and Numair Salmalin (aka Arram Draper). Daine is a thirteen-year-old orphan who has a lot of untamed and unmanageable wild magic when she meets Numair, a man in his late twenties and Tortall's most powerful mage. With his help she begins to learn how to harness the power of her wild magic, of which she has a considerable amount. Along the way they battle Stormwings and evil emperors and generally save the world. There are the most fantastic battles in these books!Daine is effectively Numair's student and more than half his age--not to mention terribly underage. Now, I have always had a thing for older men and have been known to gaze longingly after the odd teacher, lecturer or lab tutor in my time. In fact, one ponytailed lecturer I had at uni used to wander into the theatre barefoot in charmingly rustic clothes, and he reminded me distinctly of Numair. What a happy semester that was! But before I go on I should clarify something: Numair and Daine might begin to fall in love in book one but nothing actually happens until book four when Daine is seventeen and she's not his student anymore. Nothing touchy-feely, at least. The affection and love between the pair is heart-breakingly sweet. For those who have read them, the scene in Emperor Mage (if I remember correctly) when Daine realizes Numair is Numair and not a simulacrum? Gah! Gets me every time.
Pierce has defended the romance between Numair and Daine by saying that in medieval times--the period in which she places her invented world--girls married at a young age and often to much older men. Also, by the time they acknowledge their love, Daine is Numair's magical equal and they are the same emotional age. Pierce has also admitted a fondness for older men, and in Numair she has created a doozy.
Tamora Pierce's books are filled with magic, adventure and romance. None are more dear to my heart than the four that feature a girl who runs with wolves and has a permanent menagerie of animals, both natural and magical, and a gangly, absent-minded but supremely powerful mage.
Happy Valentines Day everyone!
series reading order:
~ Wild Magic
~ Emperor Mage
~ The Realms of the Gods
Undeniably, Jane Austen crafted some winning leading men in her time. Of course Mr. Darcy with his dark good looks and cool "I am so above this" persona will always be universally adored, but I hold a special corner of my heart for the one and only Captain Frederick Wentworth of Persuasion. Persuasion was Austen's last finished novel and, in my opinion, her most mature love story. It tells the story of one Anne Elliot who rejected a marriage proposal from Captain Wentworth after being persuaded by a family friend that the match was unsuitable. Eight years later, Anne's spurned suitor returns from the war rich and a Most Eligible Bachelor while Anne has simply faded into spinsterhood. Anne has no way of knowing if her enduring love will ever be reciprocated by Captain Wentworth until he finally confesses his true feelings in what has to be the most romantic letter I've ever read. E. V. E. R.
I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan. Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes? I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others. Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice, indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating, in F. W.::swoon::
I must go, uncertain of my fate; but I shall return hither, or follow your party, as soon as possible. A word, a look, will be enough to decide whether I enter your father's house this evening or never.
You wanna guess if he gets the girl?
If there was ever any question of Anne still holding a torch for Cpt. Wentworth, he must have surely realized her true feelings just as he was penning this exemplary missive. You see, while Wentworth was writing Anne and his good friend Captain Harville were holding a debate on the relative constancy of men or women in relationships. What follows has to be one of the most quietly beautiful, the most heart-breakingly perfect exchanges I've ever come across. It's a long passage, but highly worth a second look.
And she answered the question, smiling also, "Yes. We [women] certainly do not forget you so soon as you forget us. It is, perhaps, our fate rather than our merit. We cannot help ourselves. We live at home, quiet, confined, and our feelings prey upon us. You are forced on exertion. You have always a profession, pursuits, business of some sort or other, to take you back into the world immediately, and continual occupation and change soon weaken impressions."She loved him first. She'll love him always.
"No, no, it is not man's nature. I will not allow it to be more man's nature than woman's to be inconstant and forget those they do love, or have loved. I believe the reverse. I believe in a true analogy between our bodily frames and our mental; and that as our bodies are the strongest, so are our feelings; capable of bearing most rough usage, and riding out the heaviest weather."
"Your feelings may be the strongest," replied Anne, "but the same spirit of analogy will authorise me to assert that ours are the most tender. Man is more robust than woman, but he is not longer lived; which exactly explains my view of the nature of their attachments. Nay, it would be too hard upon you, if it were otherwise. You have difficulties, and privations, and dangers enough to struggle with. You are always labouring and toiling, exposed to every risk and hardship. Your home, country, friends, all quitted. Neither time, nor health, nor life, to be called your own. It would be too hard, indeed" (with a faltering voice), "if woman's feelings were to be added to all this."
"We shall never agree upon this question," Captain Harville was beginning to say, when a slight noise called their attention to Captain Wentworth's hitherto perfectly quiet division of the room. It was nothing more than that his pen had fallen down; but Anne was startled at finding him nearer than she had supposed, and half inclined to suspect that the pen had only fallen because he had been occupied by them, striving to catch sounds, which yet she did not think he could have caught.
"Have you finished your letter?" said Captain Harville.
"Not quite, a few lines more. I shall have done in five minutes."
"There is no hurry on my side. I am only ready whenever you are. I am in very good anchorage here" (smiling at Anne), "well supplied, and want for nothing. No hurry for a signal at all. Well, Miss Elliot" (lowering his voice), "as I was saying, we shall never agree, I suppose, upon this point. No man and woman would, probably. But let me observe that all histories are against you -- all stories, prose and verse. If I had such a memory as Benwick, I could bring you fifty quotations in a moment on my side the argument, and I do not think I ever opened a book in my life which had not something to say upon woman's inconstancy. Songs and proverbs, all talk of woman's fickleness. But perhaps, you will say, these were all written by men."
"Perhaps I shall. Yes, yes, if you please, no reference to examples in books. Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands. I will not allow books to prove anything."
"Ah!" cried Captain Harville, in a tone of strong feeling, "if I could but make you comprehend what a man suffers when he takes a last look at his wife and children, and watches the boat that he has sent them off in, as long as it is in sight, and then turns away and says, 'God knows whether we ever meet again!' And then, if I could convey to you the glow of his soul when he does see them again; when, coming back after a twelvemonth's absence, perhaps, and obliged to put into another port, he calculates how soon it be possible to get them there, pretending to deceive himself, and saying, 'They cannot be here till such a day,' but all the while hoping for them twelve hours sooner, and seeing them arrive at last, as if Heaven had given them wings, by many hours sooner still! If I could explain to you all this, and all that a man can bear and do, and glories to do, for the sake of these treasures of his existence! I speak, you know, only of such men as have hearts!" pressing his own with emotion.
"Oh!" cried Anne eagerly, "I hope I do justice to all that is felt by you, and by those who resemble you. God forbid that I should undervalue the warm and faithful feelings of any of my fellow-creatures! I should deserve utter contempt if I dared to suppose that true attachment and constancy were known only by woman. No, I believe you capable of everything great and good in your married lives. I believe you equal to every important exertion, and to every domestic forbearance, so long as -- if I may be allowed the expression, so long as you have an object. I mean while the woman you love lives, and lives for you. All the privilege I claim for my own sex (it is not a very enviable one: you need not covet it), is that of loving longest, when existence or when hope is gone!"
Utter, complete, blinding perfection and precisely why Persuasion will always be regarded as my favorite Austen.
Remember to vote for your favorite Literary Love couple!
Don't forget to vote for your top Literary Love couples before Valentines Day!
Let me just start off by saying that I'm not a typical girl. I would take an action movie with stuff blowing up over a chick flick any day. I'd much rather read science fiction or fantasy than romance. I love reading comic books. I love playing sports. Try to get me to sew or scrapbook or craft, and we're not going to get along very well. So you can imagine that when I'm asked my favorite literary love couple, besides the obvious (Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, anyone?), nothing readily comes to mind.
But here's the thing about reading fantasy. I like all the action, and being in a different world and stuff, but if there's not some type of romance, I start to feel a little antsy. So maybe I'm a girl after all. I'm one of those who wants it all. I want an alpha male who will still bring me flowers. Who doesn't want that, though? There are a lot of good romances in the fantasy genre. One of the most recent ones I've read was Fire and Brigan, from Fire by Kristin Cashore. But I had to go a little older when picking my favorite, to an author who is definitely a staple in the fantasy genre, Robin Hobb. If you read fantasy, and you've not yet read Robin Hobb, get to it. I consider her one of the masters.
My favorite couple comes from the Liveship Traders trilogy. And in case you're wondering, yes, it takes all three books for these two to get their act together. In Ship of Magic, Althea joins a ship's crew to prove she is a capable sailor. Brashen just happens to be the first mate on that ship, and they don't really hit it off right at first. But the astute reader can see that there is something there. Or, if they're like me, they just really hope there is because that reader needs to have her romance!
And, of course, there is something there. This is not a major plot point, so don't worry that I've spoiled something important. And that brings me to my next thing that I like about fantasy. There is usually some romance, but it takes a back burner to the action. So, when it does pop up, it doesn't necessarily surprise me, but it's like an unexpected treat.
So, here we get to the third book in the trilogy, Ship of Destiny, and if I may, I'd like to share with you a favorite passage. It's a scene with Althea and Brashen (obviously), where they finally DO get it together. Or, at least, when Brashen finally declares his love.
He struggled desperately to retain his control. "I have great faith in you, Althea. You've stood beside me and we've faced crimpers and serpents . . . . We put this damn ship back in the water together. But during the battle, I just . . ." His voice tightened in his throat. "I can't do this," he said suddenly. He lay his hands, palms up, on the table and studied them. "I can't go on like this anymore."I won't tell you Althea's reply. I can't give you everything. Just believe me when I say these books are worth reading. It's definitely not romantic fiction. In fact, these are three very thick books, and romance only plays a little tiny part. But if your tastes are anything like mine, and you prefer your romance cushioned in a whole lot of action, you'll love Robin Hobb.
"What?" She spoke slowly, as if she hadn't heard him correctly.
He surged to his feet and leaned over the table. "I can't go on pretending I don't love you. I can't pretend it doesn't scare me spitless to see you in danger."
She shot to her feet as if he had threatened her. She turned from him but two strides carried him to stand between her and the door. She stood like a doe at bay. "At least hear me out," he begged. The words rushed out of him. He wouldn't consider how stupid they would sound to her, or that he could never call them back again. "You say you can't perform your duties without my repsect. Don't you know the same is true for me? Damn it, a man has to see himself reflected somewhere to be sure he is real. I see myself in your face, in how your eyes follow me when I'm handling something well, in how you grin at me when I've done something stupid but managed to make it come out all right anyway. When you take that away from me, when . . ."
series reading order:
Ship of Magic
Ship of Destiny
Other books by Robin Hobb
Don't forget to vote for your top Literary Love couples before Valentines Day!
"No, this trick won't work...How on earth are you ever going to explain in terms of chemistry and physics so important a biological phenomenon as first love?" ~Albert Einstein
Being the most hopeless of hopeless romantics, choosing just a select few of my favourite literary couples was always going to be difficult. My favourite of Austen’s couples are most certainly Anne Eliot and Captain Wentworth (yes, because of that letter, but also because, as a couple, they’re decidedly more grave and cautious than the younger, bright and bushytailed ones that are usually Austen’s protagonists of choice). On the other hand, my favourite couple of the fierce, tumultuous and just plain mad romance is most certainly, without a doubt, Cathy and Heathcliff of Wuthering Heights (in my opinion, Jane Eyre’s romance simply does not compare to the dirt and grit of this Gothic masterpiece! But that’s just me)...
But, if I'm forced to choose - my most favourite type of romantic couple must be in the first flush of love, where the characters rarely know for sure what love is yet, and they daren’t ask anyone about it. So with this in mind, it would be a crime not to acknowledge Will and Lyra of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials.
If you haven’t read the trilogy His Dark Materials (you MUST), we’re not introduced to Will until the second book in the series, The Subtle Knife. Coming from two completely different worlds and meeting in a third one, Will and Lyra are pre-teen, but they have to grow up quick. Lyra is the perfect sparkly and headstrong complement to Will’s quiet and deliberate lifeforce.
[Spoilers incoming!] Their distinct friendship develops into something more, to the complete surprise of both of them, but alas, like a certain other pair of star-cross’d lovers, Lyra and Will are required to sacrifice their own needs for a greater good.
"I'll be looking for you, Will, every moment, every single moment. And when we do find each other again, we'll cling together so tight that nothing and no one'll ever tear us apart. Every atom of me and every atom of you... We'll live in birds and flowers and dragonflies and pine trees and in clouds and in those little specks of light you see floating in sunbeams... And when they use our atoms to make new lives, they won’t just be able to take one, they'll have to take two, one of you and one of me, we'll be joined so tight..."
Their final bittersweet goodbye very nearly killed me, but such literary love still inspires people to seek out THE bench where the two pledge to visit each other (situated in the Botanic Gardens at Oxford). Pretty story - while I was searching for a picture of said bench, I came across a blog entry detailing two girls’ trip to the particular Botanic Gardens, and, the girls having followed the book’s specific directions, switched anxiously from foot to foot waiting for a random guy to quit hogging the bench so the diehard female fans could take photos. He was just SITTING there, which prompted one of the girls to impatiently ask him whether he knew it was a very SPECIAL bench. The random guy said that yes, he knew it was Will’s and Lyra’s bench. And that he was waiting for his girlfriend so he could propose to her at said bench.
[Sidenote ---- If anyone ever meets my boyfriend, tell him that I will now accept nothing less than a marriage proposal at THE bench, or under the Northern Lights. I promise I will act surprised when he produces the plane tickets... ----]
My other favourite literary couple will probably surprise some of you, particularly those who have only been exposed to the Disney version, but I find Wendy’s unrequited love for Peter Pan to be sadly, almost absurdly romantic. J.M. Barrie’s play and subsequent book Peter and Wendy lends much more weight to Wendy’s feelings for Peter, beyond those of the sisterly companion Disney portrays Wendy to be. Where Tinkerbell is the sexual female prototype, and Princess Tigerlily is the wife with the dowry, Wendy is the side of the woman Peter wants most. Alas for Wendy, what he wants most is a mother.
Peter is the ultimate player, the bachelor who wants all play and no work. The ending to Peter and Wendy is profoundly sad, particularly to hopeless romantic girls like me who always waited for their own mischievous boy to flap in through the bedroom window, kitted out in Robin Hood-green. A few years after her adventures in Neverland, Wendy is standing in a new frock by the window, waiting for Peter to whisk her away to do his spring cleaning. But Peter is too busy on his many NEW adventures to come collect her, and he forgets. Wendy grows up, but she never forgets Peter Pan.
He was exactly the same as ever, and Wendy saw at once that he still had all his first teeth.Aggh. My heart breaks for Wendy, her mother before her, and the daughters that come after her, who will all fall for Peter’s childish charms... but a reader’s pity is reserved for Peter too. A boy who will never experience a first, or last crush. All because he’s afraid to grow up.
He was a little boy, and she was grown up. She huddled by the fire not daring to move, helpless and guilty, a big woman.
' Hullo, Wendy,' he said, not noticing any difference, for he was thinking chiefly of himself; and in the dim light her white dress might have been the nightgown in which he had seen her first.
' Hullo, Peter,' she replied faintly, squeezing herself as small as possible. Something inside her was crying ' Woman, woman, let go of me.'
Now THAT’S what I call unrequited love.
Moving onto today's festivities...
This week Literary Love will host four marvy bloggers - each with an eye for all things bookish - ready and willing to illustrate who they hold to be the most memorable couples in literature. Our guest blogger today is the ever-amazing Angie of Angieville. You say you haven't heard of Angie? Well I just don't believe you. She's like the Godfather of the online book world. If Angie likes a book, chances are hoards of hungry readers will immediately make tracks to the nearest bookstore on her word alone. She's recommended more winners than I can personally count and is actually one of the main reasons I started this here bloggy in the first place. She's simply fabulous and has a library I would no doubt kill for. Trust me, you'll love her, you'll want to be her.
Take it away Angie!
Hey Literary Love readers! Happy Week 2! I was thrilled when Michelle invited me to post it up right nice about one of my favorite literary couples. But which among the my myriad beloveds to choose? The fretting....the uncertainty....*bites nails* You see, over at my place I read and review a lot of young adult, urban fantasy, and fantasy--all of which Michelle has done a bang-up job of addressing thus far. (Hello. Nat Eaton from The Witch of Blackbird Pond? Sa-woon! And don't even get me started on Kate & Curran. Rowr!) But when I asked Michelle if she had any requests, she mentioned a contemporary couple might be nice. And that was all it took. Because when it comes to contemporary couples--I'm all about Diana Peterfruend's Secret Society Girl series. I've waxed on about them on numerous occasions and, if Diana catches me doing it again here, she'll undoubtedly roll her eyes and tell me to get a room. So, shhhhh! But seriously, this series features a couple you do not want to miss. And the beauty of the series is, the romance sneaks up on you ever-so-quietly until the enormity and the perfection of it all smacks you over the head with a slate Anne Shirley style. Just the way I like it.
A Warning: I do not want to ruin this wonderful series for you. And so if you have not yet read them, it might be best to stop now, take my (or Michelle's) word for it, and go check them out stat. Part of the deliciousness is not knowing who or when or how. Trust me.
I do love a good independent woman. And that's exactly what Amy Haskel is. She's in her junior year at the prestigious Eli University, editor of the lit magazine, determined to get that high-powered internship at one of the big publishing houses in New York City after graduation. Everything in her life is running according to plan. And so to say she is stunned when Eli's most mysterious, most hallowed secret society--Rose & Grave--taps her for their next class would be a spectacular understatement. Particularly as Rose & Grave is notorious for being a patriarchal, females-need-not-apply kind of organization. But over the course of the next two years, as Amy becomes more deeply involved with the society and its members, she begins to form some of the most important relationships of her life. Among these are a trio of young men who each, in their own way, lay a claim on our girl. What I love about the four-book series is the time Diana Peterfreund takes developing these relationship so that at one point or another you find yourself rooting for each one of them. But always (and most importantly) for Amy. And as she is such a likable character, so strong and willing to speak her mind, the reader can see how the time and level of intimacy she shares with each of them, in turn, is right and good and an integral part of who she is becoming. From the best-friend-with-benefits to the sexy copper-eyed playboy to the prickly-as-hell patriarch.
I wasn't sure, even up until the end, who Amy would end up with. And, like I said, my hopes on the matter evolved more than once. But as far as I was concerned, from the middle of book two on, there would never be anybody for Amy but Poe. I know, I know. This is the same guy who, at one point, locks her up in a coffin and threatens to drown her. The guy who is so socially inept, so secretive, and so holier-than-thou, that he verges on being unbearable. The guy who adamantly opposes female taps and always, always, always puts the society before his fellow diggers. But this is also the Poe who risks his life to save Amy from drowning, who makes teaching her to swim a priority so it will never happen again. The guy who has a pet snake named Voldemort and mows lawns with his father during the summer to pay for law school. The guy who, in the end and in the face of the kind of job offer he's always dreamed of, chooses Amy. Chooses human connection in all its messy beauty over cold, hard ambition. He's the one who runs after her. He's the one who pounds on the gates and jumps on the boat and gives the mouse a name. When it comes to romance, I take mine black with a little cream and I like the flavor to sneak up on me slowly until I'm filled with its richness and its rightness. I love Amy & Poe's relationship because it develops ever-so-gradually over the course of four books. Because they honestly can't stand one another for half that time. Because they gain a grudging respect for each other almost in spite of themselves--and definitely despite how little they have in common on paper. And because they grow as a result of knowing each other. Their essential components--what makes them them (and awesome)--don't change, but what's important to them does. And they act on that knowledge. In this series, the hot is in the build-up, the realizations, the longing, and the bridging of gaps. That and a sexy shower and/or sandbar scene thrown in for good measure. *fans self* If you're in the mood for some well-written, humorous, thoughtful contemporary fiction with a romance that sizzles, I highly recommend the Secret Society Girl series. I adore these books beyond all reason and I hope you give them a shot this Valentine's season.
I hereby confess: It's all about the slow burn.
series reading order:
~ Secret Society Girl
~ Under the Rose
~ Rites of Spring (Break)
~ Tap & Gown
I've tallied up everyone's lovely duos and have added them to this google form-thingy. Please take a moment now to officially vote for your top Literary Love couple. Since we ended up with so many different couples, I went ahead and separated everyone out by genre. Cause I don't know about you, but it's more than a little bit hard for me to just pick one. Although, I couldn't resist adding a write-in section for your ultimate, all-time favorite bookish couple as well - so knock yourself out.
Remember -- voting earns you yet another entry for the Ash giveaway.
And trust me, you will not want to miss this week's Literary Love festivities. We've got some marvy bloggers stopping by ready to dish on all things Luuurrve, including:
Monday -- Angie from Angieville
Tuesday -- Aimee from My Fluttering Heart
Wednesday -- Brenda of Brenda Loves Books
Friday -- Rhiannon Hart
What a good-lookin' group ;)
Let the voting commence!
Sourcebooks has put together a fantastic little site which covers any and all of your Jane Austen needs. At Austenfans you can get detailed plot summaries, learn more about Jane herself or send a friend one of these lovely E-Cards. The cards encompass all six of Austen's novels and feature over forty meticulous designs with accompanying quotes. Whether you fancy the hilarious drama of Northanger Abbey or simply a peek at Mr. Darcy's picture gallery - these little gems are too whimsical to miss out on. I'm a fool for this sort of illustration style and am already plotting which of my close friends and relations will be receiving one. Go ahead and add a little bookish whimsy to your Valentines Day this year.
Don't forget: Only one more day to nominate for your top Literary Love couple!
When I say:
What characters immediately come to mind?
Okay, that was a really long word, but that aside I'm going to make a bet that many of you immediately thought of these two:
And you wouldn't be alone. I count myself among the myriad of fans surrounding Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe and their pursuit of the elusive Happily Ever After. Come on. How could you not fall in love with the outspoken Anne (with an E) that very first time she slams her slate over Gilbert's self-assured head? I'm telling you, he deserved it. And just like Anne, my heart might have skipped a beat or two when little Davy calmly asked her years later "Say, Anne, did you know Gilbert Blythe is dying?" Worst. Words. Ever. But there is so much to smile about with these two. They challenge each other, they support one another during those hard moments, and most of all, they know how to kick back and just enjoy being friends together. Lovely.
Now that I've waxed poetic, I'd like to move onto my other favorite couple from YA fiction. Any guesses? Well, hands-down this one has to go to the independent Katherine (Kit) Tyler and the young sailor Nat Eaton of Elizabeth George Speare's classic The Witch of Blackbird Pond.
My copy of The Witch of Blackbird Pond is literally falling apart. It's got my name scrawled in what must be a ten-year-old's handwriting inside the front cover and over time, has become the book I read and reread several times a year. The Hubby has offered to buy me a new copy after watching me painstakingly retape the cover numerous times, but each time I hold my book close and politely decline. I'm not even going to mention how much I want to travel to the Barbados to see the white sands and blue ocean Kit so lovingly describes. I WILL go there one day. I'm just sayin' is all.
Nat & Kit are one of the most splendiferous couples ever in my humble opinion. Both stick out like sore thumbs in the restrained climate of Puritan Connecticut and even end up turning to the same source of comfort - the outcast Quaker Hannah - when life becomes too oppressive. Thrust into such a rigid, unfamiliar culture, Kit constantly faces censure due to her free thinking and outspoken ways. But Nat loves that about her - even if she sometimes frustrates him to no end. Like the gentleman he is, Nat continues to rescue Kit time and again from sticky social situations and hostile individuals; he even tries to save her from drowning - though she doesn't exactly need it. And although there are many special scenes I always gravitate to in The Witch of Blackbird Pond, the following exchange never fails to leave me with a silly grin on my face. You know the one:
"Have you noticed her name?"Oooooh. For that passage alone, I'm thinking it might be time for a reread. Again.
Kit leaned sideways to see the letters painted jauntily on the transom. "The WITCH! How did you dare? Does Hannah know?"
"Oh, she's not named after Hannah. I hadn't gone ten miles down the river that day before I knew I'd left the real witch behind."
"I want to see the ketch. Please, Nat, before we go! I can't wait any longer to see my namesake!"
"No," he said again, leading her firmly toward the road. "That ketch has a mind of her own. She's contrary as a very witch herself. All the way up the river she's been holding back somehow, waiting. Now you'll both have to wait. I'm not going to disappoint her, Kit. When I take you aboard the Witch, it's going to be for keeps."
Who are your favorite couples from young adult literature? Only a couple of more days to nominate your favorite Literary Love couple here or in the comments after this post!
Earlier this year, I received Cotillion by Georgette Heyer in the mail from my Book Blogger Holiday Swap buddy Melissa of the Book Nut. At the time, I purposely set it aside as a great Valentines Day read, thinking it would fit perfectly in with this month's festivities. What better way to get myself in the mood for romance than by becoming acquainted with the Lady of Love herself? And then Angie posted a link to Sarah Rees Brennan's frickin' hilarious summary of Cotillion in her The Best Couples in Books Ever! post and I was sold.
Young Kitty Charing is about to inherit a vast fortune from her grumpy, gouty Great Uncle Matthew. As his ward, Kitty has endured the somewhat dubious hospitality of the querulous, miserly gentleman for years, having put up with his mad schemes on more than one occasion. But Uncle Matthew has concocted his most harebrained scheme yet. He wants to bestow his vast fortune upon Kitty - a sheltered, fanciful miss - if only she will consent to marry one of his many grand nephews, men she has grown up with and knows well. Kitty isn't exactly against the scheme (besides the implied embarrassment of such a contract), if only a particular nephew will be offering. But he doesn't. Kitty does however receive other offers: from the staid, patronizing Reverend Hugh and the bumbling, muddled Lord Dolphinton, but both are as repulsive as they are ineffectual. Not to mention the married nephew George Biddenden, who wasn't even invited in the first place...
Understandably upset and equally devastated, Kitty hatches a scheme worthy of her great uncle's daring when she convinces her honorable (if somewhat fashion-distracted) cousin Freddy Standen to form a sham engagement with her since he has no desire to marry at all. Kitty's aims? One: enjoy life in London while visiting Freddy's family, away from the stuffy Arnside House of her youth while Two: make the renowned rake and rascal (and youthful heartthrob) Jack Westruther insanely jealous. Only Kitty is as inexperienced as she is compassionate - a combination which soon lands our young heroine in a number of scrapes requiring a quick rescue by the conscientious if not impeccably dressed, Freddy.
Starting into a Georgette Heyer for the first time was an experience not to be denied any reader. The characters and locales of Cotillion swirled around so effortlessly that I found myself drawn into their story in just a few short pages. No wonder she is known as the Queen of the Regency Romance. Heyer has a deft hand at humor and is superb at crafting witty - often downright hilarious - dialogue contrasted by lush descriptions of perfect fashion and society gossip at its best. Although highly original in terms of plot, praise must be heaped upon Ms. Heyer for her delightful prose. I don't know the last time I read a book that used words such as "clodpole" "I'd as lief.." "plant a facer" and "a rum touch." Devilishly entertaining.
Kitty and Freddy make quite the dashing couple - of course, both have impeccable taste in clothing (a most important quality) and both, for lack of a better word, are just so sweet. Freddy graciously agrees to squire Kitty to various London sights (under protest) and could not be more horrified with the sight of those famed Elgin Marbles:
"Why, they have no heads!” he expostulates, feeling very put upon at having to escort Kitty to places that he’d never intended to see or ever see again.Freddy's never been known as the 'smart' one, but under Kitty's kind reassurances, he begins to see himself as something other than a fashion plate. While slowly yet surely, Kitty's youthful insistence wins this Pink of the ton over with her enchanting damsel in distress routine. A fantastic novel by a fantastic author I will be sure to read more of.
And in closing, all I have to say is: "I like him. I like him better than Hugh. I like him better than Jack..."
Because Everyone Likes a Second Opinion:
Blog Critics review
Dear Author review
Jane Austen's World review
book source: gift