Friday Reads: Tinker

  Tinker: Elfhome book 1
by Wen Spencer
narrated by Tanya Eby
(fantasy, futuristic urban fantasy, slight romance)

This author has been on my radar for a while, but I don’t recall hearing about TINKER until it showed up in an Audible book sale. I think it was part of a recent “two books for one credit” sale that I took advantage of. And now? Now I’m hooked. And after I finish the Elfhome series, I’ll be looking into Spencer’s other novels.

To start with, this novel takes place in Pittsburgh, in the future. If a date is given, it isn’t important. The future is at some point after humans have designed hoverbikes, good AI, and transportational gates. (Well, one human has designed a gate. But that’s a plot point, and I don’t want to get too spoilery.) The only problem with this gate is that it has a side effect: when it’s turned on, it sends Pittsburg to Elfhome. (Elfhome, as you may have guessed, it the land where the elves live.)

The novel’s plot is both simple and relatively complicated. Part of the complicating part is avoiding spoilers. Even discussing the main enemy in the book comes close to spoilery. However, I can say that at the beginning of the story, the main bad guy tries to kill Wind-Wolf, our Hero. (I’m not sure how it’s written, since I listened to the audio version, but I always heard Wind-Wolf as a hyphenated name. It’s an elvish translation, and made sense to me that way.) And Tinker, our Heroine, saves Wind-Wolf instead, saving him first from some of the physical damage he faces, and then keeps him alive until she can get him to proper elvish healing.

I love the fact that this is both a high fantasy and an urban fantasy story. It somehow manages to be both by virtue of being set BOTH in a futuristic Earth, and a fantasy elven world. The blend of the two styles intrigued me, and made me very envious of the author’s worldbuilding.

The narration was good as well. Some of the male characters seemed very similar, and the narrator sometimes said “yes” and “no” more like a question than I thought it should have been. However, I did enjoy hearing the book read, and some of the elvish words would have been tongue-twisters if read by a less competent narrator. I will not necessarily go searching out other books read by this reader, but I will not shy away from them, either. I haven’t determined if the similarity of the male voices – mostly elven male voices – was intentional (since the book is from Tinker’s POV and Tinker is a human) or not, so this may not be an issue with her other readings. Besides, this was really only for the smaller characters. The main characters were all more recognizable than the minor ones. And her female characters were all ready with a lot more distinction to their voices, without becoming caricatures, which I appreciate.

All told, this is a good book. Worth picking up either the audio version or the text version. I have the paperback of book 2 on its way to me now, and will be starting it when I am done with my current book.


Friday Reads ~ The False Princess

The False Princess
by Eilis O’Neal
(fantasy, YA)

This YA fantasy is a really enjoyable book. I don’t remember how I heard about it (probably Tez Miller, who is my biggest source for new authors), but I am so glad my library had it and I could pick it up and read it. I’ll probably be buying at least one copy of this book for a gift, that’s how much I liked it.

I can’t go into too much detail about the plot without giving away spoilers, but I can discuss the basic beginning part. (It’s on the back cover to start with.) The main character starts the book thinking she is the princess and heir to the throne. Within the first few pages of the book, she finds out that she is NOT the princess, but instead a commoner who was taken from her family to be a stand-in for the princess. There was a prophecy which said the princess had a high chance of being murdered before her 16th birthday, and the real princess was hidden away for her own safety. Well. Now the princess (both real and fake) is over 16, and the fake-princess-commoner is sent off to live with an aunt she doesn’t know, and who thought she was dead.

Now, I really enjoy fairy tale retellings, and at first glance this looked like it was a story similar to “Sleeping Beauty”, since the true princess was hidden to protect her from harm. However, while I could easily believe that it was inspired by the classic fairy tale, that’s where the similarity ends. Once our false princess arrives at her new home, the real fun begins.

I believe this was a first novel for Ms. O’Neal, and I hope it’s not her last. I really enjoyed the read, and the writing style was good quality as well. In some respects (such as age of protagonist) this was a definite YA book, but it managed to cross over and be enjoyable for me (aka NOT a young adult) as well.

Friday Reads: Libriomancer

Let’s do the Friday 56 today!

Pick up nearest book (be honest: that’s nearest, not best or most intellectual) and look up Page 56, find the 5th Sentence:

(I’m going to include the 4th sentence here, too. I like the way it reads better that way. Also, I like sentence 4 better than the 5th one.)

I hadn’t just fallen off the magical wagon; the wagon had run me over and dragged me six blocks down a pothole-ridden street. The effects were worse after two years away.

This is Libriomancy, book #1 in the Magic Ex Libris series by Jim C. Hines. I’m highly amused by it so far. The basic premise is that enough commonly held belief in something can cause it to become real. Therefore, enough people reading the same book can allow magic users to reach into the book and pull out objects described inside the book. Fun, right?

So far it certainly seems fun. I haven’t been reading it as quickly as the books I read prior to it, but I’m still enjoying the ride. It does seem to be a book written for readers; there are so many little nods to other works of fiction that might be missed by the casual reader.

Happy Friday!

Ten on Tuesday – Who’s Oscar?

Today’s Ten on Tuesday we have a choice! We can either write 10 Thoughts On This Year’s Oscars, or — my choice — 10 New Movies I Want To See. It was a no-brainer for me, since I didn’t keep up with the Oscars. I don’t think I saw any of the movies nominated for Best Picture, and several of them I hadn’t even heard of.

So, with that in mind as an insight into my movie preferences, here are 10 New(-ish) Movies I Want To See:

1. The Secret World of Arrietty

Why? Well, let’s see. It’s a Disney movie. It’s by Studio Ghibli. It looks beautiful. Oh yeah — and it happens to be based on a book series I was in love with as a young girl: THE BORROWERS. I would go see it for any of those reasons, but when you combine them? This one’s a must for me. It’s been out a week or two now; I’m surprised I haven’t seen it yet.

2. The Pirates! Band of Misfits

It’s an Aardman. Which means it looks hysterical. Need I say more?

Yes? Okay. How’s this: Hugh Grant, David Tennant, Imelda Staunton, and Martin Freeman.

3. The Hobbit

It’s not out yet, not done yet, and I’m not sure I’ll like it. (I’m still afraid they’ll make dumb choices in the script. A repeat of Faramir’s depart from character, anyone?) But I can’t help but want it.

4. Brave

Disney. Pixar. Want.

5. The Lorax

Another one I’m not sure I’ll be pleased with, but feel a need to see. I had no desire to see it — in fact a desire to stay COMPLETELY AWAY FROM IT — until I saw the trailer when we saw Beauty & The Beast re-released in 3D. And then I was cautiously optimistic about The Lorax. We’ll see, but I do want to see the movie now.

You may have noticed a trend in my movie viewing choices by now. And I totally own these decisions. I like happy movies, and I like fantasy. This is me. Like it, or at least deal with it.

My parents trained me well.

Now, moving on…

6. Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows

Yes, I know it’s not a “new” movie because it’s been out for a while now. No, I haven’t seen it yet. Yes, I want to. Things just kept getting in the way of me making it to the cinema.

7. The Avengers

But first I want to watch the rest of the movies that I’ve missed. So, I’ll need to see Thor and Captain America. I’m looking forward to it, though, it looks like a great movie.

8. The Hunger Games

I haven’t read the book (yet), though I’ve heard the buzz about how wonderful the series is. Frankly, I was skeptical until I saw the movie trailer. Now I want to both read the book and watch the movie.

9. Finding Nemo (in 3D)

It looks GORGEOUS. Seriously. This is a must on the big screen for me.

10. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

This isn’t a movie that I was initially interested in (I’m not a huge Tom Cruise fan) but I’ve heard so many good review that I’d like to see it now. No huge rush, but I do want to eventually see it.

Weeks 38, 39 & 40: Book Review Catch-up

So, after complaining that I didn’t get a book read in time to review two weeks ago, I have three books to review this week. As a result, I’m going to do mini-reviews because there are three of them.

Mini-Review #1: Veil of Shadows by Shiloh Walker

I really enjoyed this book. It’s the second in Walker’s “Veil” series. (I’m not sure if there’s an official series name or not, but Veil is in both titles, so that works as well as anything.) The series is a fantasy romance series, and if it wasn’t set in an alternate world it could easily be described as post-apocalyptic. It’s not set in a city as we know it, or it could be called urban fantasy. But it’s not high fantasy either… nor, strictly speaking, paranormal. It’s rather difficult to categorize, actually. Other than “books I like”.

Best parts: character development, world building, twists aplenty, we get to stay in touch with the main characters from book #1.

Worst parts: not as well defined a villain as in the first book of the series, plenty of POVs so that we don’t get as fully in the MCs heads as we could.

Grade: A-

Mini-Review #2: The Sleeping Beauty by Mercedes Lackey

The 500 Kingdoms series (which *is* high fantasy) is probably my current favorite Lackey series. I love her fairy tale retellings. (The Serpent’s Shadow and Phoenix and Ashes from the Elemental Masters series are probably my favorite indivual books of hers, but the rest of the series doesn’t work as well for me. The 500 Kingdoms series doesn’t have an individual book I like as much as those two, but the average rating is higher over the series.) This one, as you may have guessed, covers the Sleeping Beauty tale. However, it’s not *just* Sleeping Beauty. It’s also Snow White and the Nibelung tale, all rolled into one. And it works. I don’t think this is my favorite of the series, but it’s up there.

Best parts: the blending of fairy tales, the characteriation of the two main princes, the use of the Siegfried story in addition to the fairy tales we usually think of.

Worst parts: the ending seems a touch rushed and/or contrived (though this is practically expected, since it’s a fairy tale).

Grade: A

Mini-Review #3: Enchanted by Orson Scott Card

I like Orson Scott Card’s writing. Don’t get me wrong. However, I have discovered that I prefer his sci-fi to his fantasy. Enchanted, to me, read as a fantasy novel given a sci-fi treatment. (I actually didn’t finish it, so this may be resolved past the halfway mark.) Maybe it’s just in comparison to the books I’ve been reading lately, or maybe it’s that I’m looking for something different in fantasy novels than what Scott Card intended to write. Whatever the reason, I couldn’t get into the book enough to care about the characters. Result? About halfway through I put the books down in favor of something else, and I have no desire to pick it back up. Maybe at some later date I will try reading it again and have no problem getting through it, but for now… no thanks. I’ll read something that’s easier for me to enjoy.

Best parts: the concept, the level of detail put into the setting.

Worst parts: the characters fell flat to me, more focus seemed put on detailing the setting rather than making it come alive.

Grade: C

Scheduled Snippet

I’m not here today! But I feel sorry for anyone who would expect a Friday Snippet and not get one, so here is a short section (that I just wrote) from my WIP. (Oooh, shiny! Brand new fiction! Probable typos and maybe even grammatical errors! Heh. Be gentle.)

Have a great weekend everyone!

“I am sorry. I wish I remembered more…”

“There is nothing to be sorry about. You did not ask to be Shifted.” Venn’s eyes clouded with anger for a moment before he blinked and shook his head. Smiling, he reached out and took Lindra’s hand, the remains of the black look fading from his face when she didn’t flinch at the contact. “Let me show you some of those places we shared. Perhaps something about them will remind you of your time here before.”

She wasn’t sure she needed the confusion more memories would bring, and opened her mouth without a clear decision what she was going to say. “I’d like that,” she heard herself saying instead of the ambiguous reply she’d been planning.

“Then I shall find you tonight, and we shall see about restoring your memories.” He bowed over her hand and brushed another kiss across her fingers. As he turned to go, he winked at her, causing her breath to catch in her throat.

He can make me feel like this, when I don’t remember him? Should I really be meeting him tonight to see what memories came back?

Lindra opened her mouth to call out to Venn, to change her mind and tell him she wasn’t ready to remember him, but he’d already vanished into the trees. Ready or not, he was going to attempt to awaken her memories. Tonight. With the moonlight and half-remembered stars to assist him.

Something told her he’d be successful.

Copyright 2010 by Nicole Tom, do no re-print or re-post without permission, rough draft so expect errors, etc, etc, etc.

August Snippet the First ~ 8.6.2010

This week’s snippet follows off of one two snippets ago, in which we met the girl. It actually follows on that one in the same scene, without the jump to last week’s snippet in between. This is after Lindra’s been challenged by her archery tutor to prove her skill and has succeeded. Beyond that, there’s nothing else you’d need to know that you can’t pick up from the snip.

Have a happy Friday and a great weekend!

“Well done,” Kalis said, and she dragged her gaze back to his face. He was grinning. Actually grinning. “From here out you shall be counted among the archers, and should you wish to mentor any of the trainees, no one will hinder you.”

“Thank you.” Lindra didn’t trust her voice to say more. Instead she walked back to the target and collected her arrows, including the split one. By the time she’d returned, the crowd had dispersed. She held Kalis’ arrow out to him, but the elf shook his head.

“Keep it. A memento, if you like, or merely for practice.”

“Thank you. Again.” She cleared her throat, fiddling with the pieces of her broken arrow. “So, what’s expected of me now?”

“Should need arise, you shall join the other archers in defense of the city.” He smiled again and patted her shoulder when she paled. “Have no fear. The city has been besieged before, and has not fallen.”

“But its defenders…”

“Are well prepared.” His tone was final, and she swallowed the rest of her protests. “At length you shall be expected to take a trainee or two, though not for some time yet. You must continue to train, of course. But your studies need no longer be confined strictly to archery as they were.”

“Thank you. I’ll need to think about all this…”

“Naturally. Should you have need of me, just ask.”

With a last nod, Kalis walked over to the practice range where the other students still struggled, leaving her alone. There was no one to share her triumph. Not since Alan…

Shaking her head, she looked at the arrows she still held. She would not think of him, not now. Perhaps another round or two would help clear her mind.

Yet she made no move to ready the arrows, or to bring her bow back up to the ready. After she’d stared at the halved arrow long enough to realize that it had split down the exact center of the shaft, she decided her nerves in no condition for any more practice just now. Putting the arrows back in her quiver and unstringing the bow took a matter of moments, and then she was at loose ends again. She couldn’t practice, she had no one to talk to and nowhere to go but back to her solitary room —

“Lindra?” The voice was familiar, but she had no idea why. Turning to look up at the elf it belonged to didn’t help. He was tall, as most of the elves were, with hair so pale it might have been white but for the yellow glow where the sun touched it.

“Hi,” she said, not wanting to be impolite but unable to come up with a name.

“I’m guessing you do not remember me?” He smiled when she shook her head, seeming more amused than offended. “Venn del’Avra, at your service.”

She laughed as he sank into a courtly bow, and extended her hand for him to shake. “Lindra Morint. But I guess you already know that.”

Copyright 2010 by Nicole Tom, do no re-print or re-post without permission, rough draft so expect errors, etc, etc, etc.