Tag Archives: books

Fictional “Feast Masters,” Maleficent and Miscellaneous

Hi all– the White Heart of Justice blog tour continues! I’m over at Suzanne Johnson/Susannah Sandlin’s blog Preternatura today discussing how I used Saturnalia and the Lord of Misrule as inspiration for one of the opening scenes in White Heart of Justice. There’s a cute picture of a snow demon — the only one I could find. Why a snow demon? Because that’s what the students carve out of snow at the Festival of Frivolity. Come on… I know you want to read more about it! Click here. :-D

Last Friday, CBY Book Club posted their interview of me. I share what my very first favorite book was and I discuss my TBR pile — past, present, and future. Since the start of the tour on May 20th there have been other spotlights and reviews. Check out my blog tour page for the complete list of bloggers/reviewers who are participating. Each link gives you an extra chance to win the fun prizes I’m giving away at the end of the tour:

  • $50 Amazon eGift Certificate (or bookseller of winner’s choice) (international)
  • 5 copies of White Heart of Justice (or an earlier book in the series, winner’s choice) (international so long as Book Depository ships to your address)
  • Dark Light of Day themed SWAG pack (includes signed copy of book and other awesome goodies; see below) (US only)
  • Fiery Edge of Steel themed SWAG pack (includes signed copy of book and other awesome goodies; see below) (US only)
  • White Heart of Justice themed SWAG pack (includes signed copy of book and other awesome goodies; see below) (US only)

RELEASE DAY PARTY WRAP UP

The Release Day Party at Bitten by Books was fantastic. So many terrific questions, including:

Do I have a favorite classic novel with a winter setting?

Is there an inspirational playlist for the Noon Onyx series?

How do I come up with the names for things in my series?

Have I used historical people, places, or things as inspiration?

What country would I love to visit?

Which actress would play me if my life were made into a movie?

If I could visit any place in Halja, which would it be and why?

What books would I recommend to a young reader?

and…perhaps my favorite:

If I could do a crossover with any book, film, or TV series, what would it be and why?

Bonus: Lanie left a DIY snow globe link, which I may use to make White Heart of Justice themed snow globes. Fun, right?

See all of the comments, questions, and answers here.

EMMA D. won the $50 Amazon eGift Certificate I was giving away there. I loved that (urged on by me) she made a “completely wild” wish that would require great miracles and supernatural happenings. It was a really nice wish. In fact, so many of readers’ wishes were heartfelt, selfless, and inspiring. (One of my reader questions was: What would you wish for at the fountain outside Kalisto’s Crystal Palace?)

LAST DAY TO TWEET 

WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE

SNEAK PEEK TWEETS!

Anyone who tweets one of these will be entered to win ANY fantasy book of their choice from Book Depository (so long as Book Depository ships to your address, up to $10.00). Ends at midnight EDT on 6/3/14.

One tweet/entry per person.

If you aren’t on Twitter, or don’t want to tweet the above, you can still enter to win the book. Just tell me what’s the last fantasy book you read, or the one you’re most looking forward to reading, in the comments below. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Open to international participants 18 and over. Complete rules here.

Lucem in tenebras ferimus. Into the darkness, we bring light.” @archer_jill #DARKLIGHTOFDAY

“When traveling into the unknown, sometimes the biggest danger is the one you bring with you…” @archer_jill #FIERYEDGEOFSTEEL

“One out of every two hunters who follow the Old Trail will not return.” @archer_jill #WHITEHEARTOFJUSTICE

Finally! I’m looking forward to seeing Noon embrace her fiery magic. @archer_jill #WHITEHEARTOFJUSTICE

Ari Carmine is smokin’ hot. I wanna see if Noon can forgive him for that nasty surprise at the end of B2. @archer_jill #WHITEHEARTOFJUSTICE

I heard a rumor that Rafe Sinclair makes a wish and I wanna know if it’s granted. @archer_jill #WHITEHEARTOFJUSTICE

Nocturo. Tall dark handsome. Heard his scalpel’s put to good use. Is he gonna threaten Brunus w it again? @archer_jill #WHITEHEARTOFJUSTICE

I love the characters, but I’m really just in it for the monsters and magic. Bring on the ice demons! @archer_jill #WHITEHEARTOFJUSTICE

Armageddon is over. The demons won. But it’s not as dark as all that. Parts of it are romantic and sweet. @archer_jill #NOONONYXSERIES

WHAT ELSE HAVE I BEEN UP TO?

This past weekend I saw The Machine (a Blade Runner-esque science fiction movie: Caity Lotz was terrific; the noir feeling felt a little forced at times, but overall, I enjoyed it) and Maleficent, in which Angelina Jolie was magnificent. There’s an interesting discussion over at io9 today. I was going to comment but then got frustrated at having to create yet another social media app account to manage my comments there, especially when the pop up box blocked the terms & conditions so that I couldn’t even read them. In any case, the post and my thoughts are worth a read IF:

1. You’ve seen the movie (massive spoilers)

2. You don’t mind rants (it’s filed under “rants”)

For what it’s worth, my take:

I can’t help but think that Disney was damned if it did, damned if it didn’t. To me, the most significant scene storywise wasn’t the dragon transformation (although that could have been much more impressive regardless of who was doing the shifting) but the kiss. I don’t want to spoil it further for anyone who hasn’t seen it so I’ll just say: Bravo, Disney!

As for the wing cutting scene… horrible. Just horrible. But I have to admit I enjoyed watching Maleficent’s dark transformation into a character capable of exacting revenge. Just as I equally enjoyed her other, lengthier, but perhaps more meaningful, transformation into something else. Not a dragon, but something potentially more powerful.

Also visited Baltimore’s National Aquarium and the Inner Harbor. Because you all know how much I love my photo galleries, here’s one from the weekend:

Beautiful, Deadly, Cute, Helpful:

But which is which?

That’s it for now, but I’ll be back tomorrow with a fun guest post from Auralee Wallace, author of Sidekick, and a link to my guest post at Addicted 2 Heroines. Have a great night!


One to Grow On: Noon’s Mom + Cover Lovers Chat

My blog tour resumes today with some fun posts: I’m discussing vintage gardening tools, Clash of the Titans, and Noon’s mom’s growing gifts over at Night Owl Reviews and I’m at The Reading Café discussing my covers. I know I’ve discussed them before, but I share more about the process, covers in general, and give each of my covers a “stat report.” If fantasy covers were baseball cards, click here for what would be on the back of mine. Finally, I’m wrapping up my Release Day Party at Bitten by Books. If you haven’t had a chance to stop by, there’s still time! Readers have asked TONS of terrific questions — and I’ve answered them, in great detail. Skim through for more background on just about everything or leave a question of your own!

Local Lending Libraries

And because I like to include pics w my posts… here are two for all of the book, coffee, and pizza lovers out there => Starbuck’s and Bertucci’s versions of the local lending library. I like it!

Bookshelf at my local Starbuck's -- what's missing? ;-)

Bookshelf at my local Starbuck’s — what’s missing? ;-)

Bookshelf at my local Bertucci's. Mostly children's books... so they get a pass. :-D

Bookshelf at my local Bertucci’s. Mostly children’s books… so they get a pass. :-D

Hope to see you over at Night Owl Reviews, The Reading Café, and/or Bitten by Books!


Noon Onyx Series: Fun Tweets and Fantasy Book Giveaway

Katy Perry has 50M+ followers and I have…. Well, not nearly that many. Still, I’m determined to pretend that I too have mastered the Twitterverse (ahem, I think we all know that my heart belongs to WordPress – even if I don’t even use it properly… my posts are inconsistent in terms of timing, length, and content, not to mention I include rambling little bits like this from time to time, but I do like Twitter) so…

Below are some fun, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, sneak peek tweets about White Heart of Justice (say that five times fast!)

Peeps, feel free to tweet. And, just to show it’s not all about me, anyone who tweets one of these will be entered to win ANY fantasy book of their choice from Book Depository (up to $10.00). Details below. See my Giveaways page for official rules.

Lucem in tenebras ferimus. Into the darkness, we bring light.” @archer_jill #DARKLIGHTOFDAY

“When traveling into the unknown, sometimes the biggest danger is the one you bring with you…” @archer_jill #FIERYEDGEOFSTEEL

“One out of every two hunters who follow the Old Trail will not return.” @archer_jill #WHITEHEARTOFJUSTICE

Finally! I’m looking forward to seeing Noon embrace her fiery magic. @archer_jill #WHITEHEARTOFJUSTICE

Ari Carmine is smokin’ hot. I wanna see if Noon can forgive him for that nasty surprise at the end of B2. @archer_jill #WHITEHEARTOFJUSTICE

I heard a rumor that Rafe Sinclair makes a wish and I wanna know if it’s granted. @archer_jill #WHITEHEARTOFJUSTICE

Nocturo. Tall dark handsome. Heard his scalpel’s put to good use. Is he gonna threaten Brunus w it again? @archer_jill #WHITEHEARTOFJUSTICE

I love the characters, but I’m really just in it for the monsters and magic. Bring on the ice demons! @archer_jill #WHITEHEARTOFJUSTICE

Armageddon is over. The demons won. But it’s not as dark as all that. Parts of it are romantic and sweet. @archer_jill #NOONONYXSERIES

Anyone who tweets one of the above tweets will be entered to win ANY fantasy book of their choice from Book Depository (so long as Book Depository ships to your address, up to $10.00). Ends at midnight EDT on 6/3/14.

One tweet/entry per person.

If you aren’t on Twitter, or don’t want to tweet the above, you can still enter to win the book. Just tell me what’s the last fantasy book you read, or the one you’re most looking forward to reading, in the comments below. Good luck, everyone! I’ll tweet and post the winner’s name in the comments below (first name, last initial) by 6/10/14. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Open to international participants 18 and over.

Don’t forget to stop back tomorrow for my first Disney World post!


Goodreads #Giveaway for DARK LIGHT OF DAY #UF #SFF #Fantasy

Jill Archer's Dark Light of Day

To kick off the upcoming release of the third Noon Onyx novel, WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE, my publisher is doing a Goodreads giveaway for the first book in the series, DARK LIGHT OF DAY. If you haven’t yet read a Noon Onyx novel, this is the place to start! Check it out here and feel free to help me spread the word about the giveaway (US only; 15 copies; ends 4/23/14).

 

Also, just saw the RT Book Reviews review for WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE, which is terrific:

urban fantasy, dark fantasy, fantasy, White Heart of Justice, Noon Onyx, Jill Archer, cover reveal, cover artArcher’s Noon Onyx series continues to be an original and compelling tale of what happens after Lucifer’s army triumphs at Armageddon and a new demon-based society is formed. Already an oddity because she has waning magic rather than the usual feminine waxing magic, Noon Onyx is determined to control her own future – but the cost could be higher than she suspects. Kudos to Archer for creating such a compelling heroine and mythos! (4 Stars)

RT Book Reviews, June 2014

Archer w Mouse EarsYou may have noticed how quiet I was last week. We went away for the first part of Spring Break. These pictures give you a hint about where we went. :-D We had an amazing time. I hope to load up more pictures and do a post about our trip later this week. Fiery Dragon

I’ve also got some other neat things planned for the upcoming week: a guest blogger on Tuesday; a one day promo blitz for my first two novels (including a giveaway) on Wednesday; and some information about a fun Twitter contest I’m doing to help get the word out about the Noon Onyx series on Thursday. So stay tuned…

I hope everyone is having a wonderful spring. If you celebrate Easter, have a happy one!


Winners and Wrap Up

 

This week I interviewed six new adult SFF authors. (Tuesday: Sarah Harian and Summer Lane; Wednesday: Juliana Haygert and Karen Duvall; Thursday: Rebecca Hamilton and Carrie Butler). We discussed some great topics and showcased some of their novels. To thank participants, I offered one free book (chosen by the winner from among the featured books) and a $10 eGift Certificate to the bookstore of the winner’s choice.

My incredibly high tech method of drawing winners...

My incredibly high tech method of drawing winners…

My elder daughter picked the winners. THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO COMMENTED.

(Enlist elder daughter’s help).
THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO COMMENTED.

FREE BOOK WINNER => Ruth
$10 EGC WINNER = > bn100

I’ll be in touch about prizes by Monday!

I hope everyone found the interviews and posts as interesting and informative as I did. Surprisingly, my opinion is not much different than it was last year at this time: New Adult is a category that, like its characters, is full of potential. Whether it ever reaches that potential will be up to NA writers and their readers.

I’ll admit that, sometimes, I wonder if we shouldn’t be going in the other direction. If we shouldn’t just jettison the sub-genres and kick the category labels to the curb. There’s so much genre blending these days, maybe those of us who write stories set in imaginary worlds should just label all of our work “speculative” and call it a day.

But I only consider that for a moment. Because today’s publishing world is abuzz with words like “discoverability” and “metadata” and labels matter. Why? Because they help readers find books that are similar to other books they’ve liked.

A few other thoughts

Just to be clear, for anyone who’s been following this who may be new to my work, I think DARK LIGHT OF DAY qualifies as a “new adult” novel, although it’s not a contemporary college romance. It’s got a boarding school setting, a significant romance plot, and a youthful tone. DARK LIGHT OF DAY is also an urban fantasy with deep worldbuilding. In fact, that’s how it was marketed, which is fine. It shares as many characteristics with UF as it does with NA.

FIERY EDGE OF STEEL is neither NA nor UF, although lots of people consider it urban fantasy. I think that speaks to UF’s inclusiveness more than anything else, which is nice but less helpful to readers. It’s a river adventure with romance and mystery elements. That’s why I started calling my work “genre-bending fantasy.” Ha. A cop-out for not coming up with a better label? Maybe.

WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE is a similar adventure story to FIERY EDGE OF STEEL, but this time Noon’s adventure is on land… in a colder, lonelier, harsher environment. It’s more of a quest than a mystery. And, even though Noon’s still a student and one of her biggest motivations in the book is that she wants the right to forge her own career path, I don’t think it’s NA. The character has moved past her earlier NA struggles.

So I continue to label my Noon Onyx series as “genre-bending fantasy.” :-)

And I continue to follow the development of NA literature with interest. :-D

If you enjoyed this Q&A series, please consider supporting my work by pre-ordering WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE:

urban fantasy, dark fantasy, fantasy, White Heart of Justice, Noon Onyx, Jill Archer, cover reveal, cover art

After years of denying her abilities, Noon Onyx, the first woman in history to wield waning magic, has embraced her power. She’s won the right to compete in the prestigious Laurel Crown Race—an event that will not only earn her the respect of her peers but also, if she wins, the right to control her future.

However, Noon’s task is nearly impossible: retrieve the White Heart of Justice, a mythical sword that disappeared hundreds of years ago. The sword is rumored to be hidden in a dangerous region of Halja that she is unlikely to return from. But Noon’s life isn’t the only thing hanging in the balance. The sword holds an awesome power that, in the wrong hands, could reboot the apocalypse—and Noon is the only one who can prevent Armageddon from starting again…

And finally…

This week’s series started with one writer’s question, left as a comment on one of my random blog posts. If you have a question about books or writing, lemme know! Who knows? I may do another series of posts in the future to try to answer it. :-D

Thank you to everyone who participated, both authors and commenters. You are all awesome! Best wishes for the weekend, everyone!


The Business of #Writing: Books and Writer’s Groups

This is day #4 of my week-long “mini-series” of posts where I mull over my 2013 writing expenses and share my thoughts. New writers, feel free to ask questions! Seasoned writers, your take on these topics is always appreciated. Readers, these posts give you a peek at what many authors do behind the scenes to support their work. There are questions for everyone at the end.

BOOKS!

Our favorite topic! In 2013, I bought about 25 books (this doesn’t include my books; this expense category represents the amount of money I spent on other people’s books – about 6% of my total expenses).

What kinds of books did I buy? Fantasy, romance, historical, mystery, new adult, young adult, general literature, anthologies, and some non-fiction. I bought hardbacks, trade paperback, mass market paperback, and electronic versions. I paid $0.99 for some to over $25.00 for others (not many). I bought them from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and my local independent bookstore.

Did I read them all? I wish! I’ve mentioned before that one of the downsides of becoming a published author was a decrease in personal reading. That hasn’t really changed for me since I first groaned about it, although I have been able to binge read from time to time and I’m trying to get better about carving out more consistent reading time into my schedule.

fantasy, Dark Light of Day, Jill Archer, Noon Onyx

LESSONS? This is the first year I’ve tracked this as a business expense. (To be clear, I’m not saying that this is a deductible expense – or that any of these expenses are. That’s for you and your tax adviser to figure out.) Could I cut back? Absolutely. Will I? Ha! I doubt it. I like supporting other authors, booksellers, and books in general by buying books. Sometimes, I feel guilty I don’t buy MORE. It’s wise for authors to read as widely as they can, to keep up with the market, to know what’s being published, and to know the quality of work that your peers are putting out. And all writers started as pure unadulterated readers. Books => bliss!

So instead of finding a way to cut this expense, I’d settle for finding a faster way to get through my TBR pile. :-)

WRITER’S GROUPS

There are all sorts of writer’s groups out there: big ones, little ones, informal kitchen table-type ones, and ones with bylaws, elections, national conventions, etc. Some writers will say you don’t need a writer’s group – and, of course, you don’t – but I think they’re worth the investment. For the record, the amount I paid for writer’s group membership fees came in at #9 out of #10 on my list of Top Ten Writing Expenses, which represents about 4%. Too high? Maybe. And, truth be told, this is an expense I carefully consider every year.

I belong to two main writer’s groups: Romance Writers of America (RWA) and Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). They are both nationally organized, well-funded, and have vast caches of institutional knowledge.

RWA was founded in 1980 and has more than 10,000 members and almost 150 chapters. They allow both published and unpublished members to join. They host a national convention every year where their highest award, the Rita, is presented to winners in various categories.

SFWA was founded in 1965. To become an active member, you must be published, but unpublished authors can benefit from their Writer Beware site. They host the Nebula Awards and have about 1,800 members.

Both RWA and SFWA have had “controversial moments.” (I leave you to your internet searches. I don’t want to rehash; I only want to acknowledge that the groups aren’t perfect). Each has caused me, from time to time, to question whether I still want to be a member. And yet, year after year, I re-up. Why?

Because the writers I interact with – many of whom I’ve met through these groups – are, for the most part, wonderful. Writing is a lonely business. I used to work in an office. I had colleagues, an assistant, and clients. I talked to people all the time. I was on the phone, in meetings, chatting in hallways and other people’s offices. I was having lunch. And then I became a writer, which I love. But I’m no longer talking to people all the time. It’s a quieter business, ya know? :-D So I like having a group I can turn to if I have a question, need advice, or simply want to say hi.

There are other benefits to being in a large writer’s group, such as advocacy (both on a group and individual level) and early access to industry news. But each writer has to decide for themselves if the cost of membership in these groups is a good trade for the benefits they might receive. My hope is that big, institutional writers groups like RWA and SFWA will evolve in positive directions as the publishing climate continues to change and the myriad ways in which writers can connect and receive information continues to grow.

LESSONS? MANY. But no change here.

So those are my thoughts on books and writer’s groups. Now, I’d love to hear from you! Answer any! Answer all!

Books:

Do you try to diversify your book buying habits so that you purchase books from a variety of different sellers or do you prefer to do your shopping in one main place?

Do you like a variety of formats (hard cover, trade paperback, mass market, digital) or do you prefer one over all others?

Do you buy more books than you read? Does that make you happy or sad?

Have any fun or quirky advice on how to plough through a TBR pile and/or add more reading time to an already packed schedule?

Writer’s groups:

Writers, which groups do you belong to? Which groups would you belong to if cost or membership eligibility weren’t an issue? What are some of the benefits you expect from a writer’s group in return for your membership dues?

Readers, had you ever heard of RWA or SFWA before this post? How about the Rita or the Nebula? Does the fact that a book won a major award make it more likely that you’ll buy it?

Thanks, everyone! I’ve really enjoyed reading commenters’ contributions so far.

Tomorrow I discuss… Everything Else! :-D


The Best Offer, Mr. Selfridge, and a Peek at My TBR Pile #movies #books

The Best Offer, movie

The Best Offer

I recently rented The Best Offer and, despite its lackluster reviews (52% on Rotten Tomatoes), I liked it and think it’s well worth watching and discussing. First off, who doesn’t love Geoffrey Rush? Anyone who can play Barbossa, the Marquis de Sade, and the man who had the gall to give a king elocution lessons will always be a favorite of mine. For anyone unfamiliar with the movie, it’s about an art auctioneer who is both obsessed and terrified by female beauty. Needless to say, he’s a bit of a loner and eccentric. (Let’s face it, he has mild OCD, although he is a master at his craft, allowing him to live a life full of luxury, opulence, and two-dimensional relationships).

In any case, he gets involved with a hermit heiress and begins the process of inventorying and valuing all of the art and furniture in her family’s crumbling, rambling villa. Soon, other story elements come into play: rusty gears and broken pieces from an antique automaton, a portrait of a ballerina, a young Romeo who also happens to be a machinist, a brilliant female mathematician, and a middling painter cum art thief accomplice – all set against the backdrop of the old villa, which give parts of the movie a gothic tone.

But the real reason I liked this movie was simply for the storytelling. Yes, there were scenes that strained credulity. And there were scenes that were simply unpleasant. But they were few. I loved watching how all of the elements coalesced around the movie’s themes of love, trust, deceit, art, and beauty. More of my thoughts on the ending are below… but be warned, they spoil the whole movie. So if you want to watch without knowing anything about the ending, don’t read the last part of this post…

Mr. Selfridge

The other thing I’ve been watching recently is Mr. Selfridge. (Have I mentioned how much I love PBS Masterpiece?) Set in 1909 London, the show is about the titular character, an American huckster who is on a mission to “teach Londoners how to shop.” To me, the show is P.T. Barnum meets Macy’s. Episodes revolve around the lives of Harry Gordon Selfridge, played by Jeremy Piven of Entourage fame, Harry’s wife, a French window designer, and a shop girl with an alcoholic father and a weak, naïve, but good-hearted brother. I just finished episode 4 and am looking forward to the rest!

fantasy, fiction, folk tale, young adult, Throne of the Crescent Moon, Saladin Ahmed, Fade to Black, Francis Knight, The Spirit Keeper, The Crane Wife, Hollow City, Ransom Riggs

My February TBR Pile

I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about books in this post so here’s a peek at my latest, ambitious TBR pile:

1. Hollow City by Ransom Riggs: I adore stories that are told in unique ways, especially ones that use more than one type of medium to do it. So, from the beginning, I was enchanted with Riggs’ books which combine bizarre vintage photographs with creative storytelling. Click here to read my review of his first book, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (which, interestingly, was my first post!).

2. Surfmen by C.T. Marshall: This book gives us a peek inside the early days of the United States Lifesaving Service, which became the U.S. Coast Guard. There is a seven page afterward “The Facts Behind the Fiction” that gives readers more information on the chronology, characters, conflicts, Carolina coast, wrecks, racism, and Croatan Indians found in the story. Chip, the author, is a friend of mine, and, after my recent trip to Key West’s Shipwreck Museum and doing a bit of pirate research for a short story I completed recently, I’m in the mood for some nautical fiction!

3. The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness: There were two reasons I picked up this book – The Indie Next List said it was based on a Japanese folk tale and the book jacket description was compelling. (A print shop owner removes an arrow from a bird’s wing, saving its life. The next morning a beautiful, mysterious woman enters his shop. Thus begins a story of passion, sacrifice, dream, and myth… “A novel that celebrates the creative imagination and the disruptive power of love.”)

4. The Spirit Keeper by K.B. Laugheed: Set in 1747, the premise (a miserable, neglected Irish girl is abducted by American Indians who believe she is the subject of their holy man’s visions) intrigued me. I loved the Author’s Note too, which warns readers up front that the book contains variations in spelling, grammar, and syntax and, “Therefore, if you have any hope of understanding this story as the author wrote it, read quickly—before it all changes.”

5. Fade to Black by Francis Knight: The cover! I thought it looked pretty cool. And, of course, I love the idea of a story set in a city built upward, not across, and I want to see how Knight built this world. I’m curious about the MC too, the pain-mage Rojan Dizon who “prefers the shadows”.

6. Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed: Proving that great quotes from trusted sources can still capture a reader’s attention, io9’s endorsement, “The best swashbuckler of the year… If you love smart escapism, don’t miss out on this book” had me immediately interested. The blurb wasn’t too shabby either and I’m eager to see how the power struggle between the Khalif and the Falcon Prince plays out in the Crescent Moon Kingdoms, “home to djenn and ghuls, holy warriors and heretics.”

The Best Offer – The Ending

If you’re reading this, you’ve decided you don’t care if I spoil the movie for you in favor of discussing it. Great. Here are my final thoughts:

I love how the heist was its own work of art and I thought that was set up well. The off-balance relationship between Oldman (the auctioneer) and Billy (his accomplice in deceit) was established early on. Billy makes a casual remark about how disappointed he is that Oldman never saw any promise in his paintings. Donald Sutherland plays this scene just right, masking the character’s bitterness. Oldman tells Billy that “you need an inner mystery” in order for something to be a masterpiece.

But the thing I loved most about The Best Offer was its sense of cosmic justice. Over the course of the movie, the viewer starts to sympathize with Oldman. Although he is rude, cold, and obsessive, there were times when I found myself wishing he could be happy. But it was always marred by a sense that he didn’t deserve it. Because he was a dishonest, deceitful person. His collection of antique beauties were all acquired by trickery, if not outright thievery. (Oldman would intentionally devalue paintings he coveted and then have Billy bid on them). Worse, when he finally meets a living, breathing human being whom he may have a chance at happiness with, he continues his deceits and lies.

Oldman believed the automaton (made up of the rusty gears and broken pieces he kept finding in the villa), once completed, would be the most valuable piece of art he’d ever found. Yet he repeatedly (even during a scene when Claire is worried about money and her future) failed to tell Claire about it. It’s clear that he intended to steal it from her. Worse still, in a creepy, voyeuristic scene, Oldman spies on Claire – this poor, borderline mentally ill woman whom he has begged to “trust him.”

So their relationship was doomed from the start because both Oldman and Claire were hiding things from one another. The big reveal was that Claire wasn’t hiding herself, she was hiding the heist – Billy’s masterpiece. There’s a wonderful scene where Oldman and Billy discuss the nature of art and whether human emotions are like art, which leads Oldman to muse about whether emotions can be faked… or forged. Billy’s reply: “Everything can be faked, Virgil… even love.”

For those of you that saw the movie:

* Do you think Billy proved he was the ultimate artist or the ultimate forger? What was Billy’s best work of art? The heist? Claire’s “love” for Virgil? Or the ballerina portrait (his final thumb in Virgil’s eye)?

* Toward the end of the movie, Oldman tells Robert (the young Romeo machinist) that “there’s something authentic in every forgery.” Do you think Claire really loved Virgil? I don’t, but she does make that interesting statement when Virgil finally shows her his room full of ill-gotten beauties that, no matter what happens, she wants him to know that she loves him. Hmm…

* Where was Oldman at the end of the movie? In a convalescent home or at the café? My interpretation was that the end scenes were filmed out-of-order and he spent his remaining days having Lambert bring him his mail. But, I suppose, the more romantic interpretation is that Virgil’s still waiting for Claire at Night and Day.

So how about you? Have you seen The Best Offer or Mr. Selfridge? Have you read Throne of the Crescent Moon, Fade to Black, The Spirit Keeper, The Crane Wife, Surfmen, or Hollow City? If not, have I convinced you to put them in your TBR pile or Netflix queue? Best wishes for a wonderful weekend!


My Favorite Gifts

S and Kindle Fire

The two gifts I was most excited about getting this year were
J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst’s ‘S.’ and a Kindle Fire HDX.

I’ve been looking forward to reading ‘S.’ since I first heard about it. And really, all I’ve heard about it is three things: (1) it’s a book for bibliophiles; (2) it’s a book that must be read in physical form because of all the tangible and non-digitally consumable extras (the postcards, maps, margin notes, handwritten napkins, etc.); and (3) it was written by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst. I’ll admit that I hadn’t heard of Dorst until I heard of S. but I’m really excited to see what he came up with. The premise – a story inside a story, written in the margins and on things slipped inside the book – is such a neat concept. At $35.00 it was a splurge, so I put it on my Christmas list with a very strong hint to my husband that he’d better not wait to buy it from our local bookstore.

'S' by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst

S by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst

All the goodies sticking out of ‘S’

The second gift I was super excited about was a new Kindle. Until Dec. 25th, I’d been reading on my trusty second generation Kindle and, while I still sort of have a sentimental attachment to it, it was time to upgrade. For those of you who don’t remember or never had one, the second generation Kindles are black & white and have no ability to stream content. I only used mine to access the Kindle store and buy books (not that that’s a bad thing, which is why it’s taken me so long to upgrade). But now it’ll be really cool to watch movies, surf the web, and see all those amazing book covers IN COLOR! :-D

Goodbye Kindle 2!

Goodbye Kindle 2!

How about you? Did anyone give you anything awesome, amazing, or inspiring? I hope so!


What to Read and Watch: 3 Fantasy Novels + 2 Futuristic Movies + 1 Horror Show #SFF

I’m a panelist at SF Signal’s Mind Meld today. The question was:

What lesser-known books have you read, fairly recently, that you think deserve more attention, and why?

If you stop by, you’ll get to see what my answer was (hint: 3 fantasy novels), as well as read the other panelists’ answers, which should give you some great reading ideas for your holiday break.

For those of you who need to take a break from your TBR pile (it happens; you’re forgiven ;-) ), below are my thoughts on what I’ve been watching.

General Spoiler Warning: I find it hard to discuss things without giving too much away. I’m not a reviewer, I’m a fan. So… if you don’t like spoilers, go watch MR. NOBODY, HOW I LIVE NOW, and AMERICAN HORROR STORY (COVEN) and come back.

Mr. Nobody

Like Inception and Cloud Atlas, this is a movie you’re gonna wanna watch twice. I knew from the trailer that it was trippy science fiction (a good thing). Even so I still had to resort to some post-viewing internet searches to get the red-yellow-blue thing. But once I did, I thought it was a brilliant visual way of reinforcing Nemo’s various life choices/paths. The story is about a man named Nemo Nobody who is 118 years old when the movie starts. He is the last mortal man in a futuristic society that has learned how to achieve immortality through stem cell compatible pigs (that part sounds absurd, but the movie isn’t, and the filmmakers treat the concept as absurdly as it sounds… perhaps a commentary on the futility and absurdity of man’s constant search for immortality?).

In any case, Nemo is being interviewed on his deathbed. A journalist has snuck into his room and wants to hear his life’s story. But his joy at snagging the scoop turns to confusion as Nemo weaves a story that is full of multiple inconsistencies and not a few earlier deaths. Nemo isn’t just musing about “what if” or “wish I woulda.” His constructs three different realities with alternate endings in each. Most of us tell our life’s story in chronological order. Not Nemo. His story is full of all the choices he made – and all the ones he didn’t. It’s pretty neat. (Although I found his “blue” life and wife hard to take, but she’s supposed to be that way. Great acting by Sarah Polley, btw. Who saw The Claim? That’s another good one to rent, although there’s not even a whiff of SFF in it).

All of the above aside, I’m not sure I agree with the ending premise: that all your life’s paths are just as worthy, equal, or meaningful. At the same time though, since we live in the real world (where smoke will not go back into the cigarette even if we live to be 118), I think it’s important not to regret past choices or wonder too much about paths not taken.

Interested in reading more about Mr. Nobody?

How I Live Now

Fifteen year old Elizabeth a.k.a. “Daisy” – a troubled teen who hears voices and has a constant need to wash her hands – arrives from the U.S. to spend a summer with cousins on a remote farm in the English countryside. A nuclear bomb is dropped on London. WWIII breaks out. Martial law is declared. And then… bad stuff happens. The kind of stuff you can imagine. And then are glad that you’re only imagining it, not remembering it.

The movie opens with scenes of idyllic summer days (you know their only purpose is to sharply contrast with whatever’s coming next) and scenes from an idyllic summer love (the fact that the young lovers are cousins is glossed over and, in light of the film’s true horrors, I had no trouble forgetting about that too).

Saoirse Ronan plays Daisy and she is terrific, as always. I wanted to know more about Daisy’s character. Why did she hear voices before the war even started? Why was she always washing her hands? There was other evidence of mental and/or emotional vulnerability (medication, a vague reference to a possible eating disorder) but the underlying cause was never explained. Were all of Daisy’s pre-war problems just due to the fact that her dad ignored her? Maybe the character was more fully fleshed out in the novel. Or maybe it doesn’t matter. The message of the film was survival and forward motion, not looking back.

Regardless of the cause of Daisy’s initial troubles, the one bright spot of the film was watching her transform from a prickly, obsessive, anti-social teen into someone with close family relationships, the competence to plan and execute a cross-country trek back home through land pock-marked with enemies and other dangers, and the will not just to survive but to make sure those she cares about do too.

Above all, How I Live Now is a film that makes you appreciate life. All of it. The big stuff. Family. A safe place. A sense of self. And the small stuff. Gardens. Sunshine. Clean water.

American Horror Show (Coven)

Even though I’m a speculative fiction fan, I don’t read or watch a lot of horror. But I love certain aspects of it: dark, macabre storylines, monsters, usually a twist or two, and sometimes, humor. I think I first heard about this show in Entertainment Weekly and the premise intrigued me: a New Orleans boarding school for non-conformists who also happen to be witches. In the first episode, a witch accidentally kills her boyfriend – by her act of passion, not in an act of passion – and another is burned at the stake (she comes back to life in E2). The show never looked back. Each episode just got more and more outlandish, which is what makes it so entertaining.

Ordinarily, by now, I would be wondering how the creators could possibly sustain the dramatic trajectory they’ve put themselves on, but that brings me to the other reason I got hooked on the show: its unique anthology format. Each season is a standalone story, with its own story arc – a promised beginning, middle, and end – all in one season. Each season stars many of the same cast members: Jessica Lange, Taissa Farmiga, Evan Peters… As well as some who are there only for that season: Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett, Emma Roberts, Zachary Quinto… So, of course, I had to go back and start watching season 1 (Murder House) in between episodes of S3. Be forewarned, however, this is not a show for the meek. (Fans of True Blood or Game of Thrones, you’ll be fine. :-D ).

What about you? Have you seen Mr. Nobody, How I Live Now, or American Horror Story (Coven)? What do YOU think? Hope everyone’s having a great week!


Bewitching Book Tours Hot Holiday Giveaway

Bewitching Book Tours organized a holiday giveaway, which includes a Kindle Fire HD 8.9 inch (or equivalent value Amazon Gift Card), three prize packs full of fun swag, and TONS of ebooks, which are all listed below. I’m not offering an ebook because I currently only do print giveaways, but I did contribute to the big prize and I wanted to let you all know about the giveaway because it’s a great opportunity to be introduced to some new authors… and, of course, possibly win a new Kindle Fire — for yourself or to give as a gift.

Hope everyone is having a great week. I’m in the midst of revisions for WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE, which are going well. On the horizon? The holidays, finishing up a wonderfully dark and romantic short story I’ve been working on as well as a proposal for a new (totally awesome) series. :-D

Happy Thursday and Good Luck with the Holiday Giveaway!

Bewitching Book Tours Hot Holiday Giveaway Banner

Bewitching Book Tours Hot Holiday Giveaway Nov 15- Dec 15

Giveaways:

1 Kindle Fire HD 8.9 inch or equivalent value Amazon Gift Card

3 Bewitching Prize Packs full of books and book swag goodies- open to US Shipping- prize packs may contain print copies of The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle, Would Be Witch by Kimberly Frost and Earth Angel by E Van Lowe, Paranormal Pleasures by Roxanne Rhoads, Tasty Christmas Treats by Roxanne Rhoads- books will be distributed among the 3 prize packs

1  e-book set of the first three books in the Seven Seals Series by Traci Douglass

1 Release, book 3 of The Angler series by Annie Nicholas

1 ebook copy Murder on Mars A New Orleans Mystery by MM Shelley

1 Ebook giveaway Hollow’s End by Marianne Morea

1 Ebook copy of Tigress by JE Taylor

1 ebook copy of In Flames by Jessica Jayne

1 copy of River Road by Suzanne Johnson

1 ebook copy of Visionary- Unleashed by N Dunham

1 copy of each Bleeding Hearts and Blood Rush by Ash Krafton

1 ebook copy of Soul Meaning (Seventeen Book 1) by AD Starrling

1 ebook copy of Blaze Ignites by JL Madore

1  e-book copy of Operation Earth by Maria Hammarblad

1 Earth’s Requiem. Print if in the U.S., an e-copy otherwise.

1 ebook copy Silent Oath (Book 2 of the Locked Within Trilogy) by Paul Anthony Shortt

1 Ebook: Five Golden Rings by Jeffe Kennedy from the Season of Seduction Carina Press erotic holiday anthology

1 eBook: An Unexpected Bride (The Bride Series, Book 1) by Shadonna Richards

1 eCopy of Divine Destiny by Joanna Grace

1 Ministry Protocol: Thrilling Tales of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences

1 Ebook giveaway. “Beautiful Stranger” by Katalina Leon

1 ebook copy of Chasing the Star Garden by Melanie Karsak

1 ebook copy of Cleaning Up by Jophrael L Avario

1 One e-book copy of Haven by Celia Breslin

1 one e-book copy of Dragon Fire by Dina Von Lowenkraft

1 ebook copy of Hex and the Single Witch by Roxanne Rhoads

1 one kindle copy of Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective by Christine Amsden

1 One ecopy of Cursed Ever After by AC James

1 copy of The Miss Education of Dr. Exeter by Jillian Stone

1 ecopy of Catwalk:Messiah by Nick Kelly

1 ecopy of Wucaii by Pembroke Sinclair

1 ecopy of The Bottom Line by Shelley Munro

1 Ebook copy of Dangerous Pursuit by Margaret Daly

CLICK HERE FOR THE RAFFLECOPTER FORM.

Happy reading! :-D


%d bloggers like this: