Announcing The Adventures of Kate Readalong

A lot of reading posts this week, Squiders. But hey, I figured you wanted some variety after hearing me talk about City of Hope and Ruin for months on end! (Speaking of which, you should go enter the giveaway on Goodreads.)

We haven’t done a readalong in a while, so let’s! This time we’re going to do a trilogy of books by T.A. Barron, referred to as either The Adventures of Kate or the Heartlight Saga. It’s not a trilogy trilogy–the books have the same main character (Kate) but the events do not directly follow from book to book.

The second book, The Ancient One, was assigned as part of a school project when I was in seventh grade. Each year my middle school would host a local author, and we would all read at least one of their books before the visit. The Ancient One was a formative book for me, but I haven’t revisited it since middle school, so I’m interested to see how it withstands the test of time.

(Eighth grade was Will Hobbs, and I was very thoroughly over Will Hobbs and the entire boy-gets-lost-in-wilderness-and-has-to-survive genre by then, so that was less enjoyable.)

Kate’s adventures are YA/MG scifi-y/fantasy-ish somewhat in the vein of A Wrinkle in Time.

Anyway, I’m excited, and I hope you come along with me! I’m really hoping the books hold up. T.A. Barron was a favorite author of mine in my early teens, between these books and his Young Merlin series. The three books in the series are Heartlight, The Ancient One, and The Merlin Effect. We’ll read Heartlight for June, so let’s say we’ll do the discussion on…June 28.

See you then! Have a lovely weekend, Squiders!

Library Book Sale Finds: Sushi for Beginners by Marian Keyes

You ever have a book that you’re not quite sure why you picked it up? That’s the case here. I have a vague memory of selecting this book from one of the library book sales last summer, but when I picked it up to read it again, I couldn’t, for the life of me, remember what had attracted me to it.

Title: Sushi for Beginners
Author: Marian Keyes
Publication Year: 2003
Genre: Chick lit? Slice of life?

Pros: Doesn’t require a lot of thought to keep up with despite the myriad of characters
Cons: Inconsistent characterization, head hopping, lack of plot

I mean, maybe I thought it was romance? I can get behind a good romance. Okay, I’ve just re-read the back of the book, and it definitely sounds like a female friend romp/romance. That would have been okay.

It is not either of those.

I admit I don’t read a lot of real life based stories because I don’t necessarily get the point of them. They tend to focus on depressing things, like infidelity, illness, depression, loss of spouse/child, getting over childhood abuse–all things that I don’t really want to think about if I don’t have to. Now, from what I understand, knowing that I am wildly out of my depth here, chick lit tends to be upbeat, funny, kind of like candy for your soul.

So, I think that’s probably what this book is–it’s got the witty banter, the sex scenes, etc. But I still don’t really see the point. It wasn’t necessarily hard to keep reading, but I didn’t particularly like anybody in the book, and there’s very little plot to speak of, which again, I think is normal for the genre.

Most of the action takes place at Colleen, a new fashion magazine based in Dublin, Ireland. You’ve got Lisa Edwards, the editor, who’s upset about being shunted over from London when she thought she was going to get promoted to a New York magazine; Ashling Kennedy, assistant editor, who is kind of a wet rag, honestly, and is still the most likeable person in the book; and Clodagh Kelly, who’s the mother of two and Ashling’s best friend. And then there’s occasional head hopping into male points of view for a line or two.

And there’s finding ourselves and learning to be better people, blah blah blah, but it’s not terribly interesting.

ANYWAY. I didn’t particularly like this book, as you can probably tell. But, again, not really my normal genre cup of tea. Good to read around and all that.

Squiders, do you know anything about chick lit? Is this a good example of it? Is there a different book I should read instead?

Tie-in Fiction Friday: Spider-Man Emerald Mystery

Do you remember that we were doing this, Squiders? Because I checked, and the first and only time I’d done it before was in January…of 2015. So much for it being a regular sort of thing! But here we are again.

Bit of backstory as to how this title came to be in my possession. You guys know I’m not that big of a superhero person, and Spider-Man is not one of my favorites. He is, however, the larger, mobile one’s favorite (probably because he was the first superhero the larger, mobile one ever really saw). He’s been into Spider-Man since before he could talk. He’s got a ton of Spider-Man clothes and shoes, we’ve watched the really terrible ’60s animated series, there’s various Spider-Man toys everywhere…

Anyway. When he was still fairly small, we were at our local coffee shop/gameporium, which also happens to have a community bookshelf, where you can bring a book and take a different one home with you. There was a Spider-Man book, which I dutifully showed to him. He, being about 2, showed great excitement, and then…ripped the cover off.

Toddlers are dangerous for books.

Anyway, I felt like we had to take it since he’d defaced it. I taped the cover back on and it’s sat on our bookshelf for a few years. And since I feel like I have to read all books in my possession before they leave my possession, here we are.

Now, Dean Wesley Smith is a familiar name–I’ve definitely read some of his Star Trek books, though it’s been a while.

Emerald Mystery was a short, easy read. The book’s got 200 pages in it, but quite a few of those are blank or have illustrations on them in between chapters. It’s told first person from Peter Parker/Spider-Man’s point of view.

When I introduced the concept of Tie-in Fiction Friday, I wondered if one had to be familiar with the franchise in order to enjoy the books, or if you’d be lost. This book reinforces that, to some extent. I mean, I know the Spider-Man basics, from poor Uncle Ben to Mary Jane to radioactive spiders to the fact that all the Marvel superheroes exist in the same universe (important, since Spidey has to make a call to the X-Men at some point). But I still felt like I was missing some things. I wasn’t familiar with some of the villains or events that were referenced at times. It didn’t make the book unreadable or confusing, but it did make me feel like I wasn’t the intended audience, which is probably not something you want to do when writing a book.

Interestingly, there’s a chronology of Marvel superhero books in the back, and there’s quite a few authors I recognize there, such as Peter David and Diane Duane.

Peter is Peter. Not a lot of characterization there, but I suppose that’s not really important. The most interesting character in the book is Barb Lightner, a PI helping Spider-Man with the case. It’s not a particularly complex plot, about on the level you’d find in an hour-long television episode.

Would I recommend this book? Not sure. Having never read another Spider-Man or other superhero tie-in, I have no idea how this ranks in terms of quality. It’s not an amazing book, but if you’re looking for a quick read that doesn’t require a lot of thinking, this will do.

Read any Spider-Man books, Squiders? What’s your favorite tie-in property?

Free Comic Book Day Round-up From a Non-comics Person

I love Free Comic Book Day. It’s the first Saturday of every May here in the States, and has apparently been going for 15 years, judging by the “Celebrating 15 years!” on a lot of the books.

You can go to your local comic book store and pick up one of multiple (seems to vary on different store’s individual policies) sample comic books. I take the family and we always grab a few.

I should clarify that I like the general idea of comics–storytelling with a combination of pictures and words–but I am not wild about comic books themselves. I just don’t understand paying $4 for ~30 pages of content that I can read in five minutes. I prefer collections or graphic novels instead. So FCBD is really the only time that I pick up a comic book.

I ended up with four this year, and I also read one that my husband picked up. The larger, mobile one ended up with several kids-aimed ones (Spongebob, Pokemon, Sonic) that the husband has read to him, so I have no opinions on that lot.

  • Archie (Mark Waid/Fiona Staples)
    I’d heard that they’d rebooted Archie and Riverdale and the lot, making it more modern (and grittier, maybe?) so I picked this one up out of curiosity. I’m not wild about the new art style–everyone looks weird as opposed to more realistic. I was fairly familiar with the original incarnation of this, so I don’t know how I feel about the personality revamps. Jughead seems, hm, kind of like the Riverdale version of Loki, honestly, but not necessarily in a good way. The sample seems like it’s got to be the intro to the new series. Veronica hasn’t shown up yet. Didn’t really like it–or remember it.
  • Avatarex Destroyer of Darkness (Grant Morrison/Jeevan J. Kang)
    This one seems to be based on Indian mythology, which is kind of cool. But it does lead me to another of my complaints about comic books, and that this manages to be all world-building set-up because there’s just not enough space to actually get into the story. It’s made worse because they’ve stuffed two previews into the sample, the other being for 18 Days which seems to be related to Avatarex somehow which is not immediately clear. Interesting concept. I might pick up a collection and see if it was worth reading past the intro if I saw one on the shelves.
  • Doctor Who
    Every year they put out a DW sampler, which includes a few pages from recent adventures with a variety of Doctors. Last year there were three stories; this year there’s four, one each from 9-12. Each doctor gets about 6 pages of story. I will say that this year’s stories were actually interesting (Twelve sounds just like Capaldi, and Nine’s has both Rose and Jack, so I’m already interested) so I might actually pick up a collection or two. I mean, not necessarily of these stories, just DW comics in general. It is interesting, however, that in the end the collections aren’t actually any cheaper than buying the story issue by issue.
  • Mooncop (Tom Gauld)
    I love everything about this one. It’s cute, it takes place on the moon, there’s an animatronic Neil Armstrong that has escaped from the museum, etc. I’m sold. The book doesn’t come out til September, though, alas. I’m smitten enough that I’m also considering picking up his other books. Best of the bunch for me.
  • Spectrum (PJ Haarsma, Alan Tudyk, Sarah Stone)
    Looks like your standard aliens have invaded/resistance fighters story with a bit of a twist. Not enough in the sample for me to determine if it’s something I would like or not. And I guess it’s not actually out? The sample says “#0” on the front and there’s an ad in the back that says to look for “#1” next month. So, I dunno. My comic book store is really a coffee shop/game store so I’m in there quite a bit for other reasons, and if I remember I might look at the issue when it comes out.

Did you guys do Free Comic Book Day? Find anything you liked? Have opinions about the above or comics in general?

My shop also sells back issues for 50 cents, so I picked up an arc of the current IDW nu!Star Trek series. It’s issues #21-#23, an arc called After Darkness. (I picked it up because it was the only complete arc in the box, and I’ve been meaning to look into the Trek comics to see if they’re any good.) It’s an interesting concept–dealing with Pon Farr after the destruction of Vulcan–but I feel like the story was so shallow because they didn’t have time to really do anything with it. I think it could have been done a lot better in a different medium, or with a couple more issues.

City of Hope and Ruin is out! And Miscellany.

Happy Thursday, Squiders! I think I’ve overloaded my desktop refreshing everything to stalk the book release, so I’ve had to retreat to my laptop. Very classy.

City of Hope and Ruin is out in the world! And so far, so good. We’ve already got a 5-star review on Amazon, and two on Goodreads! The Amazon and one of the Goodreads ones is from another author I look up to greatly, so I’m pretty tickled.

Our FB release party last night was pretty wild. I’ve never been so tired from something virtual before. Hopefully all had a good time, and thanks for coming, if you did. If you didn’t, well, you missed out.

Here’s the round-up of launch stuff for the week thus far:

An interview with me
An interview with both Siri and me (a lot of process stuff)
An interview with Briony, one of our main characters

And here are the buy links. You should think about picking up a copy, since apparently it’s 5-star material.😉

(Amazon | Paperback | Nook | iBookstore | Kobo)

And you can add it on Goodreads here.

Next week we’ll be back to our normal fare around here. Thanks for your support with the book launch!

Hooray! City of Hope and Ruin is out tomorrow!

It’s launch week! On one hand, yay! On the other, oh God, the nerves. Will anyone like the book? Will anyone buy the book? These are things I worry about each and every time I have a new book out. Mostly with novels. I suspect a lot of authors feel the same way.

But anyway! City of Hope and Ruin is being released tomorrow! Ebook versions (except Kobo) are available for pre-order for 40% of the final list price, so I’d recommend you take advantage of that while you can.

You can pre-order here:

(Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBookstore | Kobo)

We’re also going to have a release party on Facebook! Since Siri and I don’t live in the same country, it’s the easiest way for us to do a joint one, and you’re invited! We’ll have opportunities throughout the night to get a copy of the new book, or if you already have a copy, another Turtleduck Press book. We’ll also have other things, like an Amazon gift card and so forth. It should be a good time!

I’ll be in and out all week with different going-ons. Please let me know if you have any questions about the book or anything!

In the Company of the Dead by Ciara Ballintyne

In the Company of the Dead coverToday, I’m pleased to present to you In the Company of the Dead by Ciara Ballintyne, a new epic fantasy romance novel. Take a look and see if it sounds like something you’d like!

Ellaeva’s obligations to the death goddess leave her no time to hunt down her parents’ murderer—until both duty and revenge lead her to the lonely castle where Lyram Aharris has been exiled for striking his prince. As the castle falls under siege, Ellaeva and Lyram must fight to save themselves from political machinations and clashing gods—but the greatest threat comes from an unexpected quarter.

Excerpt:

Dust rose into the sky, painting the sunrise red with a shepherd’s warning.

On the castle parapet, Lyram lowered the eyeglass and frowned. Beyond the ruined, outer wall of the keep, the terrain turned to densely wooded hills and then into mountains, but that much dust meant men and horses, and lots of them. No merchant caravans came past the remote Caisteal Aingeal, and he expected no supply train until the spring thaw reached the mountain passes, which would be two weeks or more. He turned to his aide-de-camp.

“Have any of the scouts returned yet?” The stiff wind whipped the words from his mouth and his auburn hair into his eyes.

Everard stood straight and stiff alongside him, impeccable in formal court jacket and kilt marked with the insignia of his rank. Before he could answer, a shout rose from further down the castle wall. A soldier pointed at the old gate.

Lyram pressed the glass back to his eye and swung to look, his basket-hilted broadsword banging against his leg at the sudden motion. With no trouble over the winter, and no reason to expect any, he wore only his gambeson and a leather tabard. The rest of his armour remained in his room—a lack that left him distinctly uneasy now.

A horse raced through the crumbling gate in the old vine- and grass-covered outer wall, the rider clinging to its neck. It galloped up the narrow dirt path that cut straight from outer gate to moat. This close to the tail end of winter, no cattle grazed in the waist-high grass between the two walls.

A hushed stillness spread along the soldiers lining the battlements. Tension squeezed a tight knot into Lyram’s gut. Nearly twelve months he’d waited here in exile, twelve months wondering if Drault would be true to his word—if he dared.

Now it began.

Ciara Ballintyne grew up on a steady diet of adult epic fantasy from the age of nine, leaving her with a rather confused outlook on life – she believes the good guys should always win, but knows they often don’t. She is an oxymoron; an idealistic cynic.

She began her first attempts at the craft of writing in 1992, culminating in the publication of her debut work, Confronting the Demon, in 2013. Her first book to be published with Evolved Publishing is In the Company of the Dead.

She holds degrees in law and accounting, and is a practising financial services lawyer. In her spare time, she speculates about taking over the world – how hard can it really be? If she could be anything, she’d choose a dragon, but if she is honest she shares more in common with Dr. Gregory House of House M.D. – both the good and the bad. She is a browncoat, a saltgunner, a Whedonite, a Sherlockian, a Ringer and a Whovian… OK, most major geek fandoms. Her alignment is chaotic good. She is an INTJ.

Ciara lives in Sydney, Australia, with her husband, her two daughters, and a growing menagerie of animals that unfortunately includes no dragons.

Twitter: @CiaraBallintyne

Facebook: http://facebook.com/CiaraBallintyne

Website: http://ciaraballintyne.com

(Buy the book! Amazon | Kobo | iBookstore | B&N )

Enter to win a $20 Amazon/BN GC – a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hope you have a lovely weekend, Squiders!

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