Wednesday, January 29, 2014

'Death of the Body: Crossing Death #1'

Title:  Death of the Body (Crossing Death #1)
Author:  Rick Chiantaretto
Genre: New Adult Urban Fantasy
I grew up in a world of magic. By the time I was ten I understood nature, talked to the trees, and listened to the wind. When the kingdom of men conquered my town, I was murdered by one of my own—the betrayer of my kind. But I didn't stay dead.
I woke to find myself in a strange new world called Los Angeles. The only keys to the life I remembered were my father’s ring, my unique abilities, and the onslaught of demons that seemed hell-bent on finding me. Now I must learn who I really am, protect my friends, get the girl, and find my way back to my beloved hometown of Orenda.

About Rick Chiantaretto
I’ve often been accused of having done more in my life than the average 30 year old, but if I were completely honest I’d have to tell you my secret: I’m really 392.
So after all this time, I’m a pretty crappy writer.
I have one book published but out of print, one coming out soon, and a bunch half written (when you have eternity, where’s the reason to rush?). I’ve been favorably reviewed by horror greats like Nancy Kilpatrick, and my how-to-write-horror articles have been quoted in scholarly (aka community college freshmen’s) papers.
I enjoy the occasional Bloody Mary, although a Bloody Kathy or Susan will suffice.
Mostly, I just try to keep a low profile so people don’t figure out who I REALLY am.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

'The Wolves of Midwinter'

Years ago, when I first read the book, 'Interview with the Vampire', I was totally smitten. I'm not really one for vampires (any mention of blood makes me squirm), but 'Interview...' was written so well, and with such elegance, that the bloody scenes didn't make me wince.  I was enthralled with the story of Lestat and his companions. I loved the eroticism and gothic feel.  Soon after that, I read 'The Witching Hour', and Anne Rice became one of my favorite writers.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I had met her years ago, when I was pregnant with my daughter.  Anne made me sit down and we talked about children and writing.  She is one of the most generous of writers, and she has earned the respect (and devotion) of countless fans.  Including yours truly.

It came as a surprise to me when I learned she had written a book about Jesus Christ...and even more surprised when I discovered it was written from His perspective.  It was joyful and innocent, yet it filled me with dread.  Who wouldn't be filled with dread when you know how His physical life ended?  But it was written with great beauty and grace...and quite a bit of humor, I was happy to discover.  

And as much as I loved her 'Beauty' series (by the way, she's writing a fourth in the series), it is her paranormal stories that really touch me.  When I first read 'The Wolf Gift', I fell into the story of a man who was destined to become the Man Wolf, savior of the innocent and downtrodden.  Killer of bad guys.  It was right up my alley.

The second book, 'The Wolves of Midwinter', takes place during the Yuletide, a time when warm holiday traditions are renewed at Nideck Point, the mansion Reuben Golding inherited in Northern California.  It is an elegant place that houses not only members of the Morphenkinder, but plays host to the Forest Gentry, beings as ancient as the Morphenkinder, and who live in the vast forests surrounding the estate. 

But Reuben has been visited by a spirit who cannot speak, a spirit in torment.  A spirit desperate for guidance.  And it is his task to help this spirit in any way he can.

The writing is elegant and erotic, with suspense filling every chapter.  And the characters are so finely drawn.  Reuben, weighing family devotion on one hand, and his new life on the other. The beautiful Laura, living with her own changes. And Felix, trying to keep a steady, thoughtful hand on situations fraught with tension.  And there are new additions to this cast of characters, characters that are totally original, yet firmly set within this new mythology of the Morphenkinder.

Anne Rice has done it, again.  She brings us something new, something fresh, and yet, ironically, ageless.

'The Wolves of Midwinter' (#2 in The Wolf Gift Chronicles), published by Alfred A. Knopf, is available at your local library and independent bookstore.  ISBN 9780385349963

Friday, January 17, 2014

'The Fault in Our Stars'

About a year or so ago, I came upon a most brilliant man who had posted some amazing videos on Youtube.  He is rapid-fire with his words and knowledge, and I wonder if he even takes a breath.  I love listening to his take on economics, science, music, and just life in general.  He and his brother, Hank, originally made the videos to keep in touch with one another.

The guy?  John Green.  I love him.

And I love him even more now that I know he's the author of some fantastic, absorbing young adult books.  I've read them all, but didn't realize that he's the same guy who makes the videos (I sometimes skip looking at the author pictures on the endflaps).

So I learned something new.  But don't laugh at me.  Be happy that I've discovered that this phenomenal writer is also the guy who makes the videos I absolutely adore.

I just finished his newest book, 'The Fault in Our Stars', and it's hard to write about it.  It left me depressed, yet oddly happy.  It restored my faith in great writing.  

And it made me appreciate male writers who can summon their 'inner girl'.

I have to warn you that this story has a very sarcastic P.O.V., yet it is full of unexpected tenderness.  And lots and lots of crying.  

Hazel Grace Lancaster has cancer, but due to a medical miracle drug, she has been given a few more years of life. When she grudgingly attends the weekly Cancer Kids Support Group one evening, she meets a boy who will turn her world around:  Augustus Waters.  Augustus has lost a leg to cancer, but his view of life makes Hazel think about more than just her bum lungs.  They set off in establishing a friendship that has no bounds.  Both realize that the end could come at any time, so they share what they can, especially their hearts.  After Hazel has Augustus read her favorite book, they take off on an adventure that will change their lives.

I won't say more.  But I truly love this book.  I love the sarcasm.  I love the perspective.  But most of all, I love the fact that they are scared and aren't afraid to finally admit it. Their parents are concerned and supportive and very loving (Hazel's dad has a tendency to cry a lot).  And a situation like that made me wonder how I would feel if my daughter had been given a much-too-soon death sentence.  Would I be patient?  Would I let her make her own decisions, even though I know it would cost her her health?  

'The Fault in Our Stars' is a 'cry' book.  But you'll also laugh.  And you'll question.  And you'll feel.  Oh, how you'll feel!

No wonder John Green is in the upper echelon of YA authors.


'The Fault in Our Stars', published by Dutton Books, a division of Penguin, is available at your local library and bookstore.  The film version will be released in June 2014.