I don't know if this post will even publish, but I wanted to try since I'm finally able to login. I've been locked out of my account since Monday and I had a few posts already scheduled, but they haven't been publishing. I have no idea what's going on, since Google has been anything but helpful.
After a few hours of help desk support that went a bit like this:
And my responding like this:
I finally gave up and focused my energies on getting WordPress ready rather than troubleshooting here, since I knew I'd be gone within the week. My WordPress move has had some hiccups of its own, but I'm about ready and will hopefully have everything back on track starting tomorrow at fantasyismorefun.com. Fingers Crossed that this post actually goes up!
Day 7 of the Readathon I spent working on my blog design over at WordPress - it took all day and I'm still not done! But as I was working I had my audio book on and I finished Nice Girls Don't Date Dead Men by Molly Harper. It was a fun book - I laughed all day, the perfect release for the stressful work I was doing. I didn't, however, make any progress on The Garnet Dagger by Andrea R. Cooper, so I hope I'll get some time for it today. I think I'm going to have to redo my blog schedule for the week too, I think my posts will be a bit meager while I work on the transition.
Day 6 of the readathon has come and gone, can you believe it? Have you checked out mini challenge #1 at Auntie Spinelli Reads and Phantasmic Reads? You've got to identify 20 covers (in my case I'm stuck at 9 covers lol). It's a lot of fun and I'm hoping for a hint or two before the challenge ends today at 11:59 PM (EDT)... hint, hint ladies ;)
As for my reading progress, I knocked out a lot of my audio book yesterday and may finish it today. I shifted gears on my other books though - I looked at my calendar and realized I have a review rapidly approaching and I haven't read the book yet! So instead of the second book in The Nightlife series, I'm reading The Garnet Dagger by Andrea R. Cooper.
The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. Basically it's a chance to talk about the books you bought, borrowed, blogged about, and read for the week and what's coming in the week ahead - and then share them with a much wider blogging community. Check out the details here.
Last Week on the Blog
Fantasy Is More Fun is a on its fourth week already! I finally went ahead and took the plunge - I setup hosting with Go Daddy and I'm working on moving over to WordPress. Super scared because everything seems so much more complicated over there, but I really want the security of having my own site, not to mention all those plug ins!! I bought the theme last night and finalized some design decisions (my brother is a graphic design student and is helping me out thank goodness)... so, barring any disasters, next week this post will be coming to you from Fantasyismorefun.com with a brand new look! Cross your fingers for me :-)
My Initial Reaction...
I really enjoyed this book and I look forward to seeing more of these characters. I do think it suffered a little bit from what I call "first book syndrome" - all the world building and character development promise better books in the future, but make for a less exciting reading experience at first.
Cynthia Holloway isn't great and she isn't horrible as a narrator. I've heard much worse; there are no horrible, distracting accents and the pacing is fine. However, she doesn't manage to create characters with her narration, let alone bring them off the page. You only get to know the characters through the words she's reading, not how she's reading them. She's not distracting, but she doesn't improve upon the reading experience at all.
As this is the first book, we're only starting to get to know the key characters, but we're already seeing a variety of richly written personalities. Merit, the heroine of the series, starts the book as a new vampire, deeply confused and unhappy about her current situation. She was an English Lit graduate student at the University of Chicago, but when a vampire attacked her late one night on campus her whole life changed. Ethan Sullivan, master of Cadogan House, interrupted the vampire attack and saved her life, but only by turning her into one of his novitiates. Suddenly Merit has to face a life very different from the been planning for, not to mention not knowing the person staring back at her in the mirror (yes, she has a reflection!). I love the way Neill wrote Merit - her frustration comes across vividly and realistically, especially her anger.
Merit has a marvelous group of supporting characters that I look forward to knowing better. Her transformation to vampire has had a deep impact on her relationships - most of the characters we see in the book are new to her, the few that aren't she's relating to differently. A quick rundown of my favorites, sans spoilers: Mallory Carmichael, Merit's roommate and best friend extraordinaire, is snarky and supportive; Ethan, Merit's Master/employer is equal parts handsome, controlling, secretive, annoying, and sexy - so basically the perfect combination to make you (and Merit) frustrated with him and lust after him; Chuck Merit, Merit's grandfather, a retired CPD officer and probably the best grandfather a girl could hope for; Jeff (who I adore) and Catcher (who cracks me up) are also great characters, but I will let you find out about them when you read the book, because I wouldn't want to spoil anything for you.
We start the book as confused as Merit; she's being returned to the home she shares with her roommate Mallory after a few days away making the transition from human to vampire. She may have foggy memories of the events since her attack on campus, but it's perfectly clear to her that she does want to be vampire, wants back her life as a graduate student, and is pissed at Ethan Sullivan for changing her without her consent. But there's no going back - even if Ethan hadn't already withdrawn her from the graduate program her fame as daughter of Joshua Merit would have made her change general public knowledge in no time - and thankfully she has her best friend Mallory, who has always been a fan of the supernatural, to guide and support her through her adjustment.
Adjusting to her new life would have been difficult enough if her attitude hadn't managed to make her less than popular among her fellow Cadogan House vampires and if several other young women weren't being found dead, most likely from vampire attack, around Chicago. Merit gets involved in the investigations, while also learning how to be a vampire. Both aspects of her life are interesting, fun to read, and often exciting.
This is clearly the start of really great series. I especially loved the way Neill intertwined details about Chicago into the story; it's clear she knows the city and it made that setting so believable. I have to admit, though, that I found myself rolling my eyes more than once. Some aspects were less-than convincing and too may pieces just fell into place way too easily. Yes, I'm complaining about the believability of a book about vampires - that's how unbelievable some of these developments were. That aside, I'm hooked. The characters are really compelling and I can't wait to see them develop throughout the series.
Join me every Saturday to explore fun questions about books, blogging, reading, and our favorite fantasy worlds! This is a bit of random fun that I hope you'll join in on!
Do you prefer Goodreads or Shelfari? Why?
I discovered Shelfari before Goodreads, and I'm still trying to get used to Goodreads and understand its appeal.
For one, I joined an incredible group on Shelfari about a year ago and I love our conversations. I like the way I can import my Amazon purchases into my shelves on Shelfari and I really like how simple it is for me to see my groups and if they have new posts. I also prefer that I can enter dates for each time I've read a book, rather than just one date. I'm a chronic re-reader with a penchant for organization, so that feature is a dream for me.
But I've noticed that the book blogging community tends to use Goodreads more, so I'm trying. Most book reviews, cover reveals, and etc. have buttons to add to my Goodreads, but not Shelfari, shelves. I almost never see links to Shelfari profiles on blogs. Since getting myself fully setup there last month, I've seen one thing I like better. The status updates while reading books - they can be a lot of fun to read, though I'm still getting used to using it consistently. Other than that, there's nothing about Goodreads setup I like better... in fact I like most the features less. The only big appeal to me is the larger community and author engagement, though I'm still trying to insert myself into it. Strangely, I'm finding it much harder to get comfortable in this much bigger reading community than it was on Shelfari. Maybe the community is too big to just jump in? Maybe I'm just preferring what I started with? I'm lead to conclude that this is the main reason everyone uses Goodreads - because everyone uses Goodreads. Am I wrong?
Which do you prefer? Why? Let me know in the comments below!
Day 5 of the readathon was pretty good for me. I got started on my new audio book Nice Girls Don't Date Dead Men by Molly Harper and I finished Nightlife New York by Travis Luedke (review coming this week). On to the next book in the Nightlife series!
My Initial Reaction...
For me this book has two parts: the first half, which is very slow moving, overly descriptive, and yet so promising; and the second half, which is page-turning, perfectly paced, and exciting. This is a book you have to stick with to get to the good parts, but if you do, you will be rewarded.
Amongst the many characters in Cobweb Bride, for me, two women carried the story: Persephone (Percy) Ayren, and the Infanta Claere Liguon.
Percy is the star of this story and I absolutely fell in love with her. As the less-attractive and unwanted middle child, Percy has gotten used to being ignored and unappreciated by all in the family, except sometimes her father. But when she sets out for death's keep in the north, to possibly become his Cobweb Bride, she grows into a strong, confidant young woman and it is beautiful to watch. Percy stops hiding in the shadows and starts being an assertive leader, even as she struggles to understand herself and her place in this mess.
The Infanta is a fascinating character. We meet her on her birthday, a sickly heir to the throne, barely able to handle being in public for a few hours. That all changes with her death; because she cannot move on, death for Claere is a release from a life of pain and weakness. Suddenly she finds her purpose - to be the Cobweb Bride - and she is resolved to make it to Death's keep, dead or not. In fact, one of the things I enjoyed most about this book was the way dead characters grew and changed in response to their death.
The two principal male characters of the story, the black night Beltain and the marquis Vlau Fiomarre, each had difficult moral dilemmas to deal with that forced them to question who they were and who they served. Within the opening pages, Beltain's father is killed in battle but, since he does not actually die, Beltain must decide to whom he owes his allegiance: his father, who is rapidly changing after his death, or the Emperor and his own conscience? Vlau's loyalties are also tested, for before the start of the novel he is told of his father's and brother's deaths at the Silver Court by the Emperor's order; should he avenge their deaths or follow the Infanta, heir to the Empire?
This story is one of those with several different plots taking place simultaneously but all interrelated in some way. Some of those interrelations we see fulfilled in this book, others I suspect will be important in the other two books of the trilogy. The characters were really well written, some more than seemed necessary for this book (e.g., the Prince and Princess Osenni of Lethe) and I can only suspect that they also will become important characters in later books. I particularly enjoyed the way Nazarain wrote each of the girls traveling together so individually; they each of have distinct personalities and you grow to care for (or be annoyed by) each and every one of them.
The Story... Cobweb Bride takes place in an alternative Renaissance world where all death has suddenly stopped. The opening chapter travels between different sites throughout the kingdoms, showing the devastating consequences of death's stopping. Death himself appears to the Prince and declares that until he has his Cobweb Bride, death will be suspended. The scenes are extremely descriptive and devastating; by the end of the first chapter you fully appreciate why death must resume. Unfortunately these scenes are so descriptive that they can drag on too long. After a couple stops, you've gotten the picture and are really ready for the story to move on, but it doesn't. I understand that Nazarian is usin these stops to introduce readers to the primary characters of the story, but for me it was labored and hard to get through.
Things begin to pick up after the Emperor's order goes out, sending young women from all the land to the north to search for Death's keep and to offer themselves as potential Cobweb Brides. Unfortunately, this doesn't really get going until we're halfway through the book. Thankfully, it goes from slow-moving to exciting. The second half of the book, as we follow the journeys of the Infanta on one path and Percy, along with several other girls, on another drew me in and I could hardly put it down. Paths start to intersect in sometimes predictable, but often unexpected ways.
I was a little disappointed by Percy's interaction with Death. In an effort to avoid spoilers, I will just say that it was a bit stilted and, as a result, some of the following events felt off for me. That aside, I really enjoyed the way the Nazarian has reworked the Persephone myth and managed to weave several surprises into predictable myth-based developments to the story. Her attentiveness to detail made the cessation of death poignant and, when it didn't slow down the pace, made the story come to life.
If you came to this story for the Romance, you will be disappointed as it's barely an undercurrent for most of the story and was pretty awkward when it was present. But I would definitely recommend this story for fantasy readers and, if the descriptions of death won't disturb you, I think readers of young adult literature would probably really enjoy it as well.
I have to add that this book ended with one of the best concluding lines I've read in a story and I look forward to the next book.
Day 4 of the readathon is over and I'm making progress with my goal. Yesterday was a better reading day, and I finished House Rules by Chloe Neill and made serious headway with The Nightlife New York by Travis Luedke, which I will finish today. I'm also beginning Nice Girls Don't Date Dead Men by Molly Harper on audio book today. This weekend I think I'll be able to get caught up and back on track with my goal, since I haven't fallen too seriously behind.