Beautiful Creatures, why you should keep two copies of a few books, and some silly questions

Photos will have to wait because I forgot to charge the camera battery before today.

But (*squee!*) I got to meet Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia, the authors of the new YA fantasy novel Beautiful Creatures.

Their launch party was held in the teeny tiny Diesel Books (support thy independent bookstore! – my shopping list follows) at the Brentwood Country Mart.

First of all, thanks to Jane and Alfonso for giving us a ride to Santa Monica–it’s not that I forgot about the signing, but that I had absolutely given up hope of doing anything other than working ridiculous holiday hours for the next month. Thanks for reminding me to have a life and eat some Popeye’s fried chicken.

Next of all, thanks to Margaret and Kami for writing such a fantastic book!

Third of all, thanks to Kristen @ Bookworming in the 21st Century for the ARC. (Although I do also have a hardcover, and an audiobook version… hrm. I may have to splurge for the eBook too, so I can have it with me at all times without fear of scuffing up the jacket.)

– – –

Beautiful Creatures

Beautiful Creatures is exactly what I aspire to be as a human being: pretty, funny, and smart all in one package. Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl have written a seamless and utterly absorbing tale of a cursed romance: a Mortal boy who falls for a Caster girl in a small Southern town. Meaningful thoughts about love, loyalty, and prejudice unfold from this intricately parsed novel: those who love books will delight in the literary references, those who love love will swoon over the star-crossed couple, and those who love good writing will greedily devour every carefully chosen word.

Better yet, get the print version and the audio, both. The music and sound effects (particularly for the dream sequences) in the audiobook version add yet another dimension to the Gothic atmosphere the authors have built.

Another book for the loaner shelf*.

*You will need two copies of certain books–one to loan out to friends until they get hooked and become convinced that they also need to go out and buy a copy (or two) and one to have handy in the middle of the night so that when you get the hankering to pick up and read a certain passage (or 576 pages), it’s there. Believe me, after the number of times (7) that the Poison Study and Twilight series caused me the distress of not having a copy to read when the book-hunger struck at 1 am (because some “friend” or other borrowed my book) taught me, there are books for which you need to keep a loaner copy. BCis one of them.

**I was asked recently why my reviews are so short. I have a long chain of reasons. 1) I’m very busy. 2) I’m very tired. 3) I’m kind of lazy. 4) I don’t want to give anything away–if you asked me in person, I would probably tell you too much. With blogging I can edit myself and stop before I’ve told you who wins and whether the dog lives or dies. 5) You can find the synopsis anywhere, so why waste time copy-pasting it? (See #3, above.) 6) I’d rather be reading.

– – –

Also at the launch party: Pseudonymous Bosch, suspiciously without any kind of disguise (I wish I’d known–years ago I had him sign my copy of The Name of This Book Is Secret, but my other two volumes are conspicuously missing signatures!)

and, freshly ordered from thebookstorethatshallnotbenamed.com, Katie Alender, author of Bad Girls Don’t Die. (Quick! Add this to your TBR on GoodReads.) Hurry up, mailman! I need this book, stat!

– – –

Is Beautiful Creatures the Next Twilight?

I agree with TeamBella76–it’s not the next Twilight. It’s the first Beautiful Creatures. According to the article, the first of five (*squee!* sorry…), and I hope no Patrick-Rothfuss-like delays result in the next four years. I just pray that unlike most book-to-film adaptations, no one screws it up. (Amen.)

– – –

So, it’s a year until the release of the as-yet-un-named sequel to BC. What to read in the meantime? And where to buy it?

The Poisons of Caux: The Hollow Bettle (Book I)

Candle Man, Book One: The Society of Unrelenting Vigilance

Toby Alone

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Missed Margaret and Kami at their launch party? It’s all good! You have many more chances to meet them. They’ll be at Borders in Northridge, CA at 7 pm on Thursday, Dec. 3. (Ooh! I’m off that night… wonder if they would take kindly to being gently stalked…)

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Quickie – Soulless by Gail Carriger

Soulless by Gail Carriger

Soulless by Gail Carriger


5

Ok, I know you’re going to think I’m being overgenerous in giving so many books 5’s. But really, it’s because I hesitate to read a book that I’m already not sure I’m going to like. I buy most of my books, and I probably won’t drop any dough on something I don’t anticipate enjoying. Sure, once in a while there are those things I pick up not expecting to like them, then verifying that I don’t like them, then giving them away (*cough*BlueBloods*cough cough ahem*). Soulless isn’t one of them.

I was already pretty sure I was going to like Soulless. I mean, the series is called Parasol Protectorate–and I have to confess, “parasol” is one of those words you can put on practically anything and influence me in favor of that thing, along with “incognito”, “aubergine” and “crenellated”.

I think I saw E put it on her TBR shelf, so I got a gander at the cover. Thumbs up.

I clicked through to find this description:

Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire — and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London’s high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?

SOULLESS is a comedy of manners set in Victorian London: full of werewolves, vampires, dirigibles, and tea-drinking.

And do they have treacle tart?” Two thumbs up! Add treacle to the list of Alethea-sensitive words, thanks to Lewis Carroll for the early ingraining.

My GoodReads review (as this is threatening to turn into something that is not a Quickie anymore):

I blame Anna Paquin; I can’t enjoy this whole Southern Vampire revival.

What I can enjoy is this new stake-and-crumpets Victorian steampunk series: The Parasol Protectorate. It has all the bells and whistles of a Regency romance (parasols, cravats, and treacle tarts); the heavings and throbbings of a historical romance; the fangs, claws, and painful transformations of a paranormal fantasy (yes, complete with a transplanted Highland werewolf in London); and buckets and buckets of tea. Part Charlotte Bronte, part P.G. Wodehouse, a dollop of Joss Whedon and just a dash of your favorite bodice-ripping author–my current one would probably be Madeleine Hunter… what am I saying? My current favorite is *definitely* Gail Carriger! While you’re waiting for Changeless to hit the bookshop shelves, you can play dress up with Alexia.

This is just screaming to be made into a Katherine Kellgren audiobook.

I’d tell you more, but this is cutting into my precious reading time. And I think I might just read this one again…

Lament by Maggie Stiefvater

A girl with a bird she found in the snow
that flew up her gown, and that’s how she knows
that God made her eyes for crying at birth
then left the ground to circle the earth

~Iron & Wine, “Boy with a Coin

Could not get enough of this^ today, nor put down Maggie Stiefvater’s Lament: The Faerie Queen’s Deception. Click here for the quickie review at GoodReads; scroll down further for the full review.

Lament by Maggie StiefvaterLament by Maggie Stiefvater

Lament by Maggie Stiefvater

5

I’ve had some lukewarm encounters with faerie tales lately, to the point where I hesitated for ages to pick this one up. But then I read Shiver (brrr! so good!) and started Internet-stalking author Maggie Stiefvater (kidding). Then a friend of mine lent me Lament and I pretty much swooned with the heat.

Wow. That was a lot of links. Be fair warned: I use lots of ( )s and !s when I’m excited. And I’m really excited about this book.

If you enjoy faerie lore, love triangles (squares? trapezoids?), and folk songs, you’ll love Lament. What starts out like most other YA novels (girl hurls chunks, boy holds her hair, and then they make beautiful music together) with a common mythology thrown in (faeries try to steal away a pretty, special little human girl) adds up to a fine romance, fit for a Faerie Queen. Deirdre’s story appears interspersed with and influenced by folk songs, and you know what that means: love burns brightly, then is drowned, or murdered, or sacrificed; the lovers may die, but their love lives on and on.

Strong protagonists anchor Stiefvater’s debut novel: Deirdre, the music geek with mad skills but little self-confidence; Luke, the mysterious stranger with the kind demeanor and hot bod; and James, the quirky childhood-best-friend who has watched Dee grow into the desirable young woman she is at the start of the story… unfortunately, he’s not the only one who has been watching her: They have been watching her from birth–and They are showing themselves to her, showering her with clovers, cloying her with Their scent.

Readers will appreciate the freshness and believability Stiefvater injects into such a popular and fantastic premise. I especially enjoy her sense of humor and willingness to not take her story too seriously. Read this if you love to contemplate youth and beauty, duty and tragedy, music and poetry. And don’t miss the sequel, Ballad: The gathering of Faerie, due out October 1st.

Be sure to check out Maggie’s website, blog, and YouTube channel–this last one is particularly awesome as she often designs and performs her own book trailers. I love “Still Werewolf Watching”, and any accounts of the adventures of Maggie’s children, Thing 1 and Thing 2. (For anyone who, like me, did not grow up with Dr. Seuss, the codenames refer to characters in the book The Cat in the Hat.)

Sea Glass by Maria V. Snyder

Sea Glass - Maria V. SnyderMaria V. Snyder

5

Most of you probably know I’m biased–I *love* Maria V. Snyder. Poison Study was the one that got me hooked on her books. So take my review with a grain of salt–it is completely and utterly biased in favor of Sea Glass. ^_^ I’m happy to admit it.

Synopsis: Opal is a glassmaker by trade. Her family runs a glass factory in Booruby, and so far she is the only magician able to make glass messengers that allow magic users to communicate across long distances. This and one other magical ability (for spoiling’s sake, I’ll let you find out on your own) are all the magic abilities she possesses; while unique, her ego tends to suffer horribly when almost all the students she attends The Keep with are able to master a wider range of skills. Opal’s lack of confidence often trips her up, and she ends up making decisions she almost always regrets.

Review and Spoiler Warning: I don’t recommend reading this book unless you’ve read and understood Storm Glass at the very least–there’s so much mythology and world-building that a new reader can get quite lost, between international politics, magic rules (some of which Opal is just now discovering herself), and Opal’s three potential suitors (some of whom are not the greatest specimens of humanity). Better yet, start from the beginning with Poison Study. So, yeah, *spoilers ahoy*. (That means if you haven’t read them yet, go get them and read before you scroll down. Go! Go!)

Sea Glass picks up almost exactly where Storm Glass left off. Opal is being summoned back to the Citadel to meet with the Council, but her prisoner Devlen (in Ulrick’s body) has other plans. Supposedly reformed, he claims he’s trying to help her–but can she really trust a Blood Magician who has taken over someone else’s body, pretended to be her boyfriend, and whose first encounters with her involved torturing her 14-year-old self into trapping her friend Yelena and almost cost the life of Sitia’s savior? Still, Devlen seems to have her back whenever Opal runs into betrayal after betrayal–so many that she doesn’t know who to believe any more, so many that she can barely trust her own judgement.

Opal not only has to contend with the Ulrick/Devlen soul-switching debacle, she has to win back the Council’s trust as her few but unique gifts mark her as a possible danger to the state, train the new glassmakers for the Stormdance clan before the weather turns wild, and figure out where she and her particular set of talents stand where Sitia is concerned (the Master Magicians and the Council having heretofore made all her decisions for her). To top that off, her romance with Kade heats up, only to arouse the ire of certain members in his clan who claim they’re just looking out for posterity: Stormdancer Powers + Glass Magic = Some crazy magic nobody’s ever heard of before, and the current scarcity of Stormdancers supports their claim on his, erm, progeny.

I loved this book. If you enjoy complex plots, spies, and double-crosses, you will too.

I give it 5 out of 5 stars:

+ 1 star for intricate complexity (I almost broke out the color-coded Post-It flags to track who seemed trustworthy and who didn’t)

+ 1 star for an unexpected twist at the end (there are several twists, but I am referring to the last and most crucial decision Opal makes)

+ 1 star for bringing back Janco and having me as a character (see, I told you–I’m biased!)

– 1 for being hard to follow at times (If you couldn’t keep track of the double-crossing and back-stabbing in Fire Study, this will leave you blue with confusion. I love that kind of thing, but the average reader might not.)

The sequel and final installment of the series, Spy Glass, is due out in Fall 2010. Maria V. Snyder’s new Young Adult sci-fi series also debuts in 2010 with Inside Out.