Category Archives: not-so-book-like procrastination

Authors in Real Life!

This past Friday, I had the privilege to see one of my favorite authors, Kevin Hearne, along with Chuck Wendig and Fran Wilde in a Q&A and autograph session at the Philly library. It was awesome!!

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From left, Fran Wilde, Chuck Wendig, and Kevin Hearne. The lovely lady on the right is the Sci-Fi/Fantasy librarian and led the Q&A. 

updraft wilde cover

The beautiful Fran Wilde and the cover image for Updraft!

This was my first time meeting authors in person, and it was pretty freaking cool. I went specifically to meet Kevin Hearne, but instantly discovered Fran and Chuck are also hilarious and fabulous and their books have been added to my lengthy To-Read list as well. For those who do not know, Fran Wilde writes the Bone Universe trilogy, including Updraft, Cloudbound (just released) and Horizon (releases later this year…September? I can’t remember. They mentioned so many book release dates…). I haven’t read them yet, but Kevin Hearne described them by saying, “They are great books and you are happily reading them and then all of the sudden you need new pants.” Unfortunately, my local libraries don’t have these so I will have to wait to get them through Inter-Library Loan, but as soon as I read them I will review them!

blackbirds wendig coverChuck Wendig is also a hilarious human who has written a ton of books. I knew he wrote in the Star Wars universe, but he also mentioned the Miriam Black series, about a psychic who sees your death when she touches you. THAT sounds like an AWESOME concept. The first book, Blackbirds, is pictured to the right. I assured him I would be reading it ASAP. His Star Wars: Aftermath series (if I am understanding timelines correctly) occurs between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, and is part of the new canon. This isn’t at the top of my reading list, but I am intrigued so I will be checking it out at some point. Like a good little nerd, I do love me some Star Wars.

plague of giants hearne coverAt the signing, I purchased Kevin Hearne’s new book Besieged, a collection of short stories from the Iron Druid Chronicles. Obviously I am going to have to go back and re-read the entire series, with the new short stories in the correct order. I already adore Atticus, Oberon, and the rest of the characters from the Iron Druid Chronicles, but I am very excited for Kevin’s new book Plague of Giants, releasing hopefully in October. Totally new universe, completely different sort of fantasy story (from Iron Druid), and 11 different POVs throughout the novel. I’m stoked. I own the Iron Druid Chronicles books, so I may just pre-order Plague of Giants. If I don’t love it (which I suspect is pretty unlikely) I can always donate it to my library. Kevin also mentioned a new book series he is writing with Delilah S. Dawson. I have not read her work, but intend to now. The new series, which begins with a book called Kill the Farm Boy, is a satiric take on formulas and tropes found in, you know, every fantasy book ever. And I need it. Immediately. I believe Kevin said it comes out in November.

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Look!! I met Kevin Hearne!!

In addition to finding out about what they write, I learned some cool things from these authors, like they did a lot of (sometimes crappy) jobs before they achieved writing success. They also talked about their writing process, and how everyone is different and, as a writer, you need to figure out what works for you – and if what you are doing isn’t working, don’t be afraid to change it. Which, when you think about it, is kinda a good rule for life as well. Anyway, I found it inspirational and it makes me want to get off my couch and write more, and hearing “regular” people talk about what they did really helped. If you get a chance to go meet authors, do it!

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Go see THOR: The Dark World

I just got back from seeing Thor: The Dark World with my fiance and I have to say, it was way better than I expected. I’ve never read a comic book in my life, so I don’t have the same sort of attachment comic lovers have to these movies, but regardless, I am totally addicted to them, and I’ll watch however many super hero movies Marvel wants to make for as long as they make them. This one was particularly good.

Thor-2-Movie

5,000 years ago, during the last Convergence when all the worlds aligned, Odin’s father  defeated the dark elf Maliketh and locked up his terrible, world-destroying weapon the Aether. Another Convergence is upon us, which wakes up the Aether and Maliketh, who immediately wants vengeance on Asgard and it’s inhabitants. The Aether manages to get inside Jane Foster, Thor’s girlfriend, so he rushes off to Earth to save her and brings her back to Asgard. This prompts Maliketh to attack Asgard to regain the Aether, and the only one who can help Thor and Jane escape and ultimately save the day is Loki, who Thor must trust if he wants to keep Jane alive and Asgard intact.

thor movie poster 2

You can sort of see the aforementioned snazzy outfit here.

I liked this movie because it was more about Thor and Loki, not Thor and his love interest Jane (which is not to say I don’t love Natalie Portman. She’s freaking awesome). The dynamic between those two characters was excellent, and often hilarious. There were actually several humorous moments in this movie, and we didn’t see even half of them in the previews. We even get to see Loki behaving “not-bad” which was cool and very different from what we’re used to. I almost started to like him in this movie. The villain was evil and believable and the action was great, as always. We saw Jane in some snazzy Asgardian outfits, which I really want to steal for myself. And there was a completely gratuitous scene that featured Chris Hemsworth with no shirt. It had no point whatsoever.

chris-hemsworth-shirtless

Much like this picture.

There were a few moments of weirdness. Jane Foster threw out some random science words that didn’t make any sense. She wasn’t as prominent in this movie was she was in the first. It was like they got to the end of the movie, and thought they hadn’t made her sound smart enough, so they gave her some bigs words to say. And S.H.I.E.L.D. and the rest of the Avengers were nowhere to be found (busy solving another potentially world-ending crisis perhaps?) But none of that was annoying enough to make the whole movie bad. Overall, it was a great movie. I loved it. Go check it out!

-Branwen

Heat Wave by Richard Castle

This blog post is alternately titled: Reasons why Nathan Fillion is FREAKING AWESOME.

heat wave coverHeat Wave is a fictional book written by a fictional character from a fictional TV show. If you aren’t a fan of the TV show Castle, well, first of all you should go watch it immediately. And also, you probably won’t be particularly impressed by this book. But that’s not the point. The point is, you can actually go buy and read the books TV star Richard Castle, played by the amazingly talented Nathan Fillion, is always talking about on the show Castle!! How cool is that? Are they written by Nathan Fillion? No. In fact, the true author is a closely guarded secret. But they’re fun all the same, and they read exactly like an episode of the show.

There’s nothing I can say to convince you to read this book if you don’t watch Castle. So instead I’m going to convince you to watch Castle, one of the best shows currently on TV. Castle is about famous crime novelist Richard Castle (played by the charming, funny, and ruggedly handsome Nathan Fillion) who meets detective Kate Beckett (played by the talented Stana Kanic) when someone starts murdering people the same way Castle murdered people in his books. Castle forces himself into Detective Beckett’s life and helps her solve the crime. Deciding this was more fun that he thought he could have surrounded by dead bodies, Castle gets permission from his friend the mayor to follow Detective Beckett around and learn more about her and her grisly job. And drive Beckett crazy while he’s at it. She becomes his muse for his next book series about Nikki Heat, a sexy New York City homicide detective.

castle and beckett

One of the (many) things that makes this show so much fun to watch is the banter, confusing emotions, and sexual tension between Castle and Beckett. I’m just dying to see them get together. (Note: I jumped on the Castle bandwagon a bit late, and have been catching up via Netflix. I am only halfway through season 3. No spoilers please!) seamus deverThe supporting cast is excellent as well, particularly Detectives Esposito and Ryan. It’s worth mentioning that Detective Ryan is played by Seamus Dever who has some of the prettiest blue Irish eyes I’ve ever seen. *dreamy sigh*

Another thing I love about this show is Castle’s teenage daughter Alexis, and actress-mother Martha who lives with them. I am certain if she was a real person, Alexis is someone I would be friends with. castle and alexis(And actually, I really missed Alexis and Martha in the book. It was almost exactly like an episode of the TV show, except they were missing, which was a bummer). The relationships and action between all these different characters is what really makes Castle fun to watch.

Alright, more about Nathan Fillion and his awesome-ness in a later post. I guess I should go back to reading now…

Happy Castle-watching,

-Branwen

New Books for 2013!

hunted kevin hearne coverIn no particular order, here are some books releasing in 2013 that I’m really excited about!

Hunted (The Iron Druid Chronicles #6) by Kevin Hearne – The cover for this book was just recently revealed and it looks spectacular (as always). Waiting until June 25th for this book is going to feel like forever.

frost burns patricia briggs cover

Frost Burned (Mercedes Thompson #7) by Patricia Briggs – I’m usually not a huge fan of covers that show what leading characters look like. Not so for Patricia Briggs’s Mercedes Thompson books (and Kevin Hearne’s books as well, for that matter). I just love the way Mercy looks on these book covers, with her fierce look, Native American heritage, and beautifully drawn tattoos.

I couldn’t find cover images for every book on this list (some of them have not been released yet) but here are the titles anyway. I hope you are as excited for these books as I am!

Magic Rises (Kate Daniels #6) by Ilona Andrews

Ever After (The Hollows, #11) by Kim Harrison

Burned (Dani O’ Malley #2) by Karen Marie Moning

The next book (still untitled) in the Divergent series by Veronica Roth

Through the Ever Night (Under the Never Sky #2) by Veronica Rossi

Happy New Year!

-Branwen

Favorite reads of 2012

These books were not necessarily published in 2012, but I read them this year, and they were the best of the best! In no particular order (because picking an absolute favorite for a whole year is just way too much to ask) here are my favorite reads from 2012:

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor daughter of smoke and bone (cover)

This was one of those books I picked up because the cover was gorgeous. It was a great choice!

Insurgent (cover)Divergent and Insurgent (Divergent, books one and two) by Veronica Roth

Couldn’t choose which of these books I liked better, so they both make the list. The sequel to Insurgent is one I am really looking forward to in 2013!

Trapped by Kevin Hearnetrapped cover

Not the only Iron Druid Chronicles book to come out in 2012, but I liked this one better than Tricked. Not by much, I mean, I love anything with Atticus and Oberon in it, but this one featured way more Granuaile than the other four novels, so this one makes the list.

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier (cover)Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

Time travel. Conspiracy. Secrets. Romance. What’s not to like?

morrigan's cross cover

 

Morrigan’s Cross (book one), Dance of the Gods (book two) and Valley of Silence (book three). These books make up the Circle Trilogy by Nora Roberts – all three books were fantastic, I couldn’t pick just one for my list.

name of the wind coverThe Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

This book was a bit of an epic read, took awhile to finish. But I loved it. Haven’t gotten my hands on the sequel yet, but I’m looking forward to it!

Fair Game by Patricia Briggsfair game cover

Honestly, Patricia Briggs is an author that can do no wrong as far as I am concerned. I love the Mercy Thompson series, and Fair Game is an Alpha and Omega novel set in the same world. No one writes werewolves like Briggs, and no one writes them better.

the rook coverThe Rook by Daniel O’Malley

I read this book after Kevin Hearne recommended it on his blog. I’m really glad he did. I’m not sure any book ever has left me wanting a sequel as much as this one. (OK, that’s probably not entirely true. I’m sure there are a few Robin McKinley books that fit the bill, but this is the most recent book that has left me dying for a sequel that will probably never come.) I hope to eventually re-read this book and write a complete review. At some point. When the pile next to the bed goes down a bit, haha.

spectyr coverGeist and Spectyr (Book of the Order, books one and two) by Philippa Ballantine. These were also both too good to pick one for the list.

magic slays coverMagic Slays by Ilona Andrews

Much like Patricia Briggs, Ilona Andrews can do no wrong, and cannot write books in this series fast enough to satisfy me. More Kate and Curran please!

bossypants coverBossypants by Tina Fey – not fantasy, but who doesn’t love Tina Fey?

Can’t wait to read and review more fantastic books in 2013! Have a great New Year’s everyone, and keep reading!

-Branwen

The Hobbit Movie!!

Far over the Misty Mountains cold
To dungeons deep and caverns old
The pines were roaring on the height
The winds were moaning in the night
The fire was red, it flaming spread
The trees like torches blazed with light.

As promised, here are my thoughts on the new Hobbit movie. This isn’t really a movie review, and it’s obviously not a book review, but I wanted to share my thoughts all the same.

If you were being kind, you would call my boyfriend and myself Tolkien “fanatics” so we were off to see The Hobbit almost as soon as it hit theatres and we had HIGH expectations. We are the kind of fanatics who have read all the books (including the Simarillion…well, OK, most of the Simarillion, it does get a little slow in places) and we play LOTRO too. So yeah…fanatics is a safe description. That being said, let me tell you, The Hobbit was FREAKING FANTASTIC. We loved every minute of it, enough that we are considering paying the ridiculous movie ticket prices a second time and seeing it again.

Firstly, to answer some critics: Was it long? Yeah, it was. Boyfriend got up to pee like five times (hehe, don’t hate me boyfriend!) But tiny bladders aside, it didn’t feel long. The action and dialogue were well-spaced out and it felt like the movie kept moving forward. Did it follow the book? I’ll admit I haven’t read the book in several years, but from what boyfriend and I remembered we thought it followed the book very well. The part with the trolls was near perfect from what we could remember, as well as the scene with Gollum under the goblin caves. The “pit stop” in Imladris, which we know as Rivendell, was beautiful as always. The map-in-the-moonlight scene was so cool! I also thought it was super cool that the producers got the original Elrond, Galadriel, Sauroman, and Gandalf actors back. I mean, let’s be honest, NO ONE but Sir Ian McKellan could plan a convincing Gandalf, and I don’t think anyone else could play Elrond or Galadriel either. Speaking of Galadriel, I really envied the dress she was wearing in Rivendell. Check it out ladies, it was stunning! Elijah Wood as Frodo had an appearance at the beginning of the movie as well. I’m waiting to see if Aragorn and Gimli appear in the next movies (we already know Orlando Bloom is playing Legolas again, we just don’t know when we will see him; boyfriend and I speculate somewhere in Mirkwood, as Legolas is the son of Thranduil, king of the Woodland Realm of Northern Mirkwood).

Other things we enjoyed (besides everything): Going into the movie, I was worried about the large number of dwarves and keeping them straight. Turned out this was not a problem. Every dwarf had a unique personality and they all looked different enough that remembering who was who was no problem at all. And when they sang! Goodness, my heart broke. Learning more of the history of the dwarves was fabulous as well. Also, Martin Freeman made a superb Bilbo Baggins. I already liked Martin Freeman from seeing him in Sherlock. (Brief aside: Sherlock is a British TV drama which you can watch on Netflix based on Sherlock Holmes in modern times. Martin Freeman plays Dr. Watson, and the show is hilarious. Check it out!) Anyway, he was great. The graphics and scenery were great. There were some scenes I could tell would be gorgeous in 3D (we saw the film in 2D, as 3D gives me migraines). The worst part about this movie was that it ended. Naturally I cannot wait until the next two movies release.

So go see the Hobbit!

Happy movie-watching!

-Branwen

PS – The lyrics to “The Misty Mountains” that the dwarves sing at the beginning of the movie, and in one of the movie trailers (and that are printed at the top of the blog post), are actually taken from a much longer poem called “The Misty Mountains Cold” by (of course) J. R. R. Tolkien. You can find the complete poem online here and I would recommend checking it out. The complete poem is even more beautiful than the song.

Check this out…

My boyfriend sent this article to me, as he knows me and my love for fantasy/sci-fi literature well. It was a great read and got me thinking about publishing, and genres, and all the wonderful things that have been happening with fantasy recently. Soon, there will be a “version” of fantasy for everyone. For example, this article’s author writes:

Lastly, and taking a really close look at our genre, fantasy seems to be changing at the grass roots level too. With the technology, the expansion of the global market, the ease of reaching new readers, AND so many new authors, the boundaries that define fantasy are being pushed outwards.

High fantasy. Classic fantasy. Epic fantasy. Urban fantasy. Dark fantasy. Science fantasy. Contemporary fantasy. Military fantasy. Historical fantasy. Mythical fantasy. Gritty fantasy. Western fantasy. Sword and sorcery. Steampunk. Alternate history. Weird fiction. Fantasy romance. Speculative fiction, and countless hybrids, crossovers, monsters, and abominations. I think my Wikipedia just exploded.

http://fantasy-faction.com/2012/where-is-fantasy-headed

I hadn’t really thought about this explosion of genres before…well, at least until I started this blog and started trying to put the variety of books I read into categories (Ha!). But it’s great, I know I for one can never get enough fantasy reading, and I hope it doesn’t stop.

May harmony find you,

-Branwen