Monthly Archives: July 2015

Fire on the Mountain by Jennifer Lawrence

For those not in the know, currently my dog is coming back from some wicked intestinal wretchedness. He is weak, he is unwell, and he is basically on bed rest. He’s also amazing, and in order for me to keep him in bed I have to stay with him, because he thinks I’m amazing, and wants to be with me all the time. To that end, I’m staying in bed with him and reading. Sometimes out loud, to him, because he likes it.

One of the books we read was Jennifer Lawrence’s Fire on the Mountain. I’ve wanted this book since she released it, and I was hoping to get a Kindle edition at some point because acquiring physical books in our limited space is something I try not to do if I can help it. I’m not going to criticize her for not having this out in e-reader friendly formats, because I’ve got my book out in a limited range and that’d be too much like the pot calling the kettle black. I do wish she had Nook and Kindle books available, if only to make getting the books more instantly gratifying for people.

From the blurb: Damiana Gray is bitter – and who wouldn’t be? A folk musician with three popular CDs, a loyal fanbase, a husband and three young daughters, her world was shattered the night her husband was involved in a fatal DUI while she and her children were in the vehicle. But when she finds an unconscious and wounded Fae warrior on her front porch one stormy winter night, she’s forced to use her knowledge to save his life from his brother. Having become familiar with all the old Celtic ballads about the Fae during her musical career, she’s the perfect person for the job. But the accident has left her disfigured, and her vocal cords so damaged that she can no longer sing. Her knowledge means nothing if she’s not the bard she needs to be to save her life and the life of her friends.

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I’ve known about Lawrence’s work for a while, though I’ve only just now gotten around to reading Fire on the Mountain. (I say ‘gotten around to reading it’ but I only bought my copy last week, so it’s not like it was sitting here, wasting away.)

One of the best things about this book was: there was absolutely no ‘new to me author’ break in period — you know the kind you sometimes get when getting accustomed to a newer writer’s voice? I slipped into this story with the ease and familiarity of slipping into the world of a best beloved author. Damiana’s story is tragic, and getting to know her is heartbreaking. She’s lost everything and she is mired still in the thick grief that has become her life. The portrayal of her dealing with chronic pain is extremely realistic, and it was refreshing to see a main character start off on a quest despite limited ability.

This is not a happy, feel-good book. While the familiar trappings of quest motif are clear in this fairy tale, this is gritty and dark and sometimes harsh. There are ups, glorious ups, and there are downs. This is a story that takes life as it comes, and it’s the story of a woman  who has lost everything, only to learn that she still has more to lose, and thus more to fight for, than she realized.

I loved this book, and I cannot wait to read more of Lawrence’s fiction. Fans of Mark Chadborne, Neil Gaiman, Patricia McKillip, and Emma Bull may enjoy this book. Anyone who enjoys first contact stories, the traveling from earth to the otherworlds, mythology or fairy tales in general will enjoy this book. And by enjoy I mean having it play with your heart mercilessly.

You want to buy this book.

Truthseeker by C.E. Murphy — a review

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One of the very first books I bought for my Kindle was C.E. Murphy’s Urban Shaman book. It looked interesting enough, and a coworker was reading another of Murphy’s series at the time, and I love first contact stories. I finished the last book in the Walker Papers a few months ago (waaaaaaah!) and I put off reading more of her books because I like knowing there is still a nice stack waiting for me.

Waited as long as I could. Finally took this one out from the library.

Gifted with an uncanny intuition, Lara Jansen nonetheless thinks there is nothing particularly special about her. All that changes when a handsome but mysterious man enters her quiet Boston tailor shop and reveals himself to be a prince of Faerie. What’s more, Dafydd ap Caerwyn claims that Lara is a truthseeker, a person with the rare talent of being able to tell truth from falsehood. Dafydd begs Lara to help solve his brother’s murder, of which Dafydd himself is the only suspect.

Acting against her practical nature, Lara agrees to step through a window into another world. Caught between bitterly opposed Seelie forces and Dafydd’s secrets, which are as perilous as he is irresistible, Lara finds that her abilities are increasing in unexpected and uncontrollable ways. With the fate of two worlds at stake and a malevolent entity wielding the darkest of magic, Lara and Dafydd will risk everything on a love that may be their salvation—or the most treacherous illusion of all.

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This book, and it’s follow-up, reminded me that for all that I talk about how I don’t like books that feature elves and/or fairies, I actually do. The sudden intrusion of the supernatural into a seemingly mundane world will always be my favorite set-up — and I’m enjoying that it’s such a popular set up right now.

Lara is used to her annoying little quirk, and so is her best friend Kelly — but whereas Lara has allowed her truth-detected curse to guide her to the background of life and nurtured a desire to be unnoticed, Kelly wants great things for her best friend. Or, a least, good things.

Or, at least, a good date. Which is how Lara comes to Daffyd — pardon me, David’s — attention, in the first place.

Even knowing that Lara is not quite ‘normal’, Lara and her world are normal enough, until Daffyd reveals his true nature and changes everything.

This series is the second series I’ve read in which the author sets things both earthside and in some otherworld, yet this otherworld of Daffyd’s is fresh and new and different. The characters are engaging, and we quickly come to care about the fate of both worlds. I had high expectations going into this book, and Murphy did not disappoint!

Fans of Mark Chadborne, Partricia Briggs, Seanan McGuire, and Richelle Mead might enjoy C.E Murphy’s work.

July’s installment has gone out!

(or: two things I forget about — updating this blog and paying attention to my public FB page.)

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For those of you who are signed up for the Story Subscription, chapter 7 of A Marriage of Land and Sea has been sent out. I’m roughly two chapters ahead of you in the writing, and I can say that it’s looking to be about 12 chapters long, so it should wrap up in December. I hadn’t planned on that — in fact, I thought it was going to be longer — but I am not a long novel writer, I am a short novel writer *insert short jokes here* and 12 chapters looks like it’s going to be just about right. *cue ominous music?*

I still have getting a Patreon account set up, so that I can move away from Paypal, largely so that you have the option of setting up recurring payments rather than having to remember that this is a thing you want to support. Anything that makes life easier is a good thing! Honestly, the setting up of an account intimidates me and conjures up all sorts of “aack, I’m pulling wool over eyes!” as if your enjoyment of my writing is some great scam I’ve tricked you all into. Silly, silly Jo. I’m hoping to tackle that particular project by August. Fingers crossed!