Fire and Bone by Rachel Marks

November 13, 2017 0

Unreliable Alum Rachel Marks does not disappoint with her latest book, Fire and Bone, a YA Urban Fantasy featuring Celtic mythology.

Way back in the beginning of our podcast, we were lucky enough to interview Rachel about the first book of her Dark Cycle trilogy Darkness Brutal. Fire and Bone kicks off Rachel’s The Otherborn series. Sage, the second born daughter of the Celtic goddess Brighid, finds herself suddenly in the world of the Celtic Penta and all that surround them. She also becomes involved in a centuries old tragedy, and it becomes difficult for Sage to sort out which life is present, which is past, and who her allies and enemies are in this new and strange world.

Marks presents us with some winning characters. Sage is vulnerable and lost, yet is solidly grounded and knows herself, sparing us some of the insecurities that have haunted YA heroines in years past. The romance between her and Faelin is compelling, but stays at a level which drives it forward in unrelenting tension. All the characters are dimensional and intriguing. It will come as no surprise to the people who know me I become a fan of the dark prince Kieran, and yes, I’m not giving away any spoilers at all here. Go read the book. You’ll get there.

At the same time Sage is thrust into the intrigue and politics of the Celtic gods, an undercurrent of a tragedy in the past presents as a mystery, and then as very relevant to the current day. The mystery of the past blends with the discovery of the present skillfully, and by the end of the book, both plots come together. The only real flaw of this book is that it ends, and we’ll have to wait for the next one for a while. Since I received an ARC, I have to wait longer than you will, so be grateful for that, at least.

Fire and Bone is available at Amazon from Skyscape in all the usual ways: Kindle, CreateSpace, and Audio. If UF, YA or Celtic is your jam, you should go pre-order.

Review: Continuum by Wendy Nikel

September 3, 2017 0

Like Wendy Nikel herself, I am a sucker for almost any time travel story, so Continuum was a good fit for me as a reader. Time travel as vacation meets the problem solving of Quantum Leap in a satisifying package.

The story begins in the past when Elise Morley retrieves a client who has forgotten herself and almost takes a voyage on the Titanic with her fiancee. Elise saves the client, but the rather inelegant Extraction causes fallout which ripples through the book. Meanwhile, it turns out that the travel agency where Elise works is not the only entity to have access to this technology, and a government agency has been sending people to the future. Elise is sent to retrieve a rogue agent.

While I wish we could have spent more time in the heads of a couple of the characters who were relevant to the past, I found the story that focused on the future well-paced and interesting I wanted just a bit more to explain what Allen was doing and why, although his ultimate motivation was a solid payoff. Chandler charmed me a great deal. And while Elise strikes me as world weary at first, she has a noble turn of character and a surprise plot twist which work pretty well.

Nikel is a solid writer with vivid description, an imaginative future, and a command of accurate historical speech. Check out that purse snatcher in 1912. Her characters manifest their time stream’s habits and inflections brilliantly, which is a real value add for this reader.

Nikel creates a rich world in which she could easily weave a tapestry of other time travel adventures.  While Elise seems like she ends up in a place from which she cannot return, well, it is time travel after all, and whose to say continuity has to be linear?

The Year of Living Authorly Post 12: The Future Comes Knocking

May 30, 2017 0

Recently, my agent asked me to send her some pitches for some new projects. This is another thing that is different for me as a publishing author–Strategic Planning.

Right now, I am still working diligently on the Klaereon sequel, and I plan to finish it by the end of the summer. There will be a short interlude for a short story, but then what next? This is the space where strategic planning comes in. By sending my agent, someone who is a marketplace specialist, several proposals for new projects, we can make an educated guess about which one of the projects might be smart to develop next.

The short summary, pitch, and query letter skills all come into play here, so some of the techniques I have already learned had quite a workout last week. I found that I enjoyed the process, as the Venn diagram overlap between creativity and organization is this very sweet spot. The technical writing masters also comes in handy here.

This is a sign post on the road that denotes working with your agent and strategically developing your next project is, in fact, a mark of writing as a career. Crossing into a writing career is a new piece of the overall puzzle, and I have been “careering,” so to speak, with editing, formatting, and planning book support, but this new piece speaks more to the future than any other piece has.

Let’s see what the future holds!

Unreliable Alumni on the 2016 Locus Recommended Reading List

February 5, 2017 0

Unreliable Alumni were well-represented on the 2016 Locus Recommended Reading List (and you better believe that both our TBR stacks and our TBI (to-be-interviewed) lists have grown!)

Congratulations, everyone!

Walter Jon Williams (Novels—Science FictionImpersonations: A Story of the Praxis)

Paul Cornell (Novels—FantasyWho Killed Sherlock Holmes?NovellasThe Lost Child of Lychford)

Richard Kadrey (Novels—FantasyThe Perdition Score)

Ken Liu (Novels—Fantasy: The Wall of StormsCollectionsThe Paper Menagerie and Other Stories; Anthologies—Reprints/Bests: Invisible Planets: Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation, editor/translator; Short Stories: “Dispatches from the Cradle: The Hermit – Forty-Eight Hours in the Sea of Massachusetts” (in Drowned Worlds); “Seven Birthdays” (in Bridging Infinity))

Fran Wilde (Novels—FantasyCloudboundNovelettes: “The Jewel and Her Lapidary“; Short Stories—”Only Their Shining Beauty Was Left“)

Stephen Graham Jones (Novels—HorrorMongrelsNovelettes: “Birdfather“; “The Night Cyclist“)

Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Novels—HorrorCertain Dark Things)

Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Novels—HorrorHEX)

Paul Tremblay (Novels—HorrorDisappearance at Devil’s Rock)

Yoon Ha Lee (coming soon) (First NovelsNinefox Gambit; Novelettes: “Foxfire, Foxfire“; Short Stories—”Shadow’s Weave”)