Titan Series, #1

Author: Renee Field

Category: Paranormal Romance

As I follow the changes in publishing, I’m making more of an effort discover and read independent/hybrid authors. I want to explore the freedom of independent publishing, look at the business of being an author/publisher (or self-pubbed, though that phrase still carries an unsavory connotation to most writers). Plus, I want new stuff to read.

Normally, I prefer fantasy and sci-fi, adult or YA. But since I’m venturing into the romance arena with my group series, Perfect Coven, I thought I’d be more adventurous in my choices and try to read some independent romances.

I picked Rapture for three reasons:

  • the price was right (free);
  • it’s the first in a series. If I like(d) it, there are more to read; and
  • It’s about mermaids. Who doesn’t love mermaids?

I really love mermaids. So, first thing – not enough mermaid lore! The world building was sketchy; there really is no explanation of how this world is supposed to work. There are mardoms – kingdoms – and our hero is, of course, a prince. But the divisions are never explained, nor why the mardoms are divided they way they are. The magic has no rules. Our heroine just keeps discovering new stuff she can do. We don’t know if other sirens (the term for mermaids) can do these things or if Our Heroine is just special.

Oversexed – yes, this is a romance, but really? The only things sirens are good for (or at) is sex. They all grow super-large breasts and long, long hair – that’s part of the siren magic, but we really don’t know why they need the long hair and super-sized breasts, because they don’t seem to be good for anything except to drive the titans (the mermen) insane. And the titans are slaves to their hormones. They’ll have sex in the middle of a fight, and I don’t mean a domestic dispute, I mean a battle with other titans. In fact, our hero and heroine do that once. Or maybe twice. The sex scenes kind of ran together.

Of course, the over-smexing is explained away by Sokhan, meaning destined lovers or some such. Yeah, they see each other and have no choice but that one person and being near that one person brings on the hormone attacks. Anywhere. Anytime. Even in labor. We want Our Hero and Our Heroine to have sex, of course we do, but we need a reason other than Supernatural Bonding life-soul-mate thingy says we MUST DO IT NOW. And now. And one more time. Proper time, place and reason be damned, this is SUPERNATURAL URGE THAT MUST BE FULFILLED!

The conflict in this one is resolved easily, too easily really. Not a lot of impediments to Our Hero and Our Heroine getting to the good stuff, which, as I said, can occur during a firefight or labor. Titan/Siren hormones must also be super-sized.

On to technical issues I had with this book.

First, Our Heroine begins having impure thoughts about Our Hero immediately. Which, hey, he’s super-duper sexy-hot, so why not? But we were told that Our Heroine is a science-minded, practical, focused type who wants to get her Ph.D. In fact, she spends a lot of her time wanting to work on her thesis. When she’s not hormonal. But she’s ruled by her hormones. Perhaps this is a siren thing, but it isn’t adequately explained as such.

The Ph.D. issue kind of goes away when she “raptures” (turns into a siren) and sexes up Our Hero the first time. Hence my theory that siren hormones are super-sized and siren magic is all sex-based. Which would actually fit with a lot of mermaid mythos, if handled correctly, as in, there needed to be a mythos.

The writing was choppy. The story didn’t flow as it should have. Changes in attitude occurred at a page turn, with little reason for the about-face. Conflicts were resolved easily, and occasionally off-camera. Also, editing. It needed more.

Our Hero and Our Heroine are standard tropes, used in standard ways, and uninteresting. Our Hero is an exiled prince, Our Heroine is a princess who has been raised in obscurity away from the sea and doesn’t know who or what she is.

Though I think the basic idea is interesting, there are problems with this book. There needs to be better world-building, an actual structure. There needs to be a magic system, talents and abilities, and one impacting the other, with a structure as to which applies where. That structure needs to be consistent. Conflicts need to actually impact the characters, cause them to make decisions that lead to actual story not just sex.


Fury of the Seventh Son

Final Book of The Last Apprentice Series 

Author: Joseph Delaney

Category: YA Fantasy

This is the thirteenth book in the series that follows young Tom Ward, a seventh son of a seventh son, through his apprenticeship with the County Spook, a man that deals with agents of the Dark, such as boggarts, ghosts, witches and the Fiend. During the course of his training, Tom has learned about his calling and about himself, made mistakes, made enemies, battled the Fiend, and fallen in love with a young witch named Alice Deane.

I loved this series from the first book. The enemies Tom fought alongside Old Gregory the Spook were interesting and frightening enough, though probably more scary for a younger reader than myself. The overall story arc, the battle with the Fiend, was years in the making. Like all wars, battles were lost and battles were won; Tom had to question himself and learn to make difficult choices, often going against his master and mentor, Old Gregory. Tom will be a more flexible and dangerous Spook than Old Gregory, but Tom will walk a narrower line and be in more danger of losing himself to the Dark.

I made a mistake before reading this book. I’d read the other twelve and was eager for this one, to see how the last battle between Tom, Old Gregory, their uneasy allies and the Fiend and his minions would play out. While waiting, I went to Amazon and read the reviews. I was shocked that an author that had usually been given four or five stars for his books was receiving one-star reviews. The reviewers were disappointed; mostly, it seems, in the turn the Tom/Alice romance took.

Alice, the young witch, has had to fight herself for the entire series. She is a strong and powerful witch, and is drawn to the Dark. She had been fighting that pull, somewhat for herself, but mostly for Tom. And then she leaves him – with a Dear John letter.

Talk about a plot twist!

In order to kill the Fiend, Tom had been planning to sacrifice the person he loved most – Alice. She was willing, but understandably reluctant, if another way could be found. She decided to enact a dark ritual she’d found in a grimoire, a ritual that would kill the Fiend and save her from death. Instead, she called up a dark mage (Lukrasta), an older, powerful man, who fascinated her, and who didn’t intend to kill her. So she chose him over Tom.

And the readers hated it.

I was horrified, but I had to finish the series; so I bought the book. And I read it. And I wasn’t horrified or disappointed. I think Alice does love Tom. I also remember (1) Alice sees ahead; she takes the long view, while Tom only sees the next step before him; (2) Alice goes out of her way on several occasions to save Tom; she even tells him certain information; there’s a subtext there, showing that Alice has reasons for what she’s doing, reasons that have to do with the fallout from destroying the Fiend. But Tom doesn’t hear the subtext; and (3) Tom’s mother, Zenobia the Lamia Witch, gave him a prophecy about Alice – that she would love him, she would betray him, and that ultimately, she would die for him. Alice obviously loves him. She’s betrayed him by choosing Lukrasta over Tom. But at the end of Fury of the Seventh Son, Alice is alive and well, though playing a dangerous game with the mage.

There is more to come. In the end, I think Alice will choose Tom, and she will pay the price and fulfill the prophecy. I’m looking forward to the new trilogy.

Pretty in Pink Through Older Eyes

This was originally posted to Tumblr, but that is the wrong forum. So, since I started this blog for miscellaneous ramblings, I think here is where this post belongs.

So —

I watched Pretty in Pink with Der Mann last night. He’d never seen it and it was his night to choose a movie, and this was his choice.

Um, yeah. It’s an entirely different movie when seen through 46-year-old eyes.

Most of my issues are with the main character, Andi (Molly Ringwald); she says she values honesty above all things, yet she is never honest with Duckie (Jon Cryer’s character). He is so painfully, obviously in love with her, and she counts on that. Duckie will always be there, so she can do whatever she wants, because her back-up plan is solidly in place. She never tells him she doesn’t love him the way he loves her; she never tells him she’s sorry for treating him like, well, like her back-up plan. In fact, Andrew Dice Clay’s character said, “She keeps coming to this club, knowing you can’t get in. Why would she do that?” Andi does, and never apologizes for it. She does what she pleases, because she knows he’ll be outside, waiting, when she decides she has time for him. Andi never appreciates or acknowledges the fact that Duckie doesn’t tell her, “I told you so,” when Blaine dumps her before prom. In fact, Duckie comes through for her one last time, showing up to be her date at prom so she doesn’t have to walk in there alone*, and she dumps him again, for the same guy that will just leave her (again) in three months to go off to a college she can’t hope to attend. Duckie is supposedly her best friend, but he’s disposable to her, as are most people that she sees as holding her back (which is pretty much everyone).

Andi wants to be one of the rich kids. She spends most of the movie sucking up to them, desperate to be part of their set. When seen as a teenager, the school scenes look like Andi trying to be the bigger person, not stooping to be petty like the rich girls. Seen as an older person, it looks like what it is; an attempt to climb the social ladder by showing that she’ll take their abuse, even participate in her own humiliation, for even a pretense of acceptance.

The love interest, Blaine (Andrew McCarthy’s character); so weak, so spoiled, and so dumb. Steff (James Spader’s character) nailed it when he told Blaine that he just wanted to feel a little rebellious by messing around with someone from “there” and that it wouldn’t last. Blaine doesn’t realize it, but Steff is right. Blaine is led by Steff, by all his friends; he doesn’t see how shallow they are, how shallow he is, until the end. Even then, he won’t stand up and be with Andi to be with Andi. They leave so that no one will have to see them together and Blaine won’t have to stand up and proclaim his choice. And is it really a choice, when it’s going to be three months – the summer – at most? Then he’ll go to an Ivy League school, leaving Andi to go wherever her scholarship will take her, and it won’t be Harvard.

Andi’s father (Harry Dean Stanton’s character); the man is clinically depressed. To be fair, in the 80s, we were only beginning to understand the facts of clinical depression. However, it’s obvious in the movie that Andi’s father doesn’t need her whining and railing at him, because she thinks he should be rich so she can fit in where she desperately wants to, with Blaine and his friends. No, he needs help, and she’s too self-absorbed to care. She just blames him for not being rich enough to put her where she wants to be.

Duckie is probably the only character I still like, as an older viewer. He is Duckie, and doesn’t apologize for it, though he should have told Andi to jump off a cliff far sooner than he did. And she should have chosen Duckie at the end, not Blaine.

My verdict: the movie still resonates, though in a much different way, so it holds up. Also, the soundtrack is still amazing.

*I’ve always wondered if it was Andi’s father or Iona (the record store owner) that called Duckie and told him Andi was going to prom alone, so he could be there to meet her. What do you think?

Once More Into the Breach!

Okay, trying a new thing (again). I have a Tumblr, but that is supposed to be about art and writing projects, exclusively. I also have a jointly-owned blog, Perfect Coven, which is tied to and is mostly about the shared-world, paranormal romance book series I’m working on with a couple of other authors. So, this blog is just for me to ramble in, post the things that occur to me at 3:00 a.m. when I really should be sleeping and I’m not.

2014 – a year in flux, all about change. Let’s start changing.