Marny Finally Gets A Feyguard Book

If you’ve been following my reviews of indie YA author Anthea Sharp’s Feyland and Feyguard books, you might remember this aside from my review of Royal:

Marny continues to be everything. I really hope she gets her own Feyguard book complete with a worthy love interest, because she’s one of my favorite things about this series. Although one of the best things about her is that she’s happy and confident without a boyfriend, I want to see someone love Marny as much as she loves herself.

Well, dreams do come true! Now that the holiday madness has died down, I am happy to bring you a review of the third Feyguard book, Marny. (Disclosure: Anthea sent me a free advance review copy, which I was not able to follow up on nearly as soon as I’d hoped.)

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Continue reading “Marny Finally Gets A Feyguard Book”

Olympus: Green Screen, Red Corn Syrup, And Blue Feet

Hey, did you know Syfy has a new drama set in mythological Greece? No? Me neither, until my parents texted me while they were watching WWE on Thursday night and said I’d probably like this Olympus show that’s coming on afterward. I’m glad they did, because I had a great time watching the pilot, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.

This post’s title is an accurate description of the show’s production value. (As an indie author, I know all too well how much people LOVE sinking money into weird Greek mythology adaptations.) It’s tempting to throw Olympus into the “so bad it’s good” category, where I lovingly store many of my favorites, but the female lead and the villainess make this show unironically fun to watch. olympus The Oracle of Gaia, played by Sonya Cassidy (whom BBC fans may recognize as Clara from The Paradise), has divine visions that don’t always come when she needs them to, so she’s learned to appease her petitioners by becoming a master of deduction. This, imo, should be the entire premise of the show. I have dubbed The Oracle #GreekSherlock. She’s resourceful, rational, dramatic, and prone to complicated schemes that can snowball into something way more complicated than she foresaw (damn uncontrollable visions).

And somehow, #GreekSherlock is not our designated hero. That role falls to our male lead known only as Hero – or Mercenary, or You There, or whatever the other characters decide to call him, since saying his name aloud will turn the speaker to stone. He has an intricate backstory that literally makes him the MacGuffin. He gets his feet painted blue for reasons that still aren’t entirely clear to me. He’s a valiant warrior who can kill people with rope. Ultimately, though, he’s there to be eye candy (a role newcomer Tom York fills quite well) while #GreekSherlock steals the show. So basically he’s a Moffat woman.

But the biggest show-stealer of them all is Olympus‘ Big Bad, Medea (played by Sonita Henry). She’s resourceful, rational, dramatic, and prone to complicated schemes that she’s usually completely on top of unless Fate throws her for a loop. As the evil personality counterpoint to #GreekSherlock, I have dubbed her #GreekMoriarty. (Except Hero is her ostensible nemesis, so I have no idea if she and #GreekSherlock will ever officially acknowledge each other.) Medea’s portrayal goes beyond pure camp, although there’s plenty of that. She comes across as clever, in control, and legitimately dangerous. And (SPOILER?) it looks like she has designs on goddesshood. I sort of want to see that.

I think there were a bunch of other people, too. But as far as I was concerned, it was all about #GreekSherlock and #GreekMoriarty.

So, anyway, if you’re looking for Game of Greek Thrones, you’re not going to find it here, but if you miss Xena and Hercules, you’ll have as much fun with Olympus as I did. Check it out on Syfy on Thursday nights at 10/9 Central, or stream full episodes here.

Unraveled (Thalia’s Musings 3) ebooks are here!

Unraveled (Thalia's Musings, Volume Three). Click to shop for Thalia's Musings ebooks!
Unraveled (Thalia’s Musings, Volume Three). Click to shop for Thalia’s Musings ebooks!

Unraveled is now available for Kindle and NOOK at an introductory price of $0.99! Like all Thalia’s Musings ebooks, Unraveled is DRM-free. Click the image above to go to the updated Shop page and find the version you need, as well as links to download free e-reader apps that will work on whatever device you’re using to read this post.

Happy Holidays!

Halloween 2014 recap

Last year I blogged about my Halloween costume, so I figured I’d continue the tradition.

I made the circlet for another costume a few years ago. The plastic sword was for a Xena, Warrior Princess costume. The belt and the gold slippers are some of my favorites from my actual wardrobe.

Obviously, though, the best part of this costume is the vintage dress. My mom bought it in Germany when she spent a year there in the late 70’s. She doesn’t remember where she found it. I’m going to say it was a charming little boutique because that makes a good story. It’s important to note that she did not buy it for cosplay. For a fantasy-loving flower child, this was an actual formal dress. She kept it all these years and is now graciously allowing me to use it for playing dress-up costuming.

I hope you all had a happy Halloween!

Cindy: The Kardashians Meet The Addams Family at Disneyworld

Image via Cindy’s official Facebook page. Click to go to the kickstarter.

So, I got an email the other day that began thusly:

Larry Wilson here. I co-wrote and co-produced Beetlejuice, co-wrote The Addams Family, wrote and directed for six seasons of Tales from the Crypt.

“Sure you did,” I thought.

I found you through your blog’s review of The New Adventures of Peter and Wendy

“Okay,” I thought. “That is in fact a thing I wrote. But this could still be a creative spammer or scammer.”

and I’m so excited to share my new project with you. It’s a web series called CINDY (youtube.com/cindyseries), that I think will especially appeal to fans of Peter and Wendy.

“Oooo, linkage! And moar literary webness! I’m listening.”

The character Cindy is a foster child (read: maid, unpaid personal assistant and emotional punching bag.) Her “family” are reality TV superstars who make the Kardashians look warm and fuzzy. Then add a Fairy Godmother with a drug problem, a handsome prince who is over twice Cindy’s age, and a young PA who’s fallen in love with Cindy and is determined to rescue her, even if it ends his TV career before it’s really started.

The result is a web series with every ounce of wit and snark a Beetlejuice or Addams Family fan would expect.

“I believe wit, snark, and an intersection of pop culture and classic fantasy are relevant to the interests of Thalia’s Musings fans.” And, based on the trailers I saw, that’s pretty much what Cindy is.

We just launched a Kickstarter to raise money for the post production of CINDY…

So it came to pass that I composed a blog post to bring Cindy to my readers’ attention. Having not seen any full episodes, I can’t tell you much more about the series than what Larry’s email or the Kickstarter pitch have said about it. But the trailer and teasers were a fun watch, and I think the series will be, too, if it makes it out of post production and onto my computer screen. The Kickstarter has just 8 days left, so if Cindy looks like something you want to add to your YouTube literary obsessions, click here and check it out!

UPDATE: Cindy’s kickstarter surpassed its goal! Looking forward to seeing the finished product on YouTube B-)

10 Books That Made An Impression On Me

You’ve probably seen this challenge on Facebook already – list 10 books that have made an impression on you. When one of my friends tagged me last weekend, I decided to narrow it down to ten by focusing on books that I feel have influenced me as a writer. Here’s what I came up with, listed roughly in the order in which I first read them. All images link to listings on Barnes & Noble’s website. Continue reading “10 Books That Made An Impression On Me”

The Quest: LARPing is now a televised competitive sport

A few weeks ago I got the following text from my sister:

The shameless fangirling is genetic.
The shameless fangirling is genetic.

Normally I don’t follow reality TV competitions. I’m not a snob about them, they just aren’t my thing. I’ve never seen a single episode of Survivor. Overall, I think I’ve watched more parodies of reality TV shows than actual reality TV shows. However, the concept (and my sister’s endorsement) of this one piqued my interest, so I gave The Quest a try.

You guys.

It’s LARPing.

It is a televised LARP.

 

Contestants appear before the Fates in ABC’s The Quest. Image via The Quest’s official Facebook page.

It’s what would happen if you could play a World of Warcraft style video game in a holodeck instead of whatever lame-o device you’re stuck playing it on. Of course, this means all you have to work with are your own personal stats, not a superhuman digital character’s. So far the challenges have included archery, horseback riding, blacksmithing, running, plus a variety of puzzles that require more brains than brawn. In the tradition of reality TV (so I’m told), one of the three weakest contestants gets voted out every week, so you don’t want to use Charisma as a dump stat.

Although the contestants themselves are fun to watch, I think my favorite thing about The Quest is the NPCs. For you poor, sad people who aren’t familiar with fantasy roleplaying games, NPC stands for non-player characters. They’re the people who exist for you to interact with. Sometimes they’re basically talking furniture. Other times they have distinctive personalities, major roles in the story, and enhance the overall environment of the game. The actors playing the NPCs on The Quest are doing a great job putting themselves in the latter category. I have no idea whether these actors are nerds or not. For all I know, they could’ve taken the job because it was this or a Viagra commercial. But they are SO into their roles. They never break character. Ren Faire Drill Sergeant. The Royal Queen of Queenliness. The Vizier. The Fates. OMG, the Fates. And there is no scenery left, because The Hag chewed it all to pieces.

The Quest airs on Thursdays at 8pm/7pm Central on ABC. As my sister said, it also replays on Hulu (though it’s on a one-week delay if you don’t have Hulu Plus). Click here if you want to check it out!

Oh, and if any producers are reading this, y’all totally need my sister for Season Two.

The Fire Wish: Scheherazade Meets The CW

Reviewing Royal last week put me in a YA fantasy mood. Hence this review of The Fire Wish, a new release by debut author Amber Lough. TL;DR – You’re either going to love it or hate it. I loved it.

The Fire Wish (Jinni Wars #1), by Amber Lough. Click image for Amazon listing.

The Fire Wish is about two teenage girls in a mythical version of ancient Baghdad who switch places with each other. Jasmine Zayele is a reluctant princess who wants to escape an arranged marriage. Ariel Najwa is a Jinn spy-in-training fascinated by the human world and its inhabitants. If this sounds too cheesy to you, abandon hope all ye who enter here. If you’re as much of a sucker for this kind of story as I am, grab your long skinny fork thing and join me at the fondue fountain.

My favorite thing about this book is the Jinni world Lough has created. I’m not as familiar with Middle Eastern mythology as I’d like to be, so I can’t tell how much is adapted from that and how much is Lough’s own imagination. But it’s pretty obvious that the Jinni spy headquarters is influenced by Lough’s experience in US military intelligence. There are intelligence files, security clearance levels, walls filled with magic screens, and, of course, secret missions. Najwa, the Jinn spy candidate, was the more interesting of the two protagonists to me, though ironically she spends most of her time exploring the surface and trying to become Part Of Our World. Najwa could be the only protagonist and I’d still want to read this book.

Not that I don’t like Zayele; it’s just that her story starts out way more familiar. She’s a plucky tomboy in a patriarchal society that wants her to be a proper lady and marry the nice prince her family picked out for her. To be fair, she has some legit reasons for not wanting to get married. She’s still a few months away from her sixteenth birthday, and marriage would mean leaving her blind brother at home without her care. And, hey, it doesn’t matter if a guy is a prince, a musician, a scientist, and a total hottie. If a girl isn’t interested, she isn’t interested. Move along.

Is it really a spoiler that Najwa is interested? Or that Zayele ends up falling for the ripped, leather-clad, Special Ops Jinn-next-door that Najwa totes friendzoned? It’s predictable, but it works. Prince Kamal is a great match for cautious, curious, scholarly Najwa. Atish, the Shaitan warrior, is everything impulsive, decisive, headstrong Zayele could want in a guy.

But, cute pairings aside, The Fire Wish manages to avoid being a romance novel disguised as a fantasy. Most of the focus is on the war between the humans and Jinni, how people think the war started vs how it really did, and both sides’ behind-the-scenes efforts to gain the upper hand. It’s an intriguing setup, and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens with the Jinni War in the inevitable sequels.

If a made-for-the-CW magic carpet ride sounds like your idea of a good time, click the image above or this link to enter A Whole New World.

Thalia’s Musings 3 is here!

The first chapter of Unraveled (Thalia’s Musings, Volume Three) is online at ThaliasMusingsNovels.com!

Unraveled (Thalia's Musings, Volume Three)
Unraveled (Thalia’s Musings, Volume Three)

I’ll be posting a new chapter every Monday for the next seventeen weeks. This blog will keep the same format and content – weekly posts with geeky pop culture fangirling reviews and the occasional commentary on current events. I’ll also be doing short posts like this one linking to the latest Thalia’s Musings chapter every Friday. That way subscribers to this blog will still get updates on the series, but subscribing to Thalia’s Musings is the only way to get updates as soon as the chapters go online.

Miss my usual media review content? Click here for a review I posted yesterday on Royal, the latest book in Anthea Sharp’s Feyland universe.

Royal: Return to Feyland

Last year I reviewed Anthea Sharp‘s Feyland trilogy and the first book in her Feyguard spinoff series. Last month, Anthea sent me an advance review copy of the second Feyguard book, Royal. I unfortunately wasn’t able to finish it before the release date, but I enjoyed it as much as the rest of the series, and am now happy to recommend it to my readers.

Royal (Feyguard #2), by Anthea Sharp. Click for Amazon listing.

Royal “Roy” Lassiter didn’t figure much into my review of the original trilogy, so here’s a recap. Roy is the son of the CEO of VirtuMax, the gaming company that developed Feyland. He’s first introduced in The Bright Court (Feyland #2) as a spoiled, entitled little bitch. A glamour spell makes him the most popular and intriguing student at his new school. He’s the guy all the guys want to be and all the girls want to be with. Until he loses the glamour spell, and the rest of the school sees him the way protagonists Jennet and Tam do – a mediocre person with a lot of style and little substance. I don’t know if this was intentional on the author’s part, but I saw him as a parody of Edward Cullen.

The Twilight Kingdom (Feyland #3) left the readers with the impression that Roy did have some substance after all; he’d just lacked the opportunity (both on- and offscreen) to develop it.  He gets that opportunity in Royal. As the title implies, this time Roy is the protagonist, with Jennet and Tam in supporting roles.

Roy is now a member of the Feyguard and of Jennet, Tam, and Marny’s inner circle. He’s happier with this small group of friends than he ever was with throngs of followers. But Jennet and Tam’s happy couplehood is a constant reminder that he’s struck out with every romantic prospect he’s had since moving to Crestview. The reader can guess that he’ll get a chance with Brea Cairgead, an emissary from the Dark Queen disguised an exchange student from Ireland.

Brea and Roy are particularly well-suited for each other. They were both brought into the world as tools for a narcissistic creator’s own purpose, and they’re both trying to discover and cultivate identities beyond that origin. Roy is the only child of a materialistic corporate mogul who’s been grooming him to take over her empire from birth, right down to naming him Royal. Brea was just a fish (no, really) living a simple, carefree life in the waters of the Unseelie Realm until the Dark Queen remade her as a naiad and sent her to the human world to lure people into Feyland. Neither queen accounted for her creation having a will of its own. Roy doesn’t care about business or technology, and would rather develop his hidden talent as an artist. Brea would rather befriend humans than feed on their mortal essence. They both long to be seen for who they really are, but continue to hide it because they’re legitimately terrified of the consequences.

While Royal probably has the least actual gameplay out of the Feyland and Feyguard books, it keeps all the factors I’ve loved about the series so far. What gameplay there is shows a familiarity with real fantasy RPGs. Roy, Jennet, and Tam are all learning alternate characters in this volume, and they play them like competent gamers unused to a new class with new powers. There’s still no femmephobia or catty girl-hate. Brea is as literal a Manic Pixie Dream Girl as possible (a trope that can be handled positively imo), and neither Jennet nor Marny is threatened by her wispy fey mystique. Gender stereotyping is ignored in-universe. No one thinks twice about a girl playing a knight or a boy playing a caster who draws with light. Roy’s mother does have a meltdown when she finds he’s been drawing flowery pictures of faeries, but it’s not because the pursuit is insufficiently masculine; it’s because she doesn’t see any money in it. (One has to wonder how much she paid her graphic designer.) The fact that Brea has never played video games isn’t brushed off as “Meh, she’s a girl”. Instead, it tips Jennet off to the fact that she isn’t human.

Ultimately the focus on the characters is what makes Royal worth the read. It’s great to see Jennet and Tam’s relationship, officially established at the end of the Feyland trilogy, progress with little angst or drama. Marny continues to be everything. I really hope she gets her own Feyguard book complete with a worthy love interest, because she’s one of my favorite things about this series. Although one of the best things about her is that she’s happy and confident without a boyfriend, I want to see someone love Marny as much as she loves herself. And, of course, the heart of the book is Roy and Brea finding the truth about themselves and each other. The end of their story is bittersweet without being tragic, and hopeful without being easy.

If you’re already a fan of Feyland, click here to add Royal to your collection. If you have yet to enter the Realm, click here for the Feyland trilogy, and here to continue the story of the Feyguard with Spark.