A Call To Arms: The Immortal Greek

Alexander Teaser 3 800x800The Immortal Greek will be out for the grabs on August the fifth, and I am looking for Facebook pages and blogs to advertise it. I will gift ecopies for your giveaways and any material you might need to run the event. Just fill the form. Thanks in advance!

A Call To Arms: The Immortal Greek

New Release Cover Dilemma

I am almost ready to release The Immortal Greek, second title in The Immortals series, and I am testing two covers. So far, the consensus on my Facebook author page is almost unanimous. I am curious to see if the blogverse thinks differently. I threw a third cover in the midst just to gauge reactions about two similar concepts.

Alexander #1 or #2

New Release Cover Dilemma

The Lost Centurion: Launch Day Results and a Newish Cover

The Lost Centurion_new design

 

Marcus Launch Day #55

Amazon.com Best Sellers Rank: #3,970 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

The Lost Centurion: Launch Day Results and a Newish Cover

Friday Snippet #?

I can’t remember when it was last time I posted a snippet, so I’ll leave the question mark instead of the number. I’ll come back later to add it. I’ll also come back to add an image as well.

Marie’s Journey’s promo ended with a solid 450 copies downloaded all around the world, and for a book with no reviews it is a great result. It stayed for three days at number 2 of its category, Teen Romance Dystopian, and that gave it a certain visibility. Now, I can only wait for the readers to pick it up, and hopefully like it and leave a review on Amazon.

I am writing again! After brief, but intense, consideration, I decided to change the way I work, and mapped a whole story, chapter by chapter. So far, I have been able to put down a solid 2k words per day. For a slow writer like me, it’s a serious achievement. Also, I am incorporating my research on the Romans in the story, which is an added bonus. Happy Chinese New Year, y’all.

The Lost Centurion:

Marcus whistled, two fingers in his mouth as his father had taught him, and the two men—no more than boys—raised their faces toward him. “Get it over with and leave.” He didn’t move from where he was sitting, his hand caressing the growth on his jaw back and forth until it rested under his chin.

Two heads peeped out of the passengers’ windows of both cars at the same time, Marcus heard young, feminine voices calling the boys’ names, and a minute later the two cars had left the scene. He had barely raised his voice to carry his words to the two hotheads. It worked every time. His voice was a gift. He had been told countless times how with a voice like his he was destined to become a centurion. “You have a commanding voice, but you never command me,” Aurelia had used to say to him, purred more than said, that brilliant light of hers shining only for him when she was in his arms. Fighting the sadness that usually accompanied those memories, Marcus decided a night out would be what he needed.

Friday Snippet #?

Vampire Academy

Another gift from the Vampire Book Club : Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead. As I wrote before, I am an urban fantasy’s fan, and I have a penchant for vampires. After having read few novels that were forgotten as soon as I put them down, I gave Vampire Academy a try simply because the author lives in Seattle. And I am glad I did it. Spoiler Alert after the break.

Vampire Academy is the first in the homonymous series.  Rose and Lissa are the best of friends, they are inseparable. They live one for the other. Literally. Lissa is Vasilisa Dragomir, a Moroi, vampire royalty who can use magic. Rose is Rosemarie Hathaway, a dhampir, a hybrid, half human half vampire, whose purpose in life is to be eventually Lissa’ s guardian. This is the way of life for Moroi and dhampirs, but the two girls have a special bond. Rose can enter in Lissa’ s mind and feel and see anything she feels and sees. After having successfully lived for two years in the human world, hiding from a mysterious entity who threats Lissa’s life, they are tracked down and brought back to ST. Vladimir’s Academy by Dimitri Belikow, a Russian dhampir guard sent by the school. Once back at the Academy, the two girls  have to deal with teenager’s drama, and life and death problems. While Lissa is sent back to her classes, Rose has to put up with special training under Dimitri’s supervision. Soon Rose discovers that the reason why Lissa is becoming moody and unstable is because she uses the healing power which is almost unheard of among vampires. With the help of Dimitri, Rose manages to save Lissa from her ill uncle, who wants to use his niece to heal and reign as the new vampire king.

Vampire Academy is a fast read, it is well written, and most importantly its world is regulated by specific rules that limits the characters in their interaction. The Moroi are vampires who need dhampirs to defend themselves against the Strigoi. While the Moroi are vampires who feed from humans, but don’t kill them, the Strigoi are vampires who have killed humans. The Moroi are alive and use magical powers; the Strigoi are dead and have lost their connection with earth’s magic. Dhampirs are stronger than Moroi, but can’t procreate without their help. The two races need to stay united against the dead vampires. Rose and Lissa live in a heavily structured society and they break rules at every turn. Rose allows Lissa to feed from her, and falls in love with Dimitri, seven years older than her and dhampir. Lissa uses compulsion on other Moroi to do her bidding, and help cleaning Rose’s reputation.

As I wrote in another occasion, it is a pleasure when a literary universe is so well crafted that is believable. When Rose lets Lissa feed from her, the reader’s sentiments are a mix of disgust and fascination. When she gradually falls in love with Dimitri, it is evident that their union is doomed by society. Dhampirs as a species need Moroi to survive, and a damphir love story is taboo. Equally fascinating are the byproducts of such society. Rose is called a blood-whore, a dhampir woman who allows vampires to feed from her during sex. Young Moroi males find dhampir girls exotic and desirable compared to the thin and ethereal vampire girls, but never marry them. It’s interesting that the aspect of feeding is treated as something necessary, but somehow demeaning. Therefore humans exist at the fringe of the vampires’ world. Although treated gently, humans are no more than blood containers.

Vampire Academy is a good example that it is possible to infuse new energy in a genre that is not original anymore. Even in the overcrowded young adults paranormal romance category.  

Vampire Academy

The Iron King

Following a bread crumb trail that started reading the Vampire Book Club’s blog I found The Iron King, by Julie Kagawa. Rocambolesque, (as in fantastic, incredible, and fabulous) is the adjective that comes to my mind to describe The Iron King. First in the Iron Fey series, this novel is a joyous ride between the human world and Faeryland.  The protagonist, Meghan Chase, is a regular teenager who has been living at the fringe of society, misunderstood at home, ridiculed at school, with only one friend to keep her company. Meghan is resigned to her fate, when she discovers that Robbie, her only friend, is Robin Goodfellow, aka Puck, and that she is not in fact a human teenager at all. When Ethan, Meghan’s four year old brother, is kidnapped and exchanged with a changeling, she leaves everything behind to save him. In her quest to find Ethan, Meghan meets her real father Oberon, king of the Summer Court, and falls in love with Ash, a young prince who happened to be the Winter Court queen Mab‘s son. I will not try to summarize the plot, because it would be like writing the synopsis for the second Transformer’s movie, but in a good way. Suffice to say that the Summer Court  and the Winter Court are not in the best of terms, and that Meghan and Ash are not supposed to fraternize. The plot thickens when a third contender for the supremacy of Faeryland appears. The Iron King, whose realm made of metal threatens to suffocate Faeryland, wants Meghan more than anybody else.  Ash promises Meghan to help her find and free Ethan from the Iron King’s clutches, if in return she willingly follows him to the Winter Court. Finding Ethan takes some time.

I particularly liked Ash, he is a fascinating character and he is dark and moody without becoming annoying. Meghan is a strong heroine with a pure heart. The secondary characters are equally entertaining. Puck is the perfect bodyguard, loyal and funny, and probably also in love with Meghan. Grimalkin, a cait sith, is the unexpected sidekick who comes back to fix problems when he is needed the most. I will definitely read the following chapter in the story, The Iron Daughter, because I want to know what happens between Meghan and Ash. I also enjoyed the way the author played around with the characters from Shakespeare’s plays and Celtic mythology, creating a modern fairytale.

Having finished the first book, I only have one request/hope: Mrs. Kagawa, please bring back Beau, the German shepherd, if you haven’t already. I went through the whole novel waiting for the dog to make an apparition, even ghost-like would have been fine, but it didn’t happen. Keeping my fingers crossed for the time being.

The Iron King

Being Human or Being Human? That Is the Question

I have just finished watching the British Being Human, and I can now compare it with the American version. I have to start saying that, for different reasons, I like both of them, which is by itself a first. Lately I have found remakes rather disappointing, especially if they come right after the original. At the moment I have in mind the American Skins, which it falls short of being as funny as the British Skins. I blame it on the simple fact that the Brit slang makes everything, and I really mean everything, sound almost whimsical. I watched the first episode of the American Being Human (ABH), and then, overtaken by curiosity, I went to netflix the British Being Human’s (BBH) first season. I was more than pleasantly surprised to notice that, although the basic storyline is the same, three unlikely roommates striving to fit in the human world, there are several differences. Due to the fact that British television series are shorter than the American equivalents, it stands to reason when adapting a script to explore subplots and additional characters. Since I haven’t seen BBH’s second season, I don’t know if the secondary characters showing in ABH’s first three episodes are a brand new invention, or if they are just being introduced earlier on in the American series.

Reasons why I like BBH (pretty obvious, although mild,  SPOILER ALERT):

  • British Humor. Enough said already on the topic. Nonetheless I would like to spend a moment to remember when George complains that the word “peedo” (as in pedophiles) written on the door of their townhome is misspelled. Tragically hilarious.
  • British Accent. And here there is nothing to add, since it is simply awesome.
  • George, Mitchell, Annie. The three actors have such distinctive traits that make the characters believable in their struggle.

Reasons why I like ABH (and again, mild SPOILER ALERT):

  • To accommodate longer airing season and cultural preferences  ABH has taken a different route in the story telling. Secondary characters like Josh’s sister, and the son of one of Aidan’s victims, appears early on to explain where the protagonists come from.
  • Like any respectable urban fantasy world, ABH has its canonized rules. When Sally asks Aidan how can he walk in plain daylight, he answers that like any other species , vampires have evolved too. Although it is shown later on that they still have to ask for permission to enter in someone else’s home. Josh’ s olfactory sense is always working. Sally needs a ghost guide to learn how to transport herself in and out of rooms, and outside. Every character has specific abilities, and disabilities.
  • Josh, Aidan, and Sally are equally great.

In conclusion, I am looking forward  to see how an American series aired on public television is going to tackle several topics that are considered not suitable for a mainstream audience. One of them, just to make an example, is the pedophile accusations’ plot, which is an important part of BBH. Mitchell accidentally lends a kid a vampire porno dvd. As a result the outraged mother makes a public scene accusing Mitchell to prey on her son, and the neighbors react strongly to the accusations. While the controversial theme was well played in BBH, I am not sure that ABH will be able to use it as it is. Looking forward to the next ABH’s episode to see what the writers have wisely concocted for us. I have plenty of faith in them.

Being Human or Being Human? That Is the Question

Being Human

I have just watched Being Human, the American version of a Brit show, now airing on Syfy , and although the channel is in-famous for stellar titles like Mega Python vs. Gatoroid (I kid you not!), I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the acting and the plot. I haven’t seen the original show, so I can’t draw any comparison between the two, but the first episode of the American one delivers big time. Think about a television series about a nervous young doctor, a  handsome male nurse, and a good looking girl who is making plans to get married,  living in a big city, looking for a comfortable place to settle in, having to solve daily problems, dealing with relationships and family’s issues. What it comes to mind could be Friends 2011, right? Think again. Josh, the nervous young doctor is a werewolf; Aidan, the handsome male nurse is a vampire; Sally, the bride to be, never got to the altar, she is a ghost. They all strive to be normal, as normal as they can be.

Spoiler Alert, I am going to summarize the first episode, There Goes The Neighborhood: Part 1. Josh is an unhappy werewolf who doesn’t have a place to call home.  Aidan is trying hard not to kill humans, but has a bad night and relapses causing a coworker whom he is dating to die. He has to call for help cleaning his mess. They both work at the same hospital and Aidan suggest that they could join forces and live together. Josh agrees and after a month they find the perfect place. The only tiny problem with the apartment is that it comes with a ghost, Sally. She is new to the ghost life and she is still dealing with her status of being dead. Meanwhile Aidan is being helped by the Bishop to maintain his digression under control, but remorse about killing the innocent woman is taking its toll on him. And the Bishop seems to want Aidan to go back to his former life. Josh’s sister accidentally finds him at the hospital.  They haven’t talked in two years and she would like to have his best friend back. Josh tries his best to push her away, saying that she could never understand why he has left his family. While Sally is moping in the house and Aidan is having a good time at a vampire club with Bishop, Josh is left to face the worst fear for a reluctant werewolf: His sister follows him to the cellar Aidan has found for him to safely change when it comes that time of the month. And the door doesn’t open from the inside. Looking forward to watch the second episode.

Being Human

Clockwork Angel

I have been praising Cassandra Clare for so long that it seems just right to finally write something about her latest endeavor, the highly anticipated Clockwork Angel, first installation in The Infernal Devices’ trilogy which is also a prequel for the Mortal Instruments’ series. Clockwork Angel is set in the Victorian London with some steampunk elements. Tessa Gray is a young lady who is forced to leave New York after the untimely death of her aunt, and comes to London to be reunited with her brother Nathaniel, who has sent for her. Much to her surprise, Tessa is welcomed in London by two unforgiving women, the Dark Sisters, who proclaim to be Nathaniel’s friend. Tessa’s fate takes a turn for the worse when she soon discovers that not only her brother is nowhere to be seen, but that the Dark Sisters have set their minds to teach her how to use a power she doesn’t know she has. Tessa endures the tortures and the painful lessons only because the Dark Sisters have threatened to kill Nathaniel. After several weeks of imprisonment, and at the eve of being given in marriage to an obscure entity called the Magister, Tessa is saved by Will Herondale, a young shadowhunter from the London’s Institute. Shadowhunters are  Nephilims , a race of human-angel hybrids created by the angel Raziel with the purpose of defending humanity from the demons hordes. Will finds Tessa while investigating a series of murders committed by demons that has left a trail of human victims through London. Tessa is granted asylum at the Institute by Charlotte, a strong willed shadowhunter who is married to Henry, brilliant inventor unaware of the rest of the world, and with different degrees of complacency by the rest of the Institutes’ inhabitants. Tessa will grow attached to the pale sickness-ridden Jem and his kind soul, and she will also learn to tolerate beautiful and spoiled Jessamine who doesn’t want to be a warrior. But she will fall in love with Will, who has a dark reputation and a tormented soul and who seems to care for nobody, but Jem. Tessa is helped by the rest of the shadowhunters to find her brother Nathaniel, while at the same time helping them using her power to find the Magister. In the process of honing her unique skill to change her appearance at pleasure, Tessa comes to understand what entails to be a downworlder, half-human and half-demon. As usual in Cassandra Clare’s works, I enjoyed the character building and the witty dialogues, as much as the plot. Cassandra Clare has an uncanny ability to draw characters who are at the same time funny and tragic. When Tessa at the beginning of the story is being rescued by Will from the Dark Sisters, she corrects him on hell being cold, according to Dante’s Inferno, and not hot as Will has just stated. The whole scene is hilarious because it is inserted in the middle of fast paced action, and the timing is perfect. In another section of the novel, much later in the story, Jem reassures Tessa about her worries of being a monster, the spawn of human and demon. He says to her that she is what she feels she is. “If you have the soul of a warrior, you are a warrior. Whatever the color, the shape, the design of the shade that conceals it, the flame inside the lamp remains the same. You are that flame.”  The setting of the Clockwork Angel, the prosperous Victorian London, shared by downworlders and nephilims who hide their presence from the humans, deserves a mention by itself. The city is another  living character in the novel, it has a personality, and it shapes the story. The clockwork army unleashed by the Magister and roaming the streets of London adds the steampunk element that make the depiction of the city even more interesting. Since the Infernal Devices’ series is set in a complete different and earlier era than the Mortal Instruments’ one, they can be read independently. Although I didn’t do it, since the prequel got written and published after the Mortal Instruments’ series, I suggest to read the books in their chronological order just because there are characters who show up in both series. It also makes easier to understand the complex world Cassandra Clare invented . After having read Clockwork Angel, I am now waiting for the next two books in the series to come out with even greater anticipation. Unfortunately it is not going to be yesterday, as I fervently wished.  Clockwork Prince will be released September 2011; and Clockwork Princess, November/December 2012. Meanwhile I still have the City of Fallen Angels, the fourth in the Mortal Instruments’ series, to look forward in exact 106 days.

Keep reading, it’s healthy!

Clockwork Angel