Cover Reveal: Dream Eater

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This is how K. Bird Lincoln’s latest urban fantasy was described to me: “a half-Japanese college student discovers her mythological parentage.”

Sold.

I learned more details on Lincoln’s author page*: “half-Japanese girl finds out she’s the daughter of mythological, dream-eating Baku, yearns for delicious artisan chocolate, meets a handsome stranger with a secret of his own, and fends off attacks by creepy community college professors and water dragons.”

Although I’m a fairy/folk tale/mythology nut, I don’t know much about Japanese mythology (thanks, Eurocentric education). When I looked up Baku, I learned that is the spirit who can eat people’s nightmares.

“A child having a nightmare in Japan will wake up and repeat three times, “Baku-san, come eat my dream.” Legends say that the baku will come into the child’s room and devour the bad dream, allowing the child to go back to sleep peacefully.”

My son is starting to have nightmares. Maybe calling on Baku-san will help him fight through them. We have to stay careful though, because if you call on Baku too much, s/he may gobble up your good dreams as well. What does that leave you with?

I’ve enjoyed quite a few stories published by World Weaver Press lately, including The Falling of the Moon, Covalent Bonds (a geek romance anthology that is making me rethink the romance genre), and He Sees You When You’re Sleeping (an anthology of Krampus stories). Once I finish Dream Eater, I’ll let you know how it fares for lovers of mythology/urban fantasy.

K. Bird Lincoln’s Japanese-inspired urban fantasy novel DREAM EATER will be available from World Weaver Press in early 2017. Here’s how to add it to your Goodreads to-read shelf.

*I love that Lincoln calls this “my online presence.”

^I got this from Wikipedia, who lists their sources as:

  1. M.Reese:”The Asian traditions and myths”.pg.60
  2. Jump up^ Hadland Davis F., “Myths and Legends of Japan” (London: G. G. Harrap, 1913)

Book Review: The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

This review was first published on Dwarf+Giant, a blog of The Last Bookstore.

I just finished Winter, the fourth and final installment of The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer (plus a villain back story and other intertwined short stories).

Usually I don’t want a series that I love so much to end, but Meyer wrung as much story out of these science fiction fantasy fairy tales as I think she could possibly find. All of her related short stories are pretty great, though, and I certainly wouldn’t complain if we pick up on some of these characters a few years from the end of Winter. As far as their lives within the limits of their original fairy tales, however, Meyer is done.

Goodreads is responsible for me finding this series, buying Cinder, then binging on it during an airplane ride cross country while my infant son lovingly complied with his Mama the Bookworm and slept the whole way home.

 

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Cinder

The first in the series, and an excellent example of doling out a story drip by drip, beginning with compelling characters (seriously, where’s the Iko spin off?*). By the time Meyer reveals the real plot point that drives the rest of the series, you don’t know whether to root more for her triumph in that regard (Spoilers!) or for Cinder and Prince Kai to kiss already. Throughout the whole series, whether or not she can have both is constantly brought into question.

This book really had me at Cinder being a cyborg mechanic, and it never lost that excitement with such a retelling. Meyer makes each separate iconic element of the Cinderella stories her own, but so beautifully weaves them into a futuristic fantasy world that the symbols of Cinderella often snuck up on me, making their reveals even more pleasurable. In contrast, something like Gregory Maguire’s Wicked had me looking for his personal touch instead of them all flowing naturally from the story.

One of my favorite changes by Meter is Prince Kai: he turns the damsel in distress cliché on its head. Kai often feels like his hands are tied and all he can do is wait in his castle for others – namely, Cinder – to take action. Although his role in the plot is key as the series develops, Kai can often only take so many steps towards helping the cause before someone has to save him. He is one of the best incarnations of Cinderella’s Prince, who is often given no character development, but at his best has to learn to overcome deep prejudices before he can accept the woman he loves. (Sapsorrow in Jim Henson’s The Storyteller series is actually one of the best examples of Cinderella’s Prince having a real and painful character arc.)

I wish this next point didn’t matter so much, but considering how many Cinderellas are blond, it does. Meyer set Cinder in the Eastern Commonwealth, specifically our China, as an homage to what is thought to be one of the first Cinderellas (where magical fish bones are the original fairy godmother, but that’s another story).

 

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Scarlet

The second book was harder for me to get into at first but worth the wait. I think my struggle is partly to do with how much I adored Cinder, and Scarletstarts in a different place (The European Commonwealth, in France to us) and centers around a human. I didn’t realize how intriguing I found Cinder right away by virtue of the fact that she’s a cyborg until I found it hard to connect with Scarlet.

Once I got over that, Scarlet opened up an entire new dimension of the Lunar Chronicles world, giving more clues to Cinder’s story and introducing Wolf! Scarlet and Wolf’s relationship proves to be very complicated, and once again, much more balanced than the fairy tale romances you know. Add to that an incredible backstory for a kickass Grandmother, and Meyer proves once more that she is no lazy storyteller.

By the time we meet up with Cinder and the charismatic convict Captain Thorne (more on him later), I was hooked, ready for all the adventure and trouble in which our characters find themselves. As opposed to a lot of novels where the ensemble sometimes seems to get into fights just for the sake of having conflict, the internal struggles of our team are well motivated, complex and difficult.

Did I mention Captain Thorne? Ok, good, because next up is Cress.

 

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Cress

This one was probably my favorite to read. I thrilled in all the storylines converging, getting separated then merging again. Plus the reimagining of Rapunzel tickled me in the same way as Cinderella: her tower is a small satellite, and she’s a hacker for Queen Levana, the nemesis of our heroines and heroes.

It’s hard to get into this story without offering spoilers, but suffice to say that Meyer pulls no punches in her interpretation. Cress’s relationship to her captors is complicated; her hair and ‘tower,’ though symbols of her imprisonment, are hard to leave; she must find her way through a desert, and her “Prince” loses his eyesight (the source stories blind him when he falls on a bush of thorns, so then we understand where Captain Thorne falls into the picture).

Thorne and his relationship with Cress (not even moving beyond potential in this novel) brought me right back to school-girl crushes. As great as Prince Kai and Wolf are for Cinder and Scarlet, respectively, Thorne takes the fairy tale romance to a new level. How Meyer creates a deep friendship out of a trope that Cress herself acknowledges is testament to her maturity and concern for her characters – and by extension, her teenage readers.

 

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In between Cress and Winter, Meyer published Fairest, the backstory to our villainess Queen Levana. I haven’t read it yet, possibly to keep something for when I get the itch to return to the world of The Lunar Chronicles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In Cress, we are introduced to Jacin, a Lunar Guard with unclear intentions but seemingly trustworthy, until he isn’t. It turns out that he is the childhood friend and desired love of Winter, our Lunar Snow White. She doesn’t use the mind control gift enjoyed by Lunars because she feels it is immoral, and that has her going mad.

Again, to go into too much detail basically gives the whole series away, but we are treated this time to an entire novel set on Lunar (with a few people en route). All of our ensemble play integral roles and hold their own even as their relationships and characters must fight internal and external forces in order to remove Levana from the throne and stop her from conquering Earth.

WIth Winter and Jacin, we are once again reminded that Meyer can write a damn good love story, a unique story with mutual respect and proving that both females and males can be vulnerable, strong, stubborn, gracious, right, wrong, and above all, equals.

Yet, the love stories are not even the main events in these books. Loyalties are tested and crossed, politics mingle with mind control, and an incredibly devoted team fight through so many dangers that I wonder if Meyer herself knew how to get them out of the traps she herself set.

It was a great ride. I always approach YA asking if it would have impacted me as their target audience, a pre teen or teenager.

I would have read the hell out of this series as a teenager, and made sure all my younger cousins read it too.

Male or female, you should introduce the young adults in your life to The Lunar Chronicles. They are equal parts Firefly, Star Wars and fairy tales.

 

 

*Silly me. Iko has her own graphic novel! lunarstars-199x300

 

Have not read the other supplemental to the series, Stars Above, which is a collection of short prequels and explorations of the Lunar Chronicles world, including a Little Mermaid story and a preview of a Queen of Hearts novel. 

 

 

 

 

YA Book Review: Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

I’m happy to announce that I’m now reviewing books for Dwarf+Giant, A Blog of The Last Bookstore. My focus is on fairy tales, folk tales and mythology – classics and re-tellings. Follow my reading progress on Goodreads.

This review was originally published on October 14, 2016.

Dorothy Must Die isn’t so much a retelling of The Wizard of Oz as a continuation, an elaboration of Oz after Dorothy became a ruthless dictator and turned her companions into henchmen worthy of The Godfather. Amy is the protagonist, swept into a tornado after her alcoholic mother goes to a tornado drinking party and leaves her to fend for herself. Landing her trailer in Oz, she is assumed to be their saviour, her orders being simple: Dorothy Must Die.

I had a hard time getting into Amy, the protagonist. At first I thought it was because we had so little in common (trailer park vs upper middle class, alcoholic mother vs stable nuclear family); then I realized that I felt too close to her experiences being bullied at school. It hurt too much for me to bear with relating to her. In a lot of ways I wish I reacted to bullying more like Amy did.

Once we’re into the Oz part of the story, I flew through Amy’s journey. Struggling with who to believe and having a real stake in who is good vs who is evil is a pretty great hook. No icon of Oz is left standing here, and you get the feeling there is real danger. I didn’t read the summary to the second book, so to me, it was possible that Amy could have been killed before this book was done. That was a pretty great feeling to have as a reader, that anything was really possible and maybe this time, our heroine wouldn’t overcome her training and doubts.

I do wish there was a little more dimension to Dorothy, but I suppose that’s how the original villain (Wicked Witch of the West) is portrayed in the film…and maybe I’ll find the answer I seek in Paige’s prequels.

Cover Reveal- He Sees You When He’s Creepin’: Tales of Krampus anthology

If you’re anything like me, the slow resurgence of Krampus into mainstream holiday festivities makes you very happy. It makes sense, given our recent freedom to be skeptical and embrace the darker sides of history (often the actual reality versus the mythologies of history we are taught in school). When I grew up in a Catholic school setting, my only alternative to being good was a stocking full of coal. Perhaps they sensed that if I thought I’d get a visit from a half goat, half man, my curiosity would get the better of me.

I look forward to reading this new anthology when it’s out in November!

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Title: He Sees You When He’s Creepin’: Tales of Krampus

Anthologist: Kate Wolford

Publisher: World Weaver Press

Publication Date: November 22, 2016

Book Description:

Krampus is the cloven-hoofed, curly-horned, and long-tongued dark companion of St. Nick. Sometimes a hero, sometimes a villain, within these pages, he’s always more than just a sidekick. You’ll meet manifestations of Santa’s dark servant as he goes toe-to-toe with a bratty Cinderella, a guitar-slinging girl hero, a coffee shop-owning hipster, and sometimes even St. Nick himself. Whether you want a dash of horror or a hint of joy and redemption, these 12 new tales of Krampus will help you gear up for the most “wonderful” time of the year. 

Featuring original stories by Steven Grimm, Lissa Marie Redmond, Beth Mann, Anya J. Davis, E.J. Hagadorn, S.E. Foley, Brad P. Christy, Ross Baxter, Nancy Brewka-Clark, Tamsin Showbrook, E.M. Eastick, and Jude Tulli.

 

YA Fantasy Review: The Falling of the Moon

25884440Vampires, fairy tale balls, ghosts….every time I thought I had a handle on the world that Decker created, she took another twist. With Ascot as an unlikely heroine, the reader goes on a journey that uproots all convention. This story-line sort of reminds you of one fairy tale, this one another; then you realize there are layers upon layers of commentary and thwarting of fairy tales we think we know. Since it’s the first book in the Moonfall Mayhem series, sometimes knowledge is given for the long haul, and I’m glad I have an advance copy of the second book. (Since the second book in the series is not from Ascot, but from her companion Rags and Bones’ perspective, I have great hope that we will also see Decker’s world from the other characters’ points of view, or hear more of their origins.)

Because there are so many genres and tales woven into one, at times I felt the transition a bit jarring. Through it all, Decker’s lively and focused characters were able to take me through the plot twists just fine, and only got a little confused once we started to unravel motivations in the wine cellar.

When reading YA, I always stop to consider if my pre-teen or teenage self would have learned from this book and enjoyed it. I definitely wish I’d known Ascot earlier. She could have helped relieve some questions about fairy tale endings. At the time, I only had Sondheim’s “Into the Woods” musical to counter societal pressure and expectations. Having Ascot in my life would have absolutely pushed me towards figuring out my own happy ending instead of thinking I had to have a fairy tale one. She’d be a great addition to any teenager or pre-teen’s collection.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of the first book and advance review copy of book #2.

Find it Online:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Books-a-Million
Goodreads
Independent Bookstores
iTunes/Apple iBooks
Kobo

Cover Reveal for new YA Fantasy, THE MEDDLERS OF MOONSHINE

 

 

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Cover art by Cary Vandever

I got a little peek at the cover for a new YA Fantasy, The Meddlers of Moonshine by A.E. Decker. It’s the second in the Moonlight Mayhem series.

I love the synopsis (below) and description of the series by another author, Susan Sullivan:

“I’d say it’s like Shrek meets The Wizard of Oz if Dorothy were Wednesday Addams and Toto a talking cat with bat wings.”

Sounds very cool. Fairy tale mashups are an obsession of mine and after reading some more of Decker’s work, it sounds like she’s a real find for me! In fact, I would have posted this sooner but I was gobbling up her other stories.

The Meddlers of Moonshine will be available on October 25. Until then, check out the ebook for the first in this series, The Falling of the Moon, available for $0.99 for a limited time.

Here’s the summary:

Something is rotten in the town of Widget, and Rags-n-Bones knows it’s all his fault.

 

Ever since he snitched that avocado from Miss Ascot’s pack, things have been going wrong. Armed with a handful of memories he never realized he had, Rags-n-Bones searches for a way to put right whatever he did to Widget in the past. If only he knew what it was! Unfortunately, the only person who seems to have answers is a half-mad youth that only Rags can see.

Widget is also suffering from a ghost infestation that has the townsfolk almost as spooked of outsiders as they are of actual spooks. While Rags-n-Bones seeks answers in the past, Ascot offers the town leaders her service as an exorcist, only to be handed an ultimatum: banish the ghosts or be banished herself!

Who’s meddling with Widget? To catch the culprit, Ascot and Rags-n-Bones must match wits with a shifty sorcerer, a prissy ex-governess, and a troublingly attractive captain before the town consigns itself to the graveyard of history.

Pre-order:

Ebook
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
iTunes
Kobo
World Weaver Press online store

Trade Paperback
World Weaver Press online

 

Decker Author Photo

More about Decker at Words Meet World. Also, don’t you just love her for her profile picture alone? I do.

A. E. Decker hails from Pennsylvania. A former doll-maker and ESL tutor, she earned a master’s degree in history, where she developed a love of turning old stories upside-down to see what fell out of them. This led in turn to the writing of her YA novel, The Falling of the Moon. A graduate of Odyssey 2011, her short fiction has appeared in such venues as Beneath Ceaseless SkiesFireside Magazine, and in World Weaver Press’s own Specter Spectacular. Like all writers, she is owned by three cats. Come visit her, her cats, and her fur Daleks at wordsmeetworld.com or@MoonfallMayhem.