Sunday, March 9, 2008

The Most List, Part I

I’ve read a great many books lately in a number of genres. Some I liked, some I didn’t. Some that were like brain candy, never challenging me and making me feel warm and fuzzy. Some were boundary pushing, making me look at what I was comfortable with and what I thought I knew about myself and the world. So for lack of anything more interesting to do today, I offer you a list of Mosts.

Most Fascinating World Development: Mystic Valley Series

Easy choice here, really. It’s no surprise to anyone that I’ve become a big fan of this writer over the last year. And I’m not easy to please, particularly where fantasy is concerned. Just ask my book group. They get tired of me saying, “Didn’t like it.” But Anny Cook’s Mystic Valley Series is one of the most intricate and well planned out cases of world building I’ve seen in a long time. Cook has created a world were so much is familiar while so much is alien. Yet what could have been overwhelming and confusing for readers is handled so flawlessly that it blends into the reader’s awareness as the stories unfold rather than becoming a jarring case of information dumping. The Mystic Valley Series currently includes three titles: Dancer’s Delight, Traveller’s Refuge and Cherished Destinies and is available from Cerridwen Press and Ellora’s Cave.

Most Useful Writer’s Resource: The Novel Writer’s Toolkit.

Bob Mayer has created an effective and common sense guide to creating a novel. The information won’t make a person who isn’t a writer a writer, but it will certainly make you a better writer. The graphic organizers and the tips are presented in such as way as to make you think about how you are structuring your stories. It contains information on how to avoid some of the common pitfalls that many writer’s create including the afore mentioned information dumping. The seminar that Mayer presents around the country was insightful and immensely helpful. His book is an excellent resource for any writer.

Most Eye Opening/Boundary Pushing Experience: The Cress Brothers

Brynn Paulin’s trilogy for Ellora’s Cave’s Torrid Tarot series was an eye opening experience for me. I went into these books knowing nothing about and having had no background with the BDSM lifestyle, but being exceedingly curious. Books I’d read in the past had not been flattering of the lifestyle and had portrayed the Dom/sub role as an unequal and degrading one. But Paulin’s work is so laced with the emotional side of this dynamic that it was eye opening. Her characters were not role players, but are deeply entrenched in the lifestyle. But the love and affection and caring between Dom/sub was presented in a way that showed the tenderness and the true give and take between the roles. It showed the empowerment of the sub in a way I didn’t expect. The stories themselves were excellently written and the characters wonderfully developed. Paulin’s Torrid Tarot titles include On Your Knees, All Chained Up and Master Me and are available from Ellora’s Cave.

Most Fascinating Memoir: Born on a Blue Day

This autobiography was written by a remarkable individual. Daniel Tammet is a high-functioning autistic with Asperger’s syndrome. As a synethesist, Tammet’s perception of numbers crosses the visual/spacial realm of his senses. He sees numbers in terms of shapes, colors, textures and motions. Tammet describes the number five as a loud clap of thunder, while the number 89 reminds him of falling snow. Asperger’s can affect the individual’s ability to connect emotionally with his surroundings, making him detached and isolated. Tammet tells how he has learned to use his synethesia to learn to relate to others. The book is a riveting look inside the mind of one of the smartest men alive.

Most Impressive Find: The God Eaters
Jesse Hajicek’s book is published by a small print on demand press and came to my attention while ordering another book for my book group. The reviews were outstanding and the premise interesting. Ashleigh Trine is imprisoned by the theocratic government for “inflammatory” writings. Sent to a prison for the most vicious of convicts, the shy, scholarly Trine should be an easy target for the inmates. On the train, Trine meets Kieran Trevarde, a hardened and brutal assassin. Trevarde is doubly cursed with the forbidden dark magic hiding deep in his blood. And the prison to which both are being sent is no ordinary prison. Trevarde takes Trine under his protection in part because the smaller man’s frailty will give him plenty or excuses for the fighting that he understands. But Trevarde is also drawn to Trine for other reasons. This is the story of an unlikely set of heroes and an unlikely love that could just save their world. This book is one of the best reads I’ve come across with astoundingly well developed characters and a plot that is truly inspired. The God Eaters is available through
If you drop by tomorrow you'll find a continuation of this list dealing with characters, settings, plots etc. I'll tell you who I think is the most lickable character, the heroine I'd most want to be and even what character tugs at my heartstrings so much that I just want to take him home, coddle him and feed him warm milk and cookies.

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