persephone20: (Default)
(Cross-posted to my blogger: http://nicole-d-fergusson.blogspot.com.au)

One year ago, this book showed up on my Tumblr feed. Now, I love fairy tales, I love fairies, I love fantasy. It's pretty safe to say I love all these things to do with 'F'.



It's also safe to say that I enjoy reading Young Adult fiction.

So, as you can imagine, when I finally got around to this novel, it was an absolute delight to read!

Part Holly Black's Valiant, part Cassandra Clare's 'The Mortal Instruments', part Alex Flinn's Beastly, this book was all parts awesome. Sarah Cross managed to put into this fairy tale novel a real sense of grittiness into the town of Beau Ridge which is, to all intents and purposes, a fairy tale town. But not a nice, censored, Disney-style town. This is a town in which Bluebeard tries to pick up the damsel in distress and Sleeping Beauty makes the choice to prick her finger in order to save her life.

In all honesty, after a year of knowing about this book and not being able to find it, I almost completed the whole thing in a day!

The only reason why I didn't was, of course, because the reading of this book also overlapped with the last days of having my partner's daughter in the state. She is absolutely adorable, and I wouldn't have missed out on a minute of extra time I got to spend with her.

However, as some of you know, I've been dealing with depression and anxiety over the last several months, and I gave it until the date of this little lady's departure to stay on a regular course of St. John's wort and see if that might prove a possible alternative to something harsher, like anti-depressants.

It's not been all smooth sailing. During the time of this course, my car battery died outside of a shopping centre and it seems like the very warm weather Melbourne has been experiencing aided an infestation of maggots in my living room. In addition to that, my work lifted the 20 hours per week of my contract to a full 40 hours over two weeks. Last week was a very shit week. And it was with a combination of practical solutions to these problems as well as the mental space that the St. John's offered that got me through it. I've had to jump up to 2000mg (a full sized tablet rather than the tablet cut in half) to get the effect I wanted.

This week has been much easier.

The only problem I'm facing now? The knowledge that I'm not ready to come off this herbal supplement just yet. I have tried halving the dose again, cutting it down while still keeping it in my system. Within hours after, I'm feeling anxiety creeping up and I just don't have the mental reserves yet to keep it at bay, to shut it in a box called 'Irrational' and keep moving forward. Not yet.



So, I'm still leaning on it, then. For a little while longer at least.
persephone20: (little storm in a teacup)
I come to you today, fresh from my first day at a new job, thinking that I will have a couple of weeks away from my writing to recharge and re-energise after the last week of restructuring one novel, editing another and beginning two new ones.

Here I am, ready to take the world by storm.

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(in a couple of weeks)


Then today, I get an email from my friendly, neighbourhood publisher.

"Erm, ehm, promotion, promotion, promotion!"

Imagine me headdesking at this moment as I scratch my head and utter, 'I knew I forgot something...'

So!

Leap of Faith LLC have been kind enough to take a ... leap of faith :D ... with my new novel Gothic, which is in final stages of editing and awaiting cover art.

Gothic is the first in a new paranormal romance series sketched together in the middle of my Honours year last year (much less stressful than the writing I was actually researching and getting marked on, I tell you! (Anyone who has ever done an Honours year can tell you this is true.)) Of course, then I talked to my partner about this book I had just written and he said, 'So what happens if you did this next...?' and so a series was born.

But Gothic... I have had so much fun writing this story.

It's a story of a human girl, Dahlia, who's mother died when she was eight. After her father ran away with grief, she was taken in by her vampire godmother and the rest of the werewolf pack of which her father had been a part. When the story starts, Dahlia has just moved out of home and wants to live the 'normal' life, i.e. a life without quite so much vampire and werewolf influence. In the first few weeks of class, she finds out that her godmother has contacted one of her vampire friends to watch over her. He, Elliott, ends up being one of her confidants. Another student, and human girl, Renee ends up being another close friend.

Hijinx ensue! Time for some more visual assist:



Renee meets our girl Dahlia through her normal university boyfriend. She's super cute and acts about half her age because she wants to get the university experience "just right". Elliott is another supernatural featuring in Dahlia's full supernatural dance card. He is of the mild snark and general hilarity, and claims at times to have brushed elbows with such popular figures as Lord Byron and Bram Stoker.

One of the best parts of this story is that I have clear images for both of these characters. The lovely actors who are acting as muses in my head right now are none other than the lovely Ms Ksenia Solo from Lost Girl and Mr Ian Somerhalder (nicknamed 'Smoulderhalder' with good reason by fellow cast mate AND GIRLFRIEND Nina Dobrev) from The Vampire Diaries. Say what you will about these shows, but these two people are gorgous. Anyone who knows me will know I shamelessly fangirl this TV series that is based on the L. J. Smith series of books from my childhood.

So that's me and mine for in the last little while. More news and excerpts to come next time I get a chance to be on the computer.
persephone20: (Default)
Warning: This is not going to be a nice review. In fact, starting right now, we are going to call this an 'anti-review'. This is not one of those reviews where the reviewer is going to have a couple of problems with the pacing of the story or some of the characters but, overall, the story managed to pull itself together.

Warning the Second: I did recognise, when I picked this book up off the shelves that it was aimed at young adults. I love reading young adult books. I think of the young adult fiction today and I wish that it had been around when I was 16 years old. As it wasn't, I make it up by reading lots of it now. In other parts of this blog, you will find me waxing poetic about authors like Francesca Lia Block, Melissa Marr and Janni Lee Simner.


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To set the scene, I am wandering innocently through the airport with my friend [personal profile] the_bone_yard when suddenly the call of a bookshop proves too strong for us to ignore. The two of us walk in and I get distracted by a book on the New Release stand.

Now, this book is not Hush, Hush, but rather the third book in the trilogy, Crescendo. I shall get back to that again later.

Weaving my way further into the shop, I find that, right up against the very back wall, there is a couple of copies of the second book. This should have been my first hint: right up against the very back wall. Not only that but, when I move the second book to read the back of it, I find the first book craftily hidden.

Lucky! I think to myself. I read the blurb of the first book. And then I read the blurb of second and third books over again, in order this time.

My Thoughts upon Reading the Blurbs: Oh goodness! This is so brilliant. The first book looks like it's going to run like City of Angels, minus the depressing resignation I feel every time I see that picture of stupid Meg Ryan closing her eyes and taking her hands off the handle bars on the back of the DVD case. What did you think was going to happen, Meg?

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But, Oho! I think, as I look again upon the second and third books. That there are two sequels means that the main character must live past the end of the first book. She doesn't take her hands off the handlebars, close her eyes and look up into the sky because, well gosh, it's such a lovely day. And so we'll have two more books in which to explore what should have happened in City of Angels.

I'm so excited I can barely think straight. I picture me closing myself up in my bedroom, putting on my copy of the City of Angels soundtrack for background music and ambiance, before indulging in my guiltiest little pleasure since The Vampire Diaries.

The prologue of Becca's Hush, Hush is very good. It conveys a sense of scene very well, though touches lightly enough on the characters that I am sitting there wanting to know more about them. I am invested within these 5 pages, and am looking forward to more.

It's a pity, then, that there is no indication for the next 100 pages where this scene in the prologue is meant to fit in.

Instead, we begin to follow the every day life of a teenage school girl in whom a supernatural type figure has become fascinated with before ever even once speaking to her. I think, at one point, he says something along the lines of, "You're fascinating. I knew you would be."

.... How??!!

This is something that is not explained. I have read enough books like this in the last 12 years to know, by now, it is never explained. Anywhere in all the world for an immortal man to go, and he'll always choose the high school full of teenaged girls. Not creepy, guys. Not creepy at all.

In hindsight, I suspect my disappointment in this book had more to do with what I saw as misrepresentation of the back cover blurbs. Usually, I don't read them. I go on suggestions on what to read next by other writers or friends who have similar tastes. But I'd never heard of Becca's books before, and so I read the blurbs.

Truthfully, this book will probably be found thrilling by readers of Twilight. Many of the same tropes are used in both.
persephone20: (lanterns)
I sincerely love this blog that @gailcarriger has incidentally gotten me onto.

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http://steampunkscholar.blogspot.com.au/

In the most recent post, he writes about Gail Carriger's steampunk novel, the beginning of the Parasol Protectorate series, Soulless, compares it to Bram Stoker's Dracula and draws parallels between the New Woman of works written 100 years ago and now but set in the same time. The combination of contemporary content and academic exploration makes this a blog after my own heart!

Also on the site, he has tabs for both primary and secondary sources for her steampunk PhD for people to trawl through.

One of the recent posts up there is on Sherlock Holmes: The Breath of God by Guy Adams, which I'm just about to read and didn't even know about till I found this blog.
persephone20: (Default)
This is an excerpt from a poem I am reading for my last Honours class: Aurora Leigh, by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, but oh, I wish I could write like this.

And I, so young then, was not sullen. Soon
I used to get up early, just to sit
And watch the morning quicken in the grey,
And hear the silence open like a flower,
Leaf after leaf,–and stroke with listless hand
The woodbine through the window, till at last
I came to do it with a sort of love,
At foolish unaware: whereat I smiled,–
A melancholy smile, to catch myself
Smiling for joy.

...

Often we walked only two,
If cousin Romney pleased to walk with me.
We read, or talked, or quarrelled, as it chanced;
We were not lovers, nor even friends well-matched–
Say rather, scholars upon different tracks,
And thinkers disagreed; he, overfull
Of what is, and I, haply, overbold
For what might be.
persephone20: (a tree)
This book is like Francesca Lia Block and Melissa Marr teamed up to write the book of my dreams.

Well no, actually, it's not as good as all that. But it has elements of both writers which is giving me a nostalgic zing. The intrigue of a Faerie book written after a War between humans and faeries sometime in the near future keeps me turning pages.

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Actually, I can do better than that. In my teenage years, I read a lot of books by Sherryl Jordan. While a beautifully evocative author, her books were a little bit sameish on theme: stories were often about outcasts and, much of the time, they would be set in some post-apocalyptic world/historical world. Both backdrops had much the same feeling.

With Janni Lee's first book, Bones of Faerie, I'm getting a bit of that vibe. The main character, Liza, is an immediately sympathetic character. Supporting characters are vivid. It is not just the bits and pieces of information on the humans vs faeries War that keeps me turning pages.

I know that, in a year or so, Melissa Marr's first book Wicked Lovely is going to be released as a movie. Around that time, there is going to be multitudes of fanfic flying up all over the place. In the meantime, though, this book is making me want to take that characters from that universe (because I am too busy to think up original characters, naturally) and put them into the situation of War against the humans. \

A part of me is hoping that Janni Lee's sequel novel, Faerie Winter, is going to be a prequel -- much like Malinda Lo's Huntress was a prequel/sequel of her Cinderella story Ash -- but a bigger part of me somehow doubts it.
persephone20: (quantum gravity)
I work in a sci-fi / fantasy specialist bookshop so, it shouldn't come as a surprise, I tend to end up giving recommendations of books to read to friends of mine fairly often. Especially when they are visiting from Canberra. Especially when they are living with us in our house ;)

A couple of months ago, I gave such a recommendation to [profile] ingysledge which, in turn, gave her an idea of the kinds of books I might like.

Now, I don't like sci-fi. Fantasy is more my thing and reasons such as greater character development and aspects of romance, as opposed to machinery and technology, are my reasons. However, when Ingrid suggested Keeping It Real by Justine Robson, I decided I'd give it a go.

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For the first 50 pages, I was having moments of "Oh, yeah this isn't so bad.... hah, that line was actually quite good! ... don't know why I'm still reading this book really... oh, there's a reason. Pity the whole book isn't like this". I likewise suffered to about page 100, and here was where the cartoon light turned on above my head.

145 pages in, I looked down to the page number to realise, with some surprise, that I hadn't put the book down in almost 50 pages. This shit just got really good.

What is this book about? Well, it's probably going to come as a real fucking surprise to see that I like faery fiction. The premise of the Quantum Gravity series, of which Keeping It Real is just the first, is that a bomb some time in the not too distant future has gone off and disintegrated all of the barriers between Earth, or Otopia as it is now called, and other realms, including the faery realm, the elvish realm, the demon realm and that of the elementals. Oh, and our main character is a cyborg.

I now think, given I know how the end of the book rounds off, that the first 100 pages are going to improve immensely through knowing what is about to happen and seeing all the signs of foreboding in the text.

To my excitement, I realised that this was not just a trilogy, but a first book in a series of five so far that have been released. To my disappointment, however, this first book is not a stand alone. For sure, it ties up many of the loose ends but, for the characters, there are many openings left to be explored in later books.

So, as today is a public holiday and the public libraries are not open, I am suffering to write down my thoughts of the book I currently have, and making plans in the direction of the local library tomorrow afternoon.
persephone20: (the last thing you'll ever see)
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Tonight's premier episode was so amazing. Aaaaand... it's got me finally reading the books.
persephone20: (the last thing you'll ever see)
I just recently purchased one of the signed hard cover editions of 'Darkest Mercy', waiting patiently -and sometimes not so patiently- for it to be shipped over and arrive here in Australia. When it did arrive, I hugged the book to me for a while, and then commenced reading it. Had I not had work towards my English Honours to get done, it would not have been closed again before I finished it.

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I was raving about this series online last night, but the re-tweet I just received that acted in reply to a separate question just about made my morning.

Me: @melissa_marr did polyamory!!! An author of YA fiction did polyamory without stuffing it up!!
Melissa: Belated reply 2 "what r the boundaries in YA?" RT: @persephone20: "@melissa_marr did polyamory!!! An author of YA fiction did polyamory..."


Two things are amazing about this. One: an author that I think a lot of -and would love to study next year in regards to the re-emergence of faerie fiction, particularly in YA fiction- read my comment and replied to me, and Two: it feels like times, they may be a-changing.

That a YA author would not only just bring out a series of books where a polyamorous trio featured as part of a main section of plot, but would then announce that it is a boundary that can easily be crossed in YA seems like a fantastic step into the future for me.

For a while now, I have been looking with dissatisfaction at the common 'love triangle' trope that seems to appear again and again and again in both books and TV shows in the YA genre. Lately, that trope's been becoming a little bit more interesting in such TV shows as Glee where one side of the current love triangle is a girl who's in love with her best friend (another girl).

I guess for me, seeing polyamoury being written into a book like this, without fanfare or controversy, feels to me like I imagine it might have felt to others when the first gay/lesbian couples started appearing in novels as just another option on the kinds of romantic relationships that can be had between people. In Melissa's books, this touching relationship was shown as neither good, nor bad, but just as three people who happened to all love each other individually, having many of the same concerns within that trio as would be had between a couple.

In short: Go Melissa. I think you're doing a great job and I cannot wait to get my hands on the last of the manga books in your 'Desert Tales' series.

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persephone20: (a tree)
I've just started reading Dracula and Bronte's Villette for the next couple of weeks of Victorian and Gothic literature classes. Before that, I believe there was The Lifted Veil and half a dozen short stories by Poe. All of these are written in first person narrative. Most of these have a completely ho-hum normal beginning before everything gets uncanny or at least, in the case of Villette, before the romantic interest makes an appearance.

I'd been wanting to write something to begin this journal as a creative outlet and these books I've been reading have ended up shaping the form of it.

This will likely be pretty rough. It is not the usual tone I use for my writing.



April 7th
I haven't thought of this story for many years. For a long time, I remember going to therapy. It turned out I wasn't much good at therapy. Seems I wouldn't 'apply myself' to getting to the bottom of repressed memories. That's that the round man in the tweed suit with suede elbows commonly told me. I can tell you exactly how much that showed how much he was listening to his patient.

For me, there were no repressed memories. There were, in fact, no memories there to be repressed. I told him exactly what I remembered -- that I had been brought back into the world I knew by my friend (no, I couldn't say which friend, she isn't exactly the kind you could contact), I knew we were running, and that we were relieved when we got me back here. She couldn't stay though, but she'd never be far -- but apparently this story left too many gaps in the narrative that I should clearly be able to fill in. I'm sorry, I had not realised that this was a writing your life class. I thought I had come in for a therapy session.

I stopped going to the therapist in the tweed suit with suede elbows very soon after it became clear that he could not help me. And he was overcharging.

I rented a flat near the city after that. For some reason, the idea of nameless, faceless people, but a lot of them, all around me, all the time, made me feel safe. The flat was one bedroom in a loft over the small kitchen / living room area, and when I went to sleep up there, I felt like I was on top of the world. No one could touch me here. My living room was barely ever used. I would eat my breakfast of toast and coffee in front of my computer that was set on a desk next to my bed and, after getting dressed, I would take the bus to work.

My work was never a terribly interesting place of occupation, but it was money. The boss did not treat his staff terribly, and it was not so far from home.

Of an evening, I would walk through the park near my house. Sometimes, when I had a book with me, I would sit and read underneath one of the oaks until the last of the light to read by faded, and I would walk the rest of the two blocks that would take me home.

Why do I tell you all of this? It is not to bore you, merely to show you how ordinary my life was. You see, the memories that my ex-therapist had been so concerned with came back. Oh, they hadn't been repressed, I knew that for sure the minute they were returned to me.
persephone20: (a tree)
I've just had The Autumn Castle, by Australian writer Kim Wilkins, recommended to me by [profile] teknohippi. It has completely absorbed me from first page to about half way through fourth chapter when Fergie interrupted the flow of my reading to ask me something before. Very well written, very much making me want to keep reading to see where it goes. Depictions of characters are a little bit on the light side but there's enough given to keep you engaged.

I didn't know, when I picked this up, that it had a large portion of it set in the Faery world. I remember, a couple of years ago, it was nearly impossible to pick up faery fiction. Now it seems to be about as popular as vampire fiction, with as much variation given in authors' discretion over how to represent these creatures, and the good ones seem to keep gravitating towards me.

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It's something I can live with, actually.
persephone20: (a tree)
I love Melissa Marr.

After at first being loaned the first book in the series by the friend of an ex-housemate of mine, I have since sought out that book, the rest of the series, including the eBook editions that have been promoted on her livejournal and graphic novels that she's released in the same world.

But the reason I make this post is because of a conversation I was having with [personal profile] coquilleon yesterday (one of many, so many, conversations) about how the gay element is getting represented more and more often in teen shows. We had it in Buffy, which was the first time I really noticed it but that reveals my age more than anything else. There's been Skins; at the moment there is Glee, and we were talking about an interview where they'd posited introducing it in The Vampire Diaries (which I think could be amazingly interesting, if only because it's something that wasn't acknowledged in the books).

At this, I believe my retort was that it would be nice to see polyamorous... arrangements represented, then lightly tagged that it would probably be another couple of decades until we got to the point with polyamory in the media that we are currently at with gay representation. At which the fast becoming stock-standard of polyamory, Big Love, was paraded, and I grouched about that, then went to bed.

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Heading gradually back around to the first line of this post: I love Melissa Marr. On the eBooks that I have collected from her is the mini series 'Stopping Time' that follow on from her full length novel Ink Exchange. Now this is a great little bit just because it shows the love felt for one character by two different characters, without the need to make it into a love triangle where one gets the girl and the other.. well, doesn't. And as I'm reading this morning's review of the conclusion to Marr's series -linked by Melissa herself- I find myself getting a little excited.

Certain... "er... arrangements" are said to be satisfied in this book. Pairings and... "er... arrangements", and this gives me hope, not the least for a new variation in an old staple of young adult books. But also for having a chance to see my lifestyle represented in the fiction I choose to read.

And while there's a part of me that can't help but think I've horribly recontextualised Marr's meaning in the writing of this .... arrangement, for myself I choose live in hope!
persephone20: (lanterns)
I turned to [personal profile] the_bone_yard as I started writing this this morning to say 'Man, I really need to stop writing this depressing shit'. So this is the low mood of the vignettes. There's been too many vignettes were all the fairies concerned were kind and lovely people. Makes me sad like sparkly vampires.

Ahem. Don't know if this was inspired by anything beyond the last vignette, really, but I was reading Yeats' Celtic Twilight this morning and also Lady Gregory's Visions and Beliefs of the West of Ireland.



This was the story of the Summer Girl, how she came to Fairyland, and how she had gained the attentions of King Finvarra. It is a story she would have told herself, if she had been able to remember it.

For the most part, she remembered silence. Not so long ago, there had been the voices of others, later the sounds of revelry, but now, nothing. Just silence, in an opulent room of which she was the only occupant. That wasn't always the case. Betimes, the fairy king would return to the room, and then she would be whirled into a too brief time of sound and colour, all previous points of reference forgotten until, once more, silence.

She couldn't remember how long the silence had gone on this time. It seemed like a while, long enough that when a sudden break came to silence, she startled. Immediately, her eyes looked for the king, but he was not there. It was not the kind of sound from a door opening, or even a footstep. The sound originated in her head. A voice, like from before.

"He didn't expect I would come back."

The voice was strained, drawing to her mind's eye a conversation in images that already seemed to be halfway through a story. Through him, she remembered herself, but that did nothing to help the lone figure staggering through a wilderness that even she could not see the end of, with nothing but dry sand for miles, and hot grit burning the undersides of his feet. He was tired, bone tired, and had been travelling so long already.

Her shock gave way to a shuddering sob.

"Don't think of it. There was nothing you could do."

Before she could argue, she received a string of images, of the young girls who had been Summer Girls before she, girls that the king had stolen away from others, decked in the finest of clothes and jewels until his interest in them waned. She looked down at herself, decked as she was in the finest of clothes and jewels.

"You can get out of there." From the determination in the strain in his voice, she came to realise his link to her was keeping him going. She resolved no argue with him no more after that; wouldn't risk taking even that much of his strength from the journey back. Instead, she kept on talking to him, quoting poetry remembered from high school to him, anything that would distract him from his long journey that would bring him back to her. Meantime, as she kept tight hold of that contact, she launched herself away from the king's bed, as though stung, covered herself and exited the manor via shadows and doorways.

"Think not of it sweet one so. Give it not a tear; sigh though mayest and bid it go any-- anywhere--"

As she continued, tears choked her thoughts, filled her eyes and overflowed to her face. He spoke back to her too, when he could.

"Remember... Do you remember where we used to meet... the old building... Do you remember it?"

"Of course. Yes!"

"There we will meet. Tell no one."

He was silent thereafter for the longest time. Tears burned down her cheeks over fairy cruelty and deception, for there was no doubt in her who had delivered Him so far and thought he'd not come back. For a long time, she sat alone in the old building, waiting and hardly daring to hope. When the sound of leaves crunching outside the building touched her ears, she stood, wiping tears with both heels of her hands, and fear and hopefulness vied for first emotion.

Despite that, she knew she could take the few steps to the front of the building if He had actually found his way back here. She pulled herself to the doorway, bracing herself as best she could for the eventuality that the king of the fairies had found her. She had no time for relief when she rushed forward to break his fall from his last unsteady steps.

"I found you," he croaked, and his voice in her ears this time was the sweetest thing she'd heard by far.

"Come on, please. Just a little further," she said, already starting to bring him closer to inside the building, and looking furtively over his shoulder just in case. But no, this was their safe place, theirs alone. And, with her help and the last of his strength, they found shelter together within the walls of the old building where they would not easily be found by the King Finvarra.
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