Guest Interview – Jaleta Clegg

jaletacleggmedJaleta Clegg loves telling stories ranging from aliens and spaceships to magic and unicorns to elves and airships to monsters and mayhem. Her published works include space opera with the Fall of the Altairan Empire series, steampunk fairies in Dark Dancer, and silly horror short stories. When not writing, she enjoys watching good bad movies, crocheting stuff out of yarn, and messing in the kitchen inventing new dishes.

She lives in Washington state with a diminishing horde of children, too many pets, and a very patient husband.

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First, tell us a little about yourself and what originally inspired you to write your first book.

I’ve always loved storytelling, but hated writing things out by hand and all the mistakes I made with typewriters led to typing anxiety. It wasn’t until we bought our first computer, a used Commodore128 at a garage sale, that I felt free enough to really start writing. On the computer, mistakes were temporary. Rewriting was effortless. Words could just flow! Except, I had four little kids at the time. We had just moved to a new neighborhood. I needed to escape. So I escaped into my own head. I started writing. Within six months, I’d finished a fantasy trilogy rough draft, edited it, rewritten it, and was ready to move on to other things. I started a science fiction novel. Life happened. I was interrupted. But I kept pecking away at my novels, here and there, sometimes setting them aside for months, until I had eleven finished books in a series. That was when I decided to pursue publishing. So in a nutshell, my stories are my self-therapy and escape.

What is the project you are working on now and where did the idea come from?

I’m currently in the middle of a story tentatively titled Desert Lighthouse. I had this image in my head of a lighthouse in the middle of a desert. What kind of story could I tell about that? Who would build it there? And why? The questions bothered me enough that I started pulling together a story. It’s a strange one, with several different storylines that all weave together. Eventually.

colorful blue snowflake fractalI’m also working on the sequel to Dark Dancer. I loved the idea of steampunk elves and magic from the first book and wanted to go back to that world. I also realized I left a lot of the story untold and unfinished. Hopefully Winterqueen’s War will fill in a lot of the holes.

I’m also working on a series of stories set in the fictional kingdom of Merkady where the humans have died out leaving behind Humankin, animals that look almost human, and Altereds, animals that can talk and think like people but still look like the original animals. I have a few characters that want me to tell their stories – a rattlesnake fighting for equal rights for Altereds and a bunny Humankin superspy. And don’t let me forget my version of Sinbad in that world, a leopard with a walrus first mate. I can’t wait to get to his story.

I think I have a problem with too many projects going on at the same time.

What authors have inspired you, and why?

I blame Andre Norton. I discovered her books when I was young and impressionable. It amazed me that people wrote stories about aliens and space travel and magic and monsters that weren’t aimed at kids. Her books led me to others by Asimov, Zelazny, Heinlein, Jack Chalker, and others. I haunted the small science fiction section of our library until I’d read all the books they had. But I wanted more.

I found Julie Czerneda and Elizabeth Moon. These women wrote the kinds of books I wanted to write. They told stories that I loved reading. I found Terry Pratchett, Robert Asprin, Douglas Adams, and Piers Anthony and realized humor could be part of science fiction and fantasy. I found other new authors who inspired me to keep writing and pursuing publication, namely Francis Pauli and Paul Genesse. I met Brandon Sanderson and Larry Correia, who never looked down on me, a newbie author, but instead gave me kind words and friendship. I could keep going with the list of authors I love, the ones who keep me reading and keep me dreaming, but the list would just keep going.

What was your hardest scene to write?

Can a whole book count? I really struggled with Chain of Secrets, the eighth book in my series. It’s a dark point in the overall story. Dace, the main character, is struggling with everything, nothing seems to be going right. The whole book was pretty dark, but when I go back and read it again, I love it. It’s about struggling to overcome, about doing what’s right even when it might cost you your life, about dealing with loss and betrayal. It’s about becoming a better person, about being true to your innermost self. It’s also about family and the ties we choose to bind ourselves with. The emotions were powerful and very hard to deal with when I was writing. I’m a very private person, so writing those raw emotions was a lot like walking outside naked. I have a tendency to shy away from the emotions, to put distance between my character and their feelings, so in editing I have to be brutal about closing that distance. Because I know the end result will be that much stronger.

When it’s time to create something new, what is your process?

I start with a scene or a character or sometimes just a line. Then I just write until I start to see a shape to the story. At that point, I usually need to set it aside for a while to let the story ferment and develop. Once I can feel the general shape of the outline, I can write it. With some short stories, the process takes only a day or less. With some novels, I’m still waiting for the story to gel together. I have found if I try to force it, I end up with a boring mess of a story.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

I finally mastered fudge! At least the marshmallow creme/chocolate chip version. It’s been my unicorn for a long time. I’d try to make fudge and end up with chocolate frosting. Or I’d make frosting and somehow end up with a layer of fudge on my cake. I recently found a recipe that works for me. Now I can turn out consistently delicious creamy fudge.

I’m also very proud of the anthologies some of my stories have landed in. I have a comedy in the Baen anthology Mission: Tomorrow about a futuristic game show, The Ultimate Space Race, which is also the name of the story. It’s told by an older couple watching the finale together on the couch. Everything is branded, sponsored, trademarked, and commercialized. Kind of a snarky look at the future, but that’s where I see it headed.

I’m also the proud author of the obligatory fart joke cthulhu story, A Brown and Dismal Horror, in the Redneck Eldritch collection. Yes, my reign as Queen of the Fart Joke is far from over.

And I recently finished an afghan that I love. Crocheting those things take hours and hours, about four seasons of the X-files worth of hours.

0420181101What do you want to be when you grow up?

Yes, I really want to be Han Solo when I grow up. I want my own beat-up spaceship and my own Wookie best friend. I want to explore new worlds and have adventures. If I can’t have the Millenial Falcon, I’ll settle for Wolf’s ship, and his company, from Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone, one of my all-time favorite movies. Or maybe I’ll go off adventuring with Captain Jack Sparrow on the Black Pearl. Or maybe I’ll just make up more stories of adventure and pretend they’re real. That’s really why I write.

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New Release from Jaleta Clegg!

Bundle Herebefairies

Fairies, fair folk, imps, trolls, and pixies—they haunt our myths from Ireland to Iceland and everywhere else. Join in the fairy fun, or fairy fear, as good, bad, and mischievous they show themselves. Dare you take the trip to Fairyland? No one who returns is ever quite the same.

On sale for a limited time!

https://bundlerabbit.com/b/here-be-fairies?nocache=1

Dark Dancer –

The Seligh crushed,
The captives found,
The barrier broken,
The balmorae freed.

A strange prophecy haunts the Seligh lords, rulers of the Fey and controllers of all magic in the Summerlands, a prophecy that foretells their fall.

A banished Seligh lord rules the Winterlands with an iron fist and his pets, the balmorae, patrol the borders against all intruders, guarding the secrets hidden beneath his icy lair.

A young woman rediscovers her heritage, a gift of magic and dancing that opens portals between worlds. She holds their fate in her hands. All who live within the lands of the Fey must choose where they stand—beside the Dancer or opposed to her.

And trust that she won’t destroy their world.

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To connect with Jaleta, go visit her at her sites:

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Join the discussion by commenting below!

 

 

 

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2018 Reading List

While lots of people spend hours, if not days, deciding on goals for the new year. I spend days figuring out my reading list. It’s a very involved process that includes pouring over “Books You Must Read Before You Die” lists, searching through releases by fellow author friends, and finding the lost desperate papery souls on my Goodreads “Want to Read” list.

51jWBJa-X-L._SX345_BO1,204,203,200_Then there’s all the hot new books from 2017 that I probably missed… When you’ve got kids home more often than not, quality reading time is hard to find.

Out of the fifty or so titles making up the preliminary list, only twenty-four can survive the final cut. Twelve fiction. Twelve non fiction. Could I read more? Yes, absolutely. However, the best part of the reading experience is spending time sinking into a story and relishing each page. I can’t do that if I’m stressing out about finishing in time.

January’s selections are Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert and Strunk and White’s Elements of Style – reviews to come, stay tuned!

2018 (Mostly) Fiction Titles. Drum roll, please:

Bel Canto – Ann Patchett
Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
Man from Shenandoah – Marsha Ward
Heroes of the Valley – Jonathan Stroud
A Darker Shade of Magic – V E Schwab
Stardust – Neil Gaiman
Looking for Alaska – John Green
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – Jonathan A Safran Foer
Forest of Hands and Teeth – Carrie Ryan
Man Called Ove – Fredrik Backman
Never Let me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro

2018 Non Fiction Titles. Kazoo chorus, please:

The Question of God – Armand M Nicholi, Jr
Worlds of Wonder: How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy – David Gerrold
Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor Frankl
Stiff: Curious Lives of Human Cadavers – Mary Roach
Lucifer Principle – Howard Bloom
Outliers – Malcolm Gladwell
Eats, Shoots, and Leaves – Lynne Truss
Power Cues – Nick Morgan
The Gift of Fear– Gavin De Becker
Rules for a Knight – Ethan Hawke
Be Different – John Elder Robison

3264344How about you, dear reader? What titles have made your “Must be read” list this year?

Have you read any of the books on my list? If so, what did you think?

Let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!

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Don’t like missing out? Of course not. Neither do I. If you’d like to be notified of new posts be sure to like and subscribe to the blog posts here, or leave a like at my Facebook page.

Sigil in Shadow by Constance Roberts

Sigil in Shadow WEB ONLY

Let’s review a book, shall we? First things first, the important stuff. Sigil in Shadow is a YA fiction novel set in a time period where royal intrigues between princesses and commoners can take place.  At a smidgen over 250 pages, it’s a good length and it definitely doesn’t get boring.

I was given an advanced reader copy in exchange for a fair review. 🙂

On to the story!

This lovely back cover copy does a lovely job of summing up the story without spoilers –

“Ellary Dane knows she deserves to die – but not for a crime she didn’t commit.

She believes her 19 year streak of bad luck is over when she accidentally saves the life of a highborn officer and is taken to court to study under the tutelage of the most renowned healer in the kingdom. Suspicions surround her sudden presence, making her more enemies than allies. She soon finds herself ripped from her warm palace sheets and thrown into a dank prison cell.

 As nobles vie for their spot on the throne, Ellary learns she is bound to a secret history that could change the kingdom forever. If she is going to break her chains, she must trust the stranger labeled as her accomplice and face the lie that pushed her into the silent warfare of highborn society.”

Ok, now for the good stuff. This book has great prose and it’s a nice read for the imagery alone. The characters are enjoyable and well-rounded. Ellary herself has strength and a good heart, although she is a touch paranoid about her big secret being discovered. In her situation, I would be too.

Is this a perfect story? Nope. But, let’s be honest, perfect stories are predictable and boring. In this story, Ellary has all sorts of challenges to overcome. While she does conquer her biggest challenge which revolves around how to maintain her integrity while being forced into a social position where she doesn’t belong, she fails many smaller but super significant challenges.

 

I would recommend this book to readers who love royal intrigue, Cinderella stories, and a strong female lead.

 

Sigil in Shadow can be found on Amazon. 

Want to see more from this author? Here’s her website.

Fresh Fantasy: Shadows of Angels by L. G. Rollins

There’s nothing better than a book you can sink into, one that grabs your attention and wrestles you for your time until you finish. L. G. Rollins debut fantasy novel does just that.

I have read my fair share of fantasy. I write the stuff, I owe it to myself and my future readers to stay on top of the latest and best there is out there.

When the author, who also happens to be one of my critique buddies, asked me to be a part of her blog tour to announce the release of her first novel, I had to say yes!

I’ve known Laura for several years and can honestly say that she’s got what it takes to spin a riveting story.

Shadows of Angels Cover

My Review: Shadows of Angels is a mix of magic and intrigue. The main character, Aerbrin, faces a life full of new challenges when her father is murdered and leaves her rightful owner of his mysterious and powerful Zaad stone. She must survive against all the forces who would force it from her.

The story has surprises right and left, including people who aren’t who they say, inventive and terrifying  magical creatures, and cursed places that exist to destroy the pure in heart.

If I were to compare it to anything, I’d say it would be like a darker version of the 1986 cult classic movie Labyrinth if it were directed by Guillermo del Toro. There’s no maze, but there is a dream trance place where stolen memories are hidden away. Very cool stuff. And as a bonus, Aerbrin is much stronger and more clever than Labyrinth’s Sarah (Jennifer Connelly).

If you like reading well-written books that have lots of thrilling near death experiences, kings in hiding, noble men, plenty of magic, and unique fantasy settings, this book is perfect for you. Oh, and I should mention that this is a clean read, meaning no profanity or explicit anything. There is a fair amount of tastefully executed violence.

However, if you shy away from characters in pain, need a strong romantic side story to keep you interested, or can’t stand powerful magical characters, you may need to steer clear of this book.

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Because I love you – check out this exerpt:

Stay calm, her father’s words echoed in her head. When you find yourself in danger, above all, stay calm. Aerbrin took a deep, steady breath and leaned down, reaching for her bow. one of the Forest Dwellers charged. It collided with her and knocked her to the floor. Raising a knotted fist, he bashed her head.

Sparks exploded across her vision. She tried to raise an arm, tried to call out. Her body wouldn’t respond. The Forest Dwellers grunted again. The creature above her raised its fist again. She looked up. This was the end, she knew. When these monsters attacked, they killed everything. Animals, plants, and particularly humans. No one survived.

Closing her eyes, Aerbrin forced her body to relax. This time, there was no pain.”

About the Author:

L. G. Rollins grew up in a far off land fighting dragons, stealing talismans, and traveling with dwarfs and elves. She is especially skilled at bribing giants with sweets. Currently, her husband and four kids live in Utah so that is where she spends most of her time. She may, or may not, have a Zaad Stone. To learn more about L. G. Rollins and her books visit LGRollins.com. Shadows of Angels comes out December 8th and is the beginning of the Zaad Stone trilogy.

 

Shadows of Angels Blog Tour Image.jpg

Book of the Month: Going Postal by Terry Pratchett

Discworld_Postal

“Discworld Postal” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Discworld_Postal.jpg#/media/File:Discworld_Postal.jpg

As part of the ever popular Discworld series, Going Postal marks the 33rd novel that takes place in the world.  I love the writing of Terry Pratchett and was very happy to return to one of his novels after not having the pleasure of reading one for a long time. His passing this year was felt deeply by his adoring fans.

The book is about a con man with the unfortunate name of Moist von Lipwig, which was never a problem to him because he always used an alias. That is, until his crimes caught up with him and he was given the option of a government job or death. Being a reasonable man, he chose the job figuring that the first minute no one was watching he could slip away and return to his dishonest ways.

However, what he didn’t expect was a magical golem as a parole officer who could track him tirelessly across oceans if the need existed. He learns this the hard way when Mr. Pump hauls both him and his horse bodily back to the defunct post office where Moist has been forced to serve as Post Master.

Half the fun of the book is in the unpredictable and amazing world that Pratchett has created. This post office hasn’t delivered a piece of mail in decades and the backed up mail has been stuffed into every nook and cranny, every spare office and attic space, until immense glaciers have formed.

Moist is determined to make his new job work, but more importantly, he is determined to make a buck or two in the process.

My Review:

It is a delight to read the work of a master who truly excels at his craft. Pratchett has a knack for creating terribly flawed characters who are both charming and charismatic in unexpected ways. They are not your typical heroes or villains, but real people with real issues that are often really funny.

These people are set into a fully fleshed and intriguing world where magic is real but very practical. Discworld is an amazing place and it is clear that Pratchett knows every facet of the place down to the heights of the gutters and species of birds that frequent the financial district.

Prachett is talented enough to make a whole book work with just interesting people wandering around this magical place. However, he has also created a story that is both fresh and fun. There are the dark powers behind the scenes who think they have everything under control – and they don’t. There are the businesses of the post office and the clacks towers, an equivalent of the telegraph, running neck and neck against each other, and there’s Moist who is trying to make the best of it all.

I give this book 5 stars – it is masterfully written and delightfully conceived.

Book of the Month: Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

night-circusIt can be dangerous picking books from a list and hoping that they live up to the hype. The Night Circus has appeared over and over on book lover Pinterest boards so I decided it would be worth seeing what the big deal was about. I’m glad to say that this is a book that delivers.

Not too long ago I wrote a post discussing what Magical Realism meant. The Night Circus is a terrific example of magical realism. The story takes place in an ahistorical Victorian London and follows the lives of two young magical proteges. These magicians can perform actual magic and not just feats of illusion. These proteges and their masters create the Night Circus – Le Cirque des Rêves, the Circus of Dreams. A reality defying collection of curiosities that is only open from dusk to dawn.

The circus itself is surreal enough to make for intriguing reading. Among the expected acrobatic acts and contortionists there are tents that are full of the impossible. One is a garden created entirely from ice. Another, a cloud maze where you can fall from incredible heights without the fear of being hurt.

The story weaves it’s way through the lives of two magical proteges. Through the years, Prospero the Enchanter and Mr. A.H. have been locked in a rivalry to prove who is the better, more powerful magician.  Their students, Celia Bowen and Marcos Alisdair are the pawns in a dangerous competition in which they have been groomed their whole lives to play. Except, they are never given the rules of the competition. They must push to find what must be done and are never sure what the next step must be.

My review:

It’s not often when a book takes me by surprise. The Night Circus has an otherworldly quality that makes for perfect escapist reading. I was transported into this alternate world where magic is indeed real and palpable and filled with wonder. The story itself is fresh and full of ideas and creativity that haven’t been seen before, which is a feat in itself seeing how most stories I read are beaten dead from over use.

The best part of the book is the circus itself, the wonder and the thrills contained therein continually change and evolve to captivate and delight both reader and the characters that walk the pages.

I recommend this to anyone who likes magical realism, Cirque du Soleil, and surrealism. For those of you who like their fiction to keep both feel solidly on the ground, this might be a touch cerebral for you.

Like book reviews? Here are a few of my others:

Book of the Month: Redshirts by John Scalzi

91Hx5ImdhzLThis month I ventured into a new and unfamiliar land where reality collided with fiction in a fun and thoughtful way. In the Star Trek universe the sad fact exists that if you are wearing a red shirt and are sent on an away mission, chances are you are going to die.

Scalzi’sRedshirts takes this truth and turns it on it’s head. The crew start asking questions when they notice the abnormally high death rate on their vessel. Crew who aren’t in the officer line have watched their friends leave on away missions never to return. They have learned it’s best to avoid the senior officers at any cost. Being found by one certainly means being assigned to another of these deadly away missions.

Another Star Trek truth that Redshirts makes fun of is the magic box that solves the most insanely complex problem the same way that a microwave heats food.  You insert the correct samples, set the timer for slightly less than when the catastrophe is going to occur, and wait patiently for it to finish. The data it produces is then taken personally to the bridge and presented to the captain, always stating that there is some sort of random made up problem. This is when the captain dramatically looks over the data and within seconds solves the problem, showing just how awesome of a hero he really is.

There are several more of these little gems hidden inside the book, if you want to find them, I suggest you read it.

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Our main character, Dahl, is one of these minor members of the crew who are often targeted. The older crew don’t warn him of the dangers in an attempt to save their own skins and he is assigned to an away mission where he barely survives. When he returns, he wants answers and he demands to be told everything. This line of questioning leads him to the mysterious Jenkins, a hermit who has sealed himself into the utility passages of the ship. Jenkins has a crazy theory that logically explains why the ship works like it does. It’s the alternate reality created when Star Trek was written. Every death, every dramatic rescue, every inconsistent part of their world is there because some writer has invented it to make entertaining television.

Dahl comes up with an insane plan to get it all to stop, and it involves jumping dimensions.

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My Review:

I got a kick out of this book. For anyone who likes Star Trek but finds some of the science and story lines far-fetched, this book is a joy ride. It’s written in a very direct and to the point way, not wasting any time to dwell on the scenery or the deep internal turmoil of the characters.  What I found most unique is that the characters start to become self-aware that they are indeed characters being written. If you like light sci-fi parodies, discussions on inter-dimensional theory, and paradoxes, this is a great book for you.

However – reader be warned. There is a fair amount of rude language sprinkled throughout, enough to make it rated a solid R. There is also casual innuendo, violent (but humorous) death, and an absence of a bad guy. Although I didn’t find it a problem, some might not like the three-part coda ending where after ending of the principle story, there are an additional three sections that explore what happened to three of the minor, but significant characters.

Happy Reading!

Book of the Month – The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Ocean_at_the_End_of_the_Lane_US_Cover

When an author’s name keeps coming up over and over, at book clubs, at conferences, at critique groups, you know there is something special about what they create. Neil Gaiman is one of those authors. This month I explored his book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane.

In this book, an unnamed middle-aged man returns to his childhood neighborhood and finds a mysterious draw to visit an old friend’s house. While he is there he remembers a strange event that happened when he was a boy.

Short on cash, the narrator’s family rents out his bedroom and he must share a room with his younger sister. One of their renters commits suicide in the family car. His death allows a supernatural being to enter the world and strange things start happening.

The narrator goes to his friend Lettie Hempstock’s house at the end of the lane for help. Lettie agrees to help and takes the narrator with her to bind the supernatural spirit back into her own world. In the process, the being sticks the narrator in the foot and anchors a pathway back to the human world in him.

The being returns in the form of the caretaker, Ursula Monkton, that the narrator’s family has hired so that the mother can return to work, proving that the most terrible of terrors is the one that is hiding in your own home and no one believes you about. Ursula is manipulative and soon bends the family into loving her, everyone except the narrator, who she turns the family against.

With the Hempstock’s help, the narrator is able to defeat the villanous Ursula, but it comes at great price. To save the narrator the pain of remembering they alter his memories so that the event is more like a dream that quickly fades.

Every few years he returns to visit, and every few years he is allowed to remember the experience once more only to forget once again the moment he walks away from the house.

There is, of course, much more to the story than this. If you want a more complete synopsis you are welcome to go visit the wiki page.

My Review:

There is a reason that so many people talk about Neil Gaiman’s work, especially around writing circles. He has a talent with language that makes the prose flow beautifully across the page. The ideas that he chooses to weave into each story are unique and intriguing and make the reader question their own realities.

Gaiman’s books are short, making them easy to start and finish in a long evening. Which is a good thing because once you pick one up you won’t want to put it down.

I loved the Ocean at the End of the Lane and can’t wait to pick up another of Gaiman’s books. I recommend this title to those who love well written prose, good vs. evil, and practical magic. Those who don’t like magic, even in small, easy to digest portions, might not like this book.

Book of the Month: Everneath by Brodi Ashton

9413044This month’s book, Everneath, comes from fellow Utah native Brodi Ashton and is the first in the Everneath series.

Twilight fans rejoice! I have found a perfect novel for you. It is loaded with teenage angst, and I mean ANGST. The main character, Nikki Beckett, is in high school when her mother is tragically killed by a drunk driver. Her resulting depression, paired by the belief that her boyfriend has cheated on her, drives her into the lethal clutches of Cole, an Everliving.

Every 100 years the Everliving must feed on the energies of a human host and then that host falls prey to the tunnels, a hellish place where the host is drained of all emotions until they cease to exist. The feed takes 100 years, but in the alternate space of the Everneath time works differently so only six months pass on the surface. The host can choose return to the surface for six months before the tunnels claim them, that is if they can remember any of their life before. Most don’t.

Nikki is an exception. Not only does she survive the feed without aging, she remembers Jack, her boyfriend, and is compelled to return to him. She now has six months to reclaim her life before the tunnels come for her once again. Paired with Jack, she must find a way to survive, and even thrive.

As I said before, this book is perfect for all those Twilight fans out there. There is a supernatural element in Cole, however instead of being a traditional vampire, Cole is what many would call a psychic vampire.  He feeds on the energy and emotions of those around him. There is a troubled love triangle between Cole, Nikki, and Jack, not unlike Jacob, Edward, and Bella. There is a lot of high school drama and as a perk there are nice mythological elements and nods to the myths of Persephone and Eurydice.

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Coolest picture ever.

However, like all books, there are elements in Everneath that might drive readers crazy. Nikki is very similar to Bella, she’s very passive and has a very simple character arc. Her recurring debate is whether to go with Cole and become his queen in the Everneath and have to engage indirectly in his vampire-y ways, or to let the hellish tunnels come and eat her soul. She spends most of the book flip-flopping between the two choices, that is when she isn’t flip-flopping between Jack and Cole.  Jack is the leading quarterback and football prodigy, a personal pet peeve of mine and many readers like me.  Why does the romantic lead always have to be the quarterback? Stereotypes people! Another stereotype is found in the trampy cheerleader who tries to destroy Nikki and Jack’s relationship. Oh, and did I mention that Nikki is devastatingly attractive? Thankfully, she’s not also a cheerleader.

I recommend this book for teenage girls who like a good angst-y story of love and loss. If that’s not you, read at your own risk.

Book of the Month: Existence by David Brin

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Some books are meant to sweep readers away into another world where they can live another life. Then there are those books that exist on a different plane where the concepts are foreign and bizarre and it takes hundreds of pages to start understanding what is actually happening.  Existence is one of those books.

If I were to compare it to other books I’ve read I’d call it Cloud Atlas meets Ender’s Game. It is similar to Cloud Atlas because it combines a handful of storylines that all have a few sparse threads in common. The characters come from vastly different walks of life and most of the interest lies in trying to figure out what’s actually going on. It takes hundreds of pages to find links between the different storylines. It resembles Ender’s Game, not in the edge of your seat thrill ride, but the way that the author introduces his philosophies and ideas about the vast unknown.

To be fair, I haven’t finished reading Existence, yet. It’s long and requires focus and persistence to keep going forward. I can see why many people recommend it, Brin possesses a deep understanding of his world and a keen intellect which is demonstrated in the distinct characters that each play a role in the story.

Do I like it? Yes and no. Yes, the world is fascinating and I really want to see what will happen. I like the questions it asks about the nature of existence and the possibility of life on other worlds, and how to communicate with said life. And no, it’s slow going and almost too intellectual to be a read in a way where the reader can feel truly immersed. The story is so fractured among the different characters that the reader only gets a taste of what’s happening before being shoved somewhere else. To fracture it even further, between each chapter are different seemingly random essays on different facets of existence, discussions between scientists, or meandering thoughts of an autistic person.

I’m looking forward to finishing, nothing would make me happier than for the story to unfold into a brilliant and hard-hitting climax that gives the reader what they came for!

Have you read Existence? Come share your thoughts in the comments!