Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Resa Nelson Interview

Wolf Majick Reviews was happy to sit down with Resa Nelson and ask her a few questions about her Dragon Slayer Series.

Delia: First off could you explain to our readers a little about the “world” you have created?
Resa: Sure!  I think of the world in my Dragonslayer books as a world that’s parallel to ours.  I’ve loved the Viking culture all my life, so I decided to model my world on the beginning of the Viking era.  Vikings valued the law above all else, and their laws were very specific.  In my opinion, Viking women had better rights than American women today because they had the right to get divorced quickly and easily and automatically received custody of their children as well as a good portion of the family wealth.  They didn’t have to go to court.  They didn’t have to fight.  It was their right by law.  This tells me that Viking women were valued by their culture.  Because I write about women who are strong and smart and courageous, I wanted part of my world to include a country that values women and for the rest of the world to be in conflict with that.  It’s also a world where ghosts, dragons, and shapeshifters are real.  But shapeshifting revolves around how you feel and think about others – your thoughts have the power to change how you look and how others look.  So there’s an unwritten law that says you always have the right to change yourself, but you don’t have the right to change others.  So you have to hold your thoughts and feelings close to keep from changing the way other people choose to look.

Delia: What are the books in your series?
Resa: Book 1 is The Dragonslayer’s Sword, where we meet and get to know the main character, Astrid.  Book 2, The Iron Maiden, takes Astrid into new territory, where she learns the rest of the world isn’t as kind to women as her homeland.  Book 3, The Stone of Darkness, takes Astrid deeper into the world, and she comes face-to-face with a dangerous tyrant.  I just finished writing Book 4 a couple of months ago, and my publisher has scheduled it for publication this November.  Book 4 is the final book in the series, and I can’t wait for people to read it!

Delia: Is there anything you hope readers will take away from your series?
Resa: Yes, so many things!  My greatest hope is that girls and women will think about their own worth and to understand or remember that they have a place in the world.  I write a lot about people from other countries.  At first, Astrid wants nothing to do with foreigners because she’s afraid they’ll invade her homeland and destroy it, but she learns to see people from other countries as friends, even when they don’t share a language.  I believe that no matter what country or culture or customs anyone comes from, people all over the world are basically the same – we all want to have a good life and be happy.  I believe we can accomplish more by working together than by working apart.  All of these things are at the heart of the Dragonslayer series.

Delia: How long have you been working on this series?
Resa: A really long time!  It started out as a short story (“The Dragonslayer’s Sword”), which was published in the November 1992 issue of Science Fiction Age magazine.  I never meant for it to be more than one short story.  But a couple of years later, the magazine ran a Readers Top Ten poll, and my story ranked 2nd.  My editor also forwarded a letter he’d received from a B. Dalton bookstore manager who said people kept coming into his store wanting to buy my dragonslayer novel.  He wanted to know how to order it, but I hadn’t written a novel yet – just the short story!  So that told me that all my readers are smarter than I am.  They were seeing something in the story that I wasn’t.  So I spent 8 years trying to figure out what that was.  Once I did, I decided that I’d only write a novel based on my Dragonslayer story if I could come up with an idea that I loved with my whole heart.  Once I started writing Book 1, I realized I had a series.  So from the publication of the first Dragonslayer short story to the publication of the final book in the series, it’s been about 20 years!

Delia: Do you have a favorite character to right?
Resa: Because my novels tend to be dark, I throw in as much humor as often as possible to lighten things up.  There are two characters (Astrid thinks of them as Lumpy and Broken Nose) who are brigands.  They show up in every book except Book 2, I think.  They’re men who act like an old married couple, always bickering and finding fault with each other.  They always make me laugh out loud.

Delia: What about the hardest character?
Resa: That’s probably my main character Astrid, because she learns so much.  Throughout the series I was constantly thinking about her frame of mind and what she’s learning and how she’s processing everything that happens to her.  It always felt like a balancing act.

Delia: Do you believe in magic?
Resa: I believe there’s a lot we don’t know about energy, and I think there’s a lot that happens in the world that we currently call “magic” that probably has to do with energy.  I think someday people will delve deeper into the science of energy, which will explain a lot of what we don’t understand today.  So I absolutely believe in magic (I think of it as the science of energy), and I believe in the future people will laugh at us for not understanding it in the same way that people today laugh at the old belief that the world was flat and you could sail off the edge of it.

Delia: Have you spent any time working as a blacksmith or done any sword crafting?
Resa: I haven’t worked with swords, but when I was doing research for my first Dragonslayer novel I took a course in blacksmithing.  I thought, How can I write about a woman who’s a blacksmith unless I try it myself?  I learned so much!  All of my classmates were big, burly men, and I had to figure out how to keep up with them.  That had a huge influence on Astrid.  The funny thing is that after I took the course I discovered I come from a long line of blacksmiths and that there are three generations in my extended family who are blacksmithing today!  It makes me wonder if something like genetic memory made me want to write about a blacksmith.

Delia: Where can readers find more information about you and your books?
Resa: At my website:  http://www.resanelson.com

Delia: Do you have any suggestion for aspiring writers?
Resa: What I’ve noticed is that writers who get published tend to have two things in common:  (1) They constantly work at the craft of writing, and (2) they refuse to give up, no matter what.  I’ve seen many extremely talented writers give up too soon and too easily.

Thanks so much Resa for stopping by! Be sure to check out my reviews of her books and her bio info below.

Resa Nelson Bio
Resa Nelson has been selling fiction professionally since 1988. She is a longtime member of SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) and is a graduate of the Clarion SF Workshop.

Resa was also the TV/Movie Columnist for Realms of Fantasy magazine for 13 years and was a contributor to SCI FI magazine. She has sold over 200 articles to magazines in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Her first novel, The Dragonslayer’s Sword, was nominated for the Nebula Award and was also a Finalist for the EPPIE Award. This medieval fantasy novel is based on a short story first published in the premiere issue of Science Fiction Age magazine and ranked 2nd in that magazine's first Readers Top Ten Poll. The Dragonslayer's Sword is Book 1 in her 4-book Dragonslayer series. Book 2, The Iron Maiden, was published last December, Book 3 was published in May, and the final book in the series is scheduled for publication in November.

Resa's standalone novel, Our Lady of the Absolute, is a fantasy/mystery/thriller about a modern-day society based on ancient Egypt. Midwest Book Review gave this book a 5-star review, calling it "a riveting fantasy, very highly recommended."
Resa lives in Massachusetts.

The Stone of Darkness ~ Resa Nelson

The Stone of Darkness (Dragonslayer, #3)The Stone of Darkness by Resa Nelson
4 stars

Astrids world has twisted and turned since she headed with the child seller towards her new life as a blacksmiths assistant. In the first two books we have followed Astrid as she grows into womanhood and starts her adult life first as a blacksmith and then as a dragons layer, well actually lizard slayer. Now Astrid is faced with pondering her own death, or lack there of, and her place in the world yet again.

The world seems to be changing all around her. With a "New God" making his way in the land a woman's place is becoming increasingly at risk. Astrid must again fight not only for herself  but for those she has come to love and trust.

This was another fantastic book in a great series. The dragons slayer series is a must read for any fantasy lover. Check out Resa Nelsons interview and be sure to stop by Goodreads for the STone of Darkness Giveaway!

Resa Nelson’s links:
Resa’s website:  http://www.resanelson.com
Free “mini” ebook of Dragonslayer short stories:  http://www.resanelson.com/files
Ebooks ($4.99 each) are available directly from Mundania Press at:  http://mundania.com/author.php?author=Resa+Nelson (get a 10% discount at checkout with the coupon code MP10)
Paperbacks are available from Mundania Press, Amazon, and Barnes&Noble:
http://mundania.com/author.php?author=Resa+Nelson (get a 10% discount at checkout with the coupon code MP10)

The Iron Maiden~Resa Nelson

The Iron Maiden (Dragonslayer, #2)The Iron Maiden by Resa Nelson

4 stars

Well I have to say Mrs Nelson has done it again! I thoroughly enjoyed this installment in Astrid's story. This one picks up a short time after the end of the last book. Astrid has spent time working as a dragon slayer and is now headed home to enjoy some time blacksmithing over the winter months.

Unfortunately for Astrid life often does not go as we plan and she ends up off on another adventure. In this novel Resa again uses her fantasy world to teach us a little something about life. Astrid is forced to learn about herself and grow even more than the last time. Reminding us that in life we must choose every day to be the best person we can be and to be true to ourselves. Astrid is a caring character, even though she has been wronged more than once and now suffers from the lack of one arm (if you don't eat lizard meat you think so anyways) she is still driven to do whats right.

This is a totally enjoyable fantasy series. It has just enough swords and dragons with a touch of true humanity!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Beyond the Wall ~ Exploring George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, From A Game of Thrones to A Dance with Dragons

Beyond the Wall - Exploring George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, From A Game of Thrones to A Dance with Dragons
edited by James Lowder

With all the talks of next seasons Game of Thrones on HBO and Comic Con still fresh on everyones mind I thought it was the prefect time to mention this book. Beyond the Wall is a collection of essays written by bestselling authors.

From the Publisher:

As season two of HBO’s hit Game of Thrones series, an adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, draws to a close in June, Smart Pop is releasing Beyond the Wall: Exploring George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, From A Game of Thrones to A Dance with Dragons.
            With a foreword by New York Times–bestselling author R.A. Salvatore and contributions from top fantasy authors and science fiction experts, Beyond the Wall gives fans their fix of direwolves, Starks, and Lannisters while they wait for the sixth book in the series, The Winds of Winter, and the third season of Game of Thrones.
Its contents cover everything from the series’ sexual violence, which has been the cause of so much media controversy, to what it will take to win Westeros’ Game of Thrones, to how the religions in A Song of Ice and Fire reflect those of our world. Contributors include:
  • Linda Antonsson and Elio M. Garcia, Jr., the founders of the Martin-endorsed A Song of Ice and Fire fansite, Westeros.org, and co-authors with Martin of the forthcoming guidebook, The World of Ice and Fire
  • Daniel Abraham, who is adapting A Song of Ice and Fire into graphic novel form
  • Caroline Spector, who has worked with Martin on the Wild Cards series
  • Jesse Scoble, creative director on the RPG A Game of Thrones d20 and contributor to the more recent A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying
The full list of contributors:

Daniel Abraham
Linda Antonsson
Elio M. Garcia, Jr.
Myke Cole
John Jos. Miller
Alyssa Rosenberg
Jesse Scoble
Caroline Spector
Matt Staggs
Ned Vizzini
Gary Westfahl
Adam Whitehead
Susan Vaught
Andrew Zimmerman Jones
Brent Hartinger

Beyond the Wall surprises, entertains, and provokes further thought as it explores the book series’ influences, its place in the fantasy pantheon, its challenging narrative choices, and the pull of its stunningly epic scope.

My Take:

If your anything like me and obsessed with Westeros this is a nice way to explore the world we have all become so familiar with. It is always nice to get someone else's opinion and here we have a whole book full of them. Plus with such an epic story we can all miss tiny details and in these essays you may have more to learn than you would have thought.

Lets face it, it could be years before George R R Martins gets us the next installment. Here is a way to keep yourself going in the interim!

Looking for Beyond the wall? Check out the Smartpopbooks website. They even have some teaser chapters that you can check out. (My favorite of Of Direwolves and Gods)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Shadow Rising ~ Kendra Leigh Castle

Shadow Rising (Dark Dynasties, #3)Shadow Rising by Kendra Leigh Castle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book caught me by surprise. I received it as a netgalley and didn't realize it was the third book in a series. Knowing that now I can't fault the author in my initial confusion to what time period the story ooh place. For some reason I was thinking it was a more ancient world then a few chapters in I realized its more a modern day America. Other than that little confusion I enjoyed this one.

Summary: Ancient Secrets, Dark Passions...

As one of the Grigori, a noble vampire dynasty shrouded in mystery, Ariane has spent her life hidden away in the desert. Like all of her kind, she is a watcher, fated to observe, forbidden to act. Yet when her best friend, Sammael, vanishes, she defies all rules and flees her safe haven to bring him home.

A shape-shifting assassin for the House of Shadows, Damien Tremaine is hired to locate Sammael. His hunt for the wayward Grigori leads him to Ariane, the rogue vamp who stands between him and his bounty. Damien never lets emotion interfere with his work, but a single touch from the sexy, beguiling vampire shatters his self-control. Drawn together by their common goal, what begins as an alliance of necessity soon becomes one of desire. But when the secret at the dark heart of the Grigori comes to light, Damien and Ariane must make a choice that could bind them eternally...or tear them—and everything they care about—apart.

My Take:

At first the attraction between Damien and Ariane seemed a little forced but a few chapters in the sparks really seem to be flying. Damien is just emotionally wounded enough to make you feel compassion for him even when he is being a jerk. Ariane has an inner strength which makes for a compelling main character. I also found some of the secondary characters really enjoyable. Hopefully we will see them in a future book for this series.

Overall this book had some great action and some pretty hot romance scenes. I was up late night reading this one and wasn't disappointed with the ending. Heres hoping we will hear more about Chaos in the next book. I'm going to have to go hunt for the first two books in the series.

If your looking for more info on the series check out Kendra Leigh Castle's Blog.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Shadow of Night ~ Deborah Harkness

Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy, #2)Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fantastic! Deborah Harkness has done it again!! In this thrilling sequel to A Discovery of Witches we find ourselves transported back to Elizabethan England where magic and new age thinking are a foot...

Now, picking up from A Discovery of Witches’ cliffhanger ending,Shadow of Night plunges Diana and Matthew into Elizabethan London, a world of spies, subterfuge, and a coterie of Matthew’s old friends, the mysterious School of Night that includes Christopher Marlowe and Walter Raleigh. Here, Diana must locate a witch to tutor her in magic, Matthew is forced to confront a past he thought he had put to rest, and the mystery of Ashmole 782 deepens.

My Take:

I absolutely loved this novel. I just can't seem to say it enough. It is very rare that you read something so gripping that you will sit in a car with no AC in the middle of the summer to finish it (my kindle wouldn't charge anyplace but the car of course). As with A Discovery of Witches the ending has left me wanting more, and hoping the last book will be out really, really soon.

Deborah Harkness has a unique ability. She is able to craft fantasy and history together forming a believable alternate world. A world where magic seems to live just under the surface of every day life.  Being a huge fan of time travel I often find the subject poorly done. This is not the case with Shadow of Night. Harkness has done an excellent job making it clear what Diana and Matthews time travel may or may not have effected.

In regards to the characters themselves we are able to continue to witness the growth of both Diana and Matthew. Slipping into Matthews past has revealed many of the things that will shape him into the Matthew Diana knows. It also allows the reader a better understanding of the trials of living for centuries.

Finding herself in Elizabethan England is a dream come true for the Historian in Diana. She is able to truly understand a world she has studied and taught for years. Of course fitting in ends up being far harder than she would have thought. Of course there is  trouble caused by the fact that there were few independent women in that time period and Diana is not the seen and not heard type. Diana is also finally able to understand her own magic. In doing so she is able to get closer to understanding Ashmole 782 and why it may be so important.

 I don't want to give too much away and spoil it but you will not be disappointed!  Deborah Harkness is touring the US right now so be sure to check out her page and see if she will be in your area. Sadly for me I don't think I will be able to make it to any of her tour stops :(

Monday, July 9, 2012

Kades Dark Embrace~Kym Grosso

Kades Dark Embrace by Kym Grosso
3.5 stars

Looking for some spicy romance? Check out the summary on this one...

After a series of girls are ritualistically murdered on the cold streets of Philadelphia, seasoned detective, Sydney Willows, is forced to work with sexy, alpha vampire, Kade Issacson. While working the case, Sydney finds herself inexplicably drawn to Kade, fighting the passion she feels towards him. Kade, determined to solve the case and mete out justice, is captivated by the independent, fiery detective. As he attempts to protect her from a very real murderer, Kade grows concerned that the beautiful, but very human detective, could easily end up dead should she tangle with supernatural forces that are beyond her control.

The investigation leads them into a dark and dangerous world, deep in the heart of New Orleans, where together, they search for the perpetrators of the Voodoo killings. Sydney soon becomes the target of the killer and ends up fighting for her life and love in the Big Easy. If she makes it out alive, will she give into the intoxicating desire she feels for Kade?

My take: Ok so this is the first time I have read anything that was called "spicy romance". I guess it means you have a storyline (like a romance novel) but everyone is also always thinking about sex (not actually having it all the time that would be erotica)

Overall I liked the story. The characters felt a little forced but the base story was good. I don't think the reader needs to be reminded over and over that Sydney is a tough as nails cop. We get it. I also thought there needed to be less, oh he's so hot, and more emotional build up. Now thats just me maybe I read too much romance. As the story progressed this problem went away and you really started to feel some emotion.

Kade seems like he's your typical Vamp character old, sexy and bossy. Of course he's drawn to Sydney the strong independent woman. I really liked Tristan as well. I do love my werewolves... I think this was a fun one and worth a look. 

You can find more about Kym Grosso at...

Twitter: @KymGrosso

Friday, July 6, 2012

A Discovery of Witches ~ Deborah Harkness

A Discovery of WitchesA Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First off I have to ask myself how I missed this one? I picked it up only because I got the net galley of the next book and wanted to know what was going on. For any of you who haven't grabbed this on yet all I have to say is, GO GET IT NOW.

Summary :

When historian Diana Bishop opens a bewitched alchemical manuscript in Oxford’s Bodleian Library it represents an unwelcome intrusion of magic into her carefully ordinary life. Though descended from a long line of witches, she is determined to remain untouched by her family’s legacy. She banishes the manuscript to the stacks, but Diana finds it impossible to hold the world of magic at bay any longer.
For witches are not the only otherworldly creatures living alongside humans. There are also creative, destructive daemons and long-lived vampires who become interested in the witch’s discovery. They believe that the manuscript contains important clues about the past and the future, and want to know how Diana Bishop has been able to get her hands on the elusive volume.
Chief among the creatures who gather around Diana is vampire Matthew Clairmont, a geneticist with a passion for Darwin. Together, Diana and Matthew embark on a journey to understand the manuscript’s secrets. But the relationship that develops between the ages-old vampire and the spellbound witch threatens to unravel the fragile peace that has long existed between creatures and humans—and will certainly transform Diana’s world as well.
My Take:

Deborah Harkness has crafted a fantastic world. Just a touch more magical than the one we live it making it easy to fall into and believe. Her characters are well developed and thoroughly enjoyable. The book itself has a slow burn effect. With each passing chapter we are pulled in more and more till you can't bear to put the book down for a second.

I love the way the author has crafted both magic and history into an ever evolving storyline. Some authors put to much effort into "building" their world and the story suffers for it. This is not the case in A Discovery of Witches. Harkness gives you just enough reality with a touch of something more making it easy to understand.

I've read some reviews that compared the romance of Diana and Matthew to Romeo and Juliet. Other than the whole ill-fated lovers comparison I just don't see it. Romeo and Juliet is, to me, more a story of raging hormones and teenage angst where as this was a novel about actual love. The kind you don't expect or maybe even want. Even with the odds against them, since she's a witch and he's a vampire, Diana and Matthew are willing to fight to stay together.

Its hard to not fall in love with both main characters. Diana is strong willed and stubborn, but still willing to let someone into her heart. Matthew tries to be detached but can't help himself around Diana. His controlling nature feels more like a mother hen than an overbearing boyfriend. The secondary characters are just as enjoyable. I found their backstories concise enough to be interesting but not detract from the storyline.

I can't wait to start the next one! If you want more information about this or the next book check out the Deborah Harkness website.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

*ADULT* Hunter's Blood ~ Rue Volley

Hunter's Blood (Hunter's Blood series book #1)Hunter's Blood by Rue Volley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This one is an adult only, for sure. If your looking for a HOT  and BLOODY read then check it out. If not this is probably not the best fit for you.

*Caution Adult Only Content*