Book Review – War for the Oaks by Emma Bull

Blogland,

First stop on my Urban Fantasy tour is the book that’s credited with spearheading the genre. The War for the Oaks won the Locus Magazine award for Best First Novel in 1988, and I can definitely see why.

Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars

war for the oaks

Eddi McCandry is sick of her boyfriend and frontman Stuart. He’s a mess. Too drunk to play his parts, and too busy pissing off bar managers to get their shitty band another gig. So she leaves the band, and him, taking the drummer with her.

Breaking up is hard to do, so it was already a rough night. But a terrifying encounter with fairy tale creatures on the midnight streets of Minneapolis leaves Eddi caught up in a war she knew nothing about.

The Seelie Court has selected her to be their bound mortal. With her on the battlefield the Fae will be rendered mortal, and their wounds will be deadly. And she will be a target, no matter her opinions on the matter. So, the Seelie Court sends a literal guard dog.

The Phouka is a Fae who looks like Prince by day and can turn to a dog at will. He’s a trickster, adorable, witty as all get out, and posted up at Eddi’s apartment until further notice to protect her from their enemies, the Unseelie Court.

prince phouka

He’s silver-tongued and devious. She’s stubborn and pissed off. Hilarity ensues.

I was worried about this book holding up over the years. Released in 1987, it’s older than I am, and you can definitely tell. The lack of cell phones really stood out to me, because there were a few situations Eddi found herself in that only happened because she couldn’t contact someone unless she was home or used a payphone. There was a slightly racially insensitive moment in which Eddi “pulls at the corners of her eyes to see what she’d look like if she were Chinese” that was mostly jarring because why did that line make it through editing? And dear lord the clothes.

Yes. This book lives solidly in the 80s. But, it was no less engrossing because of it. I loved every minute with this story and felt that the setting development of Minneapolis was very well done. Dialogue was solid throughout, and though the ending was a little cliched, it probably wasn’t in 1987.

I also appreciate that The War for the Oaks isn’t trying to be anything it isn’t. It’s a fun, pretty indulgent, fairy tale come to life. It set the expectations of Urban Fantasy pretty high when it comes to entertainment value, but kept the literary pretensions out of the mix. Sometimes, you really need to turn your brain off and just have a good time. This book is very good at that.

It was also nice to see a different take on the Fae. I’ve only really experienced them through the Dresden novels, and while they’re very similar, I don’t think Jim Butcher has ever featured a Phouka. Also, the Fae aren’t as malignant in this book as they often are in Butcher’s series.

Now I’m seeing another view of the Fae as I read the first October Daye novel, Rosemary and Rue. Goodreads has recommended this book to me for years, probably because of all the Dresden books in my “Read” list. We’ll see how it goes.

I don’t think I’ll be back this week. I’ve got the next two days off and they are going to be busy with catching up on my weekly goals and house chores. Then it’s the Hozier concert on Saturday night!

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If ever there was a Fae among us, it would be Andrew Hozier-Byrne. I can’t wait to be thoroughly enchanted by him once again.

Until next week, Bloggos,

 

BZ

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Call for Submissions!

The Audient Void is now open for submissions!

Now that the sixth issue of The Audient Void: A Journal of Weird Fiction and Dark Fantasy is out, we are opening submissions for issue #7. We are looking for quality works of poetry and short fiction.

Poetry should be Weird or darkly fantastical with strong imagery. We pay $.35 a line with a $5 minimum, payable upon publication.

For short fiction our tastes are broad and we will consider anything with Weird, horrific or fantastical elements. We will consider any length work but will be much less likely to publish stories over 5,000 words. Our rate is $5 per thousand words, payable upon publication. First time publication only, no reprints please.

To submit please send your work as a .doc, .docx or .rtf file to:

theaudientvoidmag@gmail.com

Be sure to include a header with your name and email address. We do not accept simultaneous submissions and ask that you wait for our response before submitting elsewhere. The submission deadline is Nov. 15th, please do not inquire about your submission before that deadline and understand that it may take some time to follow up on all submissions after the deadline has passed. We very much look forward to reading everyone’s work!

Please keep in mind that Weird Fiction is a genre of its own. Do not send us simply strange stories,  but your dark, fantastical tales.

I can’t wait to read your stories! Best of luck to you all!

 

BZ

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 41

Blogland,

Mondays are loooong for me now. Morning shifts at Starbucks followed immediately by a shift at the library. Then home for a quick dinner and off to my movie night with my library friends. I’m squeezing this post in between.

Last Week

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • RESEARCH!
  • Write 500 words on Sanctuary
  • Record an episode of Santa Sarita
  • Read War for the Oaks

How’d I do?

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • RESEARCH!
    • Yes! So much research. I have more to go, but I did share a little blog post with my progress so far.
  • Write 500 words on Sanctuary
    • Yes! 858 words and finished chapter 7!
  • Record an episode of Santa Sarita
    • Nope. Thought about it last night, but we played Gloomhaven later than usual, and I was too tired to go through with it.
  • Read War for the Oaks
    • Yes! I’ll have the review up sometime this week.

Weekly Word Count: 1,980

You might notice that the word count for this week is considerably more than the 858 words I wrote for Sanctuary. That’s because I was researching for my Urban Fantasy and stumbled into the opening sequence. It was right there, demanding attention. I couldn’t tell it no.

I’m reading quite a bit already this month. Both Legion and War for the Oaks, and now I’m about 50 pages into Rosemary and Rue. I don’t think I’ll have it done this week, but maybe early next week.

Fanfic is a slow but steady sort of thing, right now, and I’m realizing that I don’t think i’ll be able to cross that goal off the yearly list. There’s just too much story to be told there and not enough motivation on my part to only work on it. I’ve got other projects I want to spend time on, and sadly that means Santa Sarita is a back burner task. I’ll work on it when the inspiration strikes or I have extra time.

I spent the majority of this week reading and researching. I finally finished listening to The Adventure Zone and that’s freed up a lot of my time, thank goodness. Granted there isn’t a whole lot of time at my disposal anymore. I’ve got to make the best of what I have.

So, What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Edit That Which Illuminates Heaven
  • Research, round 2
  • Read Rosemary and Rue

That’s it. Straightforward and to the point this week. I need to get some quality work done on this Nano project, and I want to get That Which Illuminates Heaven ready to submit by the end of this month.

So, work work work. Read, edit, outline, lather rinse repeat. I have a few things to talk about this week on the blog, so expect to see me around a bit.

And, we have the Hozier concert on Saturday night, so that will cut into my time a bit. Oh! And I work Sunday…

Ugh.

Ok. That’s it for this Monday Blogland. I’ll be back soon!

 

BZ

On Research

Blogland,

Fun fact: researching angels is harder than you’d think.

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There are so many different versions of the same doctrine, books upon books upon books of religious texts that run counter to one another. One text might name four archangels, only to be deemed apocryphal by another sect that has their own angels!

As a non-religious person delving into the worlds of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam… woof. There is a lot to wade through here.

What I’m realizing is that I may have to blend some sources and make gut decisions, because these descriptions of the angels are just the foundation. They will grow into characters in their own right and become more than just names in a book. So, while I’ll continue to gather resources and learn as much as I can, I’m probably going to have to lean on my own creativity more than research when it comes to the angels themselves.

I’ve also started gathering images of landmarks from the Phoenix metro, along with maps, street names, and businesses. I grew up in the Valley of the Sun, but I haven’t lived there in over six years. It’s going to take some time for me to get into the setting and really bring it to life.

Things left to research include:

  • Catholic rituals, prayers, and saints
  • Churches in the Phoenix Metro
  • Demons and Devils
  • Spanish

My main character is bilingual, so I need to up my understanding of Spanish, and practice writing bilingual dialogue. Thanks to fanfiction, I have some experience with this, but I will have a lot more by the time this book is done. I also have an awesome online writing community that will no doubt help me with the Spanglish. Also, this is nanowrimo. If I’m uncertain about what Spanish to use, I’ll just put a note in red and figure it out during a revision when I’ll have more time to get it right.

I just got a couple more books from the library, and they both look promising. I should be on track to have a solid research foundation by the end of the month, and maybe even a thin outline! I’m not usually big on outlines, but I think having one will really help streamline things in November, especially since I’ll be working more than I originally anticipated.

So, despite some frustrations, research is actually going well. It’s getting the creative gears turning, and will help guide me when things get… iffy.

I plan on doing a Nano-eve post where I talk about my goals for the month and my strategies to achieve them. Granted, Nano-eve is Halloween, so we’ll see if I stick to that.

I’ll be back on Monday for the usual Goals Summary post. Until then, Bloggos!

 

BZ

Book Review – Legion: Lies of the Beholder by Brandon Sanderson

Bloggos,

If it’s been awhile since you’ve read the first two novellas in this series, I recommend checking out my reviews for Legion and Legion: Skin Deep before delving into this one. I know I needed the refresher before I tucked into this book.

Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars

Image result for legion lies of the beholder

Stephen Leeds is back, and so are his aspects. Ivy, J.C., and Tobias are still front and center, but a few others come in to play over the course 105 page novella. Personal faves were Lua and Jenny, an all new aspect intent on harassing Stephen as she follows him and writes down every bit of his adventures. His own personal biographer, all in his head!

In this story, Leeds and Co., are on the hunt for the elusive Sandra, who recently texted Stephen a single word: Help. Leeds panics. Sandra hasn’t contacted him in years, and now she reaches out in apparent distress? His anxiety is through the roof, and Ivy and J.C.’s distrust of the situation does nothing to help. But that’s what Tobias is for.

To make matters worse, Leeds is losing control. Two of his aspects have disappeared, turning into Nightmares. Spectral/undead versions of themselves, intent on harming Leeds and his remaining aspects. Turns out, his personas can kill one another. And that’s a painful lesson to learn.

This lack of control only ups the stakes for Stephen. He has to find Sandra. She was the one that helped him gain control in the first place, maybe she can help him again. But as the hunt continues Leeds begins to question who and what is real, and whether the price of ‘normal’ is really worth it.

I have a lot of warm fuzzy feelings for this story. It’s the first Sanderson book I’ve read in quite a while, and it really reminded me why I love him so much. It also struck a resonant chord in me, because Legion is a very personal story for Sanderson and it really showed in this novella.

Leeds is a man with voices and characters in his head. People as real as the neighbors you wave to each morning or the barista who hands you your coffee when you’re running late to work.

And that’s how it feels to be an author. You create these people, often times without really meaning to, and they are suddenly vibrant and demanding and so much more real than you ever anticipated.

The end of this novella actually brought a tear to my eye. And while that’s not unheard of for Sanderson stories, I definitely wouldn’t say I expect to get emotional from his books. This was a bittersweet tear, a feeling wholly satisfied and melancholy.

It was beautiful.

I know Sanderson is widely admired for his giant works of fantasy. Books like Mistborn, The Stormlight Archive, Elantris, and Warbreaker. And they are wonderful. I love them all. But man, I think he’s actually at his best when words are at a premium. All three Legion novellas were powerful in their own way, and let’s not forget the Hugo award-winning The Emperor’s Soul.

Legion: Lies of the Beholder is available in a few different formats. As a standalone e-book and in a hardbound collection of all three novellas called Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds. This is the copy I read courtesy of the library, and will eventually Image result for legion lies of the beholderpurchase, once we catch up from our expensive vacation. The cover art is phenomenal, and even better are the ink-blot chapter illustrations that change over the course of the series.

I was impressed with this book overall. Can you tell? I was impressed with the clever plot, and the depth of emotion Sanderson put into so few pages. I was impressed with the book design, both for the cover and the interior and would greatly recommend the series to fans of detective stories with a slight Sci-Fi spin.

I’m making good progress on War for the Oaks, and am optimistic that I’ll be able to review it next week. After that I’ve got a few more Urban Fantasy novels queued up, so we’ll see what strikes my fancy.

Until then, Blogland,

 

BZ

Goals Summary 2018 – Wk 40

Hi Blogland!

This last week really hit me hard. Between the jet lag and two jobs, I spent way more of my time sleeping than I really anticipated. Or, at least, it felt that way. In reality, I went from working 20ish hours a week to over 40 this week, so that’s where the majority of my time went.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Edit That Which Illuminates Heaven rough draft
  • Begin NaNo project research: read one book from the library
  • Write 500 words on Sanctuary
  • Record an episode of Santa Sarita
  • Read two short stories from More Human Than Human

How’d I Do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Yes. Goals Summary and The Audient Void release announcement are both up.
  • Edit That Which Illuminates Heaven rough draft
    • Yep! More on this in a moment.
  • Begin NaNo project research: read one book from the libraryImage result for legion lies of the beholder
    • Eh… Kinda? I’m inclined to give this one to myself. I got several books from the library, and even bookmarked several passages to start with. I also brainstormed some of the back story. But, nothing new made it into the Scrivener project, so it’s sort of a wash.
  • Write 500 words on Sanctuary
    • Nope. But I did write a tumblr prompt!
  • Record an episode of Santa Sarita
    • Haha. Nope. As ever. Some day I’ll get this story done.
  • Read two short stories from More Human Than Human
    • No. BUT, I did read Lies of the Beholder, the last Legion novella by Brandon Sanderson.

Weekly Word Count: 648

So, obviously, not much in the way of writing this week. But that’s okay, because editing was the priority. And That Which Illuminates Heaven is officially in its second draft! Hooray!

confetti

Normally I would print out another copy at this stage and edit again, but I’m not gonna lie, I really like it the way it is. I’ve sent it to a couple friends to get feedback and that all important fresh perspective. Hopefully once I hear back from them I can approach it with new eyes and make some more changes.

Another reason why I haven’t been getting as much work done is because I am binge-listening to The Adventure Zone podcast and loving every minute of it! I’ll be done with it soon, so I should be able to refocus on the matters at hand.

What’s Next?

  • Publish 2 blog posts
  • RESEARCH!
  • Write 500 words on Sanctuary
  • Record an episode of Santa Sarita
  • Read War for the Oakswar for the oaks

This is another ambitious week, which is silly given that I didn’t get that much done last week (bullet-points-wise). But, I am ever the optimist, so maybe I’ll get it all done! Who knows?

I have a Walk ‘n’ Talk™ scheduled with Madhu for tomorrow morning, then work. Then work all day on Wednesday. An easy day Thursday, which is probably when I’ll get the most work done. Then work all day Friday, work hella early on Saturday, then off the rest of the weekend. Not as much time to read and write, but I’ll do my best. That’s all I can ever do.

I’m going to write up a review for Legion: Lies of the Beholder, so there will definitely be two blog posts this week. I’ve got a pile of books ready for the research to commence, and enough down time that I should be able to join in on a sprint or two with my writer’s discord and get those 500 words done. Recording an episode of Santa Sarita is always a maybe, but I think it’d be nice to return to it this week and get back into the swing of the series.

And maybe I’ll finish another book this week. I’m about 7 pages into War for the Oaks; far too early to make a judgement on it yet. We’ll see how it goes as the week rolls on.

I’ll be back with a book review soon enough. Until then, Bloggos.

 

BZ

 

OUT NOW – The Audient Void #6

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Issue number six of The Audient Void: A Journal of Weird Fiction and Dark Fantasy released just in time for Portland’s H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival this weekend! As usual we congregated at The Book Bin (Editor/Publisher Obadiah’s Indie Bookstore) to celebrate the release with readings from the contributors.

This issue is especially remarkable because graphic designer Dan Sauer did all the interior artwork this time, cranking out some really breathtaking pieces to accompany the poems and fiction. This issue’s cover art is by Allen Koszowski.

As usual, the poetry is stellar, featuring K.A. Opperman, Ashley Dioses, Adam Bolivar, and D.L. Myers. The fiction in this issue is nothing to sneeze at, with three outstanding stories from Michael Gray Baughan, Josh Reynolds, and Chris Kuriata.

If you’re at the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival & CthuluCon you can pick up a copy of this issue at the Hippocampus Press booth. If you’re unable to attend the fest, then keep an eye on the website shop. It’ll be updated soon!

And of course, this means The Audient Void will be open for submissions soon! Follow us on twitter and like our Facebook page to stay up to date!

 

 

BZ