My LGBTQ fantasy novel, Tributaries, is now on sale! Regular price is $3.99, but Amazon seems to want to keep it at 2.99–perhaps due to price matching as I wait for the other retailers to update the price. So get it while that lasts! And please leave a review if you do get it. Reviews are the life blood of a writer’s career.
This book picks up about four months after the first. If I recall correctly, I think it takes a bit for things to pick up as Allison reminds us of the importance of her current mission: Save Kanin, her vampire sire. She also muses for a bit about the fact that she left her dubious human love, Zeke Crosse, back at the human settlement known as Eden. As she goes, she closes in on the vampire holding her creator captive, a bat crazy vamp (pun intended) known as Sarren, who is apparently so powerful even Master vampires are wary of him.
Allison’s search brings her to the remains of D.C. where she suspects (without knowing the significance of her surroundings) that Sarren is being held in the White House. But when she manages to get there, she finds instead her blood brother, Jackal, the former raider king and antagonist of the first book. Naturally she isn’t happy about this, but Jackal explains that he had called Allison to him on purpose (using a sort of psychic blood link she had been using to track Kanin) because he wants her help to investigate a lab underground. She refuses at first until he persuades her by reminding her of just how dangerous Sarren is. Since he’s going after the psychotic vampire too, they should work together, he reasons. Reluctantly, Allison agrees.
And that’s how things start, essentially. Eventually we see some familiar faces, including the dreamy Zeke Crosse. (That isn’t really a huge surprise, but I’ll refrain on saying how he makes his return anyway.) The stakes are raised in this book when a new mutation of the Red Lung virus that had wiped out millions is released, thus threatening to wipe out what’s left of the world’s population. What at first was a race to save Kanin becomes so much more, and it’s such a riveting read.
In the first book, the major question of the story seemed to be, “How can Allison maintain her humanity when she has become a monster?” That question still hums through The Eternity Cure, but it takes a back seat to the new theme: Loss. More specifically, coming to terms with it. Allison finds herself fighting to save two of the most important people in her new undead life, but she stands to lose them both in a tragic fashion that threatens to completely demolish her spirit. Can she let them go without losing what little grip she still maintains on her hope, sanity, and humanity?
Since Allison finds herself in the company of a number of vampires in this book, we get to see more of what vampires are like. I remarked in my review for The Immortal Rules how Kagawa’s vampires, while very much traditional in style, are very satisfying. They are violent and ruthless. They remind me a lot of Anne Rice’s idea of vampires, though I’ve never read any of Rice’s books (only seen the movies). Some might not be too impressed by that, but given the saturation of vampires in the reading world today, I think Kagawa was smart to take the tried and true approach, and do it well.
In my reading updates on Goodreads, I talk about how Julie Kagawa manages an efficient and focused plot by wasting no time with unnecessary details. Just about everything, from her world building, to her scene setting, to even her character descriptions, serve a greater purpose. I admire a story with such a tight and focused narrative, and I take my hat off to Kagawa for her accomplishment. The Eternity Cure is certainly a bigger and better book than The Immortal Rules, but it it’s bigger in the way of a massive tank–solid and powerful–and less like a giant squid–slippery and confusingly branching.
So do I recommend this installment of the Blood of Eden series? Yes! A thousand times, yes! It’s got so much going for it, including a hot romance, a wise cracking vampire, and a fantastically evil antagonist. You really have no reason to skip out on this book if you liked The Immortal Rules. Even if you didn’t like the first book somehow, the second book is an improvement of the first by leaps and bounds.
Bottom line: get this book. I don’t give out five stars all that often, but this was certainly a five star book!
And while you’re at it, why not give my own fantasy romance novel a try? It’s available on Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes!
Sometimes I wonder if I’m a little too generous with my stars given (in this case it’s a four), but I can’t deny that the Janus Affair was skillfully written with great depth and attention to detail. Any annoyances I suffered came as a result of my very niche tastes, and I know not everyone will agree with my views. I also tend to avoid giving reviews for any books below four stars, partly because of professional courtesy, and partly because I just can’t be bothered to finish anything less than a four star book these days anyway. I think I can even count on one hand the number of times I went so far.
First the positives: This is a very strong steampunk adventure novel. The world is rich and vibrant with imaginative technology. The characters are oh-so-very British (or colonial, depending on who we are focusing on) but it’s all great fun. I wonder why the authors insist on calling Eliza a “colonial pepper pot” when the story keeps focusing sympathetically on a feminist movement. I mean, wouldn’t she object? But the description is used less in this book than the last, I think. I read the first book right when it first came out, so I’m late to the party on the second. I actually like the plot better in The Janus Affair than Phoenix Rising, mostly because it maintains a level of fantastic adventure without somehow getting into an almost sleazy pulp-fiction quality I felt from the first. (Rutting nobles in a pseudo-cult out to dominate the world? Sure. I know you just wanted to write in an orgy, guys. It’s okay. We’re all adults here.)
Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris really do achieve a level of epicness in their books, both in the scope of their plot and characters. Their antagonists are decidedly villainous, and their schemes indeed both clever and dastardly. They weave in details with care, timing things to such a degree that you feel a sense of admiration at their story-weaving. What’s great about their stories is that you can envision them as blockbuster movies with their larger-than-life characters striking poses and making funny quips, while at the same time managing a depth and fallacy in their being that feels both sympathetic and real.
Now for the…possible negatives? Depends on if you’re like me, really. If you don’t care about these things, then The Janus Affair is really a five star book for you, and you should check it out. But me? I like to focus on the subjective. The sticky, tricky, icky relationships that people have with each other are important to me. It doesn’t matter if it’s a romance or a mystery or a horror. It’s the relationships of the characters that allow me to best relate and sympathize with them. Not how they solve problems or how freaking clever they are. I will say this though: if I AM reading something that is going to bother with romance, then damn it, I want the romance to be central in some way, not a hanger-on to the “action packed plot”. Otherwise, don’t bother. I don’t like canned romance, like the variety you get from action movies. “Every cishet hero needs a girl to kiss at the end!” No thank you.
I don’t like it when stories go in between The Notebook level of romance, and the amount of romantic focus you get out of Big Trouble in Little China either.
Sadly, I feel this is exactly where The Janus Affair falls on the romance quality spectrum.
The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Book 2 picks up roughly close to where the first ended (apparently there was an interlude that I missed, but it seemed hardly important.) In the first adventure, Phoenix Rising, Books and Braun definitely exhibit signs of a mutual attraction to one another, but because of their adventure and their personality differences things just don’t get happenin’. In the second book, safe to say, we see a bit more movement there. I just wished there had been more…passion? Emotional connection?
For instance, and I’ll try not to spoil things, there is one portion of the book where Eliza does a pretty selfish, ditzy thing to Books, and though she realizes her mistake, there is NO RECONCILIATION for it, whatsoever. Nope, in Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris’ book, we just pull up stakes and keep moving, missing a prime moment to really stop and focus on the developing relationship of our two lead characters. I mean sure, we get there towards the end with some catharsis, but would it really have killed the authors to inject a little more focus on the budding romance? It’s a major part of Books and Braun’s dynamic, I certainly don’t think it would have harmed their precious plot if they had.
But I digress. You see? This is a niche issue. Not everyone wants the same thing like I do. Some might accuse me of trying to squeeze blood from a stone. I’ve made my point, though. I still think The Janus Affair is a damn good steampunk story. MoPO was the first of the genre I read, actually. I’m glad I did. Looking forward to starting the next adventure!
And while you’re at it, why not give my own fantasy romance novel a try? It’s available on Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes!
So I received my first official review for the new Tributaries e-book, and it was four stars! But interestingly, it was one of those positive reviews that seem to lack…positivity? The reviewer wasn’t mean or discouraging, but her review had a tone of bemusement to it. Like she didn’t inherently “get” the book, and I don’t mean “get” as in a surface understanding, but “get” as in…she just didn’t get it! Apparently the reviewer (who was very kind to read my work when it was clearly something she wouldn’t have read had I not asked her to) was confused by the “lesbian romance” aspect of my story. She said the main characters, Nyx and Elmiryn, made her think of Frodo and Samwise from the Lord of the Rings, two close but otherwise “platonic” friends. I sent her an email thanking her for her honesty, but also included a tongue in cheek YouTube link of the (in)famous TBS LotR spot that poked fun at Frodo and Sam’s relationship.
I can’t really say that it’s because she was “straight” that she didn’t get my work. I’ve received emails from straight readers, some of them women, who remarked on how much they enjoy Eikasia (the name of my fantasy series) and how they’re surprised at how much they relate to Elmiryn and Nyx as people. Not lesbians. PEOPLE!
So then I wondered, “Was the reviewer somehow expecting more…gayness? Was my story not alternative enough? Did she expect the characters to hem and haw about their homosexuality? For them to go through a ‘coming out’ process? Or did she think lesbian women would have been more romantically aggressive?” Because (with all due respect to the reviewer) I was equally confused by her perception that the story lacked a real sense of lesbian romance. Numerous times, Elmiryn propositions Nyx. Numerous times, Nyx displays a fascination and attraction toward Elmiryn’s body. They are close and physically intimate in a way that two women who only met each other wouldn’t typically allow so soon (if at all).
But the reviewer didn’t see how the characters could be gay! She even felt like the kiss at the end of the book was a surprise. I could only laugh, I was so bewildered.
Which then got me thinking (and worrying) that perhaps I’m at a further disadvantage than I had previously believed. Tributaries is a romance story, and the growing relationship does play an important role in the plot, but the romance is secondary to the fantasy adventure. I actually feel apprehensive telling potential lesbian readers about my book, because I don’t want to lie and say there’s RAGIN’ SEX in it (that doesn’t come for at least two more books, ha!) but I wonder if I don’t say that will they be interested at all?
Recently on this blog, I discussed a very small market for LGBT books and a severe lack of support for lesbian fiction. But maybe the problem is more than that for me? Maybe, it is isn’t just a lack of lesbian fiction, but a lack of queer lit. I don’t want to get too attached to terms, as people seem to have different ideas of what to call these small niche markets, but in this case, I’m talking about stories that just so happen to have central LGBTQIA characters in ordinary stories. Stories where the main focus isn’t how gay or alternative the protagonist is, how they struggle with their identity, or how they struggle with society’s perception of their identity.
To reiterate: We’re talking stories where the characters just so happen to be LGBTQIA. Queer Lit. Sounds beautiful, doesn’t it? Say it with me: QUEER LIT!
And I realize now that I’ve been writing in an even smaller niche than I could have imagined. Nearly ALL of my writing to this day (Eikasia, Kliff’s Edge, and Akumu Love Panic!) fits into this curious little sub-genre. And why is it a sub-genre? Why, when the queer characters in these stories are having the same kind of adventures as such famous characters as Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, and Buffy Summers? How can we make queer lit not a sub-genre of a sub-genre? By publishing more queer lit stories! The problem? Many publishers aren’t interested, and that includes many LGBT publishers.
Vitality Magazine is meant to be a Queer Lit zine that focuses on stories with gay characters. Not erotic vignettes. Not coming-out-stories. Not dramas focusing on the struggle of the gay identity. Just…stories. Such a publication is VITAL in proving to publishers (and even readers) that Queer Lit is worthwhile. That it can be enjoyed by a universal audience if people just gave it a chance.
The goals of Vitality Magazine, as listed on their website–
The heart of Vitality can be broken up into five parts:
So pardon the long introduction, but I wanted to share why I think this thing is (personally) so important. Why I pledged $100 to help get this magazine out to the world. And I hope that you support it too, for all that I’ve said. They are currently accepting submissions for their first issue early 2015, and entries must be sent by December 15th. They are accepting fiction, art, poetry, and comics!
And while you’re at it…
Good tips! I’ve been thinking of doing NaNoWriMo this year (finally).
Originally posted on Kristen Lamb's Blog:
I promised not to leave you guys hanging with my last post. Now that I have a lot of you beating your shields ready for NaNo, I’m going to give you battle tactics to come out victorious (or maybe at least alive).
Sure, NaNo is great to just learn to turn off the Inner Editor and get those 50,000 words DOWN. But, if in the end, all we have is a gelatinous ooze that eats people and attacks the city? They call in the National Guard to take out our WIP, because no revision can tame it.
What to do? This post is incredibly redacted, but it’s a blog. So roll with it ;) .
These tips will work for any novel, but they are SUPER important in NaNo, lest we write ourselves into the Corner of NO Escape by…
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And boy am I glad I did.
I don’t know if my family can say the same.
You see, I lost myself in this book. I neglected chores, became a couch barnacle, barely ate, and turned into a grunting conversation partner, my eyes always stuck on this…damn…book! Finishing this story was like an exorcism for me, and I knew it. I had to get it all out as swiftly as I could. And I did. And my god, I want to go back and experience it again!
Okay. The back story and fan-girl gushing is done. Now to get to the important details. First, Flynn is an amazing writer with a very modern voice and an uncanny ability to catch nice succinct vignettes that have you nodding your head (“Yeah! That’s totally how it is!”) For example, here’s an innocent bit from the beginning:
A group of loudmouthed white-haired ladies, each trying to talk over the next, a few of them texting, the kind of elderly people who have a baffling amount of energy, so much youthful vigor you had to wonder if they were trying to rub it in.
I’m trying to write a spoiler-free review, but I know many people who have reviewed the book must have commented on whose “side” they were on. Nick or Amy’s. Well since you’re reading myreview, I want to be more coy about my thoughts, because if I really got into how or when I started to sympathize with either character (or both) I might ruin things just enough. This story is really too good to be allowed such a horrible act. Suffice it to say, like ALL of Flynn’s work, things are not always as they seem, and you may very well find yourself changing your mind about things…more than once!
There was even one point where I felt like Flynn was poking fun at me as a reader. “Oh-ho! You thought things would turn outthis way, didn’t you?” Cue loud wet raspberry sounds.
Last point, and again, I have to be vague, but wow. The ending was amazing. I’m almost certain the film just doesn’t do the story justice. Overall, Gone Girl is just an amazing examination of marriage, connection, perception, and even identity. I mean, it had me looking very honestly at my life. It was disturbing and unnerving, and like any of Flynn’s books, the story just stays with you long after you close the cover.
Read this book. Just read it. You owe it to yourself.