Saturday, June 30, 2012

Top 5 Sundays #9 - Favorite Fictional Families!

This week's Top 5 list focuses on favourite fictional families. These are the cohesive units bound by love and sometimes blood that provide our heroes and heroines with support, with lifelines, with sound arguments for claims of insanity. Some families are more involved, some are less in the know, but to be considered a real family the one thing they all have in common is love. Whether their son is a vampire, their sister sees dead people, their best friend's in love with a reaper or their in-laws vacation in Hell, the love binding this ragtag group of misfits together is undeniable and unconditional.

So, without further ado, here are my Top 5 Favorite Fictional Families!


#5 - The Davidsons from the Charley Davidson series by Darynda Jones

In the first book, you're introduced to a successful, stuck-up, brainiac sister, a step-mother with buckets of prejudice and nothing short of hatred (born from jealousy no less) for her second step-daughter, a loving albeit passive father and a protective detective uncle Charley assists with murder investigations. By the end of the second book, however, it becomes clear that first impressions couldn't be more wrong.

#4 - The D'Artigo Sisters from the Otherworld series by Yasmine Galenorn
When this series starts off, three sisters - a witch, a cat shifter, and a vampire - live together in a large Victorian house while investigating magic based crimes on behalf of the Fae crown in another world. And then Camille, the eldest, falls in love and subsequently marries a dark elf, a youkai demon and a dragon. Delilah has a failed relationship with a detective - who ends up with the Elfin Queen's niece, a doctor, later on down the series - before settling in with a dragon halfbreed for a fiancee. Menolly has a committed relationship with a puma shifter. Iris, Camille's coworker at the start of the series, moves in with the girls and recently married a leprecaun. Rozurial, an incubus, pops up while hunting a rogue vampire in the third book and hangs around to fight the Big Bad. An dream demon jumps sides at another point and takes refuge with the girls. Shamus, their cousin, comes to stay after a harrowing experience in the Otherworld...and it goes on!

#3 - The Jenson-Moore Pack from the Riley Jensen series by Keri Arthur
Riley and her twin brother Rhoan were kicked out of their birth pack for being halfbreeds - half vampire, half werewolf. For a long, long time they were all each other had in the world. Fast forward to their happily ever after glimpsed in the spin-off series, Dark Angels, and you've got both Riley and Rhoan happily mated - her with husband Quinn, him with long time boyfriend Liander. Thanks to Liander's sister volunteering to be their surrogate, Liander and Riley have five children: Ronan, Liana, Darci, Kian and Nika. For a couple of unwanted pups, Riley and Rhoan have done more than well for themselves, don't you think?

#2 - The Price-Healy family from Seanan McGuire's InCryptid series
This is a family of cryptozoologists. Verity is the main character, an ambitious dancer and dedicated monster observer. She has a brother, Alex, and sister, Antimony, and the three of them are descended from not one, but two (at least) long lines of renegade monster hunters who had the whacky idea that just because something wasn't human didn't mean it didn't deserve to live. Protective, loving, and supportive this family not only helps each other out with everything from monster research to relationship advice, they also provide pearl after pearl of hard earned wisdom. In Verity's own words, 
“Growing up in my family meant ambushes on your birthday, crossbows for Christmas, and games of dodge ball where the balls were occasionally rigged to explode. It also meant learning how to work your way out of a wide variety of death traps. Failure to get loose on your own could lead to missing dinner, or worse, being forced to admit that you missed dinner because your baby sister had tied you to the couch. Again.”

#1 - The Ranger Corps 2.0 from Kelly Meding's MetaWars series
You know that saying about blood being thicker than water? Turns out shared experiences trump blood. As children, Teresa, Gage, Renee, Ethan and Marco went through hell - literally. Their parents were superheroes which meant two things; one, they all inherited superpowers themselves and, two, supervillains were always trying to kill them. And then one day, in the middle of the battle that orphaned them, all the superpowers vanished. Skip ahead fifteen years and all of the sudden back the powers come and those five kids find themselves grown up and back together, doing the best they can to unravel the mystery, get a handle on long lost gifts and find their place in the not-so-friendly world they find themselves in. And they're doing all of that just like any family would - together.


And there you have it - my Top 5. Tune in next week for more. Ciao!

Friday, June 29, 2012

REVIEW: Kelly Meding's Changeling

Book: Changeling

Author: Kelly Meding

Series: MetaWars

Publishing stats: June 26th 2012 by Pocket Books (USA)

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Cover Blurb: HEROES FOR HIRE

After barely escaping a madman's attempt to annihilate all MetaHumans, Kelly Meding's supernatural crime fighters have banded together to take back the streets of war-ravaged Los Angeles.Dahlia "Ember" Perkins still feels like an outsider among her new Meta friends, despite everything she's been through since coming into her miraculous ability to absorb heat and extinguish fires. But when the police need help investigating human skins discarded like slipcovers on the street, the Metas' youngest team member quickly finds her place. Evidence points to a murderer the likes of which they have never encountered but who inexplicably seems to be gunning for Dahlia-and who may be neither human nor Meta. After a bullet meant for her nearly kills one of her teammates, Dahlia uncovers a connection to the crimes buried deep in her past. As the danger escalates and her personal life falls apart, Dahlia soon learns there's no such thing as a "normal" relationship when you're a superhero. . .

First line: "Who’s got the friggin’ fire extinguisher?"

What I liked: I loved how the perspective change in this book really and truly affected a brand new view of this world. The first book in this series was narrated by Teresa "Trance" West and focused on the heroes getting their powers back after a fifteen year absence and learning how to cope and find their place in a hostile world. This book was narrated by Dahlia "Ember" Perkins, the new girl on the super-powered block and the only member of the team who didn't spend a chunk of their childhood living with the others. I loved that her tone was so distinct from Teresa's. It was nice starting the series with a narrator who was able to contrast the characters against their childhood selves and then, for the second book, see those same characters with fresh eyes ignorant of who they once were.

What I didn’t like: This is another one where I didn't like the ending. Not because it wasn't good - it was great and accomplished everything an ending in an ongoing series is supposed to do, namely leave you wanting more. My problem with it was that it felt less like an ending and more like a pause. Which would be fine if the next book was picking up with a new point of view and focusing on other characters having their time in the limelight. The love story element in particular was left in question with one hell of an obstacle left in its path.

Overall: One of the things I love about this series is how the author takes pains to deal with consequences. How many times has Superman been thrown through a building? How about Green Lantern - how often has his ring-generated creations gone awry and squashed a car or two? And those are just the good guys. Ms. Meding takes the genre of superheroes - the powers, the team dynamics, the villains, the government agencies/distrust - and infuses the lot of it with a heavy dose of realism, transitioning it from the impossible to the improbable. The adventures these heroes undergo are believable and playout in a Hansel and Gretel style that keeps you guessing until the last minute - and in neither book did I see the major twists coming until POOF! There they were. Overall, a fantastic read.

Would I read this author again:
Yes. I've always been a sucker for superheroes and their adventures.

My rating: ♥♥♥♥♥/5

To purchase the book for yourself, you can find it at Chapters.Indigo.ca, Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble or The Book Depository. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Elementary, My Dear - Fantasy Going Urban

And I think to myself, What a wonderful world...
When it comes to high fantasy, each series has a world of its own. Whether it's Tolkien's Middle Earth, Piers Anthony's Xanth, Lisa Shearin's Mid, or Anne Bishop's realms of Terreille, Kaeleer, and Hell,  high fantasy gives readers worlds that are entirely based on their authors' imaginations. These are places where the laws of physics have been tossed out the window, where every creature, plant, and object is something completely foreign even in its familiarity, where the geography is uncharted and comes to light one word at a time.

Urban fantasy, in contrast, takes the elements of fantasy and incorporates them into the everyday cities we know. For example, Ilona Andrews' Kate Daniels lives in Atlanta, GA, Vicki Pettersson set her Signs of the Zodiac series in Las Vegas, NV, and Devon Monk has Ally Beckstrom running around Portland, OR. Even unidentified cities, such as the setting for Stacia Kane's Downside series, still allow that familiar urban tone that sets this genre apart.

But the city setting is just one facet of this genre. Another is the world-building; how does the author take that everyday city you're familiar with and infuse it with elements of another world? It's not as easy as it might sound; you can't just replace airplanes with dragons and call it a day. There's a certain degree of weaving to be done as authors draw in the fantastical to blend seamlessly with the ordinary.

For some, the presence of magic and its various creatures is hidden, comprising its own hidden world right beside our own. For Charley Davidson, lead heroine in a series by Darynda Jones, the supernatural takes the form of ghosts and demons only Charley and those of her ilk can see. In Kristen Painter's House of Comarré, a covenant made between angels and demons masks the existence of the vampires, demons and their world from the humans. Other authors have the paranormal world hidden with assistance from within regular society or from networks and agencies devoted solely to ensuring the fantastic remains secret. Take Meljean Brook's Guardian series. An organization is set up in the first book taking the existing good guy warrior force and turning into an agency supported by American senators but without the knowledge of the American people. As a result, one of the agency's jobs is to put a spin on any supernatural event that catches public notice. Similarly, the vampires in Jeri-Smith Ready's WVMP Radio series fall under the provision of an agency called the Control which ensures those vampires able to blend in with society are provided with blood when necessary and that those vampires unable to control themselves are kept away from the general public - either by containment or execution. In a nice twist, the vampire DJs of WVMP actually came out to the public as vampires...but, a la Lestat, no one of course believes it to be more than a gimmick.

Several series are actually set either just before or immediately after the public revelation of the supernatural world's existence. Molly Harper had vampires outed to the world in her Jane Jameson series when one recently fired vamp challenged his dismissal by claiming he was being discriminated against on account of his vampirism. Other series take it one step at a time; in Patricia Briggs's Mercy Thompson series for instance the werewolves announce themselves to the world in a controlled manner following the earlier success of the Fae using similar methods. And then there are the times when some supernatural creature forgets to put their glamour on one morning and ends up on national news. Not all worlds, after all, come complete with MIB Neuralyzers or Charmed Cleaners. Take the outing of the Monère in Sunny's Mona Lisa series; their big reveal to the world comes when one of their own saves a friend from a burning building in front of reporters...by sprouting wings and flying to safety.

A particularly creative twist - or perhaps "combination" would be a more appropriate word - of both these last two styles is seen in Vicki Pettersson's Signs of the Zodiac series. On the one hand, mortals who get  too entangled in the battle between the Light and Shadow Zodiac signs have their memory erased, Star agents live under assumed identities that are discarded the moment they become suspect, and each side has a sanctuary located (and hidden) in an alternate dimension. On the other hand, the exploits of both sides are published in graphic novels sold to the public, specifically children and teens.

My personal favourite approach is the jump-to-the-future method employed by such authors as Ilona Andrews and Stacia Kane. At some point in the past, magic revealed itself. In Ilona Andrews' Kate Daniels series, magic returned - literally - in the form of unstable waves putting the world in a flux between magic and technology. For Stacia Kane's Downside series, one day ghosts rose up in droves and went on homicidal sprees among the living. Jump ahead a decade or two or more and that's where the story picks up, at a point where society has already settled in and grown accustomed to the presence of magic and monsters.

Similarly, some authors seem to shift their story into a parallel world when magic has always been a known entity. Take the Portland of Devon Monk's Allie Beckstrom series, where magic has become something of a commodity, the price of which is paid in pain...your own or someone else's. Wen Spencer literally has Pittsburgh, PA shift into a whole other world - called Elfhome - for all but three days of each month in her Tinker series. Caris Roane has her Guardians of Ascension series taking place on several plains of existence but all in the same cities.

For me personally, the appeal of these books, of this genre, is how author after author takes the extraordinary, wraps it in the ordinary, and puts their own twist on it. Whether its magic waves in a futuristic Atlanta, a magic price-and-payment system in Portland, outed vampires selling books in Kentucky or they-told-because-they-wouldn't-be-believed-anyway DJs, urban fantasy at its core suggests that even in reality magic and fantasy are a possibility just waiting to be  discovered beneath the surface.

And what UF bookworm can't get behind that?

Monday, June 25, 2012

REVIEW: Jeri Smith-Ready's Let it Bleed

Book: Let it Bleed

Author: Jeri Smith-Ready

Series: WVMP Radio

Publishing stats: eBook released by author on June 26, 2012

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Cover Blurb: BLOOD IS THICKER THAN SLAUGHTER

Con artist-turned-radio-station-manager Ciara Griffin hopes to settle into a normal un-life as a fledgling vampire, with the help of her immortally hot fiancé, grunge DJ Shane McAllister. But she has bigger problems than finding a sane blood donor and a new home for those boxes of mac ‘n’ cheese. Ciara’s best friend mourns her like she’s dead instead of undead, and her own maker clearly wishes she’d never been born (again). Worst of all, the WVMP crew calls a Code Black: hippie vampire DJ Jim has murdered a pair of humans—humans who share Ciara’s true last name.

That’s when trouble rolls out the red carpet, straight into Ciara’s life. At Shane’s first live concert, Ciara finds herself face to face with her Irish Traveller cousins, a not-so-welcome family reunion that might hold the key to Ciara’s anti-holy blood. Jim’s spiral into madness makes Ciara an unwilling prize in his deadly feud with Shane. As Ciara clings to what’s left of her humanity, she’ll need her new vampire strength—and old con artist cunning—now more than ever.


First line: I avoid mirrors these days—not because they don’t show my reflection, but because they do.

What I liked: What I've always loved about this series is how it makes a present tense narrative work. It gives the stories a sense of immediacy and forces you, as the reader, to wonder if the narrator really will survive to the end. After all, for something to be in past tense it stands to reason the narrator made it to the future. Smith-Ready's stories remove that safety net, making everything all the more urgent as a consequence. Incidentally, Kresley Cole used present tense in Dark Needs at Night's Edge to indicate the madness of the hero, Conrad, but that's neither here nor there.

What I didn’t like: Ever have one of those endings when you understand the sequence of events but you're kind of foggy on the actual consequences? It's a little like what you'd feel if Peter Jackson had  cut Saruman's death scene from Return of the King. Sure, you get the idea that's he's been defeated and pretty much no longer a threat but he's also not got a boogeyman vibe going on now that his ultimate fate is obscured. This is pretty much what happens in regards to the big bad of Let it Bleed.

Overall: I liked it. There was a lot of character development to be had and a lot of questions left hanging from past books get answered, including whether or not Monroe will ever be able to accept Ciara and how Ciara's changing into a vamp will affect her friendship with Lori. I loved how Ciara's Traveller family was brought into the story and it was a treat to get to see a different sort of vampire come on the scene. The story could have used more scenes (and by "more" I of course mean "at least one") where Ciara and Shane just get to be a couple; instead, most of their scenes either focus on her newly acquired vampire status, her newly arrived (and promptly killed) family...followed by more family of a less dead persuasion and the Big Bad dilemma. It was good, but some glimpses of drama free normalcy would have balanced everything out.

Would I read this author again: Yes. There's just one book left, after all, until Ciara and Shane get their long promised happily ever after.

My rating: ♥♥♥/5

To get hold of the book for yourself, you can find more information regarding its impending release on Jeri Smith-Ready's website.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Top 5 Sundays #8 - Most Looking Forward to! {In the 2nd Half 2012}

2012 has been one heck of a good year for book releases and it doesn't show any signs of stopping anytime soon. Remember my Top 5 post two weeks ago? "Fave Books from First Half of 2012!"? So many authors, so many books have already released that it's hard to imagine the coming months could compete. That is, until you look at the release schedule and realize that it's not only imaginable, it's impending. Listed here today are some of the books I'm looking the most forward to.

#5 - Chosen (Dark Breed #3) by Sable Grace
Expected publication: August 28th 2012 by Avon Books 

She was a Dark Breed -- half Vampyre, half Lychen.
 
Now she is CHOSEN…

Kyana is the new Goddess of the Hunt, chosen for her determination to survive as much as for her passion to protect those she loves. Now, just when she's finally ready to shed her past and let the one man who really matters into her heart, an evil has resurrected, and only Kyana stands in its way.

But Ryker, as the new Zeus, will not let her fight alone. It has taken him too long to convince Kyana they belong together for him to lose her. And if it means descending into the depths of Hades to make the ultimate sacrifice, then so be it.

The fate of the world is at stake, and for Kyana and Ryker, no fight has ever been more personal.

#4 - Blood Bath and Beyond (An Immortality Bites Mystery #1) by Michelle Rowen
Expected publication: August 7th 2012 by NAL Obsidian

Sarah Dearly is adjusting to life as a fledgling vampire, satisfying her cravings at vampire-friendly blood banks. But when her fiancé Thierry takes a job with the Ring—the secret council in charge of keeping vampires in line—Sarah’s about to get more than a taste of danger…

Being engaged to a centuries-old master vampire can be challenging—especially when he takes a job with the Ring. Thierry’s in for fifty years of nonstop travel and deadly risk. It’s enough to make any woman reconsider the wedding…any woman except Sarah, that is!

Traveling with him to Las Vegas for his first assignment, they encounter a child beauty pageant contestant from hell, as well as a vampire serial killer leaving victims drained of blood, potentially exposing the existence of vampires to the whole world. But when Thierry’s truly ancient history comes back to haunt him, and he’s accused of a crime he didn’t commit, it’s up to Sarah to clear his name before their immortal lives come to an end.

#3 - A Trace of Moonlight (Abby Sinclair #3) by Allison Pang
 Expected publication: October 30th 2012 by Pocket  

Drinking from the waters of the Lethe and offering herself up as Faerie’s sacrificial Tithe …these just might be the least of Abby Sinclair’s problems.

Abby’s pact with a demon—whether or not she remembers making it—is binding, so she’d better count herself lucky that (in the words of a daemon who knows better) there’s nearly always a loophole. But her friends’ reckless attempts to free her, well intentioned though they may be, set off a disastrous chain of events. In no time at all, Abby turns her incubus lover mortal and gets herself killed, cursed, and married to an elven prince whose mother wants her dead. She might have even been able to recover from all that had she not lost the Key to the CrossRoads to her mortal enemy, who promptly uses his restored power to wreak havoc on the OtherWorld and put its very existence in jeopardy.

Only one person can make things right again, but to find her Abby must place her trust in allies of mixed loyalties, and conquer her nightmares once and for all.

#2 - Lord's Fall (Elder Races #5) by Thea Harrison  
Expected publication: November 6th 2012 by Berkley 

In the latest Novel of the Elder Races, two mates find themselves on different paths, torn between their duty to the Wyr and the passion that binds them...

Before she met Dragos, half-human half-wyr Pia Giovanni was alone and on the run. Now, she's mated, pregnant and heading south to repair the Wyr's frayed relationship with the Elves. Being separated from Dragos is painful, but for the good of the Wyr demesne they need to figure out how to be partners, in more places than just the bedroom.

In New York to preside over the Sentinel Games, Dragos is worried about his mate, but knows that finding two replacement sentinels is essential to show the rest of the Elder Races just how strong and brutal the Wyr demesne can be. But as the games heat up, Pia's negotiations with the Elves take a turn for the dangerous, straining her bond with Dragos and threatening everything they hold dear...

#1 - Widow’s Web (Elemental Assassin #7) by Jennifer Estep
 Expected publication: August 21st 2012 by Pocket  

I used to murder people for money, but these days it’s more of a survival technique.

Once an assassin, always an assassin. So much for being plain old Gin Blanco. With every lowlife in Ashland gunning for me, I don’t need another problem, but a new one has come to town.

Salina might seem like a sweet Southern belle, but she’s really a dangerous enemy whose water elemental magic can go head-to-head with my own Ice and Stone power. Salina also has an intimate history with my lover, Owen Grayson, and now that she’s back in town, she thinks he’s hers for the taking.

Salina’s playing a mysterious game that involves a shady local casino owner with a surprising connection to Owen. But they call me the Spider for a reason. I’m going to untangle her deadly scheme, even if it leaves my love affair hanging by a thread.

**BONUS** - Out for Blood (House of Comarré #4) by Kristen Painter 
 Expected publication: October 30th 2012 by Orbit 

After nearly dying at the hands of the Aurelian, Chrysabelle finds new determination to move beyond life as a comarré. That is until the Kubai Mata bring a new task to her doorstep: rescue the child Tatiana has kidnapped, or Mal becomes enemy number one.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

From Dear Author: The Case of The Oatmeal v. FunnyJunk and Charles Carreon

This post is written by Jane of Dear Author and is reproduced in its entirety, as in I copied and pasted the whole thing.  I couldn’t have said it better.

The Oatmeal is a satiric cartoon site run by Matthew Inman. About a year ago, he noticed that his content was being uploaded without attribution to a site called “The FunnJunk.” The FunnyJunk is a site that contains user generated content. This means that account holders post things that they like from all over the internet. Maybe a pre-Pinterest sort of site. The Oatmeal writes to the FunnyJunk requesting that the information be removed.

FunnyJunk took down the comics but proceeded to create a mirror image of The Oatmeal’s website. The Oatmeal responded by asking his readers what to do.

The FunnyJunk responded with a call to action to its own users asking them to inundate The Oatmeal’s inbox and facebook page. The FJ’s users responded in droves using their arsenal of retorts such as gay slurs and incoherently misspelled sentences to insult The Oatmeal and his biological predecessors for having the gall to procreate and, I guess, learn how to spell and draw.

According to Ars Technica, after the furor died down, the FJ admin acted somewhat responsibly, possibly realizing that its site could be in jeopardy due to all the copyrighted material illegally reposted there.
When the flame war finally died down, the FunnyJunk admin issued an unsigned note saying, “We’ve been trying for the longest time to prevent users from posting copyrighted content” and “I’m having all content, comics, comments, etc. with the names of your comics in them deleted/banned by tonight… The site barely affords to stay alive as it is and has enough problems.”
The Oatmeal v. FunnyJunk could have died there in November of 2011, only to be a footnote in internet flamewar history. But no.

The FunnyJunk for some reason came into contact with Charles Carreon, Esq., an attorney who came into national prominence during the sex.com domain name lawsuit. Carreon penned a letter on behalf of FJ, threatening The Oatmeal with a lawsuit for the post where The Oatmeal points out that the FJ has copied his website. Carreon, on behalf of FJ, wants the post to be taken down and $20,000 in damages.

The Oatmeal gets a lawyer and responds back with well worded, backed by research, rebuttal. The Oatmeal also goes on to decide to raise money off this ridiculous situation because so many of his readers want to help but the money isn’t going to Inman, instead he raised money for charity. Initially, he only thought to raise $20,000 for charity but the donations came in thick and fast and in the end, Inman raises over $200,000 which is donated to The American Cancer Society and the National Wildlife Federation.

The Oatmeal v. FunnyJunk could have died there on June 12, 2012, only to be a footnote in internet flamewar history and with its own Wikipedia entry. But no.

The situation gains the attention of the mainstream media and Carreon begins to make personal threats. He expresses wonderment and dismay at the internet’s reaction (he calls it bullying) toward his legal demands of Inman and The Oatmeal. He suggests that there might be other legal problems for the Oatmeal such as the fundraiser being violative of IndieGoGo’s term of service.

The internet continues to make fun of FJ and Carreon. Other attorneys make public statements about Carreon’s actions which include statements like “Holy fucking shitballs inside a burning biplane careening toward the Statue of Liberty, Captain! I hope that the reporter merely got the story wrong, because if not, that’s more fucked up than a rhino raping a chinchilla while dressed up in unicorns’ undergarments. ”

The Oatmeal v. FunnyJunk could have died there later on June 12, 2012, only to be a footnote in internet flamewar history, with its own Wikipedia entry, and a few mainstream media mentions. But no.

Charles Carreon’s pride has been wounded. In his delusionary state, he must see that the only way out is to double down on the Jack and the Six (i.e., worse blackjack hand in the deck). He takes the situation to DefCon 5. Last night, Popehat was alerted by another legal watcher that Charles Carreon has filed a lawsuit against The Oatmeal, IndieGoGo, American Cancer Society, and National Wildlife Federation.
He transcended typical internet infamy when he filed a federal lawsuit last Friday in the United Sates District Court for the Northern District of California in Oakland. He belonged to the ages the moment he filed that lawsuit not only against Matthew Inman, proprietor of The Oatmeal, but also against IndieGoGo Inc., the company that hosted Inman’s ridiculously effective fundraiser for the National Wildlife Federation and the American Cancer Society.
But that level of censorious litigiousness was not enough for Charles Carreon. He sought something more. And so, on that same Friday, Charles Carreon also sued the National Wildlife Federation and the American Cancer Society, the beneficiaries of Matthew Inman’s fundraiser.
Popehat is a site run by a bunch of lawyers and they are offering Inman pro bono legal work and they are asking the internet the following:
1. Kevin and I have offered pro bono help, and will be recruiting other First Amendment lawyers to offer pro bono help. It’s not just Mr. Inman who needs help. IndyGoGo does to. So do the charities. No doubt the charities already have excellent lawyers, but money that they spend fighting Carreon (whatever the causes of action he brought) is money that they don’t have to fight cancer and help wildlife. That’s an infuriating, evil turn of events.
2. You could still donate through the IndieGoGo program The Oatmeal set up. Or you could donate directly to the American Cancer Society or the National Wildlife Federation. I like animals, and I loved my mother who died at 55 of cancer, but I have no qualms whatsoever about encouraging people to donate to those causes as part of a gesture of defiance and contempt against Charles Carreon and the petulant, amoral, censorious douchebaggery he represents.
3. Spread the word. Tell this story on blogs, forums, and social media. Encourage people to donate as part of a gesture of defiance of Charles Carreon and entitled butthurt censors everywhere. Help the Streisand Effect work.
4. Do not, under any circumstances, direct abusive emails or calls or other communications to Mr. Carreon. That helps him and hurts the good guys. I don’t take his claims of victimhood at face value — not in the least — but such conduct is wrong, and empowers censors.
Part 1Part 2Part 3, and Part IV from Popehat.

Feel free to copy this entire post and repost it (even without attribution) anywhere you can.

Monday, June 18, 2012

REVIEW: Caris Roane's Ascension

Book: Ascension

Author: Caris Roane

Series: The World of Ascension

Publishing stats: December 28th 2010 by St. Martin's Paperbacks (USA)

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Cover Blurb: On The Wings of Desire

Alison Wells is no ordinary woman. Born with super-natural powers, she can never make love to a man without putting him in grave danger. But when her special vision reveals a glorious muscled man soaring overhead on might wings, she feels an overwhelming attraction she cannot resist-even as he tells her “I have come for you. Your blood belong to me.”

In the Heat of Passion

Kerrick is a vampire and a warrior who has fought his hunger for a woman’s love for the past two hundred years. As a Guardian of Ascension, he is sworn to protect Alison from the death vamp armies who crave her blood and her power. But Kerrick has cravings of his own-a forbidden longing to open his heart and veins to Alison. To share his blood…satisfy his thirst…and seal their fates forever.


First line: Kerrick stood by the bar at The Blood and Bite, looking for a woman, the right woman, the one that would keep his head straight, the one he craved.

What I liked: This book had humans transcending to live as super-powered, vampire-angels hybrid warriors. Just...think about that for a minute. One minute the main character - Alison - is just your ordinary, one of the mill psychologist. Sure, her psyche isn't the healthiest, but she's basically pretty normal. The next minute she's shooting beams out of her hands, teleporting all over, taking telepathic strolls, rewriting genetic code with her thoughts, and being informed her wings are on order. It's ridiculous. And yet...it works. Somehow, with the plot, with these characters, what you would normally think of as beyond campy comes across as exotic and sexy.

What I didn’t like: I hate those romances where the hero and heroine dillydally getting together because of they let their pasts get between them. Repeatedly. Alison allowed her greatest fears to be played against her by the enemy and Kerrick lets her go because he fears the danger his lifestyle might pose to her. And you know what? I'd be just fine with that...if both of them weren't already in danger independently. I mean, heck, if bad guys are going to be targeting both you and your significant love regardless of whether or not you're together, using that as your reason not to be together is just plain dumb. 

Overall: Ms. Roane works with a large cast, including - but in no way limited to - over a half dozen warriors, their femme fatale boss, her administrative staff, the Big Bad, his minions and Alison's family. Dips are made into several of the characters' back story - including two of the bad guys and the roots are laid for the romance of set to take centre stage in book two. The most amazing part of all this, however, is that the writing accomplishes all this without sacrificing the integrity of any other elements. A truly amazing feat when you take in just how complex and varied a book this really is.

Would I read this author again: Yes. I love the flow of the writing and the vein of humour that runs through it. Definitely makes future books worth the read.

My rating: ♥♥♥♥/5

To purchase the book for yourself, you can find it at Chapters.Indigo.ca, Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble or The Book Depository. Enjoy!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Top 5 Sundays #7 - Finished Series I Wish Would Come Back

Aha, another week, another Top 5. This week's topic is the top 5 finished series I wish would resurrect; not as easy to answer as you might think. Take, for example, one of my favourite series, Gail Carriger's The Parasol Protectorate. It recently ended with the publication of the fifth book, Timeless, earlier this year, and while I was sad to see the curtain close on Alexa, Maccon and the rest of the cast, I have to admit things came to a satisfying finish. Recently, Nicole Peeler posted on The League of Reluctant Adults blog an explanation for the impending conclusion of her Jane True series. In her words,
I wanted to end in control of the character and the book, and in a way that satisfied me and, hopefully, my readers. As a reader myself, I remember with love the series that left me wanting more--the ones that ended when I was still involved, still engaged. So that's how I wanted Jane's story to be. I wanted to end before I lost the flow of the original idea, or got bored with my own character, or bored my readers.
And I have to admit that I agree with her.When it comes to a series, sooner or later, no matter how much you love the characters, the plots, the writing, there comes a time when you just want to know how it all ends.

And sometimes, things end too soon and you're left staring at the last page wondering if a printing error has cut a chapter or two off the end. "Seriously?!" you think - or possibly shout out loud, "this is how it ends?! But...what happened next?! And what happened to this or that secondary character?!"

This week's list  highlights some of those moments and at the same time goes out as a sort of wish list. Maybe...just maybe...

#5 - Lilith Saintcrow's Dante Valentine series
Since this series ended with its fifth book's publication in 2008, its had at least three short stories release focusing on secondary characters. One in particular - "Coming Home" in 2008's The Mammoth Book of Vampire Romance - took up the story of Dante's ward, Liana, and made it abundantly clear how awesome she'd be if given a chance to shine in her own series.

#4 - S.J. Day's Marked series
This was an amazing series that put a fantastic new spin on angels, demons, and, most important, Cain and Abel. It had mystery, romance, tragedy, adventure and even a journey of self-discovery. It was beyond epic. And then it was over. Fortunately, the third book's cliffhanger was resolved in a short story published recently in The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance 2, but tossed in a brand new one in its place.

#3 - Gena Showalter's Tales of an Extraordinary Girl series
This was a humourous, romantic, super-powered romp that could well use a third installment. After all, Belle and her main man, Rome, fell in love in Playing with Fire and wed in Twice as Hot in a classic take on first comes love, then comes marriage...isn't the baby carriage due to make its appearance now?

#2 - Michelle Rowen's Living in Eden series
So, okay, Eden and Darrak got themselves a happily ever after. Ditto Ben and Lena. But what about Lucas? Poor guy is still the Bruce Banner of fallen angels, still stuck with the worst job known to man or angel...and once you got over the Satan thing, he really was something of a sweet guy. Doesn't he deserve a shot at happily ever after too?


#1 - Rachel Vincent's Shifters series
The last book in this series ends with a marriage proposal on a battlefield and the sense that Faythe was too stubborn and determined not to win her way with the Council thereafter. Since then, I've been eagerly awaiting an announcement for a new series featuring Kaci, Faythe's ward, as the new main character. She was thirteen years old when she first popped up in Pride so popping back in ten years later...well, it's working great for Keri Arthur's Dark Angel series and I think Rachel Vincent would do just as well!

And there you have it - my Top 5. Tune in next week for more. Ciao!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Elementary, My Dear - The Imbalance of Love Triangles

Love triangles are impossible - they never get to the point.
*Be advised this post contains mild spoilers

Love triangles have been a pretty common trope in popular culture since before the scandal that was Hephaestus, Aphrodite, and Ares. Talk about your uncomfortable endings. Love triangles are a pesky little phenomenon wherein one character has two simultaneously love interests, both with equal potential for providing the highly coveted happily ever after. I personally find that it's a lot like having two fairy tales sharing the princess and knowing only one can have the happy ending. Which just plain sucks if you happen to be rooting for the other guy...and, with my track record, I usually am.

So, love triangles. Popular yet frustrating. And that's putting it mildly. To borrow the definition used by Television Tropes & Idioms:
A is in love with B, but B is in love with C, resulting in wacky hijinks. Alternatively, A and B are both in love with C, who is torn between the two and must make a choice. In the latter case, A and B tend to be Betty and Veronica; in the former, A will usually be a Romantic False Lead or Hopeless Suitor.

Can sometimes lead to A stepping back because They Just Want Their Beloved To Be Happy. Alternately, A is a total jerk or Clingy Jealous Girl, making it completely okay for B to get C. Of course, A could just engage in a bit of Relationship Sabotage, perhaps even to the point of Murdering The Hypotenuse, but that would be overly cynical.

Very common in Soap Opera.
In other words, Cupid went crazy, got three people caught up in love and no matter how you cut the resulting cake someone is going to get hurt, though sometimes that last part is well deserved. Personally, I always find love triangles to be frustrating as hell. You devote a good deal of time, energy, and emotion rooting for a particular outcome, invested in a specific pairing and just when you're about ready to scream obscenities, either the other couple proves endgame or Death comes to call and makes the decision moot.

Take the King Arthur/Guinevere/Lancelot triangle. Its conclusion? Lancelot dies, Guinevere becomes a nun and Arthur is taken to Avalon to take a nap. Needless to say, Arthurian legends don't really go for happily ever after. More recently, the Sam/Mercy/Adam triangle from Patricia Briggs' Mercedes Thompson series ended with Sam withdrawing when he realized his love had turned to brotherly affection somewhere along the line. My biggest problem with these so-called resolutions is that they give the impression that the hero won the maiden's hand by default; she didn't choose between her options, Fate got tired of waiting and made it for her. Which is not to say Guinevere didn't enjoy life as a nun or that Mercy doesn't legitimately love Adam; that's irrelevant. This is more like a player folding suddenly in the middle of the card game. Sure, the remaining  player wins the pot, but you're still left wondering if he still would have won had the other player hadn't folded.

Worse still are those triangles that border on the ridiculous for no other reason than you can't imagine how they got themselves into such a situation to begin. Alex Craft, for instance, heroine of Kalayna Price's Grave Witch books, has got herself torn between Death, a grim reaper who exists in a whole other plane of existence, and Falin, a Fae knight bound body and soul to service of the Winter Queen. Unattainable much? And then there's the absurdity of Karen Chance's Mircea/Cassie/Pritkin triangle. Mircea's wrapped up in duties and loyalties to the vampire nation, Cassie is saddled with the responsibility to serve as the supernatural community's neutral judge and Pritkin is a cranky as hell incubus/human sorcerer halfbreed bound to Daddy Dearest...oh, and did I mention Cassie is mortal and the guys are immortal? How can any combination therein lead to happily ever after without somebody breaking first? Ultimately, these sort of triangles aren't so much about who the heroine chooses as they are about who can work themselves out of their less than ideal circumstances.

And of course there are those delightfully pointless triangles where you know, just know, that no matter what one of the heroes is endgame leaving the other as just another tension-inciting obstacle. Take Rachel Vincent's Marc/Faythe/Jace triangle where, on one side, you have the boy she's been in love with since she was a teenager, who she almost married once before, who she's been getting back together with, and on the other you have her brother's best fest friend. Yes, she loved them both, yes they were both great guys in their own ways, but the cards were definitely stacked in Marc's favour from the outset making the whole decision waffling process more of an exercise in time wasting than anything else. Like the lactose intolerant kid trying to decide between ice cream or fruit salad for dessert.

Triangles are exhausting, pure and simple, and no matter what they leave someone unhappy, both in and out of the book. What I do like, however, are those scenarios where a triangle looks to be set up but never actually comes to fruition. A particularly good example of this can be found in Jennifer Estep's Elemental Assassin series. The first book sets up a relationship between assassin Gin Blanco and ace detective Donovan Caine while Owen Grayson is introduced as a fringe character in the second book. By the end of that second book, Donovan has decided not to risk tarnishing his golden boy image and leaves town, paving the way for Owen to move in the role romantic lead in the third book. Donovan then reappears in the sixth book, at point where Owen and Gin's relationship has had a chance to deepen and cement itself, and has all of his loose ends tied up neat as can be. Incidentally, Nicole Peeler has something similar happen in her Jane True series when the role of romantic male lead shifts from Ryu, who'd held the position for the first two books, to Anyan at the end of the third.

Overall, it must be said, that I much prefer when one couple struggles and strives together over having to wait around to see who wins the girl. I like it when those will-they-or-won't-they concerns get wrapped up quickly, allowing the focus to be on developing one relationship over the course of the series. Take Kate and Curran from Ilona Andrews' writing. Yes, in the series' fourth book they finally, officially got together as a mated couple, but there's still plenty of other problems causing them tension; he's leading a pack of over fifteen hundred shapeshifters, afterall, and her dad is a crazy, god-like, necromantic super-wizard. Those issues actually have an effect on their relationship - sometimes good, sometimes bad - and require that they work on solving/overcoming them TOGETHER. Much, much more appealing to me than having to do so in duplicate with two different guys, one of whom will inevitably be booted from the love nest.

But, hey. to each their own.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

REVIEW: Seanan McGuire's Discount Armageddon

Book: Discount Armageddon

Author: Seanan McGuire

Series: InCryptid

Publishing stats: March 6th 2012 by DAW (USA)

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Cover Blurb: Ghoulies. Ghosties. Long-legged beasties. Things that go bump in the night... The Price family has spent generations studying the monsters of the world, working to protect them from humanity-and humanity from them. Enter Verity Price. Despite being trained from birth as a cryptozoologist, she'd rather dance a tango than tangle with a demon, and is spending a year in Manhattan while she pursues her career in professional ballroom dance. 

Sounds pretty simple, right? It would be, if it weren't for the talking mice, the telepathic mathematicians, the asbestos supermodels, and the trained monster-hunter sent by the Price family's old enemies, the Covenant of St. George. When a Price girl meets a Covenant boy, high stakes, high heels, and a lot of collateral damage are almost guaranteed. To complicate matters further, local cryptids are disappearing, strange lizard-men are appearing in the sewers, and someone's spreading rumors about a dragon sleeping underneath the city...


A lifetime of training isn't enough to prepare Verity for what's ahead - especially not for Dominic De Luca, the Covenant's newest operative. When a Price girl meets a Covenant boy, high stakes, high heel, and a lot of collateral damage are almost guaranteed.

First line: Verity danced circles around the living room, her amateurish pirouettes and unsteady leaps accompanied by cheers and exultations from the horde of Aeslin mice perched on the back of the couch.

What I liked: The tone of this book had an inherent humour that proved to be not only engaging but damn amusing. The writing of this book definitely had a lighter, funner tone than Ms. McGuire's October Daye series that, in my opinion, really let stand out. Heck, if not for her name on the cover, I never would have guessed the same author wrote both series; a true accomplishment, I think, for any author writing multiple series. Additionally, I also love the little genre-savvy family sayings that subtitle each chapter (e.g. “Never tell anyone to be careful, never ask what that noise was, and for the love of God, never, ever say that you'll be right back." —Evelyn Baker”). 

What I didn’t like: It ended much too soon. I loved this book and waiting for the next book - in particular to see how the relationship between Dominic and Verity develops (if this turns into a love triangle in coming books, I'll scream) - is going to be rough. With Ms. McGuire working on something like four series at the moment - two of them published - it's understandable, but that doesn't make the wait itself any easier to deal with!

Overall: I love how balance played a running theme throughout the book, particularly in characters. You have Verity Price, the descendent of rogue monster hunters turned cryptyozoologists, trying to balance familial duty with her dancing ambitions. You have Dominic De Luca, devout follower of the monster hunting Covenant, trying to balance what he's been taught to believe his whole life with what he's learning first hand in the field with Verity. You have the entire Price family trying to studying the cryptids of the world and maintain a balance between the dangerous and the necessary. It was delightful.

Would I read this author again: HELL YES! The second book in this series, Midnight Blue-Light Special, comes out next spring and cannot come too soon.

My rating: ♥♥♥♥♥/5

To purchase the book for yourself, you can find it at Chapters.Indigo.ca, Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, or Barnes & Noble. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

New Feature: Elementary, My Dear - Explanation

In my infinite wisdom, I've come to the conclusion that Calliope's Domain needs a unique feature all its own. Yes, yes, there are reviews and interviews and Top 5 Sundays, but what this blog needs is something that helps it to stand out, that makes it unique, that will help it be heard from the tangled depths of this blogger's jungle. That it will have the added bonus, er, I mean consequence of killing a couple hours of my time...well, that is a sacrifice I am prepared and willing to make. Because that's just the sort of blogger I am - the sacrificial sort. Although now that I write that I'm not entirely sure it means what I think it does...but you get the idea. I hope.

By this point, I'm sure anyone still reading is rolling their eyes and grumbling at me to just get on with it. I get on with it I shall. This new feature I've thought up is going to be call "Elementary, My Dear." It feature will be a weekly (although, once school commences in the fall it may become biweekly) exploration of one element or another that make up the sort books Calliope's Domain promotes, namely urban fantasy, paranormal romance and whatever-I-happened-to-pick-up-and-find-intriguing. Once blog traffic picks up, there will actually be a weekly poll on the topic, much like Larissa of Larissa's Bookish Life now hosts for the Top 5 Sundays theme. 


So. There you have it. Thoughts? Suggestions? Critique? Head to the comments and let me have it!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Top 5 Sundays #6 - Fave Books from First Half of 2012!

When I sat down to put this week's Top 5 together my biggest problem actually turned out to be knowing whether or not a book was actually released in  2012 or in late 2011. This is what happens when you fall behind on your TBR pile - you start to lose track of when exactly you added any given book to the pile. It's sad really and clearly I need to engage in some major catching up over the summer. Cue sigh here.

Well, in any case, here is Calliope's Domain Top 5 Fave Books from [hopefully] the First Half of 2012.

#5 - Summoning the Night by Jenn Bennett

Publication Date: April 24, 2012 | Series: Arcadia Bell

This was a fun read with a good balance of adventure, mystery, romance and family bonding. It developed the characters and plot lines from the first book while simultaneously standing on its own. You can read my full review of the book here.

#4 - Sacrificial Magic by Stacia Kane

Publication Date: March 27, 2012 | Series: Downside Ghosts

What I love about this series is its ability to make me wince. Chess, the main character, is an drug addicted, ghost exorcising, haunting debunking, top-of-her-game witch living a world ruled by the Church with an underside that even Satan would hesitate to visit. And somehow what it all boils down to is a girl wallowing in self-loathing, solving mysteries that coincidentally interconnect, and having boy troubles. Honestly, what's not to love?

#3 - By a Thread by Jennifer Estep

Publication Date: February 28, 2012 | Series: Elemental Assassin

Finally, finally, those last pesky plot threads left hanging are tied up, neat as can be. Ever wonder what became of Detective Caine (the slime ball who left at the end of book two, Web of Lies, disappointed that Gin had managed to survive a mine collapse)? Were you left questioning whether Bria, Gin's cop sister, would truly be able to accept her sister The Spider? Did you want more Owen? This book delivered all that and more. 

#2 - Nice Girls Don't Bite their Neighbors by Molly Harper

Publication Date: February 28, 2012 | Series: Jane Jameson

Jane has got to be one of my favourite vampires. And why shouldn't she be? Between her love of books, her quirky, sarcastic, spastic nature and her inability to go more than a day without walking into one calamity or another, there's a lot to love about her. In this latest installment in her series, Jane tackles siring a teenage vampire - and dealing with the consequences - the homicidal intentions of some unknown stalker bent on revenge and, perhaps worst of all, planning her wedding. It was funny, it was surprising, it was every bit as good as its predecessors and, really, what more can you ask?

#1 - Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire

Publication Date: March 6, 2012 | Series: InCryptid

I loved this book! It was funny and quirky and romantic and surprising and a hundred other things, all of them good. I was intrigued by the premise and all it had to offer - an exiled family of cryptozoologists, the beasts they study, a daughter trying to balance her familial duties with her love of dance while striking out on her own in NYC, a hardcore monster slayer from an order of zealots trying to balance his duty with the intrigue he feels for a certain dancing cryptozoologist, and a whole slew of talking, devout mice, to name just a handful. All in all, an amazing read - I cannot wait for the second book to release!

And there you have it - my Top 5. Tune in next week for more. Ciao!

Friday, June 8, 2012

REVIEW: Vicki Pettersson's The Scent of Shadows

Book: The Scent of Shadows

Author: Vicki Pettersson

Series: Signs of the Zodiac (Joanna Archer)

Publishing stats: February 27th 2007 by Eos (USA)

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Cover Blurb: The First Sign of the Zodiac

When she was sixteen, Joanna Archer was brutally assaulted and left to die in the Nevada desert.

By rights, she should be dead.

Now a photographer by day, she prowls a different Las Vegas after sunset – a grim, secret Sin City where Light battles Shadow – seeking answers to whom or what she really is … and revenge for the horrors she was forced to endure.

But the nightmare is just beginning – for the demons are hunting Joanna, and the powerful Shadows want her for their own…

First line: He didn't look dangerous, not at first glance.

What I liked: This book's heroine, Joanna Archer, is an interesting blend of strength of vulnerability. After a childhood trauma, she goes out of her way to take control of her life and develop the necessary skills to ensure she'd never be anyone's victim ever again. Unfortunately, the shadow of that first trauma never truly dissipates and its effect can be seen in so much of who and what she is. Overall, she's a truly complex and intriguing character and I loved seeing her layers unfurl chapter after chapter.

What I didn’t like: The story of this book seems to be incredibly drawn out. It was a lot like reading a story about a viking who starts out telling you he's going to die the next day then takes about a hundred and fifty pages to work up to it. You then spend the next hundred and fifty pages waiting for the Valkyrie to show up so he can go to Valhalla where you hope the story's going to pick up. In the meantime, your viking is essentially stuck in some kind of Snakes and Ladders game that gets him caught up in some sort of deranged cycle. It was frustrating to say the least.

Overall: It was not a bad book but it wasn't a great book either. I loved the characters. I loved the relationships and interactions that went on. I especially loved the whole premise of the story; Pettersson took comic book mythology, shook it up, and remolded it into an exciting and intricate mythology all her own. Her incorporation of the Zodiac signs into the battle of good versus evil - referred to as Light versus Shadow - was more than skin deep and infused not only the story but the characters as well. Most of my displeasure with the book, as stated previously, derived from the pacing and redundancy of the plot.

Would I read this author again: Yes. This is the first book in the series, after all, and it wasn't horrible. I would want to read at least the second book before passing judgment on the merits of continuing.

My rating: ♥♥/5

To purchase the book for yourself, you can find it at Chapters.Indigo.ca, Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, or Barnes & Noble. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Top 5 Sundays #5 - Childhood & Early Teenage Years Books

With Larissa from Larissa's Bookish Life absent this week (lucky b*tch is serving as maid of honour at her friend's wedding), I decided to take this opportunity to dig up her very first Top 5 theme - Childhood & Early Teenage Years Books - and have a go at it myself. Now, lucky me, I happened to be one of those nerdy little girls whose friends more often than not tended to be fictional, sad but true. Think the fact I was exempt from physical activity and the outdoors in less than perfect weather (thank you, congenital hip dysplasia!) had a lot to do with it - it gave me lots and lots and lots of time alone in a school. Basically, I could read or explore the school's rather restricted internet service. By mid grade 5, I had absolutely, positively every book in the school's library. Listed below, in no particular order, are my five fav picks.

#5 - Green Eggs and Ham written and illustrated by Dr. Seuss 

 "I do not like green eggs and ham! I do not like them, Sam-I-Am!" So, it's no secret that I am a HUGE fan of Dr. Seuss. From his rhyme schemes to his nonsensical statements and made-up whatchamacallits, I loved everything this man ever put to paper but none so much as Green Eggs and Ham. I mean, heck, this was the book I learned to read with! A true classic, no question.

#4 - The Never Ending Story by Michael Ende

 After about the tenth time, it became more than a little annoying to read the false start of a side-story of one sort or another abruptly cut off with the phrase, "But that's another story, for another time." And yet, somehow, Sebastian's main story kept me intrigued enough to keep from throwing the book across the room. Plus, given that this book's 448 page length I still recall vividly how proud my grade two self was to finish it.

#3 - The Babysitters Club by Ann M. Martin

I very much doubt there's a girl anywhere in North America who has never read so much as one Babysitters Club book. With the narrative rotating between the club members - originally tomboy Kristy, shy Mary-Anne, eccentric Claudia and sophisticated Stacy - and the stories focusing on issues every preteen (and later teen and I think even YA later on) could relate to, these books were terrific.

#2 - The Phantom Tollbooth written by Norton Juster and illustrated by Jules Feiffer 

You ever read one of those books that somehow manage to flamboyantly flaunt the lesson its trying to teach while somehow keeping it subtle at the same time? Well, this book blows all those right out of the water. With a blend of nonsensical logic and comedic tone, this book made me shoot juice out of nose several times and, in the end, really gave me an appreciation for school and all it had to offer. Quite the impressive feat.

#1 - The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien 

Oh, come on now, who doesn't love this book? Unlike the more complex epic that is The Lord of the Rings, this prequel, told in more simplistic language, was a fun and exciting romp through a fantasy world without the need to follow five different story lines and reference who-knows-how-many appendices. It's about a hobbit who accompanies a dozen dwarfs on a quest to reclaim their mines from a dragon - which leads to some lovely encounters with a trio of trolls, a bear-shifter, a forest of drunken elves and that Gollum creature of absolutely no consequence (note the sarcasm font) - and then hangs around to partake in a war. It's fantasy adventure at its purest, hands down.

And there you have it - Calliope's Domain's Top 5 Childhood & Early Teenage Years Books! Tune in next week for more. Kiss, kiss, loveys.