Feb. 12th, 2011

naomi_jay: (fire breathing)
 


I should make two confessions before I go any further. One, I am completely fascinated by spontaneous human combustion, and two, I really love reptiles and would quite like a salamander of my own. Therefore it probably should be a surprise that I adored Sparks, the second of Laura Bickle's Lantern series (I think it's called the Lantern series anyway?).

All things I loved about Embers are still here - Anya and Sparky, the beautifully described city of Detroit, which is almost a character itself, the ragtag group of ghost hunters that Anya reluctantly helps, and the ever-present themes of fire, destruction, loss, and ghosts. But this is far from a retread of Embers; Bickle expands her world with the second installment, introducing new elements such as the Afterworld, new characters like the enigmatic but charming Charon, and new dangers - like the aforementioned spontaneous human combustion. Anya, a fire investigator for the Detroit fire department, is called in to investigate a house fire that appears to have been caused by a case of SHC, although of course nobody really buys into that. I loved that Bickle explored this myth without being heavy-handed and info-dumping - references to the wick effect made me squee because I know about that stuff, but for someone who's never heard of it, there was enough information there to be enlightening without overwhelming the actual plot.

And the plot is fascinating! Bickle gives us believable evils, and proves that UF doesn't always have to be inhuman monsters - Hope Solomon is very human (although like Anya she has some supernatural abilities), but still very sinister and skin-creeping. Her confrontations with Anya, and the insidious sense of danger around her are so well-written I could be jealous... And it's not just Hope Solomon giving me shivers in this book; Brian, Anya's boyfriend, shows a few new facets to his personality that made both me and Anya look at him a little differently (I should admit at this point that I'm now secretly hoping for an Anya/Charon hook-up, so some of my mistrust of Brian may be unwarranted).

But the real start of Sparks is Sparky himself. And this time he has babies! I'm not always a fan of animal sidekicks in books, especially if authors are prone to either making them talk or making them so intelligent they're practically human. But Sparky is just adorable (and he doesn't talk!). He's clever and charming and it's a credit to Bickle's writing that she can convey this purely through his actions and noises, rather than trying to anthropomorphism him for laughs. His relationship with Anya is sweet and touching. Anya herself is a great heroine - brave and self-sufficient, but never straying into the unpleasant "angry chick" territory that occurs in this genre. She's a loner, but she still has friends. She has tragedy in her past but she's never a martyr. She's the kind of character I can imagine going for drinks with.

I could go on about this book for ever... It's gritty, atmospheric, it's different from other UF in the best possible way, and the writing is beautiful. I don't know if there are any more books scheduled for this series, but the potential is definitely there, and I really hope there'll be a lot more adventures with Anya and Sparky in the future.

 
3 / 24 words. 13% done!
naomi_jay: (Elder god quote)
So I think I've mentioned before that 2011 is going to be my year of living dangerously. I mean, I'm not going to swim with sharks or anything, but I am going to try more things in an effort to make more of a career writing-wise. I set up a "Naomi Clark, author" Facebook page a while back, but it doesn't seem to be doing anything for me so I'm going to quietly drop it. I have a lot more friends on my regular Facebook page, and I haven't gotten over my squeamishness at requesting people go and "like" the author page. I feel like I don't have the right to tell you what you should like and it's too much like spamming for me. And it's not Twitter. I love Twitter. I don't love Facebook.

I have wondered about setting up a Blogger site again, or Wordpress, and mirroring the writerly content here, there. I love Livejournal because I love you guys, I love the Friends page, and I love the comment system a lot more than Blogger's. But I also love that I can flock entries here and rant and rave in an unprofessional manner if I want to. And I'd like to keep that separate from my writerly stuff. On the other hand, I feel ... established on Livejournal, and having exactly the same content somewhere else that nobody might bother visiting seems a waste of time. But I don't know, I could be wrong. Opinions welcome!

I even considered setting up a Myspace page, then immediately dismissed the idea because ... Myspace? Really?

I don't know if there any other social media platforms I'm overlooking? I feel really uncomfortable being all up in people's faces. I've joined Kindleboards, but that place is like ... intimidating, and I can't figure out what I am and aren't allowed to post there. I can't do the whole cold sell thing where I'm just all "HEY BUY MY STUFF!" at people. I like to feel like I'm not just shilling, you know? I feel like everyone here who comments and whose blogs I comment on are my friends, not potential customers. I like interacting with you all, and if you buy my books because you like it too, that's great! But that's not going to make me into a full-time writer, so I need to get over the icky squeamishness. So that's one of the reasons I'm considering the Blogger option - a site completely dedicated to Writer Nome. Although I'd probably still end up talking about giant squid and Matt Berry and stuff, so again, seems like a waste of time.

I don't know! Help me, Livejournal. I think I need a Pot Noodle for this.

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