Lessons from My Reading

M. K. Theodoratus, Fantasy Writer, blogs about the books she reads--mostly fantasy and mystery authors whose books catch her eye and keep her interest. Nothing so formal as a book review, just chats about what she liked. Theodoratus also mutters about her own writing progress or ... lack of it.

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Monday, June 22, 2015

Maximizing Tension -- Focus Danger on Former Side-Kick

    Rather liked the break I took last week from reading Karen Marie Moning's Iced. Dani O'Malley, the Mega, superhero in the making, moves too fast and too much for a comfortable read. Besides, I found her bratty ways annoying. But the storyline about chasing a  Fae freezing Dublin had me hooked. I returned to the book after last week's Only a Promise review.

   Iced concentrates on a different protagonist than Mac in this installment of Moning's Fever series. Once allies against predatory Fae in previous books in the Fever series, Dani and McKayla Lane are now estranged after McKayla learned that Dani killed her sister. Granted the act was done in innocence, under orders, but McKayla can't forgive. Dani misses McKayla's friendship but the loss doesn't stop her from her main goal--saving Dublin from Unseelie Fae after the walls protecting the human world crashed. The first few chapters have Dani being tricked into solving a mystery as to what is freezing people and buildings by the enigmatic Ryodan.

   But that's only one of the conflicts Moning juggles in Iced. Everyone's fighting in this dark novel about the consequences of the wall the between the Fae and human worlds crashing. Good guys fight good guys. Bad guys fight bad guys. The various good guys fight the bad guys and vice versa. The alliances shift so fast your head spins. You almost need a playlist to keep everyone straight...or at least, pay attention. One thing sure is you won't confuse the two outright villains--the Hoar Frost King and the Crimson Hag.  Moning is a master character builder as well as a plot meister.

   Dani's age figures large in this book. Fourteen. In the previous Fever books, she jerked the tone of the story around with her bratty attitude when her viewpoint appeared. Her attitude still jars in Iced. She switches from an irritating brat to being sometimes wise, and often funny. Don't think it was the wisest thing for Moning to have two grown men sexually attracted to a fourteen year old. I realize the timeline of the story doesn't allow Dani to be any older, and Moning keeps making allusions to speculations about what Dani would be like as a woman. But...

   Am still thinking about one bit from the story. What does Dani do when the Snickers run out.

The story is an engrossing read with great characters. Even some of Ryodan's goons come across as individuals. The storyline gallops almost as fast as Dani shifts. See an excerpt and read more reviews on


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A bonus review, for the heck of it.

    Last week I also re-read Georgette Heyer's Devil's Cub, the middle book in what might be called the Alastair series. I had been thinking about the book since all the French fuss over Belgium wanting to issue a Waterloo commemorative Euro. While this book ends well before Regency times, the grandchildren of the couple in this story are major characters in Heyer's Waterloo story, An Infamous Army.

   I've reread the book many times over the years [in a 1971 95c Bantam edition]. This time I created an avalanche of Heyer novels getting to it. The book was written in 1931, about ten years into Heyer's writing career.

   Two things struck me. First, Heyer's characterizations. Granted she helped temper the mold for the fiery, autocratic gentleman tamed by a worthy female, but the protagonists still seemed well-rounded characters to me. Second, while some paragraphs seemed overlong by today's standards, her dialog still sparkles, like it feels like people are really talking as they might have spoken in Georgian times...without being overly convoluted.

My one minor criticism: the ending felt like a Keystone cops chase with all though chaises chasing around. But it rose above plain silliness because the humor rose from the essence of the characters that appeared in the final pages. Yeah. I still recommend the books. Heyer was one of the founding writers of the Regency romance, a subgenre that's endured almost 100 years.


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My Writing Wheel

   Again I've been feeling like a squirrel spinning my little wheel round and round and not getting very far. Did get a new snippet of On the Run up on my website, introducing Grylerrque, the demon antagonist. But I'm still rewriting previously written chapters. This week, I'm finally working Pillar's school days where she learns more about controlling her magic. Still have a bunch of chapters in between to rewrite/edit. Some chapters are rougher than others.

   Can't resist a book plug. My website offers longer excerpts of my stories than the venders do. Also, am thinking about offering extended snippets in a newsletter. Anybody interested?

   Oh, I'm also making progress on the edits of the revised Taking Vengeance. Not done yet, but I've added over 2,000 words. Also like this cover better than the old one since Mariah looks more mature.
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