Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Confessions of an Angry Girl

Confessions of an Angry Girl is a debut novel by Louise Rozett, and the first book in her Confessions series.  Rose Zarelli is starting her freshman year at Union High School, and if you thought your high school days sucked, there is a good chance Rose's freshman year tops that.  Practically the whole town is walking on eggshells and the faculty at school are treating her like she's fragile because her dad died over the summer; he was an engineer, and when he lost his job, he went to Iraq on a contract with the military.  He was riding in a convoy when they went over an IED.

Her mother has been in shock since she got the call, and is completely distant.  Her brother is off at college and he seems to have changed, too.  Rose is angry.  She's cynical, irritable, and everything seems to be going completely wrong this year.  It's not just her family, either - her best friend, Tracy, is a fashion-conscious cheerleader on a quest to be popular.  Rose doesn't really give a shit whether or not she's one of the "cool kids."  She doesn't understand Tracy's new obsessions with partying and losing her virginity to her jerk jock boyfriend, Matt.  She doesn't seem to understand anything that any of her classmates find interesting or cool or fun.  But whatever.

And then, there is Jamie Forta.  She used to have a crush on him, back when he played hockey with her brother.  Seeing him again, maybe she still likes him.  He seems interested in talking to her, maybe being friends, but there's no way he could be into her - she's not pretty, and she's pretty much his complete opposite.  I mean, she's an AP student, and he's in remedial English.  He got kicked out of hockey for high-sticking another kid, and he's still apparently kind of a badass.  Nope, no way a guy like that would be interested in a girl like her.  Oh, and there's also the fact that he's dating a cheerleader - Regina.  One of her ex-best-friend's new best friends.  Regina's psychotically jealous and kind of a bitch, and has convinced herself there is something going on between Rose and Jamie; so of course she makes it her singular ambition to make Rose's life hell.

Things kind of spiral way out of control, as you may have guessed.  So yeah, Rose is angry.  She's sorta pissed, actually.  How can you not become completely irate, enraged, furious...when your life is falling to pieces all around you?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Innocent Mage

Karen Miller's fantasy duology, Kingmaker, Kingbreaker, begins with The Innocent Mage; Asher is a humble fisherman's son, the youngest of several, and the unspoken favorite.  His father is getting old, however, his health and spirits never quite the same since his wife's death.  Asher vowed to himself that he would leave their village of Restharven and make his way inland to the city; there, he would find a way to make a fortune.  The idea being that after one year, he would return home to purchase a new boat for himself and his father, and have enough left over for his father to live the rest of his days in comfort.

What Asher doesn't know is that someone is expecting him.

Asher is Olken, the native race of Lur.  Simple country folk, who became peasants and servants to the kingdom that was established with the arrival of the refugee Doranen people.  The Doranen are a race of powerful magicians who fled their home on the other side of the mountains and their leader, Barl, created a magical wall along the mountains and along a newly created reef along the coast, a ward surrounding the new kingdom from the outside world and the danger of her former beloved, Morgan.  The wall is held firmly in place by the subtle, natural magic of the Olken people, along with the fabrication of inland weather patterns by herself.  The creation of the wall is her undoing, however, and the task of maintaining the protection of the wall falls to her successors; ever since those times, each king's heir has had the additional title of Weather-Worker.  And as the centuries went by, the Doranen magic being blatant and strong, it became forgotten that the Olken possessed a magic of their own.

Forgotten by all, except for those members of a small secret society, and the seer, Jervale's Heir.  It is this seer who has had visions of Asher in connection with the prophecy of the Innocent Mage and the Final Days.   It becomes even more clear to her that he is the one they've been waiting for, when by chance, Asher is offered a position at the palace stables by Prince Gar.  All the signs seem to be falling into place.

Asher is surly and more than a little rough around the edges, though, and while his unapologetic honesty earns him the respect of the prince, it also may earn him some enemies.  As the year passes, Dathne becomes uncertain with the waiting whether she was correct in interpreting her visions of him.

Sunday, January 13, 2013


Breed by Chase Novak (pseudonym for Scott Spencer) starts out with the reader meeting Alex and Leslie Twisden, a wealthy Manhattan couple, madly in a very Happily Ever After, devil-may-care kind of love.  They live on the Upper East Side, in a beautiful town house that has been in Alex's family for generations.  Alex is a well-known, highly successful lawyer, and Leslie has a respected position as an editor of children's books.  Their life together is perfect, except for one thing:  they want a child.  They want a child badly, especially Alex; he is a bit older than Leslie and considers adoption a very last resort, if it's to be an option at all.  He's old-fashioned and wants a proper heir; he wants to continue the Twisden line, and that means leaving a genetic legacy.  Money is no object, but while it can purchase every known treatment at every possible clinic with every fertility specialist they can find, no amount can guarantee that Leslie will conceive.  

Just when they're about ready to give up on trying to get pregnant, they hear about a doctor in Slovenia who has nearly a 100% success rate with his fertility treatment.  They've never heard of this man before, and they know nothing about what the actual treatment entails, but they are desperate.  When they get to the doctor's office, the place is questionable and the doctor himself seems like a madman, but they go through with the painful procedure anyway, and sure enough, it works.  It works so well, in fact, that Leslie becomes pregnant with twins.

Ten years later, the side effects of the treatment have taken a tremendous toll on both Alex and Leslie, and they've closed themselves off from the outside world, for the most part.  They take turns walking the children to and from school each day, but beyond that, life is spent in secret.  So secret, in fact, that much of what goes on in their once-luxurious home is a mystery even to the twins.  Adam and Alice are smart, though, and have long since realized that there is something very "off" about the way they live and the way their parents behave.  For one thing, they don't quite understand why they need to be locked in their rooms at night.

Adam's been spying on his parents, though, by listening to them at night through their old baby monitor, and what he hears makes him more and more uneasy.  Slowly, he begins to fear for both his and his sister's lives, and one night, they run away.  Finally out in the world, the twins begin to learn the very terrifying answers to both the questions they've asked and those they've been afraid to ask.  Their situation, they find, is worse than they could ever have imagined, and the most horrifying truth of all is that there may not be anything they can do to escape it.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Voice-Over Voice Actor: What It's Like Behind the Mic

Okay, so I was about to start reading something else entirely, but I had ordered Voice-Over Voice Actor, and when UPS brought it, I couldn't resist diving into it right away.  And I'm not one of those people who can read multiple books at once (not counting textbooks for school).  Anyway.  I was not familiar with either Yuri Lowenthal or Tara Platt until I saw them as guests on an episode of Tabletop, a gaming show on the web channel Geek & Sundry (which I highly recommend you check out, if you aren't familiar with the site already).  I became immediately enamored of them both because they are absolutely awesome and adorable, and I sincerely hope they have babies, because if anyone in the world should reproduce, it is them.

But I'm getting a little off topic here.  If you don't know who they are, or haven't clicked over to either of their websites, or haven't figured it out by the title of the book...Lowenthal and Platt are professional voice actors.  Voice actors, obviously, are the people doing the voice-over work in the narration for commercials or movies, they bring life to your favorite animated characters, and the style of voice-over that many of you reading this right now may be very intimately acquainted with, narration of audiobooks.  They get paid to do these things, and eventually may end up making a living off of it.  And I think that sounds like one of the most fun jobs a person could possibly have.

The more technical behind-the-scenes parts of the world of voice-over were kind of a mystery to me, though, and I'm sure they are to a lot of other people.  Probably to most other people.  I mean, I've seen clips of musical artists and radio personalities in sound booths before, either recording or broadcasting live.  But voice actors?  I never used to think so much about who the people were, who were doing all this narration or providing the voices for the cartoons I enjoy watching, but I've been more interested in it lately, and I think these people all deserve way more recognition and general appreciation than they seem to get.  I know in some Asian countries at least, voice actors can have the same kind of celebrity status as screen actors, and that is how I feel it should be.  For real, go compare the IMDb listing of a relatively well-known screen actor to any voice actor, and don't be surprised if you find that the voice actor is more prolific - these people do A LOT.

Okay, I'm digressing a little again.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Filtered Future and Other Dark Tales

"Filtered Future" and Other Dark Tales of Science Fiction and Horror is a collection of nine short stories, a poem, an article, and an interview by Brett Weiss, whose other published works are mainly non-fiction.  As the title of the book states, the stories range in genre from science fiction to horror, with some  elements of dark fantasy thrown into the mix as well.  Each piece is preceded by a brief introduction by the author, a sort of back-story which provides a little insight into things such as where his mind was when he wrote or conceived of the story, or the story's publication history prior to this anthology.  You won't miss any necessary information by skipping the introductions, but they're interesting to note.

Now, before I go any further, I just want to confess that I had never heard of Bentley Little before reading the table of contents, so I did not read the interview.  Having had no idea who the man was and having not read any of his work, I didn't feel I would really get much out of it, but if you're a fan of his work, I have no doubt that it would interest you.  The article on Stephen King, however, I did read, and it was very interesting.  I haven't read much of any of King's works either (I know, I know...shameful), but I have a couple on my shelves and have every intention of collecting more to read at some point.  I've seen film adaptations of some of his novels, and I admit I feel like they will be books I won't be able to read before bed, since I will likely only be able to sleep after if I take an ambien or a large dose of Nyquil.  But I digress.  On to the short stories.