Friday, June 24, 2011

Trial by Fire

Series: Raised by Wolves (#2)
Genre: Adventure
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Publisher: Egmont

Raised by Wolves was my favorite book of 2010, and I've plugged it perhaps a bit more than an impartial reviewer should. But there was a reason for my fanboyish behavior: Jennifer Lynn Barnes is good. Her writing is engaging, her plotting is tight, and her characters are believable. Most books take a while to get into, but Raised by Wolves grabbed me right at the start and didn't let go until the end. It sets the bar pretty high for a sequel, but I'm happy to report that Trial by Fire meets this standard, perhaps even exceeds it.

Teen Wolf (TV)

Medium: TV Series
Airs: New episodes 10/9c Monday on MTV; Reruns on MTV and MTV2 throughout the week; Most recent new episode streamed at
Official Webpage

This is not a review. Call it more of a first impression. Teen Wolf has thus far aired 4 episodes, out of a projected 12 for the first season. Given the nature of television, I don't expect to have a complete story. A TV show is only complete after the series finale, at which point it's too late to talk about it with more than historical relevance. More importantly, however, my experience with anime has taught me that quality is transient. A lot of really good series get off to a slow start, and a lot of shows that start strong don't stay that way through to the end. In other words, don't think of what you're about to read as a set-in-stone opinion. Teen Wolf has a ways to go yet, and it could get better or worse along the way, but right now it has potential, and I hope it gets a chance to realize it rather than vanishing without a trace like too many potentially-awesome TV series.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Bloodthirsty (Off-Topic Review)

Series: Stand-Alone
Genre: Comedy
Author: Flynn Meaney
Publisher: Little, Brown, and Company

Bloodthirsty is a zeroth novel that has seen print. To elaborate: there's the first novel, which is released and -- with luck -- sets the stage for a prosperous writing career to follow. And then there is the zeroth novel, which is written before the first novel, but fails to find an agent or a publisher. For good reason. Most authors have a zeroth novel, which embodies everything they don't yet know how to do right. I do, and most of my writing friends do as well. If it's not a novel, it's a collection of unfinished stories and juvenalia, which likewise demonstrates severe deficiencies in craftsmanship. Ask my parents, who had three kids, of which I am the oldest: the first one is where you make all your mistakes.

This isn't a bad thing. Writing, like any creative endeavor, is one that has to be developed. Early on, you make mistakes. And you have to make those mistakes to realize your weaknesses and improve or compensate for them in the future. But in can be embarrassing to have them in print, because for all the care and enthusiasm you put into it, the zeroth novel is inevitably you at your clumsiest and most ignorant.

You think I'm going to bash Bloodthirsty now, don't you? Think again.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Wolf's Cross

Series: Wolfbreed (#2)
Genre: Romance
Author: S.A. Swann
Publisher: Ballantine Books

Wolfbreed was an underrated gem, a blend of historical fantasy and paranormal romance that gave a stark and authentic portrayal of life in the middle ages and the dark side of human nature. It's a tough act to follow, so author S.A. Swann doesn't try. Instead, he takes the setting and crafts a different story, with new characters and a completely different tone. Results are good. While Wolf's Cross does not pack the brutal impact of its predecessor, it is just as good as a story, and in its own way quite a bit deeper.