Hexed: The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne

 

Title: Hexed: The Iron Druid Chronicles

Author: Kevin Hearne

Format: Paperback edition, Ballantine/Del Rey

Published: 2011

 

hexed

I love book series, enjoy seeking them out, and definitely get over the moon excited for them when I stumble across one that just captures my imagination and takes off with it.  That last bit doesn’t happen very often, but it did when I read “Hounded”, the first book in The Iron Druid Chronicles series by Kevin Hearne, a few years ago. A book about Atticus O’Sullivan, the last living Druid and a mystical bad ass in modern day Arizona, “Hounded” opened up a world with a brand new take on multiple mythologies coexisting together, gave a twist and new life to the concept of vampires and werewolves, and made me believe that a psychic connection to a dog might be the greatest thing ever.  I definitely was eager to read the next book in the series, to see what happened to Atticus, a character that was different in many ways.

And then I read “Hexed”.  And didn’t get what I expected at all.

Don’t misunderstand.  Compared to all the books in existence and even the large majority of modern urban fantasy/mythological gods causing crap books that are out there, “Hexed” is good.  Compared to the book that came before it, the one that started the series, “Hexed” falls on its face from page one and doesn’t recover the magic of its predecessor until well past the middle.

Spinning out of “Hounded”, “Hexed” sees Atticus O’Sullivan trying to correct damage to the earth that the battle in the first book caused and finding himself to be the mostly unwilling guardian against all things bad and magic to the part of Arizona he lives in.  Among the issues that he has to deal with is an invasion of Germanic witches with Nazi connections trying to fill the gap that the deaths of Polish witches in the first book left.  Also, his vampiric lawyer (that’s his nighttime lawyer, his day time legal issues are handled by a whole pack of werewolf attorneys) is after him to go after Thor, or at least one of the versions that exist of the Thunder God.  And then there’s a version of Coyote who cajoles Atticus into helping him take out a demon that had been unleashed to take out the Druid in the first book… and so on and so forth.

There’s a lot going on in “Hexed” and it seems that much of the book is Atticus trying to get to the actual conflict the book was built around, which was supposed to be the witches I think. I could have dealt with that, most likely, had I not been put off almost immediately by how the author wrote Atticus, his main character.

Instead of the rather wise, yet relaxed Druid that the author crafted throughout “Hounded”, the Atticus O’Sullivan that opens “Hexed” and that occupies most of the book is someone else, almost.  He seems very eager to fit in and to make sure others fit in, so he goes out of his way to sound like the young crowd around him.  Again, this is something that is in the first book, but it’s just an aside, really. In “Hexed” it is a recurring theme, one that Atticus focuses on, especially in terms of his vampiric lawyer being too stuffy and acting too much like he’d lived for centuries.  That and other aspects of how Atticus is portrayed, including his personal observations about supporting cast being overly snarky and there being a preoccupation with Irish Goddesses finding him attractive and the problems this causes him, simply make the story stumble and don’t add anything to the story.  It’s not until a lot of the extraneous loose ends are tied up finally and he moves on to face the witches that we get the same Atticus that made “Hounded” an awesome read.

Will I read the third book? Yes, because Atticus that I liked from the first one did finally show up in the second and we’re left with a great direction that I think will be a lot of fun in the next volume.  But, unless I get obsessed to do a full re read of this series later on, I won’t be visiting ‘Hexed’ again.

‘Hexed: The Iron Druid Chronicles’ rates three out of five pages. It’s a decent read, but doesn’t hold up to the first one in the series and only comes into its own more than halfway through.

An average score for me for this one on my personal scale as well, only three out of six bullets. The lead character not really matching up to how he’d been presented in the first book threw me for so much of a loop for most of the book that it made it difficult to enjoy, and the supporting cast, though great, wasn’t enough to right the ship by themselves.

Book Review–Anna And The Dragon By Jill Domschot

Title: Anna And The Dragon
Author: 
Jill Domschot
Format: 
Kindle
Published: 
2013

Stay tuned after the review for an exciting contest!  Free books, my friends! Free books! 

If you’re like me, you’re fascinated by anything to do with dragons.   For years I collected antique maps just for all the fanciful dragon illustrations in the unexplored edges of the world.    Anything with a dragon draws me, so it’s no wonder I read a lot of epic fantasy–that genre is replete with the fire-breathing critters.

So when my friend Jill (see how I’m just sticking this “full disclosure” in here like this?  But yes, full disclosure: I’m friends with this author) asked me to beta read her book about dragons and time travel and romance I was in, despite the fact that “time travel romance” is something I’m normally allergic to nearly as much as I’m compelled by the dragons.

This is not your ordinary fantasy, and I’m pretty much going to say that if you’re looking for another juvenile Eragon or a repeat of the sexually abusive Outlander, you can just keep looking.

This is an Urban Fantasy for the person who loves dragons and enjoys hanging out with smart people.

Anna is a shy, diligent woman who keeps to herself and lives a rigid life ruled by routine and filled with a comfortable blandness.    When an eccentric free spirited world traveler called Franklin hires Anna as his research assistant the safe places begin to melt like sugar in the Portland rain.     He disappears frequently.  Is he insane or is he truly menaced by a dragon who has cursed his family with a spell designed to last fourteen generations?   And if that curse is real, what does that mean for Anna?  Will she lose her heart to a man whose love will cost her life?

I absolutely loved this book the first time I read it.   I loved it even more the second time I read it.   When it was finally released for Kindle I actually PAID for my copy–a book I’d already read twice.

That should tell you just how wonderful a story this truly is.

Grab your copy, settle back and spend your Memorial Day Weekend with Anna and Franklin in the rainswept land of Portland….with occasional side trips to lands of mystery and enchantment.    I give this one 5 bookworms.

3bookworms2bookwormsBIRTHDAY WEEK SWEEPSTAKES!!!!

Yes, that’s right!  This week is my birthday.  (Thursday, 23 May,  in case you were wondering….)   In honour of my birthday and this book I love so much I will be giving one lucky reader a present.

1. Add a comment below with your Facebook or Twitter address.   Tell me what your favourite Dragon story is and why.

2.  Post a link to this review on your Facebook or Twitter.

 

I will draw one of the entries at random and the winner will receive their very own e-book copy of Anna And The Dragon along with a special top secret bonus ebook!

Tell your friends!!!!

Writer Wednesday – Angelia Sparrow

A regular around the con-circuit in the southeast, Angelia is a surprising person both in and out of the book (and the bedroom, I’m sure…).

Let’s start with the basics. Who are you?
I’m a cranky middle-aged trucker who doesn’t believe in love, yet writes romance anyway.

Tell us (briefly) about you…
I graduated college with a BA in English lit, a husband of 3 years and a bun in the oven. Three more kids later, I was trapped in the pink collar ghetto as a library paraprofessional. In 2005, I wrote my first full-length novel. I also met my usual collaborator, Naomi Brooks. I made a radical career change and went to truck driving school. I wrote a great deal on the road, filling the hours spent sitting on loading docks with words. In 2007, I got a local run, which got me home every night. I crochet, write, cook, and run a small press in my copious spare time.

…and a bit about what you’ve written…
I started, professionally, with erotic horror. A little boy meets incubus tale called “Prey.” Since then, there have been 10 novels (and 2 more coming), including one basic horror and one heterosexually focused book. HARD REBOOT releases Sept 30 from Amber Heat. I’ve written over 60 short stories, including a collection of lesbian adventures, a collection with my usual collaborator and a number of anthology pieces, the most recent of which is a contemporary called “Tiocfaidh Ar La.” It can be found in Storm Moon Press’ CARVED IN FLESH. My next release is Oct 26, an urban fantasy romance from Ellora’s Cave, called SPELLBOUND DESIRE about a combat mage and an alcoholic PI in a slightly skewed Memphis.

…and what you’re working on right now.
At the moment, I’m working on a comedic space pirate story for an anthology, the edits for a historical pirate novel, assembling 2 collections, editing a novel for my small press, and awaiting the edits on my January novel, a post-apocalyptic biker-gang thing.

What are your earliest book-related memories?
My father and grandmother reading to me. Grandma would read endless books to me when I was visiting. And my father, an account manager, had one for Holt, Rinehardt and Winston. He test- marketed kid books on me. The Holt client said they had found that when I liked a book, it tended to sell well. So I ended up with 2 full shelves of books at my grandma’s house.

What are your three favorite books?
That’s a really tough question. Julian May’s THE MANY COLORED LAND, Aldous Huxley’s BRAVE NEW WORLD, and Judith Viorst’s ALEXANDER AND THE TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY.

How many books to do you read at any given time? What are you reading now?
I read between 2 and 4. Right now I am reading LIKE IT OR NOT, a dubious consent anthology from Storm Moon Press, LITTLE DEATHS edited by John F.D. Taff and NIGHT SONGS by Charles L. Grant.

Finish this sentence; when I curl up with a book, I ___
…tend to fall asleep. I read in waiting rooms, in lines and anywhere but in a peaceful comfortable reading specific environment. I don’t curl up with books, so much as stand impatiently.

To re-read or not to re-read that is the question.
I try not to. Sometimes I just get to jonesing for something old. I read about 50 new books a year, and that leaves little time to reread old favorites.

How likely are you to read a book that’s been recommended to you?
It depends on the book and the person recommending it. My mom keeps trying to get me to read these Christian quilting mystery novels. Yeah, not so much. Elizabeth Donald, on the other hand, has reading taste similar enough to mine that I know I can try the new horror book without much regret.

How likely are you to recommend a book (that isn’t yours)?
Fairly. Of course, I’ll pitch my own first, but then I move on to other smaller press authors and then up to New York authors of my acquaintance. A book by a complete stranger? Only if it’s Heinlein, Bradbury, Ellison, Huxley or Orwell (and sometimes Steven King)

What do you look for in a good book?
I look for a story that pulls me in and characters I care about, that actually manage to live through the book. A 70% character-kill rate is about my upper limit, and after a few of those, I’m not letting myself invest in that author’s characters, I am just reading for the spatter. I quit reading Brian Keene, because nobody ever survived his novels and I was tired of new and innovative ways to kill people. Although I like the bit where the cows ate the Amish farmer…

Why do you write?
Because when the words quit, I end up with an expensive vacation to Sunny Rancho Loco in Scenic Downtown Little Rock. Last time it took anti-psychotics to get me functional. Writing is cheaper, and actually MAKES money.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you be?
A crochet artist.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
EVERYWHERE! It’s all grist. Everything
My mother saying, “I’m being followed by a couch.”
A line in a song on the radio. “Carried a gun in every hand” from “John Wesley Harding” got me wondering how many hands he had. And so was born a four-armed gunslinger.
A costume. Adam Lambert’s spiked codpiece at Sydney Mardi Gras inspired the opening scene of BARBAROSSA’S BITCH, my January release.
An actor. We’ll see an actor’s face, and go “Him, yes, him! He needs to be in my next book!”
A news item. An article about Christian Exodus led to research on Dominionism. This in turn led me to imagine a dis-united states, where the Dominionists, the Exodusers and other religious fanatics had created a religiously run American state, where pork was illegal, where women by law could not work outside the home, and where many crimes were punishable by public execution on live TV.

What has writing taught you about yourself?
That I am not as smart or knowledgeable as I think I am. That my well of inner darkness goes a lot deeper than I’d like it to.

How do the people in your life seem to view your writing career?
My husband is pleased by it. He doesn’t read my genre, but is very proud of me for writing. My mother is proud of me for publishing and embarrassed by what I write. Ditto my dad. My younger sister is my biggest fan and constant first reader. My kids are like “Eh, Mom’s writing again.”

Are there any stereotypes about writers that you don’t think are true?
We aren’t all isolated crazy cat ladies projecting our bizarre sexual fantasies onto the page because we haven’t seen anything that doesn’t run on batteries since the Clinton administration. Two cats fails to qualify me as a crazy cat lady.

What do you see as the biggest challenge today for writers starting out?
Learning to write well BEFORE being published. A lot of authors are going the self-publishing route, just slapping together a story without even a spell-check, running it through Create Space and Smashwords. And that’s flooding the market. I’ve been asked why I stay with publishers when I could easily self publish. I know my limits and I know I need editors badly!

Have you made any writing mistakes that seem obvious in retrospect but weren’t at the time?
I used to write in lists. I would start the sentence, add a colon and then go into a list of words describing the action. My editors broke me of this bad habit.

Is there a particular project you would love to be involved with?
Ellora’s Cave has a bounty hunter call out. I’ve got a partner and a plot and characters. We’re going to get cracking as soon as there is internet in zir new place.

How do you deal with your fan base?
By smiling and nodding and avoiding eye contact. No, seriously. I’ve been told my eye contact is initially good, but then it slides away. There are reasons for this, usually because I’m lipreading. I love meeting fans of my work at conventions and I hope I greet and enjoy them with the same patience George Takei showed me at my first convention when I was a rather hyper 14 year old fan girl.

Finish this sentence; my fans would be surprised to know ___ about me.
My fans would probably not be surprised by anything. I mean, they probably don’t want to know I’m hard of hearing, wear dentures or am asthmatic. I wear my paganism and queerness on my sleeve. They’d probably be surprised to know I’m not the wild sexual vixen having mad sheet romps every night and breaking the chandelier. I’m a tired old trucker with a six p.m. bedtime and a husband on an opposite schedule.

Anything else we should know?
You can catch me live at ConTraception in Independence MO on November 9. I’ll also be at MidSouth Con in Memphis next March, and FrolicCon and OutLanta in Atlanta next spring.

You can find me at http://www.brooksandsparrow.com
I’m on facebook as Author Angelia Sparrow, twitter as asparrow16 and livejournal as valarltd
Paperbacks can be had through http://www.literaryunderworld.com
And my company, http://www.inkstainedsuccubus.com is currently accepting submissions in all genres except children, young adults and monotheistic inspirational.

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