Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Humpday Hello - Too Cool School!

There can be no doubt - we are firmly entrenched in the "dog days" of summer! As much as I love our dear friend Kim, she is the only crazy person I know who is enjoying this heat. Personally, when I got the text that it was 78 in L.A. where my son currently is, I was...ummmmm....beyond jealous! It is a well established fact - I am a pasty pale, celtic hot mess who burns whenever I go outside, even with 50spf!!! Me and the summer - not BFF's. As long as I can recall, summer to me means lying on the floor, under the fan, reading and taking mental vacations. (Ok, so I am too old to get my ass off the floor now and am reconciled to reading on the sofa, but hey - it's the same concept!) Oh did I mention snacks were involved in these mental vacations - along with my inability to get off the floor comes my inability to get in my jeans so I am sticking firm with my favorite calorie free indulgence....mmmmmmm Eye Candy!!!!!! Enjoy!

This week spotlights one of our fav authors - who has challenged herself to create from snarky adult urban fantasy a new breed of snarky young adult urban fantasy. I think it's a bullseye hit! Climb aboard and take a trip to Mythos Academy. Here's wishing I was a seventeen year old descendant of a mythological race who gets to train to save the world and solve mysteries. Unfortunately, in real life my only super-power is my keen intellect and superior snarkatude! LOL

Touch of Frost, Jennifer Estep, Kensington Publishing, July 2011

Welcome to Mythos Academy - The school for the descendents of great mythological races: Valkyries, Amazons, Vikings, Romans, Spartans and other ancient warriors. These kids are rich, beautiful, powerful and know their legacy. Gwen Frost isn't like the other students at Mythos Academy - dubbed "the Gypsy girl" by the other students, Gwen has the ability to sense an object's history just by touching. When she finds herself caught in an unexpected murder at Mythos, Gwen gets pulled into the tangled world of the popular warriors at Mythos, even if it means dealing with the snobbery of the popular crowd.

Touch of Frost has the makings of a stellar YA series. The magic ingredients: strong, interesting characters, witty dialogue, really cool setting - all right on. The world building that normally trips me up on the first in many series wasn't even an issue. In fact, having the school near Ashland harkened back to her Elemental Assasin series! In a lot of ways the camp factor that made this novel so fun was that it was more than a little like the Zena Warrior Princess tv series or the Percy Jackson YA series. Uniquely it's own however and Estep has the ability to weave myth and modern seamlessly.

The characters in Estep's writing are my favorite - her heroines are so real. It's the believability, even in the fantastical world of Mythos Academy, that makes the story resonate for me. New girl, unsure of her abilities, grieving the loss of her mother, requiring the bolstering reassurance of her grandmother - those are qualities that are identifiable and moving. There are many YA series with gawky unpopular girls as the lead character. What makes Gwen so different is her refusal to yield, become someone she is not, and her willingness to grow and accept change.

When I met Jennifer Estep at RAW 2010, I had a chance to chat with her about her writing. I love her down-to-earth quality - she makes no bones about the things that interest her and that inspire her. I love that she lets her inner Nerd light shine in her characters as well - girls/women dont have to be demure, polite, deferential creatures - they can be snarky, smart, kick-ass and self-doubting, because let's face it, we are all those things and more in reality.

Not afraid to fan girl squeal...I give this new start a fantastic five chocolate dipped strawberries - but eat 'em fast because in this heat, EVERYTHING is melting!
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