J to tha M: What We’re Reading

We’re Back – the Worldbuilding Edition

J:  Hey, have you read the Irin Chronicles series by Elizabeth Hunter?2930716970_644598079b

M:  yep. You must have lent me the first one (The Scribe), and then the first and second (The Singer) both went on sale a little while ago, so I bought both

J:  The third is out. The Secret

M:  She does great worldbuilding

J:  yeah she really does

and there’s enough…supported information with her mythology

M:  I love when the worldbuilding not only pulls you in and feels like a true alternate reality, whether fantasy, paranormal, dystopian, or even contemporary just with different rules

J:  When an author not only makes me feel like I’m RIGHT THERE in the story, but also that the story could be right here with me, that’s what I love

Urban fantasy just absolutely kills me for that reason.

I’m not escaping to a new world… I feel like those characters have lived right here beside me the whole time

M:  makes you excited and curious and want to know more, even to live in that world

or know the characters personally

the curiosity and intrigue is the best, though. That’s when I know I’m reading something that’s a winner for me

J:  That’s what I loved so much about Twilight, actually

I mean, yeah, the gaspy, will-they/won’t-they romance, pain of teen love thing

she did that really well

but she also made me think, if only for a little while, that the guy next to me at the supermarket could possibly be a vampire

and that’s what I loved so much about Brigid Kemmerer’s Elemental series, too

and why I got super sucked into Elizabeth Hunter’s Irin Chronicles

(well, everything I’ve read by her so far, but most recently the Irin Chronicles)

M: yeah, it’s the intriguing wish fulfillment-fantasy-believability-intrigue thing

and it’s amazing when it is done well

and consistency is so important *coughJRWardcough*

I really enjoyed Hunter’s worldbuilding in both her series

made me want to know more and figure out the mystery. And cheer for a relationship for the MCs

J:  It’s amazing how much more I forgive when the world is solid

like, I believe the characters

and accept their flaws

and love them anyway

things that would piss me off beyond all belief if in a contemporary romance set in the here and now

I don’t know why I’m more likely to forgive, but I am

*coughEdwardCullencough*

M:  Haha. Yeah, that’s an interesting point, really

because it’s not real and we’re already plausibly suspending disbelief, maybe?

J:  perhaps

but if you presented me with a contemporary realistic fiction YA about a boy who crept into a girl’s bedroom to watch her sleep, I’d throw the book out the window

M:  Exactly. Actions, reactions, situations in those made-up worlds don’t make me twitchy in a lot of instances where they would in a contemporary

J:  and the same was kind of true in Hunter’s Irin books

she writes strong females, yes

but sometimes strong to the point of being careless or stubborn

M:  that’s fairly typical for most romances – and a lot of other genres, too

makes the plot easier to forward

add conflict

but yeah. it gets annoying

I just find it an interesting thing that we forgive stuff in alternate reality stuff we probably wouldn’t in straight contemporary

but that’s a whole different subject and blog post

J:  Well, with Hunter’s Irin world, it was much like the vampire world in that I really felt like an Irin or Irina could be next to me

or *gasp* what if I’m part Irina?

she made the characters real in spite of their fantastic nature

and she revealed things in such a logical way that I never felt she was withholding information for drama’s sake (which is also probably another blog)

and so much of her world consisted of real places here – foreign to me, but still real

and so vivid in their descriptions that I felt I’d seen them before

M:  I think that’s such a huge thing, making the reader have that feeling of “maybe I could be one, too”

that ordinary person having hidden “special”

tapping into that inner fantasy

J:  she really does that so well

M:  I’ve read a couple that I was all fangirl over the worldbuilding lately

J:  do tell

M:  one was Ilona Andrews’s new Hidden Legacy series – the first. Called Burn for Me

Have to admit I’ve never read anything by her (them? It’s a hubs and wife team), but I shall remedy. Heard a lot of good things about her Kate Daniels UF stuff

but the Hidden Legacy series is about magicians, like wizards. Which is my fantasy superpower, so that was all win

and she did it so well, when sometimes it can be so eye-rolly

did a great job explaining not only how people came to have the powers (although I do admit I’d like to know more) and also building a whole social structure and hierarchy based on magic ability

and the hero. siiigh. one of my fave kind

J:  you do love the alpha heroes

M:  enigmatic, clever, arrogant, super powerful, and watching how the female MC makes him more “human”

I really liked

she’s all “you can’t do that” and he’s “um, well, I just did, soooo…”

a lot of fun, and not super romancey, more tension and character and worldbuilding

but the tension between the two is so well done, I didn’t need the straight-out sexytimes

and that’s delicious in itself

and she’s a great heroine – smart, capable, not stupid

J:  oooh, I actually prefer the tension and chemistry to straight-up romance, too

not so much the back and forth type, but the type where it builds naturally

and everything the hero says makes me just swoon

because I know that’s what the heroine has to feel

M:  well, he’s not blatant swoon – he’s privileged, arrogant, powerful

which sounds ick, but flaws so skillfully done you can see the heart in him

so when he does caring or swoony things, much more impact

and he holds all the power, literally in his magic and money and social status, etc., but she has more important things to teach him, like being decent and human and family and true caring

a lot of character development for both, which is so fun to see

it’s just total win in my opinion

J:  I’m on board.

M:  and dammit, I want to be a wizard

J:  hahahaha

I felt like that after Harry Potter (okay. I still feel that way sometimes)

M:  another one that I found really interesting was The Others series by Anne Bishop. The first book is Written in Red, the second Murder of Crows, and I’m about to start the third, Vision in Silver

and I could see why I totally got into the Ilona Andrews series, because, you know, wizards

but the Bishop series is about shifters. I’m not usually a shifter fan much at all, but these are good

great mystery and tension, and the word and rules she’s built are so different

J:  how did you end up reading it if you’re not a fan of the theme?

M:  I’d read a couple of reviews and rec’s on blogs, so I figured I’d give it a shot

and the whole world and social hierarchy between humans and the Others – so unique

the shifters are the top of the food chain and just suffer humans existing in their world

and it’s not just animal shifters, but elements and seasons and stuff

and more about the slowly building tension and relationship between the two MCs in this one, too

a lot of action and mystery and intrigue, great character development

but the worldbuilding – so good and thorough

J:  yeah, I really can forgive just about anything when it happens in a really great fictional world

M:  she did such a good job with not just the world but the different characters and interactions

a really vulnerable female MC that needs protection for damn good reasons that slowly unfold, a strong alpha male MC who finds himself all messed up with what’s happening but tries to do the right things

a true alpha in my opinion

and all the amazing imagination of animal and element shifters, how they’re shown and personified

it’s a winner

I like urban fantasy, but I also need that romantic element – just adds so much. and when the slowly building tension is done well, and the developing close caring just goes on and deeper, I’m all in

J:  well, you sold me

I’m gonna start with the wizards first, though. I’ve had a craving since Harry Potter

grown-up wizards are just too hard to pass up

M:  yeah, I really enjoyed that one

I liked the writing style better

not that I wasn’t hooked with Bishop’s series or anything, just sometimes I had to push a little, you know?

Where I just ate the Andrews one up

plus, snarky, arrogant adult wizard. Yeehaw

J:  I need a bookstore therapy session

Amazon will probably have to do

M:  I need therapy for my Amazon one-click addiction. Speaking of which…

brb

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