Review of Finding Meara by Lara Schiffbauer

Once again, I finished Lara’s book a while ago and am just catching up on some overdue reviews.

The Amazon blurb:

FindingMearaCoverTo keep her safe, twenty-six-year-old Hazel Michelli’s parents never told her she was adopted, or that her birthplace was in an alternative land where magic and monsters exist. She found out the truth the day a ferocious winged creature stole her from her Denver apartment and delivered her to Lucian, the sadistic Lifeforce magician who happens to be Hazel’s biological father.

“Dysfunctional family” takes on new meaning when she learns Lucian must sacrifice a daughter to maintain immortality and take over the Realm. When Hazel’s younger half-sister disappears just days before the Rite, Lucian moves Hazel to the top of the sacrificial short list.

Afraid, yet compelled to protect her four-year-old half-sister, Hazel races between both worlds, searching for Meara while being hunted by Lucian. Their lives, and the future of the Realm, leave her no room for failure.

My thoughts:

At the outset of the novel, Hazel (love the name, by the way, unusual and old-fashioned, but made quirky by the character) only knows that she’s lucky, so dependably lucky that she makes a comfortable living by gambling. Then something huge and hulking bursts through the door of her apartment, calls her “Meara,” grabs Hazel, and leaps off the balcony, spreading its wings to fly her to a place she never suspected existed.

The action doesn’t relent as Hazel is taken prisoner by someone named Lucian, escapes (with the help of a talking bird and a flaming cat), finds her way back to Colorado, and reluctantly enlists her friend’s help.  When an insect-like monster attacks them on the road, it is both a validation of Hazel’s bizarre story and a warning: Lucian isn’t finished with her yet.

Though unwilling to involve her parents in this strange series of events, Hazel has questions only they can answer.  Those answers change Hazel’s life forever and send her on a worlds-spanning adventure, teaching her that her luck is only the tip of her magical iceberg, and that family is worth killing for, and dying for, if it comes to that.

The author weaves a great story, with just enough quirk to please the trope-weary reader.  She moves between Boulder, Denver, and the Realm deftly, and has created a unique and charming world that both recalls childhood favourites, and provides enough romance and danger to satisfy the New Adult audience.

I also appreciate that despite the romantic potentials (small spoiler alert!), Hazel remains happily independent at the end of the novel.  The denouement felt a little rushed, but was satisfying nonetheless.

Am eagerly awaiting Lara’s next novel 🙂

My rating:

4 out of 5 stars.  Really, I wanted to give her 4.5, but I had to give her some room to grow as an author 🙂

About the Author:

Lara Schiffbauer was born and raised in the Western United States. As a child she got in Lara Schiffbauertrouble at school for talking too much and daydreaming. She believed in Santa Claus until she was in the third grade, and thought she saw angels at the Catholic school she attended.

Unwilling to lose the magic of childhood, as a teenager she spent her years reading novels that let her live in fantasy worlds where she could vicariously experience the romance and adventure sadly lacking in her everyday life. Piers Anthony, Victoria Holt, and David Eddings were some of her favorite authors.

Many years later, after obtaining a Masters of Social Work degree and growing a family, Lara decided to recapture some of the magic found in creativity. In 2010, her horror flash fiction story “The Copier” was published in the anthology Daily Bites of Flesh 2011: 365 Days of Flash Fiction. In 2011, her erotic horror story “Phantom Deposit” was published in the anthology Steamy Screams, and in February 2012 her urban fantasy short story “Bear Hug” was published online at Hogglepot. She then turned to writing novels, and her first contemporary fantasy novel, Finding Meara, was released in March, 2013.

Lara loves connecting with others! Besides spending time on Twitter and Facebook, Lara also has accounts on Pinterest and Goodreads. All social media links can be found at her website, www.laraschiffbauer.com.

The next chapter: July 2013 update

Just a few words here about my writing life of late.

I am continuing to revise Initiate of Stone, but at least once a week, I can’t seem to get to it after all my other responsibilities.  Then sometimes I make a choice.  This past Tuesday, for example, I chose to go to North Bay rather than taming my daily dose of the intewebz or write.  Though it was well worth it, I still felt odd not writing.

It’s an addiction now.  Healthy, but an addiction nonetheless 😉

Acceptances

Since my last update, I’ve received some good news.  The Atomy picked up two of my poems, Enhance will be accepting one of my photographs (wow!), and most recently, Sulphur will be accepting three of my poems for its next issue.

I received my contract from On Spec and am waiting to hear from their content editor on next steps (still so excited about this!).

I’ve submitted a couple of flash fiction pieces, but they’re both fairly recent stories and may need to mature (read, to be edited) before they find a home.

Writers of the Future wasn’t fond of “The Gabriel” but I have yet to recieve my personalized response.

Still waiting to hear about a few short story submissions from April, May, and June.

Oh, and I almost forgot.  I submitted the first bit of a story to Erin Brady too, and I’m curious to find out what will come of that 🙂

Just as I was linking those publications, above, I noticed that Enhance has a call out for that flashy fiction stuff!  Go see!

Conferences

This year’s CanWrite! was a success.  I certainly hope everyone got a lot of good information out of my CanWrite! blog posts.

Since I’m now a member of the program committee, which includes responsibility for the conference and the CAA literary awards, I’ll probably have some news forthcoming about next year’s conference in the future.  Watch this space 🙂

I’ve had to make a decision about When Worlds Collide in Calgary.  Though I would love to go and the line up looks great (Patricia Briggs, Robert J. Sawyer, and Angela Ackerman will be among the guests), I just can’t afford it.

The conference fee is reasonable in the extreme, but it’s the air fare and accommodation that make the event costly.  Domestic flights are quite expensive. I had my eye set on Surrey this year, so I think I’m going to stick with that conference and go to WWC next year.  I only have enough Avion points to take 2 trips anyway and one is already spoken for (a friend’s pre-wedding party) so there you have it 🙂

There’s a writing contest associated with Surrey too, so I’ll probably aim to submit something for that as well.

It’s good to keep the creative opportunities lined up and ready to rock.

Writerly Goodness

What’s everyone working on these days?  I’d love to hear from you about your creative projects!

Sundog snippets: Inside and out

Just a quick little note to let you know that I have a new piece of furniture courtesy of my friend Kim, who’s just moved houses.

FileCabinet1This lovely file cabinet used to hold her father’s papers.

I have two metal filing cabinets in the basement, a fire-proof box, and a safety deposit box at the bank that hold all our important stuff, but I just couldn’t resist the cabinet when Kim said she wanted to sell it.

Phil and I rented a pick up truck to move it (it wouldn’t fit in our car, or my mom’s hatchback) and I spent some time yesterday afternoon polishing her up and reinserting the drawers (which we’d removed for transport).filecabinet2

This lovely’s new home is in our living room.  Sadly, there’s no room in my office for it because I have a honking desk 🙂  I’m calling her Sally, and she’ll house our DVDs, Phil’s games, and other miscellaneous stuff we’ve kept in baskets and other hidey-holes over the years.

I rearranged some of the living room furniture to make room, and Phil and I discussed last night that we’d like to get some new furniture and use Sally as the thematic piece.  We have a small house and we were going to wait until we renovated the living room to get new furniture, but the hand-me-downs we have are worn and due for replacement.

So we’re going to look into that in the fall and probably touch up the paint on the walls at the same time, pending the full reno.  For the latter, we take everything down to the studs, rewire, re-insulate, and make sure everything is safe and code-worthy.  It will probably be a while before either of us is ready to tackle that project, though.

Outside, my experiment in chaos gardening is coming along well.  The lychnis (the fuschia flowers that complement the one young clematis along the wall) and rudbeckia (black-eyed susans) have joined the party.

chaostheorycontchaostheorycont2On the other side of the garden my bergamot (bee balm) is putting forth its spidery blooms 🙂  Bergamot is one of my favourite smells.  The roses are starting to fade, and are also putting forth a lovely scent.  I have a whack of hyssop in the garden (not blooming yet) as well.  I love smelly plants!

Next up: a brief update on the writing life, and a review of Lara Schiffbauer’s Finding Meara!

Sundog snippet