Monday, November 24, 2014

Under a different genre

I came out of my reading zone again for a switch to Sci-Fi. I have never really been a fan of the genre, and I feel that to usually be the case with readers. You either love elves or aliens. For me, it has always been the fantastical creatures and races of this possible world. A time long forgotten where there was so much more. For others, the mystery of the world yet explored and discovered attracts their imagination. I have enjoyed parts of the sci-fi world because in the end I am an overall nerd. I've watch Star Trek and Star Wars after all. But, ultimately, when I walk into a book store, I go to the fantasy shelves to pick up that 600 page exhausting looking tome of epic greatness. This galley made me think about heading to the sci-fi aisle for a change.

Under Different Stars by Amy Bartol

I have already pointed out I do not favor the Sci-Fi genre, nor will I shun it. My lack of interest in the subject comes from the arbitrariness that comes from creating galatic races from a completely unknown medium. That cannot be easy to create, so I will give authors their credit for even attempting. The ouch moment for me in Under Different Stars came from the dialogue of the Etharian race. Kricket  has a very Douglas Adam-esque translation device injected into her mind as soon as she arrives to Ethar; however, there are some words that seem to not be uploaded to the translator because the author sprinkles new terms arbitrarily throughout the dialogue. And there you have my pet peeve of Sci-Fi. It makes no sense when the they invent something. It just is because they are aliens. Ouch.

I will admit that it did not detract from the fact the story is good. The plot arc is very intriguing, and I continued to read to find out what came next. It is kind of a Stockholm syndrome love story, but very sweet and simple. There are five sects of a race that has been horrifically devastated by plague. After finally starting to bounce back in population, the inevitable vie for power has begun. Standard topic for this kind of book, but I found it managed to make its own impression. There is a nice coming of age story with Kricket beginning to develop as an Etharian when she thought for the longest time she was human. I predict she is going to break the mold with her revolutionary ideas. 

I enjoyed the overall reading experience. The story moved along very well, despite feeling like I ran into a brick wall headlong at the ending. It is an excellent addition to the YA market and made me give some new consideration to the Sci-Fi genre. I will certainly be moving onto the next book.

The revised 2nd edition will be available next week, December 2. I advise getting a copy at the fantastic rate of $3.99 for digital.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Edwardian artistic reform

Spent the last two days sick on the couch. I knew I really had come down with something when I really wasn't even that interested in reading. What a missed opportunity. I mostly snuggled under the blankets fighting a horrible fever and sleeping on and off with TV in the background for some noise. Fortunately, I had a review in queue for you. I finished this one a couple of weeks ago, but it is finally getting close to releasing. I actually am found of the break from fantasy fiction on this one. It will be hitting store shelves next month.

Vanessa and Her Sister by Priya Parmar

There are plenty of letters, notes, postcards, diaries, and other literary proofs of the lives of Virginia Woolf and her slightly less recognized sister Vanessa Bell. This is a story of what built around those letters. 

This is a fine example of historical fiction. The people are real, the events are factual, the story is fiction. The author extensively researched her subjects and Edwardian England. Ms. Parmar beautifully captures the essence that the sisters' letters provided and builds a full painting as if we were a part of the Bloomsbury movement.

These two women were from the upper layers of British society and had a sense of entitlement to them. They were given privilege from their eccentric parents and grew to be wild, artistic bohemians who did not want to mold to convention. They wanted to shock their peers and destroy social conventions, yet rarely interacted with anyone outside their social circle. They influenced an entire movement in literature and art with their works through sheer strength of personality.

Vanessa's tale is the heartbreaking side to entitled rebellion. Ms. Parmar shows how bending the rules sometimes breaks the heart. Vanessa does not want to be a part of social convention because she is surrounded by self-indulgent elitists and that is what she knows. She puts off marriage and courtship thinking she is not able to abandon her family to such traditional hogwash.

The tragedy of loss and madness plagues the Stephens family and there is only so much strength one person can handle alone. When Vanessa finally finds her happiness in Clive, she blooms and radiates her glory to everyone she contacts. She is strengthened by finally having a family of her own. She realizes that she is a traditionalist for marriage and has always wanted something of her own, unspoiled by madness. Her previous Bohemian ideals have no place in her new life and when they interject themselves anyway, she is devastated.

This book is very raw and real. It is not a happy-go-lucky read, but a great piece of literature. I highly recommend this for an intelligent pallet cleanse after reading too many fantasies.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Cover Reveal for Arrows of Darkness

I apologize for the horrible delay to this amazing cover reveal. I was on vacation fulfilling my nerdom at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (which was absolutely amazing despite my complete lackluster experience in FL, as usual). I attempted to create a new post through my phone, which technologically trumped me by good measure. So I bring this reveal to you several days late with my deepest apologies.

Please revel in the beauty and glory of Mae I Design's cover for (to me) a very anticipated sequel to The Hunter, The Bear, and The Seventh Sister below. You can also visit my previous review post to learn more about the first novel and take this chance to become a part of what promises to be a very endearing series. My post over here.

Now, drum roll, please...........

Arrows of Darkness by B.I. Woolet


Jackson returns to Arcas expecting to find peace—a peace greatly lacking within his own home. But when a violent archer takes over as Lord of the White Palace, the future of the ancient kingdoms is shaken.

While Rigel, Otava, and Merope work together to rescue the six sisters trapped at the White Palace, Sephdar returns from shadowy crusades to find White Wings’ army leaderless. The new self-proclaimed ruler has a plan for the Seven Sisters and a plan for The Bridge to Earth. But when his ambitious arrows pierce the peaceful kingdoms, an unlikely force confronts the dark lord and the future of the crowns is changed forever.
In absence of the seven sisters, Jackson returns to find that dark creatures have overtaken the beautiful Starling Forest, destroying everything in their path. Jackson and Nekkar narrowly escape together, but Nekkar blames the Son of Earth for releasing the present darkness in Arcas. The rocky, new friendship strengthens as they journey through dangerous lands toward the Free Realms. Can their loyalties survive when the beautiful Princess Andromeda interrupts their quest and the darkness of war batters their souls?

Hold to your axe and hold to your lass as you join Jackson to combat the darkness spreading through the world of Arcas. But remember, the most powerful arrows do not pierce the body but the soul.

B. I. Woolet (Benji & Ila Woolet) is the author of the World of Arcas book series. They enjoy creating lyrical and literary arts, playing music together, and exploring nature. They are happily married and live in Indiana with their children.

They are currently working on the second installment of the World of Arcas series titled “Arrows of Darkness” due for release in spring of 2015.

Get plenty of good information about the authors, the story, and prequel to prepare yourself this spring. I know I'm ready for the next adventure!!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Another tangle with a Prussian necromancer

My leaves are turning to the vibrant colors of fall, and they are beautiful. Until they fall in my yard, and I realize that it is a never ending battle to get them raked. So many trees line my yard. So many leaves. So many.

Storms of Lazarus by Karen Kincy

I have a definite love-hate relationship with this series. The first book was an introductory promotion on Amazon and the second was on sale for 99 cents. I really do not forsee me ever paying the full price for these stories, nor getting paperback copies for my shelf. With that being said, I would recommend them to people who match the writing style and enjoy the dieselpunk genre.

LOVE: 1.) The use of mechanized suits to amp up the battle scenes. My husband is a huge Armored Core fan and this gives me a feel of being a little part of his geekdom without actually having to learn the overly complicated button scheme as a part-time gamer. 2.) The actual writing. The story moves at the right pace, I don't find continuity errors, and the plot is interesting. There is a clear continuation from the first novel without reloading the reader with information. 3.) The characters--Ardis and Wendel are compelling characters because they are dynamic in their emotions. They are not static personalities, they have depth and flavor to their ups-and-downs.

HATE: 1.) Alternative history that uses (and skews) historical figures and facts outside their context. This is clearly fogging the history of WWI, not a fan. Why is everyone suddenly obsessed with Tesla? Sad he couldn't get this recognition in his life. 2.) Overdoing sex scenes and being overly descriptive with the language while not being transparent. If you are going to go there, go all there, not allude at some points and be blatant at others. If your publisher is limiting you on the language, then maybe you should just cut the scene.

I bought this novel on sale during a promotion, so I had both book 1 and 2 without having read the first one (always a dangerous gamble, and one I feel did not pan out for me this roll of the dice). Since I owned it, I was reading it. No book sits on my shelf (Kindle or real) without being read just because I didn't like the first one. I will not be moving forward with the series, however. I am at least happy Storms of Lazarus had an ending point that won't drive me crazy. 

I realize that not every book trend is going to be for me, which also means that they will be for some other reader out there. To those readers, I recommend this novel based on its writing merits. I would even take a guess that the third novel will be successful as well. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Would you be a Gaffer?

Good afternoon, and as promised, Happy Release Day to Charlie Holmberg. 

The Glass Magician by Charlie Holmberg

Excellent follow up to The Paper Magician. I really have been impressed with this series so far, and I am very excited for the next installment.

This time we experience the exploits of Ceony and her friend Delilah, a burgeoning glass magician, aka Gaffer. To not be horrifically spoiler crushing to The Paper Magician, I will only state that we are now in hot pursuit of the Excisioners yet again. Ceony has taken on crime fighting despite her apprentice status because she was able to complete finishing school in a record year. Clearly she is enthusiastic about her abilities. If only they could hold a candle to the actual magicians.

Chaos and tragedy ensue. We are able to learn a completely different side of the magic system in this second novel and it is even more enchanting than in the first novel. Not only does Mrs. Holmberg delve into the creative ingenuity of glass magic, but she presents us with the mystery of the Bonding magic. The originality is still strong in this story.

The story line moved a little awkwardly for me this time around. There were moments that rushed by and I felt like it was pushed a little too much. Some of the writing felt a touch forced. The plot was still fabulous and I finished the whole novel in 18 hours. This novel also deserves 5 stars. It has a strong re-read capability which makes it worthy of joining my shelves.

What magician type would you be?

My drizzly weekend continues to provide payouts for this week's reviews. I was able to start another fabulous series in the steampunk genre, and I fell in love with the magic system. In honor of The Glass Magician releasing today, I will be doing a double post. But let us start at the beginning--and what a wonderful beginning it is.

The Paper Magician by Charlie Holmberg

Great system of magic. Great treatment of steampunk; Victorian England without the zany clockwork and gears, just a splash of magic, and no actual historical figures involved. No muddying of the historical waters. Three cheers!

I don't think I can be entirely spoiler-free, but I promise my review does not give away any ending clues, just a wee little plot point, but it is just so cool. As an author, it must be incredibly difficult to come up with something new and exciting to catch reader's attention. Especially in this day of mass media. I really found the spell to trap Ceony in a heart (and her pursuant travels through the chambers to escape) brilliant--and somewhat wonderfully, disturbingly researched with anatomical correctness. A little squeamishness was a nice addition to my Halloween weekend. What would it be like to see inside and walk the paths of the person we care about? Ms. Holmberg took a turn at plotting it out for us.

I also very much enjoyed the concept of magic introduced. We are able to bond and therefore control any element that is created by man. In the first novel, we are introduced to glass, metal, rubber, plastic, and paper. These are your good, wholesome magicians who make excellent inventions to help out people. They imbue an already pretty nifty invention with just a touch of something extraordinary to lift the creativity. I was enthralled with the creative imagination of what paper magic would be like. I would love to be a Folder. 

Then we meet the dark side of magic--Excisioners. These are individuals who have bonded to flesh. Some wonderful concepts arise in the novel and the dilemma of the choices we make. Are they inherently bad people for the choices they make? Do we make the entire practice illegal and lock them all up without the key? Questions that we will get to delve into even deeper in The Glass Magician, so make sure you read The Paper Magician now to be ready for the release today.

This novel stretched the imagination and had moral thinking. There is some serious goodness crammed in between the covers. I give the novel 5 stars. The action moves quickly and the plot feels new and refreshing. I cannot recommend this novel enough. Check back later this afternoon for my second review.

Monday, November 3, 2014

The truly dark ages

A business trip last week really threw off my reading schedule. Anyone want to pay me to read full time? That would be great. Until that magical day arrives, I hit the books hard this weekend with incredibly cold, drizzly rain ruining my outside plans. But who can argue with a day snuggled under the blankets and a good book (or two, or three)? I have quite a few reviews to catch up on this week, so start your Monday off right with some assassin nuns.

Dark Triumph by Robin Lafevers

I was certainly correct in my prediction Sybella's story would be darker than Ismae's. It is a good story. There is the gritty quality of a train wreck you just can't look away from despite knowing it is horrible and will haunt you. It is a story of redemption.

What I have noticed about this series: It is set up like Nora Roberts. Three stories. Three heroines. Three love connections. Each novel focuses on the path of the heroine to her lover and overcoming her personal obstacles to that love. 

What I like about this series: Assassin nuns is a nice twist. With it having a pretty formulaic romance series foundation, I was happy to have the 15th century France background to shake up my expectations and keep me interested in the story. The romance is not overly sweet and deluded. These are clearly stories about love, yet do not overdo the butterflies in the stomach. There is no gratuitous sex.

What I do not like about the series: The attempt to market these to young adults. I'm not sure I really get the connection to that market. Yes, the girls themselves are young at 14-18. However, at the era these stories are to take place, they would be considered child-rearing adults and not face adolescent challenges. They are experiencing love at a very mature level that I sure don't remember being part of my first crushes. I consider these the perfect read for an adult.

I will give this novel 4 stars. The writing was well handled and well edited. The story line moved along smoothly. For it involving assassin nuns, the action was a little dull, but the plot moved along at a good clip (I never really found my interest flagging). I am now interested in moving along to the final novel Mortal Heart, which releases tomorrow.