Posted in book review, book series, ebook, hooked on books, Indie Author

Book Review: Obsidian Eyes by A.W. Exley

Obsidian Eyes Book One in the Queen’s Blade Series by A.W. Exley is available in kindle and paperback.

Last Friday, I had a desire to find a book the had a strong female character, was sexy, and a little bit weird. So I decided to try one of A.W. Exley’s books. I read her Artifact Hunters series last year, and absolutely loved it, so I wanted to see if another one of her series could deliver again. It did, at least so far with the first book Obsidian Eyes.

Set just before the Victorian Age, Allie Donovan is a seventeen-year-old who is full of secrets as she attends an aristocratic school, a place she really has no business being since she’s a commoner. But her grandfather’s position as the school’s librarian gives her a way into the exclusive St. Mathew’s Academy.

Once there, Allie makes some friends and enemies as well, and also meets a young man that infuriates her as well as captivates her at the same time. But she is cautious of him, because he’s supposed to be the enemy. Allie tries to find a way to walk between her world of a commoner and guild member, and the elite gentry of England and Scotland, but it’s full of potential disasters, including her biggest secret, the man who put Allie in the exclusive school to begin with and why.

This story is full of wit, friendship, estrangement, intense action, subterfuge, political conspiracies, and steampunk brilliance. It also has a hint of the exotic as it explores some of Allie’s ties to an Egyptian harem.

I really enjoyed this book a lot. It was a little slow reading at first. Exley develops a very rich and complex background for her Heroine Allie. So I think it was a little bit of a struggle to put all the pieces together because some of the background information Exley sprinkles into the story seems a contradiction. But as the story progresses, Exley brilliantly weaves the pieces together for a very colorful and interesting past for Allie. After I hit the halfway point, I couldn’t even put the book down, and ended up finishing the book in the early hours of the morning.

So if you are looking for a book full of weird and wonderful steampunk inventions, an intense forbidden romance, and a story you simply can’t put down, try out Obsidian Eye’s.

The Queen’s Blade has two other books in the series Opaque Lies and Oubliette Lost, which I very much look forward to reading next.

Posted in book addict, book review, book series, hooked on books, series review

Book Series Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children By Ranson Riggs

I started reading this series after I watched the movie in theaters back in 2016. The movie peaked my interest enough to start reading the books, and I’m so glad, because I really enjoyed the first three books (Home For Peculiar Children, Hollow City, and Library of Souls). Though, I thought that was the end of the series, because the way book three ended, it seemed like a good place to stop things.

A few years later, I was browsing in a library, and was tickled pink when I stumbled across book 4: A Map Of Days. I grabbed it off the shelf and eagerly went home to to read it. And the way book 4 ended, I knew 5 was in the works, because it left the story on a pretty huge cliffhanger. So I waited patiently for Conference of the Birds, which of course was as fantastic as the other books. And then yesterday, I finally finished the series reading book 6: The Desolations of Devil’s Acre.

I have to say there isn’t any feeling quite like the one being hooked on a good series. The anticipation of what will happen next, and the excitement of knowing some of your favorite characters are coming back to dish up a great read. So when I finished Devil’s Acre, I was a little sad that the series was done. But also completely satisfied, because Riggs delivered a very good wrap up for his six book series (man, I love it when that happens!).

Ransom Riggs dished up a fun, exciting, and darkly twisted story that delighted and left me in shocked horror more than once. The best part was the absolute weirdness of his world. Some of the stuff he came up with was absolutely impossible, but he made it believable for his story, and that, I think, was his crowning achievement. He took weird (peculiar) and made it cool, fun, and causing me wish I was a little peculiar too.

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Posted in book addict, book review, book series, ebook, series review

Book Series Review: The Iron Druid Chronicles By Kevin Hearne

It’s been a long time since I’ve done a series review, but I recently finished this series and really wanted to share my thoughts on it.

I have to tell you the Iron Druid books left an impact on me. I can honestly say that this is definitely one of my favorite series, but it’s also one that I dislike as well. But before I get into all of that, let me tell you a little bit about what this series is about.

The Iron Druid Chronicles starts with the book Hounded. A 2,100 year old druid is masquerading as a 21 year-old who owns an occult book store in modern day Arizona. To every one he looks like some stoner college student, but in reality he’s packing a lot of ancient knowledge and power. But don’t tell anyone, because he’s supposed to be hiding out from an Irish god who wants to kill him.

And it just gets better (and more complicated from there). lol…

The story follows Atticus on many and crazy escapades as he tries to hold his own against a bunch of religious pantheons that don’t like him very much. It might be because he’s a little bit snarky and doesn’t really care what anyone might think about him or what he does, he also has a big issue with people (or gods) who harm the earth, because he’s druid, duh. So that can really get him riled up sometimes.

My absolute favorite part of this story is that Atticus has a faithful companion named Oberon who is an Irish wolfhound, and Atticus has taught him how to speak (mentally). So it’s just a lot of fun to watch their awesome conversations play out, and see this deep friendship between hound and human grow over the course of the series.

This series includes 9 books and a bunch of novellas and short stories. The short stories and novellas help to bring more depth to the main story, and in many cases, I found the novellas and short stories to be superior in story quality to some of the novels. So I highly recommend them.

I’m not going to list out the whole chronological order of stories, novellas, and novels. You can find that information on Hearne’s website. But here are the 9 books in the series.

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Posted in author, author interview, book series, Indie Author, self-published, writing

An Author Interview with Michael Taggart

I have had the distinct privilege of being on the editing team for Michael Taggart’s new book Melee Mage. It is the second in his Fledgling God series. I reviewed the first book Misfit Mage last year about this time. Since then, Michael has been working hard at starting and completing the second installment.

Late last year, he contacted me to help with the editing process, and I was glad to do so. I truly enjoyed the characters and the world he built in book one and was excited to help bring the second book to completion. Now that the second book has been published, I thought it would be fun to learn more about this awesome series and the author who wrote it. Check it out below.

You have an amazing series with a lot of great characters. You even have some characters that aren’t human like Penny and Eggy. Can you explain a little bit about these characters and what gave you the idea for them in the first place?

The characters evolved as I wrote them. My writing process is to just write out a bunch of scenes that sound fun––then put them together in a loose outline. From there, I have the characters I want in the book––but in the process of writing them, they change and evolve.

  • Sandy has pretty much stayed true to who I thought she was––Head of Household––wanting to make a positive difference in the world and help new Supernaturals.  In the 3rd book (current project)––she heads off to the Gathering with Jason, so when I write more of her, she may change a bit.
  • John was a complete surprise. I knew he was the maintenance man, part mountain troll, and Sandy’s best friend and lover. I didn’t know he was going to be so much of a prankster. The whole ‘Painted to Circle’ scene in Misfit Mage was a lot of fun that just showed up.
  • Annabeth––Jason needed a best friend in the house. I knew she would be a much older person with health issues, but because of her new magical powers would be growing younger. I didn’t know she would so happy and supportive. That just showed up and I love it! Plus, she hears magic, so it has been very interesting to figure out how to work that in. Her powers are really strong, and allow her to do stuff with charms that shouldn’t be possible (run 3 healing charms at once by humming with them). Even on the physical level, she rocks (She creates her own feedback loop on punching better by listening to how her body is reacting)
  • Penny. It’s been a blast writing for a nonhuman metal character. I knew Jason was going to make a sentient charm, but I didn’t know how much personality she was going to have. I’ve had so much positive feedback from her conversation with Jason about how fleshy people ‘get sick’ and ‘can she watch?’ We even have metal humor and a metal language between her and Eggy.
  • Eggy. I knew I wanted a magic sword in the book. But the idea he didn’t want to be a sword just happened while writing. He wants to be a very ornate vase and sit in the window and watch the world go by while looking pretty. Don’t we all? LOL. I now have lots of ideas for this character as he was created by a supernatural Master over 2000 years ago. He will be able to give Jason a view into the past and secret techniques that have been forgotten.
  • Tyler. I knew he was a good Incubus when I started writing him. I didn’t know how mature he was going to be. He is an amazing friend, lover, and partner for Jason. He takes all the crazy that comes with Jason’s journey and just rolls with it. (watering the flowers––i.e. peeing all over the bathroom, comments from Anna Lykit the imaginary drag queen). He is a lot more than just a super sexy hunka hunka (although he is that too).
  • Jason––he’s turning out just like what I wanted. He’s not perfect and he gets nervous a lot. But he tries hard, has a good heart, and is very creative in his solutions. He’s someone you can root for––as well as full of life and adventure.
  • All Characters––I want them to grow and change too. Sandy and John get married and exchange oaths and magic. That is going to change them a lot as she is a mage and he is a natural. Tyler is starting to search for meaning in his life and is finding that with his relationship with Jason.  This is going to continue as he comes even more out of his protective shell. Jason, of course, is changing all the time. Who knew a mage would be a great physical fighter?

You have a really in-depth world that has a lot of “rules” for the magical/supernatural world. Was there a single inspiration for how you came up with these rules? Or did the rules form as you wrote?

Back in my college years my goal was to be a game designer. I actually made a game as my Senior Design Project and won top honors. After school, I made a 2nd version of the game and released it as shareware. This was back in the days when having 256 colors was a Big Deal and not everyone had a mouse! I got letters from people all over the world saying they really enjoyed it (this was also pre Email! Dang, I’m old.) (I even got a letter from someone in Luxembourg––which is a tiny country of only 1k square miles).

I said all that to say––I love creating a world of simple rules, and then figuring out how to use them to surprise people. I have spreadsheets and documents that I use to put the rules together and make sure that Jason’s power progression is consistent.

Rules are much more than constraints. They allow the reader to feel comfortable in the world. They can settle in, enjoy the characters, and get into the flow of the world. Then, when Jason does something new with his power, it’s surprising and enjoyable for the reader. I was seeing that a lot with the beta readers. As they were reading the book they had notes about what they thought would happen. Then they either guessed right, or were happy to see the world in a new way. It make magic so much more than just a ‘word’ or ‘gesture’. It gets the reader invested in the world and they take it on as their own.

So to answer the question––the rules came first––then the writing. I’m just starting book 3––and realized I still had a few holes in my logic. So I’m taking the time to nail down exactly how a Creative Core works.

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Posted in blog tour, book series, ebook, empowerment, guest post, hooked on books, writing

Guest Post By Phoebe Ritter: How I Became An Empowered Writer

Writing the Daughter of the Zel trilogy was hugely empowering for me. I’d always enjoyed writing and dreamt of having something published, but I never had the confidence to put my work out there.

Then, a few years ago, I was having a rather tough time personally, which led me to quit my job and move back home. Even with everything going on, I found myself with a load of free time I hadn’t ever had before.

As a distraction, I set myself the challenge of writing a novel in a month. I’d always wanted to do NaNoWriMo, but November was never convenient. Every day after work I’d sit down and type until my brain ran out of scenes. The rapid progress towards a final word count slowed towards the end, and I had to go back and carefully stitch together key scenes to make a complete story.

I had an idea for where the book was going and every time I wrote it felt like clearing space in my head. Making this mental room meant I’d get an idea for a new scene, usually when I was trying to get to sleep.

Now, like then, in the early days of a story, I get these rather annoying moments where I’m unable to go to sleep because of new phrases, places, people that pop into my head. There’s a process I’ve learned to follow by turning the bedside light on, writing the thought down in my notebook, and turning the light off again before immediately having another thought and repeating it. Eventually my brain lets me sleep.

I have found that the first draft is always shocking. I’ve come to terms with that. One of my betas recently said how she’d love to write a novel, but was worried it’d be awful. I explained the number of drafts my work passes through before she even sees a beta version. I hope this encourages her to get something down on paper. That’s the hardest bit.

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