Monday, 17 August 2015

Book Review: The Bones of Others (Skye Cree, Book 1)



General Information


Publisher: Beachdevils Press
Year of publication: January 27, 2013
Number of pages: 352
Author: Vickie McKeehan

Plot summary: (blurb)


Brutalized as a young girl by a vile sexual predator, Skye Cree is a survivor. Guided by the visions of her mystical spirit guide to the whereabouts of abducted girls, she uses her unique abilities to turn her horrifying past into a positive force for justice. Fighting the demons that have haunted her for years, she trusts only in herself—until she falls hard for a man for the first time in her life. Now, discovering her abductor is back with a vengeance, she becomes locked in a deadly race against time to stop the horrors of an evil human-trafficking ring that threatens to tear her world—and her new-found love apart.

Positive points


This is by far not the kind of story that I would normally read, but as I had a copy on my Kindle I began reading during my lunch breaks and had to finish reading the whole book. Vickie has done a stunning job of creating very realistic and likeable characters. It kind of reminded me of a super-hero story with a twist. The plot is very fast paced and keeps you wanting more from the very start of the story.

I was happy to find that when it came to the really bad bits, and there are bad bits, that the author didn't linger over these parts and make the book too cringe-worthy for me to read. I'm sensitive, what can I say! But it is definitely not a read for the faint hearted if you didn't get that from the book description.

I enjoyed reading this story from the start to the finish, so hats off to the author. Great writing!

Negative points


I was brought up as an author in a novel workshop, so am quite a stickler for writing rules. This story is very well written and edited to a high standard, but there was no clear POV. This is simply a matter of personal choice and by no means a mistake, but on a few occasions when the story hopped from one character's head to another, I found myself pausing to think of who's head we were in. I'm not a strong reader so it was more noticeable to me than most people. Saying that, it certainly didn't take away any enjoyment from the story. I had to give a negative, and that is all I have.

What makes this book unique


This book had a bit of everything. It has a strong element of romance with a few cheeky scenes. It also had strong elements of fantasy. There was detective stuff and some thriller parts. It has super-heroes and heroines! All in all, something for all readers.

Overall impression


This was a great read from start to finish. Not something I would usually volunteer to read, but I'm glad I did. It is filled with great tension and fantastic characters you will love. On top of that, it is very well written. I would highly recommend this series to anyone who enjoys reading this style of book.

My rating


With nothing really negative to say about it, it has to be five stars!



Where to buy


Amazon US


Amazon UK


Meet the author




Vickie writes romantic suspense. She’s the author of fifteen books that include the Evil Secrets Trilogy, the Pelican Pointe Series and the Skye Cree novels. She’s currently working on a new trilogy set in the Florida Keys called The Indigo Brothers Trilogy. Vickie makes her home in Southern California.


Author links







Friday, 10 July 2015

Book Review: The Dragon's Call (The Dragon Throne Book 1)



General Information


Publisher: FantaFire Press
Year of publication: 2012
Number of chapters: 28
Number of pages: 238
Author: K.W. McCabe

Plot summary: (blurb)


In a war-torn world, a careless act of destruction wakes a creature of myth and legend - a dragon. Mankind unites to battle for survival, but when dragons enter the fray in human form... humans lose. Three decades later, Cecily lives in an enclave with her father and brother. Ignorant of life before the war, she placidly obeys the restrictions imposed by dragonkind. Stifled by court life, Derek, heir of the Dragon Queen, commits a petty crime. To avoid punishment and chronic boredom, he escapes to the enclave. His arrival sparks increased tension when he meets Cecily. She realizes the limitations on her freedom, and Derek discovers his life is built on a lie. Their forbidden friendship threatens to splinter the separation between their people, but something more dangerous occurs. A mysterious killer has kidnapped Cecily's mother - and seems to be stalking Cecily. Derek and Cecily must defy the rules of their society to find and stop the murderer before Cecily is next.


Positive points


This was a great story. It kept my interest from the start. One of those stories where you want to keep reading to see what happens next. It wasn't too predictable and the pace of the plot was just right. It picked up nicely as the story unfolded and ended leaving you wanting more. Great job!

Negative points


There is not much that is negative, but if I was to be really fussy I would say that a little work could have improved the emotions side of the characters. There was a tendency to tell the reader how they felt instead of showing and the use of adverbs to describe certain emotions. But it didn't take anything away from the enjoyment of the plot.

What makes this book unique


It has dragons that are people! What could be more unique than that! It was an interesting concept.

Overall impression


A great story well worth a read. It will appeal to all kinds of readers. Young adult, dragon and fantasy fans, and even a hint of teen romance.

My rating


A very well deserved four stars! If it wasn't for the telling I would have given it five.





Where to buy The Dragon's Call


Amazon US


Amazon UK



Meet the author



K.W. McCabe has loved fairy tales, Sci-fi, and fantasy all her life, and has been writing stories and poems of that nature since she could first spell. She has worked, in the past, as a library assistant, a baby sitter, a counseling hotline intern, and as a case manager. She maintains that art and writing can only be done when inspired, and inspiration comes from a sufficient amount of laziness. Currently, she is working on Dragon Kin.

Author links






Sunday, 22 March 2015

The Rules of Creative Writing by author Kurt Chambers

The indie publishing scene has grown so massive over the last few years that writing and publishing your own book has become possible for anyone who wishes to do so. This has caused a lot of mixed feelings. The main criticism is the quality of writing. In order to become published mainstream, you usually need a fundamental understanding of the 'creative writing rules' in order to be taken seriously. Unless you're a celebrity, of course. Self-published authors can publish anything they want without having to know anything.

When I first set out as an author, I didn't care much for these rules. I believed you should write however you want. What's wrong with some originality? I spent many years in a novel workshop, writing and reviewing, learning and slowly honing the skills that were taught to me. Now I can see why learning these rules was so important. It does make you a much stronger writer. When I questioned these rules, the advice I was given was, ‘You have to first learn these rules in order to know when it is okay to break them.’

In this post today, I want to share with you just a few basic things that will help make your writing stronger. You can use this as a guide when it comes to editing your first draft. Try it for yourself. Edit one chapter of your manuscript applying these few rules, and see what you think of the difference. Read it aloud in order to hear how your story sounds to the ear as well as in your mind.


Some Basic Creative Writing Rules



Show, don't tell:


I was taught never to 'tell' the reader anything. This is a great rule that will add so much more depth to your writing if done well. To try and 'show' everything isn't always practical. For example, you don't need to go into pages of description about a particular uniform with a brass helmet and matching buttons just to inform the reader that this character is a fireman. But as a general rule, especially when it comes to emotions, it is better to 'show' as much as you can.

Example...

Johnny entered the dark room and came to a standstill. Something was wrong. The door slammed closed, making him jump. He was terrified.
                                

Johnny entered the dark room and came to a standstill. His heart beat faster. The slamming door sent a jolt through his body. He gripped his chest, fighting for gasps of breath.

Both these sentences are describing the same scene. In the second sentence, I replaced the 'telling' statements with character action. It's clear to see the difference between the two. Read through your manuscript one paragraph at a time and see how many 'telling' statements you could replace in a similar way.

I had a terrible 'telling' habit when I first started out, so I made a list of character actions to help me 'show' emotions. Telling is fine in a first draft, but when it comes to editing, you may find this list useful.



POV (point of view):


This is a very important aspect that all authors need to get to grips with. I never had an understanding of this when I wrote some of my first novels and had to spend many hours editing at least two complete novels to correct all the POV mistakes. Instead of explaining POV in great detail to you, I am going to take the easy way out and share an article by Pam McCutcheon, who explains it so wonderfully. It was this article that taught me what POV actually was, and I am only too happy to share it with you.


POV is something of a personal preference. The growing trend these days is to write in first person perspective, especially in young adult genres. It is said you can get a deep POV that really gets into the head of the character. I only write in third person limited myself and like to think I can get a deep POV using this method. I think it is the most popular POV for middle grade readers. We are all different. I guess it comes down to whatever you are used to reading.


Adverb abuse:


Adverbs (words ending in 'ly') are wonderful things but do fall into the 'telling' category. Using too many is viewed as lazy writing. It is quite easy to rely on them as a shortcut to describing a character's feelings, actions and facial expression in just one word.

"I think she passed away," he said sadly.

What you should be doing is describing the actions of the character in more detail to paint a better image for the reader.

"I think she passed away." He held a palm to his forehead, releasing a long sigh.

It is a worthwhile exercise to skim through your manuscript looking for adverbs you could eliminate to make your writing much stronger. You will be surprised at how many authors use them wastefully, pardon the pun. Here is an example of how they can sometimes be placed in a sentence for no reason.

He crept into the darkened room quietly.

The verb 'crept' is strong enough to give the reader enough information on the actions of the character without having to use the adverb 'quietly'.

We used to use a ball-park figure of no more than three adverbs per chapter. How many have you used?


Passive voice:


This is not the easiest thing to explain. There are certain trigger words that cause passive voice. Words like 'was' and 'were', for example. I am no expert in this field, so I will post a link that will explain it in all its glorious technical details, using examples to show the difference between active and passive sentences.


Although passive voice is difficult to explain, it is something that will become more and more obvious to you once you have a general idea of what to look for.


Repeated and unneeded words:


This may seem like something trivial to worry about, but by simply finding and changing words that are repeated often, you can improve the 'flow' of writing by quite a bit. Also, when you read your manuscript out loud to yourself, you may find there are some unneeded words that just choke up the writing. Use as few words as needed, well-chosen words.



These are some of the basic rules that I was taught in my novel workshop that I sometimes see lacking in the growing trend of indie authors. For those authors out there who are still submitting manuscripts to publishers and editors, these are some of the things that could lead to your MS being rejected. For those authors who are publishing themselves, I hope you find this helpful in bringing your books to a higher literary standard that will make them shine above the rest. Good luck to you all and happy writing (and editing).

Some other useful writing posts: 



Shameless plug:


If you are interested in seeing the results of a finished novel putting into practice the above set of rules then you can download a free copy of my award winning fantasy novel, Truth Teller. It is a heart-warming tale of true friendship in an action packed adventure. It is free to all readers in any format.

Truth Teller


How could ten-year-old Charlotte ever envisage that magic really existed. For her, the world of other realms belonged in children's fairy tales—or so she thought—until she discovers a strange shopkeeper, which begins an adventure that will change her life forever.
                         
When she finds herself lost and alone in a far away forest, she must embark on a journey where heart-stopping danger and real life monsters are real. However, a far greater threat shadows her every move. Even with the strengths and skills of her new companions, they cannot protect her against a ruthless druid assassin.
                                                                              
But in this realm, Charlotte is not the vulnerable little girl she thought she was.

Amazon:


Smashwords:


Barnes & Noble:



Sunday, 8 March 2015

Book Review: The Circle of Law by Lia London


General Information


Publisher: Lia London
Year of publication: 2013
Number of chapters: 24
Number of pages: 268

Plot summary: (blurb)


A tragic journey to bury their parents plunges Marki and Isbi into the world of legends. Marki discovers that the Ancients--men and women who live for centuries and control the elements--are real! What's more, she is to take her place among them as the Governor of Death.

Now she and her sister are in a race against a power-hungry queen. The Ancients must be found and united in time to stop the annihilation of all the people who believe in them.

Positive points


This was a great action-packed story that started with action from the very beginning and continued to the last page. The characters are likeable and believable, each with their individual traits that kept the story interesting in every chapter. This is a very impressive debut novel from the author, Lia London, and will leave you wanting to read more from the extensive list of novel that she has wrote since. Nine in total if I'm not mistaken.

The story reminded me of a gang of different super-hero's set in a fantasy land from long ago. It is a YA story for ages 12-18 but will appeal to all readers who enjoy this genre.

Negative points


The story is written in many POVs (points of view) which weren't always clearly defined. This meant it lacked any deep POV from any particular character. This would have helped the reader to connect more and have a greater empathy towards the characters rather than relying on adverbs to describe how they were feeling. But saying that, this book was very well written with no grammar errors. It is just a matter of personal preference. It didn't take anything away from the enjoyment of the story.

What makes this book unique


The whole plot of the story was unique. I have not read another novel before that I can compare to this one. Ancient super-hero's take on the world.

Overall impression


I really enjoyed reading this very impressive debut novel. It had interesting characters and plenty of action to keep you turning those pages. Lia London is a talented author and I will be checking out more of her stories. Very well done, Lia :)

My rating


A very well deserved four stars!




Where to buy Circle of Law


Amazon US


Amazon UK


Barnes & Noble


Meet the author




Lia London is a graduate of Western Oregon University where she studied English and Music. As a child, she lived in Scotland, and after college, she lived in Guatemala. She taught high school English, Geography and Spanish for a few years and has written many plays and musicals. The Circle of Law is her first novel, and a sequel is in the works. She now lives with her husband and two children in Oregon.

Author links









Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Book Review: Gone by Julie Elizabeth Powell



General Information


Publisher: Julie Elizabeth Powell
Year of publication: 2014
Number of chapters: 20
Number of pages: 252

Plot summary: (blurb)


After Charley dies in her office chair, how is it that she finds herself propelled into the mysterious world of Avalon?

Upon encountering an essence, which insists is her daughter – the one she knows she left behind – insanity battles with fear inside her mind.

The further she delves, the more puzzling things appear, especially after she rises into the Orb of Caprice – a realm of fairies, talking flowers and goblins…and something else, something that lurks in the shadows ready to swallow her whole.

Can she realise in time what it is she must do…or has she left it too late?

Gone is a story inspired by a true event.

Positive points


Gone is not a mainstream story, but rather one written from the heart. I loved this about this novel. The book being based on a true story adds a depth that you can't get from a typical book written for the market. I found it moving and incredibly brave of the author to delve into some of the issues that were portrayed in this book. It affected me emotionally seeing the raw feelings and thoughts from a mother who has lost one of her children. This is a big plus for the author. Who wants to read a book without emotion?

Despite the hard issues, the story is far from being dark or morbid. It has an unusual adult fairytale feel to it. It reminded me of the classic tale Alice in Wonderland, a thought that was reflected by the main character at one point. You get to visit a fantasy land filled with colourful and original characters.


If you are looking for a story that is possibly unlike any story you have read before, this is the book for you. 

Negative Points 


There were some minor grammar issues in this book that were not mistakes but more of a niggle. It was nothing that took away the enjoyment of the story, just the odd POV slip, a few repeats and the overuse of ellipses. I ran a novel workshop for some years and had these things drummed into me, so I'm sure this would only be noticed by someone who has been through the same discipline.

What makes this book unique


I found the whole concept of the book unique. It is a true story set around an original fantasy world. 

Overall Impression


I really enjoyed reading this story. Knowing it was a true story made the sad bits really sad. I am in awe of the authors bravery. I can only imagine how hard it must have been to write these words after suffering such a life-shattering experience. It made me laugh and made me cry. I would be very happy for such reactions from anyone who read one of my novels. Well done, Julie.

My rating


This is difficult. I want to give Julie five stars for the originality of this story, but with the overuse of ellipses and other minor grammar errors, I have to award four stars for simple honesty. But it was a close five.


Disclaimer 


Since I wrote this review the author has released a new edited version of this great story.


Meet the author




Hello everyone. If you haven't guessed by now I have a passion for words and have ten books published...all thanks to Lulu and Kindle, much hard work and sleepless nights. My eldest daughter has flown the nest and is married to a man who doesn't mind his mother-in-law though my son is still fluffing his feathers. My middle child is off on a mysterious adventure, the like of which I can only guess...and tried to do so in my first book, Gone.

I love to read and am looking for ways to double time so to indulge in the mysterious and wonderful and delicious and strange...my favourite kind of story. Writing is my passion, though I enjoy creating handcrafted cards, jewellery making, scrapbooking and dabbling in encaustic art whenever I can. Oh yes, I used to teach or mark exam papers but now concentrate on writing and enjoying my new life, which materialised, as if by a miracle. Though still dislike all those necessary domestic chores that would, for me, be included in the Rings of Hell! I have a BA(Hons).

That's it. Thank you to anyone who reads my books.


Author links




Sunday, 11 January 2015

A Fabulous Fantasy for Free #FFFF

Welcome to 2015 everyone! Wow, I'm old enough to remember the classic space series, Space 1999, with the moon base Alpha. It's 2015 and it's nothing like that. We haven't even been back to the moon! You have to love a classic fantasy and what could be better than starting the New Year with a free fantasy novel that will hopefully stay with you with fondness for many years into your future. And let's also start the New Year with a new tag and see if we can get it into a 'trend' status. Fabulous fantasy for free! #FFFF

Let me be the first by introducing you to my free MG fantasy novel, Truth Teller. This is book one of my Truth Teller book series. There are three books in total, Truth Teller, The Wrath of Siren and Favian's Law. The reason I can offer my first book for free as an eBook is because I have almost covered the costs of producing this novel into publication and I am currently more interested in gaining readers than I am the accumulation of wealth. I have a day job. And I am quietly confident that some of you may enjoy this story enough to continue reading the series. Book two, The Wrath of Siren, is published and available in all good stores and I will be publishing book three, Favian's Law later this year.



Truth Teller:


How could ten-year-old Charlotte ever envisage that magic really existed. For her, the world of other realms belonged in children's fairy tales—or so she thought—until she discovers a strange shopkeeper, which begins an adventure that will change her life forever.
                         
When she finds herself lost and alone in a far away forest, she must embark on a journey where heart-stopping danger and real life monsters are real. However, a far greater threat shadows her every move. Even with the strengths and skills of her new companions, they cannot protect her against a ruthless druid assassin.
                                                                              
But in this realm, Charlotte is not the vulnerable little girl she thought she was.


Amazon quotes:


"I think that kids in fourth grade through eighth grade would really like this book- and of course, older kids and adults would also find it to be an interesting read.”

5 reviewers made a similar statement

"The story was well written and the characters were well presented.”

4 reviewers made a similar statement


Read all the reviews yourself:



Readers Favorite Book Review




Preditors & Editors Award Winner





All eBooks available for free:


Amazon:


Smashwords:


Barnes & Noble:



Book two is also available for those who wish to continue reading this epic adventure.



The Wrath of Siren:


Elderfield accepts a Gateway into another realm in a desperate bid to protect the human child, Charlotte, from the Dark Druid. His good intentions go horribly wrong, threatening the destruction of all his people and condemning the Truth Teller to a life she can never escape.

Readers Favorite Book Review





Amazon:


Smashwords:


Barnes & Noble:



Happy reading everyone!