Monday, 1 September 2014

Monday Mini-Reviews - The Ask and the Answer and Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness



The Ask and the Answer (Chaos Walking, #2) We were in the square, in the square where I'd run, holding her, carrying her, telling her to stay alive, stay alive till we got safe, till we got to Haven so I could save her - But there weren't no safety, no safety at all, there was just him and his men...

Fleeing before a relentless army, Todd has carried a desperately wounded Viola right into the hands of their worst enemy, Mayor Prentiss. Immediately separated from Viola and imprisoned, Todd is forced to learn the ways of the Mayor's new order. But what secrets are hiding just outside of town? And where is Viola? Is she even still alive? And who are the mysterious Answer? And then, one day, the bombs begin to explode...

"The Ask and the Answer" is a tense, shocking and deeply moving novel of resistance under the most extreme pressure. This is the second title in the "Chaos Walking" trilogy.
Monsters of Men (Chaos Walking, #3) 


 "War," says the Mayor. "At last." 

Three armies march on New Prentisstown, each one intent on destroying the others. Todd and Viola are caught in the middle, with no chance of escape. As the battles commence, how can they hope to stop the fighting? How can there ever be peace when they're so hopelessly outnumbered? And if war makes monsters of men, what terrible choices await? But then a third voice breaks into the battle, one bent on revenge - the electrifying finale to the award-winning "Chaos Walking" trilogy, Monsters of Men is a heart-stopping novel about power, survival, and the devastating realities of war.










It’s been ages since I read the first book in this intense, unique dystopian series, but when I started reading The Ask and the Answer, it immediately came back. The Knife of Never Letting Go is the kind of book that lingers with you long after you finish, and I honestly don’t know how I waited so long to find out what happened next!

The second book picks up where the first left off, with Todd in the hands of the enemy, Mayor Prentiss, and Viola taken away, close to death. Now the mayor – now President – has taken over the town of Haven, Todd is forced to work for him alongside his son, the man who shot Viola. Viola herself, meanwhile, is drawn into the vigilante group known as the Answer, who are fighting against the town’s new leadership.

This time we get both characters’ POV’s, and the author does a great job distinguishing the two voices so it doesn’t become confusing.  I was completely drawn into Todd and Viola’s journey. They have to make so many difficult choices and the morally right thing to do is never clear. While Todd is forced to manage the native Spackle, who are now slaves, Viola has to face some harsh truths when bombs start exploding and no one knows who’s responsible. The characters are all three-dimensional and flawed, and Mayor/President Prentiss is a seriously scary villain.

After the killer cliffhanger at the end of The Ask and the Answer, I was glad I had the final book at the ready! And wow, the ending of this trilogy most definitely did not disappoint. Jumping right into the action, we’re pulled into the heart of the war that erupted at the end of the second book. The plot moves at a breakneck pace towards an explosive finale, and I felt for the characters at every horrific twist and turn.

I don’t want to spoil the ending, so let me just say that it’s perfection. This is nothing like any other dystopian books I’ve read, and to be honest, it blows most of them out of the water. Hard-hitting, uncompromising and utterly unputdownable – I’d recommend this to everyone, whether you like dystopia or not.

Rating: *****

Fall Into Fantasy Week 2!


Welcome to the Fall Into Fantasy Tour, where we are keeping your mind off any end-of-summer blues and welcoming the cooler weather by introducing you to some incredible fantasy reads to curl up with and giving you plenty of chances to win awesome prizes!

Week 2: How to Date Dead Guys 
Under the Blood Moon series
By Ann M. Noser
College sophomore Emma Roberts remembers her mother’s sage advice: “don’t sleep around, don’t burp in public, and don’t tell anyone you see ghosts”. But when charming Mike Carlson drowns in the campus river under her watch, Emma’s sheltered life shatters.

Blamed for Mike’s death and haunted by nightmares, Emma turns to witchcraft and a mysterious Book of Shadows to bring him back. Under a Blood Moon, she lights candles, draws a pentacle on the campus bridge, and casts a spell. The invoked river rages up against her, but she escapes its fury. As she stumbles back to the dorm, a stranger drags himself from the water and follows her home. And he isn't the only one. 

Instead of raising Mike, Emma assists the others she stole back from the dead—a pre-med student who jumped off the bridge, a desperate victim determined to solve his own murder, and a frat boy Emma can’t stand…at first. More comfortable with the dead than the living, Emma delves deeper into the seductive Book of Shadows. Her powers grow, but witchcraft may not be enough to protect her against the vengeful river and the killers that feed it their victims.

Inspired by the controversial Smiley Face Murders, HOW TO DATE DEAD GUYS will ignite the secret powers hidden deep within each of us.

Buy it from: Amazon US  Amazon UK  Barnes & Noble

Or add it to Goodreads

ABOUT ANN M. NOSER:

My to-do list dictates that I try to cram 48 hours of living into a day instead of the usual 24. I’ve chosen a life filled with animals. I train for marathons with my dog, then go to work as a small animal veterinarian, and finish the day by tripping over my pets as I attempt to convince my two unruly children that YES, it really IS time for bed. But I can’t wait until the house is quiet to write; I have to steal moments throughout the day. Ten minutes here, a half hour there, I live within my imagination.
Like all busy American mothers, I multi-task. I work out plot holes during runs. Instead of meditating, I type madly during yoga stretches. I find inspiration in everyday things: a beautiful smile, a heartbreaking song, or a newspaper article on a political theory. For example, a long drive in the dark listening to an NPR program on the SMILEY FACE MURDERS theory made me ask so many questions that I wrote HOW TO DATE DEAD GUYS to answer them to my satisfaction. 

I’d love to have more time to write (and run, read, and sleep), but until I find Hermione Granger’s time turner, I will juggle real life with the half-written stories in my head. Main characters and plot lines intertwine in my cranium, and I need to let my writing weave the tales on paper so I can find out what happens next.

Find Ann Online: 
Blog   Facebook page  Twitter  Goodreads

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Saturday, 30 August 2014

#WIPMarathon Update #7

Last report wordcount and chapter count/scene count: I'd finished my pre-edits on Darkworld 4 and 5, plus I was at 45K of my draft.

Current report WC + CC/SC:
 I finished my draft at 75K! Including one crazy 6K-in-a-day marathon! :D


I've also done a ton of planning, research and outlining for Shiny New Series, and started writing the first book! I'm at around 30K so far. ^_^ It's been a crazy few weeks!

WIP Issues this month: 
Getting distracted by Shiny New Series, which took over my mind and demanded to be written. The problem? I knew it was a complex idea, with multiple alternative universes and layers of plots and magicky stuff. But I couldn't let it go, so I decided to let myself research whenever I had free time after meeting my daily writing goals and finishing work.  I have to finish every draft I start (and the WIP wasn't going badly... it was just less appealing than the new shiny, which is always the way!) so I made myself juggle both at once until I'd finished my draft. It was tricky, but I'm glad I did it - I hate leaving projects unfinished!

Four things I learned this month in writing:

  • If I really, really love an idea, then it doesn't matter how much work I'll have to put in or how many other things I have to do - I'll find a way to make it happen. I forgot how amazing it is when a story creeps up on you and takes over your mind so you HAVE to work on it, regardless of whatever else is going on! Like when my flash drive broke when I was on the way to Italy...and the only other copy of the series plan for my novel (not to mention 23,000 words of the manuscript!) was at home. But it didn't kill my desire to write, and I actually wrote 14K in 4 days, including 7000 words of a companion novella. (And the file survived! Hallelujah!) 
  • To maintain sanity, I work on plotting in small stages. As I've been wrestling with a super-complex series idea for the last month, I've been trying to focus on the details rather than the whole project at once to avoid becoming overwhelmed. Also, keeping all the information in one Scrivener document = a good plan! I have all the worldbuilding info, character profiles, and files just for cool ideas that occur to me as I go along. BUT I did get quite a dramatic reminder to back up my files in more than one place. o.O
  • I've been trying out new techniques to get more words down per day without sacrificing quality. For instance, running through a scene in my head beforehand and scribbling in a notebook, writing bits and pieces of it down, then putting it all together. It takes a bit longer, but it ultimately has a smoother result! Right now, I'm actually writing several chapters at once, in fragments, and when I run into an issue with one, I move onto another. This is partly because I'm alternating between two 1st person POV's, so two stories are happening at the same time.
  • Speaking of the dual 1st person POV, it's also the first time I've done that - and the first time I've written from the perspectives of two characters who couldn't be more different from me! It's challenging, but I never expected it to be so much fun!
What distracted me this month when writing: 

My book re-releasing!

Also, querying. o.O And various mini-breaks and fun trips. :) Spending time with the boyfriend and the family. ^^

Goal for next month: Carry on with this draft! :D I'm trying to stick with one series rather than hopping around, and this particular one is...demanding. Obviously, I'll have to take breaks for Darkworld edits and if anything happens with the book I'm querying, but for now, I'll focus on this new series! :)


Last 200 words: *deep breath* This is a tad nerve-wracking, but I'll share the opening to Shiny New Series Book 1! (Bear in mind the first-draftiness of it!)



Pulling my hood to hide my face, I slipped from the fog-shrouded London street into a narrow alleyway between two broken-down buildings. No one saw me.
I rubbed my arms, feeling the chill from the alley wall penetrate the thin fabric of my coat. Several feet in, the brick gave way to another substance which wasn’t obvious at first glance. This area was so off-radar, no one would ever come looking for trouble here - not of the magic variety, anyway. But my fingers found the familiar cracks between brick and metal, and a gentle push was all I needed. Before my eyes, the fake part of the wall slid away, revealing cold metal in an arched shape.
Whoever had first found the Passage here, I didn’t know. Even Nell didn’t. They couldn’t be created - they just existed, anomalies in nature.
The metal wall was icy to the touch and vibrated under my fingers. It wasn’t a door, exactly, though it functioned like a sliding panel, moving back to reveal a dark corridor.
I stepped over the threshold.
The Passages were always freezing, no matter the time of day - there was no sun here, and it grew colder the further in you went. Officially, only the first corridor was accessible, but there was nothing official about this. And I knew all the secrets of the Passages. I could walk them blindfolded, even into the dark places the Alliance didn’t want anyone on Earth to know about.

Friday, 29 August 2014

August Monthly Reading Wrap-Up! (And changes on the blog!)

Hello, lovely readers! I'm back from Italy, and I'll be sharing my photos during next week's What's Up Wednesday post. ^_^

I have a confession. Like a lot of writers, my TBR list is out of control, and my time's extremely limited. Now, I'm a fast reader, but my reviewing speed is flagging, and I just don't have time to review everything I read...which often leads to me feeling guilty for reviewing some books and not others! So, I've decided to start doing monthly recaps of my reading with mini-reviews of what I've read that month.  This is taking the place of Monday Mini-Reviews after September!

Silver Shadows (Bloodlines, #5)First up: Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead! Technically, I read this in July, but I've reviewed all the other books in the series (and if I'd been reading at normal-human reading, I'd have finished it this month... but with my crazy reading speed, I finished it in a couple of hours!).

Silver Shadows is the fifth book in the Bloodlines series, and follows Sydney Sage, an Alchemist who, when sent into hiding with the Moroi (vampire) Queen's half-sister, became embroiled in magic and a forbidden relationship with a Moroi, Adrian. Now, she's suffering for the mistake she made in the previous book, and the tension's at an all-time-high. Richelle Mead writes in a way that pulls you into the story immediately, and keeps you there from beginning to end! I can't wait for the conclusion to the series!


The Falconer (The Falconer, #1)Next up: I read The Falconer by Elizabeth May! I've had my eye on this one for a while (faeries? Steampunk Edinburgh? Kickass female lead? Hell yeah!) and I'm happy to say it met my expectations! The ending, however, was cruel. *wants sequel*

Gates of Thread and Stone

I had my eye on Gates of Thread and Stone by Lori M. Lee ever since I first saw the blurb, and I'm glad to say the story more than lived up to the beautiful cover! There's so much originality here, and so many cool elements (time manipulation, mythology, even a dash of steampunk). Highly recommended!


The Thief (The Queen's Thief, #1)This has been a great month for unique fantasy! Based on many recommendations, I read The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner, and wow. It's about a thief who's offered freedom from imprisonment in exchange for stealing a treasure from legend...but it's so much more than that. It's hard to say without spoiling the story, but I really appreciated how subtle and clever the whole setup was. Amazing!



The Emperor's Blades (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne)

Blackfin SkyAs a reader, I'm picky when it comes to epic fantasy, but I was instantly hooked by The Emperor's Blades by Brian Staveley. The compelling story, gripping action, and three-dimensional, complex characters made this one of the best epic fantasies I've read - I can't wait for the sequel!



Blackfin Sky by Kat Ellis has to be one of the most original books I've read in a long time! The setting and the creepy atmosphere drew me in, and the mystery had me guessing up until the end.

City of a Thousand Dolls (Bhinian Empire, #1)


Another great find was City of A Thousand Dolls by Miriam Forster. I loved how the story-world was different to most other YA high fantasy I've read, rich and detailed and full of mystery. It had me hooked from beginning to end!



Dust to Dust  (Experiment in Terror, #9)
Opposition (Lux, #5) Opposition by Jennifer L. Armentrout is the final book in the sci-fi romance Lux series, and I really enjoyed it!  I never thought I'd enjoy sci-fi alien romance before I found this series, but JLA's writing is addictive and the suspense, drama and hilarious one-liners make her books difficult to put down. And this is no exception! Packed with tension, action, and the usual JLA humour and romance, I thought this was a great end to the series.


Another fantastic finale was the final book in the Experiment in Terror series by Karina Halle! Dust to Dust wrapped up this NA paranormal/horror romance series wonderfully. I was on the edge of my seat throughout the whole book!

Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin, #1)

Darkness Hidden (The Name of the Blade, #2)I've had Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers on my list forever, but I finally got round to reading it! It's about assassin nuns in medieval France, who kill whoever is marked by the god of death himself. I'm picky when it comes to historical fiction, but this story is the perfect balance of politics, tension, romance and the fantastical. I was hooked!

I was really excited for the second book in Zoe Marriott's exciting Name of the Blade trilogy, and I loved Darkness Hidden even more than The Night Itself! I can't wait for the finale!

It's definitely been a great reading month! I think I'm going to enjoy doing this feature. ^_^


Monday, 25 August 2014

Fall Into Fantasy Tour Kick-Off! The Darkness & Light Series by K. L. Schwengel


Welcome to the Fall Into Fantasy Tour, where we are keeping your mind off any end-of-summer blues and welcoming the cooler weather by introducing you to some incredible fantasy reads to curl up with and giving you plenty of chances to win awesome prizes!

Week 1: The Darkness & Light Series
Book One: First of Her Kind
Book Two: Emergence
Book Three: Edge of Darkness (Release date 2015)


It seems everyone wants to dictate what Ciara does with her life: Serve the Goddess, destroy the Goddess, do as you promised your aunt -- all Ciara really wants is to keep the two magics she possesses from ripping her apart.

And that's not going to be easy.

Not only is her earth magic in complete opposition to her other power, blood ties pull her in divergent directions as well. And then there's Bolin, the man sworn to protect her. There's no denying the growing attraction between them, but is it Ciara he wants, or her power?

None of which will matter if Ciara can't overcome her fear and learn how to use her gifts. No one knows the depths of the ancient power she possesses, or what will happen if it manages to escape her control. Will she lose herself entirely? Or be forever caught between Darkness and Light?

Buy the e-book: Kindle Nook
Or the paperback: Amazon  Barnes & Noble


The battle for Ciara's power has drawn the full attention of the Emperor and the Imperial Mages, forcing Bolin to put duty above safety and take her to Nisair. It won't be an easy trip, even with an Imperial escort and a Galysian elder accompanying them. Especially since Donovan has found himself some new allies, one of who wields a dark magic that has literally gotten under Bolin's skin.

For Ciara, coming to terms with the increasingly tangible manifestation of her power could destroy her. Even if they make it to Nisair--something that grows more unlikely by the day--there is no surety of safety for Ciara, or any of them. Not with Donovan willing to gamble everything to achieve his goals, or Bolin's uncharacteristically reckless behavior, the result of which is the attention of something that has everyone worried.

Loyalties will be tested, lives will be lost, and no one will emerge unchanged as they find things are not always so clear on the line dividing Darkness and Light.

Buy the e-book: Kindle  Nook
Or the paperback: Amazon  Barnes & Noble



ABOUT K.L. SCHWENGEL

K. L. Schwengel lives in southeast Wisconsin on a small farm with her husband, a handful of Australian Shepherds, Her Royal Highness Princess Fiona the Cat, and assorted livestock. Growing up as the youngest of nine children, and the daughter of a librarian, Kathi spent many hours between stacks of books, and secluded away in dusty archives, drawn to tales of medieval heroes and conquering knights. With so many characters and ideas spinning in her head, she had to get them onto paper or risk what little sanity she possessed. She has been penning wild tales of magic and mayhem as long as she can remember, but opted to follow her artistic muse first. After earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts and spending many years working as a freelance artist, grocery clerk, art teacher, graphic designer, stable hand, advertising account coordinator, dog trainer, and process technician (among other things) she answered the call of her writing muse. When not writing, Kathi trains and trials working Australian Shepherds, still paints, dabbles in photography, graphic design, and anything else creative her assorted muses send her way.

Connect online at…

Blog  Facebook  Pinterest  Twitter  Amazon Page  Goodreads


Want to get involved with the Fall Into Fantasy promotional tour?
  • Don't forget to join us at the Facebook party here
  • If you are interested in joining up as a blogger, you can always sign up here. We are happy to welcome more bloggers into the fold as the promotion continues. 
  • If you are an author or blogger and want to sign up to help with the party, please fill out this form.

Cover Reveal - The Wicked Path by Eliza Tilton




Wicked Path, by Eliza Tilton

Genre: young-adult, fantasy

Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press

Date of Release: October 6, 2014

Series: Daath Chronicles (#2)

Cover Artist: Michelle Johnson at Blue Sky Design (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Blue-Sky-Design/1401031006827361?sk=timeline)

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22452354-wicked-path?from_search=true

Description:

In Wicked Path: Book Two of the Daath Chronicles brother and sister are forced to opposite sides of Tarrtainya on a fast-paced adventure where the wildlife isn’t the only thing trying to kill them.

Three months have passed since Avikar defeated the Reptilian Prince, and he still can’t remember his battle with Lucino. On the hunt for answers, he returns to the scene of the fight and discovers a strange connection between his family’s dagger and the mysterious kingdom of Daath, and it seems only his distant father can reveal the truth behind it all.

Before Avikar can travel back home, Lucy assaults him in the market and forces him to flee to Nod Mountains—a place few dare to enter, and even less return from. With Raven and her childhood friend by his side, they must survive the treacherous journey through the pass with a vengeful Lucy hunting them. If they don’t, they’ll never see home again.

Jeslyn’s new life in Luna Harbor is the perfect remedy for her confused and broken heart. But when a group of mercenaries kidnap her beloved Grandfather, interrupting her daily routine as his jewelry apprentice, she's forced to join forces with the one person from her past she tried to forget.

And his assistance comes with a price.

--

About The Author:

Eliza graduated from Dowling College with a BS in Visual Communications. When she’s not arguing with excel at her day job, or playing Dragon Age 2, again, she’s writing.

Her YA stories hold a bit of the fantastical and there’s always a hot romance. She resides on Long Island with her husband, two kids and one very snuggly pit bull.

Find Eliza Tilton Online:

Website (http://elizatilton.com/)| Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Eliza-Tilton-YA-Author/245765852217133) | Twitter (https://twitter.com/ElizaTilton)| Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7047768.Eliza_Tilton)

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Ready. Set. Write! Final Update

Ready. Set. Write! is a writing challenge hosted by Alison Miller, Katy Upperman, Erin L. Funk and Jaime Morrow, and this is my final update!


How I did on last week’s goal(s)

I wrote 16K of my shiny new draft - at 22K now! It's been a super-productive writing week, even though I've been busy with real-world things and freelance work, too! ^_^

My goal(s) for this week

As I'm going to Italy (yay!), I might have limited writing time...but then again, I said the same thing last week. :P I'll aim for three chapters of the shiny new draft this week!

A favorite line from my story OR a word or phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised

The beginning of my Shiny New series features alternative worlds, a sarcastic centaur, running around dark passages, and invisibility!

The biggest challenge I faced this week

Time. Having to drag my brain away from story-world to deal with real-world things. Inevitably, the moment I get into serious writing-mode, something interrupts! And then I do silly things like trying to walk down "up" escalators. (I may have done that this week... :P)


Something I love about my WIP 

I love everything about my new shiny series! ^_^ It's the first time I've written an urban fantasy set on an alternative Earth where magic is out in the open, and with lots of alternative universes involved. It's also my first time writing adult UF rather than YA or MG, so it's a new challenge! The characters are around 21-22 years old, so the voice is quite similar to my Darkworld series. But neither of the two MC's are anything like characters I've written before. It's fun to try new things!