Tag Archives: novel

Book Review: Shadow’s Bane by Karen Chance — Dorina Basarab Series Book 4

I discovered this book in October 2018, and it started a flood of reading for me.

Summary: 51v2kpbkfyl._sx309_bo1204203200_

Dory, new senator and equally as poor, is chasing down a smuggling ring and on a collision course with an evil faerie out to conquer the worlds. The fae king has his eye on kidnapping Dory into his warriors. Dory’s new family wants her to take charge and care for them. Marlow knows Dory is the source of his misery and is equally ready to kill her or use her as the case demands. Louis Caesar just wants to protect her.

My rating: 5 stars

My thoughts:

Let me start with, I have always loved this series. I started reading Karen Chance with the Cassandra Palmer series. Cassie is ok. She’s not my favorite, but she’s not bad. Dory, on the other hand, is my kind of girl.

I like Dory. Dory is straight forward. She wants something, say a giant teddy bear with double stitching for her kid; assesses the options available to her; and picks the potentially best solution, such as having Louis Caesar to win the bear in game of skill. As always, something goes wrong and Dory ends up running from one mess to the next.

There are no slow chapters in a Dorina novel. If Dorina isn’t running into a mass of court sycophants aiming to kill the Counsel, then she’s probably trying to escape an arena of trolls with two potential senate candidates aiming to eliminate her.

This series is getting tighter. In the earlier Dorina books, some of the action scenes have no purpose. In Death’s Mistress, for instance, there is a chapter about Dorina getting into the Counsel’s mansion across a field of sport spectators. There is a lot of flying cars and stand antics, but it’s all just a delay and doesn’t feel like there is a purpose. In Shadow’s Bane, each scene feels like it works for or against Dory. The writing is tighter, the action is more purposeful, and the book races from start to end.

This series always leaves me wanting more. This is so true that after reading (listening to) Shadow’s Bane, I started reading the series from Midnight’s Daughter through to the end of Shadow’s Bane again. I’ll probably do it again. I’m so glad to see another one of these books after the long six (?) year wait.

Book Review: Cormorant Run (working for the devil)

Alright, long way around on this one. Here’s what happened:

9780316003131_p0_v1_s550x406I was in the middle of rereading some of my favorite series, and the library suggested I might like Working for the Devil by Liliath Saintcrow. So I borrowed it, read it, and felt disappointed.

I gave it two stars, and I don’t typically publish reviews on books I give two stars to.

Summary: Danny Valentine is hired by the devil to kill an escaped demon who has stole the Egg. She is given a demon sidekick. She forms a time, hunts the bad guy, falls in love with her demon sidekick, and gets gyped by the devil who really wanted to retreive a kid in escapee’s possession.

I thought this would book would be awesome. Strong woman. Kick ass adventure. Demons and the devil. Necromancers. Plant mages. A side romance. Hits all my boxes, usually. However, I didn’t connect with Danny as a character. She was whiny and pushed everything away too much. She showed little true interest in her demon sidekick yet stated she loved him. His reason for loving her . . . wait for it . . . she treated him better than anyone else ever had. She ditched him, insulted him, told him she hated him and his kind, and freaked out everytime he touched her. Yet, she treated him better than anyone else and therefore he loved her? No. Just, no. Danny and I were not destined to be best buds.

So why is this a book review of Cormorant Run by Liliathsaintcrow? Because there was something in Working for the Devil that caught my interest. The writing felt like a new writer hitting their stride, and by the end, I felt bad for Danny’s friend who was shot. I kinda liked Jace, the ex-love. So, I thought I’d give the writer another try, but without Danny. Enter Cormorant Run. Why this one? It isn’t a part of a series, as far as I can tell. It was published 10 years after Working for the Devil, so I figured the writer would have matured. Oh, and it features a kick ass female who assembles a crew and goes on a adventure to a wild and dangerous new place. Again, it ticked most of the boxes for a story I would like.

So. Cormorant Run by Liliath Saintcrow

51rq5nozlyl._sx332_bo1204203200_ Summary:

Deep in QR-715, an epically large rift, is a mysterious and precious object called the Cormorant. After the infamous rifter Asche the Rat dies failing to retrieve the item, Kope pulls Svinga from prison and promises her freedom in exchange for the Cormorant. Svinga leads a team of scientists and military men with no training into the rift, a dangerous area full of electrified snakes, man-eating trees, and unseen predators.

My Rating: 4 stars

My thoughts:

Svinga is a much better character than Danny Valentine. Despite being ugly and malnurished, she fights like a cornered rat, ripping a man’s eye out to prove her point. Yet she cares enough to yank scientists out of danger and lead the rift-crazy away from the vulnerable. She thinks ahead, working to figure out who wants what and how to best use the situation to protect herself. She’s smart enough to not run when given a little freedom but wise enough to know they mean to kill her instead of release her.

The world is also cool. This is a gritty world where it would be just a plausible for some to take their pants down and piss in the middle of the road as to have a character fall in love and dance through town. It just feels like anything could happen from the horrific to the good. The world is divided between the normal, if run down and dusty, and the rift, a dangerous set of bubbles that cover large cities and random other places. Man-eating beasts and toxic sludge inhabit the rifts and attack any humans much like the human white blood cells would attack an invading virus.

There is no safety in this land. Don’t get attached to the characters. There is no guarantee of survival. Some of the deaths surprised me, but most of them felt like they were a part of the world, natural.

Cormorant Run left me ready to read other Saintcrow novels. This was so much better than Working for the Devil.

Interview: M.T. Wilson

Exciting times! I’m part of a collection of international writers. We have our fourth (count them: 1, 2, 3, 4) anthology being released in two weeks.

This is a collection of fairy tale retellings and adaptations. One of the authors is M.T. Wilson.

M. T. Wilson recently graduated from university, where she studied English Literature with Creative Writing, and now works in marketing. It has been her dream for many years to see her writing published, and she intends to never lose sight of that goal. Although she has branched out into science fiction and experimental literary fiction, her first love was fantasy. Her current main project is a young adult science fiction trilogy, which she hopes to publish in the next few years.

More importantly, you can stalk her on twitter or Facebook. Her website is here.

M.T. has added a retelling of The Glass Coffin (link to an audio version of the Grimm’s story) to the anthology.

Hey, M.T., what inspired you to write this fairytale?

M.T.: 

When I decided to take part in the anthology, I knew it didn’t want to retell one of the ‘big’ fairy tales that everyone’s heard of. I wanted to take the opportunity to read some other fairy tales and find something different. After reading The Glass Coffin by the Brothers Grimm, I was captivated by the concept and wanted to take the imagery of the story and apply it to a retelling that twisted the story and made the glass coffin into a different kind of prison.

I agree. I like to see the lesser known fairy tales brought to life. Do you read many original fairy tales?

M.T.:

I haven’t read many original fairy tales and don’t think I could claim to have a favourite, so I’m going to not so subtly avoid answering this question…

Totally, allowed. Was it difficult working with The Glass Coffin in an anthology setting?

M.T.:

Keeping it short! I very rarely write short stories. I much prefer writing novels and building something sustained that I can add lots of layers to. I always find short stories so hard because I get into the story and characters and want to stay with them and could easily get carried away and end up writing a whole novel.

So will you stay with these characters? Or is there another fairytale that you’d like to work on?

M.T.:

I think Beauty and the Beast is an interesting one. There are a lot of ways you could re-tell it, depending how you wanted to depict the ‘beastly’ element, as you could take that concept into lots of different directions, not just physical beastlyness.

But would you still make it a traditional fairytale with the classic happily ever after (HEA) ending? I kind of prefer the non-happily ever after. How about you?

M.T.:

It depends on the story. If a HEA is well crafted and provides a satisfying ending, yes I like it. If it just makes me roll my eyes I find them disappointing endings. But neither do I like an ending which is total disaster and the heroes have failed. Bittersweet endings are probably my favourite, because there is some happiness there but they are more realistic than a totally Happily Ever After.

Does that mean if you had to pick a favorite fairy tale adaption that it wouldn’t be the standard Disney HEA versions?

M.T.:

This is a tough question! When I was a kid I really liked Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, but these days Tangled is one of my favourite Disney movies ever. I also love the Into the Woods film as a mash up of fairy tales.

Fair enough. Ok. So we’ve been part of the Just-Us League for a number of years. Is your main career writing?

M.T.:

No, I work in marketing for the local museums, parks and cemeteries in a nearby town.

Yet, I know you are working on multiple projects. How do you approach your writing?

M.T.:

Plotter all the way. I find if I don’t plan I end up with a half-finished rambling mess of a novel which I will never finished because it’s gone off in such a tangent it feels like I’ll never be able to pull it back from the brink. I at least like to have an idea of where the story is going, the main plot beats and where it’s going to end before I start writing.

What’s the biggest challenge for your writing?

M.T.:

I’ve always found characters and dialogue hard. Plots and settings tend to come to me pretty easily, but I really have to work at my characters to make them really come alive on the page in the way they’re alive in my head!

And what happens when you’ve gone off on a tangent or the characters have tripped you up and the writing stops? What then?

M.T.:

Usually I move on to a different project for a while. I don’t like to sit and force out ideas. Ideas usually come to me randomly, so I just like to bide my time. Things I might try are watching movies or reading books in my genre to stir up some ideas.

I take it that you keep multiple stories going.  Then what projects are you working on?

M.T.:

For the last few years I’ve been working on a young adult science fiction trilogy. I’m in the process of re-drafting the first book and will hopefully be sending that out to agents in the next year or so.

Agents! That’s scary. Do you have strong supports behind your writing journey?

M.T.:

My mum. Whenever I feel doubt about whether I’ll reach my dreams, she’s always there to tell me never to give up.

Speaking of dreams, is there an author that you admire and would like to meet?

M.T.: 

J.K.Rowling. I know I know, it’s such an obvious answer that it’s practically a cliché. But I really admire how she faced so many rejections but wrote something that has become such a big part of our culture, unlike any other story world or series of books. I’d just be curious to meet her.

Fair enough. She has made a great success out of her writing. I share that dream.

Ok. Last question: what’s your spirit animal?

M.T.:

A cat. Because I like sleeping and cuddles.

Awesome. Thanks for being on a guest on my blog.

If you want to know more about M.T. Wilson, check out her social media (herehere, and here).

Coming soon, check out the anthology: Of Legend and Lore

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Whispers in the Dark

The Just-Us League has a new anthology coming out October 13. Friday the thirteenth. Whispers in the Shadows 400x625I have a story in this one about a cat lady.

Here’s what you can find in this anthology:

Even when we think we’re safe, our biggest fears can be revealed, our worst nightmares brought to life.

For some, death is inevitable: a suspended detective and killer play a bloody game of cat and mouse; a girl risks her life to save her friends from an urban legend; a doctor’s daughter works to uncover the curse on their wayward ship; and an old lady’s cats are hungry…very hungry.

For others, death would have been an easier fate: a reflection isn’t meant to talk, let alone free itself; a priestess must renew her people’s magic, but that ritual carries a terrible price; and a famous boy rejects a lovesick girl…and lives to regret it.

Through life and death, the only constant is our fear of the unknown: bloody footprints continue to walk around a lighthouse; Grandma’s warnings of the Autumn People are finally heard loud and clear; and a girl moves into a new house to find a bloodstained carpet…that no one else can see.

Keep the lights on and brace yourself for ten creepy tales of horror and misfortune.

 

As with all the JL Anthologies, each story has its own illustration.

Check it out on Amazon.

Anthology from the JL

I have a story coming up in the JL Anthology.

June 17.

Between Heroes and Villains 3D large.png

What is the difference between a hero and a villain?

A hero should always use their power for good: a detective devotes his life to chasing gifted villains; a girl uses her frost powers to rescue her father; a weary sidekick faces her childhood nemesis; and a young man must protect his loved ones against a tyrannical authority.

But having unique gifts means facing tough decisions: a doctor must choose between saving his reputation or his patient; a young woman saves a drowning man and finds herself in danger as a result; a student discovers the consequences of choice; and a wannabe hero takes on a supervillain hoping she’ll be invited to the hero’s league.

And the line between good and evil is oftentimes blurred: a self-made hero crosses that line to save the world; a lovesick henchman blindly follows his master’s orders; a mentor attempts to prevent a pupil from being drawn to villainy; a superpowered military team questions their orders despite the inevitable consequences.

Follow these men and women as they set out to save themselves, and the world, from the great evils around them.

Crawling out of the hole

I have been in a writing slump, but I am climbing out of the hole.

My in-real-life, writing guilt partner and I have drafted an outline together. Here’s the plan:

One week we will draft a planned scene.  We will each write the scene on our own. Then we post it to a shared cloud folder where the other person can read it.

At our weekly meeting, we discuss the scene. Weaknesses and strengths, the parts we like and weren’t fond of, and how we see our characters developing differently and how that may change what ultimately happens in the novel.

The second week, we make revisions and edit our scene and make sure we are both at a spot to continue toward the next scene from the outline.

Then at our meeting we discuss the revisions (if they were changes for the better or worse) and the goals for the next scene.

We have both drafted scene one at this point. We’ve discussed. I have made my revisions. Tomorrow at our meeting I’ll confirm if my guilt partner made his revisions. Then we will be on to writing chapter 2.

I’ll be interested to see how far this goes. I’d love to see the whole novel happen, but life happens.