Wednesday, 30 March 2016

BOOK RELEASE


Asena Blessed
Book Two in The Chronicles of Altaica
By Tracy M. Joyce

Out May 1, 2016.

I'm really pleased to announce that the next book in my series, The Chronicles of Altaica will be out in May.  Stay tuned for some awesome pre-release Giveaways.



At the whims of Gods and Men...

Isaura has emerged from the spirit realm forever altered. No longer a pariah, she embraces the future offered in Altaica, but learns that her survival has come at a price. Her transformation is the perfect weapon for Elena to use against her.

The mysterious Asena and The Lady vie for Isaura. Caught between two ancient powers, Isaura must try to make her own path.

Master spy Vikram launches a counterinsurgency against Ratilal and Faros, weaving innocents into the plot to bring him down. Ratilal prepares to wage war against Karan and Baldev. Desperately, he seeks clandestine means to wreak revenge on them in the very heart of their territory, with devastating results.

With enemies nearing, Isaura must learn to master her powers. Aid arrives from the most unlikely source—one who knows no rules and respects no one.

Having run from one war she will not run from another…

The battle is joined.




Friday, 25 March 2016

Book Review


The Promise Yposchesi 

(SEVEN PARIS MYSTERIES, #1)

by Peggy Kopman-Owens

(Pub: 2015 (First pub 2012) )



We all judge books by their covers, but in this case I’m advising you not to do that!  The cover design is one my few criticisms of this book. While this is merely my personal opinion – I really don’t think it does the book justice at all.

The Promise is very well written and easy to read.  The story is told largely in the first person from the point of view of Jamie, an author, under pressure to produce his next novel by a deadline and for it to be the miracle that will resurrect his failing career.  It is not merely Jamie’s career that is in near tatters, but his life. It is clear from the outset that Jamie is running – from everything, his deadline, his failures, his loss over the disappearance of Ben.

The plot is slowly revealed as the reader get snippets of Jamie’s ongoing struggles to sort out his life - often in a near stream of consciousness approach mixed with excerpts from the book he is trying to write about his friend Ben, on whom he is way too dependent.  Jamie describes it as a co-dependency, yet it is clear that Ben is not dependent upon him in any meaningful way.  As Ben’s activities are revealed piecemeal through the novel we come to realise that Ben is in fact far more than a journalist and when he goes missing the mystery around him deepens.

The mystery in the story is not really just about Ben’s whereabouts or whether he is still alive; it is about why Jamie is running and how his life has become such a disaster.  This is where the theme of broken promises enters - promises to parents, agents and more pertinently between Jamie and Adela (his love interest). These along with Ben’s broken promises and abandonment of his friends are all elements which dominate Jamie’s mind and result in and compound his own personal failure to fulfil his potential.  Jamie is the instrument of his own destruction and spends a great deal of time blaming others for his failings.  The ultimate resolution of the novel will be whether he turns his life around, stops living in the past, and whether he finds Ben. 

Early on in the novel, the writing seemed a little too much of a travelogue for me, and less mystery, but it was none the less very enjoyable. (At this point I did wonder if the story was losing its way a little, but in hindsight that was not the case – though maybe this section could have been tightened up a bit.)  The random nature of his thoughts and his need to keep moving across Europe both reflected Jamie’s state of mind and desperation very well.  Kopman-Owens’ bio states that she has lived and worked in thirtyfive countries and it seems she really does understand the cultural nuances of the countries she focusses on and the descriptions / writing is both detailed and flawlessly fluid as she writes Jamie’s travels; the result is that the whole thing seems real and is easy to visualize. This in itself made this an enjoyable read. (Small spoiler - I would have liked one final scene between Jaime and Ben and to have heard what was said.)

There is a lot going on in this novel and to intersperse Jamie’s stream of consciousness with bits of his writing and flashbacks to his past, and the occasional switch of point of view to Adela is no easy task in terms of writing and Kopman-Owens handles this with aplomb.  I had absolutely no trouble following what was going on and she kept my interest all the way through. She has constructed a complex character with Jamie, one you don’t always like (once or twice I wanted to knock some sense into him) and ultimately gives us great insight into his psyche.

Part of the way through, I thought of giving this a 3.5 star rating, yet I found myself surprised at how much I had enjoyed this and in analysing how all the diverse elements of Kopman-Owens’ plot had come together really very well  - I've given it  four stars.






Reviews Published Challenge Participant Professional Reader

Monday, 21 March 2016

Book Review


The Dagger of Dresnia

by Satima Flavell

(Pub: Satalyte Publishing, 2014)



**I was provided with a ARC copy of this in exchange for an honest review**



The Dagger of Dresnia, Book 1 in The Talisman’s series, is suitable for teens through to adults. Its story is reminiscent in many ways of a fairy tale, though blended with what I would call classic epic fantasy; there are elves, dwarves, humans, demons, battles, magic and intrigue and revenge.

The arch villain is a demon with whom the main character, Queen Ellyria, makes a deal in order to save her family. Of course, you’ll remember plenty of fairy tales where characters make such foolish deals and that the price for it, which this demon says he will claim at a later date, will be high – people’s lives. There’s the whole premise and this doesn’t make the story at all unusual. As a reader you’re in familiar territory and it’s clear where the story will go, but this book is well worth reading.

This is not a book which moves at ripping pace, yet I was surprised at how much I truly enjoyed it. The reason for this is Flavell’s writing. The art of this story lies in her characters and her choice to focus the novel on an older heroine and the supporting cast of women. Flavell’s heroine, whose prowess lies in magic rather than physical fighting, is middle aged – that makes this unusual. 

The world Flavell paints, particularly the domestic world, is as intricate as her characters. The detail in the writing allows the reader to visualise this world and how these people live. You know their hopes, dreams, and worries; the result is that you actually start to care about them very much. Particularly the main character, who cares greatly for the fate of those around her, as if they were all her children. There is a deeply maternal aspect to the story – and this is portrayed as a source of strength for Queen Ellyria in particular. While we often see heroines in fantasy who are kick-arse warriors – and there’s nothing wrong with that – I found it refreshing that Flavell’s heroine is not one in this sense. 

Each of the women is struggling and fighting for their families in whatever way they can. They are also fighting for their positions within society and for freedom from some of its constraints in regards to their perceived roles. Even among the affluent women, Flavell clearly illustrates their lack of real power in a male dominated world and their cleverness in obtaining their goals within this social system.

I was lucky enough to receive an ARC copy of the sequel, The Cloak of Challiver (review coming soon), and read that immediately after The Dagger of Dresnia and enjoyed it as much.

This series is classic epic fantasy - intrigue, elves, dwarves, sorcery and battles, blended with fairy tale. Yet The Talisman series is more than this. It is a tale of women fighting for their families, their homes and their places in society. This is an intricate world, and Flavell's writing weaves you into the heart of it.


 







Reviews Published Challenge Participant Professional Reader

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Brain to Books Cyber Con 2016













WooHOO!  The Brain To Books Cyber Con 
is coming soon!



This is the second year for the Brain to Books Cyber Con (#B2BCyCon) and it looks to be huge. So what is it? In the words of Angela B. Chrysler, organiser extraordinaire:


"Last year 200+ authors and readers came together for this three day event. Modeled after Comi-Con, the Brain to Books Cyber Convention in online, free, and connects readers to authors. Authors basically put on a fantastic show for the readers. And yes, we want readers there! This year marks our second annual Cyber Convention. It is held here on Goodreads. This year we have expanded it to Facebook."

There will be specialist blog tours, interviews, live coverage hosted by Joe Compton, Lipsink Battles, discussion panels, cover wars, protagonist / antagonist tournaments and GIVEAWAYS - lots of them!


All the authors are busy getting their booths at the fairgrounds covered in bunting, streamers, balloons and looking spiffy for you - the readers. 



Author Shane Wilson has taken the time to tell us what it's like in the lead up to B2BCyCon 2016.


A Debut Author on His Debut at the Brain 2 Books Cyber Con?

I will never forget my experiences with writing and book conventions. They have been some of the most valuable experiences of my life. As readers, we load up and drive to conventions to meet our favorite writers. We stand in long lines to get them to sign our copy of their book. There is something beautiful and communal in that act. We have often spent hours poring over every detail of each page. If you’re like me, you read with a pen—underlining the beautiful passages and writing single-word exclamations in the margins. “Wow!”

I was a participant in one of these beautiful and communal acts on the campus of NC State University in Raleigh two years ago. I sat in a large room and listened to one of my favorite authors talk about his work. That man was Junot Diaz, and I stood in a long line for a chance to shake his hand and get his signature. The book he signed for me was This is How You Lose Her, and it was the book I was reading when I started writing my debut novel A Year Since the Rain. I told him how his book inspired me, and I’m sure it was nothing he hadn’t heard seven million times, but it felt good to give him that appreciation that I felt he deserved. His creation had inspired. That’s big, man.
Appreciation is funny that way. It often means much more for the person showing the appreciation than it does the person being appreciated.

But now I get to slip around to the other side of the pen. The Brain 2 Books Cyber Con will be my first convention as a published author, and I am incredibly pumped for it. Not only do I get to meet tons of readers and other writers I’ve never met before, I don’t have to change out of my pajamas to do it. In the business world, they would call that a “win-win,” I think. I honestly don’t know, though. My business knowledge is limited to The Office re-runs on Netflix, which is probably not the best MBA program out there.

When I first heard about the B2B Cyber Con from a fellow author-friend (shout to Ed Ireland), I wasn’t sure what to expect. Is it possible to capture the same magic of a brick-and-mortar book/writing convention online? But my curiosity was peaked, so I investigated the Convention groups on Goodreads and Facebook, and I read about what they are offering to readers. I have to say, this is an impressive undertaking by our fearless leader, Angela B. Chrysler, especially considering this is the convention’s second incarnation.

In short, the convention is expecting hundreds of authors to come through during the convention (April 8-10). All of the events are held online in the Goodreads Fairgrounds—where authors have virtual booths set up with their books and other materials. Some are even sponsoring giveaways. In addition to Goodreads, B2B Cybercon will be hosting hour-long author takeovers in their Facebook event all weekend. In fact, I’ll be there from 7-8 PM on April 8! If you want in on the fun—and you do—just click over to the links provided and join up.

So I’ve been asked, as a first time attendee, to speculate on the proceedings. I don’t know how helpful I’ll be on that front, but I can say that there are some very cool things happening Backstage at the convention’s fair grounds. There are plans in the works for live panel discussions with authors on a variety of topics from genre discussions (YA for Adults) and world building to writing about abuse. I’m personally very excited for these panels as the panels are often the most rewarding aspect of physical conventions.

Readers that come through can expect to find their favorite authors (and new favorites…ahem) answering questions at their virtual “booths” as well as hosting panels and behind-the-scenes video broadcasts. There are also rumors of a Character Tournament (Heroes vs. Villains). I’ve never witnessed a character tournament, but I can only assume it includes a fight to the death in some way. To the victor goes the spoils, amiright?


I think the Brain 2 Books Cyber Con is going to be a TON of fun, and I hope to meet all of you there! Look for me and my book, A Year Since the Rain. I’ll see you in April.


Shane's Website    Twitter    Facebook     Instagram   



Interested? What now?


CC Rogers has designed a wonderfully 
easy map so you can search the fairgrounds by genre/ author.



Friday, 4 March 2016

AUTHOR INTERVIEW
&

Book Feature

Author: Patricia Leslie

Book: A Single Light

Patricia Leslie is an Australian author of urban fantasy from Sydney.

Please tell us a little about yourself?
I was born in the hippy days of the mid 1960s to parents who were not hippies so I've had a very normal upbringing in the suburbs. I managed to survive all of that and grew up to be the quiet and reserved one who spent a lot of time observing everything and everyone around them. Add an over abundance of day dreaming ability and a fundamental desire to spend a good part of everyday reading and being creative, and it's probably no surprise that I turned to writing fantasy. Eventually day dreamers need to express themselves in the real world.


Your next novel is A Single Light. Can you tell us a little about it?
A Single Light is an Australian urban fantasy/horror story set in the southern suburbs of Sydney (the Sutherland Shire). The bush can be a really scary place: tall trees, deep gullies, thick scratchy scrub, lots of mysterious things slithering and scurrying out of sight. It's noisy when you want it to be quiet and quiet when you'd much rather a little noise. It's easy to get lost in and easy to imagine all sorts of horrible things going wrong. Like the deep dark woods of Europe and America folk lore, the bush plays on half forgotten memories and stories, and warnings from over cautious parents not to stray from the path. That's what I was after with this story: a mix of instinctive fear with modern, very Australian characters.
What we have is a battle between “supernatural” beings, the friendly Alffür (in league with a group of humans) and hungry Bledray. An eon of fragile balance of power is now tilting in favour of the Bledray who have the unpleasant habit of feasting on the Rydri (us). The Bledray are gathering on the edge of a little town surrounded by the Royal National Park; battle is about to commence.


"The battle scenes were awesome, 
I flew right through them, devouring every page...
That ending. I didn't expect that at all...like at all. I definitely stared at my Kindle in complete shock for a solid minute. 
Lenissa, Goodreads


What prompted the idea for this story?
A poem, actually. It's called "Poem to Be Read at 3 A.M" by Donald Justice

Excepting the diner
On the outskirts
The town of Ladora
At 3 a.m.
Was dark but
For my headlights
And up in
One second-story room
A single light
Where someone
Was sick or
Perhaps reading
As I drove past
At seventy
Not thinking
This poem
Is for whoever
Had the light on

It was the stark imagery of being out at night, travelling alone, and connecting with a single light that shows the traveller is not alone, not completely disconnected, and perhaps even is expected somewhere. Similar to the leaving of a light on for the person who is out late so that they can see their way to home and safety, and the lighthouse on some rocky headland signalling danger to passing ships. This is what started the story in my head. Then, of course, I needed the reasoning behind why a traveller might connect with the light.

Tell us about your main character?
There are two main characters; Rick Hendry and Lael. The story started with Lael, a solitary traveller whose purpose is to watch and protect. She is one of the Alffür Hunters born out of the last holocaust where all life, including that on Earth, came close to extinction. The Alffür and the fledgling Rydri (human) races barely survive. The remnant Alffür take on the ongoing protection of the Rydri seeing in them hope for the future. Rick becomes Lael’s connection with humanity as she realises that future is once again under threat.

How much and what type of research did you do for A Single Light?
Mostly only location research with some general reading into creation stories and mythology from various earth bound cultures. By earthbound I mean cultures that are intrinsically connected to the earth. This is reflected in the excerpts from the Journal of Malaik. The idea of Miaheyyu comes from a book, Seven Arrows by Hyemeyohsts Storm. However, the cultural aspects of the Alffür is a mix of Native American, Celtic, and Arthurian legend, and, to be honest, anything else I’ve read about that’s stuck in my head. The concept of the circle and the tree can be found in many mythologies and is something that I feel very connected to.

Your previous novel The Ouroboros Key was urban fantasy too – Is this your favourite writing genre? Did you read a lot of this growing up?   
I've always read a lot of high fantasy and historical fiction. I've found these meld quite well to produce modern urban fantasy. Also I get a lot of my ideas from history that has been hidden or ignored or just not that well known.

With The Ouroboros Key it was the hidden aspects of early christianity and the many ties it had with myth, legend and other religions. This was in the days before Da Vinci Code so it was not well known at all.

A Single Light makes reference to urban and folk lore in a subtle way through our fears rather than to any specific point of history.

I also enjoy literary fiction and crime novels, and read a lot of non fiction as well.

Why do you like writing in this genre?
I like history and the human story. I think that involves magic whether we want to believe it or not, which is why fantasy, horror and ghost stories remain popular. We all know what to do when we come face to face with a vampire, right? And even though we know they don't (might not) exist, we’ll reach for some protection if we hear unexplained “bumps in the night”.

Besides that, I really enjoy the scope for creativity I find in writing urban fantasy; in starting with something that is modern and everyday and working it into something a little more mysterious or a person who is ordinary, just like us, who becomes involved in the true “weirdness” of life that lays just below the surface of reality.

Bonus question: What do you do when you’re not writing?
When I'm not writing or generally earning a living, I enjoy exploring heritage buildings especially anything vaguely abandoned looking. You can catch up on some of my urban exploration at the Abandoned Australia Facebook and Instagram pages. I also enjoy spending a lot of time with my family and going out to dinner, concerts, walks, drives and travelling.

And reading. I’m currently making my way through Ann Cleeves’ long list of novels, Isobel Blackthorn’s, the Drago Tree, and The Last Witchfinder by James K Morrow. And I’m patiently waiting for Camilla Lackberg’s next novel as well as Book Two of Altaica by Tracy M Joyce…..(Ha ha, I think Patricia is giving me a hint ;-)  )

Click below for a Preview of A Single Light.



Availability
Ask for A Single Light at your favourite bookstore or library, and encourage them to order it in. Otherwise, A Single Light is available online from Odyssey Books, Amazon, Kobo, and Book Depository or look out for Odyssey Books at SupaNova and Book Expo Australia. Like my Facebook page for updates of where I'll be doing a little personal selling as well. I have a tendency to occasionally show up at weekend markets around the Sutherland Shire.


 















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