Book blurb (back of book):
Greek myth and forbidden romance meet in this exciting new urban fantasy.
Brooding, leather jacket-wearing Nyx Fortuna looks like a 20-something, and has for centuries now. As the son of the forgotten fourth Fate, Lady Fortuna, he has been hunted his entire life by the three Sisters of Fate that murdered his mother.
Fed up and out for revenge, Nyx comes to Minneapolis following a tip that his aunts have set up a business there. His goal to bring down his mother's killers and retrieve the thread of fate that has trapped him in the body of a twenty year old unable to age or die.
But when a chance meeting with the mysterious, dangerous and very mortal Elizabeth Abernathy throws off his plans, he must reconcile his humanity and his immortality.
Book Level (age range):
This is supposed to be an adult urban fantasy, but it reads like a young adult book with slightly older (by age only) characters. There are a few bad words in it, but nothing that hasn't been printed in a YA novel before, and nothing about this novel or it's characters screams adult.
I loved the premise of this book. I thought the overall story being told was intriguing. However, the main character (who is supposed to be hundreds of years old) is a complete moron, with a very stunted emotional capacity, and the need to repeat himself. I truly enjoyed the story, but I had to beat my head against my desk in order to continue reading through the mess that was this book. The story is good. The mechanics behind the writing, not so much.
I had a few major problems while reading this book.
1) The most jarring thing in books, for me, is to have a story jump from one thing to another with zero transition. I call it a hard transition. It's hard because one moment a character is in a store, talking to a friend and then in the next paragraph, without any explanation, that same character is across town in the middle of a date. Oh, and it may or may not be a week later.
This book is chalk full of hard transitions. It made me put the book down more than a few times in frustration. In fact, It took me almost a month to finish this book, when I usually burn through books in a day or two at most. I will give the author this much though, I kept picking it back up, because despite the issues with how the book was written, there was a good story buried deep inside.
2) Inconsistencies. It's one thing for an author to forget something they said half a book ago, or even a book or two ago in a series. It happens. It's never pretty when it does, but in Strange Fates, it happens a lot. Sometimes, on the same page.
About 75% of the way through the book (Chapter 32) Nyx is telling his friend Talbot that he plans on diving down in Lake Harriet, because he feels called to do so, and he thinks he will find answers there. Talbot grabs a wet suit and does a magic spell over it telling Nyx, "It'll keep you warm enough, but I can't guarantee it will keep the naiads away."
On the same page, just a few lines down as they continue talking through Nyx's plan, Nyx says, "There's something there, I can feel it..." Talbot says, "Like what? Besides some scary Naiads?" Nyx returns with, "I don't know, but I'm going to find out." At which point, Talbot states, "You'll freeze to death."
But literally, only a few lines ago, Talbot has taken care of that with the spelled wet suit. PS - the dive never happens at this point in the story. Once again, there's a build-up for this dive to happen and it doesn't. It's almost like the author has a good case of Attention Deficit Disorder, and forgets where she was going with the story and ends up somewhere else instead. Usually, another hard transition occurs and takes us to an entirely new scene with no explanation of what the hell happened.
The same inconsistencies are present with Nyx throughout every aspect of this book. He comes to a conclusion about one of the bad guys in the story and then abruptly forgets he ever had that thought. Two chapters later, he's come to that conclusion again (seemingly, for the first time). Then, of course, it's all but forgotten, until three chapters later when he comes to the same conclusion all over again, but it's written as if it's the first time he's thought it - again! The same can be said for his love interest. It's very daunting to read, and then read it again, and again... This is one of those literary moments where you want to reach in and shake the shit out of the character, because they couldn't possibly be so stupid.
3) The author really wanted the reader to believe the main character was falling in love with a girl. Only, she forgot to give us reason to believe it. The girl, Elizabeth, never came across as anything more than untrustworthy, at best. She never had a redeeming quality that a person could fall in love with, and she actually gave the main character more reasons to hate her and not trust her than to love her. Another issue with the inconsistencies in the story, was with this love arc. At some point in the story this girl even gives Nyx a libido potion so he'll have sex with her, despite the fact that he hasn't wanted to cross that line. The two characters go off to talk about it, and why she did it, but suddenly the conversation drops away and is forgotten for another hard transition. The next you hear of it is this Nyx kid going, oh well, I don't think she meant anything bad by it. UGGHHH No, because date rape is cool, as long as you like the person! *rolls eyes*
This is far from the realm of believable character attributes, for a character who has supposedly been around for hundreds of years. A character who supposedly reads people well, and understands their nature. This is a kid, who is supposedly smart enough to survive after being hunted down for YEARS, DECADES, CENTURIES even... and he's this stupid? This naive? I'm not buying it, and you won't either.
I'm not entirely sure the book was worth reading. While there is a really intriguing story there, and a lovely new take on mythology in the modern day, there are far too many problems with this book to make it an enjoyable read. For the adult audience, that the book is supposedly written for, you will be pulling your hair out! There is nothing adult about this book. If you enjoy young adult books, this might be more up your ally, but you will still have to be able to read past all the inconsistencies, the hard transitions, and the constant repetition. I won't bother with the rest of the series (it's supposed to be a trilogy, from what I've read), and I don't recommend it to other readers of adult urban fantasy without the warnings I've already given. It's a shame, because there really was a good story idea in there somewhere.
| || |
"A hard rock mix tape of minimum wage magic, dream girls, and that one jackass with his sword in your ribs."
It's 1986. But maybe not the same one you remember.
Quinn Sullivan, fresh from his first year of college, returns for yet another summer to the North Shore of Minnesota, working for minimum wage at an off-season ski resort.
A resort for wizards. Wizards like Quinn.
Like most "mages" his age, Quinn's got no car, no money, isn't keeping up on his spells, and wants desperately to get the girl. And not just any girl—Emma, a promising alchemist (and lover of rock music) who happens to be Quinn's best friend.
And entirely oblivious to his affections.
Don't worry. Quinn has a plan. Because if Emma wants to study alchemy abroad, she needs one of the rarest metaphysikal artifacts in existence: a solistone. And it costs a whole lot more than a summer's worth of paychecks. But if Quinn can just get his hands on one—even if he has to make it himself—maybe he'll get that chance to show Emma he's more than "just a buddy."
But where does a mage barely out of high school even begin?
Chock full of strange creatures, mystifying spells, small town mystery, and even a tour bus of old ladies, Quinn's quest is a quirky, summertime adventure with a fantasy twist that will make him wish “getting the girl” was his biggest problem.
I have a horrible time writing reviews without giving things away. So, I want to say this, I LOVED the story! When this book comes out this summer, you need to do yourself a favor and grab a copy, then thank me later. :)
The number one rule of thumb in writing is to "write what you know." It was very clear in just reading the first couple chapters that the author put a lot of himself, and his own world into this story, because his descriptions of the environment, the essence of the time, all of it helps to pull you into the story and hold you captive. This is the kind of writing that is often times missing from the paranormal genre. Everyone wants to go bigger, badder, sexier with their novels. Mikel brought it all back down to Earth, stripped away the flash and fanciness, and told the story with authentic characters (people you might actually know), amazing scenery, and a whole lot of heart. Of course, there's a whole lot of paranormal too! ;)
Okay, I've literally had to use the backspace key far too many times to avoid saying things I shouldn't about the story. Instead of ruining things for you, I am going to introduce you to the author of this fabulous book, and let you get a quick peek inside that brain of his.
This is Mikel Andrews!
Q: How long have you been working on Coming of Mage? and what inspired the story?
A: I started Mage about two years ago. It actually started as an entry for a short story contest, focusing on lampshading tropes of fantasy. Quests, mentors, sacred objects and all that. I abandoned the contest gimmicks but the original ideas stayed. And then I thought, Why don't I tackle angsty 80s flicks while I'm at it?
Inspiration definitely came from where I was living. I had just moved to the North Shore of Minnesota and just instantly fell in love. Suddenly I wanted every book I ever wrote to be set there. So peaceful and serene--an unusual destination for a city kid like myself. In a way, I was living a fish-out-of-water story and I wanted to tell that, but--everything's better with wizards, right?Trust me when I say, his love of the place shows in his writing. I've never had a reason to want to go to the North Shore until I read this book! It looked absolutely stunning as described in those pages.)
Q: The story is set in the 1980's, is there any particular reason you chose that time period?
A: Everyone asks this! Apparently 'duh' isn't a suitable answer, so here's the real lowdown: I love the 80s. I was born in them and grew up in them but I wish I could've really enjoyed them, you know? I dig all that retro stuff--cassette tapes, gaudy headphones, Ghostbusters--so maybe writing about the 80s is just my way of going back in time, a la Marty McFly.
Additionally, I have this firm belief that the best Young Adult adventures take place in the 80s. Whether it was the lack of technology or the adventuresome spirit, kids in the 80s really took matters into their own hands. If The Goonies happened today, Mikey would've just called somebody on his cell phone and Mouth would've Instagrammed the pirate ship. And don't get me started on Data...(He just preached to the choir a little bit! The Goonies is one of my all time Favorites.)
Q: I had to laugh when I read that Quinn's prized possession was an "Heroic Autobot Bumblebee" transformer, because I know of your love for all things Transformers from your Facebook/Twitter posts. Clearly, this is a part of yourself you put in the book, how much of yourself do you feel you actually put into the character of Quinn, or the other characters, for that matter?
A: Yeah, really, disclaimer: if you follow me on Twitter you will find out more than you ever wanted to know about Transformers.
Quinn and I are pretty much the same person. I don't have his powers (obviously) but I definitely have all his hang-ups. Likes, dislikes, Star Wars obsession--it's all there. Quinn lost his mother at the same age I lost mine--that was definitely a very real world emotion that I wanted to interject in this fantasy setting. You have all this power--all this life--but some things you can't change; and Quinn has to deal with that as much as I do. And, actually, the Transformer is a nod to the last Christmas present my mom gave me before she passed away: a little yellow Transformer which is still the pride of my collection.
Q: While we're talking a little about Transformers, what are your thoughts on the 4th movie installment coming out?
A: The only bad Transformer movie is the one that doesn't get made. I say bring it on. The storylines are a little weak in the movies but, at the end of the day, it's still cars turning into robots up on the screen. Can't you really go wrong with that?
(Nope, can't argue with you there.)
Q: If you were a character in your story, what abilities would you have? Would you be a Mage? have an affinity for Alchemy?
A: You know, Alchemy is so awesome and I had a lot of fun thinking up spells for Quinn to learn, but I really got into Tristan's character--the magus. A magus is like the middle of the spectrum between a mage and an alchemist. They have a little more power than an alchemist, but not quite a mage, and they can only manipulate their element (which in Tristan's case is plants.) I think being a magus would be the safest bet for me--I need limits!
Q: If you could be given the choice to live your current reality or within the world you created for Coming of Mage, which would you chose and why?
A: Uh, have magic powers in the 80s? Gee, let me think. In all seriousness, though, I think I have a pretty good thing going on in this reality. I might like to visit Quinn, but his world is bound to have some hardships. It's not dystopian or anything, but I can imagine some real big problems arising in a world where the prejudice stems from what kind of magic you use.
Q: Coming of Mage will be available this summer, what do you have planned after its release (future books, etc)?
A: You know, I have some fun events in the pipeline--that's the best part about writing a YA fantasy, right? I get to do the really out-there creative stuff. I bet John Grisham doesn't get to have "Magic Rock Painting" stands at his book signings. As far as the books go, if Mage is a hit--fingers crossed!--I definitely have some sequels planned. Mage is essentially Quinn's memoir of an unforgettable summer, but that's really a microcosm of the world he lives in. The sequels will deal with the road ahead of Quinn, not his Memory Lane. After all, nobody escapes a summer like his without consequences.
(Well, now, I am super excited for the future!)
Q: What type of books do you like to read, and which authors inspire you and your writing? How do they inspire you (imagination, technique, etc)?
A: 'You are what you eat' is also really true with books. Not that I eat books, that'd be weird, but I think you get where I'm going with this. I'm constantly scouring the shelves for really inventive YA and Middle Grade books. I think there's something really unique in a genre that you can use to teach life lessons but also have these over-the-top settings. Too cool. And the more paranormal the better.
Consistently, though, I find myself reading Matthew Stover and Joe Meno. They're definitely not YA, but they each have a really unique voice in storytelling. I read Dean Koontz because the flow and pacing of his novels borders on miraculous. Jeffery Deaver I study for plot twists. And--this may shock you--I read a crazy amount of Star Wars novels.
(Star Wars you say? No way, really? hahaha)
Q: What is the most exciting thing that has happened to you as a result of your writing career, thus far?
A: The easy answer of course is to say the "actually being published" part. When I was in college, I knew I would be published. Arrogantly so. But after I graduated and accepted my position as 'Head Ice Cream Scooper' at a popular ice cream franchise, I started to have my doubts. It's nice to feel believed in again.
But here and now in the thick of it, the most exciting thing is thinking that people in the world that I don't even know are going to be reading my book. As a writer, everyone you show your work to in the early years is someone close to you in some way--so how do you know if you're really doing a good job? It's hard to talk pacing with your grandma when she's thought of you as a superhero since the day you were born.
Having said that, I am super excited for my grandma to read my book. She never doubted.
Q: What is the most important lesson you have learned during the writing process?
A: Humility. Not every idea you have is gold. Story and character has to come first. Use that Cut/Paste function; just because you don't use it now, doesn't mean you can't use it somewhere else later.
Q: If you weren't a writer, and you could make a living at any job you wanted, what would your dream job be?
A: Oh, man, the dream job question. Luckily, I've prepared for this. Again, I hope your sitting down for this revelation: I would design Transformers. How I relax is drawing Transformers and making sure all the parts have somewhere to go. Form follows function. Like when a kid draws me a Transformers picture, I have to fight the urge to be, like, Yeah, right, where did that arm come from? I get pretty into it.
I also met a guy on Twitter who was a 'Brand Guardian' for Transformers at Hasbro. Made sure the integrity of the Transformers was being carried throughout the new shows, toys, etc. That would be a cool job.
And if Paranormal Investigation was more lucrative, I'd be all over it.
Q: Just for Fun - You're being taken to a desert island where you must learn to survive on your own for a certain length of time before you can come back to civilization. Aside from the clothes you are wearing, you are given the option to chose 3 items to bring with you to either aid in your survival or offer sentimental comfort. What would you bring?
A: Uh, you know I moved to extreme northern Minnesota, right? That's pretty much how it went down! But I suppose I would bring a samurai sword, my little yellow Transformer, and a copy of James and the Giant Peach.I want to thank Mikel Andrews for taking the time to answer a few questions. I hope everyone enjoyed getting to know him a little better. His book, Coming of Mage, is set for release in June 2013 by Northstar Press.For more info about Mikel and his book check out these links:Coming of Mage on Facebook
Mikel on Facebook
Mikel on Twitter
| || |
Reality TV host Ben Harper has a problem: he owes the king of Faerie a favor. So now he has to track down the three parts of a Viking arm-ring, and return them to their place in time. This takes him through the wolf-haunted forests of Viking Age Wessex, the rowdy back streets of Shakespeare's London, and a derelict Georgian country house. Partnered with caustic, shape-changing Raven and guided by a slightly wacky goblin diary, Ben must rediscover his own gifts while facing his doubts and the queen of Faerie's minions, who will do anything to stop him.
The Dragon Ring, the first in the Harper Errant series, is a time travelling mythic adventure that takes you to Old England, and leaves you enchanted.
*Maggie is an amazing storyteller. I had previously read her pirating love story, **Molly September, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I knew going into this read that it would be vastly different from her other book, but she did not disappoint.
I love delving into a story that I can learn something from. It's clear that Maggie is a history buff, and it shows in the pages of her novels. The historical references intermingled with the fantasy flowed so well together it was hard to tell where they should part ways and become separate entities. That's not an easy feat to accomplish, yet she did it seamlessly. If that weren't enough to snatch you up into the pages, the characters that she created were astounding as well.
The characters are their own stories. They've been so carefully crafted, that they become key figures in your own life as you read the pages. Turning each page of this book was like coming home to dinner with family. You grow to know the characters, and get so involved with the cards they are dealt that you can't simply let go and stop reading.
That being said, I am looking forward to reading the rest of this series (I'm only sorry I haven't been able to get to them sooner). Maggie is a very talented author, and The Dragon Ring has solidified her as one of my favorite Fantasy authors.
Book Two: King's Raven
The heart of Faerie is the heart of the world.
While Oberon, immortal king of Faerie, lies under a terrible curse, the artistic spirit in the world is slipping away. The King's Raven would do anything to lift the spell, if only it hadn’t also stripped him of his magic and flung him into an iron-bound past with a damaged memory.
The only thing that can save them both is sealed inside a riddle wrapped in a puzzle that spans the centuries. Even with the help of an Elizabethan magus, a Victorian spinster, and a mad reporter, can mortal musician Ben Harper find Raven in time to solve the riddle, stop a witch, and restore the creative heart of the world?
First, he’ll have to find the key.
King’s Raven, second book of the Harper Errant series, sends Ben on a journey from the castles and taverns of Old England to the British Museum on Christmas Eve, and from the Crystal Palace of Victorian London to wintry Dartmoor to a magickal conclusion.
*Click on Maggie's name to read an interview I conducted with her previously.
**Click on the book title, Molly September, to read the review for that particular book.
We've all heard the saying, "once in a blue moon," and we know it's said to refer to something that doesn't happen that often.
Well, this Friday, Aug. 31, 2012, we shall look up into the night sky and see that rare orb in all it's (not really) blue splendor. Since blue moons are such an uncommon occurrence, and this one is gracing us with its presence on a Friday night, we are given a fantastic reason to head out and party! Maybe, even drink a few Blue Moons (there better be some specials, people!)
For those of you poor bastards who probably won't make it out to celebrate tomorrow night, I leave you with my top 5 "Blue Moon Night" reading picks...
# 5 - Kitty Norville Novels
I was perusing books in a Barnes & Noble one day a couple years ago, looking for something new and interesting to read, when a bookish guy walks up and starts a conversation with me. I tell him about reading all of the Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton, and finishing up Kim Harrison's Hallows series, and how I was looking for something else...
"Have you tried the Kitty Norville books?"
"Kitty who?" I ask.
"Kitty Norville," he goes looking on the shelves behind us and pops a book out, placing it in my hands without hesitation. "Here, you'll thank me, it's an awesome series with a great female lead!"
To that bookish guy in the B&N store: I thank you! Also, I hope your wife wasn't too pissed that we were so chatty... she didn't look very happy! ;)
So, there you have, #5 on my list!
| |You can read my review of Destiny Binds here! Also, I'm in love with her book covers! | |
# 4 Timber Wolves Trilogy
Back in Dec. 2011, I did a review of the first book in this YA paranormal series by Tammy Blackwell. I absolutely loved it! It is well written, with amazing characters, and it definitely left me wanting more.
The third book in the trilogy is due to release in Sept. 2012. So, grab the other two now, and get ready for some great reading!
# 3 The Wolves of Mercy Falls
This is an amazing, young adult, love story - with a twist! I promise, you will fall in love with the characters and the story line.I also reviewed Shiver for Moonlit Reviews back in January of this year, and you can read that review here!For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf—her wolf—is a chilling presence she can’t seem to live without. Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human… until the cold makes him shift back again.
Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It’s her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human—or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.
| || |
# 2 The Mercy Thompson Series
From its strong female lead, to the rest of its stunningly detailed cast of characters, this series will leave you wagging your tail for more! Trust me, if you haven't already, pick it up & see for yourself!
# 1 - The Big Bad Wolf Series
Heather Killough-Walden is a mastermind!
Once you start reading these steamy werewolf tales, you will undoubtedly find yourself out in search of a hot, biker-dude with a sexy growl! Good thing it's a blue moon night - might up your chances!
And when you're done with the werewolves, you can move onto Heather's spectacular vampire spin-off, The Kings Series!
I do hope you enjoy these picks, and in the meantime, happy Blue Mooning! ;)
| || |
I also have a recently released, YA, werewolf novelette in the
The Voices Within,
so check that out as well!
Superbly written, laugh-a-minute book!
Goats Eat Cans
"Somewhat Comical Stories of a Life Mostly Wasted"
Note from author, Steven Novak:
The book that would eventually become, "Goats Eat Cans," began as one of the most popular blogs on a little site called, Myspace nearly seven years ago.
Does anyone out there even remember, Myspace?
Of course you don’t.
So, what's this book about, you ask?
It's not so much what the book is about, as what will happen when you start reading the pages... laughter, and lots of it! Mr. Novak has a stellar wit about him that shines through clearly as you turn the pages. I opened this book up on my Kindle while I was waiting for my boyfriend to get out of the shower one day, and I started reading... and laughing... out loud... no, really loudly! And by the time my boyfriend was finished scrubbing himself down, I'm sure he thought I was freaking crazy. I had tears in my eyes from laughing so hard. THAT is what this book is about! It's about laughing at the misfortune of others (poor Mr. Novak) and knowing it's okay. ;)
Seriously... here's the book blurb, and when you're done reading that, I've included links to where you can purchase the book. If you have any sense of humor at all, this book is 100% for you! So, go grab a copy!!! Oh, and if you're an Amazon Prime member, you can read this book for free for a limited time!
BLURB: Remember the weird kid with the greasy hair and the odd smell you went to school with? You know, the one who never talked to anyone? That creepy little jerk who sat alone at lunch? The oddball who never took a shower in gym class? The one you imagined might one day go on a shooting spree? Believe it or not, that kid grew up. He grew up, he got married, he never shot a single person, he wrote a book, and he even started taking showers after his workouts – most of the time. Goats Eat Cans is his story. Follow along as Steven Novak recounts the sometimes hilarious, sometimes hilariously painful, and sometimes painfully hilarious moments that have made his life so wonderfully frustrating. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you might even vomit. No matter what, you won't be able to stop reading. Goats Eat Cans features 55 stories, 55 illustrations, 99 luftballons and enough nonsense to keep you chuckling and giggling for days on end – or hours – or at the very least a few minutes.
John is a long, tall Texan (very, very tall) born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas. Educated at Grinnell College in the great state of Iowa, he considers Iowa his second home state, and keeps on good terms with both by eating barbecue AND corn. When he's not watching way too much sci-fi/fantasy TV or reading similar books (or working, obviously), you can usually find him reading the news or playing video games. John currently lives in Austin, Texas, where he works as a lawyer and author.
I'd like to welcome John back to Moonlit Dreams and thank him for taking the time to stop by and answer a few questions for me. I first met John via Twitter when he was slinging his latest fantasy legal thriller Atticus for the Undead. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, reviewed it HERE, and thought and interview with the author would just be icing on the already yummy cake. So here we go...
CHRISTINE: Everyone has their own story. How did you stumble into a writing career?
JOHN: Well, I'd been making serial short fiction and running RPGs for years. And then I noticed that for several weeks in a row, the episode plots on one of my favorite shows were very similar to things I'd just done in the serial I was working on at the time. So I thought, "Huh, maybe I can play in the big leagues."
As everyone knows, the economy is awful, so I figured I had nothing to lose.
CHRISTINE: What would you say inspires you the most when you are developing a new story line?
JOHN: I once heard another writer say that, when you're a writer, everything is inspiration. That's basically how I feel -- the most random things will inspire me. Like the book I released last month, Atticus for the Undead, came to me when I was reading Seanan McGuire's novel Feed, which is about the politics of a post-zombie-apocalypse world. And then I thought, "Next thing you know, they'll be putting one on trial or something… Hey! That's it!"
CHRISTINE: What are the best and worst parts of establishing your own writing career?
JOHN: The best part has been connecting with other writers. If you want to meet a group of people who will restore your faith in humanity really quickly, talk to some writers -- they really are an extraordinarily friendly, welcoming, helpful group of people. For example, when I was writing Atticus, I reached out to a couple of published (or soon-to-be-published) authors and asked if they'd read the book and say something on their websites if they liked it.
One of them, Angela Scott (author of soon-to-be-released Wanted: Dead or Undead, by the way) not only took time out of her own writing projects to read the book, but also wrote me a very long, detailed e-mail with her comments on the book (most of them were gushing, which was a huge boost to my ego), and then she did a blog post about it on release day. Pretty extraordinary stuff, and she's far from the only one.
I've even been able to talk to some of my fiction-making heroes -- for instance, Jane Espenson, a screenwriter who currently writes for Once Upon A Time. When she answered one of my Tweets for the first time, I don't think I came off of Cloud Nine for a week.
The hardest part has been building my platform. I didn't go into this with any illusions that it would be easy, but even so, I've been struck by how hard it is to get people to notice that you exist. Some days I'll have sixty or even a hundred visitors on the blog, but not sell a single book. I guess it's a good thing I have a healthy ego, or at least a hard head.
CHRISTINE: Some people outline their books, some don't ... tell us about your writing process - how do you get from idea to completed novel?
JOHN: I definitely don't -- or I do, but only in a very general way. One of my biggest flaws as a writer is that I tend to get ahead of myself -- I get caught up in whatever idea I'm excited about that day, and am in such a rush to take it to the exciting conclusion that I leave the audience behind. A lot of times, I end up leaving things like believability behind, too. The problem with detailed outlines is that it gets hard to write point six if you get to point five and realize that there's no way the main character would behave the way you thought he would when you wrote the outline.
So I come up with the broad strokes at the outset, and then write chapter by chapter. After each chapter, I have my trusty team of beta readers review what I've written and get detailed feedback on whether I'm hitting the desired emotional notes, whether the characters feel believable, stuff like that. This also makes the editing process a lot easier because, by the time I get to the end, I know I'm not going to need to re-write whole scenes -- I've already re-written them, often multiple times.
CHRISTINE: Were you inspired to write by a particular author. If so, who and why?
JOHN: I was inspired to write by a screenwriter, actually -- Joss Whedon. I think his work has taught me more about the craft of fiction than any other single writer. If I have even a tenth of his talent at the end of my writing career, I'll be very happy.
CHRISTINE: What is your educational background?
JOHN: I was a Bachelor's in political science, followed by a law degree. I loved fantasy the whole time. So now I write fantasy books about lawyers. Go figure.
CHRISTINE: When did you start writing and what inspired the attempt?
JOHN: I started writing as soon as I got my first computer, way back in middle school.
CHRISTINE: Why did you choose to write in the fantasy genre?
JOHN: Because I think that with fantasy you have more opportunity than maybe any other genre to love the story you're telling, because literally anything is possible. You can mix gritty, serious themes with wacky, outlandish touches and make the reader believe it. I mean, really (SPOILER ALERT), what other genre would let you write about a capital murder trial and have one of the characters turn someone into a frog in the middle of the book?
CHRISTINE: Do you feel that people don't take you as seriously because you write fantasy?
JOHN: People who read fantasy take me seriously. That's what I care about.
CHRISTINE: What is your secret to finding that perfect blend between fantasy and reality?
JOHN: I'll quote Joss Whedon. "The two things that matter the most to me in the work that I do: Emotional resonance and rocket launchers." That sums it up. The fangs and the claws and the magic talismans and the steampunk pirate ships are all window dressing. If the beating heart of your story isn't something that resonates with your readers' real lives and feelings and experiences, then your story probably isn't going to get very far.
CHRISTINE: On that note, let us all take a moment to bow down to Joss Whedon before continuing on. :)
CHRISTINE: Alright, now that we've paid our respects... What is plot development like for you? Do you start out with the ending and work your way back in order to figure out how to string the plot twists along or do you have some other method to your madness?
JOHN: I work out my characters first. My plot is always centered around developing the characters, so I use the backstories I've created for them and the psychological needs I've identified for them to create the plot twists.
CHRISTINE: Tell us about Atticus for the Undead. How long did it take to write? What was your inspiration for the book?
JOHN: Atticus grew out of the fact that I'd been wanting to write a legal thriller for a long time. I'm a lawyer in the day job, so it seemed like the logical thing for me to do. But I didn't have an idea that inspired me until I was reading Feed. After that, the jump from the campaign trail to the courtroom was easy to make.
Once I had the idea, I threw the whole book together in about 3 months time. There was very little research involved, believe it or not -- I've kept the most random bits of legal trivia in my head from law school and my practice experience so far, so I just found ways to throw them in.
CHRISTINE: Do you have plans to release more books in the near future? If so, tell us about what you have in the works.
JOHN: The book I can talk about is The Void, Book 2 in The Weaver Saga. (Incidentally, as I write this, book 1 is free here with coupon code BY83E.) It picks up about three months after Weaver left off, and basically deals with the psychological consequences of the first book while also advancing the overall plot. The three main characters -- Alex, Moira, and James -- all lost something in the events of Weaver. The Void is about them dealing with that while also fending off the zombie apocalypse. Pesky thing, that.
There are some other things in the works, but they're all classified at the moment.
CHRISTINE: If you could live within the pages of your book, would you? Why or why not?
JOHN: Oh, probably not. I'm a pretty mean God -- I wouldn't want my fate dictated by me.
CHRISTINE: Are you a dog or a cat person?
JOHN: Both! My father is a life-long dog lover and he passed the trait on to me. Cats are the big tragedy of my life -- I'm crazy about them, but I'm also horribly allergic to them. I think they're my worst allergy.
If I could get one wish from a genie, it would be to be able to spend long periods around cats and still be able to breathe.
CHRISTINE: One final question, and this is probably the most important... Do you suffer from delusions of grandeur - I mean - are you secretly planning on taking over the world (like the rest of the writers out there)?
JOHN: Now, the question is, would I tell you if I was?CHRISTINE: John just happens to be the first person to ever answer that question here who knows how to keep a secret! ;) Now we know who the real contender for world domination is!
FOLLOW JOHN ONLINE!
Google+: As himself
Scout Donovan is a girl who believes in rules, logic, and her lifelong love of Charlie Hagan. Alex Cole believes in destiny, magic, and Scout. When Alex introduces Scout to the world of Shifters, men who change into wolves or coyotes during the full moon and Seers, women who can see your most private thoughts and emotions with a mere touch, the knowledge changes everything and everyone Scout thought she knew.
Destiny Binds was a fantastic YA Paranormal read. I have been made aware that it is to be the first in a trilogy, which is good because I was left with a lot of questions in the end.
While I was left with questions, it should be known that this book could still be a stand alone. It has a definitive end to it. I absolutely loved the story and the reality of it (I know paranormal and reality don't go hand in hand - bear with me)as it's rare to find an author willing to stray from the happily ever afters. Perhaps there is a happily ever after waiting at the end of the trilogy, just not at the end of this book.
That being said, it was worth reading every single page! The characters were endearing, and the plot intriguing. I can't wait to have my questions answered, and to find out how things will eventually turn out. I find myself torn about what I am hoping for with the future of this series. That in itself is the hallmark of a really good story. The author pulled me in and now I don't want to let go!
Meghan Chase has a secret destiny; one she could never have imagined.
Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan's life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school or at home.
When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she's known is about to change.
But she could never have guessed the truth - that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she'll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil no faery creature dare face; and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.
The series, overall, gets a 5-Star review.
The Iron King, for me, started out as a cross between The Labyrinth and The Never Ending Story. I honestly wasn't sure I would like it because of that. I am VERY happy that I stuck with it though as it quickly grew into a story all it's own. Kagawa did a fantastic job describing the settings, and the story came together in my mind as if I were watching it play out on the big screen. Frame after frame came alive in fluid motion as the characters of the book struggled with their quest and learned more about themselves and one another.
The Iron Fey series captivated me and upon reading the first book in the series I went ahead and bought the rest, because I knew I wouldn't be able to stop reading until the end.
Meghan Chase used to be an ordinary girl...until she discovered that she is really a faery princess. After escaping from the clutches of the deadly Iron fey, Meghan must follow through on her promise to return to the equally dangerous Winter Court with her forbidden love, Prince Ash. But first, Meghan has one request: that they visit Puck--Meghan's best friend and servant of her father, King Oberon--who was gravely injured defending Meghan from the Iron Fey.
Yet Meghan and Ash's detour does not go unnoticed. They have caught the attention of an ancient, powerful hunter--a foe that even Ash may not be able to defeat....
An eBook exclusive story from Julie Kagawa's Iron Fey series.
I know there are readers out there who still shun e-books, but you will absolutely hate yourself for not going to check out the e-book exclusive content that is Winter's Passage. It takes place in the time between The Iron King and The Iron Daughter. I'm warning you here, you don't want to miss out on these little tidbits.
Half Summer faery princess, half human, Meghan has never fit in anywhere. Deserted by the Winter prince she thought loved her, she is prisoner to the Winter faery queen. As war looms between Summer and Winter, Meghan knows that the real danger comes from the Iron fey—ironbound faeries that only she and her absent prince have seen. But no one believes her.Worse, Meghan's own fey powers have been cut off. She's stuck in Faery with only her wits for help. Trusting anyone would be foolish. Trusting a seeming traitor could be deadly. But even as she grows a backbone of iron, Meghan can't help but hear the whispers of longing in her all-too-human heart.
I was immediately drawn back into the series and left breathless with each chapter. The imagination that went into the creation of this world, the characters inhabiting it, and the amazing adventures that were had was astounding. Once I finished this book I immediately dipped right into the next, because I had to know... how it would all end.
My name is Meghan Chase.I thought it was over. That my time with the fey, the impossible choices I had to make, the sacrifices of those I loved, was behind me. But a storm is approaching, an army of Iron fey that will drag me back, kicking and screaming. Drag me away from the banished prince who's sworn to stand by my side. Drag me into the core of conflict so powerful, I'm not sure anyone can survive it.
This time, there will be no turning back.
This series was supposed to end here, with the Iron Queen...
I LOVED this book, but I am so thankful that the author/publisher chose to continue on.
Let me just say, I had to grab some tissue for this installment of The Iron Fey series, so be prepared. You have been warned. I was seriously heartbroken by the end, and no, I won't spoil it and tell you why. Kagawa proved she could elicit a great deal of emotion with her writing. She already had me laughing, sitting back and worrying for the characters, but with The Iron Queen, she had my heart breaking for them. I love a book that can take me on that kind of journey and leave me so invested in the characters, that I simply can't help but feel their plight.
I couldn't put this book down once I started, nor could I stop there when I hit the last page. I honestly don't think I got a whole lot of sleep after this book because I just dove right into Summer's Crossing from here, hoping to find out... well, read the damn books and you'll see what I was hoping to find out! ;)
Now Ash has granted one favor too many and someone's come to collect, forcing the prince to a place he cannot go without Puck's help—into the heart of the Summer Court. And Puck faces the ultimate choice—betray Ash and possibly win the girl they both love, or help his former friend turned bitter enemy pull off a deception that no true faery prankster could possibly resist.
An ebook exclusive novella from Julie Kagawa's Iron Fey series.A Midsummer's Nightmare? Robin Goodfellow. Puck. Summer Court prankster, King Oberon's right hand, bane of many a faery queen's existence—and secret friend to Prince Ash of the Winter Court. Until one girl's death came between them, and another girl stole both their hearts.
Summer's Crossing was another e-book exclusive, and a must read. While the mini-books aren't necessary for the overall story, you really are missing out if you choose not to read them.
Ash, former prince of the Winter Court, gave up everything. His title, his home, even his vow of loyalty. All for a girl… and all for nothing.
Unless he can earn a soul.
To cold, emotionless faery prince Ash, love was a weakness for mortals and fools. His own love had died a horrible death, killing any gentler feelings the Winter prince might have had. Or so he thought.
Then Meghan Chase—a half human, half fey slip of a girl— smashed through his barricades, binding him to her irrevocably with his oath to be her knight. And when all of Faery nearly fell to the Iron fey, she severed their bond to save his life. Meghan is now the Iron Queen, ruler of a realm where no Winter or Summer fey can survive.
With the (unwelcome) company of his archrival, Summer Court prankster Puck, and the infuriating cait sith Grimalkin, Ash begins a journey he is bound to see through to its end— a quest to find a way to honor his solemn vow to stand by Meghan’s side.
To survive in the Iron realm, Ash must have a soul and a mortal body. But the tests he must face to earn these things are impossible. At least, no one has ever passed to tell the tale.
And then Ash learns something that changes everything. A truth that turns reality upside down, challenges his darkest beliefs and shows him that, sometimes, it takes more than courage to make the ultimate sacrifice.
The absolutely perfect ending to this Faerie Tale! I was so enamored with the characters, the setting (a character in its own right), and the story line. You will not be disappointed when you get to the end of this book, this series. If my recommendation doesn't send you out to grab copies of this fantastic fantasy adventure, maybe the trailer for the final installment will help convince you... Enjoy!
The Iron Fey Series is published by Harlequin Teen. Be sure to check out some of the other fabulous books that they have available! I've previously reviewed Spellbound by Cara Lynn Shultz and I will be reviewing The Soul Screamers series very soon.
You can also find out more about Julie Kagawa and her books on her website, or check out The Iron Fey website.
When fifteen-year-old Jacob Lau is pulled from the crumpled remains of his mother's car, no one can explain why he was driving or why the police can't find his mother's body. A beautiful and mysterious neighbor offers to use her unique abilities to help him find his mom. But in exchange she requires Jacob to train as a Soulkeeper, a protector of human souls. He agrees to her demands, desperate for any clue to the mystery of his mother's disappearance. But soon Jacob finds himself trapped in a web of half-truths, and questions her motives for helping him.
This is definitely a series I will be able to get into. The Soulkeepers had a great cast, rich settings, and a very interesting story line. To top it off, it was also very well written. I think the crowning achievement for this book was the fact that it was told from a male perspective. It was a refreshing change of pace from all the other YA Paranormals out there who focus on the girls instead.
I highly recommend The Soulkeepers to YA Paranormal fans. You won't be disappointed.
Don't miss WEAVING DESTINY, Book 2 in The Soulkeepers Series, available now!
Find other awesome young adult novels at DarkSide Publishing, www.darksidepublishing.com, from authors Karly Kirkpatrick, Megg Jensen, and Angela Carlie.
Zoë Merrick leads a less than ordinary life. Late one evening, she crosses paths with a man who brutally attacks her. In one shattering instant--a stranger with a knife alters the course of her future.
Unconscious and covered in blood, Zoë is found by a man named Adam. She undergoes a physical transformation, and strange new abilities begin to surface. Without hesitation, he takes her under his wing and an unexpected friendship forms between the two. Unable to return to her former life, Zoë feels lost.
Serendipity leads her to Justus. He is handsome, arrogant, and not entirely human. Justus gives her the truth she has longed to hear--that she is a Mage. He offers her answers and protection, as a young Mage cannot survive on their own. Forced to trust him, she must come to terms with accepting her new life and identity.
When her immortal freedom is threatened by the one man who has a right to claim her, Zoë learns the price of freedom...and the value of loyalty.
Holy shit, was this a good book!
I was riveted to this book, compelled to continue reading, and disappointed that it had to ever come to an end. There were a few typos that I only mention because unfortunately they were in important places. The type said "should" when it was supposed to say "shouldn't". EASILY overlooked once you realize the mistake, because this book was otherwise FLAWLESS! Spectacular plot, sexy, dangerous, and incredible characters made for extremely good reading. Sterling is what adult fantasy is all about. You get that harder edge, the reality of being a grown up where everything doesn't always work out the way you want it to, and the hot guy you drool over isn't necessarily the one that goes home with the girl. I had forgotten my love for the more adult versions of paranormal, because I hadn't come across anything new that I liked in a while.
Sterling is definitely unique in its telling, beautifully written, mesmerizing, and will leave you with an insatiable appetite for more. Dannika Dark is an amazing story teller. I can't wait to get my hands on the next book in The Mageri series.For more info on the series and/or Dannika Dark, check out her website!