Crossing the Lines – Sulari Gentill

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Photo Credit to Pantera Press

I want to start by saying that I am in no way paid, endorsed or was offered any kind of compensation in lieu of this review.

Secondly, I will freely admit. I am a lover of Sulari’s work. I have a review for The Hero Trilogy on my computer waiting to be posted, but between work, school and issues with WordPress it hasn’t happened. I am yet to read the Roland Sinclair series, but they are on my to read list.

From the moment, she posted the cover reveal for Crossing the Lines, I knew I wanted to read it. Honest to God, the stark white background with the black offsetting text had me. It was simple and beautiful. Then I ordered it. Well, tried. Turns out there was a miscommunication on how to spell her name. Which lead to her book not being found. But all’s well that ends well. I did get my book. A lovely black covered book so vastly different to the Australian release. HAHA turns out I got the US version. But that’s ok. I still loved it. And I still love looking at it. It’s so pretty and captivating. Yet still has that simplistic approach that dragged me into the Australian cover. And yet, I think the US cover speaks so much more about the soul of the soul and where it leads.

Now onto the book…
Holy crap on a cracker! I spent seven glorious hours reading. I couldn’t put it down. I couldn’t step away. I had to know what was happening. I may have forgotten to cook dinner. Ignored my husband who was trying to spend some time with me after a long few weeks of study, work and illness. I may have eaten half what I normally would, jumped up from the kitchen table and flew back into the living room to continue reading. Leaving my husband to parent the kids and organise them for bed. I told my 6 year old we weren’t reading The Magic Faraway Tree tonight, because I was busy and I can’t say I remember saying goodnight to anyone. The book had hold of me. And it wasn’t letting go.

Like all readers, like all writers, I can become obsessive. I can become so engrossed in my work that nothing else matters. But never do I become that obsessive I forget to parent. All I can say is ‘Sorry kids. My bad.” But let’s face it. I’m not sorry at all. The idea and basis of the story – a writer who is writing her character’s story, who in turn is writing his author’s story and their worlds become entangled – is different. As hubby said, “It sounds confusing.” And it does. But to read it, not so much. It is enthralling, fascinating and captivating.

I can’t compare it to anything else I’ve read. I think the closest I can come is Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. The sheer brilliance of story writing and execution places Crossing the Lines in a category all of its own. It sits as one of those stories that you never forget. One that you offer up to anyone, regardless of their genre preference as a work of art, that will leave you questioning why writing hadn’t been taken to this level before. One that stands out on its own and becomes a household name because nothing out there will ever be able to compete. It is and will always be a leader in psychological literature that will be spoken about among coming generations. And would be a worthwhile novel for literature studies within high school/college/university English classes. If only because it pushes the boundaries of the written word and how a story can be told.

As I began to read, I was surprised and a bit confused about the switching between perspectives. There wasn’t always a page break, chapter or anything to define it. But it paid off, the way in which Sulari developed the story, blurring the lines as it progressed rolling it all together so it basically became one was just amazing. I found myself relating closely Madeline. A panster writer who lets her characters tell the story. Someone who sits back and “watches” as the story plays out in her mind. Typing out what she sees. Never having any idea who did it or what will happen, until that vital moment when it’s revealed. The writer who is as much of a reader as they are a transcriber. One who gets heavily invested in their story.

I laughed, cos let’s be honest; I do that…and that… and that…and… I definitely don’t do that. Madeline’s relationship with her character reached levels that made me question if I had misunderstood the storyline. At times, I found myself wondering if Edward was real. Was there going to be some kind of twist at the end. Is she going to discover they are tied together somehow, both human, both seeking out the other? Did I get it wrong? Was Edward “real”? Was Maddie a character? No it couldn’t be, he’d just appeared in her bedroom. Holy crap, what was happening? Jesus Christ, it’s almost 9pm I needed more coffee. I was torn between needing sleep and having to know what the hell was happening. The characters won.

 

By the time I was finished I was questioning my own sanity. And the sanity of many, many writers I know. How involved is too involved? How many times have we blurred the lines to try and understand the character better? How many times have we come to realise we have written ourselves into our stories, even small fragments that end up shaping the book in some way. Letting out emotions unintentionally tell the story. We’re angry, they’re angry. We’re feeling trapped and betrayed, so are our characters. Three hours after I finished, all I could think of was wanting to message Sulari and claim she was an evil woman. Especially given the turn of events at home that evening. I can’t remember the last time I became so mentally obsessed after a book finished.

Oh no, wait… yes I do. I seriously need to know where the Herdsmen settled and what happened to them… We won’t discuss The Hero Trilogy x Outlander x Game of Thrones dreams I’ve had over that issue. FYI I gave myself some awesome answers. Unresolved issues seems to be a theme with this author. Only this time it wasn’t with the plot. It was with my own sanity.

I became immersed in the fast paced ending, the way in which the lines blurred and Maddie’s perception on reality escalated, that when I finished the book – which ended in a gaping, wide eyed “holy crap” gasp as I looked to hubby. He responded with something, but honestly I don’t know what it was – it was like coming down of some kind of exhilarating high. My mind spun, my heart race and I was still going well into the night. This sense of light headed giddiness that you face as you come back down to earth took me over. I felt like I had been absorbed for days, with little food and water. And yet, it was only seven hours. Even now. I can’t even begin to fathom just how much this book has suckered me in. I have so many people I want to run it over to and say, read this! Now! Here I’ll take you kids. I’ll go fill in a work. You sit here and read this! There won’t be any regrets.

Well… maybe not for my non-author friends. My writer friends may start with some personal questions about their own character involvement.

As a mother, I can safely say my kids can read it. Yes, there’s mention of sex. But it is implied, mentioned and the focus shifted elsewhere. It was refreshing to read a book what didn’t have detailed sex scenes that left me disappointed because I knew my teens would enjoy it but couldn’t read it as a result of half a page or more giving detailed descriptions on every stage of sexual intimacy. Sulari kept the focus on the story line, on the parts we needed to know. She didn’t allow for sex to be used as a filler which has just added to my love of the book. As it has now made this series suitable for pretty much everyone.

It is well worth the read. I cannot recommend this enough. I love books that leave you questioning things, society, life, rules, books that give more than just a story. Ones which enhance, embrace and encourage critical thinking and looking outside the square. And this book does that. I give it 5 quills/ stars. No hesitation, no debating. Straight up five.

You can read more about the author on her website Sulari Gentill. Find her on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. You can purchase her books through Pantera Press here in Australia, and Crossing the Lines can be purchased in the US through Poisoned Pen Press. It can also be purchased through your local bookstore, but you may have to order it in.

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Empire of Dust – Eleanor Herman

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Photo Credit to Harlequin TEEN

Background, using the blurb (curtsey of Harlequin TEEN website)

In Macedon, war rises like smoke, forbidden romance blooms and ancient magic tempered with rage threatens to turn an empire to dust 

After winning his first battle, Prince Alexander fights to become the ruler his kingdom demands—but the line between leader and tyrant blurs with each new threat.

Meanwhile, Hephaestion, cast aside by Alexander for killing the wrong man, must conceal the devastating secret of a divine prophecy from Katerina even as the two of them are thrust together on a dangerous mission to Egypt.

The warrior, Jacob, determined to forget his first love, vows to eradicate the ancient Blood Magics and believes that royal prisoner Cynane holds the key to Macedon’s undoing.

And in chains, the Persian princess Zofia still longs to find the Spirit Eaters, but first must grapple with the secrets of her handsome—and deadly—captor.

New York Times bestselling author Eleanor Herman entwines the real scandals of history with epic fantasy to reimagine the world’s most brilliant ruler, Alexander the Great, in the second book of the Blood of Gods and Royals series.


Review Rating: screen-shot-2016-10-25-at-11-19-14-am

Eleanor Herman – Empire of Dust (Book two of Blood of Gods and Royals Series)

Before I start, I will say I do have a review for the first book in this series but it is currently with my 11 year old son at school. So I will write that up later. I will once again review the book without giving away any of the plot.

Empire of the Dust, is a young adult novel, written by Eleanor Herman and published by Harlequin TEEN.

Empire of Dust, has been both an adventure in reading and trying to read. After finishing the first book in the series, Legacy of Kings, I rang my local bookstore to make sure Empire of Dust was in before the 40 minute round trip to go pick it up. Much to my disappointment they had sold out. So I had to order it and wait. I’m not a patient person. Not even a little bit. Having to wait the week almost did me in. So when I got the call an hour after returning from town, I was rather excited and disappointed all at once. So using the excuse that we haven’t had pizza for a while, my 13 year old and I did an about face, drove back into town to pick it up. Which lead to more issues because I couldn’t sit down to read it until the next day.

So I finally, after all that, got to enjoy the book. Looking over the cover it was every bit as beautiful as I expected. Harlequin TEEN had done an amazing job with the simplicity and intrigue of the design. My only niggle is that this book is physically larger than the first. Not in length but size. But that is something that is my own pet peeve with books that don’t sit together nice and evenly on the shelf, not the author or publishers issue.

Opening it, I was grateful to see another map inside. While I have a basic understanding of where these countries and empires are/were, my kids aren’t quite so geographically minded.

So I’m reading the book, getting drawn in with how Eleanor Herman has changed character perspectives with each chapter, added twists and turns, made me think one thing and done another. And I forgot I put dinner on…you will be surprised at home much a rich gravy can disguise burned food. My other option was just giving my kids cereal but that seemed like bad parenting given they had pizza the night before and whatever they could find the night before that. So on that note, do not cook and read…the consequences are not as charming as you think. And we won’t discuss the batch of cookies I just pulled from the oven in the midst of writing this review. Thankfully they are a darker brown not quite black.

I absolutely LOVE the change of perspective. As a writer and with other stories I’ve read, I feel that it is often forgotten and overlooked that the reader doesn’t know what the other characters are feeling, thinking, experiencing. Are they smiling on the outside but crying inside, do they really hate that person or is it a mask, why are they being so cruel? As a reader we wonder so many things, a face can tell a thousand lies in a matter of seconds. Insight to the mind, can tell a thousand truths, ones that the person themselves didn’t even know.

So to change perspective in this book was fantastic, not only did it show their true concerns, their worries, their goals, their motives. It also showed a deeper insight into what life would have been like back then. It gives readers a chance to experience the story on a whole new level. In a lot of ways, experience the story altogether. I am not sure the story itself would have worked quite as well if it was only written in a single perspective. While I personally, still would have been intrigued by it, I love anything from ancient times. My kids probably wouldn’t have been as inclined to read it.

My only gripe with the second book was that I was hoping to read more of Katarina’s story. Most of hers came from her travels with Hephaestion and his perspective.

The style of writing and word choice was fabulous, as a parent I can comfortably read this and know I am not going to have to explain to my kids what this word is and what that means. While I have no issues doing it, when my kids pick up a young adult book and are constantly asking questions it is a good sign the author didn’t think too well about their target audience. This is an area that Eleanor Herman didn’t struggle with at all. It’s clear, concise and fits nicely in that age bracket. It’s grown up enough that it makes a teen feel that are reading an adult novel, but young enough that the reader doesn’t feel they need a PhD to understand what is going on.

The characters themselves are fantastic, but all very similar. They each have issues, obstacles from their past and present lives they are trying to overcome or seek vengeance on. And while I understand the need for strong, determined characters in that period of time, it lacks the diversity that some readers may need.

For teens, these characters are relatable. They are their age, and while the circumstances around their lives are different, older, more “duty driven.” I feel a lot of teens and even adults can relate to it on another level, family expectations, broken relationships (both from friends and family), the desire to prove oneself not just to the world but also to themselves, the ability to dig deep in times of need. There will be times in which a person will read this and go, “that is so me.”

The end of the book got me, while I knew something was coming I wasn’t expecting that. It left me pacing slightly looking at the book going “You have got to be kidding me!” I had this expectation on what was going to happen and well…I was clearly wrong. That said, the ending does explain the beginning a whole lot more. So for those who read the first part and end up sobbing “No, don’t let it be true.” Keep reading! Worst still than all of that, I can’t just order book three.

On that note, I did have a look on Eleanor’s website for a release date, but I couldn’t find one, but there was something on her facebook page about June 2017! So fingers crossed. However, I did see a note that it will be made into WB television series, which is to be produced by Simon Helberg (Howard Wolowitz from The Big Bang Theory), so I will definitely be keeping my eye out for that. I am rather excited about it. I will be pre-ordering Reign of Serpents, as soon as it becomes available.

You can read more about Eleanor Herman, on her website, twitter page, facebook page, Instagram.

One of the best comparisons I can make for this series is that it is Game of Thrones for teens. The battle to become and rule the most powerful empire on Earth, set in our own rich history of civilisations.

I give the book 4 quills and I am eagerly awaiting the announcement of the next release.

Bec.

Please note: I am in no way endorsed, funded, asked or even offered a copy of this book in order to review it.

 

It’s all in my head…

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Image Credit The Write Practice

School holidays are happening here, which is great. I love having the kids home and given the recent weather and storm front that went through it was all good timing. Two days without power, no phone line for a week, loss of mobile and data coverage it was a bit of a techno nuts nightmare. Our small town got hit with a small tornado, a couple of streets from my house. It removed some roofs, ripped up some trees and fences and worst yet, flattened our netball club rooms. Thankfully no one was hurt and that the netball club was already in the process of building a new club room so providing the damage to that wasn’t too great it won’t play havoc on next year’s season.  My own home did extremely well, we had no damage.

Bar a cricket ball through the side of the house two days prior…thank you Mister 11, it was greatly appreciated. But still it’s not the worst thing that could have happened and we managed to put up a temporary patch the day before the rain hit.

All this has obviously affected my ability to write and edit. It has not, however, stopped my mind from going into overdrive and plotting more story lines. I have actually hit the point where I want to turn it off. Just for a little bit so I can focus on what I am currently doing or should be doing.

The other night resulted in me “putting out the call” to my military advisor to check a couple of things for a new idea I’m toying with, which then lead to him agreeing and adding stuff, which lead to me going OMG but what if… and poor hubby shaking his head.

Now I have to decide if I am going to continue to use it towards my original sci-fi/fantasy storyline or create two completely different story lines: one sci-fi/fantasy, one dystopian.

Decisions, decisions…

Then there is the matter of Compliant. My original dystopian novel. I did this stupid thing and trialled the first two chapters in a different perspective. I was bored. Anyway, it turned out so much better than the original and I rewrote the entire thing. Problem is, it’s already in submission. I am now debating on whether to email the publisher and beg for them to remove the original and replace it with the new one. I know it’s a long shot but you never know.

So while battling those two issues, I am drafting the main plot ideas for parts two and three of Binary, re-writing Battle for Terra, continuing with Battle for Terra (Book seven is under construction. I keep crying so it’s being delayed), plotting the new spin off (cos well I’m that much of a glutton for punishment! But it’s good, really good!), I have two new storylines for Compliant I am waiting to write, Rise of the Dragons has another two parts waiting to be written; along with the most epic battle scene. I have another part or more to write for Solomon’s Secret and another seven storylines I’m fiddling with all various genres.

My issue is focusing on one, I will start and then my mind jumps to another manuscript and suddenly I need to write that down, but then back to the other because I needed to finish that.

The mind of a writer is a busy thing. Worse when your characters all want a say, they all have a story to tell and they all demand attention. NaNoWriMo is coming up and last year I did over 135,000 words during the month of November. This year, I am away at my sons SAPSASA for a week so it will cut into my time and with how scattered my brain is, I am not sure I will even crack the 50,000. Here’s hoping it all settles and I can get my mojo on.

I have tried stepping back from the keyboard, but that let more thoughts in. I think I am going to need to force myself to pick one and finish it.

How do other writer’s focus? What do you do when your mind is busier than your fingers?

Bec

Draekora Cover Reveal Competition

Below you will find my entry for Lynette Noni and Pantera Press’s cover reveal for the #Draekora #TheChosenOne competition. A 300 word limit sucked 😦 So hopefully all the important parts are there, cos my mind just rambled. 

 DRAEKORA IS RELEASED APRIL 1ST 2017, and from memory will be available for preorder from Pantera Press’s website. I promise you, you won’t be dispointed. You may laugh, you may (ok you will) cry, but it won’t disappoint.

Cover Reveal Entry

Firstly, what can I say, the Medoran Chronicles would have to be one of my favourite YA book series. It was one of the first fantasy series I have read. I tried so hard to read Harry Potter and just kept failing at it. But this series…Akarnae had me hook, line and sinker by the first couple of chapters. The sarcasm, the wit, the adventure, the strong characters who are relatable and are so laid back they just roll with it, just screams enjoyable.

Better still, not only did my 12 year old daughter love it, so did my 11 year old son. Both of which who never get along. This series has helped them find a common ground they can discuss and nag me together over when the next one is being released!

Raelia left us with a cliff hanger, and blubbering like an idiot. I swear to God, there had better be some surprise I’m not dead and don’t worry I’m back and my old witty, charming self again or I will lose it. I have a sneaking suspicion there is more to Kaiden than has been shown and I am really hoping he gets explored more (PLEASE, do not break my heart. PLEASE). I did try to reread the last couple of chapters for this review, but just couldn’t do it as I got too upset. Still hoping someone punished Lynette for that J.

As for the cover, I’m thinking blue will be the dominating colour. Probably closer to a sky blue. But regardless, if it follows the style of the previous two it will still be captivating even if it’s in leopard print (may not quite so much, but still…).

Bec
Xx

Who said that…

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Image Credit to Oprah website.

I got feedback for Battle for Terra, that suggested changing perspective. Which was fine, in fact the feedback fit with my own thoughts, but I kept the entire series as first person because one of my Beta readers thought it was better as it allowed her to be in the book.

This lead to a rewrite of the first book. And while I’m waiting a few days to read through it again, I thought that I might go through another one of my manuscripts, Compliant. The book was first person and I thought I’d give the first chapter a go at third person (Yes, this is how I spend my bored, can’t think time). Well, it kinda worked really well and I am half way through rewriting it. It also lead to me mapping out the central plots for books two and three. And it put the book I am working on aside for a bit longer.

I have written about different perspectives before (over here). When I first started writing, everything was first person. I have since discovered the romance of words that can come with third person. The way that it can flow and ebb through a story can almost be like the words and the scene it’s setting dancing around a page. It can really change the way something is written.

What’s your favourite perspective? Have you ever rewritten something, changing the point of view? Did it improve it?

Bec
xx

 

 

 

Story of my life… Here’s a writing comp…

I’ve been sick with the flu for the last month, and I kid you not I am done! Seriously how long can it last? Fingers crossed it’s on the way out.

Anyway, I haven’t been up for writing much. I can barely handle looking at a screen for more than a couple of hours without a headache. As a result, I haven’t been able to finish a story. They all start great and then it’s all down hill from there. So I took to editing my old manuscripts.

Does anyone else ever read over their work and go…”Seriously, Word, what’s up with that?” Why is there double words like the the, or words missing that you could have sworn were there last time? I am beginning to feel like I’m either going crazy or Microsoft Word has a mind all of its own.

Anyhow…

The Ampersand Prize with Hardie Grant opens Thursday, you can find it HERE on their website or through Twitter.  Or through the post I posted earlier about it.  It opens September 1st, closes September 16th.

I am thinking of submitting one of two manuscripts. I just can’t decide which one. Fingers crossed a couple more coffees will help with that or I may spent the next two weeks contemplating and miss out. Given my current mind set, that is most likely.

I did consider submitting a story to a publishing house but panicked and reconsidered, because I didn’t know if it was the right one. I even considered offering them access to my cloud drive and telling them to enjoy themselves. But I get the feeling it may not lead to a publishing contract. One can dream. With 10 completed manuscripts and eight started something might interest someone. Or not.

If you are looking at submitting to the Ampersand Prize, do it. There’s no harm in it and it’s a great way to get your name out there, have someone read your work and who knows you may be lucky enough to have it published. My fingers are crossed for you.

And now for a detailed description of my day…

Image Credits to The Funny Beaver 

Bec
xx

REVIEW: The Book about Nothing, Nothing at all by Yew Ish

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Photo credit to Amazon.

I was asked to review a short book by the author Yew Ish, titled “The Book about Nothing, Nothing at all.” I will admit it’s a short review and I’m sorry but that, but given the content it was hard to write up a detailed one, without giving away the basis of the book.

I have to say I did enjoy it. I opened it to have a look at the length, style, heaviness of reading after three hours worth of academic reading and study. It was a breath of fresh air and I will admit I found it amusing, light hearted and it definitely earned a smile.

It’s not something that will take hours to read, it is a short story, five minutes tops. So that’s great.

I did find it had a very Dr Seuss style feel to the way it read, which I think added to it.

So I don’t want to give too much away, which given its length and content is hard. So I won’t go into too much detail. But it’s one of those items that you would buy someone as a humorous style gift, think fake lotto ticket or exercise block. It’s entirely comical and enjoyable. But not something you would buy if you wanted a serious, in depth read.

You can purchase it at Amazon and Goodreads. And you can find out more on Facebook and via a youtube trailer.

I can’t give you a rating on it, as well there’s no real story line, character development, plot, etc. But I did just enjoy the simplicity of the book, and it was just so nice to have something so light hearted and easy to read.

Bec

I was given a copy in exchange for a review. But no other endorsement was made.