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

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

Ampersand Prize

Images borrowed from Hardie Grant Publishing site.

So this came up in my Twitter feed a few moments ago. Hardie Grant, the publisher behind Billy B Brown, Minecraft books, Winnie the Pooh and more. Are offering a chance for unpublished writers to make their debut.

The Ampersand Prize started in 2012 and is home of winners Erin Gough and Melissa Keil. And is for middle grade and young adult novels. ONE submission per writer.

Entries open THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 1st 2016

Entries close FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 16th 2016

So now is an excellent time to start or finish off your project.

Your submission must be in .doc or .pdf format.

You must include:

  • COVER SHEET (authors name, manuscript title, genre, word count, two sentence pitch of your story and a short author bio).
  • ONE PAGE SYNOPSIS- (key plot points, character development and tell them the ending).
  • FULL MANUSCRIPT (page numbers, font size 10 or 12 in a readable font, title in header or footer).

Submissions to be sent to: amersand@hardiegrant.com.au

For more information check out their website Ampersand Prize. Or you can find them on Facebook, Twitter.

Good luck.

Bec

I am in no way endorsed by Hardie Grant, paid to write up or advertise, or even asked to publish this competition. I saw it online and thought you all might be interested.

Writing Chapter One…

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Image sourced from Pinterest. Credit to the owners.

Writing Chapter One…

So many people say that they want to write but can’t. They don’t have the time, the imagination, the resources, skills, it’s too hard etc.

I want to say first of all, it’s not too hard. NEVER is writing too hard. What it is, is time consuming. And that in itself varies depending on your level of dedication.

Anyone can write. Anyone can draft a story, be it 500 words long or 500,000 words long. It’s not hard. Toddlers can verbally tell you a story. Something as inanimate as a tree can tell you a story, the markings in the bark, the damage to a branch. What you hear however, that is how it is told.

Writing comes in many forms, as does story telling. I have read some pretty terrible stories and some pretty great ones. But there are two things I have learned along the way:

  • Everyone gets better, rarely is your first story your best. My first fan fictions are shocking compared to my latest.
  • Everyone has their own style. This is key for me and it is the one thing I have learned during my time at TAFE studying professional writing. Each person has their own style, strengths, flaws. They all see and tell a scene differently. Some are so incredibly descriptive that you don’t know if you should keep reading or skip that section as you’ve read enough. Some barely have description and tend to leave it to the reader. Find yours and the stories will come. This isn’t just about genre it’s about the way you write as well.

You have the ability to write. Good or bad story telling is still story telling. But it won’t improve unless you start.

Time- that’s a factor many of us have issues with. I spent the first 12 months of my writing life, writing almost full time. Now it’s not as much, but if I ever get published I am happy to go back to that schedule. The more I wrote the better my mojo flowed.

Writing can take very little time, some authors only write a page or two a day, that’s about a book a year. That’s fantastic. Some write less. Some more. Can you get up half an hour earlier? Go to bed an hour later? Type it in over your lunch break?

I will be completely honest, if you want to write you’ll find the time. Writing is a passion and something that you need to want to do for yourself, for others, for your characters. It’s just a matter of putting words to paper.

So many people think you need something fancy to get your story out. You don’t. Pen and paper will do. Although publishers usually only accept typed copies now days. You can write your novel in anything from MS Word to Apple’s Pages, there is even software like Open Office that is free to download.

I tried using Scrivener but failed miserably. I found it too distracting and complicated. I like to be able to source what I need when I need and just have a basic word processing program. I have even added to my stories on my smart phone and tablet using the notes app and sent it through to myself and reformatted it to fit.

Skills, like the story telling ability, are something you learn along the way. Read other books, see how the novel is formatted, how they present it. Take note of punctuation and grammar. Even Google it. Everything is on the internet, you just have to search for it. There are even free lessons on grammar available. Most word processors come with a free spell check, it’s a great starting place, but never rely on it for everything.

When you discover something you were doing wrong or have trouble with it, write it down and stick it somewhere you can see. My wall is covered in grammar notes from when I first started. Including two brief sentences “Grasping for breath.” and “Remember to breathe.” I kept getting the two mixed up and it was just easier that way. Now I don’t need them but it was great to have that reminder. Same with the difference between then and than. While I knew them, in the midst of typing away or editing, I found I would have mental blanks and the reminder was helpful.

When it comes to imagination I will admit some people aren’t as imaginative as others. But that’s fine. It comes with practice. Start by trying to picture things in your head, your favourite TV episode, recall a conversation, think about what you would have said if they have of said the opposite. Then learn to question things. In primary school we were always taught research involved:

Who

What

When

Where

Why

How

Story telling has the same basis.

Who is involved in it?

What is happening?

When does it happen?

Where does it take place?

Why is it happening?

How does it happen?

Starting with these basic questions is a great way to begin to plan a novel if you need that extra help.

But most importantly you need to take the plunge and start. It doesn’t even have to be the beginning of your story. Write the ending first, the middle it doesn’t matter what order it comes together in as long as it does. If you’re worried about it all flowing nicely afterwards. Don’t. It’s why we edit.

What are your tips for starting your first story?

Bec

xx