Book Reviews

Write Naked ~ Because Education Should Be Fun

I will admit, I don’t pick up a lot of craft books. Mainly because my reading time is limited and when I’m not reading for pleasure, I’m Beta reading or editing. I have started more craft books than I can name and fully intend to return to them at some point. It’s rare I pick one up and read it cover-to-cover. Even rarer still to find myself giggling through it. Most are, in my humble opinion, a bit dry. Often redundant. Some even read like they were written by a motivational speaker who has gotten into the schnapps.

This book…WritingNakedCovermanaged to be one of the rare ones, and I highly recommend it whether you’re a newbie looking for guidance, a veteran needing some reminders, or anywhere in between. Also, if you have a class to teach, use this book. Your students will thank you. Warning — bring your sense of humor. One of the things I love about Josh Langston’s writing is his sharp wit, and he manages to keep it handy even in the throws of instruction. I mean, come on, people, he titled his book Write Naked (Oh, but Google is going to have a blast with that one!).

As the back cover states: WritingNakedBlurb

Chapters are short and concise, and include exercises at the end — for your writerly brain, not your physical body. I have already dog-eared the chapter on commas. It seems I have an issue with those. Possibly semi-colons as well. Probably because a semi-colon is basically a hyped up comma. Right?

Anywho… I digress. If you enjoy the lighter side of learning, then this book is for you. If you need to brush up on some of the finer points of penning prose, this book is for you. If you just want to be entertained whilst expanding your horizons, yeah, you guessed it. Go. Now. Enjoy.

You can grab your very own copy of Write Naked by going here (or, apparently, by raiding Mr. Langston’s trunk or attending one of his classes — and I can only imagine the fun that would be!). 

I leave you with a bit about the author (and my favorite picture of him):

Josh in stocksJosh Langston writes books which amuse, anger, enlighten and entertain. He regularly mines history for background material that’s little known but reliably fascinating. His plots are complex, interconnected and layered with humor and suspense; his characters are rarely predictable, and even his bad guys tend to be both engaging and diabolical.

A graduate of Georgia State University with a degree in journalism, Josh’s writing tastes quickly shifted away from reportage. His fiction has been published in a variety of magazines and anthologies, and he currently has two short story collections in the Amazon top 20 for genre fiction.

Thrice nominated for Georgia Author of the Year by the Georgia Writer’s Association, Josh has branched out more recently into contemporary thrillers and currently has seven such titles on the market along with an historical fantasy trilogy set in the 1st century BC, plus a handful of short story collections.

The 12,000-year-old Whisper, his latest novel, is set in two worlds separated by a dozen millennia.

Published by Janda Books, Whisper will debut on October 1, 2015.

 

chapflourish

Connect with me on Facebook Goodreads Twitter and Pinterest Read excerpts and buy copies of my works on the Published Works page. e-book & paperback copies also available on Amazon and other on-line book retailers.

 

 

 


Getting Personal For Fictional Friday

Happy Fictional Friday! This week I’m going to dedicate this space to the talented Kourtney Heintz because Monday I will be meeting her in person. This will make the third on-line author pal that I get to promote from a collection of pixels and data bits, to living flesh and blood. Kourtney will be coming to Wisconsin to promote her book Six Train to Wisconsin. SixTrain

In honor thereof I am reposting my review.

I met Kourtney through the awesome vastness of the on-line writer community and jumped at the chance for an ARC of her book because, well, Wisconsin native here. You throw my state in the title of a book and I’m going to read it just to make sure you haven’t painted us beer-swilling Cheeseheads in a bad light. Which, never fear, is not the case.

The Six Train to Wisconsin (a 2012 semifinalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Competition) is an emotionally charged book written with such skill that at times I became just as overwhelmed as the characters and had to come up for air. Oliver and Kai, husband and wife, have saved one another. They are both broken souls, both the other one’s salvation. But how far will you go to save the person you love? And how far will they allow you to go before that love is shattered?

For Kai, life has always been difficult. A telepath who loses control and finds it hard to block out the overwhelming emotional trauma of everyone within a half-mile radius, she is caught between wanting to help those in need, and the devastation that comes with the failure to do so. For Oliver, Kai is his life. He can’t bear to see her broken and giving up, so he uproots her from their Manhattan life, and drags her unwillingly to Butternut, Wisconsin.

There’s only one problem with Butternut. All of Oliver’s demons reside there.

Suspense and intrigue follow when Oliver and Kai’s life begins to unravel even as Oliver is desperately fighting to hold the pieces together. Kidnapping, mystery, and a twist I never saw coming left me breathless by the end. The characters are well-drawn, and the writing tight and gripping. An honest tale of love, suspense, and sacrifice. I won’t call it an easy read. I will call it a must read. And, just so I don’t leave you thinking it’s all somber intensity, there are some pretty humorous interactions between characters, and let’s not forget the turkey. If that one doesn’t make you at least giggle, then there may be no hope for you.

"Some books you read. Some books you enjoy. But some books just swallow you up, heart and soul." #Books #Quote

 

Want to be included in Fictional Friday? It’s simple:

  • If you’re an author with an upcoming release, drop me a line via e-mail.
  • If you’re a reader who has just read something outstanding and want to share, likewise.
  • Book signings, release events, quotes, tidbits, industry/indie news etc. etc.? Pass them along.
  • As this is my blog, I reserve the right to not use anything I don’t want to use.

 

chapflourish

Connect with me on Facebook     Goodreads     Twitter and now Pinterest Read excerpts and buy copies of my works on the Published Works page. e-book & paperback copies also available on Amazon   Smashwords   Barnes & Noble and other on-line book retailers.


Fictional Friday Continues

If you missed the inaugural post for

Fictional Friday

you’ll need to pop into the Way Back Machine and look at last week’s installment. A quick recap of what it is, along with submission guidelines, is below…way below… This week is short and sweet as I’m racing to get everything ready to head out of town for the weekend.

I did finally get a review written for Veil of the Deserters ~ Bloodsounder’s Arc Book Two by Jeff Salyards which you can find here and also on Amazon.

Onto some books you might be interested in:

  • Eventide ~ Book Two of the Meratis Trilogy by Krista Walsh Genre: Fantasy   This is next up on my TBR list. It’s available at Amazon among other places.
  • Devin O’Branagan‘s books Red Hot Property (a blend of humor, romance & suspense) and Show Dog Sings the Blues (a delightful tale of mistaken identity when a pampered show dog is finds herself working on a ranch) are now available as audio books.
  • Liberty or Death: The Soldier Chroniclesby David Cook described as “an authentic historical story set against the brutal backdrop of Ireland’s Great Rebellion, the first novella in The Soldier Chronicles series.” I got to read an early draft of this one. The finished copy is on my kindle toward the top of my TBR list.

Other things of interest, although that’s not a personal endorsement:

 

These writing quotes come from the website of 7-time author and writing teacher, Laura Davis. Visit her site to learn more about her writing classes and retreats or to join her free online Writer's Journey Roadmap community. www.lauradavis.net

 

 

What’s it all about, you ask? Ahh…fiction. And Friday. Reading. Writing. No arithmetic. Whereas I’m mostly all about fantasy, urban fantasy, and a sprinkling of paranormal romance, I read across many genres so you’ll find a mix here.  Some things to note:

  • If you’re an author with an upcoming release, drop me a line via e-mail.
  • If you’re a reader who has just read something outstanding and want to share, likewise.
  • Book signings, release events, quotes, tidbits, industry/indie news etc. etc.? Pass them along.
  • As this is my blog, I reserve the right to not use anything I don’t want to use.

 

chapflourish

Connect with me on Facebook     Goodreads     Twitter and now Pinterest Read excerpts and buy copies of my works on the Published Works page. e-book & paperback copies also available on Amazon   Smashwords   Barnes & Noble and other on-line book retailers.


Fictional Friday Debut

Welcome to the first installment of

Fictional Friday

What’s it all about, you ask? Ahh…fiction. And Friday. Reading. Writing. No arithmetic. Whereas I’m mostly all about fantasy, urban fantasy, and a sprinkling of paranormal romance, I read across many genres so you’ll find a mix here. (See below if you’d like to contribute something as either a reader or a writer.)
To kick things off let’s have a show of hands, who is on Wattpad? Who has heard of Wattpad? I admit, I’m a complete newbie to it. I joined last October but until recently did little as far as interacting or posting. Last week I decided I would start posting First of Her Kind ~ A Darkness & Light Novel Book One Which means, as long as you’re not bothered by having to wait days between chapters you can go to Wattpad and read it. For free. Who doesn’t like free?Today I posted Chapter Two. Going forward I’ll be posting chapters on Mondays and Fridays. You can find it here.

Moving on…I’m way behind in reviews but some books of note that I have recently devoured (in no particular order) include:

  • Warriors ~ Book Three in the Druids Trilogy by Barb Galler-Smith & Josh Langston Review forthcoming Genre: Historical Fiction with a touch of Magic
  • The Butterfly Storm by Kate Frost Reviewed here  Genre: Contemporary Romance
  • Sworn in Steel ~ A Tale of the Kin Book Two by Douglas Hulick Review forthcoming Genre: Fantasy
  • Veil of the Deserters ~ Bloodsounder’s Arc Book Two by Jeff Salyards (who I interviewed after I devoured Book One last year, and who I will be interviewing again…possibly Monday) Review forthcoming Genre: Fantasy
  • Evensong ~ Book One of the Meratis Trilogy by Krista Walsh Review here Genre: Fantasy
  • The Fallen by Keri Lake Which I thought I reviewed somewhere but can’t find. O_o  Genre: Adult Paranormal Steam (meaning over 18 and no tender sensibilities)

What am I reading now? I am in ARC heaven!

  • Crown of Flames ~ Heirs of War Book Two by Mara Valderran Genre: Fantasy (I just finished a couple days ago. What a ride!)
  • Bound ~ Book One by Kate Sparkes Genre: Fantasy (I got to read an early version of this and I can’t wait to see the finished product!)
  • Eventide ~ Book Two of the Meratis Trilogy by Krista Walsh

And I want to give a huge Congratulations! to Kourtney Heintz author of Six Train to Wisconsin on her much-deserved success. See my previous posts regarding Six Train here and here. I look forward to getting to meet Kourtney in person in July when she makes a stop in Wisconsin.

If you use your imagination while reading a good fictional book it takes on a whole new dimension

 

Some things to note:

  • If you’re an author with an upcoming release, drop me a line via e-mail.
  • If you’re a reader who has just read something outstanding and want to share, likewise.
  • Book signings, release events, quotes, tidbits, industry/indie news etc. etc.? Pass them along.
  • As this is my blog, I reserve the right to not use anything I don’t want to use.

 

chapflourish

Connect with me on Facebook     Goodreads     Twitter and now Pinterest Read excerpts and buy copies of my works on the Published Works page. e-book & paperback copies also available on Amazon   Smashwords   Barnes & Noble and other on-line book retailers.


Darth Vader and Knights of Rilch

*Reposted from There & Draft Again* Have you ever noticed how over the course of the three original Star Wars movies, Darth Vader gets a bit more impressive with each one? His shoulders get a bit broader. His voice gets deeper. He just appears more menacing. At least it always seemed that way to me.

Where writing is concerned, that’s what I expect of a series. The first book may be good in its own right, but the second is usually a bit better, as the author starts to find their stride. Characters are becoming more filled out. The good become better. The evil more evil. The ambiguous become even more blurred. The seeds of plot scattered across the ground in the first have taken root, and are starting to grow. If this doesn’t happen, if that second book is weak, or just a rehashing of the first, or if it feels as though we’re not reaching a crescendo, I won’t go on. Likewise, if it feels totally disjointed from the first, I’m done.

When I read Coldness of Marek last year, the first book in Rachel O’Laughlin’s Serengard Series I was blown away. I devoured it. I loved the characters, the world, the plot–pretty much everything about it. I hated the ending. Not because it wasn’t good, but simply because it…well…ended. I waited with anticipation for the second book, Knights of Rilch. Well,waited with my usual blend of impatience, anticipation, and skepticism. I’ve read too many series where the second book falls flat. I didn’t think that would be the case here, and I was right.

Knights of Rilch is Darth Vader in The Empire Strikes Back. Broader, more intense, and I found myself unable to put it down. Questions that had haunted me since Coldness of Marek were answered. New questions were raised. Characters surprised me. There were a few chuckles and, yes, some tears. I’m not a softy, so when an author can make me care that deeply about a character, they’ve done their job and then some. And even though the story jumps from present to past and back again, I never felt lost or confused. That takes a deft hand to pull off. Rachel O’Laughlin makes it look easy.

With a plot involving political intrigue, rebellion, war, scheming, and characters holding themselves out to be something other than they are, Knights of Rilch could have become a clunky monster struggling under its own weight. Could have, in less skilled hands. In Rachel O’Laughlin’s hands it is a sweeping tale of loss, pride, and the challenge of holding onto your beliefs when it seems it would be wiser to just let go. She gives us characters with all their faults, all the subtle shades of grey that make them seem so real. Her world-building is incredible. Her storytelling exquisite. The ending…

Once again I’m left flipping my Kindle over, as though there may be more on the backside of it, and screaming, “Noooooooooooooo!!!!”

If you want to be left screaming as well, enter Rachel’s Rafflecopter Giveaway for a chance at winning a signed paperback, ebook, or some cool swag.

Final_WebVersionBlurb:

Nearly a decade ago…
When Serengard rebelled and the Orion monarchy fell, former crown princess Kierstaz Orion’s love for her people became a burning desire to set things right. With a price on their heads, Kierstaz and her brother Mikel led a handful of Border Guard against the new army along the border of Dreibourge. But months of heavy bloodshed forced her small band of knights to abandon the border — and all of Serengard — to the rebels.
Nine years and a thousand betrayals later…
Kierstaz and Mikel again find themselves on the run, only this time, they’ve a boy in tow: Malcom, the son of two of the Seren rebellion’s strongest leaders. The new regime wants him dead, Mikel wants him alive, and it’s all Kierstaz can do to keep their tracks covered. Desperate to preserve the innocent life she’s sworn to protect, and afraid Mikel’s may be forfeit, Kierstaz must gamble the last thing in the world she owns — her identity. Secrets are a staple of the Orion family, and those Kierstaz keeps are as dangerous as the ones kept from her.
Author Bio:
Rachel O’Laughlin grew up writing adventure stories in which heroines tend to get their hands dirty, bad guys sometimes win, and someone always gets kidnapped. Her passion for all things history morphed into a love for fantasy in her late teens. Lattes and The Fray are daily dwellers in her home in New England, where she lives with her husband and children.

chapflourish

Connect with me on Facebook     Goodreads     Twitter and now Pinterest
Read excerpts and buy copies of my works on the Published Works page. e-book & paperback copies also available on Amazon   Smashwords   Barnes & Noble and other on-line book retailers.


Heading South

Whatever am I going to do on Mondays and Fridays now that the WIPterviews have come to an end?

I’ll tell you what I’m doing this Friday, as in today: the hubby and I are hopping a plane bound for Georgia to attend the launch of Best Selling author Josh Langston’s newest book Treason, Treason! If you’ve hung around this blog long enough you deserve some kind of special award, or a trip to a psychiatrist will have undoubtedly seen me make mention of someone referred to as the Sage of the South. This would be him.

I first met Josh on-line back in the days of CompuServe forums, in a writing group known as the IMPs. A finer group of writers is not to be found anywhere, though the WIPpeteers come as close as anything can. Anyhow, as things go, CompuServe melted away, the IMPs scattered, and for a stretch I tried to give up writing altogether. We all know how successful that was. I kept in sporadic contact with only one of the IMPs until Fate and Facebook intervened, and a straggling of IMPs found their ways back to one another.

Josh was among the first to read the very rough draft of First of Her Kind, or BD&L as it was referred to in its infancy. Let me just say, the IMPs are Kings and Queens of shredding a manuscript. They pull no punches, coat nothing with sugar, and tell it like it is. It’s a painful process. So painful that the IMP castle has its very own chocolate pool where we go to wallow once a shredding has taken place. But it is also immensely helpful once you’ve recovered enough to uncurl from the fetal position and get your thumb out of your mouth.

Anyhow, I digress. Without the Sage of the South slicing me into little shreds, pushing me to stop being lazy about certain aspects of my writing, and driving me to pull out the stops and sink my reader into my character through any means possible, I don’t know that First of Her Kind would have ever made it into the hands of the readers. Nor would I have looked into the Indie route. I owe a large portion of my growth as a writer over the past several years to my Sage. And I believe he owes me for a serious case of Coma Convulsions, followed oftentimes by Semi-colon Siezures, which may or may not have left permanent scars.

So, round to the point. What’s really special about this weekend is that it is the first time Josh and I will meet in person. I’m really looking forward to it. I can’t speak for Josh, and lord only knows if either of us will feel the same way once the weekend is over, but we’ve already decided we’re going to have a good time whether we want to or not.

And now, without further ado, I give you my review of Treason, Treason! the book being launched. I invite anyone in the Marietta, GA area Saturday night to stop by Josh’s book launch and say hi. Or, failing that, get thee to Amazon (link above) and buy a copy of his book, then settle in for a great read.

TreasonFinalMy Review: “Of all the scenarios Raines had contemplated for his arrival in 1780, none of them included a greeting committee comprised of a corpse and a lunatic.”

Okay, I know, history can be about as dry as five day old bread left out on a rock to bake in the summer sun. Make it Alternate History and put it in Josh Langston’s capable hands, blend it with a bit of time travel, a stunningly sharp wit, and a cast of delightful characters, and you’ll have Treason, Treason! The only thing dry about this spin on America is the humor. If you’ve read any of Langston’s other works (and why wouldn’t you?) you’ll know what I mean.

It’s 2012 and the US is under the rule of the British monarchy. Physicist Raines Kerr and his daughter Leah have a plan to change the course of history. A plan to ensure the colonies win their independence. But they must travel back in time to see it done.

Boston missing person’s detective Joel Dawkins doesn’t know anything about that. He’s just trying to solve his latest case. Unfortunately, a conspiracy throws him in the middle of Leah’s world and then, quite literally, into the middle of the 1700s.

From then on it’s a race against time (no pun intended) and a fun romp through Colonial America, rich with the kind of details no school history books ever had.

If you enjoy alternate history, twists and turns, and colonial era stories, or you just want an entertaining read, I’d highly suggest picking up a copy of Treason, Treason! and joining in the fun.

chapflourish

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Read excerpts and buy copies of my works on the Published Works page. e-book & paperback copies also available on Amazon   Smashwords   Barnes & Noble and other on-line book retailers.


Evensong Review & ROW80 Update

Yes, it’s rather late in the day, but Sunday’s are tough for me to get a post together. Today, before I jump into what I did or did not accomplish this week, I’m going to share my review of a soon-to-be-released fantasy novel by the uber talented Krista Walsh. Krista and I have had the opportunity to work together on two projects: Devin O’Branagan’s Witch Hunt: Of the Blood anthology, and Krista’s brainchild Greylands. You can find information regarding each of those on my Published Works page. So when Krista asked who would like an ARC of Evensong, of course I said ME! Okay, I may have screamed it loudly, or jumped up and down and waved my hands around. Whatever. I knew she’d been working on it for a while, and coming from Krista, it had to be something good. I wasn’t disappointed

Evensong is the story of Jeff Powell, an author who gets shanghaied into his imaginary world by his very own characters. Being a basically rational man, he of course suspects he’s simply snapped his bean due to the stress of looming deadlines, an annoyed agent, and a difficult scene he needs to write. Everything you *think* is going to happen from that point forward…doesn’t. And for Jeff Powell, everything he thinks *should* happen…doesn’t. I like a story that takes me someplace I didn’t expect, and Evensong does just that.

Krista creates a cast of unforgettable characters that will make you care deeply about what happens to them, just as Jeff begins to do on his journey. Witty dialog always wins me over, and Krista is a master at it. The worlds she creates are rich in detail, full of the sights, sounds, and smells that make you feel as though you’re actually there. This was one of those books that was just a joy to lose myself in. I kept wondering what she had up her sleeve next. Guessing did me no good, I was always wrong. I didn’t always like where she took me, but the sign of a good author is one who can make the reader care enough about their characters and the story they have to tell, that at times they must resist the temptation to throw the Kindle across the room. Or send the authors Tweets or FB posts telling them how evil they are. Yeah, I did that.

Evensong is the first book in the Meratis Trilogy, and I’m looking forward to the next installment. If you like fantasy that transports you and keeps you guessing, then you’ll want to put Evensong on your TBR list.

Now, ROW80 updates.

  • Did the final tweaking (I think) on formatting Emergence.
  • I’m having way too much fun working on the cover for Emergence. I have some new software and am learning some new techniques that are giving awesome results. I was going to share some early sketches with you but…well…nah. You’ll just have to wait for the reveal.
  • I haven’t worked out any plot notes for CBC, but I did add around 4k words last week.
  • Been eating better, and working out sporadically.
  • Wrote some plot notes and scenes for the third Darkness & Light book even though I wasn’t officially working on it. I also brainstormed a bunch of titles for it. That wasn’t on my list but, well, it’s an accomplishment so I’m adding it in to my report.
  • Oh, and I started up my other blog again. I actually did that a week or so ago. If you want to know what else I do with my time, head on over to my Shadowdance Aussies home on the web. That blog doesn’t get updated as frequently but I’ll be doing more than I did last year.

That’s it! Have a great week, everyone.

chapflourishConnect with me on Facebook     Goodreads     Twitter
Read excerpts and buy copies of my works on the Published Works page. e-book & paperback copies also available on Amazon   Smashwords   Barnes & Noble and other on-line book retailers.