Book Review: Quelling

Quelling by Angie Grigaliunas

 

Quelling is a fine follow-up to Sowing, in the Purification Era series. What it lacks in worldbuilding and cohesive plot points it makes up for with character development.

Rab and Ri find themselves in the same position as they were in Sowing. Ri is still physically abused by her mother and longing for freedom, but held back from running because of circumstances outside of her control. Rab continues to grow entrenched in the rebel movement, protecting Ri from their mother, and sorting through the trauma of her own sexual assault. The themes are dark without being overdone, and you get a really good sense of the inner struggle in these main characters (one of the advantages of first person POV).

We get a good bit more of the itzalin in this book, which I liked. I still feel there is more info we need to really understand the reason behind WHY they are so feared, besides the reason given in the book(s). I still feel the world is just too small. All the action takes place within one city, mostly behind its walls, so it gives a very limited scope of what this world is really like. If we had a bit more scope, it would bump this up to a 5 star for me, because I absolutely adore the phenomenal characters in this story.

The plot rambles a bit, and lacks some cohesion. It’s more a moment by moment type of style, as opposed to the normal 5 act structure one would expect for dystopian novel. Not necessarily a bad thing, depending on what the author is going for. It SEEMS the author really wants to focus on character arc, and worldbuilding/plot falls secondary. So instead of a build-up to a climax, there are sparks of action and intrigue throughout, setting a good pace and yet not really leading anywhere concrete except to highlight the intrigue and relational aspects of the characters lives. Again, not a bad thing, just… different.

As mentioned before, where this story might lack in some aspects, it MORE than makes up for in incredibly well done, intriguing, complex characters. There are a few side characters that might need a bit more to them, but the main characters are fantastic.

Rab/Ri and their endearing love for and loyalty to each other is sooooo well done. They are becoming one of my favorite sister/friendship duo’s EVER. You don’t get this type of relationship THIS well done very often in literature, let alone YA. The author has a firm grasp on who they are as a character. Their voices are unique, consistent, and believable. Ariliah, the youngest, is timid and shy, yet undergoes a steady buildup to believable motivations and an understandable reason for being the way she is. Rabreah is fiery, often impulsive to the point of stupidity, yet has the heart and courage of a lion. Yet we get a glimpse of those walls coming down with Sorek, and it’s heart-meltingly, hits you right in the feels type of development.

Don’t get me started on Masrekah. The complexity of this character is so well-done it makes me sad he doesn’t actually exist. Sniff. I’ll just say this: one minute you’re convinced he’s a good guy at heart, and the next you are certain he’s an arrogant, narcissistic ass who needs to be taken down a peg or two. But that’s just it. He’s both, and the splendid weaving of his story only gets better with this book as it progresses.

All in all, 4/5 for me, and I look forward to book 3. Get it on Amazon or add it on Goodreads.

Book Review: Skies of Dripping Gold by Hannah Heath

Skies of Dripping Gold by [Heath, Hannah]

5/5 stars

Hannah Heath is a part of the Phoenix Fiction Writers, a marketing collective of speculative fiction authors of which I am also a part. PFW authors consistently put out quality work, and Heath is no exception. Everything she puts out is pure gold (see what I did there?) She is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors.

Skies of Dripping Gold is my absolute favorite short story I’ve ever read. Heath manages to create a grand, epic scope of a world in just one short story.

Skies of Dripping Gold is a beautiful, haunting story. I read a lot, yet it is rare to find something that really touches you, in your heart and soul. But this story did. The sibling relationship between Gabriel and Lilly was unique. The concept of faith was illustrated in a way I’ve never read before. The themes of pain, suffering, special needs, and love were powerful. There is really no reason why this story shouldn’t be read widely. I loved it.

Go grab this one now for only 99 cents. Or add it to your Goodreads TBR. It’s a steal. Trust me on this one.

Book Review: Never Die

download

4.5/5 stars

When I first started the book, I knew I would love it. It starts with a good hook, and then doesn’t disappoint as it delivers chapter after chapter.

In fact, it exceeded my expectations. You know it’s good when throughout the day you find yourself preoccupied with when you can get your tasks done and go finish reading. When I finished, I couldn’t decide whether it was a 4 star are 5 star for me. I finally landed in the middle.

First, the characters were incredibly unique. You’re first introduced to Cho, also called Whispering Blade. There isn’t much backstory given until later in the book, but it only adds to the character’s mysteriousness. Part of the character arc, if you will, is the fact that she takes her oaths incredibly seriously, and endears herself in that way. Then, Ein is introduced. I have a huge soft spot for creepy children characters (weird, I know), and employed one in my own book series. So maybe I’m biased. Either way, Ein has all the right elements: a mysterious power, an unknown backstory, a strange mission, and yet is likeable.

More characters join into a motley crew of strange heroes who are subject to Ein and his mission. Each one of them is unique, to the point it borders on genius. You never confuse who is who, even though they each have two, if not three, names. But the POV is so well written you don’t get confused about whose viewpoint you’re in (although, one critique… it was a more distant POV so sometimes you were into the POV by a few paragraphs before you knew what perspective you were reading from). Although, this isn’t unusual for fantasy. All in all, it’s the characters who really drive the book. My personal favorite was Iron Gut Chen.

The plot was pretty ingenious, but I don’t want to go into too many details so I don’t spoil it. My only minor complaint, and one reason for 4.5 instead of 5 stars, was the endings predictability. The entire book was so well written, though, that is was nearly impossible not to guess what was going on. This is generally the opposite for why I find books to be predictable: bad writing leading to too obvious conclusions for the ending. However, Never Die is so incredibly well done that you can see where it’s going, and the excitement builds, and bam! The delivery comes and you’re left breathless.

I could go on and on. Honestly, this is my favorite book of 2019 so far. One tiny complaint: it needed one more proofread before publication. There were a few punctuation errors per chapter, and a few tense changes mid sentence scattered throughout the book. But it no way detracted from the overall feeling of quality work you get as you read.

All in all, a massively well done story. If you are a fan of fantasy reads, add this one as “next to read” on your TBR piles!

Promos Galore!

SummerDiscountFantasySciFiPromo banner

 

Promos are my favorite. I love supporting other indie authors, and one way I do that is hosting promotions here on my blog. Check it out… 75 FREE books. 12 books free on Kindle Unlimited (or under $5). It doesn’t get much better than that.

So check it out, and discover some new authors to love! Happy reading. The books will be available through June 15th.

 

Author Guest Post: EB Dawson

If you’ve delved at all into the world of writing, you’ve probably heard about this thing called “voice.” I’m not talking about whether you are employing first person, third person, or omniscient point of view. Nor am I referring to the narrator in your story, although both can be a part of voice. So what exactly is author voice? And how can a new author find it? Well, you are in luck because although I am not an expert, I have some thoughts to share on that.
What is author voice? The topic of voice can be frustrating because there are aspects of voice which are entirely intangible. Part of voice is how you use the standard tools of story craft: tone, theme, vocabulary, plot, and character arcs. No two authors will ever tell the same story the same way. What you choose to include in your story, what you choose to focus on in each scene, and for each character is uniquely you. It is what will draw readers to you and what will set you apart from other authors.
Think of a camera. A hundred photographers can photograph the same forest and they will all bring out something different. Each photographer will choose a different angle, and focus their lens on a different set of details. And customers will buy those prints based on how they make them feel. They will choose the photos with the perspectives that mean the most to them. The same is true for the written word. Some people try to imitate an already successful author, but why play copy cat when you can create something new and amazing? You have a perspective and a voice that is unlike anyone else’s. And there are readers out there who will connect with your voice and your body of work.
That’s all great, you say. But how do I find my author voice? Well, it’s gonna take some time. First you need to know who you are as a person and what is important to you. If you don’t know that, it will come out in your work.
Don’t expect to find your voice in your first short story or even your first novel. Some authors do, but it’s pretty rare. The truth is, you need to learn how to write, first. And even if you’ve studied writing craft for years, you can only really learn writing by doing. Photographers have to learn about lighting, exposure, and focus before they can use all of these elements to their advantage. Start writing and write boldly. Write stories that matter to you and then when you are finished, figure out why those stories matter to you. Then move forward and write more. Listen to what people have to say about your work. Their perspectives will help you look at your writing in a new light and you will begin to see what sets your writing apart from other authors. And every time you edit your work you will be re-evaluating what needs to go and what needs to stay. The elements that are important to you will grow stronger and more prolific. And that’s when you will begin to draw readers who love your work.
I played around with writing from when I was eleven to when I was seventeen. I started to get serious about it when I was eighteen. I still had so much to learn about writing craft and my own author voice. But working on my first novel, I felt so much pressure to get it perfect. And once it was finished there was part of me that didn’t want to admit that it had any faults. I had poured my heart and soul into Out of Darkness and at the time I couldn’t imagine writing anything better. In fact, it took a great deal of time before I even had the concept for another book. I didn’t realize that my journey as an author was just beginning. I had no idea that every book would get better and my voice would get stronger, and that I would love each project more than the last. I imagine that my voice will strengthen and even change as I get older, but I’m not afraid of that. I am going to write the best books that I can right now. Next year I’ll do the same. So get on out there, be a student of life in all its complexities, and then write the stories that matter to you.

***

EB head shot

E.B. Dawson was born out of time. Raised in the remote regions of a developing nation, traveling to America was as good as traveling thirty years into the future. So, it’s really no wonder that she writes science fiction and fantasy. She writes stories that acknowledge darkness, but empower and encourage people to keep on fighting, no matter how difficult their circumstances may be. And as an avid philosopher, she infuses her work with Socratic questions. When not writing, she tries to make a difference in the world by showing love and compassion to those most broken.

Get her books at her website.
http://www.ebdawsonwriting.com

Follow her on Twitter –  https://twitter.com/ebdawsonwriting

The Imago Dei of Storytelling

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you teach someone something? Often, we use illustrations or metaphors to prove a point. Take the fables, for instance. These were used to teach a moral, such as a warning against laziness (“The Grasshopper and the Ant”), or the dangers of ease over hard work (“The Three Little Pigs”).
Stories have been used since the beginning of time itself. Moses was the first to use this method when he depicted the beginning of creation with prose: “In the beginning, God created…” We learned of the downfall of Lucifer from heaven through story (Ezekiel 28). We learn of the great heroes of the faith through story. Jesus even taught through parable.

Continue reading my piece here.

April Promo: Fantasy for Free

fantasy world

 

I will be running a promotion through my blog for the month of April for those of you, readers AND authors, who love fantasy. Here is how it will work: authors will submit their fantasy novel (any subgenre), as long as it is free, to the promotion. There are only three rules: First, a link must be submitted for the free book, whether through book funnel or any other website you use 2) If you will be using the promo to get more email subscribers, you must at least have 50 in your mailing list, or the equivalent followers of your blog or twitter and 3) you must share the promo on your social media account and to your mailing list. That’s it.

Readers, check out the links and get access to 75 books for free. For some submissions, this might require signing up for authors mailing lists (but seriously, for a free book? And updates on the authors works? Totally worth it. Just saying.)

If you want to participate, shoot me an email at janellegarrettwriter@gmail.com or leave a comment with your email address, and I will send you the link for further info. Happy reading and writing!

–Janelle G.