Saturday, September 26, 2015

Stenibelle - Ren Garcia

I have no idea what's going on. All I know is that I'm on some Steampunk SciFi-Fantasy Space Opera romp into the unknown. Strap in. It's going to be a bumpy ride!

THE 3rd TURN OF THE SHADOW TECH GODDESS The quest of Paymaster Stenstrom spans the planes, taking a bizarre turn in the 3rd universe, as there he is not an affluent man but a woman in desperate circumstances. Lady Stenibelle is imprisoned for her role in the Seeker Affair, is penniless, and her House of Belmont-South Tyrol is on the verge of extinction. Her spirit broken, Stenibelle is resigned to perform her sentence without fuss, do as she is told, and fade away in obscurity. However, fate is not yet finished with her. Stenibelle is in the gaze of hidden benefactors with ulterior motives. People claiming to be her dear friends come forward, yet she does not know them. The Quests of the Shadow tech Goddess proceed, and she must discover the hero that lies within or face total oblivion. The disgraced 30th daughter of the House of Belmont will either be the final stake driven into its dying heart, or the ray of light that comes to save it and all else that follows.

This review is apart of Lady Reader's Book Stuff blog tours and I'm super stoked to participate again! A copy of this book was provided to me for the blog tour so I say thank ye Amy, Ren Garcia and the publisher. As is with all my reviews, this is an honest one. My opinion alone...and really? Who pays attention to what I have to say in the first place? Oh! And there may or may not be a few spoilers here and there, but I'll try to keep it away from the plot twists and turns. Now...on to the review!!

Let me say this up front and get it out of the way. While reading this I was completely lost. Like, even with my map app on my iPhone going and Magic Voice patiently telling to take the 3rd left, I still would have gotten turned around. Reading this book had me feeling like there might have been some prerequisite books I should have tucked into first. 

The world the Garcia created is big. Like, ginormous. Almost too big. Space opera and steampunk? Magic? Timey Wimey Spacey Wacey? I enjoy these things all on their own and to mix them all together (kinda like the ULTIMATE space opera/fantasy Dune) is a large undertaking. But, like I said before, I think I missed out on some previous books, so maybe in those tales, the universe is established. I missed the Introductory class. 

I have read a few reviews and everyone seemed to love Stenibelle as a leading lady.  And I'm going to jump in here and say...I didn't, at least not right away. To me, she seemed so weak of will, so flat and uninteresting. When we meet our hero, she is trapped in jail and just wished to stay there and rot. And everything she did was meekly or quietly or with a degree of questionable hesitation. Then, she gets some potions called bulobongs and suddenly her entire personality changes, and not for the better. I went from being unimpressed to complete disgust. She was a brute and robbed and beat the shit out of folks and was pretty much a whore. Like, wow, what a shitty person. Stenibelle does get free of her drug addiction to FINALLY become a sensible character. The right amount of compassion and understanding mixed with a fierce determination. I get making the character grow and develop, but the extremes did almost give me the Bends. 

There are some good bits. Lots of great action and dialogue. The main point of Stenibelle's purpose in this book, saving the universe from crazy religious zealots was the best written part for me. We see Stenibelle as a hero right near the end. She is accepting all aspects of her personality and the mistakes of her past. Once I got past the first few chapter of being confused about why she was in jail and being a completely awful person, I was actually able delve down into the meat and potatoes of the story. I was able to see the strange and brutal and wondrous world created. It's not a kind place. It's filled with renegades and a harsh imperial government and heartless harpies who can and will destroy anyone who gets in their way. But then, Garcia reminds us that there are noble and gracious folks who, though a little cracked and dented, can actually never be broken.

This book left me with mixed feelings in the end. I felt like I should have known more about the world and characters Garcia created and I really did have a hard time when I came to Stenibelle being a complete dick of a person. But, when the book ended, I wanted more. Well, mostly more. I could totally due WITHOUT the word vagina. 

Thank you folks who found my blog via the blog tour. I hope you check out the other blogs along the way and check out this book. I would recommend checking out a few of Ren Garcia's previous books. Per Goodreads, they seem to relate to Stenibelle in some shape and form. 

Remember to always be yourself. Unless you can be a pirate. Then ALWAYS be a pirate!!



September 21st – Christine Abee – Review 


September 21st – Marian Allen – Guest Post 


September 22nd – Melissa Martin's Reading List – Review


September 23rd – TBA


September 24th – Cabin Goddess – Recipe & Review 


September 25th – Room With Books – Playlist 


September 28th  Atomic Pirate Girl's Book Worm Booty – Review 


September 29th – The Renegade Zombie Reviews – Review 


September 30th – A Diary Of A Book Addict – Review  


September 30th – Triple A Book Blog – Review 


October 1st – Heather Ann's Book Reviews – Review


October 1st – Leigh Anderson Romance – Guest Post 


October 2nd – Karin Baker – Review


October 2nd – Pixie Vixen Book Reviews – Review

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Writing Vivid Settings: Professional Writing Techniques for Fiction Writers - Rayne Hall

NaNoWriMo is just around the river bend folks. Time to get inspired. 

Do you want your readers to feel like they're really there—in the place where the story happens? Whether you want to enrich stark prose with atmospheric detail, add vibrancy to a dull piece or curb waffling descriptions, this guide can help. Learn how to make your settings intense, realistic, and intriguing. 

I start this little review with a preface. I have this great friend at work, Jeff, who is like myself: a writer. Granted, I'm not published. I just have this blog. But, that is my dream. I want to be a published author. And so does he. He's more on the screenwriting side of it, but still! If you create images with words, you want to share that with the world. We share a brain when it comes to putting words to paper. Back and forth we banter and throw out ideas and suggestions, same sense of humor. We inspire and encourage each other. We determined that we were meant to form a writing team. So we did. Because support matters.  Writing is a LONELY road guys, so it's awesome to have someone equally as crazy along for the ride. Side note: I am so grateful for a boss that doesn't mind the randomness that goes on between the two of us. For real. Because I'm pretty sure every other supervisor would tell us to shut up and get back to work. Yeah. My boss is pretty dang awesome. But, I digress. 

Anyway, Jeff was telling me how he downloaded some writing craft books and that they seem to be helpful. Now, my experience with those types of books is that I feel like the author just wants to hear themselves talk. The only writing book I read that I felt served any purpose for myself is Stephen King's book On Writing. But, I trust Jeff. He's my gay work husband and my writing brother from another mother and he is ALWAYS taking care of me. He was showing me the books he got on his Kindle. I had seen the blue cover and writing hand of Rayne Halls writing books a few times on Amazon's list of recommendations, never opted to get them. Jeff told me that I should check them out because they are simple, short, and to the point. And, they are short. But he definitely recommend this book: Writing Vivid Settings. 

Being stuck and hitting a wall with what I was writing, thought maybe this will help. And you know what? It totally did. And let me tell why. It was zero bullshit. And I know bullshit. I deal with it on a daily basis at work. It as clear and concise and everything I needed at the moment of my writing block. 

This book, for me, was a reminder of what I needed to make sure I do on a daily basis: breath life into my writing. Make sure that there is color and sounds and rich sights that transport a reader deep into the story. I feel like I do this anyway because as an avid reader, it's what I want in a story. I just want to be lost in the world and be devastated when I have to come back to reality. And Rayne Hall gives amazing tips and commentary to make sure you keep your reader engaged in your world. 

When I write, I tend to focus on colors and sounds. Those sections of the book provided me with new ideas and ways to improve those strengths. However, there were little bits and pieces that had me thinking, "Damn. I don't think I have this stuff in there. And it would make my story  EVEN BETTER." It's the little things really. 

After I read this book I totally for three of her other books. I'm currently working through Rayne Hall's Writing Fight Scenes. I am going back and forth from reading it and writing on my post-apocalyptic wanderlust of mercenaries, clones, and evil corporations. And it's definitely helping keep me focused and on track. 

For all my fellow NaNoWriMo folks, this is a great book for getting to the nitty gritty of writing a world that is saturated and full of imagery. Promise. No beating around the bush. And did I mention it's a quick read? 

If you are an experienced writer or this is going to be the first time you get your thoughts down on paper, check out this book. It's a nice and easy guide to what a writers are required to do: make the reader escape from reality...even if it's just for a few minutes.

And again, thanks Jeff! Always looking out for my, good buddy! 

Thank you so much for reading!
Remember to always be yourself. Unless you can be a pirate. 
Them ALWAYS be a pirate!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Last of The Firedrakes - Farah Oomerbhoy

Is being kidnapped by an awful villain to a magical world the best thing for a girl? If finding out you have awesome magical powers and a princess...well, I'm going to say yes. And can I be kidnapped as well??

16-year-old Aurora Darlington is an orphan. Mistreated by her adopted family and bullied at school, she dreams of running away and being free. But when she is kidnapped and dragged through a portal into a magical world, suddenly her old life doesn’t seem so bad.
Avalonia is a dangerous land ruled by powerful mages and a cruel, selfish queen who will do anything to control all seven kingdoms—including killing anyone who stands in her way. Thrust headlong into this new, magical world, Aurora’s arrival sets plans in motion that threaten to destroy all she holds dear.
With the help of a young fae, a magical pegasus, and a handsome mage, Aurora journeys across Avalonia to learn the truth about her past and unleash the power within herself. Kingdoms collide as a complicated web of political intrigue and ancient magic lead Aurora to unravel a shocking secret that will change her life forever.

***Preface and Disclaimer***
First, I want to say that this review is apart of an awesome blog tour being held by Amy from Lady Readers Bookstuff and I want to say thanks for giving me a chance to be apart of something I have never done before: a blog tour! Also, thank you to Netgalley and Wise Ink Creative Publishing for providing me a copy for my ol' Kindle. And like always, this is an honest review. 
So where to begin? Let me say this right from the start: as I finished this book, I was left torn. I liked the book, left me feeling strange. I was trying to figure out why that was. The writing is good. Aurora is a good character, albeit a very familiar one in the world of young adults fantasy. The world was fun and there was go action. Oh, and a very handsome devil of a hero/love interest. So what was making me feel this strange mixed feeling of loving this book and it making me feel kind of "meh"? 
Part of this reason is because I had just finished reading book two of the Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson. That book was, well, kinda heavy. So my head space wasn't quite ready for this book. After realizing that, I looked back at the book and found that I did enjoy this tale. 
Aurora to me resembles a Cinderella-esque character: crappy situation with a horrid family but then is spirited away to a whole new world where she finds her true heritage as the heir to a kingdom. But that's pretty much were that resemblance ends. Because there are a whole slew of nasty villains, one of which is her tyrannical aunt, Morgana, who has control of Aurora's birthright. I love stories like this. And Aurora is likable. She is just like every other teen, but just in a super crap situation with an uncle that feigns indifferent at her existence, an aunt who despises the very ground she walks on, and a cousin whose soul mission to tear down any self confidence that Aurora has. Aurora is a character who has just given up. How in the world cannot just be happy when, in the end, she leaves those jack-holes behind. Granted, she is kidnapped...

But still! She's free and a whole new world (not like Disney's Aladdin ) is opened up before her. You know how in the Wizard of OZ, Dorothy's life in Kansas is black and white, and the world of OZ is this explosion in Technicolor? That's what I felt like when Aurora enters the world of Avalonia. Colors are bright and vibrant. Shadows are the deepest and the darkest bits of black.


I did have a couple little niggles with Aurora, though. They are forgivable...but still there all the same. One is the insta-love that she has for Rafe. As annoying as I find it personally, I can look past. I can forgive that because it's young adult and that is the trend. The other issue I had a little bit more of a difficult getting around. Aurora is a great narrator. She is completely capable of describing the world around her and her emotions perfectly. But some of the things this girl says grinds my teeth a bit. The exclamations of "Are you serious?!" and the like sort of bothered me. But don't get me wrong, I know our heroine is a 16 year old girl dragged into a world not her own, and I felt that I was being constantly reminded of this. 

When I first finished reading this, I felt that Morgana and her minions where a little too much mustache-twirling villains. You know, the ones that so easily reveal their master plans and are a bit one dimensional. There are two reason I felt this way: one, I just finished reading Brandon Sanderson's The Well of Ascension, and two, the ultimate villain, Aurora's arch-nemesis, appears at the end and just acts crazy. I just wanted a little more serious darkness and less cackling old witch from someone that shares a name with a character from  Arthurian legend. 

But! These are my personal issues. These things did not stop me from enjoying this book. There was a bit of a Princess Bride feel with the interaction with Aurora and Rafe (and DUN DUN DUN) and who he really is, (like River Song says, Spoilers!). The ups and downs that Aurora goes through are perfectly timed and appropriate for this type of story.  It's a light-hearted, fun escape to a different world, and has all the perfect elements of fantasy and action with a dash of young star-crossed love. 

This is the first in a series and an great debut for Farah Oomerbhoy. I am rooting for Aurora and do want to see if she claims her true birthright and learns to control her awesome powers so she can properly kick some ass. 

I hope you enjoyed this review and I hope you all go out and read this book! It really is a fun debut and you can tell the love the Farrah Oomerbhoy has for the world she has created, and that love is infectious. My only suggestion: Don't read The Mistborn series before this one. I'm one of the last stops on this blog tour, but please check out the other amazing blogs that joined in with all the fun!

Until next time, remember to be yourself...unless you can be a pirate...