Indie April Guest Post: Kaye Thornbrugh, author of Flicker

FlickerToday's Indie April Author is Kaye Thornbrugh, author of the awesome Flicker. Kaye has written this guest post for you guys!

When in doubt, go to the library. That’s my motto.

As a writer, I take research very seriously. I think it’s the journalist in me—I’m a journalism major, and the managing editor of my college’s newspaper. It’s important to me to get my facts correct, even when I’m writing fantasy.

For me, there are few things more satisfying than reading a book where I can tell that the author really knows his or her stuff. Likewise, there are few things less satisfying than reading a book where it’s obvious that the author didn’t research. It’s the little details—the nuts and bolts—that really flesh out a story and make it feel real, especially in a fantasy.

Some writers don’t like to research. I’ve known more than one who cringed at the thought of looking up information on sword fighting or horseback riding—probably because it feels like homework. I can see why that would be discouraging.

If I’m bored while I’m researching, I’ll probably be bored while I’m writing, and readers pick up on that. The words will be lifeless on the page. For me, the obvious solution the research slump problem is to write about topics that I’m excited to research—that way, I don’t wind up buried beneath mounds of dry, boring material that I have to regurgitate in my own writing. I let the research guide me as I choose a topic.

As a fantasy author, I base much of what I write on actual folklore and mythology—and I take reading up on it very seriously.

These days, especially in the fantasy and paranormal genres, it’s important to make your lore unique. Whether you’re writing about vampires, werewolves, faeries, demons, witches, or something else entirely, you have to find something you can tweak or twist and make your own.

But—in my opinion, at least—you can’t really make the lore your own until you understand and appreciate the lore in the first place. You have to establish a solid base before you start building on it, and that’s what I’ve tried to do. That’s where the research comes in. More than adding another layer to your writing, familiarity with folklore can add meaning to the stories you already know.

Brownies, for instance. Not the delicious kind, but the folkloric kind. In folklore, brownies are house spirits that serve one family by cleaning, mending, and protecting the house. You can release a brownie from service by presenting it with clothes.

Sound familiar? The house elves from Harry Potter are almost every inch the brownies of British folklore. (In fact, there are stories of a particular brownie in Yorkshire and Lancaster called “Dobby.”) See what I mean?
The book I’m writing currently (the sequel to my debut novel, Flicker) has called for a fair amount of fun research. Thus far, I’ve gotten to do the following, all under the label of “research”:

1) Watch the horror movie, “The Cave,” to study up on caving (I’m also reading Blind Descent by James M. Tabor). 2) Browse surfing blogs on Tumblr. 3) Listen to sea shanties. 4) Sift through the SurLaLune archives in search of Chinese fairytales. 5) Learn the difference between a kelpie and an each uisge (one haunts running water, like rivers and streams, while the other haunts the sea and lochs).
See? Research can be fun, once you get going!

Don’t know where to start? No problem! The Internet is always a good jumping-off point. (And despite what your high school teachers told you, Wikipedia is actually great for research—just follow the external links at the bottom of the page, and look up the sources from the article’s notations.)

Next, ask a librarian. They are noble folk, and they’ll be more than happy to help you find books on whatever subject you like—and they won’t judge you too harshly when you march up to the front desk with a stack of books about taxidermy, superstition, and caving, as well as a DVD of High School Musical 3. (That was me last week. I am unashamed.)

If you’re lucky like me, you’re Facebook friends with your high school biomedical science teacher, and you can ask him medical questions. Previous queries have included: “What can you tell me about blood poisoning?” “Why does your nose get stuffy when you cry?” and “How much blood can you inject into a person with a different blood type before you get a negative reaction?”

(Actually, that last one wasn’t for something I was writing. I had just read Shiver by Maggie Stievater, and my mind was positively swimming with Important Medical Questions.)

Be sure to build up your personal library, as well. Not only will all those books look really cool on your shelf and impress your friends, they’ll come in handy time and again.

My number one research tool, hands down, is An Encyclopedia of Fairies by Katharine Briggs. I have a lovely 1976 edition. It’s the best resource for fairy lore that I’ve come across so far, and I use it so often that I’ve found it necessary keep within arm’s reach of my bed, where I do most of my writing.

Here are some of my favorite books, for both research and pleasure reading:

– A Field Guide to Demons, Fairies, Fallen Angels, and Other Subversive Spirits by Carol K. Mack and Dinah Mack
– The Vampire Encyclopedia by Matthew Bunson (For some reason, I actually own two copies of this book.)
– The Encyclopedia of Witches, Witchcraft and Wicca and The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits by Rosemary Ellen Guiley
– Arthur Spiderwick’s Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi (In addition to being a richly illustrated and informative guide, this book also includes an extensive bibliography.)
– The Annotated Brothers Grimm by Maria Tatar
– Indian Legends of the Pacific Northwest by Ella E. Clark
– The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (I scrounged mine from a library book sale for a quarter!)
– The Associated Press Stylebook (Yes, I read this book for fun. Like I said, I’m a journalist.)

What about you guys? Do you like to research, or do you avoid it like the plague? What are some of your favorite research tools?

Indie April Review: Flicker by Kaye Thornbrugh

FlickerWhen sixteen-year-old Lee Capren is spirited away to Faerie, she is forced to serve capricious faeries as a prized portrait artist… and live as their prisoner.
A chance encounter with the charming Nasser grants Lee a chance for freedom—but what felt like mere days in Faerie spanned years in the human world, and Lee no longer has a home to return to.

Nasser is a Seer—a human with magical powers—and Lee is quickly plunged into his world: a sprawling city teeming with magic and mystery, where supernatural creatures walk hidden among humans. With the help of a rag-tag group of teenage Seers, Lee must master her newfound magical talent and outwit a cunning faerie determined to destroy her.

I so enjoyed this book, Kaye Thornbrugh is such a talented writer and I never got the feeling that anything was missing. This book, for me, was amazing and gripping.

A lot of fairy books nowadays are about people rescuing friends/relatives that have been taken away, this one is actually about the person who was taken away so it was amazing to read a fairy story from that point of view. I really liked where the plot took us, it was exciting and romantic and even when it got slow I was still absorbed in the storytelling.

I also really enjoyed the characters, I felt that Lee had a lot of development as a character but the backing characters did as well. Filo grows up a lot, Nasser lightens up and Jason matures. there are also other romantic story lines outside of the obvious Nasser and Lee and I can't wait to see what becomes of Filo and Alice, they are so cute! Nasser and Lee was awesome, it developed a bit quickly but also naturally and I liked that Lee was a very independent character (though at times she did become dependent on the others), it meant that the romance was natural and not obsessive.

And the fairies! Yes, for once it isn't all dark and politics, there is some light to the fairies and whilst they are cunning and have a bad side they did show some goodness and I really liked that!

Overall, a romantic and compelling book that gripped em and didn't let go. i can't really think of anything that I didn't like about it. I need more!

Overall Rating: A+

Received for review from the author

Indie April Review: Casey Barnes Eponymous by E.A. Rigg

Casey Barnes EponymousIt's three weeks into the school year when music junkie Casey Barnes gets a second chance with her mysterious, heartbreaking ex-boyfriend. She comes up with a plan to win him back, but it soon spins out of control as rivalries, revelations about him, and music itself all start to collide. For Casey the newfound attention means learning the difference between wanting center stage and actually being on it.

Forget about this book, I loved Casey, she was one of the most awesomest main characters that I have read in a long time, especially in a contemporary book.

Seriously, the book was great but Casey as a main character is the thing that kept me reading in this book. She rebels, she doesn't think things through, she was just fantastic and realistic. Probably not a good influence for younger teens but as an older teen (Seriously, I'm into my last year of teen-dom in two days!) she was so fantastic and relatable, yes! A character that I can totally relate to.

This book teaches some harsh lessons in life. Casey is a very gung-ho person on the outside but inside she transforms throughout the book and learns a lot of lessons. I can relate to her and her romance issues though I did find it a bit awkward that she was torn up over her relationship with Alex ending at the end of summer because to me it wasn't a relationship as it lasted two days so I don't think she should have been so deeply obsessed with him after that. I kept shouting at her that she was being an idiot because he was just using her but to be honest I knew where the romance aspect was going and I would have been the same in her situation (I mean, I have been before...)

If I had to wish for anything else in this book it would be a little more build up to the relationship with Ben, he was cute and it kind of just happened and I think it could have been developed on a bit more so we see it creeping up on us.

Rigg totally grabbed me with this book, her writing is interested and relevant and this book is kind of on the short side as well, so there was not much time for me to lost interest in the story.

Overall Rating: A-

Book given to me from the author from review

Indie April Interview: Ashley S Morgan, author of Torn

Today's Indie April author is Ashley S. Morgan, author of Torn, (review here). Ashley has answered a few questions about herself and her book and these answers are great, so check it out!

Hi Ashley, thanks for stopping by today, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
My day job is teaching and freelance editing. I have the most adorable black lab in the world named Kaylee who always gets me up on time in the morning; when she’s ready to be fed and walked, she’ll come up to my side of the bed and start licking my face:) I can’t function without coffee. During my days in Montreal as a grad student, there was this amazing bakery just down the street from me where I’d go every morning and get a fabulous latte and a chocolate croissant. Then, if I had time, I’d wind my way up the mountain to the lookout point where I could take in a spectacular view of the city. I’m living in Toronto now, but I’ve kept the habit of hitting a local cafĂ© for my first latte of the day. It’s a little indulgent, I know, but I really love my morning ritual of bantering with the barista, and then walking through the neighborhood with Kaylee, coffee in hand, my brain starting to buzz from the caffeine as I take in all the sights and sounds around me.

Can you describe Torn in three words?
Moody. Intense. Mysterious.

Where did the idea behind Torn come from?
For me, a book always starts with a single vivid image. In the case of Torn, the creation process began with this image of a teenage girl racing down a hill on her bike, eyes closed, arms stretched out, and the wind whipping through her hair. The first question that came to mind was “Why is she being so reckless?” The answer to this question was “Because she feels trapped and thrill seeking is her way of briefly experiencing a sense of freedom.” This answer let to several other questions, and, bit by bit, I came up with Isadora’s backstory.

In this initial vivid image of Isadora on her bike, Tristan, the love interest, was already there too, coming to her rescue when she fell off the bike. While creating Isadora’s backstory, I also started asking myself: “Who is this guy?” “How does he clash with her?” “How does he help her grow?” As I started answering these questions, the plot of Torn began to take shape.

Who is your favorite character in Torn?
Definitely Tristan. He’s the kind of guy I would have loved to have dated in high school. He’s gorgeous in an edgy and rugged kind of way, and he’s confident without being cocky. He also has an amazing ability to read people, he’s fiercely loyal, and he really challenges Isadora to grow as a person. In other words, he’s mature and wise way beyond his years.

What advice would you give to anybody who is planning on writing a book?
Read as much as you can. And I don’t mean leisurely reading. Sit down with a book, pencil in hand, and really take the thing apart. If a particular passage strikes you as vivid, try and analyze what the author is doing to achieve this effect. Also, before you start writing, spend a lot of time sketching out both your characters and your plot. It will save you a lot of time and headaches later on. You’ll also find that with a great outline, you’ll write faster and better. Picking up a couple of craft books to read before you begin is also a good idea.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I’m a bit of a shutterbug. I love to wander around the city, snapping pictures of crazy graffiti, old clock towers, crowds on the move, or really anything that catches my attention. As a freelancer, my schedule is flexible, so on some days I’ll head down to the art gallery and take in an exhibit in the middle of the day. I’m also a bit of a foodie. I enjoy checking out new restaurants with friends, and I particularly hold dear the ritual of Sunday morning brunch. Luckily, I’m also a big runner and swimmer, so all that good food doesn’t result in an expanding waistline. I’m also fond of taking little weekend trips up north to my cottage where I can relax with friends, go canoeing, enjoy a hot chocolate on the sunny deck, and just generally slow down and recharge.

What YA books are you most looking forward to this year?
I was really excited when Pandemonium came out. I think Lauren Oliver is one of the most gifted Young Adult writers around. I love her complex characterization, attention to detail, and lyrical prose. Most of the books on my ridiculously long to-read list have already been out for a while. Next up is a YA classic, Winter Girls by Laurie Halse Anderson, and then I’ll be reading Fever by Lauren DeStefano.

Thanks for stopping by. Do you have any last words to say to my readers?
Thanks for reading guys! And thank you so much, Jade, for being such a generous and gracious host! You can find Torn in the Kindle Store. The cover for the book has changed – I think the new cover is more true to the story. You can find me at or connect with me on Facebook. I look forward to hearing from you!

Indie April Review: Torn by Ashley S Morgan

TornTorn is about a high school student named, Isadora Rivers. She is determined to get out of her small town and become a Hollywood actress. After a reckless bike ride she meets the mysterious new boy, Tristan Blake. As soon as Tristan comes into her world, she begins to have unusual visions of her future.

Torn is going to be a difficult book for me to rate because I did enjoy reading it but I found that the plot was a bit lacking because there was a big focus on character development.

I really enjoyed the writing of this book, the way that it was written was engaging and I found very few areas where the dialogue seemed awkward or the narration didn't flow quite right and that was great.

I also absolutely loved the characters, I found both Isadora and Tristan to be interesting and some well developed characters and it's obvious that a lot of work went into making the characters realistic. i loved how caring Tristan was and how much of a drama queen Isadora was, I especially related to that side of her. I definitely enjoyed reading about the pair of them.

Morgan manages to create a really atmospheric vibe in this book, it's very mysterious and kind of dark at some points and that is a great sign of fantastic writing.

The problem with this book for me was the plot... or lack of. I've seen it said in other eviews of this book that the plot was all over and I totally agree. It took a good 100 pages to set up the plot and even after that it was difficult to follow. I mean, I enjoyed the book because of the characters but without that fantastic character development and the great writing I'm not sure I would have finished this book. I know that the pacing was great as well, but without a well established plot it's pretty difficult to say if I really enjoyed this book.

Overall this book had great characters and writing. I actually love this authors writing style. Unfortunately this book needed a bit more plot development.

Overall Rating: C

Book received from the author for review

Dauntless UK Blog Tour: All About Fears

Guys, I am so psyched to be a part of #TeamDauntlessUK, I have some awesome folks in my faction and I plan to link to their posts at the end of this post so make sure you check them out!

My post today is about fears, because a lot of what being Dauntless is about is being able to face your fears and seriously, I have a lot of them: if Four got his nickname for having four fears I would be called One-Hundred or something.

I'm not even joking, here's a few of them:

  • I'm actually scared of flushing the toilet at night. That is the result of some mean eleven year olds when I was just seven, I'm (almost) nineteen now and that one has stuck with me.
  • Empty ice cream tubs with like melty ice-cream at the bottom. I'm a weird one, I know.
  • I actually can't go to sleep after 3am, that movie Paranormal Activity gave me that fear. If it's after 3am I have to wait up until the sun rises before I sleep.
I could give you the basic psychological reason for the development of fears and phobias but I don't really want to bore you. Instead, I want to talk about the difference between being fearless and dauntless.

To me, being fearless is not having fear.
Being Dauntless is being strong enough to face your fears and having the determination to stand up to your fears.

Is it possible to be fearless and dauntless? I don't think so, I think that anybody without fears isn't going to be as dedicated as somebody with a few because fears drive us. Maybe you disagree, but I for one believe that even though I have about ten billion zillion fears.

I am still Dauntless.

Thanks for reading and supporting #TeamDauntlessUK. Check out the other posts so far on the tour at the links below.

And guys, never be afraid to face your fears.

Indie April Free Book! Instant Preplay by Karl Fields

Instant PreplayDudes!
Earlier on you may have seen my review for the fantabulous Instant Preplay by Karl Fields. If you didn't, check it out here.

Anyway, I have just been informed that Karl (who from hereon shall be known as He Who Is Totally Awesome) has made the book free for the weekend for you awesome readers.

Yes, you read right. He Who Is Totally Awesome is allowing you guys to read his book for 

Get it while it's free at the following links:

Indie April: Guest Post by Karl Fields, author of Instant Preplay

Instant PreplayToday's Indie April authors is Karl Fields, author of Instant Preplay (review here) and The Odd Job Squad (review here) and J. Meyers, author of Intangible (review here)

Karl has written you guys out a guest post on coming up with the book title, which is awesomely informative and very witty.

In Name Only

One of my favorite parts about writing is deciding on a name. It’s a very good thing then that I’m indie, because as a traditionally published writer, you may have some input regarding the title, but unless you’re a heavy hitter, the publisher gets the final say. Seriously, imagine on the first day of school, when the teacher is taking attendance. As she gets to your son’s name, she stops abruptly. “Christopher? Well, that simply won’t do. From now on, you’ll be…‘Oliver.’” Yeah, it’s kinda like that.

As a writer, I’m a total plotter, except when it comes to titles. For me, they tend to come from nowhere at the most random times. With my first book, The Odd Job Squad, I came up with the title very shortly after the idea for the story itself. The story changed massively during the revision process, but the title never did.

On the other hand, my current book’s working title was Time Shifting, which refers to recording a program on your DVR and watching it later (the story is about a boy who discovers his DVR records shows before they air). I didn’t love it, but since I was still in the first draft phase, I didn’t worry too much about it. Much later – I can’t remember the exact moment or what I was doing – the name Instant Preplay hit me. I thought it over, decided I liked it and that was that.

I’m a fan of titles that use word play or turns of phrases. For instance, I recently came across a book about a 12-year-old girl who, after being struck by lightning realizes she has the ability to talk to dead people. The title? Small Medium at Large. And I love Eats, Shoots & Leaves, a book on punctuation that’s a must if you do any sort of writing.

And as long as I’m addressing writers, here are a couple practical notes on titles:

* Copyrights. Generally speaking, you can’t copyright titles, however trademarks are another matter. You can’t trademark a “single creative work,” but you can trademark a series. So while you’re free to name your book “Twilight” (and several people in addition to Ms. Meyer have), calling your book “Harry Potter & The Great Witch Hunt” or “LOL Cats For Dummies” is going to get you sued. Fast.
* Google is your friend. While there are no legal hurdles preventing you from slapping “Twilight” on your book, for obvious, practical reasons, you might want to avoid doing so. Same with inadvertently using a name that was the title of an evil, terrorist dictator’s manifesto, which a simple search can help you prevent. While you’re at it, Google your characters’ names, too. Yours truly very nearly named one after an, ahem, adult film star. I’m just sayin’.

Thanks Karl, I find it funny that you nearly named a character after an adult star, what was it, Kandy Kane or something!? I think that naming a book is one of the hardest things for me, my work in (very slow) progress has no title yet, I've been thinking about it for a year!

Indie April Review: Instant Preplay by Karl Fields

Instant PreplayIn sixth grade, Logan Styles was a game show contestant with all the right answers. Two years later, the move to his grandmother’s suburban L.A. home wasn’t his idea, but his show-business father took a job in New York and didn’t leave him a choice. Logan certainly wouldn’t have chosen Thousand Oaks, where boredom and new-kid obscurity pose a hazard to his health…until he discovers the DVR attached to his television records shows before they air. 

Suddenly able to “predict” the scores of ballgames, the outcome of reality shows and even the weather, Logan becomes a breakout hit among Sunset Ridge Middle School’s most popular crowd. But his digital ESP comes with a burden. As he learns the DVR’s downside, Logan will have to answer a question tougher than anything he faced on the game show: Is having all the answers all the time everything it’s cracked up to be?

So last year I read and absolutely loved Fields' first book The Odd Job Squad so when this absolutely awesome author approached me with a request to review Instant Preplay I knew that I had to read it. Did I love it as much as his first book? Not quite. Was it still an awesome read? Totally!

What did I love about this book? There's nothing that really stands out as massively impressive and yet I still came away after finishing this book knowing that I was totally entertained and couldn't wait to read more of the authors works. It's a pretty short book and very exciting and event filled so there is no time to get bored, I read it in one sitting and finished it wanting more. I thought that the plot was fantastic, the idea of the DVR that records things that haven't aired yet is awesome, Logan could get tomorrows news today and use what he knows to save lives. I loved the way that he dealt with the powers, not only did he change the future, he also does what any teenage boy would do and get some money out of it!

I also loved Logan's friends. Patrick was funny and a bit of a bad influence, he was such a great character to have around because he acts very cool and confident but he has insecurities. I also really liked Ronnie because she goes through things in the book that a lot of teenage girls go through and Karl got the popular girl heirachy absolutely right!

As before, Fields' writing is fantastic and engaging, the plot and pacing was great and the characters were believable and relatable but also interesting and funny. I absolutely loved this book!

Overall Rating: A-

Book received from the author for review

Indie April Interview: Jennifer Krey, Author of The Hollow of Mont Noir

Today's Indie April author is Jennifer Krey, author of The Hollow of Mont Noir. (review here) 

Jennifer has stopped by to answer a few questions about herself, her book and her experiences and has also given you guys a Smashwords coupon for 50% off the book. (Seriously, go get, it's fantastic!)

Hi Jennifer, thanks for stopping by!
Thanks so much for having me!  I'm thrilled to be here!

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I'm a stay-at-home mom with two little boys, ages 6 months and 2-1/2 years.  I've always enjoyed reading and writing, and I'm very excited to have published my first novel!  I also like cooking and baking, and I'm really into Paula Deen right now.  I know that a lot of her food is totally bad for you, so I try to limit myself to no more than one recipe a week.  I just made Elvis Pie (a peanut butter and banana pie) and it was outstanding!  I also love Elvis, so it was perfect for me!  My family loved it as well, and they're already asking to have it again.

Can you describe The Hollow of Mont Noir in three words?

Without-A-Trace meets Twilight.  (I made Without A Trace one word... is that cheating?)

Why should people read your book?

I think (hope) my book is a fun, easy read.  It's part of a series (the Howl Series) that I see as being four books, and I'm already working on the second book, "Ochre Sky," so hopefully, my readers won't have to wait too long for the next book.

Who is your favorite character in The Hollow of Mont Noir?

Tough question.  If they were actual people, Riordan would probably be my favorite, but I really enjoyed writing for Samantha Bellamy.  She is kind of nasty, and that was fun.  Samantha is my husband's favorite character, too.  He wants me to write a spin-off just about her, but I have too many other ideas in the queue right now.
(Do it! Samantha is such a mean character so a spin of would be awesome!)

Were any of your characters based on real people? (If Riordan was, feel free to send him my way...)

No, none of the characters were based on real people, but someone recently asked me what famous person Riordan might look like.  He would look like River Phoenix (the post-Stand By Me River Phoenix with a bit longer and darker hair).  I adored River Phoenix - he was my first celebrity crush.  I won't say how old I was when he passed away, but I was old enough to be heartbroken.  I still remember where I was when I heard.

Seriously, Lycan or Strigoi? Why?

Well, in the Howl Series, the lycans (werewolves) are basically good and the strigoi (vampires) are basically bad... according to the lycans, anyway, which is the only viewpoint we get in "The Hollow of Mont Noir."  So, in this book, I'm definitely on the lycans' side, but.... things can always change.  That's all I'm going to say.
(Oooh, epic foreshadowing?)

What advice would you give to anybody planning to self-publish?

Enlist the help of your friends to review and proofread your book!  I put out a plea on Facebook, hoping for one or two reviewers, and I actually got a huge response.  I had classmates from high school and college, former colleagues, and friends all offer to read my book before I published it, and I can't thank them enough.  They caught typos I had overlooked even after reading the book fifteen times and offered suggestions to improve the story in many ways.

Thanks for being here today, any last words to see to the readers?
Thank you so much for your support!  I would like to offer all readers of Ink Scratchers a 50% discount on "The Hollow of Mont Noir" ebook through Smashwords.  Enter code BZ99E at the checkout to purchase the book for the promotional price of $0.99 through May 31, 2012.  Thanks again for having me here!

(Isn't she awesome?)

Indie April Review: The Hollow of Mont Noir by Jennifer Krey

The Hollow of Mont NoirAllison Spencer was no stranger to the paranormal. An animal empath, she had the unique capacity to sense the feelings of animals around her - an ability she liked to call "Crittervision." She had never met anyone else with unusual powers and had gotten used to the fact that she was just an eccentric in a world full of normal people.

Allison just wanted to be a typical teenager. But with a missing brother, a beastly stalker and the possibility that she's not completely human, her life was anything but typical.

If there is any book that proves that you shouldn't judge a book by the cover (or an overly long synopsis that I totally cut down for this review) it's this book. Seriously, this book was great and I loved it and you totally wouldn't believe it from that cover, which is a little boring.

To start with, I wasn't sure that I'd really enjoy this book. I was interested from the start but wasn't absolutely gripped, Allison didn't seem like a very interesting character and I thought I knew exactly what was going to happen but by the end I loved Allison and I couldn't put the book down because I didn't know how things were going to turn it, it's just one of those books that aren't fantastically original but still completely grab you.

I think that I really started to like the book after we meet Riordan, maybe that is just because he's so sweet and such a lovely character or it could be because the romance began to develop at a steady rate and I loved to read scenes with Allie and Riordan despite the fact that there were certain behaviours that reminded me of my least favorite YA couple (Edward and Bella) but at least his protectiveness was actually cute and not abusive... I don't know why I loved the two of them, my usual tastes in YA romance says that I shouldn't but I just did!

I really enjoyed Krey's writing, whilst certain characters came off sounding a little too formal I loved how well she managed to write from Allie's point of view. Allie's grief over her brother rings true and her sadness over her parents arguing is so realistic, I think Allie is the type of character that many teenagers can relate to, I know I found it so easy to slip into her shoes for a while.

Overall, The Hollow of Mont Noir was such a fun and fast read with characters that rang so true to me, I enjoyed the romance and will definitely be reading the second in the series, Ochre Sky when it comes out.

Overall Rating: B

Book received as an ebook for review from the author.

Indie April Review: Intangible by J. Meyers

IntangibleTwins Sera and Luke Raine have a well-kept secret—she heals with a touch of her hand, he sees the future. All their lives they’ve helped those in need on the sly. They’ve always thought of their abilities as being a gift. 

Then Luke has a vision that Sera is killed. That gift they’ve always cherished begins to feel an awful lot like a curse. Because the thing about Luke’s ability? He’s always right. And he can’t do anything about it.

Despite the fact that I absolutely support indie authors (I mean look at the feature that I'm doing this week, <3 Indie April) I find that a great number of the indie titles that I read for review are just not good enough to be put out into the YA market. With Intangible I didn't find that at all, this book seemed as polished and perfect as any published book and to be honest is one of the best titles that I have read in a long time.

If I had anything that I would complain about in this book it is the slow pacing at some parts of the book, the story line was gripping and the pace never dropped to the point where I even slightly wanted to put it down but I was willing more action to happen at those parts. i think it was just because I kind of knew where the story is going from the beginning because of Luke's vision and whilst I was interested in how it got there I just wanted to get there and see how it all turned out. When the action did come it was fantastically written, on-edge-of-seat gripping and so entertaining.

I love the range of paranormal characters in the book. There is Luke, a Seer who has visions of the future, Sera is a Healer who can heal and change people, Marc has a twisted past and can hear people's thoughts and Jonas is a sexy vampire that I just loved *licks lips* and you I'm not a vampire kind of girl there is also Fae who is paranormal, I thought it was just going to be one of those stories with loads of para-creatures that I just don't care about but each one had their own personality and voice that set them apart from others, so congratulations to Meyers for creating such a diverse and gripping cast.

I was slightly disappointed by the romance, I was never a Marc fan just because of what he was hiding despite the fact that being around Sera changed him I could just not trust the guy... never mind, at least I had Jonas to swoon over! Thankfully, the romance is only a minor part of this book and doesn't overtake the other plot so I didn't have to love the romance to love the book.

Overall, a great story with great characters and great writing and great... everything aside from the pacing which was just good and the romance which I just didn't like. I think that J. Meyers is a fantastic author to start Indie April because she has everything indie authors need to succeed - talent, originality and dedication in getting the reviews!

Overall Rating: A

Book received from the author for review.

Indie April Interview: J Meyers, Author of Intangible

Today's Indie April Authors are Jennifer Krey, author of The Hollow of Mont Noir (review here) and J. Meyers, author of Intangible (review here).

J. Meyers has answered a few questions about herself, her book and her experience with self publishing. Dudes, this lady is awesome, her book is awesome and this interview is awesome!

Hi J, Thanks for taking part in Indie April!
Thanks so much, Jade! I'm thrilled to be a part of it. :D :D

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
To the depth of my soul I am someone who must create, and that shows up in every aspect of my life. I've been an actor, singer, portrait artist, and writer in my professional life. I love to bake, sew, and knit when I'm not reading or writing. And I'm creating the life I want to live with my husband and four very fabulous young kids.

Can you describe Intangible in three words?
Gifted teen twins

What makes Intangible unique?
I think one thing that makes it different is that the most significant relationship in the book is the twin bond between Sera and Luke. It also takes some unexpected twists and turns, and the humans are not helpless against the paranormals for a change.
(It's true, this book is so exciting and emotional)

Who is your favourite character in Intangible and why?
Oh dear. I don't have a favourite. I really, really don't. :-) But I will tell you why I love Sera. She's intelligent, funny, and strong. Sometimes she needs help, sometimes she's doing the saving. She makes mistakes and does stupid things for the right reasons (and sometimes the wrong reasons), just like everyone. She has a good heart and a really fantastic gift--one that I'd take in a heartbeat.
(I love Sera too!)

Why did you choose to go the self-publishing route?
When I started writing Intangible, I pictured myself going traditional. But with the digital revolution and all the changes that stirred up in the publishing industry, it no longer made sense to do that. So almost a year ago, I made the decision to not query any agents and go indie instead. I will be honest and tell you that it felt very scary at first. But the more I thought about it, the more I read about it, the more it made sense to me to do it myself. It made better business sense to me, and while writing books is my craft, it is also my business. And I'm so happy to have done it myself, to be in control of my career. It's a great place to be. :-)
(I have so much respect for authors like J, who choose to take a scary route and take control!)

Was it difficult to self-publish, can you tell us about that experience?
I wouldn't say it was difficult, but it's definitely been a LOT of work. I am lucky in that I've worked in publishing for many, many years (as a freelance proofreader, copy editor, and writer) so I am well versed in all the steps a book goes through between when the writing is finished to publication. That's given me a huge advantage in being able to create a polished book. I'm grateful to have that knowledge and experience because I know the importance of an editor, a copy editor, a proof reader. And I know that the proofreader absolutely must be someone who hasn't already read the book. You need fresh eyes on the manuscript to spot those little mistakes that are so easy to miss when you've read it over and over again.

I also learned the immense benefit of beta readers--something I was not familiar with before. I kept seeing writers thanking their beta readers, and had to look it up to see what it meant. And I'm so glad I did. Betas, if you don't know, are people who read your book once it's as good as you can make it (so, definitely not your first draft!) and give feedback about what's wrong with it, what's missing, what's not working. This is a crucial step in putting out a quality book, and one that should never be skipped. (Make sure you do it before the proofreading! Proofreading is the absolute last step before you click Publish.) I had about 8 beta readers. They each approached the book differently, they saw different things wrong with it, and their suggestions were always right on. I could not believe the difference in my book between pre-betas and post-betas, after I made all the changes from their feedback. Huge difference! It was a much better book by far, fuller, rounder, more complete.

Are you a big reader of young adult fiction yourself?
Oh my goodness, yes! It's just about all I read--the only other things I read is some MG fiction and some non-fiction books that pertain to my life (like parenting books--I'm on a constant quest to be a better parent). I *love* YA fiction. I fell in love with it about three or four years ago. I read a ton of YA as I percolated the idea for this book. I think YA is truly the best writing and most creative work out there right now.

What books being released this year are you dying to get your hands on?
I'm so very excited to read Kristin Cashore's Bitterblue. I *loved* her previous two books, and am really excited for it!
(Oh my gosh! Me too!)

Thanks so much for taking part, any last things you'd like to say to the readers?
If you've made it this far through the interview, thank you! :-) And if any of you read Intangible I hope that you really enjoy it. Please come by my site and say hi. ( I'm loving getting to know readers from all over the world--that's the coolest thing to come out of writing this book. And thanks again, Jade! You totally rock. :-)

Indie April Review: The Plight and Plot of Princess Penny by Michael Mullin

The Plight and Plot of Princess PennyFrom the author of "8: The Previously Untold Story of the Previously Unknown 8th Dwarf" comes an original fairy tale about a teenage princess who hires the witch from "The Frog Prince" to get revenge on a Mean Girl at school. (Intended for YA readers and up.)

Oooh, I love what Michael Mullin does with these TaleSpins books, he completely changes the story around. In his first TaleSpins book he gives us Creepy, the 8th dwarf but Princess Penny isn't from any fairy story that I know though there are references to other fairy stories in the pages.

This is a quick and fun read, it took me around ten to fifteen minutes to read it and I felt fully satisfied after I was finished. I don't think I enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed 8 mainly because this was a little lengthier and I'm not sure that the rhyming really worked as well with this one as it was a long tale in itself but I still really did like this for a quick inermission read.

I love the whole fairy tale-ness of it! Witches and transformation spells and handsome boys and princesses. I also really loved the touch of modern on this though, Penny is alienated and has a learning disorder and I really liked how well this will resonate with readers.

Overall, a great addition to the Tale Spins collection. I love reading these short, rhyming books because they grab me and entertain me when I'm not in a mood for the longer books. I don't know whether the rhyming in this book worked as well as it did in 8 though.

Overall Rating: B-

Book received for review from the author.

Indie April: Character Post by Michael Mullin, author of the Plight and Plot of Princess Penny

The Plight and Plot of Princess PennyToday's Indie April authors are Susan Kaye Quinn, author of Open Minds (review here) and Michael Mullin, author of The Plight and Plot of Princess Penny (review here) and 8: the Previously Untold Story of Creepy the Dwarf (review here)

I am absolutely in stitches over this character post by Michael Mullin, which is by Creepy the 8th Dwarf (from Michael's first TaleSpins book, 8) about princess Penny (from The Plight and Plot of Princess Penny).

I’m not a big fan of blogs because most of them are pretty lame. That said, this one’s pretty cool, so I agreed to write here today. I’m not looking for any more fame or anything, but I am glad my story is finally out there . . . you know, told . . . or written. Whatever.

The author, that Mullin guy, was okay. He did his homework, including a kind of interview with me. (He doesn’t talk in rhymes, thank god. That would have been beyond annoying.) The important thing is he got the story right. And I guess I’ve been asked here today to tell you how that happened.

Guest Editor’s Note: It was at this point we informed Creepy that the blog’s day -- and his guest post -- were to be about The Plight and Plot of Princess Penny, Michael Mullin’s other book.
Of course. That figures. I guess it won’t be long until I’m forgotten again. Whatever. Probably for the best.

Yes, I read the Penny story and yes, I know her. (Don’t ask how; I just do.) The truth is she’s pretty cool. Plenty of people try to do the ‘‘I’m different’’ thing, and it’s just epically fake. Here’s a good rule of thumb: If someone’s ‘‘I’m different’’ vibe comes with any sort of ‘‘Look at me!’’ vibe, you can pretty much roll your eyes and go back to the game on your smartphone.

But Penny is the real deal. She went through a lot of weird stuff. I suppose she’s going to be more famous than I ever will be, and that’s cool. I’m not into that. Neither is she, actually, but she’ll probably deal with it better, being from a royal family and all.

Part of me wants her to turn into some pop-star ‘‘Lady PP’’ diva so I can just hate her and get it over with. But she won’t; I know that’s not her scene. Her parents rule a kingdom, and she’s never gotten full of herself, so I doubt any amount of book sales would change her.

I guess the main thing we have in common is that we come from this other realm, and people didn’t treat us very nicely. But you gotta be yourself no matter what. I don’t say that here to be preachy -- I’m just talking about what made our situations (mine and Penny’s) worth reading about. It sucks that so much of life seems to be the individual vs. the crowd. Not sure why that is, but I’ll bet anything in my basement room that it won’t be a crowd that changes things.

The truth is there’s a crowd for everyone. And by ‘‘crowd’’ I don’t mean fans at a baseball game. Your crowd can be any size, and let’s face it, the smaller it is, the more meaning it has. In other words, your best friends are the ones who qualified before ‘‘friend’’ became a verb. Know what I mean?

Thanks for taking the time.

~ Creepy (the 8th Dwarf)

Indie April Review: Open Minds by Susan Kaye Quinn

Open Minds (Mindjack Trilogy, #1)When everyone reads minds, a secret is a dangerous thing to keep. 

Sixteen-year-old Kira Moore is a zero, someone who can’t read thoughts or be read by others. Zeros are outcasts who can’t be trusted, leaving her no chance with Raf, a regular mindreader and the best friend she secretly loves. When she accidentally controls Raf’s mind and nearly kills him, Kira tries to hide her frightening new ability from her family and an increasingly suspicious Raf. But lies tangle around her, and she’s dragged deep into a hidden world of mindjackers, where having to mind control everyone she loves is just the beginning of the deadly choices before her

Can I just say that this book is the epitome of awesome? In fact, I nearly exploded due to the utter awesomeness of this book... have you realised how much I enjoyed this book yet? Yeah, it was a lot.

Susan Kaye Quinn has really pulled it out of the bag here, this book was so fast paced and exciting that I read in in two sittings in about three hours and only reluctantly stopped reading at the end of the first sitting because I had to get some actual college work done. I was gripped from page one and never wanted this book to end because I loved Kira so much and Raf was gorgeous and Simon was such a flawed and layered character. I never knew where this book was going to go and everytime I thought I knew what was coming I was totally disproven by another plot twist. all of the plot twists were essential to the story though. 

I just loved the characters, Kira grew so much in this book from a zero, excluded and weak to the kick-ass Kira that saves people and this is because she experiences so much. First love, betrayal, grief... all written so well that we can see how Kira is learning from these experiences. I absolutely loved Raf,  he was sweet and caring but also flawed in that he pushes Kira away at times and gets jealous. Simon was such a difficult character for me to like but I loved how layered he was andeved how the reader never really gets to know his true thoughts until his end. even Laney and Xander, minor characters, were developed enough that i really cared about them.

Overall, this book was made of extreme amounts of awesome. Read it.

Overall rating: A+

Book received from the author for review

Indie April: Guest Post by Susan Kaye Quinn, author of Open Minds

Open Minds (Mindjack Trilogy, #1)Today's Indie April authors Susan Kaye Quinn, author of Open Minds (review here) and Michael Mullin, author of The Plight and Plot of Princess Penny (review here) and 8: the Previously Untold Story of Creepy the Dwarf (review here)

I am extremely excited to feature this guest post from Susan Kaye Quinn because it's about the dystopian genre, my favorite genre, so enjoy!

Dystopias: Forging Hope for Humanity

I have always read dystopian novels, before they were a popular thing (recently in young adult novels), and before I even really thought of “dystopia” as a label. I just called the futuristic tales of mind-bending alternate realities that I loved “science fiction.”

Stories like I, Robot by Asimov (originally published in 1950), one of the first stories that made me really think about what it meant to be human. A recurring theme of the science fiction of my youth was to examine humanity through the lens of a not-human character (in this case a robot), and I soa ked up stories like this, filling my spongy adolescent brain with concepts like the Three Laws of Robotics. Asimov’s Foundation series similarly blew my mind with the idea that mathematical predictions of the future couldn’t guarantee a utopia, as long as the flawed nature of humanity still existed. This is where I first understood the term “dystopia” as what usually happened when humans tried to monkey with society to make it “better.”

What I loved about these stories was that they were thought experiments. They took an idea and ran with it, playing it out into the future. What if robots really became sentient? What if we could really predict the future. Not only did I enjoy the mental gymnastics that went with these (usually cautionary) tales, I felt like they were the “equipment for living” that Kenneth Burke speaks of. I used these stories to form my young adult thoughts about the future—what it should be, and what it should not.

Many people call my novel Open Minds a dystopia, although I didn’t think of it explicitly as that when I was writing it. I thought more in terms of these classic SF stories that have long filled my head. I wanted to take one thing—what if everyone really could read minds?—and play it out. I shouldn’t have been surprised when it turned into an exploration of how the circumstances of the world may change, but human beings fundamentally remain the same.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth (The Forest of Hands and Teeth, #1)I think this is the understructure of the current dystopian craze—classical science fiction, retooled for our modern era and sensibilities. Some say the dystopian stories of today are a bleak reflection of our post-911 world, a mirror held up to our fears of environmental disasters, terrorism, and pandemic. I think the world we live in is complex, dangerous, and at times horrifying. I also think it shines with the radiance of aid flowing to natural disasters, soldiers building schools, and an increasing intolerance of hatred as an ideology. This complicated world is rekindling a need for the kinds of thought experiments found in dystopian stories, rather than the world actually spiraling into the abyss.
Across the Universe (Across the Universe, #1)And I don’t think the dystopian stories of today are any more dismal than the classic stories of the past. Some may be bleak (Forest of Hands and Teeth), but there’s almost always a thread of hope (Across the Universe). Because even when things are dire, even though evil may grip our world, there is always someone who will rebel against the wrongness and attempt to set it right. Hope is a fundamental part of what it means to be human, and stories that forge hope out of the most difficult situations will always be compelling.

And I will want to read (and write) them.

Susan Kaye Quinn is a former rocket scientist, but she writes young adult novels because she loves writing even more than shiny tech gadgets. While her most recent novel Open Minds has been gathering up fans of paranormal science fiction, she’s been busy working on the sequel, Closed Hearts. You can find her on her blog, Twitter or Facebook.

Open Minds (Book One of the Mindjack Trilogy) is available in e-book and print (Amazon, Barnes & Noble).

Starting tomorrow!

Ruins of Noe Blog Tour: Reviews for Brigitta of the White Forest and the Ruins of Noe

Since I read both of these books for this blog tour, I have decided to do a two mini reviews in one post, rather than two separate long reviews.

Brigitta of the White Forest
 Brigitta is a young Water Faerie from the village-nest of Tiragarrow. She's confused, moody, and anxious about going through "The Change" as she doesn't see how destiny markings on her wings should determine her life's path.

A few days before the annual Festival of the Elements, Brigitta is flying an errand with Himalette, her tag-a-long sister, when a mysterious curse turns everyone in the White Forest to stone -- except for the two of them. The sisters have no idea why they were not cursed, but they do know if they don't turn everyone back in time for the festival rituals, the Hourglass of Protection will run out and so will its protective field around the forest.

I have to admit that when I first started this book I began to wonder if maybe it was too young for me, especially since I'd just finished a much deeper and darker book. It took me about twenty pages to realise that I was wrong - it was just the fun and lighter read that I needed to wind down a little and by 100 pages I was loving it. I loved the world that Danika Dinsmore made from the faerie village of Tiragarrow which was carefree and magical to the wild forests outside of the village which were wild and dangerous. Despite the fact that this book wasn't as deep as I usually read there was a lot of emotion there and a great character arc. Brigitta definitely grows from a faerie that doesn't know what her calling is to a brave young woman that saves her village but I especially liked Himmy as a character as she goes from a cowardly little sister to a strong and brave girl! 

Overall Rating: B

The Ruins of NoeA child born with no destiny: one of many signs that the White Forest faeries have lost touch with the Ethereals, the Ancient Ones. High Priestess Ondelle is convinced by an old proverb that one faerie is fated to travel to the former home of the Ancients, the Ruins of Noe, to find the answer. That faerie, she believes, is Brigitta. 

Ondelle and Brigitta set off to save their forest once again, but when they arrive in Noe they discover something they never learned from any faerie tale. Why had this dark secret been kept from them? Why in the name of Faweh had the Ancients left some faeries behind?

I was so worried that the end of the first book saw the end of Briggy's adventuring days and the beginning of boring studious days, I was so wrong! In this installment Brigitta goes on a whole new quest which is even more exciting than the previous one! I found that this book was a bit darker than the first in the serious and also because Briggy has grown a little I began to see this book as teen fiction rather than middle grade which boosted my enjoyment. This book is finished very cleanly but I still cannot wait for the third in the series because I just love Briggy and Ondelle so much. Ondelle was a great character and we get to see her a lot more in this one which is great because she is such and intriguing character and we get to know her a little better.

Overall Rating: B+

Brigitta of the White Forest was published March 1st and The Ruins of Noe will be published May 1st by Hydra House.
Many thanks to the author for allowing me to read and review it.

The Ruins of Noe Blog Tour: Interview with Danika Dinsmore

Today I am happy to be hosting a spot on the Ruins of Noe blog tour. The Ruins of Noe is a middle grade to young adult fairy book which is so cute and adventurous! Check out my review later!
Right now I am extremely happy to be introducing Danika, who has answered a few questions for me.

Hi Danika, thank you for being here today! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Danika DinsmoreThanks for having me, Jade.  
That's a really open-ended question. Let's see... I have an MFA from the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. I'm not kidding. I'd love to get my PhD some day, but in a foreign city. And it would have to be a non-stoggy sort of program. I want to teach kindergarten at a University level. I don't like rules. If someone tells me something can't be done, it makes me want to do it. My favourite word is pamplemousse (my favourite animal name-word is hedgehog). I can't imagine living in a house without a cat. I'm doing what I love to do and am grateful every day for it.
How's that?

Can you describe The Ruins of Noe in three words?
Ack! (wait, does that count?). Imaginative, suspenseful, heart-breaking

What was your inspiration for the series?
Several years ago I decided I wanted to write a coming-of-age story about two faerie sisters. I wanted kids to be able to relate to them and for the faeries (and the children) to go on a true adventure. I've always loved coming-of-age stories and quest stories, and especially love stories that have both: character arc and adventure.

I originally wrote it as a screenplay, and I wrote it while working with two girls (who had a Himmy/Briggy kind of relationship, even though they weren't sisters) on the set of a film called Desolation Sound. It was in an isolated area in the forest. Talk about giving me the inspiration to write the story. One of the girls gave me the idea for the giant caterpillar.

What is it that you do on set?
I've done everything from writing and producing to transportation and set dec in the indie film world. In the service film world, I'm a Studio Teacher, which means I'm in charge of the health, safety, morals, and education of children while they are on set.

Did you originally plan to write a book targeted at a younger audience ?
Like I mentioned above, it was originally a screenplay. And yes, I wanted something for a younger audience because my (former) agents kept asking me to write something more commercial. Seriously, this was meant to be a commercial family film so I could finally sell a screenplay. Little did I know I would fall in love with it and that it would take over my life.

Who is your favourite character in the White Forest books and why?
Well, Brigitta has to be my favourite because we're growing up together, so I feel extremely close to her. However, if you asked me to pick my favourite non-Briggy character right now it's Ondelle. There's a big part of me in her. I understand her best, but the reader never knows what's going on internally with her, because it's Briggy's story. I've had to convey her internal world with her action and dialogue. BUT, all that's about to change with Book Three (she says mysteriously).

What was the biggest difficulty in getting the book published?
This is not a career for the faint of heart, the easily ego-bruised, or the gotta-get-rich-fast crowd. I'd say getting published isn't the difficult part in the long run. I believe anyone, if they commit to it, can get published. It's selling the book afterward that is the hard part. It is 75% of my job right now. Why should someone who's never heard of me spend their money on my book rather than on a latte and a slice of pizza or on 500,000 other books about there? Books are an investment of time and energy (and pizza tastes good now). So, I try to connect with people in person as much as possible (students, parents, teachers, librarians, etc) in schools and at events. It takes a lot of effort. But I'd rather be doing this than anything else!

Who is your biggest inspiration?
Children. They never cease to amaze me. And they are wise. They are onto us. The world's gonna be okay. (I love that answer!)

What books being released this year are you dying to get your hands on?
The fourth book in Cinda Williams Chima's Seven Realms series. I thought it was a trilogy. I literally cried out when I got to the end of Book Three and realized I had to wait ALMOST A YEAR until the 4th one was released.
I want to check out China Mielville's new YA novel RAILSEA. It sounds great (although I was not a big fan of Un Lun Dun, his middle grade book, I do know that wasn't his best work)
I'm also curious about J.K. Rowling's adult novel THE CASUAL VACANCY. I'm not sure what to expect. It intrigues me.
John Green's THE FAULT IN OUR STARS just came out a few months ago. I've yet to read a book of his with a female protag, so I'm glad he's done it. Plus, it sound wicked funny in that John Green way.
Lastly - Libba Bray's THE DIVINERS! 

Thanks for being here, anything else you would like to say to my readers?
We couldn't be authors without you. :-)(Nawwwh!)

Review: Spirit's Princess by Esther Friesner

Spirit's Princess (Spirit's Princess, #1)Himiko the beloved daughter of a chieftain in third century Japan has always been special. The day she was born there was a devastating earthquake, and the tribe's shamaness had an amazing vision revealing the young girl's future—one day this privileged child will be the spiritual and tribal leader over all of the tribes. Book One revolves around the events of Himiko's early teen years—her shaman lessons, friendships, contact with other tribes, and journey to save her family after a series of tragic events. Once again, Esther Friesner masterfully weaves together history, myth, and mysticism in a tale of a princess whose path is far from traditional.

Gah, I am so torn over how I feel about this book because there were aspects that I loved and things that I found seriously lacking. I feel like this book was just setting up the plot line for the next in the series as we finally get some type of plot near the end and a bit o a cliffhanger but for me the pacing in this book was painful, I couldn't find a solid plot line so I don't really know what things I was supposed to be picking up on. I maybe would have liked this book a lot more if there was actually a plot to follow or it was shorter but for me it was like 500 pages of world building and I ended up gritting my teeth and forcing my way through it because there were some things that I loved.

I absolutely loved the history in this book, I'm no expert on early Japanese history and I'm sure that if I was I'd have been finding wrong bits everywhere but for me it all seemed so real, little things that were thrown in took me back to that time in that country and I really enjoyed that. I also loved the spiritual aspect with the shamans and healers and the spirits, that was developed so well and I loved reading the parts where Friesner wnt into detail about the Shamanism.

The characters were also pretty good, Himiko was independent, sometimes a little too independent but I liked her spark. I also really liked Lady Yama, the shaman, she was such a teacher and inspiration to Himiko and I loved their interactions. I also loved the personalities that were given to Himiko's family, her mother and step-mothers and her father as well as her three brothers, they were fantastic.

I probably will read a sequel to this and I am so torn about what to rate this book because to be honest I should be giving it a low grade but I just loved the world and the characters so much that it kind of counterweights that the pacing was difficult and the plotline was non-existant...


Overall rating: C-

Released 24th April by Random House Children's Books.
Book received as an eGalley for review from NetGalley