Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Name of the Wind~Patrick Rothfuss | Review

Title: The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle #1)
Author: Patrick Rothfuss
Genre: Fantasy
Length: 662 Pages (Hardback)
Publication: March 2007
My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Synopsis From Goodreads
Told in Kvothe's own voice, this is the tale of the magically gifted young man who grows to be the most notorious wizard his world has ever seen. The intimate narrative of his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, his years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-ridden city, his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a legendary school of magic, and his life as a fugitive after the murder of a king form a gripping coming-of-age story unrivaled in recent literature. A high-action story written with a poet's hand, The Name of the Wind is a masterpiece that will transport readers into the body and mind of a wizard.

This novel was very hard for me to rate. I finally settled on four stars since I did enjoy this novel a lot. But there were certain aspects of it that I just didn't enjoy. So let's get to some of my thoughts. 

First of all, I do really like Rothfuss' writing style. I don't think it's the most brilliant writing I've ever read, but it is quite beautiful in parts. The style of the novel is also interesting. I like how it's told as a story and that we get to see some wild exaggerations of that story during the interludes on occasion. 

The main thing I would have liked more from this novel was characterization. I love character driven stories and I felt that this one was somewhat lacking. I did really like many of the characters, I just didn't feel there was quite enough done with them. Kvothe is the only one that I felt I got to know, and even that was marginal and clouded by his own perceptions of himself. His friends Sim and Wil were interesting, and he tried to give us insight into their personalities, and I loved their love and devotion to each other, but they just weren't there enough. I wanted more. 

And Auri. I felt like she was kind of thrown in suddenly and then disappeared for chapters at a time just to reappear again. I thought she was fun and I'm interested to see where she goes in the story, I just think her being thrown in was kind of random. Yes, she had some important scenes, but why is she there? 

The other characters I'm most interested in are Fela (I really wanted more with her and was hoping for much more than I got), Mola (again, I kind of expected more), and Elodin (he was hilarious and I would have loved more of his eccentricities). Denna was the only other character that got a lot of attention. She really frustrated me at first and I really didn't like her. She grew on me much more toward the end of the novel, although I still don't love her. 

I'm really interested to see where the rest of the story goes. The pacing of this one was a bit slow for me and I honestly think that it could have easily been shortened, but overall it was interesting. More time within the school itself and with the Masters and other students would have been a nice touch. It kind of seemed like the story got lost in the middle and wandered for a bit before finally finding its way back to the main story. 

There were a lot of interesting things in this novel and I often found myself intrigued by the story. For its length it was a fairly quick read. When I would sit down to read I was surprised by how much I would get through in just twenty or thirty minutes. The writing flows well, even in parts that I found poorly paced. For readers of fantasy this is a good one to try. I'm looking forward to seeing where the rest of the story goes.

There's honestly not a whole lot to say about the story. We are mostly inside Kvothe's head, reliving his life with him. We get to see what formed him into the legend that he currently is. We don't even really know what the legend is all about. At least not completely. I kind of like stories like that though. It gives me something to discover. I can form my opinions as I go. So I guess I will see what I think in the future books. 

If you've read this let me know what you thought in the comments!   

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Versatile Blogger Award

I was nominated for this award by the fabulous Britt from Tara Belle Talking and the lovely Amanda from The Darlington Bookworm. Thank you for nominating me!
So let's get started with some rules.
*Nominate other relatively new bloggers.

*Let the bloggers know that you've nominated them.

*Share ten random facts about yourself.

*Thank the blogger who nominated you.

*Add the versatile blogger award to your post. 

Ten Facts About Me
1) I love to ride horses and I used to ride in shows. I mostly rode in hunter classes and dressage (which I describe as ballet on horseback). 

2) I have a degree in mathematics and currently teach math at a junior college. 

3) I'm a writer and plan to publish my first work this year.  It will likely be a collection of short stories and poetry.

4) The The Lion King is my favorite movie of all time, although I am not a big fan of Disney or animated movies. 

5) Brandon Sanderson and Dean Koontz are my favorite authors (an easy one, as I'm sure you can see that from my blog or goodreads page).

6) I love the ocean. I love the way it spreads out before you as if there were no end. Someday I want to own a yacht so I can live at sea for extended periods of time (and avoid all the people on a cruise ship).

7) My favorite number is 7 and my favorite square is 49. :)

8) The first thing I ever remember reading by myself is Green Eggs and Ham. 

9) David Cook is my favorite singer and I've been to see him in concert three times. The most recent was Valentine's Day and I'm already looking forward to seeing him again in the future. 

10) I auditioned for American Idol once, just to say I had. I didn't make it past the first round, but the experience was great. 


2) Saloni from My Fantabulous Bookshelf  

3) Cindy from The Book Feels  

4) Anne from Anne Books 

5) Cecilie from Little Miss Cucie and Her Readings 

I think you're supposed to nominate 15 people, but I couldn't think of anyone else who hasn't already been nominated. So I'm sticking with five. Deal with it. :)

I guess that's it for now! Thanks again to Britt and Amanda for nominating me!

Tuesday Talks | Disabling Comments on BookTube

Tuesday Talks is a weekly discussion created and hosted by Janie and Janelle. You can find the goodreads group here and start participating in the discussions. There's a new bookish topic each week and it's always fun to discuss them together.

Disabling Comments on BookTube
Personally I don't understand why anyone (particularly a booktuber) would want to disable comments. The best thing about talking about books is being able to get a response. I like interacting with my booktube friends through comments. Personally I would never disable comments on my videos. 

Do I think it's wrong to disable comments? Not wrong, per-se. I guess it depends on the person. Would I watch videos knowing I couldn't comment on them? Maybe a few, but if another booktuber didn't allow comments on any of their videos I would be less likely to continue watching their videos. It comes back to liking interaction. I want to tell people what I think about the books they are talking about. 

Sure we don't like the same books and some people might comment on our videos and tell us how much they hate our favorite books. So what. It's not going to dampen my enjoyment any. If I like a book I like a book. And just because we don't agree on what the best books are doesn't mean we have to be rude about it. We can state our opinions without being rude. We don't all have the same likes and dislikes. 

So do I think that comments should be disabled? No, I don't. The best thing about being a part of the online community is being involved with that community. Interaction is key and what better way to interact than through comments on yours or others videos? I love knowing what people think! 

So what do you think? Is it ok to disable your comments? Do you disable comments? Why would you want to disable comments if you do or have thought about doing so? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Prodigy~Marie Lu | Review

Title: Prodigy (Legend #2)
Author: Marie Lu
Genre: YA Dystopia
Length: 371 Pages (Paperback)
Publication: January 2013
My Rating: 4/5 Stars

This was my second reading of this novel. I read it for the first time back in 2013 and really enjoyed it then. (I'm still wondering how I was able to wait for Champion, that ending man.)

Prodigy picks up shortly after the events of Legend with June and Day running from Republic soldiers and trying to gain assistance from the rebel group the Patriots. Once they meet up with the Patriots, June and Day are given a very important mission that will change the entire political structure surrounding the Republic. 

I found myself not as into this novel as I was into Legend during my recent re-read of that novel. I'm not sure if it's my mind set at the time of reading or if I just prefer the first novel slightly. I did still really enjoy this novel. Tess was very annoying in this one. I also remember feeling from my first reading of the trilogy (and it hasn't changed this time either) that the characters are far too old for their years. June and Day seem like they are in their twenties and not fifteen. Even Tess, while immature, seems much older than thirteen (thirteen!). 

If the age thing were handled in such a way that it seemed everyone grew up rapidly because of their society, that would be one thing. But I never felt that. Eden, at ten, is portrayed as a child, but these other kids only three to five years older are considered adults. The divide just seems too wide. It just never made sense to me. I think the series would be better if they characters were just a bit older, maybe even only seventeen or eighteen. 

Don't let the rest of my review fool you, I really love this book. I do think it's a bit slow at times and doesn't add as much as it might to the story, but it's a great bridge to the final installment. I also remember loving it the first time around. The characters, for the most part, are great. I even enjoy how both June and Day questions themselves. They both have so many demons in their pasts and this makes them seem more realistic. Day just needs to work on trust and June needs to work on speaking her mind and feelings. 

Overall this is a very fun read. It's the perfect trilogy for someone who loves politically driven dystopias. And the love triangles in this series aren't even that bad. And I hate love triangles. The ending of this novel will shred you apart if you feel anything for the two leads and their struggles with their relationship. Lu's writing is powerful and this ending just pushes that point further.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Shadow In The Moonlight and Falling Leaves Don't Weep~Joshua Blum | Review

A Shadow In The Moonlight and Falling Leaves Don't Weep are two short stories by Joshua Blum written as companions to his novel The Thirteenth Hour. The first acts as a prequel to the novel and the second as more of an epilogue. You can find information regarding the novel on its goodreads page here.

*I received free copies of these stories in exchange for an honest review*
A Shadow In The Moonlight follows a nameless hunter who accidentally stumbles upon a wizard attempting a spell for invisibility. The spell, however, is intended for only one person and anyone who interferes becomes more shadow than man, unable to abide the sunlight and afraid to interact with people. There is no known cure for the man who becomes a shadow and so the hunter must live in exile. 

We also meet Lavinia, an orphan who has always been neglected and left to endure her a life of loneliness. When she decides to run away the sounds of the forest scare her into running and she falls, sustaining many injuries. Our nameless hunter forces himself, despite his fears, to rescue the injured girl and help restore her to goo health. 

This story was a very enjoyable and quick read. I found the idea of the miscast spell and man becoming shadow very intriguing and I could see it being a very interesting full length novel, given more thought and detail. It was definitely intriguing. And the wizard was a funny addition. Although he made very few appearances in the story, he was very entertaining. The hunter and Lavinia were also interesting. Sometimes short stories are hard to connect with because it feels like characters are thrown at you and you have no time to connect. I think Blum did a nice job with these characters and giving you ways to connect with them even without a lot of background or development. 

Falling Leaves Don't Weep is the musings of an aging king as he contemplates his life and the lives of the falling leaves outside his window. This one is much shorter than the first, only a couple thousand words. Again, I felt that the information given allowed a connection to the king that I don't often see in such short works. Perhaps I just need to get more versed in a good short story. This one acts as an epilogue of sorts to the full length novel, or so I understand. 

Blum wanted these to be prequel and epilogue, but to also stand alone. I have not personally read The Thirteenth Hour yet (although I intend to in the future), but found these stories very enjoyable. I believe that Blum hit his mark with these two. I will have to wait until after I read the novel to see how they add to that longer story, but I think they are enjoyable in their own right.  As with any other work there were some typos here and there, but nothing that detracted from my overall enjoyment and the stories kept my attention.

Very fun and fast. A nice break from longer works that talk in circles. Direct and to the point.    

Assassin's Apprentice~Robin Hobb | Review

Title: Assassin's Apprentice (The Farseer #1)
Author: Robin Hobb
Genre: Fantasy
Length: 435 Pages (Paperback)
Publication: 1996
My Rating: 4/5 Stars

This book follows Fitz, the illegitimate son of then king-in-waiting Chivalry. At six Fitz is thrown into the care of Burrich, the stable master, and later becomes apprentice to the king's assassin when the king takes notice of the boy. 

This book started out very slowly. The first few chapters were somewhat hard to get through. The magic, what magic there is, was introduced slowly and hard to distinguish. There is the Wit (which I see as a communication with animals that is not accepted) and the Skill (which is being able to communicate with other humans and manipulate their thoughts). Very little of either was actually discussed in the novel. After getting past the first three or four chapters, the novel started to pick up. 

The novel reads more like a Victorian era novel (think Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, and those types) than it does a modern fantasy. Fitz is recalling his story for us the readers, telling us about his younger days. The narrative style was not something I particularly enjoyed for a fantasy novel, but it kept my interest. I enjoy the Victorian style novels, I've just never experience a fantasy written quite in that manner. 

While reading this novel I was constantly going back and forth between ratings. At some points I was almost sure I would rate it three stars, at others four. What finally pushed me over the edge and into the four star rating was the last forty to fifty pages. I could not put the book down at this point. 

There are many characters introduced throughout the novel and I found that I enjoyed almost all of them for varying reasons. I do think the novel would be more enjoyable with a slightly different focus. It would be nice to see Fitz working alongside Verity more as apposed to his training with Chade the assassin. And I really enjoyed Burrich. His and Fitz's relationship was an interesting one to see unfold. It was occasionally difficult to see Fitz as he struggled to find a place for himself among those who didn't accept him and those who had loved his father. 

I don't feel there is a lot to say about the story as a whole. We get to see Fitz as he is pushed from person to person, living a lonely existence, unable to find his own place. He constantly struggles, wanting love and receiving little of it. He begins training as an assassin, but we see little of his work in that regard. Overall it was an interesting story with rather intriguing characters. The ending was intense and I rather enjoyed those last few scenes of the novel. I'm not sure I will continue with the trilogy. If I do it won't be for a while. This one was good overall, but left me with no real urge to seek out the remaining two installments. 

If you enjoy fantasy or Victorian style literature this might be a book you would enjoy. It was a fun, somewhat quick read and I'm glad I read it.    

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Tuesday Talks | Viewer Discretion

Tuesday Talks is a weekly discussion hosted by Janie and Janelle. You can find the goodreads group here if you are interested in participating! It's always fun to discuss bookish topics with other readers. 
Viewer Discretion On Books
This is an interesting topic that has required me to do some rather deep thinking. Should there be viewer discretion labels on books? Well, I have varied opinions as far as this is concerned. So let's discuss some of those ideas.

I don't particularly feel that an outright label on a book would be necessary. Video games, movies, and other forms of media are often labeled for "appropriate" audiences and restricted to purchase by certain age groups. While I think this can be beneficial in some regards, I don't feel it would be necessary in books. I understand that labels and restrictions are generally in place for a reason, but not all people are the same. Some people are at different reading levels and may not need the restrictions that a similarly aged person would. 

That said, I do believe that content warnings are a good thing. With how much we as readers use the internet for our book research before purchasing or reading a book, I don't think this would necessarily need to be included on the packaging in a bookstore. I've read/watched many reviews and visited many author websites where they included reader warnings that I found helpful. I've included the same thing in my reviews as well. It's not that the reviewer or author should downplay the work, but letting people know some of the content may be helpful. You can't always get the information you need from the synopsis alone. 

So let me clarify some of my thoughts already mentioned. I think it would be great to include content warnings/ratings online more than on the physical book, somewhere that is easily found. I've seen some comments from authors recently who are bashing reviewers for including these types of warnings in reviews (not many authors, but a few) saying that if you didn't mind it you shouldn't tell others about it. I think that is ridiculous, however. I know what many of my friends will and will not like. They generally know the same about me. I think mentioning things such as language, sex, violence, drug/drinking, any many other things can be beneficial to readers. So if it's in a review, on the authors website, stamped on the book, wherever, I've often found this helpful. It helps us know if we might enjoy the book. There is nothing stopping me from buying a book with a content label. I make the choice. It also helps to keep in mind the intended audience for the book in question. This goes for those thinking about reading and those giving the discretion labels. 

In general I think it's better to mention something than to leave it out entirely. No reader wants to know exactly what happens in the books they are reading, but we also like knowing that it's likely to be something we will enjoy. Just a brief mention of some of the things that may appear in the novel can help me decide if it's something I definitely want to read or something I want to avoid. I won't discourage others from reading reading novels with content I don't like, but I will let them know in advance so they can decide for themselves if it's something they want to read. 

So what do you think about viewer discretion on books? Should there be content warnings and labels? Do you like seeing things like this in reviews? Share your thoughts in the comments. (And ignore this post if it seems particularly incoherent.)

Saturday, February 14, 2015

When The Real Thing Comes Along~Faith Simone | Review

Title: When The Real Thing Comes Along
Author: Faith Simone
Genre: Contemporary Christian Romance
Length: 356 Pages
Publication: February 2015
My Rating: 4/5 Stars

I received a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

This novel follows Jacelynn as her life is turned upside down when her past and her present collide. She no longer knows what her future will be. Everything she thought she left in her past is now part of her life again, threatening to drag her under. 

This novel had a strong link with religion and faith and I thought that was a great element. Jacelynn, Kim, Jason, Taylor and all of their friends are on different spiritual journeys trying to get back on the path that leads them home. Each of them has faced difficult decisions and situations. Each of them is still fighting. But they all try to rely on their faith to make them whole. 

Jacelynn tries to put her past behind her, starting over with Jason years after Taylor broke her heart. But when Taylor shows back up, professing that he has now been saved, things become complicated once more. The parts of her that Jacelynn thought were healed are still broken, in desperate need of repair. 

The narrative style of this novel was very well done and nice to read. A majority of it is told in third person, following Jacelynn. On occasion we switch to Taylor or Jason, hearing their thoughts. In some portions we get first person thoughts from Jacelynn, similar to journal entries. The style is really nice and the author moves between the different perspectives seamlessly. 

There are many life struggles dealt with in this novel, but that does not dampen the enjoyment of the read. Teen pregnancy and abortion are handled in a realistic way. This is not the main focus of the story, but it definitely changes the perspectives for the reading. Jacelynn also deals with many feelings that are easy to relate to: inadequacy, uncertainty, struggles in faith. 

The only downside with this novel for me was the length and some minor tweaks that could be made here and there. I think this could easily be shortened, cutting out some of the slightly repetitive insecurities that plague Jacelynn. And, while overall well written, there are some edits that could be made throughout to improve the quality of the writing. 

I think this novel would definitely appeal to people who enjoy clean, faith infused romance. It's an enjoyable story with likable characters with realistic struggles. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Way of Kings~Brandon Sanderson | Review

Title: The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1)
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Genre: Fantasy
Length: 1258 Pages (Paperback)
Publication: August 2010
My Rating: 5/5 Stars

"A story doesn't live until it is imagined in someone's mind."
Why have I not read this book before now? That's what I keep asking myself. I've been reading Sanderson for nearly two years and I'm only just now picking this book up. And boy am I glad I finally did. I knew I would get to it eventually, but this was the perfect read at the perfect time. 

What, you may ask, is so amazing about this book? Well, to be honest. Everything. I really cannot find a single fault in this novel. It was so much fun to read, the story was engrossing, the characters brilliant. I had a hard time putting this novel down. I would have read straight through if I were able. (Although that would have been really hard. This is a long book.) I said, multiple times while reading, "if this novel never ends and I just continue reading a hundred pages a day for the rest of my life, I'm pretty sure I would be happy."

So, let's get to some of the things that I loved most about this novel: the characters. Sanderson is brilliant in his story telling and his stories are often driven by beautifully flawed characters. 
  • Kaladin: Kaladin is by far my favorite character. After personal tragedy drove him to become the best spearman in the army, Kaladin is enslaved and sold to work as a bridgeman for High Prince Sadeas. He is so easy for me to relate to. He struggles with depression and feels that he is cursed. As he starts to develop superhuman abilities he begins to face some of his personal demons. His struggles had me crying in several parts of the story. 
  • Syl: Syl is the spren that now follows Kaladin and keeps him from falling over the edge of his personal chasm and into despair. She's so funny. 
  • Dalinar: Dalinar is a high prince seeking to better himself and the kingdom he loves. He is often questioned by those around him, but remains true to the ideals he has set for himself. His character grew on me throughout the novel. I liked him from the beginning, but grew to like him even more as the story progressed. 
  • Adolin and Renarin: These two are Dalinar's sons and I found myself drawn to both of them. We don't get as much time with Renarin, but I hope he shows up more latter on. Adolin is constantly finding new women to court, but remains strong and loyal. These two are great.
  • Wit: The kings Wit reminded me a lot of the fools in Shakespeare's plays. In the best possible way. The Fool was always my favorite and Wit is great. He is funny with his insults of the princes and other important people. But not everything he says is in jest. 
  • Shallan: I found myself drawn to Shallan at first, but then she kind of grew tiresome for me. I did still enjoy her, I just didn't enjoy her portions of the novel as well as I did several of the others. She grew on me again toward the end of the novel and I'm excited to see where her story leads. 
  • Sadeas: This is probably the character that inspires some of the strongest reactions from me. I found myself both loathing and loving Sadeas throughout the story. I'm not sure what I want to happen with him next. 
  • Szeth: While he was not nearly as large a part of the novel as several of the others, I found Szeth fascinating. He is forced to kill and go against his beliefs and we see him fall further and further away from himself as the story progresses. It's heartbreaking. 
  • Elhokar: Really needs to be kicked in the chest more often. 
These are not all of the characters, but an overview of some of my favorites. Each of them has their own voice and story, all converging to one story line.

The relationships in this novel are beautiful. Kaladin and his bridgemen, Shallan and Jasnah, Dalinar, Adolin, and Renarin. And toward the end we get hints of even more great friendships and alliances forming in later installments.

There isn't a whole lot to be said about the story as a whole. It's something you need to discover as you go, piece by piece, alongside the characters. It's brilliantly developed and beautifully imagined. The descriptions are captivating and the action intense. Go read this book.

If you've read this novel let me know in the comments so we can discuss it! If you plan to read this novel, let me know! I am looking forward to reading the sequel, Words of Radiance, either in March or April so if you want to join me just let me know. Happy reading.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Guest Post: Kelly St. Clare | Writing Your Debut Book

On Writing your Debut Book
- Kelly St Clare (Author of: The Tainted Accords)

There’s a story in your head, and it wants to get out.
I’m no expert on the subject, but I have published my debut book, Fantasy of Frost, back in January 2015. Now I’m sharing my experiences in a blog series called Dear Aspiring Author, so people like yourself can learn from my successes and, more importantly, my mistakes, to kickstart the creation of your very own debut novel.
Now, I’ve trawled through a number of blogs and books on the subject, including Stephen Kings - On Writing. There are some great resources available which I’ll mention later on. However, if you’re like me, then you’ve read all of these, hoping there will be some magical way to write your book.
*Brief pause while I laugh manically*
There isn’t one. Or if there is, I don’t know about it. Here’s how I went about writing Fantasy of Frost.
Dun, dun, dun. The Elusive First Draft.
Firstly, you need to love a story to be able to write it, because there are so many times you want to just shove the story in the cupboard and forget about it. The story has to nag you. If you’ve got one of those already, then perfect! If not, then get to work on that idea, whether you dream it up or get inspiration from real life.
Next, develop the stories details. Get to know your characters. The better you know them, the easier it is to find their voice and make them believable. There’s a whole heap of character lists out there. Here’s a good one I found at Writers write.
The same goes for your setting. What does it look like? Smell like? Sound and feel like? Is it a fantasy world? If so, what are the names of the places, the clothing and the animals? I didn’t do enough of this and I suffered for it. You’ll hear why soon.

After you have an outline (and for want of a more dramatic phrase), you begin. It doesn’t matter if you start at a random scene, at the start, or at the end. Just keep writing. Don’t worry about whether the facts add up, if the plotline is good, or if the dialogue right. That’s for future drafts. For instance, I started out on my first draft calling one of my characters Ric and by the end of the book he was called Sanjay. It’s surprisingly hard to keep yourself from reading over what you’ve done. But I really think this advice is gold: Don’t look back. And in three weeks, six months, or a year down the track when your first draft is done, celebrate like you just landed on the moon….
…because, you’re about to cry when you read over it. Fat, ugly tears.
98% percent of author’s first drafts are crud. Okay, I don’t know the exact percentage but I’m told it’s rare for them to be good. If you read through your first draft and it’s questionably the worst thing you’ve ever read, don’t worry, it’s normal.
Wow. The second draft was H.A.R.D for me. I told you I suffered for not planning and this was where it hit me. Every time I read my work I cringed. I wanted to give up. But the story was nagging me. So, I smoothed out the facts, the names, and the setting. I realised I had started the story too far back. Chop, chop. Off with five chapters (and another three after the fifth draft). The chapters weren’t necessary for the reader and therefore not necessary for the book.
Third draft. Back to the start. Again. This draft was to fix the technical bits. I had a look at the pacing and realised I had introduced too much information, too quickly. It was slow. Some chapters resembled a boxing match between turtles. Each chapter then had to be left on what I hoped was an interesting note, a hook. Something which would entice the reader to continue.
This is where I started wondering when I should show the novel to someone else? Research told me ‘when it was as good as I could possibly make it’. Greeeeat. My advice? Given as a person who has just gone through this. Assess what you know about yourself. For example, I’m someone who looks at my published book and still wants to edit, so I ended up cutting myself off at the fourth draft. If you know you tend to jump ahead, then force yourself to do a couple more drafts.
Yay! I had a half-way-there manuscript which I was rather proud of. I was going to show someone! Then I realised.
I didn’t want to show anyone.
Dear Aspiring Author, I could yap on about how to get over this, but in reality, you just need to. This isn’t about you. It’s about the book being as good as it can be. This means swallowing the humility pill.

“It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else.”
- Erma Bombeck.

Now I was on a budget, but I didn’t want to lose quality. I selected twenty people to beta read my work. Of that number, twelve said they had time to do it. I was lucky enough some of these people had experience with writing. If you use this strategy, then make sure the group is from a wide pool of people, don’t just select people from your knitting circle.
I sent it out to my readers in parts and attached a list of questions to each part. I really think this made it easier for them. Remember most people haven’t got reviewing experience. It also helped to remove the ‘too nice’ tendency (although I only selected people I thought would be honest). The result? A massive heap of valuable feedback. I can truly say their criticism took my book from half-way done to PUBLISH.
Well, that and the next few drafts. The final drafts were all about fine-tuning dialogue; changing parts based of beta-reader suggestion, making sure there were no boring parts, and then writing all of the front matter. I did seven drafts in total, three more after getting it critiqued. How many you do on your book is entirely up to you. Some authors do thirty drafts. Some do three. Again, take into account what you know about yourself and tailor it.
I had a book. Now what?
I stumbled across this great site called Fiverr, which includes extensive resources for authors wanting to publish work of good quality for low cost. Here I found a cover designer, a copy editor and a formatter. I decided not to hire a content editor due having beta-readers. I will say here though, if you’re unsure about your writing technique or style I would definitely use one. I’m going to play around with this in my second book. I’ll let you know how it goes!
All that’s left after jumping through these hoops, is to hit publish and feel a tidal wave of accomplishment, my friend, because you are now an Author! Seriously, there is no better feeling than reaching the finish line.
Hopefully this blog saves you a few dead ends! By all means stick to it religiously, but I would recommend taking it as advice and seeing what works best for you. Writing a book by trial and error is the best learning tool at your disposal. Trust me, I know!
You want to know the best part? The second book is easier. **Cue fireworks**
I wish you all the best with your writing endeavours! Please post your success stories on Facebook or my website, where I will be continuing to add to my DearAspiringAuthor series. I’ve already discovered so many new tips and tricks while writing my second book. And really this blog is the tip of the ice berg. Remember there is still the marketing, getting the reviews and using social media to consider, let alone, how to select copy editors and the like.
If you’re looking for more information, I recommend Joanna Penn from the who has some really thorough advice. There are also some great, quick tips at Goins, Writer by Jeff Goins.
Check out another of my guest blogs titled ‘From Manuscript to Publish’. It goes into more depth about the obstacles you’ll need to get through before showing the world your quality book.
Massive thanks to Courtney at CourtneysReads for having me,

Kelly St Clare

When Kelly St Clare is not reading or writing, she is dreaming up a story in her head; the cause of many headaches for her friends and family, who have struggled to encourage her participation in normal activities - such as everyday life.
Books have always been magical and mysterious to her. One day she decided to start unravelling this mystery and began writing. Her aim: To write stories she would want to read. 
A New Zealander in origin, Kelly currently resides in Australia with her soon-to-be husband.
Follow her via Newsletter at, and find her on Facebook or Goodreads.
If you would like to read her coming-of-age epic fantasy novel, Fantasy of Frost, then you can view it here.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Tuesday Talks | Dating Non-Readers

Dating Non-Readers
Personally, it's difficult for me to form strong bonds with people who do not share my passions. I love reading, I love horses, I love math, I love art, music, and nature. I love many things. One thing I love about reading and writing is that using words, I can express my love for all of those other things. The written word holds great power.

I've gone out with guys who were not readers. I've discussed books with them. I've suggested things they might enjoy reading. All of them gained something from what I said. At least, I'm pretty sure they did. Some of them have even picked up the books I've suggested and enjoyed them. I can't have a conversation and not mention reading. It's almost impossible. 

That being said, I think it would be difficult for me to date someone long term or marry someone who didn't enjoy reading. Reading and writing are so important to me and I would need someone who understood where I was coming from in my love for words. They don't have to enjoy the same type of reading or books, but they would have to have some appreciation or I don't think we would click well enough to have a strong relationship.   

I think it's also important to consider different forms of reading as well. I read mostly fiction. A lot of that fiction is fantasy. I know people who read mostly non-fiction or newspapers, magazines, comic books. There are many forms of written word that can qualify as reading. Even people who say they are not readers generally enjoy some form of reading. They just don't sit down with a novel. 

I definitely would not let my love for reading get in the way of forming a relationship with someone that I really liked, I just think that I am unlikely to bond with someone who doesn't at least enjoy an occasional read. They don't have to share my passion, they just have to understand and appreciate it. 

What do you think of dating non-readers? Does being a reader or non-reader have an affect on your relationships? Let me know your thoughts in the comments! 

Tuesday Talks is a weekly discussion created by Janie and Janelle. You can find the goodreads group here. It's always fun to have bookish discussions with other readers, so join in the fun!

Friday, February 6, 2015

The Formats of Books: Physical, E-book, and Audio

I haven't written a blog post in a few days and it will be another few before I have a review ready to post, so I decided to write a quick post about my thoughts on various formats of novels.

Physical Books
Personally, I love having a physical book in my hands. I don't mind if it's paper or hard back, I just like having the paper in my hands when I read. I've always loved the smell of books, and yes, occasionally I smell the books I'm reading. I don't know what it is, but something about ink on paper is just appealing to me. 
I also love being able to see how far I've gotten in a book. I like being able to feel the pages pile up as I read them. I just feel more accomplished every time I flip a page. It just makes me happy. And you don't have to worry about a battery dying. All you need is light and you're good to go. 

I've only recently acquired a kindle (in December, I think). Before that I wasn't really interested in reading electronic books. When I started becoming interested in reviewing for authors in November, I decided it was time to get a kindle. And I do enjoy my kindle, even if it doesn't have paper. 
E-books are so easy to carry around. It's convenient to have ten or more books with you when they only take up the space of maybe one physical book. Particularly for traveling, e-readers are the way to go. And if you don't like the novel your reading, you can always switch to another one.
The thing I miss from physical to e-book is the feel of the paper in my hand and the pages piling up as I read them. The kindle telling me my percentage kind of makes me feel the same way, but it's still not quite the same.

I've only ever listened to a handful of books. My auditory sense is rather interesting. I'm a very visual learner in general, though I'm an auditory learner as well. When I have something to look at, I tend to remember what I hear. I can recall most conversations I have face to face, lectures from school, and lines from movies. When I don't have that visual stimulus as well, I tend not to remember. This makes listening to audio books hard for me.     
I listened to two or three books in a five book series once. The other novels I read physical copies. A few months later, when I was trying to recall the story from each of the novels, I could remember the ones I read physically in great detail. The ones I listened to, however, were foggy in my mind. 
Again, I think audio can be very convenient. I've listened to a couple of novellas recently while driving to and from work and church and things and those have gone well. I think I can remember more when I have something I'm doing at the same time. Just trying to listen tends to leave gaps in my memory. Driving while listening is nice though. 

Overall I prefer reading physical books to e-books or audiobooks, although all three have their merits. So what do you prefer? Let me know your thoughts and which format is your favorite in the comments. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Tuesday Talks | Over Hyped Books

To learn more about the discussion group Tuesday Talks, visit the goodreads group here. This weekly discussion was created and is organized by Janie and Janelle.

Over Hyped Books
I tend to walk the line where over hyped books are concerned. Sometimes I hear all the hype and go grab the book to see what it's all about. I've gotten lucky and read some really great books that way. I've also read some not great books that way.

Reading over hyped books at the peak of all the hype can be a very bad thing in my experience. It's hard not to go into a very popular book thinking that it will be fantastic. This attitude, however, tends to leave us wanting more once we've finished the book. It can turn what would have been a really nice read into a disappointment. That's why I tend to avoid reading overly hyped books at their peak. 

I also understand where the book hype comes from. We all want our favorite books and authors to be known. The best way to help someone is to put stuff out there about their books. When a large enough group starts talking about the same books and authors we start verging into the realm of over hyping. As a reader and reviewer I try not only to get the book out there for more people to see, but also explain why I like it so much. I think the trap we fall into most often, and the one that ultimately leaves us disappointed, isn't so much that the books is over hyped, but rather that those so set on the book don't explain why they enjoy it so much so we go in with unrealistic expectations. Nothing is perfect and not everyone likes the same thing. Read what you are truly interested in reading, not what someone else says you should be interested in reading. That's what I try to do. 

So overall, I don't avoid over hyped books, but I also don't generally seek them out. Sometimes I will put them on my TBR and leave them there for a while before I get back to them. At that point I'm usually more open to the story and not just the idea of the story or the hype it's received and can have a more enjoyable reading experience. 

What do you think about over hyped books? Do you read or avoid them? Tell me in the comments!   

Firefight~Brandon Sanderson | Review

Title: Firefight (The Reckoners #2)
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Genre: YA/Fantasy/Dystopia
Length: 416 Pages
Publication: January 2015
My Rating: 5/5 Stars

"My name is David Charleston. I kill people with superpowers."

This novel picks up shortly after the events of Steelheart with David and his Reckoner friends helping to stabilize NewCago. David is set on hunting down Firefight, but not to kill her. He has other plans for this Epic. 
We don't spend too much time in NewCago this time around. David finds his way to Firefight when Prof takes him along on a mission to stop Regalia-the Epic who rules Babilar (Manhattan).

There are so many things I enjoyed about this novel. The characters are fun, smart, and extremely flawed. I find it fun to be in David's head, laughing at his botched metaphors. He's young, impulsive, and thoughtful. He never stops thinking, considering new possibilities about Epics and their powers. 

One of the things I enjoyed most about this novel was being able to see more into the minds of the Epics. In Steelheart we didn't really get to see what the Epics thought. Here we get more inside information from the minds of the Epics. Hearing about their struggles and their fears is really interesting. The story is set in a world where people gained superpowers and turned into villains. Honestly, that seems like a likely outcome. But it's interesting to find out what these people were like before they were Epics and the struggles they face now that they have these powers. Not all Epics are the same. 

One thing I love about Sanderson is that his stories are always so character driven. I'm not sure how he manages to get me hooked on every single character he introduces, good or bad, but he does. One of my favorites in this novel was Obliteration. I just found his character fascinating. He was only in a few short pieces of the novel, but I was still attached to him. 

There are so many questions raised in this novel and I can't wait to read Calamity when it's released next year. The exploration of the Epics and their weaknesses is one thing that really has me intrigued. And man that ending was insane. I really could barely put the book down for the last hundred pages. There was just so much action, so many questions asked and answered, revelations made, the list goes on. 

So basically what I'm saying is that you should read this book. Right now. Well, actually, read Steelheart first if you haven't already and then read this book. 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Awakening~C.B. Stone | Review

Title: Awakening (Absence of Song #1)
Author: C. B. Stone
Genre: Dystopia, Fantasy
Length: 105 Pages (Kindle)
Publication: February 2015
My Rating: 5/5 Stars

I received an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

I really enjoyed the Unbelief Trilogy so when C. B. Stone announced this upcoming trilogy, I was really excited. When she mentioned that there was going to be some blends of fantasy in the dystopia world, I was even more excited. I love fantasy. And I was not disappointed.

Jaelynn lives in a world where music is banned and the Ministry controls everything. But she can't stop herself from dreaming about music and singing when no one else is around. And when she meets Noah, a fellow dreamer, Jaelynn's world begins to change.

I think this is where Stone excels. The story starts out like any other dystopia, but we soon learn that music has more power than we realize. And sometimes what happens in the realm of dreams doesn't always stay there. The blend of this dystopian world with elements of fantasy was just brilliant.

The characters were very beautifully developed and Jaelynn was a great character for a first person narrator. Sometimes certain narrators don't work out well, but she is a good one. Noah was interesting and I can't wait to see more about his character as the story unfolds in the next novel.

The novel ends with a cliffhanger (the usual for any novel by Stone) and I am eager to see where this ending will lead our characters. Obviously something more than meets the eye is going on in this world. And the Ministry has more of an idea about things than they will admit to the public.

I honestly don't know what else to say. I don't want to get too involved with the story out of fear I will give something away. This is a great novella if you enjoy fun, quick dystopia/fantasy reads. It has a unique take on many elements of these genres and the blend is just beautiful. Stone gets better with every novel she writes. I cannot wait for the next installment.

You can purchase the novel on Amazon here. It will soon be available through other platforms as well. Happy reading!