Wednesday, 20 August 2014

#bookreview: Games of Chance by Will Hahn

Games of Chance (Judgement's Tale, #1)Games of Chance by Will Hahn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

At 121 pages, Judgement's Tale: Games of Chance is a novella that paints for you the background of the Lands of Hope, giving you glimpses of the strange young man from over the sea, Solemn Judgement, and yet not telling you quite enough about him or what he's supposed to do. You meet unlikely heroes: Linya, Mhoral, Treaman, Haltar and Bildon - swept away on an unwanted quest.

Will Hahn's writing and world building is interesting enough to keep you wanting more - and that's the problem. There isn't enough in this book to keep you satisfied. It ends too abruptly, making you feel short-changed, as if the book is unfinished.
Maybe I'm too used to long fantasy books that I can't wrap my head around the fact that Judgement's Tale and its sequel, Eye of Kog, is going to be released as a series, with a new book (or at least part of it) released every 3 months. I'm not one for watching TV series. I don't know if a book series will be any different.

I guess we'll see.

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Tuesday, 19 August 2014

The belated #wdnwc14 day 3 post

So I was supposed to finish off my post on Sunday, except that after rushing off to the airport (spending more than 1 hour in the shuttle to get there), I was hungry. And then I started reading Jeff Gerke's "The First 50 Pages" and then when I finally got back to San Jose, we headed off to dinner and The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (which was full of plot holes).

Anyway, so Day 3.
First session of the day was lots of dirty little publishing secrets revealed by Phil Sexton, followed by revision tips from Barbara O'Neal. I'd say one of the most informative (for me) slots was the one after that, by Carlie Webber, regarding the query letters and agents, though I don't know if I will ever use that information, seeing... I don't even know if agents exist in Malaysia. Unless I'm trying to publish it in the USA first. Hmmmmm.

In between sessions I was eavesdropping on people talking about science fiction. Haha, well not really eavesdropping. They were right beside me and they knew I was listening. I think.

Final plus point of this writer's conference - got invited into a critique group on facebook. Let's see where it goes! :D

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Day two of #wdnwc14: of workshops and friends

Today's programme was chock full of really informative sessions. I don't know if I've finished processing everything yet, but I can say this - at every session I feel like a sponge, soaking up stuff, wondering if I'm going to start leaking. Which isn't a bad thing.

Also, I'm hearing stuff that makes me go 'hey, so maybe if I applied *this* and added *that* it would make my story go much better. 

One was definitely the Writing Active Setting session, which talked about how even how you describe a scene can be put to good use to show facets of your character, or even build conflict and tension. 

Bits of the plotting workshop tied back to Larry Brooks' session yesterday about the first plot point and I'm going 'those bits in my NaNoWriMo drafts that I thought were conflicts... I think they were really the first plot point or maybe even just an inciting incident. No wonder it seemed so stuck.'

But it's not just been workshops. In between I've made friends, Howard, Luke and Naomi, to name a few, and met a fellow accountant who's in the middle of edits (whose name I forgot. Oops.) 

Looking forward to the final few sessions tomorrow (no Hugh Howey, bummer) and maybe making a few more connections before heading back to San Jose and being boring. 

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Day one of #wdnwc14!

I had been thinking of live blogging the conference but I decided against bringing my laptop (one less thing to worry about) so I'm basically pretty much old school with pen and paper. 

Anyway it has been a mix of anticipation and terror coming here but I'm glad I made it! Thoroughly enjoyed the sessions with Larry Brooks (on structure) and Jonathan Maberry (opening keynote). Probably should have hung around and/or visited booths and gotten things signed but LK was waiting for me in the lobby! LK was one of my first writerly friends on twitter and though she wasn't attending the conference, she braved traffic and drove about an hour plus to meet me and have dinner. *so touched*

So I'm just tuckered out right now and going to sleep. Tomorrow should be exciting :D

Friday, 8 August 2014

#bookreview: Shadow Swarm by D. Robert Pease

Shadow SwarmShadow Swarm by D. Robert Pease
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Arbethol Nauile is the promised saviour and the rightful heir to the throne of the Nuadaim. He just doesn't know it yet. When he wakes up in a mausoleum not knowing his own name, or anything that has happened to him in the past 300+ years, it looks as if the ancient prophecy has failed, and the Neglafem's sacrifice to protect him has been in vain.

Elise is more than ready to give up on the prophecy and leave the strange man to fend for himself after watching her grandfather, Iliam, being killed on the day of the King's Presentation, but her grandfather's sacrifice and faith means more to her than anything in the world. Leading Nauile out of the citadel where they were beset by the enemy, she is soon taken hostage by the enemy to be used against Nauile.

Because Arbethol is remembering things in flashes as well as being told them by the people he meets, you do get a rather good background of the Nuadaim over the course of the book, usually when you need to know it. The list of names and terms at the back was also quite useful, though a little clunky to refer to on the kindle (that really only works well on paperbacks). The world is pretty well-built, and the narrative is well-written. The characters seem a little flat and one-sided at times - it's not to say that they weren't well-developed. It's just that they felt a little stereotypical, especially Elise. Other than her kidnapping being the catalyst that launches Nauile to start a war against the enemy, I don't really see why he falls in love with her or how. I guess traipsing through the woods together might make you attracted to one another, but... that was it?

Shadow Swarm is very strongly Christian allegory - I could smell it from the middle of the book, though that's probably because I'm extremely sensitive to these kinds of things. It doesn't really detract from the story itself; it's only just a little predictable at the end.

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About the Book - About the Author - Prizes!!!

About the prizes: Who doesn't love prizes? You could win one of two $50 Amazon gift cards or an autographed copy of Shadow Swarm! Here's what you need to do...
  1. Enter the Rafflecopter contest
  2. Leave a comment on my blog
That's it! One random commenter during this tour will win the first gift card. Visit more blogs for more chances to win--the full list of participating bloggers can be found HERE. The other two prizes will be given out via Rafflecopter. You can find the contest entry form linked below or on the official Shadow Swarm tour page via Novel Publicity. Good luck!

About the book: Aberthol Nauile doesn’t know that he once led legions in a war that raged since the dawn of time, against an enemy that cannot be killed. He doesn’t know that he rode on a dragon with his father, and saw his mother die while giving birth to him. He doesn’t know that he once saved his great, great, great grandfather by defeating the black enemy on the slopes of a volcano. Aberthol doesn’t know that he beheld the creation of the world, as his grandfather eight generations before took the planet ravaged by a war of the gods and began anew. All he knows is that he awoke in a coffin in a tomb, and now the whole world thinks he is their savior. All he really wants to know is his name, and why he keeps hearing voices in his head.
Get Shadow Swarm through Amazon or Barnes & Noble. 

About the author: D. Robert Pease has been interested in creating worlds since childhood. From building in the sandbox behind his house, to drawing fantastical worlds with paper and pencil, there has hardly been a time he hasn't been off on some adventure in his mind, to the dismay of parents and teachers alike. Also, since the moment he could read, books have consumed vast swaths of his life. From The Mouse and the Motorcycle, to The Lord of the Rings, worlds just beyond reality have called to him like Homer's Sirens. It's not surprising then he chose to write stories of his own. Each filled with worlds just beyond reach, but close enough we can all catch a glimpse of ourselves in the characters he brings to life.
Connect with D. Robert on his website, Facebook, Twitter,or GoodReads.

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Wednesday, 6 August 2014

#bookreview: Cephrael's Hand by Melissa McPhail

Cephrael's HandCephrael's Hand by Melissa McPhail
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I first started reading this, I was reminded strongly of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series, minus the annoying women and plus faster pacing overall, which was a win for me.

Trell of the Tides embarks on a journey to discover his heritage.
Prince Ean val Lorian is being hunted by persons unknown.
The Adept race is dying, and Cephrael's Hand, an unlucky configuration of stars, hangs in the sky for all to see.

McPhail weaves these stories through the tome leaving you wondering: Who is good? Who is evil? Is Bjorn really the traitor he has been branded or is he working to the same purposes as the other Vestals - to protect the realm of Alorin?

I enjoyed Cephrael's Hand and am looking forward to picking up the sequel, The Dagger of Adendigaeth.

* I received this ebook as a review copy from Novel Publicity.

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P/S Lovely new cover revealed yesterday, along with a giveaway! Check out yesterday's post.
PP/S I may have posted this review before. I think. But I couldn't find it via my tags. So maybe I didn't. I can't remember.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Guest post: Three Must-Read Series for the Fantasy Connoisseur

A Guest Post & Cover Reveal by Melissa McPhail
Having been a fantasy reader for more years than any southern-bred lady should ever admit, I’ve encountered some excellent fantasy novels. Over the decades, I’ve watched many wonderful books rise to a height of popularity, enjoy the thrill of riding that wave of reader buzz, and then bob away to take their place on a shelf with others of like fame. With so many outstanding fantasies rising and ebbing across the years, it’s easy for newer readers to overlook some classics. Since I’ve been swimming this sea for a while, I thought I would share a few favorites you might’ve missed.
All of these novels have inspired my work in some important way.

Roger Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber
“Amber is the one true realm, casting infinite shadows of itself.”  Only the royal family of Amber have the innate talent to navigate the shadow realms of Amber, of which Earth is one such shadow. At the beginning of Nine Princes in Amber, the first book in the series, Corwin wakes in a hospital with no memory of his identity. As he learns that he’s a prince of the royal family of Amber, so also is he pulled back into his brothers’ and sisters’ perpetual treacherous vies for their father’s abandoned throne.
Corwin moves from one near-catastrophe to another, each one often devised by a different family member, but his wit and his wry, cynical view make all of his misadventures—and indeed, this series as a whole—a joy to read.
The patterning described in my series is nothing like the pattern the royal family of Amber must walk in order to manipulate the shadow realms of Amber, yet Zelazny’s novels did provide a spark of inspiration for my own realm of Alorin, where “all things are formed of patterns.”

Anne McCaffrey’s The Rowan
The Rowan is a beautiful blending of science fiction and fantasy. The story follows The Rowan’s life from a traumatic disaster on a far colonized planet through her training as a telepathic and telekinetic adept with a powerful gift. Adepts such as The Rowan form the foundation of space travel in McCaffrey’s tale, which is part adventure, part coming of age, and part love-story. Ultimately, in trying to save her true love, The Rowan births a gift that may be the key to saving all of humanity.
The way McCaffrey described The Rowan made an indelible impression on me. The Rowan provided the early inspiration for the Healer Alyneri in my series.

C.S. Friedman’s Coldfire Trilogy
This is one of those series that never really loses that popularity wave. But in case you missed hearing about it the last time it crested, the Coldfire Trilogy, starting with Black Sun Rising, is a must.
Gerald Tarrant is one of the most memorable anti-heroes ever written. More admirable still when you realize Friedman wrote him long before Mark Lawrence made the villainous blackguard interesting. In Gerald Tarrant, Friedman presents a man of cold arrogance and bold evil—and makes you fall in love with him, hook, line and sinker.
The artful way she crafted Tarrant inspired me to explore virtue and vice in my own story’s cast of personalities. Some of my more alarmingly compelling characters have Gerald Tarrant as their distant grandsire.

The Cover Reveal & Giveaway

Are you ready for the reveal of the new Cephrael’s Hand cover? Because here it is! 

What do you think? Does it do a good job conveying the fantasy genre? Is it a book you’d be attracted to in the store? Does it make you want to learn more?
Thank you for helping us celebrate! If you’d like to see the new covers for books 2 and 3 in the series stop by, and check them out.
Guess what else? The author is offering a special giveaway as part of this grand event. Check out the Rafflecopter form below (it’s also available at to find out how you can win a Kindle Fire. Hooray!
Oh, and don’t miss learning more about Cephrael’s Hand and where you can pick up a copy—that’s below too.

“All things are composed of patterns…” And within the pattern of the realm of Alorin, three strands must cross:
In Alorin… three hundred years after the genocidal Adept Wars, the realm is dying, and the blessed Adept race dies with it. One man holds the secret to reverting this decline: Bjorn van Gelderan, a dangerous and enigmatic man whose shocking betrayal three centuries past earned him a traitor’s brand. It is the Adept Vestal Raine D’Lacourte’s mission to learn what Bjorn knows in the hope of salvaging his race. But first he’ll have to find him.
In the kingdom of Dannym… the young Prince Ean val Lorian faces a tenuous future as the last living heir to the coveted Eagle Throne. When his blood-brother is slain during a failed assassination, Ean embarks on a desperate hunt for the man responsible. Yet his advisors have their own agendas, and his quest for vengeance leads him ever deeper into a sinuous plot masterminded by a mysterious and powerful man, the one they call First Lord.
In the Nadori desert…tormented by the missing pieces of his life, a soldier named Trell heads off to uncover the truth of his shadowed past. But when disaster places him in the debt of Wildlings sworn to the First Lord, Trell begins to suspect a deadlier, darker secret motivating them. Honor-bound to serve the First Lord in return for his life, Trell continues on his appointed path, yet each day unveils new and stranger secrets that eventually call into question everything he knows.
Get it on AmazonBarnes & Noble, or wherever awesome eBooks are sold!

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No, wait, what? I didn't cross post my review to my blog? 
Okay, check out the review tomorrow!