Review: CLOAK OF WAR (Empress Game #2) by Rhonda Mason

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Disclaimer: I attended the same graduate school program as the author and consider her a friend; however, I purchased my hardcopy version of this novel for full price.

Often, middle books in a trilogy act as placeholders. Things happen, but mostly just to get the characters from point A (the exciting first installment) to point B (the hopefully epic final book). Mason’s second book in her Empress Game trilogy is much more in “Empire Strikes Back” territory. A truly excellent novel in its own right, with enough twists and turns to make me genuinely fear that the characters might not even make it to book 3. This includes a truly stunning plot twist that I never saw coming. Continue reading

November Wrap-Up & December Goals

Even though I didn’t complete the full NaNoWriMo madness this month, I still got a lot done!

November Wrap-up:

  • I successfully wrote 30k words in 30 days for my mini-NaNo attempt! I’m now at 70k total words on book 4.
  • Book reviews completed:
  • I had a great time attending ChessieCon the weekend after Thanksgiving. Check out my con report!
  • Visiting Sint Maarten for my cousin’s wedding was a lovely retreat with my husband, though I’m happy I get a break from traveling for a while.

sxm

December Goals:

  1. The end of book 4 is in sight! No, wait. I still have 20 scenes to write, because this is turning into a beast. My writing goal this month is 20k words, plus some accompanying research that still needs to be done.
  2. Book reviews, as always. I have 11 books in the queue.

Is that it?

Wow, that’s it. I mean, aside from all the holiday-type stuff that I have to do.

I think my supervisors want me to stop blogging and get back to work now. I’d rather be back on a tropical island.

supervisors

Steel Magic Featured at Library Journal

_Steel Magic-Jacket.inddI had a bit of a SNAFU earlier this year with professional review sites, so I hadn’t been paying that much attention to them since the release of the second book in the Steel Empires series, Steel Magic. Therefore, I’m about half a year late in telling you all the fantastic news!

Steel Magic received a lovely shout-out in Library Journal earlier this year, and I’d love to share it with you here:

Gribble, J.L. Steel Magic. Dog Star: Raw Dog Screaming. (Steel Empires, Bk. 2). Jul. 2016. 188p. ISBN 9781935738855. pap. $14.95. FANTASY
Newly graduated Toria Conor and Kane Nalamas discover they are the last warrior-mages in Limani after the strange death of one of their teachers. Yet they are set on becoming professional mercenaries after their 18 months as contracted journeymen. As a bonded pair, Toria and Kane understand their elemental powers work even better than most, but it does not solve the mystery of disappearing mages. Hired by a city elder to resolve the matter, they travel to New Angouleme with their elven friend Syri to investigate the local mage school. When Syri is kidnapped, Toria and Kane must find and save her as well as magic itself. In this excellent follow-up to Steel Warrior, Gribble brings the newest generation to the forefront with an adventure reminiscent of Tamora Pierce’s “Alanna” series. VERDICT Strong plotting and captivating characters will please fans of fantasy quests.—KC

Direct link to post here.

I mean, there’s a minor quibble in the fact that I’m hoping they meant Steel Victory rather than Steel Warrior, but otherwise I’m humbled and pleased by that succinct review.

I’ll be back later today for my monthly roundup, but I wanted to share this delightful news first.

Con Report: ChessieCon 2016

chessielogoI had a fantastic time attending my first ChessieCon convention this past weekend! Everyone on the convention staff was lovely, and I made some great new friends.

I’d also like to specifically commend this particular convention for their dedication to accessibility throughout the events, such as offering gender neutral restrooms and reserving seats in every room for people with physical or sensory issues who might need them.

Friday

lee-and-jon-concert

Lee Budar-Danoff and Jon Budar-Danoff in concert.

I had no issues picking up my participant packet on Friday, and I arrived in time to see my local NaNoWriMo organizer perform her concert! Lee is a fantastic guitarist and singer, and I enjoyed listening to both original works and covers during her “Dystopian Set.” (Her husband Jon provides lovely backup.)

Since I had some time to kill before my reading, I ducked into the last half of a presentation on “Finding the Funny in Star Wars and Star Trek.” The presenters were delightful, and I managed to stalk them the rest of the weekend (more on that later).

Afterward, Lee and Jon were kind enough to return the favor and attend my reading, where I read short passages from both Steel Victory and Steel Magic for the audience. Continue reading

My ChessieCon 2016 Schedule

chessielogoHere’s my schedule of events for ChessieCon this upcoming weekend at the Radisson North Baltimore Hotel!

Friday, November 25

5:30-6 PM: Reading: Scenes from Steel Magic

6:45-7:45 PM: Panel: Care and Feeding of Critique Groups

Saturday, November 26

5:30-6:30 PM: Panel: Evolution of Women Fantasy

6:45-7:45 PM: Group Book Signing

9:15-10:15 PM: Game show: What’s My Line?

Sunday, November 27

10-11 AM: Panel: Being a Woman on the Internet

1:45-2:45 PM: Panel: Why Do They Keep Doing That? Common Scientific Mistakes in Film and Books


There are lots of other cool things on the full schedule. I hope to see you there this weekend!

Author Interview with Sheri Queen

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Today I’m taking a break from NaNoWriMo panic productivity to feature a new release from fellow urban fantasy author Sheri Queen! I haven’t read this novella yet, but so much about it intrigues me. It’s both an installment in a multi-author project and acts as an introduction to Queen’s own universe, the Sleepy Hollow Hunter series. Please enjoy the following interview with the author and check out more details about the book below.


How did you come up with the title for this book?

It’s my protagonist’s job—bounty hunter. I decided I wanted to separate my novel from the many other bounty hunter ones, so I came up with the gender switch of huntress. It worked.

Is there a message or theme in this story your want readers to be aware of?

There are several themes within the story, mostly about family and relationships, but the biggest one is that it’s okay to be different. Love who you are, and don’t let what others say make you think you’re not good enough.

Is this part of a series? If so, can you share a little about what’s coming next?

This is a short novel that’s part of a multi-author series, The Hotel Paranormal. Over twenty authors have penned their own paranormal story set in a common world—the Hotel. It’s been so much fun to do. Basically it’s a hotel set in an alternate dimension that’s a gathering place for paranormal creatures.

The Hotel Paranormal is the place for supernatural beings looking to get away from it all. Beings like werewolves, vampires, elves, sprites, djinn, and more check in from all over the world for business and for pleasure—and sometimes for both.

Also, I’m using this as an introduction to a new series I’m working on, the Sleepy Hollow Hunter series. The next novel will be out in 2017, although I don’t have a release date as yet. It will see Janda Gray take on her hunter role in earnest. She’ll have great joys and even greater sorrows as a Sleepy Hollow Hunter. Continue reading

Review: FROM A HIGH TOWER by Mercedes Lackey

from-a-high-tower

I was thrilled that Lackey once again broke the mold with this installment of the Elemental Masters series. Some things were the familiar, such as a modern (well, Victorian-era) retelling of a traditional fairy tale featuring a strong heroine with elemental magic powers. However, like in Blood Red before it, this novel also transported us outside of England and only hinted at a burgeoning romance at the end rather than making it a centerpiece of the plot. Both of these differences have made for stronger books, in my opinion, rather than having the novel be “yet another romantic fantasy.” Continue reading

Review: NO TIME LIKE THE PAST (Chronicles of St. Mary’s #5) by Jodi Taylor

no-time-like-the-past

After devouring five books in this series, two things are fairly obvious to me at this point:

  1. Jodi Taylor is a hell of a researcher/historian.
  2. She has also embraced a major facet of writing time travel and run with it rather than fight against it — Once again, this novel had two major climaxes. One for Max personally and one for Max in the greater scheme of the over-arching nemesis plot. And I love that these things keep happening out of order.

Continue reading

Review: CAPTAIN MARVEL Vol. 1: Higher, Further, Faster, More by Kelly Sue Deconnick

captain-marvel-vol-1

This was another book picked up by my husband in his quest for graphic novels about women heroes by women authors. I’m a huge fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), but I didn’t grow up on comic books, so I’ve been going into all the movies blind. I figured this would be a great way to actually introduce myself to a character I know is coming to film. Unfortunately, “volume 1” in this instance was not a relaunch of the character but just the start to a new run of adventures. I came away from the book excited to meet Captain Marvel on film in a few years, but utterly confused by what I had just read. Continue reading

Review: ARTICLES OF THE FEDERATION by Keith R. A. DeCandido

articles-federation

Reasons why you should read this book:

  1. You are a fan of political dramas that involve multiple main characters dealing with crises and scandals.
  2. The television show The West Wing is your favorite of all of those.
  3. You are curious about the inner workings of the Federation, a major government in the Star Trek universe, and you remember that Starfleet is really only a branch of the military in the grand scheme of things.
  4. You enjoy reading about other inhabitants of the Star Trek universe, not just characters familiar from television and film.

Really, there’s not much more I can say other than if you like the above things, you’ll love Articles of the Federation as much as I did. Continue reading