Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Summer Wrap-up

Yeah, I know school started awhile ago, but better late than never.

This summer was definitely one of growing for me and my writing. I set some hard goals for myself, and surprised myself by achieving them.

I started participating more actively in critique groups, and put on my big girl panties and, shocker, reached out to fellow authors to start making connections.

Another huge accomplishment was writing my very first query letter and synopsis. They were rough and I have so, so much to learn. But, go me! To top it off, I submitted said query to the awesome Pitch Wars contest. Didn't get picked, but learned a great lesson about myself. I can submit stuff, and, another shocker, not collapse from nerves. Not a bad summer, all in all.

And, of course, I made some time for discovering some new authors to read.

The Stone Bearers by Jacque Stevens: An interesting take on djinn.

Forbidden and Banished by Kimberly Griffiths Little: A sweeping romance saga set in Ancient Mesopotamia.

Born to Treason by E.B. Wheeler: Set against the conflict between Protestant and Catholic Wales in the middle ages.

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir: A bit gritty and dark for a YA. There is some pretty intense violence and swearing, but a compelling look into an intense fantasy world and the characters who refuse to let the darkness beat them.

Bluescreen by Dan Well: Also a language advisory on this one. An interesting look at a future world that offers the perks of cool tech, but shows how dangerous it all can be.

That about covers my summer reading and writing adventures. The next fours months promise to be full of countless other opportunities for growth and learning. Can't wait!

How was your summer? Read any great books? Goals you reached?

Have an awesome writing day!

Friday, August 5, 2016

Beauty and the Clockwork Beast Review

Jane Eyre meets Beauty and the Beast. 

When Lucy Pickett arrives at Blackwell Manor to tend to her ailing cousin, Kate, she finds more than she bargained for. A restless ghost roams the hallways, werewolves have been reported in the area, and vampires lurk across the Scottish border. Lord Miles himself is clearly hiding a secret. He is brash and inhospitable, and does not take kindly to visitors—even one as smart and attractive as Miss Pickett. He is unsettled by the mysterious deaths of his new wife, Clara, and his sister, Marie. Working together, Miles and Lucy attempt to restore peace to Blackwell Manor. But can Lucy solve the mystery of Miles? Can she love the man—beast and all?

My Review:

Four out of five stars

I was super excited when I found out about this book. A clean steampunk romance made me so happy. The premise of the story borrows elements from the more traditional beast stories, Jane Eyre, and some classic steampunk tropes, blending them in an interesting new way. Werewolves and vampires make an appearance, but with some twists that kept me thoroughly engaged, especially since a vampire is at the heart of the murders the smart, but proper Lucky Pickett is determined to solve. Her cousin’s life, threatened by some automatons programmed with dastardly instructions, leads her to the heart of the secrets surrounding not only Blackwell Manor, but also the taciturn, yet handsome, Lord Miles.

I thought Miles and Lucy did a great job of balancing each other out, and while both followed familiar character formulas, they have enough unique traits to make them their own people. I thought the world was very well imagined, and I found myself disturbed at the thought of vampires able to hide among their unsuspecting victims, and those cursed to shift hunted merely for spite from the uneducated. The mystery was intriguing and kept me interested.

There were a couple things that bugged me. I felt Lucy’s analytical personality was a bit overdone in some places. She would be crying, but holding on a logical conversation at the same time. I found that a bit jarring. Her detached tone used to describe everything going on made me feel like I was being told many things happened, without seeing much evidence myself, or maybe I just missed the hints and clues. Besides the tone, I felt some things were revealed early, and would have upped the tension to have remained a mystery a bit longer, like Lord Miles’ secrets. But that’s just a personal note.

Overall an interesting steampunk world that makes me hope she write another book, maybe to reveal the mysteries surrounding the other men in Lucy’s life.