Tag: fantasy

First Lines Friday – 15/11/2019

Happy Friday everyone and welcome to today’s First Lines Friday post! If you want to try the opening lines of a book without the bias of a front cover, then this post is for you! Which book am I featuring today?

 

Once upon a time, an angel and a demon fell in love.

It did not end well.

 

Walking to school over the snow-muffled cobbles, Karou had no sinister premonitions about the day. It seemed like just another Monday, innocent but for its essential Mondayness, not to mention its Januaryness. It was cold, and it was dark – in the dead of winter the sun didn’t rise until eight – but it was also lovely. The falling snow and the early hour conspired to paint Prague ghostly, like a tintype photograph, all silver and haze.

On the riverfront thoroughfare, trams and buses roared past, grounding the day in the twenty-first century, but on the quieter lanes, the wintry peace might have hailed from another time. Snow and stone and ghostlight, Karou’s own footsteps and the feather of steam from her coffee mug, and she was alone and adrift in mundane thoughts: school, errands. The occasional cheek-chew of bitterness when a pang of heartache intruded, as pangs of heartache will, but she pushed them aside, resolute, ready to be done with all that.

 

 

I have just finished reading the sequel to this yesterday and I have loved it just as much as this first book! They are so easy to pick up and get absorbed into. I have read other books by this author as well, and all of them have been brilliant! They are all touching, the characters beautifully human and hilariously funny at times.

Shall we find out what it is?

 

Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor

Around the world, black hand prints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

 

Did you enjoy reading the first page of Daughter of Smoke and Bone? Have you read any or all of the series? I’d love to know!

 

 

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Book Review: Making Magic – Allan Walsh

Hi guys and welcome back to my blog! Today’s review is for a short story written by Allan Walsh. At 32 pages, this is a really quick read. If you are looking for something to while away a commute to work or entertain you during a coffee break – this could just be for you!

 

Making Magic – Allan Walsh

Goodreads – Making Magic

Alcus wants to be a writer. When he joins a group to have his work critiqued, things are not what he expected. Alcus soon finds himself drawn into a world of wonder. Can his writing compete against real magic?

 

My Thoughts…

Short stories are a great way to sample an author’s writing style without the commitment of several hundred-page long novels to wade through. My biggest make-or-break factor when deciding if I am going to like a book is the narrative style. The style of Making Magic is very easy to read and get into. It flows so easily that I read this story in no more than fifteen minutes in one sitting, attention unbroken. From beginning to end the story is consistently easy to follow.

The dabbling in and conjuring of magic allows for a lot of detailed description; at times beautiful, others sinister, as fits the story. The detail in which Allan Walsh describes the spells and conjurations makes it very easy to imagine yourself in the same room. Through Alcus’ eyes, we experience the wonder at the magic and the self-doubt he experiences in being able to match such powerful magic through the power of the written word.

Being able to communicate an idea, an image or story through words in such a way that the reader can visualise the same thing is a form of magic. Immersing yourself so deeply into a story that you don’t notice time passing by is a temporary illusion. Words can also make more permanent changes to a person’s perception.

Who knew the power of vividly hallucinating over dead trees?

 

 

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Blog Tour and Giveaway: The Haunting at Paradise House – Killian Wolf

Happy Halloween (Hop Tu Naa) everybody and welcome to a very topical book review – The Haunting at Paradise House by Killian Wolf. I have been looking forward to writing today’s post; not only is it the last day of Blogtober, but I also consider this to be prime review day for this tour!

As always, I would like to kick off the post by thanking Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for organising the tour and inviting me to take part.

 

The Haunting at Paradise House

If you were given the chance to become a powerful sorceress, would you leave behind everything you thought you knew?

When Addison is offered the position of her dreams through a mysterious phone call, she rises to the occasion and moves to the Florida Keys to a mansion called Paradise House. Footsteps from playful ghosts, a room of killer dolls, and an all too intelligent owl lead her to the mysteries that lie within the walls, to reveal the true reason behind her invitation. When dark forces get a hold of her and her patient, Addison is left with no choice but to take extreme measures to protect the ones she loves. Will Addison be able to acquire the necessary skills fast enough in order to protect her patient, and defeat the evil entities that thrive in the mansion?

 

Purchase Links – Amazon UK     Amazon US     Barnes and Noble     Kobo

 

Trailers – 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cRH2NEPDBU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5x11nL-q9X4

 

My Thoughts…

The Haunting at Paradise House is a perfect read at this time of year, and really easy to pick up too! The story centres round Addison taking a new job as a nurse in Paradise House; she ends up taking on far more than she bargained for! Addison’s inquisitiveness gets her in trouble on several occasions, but she cannot leave alone knowing something is amiss. Dax, her new boss, isn’t telling her everything and has a mysterious knack of disappearing and reappearing at the most inconvenient times.

The closet full of dolls is something else entirely! I am not easily freaked out or unnerved, but reading about the dolls made me cringe. They are just so freaky but set the right atmosphere for the house and the story. If I were Addison, I wouldn’t have stuck around!

The Haunting at Paradise House is a great mix of genres. I really enjoyed the combination of the fantasy, mystery and paranormal elements of this book. It isn’t what I would describe as a typical read for me, but that didn’t matter at all. The book is well-paced and has a vast array of unique characters interwoven with a sophisticated storyline that was a pleasure to read.

I would like to see a second book as there is great potential with the characters and the ending of the book. I’ll have to keep my fingers crossed!

 

Giveaway to Win a paperback copy of The Haunting at Paradise House (UK Only)

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494294/

 

Author Bio –

Killian Wolf is a Miami, FL native who enjoys pirates, rum, and skulls as much as she loves writing about dark magick and sorcerers. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Cultural Anthropology and Sociology and a Master of Science in Environmental Archaeology and Palaeoeconomy.

Killian writes books about obtaining magickal powers and stepping into other dimensions. She lives in England with her husband, a tornado of a cat, and the most timid snake you’d ever meet.

When she isn’t writing, you might find her at an Archaeological dig, rock climbing, or sipping on dark spiced rum while working on a painting.

 

Social Media Links –

Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/killianwolf22/

Twitter- @Killian_Wolf22

Instagram- killian_wolf

 

Sunday Summary – 27th October 2019

Hi everyone and welcome to today’s Sunday Summary post! I have been away from my keyboard for over a week, which has been both nice and very strange. Hopefully, you didn’t notice my absence though, as I scheduled plenty of blog posts to tide you over until my return! Today’s post is going to be a fairly quick one, as I have two week’s worth of content to cover and all the mundane jobs of returning from holiday to deal with too.

Since my last Sunday Summary post, I have published a number of posts as part of Blogtober. I can’t possibly discuss them all individually, but if you want to catch up on any of these posts if you missed them they are listed below: –

 

Books Read

Since my last Sunday Summary post, I spent the week leading up to my holiday making progress with After Whorl: Bran Reborn by Nancy Jardine and Visions of Zarua by Suzanne Rogerson. Most of the week was spent on the latter book in preparation for the blog tour I took part in last Sunday. The majority of my reading has been done this week whilst on holiday. Before going away, I also made the briefest starts on listening to Thunderhead by Neil Shusterman.

My first completed book of the holiday was After Whorl: Bran Reborn, as I read the last third of the book in the first couple of days of the trip. From there, I moved on to Circe by Madeline Miller, which took me around three days to read, on and off, whilst enduring some bad weather. Later in the week, the sun came out and I managed to read Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor in less than two days. Finally, in the last couple of days of the trip, I started reading Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky. As of writing this post, I am 22% through the book and hoping to make further headway with it next week.

 

Books Discovered

I have added a few books to the TBR in the two weeks since my last post. The first of these books is Violet, which I added having read a review of the book. I have also added another book to the TBR following a review by the same blogger, which is Defender by G X Todd. The review I read was for the recent third book in the series, whereas I have added the first book to the TBR.

I have also added The Flood to my TBR, I think from reading a review or seeing it on Goodreads. However, I have done my usual and not made a note of where I have seen it so I’m not 100% sure.

 

Coming Up…

I had all my posts scheduled up until my return from holiday, so I am going to be playing catch up this week to finish off Blogtober and complete the challenge! The vast majority of the posts to the end of the month are book reviews for blog tours I have signed up to… so no pressure!

Tomorrow’s post is called Halloween Horrors – I’ll be sharing some spooky reads I have enjoyed if you are looking for inspiration ahead of Halloween this week. On Tuesday I start my four-day blitz of blog tour reviews, the first being for Hallowed Ground by Paul Twivy. Wednesday’s review will be for To Snare a Witch by Jay Raven and Thursday’s post for The Haunting of Paradise House by Killian Wolf.

By then I am done with Blogtober, however, I have an additional blog tour spot on Friday 1st for After Whorl: Bran Reborn. Then, I’m taking a much-deserved break until my usual round-up of the week next Sunday!

 

What have you been reading recently? Please feel free to drop a comment below!

 

 

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My Holiday Reads

I haven’t exactly made a secret of the fact I am going on holiday this month. For today’s post, I want to share with you my intended reading whilst I am enjoying some fabulous company and (fingers crossed) some good weather.

I feel like there is an expectation for women to read chick-lit on holiday. I know it’s supposed to be nice, light reading, but that’s not me. Reading women’s fiction is an exception, rather than the rule when it comes to my reading tastes. Instead, I’ll be taking a variety of genres away with me.

If you want to read why these books appeal to me, check out my Reading List for October.

 

Circe – Madeline Miller

Goodreads – Circe

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child—not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power—the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.

But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

 

Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor

Daughter of Smoke & Bone

Goodreads – Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Around the world, black hand prints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

 

Imaginary Friend – Stephen Chbosky

Goodreads – Imaginary Friend

We can swallow our fear or let our fear swallow us.

Single mother Kate Reese is on the run. Determined to improve life for her and her son, Christopher, she flees an abusive relationship in the middle of the night with Christopher at her side. Together, they find themselves drawn to the tight-knit community of Mill Grove, Pennsylvania. It’s as far off the beaten track as they can get. Just one highway in, one highway out.

At first, it seems like the perfect place to finally settle down. Then Christopher vanishes. For six awful days, no one can find him. Until Christopher emerges from the woods at the edge of town, unharmed but not unchanged. He returns with a voice in his head only he can hear, with a mission only he can complete: Build a tree house in the woods by Christmas, or his mother and everyone in the town will never be the same again.

Soon Kate and Christopher find themselves in the fight of their lives, caught in the middle of a war playing out between good and evil, with their small town as the battleground.

Christopher is seven years old. Christopher is the new kid in town. Christopher has an imaginary friend. The epic work of literary horror from the #1 bestselling author of THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER.

If I finish these, then I have plenty of books on my Kindle to choose from. I have already considered are The Book Thief by Mark Zusak and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. I might also pick up When She Was Bad by Tammy Cohen, but it’s set in an office. Going on holiday is my getting away from that!

I’m not going to set any more books than this in stone. If I finish all the books on the TBR then I can treat myself to reading whatever I would like dependent on my mood. From fantasy to non-fiction; historical fiction to futuristic thriller… I have something for the occasion.

 

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Shelf Contol #8 – 18/10/2019

Welcome to day 18 of Blogtober and today’s post, Shelf Control! Today I am “enjoying” my last day at work before a fantastic week off. I’ll be spending it with my sister and fingers crossed, enjoying some sunshine.

As a refresher, Shelf Control is a meme run by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies – a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves! Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up!

For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out Lisa’s introductory post.

 

I am using Shelf Control to look in further detail at the books I have added to the TBR and then listed as keepers in my Down the TBR Hole posts. I talk about why I want to keep the featured book; it also acts as a second sweep for anything that I may have changed my mind about. I won’t necessarily own all the books (yet), but I will have a reasonable number of them.

Let’s look at the next book on the TBR!

 

Steelheart – Brandon Sanderson

Goodreads – Steelheart

Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics. But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his will.

Nobody fights the Epics…nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.

And David wants in. He wants Steelheart — the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David’s father. For years, like the Reckoners, David’s been studying, and planning — and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience.

He’s seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.

 

My Thoughts…

Brandon Sanderson’s fantasy novels are brilliant. There isn’t a book I haven’t rated highly yet. I have already read the first Mistborn trilogy, The Way of Kings from the Stormlight Archives and just recently, Elantris. I feel more than sure that I am going to be reading a lot more of his books, including this one! Steelheart has been on my TBR since January 2016. Not long…

On a serious note, I can see myself picking this up before too long. My enjoyment of Elantris is fresh in my mind. I’m also trying to avoid some of his other works for now, like the remainder of the Stormlight Archives books. Brandon Sanderson is only writing book 4 of 10 at the moment, and once I get into it, I don’t think I’ll be able to wait patiently for the next book as and when they come out.

 

Have you read many books by Brandon Sanderson? Have you read Steelheart or any other books in The Reckoners series?

 

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Sunday Summary – 13th October 2019

Good evening readers! It’s Sunday night again, so you know what time it is… time for my Sunday Summary post!

Even though I have published posts every day this week, I don’t feel that it has been all that stressful. Now that I’m a little ahead of myself and have gotten into the routine of writing more than one post in a sitting, it’s become easier. I’ve also ended up going to two work social events this week, which has probably contributed as well.

What have I been gracing your screens with this week? I began the week with a discussion post about how to write book reviews, and what I think is important to include. In that post, I talk about why I don’t really use a star rating system on my blog and why it is important to express yourself as honestly as you can, even if you don’t love a book. I published another Top Ten Tuesday post (you guessed it, on Tuesday), in which I list what I think are my top ten achievements since starting my blog. When I started the post I imagined it to be a nice, light-hearted one, but it actually ended up quite personal.

Wednesday was the day for me to publish an audiobook review. This week’s subject was a little okay a lot overdue, having finished listening to it over four months ago. The Painted Man by Peter Brett is an enjoyable read (or listen) for fantasy-lovers and you can find all my views in that post. On Thursday I discussed the results of an experiment I conducted at the end of September. If you are a book blogger and want to find out whether paid advertising is really worth it, I strongly recommend you check out my results before you spend your money. Seriously. Know what you are getting yourself into.

On Friday I shared the introduction to last month’s work book club read (that I didn’t get around to… oops!) in my First Lines Friday post. I definitely want to try and read it on holiday though, so fingers crossed I can catch up with it. Then, yesterday, I shared my list of books I wish I had never read. Thankfully, these are very few and far between; there is nothing worse than investing time in books to end up disappointed.

 

Books Read

Between drafting blog posts, meeting friends for lunch, taking part in a Quiz Night and going bowling with my work friends, it’s amazing I have had time to fit in any reading this week! Following on from last week, I started by making progress with The Haunting at Paradise House by Killian Wolf. You can tell I had a busy week as I only really finished this on Friday after bowling. I had only just about started this last week, so I suppose I almost read it all in a few days.

Yesterday I picked up After Whorl: Bran Reborn by Nancy Jardine. This is my last read of the month for which I have an upcoming blog tour. I have already read 36% of the book and found it quite easy to do so. I can’t see that this will take me too long to finish at all. It’s a lot easier to read than The Beltane Choice, in my opinion. It’s definitely more historical fiction than romantic fiction, which I like.

Visions of Zarua is taking me a lot longer to listen to than I would have liked. My blog tour post is coming up pretty imminently, and I still have seven hours left to listen to. I’m going to put some serious time into listening to it next week to have this completed in time to write my review. I have to. It’s not that I’m not enjoying it, because I am, I just don’t listen to audiobooks very quickly.

 

Books Discovered

So, a few books have been added to the TBR this week. My first addition of the week came from a charity stall in my local Tesco, for the benefit of Cancer Research. I managed to pick up a second-hand, but a good-as-new copy of The Forbidden Queen by Anne O’Brien. You can tell it has never been read by the condition of the spine – not only has it not been cracked, it’s not even stretched.

Thanks to Bookbub, I have also added a couple more books by John Marrs to the TBR. I have already added The Good Samaritan to the list. This week, I added When You Disappeared and Her Last Move, because both sound fantastic!

 

Coming Up…

Blogtober continues and I have a mixed line up of posts to keep things fresh for you guys. Here is what to expect popping up in the near future: –

  • Monday 14th October – Quintessential Quotes: Margaret Atwood edition
  • Tuesday 15th October – Top Ten Tuesday: New releases I am excited for
  • Wednesday 16th October – Book Review: Crowfall by Ed McDonald
  • Thursday 17th October – Book Promo: Darkest Hour by Rachel Churcher
  • Friday 18th October – Shelf Control
  • Saturday 19th October – My Holiday Reads
  • Sunday 20th October – Blog Tour: Visions of Zarua by Suzanne Rogerson
  • Monday 21st October – Netgalley: Yay or Nay?
  • Tuesday 22nd October – Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Worlds I Love
  • Wednesday 23rd October – Tips to get out of a reading slump
  • Thursday 24th October – Autumn: The Season of Reading (for me!)
  • Friday 25th October – First Lines Friday
  • Saturday 26th October – Blogging and Social Media
  • Sunday 27th October – Sunday Summary

 

I have lots of blog posts in this week’s list as I am going on holiday very soon! I already have four of these scheduled, with a draft for a fifth post well underway. I’m going to be prepping these posts before I go, with the exception of my Sunday Summary on the 27th. Even if it’s a brief list, I am going to do my best to update you on everything I have been reading in the two weeks since my last summary.

Wish me luck…

 

Top Blog Posts of the Week

It has been a few weeks, but here are a few blog posts I have stumbled across and enjoyed reading this week: –

Nope Book Tag

Sherlock Holmes and the Christmas Demon by James Lovegrove Book Review. #BookReview #BookBlogger #BookBloggers #SherlockHolmes @JamesLovegrove7 @TitanBooks @Sarah_Mather_15

Book Review: The Winter Sea

A big bookish discovery

Bookish tattoos and my favourite tv show | The Liebster Award 🌰🍂

What have you been reading this week?

 

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Shelf Control #7 – 04/10/2019

Welcome to day 4 of Blogtober and today’s regular feature post, Shelf Control! I am going to be sharing both Shelf Control and First Lines Friday posts throughout October. In light of the recent hiatus I have had to take from these posts due to other blogging commitments, it will be good to get back on track!

As a refresher, Shelf Control is a meme run by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies – a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves! Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up!

For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out Lisa’s introductory post.

I am using Shelf Control to look in further detail at the books I have added to the TBR and then listed as keepers in my Down the TBR Hole posts. I talk about why I want to keep the featured book; it also acts as a second sweep for anything that I may have changed my mind about. I won’t necessarily own all the books (yet), but I will have a reasonable number of them.

It’s week five, so let’s look at the next book on the TBR!

 

Good Omens – Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman

Goodreads – Good Omens

According to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (the world’s only completely accurate book of prophecies, written in 1655, before she exploded), the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. Just before dinner.

So the armies of Good and Evil are amassing, Atlantis is rising, frogs are falling, tempers are flaring. Everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan. Except a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon—both of whom have lived amongst Earth’s mortals since The Beginning and have grown rather fond of the lifestyle—are not actually looking forward to the coming Rapture.

And someone seems to have misplaced the Antichrist . . .

 

My Thoughts…

I love Terry Pratchett’s writing – a fact I think I have already established having read no less than eighteen books of his now. Yeah, that many…

I have more mixed feelings about Neil Gaiman. I have read two books of his to date and whilst one was okay, I really didn’t like another. It’s probably the most popular book he has published too. I can see elements of American Gods in Good Omens, like the stand-off between good and evil etc. I think Pratchett will provide the humour in this partnership; something I felt was missing in American Gods. The lighter tone will sit a lot better with me, or so I am hoping.

Despite my mixed feelings about one of the co-authors, I am still looking forward to reading this book. Many of my friends have read the book and rated it highly, so I am sure I will enjoy it too!

Have you read Good Omens or is it on your TBR? What do you think of it?

 

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Author Interview: Brian McLaughlin

Hi everyone and welcome to today’s interview post with Brian McLaughlin! If you haven’t already checked out yesterday’s book review of Thran Book 1: The Birth, here is a link so you can do so!

I want to hand over to Brian without any preamble, so, shall we get stuck in?!

 

How did you discover writing as a passion?

 

Brian – It goes back a quite a long time, but didn’t take the form of writing, per se. It started around the age of 13 when a friend introduced me to Dungeons & Dragons. By age 15 I had evolved into the dungeon master role and never really relinquished it. I had a solid group of friends and we played through high school and college which lasted almost 9 years. As a dungeon master I wasn’t writing prose, but I was creating adventures all the time which required worlds, creativity, and the art of “telling” a story: describing situations and features to the players, building tension and managing outcomes. I look back at that time as training to become a writer. Towards the end of that period I did begin writing a story, but I only managed 50 pages or so before I moved on to other things in life. However, it planted a seed. From there adult life took over and I embarked on an 18-year hiatus from D&D and anything close to writing. So that leads me to the true answer to your question. I’ve had a great career in business (mostly supply chain), but there was a brief time in 2012 where I found myself in a job that I didn’t find very challenging or rewarding. I remember consciously deciding that if I couldn’t get fulfillment from my work, then I would try to get fulfillment and a sense of accomplishment from some other activity. So, in June of 2012 I literally dusted off the old manuals and began creating the world of Thran with the intent of writing a novel and solving my fulfillment/accomplishment void.

 

Rebecca – I’ve never actually played Dungeons and Dragons. I spent my teenage years playing Dragon Quest, which is much like the format of the group in Thran. More recently than that though, I played countless hours on The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim. It’s essentially a single player version, but you pick your character type and traits which are similar to the characters and factions in the book too.

 

Brian –When it comes to fantasy role playing games, I think you could make an argument that Gary Gygax and TSR really pioneered the genre. Each variation that came after it embellished and tweaked the basic system. The classes and monsters were all familar. In a way it’s not much different than Thran or any work of fantasy fiction after 1970; they all were inspired by D&D.

 

 

Obviously, Thran has alot of overlaps with modern fantasy role-playing games. Are you an avid gamer? What did you play growing up?

 

Brian –Well, I think I answered this question above, but we dabbled in all sorts of role-playing games. The Middle Earth role playing game comes to mind and there were a variety of games we played sporadically but we always returned to D&D. I would still classify myself as an avid gamer as I like to play chess and other strategy-based games on the computer or an app. I even play DDO (Dungeons & Dragons Online) with my adult children which works our great since we can do it from wherever we are!

Rebecca – As I mentioned above, I’ve been a gamer since a teenager really, although I have a lot less time for it now with working full-time and managing my blog in my free time. When I do get a spare hour or two, my current game of choice is Minecraft! It’s quite easy to play as there isn’t too much in the way of storyline or quests, but you can be creative and stop/start as and when.

 

Brian – I’ve dabbled with Minecraft, but world building makes a fun game and Minecraft obviously fits that niche nicely. I grew up on games like pools of radiance which is like the great-great grandmother to Baldurs gate which is a turn based game. So I’m partial to turn based games to this day. Hearthstone has been a favored past time and recently I’ve been playing Dota Underlords. Both are addicting!

 

 

The story has a split narrative between present day and historical events. Which did you enjoy writing more and why?

 

Brian –That’s like asking which of your kids you love more! 😊 Of course, I enjoyed writing both narratives, but for different reasons. If you pressed me, I will say the Anthall narrative, in book one, is more compelling for the reader because it’s a tragic story and focuses on one individual (rather than a group) and his dark journey. We feel for him, or at least I do, because of the choices he’s forced to make and his struggle with his identity. I’ll also say this: in book II I have really enjoyed writing about the “current” narrative because some of the twists and surprises I set up, but probably weren’t obvious or appreciated in book one, are starting to get revealed which draws you more deeply into that narrative. Okay, I love them both! 😊

 

Rebecca – If I had to pick a favourite, I would say I enjoyed the Anthall storyline a little more than the present day. It gives a lot of context to what’s going on… and well, I’m a sucker for all things that contribute to epic world-building.

 

Brian – I’ll be interested to see what you and other readers think of Book two. As you know, when I tell people Thran is an epic story, I’m not kidding. It’s 650 pages long, and I spend a lot of time building the characters and planting seeds. If I can get an ah-ha moment or two from readers, or even better: an “I didn’t see that coming” moment, I’ll feel really good! The world and characters are complex – they just don’t know it yet…the readers AND he characters!

 

 

There is a very extensive map of the world of Thran on your website, https://www.worldofthran.com. How far along in the narrative did this come into creation? Has it helped you with your writing?

 

Brian – Actually, the first thing I did was create the world. Before I wrote the first word, I drew the map with the detail you see today. I also created the pantheon of gods, the calendar, and how I wanted magic to work. Speaking of magic, a lot of people forego the material requirements when they play D&D (we did back in the day) because it’s a little burdensome, but for the world of Thran, I thought the material component would add a nice level of detail and also tied in with the concept of the gods granting the spells – so the material component acted like a sacrifice when required. Another aspect I determined from the start was the dialog. I didn’t want the dialog to be too “fantastical”. I felt that in order to keep the passion of the dialog relevant, I would sacrifice the “historical” aspect and go with more of a modern diction, including the curse-words which I felt strongly needed to stay current. When someone curses, it’s usually trying to convey a deeper context to the situation. It makes serious and tense situations more serious and tense while also making lighter moments even lighter. Using a “made up” or substitute curse could never convey to the modern reader the nuances of the situation and might just feel cheesy. However, in order to make the dialog feel a little different, aged so-to-speak, I used a little trick I came up with: never use contractions. The reader might not have noticed, but if the dialog was read out loud, it would become obvious. The map and all the other foundations I created up front helped me conceptualize the story.

 

 

As an author, what advice would you give to anyone looking to write a book and get published?

 

Brian – Funny you should ask! The journey for writing, editing, marketing, and publishing has been such an educational journey that I started organizing what I’ve learned and seriously considering writing another (much shorter!) book about it. My advice for writers:

  • Writing
    1. Create an environment that inspires you and limits distractions. The routine will help you establish a rhythm and promote creativity.
    2. Give yourself a word count to hit each day or each week, depending on how often you can write. Give yourself a little reward for hitting the count, and if you can blow it away – even better! There are gonna be many days when you can’t hit the count. Find the right balance – where it’s achievable, but not a gimme.
    3. Find software for writing a novel. I used Scrivener and that has been very good. It helps me keep everything organized and easy to find for reference, not to mention it can create all the file types you need for your ebook. There are other software choices out there, so just do a little research.
  • Editing
    1. Editing is a money game. It depends what you can afford. If you have the money a good editor can help you immensely, but for most Indie writers that’s not going to be an option, it wasn’t for me.
    2. If having an editor is not an option, you will almost certainly need help proof-reading and correcting grammar. I hired a professional to proofread Book I and they corrected a ton of stuff. I used a service called Reedsy, and it worked out fine.
    3. Family and friends. Let anyone who wants to read help with editing. I still find issues with Thran Book One today, so it feels like a never-ending process.
    4. It will never be perfect, so eventually you will have to publish the book!
  • Marketing – How do you get anyone to actually read your book!? That’s such a difficult task! LOL.
    1. Social media
      1. This is a great way to build a following but doesn’t translate into sales very well. It’s also time intensive. You need to post once per day, but not too much more than that, and so building a following takes time unless you have a celebrity connection.
    2. Book reviews & Bloggers
      1. Getting your book reviewed is very important. Paying for reviews is less impressive, but if you have to it’s better than nothing.
      2. Voracious Readers Only
        1. I found this to be a very good platform. It connects readers and authors and is how I am building a solid email list
      3. Amazon, Barns & Nobel, others
        1. This comes down to money. My experience is that Amazon has the cheapest advertising, essentially free if you do KDP, and best tools for promoting your book.
        2. I have been in KDP (amazon exclusive) so I have access to the promotional tools, but I am going to try without it for a bit and work other platforms in order to reach a wider audience.
  • Publishing
    1. I didn’t go down the traditional path, but it involves finding an agent and then submitting your work to a lot of publishing houses.
    2. I do know this:
      1. Cover
        1. You’ll need to hook up with an artist unless you can create a cover yourself, which I think would be rare. Today’s art world is ruled by digital art, and depending on the size of your book and the number of pages, it’s not an easy job getting the cover just right.
      2. If you decide to go the traditional route – DO NOT self-publish first. Everything I read, most publishers won’t work with manuscripts that are already published. So if you go the traditional route – find an agent and go from there.
      3. Self-publishing
        1. eBooks
          1. These are pretty straight forward, you just submit them to the site, pick a royalty program and you’re off…well, you still need a cover.
        2. Hard copies
          1. You definitely need a cover and it needs to be very exact in the dimensions of the cover which includes the spine and the back art.
          2. Actually printing books.
            1. I haven’t cracked the code yet on this. Printed copies are very expensive unless you’re willing to invest in quite a bit of inventory.
            2. Amazon is the best. They print on-demand and ship it direct, so no inventory and their printing costs are 30% lower than any other place I found searching the internet.

Rebecca – You have already covered a lot of ground in your experience and it’s invaluable to other hopeful authors out there! I really hope you do publish your advice. No doubt it will come in useful for a lot of people!

 

Brian – Amazon, like they have in so many other ways, has broken down the traditional walls to getting a book published. Which is great, but there isn’t any great manual for new writers to reference. So when someone writes a book, the feeling is like: “now what?” There are soooo many choices out there it creates an analysis paralysis. I hope I can help a few people out!

 

Thanks again to Brian for taking the time to conduct this interview! If you are interested in getting a copy of Thran Book 1: The Birth, the links to purchase are available in my review post!

 

 

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Book Review: Thran Book 1 – Brian McLaughlin

For day 2 of Blogtober I am sharing a book review of Thran Book 1: The Birth, which was sent to me by Voracious Readers Only in exchange for review. Thank you to them and to the author, Brian McLaughlin, who I have been working closely with lately. In addition to today’s review, I will also be sharing an interview with Brian tomorrow. In that post we talk about the fictional world of Thran, the influences behind the book and Brian also shares some of his knowledge and experiences in publishing.

That’s for you to look forward to tomorrow! Today’s post is all about the book, and my honest thoughts on it.

 

Thran Book 1: The Birth

Goodreads – Thran Book 1: The Birth

Set in the mythical world of Thran, a young warrior named Brutal Mixnor sets out on an adventure to uncover the truth about his father’s mysterious disappearance after a battle years earlier. Some longtime friends and new acquaintances join him in his search, each with their own reasons for braving the danger-filled wilds of the Cruel Pass. Follow the young adventurers and watch as their powers grow, along with the strength of the enemies they encounter. Discover the complex, imperfect, characters of all races, comprising the full spectrum of alignments (good, neutral, and evil) that weave their way into and out of the story, leaving their mark on the reader as the world of Thran is pushed towards cataclysmic war and suffering.

For readers familiar with the role playing game Dungeons and Dragons(R), Thran Book I: The Birth will feel like a warm wave of nostalgia washing over you, and the unfamiliar will get a glimpse of what it’s like to be immersed into the heart of an adventure that transports you into a world where magic abounds and almost anything is possible, but nothing is certain. Visit https: //www.worldofthran.com/ to learn more about the world of Thran, including: character portraits, the world map, the pantheon of deities, and more!

 

Purchase Links:  Amazon UK     Amazon US

 

My Thoughts…

When I say Thran is an epic fantasy book, I am not kidding! At 655 pages, this novel stands its ground in the fantasy genre. If you enjoy role-playing games you will recognise the format of the narrative and character types. The structure of the narrative is like Dungeons and Dragons, or perhaps a more modern example, Dragon Quest.

One of the biggest factors that I judge fantasy novels on is the world-building. It was very clear to me from the beginning that a lot of work has gone into developing the world and framing the narrative. The detail illustrates an advanced world, without being excessive or stalling the storyline at any point. This is consistent throughout so the pace of the narrative and balance between action/information is achieved.

The only place I would suggest that there was a little too much detail for me is in the combat scenes. It’s probably a matter of personal preference, but I envisage these as being a little punchier (excuse the pun!) What I will say is that evidently Brian has sequenced these out before committing pen to paper. I was a lot more interested in the continuation of the plot and development of the storyline, so I confess I started to skim-read some of these.

I really enjoyed the dual timeline structure and the narrative of Anthall, perhaps slightly more than the present-day narrative. This contributes to a lot of the historical side of the world-building, and there are subtle ties to the present-day if you can pick up the clues! Having the two intertwining storylines breaks up each storyline so as not to become too lengthy. It makes a refreshing change to read the different perspective. It is too early for what I think will be a complex storyline to be experienced by one set of characters without a rushed conclusion.

I am interested to see how the storyline will pan out throughout the rest of the series. Thran Book 1 provides a strong foundation to a unique fantasy tale and there is plenty more to explore in the world of Thran.

 

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