Falling For Words

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For us, the most important part of writing is to make our reader fall in love, and an author can do this in a few ways.

Firstly with a relatable or sympathetic character. This doesn’t necessarily mean a hero, or even a generally nice person, but it is someone who the reader can connect to. For example Myrnin from The Glass House series. Myrnin had his quirks, wore bunny slippers, and was losing his mind; all of these things added to the reader feeling for him and connecting to him. He also killed his former assistant to connect her brain to his computer so that he could try to find a cure for his insanity. Not exactly a hero, but a memorable and favoured character.

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Then there are high stakes. The higher the better. Putting good characters in bad situations or facing insurmountable odds pushes your reader to root for them, to become invested emotionally in the outcome of the characters you created. For example, Vampire Academy (major spoiler alert) uses high stakes throughout the series to keep the readers on edge but completely invested. The series starts with the Strigoi as the big bad, the stakes escalate when they begin targeting the royal line of vamps–the MC’s best friend is one of these royals. The series builds again when the main love interest is turned into a Strigoi, prompting the MC to hunt the man she loves.

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Another way is to give us an unexpected ending. Turning your reader on their head can leave a lasting impression, especially when that final scene is one of happiness and joy. I do not know anyone who has said, ‘oh that book where the main character dies and the guy she loves is left alone forever, yes that book, I sooo wanna read that again’. Sorry, but give us a struggle and take us to some dark places but you better leave us and the MC in a better place at the end if you want a place in our heart.

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Finally, and this could be considered the best way to secure a pace in our heart–Make us swoon. Sweep us off our feet. We need the characters to interact with each other in a way that connects to the reader. Give us the friends to lovers, enemies to friends, friends to enemies to friends to lovers.

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The books you fall for are the ones you re-read. Rebecca fell for Vampire academy, and fell hardest for Last Sacrifice which she read three times. Heather fell hard for VA too, but also for The Lunar Chronicles and Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda.

What words have you fallen for? What books are forever in your heart?

 

Review: Alice in Murderland (Magical Bookshop Mystery #1) by Samantha Silver

When Alice Calliope takes over her recently deceased aunt’s bookshop in Sapphire Village, Oregon, she’s not expecting her world to be flipped upside down, but that’s exactly what happens when her cousin Cat reveals to Alice that she’s actually a witch. Add in the fact that the two of them stumble upon a dead body, and Alice’s first day in town ends up being a lot more eventful than she could have possibly imagined!

What was supposed to be a simple cross-country move winds up with Alice having to learn how to navigate a whole new magical world while at the same time trying to clear Cat’s name as she emerges as the main suspect in the murder. Add in the eccentric Grandma Cee, witchcraft lessons, a whiny old ghost and the laziest cat ever, and Alice definitely has her hands full.

With pressure mounting for the super-hot local sheriff to arrest her cousin, will Alice be able to hunt down the real killer before it’s too late?

Let me begin by saying the general story here is pretty good and the characters quirky and easy to relate to. That said, I feel like this book skipped a step in its path to publication. There are some rather large distractions from the story that, though I pushed past them to finish the story, would have normally had me closing the book after the first few chapters.

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The writing is a lot of telling, something that I can overlook if the plot has substance, but this too was lacking in many parts; I felt like there could be so much more to this story.

The main character is in her late twenties, speaks like a teenager and even after finding a dead body feels no need to call and speak to her mother, the woman who raised her. In no part of this story does she even contemplate calling her.

The ‘pressure’ implied is being put on the Sheriff to arrest her cousin, is no more than one person accusing her cousin of the murder shortly after the body is found. There is no other times that it is mentioned about her being a suspect, except by the main character herself and this is assumptions based off the initial rant of the dead woman’s best friend, not off actual interaction with or pressure from the Sheriff.

There are many contradictions that I found extremely frustrating, more so, because I know that they could have easily been picked up by a good beta reader. The witchcraft lessons with Grandma Cee consisted of one afternoon and only three different spells, that are not even spells, but simply thinking about what she wants to happen then pointing. How does someone need lessons in this?

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Also, if this is all that is needed and Alice is so good at it, why hobble up the stairs on her crutches, why not float herself up, why not just think about her sprained ankle and make it better? The idea behind how they use magic is somewhat different to what is already out there, but leaves wondering about the rules.

The Others were introduced by implicating them in her aunt’s death, and used as the basis for calling Alice to the town, but that was all. Why tell us about the Big Bad and then give us nothing? I felt like this part of the story might be setting up for future books, but I don’t think I will be reading them.

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I wanted to review something this month that was fun and easy to read. Alice in Murderland was somewhat fun, but was not easy to read. The inconsistencies in writing style, no real feel for time, contradictions and even character name changes made it a struggle.

A solid 3 star read with a cute cover. Alice in Murderland will suit younger readers that will potentially miss the flaws that perturbed me throughout.

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Review: Into the Mists – Book One of the Into the Mists Trilogy by Serene Conneeley

Enter the swirling mists of an enchanted land, and open your heart to the mystery…

Carlie has the perfect life. A wonderful family and a best friend she adores. A house by the beach so she can go surfing after school. A clever, rational mind and big dreams of becoming a lawyer. A future she’s excited about and can’t wait to begin.

But in a split second her perfect life shatters, and she is sent to the other side of the world to live with a stranger. In this mystical, mist-drenched new land, she is faced with a mystery that will make her question everything she’s ever known about her parents, her life and her very self. A dark secret that made her mother run away from home as a teenager. An old family friend who is not what he seems. A woman in blue who she’s not convinced is real. A shadowy black cat that she’d swear is reading her mind. A deserted old cottage she can’t always find. And a circle of wild-haired witches who want her to join their ranks.

Will she have the courage to journey into the mists, and into her own heart, to discover the truth? And can she somehow weave together a life that she’ll want to live – or will she give up and allow despair to sweep her away from the world forever?

A Melodic tale of loss and a magical journey of self-discovery and acceptance.

This beautiful story follows Carlie as she tries to come to grips with the loss of her parents and the sudden upheaval of her life. Serene has written the tale to include quite detailed descriptions of casts and rituals Carlie and her mother perform. You could easily complete such rituals yourself following the descriptions in the story. The story inspires the reader to look at their own life as the main character Carlie does hers.

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Gabrielle Baker narrates the audio book. Her beautifully calming voice tells the story in a tranquil tone, switching between a few voices slightly with each characters dialogue. She does well with the mix of Australian and English accents, only once or twice did I giggle at her pronunciation of an Aussie word. I listened to the story at 1.3x speed. As a faster reader myself, I felt the original a little slow for me, but the story allows for the increase without feeling rushed.

I loved the backwards and forwards timeline that Serene used to intertwine Carlie and Violet (her mother) stories. Flashbacks, diary entries and dreams are each employed in telling this magical captivating tale.

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When Carlie began to read from the book her mother had owned as a teen, I did not at first realize it was Carlie reading. When reading a physical book you would see the change in script or a detail to show that the character is reading a letter or diary entry of sorts, but when listening to an audio book, the transition wasn’t as easy to keep on top of. This of course did not take away from the story or my enjoyment of the novel as a whole.

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I look forward to reading more of the Into the Mists Trilogy, and if you have not tried an audio book before, click HERE and you can get your first book free. Why not give Into the Mists a chance to captivate you the way it has me.

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Rebecca Bosevski is the author of Enchanting The Fey, a fairy tale for grown-ups. She lives on the sunny coast of Australia with her husband and three children. When not writing she will often be found with her nose in a book.

Author Interview: Kaz Delaney

This month on Aussie Owned and Read we’re celebrating the arrival of two new bloggers with round-robin interviews, and today I have the pleasure of interviewing one of our newbies, Kaz Delaney. Kaz is the award-winning author of YA novels, Dead, Actually, Almost Dead and The Reluctant Jillaroo. So to kick things off I’ll ask the obvious question writers get;

  1. What made you want to be a writer?

I truly believe I didn’t have a choice with this authorly gig. My earliest memories are of stories playing out in my head – and yes that sounds creepy and probably is/was. It’s never gone away and I can’t stop. There’s no ‘off’ button. And while that’s a blessing and I’m enjoying a lovely career that’s spanned a couple of decades, I gotta say it can also be a curse. Like sometimes – okay, not often – but sometimes I’d just like to hang out a ‘no vacancies’ sign. You know? Sometimes it’s very tiring carrying around so many people and situations in your head. #needabiggerhead. Ha!

  1. Which authors do you most admire, and why?

OO! Holding up crossed fingers. Like I’m scaring off a werewolf or something. This is pretty much a taboo question for me. It’s a brain exploding question. I truly couldn’t begin to list them. Basically I’m a genre gal and I love trying new authors in those genres.

  1. How do you maintain your motivation during the rough times?

There are different kinds of rough times. For those times when for physical reasons I can’t get to a computer or scratch out time to write, I simply try to keep the goal in sight. Maybe keeping my motivation alive is a better way of looking at it. It’s a beast and it’s gotta be fed. So, I think about stories, play them out in my head. Jot down notes when I can. Play ‘what if’.

For times when I can’t write due to extreme emotional or health reasons and my muse puts out the Do Not Disturb sign? I read. Reading is another way of feeding the beast.

The thing I’ve learned is not to panic if I’m feeling ‘empty’. I’ve learned my creativity will be there waiting for when I’m ready. And it’s usually got a few nice surprises for me. And an idea is the best motivation to get going again. Right?

  1. Did you have to give up anything to make this all happen, and do you regret any of it?

OMG – are you talking about sleep?? Says she typing this at 4am! No, seriously, any form of success or self actualisation is likely to require sacrifice of some kind. That’s life. Mine is probably family time, though I try to balance and be fair. They understand that I have commitments and deadlines. It’s clever to be aware, though, if your sacrifice is something like this – that it’s a two way street. If you’re sacrificing family time then the family is as well. Make them proud but don’t make them pay. Find the balance.

  1. Are you a plotter or a pantser, and is you current system working for you?

Plantser all the way! Ha! Obviously I’m neither. I used to think I was a plotter because I can’t begin a story until I have all my ducks in a row. That is – know my characters, the conflict, their motivations, setting and the general story line.  But I realised one day that I’m not really a plotter; that I simply need this information to start writing.

Sure, I need a jump off point, but after that? Basically I know the beginning of the story and who populates it. I know how I think it will end and I ‘might’ know the black point. But how I fill the space between the beginning and the end? That’s an organic process and the characters dictate that journey. Rarely do they lead me astray. But that’s probably because I’m a huge GMC fan. Goal Motivation Conflict.  I always need to know that before I start.

  1. What feeling do you want readers to get from what you write?

Satisfaction, I guess. A sense that these people/characters they’ve devoted their time to are worth it; that they care what happens next. I always judge a great book by how long it stays with me after I’m finished reading. That’s what I want: the reader to be thinking about my characters and their story the next day at school or driving to work. Or as they drift off to sleep.

  1. What are the biggest struggles you face in this journey, and how do you plan to overcome them?

Hard question. A bit like stones being tossed up by a passing truck, things are often going to be thrown at your career. Like the truck thing, they’re random. You might not expect them and you’ll never know when they’re coming.

Over the years I’ve had agent issues, publishers closing or closing the line you write for as well as personal issues determined to derail.

I thought back to the last of these soul searing events and here’s how I coped. I gathered my people. My author friends. Those who’ve been on this journey with me for a long time. We ate, we drank, we talked and we planned.

Yes, I’m very, very lucky to have them. They’re my backup. They’re brutally honest and yet fiercely loyal. They won’t blow hot air up my skirt. But out of the train crash inside my head, they help me to find the pieces and put them back together again. I came away with a plan and direction. It was all there in my head, they just saw through the smog.

If you don’t have such a group, find one. If you can’t find a physical group to join, online groups abound for whatever you write. You’ll find your soulmates.

  1. Will or have you entered any writing contests and if so how did you fair.

I’ve always been incredibly lucky in contests – I’ve always finalled and I’ve been fortunate to have been honoured with industry awards. But while I think the contests are great, I’m not sure they helped me personally with my career because I entered contests after I was already published.

That said, I recommend them. What they will do is give you a sense of where you stand in the scale of things. Contest feedback can be invaluable – whether you agree with the comments or not. Most have multiple judges though and if they’re all saying the same thing, or giving you the same-ish score – then you’d be a bit silly not to take heed.

  1. What are you working on at the minute?

Right at this minute the work is a bit of a departure, actually. My agent and I have been tossing around an adult suspense idea for a couple of years and now is the time to try it out. It’s huge fun. Like ditching school for the day – but with the added bonus of having permission! The next YA is back in the rural arena. More girls and horses! And very cute heroes!

  1. How can readers discover more about you and your work?

My website is being rebuilt! But soon you’ll find it at http://www.kazdelaney.com.au

Most of the news and action is on my blog: The Ditzy Diva – Kaz Delaney WordPress. I’d love you to drop by! https://wordpress.com/post/kazdelaney

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Kaz-Delaney-author-180831465352841/

Twitter: @readKazdelaney
I hope you all enjoyed finding out a little more about Kaz. If there is something you would like to know that I didn’t cover, you can drop her a question in the comments.

I am looking forward to reading more from Kaz, and again I want to welcome her to Aussie Owned and Read.

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Rebecca Bosevski is the author of Enchanting The Fey, a fairy tale for grown-ups. She lives on the sunny coast of Australia with her husband and three children. When not writing she will often be found with her nose in a book.

Review: Enchant: Beauty and the Beast Retold (Romance a Medieval Fairytale #1) by Demelza Carlton

A beastly prince. An enchanting beauty. Only love can break the spell.
Once upon a time…
The wicked King Thorn forced the enchantress Zuleika to cast a terrible curse. She fled his court to travel the world, helping those who need her magic most. Until a search for her merchant father’s lost ships leads her to an enchanted island, where Prince Vardan, the island’s ruler, is afflicted by the most powerful curse Zuleika has ever encountered. She’s not sure she can reverse the spell, but she’s determined to try. After all, a prince who fights pirates can’t be all bad…no matter how beastly his appearance.
Together, can the enchanting beauty and the beastly prince break the spell?

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With the live action film Beauty and the Beast set to hit screens in only a few short weeks (yes I have my Chicks at the flicks tickets already) I was excited to read this retelling of a much loved old tale. Now I do not know about you, but when I read a name, I often read it all kinds of wrong. The MC of this story is named Zuleika, now this was not an easy name to wrap my head around, my brain read it as Zoo-lee-ka, I hope that is right. If not, my apologies to Demelza Carlton.

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Zuleika is the ‘Belle’ of this story and a witch, the same witch that is responsible for the curse on the prince. This twist was a fantastic set up to the story, and her conflict with the king was a fantastic way to steer the story towards the prince without feeling like you were just going through plot setup.

About 1/3 in, Zuleika is faced with the beast and the town he lives in, and it is then that she should have known it was her curse immediately, but for some reason she doesn’t figure it out herself till much later on. I would have liked to have her acknowledgement of her curse to herself as soon as she sees the beast and the town. Then the conflict with trying to figure out if she should, or how she can remove the curse could unfold in a more believable timeline.

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In all stories we need to get a feel for who the MC is and what drives them, I would have loved to get to know Zuleika better before being thrown into the Belle/Beast plot line, but Demelza has still managed to create likable characters that are both believable and engaging none the less.

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I enjoyed the overall plot, but did feel like it was missing some heft in the middle of the story.  Perhaps another 10,000 words could have helped me to feel stated, but that does not mean I did not enjoy it. A good book should have you wanting to read more, but a great book has you feeling like the story was played out and wishing you could go back to a time where you had not began the story, just so you could start over and experience it all again for the first time.

A solid 3.5 stars. I took one star off for the unfulfilled potential of the story itself, and a half star off for the title. ‘Enchant’ though on the cover looks really pretty, the word itself is a little too sharp for me, especially with such a heart warming story. Read it if you love retellings, or just need a Beauty and the Beast fix before the live action hits us in a few weeks.

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 Rebecca Bosevski is the author of Enchanting The Fey, a fairy tale for grown-ups. She lives on the sunny coast of Australia with her husband and three children. When not writing she will often be found with her nose in a book. you can find her on Facebook here.

Review: Tainted Blood (Dramir #1) by Yajna Ramnath

Welcome to Dramir, a city where the blood never stops flowing

The streets of Dramir have always been protected under the rule of the reigning King. It was all because of his not so secret weapon.

A weapon they called the assassin. A weapon with long-dark hair, savage soulless eyes and a body built for sin.

She wielded a sword as one would breathe air. She danced in blood as one would dance in rain. She laughed in the face of death as one would laugh at a bad joke.

It was believed that the day the assassin experienced emotion, the world of Dramir as they knew it would crumble under the force of her shattering heart.

How could you break the heart of someone who had long since lived without one?

How could you fight against the darkness when she forced light to do her bidding?

Most importantly how could you hide, when she came looking for you?

 

Tainted Blood is fantastic. I did not know that it had been previously published and then rewritten before being released under this title, and to tell you the truth, I prefer this title, cover image and story line better than the original.

Atalia is a likable MC and her voice is consistent throughout. A kick-ass warrior type, she cuts off heads without a second thought and goes right back to what she was doing prior, no hesitation and certainly no remorse. Ramnath does a fantastic job of portraying Atalia, her lack of emotion and her overall queen-of-cool self.

Nathaniel Drake I did not like from the beginning and enjoyed the end of his story-line immensely. However, I thought there could have been a few more interactions with him throughout the story before the final chapter.

Cassius is one of those characters you think you have a handle on, but then realise at the end of the book, that you really don’t know all that much about them. This doesn’t distract from the likability of the character, but does leave me hoping his story is explored more in any sequel that may follow.

Shayur is even less memorable, and I feel his character could have been combined with his father’s with little to no effort or effect on the overall story-line.

The other characters played their parts well enough to push the story forward, but didn’t stand out to be overly memorable for any particular reason. This is not a bad thing. The story focuses on Atalia for the most part, and though at times Ramnath glossed over parts of the story where I felt like there could have been more, the end result was an enjoyable read, and I will recommend it to all those who is in need of an explosive fantasy fix, that mixes vampires, shifters and witches with gods and mythology.

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Overall a 3.5 star book bordering on 4 stars. I hope to see more from this author in the near future.

 

Screen Shot 2015-08-14 at 10.45.01 PMRebecca Bosevski is a speculative fiction author living on the east coast of Australia. Her debut novel, Enchanting the Fey, is the first in a trilogy and combines old world Fey magic and a sassy contemporary main character.

 

 

Review: Slave, Warrior, Queen (Of Crowns and Glory – Book 1) By Morgan Rice

17 year old Ceres, a beautiful, poor girl in the Empire city of Delos, lives the harsh and unforgiving life of a commoner. By day she delivers her father’s forged weapons to the palace training grounds, and by night she secretly trains with them, yearning to be a warrior in a land where girls are forbidden to fight. With her pending sale to slavehood, she is desperate. 

18 year old Prince Thanos despises everything his royal family stands for. He abhors their harsh treatment of the masses, especially the brutal competition—The Killings—that lies at the heart of the city. He yearns to break free from the restraints of his upbringing, yet he, a fine warrior, sees no way out. 

As a fan of Morgan Rice, I was excited to start Slave, Warrior, Queen. The story takes off with a running start, as we are instantly thrown into the brutal world Rice has created. Delos, is certainly a place none would chose to be born to, the guards can beat or kill any they choose, as is made clear within the first chapter when a young boy is held and beaten within an inch of his life because he stole an apple.

This act of brutality takes place while Ceres is making her way to an exciting event – The Killings. Yep, this threw me too at first. How could Ceres be so disgusted with the treatment of the thieving child, yet be excited to attend the Killings?

Ceres views those participating in the Killings as being something to aspire to be, the Combat Lords are respected, envied by Ceres for their chance at valour and respect. This was the only thing I found hard to believe throughout the book. Even when Ceres herself is made a weapons master for the prince Thanos, did her opinion of the Combat Lords remain unchanged. She even displays distaste for those she believes do not deserve to be made a part of the Killings.

The novel is told from a few points of view, each easily distinguishable within the first sentence, rather than making the change too obvious by starting the chapter off with the POV’s name. I liked reading from Thanos POV most of all, I felt his view of the world he was a part of was exceptionally well written and like each reader, we all find our own favourites, he was simply mine.

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I did feel that there was no real ending to this book. I reached the end and felt as if I had reached the end of a chapter not the end of the novel. This being a series I was immediately compelled to buy the next book, so I guess the desired effect was achieved, however, a simple epilogue would have sufficed to quench my thirst for an ending and still leave me wanting more.

I give Slave, Warrior, Queen 4 stars.

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It lost half a star for the lack of ending and another half for the title. Though it is catchy, crisp and original, I feel like it is slightly misleading, Cares begins a slave of sorts, progresses to a warrior, but not to a Queen. The Queen plays a small role in this novel, not one that I felt deserved to be in the title. Rebel might have made a more accurate word choice.

I hope you go and check out Slave, Warrior, Queen, you will be cheering for Rice’s characters at every turn of the page, but be warned, Rice is not afraid to kill off the ones you love.

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Rebecca Bosevski is the author of Enchanting the Fey – a fairytale for grownups. It can be purchased here.