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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Blog Tour - Richie Earl's Finndragon series

Today I am joining in on a blog tour for my friend Richie Earl by reposting my very first IndiePub review.  I met Mr. Earl last fall on Twitter and we got to know each other a bit after I wrote this review.  Since then, he invited me to cross-post my reviews on his excellent blog, One Thousand Worlds in One Thousand Words.  The blog showcases the works of independent authors as well as reviews of IndiePub work.

As a part of his blog tour, Mr. Earl discounted the two Finndragons books on Amazon.  He is also running a raffle to give away copies of the books.

You can find Finndragon's Curse here:  http://viewBook.at/FinndragonsCurse

Return to Finndragon's Den here:  http://viewBook.at/ReturntoFinndragonsDen

More information on Richie Earl and this Countdown Tour are on his website: http://onethousandworlds.blogspot.co.uk/p/blog-page_3.html

You can enter the raffle for a copy of his books after the review.  I hope you enjoy.

Finndragon's Curse

The Legend of Finndragon's Curse, by Richie Earl is Mr. Earl's first self published novel.  The young adult fantasy adventure is part one of a two part series.  I was introduced to Mr. Earl on Twitter, and found his book on Amazon here.  (note: I purchased the book)

After Emma, Megan, and Scott Davies' father disappeared, all they had left were memories and his tales of an ancient kingdom near their home in Wales.  The curse of the King's own wizard, Finndragon, caused the kingdom to disappear.  Legend says the lost castle and its people are locked in an eternal struggle against Finndragon and his demon horde.  After finding a clue to their father's whereabouts, the children set off to find Dad and unlock the mystery of Finndragon's Curse.


As I read Finndragon's Curse, the tale first reminded me of my own children.  As a father of three, I appreciated the individual personalities of each child.  Emma, the oldest, is strong willed and feels responsible for her sister and brother.  Megan is free spirited and quick to find joy and laughter in any situation.  Scott fears nothing, and is quick to attempt dangerous feats against his sisters' wishes.  Mr. Earl's experiences as a father are apparent in his writing.

The children drive the story forward, searching for their father.  Without spoiling too much of the story for you, they deal with magic, demons, and ancient knights as they unravel the legend behind the lost kingdom.

The book is the first of a two book series, with a satisfying ending that sets up the second concluding book of the series.  I am excited to find out what happens in the second story.

My criticisms to the book are mostly technical.  While I found no issue with the spelling, punctuation, and grammar, Mr. Earl's first book could use a professional edit to clean up the prose and pacing.  I really enjoyed the story, but at times became distracted. 

Reading a recent post of Mr. Earl's work in progress on his new blog here, it is obvious that the author is working to improve his writing style, and in my opinion he is having success.

One final nitpick is with the formatting of the eBook on Amazon Kindle.  There is no "table of contents" in the Kindle version, and I could not jump between chapters.  This is a feature I have become accustomed to as a Kindle reader, and I recommend any indie author try and implement this in their eBooks.

Nitpicks aside, the story is a fun read.  I expect Mr. Earl's writing will only continue to improve, and I look forward to reading more of his work in the future.  If you have not checked it out yet, I highly recommend Mr. Earl's new website.  On it, he features the first 1000 words of books from independent fantasy and sci-fi authors, as well as reviews of independent works.  (Full disclosure, I will post reviews on his site in the future.)  If you want to "try out" some fantasy fiction before you buy, I suggest hitting up http://onethousandworlds.blogspot.com/


Finndragon's Curse is an enjoyable tale of magic, courage, and family.  It suffers from some technical and pacing hiccups, but I look forward to reading the conclusion in book two!  I recommend The Legend of Finndragon's Curse for anyone looking for fantasy fiction from independent authors, and at 99 cents, the book is a great value.


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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Fatherhood

My post frequency has dropped dramatically since January, as you may have noticed.  Other priorities required my time these last few months, which can be summed up with one word:  fatherhood.

Broken Leg


Back in January, my seven year old son broke his ankle, the poor kid.  Of course, this led to many sleepless nights, surgery, casts, and a boot.  The trampoline was not even two weeks old before it claimed its first victim!

The boy was a trooper throughout the whole ordeal.  The 36 hours before the surgery were the most difficult of my nine plus years as a father.  He dealt with intense pain, and we could not comfort him.  The medications we had on hand did not relieve the pain, and there was no time to find something stronger.  His mother and I each slept about 4 hours total those 2 nights, and he slept less.

After surgery, he shined.  He learned to use crutches within a couple hours and soon raced around on them.  By the time the cast came off he begged to get back out on the trampoline and is doing great.  I could not be more proud of him.  Even the boot is off now, and he's back to running around already.

Baseball


In the midst of this, our nine year old son started a new baseball season, and guess who took the reigns as head coach?  Coaching 13 nine and ten year olds keeps me busy and rewards me in ways I never expected.  I helped coach both my boys' baseball teams most years since they started playing, but this age group is different than the past.  The boys understand the game and play at a whole new level.  It is fun watching them learn to excel at and love a sport I love and am passionate about.

New Addition


To top it all off, my wife and I welcomed our fourth child into the world at the end of March.  Our little girl is adorable, loud, alert, and beautiful.

Leading up to her birth, I worried.  I did not feel the same level of excitement I felt during the pregnancies of my first three children.  It's not that I did not want another child, I really did.  But the whole thing started to feel routine.  It didn't feel new, and I felt more relaxed than I thought I should.

I worried that I wouldn't feel the same way about her that I felt for the others.  It's a weird thought to have, but I felt nervous that I would not give her the same attention I gave the others as babies.  Then, of course, I got down on myself and berated myself for being such a terrible father (when nothing even happened yet!).

I'm not going to go into a detailed description of my wife's labor, though I think that would be a great test of my writing ability.  I will say that the moment I saw that slimy, crying, naked baby and cut her umbilical cord, I wept with joy.  I felt exactly the same about her that I felt when introduced to my other three children.  She is mine, and I will do everything in my power to love and raise her the way she deserves.

I wish I could better describe the feeling of meeting your child for the first time.  Throughout pregnancy, there's this surreal understanding of the life inside my wife's womb.  I saw sonogram pictures of her, talked to her, felt her kick and hiccup.  Yet in that moment that she burst onto the scene and announced her presence with a mighty cry, everything in my life changed. 

I could not breath.  I could not speak.  All the cares and stresses of the world faded away.  Our family became more complete in that moment than it had been before.  And the weirdest thing?  I can't remember or imagine life without her as a part of it, and she is only two weeks old.


I hope you'll excuse my ramblings.  I needed to write, as it has been too long since the last time (even my review of Fiona's book was nearly complete months ago before I could get around to finishing it and posting it).  Thank you for reading.  As our daughter let's us sleep again, I plan to fix my daily routine and get back to reading and writing.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Indie Review - Faerie Tales

Hello again all.  It has been a crazy month here, but I'm getting back into the swing of things with another Indie Review.

Those who follow on Twitter may have noticed some of my reviews are available on 1000 Worlds in 1000 Words, a great blog that features the first 1000 words of #IndiePub books along with information on their authors.  It is a great site.  I recommend you check it out.

If you want to know more about today's #IndiePub author and Faerie Tales, visit 1000 Worlds  as author Fiona Skye and the book are featured there. (http://onethousandworlds.blogspot.com/2014/02/FS.html)

Faerie Tales

Faerie Tales is the first book of the "Revelations" trilogy by Fiona Skye.  Ms. Skye can be found on Twitter (@FionaSkyeWriter), Google+ (+Fiona Skye) or at her blog (http://fiona-skye.com/).  I met her on Twitter and she gave me a copy of Faerie Tales for an honest review.  You can find the book on Amazon (http://amzn.to/1imESg0).

Riley O'Rourke is a werejaguar responsible for exposing the world of the Preternatural to the rest of Humanity. But not all the things that go bump in the night are happy with the new world order.

The Queen of the Winter Court, a cruel and vicious faerie, is determined to punish Riley for her role in the Night of Revelations and sends some of the nastiest storybook characters imaginable after her.

Salvation comes from the Summer Queen, who asks Riley to steal a magical artifact from the Winter Queen, a mirror that will determine the winner in the eternal war between the Fae Courts. Riley's reward for returning the mirror is the protection of the Summer Court.

Joining Riley on this quest are her mentor, a 3,000-year-old vampire, and Riley's lover, a federal law enforcement agent with a secret of his own.

Their successful completion of this quest has unexpected consequences that could doom the entire world.


Fiona Skye writes well in Faerie Tales.  She has a sharp command of language, and the book comes across well edited.  I was impressed with how Ms. Skye's prose flows throughout the book. 

As I read this book, I most enjoyed the way Ms. Skye intertwines several different types of modern fantasy details into the novel.  There are were-creatures (not just wolves either, but many animal types), vampires, faeries, and magicians.  Magic exists, both old and new.  Ms. Skye takes the time to mix various real life myths and superstitions into one universe, and I found it worked to move the story along.

The book is written in the first person, from Riley's point of view.  It makes sense then, when Riley transforms, so does the author's writing style.  The character changes to something more primal and instinctual, no longer concerned with telling a story.  The glimpses of "Jaguar's" motivations and understanding of the world added to Riley's own emotions about being a preternatural.

If there was one part of the book I had trouble connecting with, it is with Riley and her romantic relationships.  As a man married most of my adult life, I could not relate to Riley in this regard.  Riley struggles with her feelings toward a love interest throughout the book.  Still, Ms. Skye spends ample time explaining Riley's troubled past, which helps put Riley's struggles into perspective. 

I wonder if in the future Riley will come to realize some of her issues with relationships are actually based in how the character approaches relationships and sexuality in the first place.  It would be interesting to see her grow in this regard in future books, and not fall into some sort of "love conquers all" simple solution.

While the book is a little slow to build up to the action, I was satisfied in the end.  I felt the book successfully sets up the world in which Riley lives and builds the necessary tensions and antagonists that will take the trilogy forward into book two.

I am excited to see how Fiona Skye continues the Revelations Trilogy.  She most impressed me with her clean writing style and ability to intertwine a number of disparate elements into a cohesive world. 

I recommend Faerie Tales to anyone looking for a modern fantasy tale of magic and preternatural action with a little romance thrown in, and look forward to seeing more of Ms. Skye's work in the future.