Thursday, July 24, 2014

Amazon Ratings

The position of my books on Amazon's Best Seller lists fluctuates throughout each day. Still, it's a good way to gauge how I'm doing with readers. There have been times when I haven't been on the list at all (it's only the top 100), but lately I've been doing fairly well! Over the past couple of months I've been #25 or better in children's fantasy. Then, last night I noticed that "The Threshold Child" was #8 on that list! I should mention that the first 7 books on that list were Harry Potter. That means that right now (because I've maintained that position) the only books selling better than mine on Amazon's Kindle is Harry Potter! I'm really excited about this, and I wanted to share. I never imagined that my books would do so well. My husband only convinced me to publish through KDP because he said that I had nothing to lose. The worst that could happen was that no one would buy it. I figured he was right, but I thought I would probably only sell a thousand copies before interest faded to nothing. There have been more than 10 times that number in downloads for "The Threshold Child" alone, and I am so amazed and grateful for the support of so many wonderful readers. Thank you all for making my dream of being a writer possible!

Here is a screen shot from Amazon:


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Update and ANNOUNCEMENT!

Things around my home have been pretty busy. We are trying to sell our condo and are building a house in a different city about a half hour's drive away. Also, I have a two-year-old and a seven-month-old. That alone makes for lots to do. Haha! I also recently had a birthday. I imagine that each of you is silently wishing me a belated happy birthday, so thank you for that! I haven't had a whole lot of time for writing until recently, but my husband and I are coming up with a few ideas to fix that. Because of his help in the matter, I have had a few days this last week to get some writing done! Hurray for my husband! I am now more than halfway done writing chapter four, and I'm feeling good about how this story is taking shape. I know that may not seem like much, but considering that I originally planned on taking a six month break after my daughter was born, I'm doing pretty good!

I've also settled on the title for book 3, and I've decided to announce it now rather than waiting. It will be...(drum roll, please)

THE LABYRINTH OF DESTINY

This title references a comment made by Ravi in the first book. He said, "Destiny is like a labyrinth. One is given the choice of paths, but once on that path one is required to follow it until a new choice is presented." In this upcoming book, Adesina will be faced with the choices that will decide the path that she takes--the path of the Threshold Child. I look forward to seeing where Adesina's path leads (even I don't know everything that's going to happen yet!) and I hope that you will, too. 

I'll try to keep updates posted as I go (and excerpts once it's nearer to being finished), both here and on my facebook page. Please let me know if you have any questions or if there's any random trivia about Adesina's world that you'd be interested in knowing more about. I'd be happy to share! 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Book Review: "The Unfinished Song (Book 1): Initiate" by Tara Maya

I did a brief spotlight for this book a while ago, but I finally got around to reading it. Here is my full review.


Amazon link:
http://www.amazon.com/Unfinished-Song-Initiate-Young-Fantasy-ebook/dp/B004H4XE5I/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1403142400&sr=8-1&keywords=tara+maya

Amazon description:
DEADLY INITIATION

A DETERMINED GIRL...
Dindi can't do anything right, maybe because she spends more time dancing with pixies than doing her chores. Her clan hopes to marry her off and settle her down, but she dreams of becoming a Tavaedi, one of the powerful warrior-dancers whose secret magics are revealed only to those who pass a mysterious Test during the Initiation ceremony. The problem? No-one in Dindi's clan has ever passed the Test. Her grandmother died trying. But Dindi has a plan.


AN EXILED WARRIOR...
Kavio is the most powerful warrior-dancer in Faearth, but when he is exiled from the tribehold for a crime he didn't commit, he decides to shed his old life. If roving cannibals and hexers don't kill him first, this is his chance to escape the shadow of his father's wars and his mother's curse. But when he rescues a young Initiate girl, he finds himself drawn into as deadly a plot as any he left behind. He must decide whether to walk away or fight for her... assuming she would even accept the help of an exile.


 My review:
1 out of 5 stars--I was able to finish it, but I would not read it again.

I feel my rating needs an explanation, so bear with me while I give a brief synopsis before I go on to give my reasons for only giving this book one star.

The story follows a number of characters, and eventually all of the various stories bring the characters into Dindi's life. She is a youth from a very rudimentary village--as in, the people live in huts made of dirt and their lives are focused on survival. Dindi dreams of becoming a Tavaedi (a magic-user whose powers are invokes through dance), and she will get the opportunity to try for a position in the secret society during her initiation into adulthood. However, Dindi's world is one of strife, and the journey to the place of initiation is more dangerous than she could have imagined.

First let me focus on what I liked about the book. The author is quite a talented writer, and she paints a world that is immediately engaging. The dialogue is natural and convincing, and there are bountiful details that make the world seem more real. The author has given thought to what the people would eat, what they would wear, what tasks would be necessary each day, etc. I love such practical details. It makes a story more rich for me. And even though Dindi (and the other characters involved in this story) belonged to a world vastly different from my own, I could still relate to what they were feeling and how they handled various situations. I remembered being fourteen years old (as Dindi is) and feeling like a misfit, wanting to be so much more. The author made that connection with me as a reader, and I really cared what happened to each of the characters. I would have loved to see where the story took them.

However, I will not read future books in this series, nor will I read this one again.

The world in which this story takes place is a dark one. That is understandable. After all, there has to be some sort of conflict, otherwise there would be no story. Unfortunately, the author was quite detailed in the forms of darkness found in this story. It describes several instances of rape, cannibalism, infanticide, torture, and battle (not just fighting, but descriptions of the blood and gore). Not to mention a brief scene that contained some nudity (mild, I suppose, compared to some other books, but still there), and some abrasive language. There were several times I almost stopped reading because of how sickened I felt inside. In my opinion, this book should not be classified as YA fantasy. I would not want the teenagers of my family reading this kind of content.

Now, I understand that these are (unfortunately) very real situations. I don't mean to act like things such as rape and murder do not happen. That being said, I want to read books that leave me feeling better for having read them. This book did not do that for me. The author has slated the series to be 12 books long, and she has said that it has a happy ending. Personally, I do not wish to trudge through figurative mud in order to arrive at a destination that could have been reached by other means.

I acknowledge that I have rather conservative standards, and I know that the things that bothered me may not bother others. Still, I felt it important to write a review so that those who share my conservative standards are aware of what this book entails.

On a purely technical note, I didn't care for how often the story jumped characters. It was more than halfway through the book before any of the separate stories came together. It gave it a slightly disjointed feel, which I didn't like. As I read I assumed that eventually all of the different people would be relevant to the main story (Dindi's), but it took a while for that to happen. There was also one instance where modern slang was thrown into the dialogue (which is a pet peeve of mine), but it only happened the once. 

These are relatively minor things, though. My main reason for the poor rating is the content. If you are not bothered by such things, then you may like this book. If you are more sensitive (as I am), then I would advise against reading it.

For more details on my rating system, click here.

Threshold Trivia: Kendan's Blood Weapon

My husband suggested doing a post about Kendan's Blood Weapon, since it may not be a commonly known weapon. I figured it might be fun for you faithful few readers to learn a bit of random knowledge that you probably won't ever use again. Haha!

First of all, let me talk a bit about Blood Weapons. In my stories within the Threshold Trilogy, those who have graduated Shimat training are given a weapon that has been infused with a few drops of their own blood. The belief behind this tradition is that the weapon was made with a part of you, and therefore it truly belongs to only you. Only the true owner can utilize the weapon to its fullest potential, supposedly. The Shimat are given a variety of weapons, according to their talents and preference. Adesina has a sword, and Kendan has a meteor hammer.

For those of you who like to know the practical details, I did a bit of research to see if adding blood to metal during the forging process would compromise the integrity of the finished product. I found that if it was only a small amount (i.e. a few drops) that it wouldn't make a difference.

The meteor hammer was originally a Chinese weapon and it called by a number of names. Of the options I found, I liked meteor hammer best (although, "dragon's fist" is pretty cool, too). The meteor hammer can be used as both a defensive and offensive weapon. Kendan's meteor hammer has a dagger on one end and a metal ball on the other, but most commonly you will only see the metal ball on one end and a handle on the other or a metal ball on both ends.


When using the meteor hammer, one will swing it around the body to build up speed and then strike at any angle. Here is an awesome video with a demonstration:


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Book Review: "Blood of a Mermaid" by Katie O'Sullivan

Just a quick note: this was actually the book I was originally asked to review by the author. However, since I had not read the first book (this one is a sequel), I waited to read "Son of a Mermaid" first. That's why I'm doing two book reviews in a row by the same author.



Amazon link:
http://www.amazon.com/Blood-Mermaid-Katie-OSullivan-ebook/dp/B00KAKMPV2/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1402251335&sr=8-4&keywords=katie+o%27sullivan


Amazon description:
Mermaid blood.
When Shea MacNamara fell into the ocean for the first time, he found he could breathe underwater. The son of a mermaid, the sea is in his blood. Literally. The best part of Shea’s new life? His girlfriend Kae, who also happens to be a beautiful mermaid.
But darkness lurks under the sea. When evil mermen kidnap Kae, the king reminds Shea that having royal blood means making tough choices.
An Arctic dungeon, a fiery plane crash, the legendary halls of Atlantis…and narwhals?
Having mermaid blood just got a lot more complicated.


My review:
3 out of 5 stars--I liked it, and would read it again.

This sequel picks up a couple of weeks after the first book ends. Shea is still adjusting to the knowledge that mermaids really exist, and that he's a part of that underwater world. The future is looking bright for him, though. The villain Demyan is on the run, making the contentions between merfolk clans easier to heal. His relationship with Kae continues to blossom, and he looks forward to attending University (the merfolk school) with her in the fall. However, Shea's role in the underwater world's political struggle continues to be a problem. Kae is kidnapped as leverage against Shea, and the teenage boy is launched into yet another adventure where he must try to balance his drylander upbringing with his new life as a merman.

As I have said in the review of "Son of a Mermaid," I am not normally a fan of paranormal fiction. But again, I quite enjoyed reading this book. This sequel is able to delve deeper into the world that the author has created, and I liked learning more about the different mermaid clans and the nuances of underwater life. I liked the overall story of "Blood of a Mermaid" better than the first book, mostly because the story has already been set up and the author can jump right into the meat of the story. The author's storytelling continues to be easily engaging and descriptive in a manner that includes all of the senses. Some of her descriptions made me smile because of how simple and funny and true they were. Sharing in Shea's personal struggles was like remembering some of my own at that age--trying to figure out who you are (and who you want to be), trying to understand relationships (both romantic and otherwise), coping with change, and so forth. The author finds ways to make the reader understand how the characters feel, even though the situations (like being a mermaid) are very different. I appreciate a writer that can do that. There is only one criticism that comes to mind as I think about the story, and it's a very small one. The author makes a point of stating that mermaids speak a bit more formally and do not understand some of the slang that Shea uses. Then a subsequent conversation between two merfolk is filled with several bits of modern slang--terms like "buddies" and "hanging out"and so forth. It's a small thing, and it didn't affect my enjoyment of the book, but it is something that seemed out of place in my mind. Setting such nit-picking aside, I would say that this is a fun book to read and I look forward to seeing where the rest of the story goes.

For more information on my rating system, click here.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Book Review: "Son of a Mermaid" by Katie O'Sullivan


Amazon link:
http://www.amazon.com/Son-of-a-Mermaid-ebook/dp/B00CRLSH9G/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1372271744&sr=1-1&keywords=son+of+a+mermaid

Amazon description:
Shea MacNamara’s life just got complicated.

After a freak tornado devastates his Oklahoma farm, the fifteen-year-old orphan is whisked away to Cape Cod. Struggling to make sense of his new surroundings, he’s trying hard to deal with feelings of abandonment… and the emotions stirred by a girl he meets along the shore.

Kae belongs to an undersea world hidden from drylanders. The daughter of royal servants, she knows the planned marriage of her Princess to the foreign King should put an end to the war between the clans. But two things stand in the way of lasting peace: the ambitions of the foreign King’s regent, and rumors of the Princess’s bastard child.

Sparks fly when she meets Shea, but could the cute drylander really be the Son of a Mermaid?


My review:
3 out of 5 stars--I liked it, and would read it again.

Shea is your average teenage boy. He worries about fitting in, about how to talk to the girl he likes, about whether or not his dad will let him go out and have fun with his friends. Then disaster strikes, and his whole life changes. He moves to Cape Cod with his grandmother, and begins to piece together the mystery of his own past--namely, his mother's true identity and why she left her husband and infant son. He also slowly discovers that he's not so average after all. Rather, he bridges the two worlds of humans and mermaids, and he is uncertain where he belongs. In the undersea world, Shea finds himself in the center of a political struggle, and he races to help those who need him and his unique abilities.

I'm not normally into paranormal fiction, but I found this to be an enjoyable read. The author's easy style of storytelling draws the reader into a world where it's natural to believe that mermaids exist. The author's descriptive writing engages all of the senses, making the whole experience immersive. There were practical details that I enjoy finding in a fantasy book. For example, mermaids have exceptional memories due to the fact that things cannot be written down. Little bits of realism such as that sell a story to me. I also appreciated how well the author captures the emotions of young love--especially first love. I remember being fifteen and feeling exactly the same way. Some of the dialogue seemed a little out of place when considering the age of the speaker, but I was able to dismiss this by imagining that the culture of merpeople is more youthful and playful. Over all, I found this book to be fun and relaxing to read. I would definitely read it again.

For more information on my rating system, click here.

Book Reviews

I'm going to start reviewing fantasy books that I read. I do this because I've had a few people ask me for my opinion on what they should read next, and also because it's a good way to connect with other fantasy authors. If you are a fantasy writer, I would be happy to read your book and write a review on it. If you would be willing to do a book swap (you read and review mine, while I do the same for yours), that would be even better! If you are simply a fan of the fantasy genre, I hope that this will introduce you to new books that you can enjoy.

Here is how I will rate books:

1 out of 5 stars: I was able to finish the book, but I would not read it again.

2 out of 5 stars: I would probably read it again, depending on how I'm feeling.

3 out of 5 stars: I liked the book, and would read it again.

4 out of 5 stars: I loved the book and can't wait to read it again.

5 out of 5 stars: It is one of my favorite books of all time.

My reviews will go into more detail of why I rated the book the way that I did, of course. I should probably say upfront that I can only think of a few books that I would give 5 stars (based on this system). So please don't think that 3 or 4 stars is a criticism. The majority of the books I read I would give 3 stars, and that's a good thing.

I should probably say upfront that I don't like books with graphic violence or sexual content. That's why I write for the age group that I do. If I am sent a book that makes me uncomfortable to read, I will not finish it. Keep that in mind when asking me to review a book.

If you are interested in having me do a book review, contact me at kanno.callie@gmail.com