Book Review: Shadows of Lela by Tessonja Odette

This review originally appeared on Goodreads.

Shadows of Lela by Tessonja Odette
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a fun, easy read.

The Good: A very readable book with a lot of typical fantasy standbys plus an interesting new creature to add to the mix. And without spoiling things, the female heroine lived up to the title of heroine wonderfully at the book’s climax.

The Bad: I am definitely a fan of fewer points of view (one is my favorite). This book was done in multiple first person with at least four characters’ viewpoints. It was written well, but I felt that as a result, I really didn’t get to know the main two until near the end of the book.

The story, description, characters, and action improved as the story went along and really peaked at the end. This speaks well for Odette’s future as a writer and for the future books in the series.

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Book Review: A Dragon of a Different Color by Rachel Aaron

*This review originally appeared on Goodreads.

A Dragon of a Different Color by Rachel Aaron
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love these books!

I first heard the author on Joanna Penn’s podcast and thought her books sounded interesting, so I added one to my wishlist. I just started them recently by listening to book 3 on Audible (it was on sale, what can I say?). I plowed through that one and then this one before going back to book 1, where I am now.

It’s not the first time I’ve started in the middle of a series, but the fact that I could says a lot about the series. There was always enough info about what came before but not so much that the pace got bogged down. It never felt slow in the least.

Marcy and Julius are just such loveable, flawed characters. I was rooting for them (and many of the other characters) from the start. I love the fact that I could feel empathy even for the “bad guys” at times.

Aaron deftly manages to introduce her characters at such a good pace that you get a good feel for them without getting overwhelmed by too many at once or getting bored.

There is plenty of humor and a genuine contemporary feel to this series, even though it’s set on an alternate earth (in the near future?). The world building was excellent, and I could easily picture this world as it would be with magic, dragons, and spirits.

Excellent covers as well!

I could go on and on, but if you like contemporary fantasy (or just fantasy in general), read these books!

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The Books in the Heartstrikers’ Series

Musings of a Frustrated Writer

It’s an exciting month here, with Raven Thrall (Legends of the Ceo San Book 1) just weeks away from its official release. 😰😁 (<– that’s me, nervous and excited all at the same time).

The funny part is my mind has been mostly on future projects, including revising the novelette Healer’s Sacrifice (another Ceo San book) and going back to work on a vampire urban fantasy I originally drafted before Raven Thrall.

This story, originally called Strange Bedfellows and more recently renamed Blood Mastery, might be the proverbial thorn in my side as a writer, but I’m determined to get it right before I even think of releasing it. It’s been rewritten once already and has so much backstory that I realized that it has become a plethora of “telling” (a big writer no-no)–all to explain that backstory.

After throwing up my hands with it this morning, I realized that the backstory (starting as far back as ancient Greece and Italy in the 1400s, where my main vampire, Nica, got her start) is indeed more interesting, and the modern story would be all the richer for showing it.

So, I quickly mapped out a short three-book series starting with Nica’s origins. It will be likely renamed again, something along the lines of The Vampire Wars (although that one is probably already taken). I’m not ready to jump right in, though. I’d like to let it stew some more in my thoughts for a while and instead get back to Mariah and her story.

I wrote about 16k words for Revelation of the Dragon during National Novel Writing Month, and I’m ready to get back into that story and that world.  If all goes according to plan, readers of Raven Thrall will want to read the sequel soon, so the quicker I can get it written and revised the better. I’ve already got a basic map of the complete five-book arc for Legends of the Ceo San Series.

I’m also playing around with the idea of getting the audio book for Raven Thrall produced.

Are you a writer or a reader? I’d love to hear from you about your struggles with series. We have to know we’re not alone, right? 😹

Book Review: The Forest House by Tamara Rokicki

The Forest House by Tamara Rokicki
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Warning: Minor Spoilers

The Forest House, Book One of The Ashar Prophecies, is a promising young adult paranormal fantasy from debut author Tamara Rokicki. The book adds a new twist to vampire lore while still keeping  favorite mores alive.

The greatest strength of this novel is its pacing. It’s one of those books where you sit down intending to read one chapter and end up reading six instead. It pulls you brilliantly along with lead character Hera in her journey from anxiety-ridden outcast to high priestess of a sect of vampires she didn’t even know existed. (She didn’t know there were vampires, let alone castes of them!)

The characters, most notably Hera herself, are believable and relatable with strong and unique voices. I was a little worried when I got to the kidnapping part. Kidnapping stories can quickly cross the line to feeling contrived, but with a strong hold on her character and her motivations, Rokicki plays it perfectly.

I feel like we’re still getting to know Aethen, Hera’s love interest, but that’s natural since The Forest House is all from Hera’s point of view. In fact, it makes me want to go grab Rokicki’s short story, “Aethen’s Awakening” to get to know him even better.

the forest house, tamara rokicki, book reviewI am a fiction editor, so I’m kind of nitpicky about these things. I felt the book could have used one more pass for things like the occasional dropped word, wrong word (expect vs. except), and dangling participle. However, these issues were minor and in no way impeded my enjoyment of this story.

It’s a definite page turner. Don’t be surprised when you finish it and are asking for the next one. Write quickly, Rokicki, all right?