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More Rambling

I’m behind on reviews again, that didn’t take long. I should have it fixed soon, there’s just some stuff holding up life at the moment. Little things, big things.

I’m thinking of changing the blog’s title, if I’m able to do that, bring it more in line with the web address. Part of it, I think, is that I didn’t really know what I wanted to call it when I started it back when. I still don’t really, but that’s a little whatever at the moment.

Maybe I just want to change something for the sake of changing something and this is easy. Seems a little weird, but I’ve always gone for small near meaningless changes to avoid big ones.

I think I want to start building a buffer of reviews of older books for times like this. I don’t know how successful I’ll be at actually doing that, given my tendency to get behind on projects and forget where I’m going with what I’m doing. Pretty sure I’ve said this before a half dozen times.

The next review should be up soon. I’ve been having trouble finding the right words for how I feel about it. It’s a book I enjoyed, but then also I keep trying to compare it to this other book and I really want to keep them separate. At least in the reviews themselves.

I’m probably also going to try and get back to posting stuff on Goodreads and Amazon, also using Goodreads to keep track of the books I’m reading. That should be interesting.

I also kind of want to do something for Halloween. I just haven’t decided what. If any of you have ideas feel free to suggest them.

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Alright everybody, I’ve got the winners for the Navigators of Dune giveaway!

Congratulations Elise Smith and abbyesque, you each win a hard cover copy of Navigators of Dune.

I’ll need both of your snail mail addresses so that you can be sent your prizes. You can message me here with your email and I’ll get them that way, or you can email me through the tympestbooks email in the Review Requests page.

Heads Up

Alright everybody, just a heads up, the Navigators of Dune giveaway ends tomorrow night at midnight Central time. So if you were going to enter now’s the time. The link to it is here.

I’ve got a review coming up tomorrow as well, so come check that out. The book itself is really cool, so look forward to the review.

I’m also trying to plan ahead for something Halloween related. Maybe review some horror novels in October, maybe something else. If you all have any ideas, that would be great!

Navigators of Dune Giveaway

Alright everyone, I’ve got something super cool for you today. It’s a giveaway of the final Great Schools of Dune novel, Navigators of Dune!

navigators-of-dune-cover

Set ten thousand years before the series began, the Great Schools of Dune trilogy sets the stage for everything that has happened in the long running series. And, thanks to the awesome folks at Tor, this is your chance to get a copy.

I’ve got three copies of Navigators of Dune, that means three lucky winners!

How do you enter? It’s easy, follow my blog and leave a comment, tell me what your favorite bits of sci-fi are whether that is a series of books, a trope that gets played with, or something else.

The giveaway runs from today as of posting until midnight central time on the 20th. Winners will be selected using random.com and announced on the 21st. I can ship the book to anywhere in the United States or Canada. I will also need you to be willing to send me your email and mailing address if you win, so that the book can be sent to you.

Alright everyone, good luck!

Thief of Lies Exerpt

So, I’m back! Still no review, but what have you come to expect. I’m not empty handed though, I’ve got a little information and an exerpt for you from Thief of Lies, coming out January 2016.

9781633752214

Gia Kearns would rather fight with boys than kiss them. That is, until Arik, a leather clad hottie in the Boston Athenaeum, suddenly disappears. While examining the book of world libraries he abandoned, Gia unwittingly speaks the key that sucks her and her friends into a photograph and transports them into a Paris library, where Arik and his Sentinels—magical knights charged with protecting humans from the creatures traveling across the gateway books—rescue them from a demonic hound.

Jumping into some of the world’s most beautiful libraries would be a dream come true for Gia, if she weren’t busy resisting her heart or dodging an exiled wizard seeking revenge on both the Mystik and human worlds. Add a French flirt obsessed with Arik and a fling with a young wizard, and Gia must choose between her heart and her head, between Arik’s world and her own, before both are destroyed.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Library-Jumpers-Brenda-Drake/dp/1633752216
B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/library-jumpers-brenda-drake/1121817874
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/thief-of-lies/id1000566034
Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/thief-of-lies
Amazon.co.uk: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Library-Jumpers-Brenda-Drake/dp/1633752216
Amazon.ca:
http://www.amazon.ca/Library-Jumpers-Brenda-Drake/dp/1633752216
Powell’s: http://www.powells.com/book/thief-of-lies-9781633752214/72-1
Books-a-Million: http://www.booksamillion.com/p/Thief-Lies/Brenda-Drake/9781633752214
The Book Depository: http://www.bookdepository.com/Thief-Lies-Brenda-Drake/9781633752214
Walmart: http://www.walmart.com/ip/46127498
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17669243-library-jumpers?ac=1

Author Bio

Brenda Drake, the youngest of three children, grew up an Air Force brat and the continual new kid at school. Her fondest memories growing up is of her eccentric, Irish grandmother’s animated tales, which gave her a strong love for storytelling. So it was only fitting that she would choose to write stories with a bend toward the fantastical. When Brenda’s not writing or doing the social media thing, she’s haunting libraries, bookstores, and coffee shops or reading someplace quiet and not at all exotic (much to her disappointment).

Website: http://www.brenda-drake.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/brendadrake
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Brenda-Drake/171424269657164

Excerpt:
I pressed the screen, and it went dark. “How do we know he’s not being forced to say this?”
“The password, May Agnes guide you,” Lei replied. “She’s the patron saint of Asile.”
Agnes? That was the silver woman’s name that formed from my globe. Did the saints have something to do with the Chiavi?
I faced Ricardo. “How did you know I was here?”
“The werehounds tracked your scent from a shirt Katy…excuse me, your nana…gave us.”
“Can your pack help us save Couve?” Arik asked him.
“They will, but Gia must go with me.” He noticed the protest forming on my lips. “Merlin said no exceptions. I’m to get you to the shelter.”
From the corridor came yells, scuffles, and the continual wail of the warning siren.
“I can’t go with you,” I said. “I have to fight with them.”
“She can’t fight with us,” Lei said, glancing at the door. “She almost killed Kale.”
I turned to Sinead. “You know what I can do.”
Sinead gave me a pity smile. “Yes, but you have no control over it. Let Ricardo take you to your father and friends.”
I thought of Kale lying motionless, near death, and I hated that she was right. As much as I wanted to stay, I might be more hindrance than help. I caved. “Okay,” I said, defeated. Lei flew out of the room with the Laniars on her heels.
Sinead hugged me, then rushed after them. Arik moved over to me and cupped my face gently in his hands. His eyes held the intensity that always drew me to him.
I swallowed my breath in anticipation. All the sounds around us went silent.
He bent and lightly brushed my lips with a kiss. His lips were soft and oh, so tender. Butterflies swooped and curled inside me, and it felt like the ground disappeared from beneath my feet. He pulled back a little and said, “Regardless of the fact that you’re a royal pain in the arse, I fancy you. Listen to Ricardo and don’t do anything rash.”
He gave me another kiss and rushed out the door. My heart twisted in my chest as he disappeared. I touched my mouth and exhaled. He liked me. It was against the laws, but he told me he fancied me. Maybe we had no future, but we had now.
“What a sweet display,” Ricardo said, dragging me out of my haze. “I’m not one for rules or laws, but I’d be careful there. The punishment would be much worse for him than you.”
“Why?” I stared at the door as if I’d see Arik there.
“He’s a leader. He knows better.” Ricardo headed to the window. “Are you ready to fly?”
“Did you say fly?”

It’s been awhile since I posted last, but I’m back again with a guest post by Farah Oomerbhoy, the author of The Last of the Firedrakes. I’ve got a couple reviews on the back burner, so those should turn up sometime in the next week or so. Happy reading!

● Favorite Authors – J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, J. K. Rowling, Enid Blyton, Jane Austen, Diana Gabaldon, Ursula K. Le Guin, Tamora Pierce, David Eddings, Louisa May Alcott, Sarah J. Maas, John Green, Kathleen Woodiwiss, and Marion Zimmer Bradley.
● Favorite Books – The Lord of the Rings, Gone with the Wind, The Hobbit, Harry Potter series, The Chronicles of Narnia series, Outlander, The Earthsea Quartet, The Song of the Lioness, The Belgariad, The Ruby Knight, Little Women, Pride and Prejudice, The Magic Faraway Tree, Throne of Glass, The Fault in Our Stars, and The Mists of Avalon.
● Favorite Literary Characters – Gandalf, Belgarath (from The Belgariad), Scarlett O’Hara, Rhett Butler, Mr. Darcy, Aslan, Aragon, Arwen Evenstar, Hermione Granger, and Harry Potter.
● Things That Inspire You – Nature, art, authors, books, history, and mythology.
● Books You Are Dying to Read – Winter (The Lunar Chronicles Book 4), Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass Book 4), A Court of Thorns and Roses, and Truthwitch.
● Books That Made You Want To Become A Writer – Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Lord of the Rings series.
● Pieces of Advice you have for aspiring writers. – Keep reading and write every day even if it’s just a paragraph you will never use.
● Places You Would Most Want to Travel To – Egypt
● Favorite Snacks – Nutella, caramel popcorn, crispy crème doughnuts, and chocolate chip cookies.
● Favorite Movies/TV Shows – Gone with the Wind, Game of Thrones, MasterChef Australia, Merlin, Once Upon a Time.
● Places you would consider paradise – Maldives, the French Riviera.
● Things that bring a smile to your face – my children.
● Places you’d like to take your laptop to and write. An old manor house in the English countryside.
● Books you’d like to rewrite the ending to – Gone with the Wind
● Favorite desserts – Tiramisu, profiteroles, ice cream sundae, and chocolate cake with cream.
● Your favorite cities? Favorite cities: London, Paris, New York.
● Words that describe yourself? Shy, introvert, calm, dreamer, bookish.
● Pieces of advice you would tell the “teen” you. – study what you love.
● Games you like to play – Scrabble, Monopoly, Bakery Story, Hay Day, and online poker.
● Movie you watch over and over again – Gone with the Wind, Harry Potter, Titanic, Superman, The Phantom of the Opera, and The Lord of the Rings (all three movies).
● Favorite series – Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, Percy Jackson, The Belgariad, Throne of Glass.
● Stand-alone books – Gone with the Wind, The Memoirs of Cleopatra, Pride and Prejudice.
About the Author:
For Farah Oomerbhoy, writing is a passion and reading her solace. She is a firm believer in the fantastic and magical, and often dreams of living in Narnia, Neverland, or the Enchanted Forest.
Farah lives with her husband and three children in their family home in Mumbai, India. She has a master’s degree in English literature from the University of Mumbai. Her first novel is The Last of the Firedrakes, Book 1 of the Avalonia Chronicles.
Connect with Farah:

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Google+ | Instagram | Pinterest | Goodreads | Wattpad

About the Book:

The Last of the Firedrakes, book one of The Avalonia Chronicles.

A fantastic adventure story that will transport you to a dazzling world of myth and magic.

16-year-old Aurora Darlington is an orphan. Mistreated by her adopted family and bullied at school, she dreams of running away and being free. But when she is kidnapped and dragged through a portal into a magical world, suddenly her old life doesn’t seem so bad.

Avalonia is a dangerous land ruled by powerful mages and a cruel, selfish queen who will do anything to control all seven kingdoms—including killing anyone who stands in her way. Thrust headlong into this new, magical world, Aurora’s arrival sets plans in motion that threaten to destroy all she holds dear.

With the help of a young fae, a magical pegasus, and a handsome mage, Aurora journeys across Avalonia to learn the truth about her past and unleash the power within herself. Kingdoms collide as a complicated web of political intrigue and ancient magic lead Aurora to unravel a shocking secret that will change her life forever.

Purchase:
Amazon | B&N | Apple | Kobo | Smashwords | Itasca Books

Add on Goodreads

Award-Winning Finalist in the Best Cover Design: Fiction category of the 2015 USA Best Book Awards

Winner in the Collector’s Dream category of the Wattpad’s 2015 The Wattys Awards

“…the narrative components echo the classics; the Academy of Magic at Evolon could be Hogwarts, while the Shadow Guards are reminiscent of Tolkien’s Ring Wraiths or Rowling’s Dementors…a beautifully drawn fantasy world.” – Kirkus Reviews

“THE LAST OF THE FIREDRAKES is a magic-filled romp that carries you back to the fantasy stories of childhood…Lovers of classic fantasy will likewise gobble down Oomerbhoy’s scrumptious story.” – Dr Vic James, author of the SLAVEDAYS trilogy

“The world building is beautiful…..That really made the book more complex for me……it is the journey of discovery for Aurora and the reader that makes this an interesting story.” – Janelle Fila for Readers’ Favorite

“The Last of the Firedrakes has all the elements of popular fantasy – an orphaned princess, Magical powers, an alternate sphere with seven kingdoms, a young girl with a destiny to fulfil. They are all elements of the Narnia Chronicles, The Faraway tree, The Harry Potter series, Lord of the Rings and a bit of Enid Blyton fun.” – Mitali Parekh for Mid-Day newspaper

Guest Post: A.D. Starrling

R & D in Writing: What it takes to put science and technology in paranormal fiction

Seventeen the series falls under the wide umbrella of paranormal fiction. It can further be categorized as supernatural thriller, action-adventure, or urban fantasy. As such, these novels are full of action scenes involving unarmed and armed combat, a variety of bladed and projectile weapons, multiple worldwide locations, and some damn right scary bad guys with crazy ideas cooked up, sometimes literally, in a lab.

One of biggest compliments I’ve been paid about my writing has been the ease with which science and technology slips into the story, almost unnoticed. This doesn’t happen accidentally. It is very much the result of a rigorous exercise involving me staring at all the research I’ve done on a topic and finding the shortest and easiest way to incorporate it into the plot without making my editors’ and beta readers’ eyes glaze over.

Let me give you a few examples.

1. In Soul Meaning (Seventeen Book 1), Lucas Soul, the main protagonist, uses a daisho as his blades. A daisho is a Japanese weapon consisting of a long sword, the katana, and a short sword, the wakizashi. In combination, they are used in a style of swordsmanship known as the ‘Two Heavens as One’ or ‘Two Swords as One’ fighting style.

Why did I pick swords for the immortals to fight with? Because immortals have been around for millennia and were using bladed weapons for much, much longer than projectile weapons, i.e. guns.

Why did I pick these particular swords for Lucas Soul? Because I absolutely adore Japanese manga and anime, particularly Tite Kubo’s Bleach, where there are many, many bladed weapons, and because I wanted Lucas to have trained with the best samurai who ever lived.

So I started my research by looking up the world’s best samurai from actual history. And I came across an Edo period ronin by the name of Miyamoto Musashi, who wrote a book on the art of war called ‘The Book of Five Rings’ and who created the Hyoho Niten Ichi-ryu, the ‘Two Heavens as One’ or ‘Two Swords as One’ fighting style. My research not only incorporated reading up on Musashi, who had a most fascinating life and remains recognised to this day as one of the world’s best swordsmen, but also looking at images and videos of the two sword fighting style itself.

I then worked Musashi into Lucas’s past and had the great samurai gift the immortal with a katana engraved with the latter’s birthmark. When you come to this part of the story, I explain it in as matter of fact terms as I have written about it here.

2. In one scene in the book, I have Lucas open a safe using a computer. In another crucial scene, he breaks through a sealed, high-containment stainless steel door thousands of feet below ground using a digital cell phone. The latter scene was one of Kriss Morton’s favourite because of the simplicity of the explanation. There were several hours of research on digital communications systems in modern mines and overriding coded security algorithms involved in writing those two paragraphs.

3. A large part of the Soul Meaning plotline revolves around molecular genetics and biotechnology, two subjects that I loved when I studying Biology A level and medicine. As such, I had to work these elements slowly and organically into the story, while the enemy’s plans were gradually uncovered. There was a particularly charged scene where Lucas and Anna, his love interest, had to decode a journal left to Anna by a scientist. In order to write confidently about cryptography, I first had to learn the basics of encryption and decryption. Cue lots of articles on the history and development of this mode of secret communication, with a particular emphasis on the ciphers that came about during the Second World War. I also had to find a way of incorporating genetics into the codes and this involved a revision of the molecular structure of DNA and its replication. Two days of research were thus compressed into two pages involved an animated dialogue between Lucas and Anna in Chapter Fourteen.

4. One of my favourite scenes in King’s Crusade (Seventeen Book 2) is Chapter Two, when you meet the modern day Alexa King, a very much grown up protagonist compared to the younger version you experience in the prologue. Because Alexa is the definition of the perfect immortal warrior, this second introduction had to be a spectacular one and had to set the tone of what this character was all about: focused, efficient, deadly, and with a 100% mission success rate. The image of her jumping off a cliff and skydiving toward a plane came to me incredibly easily. Writing the scene was anything but. It necessitated hours of research, from reading up on the exact geography required, including a desert flight path between two airports, to the structural and mechanical details of the type of plane I could use, to how I would get her from the cliff to the plane. One of my work colleagues happens to be married to a serving soldier (who is also an engineer) and he helped me figure out the height, velocity, angles, and techniques I could use to achieve this goal. Their cats were particularly fascinated by the base jumping videos we watched over pizza.

5. In Greene’s Calling (Seventeen Book 3), I ended up having to change the enemy’s plans because of the very research I did to formulate a feasible plot for the storyline. This involved travelling to the British Geological Survey in Keyworth, Nottingham, to talk to an expert on a complex subject matter. I had to scrap my original grandiose idea as it wasn’t scientifically viable, with too many unknown variables involved. The alternative plan I came up was hypothetically possible.
There is a lot more than goes into writing novels such as the Seventeen series than meets the eye. I know many of my friends and colleagues are constantly surprised by the amount of work involved and find it hard to believe that I have hardly been to any of the locations depicted in the books. In a sense, that’s another great compliment for me as a writer. Because it means I’ve made the complex stuff easy to read.

For those of you who have read the books and wish to find out more about my writing process, do check out the Bonus section of my website.

Author Bio:
A.D. Starrling was born on the small island nation of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean and came to the UK at the age of twenty to study medicine. After five years of hard graft earning her MD and another five years working all of God’s hours as a Pediatrician, she decided it was time for a change and returned to her first love, writing.

Released in July 2012, Soul Meaning is her debut novel and the first in the award-winning supernatural thriller series SEVENTEEN. The second novel in the series, King’s Crusade, was released in May 2013. The third novel, Greene’s Calling, was published June 2014.

She lives in Warwickshire in the West Midlands, where she is busy writing the next installment in the series. She still practices medicine. AD Starrling is her pen name.

For a limited time, you can download Void by AD Starrling FREE: http://www.adstarrling.com/free-download-offer/
Social Media:
Website: http://www.adstarrling.com
Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/AD-Starrling/382768535066991
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ADStarrling
Google+: https://plus.google.com/+Adstarrlinggooglepage/posts
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6469599.A_D_Starrling
Wattpad: http://www.wattpad.com/user/ADStarrling
Newsletter sign-up form: http://adstarrling.us7.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=9a35d63b55f4a0b6f6f664de3&id=62f4369727

I’m late posting this, but we have a winner!  Congratulations Elise Smith, you win books!

Please get back to me with a way to contact you within three days to claim your prize.

Revisiting a Thing

So, this is me bringing up something that bugs me with a lot of romance novels and resulted in my burning out on them pretty hard.  The thing in question is of course, the alpha male lead, the guy whose chest thumping bravado and sheer force of will sweep the heroine off her feet and on and on.  He shows up a lot and, more often than not, could easily be another book’s pushy asshole who won’t leave the female lead alone, that’s a problem.

I focused on this a bit in my review of Alpha Instinct, with Connor disregarding Ana’s requests that he let the mundane police deal with a problem rather than going after it himself.  In this case it’s played as “oh he’s so protective of her, he just can’t stand for them to go unpunished” and to set up a later book, when honestly it would have been better for the pack in the long run if they had let the cops deal with it.  He seriously murdered two dudes in cold blood for having attempting to hurt “his” woman, that’s taking taking charge way too far.

On the other hand Blood and Bullets shows us what happens when the alpha male is moved from the romance novel to heading an urban fantasy novel.  The result isn’t bad so much as boring and repetitive.  Chalk isn’t a character who should be boring, but his being an alpha male was focused on more than his actually doing anything to his detriment.  As a concept, Chalk is kind of over played but also kind of awesome, he’s the Punisher but against the things that go bump in the night.

So, essentially, my problem isn’t so much with the character type as with how far writers take it any more and how prevalent it is.  Like, if I only saw one of these guys for every third or fourth romance novel, that would be great.  Seeing more romance novels with a variety of male leads would be amazing, if more than a little unlikely.  I want to see guys who’re sensitive, guys who’re there for the female lead when the standard romance novel jerk ex breaks her heart, and guys who’re assholes to everyone but the female lead and admit it.  Let’s get some more variety going here.