My Top 5 Favourite Fantasy Books

Touch of Power by Maria V Snyder

Touch of Power (Healer, #1)

I think my review went something along the lines of: OMG *flail* FANGIRL *flail* some more.

Avry steps into leadership positions when she needs to, kicks ass when she needs to, and comforts and mothers when she needs to. She’s got a great balance of feminine and masculine traits, and she’s neither an uber-warrior nor a damsel in distress. She grows throughout the novel as well. She’s like… my perfect heroine that I never wrote.

Draykon by Charlotte E English

Draykon (Draykon, #1)

My review of Draykon was roughly the same as my review for Touch of Power.

Charlotte has an obvious gift for beautiful prose and many a time I caught myself drooling over her wonderfully constructed sentences.

Entwined by Heather Dixon

Entwined

I’m pretty sure this was more of the same.

Once I opened the book, I was blown away. Just blown away. I did not expect this calibre, wit, and execution. The characters were simply gorgeous. The writing was incredible. And the humour! I have never laughed out loud so many damn times in a novel that wasn’t 1) a comedy or 2) written by a comedian. It’s just… the humour! The fluff! The witty comebacks and fantastic situations!

Fire by Kristen Cashore

Fire (Graceling Realm, #2)

This novel broke my heart.

Fire’s character development was really awesome. I’m so sad that people put this book down half way through. She grows magnificently both in personality, character, and power. She makes her own choices, and even when her choice is taken away from her, she manages to gain control of the situation.

Talyn by Holly Lisle

Talyn (Korre, #1)

Holly Lisle taught me everything I know about writing. Literally.

August is the Book Birthday month for my first novel, The Edge of Darkness, a deep-space cyborg dystopian.
Please go here for your chance to win a paperback copy.
Ends September 30.

Secret Anniversary

I was too busy trying to finish Storm Front #6 and plan The King’s Phoenix and accidentally let this slide.

Around now, ten years ago, a vocal female with white hair and a foxy shapeshifting sidekick stepped into my imagination. She demanded I tell her story. I obliged and wrote positively the worst unfinished manuscript ever. I only wrote when I was inspired and when I had access to the family computer, two not very common occurrences.

I junked the manuscript when I realised the plot was worse than anything I’d ever read before.

I started a re-write about three years later. The process was extraordinarily slow, as I was now at university and spent most of my time studying and writing essays. Still, this vocal female and her shapeshifting sidekick never left my head. It was around this time I started getting encouragement to share my writing.

I never planned to. I was going to write this entire monster manuscript of about 500,000 words and get it professionally bound in leather to sit on my bookshelf and read when I took the fancy. Writing was private. Even now, I can’t stand someone watching over my shoulder as I write. It’s an invasion of privacy. It’s like someone can see into my brain and watch my thought processes.

I would often read back what I’d written for the sheer pleasure of it. I loved my characters, and I loved the story I was telling. I often thought that this was the only story I would ever be able to tell, and once it was ‘over’ I would be able to get on with ‘real life’.

I can’t imagine a world without writing. So far there’s two complete books and a half-written third one in a planned series of six.

I can’t imagine a world without these characters. They have been with me through more than a lot of people I know.

Happy anniversary, Innocence and Tagodan. I love you guys.

Review: Draykon (Draykon #1) by Charlotte E English

Publisher: Charlotte E English
Genre: Fantasy, Mystery
Pages: 281 pages estimated (ebook)
Release Date: August 31 2011
Source: Purchased.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

Blurb (from Amazon.co.uk)

When shy and retiring Llandry Sanfaer discovers a mesmerising new gemstone, she suddenly becomes the most famous jeweller across the Seven Realms. Demand for the coveted stone escalates fast; when people begin dying for it, Llandry finds that she herself has become a target.
Lady Evastany Glostrum has her life in pristine order. Prestigious, powerful and wealthy, she is on the verge of crowning her successes with the perfect marriage. But when her closest friend is murdered for the jewellery she wears, Eva is drawn into the mystery surrounding the curious “istore” gem.
The emergence of the stone is causing chaos across the Seven. Gates between the worlds are opening at will, pulling hordes of creatures through from the shadowy Lower Realm and the glittering Uppers. As Eva works to discover the culprit behind the spreading disorder, Llandry must learn the truth about her precious istore stone – before she herself becomes a victim.

Review (full review posted on Goodreads.com)

Charlotte has an obvious gift for beautiful prose and many a time I caught myself drooling over her wonderfully constructed sentences. Her word choices are elegant. She doesn’t just choose simple words to get the point across, either, but words that are musical and almost seem to jump off the page. Harmonious, that’s what it is. But I didn’t have to crack open my dictionary to discover the meaning of any of the words. It was just nice clean beautiful prose, and ten times better than a lot of legacy books out there. Both the voice and the style have been developed beautifully and executed better than I expected.

Her characterisations are very fine and three dimensional. Often I could feel Eva’s susceptibility to the cold and Llandry’s social anxiety, which were both large parts of the character identification. They even had different voices, which is rare to find in indie fiction. That’s why this book is a gem, people! I loved the way Eva dealt with people and could feel the pressure on her to succeed and be seen to be successful. And there are much worse things than being in Llandry’s head as she suffers and deals with her social anxiety.

I would have liked to know how Llandry developed from the fearless child into the anxious wreck she is as an adult, but Draykon has a sequel, Lokant, and I hope we’ll find out there.
Sigwide was so adorably cute. Charlotte clearly has a gift for writing non-anthropomorphised fantasy animals. I loved reading about him: his reactions all seemed very real and he was just so cute! Where can I get an orting?

The worldbuilding was rather lovely. I’m not sure I have a firm grasp on everything, because it’s unlike anything I’ve read before. A lot of the clearly non-human sentient people were called humans, even when they had wings, for example, so I’m still trying to come to terms with that. I don’t fully understand why there needed to be the land and Cloak divide between the Daylanders and the Darklanders but I imagine it came about as the people grew more aware that they could manipulate their own environment, much like the benefits of electricity for us real-world humans. After all, if you’re a nocturnal creature, what could be better than night all the time? And if you have sorcerers able to do that sort of thing, why not give yourself a natural advantage?

The only thing I will mention that was not perfect (besides the occasional typo – not more so than any legacy published novel, so it’s not an issue, and the ever so slight ‘who said that?’ moment when it came to dialogue) is the fight scenes. They seemed not as perfect as the rest of the prose. Polished, yes, and lovingly written, that much is obvious. It doesn’t in any way let the novel down, but after growing accustomed to Charlotte’s high standard prose, her descriptions which never became overwhelming and were just enough to build the world in my head, her wonderful characterisations and the very real relationships between the characters, the fight scenes by comparison (and remember, everything else was top-notch) seemed a little weak, a little off in pace. Almost like a tuba solo in the middle of a glorious symphony. Perhaps Charlotte is not comfortable writing violence, or not as practiced as her gorgeous political banter, high societal manners, and worldbuilding that I enjoyed reading about so much.

That being said, I need to reiterate that the fight scenes were still of a higher quality than I’ve read in legacy books. They just don’t seem to match the rest of the novel in its perfection.

As for the plot: well, she wasn’t kidding when she billed it as a fantasy mystery. After the appropriate amount of building questions, the revelations were revealed at just the right time. I thought the plot was going one way and it ended up going another way. I also have a suspicious mind so I kept expecting a certain character who shall not be named to be a betrayer, the sort of ‘Ha ha ha, I’ve been playing with you all along’ type thing, but that didn’t happen. The novel seems quite innocent in that regard. Almost everything was neatly wrapped up at the end, with just enough left unanswered to make a sequel appealing.

It’s not a YA book, but it’s a clean read and because of Llandry’s not-quite-grown-up attitude it could be marketed so. I believe a lot of young people would be able to relate to Llandry’s need for independence and her overbearing and overprotective parents wanting to keep her safe.

I’m really looking forward to Lokant, and the third book, Orlind, which was recently released.

When Priorities Don’t Prioritise The Way They Should!

I was all set to open up The Oncoming Storm today and take a look at the one scene I didn’t want to write: Tina’s confrontation with her parents after she’s almost murdered a girl at a blood magic party, almost been turned into a vampire, almost been killed by the guy she’s been dating (yes, I am aware of the three ‘almosts’ in that!), been rescued by the very demon her father doesn’t want her to spend time with, and broken her curfew/grounding. I don’t want Tina’s parents to yell at her. In fact, I don’t want to write this scene at all, even though I know it is essential. I can’t have her breaking rules without consequences. My novels are always about the consequences of the choices my heroines make. I’ve been putting this off for a whole month.

But instead The King’s Phoenix jumped on me and demanded I write down some notes before I forgot them for the next scene I’ve been preparing for in my head. So I ended up going through what I’ve written of that and tweaking it already. Bad form, I know! TKP has to wait until TOS is done, but it just won’t.

So I started a new novel…

It’s called The King’s Phoenix and it’s another young adult high fantasy. I wrote a measly seven thousand words and was on a roll until I hurt my neck and found it too painful to sit at my desk and type. I lay on the floor with pillows for three days, unable to move much for the first two. The novel languished, although its plot spread through in my head, and now I don’t particularly feel like going back.

charlotte circle

It’s a trap I often fall into. I feel the same way about my bed time. I love writing like I love sleeping. They’re both very good for me and extremely therapeutic. I love my comfy bed and really look forward to sleeping in it, especially with my man snuggled next to me. But I don’t go to bed until quite late. I forget how much I love sleeping in my very comfortable and inviting bed. The same way that I forget how much I love writing until I’m actually doing it. When I take a break it takes me forever to get back into it because I think, “Oh gosh, I need to write a 50K or 70K word novel and it’s such a huge undertaking and I’d rather faff about on the internet and not do anything.”

Well, that’s a lie. On Thursday I grit my teeth, sat through the pain, and published the first Tina Storm short story, The Calm Before The Storm, on Smashwords.

So I lay on the floor with my pillows and had a Butterfly Effect movie marathon (those films are really awesome) and I read Wuthering Heights and I painted my fingernails and hubs and I worked out that the pipe in our kitchen needed fixing so my father in law came to fix it and we went out for dinner for my mother in law’s birthday.

Yesterday was the second day I could sit at my computer without pain and I still didn’t add to my word count.

And now that I’ve written a rare personal post, I think I will get back to the novel so that I can once again call myself a writer.