bookfrivolity

Book Frivolity.....

Speculative Fiction Reviews, Interviews, Art and Whatever Else!

Currently reading

Stone of Farewell
Tad Williams
The Guns of Empire (The Shadow Campaigns)
Django Wexler
Tallwood
Jeremy Kool, Steve Gerlach & Amanda Kool

Psst..

Kristy's not in at the moment... She's a bit busy with other things! But if you really want to connect with her there's -

 

www.litsy.com/bookfrivolity (my favourite place to hang out right now! Great people, great fun, lots of Bookish banter) 

www.instagram.com/bookfrivolity 

www.deviantart.com/BookFrivolity (art related, not really set up yet) 

Http://ello.co/bookfrivolity (art/book related) 

Www.goodreads.com/bookfrivolity 

 

Which way too much social media, but there you go.. 

 

So I'm off to learn to be an artist.. Who ever thunk life would veer so dramatically! Still lots of Bookish projects going on - Aurealis Awards judging, interning, and most importantly, reading all the stuff I actually want to read (as long as it's under $5 hehehe).. 

 

So we'll see what becomes of this page.. I'm hesitant to close it down, cause one never knows what the future might bring! 

 

K. 

 

 

Book Review: Kings or Pawns (Steps of Power #1) by J.J Sherwood

Kings or Pawns (Steps of Power, #1; The Kings, #1) - J. Sherwood Weber

8,994 P.E.—The elven city of Elvorium has become corrupted to the core by politics. With his father dead and the Royal Schism at his back, Prince Hairem ascends the throne as king of the elven world on Sevrigel. Young and bold, Hairem is determined to undo the council’s power, but the brutal murders by an assassin loosed within the city threaten to undermine the king’s ambitions.

As corruption and death threaten to tear Elvorium apart from within, the warlord Saebellus threatens the city from without, laying siege to Sevrigel’s eastern capital. With the elven world crumbling around him, Hairem finds himself in a dangerous political balance between peace and all out war.

 

 

Jikun Taemrin by Kristy M (Book Frivolity) -

 In his free time, Jikun amused himself with hunting, women, and a very unsuccessful slew of poetry.

 

Grab yourself a copy of Kings or Pawns at Amazon

 

 

Everyone knows my policy by now: my highest praises come with a character rendering (cause it proves my love yadda yadda)... So, if you haven't worked out by the image, let me say it - I really enjoyed Kings or Pawns.

 

It has all the High Epic Fantasy bits and bobs that I love, but it's been given an edge with the really smart and meticulous way that Sherwood has presented the points of view and the plot line. Intrigue, treason, romance and politics, are perfectly amalgamated; a hard thing to accomplish, and can be the downfall of many an ambitious epic fantasy. This pulls it off without a hitch, and I must say, I was really pleasantly surprised (although I'm a fan of self-pubbed books, a really good epic fantasy is sometimes hard to come by!).  

 

The world building is spot on, it's very engaging with just a touch of science fiction creeping in to give it a slight point of difference over the usual Elvish world narrative. I particularly loved that this was focused on the Elven point of view. So many epics give the Elf the highly snooty, yet lovable sidekick role; yet here Sherwood has given them their own voice, and done it with skill. 

 

There is a great combination of sly humor (I was laughing before the first chapter had finished. Jikun up there is crackling with humor, even when he's not trying!), and serious matter that keeps the reader engaged throughout. It's just an incredibly enjoyable read, and I can't wait to delve into the rest of The Steps of Power series.. when the audiobook of Heroes Or Thieves is available.. please make it available soon..

 

Because that cliffhanger is just mean Sherwood. Bloody Mean. :)

 

I received the audio book version, and the narration by Matthew Lloyd Davies was fantastic. He picked up on the nuances of each character gorgeously. However the audio quality was just a little lower than I am accustomed to, and I occasionally found it hard to hear. You might need to listen to this one through a really good set of earphones, or a proper audio/speaker setup if you are hard of hearing.  

 

 

***

 

 

If you want to check out the Steps Of Power yourself, you can actually win some stuff right now, so enter, check it out... 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rhapsody: Child of Blood - Elizabeth Haydon Prophecy: Child of Earth - Elizabeth Haydon Destiny: Child of the Sky - Elizabeth Haydon
Rhapsody by Kristy M (Book Frivolity)
Rhapsody by Kristy M (Book Frivolity)

The Meaningless Moniker 'Mary Sue'

 

Firstly, I want to say how much I loved the first trilogy in The Symphony of Ages. Five big ole stars. As much as I am enjoying the new wave of fantasy, The Symphony of Ages’ grand sweeping world building, mystery/romance story line, and amazing travelogue, is exactly where my heart feels at home. The installments are long, meticulously detailed, with an amazing push/pull plot that makes you frown in frustration, then cheer out loud, then weep in sorrow, and then cry for the beauty of it. I will absolutely be acquiring the rest of the series as soon as I can afford to!

 

Now, I want to rant. Not about the books; the books have given me more pleasure than I rightly deserve probably. I’ve been bottling these frustrations up for a while, this annoyance has got my bloody goat way too often recently. This series has given me a prime opportunity to let it out, as it's a prime example of where this annoyance crops up. So here’s the deal, I don’t want to rant to people who are just going to moan that I am ranting about feminist issues. So I’m going to stick it in spoilers, and if you don’t want to deal, don’t open it. I have things I really want to say, but I really don’t want the damned backlash. If it’s not for you, please, don’t read it. If it is.. Read on… :)

 

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Not Quite A Book Review: The Waking Fire by Anthony Ryan.

The Waking Fire - Anthony  Ryan

The Waking Fire is set in a vibrant new world where the blood of drakes—creatures similar to dragons—is valued beyond reckoning, and can be distilled into elixirs that grant fearsome powers to those who are “blood-blessed.” The novel follows an unregistered blood-blessed as he searches for an elusive variety of drake so potent, its capture would mean unrivalled riches; the second in command of a blood-burning ironclad ship; and a young woman in a lifelong contract to a trading syndicate, whose espionage mission places her on the front lines of a newly declared war. As empires clash and arcane mysteries reveal themselves, these characters are tested again and again and soon discover that the fate of the world rests on their shoulders.

Always Watch Lizanne's Hands - by Kristy M (Book Frivolity)

 

I liked it so much, I just fan-arted over it. It's pretty much the highest compliment I can give, cause I'm a fickle creature when it comes to fan-arting (my childish side just likes saying fan-arting..).

 

I'm pretty sure everyone else has said something about the details: the characters, the world building, the pacing etc... But honestly, I really don't want to! Yeah, occasionally I do shut-up. It'll be fleeting, I'm sure. 

 

When I adore a book this much, I don't want to spoil it by putting my own words to it. I can't do it justice really. It's one of the things about reviewing that I dislike - I put my words to it, I potentially stop it from speaking for itself... The Waking Fire can speak for itself :)

 

Just read it. You'll either like it as much as I did, or you won't. Either way, I'll be happy that you just gave it a shot - cause it is absolutely worth the effort.  

 

Lot's of book-lovin-huggin,

 

K.

The Maudlin Artist's Social Media Musings.

Warning, Expletives Ahead!
 
I was cleaning out the notepad app on my phone a few days ago, and I found this rambling from a few months ago. I think I was going to post it on Facebook or something, but I chickened out. I figured everyone would think I was whining. Strange, we find a grumbling quote from a classic author about bleeding on typewriters and it's inspired; if we have some sort of crisis of faith-in-ourselves, we are whining. Why is that? Why do we do that to ourselves.. To each other? In any case, I figured 'fuck it'. This was genuinely how I felt, and still feel on occasion.. Actually, let's be honest: Often. I think others might too. So, you're not alone my gorgeousnesses, not at all.. 
***
 
 

There are many reasons to dislike social media, but for me the most pertinent of them, is that it feeds directly into my 'Spiral of Creative Self Doubt'.. An affliction I believe many 'Creatives' suffer.. Our work's merit is bundled up with the judgement of others, and social media is basically a massive platform of users in constant judgement of everything you Do, Create, Say..

 

with the power of the like button, you are

 

Right, Wrong, Loved.

 

However, it's the unknown factor of Social Media that really gets to me. Squirrels itself into the Spiral. I post a flippant, grainy, 2 second click and crop photo of a book cover I'm reading - likety like like. I really don't care too much, it's just a way of keeping in the loop, but people 'like' it.

 

I post a section of an artwork I've been working on for weeks: hard time spent, neck muscles screaming, eye sight ruined -

 

*crickets*.

 

If it was real life, and I had feedback to say, "yeah, not so good K, tsk." I could let it go.. Sigh heavily.. Work on  it, leave it, whatever.

 

However, on social media, you can fuck yourself up thinking of that unknown factor. Maybe I posted it at the wrong time? Did I not hash tag it properly? Should I have done something different with the description? Were my followers just not online? Algorithms, algorithms?! Could it be Reasons that I hear *crickets*, and not my horrid artistry skills?

 

Self doubt spiral commence.. //Maybe, Could, Hopefully .. Please love it, me.. Everyone hates it, hates me.. Could, Hopefully, Algorithms.. Doubt, nope, hollowness. Fine, Fuck It. I'll just go hermit under the work table in the shed, and hope my dog remembers to feed me.. //

 

*sigh* *click* 'New File' 


It's genuinely a shitty roller-coaster of bumps and bruises, a constant punch into that overly sensitive organ within you that arts. I crave certainty. Positive, Negative, Good, Bad. I get nothing but *crickets*, a Spiral, and a future passive-aggressive rendering, because Fuck You.


But, I'm not sure how you avoid it these days. You are nothing without an online presence. More often than not, you feel like Nothing because you have one. Strange thing is, we keep doing it. It's incredibly stupid if you look at it logically, psychologically- let's keep beating ourselves black and blue; self-masochisim is fun, yes? Still, we do it..

 

Without other people's eyes, our work means nothing.

 

Without others, our 'Creative' world is mute, or blind, or deaf... The Void. 


And that Void for any type of art: visual, written, musical etc. -  is worse than the *crickets*. 

 

 

Ghoullian & Flappy Go Book Shopping by Kristy M (Book Frivolity)
Ghoullian & Flappy Go Book Shopping by Kristy M (Book Frivolity)
The Waking Fire - Anthony  Ryan

"Sometimes a Ghoul just wants her book! Captured in mid-booknap, Ghoullian and her pet dragon Flappy have found their next read!"

 

If tabloids printed this kind of stuff, I'd probably read them! :) 

 

In all seriousness, hand on heart, The Waking Fire is probably my favourite book of the year so far..  I'm three quarters of the way through, and it's the first book of this year that's had me giddy excited to go to bed at night, just so I can get sucked back into the world! There isn't a lot of sleeping going on, but I'm pretty ok with that!  

 

It's a Jane Bond-Hornblower-Seven Ancient Wonders- 'Dragon-Punk' Fantasy (I'm making dragon punk a thing.. Heh!). It's world's away from The Raven's Shadow series, and that may cause some confusion in fans, but damn, if you can get into it, get into it! 

 

Wonderful, fantastical stuff! 

 

K. 

Book Review: The Malice by Peter Newman

The Malice - Peter C. Newman


In the south, the Breach stirs.

Gamma’s sword, the Malice, wakes, calling to be taken to battle once more.

But the Vagrant has found a home now, made a life and so he turns his back, ignoring its call.

The sword cries out, frustrated, until another answers.

Her name is Vesper.

 

 

Thanks to Harper Voyager Australia for the review copy. 

 

I love Newman's writing. It's as poetic as it is intelligent, beautiful as it is brutal. However, The Malice wandered about feeling plotless for the first 300 pages. I just didn't feel.. Involved? Not sure if that's the right word exactly, but when a book takes me a month to finish, there's usually a good reason that it's just not gripping me by the lapels and screaming into my face to finish it. In this case, I believe it's because it felt muddled until around page 350..

I suppose I could understand it from an academic standpoint; there's possibly a literary device there to help underpin and highlight Vesper's unplanned adventure. The reader feels just as lost as the MC. You feel that 'not sure what's next' feeling. I just didn't really want to feel so lost.. I've got real life to do that in.. :)

 

 

To be utterly honest, the most empathy I felt for a character, was for the kid goat... And I really need that connection to at least one character, to feel truly involved. I don't have to like the characters, but I do need to feel something toward them. Dislike  is just as powerful..

 

It's entirely possible it was just the wrong time for me to read it, as I felt nothing of this during The Vagrant. I almost feel like I'm betraying The Vagrant by being so apathetic toward The Malice! 

I will absolutely still read #3; there's a need in me to understand this world more fully, and the enjoyment I feel from Newman's wordery is worth every second spent. So, let the adventure continue.... 

Ghoullian's Big Night Out: The Alex Caine release party..

Bound - Alan Baxter Obsidian - Alan Baxter Abduction  - Alan Baxter

 

I've never said I wasn't slightly crazy! 

 

K.

Author Guest Post: Actually, I’m really not a psychopath by Alan Baxter.

Bound - Alan Baxter Obsidian - Alan Baxter Abduction  - Alan Baxter

 I’d like to thank Book Frivolity for hosting a guest post from me today. Kristy said I had free reign to write about whatever I liked that was writing or reading related, so I thought maybe I’d write about how I’m totally not a psychopath. Bear with me, it really is related to writing.

 

It might seem like a strange thing to write about, but when you’re an author of dark fantasy and horror, you’d be surprised how often people expect you to be Hannibal Lecter, or worse. So many times I’ve had people say to me, “Wow, you’re so normal!” which is actually rather offensive, but I know they don’t mean it as an insult. Normal? How very dare you!

 

Or people say some variant of “You’re so much nicer than I thought you’d be.” It’s weird, because I bet people don’t go up to science-fiction writers and say, “Oh, you’re not an astronaut?” Or approach romance writers with a nervous, “Sorry, are you having sex right now?”

 

Yet people seem to regularly expect writers of horror and dark fiction to be nasty, grim, nihilistic people. We’re not! We’re lovely, I promise. (Well, most of us.) My pal, Kaaron Warren, one of Australia’s most amazing horror authors has a theory. (Incidentally, you’ve read Kaaron’s work right? If not, go and read it now. No seriously, right now. This post will still be here when you get back.) But yes, Kaaron’s theory. She says that the nicest people in the world are plumbers, butchers and horror writers. They all spend so much time elbow deep in shit, blood and… well, horror, that they get it all out of their system. It’s not festering away in there. When you spend large parts of your life in those conditions, any time you’re not buried therein, you’re tip top. Happy to be out in the sunlight, among people who aren’t trying to eat your face.

 

I don’t know if it’s entirely true, but I think Kaaron is onto something. And it’s also why so many people like to read dark fiction. We go on a rollercoaster to experience the thrill of almost certain death – how can this train possibly stay on the rails, we’re all going to die! HAHAHA! Then it’s over and we’re all shaky and grinning at each other like loons, saying, “We survived!” Then we look shiftily left and right until someone says, “Let’s go again!” In the same way that a rollercoaster reminds you you’re alive by artificially putting you so close to death, so does dark fiction help people process the genuine shit in life by putting them so close to fictitious monsters in the safety of their armchair, reading a book.

 

And for those of us who write the dark stuff, while we may put ourselves into the shoes of villains and monsters, killers and demons, we only wear those shoes for a little while and, when we take them off again, we’ve benefited from the catharsis of the experience. It makes us even nicer people than we were before. So honestly, I’m not a psychopath. I just pretend to be one for a while here and there in the privacy of my own study. Hopefully the results are entertaining for anyone who subsequently reads my books.

 

* * *


Alan’s award-nominated dark fantasy thriller trilogy, The Alex Caine Series – Bound, Obsidian and Abduction – lands on bookstore shelves in Australia and New Zealand on June 20th. All three books will be released together on that day. Ask your local store and library to get copies in if they don’t have them.

 

Alan Baxter is a British-Australian author who writes dark fantasy, horror and sci-fi, rides a motorcycle and loves his dog. He also teaches Kung Fu. He lives among dairy paddocks on the beautiful south coast of NSW, Australia, with his wife, son, dog and cat. He’s the award-winning author of several novels and over sixty short stories and novellas. So far. Read extracts from his novels, a novella and short stories at his website – www.warriorscribe.com – or find him on Twitter @AlanBaxter and Facebook, and feel free to tell him what you think. About anything.

.

 

The Lascar's Dagger: Book 1 of The Forsaken Lands - Glenda Larke The Dagger's Path (The Forsaken Lands) - Glenda Larke The Fall of the Dagger (The Forsaken Lands) - Glenda Larke
Sorrel Redwing (from The Forsaken Lands Trilogy by Glenda Larke) by Kristy M (book frivolity)
Sorrel Redwing (from The Forsaken Lands Trilogy by Glenda Larke) by Kristy M (book frivolity)

You know, I really loved The Forsaken Lands series. Glenda Larke is a masterful Australian fantasy writer. The Dagger's Path won TWO Australian awards, and it's possibly my favourite Aussie bred fantasy series in the last few years.

 

There were scenes in The Dagger's Path that were so beautifully written, with so much heart and soul, I had tears in my eyes for a good chunk of the book. True!

 

Do you want to know what I enjoyed most? A brave female character named Sorrel Redwing. She is stubborn, wilful, loving, powerful, smart, strong; the reason this whole cast of characters works together.. She is the character this series revolves around.

 

I could go on all night praising Glenda Larke's ability to show just how wonderful a mature woman, without wild warrior kill skills, can be in a fantasy series.. Can play an absolutely pivotal role, and be an absolute joy to read.

 

Want to know what I didn't like?


Three main characters, Two male: Saker and Ardhi. One female: Sorrel. Which is fine, no problems there... 

 

Three covers.. I see Saker, I see Ardhi, and I see.. Who? Oh right, I guess it's Saker.. Again.

 

So, where is Sorrel? *sigh*

 

I'm not going to say it's because she's a female character that she's not on the covers...

 

Oh, yes I bloody am! Come on Orbit! We aren't in the 80's now.. Whoever commissioned this series of covers, I swear you've earned my ire. Really unacceptable.

 

This isn't an SJW ranty rant, which I'm sure many will say it is. What it is, is that I want my gender to be represented on a fantasy cover. I want my favourite character to be celebrated, and not overshadowed by other characters - just because she happens to be female.

 

Is it really that hard? I'd understand if she was a minor character, but she is an equal in this Ternion. In fact, I'd say she gets twice as much book time as Ardhi, and he gets a bloody cover! Saker gets TWO!

 

So, just to prove a point, that, you know, female characters aren't all that hard to create in art-ing - I created my own Sorrel. If I had the inclination to create and render a full body version of Sorrel to match the other two covers, I could have without much extra trouble. And I'm really not great at this art thing. 

 

Pretty sure Orbit's paid professional could've conjured up something 500 times better if asked..

 

No excuses Orbit. 

 

You've made me grumpy in conjunction with a series that gave me so much joy, and I'm Not. HAPPY. Jan.

 

*wanders off grumbling*

Bare Bones Book Review: Troubled Waters by Sharon Shinn

Troubled Waters - Sharon Shinn

Zoe Ardelay receives astonishing and unwelcome news: she has been chosen to become the king's fifth wife. Forced to go to the royal city, she manages to slip away and hide on the shores of the mighty river.

It's there that Zoe realizes she is a coru prime ruled by the elemental sign of water. She must return to the palace, not as an unwilling bride for the king, but a woman with power in her own right. But as Zoe unlocks more of the mysteries of her blood—and the secrets of the royal family—she must decide how to use her great power to rise above the deceptions and intrigue of the royal court

 

 

Good Stuff:

 

  • Gorgeously unique world building based upon the elements, blessings and superstitions.

 

  • Simple, yet gratifying character development.

 

  • Rolling, well-checked pacing.

 

  • Tackles hard subjects, but with a gentle hand.

 

  • Easy, controlled prose.

 

  • Sweet, but not overpowering romance.

 

 

Not Quite So Good Stuff:

 

  • Not the most mystifying of mystery elements.

 

  • Felt a little too contrived at times.

 

Conclusion:

 

A little quieter in tone than my usual tastes, but I still look forward to seeing how the rest of the series plays out. A really enjoyable time out from the bustle of the battle heavy, or grimdarkish fantasy that's crowding the scene at the moment.

 

 

 

Fantasy Author Interview: Marc Turner!

When the Heavens Fall: The Chronicles of the Exile, Book One - Marc Turner Dragon Hunters: The Chronicle of the Exile, Book Two (The Chronicles of the Exile) - Marc Turner Red Tide: The Chronicles of the Exile, Book Three - Marc Turner

 

 

Marc Turner was born in Toronto, Canada, but grew up in England. He graduated from Lincoln College, Oxford University, in 1996 with a BA (Hons) in law, and subsequently joined a top ten law firm in the City of London. After realising that working there did not mix well with simple pleasures such as having a life, he fled north first to Leeds and then to Durham in search of a better work-life balance. Unfortunately it proved elusive, and so in 2007, rather than take the next step and move to Scotland, he began working part time so he could devote more time to his writing. Following the sale of his debut epic fantasy novel, When the Heavens Fall, he started writing full time.

 

Why writing? Because it is the only work he knows where daydreaming isn't frowned upon, and because he has learned from bitter experience that he cannot not write.

Hello to Marc Turner, and welcome to Book Frivolity! Congratulations on recent release of Dragon Hunters, book two of The Chronicle Of The Exile!

 

  1. Firstly, could you explain to those uninitiated with The Chronicle Of The Exile (COTE) series so far, what it is about from your point of view?

 

Hi, thank you for having me!

 

On the face of it, that probably seems a straightforward question, but it’s actually quite difficult for two reasons. First, each book in the COTE series tells a separate story, albeit part of a larger narrative – so in a sense each book is about something different. Second, that larger narrative is only revealed slowly over the course of the series, so to tell you more at this stage would count as a spoiler. What I can say, though, is that the books are epic fantasy stories with a dark edge and a healthy dose of humour.

 

  1. One of the first things readers will notice if they’ve read When The Heavens Fall (book one of the series), is that Dragon Hunters follows the story of completely different characters, and within a different setting to those in the first book. When you first conceived the idea of the series, was this change part of the plan?

 

That’s another difficult question to answer because I first conceived the series ten years ago. I’m the sort of person who struggles to remember what question you just asked me, so trying to recall what I was thinking about ten years ago is all but impossible. I do know, though, that I wanted each book in the series to be a standalone story, with a beginning, a middle, and – most importantly – an end. I’m not a huge fan of novels that finish on cliffhangers, especially when you have to wait a year or longer (or much longer!) to find out what happens next. So in each of my books, the ending ties up most of the story-threads at issue, while leaving a number of other threads to take forward into later novels.

  

  1. With that in mind, will we see any familiar characters, or places in book three?

 

Yes, there are some returning characters in book three, Red Tide, at least one of whom is likely to surprise you. There are also two new POV characters, including one whom a beta reader of mine refers to as a female Jorg Ancrath. I’m looking forward to seeing how people react to her.

 

In terms of places, some of Red Tide is set in the Storm Isles, but the majority takes place in a new city (Gilgamar) and in the pirate-infested Rubyholt Isles to the south. In our travels through the Isles, we will get to see, among other things, how a waterway called the Dragon’s Boneyard got its name.

 

  1. One of the things I first noticed when reading the book, was that each of the point of views inhabited what felt like a different sub genre of fantasy. For instance, one felt very Detective noir, another courtly intrigue, and another the plot of an assassin novel. The styles were quite distinctive. When writing different styles like this, how do you go about writing them, so as not to confuse the tone?

 

I actually write each character’s story separately – so the whole of character A, then the whole of character B, and so on – before weaving the threads together at the end. I have to do a lot of planning beforehand to make it work, and it has gone spectacularly wrong on occasions. For example, in Red Tide I reached the end of the first draft only to realise that the story of one character was spread over five days, whereas everyone else’s was spread over four. But it’s a technique that I will be sticking with, since I find it helps me to maintain a consistent and distinctive character voice.

 

Is it at all difficult to get the style to interact when the characters intersect?

 

Not really, because so long as I retain the voice of the point-of-view character, the style of their story should be preserved. Having said that, whenever I write a section that features more than one of my main characters, I always consider that section afterwards from the perspective of the non-POV character. In particular, I ask myself whether I have given that character as much drive and agency as I would have done if the section had been written from their viewpoint. That way, I can ensure that I always portray them accurately, and that they never act out of convenience for the plot.

 

Did you purposely write each point of view in that distinctively different style, or did it just culminate naturally with the building of the characters?

 

A bit of both. One of the greatest challenges in writing a book with multiple threads is in making every thread interesting. It’s inevitable that readers will have a favourite character, especially if your POV characters are a diverse bunch – as they should be. But you’ve got a problem if people start skimming through the parts of one character in order to get to the parts to another. Each character should offer something unique and essential to the book. So, for example, in Dragon Hunters, Senar gives us an insider’s account of the emira’s court and the politicking that goes on there, whereas Agenta gives us a first-hand look at the events of the Dragon Hunt. Remove from the story either one of those accounts – or that of any of the other characters – and the book just wouldn’t make sense.

 

  1. Obligatory Fantasy author question! Are you a Gardener, an Architect, or an Architectural Gardener?

 

An architectural gardener.

 

I’m not sure how a gardener could write a book with multiple overlapping storylines. At the outset, I need to have a rough plan of who is going to be doing what, where and when, and in the course of writing, I have to keep a tight rein on my characters. Otherwise, at the end of my book, I might find myself in a position where three of my characters are involved in a gripping death match, while the fourth is off picking flowers because he decided to go his own way.

 

That said, I don’t think I could ever be an architect either. I enjoy planning my books, but I quickly get to a stage when I want to get on with the writing. So when I sit down to write the first page, I will generally have an idea of the beginning and end of the story, but less idea of what road I will take to get me from one to the other.

 

  1. It always intrigues me, what each writer’s starting point is, that initial idea that makes you think “this could be a novel!”. I was wondering, where that starts to you? Is it with characters, the world building, or the plotline? None of the above is also an acceptable answer!

 

How about “all of the above”? For Dragons Hunters, I liked the idea of people hunting dragons, because dragons are usually the apex predator, right? But knights have hunted dragons for centuries, so I wanted a new spin on it. How about hunting dragons for sport, then? That’s something I’ve never encountered before. Plus, dragons are usually winged and fire-breathing, so maybe … sea dragons for a change? And of course, if we’re going to hunt sea dragons, we need a means to lure them to a particular location at a particular time …

 

And so on. In this way, the elements of the story arose out of both plot and world-building, with each supporting the other.

 

But character comes into it as well. In my books, each POV character has their own individual story arc within the wider narrative. So Dragon Hunters is principally a book about the emira’s plot to seize power. But it is also a book about Karmel rebuilding a relationship with her brother, and about Kempis’s ongoing quest to piss off the whole world one person at a time. Those individual stories grew out of the backgrounds and personalities of the characters, and those in turn were developed while I was writing the book.

 

  1. Is there a certain part of the novel you enjoy writing more than the others in, regards to the worldbuilding, character or plotline (the other parts won’t get jealous I promise!)? Why so?

 

I’d have to say the characters. Some characters pop into my head fully formed. Others hold on to their secrets for longer, and sometimes it takes several drafts of a book before I get to know them properly. My favourite characters are usually in the former category, but I enjoy spending time with each of them – as indeed I have to do, because if I don’t find my characters interesting and engaging, how can I expect my readers to?

 

Don’t get me wrong, I think plot and worldbuilding are hugely significant in a book. But let me put it like this: To the people reading this interview, what do you care about most, your family or your possessions? If your house was burning down, and you could save either your family or your prized collection of signed first edition novels, what would it be?

 

On second thoughts, don’t answer that.

 

  1. Let’s talk dragons! There is such a wealth of different ideas about dragons, different myths and legends. Some anthropomorphise them; giving them kind, or wise personalities, others giving them the role of cruel dictators. However you have reverted them to a more beastly, pure animalistic creature. What made you decide to take this particular path with the Almighty dragon?

 

When I was considering what type of dragons to put in my book, the first question I asked myself was: Are these dragons going to be characters in their own right? For me, the answer was no. Dragon Hunters is first and foremost a story about people. The dragons are just part of the backdrop against which that story takes place. If I had anthropomorphised them, they would no doubt have found a way to muscle in on the story – or, rather, muscle in more than they already have. And I didn’t want that to happen.

 

So they are “mere” beasts. But they are supremely cunning beasts that grow to the size of ships and are covered in impenetrable metal scales. As such, when the Dragon Hunt begins, they will give as good as they get. Still, as long as someone remembers to tell them which is the hunter and which the hunted, I’m sure everything will turn out fine.

 

  1. b) If you had a pet water dragon, what would you call it (This ones from Matt @ Smash Dragons!)?

 

Whatever it wanted me to.

 

  1. Without thinking too hard about it, give me a one-word description of each of these characters! Go!

 

Before I begin, I’d like to ask you to do the same (without first looking at my answers). What would your one-word description be for each character? I’m curious to see if there is any overlap in our answers. No peeking, now!

 

Emira Imerle Polivar: Calculating.

Kristy says: Guileful.. Hey that's almost a jinx right?

 

Senar Sol: Conflicted.

Unaware..

 

Karmel Flood: Feisty.

Zealous!

 

Kempis Parr: World weary. Yes, I know that’s two words, but who’s counting. Oh. Me, apparently.

Tsk Tsk! ;)  I was going to say Craven, but I don't believe that's really true!.. I actually like world weary too.. I peeked! Ha!

 

Mazana Creed: Unpredictable.

Conniving!

 

Agenta Webb: Embittered.

Oooo good one.. you know she was my favourite character right? *glares* I think the reason I liked her so much is because I can't describe her in one word! Hold on whose interview is this? Sheesh! Ha!

 

  1. If you had the choice to live in any of your created worlds, or this ‘real-life’ earth, which would you choose and why?

 

I know it’s boring, but I’d have to say this “real-life” earth. I wouldn’t last a week in the COTE universe. Not many people do, mwahahaha!

 

Ahem.

 

  1. What does your writing process look like, and how many daily cups of caffeinated beverages does it include :)  ?

 

I have a reasonably strict regimen when it comes to writing. My working day actually starts late at night, because that’s when I do most of my best thinking (I like to plan out my scenes in advance). Next morning, I begin writing out my ideas.

 

As for my daily intake of coffee, the number of cups is probably somewhere between “whoah, that’s a lot!” and “now you’re just kidding me”. In fact, I may already have had one cuptoomanydidsomeonesaycoffee?

 

  1. Another obligatory question to ask all authors: What are your top 10 (or more, go crazy!) fantasy books to read?

 

Ha! For a moment there I thought you wanted me to recommend the books of other authors. That’s a good one, that is. Though if you’re going to press me, I really enjoyed Michael Fletcher’s Beyond Redemption, and Tom Lloyd’s Stranger of Tempest.

 

I also think that that Dragon Hunters book by Marc Turner is a cracking good read.

 

  1. Lastly, have you any other releases coming up, or projects in the works at the moment? Any appearances, signings or conventions we should look out for?

 

I’ll be going to a variety of UK conventions this year, including Edge Lit, Nine Worlds and FantasyCon, so hope to see some of you there.

 

In terms of projects, I’m writing a short story for Fantasy Faction’s Guns & Dragons anthology. I’ll also be doing another story for an anthology which I can’t talk about yet.

 

  1. Okay, okay... The real last question! Is there a general release date set for book 3? When should the fans start looking for it on the shelves?

 

Red Tide will be published in the US and the UK on 20 September. It’s strange to be talking about book three already, when book one was only published a year ago!

 

Many thanks to Marc Turner for stopping here at Book Frivolity! He survived! HE SURVIVED! (call off the coast guard…)

 

You can follow Marc’s writing adventures on Facebook, Twitter and at his website/blog!

 

Look out for Marc’s new release Dragon Hunters, or When The Heavens Fall - they are both in stores now!! And be sure to jump on Red Tide in September! You'll want to.. 

 

 

Bare Bones Book Review: The Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay

Children of Earth and Sky - Guy Gavriel Kay

From the small coastal town of Senjan, notorious for its pirates, a young woman sets out to find vengeance for her lost family. That same spring, from the wealthy city-state of Seressa, famous for its canals and lagoon, come two very different people: a young artist traveling to the dangerous east to paint the grand khalif at his request—and possibly to do more—and a fiercely intelligent, angry woman, posing as a doctor’s wife, but sent by Seressa as a spy.
 
The trading ship that carries them is commanded by the accomplished younger son of a merchant family, ambivalent about the life he’s been born to live. And farther east a boy trains to become a soldier in the elite infantry of the khalif—to win glory in the war everyone knows is coming.
 
As these lives entwine, their fates—and those of many others—will hang in the balance, when the khalif sends out his massive army to take the great fortress that is the gateway to the western world...

 

 

Thanks to Hachette Australia for the review copy!

 

The Good Stuff:

 

  • Guy Gavriel Kay wrote it! :)

 

  • In other words, beautiful prose and brilliant wordery. I really enjoyed the (rather rarely used these days!) break out thoughts in parentheses that gave an almost 'stream of consciousness'  feel on occasion.

 

  • Interesting past to present tense flips to give emphasis on important character voice, and information being presented.

 

  • Great cast of characters, with outstanding development and progression.

 

  • Enchanting storylines for each character's point of view.

 

  • Steady pacing.

 

The Not So Good Stuff:

 

  • Not sure the extent of the plot progression justified the length of the book.

 

  • The world building could've been engrossing, if it had been a few more degrees separated from the real world. It felt much closer to historical fiction, than fantasy.

 

  • Not particularly enamoured with the quick wrap up, considering the lengths Kay goes to to thoroughly explain everything preceding it.

 

Conclusion:

 

It's a beautifully written book, but it's not particularly action packed, and that may put some fantasy readers off. However, if you are looking for exquisite character voice and development, rather than heavy handed plot pushing - you'll be enamoured by The Children of Earth and Sky!

 

Bare Bones Book Review: The Fireman by Joe Hill

The Fireman: A Novel - Joe Hill
The fireman is coming. Stay cool.

No one knows exactly when it began or where it originated. A terrifying new plague is spreading like wildfire across the country, striking cities one by one: Boston, Detroit, Seattle. The doctors call it Draco Incendia Trychophyton. To everyone else it’s Dragonscale, a highly contagious, deadly spore that marks its hosts with beautiful black and gold marks across their bodies—before causing them to burst into flames. Millions are infected; blazes erupt everywhere. There is no antidote. No one is safe.

Harper Grayson, a compassionate, dedicated nurse as pragmatic as Mary Poppins, treated hundreds of infected patients before her hospital burned to the ground. Now she’s discovered the telltale gold-flecked marks on her skin. When the outbreak first began, she and her husband, Jakob, had made a pact: they would take matters into their own hands if they became infected. To Jakob’s dismay, Harper wants to live—at least until the fetus she is carrying comes to term. At the hospital, she witnessed infected mothers give birth to healthy babies and believes hers will be fine too. . . if she can live long enough to deliver the child.
 
Thanks to Hachette Australia for my review copy. 
 
The Good:
 
  • Fantastic supernatural element in Dragonscale. 

 

  • Great cast of characters. Harper is not only intelligent, astute, and hard as rocks - she's also incredibly likeable. The Fireman gives both comic relief, and relates emotional backstory amazingly well. 

 

  • A nicely diverse cast - a pregnant woman, a deaf boy..  different races, ages, genders. It's great to see an author embrace a real assortment character types, that barrel through the book using their own appropriately believable strengths and weaknesses.

 

  • (ok ok there's the fire thing, but it's not overused, or overpowers the character's regular human abilities) 

 

  • Hill paces this thing like a master. Ebbs and flows perfectly, keeping the thrill on, without making it a constantly stressful experience. 

 

  • Simple, easy, slipstream prose, that allows readers to fly through this behemoth. (1 kg of book!). However, it still produces beautiful wordery throughout.

 

  • Mary Poppins songs :)  

 

 

 

The Not So Good:

 
  • Unfortunately, a fairly predictable plot line. 

 

  • The expectation that The Fireman might kick some old thriller conventions, didn't eventuate. 

 

Conclusion:

 
Another fantastic tome from Joe Hill! Incredibly enjoyable, even if slightly predictable. Definitely worth picking up if you're a supernatural thriller fan, or have enjoyed Hill's work in the past. 
 
Ghoul Girl with Ghosts in the Garden by Book Frivolity. (book: My Demonic Ghost: Banished Spirit by Jacinta Maree)
Ghoul Girl with Ghosts in the Garden by Book Frivolity. (book: My Demonic Ghost: Banished Spirit by Jacinta Maree)

Hello all! 

 

Gosh, it feels like a bloody long time since I've had the chance to blog! A lot has been happening at Kristy's Ménagerie de Chats, and I've had my work cut out to keep it all under control! 

 

Since I last posted I've moved house (never again!!! Gah!), started working at Cohesion Press (w00t!), become a judge for fantasy short stories and novellas for the Aurealis Awards (squee!), Grimdark Magazine's Kickstarter for the 'Evil is a Matter of Perspective' anthology has almost kicked off (I'll post more about this when it goes live in a few days!).. Other things I can't remember right now.. (my brain is too full to think much else! Plus, none of it's been good stuff!)..  

 

I've still been reading a good chunk in between unpacking boxes (mostly books!) and everything else, I've just not had the chance to really sit down and write anything worthwhile about the experiences. In all honesty, I've felt more inclined to create book related art, as it's so relaxing (I lie, it's frustrating as all get up, but there's joy in that frustration!).  

 

I think, at least for the near future, my reviews will be pared down to the bare bones of what I really think is pertinent info about each book. I have an interview coming up with Marc Turner,  writer of The Dragon Hunters,  and there'll be a guest post by Aussie Spec-Fic writer Alan Baxter later in the month to keep bookish appetites whetted! 

 

In any case, I'll see you all in a few days with more.. Stuff! 

 

K.

 

Book 'In Lieu of a Review': The Los Nefilim Novellas by T. Frohock

In Midnight's Silence - Teresa Frohock Without Light or Guide - Teresa Frohock The Second Death: Los Nefilim: Part Three - T. Frohock

You can find the Los Nefilim Novelas at: Amazon | Kobo

 

The fate of mankind has nothing to do with mankind…

Born of an angel and a daimon, Diago Alvarez is a singular being in a country torn by a looming civil war and the spiritual struggle between the forces of angels and daimons. With allegiance to no one but his partner Miquel, he is content to simply live in Barcelona, caring only for the man he loves and the music he makes. Yet, neither side is satisfied to let him lead this domesticated life and, knowing they can't get to him directly, they do the one thing he's always feared.

They go after Miquel.

Now, in order to save his lover's life, he is forced by an angel to perform a gruesome task: feed a child to the daimon Moloch in exchange for a coin that will limit the extent of the world's next war. The mission is fraught with danger, the time he has to accomplish it is limited…and the child he is to sacrifice is the son Diago never knew existed.

 

Gosh, this one went through so many stages, so I thought I'd show them. I still don't really think it's finished. I usually put together fully Fantasy based images, so time period appropriate clothing, hairstyles, etc etc are never usually an issue, and even though I gave it my best shot with this (1930's Spain), I still wavered pretty hard!

 

Firstly, the Los Nefilim are born of Angels or Daimons, or in Diago's case, both. And I love putting wings on things. So it started out something like this, a moment of affection between Miquel and Diago:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 But then, I wanted to stay a little truer to Teresa Frohock's vision, in which the Los Nefiilim look mostly human, however I still wanted to show that these men are part ethereal in nature. I made the wings more of a suggestion.. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And then.. I had a thought, and it made me actually kind of teary.. Diago and Miquel have a son, Rafael. The relationship between the three is just gorgeous.. I mean, breathtakingly so.. So, although I didn't want to add a third figure into the image, I thought "What if this was a photo, taken by Rafael as he was watching his father's finally lose themselves in a moment of pure love..?".. I actually did have a bit of a weep. No kidding! Probably a combo of heavy steroids and beautiful writing on behalf of Teresa Frohock, but I did. This is where I stopped, because that was enough for me.. It'll probably be fixed a little more in the future, but for now, this is enough.. I have no idea about what type of photographs would've been able to be taken in that period. nor how they would've aged, but I liked the idea of sepia. So this is it. For the moment..