August 16

Is it logical to expect logic in a fantasy?

The-Enchantress-thesecrets-of-the-immortal-nicholas-flamel-202x300  I just finished the 6th and final book of The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series by Michael Scott—The Enchantress. If you haven’t read this series yet, I highly recommend it. Just be prepared—you may not find the ending very satisfying!

The series is named Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, but it’s really about 16-year-old twins, Sophie and Josh Newman, who inadvertently get caught up in Nicholas and his wife, Perenelle’s, battle to stop the dark elders (a race who populated the earth before humans) from returning to earth and wiping out the human race. The twins have unique auras of gold and silver, which give them special powers and which is why they are enlisted to help fight the dark elders. The entire series is action packed and a fun read. It quickly immerses you in the many worlds Scott created and into the lives of a ton of characters—many with unpronounceable name such as Quetzalcoatl, Xolotl and Huitzilopochtli. I personally don’t like it when I come across a name I can’t pronounce in a book. It zaps me right out of the story.  If you choose to read this series, just be aware that they need to be read in order, for the storyline builds and continues from one to the next.

Now for the not so good stuff: I would give this series a solid 5-star rating right up to ¾ of the way through book 6. That’s when it all came to a screeching halt for me. Book 6 is basically one giant build up to the climax, wrapping up the other 5 books in a nice tidy bow. I can imagine Mr. Scott was looking for an OMG kind of reaction to the ending, but for me it was more of a “huh? Are you kidding?” There were SO many inconsistencies I felt scammed. I admit I’m a freak about details and wanting things to be logical—yes, even in a fantasy world there can be logic to how things work and what people can and can’t do—but for the author to change facts and truths at the end just to wrap up the story, facts and truths that he so painstakingly drummed into my head for 5 ¾ books, makes me feel like it was all one big con. And I don’t like that feeling. Here is just one example of what I’m talking about: **This is a SPOILER ALERT warning for those who want to read this series** From the very beginning of the series we learn that Sophie and Josh are twins. And like many twins they have exquisite connections that only twins can have, i.e. being able to finish the other’s sentences, knowing what the twin is going to say before they say it, feeling the other twin’s pain, and so on. All 6 books reiterated the fact that these twins had an unusual and exceptional tie to one another. Then we learn at the end that, oh no, they aren’t actually twins. They aren’t even blood relation—Josh was born to a Neanderthal family 30,000 years before Sophie! (Although Josh is described to be a very attractive boy and has none of the Neanderthal features) Really?? **END SPOILER ALERT**

That is just one example of the many twists that made no sense. It would take me pages to go into all of the inconsistencies and impossibilities that made me say, “Wait a minute!” And Mr. Scott is an acclaimed author! So now I’m wondering, do fantasies need to be feasible? I write fantasy because I love the idea of other worlds, other races, magic … every aspect that is a part of a fantasy. I spend hours (actually more like days) figuring out the logic of how something works or how a specific thing could happen in my world. I know I can do anything I want, put my characters in and out of any situation—it’s my imaginary world. But it feels like cheating if there isn’t some logic behind what does or doesn’t happen. I know I can be a little anal about details (ok, maybe a lot anal), but if a character can do all these amazing things in one chapter and then not in the next, I want there to be a reason why. Am I alone in this? It sure would make my job as a writer a lot easier if I am!!

MJ

Category: Uncategorized
August 5

Proud to be an Indie Author

The publishing world is changing—there’s no denying it any longer, and a lot of people (namely agents and the big publishing companies) are worried and fighting like crazy to stop it from doing so. I kind of get that. For years I refused to even entertain the notion of self-publishing or going to ebooks. I was like them and adamant that it would ruin the future of reading. I held a one woman boycott of ereaders and all electronic apps for reading. But no matter how hard I tried to hold onto the traditional publishing theology, the world around me was moving on and traditional publishing was becoming a dinosaur.

This is the way it has been since the beginning of time, actually—change is necessary for progress. So why should the publishing industry be any different? That epiphany hit me one day at a writers’ conference, as I was listening to Barry Eisler, a NY Times best-selling author. He talked about the new wave of ‘indie publishing’ that was sweeping the nation and for the first time it made sense. It also made me think back to my experience with a small traditional publisher—it was … let’s just say it was less than stellar. In fact, I hated almost every part of it. There were tears over the way the editor was changing my story, there was frustration at the cover art and illustrations that I had no say over, the fight to get my book marketed at all—does any of that sound like fun? Remembering that, I finally asked myself, “Why would I want to do it again?”

So like many millions of other people in the world, I went out and brought myself a Kindle. And you know what? I actually love it! Me, the person who fought so hard to hold onto my paperbacks, loves the Kindle! Don’t get me wrong—I still like my paperbacks, and still buy them, but not like I used to. And since many of the ebooks are cheaper (I mean, why shouldn’t they be? There is no printing cost involved), people are reading more.

The publishing world is no longer ‘changing,’ it has changed, and it’s not a bad thing. The door has opened to many, many writers who aren’t celebrities and never had a chance with the big publishing conglomerates. And I’m one of them! I’ve become an Indie Author and I’m proud of it. Life is good and exciting things are yet to come. Hang on—it’s going to be a GREAT ride!

Category: Uncategorized
March 17

Waterfall – a great time travel story

waterfallOk, I admit it … I’m a sucker for a good time travel story, and let me tell you, they aren’t always easy to find. Oh, there are plenty of time travel stories out there, but the key word here is ‘good.’ So many time travels are just a little too far-fetched for me, and what frustrates me about most of them is when the character comes into the future and accepts the new world as if it wasn’t a completely foreign land. I mean, come on, if you were to travel into the future and witness aliens living amongst humans, or flying cars and such, wouldn’t it blow your mind and make you practically numb? It’s not as bad when a character travel back in time, because all of us have had some history and some knowledge of what it used to be like in the olden days. Still, I imagine there would be some pretty hard things to deal with and comprehend in the early centuries that would make a normal person go “whoa!”

But being the sucker that I am, I automatically gravitate to any time travel story, and that’s how I came across Lisa T. Bergren’s, Waterfall, (River of Time Series). This story is about two sisters, Gabi and Lia, who travel back to 13th century Italy and find themselves in the middle of a battle between two political factions. Upon arrival, the sisters are separated, one taken in by each side, so you can only imagine what a problem that would make, especially when Gabi (who is the older of the two) is so intent on reuniting with her sister. The way Ms. Bergren plays out the story is entertaining and intriguing, and, of course, there’s a love story woven into the story as well. I actually think that might be a law—all time travels have to include a love story—but at least Ms. Bergren didn’t make it the main focus of the story, which I appreciated. She included just enough history to make the story interesting, but not boring, lots of action to keep it moving along, and the sisters made the right amount of blunders that you would expect a modern teenage traveling back in time to make. I personally would have like to have seen a little more of a language barrier than what was shown, but the story itself drew me in so that I didn’t stop and go, “oh, come one!” a single time, so I guess it didn’t bother me too much.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it to any and all who enjoy a little history and a little time travel. I do think the next books in the series are priced a little high – $7.49 for the Kindle edition- but I can always pick it up at my local library, so not to worry. If you’d like to check out Waterfall, click here and happy reading!

MJ

Category: Uncategorized
February 17

What Do Readers Really Want? Good Question!

I was enjoying lunch with some author friends of mine the other day and a comment was made that has stuck with me ever since. The comment was – “Readers only want the same story line over and over, and all you have to do is change the names of the characters.” My first inclination that day was to say, “Oh no, that’s not true!” But I’ve been thinking a lot about that statement over the past few days and I have to say, I’m beginning to wonder if my friend was maybe right and I’m the one who’s wrong.

I mean think about it … as soon as Harry Potter came out, what filled the bookstore shelves in the mega stores?  Books about witches, right? I’m not saying that’s all that readers wanted to read, but it was what the majority of publishers were publishing. Then when Twilight came out, what did you see? Tons (and I do mean tons) of vampire love stories. In fact, I gave up going to the bookstores for a while because I, for one, didn’t want to read nothing but the same vampire story. But the publishing houses and bookstores seemed to be intent on shoving them down my throat whether I wanted them or not.

So what is that saying? Did the readers at that time really want to read the same story over and over with different character names? Or did the publishing houses see how successful those books were and decided to cash in on some of that glory and so elected to mainly publish that kind of book. And if that’s all that’s out there, what choice did the reader really have? After all, that’s what Hollywood and TV does all the time. It’s definitely an interesting thought, don’t you think?

Up until the new Indie Publishing movement the only choice we, as readers, had were what the publishing houses decided we should read. Even Harry Potter was turned down 12 times by 12 different publishers because they didn’t think it was good enough. Doesn’t that just make you a little bit mad? Here was an amazing book—one that has turned millions of young people on to reading—and it almost wasn’t published because the editors who read the first manuscript didn’t like that kind of book. I shudder at the thought, and thank God, the 13th publisher had a few brains! Don’t get me wrong—I’m not saying that the publishing houses are bad. They’re a business, and like every other business they need to make money to survive. I’m just saying that maybe, because of the way we’ve been trained our whole lives by bookstores and publishers, we have gotten used to reading the same stories over and over again. And maybe now that readers have a choice and more authors are getting their works out there, readers are going to become a little more brazen and step outside those boundaries that have been set by the publishing houses and explore new concepts and ideas! Doesn’t that sound wonderful? And that’s kind of what this blog is going to be about … finding new books that grab our hearts and take us to where no man has gone before, whether they’ve been brought to us through the traditional publishing methods or through Indie Publishing—we don’t care.

So if you’re tired of reading only what someone else thinks you should read, come join us. We think this is going to be an amazing ride!!

MJ

Category: Uncategorized
February 7

A New Fantasy Series Worth Reading

3DBookMJ Bell has a strength for character development that shows right from the start with the MC, Deston, a young teenager just placed into foster care. His complaining, fears and focus are very believable for a boy of his age. It is just like opening a door to a real teenager’s life. Margaux is Deston’s “companion” throughout the book and the two of them have a relationship that is full of awkwardness and the norm in this age group–speaking before you think.

The mysteriousness of the plot trickles out of the background with each new chapter, making Before the Full Moon Rises a page turner. Each time Deston learned something new or stumbled into a new place, I was excited to learn what would happen to him and his friend next.  The chapters are beautifully written, with some stunning imagery that will delight young readers as well as adults who like adventure with a definite sense of place.

Bell provided for me an excellent balance of good and evil. Her characters explore for you, with excellent dialogue, why the faeries are “good” and what is at stake if they lose. With great attention she also explores the motives behind the villain, telling a believable story that encases the realm of fantasy along with tapping into the human condition. For me this provided a real reference point to the motives and not a far fetched “dark” for evil’s sake. I believe this is one reason this is great for young readers.

Bell’s characters are full of moral struggles and each struggle comes with resolution that is believable while still holding the fantasy element that we all enjoy so much. I highly recommend this book and can’t wait for book two to be available on Amazon.

Guest Review – Brandy Eli

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February 1

Hello world!

We are so excited to share with you our great book finds. So stay tuned and check back for our reviews of books we feel hold up, or at least come close, to the standards of Harry Potter!

Category: Uncategorized