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How to Plan your protagonists journey

Throughout everyone’s journey, there are hopes, aspirations, and dreams; and in order for any of those things to come to fruition, certain steps need to be taken to get to the chosen goal. The superficial goal.

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Now here’s the tricky part, the unseen truth behind those desires: What we want, isn’t what we need. That’s because subconsciously, the things we’re hoping to manifest are in fact a band-aid of wishful thinking. The inherent lie we tell ourselves is that when we achieve X, Y or Z somehow we’ll feel better, be whole and be blissfully happy.

But in reality, a better-paid job, a bigger house or faster car will never fill the void we’re trying to escape. This applies to our characters too. Therefore its simply the superficial goal – to figure out what our character needs, we’ll need to delve further and enter the first stage of our character’s arc.

As we begin to align the needs of the character, we come up against conflict and what stands in their path. How will they overcome this, what do they need to learn and how will they adapt? What is their motivation to do this? This, in part, will have a direct correlation to their personality traits, but also the external or internal factors; which is where the plot and the character meets.

Last week I explored the concept of how to hook readers from the first line through curiosity and conflict. Here we play with a similar concept of how to hook readers through character, conflict, and stakes.

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What drives your character to succeed, what’s on the line if they fail and more importantly why should the reader care?

Creating a believable character that the reader can cheer for is the first step, the rest lies in the plot. The intriguing storyline that toys with something similar to this: Conflict, stakes and a failed attempt to solve the outcome, followed by a realization that what they’ve been doing isn’t working, the opportunity to try again and learn from their failures and ultimately their final decision: – Do they Awaken and grow, or remain the same and how does this decision affect the outcome of the story.

For a more in-depth look at these concepts, I recommend visiting the fantastic blog by K.M.Weiland www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com

Author Lorraine Ambers - fantasy romance writer

What do you think about this weeks post? Share your thoughts and tips, you know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2019.
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How to Hook a Reader from the First Sentence.

We all know first impressions count, from the title to the very first sentence. So if you lose the reader at this point, chances are they won’t be coming back again. Whoever said ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ probably was not in the writing industry. The first line needs to be brilliant, presenting something curious, shocking or entertaining, and it must be an example of your best writing.
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Fear not, writing buddies; you’re not alone in editing that all important line for the trillionth time. It’s something most of us struggle with at some point.

Here are some examples of excellent first lines, they hook your attention long enough for you to think, ‘oh, what’s happening here?’ Lets’ take a look, perhaps you’ll recognise a few.

“It took seven years to get the letter right.”

“Blue Sargent had forgotten how many times she’d been told that she would kill her true love.”

“The screw through Cinder’s ankle had rusted, the engraved cross marks worn to a mangled circle.”

“I remember lying in the snow, a small red spot of warm going cold, surrounded by wolves.”

“I hate having to dress like a man.”

“After a year of slavery in the Salt Mines of Endovier, Celaena Sardothien was accustomed to being escorted everywhere in shackles and at sword-point.”

Book Petals Love Writing Novel Author Lorraine Ambers

So what are the magic ingredients for crafting a great line?

They encourage a sense of curiosity or shock: Why does she have to dress like a man? Why does she have a rusted screw in her ankle? What was so important that it took seven years to write?

They present the reader with conflict: Will she escape slavery? Why does she have to kill her first love and will she get away with it? Will the wolves kill her?

By combining curiosity and conflict you drop the reader straight into the action, where things are about to start happening, getting to the heart of the story as soon as possible.

While it’s tempting to lure the reader in with beautiful descriptions and lengthy prose, you run the risk of losing the reader’s interest before they’ve had a chance to meet your character.

The same might be said for opening with dialogue; the reader hasn’t had a chance to become orientated with the story, let alone become invested in your character. Why should they care what they’re talking about?

Alternatively, opening with inner dialogue gives a deeper perspective, potentially allowing the reader to become accustomed to your MC through their thoughts and actions.

Don’t forget to check out your favourite novel and see if any of their first lines grab your attention.

Author Lorraine Ambers - fantasy romance writer

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2019.

 

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The Do’s and Don’ts of Writing Dialogue

The best way to immerse a reader into your story is directly through your character’s, experiences. Their senses and surroundings, but also their internal thoughts and reactions: Therefore, dialogue is an important tool for any writer.

We’ve already taken a closer look at How to Create Vivid Settings and How to Write Persuasive Content in your novel, so don’t forget to check those out.

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Here is my list of do’s and don’ts when it comes to writing effective dialogue.

Do – keep your character’s voice consistent: Every character thinks and acts in different ways, reflect this through what they say, they should have a unique pattern of speech or vocabulary. Equally as powerful, is what they don’t say. A long, drawn-out pause or internal reflection can work wonders.

Don’t – bog down the conversation with irrelevant fillers, like small talk or little noises that we tend to use; ‘Erm, um, well, yeh…’ there’s no room for it in your novel. Everything said and done must drive the plot forward with purpose.

Do – add conflict and tension to dialogue to keep the reader hooked.

Don’t – Litter your dialogue with people’s names, this is usually only done when a character is trying to get someone’s attention or to make a point.

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Do – punctuate and formulate your dialogue. Keep your manuscript consistent with the style of speech quotes used and remember to start a new line when there’s a new speaker.

Don’t – forget the importance of speech Tags. If the reader has backtrack to discover who’s speaking then you’ve lost engagement., a cardinal sin in the writing world. By adding a simple, she said or he said, at the beginning or end of the dialogue can make a huge difference. But keep them to a minimum, only use if the reader can’t tell who’s speaking.

Do – use Action Beats to show what your character is doing/ thinking by adding action and gestures.

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Don’t – convey your characters emotions with adverbs like, said angrily, sulkily, or sadly. This is telling, instead, show through the dialogue and action beats.

‘Get out.’ Ben curled his fists and grit his teeth. Or ‘Go away.’ Ben slumped further into his seat and stared at the floor.

Do – use the preference of said over other speech verbs such as, exclaimed, breathed, stuttered or cried. Keep it simple and let the dialogue and action do the talking.

Don’t – use dialogue as an opportunity for exposition: This is where the character explains the plot. It’s the worst kind of telling over showing.

Do – take advantage of the opportunity to reveal character insights; what does there speech tell the reader about their age, culture or background. In The Magicians by Lev Grossman, Janet makes pop culture references during her dialogue, not only does this reveal the era she grew up in, but it also reveals her witty sense of humour.

The Magicians by Lev Grossman Review Fantasy Author

Don’t – over use jargon, slang, or accents: It can become jarring to the reader. Whilst the odd Scottish infliction can be enduring ‘do you ken?’ Too much becomes a reader’s battlefield as they try to decipher each and every spoken sentence. Equally, slang dates and becomes irrelevant. Different cultures use different turn of phrases, so what works in one part of the world will not make sense in another part.

Do – check your dialogue by reading it out loud to see if it sounds natural and like something your character would say. It never hurts to act it out, so have some fun and get creative.

Author Lorraine Ambers - fantasy romance writer

Do you have any tips about writing dialogue? If so, please share them. You know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2018.
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Creating Simple Character Profiles

We all love things that make our lives a little easier. Especially, when being a writer can sometimes begin to feel like creative chaos:

How many characters do I have?

Where were they born?

Wait! What colour did I say their eyes were?

So many questions, so little time… and how many scraps of paper, notebooks or random computer files have I used to catalogue all this info?

Fear not, to help us all become a little more organised, I’ve created some fun worksheets that can be filled in and filed away to kickstart your WIP bible.

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If you’re confused by what a writers bible looks like, then head on over to Kate’s fantastic blog to find out why you should have a series bible and what to include in them. Her posts are a wonderful resource for any writer, full of insightful, practical writing and editing tips.

Of course, characters are more than just appearances, they need to develop a distinct personality based on their fictional experiences and journey. To navigate that, I’ve developed another worksheet that delves a little deeper.

While not all of this information will be used in the novel, it will give you, the creator, a better grasp of who this character is, what makes them tick.

You might like to refer to one of my other post, How to Create Believable Villains, which will hopefully inspire you while developing your antagonist.

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I hope you found them helpful and I hope you figure out a way to print them out!!
Author Lorraine Ambers - fantasy romance writer

Let me know if I’ve missed something important and remember to keep an eye out for more worksheets in the future. I’m currently working on character family charts and Goal-Conflict-Stakes worksheets.

Until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2018.
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How to Write Rich and Vivid Settings

The setting of your novel is just as important as character development and dialogue. It needs to accurately reflect the period or define the world-building making it as vibrating and sensory as possible. It’s much more than painting a picture, its a fine art of evoking the five senses to bring the story alive, immersing the reader into the world you’ve created.

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Whilst it’s tempting to fill your pages with purple prose and lengthy descriptions, be mindful that those approaches tend to bog a story down. Foreshadowing is a great tool that allows the writer to drip feed upcoming events; a carefully placed dagger might elude to a murder or a broken lock might reveal how a derelict house is broken into. However, relevance is vital, if that dagger isn’t going to be used to drive the plot forward don’t use it for the sake of embellishing a scene. Aside from the odd red herring to mislead your reader, everything should have a purpose, even if it is only to show how affluent your character is or to reveal aspects of their personality.

To help develop the story and anchor the reader, include details such as the time of day, weather, place, or season. For example: An apple tree in early bloom would hint at spring. Some of the specifics could be done through character description and clothing, but others can be hinted at while your character moves through the setting. Instead show the streetlamps flaring to life as the sun dips below the high-rise buildings. Perhaps car lights reflect off of the slick tarmac to reveal a rainy night.

Another great writing technique is to add symbolism, we see symbols every day and take them for granted: A heart means love. Red signals passion or anger. And even names and places can have a meaning behind them. We can go further using similes, such as, as brave as a lion. Or by using metaphors: Imagine a character returning home to take care of an elderly parent, to find their childhood farm in a run-down dilapidated condition, much like the health of their loved one.

Use the landscape or worldbuilding as an obstacle for your character to overcome. An anxious character might fear large cities full of people. What would happen if he had to travel to a big city to meet with his dream agent? OK, so that’s one of my potential obstacles, but you can start to understand how facing that fear would be a great challenge.

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Lastly, let’s not forget the advantages the five senses play when crafting a novel. They can be used to foreshadow, show the passing of time, reveal landscapes that build plot and play with symbolism. But never underestimate the importance of evoking emotions in your readers, all of which can be done by arousing the five senses as the character’s move through the story.

 

Author Lorraine Ambers - fantasy romance writer

What technique do you need to work on? And which is your preferred method of evoking emotions in your reader? Please comment, you know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2019.
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How to Create Believable Villians.

Antagonist forces are paramount to a story and while they can sometimes be represented by a theme, such as, prejudice or oppression. Or even an internal struggle, such as, mental health or limiting paradigms , they are usually represented in the form of a person.

So how do we stop this character from becoming a one-dimensional caricature representation?

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The best tip for any writer learning their craft is to read, read a bit more, and then keep reading. Study how these villains have been created; what works, what doesn’t and what you in turn would do. Another great research tool, is to study villains in movies and TV shows. Remember, inspiration comes from many sources. For more tips on finding inspiration why not click the link and check out my previous post?

First of all, remember that every single character in your story believes they are the hero. Yes, even the bad ones.

Just as your protagonist has goals, hopes and dreams, so does the antagonist. To create conflict, the villain and hero will challenge each other, doing anything in their power to stop the other from gaining their goal, because it will usually block their own journey. Play on this, use it to your advantage, imagine the villain and hero are magnetised polar opposites, doing everything in their power to repel the other whilst being constantly bonded together.

Interconnect both of Goal-Conflict-Stakes journey for maximum effect.

Whether a person is good or bad they will have a set of core values. Keep them authentic by sticking to those rules.

Villains need positive traits, just as hero’s need negative traits, it’s what makes them appear human.

Allow readers to empathise with the villain, even if they disagree. Envisage their full story, their journey and ask:

• What or who do they love?
• What are their struggles?
• What happened to them to make them behave in such a way?

Don’t fall into the trap of creating a villain that’s a psychopath or has a borderline personality disorder. This is stereotyping and, in my opinion, does more harm by labelling people struggling with such disorders as evil or somehow less than others.

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Show the reader that your antagonist wasn’t always bad. Perhaps personality faults, environmental circumstances or both drove them into the villain they are today. A three-dimensional villain is never cruel, manipulative and destructive just for effect, there’s a reason behind it, so allow the reader to explore this.

Describe your villain. Not only what their physical features are like, but show any ticks or traits they might have. What manner do they hold themselves in? What do they wear? Again, don’t be tempted to stereotype; not all villains need a scar, a limp, a black cloak or death mask. In real life they’re often undistinguishable, or perhaps even charismatic.

The villain and the hero mirror each other, through similarities but also through contrast. Thus the villain will expose certain truths about the hero, that they didn’t want to admit. And vice versa, whereas the villain won’t overcome this revelation, the hero will grow and evolve into the saviour. Thus being able to conquer all that was set out before them.

Author Lorraine Ambers - fantasy romance writer

Do you have any tips on how to create believable villains? What do think of my very first Infographic?

Please share your thoughts, you know I love hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2019.
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Reaching Milestones and Conquering Fears

This post I’m changing pace and inviting you in for a friendly chat. So grab a cuppa and settle down. It’s all about workshops, writing groups, dreams and milestones.

Last week it was my birthday and I turned 40, it sounds old… it is old! To celebrate we had a much needed family holiday: Lots of riding bikes, swimming, crazy golf and a selection of rum based cocktails. Yum!

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Now that I’m home, I’m reflecting and when I look back on my life I’m not disheartened. I’ve crammed a lot in: achieved and failed in incredible ways. And more important than the past, I still have dreams to fulfill.

Many of you already know of my goal to obtaining an agent for my debut novel, and although it’s had some great feedback it’s time to shelve that story and start afresh. So with the help of my awesome betas I’m changing the sequel into a standalone. Yay, beta’s!!!!

Thank you Ari Meghlen for your invaluable feedback on the opening chapters of Mischief and Mayhem.

In the next few month I plan to start the submission process again.

I’m surprisingly optimistic about this. I learnt an incredible amount from my first novel and who knows, maybe one day it will still be published. Statistics say that on average, an author get picked up by an agent on their third novel. It’s all about perseverance, which is why following your passion is so important. Slogging away at something for years with no recognition or validation is brutal. We need the fire and determination to keep going. Hopefully, you have a few cheerleaders to keep you going!

 

Enjoy the journey - Benedict Cumberbatch
– Benedict Cumberbatch

I’m currently halfway through Rebecca Alasdair‘s YA contemporary-romance novel, Holding Up The Sky. Its beautiful and heart-wrenching… I can’t remember the last time a book made me cry – In a good way. I’ve completely connected with her MC. Rebecca is still looking for beta’s, so if you’re interested pop over to her blog, she has all the details written there.

I’ve joined a friendly little group of like-minded entrepreneurs where I hosted a short talk about copywriting and persuasive writing. You can checkout my previous posts if you’ve missed them. Yes, I was nervous and my voice wobbled a little, but the group were engaged and seemed genuinely interested. I even had a well-timed laugh.

My writing group (there’s only three of us, shh!) is taking shape and we’re set to meet this month. And from those experiences the opportunity to hold my own writing workshops has presented itself. (Aah, run’s around screaming!) I’ll keep you posted with more news.

Exciting times ahead!

Author Lorraine Ambers - fantasy romance writer

Thanks for stopping by. Do you have any news? If so, please share it. You know I love hearing from you.

Until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2018.

Three Tips to Harness your Creativity

Today I want to introduce my 3 tips on how to keep your creativity cup full and overflowing.

We all have divine times where our creativity is bursting into life. Where the sun sparkles, the birds chirp and we become our own version of a Disney character. Filled with the joy of a new quest, the pen becomes an extension of our essence and the words simply flow.

Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. When life has dealt us the short-straw, the world around us dulls to greys, and putting one word in front of the other becomes impossible. Some call it writer’s block, I call it writer’s burnout. The stress and strain of life take its toll. Robbing the very thing that we held most dear:

Our passion. Our creativity. Our art.

Writers harness your creativity

Tip One: Silence that inner critique and keep going despite its cruel taunts. Remember that every artist goes through times of self-doubt, the secret to overcoming them is to reach out to those around you for support. I’m a huge champion of this blogging community, they have become a virtual family, offering words of encouragement from a like-minded perspective. I love you all.

Twitters #writingcommunity is another great resource. For more practical advice on conquering this negative beast; read my post on  Overcoming Self-doubt.

“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”
― Sylvia Plath

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Tip Two: Allow yourself time to fuel your Inspiration. There is an abundance of beauty in the world, use everything in your disposal to re-boost your creativity. Books, movies, art, nature or even the hustle and bustle of a busy town. Take nothing for granted. Though every story has been told before, it has never been expressed by you. So feast on the stories surrounding you and then retell the tale.

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.”
― Martha Graham

Tip Three: Let’s not forget that without darkness it’s hard to admire the light. Many artists, myself included, struggle with mental health issues. In times like these, be kind to yourself and practice the steps that help you into recovery. Though you won’t appreciate it at the time, our art is often made stronger for our empathy and compassion to the burdens of life. It is the silver lining to a thunderous storm.

“One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

Author Lorraine Ambers - fantasy romance writer

Thanks for stopping by.

Do you have a tip on harnessing creativity? Why not share it with me?

You know I love hearing from you.

Until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2018.
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Copywriting and the Benefits for your Blog

Today we’re going to explore copywriting and how the techniques can benefit bloggers. It’s also a vital skill for all entrepreneurs in any line of business. In a previous post we discovered the advantages of persuasive writing, which has many similarities and should be used in tandem when crafting a descriptive content for the purposes of engaging your audience. Don’t forget to check it out.

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You might be asking – what is copywriting and does it apply to me?

Copywritingcopywriters create fresh written content for advertising, marketing and descriptive texts. Copywriters can write more creative text, like ad jingles, taglines, and other creative copy, or more research-based copy, like a job description on a website.

As a writer, copywriting will become paramount in your marketing. From little social media snippets, to writing an introduction about you or your work, and of course blogging. The aim is to coax your audience into engaging with you, your brand, so that they choose to invest in your product. But also to drive traffic to your site by using some of the tips mentioned below.

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Do your research: Like any good writer knows, research is paramount to your success. You may not need to use every piece of information garnered but you 100% need to know what your promoting. Research, research, research.

Use rich SEO content: Define the keywords relevant to your brand and product and insert them throughout your content. This will encourage your blog post to be picked up by search engines and rank you near the top.

USP – Unique Selling Point: What makes you standout from the crowd, why is your work different from your competitors. I’m sure you’re aware of how hard this is, but it’s a necessary skill to master.

Use your words: Colourful prose and strong verbs are essential when crafting each piece, thankfully, we’re writers and have an advantage – use it. Make it interesting and tell your story.

Use a catchy headline: Remember the 4 U’s, Urgent, Unique, Ultra-specific and Useful. Your goal is to catch the reader attention and hold their interest.

 

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Know your audience: Identify your target audience and work to appeal to them. Give them what they want by painting a vivid picture that satisfies their desire. Learn to speak to your ideal customer.

Be clear and concise: It’s easy to play on words, but sometimes that’s not the best way to hook the reader. Make your language easy to understand, don’t bog the reader down with jargon. Everything you write should have a purpose. Equally make your blog easy to read: utilize the white space, use bullet points and short paragraphs. And never forget the advantage of great imagery.

Focus on the benefits: Your readers want to be emotional invested, so highlight the benefits, not the features. Talk about what you, or your product does not is, and demonstrate this. Make the reader feel like they’re getting something, give them instantaneous gratification. Use persuasive writing to ask questions that encourage the reader to agree.

Back up your claims: Build your credibility with the following:

  • Facts and statistics
  • methodologies
  • testimonials
  • case studies
  • success stories

Include a strong call to action: Take advantage of the opportunity to tell your readers what to do. Call, sign up, buy, register – you’ve gathered their support and interest, now make sure they invest. Successful writers and marketers use the power of three at all times. Don’t be subtle or cleaver, drive your audience to use the CTA in three different places.

Lead with your strongest point: Don’t save the best for last, you want to grab the reader’s attention and keep it. Stress the value of what you’re offering. Let your natural writing voice flow, research indicates that most successful blogs employ a relaxed, personal style.

Author Lorraine Ambers - fantasy romance writer

Thanks for stopping by.

Do you have any tips to share? Have you experimented with copywriting by applying these tips to your business?

If so, have you had any positive results? Please share your experience. You know I love hearing from you.

Until next time, Much Love.

 

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2018.
Novel-Artwork-Michelle Kenney

Review: City of Dust by Michelle Kenney

I receieved a copy of City of Dust from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Novel-Artwork-Michelle Kenney

The fight is never over.

Life in Arafel is no longer safe. Not since August’s disappearance, and whispers of a ghost controlling Pantheon.

Meanwhile, Talia stands torn between secretive twin, Eli, and best friend, Max.

Betrayal forces Talia to leave the sanctuary of her forest home as she pursues the stolen Book of Arafel. A book which could destroy the freedom of all those she loves if it falls into the wrong hands. And when she enters the ancient ruined city of Isca, she fights to protect the vulnerable from the iron grip of the Pantheon, while learning to fight for the man she loves.

But with the shadow of the Black Aquila looming ever closer, will she put the freedom of others above her own, or will she follow her heart?

This is Michelle Kenney’s thrilling second instalment in the Book of Fire Trilogy.

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I award this novel 3.5 stars

Author Michelle Kenney is a fantastic writer who writes beautiful prose and compelling characters. The world building is rich and luscious. Mixing the natural world of Arafel with a post-apocalyptic Exeter where its scientists tinkers with genetic moulding. Here we encounter a tapestry of Roman mythology and a diverse selection of mythical beings.

What I loved.

Talia is a feisty, feral girl struggling with the after-effects from book 1, Book of Fire, when she and her companions are thrust back into the clutches of Pantheon. I loved her brother Eli and their close bond. Eli’s disadvantages made him more endearing. I particularly adored the love triangle, between Talia, her best friend Max and Pantheon’s smouldering General August. Where does Talia’s heart lie and is August the traitor he’s portrayed to be? The inner turmoil and tension was a great hook. It’s a fantastic concept: Genetically modifying Roman DNA to create a new breed of humans and a complex rich selection of mythical creatures.

What I didn’t like.

The science technology during the dialogue was occasionally jarring, pulling me out the story. During the middle scenes the pace dropped, there was a lot of tunnel traversing and not a lot of character reflection or growth. I lost connection with the story and my desire to care for the quest. However, this picked back up with the reintroduction of the love triangles tension.  The final chapters reached pivotal action that had me on the edge of my seat, only to disappoint with the cliffhanger ending. (I’m not a fan of those, but you can’t please everyone.)

If you’re a fan of YA dystopian fantasy then this novel is for you, It’s a well-written read that is similar to The Hunger Games and The Mazerunner.


About the author.

Michelle is a firm believer in magic, and that ancient doorways to other worlds can still be found if we look hard enough. She is also a hopeless scribbleaholic and, when left to her own devices, likes nothing better than to dream up new fantasy worlds in the back of a dog-eared notebook. Doctors say they’re unlikely to find a cure any time soon.

You can follow Michelle over at her pages…

Michelle’s Facebook page

Michelle’s Instagram

Thanks for stopping by. Do you love reading dystopian novels? If so, what is your favourite story / series? Mine is The Hunger Games, I freeking love Katniss.

Author Lorraine Ambers - fantasy romance writer

Until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2018.