The Iron Queen Iron Fey series Julie Kagawa Lorraine Ambers review YA fantasy romance

#Review The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa

 

The Iron Queen (The Iron Fey Book 3) by Julie Kagawa

Book Blurb

The Iron Queen Julie Kagawa book reviewIn less than twenty-four hours I’ll be seventeen. Although, technically, I won’t actually be turning seventeen. I’ve been in the Nevernever too long.

When you’re in Faery, you don’t age. So while a year has passed in the real world, agewise I’m probably only a few days older than when I went in. In real life, I’ve changed so much I don’t even recognize myself. MY NAME IS MEGHAN CHASE. I thought it was over. That my time with the fey, the impossible choices I had to make, the sacrifices of those I loved, was behind me. But a storm is approaching, an army of Iron fey that will drag me back, kicking and screaming. Drag me away from the banished prince who’s sworn to stand by my side. Drag me into the core of conflict so powerful, I’m not sure anyone can survive it.

THIS TIME, THERE WILL BE NO TURNING BACK.

Author Lorraine Ambers YA fantasy romance novel book review

I award The Iron Queen 5 stars

This is book 3 of the Iron Fey and my favourite out of the series. Julie’s stories are similar to my own in regards to the retelling of faery tales. The good pace and immediate action, hold the reader captivated from start to end. Her books echo the epic, fantasy element of my own work, which is what interested me in the first place.

Megan Chase is a great character with a strong internal voice that carries us through the book. In this story she learns to fight, wanting to hold her own in battle and not rely on the strength of Ash or her best friend Puck. She also needs to master her powers that are a contradiction to each other, the power of the iron and summer.

What I loved: The banter between Ash and Puck, it kept the obvious rivalry for Megan interesting and not at all tedious. In this novel, Ash and Megan’s relationship is beautifully interwoven into the story. It was the perfect blend of romance in an epic tale. Ash is silent and lethal yet his affection for Megan is genuine. I swooned over this male. Oh my!!

The worlds have an Alice in Wonderland feel. In particular the Trods and Grimalkin, who reminded me of the Cheshire Cat. Grim has realistic animal mannerisms. He exudes the aloof, smugness of a cat. Coming and going as he pleases. (Just like my Jaspurr.)

I loved the unusual and unique realms; they were beautiful and richly described. The premise of the Iron fey is original and a great concept in relation to the whimsical more traditional faery. in myth the fey are afraid of iron, Julie created a world where the iron Fey were born from the growing use of machines. Gremlins and bugs clash with the winter and summer courts, all lurking behind our world, disguised by glamour.

What I disliked: This book is too similar to book 1, The Iron King. The plot and battle are virtually identical down to the settings. Although, I think The Iron Queen is intricate and alluring. The final battle scene was melodramatic and boring. I must admit, I skipped forward a paragraph or two until the event was over.

With that being said, I actually started with book 3 and bought the whole series. That’s how invested I was in the characters and their journey. I was dying to know how Megan and Ash met and what will happen to them. I haven’t read The Iron Knight yet… So many books, so little time.

A fantastic read for fans of faery fantasy that is firmly rooted in the realm of believability. With great characters and spectacular realms full of magic and wonder. It’s not at all like the Disney Tinkerbell movies. Yes, I’ve watched them all (with my kids).

 

Author Lorraine Ambers Web-Banner YA fantasy book review romance

© Author Lorraine Ambers & http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2016.
The Eternal Scribbler Guest post

Guest Post – The Eternal Scribbler.

  As writers we have to a pretty hefty job of carrying all those characters, worlds, ideas around in our heads desperate to come out and be added to the blank page.

  Today I want to talk about the first few pages of your book.

  The first pages of a book are what sell it. You can have a fancy cover, great blurb and a dazzling plot – but if you fail in the first few pages, you could have lost your chance to shine.

Writing novel book plot character

  This is one of the reasons I usually write my first chapter last or at least after much more of the book is written. This allows me to move the scenes around and sometimes find a mid-scene that works better for the first chapter.

  From publishers to readers, those few pages have to be gripping (not talking suspenseful, unless…you know…you’re writing a suspense novel!) but they need to draw the reader in and make them want to keep reading.

  No point having the best action scene, romance or climatic ending ever if nobody is able to actually get to it.

  So take those first few pages extremely seriously.

Writing tips novel plot characters WIP

  Here are some thoughts on what you should have in your first chapter (preferably in the first few pages)

• Voice – Don’t wait until you are further into the book before you show your voice, get it right out onto the page at the start. If I’m reading a book I want to know the author has a strong command of writing, a voice that can clearly be heard through the words.

• Senses – Engage the reader immediately with sensory detail. If you get to chapter 3 before we even have a plethora of sensory information, then you’ve missed something. Be aware of getting caught just using sight and sound. Use all five of the main senses to fill out your world. Whether it’s the sharp smell of horse manure in the street, or the bitter taste of fruit on the turn. Let’s get some details!!

• Location, location, location – No we don’t need to know the longitude and latitude, but we need some detail about where this story is set. Character and dialogue can often place a story, but don’t forget to set the scene. Are we storming a castle? Trudging through a muddy field? Maybe even just listening to a grieving mother in the kitchen of her small apartment. Give the reader some direction as to where they are when they start reading.  

• Characters – Now, some writers state they want to meet the protagonist or antagonist in the first chapter. Since my manuscript doesn’t actually start with meeting my protagonist but in dealing with the aftermath of her going missing, I ignore what “some writers” suggest. You don’t have to have your MC right in the thick of it, but make sure whoever you have on stage first has an important role in the plot, even if they just throw in a set of magic beans and vanish. Those magic beans better be pretty important!  

Writing tips novel plot characters WIP

But these characters need to be interesting or likeable. While characters we hate are fun too, it’s recommended we don’t add them at the beginning as it can drive a reader from continuing – so keep your obnoxious, love-to-hate-them characters for later on.

Make sure there is some depth to these characters. That means they react, they emote, they live the scene. Let’s not just follow them around with a camcorder seeing what they might do. Give them a voice, give them a purpose, give them a mental state!

• Plot – your first few pages should touch on the plot. It should hint or whisper or build on something that is coming up. We don’t want to see characters going through daily routines and ending with nothing. If you haven’t even hinted on what the plot is about then you’ll be boring your reader.

Readers want to get a sense of something happening. Not sure what, so they will want to read more. Nobody…and I mean NOBODY wants to read about your character brushing their teeth, picking out clothes and then leaving for work. Unless all that banality ended with you exposing that this mild-mannered, mousy gentleman is actually an assassin off to execute a government official – you should probably skip it.

So think carefully on what you are putting in your first pages. Think about the books you love and re-read their first pages. See what those authors did to catch your attention.

Happy Writing!

For more great content, find Ari over on her blog: http://www.theeternalscribbler.wordpress.com/

Author Lorraine Ambers writing novel

©Lorraine Ambers 2017

Submission hopes and fears

Are you embarking on the submission phase of your writing journey? Or perhaps like me, you’ve forged head-long into the process, only to feel lost and disorientated.

You’re in the ‘The Magic Eight Ball’ zone. The inside of your mind, has been shaken to its core. Only able to answer; Yes, No or Maybe to your pointless rhetorical questions. Will you find an agent, is your work polished enough, have you spelt the agents name correctly? Blah, Blah, Blah.

I knew going into this process, that waiting and rejection was inevitable. And still I was unprepared.

Submission writer agent hopes fears

As I discussed in my previous post Searching for an Agent. I’d researched the best fit agents for YA fantasy novels, fine-tuned my synopsis, pulled my big girl pants up and repeated, show no fear, you’ve got this.

I’m just five weeks in… I want to share some of my hurdles, blunders and worries I’ve faced:

  • Well-meaning friends congratulating you and ask, ‘When are you going to be published?’ – Urm, I don’t know. It’s about as helpful as asking a heavily pregnant woman, when is the baby going to arrive?
  • Having the best dream, where an amazing, talented agent hired you. Pulling you into a massive bear hug and promising that the world is your oyster. – Only to wake up. At least you know you’re passionate about your writing dream.  Right?
  • Stalking agents via Twitter, Tumbler or LinkedIn, heck maybe all three. Only to humiliate yourself with a miss understood tweet. – Hide from all forms of social media, close all the curtains and spend your life like a hermit. Yikes!
  • Doubting your skills and creativity. Questioning every plot decision that has led you to this point. – It’s hard passing your precious novel over to the great unknown. As a control queen, I thrive on setting my own goals and reaching them. This part requires blind faith in your work, leaving it up to the masters of the literary universe.

Submission writer agent author

I’ve already learnt from this process. By revaluating my hook and short bio, I’ve strengthened my chance at making a good first impression. There are some fantastic bloggers out there who have helped me develop those skills.

Shout-out to: 

http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/secrets-of-story-structure-pt-2-hook/

The Submission Process

That magical moment when you decide NOT to quit writing #writing #writers — BlondeWriteMore

Love writing agent submission

An important part of the process is acknowledgement. It’s easy to let it corrode your self-esteem. You’re not alone in these worries; every writer has struggled with them. Embrace those fears. The whole experience is tinged with What If’s. Use that momentum to evaluate where you’re going and what you plan to do next.

I’ve come to realise that this process, as painful as it can be, is also liberating and exciting. Even if I don’t find the agent of my dreams, I’m not quitting. I can’t. What a huge eye opener. In fact, I’m already 20% into my first draft of book 2 and loving every minute. There’s a sense of satisfaction, in knowing my craft. In the continuous growth of mastering a skill.

Writing inspiration agent submission
Perhaps it will take a 100 submissions, perhaps it will be lucky book number 5, maybe it will never happen.

I’m still going to keep on writing, dreaming and plotting my way to the end.

I hope this blog gives a little bit of hope to anyone embarking on or wading through the query trenches. I love your advice and moral boosting comments, so don’t be shy.

Author writer Lorraine Ambers

Thanks for reading.

© Lorraine Ambers & http://www.lorraineambers.com 2017

Review of Something Blue by Kristy Nicolle

I received this ARC in exchange for my honest review.

Something Blue a Dystopian Romance by Kristy Nicolle

Book blurb

Novel, Something Blue, Dystopian Romance by Kristy NicolleIn the city of Monopolis where happily ever after is just a scientific formula away, Valentine Morland has been waiting nine years for her day to come. Now it’s here, and she will marry the man of her dreams, a stranger to her, before being swept off to life of carefree luxury and bliss, courtesy of the Jigsaw Project. However, all is not as Valentine imagined as her new husband is quickly discovered as not the man of her dreams, but one who claims he isn’t capable of love at all. Harbouring an intense paranoia for the system, which upholds the very idealist fantasy that Valentine holds so dear, Clark threatens to throw her into a world, not of bliss, but of scary consequence where her every emotion is under scrutiny. Can it be that the scientific formula with a 99% success rate got it all wrong, or is everything in the world of Bliss Inc. more sinister than it seems?

I award Something Blue 5 stars

My review:

Something Blue has been written in Kristy Nicolle’s unique voice which strengthens with each novel. The story unfolds with an introduction to the jigsaw scheme. It cleverly immerses the reader into the dystopian setting. Valentine drew me in with her realistic expectations, hopes and fears for her future under the Bliss Inc. umbrella.


The separated districts brought to mind some of my favourite dystopian novels and movies. The technological elements of the story were well formatted. They were described so precisely that I had no question of how the science worked. I know… I’m not a scientist. But I am an author, plot holes are my speciality. There were none. The concept of the story was intriguing and if I’m honest a scary possibility for the survival of our race. Creepy!

Something Blue Teaser by Kristy NicolleWhat I loved: The novel came alive the moment Valentine sets her eyes upon Clark. It was pure emotional dynamite from there on in. Clark is a mysterious, bad boy with an alluring edge that pushes and pulls the reader in. The reality of Clark’s paranoia was unexpected and brilliantly designed. I learnt about the characters nuances as they did each other’s. Valentine is desperate for the sweet forever love story she’s been promised. Though she’s down to earth, her out spoken nature provoked some tantalising responses from Clark. The rise and fall of Valentines emotions prove that there is no such thing as a true love match. Love is far more complex than that.
I loved the different interpretations of the word Bliss throughout the novel. I fell in love with this story, with Clark and Valentine, with Author Kristy Nicolle. You little gem!

 

What I disliked: That the book neatly tied up all the plots meaning Something Blue is a standalone novel with no sequel. 😦


I recommend this book to lovers of dystopian romance who adore complex and gripping relationships. Smouldering cold shoulder guys who draw you in. And a brave female lead who takes on the challenges presented to her in an unforgettable way. 

 

Kristy Nicolle

You can find out more about todays Author by reading her interview and my review of The The Kiss that Saved me from the Tidal kiss trilogy.

Thank you for reading my review, have you read this novel or perhaps a similar one? Let me know, I love reading your comments and discovering new novels in the YA fantasy romance genre. Why not recommend one for me to read and review.

© Author Lorraine Ambers & http://www.lorraineambers.com, 2016.
pixels image, universe, night sky, stars

Guest post – From Whispers to Roars by Kristy Nicolle

Please welcome indie author Kristy Nicolle. She has published a fantasy romance series, The Tidal Kiss Trilogy and is due to release her new dystopian novel Something Blue next week. 

Author Kristy Nicolle
Today, Kristy is sharing her experience on self branding and platform building on social media. 

Author Lorraine Ambers
When I was asked to write this guest blog post I didn’t really know what to say. Lorraine informed me that I’m quite the social media guru, which I guess until recently I never really noticed. So I’m here to talk to all you authors, those of you who are new, old, considering publishing your first book or looking to learn something new.The thing is, marketing via social media, or any other platform for that matter, isn’t awfully difficult. I’ll tell you one thing though, you must have one key quality to succeed. That quality is BELIEF. It sounds sappy and dramatic, but the biggest way to fail at the first hurdle in publishing is to believe that nobody cares. Nobody wants to hear what you have to say, that it’s all been said before.

 

Here’s the thing.

It has all been said before.

 

But not by you.

 Book Tea writing

If you’re a new author you go out there with a freaking megaphone and you tell anyone who will listen about your book. I know it’s scary, I know it’s hard to know if people will want to hear it, but the truth is if you don’t start shouting about your book, nobody else will. Being an author isn’t the kind of profession for those who are shy anymore. Writers used to be thought of as raving introverts, incapable of communicating in any other way than by the pages of their novels, but times have changed, and with indie publishing, you are your own marketing campaign, you are a part of the product. You have to be the one to sell it, to tell people how amazing your book is. To SHOW them what you’re capable of. But to do that, and do it well, you have to believe you have something worth selling. It’s true, vampires and werewolves aren’t a new concept, but how is YOUR vampire novel different? Why should a reader pick it up? If Picasso and Van Gogh both sat down to the same scene, they would paint entirely different pictures. The same goes for writing. Every author is different, and though we walk in the same genres, and among the same types of stories, our experiences and the way in which we write them are nothing less than one of a kind. That’s what you have to realise to market well. Nobody else can be you. Only you can do that. Only you can tell your stories. So, the most important thing is to put your embarrassment and fear aside and start selling yourself. Take a long hard look at who you are as an author and what makes your stories special. Why should a reader pick them up? Pay for them? If you can’t answer these questions- neither can your readers.

Never give up 

The second thing to know about marketing online is simple- image is everything. Often authors say to me – well my graphics don’t matter, they’re paying for my words, not my artistic skills. WRONG. Putting up crappy graphics puts doubt in people’s minds that you know what a quality product looks like before they’ve even checked out the blurb/excerpt. Looks do matter, now more than ever because the market is particularly competitive. You can write the world’s next great novel, but if it looks like crap nobody will buy it. People are shallow, and they say that seven seconds in the length of time it takes someone to decide whether to one click or not. This isn’t just for covers, it’s for everything. Website, teasers, banners. If your author persona doesn’t look professional, people will automatically assume your writing is of a similar quality, even if that’s not the case. If you’re not good with graphics, hire someone!

Writer desk author
My final piece of advice is persistence. Doing one round of spamming facebook groups with your ads isn’t going to see overnight results. Facebook platforms, like anything truly effective take a while to grow and evolve into what you want them to be. Being an indie author these days truly is a marathon, not a sprint. Never be afraid to change it up, to try what’s new and HONESTLY, don’t take every single person’s advice. What works for some authors won’t work for everyone, and marketing trends are just that, trends. They change quickly and often burn out as so many people jump on them they quickly lose their effectiveness.

 If you can dream it you can do it

At the end of the day, there is no one way to market yourself, there is only what you think is right for you. The most important thing is that you’re happy with your approach and open minded enough to make changes when you need to. Trust your gut, believe your product is worth buying and persist. Good things will happen! 

Kristy Nicolle xx

Pixel image computer desk research business

Exploring Google+ for Writers

Hi everyone, thanks for joining me on my expedition of Google+. As an author and blogger I need to get my content out there. To be seen by the masses. Social media provides us this opportunity. But where do we start?

Entering the realm of Platform Building is daunting and a subject we’ve already covered. With our brand discovered and in place, it’s time to adventure into wide web.

photo credit: Social Media Marketing Mix via photopin (license)
photo credit: Social Media Marketing Mix via photopin (license)
Take a look at some of the previous journeys:

Reaching a wide audience and connecting with our readers is the aim, so let’s get started!

Step on: Set up an account using the same crafted brand bios and photos. How to achieve this can be found on my blog about building your platform. It’s an important first step and should not be missed. Tip: Google+ maximises your Google search results from essential key words in your Bio. Understand your target audience; use the same language so they can discover you. Example: fantasy, non-fiction, young adult and romance are a few of mine.

You can create a personnel or business profile. I opted for a personnel page. As a new author I wanted to be proactive in reaching out to other people and have them get to know me. You have to use your personal profile to do so.

Business writer artist author Pixabay

Link your account to your website, and any other media sites you have created. Having multiple platforms generates more visibility for your work. More sites! –  I hear you cry, I know, It’s hard work. Take it one step at a time and breathe. It’s taken me a couple of years to get to this point. I’m still learning and growing. So can you.

Google+ is an excellent site for meeting up with likeminded individuals. Choose relevant interests and community groups. I’ve joined communities like; Writers blogs, Creative writing and Book reviews. Tip: Select a few and concentrate on them, don’t spread yourself too thin. It’s easy to get carried away and hard to maintain.

photo credit: @brockuniversity Social Media via photopin (license)
photo credit: @brockuniversity Social Media via photopin (license)
Unlike other social media, Google+ has the advantage of creating circles. Your circles could contain containing authors, editors or publishers.  Reach out and connect with your circles, formatting posts that connect specifically with them in mind. They in turn, will link you to their circles, helping you to grow.

Like all media keep posts relevant, with good content and on a regular basis. Get to know your connections and have fun. The advantage of Google+ is there is no maximum content. You can submit a chapter of your novel to be reviewed or post book reviews. It’s an intelligent platform with a host of feature just begging to be put to good use.

Google+ Hangouts is a free online video chat that can include up to 10 people. Just think of the possibilities this opens up, book readings and meeting your readers.

Why not follow me on Google+ https://plus.google.com/u/2/+LorraineAmbers

Tell me about your Google+ experience, share some great tips, I love to here from you.

©Lorraine Ambers 2017

So You Wanna Chase A Dream?: 10 To-Do’s From A Sociopath

Chasing dreams and how to maintain your goal from a fellow blogger who made me laugh out load. #hilarious

Eye of the Writer

Dear World

Please Kill Me,

Greetings and happy, {Insert Future Here}- how goes it? Should the typhoons of Nebula have thoroughly washed over you – then HAZAH! The LSD that I’ve slipped into your morning coffee has taken effect. You should all now be primped and primed for more ramblings from a guy, who should be wearing a straitjacket, while knee-deep in foil hats, (-howling sensually at the moon #TooMuchCoffee #SoSoGood).

Anyway, for those of you accustomed to my shenanigans, you’ve seen the title, (and have likely/wisely run for the hills #StillOnAcid). But, for you newer awesome’s – every once in a while, I get a nag in my sack, (#YesTHATSack), to drop a list of useful tidbits, that don’t necessarily fit into the mold of my daily jargon. They are irreverent,  psychotic (thus the title), and I’ve been told they’re funny, (but I MEAN EVERY WORD! #SoSerious)-

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