Monday, January 13, 2014

Author Award: I Thirst

One of Rivershore's authors was recently awarded "Best Prologue"! Congratulations to Gina Marinello-Sweeney, author of I Thirst!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Book Review: Traitor's Knife

My perspective on this book is that of a reader who hasn’t read the first in the series. Naturally, some of my opinions will reflect that. It took a few chapters, for instance, for me to become invested in the story, but the characters slowly grew on me and by the middle I loved them.

This is decidedly a sequel, so I’m sure reading Jeweler’s Apprentice would increase the enjoyment of the first couple chapters. Still, by the ending, this stood on its own as a complete story, while leaving the reader wanting more. The third book in the series isn’t out yet, but I’m looking forward to reading it when it is.

Throughout the book, there were typos and grammatical errors, and some cliché phrases. Most didn’t affect the smooth reading, but as an editor they’re also difficult to skim over. But while errors and trite wording can sometimes be distracting, the characters and plot are what ultimately decide a book’s worth—and Traitor’s Knife has both.

As implied above, Kaiser assumes the reader already knows Fia and many other characters—as should be expected in any sequel. Since this was my first introduction to them, it took me a few chapters to learn who they were and begin to care about them.

Normally, that would be too far into the book. In my opinion, the first or second chapter should be enough for the reader to become emotionally vested in at least the main character. Some readers might quit reading if it’s longer. For a sequel, however, I believe this is acceptable—and by the end I was completely concerned about the characters’ fates.

The author uses a somewhat limited third person point of view throughout the novel, mainly focusing on Fia, but sometimes moves to the perspective of other characters. This usually worked, though there were a few times the perspective changed suddenly and it became slightly confusing. This interrupted the flow of reading, but only for a moment.

The characters are likable, evoke sympathy, and are realistic. That is possibly the highest compliment I can give an author, since in my mind that is the goal of character development, and I’m a reader who prefers character-driven plots. The “bad” characters aren’t completely evil, and the “good” characters aren’t without faults of their own. The book strikes an excellent balance and reflects the real world in their complexities.
There is a lot of wonderful description throughout the book, and it places the reader right into the scene. There were times when perhaps some of it could have been pared down, but for the most part it added to the book. It also taught the reader (at least, this reader) something new. I feel I know more about how horses behave now that I’ve read this, understand the day-to-day life of a jeweler’s apprentice, and have a good idea of how to cast jewelry.

Fia, Willex, Ilido, and sweet, little Yori are characters that will stay with me. The plot moves forward at a good pace, and there are some gems within the wording—parts I would have highlighted if I’d been reading a print version of the book. This is a great story. Readers who enjoy historical fiction will delight in the fictional world Kaiser so clearly paints.

Although I haven’t read Jeweler’s Apprentice, I would recommend reading that book first to get the most out of this one. If it’s anything like Traitor’s Knife, you won’t be disappointed.

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for this unbiased review.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Author Interview: Kendra E. Ardnek

Today we have an interview with author Kendra E. Ardnek.

What are the names of your books?
Sew, It's a Quest (Bookania Quests Book 1)Do You Take This Quest? (Book 2)Saffron's Big Plan and other storiesThe Ankulen
Can you give a short summary of your books?
Sew: A pair of royal twins seek the Fairy Godmother who mixed up their gifts at their christening. 
Take: The quest for allies, and a mad dash to get home for the wedding. 
Saffron: A collection of four short stories. 
“Saffron's Big Plan,” the story of two princesses who never fit in with their families.
“Tears, Frogs, and Laughter” A tailor's son falls in love with a cursed princess, then gets turned into a frog. 
“The Derao” a story of knights, princesses, daring do, and forgiveness. 
“The Prior Quest” The back story of a minor character in Sew, It's a Quest. 
The Ankulen: The story of a girl who lost her imagination at the age of seven. Fifteen years later, one of her imaginary friends appears out of nowhere and helps her get it back.
What genre are your books?
Fantasy, mostly fairy tale retellings, and Christian allegory
Who is your books' audience?
The Bookania Quests and the short stories are targeted at preteen girls, but I'm told that they also makes a great read aloud for a younger audience. The Ankulen is more YA, but is again, still suitable for younger audiences.
What first inspired your books?
Fairy Tale rewritings have always been favorites with me, so when my mom suggested that I write some myself a few years ago, I decided that it was a good idea. Unfortunately, my Sleeping Beauty sequel was going nowhere fast until one day, whilst folding laundry, I had the random idea of a girl who, due to a Fairy Godmother mistake, was the best swordsman in the world. I instantly had a name, appearance, and backstory for her, and she then took over the book.
The Ankulen came about one bright sunshiney day when I was outside playing with my younger cousin, and we decided that it was high time we put on another play (we both love drama) and an early version of The Ankulen is what came out. Unfortunately, we could never decide on an end, so it fizzled away and was basically forgotten. The idea intrigued me, and would never actually go away, so after making a few minor changes to a few of the characters, I sat down and started writing it in story format, and within a few months I had a nice little story.
How long have you been writing, and why did you start?
Seriously writing? About eight years.
I have been making up stories since I understood the concept, and as soon as I had mastered writing, my mom tried to get me to tap those stories into words. (In fact, I have two of the construction paper-bound books just a few feet away from me as I type.) Unfortunately, while I liked the idea of having my stories written down, it'd take so long, I'd get bored of it and abandon it halfway through. I didn't begin writing seriously until shortly after the The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe movie came out and some friends and I decided that it would be a lot of fun if we made our own movie. Due to budget and cast limitations, we knew that we would have to make a lot of changes, and since I was the oldest and most adamant about the plot, I was elected to write the script. That thing became my baby and I rewrote it three times (each time it resembled Narnia less and less) until I decided to switch it to book form. It still needs another rewrite or two (and a prequel, since I've made it the second book in its series) but I do plan to publish it someday.
Where do you write most often?
About 75% of the time, I write on my laptop at my school desk, though I sometimes take it into my bedroom and work at one of the four desks that I have stashed in there or on my bed. The rest of the time I write in notebooks wherever I happen to be at the moment. (These are the days I'm either babysitting or roaming town.)
What are your ‘author quirks’?
Whenever I'm writing or plotting a really exciting scene, I will suddenly jump up from my computer and run out the door and around our yard a few times. My family affectionately calls these my “outbursts.”
What advice do you have for other authors?
Don't be afraid of the possibility that your idea has been written before, because it probably has been. However, it's never been written before by you, so it's going to be different. (But if you do run across a book with a similar premise, do read it and make sure that they aren't too much alike.)
What do you do when you lack motivation?
I usually bury my nose in a book, pull out my knitting needles or crochet hook, go for a hike in the woods, clean my room, become very interested in my schoolwork …basically anything that doesn't involve my writing. The whole time, however, I feel very guilty because my poor character is left dangling off the side of the cliff and I have no idea how to get her off.
What do you most want your readers to know?
I'd like them to know that, no matter how crazy their lives are, there's someone in control, and if they'll just turn to him, they don't have to worry and fret. In both my Bookania Quests and in The Ankulen, I compare God to an author. He knows what good will come of whatever trial you're going through, whether its for your benefit or for that of your observers. We just have to trust him.
Forgiveness is another theme I deal with a lot.
And finally, where can we find your books?
All of my books are available on Amazon. I have a neatly organized list of links and previews here:
 Thanks, Kendra!