Awesome Indies: Dakiti by EJ Fisch

Awesome Indie header

For more information, check out the Awesome Indies page

Awesome Indies: Dakiti by EJ FischDakiti by E.J. Fisch
Series: Ziva Payvan #1
Published by Transcendence on My 29th, 2014
Genres: Sci Fi
Pages: 353
Buy on Amazon

The distant world of Haphez is located on the edge of populated space. The planet's native superhuman race is feared and respected by neighboring civilizations. Their military and police forces are unmatched.
Lieutenant Aroska Tarbic is an agent with the revered Haphezian Special Police. HeÂ’s lost a lot in a short period of time; the other members of his squad were killed in a tragic accident, and his younger brother was wrongfully convicted and executed for a crime he didnÂ’t commit. Just when Aroska thinks heÂ’s starting to piece his life back together, heÂ’s assigned to a joint task force with a special operations team. It seems like a unique opportunity, at least until he learns that his new commander is none other than Ziva Payvan, HSPÂ’s finest operativeÂ… and the assassin who killed his brother.
Ziva is good at her job, a business that requires her to ignore her feelings and carry out her missions without question. SheÂ’s confident in her own abilities to complete the assignment, but Aroska is a wildcard. When their team stumbles across a young human during a routine investigation, they soon realize that the situation isn't what it seems. The boy has unwittingly uncovered an age-old plot, one that could put the entire Haphezian race in jeopardy.
Now the lines between friend and foe have become blurred, and no one can be trusted. United by the imminent threat, Ziva and Aroska must set their differences aside in order to save their peopleÂ… and maybe even each other.
All roads lead toÂ… DAKITI

Tell us about your book.

 Dakiti: Ziva Payvan Book 1 was, as you might guess, my first novel. Sure, it’s the first installment in my series, but it was also the first novel-length story I ever completed. I actually wrote the majority of the book during my senior year of high school and finished it in the fall of 2010. Then I set it aside and that was that; back then, I had no intention of ever publishing and wrote primarily for fun. Finally, in about February 2014, I stopped and realized I’d finished Dakiti, its sequel, and was dabbling in the third book, and I had nothing to show for it. So I went back and gave it a massive facelift in preparation for self-publishing (one of the biggest decisions I’ve ever made!) and the rest is history.

The book is sort of space opera/space fantasy with some thriller elements thrown in. The story centers around a superhuman race of characters who work for the primary law enforcement agency on their home planet. Ziva Payvan, my female lead, is a covert operative and assassin who is forced to team up with my male lead, Aroska Tarbic, because he possesses a certain skill set that will help with her current mission. ThereÂ’s just one problem: two years ago, Ziva killed AroskaÂ’s brother.

If this book is part of a series, tell us a little about it.

As I mentioned, this series also has a second and third book, Nexus and Ronan. In Dakiti, the stage is set. Characters and their backstory/relationships are introduced. Facts about the world and the surrounding galaxy are established, albeit fairly briefly. The focus is on the people involved and how theyÂ’re forced to interact. Because of that interaction, Ziva and Aroska end up saving the lives of not only their comrades and teammates but also each other.

Nexus is also very character-driven, but while there are some overlapping background details, the plot is fairly standalone. IÂ’ve had readers mention that itÂ’s possible to read Nexus without having read Dakiti for this reason, and while thatÂ’s true to an extent, I wouldnÂ’t recommend it (granted, IÂ’m somewhat biased, but reading both is important in order to really see the character development). Character flaws and fears are exposed in this story about emotional survival. When Ziva finds herself on the run after being framed for an assassination, she ends up turning to the last person she ever expected to ask for help.

Ronan is still just as character-driven as its predecessors, but all the background details start coming together as well. Elements of Dakiti and Nexus that seemed unrelated are suddenly very related, and questions the reader has had since the beginning are finally answered. The mysteries from Book 1 are combined with the character development from Book 2, and you end up with a story on a much bigger scale and with much higher stakes than either of the other two. Faced with a threat that could change the structure of the entire galaxy, Ziva finds herself torn between protecting herself – and a secret she has killed to keep – or making a personal sacrifice to protect everything she holds dear.

What inspires you?

I draw inspiration from just about anywhere. But overall, I’m a very visual person, so I prefer images or videos where I can see what’s happening. What sci fi author hasn’t drawn at least a little inspiration from things like Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, or Firefly? Pinterest has come in very handy for storing and organizing images that have inspired some of the locations and environments in my stories. I have an “Imagination at Work” board collection, broken down into sub-categories like landscapes, architecture, interior design, sci fi concept art, and even makeup, clothing, and hairstyles. There have been several occasions where I’ll stumble across an image and think, “Yes, that’s perfect, that’s [insert city/planet here].” Occasionally I even draw ideas from my own dreams (which are totally insane, but that’s a completely different story).

I also try to be inspired by everyday events. Elements from a news story about a manhunt or criminal investigation might find their way into a book. Two years ago, I had jury duty, and while it was kind of miserable, that ended up coming in really handy for a courtroom scene in Ronan. If I see a unique street name, IÂ’ll write it down and it will probably become the name of a planet or city. ThereÂ’s definitely no shortage of ideas; I just have to figure out how/when/if to use them.

How do you develop your plots and characters?

The majority of the time, the characters come before the plot. IÂ’ll often have an idea or even a full-fledged concept for a character way ahead of time, and I end up having to figure out ways to incorporate these people into stories. Pinterest once again plays a big role here. I have various character inspiration boards containing different appearance-related elements, and I sort those out and get ideas for the overall character design. For example, I came across a bunch of grungy post-apocalyptic fashions, and then I found a really cool concept for a prosthetic arm, and I decided I wanted a character who dressed like that but had a robot arm thanks to an accident in his past. That character exists now; his name is Taran and he made his first appearance in Ronan.

Characters come to me pretty easily, but plot is harder. Once upon a time, I would just wing it and see what happened, but once I got further into my series, there was enough continuity that I had to be a lot more careful. I don’t really use outlines, at least not huge ones that cover the entire novel, but I do write out extensive notes in which I ask myself questions and come up with multiple answers based on my available options. It’s kind of a slow process – it’s usually a long time before I feel like I’m ready to actually write anything. Once I get started, I can usually move pretty fast. If I have an idea for a scene that doesn’t happen until later, I’ll go ahead and get it written out so I don’t forget it by the time I actually get to it. Then I have a goal, a checkpoint to reach. If I have Part A and Part C, it’s a lot easier to figure out what needs to happen in Part B that it would have been if I had Parts A and B and just tried to move forward blindly.

How much research do you do?

It depends, of course, on what exactly IÂ’m writing. Since my main characters are all agents or operatives on some level, IÂ’ve done a lot of general research on basic firearms terminology, police psychology, mental/emotional resilience, etc., just to help me and my characters not sound like complete fools. IÂ’ve also put all of my main characters through a Myers Briggs test so I can find their MBTI types, learn the reasoning behind those types, and then make sure IÂ’m keeping all of their actions and personalities consistent as I write.

IÂ’ve also had to do more specific research for certain plot points within each book. For example, in Dakiti, my characters perform a HALO jump in order to reach their target, and I had some friends help me figure out all the physics so I could calculate how long the fall would take. In Nexus, I read statements from shooting victims and studied some anatomy to see how a gunshot to the upper abdomen would affect a person internally. In Ronan, I did some rudimentary neuroscience research and contacted one of the professors from my former college with questions (her PhD is in neuroscience). Since my books are soft sci fi, I never worry too much about how things like space travel and laser/plasma weapons actually work, but there are still a lot of smaller-scale details that I want to get right.

Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?

It may sound totally clichéd, but I learned that you can always do better, and that you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help (or accept help when it’s offered). When I finished Dakiti, I was excited because it was so much longer and more complex than anything I’d ever written. But then when I made the decision to publish and went back to look at it, I couldn’t believe how terrible it seemed. I went through it myself a couple of times and fixed it up as best as I could, and then I did what I had always considered the unthinkable: I let my friends read it and asked feedback and suggestions on how to make it even better. Now of course, sending a book out to beta readers is just part of the routine, but at the time, I had never shared my work with anyone and it was absolutely terrifying. But it was absolutely crazy how helpful it was to get opinions from other people who were looking at the story from different perspectives. Things always make more sense in your own head than they do to other people, and once you know what some of those things are, it’s easier to know how to deal with them in the future. No matter how good you think your work is, it’s never quite as good as you think, and there are always ways to make it better.

Even though itÂ’s kind of a basic rule of publishing, it was absolutely amazing how helpful it was to have other people read my story, give me feedback, and then apply that feedback to the actual writing. It improved the story tenfold, and IÂ’ve made more improvements to it since then. Dakiti paved the way for the rest of the series, and if I hadnÂ’t taken that proverbial leap of faith at the beginning, these books might not even exist today. These days, IÂ’m more afraid of not using beta readers than I was of using them originally.

What actors/actresses would you cast in your bookÂ’s movie?

As much as I love trying to fan-cast my characters (I mean, what author doesnÂ’t do this?), IÂ’ve actually struggled a lot with it. Since my characters are all part of this superhuman race, theyÂ’re all a lot taller and more muscular than regular people, and therefore realistic casting is pretty much impossible. So instead of actually acting, I think of it in terms of the movie being completely CGI or something so the actors are just used for motion capture, facial models, and maybe voice. Ziva is described as having kind of severe facial features and always has an intense expression, so IÂ’ve always liked Tricia Helfer or maybe Ali Larter because of their facial structure. Stephen Amell is currently the front runner for Aroska, though IÂ’m not 100% satisfied (and his voice doesnÂ’t work so IÂ’d need someone else for voiceover). I picture a younger and slightly-more-burly Ryan Reynolds (with crazier hair) for Skeet, ZivaÂ’s second-in-command. For Zinni, the third member of ZivaÂ’s squad, I see Kristanna LokenÂ’s face, Leigh LezarkÂ’s hair, and Tina MajorinoÂ’s persona.

I have an entire Pinterest board of all the actors, athletes, musicians, etc. IÂ’ve chosen for pretty much every series character with a speaking part.

What were you like in school?

In high school I was a total nerd. I went to a really small school (~70 students in the high school) – if I were a character in a high school movie, I would have been the shy, quiet kid who gets either ignored completely or picked on constantly. But I think a lot of people were probably afraid of me. I was known for playing volleyball – that was probably the only reason I was ever “popular” – and everyone knew better than to mess with me because they’d seen me knock my opponents down or give them bloody noses or send them back to the bench crying. I was First Team All-State and MVP of the state tournament my senior year, and I still hold the school records for kills per match, blocks per match, and blocks per season (the latter two are the only ones I really care about because blocking is the best). In the classroom, you could often find me doing homework for my other classes because heaven forbid I actually have homework at home. I was that crazy person who got her novel-outlining assignment done in three days during the story development segment of 10th grade English. I was that person who waited to write 10-page reports until two days before they were due but still got As on them. I graduated as co-valedictorian and was terrified of having to make a speech at graduation. While I enjoyed having a modest amount of fame, I was more content just sitting quietly, doing my work, and moving on to other things.

In college, I was that creepy girl who always lurked in the corner of the library in order to avoid talking to anyone except for the few acquaintances from my program. I was the one watching Firefly on Netflix or trying not to snort while reading The Martian. I was the one in the fourth row back (not too far back, but not too close to the front either) who was studiously taking notes during all the lectures. Just kidding…I was actually furiously plotting or writing Ronan. I wrote almost the entire book during my last two terms of school. I was the one who ordered the same thing at the campus Subway so often that the workers all had my sandwich memorized. I was the weird person grinning while using the elliptical in the gym because I was picturing space battles set to the epic instrumental music I was listening to. I graduated cum laude with a BS in IT – Health Informatics and a minor in medical sociology.

Do you have any pets? (Pictures would be great)

[insert attached photo here] These are my fur babies! The striped kitty with only one eye is Jenny. She’s the World’s Sweetest Cat™. I’ve always called her “Dzinny” when I’m loving on her, which is actually where the character name “Zinni” came from (yes, I shamelessly use my pets for writerly gain). My puppy’s name is Mae – she’s about 10 months old and is a lab/Australian shepherd mix (that’s what we were told, anyway – it might be border collie). I have a character named Mae in Ronan and the dog might sorta kinda maybe be named after her. The pastel-colored, angry-looking kitty is Chloe. She’s just weird. I’m convinced she can adjust the colors of her fur to blend in to any environment. She has a deformed tail (it’s basically just a knot) so instead of flicking around when she’s mad, it kinda opens and closes like a lobster claw. But life would be boring without her. She’s my official editing supervisor, and she always makes sure to help me when I’m stuck on a certain sentence…by which I mean she walks on my keyboard and types a bunch of random stuff. They’re a great bunch of critters and I love them.

How can readers discover more about you and your work?

Social media! I’m available on pretty much any platform (Google+, Instagram, even Reddit) but I’m most active on Facebook and Twitter. I’ve started trying to post an update on my website at the beginning of every month, and I keep my blog updated with random writing-related musings or reviews for the books I’ve been reading. My site contains individual pages for each of my books, as well as my WIPs and any collections I’m a part of. There’s also series artwork, a contact form, and an “About” page containing links to past interviews and/or spotlights I’ve participated in.

You can keep up with the latest news on Facebook or Twitter, and I always love chatting with readers or other writers. Feel free to contact me any time. Use one of the social media links below, or you can reach me by email at ejfisch930@gmail.com!

My Website | My Blog | Facebook Page | Facebook Profile

Twitter | Pinterest |  Goodreads  | Amazon Author Page 

Book Links:

Amazon US  •  Amazon UK  •  Amazon Canada  •  Amazon Australia

(books are available in all international markets)

#BHPChat Wrap up

wrap ip

Q1: Introduce yourself & your favorite dessert (because who doesnÂ’t love food?). #BHPChat

 

Q2: (Question: Credit @readwritelove28) Who are your go to people for brainstorming? Feel free to tag.  #BHPChat

These answers are too good to pick just one!

Q3: How often do you change your blog theme? Have you ever? Do you buy or use free ones? #BHPChat

 

Q4: When was the first moment you felt like a true blogger. #BHPChat

 

Q5: Bookish hobbies! Show pics of what youÂ’ve created! (Funkos,Fanart, Candles,Bookmarks, Jewelry. Etc) OR what wish you could do! #BHPChat

 

Q6: What are your favorite posts to write? What do you want to do more of? #BHPChat

 

Q7: Send us links to your last 5 Star rated book review/video! #BHPChat

Check out ALL the great answers!

 

Q8: (Question: Credit @paperbinding) What’s one thing about blogging you wish someone would write a post or tutorial for? #BHPChat

 

Q9: WhatÂ’s a book you have on your shelf (or ereader) that youÂ’re most excited to read! #BHPChat

 

 

Q10: What are some goals youÂ’re still trying to achieve? #BHPChat

GO FOLLOW EVERYONE FROM THE CHAT HERE!

 

ARC Tour: Reliquary by Sarah Fine

ARC Tour: Reliquary by Sarah FineReliquary by Sarah Fine
Series: Reliquary #1
Published by Amazon Digital Services on June 14th, 2016
Genres: Fantasy, romance
Pages: 331
Format: Paperback
Source: Free for Review
Buy on Amazon
five-stars

Mattie Carver’s engagement party should have marked the start of her own personal fairy tale. But when her fiancé, Ben, is violently abducted the next morning, her desperate quest to find him rips her away from small-town life and reveals a shattering truth: magic is real—and Ben is hooked. It’s not the stuff of storybooks. It’s wildly addictive, capable of producing everything from hellish anguish to sensual ecstasy almost beyond human endurance.

Determined to find out who took Ben and why, Mattie immerses herself in a shadowy underworld and comes face-to-face with the darkly alluring Asa Ward, a rogue magic dealer, infamous hustler…and her missing fiancé’s estranged brother. Asa has the power to sense magic, and he realizes Mattie is a reliquary, someone with the rare ability to carry magic within her own body, undetected. Asa agrees to help find Ben on one condition: Mattie must use her uncommon talent to assist his smuggling operations. Now, from magic-laced Vegas casinos to the netherworld clubs of Bangkok, Mattie is on a rescue mission. With Asa by her side, she’ll face not only the supernatural forces arrayed against her but the all-too-human temptation that she fears she can’t resist.

I knew next to nothing about this book when I signed up for the tour. I read that it was adult and there was sex and figured that might turn a few people off. I’m nothing if I don’t want to cheer for the underdog. Often I try to sign up for the less popular tours and I’ve found some of my favorite books that way.

Reliquary is a perfect example of that. I knew that I was going to love this book after the first chapter. This book caught my attention and never let me go once. Every time I had to put it down I thought about it. I was entranced by the magic system and completely captivated by the characters. I typed up all the reasons why I think what I think about Mattie and Ben and Asa and I realized **MAJOR SPOILERS** so just take it from me, the characters are awesome.

This book is DIRTY! Which I really loved, of course. It’s gritty and dangerous and sexy. Now for the surprise. There is zero sex in this book. ZERO. The ability to write a hot romance with no sex is a talent. I’m sure the next books will have some but Reliquary didn’t need it.

For me, Reliquary was a revelation. It is the kind of series that I want to read in a mad rush. I want to know everything about it and more right now. It has created a Sarah Fine fan. I went to GoodReads and added everything she has written to my TBR. Luckily she has 4 other series started for me to tackle while I wait the 9 days for Splinter to release.

ABOUT SARAH FINE:

Sarah FineSarah Fine is a clinical psychologist and the author of the Servants of Fate and Guards of the Shadowlands series. She was born on the West Coast, raised in the Midwest, and is now firmly entrenched on the East Coast.

LINKS: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr

Tour Schedule:

Giveaway:

3 Finished Copies of RELIQUARY (US Only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

five-stars

Review: Ready Player One by Earnest Cline

Review: Ready Player One by Earnest ClineReady Player One by Ernest Cline
Published by Crown Publishers on August 16th 2011
Genres: Action & Adventure, Sci Fi
Pages: 374
Format: Audio
Source: library
Buy on Amazon
four-stars

In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the virtual utopia known as the  OASIS. Wade's devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world's digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator's obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade's going to survive, he'll have to win—and confront the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.

Reading Ready Player One wasn’t 100% my choice. I had heard about Ready Player One, specifically from Penny Arcade (an online webcomic for you non nerds). The review seems to be long gone now (it was in a news post) but I remember it wasn’t all that good. I didn’t pick it up then and I forgot about it for a long time. Some friends were reading it for their book club podcast, The Blind Spot Book Club, and I wanted to be ready for the next show. In a side note, The Blind Spots haven’t posted a new podcast in over a year and I miss them! Maybe mentioning them here on my blog will help get them up and running again.

Any negative feelings or impressions I got about this book were way off. I thought it was hilarious from start to finish. It was a like a love letter to my childhood and reading it was like a stroll down memory lane. It was both familiar and surprising. I listened to the audio book, narrated by Wil Wheaton. I think that there is no better way to read this book. Hearing the story in Wil Wheaton’s quiet, confident cadence is like stepping back to the 80s and wandering in a forest of nostalgia.

Therein lies the only issue with this book. This book is a no holds barred and unapologetic love letter to the 80s. It’s also a beautiful celebration of nerd culture. If you aren’t an 80s child or a nerd, some things may be confusing to you. This book also relies heavily on nostalgia. If arcade video games, John Hughes movies and Rick Astley don’t hold a special place in your heart you may not understand what all the fuss is about. Even if you understand the jokes and revel in the references you may feel pandered to. Parts of this book seem specifically designed to tug the heart strings and there are only so many references an author can make before they feel forced.

All in all, I loved this book. Ready Player One is a quick, fun, hilarious read. However, start this book with a clear picture. It is about video games and all things 80s. If that’s not your thing, steer clear.

four-stars

Awesome Indies: Sixth Prime by Dan O’Brien

Awesome Indie header

For more information, check out the Awesome Indies page

Awesome Indies: Sixth Prime by Dan O’BrienSixth Prime by Dan O'Brien
Published by Amazon Digital Services on July 22nd, 2016
Genres: Dystopian, Sci Fi
Pages: 252
Buy on Amazon

2.3.5.7.11.13.

A war brews as a galaxy struggles to maintain a peace treaty signed in haste. The Commonwealth boasts sprawling cities built upon slums. The Sovereignty has placed the yoke of industry upon its citizens. Sixteen men and women are connected in a way they cannot yet understand. A murder of a prominent artist begins a chain of events that will ultimately determine the fate of the universe.

Only thirteen will remain.

In the end, there can be only one Prime.

Are you a Prime?

I’m happy to introduce Dan today, celebrating the release of his book, Sixth Prime, with a guest post.

Guest Post

When I started writing Sixth Prime, I decided early on to do something very deliberate: I would make half the main characters female; I would make sure the personalities better reflected the myriad of the human experience; and I would describe characters without using skin color or any physical identifiers.

You might be wondering: what exactly is the point of that?

Women represent half the population. 

I would be remiss if I ignored the statistics right in front of me. 82% of readers are female, so why wouldn’t you include female characters when so many readers are women. I don’t mean the traditional roles of queens and romantic interests; I’m talking about adventurers and villains, scientists and soldiers, and everything in between. The goal should be to tell the best possible story. I waited until I had outlined everything, and then randomly assigned characters as men and women (this includes romantic relationships as well, so buckle your seatbelts).

Personality guides behavior and decision-making.

I went to graduate school for psychology, and as such I’ve always had a fascination with why people do what they do. This, naturally, translated into thinking about how I could smuggle personality psychology into a narrative. The Prime saga, beginning with Sixth Prime, is an attempt to do just that. I wanted readers to feel like they were represented by one of the characters in such a way that the decisions and consequences felt more real to them.

The reader should decide how the characters look.  

I know it’s a long shot, but maybe (just maybe) the Prime Saga becomes a movie or limited series. I bring this up because nothing is worse than people arguing how characters should look or the kinds of actors or actresses who should play them. Really, even if an adaptation is not in order, I love the idea of people coming to their own conclusions about how a character should look based on their choices, personality, and behavior. I want the characters to be defined by how they make readers feel; I want a reader to be able to see themselves in the character and as the character.

Here is the working teaser:

2.3.5.7.11.13.

A war brews as a galaxy struggles to maintain a peace treaty signed in haste. The Commonwealth boasts sprawling cities built upon slums. The Sovereignty has placed the yoke of industry upon its citizens. Sixteen men and women are connected in a way they cannot yet understand. A murder of a prominent artist begins a chain of events that will ultimately determine the fate of the universe.

Only thirteen will remain.

In the end, there can be only one Prime.

Are you a Prime?

Interested yet? I sure hope so. If you are, then how about a brief excerpt? Check it out at: http://authordanobrien.com/2016/03/05/preview-of-sixth-prime/

Grab it on Kindle at: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01ENLPOVG

New Partnership in a new adventure

Bloggiesta-Button-2-300x92

New Co-hosts: MC and I!

Suey from All About Books has been hosting Bloggiesta since 2012 and doing an amazing job. She runs a tight ship and has fantastic organization. Unfortunately, all good things have to come to an end. Suey is retiring from hosting to focus on her blog and her family.

That leaves an obvious opening. I think you can see where this is going…. It’s been a long couple of weeks sitting on this news. We have suffered. Suey leaves big shoes to fill and I’m sure that MC and I will make a ton of mistakes. She has said that she’s still available for questions and advice. I just hope that we don’t take advantage of her kindness.

I’ve been participating in Bloggiesta for a year. When I first joined, I stepped out of my comfort zone. I hosted a Mini-Challenge about saying yes and jumping at every opportunity you are offered as a new blogger. Since then, I’ve continued that trend. The best thing to ever come out of my joining Bloggiesta is my friendship with MC from Blame it on the Books. We met during that first Mini-Challenge and we have been friends ever since. We even got a chance to meet in Orlando in June!

MC is an incredible blogger at Blame it on the books. You should go follow her immediately and get to know her.

Blog: Blame it on the books
Twitter: Blamethebooks
IG: Blamethebooks
FB: Blamethebooks

Bloggiesta is a quarterly blogging event focused on motivating you to improve your blog. It’s not only for book bloggers, its for everyone. You can see more at the links below.

Blog: Bloggiesta
Twitter: Bloggiesta
Past Mini Challenges

We have so many ideas! We’ve been talking about it since Suey accepted our application. If we institute half the stuff that we’ve been talking about we will be busy bloggers. We have big plans and lots to do. We definitely need some assistance. If you are interested, let me know if you want to help!

Review: The Fireman by Joe Hill

Review: The Fireman by Joe HillThe Fireman by Joe Hill
Published by William Morrow on May 17th 2016
Genres: horror, Dystopian
Pages: 752
Format: hardcover
Source: Free for Review
Buy on Amazon
five-stars

From the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of NOS4A2 and Heart-Shaped Box comes a chilling novel about a worldwide pandemic of spontaneous combustion that threatens to reduce civilization to ashes and a band of improbable heroes who battle to save it, led by one powerful and enigmatic man known as the Fireman.
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.
Convinced that his do-gooding wife has made him sick, Jakob becomes unhinged, and eventually abandons her as their placid New England community collapses in terror. The chaos gives rise to ruthless Cremation Squads—armed, self-appointed posses roaming the streets and woods to exterminate those who they believe carry the spore. But Harper isn’t as alone as she fears: a mysterious and compelling stranger she briefly met at the hospital, a man in a dirty yellow fire fighter’s jacket, carrying a hooked iron bar, straddles the abyss between insanity and death. Known as The Fireman, he strolls the ruins of New Hampshire, a madman afflicted with Dragonscale who has learned to control the fire within himself, using it as a shield to protect the hunted . . . and as a weapon to avenge the wronged.
In the desperate season to come, as the world burns out of control, Harper must learn the Fireman’s secrets before her life—and that of her unborn child—goes up in smoke.

Locke and Key introduced me to Joe Hill. I’m sorry to admit that I didn’t expect much. The depth and beauty of the story surprised me. Locke and Key is a graphic novel series that touches on deep concepts and weaves horror into a larger story with purpose. Then I read N0S4A2. Not a graphic novel but a traditional horror tale that scared my socks off. With N0S4A2, I realized that I was a Joe Hill fan. Next, Horns and Heart Shaped Box came in at the library. While neither of those resonated with me in the same way, I still enjoyed them. Joe Hill was an author to watch in my mind. After reading The Fireman, I won’t miss another book by Joe Hill.

The Fireman is the perfect combination of my favorite genres. It’s 33% dystopian, 33% horror and 34% awesome. I was trying to describe this book to people after I read it. The best I could come up with is if The Stand and When She Woke were together, The Fireman is the love child of that union. A deadly and unexplainable disease, a weird and corrupt religious system, a mad and uncontrollable mob mentality and woman doing her best for her unborn child makes this analogy complete and my love for The Fireman unending.

I love fiction that reflects the current political and cultural climate. Whether it’s making a statement that I agree with or not, I love books that make me think. While The Fireman is set squarely in a fictional world, I loved the obvious parallels to issues that are affecting our world today. It is scary. It is horror. However, the scariest part for me was how I could see it really happening. If there ever was a terrible plague (maybe not of the self combustion variety) I could definitely see people reacting the way they do in this book. That in itself is horrifying to me.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough.

five-stars

SBPT: Tina from Tina the Bookworm

SBPT2016

 

Hi Everyone! IÂ’m Tina from Tina The Bookworm and today IÂ’m talking to you about how I use my bullet journal for blogging.

I recently started bullet journaling back in April. IÂ’ve always done something similar to a bullet journal because planners just donÂ’t work for me. When I came across Boho Berry on Youtube, I knew immediately that bullet journaling was for me.

For bullet journaling I use a LEUCHTTURM1917 in Emerald. I went with the plain pages but they have the option of grid, dots, lined or plain. I just felt like plain would benefit me the most and it has.

When I first started bullet journaling, i didnÂ’t know how I wanted to set up my bullet journal. I wanted it to be a mix of personal things, blog related and reading related.

Tinabujo
One of the first spreads I did was my reading goals for 2016 and my 2016 Rainbow Book Club reads. This helps me see what IÂ’m aiming towards when it comes to reading. My book club spread is probably my favorite and it also helps me keep every book we plan to read for the year on the spread. This has definitely come in handy when someone forgets what weÂ’ll be reading in the upcoming months.

Tinabujogoals

I have made different spreads that havenÂ’t quite worked out how I wanted them to. I have spreads for every reading challenge I am apart of and I have some for blog posts ideas. The problem with this is that I am either not keeping up with my progress for each challenge and I forget to fill out the actual spread.

My favorite spread is my reading goals tracker. I broke down each goal and made a tracker. It helps me visualize each goal and see how much more I need to do to accomplish that goal. I also may or may not love coloring it in.

Tinabujoprog
I recently started doing a month TBR/books read spread but I find I much rather update my goodreads than my spread. I have found my TBR spread ends up with 30+ books and that ends up stressing me out.

I recently started doing a monthly stat tracker in my bullet journal as well as adding blogging, blog hopping and commenting on my habit tracker and this has helped me so much when it comes to blogging. It shows me the areas I need to improve on.

Tinabujostat
I am almost done with my bullet journal and I am considering making on just for reading/blogging but that is still up in the air at this point.

If youÂ’re thinking of starting a bullet journal, go for it. The bullet journal system is made for you by you. You do what works for you. This is one of the things I personally love about the bullet journal and it gives me a sense of accomplish to see all that I have accomplished every day, week and month.

 

Thank you so much Emily for having me on your blog today.

SST ARC Review: Signs of You

SST ARC Review: Signs of YouSigns of You by Emily France
Published by Soho Teen on July 19th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult, paranormal
Pages: 240
Format: Paperback
Source: ARC tour, Free for Review
Buy on Amazon
three-stars

Since sixteen-year-old Riley Strout lost her mother two years ago, her saving grace has been her quirky little family in the grief support group she joined as a freshman. Jay, Kate, and Noah understand her pain; each lost a loved one, and theyÂ’ve stuck together in spite of their differences, united by tragedies only they understand.
When Riley thinks she spots her mother shopping in a grocery store, she fears she is suffering some sort of post-traumatic stress. Then Jay and Kate report similar experiences. Only Noah hasnÂ’t had some kind of vision, which is perhaps why heÂ’s become so skeptical and distant.
When Noah disappears, Riley fears she’s lost another loved one. As they frantically search for him, she, Kate, and Jay are drawn into the mystery surrounding a relic that belonged to Jay’s dead father and contains clues about the afterlife. Riley finds herself wrestling with her feelings for both Noah and Jay—which have become clear only in Noah’s absence. If Riley is to help those she loves, and herself, she must set things right with the one she’s lost.

I have a bad habit of reading the first sentence or two of a book description and then deciding what the book is about. This works for me 90% of the time. Usually I’m a good predictor and I’m right more often than not. I failed big time with Signs of You

When I first picked this book up, I thought it was a thriller. I was under the wrong impression. This story is not about a girl who sees the mother she thought was dead out shopping. Then the girl doesn’t discover that the mother she thought was dead was actually alive all along. This is not at all what this book is about. This book is not a thriller. And that’s ok! That doesn’t make this book any better or worse, it just means  I was misinformed.

As I was reading this book and desperately backtracking my expectations, I realized I had no idea what this book is. Most books fit into a genre box but I couldn’t place this one. It is almost contemporary, but it has paranormal and magical elements. It’s almost a romance but it not quite. It’s kind of a paranormal story but it’s not 100% that either. With every page of this book I was constantly wondering what was going to happen next. Since the genre of this book is so unexpected it made the plot unpredictable as well.

I really liked how unpredictable and unexpected it was. I really had no idea where this book was going at any point in time. I liked how the book kept me guessing.

At the same time, I didn’t like how the book felt a little scattered. I wanted this book to have a real villain and a conflict but it didn’t. The characters solve a mystery and then everything pretty much ends. The conflict in this book is internal, rather than external and I didn’t enjoy that either.

If you like contemporary novels, you will probably like this book. If you don’t, you might like it anyway.

three-stars

Awesome Indies: Finding the Phoenix by Caitlin O’Connor

Awesome Indie header

For more information, check out the Awesome Indies page

Awesome Indies: Finding the Phoenix by Caitlin O’ConnorFinding the Phoenix by Caitlin O'Connor
Series: The Celestial Talisman #1
Published by Amazon Digital Services on April 12th 2016
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 370
Buy on Amazon

Alternate Cover Edition: B0112H9L5Y
Heaven has no memory of dying, except the experience of death itself. It’s that memory, of a place called ‘The Between’, that convinces her the man claiming to be her Guardian might not be crazy. Besides, even crazy is better than the life she’s leaving behind to be the Circle’s Wielder of Spirit. All she has to worry about now is her training, and figuring out how to fit in with the Awakened.
But the Circle isnÂ’t the haven she thought it might be. The fanatic Handmaidens of the Skaath Diurga are gathering strength and only the Awakened can keep the shadow creatures at bay. When one of the Guardians is killed, ulterior motives thrust Heaven into the middle of the CircleÂ’s quest for justice. SheÂ’ll have to decide just how far sheÂ’ll go for the people sheÂ’s come to care about.
Finding the Phoenix is the first instalment in the Celestial Talisman sequence, an adult Urban Fantasy series featuring dark, psychological themes. If you like multifaceted, compelling characters and unusual settings then this novel is sure to thrill you.
(Please note that this book contains strong language)

What inspires you?

I find itÂ’s often the small things that trigger my imagination. A single line in a song or the wind blowing petals off a rose bush can become a whole world in my head. I look at strangers and wonder what their lives are like, whether theyÂ’re happy or sad, and what choices and experiences molded who they are now.

How do you develop your plots and characters?

Characters tend to spring into my head fully formed, and all I do is figure out what makes them tick. I get far too much joy from doing the psychological research for my characters. My plots, on the other hand, are always very basic to begin with. I pants my way through the first draft then scribble diagrams of my plot points and tighten the story from there.

What were you like in school?

I was the nerdy know-it-all who read a lot, got good marks even though I drew pictures during most of my classes, and could forge almost every one of my classmate’s parent’s signatures. I was also the troubled, loner weirdo who spent a lot of time in detention, hung out with the ‘wrong’ crowd, and chased trouble at every turn.

What book are you reading now?

IÂ’m reading HowlÂ’s Moving Castle by Dianne Wynn Jones to my son (IÂ’m enjoying it as much as he is) and The Trial by Franz Kafka.

Tell us about your book?

Finding the Phoenix is an Urban Fantasy set in South Africa. My main character discovers sheÂ’s the Wielder of the Spirit element, and the only outsider in a centuries old organisation called the Circle. She has to overcome her fears and become a warrior in the CircleÂ’s war against the Handmaidens of the Skaath Diurga, shadow creatures born from an ancient betrayal.

If this book is part of a series, tell us a little about it?

Finding the Phoenix is the first book of The Celestial Talisman series. ItÂ’s very character focused, and eases the reader into both the fantasy world of the Circle and the real world setting. Scar, due for release in July, amps up the action and intrigue, and answers questions you didnÂ’t realise you had from the first book.

Was this book inspired by something in particular?

In a nutshell, it was inspired by my love for my chaotic, messed up country and my dissatisfaction with certain characterizations and tropes in Urban Fantasy.

I loved the idea of writing a South African Urban Fantasy because the crime and corruption make for an almost dystopian setting. It was important to me to have a heroine who wasnÂ’t all about the sex appeal, and to depict a psychologically accurate process of healing from an abusive situation as opposed to the sudden weaponisation one normally reads about.

Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one for your own book/s?

I do have a trailer, which you can view on Youtube

How do you relax?

I go for walks with my son, or we watch movies together. Most evenings I read, or watch the anime, movies, and series my son is too young for. I also enjoy the odd strategy or RPG game.

How can readers discover more about you and your work?

The best way to keep in touch is to follow my blog or subscribe to my mailing list

Website: Inspired Chaos

Blog: Inspired Chaos – Blog

Facebook: Caitlin OÂ’Connor Page

Twitter: @caity_connor

Pinterest: Caitlin OÂ’Connor

Amazon Author Page: Caitlin OÂ’Connor

Booklinks: Amazon.com, Amazon UK, Universal Amazon Link

Goodreads: Finding the Phoenix on Goodreads