Friday, 27 April 2018

Character Interview with Rhianwyn from "Wildcat" by JP Harker

We had the pleasure to be able to interview the main character from "Wildcat" by author JP Harker.

Character Interview with Rhianwyn, daughter of Carradan from “Wildcat'

  1. Tell us a little about yourself? Where do you come from?
My name is Rhia, I am the third eldest child of Carradan, the High Chieftain of the Caderyn. I enjoy riding, swimming, fighting for my tribe and being… intimate with my betrothed, Bevan (not that we’ve gone too far or anything, the druids wouldn’t approve, but with the wedding coming soon it’s hard to keep restrained!). I come Bryngarth which is in Caderyn land, on the island that the Gaians now call Daeria.

  1. Tell us a little about your home, what are your feelings towards home?
My home is at Bryngarth, in the heart of the open plains and rolling hills of Caderyn territory. It is a beautiful place, though after the wedding we will likely move to Bevan’s home on the coast. I don’t really mind, I’ll miss my family but the coast is always being raided by Ierryn’s black ships so I won’t get bored.

  1. What motivates you along your journey?
Probably loyalty. My family are everything to me, followed closely by the tribe of course. I would love to continue to be a warrior for them but that may have wait a while. Bevan and I wish to have children, and until they are grown enough to take care of themselves I shall have to make them my priority. But I can’t wait until they’re old enough to take to battle with me!

  1. How do you see yourself/ how do you see yourself in relation to the rest of the world?
I see myself as a fighter, a daughter, and hopefully soon a wife and mother. I would say I know my rightful place in the world – it’s wherever my family and people need me the most. As far as everyone else is concerned, if they are not Caderyn then they’re either an enemy or a future enemy.

  1. What is most important to you in this world?
Home. Home and the people in it matter more than anything else. In all honesty, I am guilty of chasing glory for myself sometimes, but glory for me is glory to the tribe and to my father, so I don’t think it’s all that selfish.

  1. What characteristics do you consider important in a person? What kind of people do you try to surround yourself with?
Before anything else a person must be brave and dedicated. Someone can be the cleverest and friendliest, even the kindest and most loving person in the world, but if they lack courage and loyalty then I have no time for them. I like to have people around me who enjoy a good fight, a good feast and a good song, but they must have integrity as well.

  1. What do you see for yourself in the future? Where will you be? What kind of person do you want to become?
In the near future I will be a wife and then, with Marna’s blessing, a mother, likely living in Mobryn with Bevan and his family. If I can be as good a parent as my own mother has been I will count myself fortunate.

You can purchase a copy of Wildcat through here and if you want to know more about Harker's work you can visit his website here.

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Book Review: Callie's Revolution: The Audacious Adventures of a Woman on the Run by Tony Chiodo

Callie’s Revolution tells the story of young Callie Masterson, an aspiring journalist who follows an American troop into Mexico in chase of Poncho Villa, but what she finds is more than she bargained for. Expecting to see and report on the Mexican revolution she soon discovers that the true revolution lies within her.

The first half of the novel was very well paced with tight dialogue, which is a style I enjoy. I found Callie to be wild and perhaps a bit unbelievable. Everything seemed to be too well done, as she seemed to be great at everything and everyone loved her. But this definitely worked to her advantage, and to the advantage of the story. I had a difficult time, at first, reconciling what I know of 1916 to what was being presented in the novel. I’ll be honest and say most of my knowledge of the time period is mostly European with the war well underway, and being Canadian I did not know much of what was going on in the southern States. It was refreshing to read something new, and even more refreshing to not feel the need to confirm the research completed by the author. It’s a bad habit of mine, so I’m thankful the dialogue and story carried me away enough to forget about fact-checking.

The second half, however, felt quite slow. I felt that everything had wrapped up nicely and took me a while to adjust to the new pace of the plot. But now at the end of it, I recognize that the pacing was directly linked with Callie’s own life. It’s her time in Mexico that while she loved it, she was at a stand-still. Nothing was happening and she was becoming restless as I was with the pace. Once she found her new adventure the plot picked up once more until the end.

Without a spoiler, I’m somewhat disappointed with the ending, more about who she ended up with. Of course, the romantic in me was pleased but at the same time I wished the author had taken a bit more of a risk and left it the way we thought it would be. (It’s hard to talk about without spoiling it!)

Overall, I thought this was a well written novel with an interesting and well-rounded main character set in a wild and uncertain time. It was thrilling yet at the same time relevant to anyone seeking their true purpose in life.

Friday, 20 April 2018

Book Review: The Return of the King by J. R. R. Tolkien

I always find it somewhat difficult to review a novel that is so well known, even worse a novel that I have seen the movie for first...and even worse a novel that my husband has all the information about. He knows it all.

In The Return of the King we see the Lord of the Rings come to a close, and technically the novel itself is one with six “books” within it, so this review will be on books five and six: The Return of the King, and The End of the Third Age combined. In The Return of the King the plot follows two thirds of the fellowship: Pippin and Gandalf; and Merry, Gimli, Legolas, and Aragorn. Pippin and Gandalf make their way into Gondor and there help defend the city of Minas Tirith until the final battle. The rest travel through Rohan before moving into Gondor to aid in the battle at Minas Tirith before moving onto Mordor.

One thing that stood out to me was the way in which I read the novel. Had this novel been published today, I would have been much more critical of it in terms of style and unnecessary scenes. But knowing it was written in a different time, that makes a big difference. This novel was the culmination of everything in Middle-Earth, it seemed, everything coming to a head. The war to end the age. Of course, Tolkien lived through both World Wars, and that is very apparent in his writing. That may be what made this novel so much richer than the previous ones. With the true battle on the horizon, everyone’s true characters were shown. Tolkien did not put much emphasis on character development, but it’s clear the character he chose for this story were the ones meant to be on this journey. Everyone played their part, which cannot always be said in novels. Were there scenes that could be cut? Definitely. But I think the simple scenes, such as Pippin when he first arrives in Minas Tirith and he’s spending time with Beglerond, those showed the reality of a city before a siege. They all know what’s coming, but it was the waiting that Tolkien showed.

On the road we have Aragorn and the rest of his companions making their way to Gondor. Unlike the movie, Aragorn is ready to take the crown and defend his kingdom. This is the novel where I feel his character truly shows himself. He is strong and kingly. He has a heart for the people and is ready to take on the responsibility and use what he can in the coming battle. He does not flinch upon entering the Path of the Dead, as he has no need to. It is his birthright, the ability to walk along that road with no fear. While they make their way, the rest of the Rohirrim travel to Gondor and when they finally arrive I have to admit that it nearly brought tears to my eyes. The scene where the Rohirrim crest the hill, horns blowing to announce their arrival, it was probably one of the best written scenes in the entire novel.

As a quick note, I loved that Tolkien added in small descriptions of how the cultures and languages differed from each other. I noted this specifically when Pippin is being toured around Minas Tirith and the bell was ringing three hours past sunrise. He commented to himself that in the Shire they call it nine o’clock instead. It’s these small details that make the world come to life.

The End of the Third Age flips to the rest of the fellowship, Sam and Frodo the ring-bearer. We’ve already seen the love and devotion Sam has for his master, but as with all other points of the story, this comes to a head finally. It’s a type of love we do not see in modern novels, or even in society on the whole. Even when they return to the Shire (spoiler!) Sam is torn between marrying Rosie and moving in with Frodo. That’s some deep devotion right there.

If we can talk about character development, perhaps those with the most amount were Merry and Pippin. When they return to a ravaged Shire, they immediately step up. Yes, they were always a bit precocious and head-strong but they had now seen battle. They had faced true evil and defeated it. Again, Tolkien placed the best people for the job into the story. I say that, because he had created the world before the characters, but the characters had already been there.

While I can say that modern epic fantasy is not generally my cup of tea, I thoroughly enjoyed these two “books.” I find it awkward to read this style now, mostly because it’s almost not needed in our current times. Tolkien wrote this coming out of the war, so all of the elements within the story were so relevant. When I read this style now it sounds awkward in their attempt to sound like Tolkien. With that being said, this is a timeless novel that generations from now, in war or in peace, can appreciate. And perhaps while we’re living in this unsettled world we can remember Gandalf’s words of wisdom:

“It is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields hat we know so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule.”

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Guest post by Andrew Joyce for "Bedtime Stories for Grown-ups"

Hello, my name is Andrew Joyce and I’m here today to try to sell a few books.

I have a new book out entitled Bedtime Stories for Grown-Ups. It is a collection of short stories I’ve written over the years. Inside Bedtime Stories you’ll find tales of fiction and nonfiction. There are all sorts of genres within its pages, from westerns to detective stories to love stories and just about anything else that you can imagine. One of my stories—included in the book—was granted the honor of being included in a print anthology entitled The Best of 2011. Some of the stories are dark and some are lighthearted, but I hope you’ll find them all captivating.
There’s a whole lotta material in the volume—700 pages; enough to make sure you get your money’s worth … and enough to keep you reading for the foreseeable future.
Anyway, here’s one of the shorter stories from the book.

Bedtime Stories for Grown-Ups by [Joyce, Andrew]

Good-Bye Miami

For the first time in my life, I’m in love. And I think she feels the same about me. That’s the good news. The bad news is that we may have to break up … sort of. Shit happens. Allow me to explain.
Her name is Jill; we met early on a Sunday morning. I was jogging along the beach at the water’s edge one minute, and the next I was splayed out in the sand. I had tripped over a woman’s recumbent body.
After the requisite apologies, we started talking. One thing led to another and we ended up having lunch together. That was eight months ago and we’ve barely been out of each other’s sight since.
Today is another Sunday much like the one when Jill and I met, but things are a little different now.
I’m an FBI agent assigned to the Miami Field Office. I was awakened at five o’clock this morning by an urgent phone call to report in immediately. There was a terrorist threat. Hell, this was the granddaddy of all threats. At 4:00 a.m., a local television station received a call stating that there was a nuclear bomb planted within the city, and at exactly 4:00 p.m., it would be detonated unless certain demands were met. The caller said there was a package sitting in the parking lot of the North Miami office of the FBI that would authenticate the threat.
It turned out to be a small nuclear bomb, which is also known as a suitcase bomb. An attached note informed us it was exactly like the one planted in downtown Miami. It also stated that if there was any effort to evacuate the populace, the bomb would definitely go off the instant word hit the media.
Every law enforcement officer—city, state, and federal—was called in. We were given gadgets that register radiation, and all personnel were assigned grids. Each person would drive his or her grid. If the meter went off, a team would be dispatched with equipment to pinpoint the emanations. Then the eggheads would dismantle the bomb.
That was the plan.
We were ordered to tell no one of the threat, but there were many surreptitious phone calls made that morning, telling family members to drive to West Palm Beach for the day. I made my own call, telling Jill that I had planned a romantic day for the two of us and asked if she would meet me in Boca Raton. I gave her the name of the hotel where I had made a reservation before calling her, and said I’d be there in the early afternoon. She readily agreed, and now I know that she is safe.
So here it is nearing four o’clock and we’ll soon see if it was a hoax or not. The clock on the dashboard reads 3:59 … 4:00 … 4:01 ... 4:02. Nothing! I’ll be damned, the whole thing was a ...

You can purchase "Bedtime Stories for Grown-Ups" here. To learn more about author Andrew Joyce, you can see his website here.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Interview with author of "Wildcat" JP Harker

Here is out interview with JP Harker, author of 'Wildcat' which is Book 1 of the Caledon Saga

Interview with author of 'Wildcat' JP Harker

  • What is your favourite genre to write? Why?

My genre of choice is Fantasy, though I’ve branched out into some Urban Fantasy/Spy stuff. I’m always tempted to do Historical Fiction and probably will at some point, but for now I like the freedom of being able to invent my own history (and if I want to throw some magic in, I can!).

  • What does your writing process look like? Did it take you a while to develop?

My process is pretty simple; I make an outline of bullet points based around Start, Middle and End, fill it in until the whole thing looks overcrowded, then split that single document up into chapter documents. I then flesh those out with more detailed bullet points until they look complete. Then I turn those bullet points into prose (this makes me seem very organised but in practice this gets a lot more chaotic as I keep making changes at each stage!)

  • What does you editing process look like? Do you allow others to read your writing?
I’d get nowhere if I didn’t let other people read my stuff – too many times I’ve gone through something with what I was sure was a fine tooth comb and then a proof-reader has given me pages of mistakes to resolve. I read through everything at least a couple of times before handing it to someone else but you really do need that external feedback.
  • Have you ever felt like quitting writing? If so how did you overcome those feelings?

More than once – when books don’t sell or someone actively dislikes something I’ve written I get discouraged, and a few times I’ve thought ‘what’s the point of spending all these hours writing if no-one wants to read it?’.
It sounds trite but I think it was Tolkien who said that he writes for himself, not for other people. You just have to stroke that ego and remind yourself that so long as you enjoy what you write (and you’re not relying on book sales to live of course) than that’s all that matters – keep at it.

  • How do you keep motivated to finish a writing project?

Sheer stubbornness!

  • Have you ever written something you didn’t like, but felt necessary for the overall story?

Oh yes! I recently killed off a character I loved but who had to go for the story to progress. I think if you want the reader to be emotionally invested you have to be invested yourself, and I remember feeling that terrible mix of; ‘they’ll go mad for this!’ and ‘why are you doing this!?’

  • What would be your advice for aspiring authors?

Creativity plays a distant second fiddle to perseverance. You can be as imaginative as you want, but it’s hard work that gets things done.

  • Is there anything you wish you knew before you became an author?

See above!

You can purchase a copy of Wildcat through here and if you want to know more about Harker's work you can visit his website here.