Review: Sabotage in the Sundered Sky

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This is my third review for a different Ultimate Ending book which is a relatively new line of CYOA (choose your own adventure) books. I thought it had some pros and cons compared to the other titles (the first book I read in the series is still my favorite.)

Continue reading Review: Sabotage in the Sundered Sky

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Review: Song of the Dark Crystal

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The Song of the Dark Crystal picks up where book 1 (Shadows of the Dark Crystal) leaves off: Naia and Kylan are traveling with Tavra and finally find Riann as they pursue a few goals, each in an effort to warn their kind of the Skeksis’ betrayal.  As with the book before it, the reading level closely matches the audience of Henson’s original film placing the book somewhere on the upper MG and lower YA spectrum.  Keeping that in mind, Lee writes masterfully and really drew me back into an earlier time when I was a young teen book enthusiast. His pacing, style, and the themes in the lives of the traveling companions threw me right into the grips of nostalgia. His story is on point—especially beginning about a third of the way through the book when I could no longer put it down, and I hadn’t read an honest-to-goodness page-turner in several months (I try to read a book a week, so that’s saying something.) Continue reading Review: Song of the Dark Crystal

Review: The Book of Ralph

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I was pretty torn when requested to read “The Book of Ralph” for my review blog. I’m rather glad I said yes. There are some genuinely funny moments that jump off the page… not funny “ha ha” but satire humor that puts its finger on some human nature elements and make you laugh while saying, “yup… we’re all gonna die.” Especially in our current culture.

The hook and premise are interesting and the Diet Coke on the moon setup was great (#occupycoke and the North Koreans try to nuke the moon.) It might be more accurate than we’d care to admit.

With spoofs as clever as The Simpsons or Futurama, Christopher Steinsvold walks a careful path that will either get him sued (probably by someone named Kardashian) or propel his book to Hitchhiker’s Guide status (which it certainly seems to have elements of homage within.) Continue reading Review: The Book of Ralph

Review: Caligation

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Brhi Stokes’s Caligation uses a common trope that one of my all-time favorite fiction series uses: suddenly waking up in different reality. It immediately made me think of Ted Dekker’s Circle Trilogy (Black, the first book, is in my top 5 reads). Of course, poor Ripley doesn’t have the luxury of returning to the real world every time he sleeps. He awakens in some kind of alternate reality and things keep going from bad to worse as he tries to make sense of it all. Continue reading Review: Caligation

Review: The Scent of Rain

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Anne Montgomery’s The Scent of Rain is an all-too real story that chronicles the border-line Handmaid’s Tale that many young girls endure on the fringe elements of the LDS church.

Her characters are believable and relatable. From their initial introduction you can’t help but like Rose and Adan who are thrust together due to elements of their lives spinning out of control—but both desperately in search of escape and meet each other while doing just that.

While the book doesn’t dwell excessively on the details of the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints church (the super-cringy cult one that marries off young girls to crusty old polygamists) it does bring up some of the issues regarding it within the context of the story. The truth doesn’t distract from the narrative and certainly lends to the villainy of the bad guys and pulls the reader into the POV of Rose and the societal dangers that she faces.

I don’t read much outside of my preferred genres, but this was one that interested me and struck a chord… and that was before I’d seen any of the Handmaid’s Tale.  It reminded me also a little bit of Electrick Children in all the right ways. It’s more than a coming of age story—for Rose and Adan, it’s a coming to life story.

While I got this book for free in exchange for an honest review I highly recommend the book. You can get a copy by clicking here.

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Mary Hallberg’s State of Emergency gets characterization down right. It feels a lot like a meme I once read about playing D&D (the one with what we think it’ll be like and a pic of heroes from Lord of the Rings compared to what it’s really like: the cast from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.) State of Emergency is a far cry from Walking Dead, and that’s a good thing. There are way too many clones out there and this is a breath of fresh air in the zombie genre.

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While Dallas fighting off zombies with a pizza cutter might sound like we’re headed in straight-up Shaun of the Dead territory, it’s not quite an overt comedy, but it has its moments. Maybe I’d call it a blend of Walking Dead and Scott Burtness’s Monsters in the Midwest series.

The book is peppered with fun references if you’re a fan of the genre. Then again, maybe it’s just me, but there seem to be seamless little Easter eggs hidden though the book as nods to other great zombie and undead stories, (like how Dallas calls Ashleigh, Ash and Dallas’s name seems to draw from Zombieland’s nomenclature.)

It is a fun read and not nearly as heavy as I am Legends or the like—and though it has a teenage protagonist it didn’t feel as angsty and whiny as most YA stories have trended in recent years… I appreciated that.

If you’re up for a Halloween read this fall, consider picking up a copy. I got mine for free in exchange for an honest review. You can get it by clicking here.

Review: Blockbuster Branding

51FeDin6ifLI don’t read lots of nonfiction, but I’ve been in a learning mood lately. Blockbuster Branding by Faith Faith has a few points to offer retailers and authors. Particularly in the aspect of naming your product, service, or book. While the book delves into a diet-version of the psychology it seems to spend a great amount of time trying to convince me to buy other products or services for brand marketing.

I got this book when it was free during a promo/free download period and agreed to review it for my blog at the author’s request. I’ve lately been reading up lots on branding and marketing, click funnels and sales/email automation in particular. Everything about this book felt like the author was trying to sell me on some other product or service (much like a click funnel or squeeze page might do to coerce the next step in a sale.) Maybe it’s how people write for sales, but it bothered me since this is a nonfiction book/how-to and I felt like there was more to the strategies… and I’d get it if I just buy the next book.

That’s not to say that there’s not information in the book. A lot of it is very basic (like naming strategies, phonetics, etc. But everyone needs to start at square one and it helps not to make an assumption that people have a basic understanding of branding/marketing.

Perhaps the strongest part of the book are the examples Faith uses to demonstrate marketing and branding techniques she is referring to. While this wasn’t a book that rocked my world, it might prove revelatory to someone relatively new to the business world or cutthroat world of street-level marketing and proves especially relevant to authors writing nonfiction (especially if you haven’t quite launched the book or brand just yet.)

You can check it out by clicking here and seeing if it’s the right type of book for you.

Review: Ride the Star Wind

rideI’ve always been a little skeptical of anthologies. I did a convention this week and my table mate sold out of his anthology while I nearly sold out of mine. With the quality of production and content on the rise, it’s easy to see how anthologies like Ride the Star Wind are changing opinions.

Ride the Star Wind is definitely the best anthology I’ve reviewed (and I’m very picky with anthologies over here at Inside the Inkwell.) I don’t say that lightly. I haven’t yet read every story, but that’s because I’m savoring it. These guys at Broken Eye Books nailed everything about the Lovecraftian mythos and it feels amazing.

I was a little concerned at first when I saw a preview of the cover art. A lot of great popmetal and metalcore bands were doing art like this (it’s almost a nu-ratfink) ten years ago and it exploded. The problem was that so many artists were merely doing copycat pieces to make a few bucks without really embracing the weirdness of it. By this I mean that it fits a certain mold and when you look at it up close it loses something. But not this one. This art is amazing! Everything on the cover is spot-on (I recommend getting the paperback for sure, everything from the finish and feel of the book to the fonts and color.) Seriously, I’d hang this as a poster in my mancave next to my Imax floor to ceiling Logan movie poster. The interior illustrations are also right on the money, even in black and white and the little touches like the Elder Sign paragraph breaks and the story title blocks preserves the feel of the book.

As far as stories and content, the feel is awesome. There are good stories in here! (I’m not going into specifics because it is an anthology and it will vary from piece to piece.) H.P. Lovecraft didn’t write novels; a huge swath of his work was limited in word count and wouldn’t even be considered a novelette. That said, those who really know Lovecraft will feel like this book is a big heaping pile of authentic cosmic horror, and in all the best ways possible.

I know the paperback looks a little expensive if you’ve bought anthologies before—but don’t let that fool you… this isn’t like others. It’s roughly two and a half times the size of the last antho I picked up, so you’re getting at least an equal value on it (and this comes from a guy who hates spending more than twenty bucks on a book.)

I did receive my copy for free in exchange for an honest review. You’ll have to pay for yours, but if you’re into the genre, I have a feeling that you won’t regret it. You can check it out by clicking here!

the Indie Author’s Bible

So I accidentally published my Tuesday review on a Monday by mistake. I guess I’m all over the map this week–so why not throw in an extra post?

My how-to/DIY guide for Indie authors is finally out–pick up a copy today!

“I’m writing a novel… what are the steps?”
“My masterpiece is finished—where do I go now?”
“My fantasy series doesn’t fit in with any mainstream publisher—how do I self-publish and do it right?”
These are the sorts of questions we answer, and more!

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You wrote a book and need help breaking in? Need to know more about Indie and Traditional publishing models? Want a guided process to get your seeing your book in print?
This is the book for you!

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This book will show you how to get your manuscript independently published at zero cost, provided you can do the hard work required–you can be as successful as you want to be. This book cover topics such us:Step by step roadmap to getting in print

  • •How to get your book into Audible
    •How to spot predatory publishers/services
    •How to format your interior copy
    •Where to get free art for covers
    •How to get carried on bookstore shelves
    •Wasteful practices to avoid
    •Guide to meeting professional standards
    •How to create ebook & paperback coupons
    •The importance of reviews
    •Best practices for self-editing
    •And so much more…

The Indie world is a jungle and there are few well-beaten paths—and unlike you’d expect, even some of those well-beaten paths end in spike pits, too. If you want to navigate it safely, you might find a guide… like this book. This is a practical book with step-by-step advice to guide any writer through becoming an Indie author. It also covers some of the “why” aspects and peeks beneath the scenes showing failures, successes, inside information, and encouragement for the ultimate do-it-yourselfer.

GET YOUR COPY FROM AMAZON

Review: Kinglet

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I didn’t know anything about Donna Migliaccio (or her publisher, Fiery Seas Publishing) or The Gemeta Stone books that she writes. I stumbled on them quite accidentally while chatting about nonrelated items on a forum over at Absolute Write and Migliaccio was kind enough to send me a review copy for my Inside the Inkwell blog.

Comparatively speaking it felt like a splendid mix of RA Salvatore and Christopher Paolini. Whereas Salvatore can read stylistically like a fantasy version of Stephen King (for all the pros and cons there) Paolini can sometimes keep on point and keep it short—perhaps to a fault. Migliaccio’s writing is a good mix and keeps the story moving nicely but the worldbuilding feels more smooth and established, like Salvatore.

It had some elements that give it a YA feel, but also some that seemed more like it targeted a mainstream market; by that I mean there is a kind of coming of age in the characters as they discover their inner strengths and overcome Daazna (who is a real jerk—so that’s a good bit of characterization by the author.) That said, general lovers of fantasy would be a good fit for Kinglet and the upcoming sequel in the Gemeta Stone series.

Click here to get a copy of Kinglet for yourself!