Tag Archives: Fiction

No Return by Zachary Jernigan : Review

no-return-by-zachary-jernigan

On Jeroun, there is no question as to whether God exists–only what his intentions are.

Under the looming judgment of Adrash and his ultimate weapon–a string of spinning spheres beside the moon known as The Needle–warring factions of white and black suits prove their opposition to the orbiting god with the great fighting tournament of Tchootoo, on the far side of Jeroun’s only inhabitable continent.

From the Thirteenth Order of Black Suits comes Vedas, a young master of martial arts, laden with guilt over the death of one of his students. Traveling with him are Churls, a warrior woman and mercenary haunted by the ghost of her daughter, and Manshep, a constructed man made of modular spheres possessed by the foul spirit of his creator. Together they must brave their own demons, as well as thieves, mages, beasts, dearth, and hardship on the perilous road to Tchootoo, and the bloody sectarian battle that is sure to follow.

On the other side of the world, unbeknownst to the travelers, Ebn and Pol of the Royal Outbound Mages (astronauts using Alchemical magic to achieve space flight) have formed a plan to appease Adrash and bring peace to the planet. But Ebn and Pol each have their own clandestine agendas–which may call down the wrath of the very god they hope to woo.

Who may know the mind of God? And who in their right mind would seek to defy him? Gritty, erotic, and fast-paced, author Zachary Jernigan takes you on a sensuous ride through a world at the knife-edge of salvation and destruction, in one of the year’s most exciting fantasy epics.

I want to start this by saying that this was a difficult book for me to read, and even more so for me to write this review, so please bear with me.

No Return by Zachary Jernigan is certainly an interesting read; filled with excellent world building, descriptive writing, dynamic characters and with fantastically written fantastic scenes, realistic and brutal,  Jernigan has shown himself to be a talented and creative writer.

Jernigan’s novel was refreshingly unique, setting itself apart from many of the other novels, with a complex world, races, and magic system. Jernigan manages to describe and explore them thoroughly even though the novel is quite short. He manages to keep the writing simplistic, not going into too much detail and explanation, which works quite well as there’s a lot going on within the novel. Jernigan’s novel is an interesting sci-fi and fantasy hybrid.

The thing I was asked to take note of by the author was any feminism/to look at it through a feminist perspective, and it’s something I’m struggling with. His female characters were well-written, and they were by no means inferior to the male characters. They’re strong (physically, and politically), well-written, and compared to many other female characters in literature, quite well done. The line just goes fuzzy however, with the sexualization of the text.

There were quite a few sections in this novel where I had a difficult time getting through, and in a few of those instances, had to put the book down for a few days before attempting it again to get through those parts. I personally have a preference to not read sexually explicit scenes, especially descriptive ones… And to say there were a couple of those in No Return would be an understatement. They’re just not scenes I enjoy read, or have any interest in reading… If I wished to, I would go pick up an erotica novel.

To be fair though, I had been warned about these scenes prior to agreeing to read and review it.. These scenes, (again, for me… What holds true for in these matters by no means dictates that others would agree) detracted from the story, and stopped me from thoroughly enjoying the novel. Without them, or at least, without them being quite as numerous as they are, I believe I would have absolutely loved the book. However, as they are predominant throughout the novel, I don’t think it’s something that I can easily recommend to anyone.

The ending of this novel will leave readers wanting to know more about the world, and the characters in general, though the novel can be read as a standalone. However, I believe Jernigan will be writing a sequel as well. Will I read it? Probably. Jernigan has shown himself to have a unique flair, setting his novel apart from the rest of the genre.


Interview with Sandy Lains

Earlier this week, I got a chance to interview Sandy Lains, author of The Magic Deep Within. She was kind enough to answer my relatively simple questions fully to give a bit more insight into her story and why she wrote it, and the interview in full is posted below.

ARamone: How did you get your start as a writer? Was there anyone who really seemed to inspire you with it?

Sandy Lains: I’ve always had this bud of creativity within me — words waiting to explode from my fingertips. I studied English in university, though never really did anything with it… It wasn’t until my wife Jeanette was going through some of my old creative writing pieces that I got back into it. She’s been a real doll, and a great help over these past few months with helping my creative juices flow.

A: Do you have a favourite genre of book?

S: Well, it’s hard to say exactly… There are so many great genres out there, but I think I’m going to have to say capture bondage erotica. This particular one I’d love to write in, but for some reason I’ve never quite been able to capture the right mix between pain and arousal to make the writing truly believable. I’m dabbling with it in my next book though, so fingers crossed!

A: How did you get the idea for The Magic Deep Within? What motivated you to write it?

S: Well deary, this might come as a bit of a surprise, but a lot of this particular stories protagonist is based on my own life. Now, I know what you’re thinking “But you’re a lesbian!”. Yes, I am. But on a metaphorical level, the entire Wench’s series is about the suppression of sexuality that our culture inflicts on young women. As a girl growing up, I experienced this due to my father being involved heavily with the Catholic church. Once I went off to college I met Jeannette, and she’s opened my world up to wondrous possibilities I had never even imagined. I want my books to let women know that sex, love and the pursuit of physical pleasure is not a sin, but rather a beautiful form of expression.

A: What do you enjoy most about writing?

S: I enjoy the chance to explore my inner being, and to dig deep into who I am, and into the world around me. It allows me to express my thoughts, and put them into a relatable character so my readers can experience and understand as well.

A: Which of your characters would you like to meet in person? Why?

S: Now, you know of this character, as you’ve read the story…, But I would love to meet the protagonist of The Magic Deep Within, Cassandra. I really feel a deep connection with her, and we have so many commonalities. I feel like her journey for self-actualization and her growth into a beautiful and strong woman closely mirrors my own. In the sequel, we see a bit more of her growing into her own skin, and just finding her inner power, she’s an inspiration really.

Meeting her, and y’know, shaking her hand and saying “Y’all are a fantastic woman, keep it up girl!” Especially after the challenges and trials she’s had to overcome, it’s an inspiration really. To meet her, and to say “Thank you” is all I could ever want.

A: Do you have any other projects you’re working on at the moment?

S: My second installment in the Wench’s series, actually. Due to some very talented reviewers, I’ve decided to broaden the scope and really flesh out this next one. I’m glad to say the cast has been expanded and the overall magnitude has been increased ten-fold. I look forward to seeing how my readers respond to the increase of action and the darker overall story.

A: Are there any authors who inspire you?

S: E. L. James is a big one, her story is fantasy and really just a great victory for the erotica genre. She’s really opened it wide to readers, so they can sink themselves deep into it. Vicki León is another. She’s really been a champion in earning the genre some much needed recognition. I especially appreciate her ability to ground the genre by using true historical references to remind people that sexual taboos have been around for centuries, and really haven’t been as socially unacceptable until recently in mankinds 2 million year old life cycle.

A: If you were to send a message to young women today about their sexuality, what would you say?

S: Take a lover early and often. Kiss and touch without the fear of rejection and self doubt. Love your every curve, cherish every kiss and try not to blink for fear of the moments you might miss.

A: And finally, if you were any flavour of ice cream, what would you be?

S: White and salty ;)

Sandy Lains

 


The Daylight War by Peter V. Brett : Review

This post may contain slight spoilers for earlier books. Read my review of the first novel, The Warded Man here

On the night of the new moon, the demons rise in force, seeking the deaths of two men both of whom have the potential to become the fabled Deliverer, the man prophesied to reunite the scattered remnants of humanity in a final push to destroy the demon corelings once and for all.

Arlen Bales was once an ordinary man, but now he has become something more—the Warded Man, tattooed with eldritch wards so powerful they make him a match for any demon. Arlen denies he is the Deliverer at every turn, but the more he tries to be one with the common folk, the more fervently they believe. Many would follow him, but Arlen’s path threatens to lead him to a dark place he alone can travel to, and from which there may be no returning.

Ahmann Jardir has forged the warlike desert tribes of Krasia into a demon-killing army and proclaimed himself Shar’Dama Ka, the Deliverer. He carries ancient weapons—a spear and a crown—that give credence to his claim, and already vast swaths of the green lands bow to his control.

Once Arlen and Jardir were as close as brothers. Now they are the bitterest of rivals. As humanity’s enemies rise, the only two men capable of defeating them are divided against each other by the most deadly demons of all—those lurking in the human heart. – source

I was admittedly sceptical of this novel, because while I absolutely loved Brett’s debut novel, The Warded Man, the sequel to it — The Desert Spear failed to live up to my expectations, and was an unsatisfying read in comparison to the first; falling short of the novel’s potential. Fortunately, my scepticism wasn’t needed as Brett’s latest novel proved to be a gripping read, and a fantastic addition to its predecessors’, with its great back story and fantastic battle scenes.

One thing that I have to mention though, was that my main issue with The Desert Spear (which continues to be an issue in this latest instalment in the Demon Cycle) was the imbalance of power.

There are characters which (for lack of a better word) are perfect. They’re strong; they can deal with anything, and do absolutely anything. Arlen is especially vexing at times due to that, especially as some of his abilities begin to manifest and gain potency.

An example of this is the Corelings — in the first book, they were invincible, impossibly strong and deadly creatures, by the end of the second book they can pretty much be killed with a look. He does remedy that a bit in this novel, reintroducing the element of fear, even from the “super-powers”.

That imbalance of power can be a bit of a stint when reading Brett’s Demon Cycle. Despite this, it’s enjoyable to follow along their adventure, and his characters are ones that are easy to care about and they’re fun to read,

The Daylight War is easily one of the top 5 novels I’ve read this past year. Readers of Brett’s Demon Cycle have a lot to look forward to in February. I can say with complete confidence that Brett has outdone himself, and this latest instalment surpasses The Desert Spear, and is perhaps even better than The Warded Man (which is one of my favourite fantasy novels).

With his breath-taking descriptions, epic battle scenes (that’ll make you say “Damn! That’d look epic on the big screen” — Rojer and his music continue to be an amazing addition.), the powers that shape the world, and of course, keeping with the theme of the series, Brett tells yet another amazing coming of age story, this time of Jardir’s wife, Inevera.

The Daylight War, Book Three of The Demon Cycle by Peter V. Brett is a fast-paced, action-packed and exhilaratingly detailed novel that will leave readers breathless and in eager anticipation for more.

The Daylight War will be released February 12th.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

 


Interview with Karen Dales

About a week ago I met up with a friend of mine, Karen Dales, the award-winning author of The Chosen Chronicles. We talked about a variety of different things, including some of her upcoming projects, and her favourite novels.

As always, for convenience: K = Karen Dales, and R = Rebecca Lovatt (myself).

R: I’m here with Karen Dales, award-winning author of the Chosen Chronicles. Karen, can you tell us a bit about yourself?

K: Well, I’m a full-time author, and a freelance editor. I have three books currently published in the Chosen Chronicles. My fourth book – which is not part of the series – has been sent off to an agent, and I’m working on the next book in the Chosen Chronicles called Thanatos. I’m a mom, a wife and I am owned by two cats.

R: Owned by cats, yeah.. That’s typically how it works. Can you tell us anything about your current projects? The one you just finished, and Thanatos?

K: I can talk a bit about each. The one I just finished is actually a historical romance, set in early Edo period Japan. I had to do a lot of research for that one, I don’t really want to go into too much information with that until I see what the agent is going to say, and what we can do with that one. But it’s interesting, because I’m so used to having written in the paranormal/dark-fantasy/horror genre that to do the historical fiction as a historical romance – it was an interesting experience, because you write in a different way than you would with horror. The endings have to be different, there are more things you have to stick to.

With the Chosen Chronicles, and with Thanatos, you don’t have to be stuck with happy endings all the time. So, that was one thing I had to kind of wrap my head around with the historical romance, because they need to have that happy ending. With the three books that are currently out in the Chosen Chronicles, there isn’t this “riding off into the sunset” type of book or the “We’re all happy together and we’re going to be together forever.” It’s not a Disney ending, so even with my historical fiction, it isn’t a Disney ending, but it’s at least a happy ending. Whereas the other ones, I’ve had people go: “You did what to the characters?!” because I leave them hanging with some not-so great news.

I think that’s just something with the horror genre, you kind of leave them hanging. Though, I’ve always been a classic like Poe, Hitchcock, so yeah – lots of fun, and it’s an interesting experience working in two different genres that way.

R: Were there any challenges that you faced, switching between the two genres?

K: With the Chosen Chronicles, I could work from a lot of different angles. And the story itself – while it has some romantic elements, it’s not the primary plot – one thing I had to do with the romance is to make the relationship the primary plot and everything else secondary, which is kind of different. At first, I wanted what was going with the characters that weren’t the romance interesting. The other fact is that because the historical romance novel is set in Edo Japan – and even now – they don’t have a word for our concept of love. So, I had to write this romance without that word, without using “love”.

R: I imagine that would be a bit difficult.

K: Yeah, I actually at one point had to go back and do a word search, and find if I used the word “Love” in that context, pull it out, and change it to something completely different. So it was like, how do you write a romance novel without using that word?

So, I had to bring about different aspects about how love is considered in that culture, or how it’s expressed in that culture. So it was just really interesting.

R: I don’t read romances, though I do imagine that would be quite interesting to read, just with that difference in it.

K: Yeah, because I read romances – I am part of Romance Writers of America, in the Toronto branch. I don’t read Harlequins, but I’ve read other historical romances, but the characters talk about how they love each other, and they have this feeling. But within my book, how do they express it? There’s not so much “I’m going to jump your bones”, though there is sex, I’m not going to deny that. But you can do that, but it’s just more how do you get the characters to express those deep feelings using other words?.

R: I’m sure people will find that quite interesting to read.

K: Though, that’s if it ever gets to print, which I hope it will.

R: Good luck with it, and what was your main source of inspiration for that story?

K: That was actually a dream. I woke up from the dream, and most of the idea was fully formed, I just had to flesh it out. That was just kind of freaky weird. I don’t know if that’s common with writers, but it’s just I woke up, it didn’t fade, and it just kind of stuck. And as I was more cognitive that it could turn into a story, everything just went poof and blossomed into something more.  At that point I was pretty much just like “okay, I have to write it out.” Which was very different from the origins of the Chosen Chronicles. With the Chosen Chronicles, I was playing an online role-playing game with other people. So very different ways for the ideas to come to be, it was interesting. You never know how the inspiration is going to hit you, but I’ll take it whatever way it comes.

R: Going back to the Chosen Chronicles, vampires are something that are very common in YA fiction now, and each retelling brings something new to them. What would you say that your vampires bring to them, overall?

K: Something new? Well, one thing about the Chosen Chronicles is that I’m developing a new mythos or origin story to them, which is something a lot of people don’t read when they read vampires stories. With Bram Stoker, that origin idea came from Vlad the Impaler, even though we know he wasn’t a vampire, but the concept is that he was. Stoker pulled upon that historical figure, but he still he never really went on about how he became one. With Anne Rice, she does go into how vampires came to be, but I really haven’t found anything else that has.

With my Chosen Chronicles, I’ll be drawing a lot on history/pre-history and mythology specifically of the British isles. So, there’s a lot of history that has to go into them, to make sure than when you read them, you can go “Wow, this could really make sense, and maybe these type of people are really walking amongst us.” So, it’s a fine-line of keeping it within the realm of fiction, and could it possibly.. Which is different, and giving it an origin story within our own world and mythology and really helps. Like, with Anne Rice she pulls upon the Isis and Osiris mythology which is great. And, I’ll be doing something similar with the Celtic mythology.

R: Seems like it’ll be cool! I’m sure that’ll be interesting to read.

Now, moving on.. What’s the hardest part of the writing process for you?

K: Finding the time to write. Between family – who when I’m home, they think that since I’m home, they can get attention. Even though, I’m in my office telling them I need to work and do my writing. They want me to spend time with them. So, when my son is home from school, I find it difficult to find any time, because he wants to spend time with me. Which, I know I should appreciate because it’s not going to last. But that’s the big thing – finding the time to write.

Another big factor is that because I’m also a freelance editor, I’m under time pressure to get editing stuff done. So I have to get that done sometimes before I can get to my writing. So, I try not to take too many editing jobs done. After we finish up here that’s what I’ll be getting back to, you know, the review process — crossing things out with that red highlighter, there being red marks everywhere,and all that.

R: Yeah, I’ve come to learn that editing is a very meticulous process.

K: A lot of people don’t realize that when you’re editing, you’re not just reading it going through being like “Ooh, I like this, I don’t like that.” You actually have to analyze every little detail. Especially when you have historical elements, you want to make sure it’s as accurate as possible. So, I get a bit nit-picky about facts… And making sure what’s said on page 13 matches up with what’s said on page 200.

R: Yup. So, you’re a fairly common sight at conventions here in Toronto, but do you ever have people recognize you outside of the convention scene?

K: I haven’t had that situation yet, which I like. One thing about being an author is that people won’t necessary recognize you in person because your fact is not on the cover, or even in the book. So, you have that anonymity, which is fine. But if someone came up to me, and said “I love you books”, that would be great. But it’s not like being on TV where everyone will recognize you.

I’d like to get to that point sometime though! It would be interesting.

R: Fair enough, and next question: Who is your favourite author?

K: Oh… No. You didn’t… You just did. Jeez. Can we go by genre? Do you get this reaction a lot by authors? Like.. How dare you? What did you just do to me?

R: Yep, always an interesting reaction when I ask that one, along with “What’s your favourite book?”

K: Oh Jeez. I don’t think you have enough room on your recording device for me to list them all.

R: I’ve got an hour or so on here..

K: Oh, well, okay then.. For historical fiction, there’s two of them that I really enjoy. Jean Auel, and Diana Gabaldon, I really enjoy the first parts of their series. In terms of vampire novels/paranormal, Bram Stokers Dracula, there are a lot of other amazing ones out there, but I think Stoker is a really important one to me, and it’s such a horrific story – the sex without the sex, the horror, which is pretty tame by today’s standards is still horrific. In terms of general horror, The Watch, now I edited that book, and every time I went through it, I was still scared, knowing what was coming.

For Science Fiction, I enjoy the classics, Asimov, Heinlein, Herbert, more than modern science fiction.

As for fantasy, I would have to say Tad Williams’ books, especially The War of the Flower. In it, he actually has an apology to readers because there’s a part that he wrote before 9/11 occurred, and it’s almost like he had foreseen 9/11 happening, and he translated it into his fantasy novel. So, when you read that apology and get to that part of the book, it hits you even harder, because it’s so close to what had actually happened in real life, but it was all in imagination beforehand.

Violette Malan’s books are all great as well, I could keep listing more, but that would take forever.

R: Fair enough, and thanks.. I did have to ask that evil question.

K: Yes.. Well, please don’t ask that again. <laughing>

R: Nah, that should be my first question in every interview

K: And everyone will go: “I hate you for asking that.” I’m sure a couple would be like “Oh, well have you read my book? It’s fantastic. My favourite!”

R: So yeah, if you could have lunch with any of your characters, would you? And if so, which one would it be?

K: Oh goodness, in terms of the Chosen Chronicles I’d have to be careful because I could be lunch. But I think I would have to choose Nodos, for one, I wouldn’t be his lunch, and two, he has so much knowledge, being so incredibly old. He’d be fun to take out somewhere and let him not have a bite. As for the historical romance, I think my female protagonist. She’s definitely someone I’d like to have lunch with.

R: Same question, but any author living or dead.

K: Well, a lot of my friends are authors, so perhaps one I haven’t gone out with… I would say Asimov – but I would probably get so lost while he’s talking about things that I’d get bored, because he was so scientifically oriented… I would probably say Mary Shelly. She’d be an interesting one, with her having written Frankenstein, and it being such an interesting way of looking at humanity, and not just humanity, but with our relationship with God in such a horrific sense, and that story came to her in a dream. For her to have written, and become so popular in a time when female writers weren’t so well accepted. So she’d be really cool to talk to.

R: Definitely, now that you mention it. Also, your books are available both in paperback and e-book, but what’s your preference between the two formats?

K: It depends on the book, I do have a Kindle, and I have a lot of books on it – classics, because it’s easier that way. When I’m going places, I like to have my Kindle, but I still prefer physical real books, I’ll never stop loving those books, but when I’m being introduced to a new author, I might not want to spend a lot of money on their books until I get to know them. So, I use the Kindle as a system for that – cheap and easy reading. But for good story telling, I usually get the physical book. Especially if written by friends of mine.

They’re entirely different experiences; reading text on a screen, and paper. Because text on a screen can easily disappear with the breaking of the deceive, or something happening with Amazon. They’re borrowed books, on the kindle. If there’s a mass-market book, I’ll most likely get they physical one. I do understand why people enjoy the e-readers, it makes things easier for carrying and the like, and if I go somewhere I don’t have to carry a huge suitcase of books with me. It’s like carrying around a little computer. They’re great, they’re wonderful, but they’re not physically real. But we’re sitting here in a library, and we see all these books around us, and that’s not something you can take away. It’s always going to be here, or in someone’s hand. You don’t get that with e-books, you can’t ogle the artwork as much, or go to someone’s bookshelf, but, when we first sat down I couldn’t take my eyes off that bookshelf, you can’t do that with an e-reader.

R: I have to say I agree with you fully, and every book has its own story to tell – the cracked spines, folded corners on pages.

K: Yeah, you can tell which ones are really well-loved by the people who read them, and I think that’s awesome. I have books that are well read, and I know if my device breaks down, or I can’t access the internet, those books will still be there.

But I’m very careful with the books I read, especially when it comes to self-published ones, because you never know how they’ll be. So, I tend to just get them on my Kindle, wait until they’re on sale, or free.

R: That’s reasonable, and a good way to do it. Do you by any chance have any advice you can give to aspiring authors?

K: Learn your craft, that is so important. Just because you read doesn’t mean you can write. Take courses, whether it’s through community centers, night classes, college or university, take courses; join writer’s groups, something where you can get feedback. So long as the writer’s group is someone who knows what they’re doing – that’s important,

The other thing is: keep writing, don’t ever give up, never surrender, and just keep going. Yes, in this day and age you can self-publish, but the traditional route is still the best and most lucrative way. Keep working hard, and keep honing your craft.

One thing that I was told when in university at York, was that that most authors don’t perfect their craft enough to get published properly until they’re about 40. I think that age can probably be dropped down a bit, but a lot of that comes down to life experience because if you’re living behind a computer screen your entire life and not interacting with the world around you, and not only the places, but the situation, and the types of people you will interact with in order to create believable characters, situations and worlds. So, whether you’re writing in a fictional setting that is historical, modern, fantastic or futuristic you have to know your stuff. In order to do so, you must have experience that you can draw from accordingly. So, when you have all these teenagers writing YA stories about romance, that’s fine. There’s really no life-experience you need to draw upon, because we’ve all been a kid.

If you want to write something that’s for adults, you need to experience being an adult first, and that’s important.

R: Alright, thank you… I do have one last question for you, I ask this to everyone.. but if you could be any flavour of ice cream, what flavour would you be?

K: Strawberry! That’s an easy question.

R: Thanks so much Karen for taking the time to do this!

K: You’re welcome,and thank you too!

 


Adventure Hunters by Cody L. Martin – Review

Artorius, Regina, and Lisa, three adventurers explore ruins and ancient buildings looking for treasures. When they come across a collection of war machines, they race to find the Lambda Driver, the key to restoring the machines. They must find it before their ruler, King Ryvas, does. If Ryvas finds it first, he will unleash their destructive power on the neighboring kingdom. – source

Adventure Hunters is an interesting concept, with a unique and creative world. However, his world is unrefined and his writing needs more work. Cody L. Martin has potential as an author, there is no doubt of his creativity, and passion for fantasy. Martin however, needs more practice in the art of description.

One of the main issues of this novel was the redundancy, and overuse of description. There were instances in the novel where Martin would spend a page or so describing a character, only to have one of our three protagonists sum them up in a few short sentences later; wasting the readers time and detracting from the story. As well, he describes things the characters aren’t able to see and have no affect on their location, actions, or the progress of the story — on the very first pages he describes on of the main characters (Artorius) in precise details down to the colour of his underclothes. Unnecessary, and a headache to read.

Hopefully with time and discipline Martin will be able to fine-tune his writing abilities in order to more ably express his thoughts and ideas in the written form. The potential is there, but with more editing and the cutting out extraneous details he could have a compelling tale.

For the time being, Martin’s Adventure Hunters is not one I would recommend to anyone.


The Cupid War by Timothy Carter: Review

https://i0.wp.com/i43.tower.com/images/mm117423767/cupid-war-timothy-carter-paperback-cover-art.jpgRicky Fallon had decided not to kill himself after all–moments before accidentally slipping off a bridge and plunging to his death. Now he’s a Cupid in the afterlife, helping high school students fall in love. The job would be cool if it weren’t for the dorky pink bodysuits, his jerky boss, and attacks from joy-sucking shadowy entities called Suicides.

When Fallon discovers a dangerous new Suicide in human form, a terrific battle erupts. Before the Suicide can become too powerful, Fallon has to convince his fellow Cupids of the extraordinary threat, protect the girl he’s falling for . . . and foil the Suicides’ evil scheme to spread despair to all humanity. – Source

The Cupid War by Timothy Carter is an interesting read. Carter, who is known for writing far-fetched fiction lives up to that expectation in The Cupid War. Following the tale of Fallon, a new Cupid who must work to earn Love and try to save students from sharing his fate. What he finds is unexpected, impossible, and some of it? Quite nice.

First, I need to start off by saying I don’t read YA novels, at least not on anything approaching a regular basis. Neither do I read romance or anything that could almost be classified as a romance novel, (trust me.. I’ve turned down a ridiculous amount of books that whilst they sounded interesting, romance is just not something I read). So, it is a bit peculiar that I accepted a book that is not only a young adult fiction, but well.. It has cupids, and the picture on the cover is a heart and thus (to me at least) obviously romance. Nevertheless, I don’t regret choosing to read The Cupid War, even if it really isn’t my type.

Carter’s characters are fun and dynamic, and develop realistically throughout the story, and reacted in a believable way when thrown into peculiar and challenging circumstances. Character relations were also well done, especially with Trina and Fallon who were enjoyable to read, and watch as their friendship blossomed.  Though, some parts were written a bit better than others, as parts of The Cupid War did feel rushed at times, especially during the action scenes… However, it was a fun read and has some really great (quirky and strange) ideas like Love being a food, or the great battle for souls between Suicides and Cupids.

The Cupid War is a fun and amusing read, easy to get through and a definite change compared to what I usually read. Starting off as a strange and humorous read, it progresses and becomes a much more engaging and deeper book, with a bit more of a mature feel to it. Fans of Carter as well as new readers won’t disappointed by this latest novel.

Also, check back in the next few days for my interview with the author, Timothy Carter!

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Use of Description

Well… It’s been a while since I last did one of these — a general post about stuff.

Lately, I’ve been asked the question “What makes a book good?” a lot, and I’ve given some small, non-committal answer each time. I figured though, that I would do this properly and give my opinion on the topic (for there is no one answer to this question, but many… varying from person to person). This post will specifically talk about description. I may do more in the future, though I also may not.

The main thing that this post will focus on is the description. Reading over the reviews I’ve written over the past year, one of the points I seem to make reference to is the author’s use of description in the novel. Whether I’m saying there’s too much, too little, the description is excellently done, or in contrast — poorly.

But I’ve come to realize something, I’m a fan of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, which is pretty much the epitome of “too much description” and I love it! So more and more I’m thinking it isn’t so much the amount of description, as it is the timing and placement of it. If a piece of description is put in such a time that it detracts from the story, then it will seem like the author is using too much description — whereas if the same amount of description had been put elsewhere, it would be quite fine.

An example of description at the wrong place/wrong time:

Mary closed her eyes, drops of sweat beading upon her brow, waiting for the inevitable bang that would mark the end of her 22 years of life. Hearing the safety on the gun ‘click’ her knees — hidden under her sky-blue dress with finely inlaid roses braided across the seams. She had bought it only yesterday, thinking to show it off to Jayne  — began to shake, and she sent her last prayer to the Gods above.

The roar of a bullet, the ripping of flesh and cotton, and a final breath of life. Mary had paid good money for that dress, but now as strong arms caught her lifeless body, blood spread across the fine fabric, like a tulip blooming against the morning sky. There she lay, and there she died, in the hands of her best-friend  her lover, and her killer. He was notably dressed less finely than she, in his “Joss Whedon Kills” t-shirt (probably for the irony), and jeans. Overall, he made a very ineloquent killer.

Description shouldn’t be a bad thing. While we should hopefully have some idea of what the characters look like (before this point), describing the clothing of Mary and the killer is out of place and detracts from the impact of the scene. Using the same passage as above, but with a few passages cut, it creates a different feel to it.

Mary closed her eyes, drops of sweat beading upon her brow, waiting for the inevitable bang that would mark the end of her 22 years of life. Hearing the safety on the gun ‘click’ her knees began to shake, and she sent her last prayer to the Gods above.

The roar of a bullet, the ripping of flesh and cotton, and the final breath of life. Strong arms caught Mary’s lifeless body, blood spreading across the fine fabric of her dress, like a tulip blooming against the morning sky. There she lay, and there she died, in the hands of her best-friend, her lover, and her killer.

The original paragraphs didn’t necessarily have too much information; it was just not where it should be. Perhaps have Mary’s dress described before the event, or even after. Of course, giving too much information is entirely possible; the calibre, make, specs of the gun could be given, the price Mary got the dress, the way her hair was tied up, any number of things added to that could just be too much.

It’s all well and good to give readers information so that they can visualize the characters, but there shouldn’t be an info-dump either. It’s a matter of balance, finding when and where to use descriptive text and how much. The best descriptions aren’t the ones that are shining in the neon light, but the ones that may not be noticed fully, but become embedded into the reader’s mind.

I’m not an expert, I don’t write (the two example paragraphs are pretty much the extent of the creative writing I’ve done in the past year), and I know there are exceptions to every rule. There will be some people who agree fully with what I’ve said, and people who will disagree with every point. This is just my opinion on the matter from what I’ve noticed in my readings.

The point of this post was to answer the question: What do I think makes a good novel? For me, description plays a huge role, but no individual aspect can account for the greatness of a novel. The world you create — whether it’s modern-day Manhattan or K’ricck village on planet M’thut, you have to work to make it realistic and recognizable to the reader. The characters; they have to be people we want to spend hours of our time with, and be able to empathize with, we have to understand their motives and even if we don’t agree with them, you have to make us want them to succeed. Also, the importance of a good plot can not be emphasized enough — intriguing characters, a phenomenal world, and rich, eloquent description count for nothing if there’s no plot, or the plot has more holes than a strainer.

There really is no one thing that makes a story “good”, it’s an amalgamation of the many components, blended together to make not just a book, but an experience, worth having and spending the time with. Achieve that, and you will have something many will enjoy.

That’s my thoughts on it really, I could go into further detail on just about anything, the worldbuilding, characters, and plot.. This post really just focused on description more than anything, but it’s one of the biggest things for me.

Do you agree? Disagree? Or should I just stop rambling and get back to reading? ;)


City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte

“Once a city of enormous wealth and culture, Prague was home to emperors, alchemists, astronomers, and, as it’s whispered, hell portals. When music student Sarah Weston lands a summer job at Prague Castle cataloging Beethoven’s manuscripts, she has no idea how dangerous her life is about to become. Prague is a threshold, Sarah is warned, and it is steeped in blood.
     Soon after Sarah arrives, strange things begin to happen. She learns that her mentor, who was working at the castle, may not have committed suicide after all. Could his cryptic notes be warnings? As Sarah parses his clues about Beethoven’s “Immortal Beloved,” she manages to get arrested, to have tantric sex in a public fountain, and to discover a time-warping drug. She also catches the attention of a four-hundred-year-old dwarf, the handsome Prince Max, and a powerful U.S. senator with secrets she will do anything to hide.
City of Dark Magic could be called a rom-com paranormal suspense novel—or it could simply be called one of the most entertaining novels of the year” – Description from Goodreads

City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte — the pseudonym of authors Meg Howrey and Christina Lynch — had an interesting concept. Flyte obviously did their research of Beethoven’s life, and the twist with his “Immortal Beloved” was an interesting take on it.

However, that’s unfortunately about the best I can say about City of Dark Magic, It was through sheer force of will that I finished this novel. The writing seems to be at an amateur level at best; the plot scattered and in general, just a mess. There’s little to no character development throughout the story, and the dynamics between characters seems to fall flat.

With an antagonist who seems entirely power hungry, and just killing for the sake of killing, and a protagonist who is nothing special except for having a nose sensitive enough to smell things like danger, evil and pheromones, and has an extensive knowledge of Beethoven’s music, there wasn’t really much to the characters, nothing that makes you feel sympathy for their quest, or takes you on an emotional ride through their trials and triumphs.

While the book and the writing does seem to improve somewhat about half-way through; there are still sections in which it seems the authors forgot what genre they were writing, with segments which seem like they’d be better suited for an erotica novel — coupled with their style and word usage making the book feel like it was intended for young readers — made those scenes awkward to read and completely unnecessary.
(Note: I have absolutely no issue with sex in novels, but when it’s out of the blue and goes into great detail where it’s completely out of place, it’s probably best to leave it out.)

A lot of what was hinted at and referenced through the novel also fell short and were quite disappointingly executed, seeming rushed at best, or not given more than a few words of mention when they were finally shown.

This isn’t a book I would recommend at all, but perhaps others will see what I failed to in this novel, and will enjoy it.

City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte will be released November 27th.

I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.


Parlor Games by Maryka Biaggio : Review


Meet Baroness May Dugas, the most dangerous woman in the world.

Standing trial for extortion, the story of May Dugas unfolds as she tells her version of the events which lead her to the trial in 1917. From leaving home, searching for a way to earn enough money to support her family.

Branded as a crafty blackmailer and ruthless seductress.  To many, though, May was the most glamorous woman to grace high society. Was the real May Dugas a cold-hearted swindler or simply a resourceful provider for her poor family?

As the narrative bounces back and forth between the trial taking place in 1917 and May’s devious but undeniably entertaining path to the courtroom—hoodwinking and waltzing her way through the gilded age and into the twentieth century—we’re left to ponder her guilt as we move closer to finding out what fate ultimately has in store for our irresistible adventuress.

Parlor Games by Maryka Biaggio is a historical fiction, based off of the events of a real trial, which I admittedly didn’t know when I first read the book. The story is May’s retelling of her life choices and events which lead to her famous trial, telling an amusing story, but one which makes you consider the evidence placed against her, and the way May explains what happened.

Parlor Games is very well-written, and engaging. May’s life makes for an entertaining tale, as do the people she meets throughout the story. However, I did find myself losing interest with it half-way through, as it picks up a repetitive nature. Telling mostly of her sleeping with a variety of men and coercing them to give her money and buy her things — and then complaining when after using them, things don’t go exactly her way. May Dugas overall doesn’t make for a sympathetic character, or one that can hold your attention for very long.

The ending itself was also very abrupt, and seemed incongruous with the rest of the story, almost as if May (as the story is told in such a way that it’s something she’s writing), just grew bored with writing and wrote the end for the sake of their being an end.

While I may not particularly be a fan of the story of May Dugas, Biaggio’s writing style and voice is one that I found enjoyable, and I will probably be reading more of her books in the future.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


Kiss of Death by Debbie Viguié : Review

In the wake of a failed attempt to defeat the vampire Richelieu, Susan and her friends are weakened and divided. Raphael must set aside his animosity and join with his enigmatic sire Gabriel to discover a powerful weapon before Richelieu claims it. Meanwhile, Susan and her cousin Wendy translate a 12th century diary belonging to their ancestor, Carissa, to learn the origin of their family’s connection with the vampires. As Carissa’s story of love and betrayal unfolds, they discover the secrets of the present will only be revealed by solving the mysteries of the past – Description from Goodreads

Kiss of Death is the second book in the Kiss Trilogy by Debbie Viguié. Set shortly after the events in the first book; Susan and her friends are recovering from their encounter with Richelieu — an evil vampire. Now, after uncovering his plans, Gabriel and Raphael must do what they can to stop Richelieu before it’s too late. Meanwhile, Susan, Wendy learn more of the past through an ancient diary, telling the story of their ancestor, and their friend Gabriel.

Debbie Viguié’s Kiss of Death takes place alternately between modern-day and the twelfth century in a compelling tale as the girls learn of their history and how it’s interwoven with vampires. Telling of betrayal, friendship, love and hate, Kiss of Death is a great read with fascinating characters.

I don’t typically read young adult stories involving vampires, in the past few years they’ve mostly become formulaic and not at all resembling how they used to be portrayed as — monsters. However, having read many of Viguié’s books in the past and enjoying her style, I decided to give this one a try, and was pleasantly surprised. The vampires in this novel are ones that burn and turn to ash in sunlight, are harmed by holy water and crosses and definitely hate the scent of garlic. Merging the classic vampires with the modern-day version — the handsome, human loving kind gave these a bit more of a unique twist, and it was enjoyable to read about them.

Kiss of Death and the rest of the Kiss Trilogy is an attempt to make Christian themes accessible for non-Christians, as well as for Christians who enjoy reading fantasy; telling a tale of redemption, and the struggle between good and evil. From a non-religious standpoint, I did find it to be interesting, and the religious aspects were not overpowering in the story, while still playing a central theme.

Overall, Viguié’s Kiss of Death was a great action-packed, and compelling read, with enough back story provided that it easily stands alone and can be read without having read the first in the trilogy. Though, I am sure that the first one was a great read as well.

The third book in the Kiss Trilogy — Kiss of Revenge will be released in 2013.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


Crown Thief by David Tallerman : Review

Meet Easie Damasco: Thief, swindler and lately, reluctant hero.

But whatever good intentions Damasco may have are about to be tested to their limits, as the most valuable – and dangerous – object in the land comes within his light-fingered grasp.  Add in some suicidally stubborn giants, an old enemy with dreams of empire and the deadliest killers in two kingdoms on his heels, and Damasco’s chances of staying honest – or even just surviving – are getting slimmer by the hour.

First off, before beginning the review of this novel I want to say a couple of things. One, I made a bit of a mistake when getting this book to review as I didn’t realize it was a sequel — so some of what I say may not be entirely correct. Second, there is a possibility for there to be spoilers in this review. So, just a bit of a warning for anyone who hasn’t read the first book (Giant Thief by David Tallerman)

Tallerman’s Crown Thief is an engaging, fast paced and riveting tale. Jumping right into the story where the first book left off, Crown Thief follows the story of Easie Damasco and his travels with the Guard Captain Alvantes, briefly accompanied by mayor Estrada and Saltlick, an amiable giant and friend to Damasco.

With Damasco and Alvantes continuously being thrown into perilous situations, the story is action packed and rarely has a dull moment. With its easy to read style, interesting and enthralling characters who go through a considerable amount of character development react realistically to their changes of circumstance and the flow of events, to the point of even being able to form an uneasy camaraderie in their time of need, Tallerman has created an interesting fantasy adventure.

There were a couple of points which while I didn’t entirely like they didn’t completely subtract from the story. One of which was that there seemed to be a overbearingly repetitive nature in the way that Easie would moan on about how boring travel is whenever the opportunity presented itself, especially when revisiting locations they had been to before. Also, while not so much of a deal, things seemed a bit too convenient for Easie where he’d get injured in a manner that’d kill most people, or at least break a few bones but he would walk away with a few bruises at most.

Besides for that however, the giants were an interesting addition to the story, as they’re rarely seen in literature these days (from what I’ve noticed). While being a subdued and gentle race, they proved themselves to be great assets and not just an unnecessary addition to the story.

Overall, I enjoyed Crown Thief by David Tallerman very much. It was an interesting read, very quick and easy to get through. Ending with a bit of a cliffhanger, it leaves you wanting for more.

Crown Thief is set to be released September 25th.

Thank you to Netgalley and Angry Robot for sending me a copy of this novel in exchange for a review.

David’s website: http://davidtallerman.net/

 


Past of a Marked Man by Jennifer Hirtler : Review

If I could not live my life honorably without being reviled, then I would not. If they feared me, I decided, they should have a reason. – Kagnos, Past of a Marked Man

In the lands of Tavigoth, one city sets itself apart as being the city of death; a dangerous city ruled by thieves and assassins, the city of Kuz. But even in a city such as that; there is one man who is more dangerous than the rest. Kagos, the old Lord of Kuz,

Set on a mission to make an account of the life of Kagnos, young priest Mitchell embarks on a dangerous journey, entering a life filled with deceit, murder, and most of all – pain, as his path takes him to find some of the people from the dredges of the past, Jack the Candle Maker – the one who trained Kagnos, and Cherryl, a man who was once Kagnos’s apprentice, and lost everything.

Hidden beneath the rumours of being a murderer with no soul or consciousness lay a truth even more darker — one of pain, betrayal and fear. Kagnos, cursed by Garilect assassins as a young boy after the murder of his parents has lived being constantly feared by those around him. Tortured by a life of reflection and ridicule, and his name whispered in fear across all of Tavigoth, we see his story unfold from his childhood and see the truth of who the assassin really is. A man who did what he must, living by the rules he set, and enforcing them upon his  people, killing the bad — or the worst of the good, and doing everything in his power for those he cared about.

Past of a Marked Man by Jennifer Hirtler shows us a world rife with conflict, blending good and bad until one can’t be told from another through the stories of Cherryl, Vera, Kagnos and Mitchell. As each of their stories grow, and they become more dynamic characters, the moral paradoxes of their actions — while on the surface may seem bad — become reasonable. While it’s easy to judge someone for their crimes, they’re all good people.

While I found the beginning to be a bit slow, and the main character Mitchell to be a wimp (which while understandable, did annoy me), the story was gripping and intriguing from the start, and got better as it progresses. Although at some points it did seem a bit more descriptive than need be, slowing the pace down, Past of a Marked Man was definitely better than sleep and had a satisfying conclusion. With the multiple story lines all resolving in their own ways; it made a good read.

Ms. Hirtler gave me a copy of Past of a Marked man to review, and I’m glad she did. This was a wonderful and enjoyable read, and an excellent début novel. For me, having a bunch of unusual names (Serit’ha, Tavigoth, Garilect, Phinae, etc) made it a bit difficult to remember everything at first, but by the end most of them got easier to remember.

With Greek mythology, and having Gods and Goddesses taking apart in lives and setting paths, as well as having running themes of forgiveness it sets for an insightful story with a great depth.


The Summoner by Gail Z. Martin : Review

Thrown into chaos, the aristocracy of the Winter Kingdoms must defend itself against magic, and with the clock ticking, the fate must rest on the shoulders of our heroes.

Matris “Tris” Drayke, a Prince of Margolan must flee from his older brother Prince Jared and his evil sorcerer Foor Arontala, after the slaughter of his family. Now a fugitive, Tris must travel with his friends and seek justice, and a way to save the kingdom. Along his quest for retribution, he must learn to control his powers before they control him, and call upon the armies of the dead

Kiara Sharsequin, the Goddess Blessed Warrior Princess of Isencroft must find a way to save her self, her kingdom and her father from Foor Arontala — a dark wizard, and from King Jared, to whom she is betrothed. Searching for the answers, she must set out upon a Journey; one of hardships, self discovery and truth.

The Summoner is the first book in the Chronicles of the Necromancer by Gail Z. Martin.The story started out a bit slowly; the first chapter and a few other spots seemed to be info-dumps more than anything; telling the reader more than actually showing. However, it quickly picks up the pace and sets the story in motion, continuing with minimalistic details, as Martin focuses more on advancing the story than a detailed analyses of each character. Moving the story at a fast pace and always keeping it interesting.

The Summoner is a cliché. The good guys are all charismatic, likeable, and filled with ideas of heroism and only a small flaw or two to make sure they aren’t too perfect or unrealistic. Meanwhile the bad guys are distinctly unlikable, and pure evil — it being impossible to muster up a bit of sympathy for their cause. This book is a prime example of a formulaic sword and sorcery fantasy novel — a wicked prince and evil magician, haunted inns, ghosts, prophetic moments and magical powers which conveniently save the day every time and if not, a ghost will tell the hero what he must do. Martin doesn’t bring anything new to the table that we haven’t seen before, and as the first book in a series I kind of expected something a bit more special.

Despite this, I enjoyed the book, and I’ll be reading the sequel to it — The Blood King. Martin isn’t flashy or overly elegant with her prose, but she doesn’t need to be. It’s a story we all know, and one that many fantasy readers enjoy. It’s easy to get through, and it lets us revisit familiar territory. The characters don’t brood, or go through the “woe is me” monologues much, they know their paths, and are well aware of the challenges they face. So, despite being a cliché fantasy title, and more on the predictable side, it’s a light read, and enjoyable.

Do I recommend this book? Yeah, sure. Why not? If you like the typical fantasy story with magic and heroes, adventure and battles, then you’ll probably like this book as a light read.

Visit Gail Martin’s website here

Follow her on Twitter! @GailZMartin


Review: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, by Catherynne M. Valente

September is a girl who long for adventure. When she is invited to Fairyland by a Green Wind and a Leopard, well, of course she accepts. (Mightn’t you?) But Fairyland is in turmoil, and it will take one twelve-year-old girl, a book-loving dragon, and a strange and almost human boy named Saturday to vanquish an evil Marquess and restore order. 

This book has quite a long title, so we’ll refer to it as TGWCFiaSoHOM. Have fun reading that throughout the whole review.

TGWCFiaSoHOM has been called many things: charming, glorious, enchanting. In some ways, that’s quite true; in other ways, which we’ll get to later, it’s quite wrong. We’ll get to how it’s good first.

The book has a rich and diverse array of characters and a wonderful world. Valente went all-out making Fairyland an interesting, strange, and  different place, and quite quirky in its own way. From entire cities knitted out of wool to Fairyland having to cope with modernisation, the world is a rich and fun one. It’s like being transported to a real place; like the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, it’s similar enough to our world, yet different enough from it, in the amounts to make it a place a reader would want to visit.

To the book’s credit, Fairyland is populated by an equally interesting array of characters, none quite the same as the other. A-Through-L is a wyvary, half-wyvern, half-library (so he says), Saturday is a Marid, and can grant any wish (as long as he’s defeated first), and the villain is one of the most sympathetic I’ve come across in fiction in a while. Almost everyone we meet is different and leaves an impression on us, and it’s these characters, really, who make the world an interesting one, and Valente spared no expense making them as real and as rich as she could.

Unfortunately, this care wasn’t put into  every character, and here we come to the book’s only real flaw – though it’s such a large flaw it has a deep impact on the quality of the story. The problem isn’t the writing, which is okay, or the ending, which doesn’t really resolve anything in favour of making way for a sequel instead. No, the biggest flaw of the book is September.

September is a flat character bordering on Mary Sue. Everybody likes her instantly, talks about her all the time, sings praises of her that make it clear sliced bread feels ashamed it doesn’t live up to her wonderful goodness, and anyone who doesn’t like her is bad and evil and how dare you not like this wonderful perfect person. It couldn’t be more clear September is intended as an audience stand-in: basically, designed to be a bland nobody everybody likes so that the reader can step into her shoes and pretend they’re the ones everyone is praising. This is pitiful, because a flat character like this simply doesn’t belong in a book so otherwise good. It’s like having a really health-conscious friend and then finding out they’e been hiding sweets all around the house and snacking on them when nobody’s looking, or finding out they smoke behind everybody’s back. If Valente had put just a fraction of the effort into September she put into all the other characters in this book, it would have been truly good; instead, I was left loving the few pages where September didn’t come up at all, automatically sympathising with the characters who, for a few glorious pages, put September in her place and told her she wasn’t very wonderful after all, and finding more interest in a sentient key than in September. September didn’t make an impression on me so much as merely leave a void where a good protagonist should have been, and no personality I can use to decide if I like her or not.

Some authors deliberately write these characters to make them easy to relate to. The thing is, a well-written character is always relatable, or other characters are. Writing a flat character is lazy, a cop-out; it’s the published equivalent of self-insert fan fiction. Everything, from September’s formulaic background to her utter lack of personality, make her severely disappointing when compared to the rest of the book’s cast. I became more and more disappointed with her as the book went on, and liked the book less and less as a result.

So how was TGWCFiaSoHOM as a whole? Good. I might even say quite good. Would I pick up the inevitable sequels? Here I find myself torn. I want to see A-Through-L again; I want to witness the Marquess’ character arc. I dread seeing September again. It’s not usual that I like one part of a book so much and so hate another part, but it’s true in this case, and I’m not sure how well my time would be spent reading the sequel as opposed to simply asking other people what happens.

Overall reading: 3.5/5

 


The Benefits of Reading

English: A multi-volume Latin dictionary (Egid...

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Growing up, we’re all encouraged to read at one point or another. Whether it be Shakespearian plays, out school textbooks, autobiographies or the classics, books played a role in our lives growing up and for a lot of us, they still do. Why is it though, that in many countries around the world, reading is something that’s enforced at a young age? What benefits do we get from reading the books we’ve come to love and enjoy?

I could list a hundred or so reasons on why reading is good for you, and why it’s so important to read… Though, reading brings something different to all of us, and we all perceive books in a different way. In August of last year, Linda Poitevin wrote a post on the subjective side of reading, stating that “readers are going to take from a story what they want (or need) to experience. What one reader sees, another might miss altogether…only to draw from the story something the author him/herself may never have intended.” (Link to this post can be found here). I have to agree with her fully on that, as we all learn or take things away from books that someone else might not even notice.

Whether we’re reading books to relax, escape, or learn; they give us a window into the different facets of human existence that we might not otherwise get to explore. They open a new world away from our own sorrows and fears, letting us escape from reality for a little while; giving us a bigger perspective on life, the universe, and well, everything (to borrow from Douglas Adams). We can learn from the characters — both the antagonists and protagonists and apply those lessons into our daily lives; do what we can to keep from making the same mistakes, avoid the same fatal flaws, learn to approach problems and challenges in different ways. Reading not only broadens our perspective of the world around us, it gives insight to who we are, and how we can apply that to better ourselves.

In the case of non-fiction books, they allows for a more concentrated delve into a topic that’s filled with an abundance of information, it’s something that you can focus on (provided it’s what you have an interest in), and learn loads of fascinating things about. For example, did you know that in space there’s a gas cloud with enough alcohol in it to make 400 trillion trillion pints of beer. That probably isn’t a fact you’d find in the pages of Lord of the Rings or I, Robot, but it’s still interesting. (Try singing that song — 400 trillion trillion pints of beer on the wall, 400 trillion trillion bottles of beer). There’s a wealth of information out there, amazing facts that most of us can’t even begin to fathom. Some of that information, if not all, we can learn here on the internet, we can see things that friends and different sources post on websites like Twitter or Facebook, and it’s great. However, while reading a tweet with an interesting fact can be enough to pause and make you think, if you don’t take the time to research that tidbit of information, that sentence that you paused over for a moment, then you’re not going to learn anything.

Fiction allows us to understand and better know ourselves, and the people around us; helping us overcome challenges we may face that can correlate to something we’ve read. While on the other hand, non-fiction takes us deeper into the roots of human understanding and knowledge. Find a book on a topic that interests you, whether it’s Freud’s approach to dreams, medieval philosophy or linguistics, there’s so much out there for you to learn. One thing people don’t seem to understand these days is that you don’t need to go to university or college to become an expert on a topic or to learn about it. Find a local library, discover some new authors, there are so many fountains of knowledge out there, just bursting to be read. It’s all out there, sitting on a piece of paper, waiting to fall into your hands and be read.

The stories we read about all have different morals and lessons behind them. Almost every fantasy (or science-fiction) story will have some sort of grievance between races, or classes, reading those stories give us a glimpse into other cultures and into lives of people who are in circumstances so different from our own; or perhaps their lives have more in common with ours than we’d care to admit. Books are the doorway into different worlds, and every world has its lessons. Those worlds — they consist of exceptions; for every rule, there is an exception. That applies here too, if you think there’s something you can’t do for a certain reason, well that shouldn’t stop you from going for it anyways if that’s what you want. There’s always an exception, and who’s to say that can’t be you?

One of the more obvious benefits of reading is that it helps us to develop our language skills and expand our vocabulary.  When we read books, (depending on the size/reading level) there’s typically 10-20 words the average reader will not know the meaning to, by reading the sentence and seeing the usage of the word; it helps to not only teach us the word — plus, if you search up the word or you encounter it later, you’re more likely to learn it quicker. Read to your children, read often, read books over and over. Read when they’re infants and too young to understand; read books filled with words that their growing minds have yet to learn. Read books that will make them ask questions, or that make you ask questions. Read to learn, and read to teach.

Read to develop your cognitive functions, and your skills of deduction. Going back briefly to the developing language skills and vocabulary; in fiction, writers tend to invent a lot of words and terminology, while it may be stinting to newer readers – or those who just don’t read often, it’s something that avid readers become more familiar with and have an easier time in understanding them. Also, in books such as mystery novels, the deduction and improved cognitive development really does play a part as you’re able to pick out the clues, hints and red herrings the author leaves along the way; creating an experience which is much more engaging and worthwhile. Especially while you’re in school, this is a vital factor. Reading often can greatly help you succeed in your education.

Entertainment. Reading is a great way to reduce boredom, allowing your imagination and creativity to flourish. While you relax and read, you allow your mind to be engaged and feel some of the many emotions that let us know we’re alive. It’s like meeting new people every time you open a new book; people that you’ll laugh at, care about, come to love — then cry over, maybe you’ll hate them for a while, grow frustrated and roll your eyes when they do or say something stupid, then come to realize how much you cared about them when they get sick, injured, or even die. Books have a way of becoming like family — the characters, our friends. They’re always there for you, and you can always visit them again; reliving past experiences, going through the same emotions as before. They’ll never leave, or change and become people that you no longer recognize. Characters remain the same fascinating people they were when you first met them, they develop and grow the same ways they did the first time you read their story. They are an escape, they are there to be used, and they are there to prove your insight into yourself, as well as into others.

Our mind creates these vast worlds for us to see with the help of books, it gives us a chance for insight… Why do we read? What do we get from it? There isn’t one firm answer to these questions, but for every page that’s read, for every adventure spanning hundreds of pages, there will always be something for you. A lifelong friend, something to curl up with on the couch for comfort, to show us even in the darkest of moments that there is hope, and there is always more to be discovered.

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