Tag Archives: Fantasy

My Writing Process – Blog Hop

I was tagged by author Joanne Hall – www.hierath.wordpress.com – to partake in My Writing Process Blog Hop! Here’s my effort!


What am I working on?

At the moment I’m trying to complete the first draft of The Sinner’s Daughter, which is a follow on story from The Reluctant Prophet. It’s nearly finished, maybe another 20 – 30k and that draft will finally be complete. I’m also starting to draw up a draft of the third book in the series, as well as tinkering with a post-apocalyptic work set in Ireland. I wish there were more hours in the day for writing! (Sigh)

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

It’s a difficult one because some of its themes you would see in other books, though I hope my own take on these themes are different. My works, though fantasy based, don’t draw heavily on magic or wonderful and imaginative creatures. My stories are character based and focus a lot on the inner workings and development, but that’s not to say I wouldn’t have the other themes in my books. The books I’m currently working on are based in first-person and from a female perspective. I’m hoping I am able to portray they characters as strong women, despite the fact they are not warriors who can kiss ass. Hopefully that makes my books differ from other works of its genre.   

Why do I write what I write?

I tend to write stories that capture my own imagination and for the most part, fantasy had been the strongest influence on my own writing. I also have a lot of ideas that aren’t related to the fantasy genre, but for the most part, fantasy based books encourage my own imagination the most and I like losing myself in different worlds and places when I write.

How does your writing process work?

I am not a person who organises their writing with plans, although I have tried very unsuccessfully to do that. I like letting my mind roam and see where the story goes. When I’m writing I might have some ideas fleshed out in my head, but I have no idea what journey might be involved in the characters getting to that point. So I guess I’m a pantser in that respect.

I also spend a lot of time re-reading my draft as I go along, especially if I’m feeling stuck at a certain point. It gives me time to think over the story and link the threads together. One thing I love to plan is the map for the book, as imagining the scenes and places grounds a lot of the ideas for me as I’m drawing it up.

I wish I could say that I’m strict with myself and can write a certain amount of words a day, but I tend to have 0k days and then a 5k splurge another. A true pantser then! 🙂


And as a finale, I get to tag a few authors now to hop along this blog! Good luck!


Dean Lombardo – http://authordeanlombardo.wordpress.com/

C.N Lesley – http://cnlesley.com/

Emma L Clapperton – http://emmalclapperton.wordpress.com/

Jane Dougherty – http://janedougherty.wordpress.com/ 




I’ve been fortunate enough to be getting some great reviews on Goodreads. To celebrate this fact, I’ve decided to put up 3 signed copies of The Reluctant Prophet for a Goodreads Giveaway. Some lucky soul will have the chance to win a book and signed postcards. There’s only nine days left before the competition closes, so if you like your fantasy dark and a little bitter, follow the link and enter for a chance of a freebie! Good luck readers!


The Reluctant Prophet by Gillian O'Rourke 

There’s none so blind as she who can see . . .

Esther is blessed, and cursed, with a rare gift: the ability to see the fates of those around her. But when she escapes her peasant upbringing to become a priestess of the Order, she begins to realise how valuable her ability is among the power-hungry nobility, and what they are willing to do to possess it.

Haunted by the dark man of her father’s warnings, and unable to see her own destiny, Esther is betrayed by those sworn to protect her. With eyes newly open to the harsh realities of her world, she embarks on a path that diverges from the plan the Gods have laid out. Now she must choose between sacrificing her own heart’s blood, and risking a future that will turn the lands against each other in bloody war.

The Reluctant Prophet is the story of one woman who holds the fate of the world in her hands, when all she wishes for is a glimpse of her own happiness.

The Reluctant Prophet

I decided to have a little fun this evening and created a little video for my novel, The Reluctant Prophet! You can check it out below if you like – I’m pretty happy with the results, although I don’t think I’ll be a movie director any time soon! Thank you to Elizabeth Hull (author otherwise known as C.N. Lesley) for introducing me to the idea.

The Reluctant Prophet.

Aiyana Jackson: Steampunk and Fantasy Author

Today, I welcome Steampunk and Fantasy author, Aiyana Jackson, to my blog. The intriguing Aiyana answers some of my questions regarding her works and the genres she writes in. Her novella, Encante was released this month and personally, it’s a book I look forward to reading!

Aiyana, can you give us a little history about your writing and how you came to write steampunk and fantasy?

I began writing fantasy years ago, when I was still in my very early teens, mainly I think out of a need for a creative outlet. I read a lot of fantasy and science fiction novels and also watched a lot of films and television in the same genres. I was a typical teen, basically, but socially very awkward. I had trouble making friends as I moved around a lot and (sad as it sounds) the characters in my favourite books—in particular the works of Robin Hobb—became more like friends to me than my actual peers. Consequently I grew up with a rather amusing sense of style and conversation, which a lot of people failed to understand. I immersed myself in fantastical and made up worlds and, as I got older and realised I was quite good at writing, I began to create new worlds and characters of my own. That, I think, was when I started to gain a little more confidence in myself; I stopped feeling like such a loner because I could literally create as many friends as I wanted.

Once I hit college and university I soon found there were a lot of people who were like me, who enjoyed the same sort of things I did, and who actually understood what I was talking about. It was somewhat of a revelation. I never stopped writing though, in fact if anything the more I realised there were people who could understand that side of me the more I indulged it. I spend almost every spare second writing now, it’s the one thing I’m truly passionate about, and it doesn’t seem to matter what else is going on it’s always an escape. I had quite a rough time of it growing up and I think that’s what really drew me to fantasy, the escapism.

Steampunk is something I first became interested in when Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy came out. I was about twelve, I think, when I read Northern Lights and it just stuck with me. I read voraciously by that point and, as we had the internet, was also able to start looking up the aspects of novels I enjoyed and beginning to understand more about them. There wasn’t really a great deal ‘out there’ about Steampunk at that time (c.1996), or at least if there was I didn’t pick up on it. It wasn’t until my late teens I really started to understand that this was an actual genre, and not just a few cool books that had things in common. Once I did I devoured anything and everything I could find. James P. Blaylock’s Homunculus is the first thing I recall purposefully buying as ‘Steampunk’, that was when I was about sixteen. It was a while before I began writing in the genre. Unlike fantasy truly good Steampunk novels are few and far between, and so it took me considerably longer to get a real feel for it than I had Fantasy. Encante isn’t the first Steampunk story I’ve written, but there weren’t many before it, and it is the longest so far.


Your novella, Encante, was released this month. Can you tell us about the novella and what inspired you to write it?

It was very heavily inspired by Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. I’ve always been a fan of the classic authors like Verne and H.G. Wells, but again they were stories I never thought of as Steampunk when I first read them, as that was in the time before I knew Steampunk existed. I began writing it after a friend of mine, who runs Kristell Ink Publishing invited me to write a piece for their first anthology, which was to be Steampunk. I was delighted, and set to it immediately. At the time I’d just bought the beautiful Barnes and Noble leather-bound edition of the complete works of Verne and was half way through re-reading them. The notion of a hollow earth has always fascinated me, and I have also always had a great love of mermaids, in their various guises, including of course the Hans Christian Anderson tale. I decided to explore both notions in a single story. The concept however, ran away from me a little (a problem I often have) and the story ended up being far too long to be included in the anthology. I was given the option of cutting it down, but it would have meant losing about fifteen thousand words out of what was then a twenty-five thousand word story, and I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Instead it was shelved. I had been working on a steampunk novel before being asked to participate in the anthology and, coincidentally, both story-worlds utilised portal devices which were relatively similar. I decided to tweak the original short slightly and expand upon it some more, so that I could include it, and its characters, in the world of the novel.

(The beautiful cover for Aiyana’s novella, Encante)

Is Encante a part of a series or is it a standalone work?

Encante is the first in a series called The Fifteen Solars. At present there are four planned novellas and at least one novel in this series. The novel, Soul of Avarice, was actually the first to be written, but the world in which it is set is extremely complicated, involving a very large cast of characters all with their own unique and very interesting backstories. Rather than have pages and pages of long exposition to explain this, I decided to write a few separate, but overlapping, shorter novels which introduced various worlds and characters in the story-universe. Soul of Avarice itself is still nowhere near finished and already a very long novel, so I suspect it will be split into two, or possibly even three, making a trilogy.


As a lot of steampunk novels have elements of magic/machinery/science in a Victorian-style era, was there a lot of research involved in respects to writing Encante? 

In some respects yes. In others, not nearly as much as you would expect. I think I actually spent more time researching submarines and the various practicalities and realities of life aboard them than I did anything else. Obviously, the Narwhal (the submarine in Encante) is a fantasy submarine, and as such it isn’t written as accurately as it would have been were I writing historical fiction, I still wanted to ensure I got the basics of life aboard a submersible correct. The one notion that really fascinated me, and became quite pivotal to the plot, was the fact that a sub could take on only so much air and would therefore be able to dive for a finite amount of time before needing to re-surface and take on more, rather like a whale.

There were many other aspects of the plot that required some research, but due to the amount of novels I’ve read myself in this genre, and the fact that I have an interest in history also, I didn’t actually need to do a vast amount of research, as I’d already read a lot on the era. There are certain things you find you have to check while writing, odd things, like the correct word for a certain item of clothing, or how they referred to a sofa. The one thing I did do a lot of research on was language and slang, as I wanted to give them a relatively accurate manner of speech for the time.

Are there any authors in particular you find have inspired or influenced your own writing?

Robin Hobb is, without doubt, the greatest influence on my own work. I am a huge fan of her work and have read all her books countless times. China Mieville is another great inspiration to me, although I’m not sure he has necessarily influenced my style of writing so much. I think it is likely that people have had far more influence on me than I realise, and it would take someone else reading my work to say ‘yes, you can tell she’s read such a person’. Philip Pullman, Neil Gaiman and of course Terry Pratchett had a large hand in the way I think about fiction, and there are a score of other authors I admire and respect who probably deserve mention too.

I write almost exclusively in the first person and that, I believe, is a direct result of Robin Hobb’s Farseer books, which are written in the first person, and the extent to which I fell in love with Fitz, the main character. That way of writing, that manner of totally immersing your reader in your character to the point where you almost feel as if you are that character yourself, was something I tried to emulate from a very early age.

What are some of your favourite novels? Can you tell us why you love them so much?

My favourite novels of all time are, without doubt, Robin Hobb’s Farseer Trilogy and Tawny Man Trilogy. I love the Liveship Traders books and Rain Wild Chronicles too, but the books about Fitz and the Fool have been my favourites since I was sixteen. I re-read them all at least once a year and I was beyond delighted when she announced she was writing a third trilogy about those characters, as it was always a story left unfinished, I suspect because she always had the final series in mind. I believe the reason I love these books so much is because you come to know Fitz so well that you love him, you truly understand him, and yet he is a very damaged, very flawed character. He makes a lot of questionable decisions and does a lot of things you’re not quite sure sit right on your conscience, yet you know he did the right thing, because there was no other thing he could have done in that situation. It takes phenomenal skill to write like that. It takes a tremendous character and a perfectly constructed world to allow such a feeling to take over you as you read. I will never get tired of reading those books.

Can you give us a brief on what you are currently working on? What are your works-in-progress about?

Oh, there are so many! The main one at present is a short story I’m working on for a forthcoming anthology, All The Night-Tide. The concept for the anthology was to base each of the stories on a poem by Edgar Allan Poe but transform it into a Steampunk story. I’m really enjoying writing it, but at present haven’t quite found its title. I’m almost finished on the final draft of Honour, the next novella in The Fifteen Solars series and I’m also working on books three and four, as well as Soul of Avarice.

Those are all steampunk titles, however I do also have a fantasy novel in the works, in the early stages at the moment, called Briar. That’s a strange one to try and explain because the entire concept came to me from a photograph. I’m a huge fan of the photographer Kirsty Mitchell (http://www.kirstymitchellphotography.com/), and when her Wonderland series first came out, I was looking through all the wonderful pieces and there was this one image that just jumped up at me. I’m not sure what it was about it, as they’re all stunning photographs, but there’s something about this one that really captured my every possible sense and filled me with this whole world of possibilities. I’ve never had that happen with a book before, it’s always started with an idea and then I’ve built it up from there, but this one, it was just WHAM, fully former book in my head just from looking at this photograph.


Honour and the remaining two novellas will be out next year, while Soul of Avarice (or more likely the first part of Soul of Avarice) will be out in 2015. As far as Briar goes, I’m afraid I have no idea when you can expect to see that yet.

And finally, for anyone who is interested in writing, have you any advice for them? Is there anything in your experience that you’ve found invaluable and might be of help to others?

I think it’s important not to underestimate the need for feedback. A lot of people start writing and keep it all to themselves because they either don’t have confidence in it, or they think it’s already great and they don’t need hear other people’s opinions. I say the opposite is true, you should get as many opinions as you can, from as many different people as you can. Make sure you keep an open mind to their feedback. Some will be helpful, some won’t, and some will be worth its weight in gold. Never get annoyed with people for their opinion, even if their opinion is that your story is terrible: it’s their opinion, they’re entitled to it. It doesn’t necessarily mean your story is bad, it may mean it just wasn’t to that person’s taste. It may also mean it needs a lot of work. If it’s the latter, don’t give up. The thing we forget, when reading all these wonderful books we buy in WHSmiths and Waterstones, is that we never read the first draft of them. We read the final, drafted, re-drafted a few hundred times more, edited, polished, re-edited, proofed version. If we read the first draft, we’d be asking for our money back. That is true of almost all authors, even the best. Develop a hide like an alligator, or a rhinoceros, something with very thick skin, and resign yourself to the fact that you will have to draft, and redraft, and continue to do this for a very long time before anything is even remotely good enough to consider submitting it to agents or publishers. This is a mistake a lot of people make, and it’s a bad one. They submit something that is essentially a first draft, and get nothing but form rejections and very bad feedback. Even good drafts get rejected 90% of the time. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot!

Many thanks to Aiyana for coming ‘on board’ and sharing her thoughts about writing and her works, and for the snippets of advice and wisdom for authors hoping to follow their dream of being an author.

For more information about Aiyana and her novella, follow the links below.


Synposis and Info for Encante:


Deep under the ocean, Simeon Escher, protégé to the leader of the order of Loth Lörion, finds himself an unexpected guest aboard the submersible, Narwhal. Home to a crew of humans, and strange mer-folk few people are aware exist, Simeon is swept up in their quest to find a world within a world, a possible safe haven from the insidious reach of the Kabbalah. Yet how can he think about his mission when the captain’s niece fills his every thought, distracting him from all that’s important to him, including his own fiancé.

Encante is the first in a new Steampunk series, set in a multiverse known as The Fifteen Solars. For those of you who don’t know what a multiverse is, put simply it is a Universe in which there are several worlds existing in the same point in space and time, but they run parallel to each other. Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy is probably the most well recognised example. The Fifteen Solars is so named due to the fact there are fifteen planets existing in parallel, each very different from the next, but all connected. The inhabitants of these worlds have not yet mastered space travel, and so for the most part the adventure is contained to their own respective worlds. They do however have the means to travel from one parallel world to the next and, consequently, the events and politics of all fifteen planets have become intertwined. As the series unfolds however it will become clear that there is far more at work, and the reasons for these worlds existing as they do is much more complex than simple happenstance.

Encante serves as an introduction to one of these parallel worlds, as well as offering more than a few hints as to what is happening in the wider multiverse, and how the series will unfold. It is a self-contained story in the most traditional Steampunk style, heavily inspired by Jules Vernes’ 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, it is a blending of mermaid folk-lore, Victorian-esque costume values, and the technological quirks that make the Steampunk genre so beloved. It is a tale of romance, of adventure, and of prejudicial values in a seemingly idyllic society. Some of the characters will recur in later books in the series.

There are currently three additional novellas planned to follow Encante, two to be released in 2014, the final to follow in 2015. There will also be at least one full length novel following these. The second novella, Honour, is currently slated for release at the end of March next year, and while the additional two novellas are as yet untitled, I can reveal that the novel shall be titled Soul of Avarice.

Purchase Links:

Amazon UK:


Amazon US:


Giveaway on Goodreads

To mark the fact that I have a book published and that I’m still in a celebratory mode, I am running a GIVEAWAY on Goodreads! Three signed copies of my fantasy novel, The Reluctant Prophet, are available for three lucky readers! The competition is running until the 8th of December, which I hope gives me plenty of time to get the books posted out the to winners before Christmas. It might be a nice read if you happen to have some time off over the holidays. To whet your appetite, I’ve posted the blurb below and links to the Giveaway on the Goodreads site. Good Luck everyone!




There’s none so blind as she who can see . . .
Esther is blessed, and cursed, with a rare gift: the ability to see the fates of those around her. But when she escapes her peasant upbringing to become a priestess of the Order, she begins to realise how valuable her ability is among the power-hungry nobility, and what they are willing to do to possess it.
Haunted by the dark man of her father’s warnings, and unable to see her own destiny, Esther is betrayed by those sworn to protect her. With eyes newly open to the harsh realities of her world, she embarks on a path that diverges from the plan the Gods have laid out. Now she must choose between sacrificing her own heart’s blood, and risking a future that will turn the lands against each other in bloody war.
The Reluctant Prophet is the story of one woman who holds the fate of the world in her hands, when all she wishes for is a glimpse of her own happiness.



Author Joanne Hall and the Bristol Con.

The talented and all round lovely Joanne Hall, author of the fantasy epic, Art of Forgetting: Rider, answers some of my questions regarding the Sci-Fi/Fantasy Convention being held on the 26th of October 2013 in Bristol.

  Author and Chair of the Bristol Con, Joanne Hall.

For someone like me, who has never been to a Sci-Fi/Fantasy Convention, what can someone expect going to the Bristol Con?

BristolCon is a fairly compact SF/F convention – we usually have around 250 people, so it’s small enough to be friendly. There are really two sorts of conventions; there are the big media conventions like DragonCon or MCM Expo, where the focus is very much on cosplay and events with TV and film celebrities, and then there are smaller, more intimate conventions like Wiscon, where the focus is more on reading and writing and speculative fiction. BristolCon falls into the second camp. There are panel discussions and individual presentations on subjects of geeky and writerly interest (this year, for example, we have “How to poop on a Fantasy Universe and Other Grubby Goings On”  and “How Humans are Biologically Weird”, to name but two) We also have an art room, a dealer room full of creative people, live music, a very hard quiz, kaffeeklatsches (small meetings of no more than ten people with a famous author, over coffee) etc. It’s a chance to spend the day hanging out with like-minded people talking nerdy and having a few pints!


In what capacity do you work at the Bristol Con? How many years has it been up and running?

I’m the chair, which means I get to boss the rest of the committee about and make sure everything’s running smoothly, and catch any dropped balls along the way. We’ve been doing it for five years now; the first year we ran for an afternoon and had sixty people, so it’s grown a bit since then.


What’s involved in getting the Con ready?

We start organising next years con even before this years has taken place, by approaching the people we’d like to be Guests of Honour next year (I could tell you who they are, but then I’d have to kill you…) Then we spend the next few months encouraging interesting potential panellists to sign up. I should explain that with smaller fan-run conventions everyone except the Guests of Honour pays an entry fee, even the hard-working committee. Then once we have loads of signups, as well as dealers and artists, about three months before the con the committee come together and toss around ideas for panels until we have about twenty-five potential panels. Then Meg, our supreme programme wrangler, sends the panel suggestions out to the people who have expressed an interest in being on panels, and they pick the ones they most want to be on. This ensures that people only end up doing the panels they are really interested in appearing on. Then we take the most popular 14-15 panels and build the programme around them. The programme is almost the last thing we do, only a few weeks before the big day.

There are a million other things to do as well, but BristolCon has a great committee and after five years we’re beginning to get the hang of the small stuff!


Who’s involved in this years’ Con? Can you drop us a few names?

Our Guests of Honour this year are Storm Constantine (Chronicles of the Wreaththu), and Philip Reeve (Mortal Engines), and our artist GOH is Mark Buckingham, who draws Fables and has worked on Sandman.

We always try and involve lots of local writers, such as Gareth L Powell, Emma Newman and Lou Morgan, and this year we have Mary Robinette Kowal flying in from Chicago – it was a nice surprise when she signed up!


Where in Bristol is the Convention being held?

It’s at the Hilton DoubleTree on Redcliffe Way, next to St Mary Redcliffe which is a beautiful medieval church. It’s only five minutes walk from Temple Meads Station, so it’s easy to get to from London and Birmingham.


Do people dress up? Can people expect to see Orcs, Wizards and Sci-fi heros? Or is it a more formal setting?

People haven’t tended to dress up in the past, but if people want to dress up, we’re not going to discourage them! Some of the committee do like to put on their best frocks – it adds to the sense of occasion. And we’ve had a number of people come in steampunk garb in the past. We certainly don’t discourage people from dressing up, but there’s no maskerade or costume competition like some of the bigger cons have.


What other events can people expect? Are there readings and book signings?

This year we’re launching “Looking Landwards”, an anthology of agricultural SF, and there will be readings between the panels and signings at lunchtime. Because it’s quite an informal con – there’s no green room or anything like that – most authors are happy to sign things during the day, or over a pint in the bar. It’s a really good chance to meet your favourite authors in an informal setting and find out how lovely they are!


Will you be doing a reading? If so, from which book and can you tell us a little bit about it?

I will be doing a five-minute reading after the panel I’m on (The Evolution of Genre), and I’ll be reading something from my heroic fantasy “The Art of Forgetting : Rider” but I’m not sure what yet – it’s hard to find an extract without spoilers!

  follow the link for more info on Joanne and her books.


For those interested, or wanting more info, where can they find it? (and any other relevant links!)

The first place to look would be the BristolCon website : www.bristolcon.org We also have a Facebook page, and you can follow @BristolCon on Twitter – we’re all very friendly and if you say hello we’ll say hello back!

Month of Reads – September

Ah, back to what I love to do most after writing! Reading of course! And this month isn’t so thin on the ground with my reviews, as the last couple of months were. I’ve read some cracking stories and here’s my view of those reads.

The Art of Forgetting - Rider (Book 1)

The Art of Forgetting – Rider, by Joanne Hall

Genre: Fantasy, Epic

Plot: Gifted and cursed with a unique memory, the foundling son of a notorious traitor, Rhodri joins an elite cavalry unit. There, struggling with his own memories of his father, he begins to discover a sense of belonging. Until a face from the past reveals a secret that will change not only Rhodri’s life, but the fate of a nation.

Review: Occasionally you read a story and you become immersed within the tale before you realise it. That’s what happened when I read, The Art of Forgetting. There is a lot of depth and thought put into this story and the main character, Rhodri. Although not unique to many stories, this coming of age tale explores some of the nitty-gritty of adolescence, not only about trying to find acceptance and discovering oneself, but also exploring themes involving sexuality and gender roles. These themes I found reminiscent of Lynn Flewelling’s books and writing, which is a pretty darn good thing, because I love her books!

However, these are not the only topics this book revolves around. Joanne Hall has created a richly developed world, where she has taken careful consideration of not only the majestic a fantasy world can offer, but also its flaws and political instabilities. This runs parallel to the struggles Rhodri faces even before he joins the King’s Riders, and follows him as he grows into a young man. The characters each bring their own strengths and flaws, and at times the story weaves its way heartbreakingly towards the truth: not only for Rhodri, but for his friends. I admit, I was a little teary in one scene, but I’ll say no more as I don’t want to spoil things! But it’s the little intricacies of the characters – none are perfect – and the plot, that show the author to be a master of observation.

It had a conclusion which has left me wanting more and now I can’t wait to read the next instalment.

Rating: 5 out of 5 for an honest, thought-provoking book!

Child of the Ghosts (Ghosts, #1)

Child of the Ghosts by Jonathan Moeller

Genre: Fantasy, Sword & Sorcery, Mystery

Plot: For fans of Marion Zimmer Bradley’s “Sword & Sorceress”, Tamora Pierce, Robin McKinley, and Jennifer Roberson, here is a new story of a woman’s fight against an ancient evil. When her life is torn apart by sorcery and murder, young Caina Amalas joins the Ghosts, the legendary spies and assassins of the Emperor of Nighmar. She learns the secrets of disguise and stealth, of assassination and infiltration. But even that might not be enough to save her. For the evil that destroyed her family seeks to devour the entire world…

Review: To be honest, I wasn’t overly enthusiastic coming to read this book. I have no idea why really. It had been sitting a long time in my Kindle Library, but I decided it was unfair to leave it unread. At first I was thinking my first impressions were correct, but I was utterly wrong. The more I delved into Caina’s story, the more immersed I became in it. In many ways, it is like a cleverly laid out mystery. Threads, plots and subplots are entwined into a fantasy world and poor Caina’s horrific childhood experiences mark her for something different.

After a necromancer and her mother nearly kill her, she escapes and is taken in by the Ghosts, and taught to be a nightfighter – an assassin/spy. Caina is a strong and clever character with an uncanny gift for observation. She is taught and trained in every aspect of being a nightfighter, a lot of her skills use her wiles along with her fighting prowess. I have to admit, she’s a pretty awesome character.

The story builds momentum as Caina attempts to destroy the necromancer who destroyed her life and her family, but not everything is as straightforward as it seems. There are some great adventurous moments, but occasionally I felt the world created lacked some detail. But overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this adventure and will definitely read the next in the series.

Rating: A slow smouldering 4 out of 5 stars

Awakening Foster Kelly

Awakening Foster Kelly, by Cara Rosalie Olsen

Genre: Fiction, YA

 If only a pile of wayward curls and the inability to stay on her feet were seventeen year-old Foster  Kelly’s most pressing concerns. Unfortunately, stubborn hair and clumsiness are just the tip of it. 

At the age of five when Foster is told, “You don’t belong here,” it was only a mistake, but the result is one broken heart. These four carelessly spoken words have shaped and shadowed Foster, and now—a senior at Shorecliffs High-school—she seeks the wallflower’s existence, denying herself the most casual of friendships, much too afraid that someone will see what she believes is certain: she does not belong anywhere—or with anyone. This reality would continue to suit her just fine; however . . . Love has a long-standing history of undoing broken hearts.

Like a comet, an unexpected arrival knocks Foster out of the crowded, starry sky, sending her directly into the limelight. Exposed and afraid, she will attempt to regain anonymity; but it isn’t so easy now that someone is watching. He pursues this shy enigma, confronting Foster’s deepest fears head-on, and in the process falls wholly and completely in love with her. But there is something he is not saying . . . a secret capable of certain ruin.

Either he will break her heart once and for all, or he will heal it. In the end, though, it is Foster who must decide if she is worth mending.

Review: Awakening Foster Kelly is almost like reading a dream. In many ways it feels as though its floats upon one and you wonder where the tale will take you next.

The story is centred on Foster Kelly, a seventeen-year-old shy, young woman, who has brains to burn and musical talent to boot. It is written in the first person, so the reader has a keen sense of the character, who she is and where she needs to go. It is a beautiful thing to see her character develop as the story progresses.

Now, it is a long book and I think one that takes time to read. Some might find the prose flowery and tangential at times, but I have to say, I am a fan of the poetic and I thought a lot of this was beautifully written. Only occasionally did I feel that it interrupted some of the scene flow, but overall, I loved the style and the story.

Some of the characters left me smiling, especially Emily and her twin Jake. The banter between the two and their strong personalities are at times very comical, in light of the seriousness of Foster’s character. At first I wondered where Dominic (the love interest) would fit in, especially in light of his rather horrid behaviour to start, but he begins to redeem himself as the story goes on.

There are lovely little points of interest, which keep you reading on. You want to find out the little mystery behind Dominic and it was a really pleasant surprise when I reached the end and discovered the twist. I won’t give anything away – it has to be read to be discovered!

A beautiful book.

Rating: 4 sparkling sapphire gems out of 5

Kiss of Fire (Imdalind #1)

Kiss of Fire by Rebecca Ethington

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance

Plot: Joclyn Despain has been marred by a brand on her skin. She doesn’t know why the mark appeared on her neck, but she doesn’t want anyone to see it, including her best friend Ryland, who knows everything else about her. The scar is the reason she hides herself behind baggy clothes, and won’t let the idea of kissing Ryland enter her mind, no matter how much she wants to.

The scar is the reason she is being hunted. If only she knew that she was.

If only she had known that the cursed stone her estranged father sent for her 16th birthday would trigger a change in her. Now, she is being stalked by a tall blonde man, and is miraculously throwing her high school bully ten feet in the air. Joclyn attempts to find some answers and the courage to follow her heart. When Ryland finds her scar; only he knows what it means, and who will kill her because of it.

Review: Oh, I hate it when I write a load of good reviews and then I just have to write this. Ugh!

Good Points: The writer definitely has some talent and can write.

Bad Points: I just felt I was reading another twilight or something similar. Nothing about this felt original or different and there were times when I just had to sigh. And I hate that, because I want to love everything I read. I’m not even going to go on, I know some people will love it, but honestly, it was not for me.

Rating: Very sad 2 out of 5 (and I’m being generous, because I feel guilty)