Book Reviews, Books and Me

ARC Review: Wardens of Archos by Sarina Langer

book-review

Wardens of Archos (Relics of Ar’Zac #2)  by Sarina Langer 4.5/5

6tag_081017-065905Once a despised street rat, now the reigning queen of Rifarne, Rachael is at the centre of everyone’s attention. All she wants is a few peaceful moments to herself—

but her kingdom has other plans.

The Tramuran ambassador unnerves her.

The Krymistian lady is hiding something.

A Mist Woman brings her a gift, and a warning: Aeron’s death has released the Dark One’s shades into the world. And Rachael, as the only living seer in existence, is the only one who can stop him before he destroys everything she’s beginning to cherish. But can Rachael trust the Mist Woman, or is Kaida just another sorceress playing with her life?

There’s a chance that answers are hidden beneath the ancient Krymistian ruins of Archos.

If only she could be sure that her nightmares of Cephy are just that, and not something darker…

Rachael is running out of time. The shadows are coming, and their claws are reaching for her.

Thank you to the author for providing me with an ARC copy.

Review:

Langer is back with a bang. I have been patiently anticipating book two after devouring book one. Rachael finds herself dealing with her new role as queen, assassins, prophecy, dark magic, and awkwardness with Cale. I loved the awkwardness, it only heightened my need for them to grow and strengthen their relationship in the long run. I was a sucker for their relationship dynamic in book one, and book two played on that beautifully.

The world building is brilliant, and Langer’s writing style is incredibly visual. I could easily picture battles, the differing Kingdoms, and most importantly, those relentless Mothers. I was not left wanting in all things fantastical.

The relationship dynamics between Rachael and the sub characters were fresh and raw. Not knowing who to trust, following her gut, and developing friendships despite her self-doubt added more depth to the narrative. Kaida was a fast favourite of mine, despite Rachael’s frequent misgivings. I’m also intrigued by Reeve. More from him in book three, please.

There was a little repetition toward the start of the book, but I understand the purpose was to bring elements of book one forward to refresh the reader’s memory. The ending was brilliantly paced, and I was highly impressed with the revelation that I didn’t see coming, but upon looking back, I realised the clues were there all along.


The opinions expressed here are those of K.J.Chapman and no other parties

All books reviewed on this blog have been read by K.J.Chapman

K.J.Chapman has not been paid for this review

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Guest Post

Guest Post: Katie Masters on Creating Well Rounded Antagonists

book review

I am joined today by the talented author, Katie Masters. Katie is here to offer some tips on creating well rounded antagonists, because us writers and readers know there is nothing worse than a flat, two-dimensional antagonist to see a story fall on its face.

So, give yourself a five minute break and settle down with a mug of something hot. Over to you, Katie.


Creating the Perfect Bad Guy

(who doesn’t wear leather or own a death-ray)

Hello fellow writers! When K.J. asked if I wanted to write about creating a well-rounded antagonist (that’s a fancy-shmancy snoody writer term for a Bad Guy/Villain if you didn’t know. PROtagonist is the main character), I obviously said yes. Because if there’s one thing I love more than ignoring the sensible advice I get, it’s giving it! So strap yourselves in, set your phasers to snark and grab a drink, because today you’re all learning how to make GOOD bad guys!

When a writer—but let’s just say ‘you’, because we all know this’s about you—decides to create a story we’re given 3 options for an antagonist, that horrible thing that is stopping your hero/heroine from achieving glory, love, or an awesome dinner.

Inner demons (aka you’re your own worst enemy)
External forces (aka that damn mountain’s keep you from getting to your beloved cheeseburger)
Actual Person (aka your leather wearing, death ray carrying, changed his named to Butch or Xeno bad guy. Consequently, could also be that bitch Veronica in the office who just took the last donut)

Today we’re going to focus on an Actual Person, because honestly, trying to tell you about the challenge and intricacies of an evil mountain’s thought processes would take eons. And we don’t have the attention span for that right now.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but our readers have become more savvy. They want meat, they want blood, the want *gasp* depth. Gone is the mad scientist with a death ray who wants to take over the world for no reason other than ‘because’ who monologues about his master plan for ten minutes. Readers want to know the how and why of the bad guy. They want to understand. Which means you the writer have to know the reasons.

I know. That means more effort and the using of brain cells. I’m sorry. Keep drinking.

Creating a well-rounded antagonist requires, first and foremost, a background story. None of the backstory may come out in the book. Perhaps only a fraction of it will. But if your book becomes a best seller and you go to a Con to face your adoring fans who then want to know what your bad guy’s home life was like—you better know!

Your bad guy (whether a mild one or a truly evil one) needs motive, and for a motive, they need a past. His/Her family life, friendships, social status, and even hometown, all drastically shape the perceptions they have about the world, and themselves. And you need to know all of it.

What I consider a ‘well-rounded human antagonist’ is one in which we can understand why they came to be what they are, but still perceive them as ‘the bad guy.’ Said ‘bad guy’ doesn’t have to want to take over the world or murder someone or take a love interest away. An antagonist is ANYONE who stands in the way of, or thwarts, your main character’s goal.

FOR EXAMPLE: Meet Cindy.

(This is Cindy. Say hi!)

Cindy is in accounting with our protagonist, Betty-Lou (that’s right, I named her Betty-Lou. Deal with it). Betty-Lou and Cindy get along just fine. Until one day an announcement goes up that a new manager position has come up and both Betty-Lou and Cindy are both qualified to apply.

Cindy, who was once just a fellow co-worker is now doing underhanded things to get that job. Mean, antagonist things. Spreading horrible rumors, putting salt in Betty-Lou’s coffee cup, misplacing documents Betty-Lou has to turn in, taking unflattering pictures of Betty-Lou at the company party so Trisha doesn’t ask her on a date…you get the picture.

‘What a bitch!’ you think. Betty-Lou thinks so too. Except what you both don’t know is that Cindy needs the promotion so that she can pay for a medical treatment for her son. She will do ANYTHING to get that promotion and money. So is she really a bad guy? Sure. She’s going about this the wrong way and ruining your wonderful protagonist’s life and love chances! But you sympathize. You don’t like what she’s doing, but you at least understand why.

I think in this day and age of writing, understanding the bad guy is ultimately human (or Klingon, or whatever), and that there are infinite shades of gray in the definition of ‘bad guy’, is important. You don’t have to make them likable, but you have to make them and their reasons understandable. So here’s some tips on how to do that. And no, I didn’t put them in order of importance because I’m fair like that!

1. Write a summary of the Antagonist’s past. Where did they live? Do they have siblings? One parent or two? A suburb or the city? Vegetarian or om-nom-nomnivore?

2. Write their likes and dislikes. It doesn’t have to be an extensive list. But try and get in their head. Do they like movies or concerts? Do they watch YouTube? Do they like the color pink and wear the color on their person every day?

3. Write a scene in your antagonist’s point of view. It doesn’t have to make it into the book. It’s not as hard as you think. The thing that makes writers so unique is our ability to generally be sympathetic because we naturally (in general) tend to put ourselves in other people’s shoes and see their point of view. Do the same for your antagonist.

4. Use pictures and make them a profile. Now, this advice comes back from my time as a former artist, but I find I do this when I’m creating characters too. Find a picture on the internet that looks like how you imagine your antagonist then write below (or next to) it, their likes/dislikes, their height and weight, and then their ‘bio’. That’s where you put the summary I told you to writer up there in tip one. See how helpful I am!? Less work to do down here!

Well you’ve made it! Congratulations! I’m sure you’ve refilled your cups half a dozen times at this point, and you’re a real trooper for making it this far! At the end of the day, your antagonist is as important as your main character—sometimes more so, because they have a very important role: to make your character change. So make sure that your antagonist gets the same amount of treatment at your main characters.


KatieMastersKatie Masters’ books include Brenna Morgan and the Iron Key, and The Bone Dancer.

I’ve been making up stories since I could talk, writing them since I learned how to properly put words together, and when I’m not doing that, I’m reading obscene  amounts of books, manga, and comics. Sorta in that order. 

Where to find Katie and her books:

Brenna Morgan and the Iron Key: Book One

The Bone Dancer: Novella

Blog

Instagram

Twitter

Youtube


Permission to use the content featured in this post must be sought from the author, Katie Masters.

Writing and Me

Update 03/10/17

book-review8

Last month, I was relieved to be able to get back to editing after an unproductive summer. This month, I’ve been lazy. I am literally a writing sloth at the moment. In fact, I’m just a sloth in every aspect of life. You know what? I’m not even ashamed.

EVO Ghost

I’m about 60% through the structural edit. I wanted to be finished with this edit, well into the line edits, and much closer to finalising a release date. If I release this year, I’ll be surprised… extremely surprised.

However, here’s what I have been listening to when I have sat my bum down to edit. This song could have been written as the EVO Nation theme song!

Zombie Playlist Paperback

The end of September goal would have been realistic if I did any formatting. In truth, I haven’t even opened the file this month. There’s always October.

On a different note, Zombie Playlist is on a price promotion from the 5th until the 12th. Get your ecopy for 99p.

Social Media

You know those months where you can’t be assed with the internet? I had that month. Instagram in particular was annoying me. I gave up on my September reading challenges because it felt like it was becoming a chore. I have over ten tags to catch up on, and other than blog related posts, I haven’t been actively posting like I normally do. I’m sure a break from daily posting will help. I’m quite happy to sit back and peruse everyone else’s posts.

Blog Guest Posts

The guest posts are the highlight of my September. Did you catch the posts by Dana Fraedrich and Faith Rivens? If you need advice on world building or beating procrastination, then follow these links:

Dana Fraedrich on World Building.

Faith Rivens on Beating Procrastination.

Katie Masters is stopping by on Friday to offer some tips on creating well rounded antagonists, and Sarina Langer is joining me on Friday 22nd to educate us in all things bullet journals. Keep your eyes peeled.

What’s Next?

Next, I do everything I didn’t do last month… or at least attempt to. There’s a lot going on at the moment, and juggling everything is hard. Even finding reading time is proving difficult. Who knows? Maybe I’ll have a sudden surge of motivation.

I hope you all have a productive month whatever your goals may be.


Content belongs to K.J.Chapman

Book Reviews, Books and Me

Review: Out of the Shadows by Dana Fraedrich

book-review

Out of the Shadows by Dana Fraedrich 4.5/5

6tag_011017-072256When the Allens rescue Lenore from certain torment, she’s offered a new life, a life that can save her from the underworld of crime in which she’s forced to live. The universe is keeping score, however, and Lenore isn’t the only one caught in this web of debt. Can she truly escape her past when it comes to find her or will she be drawn back into the darkness?

Homeless, orphaned, living in secret as a thief–Lenore Crowley just wants to survive, but the city of Springhaven has no sympathy for cases such as hers. She chose her path, and the consequences are hers alone. Being caught would mean certain death; her odds of survival are beginning to look bleak. When she meets the Allens, she’s offered a new life. In a world where debts and oaths carry very real weight, however, this second chance comes at a price. Lives entangle, and Lenore soon find that her secrets aren’t so secret. Someone is looking for her, someone who knows who she really is. One wrong move and everything around her might fall.

Review:

Steampunk is not usually my genre of choice, but after reading Jay Kristoff’s Stormdancer, I jumped at the chance to read Dana Fraedrich’s Out of the Shadows. Fraedrich’s worldbuilding is extensive. The world of enforcers, thieves, magic, oaths, the old world- new world dynamic, and the society, is carefully woven together to bring a strong visual and emotional element to the reader.

The characters were well-rounded and distinctive. Rook was the character to keep me intrigued, even more so than mysterious Kieran. No spoilers, but I like me some Rook. Lenore’s character had that anxious, never fully relaxed edge to her that suited her personality and circumstance brilliantly.

Fraedrich’s prose is smooth and easy to read. Questions are answered, and then more are peppered into the plot. I enjoy reads that don’t give everything away in one swoop. The sub plots running alongside Lenore’s main narrative were subtly guided along without hindering the reading experience. The pacing at the start was a little slow, and it took me a while to get into the meat of the story, but once you’re in, the pace picks up, and you’re sucked into Lenore’s world.

Do you like steampunk, strong main characters, and fabulous worldbuilding? Then, this is the book for you.


The opinions expressed here are those of K.J.Chapman and no other parties

All books reviewed on this blog have been read by K.J.Chapman

K.J.Chapman has not been paid for this review