Man, where to start? These past few months have been crazy and it's thrown me off from posting. I was first thrown off because of Robin Willam's death. I had met him once in my home town and ever since he's been a source of inspiration for me. So his loss hit me really hard. I couldn't even muster up a RIP or tribute post.
Then when I was getting over the loss I just started to get busy with my main job and helping other indie authors like myself and I completely forgot about my blog. Not that surprising though. I had been skeptical about starting a blog because I was sure I wouldn't be able to make constant posts. It was why I was so hesitant to start using twitter. Well one of the reasons. The other is that I don't like their limited character posting amount.
So I'm going to try to blog more just like I've managed to tweet more on twitter but I can't promise anything.
Now on to more happy notes. I'm hip deep into editing/improving book 2 of the Experimental Heart series. Sound fun right? No? Yeah, that's what I thought. It is sort of fun, but mostly just tedious. I'm already on the 5th draft and I'm sure there will be more to come. Especially since I just added in a whole new chapter to the whole thing. That was a bit of a mess!
I had projected the book to be out late November like the first book, but sadly this doesn't appear to be feasible. Between these latest edits and some recent unfortunate financial hits I'll probably have to push back the release date since I don't believe I'll be able to hire both my editor and my book cover illustrator back to back. One of those unfortunate situation when being an indie author, but that's the risk we take for not wanting to be told what to do by a big publisher.
Book 3 on the other hand is coming along great! I'm nearly finished with the first draft and I'm excited and a little bummed. Obviously I'm excited because this story is closing and I can share it with you all. I'm bummed because it's been my project for over 6 years now. It's scary to actually give it up. Of course that doesn't mean I'm done with the world or the characters (hint, hint everyone) but Eira's main story will be coming to a close and if anyone has ever spoken to me about how I feel about Eira they'll know how hard it is for me to end this story.
The ending of the book has taken a drastic change. It wasn't intentional but as I developed the characters I realized certain events wouldn't happen correctly because of how the characters are now compared to when I started them before writing the books. That's the funny thing about writing. You can have a clear goal and then you change it because you think of something better or you change a character in such a small way it throws everything off. I'm pretty sure this new ending is better than the one I had planned. They're similar, but still different.
Now to tell you all about one of the recent books I've become obsessed with...
I recently finished a fantasy book called The Ruins on Stone Hill. This book is the first in the Heroes of Ravenford series by F.P. Spirit and is an amazing book! It's a Ya fantasy and the fact I love it is saying something for this author. For those who don't know, I'm not a particular fan of the YA genre. Most of the time it's too generic with the protagonist is some ordinary kid that suddenly is thrown into some epic fight or quest and learns he has secret powers or abilities and becomes some hero. Of course this isn't what all YA are about, but the majority of the ones I've come across and I just find that boring. F.P Spirit's book is not this kind of book and It's drawn me in so much.
I've actually been lucky enough to talk with the author and become friends with him recently and I'm lucky enough to have been asked to beta read his next installment which I'm currently in the final stages of. So happy about this! And please don't take my friendship with him as some way I'll over glorify his work or something. One thing about me is that I'm brutally honest even with family and friends. So if I didn't actually like his book(s) you wouldn't be hearing this from me.
F.P. Spirit's book is the first book to grab onto me in such a long time. It's hooked me so well I come up with quick scenarios about how I hope an event will play out and then read to find out how wrong I'll be. It's refreshing really.
I'm going to end this extremely long post but before I do, below is the summary for F.P. Spirit's book and a copy of my review. I've also placed the review under my review tab of my website. I do hope what you read gets you interested because this book deserves attention.
Please note: The review may contain spoilers. Read at your own risk.
Magic is Easy or so Glolindir thought, until he came face to face with his first live monster. Casting spells was not so simple with death breathing down his neck. His story might have ended there if not for three gifted youths: Seth, the mysterious halfling with the moves of an assassin; Lloyd, the spiritblade whose fiery swords are whirlwind-fast; and Aksel, the gnome whose very touch can heal.
Yet that was just the beginning of their adventures, for dark shadows loom over the little town of Ravenford. The townsfolk quickly turn to these newcomers, who may indeed be their only hope. From the old ruined keep southwest of town to hidden caves in the western hills, through dark tunnels, secret passages, concealed rooms and magical mirrors, they must face mythical monsters, evil creatures, and dark wizards, each more perilous than the last. Can they rise to the challenge and become the Heroes that the people of Ravenford so sorely need?
Star rating: 4/5
Wow, what a book! Where to start... I'll start by saying I'm not particularly fond of the YA genre. It's usually always the same story. Hero has ordinary, boring life and is thrown on an epic quest with new powers/skills he never knew he had and he has to stop some evil. The Ruins on Stone Hill is not that kind of book and it sucked me right in! (whew!) So major props to F.P. Spirit!
The story starts off with our heroes, Glolindir, an elven wizard, Askel, a gnome cleric (or priest if that is your preferred term), Seth, a halfling rogue who prefers to be called a ninja, and Lloyd, a human warrior who has special abilities giving him the title of Spirit Blade, setting out to make a name for themselves and over the course of this book they get thrown into more than they were bargaining for.
I really loved the characters in this book. Each of them has their own set of skills and personalities and the banter between them can get really good and funny. Glo and Lloyd being my favorites. Glo starts out thinking he knows everything. He's been practicing his spells and knowledge for a long time and after a while couldn't stand being under the wing of his mentor because he thought he knew a lot so he set out on his little adventure only to find out, he knows...nothing! Yep. Nice smack in the face for him that was really humbling for his character. This knowledge allows him to actually grow as a character and it was nice to see.
Lloyd is a big sweetheart. And I mean big. Literally. He's a really big guy! But don't let his size fool you. He's not some hardened warrior or anything. You tell him people died at the hands of some bandits and the man starts crying and wants to avenge them. He's also something called a Spirit Blade, a type of warrior with special abilities. And trust me, some of the things he can do, it pretty darn cool.
Then we have Askel. He's our little cleric who is very kind and always looking out for everyone. But looks are deceiving with him. He's basically the leader of this group. He uses hit wit to keep everyone on top of the situation and make sure they get things done. A bit weird huh? But it works.
Now we have Seth. In my eyes, and to many others, he's a rogue, but he likes being called a ninja. He's pretty agile so I can see it. He's a snarky little guy and pretty much likes to keep his feelings to himself. His past is shrouded in mystery but from what hints you get, it probably wasn't the greatest. He's actually one character I could really get myself to like much. Every now and then I started to but then he'd do a bunch of stuff that would bring him back down on my list.
Then we have the last three in this little odd group. Brundon, Delgron, and Elladan. Brundon and Delgron aren't main characters as they're just hired help, but they're hired so often I count them as being part of the group. The two of them are the best of friends and you can really see it as they interact with each other. Their friendship is really touching actually. Their personalities are also a good balance for the group. Brundon is a tracker and knows his stuff. He can give Seth a run for his money when it comes to stealth. Delgron is a warrior through and through. He's head strong and tough but he does have a few fears he likes to try to brush off as nothing. Lastly we have Elladan. He's an elven bard that arrives in the group late into the book. He's very skilled, but he's also another character I have yet to be swayed by. Some of the things he says are a bit weird and almost come off as childish. He's also always jumping to say things first in formal meetings that make it feel like he's trying to be a self appointed leader. Maybe it's just me.
What I found most interesting with the way this author wrote out these characters was that he didn't really tell us any of the ages of the characters. I usually have an issue with this but the author counters that by having each character act a certain way that you would associate with a particular age for each race. Very interesting way of going about it and I'm not going to complain.
I'm not sure where other reviewers are coming from with the whole lack of strong female characters bit. Sure, there aren't any warrior females in the group, but there are strong females. Three in particular.
The first is Lady Gracelynn. Noble and wife of the Baron of Ravenford she has a duty to her people. She has to be political and kind and think of her people before herself. She has to support her husband when things get a little tough for even him. She has an iron will that is encased in a noblewoman's body. There is nothing weak about her.
There is also nothing weak about her daughter, Andrella. Sure she's a sheltered girl, but she has this noble path thrust upon her. She may have the ability to choose who she marries (with the approval of her parents) but she still has duties she needs to uphold and she faces them head on. Not many would be willing to sacrifice their own wants for others. I know if I was born in her shoes, I'd run off and try to be my own person and focus on my own wants.
Finally we have the barmaid Kailay and, man, what a woman she is. This girl knows what she wants, or more specifically, who she wants. Lloyd. She is not shy and is very open that she's interested in him. She uses her femininity to her advantage and outright kisses the man after only knowing him for maybe two days. That's gutsy! Lloyd is also the only male character she flirts with. She's kind to the others but she's not flirting just for the attention to get extra tips.
Just because a character isn't physically strong, doesn't make them weak. There is more to strength than that. It takes a strong will and state of mind to overcome difficult obstacles. It takes strength in believing and accepting on one's self to be able to go down your chosen path. Without that will, you can't accomplish anything, not matter how physically strong you are.
To add to all this, many of the male characters have "feminine" traits. Lloyd and Glo are good examples. They wear their hearts on their sleeves. Lloyd nearly came to tears on more than one occasion and to most "man standards" that would make him less of a man and weak. Even the Baron of Ravenford wasn't afraid to show a softer side of him during time of reminisce. His wife, Lady Gracelynn, would have to help him sometimes.
Now, while I really liked this book there were a few things I had difficulty with that resulted in my one star reduction. My first thing had to do with the formatting. Particularly the font size and extra spacing between paragraphs. The font was too small for my liking. It made it hard for me to want to read sometimes because my eyes tired quickly. This also ties into the extra spacing. I'm not really sure the purpose of it, maybe to offset the small font, but it was a bit annoying to look at and deal with. I really think the book could have benefited from large font and removal of all that extra spacing.
Another problem I had was a lack of explanation on some of the creature types. This book is very DnD inspired but with that came creatures that aren't always used in a lot of fantasy books and not all of them had enough description about them to be able to follow exactly what they were/looked like. That's not to say not all of them were lacking in descriptions, but a fair number.
My last issue was with a jarring chapter at the end. The pace of the book was well set and you got used to reading the adventure the heroes go on but as one chapter ended with them heading out, the next one didn't start with them doing the quest. The next chapter was actually after and I didn't realize what was going on until three pages in. I thought I had actually missed something, like an entire chapter. Why didn't I realize it? Well it could have been one of two things. One could be because the creature they had fought in a previous battle and in this newest quest were so similar it threw me off. The other reason could be because I was so used to us following them on the quest that I expected to be able to "watch" this next one. Just a small bit of tweaking in the beginning of that chapter would have fixed that for me.
So in the end, this book gets a 4 out of 5 from me and I look forward to the next book in this series. Keep them coming F.P.!