From the Editor’s Desk: Ghosts by J.M. Frey

Welcome to the resurrected Book Review Wednesday! I have a whole slew of amazing books to review and share with you all, so rather than detract from the content I know many of you have been missing (the articles on publishing/editing/writing), I decided to add a posting day. Or, rather, to resuscitate one. So Friday will be returning to the snark-filled, sometimes-helpful articles you’ve all grown to love over the years, and Wednesday will be reserved for sharing book information, should I happen to have something to share. Sound good? Good.

Today’s offering is the newest release from J.M. Frey. Some of you may remember my review for the first book in this series, The Untold Tale, from a few months ago. Well, this is the next installment, a prequel novella that’s nothing short of fantastic.

Ghosts

by J.M. Frey

Ghosts

For seventeen years, Bevel Dom has been the author of his own story. Or, rather, he’s been the author of The Tales of Kintyre Turn, the illustrated scrolls chronicling his adventures as first the squire, then the colleague, and then finally the friend of legendary hero Kintyre Turn. But there are some stories that Bevel doesn’t write down, doesn’t tell to eager audiences of bright-eyed boys and sighing bar wenches in taverns. Some he simply folds into his heart and keeps. This is one of those tales.

In this prequel novella, fans of The Accidental Turn Series are offered a glimpse into the lives of Bevel Dom and Kintyre Turn shortly before their arrival at Turn Hall and the events that follow, further expanding upon the world and characters seen in The Untold Tale and the the upcoming sequel, The Forgotten Tale, coming Summer 2016.

First, let me just say that I adore Frey’s work. Not only is it intelligent, inclusive, and well-written, it’s also a refreshingly solid addition to the fantasy genre and a heck of a lot of fun. It’s the perfect example of fantasy written for modern times, with all the charm and appeal of its predecessors, and none of the staleness. And as a long-time fan of the fantasy genre, that trait alone is highly appealing.

But I think the thing that truly sets Frey’s work apart is the depth of emotional resonance she manages to pack into everything, be it novel or short story — or, in this case, novella. Written in the same fluid, yet classic-feeling style as the rest of the series, Ghosts gives readers a look into the inner mind of one Bevel Dom, sidekick to the infamous Kintyre Turn. Happening just before the events of The Untold Tale, Ghosts lays the groundwork for one of the novel’s “twists,” and expands upon the richly textured world of the series as a whole.

Bevel’s voice sings off the page with lively (and sometimes crass) wit, a stark contrast to the more refined notes Frey gave us in Forsyth, and the ensuing shenanigans paint a layer of the ridiculous over what is actually a rather heart-wrenching tale. Those who have read the novel will find the insight into the lives of Forsyth’s heroic brother and his lesser-known squire to be a satisfying extension of the arc seen in The Untold Tale. But you don’t have to read the novel to enjoy this small taste of the series. It can most definitely be read as a standalone, and I highly recommend that anyone looking for a new voice in fantasy give this novella a try. It packs a lot of punch for little investment and will introduce you to what is potentially one of the best new fantasy series out there. And I don’t just say that because I happened to have the honor of editing it, I truly believe that Frey’s work is not to be missed.

Book Links: Amazon | Goodreads | Barnes & Noble

 

Book Feature: Princess of Tyrone by Katie Hamstead

From the moment I heard about this series, I was excited. It’s got all the makings of something I’m going to truly love — fairy tales, science fiction, and an author whose work I know I already adore. Ready to see more about it? Here you go!

Princess of Tyrone Book Cover

Apolline is happy hunting magical creatures on her pirate infested outer-perimeter planet. She is a fantastic shot, and doesn’t flinch at the blood and guts of her kills. Never once did she consider she could be the missing Princess of Tyrone.

All her life, she has heard the story of the Princess, cursed to sleep for eternity, unless her betrothed, the Prince of Oran, gave her true love’s kiss. Although Apolline knows she is betrothed, she thinks her fairy guardians arranged it out of ignorance of human ways. The thought she could be a princess is inconceivable.

Then Allard appears. Handsome, charming—but he’s not hers to have. He’s betrothed, too. Her guardians warn her against her new found friendship, but she and Allard meet in secret anyway. Despite her rough exterior, he sees beyond her gun-slinging bravado, and their love blossoms.

But the deadline for the sleeping curse is approaching. If Apolline falls in love with the wrong person, she could end up sleeping forever.

A quirky, adventurous retelling of Sleeping Beauty, with a less than princess-ly princess!

Doesn’t that sound amazing? I was supposed to give you my thoughts on it today, but unfortunately, life has prevented me from reading it enough to provide a proper review. However, if there’s one thing I know about Hamstead’s work, it’s that I’m sure to enjoy it. I’m exceedingly excited to see what she does with this unconventional twist on a fairy tale we all know and love, and I’ll be sure to post the full review when I’m done. In the meantime, here’s one of the pretty teaser graphics to entice you and the link to the giveaway celebrating the book’s release (below).

Be sure to check it out!

pot3

About the Author:

katie hamsteadBorn and raised in Australia, Katie’s early years of day dreaming in the “bush”, and having her father tell her wild bedtime stories, inspired her passion for writing.

After graduating High School, she became a foreign exchange student where she met a young man who several years later she married. Now she lives in Arizona with her husband, daughter and their dog.

She has a diploma in travel and tourism which helps inspire her writing.

When her debut novel, Kiya: Hope of the Pharaoh, climbed into bestselling status, she believed she was onto something, and now has a slew of novels now available, and is published through Curiosity Quills Press, Soul Mate Publishing, and REUTS Publications.

Katie loves to out sing her friends and family, play sports, and be a good wife and mother. She now works as an Acquisitions Editor to help support her family. She loves to write, and takes the few spare moments in her day to work on her novels.

Book Links: Amazon | Goodreads | Barnes & Noble | Rafflecopter Giveaway

 

From the Editor’s Desk: The Untold Tale by J.M. Frey

Welcome to my final post from 2015! The next time you hear from me, it’ll be January. Frightening, right? Don’t worry, though, I will be back with lots of new content, book reviews galore, and a few spiffy giveaways. Not unlike the one I introduced last week (hint, hint).

But before I go on my annual mini-hiatus, I want to introduce you to one of my favorite reads of the year. Yes, it is one I had the privilege of working on, but so much of how that happened felt guided by fate, or chance, or serendipity, or whatever name you prefer that I fully believe this book was meant to find its home at REUTS, and I was honored to be part of bringing it into the world.

So, without further (sappy) intro, I give you . . .

The Untold Tale

by J.M. Frey

The Untold Tale cover

Forsyth Turn is not a hero. Lordling of Turn Hall and Lysse Chipping, yes. Spymaster for the king, certainly. But hero? That’s his older brother’s job, and Kintyre Turn is nothing if not legendary. However, when a raid on the kingdom’s worst criminal results in the rescue of a bafflingly blunt woman, oddly named and even more oddly mannered, Forsyth finds his quaint, sedentary life is turned on its head.

Dragged reluctantly into a quest he never expected, and fighting villains that even his brother has never managed to best, Forsyth is forced to confront his own self-shame and the demons that come with always being second-best. And, more than that, when he finally realizes where Lucy came from and why she’s here, he’ll be forced to question not only his place in the world, but the very meaning of his own existence.

Smartly crafted, The Untold Tale gives agency to the unlikeliest of heroes: the silenced, the marginalized, and the overlooked. It asks what it really means to be a fan when the worlds you love don’t resemble the world you live in, celebrates the power of the written word, challenges tropes, and shows us what happens when someone stands up and refuses to remain a secondary character in their own life.

I knew from the moment I heard this book described in passing by the author’s agent that I was going to love it. I could just tell, like an instinct. And I was right. Frey’s tale is bold without being preachy, innovative while still being familiar, classic with a modern twist, and is easily among my all-time favorite reads ever.

Forsyth Turn is a swoon-worthy hero, though he is admittedly not what one pictures when they think of the leading man in an epic fantasy-adventure. Insecure, flawed, and adorably awkward, he’s real. But he’s more than just the point-of-view character, he’s the lens through which Frey paints her extremely relevant, extremely important message. Through him, we meet Pip, a woman who epitomizes what it means to be a fan, and who’s been literally pulled into her favorite fictional world. And through him, we watch as all the prejudices — intentional or otherwise — of the fantasy genre (and fiction in general) are brought to light.

The beauty in this book is that yes, it does challenge the tropes of the genre, and yes, it does give power to those who are too often overlooked, but it does so without sacrificing a single shred of expert storytelling at the altar of “message.” This isn’t a book with an agenda — it’s an example of what great literature should be: unabashedly inclusive and a reflection of reality. It is most definitely thought-provoking and an intelligent discourse on the state of literature, but at the end of the day, it’s the story of two people learning about themselves, facing down their personal demons, and falling in love.

The Untold Tale is written in a modern first-person present tense, and yet still somehow manages to evoke the spirits of literary greats (it has an Austen-like quality to me, though the author disagrees). Raw, often dark, and powerfully real, this is the kind of book that sticks with you long after you’ve read it, and I could not recommend it more.

In fact, you can enter for a chance to win a copy over at my Holiday Giveaway. And if you’d simply like to purchase it, click on the links below. 😉

Book Links: Amazon | Goodreads | Barnes & Noble

Book Review Wednesday: Split the Party by Drew Hayes

Hey, look! We haven’t had one of these in a while. But as I continue to corral the chaos of the past few months back into at least some semblance of normal, they should be appearing more frequently. Today’s post is special, though, because not only is it a return of the Book Review Wednesday, it’s the release date for the book featured. That’s right, today is the day Split the Party by Drew Hayes is released into the hands of readers everywhere. So check out my thoughts on it, and then go wish Drew a brilliant book birthday by purchasing a copy for yourself. Sound good? Good. 😉

**Disclaimer: I was hired to proofread Split the Party, but the opinions expressed below are entirely my own and were not impacted by the author’s ability to use commas.**

Split the Party

by Drew Hayes

Split the Party by Drew Hayes

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

Fleeing from a vengeful king has sent the former NPCs across Solium’s borders, into the kingdom of Alcatham. As wanted fugitives, they head to the small farming village of Briarwillow, hoping to blend in, lay-low, and avoid trouble at all costs.

Unfortunately, Briarwillow has problems all its own, and its troubles quickly become theirs. If they hope to survive long enough to escape, they’ll have to tackle an all-but-forgotten mystery buried at the town’s border, as well as seek the wisdom of a mysterious group of mages.

With time, magic, and at least one god against them, it will take everything they’ve got to save Briarwillow, and themselves.

The highly anticipated sequel to Hayes’s unique, role-playing-game-inspired NPCs sees the return of everyone’s favorite non-player characters. Exiled and on the run, the gang ventures into new territory, both physically, as they cross the border into a new kingdom, and figuratively. While still infused with all the charm of the original, fans of Hayes’s work will also quickly notice a distinct shift in the overall feel of the narrative, moving into slightly darker arenas and taking on heavier, almost somber undertones. Hayes’s signature humor is still present, of course, but the backbone of the story feels more serious and deals with themes that resonate more deeply on an emotional level than the first book did.

The pacing of this one is quite a bit different as well, sauntering at a slower, more controlled clip, and the scope of the world the NPCs explore is smaller this time, hovering around a single location instead of sprawling across a massive kingdom. But where a certain video game franchise attempted something similar and failed, Hayes succeeded, taking the opportunity to more fully flesh out the characters and overall mythos of the world.

The one thing I was perhaps a tad disappointed with was the lack of interaction between the real world and the adventurers. That was part of what made the first one so brilliant, in my opinion, and this one doesn’t really have that same aspect. Yet. It’s obviously coming in future installments though.

In a way, Split the Party almost feels like the start of the series rather than a sequel, as it was very episodic in nature, less sprawling, and felt like the base for something much larger. Even though there were a lot of obvious references to the first installment, it still felt a bit more like a side-step than a step forward in terms of answering the questions we were left with at the end of NPCs.

That said, the plot of this one is definitely self-sufficient, and while my questions might not have answers yet, I was left feeling satisfied and looking forward to the next one. So I suppose the best analogy would be that it was like watching an episode of my favorite show in the middle of the season, rather than the season finale.

Anyway, take that for what its worth. I’m still a huge fan of this series, and all I can say is, “MORE PLEASE!” 🙂

Book Links: Amazon | Goodreads

From the Editor’s Desk: Sachael Dreams by Melody Winter

Who noticed that I recently revamped the page I store these reviews on? Anyone? No? Well, I did. You can check it out later if you’re curious. 😉

In the process of said revamp-age, it came to my attention that I’d been remiss on posting my thoughts for a few of the titles I had the privilege of working on. To those authors, I’m sincerely sorry, and I will be fixing that shortly.

First up on that roster is a lovely romantic fantasy, whose sequel just so happens to be dropping in a few short months. But first, the obligatory disclaimer/explanation:

As an editor (both freelance and under REUTS Publications), I have the wonderful opportunity to see amazing novels during their production phase. And I wanted to find a way to share them with all of you as they became available. (I also wanted to find a way to help support the authors who trusted me with their manuscripts.) So think of these as my own personal book recommendations, straight from the editor’s desk.

Okay, now we can get to the review.

Sachael Dreams

by Melody Winter

Sachael Dreams by Melody Winter

Twenty-two-year-old Estelle Bailey has had enough of busy city-life and her hot-tempered ex. She escapes to the seclusion and peace of her family’s clifftop home in Ravenscar, where the soothing solitude whispers to her soul as strongly as the sea itself does. But her newfound contentment is interrupted when a mysterious man — a Sachael, master of seduction — joins her midnight swim unexpectedly.

Estelle struggles against his charm and the overpowering attraction she feels for him. He offers her a life she never could have imagined, a life beneath the waves . . . but at what cost? Before she can decide, she’s captured, ensnared by the Sect, a secret enemy of the Sachaels, becoming a pawn in a war she knew nothing about.

Now, she’s left with a new choice — escape the clutches of the Sect and flee into the ocean, or side with her alluring, intimidating captor and destroy the Sachaels forever. Can she turn her back on the man she might love, or will the secret of her heritage change everything?

Set against a picturesque backdrop, Sachael Dreams is the first in a new series, exploring themes of romance, love, and identity, and the struggle that happens when all three collide.

The first thing I remember thinking about Sachael Dreams is: what a brilliant premise. Not unlike a wave crashing to shore, it landed on my desk and instantly captured my attention. The paranormal romance/romantic fantasy genres are heavily saturated with angels, demons, vampires, werewolves, and a plethora of other supernatural critters, but Winter managed to do the unexpected — she gave us a brand new creature altogether.

Estelle’s story is not a peaceful one; kidnapping, escape, fight scenes, and arguments litter her tale with splashes of suspense. But those moments of tense action and drama, while exciting, are perhaps not the most memorable elements. For me, the enchantment of the story lies in its tone, ambiance, mystery, and passion.

Lyrical and detailed, Winter’s prose transports us to the setting with a mastery that had me nearly smelling the ocean breeze on my home’s very non-ocean-oriented air. Realistic and gripping from the moment you start the Prologue (yes, there’s a prologue, and it’s handled with supreme efficiency), Sachael Dreams is like stepping into an ethereal world that’s maybe just a tad dark around the edges.

Even the romance, which is central to the book’s core, starts with an almost Phantom of the Opera-like vibe, and the sinister nature behind the mysterious Sachaels lends a tinge of danger to the relationship unfolding between the lead characters. Add to that Estelle’s personal history (alluded to for much of the book and revealed fully toward the end) and a villain bent on revenge, no matter the cost, and you start to see why the story’s tone is heavier than your standard romance.

Winter makes sure to give readers plenty of swoon-worthy, romantic moments though; don’t worry. But my favorite scenes were actually those where the sheer raw emotion — often of the darker variety — really bubbled to the surface: the arguments between Estelle and Azariah, the heartbreaking moments of loss and grief, even the tortured rage of the villain. All of them were handled with a grace and poignancy that is nothing short of impressive.

Darkly beautiful and intriguing, Sachael Dreams is the beginning of what is arguably a refreshing, original take on mythology from a promising new author. Fans of romantic suspense, dark fantasy, and paranormal romance would be wise to check this one out. I, for one, am definitely looking forward to watching this world, and author, bloom into their full power.

Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads