Wild Wednesday

It’s been a wild Wednesday.

Things got off to a rocky start this morning when I backed out of my garage. There was much loud swearing, and I really don’t want to talk about it, except to say that as a result of getting off to a rocky start, I was unable to resist trying one of the donuts that greeted me as soon as I walked in the door at work. I was also unable to resist one of the gourmet cookies that arrived this afternoon. And I was unable to resist Godfather’s Pizza come suppertime.

The sky swore today.

I happened to look out the window by my desk about 4:00 p.m. and I couldn’t believe what I saw. It looked like January outside, except for the part where the grass was still green. They said I could leave early if I wanted, but I wasn’t worried about the roads, even though everyone forgets how to drive in snow between May and November. I just took it easy, only getting mildly annoyed when the person behind me with the super-bright dims seemed to ride my bumper for ten miles before finally going around me. But I made it home safe and sound, and my kids made it home safe and sound, so it could have been a whole lot worse.

Besides, I got a book today.

Everyone knows that books make everything better, and this book in particular is very exciting. I’d actually completely forgotten it was coming. About a month ago, A.F.E. Smith posted on her Facebook page that she’d run across a box of proof copies of her third novel, Windsinger, and asked if anyone would want one. Naturally, I said yes! And when I finally made it home tonight, a pretty, pretty signed copy was sitting in my mailbox, just waiting to be read. (You can check out my review of Windsinger here, and my reviews of Darkhaven and Goldenfire here and here.)

I’ve been struggling a bit with reading lately, so it was a wonderful reminder that there are loads of great things out there to read (as if I really needed a reminder of that). I seem to read in fits and starts these days – when I’m reading, it’s all I can do, and writing is the same. Maybe it’s just that I feel so pressed for time, like there aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything I want to do. Maybe it’s some weird manifestation of something I’m not entirely certain of. I don’t know.

There’s an awful lot I don’t seem to know these days.

But maybe things will look brighter in the morning.

(c) 2019. All rights reserved.

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I sing the wind…

*taps mic*

*glances round*

Hello? Is this thing on?

Oh, good! It’s been far too long, hasn’t it? I can’t remember the last time I’ve gone…um…*checks calendar*…four and a half months without a single post. But school’s out for summer (cue Alice Cooper), and I am ready for the break. And what better way to kick off summer than with a book review?

I’ve read a ton in the last nine months. Some I enjoyed, some not so much, but today I want to talk about Windsinger by A.F.E. Smith. It’s the third book in her Darkhaven series, and it’s been sitting on my phone just begging to be read for an entirely unforgivable length of time. I don’t even know what happened; it arrived last year, but for the first time ever, reading held no joy for me, so in my phone it sat.

What’s it about? Glad you asked!

Ayla Nightshade prepares to meet with the Kardise ambassador to sign a treaty between Mirrorvale and Sol Kardis. However, negotiations are halted as the ambassador is discovered dead in his chambers, poisoned by the same bottle of taransey he and Ayla had shared the night before.

Ayla has been framed for murder and the peace between two kingdoms is at stake. Tomas Caraway and his Helmsmen must rush to prove her innocence before war destroys all they have fought for.

Along the way they discover the plans for a Parovian airship, the Windsinger, which reveal a chamber designed for a special cargo: a living one.

Together Ayla and Tomas set out to uncover their real enemies – a search that will lead them closer to home than they ever anticipated.

If you’ve read the first two books, you won’t want to miss this one, as it brings back a load of interesting characters and throws a whole new set of challenges at them. After slogging through a semester of Milton, this was a refreshing adventure that I couldn’t put down. It was brilliantly well-written, and I loved seeing how Ayla and Tomas’s relationship had grown, how Ayla herself had grown. The love they have for each other is evident, and a joy to see.

One of my favorite quotes from the book is about that love:

‘Anyone can hate,’ Caraway said. ‘It’s love that requires courage.’

But it’s not just about Tomas’s love for Ayla and their children, it’s about love for Mirrorvale as well, and really, it applies to us as well. There is so much hate in the world, and most of it’s senseless, much as in this book. If we can all remember that love is more powerful, and try to show it more in our daily lives, perhaps the world will become the better place we’d all long to see. This book is a wonderful reminder that love can accomplish anything.

In short, if you haven’t read this book, or the others, you definitely should. Pick up a copy at HarperCollins, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or anywhere that fine books are sold, and let me know what you think! After all, nothing cures a book hangover like a great discussion. 🙂

Have you read the Darkhaven novels? What did you think?

(c) 2018. All rights reserved.

Look at the pretty Goldenfire!

Yesterday was the official cover reveal for Goldenfire, the second book in A.F.E. Smith’s wonderful Darkhaven series. It will be released by Harper Voyager on January 14, 2016, but if you want to read it sooner, you can enter the giveaway below for your chance to win an advance ebook copy!

Goldenfire coverIn Darkhaven, peace doesn’t last long.

Ayla Nightshade has ruled Darkhaven for three years. With the help of Tomas Caraway, her Captain of the Helm, she has overcome her father’s legacy to find new confidence in herself and her unusual shapeshifting abilities.

Yet three years ago, a discovery was made that could have profound consequences for the Nightshade line: a weapon exists that can harm even the powerful creatures they turn into. And now, that knowledge has fallen into the wrong hands.

An assassin is coming for Ayla, and will stop at nothing to see her dead.

Doesn’t that sound amazing? I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait for January! 🙂

Continue reading

Photo 365 #329: The books edition

Yep, today is all about books.  My books, friends’ books, ALL THE BOOKS! 😀

Today is launch day for A.F.E. Smith’s fantastic book, Darkhaven.  She’s having a heck of a great party over on Facebook, where she’s been interviewing authors (including me!) and giving away books all day.  The fun continues tomorrow, so be sure to check it out.

Books!

Books!

In other news, my books arrived today!  After running some errands this morning, we arrived home to a big ol’ box o’ books waiting for us on the front porch.  Since I wasn’t expecting them for another whole week, this was a great surprise.  I’ve already donated a couple to my local library, and I have one place lined up to sell books locally.  It’s been a pretty exciting day. 🙂

And if you want to win an e-copy for your very own, check out my giveaway over on Facebook!  There’s still time to enter, and there are a bunch of other great giveaways so sign up for there as well.

Have a fantastic Thursday, everybody!

(c) 2015.  All rights reserved.

And now for the review!

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I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s posts as much as I have (don’t forget to check out the deets for the Rafflecopter giveaway at the end of the post).  I’ve been a fan of A.F.E.’s since our Authonomy days, and I am beyond thrilled to see Darkhaven in print.  It’s a wonderful book, full of all the things that make a story great: fencing, fighting, chases, escapes, true love, steampunky goodness…The list goes on.

And the writing!  The writing is so beautiful.  For example:

“…the scents of a summer night caressed her with their familiarity…”

Scavenger_day06“She hesitated, her skin crawling with tiny spiders of unease.” -If that’s not evocative, I don’t know what is!

“As the sun rose higher in the sky, prying into the shade of her hood with bright inquisitive fingers, she had slipped into the narrow gap between a dueling room and a weaponry.”

“The books were mainly vast tomes with leather bindings, bearing such enticing titles as Upon the Principles and Ordinance of Government and An Assessment of Trade Relationships Between Mirrorvale and its Neighbors.”

That last line actually made me…

Pssst! Wanna sneak a peek?

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Great!  Because today I’ve got an excerpt from Darkhaven by A.F.E. Smith.  It’s a great scene, and I hope it hooks you as much as it hooked me. 🙂

Stay tuned afterward, because I’ve got all the deets on a great Rafflecopter giveaway at the end of the post!

As was fast becoming their habit, she and her father had started that evening by arguing. They’d always argued, of course, but not like this. Not as if each would rather kill the other than concede the fight. Ayla knew she couldn’t beat Florentyn in a real fight, either in human or in creature form, but she hoped this battle of words would be different. Her father probably wouldn’t go so far as to physically chastise his wayward daughter.

Probably.

She had to keep trying, anyway, for Myrren’s sake.

Scavenger_day05‘You can’t do that to him,’ she said for the tenth time in as many days. ‘He is your true heir, your pure-blood son. I’m only half a Nightshade.’

On the other side of the desk, her father sat motionless and in shadow; no need for light when only Changers were present in the room. Ayla resented the fact that he’d summoned her into the library as if he had every right to control her movements. That he’d made her stand in front of his desk like a stripling awaiting punishment, not a fully grown woman. She resented a lot of things. But she had to concentrate on the one that mattered.

‘You can Change.’ Florentyn’s face showed no more emotion than the ancestral busts adorning the bookcases to either side of him. ‘Myrren cannot. I have no choice but to disinherit him.’

‘I won’t take his birthright away from him, Father.’ She lifted her chin, but he was as impervious to her defiance as his Firedrake form was to steel.

‘You will start accompanying me on state visits. It’s time you began to learn what is required of Darkhaven’s overlord.’

Ayla bit her lip. Always he dangled that in front of her:

Darkhaven, the movie!

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Today I’ve got a real treat: A movie cast for Darkhaven, handpicked by the author herself!  This would book would make a wonderful movie, so I hope Hollywood is paying attention.  Also, if anyone knows where to get hold of a time machine, let us know – it would make casting so much easier! 😀

Stay tuned afterward, because I’ve got all the deets on a great Rafflecopter giveaway at the end of the post!

I always have difficulty with casting my characters, because no one in real life looks quite like the people in my head. I always say that if my books were going to be translated into visual media, I’d like them to be either anime or graphic novels. Nevertheless, I’ve given it a go.

Scavenger_day04Darkhaven is set in a capital city, Arkannen, into which people from many different countries have migrated over the years. Most people’s heritage is a mixture of cultures/influences; they tend to think of themselves as Arkannenites before anything else (much as Londoners are Londoners before they are British). So although Mirrorvale and its surrounding countries don’t have exact real-world analogues, I’ve chosen actors who have quite a diverse mixture of backgrounds…

And now, an interview!

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Today I’m interviewing A.F.E. Smith, author of Darkhaven and illustrious spymaster for the Alliance of Worldbuilders.  After all, no one ever suspects the robin…

Stay tuned afterward, because I’ve got all the deets on a great Rafflecopter giveaway at the end of the post!

KK: To take a page from your book, tell us a bit about yourself – any illogical fears, unusual birthmarks, whether you’d rather wrestle a bear or punch a shark, that kind of thing. 🙂

80115-afe_smith_author_photoA.F.E: I’m a professional editor, a whenever-I-can writer and a mother of two young children. I’m also an occasional robin.

Illogical fears I have aplenty, including moths, spiders and other assorted invertebrates. Then there’s drowning … I hate the idea of drowning … and blood and heights and being buried alive. Oh, and mould. I hate mould. But other than all that, I would make a perfectly good fantasy hero.

Rather than a lightning-shaped scar on my forehead, I have a large orbicular birthmark on my knee. In other words, I have a great big freckle. Still, that’s got to mean I have a Destiny, right?

I would never wrestle a bear, or punch a shark. I am a vegetarian and therefore coexist peacefully with all living creatures, except those that have a tendency to crawl around on my walls.

KK: What about Darkhaven? What’s it all about?

Cover_image_DARKHAVEN_AFE_SmithA.F.E.: The short answer: shapeshifters and murder.

The slightly longer answer?

Fantasy and murder: A guest post by A.F.E. Smith

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To kick off this fun-filled week of fantasy goodness, I’ve got a guest post for you about fantasy and murder from A.F.E. Smith.  Stay tuned afterward, because I’ve got all the deets on a great Rafflecopter giveaway at the end of the post!

Fantasy and murder: what’s the appeal?

It’s no secret that fantasy is, and always has been, my favourite genre. There are many reasons for that, but one very good one is that the sheer number of possibilities it opens up to a writer is breathtaking. Fantasy has no limitations except for your own imagination and your ability to convince your reader to suspend disbelief.

Yet for that reason, writing fantasy can feel like being handed a bottomless bucket, pointed in the direction of an infinitely wide pick’n’mix stand, and told to take as much as you want. And if you’re me, that might result in something like this.

I like birds. And unicorns. And shapeshifters. So let’s have a flying unicorn shapeshifter! Duels to the death, always good. Add them to the bloody murder and general mayhem. Airships, sure, why not? Bit of romance. Bit of mistaken identity. Swords, yes, gotta have plenty of swords … oooh, guns! Hmm, swords or guns … what? Swords AND guns? Don’t mind if I do. And a walled city. No, a double-walled city. No, a SEVEN-walled city.

Scavenger_day02 I’m not kidding…