Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Darkness Reigns Release and Review!

  Hello, everyone. Today is the release day of Darkness Reigns by Jill Williamson. I've had the great pleasure of being part of the launch team of this endeavor and I'm so excited to share more about this new series with you. The best part? Right now you can get the Darkness Reigns ebook free!

 I would like to share my review with you, but first... here is the cover and description.

The god of the soil is furious. Volcanic eruptions, sinkholes, earthquakes--everything points to his unhappiness. At least this is what the people of Armania in the Five Realms believe. Amidst the unsettling state of the world around them, the princes of Armania live their lives focused more on who will claim the throne after their sickly father, King Echad, dies. That is until Prince Wilek's concubine turns up dead--beside her, a bloodied message that seems to have come from the mother realms. 

 This book is actually the first part of the book King's Folly that will be released in 2016. Darkness Reigns can only be found in ebook format and King's Folly will only be sold as a physical copy. No matter what way the story is sold, it is party of a larger series called The Kinsman Chronicles, which is a sort of prequel to Jill's fantastic Blood of Kings series. 

  I wasn't sure about my feelings after I finished this first installment. The writing was gripping, pulling me into the characters lives after I got over the initial confusion of who was who with the large cast. No, it wasn't the writing I had a problem with. Something else nagged at me even as I devoured every word. 

 It was the darkness. Maybe what they call "thematic elements" on movie warnings. And yeah, this story gets pretty dark. The death, human sacrifice, destructions, and concubines are dark enough, but the really weird thing that bothered me? Some of the characters basically communicate with demons. 

  This bothered me. It was never explicitly said that they were what we think of as demons, but the fact that it wasn't presented as so bothered me a litte.

But here's the thing. This story may be dark, but it is real. It was partly inspired by the kings of the Old Testament. People used to commit human sacrifice, have multiple wives and concubines, and yes... communicate with spirits. These things aren't being presented as right in this story, but they are presented as a darkness. This darkness is so strong that it affects all of the characters. 

 Why is the darkness necessary? Because soon a great light will appear and I'm sure evil will be vanquished. This series actually has so much symbolism to it and is a fantastic read. 

 I really liked the characters, some more than others, but all of them I enjoyed reading about. 

Once again Jill Williamson has riveted me with the first installment in her first adult fantasy series.  

I hope you will take this incredible opportunity to get the book free on kindle or itunes. Here is the link to the kindle version. 

 Tonight at 6 PM Pacific Time there is going to be a facebook party here. You're going to love it and there will be giveaways, so come learn more about it!

About the author: Jill Williamson is a chocolate loving, daydreaming, creator of kingdoms and the award-winning author of several speculative fiction novels including By Darkness Hid, Replication, The New Recruit, and Captives. She got into writing one day when someone was complaining about teen books and she thought, “I could do that! How hard could it be?” Very, she soon learned. But she worked hard, and four years later, her first book, By Darkness Hid, was published and won several awards. Jill is a Whovian, a Photoshop addict, and a recovering fashion design assistant, who was raised in Alaska. She loves teaching about writing, which she does weekly at www.GoTeenWriters.com. She lives in Oregon with her husband, two children, and a whole lot of deer.

~ a rambling author

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The New Colored Pencil: A Book Review

 Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I have so many things to be thankful for. I'm thankful to have my family that I love so much, my friends, and my writing and theater. God has blessed me innumerably. This Thanksgiving is a bit stranger because my beautiful Mammaw just passed away, but we are also thankful that she is in Heaven rejoicing with the Savior that she loved so much. 

 I have so many books to review, so I hope you guys are interested in learning about some neat books. Today's book is The New Colored Pencil by Kristy Ann Kutch. I received this book in exchange for my honest review. This book is a bit different than the ones I have reviewed so far, a fact that will soon be apparent. 

Start coloring, relieve stress, and learn to create radiant, original works of art using colored pencils, wax pastels, and watercolor pencils.

Add vibrancy to your coloring creations with instruction from best-selling author and teacher Kristy Kutch as she guides you through recommendations for the newest colored pencil brands, best drawing surfaces, and groundbreaking techniques.

Including easy step-by-step demonstrations and inspiring art from today’s best colored pencil artists,The New Colored Pencil shows you how to use color theory to your advantage, combine color media, create and enhance textures, and experiment with surfaces to create phenomenal effects. Whether you use traditional wax-based, or watercolor colored pencils, The New Colored Pencil will take your creative art pieces to a whole new level.

 First off, let me note that this book is beautiful. As you can see from the cover, it makes for a perfect review to post on Thanksgiving. Inside the book are lots and lots of gorgeous illustrations, most of them created by talented author, Kristy Ann Kutch. You could just have the book to look at the many lovely pictures inside.

 This book is very detailed. The author lists many different sources for artistic materials, their quality, and about how expensive they usually are. In some cases too much detail can be an annoyance, but for a book like this, I think it fits very well. While the description lead me to think it was a tutorial book, I found it more to be a guide and advice book. There aren't a lot of step-to-step instructions throughout (I didn't quite finish the book before this review, but I have read and looked enough for this review), but there are some that seem like step-to-step and you could follow along with. I think this is more of a detailed resource that you can use for advice about supplies, technique, and many other aspects of colored pencil drawing. 

I'm really happy to have this book as part of my growing creative books collection. Learning more about the art of coloring with pencils is something I am sure I will be able to put to good use. If you're an art enthusiast and want to learn more about colored pencils, whether you are experienced or a newbie, I'm sure you can use this book. I certainly have enjoyed having it. 

~ a rambling author

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Submarines, Secrets and a Daring Rescue: a Book Review

So NaNo was a bit of a bust. I had good reasons for it, though, and I got some stuff written anyway. Instead of telling you why I decided to abandon NaNo for this year, I want to present you with a review! Submarines, Secrets and a Daring Rescue by Robert J. Skead with Robert A. Skead. I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review. 


In this second book in the American Revolutionary War Adventure series, Submarines, Secrets, and a Daring Rescue, twins Ambrose and John Clark find themselves volunteering for another mission to help the newly forming United States. Inspired by their success in delivering a secret message to General George Washington himself, the boys step up to help transport much-needed gunpowder to the patriots and end up in an even more dangerous situation, trying to man one of the first submarines and then, later, attempting a prison break to rescue one of their older brothers.

Follow these brave young patriots as they follow in their father’s footsteps and rely on each other, their considerable courage, and God’s providence for guidance and strength.

 You may remember me reviewing the first book in this series back in April. I was curious to see what might happen to the Clark twins after their initial espionage filled adventure, so I quickly volunteered to read this second installment. I did not read it as quickly as the first, but that was due to college and whatnot, not the book's content.

 The characters in the story were much the same as the first. I did enjoy how the point of view of the story shifted to be from Ambrose instead of John, like the first book. Seeing through Ambrose's eyes was quite a bit different and at times I missed the level headed John, but for the most part I enjoyed the usual mischievous twin learning to be a man. I enjoyed the inclusion of their older brother, Berty, and several historical characters.

 I liked the story line well enough, but probably not quite as much as the first book. Still, it was interesting and kept a pretty good pace. I always enjoy reading fictionalized retellings of historical events. According to some information in the back, some of the events in the story were a bit inflated and didn't really happen, but were based on historical events. I was a bit disappointed to know that the submarine pictured on the cover was never actually used in a successful mission. Anyway, the plot was good for the grade level and kept me engaged.

 Overall, a good work of fiction, especially if you're a young person. This book is middle grade, but can be enjoyed by anyone if you want a light, quick read. I enjoyed it and am looking forward to future books in the series. Buy it here.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

NaNo and Sea Monsters

 It's been forever.

 Why? Because I'm wallowing in the uncertain depths of great struggle and have been trying to keep my head above the waves-- also known as college.

 Because I'm insane, however, I've decided to try to take part in NaNo this year. The last time I partook in the actual NaNoWriMo was 2013. That was before the college monster sucked me into its dark and perilous depths.

 Okay. College isn't really a sea monster, but it tends to get close sometimes. With all the homework, time spent in class, and sleeping (at home) sometimes I just feel like relaxing after class (or sleeping) which means not a lot of writing happens. Shame on me. To remedy this abhorrent practice of not writing enough, I'm going to participate in NaNo.

Also, I'm going to try something new. I've added a notebook to my collection of text books and school supplies in my backpack. When I'm at school and have a chance, I'm going to try to break out that notebook for just a bit and jot down whatever I want to that is writing related. If I need to write a blog post, I'll jot one down. If I need to write pieces of a novel? You got it. We'll see how this strategy works in the upcoming insanity.

 As for NaNo...


...to defeat NaNo!!!! Or to try, at least. I've decided to revisit my old friend, Up the Scarlet Staircase, for this one. If you've somehow been following me this long than you might remember it from back in 2013. If not, here is an old post about that story. Of course things will change now, most likely. But change is good.

 So there you have it! I'll update you on the craziness soon. What about you? What are you planning to do, if anything, for the great NaNoWriMo?

~ a rambling author