Fates Aflame

34788631“Fates Aflame” by P. Anastasia.  P. Anastasia (Self-Published). 430 pages. $16.95.

“In a society secretly fueled by unbridled magic, an ever-changing landscape of politics and formalities tugged the threads of my fate in all directions, shrouding the future in uncertainty. Earth granted her the ability to conjure fire at will, but the birth of her powers awakens a curse and a perilous trial unfolds, putting the lives of those she loves in jeopardy. When extinct beasts brought forth by ancient magic threaten her life, she has no choice but to take a stand…”

Valhara Hawksford is a young (18 years old) lieutenant who lives on a base in space – the Celestial Galaxy Academy.  Because of a mission to bring the two academies together, Valhara is being transferred to the Silver Diamond Academy, which is back on Earth, a place she does not want to go back to since a tragic accident.  We learn more about the two different academies, as well as the world itself and all the changes, as the story progresses, and I must say that Anastasia did a wonderful job of creating and building a world that is slightly familiar but overall very different.

I did become slightly restless with the first part of the book because I wanted to find out where the flames and magic pieces of the story came into play, but then a nice little romance starts to bud, and that helps carry you through.  To answer the question, it takes quite a bit of the book to get to the magical pieces of the story, and I do wish that that had occurred sooner.  If you read the synopsis, you do continually ask when that is going to come into play, and I wanted to see more of it in the book then just the last third (roundabouts). Also, in the description it says that the society is fueled by unbridled magic, but there is no hint about any of that for a very long time.

However, the overall plot is done well, and generally the pacing works because the story itself does build the entire time.  Anastasia creates a world in which we can see the characters growing, and we come to learn more about them so that we can understand the choices they are making.  There is a nice sense of history to everything, with even a detailed back story on one the character’s father’s and how he fought in an important war.  There is a library (yay for print books still existing), and old tomes of great information that I really enjoyed. The world and character building is what truly makes this book, and I think if the pace had picked up to get us to magic a bit quicker, it would that much better for it.

One thing I did particularly like about the world is that it is an interesting futuristic blend of science fiction, with advanced technology, military, and academies, as well as magic, and the legends that surround it.  There was quite an added twist with the King Author legend, and while I might not like how he was portrayed, I did very much like how it added to the story, and the fact that it was different from everything we normally read. I also very much liked the idea that the magic is reawakening and things are starting to shift and change as they had not for centuries, and things that were thought extinct are resurfacing.  Never doubt the world you live on!

The romance within the novel is well done. It is not a swooping “I fell in love at first sight” type of deal. They truly get to know one another, first as friends, and then maybe as more.  Now, I will say that the whole “her never having been kissed before” thing was slightly irritating, but I suppose there are 18 year old girls who have never kissed someone before… it’s just unlikely. Or seems that way. Her love interest is very likeable however, and I was always afraid that for some reason it was going to turn him into the bad guy… I’ll leave you hanging on that thought.

This would be a fantastic story for teenage girls and young adults.  Or you know, those of us who are not young adults but still mostly read that type of fiction… If you like fantasy, this is a nice combination of that world with a little bit of sci-fi thrown in.  I did love that there was a strong female lead, and it was never a question of if she could be promoted or not.  There were other female characters in leadership positions as well, though one country did have only a king, and both commanders of the academies were men as well (come on, let’s change that in our writing!).  I’m not one to usually harp on gender stereotypes, but it was something I noticed.  I think it would have been interesting if she could have had a female mentor within the book, who was her commander, or higher up in the hierarchy.  I also thought it was interesting because Valhara herself says that she does not want to be caught up in romance or anything else because she is so focused on her career – and how many times have we felt that, if you are a woman? It can be very hard to balance it all, and also we often hear how you cannot do both, but must choose one or the other. I liked that dynamic within the novel quite a bit.

I am hoping that we find out more about Valhara’s past, seeing as how she has this ancient mythical sword, and while we do mostly find out that story, I wanted to know more about it, and what she had done to get where she was.  This book did have young adults seemingly doing jobs fit for older people, but then again her role was to be a student at the academy, so it made sense.

This can be a standalone novel, though it does set it up nicely for the second book. Anastasia was at our SOKY Bookfest this past April, and has written several books including “Dark Diary.” She believes in writing the truth, and telling your character’s story, whatever that may mean. I look forward to the next Fates Aflame book, and the rest of her work!

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Planning For Camp Nano

Hello everyone!

Time just marches on by does it not?  I am happy to say that I have met my writing goal every day this month. It hasn’t always been on my novel. A few days it was for book reviews. I wrote an article one day and didn’t even count those words. So I have been doing quite well, and I am super happy with myself. Maybe if I can keep this up, I can increase my word goal in a few months. For now though, I am happy with the progress I am making, and satisfied with the fact that I am WRITING on my novel weekly, whereas for the past year that has not been the case at all.

Maybe this is the year!

So, on to Camp Nano! Feel free to add me, and maybe we could start a group. I am still hoping to be finished with Fated Destiny by November, so that I can work on my Pirate Novel (which I will outline plot for in October).  Camp Nano in April and July are two of my major projects I’m hoping to help me with that. As I already have outlines, and I’m just continuing what I have been doing I do not have a lot of prep to do for Camp Nano. However, much of the same guidelines exist for it as do for Nano, and I will begin posting those tips come March 🙂

I think, sometimes, we writers lose ourselves and our writing because we feel like failures. We have friends who manage to write thousands of words a day, or we know professors who are publishing a book a year.  Or we had professors who tried to push us to better ourselves, but in the end it just made us feel as if our writing was not good enough. Okay, so maybe that’s just me, but I am sure some of you have felt the same way. It can be difficult (in EVERYTHING) to look at what others have accomplished or done, and not be doing the same.

Yet, we do not know what is different in their world from ours. They may have much more time to write. They probably don’t have a crazy toddler to watch who is OBSESSED with their laptop. They may have made writing their career, and good for them. As much as I love writing, I also love what I do. I think I would continue doing what I do even if one day I become a successful crazy novelist (haha).  We need to remember to be realistic for our goals, and what WE can do for ourselves.  Lowering my word count goal, and having a GOAL has helped me so much.  I feel a million times better a day, because I am writing every day. I’m being creative. It’s great.

Also, Operation Declutter is slow going, but its going. I have emptied my closet of an entire playpen’s worth of clothing that I am going to sell/donate.  I even got rid of a ton of socks (I had like three drawers worth…).  I’m going through my books. I separated out the book I have not read yet, and am now making that a priority before I am allowed to get random books (okay, Morning Star did not count). I want less crap laying around, and I’m working toward that. It feels super. I even just received a book about decluttering for a review. So woot!

I am hoping to have a couple of book giveaways at the end of this month, so stay tuned for me figuring that out 🙂

Peace!

Writing Prompt

I almost forgot to write! Not cool, then again, I had a migraine today and I can barely breathe. Also not cool.  So, I’ll cut my some slack since I really want to sleep but am going to write this first. Nanowrimo prep!

Prompt: A seafaring fantasy where your protagonist is not a pirate. Bonus points if s/he’s not in the navy, either.

“Land, ho!”

I hear them yelling above me, as footsteps cross the deck and ropes fall.  It’s a unique pattern I’ve grown to hearing these last few years.  I’ve become used to the noise, the creaking of the timber, and the salt in the air.  Lucky for me, the crew has finally become used to me as well.

Land. I rush up above deck with my sketch book, and find a nice area to prop myself.  I begin drawing the island, for that is what it is, as we come upon it. There is a small pier, and I wonder where we have landed.  The crew is excited, as a pier means people.  And leave.  At least for a few days.

“BRIANNA!”

Uh oh.  I turn toward the bellow, looking for his face.  I see his hat first.  You would think my father wouldn’t go for such stereotypes but he claimed it was no fun to a be a pirate if you couldn’t wear the hat.  It is at that moment that he catches sight of me. “Hi father!” I wave merrily, and begin climbing down.

“Look! Land.  Don’t you want to go with the landing party and explore?”

“No. You know I very well do not.”

“You do not even know where we are.”

“I don’t suppose that matters, now does it? I’m not leaving the ship.”

“Brianna…”  I catch the slight whine to his voice and know that after two years of this he must be about ready to murder me himself. Actually, scratch that. He probably wishes his crew had done it when they threatened it.

“I am NOT leaving.  I know what you swore to Mother.”

“I am a Pirate, you know. It means I don’t KEEP my word.”

“You always kept your word to momma.”

My father sighs heavily.  The crew pays us no mind. We have had this almost exact argument more times than I can count. I really don’t know why he bothers anymore.

“One of these days missy, you will not be able to stay on this ship. And you better hope your feet land somewhere you want to stay.”

“Aye, aye sir.”

I watch him glare at me, and realize that his wheels are turning. He has taken me all over the world in the past two years trying to tempt me off this ship to keep his promise. More than once he has tried to have me carried off. After a few little mishaps, his men refuse to even try. I may not be allowed to be a pirate, but I am one by birth. I always have tricks up my sleeve.

But, so it appears, does my father.  I see a man waving on shore, and I hear my father’s shouts. “Father! Long time no see.”

We have pulled in much closer than we normally would.  As we reach the pier, it dawns on me how familiar this place is. And there is only one person my father would call Father. “You tricky man.”

He picks that moment to turn and smile. “You remember your grandfather? Your mother wanted to see him again, but she did not get the chance. I thought it was time I honored that part of the bargain.”

“I am still not stepping foot on this island.”

“Have it your way. TIE HER UP MEN! WE STAY HERE”  There is a large shout from the crew. They are ready to rest.  On my father’s mad dash from the top of the globe to here in his effort to tempt me off the boat, they have had little of it.

I so badly want to see my grandfather.  It has been almost five years.  I was only 12 the last time I saw him, but I still remember him reading to me by the fire. It was one of the reasons I starting writing down my father’s adventures.

(Battery is dying. I really like this.  More later)

Let me know what you think!

Book Review: Doon

Doon (Doon, #1)Doon by Carey Corp
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Veronica doesn’t think she’s going crazy. But why can’t anyone else see the mysterious blond boy who keeps popping up wherever she goes?

When her best friend, Mackenna, invites her to spend the summer in Scotland, Veronica jumps at the opportunity to leave her complicated life behind for a few months. But the Scottish countryside holds other plans. Not only has the imaginary kilted boy followed her to Alloway, she and Mackenna uncover a strange set of rings and a very unnerving letter from Mackenna’s great aunt—and when the girls test the instructions Aunt Gracie left behind, they find themselves transported to a land that defies explanation.

Doon seems like a real-life fairy tale, complete with one prince who has eyes for Mackenna and another who looks suspiciously like the boy from Veronica’s daydreams. But Doon has a dark underbelly as well. The two girls could have everything they’ve longed for… or they could end up breaking an enchantment and find themselves trapped in a world that has become a nightmare.” — Amazon.com — Summary of Book

I have to say that I was worried about this book because I had not heard of it before. However, my worries were ridiculous, and I am so happy that I read it. The actual reason I purchased this book is because I am receiving the second book soon for a book review, and how glad am I that I chose that particular book to read out of several? Very.

While I first I was worried this would be another cheesy romantic fairy tale of a teenager, it never once felt like that. Overall, I devoured this book and wanting to keep reading even when I was falling asleep and struggling to read just one more word.

First and foremost is the writing. It is spot on, and something I admire to live up to. The writers do one bang-up job of creating these characters and giving them their own personality (It is my belief that one must write Veronica, and one writes Mackenna). One of my favorite things about this novel is that Veronica is an avid reader (even though she’s a cheerleader/dancer), and her thoughts often reference novels. Not only that, but Mackenna is an actress, and she often thinks of musical related thoughts. There are references to Tolkien (which made me squeal in glee), to Twilight, and many pop culture things, as well as to classic literature (such as Jane Austen). It truly is great, and a wonderful addition to the writing and timeline. Furthermore, their descriptions are always dead on and I do not think overdone.

The characters are all pretty great. Though there are the teenage moments, I think it fits with the characters and is kept to a minimum. I had my moments were I wasn’t sure of Jaimy’s character but overall he is fine. The settings are wonderfully described. The legend/fantasy aspect is great.

The plot paces very well, with minor things leading up to more major points. The idea of Jaimy and Vee together is interwoven throughout the novel. Switching back and forth between Veronica and Mackenna is great because it gives you two different perspectives, although you are not reading about the same thing from each one. The story continues from where it left off, as it switches point of view, and I liked it. We get more of Veronica’s thoughts, but that is because this story is more about her. I think in the next novel, based on the heartbreaking epilogue, that more of the second novel will be told from Kenna’s point of view.

I have to give this book four stars. With a stressful start back to grad school, classes, a new internship and a new assistantship, this book was a wonderful escape into a different world. I do think that some people would probably find the pop culture references annoying, but I personally liked them because they did fit in with the novel and it was never just pulled out of the hat.

SPOILERS! Buuut… there was one major thing that bugged me. There is only given a tiny explanation – the fact that Doon is slightly modernized. The whole “we go over and have 24 hours to decide what to bring back and how to change Doon without ruining our culture” bit bothered me. As a person holding a history degree I was just kind of … dumbfounded. Okay, I will totally buy into the fact that people are called over and bring with them the ability to make pizza and sushi (except they can’t get to the ocean, ever – which I just realized. What kind of sushi are they making????). But… plumping? Okay, maybe a plumber came to Doon. Yep. Maybe. I dunno. That just gets kind of hard to wrap your head around. And they have first editions of many novels – they only come to our world every so often – how do they manage to grab the books? It was all kinda just thrown in so the authors didn’t have to worry about doing real medieval research on Scotland…. and so it would be easier for the two teens to want to move there.

And after reading a few other reviews – I do have to agree that while the characters are flawed in different ways… they are all apparently perfect and beautiful, which to the rest of the world is of course annoying.

My sister-in-law Amanda shall be reading this book starting now, so she shall have a review up very soon as well.

And I do look forward to the next one!!!!

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