reviews

Reading: Sunset at Pencarrow

Regular readers of this blog will remember my interview with Anne Barwell about her release with co-author Lou Sylvre, Sunset at Pencarrow. I’m reading it now (very slowly because of a lot of family stuff that is happening), and wow. The story could not be more apt.

The two main characters meet when their flights out of Wellington are grounded because of fog.

Lead article when I took a break to check the news feed on my phone: Rotorua to Christchurch trip takes group to Auckland, 28 hours later.  The headline is a little misleading. The group is from Christchurch, heading to Rotorua–the exact same trip I’m making in August to the RWNZ 2017 Conference.

We’ve had similar headlines all week, as temperatures drop and snow fell in a lot of the South Island. Here’s hoping that Anne and Lou write a follow up novel, where the heroes have smooth flights all the way to Rotorua, is what I say.

Buy Sunset at Pencarrow.

Dreamspinner Press  | Google Books | iTunes | Kobo |Amazon| Barnes and Noble 

SunsetAtPencarrow 400x600Blurb:

Kiwi Nathaniel Dunn is in a fighting mood, but how does a man fight Wellington’s famous fog? In the last year, Nate’s lost his longtime lover to boredom and his ten-year job to the economy. Now he’s found a golden opportunity for employment where he can even use his artistic talent, but to get the job, he has to get to Christchurch today. Heavy fog means no flight, and the ticket agent is ignoring him to fawn over a beautiful but annoying, overly polite American man.

Rusty Beaumont can deal with a canceled flight, but the pushy Kiwi at the ticket counter is making it difficult for him to stay cool. The guy rubs him all the wrong ways despite his sexy working-man look, which Rusty notices even though he’s not looking for a man to replace the fiancé who died two years ago. Yet when they’re forced to share a table at the crowded airport café, Nate reveals the kind heart behind his grumpy façade. An earthquake, sex in the bush, and visits from Nate’s belligerent ex turn a day of sightseeing into a slippery slope that just might land them in love.

World of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the globe.

 

 

 

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A Kind of Magic.

I love writing books. Not only is it absolutely fascinating to see how other writers write and where they get their inspiration, but as a beginner writer, I know I have a lot to learn. I couldn’t tell you how many books about writing I’ve bought and read this year. Yay, writing!

Yet, for all of my hard work and focus, I seemed to be getting stuck, and spending more time second guessing myself than I was writing or editing. A lot of that was freelance work taking up my time, but I can’t blame everything on freelance work. After all, having a full-time job in Japan didn’t stop me from writing. So what was missing?

Most of the books I’d read were focused on planning, marketing, writing fast or increasing productivity. All good things! But somewhere along the way, I lost the fun part of writing—the part where you know you have no idea what you’re doing and that’s okay. That’s what Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic is all about.

 

Gilbert believes in creativity. Not just that it’s a worthwhile way to spend your time, but that it’s transformative and a force in itself. She gives ideas agency, but doesn’t relent on hard work either. She urges embracing the many contradictions involved in the writing process (take it seriously, but not that seriously), without trying to make sense of them. Most of all, she emphasises wonder.

Most of my writing mentors are really practical, proactive people, and I have the feeling that Gilbert’s approach is too woo-woo for most. While I don’t agree with all of her conclusions, I found that her strong belief in the magical aspects of creativity touched part of me that I’d been neglecting—the wonder. And strangely, the reminder that writing should be fun is what got me back to work, while Gilbert’s acknowledgement that any creative project might fail, and that’s okay, is also tremendously freeing. While I won’t be adopting Gilbert’s approach to writing, I think that her perspective is one I’ll be returning to again and again on my writing journey.

Big Magic on Amazon: Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

Morgen Song reviewed at Love Bytes!

Morgen Song was reviewed today at Love Bytes Same Sex Book Reviews, and I could not be happier. Dan did a wonderful review of Deep Magic and Morgen Curse both back in June, and I was delighted that he took the time to review Morgen Song. Thank you, Dan!

Check out Dan’s review here–and while you’re on Love Bytes, check out their Best of 2016, starting with Sarina’s recommendations here. In addition to some great book recs, there are three awesome prizes up for grabs.

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Release Day Review: Junk Mage by Elliot Cooper!

 

JunkMageBlog

July the 4th (look, it is the 4th in Japan, okay?) is a very apt launch date for Junk Mage! It is an explosive read, with a bit of tumult, some fireworks–and a scared pet. Not a cat this time, but a Narl, a very unpleasant sounding inhabitant of the planet Marutak–but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Junk Mage is the latest novelette by Elliot Cooper. I’ve been anticipating it ever since my last interview with Elliot. I thoroughly enjoyed The Clockwork Menagerie–Elliot’s deft characterisation and his ability to tell a strong, compelling story in a short space of words really impressed me, so I was eager to see his take on sci-fi. I was not disappointed!

JunkMage-f500We are introduced to Quill immediately. He is an irreverent technomancer in a lot of trouble. Crash-landed on a hostile planet without the supplies necessary to fix his ship, and no one coming to his rescue, Quill is racing against time to keep his teaching position. This original addition to a sci-fi story was emblematic of what was to come. Elliot’s originality and enthusiastic energy is what propels the Junk Mage forward. The Narls were skin-crawling yet fascinating, Hunter a delightful puzzle, while Turo, the antagonist of the story, stole the show for me. I loved technomancy and Elliot’s take on cyborgs. The universe is fun and I thoroughly recommend it for anyone wanting a fun sci-fi romp!

For people wanting a more romantic story, I’d recommend The Clockwork Menagerie  instead! In Junk Mage, I feel like the succinctness of the story works against the romantic developments between Hunter and Quill. I liked both characters, and they each had nice moments–A technomancer who makes time to call his parents even when marooned on a hostile planet? I loved that–but I felt that they needed more time to develop. This may, of course, be my greediness for more of Elliot’s writing talking! I rate Junk Mage a thoroughly enjoyable 4 stars out of 5, and look forward to whatever Elliot brings us next!

Thanks to NineStar Press who provided me with an advance copy of Junk Mage in return for an honest review!


 

Junk Mage Blurb

When technomancer Quillian Defote crash-lands on remote planet Marutuk, he has limited time to repair his ship and get off world. If he fails, he’ll forfeit his position as professor of mechanical transmutation at the prestigious Ivy Arcanarium and ruin his employment prospects in yet another sector.

Hunter, a cyborg guarding a junkyard that holds what Quill needs, is charmed by the wayward mage and wants to help him. But Hunter is bound by honor to dutifully guard his mistress and her possessions, no matter how cruelly she treats him.

Together Quill and Hunter stand a chance of starting a new life together if carnivorous wildlife, a violent necromancer, and stubborn pride don’t keep them apart.

Junk Mage available from NineStar Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | ARE | Goodreads


elliotcooper2015Author Bio

Elliot Cooper is a creativity addict who enjoys writing stories that embody adventure, a hint of the taboo, and shadows that are deeper than they appear at first glance. He also enjoys video games and knitting, and lives in the southern US with his human and feline family.

website | twitter 


Excerpt

Elliot Cooper © 2016

All Rights Reserved

I fiddled with the controls on my binocular goggles, one of my own handy creations, and panned the tree line beyond the open, greeneryilled expanse stretching out on the other side of the road. Nothing caught my eye, even at higher magnification. I went left, following the road, jetbike blowing dirt and gravel up into a chalky cloud behind me.

The road curved around a section of deep, dark forest, and I saw my savior. Like a beacon of rusting hope, the hulking bodies of old ships, bikes, boats, and wheeled vehicles hunkered in a huge, fencedff ring at the end of the road.

It was the most beautiful pile of junk I’d ever seen.

A lone figure moved among the wreckage, and I knew I had no time to lose. If I played this right, I could cut a deal, get some parts to work with, and be back to old Lemon before sunset. The bug-eyed critters liked to ease out of the forests, slow and sloth-like, as soon as the light began to fade. No way did I want to figure out why they made those creepy chittering, gnashing noises all night.

I parked my bike and hopped off near the gate, flipping my goggles up and wiping my forehead with my sleeve as I went. It was never a good idea to sneak up on someone who was openly armed, and I definitely wanted the guy’s full attention. I waved in greeting and smiled with all the warmth and excitement I could muster.

“Hey! Hi! You there! With the gun!”

He marched over—huge, bald, and muscled—the brown coveralls tied at his waist and his tight tank top leaving very little to the imagination. It looked like he’d been given hand-me-downs from a scrawnier brother.

“State your business,” he demanded in a rich voice, his rifle in sight but lowered. Half of the hand beside the trigger was polished silver metal.

“I’m interested in buying some parts. Are you the owner?” His expression turned quizzical. Armed guard, then.  “D’you guys take universal credits? Please say you take them.” I didn’t have anything else. I hadn’t intended to take a side trip to a backwater thieves’ den that didn’t even seem to have any thieves in it. But here was captain beefcake, potential business partner, hero, and temporary social life. If he didn’t shoot me.

“Nothing’s for sale. Move along.” He gestured with his gun.

“I can’t interest you in a barter? Something?”

He stood there like a human wall. He didn’t even blink.

“Go away.”

“Look, I crashed on the beach. I just want to get what I need and… well, go away. From this whole weird planet. But to do that, I need some parts. Please.”

“In ten seconds, if you’re still standing there, I’ll shoot.” The cyborg raised his rifle and peered down the sight.

I wondered if he had bionic eyes, too. I wondered if the fence was electrified. I wondered what I could say to change his mind. Whatever it was, it’d take more than ten seconds to work out.

My hands up defensively, I motioned—thoughts working the gun’s barrel up at a ninety-degree angle with a loud creak. The cyborg jerked his head up and stared at the gun, then at me.

“I’m sure we can work out a deal, mister,” I said and put on another of my charming smiles. It usually worked, but this guy was a tough nut to crack. “You have to need something. Everybody needs something or other.”

“Another junk mage.” His brows furrowed over his deep set eyes. It wasn’t a good look for him. His face went impassive again as he tossed his rifle aside and reached behind his back with one hand. There had to be a pistol or some other weapon tucked into his coveralls, but he was smart enough to know if I couldn’t see it, I couldn’t easily ruin it.

“Huh. I’ve never been called that before,” I told him, even though he’d been talking to himself. Maybe that’d get Ry to crack a smile on our next call. Quillian Defote: junk mage extraordinaire. “Is your boss a technomancer? Can I talk to them? Mage to mage?”

“She doesn’t like strangers I don’t shoot.”

Junk Mage available from NineStar Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | ARE | Goodreads

Check out Ninestar’s events calendar for information on additional blog stops for Junk Mage and other upcoming releases!