Cover Reveal: Mark of the Dragon

And now for something completely different!

I get to be part of probably one of the most awesome book release steps. REVEALING THE COVER. Cause, let’s be honest, we ALL judge a book by its cover. We do, we know we do. And I’m happy to say this one is frickin’ sweet as hell.

Check it:

mark of the dragon

Whaaaaaat?
WHAAAAAAT?

If you don’t think that’s a sweet cover you’re a liar.

Now that the cover’s done its job and got you pumped, check out the blurb:

Rosario Hernandez doesn’t ask for much. She’d like to sleep on a bed instead of a sidewalk, to know where her next meal is coming from, and maybe, if she’s really feeling optimistic, to get a girlfriend. More than anything, though, she wants her best friend Arkay to not murder anyone— because Arkay is a dragon, claws and all, and she has a penchant for vigilante justice. When Arkay’s latest escapade goes sour, Rosario gets stuck with a stolen van and a cooler full of human organs. Now they’re on the run, and it’s not just the cops who want answers. The owner of the cooler is still out there, and they want to replace what they’ve lost— by any means necessary. 

I was fortunate enough to be able to read an early draft of this and I was really impressed. Whatever you think you know, whatever you’re prepared to expect, you’re wrong.

know nothing

 

This book kept me guessing at every turn and wanting to punch the author in that “Why do you hate me, pls stop hurting your characters” kind of way. It’s got a snarky ass-kicking dragon, a lesbian main character, some pretty interesting lore, and a solid friendship at its core that seriously gave me all the feels. (Also there’s that whole cooler full of human organs thing, if you prefer that over feels. No judgement. …a  little judgment.)

Mark of the Dragon is the first in a 9 part mini-series. But don’t worry! It doesn’t end with one of those obnoxious cliff hangers leaving you feeling like well now I have to read the next one. No, no, you don’t have to, but you’ll want to. The first book will be hitting digital shelves September 3rd, so be on the look out! Better yet, add it to your Goodreads shelf!

The Author:

Author picture   JW Troemner was born in Germany and emigrated to the United States, where she lives with her partner in a house full of pets. Most days she can be found gazing longingly at sinkholes and abandoned buildings.

Fantabulous Fiction: Fortune’s Pawn

*note* I decided to re-brand my book recommendation posts. Does it really count as “re-branding” if there’s only been 2 others prior to this one? OH WELL. You all know how I love me some alliteration and “book thoughts” just was. not. CUTTING IT. So now we have “Fantabulous Fiction”! I’ve also added a menu on the sidebar to find all my recs in one spot. HUZZAH!

This isn’t a book review, this is a book recommendation. As such, I won’t be comparing the good/bad, what I thought worked/didn’t work, or any of those things you expect out of a review. Instead, I’m telling you that I think you should read it and why.

œF$¿Æ‘$8Òò¤»däå¸R8BI

Fortune’s Pawn is everything I didn’t know I needed. But first, check out the Goodread’s blurb:

Devi Morris isn’t your average mercenary. She has plans. Big ones. And a ton of ambition. It’s a combination that’s going to get her killed one day – but not just yet.
That is, until she just gets a job on a tiny trade ship with a nasty reputation for surprises. The Glorious Fool isn’t misnamed: it likes to get into trouble, so much so that one year of security work under its captain is equal to five years everywhere else. With odds like that, Devi knows she’s found the perfect way to get the jump on the next part of her Plan. But the Fool doesn’t give up its secrets without a fight, and one year on this ship might be more than even Devi can handle.

Contrary to what the write-up says, Devi kind of is your average merc. Or at least, what you’d expect of one. You know, the shoot-first, brain-later, thinks almost as much with what’s between their legs as what’s on their shoulders, less-talking, more blowing shit up, whoa-where-you-going-with-that-bottle-buddy kind of merc. She just also happens to be a woman. And I love it.

The book itself feels a bit like Firefly but with a varied cast and actual aliens. (So maybe more like Farscape or Mass Effect, even.) I could see Devi as a Macolm Reynolds meets Aeryn Sun meets Star-lord meets Commander-Shepard-Can’t-Dance kind of character. Devi is not perfect. In fact, she’s kind of an ass and most definitely speciest like whoa. But that comes from the entire shoot-first, brain-later mentality and somewhat ignorant life she’s been living up to now. So it’s interesting to see her slowly overcome these ingrained ways of thought (even if she doesn’t seem to fully realize it).

Speaking of aliens, there are four named ones and each are unique. Following the course of the story we get to learn more about one (the xith’cal) than the others, but we’ll see what happens in the other books. I, for one, liked the worldbuilding. Hyrek, a xith’cal, is one of my favorite characters. It takes some skill to make a secondary character that only communicates by typing on a screen and has limited, pseudo-reptilian facial expressions, have such a vibrant personality. He was instantly one of my faves.

Also, ROMANCE. This book definitely mashes up genres and it’s a little risky but I think it paid off. I mean yeah, Devi is on this ship because it’ll look bananas on her resume, but the girl ain’t DEAD aight? So when she sees what she wants, she’s like, HMM. MINE NOW. Even Ripley got some in Alien 3 because THE GIRL AIN’T DEAD, AIGHT? There is definitely some swooning and pining and heated kissery because, say it with me now, THE. GIRL. AIN’T. DEAD.

AIGHT?

Besides that though, there’s a definite bromance (girlmance?) between Devi and one of the secondary characters, Nova. For as much as Devi is caught off-guard by her attraction to the romantic lead, she’s equally caught off by actually caring what anyone thinks, and finds herself more often than not going out of her way to make Nova smile, or be conscientious of what she says to her. Which I was so glad to read. I’m all for female friendships.

Now, don’t think because of the aforementioned swooning and pining and gettin’ some that there’s a dearth of action. NOPE. Devi kicks all the ass and takes all the names. She’s not invincible but damn there’s a reason she’s lasted this long as a merc and we get to see that. I’m talking plasma shotguns and anti-armor pistols and grenades and thermite blades that cut through people (and aliens) like nobody’s business. Devi kills people (and aliens) and is damn good at it.

Finally, amidst all the kissing and shooting, there’s legit scary shit going on in this setting. Devi is poking at the tip of a VERY LARGE space-iceberg. Fortunately, she reaches a point where she’s like:

 

Except it’s way too late.

Fantabulous Fiction: Nimona

This isn’t a book review, this is a book recommendation. As such, I won’t be comparing the good/bad, what I thought worked/didn’t work, or any of those things you expect out of a review. Instead, I’m telling you that I think you should read it and why.

nimona

So this has been floating around for a little while now, and I saw quite a few people in my Twitter feed losing their minds and I wasn’t quite sure why. Then I read the blurb and was like oooo, Ok, ok, I can get behind this. Check out the blurb on Goodreads:

The graphic novel debut from rising star Noelle Stevenson, based on her beloved and critically acclaimed web comic, which Slate awarded its Cartoonist Studio Prize, calling it “a deadpan epic.”

Nemeses! Dragons! Science! Symbolism! All these and more await in this brilliantly subversive, sharply irreverent epic from Noelle Stevenson. Featuring an exclusive epilogue not seen in the web comic, along with bonus conceptual sketches and revised pages throughout, this gorgeous full-color graphic novel is perfect for the legions of fans of the web comic and is sure to win Noelle many new ones.

Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren’t the heroes everyone thinks they are.

But as small acts of mischief escalate into a vicious battle, Lord Blackheart realizes that Nimona’s powers are as murky and mysterious as her past. And her unpredictable wild side might be more dangerous than he is willing to admit.

A book with dragons and science but also symbolism? Sign me up!

No but seriously, this graphic novel delivers all of that and then some. The first chapter is all of 2 pages and ends with Nimona as a shark, with her head tilted back, mouth wide-open, saying YEEEESSSS.

And after just those two pages I was like YAAAAASS.

(And let’s not forget the white-knight-esque “good guy”/nemesis’s name is Goldenloin. GOLDENLOIN.)

Look it’s hard to say what makes this book so damn amazing without spoiling things. Which I suppose explains why my Twitter feed was blowing up with it a few months back but no deets on why. I can safely say that one of the things I loved most is this fantasy/sci-fi setting it’s got. No, not fantasy or sci-fi, it’s both. You’ve got dragons and witches and also laser type guns and secret labs. You’ve got nobles and peasants and jousting and a legit Science Fair. Nimona shares her backstory, which is complete with a witch and a spell and a dragon, while sitting on a fridge drinking a can of soda in Blackheart’s secret lab, before asking if they can get pizza delivered.  It’s a little world of it’s own and it just pulls you right in.

Beyond that world, I love all of the characters. Nimona is not at all what she seems. Well, that’s not entirely true cause she seems like an amoral shapeshifter with a knack, and penchant, for killing people–which she is. But there’s still more to it. And the backstory/relationship between Blackheart and Goldenloin, SWEET GREASY BACON, not what I thought it would be and I loved it. The characters have depth and nuance.

It’s dark and humorous and a scary and a little sad. I mean do you actually want anything else out of a story? C’mon. Also, Nimona is this short little chubby thing and I love it. She’s a shapeshifter. She can be, and is at various points, a shark, a dragon, a cat, and she chooses to be this short, chubby girl of kickassery. And I love that.

It’s a standalone and works well as one, but I can’t deny I’m a bit grabby-hands for more in this world, with these characters.

Look just shut up and read the book already!

 

This is my 2016 Post

Apparently it’s a new year or something. That’s cool. Every year, at some point, I create a post talking about how I’ll post more. And then, indubitably, life happens and the universe is like “cool story, bro” and then I disappear. So I won’t even bother making that post.

2015 is over and good riddance! It started off so well, so promising and then it was just like

community what happened

 

So I am 2000% ready for a new year. But only if it’s going to be a boss new year. None of that…whatever it was 2015 was trying to pull. And so far it’s going well. New job, new place, new semester. Lots of new! (Although to be honest, in some categories I’d settle for ‘old and improved’.) Goals this year are much the same of every year. Finish the WiP. Seek representation. Get a ps4. Play Fallout4. Ohglob I need it. Be healthy? That one seems a bit lofty since much of my health isn’t really up to me anymore. Read 50 books. Which is kind of insane considering things like school and work and hobbies. But I’m going for it! (And hey, this semester I’m only taking 17 credits instead of last semester’s 19!)

New Year’s Resolutions? I don’t know. Be better. Be stronger. And when needed, let the tears come.

Let’s do this.

emperor out

You Aren’t a Genius, But You May Have One

As you may, or may not know, I’m back in school again, going for my Bachelor’s in Interior Design (with a minor in architecture). So now that I’m once again, theoretically, exposed to this font of knowledge and a diversity of opinions, I’ll periodically come across things I think are worth sharing with you all. Here’s the first.

Yes, it’s a video. Don’t freak out, it’s just under twenty minutes long, but it certainly doesn’t feel like it. The speaker, author Elizabeth Gilbert, is very entertaining and engaging, it’ll be over before you know it (which is kind of a shame).

My thoughts?

Obviously, as a writer, this immediately had appeal to me and pulled me in. But it isn’t just that, I like the universality of Gilbert’s talk, how it can be applied to just about any craft. Art, writing, performance—it’s a sound theory with practical applications.

An interesting aspect of this is that it can easily be interpreted as shifting the blame, as not taking responsibility for our mistakes or shortcomings. From there it isn’t a far jump to stagnation in creativity. The whole process of improvement is based on learning from mistakes, but if we attribute our mistakes to some imaginary, intangible, and uncontrollable force, well the blame isn’t on us, is it? And then there’s nothing for us to “fix” because it isn’t our fault, not really.

Part of what drives us to constantly push to be better is that fear of failure, the fear of repeated mistakes, the fear of never being good enough. Gilbert is coming at this from the unique perspective of already having had a huge success, which comes with a completely different set of fears. I do agree though, regardless of where these fears originate, the weight of them can be crushing and is in part what leads to this notion of the depressed, suicidal writer (or the misunderstood, emotional artist in general).

I believe there has to be a balance between the two. Fear of failure has its uses. We need to recognize failure as our own shortcomings, so that we can strive to correct them at their core. This process not only serves the immediate purpose of fixing the current problem area but by us consciously strengthening our skills, prevents these shortcomings from manifesting again. Simply attributing it to an unknowable force can be seen as an easy way out.

That’s not to say though, that this concept doesn’t have its uses. Just as writers, and creators in general, need to know when to really kick themselves, when to be critical, when to ask the hard questions of “Is it as good as it can be, not just good enough”, we also need to know when to take a step back. When to leave the scene for another one, when to put the paintbrush down and pick up a piece of charcoal instead.

I like this theory of Gilbert’s, but as with all tips and tricks in regards to creative endeavors, I don’t think it’s an end-all solution, it’s just another step in the process, another tool to have at our disposal that it’s up to us, as artists, to recognize when it will be most useful to pull out.

Maybe the next time I’m headbutting my keyboard in frustration, I’ll direct it at my own genius and tell them to get their shit together. No doubt the cats will be a bit confused. Although no more than usual, I suspect.

Fantabulous Fiction: Thieftaker

This isn’t a book review, this is a book recommendation. As such, I won’t be comparing the good/bad, what I thought worked/didn’t work, or any of those things you expect out of a review. Instead, I’m telling you that I think you should read it and why.

thieftaker

For a really long while now I’ve been feeling pretty ‘meh’ on reading. Something would sound interesting, I’d check out the blurb, the first line, the first page, the first FIFTY pages, but nothing kept my interest. I started 2 adult high fantasies, 2 YAs (one high fantasy, one urban fantasy), and an adult urban fantasy, and none of them seemed to be doing it for me.

And then Ethan Kaille sauntered in. Or limped, really. Ethan couldn’t saunter if he wanted to.

Here’s the blurb form Goodreads:

Boston, 1765: In D.B. Jackson’s Thieftaker, revolution is brewing as the British Crown imposes increasingly onerous taxes on the colonies, and intrigue swirls around firebrands like Samuel Adams and the Sons of Liberty. But for Ethan Kaille, a thieftaker who makes his living by conjuring spells that help him solve crimes, politics is for others…until he is asked to recover a necklace worn by the murdered daughter of a prominent family.

Suddenly, he faces another conjurer of enormous power, someone unknown, who is part of a conspiracy that reaches to the highest levels of power in the turbulent colony. His adversary has already killed—and not for his own gain, but in the service of his powerful masters, people for whom others are mere pawns in a game of politics and power. Ethan is in way over his head, and he knows it. Already a man with a dark past, he can ill afford to fail, lest his livelihood be forfeit. But he can’t stop now, for his magic has marked him, so he must fight the odds, even though he seems hopelessly overmatched, his doom seeming certain at the spectral hands of one he cannot even see.

Thieftaker is very much historical fiction, but even though I’ve never really read the genre, I felt right at home. Because magic. Because blood magic. *squeal* But also, because Ethan.

Here’s the thing: Ethan routinely gets his ass kicked. I mean, like clockwork. He gets beat up by the thugs of his professional rival, he gets beat up by another conjurer, he gets beat up by a little ghost girl, and multiple times by each. And not like, “oh no, I have a split lip”. Like, “ohfuck I have a split lip, several broken ribs, an eye so swollen I can’t even SEE out of it, and now it’s raining. Awesome”. And I LOVED it. Ethan is very much out of his element here. He doesn’t solve mysteries, much less murder mysteries, he recovers stolen items and that’s it. He doesn’t know the right questions to ask, he doesn’t Sherlock his way through things, and often finds himself following the wrong leads. He’s an adequate conjurer and honestly I can’t even say how good of a fighter he is cause he’s always getting outnumbered (and even then he manages pretty well). And all of that just made him all the more human to me. When Ethan turns a corner and there’s a brute standing there grinning at him, you just don’t know how it’s going to turn out. You don’t know which fight will be his last. You don’t know if he’ll solve the mystery. You get legitimately concerned for this guy.

I don’t know about you guys, but I like my heroes to have some weaknesses. I like imperfect heroes. I like to have a reason to root for them, not just sit back and wait for them to win cause of course they’ll win, they’re the hero. Ethan is really human to me, and that’s what made this book stand out against 5 others I’d tried.

You get so wrapped up in who he is, what he’s about, how he feels on things that (and I’m going to try and keep this as spoiler-free as possible), when a certain character dies, even though that character literally never says a single word the entire book, it hits you because it hits Ethan. He just can’t bear it and you just can’t bear to see him barely able to cope. It was glorious!

Thieftaker was a great change of pace for me, it’s re-sparked my reading bug and I think everyone should read it. It’s also a standalone! So I’m not dragging you into a series that you have to wait several books to get all your questions answered. (Although I’m already ordering the next book in the series, because Ethan. Also because I’m hoping a certain character that has awesome thieftaking/conjuring promise gets more development and becomes this thieftaker BADASS.)

Now go read!

Book Thoughts

This isn’t the post you’re looking for.

No, really. This is a post that tells you about the post you can look for that won’t be around until Wednesday.

The deets: I’m thinking of doing a small segment of my blog that’s purely for talking about books I’ve read and loved and why I loved them and why you should go read it and love it. They aren’t reviews. (Cause we all know as a writer and aspiring author that’s just not something I’m allowed to do.) They’re recommendations. It’s something I’ve seen other writers/authors do, and even a few authors that have newsletters that I subscribe to, every so often they’ll give a shout out to a book they loved.

So, what do you guys think? I’m not saying it’d happen once a month or anything like that, just whenever I read something and I feel the urge to rave about it on Twitter, or to anyone within a 3-feet radius that will listen, cause then I know I should probably share it with you guys.

Also, thoughts for a title header for these? I’m running with Book Thoughts right now. Other options were “Reading Recs”, “Lauded Literature”, “Book Boost” and my Roomie’s very helpful suggestion of “Book Butts”.

Look for the first one this Wednesday!