Bookreview: Firebound #fantasy #FlashbackFriday

This is a special post I do once a month to highlight a book I reviewed some time ago, but never actually featured on my blog. Because this is an author blog and not a book blog, I don’t always feature all the books I read. Like all good and dedicated fans of the written word, I do my part and leave reviews on Goodreads.com, Amazon.com, and sometimes other places, but don’t always bring attention to what I’m reading, unless you follow me on YouTube… hint, hint, wink wink 😉 In any case, please enjoy this review of a book I read at some point in my life.

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Today’s flashback review is a little special but mostly because today is International Authors Day. I’m featuring a review of a book from an author I really like.

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Goodreads

Title:  Firebound

Series: Spellbringers #2

Author: Tricia Drammeh

Genre: Urban Fantasy Romance, Paranormal

Pages: 285

Reading Level: Teen

Content: PG-13 (violence, sensuality, brief mild sexual content, dark and mature themes, adult situations, suspense)

In book one my heart went out to Bryce who seemed to be misunderstood, but in book 2 I really fell in love with Alisa. She’s the only character with no power of her own, yet she seems to be the strongest of them all. Depending on how you look at it, Alisa is the reason the Alexander family is as mighty as they are. In their society of magic and Spellbringers, their connection to this one human keeps them all from becoming monsters… I may be exaggerating a bit, but in any case, I really adore Alisa.

Rachel, on the other hand, is a character that despite her many many flaws, I can’t hate but don’t exactly love her. I feel for her in many ways, but she seems to be a bit self-destructive. Like all self-destructive people, she also hurts others as a result. The one thing she seems to have going for her is the fact that she is apparently the most powerful being on the planet though she hasn’t realized the extent of her powers. As destructive as she is, I still like her more than Jace.

It’s not that I don’t like Jace. I feel a bit indifferent about this character. I can see that he will continue to grow as the story develops, but for now, he’s a pretty face, decent brother, and good son.

The action of this book is much more involved, which I didn’t think was possible. Alisa and Bryce struggle to be close yet so far apart. After he speaks the claiming words to her, they crave each other but can’t share each other or live together. Alisa is forgetting what an independent person she used to be and Bryce is clinging to her affection so he won’t turn to the dark side. Yeah, whoa!

Rachel has the best of intentions trying to protect her brother but she has to know that going on dream dates with a demon isn’t going to end well. Plus, there’s more than one demon after her. When, Alisa, the only human in the bunch has to risk her life to save Rachel, things heat up in more ways than one. What a perfect end to this installment and a grand enticement for the next.

I think I enjoyed this one just as much as the first. Highly recommended again.

Read my review of Spellbound here.

I give this book a 5.

This review has been posted to GoodReads.

If you’d like to obtain a copy of this book, try this link: Amazon

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords

The Wedding of Eithne by @MDellertDotCom – Interview by #thetoiboxofwords

Greetings readers, bloggers, geeks, and authors and welcome to The ToiBox of Words. I’m your host Toi Thomas, author of Eternal Curse, and today I’m sharing a special interview with author, Michael E.  Dellert, about his fiction book entitled, The Wedding of Eithne. Enjoy! 

Where did the idea for The Wedding of Eithne come from?

“The Wedding of Eithne” (and my books before it) have their origin in the first complete book that I ever wrote. In rewriting that book, I created a “Cuts” file as a place to dump a lot of back-story and exposition that was superfluous to that story. The “Cuts” file eventually came to some 191 pages of good story ideas in their own right. So in a sense The Wedding of Eithne is the last of a series of “prequels” to a book I’m still polishing for publication.

How did the title of this book come about?

For this book, I wanted a simple functional title that linked well with the last book in the series, since this was a continuation of that story from a new perspective.

I also wanted something that spoke to the particular story question: Will the Lady Eithne actually get married after everything that’s happened in the series to date, and what obstacles will come between her and the final decision to accept or reject the arranged marriage of the title?

What genre is this book and why did you choose to make it so?

“The Wedding of Eithne” is primarily a heroic fantasy novel, like the other works in my Matter of Manred series. The title heroine, Lady Eithne, is of relatively humble origin (being from the lowest rung of the aristocracy, and a bastard branch of her family besides), and has been reluctant for three books now to become an arranged bride, but she’s thrust into making this choice by events beyond her control. I wanted a smaller, intimate, character-driven story that explored questions of fate, free-will, pre-destination, family, and obligation, without the world-shaking overtones of epic fantasy.

What would you say is the overall message or the theme of this book?

I was raised Catholic, and have read a lot of “Chosen One” fantasy fiction over the years, and as a father of daughters, and a feminist-friendly person in general, the question of choice and free-will in relation to romance and religion is important me. So questions about fate, free-will, and the nature of evil feature prominently in the heroine’s development. It’s something of an “Abraham & Isaac” story, told from a female viewpoint, with marriage as the sacrificial altar. So these are the predominant themes in “The Wedding of Eithne.”

Tell me about the experience of writing this book; how long did it take.

Parts of “The Wedding of Eithne” go back fifteen years, and the original draft from which the core of this story emerged was written two years ago in about 90 days. And then this particular book was drafted last year in another 90-ish days, and went through about six months of rewrites before I was happy with the final draft. The process involved many years of researching medieval Irish culture, particularly marriage practices, myths, and legends. I even went to Ireland for a few weeks to immerse myself in the culture.

Tell me about the main storyline within this book.

The Lady Eithne has lived her whole life under a magical prohibition: she may not marry until the portents are favorable, but she’ll always have the right to choose her husband. Now, the portents are favorable, AND they coincide with an ancient prophecy. Eithne is left with little more than a day to decide whether to accept marriage arranged for her. But rival religious and political factions have their own ideas about her wedding plans. How can she avoid becoming a pawn for one side or another, yet still exercise her free right of choice?

Who is the protagonist of this story?

The Lady Eithne is the daughter of a minor aristocratic family, raised in a remote mountain village. Because of her magical prohibition, she aspired to a life beyond the typical fate of being married off as a teenager to the first man who could afford her bride-price. When the years went on, she began to think she’d end up an unmarried “spinster,” and learned about “men’s ways” in order to make an independent life for herself. Now that an arranged marriage has been contracted for her, she has to decide what love really means to her.

Who is the antagonist of this story?

This was actually an interesting problem in writing this novel. The visible antagonist is His Reverence Inloth, a priest who believes that his local religious institutions are corrupt and in need of reform, particularly its marriage practices. He is a native of the milieu, but studied abroad and returned with “foreign ideas” and a mission to make his countrymen “see the light” of the larger religious order. But there are also political opponents and “hidden” antagonists. Inloth’s reformation isn’t all that it seems to be, and not all of his villainous allies are honest and earnest.

What is the major conflict in this story?

As a divorced Catholic, I am myself something of an oxymoron, faced with the question of whether my marriage is actually still valid (no according to the State, but yes according to my Church). So the fundamental question in “The Wedding of Eithne” is whether Eithne really has the free-will to choose her own marriage partner, and what the consequences of that choice might be. She is also faced with the problem of whether her choice (if it is truly free) would be legitimate and valid, given the political and religious conflicts currently dividing her land.

Where and when is this story taking place?

“The Wedding of Eithne” is set in the dark, medieval-style milieu of my Matter of Manred fantasy series. The setting and political culture were influenced by 12th-Century AD Ireland in the decades preceding the Anglo-Norman Conquest, and the religious culture was inspired by hybridizing Irish myths and legends and mystic Pythagorean philosophy with real-life Catholic Church conflicts of the period. Robert E. Howard, Evangeline Walton, CJ Cherryh, and Glen Cook were the primary influences on the writing style, but I could probably spend 100 words just naming authors that have influenced me, there are so many.

Who is your favorite character in this book?

Although I love Lady Eithne and her betrothed, two minor characters who first appeared in my second book recur here: Adarc and Corentin. The first is essentially a fourteen-year-old seminary student, acting as a guide and interpreter for the second, a foreign merchant’s apprentice “studying the market” for his trading company. I love them because they have such divergent world-views, the spiritual versus the commercial. In a way, they represent the warring halves of my own soul, the writer (an act of faith) and the publisher (with all my American capitalist commercialism).

Are there elements of your personality or life experiences in this book?

I’ve already mentioned a few of the elements of my own life and personality that have wormed their way into “The Wedding of Eithne,” like my Irish Catholic upbringing, my divorce, and my daughters. I think any writer worth his salt tells very personal–and sometimes uncomfortable–stories. I’ve certainly taken my own fears of failure and success, and my reluctance to disappoint, and weaved these into the characters. I’ve also drawn on my own family history in developing these characters, though it wouldn’t be appropriate to name names, considering how much the characters have diverged from their inspirations.

What is one thing from this book you wish was real or could happen to you?

I suppose the whole book is an act of wish-fulfillment in one way or another. I wish I could find the sort of love that the characters in “The Wedding of Eithne” are looking for, a partner that isn’t just obligated to be a part of my life, as a consequence of chance and circumstance, but who really wants to be there. Someone I can believe in and encourage, and who believes in and supports the person I am and want to become as well.

What is something you wish wasn’t real and hope doesn’t happen to you?

I most certainly never want to be attacked by giant bats, spiders, or snakes!

Let’s say your book is being turned into a feature-length film; quick- cast the main two characters and pick a theme song or score.

Two songs come to mind: “When Will We Be Married” by the Waterboys and “Short-Change Hero by The Heavy. As for casting the film, I’ll have to say Keira Knightley from her roles in “King Arthur” and “Domino,” and F. Murray Abraham as the villain Inloth.

Do you have any special plans for this book in the near or far future?

This book closes out what I call “The Eowain Cycle” of my Matter of Manred Saga, setting up the background for the story in my next major book. But one thing I’d like to do with “The Wedding of Eithne” is create an omnibus edition that combines it with the previous three books in the series. I’d also like to create hardcover editions of my books. Several readers have already asked about it. Like many writers, I’m a total narcissist, so I wouldn’t mind having such a thing on my own shelves, something that will really last the ages.

Okay readers, bloggers, geeks, and authors, that’s all for today. Be sure to follow this blog to see who will be visiting next time. To Pre-order your copy of The Wedding of Eithne (March 28th release), please visit the links provided.

AMAZON | Author Direct links: EBOOK | signed PAPERBACK

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Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords

#Review : Code Name Verity #YA #spy #book

Goodreads

Title:  Code Name Verity

Series: Code Name Verity #1

Author: Elizabeth Wein

Genre: Historical Fiction (WWII)

Pages: 441

Reading Level: YA

Content: PG-13 (war action and violence, intense emotion, mature themes)

This book was part of a new audio promotion, so I received it free from the distributor. I had no idea what it was about and was thoroughly pleased with what I discovered.

The story is about two female friends trying to make a place for themselves in a world dominated by men during WWII. Maddie is a pilot and the other girl has too many names for me to stick with just one, so we’ll call her Verity. Most of the story is told from Verity’s perspective as she writes to save, or at least prolong, her life once captured by the enemy. I want to say more, but I don’t want to give too much away. I’ve read a lot of books, and watched even more movies; this book, with all its twists and turns, caught me off guard and totally surprised me.

Not to give the wrong impression about this book, but it almost made me cry and not because the two main characters are female. This story feels so real that the sense of loss, which multiple characters experience throughout the story, feels all too real. To be a prisoner of war and have the choice of standing strong and die or give in and live one more day isn’t as easy as you might hope, but Verity is tougher than you ever imagine she’ll be at the beginning. In the end, though, it’s Maddie you’ll feel for the most.

Anyone, even men, who appreciate gritty stories of WWII will appreciate this book, but I think it’ll also be a crowd pleaser with women’s groups and historical clubs. I don’t know if it was written for adults, but I don’t think it really matters. These characters are so young, as are many who go off to fight wars. I would totally recommend this to my teenage nieces and nephews. After all the flying, fighting, lying, and surviving there is a strong gut-wrenching message about true friendship which should appeal to anyone.

I give this book a 5.

LoveIt

This review has been posted to GoodReads. If you’d like to obtain a copy of this book, try this link: Amazon

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords

Spellbound by @TriciaDrammeh Virtual Book Tour Interview by #thetoiboxofwords via @diversebktours #fantasy #amreading

Greetings readers, bloggers, geeks, and authors and welcome to The ToiBox of Words. I’m your host Toi Thomas, author of Eternal Curse, and today I have a treat to share. A while back, I had the pleasure to interview a wonderful author named, Tricia Drammeh. A good time was truly had by all, and here’s how it went down.

Toi Thomas: Hi there Tricia! It’s so awesome to have you here at the ToiBox Blog. I’m excited to learn more about you and your work.

Tricia: Hi Toi. I’m happy to be here and excited to share.

Toi Thomas: So tell me, who is Tricia Drammeh?

Tricia: I’m a wife, mother of four, and author. I live in New Hampshire with my husband, kids, and a lot of crazy animals. I write anything from young adult multicultural fantasy (The Spellbringers Series) to YA paranormal (The Seance) to contemporary (Better than Perfect).

Toi Thomas: Wow. Yes, after looking through your bibliography I feel like I need to play catch up. You books have such acclaim and the sheer volume is inspiring to young-in-the-industry authors like me.

Toi Thomas: Well before we dive into your special message today, let’s get to know you, the person inside the author.

Toi Thomas: Who is so you and why?

Tricia: I hate to say this, but Bella Swan from Twilight. I really am that clumsy, unfortunately. One of the many criticisms about that series is the way Bella was portrayed. “No one is that clumsy and awkward.” Well, I am.

Toi Thomas: Yeah, whenever someone mentions Twilight, there’s either a sigh of regret or a yelp  of cheer, but every character is relatable to someone in some way, otherwise they wouldn’t have been written. All fiction stems from reality.

Toi Thomas: What makes you geek out?

Tricia: I’m a huge Harry Potter fan. I know it’s a YA series and I’m not quite a young adult anymore (haha), but I am in love with that series and am anxiously waiting for my Hogwarts letter.

Toi Thomas: Don’t you know YA is the new black- or something like that. I don’t think there are any age requirements on fiction anymore. Sure somethings may not be appropriate for certain readers, but as I said before, everything is relatable on some level. People read what they like, and as long as they are reading, I’m happy.

Toi Thomas: What was your favorite book or story, pre-teen years?

Tricia: As a pre-teen I read and re-read The Outsiders. Actually, I did that with all the S.E. Hinton books, but The Outsiders was my favorite.

Toi Thomas: Yeah, for me that book was a bit tough because of the time I read it. Being from the 80s and getting caught up in the hype of the movie, I don’t think I ever really gave it full attention. But it is a truly great story.

Toi Thomas: In terms of interviews, whose brain are you just itching to scratch?

Tricia: J.K. Rowling. I absolutely idolize her. She’s a genius.

Toi Thomas: Yes, she is probably one of the best writer success stories you’ll ever here- so inspiring.

Toi Thomas: Now that we know a little more about you, the person, let’s learn about you, the author, and dive into your special message.

Toi Thomas: So whacha got for me today?

Tricia: Spellbound is the first book in the Spellbringers series. It’s a multicultural fantasy series for young adults that is based in a small Georgia town.

Toi Thomas: Something about books and stories set in small towns- you just know it’s going to be good. I must admit the cultural diversity of the book caught me off guard, not in a bad way, though. None of the characters were superimposed stereotypes, and I liked that. (See my review here.)

Toi Thomas: So who’s starring is this 2 dimensional script read of Spellbound?

Tricia: My main characters are Rachel and Alisa, two high school girls who have known each other all their lives, but have never been friends. Alisa is shy and shunned by her peers, while Rachel is one of the most popular girls in school. Even though Rachel seems to have an easy life, she feels isolated and different from everyone around her. When Jace and his family move to town, both girls are plunged headfirst into a world they never knew existed.

Toi Thomas: That’s a pretty good premise. If I hadn’t read the book I would assume that at some point, themes of friendship and love triangles might clash because of the two girls and the mention of Jace. I won’t give anything away, but the way it all plays out is refreshing and not at all typical.

Toi Thomas: What’s so special about this story that’s going to reel in the readers?

Tricia: Spellbound combines magic, danger, and romance. It also features a multicultural cast of characters where diversity is the norm.

Toi Thomas: Yes, I like the fact that your story has a diverse cast but doesn’t go out of the way to say “hey look at the races mixing and getting along together.” It’s very natural and encouraging.

Toi Thomas: Past, present, future, is there a rhyme or reason to your writing?

Tricia: When I began writing, it was nose to the grindstone. I completed my first book in less than three months. Oh, how times have changed. I bounce back and forth between two or three different projects. There is no sense of organization. I write in the middle of the living room with the dog sitting next to me. I’ve got Law & Order SVU blaring on the TV and constant noise and interruptions. And coffee. So much coffee.

Toi Thomas: In this day and age, I don’t see how people stick to such organized writing regimes. I admit that I plan and make every effort to be organized, but life happens. You gotta write when you can.

Toi Thomas: What author(s) has most influenced your writing? Why or how?

Tricia: There are so many, but I would have to say it’s a tossup between Anne Rice, J.K. Rowling, and Stephen King.

Toi Thomas: Those influences make perfect sense considering that material you write. After having read your work. I think they would be proud to count you amongst them, for I’m sure your work has and will influence someone else along with these guys.

Toi Thomas: Thank you so much Tricia for spending time with me today.

Tricia: Thanks for having me Toi. It was fun.

Okay readers, bloggers, geeks, and authors, that’s all for today. Be sure to follow this blog to see who will be visiting next time. For more from Tricia Drammeh, check out these great links:

Website: TRICIA DRAMMEH.com

Facebook: Author Tricia Drammeh

Twitter: @TriciaDrammeh

Amazon Author Central: Tricia Drammeh

Purchase links for Spellbound & other Drammeh books:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

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Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords

Review: Spellbound

Spellbound (Spellbringers #1) by Tricia Drammeh

I give this book a 5.

This is one of those books that sat on my TBR list for so long, not because I wasn’t interested, but because I had a feeling once I started I wouldn’t want to stop, and I was right. I’m so glad the summer afforded me the opportunity to read this book without the constant interruptions I’m used to.

Spellbound tells the story of two girls who seem to live in completely different worlds, though they reside in the same town and go to the same school. The thing that draws these to ladies together is the pleasantly invading presence of the Alexander family. One of the girls could be “the one” this magical family has been looking for while the other will alter and change their lives in ways they hadn’t expected from a mere human.

Before I go into the why I loved this book, and I totally did, I just want to say that this author is amazing. I’d read her blog a bit before, but never really followed her writing; what a mistake. Her attention to detail and her respect for the diversity of her characters empowers me to be bolder in my own writing. She’s now one of my favorite authors and I’ll probably start stalking her a bit…Now back to the book.

Obviously from my last statement, you can surmise that the characters of this book are well-developed and likable. If you’ve read any of my other reviews, you know that YA is a struggle for me in general because of all the teen antics. This book was no different, but for some reason, I grew to like these characters and quickly got over there teen drama, especially when they started to face real physical and life-altering threats.

I like the way the setting aids the story. It takes place in a small town, but the world travels of the Alexander family plays a role in their daily lives. It’s sometimes easy to think that whatever is happening in the story will only affect their little town, but when characters star “popping up” out of the blue from around the world, it really puts matters into a global perspective.

I don’t usually go into too much detail about specific characters in my reviews, but I knew from the start I’d like Bryce, even if he didn’t start out in the best light and wasn’t around much. The descriptions of all the pretty people in this book had me shaking my head and remembering a few good times from high school when I dated basketball players. Ah, youth.

Then there’s the magical element of the story that goes beyond the surface. In this story, magic isn’t a separate entity that affects the character’s world; it’s part of their culture. There is a gray matter that I have been unable to clarify in the use of magic within this story, but I’m hoping the next two books (which I’ve already purchased) will straighten it all up. There are clear good guys and bad guys in the first story, but there’s foreshadowing that implies some characters and events will be more about picking sides than being right and wrong. Plus the ancestors of those with magic all seem to come from the same “people” but are dark and some are light…I can wait to read more.

I’d recommend this book to anyone who likes YA and or Fantasy and even a few who don’t. Anyone who appreciates cultural diversity in fiction will also appreciate this book, even if they’re not big into fantasy.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this ebook in exchange for my honest opinion, which has in no way affected the rating of this piece.

This review has been posted to GoodReads. If you’d like to obtain a copy of this book, try this link.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords