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Friday, July 25, 2014

Guest Post+Giveaway+Review: Anthem's Fall

Title: Anthem's Fall

Author: SL Dunn

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy/Superhero Cross Over

Book Blurb: 
Above a horrified New York City, genetics and ethics collide as the fallen emperor and a banished exile of the same herculean race ignite into battle over the city’s rooftops. In the streets below, a brilliant young scientist has discovered a technology that can defeat them both, yet might be more terrible than either.
Set both in modern New York City and in the technologically sophisticated yet politically savage world of Anthem, Anthem’s Fall unfurls into a plot where larger than life characters born with the prowess of gods are pitted against the shrewd brilliance of a familiar and unlikely heroine

Okay, I will admit that it has been a few weeks since I read Anthem's Fall, yet the plot and character still stand out vividly in my memory, an attestment to Dunn's writing. Anthem's Fall is unlike any fantasy book I've read. It's unlike any book I've read. Period. Let me explain.

Imagine all the superhero movies out there--you know--Spiderman, Batman, Ironman, X-Man, etc. Now imagine those movies and turn them into a novel and you basically have Anthem's Fall. Yep. It's that awesome.

The plot--whew--that plot is amazing! I loved the (mostly) dual perspective the novel is written in: one from a human's POV and the other from a superman like character of a different race (they're described as a superior life form compared to human.) The novel takes place in two main settings: Earth and Anthem, a strange and war torn land where the "super humans" (for lack of better word) inhabit it. I loved how Dunn manages to blend the two worlds together without making it seem forced.

Okay, fast forward a bit to the plot aspects. I loved some of the sense of debate brought into the novel regarding life ethics. Just because humans are able to create artificial life, does that mean they should? This novel explores what could happen when science trumps ethics. And the events that happen in the book seems very realistic--something that could happen within 100 years or so...and that makes the reading that much more exciting.

My over all thoughts: If you like superhero stories/movies, for god's sake, please go to Amazon and buy the book now. Seriously. If you like superhero movies and reading, then this book is like a heaven-sent gift. Even if you're not a huge fan of superheroes, give this book a try because it's probably unlike anything you have read. And if you don't like reading--sorry....can't help you there :-P


About the Author
S.L. Dunn is the debut author of Anthem’s Fall, a novel he wrote amid the wanderings of his mid twenties. He has written while living intermittently in St. John USVI, Boston, Maine and Seattle. Raised on big screen superheroes and pop science fiction, he sought to create a novel that bridged a near-sci-fi thriller with a grand new fantasy. He currently resides in Seattle with his girlfriend Liz and their dog Lucy, and is hard at work completing the next book of the Anthem’s Fall series.

And Now We have a Guest Post Featuring SL Dunn! 
What were you expecting when you wrote and published "Anthem's Fall"? What actually happened?

This is a great opportunity for me to explain why I chose to indie publish. I’ll start at the beginning. 

I wrote Anthem’s Fall over the course of four years. On an autumn morning in 2009, the premise to Anthem’s Fall hit me like a freight train. I was driving on an empty highway in Vermont when the idea for the story truly erupted out of my head. It was like a muse hit me with a shotgun blast. The genius, the dreamer and the leader—the characters all introduced themselves to me at once, and their plight unfolded with utter clarity. I recognized immediately that it had all the ingredients to become a good novel. The morning after the idea came to me, I started writing. 

By the time I wrote page ten, I knew my life would never be the same. I had found my passion. For twenty-two years I had slogged disinterestedly through endless classes and dull jobs that didn’t appeal to me. But when I sat down at that computer with my blossoming novel, it felt like I was shooting bolts of lightning from my fingertips. The process was intoxicating, and I quickly became possessed with an urgency to keep pumping out words. Four years and endless amounts of edits and rewrites later, I finished my final draft early this previous spring. 

That might seem like an awful long time for one novel, but there are several reasons behind it. The first is that Anthem’s Fall is quite long. It clocks in at double the length of many other novels, and that doesn’t even include the hundreds of pages that I cut during rewrites. The second reason is that I learned to write as I wrote Anthem’s Fall. I owed it to the novel Anthem’s Fall could one day become to develop my writing skills as much as I possibly could. I didn’t want my writing to be the weak link in an otherwise great story. 

So. I had finished my ‘magnum opus’, my self-proclaimed ‘white whale’, my blood-sweat-and-tears debut novel. The great task that now stood before me was the journey to readers. I had created a book, but who would read it? And equally important, how would I find them? Inexorably, the road before me diverged into two disparate paths: traditional publishing or indie publishing. I don’t think the 2014 publishing industry necessarily breaks down into so simple a dichotomy, but as for my immediate road ahead, I had a big choice: query letters or the lone road. 

Would I join the mavens or the mavericks? 

I’m not one to make any big decision rashly, especially the most important decision of my life. It only took a few days of research to realize that I had no idea what modern publishing looked like. As a casual reader, I didn’t know that the publishing industry is currently in a state of complete unequivocal revolution. I recognized, then, that I was woefully uninformed, so I committed myself to learning everything I possibly could about the industry. Not yesterday’s industry, but the industry as it exists today and how it continues to evolve into tomorrow’s industry. I read dozens of books, thousands of blog posts, listened to hundreds of podcasts, and researched many other authors’ beginnings. I researched like my future was on the line, because it was. In time, I came to a few simple conclusions: 

1) For a debut author, the distinction between “traditional” publishing and “indie” publishing is actually quite slim. In most cases, it is likely that you will have to find your own readers and create your own “platform” regardless of the path you choose. There are no silver bullets handed out to debut authors unless they’re already a celebrity or have a huge following. 

2) There are very real pros and cons to each side, and (in my opinion) there is not a clear “correct” choice. Each approach is a double bladed sword. What you lack in traditional media exposure in indie-publishing, you can make up for in competitive pricing. What you gain in wide-scale distribution as a traditionally published author, you lose in retail mobility and the grim reality of a “time limit” on physical bookshelves. 

3) Successful indie-publishing does not mean slapping a cover you made in Photoshop onto a Microsoft word document that you free-wrote and glanced over once or twice. It means willingly becoming a one-person publishing house, a vertical enterprise. Mine is called Prospect Hill Press. It’s on the books, in the registries, and as “real” as any publishing house can claim to be—it just happens to only be me =). As a serious indie author you need to be the writer, editor, website designer, assistant, marketer and contractor. If you want your book to be “professional”, it needs to be created by…professionals. I also believe that done correctly and with real goals in mind, indie-publishing is the harder path, not the easier one. 

4) Only about 2% of submitted books actually end up getting traditionally published anyway, so even if I had chosen the traditional route, the odds of successful entry would be slim. I decided to choose self-publishing today—on my own terms—instead of choosing self-publishing after years of trying to appeal to big publishing house and approaching it as a downtrodden plan B. 

When I looked objectively at Anthem’s Fall and what my long-term goals were, it was very clear that I should indie publish. For me, it boiled down to control. I love that I’m in the driver’s seat of my novel. I am free to experiment with it in any way I want, and I am not held to any kind of imposed rules or deadlines. Recent tectonic shifts in the industry have created incredible opportunities for authors to lead themselves and follow their own compass. It was in that spirit that I decided not to send out a single query letter to an agent or publishing house, and instead lifted my own banner. 

As an indie author, my novel is mine. It’s not a path that I would have predicted beforehand, but it’s something I’m thankful for every day. 

I plan on being very open about my quest to find new readers, so reach out and get in touch! Anthem’s Fall might be an interesting novel to follow, especially if you have writing aspirations of your own. This debut journey of mine has only just begun, but I’d be happy to chat about my thoughts and experiences so far. Reach out if you have any thoughts or would like to talk about some of the specifics that went into my choice!

And now...for a giveaway featuring over 50 (that's right--50) Prizes!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Book Review: Days of Blood and Starlight

Title: Days of Blood and Starlight

Author: Laini Taylor

Genre: YA fantasy


Wow, the elegant writing simply swept me away. Laini Taylor has one of the most distinctive writing styles out there, and a very exquisite one at that. Her imagery/ descriptive writing is simply, well, stunning. There are soooo many beautiful quotes/lines in the novel I simply gave up trying to mark them all. I mean, from the first sentence: "Once upon a time an angel and devil held a wishbone between them. And its snap split the world in two" I was captivated.

The character development was also quite good. Karou, bitter filled she is, must learn to forgive but not forget. She's no longer the innocent child that played with teeth in the devil's lair; she is now the resurrectionist and responsible for raising the dead and ensuring the chimera don't die out. Yet she lives in a world of pain and fear, under the rule of the White Wolf. 

I loved Zuzana's levity and she brings a sense of relief to readers after so much depressing (but beautiful) writing. Yes, the chapters told from Karou and Akiva's POV are rather, um, depressing/gloomy/hopeless but damn the writing is still so beautiful (jeez, how many times can I use the word "beautiful" in this review?"

Akiva Akiva Akiva....what a mess you've made! Towards the end of Daughter of Smoke and Bone, I wasn't sure I could forgive Akiva for helping destroy the Chimera race. But now that he's trying to right his wrongs, I'm liking him much more better. He's such a complicated character because he wants to stay loyal to his brothers and sisters, but also to Karou as well. Plus, he has to fight discrimination for being one of the Misbegotten. 

The plot! Laini, I hail you as master of creative and fantastical plots! However, I must warn you, although she creates wonderfully intricate plots (she somehow weaves together many "sub plots" into one "major plot"), they are not the most action-packed plots. But her creativity seriously trumps all. 


Monday, July 21, 2014

Book Review: Patriarch Run

Title: Patriarch Run

Author: Benjamin Dancer

Genre: Thriller

Book Blurb: 
Billy discovers that his father might be a traitor, that he was deployed to safeguard the United States from a cyberattack on its military networks. After that mission, his father disappeared along with the Chinese technology he was ordered to steal–a weapon powerful enough to sabotage the digital infrastructure of the modern age and force the human population into collapse. 
PATRIARCH RUN is a thoughtful and character-driven, coming-of-age story. Against a backdrop of suspense, the novel explores the archetypal themes of fatherhood, rites of passage and self-acceptance.

Hmmm....where to start with the review? Patriarch Run is definitely unlike any book I have read. The plot of the book was interesting--a super computer that has the potential to destroy or save mankind (depending on how you look at it)? The novel also touches upon many topics from a different perspective--ie. is culling the human population the right thing to do considering Earth won't be able to sustain the growing population within two centuries at this current growth rate? 

The novel, in addition to be some sort of a mystery (Jack, one of the main characters, has lost his memories and has to put together the pieces to figure out what is happening and why he is a wanted man,) is also a coming of age novel. This is particularly true for Billy, Jack's son. Graduating from high school soon, Billy learns to view things from the big picture. His "innocence" is shattered by a tragic turn of events that is set off when Jack returns to town, bloodied and confused.

One thing I wasn't a fan of in Patriarch Run is the amount of flashbacks featured. Since Jack has no memory of who he was, other characters will sometimes experience flashbacks regarding Jack in his earlier years to help readers get a better picture of Jack. Towards the second half of the book, Jack also started experiencing many flashbacks himself. I'm usually fine with a certain number of flashbacks, but there was just too many for me (I get confused easily, lol.)

I really liked Jack's character because he's different; I admire his ability to see the big picture. Although I might not always agree with his tactics/actions on completing his goals, I also admire his determination to make choices based on the greater good, even if it means sacrificing something that is dear.

I would recommend this book if you're looking for a quick read (less than 200 pages) but still has a substantial message.