Friday, February 5, 2016

Review: Black Wings @IrynaKCombs

TITLE: Black Wings
AUTHOR: Iryna K. Combs
RELEASE DATE: July 15th, 2015
PUBLISHER: Roane Publishing
FORMAT: Paperback & Ebook
SOURCE: complimentary copy in exchange of an honest review


A new time. A new planet. A new world. New technologies. Two new humanoid species. A new war. 
The two species separate, but in the removal, some of the best are left behind among the worst. Captured and held as slaves, they are treated cruelly for entertainment. Torture. Pain. 
Annabel, endures a year of such cruelty, kept alive only by way of syringes which, while healing, cause a greater agony. She discovers a secret held by their leader, and decides to help her own kind by escaping–even if it means a final death, preferable to the life she has endured. 
Her escape succeeds, and she joins her own kind at the other end of the planet. Among her new friends she meets many who help her adjust to their happier life. Will Annabel find romance? Or will another war break her down? 

Originally from the Ukraine, I am still considered a new face to America. Speaking three languages including English, that became just as natural to me as my native Russian.
I grew up in a town on the south of Ukraine doing the same things that other kids my age did. Dreaming, hoping and wishing. Growing up, I spoke absolutely no English and never even saw myself somewhere abroad. Nevertheless writing a novel in another language!
I went to the local school that brought mostly negative experience in my life. But it shaped me throughout the years. My college life was much better. I was known to study well and to go out partying as much as it was possible.
In my first year of college, I began to work in the marriage agency and met my future husband. We dated and traveled to most of the Europe along with Egypt.
When I finally got my fiancée visa, we both moved to the states, where soon after, got married. In the first few years, I did some modeling and acting. Photo-shoots, run-way and photo in the magazine fulfilled my childhood's dream.

A few years later I became a mother of a wonderful and most handsome little boy. Along with learning and experiencing motherhood, I began to make hand-made jewelry and organic soaps. This hobby turned into my small business and became bigger than I thought it would.
In the last year, I discovered: an author lives inside me. Never did I think that I would write an English book and that I would love doing it. But I did! And I loved it! 

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‘Black Wings’ is a fantastic story about a new world where two humanoids species have to co-exist and the aftermath of the split of both sides. After a quick introduction that summarizes how humans escaped to a new planet and how a series of events lead to the birth of these two new groups, the book jumps right into the action.

The first chapter does a great job introducing the story. It’s amazing how the author managed to explain everything without saturating the reader with a load of information. There are also names for the species and other things but they’re easy to learn. It's a complete world, with a solid background and the author took care of every detail.

This is the story of Annabel. She is captured by the enemy side and tortured for a while before she manages to escape. Her getaway will be the key to life-changing events and more. For moments, it was hard to forget she wasn’t human and all the pain she had to endure (which let me tell you is very graphic) so it was hard to understand some of her action and her personality. However, it’s clear that she is a strong and brave person.

The rest of the characters are great. Dexter is a good addition, he is bit reserved but I ended up liking him. Her cousin has a vibrant personality and it gives light to the book. ‘The bad guys’ are really evil and their actions were despicable.

The writing is excellent and flawless. I have to say that the two species are really well built. Each one is described in a way that helps us imagine them.

The ending leaves a door open for a sequel but I don’t think that is entirely necessary.





Thursday, February 4, 2016

Review: A Sudden Crush @camillaisley

RELEASE DAY!!!

TITLE: A Sudden Crush
AUTHOR: Camilla Isley
RELEASE DATE: February 4th, 2015
PUBLISHER: Pink Bloom Press
GENRE: Romantic Comedy, Chick Lit, Adult, Contemporary
FORMAT: Paperback & EBook
SOURCE: complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review


Joanna Price is a city girl with the perfect life. She loves her job as a book editor, she just married Liam, high profile bestselling author and the man of her dreams, and she’s headed to the Caribbean to enjoy two weeks of paradise for her luxurious honeymoon. Connor Duffield is a gruff, grumpy rancher from the Midwest. He is a country boy who has a no-nonsense approach to life, more scars than he’d like to admit, and he hates city girls.
So it’s just a misfortune they have to sit next to each other for a six hour plane ride. Even more so when their flight is caught in the perfect storm and Joanna wakes up stranded on a desert island with Connor, the very man she hoped she would never have to see again.
Why are they alone on this forsaken island? What happened to Joanna’s husband?
When her dream honeymoon turns into a hilarious tropical nightmare, Joanna’s first thought is survival. However, she and Connor will quickly discover just how boring paradise can be. As the days turn to weeks, and then months, this mismatched pair will have to learn how to coexist and how to resist the sparkles of an attraction they weren’t prepared to feel.
When they are finally rescued will Joanna’s marriage be saved as well, or will the life she knew and loved be in ruins?


Camilla was born in 1984. She's an engineer that has always had a vivid imagination and a more creative approach to life. After working in a corporate job for some years, she left everything to follow her husband around the world in a new adventure. Upon finding herself with loads of free time for the first time in a long while, she decided to begin pouring some of her fantasies into words...




Joanna has just married and is sitting on a plane headed to her dream honeymoon. Unfortunately, she and her husband arrived late to the airport and they have to sit separated and she is stuck with a grumpy man. But nothing will ruin her mood, she is a book editor and her husband a bestselling author, they have been together for years and everything looks perfect. However, fate decides to mess with her life. A tragic and mysterious accident leaves her stranded on a desert island with the annoying caveman.

Their time on the island is a survival adventure that lasts longer than anyone expected. They will have put their difference aside and work together while getting to know each other. Joanna will discover that Connor, grumpy man, is a skilled man with more than monosyllables on his dictionary. A sort of friendship will grow and maybe more. The time flies and there are hilarious moments. The solitude of the island presents various scenes where tension between them provokes fights and arguments that lead to funny results. There is even a sweet baby monkey.

Joanna is a great character. She is honest, hard worker, realistic and a positive person. She has her low moments but only because she is human. To Connor surprise, she has some useful resources on extreme situations. She has a growing experience both on the island like out of there. Now, let's talk about Connor. He sounds like the perfect male hero and it’s quite handsome according to his description. However, I think we could have read more about him. His past and present are described lightly.

The writing is great, easy to read, with fun dialogues and the passing is quite fast. It has all the ingredients of a great chick lit book. There is romance, friendship, family and good secondary characters.

I have to say that I loved the focus on Joanna's struggle leaving the love story aside. Despite being a chick lit, once they are back on solid ground the story centers on Joanna and the consequences of her time on the island. As a woman, reading about her re-invention and re-discovering was inspiring. After her whole life crumbles under her feet she has to reborn from the ashes and she does it with her head held high. Love is important but sometimes we need to be at peace with ourselves before thinking about a relationship. Great message here!



Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Review: The One-of-a-Kind Cat Book @CiyeCho

TITLE:  The One-of-a-Kind Cat Book
AUTHOR: Ciye Cho
RELEASE DATE: 2015
FORMAT: Ebook
SOURCE: complimentary copy in exchange of an honest review


The One-of-a-Kind Cat Book is a whimsical treat for cat lovers everywhere. Dive into its pages to meet Catalina the narcissistic movie star, Kit the steampunk genius, and Guillaume the macaron chef. Browse through letters, notes, and photos to learn about mystery cats from Svalbard and the Amazon. Follow a detective as he unravels the crimes of “Murder Kitties.”
The OOAK Cat Book is a grown-up picture book full of modern themes: a shameless search for fame (or infamy), an obsession with true crime, and our constant need for adventure and kawaii cats. The felines here will guide you to places like Paris, Varanasi, Woodstock, and the Great Barrier Reef.
Find your adventure amid 127 pages, 16 chapters, and 46 illustrations.


Currently a free download at http://www.ciyecats.com
Ciye Cho lives in Australia and works as a graphic designer. He writes YA novels in his free time--and his head is often lost in the clouds or some place far from reality...



‘The One-of-a-Kind Cat Book’ is a set of stories starred by cats. We have famous cats, chefs, wild ones, murderers and more. Each story is unique and exciting on its own way. There are a few that only have a page with a couple of illustrations but they still are excellent.

There is a parallelism with humans and it’s easy to imagine each story with a person as the main character. 

The illustrations are vivid and colorful and they make the book totally worth it of our time. The cats come to live in colors and they release energy only by watching them. I stayed several minutes appreciating each image because they're hypnotic.

It’s a really fast to read book. It’s funny and entertaining, the only reason it took me a week to read was because my reader doesn't display colors and I had to read on my laptop. And trust me, seeing the colors it’s what makes this book great.




Monday, February 1, 2016

Reveiw: The Felix Chronicles: Freshmen @TheRTLowe

TITLE: The Felix Chronicles: Freshmen
SERIES: The Felix Chronicles #1
AUTHOR: R.T. Lowe
RELEASE DATE: May 20th 2015
PUBLISHER: self-published
FORMAT: Paperback & Ebook
SOURCE: complimentary copy in exchange of an honest review


Reeling from a terrible accident that claimed the lives of his parents, Felix arrives at Portland College hoping only to survive the experience. In time, however, his reality star roommate shows him there is more to higher education than just classes, shared bathrooms and bad dorm food, and Felix gradually dares to believe he can put his past behind him. But a fateful storm looms on the horizon: In the nearby woods, two hikers become the latest victims in a series of gruesome murders; a disfigured giant embarks on a vicious cross-country rampage, killing teenagers who fail his 'test'; and an ancient society of assassins tasked with eradicating the wielders of a mysterious source of power awakens after a long silence. Only one man--the school's groundskeeper--knows that the seemingly unrelated events are connected, and that an eighteen-year-old boy stands in the center of the storm.
R.T. Lowe is the author of The Felix Chronicles: Freshmen (Book 1) and Five Days in January (Book 2) scheduled for release in May 2016. R.T. is a graduate of Willamette University and Columbia Law School. Originally from Oregon, he now lives in Newtown, Connecticut with his wife and three kids.

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'The Felix Chronicles: Freshman' is a great fantasy story with a solid plot and good potential for future books.

This is the story of Felix, a freshman at college with a tragic past. His best friend Allison accompanies him and both of them are adjusting to college life. At the same time people are disappearing from a mysterious forest and danger is threatening humanity even though no one knows about it. A series of events take him to meet Bill, who unravels secrets about his past and puts on him a big pressure to become a powerful sorcerer.

Felix sounds like a typical eighteen-year-old boy. He lost both parents so he has to deal with the pain that comes with it but he is mostly a “normal guy”. He wants to play sport, get good grades and likes pretty girls. However, when an ancient warning is presented before him and magic becomes a real part of the world, he surprises us by being brave, strong and a powerful character. Allison is a really good friend with a real personality. I love that the author created a friendship between a man and a woman with no romantic implication. They support each other and go through a lot together.

The chapters jump to different scenarios and chapters, so we have a main story and a few other subplots going at the same time. At first is hard to understand what each event has to do with the other but once the story is on full motion we start to understand what is really going on and how each story is related.

The fantasy element is strong; the magic is almost an extra character. The bad guys are violent which brings a lot of action to the book. The writing is really good and the passing is steady so the reading flows naturally. I liked that the romance is a secondary matter, here we are focused on the fantasy. Not every book needs a romantic story (except romance books).

This is the first book so there are lot of questions left unanswered. I want to know how the famous guy will influence the story and I'm sure ERA will have a major role in the rest.



Friday, January 29, 2016

Guest Post: Louise Herman @AuthorLHerman

Let's welcome author Louise Herman. he is here to talk about the ups and downs of self-publishing. Keep reading and find more about her and her books.
Guest Post: The Economics of Self-Publishing a Book

Introduction
Hello everyone, and I hope you are enjoying the week.

I have decided to take a week’s respite from writing the third book in my YA urban fantasy series, Split Blood, to catch up with author interview and guest post requests. I am looking forward to discussing my thoughts and opinions on the economics of self-publishing a book as well as giving some advice on what aspects of self-publishing is essential to a budget and what I have experienced as a waste of time and money.

Why did I decide to Self-Publish my books?

I would love to say it was a choice, however, after I sent a number of emails to literary agents and received no replies, I decided to close my eyes and jump straight into the self-publishing ocean.

It was nerve-racking at first because I had no idea about self-publishing but after a lot of research and learning from my mistakes along the way, I am enjoying the self-publishing journey.

What are the common misconceptions of self-publishing?

I think the biggest misconception about self-publishing is anyone can publish a successful book in today’s technological world.

For example, you have a great idea for a story, you get so engrossed in writing it, you take the leap and self-publish it on the internet and then you sit back and wait for the big bucks to start rolling in, along with literary agents fighting to represent you, right?

Not quite!

The reality is only a handful of self-published authors break even (the total cost of publishing against the profits of the sales, after each website has taken its percentage) and if you do not have a regular presence on social media sites then you could find it difficult to be seen and network with influential people who can help potential readers find your books.

These people are bloggers and reviewers.

I have built up a good relationship with many bloggers and have added them to my list of 'Go to People' when I need to do author interviews (to discuss my past, present and future. This is not all about promoting my work. It is for potential readers to get to know the person behind the books), Guest Posts (topics related to writing that are important to me) and Spotlights (a full discussion about myself, my work and upcoming projects).

It's also fun to communicate with these bloggers because it is a two way process. They advertise an author on their blog and social media sites, therefore, as an author, I also do the same (I will post the promotional item on my blog, which advertises their blog to my followers, and on my social media sites).

However, not all bloggers work the same way.

Some specialise purely in reviews but some are open to other forms of promotion.

I have found that trying to get reviews can be quite hard because many are overwhelmed with requests and often close their review request channels until they can catch up with the backlog.

While others will state they do not accept requests from self-published authors, with some going as far as to state that they have a problem with the quality of the self-published books they have previously read.

I used to find this slightly insulting but when you take into consideration that they are doing these reviews for free, they should be allowed to have an opinion on what types of books they want to review.

NOTE: Reviews are usually free and reviewers usually have full or part time jobs but review in their spare time. This means try to give at least three months’ notice to your reviewer. If you are asked to pay for a review, try somewhere else! Not only is a slightly frowned upon in the self-publishing industry but it's just an unnecessary, extra cost to your ever rising budget!

What are the advantages of self-publishing?

I like that I have the opportunity to learn about online publishing first hand and that I have the chance to communicate with a range of people with similar interests.

I learn something new every week to help enhance my writing and advertising skills and I really enjoy having full control over every aspect of publishing my books.

What are the challenges of self-publishing?

Although I enjoy having full control over publishing my books, I do sometimes think that it would be nice to have a literary agent to help take on some of the advertising tasks because having full time job, restricts the time I can dedicate to writing and sometimes the advertising infringes on the writing time.

I have also found that it takes a lot of work and effort to gain a strong following. I write Young Adult Urban Fantasy novels, which is a popular genre and I have found that it is extremely difficult to get new followers interested in looking at my new pieces of work if there are no reviews to give them an inclination of how the book has been received by other readers.

There will be potential readers and followers who will read the synopsis and give the books a try but there are some who use reviews to help them decide whether or not it is the kind of story they would enjoy reading.

It is the latter type of follower that bad reviews can affect your potential sales.

Some reviews that are lower than five stars can be disheartening to an author but if they offer constructive criticism (e.g. "there was too much fighting in it") then it could be a case of what one person dislikes about the storyline, another reader maybe looking for this type of drama.

However, if they give you one star because they "just couldn't read it because you should never write again", it offers nothing to a potential reader about the story and many would not take this type of review seriously.

And lastly, I have given out copies of my eBooks for a review in the past, only to be disappointed to never receive one.

It is disheartening but all these things are part of the learning process and have helped me focus on what works and avoid what wastes time and money.

What are the costs to publish your own book?

Here are the basics of what it cost me to self-publish my first book (The Orcus Games: Blood Moon):

- Book cover artist: This is difficult because it depends on the type of cover you want? You can get book cover images from a variety of stock photography sites and prices vary on each site. For a basic book cover with an image that does not need to be edited and text, I would estimate between £50 and £150.

- Proof-reader or Copy Editor: Between £600 and £1,000 (depending on word count, how many hours it takes them to work on the book and how much work the book needs).

- eBook Conversation Costs: If you cannot convert your eBooks yourselves then it might be worth getting a professional to do this for you. I convert my books myself but I have received quotes in the past for this type of work and the prices were between £50 and £150.

- Distribution costs (for reviewers who only accept hard copies): I have heard that some websites do give a small discount to authors who buy their own books but I am yet to find these sites. Therefore you would be paying the same price as a customer to purchase your paperback books to send to reviewers. Many authors buy in bulk for this purpose and can spend between £599 and £1099 for an order of 100 books.

- URL for website: Having your own website is essential for an author and you can buy domain names from nearly anywhere on the internet at the moment.

I have a website through Fat Cow and bought my URL through them as soon as I set it up.

It cost me approximately £8.99 to buy the domain name + £60 for the year (with added extras).

However, different extensions can either increase or decrease the cost (e.g. com, co.uk, org. Etc.)

- Publishing sites percentages (correct as of January 2016):

* Amazon: There are two royalty options.

- Option 1: Keep 70% of the royalties. However this option is only available to books sold in a specific territory of countries set out by Amazon Kindle. Any books sold outside of these regions will give you a 35% royalty.

- Option 2: Keep 35% of the royalties. This is the standard royalty rate.

* Smashwords: (correct as of January 2016),

"Smashwords authors and publishers earn 85% or more of the net proceeds from the sale of their works. Net proceeds to author = (sales price minus PayPal payment processing fees)*.85 for sales at Smashwords.com, our retail operation. Authors receive 70.5% for affiliate sales. Smashwords distributes books to most of the major retailers, including Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and smaller retailers.  Sales originated by retailers earn authors/publishers 60% of the list price."


Lulu prides itself on working on a 90/10 royalty split, therefore if you have published your book after 6th September 2011 and it is priced at $1.24 or higher then you can qualify for a 90% royalty revenue. 

What advice would you give to someone wanting to self-publish their first book?

There might be something I have missed out because every week I am learning something new about the self-publishing world but so far I have eight tips that would help a new author get started:

- Test it out on free sites like Wattpad first to see if there is an audience for it and find Beta readers in these groups to help highlight elements that may need extra attention (e.g. such as continuity issues, plot holes, creating believable characters or scenes, etc.)

- Build up a following and make amendments based on the feedback

- Get a professional book cover artist (unless you are good with graphics software or you are a good artist)

- Get your work proofread or copy edited

- Publish on the main publishing sites

- Build up a group of regular reviewers

- Be active on social media (not just to talk about the book but share your interests and get involved in group discussions)

- Remember success doesn’t happen overnight (it could take years), so continue with your passion and never give up!




Louise Herman is a North London Fantasy author obsessed with pear drops sweets and 80s Fantasy films.

In between reading James Herbert novels and drinking too much coffee, she writes Young Adult Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance novels.

Louise Herman has currently written five YA Fantasy books to date (December 2015); The Orcus Games Prequel Trilogy and The Split Blood series, which take the reader on a journey of magic, mystery, obsession and forbidden love with seductively dark consequences.

For more information, please go to: www.louisehermanauthor.com





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