August 28, 2017

Heart of Mist (The Oremere Chronicles #1) by Helen Scheuerer Review!


Author: Helen Scheuerer
Genre: YA High Fantasy
Release Date: August 31st
Publisher: Talem Press
Rating: ★★★★


In a realm where toxic mist sweeps the lands and magic is forbidden, all Bleak wants is a cure for her power.

Still grieving the death of her guardian and dangerously self-medicating with alcohol, Bleak is snatched from her home by the Commander of the King’s Army, and summoned to the capital.

But the king isn’t the only one interested in Bleak’s powers.

The leader of an infamous society of warriors, the Valia Kindred, lays claim to her as well, and Bleak finds herself in the middle of a much bigger battle than she anticipated.

Heart of Mist is the gripping first book in The Oremere Chronicles, a fantasy series of epic proportions.

Review:

     I did not know what to expect when I started this book, but after reading the prologue, I knew I was in for a crazy journey filled with diverse characters and mysteries galore. First of all, the main character, Bleak, was a character that I immediately connected to. In the beginning, we see her at one of the lowest points in her life and my heart broke for her, but she had a resilience about her that I loved as well. She isn't the type of whiny and incapable main character who waits for things to come to her. Bleak goes after what she wants or needs, which is what I like most about her. I love that quality in a character. Then we get a little back story on how Bleak made it to that point in her life and the back story almost had me in tears. We see Bleak as a child, so full of energy and innocence, and compared to the present Bleak, everything is different.  That made me want to read more, not only to find out where she had been, but where she was going. She was intriguing to say the least. She also has the reckless selflessness and self-deprecating nature about her, which I oldy like in characters because they seem more human to me that way.

     We get to know a few characters through multiple POVs, which at first, I didn’t like. Too many POVs can be confusing and make me lose track of what is happening with the main character and what they are feeling. At first, I wanted this book to only be in Bleak's POV so that I got the chance to really get to know her and who she is at her core before adding in other stories to follow. We see glimpses of who Bleak really is in the beginning, but the different POVs took my mind off what Bleak was feeling and experiencing. However, I can see how multiple POVs were necessary in this case to move the story forward and let readers in on important details Bleak wouldn't know. In the end, I was more than okay with it, and I actually wished I had an inside look into a few other character’s minds as well. You all know how much I dislike multiple POVs so it should tell you how much I liked this book by me wanting MORE POVs.

     As I mentioned before, I had no idea what to expect out of Heart of Mist, and I was shocked at how compelling and captivating this book was. Scheuerer’s power to make her book world come alive amazed me. The descriptions she used and the attention to the littlest details really made my journey into the book so smooth and believable. She described scenery and emotions so beautifully that it was hard NOT to feel as if I was in Bleak's world right alongside her. The high fantasy world Scheuerer has created made me tune out everything around me and live in the story. I felt as if I was in the otherworldly creation, walking through forests and meeting mysterious magical people. One minute after the other something exciting, invigorating, interesting or action packed was happening and it made reading so much fun because I never knew what was going to happen with Bleak next. I loved the anticipation and mystery that hung in the air throughout the book. I was hooked. There were moments where a twist or revelation was discovered, and each time, I never saw it coming. This book had me on my toes the whole time. Literally everything in this book is connected or means something and every time a mystery was uncovered I felt my heart skip a beat. The way Scheuerer wove this story together floored me. I LOVED every second of it. I especially loved the ending although I hated it too. That cliffhanger is going to kill me, and if the second book doesn't start out EXACTLY where it left off, I will be angry. That being said, I NEED THE SECOND BOOK ASAP.

     I think it is safe to say that this book is a four star book for me!

    If you want to know more about this book and the author, Helen Scheuerer, check out the Q&A we did together last month! You will learn all kinds of interesting things about Heart of Mist and the author.

     I hope you all are enjoying your current read and you pick up Heart of Mist when it releases on August 31st!

Cheers.

July 28, 2017

Q&A Featuring Author Helen Scheuerer and Her New Book, Heart of Mist (The Oremere Chronicles #1)!

    
     I have an exciting and interesting post for you guys today!

     Most of you know that I love fantasy books of all kinds, so of course I jumped at the chance to interview author/editor Helen Scheuerer about her new YA fantasy novel, Heart of Mist, which debuts August 31st.The synopsis drew me in and I immediately knew I had to read this book. So if you love fantasy books and are looking for a new book to read, keep on reading and learn more about Heart of Mist and Helen’s writing process!

But first….

The synopsis!



In a realm where toxic mist sweeps the lands and magic is forbidden, all Bleak wants is a cure for her power.

Still grieving the death of her guardian and dangerously self-medicating with alcohol, Bleak is snatched from her home by the Commander of the King’s Army, and summoned to the capital.

But the king isn’t the only one interested in Bleak’s powers.
The leader of an infamous society of warriors, the Valia Kindred, lays claim to her as well, and Bleak finds herself in the middle of a much bigger battle than she anticipated.

Heart of Mist is the gripping first book in The Oremere Chronicles, a fantasy series of epic proportions.



     Sounds intriguing, right? I immediately like Bleak as a character and that is just from the synopsis. Plus the promise of action and fighting has me excited!

     Now get ready to be inspired to write and read her book after you check out my interview with Helen; she has a ton of great advice for writers.

Q&A TIME

1. Your book is a fantasy novel featuring an interesting concept of toxic mist. What made you want to write this book/ what was your inspiration and how did you start the writing process?
Helen: About a year and a half ago now, I was working on a literary fiction novel that was giving me a lot of trouble. I’d lost my vision for it and the edits I was receiving were gut-wrenching. I honestly think Heart of Mist was born out of a desire to escape.

I’d been reading a lot of YA fantasy for the same reason, and had the realization: shouldn’t I be writing what I love reading?

NaNoWriMo was just around the corner, so myself and my two friends Kyra and Claire signed up. It feels like a long time ago now, but I think after a brief planning stint, I just jumped straight into the story. Six weeks later, the very rough first draft was complete...

2. What parts of your book did you struggle with and what parts did you enjoy the most? Do you have a favorite scene you wrote?

H: In Heart of Mist there’s a younger character named Dash, who’s about ten years old. He’s a POV character and I often found myself struggling to get into his head. I was constantly questioning would a 10-year-old do that? Would a 10-year-old say that? He was definitely the character I worried about the most.

In terms of enjoyment… By the time I got around to rewrites and edits, I surprised myself by finding that I enjoyed the worldbuilding, and that the descriptions were a lot of fun to write. I tend to layer these in later, after I’ve got the big picture details down on the page. So it was nice to take my time, listen to playlists and really revel in the scene I was painting.

As for favourite scene… Without wanting to spoil things… There’s an event when some kick-ass warrior women show up and do some damage. I love that #girlpower moment :)

3. You are an editor as well as a writer, how does your job as an editor affect your writing? Are you focused on the technicalities of your writing when you write or do you set aside the editing part of your brain and just write?

H: For the first draft, I try my best to set aside the editor hat. I’m a big believer in pumping out a first draft as quickly as possible and then using the time after to really perfect all the details.

Throughout my manuscript when I’m writing my first drafts, there’s loads of ‘XXX COME BACK TO THIS’ or ‘XXX NEEDS MORE DETAIL’ and sometimes even ‘XXX ARE YOU SERIOUS?’. That’s because I find that if I stop to try and make things perfect at this stage, it really kills my motivation and my momentum.

Later drafts are for analyzing the quality of the writing, first drafts are for the writer to get down all they know about their world, their characters and their story.

4. Who was your favorite character to write and why did they leave such an impact? What do you want readers to take away from that character?

H: It depends what day you ask me! But as I’m actually really enjoying writing a Bleak prequel story at the moment, let’s stick with her. What I love about Bleak is that she’s very flawed. She’s not your typical cool, beautiful, perfect heroine. She has a darkness to her, and can sometimes be quite selfish.

I suppose what I’d like readers to take away from her, and all the Heart of Mist characters really, is that everyone is flawed. In real life we’re constantly surrounded by people’s social media profiles that only ever show the best possible version of their lives. It’s nice to remind ourselves that nobody’s perfect, and that’s perfectly okay.

5. How long did it take you to write Heart of Mist? What advice would you give authors who struggle with finding time and motivation to tackle writing a book? (You can find a LOT of writing advice on Writersedit.com, a website and business that Helen founded!)

H: I wrote the first draft of Heart of Mist in about six weeks, most of which during NaNoWriMo of 2015. But it was a very rough draft, and it took me probably another year after that to rewrite, edit and refine the manuscript.
As for advice…

          1. Find a supportive writing community. I had my two writing besties Kyra and Claire by my side throughout the whole process, and couldn’t have done it without them cheering me on.

          2. Try and write a little each day. Even if it’s only a paragraph. I wrote Heart of Mist just about everywhere - on the train, in my lunch breaks, on a Friday night instead of going out. I was on holidays in Birmingham, a few days before Christmas when I finally wrote ‘The End’. Creating a good writing habit is half the battle.

          3. Break the massive task (writing a book) into smaller tasks, like ‘Plot Chapter One’ or ‘Create Word Pool For XX Setting’... Doing it this way allows you to feel like you’re making progress, and keeps you motivated to keep checking things off your list.

6. Was there an author whose work you read to get inspiration from for your series? Why did you choose that author and what did you take away from their work that you wanted to fine tune in your own writing?

H: Hmmm… To be honest, I don’t read other authors’ work to get inspiration, but rather to escape. That’s what YA fantasy is to me - an escape from the daily grind, an escape from the stress and pressures I put on myself as an author… So for the most part I’m not analysing other books, but rather just enjoying them.

I definitely went through a period in life where I was reading what I thought I should be reading, rather than what I wanted to read. So I’m quite protective over what and how I read now.

That being said, I really admire writers like Sabaa Tahir and V.E. Schwab for the immense quality of their writing, and Sarah J. Maas for her insanely thoughtful plotting :)

7. Finally, what was your favorite part of the journey of writing a book? Was there a moment when it all became real to you?

H: For me, it’s always different for each book. With Heart of Mist I loved writing the first draft. It felt like it had been a long time since I wrote with such utter abandon. I had an absolute blast.

I think it was Stephen King in On Writing who said: “When you write a story, you’re telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story." That was very true of the first draft of HoM, and I found it incredibly liberating.

The moment it became real to me was when I saw the completed Heart of Mist map for the first time in print. I had worked closely with a very talented map maker based in France and we’d exchanged dozens of emails going over all the minute details like terrain styles and town illustrations, but seeing it finished at the front of my book was surreal… Here was this realm that had been in my head for two years, fully formed, in a stunning map for all my readers to see.

Thank you for an awesome interview, Helen!

     Aren't you inspired to write now? I love Helen’s advice to  break down the process of writing a book into smaller hurdles. That will definitely help me.

     I also can't wait to dive into Heart of Mist and experience that kickass warrior women scene Helen mentioned. Everything about this book screams exciting!

     What do you guys think? Are you going to buy it when it releases on August 31st? Check back on August 28th and I will have a review of Heart of Mist to help you decide!

     In the meantime, feel free to check Helen out on all her social media and websites; she is super nice!

Don't forget to add Heart of Mist to Goodreads!

About Helen Scheuerer:

Helen Scheuerer is a YA fantasy author from Sydney, Australia. Heart of Mist is the first book in her high fantasy trilogy, The Oremere Chronicles. It explores themes of identity, belonging, loyalty, addiction, loss, and responsibility.

After writing literary fiction for a number of years, novels like Throne of Glass, Elantris, The Queen’s Poisoner and The Queen of the Tearling inspired Helen to return to her childhood love of fantasy.

Helen is also the Founding Editor of Writer’s Edit (www.writersedit.com), an online literary magazine and learning platform for emerging writers. It’s now one of the largest writers’ platforms in the world.

Helen’s love of writing and books led her to pursue a Bachelor of Creative Arts, majoring in Creative Writing at the University of Wollongong and a Masters of Publishing at the University of Sydney.

Helen now works as a freelance writer and editor, while she works on the second book in The Oremere Chronicles.

Cheers!

July 14, 2017

Q&A + Giveaway: Enigma (Schrodinger’s Consortium #2) by Tonya Kuper!


     Today, I have the honor of hosting one of my favorite authors and a fellow friend on my blog! Tonya Kuper just released the second book in the Schrodinger’s Consortium series, Enigma! We are celebrating with a fun Q&A session and a giveaway! You will find out a lot of cool stuff about Tonya’s series, her writing process, writing advice, and much more. Keep reading to find out more about this thrilling Sci-Fi series!

Author: Tonya Kuper
Genre: Sci-Fi
Date Published: July 3, 2017
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Synopsis:


Worst. Road Trip. Ever.
Escaping with Reid Wentworth should have been fun, but how can I enjoy it when I just (accidentally) killed someone, my mom and brother are in danger, and the Consortium is trying to enslave humanity? (Yeah, they aren’t fooling around.) So feeling something for Reid Wentworth was not part of the plan. Trying to help unite the Resistance against the Consortium means I can’t be distracted by hot boys.
The Resistance secret hideout isn’t exactly the rebel base of my dreams. A traitor there wants me dead, but we have no idea who it is. And with both the Resistance and the Consortium trying to control me, the only one I can trust is Reid. If we’re going to have any chance of protecting my family, controlling my unstable powers, and surviving the clash between the Oculi factions, I’m going to have to catch this traitor. By using myself as bait.

You can check out my review of Anomaly, the first book in the series, here !
Where you can buy this series:

Q&A

1. What inspired this story? It involves a lot of Sci-Fi elements to explain what Josie and Reid are capable of and I was wonder what made you want to write such a story?

T: I was actually approached by my agent about writing a YA dual point-of-view somehow  dealing with Schrodinger’s Cat Experiment theory (quantum physics) for an editor at Entangled Teen. Being a huge scifi fan, I said yes. I was to write a synopsis and the first chapter in a few days. Before I could do that though, I had to learn about the quantum physics theory, so the next day I read for over six hours. I came up with the Pushing, Retracting, Anomalies, as well as the characters.

2. How did you come up with all the proper name and powers in the story as well as the explanations for them? The story is full of sci-fi elements and in-depth explanations for Reid and Josie’s power so how did you come up with that and as well as names for everything?

T: *see above, haha! For me, I had to put it all in laymen’s terms. I thought about creating reality and the energy it would take to think, blink, manipulate reality, and visualized Josie having to almost physically push reality into existence. Then I needed a name for taking that reality away – retracting. I came across a LOT of quantum physics terms as I was reading/researching. Some terms were: anomaly, enigma, and entropy. Originally, Anomaly was titled Entropy.

3. What was your writing process like with these books? Did you plot everything first and hash out all the technicalities or did you just start writing and plan as you went along?

T: Well, the process was slightly different for each book. I didn’t plan nearly as much for the first book. I kind of dove right in, following my synopsis. About mid-way through edits of Anomaly, I found a screenwriter’s beat sheet that many authors use and began referencing that. By the time I got to Enigma, I was a plotter, using the Blake Snyder Save the Cat Beat Sheet and kind of tweaking it to my liking. It allowed me to plan, hitting the important beats, but yet left me enough flexibility that I could still be creative within chapters.

4. What was one of your favorite scenes to write and why?

T: My favorite scene to write was Josie and Reid in Reid’s “secret” place. They both are in a vulnerable place and have admitted their feelings to one another. It’s intimate, touching, and sweet.

5. Who is your favorite character? What makes them special to you?

T: Josie is my fave because she’s a nerd and she totally owns it. She is strong and intelligent, but she also has flaws and doesn’t always make the best decisions.

6. What is the best piece of writing advice someone has ever given you and what would you tell aspiring authors or authors struggling to write?

T: One piece of advice from my friend author Lynne Matson is “follow your writer’s compass.” Listen to your gut. You know your characters and your vision better than anyone else, trust yourself.

7. What is your favorite genre to read when you want to de-stress and what is your favorite book from that genre?

T: I love everything scifi, fantasy, and paranormal, so I want to get lost in another world to distress. Favorite? There’s no way I can choose just one.

8. Why do you like to write and how does it feel to have two published books now?

T: I like writing because I get to create something that others can use to escape, learn, relate to, and feel. Having two traditionally published books out now feels freaking awesome! What’s better though, is Enigma’s reception from fans. Sharing the world and characters that live in my brain with others is the most incredible feeling.

     Thank you so much! xo t

     Wow, quantum physics? Wayyyyy over my head, but I am so happy this series came out of it! Now you can have the chance to experience it for yourself. Look no further for the giveaway below and may the odds be ever in your favor!

GIVEAWAY:



Tonya Kuper is the author of ANOMALY, the first in the Schrodinger's Consortium Series, a young adult science fiction trilogy, released November 4, 2014 by Entangled Teen. She fell for Young Adult lit while earning her Masters degree in Reading Education. She's a mom to two awesome boys, an alt music junkie, a Star Wars nerd, and in love with Sherlock.

She sounds awesome, right? She is. Check out her social media and website below. She is super nice and won't bite.

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