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video 2020-07-29 14:12
The Princess of Aenya Book Review

The Princess of Aenya by Nick Alimonos was a good book, but I think I would enjoy it more reading it a second time. From the beginning, there’s an onslaught of action and story coming from multiple characters at once. The main storyline follows Radia and Demacharon as they fight to survive. But Hugo and Esse, a soldier and a servant, are introduced, as well as Ugh, a Bogren, and Eros, an assassin hired to kill Radia.

Through alternating chapters, the reader has to follow all of these storylines before they eventually intertwine in the end of the book and, for me at least, this was difficult. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed the individual storylines and characters.

 

Hugo and Esse deserve their own book. I would love for a companion novel to be made about them leading the rebellion in Tyrnael while Radia had to be in hiding. Esse was bred to be a servant, someone designed to not stand out or aspire to anything more than serving others. But she fought against that lifelong training to lead a rebellion against a sadistic tyrant. Before Zaibos, Tyrnael was at peace for a thousand years. No one had any experience protesting or rebelling because there wasn’t a need. But Esse stepped up and started to lead! Honestly, her story is just as fascinating as Radia’s, and a lot more relatable. I love stories about people who take their fate into their own hands so Esse’s story would be a great one.

 

I really liked Eros as well. He represents the dark side of Tyrnael. Just because there was peace doesn’t mean everyone was happy. Sexual intercourse is forbidden in Tyrnael. Eros was born from sexual intercourse so he and his mother were branded and ostracized. He was forced to become an assassin to support and protect his mother. Honestly, I wanted him to fail and succeed at the same time because succeeding meant killing Radia but it also meant the brand getting lifted from his mother.

 

However, while I enjoyed the characters and could follow and enjoy the plot overall, there’s still a lot I’m confused about. There are five storylines to juggle, six if you count Demarchon’s flashbacks. Not only are we following Radia, but we are also following Eros, Ugh, Esse, and Zaibos through their stories. It’s a lot to take in and keep straight.

The Princess of Aenya was an enjoyable read and the ending was satisfying. However, I would get a lot more out of the story if I reread it.

 

Get The Princess of Aenya on Amazon.

 

Nick Alimonos is a member of the Read for a Better World Hall of Fame for donating to Trees for the Future in exchange for an honest review. Learn more about my Read for a Better World program here.

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text 2020-05-02 17:49
Author Interview with Beatrice Ballentine
Taming the Captain by Beatrice Ballentine

Today’s interview is with certified truck driver and indie writer Beatrice Ballentine.

LQ: Tell me a little bit about yourself. 

BB: I have been a writer for as long as I can remember. Still, I  spent a fair amount of my adult years raising a very young family, while supporting my husband in our small family businesses. (Fun fact: I was a certified tow truck driver when our daughter and her twin brother and sister were all under the age of four). We live in a pretty rural area, so we always joke you better be willing to do whatever is legally possible to provide for your family.

While I wrote during these years, I never really grasped the possibility of self-publishing, and I was too impatient (and probably too controlling), to entertain the notion of going the traditional route. As the years passed, and we paid off our home, etc., I felt it was my turn to focus not only on my passion of writing but to figure out the beast of self-publishing and marketing. It has been an incredible journey, and now that our youngest children are in their teens, I have large chunks of time to devote to this endeavor consistently.

LQ: What does your writing process look like?

BB: I am a pantser. I have a vague notion of the beginning, middle, and end when I begin writing, and a grasp of who I want my protagonist and who or what I want the antagonist to be. Other than that, I love seeing the story and character depth unfold late at night, or the wee hours of the morning. This method does, at times, lead me down dead ends, …but not usually.  

LQ: What was your favorite book to write so far?

BB: I have a lot of unpublished works, mostly comedy, surprisingly. I do enjoy sharing a lot of that with family. Sometimes I will look back on material I wrote and, having forgotten I wrote it at all in the first place, get a little tickle from re-reading. I get a lot more enjoyment from writing romance. I would have to say my favorite, so far, is my WIP, which is book 2, behind Taming the Captain.

LQ: Who is your favorite character to write about? 

BB: I like the strong leading man. I like testing him, watching him grow as a person, and I love writing in little details that remove him from the typical “alphahole.” Leading men are enjoyable to write if they have a bit of a soft side.

LQ: Who are your favorite authors? Have any of them influenced your work?

BB: My favorites as an adult are Jane Austen, The Bronte Sisters, Winsten Graham, James F. Cooper, to name a few.

During the early 80’s, when I was a teen/pre-teen,  a lot of what was available to me at home, came in the form of jacking my aunt and mother’s bodice rippers. Looking back on some of the titles as an adult, I shudder to think now, of my 13ish something daughter, (or any age) reading book after book of forced sex, slave sex, etc., wrapped in the packaging of romance. To be fair to my mother, she did not know I was stealing and reading her books.

Basically, all I recall from those editions was the “fight like hell and then have hot sex, or a young, beautiful virgin is forced to have sex by the “hero,” and then falls in love with him and vice versa and later they get married.

Regardless, I was young, and the seed for romance novels, the beautiful covers, etc. was planted. Taming the Captain is ironically being reviewed positively as a “modern-day bodice ripper,” (Melissa, Probably at the Library, 2020), The storyline is based on a strong female who is not into taking shit from the charismatic captain. Still, there is also a lot of tenderness, depth of character, adventure, and a good, passionate burn that leads to steamy, consensual sex. Nothing will turn me off faster to a romance novel than a storyline where all the hero and heroine do is bicker and fight, and then have hot sex. So perhaps, inadvertently, my writing is partially influenced by all these authors? You would have to ask my readers. ; ) 

LQ: How are you doing during the current pandemic? 

BB: I am an introvert by nature. I love being at home with my family, cooking, hiking, writing. I love people, but social situations can be a bit of a struggle for me, especially if there are a lot of people involved. I do have a few worries about some of our community members, family members, etc. who would struggle greatly if they caught COVID-19, but the social distancing aspect of the virus has not changed my life much.

LQ: What are you currently working on?

BB: I am putting the finishing touches on Even Captains Cry. It is the follow-up book to Taming the Captain which was released in February. “Even Captains Cry” has been a lot of fun to write. Without giving away any spoilers, we see the ever hot and ready Anthony completely out of his element and struggling in ways he never knew possible, but I promise a happy ending. ; ) The book is due for release mid to late June of this year.

LQ: Anything else you would like to share? 

BB: I love interacting with readers, writers, book bloggers, etc. Feel free to follow me on Twitter, @BeatriceBallen3.

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text 2020-05-02 17:44
Author Interview with Mary Eggert
Escape from Ronwyn by Mary Eggert

Today’s interview is with physical therapist, mom, and writer, Mary Eggert

LQ: Tell me a little bit about yourself. 

ME: I work part-time as a physical therapist in a community hospital. I’m currently off in this time of pandemics to care for my 2 kids, but I dearly love my job. I typically meet people on one of their worst days – because no one ends up in the hospital on a good day – and I get to come in and make a plan with them for how we’re going to do better. How do we get them moving again? How do we work around whatever limitation they have? What’s the next step to best get them back to their baseline? I’m sure while most people think of PTs as “Physical Terrorists,” I still view my role as filled with so much joy and the possibility for what can still be ahead for them. It’s great.


I’m married to an astoundingly wonderful and patient man, and we have two kids and two dogs together. It’s alarmingly ideal. He has been one of my biggest supporters to go from writing as a hobby to being a writer who now prioritizes time to write or edit regularly and now I actually have a published book! I could not have done it without the confidence and support from him. I’m sure other moms can appreciate it, it’s really hard to carve that time out when there’s always more laundry, someone needs a snack, they’ve lost their best-stuffed friend, or there’s an emergency art project that must be completed immediately!

LQ: What does your writing process look like?

ME: I am in the process of working on a series. I have the first book recently published, and drafts on the next five in various stages.

I start out with notes for where the story arc is going broadly, then I break that up into the details of what that means for the next 4-6 chapters I’m writing specifically. I have two kids 5 and under at home, so I find if I don’t write down my good inspirational ideas when they hit… well, there’s no telling when the time to write and the right ideas might actually meet face to face.

Best case scenario, I get my notes down for the next section I’m writing, then block off 4 hours or so and bang out as much of that as I can. If I hit writer’s block, sometimes I’ll take a week off if it’s really bad and honestly, doing a puzzle is my best cure to clear my head and solve the problem, but mostly I’ll just try and bludgeon through the section I’m stuck on and come back to it in edits.

I find if I get stuck in one spot too long, I’m more annoyed because I’m delayed from getting the really cool part that comes next. (The next part is ALWAYS really cool. It’s a writing fact.) so I just do what I can to get through, then enjoy what I’m writing again, and fix it in the edits. Usually moving on helps me to look back and see what’s missing.

LQ: What was your favorite book to write so far?

ME: Book 4 of the series is my favorite. That seems like a cruel thing to say when only book 1 is out, but you’ve had a chance to really see some character growth and get invested in the choices they’re making – a lot of really fun things happen in the plot, and a couple of the characters are pushed outside their comfort zone to great effect.

I feel like as an author, it’s a very proud mama moment, and as a reader, it’s very satisfying to see the character arcs. There’s a new character introduced in this book also who is just so fun and fascinating.  

LQ: Who is your favorite character to write about?

 ME: It’s like asking which child I prefer more!


That said, I do think I prefer to write about Cedric. He has a rough past, and his character is a lot of bravado and humor on the surface. There is no situation where he won’t be making a joke about the circumstances. He keeps things light when they’re not, and it’s fun to write that in. It’s also satisfying to see him grow and make peace with events from his past and learn to find forgiveness, whether that’s from another or from himself. He’s probably my favorite because he has so much depth, but he’s also such a force for levity.

LQ: Who are your favorite authors? Have any of them influenced your work?

ME: I love Madeleine L’Engle. I’ve read her books as a child, a teenager, and an adult and I find different pieces in them at different ages. It’s positively witchcraft the way she packs so much meaning and so many layers into what is happening in her works without reaching some war and peace type page count.


Anne Bishop is another favorite. The Black Jewels trilogy remains a favorite of mine. It’s unafraid to be dark, it is not hiding anything in the shadows – it really takes you in and gives identity to so many emotions and traumas and offers both permission for some aspects and redemption for others. Her worlds are rich and full-throated and completely draw me in that by the time I’m done, I feel as if I’ve lived there for a time.


I love authors that can pull me in so deeply, I’ve forgotten I’m reading, that I’ve forgotten I’m not one of these characters. I want to think back on their crucial moments as formative moments of my own because they are! I think that’s what stands out about both of these authors – while wildly different, their characters are so fully formed, with vulnerabilities and strengths – no one is purely good and infallible, and even the villains have sympathetic strains, and the worlds their novels exist within are fully built.

They’ve invested in figuring out the background. I don’t have to know every detail of the history, but they put enough in the novels that the author clearly does, which means there is a timeframe, a history, and a cohesive background to help support the world the characters are inhabiting.

How are you doing during the current pandemic? We are very fortunate that we’re all still healthy, we have access to any food or supplies we need, and all of my complaints are a complete privilege. That said – I miss school and daycare. I’ve had to take a sabbatical from work to be home with the kids. Having my 2 and 5-year-old at home 24/7 now has been an adjustment for us all. My daughter can tell you that I’m not quite as good a teacher as hers normally is. My writing time is significantly diminished, which makes me cranky. However, a cranky momma is far less bad than an unsupervised 2-year-old. (He’s tall. It’s a problem. His reach exceeds his wisdom in a very literal way.) 

Mary Eggert

LQ: What are you currently working on?

ME: I am doing a final edit on Book 2 of my series, the Queen Reborn. I just published my first novel at the end of March – Escape from Ronwyn, the first book in the series, and am hoping to have the second one, Hands Over Hearts, out shortly.

I will admit, my editing has been slower than I hoped [see children at home] but it’s coming along. Once that’s done, I’ve been percolating on some ideas for where I left off my book 6 draft. Then it’ll be a final edit on book 3. Jumping between them gives me the distance I need to have fresh eyes again when I look at one for an edit. 

LQ: Anything else you would like to share?

 ME: Writing has been such a gift to me. Each character gives me a new way to process the world. They each see the world in such a different way, so seeing how they all react to circumstances, and for better or for worse figure it out and move forward – it helps me to reflect on my own situation.

In this crazy time of pandemics when the self-isolation exacerbates our own internal doubts and fears, as well as some very real external ones at times, I think how lucky I am to have an outlet to work through my own emotions and escape into someone else’s adventure for a time.


Escape from Ronwyn – Book 1 of the Queen Rebown Series is available on Amazon now – please check it out, join me on this journey with these lovely characters. Book 2 won’t be far behind. And is now officially brought to you by Nap Time.

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text 2020-05-02 17:38
Author Interview with K.S. Ruff
The Broken Road by K.S. Ruff

Today’s interview is with K.S. Ruff, an indie writer who also teaches at the American Military University.

LQ: Tell me a little bit about yourself. 

KR: I live in Northern Virginia with my football-crazed husband, two entertaining daughters, and a nut-job-of-a-dog (my daughter’s words, not mine).

I teach courses in international conflict resolution, human security, environmental security, and peacekeeping for the American Military University. Reading and writing are two of my favorite things.

I haven’t a clue what’s going on around me when I’m writing. The house could be burning down, and I wouldn’t even notice. I’m counting on my husband to save the children and the dog. I’m happiest when I’m in my PJs snuggled next to my dog with a good book or writing on my laptop with Dove dark chocolates and a warm cup of coffee nearby.

LQ: What does your writing process look like?

KR: I’m a planner, so I start with some preliminary research and an outline. I conduct additional research off and on throughout the writing process, pinning pictures of luxury accommodations, vacation spots, clothes, or food my characters are indulging in on Pinterest.

Still, my characters are a little headstrong. They’ll veer off in directions I wasn’t anticipating. Planning turns into intermittent “pantsing” until I can rein everyone in. I’m not complaining. Those unexpected developments often lead to some of my best scenes. I write in chronological order, but if I’m struggling with writer’s block, I will skip a section and work on a different scene.

I spend far more time editing, wordsmithing, and massaging the text than I do writing the initial story. I make three or four editing runs on my own before turning the book over to my editor and beta readers. Then, I make one final editing run, maybe two, if my editor identifies additional areas in need of improvement.

K.S. Ruff

LQ: What was your favorite book to write so far?

KR: Broken Wings (the third book in The Broken Series) has been my favorite novel to write thus far. I laughed until I cried while writing a scene where my protagonist, Kristine, was given truth serum during an interrogation. Who knew the truth could be so funny? I also bawled my eyes out while writing one of the most tragic scenes I’ve ever written. That book gave me all the feels, and it remains one of my favorites to this very day.

LQ: Who is your favorite character to write about? 

KR: Maxim Markov is my favorite character to write about. You will meet him in Broken Wings. Maxim is easily the most lethal man my protagonist has ever met. He’s killed numerous times. His eloquence and his passion for helping others prove disarming despite his dark side.

He challenges Kristine to view his work for the Russian Mafia in shades of gray, rather than black and white. He is the head of the Russia Mafia in Ukraine, but he abhors the Russian government. He’s completely devoted to his country, and he wants nothing more than to lift his people out of poverty.

Kristine is left wondering whether Maxim isn’t one of the good guys. He pursues her in an effort to improve his image and to further his political objectives. Oh, who am I fooling? He’s completely in love with her. He’s protective and domineering. He lacks boundaries. He’s an alpha who quotes Shakespeare. Oh, and he can bring a woman to orgasm while indulging in nothing more than a heated kiss.  

LQ: Who are your favorite authors? Have any of them influenced your work?

My favorite author is Deborah Harkness. Her All Souls Trilogy is the only series I’ve read five times. J.K. Rowling comes a close second. I’ve read the Harry Potter Series twice. I am in awe of their creative thinking skills, their storytelling, their world-building, the depth of their characters, and the complexity of their plots. I’ll confess, I fangirl Deborah. I attended one of her book talks and two of her book signings. She is so humble and sweet. Her All Souls Con is on my bucket list. I gifted her a copy of the first book in my middle-grade fantasy trilogy when I attended the last book signing. Both authors have given me something to aspire to, and they helped spark my interest in writing epic fantasies.

LQ: How are you doing during the current pandemic? 

KR: Okay. I’m not going to lie. I’m finding it difficult to write. I’m teaching three courses online while trying to help my children with their online classes. Most of my “free” time is spent cleaning. I’m anxious and scared for my daughter.

She had a life-saving kidney transplant in January and has literally no immune system right now. The only time we break our “bubble” is when we have to go to the hospital for blood draws (which are currently once a week) or when I need to stock up on groceries (which I try to limit to once every two weeks). I never thought I’d be terrified to buy groceries, but I am. I’m so worried I will contract the virus and pass it on to her. With her immune system, she’d never survive it. So, yeah, I’m a bit of a mess. 

LQ: What are you currently working on?

KR: I’m working on a spin-off novel for Shae. You won’t meet Shae until the end of Beautifully Broken (book two in The Broken Series). Shae’s character was inspired by a very dear friend of mine. We met in graduate school. Our friendship was cemented during a peacebuilding trip in Ukraine. Some of the truth-is-stranger-than-fiction moments we experienced in that trip are woven into Broken Wings. I adore Shae, and I’m determined to give her the happily ever after she deserves. 

Broken Wings by K.S. Ruff

Anything else you would like to share?

Yes! I thought I’d add something that complements your mission “Read for a Better World.” I share your goals of fighting global warming and poverty, so I want to share one of my favorite strategies.

I switched over to a search engine called Ecosia last year. Ecosia functions just like any other search engine, with one key difference. The organization that runs this search engine uses their profits to plant trees.

Ecosia donates 80% or more of the money it generates through ad revenue to non-profit organizations that plant trees, targeting areas where they are needed most. You can use this search engine on your computer, your cell, or any other device. It takes about 45 searches on average to plant one tree. I’ve planted 40 trees so far, simply by using Ecosia as my search engine!

There’s a little counter in the right-hand corner of my screen that tracks how many searches I’ve done, so I can easily determine how many trees I’ve helped plant. When you click on the search engine you will see a rapidly moving counter that reveals how many trees have been planted by Ecosia users. Currently, that number is 90, 340,800 trees. But it’s a rapidly moving counter, so that number has already increased! Ecosia believes in full transparency. They publish monthly reports, they share footage of their tree planting projects on YouTube, they are privacy-friendly, and they are more than CO2 neutral. Here are some links that explain their mission:

Ecosia website 

Ecosia, the search engine that plants trees

Is Ecosia legit?

Tree Update, Episode 21

Planting trees helps increase carbon sinks, absorbing CO2 emissions and slowing climate change. It also helps reduce soil degradation, improves food security, strengthens economic and social stability, and lifts people out of poverty. I sincerely hope you’ll give it a try!

Source: loversquarrelreviews.com/2020/04/28/indieapril-interview-with-k-s-ruff
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text 2020-05-02 17:33
Author Interview with Bria Lexor
Vampire Candidate by Bria Lexor

Today’s interview is with Bria Lexor.

LQ: Tell me a little bit about yourself. 


BL: I am a YA author of Urban Fantasy and Fantasy Series.


LQ: What does your writing process look like?


BL: I start writing a book and I jump around from book to book until I have completed many books.


LQ: What was your favorite book to write so far?


BL: So far my favorite book to write has been Vampire Candidate, Book 4 in Vampiracy: Hell’s Guardian Chronicles.


LQ: Who is your favorite character to write about? 


BL: Zyra Falls.


LQ: Who are your favorite authors? Have any of them influenced your work?


BL: Holly Black, Richelle Mead, and S.D. Perry. Yes. Richelle, Vampiracy: Hell’s Guardian Chronicles. And S.D. Perry, also VHGC Series.


LQ: How are you doing during the current pandemic? 


BL: It’s tougher to get through the day. I’m managing.


LQ: What are you currently working on?


BL: Many books at a time.


LQ: Anything else you would like to share? 

BL: Keep an eye out for future books from me!

Source: loversquarrelreviews.com/2020/04/30/indieapril-interview-with-bria-lexor
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