When a Favorite Author Writes a Book You Don’t Like

I suppose this is something that may inevitably happen to every reader. You love everything a certain author publishes and then suddenly, there is a book that you just don’t click with. So, what do you do? It doesn’t mean you have to break up with the author’s work or write a rage review. This has happened to me several times, and without mentioning any titles or authors, here are a couple things a disappointed reader can do (without being angry or hurtful).

Pretend it didn’t happen. Quietly remove the book from your to-read or read shelf and don’t post a review.

Write an honest review. Without attacking the author, list reasons why the book didn’t work for you, and just state that although you enjoy this author’s other books, this one just wasn’t for you. Maybe you leave a rating, maybe not. There is nothing wrong with criticizing a book as long as you aren’t hateful about it.

What I don’t recommend is leaving an automatic gushing five star review just because you feel obligated or are worried about saying something contrary to the majority of an author’s fanbase.

Occasionally, an author makes decisions with characters that you simply can’t accept, like killing off the hero/heroine or pulling a romantic bait and switch. It’s an author’s prerogative to do whatever they wish with their characters, their world, and their story. But it’s also a reader’s prerogative whether to continue reading or not. Sometimes, you just have to say goodbye.

But, I think in most cases, a reader can continue to enjoy an author’s work, even if they don’t fangirl/boy over every single thing they write. Don’t feel guilty. We all have different reactions while experiencing a book.

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The Ninth Rain by Jen Williams – ★★★★★

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Guys, we just read the bestest book ever at the MacHalo group! Jen Williams is fantasy’s best-kept secret. Is this woman a millionaire yet? New York Times Bestseller list or whatever the UK version of that is? Surely she must be winning awards left and right because her writing skills and story-telling are so bleeding good, I have no words. This is hands down one of the best books I have ever read. Ever.

I would not have even read it had it not come to my attention from a couple MacHalo members. THANK YOU, you wonderful lovely ladies, you!

“Vintage” is the main character. She is about 40 (a main character who is 40, you guys, what is this madness) and a wealthy wanderer of types. She travels and studies artefacts that happen to be organic space ships from a malevolent alien race who wish to wipe out humanity and all life on Tarn. (Tarn is this world’s version of Earth.)

She also happens to have brown skin and is a lesbian (or bisexual, we don’t know for sure because it isn’t discussed; it’s no big deal; she just is who she is).

Her traveling companion is a hired sword named Tormalin the Oathless, Tor for short. He is an Eboran, a race of human-like beings who can live a thousand years, are strong, and a mix between maybe elves and vampires?

They end up taking in a fell-witch named Noon. She can summon green winnowfire. Add to the mix another Eboran, Tor’s sister, Hestillion, who is obsessed with bringing their dead tree-god back to life, their slightly crazy cousin Aldasair, a tall braided dude named Bern the Younger (who might be hooking up with Aldasair), and a psychotic fell-witch assassin after Noon.

The witches, when discovered, are claimed by the Winnowry, which is basically a prison. The fell-witches are considered an evil that must be contained and controlled.

This book was so easy to read, full of action, amazing world-building. It’s got humor, sci-fi, a bit of romance (don’t worry, it’s not a kissing book, but Tor is pretty swoon-worthy). I have not enjoyed reading a book this much in awhile. I daresay it’s a flipping masterpiece.

I would highly recommend this to anyone who loves fantasy and fantastical beings and worlds. Don’t worry, it’s not bogged down in fantasy-speak. You will get swept away.

There is so much more I could say, but I don’t want to spoil it! Jen Williams, remember the name. You won’t be sorry.

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She also does The Copper Cat trilogy. The second book in The Winnowing Flame trilogy is The Bitter Twins and is out now!

Follow Jen Williams at Twitter.

Okay, do you think I am fangirling enough here? Well, maybe, but it’s that good.

Top Ten Tuesday – Books I’d Slay a Lion to Get Early

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Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and the theme today is Books I’d Slay a Lion to Get Early. Here is my list!

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  1. Dark Age, the fifth book in the Red Rising universe releases on September 11, 2018 according to Goodreads. I have read the previous books and love this series!

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2. Darkdawn is the final installment in the Nevernight Chronicle by Jay Kristoff. It is set for release September 4, 2018. I have adored this dark, twisted tale from the start and would definitely slay a lion to get my grabby hands on this baby!

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3. Magic Triumphs is the final book in the Kate Daniels series by the most-awesomest Ilona Andrews. It is going to hit the shelves (and e-readers) on August 28th. KD is one of the best urban fantasies that exists.

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4. I listened to this on audio with the wonderful Steve West narrating, and even with that horrible cliffhanger (grrr cliffhangers), I am looking forward to this one. Release date: October 2, 2018.

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5. The next book in the Curse of the Gods series is released maybe in July 2018. There is no set date yet according to Goodreads, but I adore this series and am going nuts waiting to see what happens next. It also has one of my favorite tropes – reverse harem!

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6. Vengeful (Villians #2) by V.E. Schwab. I lurved the first one, Vicious. Release date: September 25, 2018.

Books that don’t have a cover yet:

7. The Toll (Arc of a Scythe #3) by Neal Shusterman. Release date: 2019 *sadface*

8. Two Kingdoms (The Dark Side #3) by Kristy Cunning. Release date: 2018

9. Iron & Magic (Kate Daniels #9.5) by Ilona Andrews. Hugh’s book! Release date: June 26, 2018

10. Nightchaser (Endeavor #1) by Amanda Bouchet. Release date: January 1, 2019.

Well, that wraps up my list. Are you looking forward to reading any of the the books I mentioned? What books would you slay a lion to get your hands on early?

 

 

 

 

The Dark Side series by Kristy Cunning

I have been having a blast reading this reverse harem series by Kristy Cunning (who also writes “regular” romance as C.M. Owens). This series follows a ghost named Keyla who has attached herself to four bonded men who are supernatural. They live together, fight together, eat together… they do everything together. Keyla has been watching them for years. They make her stronger and able to stay in our world for longer periods of time.

Eventually, she is able to appear to them and expects things to go great, but the guys find her annoying, and just want to get rid of her! Snarky times and bantering ensues.

I find these first two books (two more will be released, the next one is called Two Kingdoms) hilarious! Keyla is a riot and doesn’t let the boys get away with anything. The author nails the chemistry and bantering.

It’s kind of a slow burn, but by the end of book two, you get a lot of answers and it is very satisfying. There are demons and much of the action literally takes place in hell.

I highly recommend giving this a shot if you like quick romantic reads full of shenanigans, mayhem, swoon-worthy moments, and hilarity. I don’t usually like “ghost” stories, but this is really unique and not-your-typical romance.

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They are on Kindle Unlimited or available to buy for dirt cheap ($0.99 each!).

My review for Four Psychos. My review for Three Trials.

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Pippa DaCosta “Shoot the Messenger” Cover and Q&A!

Well, Shoot the Messenger technically released sooner than expected (Amazon was Speedy McSpeedster this time), but today is when paperbacks will go out and the author will officially announce it on her website. Here is the glorious cover:

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That is Kesh Lasota on the cover, the series’ new protagonist. It’s a slow-burn sci-fi reverse harem fantasy! We were lucky enough to score another Q&A with Pippa DaCosta.

Q: What made you decide to dabble in the reverse harem genre?

A: Way back in 2013, when I was writing The Veil Series, I deliberately set out to challenge genre tropes, and one of those tropes in urban fantasy is the girl who must pick “her guy”. I’ll be honest, it annoyed me that the main character had to pick. I wanted her to have both, but I felt the readership wouldn’t react well to the heroine not choosing. I had already broken the rules of what was and wasn’t acceptable by having her sleep with (gasp) two men in the first book! I still get stick for that. Muse (the main character) is often seen by some as “sluttish” (Let’s not get into the double-standards of when a guy is fast and loose with his partners, it’s perfectly acceptable). I made the right call back then, but it’s always bugged me. Why should a strong female heroine have to choose one man?

Fast forward to 2017. I have an idea bubbling away in the background. I know I want to dive deeper into using “fae” mythology, but this time (I have another fae series set in London) I’m going to switch things up by setting this new series in the distant future. I’m going to surround fae beings (who we would normally associate with an organic setting) with technology. But c’mon, this is me, I’m known for doing things a little different, so I’m not going to stop there. I’m going to mash two genres together. Sci-fi and fantasy. And hell, lets go further. THIS time the girl gets to have her cake and eat it. She can have ALL THE CAKE. Kesh, the main character in Messenger, will not be choosing one guy. F*ck that. She’s strong, confident, as kick-ass as they come, and if she wants to entertain emotional and physical relations with more than two guys at once, she sure as hell is going to. And if there are more than three guys who think they can handle her and the harem dynamics, good for them.

I’m still not following tropes. The first book only features two guys—and without spoiling some MAJOR plot twists—let’s just say, Kesh isn’t the “normal” romantic heroine. She’s no damsel, and she’s definitely not in distress.

I’ve found reverse harem to be freeing and empowering. This new slant on romance takes everything we love about our kick-ass heroines, and makes them even more powerful.  I love it.

Q: Who is your favorite character in the new series?

A: Kesh built herself a companion drone called Sota. He’s part tactical war drone and part personal assistant and all artificial intelligence. He also has a filthy sense of humor. Unfortunately, he gets stolen early on in the book, but his scenes bring a much-needed lighthearted element to Kesh’s story. Already fans are demanding more Sota. I’m working on it 😉

Q: How many books are planned for the Messenger Chronicles?

A: I’m planning at least five full-length novels and a short prequel. The Messenger world is vast and could easily be expanded into more works, but it really depends on how the first few books sell.

Q: Have you read any books lately you would recommend?

A: I loved the Unlikable Demon Hunter series by Deborah Wilde so much that I reached out to her and told her she’s awesome. There’s nothing better than authors fangirling over other authors. I have the new book in that series to read once the Messenger new release frenzy is over. I also enjoyed Jex Lane’s male/male Beautiful Monsters series so much that I read each book one after another and couldn’t stop. A proper binge. It was wonderful. I struggle to really fall into books (the curse of being an author with no off button for my internal editor) so when I do find a series that grabs me, I got nuts for it and fangirl all over the place. I have no shame.

Q: What inspires you the most these days?

A: Anything and everything. I’m a sponge. I soak up everything around me and turn it into stories. It might be something simple, like a bird landing on a branch and suddenly my imagination runs with it, turning that image into a uninhabited, barren, frozen landscape where that one bird is a sign of life. Or, I might be watching TV and think, holy shit, that’s how my main character gets out of the plot hole she’s fallen into. It’s a constant process that I can’t turn off. But I also can’t force it. If the ideas don’t want to come, I can’t make them. I’ve tried to force myself to write books that I think will work but after countless restarts, if the words don’t flow, it ain’t happening.

Inspiration also comes from the characters themselves. Once a world is established and the characters have populated it, I often just go with whatever crazy idea the characters have next. By the end of The Veil Series the characters practically wrote those books themselves, and likewise with The 1000 Revolution. It sometimes feels like I’m the conduit and I’ve no idea where the stories come from – they just do come.  I’m a very organic writer. I have an idea, I have a rough outline, I have a beginning and an end, and that’s it. The rest just happens.

Q: How do you design your covers and who does them?

A: I’m a cover design nerd. I love book covers, the shinier the better. But good covers and good designers can be tough to find. I have several that I’ve worked with regularly over the years. Ravven and Rebecca Frank are my go-to professional designers. But I also go the risky route and check out designers on Artstation and DeviantArt. It’s not for the the feint-hearted. I’ve had designers be amazing and then disappear off the face of the planet. There’s a massive amount of risk and trust involved when hiring someone half the world away. But the results can be EPIC.

I found the Shoot the Messenger designer by accident on Pinterest. I was searching for pins to capture the Messenger world and stumbled across an amazing piece of art that kept drawing me back to it. I reached out to the artist, thinking there’s no way he’s going to be interested in working with lil’ ol’ me. Not only did he get back to me, but he completely understood my vision. Anytime someone starts referring to Final Fantasy CGI as a comparable, I’m totally on-board.

He’s now hard at work on Book 2 and producing some post-card sized character art that I’m hoping to give away at Boston Fantasy Festival. (If you haven’t seen the Boston Fantasy Festival details, check it out, Rebecca Frank will be there, along with a selected bunch of awesome authors, and me!).

Thank you for having me on the MacHalos blog today and I hope you enjoy Shoot the Messenger.

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Pippa is also hosting a Messenger competition that includes a signed paperback, a bookmark, a $25 Amazon giftcard, and a poster! Enter HERE!

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We are sooo excited about this new series and ANYTHING Pippa writes! Get your copy of Shoot the Messenger at Amazon. It’s only $0.99 and is also on Kindle Unlimited!

Pippa DaCosta’s Amazon page.

Goodreads.

Twitter.

Author page.

Related posts:

Q & A with Author Pippa DaCosta! (Our first Q&A with Pippa!)

 

 

Cover Reveal for “Shoot the Messenger” Coming March 2, 2018!

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On March 2, 2018 (a Friday), we will be hosting the cover reveal for Pippa DaCosta’s new space fantasy reverse harem called Shoot the Messenger. From the blurb at Goodreads:

“Lies aren’t her only weapons against the fae…”

In the Halow system, one of Earth’s three sister star systems, tek and magic—humans and the fae—are at war.

Kesh Lasota is a ghost in the machine. Invisible to tek, she’s hired by the criminal underworld to carry illegal messages through the Halow system. But when one of those messages kills its recipient, Kesh finds herself on the run with a bounty on her head and a quick-witted marshal on her tail.

Proving her innocence should be straightforward. Until a warfae steals the evidence she needs. The fae haven’t been seen in Halow in over a thousand years. And this one—a brutally efficient killer able to wield tek—should not exist. But neither should Kesh.

As Kesh’s carefully crafted lie of a life crumbles around her, she knows being invisible is no longer an option. To hunt the fae, to stop him from destroying a thousand-year fragile peace, she must resurrect the horrors of her past.

Kesh Lasota was a ghost. Now she’s back, and there’s only one thing she knows for certain. Nobody shoots the messenger and gets away with it.

A new space fantasy reverse harem series where the guys are hot, the perils are many, and one rebel messenger holds the key to the survival of the human race… Coming in March, 2018.

You can see some AWESOME images that will give you a good vibe for the book at the author’s Pinterest page.

The author’s Amazon page.

Official Launch & Cover Reveal: “Shoot the Messenger” by Pippa DaCosta (March 2, 2018)

Author Q&A: Craig Schaefer (of the Daniel Faust series)

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We are super-honored to have an author Q&A with Craig Schaefer, who writes the Daniel Faust, Revanche Cycle, and Harmony Black series (links below in author bio section). Mr. Schaefer is one of our FAVORITE authors at the MacHalo group and blog, so we couldn’t be more delighted that he said YES to our request. We HIGHLY recommend all of his books.

The Daniel Faust series is gritty urban fantasy about the seedy paranormal underworld.

The Revanche Cycle is epic fantasy with tons of betrayal and intrigue, witches and corrupt politicians.

Harmony Black is secret government groups fighting paranormal crime with a heavy dash of conspiracy and magic thrown in.

So let’s get down to it.

Q: Which of your series would you recommend new readers start with?

A: I’d love for everyone to start with the Revanche Cycle, because that’s my personal favorite, but I’ve learned (the hard way) that a lot of urban fantasy readers have no interest in epic fantasy — which is the main reason the Faust/Harmony books are my bread and butter while the Revanche books…aren’t.

For UF readers, I’d suggest starting with the Faust series, specifically with The White Gold Score. While it’s technically book 1.5, beyond a couple of references it pretty much stands alone, and it was written much more recently. Every writer evolves (or should evolve) and I’d like to think I’m a much better writer today than I was when The Long Way Down came out, so it makes for a better introduction to my work.

Also, it’s a novella, so if you hate it, at least you didn’t waste much time on it.

Q: What is your favorite series and/or character you have written?

Favorite series? The Revanche Cycle, hands down. Favorite character? Ooh, that’s a lot tougher. That definitely changes with my mood. If I had to narrow it down to a core few, though? Renata Nicchi, the “ordinary barmaid” who shows the world what “ordinary” people are capable of, has to top the list. Jessie Temple, constantly at war with the forces of darkness both outside and within herself, and mostly winning. Nessa Fieri – gleefully and unrepentantly wicked, capable of immense cruelty and ferocious love – rounds out the top three.

Also, honorable mention for cannibal fashion designer Fredrika Vinter. Freddie’s scenes (along with her long-suffering BFF Halima) are always so much fun to write. (“Naturally, dahling.”)

Q: ✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans) wants to declare her undying love for Daniel Faust and is a huge fan. She wants to know if there will be a Jessie spinoff and if Harmony Black and Daniel Faust will ever have a crossover with both characters being featured in a book?

No current plans for a Jessie spinoff. Jessie is a really tricky character in some regards; I’ve never shared this before, but one of the earliest very-partial drafts for the first Harmony Black novel (it ran out of steam around five chapters in) had her as the POV character instead of Harmony. The problem can be summed up by the scene in HB where she and Harmony endure a psychic parasite’s nightmare vision and she says, “That’s what it’s like in my head all the time.”

She’s funny and fierce, but that’s partially a shield to keep her friends from seeing the stuff she has to fight to keep a lid on, every waking moment of the day. This is a woman who was raised by a serial killer and forced to participate in her father’s crimes, without any kind of a moral compass until she was rescued in her early teens. Throw in the occult contagion from the King of Wolves and, well, it’s a lot easier to write about her from a slightly removed perspective; going first-person could take things from “just dark enough” to “way too dark” in a hurry.

Yes, there will absolutely be a Harmony/Faust crossover at some point. There’s already sort of one coming up in next year’s Wisdom’s Grave trilogy, where both characters make important appearances, but in a supporting-cast role. I really want to do a crossover that’s all about the two of them, I just haven’t figured out the best way to write it yet. Considering some people only read one of the two series, and I try to keep them as stand-alone as possible for that reason, I have to really think about what I can do with it plot-wise and which story elements I can resolve in a crossover that some readers might not be interested in picking up.)

(I will say, whether Harmony and Daniel make peace at last or not, you know we’re gonna see their respective teams square off and go a few rounds. I’m not a big fan of superhero tropes in general, but sometimes you just have to see who would win in a fight…)

Q: Several of us have noticed you write amazing female characters. They are strong, independent, no “damsels in distress.” Is this a conscious effort on your part or do you just naturally have an affinity for bad-ass females? 😊

Thank you so much! Yes, it’s a very conscious effort. As a writer and a feminist, positive representation is really important to me. Note that “positive” doesn’t mean “only positive character traits.” I don’t set out to create flawless, all-powerful Mary Sues, because that’s just as bad as wilting damsels in distress; both reduce female characters down to playing pieces and plot coupons. God save us from “kick-ass heroines” whose entire personality is 1) spunky/snarky and 2) they know kung fu, which is often exactly what Hollywood foists off on us.

My aim (I don’t always get it right, but I try) is to write female characters with authentic voices, inner lives, strengths and flaws. Which is really the standard we should all expect of any character of any gender, in all of our media, so the simple fact that it’s notable proves why it’s so important. It shouldn’t be extraordinary, it should be the baseline.

Ultimately, I write about the women in my life. No, I don’t hang out with murderous witches or mob bosses (as far as I’m willing to admit in public), but the heroines and villainesses of my fantasy novels draw their roots from the real women around me – from their struggles, their triumphs, their hopes, fears and joys. They’re my inspiration.

Q: Do you have any plans for a new series or book you can share with us?

This coming January will bring the first book of the Wisdom’s Grave trilogy, a special event crossover between all of my existing series. Fresh from the pages of the Revanche Cycle, Nessa and Mari – reborn as college professor Vanessa Roth and police detective Marie Reinholt – find each other once again in modern-day New York. Just like hundreds of times before, they’re cursed to meet, fall in love, and die, reenacting an ancient and forgotten fairy tale. But things are a little different now: someone’s spoiled the plot.

Forewarned of their fate, Nessa and Marie have one chance to break free, find the source of their curse, and demand justice. This time, they’re writing their own ending.

My initial outline notes described the trilogy as “a rock and roll road trip to the edge of the multiverse, with black magic and bullets.” The first book is with my editor as we speak; it’s arguably the darkest thing I’ve ever written, and absolutely isn’t going to be to everyone’s taste, but the trilogy is a passion project of mine so it had to get written.

Q: How long do you see your current two series running?

The Faust series will probably run twenty books or so, but the series outline has a lot of wriggle room so it can grow or contract based on what the fans want and how its momentum feels. (Yes, I know how it all ends. The final scene of the final book is already written – I wanted to have a goal-post of sorts to keep me focused – though it’s doubtlessly going to get a full rewrite by the time we actually get there.)

The Harmony series is more open-ended. I’ve got three possible ways to wrap the series up, and I haven’t decided which one I like best yet. I’d say we’ll see at least five more books, and we’re nowhere near properly setting up any of the three endings. My readers know I’m a big fan of playing the long game…

Q: Are we going to get more from the Revanche world – and anytime soon? Any little spoilers you can share?

I don’t know if we’ll ever go back for a book set exclusively in the Revanche setting, but I can tell you (and you heard it here first) that book two or three of the Wisdom’s Grave trilogy will definitely see our antiheroines taking a jaunt back “home.”

Maybe I can share two tiny spoilers. One: Hedy will be back. The Mouse is her mother’s daughter, and when the Owl needs her most, she’ll be there. Two: two particular characters from the final chapter of Queen of the Night will not be in it. They earned their ending, and they really did live happily ever after, or at least as happy as a contented life with the person you love can be. They are the only two characters I consider officially out of my keyboard’s reach. They won.

Q: What are a couple of your favorite books and authors?

If I had to pick an all-time favorite author, I’d have to go with Elmore Leonard. An absolute master of his craft, in the vein of two of my other favorites, Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. Amazing dialogue, lean and stripped-down prose, all three wrote purring and sleek engines of fiction. I’m nowhere near that good, but if I keep working hard, someday I might get close.

I also have to give a shout-out to an author I’ve only recently discovered and I’m eagerly plowing my way through her back-catalog. Mo Hayder is a top-notch crime/suspense writer, and her book “The Devil of Nanking” is amazing. It gave me the same goosebumps I got from reading “Silence of the Lambs” for the first time. Dark, sinister, depraved…you know, all the stuff I like.

Cold Spectrum, book four in the Harmony Black series, is released on October 31, 2017.

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Craig Schaefer’s books have taken readers to the seamy edge of a criminal underworld drenched in shadow (the Daniel Faust series), to a world torn by war, poison and witchcraft (the Revanche Cycle), and across a modern America mired in occult mysteries and a conspiracy of lies (the Harmony Black series).

Despite this, people say he’s strangely normal. Suspiciously normal, in fact.

Schaefer lives in Illinois with a small retinue of cats, all of whom try to interrupt his writing schedule and/or kill him on a regular basis. He practices sleight of hand in his spare time, though he’s not very good at it. His home on the Web is www.craigschaeferbooks.com.

Craig Schaefer on Amazon.