Book Review

Book Review: Three Dark Crowns

Synopsis:

(Amazon Description)

In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born—three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins.

The last queen standing gets the crown. 

My Thoughts

Three Queens fighting for a crown? Sign me up!

But unfortunately this book is a broken promise.

The first scene is riveting, following the poison queen prepare for her 16th birthday celebration. The book then introduces the other queens, her sisters, as they come upon their “ascension year” where they must hunt each other until one survivor claims the crown.

However that battle never comes. Instead this is 398 pages of mundane social relationships, queens admitting they have no special magical gifts, and constantly changing points of view which I found made it hard to get engrossed in the story.

The premise of this book and the word Kendare Blake has imagined is amazing, but the story does not live up to that potential.

I strongly believe a book should have its own story arc, even if a sequel is inevitable. Three Dark Crowns has no satisfying conclusion and instead just ends in the middle of a slow story hoping you’ll buy the sequel.

I will be passing.

Writing Tip

My Favorite Historical Research Resources

Small details transfer the reader into another world, and for historical fiction, another time. Lingering honey upon a tongue after a character sips mead, the warmth of a candle flickering in the mind, the sound of a metal zipper opening in the corner…

And nothing destroys the mood more than an anachronism.

All of this condemns the historical fiction writer to hours of research – a thankless task necessity for our genre. To aid the burden, here are some of my favorite resources available from the comfort of your favorite writing place.


A Timeline Of Slang

These timelines were developed by Jonathan Green, a “slang lexicographer.” His website has timelines for 31 terms including oaths, weapons, rich/poor, death, money, and private body parts.

For example, clicking on “drunk” brings up this visual timeline of what people called that slop in the tavern over the last hundreds of years.


Online Etymology

Etymologies are explanations of what words meant and how they sounded in the past. This Online Etymology website is a fantastic way to check if a word was common in the period of your manuscript and the origins of a term.


Ngram Viewer

Another way to check if a word was used during a time period is Google’s Ngram Viewer. This tool lists the earliest written record of a word. Keep in mind, especially for early historic periods, a word was likely used in speech decades before written records.


Historical Thesaurus

Well shoot, the word you just typed was not used during the era of your manuscript. No worries, use this Historical Thesaurus!


Historical Maps

My favorite source for historical maps is Old Maps Online. You can search via geographical area and obtain links to historical maps within the search field. For example, I’ve zoomed in on London, England and historical maps are linked to the right.

Another great map source is the Leventhal Map & Education Center, part of the Boston Public Library. This site allows you to also search by date with the timeline selector on the left.


Historical Names

What’s in a name? Well, a lot.

I find naming characters stressful. They can affect a reader’s preconceived notions before any description is offered. Are they an eccentric pirate with an exotic name? Are they one of a hundred farmers named Thomas?

Here are my favorite lists of early English names:


Podcasts

Have 30 minutes during your commute or jog? Why not research your novel at the same time?

Listening to historical podcasts from your period of history can be a great way to pick up little bits to weave into a manuscript and make the world come to life for your reader.

My favorite history podcast is the Renaissance English History Podcast produced by historian, Heather Teysko. Her casts are short, entertaining, and jam packed with interesting facts. I especially enjoyed this episode about 16th century cosmetics.


Historical Bibles

Given the domination of religion upon past society and politics, religious quotes often come up in historical fiction. But historic bibles are different than modern ones. Bible Study Tools provides multiple translations from different eras and languages.


Social Media

Yes, you read that right.

Facebook has a breath of historic groups and societies, many of whom are pleased to answer your questions. My current WIP takes place near Hinckley, England and I’ve received aid from the Hinckley Past & Present Facebook Group of historians. Shout out also to the English Historical Fiction Author’s Group who have helped me with research in the past.

Similarly, there’s a a breath of historical fiction authors on Twitter who are ready and willing to help. Checkout these historical fiction hashtags:


What else?

What is your favorite research resource? Please leave a link in the comments below!

Uncategorized

Cover Reveal: The Evolution of Jeremy Warsh

Today I’m excited to host the cover reveal for The Evolution of Jeremy Warsh by Jess More. You’ll have to wait until November 23 to get your hands on this YA contemporary, but you can add it to your GoodReads shelf or pre-order it now.

Jess More Cover

 

Synopsis

Jeremy Warsh has been in off-mode ever since his grandpa’s death a couple years ago. He set aside their shared passion, comic art, and hasn’t looked back. As an introvert from the other side of town, he fully expects to spend his boring life bagging groceries until, maybe one day, he’s promoted to store manager.

Yet, his two best friends, Kasey and Stuart, are different. They’re not afraid to demand more out of everyone. When Kasey comes out, Jeremy’s inspired. He picks up his colored pencils and starts drawing comics again, creating a no-nonsense, truth-talking character named Penny Kind. Who speaks to him. Literally.

The friend group sets in motion Stuart’s plans for a huge Homecoming prank, and if they can get Penny’s comic trending, they might be able to pull it off. Could this be a stepping-stone to a future Jeremy’s only dreamed of? And after he kisses a boy at a college party, will Jeremy finally face what he’s been hiding from?

About the Author

Jess More

Jess Moore makes books, homemade pizza, and is a so-so knitter. She lives in historic gold-mining California. But originally being from the Midwest, she still looks back east in the fall when the leaves are wild with color. She has worked as both a teacher and social worker for fostered youth. Currently, she writes novels in the early morning while her family sometimes sleeps.

Visit her author page
Visit her GoodReads page
Follow her on Twitter

 

 

 

Guest Blog

Guest Post By Anne Marie Andrus

Today I’m thrilled to host author Anne Marie Andrus who is spreading word about her new novel, Raimondwhich releases October 25, 2018 and is a prequel to her debut vampire romance fantasy, Monsters & Angels.

While working on a sequel she realized she really needed to write a prequel. It’s an excellent example of letting the characters the writer has created lead the story.

Alright Ann, take it away!


 

Raimond CoverIn these last few days before the release of my newest novel, Raimond, I’ve been reflecting on how my previous work, the Monsters & Angels Series was born.

In January of 2013, the winter after Superstorm Sandy, I was desperately searching for an escape. Though the season was tremendously bleak and depressing, it held an unexpected gift. Endless nights and bottomless cases of wine gave birth to a story.

Monsters & Angels is the tale of Sorcha Alden’s life and death, her tragedy, rebirth and epic love. I released that novel as my debut in October of 2017 and immediately got to work writing the sequel…then a funny thing happened. I realized that a step back was necessary in order to move forward. My readers also pointed out that, while I was writing Sorcha’s story, Raimond was the true super-star of this saga. Raimond is the more than a prequel, it’s the foundation for Monsters & Angels…and now we can truly waltz into the future.

Back in 2013, I wrote the story I wanted to read, full of characters that I wanted to fall in love with. Sometimes, I forget how it happened…the rush of being swept away by characters that didn’t exist until the moment they stepped out of the smoke and took the stage.

Obviously, I’m a great fan of vampire fiction and New Orleans. I was (still am) an incredible fan of The Originals. The ending of that series left a huge hole in my heart. Now, more than ever, I’m so grateful to be able to step back into the refuge of Monsters & Angels.

As I let myself sink into the magic of New Orleans October, my mind wanders…to stained glass windows and dangling shutters that framed strange faces…along alleys lined with crooked doorways, when haunting footsteps echoed next to mine. Back to the shadowy labyrinth where I met the Monsters…

A doomed commander, blessed with the heart of a savior

A blood slave, hiding her exotic appetite,

A perfect prince, arrogant and viciously flawed,

A trained healer, born to be a killer,

A legendary warrior, incapable of simple trust,

A second son, unwilling to be held hostage,

A brilliant politician, searching for courage to love,

A city behind walls, glittering and moody, ravaged and reborn,

And a fledgling nurse with the soul of an angel, carrying a spirit fierce enough to make them all family.

In the novel Raimond, the Monsters & Angels Series opens by introducing leading man, Commander Raimond Banitierre. (View the trailer here.)

Hero to martyr…

Assassinated in the earliest days of the French Revolution and tricked into decades of vampire slavery, Raimond fights for freedom and chases his ultimate dream of becoming a physician. His escape from France takes him across the Atlantic Ocean to Savannah, Georgia and through a trial-by-fire residency as battlefield surgeon during the American Civil War. Along the way, Doctor Banitierre encounters unlikely allies, finds precious love and suffers losses devastating enough to spiral him into despair.  

The arrival of Prince Draven Norman appears to be the final nail in Raimond’s coffin. Draven’s invitation to join the mystical royalty of New Orleans is either treachery or the next step in Raimond’s miraculous journey.

Soldier to saint…

FullSizeRender cardMonsters & Angels begins in 1936, on the brilliant autumn day of Sorcha Alden’s nursing school graduation. Driven by tragedy to honor her family name, Sorcha’s quest sends her from the bleak but familiar streets of New York City, through the sultry city of New Orleans, and on to a charity mission in the brutal jungles of Nepal.

Falling in love with handsome Doctor Vir Ashayle could have been a fairytale.

One tragic death, two haunted lovers…

Being murdered and waking up as a blood-thirsty monster, became her living nightmare.

The dawn of an immortal dynasty…

Forced to start over in a cutthroat underworld of bitter rivals and jealous ancestors, Sorcha returns to New Orleans as a newborn vampire with medical director, mentor and benefactor, Duke Raimond Banitierre, at her side.

Can the Crescent City’s magical harmony, the collective force of her newly found family, and Raimond’s fierce heart give Sorcha enough courage to fulfill her eternal destiny?

View the Monsters & Angels Trailer


24Anne Marie Andrus has been an equestrienne, chorale singer, EMT and baseball fan. Roaming the back roads of New Jersey with her family, she found great respect for antiques, historical locations and the stories they hold. Her current list of favorite pastimes include coffee, bourbon, and Les Misérables–which requires more bourbon. She has been known to attend sporting events just for the flyover. The boat she and her husband christened Glory Days, is her escape from the chaos of everyday life.

The inspiration for Anne Marie’s series, Monsters & Angels, is her fascination with vampires and her passion for everything New Orleans. When she isn’t writing, she can be found working nights with the critical care team in a busy trauma center.

In addition Monsters & Angels, Anne has two stories, Where The Power Hides and A Glimpse Of The Monster, available in Dan Alatorre’s newest scary story anthology, Dark Visions, sequel to best-seller The Box Under The Bed.

You can learn more about Anne at AnneMarieAndrus.com and Monsters & Angels Blog.

 

 

Apricots and Wolfsbane

It’s My Book Birthday!

Book BirthdayHappy Book Birthday to Apricots and Wolfsbane! One year ago today (Friday, October 13, 2017), I became a published author and what a year it has been.

Do any other authors check their Author Central sales daily?

How about GoodReads stats or for new reader reviews?

The best part of having my book out in the world has been hearing the reaction, both the good at the bad.

Thank you to the reader who wrote telling me I’m your new favorite author! (Here’s a video that summarizes why that is so cool: Surprise YouTube Video)

Thank you to the military wife who wrote saying my novel provided the escape she needed during her husband’s deployment. I am so touched to be able to give you something in return – a very minor, minuscule something compared to the sacrifice of your family.

But thank you also for  all the comments from readers wanting to throw their kindles at the wall when they reach the last page. I’m proud to have evoked such an emotional reaction. I knew the ending would be polarizing and therefore also appreciate the majority of comments saying they loved it and it is “the most dramatic ending” they have ever read.

I have enjoyed all book club chats, meeting readers at book fairs, and seeing my book at the Texas Renaissance Festival. I’m looking forward to my first international book club next month!

Thank you to all you amazing book bloggers who dedicate their time to promoting authors like me.

I am still in shock over the Historical Novel Society selecting Apricots and Wolfsbane as an Editors’ Choice Novel, and to be Discovering Diamonds book of the month. To have such reception from trusted historical fiction review sites is validation beyond what I imagined.

Thank you to every author who has swapped cross-promotion or provided advice. With the number of readers dwindling and book sales being incredibly competitive, it is amazing to see how warm and welcoming the author community is. You are all incredible. You are also the only ones who understand what a crazy, wild, insane, exhausting, emotional journey this has been.

Thank you to Filles Vertes Publishing for giving wings to my wild dream.

Most important, thank you to my family who provide such encouragement.

 

What do you think Lavinia would want for her birthday present?

Discuss your thoughts at the Apricots and Wolfsbane Book Chat Group on GoodReads or post in the comments.

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