Reading Radar – City of Masks by Ashley Capes

This week’s edition of Reading Radar features a book I got through an Amazon promotion.

City of Masks by Ashley Capes

51q8tuxl6nlThis epic fantasy starts with the former mercenary, Notch, in prison for a murder he didn’t commit. He escapes from prison and meets the future Protector of the Monarchy, Sofia Falco. Sofia, however, has her own problems. She becomes the first female Protector in a hundred years when her brother is proclaimed dead at sea. The person she is supposed to protect, the prince and heir to the throne, makes it clear he does not want her services. She discovers that her noble House is under threat from enemies within as a war begins to brew in the world beyond her kingdom.

I found the world-building in the opening chapters very well-written, and I have to applaud the author for following three very different POV characters. These three character threads seem rather disjointed at first, but I could tell from the beginning that the threads intersect later on. I appreciate the author’s fairly crisp narrative, and I found the characters to be very fascinating. I look forward to reading the rest of the story, and I think you will too.

 

 

That’s it for now. I should get back to reading – and writing, of course!

 

 


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Reading Radar – Kingdom of Dreams and Soul Siphon

Welcome, readers, to my picks for this week!

Reading Radar tends to focus on self-published and crowdfunded projects, especially by authors who have not had huge exposure in the market. This week, I look at two more works I want to read – and I think you should check them out too!

InksharesKingdom of Dreams by Kevin O’Coffey

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This one has pictures – by the author, no less! If I could draw, I’d be doing something very similar to what O’Coffey is doing with Kingdom of Dreams. The byline gives it a nice, weird feel right from the start: “Nightmares that eradicate bullies, possessed vacuum cleaners that bestow binding quests of kingdoms torn asunder. Adolescents have many normal problems–these are not.”

O’Coffey is adding illustrations in with the text, turning this into a mix of graphic novel and standard novel. The pictures I’ve seen so far only add to the surreal, creepy, but perhaps not-too-serious vibe suggested by the byline.

The story is about Jimmy Reve, a boy who just wants his bullies to go away. One day, the bullies start to disappear, one by one, and Jimmy realizes his problems are much worse than he thought. He is introduced to the Kingdom of Dreams, and has to find a way to fix the damage he has caused – or he will disappear next.

This work is currently seeking backers. I usually toss in $10 to one Inkshares book each month, and I think this will be my choice for December. Check it out – I think this project deserves a proper chance.

Website Visitor – Soul Siphon by James Harrington

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This book appeared on my radar thanks to a visitor to my website! I tracked down a like for a previous post, and found that James Harrington’s latest book is Soul Siphon, and that it came out last April on Amazon. So I decided to give the preview a read.

This book has a cool premise – good enough to keep me interested through the free preview. The story follows Corban, a man who was possessed by a demon and who died as a result. He is brought back to life by a mysterious figure and joins others who have been mysteriously resurrected. From the looks of it, these once-dead characters have mystical powers based on how they died. It seems they have been recruited into fighting evil beings – but honestly, it’s a bit hard to tell where this story is going from the preview.

The writing is a bit clunky, with a lot of tell where there could be show. Entire paragraphs are written in the past perfect tense, describing backstory without allowing the reader to experience the events. The prose could use tightening – a lot of sentences could be shorter and simpler. The worldbuilding and detail seem interesting enough to merit a full read, however, so I’ll give it a shot.

That’s it for Reading Radar this week. What are you reading?


Consider buying a copy of Nothing Too Familiar or Convergence to support the author of this site.

Or you can help support this site by leaving a tip. Contributions can be made in any amount starting at $1 US. Thank you for the support!

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Online Book Club – Write Reviews for Free Books and Get Paid #amreading #amwriting

Free Books for Reviews – The Online Book Club Review Program

Forums for Book and eBook Lovers

I’ve been a member of the Online Book Club forums, forums.onlinebookclub.org, for several months now, and it’s been a great way to see books I might never otherwise hear about. People in the forums talk about books of all types, but the main focus is on ebooks, especially those released through programs like Kindle Direct Publishing. Online Book Club has a mailing list which features new releases from authors in the forums. Many of these books are offered absolutely free, while others can be read for free with a Kindle Unlimited subscription. All books have been vetted and reviewed by a team of reviewers – and you can join the team!

Reviewers Get Paid, but it’s no day job…

As they say, the main draw for reviewers has always been the exchange of books for reviews. No one goes into this expecting to get rich or anything! As a serious writer, however, I need to read, so this program appeals to me as a way to get some pocket change while I keep up with what independent authors like me are writing. If you are a writer yourself, or you just like to read a lot, this is a chance for you to get a bit of money for something you already do. So if you don’t read very much already – you won’t get much out of this.

As a new reviewer, you can probably expect not to get paid at first. You still get free books, and your review will be featured to members of the forums. By participating in the forums and reviewing as often as you can, you can expect to get better opportunities for reviews as you go. Once you do get paid, you can expect between $5 – $60 per review.

Myself, I only read through 1 or 2 books every month. I listen to many more on audio – I have an hour long drive to work, and I like to use that time, darn it! However, I am reading, and I will use this review program not so much for the money, but for a chance to keep up with current writing trends and to network with other authors.

This program seems worthwhile if you also need motivation to keep reading, or if you already read a lot.

“North of Reality” – Weird & Funny short fiction by Uel Aramcheck

I was looking around Web Fiction Guide today, searching for hidden gems…

I think I found one!

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I’ve been reading a lot of serial and web fiction lately, but North of Reality by Uel Aramcheck is different from most.

Rather than being a strict serial, it is a blog from the author’s imaginary realm – each piece is either a short story or an encyclopedic entry from another universe.

One of the best examples of the self-contained story entries is “Then Before If“- I loved how this piece plays around with the paradox that arises from knowing the future, and builds a rather poignant story around it.

My favorite encyclopedia entry so far  is “The Projectile Heart“, informing readers that humans can eject their hearts through their mouths in extreme situations (just like sea cucumbers vomiting up their insides).

I’ve really enjoyed everything I’ve read from this site so far. Since each piece can be read on its own, it makes it a great site to stop by once every few days for a weird fiction fix.


jukepopMy next writing goal – have Chapter 10 of Far Flung ready for the next Tuesday Serial Collector!

First Impressions – Fade to Black by Tim McBain & L.T. Vargus

Awake in the Dark

Howdy! I’ve got a First Impression here. I’m looking at Fade to Black today because one of the authors contacted me and asked me to. Yeah, I do that kind of thing, when I can.

At the Amazon page for the Awake in the Dark series, I read the first chapters of Fade to Black by Tim McBain & L.T. Vargus.

It starts off with:

Any minute now a hooded man will come barreling out of nowhere and kill me.
So that sucks.
I know this because it has happened six times before. I wake up in this alley, hung from a post by a piece of rope lashed to one ankle, tied in a hangman’s knot. After several minutes of work, I pry my bonds free, and about thirty seconds after I hit the ground, this guy in a black hooded robe gives me a pretty bad case of death.

So that gives a pretty good idea of the “voice” of this work – witty, sardonic, and dark all mingled nicely. It’s a funny read with a quick pace, making for nice easy reading. The narrative is a little raw at times – I thought it could have been a bit crisper. There are few too many adjectives and adverbs for my critical eye, but the style can be justified as the main character’s storytelling. I thought some lines were trying too hard to be witty, but overall I appreciated the humour.

The story starts with a nicely intense sequence with Jeff Grobnagger running from someone trying to kill him. The reader learns that Jeff has run down this datrk alley before and has been killed already, six times before! The reader then finds out that Jeff passed out from a seizure while in a grocery store and had the dream or vision of his own grizzly death. Jeff is helped by Glenn, another customer at the store. Jeff, refusing to take an ambulance, instead accepts a ride to Glenn’s home.  Glenn thinks that Jeff’s seizures are a form of astral projection, and Glenn reveals that his missing daughter was involved with groups interested in magic and the occult.

This all happens in the first 2 chapters, so it’s a lot. I appreciate the fast pace, however I really thought it odd that Glenn reveals so much right away. It was a bit of a stretch to go from “I’ll help this guy who passed out” to “I’ll take him home” and then to “I’ll tell him everything about my missing daughter”. Sure, it gets the exposition out of the way quickly and gets the story going, but I would have appreciated a little more justification. (I have to admit – this might be part of the humour going straight over my head…)

Thanks to the fast pace and humour, this is a series I’ll definitely try out. At the very least, I’ll check out the first book in the series – it’s less than $1 for Kindle.

Other things I’ve learned from looking in to this:

  • Having a dirt cheap or free first book in your series is really effective
  • Never be afraid to contact bloggers / authors and ask them to check out your free sample
  • Make sure you have a free sample that rocks

Check out the Awake in the Dark Series on Amazon:

L.T. Vargus can be found at ltvargus.com

Tim McBain can be found on Twitter, @RealTimMcBain

First Impressions – Conviction by M. Howalt

My attention turns to Conviction, another serial on Jukepop

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The author, M. Howalt, frequently replies to posts here (Hi! Always a pleasure to see you here!), so how could I not?

I’m now somewhere in the 5th installment of Conviction, and this post is about why you’ll want to check more of it out after the first chapter.

This story establishes a mood and a character very quickly, with the protagonist Iliya Radov trying to recover his memory in a horrible jail cell. As his cell is described, there are great little lines like “The paint and the plaster of his mind were crumbling, and it would be only a matter of time before he broke” that get the reader into this man’s head. At the end a bit of hope, a man who knows Iliya, and whom Illiya seems to have some fractured memory of. What does this man want? Illyia is an ‘Infantry Assault Wizard’? Such tantalizing clues!

It’s a lot to take in, but I think most readers will be drawn in by exactly that! I’ve kept on reading because of the mysteries and the simple narrative that navigates them quickly. That’s why I encourage you, dear reader, to check this out. Be sure to post your thoughts – let me know if you enjoyed Conviction as well!

First Impressions – Flocked by Ryan Watt

Hello everyone!

It’s high time I made another content post, even if it is a short one.

As a writer on Jukepop and Inkshares, I’m discovering new works all the time as I write my own. I’ll be using posts like this one to give my first impressions of new works that I discover – like my earlier reviews, but quicker and aimed at getting readers interested in discovering new authors.

If you want your serial featured here, just send me a message. I am always looking for new reads!


 

Today’s First Impression — “Flocked” by Ryan Watt.

At time of writing, this story has … wait, let me check … whoa, 77 chapters! Oh, and it’s one of 3 stories maintained by this author!

In the first chapter, the reader gets an introduction to the fairytale world shared by Heroes of the Fabled Age (which may also get a First Impression writeup later on). Right from the start there’s a very fairytale  setup, with princesses, curses, and an honourable quest. We learn that Cyril, intrepid member of the Guild of Feathers, has taken the King’s challenge to resolve the strange curse on his beloved daughters. Cyril, however, is not a typical knight in armour – he has his own curse to live with.

The prose is fairly sharp – I think the writing was cared for and well-edited. From the start, I get the impression of a world that follows some of the fairytale conventions, and yet hides twists and nuances behind the familiar. There’s a clear sense of mystery – more than enough to get me interested in reading the next chapter and beyond.

Flocked will go on my Jukepop bookshelf, and I think it should be on yours too. Go check it out!


 

 

Oh yeah, Far Flung. It’s coming! I’m working on the 5th part now – I think 2 entries per month will be my comfortable output for this tale.