Book Review! Gambit by C.L Denault

 

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I am back from my hiatus!

I’m not going to lie, it was nice to have a month that was book free. The last few books I  read were a bit of a letdown, and I was overwhelmed with work for my personal projects.It was nice to focus on my own work. I began to miss reading after a week or so, but I was leery because of the rough, weak story lines I had read before my NovelVaca ( ooh, look, a new word!). Luckily, the first book I read, Gambit by C.L Denault, immediately hooked me on books again.

It was that good.

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The premise is classic Dystopian, one of my favorite genres. There were a few new ingredients in this Dystopian universe, which included cat/children “rippers”, AKA feline killing machines, and physically enhanced soldiers.

Okay, that last part is not a new concept, but it was very well done.

The world is a mix of old charm and futuristic fantasy, which goes together much better than you would expect. Think bacon plus chocolate- Great separate, decadent together. The world building is solid, not overdone, and not slapped in front of you with a word paint brush in a single paragraph ( this is called info dumping, I detest it!) . The prose was beautiful. C.L Denault is a talented storyteller and writer, and the possession of those two talents is harder to find in an Author than people might believe.

However, all the things above are not the reason I loved this book. Yes, the world is interesting. Yes, there are unique factors. But the characters stole my heart. Willow, Reece and the supporting cast were exceptional.

Willow is a 16 year old girl who grew up in a poor, yet happy family.  She acts like a teenager, which is great, because that’s exactly what she is. Her life wouldn’t support an overly mature attitude, so I appreciated the realistic take on her. Despite her immaturity, she is a strong, promising character that I am sure will encompass her potential by the time this series is complete.

But she wasn’t the star of the show.

My favorite character  is Commander Reece- a terrifying, harsh, amazingly enigmatic man who any girl would fall head over heals for, despite his streak of danger (let’s be honest, it makes him better!). He’s the first male character I’ve fallen for in ages. It was  wonderful to feel that way about a book again!

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I also enjoyed the supporting characters, Asp, Tem, Morry, all of them! They had their own unique personalities, which is so refreshing. Many books have filler characters that are just there, saying lines. Not these guys! They were dimensional and alive.

There were a few times I looked up from the pages with an “eh” attitude, but now that I’ve finished the book I can’t remember why I felt that way. The positives completely overtook those few moments, and I will be waiting for the next book with anxious impatience.

So, I am going to give this book 5 stars.

That’s right. I said it. FIVE STARS!!!!!!!

I am not saying this book is perfection, or a great piece of artistic mastery that will be studied for ages, but I truly, completely enjoyed this story. To me, it was awesome, and I might even read it again.

WHICH I NEVER DO!

This book will be bought by me in hard copy, and go on my favorites shelf, right next to the Shatter me Series, The Selection series, The Razorland series ( and Emily Grifin’s novels, and The Giver, and Rebecca … you get the idea). To put that in perspective for you guys, I haven’t bought a hard copy since 2014 .

Yeah.

And if C.L Denault could autograph it, that would be amazing…(I can dream!)

If you like romance, Dystopian, or just fantasy in general, grab your copy of Gambit here!

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*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

 

 

 

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My journey to becoming a Published Author

 

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A year and a half ago I was sitting on my couch with my best friend  (AKA husband) passionately displaying my dissatisfaction about a book series I just finished reading.  The ending was, in my opinion, poorly executed and didn’t give the characters justice.

“I could write a better ending than that!” I proclaimed, tossing my wine glass up to the sky.

“Then do it,” Ryan replied.

I laughed at the suggestion and we playfully brainstormed book ideas, most of which were horrible. One stuck with me though, and this character wouldn’t quiet. I opened my laptop at 2 am and wrote this strange, dark character’s story, entitled The Cleanser. It was the first chapter of what would become my debut novel, The Mercy Killers.

I can honestly say I had no idea what a life changing night that was for me.

I wrote like a madwoman for 5 months, then my husband came home from deployment and I put the half finished manuscript away. I wasn’t sure what  I was doing, was this only for fun? Was this something I wanted to pursue?  I wasn’t under any delusions of what being an author truly means.  There is always a chance an author can make it “big” but being an author more than likely means pouring your soul into a manuscript which may never see the light of day, and if it does it can take years of crawling through the trenches to get it picked up. I have two small children and a husband who is often absent because of his job. I wasn’t sure I wanted to commit to something that draining for the possibility of no pay off.

But the story wouldn’t go away.images (1)

It was always in my head, building, creating this giant world, and as time passed I realized I needed to write this. Even if nothing came of it I wanted to write it because it brought me joy. So I pulled out the book and finished it.

 

When I typed that last sentence,  it became clear writing was my passion. In some ways it always had been.  I have stacks of journals and songs to prove it.  But this book was somehow different. This made me excited and brought me peace (you can read more about my reaction to my finished manuscript here.)

I didn’t know what to do next, so I blindly entered contests because  I was told they could provide valuable feedback. I entered a few and received some excellent advice.  I learned how to hone my skills, and I completed my edits using the lessons  I gleaned from the contests. I placed  well in them, which helped my confidence.

So now I possessed a completed manuscript! What next? I knew I needed a Query letter, so I signed up for a Query Class. I also tried my hand at a pitch contest, #Pitchmas (read about my experience here, it was eye opening.) The pitch contest went well. I ended up with quite a bit of interest.

That was a shock.

I prepared myself for the trenches.  I was ready for tons of rejections and piles of agent queries that went nowhere. I ended up with solid choices. I did receive a few rejections, but even the rejections didn’t have the horrible bluntness I heard about. Most were incredibly positive.

“Sorry,  I can’t take YA. Could this story be for an adult audience?” ( No, it is NA/YA) .

“I love the first chapter, if the majority of the narrative is from that POV I am interested” (It wasn’t, so we didn’t pursue a relationship.)

“Love your voice! Do you have anything set in the current time period? I am looking for Urban fantasy.” ( I have a voice!?!?!)

I was shocked.

I was overwhelmed.

This was not what I expected.

I did my research, read through my options, and took the advice I was kindly given by the experts who  offered it. I settled on an offer that seemed clean to me. I sent it to my lawyer, who promptly agreed the contract was clean, didn’t have hidden clauses and the royalty agreement was fair.

However, this contract was through a small start up publisher which hadn’t even released a book yet. Signing with a new company was a risk, so I didn’t sign right away.

Instead, I did more research. I spoke to the owner, who was  honest and helpful. I read success stories and stories of failure, some through small pubs and some through the big five. I sat down and tried to figure out what I wanted.  I researched pros and cons of the big five versus a small pub and I seriously considered signing with the new publisher. After all, contracts are hard to get, and  getting looked at by the big five or an established independent publisher can be tough. It wasn’t like a big agent was going to randomly knock on my door!

I entered a contest called the YA! 2015 Authors.me competition on a whim. I had no idea how much exposure I would receive, nor did  I have a real grasp on who would be reading it.  I did well, in fact I won the whole shebang ( WHAT!?!?!) and a few weeks later I had two different individuals within the literary community approach me with some great advice and interesting proposals.

It was a little overwhelming.

The small publishing house contract was still on my desk, carefully arranged and protected in an envelope, postmarked and addressed.  It was ready to go, but I hadn’t been able to actually sign it. I don’t know why. I had every intention. But every time I picked up the pen this quiet voice would whisper, “Not yet.” I was certain the voice was insane, because book deals are hard to come by and I was lucky to have a publisher who was as devoted to what I wanted as this company was.

You see, I’ve never been a very brave person. I’ve always taken the safest, surest route. This small publisher was safe, and I liked who ran it. I liked the authors. I liked everyone. But all of the feedback from different sources was forcing me to look at what I really wanted out of writing as a career, and my goals became clear.

I wanted to be a hybrid author. I wanted to try to shoot for the stars even when the deck is stacked against me. If I failed, fine, but at least I tried. So, I did a very terrifying thing.

I walked away from a sure thing. images

Was that the best decision for me?

Only time will tell, and probably quite a bit of time. The publishing industry tends to move slow.  I will likely experience some rough moments. I may end up with a small publisher, after all many of them are very good at selling a certain genre. If we are a good fit I will be over the moon. Now, I understand what I am looking for.

Was I scared?

Absolutely. I still feel a little sick thinking about it. It was a hard decision for me to come to, and it hurt because I had come to genuinely care about the people who ran the small publishing company. I was also working on a second book which was perfect for them and needed the type of platform they could provide. Severing our relationship didn’t just mean pulling The Mercy Killers, but it also meant pulling a chance for The Seductress too.

Still, I walked away.

My big, terrifying journey starts here. A journey I could have finished already, and maybe  I should have. I know I’ll  likely receive rejections before I find what I am looking for. But I think intuition is important, and a famous quote echoes in my head whenever I start to doubt myself.

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Gone with the Wind is one of my favorite books. It was rejected 38 times.

Stephanie Meyer struggled to get an agent, she was snubbed 18 times, and then went on to get rejected by over a dozen publishers.

The Help got rejected 61 times. Stephen King had a spike of rejections on his wall.  Meg Cabot had an entire bag full of them.

I don’t know if I will ever be as great as the people  I’ve mentioned. I understand it’s not likely. I do have passion. They obviously have talent, and mine remains to be seen. I think it’s there, I just need to hone it.

If I receive 300 rejections? I’ll submit 301 times.

Until then, I’ll keep writing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

House of Kings

Come to me, you beautiful book!

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The House of Kings cover nails the series vibe with the sultry, mysterious vamp king and the strong, beautiful Alivia dominating the front.

I hate spoilers, so I’ll just give a little overview of the excitement level in this book. There’s death, Kings and lost love. Lies and speculation snowball into heartbreaking danger and threats.  Old flames die off, then disappear, then come back, and new flames shine … brighter? There’s love, lust, temptation, and did I mention the heat in this book is smoking?

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But House of Kings is also full of sticky, bitter, complicated angst. Alivia’s heart is shattered into a hundred little pieces, which gives her a few scars. she finally wakes up as her new self, which awakens parts that are vicious and flawed. It was hard to see Alivia struggle, but I also think it was necessary.  Characters need flaws in order to create depth and show growth. I think Alivia is going to be redeemed in the next book, along with another key character that might of made some mistakes too…

But no spoilers!

King Cyrus is such an interesting character. I love the dark guys. Raheem is sexy walking, and Ian is, well, he’s Ian.

I do want to warn you. Keary likes to cut a story off at a high stake point. She wants to guarantee her readers come back, and she is a pro at carrying out her mission. As much as I loved the book and the ending, the suspense is not fun. The ending is a sharp drop off a helluva tormenting cliffhanger.

So, I’m ready for the next book. When is the release date?

Does anyone know?

I need to know!

4.5 stars for Keary Taylor’s House of Kings! As much as I loved this book, I think some of the supporting cast could be fleshed out a little more. I received an ARC from the Author, and I am so happy I didn’t have to wait as long to read this book!

But now I need to wait longer to read the next one. I see a downside there, but I’m not complaining!

Grab your copy of House of Kings here!

 

I’ll Close My Eyes

Found a way around the Hanging Tree

Cover up your colors,the hanging tree poem

Cover up your past.

Leaving you behind was the hardest thing.

I’ll never tell you,

You’ll never ask.

Burn it down, that’s what was said to me,

But hope is a bird

So fragile she flies.

That’s the part of us escaping me.

A prayer for the better

Riding voices of lies.

But you’ve got a draw that always was a magnet

to this hard heart made of steel and stone.

I’m nothing more than broken little pieces

and needles can’t sew through these bones.

Footsteps echo as I walk along

Telling me you’re following,shadow hallway

Telling me you’re here.

Conscious thought says not to look behind,

Hearts are always traitors

Hearts are too sincere.

Sun is rising through these tattered halls

Throwing down your shadow

Whispering the truth.

Racing toward that next falling night.

I can outrun anything,

Anything but you.

I know the sun is safer for a reason,

But light still shines into your little cracks.

I see skin and I want to taste it,

So now I need my shadows back.

Lies can be stronger if you feed them

Hearts can be silenced if lies will eat them.closed eye

But I can’t hand over my tattered little ties

Locked onto parts of you that never died.

So I’ll close my eyes, I’ll shut my mouth,

and pretend this all away.

House Of Royals

I haven’t read a vamp book in a while. Probably because I vamped myself out when I was nineteen ( Oh, hey Twilight!) So when The House of Royals caught my eye, I was surprised. I was even more surprised when I realized the book was a vampire Paranormal read, and I was still interested.

This all boils down to one thing.

     I love the cover!HOUSE OF ROYALS

But we aren’t here to talk about the beautiful red dress and lovely raven that dominate the book’s front. We are here to talk about the inside pages. So let’s get down to business.

The House of Royals starts with  a young city girl named Alivia arriving at her newly inherited Southern Plantation home. Her long lost father left her a mansion…and quite an eye brow raising heritage.  I won’t go into any more plot detail because the books starts out fast and I’d end up spoiling things, but lets just say vampires, slayers, and royal bloodlines are involved.

Oh, and romance. But I’ll get to that later…

The writing is good.  Modern slang with Southern charm. I can’t say the premise is unlike anything I’ve ever read before, but it is a well described, beautiful setting . The vampires weren’t original, but they are vampires. We all know what they are! It’s 2016! Why change what works? The descriptions are good, the characterization is good…

The book is good.

However, nothing really surprised me. The ending does have a plot twist, but I could feel it coming. The beginning of the book felt rushed, and parts of the book seemed to be filler. It was good, but not great.

So, why am I putting the book on my blog? I only talk about books I love! The other reviews go straight to Amazon and Goodreads!

The Romance.

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I love romance!!!!!!

Keary Taylor is a romance writer. Romance is her language, and she can give quite a speech. The house of royals is a romance, so that’s what I’m going to judge it on.  Here is a little taste of Taylor’s style below.

 

“Ian and I have been circling one another in close orbit. We have a gravitational pull on each other that can’t be explained by logic or reason…Sometimes fate deals you the horrible and the incredible. We can’t run from either. I take a step away from him…and millimeter by millimeter, our fingers slip apart.”

I love the energy she creates between two people. She is a pro at tension, and tension is what I love. The tension between Ian and Alivia is thick, and sticky, and oh so not allowed.  Forbidden love, hot guy and beautiful girl who might be destined to be a vampire?

I’ll take it!

I’d highly recommend this to anyone who likes Paranormal Romance. if you love Vamp romance, this is a must read for you.

Four stars for the House of Royals! The second book in this series is already out, and you can bet I’ll read it soon. Put me on your e-mail list, Keary Taylor! I ‘ll be needing the last book in this series as soon as it’s available!