Monday, March 25, 2013

Cover Reveal: Fall of Sky City by S.M. Blooding

People say, “Don't judge a book by its cover.

It's good advice. The outer skin of a pomegranate doesn't reveal the juicy ruby beads beneath. Nor does a slim figure and flowing hair portray a woman's deep emotions or complex character.

People also say, “First impressions are important.

Because as much as we strive to set aside appearances, appearances find a way to snake around our thoughts, spouting judgments like weeds. This was a hard lesson to learn for author S.M. Blooding, who is re-releasing her fantastical tale of bitter feuds, unwanted bonds, and the fight for right and freedom with a brand new look.

Mystical, magical, dangerous WOW. The cover of Fall of Sky City: Devices of War Trilogy, Book 1, is artful, detailed, visually stunning, and a myriad of other favorable adjectives. If you compare the new to the old (which I'll do in a moment), you can see the vast improvement, but to say this cover is merely a step up would be to take away from its stand-alone brilliance.

Our protagonist is front and center, a powerful enforcer in a city of advanced science or magic. The title and author's name are outlined and dynamic, brilliantly placed. The cover itself tells a story, has both depth of concept and visual depth. The illustrator played with lights and shadows masterfully, drawing the eye from the ship and red moon in the sky to our hero's mysterious tattoo and weaponry. All of this is a far cry from The Hands of Tarot, the original title and cover:

First thought: Not for me.

Visually, the cover is flat. The reds, oranges, and browns bleed into monotony, and there is no depth to any of the images. I doesn't grab me the way a cover should.

Conceptually, the cover is somewhat intriguing, with drawn art and a mystical steampunk feel, but I don't like my protagonists quite so dark. The Queen of Wands, supposed master of a human pet, is in some way immersed in Tarot, a magic revolving around fate and fortune that has terrible, dark consequences.

Sounds like a completely different book to Fall of Sky City, doesn't it? That's because everything this cover told me… is wrong.

In a world governed by the opposing forces of the mystical House of Tarot and the tribal Great Families, Synn is caught in the crossfire. He witnesses the slaughter of innocent people, and the devastating murder of his father. This act awakens his Mark of power, a Mark greater than any the world has seen in a very long time.

Queen Nix thought she won a great prize when she destroyed Synn’s father, the leader of the strongest Great Families. She had no idea she’d be doubly blessed by capturing his son. However, before Synn can become her treasured weapon, before she can use him to bring the rest of the world to its knees, she must break him and bind his soul to hers.

She does her job with brutal brilliance. Synn’s mind is broken and his soul is seared to hers in an unbreakable bond.That doesn’t stop him from wanting to be free. She may have broken his mind and claimed his soul, but he will find a way to destroy her.

Experience a world of ships that sail the clouds and cites buried beneath the ocean, and survive the fiery battle brought forth by those who control the forces of nature!

Now, that is a book I can sink my teeth into! I'm extremely grateful to S.M. Blooding for re-releasing this book the way it should have always been wrapped. Had she not, I would have likely passed on something I'm eager to read and enjoy. Let this be a lesson to all authors to take time and care in choosing how to display their hard work to the world, lest you end up in the same boat with a cover and title that don't do your characters or your story justice.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Word of the Day: Juxtaposition

Juxtaposition (jək-stə-pə-ˈzi-shən) n.  1. A placing close together or side by side, especially for comparison or contrast.  2. The situation of being close together or side by side.

Am I the only person who sees or hears the word juxtaposition and immediately starts singing . . .

"Joxer the Mighty
Roams through the countryside
He never needs a place to hide
With Gabby as his sidekick
Fighting with her little stick
Righting wrongs and singing songs
Being mighty all day long
He's Joxer—he's Joxer the Mighty!"

. . . inside my head?

It's always been a funny little word for me. Juxta --- position. JUXta --- position. JuxTA --- position. Hmmm.

In a sentence:
 ~ The juxtaposition of the basketball player next to the jockey was comical, the difference in their sizes more obvious than ever.

How would you use juxtaposition in a sentence?

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Word of the Day: Selfish

Selfish (sel-fish) adj. Devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one's own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others.

Here's the thing. Selfish is not, in itself, a bad word. Humans, by nature, are selfish creatures. It's okay to be selfish, to think about yourself and only yourself every once in a while. Just like it's okay to have a few drinks. It's when those few drinks turn into a few more and all the sudden you're an alcoholic narcissist that we have a problem. The trick is being selfish in the right way.

In a sentence:
 ~ "A $500 pair of shoes when you haven't even paid your part of the rent? You are the most selfish person I have ever met!"
 ~ To a run-ragged mother of three, a selfish dose of bubble baths and steamy novels is just what the doctor ordered.

Help me come up with ways to be selfish! Give me a good example and a bad example.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Review: Bluegrass State of Mind

Imagine a strong, lovely character standing on top of a hill, bathed in sunlight, an intriguing plot blossoming from beautiful descriptive words all around her. When I opened my Kindle to the first page of Kathleen Brooks' Bluegrass State of Mind, I thought I might have finally found a Contemporary Romance to hold my attention. A thrilling prologue leads into a vision of our protagonist, McKenna Mason, running from and for her life on the open roads of Kentucky. She's searching for a childhood love, a Mr. Will Ashton, sexy owner of Ashton Farm and Boots, his prized race horse.

Upon meeting Will, I was smitten. He was charming, sweet, and arrogant in all the right places, with just a touch of insecurity mixed in. We also meet Will's wonderful parents, Paige Davies, a sheik named Mo, and a host of other townsfolk, including the hysterical Rose sisters, who try in equal parts to wheedle romantic gossip out of Kenna and prevent her from having any at all to tell. We then meet Whitney, as she pushes Kenna and that promising plot down a slippery slope into mediocrity.

There were several moments where I thought the story could have been saved, but Kenna continued to trip over meddling characters and her own obtuse deductions. For something that started out thrilling and mysterious, I soon became frustrated I had figured out what was going to happen before the characters ever suspected. I couldn't even fall back on the adorable country romance—Will, who I hoped would ride in on his Ford truck and save the day, was stashed away for safekeeping, only to be brought out again when Brooks was ready for for the misunderstandings to be resolved. And then BAM, relationship. There was no getting to know him past his introduction; readers are expected to fall in love with him through quick sentences and time lapses.

I wish I could say the lackluster romance and predictable plot were the only areas in which Bluegrass State of Mind fell short, but as the story evolved, the writing did the opposite. I could hardly believe a slapstick scene of fake crying and bursts of laughter came from the same author that wrote porch-sweeping old women and a cute, cocky reunion. Multiple typos and Brooks' incessant need to explain the most obvious or unrealistic scenarios made for a grimace-filled finish. Or as much of a finish as cliffhangers will allow.

I won't say this book is completely terrible, though. Southern charm is abundant through it's pages, and Kenna is for the most part a strong leading lady. She's feminine but tough, and fits right in with Kentucky society. The preaching that good manners weren't sexist got tiresome, but I adored the fact Kenna wasn't offended by good Southern hospitality. It was a nice change from so many books preaching independence against men opening doors.

After predicting everything that would happen in Book One, I can't imagine the next two telling me anything I don't already know, so I'm unlikely to pick them up. However, I can't regret reading Bluegrass State of Mind. It did not live up to my expectations and it disappointed more than it entertained, but a majority of the characters were rich and the relationships they formed were true. If nothing else, they were well worth my time.

Dust Collector