books, ness talks books

two nights, one bookset

A33224309 reading marathon. Who’d have thunk it?

I signed up to be an advance reader, forgetting that the reason why I don’t read things in advance is because by the time I’ve read them, there is no advance. There’s more like a ‘catch up. QUICK!’

So, being a dignified and dedicated reader, I refused an extra shift from work and returned home, feet weary and mind ready for PJs, tea, a bed, a book, and a question:

// Will I get this review up in time? //

[ANSWER FROM FUTURE NESS: No. Because sleep summoned and you answered. You divided a marathon in half, which is cheating if you ask me. Also. You should go to bed now. Two late nights in a row isn’t a good idea. Your grammar is terrible when you’re tired.]

The Mountain of the Wolf by Elisabeth Grace Foley confused me at first. I didn’t know which fairytale it was inspired by and so assumed that it was an obscure German one. (It wasn’t.) Despite the fact that Westerns aren’t always my cup of tea, this grew on me and I found myself enjoying it. Rosa Jean was stubborn though, maybe I missed something, but logic, girl, logic.

Also, there is a horse called Pheasant. I approve of the name. (As an irrelevant fact: if you are ever out driving in the English countryside at night you’ll find that pheasants have suicidal inclinations.)

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one day this fact will come in handy. probably.

She But Sleepeth by Rachel Heffington was an adventure. (All books are adventures but still …) Things happened in quick, breath-taking succession and my only complaint was that it felt as though it needed a little more time. Things were accepted too quickly. I needed more time with certain characters to fully feel the KAPOW! of the *cough* spoiler  *cough*

But this was a fairytale re-telling. Allowances shall be made. I liked the ending. (Isn’t that ambiguous? But seriously. I liked it.)

Rumpled by J. Grace Pennington reconciled me to a fairytale that I’ve never really liked. I wasn’t sure that I would like the heroine but, y’know, character development happened. I was immensely proud of her when she started on the dusters and hoovers and KitchenAids.

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Sweet Remembrance by Emily Ann Putzke was bitter-sweet. Somewhere Only We Know (sung by Lily Allan) fitted my mood reading this perfectly. Only … I’m still not certain which fairytale it was inspired by.

Death Be Not Proud by Suzannah Rowntree puzzled me at first. Which fairytale WAS it? But then I realised. And then I felt awfully smug for putting the puzzle pieces together. This has a touch of Mary Stewart and a dash of Poirot (look, I felt I was in a good and proper ‘who dunnit’ okay?). Quite the read.

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The more I read With Blossoms Gold by Hayden Ward the more I became enchanted by it. It reminded me a little of Melanie Dickerson’s writing, but I enjoyed it more (forgive me, Dickerson fans!). The story fit its length well, the characters grow, the back-stories are well fleshed out and I want the heroine’s tower. And library. And cat. Is that too much to ask? No. No, it’s not.

… and with that, I hereby declare this reading marathon to be OVAAAHHH!

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I’d like to thank the kind folks who gave me this boxset to read, my mother, my father, my hairdresser, the random dude who disdained my Christmas jumper (hi!) and any future cats that adopt me. I love you *sniff* each and every one.

goodreads // da boxset on amazon

ness talks about life, ness writes about writing

In Which I have Another Guest

pictured: a cuppa

If you have a moment, put your feet up, grab a cuppa and a biscuit and settle down as I have another guest on this blog. Today, on this slightly overcast English morn’, I am joined by E. Kaiser Writes, author of Jeweler’s Apprentice and the new Thaw series.

Tell me a little about your writing journey.

As a homeschooled child I was given the gift of being an early reader, so I was into the abridged version of Little Women at nine years old. When Jo March tried writing stories and books I had an epiphany; I had no idea books were written by people.  Suddenly I knew that was what I wanted to do when I grew up!

I asked Mom how I should go about that, and she advised reading a lot; (pretty good advice from someone who was guessing!) So I did, to the detriment of my chores, sometimes!

 In my teens I started trying to wrangle my thoughts on paper and that was very difficult. I went through a tumultuous period all through there where I’d get discouraged that I’d “never be published, so why spend so much time on a dead-end?” as my brother put it. But I couldn’t endure not writing, and so I’d be back at it.

I rarely finished anything, sometimes only brushing out a scene with no story; but it was all great practice.

I wrote my first complete novel draft as a gift for my youngest sister in ’07, and she liked it so much she encouraged me to make a sequel. The first ms of Jeweler’s Apprentice took four years of improvements and tweaking, then we put it out as an e-book in 2011. Met several great fans through that, and they also encouraged a sequel, so I wrote Traitor’s Knife and we released that in July 2013.

What inspired you to write the Thaw series?

I’d wanted to write a Winter Queen piece for some time, but was galvanized into action by all the things Frozen did wrong. It was just wrenching to see how many themes and deep meanings were just SKIPPED by Disney. There was soo much that could have, SHOULD have been done… and once I get mad at someone doing a story wrong, it can be like rocket fuel to my own version ; ). I include summaries of the source tales at the beginnings of the Thaw: books, educating readers on the original tales to prime them for my versions. : )

We do borrow from the Disney version, (it is a universal truth that as soon as Disney does something that becomes America’s version of the tale!) Some of the ideas were too cute to toss, one of them being the family with 13 princes. Having recently met a family with 8 kids under the age of ten, and hearing of the derogatory remarks their mother receives, that opportunity to contrast Noran’s two-daughter family with Demargen’s 13-son one was too good to pass up.

And the spin-offs are irresistible! : )

And Anderson seems a little stuck on roses… they populate his tales quite a lot! In fact a quick search of “Roses Hans Christian Anderson” produces interesting results! So, those definitely needed to feature prominently, and it was actually a little fun to stick rose cameos all over the place. : )

Do you have a favourite character in the series? If so, who is it and why?

Ilise would probably be my favorite because she is so like me… her faults are my own flaws, her triumph what I hope to be someday! Magnifying each for dramatic affect was actually fun, after I pushed past the tough decision to just write deeply honestly. (When writing her argument with her mother as a teen, I could just hear the echoes of my own daughter/mother outbursts!)

But they are all very real and near and dear to my heart.

Can you sum up each book with a single word?

Oh, no!!! That is just too cruel of a question to ask. There’s a REASON I wrote two 100k novels + a novella when I tried to get this story out of my head!! I couldn’t do it any shorter! But, just to humor you, I’ll give it a go:

 Thaw: Winter’s Child – Disappointment
Thaw: Winter Queen – Emergence
Thaw: Prince of Demargen – Victory
Thaw: Reindeer King – Culmination
Thaw: Princess of Noran – Wrap-up

Coffee or Tea?

Definitely not a tea drinker, I only love it if it is nice and sweet, and too much sweet makes my teeth hurt. (True story! My teeth get sensitive to hot of cold, I cut back on sugary stuff, and my teeth get fine again.)

I do like a bit of coffee in my milk and honey : )

Paper or Computer?

My stories come to me snippet by snippet, and Word programs are the greatest thing! I can type loads faster than hand write, as well as rearranging sentences and words a ton quicker! My writing time is often limited, so I have a keen sense of urgency when I sit down to my keyboard.

I am total non-chronological writer, so I sit down the get the scenes out from my head, and let the story grow like that. It can be incredibly frustrating because it’s so obviously out of my control. But if I don’t panic, relax and trust the process: it’s fantastic! I love the stories that come, and I love being a part of writing them.

And I’m super grateful to the Master Writer for letting me join in on the process

Thank you very much for joining me today, Elizabeth, and all the best for your series launch : )

E. Kaiser Writes credits her nearly nomadic childhood for the vast reach of her fictional worlds; she has lived (and gotten to known the locals) in the Rocky Mtns, the Smoky Mtns, the plains, the deep forest, the searing Texas summer and frozen Minnesota north.

 She wears many hats: writer and editor of ad copy, web copy, office correspondence & fiction; a cowgirl, animal trainer, seamstress, jeweler, artist and… authoress!

You can find her on her website, Twitter, Pinterest, and her books at Amazon and Goodreads.