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Books, reviews

Book Review: Cruel Beauty/Crimson Bound

cruel-beauty-smlReview: Cruel Beauty and Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge

Book Genre: Fairy tale retellings

Romance Heat Level: Bell pepper/YA romance

I’m doing a bit of a different kind of review this month, trying to incorporate two books into one review while focusing on one narrow aspect of the reading experience: prologues. I set out planning to review only Crimson Bound this month, a book marketed as a Little Red Riding Hood retelling (which it really wasn’t). The trouble was, I ended up not enjoying the book, and I was frustrated, because I really didn’t want to write a negative review. I was even more frustrated because the writing wasn’t bad–I even enjoyed the descriptive sentences and language. The trouble for me was the story structure and lack of action.

After reading some reviews I learned that many people liked Ms. Hodge’s first book, Cruel Beauty, her Beauty and the Beast retelling, better. I found that this was the case for me, as well. I’m going to attempt to identify why in my review.

As a writer, you receive lots of advice–advice from friends, beta readers, editors, potential agents, random internet people, books about writing, workshops about writing. In my view, one of my tasks as a writer is to sort through that advice and pluck away what is useful to me and cast aside what is not.crimson-bound-sml

Something you often hear from potential agents is to AVOID PROLOGUES. This used to bother me for a few reasons. First– of course, many, many published books have prologues. Some even have prologues that work! Second, it seemed oddly punitive to reject a book simply because it has a prologue.

However, in a lot of cases, it turns out that prologue is a lazy way to deliver backstory that would be better unpacked into the actual story, and the prologue only delays a reader from getting to what they really want when they open a book: the inciting incident of the real story.

The contrast between Cruel Beauty and Crimson Bound provides a perfect example of why to avoid prologues.

Cruel Beauty did not have a prologue. Crimson Bound did. Cruel Beauty‘s storyline took off right from the first word, setting up the world and the background that was vital to the story, launching me into a narrative with a main character who had clear motivations and goals that I could easily identify (to marry and kill the Demon Prince who has held her world hostage for centuries). Though I actually enjoyed Crimson Bound‘s prologue– it was like reading a fairytale– it was a “telling” rather than a “showing.” (Another bit of writing advice you hear all the time is “show don’t tell”).

The more I read in Crimson Bound, the more I realized that the events covered in the prologue represented what I would call “the meat of the story.” Those events set up everything about the lead’s motivations. There was also a ton of action that was glossed over in the prologue, action that would have made for a very engaging story had it been unpacked into the story present, action that the rest of the book lacked. The main storyline of Crimson Bound was bogged down; it did not have many exciting action scenes where progress was made in the plotline. I honestly feel that this book needed a stronger structural edit and a reworking of the scene structure to focus on satisfying plot action, and that ultimately, it should have been the second book in a series. Everything covered in the prologue needed to be fully unpacked into its own book in order for me to care about the main character and her motivations. As it was, those vital aspects of the story were missing, and so I proceeded into the book but could not engage with it.

Cruel Beauty is the stronger story, structure-wise. It maintains its focus through the entire story-arc. Its backstory is delicately woven into the frontstory. Crimson Bound had a lot of potential, but needed better developmental editing.

Cruel Beauty gets 4 stars. star-157086star-157086star-157086star-157086

Crimson Bound gets 2.5 stars.star-157086star-157086

 

 

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Goals

Goals: July 2018

I think I did a little better this month in keeping on track with my goals. I guess I’ll find out as I do my customary review here.

In June my goals were:

Finish TSS Revision.

Check, although what really happened was that I got to the ending of the book and realized the concluding chapters needed a full rewrite. So that rewrite will be on my July goals list.

Final TEO revision before copyedits/proofing.

Check! I finished this revision by the skin of my teeth yesterday. After a few more tweaks it will go to the hawk-eyed proofreader for a final review. I am estimating that it may be ready to be published on August 1–but that date is not set in stone just yet.

eMarketing: email newsletter 

Check! I wrote my first update/newsletter in which I revealed The Eighth Octave’s cover and began a River Running giveaway. In general, those who subscribe to the newsletter will get to see future cover reveals and giveaways first! Want to subscribe to my email list? Click here!

Book Review: Outlander 

Check! You can read my review of a romance giant here.

Blog Post

Check! I got clever and combined my blog post with my newsletter. If you missed the update and the cover reveal for The Eighth Octave, you can see it here.

 

Here are my goals for July:

  1. Final proofs and formatting for The Eighth Octave. My tentative pub date is 8/1!
  2. Start Indigo Elements Book Two Wind Winging revision. This is the next book after River Running, with a new hero and heroine!
  3. Finish The Seventh Symphony conclusion rewrite. I have about 4 chapters that need to be rewritten.
  4. Book Review: Cruel Beauty and Crimson Bound, by Rosamund Hodge
  5. Blog Post: Probably something to do with The Eighth Octave
  6. Start promoting The Eighth Octave!
Blog Post, covers

In Which: A Cover is Revealed and a Giveaway is Given

Hello, romantic fantasy readers!

It’s long past time for my very first newsletter, but I’m finally getting to it. I’ve been puttering around in the worlds I’ve been creating for quite a while now, and it’s sometimes hard to extract myself.

RRfinalMASTER11.23.18 ebookBut extraction is complete for the moment, and I’ll celebrate with a giveaway of the very first book I’ve released.

If you follow my webpage, follow me on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter (see bottom of the post), your name will be entered into a pool of names to win a free digital copy of my latest release, River Running, which details the confusion and chaos of a post war world in which Jackson Coal, Leveler rebel, must return to his plantation and care for a new ward he had neither expected nor wanted. When outside pressures threaten his ward’s security–and that of his new, attractive governess–Jackson must move heaven and earth to safeguard them. Meanwhile, a cursed mark on his body numbers his days, and time is ticking far too rapidly…

If you read and enjoy River Running, please do leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads to help spread the word about this book and to let others enjoy the read as well!

Wasn’t that fun? Okay, onward.

The Eighth Octave has been my most recent baby; it’s the first in my Solmari Suite series (a completely different series from the Indigo Elements series to which River Running belongs)–a collection of books centered on a 18th-century-style world where all music creates magic, and where intrigue and glitz and glamour abound amid the romances of the day. I hope you’ll love it as much as I do.

Would you like to see the cover? Of course you would; it’s amazing. I’ve been sprucing up this cover for a while now, and I’m totally in love with it. Let me know what you think!

The Eighth Octave Front Only

Or even (drumroll please)…

TEO wrap finalmaster

The Eighth Octave is coming out a little later this summer (July or August?), after which I hope you’ll purchase your own copy and read it from cover to cover. You can add it right now to your “want to read” list on GoodReads to help generate buzz.

Other than the whirlwind of writing, editing, blog posts, reviews, and normal–you know–life that doesn’t involve writing (a day job! What is this nefarious thing?), I’ve been keeping myself awake with coffee and chocolate and trying to meet the demands of my busy schedule.

Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter (email me at edenreignwrites [at] gmail [dot] com to do so) for chances at prizes and giveaways, and to stay up-to-date with my various projects! Also, feel free to follow me. I always enjoy interacting with my readers!

Twitter: @authoredenreign
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authoredenreign
Website: https://edenreignwrites.wordpress.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/edenreignwrites

Books, reviews

Book Review: Outlander

OutlanderReview: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Book Genre: Time Travel Historical Drama

Romance Heat Level: Cayenne.

I admit, I ignored Outlander for quite a while because I don’t really care for time-travel stories, and the entire premise of Outlander is… time-travel. Hooray. But two or three of my persistent friends of the readerly persuasion insisted that the book was good and that I should at least give it a chance. Hence, here I am, review in hand.

18th-century Scotland is now a place I want to visit, thanks to Diana Gabaldon. I was impressed with the detail and extensive research evident in her writing. She illustrated her work with careful nuances shown in a hundred different ways with her tales of Scottish lore and tradition, her lists of various medicinal herbs in use before modern medicine, and her vividly portrayed historic landscapes. I find that when an author takes the trouble to incorporate research into story form, the book gets exponentially better in only few simple phrases. In other words: Know what you’re talking about. Ms. Gabaldon appears to know what she is talking about.

Jamie
Actor Sam Heughan as Jaime Fraser

Enter Jaime Fraser. I’m a social media bot, so I’d have been blind not to notice Sam Heughan’s charming grin, adorable red wig, and muscular musculature plastered all over Starz’ advertisements. Even more than I enjoyed watching the actor in his kilts on Facebook, though, I relished Gabaldon’s spinning of Jaime’s character across the pages of Outlander. The author somehow managed to strike that difficult balance among rough-and-tumble rebel-with-a-cause, tortured-and-angsty hero-with-a-past, and charming-kind-and-handsome man we all dream of.

Ms. Gabaldon introduced a love triangle among Frank Randall, Claire Randall, and Jaime Fraser, and I’m not sure I’m altogether satisfied with the play-out of that particular difficulty. I see the reasoning behind it, I think: it served as a very necessary “magnet” to pull Claire back to her own time and place in history, offering a pretty rock-solid reason to return to the 1900’s. But—SPOILER ALERT—once Claire made the decision to remain with Jaime and put Frank behind her, Frank disappeared from the narrative almost completely.

Frank Randall
Actor Tobias Menzies as Frank Randall

Considering Frank’s much greater time spent with Claire, no matter any discussion of whether he or Jaime was her true love, I wanted to see more emotional struggle after Claire’s decision to remain in the 1700’s. Don’t get me wrong; I’m Team Jaime all the way, but I wanted the agony, and the ecstasy of defeating the agony to be much greater. As it was, I felt that Frank could have hit the cutting floor in edits, and Claire (and I) would scarcely have missed him.

My only other quibble with the story was the melodramatic ending that centered around two threatened acts of sexual violence, which—in this beautifully written historical drama—seemed to be over the top (this is not Game of Thrones, just so we’re clear). It distracted me from the story and the historical setting. While it certainly made for high stakes, it felt forced to me, not to mention unpleasant to read.

Overall, I discovered that I liked Outlander-the-beginning more than I liked Outlander-the-ending, but I enjoyed the book as a whole and will at least consider reading the others in the series. Or maybe I’ll just sign up for the Starz app and enjoy watching Sam Heughan in the role.

star-157086star-157086Three stars for this one. star-157086