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Book Spotlight: A Star-Reckoner’s Lot

A Star-Reckoner's Lot cover

 

Blurb

For some, loss merely deprives. For others, it consumes.

Ashtadukht is a star-reckoner. The worst there’s ever been. Witness her treacherous journey through Iranian legends and ancient history.

Only a brave few storytellers still relate cautionary glimpses into the life of Ashtadukht, a woman who commanded the might of the constellations—if only just, and often unpredictably. They’ll stir the imagination with tales of her path to retribution. How, fraught with bereavement and a dogged illness, she criss-crossed Sassanian Iran in pursuit of creatures now believed mythical. Then, in hushed tones, what she wrought on that path.

 

Praise for A Star-Reckoner’s Lot

 

“I think it has a few excellent twists that will leave every reader surprised. Personally, having read fantasy for more than 20 years, I welcomed what sets this book apart from typical fantasy” – Author Daniel E. Olesen

 

“Without a doubt, A Star-Reckoner’s Lot is a perfect read for fans of combat and adventure. The fight scenes are realistic, and the surprises Ashtandukht meets on her way would satisfy every adventure’s enthusiast.” – Patrisya M.

 

Excerpt

Ashtadukht was waiting patiently, one hand fiddling with her sleeve while she watched the exchange from afar. She felt relieved to no longer hoard anger like some sort of philosophical dragon despoiling hamlets and bringing home rage and fury to pad its halls. But she also felt like she’d been a dragon. It’s one thing to punish a person; it’s an entirely different affair to punish a person you care for.

She put on a stern face and folded her arms when they approached, careful to keep her doubts to herself. “Well?”

“Waray says there is a city nearby,” said Tirdad.

“Oh?” Ashtadukht turned a pointedly unsympathetic stare on the half-div. “Seems like a lie.”

“Already asserted your dominance,” Waray grumbled, averting her gaze. “Don’t have to be mean.”

“There aren’t any cities nearby,” Ashtadukht rebuffed. “Not being gullible isn’t the same as being mean.” Still, Waray was right: she’d made her point, and anything further was needless cruelty.

She softened her delivery considerably and decided to indulge the half-div. “So explain how you supposedly happened upon a city all the way out here?”

“The stars?” Waray ventured uncertainly. She canted her head and smacked her lips, which were tinged with blood. “Maybe. There was this šo-miffed bird. It was pecking me, and I was trying to talk things out. Civilly, I think. Had no business being home when it was anyway. Should’ve been out.”

“Waray,” said Ashtadukht. “Get to the point.”

“. . .”

“Waray.”

“I won.”

“And the city?”

“Oh, I found that šo-cheery place yesterday.” Waray shivered. “Felt like—wait. Not that. Šo-eerie. That. The walls were too long. Like they wanted to stop growing but the taskmaster wouldn’t have it. They kept going, and I couldn’t, I couldn’t—” She flexed her hands. “I couldn’t catch up. Everything just kept increasing, and it was too much. Like trying to snatch the air all at once when you can’t even get a fistful. It was too much.”

While neither cousin realized she was describing an anxiety attack, they did get the vague idea from her body language and pitch that the half-div had been genuinely unsettled by whatever she’d come across, city or no city.

“Where’s this place?” asked Ashtadukht.

“Around.”

“Take us there.”

“Maybe not?” Waray asked hopefully. “Maybe somewhere nice?”

“Your fault,” said Tirdad, all too familiar with what would happen next. “You should not have stirred her curiosity. Just do as she says.”

Waray surrendered with the type of defeated sigh a guide would give when well-meaning but plainly stupid adventurers insist on visiting the trap-ridden tombs of The One Most Slithered, or some other vengeful deity. “You’ll be chopped in half,” she warned, and plodded away.

She conducted them around the foot of the ridge they’d been following and into a clearing that was decidedly not a city. She came to a halt as abruptly as if she’d walked into a wall. “But.”

“Is this your city?” asked Tirdad.

Waray shook her head, at an utter loss for words.

“The Rostam Inscription,” Ashtadukht observed somewhat icily. She had a feeling Waray was up to something. “Well, inscriptions. Yeah, it’s a necropolis, but it isn’t very city-like. I thought we were farther away.”

Unlike Ashtadukht, who had visited this site twice already, and wouldn’t have appreciated it at this point in her life regardless, Tirdad awed at the monument.

Four giant inset crosses had been carved into the rock face by an empire that predated his by centuries unknown—and obscured in the time since; nevertheless, an empire that had surely laid the groundwork for the age-old nation he served. So impressive were the carvings that they appeared to Tirdad as if they’d been pressed into the stone by the stamp seal of Ohrmazd himself, which had applied embossed rock reliefs depicting kings of yore, and an entrance to a tomb too high for men to reach where those very kings were laid to rest.

Below those reliefs were more recent carvings, contemporary inscriptions that portrayed the investiture of Kings of Kings and their entourage. Some displayed triumphs over foreign powers, while others stressed the right to rule as sanctified by various divinities.

He strolled over to the rock face and ran his fingers admiringly over the nearest such relief.

“It’s all too horizontal,” Waray pondered aloud. She cocked her head and leaned to the side. “Too horizontal.”

Ashtadukht was in the process of asking what exactly Waray was getting at when the half-div swept her arm at an angle to designate what she believed to be the correct alignment, and in doing so sheared the rock relief as if her scrutiny were slicing through fabric.

The entire ridge fell away and heaped like a discarded dress around the foot of a vast wall that stretched to either side as far as the eye could see. Only patches of gypsum plaster remained, exposing the baked bricks at the core of the wall to the elements—where the bricks hadn’t left vacancies. In short, it was in disrepair.

Instead of the straight-facing gate used in many cities, the fortifications from one side reached around the other to create a funnel where invading forces could be neatly channeled into a lane. Ashtadukht nodded to herself. She wasn’t particularly military-minded, but living with a prominent general had imparted some small appreciation for these things.

“Told you so,” Waray said uneasily. She lowered her voice to a whisper and turned away from her victory. “Told you so.”

“What just happened?” asked Tirdad.

“If I were to venture a guess, Waray dispersed a powerful illusion with a mere wave of her hand,” Ashtadukht replied. “Every bit as impressive as it sounds.”

“And the Rostam Inscription?” Tirdad asked almost mournfully.

“Probably safe and sound. My initial reaction was that we’d lost our bearings, but the real thing should be farther out.”

“Good,” said Tirdad, thick with relief. “Good. Makes you wonder how many people have stumbled upon this pretender and thought they were standing in front of a national monument.”

Waray leered at the two of them, annoyed by how easily they’d written off her word, and were now going on like she hadn’t been right all along.

“There’s a šo-welcoming city here,” she hissed, though she was now beginning to wish she had been wrong. Something about her first visit had unsettled her greatly: something that was strumming her mind at this very moment. She tried to put it into words, and it came out as a muttered, “Welcoming.”

She frowned. She had not fumbled the word, yet it was nevertheless off-putting. As far as she was concerned, cities should not be welcoming. They should not wave you in. And they most definitely should not strum. “The wall,” she rambled. “Like a line of šo-desperate cheese. ‘Come in, come in,’ it’s saying. ‘Take a load off. Have a drink. The rams are out and rutting, but they’ll be back for dinner. You’ll stay, won’t you?’ And there’s a clap of horns in the distance. And the cheese is peering at you like a šo-lonely wheel. But you have to go because you’ve got a thing tomorrow. A thing. That’s what you say.”

Waray gave a brisk nod, certain she’d gotten the point across in clear terms.

Ashtadukht paid her no heed. She’d toned the half-div out the instant she’d started talking from the perspective of a wall.

“Let’s investigate,” she said.

 

A Star-Reckoner’s Lot releases on October 2nd, 2016.

Grab it now on: Amazon | Kobo

 

About the Author

Darrel DrakeDarrell Drake has published four books, with A Star-Reckoner’s Lot being the latest. He often finds himself inspired by his research to take on new hobbies. Birdwatching, archery, stargazing, and a heightened interest in history have all become a welcome part of his life thanks to this habit.

 

Get in touch on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Reddit, and Goodreads.

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Guest Post by Zac Tyson

Today, I have a very special treat for you, for a very special reason. My lovely writerly friend, Zac, is launching his blog today! By way of celebrating (and getting the word out, because, he’s freaking awesome!), I have invited him to write a very special guest post for us, about his work-in-progress, These The Restorers. (Isn’t that a beautiful title? I’m in love with it! ❤ )
Before I lose all my dignity by openly fangirling, I’m going to turn it over to you, Zac! 😉

* * * * *

“Gray. All is gray. Never anything more. We are cursed for eternity.”

These are the opening lines of my YA epic fantasy, THESE THE RESTORERS. A story of hope amidst grief, compassion amidst cruelty, grace amidst condemnation, determination amidst indecisiveness.

A lot goes into this story, and even though its unfinished, it’s deep. I’ve struggled on how to tie it down to one guest post (that wasn’t novel-length). So I’m going to cover TTR (which is how we will refer it from here on out) in three points: Characters, Plot, and Backstory.

BACKSTORY: In the land of Tierlin, color is vital to life. Called Tones, every color (red, blue, green, yellow, black, and white) works together in harmony to keep balance in the land. Every generation, one person is elected as representative for each Tone. Each representative claims a seat in the Gathering Chamber.

One select generation of representatives were constantly at odds with each other, thus causing the Tones to affectively keep balance. Eventually, the representatives disbanded the Gathering Chamber, breaking off into their own separate kingdoms to rule over.

The Tones retreated with their representatives, leaving parts of Tierlin colorless and without balance. These places became known as the Graylands. The inhabitants of the Graylands lost color in their vision and true life within their souls. Each separate kingdom desired the most power, to claim all the Tones for themselves; wars were started. Soldiers were made.

The armies often used the Graylands for their battlegrounds. Years passed by. The wars would never end, it seemed. The Tones would never reunite, and balance would never be restored in Tierlin.

PLOT: A Graylands inhabitant, Kaelan Talshear, has watched the Tone Kingdoms war her whole life. She’s seen too much death, destruction, brutality. All she wants is peace. She’s heard stories of times past when the Tones worked together in harmony. She longs to see color, to have purpose in her life.

When two warring kingdoms rip her home to pieces, Kaelan decides she’s had enough. She and her brother Arec set off on an impossible quest: to reunite the Tones and restore balance to Tierlin.

The plot thus far has been so fun for me. I’m constantly thinking up new ideas and dialogue. It might be the most fun I’ve had crafting a story! There’s one particular plot point I know future readers will hate me for, but…ahh…I delight in it. wrings hands together despicably

CHARACTERS: This is my favorite part! I love discussing my wonderfully frustrating characters.

There’s five main characters in TTR: Kaelan, Arec, Teague, Sohl, and Jensen.

Kaelan, from which TTR is told, is fierce and unexperienced, with a heart that longs for more than just survival. She aches for what her ancestors had–harmony, happiness, color. She knows her quest to restore balance in Tierlin is impossible, but that drives her all the more. She’s not one to be told what she can or can’t do.

Throughout TTR, she learns that the Tone Kingdoms are all not what they seem. She grows and matures in her quest, she learns, she hurts, she rejoices. She succeeds, she fails…but through it all, she learns what love and compassion truly are.

Arec is Kaelan’s older brother. He’s witty, charming, sensitive, and protective. Despite how close he and his sister are, he learns much about her he didn’t know. His heart is broken to see the war and destruction from the Tone Kingdoms. He longs just as much as Kaelan to see balance restored.

Teague is the daughter of the baron of Kingdom White. A quiet book lover who’s never stepped foot outside of her kingdom, she longs for the adventures she reads about. When she meets Kaelan and Arec, she begs her father to join them. Their quest is what she’s been seeking. But when her father calls her foolish and rejects her wishes, she realizes sometimes you must take matters into your own hands. In TTR, Teague learns what bravery, courage, and adventure truly are.

Sohl is an old friend of Arec’s. He left the Graylands years ago to hunt down the people who took him from his family in hopes to find them. He’s silent, with a decent sense of humor, courteous, but a little rough around the edges. He’d rather speak with his sword than his tongue. He and Kaelan aren’t too sure about each other when they first meet, but something (something heated and touching) eventually develops between them.

Jensen might just be my favorite character. He’s an 11-year-old orphaned street thief from Kingdom Yellow who knows his way around a knife. When he’s first introduced into the story, he’s untrustworthy, mischievous, and closed, but still has the whimsical spirit of a child. In TTR, he learns what trust and compassion are.

So there you have it! Everything you can know about TTR without revealing the whole story! 😉 I hope that one day, when this story comes to light, you’ll give it a chance!

Happy reading, booknerds!

* * * * *

image

Zac Tyson is a YA and MG writer of speculative fiction. An avid reader and traveler of worlds, he spends most of his time talking to imaginary people, riding his pet dragons, obsessing over all things weird, and adventuring into the unknown. He also loves peanut butter and thinks he’s still a kid.

* * * * *

Yep, I’m amazed!! That was my first time hearing about it too, and wow, can we just take a moment to appreciate how amazing this is??? I don’t know about you, but I am so excited for this story!! 

Thank you, Zac!  

Farewell, 2015; Welcome, 2016!

I can’t believe it’s been 2016 for over two weeks now! I guess time flies when you’re old… 😉 Anyway, I wanted to give you all a brief recap of 2015, and share some goals for 2016. I’m going to warn you, there will be many lists. That’s just how my mind works. Now let’s start with some 2015 stats:

  • I read fifty-eight books
  • I wrote over 25,000 words (I know that may not seem like a lot, especially to you 50,000-words-a-month writers, but it’s more than I’ve ever done before)
  • I reviewed fourteen books
  • I wrote forty-three blog posts
  • I gained sixty-three new followers
  • I sent out two newsletters

Alright, now that’s out of the way, on to the more fun stuff!

Of all the books I read, my favorite was probably, hmm… Ok, never mind. Let’s go with the top five.

  • Thy Kingdom Come, by Daniel Adorno
  • Holding the Future Hostage, by Tialla Rising
  • Richard III, by William Shakespeare
  • But Who Would Be Dumb Enough to Even Try It, by Enclave Publishing authors
  • The Agony and the Ecstasy, by Irving Stone

These were all great books and I highly recommend them! (Except maybe The Agony and the Ecstasy, unless you’re a mature reader and really into Michelangelo).

A few other highlights of 2015:

  • I was accepted to my top colleges. Now for the decision-making…
  • I survived a five-day backpacking trip through the mountains, which included hiking half the night down a steep trail in the pitch black, and clambering down wet, slippery rock beside a roaring gorge. Yeah, not repeating that experience.
  • I also survived nine days of intense, college-level honors classes, studying the Socratic method.
  • I participated in two NaNo Camps and the November NaNoWriMo.
  • On a less impressive note, I got Twitter. Yay; follow me! 😀

Looking ahead to 2016: 

Well, as you may have guessed, I did not finish the first draft of Something More in 2015, so that will be my top priority for early 2016. As soon as I’ve accomplished that, I will commence work on the first draft of Book Two. I’d ultimately like to have the entire trilogy drafted by the end of this year. We’ll see how that goes…

I will also be graduating from homeschool in the spring, and attending college this fall.
* cue hysterical screaming *
On a more serious note, this will be a huge change for me, so I could really use any prayers you send my way.

 

I’ll also be sending out a newsletter soon, recapping 2015 in more detail, and giving a few more exciting peeks into what I have planned for 2016 (including an awesome collage of Something More inspired pictures), so if you haven’t signed up for it yet, now would be the time. I will also be hosting a giveaway (most likely an Amazon gift card) when I reach 25 newsletter subscribers, so tell your friends too.

 

Get exclusive content and exciting opportunities when you sign up for my newsletter!

Speculative Fiction

Faith & Fantasy Alliance

by Tosca Lee

The inherent “what if” at the heart of any story (What if a promising lawyer took a job with a law firm—only to learn it was run by the mob?) ventures beyond the everyday plausible with speculative fiction. What if the rapture happened to passengers riding on a commercial airplane? (Left Behind) What if a modern-day woman touched a magic stone and went back in time to 18th Century Scotland? (Outlander) What if a vampire had an existential crisis? (Interview With the Vampire).

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Black Friday Book Sale

I hope you all enjoyed Narina’s post. Well, I’m back, with an exciting post about BOOK SALES!!! 😀

ICB_FBAd.jpg
Like most other bookworms, great books make their way onto my “things I’m thankful for” list every year. It’s hard to choose favorites, but I went ahead and picked five books I read in 2015 and am thankful for.

  1. Thy Kingdom Come, by Daniel Adorno is a great post-apocalyptic novel, with some really deep insights (Check out my review)
  2. Holding the Future Hostage,  by Tialla Rising was another great read (Check out my review)
  3. But Who Would Be Dumb Enough To Even Try It, by several Enclave Publishing authors was a fantastic story by some fantastic writers!
  4. The Betrayal, by Douglas Bond is a great novel on the life of John Calvin (Check out my review)
  5. And finally, Ivanhoe, by Sir Walter Scott. This classic took me right back to medieval England, into the action and intrigue.

I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to another great year of reading! Speaking of more reading, here’s one more thing to be grateful for. Books on sale! In honor of Thanksgiving and Black Friday, a group of independent Christian authors banded together to offer over seventy discounted books on Nov 27-30. There’s literally something for everyone.
Every single book listed on Indie Christian Books is on sale in one or more ways. Find discounted paperbacks, dozens of books offered with free shipping, $0.99 ebooks, package deals and more. Even if you have a budget of $0, new reading material awaits you.
Don’t know what to pick? The fearless Indie Christian Books team created a quiz that will generate a book list perfect for you! Check it out!
Book Quiz
What awesome reads of 2015 are you grateful for? What books are you looking forward to reading in 2016?

A note on the Ebooks Only page. All books are listed as “Sold Out.” This only refers to paperback copies of these titles. Please click onto the product pages to find descriptions and links to discounted or free ebooks.
Acknowledgements: Thanks to Leah E. Good for her work organizing this sale, Gloria Repp for completing the time consuming job of uploading book info to the sale website, and Hannah Mills for her fantastic design work on the website graphics. Hannah can be contacted at hmills(at)omorecollege(dot)edu for more information about her design services.

NaNoWriMo Writing Update #1, by Narina

Hello! Let me introduce myself! I’m Narina, one of Lekhaka’s Characters. (You would know her as Lena, I believe). I have the pleasure of being here instead of Lekhaka, since she is currently suffering from some disease called NaNoWriMo – I guess it’s something authors get…

Anyway, she asked me to write this blog post for her to let everyone know that she is still alive. No, wait. I was supposed to tell you how her writing is going. That was it!

She has just started week four of this NaNoWriMo thing (I think it stands for National Novel Writing Month, or something like that. It still sounds like an illness to me…). She is a little behind, having written only 5578 words so far this month, but she’s hoping to get a lot of writing in during her Thanksgiving break from school. She’s still less than a quarter done with the first book in her trilogy, Something More, but if she writes hard instead of watching The Beverly Hillbillies during the last week and a half of November, she may still finish this year. (I don’t think I was supposed to mention The Beverly Hillbillies. Hopefully she doesn’t see this… 😉 ).

As to her mental state, I’m not sure she’ll ever fully recover. She spends several hours a day with that glassy-eyed stare, mumbling to herself and making weird faces. Sometimes she’ll get up suddenly and pace back and forth, or she might wave her hands about and have conversations with herself while she types. I try to avoid her at times like that… Even when she’s going about her normal activities, she’ll sometimes stop dead and get that zoned-out look. And, without fail, she’ll eventually run upstairs and begin frantically typing. I declare, I don’t know what her problem is!

We do have cozy talks sometimes, when her mental state seems more stable. She’ll ask me to describe something I’ve seen in Kharsedon, or beg me to tell her some of the history. Sometimes she reads me what she’s written and I’ll help her change the things that aren’t quite right. We try to avoid editing, though, until she’s gotten the whole thing written. I’ll tell you one thing, though: I’m starting to fall in love with this book almost as much as she is!

 

 About the Author: 
 Narina is a native of Kharsedon. A time traveller and visitor of many different worlds, she chose to make Artha (earth) her new home. She provides information for Lena Karynn Tesla, the designated Lekhaka, or Scribe, who is writing the history of her world. Her job (and hobby) involves visiting other worlds and interviewing the characters featured in their books. She currently lives with Lekhaka full-time, only making quick trips to other worlds and different times on the weekends.

Contact her at character.narina [at] gmail [dot] com

Reviews: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan, and Unleashed by Jennifer Hartz

Two reviews! Hooray for summer reading time!! 😀

* * * * * * *

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1)The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


The Lightning Thief

Percy Jackson is a good kid, but he can’t seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. And lately, being away at boarding school is only getting worse-Percy could have sworn his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to kill him. When Percy’s mom finds out, she knows it’s time that he knew the truth about where he came from, and that he go to the one place he’ll be safe. She sends Percy to Camp Half Blood, a summer camp for demigods (on Long Island), where he learns that the father he never knew is Poseidon, God of the Sea. Soon a mystery unfolds and together with his friends — one a satyr and the other the demigod daughter of Athena — Percy sets out on a quest across the United States to reach the gates of the Underworld (located in a recording studio in Hollywood) and prevent a catastrophic war between the gods.

Greek mythology? YES PLEASE!!!

Characters

They were awesome! Percy is so sarcastic, I love it! And I really liked how the children of each of the gods had unique personalities specific to that god.

Plot

The plot flowed nicely. It was fast-paced, with never a dull moment. I kept waiting for some plot points to be resolved, though, and they never were, which was frustrating. But it is a series, so I guess I’ll have to read the rest of them!

Overall thoughts

I absolutely adore Greek mythology, so this was fabulous! There was quite a bit of explaining of things, that I thought was unnecessary, but it is written for younger kids (who aren’t necessarily mythology addicts), so that’s understandable. I can’t wait to read the rest of this series!

Would I recommend it? Oh, yes!
Would I let my kids read it? Yes
Would I read the other books in the series? Yes!

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Visit the author

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Unleashed (Heroes of the Horde #1)Unleashed by Jennifer Hartz

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Unleashed

Six mismatched students at Deacon Proprietary are about to discover the demonic legend of their school’s origin is actually true. Not only have they obtained amazing powers, but they’ve also unleashed the demonic Horde. Now it’s up to these six high school freshmen to stop the Horde before its evil spreads throughout the school and beyond.
(Blurb from Goodreads)

Unleashed was an interesting book about kids who acquired super powers with which to fight demons.

Characters

The characters were pretty good. I liked that they were all unique, and not exactly the same. Unfortunately, they were not very round characters.

Plot

The plot did not flow well. Each chapter was from a different character’s perspective (in first person, which I found jarring), and even within the chapter the plot jumped.

Overall thoughts

The dating. Ugh. I mean really, in ninth grade? Also, it was riddled with typos. Other than that, it was ok.

Would I recommend it? No
Would I let my kids read it? I would let them, if they wanted to, once they were in high school
Would I read the other books in the series? Maybe

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.

Visit the author

View all my reviews on Goodreads
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