The Publishing Industry is Subjective

If you are a writer who’s ever pitched a novel, or simply googled insight into the publishing industry, chances are you’ve heard this before.

I know I’ve heard it. I’ve experienced it. I’ve even accepted it. But it wasn’t until this past week I truly understood it. The following experience gave me a different view on those words.

About a month ago, I was given the opportunity to judge the first round of a writing contest. It was a simple “answer these questions, see if you qualify, and you can judge” sort of thing, but I was still looking forward to it. I couldn’t wait to see what the contest process was like from the other side! I opened the entries with excitement, read through them, made notes, and instantly attached to a certain story.  A week later I reread my samples, focusing on the technicalities and quality of writing. I carefully considered, tried to provide helpful feedback, and sent my judged files back to the contest coordinator with a sense of satisfaction. My judgments were fair. Every score I gave could be justified (at least by me!).

But here’s the crazy thing-

I didn’t give my favorite story the highest score.

Why? Because technically, it wasn’t the best. The highest scoring story flowed better. The sample was flawless. There were no mistakes, no awkward phrasing, and no grammatical errors (that I picked up on). It was simply  well written.

However, something about the second ranking sample spoke to me. The characters grabbed me, and the story drew me in. I wanted to read it.

What’s really puzzling is if I were to summarize the story lines, the highest ranking book had a better plot. More happened. It moved at a quick pace. But there was something about the second place book I loved. I don’t know what it was. I can’t explain it. It simply connected with me.

As I ponder this experience  I’m blasted with an understanding I thought I previously grasped, but obviously didn’t.

The love of a book is subjective.859697

My judging experience opened
my eyes to a new side of things. I’ll probably need to reread this post in the future to remind myself, but I finally understand. If  I were an agent, I wouldn’t have requested a full for an arguably well written book, simply because it didn’t speak to me.

This taught me how important it is to find people who connect with your work.  If my writing is good, and I constantly strive to improve my craft, eventually I will find the right people to help me get my book out there. A big part of success is commitment.

At least, that’s what I tell myself. jessica grace kelleyt signature

Until then, I’ll keep writing

 

 

 

Advertisements

Book Review! Gambit by C.L Denault

 

gambit-website-cover

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.

pretty-little-liars-hanna-love-it

 

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!

anigif_optimized-22814-1432703871-7

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!

cooltext157564296698518imagesVXKC698W

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

 

 

 

Soulless by Ismael Manzano

 

lastcover1

There’s a new author out in the paranormal genre world named Ismael Manzano, and I have to say, he has some pretty cool ideas.

His debut novel, Soulless, is built around the concept of soul brokering, which is exactly what it sounds like, people buying and selling their souls.

Pretty cool, right?

When Soulless was kindly given to me by Fantasy Works Publishing, I was pretty interested even though this isn’t my normal read. Plus it’s a free book, and I like books.

In fact, I loooovvvve books.

bookshelf fuul

When I fist started reading it, I wasn’t immediately hooked. Not because of the story itself, but because of me. I am fickle girl, and if there isn’t a sexy guy in the first ten pages or someone doesn’t die, I tend to want more. I kept reading though, because the premise of this book is so unique. A world where souls are bought and sold is such a catchy concept, and Ismael is obviously talented, so I wanted to see where the story would take me.

Ladies and gentleman, this book took me places.

Murder!

tumblr_inline_ns66oiHgvG1qkug0j_500
Obviously, this is a joke. Real people dying is sad!

The first murder scene was completely out of nowhere (in the good sort of way) and really got the story going. Once this book turned on it’s engine, I buckled myself in and enjoyed the ride.

 

 

 

This book was different, not cliche in the least, and I liked that about it. However, there were a few things I missed that are cliche ( after all, things become cliche for a reason!). I didn’t like the lack of romance and the slight dryness of the main character. In many ways I loved reading a book from an anti-BS heroine who was tough, sharp and independent. I just think she needed one more little layer. Soulless took a few chapters to really get started, but that is common in complex books, specifically series. The originality and hilarious puns made up for it. Plus, there were some really quality descriptions.

“Darkness was descending over the east, turning the taller buildings into mammoth sundials, the shadows stretching taunt as the sun made its sleepy climb down the ladder of the western horizon.”

See what I mean? Quality!

The story builds, and by the end I’d read some really interesting scenes that will stick with me.

This book  will appeal to male and female audiences,  something I think the industry needs more of.  That was a big plus for me. I’d give this book 3.75 stars, but  I round, so four stars for Soulless!

I’d recommend this book to reader who like mystery and action. Grab your copy here!

And if you read it, don’t forget to write your own review. Ismael is a break out author, and reviews are the second best way to support them! Buying their book is a close first!

 

 

House of Kings

Come to me, you beautiful book!

house of kings

 

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?

Damn-hot-fanning-

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!

 

Review of A Grimm Curse

Hello everyone, it’s been too long!

No really, it’s been too long. Shame on me. I got a little caught up with my own writing journey (check out my new book page for The Mercy Killers Here ) and I started a few new projects, built a website, it’s tax season…

You get the idea.

But you guys aren’t here to learn about me, you want to hear about BOOKS! I’ve got a fun one for you, a great YA fairy tale twist. I haven’t read a good fairy re-telling in while, so when this popped up on NetGalley I was excited.

tumblr_m6wb69IX871qczxoeo1_500_zps2105fefb
Really excited!

A Grimm Curse is a prequel that ties into the series Grimm Tales by Janna Jennings. It’s cute, original enough to be considered fresh, but stays close enough to it’s Grimm roots to still be considered a solid fairy tale retelling. The story is fun, the characters are relatable, and the cover is realistic with a little hint of magic.a grimm curse.jpg

I have yet to read the other books in this series, so the main characters in this book, Cynthia and Remi, are the only characters I am familiar with. My lack of familiarity with the series wasn’t a problem at all, this book can be read as a stand alone.

I love Cynthia. She is a loose retelling of Cinderella, except with ten times more spunk and a dash of imperfection. Remi is charming, and Janna Jennings did a great job of making the frog prince a believable character, even as a frog.

Overall this book is adorable with a bittersweet ending. How refreshing to read a YA book revolving around fairy tales that possesses such a different sort of end. The ending is right…it just isn’t one hundred percent happily ever after.

The only negative about this book is a few seemingly inconsistencies in the world and the big “reveal” about what the world really is. I won’t spoil it for you, but let’s say the world is a bit dreamy. While the concept was great, the pacing of the reveal is slightly off to me. There are no hints of the big reveal until half the book is finished, which made it a little sudden. It’s a small issue, but still one that stood out.

Overall I give this book four stars. If you are looking for a fun, enchanting read with just enough realistic humanity to keep your feet on the ground,  read this little tale. Thanks NetGalley for the review copy, and thanks Janna Jennings for writing it! I’d love to read the rest of the series too.  A Grimm Curse definitely hooked me! Grab your copy here!

cooltext157564296698518imagesVXKC698W