Feeling [Re]Inspired

Printers Row Lit FestSo, here’s what’s new. I’ve got a little book-a-palooza coming up in a couple weeks – the Printers Row Lit Fest. Sunday, June 11 (Day 2/2 of the event) from 2 – 6pm, I’ll be in a tent with a number of other members of the Chicago Writers Association (check out the Facebook event page here for more details on exactly where to find me!), hawking my Wilderhark Tales and Outlaws of Avalon series, and talking up the re-release of my first published novel, “Inspired”.

The re-launch date won’t hit ‘til next spring, but the rebooted cover art I commissioned is newly completed (give or take whatever last-minute tweaks I’ll need to make for printed-book purposes), and given the huge crowds Printers Row attracts,  it would just seem like too big a waste to not show off what I’ve got.

Besides, this is publishing. Teasing a book’s face almost a year before release is pretty much par for the course.

All that being said, who’s ready for an on-blog cover reveal RIGHT NOW?

Y’all are?

You’re su-u-ure?

Then feast

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your

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eyes

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Cover w Text 06.3, front

AAAaaaAAAaaaAAAaaahhh, is it not AMAAAAAZING? Could this author and muse pair look any more fantastic?! Enormous thanks to Gizelle Baluso (seriously, Gzel – ALL. THE. THANKS) for making it happen … and for working on the cover to the never-before-released sequel. #StayTuned

And now, a moment to refresh our memories of what “Inspired”s all about!

For a muse like Lucianíel, one story’s end is another’s beginning.

In the wake of his author’s sudden death, Luc takes ownership of her surviving creations—four fantastical characters with tales yet to be told—saving them from unwritten lives crumbling around them and giving them a second chance at a literary future.

Luc finds that chance in the unsuspecting mind of Annabelle Iole Gray, a quirky teen with her head in the clouds, nose in a book, and imagination ripe for a brilliant muse’s inspiration.

Or so he hopes.

Neither Luc nor Annabelle, however, realize all they’ve undertaken. Even with a to-write list including accounts of a shape-shifting cat creature, gentle knight-in-training, vigilante skater girl, and a mystery boy smothering in unspoken fear, the most remarkable saga created between author and muse just may turn out to be one stranger than fiction.

Their own.

See you again in two weeks, when I may or may not be ready with a recap of my first time selling at Printers Row. ^o^

A Tale of Two Endings (Double Book Review)

If I might open with a complete non sequitur (which, given that the phrase is Latin for “it does not follow”, I guess I legitimately can’t…), just letting you know I got to be the featured author on the J. Taylor Publishing blog yesterday. ^_^ So click here if you want to read my musings on daydreaming. I’ll wait for ya.

*waiting music*

Now onto the post proper.

I semi-recently read a couple of books, and while I didn’t want to go too in depth with either one of them, review-wise, I did notice a parallel in my reading experience for both: In the end, it all came down to…well, the end.

Book the First: “Unhinged (Splintered #2)” by A.G. Howard.

Unhinged cover pic

Genre: YA Fantasy

Blurb (as lifted from the book’s jacket flap): In Splintered, A.G. Howard’s dark reimagining of Alice in Wonderland, Alyssa Gardner was crowned a Queen in Wonderland. Yet she chose to leave her subjects so she could live in the human realm. For a year she’s been trying to be regular Alyssa again, with her boyfriend, Jeb, her newly returned Mom, her friends, the prom, and the promise of a future in London.

But Morpheus, the seductive, manipulative netherling who haunts her dreams, won’t let her leave her legacy behind that easily. Neither will Wonderland, which appears to be suffering from her neglect.

Alyssa is between two worlds: Jeb and her human life…and the intoxicating wildness of Wonderland – and Morpheus. When those worlds collide and Wonderland starts to invade her “real” life, Alyssa must find a way to keep the balance between the two realms or lose everything she loves.

My Thoughts: While Splintered largely managed to stay on my good side (see my review of Book One here), most of Unhinged irritated and bored me. Far from trying to find a balance between her human life and her Wonderland queenship, Alyssa seemed to do little but waste time trying to turn her back on Wonderland altogether. Why, Alyssa? Yeah, I get it, your part-human/part-netherling life is mad as all get-out, and that goes double for many of the key players in it. But don’t we all see the inevitability here? You’re going to have to deal with these problems, so just suck it up, be a queen, and look for solutions! I betcha that would keep the plot moving faster. Also, I felt like not enough people were being straight with each other. I expect as much from Morpheus, ‘cause that’s the way he rolls, but when it’s coming from all sides, I get overwhelmed and just wanna give up on everyone.

Right up until the final chapter, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t bother with the next installment in the series. But then I reached the last chapter’s last half, and the game changed. I won’t say how (spoiler-free zone, up in here!), just that it happened, and now I actually really want to see how the third book will play out. So, well played, last few pages; I wouldn’t say it redeemed the whole book for me, but it did rope my interest in the trilogy’s conclusion.

HSYRT? (Hey, Should You Read This?): Speaking to my past self, “Just skip to getting Book 3 from the library once it’s out, ‘kay? I doubt you’ll consider all that stuff in the middle to be necessary.”

Book the Second: “Bellman & Black: A Ghost Story” by Diane Setterfield.

Bellman and Black Cover

Genre: Literary Fiction

Blurb (as set forth on the author’s website): As a boy, William Bellman commits one small cruel act that appears to have unforeseen and terrible consequences. The killing of a rook with his catapult is soon forgotten amidst the riot of boyhood games. And by the time he is grown, with a wife and children of his own, he seems, indeed, to be a man blessed by fortune.

Until tragedy strikes, and the stranger in black comes, and William Bellman starts to wonder if all his happiness is about to be eclipsed. Desperate to save the one precious thing he has left, he enters into a bargain. A rather strange bargain, with an even stranger partner, to found a decidedly macabre business.

And Bellman & Black is born.

My Thoughts: Having much enjoyed Setterfield’s eerie debut, The Thirteenth Tale, when I spotted this new work from hers at the library, I grabbed it to see whether she would make a good second impression on me. She did. While the narrative style sometimes veered a little off, for me (as it seems literary fiction often does; I’m not sure what rules these highfalutin books are playing by), William Bellman’s life story pulled me swiftly along. Much of that, I think, had to do with the character of Mr. Bellman himself, a vigorous man of business who moved at an obsessively efficient pace I somewhat envied. (Would that I could be half so productive!) The rest had to do with the looming mystery of the ominous Mr. Black; with curiosity and dread, I raced ahead to put an end to my delicious suspense. Ultimately, however, the resolution left me feeling… unresolved. Maybe ghost stories are like that, sometimes, but I’d been hoping for more. I made my way through the last few pages with a lingering sense of a letdown.

Until I read the final line. It wasn’t a big deal of a line, really; nothing that one mightn’t have seen coming. Yet it made a huge difference for me, lifting my spirits and restoring my good opinion in an instant. And now I’m over here like, “Somebody give me bookstore money so I can own this book.”

HSYRT? (Hey, Should You Read This?): That is entirely dependent on your personal taste. I’m frankly a little surprised I liked it so much. Who knows what Reader Me will decide she’s in the mood for? Nobody, that’s who. So play it by ear like I do, and see what ends up finding a place in your affections by the end – or, perchance, because of it.

Anybody out there have any opinions on either of these books? Or on other books where the ending made or broke it for you? If so, this is your personal invitation to share in the comments.