Book Reviews, Fiction Blog

Indie Book Review: The Earl and the Artificer by Kara Jorgensen

eata-final-coverThe Earl and the Artificer (IMD #3) by Kara Jorgensen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a free, electronic copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

SPOILER ALERT: While this review does not contain major spoilers for The Earl and the Artificer, it does contain spoilers for The Earl of Brass, the first novel in the Ingenious Mechanical Devices series (you can read my review of The Earl of Brass HERE).

The Earl and the Artificer by Kara Jorgensen follows Eilian and Hadley Sorrell to Brasshurst Hall (Eilian’s family home) in Folkesbury following their marriage. Both characters are struggling with their newfound roles as Lord and Lady Dorset. Eilian fears that he will never live up to his noble role, nor be a proper husband for Hadley, and Hadley is concerned that she will never succeed as a proper society lady and always be viewed as an opportunistic upstart.

Jorgensen’s character development with Eilian and Hadley is logical and all-too-relatable. Their fears and concerns tap into the deeper fears of rejection and desire for acceptance that all humans feel in one realm or another. Yet, despite their insecurities and a few incompatibilities, they manage to stay supportive of and caring toward one another. Their relationship is not perfect, but through their dedication and devotion, it remains a relationship the reader will admire.

While at Brasshurst Hall, Eilian and Hadley do their best to fit in with the wider genteel society. Through these efforts, the reader is introduced to a new cast of characters. Most notably, Jorgensen provides us with a new antagonist, Randall Nash (Eilian’s second cousin) and a few new friends in Nadir Talbot (a romance author) and his cousin, Mrs. Rhodes.

What I liked most about these secondary characters is that they are exceedingly complex. Jorgensen explores their personalities from various perspectives, and the reader can find relatable and despicable qualities in each one. Personally, Nadir was my favorite. Through his character, Jorgensen commented on several social themes (including gender, race, and imperialism), and it delighted my inner sociologist.

Overall, the plot of the novel moved at a steady pace, though I did not find it quite as captivating as the story lines of The Earl of Brass and The Winter Garden. To me, the other novels had higher stakes and more action throughout, which made them more gripping. However, The Earl and the Artificer has a nice elevation to it. The drama, and the danger, grows as the novel progresses, and moments that seemed insignificant before become key parts of the plot toward the end. While I saw some of the twists coming, there were a few that surprised and delighted me.

In sum, The Earl and the Artificer is a fitting addition to the Ingenious Mechanical Devices series. Fans of Eilian and Hadley will enjoy watching their characters and relationship grow. Fans of the steampunk genre will be entranced by the ominous Brasshurst Hall, eccentric Nadir Talbot, and dangerous turn of events. Highly recommend for anyone with a love of steampunk, historical fiction, and mystery novels.

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You can find out more about Kara Jorgensen on her website, and you can read more about her inspiration for The Earl and the Artificer here.


eata-final-coverIf you are interested in reading The Earl and the Artificer and would like to help sponsor my writing and research, you can purchase it at my Amazon Associates Store. By doing this, you will not pay a cent extra, nor will the author receive a cent less, but I will receive a small commission on the sale. Simply click the book’s title or the book’s image.

Book Reviews, Fiction Blog

Indie Book Review: The Sleeping Angel by Margarita Morris

sleeping angelThe Sleeping Angel by Margarita Morris
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: I received a free electronic copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

The Sleeping Angel by Margarita Morris is a young adult supernatural mystery that perfectly mixes past and present to reveal the sinister secrets surrounding Highgate Cemetery.

In the present, the novel follows Lauren and Tom as they search for the connection between Isabelle Hart, a woman who used to live in Lauren’s house, and the death of Tom’s father. In the past, the novel recounts the life of Isabelle through her diary as well as provides glimpses into those around Isabelle through their journals and memoirs. Despite having seven different narrators throughout the novel, the past and present pieces fit together seamlessly, each divulging just enough information to keep the reader desiring more. The sections of the novel are short, action-packed, and end on such intriguing notes that I frequently couldn’t put the book down.

Unfortunately, that is all I can say about the plot without risking spoilers. However, there is much to comment on in relation to the writing of The Sleeping AngelMorris does a fantastic job of writing to suit the voices of each of her characters. Even if they were not named, it would be easy for the reader to identify the narrator, as each is so distinct and personable. Morris also had a great knack for writing in time-appropriate language. Her word choice feels authentic whether she is writing from the perspective of a young woman or gravedigger in 1870, a teenager in 1970, or a teenager or professor in present time.

My one critique about The Sleeping Angel is that, at times, it was difficult to tell what the supernatural “rules” of the world were, so-to-speak. The novel features paranormal elements, namely ghosts or spirits, but the characters themselves were unsure about how much of what they experienced was real, and other supernatural subjects were considered to be highly unrealistic by the characters. While it is clear which paranormal elements were “real” in terms of plot, I still found it a bit unbalanced in terms of the world Morris created (which was strongly based in present day reality). However, this seems to be a mostly subjective critique, and it did not detract from my enjoyment of the novel.

Overall, The Sleeping Angel is a well-written, well-executed paranormal mystery. The multiple story lines intertwine perfectly for an enjoyable journey and satisfying conclusion. If you love young adult paranormal/supernatural tales, historical fiction, and a dash of mystery, you will adore The Sleeping Angel.

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sleeping angelIf you are interested in reading The Sleeping Angel, it is FREE on Amazon! Simply click the book’s title or image to be taken straight to the sales page. As always, if you would like to help sponsor my writing and research, you can purchase other books at my Amazon Associates Store. By doing this, you will not pay a cent extra, nor will the author receive a cent less, but I will receive a small commission on the sale.

Fiction Blog, Guest Posts

Guest Post: Blog Tour, The Curious Tale of Gabrielle by Zachary Paul Chopchinski

Today, I am honored to host a spot on Zachary Paul Chopchinski’s blog tour for his debut novel, The Curious Tale of Gabrielle. Contained in this post are Zach’s advice for would-be indie authors, information about his novel and him, a blog tour calendar, AND two book giveaways!


~ Guest Post ~

I guess I would have to say that my biggest inspiration and driving force behind writing The Curious Tale of Gabrielle is the possibility of feeling like I contributed something to the world; I created something that future persons could look back on and enjoy. I look back at the great authors that have written and created beautiful pieces and I see how those authors impacted thousands of lives. As some of you may know, I didn’t grow up in the best of conditions. My only escape, my only hope, was to engulf myself in the books that I cherished, and for a small time, leave my life and enter a word of unforeseen possibility. As a kid that needed that escape; I know firsthand the power of a good book. I want to give that back to others that are in need of a small escape.

My journey to independent publication (indie publication) was a road full of back-pedaling and learning on the go. Even from the beginning, I had a hard time getting the book written. For those of you who don’t know me, I have a little bit of an attention deficit problem. I sit down at the computer, with the best of intentions, and I’m shortly stunted by phrases like: “Oh look at this picture of this kitty stuck in a vase” and “HONEY! LOOK AT THIS VINE OF THIS KID DOING A THING!”.

But even after I had the book written, I didn’t even know how to begin marketing and selling it. My wife helped me get set up on social media sites and set up a website, but I still didn’t know anything about how to market and sell a book. Plus, I still needed a cover, an editor, and beta readers (which I didn’t even know I needed at the time). I sort of learned what I needed and how to get it along the way, while struggling to put enough money together for a professional cover. Honestly, the thing that helped me the most to make sense of what I needed to do and how to go about doing it was the online indie writing community. With the advice from several bloggers, indie authors, editors, and all of their connections, I was able to get a game plan on what I needed to do and in what order.

I would have to say, if I were to give advice to other indie authors out there or people who are interested in taking the indie path, I would have to say: get that online community before you try and do things yourself. The indie author community is extremely welcoming and willing to give advice and offer connections whenever possible. Once you have that down, then worry about marketing and covers and blog tours. Also, I’d say, never stop doing what you’re doing. Even if you never publish, or if no one buys it. You still created something, that’s beautiful and something you should be proud of. If you love to write, keep doing it no matter what. I’d like to leave you with some advice that was given to me when I first started: “The average start-up business doesn’t break even/make profit for five years”. So, don’t get frustrated or think you haven’t created something special if it takes a while to get recognized.

~ About the Book ~

zach bookThe Curious Tale of Gabrielle (Book 1 in The Curious Tale of Gabrielle Book Series)

Author: Zachary Paul Chopchinski

Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Adventure, Historical Fiction

 ~ Synopsis ~

A young Gabrielle is driven by her will to explore and see new things. She cannot stop or rest until all within her reach has been experienced and explored. Driven by an astounding will and lack of common fear, she finds herself able to face things most adults might fall before. Yet has there been a journey that has been meant specifically for her all along? Is there a path that has been created just for her to travel?

Follow Gabrielle as she ventures through the lives of many with the experience of only her own. What will happen as she discovers the lives—and tragedies—of the souls who choose her to see their story? It’s a journey through history, life, and love unlike anything that could be imagined—except perhaps by a young girl.

~ Excerpt ~

“Hello…?” Gabrielle pleaded with the silence, hoping for a response from anybody at this point. She could feel that something was wrong, as she found herself looking at the vase of flowers that she had admired the day before. She could feel her heart stop as she looked at the once beautiful vase of flowers. Something was terribly wrong, the flowers were all dead. Not only were they dead, but they had been dead for some time, by the look of them, as they were dried with most of their petals on the table. Gabrielle’s mouth hung ajar in shock. These flowers had been alive and vibrant not several hours ago. How is this possible?

The urge to run came over her, as all of her senses were telling her to leave now and not look back. Something was wrong and she could feel it. She wasn’t sure how, but she could feel that whatever it was, was in the next room, lying just out of site. Gabrielle wasn’t sure how she knew this, but something was telling her as though it was being whispered into her ear. She stood frozen in fear for what felt like a lifetime when she heard the ‘click’ again.

~ Purchase links ~

Zach’s Website (Buying Direct)

Amazon

Smashwords

Google Play

~ About the Author ~

zach 2Zachary is 27 and lives in Maine with his lovely wife, Layla. The two of them share a home with their 4 fur-children Thai, Bambina, Loki and Le vie (Thai and Bambina are cats and Loki and Le vie are dogs).

Zachary received an Associates degree in Criminal Justice and a Bachelor’s degree in Criminology from the University of Southern Maine. Zachary had two short stories published by Ohio State University when he was in elementary school, and a poem published when he was in high school. Zachary has always had two passions in his life, criminal justice and writing. After spending nearly 5 years working in security, Zachary decided it was time to give his other passion a chance.

Zachary is very much a family man and when he is not deep in writing, he can be found spending time with his family, playing video games or contemplating his next story idea.

~ Social Media Sites ~

Zach’s Website

Twitter

Facebook

Tumblr

Goodreads

~ Giveaways ~

Click here to win an e-book copy of The Curious Tale of Gabrielle

Click here to win a signed paperback copy of The Curious Tale of Gabrielle

~ Follow the Blog Tour ~

March 7 – Guest Post on I’m a Book Shark

March 14 – Guest Post on Tales of a Formerly Inadequate Fat Girl

March 20 – Author Interview on I’m A Book Shark

March 28 – Book Review by author K.D. Wilson

March 30 – Guest Post on author Christie Cote’s website

You can also read my review of The Curious Tale of Gabrielle HERE.


I want to say a quick “thank you” to Zach for allowing me to be part of his blog tour! I have enjoyed watching your dreams come true, and I can’t wait to see where your career takes you!

Book Reviews, Fiction Blog

Indie Book Review: The Curious Tale of Gabrielle by Zachary Paul Chopchinski

zach bookThe Curious Tale of Gabrielle by Zachary Paul Chopchinski
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: I received an advance reader copy of this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review. The copy I received was not the final copy, but rather the one issued to beta readers.

The Curious Tale of Gabrielle by Zachary Paul Chopchinski is a young adult novel that blends historical fiction and magical realism. In the novel, the protagonist, Gabrielle, is given a magical bracelet that allows her to transport through time and place to experience the lives of the bracelet’s previous wearers through their eyes. This novel is the first in the series, and it covers how Gabrielle receives the bracelet and the first wearer’s life.

Right away, the reader is fond of Gabrielle. She is spunky, curious, and intelligent (as exhibited by the sophisticated tone and vocabulary of the narrator). When faced with situations that would terrify most young people, Gabrielle displays boldness and compassion. Like Gabrielle, the supporting characters have distinct personalities. The three key supporting characters: Alexandra, Heather, and Fionn, are well-developed and each have clear motives in the novel. Their relationships to Gabrielle are purposeful and emotional.

The plot of the novel moves quickly, but the fast pace is comfortable to the reader given the amount of action in the novel. There is rarely a dull moment as Gabrielle moves from one experience to another and slowly learns about the power of the bracelet. Without providing spoilers, I will say that the ending of the main plot leaves a few questions for the reader and the stakes do not feel as “high” to the reader as they may to Gabrielle. However, the ultimate ending of the novel is a strong cliffhanger that will leave the reader anxious for the next book.

During my beta read of the novel, I only had three criticisms. First, there are times where the writing did more “telling” than “showing.” Second, the point of view varied slightly between third-person limited and third-person omniscient, which can make emotional scenes somewhat jumbled. Third, the specific settings of the novel (Gabrielle’s hometown and the place she is transported) are unclear. However, the vagueness of Gabrielle’s hometown contributes to the novel’s sense of timelessness, and the place she is transported is discernible by a reader with sound historical knowledge.

Overall, I greatly enjoyed The Curious Tale of Gabrielle. Chopchinski’s writing style contributes to the timelessness of the novel as well as Gabrielle’s intellectual sophistication. Gabrielle, herself, is everything a young girl wants to be, and her adventure is exhilarating, moving, and when necessary, scary. With a bit more writing experience, Chopchinski will easily overcome my few technical criticisms, but regardless, I have full confidence that the rest of the series will be just as fun and engaging as this first novel.

View all my reviews

You can find out more about Zachary Paul Chopchinski on his website, and you can read an interview with him on The 2K International Writers’ Blog Tour here.


zach bookIf you are interested in reading The Curious Tale of Gabrielle and would like to help sponsor my writing and research, you can purchase it at my Amazon Associates Store. By doing this, you will not pay a cent extra, nor will the author receive a cent less, but I will receive a small commission on the sale. Simply click the book’s title or the book’s image.

Book Reviews, Fiction Blog

Indie Book Review: The Earl of Brass by Kara Jorgensen

kara book
The Earl of Brass (The Ingenious Mechanical Devices #1) by Kara Jorgensen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: I was given a free electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This review may contain minor spoilers.

The Earl of Brass (The Ingenious Mechanical Devices #1) by Kara Jorgensen is a bold social commentary, an adventurous love story, and a gorgeous example of the steampunk genre. The novel follows Lord Eilian Sorrell, the heir to an earldom, who loses his arm in a dirigible accident, and Hadley Fenice, the fiery prosthesis maker, as they both battle the constricting roles placed on them by English society. To escape England, if only temporarily, they embark on an archaeological dig and find more than they bargained for in the desert, in more ways than one.

The characters and styling of The Earl of Brass are the crowning jewels of the novel. From the first time the reader encounters Eilian, Hadley, and even the supporting characters, s/he is given a strong sense of their personalities, a tangible reason to empathize with them, and a vivid visual description to complete the package. Each character is well-crafted with realistic motives and dialogue. Admittedly, one of the minor characters, the main villain, is a bit two-dimensional. However, the rest are complex and intriguing. The reader is rooting for Eilian and Hadley from the moment they meet and will enjoy their fun, heartfelt, and satisfying romantic journey.

The steampunk styling of The Earl of Brass is spot on. Jorgensen has clearly done her research, and she infuses the text with both large and minute details that bring a steampunk world to life. My only criticism of the novel’s styling is that sometimes it can be a bit too heavy-handed. While Jorgensen’s broad vocabulary and descriptive language is impressive, at times, it would serve her better to have more discretion with her images. Three great adjectives together muddle up a description, but one perfect adjective creates a precise image.

Overall, The Earl of Brass has an engaging plot that follows a natural arch. The over-arching story has a satisfying build and conclusion, peppered with just the right amount of action and drama to keep things interesting. I must admit, the discovery that Eilian and Hadley make in the desert briefly broke my suspension of disbelief. While it was plausible, it seemed a bit too science fiction in the context of the rest of the novel. However, once I took a breath and trusted the author, I appreciated the discovery and its purpose in the novel. That being said, if you should be a bit surprised at this same point, just go with it. It works in the end.

Along the same lines, the discovery plays well into Eilian and Hadley’s frustrations with English society. Without spoiling anything, the discovery is set up as an antithesis to England. This contrast definitely works, but at times, it felt like a bit too much. The social commentary offered by the discovery, in combination with the ones offered by Eilian and Hadley can seem overbearing. Jorgensen themes of gender and social equality are important historically, and relevant to modern society, but the delivery comes on a little strong. In the future, I would advise her to trust her reader to discern her themes through subtler mechanisms.

While the descriptive language and thematic material may be a bit too strong, overall, The Earl of Brass by Kara Jorgensen is an exceptional novel – especially for a debut novel. The story is fun and engaging, the characters are lively and relatable, and the steampunk styling is beautiful and realistic. I highly recommend this novel to anyone who loves historical romance, steampunk, and/or novels with a social conscious.

View all my reviews

You can find out more about Kara Jorgensen on her website, and you can read an interview with her on The 2K International Writers’ Blog Tour here. You can pick up the sequel to The Earl of Brass, entitled The Winter Garden, here.


kara bookIf you are interested in reading The Earl of Brass and would like to help sponsor my writing and research, you can purchase it at my Amazon Associates Store. By doing this, you will not pay a cent extra, nor will the author receive a cent less, but I will receive a small commission on the sale. Simply click the book’s title or the book’s image.