Review of “Dagmar of the Northlands” by John C. Adams

An epic-length book, this story is filled with fantastical lands, intriguing characters, and a complex history of kingdoms and gods. I really enjoyed the vivid imagery and excellent characterization of both the heroes and villains. The plot itself builds and draws you in as you begin to understand how everything might come together. The scenes where the gods are watching the events of man add a cool mystical element. The various tensions in various relationships also keep you interested.

I found the title and blurb a bit odd, considering Dagmar isn’t necessarily the main character. The overall story certainly doesn’t revolve around her by any means. She’s important and a dynamic character, but I thought it was a little strange that the title suggested her story line was the focus.

Also, there were a LOT of characters to keep track of. I like multiple points of view, especially in a book that covers this much ground, but I think there were something like 10+ POV characters. Eventually you figure it out, but it’s really confusing at first because the book jumps from one to another quickly before you’ve gotten to know anyone. I think any experienced reader can handle it, but it’s something to be aware of as you dive in. And along with this, there was a LOT of “son of” and “daughter of” and explanation of who had married who over generations – that might be great in moderation to give a historical depth to these kingdoms, but it was a LOT and added to the confusion from the get-go.

The writing itself is great. I was never distracted by any editorial goofs. There’s plenty of description to give you a picture of each scene without being overly flowery. The dialogue sounds natural and fits in well amid all the action. Also, the author does an excellent job of making you sympathize with each character, good or bad, and even the heroes are shown to have problems, which makes them believably human.

See it on Amazon!

Free Urban Fantasy Trilogy

Stuck in isolation and looking for books? I’m following the lead of many other authors and have made “THE ALT-WORLD CHRONICLES” free for the rest of the week! Stay safe, folks.

Hot New Release “Given to Fly” by JD Estrada

Given_to_Fly_Cover_for_Kindle

Have you ever wanted to read a book that dreams about becoming a Studio Ghibli film?  Well now you can.  Given to Fly is the 13th book by Puerto Rican indie author JD Estrada and his first full length middle grade fantasy novel.  But more importantly, it’s a book with a lot of heart and no violence.

If you see movies, TV, video games, or the news at any given moment, it’s almost as if violence is a required ingredient in whatever medium we enjoy.  Given to Fly is a book that avoids the use of violence even when it talks about real issues like death, financial and professional struggles, and life in general in favor of finding joy and life lessons through the fantastical.


At 11 years old, John Rivers is a kind hearted kid who dreams about flying.  He’s just moved to the Pacific Northwest with his family to a house that although it’s very lovely and very cozy, it’s not exactly magical. What he doesn’t know is that magic is actually closer than he thinks.

After strolling up a hill near his house, he finds a cliff with a cove at the bottom and a huge tree growing over the water.  What’s special about this particular tree is that it currently serves as the resting spot for a house that defies logic while embracing the amazing.  As curious as he is kind, one look at Od Manor would have been all it takes for him to consider heading into the sideways house, but when he sees a shadow inside, he climbs down to make sure no one is in trouble.  Once inside, he discovers that no one is in trouble but that the term living room has never been as literal as when an ottoman starts asking questions.  The house’s owner is called Fäet Odstein, which would be odd enough if he weren’t also the literary persona of JD Estrada.  Adventure ensues as Fäet discovers that John dreams about flying. Intent on helping the boy out, they seek the help from a library pillaging bookworm, angels, spiders, and even take a moment to contemplate at the meaning of life in the linen lagoon as they try to discover what it takes to fly.


Apart from a whimsical adventure that feels like a lover letter to works by Hayao Miyazaki, Given to Fly is also the first of what will be a series of stand-alone middle-grade novels with Fäet Odstein as one of its protagonists.  The purpose of these books shall be to offer stories without violence that hopefully get more children to read and dream.

Influenced by Hayao Miyazaki, Peter Pan, and dreams of flight, Given to Fly is a book full of heart that skips the violence in favor of the fantastical.

Grab a copy today HERE on Amazon!


IMG_1040This is not the first time JD Estrada has written middle grade fantasy stories.  His Daydreams on the Sherbet Shore have been described as whimsical bedtime stories with a lot of heart.  That same heart was the main driver for this story.  Like most of his works, Given to Fly was written longhand in one of the best gifts Estrada has ever received in his life.  A long time ago, his wife gifted him a hard cover notebook.  The image on it was particularly special to him.  She had asked him what image meant the most to him.  Without batting an eye, he looked up the image to the Pearl Jam single by the same name.  A couple of months later and with misty eyes, he had a hard cover notebook with that same image and the name could only be Given to Fly. But what to write about…

The question lingered in the air and rumbled in his brain until a trip to Orlando had him and his wife going to Epcot Center and getting on the Soarin’ ride for the first time.  As sights, sounds, and smells washed over him in the beautiful flight simulator, an idea was born and by the end, he had soared right into an epiphany.  “It’s going to be about a boy who dreams about flying,” he told his wife through tears of joy after getting off the ride.

Several years have passed after that ride and finally Given to Fly is ready for you to read.  It is a tribute to things that bring him joy and a song that makes his soul smile.

IMG_0864In honor of the band that has inspired his life so much, all proceeds for Given to Fly and all other Estrada books for the remainder of 2018 shall be donated to Actionforjackson.org in support of #EBAwareness.  Epidermolysis Bullosa is a family of rare genetic disorders that affect the body’s largest organ: the skin.  Eddie Vedder (lead singer for Pearl Jam) has worked hard to support this cause.  It is a small token of gratitude for everything the band means to Estrada and aligns with his #Humans4Humans efforts to support different causes and try to make a positive impact through his writing and any other efforts to support good causes that help our fellow humans.

qjWC_df-_400x400 (1).jpgFind JD at:

Website – www.jdestradawriter.blogspot.com

Twitter – www.twitter.com/JDEstradawriter

Instagram – http://instagram.com/jdestradawriter/

Google+ – https://plus.google.com/u/0/

Facebook page – www.facebook.com/JDEstradawriter

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/dashboard

Soundcloud – https://soundcloud.com/j-d-estrada

 

Heroes & Villains: A Superhero Collection

Superhero Box Set CoverIn this ten novel boxed set, indie publishing’s greatest superhero authors will introduce you to the heroes that save the world and the villains scheming to destroy it. Whether you like dystopian heroes, modern capes and cowls, champions of a bygone era, or guardians past their prime, you’ll love the high-octane adventure in this boxed set.

1. “Serpent’s Sacrifice” by Trish Heinrich
2. “Morning Sun” by Jeremy Flagg
3. “Action Figures” by Michael Bailey
4. “Supervillain High” by Gerhard Gehrke
5. “Origin” by David Neth
6. “Sidekick” by Christopher Valin
7. “The Kota” by Sunshine Somerville
8. “Super” by Karen Diem
9. “Wearing the Cape” by Marion G. Harmon
10. “Hero Status” by Kristen Brand

Buy Heroes and Villains today and suit up for the ride of a lifetime!

Amazon
Kobo
B&N
iBooks

Superhero Box Set

Review of “Tick” by Allison Rose

25050783Starting this book, I thought it would be a typical YA Dystopian SciFi story, and I was happy enough with that.  But every time I thought I knew where the story was going, it took a swerve and headed in a new direction.  I was NEVER bored with this book, and there were so many twists that the plot pulled me in and kept me reading.  The characters are great too, and I was impressed with the author’s ability to stay so focused on showing us everything going on in Jo’s mind.

And about Jo.  I imagine a lot of readers will find her difficult to empathize with after a while – she is not at all a pure, good hero.   But Jo’s transformation from average SciFi teen to…everything else she becomes was, for me, the best part of the story.  This is about Jo fighting her demons.  About surviving.  About finding redemption.  I felt like her reactions to everything she goes through as the world falls apart were absolutely natural and believable.  I also loved how important art was to her sanity and how it added depth to the story.

It’s hard to avoid spoilers and say anything else about the story, but I will say – HOLY CRAP the ending.  I very much look forward to reading what’s going on in the next book.

5 Stars

See it on Amazon!

Review of “The Black Swan Company” by Luna DeMasi

25442483I’m not an automatic sucker for any vampire book, but this one won me over quickly.  I loved the focus on investigative journalism as a way to dig deeper into the conspiracies and injustices committed by the authorities in this dystopian, semi-post-apocalyptic setting.  There are also elements of paranormal romance for readers who are drawn to that kind of thing, and this was a good way for the author to draw all sorts of emotional turmoil out of the characters.  Melody, as a “strong female lead,” is great because she’s good at her job but also personally flawed in believable ways that make her easy to relate to.

The writing devices the author uses keep the plot flowing while also giving great backstory.  There are journal entries and letters, back-flashes, and occasional dips into POVs other than the main character’s.  The story often reads like a suspense/crime drama.  A lot of time is spent with Melody and Bastian in isolation, but then there are bursts of action to remind you that the world outside is really, really different from the one we know and the one Melody lost.  And the dialogue is great, livening up the story with colorful side characters whom you grow attached to quickly.

I don’t want to give anything away, but what’s really going on with the Black Swan Company is both terrifying and oddly believable.  I also like that these “vampires” aren’t like your typical paranormal monsters, and the gray areas involved are interesting from a moral and sort-of-political standpoint.

If I have any complaint about this book, it’s that the action at the end happens really fast as things come to a climax, and everything gets wrapped up super quickly.  But it also works this way, since everything has been building to what happens in the end and you kind of know what to expect.

Definitely check out this book if you like your vampire stories a little more on the dystopian/crime side.

5 Stars

See it on Amazon!

Review of “Them Rabbit Foot Blues” by Jason Spurlock

38219595

What did I just read?!  And I mean that in a good way.  My mind is always blown when a brand new author debuts with a book so well-written that it feels like the work of a pro.  Don’t get me wrong – this book is all over the place and will be hard for some readers to follow.  But falling down the rabbit hole is also kind of the point.

It’s hard to say what this book is about or exactly what genre it falls into.  The blurb does a better job explaining this than I can. “A cleverly diverting narrative that remixes folklore, pop culture, multiculturalism, gender roles, history, sci-fi, noir aesthetics, and urban decay.”  All of those elements are mixed into a story centered around a combat veteran struggling to figure himself out as he navigates the world(s) around him.

I love flawed characters who are aware of their screwed-up-ness.  What’s even better is when we see the flaws of society through that character’s eyes.  A good writer is supposed to see the world around them and be able to point out what everybody knows in new and interesting ways, and that keen insight of the author/main character might be my favorite thing about the book.  There is plenty of commentary about society, about different kinds of people, etc.

All of this is beautifully weaved into a story where the main character (and you as the reader) are trying to figure out what the heck is going on. At times, the book does get a bit bogged down in its own cleverness, distracting from the plot, but even these sort of side note bits were engaging and interesting insights into something about the world.  The writing itself at times sounded in my head a bit like Dave Eggers and a bit like S.A. Hunt, another veteran author I’ve had the pleasure of reading.

If you’re into literature that pushes your brain, grab this book.

4.5 Stars

See it on Amazon!

ALTERNI Paperback Giveaway(s)

cropped-website-header-ALT-FINAL-1.jpg

I’m so excited to release this book next month in time for Christmas!  BUT I’m also moving in real life, which means a lot of my book promotion needs to get set up now.  So, why not make a giveaway that runs until the book release?  That way, you all can help  me spread the word about my book, and we can have a little fun in the meantime.

GIVEAWAY #1:  Everyone who shares this post – whether on Twitter or Facebook or wherever – will be entered for a chance to win a FREE PAPERBACK OF ALTERNI that I’ll send to one lucky winner, chosen on 12/12/17.   All you have to do to enter is click one of the share icons below and be sure to include @kynacoba in your message so I get a notification.  (If you forget that step, just comment on this post.)

GIVEAWAY #2 and #3:  I’ll also be playing ALTERNI-related games on my Twitter and Instagram accounts every Tuesday from now until 12/12/17, so make sure you follow me there so you see those games for more chances to win ALTERNI paperbacks. 

FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER

FOLLOW ME ON INSTAGRAM 

GIVEAWAY #4:  The wonderful people on my mailing list have an exclusive chance to win a paperback by entering a giveaway there.  AND, that mailing list receives the first chapter of ALTERNI to read for free in the Somerville Series Samplers!

JOIN MY MAILING LIST 


I hope you like free books, because I’m giving away at least 4 with the above giveaways.  (I like free stuff.  Do you like free stuff?  We should be friends.)

Or, if you can’t wait, I’ve made ALTERNI available for pre-order — at $0.99 for a limited time. 

ALTERNI PRE-ORDER


Alterni Cover FRONT

Ever have a nightmare where you’re naked in public? What if everyone else in the room was also naked…and also a version of yourself? That’s the reality Esme Kuchis finds herself in, and soon things get even weirder.
She’s not in her Kansas City anymore. This alternate world is home to an ancient, secret Order with a king, conjuri magicians, cavali fighters, and dozens of paranormal races. And the purpose of this magical Order? They protect an unsuspecting public from malevolenci, demonic beasts from otherworldly rifts.
As an alterni summoned to this world, Esme must partner with the king and fight using magic only an alterni can wield. Unfortunately, the model-perfect King Owen is broken by grief and guilt, the Order has little faith in her, and the malevolenci are worse than ever.
Eight alt-Esmes preceded her. Eight lost their lives. Can Esme use her unique gifts to master this world’s magic? If she can’t, the consequences might be more devastating than Owen is willing to say.

Share, follow, and join for your chance to win!

Review of “Cruel and Unusual” by CE Wilson

31821174I picked up this book on a whim and because the cover is gorgeous.  The writing grabbed my attention in the first few pages, and I could tell this author had worked hard to craft this story.  Then, the uniqueness of the story kept me reading to the end.

While the setting is sparse and simple, there’s much going on inside Malcolm’s mind. This book tackles some dark psychological issues, and this setting works perfectly to illustrate the damage of isolation. Even though Malcolm is selfish, guilt-ridden, quick to anger, and blindly obsessed with his past girlfriend, you feel bad for him.  Anyone left alone this long is bound to lose some of their humanity. Anyone who gets stuck in this experimental prison…that’s unlikely to end well.

Now, as for the “unusual” character of the story, I loved how I was never sure what Verity really was.  You want her to be real for Malcolm’s sake, but at the same time his reactions to her show the effects of his situation and how his mind might be slipping.   The dynamics there get weird, but also meaningful.

The title has many levels of meaning, and I noticed that more and more as I read. There’s the usual meaning of cruel and unusual punishment. There’s Malcolm who’s cruel and Verity who’s unusual. There’s the whole situation with Mauve.  It all works together to make for a very complex, unique read which leaves you thinking that this world is really, really not right.

4 Stars

See it on Amazon!

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: