Saturday, February 28, 2015

Guest Post: Alex Stargazer, Author; 17

Hello everyone at To the Point! It’s my pleasure to be your guest blogger today. But—perhaps some introductions are first in order?

Who I Am

I’m a writer—of fantasy, of romance; of all that brings creativity from me, and wonder to you. My nom de plume is Alex Stargazer; in life I am known as Alex Bujorianu (there’s a mouthful for you).
Of interest to you may be my age: seventeen. Yeah, that’s right—I’m still a teenager. And with a 500 page novel under my belt, along with a short story, and an upcoming novella, you could say I’ve a bit of experience doing what I do.

I’m also a poet. I write classical poetry, mostly (I do love my archaisms) although equally my topics tend to be modern.

What I’m Here For

I’m here to talk about my book: the Necromancer. It’s 500 pages (as mentioned) and it’s about... a Necromancer. More specifically, it’s about the vengeance of a betrayed soul; of the horrors wrought by the powers of necromancy; and it’s about a girl. A mere apprentice, unwittingly charged to stop this great evil.

If that sounds interesting, here’s the blurb:
From the fires of deceit, he was reborn in ice. His name bequeathes fear into the mighty; and death into the meek.
Meet Neshvetal: a being of darkest magic—beautiful, powerful, and eternal. Or so he thinks...

What About... Being Seventeen?

Here’s a shocker: I’m seventeen now, but I released it when I was sixteen, and began the first draft at fourteen.

I’m not sure how I ought describe the experience. Mostly, I felt... compelled, to write the Necromancer. It is the product of years of hyperactive imagination, musing, and hidden desire.
It wasn’t easy. There were at times when I was doing over an hour a day, nearly every day—and that’s on top of my schoolwork. I spent most of my summer holidays working on it. And I doubted myself—doubted whether I could do it, whether it was any good... whether I could ever reach the level I dreamed of.

But, I finished it. And people seem to think it’s pretty good. What can I say? I’m flattered.
But most of all, I feel that the Necromancer has started me on a road that—while long, and possibly arduous—will yet bring me to a place I could never have dreamed of.

Perhaps I’m just being romantic. But I don’t think so.

If You’re Interested...

Check out the Necromancer on Goodreads:

You can also buy it on Amazon—or, if you prefer, my blog has links to several other retailers.

Monday, February 16, 2015

It's a Book Blitz! "Disintegration" (The Todor Trilogy, Book Two) by Jenna Newell Hiott

Just a few months ago, Jenna Newell Hiott released the first installment, Revelation, of the Todor Trilogy. Today, in an effort to help get the word out about this epically fantastic series and support Jenna's independent sophomore effort, To The Point joins with Sage's Book Blitz to help highlight today's title. There's no review today, just the book description, author bio and some links to guide your way in case you found yourself interested in learning more about 'Disintegration.'

Official Book Summary:
Aerie has fallen and the land of Todor is on the brink of war. Famine and decay have touched every corner of the land. If Todor is to survive, Gemynd, Numa and Soman must fully embrace their powers, even as they continue to uncover more secrets and lies. Can Soman survive the aftermath of his role in the destruction of Aerie? Will Numa’s love for Gemynd endure even after she sees the horrors of the Iturtian pit? And is Gemynd his father’s puppet or his protégé? The betrayals of the past weigh heavy, but can the three move beyond them in order to work for the good of Todor? Or will their inability to forgive propel them into war? Thundering toward an epic conclusion, Disintegration is the second book in the Todor trilogy. In it, author Jenna Newell Hiott paints a stunning portrait of humanity at its rawest, giving a revealing glimpse of how it fares when everything teeters on the brink of destruction. 

Author Bio: 
Author, healer, all-around kook, Jenna Newell Hiott boasts of having

a limitless imagination, unless it’s nap time. While many of us had an imaginary friend as children, Jenna had an entire imaginary family—complete with a second set of parents and three siblings—all of whom lived in a make-believe world of Jenna’s own creation. One could say she’s been writing fantasy fiction since she was old enough to use words. And she never outgrew it. Out of this hyperactive imagination, Jenna created the land of Todor: a world of magic, intrigue, and power plays. 

Find out more about Jenna and The Todor Trilogy:

Saturday, February 7, 2015

'The Golem and the Jinni' by Helene Wecker

Official Summary:
In The Golem and the Jinni, a chance meeting between mythical beings takes readers on a dazzling journey through cultures in turn-of-the-century New York.

Chava is a golem, a creature made of clay, brought to life to by a disgraced rabbi who dabbles in dark Kabbalistic magic and dies at sea on the voyage from Poland. Chava is unmoored and adrift as the ship arrives in New York harbor in 1899.

Ahmad is a jinni, a being of fire born in the ancient Syrian desert, trapped in an old copper flask, and released in New York City, though still not entirely free

Ahmad and Chava become unlikely friends and soul mates with a mystical connection. Marvelous and compulsively readable, Helene Wecker's debut novel The Golem and the Jinni weaves strands of Yiddish and Middle Eastern literature, historical fiction and magical fable, into a wondrously inventive and unforgettable tale.

A View Into ‘The Golem and the Jinni’:
Do you love myth, love, beytrayal, and the wiggling uncertainty that comes with historical fiction? 'The Golem and the Jinni' by Helen Wecker might just be your next favorite book:
“An immigrant tale that combines elements of Jewish and Arab folk mythology, The Golem and the Jinni tells the story of two supernatural creatures who arrive separately in New York in 1899.”
The setup immediately piqued my interest, and I wasn't disappointed. The Golem and The Jinni is whimsical and sometimes dark, but it focuses on characters first. The story twists and meanders a bit, yet finds its way to what I think is a satisfying end. There might be disagreement between some readers concerning the ending, which is a sign good storytelling. If nobody cares, then a story hasn't achieved much. Arguments and re-reads are the symptoms of a well-told story.

Helene Wecker’s tale of human myth and love make up for any perceived faults with a heart, soul, and a crisp writing style that shifts depending on what character the story follows. The depth of Helene’s research is impressive. She notes as much in the back of the book, but it’s very apparent by the details of the voyage across the Atlantic and those early days the Golem and Jinni spend (apart, at first) in New York City circa 1899.

Bottom Line: As a painstakingly crafted story of love, immigration, and folk mythology, 'The Golem and the Jinni' is a great way to pass the cold winter nights while wrapped in the worries and wonders of seemingly real fictional characters.

Contributed by Kyle Horner

Saturday, January 31, 2015

'The Paper Magician' by Charlie N. Holmberg

Official Summary:
Ceony Twill arrives at the cottage of Magician Emery Thane with a broken heart. Having graduated at the top of her class from the Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined, Ceony is assigned an apprenticeship in paper magic despite her dreams of bespelling metal. And once she’s bonded to paper, that will be her only magic…forever.

Yet the spells Ceony learns under the strange yet kind Thane turn out to be more marvelous than she could have ever imagined—animating paper creatures, bringing stories to life via ghostly images, even reading fortunes. But as she discovers these wonders, Ceony also learns of the extraordinary dangers of forbidden magic.

An Excisioner—a practitioner of dark, flesh magic—invades the cottage and rips Thane’s heart from his chest. To save her teacher’s life, Ceony must face the evil magician and embark on an unbelievable adventure that will take her into the chambers of Thane’s still-beating heart—and reveal the very soul of the man.

From the imaginative mind of debut author Charlie N. Holmberg, The Paper Magician is an extraordinary adventure both dark and whimsical that will delight readers of all ages.

'The Paper Magician' surprised me. It was one of those books that thanks to the magic of Amazon suggestions became an unavoidable mainstay in the store, in the online suggestions carousel and on the dreaded Kindle advertisement screensaver that I'm both too cheap to get rid of and loathe to dismiss due to its (unfortunate) benefit. Amazon really wanted me to read this title but it was $11 - not much when your know what your buying but on a brand new author's brand new series, well, now we're starting some strange internal conflict*. But eventually I broke. Amazon worked its magic and after nearly two months of having it constantly shoved in my face I lost my resolve around midnight someday near Christmas.

Given the story above I'd have every right to be a little peeved with Amazon for winning yet another round of "will she read it?" but I should know better by now. The all-knowing Amazon suggestions algorithm was right, again, and so I'm here to tell you that this book was, actually " extraordinary adventure both dark and whimsical that will delight readers..."

Bottom Line: Not only did I shell out the $11 for the privileged of reading 'The Paper Magician' but I was so in love with it that I immediately picked up 'The Glass Magician' and have 'The Master Magician' in my cross-hairs for swift purchase when it gets released into the wild on June 2nd of this year. If you like reading anything with even a little bit of whimsy you'll love these books.

*Usually along the lines of, "$11!, I don't need to spend that much on a book... an electronic copy of the book at that. That's insane!" followed by, "Yeah, yeah, yeah - I get it. But the whole point of reading this stuff is to enjoy it. Not torture yourself with crap just because it's cheap." Round and round we go on that for a while until I usually tire myself out and pick the least expensive book on the wish list, or one of the host of books collecting dust on my home screen, a.k.a. the TBR pile. 

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

'Off to Be the Wizard' by Scott Meyer (Book 1 of Magic 2.0)

Official Summary:

Martin Banks is just a normal guy who has made an abnormal discovery: he can manipulate reality, thanks to reality being nothing more than a computer program. With every use of this ability, though, Martin finds his little “tweaks” have not escaped notice. Rather than face prosecution, he decides instead to travel back in time to the Middle Ages and pose as a wizard. What could possibly go wrong?

An American hacker in King Arthur’s court, Martin must now train to become a full-fledged master of his powers, discover the truth behind the ancient wizard Merlin…and not, y’know, die or anything.


With a kitschy title, an 8-bit cover graphic and playful description I just couldn't resist - can I go so far as to say this book won me over because it's adorable? Of course I can because my blog = my rules. Can't say that a book is adorable too often... in fact this might be the first time in my entire life I've gone and done that. Although, come to think it, I'm not in the business of reviewing children's books. It probably comes up a lot more in that genre. So, let's all agree that the word 'adorable' isn't used much with books marketed to adults and leave it at. (/tangent)

'Off to Be the Wizard' is not a stuffy, inaccessible nerd-fest like you might want to think. Heck, I almost missed out because immediately following the thought that this title was totally adorable (see above) was the thought that anything this cute has got to be so heavily infiltrated with geek references that I wouldn't be able to get past a few pages without wanting to hurl it against a wall.* In fact, the author does a great job at keeping the story light without letting it float away.

My one and only complaint is for roughly 30 pages, the middle of the book borders on the edge of fluff filler. So much so that I almost feel like it could have been cut out completely without consequence to the overall storytelling. Outside of that though, the title starts and finishes on high notes that kept me interested and I'll probably be throwing book 2, 'Spell or High Water' onto the T.B.R. pile.

Bottom Line: 'Off to Be the Wizard' isn't just a cute cover with a catchy title. It's a good story with a surprisingly thought provoking premise. If you've ever attended a comic con, PAX or something like it, then I think this title is right up your alley.  

*Proverbially of course - I can't go hurling my Kindle against a wall. It might break, and then I'd be sad. 

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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Fan-fiction: Formal Apology

In yesterday's post I gave an F to the entire genre of fan-fiction and I would like to publicly admit that I was wrong. I was reminded by Sean Huxter, friend and author of Loose Change, The Black Blade, and (illustrative to his point) Doctor Who fan comic, The Second Key that I don't in fact hate all fan fiction.

In fact I love some Doctor Who fan fiction - it's fun, quirky and more importantly, there's plenty of believable space in the world of the Doctor for this kind of writing to make sense.

I'm still pretty sure I hate everything else, though, or is there something else I'm forgetting here? Sound off in the comments below!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Rambling Thoughts on Fan-Fiction

Like many of the mistakes I talk about here on T.T.P, this one started off with a television obsession. Namely, the CW's Vampire Diaries - a teenage vampire, night time soap opera, which would be terrible if not for the fact that I, for the sake of honesty will admit, absolutely love. I was sold on it from the first episode and in classic style, managed to chew through an entire catalog of the 120 episodes currently available in little over three weeks. I should be embarrassed but I did it, so no harm in admitting it now I suppose.

I'm not telling you this to persuade you into the same demented marathon watching I engaged in, but to convey how deeply engrossed I'd become. I was a lost cause. Have an hour to kill? Throw on another episode! Start a new book? Nah... I'll just stay up until 2 AM and finish up season three, thanks. Let's just say it was an unhealthy addiction and after that kind of binge let's just say that withdrawal ain't easy.

So I did what I've always done - I sought out the books it was based on. Well, that was mistake number one because at least where T.V.D. is concerned those books are so incredibly different that it's hard to consider them as even occupying the same relative spaces. For starters, characters not only look entirely different but act differently as well. We aren't talking substituting a tertiary character for another or an eye color on a protagonist here. No, the TV show is a full blown re-imagining of a crappy novel that shares little more than some names while it loosely borrows a few plot points. Without the original to fall back on, I made what I now recognize as being the worst move of all - I downloaded some fan-fiction.

Ah, fan-fiction. An entire arm of literature born from adoring fans who can't be sated on the original content of a book, movie or television show alone. No. These rabid followers go one step further and feel like the only way to express their love is by taking creative control of the characters. In some cases it's to 'fix' a plot point that they felt was handled poorly and write up an alternative ending. In some cases it's a way to keep the story going for themselves and their group of like minded readers. In all cases, I can't stand the stuff. I knew this.

I downloaded it anyway...

...and it only took a page for me to realize what kind of train wreck I'd made myself audience to.

But did I stop? Of course I didn't! I read all thirty three pages of some of the most poorly written garbage I'd ever had the misfortune of laying eyes on*. Just know that every missed capitalization of a proper noun, every misuse of the words their, they're and there, every grotesque editing error was noticed. Pile that onto a story that was, for lack of a better description, absolutely freaking terrible, and I was shaken. How could this exist? Not all fan-fiction is this bad is it?

Well, I'm here to tell you that it is. Not based on this one title alone. Oh no, no, no my dears, I wouldn't ever make such a sweeping judgment of an entire genre based on one title and that's because when this one turned out to be so terribly pathetic I read three more. Yes. Three. All by different authors mind you. Every single one was a steaming pile of literary poo.

You probably think I'm a bit crazy, and while that's probably a true statement, this venture through Kindle Worlds did do two things for me. The first was that it cured me of my T.V.D. addiction, (at least enough so I'll be sated with the new weekly episode). The second? Well, this adventure has shown me the darkest depths of the Kindle store. Thankfully, I recognized it as a mistake early on and managed to escape relatively quickly. But do yourself a favor - if you ever find yourself with an itch you think that only fan-fiction can scratch you'll probably be better off sitting down and writing your own. Not only will you get the story you want, but with the bar set so incredibly low, you can kick it over to Amazon and make yourself a few bucks in the process.

This belongs to the entire genre of fan-fiction.
Be gone, foul beast!
*In an effort to be kind I'm not going to mention the author or title of the work here, just know that I didn't stumble into the Kindle store and download the first thing I saw. I took my time and downloaded one of the highest rated titles with a ton of glowing reviews. Outside of that, my only criteria was that it was based on the television program and not a spin out from the book characters which turned out to be the easiest part of the whole thing: Turns out I'm not the only person whose absolutely revolted by the books but loves the program. Go figure.

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