GARDENING WITH GUNS by AJ WOOTTON is a memoir which delves into the relationship between the author’s rocky childhood and her present-day struggles. We meet Amber as she gets a great job and goes on vacation with her family. Things take a quick turn for the worse when Amber’s beloved father’s body is found–suicide. While dealing with this significant blow, Amber ponders traumas from her childhood, compares her relationships with her absent father and abusive stepfather, and parses out her many tumultuous relationships—all while wondering if her past might dictate her future, knowing that her spousal relationship is also on the rocks.
Although this is billed as a memoir, I’d say it reads more as a memoir-within-a-memoir, with the loose threads of the current day events—the death of a family member, followed by the arrangements for the funeral and resulting small family dramas—connecting the real meat of this book: the author’s deep dive into scenes from her childhood, some of which have had effects on her she has yet to realize. The prose reads like a stream of consciousness, which is sometimes an asset: it does make you feel like you are sitting inside the author’s head, listening to her own thoughts as she notices details and pulls apart her memories. The book does a good job of delving into the complexity of dark human drama—divorce, infidelity, suicide, abuse—while giving front stage to the inner motivations which drive our actions. The first few chapters feel like a cozy memoir, as the author chummily guides you through interviews and family vacations as one would a close friend. While some of her stories tend to ramble a bit, the author provides such detail in her work that it is impossible to get lost amidst the narratives. The importance of every scene included may be questionable, as it occasionally veers into redundancy; and the timelines can be confusing, as in at least one case we learn to live with a character and then, later on in the narrative, “meet” him. However, it falls together as a deeply-felt memoir; it is impossible to read this without feeling one knows the author extremely intimately. As the author weaves through her life as an abused child, an entrepreneurial tween, a self-conscious teenager and beyond, it’s clear that the heart of the story is the author’s relationships: those with her father, step-father, mother, siblings, friends, husband, and, ultimately, herself.
Pages: 386 | ASIN: B07KT98NQR
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A Guardian Falls starts soon after the events of the first novel, with Mara’s betrothed recovering from his injuries after she rescued him from her father’s killer. What direction did you want to take this novel that was different from book 1 in the series?
I wanted Mara to grow as a character into the heroine everyone needs her to be. In the first book she started off as an immature teen and at the beginning of this book there are notes of that too. I had a reader tell me recently she really didn’t like Mara at the beginning of this book because she was so unsure of herself and treated Kess poorly. But as more responsibility is placed on her Mara rises to the occasion.
At the time this book was written I also did not intend to write another book in this series so I wanted to end the story. Magical artifacts and other races gave me the perfect opportunity for all out war instead of single combat between Mara and Laran. Finally, and this is a spoiler alert, I was able to take Mara’s relationship with Kess to a whole new level.
Mara doubts herself and her destiny throughout the novel, but this makes for a more realistic character. Can you relate to Mara? Was there anything taken from your life that you put into your characters?
I wrote the first draft of this novel when I was a teenager myself. I was young and awkward and I had just lost my dad. Everything I knew was changing around me. Mara mirrors all my insecurities as I navigated the end of high school, a relationship with my boyfriend (who is now my husband) and starting college. She shows my triumphs at those times as well. When you read Mara’s life in a way you are reading mine.
One thing I thought you did well was writing both in-depth dialogue scenes and epic battle sequences. How do you balance both to create an engaging narrative?
I always think of my books like movies. I see the scenes in my head and try to write them that way. For me words should never be static, they should have a life of their own. When done properly you really aren’t reading at all; you’re watching a movie in your head. I’m sure it seems crazy to some but it’s how I read books as well.
I always try to write something I would like to read and aspire to have a great fantasy series. I keep those books and movies in mind when writing and try to emulate those writers. I don’t have a formula on how I write a novel simply because I hate formulas. When I’m writing I try to keep myself intersted in a project. If I’m getting bored so is my reader. I like plot twists and action so whenever I feel the momentum in the book slow it’s time to spice it up. I always have a general plan for a novel. The question is always how I get there.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
The next novel I am working on is the next book in this series with a working title of Descendants Rising: Chronicles of the Coranydas Vol 3. I am aiming for a February 2018 release date and the fourth book should be released later in 2018. I am also writing a short story that will be featured in HallowErotica 2017 due out this Halloween. It is a first person narrative of Nisha Patel’s life before she met Alexandria Diego in For Their Sins.
All looks bleak when Mara is forced to return home after her love’s brush with death. She only has one magical artifact and the army seems out of reach. The consequences should she fail or even succeed finally set in and Mara has doubts about everything. There will be a war of blades and magic with Mara at the center, but Mara wonders if she has the strength to survive.
Posted in Interviews
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A Guardian Falls by Rebecca Tran is a fantasy novel and the second book in the Chronicles of the Coranydas series. In the first novel, we are introduced to our main character Mara, who is seeking revenge after watching her father’s murder. She gives up her privileged lifestyles in order to seek justice. The second starts soon after the events of the first novel, with Mara’s betrothed recovering from his injuries after she has rescued him from her father’s killer, and her self-doubt in her abilities to finish what she has started.
The novel starts well, with a good re-introduction of characters and an update in the current situation. Tran’s writing is easy to follow, and you’re given a sense of the characters as soon as you meet them. Mara is also a likeable main character, and one of the reasons for this is that she is not a perfect or even confident lead. She doubts herself and her destiny throughout the novel, but all this makes for a more realistic and endearing character. It is much easier to empathize with a character who is self-critical and questions themselves, and this makes for an enjoyable read. Mara’s relationships also makes her more likeable. Her relationship with Kess is sweet and you find yourself invested in it – the novel starts with them having been in an argument, but their quick reconciliation is a subtle way to show you the strength of their relationship.
One thing the author does well is her ability to write both long scenes of in-depth dialogue between two characters and epic battle sequences. Both of these will hold your attention, and flow easily. The dialogue is good, and anything the characters say is believable and feels like a true conversation. Similarly, any action is written well, and is not too over the top.
The only problem I found with this novel is the amount of characters there are. It can sometimes be hard to follow so many characters in one book, and occasionally things can become muddled and you start to feel you’re in information overload. However, this does not affect the enjoyability of the novel to a high degree, but it is something you need to concentrate more on as you read.
Overall, this is a well balance book, with a good degree of both action and dialogue that is paced well. You will enjoy both the action sequences and the calmer, more character driven moments. The characters are strong, and our main character is likeable and relatable. The plot is interesting pushed along by some thrilling twists. If you are looking for a good fantasy read then you can’t go wrong with this one.
Pages: 394 | ASIN: B072LJV5Z5
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