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Interviewing author Reina Salt

graveyard bluesI’m not really sure how Graveyard Blues ended up on my phone.

Abandoning one slow read in the summer of 2012, I scanned through my downloads for something more suited my macabre mood. I didn’t expect to find anything; after all, I’d only downloaded a dozen books and I’d read most of them.

But I found Graveyard Blues, and I was captivated from its very first word straight through its final ones. My June 2012 review was glowing:

As a lifelong reader of horror, I’ve come to expect that most horror will neither actually scare me nor stick with me after I’ve finished reading it. It’s exhilarating to find a horror novel that engages me from its first pages and only gets better as it goes. Graveyard Blues is such a novel.

Hettie and Henry, the book’s protagonists, are some of the most memorable characters I’ve encountered not just in horror but in fiction. They’re very real, very funny characters with whom I’d be happy to travel even if the story itself weren’t so engaging. But let’s be clear: the story is compelling.

When its protagonists came up against obstacles at every turn, I found myself holding my breath and hoping all would turn out well for them . . . even if, as the story progressed, that seemed an increasingly unlikely outcome.

The end more than satisfied. Best of all, it’s not so much an end as a resting point. I normally prefer standalone books, but THIS is a series to which I’ll happily return.

It’s both my pleasure and honor to be interviewing Graveyard Blues author Reina Salt today.

reina salt

Have you always felt compelled to write? If not, what inspired you to pick up the proverbial pen?

Well, as I child, I wanted to be an artist when I grew up. Actually, that’s not entirely true — I wanted to be Indiana Jones and Elvira, but failing that, I wanted to make art. For years, I painted, but I didn’t have much by way of success. When the economy crashed, I was left unemployed at my day job, battling depression on a daily basis, and trying to find more ways to channel my creative energy to make some money. I taught myself to sew, and sold things I made to people around the world for a few years. I dabbled in writing in the past, but for a long time, it was just another tool for me to make art with; an unused paintbrush, if you will. That is, until my character Henry came to me in a very intense monologue which I use in his first scene. I tried to put it out of my head several times, but he remained, persistent, and getting louder. Writing wasn’t a conscience decision for me, so much as it was a compulsion. I was driven to write after being haunted by my own creations, as it were.

Read more…

The three-star rating rock

The Monster’s Daughter‘s rating went from 4.24 stars to 4.22 stars on Goodreads. “Sweet damn!” I exclaimed aloud. “That means another four-star rating!”

When I published the book two years ago, a four-star rating would’ve sent me into a downward spiral of mopiness. I wanted everyone in the entire world to read my book, and I wanted every single reader to give it five stars.

A lot can change in two years. (Don’t believe me? Ask the parent of a one-year-old.) My perspective as an author has certainly changed. I know not everyone wants to read an unromantic tale of moderately evil vampires. I know that some of those who might welcome such a tale want lots of staking with not so much teenage coming-of-age angst.

I’m glad for the change. Now, when I see someone has read my first novel, I cheer. It doesn’t matter if they gave it one star, or three stars, or five. My first response is, “Holy cow, somebody read my book, and they probably weren’t even at gunpoint!”

Don’t get me wrong. I do love those four- and five-star ratings. I thank the folks who give them, when I can.

Then I turn to my fiancee, Anthony, and say things like, “The Monster’s Daughter just got a four-star rating from someone whose rating average is 3.25! Score!”

My newfound perspective is one I wish I could package and distribute to new authors everywhere. There will almost certainly be bad reviews. You’ll learn from them. There will likely be good reviews, too, if you’ve done your homework. Those victories should be celebrated, each of them, because each means someone is reading what you wrote. Someone experienced your creation, and cared enough to document the experience.

That is sweet fuel for the stories to come, which will–as I am finding with my second novel–be all the better for the lessons learned in creating the first.

A book giveaway & a lot o’ reviewer love

Yesterday was an incredible day for reviews of my first novel, The Monster’s Daughter. 

In one review, a reader wrote:
If The Monster’s Daughter is read as simply a coming of age story for a heroic young woman (and you will have to read the book to see just how heroic she acts for I refuse to spoil it for you), you will love it.  If, however, you read it as an allegory for the life of an abused child and young woman, then you will find great satisfaction and perhaps even catharsis as you read this amazing first novel by author Deborah Bryan.  

In the book’s first iTunes review, another reader wrote:
This is the coolest vampire book I have read yet! I truly loved it! I never expected this book would tug at my heartstrings like it did. 

In the final review of the day, one reader wrote:
If you’re thinking that vampire stories are not for you, that’s okay. This book is much more than that. It is the story of a girl who overcomes many obstacles to find herself stronger and more capable than ever. 

Other reviews are available here, but you should only check those out after entering the book giveaway below! 

On December 19, 2011, I’ll give away a signed copy of The Monster’s Daughter and a $15 Amazon gift card to the first randomly drawn winner. A signed copy of The Monster’s Daughter will go to the second randomly drawn winner. If you live in the United States and would like a shot at winning one of these three copies, do at least one of the following prior to 12:00 AM Pacific Time December 19, 2011:

1. Send me an email with the subject: “Free books FTW!”
2. Tweet about this giveaway, mentioning @deb_bryan, and send me an email with the subject: “I tweeted it!”
3. Share this link on your blog and send me an email with the subject: “I blogged it!”
4. Share this link on Facebook and send me an email with the subject: “I pimped it on Facebook!” For an additional entry, tag my author page when you share the link.

If you’d like more than one shot at winning, do more than one of the following! You’ll be entered once for each of the above actions you take.

Y’all are winners in my eyes, but book winners will be announced by first name on or shortly after December 19, 2011.

And, reviewers? Mad love to you. For you I am so, so very thankful.

(c) 2011 Deborah Bryan. All rights reserved.
Duplication in whole or substantial portion is explicitly forbidden.

“Lyrical, Beautiful, Beastly and Brilliant!”

10/30/08,  a few hours into being 30

As I start to type this, my 20s are 38 minutes departed.

Now, for the first time, I say:
I’m 30.

I’ve looked forward to this birthday for years. Striving for Gandalf-like wisdom and awesomeness, I have dismayed in my youngness and lack of gray hairs. 

To answer your questions before you ask them, no. No, I do not possess a magical staff the likes of which to defeat mad, powerful, and mad powerful wizards with. No, I have never defeated a balrog. And finally, yes, 30’s a far cry from 400… 

…but it’s a step in the right direction!

I no longer wish to actually be Gandalf, but I remain excited by this birthday. I’m excited to know not only that I made it this far, which given my childhood was not a certainty, but that I made it. 

I haven’t just lived to 30, which alone would have stunned me half my life ago to foresee. I’ve lived.

5/24/11, about halfway between 32 and 33

Yesterday, author Rusty Fischer gave my novel The Monster’s Daughter a five-star review, the title of which I’ve borrowed for this entry.

Even if I’d navigated away after taking in the stars and the title, I would have been exuberant.

I absolutely did not stop with the title. That’s a good thing, too, because the review itself was even better. See, for example:

Often funny, majorly sad, equally scary and powerfully poignant, Ginny is such a great character; one of the most realistic I’ve read in YA fiction — and I’m not just talking YA vamp fiction, either! It struck me as I read The Monster’s Daughter how without the vampire parts it would still be a riveting, dark and lyrical tale of one dysfunctional family; almost any dysfunctional family.

To me, this said: Your book accomplished exactly what you hoped it would. That’s exhilarating stuff.

As I drove home twenty minutes later, I reflected on that review. I thought of how, because of my childhood, my hopes have always exceeded my expectations for my life.

Every time something wonderful happens, I recall my birthday letters to my friends. In those letters, I’ve thanked my friends for helping my life become more full of wonder by far than I ever allowed myself to believe it might. What could be a better time to reflect on the came-before and the yet-to-come than a birthday, after all?

My next birthday email will include a few new bullets. As I type out those bullets one October to come, I’ll be thinking of where I came from. Where I’m going. All the people whose actions and words have helped get me there. And I’ll be thankful, as always, for people taking time out to lend a hand or share a kind word. It’s those graces that get me through the hard times . . . and make the already good ones, those such as I am blessed to live right now, a millionfold brighter.

ETA: I’ve added a few date references to clarify it’s not actually my birthday today, though this entry refers to a personal birthday tradition. I’m loving the preview of the warm wishes I can expect for my 33rd birthday! :)

My LibraryThing review of ABHoM

A couple of months ago, a friend sent a short list of recommended YA reads. On this list was A Brief History of Montmaray, with the note: “I don’t normally go in for princesses but this one is pretty awesome.” I’ve never been interested in princesses, either, so the note piqued my curiosity. What would make a princess interesting to me?

A Brief History of Montmaray, apparently!

Sophia, whose journal entries comprise this brief history, is one of several princesses of the island of Montmaray. The eldest princess, Sophia’s cousin Veronica, is daughter of the current–not-quite-sane–King John. Sophia’s sister is the youngest princess (who’d rather be a prince, thank you very much); her brother, the prince, is away studying in England. As the number of villagers grows increasingly sparse, the girls must manage the castle virtually on their own.

Even before Nazi-related trials and tribulations enter the story, it’s a captivating tale of survival, humor and grace. The girls matter-of-factly face a unique set of circumstances that, to them, are simply ordinary life. Each girl is so vibrantly portrayed and so realistic, I felt increasingly as I turned the pages they were good friends I’ve known my whole life. Part of this might be a testament to how deeply I relate to their circumstances, given that I was one of four siblings who survived childhood despite poverty, isolation and a parental figure whose mental illness made her more of a parental figurehead than a parent in some regards. Mostly, though, I think it’s Michelle Cooper’s compassionate, loving, poignant depiction of each of the girls and all the other characters of this stunning novel.

When everything goes awry even by the girls’ standards, the book becomes impossible to set down. (It was merely “extremely difficult” before.) I plowed through the last 100 pages this morning before my son awakened. I rejoiced at the book’s beautiful conclusion, which so comforts me given how it mirrors my own life questions at the moment, and also at the fact there are more Montmaray books waiting to be devoured by me. If only I’d checked them out preemptively!

If you don’t enjoy princess tales, you might nevertheless enjoy this princess tale, and the fiercely independent, precocious princesses who make it such a beautiful, delightful tale of survival.

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