Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Susan Reid Guest Post

Divinity the Gathering Book One
By Susan Reid

       There are many dimensions and realms within the Universe. We as humans exist in the mortal realm. In the spirit realm, however, an hourglass has been turned over — and the darkness within waits to take it from us. Many people have either caught glimpses, or have heard voices that echo from time to time, without an explanation. There are those that hear and see them all of the time.
They are chosen.
        The spirit realm is all around us, and there are millions of dark beings who constantly watch— and listen. They wait to hurt, destroy, kill, and ultimately enslave. But humans are resilient.
Divine warriors are the Marines of the spirit realm. They are chosen by the divine, to battle the darkness and protect the free will and lives of regular mortals from the sinister darkness.
Being chosen is a destiny, and just as we have no power to choose who we are, how we were created, and where we came from, we do have to power to choose light or dark.
       This is both the reality and dilemma that has been handed to college sophomore, Starling Roberts. She is like many others that have been chosen. Will she accept it or will she give in and surrender to the strengthening dark forces, as the end of the mortal world draws near?

       My creative flow and motivations can hit me at any moment, so I tend to keep a notebook or small recorder with me at all times. I find that most of my imagination is spurred after either seeing a great movie, or reading an awesome book in one of my favorite genres. Music is definitely a catalyst. I listen to music often when I write, because it allows me set up the story line, get a feel for the personality of my characters, and set up the make-believe places. I daydream a lot about the possibilities of aliens and things like cryptids and ghosts, all of which have never been disproven, so there is always a chance that it either exists — or is a possibility. I take those ideas and create an outline, and then do the research to add a hint of realism into the idea or fantasy theme that I’m looking to establish. I don’t write when I’m not feeling it, and sometimes that can extend to a few weeks at a time. I find that if I force myself to do it, those scenes tend to end up, chopped.
       A combination of observation, dreams and a vivid imagination of any and everything mysterious or questionable about the world around us has always been the perfect recipe for why I absolutely love genres such as fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and even horror. I love the idea of a bad guy with the small propensity or given some kind of motivation to do good or the right thing. Turning monsters or supernatural beings into a relatable character and losing yourself in a world that may or may not exist beyond our own is the best escape I can think of when reading or watching a movie. Love and romance are all elements that bring it all together, and even not so happy endings sometimes make a good story too. I’m a huge horror genre fan too, but I’m the biggest chicken there is, which is why I only tend to read horror books rather than watch the movies. I think when you see something visually; it tends to leave a more lasting imprint than simply reading words.

       The compulsion to write Divinity the Gathering, came from a repetitive dream that I kept having about what appeared to me, to be the end of the world. At first, it was meant to be just one book, but after I had finished creating each character, how they interacted with one another, what they were going through and ultimately striving for, I knew there was no way I could end it all in only one book.
       When I finally wrote down the details of my dream, I saw a story in it. That was when I created Starling and began writing the story around her. I wanted to know how a young girl, who has dealt with tragedy all her life and had no firm belief in religion or miracles, would handle seeing demons, escaping their pursuits and surviving their attacks — not knowing that she was destined for something far greater in her next life. After that, the dreams actually stopped. I’m a very spiritual person and I always take omens like that seriously.
       I also incorporated my own personal experiences, having seen many unexplainable things like both seeing shadows and hearing strange things myself for many years. In those dreams, I was always watching from a third person perspective, which is where the character of Starling began to develop and came about.

       The themes in the Divinity Saga books not only center around the ideas of darkness versus light, good versus evil, Morning Star’ attempt to rule the Earth, and Angels and Demons through both a Divine Warriors eyes, but through a Fallen Angels eyes as well. It is centered on the coming invasion of the darkness that waits to claim and rule Earth. There are all sorts of beings in the spirit realm and of course both Angels and Demons but it is by no means meant to be serious, heavy or dark. In fact, it has both humor and romance in it. The ultimate question of “What would you do in this situation?” Was the main theme I wanted to keep going, when setting up the plots, which is why I decided to write it in the first person voice of both of the main characters, Starling and Cam`ael, a fallen Incubus.

After a vivid recurring dream has her shaken. Starling begins dealing with the unknown and the continuing aggressive assault on her by both the shadows and demons, who are trying to kidnap her into the spirit realm.
       There is something about unique her though, she is different than all other divine warriors, which is what she is destined to become. Divine warriors are a chosen army of people chosen at birth to fight on the side of light against the darkness. Starling is a college sophomore who struggles between deciding if college is even worth it because of her recurring nightmares about the end of the world. Having to fend off the dark forces that have begun to assault her in their quest to claim her for Morning Star doesn’t help her faith much either.
 She has no idea that she has been chosen, which means to become immortal and part of the Divine Army that will go head to head with the Fallen, darkness and Morning Star when they all begin to invade Earth. Though she can see the shadows and beings from the spirit realm, as she has all her life, she is unaware of her own destiny but has always believed in things of the supernatural because she has been able to see the shadows. Cam`ael is a Fallen angel, an Incubus actually, and though he lusts for her physically, he also knows what she is destined to become, and what it will all mean. Drakael is the angel who has come to her aide. He knows the intent of Cam`ael, and vows to keep him from her.

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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Rippler by Cidney Swanson

Samantha Ruiz has a freak gene that makes her turn invisible, or ripple. She can't control it, and it's getting worse. Afraid of becoming a lab-rat, Sam keeps her ability secret, until fellow runner Will Baker sees her vanish into thin air. Will promises secrecy and help, and Sam begins to fall in love. 
Together, the two discover there are worse things than being a scientific curiosity. Someone's been killing people who possess Sam's gene. A mysterious man from France sends letters that offer hope for safety, but also reveal a sinister connection with Nazi experiments. 
The more time Sam spends with Will, the less she can imagine life without him. When Sam uncovers secrets from her past, she must choose between keeping Will in her life or keeping Will safe. 

I try not to review a lot of YA books, because I tend to have rather strong reactions to them, either I love them a lot or I hate them. I was really happy to find that I really did enjoy this book from beginning to end. 

To start with I would say the writing in this book is really good in terms of flow, so readers will really enjoy the experience. The book just had a really nice kind of pace to it, I never felt like I had to rush to finish it (and then of course miss out on things because I read to fast), but I also didn't feel like the book was dragging or getting boring. So it was a nice pace, especially for the YA crowd. 

Another thing I feel like i have to mention is that the dialogue is pretty good. A common problem I have found in YA books is that you have a bunch of adult writers trying to write to either appeal to a younger demographic or to actually write a younger character, and it doesn't always come off right. I have to say this was pretty good dialogue. It was enjoyable, easy to follow, and didn't feel like it was trying to hard. 

As for the characters, I enjoyed reading both Sam and Will. Sam is a smart girl, but more than that she is tough. She has been through a lot, and of course is dealing with a lot with her condition, so she is a strong girl. I also liked that Will was also a smart guy, he's definitely quick on his feet. And the two of them together are definitely cute. 

As for the down side of the book, I can say the only thing I felt was lacking from the book was that I wish there was a bit more action in it. I hope that as the series progresses there will be more action in the books, but in this one I did wish there was a bit more. That being said, if you like YA books then I think you will enjoy reading this one.