Sunday, February 25, 2018

ABRACADABRA on a Free Promo!

Abracadabra: The Witchcraft Academy is on a Free Promotion today and tomorrow!
Grab a free copy now and don't forget to tell me what you thought of it.

http://bit.ly/abracadabra1


This is a very special book for me. I worked a year on it, and it's the hardest book I've ever written. Turns out that the hardest thing for an author is to create a whole new world with its laws, economy, education, transportation, fashion, and of course its inhabitants. When there are all kinds of creatures living in your world from elves to dwarves, from humans to dryads, you have to devote a lot of time to each of them, otherwise your world won't seem complete. And so I did. I've tried to create a beautiful world full of wonders and magic, and hope very much my readers will love it as much as I do.
There's so much I want to tell about Abracadabra, but right now I'll leave you with the first book, and I'll go work on the second one, where I have to create another part of the magical world, with its own laws and dwellers.
Have a great time at the Witchcraft Academy!
Your loving witch,
Irena

Friday, February 23, 2018

The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman

The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, #2)The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After the fantastic first book this seems to have been written by someone else. What happened? Why was Golden Compass followed with such a slow-moving and hard-to-get-into story? And why was bratty but fun Lyra swapped with boring Will? I liked Lyra as a character, and my main complaint is that in the second book she stopped being the protagonist. Will came, and Will isn’t even half as fun as Lyra was. It’s like we left Bilbo Baggins somewhere in Mirkwood and followed one of the least interesting dwarves.
Another problem was the pacing. It was slow. And the worlds had become less interesting than they were in the first book. Sometimes it seemed that the author had no idea where he was going.
After the fantastic first book the second one was seriously lacking. I feel heartbroken.
I hope that the third part will be an improvement and Lyra will become the main character again.


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Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

NeverwhereNeverwhere by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Something has to be seriously wrong with me, because I can’t get into Neil Gaiman’s books. He’s the master, one of the best, his writing is excellent, but his books do nothing to me. It’s like going on a date with this gorgeous guy everyone has been talking about and pining for, and feeling nothing. Staring into his bottomless eyes and thinking about ending the date ASAP and getting back home to the not-so-perfect, “independently published” guy who somehow manages to make my heart beat faster.
I didn’t like a single thing about Neverwhere, and most of all I didn’t care about the not-so-smart and whiny protagonist, who sat down and began to cry instead of fighting for his life. I don’t even remember what the story was about, so little I cared for it during the reading. Such a shame!
Coraline, American Gods, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Trigger Warning, Neverwhere… I’ve tried and I’ve failed. I still have the “Anansi Boys” on my Kindle. One day I’ll brace myself up and give it a try.


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The Genesis Code by John Case

The Genesis CodeThe Genesis Code by John Case
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I can see why this book would be a bestseller when it had just come out. For the 90s it was probably groundbreaking. In 2017 it didn’t leave a big impression on me.

Spoilers ahead!!

A scientist has cloned Jesus Christ, using the ancient relics, many of which were fake, but still, one might have been the real one. And it did, because one of the many children born with the help of that doctor in the end turns out to be a clone of Jesus. What was his name? Jessie. What was his mommy’s name? Mary. That’s right, Jessie and Mary. This kind of coincidences make me roll my eyes. Also, Jessie is a very kind boy, a possible leader and loves fish. This is actually the last page of the book. The other 400 were filled with action, murder, running away from bad guys and a lot of bad or stupid decisions by the main hero. I still don’t understand why the bad guys from the bad church wanted to kill the cloned children. So what if one of them might have been a clone of Jesus, what would that change?
I think I’m being too harsh with this book. Actually it wasn’t bad. It was quite entertaining, even though the ‘cloning-Jesus’ part was obvious from the very, VERY beginning, therefore there wasn’t a big revelation for me when the truth was found out by the characters some 350 pages later.
For the genre lovers this will be a great read. For me it was a bit of letdown. I was never a Da’Vinci Code lover, but even I once in a while like to read something for pure entertainment and fast action.


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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

The Paper Magician (The Paper Magician Trilogy, #1)The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a lovely book! It’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed a YA fantasy so much. The Paper Magician is absolutely adorable and I enjoyed every single page. It was beautifully written, with a fast pacing and a very interesting approach toward magic. It was like reading about magical origami, and I love making origami so much!
I don’t think I’ll be reading the sequels, but I thoroughly enjoyed The Paper Magician. It was a quick, fast read that left me with a smile on my face.
Recommended for anyone who loves cute little tales about magic and magicians.

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Infinite by Jeremy Robinson

InfiniteInfinite by Jeremy Robinson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

4.5 stars.
When I can’t get a book out of my mind after finishing it, then the author has done something right. Infinite is an outstanding sci-fi novel. The author has put a lot of hard work into it and it shows. Infinite is well thought and well written. It’s a book about humanity and desperation, loneliness and hope, and about our desire to love and be loved.
Interestingly the blurb doesn’t do justice to the book. I didn’t really want to read it, but it had been a while since I had read a sci-fi book and I had missed the genre. I have to admit that it took me forever to finish the book. I’ve read a lot of long books, but with Infinite it seemed that I felt each and every one of those 400 pages. There was a moment in the middle when I didn’t want to go on anymore. I’m happy that I persevered.
is the story of Will, who’s one of the two last humans in the universe (the other one is in a cryo sleep). Will is alone on a faster-than-light spaceship traveling into the depths of the cosmos. Will encounters a lot of crazy adventures, and many times I thought to myself that maybe everything happening to Will wasn’t real, that unknowingly, he was inside an experiment, that he was being tested. I thought that if the author did something like that I’d throw my kindle into the wall.
Will’s journey reminded me of the dreams I have sometimes, about a spaceship with a sole survivor heading into nothingness, reaching the edge of the universe. Maybe that’s why the book has left such an impact on me. I loved the problematic AI, loved the parts with the evil AI, loved the idea of a 2-D planet and that the universe is a coded simulation, loved the part of the humanless Earth inhabited by strange creatures, of the Antarctica that had turned into Eden, of the blood-chilling adventure on the planet that was inhabited by crazy dwarves… And when Will woke up and the whole 370 pages turned out to be a simulation in a virtual reality I seriously thought about throwing my kindle into the wall. I stopped reading the book and couldn’t get back to it for a few minutes. But I did eventually, and I loved the ending. I seriously loved this book; I won’t ever forget it.


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The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, #1)The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One of the best and most original books I have read in a long time. I couldn’t get enough of it. Everything about The Golden Compass is perfect. There are very few books that I’m ready to reread, and this is one of them.

The Golden Compass tells the story of Lyra, a girl who lives in a parallel world, which is very much like our world, but different at the same time. Lyra was a real brat, sometimes obnoxious, other times a pain in the neck, but I liked her a lot. She was fun. Like a friend of mine who had taken me on a journey of a lifetime.

Really, I can’t praise this book enough. There are a lot of stories out there that repeat the ones we have read many times already (you hear me, Irena Davidian?), but The Golden Compass stands on its own. If you are a fantasy lover, then you need to check this book out. The plot is truly unique, the characters interesting and memorable. The names were fantastic: witch leader Serafina Pekkala was probably my favorite.
And I will never forget Iorek Byrinson and the fires of Bolvangar.


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Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #1)Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was beautiful, and I mean it. Laini's writing is mesmerizing. Check out my reviews, I'm quite frugal when it comes to praising an author's writing. Daughter of Smoke and Bone has to be one of the most beautifully written books I've ever read. I can only dream to write like this. When the writing is so good you don't even feel like reading. This was like watching a movie, and god, was this movie beautifully shot!
Now the story. I was pleasantly surprised as I was expecting something totally different. Something sappy and boring. But the book started with a blast. It was awesome. I was loving every bit of the story... until it turned into a romance. It's not the book though, it's me. I don't like flawless and eye-hurtingly beautiful characters. And I don't like it when all they do is falling in love with each other's beauty.
The book was so brilliant, I was ready to forgive the romance part, until the romance was all that there was. Still, I'm not sorry for reading it. I may not check the sequels of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone, but I'm happy for having read it. I love monsters, all their kinds, and god, the book was full of them, each one better than the other.
Highly recommended for romantic fantasy lovers.

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Pavilion of Women: A Novel of Life in the Women's Quarters by Pearl S. Buck

Pavilion of Women: A Novel of Life in the Women's QuartersPavilion of Women: A Novel of Life in the Women's Quarters by Pearl S. Buck
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Definitely, an unusual book. I’ve always been fascinated with China, but had never read a book that would go deep into details about its people and culture. Also, I had never heard of Pear S. Buck and had no idea she was a Noble prize winner. After I read her book, I can see why she’d get an NP. She’s an amazing writer.

The Pavilion of Women might be boring at times, but when the book characters visit me in my dream at night, then the book has left an impression on me. And it did leave a big impression. Madame Wu, the main character, seemed weird at first. She brought a young concubine for her husband who adored her and didn’t want another woman in a country where concubinage and polygamy were common. She denied physical contact with him. I couldn’t understand her motives. I considered her a total fool, but little by little the picture became clear. I won't spoil the book for those who haven't read it, but this was one of the most interesting changes in a book character I had ever encountered.

Keep in mind that the people in this book are different. Everything is different. This was like getting into a time machine and having a trip to the other side of the world, then becoming a fly on the wall of a wealthy Chinese family. This is why I love reading good books by talented authors. They take you on an unforgettable journey at no price.
Pavilion of Women was an interesting journey and definitely left a big impression on me.


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The Haunting Of Winchester Mansion by Alexandria Clarke

The Haunting Of Winchester Mansion (The Haunting Of Winchester Mansion, #0)The Haunting Of Winchester Mansion by Alexandria Clarke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book wasn't really scary, but I got attached to the characters, which rarely happens to me, and read it till the end. It's a prequel that ends with a cliffhanger. No one likes it when a book ends with a cliffhanger, but I got all three books for free, so it doesn't anger me much :))) I'll be reading the second book to see how it's all going to end. As with all haunted house stories, this one features mysterious deaths, and who doesn't like a good detective ghost story?
As I said already this book isn't very scary, it's more like a Supernatural episode (Winchester Mansion, wink, wink), but I used to like Supernatural, and will dedicate a few hours of my time to The Haunting of Winchester Mansion. I hope I'm not going to end up disappointed.

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The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

The MiniaturistThe Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Fascinating. Beautifully written. I love the way Jessie Burton writes, and will probably buy her other book, too. Her writing flows like a river without obstacles, it's smooth and even, and her outstanding research added even more colors to her already beautiful writing.
The story though wasn't my cup of tea. I still can't understand what was the purpose of this book. What was the story about? I'll try to keep the review spoiler-free, so won't go into details, but I didn't care for the story. Never once. And I didn't care for the characters. This was Amsterdam in the 17th century, but the characters, especially the main heroine, acted too modern to be believable.
The ending didn't give any closure to the story. The mystery was never really resolved. It seemed as if after 400 pages the story was just beginning. There were a couple of good twists, but the rest was rather predictable.
Overall, I'll advise this book to those who want to learn to write in English, but to me the story wasn't memorable.

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Monday, February 5, 2018

I Will Review Your Self-Published Books

I'm so sad for us, indie authors, but I know why it's happening. I was googling book reviewers, and it turns out most of them are not accepting self-published books anymore. The reason is the low quality of SP novels. And yes, it's true. Not always, but most of the time indie authors publish badly written, badly plotted, badly edited and badly formatted books.
And no one wants our books, because people want to enjoy their reading time, not trudge through a low quality novel. It's their right. 
In the last few years I have started and abandoned midway a lot of books, something I had never done in my entire life. Most of those books had been on a free promotion. And I have another 300 books on my Kindle that I've got during free promos. I know I won't be finishing most of them.

But there are authors among the indies, who are incredible, who have fantastic books. And they all need to get started from somewhere. So, I've decided to find those indies and help them get their first reviews. I know I'll have to go through a lot of mediocre books, but I've recently finished my new book and have a bit of free time.

If you want me to review your book, leave a comment under this post. Please DO NOT email me. Leave a comment about your book. If it's published, post the URL.

I am doing this to support the indie authors, which means I won't be giving your book less than 3 stars.
Does this mean I am going to give 4 and 5 stars left and right just because I want to support indies? Of course not. It would be dishonest. If I feel I can't give your book more than 3 stars I will tell you. If you still want me to post my negative review (can't believe someone will, but who knows?) then I'll post it.

1. Your book needs to be edited
I know that good editors cost a lot, and that the indies cannot afford them, but you either have to find someone with a reasonable price, or edit your book yourself. Don't tell me it's impossible. If necessary, go through your book 100 times, but find the typos. I've done that, and you can, too. One or two typos is okay, but 100 is a disaster.

2. Your book needs to be properly formatted
I hate unformatted books with wrong indents, margins, and chapters. If you don't know how to format a book in MS Word, message me. I'll explain you everything, or might even format your book for you FREE of charge.

3. Get a good cover
Designers are expensive, so go to istock websites and search for beautiful images. Some will cost you just $5-10.

If you can't do this much, then you're not ready to be an author. 

4. You shouldn't have a lot of reviews
If your book has more than 20 reviews, then please DO NOT contact me. Better choose a promo website.

5. No romance
Please, DON'T. I don't read romance. NEVER.

6. I will post my review ONLY on Amazon.com.


That's all, folks! Good luck!