Saturday, September 27, 2014

Eye of Persuasion by Adrienne Monson - Book Review

I picked up this book whilst sharing a booth at SLC Comic Con from my fellow author and long time friend, Adrienne Monson. We were there as members of the Utah Fantasy Authors (UFA) branch of the League of Utah Writers (LUW). There were ten other authors involved in the UFA booth besides Adrienne and myself, everyone with a book or two to sell. Although I've only read a few of the books that we were offering in the booth I only took home two of them. One of them was Monson's new novella "Eyes of Persuasion" a historical romance with a fantasy twist thrown in for good measure.

Synopsis: When her parents are murdered, Lady Maybrick is taken in by an abusive uncle to help pay his gambling debt. But Isabeau has a secret, a talent hidden since birth. Her gift helps to keep her out of the whorehouse and out of trouble--that is, until she meets Everett Radcliff. Hard working Everett Radcliff detests high society and finds plenty of excuses to avoid it. But when he meets Lady Maybrick, he can't help but be enthralled by her violet eyes. When he hires an investigator to uncover a crook, his path crosses with hers, throwing them into a world of mystery, murder, and, surprisingly, love.

The Pros: "Eyes of Persuasion" is a fast-paced, plot-driven easy read. Set in eighteenth century London, taking us everywhere from high society balls, to the dirty hustle of the shipping industry of London's port. This tale is well researched making the reader feel as though they've fallen through the pages back into time. This book begins like many a historical romances with a unique, yet unappreciated, high-born maiden forced into an engagement with a man she doesn't love, but has no choice but to marry. However, Isabeau Maybrick is no ordinary lady, as we find out within the first couple chapters. The author endeavors to deliver a fresh look at this era with a heroine who has not only a special gift but some modern day gumption. Fast-paced and unpredictable this book delivers some interesting twists that will pleasantly surprise readers.

The Cons: Although well-written with it's attention to the details and lingo of the era, the story felt rushed. This might be due in part to the fact that it is a novella and not a typical novel. It felt more plot driven then character driven, a pattern I noticed in Monson's other book, "Dissension" (book 1 in the Blood Inheritance Trilogy) Depending on the reader this may or may not be a bad thing. My issue is, that with the plot taking up the entirety of the book their is little time to develop characters or create emotional depth in even the most intense scenes. I struggled to connect even with the principle characters, Lady Maybrick and Everett Radcliff. Although I found their relationship somewhat entertaining, the story rushes their romance along too quickly. Personally, I feel that the book would've been greatly improved had it been a regular novel; giving the characters more time to grow and their relationship would also feel more genuine. As it is, I found that I wasn't invested enough in the characters to be drawn into the suspense of the story. Some of the secondary characters felt very under developed and somewhat two dimensional such as Isabeau's abusive gambling Uncle  Brig. Although he's not a huge part of the story, he's in it enough that I found his actions and motives puzzling because his character is never examined. He comes off more as a stereotype then a real character and this took me out of the story from time to time. The dialogue was a little weak here and there also taking me out of the action.

Overall the book is unpredictable and easy to read.  It's length and ever twisting plot combined with the setting makes it an entertaining escape for a rainy day. I give it four stars. A decent book executed fairly well. But, as always, don't just take my word for it, go out and read it yourselves!

Now go forth and pick up this book "Eyes of Persuasion" and come on back to share your thoughts with us when you're done.

Till next time,
R.J. Craddock

Friday, August 1, 2014

Divergent - Book to Movie Review

Could the world become so corrupt and devastated by war that all of society would break down and the only way to survive and rebuild would be to label everyone and divide them into factions to keep them in line and keep the peace? Apparently the author of Divergent, Veronica Roth, thinks so because that's exactly what happens in her best-selling young adult dystopian novel. 

Right after turning sixteen Beatrix Pryer is tested. This test is a simulation that will determine her true nature and the faction she should live in for the rest of her life. She's been raised to be an Abnegation, the faction that believes in selfless acts and putting others before themselves. But Beatrix isn't selfless like her parents or her brother; she isn't like the others of her faction. She longs to be fearless to be free and adventurous. She longs to be a member of Dauntless, the faction that believes in courage, strength, and conquering ones fears. She longs to be a warrior, a soldier. When she takes the test, however, her results are inconclusive. She is divergent, one who does not fit into just one faction, and thus is considered dangerous to their society. She is told to keep the truth about herself secret, and now has to decide all on her own which faction she should choose for the rest of her life. Should she be true to her own desires and follow her ambition to Dauntless or should she do what's expected of her and stay where it's save in Abnegation? Either way she has to leave something behind, her own dreams or her family. One choice can transform her forever!

Book Review: First off, I am not a Dystopian fan. The explanations of how modern society crumbles are either non-existent, vague, or riddled with flaws. Also, the reasoning behind why and how these new societies take shape rising from the ashes of the former governments are convoluted at best. I really don't see the point of a society in where you are only able to act on one aspect of your personality. Are they reasoning that having too much personality, too much freedom, is what destroyed the previous civilization and that's why this faction system is suppose to work? The concept is interesting but I have a hard time believing that most people would agree to this kind of a prejudice society. Essentially they're all labeled and put into little boxes where they have to stay for the rest of their lives. How would this make for a peaceful society? This would drive me insane! 

With that aside I was grateful to find that Beatrix has a personality. She is a complex person with more than one side to her, and struggles with this faction idea as much as I would. I found it interesting how she wasn't able to be labeled by the test and has to choose based on her own desires what she wanted to do the rest of her life. This is more true to real life and the decision we all make when we choose a profession or a major when we go off to college. The initiation into Dauntless from jumping onto the train to jumping off a building into a black hole that leads to who knows where drew me in and caught my imagination. I had no trouble putting myself into Beatrix's shoes and going through her struggles as if I was her. I mostly identified with her being a small girl who everyone assumed was weak and incompetent. I'm short myself and have always been independent. Yet because of my size people have always treated me as if I was incapable of doing anything physical. In ways Beatrix home faction reminds me a lot of my religion and the ideals we live by including: selflessness, service, and modesty. When she chooses to transform herself into Trix she has to face her fears and change her whole way of life, including becoming more comfortable with her body and herself. I like that although she gets a tattoo like everyone else in Dauntless they have meaning and purpose, not just something that looks cool. Ultimately, I rooted for her through it all and loved that her being Divergent gave her an advantage in some of her trails as she fought to become accepted into Dauntless. I loved that she doesn't let the actions and the perceptions of others stop her from conquering her shortcomings to become triumphant. 

Love interest wise I enjoyed the way this story unfolded. It happened naturally and gradually throughout the plot not side tracking from her personal journey or the action of the story. The love interest was a strong and interesting character. I found his attraction to Trix believable and his behavior practical, yet still romantic in nature. He was neither too flat or over written, which I think helped him feel more real. The tension between Trix and her rival initiates and her budding friendships were all well-written and believable. The ending was a bit rushed for me but still well done with a satisfying conclusion. 
Overall I really enjoyed this book despite its unrealistic concept and society. I found it easy to read, and hard to put down. Intense from beginning to end with an ending that was both satisfying yet left you wondering what’s next, making you feel like you needed to pick up book two right away. I would give it five stars and recommend it to people like me who don't like Dystopian or young adult. It's the kind of book most anyone could get into. 

Movie Review: Only a few days after finishing the book I went and saw the movie adaptation of the book. First off the movie is well done overall and enjoyable. However, I have a few complaints. 

First, in typical Hollywood fashion they went and cast, Shailene Woodley a tall actress to play Beatrix, a short character. It's not a big deal that they didn't cast a blonde, although I do believe that people often perceive blondes as naive, innocent, weak, or simple-minded, so being blonde was a big part of the character in the book. What really bothers me is that they took a strong-willed, short woman role and gave it to someone tall when there are plenty of talented short blonde actresses out there who could've done a far better job. Not That Woodley was terrible or anything, I just found that her inability to embody the actual character of the book distracted from the film itself. Beatrix's height was a huge part of why her victory was so poignant in the book. She goes from being the weakest, smallest, and most likely to fail to the top initiate in her training. It's a huge accomplishment because everyone treats her like she's too weak to keep up. Because she has to overcome her physical limitations her struggle is more realistic, her triumph more rewarding. They took that away from the character when they made her tall, even taller than her best friend Christina, who was stronger and bigger than her in the book. Also, the fact that Beatrix in the book was of a similar build to mine made her more relate-able for me, and was a huge part of why I loved her character. 

Second, they stayed pretty close to the book at first then went off on a completely different direction by the ending. In some ways this worked, in others it didn't. They also rushed through some vital scenes which made the story seem choppy. 

Third, they down played the villain characters, Eric and Peter, making them seem far less menacing then they had been in the book, losing their impact in the movie. They barely mentioned her friend, Albert, until later in the story so that when a key event happened it was less impactful because he wasn't as important to Beatrix. I also didn't like how they changed the relationship between Beatrix and her brother. When she goes to him for help in the book he was more considerate and understanding then he was in the movie. Also, he was key in helping solve the big mystery behind how the government would be overthrown in the book. In the movie he was not helpful at all, just a weak side character. 

Finally, the ending went off a little from where the book took it but ultimately gave us the same results with a Hollywood flare. In some ways I did like the movie ending better than the book. 

Overall the movie gets a four out of five star rating. Had they cast an actress better suited to the original character who had to overcome more and prove herself then I would've given it five stars. Otherwise the casting in the film was pretty spot on, with Theo James as the perfect Four, Ashley Judd and Tony Goldwyn as her parents, and Kate Winslet as the female villianess. The production value was excellent and it was all in all a descent adaptation. However, as is often the case, the book is definitely better than the film.

Now go forth, read the book watch the movie and have a great weekend! Till next time.

R.J. Craddock

Monday, June 30, 2014

Copper Descent by Angela Hartley - Book Review

“Copper Descent” is the tale of Nina Douglas, a Native American girl with a secret. She walks into the dream world, even though her mother forbids it. Nina and her family are the last of their tribe, their village destroyed by Sinuf, a dark god from before the beginning of time. Nina's mother is afraid that Sinuf will find Nina in the dream world and take control of her, turning her mysterious gifts into something dark and sinister. One night the dream world shows Nina a terrible vision of the future. Afraid her mother will be angry with her for walking into the dream behind her back, Nina keeps the vision to herself. Her decision ends up costing her dearly and turning her world upside down. Guilt forces her to make a difficult choice sacrificing a part of herself forever. At last she is safe from the dark wolf of her dreams… or so she thought. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's been a while since a book has really impressed me, especially a debut novel by a new author. This is the case with “Copper Descent.” Right away you’re drawn into the story, and your attention is held by the author’s creative attention to detail. She has a talent for blending the modern world and realistic settings with Native American folklore in a way that makes everything seem plausible. The pacing is great in this book. I never once found myself getting bored or wanting to skip ahead. As is the case with most books the best character is the Villain. In “Copper Descent”, Angela gives us Sinuf, an interesting twist on the classic image of Lucifer with roots in both christen mythology and Native American lore. The effect is an antagonist that is sexy, deadly, haunting and somehow likable in a bad-boy-kind-of-way.The kind of guy that lures women with tendencies towards fixer uppers. I found myself hoping that maybe Nina could turn this cold-hearted serpent around so that perhaps he could redeem himself in the end. At first I found that I didn't really like Nate, Nina's love interest. He came off very immature and just plain rude at first. Later on, when he came back into the story, he seemed to have grown up some and turned into my second favorite character. The story was never predictable and kept you guessing. 

My only complaints are these: The action seemed a bit choppy in the last couple chapters. This wouldn't be a big deal as most modern books seem to be written this way, except that this book was not up until the end. It's not really noticeable except in two spots where it took me out of the story. Perhaps in the excitement of wrapping up the book these moments were rushed a bit to render the scenes a little confusing instead of having the natural flow the rest of the book had. Secondly, the ending wasn't what I was hoping for. There was a bit of a Wizard of Oz ending to it, "You had the power within you all along." Although it was well-written and made perfect sense with the book, the final fight seemed to easily won for my taste and a was little anti-climatic. My last issue with the book is that I never fell in love with the leading lady, Nina. She was well-written and had complexity to her, and had some good dialogue and great hero moments, but for some reason I never really became invested in her. I don't think this is at all the author’s fault, just for some reason she just didn't resonate with me. 

Despite these minor flaws I still found “Copper Descent” to be a wildly creative, well-written, and exciting read! I give it five stars. I would recommend it to anyone with a love for Urban Fantasy, Horror and an interest in Religious Mythology and Native American Folklore.

Now go forth read, and decide for yourself if it's as good as I say it is. And if you love it, too, make sure to tell everyone you know about it. You can find the book or follow the author at the following links.


R.J. Craddock

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Maleficent - Movie Review

Society would have us all believe that every woman grew up dreaming of being a princess, Well, I for one, did not. As the youngest of eight children, five of which were boys, and with my sisters seven and eleven years older then me, I grew up, you guessed it, as a tomboy. So why is it then that even I loved Disney's animated film "Sleeping Beauty"? First off, I was raised to appreciate fine art and beautiful music by my parents and my own insatiable hunger for enlightenment. Naturally the advanced artistry in "Sleeping Beauty's" every frame caught my young eye and captured my attention. Borrowing from the ballet version of the tale and using Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's magnificent music for the score only heightened the intensity of the movie's beauty. Yet even the story makes it stand out from other princess tales. Although "Snow White" also features an evil female villain for some reason Maleficent with her iron-clad grudge always seemed more intriguing then the evil Queen obsessed with beauty. And let's not forget the fire-breathing dragon! Honestly how many of the old fairy tales have dragons? Even though the animated film came out in 1959, it has remained a huge favorite for fairy tale lovers.

Now fast forward 55 years to the year 2014. Disney releases their new spin on their old tale with a live action film called "Maleficent". At first I was just ecstatic that my favorite fairy tale Witch was being played by my favorite actress Angelina Jolie! As the trailers kept rolling out I got even more excited because it seemed the film would center more on Maleficent's perspective of things and might give us a whole new angle to the classic story. When the movie came out May 31st I had to go see it opening day. I usually wait a while till movies go to the dollar theater or red box, but no way could I wait another day to see this one! 

Brief synopsis: A human kingdom resides on the border of a magical one called The Moors. The two kingdoms are not friendly but stay to themselves. Until a young boy named Stefan sneaks into The Moors and tries to steal something valuable to improve his meager existence. Instead he meets Maleficent the strongest of all the Fairies who makes him return his stole trinket and sends him safely home. However, when he leaves he takes with him Maleficent's heart. They grow up and while he comes to visit Maleficent from time to time Stefan's ambitions lead him to the palace and make him the trusted servant to the king. When the greedy king decides to go to battle against The Moors he finds Maleficent and an army of tree warriors in his way. His altercation with the fully grown Maleficent leaves the king at death's door. When the king announces that he will give his throne to the man who avenges him and slays the Fairy, Maleficent, Stefan is faced with a difficult choice. Suddenly his childhood friend and first love is the only thing standing in the way of his ultimate dream, unlimited wealth and power. 

I won't give anything else away if you haven't seen it but let's just say that in this version of the tale Maleficent has plenty of reason to hold a grudge. You almost sympathize with her when Aurora is born and she crashes the party to get her own revenge. As The princess grows up under the care of three very poor Fairy caretakers, Maleficent is there all along just biding her time. But whilst Aurora's guardians are a bit flighty, Maleficent finds herself having to step in from time to time to keep the little "Beasty" alive. At least long enough for her prophecy to be fulfilled. However, by the end of the movie everything seems to change and the good guy is the villain and the villain the real hero.

For me this was the most satisfying movie going experience I've had in a long time. Too often then not the trailer for a film will be better then the film itself leaving me feeling let down and a little lied to. Trust me Maleficent does not disappoint. It is almost as beautiful as the animated classic with ten times the emotional impact and richness in plot. Angelina was Magnificent as Maleficent. The rest of the cast played their parts well. One of my favorite twists on the original tale is Maleficent's faithful crow companion Diaval. In the film he is a bird she saves and then enlists to serve her. When she wants to communicate with him she changes him into a man. At other times she changes him into a dog and even a dragon! I loved the banter and the relationship between the two of them as the story unfolds. He became one of my favorite characters.  Elle Fanning, who is Dakota Fanning's little, yet taller, sister played princess Aurora. She did a fine job portraying the innocence and sweetness of the character but in my opinion she is not a great beauty. Perhaps an equally charming but more stunning actress should have been cast in this role. Honestly that is my only complaint. The visual effects were breath taking, the writing and acting endearing, and the ending inspiring. 

I give "Maleficent" a solid five star rating. I enjoyed it so much I might just go back and see it in theaters again. When the movie comes out on DVD I'll be the first to rush out and buy a copy.  

Now go forth and see it for yourselves. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. See you next time.

R.J. Craddock

Saturday, May 24, 2014

"Chest of Wishes" -Book Review

"Chest of Wishes" is  listed as a paranormal romance novella  by Natashiah Jansen and Zhu Hsia. It is also the first novella I've ever read. I prefer full length novels myself because you can really get to know the characters and get immersed in their world. Which is why I have to say this story would've been better as a novel. As it is it's a fun quick read with an intriguing premise that catches you up in it's tale right away. However to make it a novella a lot of details were smudged over and a great deal of the story was told to us rather than shown. Since I'm a novelist myself I am unfamiliar with novella writing etiquette, although telling instead of showing is considered a "No, No" with traditional novel writing. I feel like the author could have shown us the portions that were simply told and the story would have been richer, and the mystery aspect of it more intense.

A personal pet peeve of mine is when the characters are never physically described, which is the case with this story. I had to go a long just imaging generic people in the roles rather then feeling like I was reading real flesh and bone individuals. I still enjoyed the story despite this but some description would have made this story just a little bit better.

I am unfamiliar with modern day Egypt society so I was confused as to weather it's normal for Egyptians to have western names like Adam, Mark, George and Mary. It took me a bit out of the story as the love interest was named Isis and her mother and father had Egyptian sounding names. Every one else's names made them sound like they were English or American not Egyptian. Again like I said maybe this is normal in Egypt today. However it seems really out of place for the wealthy Egyptian family to have a daughter named Isis and a son named Adam.

I enjoyed the back story twist that involved Mark's mother. It added a whole other layer of intrigue which I think was nicely done. Overall I really enjoyed the tale of "Chest of Wishes". I just wish it had been told with more attention to detail while keeping the energy level building to the finale. I would recommend it to anyone who likes quick, fun, reads with an element of magic and history.

Now go forth and pick it up for yourself. It is available now for just .99 cents. You can get it here.

Till Next time,
R.J. Craddock

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Princess and The Prom Queen by Jaclyn Weist - Book Review

Nowadays there are as many different kinds of books as there are readers. Furthermore, there are many different ways to publish a book in today's ever-growing digital age. Besides the big publishing houses, we now have smaller presses and many self-publishing options for the modern author in which to choose. This book in particular was published by a small Utah press called Trifecta books.

First off, the cover and title did little to peek my interest, both unimaginative and typical of the YA market. However, I decided to look passed this and give the book a chance.

The Pros:
The concept is clever and wildly imaginative putting a twist on my favorite fairy tale "Sleeping Beauty"and combining it with time travel and the old classic "The Prince and the Pauper." The book begins with  Jenny a typical teenage girl from present day USA who wakes up to a prince kissing her, in a mid-evil castle discovering that she has switched places with Princess Genevieve who happens to be the real life person the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale was based on. This gives the story two interesting settings and concepts. The plot is fast-paced for younger readers, and the story is not too predictable with some good plot twists.

The Cons:
I desperately wanted to love this book because of the "Sleeping Beauty" element, but alas I just couldn't and I'll tell you why. First off the inciting incident happens too fast. We're only a few pages into the book, we've barely even met Jenny, and we're suddenly thrust into another time when she awakes as princess Genevieve. We don't have time to care enough about her before her life gets turned upside down. Generally the industry experts will tell you to introduce the inciting incident early in the book, but I feel in this case this idea was taken to an extreme. There is little to no description or world building which made it a very bland read. For me the beauty is in the details. One can get away with little description in a modern timeline but typical Fantasy readers expect to be drawn into a whole new world. Descriptive writing that creates atmosphere is how this is done. Because of the lack of detail this book reads more like a first draft then a finished novel. Everyone has heard the saying "Show, Don't Tell" well... this book tells and never shows. The dialogue is basic giving little to no sense of the characters' personality. Some plot points are weak and unbelievable such as: Jenny's parents are far too willing to believe that their daughter has been replaced by a mid-evil princess. I would've liked to have seen a little more skepticism on her parents' part. I have a hard time imagining any reader over twelve really enjoying this book. I, myself, never got emotionally involved with the characters perhaps because they were two dimensional and never felt real. In the end the villain is defeated too easily, the ending wrapped up too fast, and a solution to the main conflict of the book solved too conveniently. Had the ending been better I would've given the book another star.

Also, I noticed nine missing or misused words. Had this been self-published I would've dismissed this but as a professionally published novel this looks bad. As a self-published author I know my books have a few mistakes in them. Whereas I don't have the resources to hire a team of editors to find every flaw in my novels, this book, being published by a press, that claims to have experience should not have this many mistakes.

"The Princess and the Prom Queen" is a creative tale with a decent plot that just didn't reach it's full potential. I give it two stars. So low a rating I have never given a book in my life. I generally don't like to leave a bad review. As an author myself I know what it feels like to receive a review like this. However, I feel so passionately about my bad experience with this book I feel I owe it to other readers to share my thoughts and feelings. On the upside a few bad reviews lends a book more credibility for perspective readers. When a book has only five and four star reviews one can't help but wonder if they're all written by friends and family. As a close I want to add that as beauty is in the eye of the beholder so merit is in the mind of the reader. What was an unsatisfying reading experience for me might be a great experience for another reader. To best judge if you would agree with my critique of this book I would recommend reading my other reviews or just plain reading the book for yourself. Click here to get "The Princess and the Prom Queen" 

Now go forth and read and then read some more!
Till Next time,

R.J. Craddock

Idle Revolution by Lucid 8 - Music Review

A few years ago I would've said that Lucid 8's unique style was too different from the mainstream to be radio worthy. Their talent as musicians is undeniable and their musical chemistry is unlike anything else out there. Now with the release of their new album “Idle Revolution” (which is superb in its quality of sound recording), and with the shift in the music industry leaning more toward the eighties and nineties sound, it seems that perhaps Lucid 8's day in the limelight is finally at hand.

As an album “Idle Revolution” is a solid piece of work for this Utah band, flowing from one track to the next with seamless procession, making it a great experience for the listener. Two tracks stand out as obvious radio contenders.
Track number two on the album "The Truth" really packs a punch. This up-tempo tune has a catchy melody, great music, and clever lyrics with a theme that is relate-able for anyone who's ever dealt with a deceitful friend or lover who let them down one too many times. Track five "Pieces" is a heart-felt alternative rock ballad that will strike a chord with anyone who has kids, or has felt the loving support of good parents. 

As for the rest of the songs they all have a little something special that makes them memorable. As a whole I'd say that this album would fit nicely with the modern musical trend, with eighties and nineties influences, strong guitar work, excellent drums, and good vocals. It's hard to compare this band to any other, but I'll say that they can stand toe to toe with other well-known Utah bands such as Royal Bliss and American Hitmen. You can get Lucid 8's new album “Idle Revolution” at or on Amazon, iTunes and Google Play.

Now go forth and pick up a copy or find them on your favorite online retailer and give these guys a listen. Till next time.

 R.J. Craddock

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Offspring Blog Tour - excerpt from The Forsaken

The Offspring Blog Tour is almost over! If you've been following me on Facebook, Twitter or my website you might have been following the blog tour as well. Today the tour stops by here on my own blog for an excerpt from book one The Forsaken. This is a tidbit for those who haven't read the first book in The Children of Cain series. Enjoy the read and go pick up the book at the links below.

Her eyes still sting from the tears she cried an hour ago, the remnants dry upon her rosy soot-covered cheeks. She cannot go back to where she came from, and there is no place for her to run, but still she has to flee. Everyone is gone now, everything in flames. There is nothing left but ash and tears. She has to keep walking for there is nothing left to do. She is utterly alone in the world. All she can feel is the bitter cold as she walks endlessly through the woods; the only living thing in an empty world of white. A mixture of glacial air and lingering smoke causes her lungs to ache, her rasping coughs blowing out in white clouds. Her whole body is frigid and stiff, as cold as the snow that is all around her. She notices that even the morning sky above her is white, vast, and empty. She continues on, her stockings soaked through, and her feet past feeling, numb.
She lost one of her shoes a while back, walking over a bunch of fallen branches. Her foot had slipped into a crevice, and when she tried to pull her foot back out, her shoe did not come with it. Her little arms were too short to reach the shoe, so she had simply left it there. However, walking with just one shoe proved uncomfortable, so she took it off her foot, holding the lonely shoe clasped in her hands and pressed against her chest.
The blackened soiled clothes on her back are her only possessions in the whole world. Her short dress, once sunny-yellow trimmed with frilly white lace, is now dirty with ash and dried blood; the lace is gray and singed. Her once-white stockings, now gray with holes burned away in places. Her green winter coat, musky with the smell of smoke, is still in pristine condition. Around her neck, she wears a gold chain necklace with an oval-shaped locket branded with the symbol of a burning rose and the name Gwenevere engraved upon it. The locket is the only tie to her past, the only remnant of her identity.
She hasn't seen a single soul, no towns, no houses, and no roads. She makes her trek toward an unknown future, leaving behind her painful past. An image of her mother’s beautiful face creeps into her dazed mind, making her want to start crying all over again, but she holds back the tears.
“Crying never got the world to stop spinning,” her father had once said. Or at least she thought the man was her father. She had only met him a handful of times; he always came to visit their little cottage late at night. She would see him only briefly before she was sent off to bed, and he was long gone before she awoke the next morning. Nonetheless, she learns quickly not to cry, pout, or go to him for comfort. He is always serious, worried, and cold.
If he is my father, then why didn't he live with us? Why did he feel like a stranger? Why wasn't he there when the fire came and ate up everything? A father is meant to protect his family.
Her eyes begin to water. She sniffles, forcing back the tears, pushing the memories away. It is better that she forgets them and leaves them behind her, and so she does. With every step she takes forward, she puts more distance between herself and the world with which she once belonged. Hour after hour goes by and fatigue makes it easier to shut out all thoughts and feelings. She thinks of nothing but walking in a straight line, as the wind blows through her long black hair.
Brushing the errant strands out of her eyes, she sees a man, a tall dark figure lurking amongst trees ahead of her. One moment she was alone in the forest and then suddenly the stranger is there, watching her. She blinks several times but the apparition remains. She hesitates only a moment then continues. Not wanting to show her fear, she avoids his eyes.
He looks warm in his long, black, trench coat, tall leather boots, and black suit. But something about him is wrong, frightening. With a dark unnerving determination, she senses his gaze follow her wherever she moves. A bone-deep chill comes from his direction. Quickly she deviates her course slightly off to the right, planning to simply pass him by.
As she comes closer to the dark stranger, he makes a quick move toward her. She bolts, breaking into a wild run. The forest becomes a blur around her as she speeds forward in a headlong dash.
Keep running. Don’t look back

That's all for now. If you want to read more you can get The Forsaken and The Offspring here:

Now go forth, read and have a great week!

R.J. Craddock

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Author Interview with Krista Wayment

Hello everyone. I'm very excited to have Krista Wayment author of Trusted here with us today!

Krista Wayment has been making up stories since she learned to talk. Writing naturally grew out of that. Krista is an avid Fantasy and Science Fiction fan, and a total nerd. She is also a software engineer and loves playing video games. Although, curling up with a good book is still one of her favorite past times. 

Here's a little info on her new book Trusted:

Renick, the fifth son of a dragon breeder, crashes into an unexpected adventure that challenges everything he thought he knew about dragons, history, and himself. Stranded in the massive Helath forest, Renick meets two other passengers: Thane, a noble training to be a dragon knight, and Lainey, the orphaned niece of a healer. Together they survive an attack by vicious wolves, rescue a baby dragon with a broken wing, and escape from a band of dragon hunters as they make a perilous climb into the mountains. What they discover there will change everything. 

Sounds Interesting, doesn't it? Well than with out further ado lets learn a little more about Krista shall we?

What was the first thing that sparked the idea for Trusted? 

I wanted to write a story about dragons. So I started asking myself questions about what kind of dragons I wanted in my world. After several rounds of "What if?" and "Why?" the Dragons' Trust world was born. From there it was easy to craft the story and characters for Trusted. 

What was your favorite chapter to write and why?

Chapter 23: Proven. It is my main characters shining moment. And one of my characters, Lainey, overcomes her greatest fear. I still get wrapped up in it whenever I read it.

What is your favorite book you have read recently?

Hmmm, recently. I recently re-read The Riddle-Master of Hed series by Patricia A. McKillip and LOVED it. It was so inspiring and much better than I remembered it.

Who was your favorite author growing up?

Robin McKinely. My favorite books of hers are The Blue Sword and Beauty both of which I have read at least four times.

What is the first random word that comes to mind?


What do you think inspired that answer?

I am craving caramel or chocolate popcorn right now :)

Other than Renick, who is your favorite character in Trusted?

I would have to say Plyth. He is a baby dragon and so very, very cute. 

Who are some if your favorite fictional characters?

I have so many. But I'll pick just one--whole cast :) I love the characters in Lloyd Alexander's Series The Prydain Chronicles.

If you had a time machine and could meet any author--who would it be?

Probably Jane Austin. Mostly because I would be fascinated to see the woman behind so many books that have been so popular for so long.

What's your next project and when do you hope to have it finished?

My next project is book 2 of the Dragons' Trust series, which sadly does not have a title yet. I am hoping to have it finished in time to release later this year.

I'm sure after reading Trusted we'll all be dying for book two. Good luck with everything Krista, and thanks for stopping by.

Okay avid readers Krista make sure to enter the Trusted Giveaway as part of the Trusted Blog tour. And if keep your eyes peeled for that special extra entry the dragon scale! Also to follow Krista and keep informed on all the goings on with her book Trusted you can find her at the following links. 

Now go forth and pick up your own copy of Trusted and come back and let us know what you think of Krista Wayment's take on Dragons.

Till next time, R.J. Craddock.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Offspring - Book Cover Reveal!

After a couple years of hard work and a little bit of insanity, my second book is just months away from being released! That's right The Offspring (Children of Cain book two) will be released online April 11th! The physical release will be April 17th at the Salt Lake City comic-con at the Salt Palace Convention Center! Yahoo! But in the mean time I'm sure your all dying to see the cover for The Offspring, so lets do a little cover reveal shall we?

Now that I've got your attention, would you like to know a little more about the book? I knew you would!

The Offspring:

A murder behind her and the wilderness before her, friendless witch Gwenevere flees to survive. Yet Mother Nature is not kind and even Gwen’s magical gifts can’t save her from a deadly winter storm. Narrowly escaping death, she is rescued by an unlikely hero and taken into the shelter of a mythical realm.  Has Gwen at long last found her own kind? Will she finally solve the mystery to her own identity, or her mother’s murder? Or is innocence blinding her to the true reality of this dark sanctuary?

Well that's all I can give you for now. Keep checking back here, facebook, twitter and goodreads for more info on the upcoming release of The Offspring! While you wait eagerly for it's release you can always pick up book one The Forsaken at, amazon, and Barnes and Noble

Now go forth and share the cover for The Offspring with your fellow book lovers and remember to tell them the book come out April 11th! Till next time.

R.J. Craddock

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Fire Light by J. Abram Barneck - Book Review

April 17th - 19th I will be at the Salt Lake City Comic-Con sharing a table with the Author of this book. I figured I better know the other novel in which I'm sharing my booth. So I got it on kindle, and jumped right into it. Here are my thoughts:                                                                                                                                                                              J. Abram Barneck's "Fire Light" is a unique YA Urban Fantasy set in the Great Salt Lake Valley. The protagonist, Jacob Stevens, is a seventeen-year-old geek turned jock who will do anything to seem normal, although he's anything but. Then one day he meets Charles O'Brien, an FBI agent who brings with him an ancient magical textbook and some bad news for Jake: someone is trying to kill him.Why? Because it turns out Jake is a Druid.  Some mysterious organization has been hunting down all the Druids, even the potential ones, like Jake, with the intent to exterminate the ancient society. Running for his life, Jake is torn away from his family and the life he took for granted. Helping O'Brien uncover the identity of the ones responsible for this genocide, Jake is thrust into a dangerous world filled with magic, Nightwalkers, and even a Vampire King! Sounds exciting right? Well, it is and it isn't. Although the writing was excellent throughout the book, and the plot was very well thought out, for me "Fire Light" had a few weaknesses.

1) The inciting incident doesn't happen until chapter twelve. For those of you who don't know what an inciting incident is here's the definition. When an event happens to the protagonist forcing their lives to change from the norm to adapt to the story's plot. Pretty much it's the part that kicks the story off and gets the ball rolling. Most writing gurus and creative writing courses teach that an inciting incident should happen in the first act, within the first few chapters in a novel or the first ten pages in a screenplay. If this was a typical epic Fantasy novel like Robert  Jordan's "The Eye of the World" the reader would expect this kind of build up because the writer is introducing them to a whole new world. However, the author of "Fire Light" spends the first twelve chapters of the book just getting us acquainted with Jake. We learn about his parentage, his sister, his geek lifestyle and we meet his friends and other supporting characters. All good things to learn as this helps to establish Jake's character, but it drags on a bit. Had I been a beta reader for this book I would've suggested condensing this whole segment to help the story move along more quickly. 

2) Just before the story finally picks up, the author forces a love connection between Jake and his sister's best friend Kendra. At this point it was the last thing I wanted to read, I just wanted the fantasy element to happen already. Also, I found Kendra's character weak and inconsistent. She's described as confident but then goes on to do things that make her seem insecure, childish, and desperate. I found it hard to care about her and was relieved when the inciting incident finally arrived and Jake was taken away into another world. I found myself hoping we'd never see Kendra again. 

However, once the story took off, it kept on going! The pacing from chapter twelve on was fantastic, keeping you interested and wanting more. Later, another female character was introduced, Alexis, who didn't annoy me and I found I suddenly needed to finish the book more because of her than anything else. The author managed to surprise me in some places and that's not easily done. The author didn't shy away from darker subjects yet kept things somewhat PG-13 with which I was impressed. He kept the dark fantasy world realistic without getting too morbid for young adult readers to enjoy. The ending was action packed and exciting without being too over-the-top or unbelievable. The big climax did not disappoint as many YA books do, and kept me on the edge of my seat to the very end. When it was all said and done I found myself eager to read the next book! Which unfortunately does not yet have a release date set. 

Is "Fire Light" a worth while read? Yes. Will I be reading the next book in the series? You betcha! Does it take a while to get going? Sure, but the pay off makes it's well worth the wait. So, overall I'd give "Fire Light" four and a half stars! 

Now go forth and pick up "Fire Light" by J. Abram Barneck, (at the following links) and find out for yourself what "Fire Light" is all about. Till next time.

R.J. Craddock

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Librarians do it Between the Covers!

Hello, gentle readers, I don't know about you, but I love printed books far more than ebooks. Yes, it's convenient and space-saving to have one hand held device that carries countless volumes of literature. However, there's something magical about holding a bound book in one's hands and watching the pages fly by as you read. I'm also a sucker for the smell of books. Paper and ink are two of my most favorite things! Needless to say I also love Libraries! I adore being in a room full of books. There's an excitement in the air that makes me almost giddy, wondering what beautiful words or vast worlds I might discover next!

Naturally when I was publishing my book "The Forsaken" (Children of Cain - book one) I dreamed of someday seeing my book not only on bookstore shelves but on Library shelves as well. However, neither is easily done when your self-published. I do currently have my book in one store, and am constantly looking for more possible markets. "The Forsaken" at present is only available at the Spanish Fork Library in Utah. This is because some friends of mine requested it. Another friend saw it on the book shelf recently and told me it looked well-read. This tickles me pink, because my book is available for more readers to discover it. This got me thinking though. Wouldn't it be great if my book was available everywhere? Yes, yes, it would be awesome! But, I can't go to every library in the state of Utah and request my own book, let alone the entire country or world (although that would make for one heck of a road trip)! ;-) 

Why can't I just do this in my own state you might ask? Mainly because you have to have a library card for each library to be able to do this. Also libraries tend to want proof that you live in the area before they give you access to their collection, let alone start requesting new books on your behalf. So then I got thinking some more (a dangerous past time, I know) and decided I could always ask my friends, family, and fans to go out and do the requesting for me. So I'm putting it out there. Who wants to help a new author get their book in libraries across the United States? Who wants to help get "The Forsaken" on shelves in libraries all around the globe? If you said "I do" or "Me" then great! If you haven't read my book yet and were planning to this helps you in that you can do so without purchasing it. This helps me because the library does purchase it from me, and also having it on their shelves gives other avid readers the opportunity to experience my dream world as well. 

So the next time you make a trip to your local library don't forget to ask the Librarian how you can request a book, and help me get "The Forsaken" on the shelf and ultimately into the hands of more readers like yourself. If you do you'll be doing me a huge favor, and I will be eternally in your debt. :-) 

Now go forth, visit your local libraries and remember to request "The Forsaken" by R.J. Craddock (Children of Cain series - book one). Also, keep checking back here for more info on book two "The Offspring" which comes out in April! Till next time.

R.J. Craddock

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Religion, Mythology and Fiction.

For some, Religion, Mythology, and Fiction all mean the same thing. Many find profound truths in Religion, deep moral lessons in Mythology, and just plain good entertainment in Fiction. However, every once in a while a book intermingles the three into one tale. Such is the case with my novel "The Forsaken" (Children of Cain - book one). I have to admit that I was heavily influenced by my own religious beliefs when it came time to come up with my own mythology for Gwenevere's story. My fantasy world is after all spawned from one of the oldest stories ever told, the creation. However, mine starts with Adam and his first wife Lilith.

Now some of you just scratched your head and asked yourselves, "Who is Lilith?" Well, Lilith is sort of a cross between a redundancy in the Bible and an ancient myth. The creation story is told twice in the Bible. First in Genesis 1:1-2 and secondly in Genesis 2:4-25. In the first scripture man and woman are created at the same time, however, neither of them is ever named. And, in the second telling of the creation, man was created first, then the animals and then woman. The man’s name isn't mentioned for a few scriptures but he is introduced as Adam. Only after she has eaten from the tree of good and evil and persuaded Adam to eat as well does the woman get a name. Adam calls her Eve because she will be the mother of all living now that they are being cast out of the Garden of Eden and she now must bear children. Add this to the fact that other stories emerged over the years, naturally this got me speculating. What if there were two women created in the garden of Eden? What if Eve was actually the second woman to be created on the Earth, and not Adam's first wife? Some mythologies suggest that this was the case. See the link below for more details: 

Growing up in a Christian home reading the Bible and being fascinated by different religious beliefs, I was aware of the notion of a first wife prior to Eve in the Garden of Eden and always thought the idea was fascinating. What might have really happened to make this first wife fall? Now do I believe that Lilith really existed? No. However, the idea of such a person got my wheels turning and before I knew it I had created my own version of the creation story with Lilith as the original wife of Adam and her eventual fall from grace. This leads to her becoming the mother of all mythical beings and myths we've all grown up with. You might know them as Witches, Elves, Vampires, Werewolves, Fairies, Giants, Dwarfs, Mermaids and such but in my mythology they are all known as The Forsaken. 

A while back I met a fellow author, C. David Belt, who had a series with a very similar name to mine, “The Children of Lilith Trilogy”. I even wrote a blog about this meeting, read it here. Since both our stories deal with Lilith in their mythologies we started talking about the possibility that such a person might have existed. "The idea of Lilith as Adam's first wife supposes that God makes mistakes, and God does not make mistakes." C. David Belt reasoned. And I have to say that I disagree. If God gave us free agency to choose as we wish so that we might learn for ourselves right from wrong then any choice made by us would be no one’s fault but our own, for we are solely accountable, not God. So I reason that such a person could have existed and not threaten the belief that God knows all, as the master planner. 

To write this story I had to delve into a lot mythology and fairy tales as well as learn a lot about Wicca and Witchcraft in general. As a born and breed Christian, do I believe in any of these things? No. Does writing about them contradict my real life faith and values? No. In writing this book I seek only to entertain and to teach a moral about the true importance of one’s character and the choices we make throughout our lives. I believe in God and Jesus Christ. I believe there is a heaven and hell. But any speculations about these places in my books are merely mythology, intertwined with religion for entertainment.

For my character I built a world in which she is doomed no matter what she does because of what she was born, a Witch, one of The Forsaken. My purpose in creating this world and writing this story is to answer a few questions. "What would you do if you were damned no matter how good or bad you were? Would you still choose to do the right thing? Would you be a good person if there was no reward waiting for you in heaven, or would you just indulged yourself and do whatever you liked? A lot of religions teach that if you're faithful you'll receive blessings in heaven and a mansion on high, and thus the motivation for some to do good. But shouldn't we do good and be righteous and selfless, giving to others just because it is righteous and not just because we want a reward for our good deeds? These questions and more I strive to answer in the Children of Cain series. I invite you all to read the series and find out what Gwenevere does when faced with these questions, and find out where her decisions lead her. 

"The Forsaken" is currently out and can be purchased at Links to my book on Amazon and Barnes and Noble can be found there or at the top menu of this blog. "The Offspring" book two of the six-part series comes out in April 2014.

Now go forth and pick up "The Forsaken" and may it inspire you to make righteous decisions and have strength to overcome even when in the face of true evil. Till next time. 

R.J. Craddock