Book Preview: From the Embers by Candace Knoebel

From the Embers CoverI have been waiting to read this title for some time. I very much enjoyed Candace Knoebel’s previous two fantasy titles, which follows the discoveries of Aurora, the progeny descended from dragons who must learn to wield her powers as well as protecting the people around her. Aurora is a spunky protagonist who fights for what is right, but she has a feisty side which has gotten her in trouble before. When a trilogy comes to an end, it can be a sad thing. But with From the Embers, I bet there are just as many shocks, surprises and discoveries to be made along the way.

Candace’s unique first person perspective is extremely readable and it is no surprise that her debut, Born in Flames won the Turning the Pages Book of the Year award. It had an appealing charm that was full of potential. You can read my review of Born in Flames here. The second in the trilogy, Embracing the Flames literally takes hold of you and doesn’t let go until its last pages. It’s a true young adult fantasy that has touches of romance thrown into boot. I loved it and you can read my review of that here.

Here is the blurb for the new upcoming book:

I am the Progeny. The one deemed to carry this weight. The weight of knowing too much. Of knowing there is a darkness in me. Of knowing that even The Fates can screw things up.
Aurora Megalos knew becoming the Progeny meant great sacrifice, but what she wasn’t prepared for was sacrificing herself. Since the day of her birth, she has been set on a path she couldn’t control; a path conceived by The Fates. And after discovering she is mortally connected to her Arch Enemy Zordon-a son of a Fate, Aurora is now left with a path that seems hopeless.
Until she discovers a revelation in the prophecy.
With war on the horizon, she must now find a way to defeat the one who threatens to take everything and everyone she has ever loved from her, without destroying herself. The barrier between both realms is broken, The Fates have been overrun by Zordon, and his darkness now spreads throughout the lands. The odds are stacked against her. Will Aurora and Fenn find a way to undo the work of The Fates in time to save the realms from complete destruction?
It sounds fantastic, doesn’t it? If you’ve been following Aurora’s magical and often harrowing journey, then you know that the war brewing between them and Zordon will come to a head in here. I just know that the battles inside are going to be full of detail and magic! The best kind of fantasy in my opinion. Of course Fenn will be with her. He has always been a faithful character for me, and one that never fails to add charm into the story. He is the perfect companion for Aurora, but I’m guessing that he will play a big part in this final part.
And what do you think to the vivid cover? I think, when compared to the other two, we can see a much more confident Aurora here. Embracing the Flames was very much a story that also saw her mature and grow into herself. Being comfortable with what she has to offer was a huge theme, and I think this cover reflects how much she has grown from the beginning.
From the Embers will be released in both ebook and paperback on January 29th.
From the Embers is now available in ebook from:
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About the Author:

Candace Knoebel is the award-winning author of Born in Flames (a young adult fantasy Candace Knoebeltrilogy). Published by 48fourteen in 2012, Born in Flames went on to win Turning the Pages Book of the Year award in February of 2013. Embracing the Flames, the second in the trilogy, is scheduled for release in the summer of 2013.

Candace Knoebel discovered through lunch breaks and late nights after putting her kids to bed, a world where she could escape the ever-pressing days of an eight to five Purgatory. Since then, she crawled out of Purgatory and has devoted her time to writing and sometimes heelying.

Interests:

Music defines a huge part of who she is. She find herself relating moments of her life to music lyrics more often than not. Actually, she finds herself wishing that music would play at epic moments in her life…kind of like this one; becoming an author!
Number one all-time fave band is Thirty Seconds to Mars. She waited for 10 ½ hours just to be front row to see them in concert and of course it rocked. She also loves Paramore, John Mayer, Mute-math, Adele, Band of Horses…the list could go on forever and ever.
Also a huge fan of dancing, rocking out in the car to music, spending time with her children and husband, laughing with her bestie, and cooking.

Candace Knoebel’s Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads

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Embracing the Flames by Candace Knoebel – Book Review

embracing2_fullSequels can be tricky. You want them to be as good, as captivating as the first instalment, yet you also want them to progress the story in a way that evolves the characters and relationships you’ve become accustomed to. Embracing the Flames is US author, Candace Knoebel’s second instalment in the Born in Flames trilogy, and with all eyes on the progeny, Aurora must learn to adapt in the new world we find her in, as well as come to terms of what is expected of her.

If you remember from the first book, Aurora always knew she was slightly different than everybody else in her small neighbourhood, and with the creepy insights by a crazed stalker, she learnt of her true fate. Part dragon, part mage, Aurora followed the clues in the prophecy, guided by her trusted friend Fenn, and accepted her identity, arriving in a new realm. Embracing the Flames picks up where Born in Flames left us, and fans of the original will love what is on offer.

Second instalments are often seen as the bridge that brings together the beginning and the end, and this is true enough for this novel, although it is nowhere as mundane as that sounds. Believe me, there is plenty of action here. We follow Aurora not only with her training in the magic arts, the transformation into her dragon self, but also through betrayals, secrets, loss and truth. This is one complex young adult fantasy. And the title is a real clue to what you can expect.

What really brings this book to life is the world in which Knoebel creates, along with the mythology, religion and way of life. Aurora is new to this realm, and we learn with her. It’s a rich delicious way of storytelling that can leave your head craving for more. I found myself longing to know more about these meddlesome ‘Fates’, the guilt-ridden necromancers, the deathly devious Dark Saar. Whereas the first book was more urban fantasy, Embracing the Flames is very much a true fantasy novel that brings to life juicy elements of magic and intrigue. And it is Knoebel’s storytelling that weaves all the elements together into one fine gem of a story. It is a little obvious where Knoebel’s influences come from, Harry Potter being one prime example, especially with the vocal exclamations when it comes to preforming spells, but this story is so much grittier, more accessible for an older audience than Harry Potter will ever be.

Characterisation is always a big key in young adult books, and Knoebel doesn’t falter here either. Aurora and Fenn’s relationship is taken to the next level as they must understand and trust each other in a way they never thought imaginable. We got to see the beginnings of their love blossom before, but here things really get spicy. The sexual tension between the two adds a real maturity to the story that is quite fresh and wonderful to read. It is neither cheesy or over exaggerated and for that, I’m thankful. With the addition of another character, we really start to see how love is actually a complex thing, and this is where trust must come to the fore. It was great to see how Aurora and Fenn managed to react and cope with this new angle.

Speaking of characters, there are two stand-out in here for me. The first is Astral,Candace Knoebel Aurora’s guardian and confidant of sorts. He’s wise, reflective and with a dash of secrecy, his character is fabulously told. I really wanted to know more about his own personal story. You can’t help but respect the choices he has taken, as well as some of the burdens one must take for the greater good. I also fell in love with an extremely minor character too. Irisi. She is one of the necromancers who helps Aurora half way through the book, and I was a little sad not to see her come around again before the end. Hopefully it wasn’t the last we saw of this woman; a woman who surely has layers of depth to her.

Themes also play a huge part in this instalment, even more than you really notice. Acceptance is a big one. Not only does Aurora have to accept what is expected of her with fulfilling a prophecy, she must also accept her own capabilities and learn to handle her sometimes act-first-think-later attitude that see’s her get into some real trouble. She often goes against the advice of her elders, as she starts to take the reins and find out what Zordon, her arch-nemesis, is after, and why he is hell bent on bringing war to this realm.

As I finished this book, I sat back and thought about how far Aurora has come. That is when it truly hits you with how epic this fantasy is. We start off learning the way of life here, and of the magical capabilities of Aurora. But when Astral is taken from her, there are battles, both personal and physical, kidnapping, threats, torture, love … it really takes your breath away, and it still isn’t over! There’s the final instalment to come!

I did feel at times though, that some parts became a little unoriginal. I love the world in which we find Aurora in, and as a classical and ancient mythology lover, I loved the deep layered mythology in here, but I had to draw the line when it came to Alistair. Alistair runs the Biblium, a place to find out anything and everything. The problem was I loved the concept and Alistair’s character, I only wish he wasn’t an owl, as I felt this was a little obvious and an almost child-friendly approach. I also don’t particularly like Zordon’s name. I grew up watching the Power Rangers and I can’t help but get Zordon’s image out of my head, everytime it is mentioned, but that’s just me. I also felt like some people may feel alienated if they hadn’t have read the first book, as quick recaps sometimes aren’t enough.

Embracing the Flames not only matches its predicessor, it excels it in every way. The storytelling is magical, mind blowing, gritty and so full of depth. There are plenty of shocks along the way, shocks that will make you gasp out loud, give you goosebumps. I really felt the weight of expectation and the burdens of Aurora’s destiny in this story, which is key to following her plight. There is also a sincerity to the people in her life, so when betrayal and backstabbing comes knocking, the pain is that much worse, and with the new sexual tension between our heroes now obvious, this novel feels so much more compelling and developed. This story just got serious, and I can’t wait to see what happens in the final book; let me tell you, it is going to explosive!

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Embracing the Flames is available in eBook from:

Amazon UK / Amazon US & AUS

BorninFlames

Born in Flames is the first book in the trilogy and I reviewed it last year. It is available in eBook and Print at:

Amazon UK / Amazon US & AUS / The Book Depository

Candace’s Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads

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Embracing the Flames Cover Reveal

Candace KnoebelHey all, what a treat you YA Fantasy fans are in for today. I have taken part in Candace Knoebel’s reveal tour. You may remember her debut urban fantasy novel, Born in Flames, which introduces us to protagonist, Aurora, who has always known that somehow she doesn’t quite fit in, in her small Hawaiian town. As the story progresses, we soon discover that Aurora is in fact descended from Dragons! How cool is that.

Here is a few excerpts from my review of Born in Flames:

Aurora is wonderfully crafted with a spunky personality … We will her to succeed and we go on a journey with her, discovering everything along the way as she does. It is a brilliant connection …  It isn’t until you start to sit back and really think about everything going on together than you realise and appreciate just how complex this book is … It offers magic, myth, love, action and is done so in a tightly knit mysterious plot …’

You can read my review of Born in Flames here and whilst you are at it, why not read my interview with Candace herself?

BUT WHAT ABOUT THE NEW BOOK?, i hear you ask. Well here is the new cover with the book blurb for Embracing the Flames, book #2 in the Born in Flames trilogy.

embracing2_fullThe Stone of Immortality has been protected under the watch of the Draconta for as long as time has existed. That is, until the betrayal of a Fate. Now everything is about to change.

Aurora Megalos accepted her destiny without blinking-even if it meant succumbing to her dragon side. Deemed the Progeny, she left the ordinary life she knew and has done everything in her power to learn the ways of her new realm and what it means to be part dragon. But when her mentor, Astral, suddenly disappears, she is forced to take the reins. With war on the brink, she sets out on an epic journey to not only find her mentor, but to stop her Arch Enemy, Zordon, from attaining the Stone of Immortality. But what she discovers about him along the way is far worse than she could’ve ever imagined. She will be tested and pushed to the limit. Lives will be lost, love will be questioned, and a battle will begin.

I not only love how Fenn features in the cover, but also the dragon wings are pretty original, no? What do you guys think? I think the design is extremely clever, borrowing the colour scheme from the debut book’s cover carries on the trend and it defines it almost as the Candace Knoebel brand. Hop on over to Candace’s website to let her know what you think.

Also, Candace is running a big giveaway on her Facebook page, which includes free copies of Born in Flames.

If you haven’t read Born in Flames yet, well why not? Click on the links below that suit your tastes and discover first hand why Candace Knoebel’s Born in Flames won the Turning Page Book Award 2012.

Amazon

Amazon US / Amazon UK / Amazon Canada / Amazon France /

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Candace Knoebel Wins an Award!

BorninFlamesIf you think back to September last year (if you regularly follow my blog) I interviewed American Author, Candace Knoebel about her debut Urban-Fantasy novel, Born in Flames. Well, just a few days ago, Born in Flames won the Turning the Pages ‘Book of the Year 2012’ Award!

How exciting is that! Candace must be over the moon! It’s an award that is voted for by real readers and because of that, it must bring extra satisfaction being up against some fierce competition and still come out on top.

Of course, I knew she was on to a winner when I read it. If I may pick some well written (cough) quotes from my review; here’s what I said about Born in Flames ¬

This one is a special gem.

It is full of wonderfully creative, imaginative and magical jaunts of spell casting and realistic and necessary violence.

It offers magic, myth, love, action and is done so in a tightly knit mysterious plot that doesn’t answer all of its questions, but leaves you wanting to find out more and for me that is the very essence of a trilogy or series. ‘Born in Flames’ is part of something much bigger …

And obviously I can’t be wrong here! If you would like to read my review of Born in Flames, you can so here, and if you would like to read the interview I did with Candace, you can so here. There is a reason I gave it four stars on Goodreads.

From me, I would like to congratulate Candace on her work and her win and wish her all the best with the trilogy. Part two of the trilogy will be soon and she is currently writing the third and last part. Go on – check it out 🙂 Stay tuned to my blog, for i will undoubtedly feature the rest of the series in the future.

Also, Candace is running a little competition on her Facebook page. She is trying to reach 500 ‘likes’. Click here to go and like her page and be in the running for a load of Born in Flame goodies, plus an Amazon gift card.

To visit Candace’s blog/website click here. To purchase/check out Born in Flames – you can do so via the Amazon links. Amazon USAAmazon UK

Here is the trailer once again to whet your appetite further.

Other Systems by Elizabeth Guizzetti and Author Interview!

Day Two of Sci Fi Week – I’ve sat here for the past five minutes wondering whether or not to post the review of the book first or the Interview first and I just don’t know. Does it really matter? I think it makes more sense to read the review of Other Systems first and then find out a little more about the talented author next.

Other Systems by Elizabeth Guizzetti was published by 48Fourteen Publishing earlier this year in April and follows the story of Abby, who surprisingly leaves all of her family and friends on Earth and is heading off to Kipos, a planet light years away to start a new life; one filled with education, heart warming stories about loving spouses and grand jobs. But things aren’t that simple however, and Abby is soon to discover that life upon this Utopian planet is actually more of a hellish nightmare. She is sold to a man as a slave and life is pretty drastic and dire. Will she escape or will she learn to ride the difficult culture and accept her new position in an unknown planet?

What I loved about Other Systems was the highly advanced world Elizabeth Guizzetti creates. It is one full of history and full of promise and the result of this is actually a fully rendered 3D world we can actually visualise and understand. Kipos is a planet on the decline; generations after generations are succumbing to a failed reproduction law and are desperate for solutions. You can get sucked in to the entire political situation of Guizzetti’s world and it almost serves as a dual storyline alongside Abby’s turmoil.

I feel it safe to say that Other Systems is indeed an adult novel and it features many unpleasant scenes and situations that are difficult to read, yet this is not a bad thing! It is the awful point where Abby is raped that you suddenly awaken to the addictiveness this sort of novel produces. You simply have to read more. You want Abby to be OK; you want her to live on and make something of herself; not letting those awful moments define her as a person.

For Abby is such a relatable character and a protagonist whom we learn to love and admire. I think Abby can come across incredibly naïve in the beginning, falling for the false promises offered to her, but why not? Despite her quite innocent approach at times, she is a highly modern woman; a woman with many ideals and emotions that can distance some readers. Should monogamy be the right path? For Abby, love is something she learns to accept on many levels and her approach is simply her choice. As a reader we can either accept this, or see it as one of her flaws. And it is these flaws that can also make Abby so readable. We aren’t perfect ourselves so why would we want to read ‘perfect’ characters?

Guizzetti’s book is quite technical at times and this is to be expected from a book of this genre. It never patronises you though and at times you come away feeling quite knowledgeable about the processes and technologies within the novel. Surely this is a sign of the author’s talent? It is obvious she has done her research with so much attentiveness and love.

Alongside Abby is a cast of interesting and fully rendered characters. Take Cole for instance who can almost come across as quite endearing at times. Cole can almost be seen as a love interest for Abby, but you realise much later on that their relationship is more of a father and daughter. With the inclusion of male characters we also come across Harden and Mark. With that also comes the subject of homosexuality.

I won’t go into too much detail as I don’t want to spoil everything the book has to offer but we come to realise that Harden is bisexual, which is quite rare to see in books. I think it is wonderful that Guizzetti has dared to approach these subjects and decided to explore them.

There is simply just so many things going on within this novel and you can’t help but let of all these intertwining events and politics take over your own imagination. What if our world was like that? Where would we be as a civilisation? It most definitely gives you cause for concern as you come across the beginnings of these things in our own country.

Of course a review wouldn’t be fair without showing both sides of the coin. If subjects such as rape and character sexuality are something that you wish NOT to read then I’m afraid you won’t find this book very enjoyable. The sensitive subjects are never thrown at you with menace but I would assume that many people may find all of this uncomfortable in a shockingly unpleasant way.

I think it fair to say that at times, the flow of the book can slow and it is at these times where reading can become a little confusing especially if you aren’t fully aware of the subject matter. However, with a book of this nature and calibre it does deserve your entire attention.

I would highly recommend Elizabeth Guizzetti’s Other Systems as a book to reignite the Sci-Fi genre to you if you have ever left it if you are fan; definitely go and add it to your wish list. It has a nice balance of action and emotion and with very well written characters, there will be someone in here that you can find so attachable. It’s an intelligent novel that will send your mind wondering and I loved the fact that the book could become quite intense at times because ultimately this strengthened my connection with the characters. When you read this book, you will understand exactly what I mean.

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Author Interview with Elizabeth Guizzetti

It gives me great pleasure to welcome Elizabeth Guizzetti here for an interview. Hi Elizabeth! Her author profile tells us that she loves to create (which is extremely apparent within her book) and once she has an idea she runs off with the idea, not letting it go until she has given it her all. Over the past decade, she has created over 100 paintings, three graphic novels and a comic book series. Other Systems is her first published novel.

Elizabeth currently lives in Seattle with her husband and two dogs.

  • Other Systems is a wonderfully crafted and well structured Sci-Fi novel featuring Abby’s quest to start a new life. Tell us a little about what we can discover inside?

 

Other Systems is a story of determination and survival set against a background of scientific exploration. It explores the loss of identity, family, and friends due to time dilation.

Without an influx of human DNA, the planet Kipos has eleven generations before its human colony reaches failure. Gene splicing and cloning have failed. It will take over two centuries to get to Earth and back at near light speed. When the Kiposi transports arrive in our solar system, they are shocked to discover the outer colonies (Triton, Ganymede among others) are abandoned. The Home World is crumbling and filled with 17 billion wanton savages.

The novel follows Abby, an Earthling, who after medical, intelligence, and physiological testing is offered transportation along with her younger siblings, Jin and Orchid. They leave Earth with the expectation of good jobs, kindhearted spouses, and the opportunity for higher education. When Abby wakes up on Kipos, Jin cannot be found. Orchid is ripped from her arms as Abby is sold to a dull-eyed man with a sterilized wife. To survive, Abby must learn the differences in culture and language using the only thing that is truly hers on this new world: her observant and analytical mind. To escape her captors, she’ll join a planetary survey team.

While most of the novel is written from Abby’s perspective; the prologue, intermissions and conclusion focus on Cole Alekos and his family. These breaks in the narrative show the consequences of the Reproduction Laws, advances in technology, the variable nature of time, and the effect of Abby’s presence on his family after his adult daughter decides to take her in.

  • Other Systems is set so far in the future in 3062. How did you go about creating Earth so far ahead of our time? Was it all from your entire imagination or did you take elements from our own lives and evolve them further?

I know quite a bit about the construction of Seattle and was able to imagine what would happen if the seawall collapsed and if the infrastructure began to break down. Yes, I did take elements from current technology and evolved them to what might be if levels of tech continued to rise and fall as population continued to rise. If necessity is the mother of all invention, I just considered what would be necessary. Solar and methane collection would become crucial. I loved the idea that artificial intelligence decided to leave Earth and Kipos after they evolved past humans. They don’t have anything against humans, they just don’t want to hang out with us either.

  • I think Abby is such a relatable character. She has dreams to further herself and become somebody and although it is a bit of a risk to venture to Kipos, it is one many of us can understand. She has such a strong voice. What is it about Abby that you think is addictive yet relatable?

I am proud that I wrote a character that people seem to care about even when they get frustrated with her. One reason I think people care about her is that she has flaws, she makes mistakes. Yet she has strength of character. She is a survivor no matter what happens she keeps going.

  • Other Systems cover many sensitive issues; some political, others more ethical. It must have been hard to write about these with such detail? However it is done so professionally. I commend your daring about including these issues. What compelled you to include/write about these issues?

Let me first start by explaining how I wrote it. The concept for Other Systems really hit me when I was out walking the dogs: a young Earth woman goes to another planet and realizes she has become a slave. However, due to her intelligence, she will escape and become a ship’s captain while she rescues her siblings also somewhere lost on this planet. Obviously this original idea is not exactly the final concept. That very night, I saw an article about young, uneducated girls from India’s rural areas traveling into new cities and thinking that they are going to get factory jobs only to end up working as sex slaves. Suddenly, I knew the how Abby got caught up in all of this.

As for writing controversial issues (suicide, sex, swearing, politics, etc.) should be integral to the plot in some way. So first of all, I ask myself: Is this scene necessary? How much of the scene is necessary? Abby’s rape was integral to the plot and I had to force myself to not rush the scene though I didn’t want to write it at all.

For every negative scene, I tried to remember there would be a positive scene. The scene that was the hardest scene to write was the birth of Rachel Margret/Lei Lei. It took me a long time to write convincingly how much joy Abby had for the child’s life then her accompanying pain when the child is taken from her arms.

  • I love your approach regarding character’s sexual identity, in my opinion it sets it far ahead of other novels of similar theme. Were you ever worried about readers’ reactions or possible homophobia?

Not really. It is probably to my detriment, but I don’t worry about readers’ reactions to challenging subjects. My goal is to write a complex and interesting story and characters who readers sympathize with.

Besides, I figure people who are homophobic would have never got past the opening chapter. They wouldn’t agree with Lucy’s suicide as a protected right or Harden screaming obscenities at his father. If they happened to get to the second intermission, they learn Harden is bisexual like most people in the Fleet. He leans towards hetero, but he has had homosexual relationships. They probably would put the book down right then and there.

What surprised me is Abby’s sexuality has been more problematic for some reviewers than the homosexuality. Apparently, there is still an idea that a young girl should just want love from one special guy, but Abby thinks about love and sex with various men and boys.

  • What is it about the Sci-Fi genre that captures you? Did you just happen to fall into that genre or have you always had a healthy respect for it?

It is the story that captures my attention. Abby’s story happened to be science fiction. The day the inspiration struck I knew it would be. I have also written (in comics) fantasy, a dark comedy, and historical horror, each time I always knew what the story would turn out to be.

That being said, prior to writing my first novel, I loved science fiction as a genre and so does my husband. With this project, I hoped to create something my husband would love.

Since then I discovered I have a knack for mixing science with solid characters. Both of my published written works, Other Systems and the short story Unintentional Colonists are character driven sci-fi.

  • Despite all of the action and wonderful plot, it is the characters and their relationships that I loved the most. It was almost sad to reach the end. Does Abby, Harden or Mark feature in any of your future plans or has their full story been told?

The series will not have a traditional sequel, but it’s a big universe. There is so much more to explore including what happened on Earth after the Kiposi left the space elevators and what happened on Kipos. If it goes to plan…you will see all three characters again.

  • Other Systems was published in April of this year and has been released for some time. I’m intrigued to hear about your short story ‘Unintentional Colonists’. What’s that all about?

After 12 years of no gravity in space or low gravity on Europa, the crew of the one of the first long term space missions must decide if they want to go home and be crippled or stay on Europa and continue to do scientific research.

It was published by Perihelion SF on October 12 of this year. Everyone can read it for free at http://perihelionsf.com/fiction_4.htm

  • Sci-Fi has its own set of rules to follow and it must be difficult to avoid accidental ‘copying’ from well known Sci-Fi examples. Tell us your thoughts.

I don’t know if there are rules per say, but most science fiction has both scientific thought and the hypothesis of “what might be if…”

Sometimes I do worry about accidental ‘copying’ and think many authors probably do. After all, did I come up with the idea of artificial intelligence, nanotech, FtL messaging and travel? Nope. That technology is literally in hundreds if not thousands of books, movies, games, and television shows. Scientists right now are working to develop technologies that will push science even further.

When I needed technology or science for Other Systems, Unintentional Colonists or any story, I researched prevailing theories, chose one, then filled in the holes with fiction. Since that is what all authors do, it makes sense there is some crossover. Because every author is going to tell their stories their own way, the stories are going to be original. For example, there are other stories with Artificial Intelligence, some times they even become sentient, but I never read any story where the AI becomes sentient because someone was polite to it. That’s part of my story.

  • And lastly, what advice would you give to new Sci-Fi writers who are looking to get published?

This advice is really for any author. Since there are no guarantees, be passionate about the stories you write. Getting published is often an issue of reading submission guidelines, contacting the right market, determination, and not giving up.

Other Systems

What a great interesting interview! It’s really rewarding sometimes when you have loved a book to get to know the gritty information behind the novel and what went into it whilst it was still ‘under construction’. Thank you Elizabeth! I wish you all the best for the future and readers, if you loved what you have read get reading her free short story. You can purchase Other Systems though  using the link you are more familiar with. Amazon USAmazon UK , 48Fourteen,  Barnes & Noble.

Be sure to keep reading Sci Fi week on my blog for your chance to win a free copy of Other Systems by Elizabeth Guizzetti and a surprise gift from Elizabeth herself!

Born in Flames by Candace Knoebel

I recently had the opportunity to interview American author Candace Knoebel, which some of you may already know after having read it. Well as a kind gesture, Candace sent me a complementary copy of ‘Born in Flames’, which I have finally got around to reading and as debut novels go, this one is a special gem.

For those of you who have not heard of this, ‘Born in Flames’ is YA Urban Fantasy novel whose lead characters Aurora and Fenn, soon realise that they are unlike everybody else in their small Hawaiian town. Aurora has always know she is that little bit different, yet she cannot put her finger on it, but all she does know is that her weird ability to withstand fire is part of it. Despite not knowing her early life, Aurora had ploughed through life with her foster mother and now has her own little place and is beginning to live life on her own two feet.

Imagine her surprise when she discovers a prophecy that tells of her lineage with dragons and how she must go on a quest of personal discovery to realise her true destiny. Aurora is unique, one of a kind, half dragon half mage and for some that is a dangerous thing. Danger is after her, ready to kill in order to rid their realm of this girl who is destined to return the balance and win the war that is looming on the horizon. Alongside her is Fenn, who naturally takes a step backwards to the feisty, confident Aurora, but soon discovers himself that he is very much a part of this prophecy and must live up to expectations set on him from a past life back in the realm hidden in the caves.

‘Born in Flames’ is perhaps the first Urban Fantasy I have read and I was pleasantly surprised with how realistic the novel was despite the obvious expectation a fantasy genre presents. The whole story has a nice balance of what we know is real and what we perceive as myth and the whole pressing issue of Aurora’s lineage keeps you hooked until the end, because Candace Knoebel does a wonderful job with not letting many secrets slip right at the beginning.

Aurora is wonderfully crafted with a spunky personality yet with the first person perspective in which the book is written as the reader, we get to see more of the internal Aurora; raw feelings on show for all of us to digest. We will her to succeed and we go on a journey with, discovering everything along the way as she does. It is a brilliant connection. She isn’t without her faults though, sometimes she comes a bit whiney and a little bit stubborn, so much so to hinder a situation, but she readily admits this to us along the way.

I actually had the most fun with Fenn. I long to find out more about him and yet the little tit bits of information just doesn’t seem to satisfy his awesome character. I really hope we find more about him in the next book. I almost became dismayed when Fenn leaves and there is a good chunk of the book without him. A romance does start between the two and although it becomes obvious very early on, it isn’t done so in an awfully cheesy way. Aurora knows she must focus on other things and shuts Fenn’s advances down on more than one occasion.

Sometimes with novels such as this, I find it can always be the smallest of characters that actually have the biggest personalities that make you think about them long after you have put the story down. For me in ‘Born in Flames’ it was the old librarian that helps Aurora and Fenn with the tales of Dragons and of the ancient ruins on the island. His inclusive may have not been very original, but his chapter in the book for me was one of my favourites.

As with debut novels, there has to be lot of time spent on characterisation and building up relationships. This is integral in building up the book and the history, but sometimes can slow down the progression. Candace counters this with small interesting action scenes, where Aurora somehow phases into the other realm and faces her rival head on. It is all exciting stuff! I particularly enjoyed the magical action scenes towards the end of the novel where everything starts to come to a head. It is full of wonderfully creative, imaginative and magical jaunts of spell casting and realistic and necessary violence.

It can be hard to review a book without giving too much away, yet Born in Flames comes across as a quite simple book. Girl discovers prophecy, must complete quest, must return home. It isn’t until you start to sit back and really think about everything going on together than you realise and appreciate just how complex this book is and especially the worlds that Candace creates. Everything has there own set of rules and laws and I for one, will be looking forward to finding much much more about this other realm in the subsequent books that follow.

If I were to pick out a criticism about ‘Born in Flames’ then I’m afraid it must be the ending. It leaves us with so many questions, which is good because it grabs a hold of your imagination, forcing you to ponder what comes next for Aurora until the book is out, but it does so with an almost happy ending. I would have loved for it to be left with a much more compulsive addictive cliff-hangar. Perhaps I am being a bit too picky, but perhaps not. I feel it is a fair comment.

If you love fantasy and YA fiction then you will simply fall in love with Candace Knoebel’s  ‘Born in Flames’. It offers magic, myth, love, action and is done so in a tightly knit mysterious plot that doesn’t answer all of its questions, but leaves you wanting to find out more and for me that is the very essence of a trilogy or series. ‘Born in Flames’ is part of something much bigger and reading the various interviews on her blog tour, I am very excited about what is to come next. Let’s just hope we see a bit more of Fenn next time around *cheeky face*.

‘Born in Flames’, published by 48Fourteen,  is available in eBook format across a number of online and international retail websites. Amazon and Amazon UK are so easily accessible.

Born in Flames on Goodreads

Born in Flames

Author Interview: Candace Knoebel

I had the great opportunity to ask author Candace Knoebel about her upcoming debut novel ‘Born in Flames’ the other day. It has been evident to see from her bubbly personality that she is extremely excited about the prospect of becoming a published author for the first time. Her first dream however, was always to become a dancer on the stage, possibly in New York. However it was her love of reading and her creative drive that changed her mind and pushed her to become a writer. She is a lover of many different genres ranging from modern bestsellers such as the Harry Potter series and Twilight, to classics such as Jane Eyre and The Catcher in the Rye.

Her debut novel, ‘Born in Flames’ released on 6th September 2012 and published by 48Fourteen Publishing, is an Urban Fantasy and YA fiction novel featuring lead character Aurora Megalos and her discovery that she is in fact part dragon. It’s a book that sees her try to discover her past to comfort her present and the discoveries she makes along the way ultimately leads to a pending question. Is she to face evil and remember her past or allow the safety of the unknown to keep her firmly rooted in our world. With an eerie prophecy retold by a crazed seer and a mysterious enemy on her heels at every turn, ‘Born in Flames’ is a novel you won’t want to miss.

Here is the interview:

  • Born in Flames, your debut novel, sounds extremely inviting. A girl that is descended from Dragons! Tell us a little about how the story started and became what it is.

Born in Flames started in 2009. I have a really short attention span and get bored pretty easily. I simply sat down one night, started typing, and have been at it ever since! I’ve always love writing; I just never considered it a career. That is, until I wrote this novel. I wouldn’t trade it for the world and am glad that boredom exists!

  • I’ve read that Born in Flames is actually the first part of a trilogy. Do you have it all planned out or are you going to play around and see where you end up?

Yes it is pretty much planned out. The second novel, Embracing the Flames, is complete and going through my final read-through. Once I feel I’m happy with it, I will submit it to my publisher and wait for the real fun to begin. As for the third, I will begin writing when the second goes to the publisher. I have an idea of where it is going, but the fun of writing is in all of the details, unexpected characters, and scenes that pop up unexpectedly.

  • Tell us about some of the characters we’ll meet in Born in Flames. Do you have a particular favourite? Is there one that you wish to develop further in later books?

The main characters are Aurora and Fenn. Out of the two, I’d have to be partial and go with Aurora. She’s feisty, courageous, hardheaded, kind…everything I’d want to read in a Heroine. Fenn on the other hand balances her out. He’s funny, quirky, loving, protective (to a fault), and he’s her very best friend. As for the development of a character, there’s a new race that I brought into the second novel and one character in particular that weighs heavily on my mind. I think we will see more of her in the third.

 

 

  • The cover art is very exquisite, is Aurora portrayed how you imagined her?

I totally agree! It was done by Ravven. She is exactly how I imagined her! I was lucky enough to be included on the process for the cover with my publisher and Ravven. I gave them a paragraph’s worth of description and Ravven rolled with it. The only thing that is different is her scales. They are described as ruby red and mirrored.

  • Is the fantasy genre a particular favourite of yours?

Oh yes!!! Always has been and always will be! I also go for YA/Paranormal Romance/ Dystopian…things of that nature.

  • Who are your favourite authors and have they influenced you in any way?

First and foremost I’d have to say J.K. Rowling. She is my biggest inspiration. I started reading Harry Potter when I was 11, which is right around the time when her first novel was released, so I’ve pretty much grown up with him. It broke my heart when the last book was out and I devoured it in a matter of days. I’d be lying if I said she didn’t influence me.

  • I’ve read that you started writing Born in Flames during your lunch breaks and late into the night, once your children were tucked happily in bed. How important is it to stick to a routine?

I think it’s very important. At least for me. Like I mentioned above, I get easily sidetracked, so if I don’t have a schedule, I feel lost. Back then though, I was working a full-time job so it was even more crucial to have a schedule. Now I am a stay-at-home mom, so I squeeze it in whenever I can.

  • It is easy to say ‘Believe in your Dreams’ but at times I bet the writing and publishing process can be extremely frustrating? When things aren’t going as smoothly as you hoped, what ways do you cheer yourself up and get your mind focused back into writing?

It’s funny that you ask this. I’ve found in the publishing industry that things definitely don’t go as planned, especially if you are going with traditional rather than self-publishing like I have. The fate of your novel rests in your publisher’s or agent’s hands. I wouldn’t trade a minute of it though! To cheer me up when the chips are down; I call my bestie Sonya. She is my rock and she always knows what to say to pull me out of my funks. I highly recommend a bestie!

  • If you could describe Born in Flames in just five words, what would they be?

Haha…save the best for last. Hmmm… Where magic meets everyday life.

A huge thanks to Candace for answering those questions. Candace, i wish you luck with your series and look forward to reading it in the near future. Born in Flames is available in eBook format for Nook and Kindle. You can purchase it on the 6th September 2012 at the publisher’s website and get a free PDF file too, so even if you do not own an eReader device, you can still read it on your computer. It is an American novel, but they take payment by PayPal, which converts the currency of your own country for you so it doesn’t matter where in the world you are, there is no excuse. Get downloading!

Here is the trailer for Born in Flames, created by Candace herself