ETJ Writes

Archive for the tag “Indie Author”

Dreamer Review

Hello Friends!

I’m so excited to see everyone here, and to present you with my review of Dreamer! (It’s also posted on Goodreads, so be sure to head over there and add the book to your “want-to-read” shelves.)

I first came across Ja-Mel Vinson because of his ARC unboxing video that popped up in my twitter feed, and his genuine excitement and enthusiasm about his story caught my interest.

I also thought the cover was really neat and conveyed an air of mystery and wonder, so when an opportunity came along to review Vinson’s novel, I jumped at the chance. I feel that reading this book has given me a better understanding of Vinson’s brand as an author, and re-introduced me to a genre I’d almost forgotten about.

You may have noticed the picture that accompanies this review – in one of my livetweets from my reading sessions, I said that I hoped people would be eager to cosplay Vinson’s characters, and since I dabble a bit in the art myself, I thought I might as well lead the charge on that one. I had a lot of fun putting this together, so without further ado, let’s get to my thoughts about Dreamer.

Dreamer Dreamer by Ja-Mel Vinson | Category: NA/YA
Genre: Urban Fantasy
(Age range 14–25)
3.5 stars out of 5.

ja-mel-vinson

**Note: I received an ARC for this blog tour that in no way influenced my honest review**

“Dreamer” tells the story of Maya, a young adult whose troubling dreams begin to unfold in reality just as she embarks on her college adventures. Soon she discovers long buried secrets and a host of dangers that affect the lives of everyone she cares about, and in the middle of it all is the mysterious Lucent, whom Maya feels strongly compelled toward, for reasons she doesn’t understand.

I did like this novel. The opening of the story definitely grabbed my attention, and though I’m not a huge fan of first person POV, in this case that actually helped me to sink into Maya’s perspective and really believe the story was being told by a young lady and not the male author.

For the first six or so chapters, I had a hard time connecting with the story, particularly because of the rather high stakes presented with very little build up, but when the corset dresses were introduced, things began to click into place for me, and I realised that with its large cast of strong female characters, sparkly transformative powers, and animal companions that are more than they seem that “Dreamer” falls into the same category as “Cardcaptor Sakura,” “Tokyo Mew Mew,” or “Sailor Moon.” I felt like I was reading an anime in novel form, and that was only reinforced more and more as the book went along. Once I was able to visualise the novel in that way, the rest of the book made a lot more sense, as the storytelling tropes and plot devices of the genre sometimes referred to as “magical girl anime” rely on a set of very different rules that are not typical to your average western YA novel.

I very much enjoyed all the strong friendships the characters have, and the underlying mystery surrounding Lucent helps drive the story and keep it interesting. There are a few big plot twists and key events that Vinson pulled off nicely, and the way “Dreamer” ended was quite well done. For a story that foreshadowed rather a lot, and explained even more, I still found myself pleasantly surprised that I hadn’t quite predicted how everything would turn out.

Another aspect I enjoyed was the writing. “Dreamer” has good, clear prose interspersed with more poetic lines that demand attention without tipping into purple prose. It’s very easy to imagine what the characters look like, and my favourite bit of description comes from Chapter 10:

“The moon moved with its star-servants but remained higher and closer and larger to the eye. Atop its stellar seat, it commanded attention while clouds grew and shrank like animals bound by a leash. The moon was the ringleader, wielding power over everything, presumably even the bestial and elongated vapors that drifted ahead of it.”

(As an aside, having read the story, the cover is very symbolic of quite a few different events that happen, and I can see why Vinson is so thrilled with it.)

The one thing I was curious about was how the Tri-Curve looked, and upon reaching out to the author, he kindly provided me with a graphic which greatly helped to visualise it properly, and I’ve included my stylised version of it in this review:

Now, the world of Dreamer is similar to ours, but also quite different, with a large set of internal rules and in-depth history, and because of this, there is a lot of exposition to explain how everything works. At times this really slowed the pace of the story, and dragged out scenes longer than they needed to be. At some points, explanations are included very organically in the story, through training sessions, or information presented in class through learning games, but at other times, the story would be progressing, a new element would be introduced, the plot would pause as Maya reflected on it, and then the story would resume. For me, this resulted in uneven pacing that lacked urgency, especially when new expositional information continued to be introduced near the end of the story.

Overall pacing was also a little stilted, and I felt like the story really began once we reached chapter 12, which made the preceding chapters feel like backstory, or at least story arcs that could have been told at a later point to preserve the forward motion of the narrative. (Not that the novel ever came to a standstill, but sometimes I felt as if it were in slow motion.) I often felt that I was waiting for the plot to really kick in. Because of this, my actual rating for “Dreamer” comes to a 3.5, although I am giving it 4 stars since I don’t believe the quality of the novel merits only a 3, and there’s no option for including half star ratings.

All in all, I think this book is something 14-16 year me would have loved, given my (somewhat concerning) obsession with anything anime at the time, and I don’t doubt that other teens and young adults will enjoy it and relate to the characters and their friendships and conflicts. I’m looking forward to what Vinson produces next, and believe that his storycrafting can only continue to advance.

See all my reviews


(So there you have it, my review of Dreamer by Ja-Mel Vinson. I wish him much success with the launch of his debut novel, and many thanks to Shealea for making this whole blog tour experience very smooth and easy to navigate. (Launch post and other bloggers on the tour here.)

Don’t forget to join in on twitter March 2nd, 2019 for a live chat regarding Dreamer, and a chance to win a signed ARC of the novel!

 

 

Happy reading!
ETJ

Brand New ETJ Writes Author Feature. (At addisoncarmichael.com)

HELLO FRIENDS!!!

I’m super excited to be sharing my first ever online author feature with you all! The lovely Addison Carmichael has graciously taken the time to feature me this month on her website:

I absolutely adore this pretty header Addison chose that goes so well with the content of the feature.

All the details are here, so go check it out!

And while you’re at it, add her newest upcoming book “Knight” from the “Sons of the Alpha” series to your to-be-read pile. I had a chance to read it in advance, and you can check out my goodreads review here.

Happy reading!
ETJ

Tedenbarr of Have Lath

Indian Echo Caverns November 2018

Hello Friends!

indian echo with books

Many thanks to the lovely ladies at Indian Echo Caverns for inviting my wonderful mother and I to their homeschool day at the caverns alongside CHAP: Christian Homeschool Association of Pennsylvania. (Find Marann Jones’ book on the joys of Christian home education here: Four Jewels in My Crown).

We couldn’t have asked for better weather, and the caverns were a delight to explore. I could just see all the scenes from “Tedenbarr of Have Lath” coming to life:

The convoy rounded a corner and Tedenbarr caught his breath. Unlike the dim, sombre chamber the Alliance had first passed through, torches flung their light from every corner of the enormous cavern the longboats had just entered.
_

An ancient stone city was carved into the rock of the cavern, its grandeur like something out of the old tales. Free standing houses sat along the canal’s walkways, and some of the windows had curtains hung from them that glowed from the presence of light within. Lar Jahaal let go of his oar to gesture to the broken yet magnificent city that stretched out before Tedenbarr.
_

“Welcome to old A’an.”


Meeting all the homeschool families was really fantastic, and thanks to all who bought books – your support is much appreciated.

Looking forward to seeing everybody at the next book signing – until then, happy reading!

ETJ

New Quill Pen

Hello Friends!

In my quest to better my craft (and since I enjoy writing by hand) I have recently acquired a beautiful ostrich feather quill pen from Nostalgic Impressions. There’s been a bit of a learning curve, but I’m enjoying every moment.

2018 CHAP Convention

Hello Friends!

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending my first CHAP convention from the perspective of a vendor (as a home educated graduate, I have been many times in the past with my mother to review and obtain high quality curricula and materials). I was mostly attending the June 1st & 2nd convention to assist my wonderful mom as she displayed her recently published work Four Jewels in My Crown, a part-memoir, part-instructive narrative that is a lovely tribute to biblical focused home education and an encouragement for other homeschooling moms – new, current or veterans thereof.

In the process I was also granted the opportunity to be able to present my debut novel Tedenbarr of Have Lath, and I must say that the event was absolutely wonderful. We conversed with attendees and other vendors alike, enjoying so many meaningful interactions with homeschooling families of all ages and size. The staff and volunteers could not have been any more helpful or welcoming, and were a huge part of making our first CHAP vendor experience such a positive one.

Lord willing, I hope to be able to return in the years following and continue to be encouraged and encourage others in the home education community, and to keep supporting excellence in literacy in readers both beginning and advanced alike.

Happy Reading!

ETJ

Books, Books, Books!

Hello Friends!

Reading from Tedenbarr of Have Lath in the Children's LibraryThanks so much to all who came out to the Coyle Free Library’s Grand Reopening to hear me read excerpts from Tedenbarr of Have Lath, and who bought copies for themselves or friends and family. I enjoyed hearing all the fascinating stories that everybody had to share, and it was absolutely wonderful to meet so many different people all brought together by the love of books and joy of reading!

Many thanks also to Sarah, the children’s librarian, who couldn’t have been more helpful in coordinating the event, and also to the other brilliant and talented writers at the event. I shared a cosy, sun-filled room with Sherri Maret, Jennie K. Brown, and Rachael T. Reiton, who were three of the most genial and welcoming ladies I have ever met. It really was a joy getting to know each author and watching kids’ faces light up with each new story they discovered.

I look forward to returning to the Coyle Free Library for future events, and to enjoy all the features the newly refreshed library has to offer.


Additional photos can be found at Instagram and Facebook, and don’t forget to join the mailing list and follow me on your preferred social media to receive notifications for future events, and keep up-to-date on the latest news from me.

Happy Reading!

ETJ

Coffee and Books!

Hello Friends!

I was so thrilled to meet those of you who were able to come out to Friday’s book signing. The gathering was small but cosy, and I really got to know each person. I loved hearing all your thoughtful questions, as well as your own experiences with writing and I do hope you will continue your creative endeavours.

For those of you who missed the event, I do have additional pictures posted both on Instagram and Facebook, and please keep scrolling to view a 2-part video of the event featuring the entire reading session, and part of the Q&A (unfortunately the camera did cut out here and there, so part 2 is edited together as best as possible).

Thanks to everybody who graciously allowed me to post pictures of them online, and thanks to my wonderful mother who kindly filmed the event and took many of the photographs.

Don’t forget to join the mailing list to receive notifications for future events, and please follow me on your preferred social media if you would like to stay up-to-date on the latest news from me.

Happy Reading!

ETJ



New Contact Form/Follow Button

Hello Friends!

I have just changed the way I deliver updates from ETJ Writes to readers. There is now a “follow” button on the side of this site, just under the “books” tab, and the process is now easier than ever, no comments required!

Of course I would love to hear from each and every one of you, so please feel free to leave your thoughts on my newly revamped Contact page, and stay up-to-date by checking out my various social media hangouts.

Thanks for all your support!

Happy reading!

ETJ

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