Short Story: Daemon Academy by Danielle Rose

daemon academy

Title: Daemon Academy
Author: Danielle Rose
Genre: Horror
Age: Young Adult (although this will depend on the maturity of the reader to some degree)
Is This Part of a Series?: No

Summary: (*taken from the Daemon Academy page on Goodreads)
Kemper Academy is over a hundred years old, but it has only recently reopened after a series of murders and stories of hauntings shut it down. Avlynn, a new student, refuses to let the rumors scare her, chalking them up to a bit of friendly freshman hazing. But when night falls and screams draw her from her room, she finds the truth is much more horrifying than any ghost story.

Overall Impression:
This was a quick read with just the right amount of scariness to make me tense, but not induce bad dreams.

The Nitty Gritty:
I enjoyed this story from the very first sentence. Ms. Rose clearly put thought into finding heavy duty words. Almost all of the sentences in Daemon Academy do more than just one job: character building, world building, atmosphere building, etc. Which is a very good thing, in this short story. (In any short story, really).

My favorite part of this story was the way it fits within the horror genre. There was plenty of tension and atmosphere, a spooky setting and a great legend to go with it, and even a set of well-developed characters. Despite all of these elements that were appropriate to the horror genre, however, the gore level (and by this I mean level of description of blood, ghosts, hauntings, etc that make horror so horrifying) was at the perfect level for me. It was scary and other-worldly, but not graphic.

The worst part of this story is that it ends. While nothing is as thoroughly developed as in a novel, the perception is that the depth exists for them. And then ending to the story certainly leaves me wanting to know what happens next (although this is a complete story).

Special Considerations:
As this is a horror story, I believe it is important for parents to read this before letting their younger teenagers read it. It is a quick read, so won’t take up too much of your time, and a read-through will allow you to gauge whether or not your child will enjoy this or be disturbed by this. You know your child best, after all.

Goodreads Rating: 4.86 Stars (7 Ratings)
Amazon Rating: 5 Stars (3 Reviews)
My Rating: 5 Stars

My other reviews of Ms. Rose’s work:
Blood Rose


Author Interview: Anne Conley

Yesterday I did a review of Anne Conley’s book Wire (book 2 in the Pierce Securities romantic suspense series). Check it out here if you haven’t already. While reading her book, I found several elements that made me want to learn more. Here’s what I asked (and her answers too, if you really must have them 🙂  )…

1.  I just finished reading Wire, which is book number two in your Pierce Securities series. Which came first: the idea for the series or an individual book? Which is harder for you and how do you work yourself through the more difficult side of the plotting/planning?

I was just finishing my Stories of Serendipity series, which was my first willy-nilly, extremely organic foray into writing for public consumption.  I knew I needed a new series to start, and wanted to do something a little different, so I thought romantic suspense would be fun.  The idea for the series was what came first—a securities team.  But I wanted them to be different from others, so they are all guys who for some reason or another don’t quit fit in with their ‘real life’ rolls.  For example, in the first book, Craze, Ryan is ex-Coast Guard who can’t stand working with pleasure boaters on Lake Travis, because he’s seen too many disasters in his work.

To get myself through the more difficult aspects, I find it’s advantageous to take a step away from it.  That’s one reason why I have multiple works in progress at any given time. Chocolate helps too.

2.  On the book level, it seems as if (for this series) the books are connected through the men (since they are the employees of Pierce Securities, which also lends its name to the series as a whole). Did you come up with the men first, and then create a plot and woman to him, or did you come up with a plot (such as the gaming and hacking centered plot in Wire) and then create a man to fit that?

The men came first, and the plots afterward.  For example, Evan, from Wire is a hot geek, which I find awesome.  His story came after.

3.  The star game of Paige’s company is based off of fairy tales. Which fairy tale is your favorite and why?

I like Beauty and the Beast.  In fact, Quinten’s story, when it comes, will be a modern adaptation of that fairy tale, for no particular reason, if all goes well.

4.  How many Pierce Securities books do you hope to write? Do you have a release date (or hoped for release date) for the next one? 

At the moment, there’s seven, but that’s apt to change.  The next one, Click, is due out toward the beginning of October.

5.  Finally, if you could be anything, what type and/or color of dragon would you be and why? More importantly, what would be the first book you placed in your literary horde and why?

Iridescent black waterhorse.  That’s a type of dragon, right?  The first book I’d have would be a Gutenberg Bible, because they’re beautiful, rare, and valuable—perfect for my horde.

Places to find Anne Conley:
Twitter: @anneconley10

Wire by Anne Conley


Title: Wire
Author: Anne Conley
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Age: New Adult and up
Is This Book Part of a Series?: Yes (Book #2 of the Pierce Securities series)

*I received an unedited Advanced Reading Copy version of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I also have chosen not comment on or include typos and such in my review or rating.

Evan Rocco is a skilled hacker, an AI expert, and a member of the team at Pierce Securities. Paige Lawson is the CEO of gaming software company PSL. When PSL’s game Realm of Worlds character The Crimson Lady begins brainwashing teenagers into attacking real life people, Evan and Paige have to team up in order to save Paige’s company and the people of Austin. But will their one-night stand from six months earlier get in their way?

Overall Impression:
This book appeals to the geek in me, and the fact that the “star” of Paige’s company is based off of fairy tales appeals to the writer in me. The characters are fun and well-matched as a couple. The bad guy is suitably slimy. In other words, it was worth the read and had some great qualities.

The Nitty Gritty:
This book opens up with a bang, featuring Paige–fresh off winning a hostile takeover–prowling a bar looking for a one night stand. She finds it in Evan Rocco, a man she has admired physically and intellectually for years. They have a very hot night of sex, which is well-written, with just enough on-stage action to keep it interesting and just enough off-stage action to keep it from being repetitive. This takes the book from the typical trajectory of the couple fighting their physical interest in each other and shifts it to looking at how the pair can deal with the attraction they admittedly have, while doubting whether or not that is all that the other person feels. It is a small change, but it is a nice one, keeping the romance aspect of this book feeling more fresh and unique than is typically the case. In addition to this, it sets it up so that Evan is already aware of how much he likes Paige. He never really doubts whether or not he has feelings for her. Just whether or not she has feelings for him. And a man being willing to admit to himself that he cares for a woman is a nice change for a romance.

Dialogue was one of the things that stood out for me in this book, for a couple of reasons. When Paige and Evan were talking, I noticed several times that it felt like their scenes seemed a little bit forced feeling, like they were saying what would be expected to be said at that scene, rather than what truly fit them. The thoughts that accompanied these “forced” scenes also seemed to also be on the overly-telling side. Instead of just having the words flying back and forth between Paige and Evan, there were pauses to share their thoughts. Thoughts that were really rather redundant based on the actions that were accompanying their dialogue. It wasn’t horrible, by any means, but it was certainly noticeable. Especially when you put it next to the very smooth, well-written dialogue that exists between Evan and the other employees at Pierce Securities. Those scenes were downright good. I fell right into them and could easily picture the scene, actions, and the individual, unique characters that were interacting.

As for the suspense aspect of this book, there were some positives and negatives both. First, I saw the bad guy coming a little sooner than I would have liked. (In other words, I figured things out sooner than I wanted). This in and of itself isn’t that unusual for me, however. My biggest issue with this is that Evan, who is in the securities business, had such a hard time seeing the truth. I could get behind the idea that perhaps he was too wrapped up in figuring out his relationship with Paige, but that only allows him a certain amount of slack. And I feel like he stayed in the dark a bit longer than is truly realistic. (Not that I have ever been in a “real” mystery myself, of course, so perhaps it is accurate. How it feels, however, is that Evan is a bit on the slow side). The saving grace here is the tension. Despite knowing, more or less, who the bad guy was and how he was enacting his plans, I was still tense over the idea of whether or not Evan and Paige would win in the end. Who knows? Perhaps Evan being slow to catch on even added to the tension. Either way, this was a suspenseful books and gets good marks for that, even if there are things I wish were different.

Goodreads Rating: 4.39 (33 Reviews)
Amazon Rating: 4.9 Stars (21 Reviews)
My Rating: 4 Stars
The writing is solid, the story is solid, and I found it to be an enjoyable read over all. I would like to go back to read Ryan’s story (Craze, Pierce Securities book 1) and plan on following this series to its conclusion, however many books that may be.

Craft Study: Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey


Title: Dragonflight
Author: Anne McCaffrey
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy
Age: Young Adult +
Is This Part of a Series?: Yes (Book 1 of a trilogy; plus many other books set on this planet)

*I have bought this book multiple times throughout my lifetime and currently have one copy of each book in this trilogy (and a few other Pern books) on my bookcases

*This summary was taken from the Dragonflight page on Amazon.

To the nobles who live in Benden Weyr, Lessa is nothing but a ragged kitchen girl. For most of her life she has survived by serving those who betrayed her father and took over his lands. Now the time has come for Lessa to shed her disguise—and take back her stolen birthright.

But everything changes when she meets a queen dragon. The bond they share will be deep and last forever. It will protect them when, for the first time in centuries, Lessa’s world is threatened by Thread, an evil substance that falls like rain and destroys everything it touches. Dragons and their Riders once protected the planet from Thread, but there are very few of them left these days. Now brave Lessa must risk her life, and the life of her beloved dragon, to save her beautiful world. . . .

Overall Opinion:
This is not necessarily the best book I have ever read, but it is certainly the book I have reread the most times–and I haven’t reached my limit on it yet, either. This book captured my imagination the first time I read it, led me to reading almost all of her other Pern books, set me on the path to writing fantasy, and still leaves me day dreaming about having my own dragon-rider bond. I have always loved this book and always will.

The Nitty Gritty:
During my second semester of the Stonecoast program I was finding myself facing what I thought was burnout: books were not seeming as exciting to me. My only other theory was that perhaps I was so focused on the craft of writing that I would no longer be able to “just” read. Neither was a very pleasant thought. And then I got swept along on a week of whirlwind reading: six books in seven days. A miracle with two small children interrupting me every other breath. And one of those miracle books was my trusty old standby, Dragonflight. I decided to take a closer look at it to see why I enjoyed it. This is what I found:

The first thing I noticed was the characters: all of the characters are multi-dimensional and, more uniquely, perhaps, are established on the first page. Every time a new character was introduced, they were established in an equally succinct manner. Feeling as if I knew the character–and could relate to the character–so quickly did not, however, mean that there was nothing else to learn about them. (Even in later books in this series there are still new aspects and greater depths revealed the longer the reader “journeys” with the characters).

Another difference from traditional books was the point of view structure. Dragon flight is separated into four parts, each one separated from the others by varying amounts of time. And although each part contained the same set of protagonists, they all had a different “antagonist” as well. While not all of these antagonists were traditional bad guys, they all stood between the protagonists and their goals. Over all, it was a very interesting approach to antagonists.

Something else I noticed about this book (after comparing it with the other five books I read during that magical week), was that it was a feel good book. It dealt with strong relationships bonding characters together and providing them with the tools and perseverance to triumph over the difficulties and evils in their lives. The sort of relationships everyone would like to have and be a part of. No wonder I have read it over and over again.

Goodreads Rating: 4.08 Stars (80,146 Ratings)
Amazon Rating: 4.4 Star (372 Reviews)
My Rating: 5 Stars
There are probably things I would do differently if I were writing this story, but there are also plenty of things that I learned from reading it the way Ms. McCaffrey chose to write it. It has inspired generations of readers and writers and has helped the speculative fiction genres grow and evolve. I will always own a copy of this book and I will read it to my children–and myself–many more times in the future.

Briar Rose by Jane Yolen

Briar Rose

Title: Briar Rose
Author: Jane Yolen
Genre: Fairy Tale/Fiction
Age: Young Adult through Adult
Is This Part of a Series?: Yes (the Fairy Tale Series created by Terri Windling)

*I purchased a used copy of this book for a seminar on Fairy Tales taught by Theodora Goss

Rebecca and her grandmother, Gemma, have a special relationship with each other. One centered around Gemma’s own version of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale. This tale of Briar Rose, as told by Gemma to the younger Rebecca, is interspersed between chapters of Rebecca as a young woman. In these chapters with grown-up Rebecca (the “present”), we follow along as she attempts to learn about her grandmother’s past after Gemma claimed, as she lay dying, that Gemma was, in fact, the Briar Rose from her story. In the chapter set in the past, we get to hear the wonderful story that Gemma wove and see the development of the special relationship that grew between Gemma and Rebecca.

Overall Impression:
I loved this book–and not just because these characters are Polish and of Polish descent like I am, either. Since reading it the first time, I have recommended it to many people. It touched me, reaching below the surface of my reader’s brain to the part of me that is made up of more than just a person needing a diversion. It is one of those books that I aspire to be able to match when writing my own novels and, recently, I have been feeling as if it is time for a reread. This book is definitely a permanent member of my personal library.

The Nitty Gritty:
This was a great book. Nothing else need be said about it, except go read it! Of course, since the whole purpose of this blog is to provide you with a hoard of book reviews, and I believe a book review should look at at least some elements of craft, I’ll be kind and give you a bit more to go off of. But seriously. Read it. It’s worth it.

I loved the format of alternating chapters between the story Gemma was telling and the journey that Becca was going on. It is rare that I enjoy this sort of formatting. I tend to get impatient with not seeing enough of one side of the story at once. I will get impatient and skip chapters, chunking them together in a different order based on which character I am most interested in and then going back to catch the rest. In the case of Briar Rose, however, Ms. Yolen did such a wonderful job of thoroughly linking the chapters together that I felt no need to skip around. Each chapter built on the character development, theme, and suspense provided in the previous chapter. So even though they were set in two separate time periods and advanced through their respective time periods at a different rate, they were all integral to both the previous chapter and the following chapter, creating a snowball effect that kept me glued to the pages–in the order that Ms. Yolen had settled on!

In fact, I was impressed with how much of a page turner it was, despite the fact that it was a more of an emotional book than an action novel. I will admit that it hit home a little more than it might otherwise have done because it was following a Polish family, which is significant for me, because my maternal lineage is Polish and I have always strongly identified with it. The section about Josef Potocki also brought to mind the time I got to visit the Holocaust Museum in D.C. I was about six months pregnant with my first child and it all hit home how my husband and I both would have been seen as defective (glasses, bad teeth, coloring not quite right, etc) and that the baby I was carrying wouldn’t have been allowed if Hitler had had his way. There were also some bricks from one of the Polish ghettos and I had the idea that I could be standing on the same bricks as family members. I actually had a family member die in Auschwitz. All of that said, however, and I still feel it would be an emotional book for anyone reading it. The characters are relatable to the point of having an every man feel–but they are distinct and complex too, allowing for an easy connection between the book and the reader. The drive to know your family history and the journey and discoveries Becca encountered; the idea of what is happily ever after; weaving it in with a fairy tale…it was all great. It was all relatable, thought-provoking, and impactful. This is a book I will always be grateful that I read!

Book Club Chatter:
There are the obvious questions surrounding the Holocaust that could be addressed, but which most people are familiar with and have probably dealt with one or more times in the past. So I’m going to go ahead and skip those, although they are certainly worth covering if that is something your book club is interested in. Here are some other themes and questions to consider:

  • What counts as happily ever after? How do you determine if you, or someone in your past, have “reached” happily ever after? Is it the same for everyone?
  • What makes this a fairy tale?
  • Is it important to know your family history? Why or why not?
  • How do negative events in world history (large scale events that impact many people), impact individuals? Is there an event that personally impacted you or your generation? How do you think it shaped you?

Goodreads Rating: 3.78 (9,609 Ratings)
Amazon Rating: 4.1 (219 Reviews)
My Rating: 5 stars (along with a permanent spot on my bookshelves and a future date on my reading schedule)

Author Interview: Danielle Rose

Danielle Rose headshot

One week ago, Danielle Rose released her debut novel, Blood Rose. My review of it was the first review I posted as the Busy Busy Bookwyrm (and you can read it here). In honor of a week of availability (both for her book and my review blog!), I asked her a few pressing, life-and-death (or maybe just interesting) questions. Here are her answers:

1) Where did the inspiration for Avah come from? Jasik?

It’s hard for me to answer this because I can’t pinpoint one place that was the root of my inspiration. I like to write novels with a strong female lead, but I also like there to be weakness and opportunities for growth. I also like to write relatable characters, and I needed Avah to stay strong, yet still fall apart when she lost herself after her transition. (Something I think anyone in her situation would have done.)

Jasik was the easiest character to write—though his tone was the hardest. It was easy for me to envision him, because he’s everything I’d want in a book boyfriend. He’s gorgeous and strong. He’s selfless and kind. He’s caring and devoted.

2) What was the hardest scene to write in Blood Rose? How did you finally push through it?

There were a few scenes that were difficult to write. It was hard for me to write the scenes in which Avah’s witch coven turns their back on her because of what she’s become. There are elements at play there that will soon come to light, and even though I knew this, it was still difficult for me. I’ve always had a very close relationship with my mom, and I’ve never been in a situation where I couldn’t run home. But that’s where Avah is in book one. She’s lost a huge part of herself, and she feels as though she has nowhere to turn. The one place she wants to go, she can’t, and the one place welcoming her, she doesn’t want to go.

It was also difficult to write the sex scenes. The sensual scenes were easy for me to write, but when it came time to write the sex scene, I had trouble. I constantly questioned myself: is this enough? Am I going too far? Should I add more detail? My series, Blood Books, does not consist of erotic novels, but they are new adult paranormal romance. There is a fine line between the two, and I needed to make sure I didn’t cross it.

In all honesty, I think pushing through was just trial and error. I worked through the issues with my editor, tossing what didn’t work and fleshing out what did. But that’s how writing goes in general, I suppose.

3) Your debut novel, Blood Rose, released on August 13th, 2015. What has been the most surprising thing that has happened since then?

In all honesty, the most surprising thing thus far has been the overwhelmingly positive feedback I’ve gotten. Everyone has loved it. Releasing a novel is terrifying, but I’ve had so much support, and I’ve gotten the most amazing comments from readers who can’t wait for the second book. I’ve received comments like “My monthly book allowance only allows for one book a month, and I’m using it to buy yours!” and “I bought the ebook, but I must have the paperback on my shelf, so I bought your book twice!” and “Please, please never end this series!” It’s been so amazing, and I’m incredibly grateful and humbled by everything that’s happened so far.

4) You have a very busy release schedule set for the next year or so. How are you planning on keeping yourself refreshed and energized? What do you do to keep your creative batteries charged?

I’m fairly prolific, so I try to keep myself on track with a big load. I am a full-time writer, so it’s easy for me to stay on track. I tend to write one book every two months. I could write more, but I also stay very active on my social media accounts because I love interacting with other writers and readers. Because of this, I limit how much I write every day. (That’s so I don’t get burnt out!)

To stay fresh and remain on track, I do several things:

  1. I stick to a realistic (and small) word count. I aim for only 1,000 words a day. It takes me less than one hour to write that many words.
  2. I try to work in my office, which is filled with lots of motivational items like my books, quotes on post-its, books on writing, and more!
  3. I stay in contact with a few writer friends, and we keep each other on task.
  4. I use to-do lists like they’re going out of style. I usually write one every day. I’m a HUGE fan of planning!
  5. I try to outline all of my books. That way, I know exactly what I’m working on when I hit the chair. When I have an outline, I can write my 1,000 words in less than 30 minutes. Because of this, I usually end up writing more than 1,000 words every day, too!

5) Finally, if you could be anything, what type and/or color of dragon would you be and why? More importantly, what would be the first book you placed in your literary horde?

I took a BuzzFeed quiz that says I’m a Hydrohius dragon, which according to this quiz, is a water dragon. This type of dragon has the ability to morph and change shapes. It says that people who are this type of dragon are a “gentle, but powerful, go-with-the-flow kind of person.” We “watch from a distance and spend much time” in our own thoughts. I couldn’t agree more! Water is my element based on astrology, too. I love the rain and the ocean. I’m at my most comfortable when around water. And my favorite color is teal! So I’d be a blue water dragon for sure!

I’d place Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series in my literary horde! Mead is my favorite author, and her book is a must on my shelf!

Purchase link for Blood Rose:

My other reviews of Ms. Rose’s work:
Daemon Academy (Short Story)

Blood Books Series
Blood Rose (Blood Books 1) – August 2015

Blood Bound (Blood Books 2) – December 2015
Blood Books 3 – June 2016
Blood Books 4 – December 2016
Blood Books 5 – June 2017
Blood Books 6 – December 2017

**Novels to possibly continue based on story arc.

Author Bio:
Danielle Rose is writer of fiction and travel, as well as the owner of Narrative Ink Editing LLC. Danielle currently resides in the Midwest, where she spends her days at a local coffee shop planning her next vacation or plotting her next novel.

Danielle holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast program. In addition to her Master of Fine Arts, she also holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and certification in professional writing from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.

When not writing, traveling, or writing about traveling, Danielle enjoys being outdoors, cheering for her favorite football team (Go Packers!), and spending time with her husband and their furbabies: two dogs and a cat. 

Places to find Danielle Rose:
Narrative Ink:

Craft Study: The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

lovely bones

Title: The Lovely Bones
Author: Alice Sebold
Genre: Fiction
Age: Adult
Part of a Series?: No

One of the great things about going to graduate school was the chance to look at books in a new way. In some cases, I would be reading a brand new (to me) book. At other times, I would be rereading a book I had already visited at least once, looking at it through the eyes of a writer rather than simply reading it. This review came out of one such assignment: a second read through of the first “straight” (non-fantasy and science fiction) fiction book I had read and enjoyed. I chose The Lovely Bones due to its rich setting, the fact that it covered a large span of years, and because I wanted to see how the book looked to me after having had children of my own. Of course, I was also wanting to see what elements of craft stuck out at me.

One of the first things that I noticed was the way Sebold started and ended her chapters. It is something that had been bothering me about my own writing. Ending a chapter on a cliff hanger or big reveal is one of my strengths under normal circumstances. However, my stories usually have a heavy dose of action, fighting, and mystery. That makes it relatively easy to end chapters in a way that makes the reader want to keep reading. But in my effort to expand my range I had chosen to try a piece more inspired by family history, and things were much more calm. I was instead focusing on the exploration of emotions, dreams, and relationships.

In The Lovely Bones, however, I noticed very quickly that I always wanted to read more. I began writing down the opening sentence and closing sentence of each chapter. and what I discovered was that Ms. Sebold had a pattern: most chapters opened with a statement of an oddity (Susie talking about how something wasn’t like it normally would be) and most chapters ended with a revelation of what Susie had learned (almost like a summation of the chapter’s theme). It is encouraging to know that there are other ways to grab a reader’s attention. And not only was it attention grabbing, but it helped make the story more personal and emotional.

As I was taking my notes on beginning and ending chapters, I also noticed that The Lovely Bones was told in first person. Not only was it told in first person, from Susie’s point of view, but it turned out that it was also an omniscient point of view. Although Susie is telling the story, she is literally able to tell what her family and friends are thinking when she is watching them. I found this extremely unusual, to the point that I haven’t even heard of “First Person Omniscient” as a category that is recognized as a choice for writers.

However, once I noticed that all characters’ thoughts came through Susie, I began to wonder if she truly knew what they were thinking or not. Did dying grant her the ability to see inside other peoples’ minds or did she just assume she knew what they were thinking and then state it as fact? Once the question occurred to me, I began looking for clues that would provide me with an answer and was unable to find any. This in itself was unusual, since the majority of Susie’s personal growth occurs as she learns more about her heaven. Although it is woven throughout the length of the novel, heaven becomes a rather well-defined setting.

Continuing through with my investigation of the first-person omniscient point of view, I then began to wonder whether it even mattered to the story if Susie was accurately hearing the thoughts of her family and friends. My final decision was that it didn’t matter. This book is about people–including the deceased–coping with death. Susie’s ability to cope with her death is based on her ability to watch her family, seeing their actions, listening to their conversation, and hearing their thoughts. It doesn’t really matter if she is hearing the truth; what matters is that she hears what she needs in order to grow and come to terms with her death.

Goodreads Rating: 3.74 (32,610 Reviews)
Amazon Rating: 3.9 (3,877 Reviews)
My Rating: 5 Stars
On the surface, this book is lovely and heart-wrenching. And when you look closer, this book is a marvel of creative, unique approaches to writing technique being used to deepen the reader’s connection to the characters and the situation. This book is a difficult story to follow, but it is worth the read. Whether it was when I read this book as a young adult marveling at all the opportunities Susie wouldn’t get to experience, or as a young mother choking on the sorrow of loosing your child…this book sank into my soul. This book became a part of my personal library. This book became a part of me.