Book Review: Fantasy of Freedom (The Tainted Accords Book 4) by Kelly St. Clare

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Fantasy of Freedom (The Tainted Accords Book 4) by Kelly St. Clare

A Fantasy Novel published by Kelly St Clare (08/22/16)

Summary:

“If I can go through with the next few moments, the Accords will be tainted no longer. They will be a code. A practice. A change in the way we live our lives.” (Kindle Locations 178-179).

This fourth and final book in the Tainted Accords Series follows the final battle between Osolis and Glacium and the resolutions of all the subplots. Olina is fast recovering from Book 3’s near death fight and ready to take on her mother and the role of leader of Osolis. War is imminent, but victory is the only way peace can be obtained for all races.

Keywords:

Fighting, adventure, action, fantasy, sexual themes, friendship, love, loyalty, brother, fear, rulers, power, intimidation, female main character, kick butt female, strategy, traitor, war, advisor, travel, flight, escape

My Review:

This was a blockbuster of a novel and it was nearly perfect in every way. The only change I would make would be to alter Jovan’s personality to be less of a barbaric King in the way he sometimes (oftentimes) manhandles Olina.

The plot was seamless. Everything fell into place. It was one of the most satisfying endings to a series that I’ve ever read, especially for an Indie book. I am blown away by this breakout series and this breakout last novel. Though the plot throughout the series meandered a bit (Fantasy of Frost), the characters and the world are so well developed that I didn’t care.

The speeches! I loved the battle speeches and the last word speeches and the rally to arms speeches and every monologue this book had. They were so well written and rousting!

The dialogue was spot on. There were challenges and setbacks. The characters made mistakes and overcame hardships. I could see the grit, sweat, and tears and I was right there with them strategizing and feeling the love between Jovan and Olina.

This series has gotten better with each book and this was a fantastic and phenomenal finale.

This novel was published by Kelly St Clare on August 22nd, 2016 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.75

Links for more information:

Kelly St. Clare’s Website

Facebook

Goodreads

Book Review: Fantasy of Fire (The Tainted Accords Book 3) by Kelly St. Clare

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Fantasy of Fire (The Tainted Accords Book 3) by Kelly St. Clare

A Fantasy Novel published by Kelly St Clare (01/14/16)

Summary:

“One of the best qualities you possess is a desire to be your strongest self.” (Kindle location 1855).

“Bad times sometimes call for dramatic change.” (Kindle location 2544).

Olina is still in the thick of it, with her Frost personality, her Olina self, and the person she presented to the Ire. She’s pulled in multiple directions, but remains true in wanting to help those around her. Can she be a ruler with mixed blood and will the people accept her are questions she must answer. Her mother has sent an army to Glacium and to prevent a slaughter Olina must help the Bruma, Solati enemy. But this isn’t the only issue, there is unrest between the outer and inner rings on Glacium and Olina must get to the bottom of it before civil war threatens to tear Glacium from the inside out before the Solati army even cross the Great Staircase.

 

Keywords:

Fighting, adventure, action, fantasy, sexual themes, friendship, fantasy, love, loyalty, brother, fear, rulers, power, intimidation, female main character, kick butt female, strategy, traitor, war, advisor

 

My Review:

I would never recommend reading books out of order in a series but St. Clare does a phenomenal job of expertly summarizing everything important that happened in the first two books so that we could get right into the thick of Olina’s/Frost’s story in this third book. She doesn’t leave me confused and forgetful of all the political and romantic actions that happened in previous books in this series.

I continue to fall in love with Olina and her strength. She really shows her mettle in this third book and everything she does is well thought out in regards to those around her. Olina continues to be kick butt and tough. She can hold her own, even with problems that are global and messy. She is presented with complex and politically difficult problems where the best solutions won’t please all. She is presented with her past and the possibility of a future. She really becomes a true leader in this book. She has some great lines and a wonderful speech in the middle during the big reveal scene that was so engaging. She also helpfully summarizes the previous action from books one and two during this speech, cementing in the reader’s mind what was going on from her perspective and how it affects those close to her. Olina really becomes a truly great character in this book.

The pacing and action of this book was excellent. There was much more balance between action and contemplation and between dialogue and narration that book two did not have. Book three really shows the finesse that St. Clare has developed through the Tainted Accords series and I can’t wait for book four.

This novel was published by Kelly St Clare on January 14th, 2016 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.75

Links for more information:

Kelly St. Clare’s Website

Facebook

Goodreads

Book Review: Fantasy of Flight (The Tainted Accords Book 2) by Kelly St. Clare

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Fantasy of Flight (The Tainted Accords Book 2) by Kelly St. Clare

A Fantasy Novel published by Kelly St Clare (05/24/15)

 

Summary:

“The fight was exhilarating. It was a rush, a shock, an overload of my senses. It was survival. It was seeing your life as a tiny speck in the palm of a giant. All of that could make a woman tired.” (Page 22).

Olina the Tatuma has run away to the outer rings of Glacium. She wants to find Kedrick’s killer and the source of the special arrow. She wants to get away from king Jovan. She meant to stay away for several days and solve the mystery of the arrow and murder, but was attacked and her veil destroyed. The people of Glacium are not as nice as the people of Osolis, where she is from. There is hope, however, as she is rescued by Alzona and her fighting crew. The only way back to being Tatuma is to fight in the Outer Rings’ competitions. As days turn into weeks, Olina discovers a new home, and potentially a compromise to her sticky situation as a blue-eyed Tatuma, but will she stay in the Outer Rings with her newfound friends, fighting for her every meal?

 

Keywords:

Fighting, adventure, action, fantasy, sexual themes, heartbreak, spontaneity, friendship, cliff-hanger, fantasy, love, loyalty, brothers, fear, rulers, power, intimidation, training, female main character, kick butt female

 

My Review:

St. Clare introduces an entire new spectrum of characters in this book two of the Tainted Accords Series. Each one has his or her own personality, and they all have some influence on Olina’s new life as Frost, Alzon’s new prized fighter. There is Alzona herself, another strong woman who built up what she has from nothing. “By accepting help, she has created a stronger business. If anything, her willingness to put aside her pride and study the bigger picture makes her even scarier – if that were possible.” (Page 54). There is Alzona’s administrative aid Crystal, whose mystery is unveiled by Frost. The crew of Flurry, Blizzard, Avalanche, Shard, and Ice are, at first, wary of the small woman who claims to be a fighter, but when she kicks their butts she earns their respect. Each of these men has their own identifying personality traits.

The majority of this book takes place in Alzona’s training ground and in the fighting arena. Much of the plot and character development is between the winter-named crew and Frost, gradually developing relationships until the sudden fast-moving change as Olina moves on back to the plot started in book one. Most of the plots that were unresolved from book one remain unresolved and are hardly touched upon in Fantasy of Flight, except the relationship that was hinted at between the Tatuma and Jovan in book one is given much more time and space in book two. This book two almost felt like a standalone in the middle of a trilogy, where some of the back-story had been talked about in another book and it ended with the same kind of cliffhanger in the end, where nothing in the main plot is resolved.

This book was amazingly captivating. The dialogue was realistic and the fighting will bring you to the edge of your seat. Olina displays intelligence and loyalty that keeps you sympathizing with her side and wanting her to reach her goals, but she is also pouty and emotional and relatable. Many times you think she is untouchable and perfect, but then she will do something entirely childish or human and she is brought to life with her actions and thoughts. Sometimes her spontaneity is baffling, but she addresses it herself in the latter part of the book. Everyone has their flaws, Olina’s is to run away from emotionally charged personal problems.
Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this story in exchange for my honest review.

This novel was published by Kelly St Clare on May 24th, 2015 and is available on Amazon here.

 

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.00

 

Links for more information:

Kelly St. Clare’s Website

Facebook

Goodreads

Wrote a book and need reviews but don’t know how?

In case you missed her last week, the lovely and talented Kelly St. Clare was here on my blog as a guest poster and wrote all about how to get reviews for your book. She brought up some great points! 

I’ve had a few authors contact me through my blog/goodreads/facebook regarding doing reviews and if their book looked good (and I liked it when I started reading) I’ve added them to my tbr list, so this point Kelly St. Clare brought up works.

She brought up another point that I’ve not yet done that I notice quite a few of the authors I follow do: a newsletter. So stay tuned for an option to follow my blog AND receive a monthly newsletter as a tl;dr monthly catch up for my blog.

 

Thanks again Kelly St. Clare for telling all about getting reviews (especially as a debut indie author this is highly valuable real-time information).

 

For more about Kelly St. Clare:

Author Biography

When Kelly St Clare is not reading or writing, she is dreaming up a story in her head; the cause of many headaches for her friends and family, who have struggled to encourage her participation in normal activities – such as everyday life.

Books have always been magical and mysterious to her. One day she decided to start unravelling this mystery and began writing. Her aim: To write stories she would want to read.

A New Zealander in origin, Kelly currently resides in Australia with her soon-to-be husband.

Follow her via Newsletter at www.kellystclare.com, and find her on Facebook or Goodreads.

If you would like to read her coming-of-age epic fantasy novel, Fantasy of Frost, then you can view it here.

Guest Post by Kelly St. Clare — Reviews: The How, What, Why

You may remember Kelly St. Clare from a book review I did on her fantastic debut fantasy novel: Fantasy of Frost (The Tainted Accords Book 1). She is a wonderfully talented writer with many tricks up her sleeves when it comes to promoting her book and getting those much sought after reviews… Just check out her book’s Amazon page here where you can see that she already has 67 reviews with an average rating of 4.7/5.0 stars, but don’t take my word for it that she knows what she’s doing, just stay tuned for:

 

Reviews: The How, What, Why

Kelly St Clare (Author of The Tainted Accords)

 

As a self-published author who once wondered how on earth the writing and publishing world worked, imparting the tips and tricks I pick up along the way is a continual goal of mine. I detail these “trade secrets” in my blog series, Dear Aspiring Author.

Obtaining reviews is one of the most difficult and most important parts of publishing – Whether you are self-published or traditionally published. In an online world where books are flooding the market, reviews are a proven way to set yourself apart. But how do you even get your first review? Let alone fifty, a hundred, or a thousand!

This post focuses on how to get reviews, not how to get good reviews. If you want to get five star reviews, make sure your work is quality by having your manuscript edited and critiqued by beta-readers before you send it out for review. You have one shot to stand out in a readers mind. Don’t rush the job. Make sure the word is polished and done to the best of your ability. Small things like a copy edit, or a final read through before publication can really up your professionalism (and help the indie author reputation).

Before undertaking the momentous job of review “fishing”, it is necessary to understand why getting feedback is paramount.

Reviews achieve three major goals

– They give credibility to your work

– They provide a source of honest feedback to help improve future works.

– They improve your amazon ranking, helping to generate more sales.

 

I published my first novel, Fantasy of Frost in January 2015. In three months the title has generated 67 reviews on Amazon.com, with many other reviews spread across other amazon branches.

The First Few Reviews

How to get the ball rolling? Several sources I came across in research before publication recommended twenty reviews to achieve regular sales. I don’t categorically agree with this for a couple of reasons. For starters, some people love discovering new authors (yay for us), and don’t mind less. Also, reviews are a continual process. If you get twenty in January and none in February then from what I have observed, your ranking will slip and sales will go down. I will agree that twenty is a great start.

For a first time author there is no other way than to start at the bottom and claw your way to the top. Unfortunately in self-publishing you do not have access to the same network of resources available to those in traditional publishing.

You start with what you have got. Identify your network. If you are lucky you may know some people in the writing industry, but for most debut authors their network is family and friends. So get that ball rolling by politely hassling your family and friends for honest reviews.

I know *rolls eyes* reviews are supposed to be unbiased, but it’s a tough world out there for debut indie authors and this will kick start your sales. On a side note, I always disregard the first ten or so reviews of a book for this reason, but most won’t give it a thought. Also, once you get more ‘true’ reviews your book will settle into a more realistic star rating – protecting the reader.

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Now you have a few reviews from your super helpful family, how do you get more?

This is where the hard work begins. Every new writer trials different platforms to help expand their network with authors, bloggers and readers, and to generate reviews – or they should. The platforms below are not the only ones I have tried, but they are where I have had the best results to date.

 

Facebook

I haven’t found facebook reviewer sites effective in generating many reviews. I guess this is because the majority of the people joining these groups are authors looking for reviews – instead of readers wanting to review.

So why am I mentioning good old Facebook? Because I have found my author page here to be a great means of connecting with readers and to advertise incentives for leaving reviews. It is also a way you can periodically ask for reviews.

Remember, many people who love your book will never review. People have good intentions, but busy lives. Facebook is a way to keep the request in front of them, then one day they may see your post and have a spare minute or two to leave feedback.

 

Goodreads

In one word, invaluable. There is potential to meet so many like-minded people through this site. It is an excellent interface for setting up review exchanges with other authors, and generating a following. Some of the members have blogs, and post their reviews on their websites. The more eyes the better, right?

About half of my reviews are from GR (that’s what the cool kids call Goodreads). This is a combination of review exchanges, word of mouth, and readers offering to review in exchange for a free copy.

I’ve used the forums on here many times to advertise my free promo days, signed giveaways, $50 amazon vouchers, and requests for reviews. There are literally thousands of groups you can post on.

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Newsletter

It’s funny. Although generating subscribers was mentioned in every book I read on marketing an e-book I never really believed it. I’ve grown up in the facebook and twitter era. These are my “go to” social media sites. But email…that’s how old people stay in touch, right?

As someone who was recently young and naive in this matter, let me now banish your own naive thoughts. Newsletters work!

Similar to facebook, you are able to directly contact your reader with review requests, competitions, and updates of your upcoming releases. But newsletters are more reliable than facebook, who are starting to cut likes on public pages and limit the audience receiving your updates, unless you boost your posts.

Several marketing sources advise not to put all your eggs in one social media basket and I agree whole-heartedly. You are in this for the long run. What if facebook loses popularity in twenty years? Having an email list provides security for the long-term.

 

Netgallery

I haven’t used this myself as I cannot justify the cost at this stage, but it crops up a fair amount in reading so I thought it best to explain. Netgallery is a professional reviewing site where you pay an annual membership fee.  From speaking to other authors it seems like this source is largely utilised by traditional publishers. It does have the added benefit of providing a secure way to disperse MOBI, EPUB and PDF copies to reviewers.

 

Other platforms

– Contact bloggers through their website. Bear in mind bloggers sometimes get hundreds of requests per day. That means, despite their very best intentions to review the literary world, they physically cannot read everything sent their way. Out of around twenty reviewing blogs I approached, three got back to me, and one accepted. There is also usually a wait of months until you receive their feedback. One review is one review, I know, but the other avenues I’ve tried have been more fruitful and less taxful on my time.

– Book promotion sites. Many of these websites offer reviewing services. Some charge, some don’t. There is the same issue as with the review blogging websites. There are an overwhelming number of requests and the odds of getting your foot in the door is sub-zero low. I’ve applied to a few book promo sites, mostly out of interest, and have not heard back.

Amazon top reviewers. You can check out their profiles and see if these people are accepting submissions. Again, I assume these people are swamped with books, but it can’t hurt to try.

 

I’ve used this term a couple of times throughout this blog and I truly think this is the key to generating your first fifty reviews.

I.N.C.E.N.T.I.V.E.

The best advice I have found to date went along the lines of; the more you give, the more people want to give back. This applies to every facet of book marketing; the networking, the garnering of reviews, and in keeping your audience long-term.

Combine this scenario where readers want to give back with the fact everyone loves to win, and you have a near irresistable situation for your fan base.

How to do it.

Firstly, leave the reader in no doubt that the surest way to thank you is by leaving a review. Then. Don’t go on about it. You don’t want to badger your readers all the time or they’ll leave. I have found if you offer incentives and occassionally mention reviews, the reader will make this connection regardless. They are smart people – they read books.

For example, I recently ran a giveaway for a signed copy of my book. All you had to do was like my facebook page and tag two friends on the post pinned to the top. The post was a pre-order link for my second book, Fantasy of Flight. As a result there was a boost in my pre-orders and I raised awareness of my sequel release, as intended. During this giveaway six readers reviewed, even though this was not part of the draw. A couple of these may have been random reviews, but this number was above average and I can only explain it with the mantra; the move you give, the more people want to give back.

There is a lot of room for creativity with these incentives and they do not have to cost you money – just time. As writers we should be good at this! You could release character interviews, or author interviews, pieces of writing, small amazon vouchers or audiobooks. The possibilities are endless.

For the first fifty reviews I received across amazon, I mainly used snippets of book two in The Tainted Accords. I released the first snippet at twenty reviews, the second at fifty reviews. Now, I have released a third for reaching fifty pre-orders of Fantasy of Flight, and will release a fourth before the novel is released. You get the idea.

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I’ll let you in on another little secret of mine.

With KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) on amazon you get five free promtional days every 90 days. Firstly, use these. Secondly, time your giveaways for when you have a free promo day. I sold 2000 copies of Fantasy of Frost when I ran a free promotion parallel to a $50 amazon giftcard giveaway.

Are you thinking 2000 x $0 = $0?

Yes it does, but my daily sales afterward are now double, paying for the expense of the giftcard. Two weeks after the free promo I had gained nearly twenty reviews, and the novel was #3 in both two categories; epic fantasy and coming of age fantasy during the promotion – something I can now brag about to add credibility to the book.

None of my giveaways or promtions can be commended for as being THE reason for getting reviews. Rather, it is the accummulative effect of maintaining prominence in the minds of your readers, combining several review sources, and by giving as much as you can to your fan base. Reviews are crucial for sales and your continued ranking efforts. Do not sit back and wait for reviews, you have to seek them, offer incentive, and lobby the term on your social media platforms and newsletter periodically. Leave the reader with no doubt in their mind that the surest way to help you is to leave feedback. If you do this there may be overflow from various promos you run (as I detailed above).

 

Here are some other things I’ve found useful:

– Make it easy for people to review – have a link in your book, add links to your newsletters and posts on facebook.

– Leave a message in the back of your booking thanking the reader and asking for a review. I have also have a ‘How to leave a review’ page.

– Highlight bloggers who have reviewed you on your website or on facebook as thanks.

– Use free book promotion sites and other platforms to advertise your free promos and giveaways.

– Gift or give copies of your book to bloggers, authors and reviewers in exchange for an honest review.

– Exchange with other authors in a similar position to your own.

– Keep a list of the people who are reviewing your book and send a follow up email after a month. You are giving them your book, it’s not rude to prompt them for the expected time frame. This will also highlight those who you shouldn’t ask for review again (and those you should).

– If a person gave you a good review, ask if they are interested in reviewing your other works.

I’m learning more about writing, publishing and marketing every day and you can join me on this journey (and learn some tips and tricks in the process) by following my Dear Aspiring Author guest blog series on my website www.kellystclare.com.

You might also be interested in another of my blogs titled ‘On Writing Your Debut Book’.

 

I wish you all the best with your review seeking endeavours!

A massive thanks to Rachel at Rachel Author Barnard for having me,

 

 

Kelly St. Clare

 

 

Author Biography

When Kelly St Clare is not reading or writing, she is dreaming up a story in her head; the cause of many headaches for her friends and family, who have struggled to encourage her participation in normal activities – such as everyday life.

Books have always been magical and mysterious to her. One day she decided to start unravelling this mystery and began writing. Her aim: To write stories she would want to read.

A New Zealander in origin, Kelly currently resides in Australia with her soon-to-be husband.

Follow her via Newsletter at www.kellystclare.com, and find her on Facebook or Goodreads.

If you would like to read her coming-of-age epic fantasy novel, Fantasy of Frost, then you can view it here.

 

 

Other resources to keep up to date with marketing strategies:

Sell more Ebooks: How to increase sales, by Lucinda Crosby and Laura Dobbins (chapter three)

How to Get 63 Authentic Amazon Reviews in 3 Days or Less: How to Market Your Book, Sell More Books on Kindle, Become a Best Seller, by Bart Baggett

Self Publishing: How to Make Money Online by Selling Ebooks on Amazon, by Abraham Falls

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Fantasy of Frost (The Tainted Accords Book 1) by Kelly St. Clare

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Fantasy of Frost (The Tainted Accords Book 1) by Kelly St. Clare

A Fantasy Novel published by Kelly St Clare (01/14/15)

 

Summary:

At the intersection of two worlds, Glacium and Osolis, lies peace and the sharing of resources, but the idea of a Bruma and a Solati together would be disgusting and appalling to both people. Glacium is cold and Osolis is hot and both worlds spin in opposite directions. Those on Glacium are loud and speak their minds while those on Osolis are reserved and conservative; however, this doesn’t mean that there isn’t gossip or things going on behind closed doors.

The Tatum (the woman in power on Osolis) beats her daughter, the Tatuma – who is next in line to rule. None have seen Olina the Tatuma’s face, for she is also made to wear a veil. Still, Olina is ready to be free of her mother’s rule and when she meets the young understanding delegate from Glacium, she falls for him. It is this love that sets in motion the unraveling of all that Olina took for granted.

 

Keywords:

 Fantasy, Family, Travel, Different Worlds, Intrigue, Warring, Peace, Love, Romance, Attacks, Loyalty, Negotiations, Brothers, Evil Mother, Fear, Rulers, Power, Intimidation, Training, Female main character, kick butt female

 

My Review:

A good fantasy envelops you completely and shows you a new world that is foreign as you begin to read and completely familiar as you reach the end. St. Clare has built not just one world, but two in Fantasy of Frost and the reader must understand what it is like to live in both worlds and what it is like to be Bruma or Solati and there is a bit of catchup in the beginning. Everything will click into place around 10% into the story, where many of the necessary explanations will have been given and the world has been rounded into familiarity for you. I love the stark contrast St. Clare gave to her worlds and the Romeo and Juliet romance that was doomed from the start between Kedrick and Olina, where both societies would disapprove of their love of one another. It is a love story destined for failure, but stronger because of the hardships it must endure.

I also love that Fantasy of Frost is not just a fantasy romance. It is a quest for answers and the unraveling of secrets. It is intriguing and the worlds hold mystery and some key to finding out hidden agendas.

St. Clare has created a phenomenal character in Olina. I loved her. I felt sorry for her. I relished when she kicked butt. But she didn’t kick butt continuously! She is Solati, and therefore is able to show restraint where needed, diplomacy when it suits the situation, but throw down when that is the best option. She can fight and escape and has spunk. Everyone will want to be her, but no-one will want to be thrust into her situation.

There were only two bothersome points in Fantasy of Frost. The first being the surprising use of language (cursing). In a fantasy where the names have a different meaning (an ‘o’ in front of the Solati names is significant), it was a rude awakening – at first – from the dense and complex fantasy with the modern American curse words. It made me wince at the use of ‘sexy.’ The second point is my common point of contention in most first novels of a series, that they don’t really end! I like a grand conflict to have a resolution, but still have to continue on to the second book. I felt that Fantasy of Frost fell into this category of not having a proper resolution, ending as if it were in the middle of a book and not the end. There aren’t any more chapters in this book and this is very frustrating for a full novel not to end. Still, I have to say, I don’t care too much and will await (with only mild frustration and much baited breath) for the next book in the series.

This novel was published by Kelly St Clare on January 14th, 2015 and is available on Amazon here.

 

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.50

 

Links for more information:

Kelly St. Clare’s Website

Facebook

Goodreads