Looking for Beta Readers for The Sapphire of Sacrifice

Hiyo, everyone! I’m just posting here to more visibly announce the the book I’m writing, The Sapphire of Sacrifice, is still in need of beta readers! If you’re interested in learning a little more about the book, click this. Feel free to contact me if you’re potentially interested or just want to know more about what being a beta reader entails.

That’s all for today! Thanks for reading, and have fun!

Ideas for the Title of your Fiction

Hiyo, everyone! I’m making a brief post today. Recently, I’ve had to choose a title for the piece of sample fiction I intend to release here soon, which got me thinking about titles in general. I’ve always had some trouble selecting them, and I figure others probably feel similarly, so I thought I’d share my findings. To emphasize, I am in no way an expert concerning this matter!

Here are some things to consider:

  • Important characters, objects, places, or concepts in the fiction are often used as titles. For example, Lirael and Abhorsen (both by Garth Nix) simply borrow their names from a character or a rank (respectively) already present in the book. Similarly, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins uses the name of the event around which the book is based. If your work contains appropriately intriguing names or terminology, a key word or phrase central to the work may serve as an effective title.
  • If your work is part of a series or existing franchise, a title that ties it to that franchise may be appropriate. This works especially well for longer series.
  • If you’re looking for something deeper, reflect on the themes of your work. A title tied to a key theme can impart a certain weight upon the reader. Many literary works, such as To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, derive their titles from some theme.
  • Tone is important. If your work is a comedy, a silly title may be appropriate. Not so much if your works centers around solemn darkness. The title of your work is something of a promise to those who decide to experience it, so make it reflective of the content within.
  • Unless you’re purposefully trying to convey a sense of complexity (or something similar) in your title, simple is probably better. People often look to fiction for enjoyment, and people generally like things they can relate to, or at least understand to some degree. Unless it works against your purpose, you’re better off with a title that’s intriguing enough to inspire interest but concise enough not to appear entirely alien. I may not be doing a good job of articulating my point here, but the gist of it is that you want to choose a title that appeals to as many people as possible without sacrificing the identity of your work.

And, for now, that’s all. I told you this post would be a short one!

Have any of you struggled to come up with a title for something before? Do you have any tips of your own, or do you disagree with any of my advice? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below! I’m eager to hear from you. Happy New Year!

Review: Abhorsen by Garth Nix

Abhorsen

Hiyo, everyone! Today, I will be writing a short review of Abhorsen, which is the sequel to Lirael, which I reviewed here. As before, I will try to avoid including too many spoilers for Abhorsen. That said, there will be plenty of spoilers for Lirael in this review. Without them, it would be difficult to adequately describe the premise of the book.

The story picks up where Lirael left us, at the ancestral home of the Abhorsen, whose role it is to deal with threats posed by the dead. We have just learned that Sam, one of the main characters from the previous book, is not actually the Abhorsen-in-waiting, but that Lirael is, and she is also Sam’s aunt. Across the Old Kingdom, at a place called the Red Lake, a necromancer named Hedge has possessed Sam’s friend, Nick, and is using him as a vessel for Orannis, a deadly, ancient being Hedge seeks to revive. Naturally, it’s up to Lirael and Sam (as well as their companions, the Disreputable Dog and Mogget) to travel to the Red Lake and put a stop to Hedge’s plan.

The group faces all sorts of dead and magical threats along the way, and they suffer through a journey that pulls no punches regarding how tiring and disheartening traveling on foot can be. As they make their journey, we continue to learn about their personalities. Abhorsen largely builds on Lirael in this regard; there are few new characters of much import, but the old ones must adapt to their new places in the world, and therefore, their views about themselves.

As a side note, it was an absolute thrill to read the passages from Nick’s perspective. As a half-possessed skeptic surrounded by the dead who still clings to a scientific worldview, his reasoning is quite amusing to behold.

I believe that Lirael and Abhorsen are better read as a single story than as two separate novels. The point at which the former ends and the latter begins feels somewhat arbitrary, and I don’t think Lirael really closed many of the key story arcs. Much of Abhorsen felt like part of the climax of the story we’d been waiting for in the previous novel. Therefore, I recommend reading these books together.

I would also like to note that I loved the imagery in Abhorsen, especially the in-depth description of Death (the place where the dead go). More of that realm was shown in Abhorsen than in either Lirael or Sabriel, and that world was simultaneously haunting and fascinating to explore.

I won’t be discussing the ending in any detail; all I will say is it felt a bit abrupt and left a few questions unanswered. Overall, I rate Abhorsen 4/5.

Have you read any of Garth Nix’s work? If so, which stories, and what did you think? If not, what have you been reading instead? I’m eager to hear from you. Buh-bye for now; Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Review: Lirael by Garth Nix

Lirael 1

Hiyo, everyone! Today I will be reviewing Lirael by Garth Nix, a book I just finished reading last night! To begin, I’ll note two things: Firstly, Lirael is technically a sequel to another novel by the name of Sabriel by the same author. However, you don’t need to have read Sabriel in order to understand Lirael, though if you read them out of order, there will be some spoilers from the former. This review also includes some of those, though I will keep them to a minimum.

And, secondly, speaking of spoilers, I will avoid those as much as I can, although, as always, I will be discussing the premise of the book, which will reveal some introductory information.

Lirael mostly takes place in a land called The Old Kingdom, where magic holds great power and much of the technology from Ancelstierre, the neighboring nation, is obsolete. (Note that Anceltstierre’s technology falls far short of modern technology in the real world, but they do have electricity and stuff.) In The Old Kingdom, it is fairly common for dead things to walk with the help of necromancers, and other magical constructs are not unheard of.

The Old Kingdom is largely ruled by three groups: The royal bloodline, the Abhorsen bloodline, and the Clayr. The Abhorsen is the only person in The Old Kingdom who is allowed to practice necromancy and it is their job to deal with all threats from the dead. The Clayr are a people gifted with the Sight – the ability to see visions from the future or possible futures. It is with the Clayr that we meet Lirael, the primary protagonist.

We find Lirael in great distress on her fourteenth birthday when she awakes to discover she still doesn’t have the Sight, though it is typical for members of the Clayr to first See when they’re ten or eleven. Immediately, Lirael is sympathetic to anyone who has ever felt like they do not belong. For a recluse like me, at least, she’s a very easy character to identify with and she’s definitely my favorite character in the book.

As time goes on, Lirael finds a place in the Clayr’s Great Library, which, unlike modern libraries, is rife with magic and danger. She eventually befriends a creature called the Disreputable Dog who can talk and displays several other signs of very obviously not being a normal dog. From there, she gradually comes to find her place in the world – and learns firsthand the dangers of The Old Kingdom.

The book’s other frequent viewpoint character is Sameth, the prince of The Old Kingdom and the Abhorsen-in-waiting. He, too, feels like he doesn’t belong – his blood requires that he learn how to fight the dead and enter Death itself, but not long into his character arc, we find that he is deeply afraid of everything to do with being Abhorsen and feels he is completely unsuitable for the role. Eventually, he ends up journeying to find a friend of his from Ancelstierre, Nick, who came to visit and instead found himself in dire trouble. He is soon accompanied by a delightfully sardonic magical creature resembling a cat who goes by the name of Mogget.

Eventually, the two main characters meet each other, and with each other’s help, they steel themselves for the battle ahead – a battle that could see The Old Kingdom fall to ruin.

I found Lirael to be a super easy read that kept me coming back for more – in fact, I read the 700+ page book in just a few days. =p The Old Kingdom and the creatures dwelling within it give off a wonderfully spooky and ancient vibe, and the magic available to the characters is volatile enough to keep them in constant danger. There are surprises around every corner, and the protagonists and their familiars are extremely likeable. Several quotes from throughout the book offer memorable perspectives on various aspects of life.

Lirael‘s biggest downside, in my opinion, is that the ending felt a bit abrupt and anti-climatic. It very clearly sets the direction for the sequel, Abhorsen, which I expect I will review this month. There is a major revelation, of course, but it’s obvious enough that I saw it coming hundreds of pages in advance. I’m hopeful that Abhorsen will provide a proper climax to the story in its place; unlike Sabriel, Lirael‘s ending leaves the story feeling incomplete.

Despite that, I strongly recommend Lirael to anyone who is a fan of the fantasy genre and who likes experiences dark and sinister worlds. The setting and characters are simply enthralling to read about, and I expect the trouble brewing throughout the novel will lead to an intriguing conclusion in the sequel. Overall, I rate Lirael 4.5/5.

Have any of you read Lirael, or any other book in the series? If so, who are your favorite characters, and what did you like most about the novels? If not, what have you been reading instead? I hope to hear from you soon! ‘Til then, thanks for reading my review!