Wednesday, July 4, 2018

My New Vlog Series!

Guess who has two thumbs and his own vlog series. Please check out the first episode of my YouTube series and subscribe to my channel!


Transcription of Episode 1:

"Hey there, folks, and welcome to my channel. My name is Leo Featherstone, and I'm a freelance illustrator and self-published author. I've written one novel so far, published back in 2013, and I've since retired that novel, and I'm currently in the process of rewriting it. The original novel was titled Ebon City: Death and the Maiden, and the reboot will be titled Ebon City: Crossroads. The novel follows a repentant vampire named Ezekiel Blake, who takes an [inexperienced] sorceress named Angela Thorn under his wing. Ezekiel wishes to find companionship and change the course of his solitary life. This will be the first installment of a book series [the Ebon City series], which will share a story of love, survival, and the soul's eternal search for one's true identity. The first two chapters of the new manuscript are available on my website, and I will be adding the third chapter later this month. [I'll put a] link in the description. Now regarding my decision to use an avatar instead of just filming myself, the reasoning is twofold. One, I'm just not ready to show my face live on camera, and secondly, I don't actually have a camera with which to film myself. I suppose I could use my phone to do that, but the quality would be pretty piss-poor. So I'll be using this avatar for the time being. As I get better at video editing, I'll be adding facial expressions and gestures to the avatar to make it semi-animated. Since I'm so new at video editing, I hope you'll bear with me as I find my groove. I'll be scripting my vlog episodes from this point on. So hopefully I won't sound so disjointed in future episodes. And hopefully, with any luck, my voice-over skills will improve. Now, what will my vlog series be focusing on? Well, something you need to know about me, when I wrote and published my first novel, I made pretty much every single mistake you could possibly make during the writing and publishing process. I relied way too heavily on tropes and clichés, I didn't seek out feedback through beta-reading or critique partners, I published through a vanity press, and I did nothing to market the book before it was published. And I'd like to help other aspiring authors avoid these same mistakes and give helpful writing advice. I'm also playing around with the idea of doing some online reviews, but we'll see where my content evolves from this point onward. Anyway, I think that's everything I wanted to cover in this first video. Thanks for stopping by. Please like this video, subscribe, and hit the bell icon next to the subscribe button to be notified when I upload my next video. See you next time."

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Book Review: THE SAVIOR'S CHAMPION by Jenna Moreci


"Tobias Kaya doesn't care about The Savior. He doesn't care that She's the Ruler of the realm or that She purified the land, and he certainly doesn't care that She's of age to be married. But when competing for Her hand proves to be his last chance to save his family, he's forced to make The Savior his priority. Now Tobias is thrown into the Sovereign's Tournament with nineteen other men, and each of them is fighting — and killing — for the chance to rule at The Savior's side. Instantly his world is plagued with violence, treachery, and manipulation, revealing the hidden ugliness of his proud realm. And when his circumstances seem especially dire, he stumbles into an unexpected romance, one that opens him up to unimaginable dangers and darkness."
—Amazon Plot Description

This is the second book I’ve read by Jenna Moreci. I read her first novel, Eve: The Awakening, about a year ago. The Savior's Champion, in my opinion, has all the strengths of Eve: The Awakening, and also succeeds in areas where Eve fell short. The pacing of The Savior’s Champion is perfect, the romance had me enthralled, and I was on the edge of my seat reading the fight scenes and the tournament challenges.

The main character Tobias and the supporting characters were very enjoyable, and I can’t think of anything negative to say about them. Tobias was a sympathetic character who you can’t help but root for, Leila was a fascinating heroine, I completely understand why Delphi is so many readers' favorite character, and I grew very attached to Tobias’s comrades—except Flynn. Screw that guy. Out of the twenty men who take part in the Sovereign’s Tournament, Orion was my favorite; I have a soft spot for boy scout types with long hair, beards, tragic backstories, and bodies ripped like lumberjacks.

I was obsessed with Greek and Roman mythology growing up, and so I loved the Greco-Roman inspired setting of The Savior’s Champion. The lore surrounding this world is interesting, although I’d very much like to see it fleshed out more in the sequels. The characters often refer to “God,” but I don’t know which deity they’re specifically addressing, be it the Abrahamic God, a Greco-Roman deity like Zeus, or an original deity invented for this novel. It’s also never clarified what this deity’s connection is to The Savior. I’m not sure if this is meant to be an entirely fictional world, or if it’s supposed to be set in historic Greece or the Roman Empire. This isn’t a criticism, mind you, these are just details I’m curious about.

There are a few nitpicks I have with this book. Firstly, I predicted the plot twist by Chapter 3. This doesn’t bother me personally, but I think some readers would prefer a surprise ending that’s actually surprising. Another issue, still fairly minor in my opinion, is that the dialogue sounds oddly modern sometimes. I have nothing against the excessive cussing (you wouldn’t believe the number of times the C-word gets dropped), but I did find it odd when (in Chapter 12) Tobias referred to a meeting with The Savior as “a date.” Modern colloquialisms like that can take me out of a historically-inspired setting. And lastly, there’s the simplistic antagonists who are evil just for the sake of being evil. This is something that bothered me in Eve: The Awakening too. Now this wasn’t a problem for the characters of Kaleo, Antaeus, and Drake; I really loved hating these irredeemable scumbags. However, I was hoping Brontes, The Savior’s father, would be more interesting, as this novel seems to be setting him up as the main antagonist of the series. In the end, complex protagonists and simplistic antagonists are better than the other way around, but I still like more complex antagonists. Again, these are minor nitpicks, and I don’t think they hurt the enjoyability of this story. I give The Savior’s Champion 5 out of 5 stars.

The Savior's Champion is available on Amazon.com

"Jenna Moreci is a Silicon Valley native and Youtube sensation, dominating the authortube community with her straightforward and hilarious writing channel. A lifelong storyteller, Jenna specializes in crafting thrilling adventures with heaping doses of bloodshed and romance. When she's not writing or 'tubing, Jenna enjoys angry music, potent wine, and laughing until her face hurts with her goofball fiancĂ©."
—Amazon Author Biography

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Friday, April 13, 2018

Book Review: THE SHOW MUST GO ON by C. S. Patra

Original Goodreads review posted on Dec 03, 2013.


"The Gallati Family Circus has never known a world outside of the big top. All they know is how to entertain and put on spectacular shows. One night, Dante Gallati springs a surprise on them by announcing a change; he's giving them a new theme called "Cirque Macabre". No one is pleased with the change[,] but they try not to think about it. The next morning, Dante goes missing. Hours later, a piece of him is found[,] and their circus has been turned into a crime scene. Knowing very little about the world outside of their shows, the performers must try to move on while trying to figure out who killed Dante. As they search, they learn [that] Dante had [secrets,] and their old home isn't as safe as they thought."
—Amazon Plot Description

It took me a while before I could easily distinguish each of the dozen or so performers and their particular acts. You get to know them as they prepare for their performances and try to move on in the wake of Dante’s apparent death. C. S. Patra does a fine job putting us in the minds of her characters’ as they struggle to rationalize the events taking place around them. The story is paced well and the characters were easy to relate to. The dialogue was a bit lengthy with certain facts needlessly repeated, but it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story too much.

Though I liked this book for the most part, it did have a couple of issues. Firstly, there were several clues and plot details introduced throughout the story that didn't go anywhere or move the investigation along. I understand that this is the first book in a series and that these obscurities will probably be solved throughout the Cirque Macabre series. Still, it felt discouraging leaving off with so many unsolved clues. I do admit this left me very interested to read the next installment to find out what all these hints mean, but as a stand-alone novel, the lack of a climax was a bit disappointing. Secondly, the detective working on the case seems unrealistically open and accommodating to the circus troupe. I thought it would have been more realistic if he had been less forthcoming with the facts of the investigation, considering everyone in the circus troupe are suspects. For me, these issues are not that big a deal, but they may be for other readers. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

The Show Must Go On (Cirque Macabre #1) is available on Amazon.com

"CS Patra is the Amazon bestselling author of several book series. They include but are not limited to The Reaper's Apprentices, Operation: Genome, Cirque Macabre, Portman's Creamery [M]ysteries, The Patterns & Parallels Saga, Ghosts of Burning Inn, and Flavors of Love. She loves to dabble in different genres and loves to cross over. Her personal favorite thing is [to] write about female characters in different situations. She is also fond of writing many LGBT stories and stories focused on PoCs. Although she does work during the day, most of her nights are [taken] up by writing. A native of North Carolina, she currently lives in Nebraska with her husband. She loves ladybugs, yellow roses, movies, book signings, mysteries, watching old Youtube videos, ghost stories, gossip, music, people making her fanart, museums, ice cream, and being a wisecrack[,] though not all in that order. Writing and peacocks hit the top of her list though."
—Amazon Author Biography

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Book Review: DELUSIONAL by Scott Spotson

Original Goodreads review posted on Jan 02, 2014.


"Don’t believe everything you see! When rising marketing executive Patricia Fowler falls for Paul Blast, a married co-worker, she tries to put her life into perspective—a task that becomes increasingly difficult when she starts having eerie hallucinations. Patricia’s dreams of a happily ever after turn into one nightmare after another as she battles threats that go beyond her imagination. Is her new love behind the torment? After all, his former girlfriend ended up in an asylum. Or could Paul’s wife be more than a bored, spoiled, rich girl? Meanwhile, the FBI is trying to track down a thief who magically appears and disappears, taking priceless gems and artwork with her."
—Amazon Plot Description

Delusional has a slow start, introducing us to the principle characters through lengthy backstories that may be a bit tedious and boring for some readers. I'm a fairly patient reader and was able to get through these sections at a good pace. The slow start does compel me to reduce the book's rating slightly, but I highly recommend that readers not let this discourage them, because the narrative does pick up speed and become an exciting ride for anyone who loves romance and intrigue. And the backstories do serve a purpose, allowing us to explore and understand the characters' personalities and motivations.

Scott Spotson plotted this story in painstaking detail. The progression of the main characters's romance is believable and heartfelt, the mysteries and clues all come together seamlessly, and my attention never wavered thanks to the gripping cliff-hangers and revelations. The excitement and suspense ultimately leads to a riveting climax. I give Delusional 4 out of 5 stars.

Delusional is available on Amazon.com

"Scott Spotson is a novelist who excels in imagining scenes of intrigue and adventure within ordinary lives while daydreaming, then pulls together various plots to create a compelling story. He likes to invent "what if?" scenarios, for example, what if I could go back to my university days, and what would I do differently? What if I could switch bodies with friends I am jealous of, like the guy who sold his software for millions of dollars and does whatever he pleases? What if I had the power to create clones of myself to do my bidding? Scott then likes to mentally insert himself into these situations, then plot a way to "get out" back to reality. This is how "Life II" and "Seeking Dr. Magic" were born, within weeks of each other. He's still working on dreaming up a situation where he gets to smash a pie in the face of his boss, with no justification whatsoever - how to get out of that one?"
—Amazon Author Biography

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Saturday, March 24, 2018

Book Review: THE JONGURIAN MISSION by Greg Strandberg

Original Goodreads review posted on Jun 23, 2015.


"In the West, a fragile peace has held the bickering provinces of Adjuria together for the past twenty years. In the East, the Empire of Jonguria has been bound together for generations by force. But now both countries are losing their grip. Will an Adjurian Royal Council offer up a solution, or will politics prevail? Can two ancient enemies bind their wounds, or is their hope for reconciliation, the Jongurian Mission, doomed from the start? Join a motley group of war veterans tasked with opening up a reclusive country. But when their mission of peace suddenly turns deadly, all bets are off, and the Jongurian Mission takes on a whole new meaning: survival."
—Amazon Plot Description

The Jongurian Mission is the story of a young farmer named Bryn who lives in the country of Adjuria. Bryn's uncle, the official of their state, takes him to a trade conference in the Adjurian capital to teach him about politics. At the conference, Bryn's uncle advocates for reestablishing trade with the foreign country of Jonguria. Trade ceased between the countries due to war, and after Bryn helps to sway the vote in favor of his uncle's proposal, Bryn, his uncle, and several delegates who voted alongside Bryn's uncle, are sent off to Jonguria to negotiate a trade agreement.

Things . . . don't go well.

The world building in this novel is top notch. Greg Strandberg put a great deal of thought and planning into the creation of his setting, detailing each Adjurian state's purpose, their unique emblems, and the identity of each state official. The descriptions can be quite lengthy, and this will put off some readers, but I love detailed descriptions, so it works for me. This book doesn't go into as much detail regarding the Jongurian territories, but I believe this makes sense because the book focuses on the viewpoint of the Adjurians, most of whom might not know as much about the Jongurian geography and culture. I suspect the later installments of the series will delve more deeply into the Jonjurian culture and geography. The plot flows well, the political intrigue is engrossing, and the danger the characters face in the second half of the book is gripping.

This book does have some issues. There were occasional grammatical mistakes, but these were very rare and the novel was fairly solidly edited. Still, I would have a copyeditor go over this novel one more time, and many sentences ran a bit too long and could have been trimmed down. A slightly bigger problem was the Adjurian characters, namely that there were way too many of them and that they were introduced all at once. Aside from Bryn, his uncle Halam, Rodden, Jurin, and Willem, I couldn't keep any of the other Adjurian delegates straight or pin down their appearance in my mind. I think adventure narratives like this work better with small traveling parties, and each character needs time to be introduced and solidified in a reader's mind before throwing several other characters at the reader. In addition to this, Bryn isn't a particularly interesting character. I'm not a huge fan of featureless protagonists. I understand that characters like Bryn are meant to be audience surrogates, and Bryn's lack of personality is so readers can more easily insert themselves into Bryn's place, but some readers may find Bryn dull as a consequence.

It's a bit of a difficult read, but I still recommend it. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

The Jongurian Mission is available on Amazon.com

"Greg Strandberg was born and raised in Helena, Montana. He graduated from the University of Montana in 2008 with a BA in History."
—Amazon Author Biography

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Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Artist Spotlight: THE NAMELESS DOLL

Disclaimer: All images and video links in this blog post are the property of Roosa Karlsson, aka The Nameless Doll. Please support her through the social media links listed at the bottom of this post.

I wanted to promote an artist I've been a fan of for a couple of years now. Roosa Karlsson, who goes by the online pseudonym The Nameless Doll, is an editor, digital compositor, illustrator, and film writer. She's an incredible artist with an eye for detail that puts my own nitpickiness to shame. Her work includes not-for-profit edits of animated characters to see how they would look with different body types, altered hairstyles, or more realistic proportions. Her edited images and video clips are so painstaking and seamless that at first glance, you might not realize the images were altered:


I should note that Roosa does not disparage the animation styles of these cartoons and films with her edits. Her work is purely explorative, experimenting with different styles and content. We can still love the classic Disney movies and be curious about how these same movies might look or unfold with alterations to character design or plot. In a Huffington Post article, Roosa is quoted:

"With these edits I am not in any way trying to criticize animated movies that chose to have an extremely cartoony look. Because that is the beauty of animation. There are so many different styles, which gives something for everybody."

Roosa is a very popular artist in the Non/Disney community. Non/Disney (an abbreviation of Non-Disney/Disney crossover) is a fandom that focuses on crossovers between Disney films and/or films with a style similar to Disney, such as those made by Pixar, DreamWorks, or Don Bluth. In the Non/Disney fandom, characters from different franchises are brought together through fan fiction, fan art, manipulated photos, and edited videos. Roosa herself has composited quite a few pairings, such as Captain Amelia and Jane Porter from Treasure Planet and Tarzan respectively:



One of Roosa's most noteworthy projects in the Non/Disney community is an ongoing video series titled To Belong. In this non-profit crossover series, three homeless siblings Sinbad, Anya, and Jim search for a place they can call home. The story takes place in a fantasy world where everyone can shapeshift into animals at will, each person having their own particular animal form. The characters and settings in this crossover series are collaged so seamlessly, it really looks as if they all belonged in the same movie.

The positive reception to this non-profit crossover series has inspired Roosa to create a pilot for an original cartoon series that follows the same storyline with the roles of Sinbad, Anya, and Jim now filled by original characters Terren, Isaia, and Frey. Roosa crowdfunded the project through Kickstarter, her campaign having reached its funding goal this past year. The official To Belong pilot is currently in development.


Roosa continues to produce image and video edits, accepting commissions from her fans and online followers. For the past couple of weeks, she's been working on a piece commissioned by yours truly, which showcases my OC's Angela Thorn and Ezekiel Blake as Disney-style characters. Roosa posts videos of her editing process on her "Random Nameless Channel" on YouTube, and she posted her process video for my commissioned piece today.


Follow Roosa Karlsson on social media, and if you are so inclined, please support her To Belong project through Patreon or by Liking/Sharing her videos and artwork.

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Sunday, February 25, 2018

Book Review: MICRO GOD by K. R. Martin

Original Goodreads review posted on Nov 23, 2017.


"Richard Clarke is a man born with the unnatural ability to control all reality around himself. Whether it be granting himself immortality, stopping bullets in mid-air, or destroying his enemies with a mere thought, he is often feared as a god on Earth. However, outliving everyone he ever loved whilst losing friends to the limitations of his powers [places] a heavy burden upon his shoulders, and in the 21st Century, Clarke is a stoic loner, traveling and living only to kill evil. He has no time for friends or family, but all that changes when he meets a dedicated doctor working in the dark streets of Detroit. In Detroit, Clarke vows to eliminate all gangs terrorizing the city's populace. However, after delivering a junkie with a broken leg to a hospital, Clarke is given a chance to end his decades of rampages, killing criminals and villains. Instead, he is offered a chance to work in the hospital along the idealistic Doctor Chloe Hall. His powers give him an incredible edge in the emergency room[,] and he soon realizes that he could save everyone who comes through the hospital doors. But the gangs are still out there, and Clarke has to make a choice. Should he keep killing, or should he begin saving lives? 'That which is destroyed cannot be repaired. That which is mended cannot be maintained.'"
—Amazon Plot Description

Richard Clarke is a god of approximately five feet of his immediate surroundings. I want to start off by saying how much I love this premise! When you're writing fantasy or sci-fi, it's so easy to fall into the trap of making your characters over-powered, but Kyle R. Martin takes the OP-character and flips it in a way that I don't think I've ever seen before. His main character is a literal god on earth, but his power doesn't go beyond a few feet . . . which kinda puts a cramp in the whole being a god thing.

I first came across K. R. Martin through his YouTube channel KrimsonRogue, where he posts a very humorous vlog series called The Book Was Better, reviewing movie adaptations of popular novels. I'm a huge fan of his vlog series, and was very eager to read his book. I adore stories about redemption and rediscovering hope, so this book was right up my alley. I found the story very well structured, the action scenes were thrilling, and I connected with the main character enough to want him to find happiness (you'll have to read the book to find out if he does or not).

I enjoyed this book a great deal and I think it's a solid story, but I do have a few nitpicks. Nothing too serious, but some things I feel do warrant a mention. One is that I think the book is too short to fully flesh out the story. Everything felt a little rushed, and I think it needed an additional forty or fifty pages to better set up scenes, flesh out the characters' personalities, and develop Clarke and Chloe's relationship a bit more. That's just me though, and I think readers who prefer a quick read will probably like that Micro God is so compact. Other problems include a small number of grammatical mistakes I found here and there that must have slipped past the editing phase, and there were a few points in the story where Martin narrated the obvious. For example:

"The speech was entirely sociopathic and narcissistic."

Now lines like that didn't show up that often (maybe about three times), but when they did, it brought to mind the adage, "show, don't tell," except here, Martin had already effectively shown that the gangster was sociopathic and narcissistic, so the readers didn't really need it spelled out to them in the next line. Basically, Martin occasionally shows AND tells, which is a bit overkill.

Okay, nitpicking done. I enjoyed this book and hope Richard Clarke shows up again in Martin's later books, assuming he can get over his writer's block (Sorry for the dig, Kyle. I just watched your Prince of Persia review and couldn't help myself). I give Micro God 4 stars out of 5.

Micro God is available on Amazon.com

"Kyle R. Martin, better known under the pseudonym "KrimsonRogue", is best known for his youtube video series, The Book Was Better, in which he compares film adaptations to their source material, usually books or book series."
—Goodreads Author Biography

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