Review: Traitor Born

Traitor Born (Secondborn, #2)Traitor Born by Amy A. Bartol

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is probably a 2.5/5 too but it was better than the first so I rounded up instead of rounding down.

As I mentioned in one of my updates I feel awkward reviewing books like this because I know I couldn’t do any better, and I also know I’m not the target demographic. Still, it was free on KU and the plot has been compelling enough to keep me engaged.

This review will contain spoilers so stop reading now if that bothers you.

I’ll start with the things I didn’t like that way this review ends with the positives. At times the writing was a little repetitive, and what made the repetition even more noticeable was how it carried over from the first book. For example, the descriptions of muscles on all the men Roselle respects or is romantically involved with. You can tell who the good guys are because they’re hot and muscular. You can tell who the bad guys are because they’re pure evil, usually less attractive, and very immature. Also, most people are blonde. It’s not that big of a deal but it just catches my attention how even some throwaway characters who don’t even need a physical description “brush their blonde hair out of their face.”

I was also not a fan of the love interests (it’s now a long quadrangle). Clifton, Hawthorne, and Reykin are all practically the same character because the most important thing about them is their combat competence and their physical appearance.

The villains are flat (most of the characters are) but they are still just evil for the sake of being evil.

Roselle is too perfect. She is able to kill an entire hoard of enemies at a costume party and come out with only a couple fractured ribs. Then when Clifton gives her this special body armor she is bested by two guards but is miraculously saved because of the armor. There’s really no conflict because it’s clear if Roselle wanted to she could kill everyone at once with ease, and I dont understand the connection she feels with her mom because we never actually saw any relationship (or lack thereof) we were just told Roselle was ignored and her mom hates her. I just mean I feel nothing for her dilemma because I never shared the same hope she had that their family would be reunited.

The only thing that gets in Roselle’s way is her own naivety and it’s kind of annoying because it’s so out of character. She goes from this overpowered demi-god to a bumbling idiot when it’s convenient for the plot or the romantic sub-plot.

It is entertaining though and there were pockets of good writing. Again I feel like I shouldnt be saying that because Bartol produced something better than I could.

As long as the third book is available on KU I will finish the series.

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Review: Secondborn

Secondborn (Secondborn #1)Secondborn by Amy A. Bartol

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

0-50% was 1/5
51-80% was 2/5
81-100% was 3.5/5

This review will contain spoilers so if that bothers you do not read on.

If the ratings are not clear to you all I mean is that I struggled to get into the book early on, but there was at least something compelling me to finish. Though none of the characters (especially Roselle) stood out to me there was something about the world that made me want to at least finish this book.

Unfortunately, this book did fall flat in some regards. There was very little world-building, very little character development, and a plot that sometimes lost its way. The actual events that happened didn’t really matter. What mattered was proving to the reader that Roselle was a worthy leader so in the following books the rebellion would make sense.

Unfortunately, I don’t think this book did a good job proving Roselle was a leader. It proved she’s capable of killing an army on her own when she wants, but for some reason is able to lose fights when it’s convenient for a male character (usually a love interest or an aspiring love interest) to comfort her. Oh, also the love interest felt incredibly forced at first, but I got over it because Hawthorne became interesting by the end of the book.

The main villain, or at least the man I assume to be the main villain doesn’t have much depth. He’s just evil for the sake of being evil.

There is also a war going on but we only actually see one war scene and it’s mostly Roselle tripping over corpses to see if anyone is alive. She’s never in any danger and even though it’s obvious she isn’t going to die, she never felt close to dying at any point throughout this book, even though many people want her dead. She was kind of an annoying main character because she was just perfect. She was attractive but didn’t know it, a weapons expert, and incredibly innocent and naive (like literally someone who justified killing guards but also nursed little animals back to health).

The best parts of the book were the descriptions of the advanced technology. The final three chapters were the most intriguing and did enough to make me curious about the rest of the series (as long as they remain on KU).

I hope the second book does a better job world building and also goes into more detail about the secondborn trials. I don’t care if it’s derivative of hunger games as it’s entertaining. It kept getting referenced throughout the book but we rarely saw it.

I do want to finish this on a positive so I will say Clifton Salloway was an interesting character. He was by far the most well developed and had the most intriguing story of the cast.

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Editing is kinetic

So, I know I can’t shut up about Third Life but I find I give my best advice when I give anecdotes. Rather than boring you with a formula of how certain generic actions equal certain dynamic results, I put a face to the character performing tasks (me) and give actual results.

So, I’m editing Third Life, and as usual, I get discouraged when I edit. There is just so much to remember, so many small details I want to include early on to wink at the reader when they finish so I can say “see look what I did there?”

Anyway, what I’m discovering is the further into the story I get the fewer edits I have to make. Most of the edits are early on while I’m still building the world and figuring out the ending. Even though I went into this project with a pretty good idea of what I wanted my ending to be, I came up with a lot of ideas for the world while I was writing. That happens no matter how much I outline.

Anyway, by the end of the story I know all the rules and obviously, know what the ending is going to be so there are fewer errors as opposed to the beginning of the story there are tons of contradictions and things that just wouldn’t work because I added some new rules down the line.

So, I guess the point of this post is to say don’t be discouraged while editing. It gets easier.

Third Life: New Cover

Well, it finally happened. One of many nightmares indie authors have. The original stock photo I used for my Third Life cover was being used by another author with an upcoming release. This author private messaged me and after revealing she purchased hers as a premade I decided to just make a new cover so neither of us had to show up to the ball wearing the same dress. It was a fun experiment for me. I’m not the most artistic person but I know how to have a little fun on photoshop.

I went to and found a stock image that I thought looked pretty creepy. It also perfectly captured the gridded and high walled streets in the Formation (the main tribe in Third Life). From there I removed the person in the image and put the figure in a new layer so they stood out a little more, since they’re the only individual who steps out of line in the Formation. I really played up their individuality by upping the crap out of the contrast.

I added the three hearts over their head–you’ll find out why when you read the story. . . screw that you’ll find out now, everyone in the Formation gets three lives. (wait I might’ve mentioned that in my last post anyway lol).

I cropped the sky because it was too bright and distracting and added the text, messed around with the layers until I got a cool reflection under the title and bam! I have a new book cover.

What do you guys think of it?Third Life FX

Third Life: Edits have begun

Welcome to the land of no names. I started my edits on Third Life this morning. It isn’t long, only 20k words so more or less 80 pages. It is fun though. Only two characters have names, the protagonist, and his brother. The rest are nameless, and eventually faceless, except the two leaders of warring tribes. They don’t have names but titles.

I am really excited about this story because it’s the first time in a while that I really let my imagination run free. It’s not that the audience wasn’t on my mind; it’s more that I care about them in the edits and not so much in the rough draft. Part of the issue I had with the Absolute, and part of the reason I lost the excitement of it is it just sorta lost its way. When I originally wrote it, it was more the kind of content my mind goes to on its own. A story with a big question that could never actually happen.

It became something bland. Something that reads like I was overly concerned with pleasing everybody that it just became boring.

Thid Life is definitely not for everybody. I’m not even sure if it’s any good, but I know I’m excited about it. I built a world of rigid discipline. A world where life is cheap, people get more than one, and its sole purpose is to serve a higher purpose. The two tribes fighting believe in opposing purposes, one to the world and the other to the longevity of those who are living.

What I am most concerned about is my info dumping. I was so excited to create this brand new world that I think I got carried away, particularly in the first chapter, with explaining every detail. It’s also difficult to edit because I want those details there, and part of the reason I think the info dump might work is that it occurs during moments of “blank stare,” which is a side effect of adults in the Formation (the tribe the main character is a part of).

I hope to finish my first round of edits this weekend and send it off to some beta readers. I’m always looking for more so if that’s something that interests you please shoot me an email on my contact page.

I was forcing the Absolute because I really felt like I needed a full-length novel out, but I think it would be best if I give it a brief pause and work on some of my novella ideas. I also think that would be best for the people who actually read my work because it means more content!

Upcoming Story: Third Life

So, I had this vision of a character who walked around all day with a gun to his head. The world operated on a strike system. Ya know, three strikes and you’re out sorta thing, except in this case out is—

Anyway, I never went anywhere with the story idea. When I thought about it throughout the day it never felt like a story, it seemed more like a painting. A cool concept that would require too many “whys?” to actually get the plot off the ground.

Last week I finally decided to do something about it. As I think I’ve mentioned before I’ve been on a bit of a short (long) story kicker and have a few projects on my computer that are in the 50-70 page zone. Not ideal for a marketing standpoint, not something I’m ever going to build a career out of, but long enough to tell the stories that have been on my mind lately.

Third Life

This is the working cover for the story. Please be polite with your criticism of it.

When I started writing the story, I kept the general concept. The world was based on discipline, everyone inside it operated within a strict framework and any wavering from their orders would cost them.

The deaths became less graphic in my writing than they were in my head. People weren’t literally carrying around the device that would kill them if they strayed. Instead, it turned into an old video game style death. Lose three hearts and you just sorta blink out of existence.

What really took this story off the rails though was all the “whys?” Those pesky whys really make or break the story. This may be a piece of shit but damn it’s got some layers to it. Some I try to make obvious, others less so.

As some of you know my current obsession with writing has been technology vs. nature. The QT Pi series I’m working on is ALL about that. This story is unique in that it isn’t necessarily the nature of our planet.

It’s not much of a spoiler to say this since the whole concept is built around lives inside a video game, but this doesn’t take place in our world at all. It’s a nature verse technology fight in a realm of technology.

I’m trying not to say too much cause I’m worried I’m gonna give something away, and it’s probably all sounding like gibberish, but I’m really excited to share this story with you. I think the next few projects I publish will be short 50-70 page stories. I’ll probably bundle them all together too, all while I continue editing The Pathetic Tycoon and The Absolute.

50 page stories

I’m curious what people think of longer stories. Not quite novella length but larger than anything they’d find in a lit journal. I have two stories I am working on now, both in the 10,000-15,000 word range. I think they are cool, unique ideas that stand alone. There is no point to make them any longer if the story is served in that length so adding extra words to meet some quota word count seems self-defeating.

What’re your thoughts on these stories? Are they enjoyable? Should they be published online for free or listed on Kindle and KU. Should they be used to entertain newsletter subscribers? Do you enjoy writing them yourself?

I like how effective they are at delivering a theme. Like my one story deals with balance, life and death, loss. The main character isn’t on a journey to save his family; he’s on a quest to make sure he says goodbye properly.

The story I’m further along with is my usual technology vs nature theme only it has more twists than I’m used to at doesn’t villainize one side or the other. It’s more this is the existence of a fictional landscape and they’re finding balance.