Friday, January 19, 2018

Book Spotlight: The Vanishing Spark of Dusk by Sara Baysinger

We're excited to be part of the blog tour for The Vanishing Spark of Dusk by Sara Baysinger! Sara has visited Lands Uncharted a few times in the past for an interview and to share her Top 3 Favorite Dystopian Novels.

Today we're celebrating Sara's latest novel, The Vanishing Spark of Dusk, which just released on January 8th! Here's the back cover blurb:

Stand up.

When Lark is stolen from Earth to be a slave on the planet Tavdora, she’s determined to find her way back home to her family, no matter the cost. Placed in the household of a notorious slave trader, Lark quickly learns her best assets are her eyes and ears. And if she’s brave enough, her voice.

Be heard.

Kalen is the Tavdorian son of a slave trader and in line to inherit his father’s business. But his growing feelings for Lark, the new house slave who dares to speak of freedom, compel him to reveal his new plan for the slave ships returning to Earth—escape. Together, they just might spark a change that flares across the universe.

You can purchase The Vanishing Spark of Dusk here. I had the opportunity to read an ARC of this book, and it was a powerful, beautifully written story! But I should note that it has some language and sensuality that makes it more mature than our usually PG-13 or below standards. To find out more, check out the full blog tour schedule here.

And here's a little about the author:

My name is Sara Baysinger and I write books. I was born in the heart of the Andes Mountains in Ecuador where I spent my early life exploring uncharted lands on horseback and raising chickens. I now make my home among the endless cornfields of Indiana with my husband and two children…and I still raise chickens. My dystopian novel Black Tiger was self-published in 2016, with books 2 & 3 published in 2017. When not getting lost in a book, I can be found gardening, devouring chocolate, and running off the sugar-high from said chocolate.

I’m currently working on an upcoming science fiction romance novel that will release with Entangled Teen, an imprint of Entangled Publishing.

You can connect with Sara on her website or Twitter.

Sara has a giveaway going as part of her blog tour! Enter below for a chance to win a signed copy of the book, $25 Amazon gift card, and a handmade adjustable ring that says "Be heard."

Congratulations on your new release, Sara, and thanks for letting us celebrate with you!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, January 18, 2018

What We're Reading: Hunted by Meagan Spooner (Jill)

I’ve become really interested in fairy-tale retellings, perhaps because I currently have a couple spinning in the back of my mind. Hunted is a Beauty and the Beast retelling, and it stays pretty close to the original Grimm fairy tale (and avoids the Disney-fied singing furniture).
Yeva, her two sisters, and her father live in Russia. Although her father used to be a great hunter, his wife felt it was too dangerous, and he became a merchant. When his wife dies, he remains a merchant, determined to provide a comfortable life for his daughters. But Yeva (nicknamed Beauty by her father) remembers the occasional trips into the woods with him when she was little. On the times she was unable to go with him, he would return and tell stories of unusual, magical creatures.
When her father loses everything in a caravan accident, the family must move to the derelict cabin at the edge of the woods. He returns to the hunting lifestyle, but is driven mad by the absence of game and the feeling of being hunted by an unseen creature. When he goes after the creature again, Beauty follows, sure her father is mentally unwell. She doesn’t know this choice will change her life and the lives of her sisters that have been left behind.

CONS: At the beginning and midpoint of Beauty and Beast's relationship, there are shades of Stockholm syndrome, which made me a bit uncomfortable. I stuck with the story, and after a chapter or two, was glad I did.
Beast is a bloodthirsty savage and it's hard to like this character ... at first.
PROS: Spooner begins showing the reader how each character is changing. Each chapter begins with a small excerpt of the Beast’s thoughts and actions, like a diary, and this gives a creepy glimpse into the mind of a creature that isn’t quite human, but not quite animal, either.
Yeva and the Beast both are complex characters, and as Beast’s true personality comes to the fore, the reader can see Yeva’s compassion warring with her need to avenge the death of her father.
Because this tale takes place in Russia, Spooner adds to the story the Russian fairy tale, Ivan Tsarevich, the Firebird, and the Grey Wolf, about a rich king with three suns and a golden apple tree. Although this retelling follows the original Beauty and the Beast plot, the Russian landscape and folk tale are a fantastic touch. The reader is left with a rich, winter tale full of magic. I loved the unexpected twist at the end that gave our two characters a happily-ever-after.
For those who love fairy tale retellings (or just a good story), I highly recommend Hunted and give it four and half golden apples.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

On Writing (Julie)

To outline or not to outline. That is the question. It seems that writers either hate it or love it.
You’re either a plotter or pantser. Plotters outline the whole story before writing a single word.
On the other hand, pantsers have a general idea of the story.
They know the beginning and ending, but not much in the middle, so they write by
the “seat of their pants.”

I never thought anything about outlines when I first started writing.
I was so excited to let the creative ideas flow that I didn’t want to waste writing time outlining.
When I finally finished my first draft, I came to a startling discovery.
There was still more story to tell. Which meant I had more books to write!
I’ve now decided to make it a trilogy:) But that presented a problem.
The more I wrote, the more I discovered errors. Huge errors.
Like the “whys” behind the motivation of the antagonist.
I made him the villian but didn’t have a strong motivation behind his actions that drove the plot.

Needless to say, I spent countless hours outlining and rewriting so my story
would have continuity and plausibility. The strange thing is that I actually
enjoyed it, granted I’d already written the story though.
But, I now know my story and characters more intimately
and have a solid direction for the rest of it.

I started out a pantser and ended more a plotter with some pantser tendencies.
What about you? Are you the avid plotter who never begins a story
without first plotting every scene? Or do you prefer to let creativity flow as you write?
The third option is where I belong--in both worlds.
You plot enough to get your story in the right direction but leave the
majority of your scenes to whatever comes to mind in the moment.

To help get a better understanding, here's a short list of pros and cons
to the two types of writers:


Helps avoid some writer’s block because you’ve already written the ideas for each scene.
Will save time in the long run because you won’t have to do as much rewriting.
Your story will most likely flow smoother because you’ve already worked out the kinks in the plot
during the outlining stage.

Outlining can limit your creativity. Half way through,
if you are struck with an awesome new idea, you’ll have to redo your outline,
which will take time.

Freedom and flexibility to do as you wish.
Easier to change ideas as you go along.

Could potentially have more writer’s block.
Finding plot holes that require fixing.

Do these ring true in your own writing, or have you experienced something different?

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Top 3 Fantasy Reads for 2018 (Lizzie)

I plan to read numerous books in 2018, but here are my Top 3 fantasy novels to read.

Three books to read in 2018

1) The Wounded Shadow (The Darkwater Saga) by Patrick Carr

This is the third and final book of Patrick Carr's The Darkwater Saga series, which I've mentioned before when I reviewed The Shock of Night. I can't say enough how much I have enjoyed Patrick Carr's two series (The Sword and the Staff and The Darkwater Saga) for the writing itself, the characters, the plots, as well as the intriguing questions built into the stories, like what if talents were transferable and could be exceptionally strong? That a pure physical gift could make you almost faster than sight? Or one for trade to make your family exceptionally rich for generations (how would the non-gifted feel about this)? Or what if there was a gift that let you not just see another's memories (and absorb everything they've learned) just by touching them, but keep those in your mind? What would that do to your sense of self to have those memories? Should you use that to get "confessions" from criminals?

There was a shocking revelation at the end of The Shattered Vigil, Book 2, so I am eager to find out what happens in this book, but I have to wait until it releases in April!

2) Blood Song (A Raven's Shadow Novel, Book 1) by Anthony Ryan

This one is on my list because K.M. Weiland had it on her favorites of 2017 list, and since a well-known writing teacher recommends it, I figured I should check it out. I doubt it will be the light fantasy with romance or LOTR-style book I usually go for, but variety is good, right?

Here's the blurb from
Vaelin Al Sorna was only a child of ten when his father left him at the iron gate of the Sixth Order—a caste devoted to battle. Vaelin will be trained and hardened to the austere, celibate and dangerous life of a warrior of the Faith. He has no family now save the Order.
Vaelin’s father was Battle Lord to King Janus, ruler of the Unified Realm—and Vaelin’s rage at being deprived of his birthright knows no bounds. Even his cherished memories of his mother are soon challenged by what he learns within the Order.
But one truth overpowers all the rest: Vaelin Al Sorna is destined for a future he has yet to comprehend. A future that will alter not only the Realm, but the world.

3) The Warrior Heir (Heir Chronicles Book 1) by Cinda Williams Chima

I ran across this series at Books-a-Million last Christmas and the covers caught my attention, so I bought book 1. I think it's time I actually read it.

Blurb: A teenage boy unremarkable except for the scar above his heart and the medicine he must take daily discovers that, when he skips his medicine, he's not unremarkable at all--he's stronger, fiercer, more confident (except when those unexpected bouts of magic occur). He's also now the target of covert society of wizards, enchanters, and warriors.

Bonus: Common by Laurie Lucking 

I've actually already read this since I had the privilege of endorsing it, but I look forward to getting my own copy of Common by our own Laurie Lucking to put on my shelf.

What books are you looking forward to reading in 2018? Or what were you favorites of 2017?

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Your Turn: Your Favorite Social Media Site (Jill)

Recently, I asked my author group a question: which do you like better, Instagram or Twitter? Instagram was the winner, although someone went rogue and voted for Facebook. I started thinking about all the different social media sites I was encouraged to be on, to build my platform. And unfortunately, that never stops. I’m assuming my gravestone’s epitaph will be “Follow me at!”

I’ve made an account on Facebook, Instagram, Goodreads, Twitter, Google+, as well as my own personal author website. That’s a lot to keep track of, but since my favorite is Facebook, that’s where I usually am.

My question for you? What is your favorite social media site? Do you manage to stay active on several at a time? Maybe you have a social media tip or technique that’s worked really well for you? 

Please share below in the comments!

Photo by William Iven on Unsplash

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Personal Notes (Erin)

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, by the power of the Holy Spirit at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.                        Ephesians 3:20

As I am winding down my regular post schedule here at Lands Uncharted, I wanted to leave you with some encouragement for the new year. As we hold our callings loosely, in order for God to move us where He wants us, we need to remember God will do so much more than we can imagine through the power of His Holy Spirit at work through us. God's primary goal is for us to show His love to the world. Paul tells us, earlier in chapter 3 of Ephesians, that he prays believers will:
be rooted and established in love, and have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how long and wide and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know the love that surpasses all knowledge, that we may be filled to the measure of the fullness of God.
So, whatever God calls you to do this year, don't be afraid to ask Him how to show His love to those around you, and don't be afraid to imagine yourself and those you love being filled to the measure of the fullness of God!

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Top 3 Series Conclusions Coming in 2018 (Laurie)

Happy 2018 everyone!! The New Year is always a great time to both reflect back and look ahead. And for me, of course, those reflections tend to include books :) But I was having a lot of trouble narrowing down three favorite books of 2017 or three books I'm looking forward to in 2018, because I just know so many amazing authors! But I noticed that some of my favorite series are coming to an end in 2018. So here are the three series finales I'm most looking forward to in 2018:

3) Sage by Jamie Foley

This series is just so amazing! Adventure, tension, characters that jump off the page, and just enough romance to keep my inner romantic satisfied :) There are many central characters in Foley's series, but each book focuses a bit more on a certain one, which connects to the titles and covers. Tara, who as a sage is able to foresee possible futures, played a complicated role in the first book of the series and then was in a coma during the second, so I can't wait to get more of her perspective in book 3! Also, the second book, Arbiter, ended with several characters setting out to make what appears to be a very poor and dangerous decision. What's going to happen?? I get to find out on March 10th, which happens to be my birthday :)

Want to know more about this series? We've got you covered! I reviewed Sentinel (book 1) and Viper (a prequel which is now titled Vanguard) in this post. Plus, the author, Jamie Foley, has visited Lands Uncharted in the past for an interview and to share about her favorite aether gifts (the spiritual gifts different characters have in her series).

2) Unbreakable by Sara Ella

Sara Ella's books produce All. The. Feels. The love triangle is just heart-wrenching, and Eliyana's personal growth is beautifully moving. The ending of Unraveling, the second book in the series, left me reeling and kind of in shock. I have a feeling the characters have some difficult times to get through before everything will resolve, but I can't wait to see what kind of happily-ever-after Ella cooks up, because I'm trusting her to give her readers a satisfying ending. (Right, Sara Ella, right??) I'm also looking forward to revisiting these complex characters, continuing to learn more about the Reflections, and smiling at the humor and fun cultural references incorporated into every page of this awesome series.

Unbreakable releases on May 1st, so you have plenty of time to catch up on Unblemished and Unraveling if you haven't read them yet!

1) Dominion by Julie Hall

Talk about stress-inducing cliffhangers! Gah!! I absolutely adore this series, but in the second book, Warfare, the main two characters were finally making significant progress in their relationship, and then... I can't really say much to avoid spoilers, but let's just say something really bad happened. Something that put one of them in grave danger and is about to endanger many others as they embark on a rescue mission. These books have fantastic world-building, romance, and action, so I just know the conclusion is going to be epic! And will hopefully answer so many questions! Like why a certain character gets to use a special weapon and is targeted by the worst bad guy, why a different character became a traitor, and whether another character will come back from the dark side. Ha, sorry for being so vague - when I first started this post I didn't think about how hard it would be to write about these books without spoilers! Dominion doesn't have a cover or release date yet, but it's coming out sometime this year!

If the name Julie Hall sounds familiar, it may be because she's visited Lands Uncharted before! (Or because she's a USA Today bestselling author!) I reviewed the first book in her Life After series, Huntress, here. And she did a guest post for us last spring sharing her Top 3 Places to Travel.

How about you? What books are you looking forward to this year? Are any of your favorite series coming to an end?

Thanks for reading!