MEMORIES OF ASH [Cover Reveal]

IT’S. FINALLY. HERE. (Well, almost!)

For ages I’ve been eagerly awaiting Intisar Khanani’s second installment in her Sunbolt series, Memories of Ash, and am privileged enough to have her on the blog today to revealing the cover for her newest novel. This cover was designed by the amazing Jenny of Seedlings Design Studio, and there’s also a Kindle Fire giveaway, so make sure to scroll down to the end of the post to enter. First off, a few questions!

Describe Memories of Ash in 3 words.

Walk with courage.

What compelled you to write your first book?

I always wanted to write a novel, so my senior year of university I decided I’d better buckle down and try. I chose a fairy tale (The Goose Girl) to give me an over-arching plot and narrative structure, and then went to town with it. I really wrote it as an exercise to test myself, not intending to do anything with it when I finished. But, by the time I finished, I loved my characters so much that I ended up working through over a dozen revisions to take it from “writing exercise” to my debut novel, Thorn.

If you could live in one of your books, which one would you choose?

Definitely the world of the Sunbolt Chronicles. Sunbolt follows Hitomi, a street thief with a propensity to play hero when people need saving, and her nemesis, the dark mage who killed her father. Although there is a lot of darkness in Sunbolt, there’s also a lot of light. It’s a real world, in its way, and I love the diversity and vibrancy of the cultures and creatures that populate it. I’d have my choice of living in a tropical island sultanate reminiscent of historic Zanzibar, or among the nomadic desert tribes that eke out an existence alongside the cursed Burnt Lands, to name my two favorite options. Then again, in Memories of Ash, there’s the decaying grandeur of the capitol of a fallen empire that feels a lot like an Istanbul of old, right at the heart of the Eleven Kingdoms. Plus, I wouldn’t mind having shape-shifting friends and charms to keep my bread from burning.

What authors, or books, have influenced you?

As a young duckling, I imprinted on Tamora Pierce and Robin McKinley’s earlier works. I read pretty widely, but those are the authors I kept coming back to, especially McKinley’s Damar books. I am also an incorrigible Jane Austen fan, but my books don’t reflect that very much!

 

Your first reaction to the cover in GIF format.

 

 

And, at long last, here it is…

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In the year since she cast her sunbolt, Hitomi has recovered only a handful of memories. But the truths of the past have a tendency to come calling, and an isolated mountain fastness can offer only so much shelter. When the High Council of Mages summons Brigit Stormwind to stand trial for treason, Hitomi knows her mentor won’t return—not with Arch Mage Blackflame behind the charges.

Armed only with her magic and her wits, Hitomi vows to free her mentor from unjust imprisonment. She must traverse spell-cursed lands and barren deserts, facing powerful ancient enchantments and navigating bitter enmities, as she races to reach the High Council. There, she reunites with old friends, planning a rescue equal parts magic and trickery.

If she succeeds, Hitomi will be hunted the rest of her life. If she fails, she’ll face the ultimate punishment: enslavement to the High Council, her magic slowly drained until she dies.

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A Special Treat For Those Who Pre-order…

Not only is the pre-order of Memories of Ash on sale for only 99 cents, but anyone who buys the pre-order will receive a free digital art print of Hitomi by artist Grace Fong. Just email your proof of purchase to moapreorder@gmail.com!

Haven’t read Sunbolt (Book 1) yet? It’s been knocked down to just 99 cents to celebrate the release and is available at most major e-retailers. That’s two fantastic books for less than a cuppa joe.

MoA_PreOrder Special

About Intisar Khanani

Khanani_Author_PhotoIntisar Khanani grew up a nomad and world traveler. She has lived in five different states as well as in Jeddah on the coast of the Red Sea. Until recently, Intisar wrote grants and developed projects to address community health with the Cincinnati Health Department, which was as close as she could get to saving the world. Now she focuses her time on her two passions: raising her family and writing fantasy. Intisar’s current projects include a companion trilogy to Thorn, featuring the heroine introduced in her free short story The Bone Knife, and The Sunbolt Chronicles.

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Are you as excited as I am? (IMPOSSIBLE) Comment below and pre-order now!

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Cover Reveal: THORN by Intisar Khanani (+ Giveaway & Excerpt)

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For Princess Alyrra, choice is a luxury she’s never had … until she’s betrayed.

Princess Alyrra has never enjoyed the security or power of her rank. Between her family’s cruelty and the court’s contempt, she has spent her life in the shadows. Forced to marry a powerful foreign prince, Alyrra embarks on a journey to meet her betrothed with little hope for a better future. But powerful men have powerful enemies—and now, so does Alyrra. Betrayed during a magical attack, her identity is switched with another woman’s, giving Alyrra the first choice she’s ever had: to start a new life for herself or fight for prince she’s never met. But Alyrra soon finds that Prince Kestrin is not at all what she expected. While walking away will cost Kestrin his life, returning to the court may cost Alyrra her own. As Alyrra is coming to realize, sometimes the hardest choice means learning to trust herself.

Cover Designer

 

About the Author

 

5780445Intisar Khanani grew up a nomad and world traveler. Born in Wisconsin, she has lived in five different states as well as in Jeddah on the coast of the Red Sea. She first remembers seeing snow on a wintry street in Zurich, Switzerland, and vaguely recollects having breakfast with the orangutans at the Singapore Zoo when she was five.

Intisar currently resides in Cincinnati, Ohio, with her husband and two young daughters. Until recently, she wrote grants and developed projects to address community health and infant mortality with the Cincinnati Health Department— which was as close as she could get to saving the world. Now she focuses her time on her two passions: raising her family and writing fantasy.

Intisar’s latest projects include a serial novella project titled The Sunbolt Chronicles, about a young thief with a propensity to play hero, and her arch-nemesis, a dark mage intent on taking over the Eleven Kingdoms. She’s also developing a companion trilogy to her debut novel Thorn, which will feature a new heroine introduced in her free short story The Bone Knife.

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EXCERPT:

  “Princess Alyrra,” the king says. My eyes flick up to his, my legs frozen in their curtsy. He studies me as if I were a prize goat, his gaze sliding over me before returning to my face, as cold and calculating as a butcher. “We have heard tell of you before.”

“My lord?” My voice sounds unnaturally high even to me.

“It is said you are honest. An unusual trait, it would seem.”

I open my mouth, close it, force some semblance of a smile to my lips. My brother has gone rigid, his hands pressed flat against his thighs.

“You are most kind,” my mother says, stepping forward. The king watches me a moment longer, leaving my mother waiting. I cannot say what he thinks, why he would mention something sure to raise old grievances, why he would care. Or is he only toying with us? Laughing at us?

He turns to my mother, offering her a courtly smile, and at her words he accompanies her up the three stairs and through the great wooden doors of our Hall. My brother and I trail behind him, a mix of our nobles and the king’s entourage on our heels.

“Honest Alyrra,” my brother mocks, his voice loud enough for those nearest us to hear. “What a very clever, sophisticated princess you must be.”

I bite my lip. It is going to be a long week, watching my back and hiding down corridors. And with so many guests, the wine and ale will flow freely, which will make things even worse. Just leave, I think at the king’s back. Just go home and leave us alone.

Giveaway Winners Annoucement

I’m happy to finally be announcing the three winners of my giveaway!

Each winner will receive a copy of No Angels and Collapsed Cathedrals by Eli Hinze, (yours truly), Thorn by Intisar Khanani, and The Key of Amatahns by Elisabeth Wheatley.

The winners are as follows:

  • Christina Galbraith-Popma
  • Fran Swarts
  • Hannah Margaret Cook

Congratulations, everyone! A big thanks to everyone who entered and helped me promote this. You all are the best.

Winners will be contacted shortly!

A Cause for Concern: Female Fiction Writers

To celebrate the release of Intisar Khanani’s novel Sunbolt, she is calling bloggers to post about a topic of concern for them. She is also hosting a giveaway including a $100 donation to charity or non-profit, artwork, and multiple signed novels. Click here to see the giveaway!

For the cause-for-concern posts, Khanani is encouraging bloggers and readers alike to write on an issue close to their hearts. While I was originally going to write on women’s rights, (a vast topic), I realized that the majority of people who would be listening to me would be writers or readers themselves. As such, I decided to put the topic of sexism into an arena said audience would be familiar with; the business of fiction.

Female authors are often seen as less-than in the eyes of many in the book world, whether they be reviewers, customers, or even other writers themselves.

For example, let’s look at book covers. Covers for books written by women are generally more stereotypically “girly” in appearance. As such, men are more likely to avoid them. As one person tweeted author Maureen Johnson, “Please put a non-girly cover on your book so I can read it. – signed, A Guy”. Since, in today’s sexist culture, “girly” things are seen as being for explicitly girls only, it puts a limit on the audience willing to pick up that book. Take a look at the slideshow in this article, and look at the multiple versions of “girly” versus more broad and/or “manly” covers. You should see what I mean.

Also? Names. One of the first things J. K. Rowling was old by her publisher was that boys wouldn’t want to read a book by a female author. So, instead of going as Joanne, J. K. it was. While some people no longer believe that readers disregard female authors based off their name, it will often affect the perceptions of readers concerning a book. In such a perspective for example, a man may think that a book written about family life by a man contains valuable insight from which he can draw. If written by a woman? It’s sentimental drivel. (If you think this sounds ridiculous, good on you. Some do still think this way, however. I’ve experienced and witnessed it firsthand.)

Female writers also catch crap for writing in traditionally male-dominated genres. Ann Aguirre, a science fiction writer, was once told “It’s bitches like you that are ruining SF. Why cant you leave it to men who know what their doing?” She had even reported being treated as inferior by male writers with whom she was on panels with, being called degrading names, being bossed around, being told she should step down, etc.

And lastly, reviews. Book reviewers often review far more male-written novels than female, some percentages being so bad that only 14% of the books reviewed by a certain establishment will be from women. And yet, roughly half the published material out there it produced by women. Even the New York Times has rates as bad as consistently reviewing two male-written books for every female one reviewed. You can check out more stats for yourself here. The ratios are appalling.

The roots of sexism are deeply ingrained into our culture, and it manifests itself in a multitude of ways. As readers and writers alike, we must keep a sharp eye out and combat sexism wherever we happen upon it, within the book world or without. Don’t assume that simply because it’s a woman writing, the writing will be of a lower caliber and/or have less insight to offer. Don’t assume that women can’t write in certain genres just as well as men can. Give female authors equal treatment in the handling and status of their work. It is not too much to ask, and it’s time for us to make a change.

Book Review: Thorn

14059999Title: Thorn

Author: Intisar Khanani

Publisher: Self-Published

Release Date: May 25th, 2012

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Summary: “Princess Alyrra has never enjoyed the security or power of her rank. Between her family’s cruelty and the court’s contempt, she has spent her life in the shadows. Forced to marry a powerful foreign prince, Alyrra embarks on a journey to meet her betrothed with little hope for a better future. 

But powerful men have powerful enemies—and now, so does Alyrra. Betrayed during a magical attack, her identity is switched with another woman’s, giving Alyrra the first choice she’s ever had: to start a new life for herself or fight for a prince she’s never met. But Alyrra soon finds that Prince Kestrin is not at all what she expected. While walking away will cost Kestrin his life, returning to the court may cost Alyrra her own. As Alyrra is coming to realize, sometimes the hardest choice means learning to trust herself.” – Goodreads

The writing in this book is nothing short of amazing. In fact, it’s some of the best I’ve read in a long time. Better than some best selling authors even, and that’s no overstatement. (Probably an understatement, if anything.) If there’s a single thing I’d have to say if my favorite about this book, it’d be the writing.

Guess what else is nice? The fact that I have finally found a fantasy world that isn’t strictly populated with white people, which is so, so, so incredibly nice. Such diversity sets this world apart and is remarkably refreshing.

I occasionally felt the novel was slow and anticlimactic throughout, though not too much for me to dock the books a full point. Even so, with today’s literature we as readers grow accustomed to fast-paced action tossing us from place to place, but just because a story differs from that trend isn’t a bad thing. If anything, it’s something to be welcomed for a change of scenery. The characters were nice and diverse, and the world is full and fleshed out. The plot itself was also well done.

I look forward to seeing what more Intisar has to offer. (In fact, she has yet another novel, Sunbolt, coming out June 17th!)

For its rich world, refreshing quality and astounding writing, being docked half a point for an occasionally sluggish pace, Thorn earns itself a solid 4.5 out of 5!

Book Review: The Bone Knife

16059939Title: The Bone Knife

Author: Intisar Khanani

Publisher: Self Published

Release Date: October 25th, 2012

Rating: 4 out of 5

Summary: “Rae knows how to look out for family. Born with a deformed foot, she feigns indifference to the pity and insults that come her way. Wary of all things beautiful, Rae instantly distrusts their latest visitor: an appallingly attractive faerie. Further, his presence imperils the secret her sister guards. But when the local townspeople show up demanding his blood, Rae must find a way to protect both her sister’s secret and their guest. Even if that means risking herself.” – Goodreads

Whenever people try to make characters have flaws, they go for lazy, snarky, or something else society generally looks past. This author goes for a club foot. (Not saying that’s a flaw, though it is a hinderance society generally makes fun of.) It’s refreshing to have a character, (Rae), that isn’t perfect or conventionally beautiful, already setting me up to love her.

Here’s the second thing the writer did that I really liked. Reportedly, the inspiration behind this was based off how disconnected fantasy families usually are. Protagonists are often orphaned or have dysfunctional backgrounds. Khanani wanted to have a story where that wasn’t the case, which is nice to see.

The descriptions were well done, even though I felt the writing could’ve been more clear as to who was saying and doing things. I caught myself having no idea who was talking more than a few times, plus there wasn’t enough explanation as to how the magic worked/what they intended to do with it.

The plot isn’t terribly exciting, but it doesn’t have to be. It carries a lot of tension in a unique plot and world. Plus there’s a hot faeire. So.

For its all around uniqueness, docked only a point for some confusing writing, The Bone Knife earns a four out of five.

Add The Bone Knife on Goodreads. It’s 100% free to purchase! 

P. S. Isn’t the cover beautiful?