Guest Review & Author Interview: Daybreak Rising by Kiran Oliver

Team Midsummer has reached out to a few friends to participate in our celebration of LGBT History Month, and Jessica’s college friend, Leia, decided to step to the plate to hit this one out of the park! Check out her review of indie author Kiran Oliver’s Daybreak Rising, and the interview below!

 

Celosia Brennan was supposed to be a hero. After a spectacular failure that cost her people their freedom, she is offered a once-in-a-lifetime chance at redemption. Together with a gifted team of rebels, she not only sets her sights on freedom, but defeating her personal demons along the way.

Now branded a failure, Celosia desperately volunteers for the next mission: taking down the corrupt Council with a team of her fellow elementally gifted mages. Leading the Ember Operative gives Celosia her last hope at redemption. They seek to overthrow the Council once and for all, this time bringing the fight to Valeria, the largest city under the Council’s iron grip. But Celosia’s new teammates don’t trust her—except for Ianthe, a powerful Ice Elementalist who happens to believe in second chances.

With Council spies, uncontrolled magic, and the distraction of unexpected love, Celosia will have to win the trust of her teammates and push her abilities to the breaking point to complete the Ember Operative. Except if she falters this time, there won’t be any Elementalists left to stop the Council from taking over not just their country, but the entire world. 

Sitting down to write this review wasn’t the easiest thing. I’ll be frank with you; I loved this book. ADORED it. However, in the spirit of being honest, I should also tell you that I adore the author. He and I have been friends for about six years – and he introduced me to my husband. I’ve spent the past few days trying to separate my love for the book from my love for Kiran, but I’m not totally sure that that’s possible. I’m going to do my best to write this review in a non-biased, non-spoilery way!

First, Daybreak Rising’s main character, Celosia Brennan, has dealt with life-crushing failure. This isn’t a spoiler – you learn about it within the first few pages of the book – and it sets the frame for who Celosia is as a person. Through the book, she has this intense weight bearing on her shoulder for what happened before Daybreak Rising begins. You will have to read it to see how she grows from this position, but trust me… the journey is definitely worth it!

Celosia’s journey includes many characters who are people of color and characters who fall many places along the sexuality and gender spectrums. Honestly, I’m not sure that I’ve read a more diverse book. These characters added a richness to the story that made me feel like I was making new friends that were real. Kiran’s character development made them real for me.

Another unique piece of the book is the way that magic and technology is woven together. At first, I felt a bit uncomfortable and nervous about the combination, but the two coexisted so seamlessly that it felt natural.

Overall, I don’t want to say too much about Daybreak Rising. It was such a unique, exhilarating experience that I won’t soon forget.

4 Bards

fourbards

 

 

 

 

Author Interview:

Leia on behalf of Team Midsummer (LKC): Thanks so much for agreeing to do an interview. I am really excited to be reviewing your book and everything!

Kiran Oliver (KO): No problem! Thank you for thinking of it!

 

LKC: What inspired you to write this novel?

KO: Honestly my wife. We were doing email-based role-play based off Harry Potter …judge me all you want… and she actually put a stop to it and said, “Look. Your writing is at the point where you need to just sit down and write a book.” so I did. She’s been telling me to write one for years, but she finally put her foot down.

 

LKC: Did you purposefully set out to write with such a diverse cast of characters?

KO: Yes. Absolutely. That’s always been something I was focused on. Particularly as my wife is a queer person of color and I’m a transgender guy on the autistic/ace/queer spectrum myself along with being Jewish. The cultural, religious, and gender/sexuality/romance diversity was important to me to have in there.

 

LKC: One of the things that I love so much about Celosia is that, at the start of the book, she has experienced some major, seemingly life crushing failure. What made you decide to write about a character who had experienced this?

KO: I honestly was just like, “OK. I’m really tired of the standard heroine that has the world at her feet just waiting to be ordered around by her/she can do no wrong. Let’s flip that on its head.” so with Celosia, I was basically like, “Here, have some crushing failure. Now let’s see how you bounce back from it.” having her have to earn the respect of not only her comrades but the entirety of Esonith is something that’s very important.

 

LKC: I happen to know that you are an avid role player. Were any of your characters influenced by characters that you RP?

KO: You can put in there: Yep. I’ve been playing World of Warcraft for about 7 years. Kayvun has a lot of ties to my character Caoilainn. Particularly her accent. Though I’ve got to say Kayvun had a better upbringing than Cai did.

 

LKC: What was it like writing about your RP character(s)?

KO: It was so loosely done that in the end I could see glimpses of Caoilainn in Kayvun, but she became her own person entirely by the end of it. The only things still really ringing true for Caoilainn’s influence are Kayvun’s accent.

 

LKC: Can you tell us a little bit about the world building involved in Daybreak Rising?

KO: That was honestly the best part for me. I really enjoyed it. I think my favorite locations have to be Dakul and Basau. Though, in the next book I’m really looking forward to showing everyone what the Ardonians have been up to over the last 7 years. I worked incredibly hard to bring realism in terms of religion and culture into it. This is really seen in Basau and Dakul especially. I also enjoyed the breakdown of not only currency and culture, but magic between regions.

 

LKC: I really loved the way that you combined magic with technology. What made you decide to do that?

KO: I figured it was something that’s usually not done. Often, books are either hard to the left or the right. Either it’s your usual fantasy with oil lamps and furs, or there’s so much technology you feel like you need a PhD in Computer Science just to read the book. I thought it would be best to create a comfortable blend of the two.

 

LKC: What can we expect from you in the future?

KO: I’m going to be working on the next book in the Embers of Redemption series for later next year to be put out by a new publisher, as will all my future titles. More on that publisher later, folks. I’m working on a novel called Dragonsong at the moment, which is a lovely blend of similar futuristic magic and technology in a much more modern secondary world, with a university setting for a large chunk of the story.

 

LKC: That sounds right up my alley.

KO: It involves shapeshifting dragons, centaur baristas, badass knife-wielding princesses, and Knights wearing neon that are kind of your average jocks. It’s glorious.

 

LKC: What do you hope readers take away from this book?

KO: That even if you fuck up beyond belief, keep pushing forward. Keep improving, and don’t give up. Anything is within your reach.

 

LKC: What do you want to say to young LGBT readers, maybe something that you didn’t hear?

KO: Your gender identity is valid. Your orientation is valid. It might change as you get older, and that’s OK. Don’t let anyone put you in a box. If you think a community is becoming toxic, get away from it as fast as you can. Find friends that will support and respect you.

 

Daybreak Rising is on sale for $1.99 this week.  Check it out!

Book Review: Hidden Huntress by Danielle L. Jensen

hidden huntress coverBeneath the mountain, the king’s reign of tyranny is absolute; the one troll with the capacity to challenge him is imprisoned for treason. Cécile has escaped the darkness of Trollus, but she learns all too quickly that she is not beyond the reach of the king’s power. Or his manipulation.

Recovered from her injuries, she now lives with her mother in Trianon and graces the opera stage every night. But by day she searches for the witch who has eluded the trolls for five hundred years. Whether she succeeds or fails, the costs to those she cares about will be high.

To find Anushka, she must delve into magic that is both dark and deadly. But the witch is a clever creature. And Cécile might not just be the hunter. She might also be the hunted…

Note: I “read” this novel via Audiobook on Audible (Pssshhhttt, I did it this way: Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks)

I couldn’t help but buy a credit to download Hidden Huntress as soon as I’d finished Stolen Songbird, because I had to know what was going to happen with Cecile, Tristan, and Trollus.

The narrative skips forward a few months, not really dwelling on Cecile’s time at her family farm or her healing, which is understandable considering the majority of that part of the story would just be her lying in bed.

We catch up with our heroine when she is the understudy to her mother in the opera, she’s reunited with her best friend, and has Chris to hang out with and talk about Tristan and the Trolls.  No one seems to question her unlikely story about being somewhere in the south, but she’s back and successful so who cares.

Hidden Huntress

Hidden Huntress Aesthetic

Not long into the narrative, Cecile is enticed back to the mouth of the River Road to Trollus where she makes a pretty terrible promise to the King of Trollus.  ***Promises made to Trolls gives them the power to influence you and almost torture you until your promise is kept*** Guess what it is: to find the witch Anushka and bring her to the trolls. Seems like it would be a rather daunting task…and it is.  The majority of the novel shows the different ways that Cecile has to risk her humanity in order to save the lives of those whom she loves under the mountain.

In a freakish display of power and to the surprise of the still living witch, Cecile manages to free a single troll from the limits of the curse, allowing him to travel to her in Trianon.  And thus was the reunion of Tristan and Cecile.  Much like Cecile mentions, their reunion is a bit lackluster due to Tristan being a bit hurt physically and emotionally from the implications of her “rescue.” However, they are reunited and are joined in their quest to find Anushka, if not to release the trolls, but to release Cecile from her promise to the King.

Random tangent about Tristan, readers will be pleased to know that this novel includes many more chapters from his point of view, so I think it is much easier to get to know him as a character in this novel.  You get to really understand his point of view on why he chose to keep certain secrets from Cecile, more about his past with his friends and in Trollus (so that way we hear it from HIM and not through him telling Cecile who then narrates it), and how his rescue from the curse affects him directly. I really think this added so much to the story and I really hope Warrior Witch continues to split the narrative duties in this way anushka tweetrather than it be dominated by Cecile.

There’s a lot of new characters introduced and we are finally given the opportunity to meet Cecile’s mother, who is just as sketchy and selfish as she appeared in the subtext of Stolen Songbird.  I mean, the reader is treated to a scene where Cecile is drugged by her mother and questioned…so yeah. (I’m also too lazy to type out Genevieve over and over, so she is either Ginny or Cecile’s Mother) She was so sketchy I just assumed she was in league with Anushka…which turned out to not be WRONG, per say, but I’d rather not say more so you can go read and discover for yourself!

I’ve already queued up Warrior Witch on my iPhone, so get hyped and pick up a copy of the Malediction trilogy!

4 Bards

fourbards

 

 

 


Follow
Get every new post delivered to your inbox!
Join our other followers!
Powered By WPFruits.com
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers