Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Teaser Tuesday

#TeaserTuesday #WMP #YA #Romance

Love Bites, Paranormal Romance Anthology


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Ten fabulous stories of paranormal romance by ten skilled authors, showing us that sometimes … Love Bites. Write More Publications New Adult Paranormal Romance Anthology, featuring these authors: Elaine White, Kim Stevens, Theresa Oliver, Dana Piazzi, Stephanie Parke, Vanessa Hancock, Ashlea Burns, Susan Burdorf, Becca Boucher, and Monica Blanton.

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Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Wonder of Harry Potter - Part 4

Guest Author: Elaine White
This article is by Elaine White. All opinions are her own.
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Book 4, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, was like a revolution for Harry Potter, in my opinion. Bringing in new characters and new wizard schools was a stroke of genius for J.K. Rowling. It brought new challenges for Harry, and again, like Book 3 (Prisoner of Azkaban), there wasn’t so much of He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named throughout the story. There were only small mentions and nowhere near the focus of Books 1 and 2 (Sorcerer’s Stone, Chamber of Secrets). 

The Goblet of Fire always breaks my heart. Someone Harry trusts and thinks is on his side, is out to hurt him. The one thing he doesn’t want to happen - the return of He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named - happens and he can’t stop it. Cedric, a guy Harry has come to like and appreciate, gets killed because he’s a ‘spare’. He doesn’t get the girl. His best friend hates him, even for a little time. Some mad woman of a reporter is spreading lies about him and he can’t be with the one parental figure he most wants to be with. The Goblet of Fire is the most heartbreaking, heart wrenching story in the Harry Potter series so far. And that’s what makes it so brilliant. Because life is not always fair, people die for no reason, when you don’t want them to. Things happen, beyond your control, and they ruin everything. The Goblet of Fire is definitely a book about growing up, becoming an adult and accepting that, in some things, there can’t be a happy ending. There are some things in life that you have to learn the hard way.

It's a journey of trusting yourself, trusting your gut, knowing who your friends are, trusting your friends, not letting petty grievances get in your way and overall - the importance of friendship. Without Harry's friendship with Ron, Hermione, Dobby, Hagrid, Sirius and Dumbledore, even Neville, he would surely never have survived his first year at Hogwarts, let alone the Twiwizard Tournament. I love that Harry Potter books give you a great read, some fun, some laughs, some tears and some pain, but while teaching you about life, yourself, and so much more.

Friday, September 25, 2015

How to: Effectively Advertise Your Book

Guest Author: Elaine White
This article is by Elaine White. All opinions are her own.
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So, you have your book written, submitted and signed to a publisher. That's all you need, right? At least, until it gets published. Wrong! Dead wrong!

Once you've been accepted to a publisher, and BEFORE, that's when the real work starts. It's okay if you're a careful person and you don't want to advertise yourself as an author until you have that first book published. It's okay if you've never let anyone else read your writing, until you submitted to a publisher for the first time.

But now that you're ready to release a book, you need to start putting yourself out there and building your brand. At first, you'll be all over the place, not sure how to label yourself, not sure what your 'theme' or 'style' will be. That's okay, too. You'll figure it out along the way. We all do.

No matter how many times you've been knocked back before, you've made it now. Take a minute, take a deep breath and a sigh of relief. Now, get to work.

First off, you NEED an author page on Facebook. This is non-negotiable. I know, you might think that you're way better acquainted with Twitter or Google+, but Facebook is one of those invaluable resources for authors. If you're not on it, you're missing out.

Before we get started on what to do, let's look at how to do it best. For that, you'll need to read our other post 'Author Legalese'. Knowing the legal ins and outs of how to promote yourself is VITAL. Trust me, I've seen many, many authors ignore and even publicly violate the rules about using Celebrities to promote your work (a big DON'T) and ignoring the fact that having a unique backdrop/logo or model to promote your work can be what puts you on the map. (Done legally, this is a major DO.)

Now that you're read that, let's get onto the fun part. How to do it.

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Keep your Facebook page exciting. You can use Facebook's scheduling feature to make sure that there's always something posting on your page, whether you're going to be online or not. I generally schedule months ahead, so that I don't have to worry about it for a while. I will add updates, when someone exciting/important happens, but I keep a note of when my 'scheduled' posts run out and spend 1 day preparing a few more months of coverage.

Another thing you'll need is a profile picture. You can use a picture of yourself, as it's your page, but make it professional. Don't use a holiday snap, a personal family photo or something you shot in bad lighting in your house. It doesn't look professional. You don't have to get paid photographs taken, though that's a bonus that's well worth the money. You can take a decent author photo at home, with your camera or phone, as long as you don't have personal things in the background and the quality is good. Something simple will work just fine.

Also, you'll need a cover photo. There are some great options available on Facebook, with these apps. These are fine, if you want to do something generic, but it's better if you can make it personal to you, your brand and your books. Still, here are the ones on Facebook:

Top Cover Photos

Cover Photos

Profile Cover Photos

Facebook Cover Photos

If you want to make something personal to you (Highly Recommended!) then try using one of these sites, that are really easy to use and you can personalise them with your own photos. You might need to use some of the sites/methods explained below (in the Teaser Poster section).

PageModo

Pixteller

PicMonkey

The Pixteller link will take you straight to the Facebook Cover page, as will PageModo. However, on PicMonkey, if you hover over 'design' then it will show options for blank pages and one is Facebook Cover. You want that, because it's specifically designed to the right height and width.

Go have fun. Explore. Try out looks, effects, fonts and designs. Then, once you have one you like, make it your Facebook Cover photo. I change mine every few months, depending on what's going on in my life and writing world. Sometimes, if there's a really big event that relates to my writing, then I'll make a special banner. If I have a new release, I might change my banner to reflect that and build anticipation. Mostly, I keep a general one. Here's an example of my most recent one:


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You'll need a kick-ass cover, but unless you're self-publishing, then your publisher should have a cover artist/designer who will deal with this. But, fear not. If you're doing this all by yourself, then here's a few awesome cover artists that do beautiful, one-of-a-kind covers at reasonable prices:











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So, you have your cover, now you need to read through your entire book and pick out AT LEAST 15-20 quotes. Why? Because you need to make book teasers. Why do you need so many? Because you need them for Tuesday Teasers on your Facebook Author page, you need them for your release party and you need them for advertising, once your book is released. You can keep using the same teaser for a while, but you really want a change. The more you have to choose from, the more you can rotate them and use them for longer. If you use each teaser once, in turn, then you can go back and start from the beginning and use them 4-5 times, without people getting bored. Plus, the more teasers you use as advertising, the more sneak peeks into the book you're giving and the more people will read parts of the book that will make them want to buy it.

Making a teaser is simple, once you know how.

First off, where do you find an image? Well, here are a bunch of websites where you can find great images for free, that are totally legal to use on your teaser posters:






Pixteller

Here are some examples of images found on these sites:


And here are some stock sites, if you want to buy your images. Some, like iStock and Fotolia even take PayPal which is awesome:





Dollar Photo Club

Here's an example of some bought photos from Fotolia and Shutterstock:


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To make your poster, choose one of these sites, to manipulate your picture with effects, font and layers, to make it more individual:






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You can use the same techniques and websites mentioned above to make an author logo. This is a great alternative, if you don't want to use a personal picture as your Facebook profile pic. Something snazzy, cutesy, sexy or just simple. It's all up to you and your brand. Here's mine:


Why is it so big, when you only need a square? Because I can use it as a poster or crop it to suit my needs. Sometimes I keep the 'Elaine White, Author' part and sometimes I cut it out. It all depends.

I've also made logo's for each of my books. You can put it on every poster or just a few, but it brands your book, posters and makes the poster instantly recognisable.:



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Then you're ready to share! When sharing your poster in a Facebook group, you want to give people the most information, in the fewest words possible. People don't want to spend forever reading a really long excerpt that's in paragraph form, but they are more likely to read a longer extract on a poster, if it's well presented, easy to read and pretty.

So, add your text to your poster, play around with the look and then add something like this to the text part of the comment:

Tags
Book Title, by Author Name
Tagline
Buy Link / Coming Soon
from Publisher (optional)

That's all you'll need to get your point across. It's simple, looks good and depending on the length of your link, title or tagline, it should fit on Twitter too. For tags, try things related to your book, plus use #TeaserTuesday, #SharingSunday, #SexySunday or #TBT (Throwback Thursday, which is best for older books)

Example:

#TeaserTuesday #Contemporary #Romance #SimplySexyReads

Courage in the Kiss, by Elaine White
Just how much can one girl take?


Coming Soon from Simply Sexy Reads


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Where to share it? Try Hootsuite, which can link up your Twitter, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn and more to one account. It's free and it will allow you to post the same message to all sites or arrange where you want to share it and when. You can schedule for months ahead, as well as shorten links, with their button, and add posters.

Other than Hootsuite, these are your options for shortening your buy link, which can come in really handy, especially for long Amazon links :

Authl.it

SmartURL

Bitly

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Now that you have that sorted, you're ready to roll with making more posters. What comes next? Well, you'll need to keep blasting that book until release.

Another way to share your work is with Thunderclap. This is really big right now, but it's tricky. You might not get it right the first time around. I didn't.

Basically, what you do is you set up a page for your book, with the buy link (a general Amazon page, if you have an existing one, or link to your FB, Twitter or website. Wherever you'll be posting the buy link, as soon as the book is live.) You'll also need a photo, but Thunderclap images are different from FB, you might have to play around with a few options, until you get it right. This is the size it will need to be. Keep it simple - like your FB cover or a teaser poster.

If you're super techie, unlike me, this is the photo requirements - 600 x 280px

If not, play around and you'll get there eventually. ;)

What is Thunderclap? Well, once you've made your page, you'll have a goal of reaching 100 supporters. You set the time and, if it's your first go, I recommend giving yourself around a month. It can be tricky to get supporters, if you don't know where to look. Which, you will, because I'm going to tell you.

Stick to the 100 and don't get over ambitious. 100 supporters is also free. How do you get those supporters? You ask for them. You'll get a link, as soon as your Thunderclap is approved and you can share that on FB, Twitter and any other site you want to. There are also groups in Facebook that are specifically for sharing your link and supporting others, who will then support you.

ThunderClap Campaigns is a closed group, but the support is awesome.

Want to know more? Check out their FAQ's.

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Now, you're on your way. About a month before your release, either you or your publisher will post your book on Goodreads. This is super easy, if you have to do it yourself. Search for your book title and in the search results, top right corner, you'll see 'Manually Add Book'. That's what you want. You can't see it unless you search first, so this is a must.

Here, you can add your book cover, title, author name etc. Make sure you use the right name! If you already exist on Goodreads, in their author program, then you want to make sure the book is added to your profile and not someone else's. Mine, on Goodreads, has two spaces between my first and last name, because there's already someone with the name Elaine White. So to make sure my book appears on my profile, I have to put those two spaces in, when I create my book page.

If yo're adding a book to an existing series, then this gets a little bit complicated. Somehow, with one of my books, I managed it without really knowing how. But, the protocol is to create your book page first, then go into the first book in the series, click the series link (generally at the side of the title, where it says Series Name One). There, all the previous books in the series will appear and there will be a small 'edit' at the top left hand corner. Click that and you should be able to add your new book to the series.

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Another great thing to have is a book trailer. These are really easy to make, again, if you know how. You should have Windows Movie Maker on your computer/laptop and this can be a really great, cheap, easy option to use. All you have to do is add photos and music. You can use the free or paid options for book teaser pictures, to get images, and use the same websites (pixteller, picmonkey etc) to add text, if you don't want to use the Movie Maker's caption option.

Sometimes adding the text to your image can be easier and you can use different fonts and directions. Just do this the way you do teaser posters and then add the poster/text and picture to your video the way you'd add a normal image.

Music is added the same way. Please, for goodness sake, DO NOT choose any old music from your iTunes or online. Music legality is the same as images. You can only use music that is available for legal use. DO NOT use your favourite band or any Top 40, popular music or anything that you've downloaded for iTunes, even if you paid for it. ONLY use music that can be used for commercial use.

To find valid music, try these sites and always read the legal usage rights, in case any of them have changed since writing this:

Incompetech

LinoRise

Partners in Rhyme

Free Video Footage

Taylor Hayward

Royalty Free Music

Marmoset Music

YouTube Audio Library

Always remember to add the name of the song and artist to your Credits, as well as making clear where you got your images (bought or free) and add a website link, if you're still not sure about how well you've credited things.

Book Trailers are great for adding to websites, sharing on Facebook and linking to your book on Goodreads. There are so many applications and it's always a great selling point. You can use quotes from your book in the trailer, or just tell the story in a mysterious, intriguing way that will make people want to read your book.

It's also an alternative to long passages, in the same way your teaser posters are. People will sit and watch a video, more often than they will sit and read a passage that is almost 6 paragraphs long. It looks daunting, while a video of less than 2 mins tends to make people think. "Oh, this won't take long. let's see what it's like." Even if your passage will take the same amount of time, visual stimulation is a powerful tool for authors, so use it every time you can.

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Next? Swag. Swag is so important. You'll need it for giveaways, your release party and any random competition you do throughout your career. Have some stuff that is just general. So if you're a romance author, have some sexy/romance stuff. If you write a book about a rock star, having some guitar/singer/rock related items. Have an equal amount of general and book specific items. That way, if a last minute event crops up or someone wins a prize, you've always got something kicking around. I keep a box of jewellery, bookmarks, business cards, pens etc always hanging around, in case I need them. Oh, and have a few personalised things. Put your book cover or logo on pens/bookmarks etc and people will love them!

Good places to buy these things are:

Amazon

Etsy

Zazzle

Vistaprint

Overnight Prints

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What's next? Well, with your book published, all your promo taken care of and your book live on Amazon and Goodreads, you're ready to rake in those reviews. The first key to getting reviews is to give copies away for free. Yes, Free! I know it seems counter-productive, since the entire point is to sell more books. But, reviews sell books.

The more reviews you have, the more people will see and notice your book. Ergo, the more books you sell. The best way to utilise this process is to get coverage on Book Blogs and Review Blogs. If you do that, you'll get your book noticed by all the readers on those blogs.

Not sure where to start? Try this book blogs:

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Here are some review blogs that are generally great for accepting all genres and responding quickly:
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Looking for more Author Resources? Check out my blog for:

How to Make A 3D Cover

Places to Buy Swag

Places to Find Images

Where to Find Music

Where to Find Videos

How to Fake a Facebook Profile for Your Character

How to Make Wattpad Work For You

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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Book Review: The Chronicles of the Secret Prince

Guest Author: Elaine White
This article is by Elaine White. All opinions are her own.
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Book 1: Before the Full Moon Rises

before
Book – Before the Full Moon Rises
Author – MJ Bell
Star rating - ★★★★
Plot – good kid's story
Characters – interesting and relateable
Movie Potential - ★★★☆☆ (not sure how they'd do it. It would be very intricate)
Ease of reading – very easy to read
Cover - 
Suitable Title - 
Would I read it again – Not sure.
** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK, BY THE AUTHOR, IN RETURN FOR AN HONEST REVIEW **
Plot
I'm on the fence about this one and I can't explain why. I'm somewhere between a 3.5 and a 4 star, but I've rounded up to the 4 because I think kids (between 10 and 15) will love it.
My main issue is that there are a lot of formatting issues with my copy. I'm not sure if every copy will be this way or if I've got an Arc, but every so often there is a chapter that is mis-formatted. Each paragraph (even when only one line) takes up an entire page so that one chapter takes forever to get through. It also broke up the ease of reading somewhat, but I do understand this isn't the author's fault. It could easily be a glitch that went unnoticed because it didn't appear until a few chapters in. But once it happened, it was probably that case in about 4 or 5 chapters.
There were a few spelling and grammar issues in the very beginning, but after the first three chapters, these fizzled out.
The fantasy aspect of the plot was good. There were a lot of creatures – Fae, bats, wolves, ogres – that kids will look for and love in a fantasy novel. They all play their part and some of them will be important in the following books.
There is a very small romance aspect to the book, but it's enough for kids of 14 and enough to sprinkle on top of the action/adventure aspect that dominates the book.
Another issue I have, that risked dropping this to a 3.5 star, is that the story takes forever to get into the good stuff. It took 50% of the book to build up to the big reveal and it was kind of anti-climactic for me. I don't think most of the first half of the book was really necessary, unless it becomes important to the next two books. At the moment, it feels like the first half is filler to make the book a novel. I would have been happy without about two quarters of this book, and I would probably just have made it one novel.
Characters
I really like Deston; he's such a real character, nosy, inquisitive and a typical 14-year-old boy. He'd hell bent, during the entire book, on going home and finding his mother. The way he fights and trusts his instincts is rare, but makes for good reading.
I liked the sense of connection that Deston had with his best friend, at the start of the book. I wish the best friend would have had a bigger part in the story, like Margaux's part, but I hope he comes in during the next two books.
I have to admit though that Margaux is one of the reasons I was on the fence about this book. Yes, she's a strong female character, but she often comes across as rude, sarcastic and very vain. I find her very self-involved and self-opinionated. She often loses track of the bigger picture – saving Joliet – and focuses more on herself and how she's feeling and what she wants.
She takes offence to every little thing Deston says, in the beginning, though he always apologises and it's clear that he didn't mean it maliciously. She doubts him all the time, fights him at every turn, yet she cries at a lot of the things they go through. I find her a very confused character. It feels like the author couldn't decide whether to make her the 'strong' female and stick with it, or whether to make her the weak and fragile female so often in books. Only so much can be blamed on her age. I would have liked to see her more like Hermione from HP, which she started out as, but that didn't happen.
Sadly, Joliet, Deston's mother was the same. The whole book she sounds like this adventurous, kick-butt woman, who knows what she wants and goes after it. But when we finally get to see her, she's like Margaux
Overall
I noticed a lot of influences from other fantasy books/movies in this one, though again it could just be me. There were hints of Stargate, Avatar, LOTR, Labyrinth and Harry Potter. They're small links, but I see them quite clearly.
All the females in the book are the same – when they're not in the book they're spoken about as if they're strong, powerful women, but they cry easily and fall apart at the smallest thing. It just doesn't feel right. The boys, however, are well balanced. They're not too macho, they make mistakes and accept it, they're open to emotion. It feels like more attention went into the male characters than the females, but that might just be how I read it.
There are two more books to go, but I'm not sure what is going to happen, because I don't really see the need for more. The story is done, except for an epilogue that will no doubt lead into book 2. Unfortunately, it wasn't as big of a plot twist as it should have been, because I saw it coming. That, unfortunately, is true of most of the book. The really big stuff wasn't a surprise to me, because I'd already anticipated it. Not sure if I was supposed to, or if they were supposed to be a shock, but I think they probably would be a surprise for a lot of kids.
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Book 2: Once Upon A Darker Time

once
Book – Once Upon A Darker Time
Author – MJ Bell
Star rating - ★★★★
Plot – good kid's story
Characters – interesting and relateable
Movie Potential - ★★★☆☆ (same as 1)
Ease of reading – very easy to read
Cover - 
Suitable Title - 
Would I read it again – Not sure.
** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK, BY THE AUTHOR, IN RETURN FOR AN HONEST REVIEW **
Plot
This book moves at a much faster pace than book 1, because there's no need to introduce the characters or their circumstances. However, I do think that there are far too many 'incidences' and 'close calls' in this book. It feels like something dramatic is happening every chapter and it's a little exhausting for me – I can't imagine how exhausted the characters must be. To be realistic – Fae or not – they need a rest every once in a while.
I also think there are most spelling/grammar mistakes in this one, which I can overlook. I can't, however, overlook the continuity issues at the beginning of the book. Example:
Four months had passed in the lower realm since the battle” - Yet, just later in the same paragraph it says “He'd performed this same task every day for months”. But as I understood it from book 1, “Each day here is equivalent to approximately four months in our realm, give or take a few weeks.” As I calculate it, it should be either 9 years or 9 months, depending on how the author uses the calculation.
Then again, later on, it says “Three weeks' time in the high realm that is, but in the lower realm it had been over seven years since his arrival.” That doesn't fit the time line either. Unless I'm misunderstanding the equation here. And I got really confused by this point. Why is Deston claiming he's only been in Tir-na-nÓg for 3 weeks, when Grossard has been in it for 4 months? That makes no sense.
Then, we find out that it's even more confusing.
Deston kept talking about why NiNi left Tir-na-nÓg. Yet, as far as we know, she'd never left. It's only LATER....and I mean about a chapter and a half later, that we discover this -
When Oseron and Joliet came to her shortly thereafter to take her to Tir-na-nÓg, she confessed what she'd done and told them her fears.” This would have been nice to know before the whole confusion of not knowing where she'd gone, why or how we didn't know about it.
Also, a niggle I noticed and overlooked in book 1 has cropped up again so I feel it's worth mentioning. There is a constant shift between present and future tense, outside of the dialogue that really jars the reading. Example:
the day he'd been waiting for his entire life will finally be within his grasp.” It may seem small, but when it's constant, it becomes frustrating and confusing.
Characters
The characters are mostly the same. There's an addition of Tiff, which is kind of comical but a little pathetic at times. Deston has grown stronger, but progressing nicely through all the right stages of grief, disbelief and doubt, that are typical of a 14-year-old. Zumwald is as quirky and interesting as ever.
Again, all the 'big reveal' moments and surprises were a little predictable, so I didn't see many surprises in the book at all.
I don't like the weird feud story between Lilika and Keir. It doesn't feel relevant, it has no bearing on Deston's journey and feels like a filler for time and an attempt to garner a connection with the characters. It didn't happen. I liked both characters in book 1, UNTIL they became a couple. Lilika became a little like Margaux – pathetic, sappy and scatter-brained because of a man, while Keir got kind of crazy, dominant and overbearing, which wasn't nice to read, because he'd been such a nice guy, before. Again, I feel this was an attempt at romance that didn't quite come through for me. But maybe I'm alone in that, who knows.
The romance between Deston and Margaux picked up and did work. The hesitations, the realistic uncertainties, the way we see into both their minds and see that they each doubt themselves and think the worst – they're all great additions to the tension.
I don't, however, like how Margaux has never once spared a thought for the parents she left behind in the Lower Realm. She doesn't mention them, she doesn't think about them and it's like Mark from book 1 – he disappeared off the planet. Yet they raised her and took care of her, but still no mention.
The inclusion of Mark – for a whole five seconds – also didn't sit well with me. I get that it was weird and awkward when Deston met him again, never having aged a day, while Mark was seven years older (apparently). But he was his best friend and it's only been a few months since Deston saw him. I expected a hug or a fist bump at least.
Overall
This one was a definite 4 for me. I had no hesitations over giving it that mark, but there are some issues that I'd like to see dealt with, if this were ever to be re-edited. I think you can still enjoy the story as it is, but it would be a lot better without these niggles. Personally, I think all these books need are a few beta readers to go through them, before publication. They, as readers, would notice things the author might have missed during the editing stage.
My biggest problem with this book is that it's not a book. To me, a book – even when it's part of a series – has a beginning, middle and end. Not here. Book 1 was well rounded, in that it had a really solid ending, while leading you into another book. This doesn't have that. There is no nice clean ending, while knowing there's more to come. It stops abruptly, with a lot of questions unanswered – also something book 1 didn't do.
There is no mention of when book 3 will be available, at the end of the book. There is also no hint of it on Amazon, which is kind of annoying. If this had ended like book 1, I wouldn't see a problem. But because we're left in limbo, the wait is going to be frustrating and I'm probably going to lose touch with what happened at the end of this book, by the time it comes out. I hate that.
Overall, the story was good, but could be better. The plot was full to the brim with too much information and too many action scenes, though I guess kids might love that aspect. Mainly, I read this book most looking forward to Deston's journey. He's all I care about in this series, though I have a fondness for Rellick and Oseron. I did have a fondness for Keir and Lilika until they became snot-nosed kids, trying to battle everything out, that could easily have been talked over with some sense.
Saying that, I think teens will eat this series up and overlook the small problems I've pointed out. A good fantasy story with lots of action, a little romance and lots of confusion...