Friday, 28 December 2012

2012 in Review: Looking Back


It's the last Friday of the year, which means it's time to round up my week-long "2012 in Review" series of posts. A quick recap for those just joining in. On Monday, I revealed my favorite books for the year. On Tuesday, it was favorite songs. On Wednesday, favorite albums. And yesterday, I short listed my favorite movies. Today, I'll be looking back at the year as a whole.


Okay, so the fact that you're over there reading this means the world didn't end on the 21st of December after all. Or maybe it did, and everyone just got left behind or something. Either way, it is clear that those Mayans made pretty shoddy calendars. I bet there must be thousands of disappointed survivalists right now, wondering what to do with that lifetime's supply of tuna. Take heart, my friends, I'm pretty certain a new end of the world date would be predicted soon enough. And to those of us still happy to have civilization soldiering on, enjoy it while it lasts.


The biggest event that (actually) took place this past year was of course the London 2012 Olympic Games. The British media had been going on about it for the last eight years, and for that reason I'm quite glad the whole thing is done and over with. I never actually watched any of the games, due in part to my dislike of television and my indifference towards sports. But I was just as excited to watch the opening and closing ceremonies as everyone else. Danny Boyle really went all the way to create the grandest opening yet, and the closing ceremony reminded us just how awesome British music has been over the years.


I remember setting some major writerly goals at the start of the year. 2012 was to be the year that I embraced the possibility of becoming a full-time writer. So I decided to complete my epic fantasy series, Guardians & The Lost Paradise, and to self-publish it on Amazon and other online retailers. After taking part in a Kindleboards writing challenge in February, running a month-long crowdfunding campaign in June, and serializing the individual books in the series between July and December, I am pleased to announce the realization of those goals. It's amazing what you can achieve once you set your mind to it.

It's been a fun, wild and eventful week (and year at large). I look forward to doing this again next year. For now, thanks for being a part of the madness, and see you again on the other side.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

2012 in Review: Favorite Movies


Marvel's The Avengers



The year is practically over, so I guess its official that Marvel's The Avengers is the highest grossing movie for 2012. But I'm sure you already knew that. Which is only fair, considering how highly anticipated the movie was. But I always knew it had little hope of surpassing the records set by Avatar and Titanic, not with such stiff competition. The thing I like the most about Avengers is its lighthearted and comical nature, because truth be told, the story wasn't any more complex than the likes of Transformers. These aren't shortcomings, but rather limitations imposed by the movies' source materials. The fact that he was able to circumvent those limitations and create a film that pleased fans and critics alike is a testament to Joss Whedon's magical touch. Michael Bay take note: when you spend the climax of an entire movie (Transformers) showing a city getting blown up due to a fight between giant robots, the sequel (Transformers 2) needs to acknowledge that the event took place. That was one thing that was handled very well in The Avengers. The aftermath.

The Dark Knight Rises



The last movie in Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy might not be the best, but there is no denying that it was a movie that exceeded all expectations. The acting was superb, as should be expected; Michael Caine needs to be considered for a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award next year. Then again, we've always known he was brilliant, haven't we? Tom Hardy on the other hand gave one of his best performances, showing us a darker side that was barely glimpsed in Warrior. At almost 3 hours in length, the movie is the lengthiest Batman till date. But what I've always loved about Christopher Nolan movies is getting to watch all the clues and seemingly disconnected scenes slowly coming together at the end of everything. The only thing missing in this case is the Joker. A brief appearance or even a slight reference might have solved the problem. But as things stand, it was very hard for me to imagine that level of chaos taking place in Gotham without the Joker having any part to play in it.

Prometheus

 


I might have broken some sort of record by watching this movie too many times to count. Most of those viewings were spent trying to decipher the point behind the movies plot. But the good thing about movies like this is that everything doesn't necessarily need to add up. At least not immediately. Isn't that what sequels are for? So, right around my eleventh viewing, I decided to stop looking for what was clearly not there, and focus instead on those aspects that I really enjoyed. First off, the visuals are nothing short of breathtaking, and the movie is worth experiencing for that alone. Then Michael Fassbender gave a simultaneously chilling and heartfelt performance as the team's resident android. Lastly, the infamous alien child birth scene has quite possibly set a new standard for realistic blood and gore. For a movie that tries to tackle a question as staggering as the origin of life on Earth, I think it did okay. Sorta.

The Hunger Games



I confess, my first viewing of The Hunger Games didn't exactly leave me impressed, so I can totally empathize with those that felt it was dull and over-hyped. But once you get over the fact that the movie wasn't made in the style of the typical blockbuster, you'll see that there's much to love about the movie's direction. For example, I love the movies gritty look and feel, reminiscent of Alfonso Cuaron's Children of Men. We aren't constantly bombarded with unnecessary special effects, just because its a science fiction movie and such things come with the territory, once again like the typical blockbuster. Then Jennifer Laurence did a decent job portraying Katniss Everdeen. All in all, a solid start to a promising new series, though I am still rather baffled by the studio's decision to split their adaptation of the final book into two movies, considering the fact that the three books are roughly the same length.

John Carter



Watching John Carter left me wondering one thing: what went wrong? I mean, here is a pretty decent science-fiction movie that should have kickstarted a new franchise that could rival the likes of Star Wars. I was really rooting for it too, mainly because it marked Andrew Stanton's first foray into directing live-action. Analysts blame the movie's poor performance at the box office on the studio's failure to market the film properly. But I feel moviegoers simply assumed the movie was going to be highly derivative and stayed away as a result. While I am not familiar with the source material, I was still very much impressed with the story, and the visuals really brought that story to life. It's the sort of series that can only get better from the first movie onward. Shame we might never see the sequel that it truly deserves. Oh well.

And the winner is

The Dark Knight Rises



While many consider Marvel's The Avengers to be the ultimate superhero movie (for now), I think that honor should actually go to The Dark Knight Rises, when considered in the context of the overall story told in Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy. It ends with a sense of closure lacking in most superhero movies today. I understand that the movie makers need to keep the doors open for potential sequels, but it would be nice if they at least tried to resolve all ongoing story arcs before moving on or rebooting the franchise! I feel sorry for whoever it is that would have to take up the task of rebooting Batman though. The bar has been raised so high now that anything short of brilliant would most likely be laughed at. The safest bet would be to tackle the story from a totally different angle, though I haven't got the faintest clue what that angle might be.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

2012 in Review: Favorite Albums

fun. - Some Nights



Being a fan of so many different musical genres, there is nothing I love more than when two seemingly disparate genres are fused together to create something fresh. But very rarely is that fusion handle as well as on Some Nights, the second full-length album by the indie rock band, fun. Their decision to go with a hip-hop producer (Jeff Bhasker) has effectively shaped and helped realize one of the year's best albums. Highlights include Some Nights, We Are Young, Carry On and All Alright.

Imagine Dragons - Night Visions



Another pairing between an indie rock band and a hip-hop producer. This time around, its the Nevada-based Imagine Dragons and the English producer Alex Da Kid, who come together to build upon the success of their Continued Silence EP, a record that originally spawned their current hits, Radioactive and It's Time. Other highlights include On Top of the World, Amsterdam, Underdog and Nothing Left to Say/Rocks.

Zedd - Clarity


By and large, this is the most impressive debut by an EDM artist I've heard. The German producer, Zedd, came to fame due to his remix of Lady Gaga's Marry The Night, a song that had one of the meanest rubber duck basslines ever. With Clarity, Zedd has shown the world that he indeed has other tricks up his sleeve. Why he wasn't given a Grammy nomination for Best Electronic/Dance Album is anybody's guess, but that does not change the fact that Clarity is one of the year's finest EDM offerings. Highlights include Spectrum, Lost At Sea, Fall Into The Sky and Follow You Down.

Usher - Looking 4 Myself




I lost my taste for straight-up R&B some time ago, which might explain why I wasn't too excited or impressed by Usher's previous album, Raymond V Raymond. But with Looking 4 Myself, Usher has not only pushed the boundaries of the R&B genre, he has also ended up with quite possibly his most praise-worthy album till date. Nothing can ever take away the feeling of wonder I felt the first time I heard the title track, a song that is as far away from straight-up R&B as you can get, without losing any of the genre's soul and groove. Highlights include Climax, Lemme See, Looking 4 Myself and Numb.

No Doubt - Push and Shove




It's hard to believe that it's been 9 years since No Doubt's 2003 greatest hits album (The Singles 1992-2003). Maybe it's because we've been blessed with two Gwen Stefani solo albums between then and now. Either way, their latest release sounds just as good as the older stuff, and its nice to see a band that isn't trying to conform to the current electro pop craze. Highlights include Looking Hot, Push and Shove, Undercover, Sparkle and Heaven.

Madonna - MDNA



The queen of pop is back, and its a testament to her versatility that she is still relevant in the music industry after nearly 30 years. After the more urban sound of her previous album, Hard Candy, MDNA marks a return to the familiar dance-pop oriented sound of her 2005 album. She hooks up with past collaborators, Stuart Price and William Orbit, and current-generation hit makers like Benny Benassi and Martin Solveig, and together they've been able to produce a worthy successor to Confessions on the Dance Floor. Highlights include I'm Addicted, Love Spent and Masterpiece.

Robbie Williams - Take the Crown



It is no secret that British singer, Robbie Williams, is my favorite male recording artist. And if it was, well, now you know. Taking a step back from the more electronic sound of his recent efforts (including his infamous 2006 album, Rudebox), he has decided to craft an album composed solely of pop/rock hit material. The fact that he has finally scored (with lead single, Candy) his first UK number one single since 2004's Radio means he must be on the right track. Highlights include Be A Boy, Candy and Not Like The Others

Ke$ha - Warrior



A rather late entry in a year of great music, but one that is very much worthy of inclusion. Ke$ha introduced the world to her electro pop, heavily-autotuned (not to mention highly-addictive) madness in her debut album, Animal, and its follow-up EP, Cannibal. With Warrior, she tries to prove that she isn't a one trick pony. She even dropped her usual autotuned vocals for a couple of choice songs, making it apparent that she sings with a bit of a country drawl. She drew inspiration from genres like old school rock 'n roll and country, and the way they've been infused into her music is nothing short of amazing. Highlights include Die Young, Crazy Kids, Wherever You Are and Supernatural.

deadmau5 - > album title goes here <



A definite forerunner for next year's Best Electronic/Dance Album Grammy Award, especially after losing the same award to Skrillex's Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites this past year. deadmau5 is an artist that never ceases to amaze me, and his latest album is chuck full of moments of Progressive House glory. While probably not his best since the superb Random Album Title, > Album Title Goes Here < is an album that packs more highs than lows. Highlights include Channel 42, The Veldt and Professional Griefers.

Bruno Mars - Unorthodox Jukebox



One of the year's most eagerly awaited albums manages to sneak into my list of favorites following its December release. And already it is apparent that Bruno Mars has cut another record just teeming with future hits. It was fun watching his previous album (Doo wops and Hooligans) churn out hit song after hit song, and I am fairly confident that Unorthodox Jukebox is prime to follow suit. Highlights include Locked Out Of Heaven, Gorilla, Treasure and Natalie.

And the winner is...

fun. - Some Nights



While I had somehow managed to not crown the lead single, We Are Young, as my favorite song for 2012 yesterday, there is no denying that the complete set deserves today's top honor. After all, it is the only one on my short list of favorites that is also vying for an Album of the Year Grammy next year. It has some fierce competition though, from the likes of The Black Key's El Camino and Mumford & Sons' Babel. But you never know with these things, so I'll be rooting for the underdog once again. Hopefully I won't be disappointed a second year in a row.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

2012 in Review: Favorite Songs

fun. - We Are Young

 


When the Grammy nominations were announced some days back, I was very much excited to learn that fun. had scored a total of six nominations. These include Record of the Year and Song of the Year nominations for their breakout hit single, We Are Young. There's something very special about Nate Reuss, lead singer of the band. He has a vocal style that is reminiscent of Queen's Freddy Mercury, but one that is still very unique when compared with today's crop of lead singers from other bands. And together with his bandmates, he was able to deliver one of the most anthemic songs of the year, a song about the inevitable ups and downs of a relationship (and of course the splendor of youth). We Are Young is a song that takes a few listens to fully appreciate, with its abrupt beat changes and its oddball fusion of hip-hop and indie rock. But it is these very things that give it its lasting appeal, and sets it apart.

Carly Rae Jepsen - Call Me Maybe

 


From the first time I heard Carly Rae Jepsen's Call Me Maybe, during its early days of relative obscurity, I knew it was going to be a hit. Although I had no idea just how big a smash hit it was going to be. A quick trip to wikipedia puts the current tally at over 10 millions legal downloads, making it "one of the best-selling digital singles of all time." Arguably the ultimate sing-along song of 2012, Miss Jepsen has had one of the best debuts by a pop singer in recent years. My only concern for her though is would she be able to break away from the bubblegum pop image and carve a true identity for herself, the same way past chart toppers like Katy Perry, Lady Gaga and Ke$ha have been able to do. Only time would tell I guess.

M83 - Midnight City

 


I have been listening to music since before I was born (I was named after the King of Pop after all). Today, I take much pride in my massive collection of songs and albums, amassed over the course of many years. In all that time, I've grown to love everything from EDM to classic rock 'n roll, and even folk and country. And just when I thought I'd heard all that music had to offer, a song from a little-known French electronic band comes out of the woodwork to prove me wrong. That band is M83, and their song, Midnight City, is quite possibly the greatest song of all time. Okay, those of you who've known me long enough would know that I tend to say things like that all the time. But put simply, if pure awesomeness was a song, this would be it.

Toya Delazy - Love is in the Air

 


The current queen of the South African music scene was one of the few new artist to strike a chord with me this past year. And the song that catapaulted her towards superstardom was the electro pop hit, Love is in the Air. It is one of those few songs that I never get tired of listening to. It is also helped by a rather creative music video, most of which was spent showing her ascending a stairwell over and over again, with somewhat magical results. What I love most about her music is her unique blend of Pop, Jazz, R&B and EDM. Much like Bruno Mars, she is an artist whose music cannot be shoehorned into one particular genre, due to the wideness of her influences.

Good Music - Mercy

 


I'm a firm advocate of minimalism. That is, I always appreciate works of art where the artist takes a minimalistic approach in creating something that is deceptively simple but ultimately complex. Big Sean, Pusha T, Kanye West and 2 Chainz (known collectively as Good Music) have somehow managed to create such a song, with its simple instrumental, nonsensical lyrics (an entire song that is literally centered around getting a hand job from a rival's girlfriend - in a Lamborghini Murcielago nonetheless), and basic black-and-white video. It is a song that rewards mulitple listens, each one revealing hidden layers of complexity and brilliance, and it's no surprise that it has earned the quartet a Best Rap Song nomination at next year's Grammy Awards.

Psy - Gangnam Style

 


And just like last year, when I had to sneak in a sixth finalist in my list of favorites (LMFAO's Party Rock Anthem), I am rounding up this year's list with another viral hit. Youtube's most watched music video of all time also happens to be one of the best music videos of 2012. Very few songs have been able to transcend language and cultural barriers as well as Psy's Gangnam Style. The last song that comes to mind is Los Del Rio's Macarena. And just like Macarena, there's a lot to love about Psy's song and video, like its outrageous dance moves and over-the-top depiction of bright colors. It is clear that the stars have aligned for the South Korean rapper, and I hope he'll be able to follow up the success of Gangnam Style with more hits in the months/years to come.

And the winner is...


M83 - Midnight City

 


This year's choice has proven more difficult than last year's winner (Foster the People's Pumped Up Kicks). Every single one of my picks would have been worthy of being crowned favorite for 2012. I was especially leaning towards fun. this year, and if it had been any other year, We Are Young would've taken the crown. But if we're talking raw numbers (play counts), emotions and sheer excitement, then M83 comes out on top. Midnight City is the closest thing to sonic perfection I have heard (pretty big claim, I know), a song that couldn't possibly be improved upon in any way or manner. From its barely discernable vocals, to its pulsating bassline and synths, to the sweetness of the saxophone solo (can we ever have too many of those?) that kicks in at the climax, not to mention one of the best videos I've seen in years, Midnight City is a song that redefines the word, awesome.

P.S: Merry Christmas everyone.

Monday, 24 December 2012

2012 in Review: Favorite Books

11/22/63

 

The very first book I read in 2012 also happened to be my first ever Stephen King novel, not counting my feeble attempts to read Cujo when I was eight (didn't quite make it past the first two pages). I've never considered  myself a fan of horror, despite being a fan of Thomas Harris (or more aptly his character, Hannibal Lecter), which explains why I'd avoided Stephen King books like the plague. That is until I found out that he also wrote in my favorite genre, science fiction. 11/22/63 is just such a book, an 800-page monster of a novel that tells the story of a man who travels back in time to stop the assassination of U.S. president, John F. Kennedy, in a bid to better the future. It also has elements of historical fiction and alternate history, and should appeal to fans of those genres.

The Rise of Nine

 

The third book of the I am Number Four series continues the adventures of the six remaining Gardes from Lorien as they develop their legacies in preparation for an inevitable showdown with the Mogadorians. I got into the series after watching (and being pleasantly surprised by) the movie adaptation of the first book. While they might not be as popular with today's kids as the likes of Twilight and The Hunger Games, these books still appeal to that same part of me that loved reading Animorphs back in the day. Admittedly though, it is with this book that it becomes safe to wonder whether the series might be running out of steam. Hopefully the authors would be able to wrap everything up in the next book or two, without trying to milk the whole thing dry.

Insurgent

 

Just like The Hunger Games, Divergent was another work of dystopian fiction that managed to strike a chord with fans of the ever-popular YA genre. One of the things I loved about it was its post-apocalyptic setting, a futuristic Chicago were everything is split between five ideology-based factions. The second book expands upon that world, all the while revealing more back stories, key players, and of course government conspiracies. And while not as engaging as the first book, Insurgent still does a decent job of setting the stage for the third and final book. I can't wait to see how it all translates onto the big screen when the movies come out.

 

Wool (Omnibus Edition)

 

And right here is another book-to-movie adaptation that couldn't possibly come soon enough. Every now and again, a book/movie/TV series comes out of nowhere and simply blows your mind away. In 2012, that book was Wool by science-fiction writer, Hugh Howey. It is set in a post-apocalyptic future where the remnants of humanity have been forced underground after the Earth's surface becomes uninhabitable. The omnibus edition brings together the first five books in the series, and we follow the lives of the inhabitants of Silo 17 (an underground city of sorts) as they slowly uncover a vast conspiracy that could very well lead to the next great uprising. It is one of those rare stories that you just have to experience for yourself, in order to understand its true magnitude.


The Casual Vacancy

 

I've been a Harry Potter fan ever since I'd read the opening lines of the first book. From the very beginning, I was captivated by J.K. Rowling's writing style and her dark sense of humor, both of which carry over nicely into her first book for adults. The closest parallel I can draw to The Casual Vacancy is the TV show, Desperate Housewives. Both take place in small communities, and their events are set into motion by the death of a prominent member of the community. Here, it is a parish councilor called Barry Fairbrother that dies, and we get to see, through the course of the novel, the impact his death has on the residents of Pagford. Ms. Rowling has definitely proven here that she can write whatever see very well chooses, and write it to near perfection. But if you're looking for the same sense of magic and wonder found in Harry Potter, then kindly look elsewhere, because The Casual Vacancy paints a very crude and realistic picture of modern-day life.

And the winner is...

Wool (Omnibus Edition)

 

If 2011 was the year I became a self-published writer, then 2012 must be the year that I discovered the wealth of talent in the vast pool of self-published writers. I read Wool #1 back in June, after hearing nothing but good things about the series as a whole. And I was blown away by one of the best endings I've come across in years. The remaining four books in the omnibus where just as mind-blowing (if not more so). The characters are well-written, and the story itself is very visual, painting a vivid picture of an underground city and the desolation that has kept its inhabitants from returning to the surface. You can almost feel the claustrophobia of their hallways, and the strain they go through ascending the steps of the stairwell that links the many levels of the Silo. I really hope Ridley Scott does the movie adaptation the justice it deserves, and that we don't have to wait 10 years to see it.

Monday, 17 December 2012

The Other Side (Guardians, #6)


The final book of my epic fantasy series, Guardians & The Lost Paradise, is here ladies and gentlemen. I can't believe it's been six months already. So many things going through my mind right now. Joy. Relief. Fear. Exhiliration. I can't find the right words to sum it all up. Would need at least a dozen blog posts to say it all. So I'll just go straight to the business of the day.

You can grab the final book from Amazon US and Amazon UK. Alternatively, you can get all six books in an ebook bundle. Here are the links for that:

Amazon US | Amazon UK

If you're still reading this, then I want to use this opportunity to thank you. For all the love, support, and kind words. But mostly for just being present and bearing with all my self-indulgent ramblings over the months. These books represent six years worth of my life's work. I'm beyond grateful having people like you to share them with. *cough* buy the books *cough*

Thanks everyone, for being awesome.

Friday, 7 December 2012

The Morning Star


Back in June, I took part in a writing contest for the Fantasy-Faction Anthology. The winners were recently revealed and surprise, surprise, I wasn't one of them. The Morning Star was the short story I wrote as my entry, and from the get-go, I had every intention of giving it away for free, in the quite likely event it wasn't chosen as one of the six winning entries.

It is set in the same universe as my dark/epic fantasy series, Guardians & The Lost Paradise, and it centers on one of my favorite characters from the series, the fallen archangel, Lucifer. This is the first time I'll be basing a story around an antihero, and I had loads of fun during the one week it took me to write it.

So how do you snag your free copy? Simple. Just sign up for my new releases newsletter, and I'll e-mail it to you in mobi, epub and pdf formats. And don't worry, I won't give out your e-mail addresses or spam them with endless information about my books. The newsletter only goes out when there is a new book you might be interested in, no sooner, no later.

Here's a link to the sign up form for the newsletter: http://eepurl.com/nWAW9. Can't wait to welcome you on board with a brand new (and very shiny) ebook copy of the book. ;)

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

The Insecure Writer's Support Group



It's been six months since I joined the IWSG. And since that time, the pages of my blog have been graced by some of the nicest writers on this side of the blogosphere. So thank you Alex, once again (I'm sure you must be tired of hearing this by now), for starting the group, and to all its members, who share their insecurities and words of encouragement every month.

My sole regret is not being able to visit everyone on the blog hop, due to some serious device limitations on my end. I do most of my browsing on a mobile phone, and my present one doesn't even allow me to leave comments on the few blogs I do manage to visit. *sigh*

Today, I'd like to pose a question to the members of the group. I know a lot of you have books on Amazon and other online retailers, be it traditionally published, self-published, or published by a small press. The one thing all three paths to publication have in common is the need to market those books. So my question is this:

How do you go about marketing your books?

I've been self-publishing my books a few days shy of one year now. So far, my marketing strategy (if you could call it that) includes posting about new releases on this blog, and running KDP Select free promotions (just three thus far). And that's it. No ads, no leveraging of social media, which probably explains the reason behind my relatively modest sales.

The reason why I am posing this question at this time is because, two weeks from now, I'll be releasing the final book of my Christian/dark/epic fantasy series, Guardians & The Lost Paradise. I've been working on these books for six years now, and I feel I need to give them the fighting chance they deserve, in a market dominated by big name writers and publishers.

So once again, the question: how do you go about marketing your books?

Friday, 30 November 2012

The Passage (Guardians, #5)


The penultimate book of my epic fantasy series, Guardians & The Lost Paradise, is out now. I've always wanted to use that word. Penultimate. Feels good to finally get to do so.

Anyways, book 5 is here, and as usual, it can be picked up from Amazon US, and Amazon UK. I can't believe we're almost there. Just one more book remaining, then I can tie a nice ribbon around the entire series and pop some champagne. It's been fun, exhilarating, and of course hectic, just to name a few words. A small part of me sorta wishes it could keep going perpetually. But all good things must come to an end.

Here are the links for book 5 once again:

Amazon US | Amazon UK
 

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

The Insecure Writer's Support Group


The first Wednesday of a new month means it's time for another round of Insecure Writer's Support Group (IWSG) posts. The Insecure Writer's Support Group is a blog hop hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh, where members share their writerly challenges or successes, and at the same time show some support for their peers.

For today's post, I'll be highlighting a recent achievement. I've been self-publishing my books on Amazon (and more recently Kobo) for close to a year now. And in all that time, I finally managed to cross my first major milestone. As at the first of November, 2012, I'd sold 100 books on Amazon. I know there are those who sell several times that amount on a daily basis. But for me, this is a major milestone indeed.

I'll like to use this opportunity to thank all those who have supported my writing either by buying one of my books, or spreading the word about my new releases. Right now, I have my sights set on the next major milestone down the line. 1000 books. Here's hoping it would come soon enough.

Monday, 5 November 2012

The Shadow (Guardians, #4)



The fourth book of my ongoing fantasy series, Guardians & The Lost Paradise, is now on sale at Amazon US, Amazon UK and Kobo. It is the first of two books in the series I drafted during a writing challenge back in February. The first book in the series is now free on Amazon US. I'm still waiting for it to go free in the UK though, but for now, UK readers can either grab an ePub version from Kobo, or e-mail me personally for a Kindle version.

Right. I should be doing NaNoWriMo right now, but can't due to outstanding rewrites and edits for the two remaining books in the series. There's always next year I guess, or the other NaNo variants sprinkled in-between. More on that on Wednesday's IWSG post. For now, here are the links for Book 4 once again:

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo

Monday, 15 October 2012

The Journey is Free on Kobobooks

That's right folks, the first book of my epic fantasy series, Guardians & The Lost Paradise, is free on Kobobooks.com. To snag your free epub copy, simply head over to the following url:

http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/The-Journey-Guardians-1/book-SrvF_m5uJEWHA5av1MaacA/page1.html?s=ZOR_T_eA1kOKjrO18cdDaA&r=1

I'm currently trying to get Amazon to price match, so it can be offered for free over there as well. To make this happen, you can help by reporting the lower price on the book's Amazon page. Just click on the link that says "tell us about a price" on the Amazon page and paste the above url in the feedback dialog, along with the lower price (0.00).

Books 2 and 3 are currently in the pipeline, so you can expect to see them on Kobobooks real soon as well.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

The Insecure Writer's Support Group

Hello again, IWSG writers. And for the benefit of those who don't know what the IWSG is... it is a monthly blogfest started by science-fiction blogger, Alex J. Cavanaugh, wherein members can share their writerly challenges, and also provide support to one another.

Right now, my number one challenge seems to be getting some actual writing done. At the start of the year, one of my resolutions was setting aside some time each day to write; in a bid to make the transition from aspiring writer to full-time writer. But ever since I started to self-publish my epic fantasy series, Guardians & The Lost Paradise, I've been bugged down with edits, cover design, and the like.

So far, this year, I have written about 60,000 words, most of which was put down during a writing challenge back in February. I would really love to do NaNoWriMo next month; God knows I could really use that extra 50,000 words. I even have the perfect project to work on, long-since outlined and waiting for realization. But with my current workload that prospect seems rather slim.

But who knows, I just might experience the spark of inspiration I need to push me in that direction. In the meantime, I have a climax and denouement still waiting to be written for my current project. I should ideally get that over with before embarking on anything new. *sigh* Oh well.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

The Gathering (Guardians, #3)

We're halfway there, ladies and gentlemen. The third book of my epic fantasy series, Guardians & The Lost Paradise, went live sometime during the wee hours of this morning. Of all the books thus far, I am most excited about this one; this is where events become truly "epic," setting the stage for the final three books in the series.

Last month, I was able to serialize the first book on Wattpad. This time around, I'm working on putting it through another distribution channel: Kobo. The plan is to set it to free over there, then hope that Amazon decides to price match it to free as well. That way, more people will (hopefully) be able to discover the series, and for the wonderful price of nothing too. So, wish me luck I guess. *crosses fingers*

I'll be posting an update to let you know how it goes. Till then, here are the links for book three:

Amazon US | Amazon UK

P.S: The recently-forced Blogger upgrade has pretty much ensured that I can no longer compose blog posts on my BlackBerry. So, you might notice some relative silence from me in the days and weeks to come, at least pending when my ISP gets their act together.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Genre Favorites Blogfest

This post is part of a blogfest hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Participants are required to talk about their favorite book, movie and music genres, and a guilty pleasure from any of the three.

Books:
I confess, I didn't start reading novels until well into my teens, and so, I am not as well-read as I'd like to be. I still plan on going back one day to read all the classics. Of all the genres out there today, my favorite would be everything that falls under the umbrella of speculative fiction. This includes science fiction, fantasy, dystopian fiction, and even paranormal romance (although I absolutely despise love triangles).

Movies:
I've been watching movies from as far back as I can remember. I recently posted about a childhood monster I encountered in the movie adaptation of the epic fantasy book, The NeverEnding Story. And here, once again, I find myself leaning towards the genres under the speculative fiction umbrella. But if I was forced to narrow the choice down to just one, I'd go with science fiction.

Music:
I don't know if you know this, but there are very few things in this world I love more than music. One of those things is the TV show, Gilmore Girls, but that's another topic for another blog post. I take a lot of pride in my varied taste in music (and my 10,000-song iTunes Library), which is why it is almost impossible for me to pick just one genre for this blog post. Simply put, I don't have a favorite genre. I love everything from House, to Hip-Hop, to Nu Metal, and even Dubstep. I know this goes against the rules of the blogfest, Alex, but I just can't narrow this one down. Sorry.

Guilty Pleasure:
For the guilty pleasure portion of this post, I'm sticking with music again. Like I just said, I listen to almost everything out there. Because of that, there is a disturbing volume of "pop music geared towards teenage girls" in my library. Britney Spears. Gwen Stefani. Katy Perry. Lady Gaga. Miley Cyrus. Selena Gomez. Taylor Swift. The list is endless really. If it made it remotely close to the top of the Billboard charts, then chances are I've had it on near-constant repeat at one time or the other. :D

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

The Insecure Writers' Support Group


Today is the first Wednesday of a new month. This means it is time for yet another round of Insecure Writers' Support Group posts. The IWSG is a bloghop hosted by science-fiction writer, Alex J. Cavanaugh, where participants are expected to share their writerly challenges, and to show support to others as well.

Last month, I was clearly burnt out following a (somewhat) successful crowdfunding campaign and the launch of a new series. This time around, I'm pleased to announce that things seem to be more manageable. I have since released book two in the series, and will be doing a cover reveal for book three on the Facebook page sometime next week.

Okay. I confess. Everything isn't exactly sunshine and butterflies right now. I'm still waiting for that rather nebulous point in time where one of my books would break out. So far, monthly sales are still in the single digits for each one. It's not easy being an independent writer, I know. But still...

P.S: This is completely off topic, but The Beatles totally rock! :D

Monday, 27 August 2012

The Fall (Guardians, #2)


The second book in my epic fantasy series, Guardians & The Lost Paradise, is out now. It went live on Amazon a few hours ago:

Amazon US | Amazon UK

As usual, you can head over to www.the-lost-paradise.com for more information on The Fall, where you can join the mailing list so you'd receive this announcement type posts without having to visit the blog. Or, you know, just to take a look at the shiny new slide I just put up for it. ;)

To celebrate the new release and show appreciation to all those that helped make it possible, I have serialized the first book in its entirety on Wattpad. For those of you who don't know, Wattpad is an online repository of sorts where writers can share their stories with readers for free. That's right. For free.

Why have I done this? Well, Wattpad seems like the perfect home for my book. It's open to any kind of writing, but it seems to lean towards young adult fiction, as most of the users fall under the teenage demographic. The Journey started off as middle grade fiction, before morphing and becoming more Pan's Labyrinth than Chronicles of Narnia. So the whole thing just seems to make sense.

Will I be serializing subsequent books in the series? I seriously doubt it. It was a real chore getting the first book up, so much so that I don't really see myself going through all that again. At least not anytime soon. But only time would tell. I know for certain that I'll be serializing The Morning Star though, a short story prequel to the series I wrote for a writing competition back in June. So there's that to look forward to as well.

P.S: Happy Birthday, mum!

Monday, 20 August 2012

The Mediator is Free

That's right. I am presently running a free promotion on Amazon, for the first book of my science-fiction series, Neuro. The promo runs until the 22nd of August, 2012, and is in celebration of the book's recently-revamped cover. So snag a copy while you can, and do not hesitate to spread the love. ;)

Amazon US | Amazon UK

P.S: The internet over here has been really poor these past couple of days, preventing me from spending as much time on the blogosphere as I normally do. Hopefully, things would get sorted out over at the ISP soon.

P.P.S: The second book of my epic fantasy series, Guardians & The Lost Paradise, is almost here. Head over to the Facebook page for a sneak peek at its cover.

Friday, 10 August 2012

What Was Your Childhood Monster?

I'd been stumbling across this blogfest on several blogs these past three days, and so I finally decided to give it a shot as well. It was started by Christine Rains, in celebration of her newly-released paranormal romance, Fearless. Participants are expected to write a post discussing their childhood monsters, and this right here is mine.

My childhood was spent in constant fear of one thing or the other. That was most likely due to the prevalence of horror movies on local television. Ironically though, my childhood monster wasn't from an actual horror movie. It was from the 1984 epic fantasy movie, The NeverEnding Story.

There was a particular scene, where Atreyu (the hero) had to pass through some kind of gateway, which was really just the road between a pair of sphinxes facing one another. The problem was that those sphinxes had a rather nasty habit whereby they'd vaporize all travellers on the spot, complete with cheesy 80s special effects. Only those who were deemed worthy were allowed to pass, or something like that.

I must have seen the movie about a gazillion times as a kid, but each time I watched Atreyu approach those sphinxes, it was with the same level of dread I felt on my first viewing. Still, The NeverEnding Story was one of the first fantasy films I completely fell in love with. It's been about 20 years since my last viewing, so I guess I really need to revisit Fantasia.

Monday, 6 August 2012

The Journey (Guardians, #1)


The Journey begins. Actually, it began about a week ago, on the 31st of July. But I'd delayed this announcement so I could iron out a few formatting issues, amongst other things. Everything seems to be reasonably okay at the moment, so I guess it's time to let the cat out of the bag.

In case you haven't been following its progress over the last couple of months, this is the first book in an epic fantasy series called Guardians & The Lost Paradise. In it I attempt to tackle the mystery of what awaits us on "The Other Side." But there are a few facts that need clarifying before I go any further.

First off, the book is NOT an 800-page monster like most epic fantasy books out there. It is actually the length of a novella, and can be comfortably read in one sitting. After a rather ruthless round of editing, the final word count is just a bit over 20,000 words. Secondly, it was written with a Christian worldview (i.e. in which God created the heavens and earth). Lastly, it ends with a major twist and a cliffhanger to boot.

So, there, I said it.

To find out more, you can visit www.the-lost-paradise.com, from where you can also join the mailing list. That way you'll receive an e-mail notification whenever subsequent books in the series become available. Alternatively, you can snag a copy directly from Amazon: click here if you live in the US, and here if you live in the UK.

It has been six years in the making. I really hope you enjoy reading it.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

The Insecure Writer's Support Group


Can someone please tell me where the last four weeks went? I mean, has it really been one month since the last round of IWSG posts? It has!? Wow. Okay. I'm officially freaked out now.

Unfortunately, I am also strapped for time (and sleep) at the moment. Funny how trying to self-publish six books in six months, right after running a month-long crowdfunding campaign, can take such a toll. I wish I could get my hands on one of those Time-Turners. But it seems Hermione snagged the very last one. Well, at least I'd managed to express all that is currently going on in this other post. It would be rather counterproductive to regurgitate the very same facts here again. Besides, I am this close to passing out in front of the keyboard.

Apologies. Would try to do better next month. Hopefully.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Dates & Numbers



This post was originally meant to go up on Monday. But I'd spent the weekend (and the days since) recuperating from post-campaign burnout (amongst other things). It was a much needed break, and I indeed feel better for it.

Now. If you'd visited this blog anytime within the last month or so, then you must have surely heard about my crowdfunding campaign for my 6-part epic fantasy series, Guardians & The Lost Paradise. The goal was to raise $3,000 in 30 days. The money was to be used to pay for the services of a professional artist and editor. The plan was to self-publish all 6 books in 6 months.

Well. After 30 days of non-stop telling, asking and the occasional begging, the campaign received 142 visitors, 200 views and 234 referrals. And in the end, we managed to raise $400, spread out between 8 contributors.

What does it all mean? Well, for starters, that I'm very much grateful for those that did contribute, and all those that helped spread the word. I know I must have said this about a half dozen times by now, but it bears repeating. Thanks guys, for believing in my project enough to show some support.

That said, I believe I did everything that was within my means to give my project a fighting chance. I took the time to craft my pitch and really worked on the presentation of the campaign. Then I told my friends, family (big waste of time) and basically everyone I know. I even wrote a press release, even though this was done a mere two weeks before the deadline.

In retrospect, the press release should've gone out at least two weeks before the start of the campaign. Also, I should've ensured I had built a mailing list of people more inclined to be interested in my project, rather than relying on fairly random people I'd had prior email conversations with.

Finally, I shouldn't have spent as much time and effort on Twitter. The fact that I had a big name author (with 10,000+ followers) tweet a link to my campaign with zero results more than proves why. I did get to meet a lot of cool new people though, including the big name author in question, which I guess made it worthwhile.

All in all, I consider the campaign a success. $400 is a far better amount to work with than $0. What this simply means is that I'd have to find other ways to get to where I am going. I've since adapted my original plan to make room for a Plan B and C. Plan B involves using a second artist. Plan C involves using stock photographs and photo manipulation software. Any recommendations?.

I find that I work best under pressure. This is why I have drawn out the following schedule for the release of each book in the series:

Book I – The Journey – July 31st
Book II – The Fall – August 28th
Book III – The Gathering – September 25th
Book IV – The Shadow – October 30th
Book V – The Passage – November 27th
Book VI – The Other Side – December 18th

And if my calculations are correct, then it means the first book is due out next Tuesday. That's less than 6 days from now. Yikes. I'd better get back to work.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Hookers & Hangers: Part II

Today is the second part of the Hookers & Hangers blogfest, hosted by the writers over at Falling for Fiction. On Monday, participants posted first sentences from the chapters of their books and WIPs i.e. hookers. Today, we are to post last sentences, or hangers.

Like I earlier feared, today's exercise proved more difficult because most of my last sentences require some context to carry any kind of meaning. That said, these are a few from the first book of my epic fantasy series, Guardians & The Lost Paradise, a project that is a mere 3 days away from being crowdfunded:


In fact, the only sound he could still hear was that of his beating heart; and it was slowly fading away.

And with that all three unicorns kicked off the ledge, leaving the waterfall behind as they glided towards the forest.

And together, the two brothers disappeared into the ghostly-white mist.

Clarissa put an arm around Danny's shoulders. "Well, I guess there is a first time for everything."


Thanks to everyone that dropped a comment on Monday. And to the new followers too. I'll try my best to pay you back in kind the moment things become less hectic.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Hookers & Hangers

This post is part of the two-part Hookers & Hangers blogfest, hosted by the writers over at Falling for Fiction. Participants are required to share any number of first (hookers) and last (hangers) sentences from the chapters in their books.

Today, I'll be sharing a few first sentences from the first book of my upcoming series, Guardians & The Lost Paradise:


The first sensation that struck Danny after regaining consciousness was the marked absence of cold.

Danny held on to Kevin for dear life, his eyes equally held shut.

Danny watched with horror as the wilderbeasts charged towards them from all sides.

"We're almost there." Damian had to shout the words over his shoulder. "Just a little distance more and we'll have these fiends lagging behind us where they belong."


And there you go. I'll be posting my hangers (also from Guardians & The Lost Paradise) on Wednesday, so be sure to come back and check those out as well.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Neuro: A Science Fiction Collection


Hello, everyone. I've been very much preoccupied these past couple of days. Most of that time has been spent tending to my crowdfunding campaign. Also, I managed to write a 6,000-word short story for the Fantasy Writing Contest. But somewhere between writing a press release and writing a prequel to Guardians & The Lost Paradise, I managed to publish a new book on Amazon.

Wow. That's a lot of links. But back to the new book. It is actually a collection of my three existing sci-fi novellas: The Mediator, The Host and The Second Rebellion, each one centering around a different application of Neuro, a technology that allows the human mind to be interfaced with a computer. I wasn't going to announce this on the blog, mostly because I didn't think I would be able to find the time to write this post. But then I remembered the main reason for maintaining this blog in the first place, which is to document my journey as a writer and my experiences with self-publishing.

So there you go. Now, time to get back to that campaign.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

The Insecure Writer's Support Group


I can't believe it's that time already. Where did the last 30 days go? It almost feels like I walked through some kind of timeslip, and came out a full month in the future. I guess time DOES fly when you're... what was I doing again?

In case you don't know what I am going on about here, I am of course referring to the Insecure Writer's Support Group, or IWSG as some like to call it. It is a group started by Alex J. Cavanaugh, where members can share their worries and whatnot. Last month was my first ever IWSG post, and I was indeed overwhelmed by the level of support I received from members of the group. So I'd like to say a quick thank you to all those that popped in and left a comment (or two).

Now, there's a lot currently going on with me, as a writer, and so many reasons to feel insecure. But I'll still like to keep today's post short (and hopefully sweet). As you may or may not know, I decided to launch that crowdfunding campaign I spoke about in last month's post. This was after much consideration of course, but with very little planning beyond telling everyone I knew. I figured if I could tell enough friends, family, and the occasional complete stranger, my campaign would be able to receive at least enough contributions to get placement in the Indiegogo directory. Boy was I wrong.

After nearly two weeks of badgering said friends and family, I had received enough empty promises to power a nuclear submarine. It got to a point that I started to feel like I was the only one who was ever going to care about my project. But then I saw this post by one of my blogging buddies, and I realized I was not as alone as I originally thought.

I would like to use this opportunity to thank everyone who has so far contributed, tweeted, emailed, or done what little they could to help me spread the word about my campaign. And for those of you who haven't, what are you waiting for?

Monday, 2 July 2012

Happy INDIEpendence Day


Over the weekend, I was lucky enough to score a guest post at Musings of a Procrastinating Author. I decided to do a piece for independent writers, so you should totally check it out if you happen to be one. Coincidentally, today marks the beginning of the INDIEpendence Day blogfest over at The Indelibles. And as part of the celebration, we've been asked to highlight an outstanding indie book. I've been reading indie books for several months now (ever since becoming an indie author myself), and in so doing I've come across the good, the bad, and the not particularly beautiful. But of all the indie books out there today, one of the most outstanding is Hugh Howey's science-fiction novella, Wool.



I discovered Wool around the same time Mr. Howey became a regular at the Kindleboards Writers' Cafe. At the time, the series was already starting to make waves. And being the science fiction buff that I am, I was more than happy to dive into the book. Admittedly, the story started a bit slow for me, and I was indeed wondering what all the noise was about. But as the story progressed, I started to feel a real connection with the main character, Holston.

By the end of this bittersweet adventure, I was not only blown away, but eager to start the next book in the series. Put simply, Wool has one of the best endings I have seen in years. It is a book that shares story elements with recent games like Rage and Fallout 3, and movies like Inception and Solaris. But it still manages to feel fresh and ground-breaking at the same time.

I am currently reading the next book in the series, so the verdict is not yet out on that one. But from what I've been reading so far, it is already shaping up to be even better.

Monday, 25 June 2012

The Fantasy Writing Contest



Calling all speculative fiction writers! Or more specifically, fantasy writers. The folks at the Fantasy Writing Contest are collecting short story submissions for an anthology they are putting together. Emm, actually, they've been collecting submissions for several months now, but I only just got wind of this a few days ago. The deadline is the 30th of June, so if you happen to have a fantasy short story lying around on your hard drive, or you're able to crank out 1000 - 7,500 words between now and then, you should seriously consider submitting. There are no entry fees, and you stand a chance of winning a cash prize too i.e. in addition to being selected for inclusion in their anthology.

At first I wasn't sure whether or not I was going to try and write something up before the deadline, primarily because of my ongoing campaign which I had already scheduled at the time. But I've been mulling over some great ideas in my head. This would serve as a short story prequel to my series, Guardians & The Lost Paradise, and would flesh out more of the backstory that was briefly touched upon throughout the series.

Personally, I'm more interested in the motivation to write something that this contest provides than any cash prizes. Okay, so maybe I'm a little bit motivated by the money too. But in the event that I don't win the money or inclusion (a highly probable outcome, considering the tens upon thousands of submissions they must have received by now), I plan on putting the short story up online for free. This might, in the long run, help generate more interest for my series.

What about you? Are you going to try and crank out a short story before the deadline? Or perhaps you're one of the tens of thousands who have already submitted one...? As for me, the decision is already made and I managed to squeeze out (a rather measly) 500 words earlier today. It felt good though. Well, at least it's better than staring at that big round 0 on my campaign homepage.

Friday, 22 June 2012

And We're Off...!



The ball has been set into motion. It's been roughly 24 hours since I launched my Indiegogo campaign for my book series, Guardians & The Lost Paradise.

For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about here, Guardians is a 6-part epic fantasy series I've been writing for close to six years now. It was written primarily for children and young adults, though the story itself should appeal to readers of all ages. It is about a young boy who dies in a car accident, and was inspired by a monumental event that took place during my childhood, the death of my older brother, Seye. Basically, I wanted to explore and share my vision of what awaits us on the other side, you know, right after we kick the bucket. But I wanted to do so from the perspective of someone who had experienced such a loss. Thus my main character Daniel Graham was born.

I'm pretty stoked right now, mainly because I have finally taken the plunge. Now it's time to swim as hard as I can in pursuit of our goal. For those of you willing to help out, be it by making contributions or spreading the word (or both!!), here are some all-important links:

The Campaign Homepage
http://www.indiegogo.com/guardians

The Companion Website
http://www.the-lost-paradise.com

The Facebook Page
http://www.facebook.com/guardians.books

The Campaign Video
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pztyiPLa01M

My Twitter Page
http://www.twitter.com/michaelabayomi

And for those of you still sitting on the fence about this, let me save you the trouble of having to visit Youtube to watch the campaign video. This was filmed last week and edited over the weekend. It is my first-ever attempt at trying to tell a story through film, so try not to laugh too hard, okay? Enjoy. :)

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

It's Official!



After many weeks of deliberation (not to mention the 6 years spent writing the beast), I have decided it's time to give the world its first sighting of my 6-part epic fantasy series, Guardians & The Lost Paradise. The first two chapters are now on display at www.the-lost-paradise.com, as part of my about-to-be-launched Indiegogo campaign to raise enough money to produce all 6 books in the series.

That's right, I've also decided to take the crowdfunding route. The goal is to raise $3,000 within the next 30 days. The plan is to self-publish all 6 books in the series between the months of July and December, with or without the money. This is why I am opting for "Flexible Funding" where I get to keep (and put to good use) whatever amount is raised, whether we make the goal or not.

I am clearly going to need all the help I can get to make this campaign a success. Such a venture lives or dies by word-of-mouth. I am prepared to do whatever needs to be done to push these books. That's how much I believe in them. I'll try my best not to be too spammy about it. Although I should probably apologize beforehand if that's how I come across at the end of the day.

So, once again, the website for the 2-chapter excerpt is www.the-lost-paradise.com. The campaign itself would launch in the next couple of hours. Just waiting to get word from some certain key partners.

I'll keep everyone posted!

Monday, 11 June 2012

The 7 x 7 Link Award

Guess what? I was nominated for another award. What? The title of my post kinda gave it away already...? Darn. Should have gone with something more cryptic. Anyways, the name of this award is The 7 x 7 Link Award and it was given to me by the ever-resourceful Geek Twins.

To accept this award, I need to list (and provide links) to my existing blog posts I feel fall into the following seven categories. So here it goes:

Most Beautiful Piece
2011 in Review: Looking Back

Most Helpful Piece
Let's Get Digital (Book Review)

Most Popular Piece
The Lost Children (Music Review)

Most Controversial Piece
A Short Rant about Walls and Sh#t!

Most Surprisingly Successful Piece
Young Adult (Movie Review)

Most Underrated Piece
My Very First Blog Post

Most Pride-Worthy Piece
The Origin of a Storyteller

Right. The instructions on how to pass this award on to others wasn't exactly provided. But I am going to take a wild guess and pass it on to "7" fellow bloggers anyway:

Resident Gamer
Scouring Monk
Pensuasion
Cassie Mae
Lora Palmer
Jaime
Annalisa Crawford

Enjoy. :D

Friday, 8 June 2012

Insurgent (Book Review)


It's been a while since I did a book review. The last one I wrote was for a book called Divergent, a YA dystopian about a future where the city of Chicago is split into several ideology-based factions. That was five months ago. So it's highly coincidental that the next book I was to review was its much anticipated sequel, Insurgent.

Insurgent picks up right where Divergent left off, with Tris, Four and others struggling to come to terms with the aftermath of the Dauntless invasion on the Abnegation sector. They start by taking shelter with the Amity, who live just outside the fence surrounding the city. But their stay is short-lived when the Amity headquarters is stormed by Dauntless traitors (those still on the side of the Erudite, the faction responsible for all the atrocities from the previous book).

The bulk of the story is spent travelling from one faction to another, as Tris and Four try to elude capture and at the same time garner the support needed to foil the plans of the Erudite leader, the villainous Jeanine Mathews. Jeanine seeks to control all the other factions, and the only ones standing in the way of her plans are the Divergent, those who are immune to the various mind-controlling simulation serums developed by the Erudite.

We get to meet other key players along the way, like the various faction leaders. The most important though is a woman named Evelyn Eaton, leader of the Factionless, who is seeking the complete abolition of the factions. It quickly becomes apparent that the Factionless hold more power than was previously thought and could very well determine the outcome of the forthcoming civil war. But that was hardly ever a surprise to begin with.

I think my main problem with Insurgent was the presence of too many side characters, most of whom didn't contribute much to the development of the plot. I know there are so many books out there with countless side characters, like those in the Harry Potter series for instance. But some of the ones here are so forgettable that you end up mixing one up for the other.

Then there were quite a number of logic-defying encounters, none of which I can reveal for fear of ruining the book for those of you yet to read it. I'll just say that the Dauntless traitors guarding the Erudite headquarters are quite possibly the most incompetent security force in the realm of fiction. The end result of these problems was a book that felt padded out and much longer than it really was.

On the plus side, Veronica Roth somehow managed to answer all the questions I'd raised at the end of my Divergent review, while giving us a better understanding of the book's main character(s). Let's hope the as-yet-unnamed final book in the series brings the trilogy to a satisfactory close.