Book Review: The King’s Men By Nora Sakavic

*** Disclaimer: I’mma pretend you’ve read the first and second book ***

Synopsis for “The King’s Men” by Nora Sakavic:

“Neil Josten is out of time. He knew when he came to PSU he wouldn’t survive the year, but with his death right around the corner he’s got more reasons than ever to live. Befriending the Foxes was inadvisable. Kissing one is unthinkable. Neil should know better than to get involved with anyone this close to the end, but Andrew’s never been the easiest person to walk away from. If they both say it doesn’t mean anything, maybe Neil won’t regret losing it, but the one person Neil can’t lie to is himself. He’s got promises to keep and a team to get to championships if he can just outrun Riko a little longer, but Riko’s not the only monster in Neil’s life. The truth might get them all killed—or be Neil’s one shot at getting out of this alive.”

Book Review:

Third and last book in the “All for the game” trilogy, “The King’s Men” has it’s good things and it’s bad things. The second book ended in a bang, that the third book didn’t utilize in any kind of way. At the end, yes, things were resolved, everything was as it should, but.

One of its most positive traits is the emphasis it gives on consent. It was actually very refreshing to see something like that. No means no after all.

“Who said ‘please’ that made you hate the word so much?”
Andrew gazed at him in silence for a minute. “I did.”
― Nora Sakavic, The King’s Men

On the other hand though, there are issues. Things happen and not because any of the characters initiated them. Conflicts are resolved in an ex-machina manner, where forces literally come out of nowhere to solve the problem. Riko practically disappears until the third scene where he shows up for the game with the Foxes and then he’s off again.
Also, Neil – as observant as he’s supposed to be and as smart – misses things that should have been plain as day for him in a frustrating kind of way. A survivalist runaway wouldn’t take his eyes off the Butcher. He has a whole album with information on Riko and Kevin. Wouldn’t he be doing at least 1/3 of that for the man who is hunting him down to kill him? And I didn’t like that the Butcher – mentioned briefly at the beginning of the first book – suddenly reappears so that conflict/plot point can be nicely wrapped up and dealt with.

There is no agency in the characters. In Neil, or Andrew, or Kevin, until their last game with the Ravens. Until then, things happen to them and they are reacting while someone else saves the day.

“Is your learning curve a horizontal line?”
― Nora Sakavic, The King’s Men

It’s never a good sign when you read a book and you go all: “Oh for fuck’s sake”.

Never a good sign.

“This,” Neil flicked his finger to indicate the two of them, “isn’t worthless.”
“There is no ‘this’. This is nothing.”
“And I am nothing,” Neil prompted. When Andrew gestured confirmation, Neil said, “And as you’ve always said, you want nothing.”
Andrew stared stone-faced back at him.”
― Nora Sakavic, The King’s Men

Yet, the romance – understandably slow as it has been – finally happens. And at this point all the reasons why it had to be so slow make sense, and there is almost something sweet in it. The characters grow and make their choices before the big game with the Ravens, where everything could happen.

I don’t want to get into spoiler territory. Is this book a good conclusion to the trilogy? In a way yes. There are no loose ends, there are no contradictions with the characters, the romance is wonderful.
But it could have been better. I almost feel like this is a book that was a couple revisions away from reaching its full potential. Still, worth reading to wrap up the series nicely.

PS: Neil appears to be a cheeky bastard when in love. Kudos for that.

The Foxhole Court | The Raven King | The King’s Men

Book review the raven king by nora sakavic

Book Review: The Raven King By Nora Sakavic

*** Disclaimer: I’mma pretend you’ve read the first book ***

Synopsis for “The Raven King” by Nora Sakavic:

“The Foxes are a fractured mess, but their latest disaster might be the miracle they’ve always needed to come together as a team. The one person standing in their way is Andrew, and the only one who can break through his personal barriers is Neil. Except Andrew doesn’t give up anything for free and Neil is terrible at trusting anyone but himself. The two don’t have much time to come to terms with their situation before outside forces start tearing them apart. Riko is intent on destroying Neil’s fragile new life, and the Foxes have just become collateral damage. Neil’s days are numbered, but he’s learning the hard way to go down fighting for what he believes in, and Neil believes in Andrew even if Andrew won’t believe in himself.”

Book Review:

In the wake of Seth’s death, the team needs to come together, to be stronger, to fight harder. Riko is not going to let them off the hook that easily, not with everything Neil has head, and with Kevin not returning to the Ravens.
Andrew has promised to keep him safe like he’s doing for Kevin, and Neil has chosen to believe him.

The second book is by far my favorite in this series. It’s also a book that touches a lot of sensitive topics, more so than the last book: rape, abusive, addiction.

“I am a bad person trying very hard to be a good person.”
― Nora Sakavic, The Raven King

The stakes are higher in this book. With Seth’s death, they know that their lives are on the line and Neil carries the guilt of that death on his shoulders. It was what he said after all that provoked Riko.
But this latest development is not only affecting Neil. It’s affecting the rest of the team, and especially Andrew.

It seems though that Neil hasn’t learned how to keep his mouth shut about Riko. He can’t help it, and I can’t blame him.
Between his training with the team and the late-night training with Kevin, Neil is improving his game, the whole team is getting better, even if it’s still fractured between two halves, the twins, Nicky and Kevin, versus Dan, Allison, Renee, and Matt.

But half way through the book, the thing that’s keeping them apart is taken out of the equation and for the first time in forever, the team comes together in some place other than the court.

“He was their family. They were his. They were worth every cut and bruise and scream.”
― Nora Sakavic, The Raven King

But things just keep getting worse and worse for Neil. He has to make a deal with the devil if he wishes to keep his new-found family whole and safe, and at the end, his come apart, and only a few pieces – if any – of the persona he’s been hiding behind are left in place.

It’s a great sequel to the first book, doing the things great sequels do. The stakes are higher, Riko is a dirty bastard that nobody likes and the readers get to root for Neil, and learn a little more about Andrew and what makes him tick, as well as why he’s the way he is.

And of course Wymack. He has a ‘tough love’ approach when it comes to take care of his team, but he’s always there for them when they need it, and he’s there for them to keep them occupied and as out of trouble as he can manage. And of course, he’s there to give them all a second chance.

A very important thing that I’ve noticed in Nora Sakavic’s writing, is that both her male and female characters are equals. She doesn’t bring down one to make the other better. Her book doesn’t only have male characters, as it happens with a good number of m/m novels, and the women that are there are in equal footing with the men.

“Neil thought about Renee’s bruised knuckles, Dan’s fierce spirit, and Allison holding her ground on the court a week after Seth’s death. He thought about his mother standing unflinching in the face of his father’s violent anger and her ruthlessly leaving bodies in their wake. He felt compelled to say, “Some of the strongest people I’ve known are women.”
― Nora Sakavic, The Raven King

I don’t want to give too many things away, I’m trying to keep the reviews as spoiler free as I can. Read the second book. It’s worth it. Lots of feels. Lots of tears.

The Foxhole Court | The Raven King | The King’s Men

book review: the foxhole court by nora sakavic

Book Review: The Foxhole Court By Nora Sakavic

Synopsis for “The Foxhole Court” by Nora Sakavic:

“Neil Josten is the newest addition to the Palmetto State University Exy team. He’s short, he’s fast, he’s got a ton of potential—and he’s the runaway son of the murderous crime lord known as The Butcher. Signing a contract with the PSU Foxes is the last thing a guy like Neil should do. The team is high profile and he doesn’t need sports crews broadcasting pictures of his face around the nation. His lies will hold up only so long under this kind of scrutiny and the truth will get him killed. But Neil’s not the only one with secrets on the team. One of Neil’s new teammates is a friend from his old life, and Neil can’t walk away from him a second time. Neil has survived the last eight years by running. Maybe he’s finally found someone and something worth fighting for.”

Book Review:

I wasn’t really expecting that I would enjoy a book about sports. Any kind of sport. But here we are. The story is full of disasters for every character.
Neil comes in the story knowing he’s going to lie through his teeth to everyone, to his teammates and his couch. His stay with the Palmetto Exy team has an expiration date, but he just couldn’t help himself. He wants to do this one thing for himself, to do something he loves even for a short period of time, even if that brings him face to face with his past.
He’s fast.
He thinks he can outrun it.

The series is in general a well-balanced lgbt series, with both male and female characters that are just as developed. Is there romance in this series? Yes. There are hints of it, of the possibility of it in the first book, but it’s not an insta-romance, it’s a slow one. It builds over the course of the books and that’s for the best.

“It’s not the world that’s cruel. It’s the people in it.”
― Nora Sakavic, The Foxhole Court

Neil is an interesting character. He tries to keep to the persona he has create, but it’s hard for him to keep it up, especially when his past comes knocking on his door and his temper gets the better of him. He wants to believe he’s not the kind of kid who picks fights. In reality, he picks all the fights. Even the ones he can’t win.

His team are Dan wilds, the team Captain – a stripper turned athlete who has fought all her life to be where she is now, Matt Boyd – Neil’s roommate and a Backliner on the team and a former addict, Seth Gordon – a striker like Neil, who has nothing but bad attitude and family problems, as well as some pill abuse that he is supposedly over, Nicky Hemmick – another Backliner, a gay guy who was kicked out by his religious parents, Renee Walker – a Goalkeeper who says she’s a born-again Christian, Aaron – the last Backliner of the team who has endured abuse and addiction, Allioson – a Defensive Dealer, a rich girl who was disowned by her family when she chose to play sports and follow her dream, Kevin – a celebrity striker that has recently changed teams to join the Foxes after an ‘accident’, and lastly, Andrew – the prodigy Goalkeeper who is as high as a kite and has been through too much to mention here and not spoil the following books.

“As he slipped the lock into place again he realized his hand was trembling. He held up his shaky fingers where he could see them better and wondered at the equally weak flutter in his chest.”
― Nora Sakavic, The Foxhole Court

It’s obvious, that the Foxes are a mess, and that plays a very important role in the story, how this kids play off each other, how they have learned to cope with their disasters. Ultimately though it’s Neil’s story, and how he finds a new family and he learns to trust and he stops hiding behind his lies and whatnot.

Andrew is a… peculiar character. He’s a character of extremes with a very weird logic to how he does things, to how he decides what he’ll do, his reasoning for things. If you don’t like Andrew, you are not going to like this books, to be honest, because of how integral he is to the story. But he’s such a peculiar character that not everyone is going to be on board with him and what he does. He’s even somewhat of an opposing force in the first book.

Neil is not the same person that he was in the beginning of the book. He’s not trying to run away anymore, he’s decide to stay and figure things out, even when he finds out that things are far worse than he realised and that he’s past is not just going to let him go. He doesn’t only have the Butcher to worry about, he’s got to worry about Kevin and the problems he brings to them. And with Kevin, comes his guard-dog, Andrew.

Is it worth reading? Yes. It’s a character driven story, with interesting and compelling characters, the world and setting is nicely written, Exy makes sense as a sport.
Is it a perfect story? No. A lot happens in Neil’s head, he’s a kind of person who always observes the others around him, so a lot of the information get filtered through him and his point of view. The bad thing is that all this observing he does, slows down the story down sometimes.

Hope was a dangerous, disquieting thing, but he thought perhaps he liked it.”
― Nora Sakavic, The Foxhole Court

Overall, give it a shot. It’s a book worth reading and it gave me a strange urge to write a sports story…

The Foxhole Court | The Raven King | The King’s Men

Writing goals for June 2017

Monthly Goals: June 2017

June is always a very difficult month when it comes to writing and the things I actually want to do. As I struggle to finish university, I have to find time in between the studying and the exams of June to arrange my writing monthly goals and see what and how I can get everything done.

What’s the plan for June?

June is full of exams.

This is something I need to keep in mind. It’s very easy for me to get lost in writing and other creative endeavours. That means my university life suffers. For this month I need to prioritize studying to writing.

Finish edits for “Fool’s Errand”.

At 16k, this shortish story is very close to the end. It’s going through the last bits of editing, I’m getting some feedback for it that will hopefully help me get this story where it needs to be.

Polish “Fool’s Errand”.

At this point, the story will have seen an editor, Beta Readers, and Critique partners. I will just need to fine-tune the last details. Then read it again, and correct anything I might have missed the first 45 times.

And then comes the second short story, “The Duchess”

Sitting at 17k right now, by the time I am done with it, it’s going to have seen some growth for sure. I’m an underwriter people. My stories grow before they shrink.

Edit “The Duchess”. 

I am already going through the manuscript and making notes of all the things I need to fix. And I’m cursing myself for not making a proper outline for this. I’m an outliner. I know the merits of a good outline. And yet I thought I would experiment. Well, that means more work for me now.

Send “The Duchess” to Critique Partners and Betas.

After my round of edits, I need to see if what I fixed and changed makes sense. “The Duchess” will go off to my Critique partners first, then my Betas. And I will have to be patient and wait for their wonderful feedback to come back my way.

Prep “The Duchess” for my Editor.

The feedback is in. Now, I’ll have to go through it and fix the story more. I need to get it as clean and polished as I can before it goes off to my Editor, and she can rip through it.

I know that I have set up more goals than I can handle, than I can do. Maybe I won’t get it all done, but since my priorities are different this month, I’ll be satisfied with a 45% on this list.

What are your goals for the month? Are you going to be writing? Do you also have exams?

~ Harris

#Wordbound: Wednesday, February 15th (writing challenge)

Wed, Feb 15

#Wordbound: Put a character in an abandoned building or space.

WEEK 7: New #wordbound prompt coming at you! This one is due February 22! Have you been keeping up?

A post shared by #wordbound (@_wordbound) on

It was a run-down cottage at the edge of Loas Vera. The red forest had grown and spread, engulfing the small, wooden building in vines. Roots broke through the structure, and crimson and burgundy leaves covered the remains like a blanket.
Ilaeth left the safety of the forest. Every step was measured, careful. He had to be quiet. He didn’t know what else could be in there, what could be waiting inside the dark walls of the cottage.
And yet, Ilaeth couldn’t help himself. Even as his heart pounded in his chest, and he could hear his pulse loud in his ears, his curiosity won.
The door was a simple slab of wood without any elaborate carvings or decoration. Unhinged as it was, Ilaeth lifted it up and set it aside, against the wall.
Ilaeth took a tentative step inside.
Part of the roof had caved in over time, and the morning light poured in, illuminating the remnants of a life.
His eyes took in the room. Dust danced in the sunlight. A family of pixies were curled up on the bed, their small wolf-like bodies huddled up together for warmth, their transparent wings rising and falling with their breathing.
They didn’t mind him.
There was a table and a pair of chairs on one end. A layer of dust had settled on them, thick and undisturbed for years it seemed. A tin bucket that was big enough to be used as a bathtub was by the unimpressive fireplace. Ashes and half burned wood still littered the stones, the bricks and the inside of the chimney painted black from the smoke. A few shelves held a couple pots and plates that were there, and an empty trunk sat against the wall.
There weren’t that many things.
Someone had lived there though. Ilaeth could just feel it. There weren’t any clothes or personal things left in the cottage. Whoever had stayed there, they had taken all that with them. But there were two pillows on the barren bed, two chairs at the table.
Someone had lived in this house, and now it stood abandoned, gathering dust and decay. It just was, and it had been so long since someone had lived in there, had sat on those chairs, had lit up the hearth, and had a nice warm meal.
Whoever had lived there, they were long gone now.
Not even their shadow remained.

~ Harris

#Wordbound: Wed, Feb 8th

Narration: Time

or When a Story is Told

PAST:

The Past Tense is the most common in storytelling. It describes the story and the events from a point in the past.

The past tense is simple yet complicated. It can cause problems with writers that can’t use all the past tenses.

On the other hand, it is something the reader expects to see in a story, which makes it invisible. Sometimes when a story has a format that is too weird, it can take the reader out of it. So Past Tense Narration is a safe bet, because it is what readers are used to, what they have seen time and time again.

Great with character backstories and building tension and conflict, the past tense is an easy go-to for most writers, no matter the Point of View or the Voice.

PRESENT:

The second most common tense in storytelling, the Present Tense is simple and uncomplicated. Everything that happens, happens now, in the moment and the Narrator is the vessel through which the reader experiences everything. It is spontaneous, and most times it’s used with the First Person PoV. It is intimate and can be fast-paced.

But the Present Tense can be tricky because it doesn’t fall back on other tenses, so sometimes it can be difficult to convey conflict and tension. Many writers fall into the trap of adding trivial little details and happenings in their story, just because the Present Tense allows it.

FUTURE:

The least used tenses for Narration, are the Future Tenses. The events are happening at some point in the future and the story takes an almost prophetic tone.

~Harris

Intro | View | Voice | Time

Narration: Voice

Or How The Story Is Told.

It is really no surprise that View and Voice and intertwined a lot, since voice is how the story itself is told. Apart from the similarities though, there are some different formats.

A STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS:

In contrast with the other narrative formats, SoC doesn’t follow the typical style and instead it has a unique way of telling events and actions as they happen. SoC is filled with inner monologues in an attempt to replicate the thought process. SoC is full of personal desires and motivations and the occasional, inconvenient incomplete thoughts.
SoC is best expressed in First Person and it is an easy way to show the audience thoughts and motivations that the rest of characters in the story don’t hear or get to know.

A CHARACTER’S VOICE:

One of the most common formats, when the voice of the Narrator and the Voice of a character are one and the same. Either in first person or third, it creates a nice atmosphere for a relatable, realistic character/narrator that the reader can follow around.
But it can also be a biased, unreliable narrator that can lead the reader astray. Or it can be a detached narrator that is just retelling the events taking place.

AN UNRELIABLE NARRATOR:

An untrustworthy narrator aims to give a sense of mystery and suspicion to every bit of information given. There are many reasons why a narrator can be untrustworthy. Mental disorders, drugs, naivete and simple innocence.
Usually done in First Person, for that something extra.

A 3RD PERSON OMNISCIENT NARRATOR:

A narrator that is good for epics and big cast of characters, the Omniscient Narrator knows all, sees all, hears all. It is the most reliable of the Voices because of the knowledge he holds and sometimes he can offer judgement and his opinion on matters, or even foreshadow events that are to happen in a more outspoken manner.

A 3RD PERSON OBJECTIVE NARRATOR:

The Objective Narrator is very good with Drama. He is unbiased and objective and conveys only the events and the actions, while he leaves out the thoughts, the opinions and the feelings of the characters,
He is the perfect Narrator to display all sides in any story in a way that allows the audience to decide who is the good and who is the bad guy, what is right and wrong. It also gives the characters the chance to act out their feelings, instead of just keeping them in their thoughts, where the audience can’t know about them.

A 3RD PERSON SUBJECTIVE NARRATOR:

Unlike the Objective Narrator, the Subjective Narrator is all about the feelings and the thoughts and the personal, inner opinions of the characters. The Narrator can jump between characters and present all different sides in a matter. Most commonly, it is used with main characters, or the Narrator can even jump between characters.

What is your favourite Voice to use? What are you most comfortable with? What would you like to experiment with?

~Harris

Intro | View | Voice | Time

Narration: Point of View

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Point of view, simply put, is the narrator. Who is the person telling the story? Who is he in relation to the story? Is he a character? Is he some detached entity that has nothing to do with the story and does he just narrate the events and what is happening?

There are three different types of PoV: First Person, Second Person and Third. Each different type, of course, has it’s merits and it’s disadvantages.

First Person PoV :

I woke up to rain and wind howling outside my window.

One of the most common PoVs, the narrator is usually a character in the story and most times, he is the protagonist, or at least a character that has a crucial role in the story, even if he is in the sidelines.

First Person allows the reader a glimpse inside the mind of the character/narrator. It is an internal and personal PoV, where all events are filtered through the opinions and the views of the narrator.

It is also one of the PoVs that allows for easy character development as well. With this PoV though, there are three choices to keep in mind:

A) If the character doesn’t know he is narrating a story

B) If he is a conscious narrator

And

C) if they are an unreliable narrator, where his personal traits and experience might influence what he sees and how he acts and the way he colours the story.

The problem with the First Person PoV is that the reader, the audience, can only see what the narrator is seeing and experiencing. If the narrator is not included in some big event, the reader is not included either.

Second Person PoV :

You woke up to rain and wind howling outside your window.

The least common PoV of them all, it is meant to make the reader feel like he is the protagonist, like he is part of the story himself.
The problem with this PoV though is in the fact that it creates an alienation from the events and emotional distance from what is happening.

Third Person PoV :

He woke up to rain and wind howling outside his window.

The Third Person PoV is well – known and very common. It is also flexible. It allows for a variety of narrators and narrations.

Firstly, the narrator can be a character in the story, as in the First Person PoV or he can be an unspecified entity, or an uninvolved character who is simply there to tell the tale.

Subjective VS Objective

A subjective narrator is one that describes the feelings, opinions and thoughts of the protagonist, while an objective narrator only puts forth the events as they happen, untainted by the feelings and thoughts of any character.

Omniscient VS Limited

The difference between the two is simply a difference in the knowledge they have and is available to them. An Omniscient narrator knows it all, sees it all, hears it all. A Limited Narrator only knows what the character knows and sees and hears what the character sees and hears.

Alternating PoV:

Of course all different PoVs are tools and nothing more. A writer can mix and match what he likes, change between different styles of PoV and even change between PoV characters or even from First to Second to Third person PoV.

My personal favorite is Third Person Limited and Subjective but with a couple of PoV Characters to give the whole scope of the story.
What is your favorite PoV to use?

~Harris

Intro | View | Voice | Time

Every Artist is a Child

Life is hard. Life is difficult and as we grow up and we grow old, life likes to slap us and know us down, dedicated in teaching us important “lessons”.

Ever so slowly, we lose our fearlessness, our passion and our wonder. We no longer see the world as a child does, with pure joy at every little discovery, with the need to explore, create and satisfy our thirsty curiosity.

Life teaches us to be afraid, to stay put and mind our business. Life, experience and knowledge help bury that child inside each of us.

But an artist needs those qualities. An artist needs to be a child, to look at the world with wonder and joy, to feel no fear, or anything that can hinder or block the creativity and the curiosity that powers his work.

In his heart, every artist remains a child and every child is born an artist. It’s just a matter of whether or not he will let life and growing old and weary stop him in any way.

All about Narration : Introduction

What is Narration?

Narration is the writing of a story. It is the way the words come together. It is all the little choices a writer makes. The narrator, the tense, the person.
There are a lot of different combinations a writer can use to get the best result for the story. A narrator who is also a character and tells the story in first person and present tense? An omniscient narrator in third person and past tense?

There are a many different combinations and it all comes down to the writer and what his story wants to tell.

What makes up Narration though?

First, it’s the Point of View (PoV) or the Narrator. The person telling the story.

Secondly, it’s Voice. Or, How the story is conveyed to the audience?
And Lastly, it’s Time. Past, Present and Future tenses can give a completely different feel to a story.

~ Harris

Intro | View | Voice | Time