Book Review: Heir of Ashes

Jina Bazzar’s debut fantasy novel Heir of Ashes reads at a pace that left me breathless. The action is non-stop, and if you enjoy a powerful female protagonist, you’ve found her in Roxanne Fosch. The book was just re-released by Creativia Publishing (congrats, Jina!) and I’m delighted to share my review.

But, of course, I had to learn a little more about Jina first. She was gracious enough to answer two questions. The first focused on her writing style and how she went about developing a plotline that’s so rip-roaring fast-paced and full of action! The second question was more personal. Jina is visually challenged, and I was curious about how that hampers her as a writer, as well as how it’s made her a better writer.

Here are her answers:

I’m a fan of anything fantasy. I also enjoy adventure/action-packed books. Add a little fairy magic and you get the perfect mix. So when I decided to give writing a try, it was no surprise I got the fantasy/action/fairy combination. I knew who my protagonist was, I knew she would be fighting for her freedom. I had the introduction, a vague notion of the middle, and the ending in mind. That’s as far as planning went.  

When I type, I let the story flow. Yes, I do lots of revisions but the pantser style feels somewhat gratifying.

As for my blindness, let me first say that being blind isn’t as hard as people believe it to be. Picture this: I see by touch, smell, sound (I don’t lick things, though I’ve been told I eat lunch while cooking). It’s a lot slower than just focusing your eyes at a point and sending that image to your brain. On the plus side, because I depend on my other senses to see, I’ve developed a sharper focus. I don’t have stronger hearing, I just pick up on the smallest nuances.

I can’t say being blind interferes with my writing, though I feel like I have an advantage other writers don’t: when I’m done typing, I turn on the automatic reader, lean back and listen to the flow. Most times, I can tell when the reader needs to take a breath – I add a comma here – or when the words jar, or when I need to add/delete something.

I do have a few peeves I believe I could manage if I could see:

Book formatting. No matter how many word tutorials I go through, I can’t get it right. Last year I thought I had it, but then a beta sent me an e-mail asking about the weird format.

Another peeve is the spell checker. If it doesn’t agree with my word choice, it highlights and suggests a similar sounding word. By and buy, cant and can’t, seize and cease, its and it’s… you get my point. Before I became aware of this evil plot, I’d correct and move on. But on the umpteenth revision, I realized some words sounded different, depending on where they fell in a sentence (remember, I pick up on small nuances).

And so I started checking some words letter by letter before correcting or not. That’s when I learned I had another foe: auto-correct.

And now, on to the review of Heir of Ashes.

If you’ve been looking for an electrifyingly fast-paced, paranormal book with a kick-ass female protagonist, this is it! Hold on to your seat and get ready for the ride. Never a dull moment and no mushy stuff in this book. She’s saving men more than they’re saving her.

Roxanne Fosch had preternatural abilities, but she doesn’t know the extent of her power and has only a sketchy idea of her past. Her adolescence was spent in a government research facility as a test subject, a place she escaped from a year before the book’s opening page.

Roxanne dreams of a normal life, and she wants to understand who and why she is, dreams and questions that will have to wait. The book is basically a chase as the morally corrupt researchers and their paramilitary goons try to recapture Roxanne. But the book is much more complex than that as other factions and interest groups help and hinder her. She has little trust for anyone, and the reader is left to question motives as well.

The story is told in 1st person from Roxanne’s point of view, and therefore the reader gets to experience some of the vulnerability that she rarely shows on the outside. She’s one tough cookie when baring her face to the world. This dichotomy makes her interesting and thoroughly believable. All of the characters are well-rounded and the dialog is natural and effortless.

A world full of preternatural beings is a given in this book with minimal backstory as to how this came to be, though Roxanne’s ancestral origins are eventually revealed. There are parallel worlds, werewolves, vampires, shapeshifters, Celtic fae (called the fee), and other monsters. The range of powerful abilities covers a wide spectrum where some, like Roxanne’s, are yet to be fully defined.

Above all, the action is non-stop, and there were plenty of times when I had no idea how Bazzar was going to get her protagonist out of the mess she put her in. Not all of my questions were answered about Roxanne’s journey, the other characters, and the factions at play, but this is the first book in the series, and I could see the preparation for book two.

I highly recommend this book to readers of speculative fiction, and anyone who loves high-action, fast-paced stories, and powerful female protagonists.

**

Happy Reading!

124 thoughts on “Book Review: Heir of Ashes

  1. I love that you give us a little behind-the-scenes creative context, Diana, before launching into a stellar review! It invests me so much more fully than a summary of something I’ve never heard of otherwise would!

    Liked by 1 person

    • When I really enjoy a book, I like sharing something about the author and his/her process. Jina’s debut novel was impressive, and I look forward to more of her writing. 🙂 Plus she’s just a lovely person!

      Like

  2. A fascinating write! Jina is an amazing author! A wonderfully, endorsed review!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. inesephoto says:

    A great review, Diana! Congratulations to Jina, and best of luck with the book!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. ESP says:

    I am not reading this review now, because spoilers or none I want to read it without influence 🙂 will revisit this post.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. A great book review, Diana. It sounds like a book many would like. You didn’t say that I could find but it sounds like the kind Young Adults would favor. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. 🙂 — Suzanne

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks for stopping by, Suzanne. I agree that YA audiences would love this. It has the same feel as The Hunger Games. I hope you have a wonderful day, and Happy Thanksgiving!

      Liked by 2 people

    • Jina Bazzar says:

      Hi Suzanne, thanks for reading Diana’s wonderful review. Strictly saying, Heir of Ashes targets the new adult audience, but i’ve seen some of the readers tag it as ya. It all comes back to the reader’s perception at the end. Thanks for the comment and have a great weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. A fascinating interview with a strong author – no wonder her protagonist is so strong! I focused on every word she spoke about being blind and a writer. I applaud her determination and her ability to write a spell-binding tale – despite problems with formatting and good ole spell check.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Excellent review, and interesting interview. Absolutely love your description of no mushy stuff – sometimes you just want a fast-paced thrill of a book! Happy Holidays, Diana!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Jina Bazzar says:

      Thanks. I was thrilled to no end when Diana invited me over. Her review is one of the best I’ve ever had. Have a nice day.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Mary. I like including little interviews with my reviews and never get tired of learning about other authors. Yeah, no mushy stuff. It’s not that I’m anti-romance, but for me, too much swooning, ambivalence, and body-drooling makes me roll my eyes. Jina’s hints of romantic possibilities was perfect – just enough to show the MC’s loneliness and lack of trust. We’ll see what happens in book two. 🙂 Thanks for the visit and Happy Thanksgiving!

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Love the interview, Diana and Jina! And this story sounds fascinating–great review! Another add to my TBR list!

    Liked by 3 people

  9. TheTaskGirl says:

    Great review, I can’t wait to read this now! BTW, Thanks for the follow 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Teri Polen says:

    This sounds wonderful, Jina – how have I missed this book? It has several elements that always draw me in. Excellent review, Diana!

    Liked by 3 people

  11. cath says:

    An interesting interview, Diana. jina’s experiences with word-processing highlight how much we (I) take for granted.

    I do like the sound of Heir of Ashes, will have to seek it out.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. dgkaye says:

    Sounds like some kick-ass review Diana! And Jina sounds awesome too! I’m with her on formatting – still something I hire out , lol. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  13. This is a fascinating author interview, Diana. Advantages and disadvantages to being blind I would never have thought of. A great sounding book too.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m always amazed at all the different kinds of obstacles people face and how they persevere and do what they love. It’s inspiring, and reminds me how little I have to complain about. Lol. The book is a blast for readers of speculative fiction and recommended. 🙂 Thanks so much for the visit. Have a wonderful week!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Jina Bazzar says:

      Hi Robbie, thanks for reading. It’s no chocolate and sweet recipes there, but i assure i ate a lot of them while putting the protagonist between a rock and a hard place. It’s been a great journey so far. have a nice day.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. rijanjks says:

    I loved the author’s answers to the questions. So upbeat despite her disability. The review is astounding!

    Liked by 2 people

  15. For a debut novel, this sounds amazing. I do love kick-ass female protagonists and this one has a lot going for her. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 2 people

  16. acflory says:

    I am in awe! Congratulations Jina, the book sounds like a lot of fun. One question though, do you write to music or would that be too distracting?

    Liked by 2 people

  17. KL Wagoner says:

    Thanks for the recommendation. I’ll have to give it a read.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Congratulations on your new book, Jina! ❤ Outstanding review by Diana today. I enjoyed having a chance to learn a bit about you and your writing. Sharing…

    Liked by 2 people

  19. What a wonderful introduction to a talented writer…I could sense the excitement you felt as you read Jina’s words…her answers to your questions revealed a lovely person we would all love to know!

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Sarah says:

    Wow! I’m definitely hooked – fast paced action and a strong female character can do that to me. 😉 Great review, Diana! And all the best to Jina and her first book in this very promising series!

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Jina’s book sounds great! Gotta love a tough female 🙂
    Best of luck!

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Hi Diana. What a pleasure to meet Jina. The title is a great hook and thank you for describing how packed with action the story is — just what I like.
    I admire that Jina diminishes the challenges she faces. She’s developed skills to deal with the lack of sight. However, I’m legally blind without my glasses. So I have some idea of what she faces. I think she’s positively heroic. Wishing her huge success. A great big hug to you both.

    Liked by 3 people

  23. Sounds great! Congrats, Jina!

    Liked by 2 people

  24. balroop2013 says:

    I can discern your joy from the way you have reviewed this book Diana, as this is your favorite genre. I am amazed at Jina’s talent and how she deals with her challenges with a smiling spirit. Wishing her great success with her debut fantasy novel and thanks for sharing a compelling review.

    Liked by 3 people

  25. Annika Perry says:

    Wow! A spell-binding review, Diana and high praise indeed from a gifted fantasy writer as yourself! I was breathless reading about Roxanne and the non-stop action … I like the idea of first person narrative and that through this Roxanne’s vulnerable side is revealed. Jina, I’m in awe … your book sounds fantastic, and I am impressed with the myriad of amazing beings that Roxanne encounters. Congratulations on this superb review and I imagine you’ll be smiling for days! It was interesting learning about your writing technique … yeah, another panster! I can well imagine that listening to the book, what you’ve written definitely allows you to pick up on nuances and cadence within the writing that many of us miss … but as you say formatting and same sounding words is still a huge issue. You have my respect for your patience and your positive spirit is inspirational. Wishing you the best with the rest of the series. 😀

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks so much for the great comment, Annika. I really enjoyed the book and felt like I learned a few things about action … that technique of putting your characters in a tough spot and then instead of solving it, making it worse! Ha ha. It was a fun, fast read, and I was delighted to review. Have a wonderful week and Happy Writing!

      Liked by 2 people

    • Jina Bazzar says:

      Annika, i not only have a big smile, but i’m also very flattered. Thank you for taking the time to read and leave this comment with all these beautiful words.

      Liked by 2 people

  26. janmalique says:

    Sounds gripping and quite exciting Diana. Nina has written a gem that could translate well to either TV or film.

    Liked by 2 people

  27. Jina and her book sound wonderful. Thanks Diana.

    Liked by 2 people

  28. It was wonderful to learn more about Jina…she’s such an inspiration. Thanks for hosting, Diana!

    Liked by 3 people

  29. What a terrific endorsement, Diana. Jina’s book sounds amazing and it is so interesting to learn about her success as a writer despite her visual challenges. Just goes to show you – talent cannot be suppressed in those who persevere!

    Liked by 4 people

  30. Jina Bazzar says:

    Thank you Diana, for this wonderful opportunity to be featured here on your blog.

    Liked by 3 people

Comments are warmly welcomed. Don't be shy .

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s