Night of Ash (Odriel's Heirs #2.5) by Hayley Reese Chow
The night buries all Shadows...
After healing from the last battle with Idriel's Children, the young Shadow Heir, Aza Thane, once again finds herself at a magus's door looking for answers. There, she and her companions learn of a dark plot to raise an ancient demon necromancer in the corpse of a soul-eating monster and rush to the once great city of Austerden to stop it.
Racing toward a city on the brink of a massacre and still haunted by her past mistakes, Aza will have to learn to trust again if she wants to save anyone at all... including herself.
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5 out of 5 (exceptional)
NIGHT OF ASH is book 2.5 in the Odriel's Heirs series and we catch up with Aza and co as they recover from the last battle but realise the war isn't yet over.
It's not a long book and you will definitely have to have read at least Idriel's Children before this one but, oh man, it packs a wallop! The writing is so good, I was crying over a character I hardly met! Samar Bhalla is there and gone but what an impact he had. And that, my dears, is how good this author's writing is!
Night of Ash bridges the gap between Idriel's Children and Time Orphan, which I honestly can't wait for. Novellas aren't usually my thing but this one makes no apologies. It is bold and full of action, killing me with emotion. Absolutely fantastic and HIGHLY recommended by me. Just make sure you read the whole series.
** same worded review will appear elsewhere **
* A copy of this book was provided to me with no requirements for a review. I voluntarily read this book, and the comments here are my honest opinion. *
Archaeolibrarian - I Dig Good Books!
Small Potatoes Writer Seeks Improvement: Preferably pain-free, but not picky.
One of my mantras for writing and life in general is: Begin, Learn, Persevere. I could honestly write a post about the challenges, ups, and downs of each of these steps, but this year, with five books published and two more coming out this spring, I’ve got the “Learn” step on the brain. I measure my writing journey in terms of growth, so I wanted to share the resources and methods I’ve used to try to improve my writing.
Writing Craft Books
Fresh out of school and writing my first book ever, my dad actually sparked this concept when he dropped Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. in my lap. Old as the hills and just as timeless, this book held quite a few concepts that were new to me and helped smooth my writing style on a sentence level.
From there, I’ve branched out through the years to other craft books recommended by other writers. On Writing by Stephen King also highlighted new writing tools I could use as well as how to persevere through the writing journey. Save the Cat Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody revolutionized plotting for me and Story Genius by Lisa Cron provided a lightbulb moment on compelling characters. The Emotional Thesaurus by Becca Puglisi and Angela Ackerman also sits on my desk and has helped me expand and thicken character emotions and depth. I also want to mention Brandon Sanderson’s lectures on Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy which he posts for free on Youtube. These are excellent resources on craft, and I learned so much from watching them. I’m so thankful someone clued me in on these a couple of years ago.
While by no means a one-stop solution, I find craft books to be an excellent way to start the growth process. They’re low on both time and cost commitment and I’m always on the lookout for new recommendations.
Critique Partners (CPs) were my next, most important discovery. When people ask me the number one thing that’s improved my writing, this is it. I’ve found them all over the place (Goodreads, social media, critiquematch.com), but mostly on Twitter.
Some CPs aren’t a good fit and not all of their feedback is helpful, but good CPs have brought me so many epiphanies and taught me so much both through their writing and their insights on my own. They’ve been my fellow commiserators, my celebrators, my brainstormers, the Sam to my Frodo, and the Frodo to my Sam. Whether I’ve swapped one chapter with them or dozens, I’ve learned from every single one, and I’m so grateful for the time and knowledge they’ve shared with me.
Next, I investigated professional beta readers and editors. Although they’re offering the same level of feedback, this is where I could invest money instead of time. While there’s not a relationship component like there is with my CPs, it brings with it the additional objectivity of a professional in the industry or more casual, sharp-eyed readers—both perspectives which I highly value. I try to move around between editors and beta readers instead of using a specific one so that I can learn from different people, and a lot of the feedback I’ve received has been invaluable.
I always have to laugh when people ask me if I read reviews. I can only hope one day I’ll have too many to feasibly read, but as a small potatoes author desperately trying to improve, I read every. Single. One. The caveat here is that I know my books aren’t for everyone, and some reviews aren’t constructive. However, this is the most honest feedback I can ask for, and seeing patterns in the reviews lends to my self-awareness moving forward. Calling my attention to my flaws (and strengths) definitely has helped me to address and leverage them in future works, and that’s the kind of growth I’m looking for. Most casual readers don’t review books, but I’ve found ARC-listing sites like BookSirens and NetGalley to be deeply helpful in finding readers that will also review.
In this same vein, reviewing other books has also helped me tremendously. It sharpens my own critiquing skills while both inspiring me and making me distinguish the things I love (and hate) in different stories. As an added bonus, it also helps me give back to the writing community that has given me so much.
The Next Book
Which leads me to the last thing learning resource: writing that next book. All of my books are flawed, and they always will be. But revision and editing can only go so far. At some point, I have to accept that I’ve made the book as good as I can with my current skills, then it’s time to use what I’ve learned to start a new adventure.
Sometimes it can be tough to read early books and compare them to my recent works, but in the end, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Because it’s clear proof of how much I’ve learned and improved—of how far I’ve come on this writing journey. And although I’ve still got a long way to go, I’ll gladly take that next step. I’ll begin, learn, and persevere. Because I’m here for growth. I’m here to enjoy every step along the way, because it’s paved with books and words and stories, and I love each and every one.
Hayley Reese Chow has short and flash fiction featured or upcoming in Lite Lit One, The Drabble, Bewildering Stories, Teleport Magazine, and Rogue Blades Entertainment’s omnibus, AS YOU WISH!
Until recently though, she's mostly done a lot of things that have nothing at all to do with writing. Her hat collection includes mother, wife, engineer, USAF veteran, reservist, four-time All American fencer, 100 mile ultramarathoner, triathlete, world traveler, voracious reader, and super nerd. Hayley currently lives in Florida with two small wild boys, her long-suffering husband, and her miniature ragehound.
But at night, when the house is still, she writes.
To find Hayley's other stories and see what she's working on next, check out hayleyreesechow.com. You can also find her on Twitter or Instagram @HayleyReeseChow.
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