November 9, 2016

Unquiet Land | Review, Interview with Sharon Shinn + Giveaway!

It is such an honor to have Sharon Shinn on the blog today! Just a month ago, I was sharing my thoughts on Troubled Waters and gushing about how I binge read the rest of the Elemental Blessings series. Now, not only did I get to read the fourth book Unquiet Land a bit early but I'm getting this awesome opportunity to chat with an author I admire. I'll share my review first and then it'll be onto the interview. (Plus there's a giveaway so make sure you keep reading until the end!)

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pub 11/1/16 by Ace
Adult - Fantasy
Received e-ARC via Netgalley
Unquiet Land introduces another memorable heroine with Leah Frothen. After years spent away in a foreign land working as a spy for Darien Serlast, Leah has finally returned to her homeland of Welch. Settling in means having to face people she's long avoided and most importantly of all, get to know the daughter she abandoned five years ago. But Darien isn't done employing Leah and it isn't before long that she has another assignment that involves opening a shop catering to foreign visitors. This is when things really start to get interesting. Having Leah at the center of this shop and involved with Darien meant we got to be reunited with all the characters. (Well, almost all.) And it felt like seeing old friends again. It reminded why I got so hooked on this series in the first place. I love the individuals, the relationships, their every day interactions and all the traditions unique to Welch. But the book is ultimately about Leah and I was very much drawn to her plight. In the midst of a fantasy novel is a woman going through something quite real. She got her heartbroken, found out she was pregnant and then didn't know how to deal with becoming a mother. And from the moment she returns, she makes the effort to get to know her daughter and truly loves her. It really warmed my heart to watch them bond and create an atypical family of their own with the people around them. It also helps that most of those people have pretty cool abilities which only added to my enjoyment of the story overall. 

Do I recommend? You all know the answer is yes! If you're looking for a new fantasy series to read. I can't recommend this one enough. 

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Now time for the interview!

Hi Sharon! Thank you for joining me on the blog today. I recently binge-read the entire Elemental Blessings series so I'm incredibly honored to have this chance to speak with you. While reading your books, I was so amazed by the detail that went into the world, its traditions and the different connections between all the characters. It really made everything come alive for me. What was the inspiration for this series? 
Thank you for inviting me!

I had the idea for Troubled Waters so long ago that it’s hard to remember the origins. I knew that I wanted my heroine to be someone affiliated with the element of water, but not to realize that she had power over it. For the longest time, the image that was in my mind most vividly was of Zoe camping out down by the Marisi River. Once she arrived, the river behaved itself; the rain never came at night to trouble the campers. No one, even Zoe, realized why this was. I also knew that by the end of the book she would use her power over water in a dramatic fashion to save a child from an awful fate. 

The details about the blessings came much later, only a few months before I started writing the book. And then I spent HOURS trying to figure out which blessings should be associated with each element. The blessings not only needed to make sense for each element, but they needed to offer intriguing possibilities for me to use as plot points if I went on to write additional books in this world. (Obviously I did, but I hadn’t planned any of those later books when I was writing the first one!)

One of my favorite things about your books is how characters affiliate themselves with elements and blessings. I consider myself to be coru with a bit of sweela (it should come as no surprise that Zoe is my favorite heroine!) and I was wondering, which elements resonate most with you? 
I can be stubborn, loyal, and intransigent, so I figure I’m somewhere between hunti and torz. Because I have a creative side, I like to think there’s a little sweela thrown in too! I’m afraid there’s very little coru or elay in me, though I have close friends who are both. 

Each of your heroines are so different and while I already mentioned that Zoe is my favorite, the truth is I loved them all. Each of their stories was a fantastic journey and I'd love hear more of your thoughts on them. Whose voice was easiest to write? Do you have a soft spot for one (or all) of them? And what made you decide to feature Leah in Unquiet Land
Leah was the one who was probably easiest to write because her story arc was clear to me from the beginning. I knew a fair bit about her from her appearances in Jeweled Fire, and I knew that I wanted to give her a shot at a happy ending. Plus I enjoyed returning to Welce after spending a whole book away from it.

Zoe was the most difficult to write because she was a cipher, even to herself, at least at the beginning. And because she’s coru, she could reverse course at any point! Also, I was building the world while I was writing her story, so I had to come up with all those physical details while also putting her plotline together. So she was the hardest of the heroines to write—in her own book. She was easy and a great deal of fun to write when she made appearances in the sequels. 

Corene was a challenge because I wanted her to be self-centered and thoughtless but not completely unlikable. I wanted readers to understand why she was the way she was, and start cheering for her when she began figuring out her own life. 

Josetta was a bit of a challenge, too, because she’s such a good person! We all love good people in real life, but they aren’t always as interesting in fiction. But I kind of wish I knew her.

And I have soft spots for all of them. I can’t help it. ☺

See the full blessings here!
And final question -- because I couldn't resist -- but if you had to choose blessings for today, what would they be?
Well, let me go to the bowl of blessings on my desk and pick three! They are: clarity, joy, and honor. 

On my Facebook page, sharonshinnbooks, I post three blessings every Monday morning. Readers often write in to tell the blessings they’ve picked too. Anyone who wants to make their own set can go to http://www.sharonshinn.net/troubledwaters/, where my webmaster has created a beautiful set of blessings that are available as a printable page. 

And now, because you have been so kind as to invite me to your blog, I’ll pick three blessings for you: determination, intelligence, and courage. Interesting blessings for someone who’s coru!

Thanks again for having me.

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Thank you again Sharon for being on the blog today! I've teamed up with the publisher to host a giveaway of one copy of Unquiet Land and it's open to US/Canada residents. It'll run until Wed, Nov 23 so make sure to enter below!

3 comments:

  1. This interview with Sharon is so great! I loved hearing about how she came up with the characters, and I think it's absolutely fab that she keeps up with picking blessings on her Facebook page :)

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  2. I really liked this interview, I get the feeling that I'll enjoy these heroines each sounds nicely different from the other. I haven't read anything by Sharon Shinn, but I've seen her books on quite a few blogs recently so I'd like to try them, especially since I haven't read much fantasy lately.

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