Blog Book Tour | “Commanding the Red Lotus” (a novel in a triptych of novellas) by R.J. Sullivan

Posted Sunday, 3 July, 2016 by jorielov , , , , , , 5 Comments

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Acquired Book By:

I was selected to be a stop on the “Commanding the Red Lotus” blog tour from Seventh Star Press. The tour is hosted by Tomorrow Comes Media who does the publicity and blog tours for Seventh Star Press and other Indie and/or Self Published authors. I received a complimentary copy of “Commanding the Red Lotus” direct from the author R.J. Sullivan in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I love reading R.J. Sullivan stories:

Even whilst I was becoming first introduced to Sullivan’s style of writing within the pages of Virtual Blue and finding it was quite a bit too intense for me overall to appreciate in a fuller capacity than the one I expressed on my review; there as an inkling of a style I wanted to read more of, to see what else this author could create that might allow me the grace to soak inside his other stories with a happier heart. It wasn’t that Virtual Blue was too far outside of an Urban Fantasy I’d love, but it was the Horror undertones that nudged it a bit past the envelope of what I can pleasantly say agrees with me. No, instead, it simply gave me a glimpse into the craft of how a story is assembled and granted me a reason to keep my eyes peeled for further releases by the author.

The next chance I took was on behalf of Darkness with a Chance of Whimsy – an anthology collection of short stories written over an expanse of a decade – wherein I found the style I had snuck a glimpse at previously & happily found more than a few shorts that I truly enjoyed reading! It was such a happy discovery for me, and it was a great second-step into Sullivan’s collective works before I turnt my eye towards his Classically told Space Opera threading through the Red Lotus series!

I was quite surprised finding Sullivan has a softer and more intuitive side to his writings, as I came into his collective works through the Dark Fantasy and Horror side of the ledger! Immediately as I was settling into what became my favourite short (‘The Assurance Salesman’) I recognised he has a lot of heart and depth of purpose towards how he paints a story with emotional conviction and centering on the intricate complexity of exploring the depth of the human soul. He enriches his audience with thought-provoking stories which stir a knowing sense the writer has fully embraced the moment of his inspiration to tell them and given a wicked read to his readers (who like me) might not have found their ‘niche’ within his writings until now! -quoted from my Darkness with a Chance of Whimsy review

I also like how there is a lot of optimism running in the background of his stories – even in Virtual Blue, there were moments where all hope was never quite lost even if everything felt rather impossibly difficult to return to any sort of normalcy afterwards. I like to see the light flickering back through any level of darkness a character has to encounter, but I also, love a certain nod of cheeky humour, humbling arcs of a character’s journey and a story owning its genre by how it’s crafted to shine in its chosen world.

As I read part of the opening bits of Fate of the Red Lotus prior to composing my questions for the interview I showcased ahead of this review, you could say I felt I had become treated to a Classic Space Opera written from the prospective of a writer who knew how to fuse everything together that he personally loved himself inside his genre of choice! The more you learn about what drives Mr Sullivan’s own passion for Science Fiction, the more elements of inspiration you discover inside his stories. To me, this is a true blessing of reading an author you slowly start to become familiar with through their collective writings, their blog and/or the conversations or guest essays which feature another dimension of what makes their writing personally unique to their own imaginative eye!

Please note: I have a special anthology I’m reviewing for the Christmas 2016 Season (Gifts of the Magi) in which Mr Sullivan has a short story featured. I look forward to sharing my thoughts & impressions on behalf of that collection come December, however, the book shoppe it’s contributing towards is Indy Reads Books, a local establishment in Indianapolis, I first came to know through Sullivan & Ms Chris respectively and further still, through my readings of Indy Writes Books (an anthology for booklovers), a review that is forthcoming this week! I also have a special surprise for Mr Sullivan lateron this month on my blog, so due stay tuned if you love Science Fiction as I #FuellYourSciFi throughout JULY!Fun Stuff for Your Blog via

Notation on Cover Art: The only flicker of a question I had when I first saw this artwork was if that is Sayuri on the cover, why do I question if she’s Japanese!? She’s turnt away from the camera so to speak, so this might be what is throwing me off a bit about her cultural heritage, but for me – everything else on this cover bespoke of what I wanted to find inside the story! I love ramshackle ships, curiously fierce characters & a motley crew of opposites who find they have a bit more in common with each other than what first appearances might lend to understand! It even speaks of the aesthetic of what I personally feel ‘Space travelling’ might feel like to be a part of and that was a brilliant method of using art to capture a reader’s imagination at ‘hallo’!

Blog Book Tour | “Commanding the Red Lotus” (a novel in a triptych of novellas) by R.J. SullivanCommanding the Red Lotus
by R.J. Sullivan
Illustrator/Cover Designer: Enggar Adirasa
Source: Author via Seventh Star Press

Money Can’t Buy Respect

Sayuri Arai, privileged daughter of a corporate mogul, abandons a promising career to find her own path. She invests in a broken-down asteroid mining ship and steps in as the commander of its crew. Every day presents a new challenge just to keep her ship from falling apart and the bitter crew from killing each other. Can Sayuri unite the feuding factions, or will her rivals turn the entire complement against her?

Commanding the Red Lotus offers a classic sense of wonder for today’s science fiction readers.

Volume One of the Red Lotus Stories, now in softcover for the first time. Commanding the Red Lotus includes the previously released ebook novelettes:

Fate of the Red Lotus
Red Lotus: Innocence Lost
Plus the brand-new novella Mutiny on the Red Lotus

Genres: Anthology Collection of Short Stories and/or Essays, Short Story or Novella, Space Opera

Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781941706701

Also by this author: Virtual Blue, Darkness with a Chance of Whimsy, Gifts of the Magi

Published by Seventh Star Press

on 18th April, 2016

Format: Paperback Edition

Pages: 236

Published By: Seventh Star Press (@7thStarPress)
Available Formats: Softcover, E-book

Special Note on Sullivan’s blog about reading Fate of the Red Lotus FREE!

Converse via: #RedLotusNovel, #ShortStories & #7thStar

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Author Biography:

R.J. Sullivan

Best known for his ghost story thrillers, Commanding the Red Lotus is R.J.Sullivan’s fifth book and his first release in the genre he most adores. R.J.’s critically acclaimed, loosely connected ghost story trilogy and his short story collection are all available in paperback and ebook though Seventh Star Press. R.J. resides with his family in Heartland Crossing, Indiana. He drinks regularly from a Little Mermaid coffee mug and is man enough to admit it.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | GoodReads | Instagram

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Sayuri Arai, intrepid explorer who dared to write her stars:

Sayuri had her first taste of being a Spacer when she encouraged the skeleton crew left behind for the Red Lotus (amidst an urgent job search that had disrupted the lives of everyone on board) to take her out for a test run around Pandora, the station where the ship was docked. It was hard to recognise ahead of time how pivotal this request would become to determining Sayuri’s path as a Spacer, as a disgruntled ex-employee of her father’s chose to put lives in jeopardy rather than except the fate of a new beginning after years of dedicated service. It was during that eclipse of life & death reality where Sayuri truly started to feel alive – she saw a small vision of how she could change her stars simply by owning a path that filled a niche of her soul.

Sow stood and nodded. “Very well, Commander, I’ll tell it to you straight. The crew doesn’t trust you. They’re here because your paying them and they’re grateful not to be out of a job.”

“I want their loyalty.”

“You’ll have to earn their loyalty. Through actions, not words.”

“What about my role in stopping the attack? Doesn’t that count for anything?”

“Of course, that’s why you made it this far. That’s why I didn’t reject your offer the moment you revealed yourself.”

Sayuri stared, taken aback.

“Let me be clear. If you were just some daughter to the C.E.O. of the mining company, and you had made your offer to us, I would have taken our chances on Pandora, not one Spacer would have faulted me.” Sow motioned around the office. “But, you’re not. So you’re getting your shot. Make the most of it.”

-Dravin talks to Sayuri, page 43 from Fate of the Red Lotus within Commanding the Red Lotus

Sayuri would spend a lot of her time trying to own the trust and confidence Dravin saw inside her even at moments where she re-questioned her right for independence in a life she barely knew how to live. Each moment she succeeded as a Spacer was one step removed from her past and a firm bolt of confidence to her shouldering anxiety that she might be cut out for this kind of career afterall. I felt this passage spoke to the heart of what grounds the Red Lotus series on a center of focus of one woman’s coming-of age story as she emerges into a new chapter of life.

My Review of Commanding the Red Lotus:

Anthological Note: One could interpret this as a serial told through individual short stories inter-threading together to bridge into a novel set through a different set of perimeters; or you could view this as a traditional anthology of short stories wherein the old style of telling a serialised story has resumed in cleverly encapsulated installments. I chose to read this as one continuously told tale.

We enter through the lens of Sayuri, whose travelling to visit her reclusive father who would rather be on the space station than back home in Toyko. She grew up knowing her father was a workaholic, but one who loved her all the same; it’s an interesting parallel to how many us grow up with working fathers who do not have as much free time on their hands as they’d prefer. Sayuri is feeling reflectively melancholic about her future – her entire path nearly laid before her, giving her zero leeway to carve out her own mind about what she wanted to do. Her father’s reputation preceded her every milestone in her young life, granting her privileged choices but giving her a proper sense of self wherein she could stand on her own laurels outside the scope of where her father’s influences could reach.

Back on the station, her first intentions was to dive into a bite of comfort – for Sayuri it’s a specially made burger with custom fixings that she hadn’t realised how much she had been hankering until she could smell the burger’s aroma wafting a tease into her nose! If she hadn’t opted to eat, she would have missed the curious conversation she had with a returning Spacer (one who works on ships continuously) – of whom was both relieved and remorseful his time with the Red Lotus was ending. It had the personality of an old ship gone past it’s retirement but with the quirkiness of a well-loved car you simply could not help but continue to maintain. This was our first glimpse of seeing Sayuri attempting to ‘be herself’ without revealling her surname, with a bit of licence to flex her ability to stand separate from her father.

Sayuri’s brother Madoku is true-blue corporate, as he sees everything in dollars and bottom-line cost expenditures whereas Sayuri would rather approach a few things by heart with the consideration of others at the forefront. Their initial rift in discussing the fate of the Red Lotus itched at her conscience but there wasn’t too much she could do as her schedule on station was far more intensive than she could have conceived possible! Her life onboard Pandora started to stretch before her eyes – a life she wasn’t quite as certain she wanted to entertain.

An interesting turn of events precedes Sayuri’s act of independence away from her family’s business where she finds herself making a daring choice to choose her own path. It becomes as a jolt of shock to her brother and to Dravin (of whom she would have to work alongside on the Red Lotus) but for her father, it was a mark of personal growth on behalf of his daughter. He truly loved Sayuri (and her brother) and the choices she was going to be making for herself, but what truly saddened him the most was the lack of trust on behalf of his daughter to realise his devotion to her was unconditional. This gesture on her behalf to severe ties with the family business was far greater in scope when you add-in the reality of how she felt she couldn’t openly be honest about her intentions.

One of the best moments between Sayuri and her new partner Dravin as they set off towards Mars (their first official assignment as an independent mining ship) for me was seeing how Dravin stood up for Sayuri’s coffee addiction! I must confess – I never liked the taste of coffee until I was a year shy of twenty-ten, then of course, I became properly addicted to the java inside my cuppa! Laughs. I could understand Sayuri’s need for a jolt of caffeinated energy as throughout the three years I’ve been blogging, I’ve found coffee can do wonders for a book blogger! Mind you, I’m on a self-directed mission to re-fall back in love with fresh brewed tea but for now, yes, even I need some coffee every so often! It was a mark of personality quirk but also, something quite ordinary inside your life you’d never think you’d have to sacrifice due to gravity issues! I started to recollect moments on ST: TNG when crew members were conflicted about their own issues with foods and drinks when replicated versions fell short!

Aliandra Foster was the ship’s pilot and one of the first supporting cast members I took a liking towards as I appreciated her bold honesty in helping Sayuri understand the metrics of being a Spacer. There were certain differences in their upbringings for starters, but it was how she tried to cross the boundaries between them that I found to be quite lovely. Sayuri at this point in her short command was finding interactions with the crew stilted at best and awkward more readily. Sayuri truly wanted to be a fixture around the ship rather than someone who barely acknowledged her crew, but finding a working-relationship that worked for her was a work-in-progress. Although the life Foster imparted to Sayuri sounded hardening on some levels, it was reminiscent to a life in service from Victorian or Regency England. Children went to work at a large estate at similar tender ages, whilst earning their keep and learning how to live a life independent of their parents.

I had a smirk of a chuckle over the different protocols of social decorum between Spacers & Grounders (those who live on Earth for instance) – I felt Sullivan approached this with an openness that any reader would appreciate, especially as the treatment of the subject is not too adult nor too unapproachable for a younger reader whose smitten with science fiction. I could see teens enjoying this series – as I started reading more sci-fi as a teenager myself and longed for series just like this one to light my imagination with a wicked good story-line. I also appreciated how he went to instill small moments into the background of ship-life; little things you don’t necessarily think about (such as how you sleep without gravity) but are key components of a new life spent entirely in transit between different missions.

The hardest scene was the rescue of a prisoner on a pirate ship where a young boy was mistreated and abused before his life was saved. It was a silent moment of the harsh reality Sayuri was not quite prepared to meet head-on but true to her nature, she found new courage in accepting what she was naive about whilst determined to right the wrongs she encountered. Her choices were not traditional in how she approached conflict and the resolutions needed outside of them, but her approach was welcomed where out of the box ideas could render a crew to safety rather than to the grave. Sayuri grew more than a mile in her Spacer years due to the pirate attack and therein we start to see her emerge into her new role as the owner of the Red Lotus.

There is a strong life lesson threading through the Red Lotus series – one that brings to question the choices between brutality as a direct response to violence and a compassionate response that evokes the right to let law and justice have its due to find restitution for lives that were victimized. This turnt into a bit of an insurrection of personal ideals vs what is right for the crew as a whole as each Spacer was in conflict about what was a greater priority for them personally. I appreciated seeing the differences in opinion but also the way in which each Spacer approached how to articulate where they stood on the issues that could disrupt Sayuri’s dream to live independent of her father’s influence.

Sullivan also broaches the consequences of all actions and choices whilst in command; how mercy can boomerang back a harder choice later and how the lines between what is ethically right and what is morally right are hard lines to broker when facts are not as all-encompassing as they should be. Commanding a ship is harder than one might imagine because sometimes you have to act with limited knowledge and sometimes you have to make choices against your own mindset on different issues. The best way to command is to opt to make the choices that matter in the moment and hopefully not upset the apple cart down the road but life is not lived with foreknowledge which makes everything much more complicated to understand.

This is a well-thought out coming-of age story that grants us licence to understand how Sayuri rose in her strengths, yielded through her weaknesses and grew into the role she wanted most to have confidence to embody. Each step of the way, Sullivan is giving his readers something to consider, something to ponder and a greater scope of the greater good to be understood. This is thought-provoking science fiction and it’s a wicked good adventure, too!

On the Space Opera styling of R.J. Sullivan:

Straight from the moment you first enter into the universe of the Red Lotus, you gather a sense about where you are and how the setting affects the characters’ lives. There is something quite addictive to imagining how we’d live in the cosmos; as most of my generation grew-up with space dramas & series devouted to theory about how we’d live, conquer new worlds & explore with diplomatic inclinations towards those we had not yet met. It’s a startling wide range of where Speculative Fiction can take you visually, and thus, each writer in turn creates his or her own image of what that life might be for all of us in the near-future.

Personally, I like Sullivan’s approach as it matches well with elements of setting & of a code of living I first met inside The Clan Chronicles last November. Especially considering the culture mind-set of Spacers and the lifestyle of living off-world whilst honing in on your individual talents & skill sets therein. I love reading about the different approaches for Spacer culture, tradition & careers as it’s positively fascinating all the different routes you could cultivate as your own personal path to living completely independent of a settled life on a ‘world’.

Sullivan has created a wicked good Space adventure where you get everything your seeking (the drama, the danger & the conflicts associated with merging a crew together) whilst taking you to this culture of life lived not so far apart from our own timescape. It’s a vision of what a near-off future could involve and how both Spacers & Grounders can choose to learn from each other and co-habitat despite our seemingly canyon-wide differences that truly do not need to divide us in the end.

I am definitely looking forward to the next volume of Red Lotus stories, as I love how the novellas paint the portrait in a beautiful triptych style of inclusion in this first installment! I cannot wait to see what is going to happen next & which of the supporting cast starts to rise to shine in a greater spotlight than what was already disclosed! Lots of room for growth!

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A positive note on #DiverseSFF (an augmented variant to #WeNeedDiverseBooks) whilst I feel it also encompasses my own outlook on #EqualityInLit (see my Essay):

On page 48, Sullivan makes a small but powerful gesture towards progressive change in regards to Gender Equality & Self Identification. This is one reason I was drawn into the worlds of Science Fiction originally, because writers and creators of Science Fiction truly tried to cast an illusion of a world just out of sight but within a plausible distance to our own. Where certain things that cause such strife and conflict within our living reality might not even be an ‘issue’ at all anymore. Coming of age off the vision of Roddenberry’s Trek it’s easy to see why I was passionate about this side of the craft, but others, in the fictional stories rather than the stories set to motion have been doing this since Science Fiction began.

I openly support #WeNeedDiverseBooks – not because I joined a movement but because I’ve lived the movement before it was even created! I’ve always been an open-minded reader – it’s only since I became a book blogger I’ve had a platform to talk about the diversity of stories I consistently read & gather for my own personal library. You will find LGBTQIA Fiction & Non-Fiction as a pull-down option under my “Stories Index” on my top menu as all stories and posts are routed through this category thread or the one I established on my blog for #EqualityInLit as a cross-reference to my Twitter feeds and a continuance of my thoughts expressed on the essay.

I love championing writers who are stitching into their stories a world where everyone is openly accepted and can live with freedoms that are still being fought for in today’s 21st Century world. See my tweet s/o on behalf of the Advocacy for those rights and liberties being celebrated through #TrailBlazerHonors! I wish I could have been amongst the Allies who were attending! My soul was full of joy whilst the emotions of the night helped heal a part of my heart after the tragedy of the lives lost in Orlando. I included the ribbon of remembrance on my Twitter Profile which specifically symbolises #WeStandWithOrlando. (see Twibbon)

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A follow-up on our conversation (see Interview):

All that said, I’m frequently surprised how many readers see “Tom” as an antagonist in the story. I think his response to Sayuri’s choice is decidedly graceful and loving, given how he might have behaved

My reaction to this observation:

I completely agree with you – I did not feel Sayuri’s father was anything but kind-hearted & accepting of his daughter’s lifepath. In fact, it felt as if he was being misunderstood by his daughter because of how tight his relationship was with her brother; I think a bit of misplaced jealousy on her brother’s behalf was affecting her relationship with her father. I also think, in part, the jealousy was there because she felt her sibling had more flexible freedoms to sort out his life prior to when she was given that right herself. It’s a tricky observation to make, as siblings do have the tendency to have different reactions & memories of the same events, even criticising each other for having different childhoods. I think the truer issue was the fact Sayuri never quite felt she was in charge of her own destiny and that led her to misjudge her father’s reaction when she first had the chance to assert her independence. That doesn’t paint her father in a bad light necessarily but sometimes daughters & fathers have to work through hurdles that affect their relationships.

Anyone who interprets the name as symbolizing a passionate protagonist who blossoms into her own person is offering an interpretation that I would not deny.

My reaction to this observation:

I definitely agree the title ‘Red Lotus’ has a beautiful hidden layer of denoting how coming-of age and acquiring a new level of self-confidence in oneself can be applied to the series where Sayuri might not always command the ship she owns but she is in full command of her life.

I like Dawn Vareens, the I.T. specialist. I like her practical outlook on her position and the role she plays on the ship. I like Terch, the security guard, he’s not the brightest bulb among the crew but he’s loyal and he takes pride in his work. Engineer Keller is fun to write. She’s used to practically running things and now she’s challenged by Sayuri. My favorite character, though, is someone who comes in later in a plot twist and whose story becomes almost as important as Sayuri’s. I was really anxious about how that person’s story might work and I’m really happy with how it all tuned out.

My reaction to this observation:

I drew closer to Foster initially and my first impression of her sustained itself throughout my readings of the Red Lotus series thus far published. To me, Foster was far more accepting of someone who wanted to become involved with space life and carve out a new niche of a career that spoke to their adventurous nature moreso than a staid & true lifestyle on a station (the key difference between life in the field or in Corporate America in other words).

The Engineer was quirky at times and vexed by some of the curious malfunctions an older ship can take-on whilst it’s still continuing to have a heavy workload. The one character I hadn’t warmed too myself personally was Terch as he seemed to be stuck in a rut as far as his mindset was concerned. I do agree with Dawn’s character’s attributes – she’s a great compliment to the crew.

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This blog tour was courtesy of:

Seventh Star Press


Commanding the Red Lotus blog tour by Tomorrow Comes Media

as I am a proud tour hostess for:

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I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!

Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst bloggers who gravitate towards the same stories to read.

Bookish conversations are always welcome!

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Sunday, 3 July, 2016 by jorielov in #FuellYourSciFi, #JorieLovesIndies, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Book | Novel Extract, Book Cover | Notation on Design, Bookish Discussions, Coming-Of Age, Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, Equality In Literature, Fathers and Daughters, Indie Author, LGBTTQPlus Fiction | Non-Fiction, Life Shift, Multi-cultural Characters and/or Honest Representations of Ethnicity, Science Fiction, Space Opera, Space Science, Speculative Fiction, Tomorrow Comes Media, Vulgarity in Literature

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5 responses to “Blog Book Tour | “Commanding the Red Lotus” (a novel in a triptych of novellas) by R.J. Sullivan

    • Hallo, Hallo Mr Sullivan!

      It’s my absolute pleasure to showcase the stories I am reading by blogging the heart out of the books as they cross through my imagination! I love being a book blogger for this reason – to take the time to positively reflect & share my reactions to the stories as I am reading them. Bless you for giving me such a lovely insight into how my ruminations are touching the lives of authors – as please know the gratitude is returnt to all of you, who give me so many wicked happy hours of reading joy! I have a very special place in my readerly heart for Indie & Small Press authors – they are truly a delightful addition to my bookshelves!

      Thanks for writing such a wicked sweet Space Opera series I simply loved reading!

  1. Andrea ( aka rokinrev)

    Hey Jorie, this sounds like a great book…..its on my Amazon wish list…. sounds a bit like the Cinder series, and that was great….

    • *waves!*

      And, a very happy Hallo to you Andrea!

      I, fear, I’ve let a bit of time slip past us – interesting you’ve mentioned the Cinder series; this was earmarked to be read last year & I simply never had the pleasure of dipping inside it’s heart. I was tentatively thinking I’d try to read the whole series this upcoming #SciFiMonth (Sci-Fi November here on #JLASblog) as my local library has all of the stories attached to it! I wonder what captured you the most about the series!? I look forward to discussing it with you properly as I move through the books, lateron in the Autumn!

      Wicked happy hearing you’ve placed Commanding the Red Lotus on your A-Wish List! Such a lovely compliment on behalf of my review!

      • Andrea ( aka rokinrev)

        Cinder, and its successors are reworkings of “standard” fairy tales with steampunk overlay. I ran across Cinder as a free four chapter download, and was hooked! Yea, there are slow spots, but the characters are “sassy” and hugely intelligent, and,as you know, I don’t do “dumb”. My suggestion is Not to read them back to back….but read them.

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