Thursday, June 27, 2013

Review + Interview ~ Beyond the Plains by Travis Bughi

Genre: YA Fantasy
Series and number: World of Myth #1
Number of pages: 171
Edition: mobi ebook
Published: Published October 14th 2011
Link to Goodreads page

Goodreads description:

Emily Stout has always known a simple life of harsh farming, avoiding thunderbirds, and dealing with minotaurs and gnomes. Born and raised on the Great Plains, she’s always dreamed of more. She’s dreamed of being a wandering gunslinger, a valiant knight, or anything else that could take her beyond her simple, trapped life. On her 16th birthday, she gets that chance. As tragedy strikes the Stout family, Emily’s mother reveals to her a secret that has been kept hidden for far too long. It is a secret that will send Emily to the magnificent city of Lucifan, a city ruled by angels. But Lucifan is not the utopia it appears to be. There are brutal ogres, terrifying gargoyles, plotting leprechauns, and many other dangerous creatures with equally dark and deadly plans. Emily’s life has only begun to be turned upside down, and she’ll need more than her wit to come out of it alive.

My review:

Rating: 4.5 stars
Date read: June 21-23, 2013
Source: received from author for showing interest in the book on a giveaway

I rated this book 4.5 stars (rounded down on Goodreads), but honestly, it can easily be either a five star or rounded up to one. It just depends on the reader and his or her interest level in fantasy novels. I do read some books like this—the fantasy kind set in a new world—but I tend to not get into them as much as other genres. So, my rating is based on that; it's not based on an author disappointing me some way in his writing (like most of my rounded-down ratings are a result of).

Beyond the Plains was very well written. It wasn't like other books I've read recently (that were given to me by an author) where some areas tended to be awkward with choppy sentences, where some parts didn't quite fit in—that sort of thing. This book didn't have those problems. It flowed really well, and just left me with the impression that the author knows how to write well. Sure, there were a few grammatical and spelling errors, but there was a lot less than in other books similarly published.

As for the content of the book, I loved it. I loved how I was actually introduced to the world, instead of just thrown into it. It wasn't a dry and boring intro, though, where everything needed to be explained before the story actually started. The world building was built into the story and plot, so that new things were explained when the time came for it. It didn't leave me confused about certain elements about the Great Plains or Lucifan.

Part of those "new things" included the introduction of different mythological creatures. There were gnomes, banshees, behemoths, unicorns, ogres, angels, and so many more. Each one was explained  at least a little—not one of them was just put into the story without some sort of description to go with it. I wasn't left wondering what the creatures were or what they looked like. I loved how unicorns were basically horses. I loved how Lucifan was founded by five angels, not gods, and how they were guarded by colossi. I loved how the knights rode pegasi, how leprechauns were guarded by purple ogres, how the amazons fashioned bows from treants, and how gunslingers hunted behemoths.

What made me truly love those things, though, wasn't just the mere presence of them
—it was their descriptions. They were very well described, and vividly so. I could get a very good picture in my head painted when a new person, creature, or setting was introduced. They were the types of descriptions that made me want to not just read them, but also see them. (I kept thinking while reading that someone artistic should give creating pictures of the different creatures in the book a try.) My personal favorite was the thunderbirds. I was a little awed by them, but sort of scared at the same time. The behemoths were also pretty cool—I found the mental image of those massive things with stubby legs and beady little eyes hilarious.

Honestly, I could go on and on about the things that make this book great, but I'll just go into one more element. Emily was an amazing heroine. I loved how she didn't possess any super amazing qualities that made her more special than everyone else. Actually, she was just a normal girl from the plains who had an incredible thirst for adventure. When given the opportunity for it, she grabbed a hold of it and decided to give it her all. She had a lot of growth to go, and that is what I liked about her. I know she will develop into a very strong character in later books. She will transform into someone that isn't just some plains girl that is so easily underestimated. That's why Emily was a great character—not because she was spectacular in this book, but because she has the ability to become it later.

More people should read this book and give it more attention. Many probably glance at this book and not think much of it, but it might surprise you. I highly recommend giving it a try.


Now, an interview with the author

I was introduced to reading at a young age. My mother was determined that I become literate quickly and would read to me often, so much so that I memorized an entire 60-page book.
My grandmother, though, takes credit for my addiction to reading. She was a librarian and introduced me to the joy that is reading. It is no coincidence my entire World of Myth series is dedicated to her.

My journey from avid reader to aspiring author took its first turn in High School after I read Dune by Frank Herbert. It was a great challenge for me at the age of 14, but I was so impressed with it that I began to imagine my own stories.

What I wish to accomplish as an author is do for my readers what I want other authors to do for me. I wish to be transported to another world when I read books. I want to get so absorbed that I lose track of everything around me. I remember one time I was so sucked into reading a novel that I didn't even realize my fiance was trying to vacuum under my feet!

If I can accomplish this for you, then I have done my duty. Good luck, and happy hunting.

Check out his other books:
World of Myth #2

World of Myth #3
Anti-bullying memoir
War novel (Amazon)

Now that you know a little about the author and his books (especially the one I reviewed) . . . 

Here are the Q's and A's with Travis

Q: What inspired you to start writing the series?

It was August 2010. I'd just finished my first novel and was considering starting a trilogy I'd had in mind since I was 14 (a sort of medieval fiction). Then I started watching some TV with my girlfriend at the time (now wife), who was watching Animal Planet's Top 10 Venomous Creatures. Sometime during that show, the idea of a main character traveling from one end of a deadly world to another, getting stronger with each encounter and place they visited, formed, and by the time the show ended I had the basis for this entire series embedded in my head. From there, I spent a few weeks planning, researching, and plotting before I began to write. A year later, I finished and published the first in the series.

Q: There are many supernatural/mythological creatures in the books. I particularly like the thunderbirds. Which would your favorite be?

The thunderbirds are pretty wicked. Grace and power rarely have such a solitary meeting. However, my favorite would have to be the angels. They were surprisingly fun to write, a bit challenging to portray, and I consider them unique in design. They are among the small pool of mythological creatures who were created to help humans, and I enjoyed giving the "good guys" such powerful allies in a world so full of enemies.

Q: If you were in the world of your books, where would you want to live most and why? The Great Plains or Lucifan? Or another place that I wasn't introduced to in Beyond the Plains?

Eh, good question. I lie somewhere between Emily and her father; I love to travel, but I also like the quiet life at home. I'd probably live in the Great Plains, but close enough to Lucifan that I could travel there for some excitement if need be. I wouldn't much want to live in any other parts of the world Emily is about to visit. The Great Plains looks very tame in comparison to places like the forest of Angor.

Q: What can I expect in the next two books in the series, The Forest of Angor and The Fall of Lucifan?

You can expect Emily to grow and continue on. You'll find the restlessness in her heart is not easily satisfied, and her thirst for knowledge practically unquenchable. She's a quick learner, too, which is going to be an invaluable asset. There is so grand a world out there that it couldn't possibly be fully explained in so short a time. Emily's story has barely begun.

Q: Can you tell me a little about the other two books you've written outside of the World of Myth series?

The first one I wrote is called A Lack of Planning. It's a contemporary war novel that follows three high school/college aged friends when World War III hits the West Coast of America. This isn't Red Dawn though where somehow a bunch of kids fight off an entire army. These three guys are running for their lives, and the realities of war quickly take their toll on them.

The other is a short anti-bullying memoir about my own experiences with bullying in school. I struggled with thoughts of suicide early on, and after I moved on from that life, I decided I couldn't handle watching another bullied kid commit suicide without trying to do something about it. So I wrote my story in the hopes that it will help those out there who are still struggling.

Q: Other than writing, what do you do?

For money? Outside of writing, I'm a property appraiser. I work for the government and generally enjoy the work and the people I work with. My only real complaint is that it takes time away from getting to write but hey, that's life.

For fun? Beyond reading, I like traveling. I've been to four different countries, and roughly 30 of the states in the US, including Alaska and Hawaii. I like camping as well, and also consider myself a decent nerd. Not just video games, I go as deep as D&D, getting together with my friends roughly once a week.

Q: What is one of your all-time favorite books?

My all-time favorite book is Dune by Frank Herbert. I read it when I was fourteen, and it absolutely blew me away. It's one of the few things I've been an avid fan of. After reading it, I watched both the movies that were made out of it and played the video games based on the series, too. I read the rest of the series, and that was also the first book I read that made me want to write.

Other books I've thoroughly enjoyed were the Everworld series by Katherine Applegate and The Warlord Chronicles by Bernard Cornwell. Though it was really R.L. Stine that got me addicted to reading when I was young, I don't consider his work among my all-time favorites.

Thank you, Travis, for answering my questions!

I have a few responses:
  • The angels in Beyond the Plains do seem pretty unique. I'm looking forward to seeing more from them in Forest of Angor
  • From what I've read, the Forest of Angor seems like a pretty dangerous place, so I don't think I would want to live there either. 
  • It seems like Travis is doing his part to help others with his memoir. I really admire that because he isn't just sitting back and doing nothing with past experiences that can really make an impact on people.
  • Travis seems to share the same wanderlust as Emily, the main character in Beyond the Plains, which is awesome because I love it when I can see a personal side of the author in his or her writing. 

That's it for today's interview! Come back tomorrow to check out my interview with S.M. McEachern, as well as my first giveaway.

1 comment:

  1. Your review is great (but I'd rather want to read his anti-bullying memoir A Victim of Bullying). .


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