My dear friends, I have a real treat for you today: author Linda Leander. I’ll start by telling you a little about Linda and then we’ll talk about her books. Linda gifted me the books in return for honest reviews, and you already know I speak my mind, so here goes.
Linda Leander lives in Wisconsin with her husband, Ralph, during the summer months but spends the majority of the year in Mazatlan, Mexico. Ms. Leander is not just an author. She’s an award-winning singer/songwriter and she has also won awards for her needle arts.
As a child, Ms. Leander loved the circus, hence her debut novel, INZARED Queen of the Elephant Riders. The book follows the adventures of an Appalachian girl in 1843 who runs away to join a Gypsy circus and becomes a famous elephant rider.
Linda’s other book, 13 Extreme Tips to Self Publishing, released only last month, is inspired from her own self-publishing journey.
Here’s Linda’s Amazon page.
You know those books you used to read long, long ago, when you were a little child and every page was a revelation? That’s exactly how I felt while reading INZARED.
I rarely enjoy reading novels set anywhere other than the contemporary world. I like having a good idea of where I am and enjoy the comforts of knowing what to expect. Inzared took me far out of my comfort zone, but the story was like nothing I’ve read before.
Set in the 1840s, and on the background of a Gypsy travelling circus, Inzared is the first book in a series depicting the hard yet fulfilling life of on-the-road performers. The queen of the show is Bertha, a 16 year-old girl who leaves the comfort of a family home in the mountains of North Carolina to follow her heart, set on the elephant trainer, Paytre, and sample the excitement of life as a performer.
What made this book, for me, was the lulling voice of Inzared, who narrates in the lulling tones of a ‘true hillbilly’. The whole book sounds so authentic, the speech and its musicality, the dialogue, the descriptions – they all add up to one amazing experience. The characters are real, the emotions human and you can’t help but admire the inner strength, discipline and professionalism these Gypsies, despised by so many, exhibit every single day.
This isn’t a modern story, but it’s a good story, and it’s well written. If you like animals, performing, circus life and that particular era, you’ll love this novel. It would be an easy read for children, too, though the not fully happy-ever-after might require a warm hug from the comforting arms of a parent. Inzared receives five shiny gold stars from me. A most delightful read.
Here’s an excerpt from Inzared, to give you a flavour:
“Paytre,” a man’s voice broke through the hazy dusk. “Mala’s leg is acting up and she won’t be able to ride Cecil tonight. What are we going to do?” The ringmaster came into view, attired in a white shirt, red jacket and tails, ready to introduce the show. He walked funny and I saw that one boot was built higher than the other. In spite of the limp, he commanded attention, his bronzed face wearing a self-assured look as he tapped a whip repeatedly into his palm. I sensed he was impatient, because my Pa was always fiddling with his jackknife when he got irritated.
“Bertha, this is Shandor, the ringmaster and half-owner of the circus.” Paytre introduced us and explained the problem. “Mala is one of the bareback performers and she has been filling in on Cecil since our last rider disappeared. She hates riding the elephant, but she’s all we have. A few years back she broke her leg and it never healed right. At times she’s unable to ride because she has to wear a brace to keep her leg straight so she’s not in so much pain. It takes her out of the ring for a few weeks.”
He frowned at the thought. Suddenly he looked up and said, “How would you like to fill in for her?” He faced Shandor as he continued. “She can’t do the tricks, but she can ride Cecil in the ring.”
My eyes widened as I realized what Paytre was saying. “But…,” I stuttered.
Paytre put his finger over my lips. “Shh. You can do this.”
“We don’t use Gaji in our show.” Shandor spat the words out.
“Sir, watch me. I can do tricks on any horse you have and I ain’t scared to do them on the elephant either. Please, just give me a chance,” I implored. “I don’t know what a Gaji is, but I’m sure enough a hillbilly if that’s what you mean. We’re made of strong stuff and I can do anything I set my mind to. I’ll make you proud.”
Shandor’s stern gaze turned on me, but he spoke to Paytre. “We don’t need any trouble with the locals, as you well know. Where are her folks? She’ll need permission.”
I thought fast. “Sir, I’m an orphan,” I lied. “Ain’t no one to ask but me. I’ll be careful, and I’ll do a good job in the ring if you’ll only let me.”
The ringmaster hesitated. “Well, maybe just this once, since we are so near show time,” he said grudgingly. “Paytre, get her to the costume wagon and over to the rear entrance. It’s nearly time to go on.”
Paytre turned to Shandor. “She’ll need a stage name.”
Shandor thought for a moment. “She thinks she’s such a queen, she can be called Inzared.”
I gasped in delight at the foreign-sounding name he had given me. “What does it mean?” I asked.
“Queen. Queen of the Elephant Riders,” Shandor replied. “We shall bill you as Inzared, Queen of the Elephant Riders.”
As the title suggests, this book is a guide to self-publishing. A short and concise read, I liked its structure and the fact that the author has given examples – and these are designed simply to guide, not clutter, a reader’s mind.
While I wouldn’t call them ‘Extreme’, I would call these tips ‘Vital’. They are the very basics, the absolute minimum an author who considers self-publishing should be aware of. If you’re not yet doing all these, you should.
I guess you could say you could find all these things out if you do a thorough research on the internet. Yes, you could, but this book saves you time. The additional section of useful links is particularly valuable to a newbie. Not comprehensive, but then it didn’t promise 1300 tips – just 13.
Easily a four star rating from me.