Recent Author Interview with a Choctaw Focus

Thanks to one of my goodreads groups, I was recently interviewed by Nostri Publication. They asked some great questions about my Choctaw of Oklahoma heritage and how it impacted my epic fantasy novel, Bringer of Light. I’ve posted it below or you can check it out here:

The author of week 4 is J. R. Boles

Bringer of Light is an epic tale, what in your life inspired this story?

JRBolesAt its heart, Bringer of Light is the story of friendship. The friends in my life who have stuck with me through all the hard times inspired so much of this story.

How does your Choctaw lineage play into the story of Bringer of Light? Into your other writing?

My grandmother was an incredible woman. She spent her childhood with her grandmother, Rosa, on the Choctaw reservation Oklahoma. She used to scribble little notes about the amazing things all around us. My favorite is one she wrote about the bumblebee when she read in a science magazine that bumblebees shouldn’t be able to fly because of their shape. I think these notes started me on my path toward fantasy and science fiction stories. In them, I could explore the amazing in our lives as well as the sorrow.
The Choctaw women in my life are all remarkably strong women. They’ve overcome adversity to stand up for what they believe in. My grandmother organized a movement in her small town so that girls could wear pants to school. My mother established a GED program at our local community college to ensure that everyone has access to a second chance. My aunt is incredibly active with PEO, a philanthropic organization that promotes the education and advancement of women. Is it any wonder that I write strong female characters?
The name of the Naki warriors is a Choctaw word. What does this word mean and why did you choose it to represent this group of soldiers?
JRBolesBringerOfLightCoverThere are a couple Choctaw words in Bringer of Light. I started studying the Choctaw language in college while I was studying the structure of the English language in my linguistic courses. I was fascinated by the differences that fostered the success of the Choctaw Code Talkers in WWI.
Naki literally means arrow. I thought it was fitting for the arrow-wielding servants of the dark mage Mercer. To him they are nothing more than weapons. Tikbali is also a Choctaw word meaning “first in time.” For the longest time, I couldn’t find the right word for the ancient mages in Bringer of Light. It wasn’t until a conversation with my mom that I thought to borrow from the Choctaw language. Considering their struggles in the past and their passion for education and the greater good, the Tikbali deserved a Choctaw name.
But more than just language, there are Choctaw symbols and imagery throughout Bringer of Light. One of the main Choctaw symbols is Captain Jonathen Oren’s family crest of diamonds between parallel lines, which means, “may our paths cross many times forever” in Choctaw. The sun symbol for healers comes from the Choctaw belief that the sun represents happiness and life. It made sense to me that healers, who hold the great responsibility for caring for the well being of all, would hold the sun as their symbol.

You have been a Fantasy writer all along. What drew/draws you to this genre?
The first novel my dad read to me when I was a kid was The Hobbit. It sparked my imagination and instilled in me a lifelong fear of spiders. With my dad, I grew up watching Star Trek Next Generation and Star Wars. This education definitely played a big part in my becoming a Fantasy writer.
What continues to draw me to this genre is the opportunity to explore so much of what makes us human. Fantasy is often about those make or break moments in a character’s life, and while the scenarios might be fantastical, the character response is nothing if not human.

Do you have any future projects planned?
Currently, I’m working on the sequel to Bringer of Light. I wrote the first half as part of NaNoWriMo last year, and I’m close to having a complete first draft. I also have a dystopian novel that I wrote for NaNoWriMo in 2013 with a Choctaw main character that I can’t wait to finish later this year. She’s a medical doctor traveling across the country in the aftermath of an apocalyptic event that destroyed our cities and wiped out most of human kind. My great-great grandmother Rosa was a healer and her husband was an apothecary, and I’ve always been fascinated by how they came together with such opposing beliefs. This character embodies both of them, and it explores the power of family, which I learned from the stories about Rosa that my mom told me growing up.
I’ve also got an urban fantasy novel that I’m excited to write with my writing partner, Sara Kincaid, based in Kansas City.

Successful Author Event at Mysteryscape


This past Saturday, I had my first solo author event and book signing for my epic fantasy novel Bringer of Light. There were a little over 30 people that came out to hear me speak and support the book, and I am happy to report that Mysterscape sold out of my book! I had the pleasure of calling iUniverse this morning to order more paperbacks because the only copy left in my house belongs to my husband (and he is not sharing).

It was my first time talking about the book in public, and it was good practice for the three book clubs I will be speaking at in the next couple of months. I am very grateful to everyone who came out to the event, and frankly overwhelmed by the support of the Kansas City Theta and PEO chapters that promoted the event. Thanks again for buying my book!

Live Long & Prosper, JR Boles

Review of J. Lawrence’s Inborn


Book Blub: The Code Sings. The Caller has Returned. The Blood of Ontar Will Rise Again.

Every action has consequences. Some change everything for the good. Others can get you killed. The worst kind can get people you love killed instead.

Thaniel never meant to hurt anyone. But he wasn’t the type to do nothing while the innocent got hurt. So when he saw the terror in his girl’s eyes and a soldier chasing her, he couldn’t just stand there.

Thaniel wasn’t looking for enemies. As a slave, he wasn’t trying to attract the attention of the Ontar either. He definitely never meant to awaken any kind of lurking Inborn magic. Especially not the kind that can be used to Call monsters down out of the sky.

But he did…

As the whirlwind of consequence gains intensity and the people he loves the most are swept into the tumult, it’s up to Thaniel to find a way to save his loved ones. Join Thaniel and friends as he discovers that monsters are not just born…

Sometimes, they are Inborn.

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: Five Stars – Highly Recommended

Similar Authors: Brent Weeks, Trudi Canavan

Review: The book blurb sold me on this book immediately, and I am so happy that I picked up a copy for my kindle. The characters are endearing and brave. The plot line is fantastic, and I’ve already picked up the sequel. I have to know what happens!

There are several points of view in this book and each one has a unique voice. There are characters that I adored, characters that I abhorred, and characters that I hope to get to know better in the next book. The central character, Thaniel, is your textbook good guy. You root for him pretty much from the moment you start into his point of view. His friends show you so much more about the character than just his thoughts and actions, which is always something I love in books. Thaniel’s love interest, Elycia, is a complicated character, but one that won me over in the end. There are several delightfully written strong female characters in this book, and Elycia is definitely one of them. The interplay between an older mage character and his guard is just incredible. J. Lawrence writes friendship very well, so well, in fact, that there of moments of heartbreak in this story that will catch you by surprise.

The plot is a bit of a curve ball, which is nice. The inborn ability in the main character appears in a moment of crisis as it often does in these coming of age sort of fantasy tales, but the way that it appears is unique. There are multiple factions of power involved in the action, and while I’m pretty sure which one is “good” there is still room for me to be wrong. I love it when I’m really not sure what will happen next. The magic system is well explained and fascinating, as well.

This is definitely a book that I will be recommending to fellow fantasy readers! And now, I’ve got to start reading the next one!

Check it out on amazon at:

Happy Reading!

Five Star Review of Bringer of Light by Sammyann


“Evil, death, fierce loyalty, love, a torture scene that will make you cringe, a conquering goodness, much, much more … and most fun of all … magic! Bringer of Light is a page-turner you will find difficult to put down. If  you start reading in the evening, be prepared to stay up too late … I did. Enjoyed!!” – Sammyann

Review of Pauline M. Ross’s The Fire Mages


Book Blub: Kyra has always been drawn to the magic of spellpages. She is determined to leave her small village far behind and become a scribe, wielding the power of magic through her pen. Halfway through her training, she has a mage as patron and her ambitions are within her grasp. But a simple favour for her sister goes disastrously awry, destroying Kyra’s dreams in an instant.

Devastated, she accepts an offer from a stranger to help her find out what went wrong. The young man sees growing power within Kyra, potentially stronger than spellpages or any living mage. The answers to unlocking that power may lie within the glowing walls of the Imperial City, but its magic is strong and the unwary vanish without trace on its streets. Thirsty for knowledge and desperate to avoid another accident, she feels compelled to risk it.

While she focuses on controlling her abilities, a storm of greed and ambition boils up around her. Kyra is a pawn in the struggle for dominance between unscrupulous factions vying for rule of her country. Trusting the wrong side could get her killed–or worse, the potent magic she barely understands could be put to unthinkable evil.

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: Five Stars – Highly Recommended

Similar Authors: Kristen Cashore, Rae Carson, Robin Hobb

Review: I could not put this book down. The pacing was perfect and kept me engaged from beginning to end. The writing style was just as phenomenal as I’ve come to expect from Pauline M. Ross. The main characters were more authentic than I think you usually get in fantasy stories, but just like Robin Hobb, Ross is a master at crafting authentic characters. This story had everything I look for in a fantasy novel with action that kept the pages turning and a main character that I was rooting for from page one.

The main character in this story is strong and independent while also being horribly naïve by expecting others to think in the same pragmatic way that she does. As a lawyer, I whole-heartedly approved of Kyra’s dream of becoming a law scribe. Her natural inclination toward study as well as her continued kindness toward those she left behind in her village (if only on her practice pages) showed a depth of character that kept me wanting to know what would happen next. And her relationships were just fascinating. Her youth and the way in which her relationship with the mage Cal develops were also very well written. I kept waiting for her to figure out what her own reactions meant in terms her feelings, but this is a character bent on her career not her love life. And frankly, I loved that about Kyra.

The descriptions in this book are lovely. I cannot express my love of the writing style strongly enough. The way that the magic system is described is unusual which was a pleasant surprise. I wanted to spend days exploring the library that Ross describes. It sounds like an incredible place to get lost for a while. It also made me want a whole separate book on the Imperial City. There is a wonderful story lurking within those magical walls, and I am almost desperate to read it.

I think anyone looking for a fantasy story with a character driven plot and strong female lead character will love this story. Just writing the review makes me want to read it again.

*I received an ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, but I bought it today so that I can share it with friends!

Check it out on amazon at:

Happy Reading!

Review of Pauline M. Ross’s The Plains of Kallanash


Book Blub: Thousands of years after a magical catastrophe reshaped the world and pulled the moons out of alignment, the secret of magic has seemingly been lost. At the centre of the vast, forbidding Plains of Kallanash lies a land ruled by a secretive religion, whose people fight a never-ending war against the barbarians in the wilderness beyond the border.

Amongst the nobility, double marriages are the norm. Junior wife Mia always dreamed of attracting the attention of the dashing lead husband, but never dared to compete against her lively older sister. Hurst has spent ten frustrating years as junior husband, longing to test his skill with a sword in battle, longing for his beloved Mia to turn to him.

The mysterious death of Mia’s sister thrusts the marriage into turmoil. As Mia and Hurst struggle to adjust and find out what happened, they uncover sinister truths about the ruling religion. But the gods are unforgiving; even Mia’s innocent questions carry a terrible punishment. Hurst is prepared to risk everything to save her, even if it means taking up his sword against the barbarians, his own people, and the gods themselves.

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: Three and a half Stars – Recommended

Similar Authors: Kristen Cashore, Rae Carson

Review: I’ve never had such a hard time deciding on a rating for a book. On the one hand, this was unusual and unexpected and the writing style is phenomenal. But on the other hand, I just couldn’t get past my dislike for the main character. I’m giving this novel three and half stars (I’ll round up on amazon and goodreads) mostly for the main plot line and the writing style. I think anyone looking for an unusual fantasy novel with fantastic twists and turns will be pleased with this book.

I loved the writing style. The depth of the description was balanced so well with the action and dialogue that it was a wonderful read for this English Major. The word choice was at times poetic leaving me heartbroken with the beauty of the description. For the writing style alone, I am so glad that I read this book.

The main character starts out mousy and painfully naïve. There is a turning point for Mia that comes after she has lost everything, and I just couldn’t believe how far from the docile introductory character she comes. At the end of the book, I just couldn’t get myself to like her. Her romantic choices seemed completely unrealistic and were frankly just not something that I was interested in reading. This is, of course, a very personal reaction to the character. But that’s the wonderful thing about books, right? Opening the same pages reveals such a different journey for each reader.

The main plot line is surprising. This isn’t your typical Tolkien style fantasy. Yes, there are journeys and governments to overthrow, but there is also an intense sort of personal journey for Mia and Hurst. The author uses character development more than action to drive the story forward.

So while I may not have cared for Mia personally, I would still recommend this book to anyone looking for something different with a stunning writing style.

*I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Happy Reading!

Review of Jeff Wheeler’s The Wretched of Muirwood


Book Blub: In the ancient and mystical land of Muirwood, Lia has known only a life of servitude. Labeled a “wretched,” an outcast unwanted and unworthy of respect, Lia is forbidden to realize her dream to read or write. All but doomed, her days are spent toiling away as a kitchen slave under the charge of the Aldermaston, the Abbey’s watchful overseer. But when an injured squire named Colvin is abandoned at the kitchen’s doorstep, an opportunity arises. The nefarious Sheriff Almaguer soon starts a manhunt for Colvin, and Lia conspires to hide Colvin and change her fate. In the midst of a land torn by a treacherous war between a ruthless king and a rebel army, Lia finds herself on an ominous journey that will push her to wonder if her own hidden magic is enough to set things right. At once captivating, mysterious, and magic-infused, The Wretched of Muirwood takes the classic fantasy adventure and paints it with a story instantly epic, and yet, all its own.

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: Three Stars – Recommended

Similar Authors: Terry Goodkind, Brandon Sanderson, Kristen Britain

Review: This story centers on what I would consider your more typical orphan character in the fantasy genre. There are hints that she might be more than she seems which is also pretty standard, but what I enjoyed about this character is that she’s up front about her dreams and her selfish desires. This wasn’t a story about a young orphan looking to sacrifice herself for God and country, but rather about a thirteen-year-old girl driven to improve her lot in life. Her dream of learning to read is one that is near and dear to my heart, so I whole-heartedly approved of her priorities from page one.

The side characters were not great, and for the most part there was very little character development outside of the main character. That said, I enjoyed the interplay between the main character, Lia, and her friends. Her general attitude toward the others seemed authentic for a thirteen year old.

The magic system was interesting. The idea of a living magic source that guides its users is not exactly ground breaking, but it was curious the way that it unfolded for Lia as it paralleled the role of faith in other fantasy novels. Rather than call it faith, though, it is dealt with as the absence of doubt, which was a telling choice for the author. I’m hoping we will see more of the actual system as opposed to the dogma in the next books.

The action in this story kept me reading, and once it really got going I found myself needing to know what would happen next. Quick page turning is the main thing I’m looking for when I read this kind of fantasy. Yes, I figured out the plot pretty early on, but it didn’t detract from the action to the point that I didn’t want to finish the book. With a quick pace and an interesting main character, I was pretty happy with this book. I will definitely be adding the sequels to my TBR pile.

Happy Reading!