- Alastair J. Archibald, The Chronicles of Grimm Dragonblaster Book 1: A MAGE IN THE MAKING
- Alastair J. Archibald, CHRONICLES OF GRIMM DRAGONBLASTER BOOK 2: WEAPON OF THE GUILD
- Alastair J. Archibald, CHRONICLES OF GRIMM DRAGONBLASTER BOOK 3: QUESTOR
- Alastair J. Archibald, TRUTH AND DECEPTION: BOOK 4 OF THE CHRONICLES OF GRIMM DRAGONBLASTER
- Alastair J. Archibald, DRAGONBLASTER: BOOK 5 OF THE CHRONICLES OF GRIMM DRAGONBLASTER
- Alastair J. Archibald, THE DARK PRIORY: The Chronicles of Grimm Dragonblaster Book Six
- Heather Beck, WHAT LEGENDS ARE MADE OF
- Danny Birt, ENDING AN ENDING: First Book of the Laurian Pentology
- Crystalwizard and Lyn Perry, STRANGE WORLDS OF LUNACY, THE GALAXY’S SILLIEST ANTHOLOGY
- Colin P. Davies, TALL TALES ON THE IRON HORSE: A Collection of Nineteen Stories
- Karina Fabian, MAGIC, MENSA & MAYHEM
- Teel James Glenn, Queen Morgana and the Renfairies
- Teel James Glenn, When RenFairies Attack
- Colin Harvey, THE SILK PALACE
- David Korinetz, FireDrakes
- Sandy Lender, Choices Meant For Kings
- Sandy Lender, CHOICES MEANT FOR GODS
- Shannah Biondine and Sheri L. McGathy, TWICE UPON AN EVENTIDE
- Sheri L. McGathy, OMNIBUS: A COLLECTION OF FANTASY STORIES
- Verna McKinnon, GATE OF SOULS: A FAMILIAR’S TALE, BOOK ONE
- Rhonda Parrish, SHADES OF GREEN
- Janet Quinn, WHISKEY SHOTS VOLUME 17: THE BETRAYER AND WEAVING A DREAM
- Dr. Bob Rich, BIZARRE BIPEDS
- Dr. Bob Rich, The Start of Magic: Part I of The First Story of The Ehvelen
- Dr. Bob Rich, The Mother’s Sword: Part II of The First Story of The Ehvelen
- Dr. Bob Rich, The Travels of First Horse: Part III of The First Story of The Ehvelen
- Dr. Bob Rich, THE MAKING OF A FOREST FIGHTER
- Robert Stikmanz, Prelude to a Change of Mind, The First Book in The Lands of Nod
- Celina Summers, The Reckoning of Asphodel
- Celina Summers, THE GIFT OF REDEMPTION: BOOK TWO OF THE ASPHODEL CYCLE
- Celina Summers, TEMPTATION OF ASPHODEL: BOOK 3 OF THE ASPHODEL CYCLE
- Celina Summers, APOSTLE OF ASPHODEL: Book Four of the Asphodel Cycle
- Celina Summers & Rob Graham, BREAKING THE COVENANTS
- Petra Theunissen, ALIEN GENES 1: DAUGHTER OF ATUK
- PETRA THEUNISSEN, ALIEN GENES: BOOK 2 - INFITALIS
- Jason M Waltz, FLASHING SWORDS PRESENTS: THE RETURN OF THE SWORD, AN ANTHOLOGY OF HEROIC ADVENTURE
- Christopher W. Wilcox, Sr., AETHEREAL
- Christopher W. Wilcox, Sr., AEthereal Revealed (Book 2)
- Christopher W. Wilcox, Sr., AETHEREAL’S CLANS
- Christopher W. Wilcox. Sr., AETHEREAL’S PRIDE
- Christopher W. Wilcox, Sr., AETHEREAL’S CHILDREN
The Chronicles of Grimm Dragonblaster Book 1: A MAGE IN THE MAKING
By Alastair J. Archibald
Ever wonder what it takes to become a Mage? Ever wonder about the relationships between Mages and Witches?
Join seven year-old Grimm Afelnor as he enters Arnor Guild House on his journey to become a Mage. Will he discover why his dearly beloved grandfather is known as the “oath-breaker” and will he redeem the family name? From his first appearance on the page, there is something about this character that will draw you straight to him.
I am truly enjoying this series start. This story comes after our world has destroyed itself and a new power is found – magic. This talent develops differently for men and women. Women need the physical contact between them and Mages to strengthen their power. So, it is through the greed for more and more power, that women (witches) eventually fearing for their existence as the Mages take the oath of celibacy. One lone witch plots to have her sisterhood rise again. Given the beginnings of this pledge, I’m not so sure that’s a good thing. However, I have high hopes that Grimm will bring both Mage and Witch back together.
I like how Mr. Archibald has incorporated the history of his story’s time through his opening narrative. This adds to the believability that this isn’t just a fairytale but the reality of our world’s fight to survive and evolve. Watching Grimm grow up from childhood to Mage is as much a complete story as it is a set up for the history of Mages and what is to come.
Within these pages you will find magic, family, betrayal, friendships, secrets, quests, intrigue, but mostly you will find a good read.
I’m looking forward to the next in this series.
CHRONICLES OF GRIMM DRAGONBLASTER BOOK 2: WEAPON OF THE GUILD
By Alastair J. Archibald
At the Whiskey Creek Press site this is listed as “Readers’ Choice #1 Bestseller.” Want to know something…it deserves it.
“Chronicles of Grimm Dragonblaster” is another Whiskey Creek series I am thoroughly enjoying. There’s adventure, intrigue, magic, friendship, discovery, danger, and just plain likeable characters.
In “Weapon of the Guild” we learn this is the informal title of Questors, as Grimm is now one.
Grimm’s first quest, under the guidance of Questor Dalquist Rufior, was an exciting adventure full of the dangers and powerful foes Grimm can expect to encounter as a Questor. Then Mr. Archibald lays out the mundane quests Grimm can also expect, something that bores the young mage.
When Grimm visits High Lodge, we witness the snobbery of the ruling house of mages. I’m reminded of the bustle and hassles of any governing seat whether in other fantasy stories or even every day fiction. These places can hold such wonder and excitement, for those who do not live within their walls; however, Grimm learns they can be more boring than home. These men are more paper-pushers and bureaucrats than the mages they’re suppose to be.
What Mr. Archibald also gives us here is our first encounter with Lord Thorin’s mother – Reverend Mother Lizaveta. Here we glimpse her plans for Grimm and her power.
Mr. Archibald adds depth to his character, Grimm, by the introduction of Grimm’s addiction to an herbal mixture. This mixture was needed during Grimm’s first quest; however, Grimm discovers this simple herbal mix holds a great power over him. Grimm now has a ‘flaw’ if you will, but it is something that reminds us of his strong internal will…something I believe he will need.
Mr. Archibald builds Grimm’s world through plausible secondary characters and settings. Some characters are background faces to make up the feel and rules of a town’s setting. Others are characters of questionable history, the thief with a heart of gold or the dashing rogue or overlooked brain of an oafish-looking being. Which one is needed for the quest at hand?
In “Weapon of the Guild” we are left wondering if Grimm will survive his latest quest. I’m very happy I have book three on hand.
Without any doubts I state The Chronicles of Grimm Dragonblaster series is a must read.
CHRONICLES OF GRIMM DRAGONBLASTER BOOK 3: QUESTOR
By Alastair J. Archibald
In a battle between magic and technology which would win?
“Questor” sees my favourite Mage, Grimm, continuing the journey started in book two “Weapon of the Guild” where we left Grim and his companions slowly freezing to death. Their quest – find and defeat General Quelgrum. Is General Quelgrum holding and brainwashing Mages? Surely, no Mage would turn against his House and side with a technologist.
Also, from book two, will Master Questor Xylox make good on the promise to see Grimm stripped of his status?
These questions are answered in “Questor” however, I must admit to disappointment in the quick ending battle between Technology and Magic.
With that said, I am looking forward to more of Grimm’s discoveries. In “Questor” Grimm learns a few secrets the Mage Brotherhood would rather be kept quiet. How will this knowledge help Grimm redeem his grandfather’s name? How will this knowledge change the power seeking Lord Thorn and his mother?
It is my opinion; “Questor” is the set up book for the next grand adventures and surprises in the Chronicles of Grimm series. It addresses the issue of what happened to technology, as well as setting up a power base for Grimm in what, I believe, is a future final battle. It plants the seeds of what might have happened to Grimm’s grandfather and a new era for Mage Magic.
Mr. Archibald still captures his reader’s attention and smoothly blends magic and technology.
Grimm and his friends, and foes, are not characters I’ll soon forget.
TRUTH AND DECEPTION: BOOK 4 OF THE CHRONICLES OF GRIMM DRAGONBLASTER
By Alastair J. Archibald
Grimm receives his cognomen! He is now officially--Grimm Afelnor, Mage Questor of the Seventh Rank, called the Dragonblaster—at seventeen is he ready for the responsibility?
Now is the start of Grimm’s true quest, the quest to clear his grandfather’s name. Lord Prelate Thorn doesn’t mind this quest as long as it only brings down his mother, the witch Lizaveta, and not him as well. With Lizaveta destroyed, Thorn can stay being Lord Prelate…as long as Grimm never learns of Thorn’s own involvement. Then again, maybe Grimm won’t survive.
“Truth and Deception” is clearly the start of Grimm’s final battle. Numal, who has just earned the title Mage Necromancer, joins him, you may remember him as an Adept Grimm met on his first day. Numal’s the older gentleman who wanted to be a clown and not a mage.
Crossing Grimm’s path and joining as well, is Lizaveta’s grandson, Questor Guy “the Great Flame” Fulinar. Guy is arrogant, rude, egotistical, and above everything else determined to obliterate his grandmother. Who is Guy’s father and does Lizaveta really not know of her grandson?
My favourites are also back: Tordun, Crest, Harvel, and new compadre, General Quelgrum. Yes, demon storyteller, Thribble is here, too.
As with all fantasy quests, who will survive? Mr. Archibald, please don’t kill any of my favourites. Then, again, every good story requires sacrifices.
And The Chronicles of Grimm Dragonblaster are good stories. Mr. Archibald has created a world that does not have to end with this quest. His characters could contain onto new quests against new adversaries. The background Mages are interesting enough to carry their own stories, too.
I have two more Grimm books to read, I will be lost once done.
Thank you, Mr. Archibald.
DRAGONBLASTER: BOOK 5 OF THE CHRONICLES OF GRIMM DRAGONBLASTER
By: Alastair J. Archibald
Redemption, vengeance, pride; they all have a heavy price.
In book four of Grimm’s Chronicles, TRUTH AND DECEPTION, Grimm was given permission to track and destroy the witch, Lizaveta. Not knowing she was his Lord Prelate’s, Thorn’s, mother, as well as the downfall of Grim’s grandfather. That quest was Grimm’s first taste of the possible consequences he, and his friends, may have to pay to reach his goal. What consequences will be paid in DRAGONBLASTER?
And there are consequences. Mr. Archibald wrote a few surprises, which were good for the story, if unlikeable for this reader.
I found DRAGONBLASTER to be the series’ semi-standalone book. The full success of this book depends on knowing some of the previous four books.
Grimm and his cohorts are also changing. Their shine and gallantry are starting to dull. The faith in Grimm, theirs and his own, is slowly unravelling. Is this a quest of redemption and valour or revenge?
DRAGONBLASTER is a turning point. I’m no longer sure Grimm will succeed. If they succeed, will Grimm survive?
Mr. Archibald has wavered a little in his telling. Where Grimm was once the sole hero, Mr. Archibald is pulling previous unthought-of strengths and resources forward, will they enhance Grimm or end up battling him, I don’t know.
One book left and I’ll have the answers. Then what, Mr. Archibald…more?
THE DARK PRIORY: The Chronicles of Grimm Dragonblaster Book Six
UPDATE: Have just heard from the publisher...there will be more Chronicles of Grimm Dragonblaster books! This is not the conclusion! While this doesn't fully change all my emotions about DARK PRIORY it does add a major change...turns DARK PRIORY into a intriguing transition of story. I have no clue where Mr. Archibald will take us...my favourite position to be in a series.
Furthermore, we may have a few stories centering around some secondary characters. Will my favourites be in this batch? Fingers crossed.
After winning free of the dream city of Brianston and defeating the titanic dragon, Gruon, Mage Questor Grimm Afelnor and his companions march towards Rendale Priory to confront the evil witch, Prioress Lizaveta. Unbeknownst to Grimm, who has now lived up to his Guild soubriquet of ‘Dragonblaster’, Lizaveta knows of the party’s approach, and she has magically kidnapped the young mage’s secret lover, Drexelica. When the Dragonblaster reaches Rendale, the evil Prioress will be ready for him.
I have thoroughly enjoyed this series; however, I can't say I loved the ending. Sadly, I didn't enjoy the ending or end treatment of Drexelica. This light and loving character was treated to an abrupt and negative treatment. In the end most of the female characters felt unreal and too one-sided.
While I have watched Grimm's determination to right the wrong against his grandfather, again there felt something lacking in the change over his grandfather. I can't give too much away as to what happens to Grimm's grandfather, but a balance was missing.
I'm unsure as to whether Mr. Archibald meant for this to be the complete end or not. It felt unfinished, rushed. I don't mind characters not staying shining, but for me there was something 'off' in this, book six of a wonderfully fun series.
I'm open to hear from others.
WHAT LEGENDS ARE MADE OF
By Heather Beck
There is something unsettling about Ms. Beck’s imagination - stalking ghosts; kidnapping mermen; backfiring real magic tricks and possibly never-aging love contracts.
Yes, Ms. Beck is disquieting. None of her stories are conventional. None follow the tried and true. You will not unravel anything till the last scene is played out.
You will relish the originality of Ms. Beck.
ENDING AN ENDING: First Book of the Laurian Pentology
By Danny Birt
Have you ever read a book that you really wanted to connect with, but just couldn’t? Have a story idea in front of you that you want to jump into, but can’t?
I couldn’t get into “Ending An Ending.” What I understand is there are Champions or Serens to different Gods. They are sent on missions by their God(s) in order that what should happen does, and what shouldn’t, of course, doesn’t. Once a mission is completed, it appears, the Seren falls into a sleep till needed again.
“Ending An Ending: First Book of the Laurian Pentology” does have a promising but confusing start. We meet a man with no memory. He has no concept of himself or even how to eat or drink. His immediate acceptance by a group of Serens (a group he just walks into) is a little unbelievable and this is where I first became lost.
Mr. Birt warns that if “Ending An Ending” is your first fantasy novel, leave. That his fantasy follows no formula. That is true; however, I’m still not sure where his story was taking me or why I should care for the characters trying to take me there.
By all means, check out the publisher’s website and Mr. Birt’s site http://www.dannybirt.com/ and decide for yourself.
I’m disappointed that “Ending An Ending” and I didn’t mix, maybe next time.
STRANGE WORLDS OF LUNACY, THE GALAXY’S SILLIEST ANTHOLOGY
Edited by Crystalwizard and Lyn Perry
Craziest dang book I have ever read…is there a book two?
This is the silliest anthology. From the opening editorial introduction to the last closing statement, I went from oy’s to groans to giggles. Even a few plain ole shakes of the head.
Where did the editors find these writers? Better, yet, what were these writers thinking…on second thought, I don’t want to know. Wherever this merriment and madness came from, Thank You.
In “Strange Worlds of Lunacy” you will find the authors’ imaginative play on words, play on phrases, and play on well-known sayings. And, most definitely, their inventive play on some well loved classics. Will you catch them all? Between the stories are silly limericks that add an entertaining transition from one chuckle to the next groan. And, throughout, are illustrations that both enhance the tales as well as add their own amusement.
Within these pages you will read up to 53 stories, the “an alphabetical glossary of critically important silly terms” and, thankfully, the authors’ bios which now are part of my ‘watch for’ list.
Do I dare describe any of these titters? Hmmm, that is my dilemma. If I were to give you a title and my reaction, would I be giving too much away? Most likely, yes. So, instead I will list my reactions in no particular order:
OY!!!! (about 30 of them)
Oyyyyyyyyyyyy (another 40)
Groan (say 25 or so)
Oh the smell (don’t even ask, you’ll know which story)
That’s what you get for kissing a frog
LOL (just about each reading)
Eye rolls (27)
Banging my head on the computer (lost count)
While “Strange Worlds of Lunacy” maintains it is the “Galaxy’s Silliest Anthology,” I will say it may just be the Galaxy’s Most Brilliant Anthology of Giggles and Hilarity.
TALL TALES ON THE IRON HORSE: A Collection of Nineteen Stories
By Colin P. Davies
According to Wikipedia, the definition of the genre “Fantasy” is a genre “that uses magic and other supernatural forms as a primary element…” And that it is different from science fiction “…by the expectation that it steers clear of technological and macabre themes…”
I’m not so sure if this fully utilities the depth of what fantasy can be.
I’m not sure it fully describes Mr. Davies’ offerings in “Tall Tales on the Iron Horse.”
Some anthology/collections I read straight through because each story links to a larger tale that I must uncover. Others I can read straight through because they are simply enjoyable diversions that fit my mood and entertainment needs. Mr. Davies’ “Tall Tales on the Iron Horse” does not fit either of these synopses.
“Tall Tales on the Iron Horse” contains stories the demand a slower reading pace. Some will hit you immediately with their insight; others will creep up on you with their quiet message.
I’m still not sure how I mixed with “Tall Tales on the Iron Horse.” However, I do know I will remember Mr. Davies’ name knowing I’m in for an incredible read.
MAGIC, MENSA & MAYHEM
By Karina Fabian
Can an agent for The Church be both a PI and a Dragon? Certainly, if the writer is Ms. Fabian.
On the other side of The Gap, in Los Lagos, Colorado, is the Faerie world. Yes, the Faerie world. No, not the fashion store, but the border crossing between our Mundane world and the Faerie world. The world, Vern, agent of the Faerie Catholic Church and the only dragon PI, I have ever met, comes from.
Yes, dragon. Okay, I see you’re a little confused. Catholic Church? Faerie Catholic Church? The Gap? Private Investigating Dragon? Let me start from the beginning, at least the beginning I know.
Vern is a dragon. He was created by God and did live in the Faerie World. St. George, of the Faerie world, trapped Vern in a holy spell and now Vern works for the Faerie Catholic Church and is a PI living in our world. In “Magic, Mensa and Mayhem” we also meet his partner, Sister Grace of Our Lady of the Miracles, a high mage in the Faerie Catholic Church.
Bishop Aiden, their superior, has directed them to attend the Mensa World Gathering in Florida. This year a number of the Faerie have been invited and Bishop Aiden wants Vern and Grace there “to help keep order, supernaturally speaking.”
What could possibly go wrong at a convention of highly intelligent human and faerie citizens?
Right, I’m really going to tell you and ruin the surprises. Be prepared to meet pixies, dwarves, brownies, High Elves, Brunhilde the Valkyrie (yes the very same) and naiads (do not call them mermaids). And the Native American Spirit Trickster, Coyote.
“Magic, Mensa and Mayhem” is a different read due to the levels of fantasy and faith Ms. Fabian incorporates. They are then mixed together with Vern’s unique voice.
Consider Ms. Fabian’s writing to the fantasy genre as you would Peter Tremayne is to the historical mystery genre. Or Ellis Peters’ Brother Cadfael series each contain elements of The Church but never is the story secondary. Vern goes so far as to call the Faerie St. George “the magically overpowered pain in the tail.”
When I am offered a Karina Fabian book I know the voice and quality I will be reading. When writing fantasy and science fiction, the two genres I have read, Ms. Fabian fulfills the demands of each genre and adds a piece of herself. She is a storyteller…something I treasure in those I read.
Queen Morgana and the Renfairies
by Teel James Glenn
Winner of the2012 Pulp Ark Award for Best Author
Queen Morgana will not allow free passage between the realms of the Fae and of humans. Because of this, both realms are dying. The only bridge between the worlds is the place where dreams live in the daylight: Renaissance Faires!
A group of humans stumbles through the portal: a cocky movie make-up man who hits on the wrong woman, a Vietnam vet whose nightmares make living a chore, a private detective on the strangest case of his career, a crippled cop and a burger store manager who loves to go LARPing.
One of them has to show the Queen of the Fae what true love is or they will perish in the greater darkness that is growing day by day. Oh, and in the process, they have to try and figure out who the strange guy in the Viking helmet is and why he is giggling all the time...
I think I've finally discovered why it takes me so dang long reading Teel's stories...I get lost in them, I don't want them to end. Lame? Oh for sure, specially since he writes more. I have at least four more waiting for me. I have yet to be disappointed in anything written by Teel.
Side trip time...
Oh, on first name basis am I? Why yes. Consider him a cyber-friend met through author-reviewer relationship. So, you're thinking I won't say anything negative? Really? Trust is built on honesty...mine to every author and reader who visits my reviews. And their/your trust in me.
However, for the record, here and for majority of those I review, I don't comment on grammar or put my editor's hat on (I might fight with it, but that's because it hits first) only because I forget which eBooks/print books are prior to final publication and which aren't. Not fair to comment on this area if I'm the one being forgetful.
Onward we go...
I really need to visit a Faire one summer. I've wanted to, but have never gotten around to it. I really need to go this year. Although, after reading this collection of neatly tied stories I might want to keep an extra lookout.
Or watch what songs I sing.
First be prepared to not like the first story's main character, Jack. He's an ego...and an ass, but I'll stop there With that firmly set in your mind and the opening pages, be prepared to rethink it all. I dare you to tell me you don't see the ending coming and then tell me you didn't "ahhhh" over it. Shhh, I admit nothing.
Fine, I'll admit I did cry at the opening of story two. (There goes my hard-hearted rep)
All-in-all QUEEN MORGANA AND THE RENFAIRIES is a mixed bag of tales revolving around Ren Faires. Curtain crossing to dreamlands and new beginnings.
Enjoyable, fun, sweet-emotionally moving. Would I be shot if I said, delightful?
Look, I'm fully captured by these characters. I smiled throughout the reading. You want to escape to the Sidhe side, here you go, I've been shown the doorway.
Yes, I did argue with my editor-hat, but I do that all the time. Frankly, those arguments where over little inconsistencies, refer to my side trip above.
What I didn't see coming was the finishing touch. Made reaching that last screen page more satisfying. You know the moment when you're completely content. You close the material, sit back, sigh-smile, and just be.
Always leads to hubby or child (or stranger should I be outside in public) ask "Good book?"
Yeeeahhhhh. (insert your own happy face here)
Need a say more
When RenFairies Attack
By: Teel James Glenn
Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
Once the Fae and mortal worlds lived side by side, then Queen Morgana became unhappy with a mortal hero and closed the passage between the worlds. For many years the worlds of man and fae could be breached only in dreams or where dreams lived in the daylight: Renaissance Faires!
Then the barriers were opened again and the two worlds became as one—that was when things got interesting!
Now gods and ogres, jinn and demons cross into the world of mortal man with alarming regularity.
In this brave new world, a farmer makes a wish and his deal with a Leprechaun is not what he bargained for; an Englishman attends a party and accepts a terrible gift; a Manhattan bar bouncer throws the wrong little folk out of his pub and an actuary falls in love with a beautiful jinn princess.
Humans beware, when Renfairies attack, danger follows!
Here’s where I’m going to redirect you to my review of book one: Queen Morgana and the Renfairies because, really, how do you explain a smooth transfer from the separate realms of fantasy and our reality to one where both live together and no one thinks or behaves like we’ve all lost our minds?
When Renfairies Attack is a continuation of short stories where mortals mix with Fae and the outcome is anything but what we humans expected. We, humans/mortals, really need to be careful about what we wish for, ask for, and out and out think about ourselves. Then again, sometimes the god(s) are on our side, sorta.
As a reminder, the copy I received to read and review was not a final editing/proofed/ready for publication piece; therefore, structure and overall writing rules and such, well, I’m ignoring. Not that I really comment on those in any review. And, yes, I’m behind but it’s never too late for any review.
Back to Teel’s story. The Fae reality reads real because Teel knows Faires and this translates to his writing. What strikes me more about these stories, and maybe I’m going too deep into the humanity of us all, but I can’t help feel there’s a commentary on us here within these stories.
How would we be seen through another’s eyes? I don’t mean someone human, but one of the wee folk, as my great-granny called them.
How true is the belief – our thoughts will create our reality? Are our lives driven by our fears and worries? Are we seen by how we see and feel inside more than how we show on the outside? What about those gut reactions to some we’ve all experienced? Could we be “seeing” the true person, and in Teel’s words, the decaying monkey that they are.
I’m not saying reading “When Renfairies Attack” will change you as in studying a self-help book might/could if that’s what you’ve been looking for. But, it might make you pause and rethink your next wish – you never know who might be listening.
In the end, I got to visit with a sampling of my great-granny’s wee folk. Smile at some Leprechauns and giggle at the mortals who thought they knew better.
Let alone be reminded of the sayings my granny learned from my great-granny about being careful what you wish for and don’t go fooling around with the little folk…don’t go looking for trouble; biting off more than you can chew. Great-granny knew what she knew when looking in the garden.
THE SILK PALACE
By Colin Harvey
What’s in a name?
Welcome to Bluestocking’s world, the world where your name is offered up to the “Great Hall of Names” forever locking you into your place in life…no matter what you want from life.
Bluestocking was born and named Blue. She was never meant to be a translator of ancient scrolls. She was never meant to travel with royalty, nor visit and live with royals. If her secret was discovered…well, it won’t be an easy death.
Now, before you start thinking this is just another fantasy adventure of some poor girl raising above her life’s station and overcoming the odds…it’s not quite like that. It’s more, much more, maybe a bit too much more. I’m still digesting the story and finding little surprising nuisances I missed when I was reading. You see, “The Silk Palace” is also about religious corruption, greed and evil, murder, sacrifice (voluntary and non-voluntary) and, of course, love. It also has the Gods and Goddess of the different beliefs walking among the mere mortals for a day, talk about watching your Ps and Qs.
Blue wasn’t supposed to unravel the mysterious scrolls as fast as she did. She wasn’t supposed to fall in love with the slave girl, Kyr, nor Kyr with her. And never ever was she supposed to say the unleashing spell when she did, that’s when all hell went to hell in a hand basket…at least for those using Blue as their pawn. Because she was never supposed to become the avatar of a goddess. But was she supposed to succeed; did she succeed, sorry I can’t tell you.
“The Silk Palace” is a very complex fantasy read. At times I was lost in the twists and turns and shocks. Mr. Harvey did things in “The Silk Palace” that I’ve rarely read in any fantasy story before…a writer isn’t supposed to do that to their heroine, are they? Mr. Harvey did keep me guessing. I was never sure where or when the story was going to end. I wasn’t sure how I wanted it to end.
Did I like “The Silk Palace”? I did have problems putting it down. It’s still playing around in my mind. I’m curious as to what happens next? So, yes I did enjoy this fantasy story.
There’s nothing typical or traditional about “The Silk Palace.” And for those who love a good mind-whirling fantasy then Colin Harvey’s “The Silk Palace” won’t disappoint.
FireDrakes, by David Korinetz.
The task of freeing a race of Firedrakes from the grip of an evil sorceress has fallen upon the shoulders of a young untried Daemon Knight. The job seems simple enough; just retrieve a magical amulet she is using to hold them in thrall, but most of the FireDrakes don't want his help, and he has fallen in love with the beautiful sorceress. The question is: will love or duty prevail?
Not only is this the first book in the "Chronicles of the Daemon Knights" it is listed as Mr. Korinetz's first book.
My experience has been that most new authors with new series do tend to give more of their world and characters than what is necessary. For me, "FireDrakes" was at times a little heavy on the character volume. Some of the stronger characters becoming a little lost in the side stories. Where some of the side story characters became more interesting and I wished Mr. Korinetz had stayed with them or involved them more. Villains have been known to steal the show.
Character names at each new chapter was a saving point as this did allow for a refocus on who we were with. I noticed there are at least two more books in this series and I'm hoping characters used there are less in volume while carrying on their set-ups from book one.
The more the page numbers dwindled the closer I feared a non-resolution to the story...a cliffhanger. Mr. Korinetz does end the main storyline, but, again for me, this was rushed and a bit lost.
If I could ask for anything it would be a prequel to this volume because I found myself asking too many why, how, what questions for some characters' actions and reasonings.
As I mentioned at the beginning, this is the first book of a new author and yes there were a few stumbling blocks for me. There are a few shining characters...FireDrakes, Witch-hag, Wizard Aldus, the were-cat. I'm a little unsure of the connection between Rodney and _______ (hey, I can't give away too much). Not fully sure if I'm curious or just plain confused.
Does this mean would I read the next books? Possibly.
What I would like to stress, though, is if you do pick up FireDrakes please keep in mind this is a novice writing with a few hiccups. Distracting? No. Promise? Yes.
Choices Meant For Kings
by Sandy Lender
Okay, I have written this review in a very different manner than normal. I couldn’t help myself. As I was jotting down notes the review just took control. So, here’s my living, real-time writing/reading review. Now, hopefully, I can take back control of my reviewer’s mind…I’m blaming (and thanking) you Ms. Lender 😉
Thank you, Ms. Lender, for starting book two of the Choices Trilogy right from where book one ended. Too many times an author will backtrack story from a previous book and I end up spending a frustrating time rushing to get to the story.
Now, that I am firmly in the story, I can’t help wonder where you are taking me. You’ve slowed some of the tension; however, you have also condensed the action in such a manner that I find myself leaning further and further into the book…trying to peek through the pages and look ahead. I want to get to the next part, the next answer, but then again, I don’t want the story to end. I would have spent all night reading if my blasted eyes and body hadn’t demand sleep and quit on me.
Oh no, you didn’t! You did! Dang, there’s got to be something else, something that will change. Dangit! Good job!
No way. This isn’t going to end in the direction the heart wants, is it? Don’t know how you’re going to manoeuvre them, but something has to give and I don’t think I’ll like it. But, it’s making one heck of a story.
I like Chariss. She’s sassy, intelligent, down-to-earth, and keeps the egomaniacs hopping. Hope her challenges won’t be her undoing. Hmmmm, interesting quick change there in their meeting with the one King, Ms. Lender. I have to slow my reading to catch all your little quick bits…nicely done. And yet, another level to Chariss’ character – an undiscovered flaw in her training. Well done, something so simple to remind those within the story, and us readers, that she is still young and innocent.
Okay, I’m inching towards the end and have no clue how “Choices Meant For Kings” will leave me gasping, but gasping I’m sure I’ll be. Dang, I hate not figuring a story out…all right, Ms. Lender!
Another interesting turn from a direction never watched. This should prove interesting.
Three little pages left and I’m on pins and needles wondering what is going to happen, I’m almost afraid to continue, cause I know I won’t like it. Won’t like it because I’ve become vested in these characters; love it because it makes for a thrilling read. I’m afraid, Ms. Lender, I will curse you for this roller coaster ride…haven’t done that since my last Clive Barker book, or was it Dean Koontz? Damn I love this epic!
Breathless. Shocked. Can’t think. OMG!
Well done, Ms. Lender, extremely well done
CHOICES MEANT FOR GODS
By Sandy Lender
Get ready for the new Queen of Fantasy Epics!
Have you ever heard of a God needing a Protector? What about the children of a God marrying a mere mortal? Or, mortals having the power of geasa (magic). And a prophecy that will change it all.
This is a quick glimpse into Ms. Lender’s world of “Choices Meant For Gods.” Ms. Lender takes her readers on a wild ride of adventure, love, revenge, power hungry rulers, and hilarity. What else would you call a tale of a young woman, destined to be “the Master’s Protector,” as she runs from the sorcerer determined to either kill her or marry her, only to fall in love with the Master’s daughter’s son. And giving her guardian wizard heart attacks each time she back talks the Master…who happens to be their living God. But this is Chariss’ story and it is a masterpiece.
So, why am I hyped about this book? I like magic. I especially like internal personal magic. Ms. Lender has employed geasa/god-given magic and sorcery in an interesting combination. I have always enjoyed Greek mythologies and Ms. Lender has blended the idea of Gods, in human form, walking and living among mortals, having children and having mortal protectors into a new exciting version of the old mythologies.
It is also Ms. Lender’s characters that have me hooked. Her main character, Chariss, as the young lady who has been on the run since childhood, is both innocent and knowing without, at any time, being unreal. Chariss has an innate knowledge that surprises everyone. Will she and Nigel Taiman, the Master’s grandson, be forever star-crossed lovers or do secrets matter? And the Master, the all-powerful God of Chariss and her friends, well, he is a bit overbearing…good for Chariss in humbling him.
Then there are Ms. Lender’s twists and turns. So, did Ms. Lender surprise me? Was I shocked? Or, did I see it coming? Sorry, I never was one to ruin a good story. And with that said, I really can’t tell you much more without giving the adventure away…you will just have to trust me.
Like fantasy epics? You’ll love “Choices Meant For Gods.” Can’t wait to start the next one.
TWICE UPON AN EVENTIDE
By Shannah Biondine and Sheri L. McGathy
What could be better than an aged wizard and an old storyteller sharing stories over an open fire and roast quail?
The two stories contained within are “A Varlet’s Bond” and “Summersong.” One moves us through the politics of a royal court and kept secrets. The other strives to maintain balance between the magical and humans and those who paid the cost. Each carry a love story started in friendship and sweet innocence.
Ms. Biondine and Ms. McGathy take their individual stories and meld them into one harmonious novel. Their writing styles compliment each other while maintaining their unique voices.
OMNIBUS: A COLLECTION OF FANTASY STORIES
By Sheri L. McGathy
An author asks…what if?
Within this OMNIBUS collection are four beautifully written, poetic prose fantasy tales:
The Birth of Spring—what happens when King Winter won’t let go?
Thief of Dreams—who or what can break a Faery Ring?
The Ancient One—what would you give up to save the future; to bring upon that which you thought to prevent?
Where Lies Beauty—truly, beauty is in the heart of the beholder.
Don’t ask me my favourite because I cannot pick one. Each story had me spellbound. Ms. McGathy’s voice weaves through your subconscious as you lose yourself in her world. Her writing is a true escape from reality and the noise, which surrounds us.
With Ms. McGathy, I have come to expect magical worlds with fundamental themes told with noble and subtle words and emotion.
I have never been disappointed.
GATE OF SOULS: A FAMILIAR’S TALE, BOOK ONE
By Verna McKinnon
And you thought witches only had familiars. Welcome to Verna McKinnon’s world.
I knew “Gate of Souls” was a favourite by the second chapter. I knew I was keeping Ms. McKinnon’s book for my daughter, too. I knew I wanted more before I was done chapter two.
I have no idea how to write this review without gushing and gushing won’t cut it, will it.
“Gate of Souls” is a family book. Any age fantasy reader will find something to enjoy within its pages. Although, I’ll probably wait till my seven-year-old is closer to nine before letting her at it.
Why? There is death, scares, and a natural violence that comes with any battle between good and evil. However, nothing is over the top or gratuitous.
Ms. McKinnon starts with the past. We are given a look back at a great battle that nearly destroyed everyone in the present tale. This battle took Cathal’s wife, daughter, and granddaughter…all at the hands of his son-in-law, the husband, the father. At least it was believed his granddaughter, Runa, was killed. Belwyn, Cathal’s familiar, couldn’t reach Cathal through the grieving pain.
However, Striker, the red panther familiar of Rualla (Cathal’s daughter) had saved Runa and carried her to the Ilyrran rangers (closest description…think Elves). Now they have brought Runa to her grandfather.
Okay, Ms. McKinnon you had me in tears by page four. Then again when you revisited…oops, can’t give that away.
And, of course, raising a granddaughter can’t be enough challenge for Cathal (or learning to harness her own magic and potion making for Runa). Someone has killed the Archon (highest honour for any sorcerer, Cathal was it once) and Emperor Tarsicius has sent for Cathal. Let alone several of Cathal’s and Runa’s sorcerer friends are missing and Cathal and Runa have just been attacked. And Tarsicius is dying.
Sounds like Runa’s about to have her adventure.
Let’s get back to talking about Familiars. These are animals who have their own magic and not all animals have magic. Cathal’s Belwyn is an owl. A semi-sarcastic ornery owl whose job is to teach Runa’s familiar to read, write, math, and magic…also teaching Runa.
Mellypip. I love Mellypip. I promise, Ms. McKinnon, if anything happens to Melly I’m throwing your book across the room. Mellypip is a wampu. Cathal hoped Melly would become Runa’s familiar and after his and Runa’s mental bonding, he is. Melly loves Runa, loves to eat, and came into his special power a tad early…hey, life and death adventures will do that, you know.
Yes, Belwyn has his claws (?) full with Runa and Mellypip.
I’m stopping here because I could go on and on about all the familiars (A sloth?? A badger? A hedgehog named Rosepetal? You’ll love them, trust me).
“Gate of Souls: A Familiar’s Tale” is a flawless fantasy for any age. There’s adventure, magic, family, battles, talking animals, secrets, all told with living emotions and humour. Ms. McKinnon’s comic timing is spot on.
I’m happy to hear book two is on its way…book three? Four? Five? More?
I dare you to not fall in love with Mellypip and friends.
SHADES OF GREEN
Z’thandra, the last swamp elf in Aphanasia, lives with the Reptar, a fierce race of lizard-people, most of whom resent her presence and want her gone from their village. When she discovers a human in the swamp and falls in love with him she must face the most difficult decision of her life. Will she pursue a life of happiness with the man she loves and in doing so condemn the Reptar to extinction, or will she chose to sacrifice her future to offer them hope? In the end the choice she makes will affect the Reptar for generations.
This review has been an extremely long time in coming for which I apologize to Ms. Parrish.
Visiting this world was refreshing…where else do you find a community of lizard-people who are not automatically bad guys. Then there’s Z’thandra. She tries to fit in. She loves her adopted family, but how do you say no to your heart. A heart divided between a stranger and family. Something always has to give.
This story played out in my mind without hesitation. It’s a world I haven’t experienced, a culture I haven’t seen developed before…some may say my reading experience hasn’t been fully exposed then, but I’ll agree to disagree based on how much I have read.
Is the ending or lead up to the final scene predictable? Maybe a little, but that never stopped me from wanting___, yup, going to have to leave that blank in order not to give something away.
In the end, the title Shades of Green covers more than this story, it reminds us…me…that nothing is ever just black and white. There’s always a reason, even if it’s not the answer we want.
WHISKEY SHOTS VOLUME 17: THE BETRAYER AND WEAVING A DREAM
By Janet Quinn
Guardians come in all shapes, sizes, and needs.
“The Betrayer” tells the story of Gideon, a once hand-chosen guard to his Lord. Now, his Lord is surrounded by power-hungry Dorjan. Dorjan, who works at mastering Ancient magic, would see all the Ancient Ones in the city district, Amunador, dead. It is now up to Gideon to save the Ancient Ones and live to fight again.
“Weaving a Dream” follows the time of the Ancient Ones fleeing for their lives. Myna, a widow with two small children, is being drawn into abandoned Amunador. If found there, it would mean her death. But some voice compels her and as Gideon protected groups of strangers, Myna finds a way to protect her family.
Though a small book, Ms. Quinn’s tales have stayed with me. I hope she plans a few longer stories.
By Dr. Bob Rich
1) What makes people--people?
Does a person need two legs, two arms, a head on a neck with only two ears and eyes? What design changes would you make to the human body? Must a culture look like ours to be classified sentient?
2) What person/people would you pick to populate a new planet and save the human race?
Would you take a murderer over a police officer? What if the police officer had to kill to survive? A farmer over a pianist?
3) Invasion or visitation…ask first and shoot later or just shoot?
If there are intelligent life-forms, not us, out in the universe, how should they let us know? If they’re smarter than us, maybe they wouldn’t…shouldn’t.
4) Who says life needs oxygen to live?
Are we really that arrogant to think every single intelligent life-form must require the same elements as us to live? Why?
These are the three short stories and novella presented in “Bizarre Bipeds: What IS humanity’s place in the universe.” Together they provide a thought-provoking good time.
Dr. Rich’s quirky look at people structure did make some sense…I still like our current model. But he proves emotions matter over shape.
His other questions are questions my dad often asked, still no answers.
While I’m not a big science fiction reader, Dr. Rich’s telling strikes the right balance. He simply asks his readers to think as they enjoy his tale. He blends science, hardcore and way off the normal understanding, into an easy believability.
“Bizarre Bipeds: What IS humanity’s place in the Universe” is a good break read.
The Start of Magic: Part I of The First Story of The Ehvelen
By Dr. Bob Rich
Prepare: Some sexual scenes within context of storytelling.
Have you ever wondered about mankind’s first meeting with Elves? Dr. Rich’s series “The First Story of the Ehvelen” reveals his version of this historical meeting. But, is it his version or the true tales of the Ehvelen People just found?
This is not a fast read. Dr. Rich offers a compact telling of a nomadic tribe that is used to killing and stealing females to give them sons, and through the sons, power. These people, the Doshi, are barbaric when compared to the Ehvelen. And, to the Doshi, the Ehvelen are “Midgets” who possess magical powers. How else could such small beings kill Doshi males? How else can the Doshi explain the “Midget” females wearing men’s clothing and killing like men?
This first part is told through the eyes of Heather, a young Ehvelen girl who learns to survive as a captured slave of the Doshi. Becoming their leader’s ‘woman,’ along with his other ‘women.’
Heather helps perpetuate the myths the Doshi men share about her people. All in the hopes of ultimately defeating them at their own game. Will Heather escape; survive the attempt; and warn her people of the war that is coming to them?
As I mentioned, this isn’t a fast or easy read Dr Rich developed a complete tribal history for the Doshi never painting them as completely evil beings. The Ehvelen people’s history is sparingly shared via Heather’s internal comparisons and her conversations with the other women.
At times “The Start of Magic” reads with the calm quiet voice of a land’s Native People and, at other times, with the crashing and dominating destructive voice of an egotistical bully.
You must realize that this story is being told to us via an Ehvelen storyteller. This isn’t just a straightforward story of groups of people discovering each other. It is a written history of a mythical race of people that very few believe in anymore.
Between all there is pride of self; belief in self and ways of life; and that the other way is wrong. An interesting view of a classic tale of one people forced against another.
A very different Elf, Ehvelen, story.
The Mother’s Sword: Part II of The First Story of The Ehvelen
By Dr. Bob Rich
We’ve all heard the grass is greener on the other side, now we get a chance to hear it through their own words.
“The Mother’s Sword: Part II of the First Story of the Ehvelen” contains much of the same history as Part I; however, this time we see it through the Ehvelen’s eyes.
If you’ve read my earlier review of Part I, you will know that these are the stories of how humans and elves first met. They met via death and slavery. The Doshi murdered fifteen-year-old Heather’s Hunt Party and took her and Oak as breeding slaves. Oak escaped, but Heather was captive for about a year before she escaped.
Either Part I or II can be read first, neither are dependent on the other. This is where my interest lagged. Having read Part I, I found Part II to be slow and it never quite grabbed my interest. I’m not sure if the same would have been said if the parts were reversed, but the possibility exists.
What is offered is a look at the internal workings of the Elf/Ehvelen history that is not based on magic or superior secretive knowledge. The Ehvelen People, in Dr. Rich’s tale, have no knowledge of the world beyond their forest. It could be said they are quite primitive when compared to the larger world. However, the Ehvelen are intuitively smarter than the “Orges” (as they call us Humans). The Ehvelen quickly grasp new tools, bows and arrows, and sadly realize to survive they must learn to kill or be killed.
Dr. Rich has taken an interesting angle with his tales. He writes them as a lost civilization’s scrolls recently found and deciphered. Maybe they are?
I wanted to feel more for Part II; however, I ended up a little disappointed…in the other side telling of a same story and my own reaction. I believe if Parts I and II had been combined they would have created a much stronger piece.
I’m currently reading Part III and my initial reaction is much different…I’m falling into the tale with ease.
I would recommend reading Part I or Part II alone, at first, taking your pick as to which story side to explore. Then give yourself a break before picking up the other story side.
As always, Dr. Rich offers a different view on an old favourite genre.
The Travels of First Horse: Part III of The First Story of The Ehvelen
By Dr. Bob Rich
Can one person stop a lifetime of warring?
Horse, Heather-the-Mother’s son (the same Heather from book I) decides he must travel the world to learn how to defeat the Doshi. An enemy of the Doshi may just be the friend of the Ehvelen.
“Travels of First Horse” is a long detailed read. I know I did not give it the justice it deserves due to time restraints; however, that doesn’t lessen the enjoyment I had reading it.
Dr. Rich has me wondering just how much is true and how much was just his imagination. Don’t miss his bio at the end of the book.
Dr. Rich incorporates a multitude of people’s history and culture. His notes throughout add dimension to the translation of the Ehvelen’s tale.
Seeing these people (some being Egyptians, Ethiopian, Danish, Jews) through Horse’s eyes was an entertaining puzzle; I couldn’t always figure out their modern counterpart. I wouldn’t mind reading more about some of the people Horse encountered.
“Travels of First Horse” is as much fun and dangerous adventure as it is fantasy. I laughed at parts and raced through others.
I’m even curious about what was happening while Horse was away. The glimpses of Heather reading Horse’s letters weren’t enough.
When Horse returns home will he be instrumental in ending the war of his lifetime? I’m not telling.
THE MAKING OF A FOREST FIGHTER
By Dr. Bob Rich
A thousand years from now, how will we be viewed? Our enemies?
Once again, Dr. Rich takes us back to the translations of the historical stories of the Ehvelen People. This time the story is Ribtol’s, a Doshi warrior. A Doshi peacefully speaks to the Ehvelen and in return they record his story? Yes. Ribtol approaches the Ehvelen lands in the hope to stop his nightmares.
I find myself mixed with this tale. Dr. Rich presents vast histories and cultures of people as seen through their eyes and their enemies eyes. At any time either could be questioned as to who was the good guy, who the bad.
This led me to thinking of our own global history. When we are nothing but dust and words on paper (screen?) how will history remember any of us?
Dr. Rich’s Ehvelen/Doshi series should be read under far more forgiving time than I, as a reviewer, can offer. Dr. Rich includes a world of information that I’m at a loss how he kept it straight. The characters are numerous, yet are not lost amongst the telling.
If you are tired of the old tales of Elves, try Dr. Rich’s translations; after all he “has lived in 700BC, among the Ehvelen.” Well, this is according to his “About the Author” bio.
Prelude to a Change of Mind, The First Book in The Lands of Nod
A different tale of humans, elves, and dwarves…a very different tale.
I’m not sure how to describe this book. As a reader, I was just as confused as the story’s heroine, Meg Christmas. However, I wasn’t slipping in and out of consciousness seeing elves and dwarves…or in Mr. Stikmanz’s case thrm’m and dvarsh. I’ve also not been asked to join their “vast and desperate transconsensidimensional struggle.”
This is a new look at the myth/legend of humans and the magical wee folk. It wasn’t till around page 64…when the character Meg more fully wakes…that I could figure out what was going on. And, even then I wasn’t quite sure. I’m still not, but Mr. Stikmanz’s story is still weaving around my mind.
The thrm’m are written very poetically, which is easily explained given Mr. Stikmanz’s own poet background. Jackanapes, the only male dvarsh we’re introduced to, is a humourous flirt given to wild poetic tales. Ekaterina is a female dvarsh. I believe she is the only one who truly understands what is happening.
If you like prose-type writing and are looking for a new spin on an ancient tale, than you may enjoy “Prelude to a Change of Mind.” If you’re more a straightforward plain tale person, you might find this book a tad ‘out there.’
Either way, I am fence sitting on this book. “Prelude to a Change of Mind” is uniquely different.
The Reckoning of Asphodel
By: Celina Summers
The calm before the storm…bringer.
This is not just another tale of human and elves. This is not just another tale of good over evil or even about kingdoms stolen. It is about friendships, love found, trust rebuilt, and magic.
Celina Summers’ “The Reckoning of Asphodel” is a fresh telling of one of my favourite fantasy themes. These are characters with new voices. This is only the start of what will be a permanent part of my personal library. Celina Summers is one of the few authors I contacted midway through reading and demanded she had better be writing more.
What makes me so excited about “The Reckoning of Asphodel”? From the prelude onwards there is a quiet power in the heroine’s voice. Tamsen Ka’antira de Asphodel watched as her uncle killed her parents. And as Ms. Summers unveils these murders you will hear the determination in Tamsen’s voice. Her questioning, her fears, her sadness, her love, and her power are opened to the reader’s ears. I haven’t cried during a fantasy book in some time.
I could tell you about the battles, the magic, how clearly Ms. Summers has written her world, and her loyal characters. But, for me, this eBook is about emotions and Tamsen’s quiet haunting voice.
“The Reckoning of Asphodel” will not disappoint fantasy fans.
THE GIFT OF REDEMPTION: BOOK TWO OF THE ASPHODEL CYCLE
By Celina Summers
Every leader pays a price.
Once again Celina Summers captivates her reader. Once again we battle along side Tamsen Ka`antira de Asphodel as she struggles against her evil uncle.
Once again we’re left holding our breath and again and again.
In Book One, Tamsen defeated the traitor, Jeshan de Callat. Now Tamsen, her husband Brial, her Ka`antira Uncle Wilden, and all are determined to see a just and independent King on the throne. Someone who will lead and watch over the people; someone who is not evil Gabril de Spesialle’s puppet…or anyone’s puppet.
Then and only then can Tamsen strike Spesialle; however, Brial may have some say in that matter.
Yes, Brial and Tamsen keep arguing, keep loving, and keep struggling to protect the other one. This relationship is the soul of Ms. Summers’ epic. She has created two characters that are each other’s foundation and the foundation for those around them. The very idea that this tale could continue without one of them is impossible. They are their perfect match, their perfect balance and counter-balance.
However, as with any heroic and effective tale, characters must be allowed to change and follow their path. How and why else would we readers keep coming back? We demand, even when we hate it, our characters to be real within the telling of the story.
Ms. Summers knows this and takes her readers on a world-wind journey of genre reality and surprises. Never ever underestimate what Ms. Summers has planned next.
Ms. Summers creates battles that rival any historic saga. Her leaders are precise and flawed. Her heroes are worthy.
Their sacrifices heavy. They have learned that with every blessing from the gods there is a price to be paid. What more do the gods/goddesses want from Tamsen?
There have been times I have felt cheated when reading a fantasy quest…Ms. Summers never cheats. Each of her books is packed with intensity and gentleness. Still she leaves you craving more.
While reading “Gift of Redemption” I felt there was an underlying meaning to Tamsen’s journey. There is more to her adventure and battle, she is learning her own truth, her strength of being.
How does a writer capture this? This is the craft of writing, which Ms. Summers dominates.
“Gift of Redemption” is filled with struggles, politics, laughter, secrets, and quests. I cannot tell you the entire story without destroying Ms. Summers’ masterful build-up.
Enjoy and let the surprises astound you.
TEMPTATION OF ASPHODEL: BOOK 3 OF THE ASPHODEL CYCLE
By Celina Summers
Can a Queen still be just a pawn?
Tamsen Ka`antira de Asphodel has brought the humans under one commander, with one goal in mind, now she must unite her Elven people. What she has fought against, she must now take…the Elven Crown.
Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it. After all everyone loves Tamsen, well, almost everyone. As any fan of fantasy fiction, and any fan of Ms. Summers, knows, this isn’t going to be simple. In fact, Ms. Summers keeps throwing more and more curves and wrenches in Tamsen’s path. Not only does Tamsen have a challenge to fulfill for her Goddess, The Virgin Huntress, but also a new player has entered the game…a most deadly ancient player.
Tamsen is one woman pitted against the politics of the Humans, Elves, and now the politics of the Gods and Goddesses. Is she strong enough to survive; is her marriage strong enough?
As a reader, we all love tightly written tales. Stories which move quickly and have moments of calm where we can breath a little, where the characters can relax before the next surprise, the next battle. As a reviewer, these tales make my day. I love books which carry me away with their telling and have me forgetting I’m suppose to be looking for the positives and any negatives. Ms. Summers continues to capture the reader in me, while making me, the reviewer, forget what I’m suppose to be reading for.
Ms. Summers also makes it extremely difficult for me to describe Tamsen’s adventures. Each time I start to write what TEMPTATION OF ASPHODEL is about, I have to delete and edit because I’m giving away something vital, something I wouldn’t want to have known beforehand.
Thank you, Ms. Summers, for making my family look at me so strangely as I bang my head against the keyboard.
Normally, I’m pretty good at figuring out the direction of any given series. If you read as much as I do, you’ll understand what I mean. Each genre has its own arc, its own path that is routinely followed. I’m not sure where Ms. Summers is taking Tamsen.
I have one more book to read, APOSTLE OF ASPHODEL, and where Ms. Summers takes me, I want to go, and, yet, I don’t.
I don’t want THE ASPHODEL CYCLE series to end.
APOSTLE OF ASPHODEL: Book Four of the Asphodel Cycle
By Celina Summers
Battle weary, yet hardened, Tamsen finds herself in yet another battle against Lamashtu, this time without the help of her band and her magic weakened.
It has been said, “all good things must come to an end.” It saddens me that APOSTLE OF ASPHODEL is the final book in the The Asphodel Cycle.
I’m sorry, I’m greedy and want Asphodel’s world to stay with me a while longer. No, rephrase that, I’m not sorry. I am greedy and want Ms. Summers to revisit Asphodel’s world.
There comes a time when you find an author whose words take you away to new worlds and adventures. You can’t stop reading and literally yell out during parts of the tale. And, if you’re really like me, you curse when the story is done. You’ve hit that middle point of happy the saga is over and everyone is safe (hopefully everyone) and downhearted the book is finished. Yes, I have emailed Ms. Summers demanding she not kill someone, to not do what I’m afraid she’s going to do. And, yes, I’m doubly thrilled when she hints at what’s to come next.
The APOSTLE OF ASPHODEL continues Tamsen’s quest to fight for her Goddess. Tamsen’s quest to bring peace to her world and to one day live a quiet life with her husband, Brial. For those who have read the first three books, you are well aware of this dangerous journey and the many pitfalls and heartaches our heroine has endured.
If you have not read any of the ASPHODEL CYCLE, I want to ask, “Where have you been?” however, that maybe too flippant. So, why keep it here and not backspace over it? I hope to share a smile with you as I stress how much you have been missing.
There are many fantasy quests with magical elements and battle-weary friends. A few have strong female leaders. The ASPHODEL CYCLE is my favourite. My favourite female lead. My favourite romantic couple. My favourite use of gods and goddesses and their use of mortals in power games.
Ms. Summers is a favourite author because I know each time I read her name I will not be disappointed.
BREAKING THE COVENANTS
By Celina Summers & Rob Graham
Vampires = Yes. Conflict and breaking the rules = Yes. Romance = it is sizzling, but works on many levels, I can mix with it.
BREAKING THE COVENANTS is my first taste of Mr. Graham’s writing, but I’m very familiar with Ms. Summers. My quick impression of this new series…another winner.
Our two main characters are Lady Marguerite (Margot) Giffard and Ritter Gunther von Wittershiem. Marguerite, as Gunther calls his love, is both a product of her times and advanced for her times. Set in and about the late 1700s, Marguerite is a young widow who understands the society politics she must adhere to, but still pushes their boundaries. She never planned on falling in love with a German vampire.
Ritter Gunther von Wittershiem is loyal to his world’s covenants, the laws his kind must adhere to in order to survive. However, his bitter feud with Comte de Conde Vire, Alphonse de Brunel will bring him to the edge of survival. Gunther, also, never planned on loving a mortal, never planned on risking the covenants.
BREAKING THE COVENANTS is the first book in the Vampire Covenants Trilogy and I’m hooked.
Anything vampire will normally hook me; however, I have found some vampire books to fall short of satisfying. I have always been a fan of historical mysteries, horror, and paranormal stories. By now, everyone should know where I stand with romance.
BREAKING THE COVENANTS is a steadfast vampire tale. In Ms. Summers’ and Mr. Graham’s world, vampires have realized they are a dying breed--an endangered species. If humankind learned their kind existed, and weren’t just images of nightmares, the hunt for their destruction would never cease. Their Conclave and Elders watch and rule over the vampire society living and dying by the covenants. The very covenants that now threaten their existence.
BREAKING THE COVENANTS is a historical adventure of political intrigue. Yes, the political intrigue is in vampire society; however, power plays are still power plays. Ms. Summers and Mr. Graham take their readers from England to France to Russia and back to France, weaving the histories of these lands expertly with their vampire world. Revolution is in the air in more ways than human.
BREAKING THE COVENANTS is a hot romance. There are a couple of heated sexual encounters between our Marguerite and Gunther. I cannot tell more about their relationship without giving the prize away. Let me just say…romance lovers will not be disappointed.
I’m amazed with any author’s work; I cannot begin to imagine how two authors work on one book. However, Ms. Summers and Mr. Graham worked, they seamlessly succeeded. BREAKING THE COVENANTS is a two-voiced tale. Where Ms. Summers and Mr. Graham write with one united voice, their story is told through Marguerite’s and Gunther’s voice.
The reader is allowed to watch their story unfold through each character’s view. Some would frown upon this point-of-view switch, but here it works. I enjoyed moving from character view, I found the authors’ management of this change to be crisp, subtle, and it moved the story smoothly forward.
In BREAKING THE COVENANTS you will be introduced to many other characters…the characters that guide, hinder, protect, and use Marguerite and Gunther. My favourite is Marcellin. I don’t want to tell much about Marcellin—he’s a character one must discover for oneself—I’m already hoping for a story of his own.
Truthfully, there are other characters within BREAKING THE COVENANTS, which could easily carry their own separate story. Ms. Summers, Mr. Graham, was that a subtle enough hint?
I am eagerly waiting book two.
ALIEN GENES 1: DAUGHTER OF ATUK
By Petra Theunissen
What if Reincarnation is only aliens cloning themselves?
Cathy is studying Ancient History when she meets the mysterious Professor Al-Abud and his associate, Dr. Eqin O’Connor. Professor Al-Abud wants something from Cathy…from her memories…from her very DNA.
“Alien Genes” is a somewhat strange read. Petra Theunissen takes the reader on a bewildering ride. Are we being watched, studied, experimented on by space aliens? Are some of us their actual descendents? Is Cathy ‘The Chosen One” who will lead the Antediluvians back to power, bring about their revenge? Did they build the pyramids in the hopes of contacting and returning home?
“Alien Genes 1: Daughter of Atuke” is a roller coaster ride. Combining real tales of alien abductions (whether you believe these to be real or not) with a writer’s imagination of ‘what if” “Alien Genes” twists and turns in directions I didn’t see coming.
In my opinion, “Alien Genes” is more science fiction than fantasy, which may explain my lower levels of excitement. However, I am curious as to where book two will take us. How will Petra Theunissen tie up all the loose ends or will we be left to question – what if.
A different read that’s worth reading.
ALIEN GENES: BOOK 2 - INFITALIS
By PETRA THEUNISSEN
So, you’ve accepted you are the DNA copy of an alien…now what?
We left Cathy, Eqin, and their friends running for their lives. Running from their enemies and from the Cathy’s alien-DNA ‘mother.’ Now they are back and Atuk is sending them to the city of Infitalis for reinforcements. Reinforcements that should side with Atuk and the Antediluvians, side with them against the Algidans. It was the Algidans who locked away those not of ‘pure of blood’ Algidans in Infitalis. Surely, these people want their own revenge, payback?
Is this a necessary journey or is Atuk testing Cathy once again?
What secrets are discovered in “Alien Genes 2 Infitalis”?
I did enjoy Book 2 a bit more than the first Alien Genes. Infitalis is more straightforward with its story. While I found the opening to jump a bit too fast from the ending of Book 1, Infitalis offered a smoother explanation of the civil battle happening on the planet Krinis.
“Alien Genes 2 Infitalis” really doesn’t offer any closure to Cathy’s start on Earth or the relationship between those who travelled to Earth from Krinis. This I would have liked explored, I believe it would cement the two books closer. As they are, I’m not sure why the need to start the series on Earth. Given the ending scene, maybe there’s a book three in the works?
The Alien Genes series is, in my opinion, for science fiction fans more than those who are strong fantasy lovers.
FLASHING SWORDS PRESENTS: THE RETURN OF THE SWORD, AN ANTHOLOGY OF HEROIC ADVENTURE
Edited By Jason M Waltz
Needed: one sword-wielding hero of epic proportions who fears no one and nothing. Must be willing to give up life for all others. Cunning instinct not required but it helps.
Warning: do not attempt to read in one sitting. To do so means to lose all subtlety…yes, even a hero can be subtle.
In reading this anthology, I have discovered I’m not a big fan of sword wielding heroes. I like this genre in smaller doses with less punch. However, like with other books I haven’t mix with, I believe the fans of this genre will love this anthology. Each story offers diverse heroes doing battle without ever being a cookie-cutter duplicate of the previous story or next story. In fact, at times each story offers its hero in a different phase of life and mentality. For that I can safely say this anthology is well balanced.
Also, writer E.E. Knight’s article “Storytelling” is something for all writers to read, no matter which genre they write.
The author’s you will discover within these pages are: Stacey Berg, Bill Ward, Phil Emery, Jeff Draper, Nicholas Ian Hawkins, David Pitchford, Ty Johnston, Jeff Stewart, Angeline Hawkes, Robert Rhodes, James Enge, Michael Ehart, Thomas M. MacKay, Christopher Heath, Nathan Meyer, S.C. Bryce, Allen B. Lloyd and William Clunte, Steve Goble, Bruce Durham, and Harold Lamb.
Illustrations: M.D. Jackson, Johnney Perkins, and John Whitman
By Christopher W. Wilcox, Sr.
What secret is hidden deep behind a blown up canyon home?
How many secrets are there? How long have there been secrets?
Okay, so you’ll discover the secret very early within “Aethereal” but I don’t have to tell you what it is. Let’s say we are not alone and who says fantasy creatures aren’t real.
At 345 pages, Aethereal is a fairly fast, easy and riveting read. What starts as a simple home explosion, mind you they used Semtex, ends up with two FBI Agents acting under the sole order and control of the President of the United States. If they fail all humanity fails…okay, a tad overdramatic, but what else would you say knowing that if they fail all of humankind will be killed?
At first, I thought the full story was just the hunting down of those who were set on destroying and exposing an ancient secret. Nope, from there it developed into a new relationship between humankind and a creature long thought to be found only in fantasies.
I found “Aethereal” to be a fulfilling read with much packed into this first book. There are literally two very different stories contained within these pages; however, Mr. Wilcox covers both the unveiling of this race of creatures and the subsequent joining of their kind and humans to fight a new deadly enemy seamlessly.
While I am looking forward to the next books in this series, I am wondering just how and where Mr. Wilcox can take his creation without it being too safe or too similar to other series (book and television). There is reference to the show “Stargate” and that premise did enter my mind before Mr. Wilcox mentioned it, via a character’s observation. I applaud Mr. Wilcox for recognizing and acknowledging this aspect.
I am enchanted by Astra and her family and, frankly, that’s more than enough to keep me reading.
AEthereal Revealed (Book 2)
By Christopher W. Wilcox, Sr.
The secret of the AEthereals is out - yes, Dragons are real and they have been protecting Earth and us for millenniums.
I love this series.
Mr. Wilcox has taken our Dragon legends and turned them into Protectors of the Earth…the only planet on which their young can be born and raised. Once humans discovered nuclear power and started playing with nuclear bombs, the AEthereals made themselves known to Presidents and struck a deal. Now, in “AEthereal Revealed,” the whole world will learn of this species.
Mr. Wilcox sets new dangers for his characters we met in “AEthereal,” as well as takes his readers in new directions of space and existence and questions.
This is part of my reasoning for loving this series – new directions. Some book sequels stay within the comfort levels of the previous books. The storyline continues with the same characters, staying safe and heroic, and just places new problems to be overcome. Mr. Wilcox does this; however, he moves his series forward to new planets and a larger scale of solving old world problems – disease, human expansion, and energy.
Mr. Wilcox does not sugarcoat those who do not welcome these positive changes the AEthereal’s bring. These people have the same greed and prejudice even when faced with new opportunities.
Do you have a problem with favourite characters, whether established or newly introduced ones, those characters who face challenges and danger, but always come out unscathed? I do and I don’t.
I do because it begins to be boring that no matter what is thrown at a character; you know they will always survive. I don’t because I never want to lose a favourite character. Mr. Wilcox pulls a few tricks with a few of my Book 1 favourites and some new favourites. Am I upset? Well, maybe a little; however, ask me if these tricks make for a better read. Yes, they do. Thank you, Mr. Wilcox. Another reason to love this series.
So, what do we have for Book 2 in the AEthereal series? The world learns of the AEthereals. Some humans are thrilled while some don’t want any change. Some AEthereals aren’t too happy about the conditions placed on their newfound freedom. New planets and species are discovered. Some favourites are changed. Ah, yes, the Grays are still a threat to Earth, but also might we be visiting the other Guardians, too?
What if Dragons were real? What if there really was a secret species living amongst us? Come join me while I read Mr. Wilcox’s take on these questions, you won’t be disappointed.
By Christopher W. Wilcox, Sr.
Mr. Wilcox, Sr. has gone and done it again.
“Aethereal’s Clans” is the same series with the same humans and same dragons; however, there are new Guardians and they are vastly different from anything we’ve seen before.
The Ursars are very Zen-like. There is a quiet strength to their beings. Never mind, in Mr. Wilcox’s words, they are “twenty foot telepathic purple bears.” The Ursars are the calm intellect humans’ dream of being.
Ursars live in Clans, communal groups of 100 members ranging from cub to senior Clan Father and Clan Mother. They are a polygamous family, physical love shared between any and all. Clan members rarely live alone as those who have, have gone rogue.
Deep within the Clan home is a workroom left by the Ancients. An Ancient machine changes/opens Spyder and allows him to communicate with the Clan. Spyder becomes telepathic.
Spyder is also the only human, at first, living on the Ursars’ planet. The Ursars’ earlier run-in with the rogue Aethereals left the Clan leery of all dragons.
“Aethereal’s Clans” is the Ursars’ story. It is our introduction to another Guardian species that are fighting the Grays. Will the Clan learn to trust the Aethereals and their human friends? Will the Aethereals and our favourite humans be able to help the Clan against the Grays.
These are some questions answered in “Aethereal’s Clans” but there are others that remain unanswered.
Questions that have me eagerly awaiting the start of “Aethereal’s Pride.” Please, Mr. Wilcox, you do answer some of my burning questions?
Again, Mr. Wilcox, you continue to create a fantasy world(s) that have quickly become my favourite(s). Your storytelling style is simple and minimal, each scene a perfect set up moving the story forward. I care about your created humans. Your Guardians are unique to each other and to anything I’ve read before.
However, I really must ask that you rectify one of your happenings in “Aethereal’s Clans.” Please say it isn’t so? Tell me you really didn’t do…what, you really think I was going to give it all away?
“Aethereal’s Clan” does not disappoint, now please excuse me I have “Aethereal’s Pride” open and waiting.
By Christopher W. Wilcox. Sr.
“Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”
This quote from the King James Bible speaks volume for the Leonid Guardians…The Pride.
As you may have guessed, our newest Guardians resemble our own Lions and yes, they are a patriarchal society. So much so that no lioness may speak or act without permission.
Forrest the Green and his mate, Laranja the Orange are travelling to the Leonid Guardians’ home world, Pride. Here they hope to reconnect with the Leonids and join forces against the Grays. What they find is total and complete destruction.
All that remains of the home world is one family: Ragnok, his mate Liara; sons, Firth and Rawli; daughters, Scora and Glia.
How will Ragnok adjust to worlds were males and females are equal? Easier than you might imagine.
A patriarchal society is one thing; a patriarchal society, which punishes a gender for learning to read, is something all together different. That is a society that is pretty much doomed. And it doesn’t matter which gender starts it, on the home world it was the disease one female created to kill her mate that cost all other females their equalities. And with this Great Dying, the Pride lost too much…including the ability to communicate with other Pride worlds.
What happened to the other Pride worlds and how did they develop once cut off from their home world? Where are those Guardians?
What about my favourite character who fell during “AEthereal’s Clans”?
Mr. Wilcox, once again, creates new worlds and new societies that he weaves into his existing stories moving to a conclusion I don’t want to see happen. I would be very happy to see the AEthereal series never end.
Mr. Wilcox captures my attention and as corny as it may sound, my heart, with each story. I like having minor characters move into a more prominent role and have the stars of previous battles move to the back burner…life’s like that. I want to believe someday humanity will be united.
I want to believe in Dragons and twenty-feet high Bears and prideful Lions guarding the universe.
And each time I start reading Mr. Wilcox’s AEthereal’s world, I do.
Isn’t that why we read fantasy, to escape and dream?
Before I stop…
…turning into what?
…how dare you let…die!
…whoa, who saved…?
…there’s more, right?
By Christopher W. Wilcox, Sr.
It saddens me to say AETHEREAL’S CHILDREN may be the last Aethereal book. I’m thrilled to say, if this is to be the end then I’m satisfied…more would still be good.
AETHEREAL’S CHILDREN takes place twenty years from the last Aethereal book. The Gray invasion was stopped and life has turned to rebuilding and changing roles. AETHEREAL’S CHILDREN are the human Guardian children and their adventure takes them into the heart of the Gray world, and beyond.
Mr. Wilcox had a challenge with AETHEREAL’S CHILDREN, how could he bring his story forward, as a stand-alone, without a huge information dump of back history? His approach was appreciated. He opened this tale with “A Note from the Author” explaining this dilemma and giving his new readers a sense of Aethereal’s history without bogging down his current story. As the fifth book in the Aethereal’s series, this style works.
Spyder and his family are back. Their unseen back-story could have been developed as a smaller addition to this series; however, there is enough to satisfy why the entire family has been transformed via the Ancients’ medical devices. These changes, enhancements, are the Ancients’ own genetic codes that had been secreted into our human genome. Is humankind just an Ancient tool?
As mentioned, this tale takes the next Guardian generation into the heart of the Gray world. Previous mapping of the universes indicated life-supporting planets. Twelve Aethereal teams have been sent to investigate these planets never to be heard from again. Why? Are the Gray planning another attack? AETHEREAL’S CHILDREN will train, change, partner, and discover the answer—and maybe more questions, too.
AETHEREAL’S CHILDREN does have its flaws. Maybe a tad too much jumping between middle storylines, even a bit too fast in the final telling; however, these are not strong enough to take me out of the story.
I did want more Ebon (Leader of the Aethereal Council and Guardian of Earth) and his sister, Astra, the White. Along with a few other Guardians, these are my favourite characters and we all want more of our favourites.
Mr. Wilcox brings this story’s to a full conclusion, but still maintains an opening to more adventures with additional foes. Think of these five books as one season to a favourite television show, each story grouping adds and answers as it leads us to a season ending or cliffhanger. AETHEREAL’S CHILDREN does not end with a cliffhanger, so you will not feel cheated—well not too cheated, more like wanting an extra bit more dessert.
I’m walking away, after finishing all five books, fulfilled and open to any more that may come my way.