Andy Peloquin

I am an artist – words are my palette

Category: Book Reviews (Page 1 of 18)

Sanyare The Heir Apparent Cover

Book Review: Sanyare: The Heir Apparent

Today, I’ve got something awesome: the Book 2 in a dark fantasy series I immensely enjoyed (read my review of Book 1). This was definitely a great read and I can’t wait until I get Book 3!

Sanyare: The Heir Apparent

Her secret is unraveling. One dangerous quest could end it all…

Rie thought she was an ordinary human. After she’s named heir to Sanyaro, the truthseeker and mediator of all nine realms, life becomes a lot more complicated. As she struggles to control her magics, Rie nearly falls prey to a brutal assassination attempt during a public ceremony.

Sanyare The Heir Apparent Cover

Blamed for the chaos, Rie’s escort, Prince Daenor, is taken prisoner. While Sanyaro tempers the political flames, Rie must once again chase after the truth. As if the threat of another great war and the impending death of her lover weren’t enough, Rie uncovers a dark secret that threatens to crack the very foundations of the faerie realms. When allies fall, can Rie overcome the odds… and the opposition?

My Review: 5 Stars

While the Book 1 was a bit more slow-moving, I found the faster pace of Book 2 much more exciting. I received this book in exchange for an honest review and I can honestly say I enjoyed it very much. The characters (Rie, Greg/Garamaen, and the accompanying supporting cast) were all a thrill to read, and I loved the exploration of the various realms in the world.

Wait until you hit the last few chapters: you’ll love the plot twist there! It totally caught me by surprise—not an easy thing to do.

All in all, an excellent Book 2 that makes me want to find out what the heck happens in Book 3 to bring the story to a close.

Here’s a Taste:

Rie expected three old hags and a giant loom. What she saw, was anything but.

Three women sat behind individual desks arranged in a giant semicircle. The dark-haired women appeared relatively young, maybe in their thirties by human standards, but all of them had to be far older even than Greg. Their fingers sped across computer terminals, and they shouted instructions into headsets as they worked.

“Lachesis, I need a new soul. Male, deserving of good parents. Headed to low nobles in the Summer Court,” the central woman said, her gaze focused on the computer screen in front of her.

“Got it.” The woman to Rie’s right repeated the request into her headset. “A third life is being pulled and prepped. Delivery in five.”

“Fatal accident in the Human Realm. Fifteen dead,” the central woman said. Her voice remained calm, as if the accident were expected.

“Reaper 5-2-6 was there and ready,” the woman to Rie’s left said. “Souls headed to the gates now.”

“Ahem,” the snake-woman interrupted. “Your ladyships have a visitor.”

The central woman glanced up from her terminal and smiled. “Ah, yes,” she said. “Apprentice Sanyare. We’ve been expecting you!” She paused, glancing back at her screen. “Accidental death due in the Winter Court. Avalanche will catch an unprepared ice gnome in twenty.”

“Reaper 2-2-2 head out.”

“Sorry about that,” the central woman said again. “Unfortunately, fate waits for no man or woman. Even us. Now where was I?”

“I believe you were about to introduce yourself.”

“Yes, of course. I am Clotho, to my left is my sister, Lachesis, and to my right my other sister, Atropos.”

“Why am I always the other sister? Why can’t I go first for once?” Atropos said, bitterness underlying the teasing tone.

“Birth comes before death, dear. It only makes sense.”

“Then why doesn’t Lachesis handle the introductions?”

“Do we really have to argue about this again, in front of our guest? Do we have reapers standing by for the airline crash this afternoon?”

“Of course. My reapers know their jobs.”

“I was just checking to make sure I had relayed the accident. The engine will fail any moment.”

“We have it covered.”

“Talk about wackadoo,” Niinka whispered. “These ladies need a break!”

Rie ignored her.

“Wonderful. Back to our guest. You’ve come about the broken threads,” Clotho stated. There was no question. She knew exactly why Rie was there and where she needed to go.

“You’ve noticed the deaths?” Rie asked.

“Of course! At first we thought it was just a system glitch. They happen occasionally when the computers don’t synch up properly,” Clotho said.

“I can’t believe you use computers,” Rie said.

“You think we’re too old?” Clotho replied, a teasing twinkle lighting her eyes. “No, when the humans invented computers, we were thrilled! The weaving had become so complicated, we were losing track of threads. Now, we write code. Much easier to manage a database than a giant loom. Trust me.”

Rie tilted her head to the side and smiled. “I do.”

Atropos took up the story. “Anyway, when my reapers went to the Shadow Realm to clean up the mess, the souls were gone.”

“The Shadow Realm?”

“There have been other realms involved, but it started there,” Clotho said.

“The reapers believe that girl was responsible. Meddling fool,” Atropos added.

“Who?” Rie asked.

“Faerleithril.”

“Why we gave that girl the ability to sever souls…” Lachesis drifted off with a shake of her head. She seemed to simultaneously pay attention to the conversation and lose herself in her own thoughts.

“Even so, she should never have had the ability to steal a soul’s life force,” Clotho said. “We didn’t give her that much power.”

“If you didn’t give her the ability, how did she get it?” Rie asked.

“We don’t know. She’s a clever girl, though. Don’t underestimate her,” Clotho said.

“Live and learn. Now, only summerland souls can be borne to the long-lived elves,” Lachesis added.

“She’s been exiled from the Shadow Realm,” Rie said, trying to get back on track.

“Yes, we know,” Clotho replied, her gaze focused on her screen. “Damn, another earthquake in Asia. It’s a mess down there.”

“Natural disaster squad eighteen, you’re up,” Atropos said into her headset.

Rie let out a frustrated breath. This was getting nowhere. “I need to know about the three deaths. The assassins Faerleithril severed in the high court. Lord Garamaen thought you could tell us what happened.”

“That boy. He thinks he commands the fates? Bah,” Atropos said.

“We gave him the power. He has the right,” Lachesis said, speaking for the first time. “I remember spinning his soul.” She sighed, a wistful expression smoothing her expression as she gazed into the distance. “He’s an original, you know. My first golden thread.”

“And you gave him too much power. We’ve all agreed,” Atropos said.

“You agreed, dear sister, not me. I’ve always thought his was a strong and worthy soul.” Lachesis returned to her computer, typing out more commands. “The next batch of souls for the Human Realm are queued up and ready for distribution, Clotho.”

“Just in time, I’m on my last five hundred.”

“I’ll get to work on the next set.”

“But what about the Upper Realm assassins?” Rie tried again.

“Faerleithril severed their threads. Find her, and you find your answers,” Atropos said. “I had nothing to do with it.”

“She’s a menace. She needs to be found and stopped.” Clotho’s gaze narrowed. “Take care of her, and we will owe you.”

“What about your Guardians?”

“We’re running a little short right now,” Lachesis said. “There are issues that must be handled in the summerlands.”

“Issues?”

“Souls have been disappearing —“

“It’s nothing you need concern yourself with right now,” Clotho interrupted. “Just take care of Faerleithril. It will be good practice, anyway. Maybe help you gain control of your abilities.”

Rie blushed, but let the comment slide. Of course, Clotho knew of her failures. She was the weaver of fate. She probably knew everything about everyone.

“Where is she?” Rie asked, returning to the question of Faerleithril’s involvement with the assassins.

“If we knew that, we wouldn’t need you,” Atropos snapped, gaze never leaving her screen.

Clotho rolled her eyes and gave Rie a knowing smile, as if to say ignore her. “We don’t know exactly where she is, but we do know where threads have been snapping prematurely. Start in the Summer Court. That’s where the most recent activity, other than your assassins, has occurred.”

“What about the three assassins? What happened to their souls?”

Clotho looked over at Atropos, her gaze asking a silent question. Atropos nodded. Clotho met Rie’s gaze with an intense stare. “They’re gone. We don’t know what happened, exactly, but the souls disappeared from the database. Deleted. Like they never existed at all. We believe Faerleithril has absorbed their life force, somehow, but we’ve never seen the like.”

“They didn’t deserve it,” Lachesis sobbed, tears trickling from her eyes. “Never to be reborn, never have a second life.” She covered her face with her hands, her shoulders shaking.

Clotho rubbed her sister’s back, her expression solemn.

“But you’re the Moirai. Don’t you control destiny?”

Clotho’s mouth turned up in a sardonic smile. “We’re not puppet masters. There are far too many souls to manage with any level of detail. All we do is set a soul on its path, watch the patterns in the cloth, and reap the soul when it’s time.”

“But —“

“The Greeks were wrong. At least, in part. A soul chooses its own destiny in its every-day decisions. We’re just the watchers and caretakers,” Atropos interrupted.

Clotho tapped her headset. “Ssierra,” she hissed into the microphone, “please have Judith meet Rie at the desk. She’ll need an escort back to the portal.”

Turning back to Rie, she continued. “Talk to the fire king and find Faerleithril. If you can manage that, you might be able to save your man from King Othin’s pit of despair.”

About the Author:

MeganHaskellAuthorMegan Haskell is the author of the dark fantasy adventure series, The Sanyare Chronicles, and Program Director for O.C. Writers, A Network of Published and Aspiring Authors. She lives in Orange County, California with her husband, two young daughters, and one ridiculously energetic dog.

 

Find the book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Sanyare-Heir-Apparent-Chronicles-Book-ebook/dp/B01LYJ0G78/

Find her on her website: www.MeganHaskell.com

Connect via the OC Writers Nectwork: www.OCWriters.Network

Facebook: www.facebook.com/meganhaskellauthor

Tweet at her: www.twitter.com/meganphaskell

 

Cloak Cover

Book Review: Cloak of the Two Winds by Jack Massa

It’s Book Review Wednesday, and today I’m going back to my roots with a fantasy novel that feels like something with a bit more of an “old school” feel. The flavors of sword and sorcery are always a treat for me!

Cloak of the Two Winds

Pirates, sorcerers, and witches battle for an ancient magical treasure

To the Iruk people of the South Polar Sea, the crew of a hunting boat is sacred—a band of men and women warriors bound by oath and a group soul. But when Lonn leads his crew away from the hunt to pursue his dream of a treasure ship, they find more than an easy bit of piracy.

Cloak Cover

The ship belongs to the witch Amlina, and after the Iruks carry off her possessions, they are robbed in turn. Worse, one of their band is also taken—Glyssa, the woman Lonn loves.

To rescue her, the Iruks must join forces with Amlina on a perilous voyage far from the seas they know. To Lonn and his mates, nothing matters but saving Glyssa. But Amlina knows much more is at stake. Among her possessions is an object of ancient power. In the wrong hands, the Cloak of the Two Winds can unravel the age-old magic that keeps the world from chaos.

My Review: 4 Stars

I was given this book in exchange for an honest review, and I must say that I found it a well-crafted story with interesting, well-developed characters. I LOVED the “Inuit” flavor of the protagonists, as it was something rarely seen in other novels. Everything from their long-distance ice-skating to their ice boats was original and enjoyable.

If I liked the book so much, why did I give it four stars? I had to dock a star because I had a hard time reading it. The book didn’t draw me in and hold me spellbound. It was a well-written story, but I had to force myself to keep reading through to the end.

However, I have to say that it was an interesting book that is worth the read. With the fresh take on fantasy worlds and the old school “sword and sorcery” feel, it was a book I’d highly recommend.

Here’s a Taste:

The freezewind had blown in the morning, changing the sea to ice. Under an overcast sky the ice stretched in all directions, gleaming with a light of its own—a pearly light born of witchery. So all the seas had gleamed for an age on the world of Glimnodd.

Two of the Iruks had climbed from the hunting boat and were skating around on the ice. Two others could be seen on board the open, forty-foot craft, at the helm and atop the mast. The Iruks wore garments of deerskin and fur, with leather harnesses and hooded capes. Curved hunting swords and long knives hung at their sides. The skaters moved on ivory blades cunningly strapped to their sea boots.

Leaning on the massive bone tiller, the one called Lonn glanced at the two skaters from time to time. Otherwise his squinting gaze stayed fixed on the north, where a low dark ridge marked the Cape of Dekyll, the only visible land in all the bright emptiness of ice and sky. The Iruks had been lying off the cape for two days now, waiting. They had sailed to this spot because Lonn had dreamed that a merchant ship would pass this way, unarmed and laden with treasure.

“I don’t believe that ship is coming,” Karrol declared. The taller and brawnier of the skaters, she had glided up alongside the stern and stopped, looking pointedly at Lonn.

“I still believe it will,” Lonn said. “Didn’t the freezewind blow this morning? Haven’t I said all along that in my dream we captured this galleon on ice?”

“Yes,” Karrol said, “the freezewind blew this morning. And because we were lying at anchor the boat got frozen in, and it took us half the day to chop free. The freezewind often blows this time of year. That is why Tathian merchants don’t sail in this season. Their galleons are slow and too easily caught in the ice.”

Lonn made no answer, but continued staring toward the Cape of Dekyll. He was starting to regret convincing the others to follow his dream.

But the dream had seemed so vivid, the opportunity so rare and vast. The Iruk people believed in dreams, especially ones that came during a hunt. And as leader of the klarn, the hunting band, if Lonn had not argued forcefully to follow such a dream…Well, what kind of a leader would he be?

“This is senseless,” Karrol said. “One day we are hunting yulugg with twenty other boats, chasing a good-sized herd. Then Lonn happens to dream of a ship. Now we lie off an empty point of land, alone, and nothing happens. I’d rather Lonn had dreamed of yulugg.”

“Perhaps Lonn will dream of yulugg,” Eben called from the masthead, “when the season comes for hunting ships.”

Karrol snorted, and out on the ice Draven chuckled. Lonn clenched his jaw and glared at the north. He was beginning to wish he haddreamed of yulugg.

There were six in Lonn’s klarn, three women and three men, all of them young, none older than twenty, though all were full-fledged warriors. At the start of the season they had taken a sacred oath, to sail and hunt and fight together, share warmth, food, and shelter. A klarn might last for many years, or it might be ritually dissolved at the end of any hunt. The way things were going, Lonn thought gloomily, he’d be lucky if this crew lasted the season—a sorry outlook indeed for his first voyage as a klarn leader.

Karrol hoisted herself over the rail and sat down heavily in the stern. “I think we should go back to the hunt. I’m going to call a meeting.”

“We’ve had a meeting on this already,” Lonn said.

“Yes.” Karrol was unstrapping her skate blades. “We agreed to come here and wait for the ship. So we’ve waited two days, and the ship hasn’t shown. I say it’s time to reconsider.”

Laying the skates aside, she rose in a graceful movement and stalked toward the forward end of the boat.

Sliding by on the ice, Draven threw out his arms in a shrug, then let them drop, slapping his sides as he showed Lonn an amused smile. Draven never seemed to lose his sense of humor.

Lonn shook his head. Pointlessly, he glanced at the windbringer, a four-foot fern-like creature that stood near him in a bucket of seawater. The windbringer looked back at Lonn through its single green eye. Though capable of understanding and making human speech, windbringers seldom had much to say to people.

Karrol stopped in front of the mast and lifted the flap of a low tent of white and gray hides. “Brinda, Glyssa. Wake up! Eben, come down from there.”

“I can hear you plainly from here,” Eben answered. “And one of us keep lookout, in case Lonn’s dream comes true.”

Brinda and Glyssa had kept the late watch until sunrise, then worked all morning to help chop the boat free of the ice. Still, they scrambled from the tent immediately, tightening loose garments. Their hoods were back, revealing typical Iruk faces—tawny complexions, high cheekbones, slitted eyes accustomed to squinting.

Brinda, lean and muscular, was Karrol’s older sister. “Why did you wake us?” she demanded, looking around sleepily.

“I want to have a meeting.” Karrol said. “To decide if we should stay here or go back and hunt yulugg.”

“You could have waited till we’d finished sleeping,” said Glyssa with irritation. She was smaller, delicate for an Iruk woman.

“We’ve wasted enough time here already,” Karrol said.

“We can hunt yulugg any time,” Glyssa said.

“You can sleep any time,” Karrol answered.

Not if you keep waking us up!” Glyssa said.

“Your argument just became pointless,” Eben called from above. “The ship of Lonn’s dream is rounding the cape from the east.”

About the Author

Jack Massa grew up in New Jersey and attended college in Florida and Massachusetts, earning an MFA in creative writing. His Master’s thesis was a science fantasy novel, Mooncrow, which was published by Berkley Books in 1979.

Jack spent the next 30 years in Atlanta, Georgia, learning and practicing the magical skills of the digital age. Bits of his fiction and poetry also surfaced from time to time. His science fiction story, “PrayerWare,” was published in the first Bantam Books Full Spectrum Anthology in 1988, and was later selected for a British Best-of-the-Year collection.

In 2013, Jack returned to Florida, where he lives with his magical wife, wonderful son, and a pet orange tree named Grover. He continues to practice technical prestidigitation while also focusing on writing stories.

Find the book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Cloak-Two-Winds-Jack-Massa-ebook/dp/B01GD9X3XC
Connect with Jack on his website: www.triskelionbooks.com
Chat with him on FaceBook: www.facebook.com/AuthorJackMassa/
Tweet at him: @JackMassa2

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Book Review: The Dead City by Dylan J Morgan

For Book Review Wednesday, I’ve got something out of the ordinary for me: a post-apocalyptic military thriller. Think Resident Evil meets Alien meets the Special Forces. All in all, one heck of a book!

The Dead City

Nuclear war devastated the planet of Hemera and shattered its main city, Magna. A century later, its sister planet, Erebus, despatched a team of soldiers to the city to rescue Hemera’s president and restore that world to its former glory. What the reconnaissance team found however was a violent mutated population—all they discovered there was death. Now, four weeks after the final mayday call from her decimated soldiers, Erebus has sent a larger force to Hemera’s surface. Colonel Paden is coming with them, but his desires go way beyond the rescue of the surviving recon team. A mountain of jewels and gold is rumoured to lie buried beneath the presidential palace, and Paden is here to claim the wealth he believes is due to him.

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Dropped into an unforgiving world, Ryan and the other soldiers of Erebus Superior Armed Forces soon discover everything is not as they thought. Magna’s population is more deadly than they could ever have imagined, their Colonel more corrupt than they’d ever known. Seeking refuge in the president’s underground bunker, the combatants are forced to sacrifice everything just to stay alive.

Bandit clans control Hemera’s dead lands and they’ve surrounded Magna in an effort to claim the fortune that belongs to their planet. Mutants control the city streets, but all they want is the taste of human flesh. Trapped inside the dead city, Ryan must fight against a mutated population—against the greed, betrayal, and hatred of those who stand at his side—in a desperate battle for survival.

My Review: 5 Stars

While post-apoc military thrillers aren’t my usual cup of tea, I found this one heck of a compelling read. I was given this book in exchange for an honest review and have to say it was absolutely one worth reading.

The story is mostly fast-paced and compelling, with only a few slow moments throughout. The zombies/mutants  weren’t too clearly described, but it was enough to know they were dangerous. Of course, the HUMAN antagonists were the truly interesting ones. By the climax of the book, I was only too glad to see them get their come-uppance. I haven’t disliked antagonists so strongly in a long time.

The book is dark and grim and vicious and bloody and brilliant. Definitely one I’d recommend to anyone!

About the Author

Dylan J. Morgan is the author of five novels, four novellas, and a short story collection, all in the field of horror and post-apocalyptic fiction. Now living and working in Norway, he was born in New Zealand and raised in the United Kingdom. He writes during those rare quiet moments amid a hectic family life: after dark, with limited sustenance, and when his creative essence is plagued the most by tormented visions. If you’re searching for that light at the end of the tunnel then stop looking—you won’t find it here.

Find the book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LDT7F2M/

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31329015-the-dead-city

 

Doorway to Death

Book Review: Doorway to Death Anthology by JEA

For today’s Book Review Wednesday, I’m posting my review of a short story anthology published by J. Ellington Ashton Press (the publisher of my The Last Bucelarii series). I’d say it’s definitely worth reading!

Doorway to Death

The doorway stands beyond man, at the end of a long hallway filled with sights beyond reason. It is a place where the universe begins and ends, where we begin and end, and deep down within our hearts, where we keep our secrets and imagine our stories, it lives there too. Come, join us at the Doorway to Death, enter and claim your end!

Doorway to Death

From the minds of Essel Pratt, Toneye Eyenot, Roy C. Booth, Axel Kohagan, Kent Hill, Michael Fisher, Coralie Rowe, Brian Barr, Lemmy Rushmore, Michael Noe, D.S. Scott, Kevin Candela, Jeff O’Brien, Magenta Nero, Howard Carlyle, Ts Woolard, Dani Brown, Magan Rodriguez, Jim Goforth, Alice J. Black, Dona Fox, and Brian Glossup

My Review: 5 Stars

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I’m not usually a short story collection/anthology reader, but I found this one a pretty fascinating read. Some of the stories were light-hearted and amusing, others cynical and cutting, and still others chilling and creepy. Not every story was perfect, but I enjoyed most of them.

What I liked best about this collection was that the stories were fairly short. As a busy person with limited time to read, it was nice to pick it up and get through a story or two at a time. The shorts held my attention and kept me turning pages, so it’s a collection I’d recommend to anyone.

Here’s a Taste:

There were no lights on in the nursery when the new family arrived home, and the altar that covered the gigantic pentagram on the floor would have to be moved before the ritual. Laura entered the house carrying her newborn twins tightly to herself. She went straight to the boys’ room and tucked Josh into his cradle. He was fast asleep and rolled over on his side immediately, dead to the world. His brother, Sean, who was literally dead to this world, was tucked away in his cradle by mom. She lit the candles that lined the walls. Their flames flickered, then brightened as a sense of ancient magical presence was growing within the confinements of the little nursery.

Preparations for the ritual would have to be made now. Laura knew the rules of the Black Arts. There were books upon books about them. She owned many. What she hadn’t learned from the countless tomes she obtained throughout her life was taught by an elder in the coven she was once a part of. Many lost rites were passed down to her. Everything from incantations to summoning of good luck demons who would grant any wish you so desired. Her witchmother claimed Laura was her best student. In time she was surpassed, and lost her value to the young pupil. At twenty one Laura became witchmother to her own coven of witches and a self proclaimed prodigy.

First, she must purify her body, starting with a hot bath and her prescription of placenta pills. It was time to begin her ritual regime.

Laura undressed in her bedroom, watching her body move in the vanity’s mirror. Slithering out of the wrinkled, stretchy maternity pants and removing the hospital gown she hadn’t bothered to change from for the ride home. Pulling the soft, velvet chair out from the vanity, she sits, placing her medications and baby bag next to her socked feet. There is a silver hair brush in the drawer that she brushes her hair with. She does this for an hour, one thousand strokes and no less. Placing the brush back in the vanity’s drawer, she takes a painkiller and a placenta pill, chasing it with the last glass of blood wine she had been saving for such an occasion.

In the stone worked bathroom of the home, Laura has a claw foot tub, centered directly over the drain in the middle of the room. A pump was attached to a rise in the rock floor, and hoses and tubes ran from it to the tub. The hot bath must be prepared before the ritual as well as her body. She enters the room and clicks the on switch to the pump. The motor buzzes, then begins pumping hot water and a mixture of illegally obtained amniotic fluids and nutrients into the tub. Once it was filled to her desire, Laura removes her socks and climbs into the sparkling potion to relax.

There were memories cascading through the dim lit stone decorated bathroom and Laura was drifting, calming herself into a trance-like state. She could feel the pills in her system, as they were absorbed by her craving body, feeding on their giving selves. Their nourishing matter mending all the broken parts, the stretched pains and pulls of the skin, healing the body, carrying it, lifting it.

There was a subtle invasion on all sides of her, beginning with a sound, and Laura listened, slowly rising through her senses. In her ears. On her skin. In her mouth. Through every cell within her wholeness, she could felt it with her soul.

“Mommy….” It said.

In an instant the pool of warm amniotic fluid quivered and held her motionless for what only measured eternity in Laura’s mind. She saw the slow swell in breasts and spirits as a dark realm arose. With her eyelids bleeding, split at the corners, and being peeling away from her field of vision, forcing her to witness the ghost of her dead son, Sean.

“Mommy….” It repeated in a whine, deep and guttural with death. It was doubled; the word was, almost like an immediate repeat, or a shadow of itself. The noise along with its own scent of decay, trailing. The eerie, shrill pitch was a continuous buzz in Laura’s head.”….Mommy.” It growled quietly.

The hold was unbreakable. Lifting Laura up out of the tub, fluid webs pouring around her body, flowing in some uncoordinated, contained manner. Not one drop spilling to the stone tiled floor, nor a splash, nor mist. There was intellect in this gathering of electrolytes and urea and proteins. This was an old entity, one that has existed in this realm, and many others. Long before man was even a glimmer in his God’s eyes, long before anything was, for that matter.

Laura was floating in a hardening amniotic sac, which was rotating around her like the universe to the sun, in an eternal continuation of the dance of life and death. And her Dead fetus Sean was speaking to her from between the worlds, from the jar of formaldehyde gel in his vacant crib, to the Dead Realm.

“Mommy…..you know what you musssst do.” Dead fetus Sean whispered, detached and dryly. The rising and falling of its ghastly words were almost unintelligible, but Laura knew what they meant, understood them clearly. She could hear her dead son’s thoughts. Feel his presence. “You musssst perform the ritual soon. Your doorway will clossssse within the day.” It gurgled from the crib.

“I know, my son.” She told him. “The preparation must be completed first. Then I will begin the ritual, and be with you both soon.” Laura was in tears. “I love you, Sean. You and Josh. I will not live without either of you this time!”

 

For more information:

Visit the publisher’s website (http://www.jellingtonashton.com/) to read about the authors contributing to the anthology.

Find the book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B015VLG1GY/

 

 

WOA cover

Book Review: Pawns by Patrick Hodges

It’s Book Review Wednesday, and I’ve got a treat: a Sci-Fan (Science Fiction blended with Fantasy) novel written by an awesome author I met and befriended at last year’s InD’Scribe Convention. It’s my first proper introduction to the SciFan genre and I’m happy to say I’m hooked!

Note: the book will be released tomorrow, April 20th, but it’s up for pre-order!

Pawns (The Wielders of Arantha Book 1)

Seven hundred years in the future, the Jegg – a powerful alien race – invade Earth, wiping out half of the Terran Confederation.

In a hidden base under the Sahara Desert, a team of scientists works to mount a resistance against the invaders. Their plan is to fit an Earth ship with Jegg folding-space technology, and travel to the other side of the galaxy to find a mysterious energy source… one that could help them defeat the Jegg.

WOA cover

But just before departure, catastrophe strikes. Only two of the crew survive and make it to their destination: the team leader’s wife Maeve, and her teenage son Davin. What they find on the distant planet will forever change both the future of their family and their planet, as they enter a race against time… and against impossible odds.

My Review: 5 Stars

I received this book in exchange for an honest review, and I’m very glad I did! This is my first introduction to Sci-Fan and have to say I enjoyed it quite a lot. The blending of magic and technology brings together the two things I love about speculative fiction.

I found this to be a very enjoyable novel, with a solid storyline that kept me reading without losing my interest. There were no parts where the story lagged or got bogged down by unnecessary exposition. Though it took a while to get interesting in the beginning, I was hooked before I hit page 100. It was very easy to read through the story, and I couldn’t wait to hit the climax and find out what the deal was with these magical stones that had called an Earther from across the galaxy.

I LOVED the plot twist (no spoilers) that shows up near the endpoint—totally caught me by surprise. The characters were well-written and easy to understand, even the villains. All in all, a solid book that I will definitely be returning to when the Book 2 is released.

Here’s a Taste:

Voris’s face scrunched up in anger. Turning to the Vandan who’d drawn his sword, he yelled, “Kill him!”

Holding the hilt of his sword with both hands, the man rushed at Mizar, who didn’t move. With a primal scream, the man swung his sword in a wide arc, intent on separating Mizar’s head from his body.

With a quickness belying his age, Mizar ducked under the sword as it sliced through the air. Calling upon his abilities, he directed a powerful bolt of compressed air right at the swordsman’s gut. A moment later, the man was flying backwards, his limbs flailing as he flew past his cohorts. He hit the water of the stream, but didn’t stop there. His body bounced across the surface like a stone being skipped, coming to an abrupt halt when he crashed head-first into a large rock that stuck out of the ground on the other side. There was a sickening crack of bone upon stone, and the man’s head fell limply under the water. It did not rise again. Only his feet and chest protruded above the surface, right next to a large red stain that now decorated the stone.

The stupefied look on the faces of the three men was almost comical. Composing himself, Voris gestured to the two archers, whose bows dangled slackly in their hands. Gibbering with rage, he spluttered, “Shoot him!”

The archers were only ten or so yards away from Mizar. At this close range, anyone with even moderate skill would be able to hit their mark. In one motion, both men raised their bows, pulled back on the drawstrings, and fired.

Mizar only had a second to react as the two arrows split the air on their way to him. With a slight wave of his hands, he changed the flow of air around him, thereby directing the arrows to zip past his head, continuing on their harmless trajectory.

Before they could hit the ground, Mizar turned in the other direction and waved his arms in a circle. As if they’d developed a mind of their own, the arrows changed direction, one banking left and the other right, sweeping around in a wide arc and climbing high into the air.

Mizar whirled around to face the Vandans again, moving his arms in a practiced, precise series of gestures, bending the air to his will. The raiders watched, goggle-eyed, at the arrows that seemed to defy gravity. Mizar thrust his hands forward, and the two arrows decided on a new direction. Before the archers could even react, the arrows embedded themselves in their throats.

Voris’s jaw dropped, his knife hand shaking visibly as he watched the last of his men topple to the ground, blood gushing from their necks and staining the grassy earth.

Satisfied, Mizar affixed Voris with his steeliest glare. “Only you and me now, Vandan.”

Voris didn’t move. He could only croak out a barely intelligible, “Wh-what are ya?”

“I am Mizar, High Mage of Darad.”

About the Author:

I currently live in Arizona with my wife, Vaneza. After years of writing for several different entertainment-related blogs, I have found new life and vitality by writing fictional stories about young teens and preteens that are entertaining for ALL ages.

For me, it’s all about the characters. I love creating characters that jump off the page, that feel like real people no matter how old the reader is. Because without great characters, you really don’t have a great story, do you?

Find the book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XSVGV86

 

Visit Patrick’s website: http://patrickhodgesauthor.com/

Find Patrick on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/patrickhodgesauthor/

Tweet at him: https://twitter.com/Shrykespeare
 

 

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Book Review: The Immorality Clause by Brian Parker

Today for Book Review Wednesday, I’ve got something very different: a sort of sci-fi-esque murder mystery novel featuring pleasure bots/sex droids. Definitely not my usual cup of tea, but a book I’d HIGHLY recommend!

The Immorality Clause

Easytown’s robotic pleasure clubs are a serial killer’s playground.

The futuristic slum in eastern New Orleans is a violent place where any vice can be satisfied—for a price. As long as the taxes are paid and tourists continue to flock to the city, businesses are allowed to operate as they see fit. Easytown has given rise to the robotic sex trade; where the robots are nearly human and always better than the real thing.

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Homicide detective, Zach Forrest, has never trusted the machines. When a string of grisly murders rocks the city, he must hunt down the killer responsible. With no witnesses, and no evidence, Forrest must embark on an investigation that will challenge the very scope reality. In Easytown, only the sex is easy.  Will Forrest find the killer before he becomes the next victim?

My Review: 5 Stars

Let’s be clear: I’m NOT a murder mystery reader. I received this book in exchange for an honest review, and I was pleasantly surprised to find it was one heck of a great read.

The main character (hard-boiled detective) is as expected, with nothing too special to make him stand out from every other murder mystery detective. The supporting characters are equally expected: from the love interest to the colorful suspect to the gruff chief. But that didn’t make the story any less enjoyable. In fact, they gave it that comfortable, “familiar” feel that makes murder mysteries so great to read.

It was the construction of the story overall that I find so great. There was no lag, no dull moments, nothing where I felt the story had stalled and was just trying to “buy time”. The pace was steady and engaging, with plot twists and turns that were interesting. I won’t say I had any “OMG!” moments in the story, but there was enough to keep me turning the pages to find out whodunit.

The world was rich and colorful, with that futuristic flavor layered in just enough to be interesting and unique without stretching believability. All in all, a well-crafted novel that I enjoyed immensely.

Here’s a Taste:

I held up my hands. “Wait a minute, you mean to tell me these sex bots can sweat?”

Pleasure droids, Detective. And yes, they would seem quite unnatural in the sauna if the client is pouring out sweat and they aren’t. They also excrete sweat during high intensity intercourse.”

“Huh. These things really are state of the art tech.”

“Yes, they are. Industry rumor has it that they’re also developing companion droids, not just pleasure droids. Future droids will think, act and respond as a human would.”

“Seems like we’re playing God.” Shit. I let the statement that I’d repressed that night at the Diva loose. I didn’t want to offend Paxton; the robots seemed to be one of her passions.

“I don’t know about that. Is it playing God when doctors have extended our average lifespan to ninety-three? Have you seen the elderly, Zach? Most of them sit around, do crosswords and soil themselves. Their bodies have given up on them, but science is keeping them alive—if you can call it that. There are the occasional exceptions, but for the most part, it’s a pretty bleak prospect.”

“In Easytown, the average life expectancy is only forty-two,” I deadpanned. She didn’t bite, so I continued, “Ah, I’m just kidding. I guess you could be right.”

“This next generation of droid will be a companion for those who can’t find someone to fit into their lives and don’t want to end up alone, known as the crazy cat lady.”

My perception of the companion droid fell flat. I was thinking of fat, ugly, lonely men buying a wife so they could get their rocks off at the house, but Paxton was talking from personal experience, from a place of loneliness and despair. She’d alluded to it a few times, her schedule and the type of job she worked scared men away. She was worried about becoming that ‘crazy cat lady.’ A companion droid could help satisfy her needs as well as help with all sorts of things. Hell, Andi could be considered a companion, I guess.

“Paxton, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to say anything derogatory about the droids.”

She looked up; redness surrounded the whites of her eyes. “It’s okay. I understand. You don’t know the droids like I do. If you added in an emotional capability, or at least the ability to fake it, and any of our CS98s could be that companion model. They’re so lifelike, and I know that everything they say comes from a massive database in their chests, but they do learn. I consider them my friends since my human friends abandoned me.”

About the Author:

A veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Brian Parker was born and raised as an Army brat. He’s currently an Active Duty Army soldier who enjoys spending time with his family in Texas, hiking, obstacle course racing, writing and Texas Longhorns football. He’s an unashamed Star Wars fan, but prefers to disregard the entire Episode I and II debacle.

Brian is both a traditionally- and self-published author with an ever-growing collection of works across multiple genres, including sci-fi, post-apocalyptic, horror, paranormal thriller, military fiction, self-publishing how-to and even a children’s picture book–Zombie in the Basement, which he wrote to help children overcome the perceived stigma of being different from others.

He is also the founder of Muddy Boots Press, an independent publishing company that focuses on quality genre fiction over mass-produced books.

Find the book on Amazon: www.amazon.com/dp/B01HWOH1VC

Connect with Brian on Facebook: www.facebook.com/BrianParkerAuthor

Visit the Muddy Boots Press Website: www.MuddyBootsPress.com

 

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Book Review: Gateway to the Past by Andy Peloquin

As is my tradition, this Book Review Wednesday will take a look at some of the reviews of my latest novel, Gateway to the Past. I’m obviously biased about, so I’m citing reviews posted by independent reviewers on Amazon and Goodreads. Thankfully, it seems people are enjoying reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

The Last Bucelarii (Book 3): Gateway to the Past

Bucelarii 3 SmallThe Hunter, legendary assassin of Voramis, has a purpose: protect Hailen, the boy he rescued from a demon in Malandria.

He joins a caravan in the hope of safe passage across the Advanat Desert. Yet he cannot outrun his enemies: the Illusionist Cleric on a holy mission to capture him, the bloodthirsty raiders out for blood and gold, and the Abiarazi, demons who masquerade as humans.

Every step north reveals who he was before becoming the Hunter, unlocking the truth about the woman who haunts his memories.

Reviews:

Amazon:

The Hunter is not your typical hero but something even better, someone we can relate to. He has gone through something and wants to reclaim his past. He wants to be better than he is presently and is starting to realize the damage to himself that the killing has done. And Hailen is the perfect light to all the darkness that Hunter has found himself. It just breaks your heart when he has to kill, even if it is for the right reason. – JBronder Book Reviews

The hunter in this book is becoming more and more human . He still has his half demon side that wants the blood of the evil . But the human side of him is starting to get his memories back and wants to find out what he was before becoming the Bucelarii . As he remembers the memories , you want to hug him and tell him that things will be ok. You also feel him start to think about his actions and how they work. He is growing and becoming more then just the killing machine he was in book one and two. – Patricia Statham

Goodreads:

This new volume of the adventures of the Hunter of Voramis is as action-packed as anything I’ve read. There is not a dull moment as the Hunter races against time to save the child who has come to mean so much to him. As the demon and the human battle for supremacy in his nature, his ultimate redemption is foreshadowed in his love, although he does not yet recognise it as this, for the child – yet, the child himself has undergone a strange transformation. Younger readers may take this series as a chain of swashbuckling adventures, yet to me it is a dark and dreamy voyage of self-actualisation, centring around the Hunter’s quest to redeem himself and stand in the light. Seen in either light, though, it is unputdownable. – Tabitha Ormiston Smith

Here’s a Taste:

The Hunter peered out from behind the silent wagon. Good. No sign of Kellen or Graden. He’d have to keep an ear out for the caravan guards, but he should have plenty of time. The patrol had a lot of ground to cover.

Grunting, he shifted the heavy load on his shoulder and darted out from the row of shelters, hurrying toward the outcropping of boulders he’d chosen specifically for his task. He ducked behind the boulders and hurled his burden to the ground. A grunt and muffled cry came from the bundle, and something squirmed within.

He’s coming to. Good timing.

The Hunter pulled back the canvas, and moonlight shone on Rill’s pale, sweat-soaked face and wide eyes. Blood oozed from a wound on the bald man’s temple. The Hunter hadn’t bothered to be gentle.

“W-What?” Rill’s eyes darted around, and his gaze fell on the Hunter. “What is this?”

The Hunter struck the man hard. “Justice.”

Rill made to cry out, but the Hunter stuffed canvas into his mouth. “Ironic, isn’t it?” His fingers twitched a corner of the thick cloth. “You spend every waking hour stitching up canvas. Fitting that it will serve as your funeral shroud. There was more than enough of it around your area to wrap you up.”

The bald man’s eyes widened, and he mumbled something through the mouthful of fabric.

The Hunter shook his head. “Better you don’t speak. Nothing you say can change what’s coming. Best you die with a bit of dignity. Watcher knows you had little enough while you lived.”

Soulhunger, sensing blood, pounded louder in his mind, and the demon added its eager demands.

“I never understood men like you, knocking around your women.” He squatted on his haunches. “Just doesn’t make sense.”

Rill tried in vain to shout through his gag.

The Hunter narrowed his eyes. “Did you know there is a special hell reserved for your kind? Those who take advantage of the helpless.”

He slipped Soulhunger from its sheath, and held the glinting blade before Rill’s eyes. “You may tell yourself she belongs to you, you can do whatever you want.” He leaned forward, and his voice dropped to a low growl. “Just because you can, that doesn’t mean you should.”

Rill’s eyebrows shot up, and his expression turned pleading.

The Hunter shook his head. “Save your excuses for the Long Keeper. You’ll be with him soon enough.”

With a vicious smile, he drove Soulhunger through the canvas and into the man’s chest. The gag muffled Rill’s scream, but the dagger’s shriek echoed in his head with mind-numbing force. Soulhunger’s gem flared, red light bright in the darkness. The Hunter grunted as a finger of fire etched a line in his chest. Power coursed through him, setting his muscles twitching, flooding him with life, and pushing back the voices in his mind.

Slowly, the brilliance leaking from the gemstone faded to nothing, and Rill’s screams of agony and terror fell silent. The Hunter basked in the stillness of the night. A soothing breeze washed over him, the chill soothing the burning of his new scar. Glorious silence echoed in his head. The voices had been sated. He had peace, for a time.

He straightened and stared down at the bundled corpse. Perhaps the Long Keeper will have mercy on you.

An image flashed through his mind: a pitiful figure huddled at the entrance to Rill’s tent, covered in filthy rags and reeking of blood and coitus. Rill’s desire to punish Gwen had made it easier for the Hunter to slip in, knock the fat bastard out, wrap him in his own canvas, and slip out unnoticed. The man’s absence wouldn’t be discovered until morning. Few would care.

He took a deep breath, relishing the cool scents of the desert at night. He would wait a few minutes until he was certain Graden and Kellen had passed, then he would dispose of the body, bury the canvas, and slip back into camp. Without the voices shrieking and pleading in his mind, he might even be able to catch a few hours of undisturbed sleep before the morning breakfast bell.

Tonight would be a good night.

 

Find the book on Amazon…

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Book Review: Emperor for an Eclipse by Eris Adderly

Today I’m bringing you something a tad different than my usual fare—a fantasy book that’s a bit saucier and dirtier than I’m used to reading. The author is a romance writer branching out into fantasy, and overall she NAILED it with this book.

Emperor for an Eclipse

He was expendable. He was a sacrifice. He was the emperor.

An_Emperor_for_the_Eclipse_Cover_614x960Raothan Ga’ardahn wants to take his own life. Twelve years in exile have a way of beating a man down, and the shameful secrets of his past, no matter how far buried, weigh enough to keep him that way. The last thing standing between him and oblivion is a sign from the gods. That, and a unit of Imperial Guard trooping onto his farm one late summer’s afternoon.

Across the continent, the Taunai heed the warnings of their dead: act to correct an unforeseen fracture in the Pattern of events, or face annihilation. Niquel, their bravest Questioner, accepts the challenge to descend into the dangerous lowlander capital for the good of her people. A journey alone away from her snowy mountain home awaits. Any worry about the strange man in her dreams will have to come later.

When the paths of the two outsiders cross on the steps of the imperial palace at Protreo, the fate of the empire shifts. One the Novamneans call ‘exile’, the other they call ‘witch’. Neither will ever be the same.

My Review: 5 Stars

I found this to be a HIGHLY engaging read, one of the best fantasy novels I’ve read this year.

Make no mistake: I’m not real big on sex/erotica in novels, and this had it in spades. Perhaps a tad too much  focus on the sex and all for my tastes, without as much focus on the story.

But the world is bright, colorful, engaging, and well-described, with vivid details that make it an absolutely enthralling read. The backstories are interesting, and I was so disappointed that I didn’t get to find out more about the antagonists and protagonists. Thankfully, there will be two more books for me to get more details on what’s going on.

If you like fantasy and erotica, this is a book you’ll definitely enjoy!

Here’s a Taste:

Raothan bent back to his task, using the repetitive motions to smother away nagging thoughts and urges. Before long, he was in that still place with only his breathing and the sensations of the moment: the sun on his back, rind and stalk moving under his hands, the scent of warm earth in his nostrils, hoofbeats …

Hoofbeats?

He cocked his head, focusing his attention on the muted thudding. His farm was, if not remote, at least a short ride form the main road. There would be no one with occasion to lead a horse out this way, and damn sure not more than one. Still, his ears didn’t lie. He stood and turned in the direction of the sound.

A sprig of something dark bounced over the rise, growing as it came. Raothan knew that silhouette. The years would not let him forget. A spear point, aimed at the sky from horseback. Another black point joined the first, and then another. A rider’s helm, the pointed ears of a mount. Two, three, ten …?

J’rt Thi’s fucking blood, what’s this now?

He tucked the harvest knife into his belt and dusted his palms together, knocking away the worst of the dirt. The approaching riders—some sort of guard unit, if his impressions served him—came on at a walk: casual, confident, not even bothering to press their mounts into a trot.

They were cutting a straight path in his direction, and his steps took him back to the near edge of the field where it abutted the yard surrounding his house. What was there to do but meet them and learn their business?

Probably some fool new decree being enacted. A tax levy, I’ll wager.

The riders jangled up, bits of tack glinting under the noon light, two columns of five splitting apart and fanning out into a semi-circle before him. An eleventh man, who’d ridden in at their head, stepped his horse forward. Raothan crossed his arms over his chest.

“Look at this one,” he heard one of the riders mutter to a neighbor, “head shaved like he thinks he’s some kind of warrior.”

“The general would shit a sword,” the other agreed on the low assessment of this foreigner standing before them.

The leader swept a hand to the side for silence.

“Are you Ga’ardahn?” he said.

Raothan suspected the man already knew the answer to his own question. How many other Elvigra kissmelon farmers could there be out here?

He laid a finger alongside his nose and then angled it at the man, acknowledging the accuracy of his guess. “It seems I am.”

His eyes skimmed the line of what he now was sure were Imperial Guard. The Emperor’s sigil—a pair of crossed swords beneath a crescent moon—fluttered on blue pennants strung around the shoulders of every horse. Raothan noted the bulk of muscle distributed among the riders, the sharp eyes and taut grips. There were seven men and three women. None of them looked as though they had seen lives of ease. They were not here for a tax levy.

The leader nodded once at Raothan’s confirmation and tugged a folded leaf of parchment from a saddle pocket. He opened it and began to read, his voice carrying and formal.

“Raothan Ga’ardahn, you are hereby summoned to the Imperial Palace at Protreo Novamne Solarius by the order of His Excellency, First Councilor Ptyverias Firsoni. You are to meet with the First Councilor to discuss your forthcoming duty to the Empire. Accommodations will be provided at the pleasure of His Excellency.”

The man looked up from the parchment at him. “Do you come to the palace of your own will, Ga’ardahn, or do we drag you behind one of our horses?”

Raothan stood there, assessing, holding the leader’s dark-eyed gaze. The fact that he felt the need to ask if Raothan would be willing did not bode well at all. He narrowed his eyes.

“Let me see the summons,” he said, taking a step forward and putting out his hand. The leader sneered.

“Can you even read, ‘vigra?”

He kept his hand out and moved to stand beside the horse. Something twinkled in the man’s eye, and he handed the parchment down, amused. The leader shrugged and quirked a smile at his unit, as if to say, “This ought to be entertaining.”

Raothan read the content of the summons with no trouble, backing away several steps as he did. It was all there, just as the man had read it. What it meant was anyone’s guess.

Being an exile wasn’t a crime in Novamne, nor was being an immigrant, rare though the Elvigra were on this side of the mountains. And his “forthcoming duty to the Empire”? He shook his head. Even if they knew what he was …

No. It doesn’t matter what they want, or what they know. No more cities. No more empires.

“And whom do I have the pleasure of addressing, Guardsman?” Raothan met the man with a smile now. He straightened in his saddle and looked down a blunt nose.

“I am Ogdavian, of his Imperial Majesty’s Palace Guard. You may refer to me as ‘Captain’ ”

Raothan’s grin widened.

“Well, Ogdy,” he drawled, lifting the parchment, “you can tell ‘His Excellency First Councilor Firsoni’ ”—here he spat noisily onto the summons—“that he is hereby summoned to bend his prick around backwards and go fuck himself.” At this, he crumpled the parchment into a wad and with a decisive popping gesture of his fingers sent it rolling onto the dirt.

There were noises from several of the guard: a few growls, a chuckle or two, and Ogdavian’s face had gone tight. Raothan gave him a mock salute, turned on his heel, and strolled away, moving back inside his house.

“Somehow I expected no less,” he heard the captain say to his back. Then, to his guard unit: “Take him.”

About the Author:

Eris writes subversive romance for people who hate romance novels. Her award winning stories are the stomping grounds for bada** heroines, untamable alphas, a spectrum of sexuality and a serious disregard for convention. Much like her namesake, Eris likes to make trouble. When she’s not staying up into wee hours writing, Eris also likes to read, baby-talk her cats, exasperate her husband, and obsess about writing some more. Somewhere in the middle, there will be pizza.

Find the book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Emperor-Eclipse-After-Exile-English-ebook/dp/B06WRPXT3V 

Read Eris’ thoughts on her website: http://erisadderly.com

Connect on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/erisadderly

Tweet at her: https://twitter.com/erisadderly

 

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Interview with M.L. Spencer

I had a chance to sit down with the awesome M.L. Spencer and talk a bit about her past, her writing, and everything that makes her an absolutely unique (and quirky) author.

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Hi, my name is M.L. Spencer. I grew up in an orange grove in San Bernardino, CA. That orange grove was my first fantasy world. I mapped it, built cities, towns, rivers, waged wars, fortified castles, installed conflicting political systems and differing religious ideologies. It was my first foray into fantasy world building!

And then a bulldozer took it all away to build a freeway.

So I built another world, this time on paper. Decades later, I’m still building worlds; it’s what I do. The only difference is now, it’s usually me who destroys them.

What were you like at school?

I was that person who could speak Elvish, recite every line from Star Wars, and of course no one wanted to sit next to in class. You know the kid I’m talking about.

Were you good at English?

Yup. But I failed typing class because my teacher thought I’d plagiarized a novel blub we were supposed to write and then type. He didn’t believe I wrote it on my own!

What are your ambitions for your writing career?

Which writers inspire you?

My favorite authors are Robert Jordan, Frank Herbert, and Stephen King.

So, what have you written?

Right now I’m writing a series called The Rhenwars Saga. The first two books are available on Amazon, Darkstorm and Darkmage. Darkmage won the 2012 IndieReader Discovery Award for fantasy.

Where can we buy or see them?

https://www.amazon.com/Darkstorm-Rhenwars-Saga-Book-1-ebook/dp/B01MT77SK9

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01MT77SK9 https://www.amazon.com.au/Darkstorm-Rhenwars-Saga-Book-1-ebook/dp/B01MT77SK9

What are you working on at the minute?

Right now I’m working on Book Four of The Rhenwars Saga

What genre are your books?

Dark Epic Fantasy

What draws you to this genre?

I like high stakes, turbulent plots, dark heroes, and complex villains.  I also like gritty realism as much as possible.

Why do you write?

I write to bring my characters to life. They exist as real people in my head. They must be freed!

What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?

I had a great idea!  And a great idea is a terrible thing to waste!

Do you write full-time or part-time?

I work full time and write full time. It’s basically a second job. I think I may even spend more time at my “writing job”!

Do you write every day, 5 days a week or as and when?

I am absolutely obsessive about writing. I’d write every second of every day if I could. As it is I have to come up for air and clean a dish or cook a meal occasionally. It’s hard, though!

Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?

When I am on a roll, my mantra is, “A chapter a day keeps writer’s block away!”  For me, that’s about 5,000 words a day.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?

I outline extensively before I ever set pen to paper. I will usually have one plot tangle or two that’s not worked out ahead of time, leaving it up to my muse to bridge those gaps as I go. Sometime this results in writer’s block, but that’s rare. Usually the solution to a problem will strike like lightning at the most unexpected moment—or in my sleep!

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?

The last novel I finished, Book Three of The Rhenwars Saga, was the hardest. It was difficult because I was putting together a lot of characters who had never been together before in the same scenes. There was also a ton of character growth and changes in plot direction—all in a land with no sunlight, which I had to world-build from the ground up. That took every scrap of my biology knowledge! Nothing came easy with that book. Nothing!  It was a struggle every step of the way. But it was worth it —I’m very happy to say that I think it’s my best writing so far!

What is the easiest thing about writing?

Dialogue. I can write dialogue in my sleep. Except for Quin; his dialogue takes me forever to come up with. He’s usually very formal, sardonic, self-deprecating, and insightful—all at the same time!

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

It depends on how busy I am with life. Usually six months. Although the original 230K word-manuscript of Darkmage was written in a whirlwind 40 days!

Do you ever get writer’s Block?

Yes. I can plot myself into a corner with the best of them!  Then I usually have to mope around banging my head on the wall until the lightning strike provides clarity.

Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?

Read other novels. Listen to music. Research. Seek inspiration in poetry and works of art.

If this book is part of a series, tell us a little about it?

The Rhenwars Saga is a tale about the conflict between two opposing philosophies of magic and the moral imperatives that drive them. It’s basically about two conflicting moral ideologies.

What are your thoughts on writing a book series?

I hate writing stand-alone novels; I get too attached to my characters and my ideas are usually ginormous. Short stories? Forget it! For me, it’s go big or go home!

Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you?

A little of both. I have an excellent content editor who keeps me humble. I am usually my own copy editor, although I did employ one for Darkstorm.

Do you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit?

I try to. I usually fail at this. I can’t stay away from a fresh manuscript!

Tell us about the cover/s and how it/they came about.

My covers were done by Claudia McKinney and Teresa Yeh at phatpuppyart.com. My 16-year-old daughter and I selected the models for the covers from looking over pics at a modeling agency—what a great time that was! In all fairness, we picked both models because of the personalities they projected, which was far more important to us than their looks.

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How are you publishing this book and why?

Indie!
What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?

The main advantage to publishing Indie is that I retain my rights. I don’t have to worry about my publisher going out of business and having my rights tied up in litigation for years, a nightmare scenario I’ve heard too much about lately.

What is your favourite book and why?

Right now my favorite book is Patrick Rothfuss’s A Wise Man’s Fear. His lyrical prose his breathtaking.

What is your favourite quote?

Nietzsche: “If you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares back at you.”

What is your favourite film and why?

Avatar. Because it’s so unbelievably cool!  An entire world that is its own goddess formed out of an interconnected network that functions like fungal mycelium!  Incredible! And I just love the whole “stranger in a strange land” motif.  It’s always been a favorite of mine.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Don’t. Give. Up. Ever.

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

Usually poetry or literature. Darkmage is inspired by Nietzsche and Machiavelli’s The Prince. Darkstorm was inspired by the poem “Kubla Khan” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I play MMORPG games, teach biology and raise three children.

What does your family think of your writing?

They think it’s pretty cool unless I don’t come out of the room for five days straight. They usually start missing me when the dishes stack up.

 

Have you ever gotten into a bar fight?  Came really close. Almost got my boyfriend clobbered by a one-armed biker!

Do you drink? Smoke? Gave all that up. Now my main vice is coffe.

What is your biggest fear? That I will lose my memory when I age.

What do you want your tombstone to say? She wrote.

What secret talents do you have?

I am pretty good at music composition. One piece I had a big hand in creating had over 25 million likes on YouTube, last time I checked.

Do you dream? Do you have any recurring dreams/nightmares?

When I was a kid, I used to have a recurring dream of a ghost train that whooshed out of my bedroom closet, chugged down the stairs, and then sped off into the night across the orange groves.  Too much Stephen King for me!

Within Stranger Aeons FRONT

Book Review: Within Stranger Aeons: Lovecraft’s Mythos in the 21st Century

For today’s Book Review Wednesday, I have something a bit different: an anthology of tales of a very Lovecraftian nature. For those who enjoy proper horror, it’s a collection definitely worth reading!

Within Stranger Aeons

There are dimensions beyond that which is known to man. They are realms as vast as space and older than time itself. In these realms are beings beyond light and shadow, beyond good and evil, and there lie harbingers of the end of the human age.

The stars are right.

Within Stranger Aeons FRONT

This is the epoch of terror & devastation. It is an age which is…Within Stranger Aeons.

Featuring stories and poems by: Michael Fisher, H.P. Lovecraft, Andew Bell, Mord McGhee, Juan J. Gutierrez, Owen Barrass, Kevin Candela, William Henry Tucker, Roy C. Booth, Ashley Dioses, Andrew J. Lucas, Essel Pratt, G. Zimmerman, Brian Barr, Mark Woods, Justin Hunter, Amanda M. Lyons, Dona Fox, Charie D. La Marr

My Review: 4 Stars

More than just short stories–a glimpse into a world where the horrors you dare not think of could very well come true!

As with any collection of short stories, there are some that hit the mark and some that fall short. A few of these are merely interesting tales, while others will send a shiver to the very marrow of your bones.

The first offering, composed by H.P. Lovecraft himself, sets the tone for the book. The brooding Chthonic feel of these stories will have you quaking in your shoes and turning the lights up just a bit brighter. You will never look at rock concerts, empty bathtubs, icy ponds, or the Everglades the same way again. If the authors of these shorts have their way, you will never sleep again…

 

Find it on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01G0RD7A6/

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