Andy Peloquin

I am an artist – words are my palette

Category: Book Reviews (Page 1 of 18)

ROGUE 2

Book Review: Rogue by Martyn Halm

I’m happy to once again bring you a book from the Katla Sieltjes series, one of my favorite modern-day series about the bad-ass assassin Katla! I reviewed both Book 1 and Book 2 in the series, and this new one is an amazing continuation in a great series.

Rogue

Freelance assassin and corporate troubleshooter Katla Sieltjes runs her business of disguising homicide below the radar of law enforcement, but when her latest target is a judas goat intended to draw her out into the open, the hunter becomes the hunted.

Fooling local law enforcement can be challenging, but hiding from intelligence communities aiming to enlist Katla for their dirty work might prove impossible.

ROGUE 2

With Homeland Security, DEA, and the German BKA joining forces with Dutch Intelligence in an effort to track down Loki Enterprises, not only Katla’s future is threatened, but also the lives of her lover and his friends.

My Review: 5 Stars

I breezed through this book in a couple of days—I just couldn’t put it down! From the first page, the rich descriptions of Amsterdam (and other cities the characters visit) drew me in, and it was a true pleasure to return to the world of Katla, Bram, and the other awesome characters created by the author.

The story was fast-paced, with not a dull moment. I can’t wait until I get to read the next book in the series!

Here’s a Taste:

Unlike his girlfriend, Bram Merleyn seemed unperturbed by the situation. Or maybe it was the VIP lounge instead of an interrogation room. He had taken off his shoes, and sat cross-legged on a leather sofa, hands resting on his knees. Together with the half-smile on his face, the blind man exuded a Zen-like calm, as if he was detained by the police on a regular basis. Polak planted the tripod and switched on the camera while the Chief Inspector sighed and took a seat opposite Merleyn.

“I’m sorry,” Basalt said. “This must be quite a blow for you.”

“This?” Merleyn tilted his head. “You have to be more specific.”

“Your girlfriend being questioned for killing someone.” The Chief Inspector paused, then said, “How long have you known her?”

“Long enough.” Merleyn rolled his head like a boxer. “Long enough to know you’re wrong.”

“You’re sure?”

“Absolutely. Business is war, but she’s only shrewd and ruthless within the confines of a boardroom.”

“Strange. I look at your girlfriend and I see a headstrong young woman. Not the type to cuddle babies or pet puppies, but the cool executive type.”

“With the emphasis on executive, right?” Merleyn gave him a smug smile. “She works in a male-dominated environment, where femininity equals subservience. To command respect she projects a tough image. Apparently convincing enough to fool you.”

“You’re saying her attitude is an affectation? I’m sorry, but I don’t buy that. I saw her stab a man to death.”

“Stab?” Merleyn leaned forward. “With a knife?”

“Yes.”

Merleyn flashed the Chief Inspector a wry smile. “Quite an achievement for someone who cannot stand the sight of blood.”

“What do you mean?”

“She can’t even look at a rare steak without going woozy.”

“We recorded her every move.” The Chief Inspector’s soft voice grew apologetic. “She killed someone in front of a security camera.”

Merleyn sat up straight again. “Seeing is believing.”

“You don’t believe me?”

“If you have her on tape, what are you talking to me for?”

“Background information.”

“Meaning, she wouldn’t tell you anything.” Merleyn snorted. “Maybe she made the correct assessment and I should follow her lead.”

“You paint a different picture than what I’ve seen so far,” Basalt said. “You sound convincing, but can you prove she’s like you say she is?”

“Prove?” Merleyn titled his head. “You’ve seen her limp?”

“Yes.”

“Did she tell you how she got it?”

Basalt shrugged. “I didn’t ask.”

“Last summer she spent a week in England for business meetings. I wasn’t able to accompany her, I had other commitments.”

“What is it you do?”

“I’m a musician. Anyway, she rented a motorcycle to ride around the countryside. Her way of unwinding. Despite her considerable experience riding motorcycles she ran off the road into a fence and skewered her thigh.” Merleyn paused to let it sink in. “You know what caused that accident? She nearly killed herself swerving to avoid running over a hedgehog. She might not look the type to pet puppies, but appearances might be deceiving.”

The Chief Inspector fell silent. Polak was still translating the last words and the blind man cocked his head. His English was impeccable. “Do I have an audience?”

“A small one,” Polak said. “I’m also with Amsterdam Municipal Police, and translating for a colleague from the United States, Ms. Cohn.”

Laure automatically inclined her head, sighed at her own stupidity, and said, “Hello.”

“What agency are you from, Ms. Cohn?”

“What makes you think I’m from an agency, Mr. Merlin?”

“It’s Merleyn. You’re too far from home for local or state police. What are you? FBI? CIA?”

“Mr. Merleyn,” Basalt interrupted. “You implied that your girlfriend affected a tough attitude.”

“I didn’t imply anything.” Merleyn turned back slowly to the Chief Inspector and spoke in measured tones. “I know she affects a tough attitude and I told you the reasons why to save you confusion on the issue.”

“Could you be wrong about this?”

Merleyn didn’t hesitate. “No.”

“Are you telling me you’re infallible?”

“Can I have some water?” Merleyn held out his hand with the commanding presence of someone used to having his wishes fulfilled. Basalt nodded at Polak, who went to the water fountain in the corner and filled a plastic cup. His free hand touched Merleyn’s wrist before he lowered the cup in the blind man’s grip. Merleyn drank the water and licked his lips. “Thanks.”

“So,” Basalt said. “How do you—”

“How long have we known each other?” Merleyn smiled in the Chief Inspector’s direction with an easy familiarity. “You and me?”

Basalt steepled his fingers. “I don’t think we met before today.”

“Right.” Merleyn put his hands together, as if unconsciously mirroring the Chief Inspector, then pointed at Basalt with his fingertips. “How do I know you are fifty‑plus years old, smoke cigars, don’t pay much attention to trends or fashion, are overweight, Protestant, and recently divorced?”

Basalt moved back imperceptibly, as if Merleyn had pushed him back in his chair.

Merleyn placed his hands on his knees again. “Am I right?”

“Yes. Yes, you are. How did you guess?”

“I didn’t ‘guess’, Chief Inspector. I pay attention.”

“Neat trick.”

“Don’t try to reduce my deduction to a parlour trick. You’re easy to read. You refer to my girlfriend as a ‘young woman’, so you’re obviously twenty or more years older. The cigars wasn’t difficult, nor the trends and fashion bit. The atrocious scent you doused yourself in to mask the smell of your unwashed body can’t have set you back more than a few euro. The floor vibrated as you entered the lounge, you wheezed when you sat and the chair complained under your weight. And like most married Protestants, you used to wear a wedding band on your right hand, long enough to form the indentation I noticed when I shook your hand.”

Basalt folded his arms. “I could’ve been a widower.”

“Doubtful,” Merleyn said. “If your wife had died, you would’ve worn both your wedding bands to honour her.”

“Not my wife,” Basalt said, drawing a chuckle from Polak.

Merleyn didn’t crack a smile. “You’re too bitter to have lost your wife. So she left you.”

“Listen, we’re not here to—”

“You missed the point, Basalt. I don’t care about you. Now, if I know this much about you after,” Merleyn ran his finger over his watch, “seventeen minutes, imagine how much I know about the woman I live with and actually care about. You arrested the wrong person. I’d know if my lover has homicidal tendencies.”

The Chief Inspector held up his hands. “Ms. Sieltjes is being questioned, not arrested.”

“You saw her kill someone and you didn’t arrest her?” Merleyn wrinkled his nose. “You ought to be ashamed, lying to the blind. Your evidence is virtually non‑existent, isn’t it?”

“We have a recording of your girlfriend committing a murder, Merleyn.”

“Something that would hold up in court? That would unmistakably show my lover, a respectable and successful businesswoman, without a criminal record or even a parking ticket to her name, stab someone to death despite having an aversion to blood?”

The silence in the room became oppressive. Merleyn leaned forward and said, “You know what I’d do? I’d swallow my pride and apologise to her before she’ll make you eat your mistake in court.”

About the Author:

Martyn V. Halm lives in Amsterdam with two children, two cats, two rats, and countless imaginary characters vying for attention.

Writing realistic crime fiction is hard work, especially when you’re a stickler for verisimilitude. When your protagonist is a seasoned killer, research can take you right up to Nietzsche’s abyss. Luckily, things get easier after the first few killings…

Apart from being an accomplished prevaricator, Martyn already possessed an eclectic variety of skills that qualified him to write the Amsterdam Assassin Series. Skills he shares with his deadly fictional characters…

Find the book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00GO6VQ8O/

Read Martyn’s thoughts on his blog: http://amsterdamassassin.wordpress.com/

And his website http://tao-of-violence.weebly.com/

 

Cat

Book Review: Operation Badger by Tabitha Ormiston Smith

Today, I’m glad to bring another book by the wonderful Tabitha Ormiston Smith. I’ve reviewed three of her books in the past (Dance of Chaos, Operation Camilla, and Once Upon a Dragon). Now, I’ve got Operation Badger, her latest “cat mystery”.

Operation Badger

Detective Senior Constable Ben Jackson is handsome, kind, diligent, dedicated and a total mensch. He’s also as thick as two planks.
His girlfriend, Tammy, is clever as anything, but sillier than a wet hen.
And then there is Tom. Tom is a cat.
Follow this unlikely crime-busting trio as they bucket from one disaster to another.

Cat

My Review: 4 Stars

I loved how quintessentially Australian this book was! The latest in the “Operation Tomcat” novels was as quirky and off-the-wall as I was hoping for. It wasn’t quite as funny or utterly over-the-top outrageous as the previous one, but it was still highly entertaining. Short, sweet, and a humorous read overall—just what I was expecting from the book.

I received it in exchange for an honest review, and I always smile when reading Tabitha’s books.

Here’s a Taste:

A wide, happy smile rose to Ben’s face as he stepped out of the bakery, the flat box carefully balanced. It was a new week, he was on afternoons, his favourite shift, the sun was shining and he had on a brand-new suit. He was on his way to work at a job he loved, and later he would go home to the most beautiful woman in the world. Everything in Ben’s life was just about perfect, he reckoned, and so on this perfect day he had detoured to the bakery on his way back from court for a box of fancy doughnuts to treat his mates in the squadroom.

Ben’s shoulders squared and his chin lifted as he stepped onto the wide pavement. Look at all those citizens going about their business. He was their protector, one link in the Thin Blue Line that separated the good people from the Bad Guys. Ever since he could remember, Ben had always wanted to be a policeman; it was his life’s dream come true. He was Living His Dream. Not bad for twenty-seven.

A klaxon shrieked and he almost dropped the box. Hell! It was the bank down the street. Two men ran out and piled into a rusty old vehicle, roaring away in a cloud of smoke. Shit! A robbery! Heart pounding, Ben raced to his car and fumbled to get the key in. The suspect vehicle was turning the corner at the Carrington Street intersection. If he got right after them.…

And then it happened. The keys dropped from his fingers, and as he grabbed for them his hand just grazed them, knocking them away, and as time slowed he seemed to watch in horror for an eternity as they sailed gracefully away towards the kerb.

Towards the stormwater drain.

As Ben launched himself in a flying tackle, right arm extended vainly grasping for his keys, he had an instant in which to reflect that he must look just like Superman flying through the air, and then he was down on his belly in the gutter, trying to suck in air against his winded diaphragm, watching as the keys slid slowly, but inexorably, out of sight.

About the Author:

Tabitha Ormiston-Smith has spent her life in the pursuit of a good laugh. This quest has taken her through financial reporting, Information Technology, the military, commercial recovery and degrees in Computer Science, Philosophy and Law. Still on the hunt, now Tabitha shares her kills with her readers.

Find the book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Operation-Badger-Tomcat-Book-ebook/dp/B071HGP7T5

Read Tabitha’s thoughts on her website: http://tormistonsmith.wix.com/tabitha

Connect with her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OrmistonSmith/

Tweet at her: @OrmistonSmith

 

PowerPoint Presentation

Book Review: Darkstorm by ML Spencer

For today’s Book Review Wednesday, I’ve got a dark fantasy treat by the awesome ML Spencer. This is the first book of hers I’ve read, and I have to say it was a pleasure to read. While not perfect, it was a solid read and a great addition to the dark fantasy genre.

Darkstorm

Faced with an imminent cataclysm that will destroy the magical heritage of their people, a secret conspiracy of mages has resorted to harnessing the powers of Hell to save their legacy. The only mages who can oppose them are Braden and Quin Reis: two brothers with a turbulent past and a caustic relationship. But both Braden and Quin are compromised, harboring terrible and tragic secrets.

PowerPoint Presentation

Will Braden and Quin be able to prevent the unsealing of the Well of Tears? Or will they fall victim to the darkmages’ sinister manipulations and join their conspiracy?

My Review: 4 Stars

There were a lot of things I loved about this book. There was one particular scene earlier on that beautifully showed the callous brutality of the characters and the world in which the book was set. The story was engaging, well-paced, and pulled me along from start to finish. The ending of the book was beautifully satisfactory and yet surprised me at the same time.

I found a few issues: one part of the story seemed to meander in a certain direction for no apparent reason. I believe it was meant to delve into the backstory of the character/s, but it just felt out of place among the rest. Also, the romance between two of the characters was hard to swallow. They went from opposites to lovers in too short a time without proper development of their relationship.

However, overall it was a great book and one I’d recommend to lovers of dark fantasy.

Here’s a Taste:

The room they entered was just as dark and wet as the rest of the warren of passageways they had traversed. On one side of the floor was a large slab of granite, waist-high. It had the look of a table or altar, hewn from a single slab of rock. A foul, dark liquid oozed down its sides, congealing on its surface.

To the other side of the chamber was a circular well made of staggered granite blocks.

It was toward the stone table that Braden moved first. He paused beside it, eyes contemplating the rough surface. Slowly, he extended his hand and dipped a finger into the dark liquid pooled on its surface. His finger came away coated with thick, coagulated blood.

Sephana recoiled with a gasp. The sheer amount of blood was appalling. It collected on the surface of the table, running in thick rivulets to the floor. She was standing in it. The blood had mixed with the water at her feet, rendering it impossible to tell how much there actually was.

She shook her head and whispered, “Animal sacrifice? To what purpose?”

“No.”

Braden’s voice was empty and hollow, completely drained of all emotion. The sound of it chilled her heart. He lifted something from the floor next to the slab of rock. It took Sephana a moment to recognize the object in his hand: a thick iron shackle anchored by a heavy chain to the side of the granite block.

Human,” she whispered.

She covered her mouth with her hand as Braden cast the chain away from him, repulsed. The iron shackle slapped hard against the slab with a sharp ring of metal.

Sephana flinched at the harsh sound. Braden hardly seemed to care if anyone heard. With a grimace of contempt, he wrenched himself back away from the altar, swinging around to face the well. He stalked across the floor toward it, kneeling down beside the granite ring. His hand rose, tracing over a series of vile-looking markings that were carved into the well’s rim. They looked more like claw marks raked into the stone by some ghastly creature than any language Sephana knew.

She crept up beside him and observed Braden’s study of the gruesome marks.

“I want to go,” she insisted, voice quavering.

But he didn’t act as though he even heard her. He was kneeling beside the well, inching his way slowly around its circumference, eyes and fingers exploring the hideous markings all around the rim.

At last, Braden finished his scrutiny of the well’s texture and pushed himself to his feet. His gaze remained fixed on the sinister markings, stare narrowed in thought. He brought his hand up to his face, absently stroking his thumb over the whiskers on his chin. He rested his other hand on the well’s cover, a thick slab of granite stone.

“This is a portal,” he said finally. His voice was cold and dispassionate. Utterly flat. He didn’t look up at her; his eyes remained captured by the cruel markings of the well’s rim. “They’re boring a gateway to the Netherworld. And they’re using human sacrifice to finish the job.”

Sephana could only stare vacantly ahead, mouth agape.

“They call it the Well of Tears,” Braden continued impassively, indicating an inscription set into the very base of the well itself. “If they succeed—if this gateway is ever opened—then more than just Aerysius will be in danger. They will unleash the powers of Chaos across the world.”

The sound of a loud, metallic crash rang out across the chamber. And then another noise: a distant thundering sound, low and throbbing, echoing up from the depths.

“They know we’re here,” Sephana gasped.

About the Author:

M.L. Spencer was born in Southern California and grew up on the works of Steven R. Donaldson, Stephen King and Frank Herbert. She wrote her first novel-length manuscript at thirteen.

By day she works as a biology teacher; by night she sweats over a beaten-up keyboard. Her novel Darkmage won the Indie-Reader  Discovery Award for Fantasy.

Her favorite authors are Robert Jordan, C.S. Friedman,  George R.R. Martin, David Eddings, Patrick Rothfuss, and Terry Goodkind.

M.L. Spencer won 1st Place Prose in the San Bernardino County Writing Celebration and the 2012 IndieReader Discovery Award for Fantasy.

Find the book on Amazon:https://www.amazon.com/Darkstorm-Rhenwars-Saga-Book-1-ebook/dp/B01MT77SK9

Tweet at her: twitter.com/MLSpencer1

Connect on Facebook: facebook.com/MLSpencerAuthor

 

The Sun God's Heir, Book 2

Book Review: Sun God’s Heir Book 2 by Elliot Baker

For today’s Book Review Wednesday, I’m bringing you the Part 2 to the Sun God’s Heir series (see my review of Book 1 here). I enjoyed the first part quite a bit (4-star review), and I found the next book in the series a worthy continuation of a great story.

The Sun God’s Heir: Rebirth

Set during the wave tossed years of white slavery and Barbary pirates, this is the epic story of René Gilbert, a journey that defies time as he must draw on a larger awareness earned in previous lifetimes.

The Sun God's Heir, Book 2

The plague’s dark fingers curl around Bordeaux. René must return home to save those he loves. But first he has to escape a Moroccan sultan’s clutches. In Bordeaux, an enemy waits, filled with a hatred three thousand years old. Only René can defeat this dark power, and only if he reclaims his own ancient past. In this arena, death is but the least of failure’s penalties.

My Review: 4.5 Stars

I was glad to receive this book in exchange for an honest review. I enjoyed the first part (minus a few flaws) immensely and looked forward to reading this one.

The book had none of the flaws that detracted from my enjoyment of the first book. The plot was steady, the climaxes were pretty well-written, and I found myself drawn into the story. Even though I had limited reading time, I always found an excuse to pull out my iPad just so I could keep reading this story to find out what happened next.

The story continued the development of the main character and gave us insight into some of the accompanying characters as well (especially the female romantic interest). It didn’t have any of the “Book 2 lag” that would stop me from wanting to continue reading. All in all, I can hardly wait until Book 3 comes out!

Here’s a Taste:

The medina of Casablanca was a warren of narrow winding streets filled with stalls of all shapes and sizes. René followed Akeefa and Abdul-Karim as they entered through a constricted archway and left behind the blinding sunlight. René stopped to take it all in. A thousand sights and sounds assaulted him at once. An intense level of energy and human striving filled the air. The sounds and smells were strident, immediate. A cacophony reverberated from the walls as metalworkers hammered on copper and brass and iron. Jewelers, leather workers, and weaponsmiths all contributed to the din of men and animals pursuing their desires. The enticing smells of food and coffee pervaded the space. Booth after booth of delicacies was on display along with the occasional goat carcass that hung from the canopy poles waiting for the butcher’s cleaver.

“This is overwhelming.” René sucked in a deep breath. “Something smells good. Perhaps we might sit and have a coffee while I try to make sense of this incredible place.”

“That is an excellent idea.” Abdul-Karim grinned. “I know just the place and ’tis not far from here.”

“More food,” Akeefa said with some exasperation. “You promised I would be able to shop and you know I cannot go off on my own. Some stupid man would say or do something and after I had killed him, we would spend the morning yelling or fighting or both. With you two, I will at least have some measure of freedom.”

René gazed sideways at Akeefa. He knew her well enough not to doubt the possibility of her statement, but he hoped she spoke in jest.

Abdul-Karim grimaced like he had bitten into a lemon. He turned to René. “You must trust my experience in this. Given the amount of walking and waiting we face, you will definitely need nourishment.”

René laughed. “Perhaps we might feed Abdul-Karim so we may better attack this shopping from a position of strength.”

“Oh, all right.” Akeefa rolled her eyes. “My master taught me when to make a strategic retreat and this is clearly one of those times. I will want, however, to see that stamina later. Understood?” She glared at Abdul-Karim.

Her effort was wasted on her older brother. Abdul-Karim’s demeanor changed to one of joyful expectation. “I know just the place. Best pastries in Morocco. This way.”

René glanced around. Even over the din and chaotic movement of the medina, he had the sensation they were being watched. The fact that he was a Frenchman was immaterial. There were many different nationalities present within the medina. Non, he, René Gilbert, was being observed.

“Do you believe they will attack again so soon?” asked René.

“The Hashashin that attacked us on the quay in Larache were paid by the sultan’s younger brother Ismail. I do not sense that level of organization. There are many bands of robbers and slavers within Morocco. It can be a difficult place to live,” said Abdul-Karim. “And there are those in Rabat who will not allow our victory over their brethren go unrevenged, regardless of the sultan’s orders.”

Both men loosened their blades while Akeefa huffed at the conventions that prevented her from carrying a sword. Still, an attacker would find her armed.

“Let us sit at that tavern.” Abdul-Karim pointed across the lane. “It has good sight lines and there are avenues of escape if necessary.”

Once seated, Abdul-Karim ordered coffee and an assortment of cakes.

Akeefa pursed her lips.

“What? We might as well eat something while we wait.”

The square had grown quieter as people found their business called them elsewhere. Men collected in small groups. So far, the numbers of their enemies were not overwhelming and René was content to wait. He glanced at Abdul-Karim. The smile on his face evidenced a gleeful anticipation at the prospect of combat. His friend genuinely liked to fight.

“It appears someone is willing to invest a great deal of money in our removal. As much as I would like to engage in this contest—” Abdul-Karim glanced over at his sister. “And we have them outmanned, father would advise us to retreat and gather reinforcements.”

Abdul-Karim inclined his head. They stood as groups of men moved to block the exits.

“We may not be offered that opportunity.” Akeefa slipped her hand beneath her burka.

“Let us make our way toward the medina’s entrance. If we reach the confines of the arch, we gain a slight advantage in the number of our enemy able to come against us.” René’s rapier was in his hand.

The scimitar Abdul-Karim pulled from his sash reflected sunlight along its razor sharp edge. A wicked looking dagger appeared in Akeefa’s hand. René eased left of Akeefa leaving a sword length between them as Abdul-Karim stepped to her right.

The square was now empty except for the growing number of armed men drawing their swords. René studied the upper stories of the souk. No musket barrels protruded from those windows.

René counted thirty men circling them and moving closer. “Akeefa, move to the front and make first contact. A moment’s confusion having you walk before us will be useful. It is not that unusual for a woman to carry a dagger. Perhaps you might hold it a little less respectfully.”

“I will do my clumsy best.” Akeefa managed to move to the front, intentionally tripping on her burka.

The number of men waiting before the medina’s arch had increased to ten. Smug smiles played on their faces. Apparently they found humor in two men so cowardly as to hope a woman would protect them. One eager young mercenary swaggered out to meet Akeefa.

“Throw down your weapons and your deaths will be easier,” said the man as he waved his scimitar toward Akeefa. He ignored the dagger that shook in her trembling hand.

“D…do you intend to kill us all?” Akeefa stuttered in a high-pitched voice.

The fool preened, sticking his chest out. “Drop your weapons.”

About the Author:

Award winning novelist and international playwright Elliott Baker grew up in Jacksonville, Florida. With four musicals and one play published and produced in the United States, New Zealand, Portugal, England, and Canada, Elliott is pleased to release his first novels.

Elliott Baker Photo

The Sun God’s Heir: Return, book one of the trilogy, was released this past January, and book two, Rebirth will come out on April 18th, followed in July by the third and final book of the series, Redemption. A member of the Authors Guild and the Dramatists Guild, Elliott lives in New Hampshire with his wife Sally Ann.

Find the book on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2mklqLB

 

Visit Elliot’s Website: http://elliottbaker.com

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

Tweet at him: https://twitter.com/ElliottBaker?lang=en

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

C-HxRq_XsAEMSBd

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.

2016-374-eBook-Dylan-J-Morgan-The-Dead-City

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
 

 

The_Immorality_Clause-eBook_Cover

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.

Audio cover tIC

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

 

Page 1 of 18

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén