Cover Artist for The Sand Maiden Series

As you all know, a book’s cover is critical to its success. It’ll either draw readers in or leave them blah for the book. That said, I knew I wanted to do something different for my covers for this next series, The Sand Maiden.
I decided to go with illustrated covers to give readers the look and feel I wanted.

And so I began my search for the right artist to pull this off. And this morning, I am absolutely, unequivocally, way beyond thrilled to say that Charlie Bowater has agreed to do my covers for The Sand Maiden series!!!!

I fell in love with her work when I saw her rendering of Rhys, the main hubba hubba male, from Sarah J. Maas’ A Court of Thrones and Roses series. While a plethora of Rhys renderings exist in fanart, hers is my absolute favorite. The way she captures his eyes… Oh, don’t get me started. Anyway, we all will have the pleasure of seeing what this talented lady comes up with for the three covers of The Sand Maiden series. I, for one, cannot wait!!

To read the synopsis for The Sand Maiden series as well as see what the swoon-worthy main characters look like in my head,  click here. 

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Battle for the Land’s Soul Just Launched!

I am SOOOO excited! The seventh and final book in the Andy Smithson series just released! Battle for the Land’s Soul marks the epic conclusion of my first series and has been five years coming. To say that I’m thrilled with how it turned out would be a gross understatement for Andy and company fought harder, endured more adversity, and remained committed to the Land’s future in a way that makes me proud to be their creator. While they had adversity thrown at them before, things really got difficult in the epic conclusion. Read for yourself how things turned out and whether their dreams became reality or not.

Synopsis
Good vs Evil. Destiny Demands the Battle be Fought. But at What Cost?

It’s clear Abaddon, the evil shape shifting ruler of Hadession, Oomaldee’s northern neighbor, must be dealt with if Oomaldee’s citizens are to ever live in peace. But how? What lengths will Andy have to go to in order to wage war against a being whose power stems from evil itself? Will Abaddon plunge the land into darkness or will light triumph?

Battle for the Land’s Soul is the seventh and final novel in the Andy Smithson coming-of-age, epic fantasy adventure featuring page-turning action and terrifying villains. This truly is the age old struggle of good vs. evil, and the stakes couldn’t be higher for the outcome will determine the Land’s very future. Don’t miss this epic conclusion!

Get the eBook now at:
Amazon
Google Play
Apple

Get the Paperback now at:
Amazon

Andy Smithson Makes It Big, in Drama!

Different than an audio book, you’ve probably heard old time-y radio theater and loved how the full cast of voice actors, cool sound effects, and the musical score just brought a production to life like nothing else could. Well, Andy Smithson just made his way to audio drama!

Seeing the adventure that the Andy Smithson series is, Colonial Radio Theatre approached me a while ago about turning the series into an audio drama. To say I was honored would be an understatement. These guys have been doing award-winning audio dramas for-ever. And they approached little ol’ me? About Andy? Heck yeah!

I was blown away the first  time I heard the original musical score they wrote to accompany this production. If you like Harry Potter, you’ll definitely love this music. But the entire production is amazing! The original music score they wrote is pure genius! I absolutely love how it draws me in every time I listen to it. The wide sweeping score gives it an epic feel and the tinkling of the bells/triangle creates expectation while the percussion/horns tell me I will soon be knee deep in danger, action, and adventure right along with the characters. Perfection that everyone is sure to love!

They just released Blast of the Dragon’s Fury and are well under way with Venom of the Serpent’s Cunning which they hope to release this Fall.

So if my excitement hasn’t created a big enough build up…have a listen to some epic clips on my website. Then go buy it! I promise you’ll absolutely love the action, adventure and music!

Available on Amazon, Audible, and Apple

Review of The Crown’s Dog by Elise Kova

crowns-dog-cover-smFirst off, what an awesome cover! I love how Jax is captured. The Crown’s Dog is the first book in The Golden Guard Trilogy (a prequel series to Air Awakens that I absolutely LOVED! You can read all my reviews for that series here.)

SUMMARY (from back): A coastal summer is turned upside down by a violent murder, and a quest for lost pirate treasure turns into a hunt for the killer.

Jax Wendyll is the crown’s dog. As punishment for the unspeakable crimes that torment him to this day, his life has been conscripted to the Empire Solaris. However, in an Empire afflicted by peace, his duties are relegated to unquestioningly aiding the antics of the youngest prince, Baldair.

Erion Le’Dan, a nobleman’s son, expects a quiet summer visit to the Imperial Palace, his only agenda to visit with his unlikely friends. But Jax’s discovery of the legendary pirate Adela Lagmir’s old workroom inspires a hunt for her long lost treasure.

The pursuit of Adela’s truth takes the three men to the Imperial summer manor, built along the old pirate mainstays. When Adela’s trident is branded into a murdered servant, Prince Baldair’s summer amusement of treasure-hunting becomes a hunt to find the killer. But, as mysteries compound, the ghosts of Jax’s past may not be the only things haunting them.

WHAT I THOUGHT: If you’ve read Air Awakens, you know the name “Crown’s Dog” refers to Jax Wendyll. He’s a good-hearted character who is quirky and unbalanced as a result of his past that torments him. We see him in action in this book and his deeds are definitely consistent with his later life. I love this character for he’s not afraid to breach convention and we see that on full display as he “deals” with the antics of a 16-year-old Prince Baldair who has yet to make a name for himself. I particularly loved the end of the book where events make him the “elder” identifying with Baldair and Erion’s inexperience with their first kills.

Speaking of Baldair, we find him at the awkward age of sixteen with too much testosterone and not enough sense, behaving impetuously. I loved how Kova sets up the tension between he and his older brother, Aldrick, which clearly reveals his motivations and undisciplined behavior. I guess the only surprising thing was the lack of any parental involvement–of course that would have destryed the entire storyline (LOL!). While I doubt he would agree, when my son was 16, he required adult intervention/supervision to avoid doing stupid things that would impact his life longer-term. The Emperor clearly has other things occupying his attention…but what of Baldair’s mother? We never see her in action.

And then there’s Erion. I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing him in action. The Air Awakens series alludes to him and then we see him up at the front, but only cameos. This is the first time I saw him in action in a way that allowed me to understand him motivations and I loved it. I really got the sense of his political motivations and how he wrestled with exploiting his relationship with the prince for his own and his family’s gain. That, and his ties to the history with his homeland that had been conquered by and incorporated into the Solaris Empire.

All in all, the plot was engaging–who can’t appreciate preying on people’s fear of ghosts–and the characters made it a very enjoyable  read. I’ll definitely be reading the next book in this trilogy!

I give The Crown’s Dog 5 stars!

Buy The Crown’s Dog on Amazon. It’s in Kindle Unlimited, too!

FREE EBOOKS: If you enjoyed this post, I invite you to download two FREE EBOOKS: 1) the Prequel and 2) the award winning Book one in the Andy Smithson epic fantasy series. Enjoy!

Cover Reveal of Andy Smithson Book Six!

I’ve been waiting a long time to be able to say what I’m about to say. I’m SO excited!!!! Here goes…

May I present, Wisdom of the Centaurs’ Reason…

WisdomOfTheCentaursReason_cover_hidden

What do you think? Don’t you love it? LOL!

Just kidding… The sixth book in the Andy Smithson series, Wisdom of the Centaurs’ Reason, will be released November 23rd!!!!!!!!
If your curiosity is begging  to see the whole incredibly amazing artwork my cover designer whipped up, just click here.

But BEFORE YOU CLICK, what do you speculate the rest of the cover looks like based upon the title, Wisdom of the Centaurs’ Reason? What can you guess based on the peek I’ve given you? It has to have Andy, but what might he be doing? What do you know about centaurs? Why would the cover feature a night sky? Is the phase of the moon important?

Okay, you’ve pondered long enough. Go satisfy your curiosity. LOL!

Enjoy!

As I mentioned, Wisdom of the Centaurs’ Reason will be available November 23rd, just in time for Thanksgiving reading or holiday gift-giving!

It just became available for pre-order on Amazon. Don’t risk forgetting to buy it on November 23rd, pre-order it today and have it automatically delivered…a pre-Christmas gift to yourself. 🙂

amazon_logo_1   Pre-order Wisdom of the Centaurs’ Reason

Book Review of The Beauty of Darkness by Mary Pearson

BeautyofDarknessThe Beauty of Darkness is the third and final book in The Remnant Chronicles by Mary Pearson.

SUMMARY (from back): Lia and Rafe have escaped Venda and the path before them is winding and dangerous – what will happen now? This third and final book in The Remnant Chronicles is not to be missed.

WHAT I THOUGHT: I loved how Mary Pearson wrapped up this trilogy for the most part. In the third book we see more growth in Lia, the main protagonist, as she must overcome disbelief of those around her and assert herself as the leader of Morrighan even though it assuredly means she will die.

Driven by an ancient prophecy, Lia wrestles to overcome the neigh-sayers around her, says “no” to her heart, and plants a stake in the ground that she would save her people.  The courage of conviction that would take speaks volumes about this character who teens can look to as a role model.

Pearson does an awesome job managing the tender relationship between Lia and Rafe. The two sovereigns are stuck in a political conundrum, both their countries needing their leadership, yet as the reader, I felt for them. I longed to see them together.

And with that, I loved how Kaden and Pauline came to love each other. I was cheering duringteh last chapter when Kaden is holding Rhys and he kisses Pauline. Ah… be still my heart. A great ending/beginning for them.

There were two parts I didn’t like about this book. First, I didn’t like how the last battle was resolved. As with epic battles, Lia finds herself between a rock and a hard place, but Pearson extricates her too conveniently for my liking. I hate it when that happens. Lia should have had to dig her way out, not be rescued by the nebulous extraneous third party that does play much of a role at all in the book. I wanted more.

My other gripe was, I didn’t understand why Lia, during the final battle, had to fall off that cliff. It seemed an unnecessary add-on. But this isn’t a major issue.

Overall, this was a great conclusion to this series and I was satisfied. I give this a 4.5/5.0!

IF YOU ENJOYED THIS POST, be sure to scroll to the top of this page and sign up to be notified the instant a new post goes live.

FREE EBOOKS: I also invite you to download the free ebooks of the Prequel and the award winning Book one in the Andy Smithson epic fantasy series. Would you leave a review on Amazon after you read them? Thanks so much!

Book Review of Eidolon by Grace Draven

Eidolon The Wraith KingsEidolon is the second book in Grace Draven’s The Wraith Kings Paranormal Fantasy Romance series.

SUMMARY (from back): In a bid for more power, the Shadow Queen of Haradis unleashes a malignant force into the world. Her son Brishen, younger prince of the Kai royal house, suddenly finds himself ruler of a kingdom blighted by a diseased darkness. His human wife, Ildiko, must decide if she will give up the man she loves in order to save his throne.

Three kingdoms on the verge of war must unite to save each other, and a one-eyed, reluctant king will raise an army of the dead to challenge an army of the damned.  A tale of alliance and sacrifice.

WHAT I THOUGHT: I loved the first book in the series, Radiance, for its depiction of how a human adapts to the dramatically different culture of the Kai after an arranged marriage borne out of political interests. Eidolon, while not focusing on the same themes as Radiance, introduces a peril on that world that demand the three nations unite and fight.

I loved the continued world-building of Draven.

Plot: The threat in this book is a horde of demons from the pit of Hell released by the former self-obsessed queen. They pillage and feed upon any living being. The stakes have never been higher and failure is not an option. It was certainly a creative and extreme conflict to be sure.

While the plot introduced a significant conflict, I thought the transition between book one and two was a bit abrupt. I mentioned this in my review of the first book. For it was in the epilogue that Draven crafts this conflict. While the scenario would have been possible based upon the character of the queen she’d set up, I would have like to see the story flow and the narrative create this problem on its own, not an epilogue.

I will not give any spoilers, but I found the execution of the conflict and resolution lacked an emotional hook for me. It seemed academic and while “big”, I wished the events leveraged the emotions of the female protagonist, Ikaido, as well as her husband, Brishen, more. It felt like Draven built the tension and then we moved to lots of action that lacked anything but the occasional pining of the husband for his wife while he’s slaying the bad guys.

Characters: I enjoyed the continued growth of both Ilaiko and Brishen. They have gone from willing pawns in a political game to husband and wife who are deeply committed to each other. I thought the misunderstand between them and how it impacted their relationship (duty vs desire) was well done.

Overall, I give this 4.0/5.0 stars.

Warning: This is not YA. There are a few sexually explicit scenes as would be expected in this Adult fantasy romance work.

IF YOU ENJOYED THIS POST, be sure to scroll to the top of this page and sign up to be notified the instant a new post goes live.

FREE EBOOKS: I also invite you to download the free ebooks of the Prequel and the award winning Book one in the Andy Smithson epic fantasy series. Would you leave a review on Amazon after you read them? Thanks so much!

Book Review of Radiance by Grace Draven

Radiance Wraith KingsRadiance is the first book in The Wraith Kings series by Grace Draven. With the cultural divide that currently besets America, I loved how the author addressed how two dramatically different cultures can peacefully co-exist. A very timely story with far-reaching implications.

SUMMARY: ~THE PRINCE OF NO VALUE~ Brishen Khaskem, prince of the Kai, has lived content as the nonessential spare heir to a throne secured many times over. A trade and political alliance between the human kingdom of Gaur and the Kai kingdom of Bast-Haradis requires that he marry a Gauri woman to seal the treaty. Always a dutiful son, Brishen agrees to the marriage and discovers his bride is as ugly as he expected and more beautiful than he could have imagined.

~THE NOBLEWOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE~ Ildiko, niece of the Gauri king, has always known her only worth to the royal family lay in a strategic marriage. Resigned to her fate, she is horrified to learn that her intended groom isn’t just a foreign aristocrat but the younger prince of a people neither familiar nor human. Bound to her new husband, Ildiko will leave behind all she’s known to embrace a man shrouded in darkness but with a soul forged by light.

Two people brought together by the trappings of duty and politics will discover they are destined for each other, even as the powers of a hostile kingdom scheme to tear them apart.

WHAT I THOUGHT: I knew I was on to a good book when I saw 1,212 reviews with a 4.7/5.0 rating on Amazon! Congrats to Grace Draven. Based upon what I read, the rating is well deserved.

The Kai are a race of nocturnal beings with deathly pale skin and long fangs. Certainly the sight of one would be enough to make any sane human run. And many do. But for Brishen (Kai) and Ildiko (Human), they are married to secure an alliance for a treaty between their nations and have no choice but to tolerate each other. But much more happens to them.

The couple are initially repulsed by each other’s physical appearance, but both choose to look beyond the physical and discover the unique and lovable  individual within each. Their relationship grows from tolerance, to understanding, to a deep and abiding love for each other despite everyone around pitying them for the choice forced upon them. It is a very timely theme in light of the racial tensions currently besetting this country. We could all take a lesson from this for I think this thinking works in practice as well as in fantasy.

While I thought the author did an amazing job with world-building as well as character development, I have two complaints. The first is the plot seemed prescriptive and contrived, lacking subtly and intrigue. I love novels that keep you guessing and when the reveal finally happens, you’re surprised because you saw all the clues but never pieced them together. This ain’t that. The author laid out the clues, but in a way that they seemed obvious that she was setting up something for later on. Not a huge negative, I just thought this could have been epic if there was as much finesse put into plotting as character development.

The other small complaint I have is with the ending. The author leaves us with a wrapped up story, except gives us an epilogue that seems very different than anything that happened in the story. It’s not that I couldn’t connect the dots and say “okay, that’s possible” but  the author used an unrefined way to set up the next book. I just thought it could have been done with a bit more finesse. Again, this is not a huge issue, but it just struck me as not fitting in with everything the author had so beautifully set up in the first book.

Overall, I give this book 4.5/5.0 stars. Get book on Amazon

Warning: This is not YA. There are a few sexually explicit scenes as would be expected in this Adult fantasy romance work.

IF YOU ENJOYED THIS POST, be sure to scroll to the top of this page and sign up to be notified the instant a new post goes live.

FREE EBOOKS: I also invite you to download the free ebooks of the Prequel and the award winning Book one in the Andy Smithson epic fantasy series. Would you leave a review on Amazon after you read them? Thanks so much!

Book Review of Rite of Redemption by Sarah Negovetich

RiteofRedemptionRite of Redemption is the third and final book in the Acceptance dystopian trilogy by Sarah Negovetich.

SUMMARY (from back): Rebecca escaped the PIT, found a family among the Freeman…and watched too many loved ones die. All she wants is the Cardinal to leave her in peace, but he’s made it clear that’s never going to happen.

When the Cardinal attacks other Freeman villages, she finally understands that no one is safe from his wrath. As the only one who’s stood up to the evil that is the Cardinal, it’s up to her to convince the others that they can’t hide forever. It’s time to fight.

The Machine predicted Rebecca would become the Cardinal’s enemy. It may have gotten that one right.

In the conclusion to the Acceptance series, enemies become allies and old friends emerge, but in the end, sacrifice may be the price of freedom.

WHAT I THOUGHT: I will be the first to say I am not a huge dystopian fan, but Negovetich’s writing hooked me in the first book and kept me buying the subsequent books in the series.

Plot – As with all dystopian books, the world as we know it has been reorganized after a cataclysmic event. The Cardinal is the epicenter of power in this society. In this book, Rebecca, the central heroine, is after taking him down. And of course, only she, as the face of the resistance, can do so. I thought the stakes were set high and Negovetich delivered on suspense, obstacles, and distrust among characters/entities. One thing that drives me crazy with some authors is that they set these elements up then make the resolution way too easy. This was not the case in Rite of Redemption for the most part. I won’t give away the ending, but I would say all but the absolute end where Rebecca “just happens” to run into the guy and it resolves rather easily, gave me a great “ride”.

Characters – I loved Rebecca! I loved how she matured throughout the series based upon everything that happened to her. She becomes the one to save that world by default as a result of who she is and what she values rather than some artificial “nomination” by outsiders.

Her now-husband, Daniel, I didn’t appreciate so much in this book. I thought he bordered on the whiny, petulant side and while I suppose his behavior could have happened in real life, I didn’t care for the change in this guy who used to be so supportive of Rebecca.

Pacing – I liked how the story unfolded. I loved how the Cardinal’s move triggers the beginning of events that must play out. And the author created a logical progression of events, visiting various Freeman villages, etc. I particularly loved how Rebecca’s childhood best friend appears once more in the final installment to wrap up that connection.

Overall, I give this 4.5 stars!

IF YOU ENJOYED THIS POST, be sure to scroll to the top of this page and sign up to be notified the instant a new post goes live.

FREE EBOOKS: I also invite you to download the free ebooks of the Prequel and the award winning Book one in the Andy Smithson epic fantasy series. Would you leave a review on Amazon after you read them? Thanks so much!

Book Review of Crystal Crowned by Elise Kova

Crystal CrownedI am saddened to be writing this review for it is my review of the final book in the Air Awakens series by Elise Kova, a series that I have loved dearly. I am not ready to say goodbye to my new friends.

SUMMARY: Long live Solaris.

One bloodthirsty ruler has been overthrown by another, casting the shadow of death over the Solaris Empire. Vhalla Yarl stands upon the stage of fate, prepared to do battle one final time. Fragile alliances will be tested and new bonds will be formed as the world is reshaped. She fights as the champion of peace, but when the night is darkest will she be able to pay the price of a new dawn?

WHAT I THOUGHT: This being the final book in the series I had high expectations for a “good” wrap up. And those expectations were nearly met.

Let’s start with the bad: The first half of the book has Vhalla and Aldrick wandering around seeing everyone and gathering support. This part left me feeling antsy. I had hoped the book would take off with a bang where Book 4 ended. And it didn’t. I’ve read the book twice now and I understand why Elise did what she did from a plot perspective, but I think there are other ways to wrap things up that involve more action in terms of taking on Victor, right up front.

The good then: I loved how Kova allowed Vhalla and ALdrick’s relationship to deepen and grow. I particularly enjoyed the part where Vhalla comes to understand that Aldrick really wants to be married where his parents were. He asks for so few things, but this detail where we get to see one thing that really matters to him, after so much has been stripped away from him throughout his life, was a perfect conclusion for them.

I was a bit disappointed that Daniel’s character ended up the way he did, but that’s just my optimism showing through. I get that in life not everyone comes out a winner and Kova did a good job at reflecting reality with him.

The great: In a word, Jax. For all his quirks, I love this man. And we finally get to understand why he acts the way he does. Him and Elecia. The two of them were string minor characters and I love how they got to share the limelight in this final installment.

And I would be remiss if I failed to mention the epilogue. This section was just perfect. It allowed me to take a deep breath and sigh contentedly. Kinda of like the perfect champagne with strawberries and bree at the end of a long day.

I give Crystal Crowned 4.5/5.0

IF YOU ENJOYED THIS POST, be sure to scroll to the top of this page and sign up to be notified the instant a new post goes live.

FREE EBOOKS: I also invite you to download the free ebooks of the Prequel and the award winning Book one in the Andy Smithson epic fantasy series. Would you leave a review on Amazon after you read them? Thanks so much!

The Life and Times of Author L. R. W. Lee