Category Archives: YA Fantasy

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!

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 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!

Book Review of The Crown’s Game

TheCrownsGameA fun tale with a hint of Russian history mixed in. That’s how I summarize The Crown’s Game by debut author Evelyn Skye.

SUMMARY (from back): Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side. And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know.  The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.

Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?

For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.

And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love . . . or be killed himself.

As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear . . . the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.

WHAT I THOUGHT: The concept of a wizarding duel is what hooked me on the book. Well, that and the amazing cover. That said though, I felt like the book didn’t quite live up to the expectations set.

The book started out slow. The first half was filled with introducing characters etc, and I nearly put it down. But with the promise built up for the book, and the fact that it’s traditionally published, I hung in there.

I enjoyed the three main characters: Vika, Nikolai and Pasha. Vika and Nikolai are enchanters while Pasha is heir to the throne of Russia. The three end up in a love triangle, which I didn’t mind, but my problem is I don’t feel like I got t o know the characters well enough to cheer for any of them. Things happen, but I’m left feeling incomplete. I wanted more depth.

As for the plot, this, too, disappointed. I was never clear why either character chose to do what he/she did each turn. Short of one-ups-man-ship, I found what they did creative, but lacking context other than, do the next move bigger.

Then there was the ending. I was hoping neither protagonist had to really die, that their magic would save the day somehow. I was disappointed.

This is the debut of YA author Evelyn Skye so I will give her that, yet with it being traditionally published, I’d hope for more.  I give this book 3 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. Also, leave a comment to let me know what you thought.

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!

Cover Reveal… Drum Roll Please…

Header

Liz Long, an amazing author friend of mine, is celebrating today as she reveals the super awesome cover of the third and final book in her Heroes of Acania trilogy and I’m leading a cheer squad for her!! Check it out!

SuperNova (HoA #1), Fortune’s Favor (HoA #2),
Unbreakable (HoA #3) Heroes of Arcania Trilogy
COVER REVEAL May 26th, 2016

Book One:

SuperNova
The streets of Arcania are overrun with crime, deteriorating as a madman named Fortune makes himself at home. He shows no mercy, striking down anyone in his path – including Nova Benson’s little sister. Devastated, Nova vows to seek justice for her family, but aside from her freak strength and impenetrable skin, how is she supposed to stop a monster like Fortune?

Cole Warner wants to help people. Entrusted to keep his family’s secret, he’s also frustrated at having to hide his gift. He knows he could do more to help in the fight against Fortune. If he could convince his sister Penelope to join him, they might even have a chance at beating him. When Cole meets Nova, he realizes his whole world is about to change. And he’s going to welcome it with open arms.

Falling for each other wasn’t part of the plan.

Then again, neither was becoming a superhero.

PREORDER ON AMAZON

Book Two:

Fortunes FavorNova will learn it takes more than sheer strength to be a superhero. Her world implodes when Fortune strikes back for all the trouble she’s caused. His dangerous games put everyone around her at risk, especially when he decides to turn Arcania against its precious Heroes. Nova wants to protect Arcania, but how does she save a city that doesn’t want her help?

Cole has no idea how to deal with his sister Penelope, especially now that she’s learned the truth about their family secret. Thanks to Fortune, she’s headed down a dark path, one with no return. Torn between helping Nova and protecting his sister, Cole will be forced to make a choice. Tensions rise as Cole and Nova discover war will come to Arcania if they don’t get Fortune off the streets…or preferably six feet under.

Nova and Cole might have each other, but will they lose everything else in their mission to save Arcania?

PREORDER ON AMAZON

Drum roll please…Book Three:

UnbreakableNova started the fight against Fortune for simple revenge, but now it’s turned into something much bigger. Arcania’s criminals are at each other’s throats, putting the city right in the middle of a warzone. She’ll have to work with a few unlikely allies to end Fortune’s games once and for all. Nova thought she understood what it meant to be a superhero, but will she have to lose herself to truly defeat Fortune?

Fortune has given Cole a choice, one with unbearable consequences. When Cole takes matters into his own hands to save his sister Penelope, he realizes too late he’s another pawn in Fortune’s games. Fortune will use Cole’s gift against his enemies…including Nova. Cole will have to become the hero he always wanted to be if he’s going to protect the love of his life.

Nova and Cole could finally save Arcania from Fortune’s deadly games, but are they willing to sacrifice each other?

PREORDER ON AMAZON

ABOUT LIZ

LizLiz Long is a proud graduate of Longwood University. Her inspiration comes from action and thriller genres and she spends entirely too much time watching superhero movies. Her day job includes writing for a magazine publisher in Roanoke, VA.

The Donovan Circus series has best been described as "X-Men meets the circus." Adult horror story Witch Hearts tells the tale of a serial killer hunting witches for their powers. New Adult PNR A Reaper Made is about a teen Reaper who gets caught between falling in love or saving her sister’s soul. All titles are available for paperback or ebook on Amazon.

To learn more about Liz (including more information on her books, plus writing, marketing, and social media tips), visit her website: http://lizclong.com.

Review of The Rose and The Dawn

TheRoseandtheDawnI loved The Wrath and The Dawn, and could not wait for this second book in The Wrath & The Dawn series by Renee Ahdieh!

SUMMARY (from back): In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad has been torn from the love of her husband Khalid, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once believed him a monster, but his secrets revealed a man tormented by guilt and a powerful curse—one that might keep them apart forever. Reunited with her family, who have taken refuge with enemies of Khalid, and Tariq, her childhood sweetheart, she should be happy. But Tariq now commands forces set on destroying Khalid’s empire. Shahrzad is almost a prisoner caught between loyalties to people she loves. But she refuses to be a pawn and devises a plan.

While her father, Jahandar, continues to play with magical forces he doesn’t yet understand, Shahrzad tries to uncover powers that may lie dormant within her. With the help of a tattered old carpet and a tempestuous but sage young man, Shahrzad will attempt to break the curse and reunite with her one true love.

WHAT I THOUGHT:  I have great respect for authors who can craft tight, flowing sentences and such great writing, as I’ve come to expect from Renee Ahdieh, filled the pages of this book 🙂

In this book, I appreciated the author giving us more depth into some of the co-stars of the series: Tariq, Rahim as well as Despina.  In fact, she gives us a great shock with Despina for I never expected to find out what I did about her. That, combined with another shock related to Khalid at the very end, made the book one I’d recommend reading.

Despite my excitement at the release of this book, I have mixed feelings about this second installment. The Wrath and The Dawn posed an awesome conflict with a king forced to kill his wife at dawn every day until a curse had been fulfilled. The premise intrigued me and I thought the author’s narrative proved consistent and compelling with Shahrzad standing up and refusing to allow it to continue.

This book, to me, lost the focus and pace. In this installment, the curse is addressed although we never truly find out (we are left to infer) that the curse is broken. I found the pace dragging for the first 25% of the book with characters doing a lot of sitting around, waiting. Only after that do we finally get the plot truly moving.

I also found the end dissatisfying with how the author wrapped up the story with Shahrzad’s father, a conflict that I thought a lot more could have been done with. Initially there is the set up that the guy won’t let the book out of his sight, and all it takes is a daughter to spike his tea and that conflict is fixed. I was disappointed that the author chose not to make this into a much bigger problem before the book’s resolution. It could have been epic.  But all we see is a weak character when he had so much potential. The end of his character arc wasn’t any better. I won’t say what exactly happens to him, but it certainly wasn’t epic.

I give this 4 stars!

Buy The Rose and The Dawn on Amazon

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. Also, leave a comment to let me know what you thought.

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!

Do You Love YA Fiction?

YAInsiderI’m excited to share with you a brand new website that’s dedicated to nothing but YA fiction!

You’ve probably seen all my reviews of YA fantasy & sci fi books I’ve read, on my blog. Well, I stumbled on this new site, YA Insider, a couple months ago and just love it. I love it so much that I started sharing all my YA book reviews there as well.

But YA Insider is more than just my stuff. There’s tons of YA authors and their work as well as upcoming release announcements, freebie review copies, and more!

Check out this fantastic new site at https://www.yainsider.com