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.

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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!

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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!

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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

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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: The Alchemists of the Loom by Elise Kova

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Is this an amazing cover or what?? I’ve extolled the amazingness of fellow author, Elise Kova, throughout her debut series, Air Awakens. With that series now concluded,  she’s on to her next project, The Loom Saga. And I’m excited to share the cover!!! The release date is January 10, 2017 and I can’t wait!

Summary: Her vengeance. His vision.

Ari lost everything she once loved when the Five Guilds’ resistance fell to the Dragon King. Now, she uses her unparalleled gift for clockwork machinery in tandem with notoriously unscrupulous morals to contribute to a thriving underground organ market. There isn’t a place on Loom that is secure from the engineer turned thief, and her magical talents are sold to the highest bidder as long as the job defies their Dragon oppressors.

Cvareh would do anything to see his sister usurp the Dragon King and sit on the throne. His family’s house has endured the shame of being the lowest rung in the Dragons’ society for far too long. The Alchemist Guild, down on Loom, may just hold the key to putting his kin in power, if Cvareh can get to them before the Dragon King’s assassins.

When Ari stumbles upon a wounded Cvareh, she sees an opportunity to slaughter an enemy and make a profit off his corpse. But the Dragon sees an opportunity to navigate Loom with the best person to get him where he wants to go.

He offers her the one thing Ari can’t refuse: A wish of her greatest desire, if she brings him to the Alchemists of Loom.

 

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.

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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 of Ann Snizek’s Latest YA Sci Fi!

To Eris HumanHumans can’t see lucents… except for Eris.

Sixteen year old Eris Payton wants more than anything to fit in – struggling to reinvent herself – when she meets Nelson, who offers an escape from her current hell into the unknown shadows of his world, and she can’t say no before she learns just how different she really is… changing her life in a way she would never have imagined. Nelson, a lucent, needs Eris to follow him back to Downside before the epidemic gets worse, otherwise his brother will die, but he must convince her that he’s real and that her DNA holds the key in time to save his brother and his entire race. Facing truths that challenge everything she thought she knew, Eris discovers the hidden world of lucents, her own mysterious origins, and how to trust once more. She finds herself and uncovers answers to questions she never thought to ask.

 
Author bio
Author picOriginally from Vermont, Ann now lives in Virginia with her husband. Ann spent much of her childhood moving from place to place. Now settled, she enjoys exploring nature and the freedom to pursue the dreams of her imagination through writing.

Ann’s love of books from childhood continues today — always looking to stimulate the imagination. She knows the thrill of triumphing over adversities, pulling from life’s experiences, both hers and others, for inspiration… always sharing, growing, and learning.

 
BUY links: (new cover is not immediately available at most sites… only smashwords and createspace. The others will update soon)

Amazon: Kindle
Amazon: Paperback 
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Cover Reveal… Drum Roll Please…

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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 A Court of Mist and Fury

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Amazingly beautiful cover! So many unexpected twists. An ending I had to read twice as more and more depth was revealed. Oh so good! That’s A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas.

SUMMARY (from back): Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court–but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms–and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future–and the future of a world cleaved in two.

WHAT I THOUGHT: Maas is a master at storytelling. Period. And this book is even better than the first in this series.

I chose to reread A Court of Thorns and Roses to get back up to speed before reading this one. And I’m glad I did because I’d forgotten so many of the details Maas gave us. For instance, I’d forgotten just how broken Feyre is from her time “under the mountain.” This installment picks up with Feyre reeling from that trauma. She’s back with Tamlin and we’re breathing a sigh of relief…but not for long for he wants to put her in a glass box to protect her from every danger (to protect his fragile heart), while she withers from the stifling confinement…confinement not unlike what she experienced under the mountain, and she fractures.

As if that’s not a complex enough beginning, the Lord of the Night Court intervenes… I love how Maas uses characters she’s coached us to hate, just to reveal another side that explains why they behave as they do…and from motives we not only accept, but actually advocate, launching us in a whole new direction. As a side note, I loved the banter between Feyre and Rhys–It’s clear they both use it to protect themselves from being vulnerable and exposed, but at the same time in my head I’m thinking, just lay yourself open and bear, you won’t regret it. Oh feels…

Sarah introduces a host of five major new characters, an inner circle, that are each so different from each other, wounded and traumatized just like Feyre. I loved how they each grow and develop throughout the story helping Feyre sort through and begin to heal from her brokenness. What awesome friends.

In book two, we also discover what that “minor” detail in book one accomplished when all seven Lords gave a drop of their power to bring Feyre back to life.  Look out. Talk about power…I’m looking forward to seeing what happens when Feyre masters these new abilities in book three because the story is just begging to go there, especially when the King of Hybern needs to be dealt with. And we already have forewarning that the dude plans to use Feyre, and not for good.

I have to add a plug for the world building as well. Maas added a lot more depth to several of the courts in book two–the political divisions between, the relative power of several, different races, and how betrayal can emerge without warning.

I must confess I JUST finished rereading the last five chapters of this book because the first time through I had to know how it ended, but Maas throws SO MANY details in those last chapters that my reread left my head spinning, it was so good.

CAVEAT: I need to mention that while this book is technically listed as “Teen,” there are several explicit sex scenes that had a purpose in the narrative, but if you are turned off by that kind of thing, you’ll probably want to steer clear.

I give this 5 stars!

Buy A Court of Mist and Fury on Amazon

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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!

Review of A Court of Thorns and Roses

CourtofThornsandRaoses_CoverUnique in a way that makes you fall even more in in love with the characters–that’s how I summarize this Beauty and the Beast retelling by Sarah J. Maas.

SUMMARY (from back): When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin–one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow over the faerie lands is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin–and his world–forever.

WHAT I THOUGHT: This is my second read of this book. I read it the first time when it came out a year ago in May 2015, but with the release of the second book, A Court of Mist and Fury days ago, I needed to reread it to remind myself what had happened. I found the second reading even better than the first, filling in details I hadn’t noticed before.

So, lets first touch on the amazing and beautiful world that Maas built. Humans live in fear of the powerful fae living north of an invisible, but magically strong wall. Fae who live forever and must manage the politics by and between seven courts: Spring, Summer, Winter, Autumn, Dawn, Day, and Night. And then there’s Hybern, a monstrous island that is set up as a threat to the fae for later, in another book in the series. When I first saw the names of the courts, I remember rolling my eyes thinking how unoriginal, but Maas does a good job giving us enough detail and flavor for differences between that the lack of originality actually worked, although I’m looking for even more rich differences as the series progresses. I’m particularly looking to understand the different powers each of the High Lord’s of these courts wield.

And then there’s the characters…

Feyre is a nineteen year old who has been the provider for a family, formerly of means and status, who has fallen on very hard times as a result of her father getting greedy with his business dealings and losing everything. She’s the only one who is mobilized to hunt and do anything pragmatic to help her, her two sisters and father survive.  From the get go we see a character who is strong and who cares for others at her own expense, but whose heart is fragile after everything she’s been through. Such a great foundation.

When she kills a fae in disguise on the human side of the wall, we meet Tamlin who claims Feyre and drags her north to the Spring court. Tamlin is set up as a mysterious character who only after conversation with his second in command do we come to learn his name, and only after conversation with a creature who Feyre ensnares and must tell the truth, that he is High Lord of the Spring court. This unveiling does a good job at building the secrecy that is prevalent among the fae. And based upon how Tamlin treats Feyre, protecting, caring for, and more, when she deeply understands she is nothing in Fae society as a human, I found myself rooting for the pair.

And then there’s Lucien, Tamlin’s second in command who has a gold fake eye, replacing the one someone or something dug from his head. The detail sets up the mystery of his background. We observe his indifference of Feyre and only later come to understand and appreciate  all the trauma he has endured as a member of the Autumn court now living in Spring court.

The details of these main characters and their flaws make them relatable and endearing.

And then there’s the plot. I feel like there should be ominous music playing LOL. Wow, Maas’s amazing imagination is fully on display and satisfies the need for gripping suspense, rooting for the underdog, and hoping the best for lovers pining but separated by a powerful, evil villainness, Amarantha. As you might imagine, Feyre is the target as the weak human, used as a tool to get at Tamlin who has fallen madly in love with her.  Oh goodness… what a series of conflicts that has you cheering the whole way.

I won’t spoil the ending but will just say that Maas sets up book two in a satisfying, but not in-your-face announcement kind of way, giving Feyre more powers than she started with.

This is a must read! I give it 5 stars!

Buy A Court of Thorns and Roses on Amazon

NOTE: I would call this New Adult, not YA based on the mature situations detailing torture and some explicit sexual content.

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!

Please Welcome A New YA Fantasy into the World!

Every once in a while I have the privilege of helping a fellow author celebrate the birth of a new creation! Today I am doing just that with my friend Annie Douglass Lima and her latest book The Gladiator and the Guard! Please join me in welcoming a new YA fantasy book into the world!

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She writes:

I’m excited to announce that my young adult action and adventure novel, The Gladiator and the Guard, is now available for purchase! This is the second book in the Krillonian Chronicles, sequel to The Collar and the Cavvarach.

First Things First: a Little Information about Book 1: Bensin, a teenage slave and martial artist, is desperate to see his little sister freed. But only victory in the Krillonian Empire’s most prestigious tournament will allow him to secretly arrange for Ellie’s escape. Dangerous people are closing in on her, however, and Bensin is running out of time.  With his one hope fading quickly away, how can Bensin save Ellie from a life of slavery and abuse?

sword isolated on white background; Shutterstock ID 109466807


What is the Collar for and What is a Cavvarach?

The story is set in a world very much like our own, with just a few major differences.  One is that slavery is legal there.  Slaves must wear metal collars that lock around their neck, making their enslaved status obvious to everyone.  Any slave attempting to escape faces the dilemma of how and where to illegally get their collar removed (a crime punishable by enslavement for the remover).

Another difference is the popularity of a martial art called cavvara shil. It is fought with a cavvarach (rhymes with “have a rack”), a weapon similar to a sword but with a steel hook protruding from partway down its top edge.  Competitors can strike at each other with their feet as well as with the blades.  You win in one of two ways: disarming your opponent (hooking or knocking their cavvarach out of their hands) or pinning their shoulders to the mat for five seconds.

Click here to order The Collar and the Cavvarach from Amazon!

  And now, The Gladiator and the Guard, with another awesome cover by the talented Jack Lin!

Bensin, a teenage slave martial artist, is just one victory away from freedom. But after he is accused of a crime he didn’t commit, he is condemned to the violent life and early death of a gladiator. While his loved ones seek desperately for a way to rescue him, Bensin struggles to stay alive and forge an identity in an environment designed to strip it from him. When he infuriates the authorities with his choices, he knows he is running out of time. Can he stand against the cruelty of the arena system and seize his freedom before that system crushes him?

 Click here to order The Gladiator and the Guard in Kindle format from Amazon!

 Click here to order The Gladiator and the Guard from Smashwords (for Nook or in other digital formats)

Annie Douglass Lima

Annie Douglass Lima spent most of her childhood in Kenya and later graduated from Biola University in Southern California. She and her husband Floyd currently live in Taiwan, where she teaches fifth grade at Morrison Academy. She has been writing poetry, short stories, and novels since her childhood, and to date has published twelve books (two YA action and adventure novels, four fantasies, a puppet script, and five anthologies of her students’ poetry). Besides writing, her hobbies include reading (especially fantasy and science fiction), scrapbooking, and international travel. 

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