Tag Archives: author

SpringIntoFantasy2

We’re at it again!

This time 28 great Fantasy Authors have banded together to bring you an awesome prize.

What prize?

Maybe I should’ve said PRIZES!

That’s right, the winner of this giveaway gets a $50 Amazon.com certificate AND an ebook bundle of 28 wonderful flinch free fantasy novels.

Why flinch free? We’re all members of Clean Indie Reads which means you won’t find anything more graphic than a low PG-13 rating. So if you’re a parent with active teen readers or just enjoy your fiction without a lot of graphic violence, sex, or language, this is a great giveaway for you to enter.

Also, did I mention these books are fantasy?

That’s right! Magical worlds, dragons and other mythical creatures, and marvelous adventures, at your fingertips.

 You can enter using the rafflecopter below:

 Contest ends 5/16/16

https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

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Dragon’s Revenge Cover Reveal!

Today I have the distinct pleasure of participating in the cover reveal of an author friend of mine, Kandi Wyatt. The first two books in her series have been well received and I applaud as she will soon launch book three into the world. Here’s what she has to say:

The Dragon Courage series is a middle grade/young adult fantasy series that has ten-year-olds to grandparents raving. What’s all the fuss? It’s a clean read of adventure and character-quality-building set in a new world. According to one reviewer, “Not since reading Christopher Paolini’s Eragon have I read a book about dragons that made me want to be a part of that world”. Each book has a theme skilfully woven into the plot so younger readers won’t even realize they are being taught important life qualities. The series is a “fabulous adventure for younger readers that will fill their minds with the magic of dragons, friendships found and worlds from far, far away”.

Today, I am introducing book three in the Dragon Courage series, Dragon’s Revenge. Book one took the reader to the northern canyon country of Three Spans Canyon where Kyn became a dragon rider. Book two followed Braidyn, a youngling born in the canyon country, who moved to the south along the River Sur. When some nestlings are stolen, Braidyn goes seeking retribution. His search takes him to the sandhills to the east of the inland sea. In book three, our story revolves around Kyn. He travels across the inland sea to a new land of marshes and red dragons.

Blurb:

In search of his place in the world, Kyn visits his new friend, Ben’hyamene. Together, they meet an ailing dragon rider from the marshes of a land called the Carr. The rider recounts a people beset by anger, depression, and despair. After befriending and healing the rider, the group travels to the rider’s home. There they discover a breed of wild dragons, called drakes, which have been at war with humans for four hundred years.

One sleepless night, Ben’hyamene uses his new abilities to communicate with the lead drake. This sets Kyn and Ben’hyamene on a path that could bring peace to a conflict that’s nearly destroyed a whole people. Can revenge be set aside and enemies be called friends?

Trailer:

Find the author:

You can find her on her website, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.

And now for the cover!

Dragon's Revenge Cover

Review of Girl of Fire and Thorns

GirlofFireandThornsCover How do we really know what to believe? This summarizes The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson.

Summary: Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness. Elisa is the chosen one. But she is also the younger of two princesses. The one who has never done anything remarkable, and can’t see how she ever will.

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king–a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs her to be the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies, seething with dark magic, are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior, and he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young. Most of the chosen do.

WHAT I THOUGHT: I have to say I don’t usually like reads that focus on a religious belief system, but I’m glad I stayed the course because this is a well written series.

In the first book of the trilogy, The Girl of Fire and Thorns, we meet Elisa, second in line to the throne, and in her mind, second in everything–she’s overweight, politically inept and expendable, therefore she’s married off to a foreign magistrate to strengthen the bonds of peace with that land.

What Elisa doesn’t fully appreciate, however, is the godstone that appeared in her navel as an infant on her naming day, something that occurs only every 100 years. She’s confused and frustrated by what it means for her and her life and she struggles to invent an identity for herself that satisfies her.

But other nations have plans for her as the Bearer and they kidnap her. Through her ordeal trekking through barren dessert, the soft girl begins to toughen up and question what she has always been taught. The questioning is where Carson’s brilliance shines, for we all question what we believe from time to time and that questioning usually changes us…at times significantly.

I won’t offer any spoilers but suffice it to say, if you love a good mystery that changes and grows the main protagonist, you’ll love this first book in the series.

I give this 4.5 stars.

Get Girl of Fire and Thorns at Amazon

PLEASE NOTE!  If you enjoyed this post, be sure to leave a comment to let me know what you thought and then sign up to be notified the instant a new post goes live. Scroll down to the bottom of this page and enter your email.

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 consider leaving a review on Amazon after you read them? Thanks so much!

Review of Snow Like Ashes

Snow Like Ashes I loved Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch! From the well-constructed prose to the riveting storyline to the examination of how to always remain “yourself”, no matter the situation.

SUMMARY (from the back): Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, Winter’s future king—she would do anything to help Winter rise to power again.

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself—only to find herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics—and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.

WHAT I THOUGHT: I must begin my critique with the world Raasch built. At the beginning there seemed to be so many kingdoms that it felt overwhelming, but the author sorted out how they came to be. While this first book fleshed out only three of them, I presume Raasch will bring the others in to play in defeating the major conflict as we move into book two.

Another thing I love about this book is where the story picks up…not with defeat looming, not with an enemy attacking, but completely and utterly defeated with only impossible hope spurring on the Winterians. And after hopes have been dashed so many times, few dare to hope again. How many world’s have been built thusly? Not many that I can remember. I love the author daring to rise up, daring to consider the possibility, daring to hope again…awesome…

Raasch also did a masterful job of unveiling a major plot twist three quarters of the way through that made so much sense but took me completely by surprise. I’ve read a lot of epic fantasy and it takes a lot to “pull one over on me” but she did it and thrilled me. Well done.

The main heroine, Meira, is a believable 16-year-old complete down to her impulsiveness and lack of confidence. I admire that she loves her country so much that she is willing to act for what she believes even if it means her own life is forfeit. That commitment makes her someone I could support and root for. The other theme I appreciated for Meira is her wrestling with how she can remain true to herself when those in authority over her dictate so much of her life. I enjoyed her search for answers that work for her. How true that is for each of us…we must seek to always be ourselves despite peer pressure or those in authority over us.

As for a budding love triangle, we definitely have one between Mather and Theron, but I appreciate how Raasch constructed it…not whiny, but testosterone driven guys who will clearly come to blows at some point. Personally, I’m rooting for Theron as he seems deeper and able to appreciate more deeply. Will that relationship be possible though? Hard to say.

I gave this 5 stars.

Buy Snow Like Ashes at Amazon

IF YOU ENJOYED THIS POST, be sure to leave a comment to let me know what you thought and then sign up to be notified the instant a new post goes live. Scroll to the top of this page and subscribe to this blog.

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 consider leaving a review on Amazon after you read them? Thanks so much!

REVIEW OF ENDURE

Endure_CoverFriendship. Conflict. Love’s Triumph. This is how I summarize Endure, book three in the Defy trilogy by Sara B. Larson.

SUMMARY (from back): At last, Alexa and King Damian are engaged to be married. But their lives are far from safe. The kingdom of Antion is under siege, and Rylan is a prisoner of the enemy. Even worse, Alexa remains at the mercy of the evil Dansiian Rafe, who controls her mind and can force Alexa to kill or harm Damian at any moment. Despite this, Alexa is determined to rescue Rylan, which soon leads her far from Damian and deep into enemy territory.

When she arrives, what awaits her is deadlier than anything she could have ever imagined: an army of black sorcerers, and a horrifying plot to destroy the world as Alexa knows it. Will she be able to gather the strength to free herself, protect the love of her life, and save the land? Will there ever be true peace?

Acclaimed author Sara B. Larson has woven a stunning, romantic, and evocative finale to the Defy trilogy, that is sure to leave readers breathless until the very last page.

WHAT I THOUGHT: Wow. A lot happened in this final book of the series. We start at the problem of how to defeat Rafe, an evil sorcerer, who controls Rylan’s mind while holding him prisoner to get to Alexa, and Damian begging Alexa to never leave him again. We end at peace and happily ever after with the world safe from evil and a new dawn for Antion and the neighboring nations.

While I understand why Larson has Damian act as he does at the beginning, it felt like he became juvenile and lacking the dignity his role demands. I hate whiny kings and he became one. Like I said, I understand why and it worked out in the end, but still…

It came as no surprise that Alexa decides, against Damian’s wishes to go rescue Rylan. As a reader I knew the plot would go that way…it was too obvious. So then it became only a question of how the resulting conflict would go down.

I was left wondering, if I had been Damian, how would I have felt when the woman I love goes off and tries to free her friend. I guess that’s what a true friend does…but the author basically trades Eljin’s life for Rylan’s with her struggling for survival.

I thought the wrap up was only “okay”, as we never hear about most of the other characters like Ajax and Lisbet ever again other than brief mentions.

Overall, I like this book was a fitting conclusion to the series, but I liked it less than book two, based upon the seemingly overused plot line and lack of satisfying wrap up. I give this 4 stars.

Buy Endure at Amazon

IF YOU ENJOYED THIS POST, be sure to leave a comment to let me know what you thought and then sign up to be notified the instant a new post goes live. Scroll to the top of this page and subscribe to this blog.

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 consider leaving a review on Amazon after you read them? Thanks so much!

Review of Ignite

Ignite Cover Action. Vulnerability. Suspense.

This is how I summarize Ignite (Book 2 in the Defy series) by Sara B. Larson, the sequel to Defy. Read my review of Defy

SUMMARY (From back): Murder, kidnapping, and forbidden romance abound in this thrilling sequel to Sara B. Larson’s acclaimed YA debut, DEFY.

Alexa continues to harbor a secret love for the newly crowned King Damian, yet she remains by his side as his guard and ever committed to helping him rebuild Antion and reclaim the hope of Antion’s people. However, when a new threat to Damian and his kingdom emerges, and blame is cast on the once friendly nation of Blevon, Alexa knows things are not what they seem. Once again the fate of her country hangs in the balance. Will Alexa be able to protect her king and uncover the true enemy — before it’s too late?

WHAT I THOUGHT: Larson expands what she began in book one in this engaging tale. Prince Damian is as charming and beautiful as ever and the love triangle with Rylan gets no easier for Alexa. She vascilates between the two men she loves, knowing Rylan is the “sensible” choice for her husband for she is “just” a member of the king’s guard without privilege or honor as befitting the queen of a nation. Yet her heart knows better…

Meanwhile, a band of strange sorcerers visits Antion–sorcerers undetectible by Damian–and begin a campaign to overwhelm the monarchy and citizens, with mind control. Larson did a good job of painting a very bleak situation that I couldn’t easily see how it would resolve. And what’s more, she put the characters through their paces and did not make it resolve easily (good job)! I hate books where an author backs the characters into a corner, then makes the conflict resolve so easily as to make it annoying. Larson did not commit that sin 🙂

In fact, I LOVED how the author used the climax of the central conflict to force Alexa to at last confess her deep, deep love of Damian, getting her logic out of the way and laying bare, in a very vulnerable way, her heart for the man. I still remember the scene…Damian asks, “Did you mean what you said?” and Alexa confesses, “Yes.” Oh, be still my heart…

One thing I still don’t understand…why was Alexa chosen? And why does a nation want her so badly that they send a sorcerer to apprehend her? I guess this is to be explored in the next book in the series…hope…hope.

Which brings me to my one complaint. Larson leaves you hanging at the end. So much is left open and while I understand she wants us to buy the next book to see how it all works out, I felt dissatisfied and empty at how she left us after such a gripping rollercoaster ride. Nonetheless, I plan to read the next installment 🙂

Overall, I give Ignite 4.5 stars.

Buy Ignite at Amazon

IF YOU ENJOYED THIS POST, be sure to leave a comment to let me know what you thought and then sign up to be notified the instant a new post goes live. Scroll to the top of this page and subscribe to this blog.

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 consider leaving a review on Amazon after you read them? Thanks so much!

 

IT’S HERE AT LAST!

JustReleased

Vision of the Griffin’s Heart, Book Five in the award-winning Andy Smithson coming-of-age, epic fantasy series released today!

5 Stars! “This book is definitely an emotional rollercoaster, and I did shed tears.” – Cassandra L. Middle School Teacher

Get yours Now at amzn.to/1N7fEOI

Series Synopsis: Four years ago, Andy Smithson discovered he is the Chosen one to break a 500-yr-old curse plaguing the land of Oomaldee when he unexpectedly and mysteriously found himself there. To do so, he must collect ingredients for a magical potion. Thus far he has gathered the scale of a red dragon, venom from a giant serpent, a unicorn’s horn, and the tail feather of a phoenix. Now he must ask a griffin for one of its talons. There’s just one problem…humans have poached griffin treasure, causing these mythical creatures to attack on sight.

Complicating matters, the evil Abaddon, sovereign of Oomaldee’s northern neighbor, is turning more and more citizens into zolt in his ongoing campaign of terror as he sets in motion the final steps of his plan to conquer the land. Things really start to heat up in book five!

If you loved Harry Potter, you’ll love the Andy Smithson series chalk full of mythical creatures, newly invented animals like zolt, herewolves, and therewolves, a complex plot with evolving characters, and positive themes including responsibility, diligence, dignity, friendship and more.

Don’t Wait! Get yours Now at amzn.to/1N7fEOI

Review of The Black Mage

TheBlackMage_series

Intrigue. Magic. A Dark Prince.

This is how I summarize a series I did not want to see end… I highly recommend The Dark Mage series by Rachel Carter.

SUMMARY (from back cover): Before the age of seventeen the young men and women of Jerar are given a choice –follow tradition, or pursue a trial year in one of the realm’s three war schools to study as a soldier, knight or mage…

For 15-year-old Ryiah the choice has always been easy. Become a warrior and leave the boring confines of her lowborn life behind. Set to enroll in the School of Knighthood on the eve of her next birthday, plans suddenly shift when her twin brother discovers powers. Hoping that hers will soon follow, she enrolls with Alex at the Academy instead –the realm’s most notorious war school for those with magic.

Yet when she arrives Ry finds herself competing against friend and foe for one of the exalted apprenticeships. Every “first-year” is given a trial year to prove their worth –and no amount of hard work and drive will guarantee them a spot. It seems like everyone is rooting for her to fail –and first and foremost among them Prince Darren, the school prodigy who has done nothing but make life miserable since she arrived.
When an accidental encounter leads Ryiah and Darren to an unlikely friendship she is convinced nothing good will come of it. But the lines become blurred when she begins to improve –and soon she is a key competitor for the faction of Combat… Still, nothing is ever as it seems –and when the world comes crashing down around her, Ry is forced to place faith in the one thing she can believe in –herself. Will it be enough?

WHAT I THOUGHT: You’ll notice I am doing a review of all three books at once. There’s a reason for that, namely, once I got going in the series, I didn’t want to stop to think about the first book, or even the second as I finished it…I wanted to keep reading! I was hooked.

Book One started out a bit slow for my taste, but I kept thinking I’d give it a chance and see where the author took me. Obviously, I was not disappointed. I thought each book built nicely on the next and the storyline compelled me forward.

I loved the protagonist, Ryiah. She began as a regular girl of 15 and through her first year studies at the school, was torn down by a prejudiced instructor as well as her own insecurities as well as second guessing about a certain boy prince. But she grows stronger and in book two, we see her continue to evolve in her magic as well as personally. SPOILER ALERT – I absolutely loved Darren’s marriage proposal at the end of book 2. What a guy! Then in book 3, coming to understand the king, his expectations, and how he raised his sons, Ryiah grows stronger still. I can’t imagine fighting all out against the love of your life, regardless of the circumstance. It truly took a lot of courage on both her and the prince’s part.

That said, I did not appreciate the lack of editing. I found several places where the wrong word was used. I always hate it when that happens for it draws attention to the craft and distracts from the narrative. For this, I always deduct 10% from the rating. That aside, I would recommend this book if you’re looking for a good plot and dynamic characters.

Overall, I give book one 4 stars, books 2 – 4.5 stars and book 3 – 4 stars.

Buy The Black Mage book one (at Amaozn).

PLEASE NOTE!  If you enjoyed this post, be sure to leave a comment to let me know what you thought and then sign up to be notified the instant a new post goes live. Scroll back to top of this page and enter your email.

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 consider leaving a review on Amazon after you read them? Thanks so much!

Review of Fire Falling

FireFalling1Ooo la la… What can I say to this deeply vulnerable and sweetly romantic second installment in the Air Awakens series, Fire Falling, by Elise Kova.

If you love Sarah J. Maas, you’re sure to enjoy Elise Kova!!

SUMMARY (from book): Soldier… Sorcerer… Savior… Who is Vhalla Yarl?

Vhalla Yarl marches to war as property of the Solaris Empire. The Emperor counts on her to bring victory, the Senate counts on her death, and the only thing Vhalla can count on is the fight of her life. As she grapples with the ghosts of her past, new challenges in the present threaten to shatter the remnants of her fragile sanity. Will she maintain her humanity? Or will she truly become the Empire’s monster?

WHAT I THOUGHT: In this installment, Vhalla leaves the protection of the castle to fulfill the sentence the Senate decreed, for her involvement in the events of the night of wind and fire that threatened the life of Prince Aldrick. She marches to war under the command of the Emperor who plans to exploit her talents to conquer the North. To him, she is a lowly, worthless commoner who has become a distraction to his son and he makes no attempt to hide his feelings.

While most of the book covers the 3 month march north, the author takes what could be a rather boring and monotonous trek and makes it anything but. We see so much more of the deep love Vhalla has for Aldrick, a love she has desperately tried to deny, for she knows acknowledging it would set in motion changes she’s frightened to confront.

For Aldrick’s part, we watch his affections for Vhalla mature and discover he, too, has tried to deny his feelings for not only is a relationship with a commoner taboo for royalty, but he believes his past struggles, murders, and uncertainties make him someone to be shunned rather than loved.

SPOILER: I particularly loved the scene where Aldrick comes to Baldair looking for Vhalla in his brother’s section of the camp. After being apart from Aldrick for a time for her own safety, Vhalla hears Aldrick asking his brother about her. She sneaks out of her tent and in little more than a whisper, calls his name, drawing his attention. The conversation/events that ensue cement for both of them their true and undeniable feelings for each other. Whew… What a beautifully moving scene Kova wove together.

While this is only Kova’s second novel, she touches on vulnerabilities and insecurities we all deal with and feelings and emotions we long for. Seeing the host of passionate fans who have responded to these themes, I know she will do very well as an indie author. Well done. I can’t wait for book three!

I gave this book 5 stars!

You can watch Elise read from Fire Falling on Book Nerd Paradise’s YouTube channel at https://youtu.be/ptocpKE3VxI

Buy Fire Falling, Book Two in Air Awakens (at Amazon)
Buy Air Awakens, Book One (at Amazon)

PLEASE NOTE!  If you enjoyed this post, be sure to leave a comment to let me know what you thought and then sign up to be notified the instant a new post goes live. Scroll back to top of this page and enter your email.

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 consider leaving a review on Amazon after you read them? Thanks so much!

 

Review of Rider of the Crown

RideroftheCrownI have a wonderful book hangover after reading this thought-filled, inspiring, and romantic tale: Rider of the Crown (Crown of Tremontaine Book Two) by Melissa McShane.

SUMMARY (from back): Imogen, warrior of the Kirkellan tribes, has never wanted to be anything else. But when the long war between the Kirkellan and the country of Ruskald ends, the terms of the peace treaty require Imogen to be married to the vicious King of Ruskald for five years. Confined to his freezing city, forbidden to fight, Imogen sees nothing but darkness in her future—until the arrival of Elspeth North, heir to the Crown of Tremontane, brings three countries to the brink of war and sets Imogen free.

Now, sent to be the ambassador of her people to Tremontane, Imogen faces new challenges as she struggles to maintain her warrior’s identity in a world of glittering ballrooms and foreign customs. As a diplomat, Imogen discovers skills she never knew she had—as well as a forbidden attraction to the handsome and charismatic King Jeffrey North. But when war once again threatens not only Tremontane but her own people, Imogen must decide: is she the warrior, the diplomat—or something greater?

WHAT I THOUGHT: Rider of the Crown picks up about twenty years after Servant of the Crown (The Crown of Tremontaine Book One) and includes only cameos of Allison North, the Royal Librarian, that I came to love. I was a bit disappointed initially that this book did not add the next installment of the Royal Librarian’s adventures, but it was nice to see a slice of Tremontaine from other character’s perspectives.

By this time in the story, King Anthony and Allison have had two children, Jeffrey and Elspeth, and Anthony has died, making Jeffrey an unmarried and very eligible King. I won’t go into what all happens for you can read that yourself, but I loved the theme the author weaves throughout the book: who am I really? Am I what I’m good at? Am I what I am passionate about? Am I who I love or who loves me? Something else, or all of the above?

We follow the strong heroine, Imogen, through three phases of her life during which she keeps asking herself this question. The first phase is living as “wife” to an enemy for five years as part of a peace treaty her mother signs as ruler of Kirkellan. She finds herself, a Kirkellan warrior, among the enemy who despise her and her people and she wonders how she will endure for five years in that hostile environment with an arrogant, power-hungry ruler for a husband, temporary though it may be. She grows and learns about herself over a year until the ruler makes a choice that betrays the ethics she believes in and she annuls the peace treaty to stand for what she believes is right.

The second phase of the story, and her life, is as an ambassador of Kirkellan to Tremontaine at the request of her mother. In this foreign nation, she encouters all manner of different cultural norms and must learn how to become an ambassador, moving effectively with norms and practices not her own, all the while holding to who she believes she is, a Kirkellan warrior. She learns and grows through the experience and comes to meet the King who she falls in love with. Nothing like love to tempt one throw away what they care about. But she stays true to herself until…

In part three, Tremontaine finds itself at war with the country who Imogen was initially wed to, and she sheds her ambassador status to retake her Kirkellian warrior heritage to lead her warriors and those of Tremontaine into battle. Clearly a good leader of soldiers, Imogen must, in the end, come to grips with whether pursuing love or the path she had always envisioned, will be her future.

As an author, I appreciate a well-crafted, engaging storyline. And this one lives up to that and adds more by challenging the reader to ask the question of ourselves…Who am I really? I give this book 5 stars.

Get Rider of the Crown (Crown of Tremontaine Book Two) from Amazon

PLEASE NOTE!  If you enjoyed this post, be sure to leave a comment to let me know what you thought and then sign up to be notified the instant a new post goes live. Scroll back to top of this page and enter your email.

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 consider leaving a review on Amazon after you read them? Thanks so much!