Friday, August 31, 2012

Review of Strangers in the Gale by Joe Occhipinti

An unconscious girl found on a clump of floating kelp radically complicates Bernardo’s life. By all accounts, Ondas is supposed to be uninhabited. Why is the League government hiding the existence of the seafarers? In his quest for answers, the young biologist becomes entangled in a broader conflict that is about to take a recently colonized world to war. Bernardo is swept into a secret world of rebellion and espionage, and uncovers a genocidal policy by his government directed against the child’s aboriginal culture. On this water world fraught with ubiquitous storms, Bernardo, a few of his colleagues, two enslaved technicians, and an enigmatic mystic fight for the girl’s survival and that of her people, discovering a long-forgotten truth that will shake the foundations of worlds.

4 stars

Strangers in the Gale was inspired by author Joe Occhipinti's time living among the indigenous tribes of the Andes Mountains.  The theme of the book reflects the respect he gained for a people living life the way that they have forever without the interference of larger more technological peoples.

The book takes place on a planet that is largely covered with oceans and often has storms that make what happens on Earth seem like a gentle spring rain.  Bernardo is a League scientist who is traveling to this planet help with the exploration of the new species of plant life.  While simply doing his job he meets up with an old school colleague who has an agenda that she is keeping secret from everyone.  She believes the planet to be inhabited and The League is covering it up for their own reasons.

Bernardo is sucked into her agenda when he finds out what atrocities The League has perpetrated on other planets, including the virtual enslavement of an entire race.  Together they must avoid the attention of the people who will arrest them and remove them from the planet while trying to find out the truth and help the indigenous people.

I really enjoyed this book.  It has solid characters, a good plot, solid pacing, and a surprising amount of action.  This is a great offering from a new author and I look forward to seeing what else is on the way.

Pick up your copy on Amazon or check out the website and Facebook page for more info.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Review of By Sword and Star by Renee Carter Hall

Prince Tiran of Silverglen may be heir to the throne of all Asteria, but he's always felt more at home among the villagers, no matter how many lectures he gets from his father.

But when the elk-lord Roden slaughters the royal family and claims the throne for himself, only Tiran is left to avenge their deaths and take his place as the rightful king.

His journey will lead him from the shadowed heart of his forest home into the treetops with the squirrel-clan of the Drays, across the western plains, and among the mysterious and deadly wolves of the Northern Reach.

With his allies' help, Tiran must become the king his people need him to be–or risk fulfilling an ancient prophecy that will spell the end of Asteria itself.

4 stars

By Sword and Star is a story involving anthropomorphic characters.  The main character is Prince Tiran, a unicorn of the royal family. The enemies that have taken his family and heritage from him are the elk lead by Roden.

The elk and unicorn characters seem to be pretty much human in behavior.  The other species exhibit more animal characteristics especially the wolves and squirrels.  I actually really enjoyed those two groups and the parts that they played.  The wolves are a bit more primitive, living in caves, struggling to survive the harsh environment.  The squirrels are more of an elite fighting group using their crazy agility to give them an advantage in combat.

The story itself is pretty familiar with the lost prince coming for revenge against the rebellious noble who killed his family.  The animal characters are what really set the book apart from all of those other stories.  This book only took me 2 days to read so it's a quick, but enjoyable read.  This book should work well for general fans of fantasy, but especially for people who enjoy the anthropomorphic subgenre.

Buy this book on Amazon or get more info from the authors website.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Review of Zen's Heritage by Edward Larel

Zen's Heritage continues the story from Arawn's Quest. The adventure picks up from the perspective of Zen, an orphaned boy taken in and raised by the Wizard Diaden to be a mage in a world where a treaty with dangerous elemental beings forbids such learning. When the boy turned 14, Diaden brought him to find Arawn Segomo so they could both help the man on his quest to free his people from magical exile at the hands of the same elementals.

After a full year of travel, the group of heroes, which now also includes an elven mercenary named Katrina, have only one Gem of Power to show for their efforts. When Zen's mentor leaves him so he can learn how to survive on his own, Zen and his remaining friends will have to face powerful enemies after his gem and an unspeakable evil that hounds their every step. To top it off, the boy must also keep a secret related to his heritage from his remaining friends. A secret that, until now, he's been able to keep from the world for 15 years.

4 stars

Zen's Heritage is the second book in the Arawn's Quest series.  Picking up where the first book left off the group of adventurer's still strives to collect the power stones they need to complete the item that will return Arawn's people to the proper dimension.

This book really does a lot with the interplay between characters.  Zen has a secret that he has been keeping from the others and it becomes harder and harder for him to keep it.  There are also a few new races that get introduced in this story.  They add more depth to the world that the story takes place in and are pretty interesting.  The Elementals continue to be an issue causing more obstacles for the group while trying to stop them from completing their quest.

This series is developing at a good pace, balancing the action with the exploration of the world.  I'll be keeping an eye out for the rest of the series and the other offerings Ed has coming.

Pick up a copy on Amazon or find more info on the Northwinter Press page on Facebook.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Review of Whingeblade by Nicholas J Ordinans

Soonar is the last of the lion-eagles and Nowan, the prince who must save her. But he doesn't really want to. He hates responsibility and his demonsword ‘Whingeblade’ would rather soak in hot oil than do any actual work. But, there is no-one else. This tale is about growing up, loyalty to friends and facing life’s challenges. Nothing new, but the true things about life do not change just because the times do. Every generation must pass on its tales to the next to try and ensure that the chain of good things is never completely broken.

3 stars

Whingeblade is a book that has a familiar, but good premise.  A young man from a family of means is forced to the life of a roving mercenary and is given an epic quest from the gods.

There are some aspects of the book that I really enjoyed.  The inclusion of a demon blade was pretty cool and it's personality added a bit to the party.  Also the griffin like character Soo-Nar was a great addition to the party.  The main thing that didn't really do it for me in the book was the static nature of the characters.  It didn't really seem like any of them changed or grew through the story.  Nicholas Ordinans shows promise as an author and I hope to see some more development as he continues to write.

Get your copy on Amazon

Monday, August 27, 2012

Clare Davidson stops by on her blog tour.

Today Clare Davidson is stopping by as part of her blog tour celebrating the release of her debut novel Trinity.  She will be discussing some of the authors that inspired her writing.

There are many inspirational authors out there, across every genre. However, pinpointing the ones that  directly inspire me as an author is a harder job than it sounds.

If I look back to my teens, two writers immediately spring to mind: Tamora Pierce and the late Lloyd Alexander.

I used to love the 'Song of the Lionness' books. Alanna was an amazing character: strong and gutsy, but with emotional fragility. I loved how Pierce combined action, intrigue and romance in her books, whilst creating a convincing world.

I adored Eilonwy, the feisty princess come scullery made with the red-gold hair, from Alexander's, 'The Chronicles of Prydain'. Many of my first heroines were modelled on her, until I was able to find my own voice. Alexander's stories opened my eyes to the vast realms of Celtic mythology. His writing was atmospheric with quick witted dialogue that spoke volumes about the characters.

At University, I was advised to read Pat Barker's 'Regeneration' trilogy. The first and last book  (Regeneration and The Ghost Road) have stuck with me ever since then. Filled with vivid imagery and raw  emotion, they are the only two books that have reduced me to tears in public. Trust me, it was a good thing. Part of the reason I read is to venture on an emotional journey with characters I love.

Around the same time, I discovered fantasy writer, Holly Lisle. At the time, she was still running the Forward Motion writing community, with its 'pay it forward' mantra. Lisle has been inspirational in terms of both her fiction and non-fiction writing courses and the new community that she has built up around those courses. Lisle's fantasy worlds are all deeply and convincingly developed, with epic themes and strong characters that you can really believe in.

There are many more authors who inspired me to create stories, worlds and characters of my own: far too many to mention! One thing they all have in common is the depth of their worlds and the emotional attachment I felt to their characters. My aim as a writer is to create equally believable worlds and rich characters.

Stop by Amazon and take a look at Clare's book Trinity.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Guest Post by Scott Fitzgerald Gray

I’m a self-proclaimed fantasist. I’m a writer and editor working almost exclusively in fantasy and speculative fiction, and those are the genre traditions that have shaped my creativity all my life. I cut my childhood reader’s teeth on Carl Barks’ Disney duck tales and the “Tarzan” of Russ Manning and Joe Kubert, and on “Batman” and “The Legion of Superheroes,” on Tolkien and Lewis, Silverberg and Heinlein. I’m a person who spent most of his time in high school doing an unofficial course of self-directed study in imaginative literature, courtesy of Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov, Robert E. Howard and Larry Niven, and so many others. And though I love mainstream and “real” literature just as much as I love fantasy and SF, and though I’ve written mostly mainstream stories in my work as a screenwriter, I’m drawn to fantasy first and foremost in my prose fiction for one simple reason:

Fantasy is all about building worlds, and I loves me the world building.

There are two broad approaches to world building, I think. On the one hand, you can take a kind of freeform approach where the laws and foundations of a fantasy world arise entirely out of the storytelling. This is a type of writing where the story and the characters are the primary focus, and the world shapes itself according to whatever makes the characters and the story work best. In this type of writing, the formal act of world building sometimes doesn’t happen until the story is actually done, whereupon a writer goes back and sketches out the broader rules and tropes of the fantasy world in a way that supports what the story is doing. As a broad example, an author might not have a strong initial sense of how magic should work in a fantasy world. But then in the course of the writing, it becomes clear that the character story is best served by magic being rare and potentially deadly to those who wield it. As the story comes together, it then falls to the writer to figure out why magic is rare and deadly, but those decisions follow from the character story.

At the other end of the creative spectrum is the process in which the world building comes first. Some writers like to have the rules of the world firmly laid down even before the first bits of plot and character story are sketched out. As a broad counterexample to the above, an author might lay down a concrete framework for how magic works and how characters interact with it with no real sense of how those characters will be doing so. Then as the plot and character story develop, the rules of the world-building framework become a big part of what pushes the character story, inflexibly and dogmatically determining what the characters can and can’t do.

I had designs on being a writer from an early age. En route to the point in my life when I was first comfortable actually calling myself a writer, I engaged in a lot of activities that involved the application of fictional paradigms to alternate modes of creativity. That’s a kind of intentionally over-the-top highbrow way of saying, “When I was younger, I spent a lot of time playing roleplaying games.” These days, a lot of years later, I spend a fair bit of time working on roleplaying games as a freelance editor and designer for Wizards of the Coast (publishers of Dungeons & Dragons), alongside writing my own stuff, story editing and script consulting for film, and editing fiction. As such, I spend a lot of time working in a fictional world where a rigid rule set defines the “story,” and it would be easy to say that my own approach to world building cleaves firmly to a “rules first, character second” approach as a result. However, the truth is a little more complicated.

I like a starting point to my fiction that’s tied down firmly by rules. I like the idea of consistency in fantasy worlds. I like the idea that magic works the same way for everyone in a fantasy world, and thus should be theoretically accessible to everyone in some way — not just the exclusive province of a small number of extremely powerful background characters. I like the idea that the rules of magic should be consistent across an entire fictional milieu, and that a book should reflect some sense of how magic works in the world, not just offer up a lot of soft description. I like the idea that whatever historical and cultural underpinnings are used in the foundations of a fantasy world should create rigid expectations for how characters live their lives, as determined by their social standing, their culture, their creed, or what have you. I like the idea that in worlds with magic, magic should inflect every part of the world and its culture, not just show up when it’s convenient to the storytelling.

As such, my own process has always been to lay down the rules of the world first. My fantasy fiction takes place in a shared-world milieu called the Endlands, which actually takes as its starting point a variant version of the rules of the D&D “world” that should look familiar to anyone who’s ever played the game. And I think that the first mode of world building mentioned above (creating the rules of the world in response to character story) is fine, and can be used to great effect. But the risk inherent in that approach is of inadvertently creating a world that’s too custom-tailored to the needs of the characters, and which thus misses out on the opportunity to layer in the conflict and obstacles that all character story is built on.

Once all the rigid rules are laid down, I don’t view them as limitations to character story. I see them as challenges to be overcome as a writer, running in parallel to the way the challenges of the world need to be overcome by the characters themselves. With those rules in place, I get to make use of the greatest freedom given to any writer — the need and wherewithal to flip the finger to the rules in the name of story. In broadest Fiction 101 terms, the most interesting aspects of any fictional world are those that set up the roadblocks preventing the characters from too easily attaining their dramatic goals. At the end of the day, all the rules laid down in fiction exist on some level to screw the characters around — and it’s the job of the characters and the writer to break those rules any way we can.

• • •

Scott Fitzgerald Gray has been flogging his imagination professionally since deciding he wanted to be a writer and abandoning any hope of a real career in about the fourth grade. That was the year that speculative fiction and fantasy kindled his voracious appetite for literary escapism and a love of roleplaying gaming that still drives his questionable creativity. In addition to his fantasy and speculative fiction writing, Scott has dabbled in feature film and television, was a finalist for the Jim Burt Screenwriting Prize from the Writers’ Guild of Canada, and currently consults and story edits on projects ranging from overly obscure indie-Canadian fare to Neill Blomkamp’s somewhat less-obscure “District 9” and the upcoming “Elysium”.

Scott’s latest novel is the high-school coming-of-age techno-thriller “We Can Be Heroes”]. The world of the Endlands can be sampled in most of Scott’s other books, including the “Tales of the Endlands” series of shorts [], and the anthology “A Prayer for Dead Kings and Other Tales” [].

Monday, August 20, 2012

Review of Across the Mekong River by Elaine Russell

In a California courtroom, seventeen-year-old Nou Lee reels with what she is about to do. What she must do to survive. She reflects on the splintered path that led to this moment, beginning twelve years ago in 1978, when her Hmong family escaped from Laos after the Communist takeover. The story follows the Lees from a squalid refugee camp in Thailand to a new life in Minnesota and eventually California. Family members struggle to survive in a strange foreign land, haunted by the scars of war and loss of family. Across the Mekong River paints a vivid picture of the Hmong immigrant experience, exploring family love, sacrifice, and the resiliency of the human spirit to overcome tragic circumstances

5 stars

Across the Mekong River follows the Hmong family on their turbulent journey from the newly Communist controlled Laos eventually leading them to California.  The viewpoint of the book switches between Nou Lee or Lisa, the main character, and her parents Pao and Yer.

Pao was a freedom fighter during the early stages of the conflict in Laos, fighting so his family's lifestyle can remain the same that it has always been.  When the American's withdraw their support from the Special Forces in country the Communists come after them with a vengeance in order to remove any local resistance before it has a chance to organize.  This begins a very difficult time in the life of their family as they must escape the country without being captured and killed.

This book appealed to me due to my interest in the conflicts that America was involved with during the time this book takes place.  I have read many books about the American Special Forces and the jungle warfare that they were involved in, but this is the first one I've read that deals with the lives of the people who were forgotten in all of the conflict.  I never really thought about the difficulties that the people who were forced to flee to a new country, trying to remain true to their roots while surviving in a land that doesn't understand them.

This book did an excellent job touching on the emotional journey of the various members of the family with the old guard trying to stay as true as possible to their roots and Lisa/Nou Lee trying to fit in at her school.  I was a bit hesitant about this book since it's pretty far from the norm for me, but I find myself saying that a lot lately and always enjoying myself when I venture into new areas.  This book will not disappoint anyone who wants to give it a shot and I highly recommend it.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Exciting opportunity for artists!!

G David Walker author of From a Far Land is holding an exciting contest for anyone who has some artistic skill. He is offering the chance to draw the races from his story series (more info found here) with the the person who draws closest to what he sees in his head winning a pretty great prize package.  For those keeping track that's 9 prize packages being given away.  Winners receive a $25 Amazon gift card, signed copies of all three books from the series (when they are published), kindle copies of the books, and full credit with contact info will be included in the books, on his facebook page, and in an RPG supplement download.  So if you are a struggling artist this is a way to get your name distributed pretty widely plus getting some great books and a gift card.

For all the info on the contest check out the contest info page on David's website.  Good luck to all who enter!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Guest Post by Brian Beam

Quick disclaimer:  All of the link included have been researched by Brian, I have not heard of or looked into the majority of them.  Please make sure to do your own research before putting money forward on anything.  

Marketing Your Indie Book on a Budget

In today’s world, it is easier than ever to become a self-published author. Websites such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords make it not only easy, but absolutely free to publish your eBook for availability to millions of Kindle, Nook, and iPad/Pod/Phone users. Print-on-demand services make it ridiculously easy to have printed editions of your book available for sale. With eBook retailers offering up to 70% royalties, why would anyone bother to even try to go through a traditional publisher?

I’ll tell you why: reputation/credibility, target audience reach, marketing channels, and marketing budgets.

Does this mean that going the indie route with your book is destined for failure? No, it doesn’t. Can your indie book be a success? Maybe. Is it possible to market your indie book without the thousands upon thousands of dollars spent by a major publisher? Of course it is. Heck, if you are willing to take the time to do a little digging, there are tons of resources available for the budget-conscious indie writer.

I know that like the majority of indie writers out there, writing is not my primary occupation, nor do I have the money to spend thousands on marketing my book. I hope that I can give a few options to those of you out there who are in the same boat. Successfully marketing your self-published indie book can be done without bankrupting your wallet.

Be prepared for some website name dropping.

Let’s start with the most important marketing tool available to any writer: reviews. You know the whole “word of mouth” method of advertising? With books, that starts with reviews. For the burgeoning indie author, reviews are critical. Positive reviews bolster your credibility as a writer and encourage potential readers take the plunge in trying out a relative unknown. And guess what? You can get these reviews for the amazing low cost of(drum-roll)...nothing.

There are dozens of blogs and review sites out there who, time allowing, would love to read your book and give it an honest review. These free reviewers understandably receive a lot of submissions, so you may be waiting a good couple months to get your review. Remember, though, it’s free. These reviewers(usually bloggers) will typically post reviews on whatever sites you wish(Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes and Noble, etc.) as well as on their site which could have a few dozen to a few thousand followers.

And don’t think that these reviewers are hard to find. Here, I’ll start you out with over 100 of them listed on the following site: Just make sure they accept your book’s genre, follow their submission guidelines, and send them a copy. If you want reviews to coincide with your book’s release, just make sure to submit a copy well in advance. Some will even prioritize advance reader copies to get the review up by the time of release.

There is no shortage of sites that will review your book in a timelier manner, but they usually involve a fee. Here’s a couple examples: – ($45 for 5 detailed book reviews, $85 for 10, 3 week turn around) - (Free for 10-12 week review if accepted, $59 for 1 express review, $129 for 3, $199 for 5. Express reviews 2-3 week turnaround)

These are just a couple(but not all) of the cheaper options available. There are loads more sites such as Kirkus Reviews, for example, that are not quite as budget friendly. With places such as Kirkus, you’re not just paying for the review, but the reputation of the Kirkus name on your review.

Reviews mean little to nothing if no one actually sees your book and therefore all of you new, (hopefully) great reviews. Here’s where the more time-consuming portion of your marketing effort comes into play.

Having a good web presence can allow your prospective readers to get to know you: profiles on Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, personal blogs, etc. There are countless forums for writers and readers where you can plug your new book (just make sure you follow their guidelines for self-promotion or they’ll be none too happy with you). Search out forums specific to your genre with a simple Google search. Join some writer/reading groups on Facebook. Join Goodreads and gain access to the dozens of groups where your release can be posted. All of this is monetarily free, but a little taxing on your time.

Okay, so you’ve got your reviews, posted on a few dozen message boards/forums about your new release, and you’re starting to see some sales. But, you want more. Your book—your pride and joy—deserves more exposure. You want to try some traditional advertising, but it’s just prohibitively expensive, right? Not always.

Time for a little more name dropping. For a mere 5 bucks, you can have your book displayed as the featured book on for five weekdays, or the weekend. Want to instead have a banner ad listed in your genre’s section on the site? 5 bucks.

If you want to spend a little more money and your book is available for Kindle, offers a wide range of advertising options from 30 bucks to highlight your book as a free book of the day(if you’re a member of Amazon’s KDP Select and you use a free promotion day) to 500 bucks for combination packages. Many of their moderately priced advertising packages ($100-$200) will get your book promoted to tens of thousands of potential buyers through notifications on their Facebook pages, Twitter pages, etc. This site even lets you look at the results of every single book they have advertised. They are that sure of what
they can do for your book sales.

Another great site (warning, this one is Kindle exclusive and usually requires your book to have a certain number of reviews with an average of 4 stars on Amazon) is Have 40 bucks and at least 10 reviews with a 4 star average? Try their Twitterlicious Social Buzz option that can get your book promoted to a potential group of nearly 500,000 Twitter users. This particular site also offers many author services for formatting/editing your book, free reviews, and marketing tips.

These are not in any way your only choices. For example, you can advertise on Goodreads or Facebook and are even able to submit how much your marketing budget is to find out just what they will do to advertise your book for how much you’re willing to spend. See, even the budget-conscious indie writer can find effective, yet affordable, advertising.

If you feel that your book is great enough to stand up on its own in its genre (and you should if you’re thinking on self-publishing), many different sites and organizations run contests to determine the best books of the year. Some of these contests are indie-specific. Many will even offer downloadable images to tag onto your book cover that will display that you were a finalist/winner in their contest. Your book will be judged in its own genre and some of these contests even include a guaranteed review of your book(which is a good thing, remember?).

Many of the 2012 contests are rapidly approaching the submission deadline if not already closed, but 2013 submissions will be focused on before the end of the year. The costs of submissions vary and can get up to $100+, but the exposure you gain if you become a finalist (or even better, a winner!) can be well worth the cost. Plus, some offer cash prizes or advertising bundles for the winners. Here’s a couple examples to check out: (review of your book included)
(review of your book included)

This list is by no means all-inclusive. I have personally registered for two of these (Kindle Book Review - $15, and Reader’s Favorite - $89). Even the budget-conscious indie writer can participate in some of these contests.

All the things I have mentioned are in no way the only ways to affordably market your book or necessarily the best places to use. I just wish to convey that getting your indie book out there is affordable and not that difficult if you’re willing to invest the time (if you’re not willing to invest the time, you may want to rethink your self-publishing aspirations). I intend this information to simply offer a starting point. Plus, I’m sure Scott, as gracious as he has been to allow me to write this guest blog, wouldn’t appreciate me taking up any more room on his page with my rambling.

Just remember, not all of these options will give you immediate results (free reviews and contests especially), so a little patience will be necessary. Do not give up on your dreams of indie success just because you don’t sell a thousand copies on day one(and if you do, maybe you would be better qualified to write this guest blog...).

Good luck to all of my fellow indie writers out there. Keep following your dreams!

Brian Beam

Brian Beam has recently self-published his debut fantasy eBook, The Dragon Gem, on Amazon, giving him the opportunity to get to experience the ins and outs of the indie community.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Radiant Burn and The Best of Times by Arshad Ahsanuddin reviews

"Magic requires sacrifice."

Alexandria, Egypt, 2008. The Sentinel assault on the vampire citadel was broken by a spell that consumed the caster and destroyed everything around him. Only two of the vampire hunters walked away: Antonio Martinez, last of the Winds, and Edgar Jameson, his trusted lieutenant.

Circumstances drew them together again, eventually. Will the Sentinel curse bring them down just as it has all who came before them, or can the choices they make trump destiny?

This novella comes after Sunrise (Book 2) in story continuity.

5 stars

Radiant Burn is a short story set in Arshad Ahsanuddin's Pact Arcanum world.  It goes over events that readers may already have some familiarity with in much more depth with different perspectives.  I'll admit that I have been of a fan of the way Arshad writes since reading the sample of Sunset and I will continue to follow the series.

Radiant Burn gives a little bit more insight into the life of Nick, dealing with his father's time as a Sentinel.  As Nick is my favorite character in the series I really appreciate seeing a little bit of his life before he became a vampire that holds so much power.  Arshad's ability to write fantastic characters is unreal and you will feel like you know them as friends.  If you haven't checked out the series do yourself a favor and do so.

"Mortals die. It's what they do."

Rory understands. The death of his lover Takeshi is a devastating blow from which he can't bear to recover. Lorcan takes it upon himself to coax his friend and ally back to life. Then an innocent gesture of affection places them both in the center of an explosive scandal, forcing them to make choices they might otherwise never have considered. Magic requires sacrifice. Will their friendship survive the pressure of Nightwalker politics, or will their relationship be just another casualty of war?

This novella falls after Moonlight (Book 3) in story continuity.

4 stars

The Best of Times by Arshad Ahsanuddin takes place after the third book in his Pact Arcanum series Moonlight. It serves as a very nice appetizer for the upcoming release Starlight by setting up a few pretty major character changes. Arshad truly has mastered telling about his characters in ways that make them seem realistic and vulnerable despite the extraordinary amount of power they wield. 

This is a good read for fans of the series and really makes me eager for Starlight to see what's coming next.

Arshad's work is also available at Smashwords.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Indie Book Club love by Raphyel Jordan

My new blogging/book club friend Raphyel wrote a post today about this blog and the Indie Book Club on Goodreads.  It was a very flattering post and I'm happy to know that my efforts are making a difference to some authors out in the wide world of indie publishing.  Stop by the blog and say hi, you may also want to check out some of his art as he does do some commission pieces if you are looking for a cover or something else artisty.

Check out his post here.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Review of The Goblin Rebellion by Rex Jameson

Five years after the Uldram catastrophe, the elf Routan sits in a shattered home filled with the faded memories of his murdered children. King Elandril has done nothing to bring Lucifer and the demons to justice, and despite the assurances of the government, Routan remains convinced that the Elven Realm is in grave danger. Assistance comes from the creator of the Order Primal, and together, he and Routan will shake the foundations of the multiverse.

4 stars

The Goblin Rebellion is the second book in Rex Jameson's Primal Patterns series.  Taking place following the events of Lucifer's Odyssey where the realms are preparing for war.  Jehovah is preparing his invasion while Lucifer is trying to improve the lives of his people.

There was a bit of a gap between me reading the first book and this one so it took me some time to get things figured out again.  That being said after I got back into the story I enjoyed this one a bit more than the first book.  I felt that certain aspects were explained a bit better leading to a greater understanding of the universe the story takes place in.  I still enjoy the majority of the characters and their interactions.  There is a whole lot of action that takes place in this book including battles featuring giant mechanical battle suits vs the demons with their indestructible wings.

If you enjoyed Lucifer's Odyssey this book is definitely something for you to check out, and I've found out that at the end of August it will be made free for an undisclosed amount of time.  That will be a great time to discover a new series.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A guest post with Sandra Brannan

Sandra Brannan debuted as an author in 2010 with In the Belly of Jonah, the first installment of her acclaimed Liv Bergen mystery series. The novel was chosen as an Indie Next List Notable by independent bookstores and librarians across the country and went into a second printing just one month after its release.

Sandra’s success in the literary world led to her being named one of the top 25 most fabulous women by Black Hills Magazine. In 2011, the e-book version of In The Belly of Jonah landed Brannan on the top 100 mysteries list nationally.

Much like her character Liv Bergen, Sandra has spent her career in the mining industry. Working her way up from day laborer in the company her grandfather founded to a top executive in the family business wasn’t easy, as Sandra often received threats from those opposed to mining. These life experiences gave her a first-person perspective into the high-stakes scenarios of which she writes.

Sandra was raised the seventh of nine children in a loving home not far from Rapid City, South Dakota. After living in Colorado (the setting for In the Belly of Jonah), Wyoming, Washington D.C. and Washington state, Sandra returned to her hometown where she lives with her husband. Their budding family consists of four boys and three grandchildren.

The second book in her mystery-thriller series, Lot’s Return to Sodom, released June 1, 2011 and revolves around the legendary Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota. Picking up right where Lot’s left off, Sandra releases Widow’s Might on August 7, 2012. She’ll follow those with Noah’s Rainy Day in 2014.

How Do You Think Up This Stuff?

After reading In The Belly Of Jonah, one woman asked, “What kind of mind comes up with these things?”  I wasn’t sure how to answer, other than “Mine?”  I know my stories are kind of creepy and have really twisted concepts in them.  Believe it or not, I had a near fairy book childhood.  My parents didn’t hate me.  My siblings didn’t torture me.  My friends never abandoned me.  And fast forward to today, my husband doesn’t abuse me and my kids don’t terrorize me.  I have a lovely family, my boys and grandkids truly life’s treasures, and a husband I adore.  I had a beautiful childhood, a picture perfect family life filled with structure and freedom, faith and inquisitions, playtime and hard work, individuality and community.  

Yet from the time I was a child, I was rigging up pulley systems to transport my crafted ghosts from tree to tree to terrorize my parents’ dinner guests, fascinated to find critters that wriggled and squirmed beneath rocks, and despite the nuns’ counseling to the contrary, conducted secret séances and consulted a Ouija board with my older, cooler siblings to discover the important facts of life like who had a crush on whom at school and what was Santa going to bring. 

The most relevant hours of my childhood that shaped my me as a writer were those I spent with my siblings in the woods pretending I was a cowboy or an Indian, in our driveway on our bicycles as race car drivers or Evil Kneivels , in our fort or playhouse as an astronaut or a housewife, a priest or a gypsy, or in our sandbox creating villages and moonscapes.  I had no limits on my imagination, thanks to my mom’s encouragement, belief, and most importantly, execution in banishing us nine kids to stay outside after school, leaving us to our own devices and forcing us to rely on creativity and imagination.  Possibly the best gift she ever gave me, although there are so many ‘best gifts’ I can hardly keep track.  

As an adult, I spend as much time as I can with my children, grandchildren and in classrooms… and here’s the key… LISTENING to them.  Kids are the most creative, unshackled, limitless thinkers around us.  Tap into their ideas for inspiration!

With a mind for crime solving and headstrong about protecting her family – Liv Bergen finds herself trailing a vengeful killer with a crooked sense of justice

The third Liv Bergen mystery picks up right where the second one left off: the murder of Liv’s future sister-in-law has been solved, but an older rancher has been bludgeoned to death in a style eerily reminiscent of a long-inactive killer known only as the Crooked Man. FBI agent Streeter Pierce, still on assignment in Sturgis, South Dakota, must now turn his sights on tracking down the killer—his nemesis from ten years earlier.
Pierce doesn’t complain, though; he’s falling in love with Liv and sets in motion an unconventional plan to recruit her for the FBI’s training camp in Quantico as they work the case together. But is Liv falling for the brilliant, exotic agent Jack Linwood instead?

Once again, Liv’s vast knowledge of the Black Hills of South Dakota—territory made famous by the gold rush that followed General George Custer’s expedition—and the novel folk who live there leads her to unearth critical clues about the Crooked Man. But are facts enough to safeguard Liv’s sister Elizabeth and her friend, an elderly woman battling cancer who was attacked just days after her husband was murdered? Will the frail yet feisty widow recover her strength in time to help Liv thwart the Crooked Man’s murderous plans and fatal blows?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Review of The Academy Defenders by T.J. Robinson

Lincoln Thomas thought he was a perfectly normal twelve-year-old … until the night he slowed time to save his mom from a super-powered assassin. He learns he and his parents are part of a secret society known as the Guardians, real-life superheroes sworn to protect the world’s most important people. As the newest Guardian in the family, Lincoln is sent to the Atlas Academy to learn how to control his new powers.

Between making new friends, battling bullies and mythical creatures, and trying to survive the academy’s combat training program, Lincoln discovers someone is plotting against the Guardians—and whoever it is, they’re getting help from the inside. It’s up to Lincoln and his friends to unmask the traitor, but before they can, an army of rogue Guardians attacks the academy.

Not all Guardians are good, and Lincoln is about to find out just how bad they can be.

5 stars

The Academy Defenders tells the story of Lincoln Thomas, a 12 year old who just doesn't quite fit in.  After getting into a fight at school he is sitting in the office when news comes that he has a family emergency and must go home immediately.  Receiving the news that his grandfather has passed away begins his journey into a world that he can barely believe is possible.

His mother takes him into a secret room in their house and reveals that his family is part of the group known as the Guardians.  This group has existed since Ancient Egypt protecting the people the deserve their protection.  In order to allow them to their jobs they use special powers that give them an amazing range of abilities.  Lincoln's journey starts when he manifests a power while his mother is in danger making it necessary for him to be trained at The Academy.  Thanks to his new friends Lincoln is able to fit in at The Academy fairly quickly.

 I really enjoyed this book immensely.  A lot of the YA stuff I have been reading lately has ended disappointing me with either themes that I thought were a bit to adult for the intended audience or just a general weakness.  This book did not have either issue.  I really liked the characters and the way that Lincoln has a strong supporting cast.  There are some comedic moments and there is even a bit of a developing relationship, but it is kept at a good level considering the characters are 12-13 years old.

If you are a fan of YA fantasy or have a child/niece/nephew/whatever who is pick up a copy of this book.  It is not a decision that you will regret.

Pick up your copy of Amazon today!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Deadly Games by Lindsay Buroker review

When you’ve been accused of kidnapping an emperor, and every enforcer in the city wants your head, it’s hard to prove yourself an honorable person and even harder to earn an imperial pardon.

That doesn’t keep Amaranthe Lokdon and her team of outlaws from trying. When athletes start disappearing from the Imperial Games, they may finally have an opportunity to show the emperor that they’re on his side. If she and her comrades can get to the bottom of such a public mystery, they’re sure to get the credit.

But plans go awry when Amaranthe’s own men start plotting against each other, the new ally she’d hoped to acquire tries to turn her in, and her best fighter—and closest friend—disappears.

Maybe getting involved wasn’t such a good idea after all…

5 stars

Deadly Games by Lindsay Buroker is the third chapter in The Emperor's Edge series.  The whole gang is back once again, but this time to focus is more on Basilard.  There is also some development in the relationship between Sicarius and Amaranthe.  In Dark Currents we were shown some info about a job that Sicarius did in his past that greatly affected Basilard's people.  Now that Basilard knows what Sicarius did he must decide if he is the one to avenge the grievous harm that was done to his people.  Already an outcast due to his time as a pitfighting slave, he knows that he is the only one who can seek revenge.  While Basilard is sorting through his conflict the team has their own difficulty to solve.  The Imperial games are being held and some of the athletes are starting to disappear.  In order to get an idea of what is going on Basilard enters the games.  As a bonus if he wins he will get to have dinner with the Emperor and bring attention to the plight of his people in slavery.

Lindsay continues to write fantastic stories.  Her characters continue to come life as she gradually reveals more about them.  The biggest downfall of the story is the end.  There is a pretty big twist thrown in and now I am way too eager to read the next installment.

Lindsay's stuff is also available over at Smashwords.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Review of A Kingdom's Fall: The Light of Epertase - Book Two by Douglas R. Brown with a giveaway!!

That which survives the initial assault may yet die from the infection left behind.

In the destroyed country of Lithia, the former Gildonese leader of the Lowlands, King Fice, has violently assumed the throne, filling the void left by the Tek destruction of the country. His unnatural powers of sway have become more potent and his influence is far-reaching.

The Tek invasion has also left a void within the kingdom of Epertase. The war has tested the once-great people and, with the venomous words of men Queen Alina considers friends, Epertase descends into revolution. Alina barely escapes with her life.

Once again, the kingdom needs a savior.

And once again Rasi will be forced to unleash the darker part of himself in order to save the woman he loves.

All is not what it seems. Victory may still mean defeat. The war for Epertase has only begun.

As a quick note Epertase Book I will be free on Amazon from Aug 1 to Aug 5 so it's a great chance to pick up a copy and see if the series is for you!!

5 stars

This review is based off of an ARC copy I received through the publisher for review.  Also if you haven't read the first book this review could contain spoilers for you, so be warned.

This book is one that I have been looking forward to since I finished reading the first almost a year ago.  Since I didn't reread the first book before diving into this one it did take me a couple of chapters to re-immerse myself into the world that Doug has created, but once I went under there was no coming back up.

The beginning of the book has some brutal turns as deals made in order to fight off the Teks are coming back to bite the Princess.  The Gildonese King, Fice, has taken land that should not belong to him and is making a move to oust the rightful rulers of Epertase as well.  His ability to sway the minds of those near him seems to be unnaturally potent even for one of his race.  When those that are most trusted by Alina begin to turn against her she must reunite with Rasi in order to save her kingdom from the dominion of those who wish her nothing but harm.

Once again in his writing Doug manages to completely absorb the reader into a world of complex political machinations, violent combat sequences, and the struggle of normal people to survive.  Rasi is a man whose life is defined by violence who wants nothing more than to become a peaceful farmer, taking care of his parents.  His amazing abilities combined with the unique straps he bears however give him alone the ability to challenge King Fice with any hope of victory.  Simcane has also returned using his special skills to aid Alina in her survival while her kingdom is taken from her.

Honestly this is a just a great series for fans on fantasy, and to celebrate the release Doug is holding a raffle to win a copy of Tamed and a $50 Amazon gift card.  Enter below and good luck.

a Rafflecopter giveaway