Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Review - Sagaria by John Dahlgren

Set in the mysterious world of Sagaria, this enchanting tale of adventure and friendship will charm teens and adults alike and is the latest novel in the Sagaria Legends series.

When young Sagandran Sacks learns from Grandpa Melwin of a portal that leads from an abandoned forest well to the magical world of Sagaria, he doesn’t know whether to believe it or simply dismiss it as another of his grandfather’s tall tales. But when Grandpa Melwin is suddenly seized during the night, all clues point to that well in the forest.

Hot on the trail of his grandfather, Sagandran finds himself transported into Sagaria, which is indeed every bit as wondrous as Grandpa Melwin had described. But it is a world under threat. Before he knows it, Sagandran is tasked with saving not only his grandfather, but the whole world – or, rather, three worlds – for, once the fearsome Shadow Master has both the Shadow World and Sagaria in his thrall, he plans to extend his conquest to the Earthworld…

Enthralling and imaginative, with characters that will delight readers of all ages, this charming novel is set in the world of Sagaria and follows The Tides of Avarice, John Dahlgren’s first book in the Sagaria Legends series.

4 stars

Saragia by John Dahlgren is a true epic fantasy following the footsteps of Tolkien's LotR series.  There is a quest of dire importance, an eclectic band of travelers, wizards, monsters, magic, relics, everything you need.  The biggest difference is that this book is great for younger readers.  The two main characters are younger teens one of them from our realm and the other is from Sagaria.  The challenges that the two teens face rely on quick thinking and reflexes as much as violence and aggression contributing to a younger readers potential enjoyment of the book.

There is a wide assortment of characters in this book with my favorite being Sir Tombin the frog knight.  Such an interesting backstory led to his creation and his adherence to a strict code of chivalry make him quite an entertaining guy to read about.  The plot was strong with an evil magician trying to gain control over three crystals that would grant him almost unlimited power.  Sagandran Sacks, the young man from Earth, has one of the crystals while he wants nothing more than to save his kidnapped grandfather he is pulled into a whole lot more.

I have his second book from the world of Sagaria and look forward to reading it to see where else he goes with this.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Guest post with John Dahlgren author of The Tides of Avarice

When did you decide to become a writer?

Well, to start, I’ve always wanted to write (as long as I can remember). I grew up in Sweden where I was influenced at an early age by the Scandinavian mythology, Fairy-tales and Nordic sagas. Fantasy is for me perhaps the most fascinating form of literature as it carries with it a limitless quality where you can change the everyday world into something magical. There are of course certain rules that even fantasy novels have to obey as I learned when I studied creative and fiction writing at Oxford: it has to make sense. As Mark Twain once said: The difference between fiction and reality is that fiction has to make sense.

What was your route to Indie authoring?

As a psychologist I started writing for a Swedish magazine and published several non-fiction scientific articles. However, I always longed for writing the kind of books that I adored: Fantasy.

In my case I’ve always liked anthropomorphic stories. It’s a delight to apply human thought and reasoning abilities to an animal (or even an inanimate object).

What served as your inspiration for your Sagaria books?

I got the inspiration for the trilogy Sagaria many years ago (pre-Harry Potter) when I was in Sweden. I was out walking in the ancient woods with my dog when I saw an abandoned forest well. Since I was reading a lot of fantasy at the time, I simply couldn’t resist fantasizing about a gate or a portal leading to a parallel world or fantasy realm from that well. On the way back, the basis for the story was shaping up in my head, and when I saw a frog and later on a cute squirrel chewing on an acorn, little Flip and Sir Tombin Quackford were born. After that, the other characters just presented themselves.

As for the second book The Tides of Avarice – A Sagaria Legend, I’ve always been a pirate fan ever since reading Treasure Island. Pirates are fascinating and carry with them the same everlasting popularity like westerns and science fiction. I think it has to do with the freedom of simply weighing the anchor and setting sail toward any place you want with unexpected adventures, perilous quests and romances waiting.


It's something all pirates are taught when they're very young, but too many forget: never get on the wrong side of a librarian. Especially if the librarian is a lemming!

Sylvester Lemmington used to read about cannibals, impenetrable jungles, lethal carnivores, mysterious fortune-teller, voodoo magic, cutthroat pirates, shipwrecks, mutinies, spaceships and much else in his books, but he never thought he'd encounter them for real. Can Sylvester save his sweetheart, Viola, her tough-as-nails mom and the other friends he's acquired along the way? Can he find his long-lost father, rescue his hometown of Foxglove from the murderous rule of its ruthless mayor and discover true happiness? Oh, did we mention that Sylvester has mistakenly received the most sought after treasure map ever? This means he also has to escape from the cruelest and craziest pirate captain who ever sailed the seas of Sagaria - the horrifying Cap'n Terrigan Rustbane who will stop at nothing to get his map back! A map that leads to a treasure beyond the wildest dreams of avarice. It's kind of a tall order, but then, Sylvester is a librarian..and a lemming.

About John Dahlgren

Born in Sweden, John Dahlgren grew up close to the vast and untamed landscapes of Scandinavia and was influenced from an early age by the Nordic sagas, fairy tales and mythologies. This enchanting environment triggered his imagination and later inspired him to become a fiction writer.

He went on to study creative and fiction writing at Oxford University and competed in the school’s short story contests each year.

As a trained psychologist and member of the Swiss Psychologist Federation, Dahlgren began writing nonfiction articles for numerous scientific journals and a Swedish magazine. But his passion was fiction, and so he debuted as a novelist in 2011 with the young adult story The Tides of Avarice, a finalist for best Fiction/Fantasy in the International Book Awards and Silver Medal winner in ForeWord’s Book of the Year Awards. He released months later a second YA fantasy novel, Sagaria, and is currently engaged in several book projects for both younger readers and adults.

Dahlgren lives now in Neuch√Ętel, Switzerland with his wife and two children, where he’s worked for the past twelve years as a marketing director at an international pharmaceutical company.

Pick up a copy from Amazon now.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Big Giveaway from the Crossover Alliance

I was recently informed by David Alderman, a regularly featured author here, that his group The Crossover Alliance was having a pretty impressive giveaway.  He asked if I would be willing to share some info and since I never have an issue letting people know how to score some free stuff I was happy to help.

For all the details check out the actual post on The Crossover Alliance, and here is the Rafflecopter Widget so you can sign up.

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Monday, January 14, 2013

Guest post with Scott Carpenter author of This Jealous Earth

“Generating Genre”
Scott Dominic Carpenter

“What kind of writing do you do?”

That’s the most common question I get, and I hate it. I know where it’s headed. When I reply that I write novels and short stories, it leads to the follow-up: “Oh, really? What kind of novels and short stories?”

The question about kind is not a kind one. The questioner seeks to put you in a box, to imprison your writing in a cell, to separate it from others types of literature. In short, the question implies the presence of genre, a word whose Latin root genus (“type” or “kind”), brings us close to the realm of biology, where creatures of different species or genera cannot interbreed without producing sterile monsters.

You can see why I flinch at the question.

Truth is, literary genres confuse me. We know the names: Romance, Humor, Chic Lit, Suspense, Fantasy, Science Fiction. These and other creatures scurry about the literary pantheon like lesser deities, kneeling before the altar of the august figure known as Literary Fiction, a.k.a. Serious Literature—the non-genre genre, the ungendered gender, the genre that generates all others.

My most recent book, This Jealous Earth (MG Press, slated to appear in January) is a collection of stories that belong, purportedly, to Serious Literature. But some of the stories bubble with humor (or so it seems to me), and others crackle with romance. A couple of them make detours into interior realms that can only be described as fantasy. I also have a novel coming out, Theory of Remainders, which draws considerably on the tools of suspense.

This blending of so-called genres ought not to surprise anyone. After all, our lives don’t respect the separation of genres: romance, humor, horror and suspense all bleed together in our everyday occupations. And, in fact, the careful sorting of literary beans into different cups is a relatively new phenomenon. An author like Edgar Allen Poe invented the mystery single-handed; at the same time he wrote ghost stories and science fiction and fantasy and lyric poetry. Yet this literary colossus has lost his footing over the decades, eroded by the rising tide of genre.

Words once used as helpful labels have become targets to strive for. Amazon’s advanced search places each title within genres (they call them “subjects,” but don’t be fooled), one of which is selected to serve as the sole home for every book in their sprawling collection. Publishers reinforce the tradition, optioning new titles for their target markets, in a process that wears the groove deeper and deeper, turning it into a full-fledged rut.

Is there any way out? Happily, yes. Readers can support books that break out of the straitjacket of genre. And they can locate such titles in the happy gaps between the cogs of the publishing industry—such as in independent blogs by booklovers. Such as the one you are currently reading.


Scott Dominic Carpenter’s website is located at www.sdcarpenter.com.

This Jealous Earth is available in print and eBook formats from MG Press. Shop now (http://midwestgothic.com/2011/01/this-jealous-earth-by-scott-dominic-carpenter/).

Review - Decoy by S.B. Sebrick

What prize is worth forty years of your life?

Success or blood-filled failure hangs on seventeen-year-old Kaltor’s answer. The demon, Melshek, outmatches him at every conflict within the city of Shaylis. He possesses countless victims faster than any disease can spread. In a bitter twist of fate, they are forced to help enslave or kill those they cherish most.

Kaltor must reach beyond his assassin training to find the power to defeat this foe. But drawing additional strength from an ancient family secret, and even trading away half his life to amplify his powers, might not be enough to stop the demon.

Their fates are decided in a desperate duel of hardened steel against demonic claws. Kaltor must stop the demon before he spreads any further. If not, the city, the country, and then the world, succumbs to Melshek’s will.

4 stars

What's not to love in a fantasy book about assassins?  I read the blurb and was very excited to check this one out and extremely psyched to see there were several books in the series available so if I liked it I could go straight through.

The main character, Kaltor, starts off in mortal danger and Sebrick uses it to introduce some of the special abilities that the assassins harness.  It is also revealed that Kaltor must hide his true abilities from all of the others in the area or give away a major secret.

There were some parts that I wish I had a little bit more info about certain aspects of this book, but as the story unfolds more and more questions get answered.  The story unfolds well with some interesting enemies coming to the front and a way for the special skills of assassins to be especially useful in the combat.  There were also some fairly strong secondary characters in Kaltor's friends and family.

This is a series that I am interested in following to see what Sebrick will bring out next.

Pick up your copy on Amazon.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Review - Brittle Bonds by Dean Murray

Va'del has saved his people for the second time in as many months. This time he's determined to take what is rightfully his and marry Jain, but not everyone is happy with his accomplishments. Old enemies are preparing to see to it that Va'del and Jain never return home.

The coming treachery will do more than threaten Va'del and Jain's lives. It will test their devotion to each other and start them down a path that could lead to the overthrow of an entire civilization.

4 stars

Brittle Bonds by Dean Murray continues the tale of Va'del.  The Guadel have a long journey back up the mountain ahead of them and Va'del has some rather disturbing theories.  Finding out that all is not right at home Va'del and Jain must travel back down the mountain and try to blend in a local village until the weather warms up and they can try to do something to help out at home.

It has been awhile since I read any of the Guadel books so it took me a bit to get back into the flow of things.  That being said it really wasn't difficult to merge back into the world that Dean has created.  I also really enjoy how much Va'del has changed over the course of the three books.  Through all of the hardships he has faced there has been some real personal growth and Jain has been there helping and maturing along with him.

This book has Va'del and Jain helping to rescue a group of women who can use magic like the Guadel women, but are kept as slaves by the empire where they live.  The variances in perspective are very interesting in this book.  To see the priests who are in charge of oppressing the gifted women doing what they do with the full belief that it is the proper thing to do really shows how warped of a world view people can have if the don't challenge things.  Even when a priest doesn't believe in being as harsh as some others, he still believes in the rhetoric with all of his being.

Jain and Va'del coming in with a different worldview allows them to see how terrible the system really is and give them the strength to fight.  There are some interesting revelations throughout this book and Va'del continues to learn new skills that will hopefully prove how special he really is to his own people.

I hope that wait for book four is a bit shorter than the wait for book three was as I'm extremely curious of what's next for the two wanderers.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Review - Fighting the Forgiven by Jarrah Loh

Cageside Chronicles: Tommy Knuckles Trilogy: Book 2

The fiction book series that UFC & MMA fans have been waiting for!

The story continues as Tommy Knuckles travels to beautiful Brazil in an incredible journey to fight the ghosts of his trainer’s past. As secrets are unveiled, he’ll discover new friends, amazing adventures, and come face to face with the rival of a lifetime.

5 stars

Tommy has moved from his small town and Mexico and established himself on the regional MMA circuit.  Now it's time for him to step up in competition and fight in the UCF.  When his second fight is to take place in Brazil he travels down early to spend time with his Vegas trainer's family and learn BJJ from a very respected dojo.

This was another great book in the saga of Tommy Knuckles.  I really enjoyed the character growth that Tommy displays as he lives and learns in Brazil.  His adversary, Diego, is also an interesting character.  I could see myself despising him and rooting against him with everything I had were he a real fighter.  Which probably means he would be wildly popular with everyone else.

Jarrah continues to use his intimate knowledge of MMA to believable characters, training, and fights that can appeal to a much wider audience than just MMA fans.  I have already read the third book in the series and this may be the fastest I have gone through a series in a long time.

Pick up your copy on Amazon or get the first book in the series on Amazon here.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Review - The Bane of the Liche Lord by D.P. Prior

All hell has broken loose in the Forest of Tar. Thousands of demonic Feeders consume everything in their path, but top of the menu is dwarf flesh.

Nils has been captured by the Liche Lord Otto Blightey but would sooner be dead, and Nameless is on the run, carrying a warning of doom to the last of his people.

As the Liche Lord and his horde of Feeders relentlessly pursue him, there is little time for Nameless to settle old scores, mend bridges, and pray that the survivors of his butchery at Arx Gravis can forgive him just enough for him to save them.

Only problem is, he’s not sure he has the strength or the courage for the task.

With the sentient Axe of the Dwarf Lords as petrified as everyone else, the last hope of the dwarves lies in the hands of a shapeshifting assassin with a reputation for self-preservation at all costs.

5 stars

Bane of the Liche Lord is the 5th and final installment in the Chronicles of the Nameless Dwarf.  Still trying to earn a measure of redemption for the terrible acts he committed while under the influence of a dark axe Nameless is trying to save the remainder of his people from the hazards of Qlippoth as well as the liche Otto Blightey.

This series has improved with every consecutive story.  In my opinion this is the strongest of the series by far.  It reveals a lot more about Nameless and his past as well as some of the history of the dwarves in general.  Chronicles of the Nameless Dwarf is a series worth checking out for any fan of epic fantasy.  The series is also available in a single collection for a better price.

D.P. Prior is definitely emerging as a standout author in new wave of self publishing.  You won't be sorry for checking out one of his stories.

Get this final installment on Amazon or pick up the entire series in The Nameless Dwarf Complete Collection.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Review - Fighting the Storm by Jarrah Loh

The young adult fiction series for the warrior at heart.

Exactly what UFC & MMA fans have been waiting for!

The saga begins with the lonely Mexican teenager, Tommy, who's been beaten up his whole life. But when ghosts emerge from his dead father's boxing past, a new world of adventure, love and pain awaits as he learns to fight his way across the border to his father's homeland, and into the famed cages of Las Vegas.

Tommy lowered his head again. "I'm not a fighter," he said. "Maybe you are, maybe you ain't," shrugged the man. "Maybe you just don't know it yet."

5 stars

First off a little disclaimer, I love MMA.  I watch as much as I can including the smaller regional stuff that I can find.  That being said this book was right up my alley.  The book starts off showing Tommy getting beaten up my some local toughs in his small town in Mexico.  Furthering revelations show that though Tommy's father was a fighter he died a few years back and his mother doesn't want Tommy to have anything to do with fighting.  As often fighting happens, Tommy ignores his mother and stops by his Uncle's gym to see a famous boxer who is returning to his roots to scout some talent.

Tommy is taken in by Sonny, an old friend of his dad's and begins to learn to box.  He shows a real talent for everything involved and begins to feel confident about his skills.  When a street fight shows him how limited his boxing really is he decides to come to America to train MMA.

I really enjoyed this book for a lot of reasons.  First off the author, Jarrah Loh, has an impressive background with MMA so the book has a gritty realistic feel.  Second, Tommy is a great character.  While the whole concept of a kid from the wrong side of town growing up to be a fighter isn't really new turf the character is done so well that it feels fresh.  Third, the fights.  The fights are written so that it is easy to visualize everything that is happening inside the ring/cage.  Jarrah also doesn't assume that everyone who reads the book is an expert and makes everything accessible to anyone.

This is a series that I will be finishing for certain and an author that I will watch for more stuff from.

Pick up your copy from Amazon (FREE at time of this review)

Sunday, January 6, 2013

When Forever Died by Mia Darien review

Forever is a long time.

The life of a hunter is a lonely one. Perhaps more for Dakota than others in her line of work. Not only is she better than anyone else at chasing down the things that go bump in the night, but her past chases her with the same tenacity.

She's built walls around her solitary existence and that's the way she likes it, but the past never sleeps. When she's hired to hunt an ex-lover for murder, it's just the first in a string of memories that will bring Dakota's past, present and future into a collision course.

And when she agrees to take on a second case and hunt down an Ancient, a vampire over one thousand years old, it unleashes circumstances onto that collision that will shake the foundation of everything she's built and force her, for the first time in a long while, to look to others.

Can she survive it, like she's survived these past four centuries? Or will the weight of it all finally crush her?

Purchase links: Amazon, Smashwords
Author website: From Mia's Desk

4 stars

When Forever Died is the second book in the Adelheid series.  It primarily focuses on the hunter that was introduced in the first book, Cameron's Law, Dakota.  Even in the world that Mia has developed which has given the recently revealed supernatural beings the same rights as normal people Dakota is a rarity.  She has the ability to take multiple animal forms and can even shift into other human forms.

The best thing about the fact that Dakota is so unique and powerful is that she doesn't miraculously develop new skills that allow her to escape any situation.  That is something that I find fairly often in books and it drives me crazy.  Despite the fact that she has such a greater kind of power than most of the other preternatural citizens she is still flawed and bad things still happen to her.  Another nice aspect of this book is that it works pretty well as a standalone novel.  You can have a greater appreciation for the book if you have read Cameron's Law (and at the time of this review it's free so why wouldn't you?), but this would still be an enjoyable book if you hadn't.

The pacing of the book is done well with some occasional flashbacks to enrich the backstory of the main character.  Since she has been alive for around two thousand years there is a lot of story to cover.

Mia has done an excellent job once again of making her characters into people first and creatures with amazing powers second.  Dakota is haunted by her family past as well as a past relationship in this book and struggles to deal with both them as a normal person would.  There is a hint of romance in this book once again, but it weaves into the story without overpowering or slowing anything down.  This is one of the best paranormal series I have found this year.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Michael Offutt Oculus blog tour stop with giveaway!!!

The Allegorical Element of Oculus

I have a confession. I use allegory. For those of you unfamiliar with allegory, it’s a device in which characters or events represent or symbolize ideas and concepts.

Jordan Pendragon is named thus because in the end, the whole “A Crisis of Two Worlds” is about the prophecy that “The Once and Future King” will someday return. I hope to my readers, that they will be surprised by this because I think I’ve hidden it pretty well.

There are two worlds…one is called Earth and the other is Avalon. Well Avalon in Welsh legend is an island surrounded by mist that separates it from Earth. In my books, Avalon is the world across the skin of the mirror…it’s the thing that stares back at you whenever you gaze into a reflection. But to actually cross over to it is a horse of a different color.

There’s a sword called Caledfwlch which some may recognize as the Welsh name for “Excalibur.” And there’s a reason I use this other name. It’s far less known, and I think, will come with far less baggage than the conventional name. The sword when it’s recovered in the third book, will be a miraculous device, capable of changing shape to whatever its wielder wants. This includes a silver snowboard or a rifle, or even a silver design that wraps itself about the entire arm like a tattoo sleeve from a professional artist.

Do you like it when stories you read have allegorical elements?

To know more about my books, please click on the link below:


Now for the giveaway part of the tour.  There will be six signed copies given away tour wide so good luck everyone!

Autumn has arrived in New York, and Jordan Pendragon attends his first classes as a freshman at Cornell. Born with a brilliant mathematical mind, he balances life as a research assistant with that of a student athlete.

But Jordan also has a quest. He must find the Black Tower, a monolithic edifice housing a thing that defines the very structure of the universe. Jordan believes it is buried somewhere in Antarctica under miles of prehistoric ice.

October finds Jordan earning a starting position with the Cornell hockey team. But a dark cloud gathers over his rookie season. Unexplained deaths, whispers of a cannibal cult, a prophecy, and a stone known only as the Oculus, cast a shadow over his athletic ambitions. It is the start of a terrifying journey down a path of mystery, murder, and to a confrontation with an Evil more ancient than the stars.

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The Seven by Derek Edginton review

Caleb Holden is a facetious, caustic seventeen-year-old teen who doesn't have enough sense to stay down for the count. His story is not of a poster boy for success, but rather of a troubled teen who was forced to grow up fast, lest he fall into oblivion and obscurity. When the amulet he wears around his neck begins to talk, as well as give him lip, his life is thrown for a loop. This sets in motion a series of events that will eventually lead him to his destiny, or a gruesome death. Given the power to alter the darkness that plagues the world, he jumps at the opportunity with little hesitation. As with all his pursuits, Caleb doesn't give up or in until he sees a challenge through to its conclusion.

3.5 stars

The Seven follows the life of Caleb Holden, a young man who has spent the last several years living on the streets.  When Caleb was 12 years old men broke into his parents house and he followed the established family plan and grabbed some money and ran.  He has kept hope alive for 5 years believing that his parents are out somewhere looking for him.

When Caleb gets put into a pretty nice orphanage after getting picked up off the street he decides to stick around for a while.  He meets some people that actually have a chance at becoming friends for him.  Living on the street for so long has given him some pretty major trust issues so that would be a first.  As Caleb is enrolled in the local highschool he starts to learn that everything is not as it seems and trolls and goblins really do exist.  Jas is another kid in school who Caleb forms a bond with and sort of walks him through all of the new discoveries he is making.

The negatives to the story are the dialogue being a bit advanced for most highschool kids and especially one who has spent a good portion of his life on the street.  The other big issue I found was how much time Caleb spent inside his own head.  I don't mean the training exercises he was being taught to do, but he has a very analytical mind and the reader is shown a bit too much of his though processes.  There were times when I thought this slowed the book down a bit.

The good aspects were many and made the book a worthwhile read despite my earlier criticisms.  The powers that were revealed in the book were well done with the specializations and the applications of them.  The Were clans were also an excellent addition to the supernatural cast and they were used in a way that is a bit atypical for shapeshifters.  This is a good read from a young other who shows an amazing amount of promise.

For more info check out the book on Amazon or go to the author's website.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Red Gate by Richard Sutton review

It’s an historically-inspired tale that begins late Summer, 1911 in Western Co. Mayo, Ireland. It begins, oddly enough with an unexplained drowning and a muddy fall. For a traditional Irish farming family, a chain of strange events leads them to uncover ancient buried secrets about themselves and their place in the greater world. As the greed and ambition of an unfolding plan begins to threaten their very lives, what will become of their home and it’s hidden legacy? What will become of their sheep? It's a rousing story of how one family confronts adversity and survives to enjoy another day with help coming from allies they didn't know they had! In these times, people who read will enjoy the change of pace and place and all the comfort that’s in it.

3 stars

The Red Gate begins with the body of a man being discovered.  It then goes back in time a bit and starts to follow a simple Irish family.  When a sinkhole appears in one of the pastures Finn is almost sucked in.  He manages to survive long enough for his father to come find him and take him home.  Upon arrival Finn discovers a strange bead that must have been from the mud around the hole.

When Finn and his father make their normal trip to town to stock up on supplies they find out an archaeologist is around looking at some stone pillars.  They show him the bead and he is so amazed by it he pockets it, telling Finn it's worthless.  What follows is mystery and intrigue as the professor tries to use the bead to further his own ambitions and Finn and his father excavate the hole to find a very strange chamber.

This is a great book for fans of historical fiction, but I found that parts of it drug a bit for me.  The characters are pretty well done though, I really liked Finn and seriously disliked the professor who was trying to take advantage of him.  I will say however that the end really picked up, there is a bit of mystery revealed and I'm very curious to see where the rest of the series ends up.

For more info check out the book on Amazon, or check out the author's homepage.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Lisa's Way by Robert Collins review

Teenager Lisa Herbert lives in the small town of Mountain View on the planet Fairfield. The “Savage Rain” decades earlier shut down the hyperspace gate and isolated her world. A casual remark from her sister gets Lisa to ask a simple question: “If life was better before the ‘Savage Rain,’ why couldn’t it be better again?”

That question starts Lisa on a journey. She reactivates Fairfield’s H-gate and travels to three worlds. Each planet offers her a chance to improve life by hard work, by trade, or by making friends. She relies on her brains, her compassion, and a little sneakiness to solve the problems she faces.

Lisa’s Way presents a heroine more interested in reasoning than fighting, and more concerned with doing good than looking good.

3 stars

Lisa's Way follows a young woman named Lisa.  She lives a pretty good life with her father, but her society pushes women into secondary roles.  The highest she could hope to rise is a teacher.  To Lisa this is totally unacceptable, she has dreams and an impressive intellect that is being wasted.  Her father is an important person and has coddled her a bit allowing her access to the family library which feeds her displeasure with her future role.

One day in the library she finds a book that talks about the portals that have been deactivated for a long time.  In times long past people could travel between worlds opening them up to new experiences and trade.  Learning to use the portal she decides that she is going to go through them and see what lies beyond.  Thus starts the biggest adventure anyone has had in hundreds of years...

The book has a good solid feel to it.  Lisa is a good character that it is easy to relate to.  She just feels that her dreams cannot be realized without significant change, so she sets out to change them.  The biggest issue with her is her lack of change through the book.  Despite having tasks she is set to accomplish at each stop on her journey, she never really runs up against any seemingly insurmountable odds.  What she needs to happen generally happens with a brief conversation and maybe a little trickery.

The worlds she visits are all relatively similar to her own, each with their own series of problems that can be traced back to when the portals were shutdown.  There are some good people that she meets along the journey that do add to the depth of the story.  Overall I think the book was decent and the premise solid, but the lack of any real twists to the story limited my enjoyment level a little bit.  Still this is a good book for a younger audience to show the value of determination is overcoming obstacles.

Pick up a copy on Amazon, Smashwords or get more info go to the author's blog.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Draykon by Charlotte English review

When shy and retiring Llandry Sanfaer discovers a mesmerising new gemstone, she suddenly becomes the most famous jeweller across the Seven Realms. Demand for the coveted stone escalates fast; when people begin dying for it, Llandry finds that she herself has become a target.

Lady Evastany Glostrum has her life in pristine order. Prestigious, powerful and wealthy, she is on the verge of crowning her successes with the perfect marriage. But when her closest friend is murdered for the jewellery she wears, Eva is drawn into the mystery surrounding the curious "istore" gem.

The emergence of the stone is causing chaos across the Seven. Gates between the worlds are opening at will, pulling hordes of creatures through from the shadowy Lower Realm and the glittering Uppers. As Eva works to discover the culprit behind the spreading disorder, Llandry must learn the truth about her precious istore stone - before she herself becomes a victim.

4 stars

Draykon tells the story of Llandry, a talented jeweler who has some pretty extreme social anxiety.  While wandering through the forest one day she discovers a cavern filled with a wondrous new stone.  She calls it "istore" and begins to set the stones into her jewelry fixtures.  Their popularity explodes and everything is going great until her customers start to turn up dead.

I really enjoyed Charlotte's writing style and her unique world.  The seven realms were a bit confusing a first, but as I read more I was able to understand them much better.  The races she introduced had some very interesting properties as well.  As the tale follows Llandry she explores some of the other realms and discovers some secrets about her past, which really helps add some depth to her character.  Since Llandry has such limited social interaction her character doesn't develop as most do.  I may have related to her a little bit more than most since I have some social anxiety issues myself.

This is a series that I will be following for sure and I'll keep an eye out for anything else that Charlotte writes.

Check out her books on Amazon, Smashwords, and her webpage.