The Dragon Shifters at Southgate

The Dragon Shifters at Southgate: Book Two of the Seers Series by [Leclerc, Sherry]

The Dragon Shifters at Southgate is the second book in The Seers series. It opens with the protagonist, Talwyn, fleeing for her life. At only eight years old she is still considered a baby by her people, who live for hundreds of years. Hidden under a rock by her mother, Talwyn evades detection, but emerges from her hiding place without a home or a family to return to. Three hundred years later and Talwyn is still haunted by the memories of that tragic day. Moreover, as a Seer she has now been having visions of an even more bleak future.

The world is laced with what Talwyn calls “ley lines”. Lines that form a diamond shape and surge with powerful energy that sorcerers can harness. Where the lines meet, a sorcerer’s power would grow even stronger, and this location is called the Source. Talwyn relays the history of the battles fought over the Source and the great powers it grants. This rich backstory is what kept me turning pages. It’s intricate and intriguing but leaves room for your imagination to wander. A powerful sorcerer by the name of Anceannmor discovered the nature of the Source and that when the planets align just right, the Source has unprecedented effects. In this case, it granted Anceannmor a great boon. The sorcerer opened a gate to another realm and let the demons of that realm roam free in the world. I enjoyed the balance of power in this world, things were believable (as much as they can be in an epic fantasy novel) but was still fascinating.

Talwyn explains how the gate was closed and that keystones were crafted and distributed all over the realm along the ley lines. However, if the keystones are united and the celestial alignment is just as it was when Anceannmor initially open the gate, the gate would open once more. The pace of the novel picks up quickly and rarely lets up. I enjoyed the balance between story telling and action. Champions such as Talwyn have sworn to protect the keystones, but as the very same celestial alignment draws near Talwyn and the other Seers having been having worrying visions of the future. Thus, Talwyn takes it upon herself in a race against time to find and warn other people who also protect their keystones: the elusive dragonkin.

Talwyn must gain access to this closed community who are equally as devasted by the actions of Anceannmor, and equally cautious of outsiders. The story follows Talwyn’s journey to visit the dragonkin, and in particular to win the trust Dreyken the Dragon Lord. But Talwyn’s duties as a champion and protector of the realm often conflict with her wants and needs, as she struggles to live in the aftermath of Anceannmor’s tyranny. Anyone familiar with The Elder Scrolls series will feel right at home in the myth and legend built around the people and world.

The Dragon Shifters at Southgate is Sherry Leclerc’s seconds book in The Seers series and is a fantastic follow up to the previous book. The world is so rich with lore that one constantly feels welcomed back to the novel by its secret forest or the mountainous caverns of the dragonkin. The high-fantasy of this novel adds an interesting abstraction to the very real feelings of loneliness that an individual may face in the aftermath of hardship and war. For this reason, I give the book a four out of five for its intricate plot and the realism that sits at the heart of the fantasy.

Pages: 425 | ASIN: B07LC437FY

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Consuming Love: The Joy of Sharing Meals

Consuming Love: The Joy of Sharing Meals by [O'Malley, Timi]

Consuming Love: The Joy of Sharing Meals, by Timi O’Malley, is a fascinating journey through the author’s life. O’Malley brings her readers to her table where she fulfills their need to be nourished in more ways than one, and it is at that table where the author invites her readers into more diverse chapters of her life.

Connecting her love of culinary traditions with her belief that we are all connected through our purest and most basic needs, O’Malley makes it very easy to understand just how easy it is to achieve true happiness. Consuming Love sends a message of love and togetherness, but more importantly, it teaches us how we can find genuine satisfaction and fulfillment by just noticing the world around us, and by being consciously present within it. O’Malley masterfully intertwines her love of food with her experience to paint a wonderfully meaningful picture for her readers.

The people you will meet along O’Malley’s journey are incredible, but it is in O’Malley’s reaction to the personalities around her that seem even more so. She has deep respect for the people that have had an impact on her life, whether those people created positive experiences or negative. In fact, her reaction to everyone that she has shared meals with have one thing in common, and that commonality is a large part of what makes Consuming Love: The Joy of Sharing Meals so special. Everyone, it would seem, is a teacher, and over a plate of delicious cuisine is one of the best ways to be truly present with the people who pass through our lives.

For anyone who wonders about the nature of happiness and why some people are better at maintaining it than others, this book is a must read. Those interested in hearing of adventures across the country and into the far reaches of the globe would also be interested in this book. And for anyone who would like to gain a better understanding of the value of presence in our lives, Consuming Love: The Joy of Sharing Meals might just be the book you’ve been looking for. Timi O’Malley certainly deserves the full five stars for her offering to the table of life.

Pages: 150 | ASIN: B07L3Q91CG

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Ain’t No Messiah

Ain't No Messiah: A Novel (Tales of the Blessed and Broken Book 1) by [Tullius, Mark]

Ain’t No Messiah by Mark Tullius is a dark and intriguing novel about the life of Joshua Campbell. Set in the United States, it’s a tale of his life, from birth to adulthood. Significant family members such as his mother, father and brother walk some of his journey with him as well as childhood friends that reappear in early adulthood. Estranged family members are in his mind all the while and readers meet them briefly as he tries to connect with them.

Having almost died at birth, Joshua’s father labelled him the messiah. His father continues to use this label throughout Joshua’s unusual life; citing near death experiences as miracles. His father publishes books about him and fashions a new church and business on the miracles of the messiah. Despite calling him the messiah, he  verbally and emotionally abuses and neglects him on a regular basis. Joshua consistently refuses to believe he is the messiah and begins to rebel against his father’s rules. Eventually, at 17 he decides to run away, and experiences the world in a new light, but finds he still can’t shake the title of Messiah.

As the story progresses it is unclear whether he seeks out trouble, or trouble seeks him out, and this grey area is what kept me engaged throughout the story. Joshua is dragged into a world of sex and drugs, but he still has to run from his label as the messiah and his tyrannical father. As Joshua is pulled deeper into this world it becomes unclear who he can trust and things turn into a life and death situation. This reminded me of how Stephen King sets up his stories to deliver poignant ideas through simple prose.

Ain’t No Messiah kept me engrossed until the very end. As I read I kept questioning whether Joshua would break free forever from his father, or if he would be tempted by the life of fame and comparative comfort? At times I questioned his life choices and whether he could trust the people he aligned with. The main characters were well developed and believable. However, I felt there were far too many minor characters in the story that kept entering and disappearing. At times it became difficult to keep track of who was who. This detracted from the overall story as I had to pause and try to remember who the character was and why they were important to the story. The transition between flashbacks to past events and present day were clear at the start of the book, however near the end they became less clear which also distracted from the overall continuity. Overall this is an interesting and well written book that delivers a thought provoking message by putting a fascinating character in evocative situations that beg one to reflect on the choices we all make in life.

Pages: 326 | ASIN: B07KCQ8P17

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The Contest and Other Stories

The Contest and Other Stories by [DiBuduo, Joe, Robinson, Kate]

The Contest and Other Stories by Joe Dibuduo and Kate Robinson is an amazing book about finding yourself and doing what you love. The book has some amazing and inspiring stories such as one that introduces a man named Peter. A banker who longs to have a career in art and the approval of his uptight father. He may get the chance with an untimely death in the family that will send him on a journey of self-discovery. There are also stories that tie into the main story. One, in particular, is about Vincent van Gough and the struggles he had to overcome to become the artist we know today. This book examines the struggles, trials, and accomplishments we all face and delivers a positive message that no matter what life throws at you, you have to make yourself happy. Don’t let what someone else thinks or feels about you matter because at the end of the day it’s about what you think or feel about yourself.

The Contest and Other Stories written by Joe Dibuduo and Kate Robinson is very inspirational and heartwarming. I love how the writers captured the struggles that each individual character went through, the longing for approval and acceptance of others and their fears of the unknown. I felt that the layout of the book could have a better structure. One moment I was reading one story and then the book jumps into another. Without some orientation, this can be a little jarring. One example of this is in The Contest; there is a painting of Van Gogh that was used in the contest and then immediately we go into a story about Van Gogh.

After each chapter the authors leave you with a cliffhanger that makes you want to keep reading. Even though this book jumps back and forth between stories, it’s a minor quibble, and I find this book worthwhile in all aspects. I would recommend this book to anyone that feels like they aren’t good enough or feel like they need some encouraging words. This is an engaging and entertaining read that will leave you with a positive feeling.

Pages: 250 | ASIN: B07HY21GKS

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The Endowment of Isaac Frey

The Endowment of Isaac Frey by Val Wilson

The Endowment of Isaac Frey

The Endowment of Isaac Frey by Val Wilson is a historical fiction story about a haunted old house in Coventry, England, and the family who occupies the house. The book starts in 1920 with John Weir and his friend, Albert Parry hunting for a legendary priest hole tunnel exit on the grounds of John’s family home, The Old House, a residence filled with tragedy and ghosts. The story spans several decades as the friends grow older and World War II separates them for a time, then brings them back together. Before going off to war to join Albert, John marries Annie Goodwin, a local girl who has returned to Coventry after escaping from an abusive man in London. The first part of the story follows John Weir as a boy and then a man (and later on, his wife, Annie), the current occupants of The Old House. Isaac Frey is introduced into the story after the halfway point. An American G.I. stationed at the base nearby, Captain Isaac Frey begins a relationship with Annie while John is away fighting in the war. But The Old House brings madness to the Weir family… and murder when John learns that he didn’t father Annie’s twins. After the murder of his wife, her children, and her lover, John Weir assumes Isaac Frey’s identity.

I enjoyed the author’s writing style. The vivid descriptions of supernatural events pulled me into the story. The house isn’t just the setting–it’s like another character, albeit creepy and suspenseful. The element of mystery surrounding the house kept me interested in the story all the way through till the end.

I didn’t like the character of Annie Goodwin. She suffered a lot of adversity, but her reaction to it was anger and taking her feelings out on others. I didn’t find her to be a likable character. She seemed to wallow in her misfortune, instead of finding a way to raise above it. Her affair with Isaac leads to her tragic end.

There were some minor issues with typos. And the point of view shifts between characters from one paragraph to the next were a bit distracting. Sometimes the shifts happened in the middle of a paragraph, which made it difficult to keep track of whose head I was supposed to be in. Some of the time jumps were a bit jarring, when something unexpected happened, but then suddenly it was years later without the author showing the previous moment in time playing out. Otherwise, a very entertaining novel.

The Endowment of Isaac Frey by Val Wilson

Tiny Tim and the Ghost of Ebenezer Scrooge – Audiobook


Tiny Tim is all grown up, and everything he loves and holds dear has been ripped from him. Upon the death of his dear friend, Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim begins to question each of his beliefs and the very faith that had been instilled in his family with the love of Scrooge himself years ago. Tim, now an adult, is faced with the loss of another of his dear loves, Becky. As fate would have it, Becky is simultaneously suffering through the most trying time of her young life on the streets with her young son and no place to lay their heads. Just as fate intervened fourteen years ago in the form of Ebenezer Scrooge, fate lays its hand on upon Tim once more.

Norman Whaler has crafted a beautiful tale of faith, hope, and love in his sequel to Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. Tiny Tim and the Ghost of Ebenezer Scrooge – Audiobook details the events surrounding and immediately following the death of an aged Ebenezer Scrooge. Tim Cratchit, once the young crippled boy benefiting from Scrooge’s change of heart in A Christmas Carol, is impacted most of all by Scrooge’s death.

From beginning to end, Whaler’s sequel to the beloved classic pays homage to the original plot and the beautiful transformation made by its key character, Ebenezer Scrooge. Though Tiny Tim, now all grown up, is the title character, he also exhibits a change of heart similar to that of Scrooge. Tim fights a battle within himself as he struggles to regain his faith. Whaler does a phenomenal job of adhering to the feel of the original book with his references to Scrooge’s character transformation. The reader watches as Tim fights a similar battle and, ultimately, wins with Scrooge’s help.

As a fan of the original tale of Scrooge and the Cratchits, I could not help but fall in love with the parallel story line and the magic of three as it again reared its head in Tim’s life. The sound quality and voice over is exceptional in this audiobook and delivers this lovely story in a clear and crisp manner. Scrooge’s reappearance from the afterlife is expected but quite fitting. Whaler has done Dickens proud with this quick read rich with character development and steeped with faith.

Duration: 1 hour 54 minutes | ASIN: B01NAJJLXP

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The Audric Experiment

The Audric Experiment by [Barnes, Patrick]The story of Pierre Morena, a 17-year-old in the year 2328, when England is ruled by something called the Audric who rule society through neural stimulation, either serotonin releases to reward compliance or shocks to punish anti-social behavior, guided by a manifesto called The Financially Prudent World by the Audric prophet, Genesis Smith.

Pierre is the first person in this Brave New World to make it as far as 17 without ever once receiving a shock, earning him the nickname Pure Pierre. And then, after a strange and mysterious incident on the 13th floor of the Library in the Shopping (called the Athenaeum here), Pierre begins to wonder if he’s really as pure as he’s come to think. And he’s not the only one. Pierre is in for the challenge of his life. He’s always thought of himself as virtuous; but what is virtue, he begins to wonder, if it’s never been tested?

He runs into a group called the Gamblers who dress like bikers and quote Nietzsche but worship Grease-era John Travolta. They reject and resist the Audric principles and have their own currency. They want Pure Pierre to endorse their hair product, but he’s not so sure. A Gambler accidentally blows his arm off firing an unauthorized gun when Pierre stops for a Macchiato in a Gambler cafe.

We don’t learn too much about the world, though it seems to resemble a 1970’s version of the future, like you’d see in Logan’s Run or Buck Rodgers or Jack Kirby comics. But the world we are presented with is immensely interesting and beautifully drawn. People take pictures on their phones and ride in solar pods, but they still read print newspapers and play water polo. The water polo match at the beginning, in fact, is a thing of beauty, and it makes you wonder why there aren’t more books about water polo players. The Big Three manufacturers are Little Amore, Generation Gold and Walden Now, and they take at least some of their ideas from the Entrepreneurial Etiquette class where Pierre had been a star pupil, inventing a solar radio inspired by a 20th Century Orangina bottle. This combination makes a unique world that serves as an interesting backdrop to a compelling story.

Patrick Barnes engages and entertains in this novel and leaves you questioning whether we want to truly be happy or to just be comfortable. He drags Nietzsche, Bertrand Russell, Kierkegaard, even Einstein, into it. It’s like an episode of the TV show The Good Place only with fewer jokes and more suspense. The Audric Experiment is a fun, action-packed read that’s overflowing with great ideas and moral questions.

Pages: 300 | ASIN: B01N313ZXL

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Cottonblood – Trailer

This saga begins amid the wealth of Southern plantation owners and Northern investors. By identifying the equities gained, greater concerns began to rise among the nation’s abolitionists. As a consequence, regional politicians began moving the citizenry into opposing camps.

COTTONBLOOD tracks the lives of two adolescent murderers: The first, a mixed-breed Canadian entering American waters as a deckhand aboard a French freighter. The second, a youngster captured from Sierra Leone to a foreign land where a strange language is spoken. Although the two men never meet, their journeys lattice one another as each search for some form of security. When false hope leads one into an unsolicited life of labor, the other haphazardly finds a future of opulence.

The plot traces their lives, and relations, through generations of survival leading the inheritors into the first year of America’s horrendous Civil War.

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Tiny Tim and the Ghost of Ebenezer Scrooge

Tiny Tim and The Ghost of Ebenezer Scrooge: The sequel to A Christmas Carol by [Whaler, Norman]

It takes a bold artist to follow up a masterpiece. Far too often, the original creators can’t even recapture a work’s magic in its sequel. Sometimes though, the most devoted admirers are up to the task. Norman Whaler’s Tiny Tim and the Ghost of Ebenezer Scrooge – The Sequel to A Christmas Carol might be derivative, but it’s derivative in all the right ways. Whaler knows he’s trying to extend Dickens classic, and he succeeds.

Whaler opens his sequel by briefly summarizing the ending of A Christmas Carol – which quickly helps ground any readers who haven’t read it recently. Here, we see right away that Whaler makes the smart decision to evoke Dickens rather than imitate him. He echos Dickens’ source of tension in the characters’ lives: for crippling poverty still grips this corner of London. And with the newly philanthropic Ebenezer Scrooge now deceased, the citizens again find themselves facing an English winter without money for food or clothing.

My favorite part of the reading was hearing more from the side characters whose voices drive the plot. Unfortunately, the illustrations that start each chapter vary wildly in terms of style and medium. They all match the subject of the story well, but fail to match each other. Some appear hand drawn while others have been made on a computer. Even just applying the same filter to each illustration would have helped unify the novel.

Whaler clearly admires and respects Dickens, but I do think he missed out on an opportunity to be a little more self referential with the sequel – Dickens might very well have appreciated just such humor. Regardless, the voice and tone that first made this Christmas classic are there in full force. If you read the conclusion of Dickens’ original to your children while a cold winter blast beasts against the frame of the house, they might just turn up toward you and ask, as so many readers have over the decades, “what happens next?” In such an event, you now know where to turn.

Pages: 96 | ASIN: B076YGMGF9

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A Dark Mirror And A Passageway

Andi Hayes Author Interview

Andi Hayes Author Interview

The Rebellious Earthling follows Ermina and her experiences in the depraved goblin world. What was the inspiration for the setup to this exciting novel?

The hellish world of Tartarus served as both a dark mirror and a passageway to the evil that is business-as-usual behind certain closed doors on Earth. The intent was to expose normalized cruelties and aberrant, sociopathic behaviors in what’s considered a civilized society. Inspiration for the landscape came from many sources, including artwork like Hieronymus Bosch paintings and “The Harrowing of Hell,” and books like “The Princess and The Goblin” and Orwell’s “1984.” The Turquoise Mirror did actually exist at one time but has since been gotten rid of for its unflattering reflection and creepy aura.

Lord Phegor infects a village of noble goblins to create a new species of demonic creatures. What were some themes you wanted to capture in their race?

The new species created was one void of all empathy, decency and morals; they had willingly given up their souls in exchange for hedonistic lives free of guilt or remorse. Theirs was a joyless existence, as every emotion not rooted in hate, pride or deceit was deemed useless and burdensome. Their apathy, narcissism and division amongst themselves served a purpose: it gave the Cabal even more power to control every aspect of their lives, all while allowing them to think they were free.

I appreciated the depth of Ermina and Fairuzo characters and I found their relationship well developed. What were some driving ideals behind their characters and relationship?

The Fairuzo character was based on the magnetic personality traits of an alluring, charismatic sociopath. Ermina’s naïve optimism and adventurous spirit enabled her to see past his cruel exterior enough to recognize a tiny speckle of good within him. In return, he saw within her an innocence long absent from his depraved world of debauchery, a purity he yearned to both corrupt yet preserve. A textbook case of opposites attracting; together, they were the meeting and melding of good and evil. And it is said that good always triumphs over evil.

What is the next novel that you are working on and when will it be available?

My next novel is a pet memoir entitled “Bratskulla The Magical Cat.” It will be available sometime in 2019.

Author Links: WebsiteFacebook 

The Rebellious Earthling: Tale of The Turquoise Mirror by [Hayes, Andi]

ALICE IN WONDERLAND meets DANTE’S INFERNO
She loves animals… he loves to sacrifice them. It’s a mismatch made in HELL.

An entirely new species of demonic creatures is spawned when Lord Phegor of the Fallen Angels infects a village of kind and noble goblins. Their mutated offspring now populate the God-forsaken planet of Tartarus where souls are taboo and nothing is sacred. It is into this hellish realm that the prim but virtuous Ermina descends after having impulsively accompanied Phegor’s charismatic son, Lord Fairuzo, back to his kingdom deep underground.

Surrounded by vicious, hedonistic trolls whose sordid pleasures include sacrificing animals, tormenting slaves and indulging in violent orgies, the animal-loving Ermina refuses to participate in any of the cruel depravity. Suspected of possessing an intact soul and under constant surveillance by a diabolical Cabal, she must now find a way to escape back to Earth or be eaten alive.

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