A young and powerful mage named Opal is tasked with creating a weapon to save her kind and land from an evil warlord, Mustaffa. She has created the weapon in the form of a new warrior named Karn. Going against her teachers plans however, Opal creates a bond with Karn that connects them psychologically. Together they set out to try and find help to defeat Mustaffa. Both are captured however and there they meet many more enslaved and captured by the warlord. The devastation and destruction he caused is immense. What Opal soon learns is that things are not as they seem with her teachers and the elders. She uncovers dark truths that shatter everything she was led to believe. Meanwhile Karn starts meeting other people that also have a different view of the world and plans to change the destructive course their land is headed for.
Kevin Breaux has created another amazing fantasy novel with Soul Born. The enchanting mix of mage, human, elves, giants, jackalware, and all the rest of the fantasy creatures contained among the pages creates an engaging story that never gets old. From the opening pages we meet Tala the elf as she races for her life, about to die and is saved by stronger being that the reader is left wondering who or what it is. Readers are than transported to the story of Karn and Opal. There connection is magical, but you can tell Opal really loves him. This love allows her to see past the strategic value he holds to the High Council. The lies she had been fed all her life start to unwind and as she learns the truth of her magic and her people.
This novel is the kind of book that makes you think, it is not a quick fluff read, and the twists and turns of the plot will take you by surprise. There are so many moving parts in the political maneuvering and each group of beings have their own agenda. While they all wish to stop Mustaffa from destroying the land, they all have different reasons and come to the battle from different directions. The characters are very well developed, and I love how you have to read deep into the novel to really find the depth of their personalities. The characters start off flat, but with each chapter you learn something new that adds another layer to them and the plot.
Soul Born is a story about awakening both of one’s self, and the land that the characters inhabit. Breaux is able to twist all their lives together while still giving them each a voice and purpose. Characters are not used as simple filler, they advance the story along or are used to teach one of the main characters something about themselves. Nothing is by chance and each detail, while perhaps unimportant when you read it, will become clearly important down the line as you progress. A well written and original work that is captivating and one you won’t want to put down.
Pages: 370 | ASIN: B07K1XLPP6
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Hemlock, a city dedicated to pirates, slavery, and all forms of evil you can imagine. Hemlock is a port city located in Lorinth within the realm of Perilisc. The nation of Lorinth doesn’t have an easy life, there is always some evil waiting to destroy the inhabitants. What could make life worse for these people, vampires. Vampires are returning to the land with the intention of taking over all living creatures and turning them or killing them. They are souring the soil, killing the forest dwelling creatures and making it so the Ironwood’s, that could defeat them, die of sickness. Rayph must make hard choices fighting against his own personal beliefs and trusting those he would normally never trust in order to save the lives of the humans living in the nation.
Jesse Teller is a master of writing about the dark and disturbing side of humanity. While his novels are fantasy, most characters will take on a human form. People do not simply die in these novels, torture and gruesome deaths are the norm. Long drawn out torture, maiming bodies, rape, healing people just to torture them more, emotional and physical abuse, all are common place activities among even the “good guys” in the novels. I normally avoid novels with such dark themes, but Hemlock drew me in from the first chapter. Rayph seeks out alliances to wage his battle against the vampire leader Tristan. If you are looking for vampires that sparkle and are really good people at heart, this is not the vampire story for you, rather these are the real killing monsters that horror stories are written from. Teller does an amazing job describing their brutality and steamroller approach to taking over the land.
Another key aspect of Jesse Teller is his overall character development. If you follow all the novels of Perilisc you see many returning names and characters, sometimes it is hard to follow the timeline of where one book happens from another, but many of the characters are immortal or long lived making it plausible they could exist in so many apparently different timelines. A new character to Hemlock is Aaron the Marked. This character is so well developed you don’t know if you should love him or hate him. He has an insane devotion to his king, one that will not be stopped by anyone in his mission to be reunited. He looks like a young boy and is often misjudged by other characters until it is too late. Aaron is brutal, violent, a brilliant strategist, and probably a tad on the insane side. I wanted to keep reading just to see what he would do next, who would he take out, who would he form an alliance with just to make his way back to his King. It is this kind of character development that makes me want to keep reading despite all the gore and disturbing imagery I normally avoid.
Hemlock brought back many of my favorite characters like Smear, Dissonance, Trysliana and Saykobar, the introduction of the new characters kept things interesting. It wasn’t just a new plot, it was new personalities interacting and that makes the novel for me. I can look over a lot of the gore to focus on the relationships and interactions. The world of Perilisc is one of violence and death, the characters are memorable the setting vastly different from other fantasy worlds. This may be one of my favorites in the series because of its originality in all areas.
Pages: 361 | ASIN: B079SG8L1W
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Don’t Ever Look Behind Door 32 takes young readers on a journey through the magical Hotel of Hoo where they’re introduced to many strange guests. What served as your inspiration for this imaginative hotel and its occupants?
The concept was really born from the title. I had wanted to write a counting book for a while but one that carried a stronger narrative than many others in this particular category. After I had the title, everything else just came together. I think that there is something about doors that sparks a natural curiosity, particularly in young children. I wanted to extend that curiosity by placing the story in a setting that would really compound the mystery. A magical castle, to me, holds a lot of intrigue and seemed like an excellent place to begin a curious journey.
There are a lot of interesting creatures behind each door. My favorite was the miniature giants. What was your favorite to write and animate?
I have so many! For most of the characters there is a fascinating juxtaposition between the general perception of their stereotype and a characteristic they embody in the story. Some of the other creatures are simply a play on popular culture. However a few of them are just plain cute. If I had to choose only one favourite, I think it would be from this last category – the big-headed monkeys.
While I was writing this character, I had in my mind something so adorable that it would make a great stuffed toy. What’s exciting about working with Lenny is that we both think similarly. She was able to take my thoughts for this idea and really bring it to life with brilliant expression. They may not be a typical mythical creature, but I think they nevertheless compliment the overall enjoyment of exploring this hotel by diffusing the expectation that each character needs to have some kind of creepy characteristic.
The story is told in rhyme and each door has a theme which, I think, makes this book great for the classroom. Was it challenging to write the story in this way or was it natural?
After I had the idea, the story itself flowed quite naturally. The fantastical nature of the castle meant that each door wasn’t restricted to a single concept or any established rules. I think this is (in part) what both pulls you along in the story and tempts you to linger – every door is a portal to its own unique and perhaps unexpected theme.
I don’t want it to send like I’m begging, but please tell me this story is going to be expanded on in future books?
Ooh, now that’s an interesting question. It was definitely a fun story to write so I wouldn’t rule out a sequel. I’ll let you know…
The magical Hotel of Hoo is a mysterious place with some very unusual occupants. As our guests explore the strange hotel, they are invited to experience everything it has to offer with just one warning… don’t ever look behind door 32.
This imaginative picture book aims to take children beyond the first ten cardinal numbers, and introduces them to the patterns of counting in a fun and accessible way. With rooms to explore and unique objects to count, children will enjoy lingering on each page as they make their way closer to the forbidden door.
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B.C.R. Fegan’s Don’t Ever Look Behind Door 32 takes young readers on a journey through the magical Hotel of Hoo where Mr. Nicholas Noo gives his first-ever guests constant reminders to avoid, at all costs, door number 32. Behind each door leading up to 32, guests are treated to many surprises, some creepy and some quite humorous. Entertaining rhymes help light the way through the castle-like establishment as both the readers and the guests of the hotel meet and greet a bevy of characters who have taken up residence behind the first 31 doors. What lies behind Door 32? I’ll never tell!
I really love Fegan’s books for young readers. Lenny Wen, illustrator, creates some of the most vivid and striking images you will find in children’s literature. Wen gives his characters amazingly expressive eyes whether they are screaming in terror at ghosts cooking roasts, doing a double-take at a paintbrush-wielding elf, sneaking peeks at tea-drinking monsters, or (my favorite) marveling at miniature giants.
This particular tale takes on a Halloween feel and serves as a fabulous book to read aloud during October or as part of a monster-themed unit for elementary grades. As a third grade teacher, I can see using this book with my students to study rhyme, compare and contrast the findings behind each door, or as an inspiring writing prompt. The possibilities are as endless as the number of creatures housed behind each of the doors in the Hotel of Hoo.
Fegan does an excellent job of periodically reminding the reader that Door 32 is somewhat of an enigma and, possibly, the most feared of all doors in the Hotel of Hoo. Suspense builds throughout the book as the second-person narrative draws young readers into the different rooms, page by page, and treats them to a fantastic assortment of zombies, ghosts, wizards, and many more creatures of lore.
Fegan and Wen are, book by book, mastering the kiddie lit genre. With each successive book, their plots and accompanying illustrations take on more depth and even more vibrant characters. From the very first pages, this one has the feel of a classic in-the-making.
Pages: 36 | ASIN: B078VSML8V
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The Nosferatu Chronicles: Origins, written by Susan Hamilton is a science fiction novel that tells a vivid story of creatures arriving from space and discovering that the planet they’ve crashed onto isn’t what it seems. The Vambir have been in cryostatis and crash land on Earth in the 15th century. This book meticulously sets the scene for many dramatic events. The Vambir discover they have a taste for human blood as Dracula and his army is growing in strength during the tumultuous 15th century.
The story of the alien Vambir landing on Earth is a fascinating twist on the vampire genre. Author Susan Hamilton does a great job of blending her story with the slow and steady rise of Dracula and his army. Together they allow a macabre blend of science fiction and horror to slowly develop. I felt like the myth of ‘Vlad the Impaler’ could have been developed quicker, so that we could have taken a deeper dive into his present and future, because his character and the time period are so fascinating in this story.
The story switches between the Vambir, a member of Dracula’s army and people who are being told the story about the Vambir later on. Because of this constant switching I sometimes found it difficult to understand what was happening.
The story that has been meticulously developed by Susan Hamilton has no loss of detail and a lot of references to vampire mythology. Susan Hamilton delivers the story with such clarity and simple prose that reading it was effortless. This lends easily to the suspension of disbelief; maybe vampires can come from outer space? This seemed as plausible as vampires, but I was never left questioning any of this, I was just thoroughly enjoying the novel.
As I enjoy vampires and mythological creatures, this book was a lovely and intriguing read that kept me on the edge of my seat until the very end. Hamilton has created a thrilling story that incorporates the vampire mythology while introducing some interesting new ones. If you enjoy your classic vampires, and want a new science fiction twist then The Nosferatu Chronicles is for you.
Pages: 266 | ASIN: B00X9GWEEM
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Legacy, by A.J. Macready, is the second installment in the Descendent Darkness series and returns to visit the families of Clarke’s Summit; a seemingly innocent town ridden with the darkest of secrets. Families will be torn apart, truths will be exposed and the Gaston family will finally learn the dark history of their past. When evil comes a knockin’, no family will be prepared for the deadly consequences that occur. Lives will be shattered when the demon that haunts Mike Gaston’s nightmare is finally brought to light. Who is the mysterious woman that has possessed his nightmares?
Legacy– Powerful in name, powerful in nature. Within the first few pages of Legacy, the reader is instantly given a feel as to what type of horrors they may encounter- a creature that can be “stronger, faster, and have greater sensory perception than man” and most importantly- be able to out reason them. And Legacy did not disappoint. The supernatural creatures were vicious, twisted souls that will be sure to give the most avid horror fans the heebie-jeebies.
The clues may be lined up like dominoes but with evil knocking on the door, Ally, Holly, Mike and the rest of the town will be faced with a supernatural presence unlike no other. Questions will be answered and fates will be sealed as we embark on another supernatural roller coaster with the people of Clarke’s Summit. Favorite characters will return and Macready delivers a sequel that will not disappoint. If you enjoyed the first book in the series, then I can promise you- the second one is even better.
The story flits between various families within the town which allow the reader to experience an almost movie like feel when reading the novel. The fear, the passion and the horrors twisted into the plot, created a sense of urgency and at times I genuinely began to feel scared! Much like a horror movie, I found myself mentally yelling at the characters to stay back, or to run away. I applaud Macready’s use of language and skill that created an air of suspense throughout the entire novel. Macready also plays on fears that many of us have had- the quiet darkness of when you are alone outside, the noises you hear when you are tucked up in bed and the nightmares that have you questioning whether they are real or imagined.
Rather than focusing on the romantic relationships, Legacy will draw you to the importance of family ties and once again we are treated with the beautiful bond between siblings Mike and Holly Gaston. Loyal and understanding, this sibling duo will find themselves facing off with vampire style evils who wear faces of those that they least expect.
I would would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a thriller/horror style plot line with a big spoonful of supernatural surprises. I could honestly see this novel being turned into a movie and I look forward to reading the other books in the series!
Pages: 173 | ASIN: B017SDSXKU
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Delve into this mystical world populated with equally mystical beings. In Outpost by F.T. McKinstry we are introduced to a race of beings called The Fylking. Ethereal beings that have crossed over the universe and jumped from their world to the world of Math. These creatures shift from animal forms to those resembling a human but not quite. They cannot be seen by just anyone yet everyone knows they exist. A group of individuals known as Wardens act as liaisons between these beings and the rest of the world. For better or worse, they are entwined. We have three main characters who will shape the tale: Arcmael, a Warden, Melisande who is a woman that knits and Othin, a Ranger in the king’s employ. Innocent interactions beget the telling of an intricate tale: one that will see war, death and heartache feed off each other. Each of the three holds a part in this tale and some are more important than we are first led to believe.
McKinstry begins her tale with world building. This is an essential piece of any good fantasy novel as readers need to have some sort of understanding. This is a world not of our own and McKinstry does a great job carefully laying out the lore, legends and very geography of the world of Math. In the very back of the book there is a glossary which also holds some pronunciation tips. This is a bonus as some authors just expect people to understand. McKinstry gives preliminary information in the glossary without giving away what happens in the context of the tale. This can be a delicate balance and she achieves it well.
While Outpost is declared the first novel in a series, it can stand well on its own. There is a beginning, middle and neatly wrapped up ending which answers the burning questions raised while reading. Technically, more books are not required to enjoy the story, so it would be interesting to see if McKinstry carries on with the same set of characters or if the next book simply takes place in the same world. Either way, Outpost is an excellent installment.
Another thing to note is that the chapters are named. This is more insightful than just simply numbering them as it gives readers a sense of what is to come. Not many authors seem to name their chapters anymore, but this sets the tone for an adventurous read.
While McKinstry weaves the story, and captivates readers it is the characters themselves who seal the deal. Each character is created with such depth and personality that they could almost jump off the page and walk among us. What it is exactly that creates this feeling is nothing short of excellent writing and an author who has practiced their craft and carefully constructed this world. Indeed, McKinstry is much like a goddess with the way author sways the characters and dictates their actions. It’s almost like the author is there, within the pages, guiding the characters as well as the readers along.
For anyone who is interested in the rich tapestry of fantasy with solid world building and three dimensional characters, Outpost by F.T. McKinstry is a must read.
Pages: 370 | ASIN; B0138V5YE4
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The Six and the Crystals if Ialana is a coming-of-age fantasy story rich with details, a large cast of characters, and a world rife with magic. What was the inspiration for the world of Ialana and the rich history you’ve built into it?
My inspiration for Ialana arose from the myths and legends of the lost continent of Atlantis. In my Ialana Series, the City of Rhiannon is loosely based upon these legends, while the continent itself is drawn entirely from my imagination. In the first book, I also drew the mysterious island of Mu’A partially out of these so-called myths, but the bulk of the inspiration for that island actually came from a dream I once had. In this dream, I was an inhabitant of this island, and all the shielding technology—so-called “magic”— once existed. This dream was very real, so that is what I used as my basis for the shielding technology in my series. The history of Ialana is loosely based upon our own world’s lost history. I firmly believe that we are not the first civilization to inhabit this planet, and we won’t be the last. It is my opinion, and one that is shared by many, that technology is not new here, and that our current level of knowledge still has a ways to go. My series highlights the vast gap that now exists between science and spirituality, or what we think of as magic. I want to show how they can come together, to not be disparate from each other.
In this story six kids realize they have more in common than they might suspect. What character did you enjoy writing for and why?
I identified with Jarah, my main protagonist, the most. He feels different from not only the people of his village, but also from his family and his peers. While this may be a common teenage issue, his angst goes beyond the normal insecurities. When his dreams begin, his worst fears are confirmed: he is different to those around him. Each one of the six characters feel this gap between them and the people around them, but they each deal with it in different ways. They all know that their dreams are out of the ordinary, and that this sets them apart from their peers in a way that they must grapple with and try to understand.
The kids are rescued by a mysterious shape-shifter named Irusan. This enigmatic creature becomes their first teacher. Why did you feel he was the best character to teach the kids about their past?
Irusan is the “Gandalph” of the series. He is the archetype of the wise old man, the Mentor. Someone must help these kids to understand what is happening to them, and why, and Irusan is just strange enough that the kids will know without a shred of doubt that there is much more to reality than they’ve been taught. When they see with their own eyes what he is capable of, they must believe, and that helps them open up to the magic that is around them; and initially, with the help of crystals, the magic that they can tap into. I also hope that the reader will understand that we are only limited by our beliefs, and that if we knew what we were really capable of, we’d be amazed.
This book is the first in a series. Can you tell us more about what we can expect as the story continues into books two and three?
The Six and the Crystals of Ialana is the foundational book of the series. It sets the stage for all that is to follow, and I recommend that readers read them in the order they were written. It will help them to better understand the characters and the events that follow. In the second book, The Six and the Gardeners of Ialana, the Six continue on their healing mission, but they are thwarted by another despotic man, and hunted by a new enemy: yet another shape-shifter, but one that is the polar opposite to their mentor, Irusan. This one is capable of great magic and she and Irusan have a history that is hinted at in the rest of the series. The Six find themselves on the run again, and they must now find another hidden kingdom where they will be taught elemental command. They encounter many more challenges, as does their friend Blaidd, whose life has now taken an unexpected and tragic turn. In the third of the series, The Six and Anwyn of Ialana, the focus is still on the Six friends, but now there is an addition: a daughter. This girl, Anwyn, was born and raised in the elemental kingdom, and her skills surpass those of her parents and the Six. As they and Anwyn are now adepts in their chosen roles of healers, the opposition to them from the forces of evil increase. They find themselves facing enemies whose skills and abilities are equal to or even greater than theirs, and they must not only protect themselves, but at the same time save the planet from destruction.
Mutant creatures, a Reptilian Dragon King, and a mysterious shape shifter… For fans of epic fantasy, the first book in the Ialana Series delivers a thrilling and fast-paced adventure saga. The quest, 500 years in the making to find and restore the lost crystals of Ialana, unites six young people who, along with a seventh between the ages of 15-21, were all born with a secret buried deep within. Guided by a shared dream, they leave the only homes they have ever known and set out on a life-altering quest through a maze of mountain caves and tunnels where they encounter insidious creatures, but none so dangerous, perhaps, as one of their very own. Mentored by Irusan the transcendental shape-shifter, the six young heroes develop impenetrable relationships and ultimately learn to rely upon one another. They battle their way to the lost crystal, but will they find it in time? Or, will their enemy succeed in his mission to control the powerful crystals of Ialana?
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