When live-action-role-playing adventure goes horribly wrong it’s up to our battered group to save the day! Dale, his girlfriend Jane, sister Katie and friend Gavin are off on a LARPing adventure. Dale isn’t used to this style of play and is finding himself wishing it was bit more interesting. One must be careful what they wish for in The Barrow of the Damned by Jonathan J. Drake. After a few days enacting their scenes the group is presented with a special module by Mr. Stephens, their coordinator. He leads them to a barrow where they will go to combat with other friends in an orcs-versus-adventurers play. They’ve even got a game master to keep them in line. All seems to be great, until the group steps foot in the creepy crypt for the first time. It’s dark, foreign and crawling with things that go bump in the night. Will they survive? Where are they, exactly? Finally, who is the one pulling the strings behind this adventure? Be careful what you wish for.
The story begins with a shock as a young man meets his end inside the barrow. This poor fellow will play an important role in the tale to come so it’s a good idea to remember him. The story isn’t too long with short chapters that serve to change up the perspective now and then. We get a good glimpse at what is going on from the viewpoints of all involved. There is a lot of blood and gore in this story, so if that’s not for you it would be wise to steer clear. Those who like a fantasy-adventure tale with a bit of horror will find this tale is right up their alley. The story appears to take place in the United Kingdom, although definitive places are never mentioned. Based on the terminology the characters use and the way they speak it is assumed that is where our tale unfolds.
While the story is relatively entertaining with shadows of J.R.R. Tolkien and some black humour dabbled about, the overall execution could use some polishing. There are grammatical errors and strange capitalization on words that pop up here and there which detract from the overall story. There are some key elements that aren’t explained very well that can leave readers with more questions than answers after completing the journey. Questions like, why are the Fates, who have origins in Greek mythology, in some barrow in what appears to be rural England? How did they get there? How long have they been there? From what we read, it seems like they have been there for a while, trying to steal something from a spirit who was created by the gods. With a name like O’Fleistus it’s assumed this spirit would be of English origins, but it’s not really explained. We get a bit of an explanation, but it could have been fleshed out much more instead of being revealed in fleeting conversation.
A little bit of blood and horror can dress up any LARPing event. What began as fun and games quickly turns into mayhem in The Barrow of the Damned by Jonathan J. Drake. This book has some very good potential if it had been fleshed out a bit more. There is opportunity to expand and explain more of the black-humoured story found on these pages. Aside from these minor drawbacks, it’s a fun and quick read. This tale is quite gruesome for the faint of heart. If that’s your cup of tea, you can’t go wrong venturing into this Barrow of the Damned.
Pages: 263 | ASIN: B00B79MVZA
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Nickerbacher follows a fun loving dragon on his quest to be more than a dragon protector of princesses and sets his sights on becoming a comedian. What was the inspiration for the setup of this entertaining book?
This story started out as a Picture Book and evolved to a Chapter Book. In the beginning stage, I wanted to find a way of saying that it’s okay to be who you are. Being true to yourself and following your dreams. It went through a lot of stages, twists and turns but having been involved in theater, I ultimately went with performing as a fun way to get my message out.
I felt that the story carried some important lessons for children, like the importance of friendship and believing in yourself. What were some morals you felt were important for this story?
Those were exactly the morals I felt were important. The princess is a true friend who supports Nickerbacher 100%. And the evolution of the prince’s friendship is great to see ’cause once you get to know someone, unlikely friendships can develop.
The book is filled with some great art. My favorite includes ghosts and goblins at the Fairywood Forever Cemetery. What were the decisions that went into the art direction for this story?
Working with artist, Kim Sponaugle, was a wonderful collaboration. There was a lot of back and forth. We’ve spent hours on the phone planning each scene. Then she sends rough drawings and we discuss any needed changes before she does the final shading with ink & pen.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?
I’m working on a few different things right now. Pretty much in the beginning stages. Don’t really have any publishing plans yet.
“Nickerbacher is a dragon and aspiring comedian who travels to La La Land to audition for The Late Knight Show. Hoping to prove to his father – and the world – that dragons can be funny. Nickerbacher befriends a prince and a princess who help him realize his dream while paving the way for equal rights of all citizens.”
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One Smoking Hot Fairy Tail follows Sabrina, an ex-starlet fairy, as she is trying to put her life back together when the inventor of a new drug is hunting her for her wings. What was the inspiration for the setup of this novel and how did it change as you were writing?
I wrote the first draft back in 2007. Then polished it in 2009. It was being shipped to agents from 2010-2014. It had lots of interest. Even had a movie production company interested… Ug…that was a tragic moment for me. It came down to my book and another book. The other book was picked and a movie was made. If I only had an agent at that point…
The inspiration was all the celebrities on the news going through similar problems. It was unavoidable for a while. You would turn on the TV or surf the web and see more and more articles appearing. I used to live on that Perez Hilton website. So I had a lot of celebrities to pick from.
For a foundation, I used Paris Hilton’s life and the image of Joanna Krupa for inspiration. Joanna was the looks and all that was good with Sabrina. Paris was all that was bad. 🙂 Nothing against Paris Hilton. I actually respect her.
As I was writing it, and later revising it from draft to draft, I softened up Sabrina. Made her a touch more likeable.
Another large inspiration for this novel is my love for the White Wolf Publishing RPG systems. I love how they paint a picture of otherworldly beings living in plain sight. I wanted to write a novel like that. And I wanted to have a vampire character that did not run around biting people, instead he used what he knew best from his time living: guns.
One Smoking Hot Fairy Tail is about more than just fairies, it has vampires, the undead, shapeshifters, and other magical beings. All the creatures introduced are well thought out. What was your favorite character to write for?
I love writing Sabrina. I’m not gonna lie, she is one of my all time favorite characters to write. I have such a clear image of her in my head it is like I have met her in real life. She is sexy and snarky. She is driven by her desires. She is not afraid to tell people what she wants or needs. But she is also very vulnerable. And has issues that she is working through. I think she is growing very well in the books. Wait until you read book two. And later, book three.
I felt that many of the relationships between the characters were complex and intriguing. Were these planned out or did they happen organically?
I started off writing them with a plan, but they grew organically. And they really blossom in book two. Life is full of complex relationships. And this book was meant to feature that and then add to that the fact that some of these relationships involve beings that are not human. Creatures of life in love with those of death for example. A love conquers all feeling.
This novel ends on a great cliff hanger. Will there be a second novel? When will it be published?
I think the cliffhanger is great too. Like a TV show season finale. It leaves you wanting more. And there is much-much more!
Book two is called: TWO POLLUTED BLACK-HEART ROMANCES. It picks right off where ONE SMOKING HOT FAIRY TAIL ends. Like minutes after.
It will be published this Summer. I’d say May/June 2017.
The sequel will open up the world. It will also have a lot of great character development and back story. Readers tend to love Moselle. She is a secondary character, and you will learn more of her past and be set up for a future story with her taking a larger role. You will also be introduced to more members of Cade’s undead family.
I am very proud of this book.
“America’s population is slowly dying due to an epidemic, and Alexander, an ancient, immortal shaman, has medicine that can heal people. It has one small side effect—Alexander’s able to control the minds of anyone taking the drug, nicknamed “dust.”
Alexander plans to take over the country once dust is released to the general public, crushing anyone who stands in the way. He needs just a little bit more of a certain magical ingredient to make the medication work properly: fairy wings.
An intelligent, stunning fairy, Sabrina was also America’s sweetheart—until a video of a crime she was involved in surfaces, nearly destroying her. A year later, she’s finally ready to step back into the spotlight. Together with her bodyguard, Mira, a water spirit in human form, Sabrina’s prepared to start over.
Things are starting to look up until she meets Alexander in a club and goes from social outcast to tortured captive in the blink of an eye. Will she be able to escape the evil shaman and his mind-controlled slaves in time to save herself and everyone she cares about?”
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The media loves a good story, and what better than one of a sexy model, party girl, drama queen, and spoiled brat? That is Sabrina London, or at least that was Sabrina London. Now the starlet has settled down, quit drugs, gotten her life together, and is ready to move on. If only her family hadn’t disowned her, oh and did I mention she is a Fairy? Keven James Breaux has created another world filled with magic, ancient history, and modern drama. One Smoking Hot Fairy Tail is about more than just fairy’s, it has vampires, the undead, shapeshifters, and other magical beings. Sabrina’s dream of settling into a new normal and moving on with her life is interrupted when the creator of a new nicotine addiction drug, DUST, pursues her in an attempt to cut off her fairy wings. With the help of her otherworldly friends and one human Sabrina must attempt to stop Alexander Kintner.
Kevin Breaux sets the novel in Los Angeles, not too far into the modern future. Sabrina is a socialite with her bodyguard and friend Mira living in luxury, but she is unhappy. Her father disowned her after a video of her breaking into a laboratory and having sex with her boyfriend and vampire Cade made the media rounds. Vampires and fairies are supposed to be mortal enemies but love knows this not. Sabrina is still deeply in love with Cade. Sabrina’s other good friend is Moselle; Moselle is part of the ancient undead. The human involved in this unlikely group is Jackson, he works for Moselle’s father in advertising and he falls in love with Moselle, she feels the same way, their love is also forbidden under the traditions of the otherworld’s. The relationship dynamics of all the characters are complex and while the love stories are secondary to the action plot of dismantling Alexander Kintner’s DUST operation they are useful in learning the history and culture surrounding the otherworldly.
One of the great things about this novel, is the history. Breaux manages to weave into his story line ancient Egyptian mythology and facts. There is great detail presented into how the otherworldly are created and it is explained in a manner that is fluid to the story line so you don’t feel like you are reading a dissertation in the middle of your novel. It is told through personal experience of the characters and given a strong emotional component not just a sterile list of how to instructions. You really get to know the characters through these flashback memories and they advance the story line as well so you can better understand why some of the characters respond as they do. Breaux brings the reader into their world, he presents the information as deeply hidden secrets in the world of the otherworldly and emphasizes the dangers of this information getting out into the hands of mortal humans.
One Smoking Hot Fairy Tail is an engaging book that will leave the reader turning the pages to see what happens next. Kevin Breaux is able to tap into the reader’s emotions to draw them in and give them a real connection to the characters. Jackson the human in all this is relatable to many. His reactions as he finds out more and more about his new friends is believable. Breaux ends this novel with a cliff hanger leaving the reader to wait for the next installment to see how things continue. I think this is going to be a great series for Breaux.
Pages: 319 | ASIN: B01EB65RJM
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Gifts of the Crysnix is about fairies that watch over villagers in a seaside town by granting wishes and comforting them in times of need. When you set out to write this book was it your intention to write a story filled with kindness and morality?
Yes, it was a conscious decision to create a story that would resonate with not only young people, but adults as well. My main intent was the message to trust your gut instincts, or inner voice, to lead you in life. I created the Crysnix to personify your inner voice. I wanted to open the door to the possibility for the reader to dream big, believe in them self and make the best of their life. When I began writing the story it was in the form of a screenplay. There are many “scenes” that are filled with emotion and imagery and a take home value found in films you want to see again and again. I turned the screenplay into a novel and enjoyed taking the story to a new dimension of reaching out to the hearts and minds of the readers.
The fairies must learn to deal with their own issues so that they can mature and help humans with their problems. What were some of the trials that you felt were important to highlight the Crysnix’s development?
I really enjoyed creating the Crysnix world. Although it is perfect, I made the Crysnix have to earn their perfection and also their powers to fly without wings and grant wishes. Some of the early trials are the basic adolescent hurdles of not feeling pretty or good enough, gossiping and being self absorbed. As the story progresses the issues get broader and decisions are made around the value of integrity, believing in yourself against all odds and the simple fact that just being yourself is enough to earn love and respect. The lessons get more and more complex and as a friend said to me, “It is a great read on life lessons for young people and also a good refresher for us adults.” One example is; at the end of the story the protagonist, Elixir finds the value of forgiveness when he realizes his father was doing the best he could and just messed up. Although the mistake impacted Elixir’s life, we learn that we are not responsible for the choices of others and it is not up to us to shoulder the burden. When Elixir finally forgives his father, he becomes free to move on in his life.
The Laws of Light are rules that fairies know very well, but humans struggle with. What was your inspiration for the Laws of Light and how they’re used in the novel?
The Laws of Light are introduced as the basis of the Crysnix belief system and although I described a few, I left it up to the reader to imagine what the others may be. They really spell out the depth of character of the Crysnix and are an inspiration for us humans. When I wrote the story I kept referring to them but only described them at the end of the book. I was hoping to create a sense of reverence and mystery about them. When they were finally revealed as the simple truths of self acceptance, being a source of love for others, living with gratitude, trying to better the world and never forgetting our purpose, I hoped they would resonate with and be remembered by the reader.
There are insightful quotes at the begging of each chapter. How did you choose which quotes to put in your story?
I have always been a fan of descriptive elegance where wisdom is spelled out concisely and beautifully. I have a book of quotes that I referred to and I researched my favorite sources online. Most of the “anonymous” quotes are my own. I enjoy books that use the format of introducing chapters with quotes. I think it lends another dimension to the story and who wouldn’t appreciate input from the eloquent talents of the likes of Marcus Aurelius, Goethe, Aristotle and Henry David Thoreau?
What is the next story that you’re working on and when is it due out?
I have six more children’s books waiting in the wings and a sequel to Gifts of the Crysnix nagging at me. I have finished the first two books of the Presley Series and am in the process of launching them on Amazon etc. They are about a young girl whose imagination gets her into trouble although she always has the best intentions. Currently, I am working with an illustrator on a bedtime story book for young children. It is a lovely illustrated lullaby about the universal love of a parent for a child. I hope in these global trying times it may serve to unite us with the insight that we really are not so different from one another.
What if a simple wish had the power to change your life? Beautiful creatures from a parallel universe watch over the humans in a small seaside town. A breathtaking new world-so perfect, so enchanting that we want to believe-unfolds as we witness the journey of new friends, who lead us toward our own personal triumphs. They have harnessed the power to bend time and grant wishes.
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Welcome to the beautiful world of the Crysnix. The author introduces us to these small fairies that have the power to grant wishes to the people of the world, as well as provide comfort and positive thoughts in our times of need. The story takes place in Galvin Cove, a small fictional town in a New England kind of setting of the United States. The nearby forest holds the small village of Crysnix, where the fairies learn to deal with their own issues so that they may mature and help the nearby town of humans with their problems. Elixir, a fairy with a troubled past, finds himself struggling to be the knight that his father could not. Learning from his past and from those around him, he prepares for a showdown with the Dark Prince Onyx. If Elixir fails, it might be the end for his village of Crysnix. Princess Amethyst struggles to mature from a life of pampered wealth, Aderra suppresses feelings of jealousy over Elixir’s misplaced attention, and the humans of Galvin Cove deal with several of their own issues in the story, including drug use, stealing, violence, love, and compassion. Will the Crysnix be able to guide the humans to the right choices while dealing with the unseen forces of evil around them?
This novel is filled with so much goodness, it’s difficult to feel a negative thought. Lisa Shore gives plenty of sage-like advice in these pages that I couldn’t help but feel like I was better off after reading it. There is so much variety between the characters and situations in the story that almost anyone would find something to which they can relate. However, one downfall of this variety is that not every story line gets the attention that one might want it to receive. Some of the lessons come off as oversimplified because the plot moves along quickly. Still, the story does what it seems to set out to do at its core. It gives the reader an inside look at the Laws of Light, which are rules that fairies (also called Crysnix) know very well, but humans struggle with when it comes to their implementation. Through this device, the author is able to deliver great advice from all of the wise, caring fairies, and sometimes even from the humans. There are meaningful quotations at the beginning of each chapter to set the tone for these lessons, as well. While some of the quotes will not hold the same weight for every reader, their positive effect on the novel as a whole is undeniable.
Overall, this book was a fantastic read. The plot holds enough meaning to make the lessons learned both insightful and valuable to any reader that pays attention enough to take it to heart. I would love to enter this world again and see how the characters continue to progress!
Pages: 226 pages | ISBN: 1504339657
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One tough thing about writing fantasy books is that the reader doesn’t show up already knowing what’s possible. This genre is set in a world of mythical creatures and magic, by definition being completely different than our own.
Liefdom is one such book, centered around the conflicted and hyper violent fairy, Gentry Mandrake. The book is written in a sparse and compelling style, one that keeps the action flowing from page to page but sometimes manages to pass over exposition that might connect the reader to the circumstances and stakes of the conflict at hand. It’s subtitle is “A Tale From Perilisc”, Perilisc being the fictional universe in which the author Jesse Teller sets many of his books, and as such the book is a bit tricky to follow for readers who are not already familiar with the author’s broader world.
This is a challenge for the genre in general, not for Liefdom in particular – indeed its focused prose style proves to be one of its strongest assets, keeping the reader engaged and entertained even when the action itself isn’t abundantly clear. The murkiness just comes with the territory; what are the limits of magic in general and for any given fight in particular? Could a hero or villain use magic to get themselves out of a scrape or are they in real trouble? The answers to these issues and more may be obvious to fans of the genre and of this series in particular, but setting an entire story in a universe where magic isn’t peripheral or incidental (like in Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones) but is instead foundational to the existence of the entire cast of the book may make the story opaque and forbidding to the uninitiated newcomer.
The story itself is brisk and full of action, violent action. The plot starts with a birth and a bang and very rarely lets up, barely given the reader any room to breathe. Almost every character in the story finds themselves the subject of some form of brutal torture at some point or another, the hero most of all. It feels like more than half the book is devoted to describing some form or feeling of pain. That said, though, it never feels like too much – the book is well-crafted enough such that the constant presence of pain feels unrelenting rather than overdone.
Plot-wise, no narrative acrobatics really present themselves. Gentry Mandrake is Different and Talented and must make peace with his Difference to use his Talents to save those he loves and indeed the broader world, facing both rejection and scorn at home and unfathomable all-consuming evil when he walks out the front door. There’s plenty of fantastic magic, shape-shifting and aura fights and threats of immortality, all compelling and fun.
In all, Liefdom is a strongly written book with a pleasant plot that features an extraordinary amount of violence and pain in a way that never becomes overbearing. If all of that sounds like your cup of tea then you’ll probably feel right at home.
Pages: 255 | ASIN: B01FWP8WS4
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