This historical fantasy story is set in the first century AD, where Brittania is at constant war with Gaul. The protagonist, Catrin, is a Celtic warrior who has a difficult romantic decision to make when her secret Roman lover, Marcellus, refuses to join her as her king in Brittania. She can either live without him in her homeland or live with him in Rome as his scorned foreign mistress.
I enjoyed the depth of Catrin’s character and how her bravery manifests throughout the story. She is a strong female protagonist that reminds me of Lagertha’s character in the TV show Vikings. Catrin has a wicked half-brother, Marrock, who is a powerful sorcerer who will stop at nothing to destroy her. I reveled in Marrock’s character probably just as much as Catrin’s character. I enjoy a good villain and I think that it’s the villain that really sells a fantasy story, to me anyway. Catrin has no option but to join forces with former enemies. The dramatic turn of events throughout the novel is unpredictable and makes it difficult to choose when to put the book down. I was always interested in seeing how Catrin was going to handle the next twist.
As the fourth book in a series, the action relies on the considerable backstory to make sense of the plot. Tanner does make an effort to fill in the details to get the reader up to speed. I think this book is better as a continuation of an epic rather than as a standalone story, but if you don’t mind missing a few details you’ll still find plenty to enjoy in this novel. The best part of this book, for me, is the way the action is set amongst real-life history and well-known legends. The story fits within the lore of King Arthur and mystical Druids, giving this novel an authenticity that many fantasy stories lack.
Skull’s Vengeance is an evocative and gripping fantasy adventure that long time fans of the series will heartily enjoy. This is a fast-paced read that will appeal to fans of epic fantasy that are looking for a bit of history infused in their fantasy lore. Skull’s Vengeance has well-defined characters, a deep backstory and a well-drawn plot. I think it’s best suited to adult readers who don’t mind some graphic violence and sex scenes.
Pages: 402 | ASIN: B0BC2GCFGG
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Where the Magic Lies is the beginning of an imaginative fairytale series following Amethyst Quartz, who collects logs with her mother in the forest. When they discover one of the logs is an important artifact that belongs to a king from another world, their lives change forever. In this world of fairies, Amethyst’s acquiring this special artifact is forbidden and punishable by death, and her mother, as the adult responsible for retrieving the item, faces this fatal end unless there is a way to save her.
To save her mother from certain death, Amethyst agrees to follow the fairies in Portia, the name of their kingdom, and marry their prince, who is eagerly searching for a bride. Facing the frightening challenges of this new life, homesickness, brutal assassinations, and a new romance, Amethyst must decide how to navigate this strange world and find herself.
The author brings a refreshing vibrance to the classic fairytale narrative, with solid character development, intriguing magic, and the abrupt changes that a person must face in life without warning. Amethyst must think and act quickly if she wants to escape, as her position of isolation and scrutiny is a form of imprisonment. She learns who she cannot trust and how every decision she makes has a ripple effect on her life and the outcome of the situation.
I enjoyed the visual writing in this book and the author’s talent for detailed storytelling that painted a vivid image of the world and its inhabitants. I recommend Where the Magic Lies for its overall great story development, the heroine’s triumphant nature, and her commitment to survival and fighting for love. It’s an artistic fantasy novel with a meaningful storyline that combines elements of traditional fantasy themes and nostalgia with realistic characters.
Pages: 245 | ASIN: B0B9M7HNBY
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Captive Attraction by Patricia Crumpler centers around Aril-Ess, a princess and a geologist, who takes her role as a scientist seriously, and prefers to be treated as an equal, not royalty. Aboard an exploratory airship, Aril-Ess and the crew quickly learn that their biggest challenges are not what discoveries or scientific research lie ahead, but rather, they are targets of a trafficking operation, looking to enslave and auction off their captives at the highest price. When Aril-Ess finds herself in the midst of this horror, she must act quickly and learn how to fight to survive.
From the beginning, Crumpler introduces us to the lively personalities of the characters through vibrant dialogue. The reader plunges into the action immediately, which quickly develops as Aris-Ess and other captives adapt to their unpredictable surroundings. I found the writing style intriguing, with sharp visuals of planets, the glow of multiple moons, and the intense anxiety of characters and their unknown fate. As Aril-Ess gets familiar with her new role, enslaved to a wealthy owner, she must decide how to strategize her escape or adapt to a new, unexpected life.
I enjoyed the author’s brilliant character development, which is well portrayed almost exclusively through dialogue, which is thrilling, action-packed, and with lots of humor and enjoyable sarcasm. It’s an excellent story for science-fiction enthusiasts, interlaced with flashes of sexual encounters and unexpected romance. I found the story surprisingly witty and thrilling to read.
Captive Attraction by Patricia Crumpler is a creative sci-fi romance that is worth reading for anyone who’s a fan of the genre or looking for a refreshing story. I recommend this book for it’s exceptional writing, excellent narration, and exciting, lively characters. Captive Attraction is an entertaining read if you’re looking for a story with a few unique twists and superb plot development.
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High Clowder Cats follows a feral tom cat who sets off to find his own territory and start a colony of his own. However, fate has different plans for him. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?
I guess everyone is really motivated by a sense of wanting to belong and is somewhere on the journey of figuring out how they fit in. Bushytail is no different. The question is, how much of the opportunities one is presented with on our journey through life are due to fate and how much are because of our actions and the consequences of those actions? Bristle does determine that Bushytail is fated for greatness and leads him toward that but on the way Bushytail also has choices to make – the path Bristle laid out for Bushytail isn’t easy and he could have given up – but thank goodness for the readers, he doesn’t.
Bushytail starts out wanting a simple and quite life; what he gets is something much different and harder to adapt to. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?
There is a quote from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings that has always stuck with me: “I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” Bushytail’s choice is much like that. He did not choose to be the hero of the story, but when he had the choice to try and help others or walk away, he decided to stand up for what was right.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
The most important theme is that everyone is a leader and everyone needs to lead by example and be a good citizen. It is easy to feel that you can’t make a difference in the world when faced with enormous issues like global warming but it is up to each of us as individuals to make a difference. In the end, there is no other way to solve the world’s problems except by working together to make the world a better place. The hard problems are a bit easier to discuss through the eyes of cats – it seems to make them a bit more accessible.
What is the next book in the Clowder Cats series about, and when will it be available?
I don’t want to give away any spoilers from book one, but if you have read book one there is a “coming soon” section at the back with some insight into what happens in Book Two: Dark Clowder. The title is a bit of a giveaway! Book 2 is nearly ready for editing at the minute. I will let you know when it will be released on my website http://www.clowdercats.net
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Escaping the Future follows a group of friends on an adventure that leads to a time machine in a wrecked spaceship that sends them to the future. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?
I grew up on stories like The Goonies and Back to the Future. When I was thinking about ideas to pursue in my own writing, it wasn’t a big leap for me to ask myself, “What if the Goonies were time travelers?” Instead of hunting for a treasure, they could be searching through time for a way home. Instead of the Goonies, the friends from the story were loosely based on the friends from my own childhood. I imagined how my friends would have reacted if they were thrown into the future, and the shenanigans that would result from our choices in trying to get home.
Your characters were interesting and well developed. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?
I wanted to portray characters with the challenges that everyone feels as they are growing up. Whether struggling to make their own voice heard like Sophia, not living up to expectations of others or yourself like Tate, not fitting in like Zoe, or just how to gain the confidence you need to succeed like Nic. Everyone deals with these challenges in some degree at some point in their lives, and how they overcome these challenges is the heart of the person they become.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
I wanted the reader to understand the idea of seeing things from others perspectives as well as your own, whether it is from strangers or someone as close as your family. While Nic has to move away, he doesn’t see things from his parent’s point of view. Despite his disagreements with his family, he has to learn to not take for granted the time he has with them. We never know what changes might come in the future, family drama, moving away, or even your own alien situation. Understanding others point of view can help you work together and live in the moment.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am working on a middle grade story where the main character will travel from Earth into another world filled with magic. It is a fairytale about exploration and discovering your own true potential. I don’t have a working date for its release yet.
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The Last War follows five heroes as they embark on dangerous quest to rediscover the secret of the Elder Song. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?
Strange as it may seem, I found out about the Elder Song a bare moment before Loremaster Aneirin did. I knew from the start that the five were going to summon the power of the Dragonkin using the Shrines, but how they were going to achieve that – i.e. the setup – was a mystery to me until a heartbeat before Aneirin heard of the Elder Song. However, while the setup came organically in that sense, the Cynnahu Saga itself is directly inspired by the late Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea Cycle; in short, her Archipelago inspired me to create my own.
I remember first reading The Earthsea Cycle in elementary school, hearing the mage Ogion of Re Albi say “To hear, one must be silent.” And I still remembered those words when I took the series up for a second and third time, years later. While the rest of my generation went to Hogwarts with Harry, I traveled by ship to the School of Roke with Ged.
Isn’t that interesting? I openly and sincerely adored Middle-earth and idolized the wizard Gandalf, but it was Ogion the Silent who I related to: “He spoke seldom, ate little, slept less. His eyes and ears were very keen, and often there was a listening look on his face.” I also remember being struck with the fact that Earthsea was an Archipelago, the first I had ever encountered in a Fantasy, with no true main continent to journey across; rather the journeying was done by ship, in the soul, and on different Isles each of which had a special distinction – its own personality, if you will. I was so struck that even at so young an age I decided that if I were ever to write a Fantasy book then it would take place upon an Archipelago. I knew I wanted a mages’ school, a ruling Archmage, and ships. Interesting is it not? I idolize The Lord of the Rings, yet never felt the need to create my own Middle-earth.
Your characters are all unique and detailed. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?
Most simply came to me, cliche as that sounds. However, I tried to have them represent something I felt needed a voice. Archmage Hoth is my idea of an ideal leader. Myrriden is a single father who is not afraid to show how much he loves his son and surrogate daughter. He represents rank, power and skill coupled with humility. Emrys is not unlike myself at his age, nervous and following the rules fervently, yet possessing an inner flame and smarts. He is not the stereotypical brash “boys will be boys” hothead and is instead deeply thoughtful. Sakura is a girl who had everything she loved taken from her in an instant, and now seethes with a need for vengeance. She represents trauma that takes time to heal but is smart and would fight to the death to defend her still living friends. Volcan is the mysterious and unwillingly funny figure you can utterly trust and who keeps surprising you, because every good Fantasy needs such a character.
Stormlady Mica leads the blue warriors because I have noticed that, in Fantasy, women tend to use their wits and magic while the men lead the actual glorious cavalry charge; women have the special powers while the men use swords. This is hardly an ironclad rule and, even if it were, there is nothing wrong with it – indeed I love countless books that employ this storyline tactic. But I wanted to flip the coin. I wanted a woman wearing armor and leading the land’s most elite warriors into white-hot battle while the men wrestled with matters of magery.
Loremaster Aneirin in the scholar in me, for I love historical research and adore archeology. Yet just as much he – and the grey nobles in general – portray my firm belief that the best societies are deeply aware of their own history and learn from their past. Instead of trying to gloss over or justify the genocide of the Dragonkin, most modern Cynnahu folk – thanks to the Loremasters – are appalled by their ancestors’ deeds. Furthermore, I prefer wars won in ways beyond mere military tactics and/or magic as otherwise it is boring. Which is why Aneirin uses his scholar’s training to unravel ancient mysteries, his work being crucial to the war effort and the quest for the Elder Song despite never fighting.
Did you plan the story before writing or did it develop organically while writing?
A bit of both. I had what I like to call beacons – major events I wanted to happen because they were turning points in the story – but getting there was up to me. I was like a ship captain sailing unknown waters towards the distant lighthouse then, upon reaching it, setting out for the next. So I planned the story insofar as the beacons went, but everything in between developed organically while writing.
This is book one of The Cynnahu Saga. What can readers expect in book two?
Book two, Dragon Guardians, will hopefully be out by this time next year. Hopefully. I am making no promises as life has a horrid habit of getting in the way, but the book is fully written – meaning all that remains to be done is editing. Indeed, even the rough draft of book three, Mages’ Legacy is complete.
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Price of Life by David Crane is a page-turning and suspenseful science fiction story that follows the journey of a prehistoric boy who discovers an unusual meteorite while hunting, which gives him the power of immortality. He becomes the first known human to possess this power, and all the benefits and challenges that it carries. It’s a great supernatural story that touches on many historical eras, including references to World Wars I and II and the Russian Civil War.
Crane writes in such as realistic way, as if the story is a documentary, following the character through many years, societies, and relationships. The gift of immortality is a power for which many people would do anything, but what are the consequences when an immortal falls in love with a mortal? Many people, such as Laura, keep the nature of their existence secretive, though eventually, it must be revealed to those closest people to her. The story explores many aspects of immortality and how living without the fear of aging and dying, while an amazing experience, can present a new world of challenges.
How do the characters handle life after thousands of years of existence? Would you abandon your gift of immortality to become a frail mortal and live like everyone else? Crane does an exceptional job of bringing up the question of humanity’s fragile existence and how people would handle a life that never ends. Is it a gift that later becomes a curse when everyone you love eventually leaves you in death?
I recommend Price of Life for its original and creative style and unique twist on the human side of a popular science fiction theme. It’s a great story for fans of this genre who want to explore the implications of immortality.
Pages: 318 | ASIN: B00Y424WD6
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The Ballpark Buster by Don Shearer tells the story of an average kid, Buster, who lives an ordinary life like everyone else, with just one difference: he’s well over six feet in height by the time he’s twelve years old. Buster strives to have a normal life, hanging out with friends, going to school, helping his parents at home, and playing sports, despite this unusual medical condition that rapidly speeds up his growth rate. Instead of focusing on the challenges of his record-breaking height, Buster Logan uses it to his advantage to become an athlete. He quickly learns how his size can work for him, not against his pursuits, transforming his life from ordinary to an extraordinary nationwide sports hero.
This fascinating story is set in the 1940’s, imbuing this sports fiction story a unique historical fiction feel. The story explores the golden era of major league baseball, a simpler life, and the nostalgia of this decade. Shearer writes a rousing story which feels like a classic with a clear and lighthearted tone throughout, making this an easy read. It’s a fun book for children and young adults. It conveys the importance of living your life to its fullest potential and using any attribute you have, including an unusual height, to your advantage.
Shearer adds creative and unique characteristics into a tale that could otherwise be considered ordinary. It’s a fantastic story for baseball fans as there are pictures of ballparks included, and the descriptions give the reader a decent visual of the author’s love of the game. It’s an inspirational and feel-good story that makes a great light read. I recommend The Ballpark Buster for its creativity and simple but profound writing that makes a fun story for all ages.
Pages: 287 | ASIN: B0B7QP7V9X
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