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The Masque of Count Milado

The Masque of Count Milado by GJ Scherzinger is a fantasy mystery centered around a powerful masque thought to be long lost. Xavier Gaines, a man from Earth who found his way to the magical world of Terranovae, has been asked by a friend to use his magical and physical abilities to retrieve this mask from Count Milado, who has acquired it. So Xavier sets off to infiltrate the count’s court with his wife and daughter in tow. Shortly after arriving, the count is found mysteriously dead, and the race is on to locate the missing masque before it’s lost forever.

This was a fantastic story. This world had excellent story building. There was some nicely done backstory that really brought the characters to life and made them richer. The magic was beautifully described. I love how each transformed state was kind of its own being and not the magic user in just a different form. They each had their own personality and were treated as such, complete with different pronouns. There was a beautiful mystery that I wanted to solve. There were twists I wasn’t expecting that kept me guessing how the story would play out. I got excited when things were revealed to me, making the story more engrossing. This kept me reading on, captivated.

The beginning has a slow burn as things get set up but really picked up as the plot progresses. I felt that it was redundant that every time Xavier became a tiger, the beast was described to us. Seeing as how it was the same tiger each time, I feel the initial description was enough to give us a clear picture of what it would look like from then on.

The Masque of Count Milado is a fascinating new fantasy novel with mythology and folklore elements. A world filled with magic, mystery, and mischief to keep readers engaged. I definitely want to read more of this world.

Pages: 267 | ASIN : B0B1P9YDW3

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Fixing Nick

Nick, the barn is looking run down and old. His doors are broken, his fence is falling down, his stalls are dirty, and his paint is faded and chipped. So the farmer decides that it is time to build a new barn to replace Nick. However, the animals want to save their friend. They work together to fix Nick and make him like new again. It is a big job. Will they be able to save Nick, or will the farmer still replace him with a new barn?

Fixing Nick, written by Howie Groff, tells the story of friendship and working together. This beautifully written picture book shows an unlikely group of animals that band together under the guidance of Goose to make all the repairs to Nick the barn before the next day when the farmer has someone coming to build a new barn. Old Goat doesn’t think they can do it, and that Nick is not able to be saved. However, the rest of the animals refuse to give up and will not let their friend down. This children’s book powerfully portrays the message of sticking together and helping those in need. Even when the tasks seem too big for the animals, they find a way to make them happen.

The colorful and cheerful illustrations done by Olya Bond bring the story to life. They have managed to capture the animals’ emotions on each page, the determination, the concern, and the joy as they make a difference in the life of their friend.

I enjoyed the rhymes in the story, it makes reading it a joy, and you can’t help but smile as you follow along with all the animals. This is a story children will want read aloud to them as they follow along with the playful illustrations.

Fixing Nick is a heartwarming picture book about friendship and working together to save another friend. This children’s book is perfect for teaching kids about the value of working hard and fixing things rather than just throwing something away or replacing it. It teaches the importance of friendships and teamwork.

Pages: 33 | ASIN : B09S7MX4YG

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Strung

Strung is a beautiful literary work by Roske. This book includes enthralling accounts of its characters in a fantasy folklore setting that is full of romance and magic. How Lady Lysbeth’s world changes with the arrival of Faye and how she maneuvers through different events in the gender discriminative Avon society is quite striking. Roske presents the storyline in stark contrasts. The book begins as some kind of musical composition in the making and flows flawlessly with vivid imagery and illustrations, taking readers on a fantastic visual journey. A patient reader would find everything they need to know within the pages of Strung. The words are selected masterfully, the characters evolve deeply as the novel progresses, and the scenes feel authentic and lively. There is never a dull moment in this novel if you get into the rhythm and tune of this book.

Roske manages to keep the dialogues crisp and flowing and does justice to the era the novel revolves around. I am delighted with Roske’s approach to showing the relationship dynamics of each character. Strung is filled with rich dialogue between characters, with some narration inserted to add additional information or set the scene. In addition, the author includes words and language of a different era that give the characters a more dynamic personality. It is easy to get lost in the plot and the setting with such well-written passages.

This captivating book is a slow-burn romance while managing to not be a typical romance novel. Roske has created an enchanting story that is unique. Lysbeth’s life in a male-dominated society, her fascination with Faye, the cultural clashes, and how society plays a role in shaping one’s identity are meticulously portrayed.

Strung is a spellbinding fantasy and romance novel. Beautiful writing, a well-developed cast of characters, and a mystical romance that defies the social norms of that era will appeal to readers across multiple genres.

Pages: 390 | ASIN: B09T3NLGT6

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A Person Can Choose to be Good or Bad

Cheryl Rush Cowperthwait Author Interview

Stone Dragons Kingdom follows a city of people that are dragon riders as they try and protect their city and world from destruction. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

The inspiration for this story was to create a situation where a villain can have a change of heart. It shows, I think in a dramatic way, how allowing other people to help you can lead down a wrong path, as indicated by the Stone Dragons Kingdom, but also on a human level, we have Belinda who focuses on all she doesn’t have, rather than what she does have. If she could only reach that light inside her, what would change?

Learning she has strong and deep powers changes Belinda. What were some driving ideals behind Belinda’s character’s development?

Belinda is a very interesting character. She stems from a person consumed with being the best, but when she isn’t, she’ll go to the extreme to show that she is the best. In her development, I wanted to show, no matter what, a person has a choice of what they want to be, either for bad or good. With Belinda, I chose to show that she was only one choice away from changing her life.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Yes, but as always, they only come to light after I’ve written a story. I think the main theme of this one is redemption. The story starts out harshly for Belinda, even though others believed her to have changed, it took her a long time before she could shake her demons to find the person she wanted so much to become.

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

Thank you for asking! Well, The Stone Dragons Kingdom was supposed to be the last for this series, but… one of my characters had something else in mind! I’m currently writing The Spires of Dasny: 5 ~ The Northern Kingdom. It’s on pre-order now and will be released by Fall 2022.

It may not be the last of the series, either ~ the same character has been given knowledge of how their current kingdom will undergo change, and he’ll be instrumental to this change.

Author Links: GoodReads

Continue the saga of the award winning young adult bestselling series, The Spires of Dasny as Book 4 takes you on a journey to another kingdom. Belinda, an ambassador from the Spires of Dasny is now living amogst the Stone dragons and teaching the ways of the Spires to them, including the bonds made between dragon and rider. She stays with them after they healed her beloved dragon, Sezalor… or so those in the Spires believe.
It’s only after Seyra hears from the Truth Speaker, that she learns the truth behind Belinda. What she learns could not only destroy the Spires, but every other kingdom in their world. Belinda holds a magic so powerful, so destructive, there may be no way of stopping her.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Belinda

Returning to Sezalor’s lair, I pause to connect to the Rocks. Splaying my hand open, I lay my palm flat against the wall immediately feeling the surge of power enter me.

“Time is short. As promised, you will have your own kingdom as long as you carry the Rock and Water energy for us to expand. We have been locked in one place for too long. Agola grew old and set in his ways, this is why you have this opportunity to expand with us. Use the energy we absorbed by the stone-encased Xi to bring our Stone dragons under control.”
A blinding flash cracks through the wall. I feel like I’m hit by lightning, my head screams in pain with an ache like it’s being crushed by an enormous hand. Behind me, the roar of Sezalor adds to the unbearable pain. Clasping both hands over my head, I beg for it to stop. Anything, please take this pain from me! Briefly, I smell burning. In my horror I look down to find myself being burnt alive before I’m hit by a wall of Water. Darkness.
Rebirth. I suck in First Breath. Expelled from the womb of Rock and Water, I stand on shaky legs and return to my chamber to dry. As my hands move the drying cloth over my body, I discover more scales covering me from my shoulders to the biceps. I grin. Large, stone scales. Who needs armor when I have these?

The Impossible Girl

Ava Marie Jones doesn’t know anything about her past. That is until she falls through a tree. Ava finds herself in a whole new world with creatures from all types of fairytales. She soon realizes that she belongs here. She fits in! Or so she thought. She is soon dubbed The Impossible Girl because she was never registered at birth. Author Ashley White has us follow Ava as she navigates through this new realm and school. Will she learn more about her family? Will she test the limits of her powers?

The Impossible Girl will have readers enchanted! It has a feel to it similar to books by J.K. Rowling and Rick Riordan. The story pulls readers in from the very beginning and keeps them engaged throughout the whole novel.

This magical novel starts with a long prologue, readers will find this information imperative as they start reading chapter one. The story has a great flow to it, combining action and dialogue seamlessly. The author has a way with descriptive language. The details that went into her world building will have readers envisioning the city under the tree as clearly as if they were walking there themselves.

Ava’s character is well thought out. She is taking everything she learns in stride. Ashley White has given her a strong and distinct personality that readers will be able to relate to. Ava is shy, but she is starting to come out of her shell. Her friend Duncan is an interesting character. He seems very nice and caring. However, he is a pleaser. Duncan wants to please and impress his father. He follows the rules. Can he be trusted in the future? We shall see. Ava’s friend Tara seems to be an open book and is filled with all kinds of useful knowledge. She is also a very caring friend. Always aware of her friend’s feelings. Colin is another friend of Ava’s. He is shy in the beginning but is very brave by the end. I look forward to seeing his character progress in future novels.

The Impossible Girl is a children’s and teen fantasy novel that will take readers on an adventure as a young girl discovers her true identity. With magic and mystery readers of all ages will want to follow along as Ava discovers what makes her unique.

Pages: 314 | ASIN : B09SNG2MJB

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Stone Dragons Kingdom

With the stone dragons as its new allies, peace returns to the Spires, but not for long. An enemy seeking the Spires’ destruction rises from within under the influence of the Xi’s mind-controlling magic and the Rock and Water gods. Seyra, Queen of the Spires, finds herself in mortal danger due to the actions of this enemy but escapes in a dramatic turn of events. The Spires Kingdom makes it out of this sticky situation only to face old enemies in the form of the Xi people again, but the brave dragon riders and their beasts secure victory for the kingdom. Elated by the destruction of the persistent Xi sorcerers, the Spires make a startling discovery that would pit them against their most brutal opponents yet in their battle for survival.

Author Cheryl Rush Cowperthwait (C.R.C.) returns with her captivating tale of dragons, humans, and magic in this fourth book in the Spires of Dasny series, Stone Dragons Kingdom. With just enough backstory and new challenges, you don’t have to worry about not having enough context to understand what’s going on. The book starts with a bang. There’s a high-tension and high-stakes scenario threatening to unravel right from the get-go. But Cowperthwait is also proficient in building anticipation as she thrusts readers right into the thick of things. She knows how to set the stage and slowly dial up the tension in anticipation for what happens next.

Cowperthwait also shows impressive control over her story as she swings from one story gap to the next but keeps things cohesive and engaging. The storytelling is also compelling as Cowperthwait expertly humanizes her characters, thus making them relatable and memorable. With a simple yet beautiful and expressive writing style, the Stone Dragons Kingdom makes for a breezy and entertaining read from start to finish.

The Spires of Dasny: 4 Stone Dragons Kingdom is a riveting young adult fantasy novel. With plenty of action and thrilling suspense, readers will be drawn into the battles and feel connected to the characters while following their saga.

Pages: 211 | ASIN : B09BTG9DLR

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Caught (Sea Temptress Series Book 1)

Caught (Sea Temptress Series Book 1) by [Kimberley Cale]

Caught (Sea Temptress Series Book One) by Kimberley Cale is a fantasy romance story about a pirate captain seeking revenge against the mermaid he captures. Quinn O’Connor believes that Lorelei is responsible for sinking his ship The Mayhem and killing his crew, and he intends to make her pay. He refuses to listen when Lorelei tries to explain what happened. Though she is desperate to escape an arranged marriage to the sadistic brother of sirens, Lorelei’s sister will be forced to take her place if she does not return home. When Lorelei and Quinn end up stranded together on a deserted island, will she be able to find a way to save herself and her sister?

The author has an enjoyable and engaging writing style and the story kept my interest. Lorelei and Quinn start out as enemies, but feelings between them quickly grow. I liked Lorelei’s character throughout the entire story, and I enjoyed reading the interactions between her and her sisters, Jewel and Storm. The twist at the end of the book, that allowed Quinn and Lorelei to be together, was not what I was expecting, and I liked that this part was not predictable despite some familiar beings from myths and fantasy. I liked the inclusion of the mythological elements that were woven into the story. There were many humorous parts of this book, which caused me to laugh out loud more than once, and I enjoyed the quotes at the beginning of each chapter.

I didn’t like that the book started in one place in the story and then went backward to show the reader the “beginning” of the story. I prefer when books start at the beginning of the story, and in this case, it felt as though the out of order timeline hindered the forward momentum of the story.
There were some troubling aspects of the interactions between Quinn and Lorelei at the beginning when he used his superior strength against her to try to push for physical intimacy while he was holding her captive. Despite his justifications and the agreement they come to, it brings up questions about whether Lorelei is actually “willing” or not. Quinn redeems himself later in the book, and I was glad that the story ended happily for both Lorelei and Quinn.

I’m looking forward to the next story in the series about one of Lorelei’s sisters. Caught is an exciting adventure novel that will delight fantasy fans who would like to see a new layer added to the mermaid mythology.

Pages: 155 | ASIN: B08D7T8YSK

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His Quest to Save the World

Nathaniel Turner Author Interview

Nathaniel Turner Author Interview

The Chimaera Regiment follows Hector as he sets off on a world altering journey. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?

The first idea that I incorporated into this story, or what eventually became this story, was the question, “What if someone compelled a worldwide society, perhaps not far into our future, back to a level of technology and culture comparable to the very first tribal communities?” Of course, by the time I wrote the book, I had decided to aim for something closer to the late Bronze or early Iron Age than the Stone Age, and the whole question became part of the world-building rather than a story I tell during the book.

The character of Hector started to develop as I began to catalogue ideas and lay out a basic plan of the plot. Up to that point, I had never completed anything longer than a short story (in spite of my best efforts), so I wanted to make it as easy as possible for myself to get all the way through a novel. To that end, I took that advice so frequently bandied about, “Write what you know,” and decided to make the hero someone a little younger than I was at the time.

The first draft of the novel was quite a bit shorter than it is now, and it ended up collecting dust in a box for a few years. (I prefer to write first drafts by hand.) Around the time a movie was released with, by total coincidence, my working title, I decided to go back to it and see what I could make of it. By that point, I had gotten a college degree and learned enough to know that the first draft had a good core, but the implementation was all wrong. Over the next couple of years, I went through the entire book and rewrote it, this time trying to make sure all the pieces aligned. It was at this point that I incorporated mythology into the story and titled it The Chimaera Regiment.

That initial idea is still in there, and you can see the edges of it as the backstory develops through this book, but I’m going to explore that question more closely in future books.

I think the story has roots in mythology. Do you read books from that genre? What were some books that you think influenced The Chimaera Regiment?

It does, and I do. My bachelor’s degree is focused on the Classics, which some may have heard called Classical Studies or (my favorite) Classical Philology, so I learned Latin and ancient Greek and I read a lot of Greco-Roman mythology, both in English and in the original languages. (My knowledge of Norse mythology is pretty limited, I’ve barely touched Egyptian mythology, and I’m as clueless as the next guy when it comes to anything else.)

For The Chimaera Regiment in particular, I looked to a lot of different sources for inspiration. What I wanted, perhaps most of all, was to craft a story that people would enjoy regardless of their educational background, but I also wanted to include a lot of “Easter eggs” for people with the same knowledge-base I have. So on the surface you have Hector on his quest to save the world from the Chimaera Regiment, and underneath that, I’m incorporating themes and plotlines from the myth of Bellerophon. Bellerophon, of course, was the hero that killed the Chimaera in the Greek mythos. Most of that particular tale comes to us from the writings of Apollodorus and one section of Homer’s Iliad, but there are a lot of minor references in other works, too.

While the myth of Bellerophon and the Chimaera is interwoven with the main plot, I also included references to other myths, both significant and minor, throughout. The vast majority of those can be found in Homer (either the Iliad or the Odyssey), Vergil (the Aeneid), or Ovid (the Metamorphoses), but to be honest, I enjoyed the process of hiding those references so much that I’m not completely sure I could tell you all of them at this point!

I found the characters in this story to be complex and engaging. What were the driving ideals that drove the characters development throughout the story?

Especially when it came to Hector, whom we follow more closely than anyone else, I wanted something realistic. I find a lot of “coming of age” hero stories jump too quickly from “callow youth” to “great warrior” without much reason for it. I didn’t want my readers to ask, “Wait, why can he do that? How come he’s not daunted by this fight or fazed by this tragedy? When did he have time to learn strategy?” Incorporating that development was important to me.

When it came to the other characters, it was a matter of establishing ideals for each of them—how they saw the world, how they expected life to go—and then challenging those ideals with reality. Sometimes reality is better than they thought, but usually, it’s worse; either way, they have to adjust to deal with that. It’s a process not altogether different from the way we deal with change in our own lives.

I find a problem in a well written stories in that I always want there to be another book to keep the story going. Is there a second book planned?

There is a second book planned (and, very roughly, a third). The sequel is titled The Aegipan Revolution and picks up, not where the main story of The Chimaera Regiment leaves off, but rather where our epilogue leaves off, with the child learning this epic tale from his history.

I’m in the midst of writing The Aegipan Revolution, and I’ve passed the halfway point, but there is still a lot left to tell. After that, I’ll need to edit it thoroughly (though hopefully not as slowly as the first book!). On top of that, my day job has me incredibly busy these days. So I’d love to set a date for the next book’s release, but I can’t realistically estimate that right now.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

The Chimaera RegimentIt is late autumn in the 2040th year of the Sixth Era. For centuries, peace has reigned among the tribes of men, but as an early chill descends on the land, a new war looms from the south. Lord Derek, ruler of the Chimaera Regiment, seeks to reestablish the ancient Fylscem Empire under his banner, and he will stop at nothing to restore the dominion of his bloodline.

Before him lies the idyllic Valley of Kyros, home of the Alkimites, where the last direct heir of the old empire lives in ignorance. Guided by the ancient Guardian Lord Aneirin, Hector son of Abram must travel to the primeval capital of his heritage. There, in the Library of the Ancients, he must retrieve the three Blessed Blades of the Emperor, symbols of his authority. Agents of the Chimaera Regiment pursue him, and barbaric tribes stand in his way, but his path may unlock the secrets of the past, and it could bring light—or darkness—to the future.

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