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Dark Days

Dark Days is a story about a girl named Maya. who is an outcast because she hasn’t completed a traditional rite of passage known to her people as the Leighesan sect. While being born to the Leighesan sect, she belongs to the Dempsey clan and spends her days training to become the best she can be. Her goal is to achieve knowledge and skill that surpasses people of her age and the elders as well.

Maya must compete in the Cluiche which is an ancient set of games and competitions that, for years, has showcased the best of the best. Little does she know that by competing in the Cluiche, she will not only have the chance to change her future but the prospect of clans everywhere. Learning who she truly is and standing for what she believes is right, she begins her journey with her two friends Jeremias and Willum, and finds support and hardship in places she never thought she would. War is budding on the horizon and the appearance of a figure that for a time only she could see, she knows that time is running out, and her destiny might be coming sooner than she thought.

Dark Days was a compelling read that was consistently entertaining. The book’s ending leaves the reader desiring more as well as wanting to see what happens next. One minor complaint I have is the ending of the book seemed a little rushed. Maya’s strength is inspiring and I admired her ability to not care what others thought of her. It’s a nice change of pace to see such a strong and intelligent female character in a book.

D.W. Saur does an excellent job of developing complex characters such as Maya’s friends Willum and Jeremias. There were times when I wanted to yell at Willum because he wasn’t serious when the stakes were high. This shows the level of attachment I had with the characters and how much I had invested into this epic story line. Maya made some decisions that were a little questionable, and I wish she had been a little more honest with her friends, but I understand where she thought she had no choice. I am still not completely sure who the villain is and am looking forward to finding out in the next book.

Dark Days plunges readers into the depths of a complex dark fantasy world that begs to be explored. D.W. Saur sets up intriguing characters that face some enormous challenges, but watching them overcome them is half the fun of this adventure novel. I look forward to reading the sequel when it comes to fruition.

Pages: 278 | ISBN-10: 1646630491

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Don’t get me wrong!

Nix Damon
Nix Damon Author Interview

Moira follows a woman trying to make it through life without being killed by weirdos or aliens and finds help with a surprising person. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?

I have to thank J.M. Barrie and Disney directly for my inspiration. Moira is ripped from the story of Peter Pan and Wendy. Almost every scene is a murmur of something that happens in Peter Pan. Some nods to Peter Pan are obvious and some take a little more imaginative sleuthing. Don’t get me wrong! I love the sweet and gentle Wendy Moira Angela Darling. However, for my own twisted interests, I sliced her up and pieced her into the confused, teenage monster that is Moira Angela Starling. I left her in a desert for a more dramatic twist when she should have been swept up in an enchanted land of mermaids and pirates. I wanted to see Wendy grow up, essentially. But, to do that, she had to be alone and be okay with it.

Moira is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind her character development?

Unfortunately, I don’t have a focused or profound answer! She is in many ways a highly-concentrated version of myself because it was the easiest thing to write. There are elements of my own feelings, topped with lessons I’ve learned through therapy or from scouring my own “inner self.” I let her be a teenager in ways that made me cringe. I let her make me uncomfortable with her language and her behavior, and I even wandered around my house, wondering how she would react to things around me. And then MUSIC! Songs wrote her – not the lyrics, but the combination of instruments and the inflection of voice. Her mood and her personality came to me through sound.

The relationship between Moira and Rafe was enthralling. Was there relationship planned before writing or did it develop organically while writing?

Rafe had always been in the wings and I was hopeful to work their relationship out. I found that the more Moira gained traction in her ordinary life, the more she was empowered to make choices – choices like Rafe! So, I suppose it was wishful planning that worked out organically. Is that dumb? That’s dumb. It was planned, but loosely. I didn’t think it would work out.

This is book one in The Witness Journals. What can readers expect in book two?

Oh, boy. Well, get ready. Book Two leaves Moira and jumps over to the origins of Ravage, Rafe’s foster brother and nearly invisible villain who is actually the coolest, worst dude of all time. The reader will be treated to strong hints of cyberpunk mingled with old earth magic. There will be much human experimentation and fighting for survival, plus the crushing notes of hopelessness and rage. I predict that this book series will wrap up in about seven novels – maybe eight? And each novel gives a glimpse into some part of a character’s life, weaving in and out of Moira’s main storyline, which operates as a kind of treasure map.

Author Links: GoodReads

Moira’s depressing life is interrupted when mysterious tree weirdos attempt to murder her before an ancient jerk named Rafe intervenes to save her life. Oddly attractive (but totally irritating) Rafe eventually makes it his mission to prepare her for any future attacks, claiming that his brother is bent on capturing dear, sweet Moira and using her for unnameable purposes.

Happily, Moira’s life becomes slightly less boring with the rigorous training from Rafe, but she still finds herself struggling to make friends and pay her bills. Keeping boyfriends and eating boiled lizards in the pink salt wilderness is a lot of work when you’re also being told a maniac in space wants to eat your liver and gouge out your eyes. As a result, she is almost always agitated and hitting things (mostly Rafe). Surely, you can see that she is under a great deal of stress.

Will she survive the transition to adulthood and responsibility? She’s got a pretty bad attitude, so probably not.

The Court Of Outcasts

In her latest book, Allison Rose takes us through a roller-coaster of emotions finalizing in a hopeful yet uncertain ending. The Court of Outcasts is a contemporary fantasy novel filled with treachery, betrayal, and a twist of unexpected loyalty. While it begins with the main characters; Nola and Kelty, trying to adjust to their new normal, they are yet to realize how much weirder things could get.

With the introduction of a new foe, everything goes haywire as old enemies become new friends in the pursuit of a common good. Nola, though she looks like an ordinary teenager realizes that she is far from it. Torn between her mundane high school existence and the allure of the mystical faerie world, she embarks on a journey that will eventually force her to choose one of the worlds.

On the other hand, Kelty faces trials of her own. Battling with the uncertainties of her love life and the painful reality that she may never go back home, she has to make difficult decisions about who to trust amid chaos.

While the book does inspire a sense of awe and curiosity, it can be a little hard to follow if you haven’t read the previous book. For instance, the use of mystical language like ara can take a while to wrap your head around. However, the author goes through great lengths to explain foreign concepts in simple terms. She uses a lot of descriptive language to not only explain the woodsy setting of the book but also the emotional and psychological states of the characters.

This book gives you a clear description of both the physical and personality traits of each of the characters. The story begins with gentle explanations and hints about things to come. Yet, little can prepare you for the great plot twists ahead. The story seems to intensify from page to page until it reaches a breathtaking climax. As a reader, I am yet to get the resolution I need and have ended up with great fantasies about what is to happen next.

This is a great motivation to read the sequel if there will be one. Allison has done a phenomenal  job in capturing the emotions between characters and tension in scenes, although more could be done in developing the story of supporting characters like Sayra and Lark. Another aspect that is yet to be fully explored is the romance between Nola and her love interest.

However, I do appreciate that the author could be saving this for the next book. Apart from what is on the surface, there are serious and compelling themes that subtly color the narrative. The ones that truly stand out are the importance of family and sense of belonging and perseverance through dark times. These are themes that I and many others can relate to, and it kept me devouring pages.

Pages: 246 | ASIN: B0851VPMPX

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The Call of Magic

The Call of Magic (The Fool's Journey Book 1) by [A.R. C.]

Emma Lie is already an above-average person, working her way tirelessly to earn herself a scholarship to Harvard, while still finding the time to work 15-20 hours a week at her local coffee shop. But when she discovers what she thinks is a rash on her arm in the shape of a ‘6’ she finds out that her very specific life plan will take a detour.

A run-in with a very handsome mystery man at the coffee shop she works at, who she later finds out is Thies and has the same mark as her, will change her life forever. Emma has been invited to the Institut Le Blanc where she will learn magic and become part of a magical army. But just as she is about to deny her contract and leave this craziness behind, she is pulled through a portal and lands unwillingly at the school.

If you’re looking for a book that is as adventurous as it is fast-paced then you should read The Call of Magic. The thing I loved best about this book is the way it is written. Even though Emma has just graduated from high school, it is not written how some young adult books are. Some authors tend to take the teenager’s way of speaking to a level that is annoying to read, but this book is not at all this way. Which allows it to be read by adults as well as young adults.

As a fan of the Harry Potter series, I found this to be like a college version of it, so if you enjoy Harry Potter as well then you will find this series to be just as engaging. Add in some serious girl power and Emma will take you on a magical ride. Her tough and loyal attitude makes her a great role model to look up to as well. Even though she went through some hard times, she was able to better herself and has always kept a spark of magic alive inside her, no matter how deep down.

While reading you will find yourself fighting alongside Emma, feeling all her frustration, the magic that courses through her veins, and the fight to save her mother, who is now in danger. Don’t think you have to be a lover of the fantasy genre either, this book will appeal to all who love a page-turning, suspense-filled story!

Pages: 370 | ASIN: B088DMGFLJ

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The Warrior Arises

The Warrior Arises: a tale of an unlikely hero (The Light Of Beathra Book 1) by [Holly Sue Ruddock]

The Warrior Arises by Holly S Ruddock is a captivating read. In an enchanted land, surrounded by magic and mystic, a young fairy adopts a special baby fairy. Ginny raises Ruby with all the love she can muster and in turn, despite standing out from her peers, Ruby grows into a young fairy that makes her mother proud. Neither of them could foretell the destiny that awaited Ruby. After all, Ruby had the usual challenges that came with being different to grapple with. Still, when their world is tossed into turmoil, Ruby is marked to play a key role. In fact, her friends, family and their authorities all have their roles to play. The bonds of friendship and family bolster their efforts and give them hope for the future.

The strength of familial bonds is a strong theme that carries through from the very first page to the last. It is demonstrated not only among the main characters Ruby and Ginny but among their friends and their families and their entire community. They deal with threats as a group. Everyone has a role to play, not only in addressing danger but also in keeping their society on track. There is also an emphasis on the characters coming of age. Their actions and thought processes demonstrate growth as the story progresses. This is not only shown in the development of romantic interest but also in the professional pursuits of characters and the choices they are forced to make. These types of thematic layers really humanize the characters in a way that readers can relate to.

Fundamentally, the characters are unique and the world-building deep and intriguing. The action seemed to take place in stops and starts, with some moments of tension building and then seeming to fizzle rather than climax. The reader is also told about a lot of the action rather than shown. However, it could also be said that even in the action and demonstration of evil by destructive forces, the reader is not subject to a complete sense of dread or destruction. Despite this, the world created in The Warrior Arises is an intricately woven backdrop to a story rich in magical realism. The beauty and charm of the creatures and their connectedness to nature evokes a dreamy feel. This is an imaginative start to The Light Of Beathra series that puts Holly S. Ruddock’s creativity on full display.

Pages: 293 | ASIN: B086BMJYBY

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Forging of a Knight: Knighthood’s End

Forging of a Knight: Knighthood’s End by [Hugo V. Negron]

Forging of a Knight: Knighthood’s End is the fifth installment in Hugo V. Negron’s “Forging of a Knight” series.  The book series takes place in a magical, mythical world drawing heavily upon folklore and where numerous societies with feudal systems reside in the greater universe. The series follows the journeys of Qualtan, a knight who wields the powerful and coveted Goldenflame blade, Glaive, his half-orcne best friend and trusted partner, and many other rulers, knights, and creatures with whom they interact in the ongoing fight against the heinous agenda of the Evil Order.  The “Knighthood’s End” installment guides readers on an arguably more personal battle involving Qualtan – the events that transpire as he finds his true love in Vanessa, a Mah-Zakim, and the journey of Qualtan and Vanessa in securing their freedom to love.

This book features many different types of characters and creatures, some common fixtures and other illustrations pulled from the depths of Negron’s vast imagination. The author does a fantastic job at creating the imagery needed for the reader to conjure in mind each of these magical characters and creatures. He displays the same talent for expressing imagery in his illustrations of the different worlds that Qualtan, Glaive, Vanessa, and other characters in the story traverse. The Great Forest, for instance, with its idyllic scenery and woodland creatures roaming about, contrasts greatly with the dark, terrible, and grotesque world of the Mah-Zakim.

The development of the story is done in such a way that, even if the reader was not already familiar with the series, they not left in the dark in regard to former battles or happenings from previous installments and how they play into the current plot. My only comment is that the author could have elicited more emotion and dimension in each character; I found that the characters at times fell too deeply into their respective tropes (ex. Qualtan as the hero, Glaive as the disgruntled but loyal sidekick, and Vanessa as the hopeless lover fighting against herself). The interactions between the characters, along with references to past struggles they have mutually faced, still adequately depict the strong ties that bind the characters to each other; a great example of this bond is the brother-like companionship between Qualtan and Glaive that remains steadfast even during the moments when they have their differences.

Forging of a Knight: Knighthood’s End is overall a great read for anyone who has an interest in a well-written and carefully crafted story where knights, kingdoms, gods, magic, and other elements of folklore rule, with some seeking the greater good and some seeking no benefit outside themselves. The plot of the story is rich and enjoyable, and it should spark reader’s interest in delving into the rest of the series.

Pages: 432 | ASIN: B07DFPM1Q5

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Bound Darkly

Bound Darkly (The Darkly Series Book 2) by [Smith, Tarrant]

5 Stars

Seeing is believing… most of the time. In the case of Sinnie, to see her one would never believe that she is a fairy. For all intents and purposes, Sinnie is strong-willed, highly-trained, woman of confidence and skills. Descending from the Captain of the Queen’s Guard himself, Sinnie has everything she could possibly want and knows where she is headed in life–but something is missing. Much to her family and friends’ chagrin, that something is an unseelie, one of the darkest members of the fairy world. Sinnie’s heart knows what it wants and, unfortunately, her heart wants Hueil.

Bound Darkly, the second in the Darkly series by Tarrant Smith, primarily follows Sinnie, a strong woman and fairy–one of the seelie clan. Sinnie, though a fairy, is battling many of the same feelings as any mortal when it comes to love. She knows what she wants, but is leery of pursuing it for fear of the reactions of others. Like many a mortal woman, Sinnie is attracted to the rebel–the bad boy–and Hueil is, without a doubt, one of the worst. Their story more than makes the book a worthwhile read. The chemistry between the two and the true feelings of love experienced by Hueil are raw and relatable.

Hueil is a well-developed character and appealing in all the wrong ways. Readers will love to hate him and likely grow to understand very quickly Sinnie’s attraction to him as the bad boy. Smith goes to great lengths to make Hueil as colorful as possible and details everything from his exploits to his determination to have Sinnie and to do the job with which he has been tasked.

Jen, another fairy but not Smith’s main focus in this installment, possesses a unique ability that I found to be quite captivating. The emotional shielding Jen is able to demonstrate is an amazing facet of her personality and life as a fairy. Though it is draining and taxing, watching her put it into play is fascinating.

In my opinion, Bound Darkly easily fits into two genres. It is clearly a beautifully crafted work of fantasy with the fairy realm as its primary focus. Warriors and fairies alike have the most unique and stunning powers. Their abilities keep the pace of the book moving and the amount of action in the book is perfect when compared with some books that seem to be overfilled with such scenes. In addition, Smith gives her characters a fair amount of romantic encounters and is especially explicit in detailing their escapades.

Smith has succeeded in offering readers a sequel to Book 1 that is easy to follow for those new to the series. I highly recommend Smith’s second book in the Darkly series to any reader who seeks books with a combination of fantasy and romance.

Pages: 338 | ASIN: B0041OSG66

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A Steampunk Adventure

Ora Wanders Author Interview

Ora Wanders Author Interview

Children of the Elements follows four children as they discover magical abilities only revealed when they come together. What was the inspiration behind the idea for this novel?

I really don’t know where the idea came from. I was super into Harry Potter, and I was seriously just laying on the floor one day and thought of it. When I finally started writing, I had been thinking about it for like two years and slowly building up a story line.

I felt that the characters were well developed and changed with the story. What were some driving ideals behind their characters?

Well, Brenna was the most like me, so she was easy. Dimitri was a lot like my “best friend” at the time. Adara is sort of the person I think I am growing into (my mom totally says so!), and Wyndham is kinda me when I am around new people!

What has been a motivating factor for you to become a young writer and how has your family supported you?

My mom published books that were doing really well, and I was like, “I wanna do that!” Then my mom gave me a copy of her friend’s daughter’s book (The Fairies of Waterfall Island by Emma Sumner who was only eight at the time), and I knew I could do it too!

But my mom kept on me because I get distracted easily. She’s a book editor and owns an editing company, so she helped me plot out the milestones and character arches and helped a LOT with vocabulary and avoiding repetition–like everything ending with “said.” Cuz I do that a lot…

This is book one in a series. Where will book two take readers and when will it be available?

Well, it’s gonna show us life in the Realm of the Gods and why it’s WAY more boring when everything is perfect! Dimitri is the main character in Book Two instead of Brenna. There will also be four new elemental characters (hint: rhymes with schragons!). And there will actually be four books total. With each Devins kid as the protagonist. I finished the rough draft already, but now it’s going through my mom before it goes through the rest of her editing team. Editing Book One took almost six months, so I guess I will be lucky to get it out by the end of this summer (2019), but that’s the goal. I hope to have Books Three and Four done by the end of 2019 too.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website | Instagram

Children of the Elements: A Steampunk Adventure by [Wanders, Ora]

When twin girls, Brenna and Adara, move from posh Victorian England to a humble farmhouse in America, they quickly notice that all is no longer as it seems…

While Brenna has always had an affinity for water and Adara has always loved fire, the girls now discover they have some sort of CONTROL over these elements as well!

They learn how true this is when they meet another set of twins—boys named Dimitri and Wyndham who also live in their new town.

When the four children get together magical things start to happen!

But they aren’t the only ones who know about this power now…

Something sinister has been lurking in the town waiting for the moment the four children finally activate their newfound abilities.

You’ll love this magical steampunk fantasy by a child-author because of the lovable characters and non-stop action!

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