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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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How She Evolved

Sam L. Marshall Author Interview

Sam L. Marshall Author Interview

The Immortal Queen is an epic fantasy novel that finds Earth on the brink of being plunged into chaos by dark forces. What was the inspiration for the setup to this story?

The main starting point for the story came from my childhood. In fact, a portion of the story was written then (before being rewritten by adult me). I spent a fair portion of my childhood holidays on Waiheke Island, in the Hauraki Gulf (North Island of New Zealand). There was a reserve that my grandparents holiday home was nestled against, which largely inspired Arcon. I would sit, with a wonderful view of Mackenzie Reserve all the way down to the bay and get lost in the forest as I built it up in my mind. That little track our family dubbed $2 corner (because my nana found $2 there) became part of the path that lead to the heart of Arcon. From there, I pictured, drew and wrote out what the village – which became a city – looked like. Then ‘She’ appeared. Endya. So, I followed her story, her life and I wrote the good the bad and the ugly. When it came to the pivotal point in the story, there were a lot of other novels and movies floating about of heroic deeds done – heroes saving the day and having a happily ever. But I knew real-life didn’t work like that. Fairy-tales are seldom true, and I also wanted to frame the story in a way that was true to the characters.

The characters in this book were interesting and well developed. What were some driving ideals behind your character development?

I wanted them to be as real as possible – hard when you are dealing with Faeries, Elves, Demons and Gods – but Gods are people too!

For both the major and the not-so-major characters – i.e. some of the Gods. I fleshed them out individually (some more than others). Their power base – for example, how their god-powers have shaped their personalities? What are their wants and needs? How do they feel about this situation? Right down to looks. For some I even wrote up quick dossiers or character sheets. (Being a Role-Player pays off sometimes).

I knew, regardless of how much ‘scene time’ they’d get, if I were writing them, they were being made ‘flesh’. That and I feel you should never leave a character, no matter how small, undeveloped – because you never know when that development is needed. A small character now might be a big character later.

What were some sources of inspiration for you while writing this book?

My first inspiration, other than Waiheke itself, was my uncle’s mother. She was an author here in New Zealand. I knew writing a book would never be easy, but the worlds and characters she created intrigued me. It was absolute pleasure and delight in having her read the first three or so chapters when I was twelve (well before the rewrite!) I remember hovering in her house, admiring the view (a little cove and ocean to the horizon) from her personal little library while she finished up reading the pages – all handwritten! She smiled and told me to keep writing because there was a story there that needed telling. It took many years, but I got it done. Sadly, she passed before she could read the final manuscript.

Robin Hobb’s Liveship Traders trilogy! The Liveship Traders: Ship of Magic (book one) was the first Fantasy novel I ever read. I was an advanced reader as a kid, and I remember wanting to get into the young adult section and every time my attempts were thwarted by the librarian who would kindly guide me back to the children’s section. Then one day I saw this book. It was hardcover, it was massive (in my eyes) and it had a picture of a fearless young lady on it standing in front of a ship. I wanted – no, needed to read that book….and it just so happened that it was on the sale table. I had much delight in standing with mum as she handed the librarian my pocket money and I got to walk out of the library with my prize. I read and reread that book (still own it) as it was years before I could find and finish reading the trilogy. There was something about the main character, her actions, the way she held herself and faced the perils. How she evolved. I guess in a way she inspired the creation of Endya.

Other inspirations ranged from some of my favourite books such Tolkien’s works (if you have Elves in your word, you need to have same knowledge of Tolkien’s work). Tad Williams Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series. And more modern series like Suzanne Collin’s Hunger Games series and Veronica Roth’s Divergent series…and because of the whole shadowy/hidden organisation, Dan Brown’s, Robert Langdon series – which I haven’t even fully read yet!

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

My next book is a complete change from The Immortal Queen. It’s called Astraque. It’s Science Fiction and it takes place in a very cyberpunk/biopunk/technologically advanced but very distorted future. But, as we all know, not all advancements are for the better. It’s about to go into the editing phase and we hope that it will be available sometime next year.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website

The Immortal Queen by [Marshall, S. L.]At the end of her world, a noblewoman steals a precious prize from fate. A goddess rises in the city of Sundregham as invaders from another world sweep in to burn the world to the ground. A young girl from Earth discovers she’s the final piece in a game the gods have been playing for a long time…and failure may mean the end of it all. This is the story of Endya & Elizabeth and their fight against the Darkness. This is the story of the Immortal Queen.

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The Water Kingdom

Kevin James Breaux Author Interview

Kevin James Breaux Author Interview

Three Burning Red Runaway Brides finds Sabrina fighting for her life as she’s trying to save millions of others. How did you envision starting this novel and how did that change as you wrote?

I had a very sturdy thread I was connecting books one and two together with, and that thread only gets stronger with book three.

I wanted to build the story to a place Sabrina had not yet been. She was on top again. The object of desire, a leader—someone people listened to and respected. She was in control, but still had this one obstacle looming in the distance. This one last thing to overcome before she could finally rest and fully enjoy her new status.

I envisioned starting this novel off with a bang… (insert smirk here). And that is exactly how I started it off. (insert giggle here).

This novel did not change much from what I envisioned. The only thing I had to decide, before I got to the end, was how to end it. I had three outcomes in my mind. And juggled them. I wrote three endings and gave them all to my editor and proofreader and a trusted friend. I wanted to see how they felt.

As it turns out, the book ends as I originally envisioned it…with a couple tweaks.

I am happy with this book. It concludes the story of Sabrina while opening the world more and beginning the story of another character. I plan on writing more books. This series, The Water Kingdom, is done. The next books will be in the other Kingdoms: Fire, Air, Earth.

We get to learn more about who Dunyasha is, her past and how she became the cursed undead. Was this something you already had developed or was it something you started exploring in this book?

The elder vampire Dunyasha was always meant to be something more. But I did not know what the was until book two: TWO POLLUTED BLACK-HEART ROMANCES. In book three, I finally spill the beans and reveal it all. At the same time, I leave a little mystery surrounding her, because she will be the focus of the next series.

Dunyasha was fun to write in THREE BURNING RED RUNAWAY BRIDES. In fact, she was more fun to write in this book than the others. In many ways, I am sad to see the “old” Dunyasha go. Or should I say see the “old” Dunyasha back?

What is a scene from the book that was particularly challenging for you to write?

The end. As I said before, I had three versions in my head. One version was much-much longer. And had an entirely different outcome. It was brutal and ugly. But I wasn’t sure readers would enjoy it. It felt right to me, but it was like taking your favorite childhood toy and selling it. Sure, you can use the money for other things you want now, but you might miss that toy and want it back. I was torn. Do I keep that ending or not?

I wrote the three endings. And rewrote them. And edited them. And rewrote them. I picked my favorite and edited it more. Added dialogue. Removed dialogue. I struggled and I normally don’t struggle at writing at all, so I knew it must have been important.

After some feedback and some time to think, I picked an ending and edited and polished it again and again.

I think in the end; my characters are all where they should be. In some ways…many ways, they get what they deserve.

Where will the next book in the series pick up and when will it be available?

This series, The Water Kingdom Series, is done. It was a trilogy. One Smoking Hot Fairy Tail. Two Polluted Black-Heart Romances and Three Burning Red Runaway Brides.

The next series will be another trilogy. The Elemental Kingdom Series. And it will have one book each for the Fire, Air, and Earth Kingdoms. These books will show how the events in the Water Kingdom have rippled across the Elemental world. Each Kingdom will have a story to tell.

I think that will bring it all to an end. But then again, I might write some supplemental short stories.

The next book will not come out until 2020-2021. I will start writing it next year. I am writing the sequel to another book right now, one you reviewed and loved, THE LIFEBLOOD OF ILL-FATED WOMEN. That sequel is long overdue. Not George R.R. long overdue…but still…way late.

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebookWebsite

Three Burning Red Runaway Brides (The Water Kingdom Book 3) by [Breaux, Kevin James]

Sabrina London is back! The fate of the Elemental Kingdoms rests in the hands of its newest ruler: Sabrina London. When last seen, the fairy princess had made a deal with the King of Filth to save the lives of her friends. Now she is fighting to live the life she wants while trying to save the lives of millions. A monster, more dangerous than any other she has overcome threatens both the human and non-human world. How will she restore the balance? Despite the risks, Sabrina enlists the aid of one of her people’s biggest rivals. She has spun a complex web of lies and deception, now trying to gain her freedom, unaware that everyone she allies with has their own plans. 

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