A Chronicle of Rebirth, The Magus, begins when Nelina finds herself being taken to the slavers block by her ruthless uncle who was forced to take her in after her parents die. Now he’s looking for some easy money by selling Nelina into slavery. As fate would have it, Nelina is purchased by the even more ruthless Magus of Danthamore. The Magus is popular and powerful and equally dangerous, but oh so sexy. The chemistry between Nelina and Danthamore is sudden and palpable. Their lives are quickly intertwined and the Magus finds himself taken by this green eyed beauty that many consider to be nothing more than a lucky pauper. Nelina must navigate the resentment of the staff while attempting to be more than a pawn in a deadly political game. Can she survive her new life? What will the Magus have to sacrifice for her?
This book takes care in crafting it’s characters. The protagonist and antagonist are both meticulously developed before the story takes wild twists. The writing is often direct, but the beauty of the prose is found in the details. Do the characters fall ridiculously hard for each other a bit too quickly? Of course they do, because this is a love story that doesn’t focus on how they met, but how they will hold onto what they have. What will they do to keep one another?
We get a good sense of the characters before the story takes some wild turns. You’ll be flipping pages as the story switches between the political intrigue of the kingdom and the steamy romance between Nelina and the Magus. There was one thing that I felt would have improved the story and it’s that the author’s sometimes tell instead of show. There were a few events that I was simply told about when I wish (because I can see the authors have the talent) that I was shown.
What I enjoyed most about this story is the turmoil the characters undergo after they’ve fallen for one another. You keep asking yourself, ‘how far will they go’? I think stories are often character driven, but I think this book is a relationship driven story.
If your looking for a romance novel underlined with suspense and punctuated with adventure than A Chronicle of Rebirth: The Magus is for you. A well written novel that begs to be expanded upon.
Pages: 343 | ASIN: B072511ZWY
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Wrath of the Fallen is an epic fantasy novel detailing the ferocious clash of angels and demons. What was your inspiration for this story and how did it change as you were writing?
This story has been kicking around in my head for some time. As much as I enjoy the human machinations of stories like Game of Thrones, I really like battles between good and evil as a larger construct over the human element in a story. I crafted this mythology over several years, drawing inspiration from some of my own beliefs, and cobbled them together with different failed story ideas that I came up with as far back as when I was in High School. The opening Prologue, for example, started as a scene from a story set in an entirely different world, but I eventually reworked it to be the jumping off point for this one.
Early in my college career, I was a dishwasher at a restaurant. I worked graveyard, and as you can imagine, I didn’t have a lot to do mentally from the hours of 9 PM-4AM so I started to craft this world in my head to pass the time. I came up with the history of the Mortal Plane, starting over a thousand years before Wrath of the Fallen, and continued it some two thousand years past that first novel with multiple other story ideas that I hope to get to someday. Overall, the initial planning of the world took place over several years, while the actual writing of Wrath took place over roughly two.
The characters in this book are well written and easy to visualize. What were some obstacles in your story that you felt were important for the characters development?
I ran into the issue when crafting the story of making the characters too black and white. I didn’t want to fall into the trap where Trent was always likable and never did anything good, and I wanted to make sure that the antagonist was somewhat sympathetic. The hard part about overcoming this was the good vs. evil divide that was built into the very fabric of the world. This is why I felt that it was important to give Trent his anger issues and resentment towards his father based on what happened in his past. I actually didn’t have him meet his dad in the first draft, but on the rewrite, I knew that adding that scene would give Trent a more realistic and humanistic characterization. Trauma, especially in childhood, fundamentally changes a person, and I wanted what happened to Trent to reflect that. Too many of the orphan chosen-one archetypal heroes are good people through and through and are too well adjusted for my taste. On the opposite side of the spectrum, I wanted to make sure that I gave the villain, even being an evil god, a real human motivation, so I picked what might be the strongest one out there: revenge. He couldn’t just be evil for the sake of being evil, but because he was also defined by trauma.
The backstory and mythology of this story, I can tell, was developed with a lot of thought and care. How did you set about creating the rich background for this story?
As I mentioned earlier, I started coming up with the history while washing dishes. Most of the world is still in my head, though I am finally typing it up into a series bible that I can refer back to. I also laid out an illustrated timeline on my website to allow others to see what the history of the world is leading into the Broken Pact Trilogy, which really helped me pin down specific dates for events that I was fuzzier on in the beginning.
I follow the history through storytelling method of worldbuilding. I would rather write a novel, novella or short story that details a historical event in my world and allow readers to learn the full details that way than writing out a detailed pseudohistory for them to pore over and wonder about. Those certainly have merit, and I enjoy reading them myself, but as a writer, I would much rather tell a story than write a history book.
This is book one in The Broken Pact series. Where does book two pick up and take readers?
Book two will be titled Cries of the Forsaken. It picks up immediately after the events of Wrath, and even a little bit before the final chapters to show us what happened to certain characters that we weren’t previously following. Some heroes that we thought dead return and some that we hoped survived do not. One of the themes of the next novel is good destroying good and evil destroying evil, so be prepared to see the conflict between the gods turned on its head.
The Mortal Plane has long been divided among the servants of Light and Darkness, suffering a thousand years of atrocity by both sides. When one god finally rose up and slew another, The Pact was formed, forestalling any further damage to the realms of men. But now, over the last few decades, signs of the Demons and their mindless Accursed minions have dwindled to an all-time low. It seems that after a thousand years of conflict the Gods of Light and the Gods of Darkness have finally tired of the bloody war. Or have they?
It falls to Trent, a Paladin of the Light with a soul torn with an impossible and unrequited love for his commander and scarred by a childhood filled with despair and pain, to travel beyond the walls of the city to discover what has become of humanity’s ancestral enemy. Only with his closest friend Devin by his side can Trent hope to keep from losing himself. Together the two men track a horde of Demons to a secret that will rock the Mortal Plane to its very foundations.
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The Guardians of Eastgate by Sherry Leclerc, is a classic fantasy tale. Maelona Sima is one of four champions of the race named seers. As a champion Maelona is tasked with protecting one of the four keystones that protect the realm of Sterrenvar from evil. When an evil sorcerer rises up, seeking to enslave the peoples of Sterrenvar, Maelona at the keystone at Eastgate is the first line of defense. But will the prejudice and oppression against the seer people work against her? Maelona teams up with a human prince, Gareth, and a wolf shapeshifter, Blaez, but the question remains, will it all be enough to stave off this tide of darkness?
Leclerc’s book is a fantastic fantasy novel accented with the inevitable threat of evil and darkness confronted by a ragtag group of “heroines and heroes”. Since this is the first book in a series there is a sense that there is plenty more story to come. There is something for everyone though, between world building, action and romance between Maelona and Blaez. Leclerc’s writing is easy to follow and the book itself is not long, just under 200 pages.
The “choppiness” of Leclerc’s chapters left more to be desired, since they seem to cut in every four to five pages. This tended to throw me off more than kept me turning pages. Because chapters can be natural stopping points I wanted the book to take advantage of longer more engaging chapters rather than serving all of the good parts up so quickly.
It was an interesting choice to make a standard figure of fantasy, the seer, into an entire race of people who are guardians. In some ways, it makes sense based on their foresight abilities but I felt like the race needed to have more depth, which could easily be built in the coming books. The Guardians of Eastgate is brimming with potential that should be brought to fruition but is hampered by the short narrative arc. The next book should prove to be more exciting if such world building continues to be developed and deepen the point of view of the characters there in.
Readers will enjoy this novel for how technically well written it is. Wait for the next installment because this story is begging to be expanded.
Pages: 165 | ASIN: B07579TCBC
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Bitter Awakenings is the first book from an up and coming author Kester Finley. With fantastically creative writing right from the get go and a unique tone that is quickly set from the very first chapter. The book does a lot to show Kester’s enormous potential.
The plot follows Truddie Mae Watts, a woman with supernatural backing and purpose. Truddie is a ‘keeper’, a woman chosen to protect and guard the ‘veil’ between our world and what lies beyond it. Truddie is seemingly immortal, inhabiting the body of a young girl while she uses her supernatural powers to protect the veil. The story starts with her peacefully spending time at home without worry, until the veil, and all the keepers who protect it, come under threat from an occult force who hungers to see her and all keepers dead. Truddie is forced out of her peaceful existence and into a world ending scenario.
Kester Finley does a fantastic job of setting the scene and establishing expectations for the rest of the book from chapter one by setting up the books dark supernatural undertones from the moment you start reading.
The plot seemed to bounce around a bit, leaving me confused at times. On the other hand, the premise is rather unique and executed very well. Kester has a fantastic writing style that dives into deep detail and explains almost everything with incredible craftsmanship that serves as an example of the author’s skill and the vividness with which he has imagined his world.
This first installment sets a firm foundation from which should come a rich story with vibrant characters. Even with this book being paranormal all the characters felt human, with real personalities behind them and dialogue that felt natural, which is a skill even some bigger authors lose. The characters were my favorite, with the banter and inside jokes, I could easily relate.
Bitter Awakenings is a fantastic first installment that paints a vivid picture of a imaginative world. The writing is fluid and descriptive, and the characters are well constructed.
Pages: 504 | ASIN: B073YG2NQP
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Jason Hubbard’s new series starts out with The Legend of the Three Roses. This story puts on display the fascinating journey of a young magician’s apprentice named Kane and a female assassin named Callie. Callie has been hired to assassinate the insane king Hugo who is planning to start a war. Callie fails to assassinate the king but manages to escape dragging Kane with her as ransom. After an unfortunate turn of events Kane ends up on the king’s most wanted list. Callie meanwhile has her own troubles running from a crazy assassin. Together they end up narrowly escaping death more than once.
One of the most fascinating and enthralling aspects about this book was the setting. It was a captivating reinvention of a medieval city. The old city structure with the different rings based on class, the description of the towers, streets and shops, all keep in line with traditional medieval style. I enjoy fantasy involving magic that is believable, so getting details on how mages worked in this story was fascinating and lends a bit of realism to the story. Hubbard goes into detail explaining the potions that mages need to consume in order to do magic.
Kane and Callie’s characters, while a bit flat in the beginning, develop into dynamic characters that you connect with after the first half of the novel. Both went from immature and impulsive to strong, reliable, and determined. There was a definitively dark streak in the book while dealing with some of the inner rim crime rings that I found fascinating as a contrast to Kane’s more puritan attitude.
One thing that was odd for me was how vague the point of the story is. The title is The Legend of the Three Roses however aside from the mystery of trying to figure out what they are, we learn nothing about them. But this being the first in the series, I’m sure we’ll be learning more about this in future novels.
Overall The Legend of the Three Roses by Jason Hubbard is an enchanting and gripping introduction to what I suspect is going to be a riveting series. Having read other works by Hubbard I think this will live up to my expectations in the next novel.
Pages: 509 | ASIN: B072MFGJLM
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Deity’s Soulmate follows a young goddess Gardenia as she sets out to create a better universe than the one mankind is in. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?
The initial idea for the story actually didn’t blossom in book 1. I first started writing book 3 where Gardenia was banished by an evil sorcerer and a young man had to hunt down talismans to get her back so the war would end. After finishing half of book 3, I realized that my title- Gardenia’s Castle wasn’t of interest. Why should people care about her castle? Who is Gardenia? So the idea was born to show her beginning.
Deity’s Soulmate went through many drafts and two editions before I was satisfied with it. Characters have been added, conflicts had changed, and illustrations have helped transform the story into what it is now in the second edition.
Gardenia is a complex and deep character. How do you capture the thoughts and emotions of a goddess type character?
By making her human-like. I wanted Gardenia to be young, naive and it helped that I started working on her character in high school when I was young and naive, but only published it as a young adult. As I grew up so did my character. There was admittedly a long break where I didn’t think about her and so I was able to have a new outlook when I returned to her story.
It also helped that I wanted her to grow up along the way and meet characters that would complement her, mainly the dragons. I believe that the dragons were able to bring out her character the best.
This is a stellar second edition of Deity’s Soulmate. What were some things you wanted to change in this second edition?
Thanks to one of my editors, I realized that I needed to create more conflict. She told me to work on conflict for both of my published works so I thought for awhile on how to do that with Deity’s Soulmate. The conflict with the Fates happens in book 2 which I couldn’t really bring out in book 1 so I added Hera and her daughter. I, honestly couldn’t believe that I didn’t have Hera in the first book and adding her had been a great addition.
I also wanted to make the romance more realistic by adding an infatuation for Gardenia. My mother always told me that first relationships always fail and that’s a good thing because one needs to have a first relationship in order to succeed in the relationships that’s for forever so I added a young man into the story for Gardenia to like and I believe that helped her complexity.
Those two additions helped the story line and added little bits and pieces all over the second edition to make it great.
What are some of you sources of inspiration as a writer?
People, cats, and random objects. The two people that really inspired me to keep going with their honest feedback were the two editors (Kali and Laura). They were never afraid to tell me that I lacked elements in my stories which is important for an author. They pushed me forward and I will always be thankful to them.
My cats are amazing. They tend to be around when I write and one look at one of them makes my heart soar. They help to calm the storm whenever I’m lacking in inspiration and push me forward.
I have a collection of dragon figurines and those helped bring the dragons alive in Deity’s Soulmate. My sister, the artist was able to take elements of different figurines to create Ri, the dragon on the cover. She was able to see the scales of artmanship and bring Ri to life.
Also, sometimes inspiration comes from just holding a regular notebook with a pen. When I was waiting for my sister to try on clothing at a store, I sat on a chair and tapped my pen on my notebook surfacing an idea for my current work in progress – Into the Flames.
A sheltered schoolchild in a realm of condescending gods and goddesses, Gardenia goes to Earth on a dare to witness the unsavory side of mankind for herself. Believing she can do better, she undertakes the formation of an entire galaxy, but without permission from Zeus.
Zeus disciplines her by assigning an epic 13-fold creational lesson destined to take her a century to complete. But he is taken aback once more when she makes an odd choice. She vows to fulfill this knowledge quest by tracking down a lost race of dragons, and discovering the secrets they’ve kept since time began.
Searching the universe to meet even one dragon may be a fool’s errand, but that’s the least of her worries. For ancient wartime resentments linger between the nations of dragons and deities, and some dragons would attack Gardenia on sight!
Yet she ventures out undaunted, learning unexpected things about nomadic life, tender love, and mortal peril along the way. The biggest surprise of all, though, goes by the name of Ri. Ri may be the man of her dreams, the voice in her head, the dragon she’s seeking, or all these things and more…
Meanwhile, the Fates brew sordid plans of their own and Hera jealously sets traps and trials for Gardenia at every chance. What’s a young goddess to do? Flight or fight?
Posted in Interviews
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The Battle of Barkow tells the tale of dark vs light, good vs evil, from a world where magic is not all bad, and religion is not all good. He takes readers into the mind of his characters and through them shows the good and bad of society. In the words of Paul Simmonds, “Two men will embark on a journey that will change their lives forever, if there is a forever at all. For in the world that they live it is not named nor is it entirely different from that of our own early world” (Simmonds: prologue). The characters are intricate and plagued by the same assemblage of emotions as any other person; kindness, compassion, greed, hate, bigotry and evil. This superb confluence leaves you wondering who is going to come out on top in this novel, the simple man of God, the magician, the girl that doesn’t speak, or the dark forces that are mounting?
The story starts out with a man, hidden in a cloak speaking with an elderly woman. No names are used, but it is clear the women is a sorceress and he is there for her assistance. He is angry, he feels he has been wronged by others and denied his rightful riches and power, this woman offers him the vengeance he so greatly desires, but warns the price he will pay will be high. While she does not disclose the price, it is implying that it will not be all together pleasant for the man, but he hesitantly agrees desiring his vengeance over all else. From here the story jumps 125 years later. We meet Bolan, a simple man of God. He takes no excessive pride in his status and simply ponders life as it comes, he does not dwell too much on the past or the future. He agrees to take on an assignment for the church delivering holy books to the neighboring towns. With him goes his longtime friend and magician in training Hogarth. Hogarth can do simple magic but longs to learn more, to become something great in world that will make a difference. It is on this journey that they meet Sterre, the young women that does not speak but communicates in a form of sign language and drawings. Sterre has the gift of visions and has predicted a great danger to the city of Barkow. Barkow is the capital of sorts for this world, it is where the Pope lives and where all their laws begin. Towns outside of Barkow are not as strict as in the holy city. Bolan, Hogarth and Sterre travel to the city of Barkow to warm them of the impending trouble that Sterre has foreseen. While they are traveling to the city, the dark forces are also headed there as well. They have no names to start, as readers we only see their evil and destruction, wiping towns out, stripping them of all life leaving no one alive to bear witness to what has happened.
The journey that these three take brings them in contact with many others, some are willing to help fully, others offer veiled advice. Some are strong war heroes that have their own battles to fight but ultimately must decide between their own personal gains or the greater good. We are left looking at a vast cross section of people whose characteristics could be anyone in modern society. In The Battle of Barkow Simmonds is able to show us that their may be darkness in us, but being good is a choice, and often times we fall somewhere in between.
Pages: 240 | ASIN: B06XK7YDBX
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Stealing Magic follows three characters as their worlds collide and they must help each other. Earth’s trees carry all the magic that the residents of Androva are trying to harvest. Where did the idea of harvesting magic from trees come from and how did that help you write the rest of the story?
Great question! The idea of magic-taking, or harvesting magic, came first, and then I needed to find a believable source of that magic. I live in the South of England, at the end of a street that’s completely ordinary, apart from the ancient woodland next to it. ‘Ancient woodland’ in the UK means that the trees have been around since at least 1600. It’s easy to imagine there could be something magical about trees that old.
It helped to balance the rest of the story. Although Earth didn’t have any magicians, it did have a lot of powerful magic. If anything were to happen to that supply of magic, it could (and eventually does) cause enormous problems for everyone.
Shannon is from Earth and learns of her magical abilities when Jax and Darius go to Earth to harvest magic. What were some aspects of these character that you felt had to be different and some aspects that you felt had to be the same?
I loved writing all three characters, but especially Shannon. She’s just an ordinary teenager, until she touches some of the magic that Jax is harvesting. She has no idea what she’s capable of. I needed Shannon, Jax and Darius to have quite distinct personalities, not just to keep the story moving forwards, but to give them each the chance of learning something different from their adventure.
However, I wanted them to be friends, and to trust each other. Making them close in age, having them be honest with each other, and also able to have fun together, was important for that.
Some of the key themes in this book are loyalty, family bonds, trust and letting go of the past. Do you feel that these were important ideals to write about or did they happen organically as you were writing?
The loyalty and trust, and the bonds of family and friendship, were important right from the start. All the excitement of discovering magic could seem pretty meaningless otherwise. And of course, the characters can only overcome their challenges if they work together. Everyone has a part to play.
The idea of letting go of the past happened more organically. It became obvious as I was writing that the adults in the story allowed the past to shape their current decisions in a way that the teenagers didn’t. I ended up exploring what was good and bad about that.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will that book be published?
I am about to start writing the fifth book in the series. The fourth book, Controlling Magic, will be published at the end of December 2016. Shannon’s friend Penny is now a main character alongside the other three underage magicians, and this time they’re up against an enemy who can turn their magical ability into a disadvantage. Each of the four books has a self-contained story, as I can’t quite bring myself to write a cliff-hanger!
What would you do? Would you open your eyes, if you were the one that heard them? Two magic-takers from another world, arguing about whether they can collect what they came for before you wake up. It sounds like a crazy dream, or a practical joke. But what if the air around you started to vibrate with an invisible force field? What if, all at once, it felt terrifying yet familiar too?
You would have no way of knowing that your life would change forever. That this discovery would set you on a path no-one from our world has taken for centuries. Towards a deadly enemy, and a fight that you will almost certainly lose. All you know is that your heart is beating so fast you’re worried they will hear it, and your brain is starting to buzz as the force field reaches it. Would you open your eyes?
Join Jax and Shannon as they live through the most exciting and terrifying ten days of their lives (so far). This is the first book in the Legacy of Androva series.
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When a rich gentleman finds a beautiful young woman lying in the snow, on the brink of death, he takes her back to his house and, when she has recovered, employs her as a maid.
It had magic, romance, family drama, and hot sex. Needless to say, this story was right up my alley! At first I found the relationship between Anthony and Elira a bit rushed, but the more I read the more I could see the beauty in it. When he asked her ‘What scares you the most?’ I was flooded with memories of when I first found out I was pregnant with our oldest when she responded with ‘getting pregnant’.
Inexplicably drawn together, they begin a tentative romance.
When he said he loved her and she didn’t have to say it back because her knowing how he felt was enough, my heart melted. He was so sure of their future that he would wait for her to be ready to say the words. From the moment he lifted her out of the snow and brought her to his home you knew there was something there. Every glance. Every touch. Every second they were in the same room together seemed to burn with the heat between them.
Elira did not make things easy for him nor for herself as she fought against falling for him. Although we all knew that it was a losing battle. Them both talking about their families was very touching. When she stopped him from killing his brother even though he had every right to do so showed her compassionate human nature. Even though she fought him at every turn, having her ask him to marry her was awesome. Her responding to him asking where she wanted to go by saying anywhere as long as it was with him was perfect.
Aside from those characters I also loved Moira. I want a cook or housekeeper exactly like her. She wasn’t afraid to tell them what she thought. Her and Han were a great addition to the story. She reminded me of an old babysitter of mine when I was younger. Very caring and loyal while still minding her own business when she had to. Han being a beginner magician and having Anthony there to help was cute.
In conclusion I give this story a 5 star rating. No way would I have given it anything less. I think I found my new favorite author. I’m going to have to look around for more books by M.L. Sparrow. What a very talented author. The characters and events were very relate-able and as realistic as characters and events in a story can be. I look forward to reading more from this author.
Pages: 249 | ISBN: B016SBJ9X8