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The Silver Helmet

Set in the fierce world of Vikings, The Silver Helmet by George Lyttle is a story that touches on subjects such as family bonds, morality of leadership and betrayal. Banished from the lands ruled by Viking Earl, two feuding families, the Godrons and the Caltons, are sent to exile in the lands on either side of the Redron Sea. The Godrons manage to sustain a peaceful lifestyle within their community, but live in constant fear of another attack from the vicious and war-prone Caltons. On one of these frequent attacks on their civilization, the Godrons find and take home an infant that is raised as one of their own, which will alter the destiny of both clans forever.

Author George Lyttle transports the reader into the gritty world of Vikings with two feuding civilizations, one being ruled in peace and the other in war. This feels metaphorical and allows for the reader to decide which mentality and set of values they resonated with best.

The main characters, Savon and Bradnor, have continuous tension throughout the story which kept me engaged. Savon, the child originally born of the Calton clan, was never accepted by Bradnor as one of his own, and that tense conflict gave the story a healthy level of intrigue and momentum throughout the book.

I enjoyed the arc of the storyline, when Savon comes into his own and decides which of the two civilizations he wants to be a part of, along with realizing his destiny in the form of the illusive and sought after Silver Helmet. The push and pull for the Helmet was the main reason why I was so interested in the story, and the reason why I kept wanting to pick this book up.

While I enjoyed this grounded sword and sandal epic I would have liked to have had more dialogue between the characters rather than using narration to show the relational complexities and character evolution. I would have liked the text to have expanded upon conversations and the emotions within the characters because I found them to be very compelling.

The Silver Helmet is a rousing fantasy story that I had a lot of fun reading. Readers who enjoy a sophisticated story that weaves in and out of Viking myth and legend will enjoy this exciting novel.

Pages: 145 | ASIN:

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A Few Hidden Messages

Anne E. Beall Author Interview

Cinderella Didn’t Live Happily Ever After, is an in-depth analysis of fairytales and how women are portrayed and treated in comparison to men. Why was this an important book for you to write? 

It’s an important topic because fairy tales are among some of the first stories we learn as children, and these stories are told and re-told in many books and movies. Even modern novels sometimes put forward versions of these fairy tales where the female heroine finally gets her “prince”—the high-status man who has wealth and status. Because these tales are so ubiquitous, it’s important to unpack them and really understand what they’re saying.  They have quite a few hidden messages.

What were some ideas that were important for you to share in this book?

One thing that I wanted to get across was that male characters are largely powerful, active, good people. In contrast, female characters tend to be weak, passive, and powerless. And when female characters are powerful, they are often evil. This idea of a powerful woman generally being evil concerns me because it may set us up to be wary of women who have ascended to powerful positions in our society. 

What do you hope is one thing readers take away from reading your book?

I want people to really question whether the fairy tale life is desirable. I found that female royalty has very little power and are the most unhappy. Queens cry more than any other character, and princesses are terribly treated—imprisoned, kidnapped, etc. Marrying the prince or king has some tremendous disadvantages in fairy tale land, but that is put forward as the ultimate goal.

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

My next book is called Only Prince Charming Gets to Break the Rules: Gender and Rule Violation in Fairy Tales and Life. It’s an analysis of fairy tales and folktales from around the world and I learned in my research that male and female characters are treated differently when they break rules in stories. Men are often rewarded or unpunished, whereas women are punished very severely. In fact, one-third of them are executed! I draw parallels with modern life where I found that men and women are treated differently when they break rules. For example, men and women in the legal, financial, and medical fields are given very different punishments for the same behaviors. I hope to have that published later this year or early next year.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Did Cinderella live happily ever after? One might think so until you look more closely at the hidden messages in beloved fairy tales. In Cinderella Didn’t Live Happily Ever After, fairy tales are analyzed in terms of the underlying messages about marriage, agency, power, suffering, and good versus evil, with a focus on how male and female characters differ in each of these areas. The analysis is a data-driven approach that provides clear evidence for the hidden messages in these beloved tales. The end conclusion is not whether fairy tales are good or bad but rather what messages they deliver about life, even if unintentionally.

Fall of Titan

H. G. Ahedi’s novel Fall of Titan is the beginning of a sci-fi epic mostly taking place within range of the perimeter, a shield built by the spacefaring humans near Saturn to protect Earth. Constructed after, a comet named Nemesis impacts Earth and decimates the population.

The perimeter is the location where humanity makes violent first contact with an alien species dubbed the Orias. However, this becomes a much-needed shield when the humans realize the extent and power of the Orias fleet.

The space station Titan watches over the perimeter, and while the command crew faces the political ramifications caused by the appearance of the Orias, Emmeline, a young astrophysicist, strikes out with her friend, Delta, to unlock the secrets of a mysterious plaque handed down through generations in her family.

Author Ahedi immediately thrusts the reader into the action, instantly capturing the reader’s attention. Even though the book starts off with a bang, I felt it was hard to follow all of the characters’ names that the reader is introduced to within the first few pages. However, once past the opening chapter or two, the book’s pace does slow down and becomes a smoother read.

The author has created a compelling plot filled with tension as we follow Emmeline’s quest to unlock the plaque’s mysteries. This quest forms the centerpiece of the novel. The author seamlessly transitions from different character perspectives during the events on Titan station, allowing the reader to understand the emotions and thoughts of each character. Some you will be rooting for, and others not so much. H.G. Ahedi manages to fit a lot into only a few hundred pages, and all of it drives the plot forwards to its culmination in an explosive ending that does leave you wanting to know what happens next.

Fall of Titan is an epic science fiction novel with paranormal fantasy elements that keep readers on edge. This first contact series takes off with a compelling mystery taking the protagonist and readers on an adventure with lots of action as different races battle for dominance in the galaxy.

Pages: 295 | ASIN : B085BPMPWN

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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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Screaming for Pleasure

Screaming for Pleasure by S.A. Bradley is a chilling book about the genre of horror. Bradley talks about all the physical and psychological benefits of experiencing horror for entertainment purposes. The author writes in a conversational tone and recollects events from his life that made him fall in love with horror. From his “First Kiss” with horror to dealing with the trauma of death, this book covers a lot of diverse themes about horror while including various anecdotes from the author’s life.

Children are fascinated with the forbidden; the thrill of seeing their first actual horror movie gets them hooked. From there, they seak out more thrills and scares. The societal conditions changing what we view as taboo or scary, advancements in technology, and special effects, have shaped how the author consumed horror movies. This personal and anecdotal nature of the writing gives readers an engaging and intimate experience as if they were sitting down with Bradley having a discussion.

One feature of this intriguing book is that the author talks about several movies that have come to define the genre, which serves as a great list of recommendations for anyone who wants to dive into the horror genre after reading this book. The author does a great job at striking the perfect balance between describing these classics enough to be able to talk about them but not so much as to give out any spoilers.

This thought-provoking book is not an academic analysis of the topic; instead, it is meant to spark an educated debate. It also serves as an introduction to those that may have shied away from horror in the past and gets them to look more deeply into horror as an art form, not just screams and scary monsters.

Screaming for Pleasure: How Horror Makes You Happy and Healthy is a psychological look into the genre from the perspective of societal norms and expectations to personal encounters and analysis. Readers that are interested in the history of horror and the role it has played in the entertainment industry will find this a fascinating book.

Pages: 290 | ASIN : B07HVHMQDW

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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?

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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Letters From Atlantis: The Legend of Parakos

Pleistocene – The Legend of Parakos is the debut novel by J.P Conrad and tells a story spanning millennia. It begins with the fall of Atlantis thousands of years ago and catches up with us in the 21st Century. Pleistocene starts with an ending, the destruction of Atlantis. Conrad paints Atlantis as a hyper-advanced civilization, much more advanced than we are today. Conrad doesn’t take much time to explain their technology, but one thing soon becomes apparent. Like modern society, they have become overly dependent on a single power source.

Despite multiple warnings, the Atlanteans have doomed themselves to self-destruction through their own greed. We witness this destruction through the eyes of Avis, a 12-year-old boy whose uncle (and guardian) is one of the engineers working on the said power source. Through Avis, we are also introduced to the Elvanelans, another hyper-advanced people whose technology is more akin to magic. Just as we are becoming acquainted with Avis, the book jumps ahead 12 thousand years and introduces us to Keats, a scientist in the 21st Century. The rest of the book follows Keats’ race against time to avert the environmental destruction looming over the modern world. During his journey, we discover more and more connections between the modern-day crisis and what happened to Atlantis thousands of years ago.

Conrad is clearly an environmentalist at heart, and the whole novel reads as a warning of what happens when society fails to look after the environment. Conrad is successful in his goal; the book is bound to make you think. Keats is in a race against time to save the world, which is reflected in how Conrad writes.

The narrative is speedy, breathless almost. Conrad rarely slows down to explain what is going on before Keats (and the reader) are thrown headlong into the following dire situation. This fast-paced action effectively instills in the reader that this is a race against time with high stakes. There are a lot of jumps in perspective as the author ties the two time periods together in the beginning. The jumps allow the reader to make the connections between the modern-day destruction of resources and the downfall of Atlantis.

Letters From Atlantis: Pleistocene – The Legend of Parakos is an exciting read with interesting ideas. If you like a fast-paced adventure, enjoy science fiction or care about the environment, then this is worth a read.

Page: 346 | ISBN : 1637671555

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