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The Onryō

The Onryo (The Onryo Saga Book 1) by [Ryg, Rocco]

“Japanese teenager Chikara Kaminari, while heartbroken by the death of her mother, inherits a strange black ring. Her mother’s will tells her to share it with her best friend, Renka, and a socialist student named Gen, so that they can save the world from political fanatics. Guided only by cryptic clues yet honor bound to obey her mother, Chikara does as she’s told. As the three develop extraordinary abilities, including emotional manipulation and control over darkness, they set out to uncover the origin of the ring and its connection to their mind-controlling school bully, Michiko.

Their destiny becomes clearer as Michiko’s power grows beyond her control, setting a classmate on a murderous rampage. As predicted, dangerous extremists appear, seeking to use the ring’s power to force their political views onto all of humanity. Chikara and her friends must put aside their partisanship and become the heroes they were destined to be.”

4 Stars

The Onryō by Rocco Ryg is a science fiction fantasy set in Japan. It is reminiscent of a traditional manga where teenagers are the main characters and take on heroic roles with outlandish situations. Some of the outlandish situations include the supernatural elements that writers often feature in Japanese manga and their other works. The book follows the main character, Chikara, through mostly a third person point of view. You get to see the thoughts of Chikara along with other people who she comes in contact, which is vital. Additionally, the main character makes exponential growth from beginning to end.

The first line of the book immediately draws you in. The writing of the book comes off as a very well done first draft that could use a bit of reviewing. Some of the emotions are not explored much, there were minimal grammatical mistakes, and there was one instance in which what was explained did not match what was said beforehand. The writing style increasingly gets better as you continue reading it. As such, it could have done with a bit more reviewing before publishing, but it does not keep one from enjoying the book.

You can tell from reading it that the person is a fan of Japanese cultures, as it reads like someone who knows about the culture and admires it rather than from an individual who was born in Japan. But again, it does not keep you from enjoying the book. The author was clearly influenced by their love of manga, as it was mentioned throughout. Additionally, there were many manga elements within the book, such as focusing on teenage girls, supernatural powers, and teenage romance

The plot of the book was interesting, but a little slow moving. However, it picked back up toward the end. The written action parts are genuinely some of my favorite scenes of the book. The supernatural elements are fascinating and the way it was incorporated not only made sense, but it is an exciting read. Although, the book did have stereotypical women in some places, it still led to some intriguing plot developments and character clashes.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys manga, Japanese culture, and action. It contains much fast-paced action, which is exciting. I can only expect the sequel to be better than the first as the writing and character development of the story improves as it goes on, making any future works by the author promising. The ending of the book, while slow to build, was fantastic. I loved the ending and the change in the main character. It made me want to read the sequel.

Pages: 237 | ASIN: B0058KSKHW

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The Inlooker

The Inlooker: Full Length5 Stars

It all starts with a dead cat. Thomas Beckon is a father of two daughters, a husband to a kind, happy woman named Pat, an IT Manager, and a seemingly nice man who many fondly refer to as “Tommy.” His life changes when his daughter’s cat dies, and he realizes that the dead cat’s soul temporarily inhabits the body of another cat in the house. It’s always been his belief that even the smallest creatures have souls, so this discovery intrigues him more than it surprises him. His curiosity leads him to attempt a soul transfer of his own, taking over the body of the remaining cat. After much struggle, he’s successful.

This early success gives him the confidence to move on to humans. He comes to believe that he’s trained his entire life, through his interactions with his co-workers and his ability to understand them, to take on the role of Inlooker. An Inlooker is an immortal supernatural being which has the power to take over the souls of others. Beckon works to enhance these powers, not just reading souls and manipulating his own, but taking control of other people, body and soul.

He starts out using this power for what he believes is “good,” but even his idea of good is twisted around his own self-interests. He moves from doing “good” to purposely doing evil. As Beckon explores his abilities and learns the extent of his power, he will face many enemies, the strongest one of all, himself and his baser instincts. When the future of the world and humanity hangs in the balance, the question for him becomes: can he overcome his greed and hunger for power and chose to utilize his superpowers for the greater good?

Set mostly in England and written by a British author, The Inlooker has a distinctly English voice with a dry sense of humor readers often find in British mystery novels. I enjoyed the voice most of all. It’s humorous, dark, clear, and ironic. At first, I didn’t like the narrator’s intrusions into the story, but I soon grew used to them and enjoyed the quirky voice very much.

The author, Terry Tumbler, is able to move around in time without confusing the reader and without making unnatural or abrupt scene changes. I like the way he reveals Thomas’ true nature slowly, first showing us how he became the Inlooker, and then backtracking to illustrate how he was kind of always an Inlooker, or at least an Inlooker-in-training. His skills didn’t just appear in an act of God type of moment; rather, they were always evolving, always building until the moment when he took over the cat.

This idea of latent powers is further explored when Thomas uses his powers selfishly and heartlessly. Early in the book, I was reminded of the quote by Sir John Dalberg-Acton: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” I at first believed that ultimate power corrupted Thomas, but as the story went on, I realized that self-centeredness and the lack of conscience he displayed always existed within him. Societal norms, familial pressures, and office etiquette had served to control his baser instincts, but once Thomas achieved absolute power, he no longer needed to work within those parameters, so he didn’t. In an ever-evolving world that grows more complicated with an alien invasion, Thomas must decide if dominating the world or saving the world is his ultimate destiny.

I like the format of the book, specifically the short chapters and the descriptive chapter titles. Both kept the story moving at a steady pace. My own personal preference would be for the book to end with Chapter 25 and to not include the Addendum and the five Reference chapters. Beckon does a splendid job in Chapter 25 of wrapping up all the major themes and storylines of the book in a satisfying, yet unexpected way. Readers who like to dive in deeper and learn all the ins and outs will likely enjoy the evolution of the story in the remaining sections.

Pages: 350 | ASIN: B00VVCVEZ6

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Another Self

Another Self (Our Eternal Curse #1)3 Stars

Another Self throws us into the life of a girl who has been broken of all spirit and self-esteem, and we’ve very often reminded of that. Perhaps that is why this extremely strange story catapults us through Ancient Rome and how this one damaged girl manages to take it all down with her.

While the beginning of the story is a bit confusing, especially when you have no idea why everyone wants to kill this poor girl for, the middle of the book catapults you through this insane spider-web of lies, deceit and pure financial carnage. If you ever wanted lessons on how to overthrow a government, destroy a black market and basically scare the daylights out of a houseful of poor slaves, Julia is your teacher. Though thoroughly damaged, she manages to corrupt all of Rome and herself at the same time. Did I mention that she was pretty mentally damaged?

In all honestly, the game she plays is fairly amazing. Outside of her time wallowing in a glass of wine or gazing lovingly at a piece of jewelry she doesn’t own, Julia turns out to be an incredible sponge of knowledge which helps her to become the guru of all things dirty and deceitful in the underbelly of Rome. Like a string of Cash and Loan stores, Julia becomes the wealthiest person in all of Rome, and very few people know that she is the one to do it. She strings up her victims in little chains of events that will make your head spin, and at some point, have you cheering for her until it all comes crashing down.

If the beginning didn’t exist, and the ending didn’t punch you in the face with unanswered questions and situations, the middle of the book would be an amazing tale of a poor unwilling slave girl who became the most powerful person in an ancient civilization. The sheer width of power that she gained from one well thought out plan and the manipulation of a powerful force who’s heart she stole, it needs to be read and admired. Take notes, as it can show that if you put your mind to it, as damaged as that might be, you can achieve anything. Even if you have an incredibly damaged mind from years of mental and physical abuse. Just pointing out how often you must remember that she’s mentally damaged, as the author will remind you just as frequently. Ignoring that fact, reading about how a city can be overtaken by any mentally equipped individual was a fun ride. Though a lot of people were hurt for it, watching someone get revenge from those that hurt them is very satisfying as well.

Hopefully a lot of questions will be answered as you travel through the series and through time with Julia’s character. She seems to gain a new life every time her old one ends, and hopefully this book can do that as well. Let’s go Julia, on to your next adventure.

Pages: 287 | ASIN: B00G4QWIZY

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Without Forethought of the Moral Costs

Stephen Arend Author Interview

Stephen Arend Author Interview

Soul Searcher takes place in a world where magic is as common as breathing, but a soul transfer goes terribly wrong. This is an intriguing setup to an epic fantasy novel. What was your moral goal when writing this novel and do you feel you’ve achieved it?

I wrote a good portion of Soul Searcher while I was working as an Adult Felony Probation Officer. Working in such a position gives a person the opportunity to experience many different views of why we are here, in this life. One such outlook was the need to obtain immediate gratification without forethought of the moral costs or consequences: addiction. Another outlook was the sometimes jaded, superior opinion many in the field get when working in that environment. Mordeth was addicted to the power of his position and the euphoria of the magical weave, and he felt he was justified in what he was doing. This addiction made him impatient, and his superiority caused him to other the criminals, to make them less than he. Mordeth’s straying from the moral code of society led to his downfall and to wasted years. He forgot he was supposed to serve instead of being served.

Rork is an intriguing character that knows little about his past. What were some of the trials that you felt were important to highlight the characters development?

First and foremost, Rork felt he needed no one. That is false. No matter how strong or independent, we all need someone. Everyone has unique traits and skills, but no one person is perfect. We all have weaknesses, and Rork sure had his. In discovering friendship, Rork improved his place in the world and brightened his existence. Also, Rork lacked faith in a power higher. He needed to learn to believe and have faith; his ax, Retorter, could not hack its way through everything. In the end, that was his redemption.

How did you balance magic and its use throughout the story to keep it believable?

I wanted magic to be addictive, to siphon life with each usage. It may cost seconds, minutes, hours, days or years of life with the depth of the draw. A Mage-Lord could instantly light a torch with a wave of his hand and only lose seconds of his life–about the same amount of time it would have taken to physically light it– or she could wield destructive power and lose years of life. A mage would have to balance his or her current need with the cost and danger, because accepting the weave is addicting and dangerous.

What is the next book that you’re working on and when can your fans expect it out?

I am working on Shadow Court. Rork’s redemption is complete, but his atonement is ongoing. Rork has to face all he did as Mordeth, and that man’s sins are far reaching. Shadow Court will be out January 2017.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website

Soul Searcher: The Reckoning Part OneSoul Searcher: The Reckoning details the journey of one man, Rork, as he strives to find his past and answers to the strange memories and images which have plagued him for the past ten years. In making this journey, he will discover who he really is…and was. Along the way, Rork gathers to his side an enigmatic forester with ties to a long-forgotten race, that young man’s secret protector, and a boisterous islander with pride as large as the open canyon country. In the end, Rork finds himself torn between what he must do for himself and what he can do for others around him, for he learns of friendship and caring, and that it hard for a man with only half a soul. The past cannot be changed, and for some, the reality of that may prove too much to accept.

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Arose From the Myths and Legends

Katlynn Brooke Author Interview

Katlynn Brooke Author Interview

The Six and the Crystals if Ialana is a coming-of-age fantasy story rich with details, a large cast of characters, and a world rife with magic. What was the inspiration for the world of Ialana and the rich history you’ve built into it?

My inspiration for Ialana arose from the myths and legends of the lost continent of Atlantis. In my Ialana Series, the City of Rhiannon is loosely based upon these legends, while the continent itself is drawn entirely from my imagination. In the first book, I also drew the mysterious island of Mu’A partially out of these so-called myths, but the bulk of the inspiration for that island actually came from a dream I once had. In this dream, I was an inhabitant of this island, and all the shielding technology—so-called “magic”— once existed. This dream was very real, so that is what I used as my basis for the shielding technology in my series. The history of Ialana is loosely based upon our own world’s lost history. I firmly believe that we are not the first civilization to inhabit this planet, and we won’t be the last. It is my opinion, and one that is shared by many, that technology is not new here, and that our current level of knowledge still has a ways to go. My series highlights the vast gap that now exists between science and spirituality, or what we think of as magic. I want to show how they can come together, to not be disparate from each other.

In this story six kids realize they have more in common than they might suspect. What character did you enjoy writing for and why?

I identified with Jarah, my main protagonist, the most. He feels different from not only the people of his village, but also from his family and his peers. While this may be a common teenage issue, his angst goes beyond the normal insecurities. When his dreams begin, his worst fears are confirmed: he is different to those around him. Each one of the six characters feel this gap between them and the people around them, but they each deal with it in different ways. They all know that their dreams are out of the ordinary, and that this sets them apart from their peers in a way that they must grapple with and try to understand.

The kids are rescued by a mysterious shape-shifter named Irusan. This enigmatic creature becomes their first teacher. Why did you feel he was the best character to teach the kids about their past?

Irusan is the “Gandalph” of the series. He is the archetype of the wise old man, the Mentor. Someone must help these kids to understand what is happening to them, and why, and Irusan is just strange enough that the kids will know without a shred of doubt that there is much more to reality than they’ve been taught. When they see with their own eyes what he is capable of, they must believe, and that helps them open up to the magic that is around them; and initially, with the help of crystals, the magic that they can tap into. I also hope that the reader will understand that we are only limited by our beliefs, and that if we knew what we were really capable of, we’d be amazed.

This book is the first in a series. Can you tell us more about what we can expect as the story continues into books two and three?

The Six and the Crystals of Ialana is the foundational book of the series. It sets the stage for all that is to follow, and I recommend that readers read them in the order they were written. It will help them to better understand the characters and the events that follow. In the second book, The Six and the Gardeners of Ialana, the Six continue on their healing mission, but they are thwarted by another despotic man, and hunted by a new enemy: yet another shape-shifter, but one that is the polar opposite to their mentor, Irusan. This one is capable of great magic and she and Irusan have a history that is hinted at in the rest of the series. The Six find themselves on the run again, and they must now find another hidden kingdom where they will be taught elemental command. They encounter many more challenges, as does their friend Blaidd, whose life has now taken an unexpected and tragic turn. In the third of the series, The Six and Anwyn of Ialana, the focus is still on the Six friends, but now there is an addition: a daughter. This girl, Anwyn, was born and raised in the elemental kingdom, and her skills surpass those of her parents and the Six. As they and Anwyn are now adepts in their chosen roles of healers, the opposition to them from the forces of evil increase. They find themselves facing enemies whose skills and abilities are equal to or even greater than theirs, and they must not only protect themselves, but at the same time save the planet from destruction.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

The Six and the Crystals of Ialana (The Ialana Series Book 1) by [Brooke, Katlynn]Mutant creatures, a Reptilian Dragon King, and a mysterious shape shifter… For fans of epic fantasy, the first book in the Ialana Series delivers a thrilling and fast-paced adventure saga. The quest, 500 years in the making to find and restore the lost crystals of Ialana, unites six young people who, along with a seventh between the ages of 15-21, were all born with a secret buried deep within. Guided by a shared dream, they leave the only homes they have ever known and set out on a life-altering quest through a maze of mountain caves and tunnels where they encounter insidious creatures, but none so dangerous, perhaps, as one of their very own. Mentored by Irusan the transcendental shape-shifter, the six young heroes develop impenetrable relationships and ultimately learn to rely upon one another. They battle their way to the lost crystal, but will they find it in time? Or, will their enemy succeed in his mission to control the powerful crystals of Ialana?

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Review – A Class Apart by Stephen Henning

A Class Apart (Class Heroes, #1) 3star

A coach has just been blown up in an apparent terrorist attack in London leaving dozens of school children wounded. They’re rushed to a hospital for medical care while the media swarms for a glimpse of the aftermath. The police quickly get involved to try and calm everyone’s fears and catch the perpetrator. What no one realizes is that this is much more than a blind act of violence and the school children were not random victims, but targets of a well-executed plan. The hospital quickly becomes a house of terror when the kids realize that they’ve gained super powers and the staff is turned into puppets acting out one child’s nightmares. Two of the kids, James and Sam, take it upon themselves to solve the mystery and save everyone from a living nightmare.

A Class Apart certainly doesn’t unfold like your standard super hero novel. At first I thought this was going to wind down to a horror novel as more of the creepy elements of the hospital surfaced early on in the novel, but then it melded with some classic super hero elements of discovery and limitations. Most of the book takes place in a hospital, which was meticulously detailed in the book and lent to its overall creepy vibe later in the novel. The main characters, James and Sam, are siblings and are well developed through the story along with plenty of the other characters that are thrown into the mix. But by far the best character is Lolly; her overall mysterious nature was well characterized and she’s one personality that I definitely want to learn more about. It seemed that her and her ‘father’ were the ones pulling the strings, but operating on the sideline of events. But while the characters and scenes were well done what really brought this novel down a bit was the dialogue and overall character interactions. The dialogue seemed very generic and forced in some cases. For example there was one line of dialogue early in the novel when the children were calling each other names, “I hope you die looking at a McDonalds.” I’m not sure what this means, maybe it means something in Britain, but to me it just sounds like an odd thing to wish on your enemy, even for kids. Or another example, “You pretend that you think you are not attractive,” continued Philip Randerson, “when, in reality, you know that you are attractive. But by acting like you believe you are not, you end up gathering more attention.” I use this because it’s an example of a lot of sentences in this book that suffer from a lack of contractions and clunky prose. But overlooking the awkward flow of speech A Class Apart has a fantastic story of sibling love and the burdens of power at its core. It stands on its own as a novel, but is a great setup for the series.

Pages: 202
ASIN: B005VGE1OY

Learn more about the Class Heros series at http://www.classheroes.com/

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