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Genesis: The Infinity Series Vol. 2

Genesis (The Infinity Series Book 2) by [Westbay, Bellamy]

A genesis is a beginning: a source, a founding moment. Though Bellamy Westbay’s Genesis is the second volume in the Infinity Series, readers will have no doubt that this tome marks a beginning. The odyssey opens with the beguiling Gwen in grave danger. Though angel Alex is the only being, mortal or celestial, who can ultimately save her, the antidote for her current troubles comes from a source seemingly bent on her demise. Follow Alex, Gwen, and Jasper on an epic journey through a bewitching multiverse, one haunted by evil forces, fantastical creatures, and a series of confounding quests.

In this odyssey of good versus evil, of human nature and the divine, Westbay tackles love, lust, and redemption. She also explores motivations more primal: eternal enmity, darkest jealousy, and destructive cunning. Westbay’s storytelling moves at a heady pace, switching between the questing trio and Gwen’s best friend, facing her own predicament. The book is surprisingly sparse in some places—a run-in with an eloquent dragon comes to mind—but delves deeper in others, offering vibrant descriptions of other universes and their inhabitants, including ethereal Callidora and Eva with her siren song. Vivid details aside, the plot is the star of this show and Westbay moves it forward with skill.

And what an intriguing plot it is. Genesis operates where divine beings move among mere mortals. At first I struggled with a Cinnabon-eating angel but I was quickly won over by Alex’s supernatural powers, very human weaknesses, and impressive wingspan. He is simultaneously angsty and arch. For a celestial being and polyglot to boot, he can be frustratingly obtuse: he knows little of human nature and often his epiphanies land with a thud. Even so, he captivates readers as the boulder-smashing, beast-slaying hero of our story.

If Alex is Odysseus on an epic journey and Eva a Siren, Gwen is Helen of Troy. Though not exactly “the face that launched a thousand ships”, Gwen is certainly the being that launched a thousand cherubic fantasies. The amorous undertones in Genesis know no bounds: whilst Gwen clings to life, both the misguided Jasper and the ardent Alex lust after her. Readers feel relief when Gwen revives and apprehension as death draws near. This epic journey is exhilarating and well-told. Westbay is a true storyteller with a gift for weaving familiar themes into a fascinating new world.

Pages: 414 | ASIN: B07DXP2Y8D

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The Labyrinthine Journey

The Labyrinthine Journey (Servant of the Gods Book 2) by [Cavallaro, Luciana]

Evan is a normal twenty-first century man who works as an architect. However, to interrupt his daily routine, none other than Zeus himself, has decided to transport Evan to the sixth century BCE. Evan now travels across ancient Greece with his companions, including Atlanteans, a high priestess, and his friend, Dexion, who has the power to see into the future. All of this is for a mighty cause, Evan has been chosen by Zeus to unite two powerful relics in order to save the Gods from extinction.

Stuck in the sixth century BCE Evan longs to return home. Given his precarious position between times, the juxtaposition of his wants against his reality serves to highlight the stark differences between the comfort of home that Evan is used to and what he is currently facing. For instance, walking across a sandy plain in sandals verses the want for a motorbike to make short work of the distance. His modern life’s influence over his worldview often leaves him homesick, but he must complete his mission. On the other hand, his life back home gives him ways to solve the problems he faces in the sixth century BCE, taking ideas from the pop-culture of his own time and bringing them into the past to aid his quest. This fusion of time periods makes for some brilliant innovations and cross-overs between what we as the reader understand to be ancient Greece, and the modern day.

The Labyrinthine Journey is book two in Luciana Cavallaro’s Servant of the Gods series and it follows on fluently with the events of the previous book with references here and there to book one. Something striking about the series is the relationship between mortals and Gods. With whole chapters dedicated to the musings of God’s and their society it gives the reader an insight into their intentions. Furthermore, the book proposes an alternative viewpoint on the beginnings of Christendom. The Greek Gods fear that they will lose their dominance in light of a God-sent child being born that will potentially lead to the widespread belief in a single God instead of the current pantheon.

This retelling of the birth of Christ from the God’s perspective explains why Zeus wants the relics united – to maintain his and the other Gods’ significance. However, there are some Gods trying to interfere with the mission and stop Evan’s and his companions’ journey. Evan searches ancient Greece, already in possession of the first relic, for the second to unite the two. The perilous journey over a treacherous landscape naturally reminds one of the epics of Homer.

The Labyrinthine Journey was a thoroughly enjoyable read. I give it five out of five for its sophisticated and inventive retelling of the well-known and widespread story of Christ and its ability to connect it to the overarching quest narrative seamlessly. Luciana Cavallaro’s prose fits the story perfectly, making the journey truly epic. Furthermore, the fusion of God’s, monsters, ancient philosophers, magical ancient relics and even time travel, leads to unexpected twists and turns throughout the novel.

Pages: 311 | ASIN: B075QGZQP9

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Caught in a Conundrum

Richa Gupta Author Interview

Richa Gupta Author Interview

Skeins follows a group of Indian woman as they travel through Europe learning something about life, each other, and themselves. What served as your inspiration for this uplifting novel?

Both my novels relate to a world well-known to me: urban educated India. I have been travelling a great deal for the past 14 years and I undertake at least one group tour overseas each year. Though the itinerary for the tour described in Skeins is similar to that of a group tour I undertook with Cosmos© in 2015, the similarity ends there as the tourists in the latter included men and women of varied nationalities. Also, when I had traveled to Ireland in 2016, my suitcase had not been transferred in time to the connecting flight by the airline staff at Munich airport during transit. These experiences sparked off my imagination, which led to the birth of Skeins.

There is a great collection of women from several generations in this group. Who was your favorite character to write for?

It’s like asking someone who is your favourite child. Each woman character is alive in my imagination with her own distinct personality, dreams and circumstances. They are all resilient as I don’t sympathize with whiners. I like women who get back on their feet after a hard tumble and find their own path in life without seeking sympathy or support. However, I particularly empathized with the characters Sandra D’Souza and Vidya Rao who are caught in a conundrum and need to make tough decisions.

I enjoyed how the characters each had their own story that contributed to the depth of their character. What were some themes you wanted to capture in this book?

Though the novel is a breezy read, it deals with serious societal issues related to women. I feel very strongly about the thwarting of women’s emotional, professional and intellectual independence and expression by a patriarchal society and a dominant partner who limit her role to that of a mother and a comfort provider. The novel also depicts the generic issues of social hierarchy, aspirational lifestyles, the violence within and without our homes, loneliness and dementia.

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

I have a few ideas that I am exploring. When that creative spark is ignited, I know I will not take longer than two months to pen the story and edit it.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook

What happens when the skeins of life of 16 diverse Indian women, aged 25 to 67, get entwined when they travel to Spain and Portugal in an all-women’s tour? 

With a galaxy of identifiable characters from modern urban India depicted with light-hearted mirth in a travel environment, the novel explores serious issues, such as the quest for an independent identity and economic independence, the violence within and outside our homes, the loneliness of old age and the need for constructive channelization of youthful energy. Spanning events across a little more than a year, Skeins depicts how self-expression and a supportive environment trigger a cataclysmic effect and stimulate the women to realize their dreams.

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The Hunt for the Three Roses

The Hunt for the Three Roses (The Three Roses Trilogy Book 2) by [Hubbard, Jason]

Callie and Kane have escaped from the King Hugo’s realm but have been conscripted into the army. Here they hide, Kane posing as a common mage and Callie is put to work in the maid’s camps. With them is Jonas, one of the three roses that Master Cypher was searching for. While the war effort is continuing Jonas reveals to Callie he can see visions of the future, he tells her he must go save Kane or he will die. She rushes out to find Kane and they escape what turns out to be a massacre of all the mages in the camp. After this they find Master Cypher escaping the area with Jonas and he offers to let Kane and Callie join him on his journey to Lonsaran, the neighboring kingdom. Entering the new land, Kane changes his name to Sean McAlister and presents himself as a commoner / mage. Now Sean and Callie must look to make new lives in this land while keeping an eye on Jonas till he can be safely delivered to the king in Asturia. Along the way Callie’s past comes back to haunt her and they must figure out how to survive.

Jason Hubbard’s The Hunt for the Three Roses while a continuation of the previous novel is still able to stand alone and not confuse a new reader too much. It is a long book and some sections drag out and feel like page filler rather than moving the plot along. Aside from that, the actual story line is engaging and the character development, I feel, is enhanced from previous works by Hubbard. I enjoy the relationship dynamic between the characters. Sean’s caring nature is apparent, and you see him grow from a spoiled, selfish nineteen-year-old, into a mature father figure with Jonas. His relationship with Callie is back and forth as both can’t seem to figure out what they really want in life and what direction they want to go in. Both end up in the service of Count Guyver; and seem to fit well into their new rolls. But Rainer, an assassin from the prior novel, is still alive and determined to torment Callie. Even Rainer’s character development is well done, he is dark and calculating. His personality plays well against Sean’s more innocent and desire to be good personality. Callie falls in the middle always conflicted about if she wants to lead a life of good or descend into the underworld of crime again. This conflict makes her character so interesting and makes you want to keep reading to see how things will develop.

The world in which all this takes place is similar to Medieval times Europe. They have a strong religious belief in the life of Micah and the book of Micah. The principals are not all the different from our Bible and Jesus teachings. The difference is their religion includes magic and mages as part of the world of good. A lot of effort went into building the world Hubbard created and it shows in the details of the manor, the ways of the country men, and the secretes that the characters hold. This novel sets up things well for the next installment of the Three Roses and I look forward to seeing how this story line concludes.

Pages: 404 | ASIN: B07HHX5ZLP

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Infinity: Quest for the Holy Grail

Infinity: Quest for the Holy Grail by [DuBois, Catalina]

Sarah is married to a man she hardly knows and is not sure she knows how to love. Matthew, her husband of many years, has not seen Sarah since their union when she was a girl of only eight years. Raised in a convent and reunited with her husband, the knight, Sarah is in complete awe of the horrors of battle and the danger in which he must place himself to protect her. When Sarah steps in to save the kingdom from Matthew’s nemesis, she makes a sacrifice far greater than Matthew could ever have expected.

Infinity: Quest for the Holy Grail by Catalina DuBois is the third book focusing on the characters Sarah and Matthew. In varied settings and with slight name changes, DuBois manages to create stunning visuals with mind-blowing action sequences centering around a love affair for the ages. Sarah and Matthew are standouts in all three books, and Infinity: Quest for the Holy Grail features Sarah in her most unique position yet. Sarah is simply captivating in the role of the lover willing to sacrifice everything to save others. DuBois takes readers through Sarah’s thought processes in a way that is personal and moving and does so without the advantage of using first-person point of view. She has successfully created a female lead she is able to mold and shape into a woman of strength and enviable courage across time periods and ever-changing settings.

As with DuBois’s first two Infinity books, I am amazed at the manner in which the author is able to incorporate elements of fantasy into the historical romance genre. Two genres that sound worlds apart are brought together seamlessly in Infinity: Quest for the Holy Grail. With the introduction of the cyclops, I have to say I was at first a bit surprised. DuBois has a phenomenal knack for easing the reader into a realm fraught with surreal creatures and making the reader immediately comfortable with the blend of genres.

Imagery is, beyond the shadow of a doubt, DuBois’s forte. DuBois creates extraordinary images to draw readers into the reading in her masterfully crafted prologues. Infinity: Quest for the Holy Grail is no exception. As Matthew’s parents observe him from the balcony, the tension in the air is almost tangible. The image of a young Matthew riding away and being watched by parents holding a most devastating and crushing secret is poignant. DuBois manages to structure that scene to first touch the reader’s heart and then, out of nowhere, break it in two.

When reading a mix of fantasy and historical fiction, I appreciate an added level of mystery, and DuBois provides that perfect blend of genres. Readers looking for another angle on the quest for the holy grail and storylines featuring Sir Arthur, Medusa, and Lancelot will find DuBois’s writing to be a fresh look at these classic tales.

Pages: 205 | ASIN: B0791BBNZ3

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The Masked Queen’s Lament

The Masked Queen's Lament (The Gift-Knight Trilogy Book 3) by [Madeley, Dylan]

Author of the epic fantasy series, The Gift-Knight Trilogy, Dylan Madeley brings to you the third and last in the series, The Masked Queen’s Lament. A brilliant novel that blends medieval times with on-going issues of the world we live in today.

A fantastical and medieval plotline combining elements of eccentricity, adventure, treason, power, knighthood and intrigue. The Masked Queen’s Lament continues Madeley’s narrative from books 1 and 2 (The Gift-Knight’s Quest and The Crown Princess’ Voyage) to conclude the dramatic twists and revelations conveyed throughout all three books.

The story is set in the medieval era where “Alathea enjoy[s] the feeling of all the thunder-men staring at her, not daring to blink, ready for her signal.” As a ruler of the land, the protagonist attempts to recreate a world in how she perceives it to be. However, all is not as simple as it seems. Alathea must reign in all of her troops in order to combat the wicked witch “Crown Princess Chandra Kenderley”. A real medieval plot line that allows the reader to envision concepts of reigning, power, control, and misjudgment.

Dylan Madeley does a fantastic job at writing fluently with regards to his characters. The characters are well described, and I was able to clearly envision what they would look and act like. The author clearly knows how to build his characters. Despite being the third book in the trilogy, Madeley still continues to keep the reader’s attention with these characters, reinforcing how their presence in the book is key to its success.

What I loved about this book is how the story follows the life of power and reigns. Think about this book like a Game of Thrones episode – packed full of terror, excitement, uncertainty, and conflict. As the story unfolds, the reader is made aware that the end result is going to be via battle, and who wins that battle is very much left in suspense until the very end. I won’t provide any spoilers for those of you longing to read this book, but what I can say is that the ending does not disappoint!

The only downside to the book is the flow. I found it slow at times, particularly in the first few chapters. However, the pace does pick up as the reader is subject to more action between the characters, and this is where it got more interesting for me. What makes for good reading is uncertainty, eccentricity, and uniqueness, and I believe the author of The Masked Queen’s Lament does this outstandingly. The grammar and punctuation is strong, and the narrative is creative and unique.

An emotive, fantastic, epic medieval storyline that is well-written and well-thought out by the author. Dylan Madeley has proven to be a great author, and this book is a great way to end The Gift-Knight Trilogy.

Pages: 476 | ASIN: B07DD18H76

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After the Rain Book Trailer

Author Maria Reinhardt debuts with an exotic family saga about blending love, business, and second chances. In the first Richardson novel, old sensual feelings emerge to test trust, legacy, and family responsibility in the quest for happily ever after.

Can she catch lightning in a bottle?

AFTER THE RAIN is set on the exotic shores of Maui, Hawaii; it is here heroine Katrina Marlowe visits when attending her 10-year class reunion. She is a svelte ex-coed—although she was overweight back in college at the University of Hawaii.

Kat has a lot of hidden talents (she’s a whiz with motors, for one—her calling, interior design, another), and she likes to use them for an element of surprise. She also has a problem. She’s been in love with the sexy, wealthy, Hawaiian property developer, Guy Richardson, since college. And she’s told him so in her series of sensual letters—all of which she thought had gone unnoticed and unread.

Kat’s dedication to her special-needs family and their automotive dealership kept her a shy, hard-working homebody back in Upstate, New York after school; she passed Guy’s perceived apathy off as her insecurity, a penchant for panic attacks, and a weight issue. What she didn’t account for was a second chance, his latter-day response to her letters, and how her unique talents could fulfill both of their dreams.

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The Misadventures of Ka-Ron the Knight

A brave knight is wrongfully cursed, turning him into the most beautiful woman on the planet. To reverse this curse, “she” must form a quest to seek out the Wicca Master who cast the spell, hopefully changing her mind.

Along the way, the knight falls in love with her squire, battles vampires, helps aid an Elf revolution, and even becomes pregnant. Ultimately, her squire must make the hard choice: does he complete his master’s quest, or does he try to keep his one true love?

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