The Dragon Shifters at Southgate is the second book in The Seers series. It opens with the protagonist, Talwyn, fleeing for her life. At only eight years old she is still considered a baby by her people, who live for hundreds of years. Hidden under a rock by her mother, Talwyn evades detection, but emerges from her hiding place without a home or a family to return to. Three hundred years later and Talwyn is still haunted by the memories of that tragic day. Moreover, as a Seer she has now been having visions of an even more bleak future.
The world is laced with what Talwyn calls “ley lines”. Lines that form a diamond shape and surge with powerful energy that sorcerers can harness. Where the lines meet, a sorcerer’s power would grow even stronger, and this location is called the Source. Talwyn relays the history of the battles fought over the Source and the great powers it grants. This rich backstory is what kept me turning pages. It’s intricate and intriguing but leaves room for your imagination to wander. A powerful sorcerer by the name of Anceannmor discovered the nature of the Source and that when the planets align just right, the Source has unprecedented effects. In this case, it granted Anceannmor a great boon. The sorcerer opened a gate to another realm and let the demons of that realm roam free in the world. I enjoyed the balance of power in this world, things were believable (as much as they can be in an epic fantasy novel) but was still fascinating.
Talwyn explains how the gate was closed and that keystones were crafted and distributed all over the realm along the ley lines. However, if the keystones are united and the celestial alignment is just as it was when Anceannmor initially open the gate, the gate would open once more. The pace of the novel picks up quickly and rarely lets up. I enjoyed the balance between story telling and action. Champions such as Talwyn have sworn to protect the keystones, but as the very same celestial alignment draws near Talwyn and the other Seers having been having worrying visions of the future. Thus, Talwyn takes it upon herself in a race against time to find and warn other people who also protect their keystones: the elusive dragonkin.
Talwyn must gain access to this closed community who are equally as devasted by the actions of Anceannmor, and equally cautious of outsiders. The story follows Talwyn’s journey to visit the dragonkin, and in particular to win the trust Dreyken the Dragon Lord. But Talwyn’s duties as a champion and protector of the realm often conflict with her wants and needs, as she struggles to live in the aftermath of Anceannmor’s tyranny. Anyone familiar with The Elder Scrolls series will feel right at home in the myth and legend built around the people and world.
The Dragon Shifters at Southgate is Sherry Leclerc’s seconds book in The Seers series and is a fantastic follow up to the previous book. The world is so rich with lore that one constantly feels welcomed back to the novel by its secret forest or the mountainous caverns of the dragonkin. The high-fantasy of this novel adds an interesting abstraction to the very real feelings of loneliness that an individual may face in the aftermath of hardship and war. For this reason, I give the book a four out of five for its intricate plot and the realism that sits at the heart of the fantasy.
Pages: 425 | ASIN: B07LC437FY
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The Endowment of Isaac Frey by Val Wilson is a historical fiction story about a haunted old house in Coventry, England, and the family who occupies the house. The book starts in 1920 with John Weir and his friend, Albert Parry hunting for a legendary priest hole tunnel exit on the grounds of John’s family home, The Old House, a residence filled with tragedy and ghosts. The story spans several decades as the friends grow older and World War II separates them for a time, then brings them back together. Before going off to war to join Albert, John marries Annie Goodwin, a local girl who has returned to Coventry after escaping from an abusive man in London. The first part of the story follows John Weir as a boy and then a man (and later on, his wife, Annie), the current occupants of The Old House. Isaac Frey is introduced into the story after the halfway point. An American G.I. stationed at the base nearby, Captain Isaac Frey begins a relationship with Annie while John is away fighting in the war. But The Old House brings madness to the Weir family… and murder when John learns that he didn’t father Annie’s twins. After the murder of his wife, her children, and her lover, John Weir assumes Isaac Frey’s identity.
I enjoyed the author’s writing style. The vivid descriptions of supernatural events pulled me into the story. The house isn’t just the setting–it’s like another character, albeit creepy and suspenseful. The element of mystery surrounding the house kept me interested in the story all the way through till the end.
I didn’t like the character of Annie Goodwin. She suffered a lot of adversity, but her reaction to it was anger and taking her feelings out on others. I didn’t find her to be a likable character. She seemed to wallow in her misfortune, instead of finding a way to raise above it. Her affair with Isaac leads to her tragic end.
There were some minor issues with typos. And the point of view shifts between characters from one paragraph to the next were a bit distracting. Sometimes the shifts happened in the middle of a paragraph, which made it difficult to keep track of whose head I was supposed to be in. Some of the time jumps were a bit jarring, when something unexpected happened, but then suddenly it was years later without the author showing the previous moment in time playing out. Otherwise, a very entertaining novel.
The Endowment of Isaac Frey by Val Wilson
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The story of Pierre Morena, a 17-year-old in the year 2328, when England is ruled by something called the Audric who rule society through neural stimulation, either serotonin releases to reward compliance or shocks to punish anti-social behavior, guided by a manifesto called The Financially Prudent World by the Audric prophet, Genesis Smith.
Pierre is the first person in this Brave New World to make it as far as 17 without ever once receiving a shock, earning him the nickname Pure Pierre. And then, after a strange and mysterious incident on the 13th floor of the Library in the Shopping (called the Athenaeum here), Pierre begins to wonder if he’s really as pure as he’s come to think. And he’s not the only one. Pierre is in for the challenge of his life. He’s always thought of himself as virtuous; but what is virtue, he begins to wonder, if it’s never been tested?
He runs into a group called the Gamblers who dress like bikers and quote Nietzsche but worship Grease-era John Travolta. They reject and resist the Audric principles and have their own currency. They want Pure Pierre to endorse their hair product, but he’s not so sure. A Gambler accidentally blows his arm off firing an unauthorized gun when Pierre stops for a Macchiato in a Gambler cafe.
We don’t learn too much about the world, though it seems to resemble a 1970’s version of the future, like you’d see in Logan’s Run or Buck Rodgers or Jack Kirby comics. But the world we are presented with is immensely interesting and beautifully drawn. People take pictures on their phones and ride in solar pods, but they still read print newspapers and play water polo. The water polo match at the beginning, in fact, is a thing of beauty, and it makes you wonder why there aren’t more books about water polo players. The Big Three manufacturers are Little Amore, Generation Gold and Walden Now, and they take at least some of their ideas from the Entrepreneurial Etiquette class where Pierre had been a star pupil, inventing a solar radio inspired by a 20th Century Orangina bottle. This combination makes a unique world that serves as an interesting backdrop to a compelling story.
Patrick Barnes engages and entertains in this novel and leaves you questioning whether we want to truly be happy or to just be comfortable. He drags Nietzsche, Bertrand Russell, Kierkegaard, even Einstein, into it. It’s like an episode of the TV show The Good Place only with fewer jokes and more suspense. The Audric Experiment is a fun, action-packed read that’s overflowing with great ideas and moral questions.
Pages: 300 | ASIN: B01N313ZXL
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A dark otherworld exists alongside ours, because the true meaning of our convictions lie in the rhythm of time. What we believe is time, may find its answer in our greatest fears.
I am ancient evil. A malignant, vile creature older than humanity. Legion is my name and my power originates deep inside the primitive core of your fears. I exist because you live between the spaces of Light and Darkness. You are here, steeped in half light and shadows, but at the same time, somewhere else living in denial . . . Hoodie Black
Crystal creek isn’t like any other house. Victor Garland, built it for his mad son Harrison.
It all started long before 1835 when Harrison disappeared and no one could find him. However, eight days later, he returned home, a little starved, a little dirty and a little mad. . . and he didn’t come alone.
It’s 2015 when Alex Hunter, a private detective, still grieving the loss of his wife and only daughter, buys the long abandoned Crystal creek. And it isn’t long before he meets the former owner, Victors` great grandson, Arthur Garland. Arthur leads Alex into an incredible story about the house, a family curse, a murderous ancestor, and a past that won’t let go.
While murders are piling up, and Alex’s former convictions about the house are crumbling. Two immortals come to his aid. One is an Assassin, the other an Angel. When the Assassin offers Alex a deal, and if he succeeds, he will have the chance to turn back time and save his wife and daughter from the accident. He accepts the challenge. However, as we all know. Everything comes at a price.
Posted in book trailer
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The Dragon of Hidden Treasures follows Kathryn and Ty through the perils of 1900’s China as they seek their dream. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing novel?
I’ve been a student of Chinese history for more than thirty years, though my interest was mainly ancient China. One night in 1996 I had a fantastic dream about a foreign woman captured by a warlord. It was just a thread and probably inspired by something I’d read in passing, but it stuck. I wasn’t really a writer then and certainly not interested in Republican Era China (1911-1949) but I just couldn’t forget the dream. I started focusing my studies on the period and got totally sucked in. There was so much intrigue and chaos during that time, I had no trouble taking that thread of a dream and turning it into a thrilling series full of twists and turns, some based on actual historical events.
Kathryn is a unique character that I enjoyed watching develop through the story. What were some ideas you wanted to capture in her character?
There wasn’t just upheaval in China during the 1920’s. The whole world was changing. In Kathryn, I saw a chance to show the evolution of women: from having no rights, no voice or even choices, to challenging the established system on every level with the hope of changing things for the better. There were women like Kathryn then, courageous pioneers who dared to dream big and rise above their lot in life. They laid the foundation for the rights and freedom today’s women enjoy.
I felt like this was a story about empowerment and pursuing your dreams. What were some themes you wanted to explore in this book?
I had two main themes in mind for this story: put aside prejudice and dare to strive for your dreams. Dreams are important. They give us hope, and without hope, we will literally shrivel up and die. For a variety of reasons, we can put ourselves in a box and be held prisoner by ‘can’t’ or ‘impossible’. It’s difficult and often painful, but I believe if you’re willing to work hard and make the necessary sacrifices, you can break out of the box and achieve your dreams.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m currently working on Sunrise In Kweilin, Book 2 of the ‘Hidden Treasures’ saga. It’s set to be released in February 2019.
China, 1923: In an ancient land battling for its very existence, violence and chaos reign supreme. Amidst the devastating aftermath of a revolution that toppled the divine Imperial system and left the once glorious Empire torn and bleeding, ruthless warlords have claimed dominion. Political intrigue and betrayal are the only rulers now.
In the wrong place at the wrong time, Kathryn Kidwell is captured during an invasion of Canton by the warlord, Cheng Jiong. Recognizing the folly of allowing the only daughter of a powerful American trade lord to be cold-bloodedly murdered, Ty Wang must make an impossible choice: to save Kathryn will cost him his life, but to let her die could mean the death of his beloved homeland.
The Dragon of Hidden Treasures, Book 1 is the first chapter in the electrifying saga of Ty and Kathryn’s desperate struggle to stay alive and stop a war that would blow China to pieces. Bound together by a love as strong as it is forbidden, their efforts could ultimately change the fate of a nation…and destroy them both.
Posted in Interviews
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It is easy to forget that war torn countries are actually homes to some people. All I ever hear is of the fighters. I never hear of the people who watch beheadings happen so close to home. People who have gotten used to the smell of gunpowder. People who are no longer fazed by the sound of bullets cutting through the air. People whose mere presence amidst the chaos has made them parties in the war.
The Incidental Jihadi is a story about Len who later becomes Naim. Len is a geologist working at an oil exploration company. All is well with his family until he is sent on a risky exploration mission. A mission that will forever change the trajectory of his life and that of his family. He must liberate his family and therefore joins the war. He manages to sneak Omarm, his son, to safety. He cannot live in bliss though as he has to go back in for another try. Will he succeed in an endeavor that has little hope of success?
This is a very well told story full of excellent detail. You can almost smell the desperation and hatred in the air. You can feel the aggression. Samrat Mitra tells such a vivid account of events that the reader finds themselves plunged deep into the heart of war torn Middle Eastern locations. The reader will find themselves lost in a fight that very few understand anymore. A war whose collateral damage seems to be worsening with every line they read. It flows easily. In the author’s note at the back, Samrat says that this book is a depiction of actual events. The reader will be able to feel the air of reality, however unbelievable, in this story.
The author also seems to have a sober political mind. There is understanding of the political element of the events that take place. However, emotion seems to get away from him as he essentially calls some parties ignorant. Though somewhat truthful, it brings out the author’s passion and gives the book character.
This book may need some polishing but the passion and compelling plot overshadow whatever writing errors one might encounter. You will experience a cornucopia of emotions as this book delivers an alternative view that will urge you to think about a different aspect of the wars.
Pages: 333 | ASIN: B073R5GQTV
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The Literary Titan Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and we are proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and imagination of these talented authors.
Gold Award Winners
Silver Award Winners
Posted in Literary Titan Book Award
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Sam Blades is not your ordinary twenty-something. He has a girlfriend whose abuse he relishes, a job with company whose name could and should be attributed to that of a lingerie label, and an almost absurd fixation with The Matrix. Sam is, on the other hand, a curiosity to more than one person of interest. His job with Shimmering Dreams has made him a target, and poor Sam is none the wiser. Shimmering Dreams capitalizes on the technology that makes it possible to download one’s dreams and store them on mobile devices. Sam, caught in the middle of the “greatest invention its age” and the conspiracy surrounding its misuse, is about to meet face to face with those who want him out of the picture once and for all.
The Misplaced Man by Nick James is a short story/novella centering around Sam Blades, a young man newly-employed and eager to please his beyond demanding girlfriend, Bunny. Nick James is a master at humor, and his main character is his chosen vessel. Not meant entirely as a work of comedy, James provides several laugh-out-loud moments as Sam struggles in his day-to-day life with Bunny. It is rare for me to find the written word comical enough to emit an audible guffaw, but James definitely delivers. Sam’s personality more than makes the book; he is a memorable character in his own right and is well-developed in first-person accounts.
James’s choice to alternate chapters with varying first-person accounts is quite effective. The story, though brief, is packed full of descriptive and revealing scenarios which serve well to differentiate each character. As the reader, I was easily able to discern which character was taking his turn at bat without having to rely on the chapter title–James is just that good at character development.
It is worth noting that The Misplaced Man is a combination of realistic fiction and science fiction but leans heavily on the realistic fiction element. The book is much more about each character’s own personal conflicts than the underlying component of groundbreaking technology. As interesting as the concept of capturing dreams is, it is explored and detailed much less than some science fiction fans will likely expect.
Sam Blades is ruthlessly humorous and has the makings of a fantastic central character for his ensuing series. I recommend Nick James’s short story to anyone looking for a quick science fiction piece with strong characters laced with humor.
Pages: 155 | ASIN: B07K3Q6QRD
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In Degsy Hay: A Juvenile Redeemed, Brian Montgomery sets himself up as a modern day Horatio Alger or Charles Dickens, telling a tale of a hard-done-by young man who overcomes his humble beginnings to become something more.
Degsy Hay, born inside a UK prison to a heroin addict, inherits his mother’s chaotic life, as well as a mysterious diary with missing pages. At age 16, he’s released from McAlley-Stoke youth facility with no prospects. He spends a few months on the streets, during which he assembles a small entourage including a three-legged dog named Sadface, a girlfriend (and her young son) and several homeless tradespeople. Before long, though, he’s back in McAlley-Stoke, where, through a mix of violence and charisma, he quickly becomes the Gaffer, the big man in the youth correctional facility. He launches a reform campaign to encourage the young offenders to educate themselves during their incarceration and convinces (via a bloody riot complete with hostage-taking) the facility itself to treat its wards more humanely. All the while, a mystery around missing children and how they’re connected to the missing pages of his mum’s diary builds around him.
Montgomery gives his hero/narrator a distinct voice, rife with Cockney slang, locating him squarely in the rough and tumble housing estates of urban London, a lot of “nar’mean” this and “geezer” that. But for all his streetwise exterior, Degsy is a kind soul at heart and looks out for the people around him. It seems that everyone he meets has a lesson to teach him, even if they have to die a grisly death for him to learn it. The people closest to Degsy have a nasty habit of ending up dead, or filthy rich. Sometimes both.
For a book that tackles some extremely difficult topics like poverty, addiction, and child abuse, Degsy Hay can be a bit simplistic at times. It seems more concerned with showing how one extraordinary character overcomes these heinous hurdles with a plucky attitude and a few well-placed friends, and yet there’s an internal logic to it too. It’s Degsy himself who tells the story, and so why wouldn’t he place himself at the center and give himself all the credit?
On the surface, the story of a streetwise youth pulling one over on the world with nothing more than his wits, a few friends, and a three-legged dog should appeal to middle grade readers, but the very strong language and heavy theme of sexual abuse are better suited to older readers with a bit of maturity to process the trauma at the core of Degsy’s tale. More sophisticated readers, though, might find the very Dickensian style of storytelling a bit old fashioned. But then, we’re still reading Dickens, so why not? At any rate, the colourful language and Degsy’s unforgettable voice should keep them interested.
Pages: 180 | ASIN: B07K7VSQF8
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Shipwreck Island is a fascinating treasure hunting mystery that takes readers on a deep water search for a lost ship. What were some driving ideals behind this novel?
I’ve been wanting to write this book for about eight to ten years. When I was younger I traveled to New Zealand and heard about this fabled shipwreck. I was always intrigued about the circumstances around its mysterious disappearance and why after a 150 years no one could find a trace of it. The story always stayed with me and I knew I just had to write about it.
Roy is a salvage and shipwreck expert and helps setup some interesting information throughout the book. What kind of research did you undertake on shipwreck salvage to get things right in this book?
I really didn’t research much for this part on top of what I already knew. I’d read numerous newspaper articles and studied about the latest sonar technology, but that was about the extent of it. As always, I tried to create a relatable hero that all readers could root for and enjoy following.
The book includes a map that showed areas of different shipwrecks, which I found helpful. How much did you rely on history to tell this story, and where did you take liberties to make an interesting story?
Well the map is indeed accurate and shows real shipwrecks. Although the book is fiction, I tried to base everything on real historical facts about the island itself and the prior shipwrecks. The only thing I took liberty on was the location of the treasure, the action scenes, and the characters backgrounds.
How far have you gotten on your latest book, Treasure Fever, and how is it developing so far?
With every book I write, I always try to outdo my last and set the bar high. This one is no different. I did a lot of research prior to starting it and so far I think it’s turning out to be the best one yet! I’m only on page 40 but the plot is coming along faster than expected and even surprising me at times. This one will have plenty of action so it won’t be for the feint of heart. Can’t wait to finish it soon and get it out to the faithful readers! Thank you Literary Titan for this interview.
In the year 1866 a ship named the General Grant lost course on its epic voyage to London and crashed upon a subantarctic island off the coast of New Zealand. Legend has it that its cargo contained one of the richest in history–gold all mined from the Victorian goldfields in Australia. After years of mishap and misfortune–even death–no one has been able to locate its exact whereabouts.
In comes Roy Berenger, one of the world’s foremost experts on salvaging shipwrecks. Recruited to solve the mystery once and for all, he must use all his trademark talents and wits to uncover the historic shipwreck. The strange circumstances around its harrowing disappearance are mysterious and all-too frightening. Putting together a local crew with the latest technological resources at his disposal, Berenger ventures to this far-off island to pull off an audacious search attempt. But in order to find it–he must brave the real-life perils of hypothermia, great white sharks, high-sea squalls, and human treachery.
Posted in Interviews
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