Hemlock, a city dedicated to pirates, slavery, and all forms of evil you can imagine. Hemlock is a port city located in Lorinth within the realm of Perilisc. The nation of Lorinth doesn’t have an easy life, there is always some evil waiting to destroy the inhabitants. What could make life worse for these people, vampires. Vampires are returning to the land with the intention of taking over all living creatures and turning them or killing them. They are souring the soil, killing the forest dwelling creatures and making it so the Ironwood’s, that could defeat them, die of sickness. Rayph must make hard choices fighting against his own personal beliefs and trusting those he would normally never trust in order to save the lives of the humans living in the nation.
Jesse Teller is a master of writing about the dark and disturbing side of humanity. While his novels are fantasy, most characters will take on a human form. People do not simply die in these novels, torture and gruesome deaths are the norm. Long drawn out torture, maiming bodies, rape, healing people just to torture them more, emotional and physical abuse, all are common place activities among even the “good guys” in the novels. I normally avoid novels with such dark themes, but Hemlock drew me in from the first chapter. Rayph seeks out alliances to wage his battle against the vampire leader Tristan. If you are looking for vampires that sparkle and are really good people at heart, this is not the vampire story for you, rather these are the real killing monsters that horror stories are written from. Teller does an amazing job describing their brutality and steamroller approach to taking over the land.
Another key aspect of Jesse Teller is his overall character development. If you follow all the novels of Perilisc you see many returning names and characters, sometimes it is hard to follow the timeline of where one book happens from another, but many of the characters are immortal or long lived making it plausible they could exist in so many apparently different timelines. A new character to Hemlock is Aaron the Marked. This character is so well developed you don’t know if you should love him or hate him. He has an insane devotion to his king, one that will not be stopped by anyone in his mission to be reunited. He looks like a young boy and is often misjudged by other characters until it is too late. Aaron is brutal, violent, a brilliant strategist, and probably a tad on the insane side. I wanted to keep reading just to see what he would do next, who would he take out, who would he form an alliance with just to make his way back to his King. It is this kind of character development that makes me want to keep reading despite all the gore and disturbing imagery I normally avoid.
Hemlock brought back many of my favorite characters like Smear, Dissonance, Trysliana and Saykobar, the introduction of the new characters kept things interesting. It wasn’t just a new plot, it was new personalities interacting and that makes the novel for me. I can look over a lot of the gore to focus on the relationships and interactions. The world of Perilisc is one of violence and death, the characters are memorable the setting vastly different from other fantasy worlds. This may be one of my favorites in the series because of its originality in all areas.
Pages: 361 | ASIN: B079SG8L1W
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Adventures like these don’t come very often. Riddled with intrigue and building up a world The Jinxed Pirate by M. Walsh is a definite read. We have a delightful cast of characters from the mercenary to the tragic warrior princess with a splash of other-worldly beings as well. All of their lives and paths will come together in an excellent adventure where you might find yourself rooting for the bad-guy without realizing it. Each character is on a journey of sorts and where it leads them is anything short of ordinary. What happens when the warrior princess can’t save her people? What about the mercenary who doesn’t seem all that interested in what he’s doing? Our title character himself even seems to shift his shape depending on what his needs are. The carnal animal driven only by his desires. These all come together with fantastic story-telling and riveting action to create a beast of a tale.
The language in this book is intellectual without being dry; descriptive without being desperate. Walsh knows how to craft a tale and the way the narrative flows demonstrates an excellent grasp of a writer’s tools. Our prologue and epilogue are written in the first person, yet we don’t know much about who is showing us this world. The rest of the tale is told from the third person and that effortless transition really speaks to how well Walsh has command over the story. Some authors can let the tale run away from them and it ends up becoming nonsense. Walsh takes on a large task, and delivers.
While this book appears to be part of a series, it can stand alone just fine. It is rare to find an excellent book that is part of a larger tapestry that can be enjoyed on its own. The Jinxed Pirate achieves that sense of completion without discounting the possibility of the world being expanded either before or after the events we read about.
In the first few chapters we are introduced to our cast of characters. The descriptions that Walsh provides enhances the image in the mind of the reader. The reader is also not overwhelmed by excessive information. There is a delicate balance to be struck here and Walsh appears to be no slouch with his craft. The imagery and information flow effortlessly together.
If you’re looking for an excellent read with the potential to be wrapped up in a bigger world, The Jinxed Pirate by M. Walsh is a must-read. Too often writers attempt to create worlds that span multiple books but rely to heavily on the audience consuming every single volume in order. Enough backstory is explained in this edition that prior knowledge of the world is not required. This only proves to intrigue the reader and assist in capturing their attention and desire to know more. This is not a book to be underestimated. Readers will not go wrong adding this to their ever-growing pile of ‘must-reads’. This reviewer suggests that, perhaps, you place this one near the top.
Pages: 494 | ASIN: B06VWKX52Q
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The Hunter’s Rede by F.T. McKinstry is a tale of adventure, mystery and deceit. Lorth is a hunter/assassin who obeys the Hunter’s Rede; a series of rules the dictate the isolated lifestyle of an assassin. He has never questioned their necessity; until now.
He is summoned home by the mysterious Mistress of Eusiron and arrives to find the region invaded by the Faerin army. Even more alarming; a member of the Keepers of the Eye has been assassinated.
Lorth must use his wits, magic, and sheer determination to escape being framed for the murder, find the perpetrator and defeat the invaders. All the while, he must juggle the Hunter’s Rede – a selfish code – with morality, loyalty, and love.
This is an enjoyable read for those who like suspenseful fantasy. The world building is strong and specific; a requirement in fantasy stories. The battling kingdoms, the Hunter’s Rede, and the Keepers of the Eye are all thoroughly referenced and explored by the author. However, the origins of the Rede are vague and difficult to visualize.
The characterization is fuzzy at first but the reader eventually becomes well acquainted with many of the characters who decorate the story. Lorth, in particular, grows on the reader overtime. Some of the most enjoyable characters are placed in the background and only dip into the story occasionally – such as the amiable Captain Ivy.
The plot is entertaining and ornamented with twists and tension. The story focuses on its characters and conflicts but also has a strong theme revolving around morality and sacrifice, which finds its way into the story. You could say that The Hunter’s Rede is inspired by the video game series Assassins Creed; as I felt that it dealt with similar concepts, story models and parallel titles. But I enjoyed the variances that allowed The Hunter’s Rede to have uniqueness.
While the story has some thrilling action scenes, at times they were either too cumbersome or unclear. Overall the story was clever and entertaining except for the romance moments which come off as less inspired. The Hunter’s Rede is one proofread away from being a fascinating and exciting read.
Pages: 303 | ASIN: B01LZS174X
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Fractured is a captivating story of heroism, greed, and fulfilling one’s destiny. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?
Dune is perhaps my favorite book ever. I read it back in the day. After reading Dune Messiah, I was sure I knew what would happen next. When Children of Dune was published, I read it and threw it across the room, saying, “If Frank Herbert won’t write the book I want to read, I’ll write it.” I had no idea what I was doing, and I certainly had no concept whatsoever of where this first step of the journey would take me. But I knew I needed a “gimmick.” That’s when the idea of a world where sexism had never existed entered the story, but what began as a gimmick became an opportunity to define character with the facets of light and dark that exist in all of us rather than by the character’s genitalia and served as a significant guide to my world-building. Who are these beings that in their society there is no division of labor by gender? What differences between earth humans and the people of Garla (physical and mental) would bring such a thing about?
Lisen is a complex teenage girl that is brought to life by your writing style. What were the morals you were trying to caputre while creating your characters?
None of my characters is either all good or all bad. I revel in the gift of digging down deep and finding the darkness in the light and vice versa. For me, each character deserves the opportunity to show the reader all they’ve got and allow the reader to judge for herself. As for morals, I believe that one must know how to think before one can make any moral decision. Even then, the moral decision may not be the best decision at the moment. Sometimes, we have to sacrifice the “good” thing for the “right” thing (a major decision in book 2 illustrates that). Luckily, Lisen comes into the story with some pretty strong ethics that have been taught to her by the Holts, her guardians on earth. This allows me as the writer to challenge those ethics and see how she does.
What I loved most about the novel is that it plays with the idea of who is truly in charge of shaping our path in life. Did you put any of yourself or your experiences into this book?
I have always had a strong connection to the dead, but certainly not to the extent that Lisen does with her gift as a necropath. I think one of the most interesting aspects of the story is the character of Flandari, a woman too tightly wound to give her son any love at all and who is ultimately stolen away from Lisen before Lisen gets a chance to know her. My mother was a distant woman, and I realized after creating the character of Flandari that she was very like my own mother. Unlike me, however, Lisen finds a way to love. She makes a friend in Jozan, and there is clearly something going on with her Captain Cutie. She’s open to the possibilities, and this is thanks to her time with the Holts.
Fractured is book 1 in the Lisen of Solsta series. Where does book to take the characters and what do you invision for the series in the future?
There are 3 more books already available: Tainted, book 2, in which Lisen must come to terms with what to do about her brother (and which contains the true beginning of the match between her and Korin); Blooded, book 3, which finds Lisen struggling with this new mantle on her shoulders of Empir; and Protector of Thristas, book 4, which begins fifteen years after the end of Blooded because I wanted to know who these people became when they grew up. I am currently working on what was originally book 5 and the final book. However, it’s turning into a longer project than originally planned, and although it will still put an end to the story, it’s likely to be two books rather than one.
“Seventeen-year-old Lisen Holt only begins to realize that her life is fractured after a sorcerer abducts her from a California beach and brings her home to Garla. She awakens at Solsta Haven, a refuge for the spiritual members of Garlan society known as hermits. The sorcerer, Hermit Eloise, has returned Lisen?s body to its true form?a human-like marsupial with no visible breasts and a fuzzy pouch just above where her bellybutton once was. She then restores Lisen?s memory of her first ten years in Garla, leaving her earthly existence behind but not forgotten. Although she is Lisen of Solsta now, questions haunt her, questions Eloise refuses to answer. Who are the parents who left her at Solsta? Why did Eloise send her to Earth? And what is so important about her that Eloise has manipulated so much of her life? The answers will propel Lisen into a quest for a throne, and all that will stand between her and her birthright is her matricidal twin of a brother.”
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Master Athina comes to a whirlwind close. Through four books we have followed the journey of Jim, construction manager from our world into the body of Athina; lady of another world. What was one thing that you wanted to make sure you accomplished in the final chapter?
To illustrate no matter the sex or size of a person, we all have our strengths and can shine if allowed.
Athina has slowly absorbed Jim and now they seem to be one person. The transition over the series has been subtle and fantastic. Did you map out this transition or did this happen organically as you went into each book?
I knew I wanted something to surprise my readers, so I was looking for the opportunity as I was writing. So you could say a bit of both however, I didn’t come by the full details of her life’s events until I’d finished Book 2, Lady Athina.
Athina obtains the title of Master Builder. Why do you think this was an important milestone for her character?
By the end of book 4, Athina is inaugurated into the league of Wizards. All through the books I hinted very subtly she had Magical abilities. But not until book 4 did I let them come out so everyone could see. As for Master Builder, that title will come in time.
How does it feel to have your series come to a close?
Breathtaking. My writing style is finishing a story in one book. Working this story into 4 books was a large task for me. Keeping track of dates, places, names and personalities was a real job as it takes me a full year to write a story. In the end though I’m real glad I took the venture.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will that be available?
My next book is a world apart from this one. An arctic wolf by the name of Braxton Snow is my main character. His girlfriend Joann is a jackrabbit. Braxton is a private investigator by trade. The title of this up coming work is, Braxton Snow P.I. With any luck it’ll be out late in the year of 2017.
Athina and Wendell have returned to the house of Burgundy, ready to rebuild and protect the coast; they must not allow landfall to Tallar White’s army from across the sea. But Wendell’s brother betrays them both. Kidnapped, thrown into Tallar’s dungeon, Athina must use all her willpower and wits to survive, escape, and warn her people about the invading force headed to her homeland to overthrow the king. With the assistance of merpeople long believed to be legend, Athina and her allies have a narrow chance to race Tallar to the throne.
More important than the kingdom to Athina, she cannot lose her children to the scheming usurper. Desperate to know how they fare, she discovers latent magic that could turn the tide of battle. If only the men around her would believe the magic is real and recognize her as a Master.
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Jim Sanders left behind modern life when a wizard hooked his freshly-dead soul out of the ether and placed it in the body of a 16 year old girl from the middle ages. I find the setup of Lady Athina to be entertaining. How did this idea start and develop as you wrote?
In truth, it just sort of came to me. I knew I wanted to move Jim into a fantasy world, but simply doing that seemed anti climactic. I pondered for a bit and thought, what would happen if a macho guy suddenly ended up in a small girls body. With this new twist, I rewrote Jim to be a large guy, then gave some hint of his life before I moved him to the new world.
Jim Sanders is an intriguing character with an interesting backstory. What was the inspiration for the main character’s traits and dialogue?
I’ve worked around construction people for a few years and drew up what I considered most wanted to be, a strong, tall and confident man. However, such would be boring without some tragedy to mold his personality. Thus as the story progressed, I sought out meaningful snippets of his life to make him more viable and believable.
Are you a fan of the Sword & Sorcery genre? What books do you think most influenced your work?
Right out of high school, some friends introduced me to fantasy roll playing. We mainly dealt with magic and swords. Elves, dwarves and the like were always on hand. So yes I’m a big fan of Swords, magic and the medieval era. Reading fantasy books also caught my eye, but real history books of the dark ages put everything into perspective for me.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?
My next book is Mother Athina. This is the 3rd book in a series of 4 books. Currently Mother Athina is on the market at Amazon.com.
Former construction company owner Jim Sanders left behind the modern life he knew when a master wizard hooked his freshly-dead soul out of the ether and placed it in the body of a 16-yr-old girl, Lady Athina Green. Newly widowed and displaced, Jim must dodge advances from Athina’s old boyfriend, outmaneuver assassins, and avoid Athina’s father marrying her off to anyone else for political gain. Jim borrows knives and trouble when he jumps the fence and disappears into the night to save himself from a medieval world controlled by men. While on the run, memories of emotional abuse at his own father’s hands manifest in Jim’s nightmares, culminating in an identity crisis that shakes him to his core. With the help of Athina’s few allies, Jim faces his largest trial yet as a woman. It’s time to pull on his big girl panties and face an uncertain future.
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Lisen is not your average seventeen-year-old hermit in the mystical land of Garla. D. Hart St. Martin’s first book in the Lisen of Solsta series, Fractured, takes us on Lisen’s complicated journey of discovering her destiny in a land where people will pay a high price to obtain power. After spending seven years on Earth, Lisen is brought back to Garla to fulfill her fate: become the Empir, bring peace to Garla, and prevent her tyrannical brother from taking over the throne. With the aid of nobles, captains, and magical hermits, Lisen learns how to adapt to the pressures of her new life, embrace her destiny, and win the battle raging inside her head.
Fractured by D. Hart St. Martin is a captivating story of heroism, greed, and fulfilling one’s destiny; but what makes this novel so unique is how the characters, and the world itself, break gender stereotypes and social norms. Fractured is Book One in the Lisen of Solsta series, and this book focuses on the life of Lisen Holt, or rather, Lisen of Solsta. The novel begins with the kidnapping of seventeen-year-old Lisen on a beach in California. Once she comes to her senses, Lisen finds that she’s been taken to Garla, a world that resembles the magical-medieval world of Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings. Astonished with every new discovery she makes, Lisen learns about her new “home” in Solsta, the land of hermits (people with mystical powers who are removed from society). Most interestingly of all, Lisen discovers that she used to live there as a child, but due to a prophetic vision, her guardians hid her away on Earth for seven years to ensure no harm came to her. Thus, when she returns to Garla and Solsta, Lisen feels both uncertainty and vague familiarity, and her memories (and necropathic skills) slowly return over time.
What I loved most about the novel is that it plays with the idea of who (or what) is truly in charge of shaping our “path” in life. It calls into question the idea of fate, and Lisen initially pushes against her destiny when she’s told that she’s the heir of Garla. Lisen also suffers from a memory lapse and must go through extensive training with Captain Rosarel and Holder Corday before she can take over as Empir (or ruler), in order to prevent her tyrannical brother from ruling Garla. I find this theme particularly interesting when combined with the “hero’s journey” plotline, as Lisen is much more complex than the archetypical “hero.” Throughout the novel, Lisen goes through stages of grief once she discovers she can no longer access her old life back on Earth, but several events throughout her journey prove what her life’s purpose truly is.
While some of the minor characters’ voices (such as Eloise and Nalin) were drowned out by the main characters, Lisen is truly brought to life through Hart St. Martin’s fluid and compelling writing style. I thought Lisen’s personality was fun and authentic; Hart St. Martin accurately captured the sassy attitude of a teenager who’s forced to learn a whole new way of living (I mean, who wouldn’t be sassy about that?). While she seems to have accepted her fate by the end of the novel, it’ll be interesting to see where Lisen’s “destiny” takes her next.
Pages: 317 | ASIN: B0098RN2KG
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Storm of Arranon by Robynn Sheahan is a science-fiction fantasy saga of Erynn and her people. This book is a fictional self-journey. Erynn is not entirely who she thinks she is, and as a result, she goes on an epic adventure of self-discovery and acceptance. Along with her personal growth, she discovers another world within her world. Erynn then embarks on a journey with new friends filled with mystery, magic, and murder. Through this excursion from an omnipotent narrator, you are sucked into a unique, wonderful world and learn the intimate thoughts, wishes, and desires of everyone.
This book is astonishing. It is a thrilling ride filled with excitement from the beginning to the end. The opening line in the book grabbed my attention and made me want to continue. There is an air of mystery that also kept me hooked and wanting more. It was difficult for me to put the book down.
Sheahan also creates a refreshing book with a female lead. In most books, the man is rescuing the woman, but Erynn is a strong, independent women calling the shots and fighting her own battles. One part of this I did not like was that Sheahan compared the leading female to a man to show her strength, something I could have gone without. Another aspect was that she was small, which is also another trope with female lead characters. Otherwise, it strays pretty far away from the stereotypes of female leads.
The story is complex, interwoven with various plot devices. There is an entire world the author creates complete with a made-up language. Some of the words were not explained or given context, but you find out what they are or what they represent later. One writing style device I had issues with was the use of italics; there were some instances I was not sure why the author used them.
It is important to note that you must pay close attention to everything going on in the book. Something or someone you would deem as insignificant in most books turns out to be important. There is also a lot of action going on at the beginning of the book, and then throughout the rest of it, do not let that deter you. It may be overwhelming for some, but it is easy to keep track of and incredible. Storm of Arranon is a fascinating, fun read. Overall, the world Sheahan created is a wallop of a tale that fully immerses you.
I got to discover this novel world with Erynn as she discovered it, which left me with a feeling of wonderment. I highly recommend this book to others. I have also seen there are more books in the series, and I am looking forward to reading more about Erynn and her adventures with her friends.
Pages: 287 | ISBN: 1466234970
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