B.C.R. Fegan’s Don’t Ever Look Behind Door 32 takes young readers on a journey through the magical Hotel of Hoo where Mr. Nicholas Noo gives his first-ever guests constant reminders to avoid, at all costs, door number 32. Behind each door leading up to 32, guests are treated to many surprises, some creepy and some quite humorous. Entertaining rhymes help light the way through the castle-like establishment as both the readers and the guests of the hotel meet and greet a bevy of characters who have taken up residence behind the first 31 doors. What lies behind Door 32? I’ll never tell!
I really love Fegan’s books for young readers. Lenny Wen, illustrator, creates some of the most vivid and striking images you will find in children’s literature. Wen gives his characters amazingly expressive eyes whether they are screaming in terror at ghosts cooking roasts, doing a double-take at a paintbrush-wielding elf, sneaking peeks at tea-drinking monsters, or (my favorite) marveling at miniature giants.
This particular tale takes on a Halloween feel and serves as a fabulous book to read aloud during October or as part of a monster-themed unit for elementary grades. As a third grade teacher, I can see using this book with my students to study rhyme, compare and contrast the findings behind each door, or as an inspiring writing prompt. The possibilities are as endless as the number of creatures housed behind each of the doors in the Hotel of Hoo.
Fegan does an excellent job of periodically reminding the reader that Door 32 is somewhat of an enigma and, possibly, the most feared of all doors in the Hotel of Hoo. Suspense builds throughout the book as the second-person narrative draws young readers into the different rooms, page by page, and treats them to a fantastic assortment of zombies, ghosts, wizards, and many more creatures of lore.
Fegan and Wen are, book by book, mastering the kiddie lit genre. With each successive book, their plots and accompanying illustrations take on more depth and even more vibrant characters. From the very first pages, this one has the feel of a classic in-the-making.
Pages: 36 | ASIN: B078VSML8V
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In 17th century Japan, a battle between the shoguns and the Lees raged for a lengthy period of time. The shoguns wanted the Lees to come join their elite army, but the Lees remained neutral and peaceful people. After much harassing, the husband and wife became supreme warriors. The Lees began killing whatever shoguns threatened them. After a particularly violent, gruesome battle with the shoguns, the Lees disappeared into the Oakla Mountains for about twenty years . The mastermind, an ancient wizard siding with the shoguns, commanded what was left of the shoguns to patrol the mountains of Oakla trying to find the Lees. Decades would pass.
In those twenty long years, the Lees raised a son who would become known as “the Master.” Phenomenal genetics would breed an individual who became a far better warrior and stronger fighter then both of his parents put together. In the Master’s infantile years, the mother and father went up on the mountains of Oakla, similar to Moses’ summoning of God, where they asked their God for a sacrifice. He answered, and in return of this sacrifice, he would give their extraordinary son, the Master, the power of immortality in the form of Five Scrolls of Terror. Their God asked for the skin from their baby’s head, a threatening request, but would ultimately create a child who would grow into that of the Master: the Skulled Warrior.
As the Lees returned from Oakla on that twentieth or so year, they got ambushed and killed—an attack decades in the making. When the Master found the bodies of his parents, he naturally flew into a blind rage and killed many shoguns, slaughtering anyone who stood in his way. As he battled on Oakla Mountain, his scrolls disappeared off the mountain and were never seen again. As the Master went to the end of Oakla searching for the ancient wizard for retribution, he came across an ancient hut, and inevitably the wizard and the Master did battle. The Master would ultimately kill the wizard, but he would put a curse on the Master that would remain with the Master for nearly four hundred years. As the Master’s statue, which in reality was the curse turning him to stone, was moved by cult followers and believers, it eventually found its way to New Amsterdam, which as we know, would evolve into present-day New York City.
An adventure unfolds as the Master awakens after a four-hundred-year slumber, masked as a mysterious piece of art, to deal with our current world as we know it. And so begins The Dark Legend of The Foreigner.
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A Chronicle of Rebirth, The Magus, begins when Nelina finds herself being taken to the slavers block by her ruthless uncle who was forced to take her in after her parents die. Now he’s looking for some easy money by selling Nelina into slavery. As fate would have it, Nelina is purchased by the even more ruthless Magus of Danthamore. The Magus is popular and powerful and equally dangerous, but oh so sexy. The chemistry between Nelina and Danthamore is sudden and palpable. Their lives are quickly intertwined and the Magus finds himself taken by this green eyed beauty that many consider to be nothing more than a lucky pauper. Nelina must navigate the resentment of the staff while attempting to be more than a pawn in a deadly political game. Can she survive her new life? What will the Magus have to sacrifice for her?
This book takes care in crafting it’s characters. The protagonist and antagonist are both meticulously developed before the story takes wild twists. The writing is often direct, but the beauty of the prose is found in the details. Do the characters fall ridiculously hard for each other a bit too quickly? Of course they do, because this is a love story that doesn’t focus on how they met, but how they will hold onto what they have. What will they do to keep one another?
We get a good sense of the characters before the story takes some wild turns. You’ll be flipping pages as the story switches between the political intrigue of the kingdom and the steamy romance between Nelina and the Magus. There was one thing that I felt would have improved the story and it’s that the author’s sometimes tell instead of show. There were a few events that I was simply told about when I wish (because I can see the authors have the talent) that I was shown.
What I enjoyed most about this story is the turmoil the characters undergo after they’ve fallen for one another. You keep asking yourself, ‘how far will they go’? I think stories are often character driven, but I think this book is a relationship driven story.
If your looking for a romance novel underlined with suspense and punctuated with adventure than A Chronicle of Rebirth: The Magus is for you. A well written novel that begs to be expanded upon.
Pages: 343 | ASIN: B072511ZWY
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Set in the world of Perilisc, Jesse Teller returns to this world with another series sure to captivate readers. The Manhunters series starts off with Song, and tells two story lines that intertwine. Rayph Ivoryfist is an immortal magician that has his own personal demons to fight, but is bound by honor to protect the land and the boy he believes to be the next great ruler. When the prison he built is destroyed and all the evil had brought to justice is released he knew he needed help. Rayph than builds his own army of powerful beings, with his old friend Smear at his side. Parallel to the story of Ivoryfist preparing for battle is the story of Konnon, the father that wants a cure for his daughter’s paralysis. To help his daughter Bree, Konnon must work with his partner Glyss. Together the two of them have a reputation for being unstoppable and deadly. They live up to this reputation, knowing each other inside and out. The two pair’s separate missions will unavoidably end them up together in the town of Song, the question is, who is alive in the end?
Jesse Teller has a way with describing the setting that really makes you feel like you are there. The swamps that Rayph visits, you can almost feel the mud clinging to you, smell the decaying woods and animals used for sacrifices, and feel the tension that the people around the main characters create. The level of detail that goes into settings, also goes into the action. While this is great for really getting into things, those with a weak stomach for gore might not be pleased. Teller describes in detail the torture of some characters, and details the death of many. This level of detail may not appeal to all, but Teller can also detail the compassion and love between two characters just as well. The example of Konnon and his daughter Bree. There is no question about the devotion and love he feels for his daughter, it is relatable and pulls at the heart strings. A father’s undying love and willingness to do whatever he must to save her, no matter what the cost is to himself.
One of Teller’s greatest skills is relationships. Not romantic quest love relationships, but bonds between people and spirits. These bonds draw the readers in sometimes more than the story lines do because they are so powerful and relatable. As I read Song, I felt the bonds that form between Rayph and his army. The magic that makes it so they can all be connected is just a piece of the puzzle, they genuinely build a brotherhood and work as one. Konnon and Glyss while not blood brothers move as one unit together, they are bound and know each other so well there is no need for words. It is a great read for the relationship factor alone. If you enjoy studying and reading about human (or in this case non human) relationship Teller will not disappoint. Through his use of many magical creatures from humans, to fairies, to demons, all working together for a common goal the passion for survival and willingness to put all differences aside for is apparent. Perhaps it is a good lesson for modern society, put our differences aside and work together to defeat the evil looking to rip our world apart.
Pages: 319 | ASIN: B074GP13JC
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The Guardians of Eastgate by Sherry Leclerc, is a classic fantasy tale. Maelona Sima is one of four champions of the race named seers. As a champion Maelona is tasked with protecting one of the four keystones that protect the realm of Sterrenvar from evil. When an evil sorcerer rises up, seeking to enslave the peoples of Sterrenvar, Maelona at the keystone at Eastgate is the first line of defense. But will the prejudice and oppression against the seer people work against her? Maelona teams up with a human prince, Gareth, and a wolf shapeshifter, Blaez, but the question remains, will it all be enough to stave off this tide of darkness?
Leclerc’s book is a fantastic fantasy novel accented with the inevitable threat of evil and darkness confronted by a ragtag group of “heroines and heroes”. Since this is the first book in a series there is a sense that there is plenty more story to come. There is something for everyone though, between world building, action and romance between Maelona and Blaez. Leclerc’s writing is easy to follow and the book itself is not long, just under 200 pages.
The “choppiness” of Leclerc’s chapters left more to be desired, since they seem to cut in every four to five pages. This tended to throw me off more than kept me turning pages. Because chapters can be natural stopping points I wanted the book to take advantage of longer more engaging chapters rather than serving all of the good parts up so quickly.
It was an interesting choice to make a standard figure of fantasy, the seer, into an entire race of people who are guardians. In some ways, it makes sense based on their foresight abilities but I felt like the race needed to have more depth, which could easily be built in the coming books. The Guardians of Eastgate is brimming with potential that should be brought to fruition but is hampered by the short narrative arc. The next book should prove to be more exciting if such world building continues to be developed and deepen the point of view of the characters there in.
Readers will enjoy this novel for how technically well written it is. Wait for the next installment because this story is begging to be expanded.
Pages: 165 | ASIN: B07579TCBC
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The Rashade tells the tale of Mara, a strong willed woman whose life mission revolves around avenging the death of her father. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?
My dad died due to medical mal-practice when I was 16. I was depressed and unwilling to talk about it. So I began to write. The initial thought was simple what if my character could get revenge. Then I began asking questions. Who was she? Who killed her father? Why? The more questions I asked and answered the more the story developed.
Not everybody in the story is who they seem and I enjoyed the progression of each character. What was your favorite character to write for?
My favorite character to write in this set of books is Mara. I created Mara to do everything couldn’t, she’s my extreme alter ego. I loved putting her in impossible situations and getting her back out again. Then there is her complicated personality. I think any time the character is a complex combination it is always more interesting and more fun to write.
The Rashade is a set in medieval fantasy type world that is very detailed. What were some sources that served as inspiration for the world you created?
Some of my favorite movies growing up were The Conan movies and Red Sonja. It wasn’t a surprise that when Xena came out I watched the series every week for years. Then in high school a friend introduced me to Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series. A short while later I found Dave Duncan’s Seventh Sword series in a used book store. The Rashade‘ seems to be a conglomeration of all those things.
The Rashade is the first book in the Chronicles of the Coranydas series and delivers an adventure filled with magical characters and valiant warriors. Where will book two in the series take the story?
There will be a few new characters and you’ll meet other magical races. Mara has a few roadblocks left in her path, one them being her mother. But I couldn’t let Laran get away with murder. There is going to be a war of blades and magic. Only the strongest will survive.
After her father was murdered before her eyes, Mara Coranyda traded a life of privilege, for one devoted to vengeance. Shortly into her quest to find the mage that murdered him, Mara discovered it wouldn’t be an easy task to accomplish. Not only would she have to find the magical artifacts to destroy him, but she would also have to raise an army to stop his conquest of her homelands.
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Breaking Magic takes place in a world where people are genetically engineered for jobs and no one is able to question their function in society. What was your goal when you started and how did it change as you were writing?
This question is interesting, because I’m not really a plotter. The details of each story tend to evolve as I’m writing, and in the case of Breaking Magic, things changed a lot. What the villain did to recreate the world of Imbera according to his own evil design was more complicated than I originally expected. It allowed me to be quite creative in terms of my protagonist’s journey. My goal was to show that everyone has unlimited potential – no matter what society tells them, or the obstacles they face. That did not change, but the story behind it certainly did!
The story follows Callax, one of the workers, as he struggles to overcome his predetermined life and learns more about the world. What was your inspiration for his character?
Callax is the storyteller, and he shares what he learns and the emotions he is feeling without much of a filter! He gets scared sometimes and he says the wrong thing as often as he says the right thing, but he’s brave and determined too. I wanted Cal to be someone the reader could relate to and care about.
In Breaking Magic the Opta are the ruling class and the Exta are the workers. What themes did you use to develop these two contrasting groups?
The overriding theme is the importance of hope, even in the face of the impossible odds that the Exta are facing. The Opta needed to appear invincible, so their leader, the Breaker, is an intelligent antagonist. The Exta are not allowed to grow up, they are engineered to be only fragments of their potential selves, and his magic uses a sinister combination of joy and pain to disorient them. Yet they never quite stop hoping, and this gives them the strength to fight.
How does this book fit into your Legacy of Androva series and what is next for Callax?
Breaking Magic was a great opportunity for me to take a minor character and bring him into the limelight in a standalone book. I expect that Cal will turn up again at some point, but for the sixth book I am writing Galen’s story. Galen is a seventeen-year-old Androvan magician from Seeking Magic, the third book in the series, who abandoned his world two thousand years ago for love of a Terran girl. I plan to return to the core series in the seventh book!
Callax is fifteen, and he already knows he won’t ever grow old. Twelve years after leaving the childstation he will be summoned to the Gathering, where life essences are taken by a deadly, irresistible spell. On his world, this is one of the many ways in which the Exta serve the Opta. His best hope is to avoid an early binding by staying out of trouble.
But in protecting his younger brother Benedar, he was noticed by the Breaker, the evil magician in charge of the Gathering. The closer Callax gets to the ruling house and the girl who lives there, the more he learns, and the greater the danger. A danger he might not understand until it is too late. Callax thinks the Breaker’s defeat will save him, but he is wrong.
Additional information: Although Breaking Magic is part of the Legacy of Androva series, it can also be read independently. If you have read Controlling Magic and want to know more about Imbera, Breaking Magic is Cal’s story. The book retells part of Controlling Magic from Cal’s point of view. Recommended for lower young adult.
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The Battle of Barkow tells the tale of dark vs light, good vs evil, from a world where magic is not all bad, and religion is not all good. He takes readers into the mind of his characters and through them shows the good and bad of society. In the words of Paul Simmonds, “Two men will embark on a journey that will change their lives forever, if there is a forever at all. For in the world that they live it is not named nor is it entirely different from that of our own early world” (Simmonds: prologue). The characters are intricate and plagued by the same assemblage of emotions as any other person; kindness, compassion, greed, hate, bigotry and evil. This superb confluence leaves you wondering who is going to come out on top in this novel, the simple man of God, the magician, the girl that doesn’t speak, or the dark forces that are mounting?
The story starts out with a man, hidden in a cloak speaking with an elderly woman. No names are used, but it is clear the women is a sorceress and he is there for her assistance. He is angry, he feels he has been wronged by others and denied his rightful riches and power, this woman offers him the vengeance he so greatly desires, but warns the price he will pay will be high. While she does not disclose the price, it is implying that it will not be all together pleasant for the man, but he hesitantly agrees desiring his vengeance over all else. From here the story jumps 125 years later. We meet Bolan, a simple man of God. He takes no excessive pride in his status and simply ponders life as it comes, he does not dwell too much on the past or the future. He agrees to take on an assignment for the church delivering holy books to the neighboring towns. With him goes his longtime friend and magician in training Hogarth. Hogarth can do simple magic but longs to learn more, to become something great in world that will make a difference. It is on this journey that they meet Sterre, the young women that does not speak but communicates in a form of sign language and drawings. Sterre has the gift of visions and has predicted a great danger to the city of Barkow. Barkow is the capital of sorts for this world, it is where the Pope lives and where all their laws begin. Towns outside of Barkow are not as strict as in the holy city. Bolan, Hogarth and Sterre travel to the city of Barkow to warm them of the impending trouble that Sterre has foreseen. While they are traveling to the city, the dark forces are also headed there as well. They have no names to start, as readers we only see their evil and destruction, wiping towns out, stripping them of all life leaving no one alive to bear witness to what has happened.
The journey that these three take brings them in contact with many others, some are willing to help fully, others offer veiled advice. Some are strong war heroes that have their own battles to fight but ultimately must decide between their own personal gains or the greater good. We are left looking at a vast cross section of people whose characteristics could be anyone in modern society. In The Battle of Barkow Simmonds is able to show us that their may be darkness in us, but being good is a choice, and often times we fall somewhere in between.
Pages: 240 | ASIN: B06XK7YDBX
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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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Mother Athina continues to follow Jim, a modern man’s soul trapped in the body of a medieval 16 year old girl, as he struggles with accepting his new place in life. How has Jim’s transformation changed in this novel compared to the two previous?
By this book, Jim has discovered he was always meant to be born a woman. Back in modern times, the female part of him was beat out of him by his father. With his discovery of his true nature, Jim becomes Athina. With her acceptance a whole new world opens up to her. Loving a man is a major step. Birthing children another and what they mean to her. With all these new adventures, Athina still must struggle with medieval culture and how they treat women.
The book opens with Athina in prison and her father trying various unscrupulous methods to get her out. What was the inspiration for the relationship Athina and her father have and how do you see it developing?
Chamberland is a normal thinking male in his culture. Back in those times high ranking women were used to mend grievances, even unto being married off to kings or prince’s to prevent war between two townships, provenances, counties, even kingdoms. This is the mentality I choose for her father. Still, I sought to show he loves his Daughter. A task made difficult to show as Athina always saw him as a big bully, like his modern day father. As for their relationship, a mutual respect will aid them to accept one another.
In the first book Jim is Athina, but now it seems Athina is taking over. What is the transition point for you? Will Athina always be Jim? Can their souls ever be separated?
In point of fact, Jim is Athina. This development happened in the course of writing the books. I wanted to present a shock factor, something new in each book that was unexpected. The final chain of events was this. Athina dies in childbirth only to be reborn in modern times as a man. Here, at the age of 41 Jim dies. Yet in Athina’s home world, only seconds have passed after her soul left her body before a master wizard reaches out for Athina’s soul and pulls her back into her body. But as Athina had been born and died in another reality, she has no memory of her first life in this time zone and place.
What is the next book in the series, where does the story go, and when will that be available?
Master Athina is the book title. In this last book, Athina’s trails come to a conclusion, at least for the time being. Athina must face capture by her worst enemy. She must work to save herself, her children, her husband, even the very land she calls home. She has many decisions, but in each case she discovers she truly only has one bad choice to choose. Her final conflict ultimately opens new doors for her future.
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 Burgundy. She now stands accused of treason.
Lady Athina faces her accusers with trademark honesty, bringing into question Lord Tallar White’s claim to Athina’s former home and its important seaports. For the good of the kingdom, her father and Lord Wendell’s father must wrest control of the border country from Lord White, who is fomenting a new civil war. Forced by politics to marry a son of the Blue Lands, she makes her choice and becomes Lady Athina Blue. If only being the lady of the house didn’t require jewels, tiaras and asset-baring fashions!
When Master Wizard Giddion returns with another mind-blowing revelation about her soul, Athina begins to see the larger tapestry. Assassins hide behind every post, putting her new husband, Lord Wendell and her other loved ones in danger. She now straddles an unprecedented level of power and influence over four major houses at once. She would give it all away to simply accept Wendell’s love and become Mother Athina.
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