Chosen of Trees and of Talons by Jeff Pryor

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Synopsis: Hope is a fragile thread. Imprisoned for over four-hundred years, the Arneisian people tenuously held onto that thread. Generations were born and generations died. Sons were Chosen and given to the sorcerers who imposed the chains of slavery on their people, hoping the one foretold would Return to lead them from their prison. The thread of hope is tested as a new group of boys is Chosen. Their secrets will free the Arneisians or break that thread forever. The survival of a magical forest is in the hands of a young brother and sister. A father refuses to accept their destiny, and fights to protect them from the dark creatures who hunt them. A husband and wife only hope to reunite as he leads an army while she attempts to uncover spies for her king. Their futures, as well as the fate of kingdoms, hang in the balance as a boy fights to fulfill his destiny amid the gathering storms of war.

Review:  Chosen of Trees and of Talons by Jeff Pryor is an impassioned epic fantasy with a multi-layered, in-depth plot encompassing a complex world filled with intriguing characters, creatures, and magic.

Chosen of Trees and of Talons begins after a devastating war. Once the Arnesians were defeated, their king, Je’Hail Mulnaro, had to surrender his life along with his wife, and last Truthseer in exchange for his people’s survival. Although they’d foreseen that The Ones (their enemy) wouldn’t hold true to this agreement, it was the only chance to save his people. After insuring his children were hidden and safe, King Mulnaro prepared a journal and a few magical objects he hoped would aid his people in the future to free them from The Ones and the darkness they serve.

Chosen of Trees and of Talons by Jeff Pryor is an extremely detailed tale with a host of characters. The story is told from numerous points of view throughout the world. After the initial betrayal and the imprisonment of the Arnesians, we learn what The Ones’ plans for these once powerful people are. If they can find a prophesized child amongst the Arnesians, they can unleash the true darkness. In order to do this, they ‘choose’ young men each year from their prisoners that show a particular magical ability. Over the centuries of the Arnesians imprisonment, The Ones have bastardized history, filling the past with alternate facts where the Arnesians were evil aggressors and The ‘goodly’ Ones barely survived their genocidal attempts. Most Arnesians hate their ancestors for these evil acts and praise The Ones for allowing them to live, and giving them the opportunity to redeem their people.

Chosen of Trees and of Talons is far too complex with the different guilds, kingdoms, beasts, sentient forest, magic users, mythos, and betrayals to do it justice in a short review. It was an engrossing read with numerous interesting characters both ‘good’ and ‘bad.’ I’ll be looking for the next novel to see what’s become of some of my favorite characters and creatures alike.

Reviewed for Readers’ Favorite

The Grey Mage by Aidan Hennessy

The Grey MageSynopsis: Before he was the Archmage, he was the Exile…

Driven from his home and made a slave, Aelzandar flees his captors in an unknown land. As the natives turn against him and threaten his life, he is saved by a mysterious cadre who dwell in the Tower of the Magi.

Welcomed into this brethren, he is introduced to their enigmatic master, the Grey Mage Cassian. In this place, Aelzandar feels at peace for the first time in decades.

Aelzandar’s tranquil new life is short-lived when a discovery in the tower destroys this utopian society and drives a wedge through Aelzandar’s new comrades. Deserted by his students and friends, Cassian looks to Aelzandar for help, but what can one slave do against the power of the divine?

Review: The Grey Mage by Aidan Hennessy pulls you in immediately with the pursuit of an escaped elf, Aelzandar, by his Qardleean slavers. Though a short read, The Grey Mage isn’t lacking in action, well-defined characters or interesting plot developments. It’s a novella you could read in one evening and want to read again.

After Aelzandar encounters two spellweavers, Donal and Pedr, he’s both grateful and bemused. He wasn’t accustomed to mere human barbarians being blessed with such abilities. However, he learns that their master, Cassian the Grey, sent them to liberate him and escort Aelzandar to his tower (which is an ancient ruin of Eldaran elves) where Cassian teaches his students the Art. During a cursory meeting with Cassian and his paramour Vanaja, Aelzandar agrees to remain as the “school’s” cook in exchange for his lodging. But when he’s invited to an excavation in the west wing, some extraordinary developments unfold that shape the remaining story and his future. A secret room, a powerful relic, and an ancient evil manipulate a few to conquer the many. A battle of good vs evil ensues and the victor isn’t necessarily predetermined.

With fast action, relatable characters, secret portals to a forbidden land, and magical battles, The Grey Mage by Aidan Hennessy is an enjoyable and engaging story. There weren’t any huge plot twists or surprises, but it didn’t need them. It was an intriguing read with a satisfying end. I’m looking forward to more.

Reviewed for Readers’ Favorite

Book Review: Diary of a Dead Man by David Listzwan

Dead Man
Synopsis: What would happen if you woke up one day and you couldn’t remember anything at all? Even worse then that, some people are telling you that you are dead. Daron knows not only how that feels, but also what it’s like to be told you held the fate of all life. No one likes to be told they are the Chosen One.

Follow Daron through a magical quest and learn why God created life and death in the first place. Be there with him as he stops Gods children (the Angels and Dragons) from destroying everything out of the name of jealousy. Learn the inevitable fate of mankind.

Review: What happens when a Chosen One awakens in a “heaven” consisting of realms created and controlled by emotion and besieged by god’s disgruntled son? Diary of a Dead Man by David Listzwan opens with this narrative and introduces us to Daron the DragonSlayer: a dreamer soul awakening in chaos, disguised as paradise.

Diary of a Dead Man is a unique glimpse into a world created and abandoned by god. Upon Daron’s awakening, he’s greeted by two spirits (Jim and Brent) who provide him with an identity and a mission. After receiving a crash course in the rules and abilities of the realms, Daron learns that the reason for his “rebirth” is to slay Lucifer. As difficult as that sounds, his journey to find Lucifer is compounded by manipulation, sacrifice, and subsisting within multiple realms that can fade his soul while corrupting his mind.

Nothing is as it truly appears as he travels the realms and meets the spirits controlling them. After slaying a dragon and receiving a mystical sword and shield, Daron trains in a protected realm overseen by Peter, the guardian of the gate to the Realm of Life. Albeit, the year he spent training with Jim and Peter, allowed some significant changes to occur in the connected realms. Lucifer’s army is growing and Daron must find a way to unite the guardian spirits to prevent Lucifer from destroying all life. Once Daron visits the spirit realms: fear, contempt, lust, guilt, curiosity, etc, the imminent war begins.

Diary of a Dead Man is a different perspective of God, heaven, the angels, and creation itself. David Listzwan constantly challenges what/who is considered “good” and “bad” by reconstructing the beginning of time and God’s role in it. He also uses Daron as a savior of sorts. I was reminded of aspects of the movies Dogma and The Matrix III in numerous instances. It was a unique read with many imaginative concepts. 

Reviewed for Readers’ Favorite

Book Review: Bad Reception by S.C. Wright

51+eJclwuNL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_ Synopsis: Listening to your parents is hard work. As a teenager, you’re always right, of course, but to them everything you do comes up short. Kana is nearing the end of her teenage years and is already a young woman. With no career prospects, no goals in life, she just can’t seem to attain her family’s expectations. On her nineteenth birthday, an accident caused by her own shortcomings causes a domino effect of chaos turning her life from boring and mundane to terrifying and supernatural. Kidnapped by a vampire and her chauffeur, she ends up the hostage of a host of strange creatures: Chloe, a mild mannered Cajun vampire. Vincent, a Welsh werewolf with a penchant for piracy and a history of drug abuse. Gabriella, a Spanish immortal who cannot die, and her daughter, a shapeshifter. Will she finally find her way back home to her family? Or is family more than blood and kin?

Review: Bad Reception by S.C. Wright isn’t usually the type of fiction that I read. Albeit the synopsis was interesting: a vampire, a werewolf, an immortal, and a shapeshifter? Who wouldn’t raise a brow at that cast of characters?

S.C. Wright captured my interest in the first chapter. We meet Kana and her son Michael, on a train headed into the “unknown.” She’s having a rough time managing her son until she notices a gentleman in the car with her. After introducing herself to him (Theodore Schmidt), the tale truly begins. The circumstances for Kana being on this particular train are interesting, and that’s what greets us in the first chapter.

She begins telling Theodore (in exchange for something she wants) about why she is traveling alone in such a foreign place with a toddler. As is mentioned in the blurb, Kana is miserable at home. She feels unloved and unappreciated by her mother and sister. This goes to the extreme, but is indented to help you understand more of Kana’s reactions to certain situations.

An unfortunate accident on her 19th birthday sets a world-wind of events into motion. Her kidnapping by a vampire and an immortal is only the beginning. Meeting the werewolf and similarly fascinating characters propels this book forward. Each has their own backstory, and we learn more of why they respond to Kana in different ways.

It’s difficult to write this review without giving away any of the more intricate details. Suffice it to say, Kana ends up in a situation that she could’ve never dreamed of with a group of “people” only thought of as imaginary.

Parts of the story are a bit jumpy as well as some of the slang. Bad Reception is an interesting tale for young adult readers. I found myself laughing in a few areas and saddened in others. The cast of characters isn’t vast, but they’re fairly well-developed. However, I would’ve liked a more in-depth explanation or showing of certain characters unique abilities. That would’ve definitely made the story more enthralling. I would recommend this book for YA readers. There’s a bit of a language, but it isn’t overly used. The book needs some editing, but that did nothing to take away from my experience.

Book Review: Darklands by M.L. Spencer

Darklands
Synopsis:
He was once their greatest champion. Now he’s their fiercest adversary.

Compelled to obey the dark god he pledged his soul to, Darien finds himself tasked with delivering the people of the Black Lands from under the curse of darkness which shrouds the skies. With the enemy mage Azár, Darien sets out across a barren darkscape to assume his place as the leader of a people who despise him.

As he journeys deeper into the shadowed waste, Darien is confronted with difficult truths that force him to question every loyalty he has ever held. For there, in the brutal proving grounds of the north, Darien will be inexorably forged into the most dangerous adversary the Rhen has ever faced.

Review: M.L. Spencer’s novels are expertly woven fantastical tales that encompass more than mere fantasy. Darklands (book III) is no exception.

In this continuation of the Rhenwars saga, we’re reunited with some of the characters we’ve grown to love (or loathe) within DarkStorm and DarkMage. M.L. Spencer’s characterization and conflicts reaches new heights as Azár unseals the gateway to the Well of Tears, raising the Eight. With that summoning, the peace of the Rhen is threatened by enlisting their former savior to become their fiercest adversary.

Darien struggles to complete the tasks assigned to him by the dark lord (Xerys) that he’s obligated to obey, while remembering the love and life he led in the Rhen. Conflicted by memories of a life that no longer belongs to him; he strives to gain the honor of peoples that he nearly destroyed.

After messengers are dispatched to the Rhen, this epic tale unfolds in a masterful way. My favorite character, Quin, plays a major role in assisting Darien and protecting (the Prime Warden) Meiran on a perilous journey to the Dark Lands. That assistance is not without a hefty price and sacrifices to both human and demon alike. Through their journey, you learn more of the complexity of Quin, as well as the true nature and elitism of Meiran.

Darian’s conflicts dominate Darklands, and his tormentor (Nashir) twists the proverbial knife at every turn. As he travels with a woman who loathes him, to free a people who want him dead, he’s haunted by a love forever lost. Can he overcome the abuses and demonic hordes to reclaim what’s been taken, or succumb to the brutalities of a world where he no longer belongs?

Darklands is an exceptional continuation in the Rhenwars Saga, and I’m looking forward to the next novel. The decisions made in Darklands will have detrimental consequences for both worlds, separated by darkness and light.

Book Review: Casting in Stone by Morgan Smith

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Synopsis: They said ill winds blew at her back. They said she was cursed, a hex, a jinx, a hissing in the dark. And it was true: everywhere she went, no matter what she did, misfortune seemed to follow in her wake. But that, of course, wasn’t the worst of it.

The evil that seemed to track Caoimhe throughout her life had caused so many tragedies. She fled her old life, trying to lose herself in anonymity , but the unholy circumstances of her birth, and the machinations of those who sought to use her existence to further their own schemes followed her still. Can she overcome a long-dead evil and finally be free?

This epic fantasy tale of medieval swords and sorcery will appeal to young adult and adult readers alike.

Review: Casting in Stone by Morgan Smith is an expertly crafted tale set in a wondrous mythical world. The protagonist piqued my interest and I was immediately plunged into a story that I couldn’t put down.

Casting in Stone is told from Caoimhe’s point of view and starts with a devastating tragedy and mystery. Each chapter is more intriguing than the last, weaving a stimulating tale: the mysteries of Caoimhe’s birth, childhood, benefactors, and a host of peoples spinning their webs of deceit and manipulation.

Most of the story takes place in Rhwyn. However, through flashbacks, we are introduced to different places, times and given greater pieces of the tragedies of Caoimhe’s life. Starting with the hatred of her parents and shunning of all those about her, save her grandfather.

The characters are well thought out and described. I found myself empathizing and rooting for Caoimhe. Though, she seemed an unlikely hero, she was also an inevitable one. Her past was devastating and cruel, and yet, she survived by repressing any emotion. In truth, she may have had the greatest emotion and loyalty, especially for her sister, Meryn.

The level of intrigue is mind-blowing with just the right amount of twists and surprises to keep you interested, not frustrated. I read this book in one sitting and started looking for book II as soon as I finished. Morgan Smith has written a fabulously engrossing tale filled with believable and fallible characters. There’s just the right amount of magical/spiritual elements as not to overshadow the story, but to enhance it.

Book Review: Pawns -The Wielders of Arantha by Patrick Hodges

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The Synopsis: Seven hundred years in the future, the Jegg – a powerful alien race – invade Earth, wiping out half of the Terran Confederation.

In a hidden base under the Sahara Desert, a team of scientists works to mount a resistance against the invaders. Their plan is to fit an Earth ship with Jegg folding-space technology, and travel to the other side of the galaxy to find a mysterious energy source… one that could help them defeat the Jegg.

But just before departure, catastrophe strikes. Only two of the crew survive and make it to their destination: the team leader’s wife Maeve, and her teenage son Davin. What they find on the distant planet will forever change both the future of their family and their planet, as they enter a race against time… and against impossible odds.

The Review: Wielders of Arantha is a series that I plan to follow very closely. Book #1, Pawns, is one of the best books I’ve read in the past few years. It was an engaging and exciting read, and I enjoyed it immensely. The author knows how to pull the reader in with truly wonderful characters that come alive and grab your attention. This is the author’s strongest achievement, characters that I, as a reader, actually cared about.

The action is done extremely well. Not too much, not too little. It is intermixed with the story progression in a very balanced way, and when the action appears, it carries a well-written air of excitement and anticipation for what happens next. In fact, the entire story pulls the reader along for a magnificent and thrilling ride. I found it difficult to put down, and if I did, I was anticipating picking it back up again to read more.

All in all, this is a really great book, full of all the things that make reading fun. A perfect blend of science and fantastical elements that puts it squarely in the Science-Fantasy genre. I very much look forward to more of this series. The author has a fan, and I’m happy to say I’ve found a new favorite. If you love sci-fi, fantasy, or both, this is a book I believe you will enjoy tremendously.

Book Review: The Olympium of Bacchus 12 by William Speir

William Speir
Synopsis: The year is 2614 – 206 years after Earth was destroyed in a natural cataclysm and the United Earth Planets Confederation (UEPC) became humanity’s new home. Spread across cluster of 8 star systems, the 22 inhabited planets of the UEPC thrived and were at peace for more than 200 years… until they came. In an unprovoked attack, alien invaders wipe out the UEPC’s battle fleet and all major cities on 21 planets. Hidden between two great nebulas on the edge of UEPC space, only Bacchus 12 is spared from destruction. The population of Bacchus 12, along with the survivors rescued from the other UEPC planets, must work together to defend humanity and deny the aliens the prize that they desire most – the mineral Olympium, which exists on Bacchus 12.

Review:  The Olympium of Bacchus 12 by William Speir is an engrossing SciFi tale set two-hundred years after the destruction of Earth. The new UEPC-United Earth Planet Confederation explored and eventually colonized twenty-two planets in numerous star systems. During the colonization, the humans alleviated sports and arts careers, focusing mainly on occupations deemed productive and supportive to their new worlds and mythos. This new system appeared to be functioning flawlessly until a devastating attack caused the UEPC to not only rethink some of their accepted practices, but also unite to defend the surviving population from an unknown enemy.

The Olympium of Bacchus 12 by William Speir is an enthralling novel with well-drawn characters. From the Administrator, Rick Douglas, to the director of the Advanced Weapons Division, Allan O’Connor, the cast is believable with great character growth throughout. One of my favorite examples of that was with Bret and Cindy, the Administrator’s children. Whereas they were a tad frustrating in the beginning, they grew into much more by the end.

I also thoroughly enjoyed the realization that even with the advancements they had made when developing this new structure, they had to adopt many past practices from Earth. The obstinacy and ruthlessness of some characters added to the controversy and suspense of the novel, keeping me turning pages.

With amazing space battles, an intriguing plot, and interesting dialogue, The Olympium of Bacchus 12 by William Speir was a pleasurable and refreshing read. I will be looking for more from this fantastic author.

 

Reviewed for Readers’ Favorite

RF_Official_Reviewer

Book Review: The Realm of Eternal Magic by Ted Lampron

51gjsJJtJPL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_ The Synopsis: Thirteen-year-old Bonnie is stranded with two boys on a mysterious island in the Forgotten Sea and their only chance to survive depends on an eccentric recluse who lives in a cave.
The year is 1906, and scientist Nikola Tesla is building a wireless transmission tower on his Wardenclyffe property in Shoreham, New York. Nikola is nearly broke, and unable find financial support to finish his massive tower and fulfill his dream of turning the world into one global network of wireless telecommunications. In the interim, he works on a secret project in his underground laboratory, developing a new invention that will change the way humans perceive space and time. After months of experimental tests, something frightening happens, and he is forced to abandon everything, the project, the tower, and his Wardenclyffe property. The local villagers have no idea why the inventor left so suddenly, and for many years rumors persisted that he built a mysterious tunnel under his Wardenclyffe estate.

Over a hundred years later, three young teenagers discover the secret tunnel while helping volunteers clean up the Wardenclyffe property in preparation of restoring the main building to a modern day science museum. Deep in the bowels of the tunnel, the teenagers discover an old underground laboratory where Tesla conducted secret experiments involving the use of electricity to alter the mind’s state of reality.

The Review: The Realm of Eternal Magic by Ted Lampron is an engrossing visit to a magical world. This novel is perfect for the young fantasy lover with a host of fantastical creatures, lands, and three adventurous youngsters who discover a secret that leads them on an unforgettable voyage into a dimension or realm ruled by magic.

The Realm of Eternal Magic by Ted Lampron begins with the end of a school year and three best friends: Henry, Freddie, and Bonnie. When helping to clean up the Wardenclyffe estate, they discover a tunnel leading to Tesla’s secret lab filled with oddities, complex machinery, and a journal. When they decide to explore, their lives (and reality) changes in a blink of an eye.

After finding themselves no longer in “Kansas,” they are forced to explore their new surroundings in an effort to return home. While traversing this strange new land, they encounter a plethora of intriguing characters, one of which is the Spirit of the Forest—Enchantress Lila. She sends them to seek the help they need and while doing so they meet an undead, an ice queen, fairies, Strigoi, zombies, a robot named Dominus Rabota, wolventrees, dragons, werecats, and more. Like Dorothy in Oz, they are warned to follow the road and not to stray from their path. Evenso, numerous occurrences force them from their destination and add to the drama, suspense, and danger.

The Realm of Eternal Magic by Ted Lampron was an entertaining escape to a magical realm. Can the three find the “key” and Master Armac in time? You will have to read and find out. 4.5 stars, and looking forward to book two.

Reviewed for Readers’ Favorite

RF_Official_Reviewer

Book Review: The Survivors – Book I by JEG

51IZIc7bZHLThe Synopsis: Throughout the world “Gifted” people go about their lives like anyone else in this world preoccupied by their daily lives, unaware of their special ancestral blood line. There are less than a thousand such individuals left on this world. In an effort to attempt to “civilize” this world, the Council of Nine, a Federation of nine Empires occupying this quadrant of the galaxy, had sent some of its people to try and create a human being capable of overcoming their barbaric behavior by creating a new genetic pool with basic traits common to all Empire people: superior intelligence, and telepathic and empathic abilities. Their descendants, the Gifted, born of mixed parents (“gods” and humans) are now emerging on the eve of the annihilation of this planet’s civilizations.

On the morning of 10 April 2020, ironically Good Friday, a religious holiday celebrating the death of a savior, life on Earth would change forever. A nuclear holocaust provoked by an incompetent and feeble minded US President, triggers unparalleled devastation and violent climate disasters. The earth has been severely injured.

It seems like Mother Nature wants to cleanse herself of the human race. This planet is likely doomed…Gaïa is dying.

Their quest for survival is explored in this story.

The Review: The Survivors by JEG is a dystopian fantasy with real-world similarities and implications. The tale begins on Easter weekend 2020, when the ineptness of the American president set cataclysmic events into motion. Due to president “Prompt’s” decisions, other nations rise up and attack the United States, causing holocaustic devastation.

Through these nuclear attacks, mayhem erupts throughout the United States. Some states are completely obliterated, while rogues and militias wreaking havoc and preying on the weak and innocent occupy others. During this time of unrest, numerous individuals band together, being led to a central location.  Among these individuals are the “Gifted,” and they possess telepathic and empathic links with each other. We learn that the “Gifted” are actually descendants of alien/human ancestors bred specifically by a council of nine empires within the Milky Way galaxy.

The Survivors by JEG is an engrossing science fantasy tale with multi-dimensional characters that are interrelated. JEG slowly crafts each of the integral characters and their abilities (supernatural and otherwise) into this well-woven plot. We follow them through their various journeys to find this central meeting place while the Guardian (an alien observer sent by the nine) keeps watch over them. If they can arrive safely, the Guardian will rescue the remaining “Gifted” and those who travel with them.

I enjoyed this dense and plot-driven story. The characters are vast and intriguing as is the narrative. There is a slight cliffhanger, but it is the first in the trilogy. I look forward to reading the next. 4.5 stars, easily.

Reviewed for Readers’ Favorite