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: A Whisper in the Shadows by Tom Fallwell

17619547_10212282468874495_734797574_n Synopsis: The Rangers of Laerean are the protectors of the people, the heroes of Hir. Their exploits are legendary and their great deeds recounted in tales across the ages. These are the stories that will be told for generations.

When the Ranger Baric meets the exotic and alluring woman from Vaar’da, Whisper, he agrees to assist her on what seems a simple rescue mission that soon turns into something far more complicated than he expected. Seeking the source of her recurring nightmares, they discover an artifact of unimaginable power that was likely the cause of the Great Disruption, which destroyed all of Hir, over two thousand years ago.

Their journey soon becomes a deadly and suicidal quest into the Great Divide, an area of Hir where men fear to travel, into the realm of the demonic Manenase, who live under a great volcano in the center of the Boiling Sea. Gathering a small army of Rangers, they delve deep into the bowels of the volcano, Mount Scorch, on a journey to prevent another earth-shattering disruption that could destroy their entire world.

The fate of Hir depends on the courage and skills of the heroic Rangers and their small Vaar’da companion, as they struggle to save the world from impending disaster and face their greatest challenge, and where Baric must face the destiny he foresaw in a dream, many years before.

Review: A Whisper in the Shadows by Tom Fallwell was an immense pleasure to read. As a long-time Epic Fantasy fan, I was immediately intrigued by the blurb and impressed by the cover.

This action-packed novel begins with a meeting with the Rangers of Laerean and an extremely alluring Vaar’da woman named Whisper (Raimerestha). Although the Vaar’da are described as arrogant and even elitist (and not too fond of humans), the rangers agree to a meeting and ask for possible volunteers (Baric) to aid the Vaar’da.

Baric is immediately captivated by Whispers’ beauty, exoticness, and nickname. In fact, after learning first hand how that nickname was earned, he decided to aid her in this quest…an enigmatic quest that was deceitfully represented, delineated in mistrust, and inundated with dangers—both physical and supernatural.

A Whisper in the Shadows will titillate every fantasy fans’ senses with numerous epic battles, magical elements, awesome creatures, new species, shadow walking, and shadow beasts. However, author Tom Fallwell has managed to integrate meaningful, ethical lessons in a manner that flows with the plot, resting beneath the layers of a magnificently crafted story.

Highly recommended for not merely fantasy fans (and Tolkien lovers), but also readers who love a well-told engrossing tale. There’s even a hint of romance to tickle the hearts of readers while delving into the greater aspects of the story. I’m on to book II!

~The audiobook is magnificent. I truly enjoyed Douglass Pullar’s narration. He has fantastic range and brought this story and its characters to life~

Author: Born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in 1951, Tom Fallwell spent much of his career as a software developer and programmer. Now retired from that field, he has taken up writing, which he had always loved to do, but did not have the time to indulge himself in. Now he is writing the stories he had always wanted to write. Still living in Oklahoma, Tom is active in church, running the sound system and sometimes teaching adult Sunday School. He has always had a love of fantasy and science fiction, both in reading and in movies. His love of story telling came as a result of playing table top role playing games with friends, in which he created adventures for the other players to experience.

Book Review: Voices in Crystal by Mary Woldering

51gsH52FsyLSynopsis: When Marai, a shepherd living at the foot of Mt. Sinai in the third millennium BC, sings to his goddess one night, he sees a falling star. Tracking it, he discovers a strange vessel containing crystalline entities resembling earthly stones and gems: the Children of Stone. The Children delight in this simple shepherd and his songs of love.

They ask him to host their intelligence; to bring them to the sages and priests who have spent their lives seeking the wisdom of the stars. When he agrees, he is transformed into a godlike being. Still a passionate shepherd at heart, Marai gathers others, like lambs to his fold. His journey to the wise men of ancient Kemet won’t be easy. Things hidden, that wait in darkness, are always there.

Children of Stone Book 1 – Voices in Crystal begins Marai’s journey toward wisdom. Blending history, ancient literature, mythology, classic archetypes, and personal inspiration, Woldering takes the reader on a speculative and emotional journey through the ancient world, and worlds beyond. Marai and his companions, through the help of the Children of Stone, find themselves walking into, and becoming part of ancient legends.

“Years ago, when I began to study mythology, writes the author, it occurred to me that the gods and goddesses never seemed divine. They acted like super-talented people full of very human passions and shortcomings, appearing in different legends like threads woven into the tapestry of time and culture. This series is the story of some of these ‘gods’.”

Review: Children of Stone Book 1 by Mary Woldering is a well-crafted and detailed story encompassing several genres and epochs seamlessly. Author Woldering has an exceptional expression of prose, delivering an almost lyrically impassioned style interwoven with a dense multi-layered plot.

Marai is but one of the fascinating multi-dimensional characters that you will love. Woldering draws upon aspects of histories, ancient cultures, and religious ideologies while inserting moral lessons and challenges that cause you to not only think, but that pull you deeper into this story until you are lost in her fantastical creation.

Highly recommended. This is not only an Epic Fantasy, it is a wondrous story that magically crosses and merges genre lines with seamless perfection. I have ordered the next book in the series.

Book Review: He Who Leads by M.A.N.

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Synopsis: Amare, the new Chief of the Akachi clan, must find a way to avenge his father’s death while still leading the clan to prosperity and new beginnings. He will combat his way through Earth, Ocean, Skies, and the Stars themselves to lead his clan to the promise land. A true coming of age story is told as he battles personal demons, both physical and mental, to finally become a great leader for himself and for his clan.

Review: He Who Leads by M.A.N. was an interesting read. As a lover of fantasy and science fiction, I was intrigued by the author description. The novel begins after an attack on the Akachi clan chief by a demonic double-tailed lion. After the “creature” succeeds in killing him, his fifteen-year-old son, Amare, becomes the new chief of the tribe. If that was not enough to bear, one of the superior warriors challenges him after Amare makes an unfavorable decision for the clan.

While attempting to quell concerns within his tribe, he must also select a wife and find a new home where they can migrate and expand. This is not an easy task due to the other powerful clans in the area. He calls upon the expertise of his best friend, Ime, the leader of his warriors, Emeka, and his mother. However, it does not take long to discover another coup brewing within the tribe.

After selecting his wife, she introduces him to a powerful ally (or enemy) depending upon if he is able to gain his trust and prove himself a capable chief. But the immediate threats that present themselves take precedence over that uncertainty.

He Who Leads by M.A.N. is filled with unique characters with exceptional abilities. Numerous female characters are emotionally and magically powerful. That is definitely one of the pleasant aspects of this novel.

If you love battles scenes and magic use, this would be right up your alley. He Who Leads has copious, detailed magical battles as well as emotional ones. I would have liked to have more characterization, but I enjoyed the novel nonetheless.

A few things puzzled me. When the novel began, I thought that this was a primitive nomadic culture (they lived in tents—sometimes called abodes), and other than their Umoya abilities, used swords and bows. Albeit, once we meet Onye, that shifts. He begins speaking of anti-matter, teleportation, lightyears, hyper-novas, neutron stars, gamma rays, etc. I had to go back and see if I had missed something.

Another interesting element was the vernacular. At times, this pulled me from the narrative. I would not expect to see phrases like, “ain’t that right,” “doesn’t half-step,” “went down,” “yeah,” and the like. With that and the repetitive mentions of the same Umoya powers over and over, I did stop and catch my breath a few times.

One character that annoyed me was Onye. He is extremely important to the story as a whole. However, his abilities and arrogance were bothersome. I love strong characters, but I had to suspend too much belief for him…even for fantasy.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read. The cues for the POV changes and FLASHBACK changes took a bit more getting used to. Also, the author repeatedly writes an inner monologue and then has the character repeat the exact same thing aloud.

He Who leads was a good read as a whole. I usually look up certain words and names to understand why/if the author used them for a specific purpose. Of them, I was pleased to see that one definition of Umoya is: an immaterial force within a human being thought to give the body life, energy, and power.

I would certainly read more from this imaginative author.

Reviewed for Readers’ Favorite

RF_Official_Reviewer

Book Review: Rites of Heirdron by Newland Moon

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Synopsis:  They poisoned his planet, massacred his people, and violated his mother. Now, they’re coming for him.

A bastard prince, born to a dishonored queen, Zrahnz is the last hope of a dying world nearly decimated after a treacherous interplanetary betrayal. He struggles to reclaim his legitimacy as a ruler and for his planet’s survival. But as he endeavors to unravel the manipulations of the past, a debilitating malady threatens his sanity and his life. If he cannot save himself, his planet will succumb to the corrupt intergalactic alliances aligned against them.
 
The irrepressible allure he feels for an Earth-born visitor, Itanya, threatens to overwhelm him, yet through her, Zrahnz discovers the secret that can ease the devastating agony of his illness. Could she be the key to his survival and the future of Triaxeyn?
 
With Q-1 Raydren at his side, and with the influence of the Oracles, he discovers corrupted truths and a forgotten prophecy. But he must make a crucial, life-saving decision, or else his people and everyone he loves could be destroyed.
 
He was denied his rule, denied his birthright, and denied the one truth that would save his life.
 
He wasn’t supposed to survive, he wasn’t supposed to fight, and he wasn’t supposed to receive, the
                                                     RITES OF HEIRDRON

Review: Taking a chance with a new science fantasy author is usually risky, especially in this genre. And although I got a copy of the book as a prize in a contest, reading the first few pages of Rites of Heirdron impressed me enough to really “sink” in its world. And what a world it was–Newland Moon has a knack for crafting scenes, descriptions and tension that can take your breath away, especially those particular scenes with Zrahnz and Itanya in them.

I cannot give away the spoilers here, of course, but let me try to describe some of its best narrative aspects. The story dredges through a number of meaningful issues–it touches upon the issue of race, although in an “interplanetary” sense, but racism nonetheless. It reminds me of those episodes in the original Star Trek in which the central plot navigated these touchy subjects with thrilling finesse, and that’s the same with Rites. It’s not at all preachy with some of its heavier meanings; instead, author Moon subtly slips everything in between the layers of scenes, right along with the story’s forward movement.

I also love the fact that Zhranz is saddled with both a blessing and a curse in many ways. His power is double-edged, like a Damoclean sword hanging over his head, and that fact makes Itanya’s presence all the more meaningful.

I love the twists and turns of this little book. At its best, Rites is delightfully entertaining and should keep you enthralled for many hours. A great read!

Author: Newland Moon is a Speculative Fiction author originally from Illinois. Even before she started kindergarten, she loved to read. That love only grew and blossomed into a love of writing as well.

Since 2015, she has written eight full-length novels and published four. She loves creating complex, diverse characters and multi-layered plots. Rites of Heirdron – Book I is her first Science Fantasy Romance novel.

When she is not wrangling stampeding miniature dachshunds, being super mom, managing her 9 to 5, or skillfully navigating a grocery store with the skill of a master, she enjoys reading new authors and discovering new worlds.

Book Review: Darkstorm by M. L. Spencer

51Wv7sLuYDLSynopsis: Faced with an imminent cataclysm that will destroy the magical heritage of their people, a secret conspiracy of mages has resorted to harnessing the powers of Hell to save their legacy. The only mages who can oppose them are Braden and Quin Reis: two brothers with a turbulent past and a caustic relationship. But both Braden and Quin are compromised, harboring terrible and tragic secrets.

Will Braden and Quin be able to prevent the unsealing of the Well of Tears? Or will they fall victim to the darkmages’ sinister manipulations and join their conspiracy?

Review: Darkstorm by M. L. Spencer is an exceptionally well-written fantasy epic with dark undertones. Spencer weaves a compelling tale of intrigue, sacrifice, betrayal, and love all enveloped in a magical world on the fringe of war and disaster.

When a powerful secret order is discovered plotting the morally unthinkable, can a few conflicted and emotionally scarred characters intervene in time to prevent an apocalyptic event that would change the very fabric of their existence? The perfidious depth that some might sink when confronted with their own mortality is hauntingly brought forth within these pages.

Darkstorm encompasses strong themes and multidimensional characters. Of them, the irrepressibly scarred Quin is my favorite. I found myself routing for him in some chapters and scolding him in others. With the rich cast of characters—each flawed, yet each reaching within their depths to accomplish a common goal, Darkstorm will keep you engrossed in a fast-moving and sometimes jaw-dropping plot.

The magical element is amazing as well as The Magic Field, the Well of Tears, the Circle of Convergence, and even the thanacrysts (demonic hounds that feed off the life force of a mage). M.L. Spencer’s imaginative musings are to be applauded. I cannot wait until the next novel in this series releases. Highly recommended!

Author: M.L. Spencer loves fantasy, especially favorite authors Robert Jordan, Patrick Rothfuss, George R.R. Martin, David Eddings, Neil Gaiman, Joe Ambercrombie, and Terry Goodkind. 2012 IndieReader Discovery Award for Fantasy.

Book Review: Knights of Emnity by Sedrie Danielle

Knights - Front only.pngSynopsis: Rufus Sosius leads the degenerate Black Knights of the Order of Magia Chaotica, the most powerful of the 33 Orders of Man, during the prophesied Fourth Reckoning.

Each Knight who sits around the Round Table has taken a vow to maintain the balance between the light and darkness in the world and preserve the edicts of the Council of 9. However they fall short of their duties as they become ensnared in the drama of life as a series of bad decisions, broken pacts, and falling victim to fleshly weaknesses creating enmity between the Orders.

As agitation amongst the Orders intensifies, Heaven has sounded the horns of the Fourth Reckoning as foretold in Revelation. While Heaven descends upon the Lower Realms, it is Lord Samedi and his Barons who will meet Heaven’s swords with their own.

Review: Knights of Enmity by Sédrie Danielle was much more than I expected. Being a lover of Epic/High Fantasy, I appreciate intricate, multi-layered plots, numerous characters, and supernatural elements. Danielle delivers this and more.

From the numerous orders of Man, Barons, Angels, etc, Danielle weaves a compelling and intoxicating tale that is of Epic proportions. Although it is categorized as “Urban/Dark Fantasy,” it has a definite epic feel.

You are pulled into this unique world with diverse and completely flawed characters. There is no “good” or “bad” since the reality of the world is imperfection. I enjoyed that even the characters that would usually be considered “good,” had some worse traits than those considered “bad.”
Also, you could tell the depth of research that went into crafting this novel. It was not only the chosen names, but also the historical aspects. Danielle took portions of our histories, cultures, religions, etc. and re-shaped them into Knights of Enmity.

The prose was perfectly reflective of the characterization. With this, I will have to state that Knights of Enmity is NOT for the faint of heart or the casual reader. With a plot this dense, your attention needs to be focused. If you are a skimmer, you will miss some integral elements that build the plot. It is also definitely NOT for the easily offended. There is mature content that is well-written and appropriate for what the author is conveying.

It took me a few moments to sort the profuse concepts. There is a plethora of information and a host of interconnected characters. Once I got my bearings, I did not want to put it down. I was rooting for many characters and wishing pain upon others.

The only downside for me was the cliffhanger. I will be awaiting book 2 with great alacrity and hope that wait is not long. Recommended 100%!

The Author: When she’s not lurking in the depths of Purgatory, you can find Sédrie Danielle at a local coffee shop overdosing on caffeine. She has earned undergraduate degrees in history and anthropology, which if anything, has taught her to write and study. Sédrie Danielle has been writing for the past ten years and produced six novels and about two dozen short stories. Realizing that life is short, she decided to let the world share her love of diversity, fictional carnage and mysticism. After years of studying and practicing the occult, she converted to Christianity but continues to embrace different belief systems which has shaped her as a writer.