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. 

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Reviewed for Readers’ Favorite

Book Review: Amber and the Hidden City by Milton Davis

Amber and the Hidden City
Synopsis: Thirteen year old Amber Robinson’s life is full of changes. Her parents are sending her to a private school away from her friends, and high school looms before her. But little does she know that her biggest change awaits in a mysterious city hidden from the world for a thousand years. Why? Amber’s grandmother is a princess from this magical kingdom of Marai. She’s been summoned home to use her special abilities to select the new king but she no longer has the gift, and her daughter was never trained for the task. That leave only one person with the ability to save the city: Amber! But there are those who are determined that Amber never reaches Marai and they will do anything to stop her. Prepare yourself for an exciting adventure that spans from the Atlanta suburbs to the grasslands of Mali. It’s a story of a girl who discovers her hidden abilities and heritage in a way that surprises and entertains.

Review (Adolescent Reviewer): Amber and the Hidden City by Milton Davis is amazing. I loved this book and recommend it to younger readers who enjoy fantasy. The story isn’t only engrossing; I was thrilled to see characters who look like me doing remarkable things.

Amber (the main character) is a young girl with special powers who journeys to the magical African city of Marai. She faces all types of unexpected and thrilling twists and turns along the way.

My favorite character was Aisha, because she can transform. I loved that. Corliss and Bissau were great as well, just not as much as Aisha.

Amber and the Hidden City is a great book and a fast read. I finished it in one night. However, I should’ve been sleeping and my mom wasn’t too happy about that.

I’ve recommended it to my friends and hoping for another book soon.

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: 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: 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.