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: 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

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The 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.

RF_Official_Reviewer

Reviewed for Readers’ Favorite

Book Review: Abiku: A Battle of Gods by Elizabeth Salawu

AbikuSynopsis: She was called an Abiku, an evil spirit sent to this world to lure men to their doom

Dayo is a bi-racial twenty something year old with a German mom and a Nigerian dad. She has a semi bougie lifestyle, always jetting across the pond between Africa and Europe.

She starts dating her father’s driver in secret after seducing him.

On her return from her cousin’s 21st birthday in Manchester, she tries gbana (crack) for the first time. She finds herself in an alternate realm and thinks she’s hallucinating from using gbana. She doesn’t take anything that happens there seriously as she thinks she’s having a vivid dream. That is until she couldn’t wake up from getting married to a ‘man’ she met in that realm…

Review: Abiku: A Battle of Gods by Elizabeth Salawu is a unique “erotic” paranormal romance set primarily in Nigeria. The protagonist, Ekundayo (Dayo) is of a blended heritage (Nigerian and German) and labeled an Abiku (witch or one born to die) due to not only this, but a particular mark of birth. Apparently, she’s revered as one of the most beautiful Nigerians because she doesn’t look Nigerian. Many girls are envious of her lighter complexion and longer hair and she earns the title ogbanje (a water spirit) because of this unnatural beauty. Throughout the book, this aspect of Dayo is made quite clear.

Abiku: A Battle of Gods by Elizabeth Salawu is a telling of Dayo’s story to discover her true self. Through numerous graphic sexual encounters and some experimental drug use, she finds herself in an alternate reality. Once discovering this “world” and the intriguing man, Akin, who inhabits it, she continues using the gbana (cocaine) to relive the experience. She’s drawn to Akin’s masculinity and fears it all at once. However, her sexual desire for him outweighs her trepidation, and with great alacrity, she agrees to become his mate and they consummate that bond quickly.

Although she has another lover in the “real” world, Henry (a driver for her family), her lust and unnatural urging for Akin consumes her. During the consummation of their marriage, she understands why she’s drawn to him and also discovers the love she has for Henry.

Abiku: A Battle of Gods by Elizabeth Salawu was an interesting story introducing African gods and mythologies that I’ve studied. The use of ‘Pidgin’ English was also a nice touch. Although the title includes “A Battle of Gods,” there isn’t truly a battle; not a physical one. The true battle is within, and Dayo’s choices and future aren’t certain at the book’s end.

Overall, an entertaining short read.

Reviewed for Readers’ Favorite

RF_Official_Reviewer

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.

He Who Leads

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.