Shiva XIV by Lyra Shanti

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Synopsis: Prophecy rules, science rebels, and the fate of all depends on a boy named Ayn.

Predestined to become the great messiah of his people, Ayn must save his galaxy from disease and war. But when an unknown enemy threatens everyone he loves, the destiny he thought was his spins out of control.

A coming of age story amidst galactic turmoil, Shiva XIV has action, romance, mysticism, and magical creatures. Join Ayn and his friends as his journey to become a heroic legend unfolds!

*Adult themes, intended for mature teens and up.

Review: Shiva XIV by Lyra Shanti is an interesting mix of science fiction and fantasy that blends both genres without an overly complicated plot. This unique tale begins with the birth of Queen Amya’s son (Ayn) who is proclaimed by the High Priest of Deius as the Neya Bodanya. This is a messiah, of sorts, and the second coming of The Great Adin.

Immediate conflict arises from not only within the holy order ruling Deius, but also the factions against the religious aspects and implications of such a proclamation. Whereas Deius has been ruled by The Council of The Holy Dei, many of its denizens reject the council and prefer science to that of religion and prophecy.

Regardless of this opposition, Ayn is groomed as the Neya Bodanya, and sheltered within the confines of the temple. During this time, his interaction with his mother is minimal, while the High Priest, Meddhi-Lan, raises him as more of a son than a student.

The Uh-Ahm galaxy was in turmoil due to the draining of plasmic energy, which is their power supply. After the decimation of one world (Hun), many people turned to their spiritual leaders for guidance as others sought a scientific explanation, thusly fracturing the already brittle filament in which peace and cooperation had been tethered throughout the galaxy.

Ayn is extremely conflicted and apprehensive regarding his importance to the Un as a whole, and his ability to shoulder the responsibilities of his position. His dubiety and confusion is amplified by his inability to accept an abnormality from his birth.

After reaching his fourteenth year, a devastating event separates Ayn from not merely his home, but also his planet. The way this event takes place, had me re-reading a few sections to see if I’d missed anything. I hadn’t. The subsequent events introduce Ayn and his new companion, Zin, to a new world and the struggles that come with it.

Although this is science fantasy, most of the elements appear more a futuristic version of Earth. This is especially so once we experience Xen. With the pawnshops, trains, vending machines, lounges, hotels, etc, it’s like two teens escaping to New York in hopes of becoming stars. However, there are a few species mentioned, hover cars, and the like that keep you in the sci fi element.

Shiva XIV was an enjoyable read with a few interesting characters. Many questions and hints are woven into the plot to cause the reader to wonder what might happen next, and what some characters true relation might be.

Although I love male characters that can also be sensitive, there was quite a bit of crying and pouting. Some of it is understandable, given Ayn’s age, naivety, and inner struggles. However, it started losing its effectiveness when the tears were so prevalent.  In addition, the overuse of exclamation points was a bit jarring. It took a bit of getting used to, but didn’t take away from my reading experience. I’d like to see how Ayn’s story unfolds and where some of the treacheries, alliances, and instant love romances lead.

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 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

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.