- See more at: http://myblogrtricks.blogspot.com/2014/07/how-to-show-post-title-before-blog.html#sthash.p9yUfIwF.dpuf

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Steve Umstead's Wrinkled Shorts Are Intense!

Let me tell you, doing a search for 'wrinkled shorts' can bring up a lot of giggle worthy images. 

And don't get me started on the number of times I had to rewrite my title to keep the tongue in cheek humor to a minimum!

I'm sure you know where I'm going with this one... It's time for another short story collection. This one is a collection of 5 short-shorts written by a single author.

image via http://images.barnesandnoble.com/images/201090000/201094170.JPG

Wrinkled Shorts is a sci-fi-/horror/suspense collection of short stories written by Steve Umstead.

So what's it about?

A boy helps defend the planet against ruthless alien invaders. * A man ferries cargo to an island and discovers that all of its buildings are gone. * A mysterious, unwanted package shows up at a woman's door. * On their anniversary, a woman gives her love the chance to do something great for humanity via an organization she found through social media. * A college student takes part in a sleep study in order to make some extra cash.

A great smorgasbord of scenarios, right?

Each short is unique, even though the narratives all clearly come from the same beautifully twisted mind. I had no qualms about switching from one genre to the next, lulled into compliance by the author's silver tongue (or should that be pen? Keyboard?).

It's not often that an author can lead you from one story into a vastly different second one without making you pause and take time to examine a whole new world, but Umstead did exactly that.

No breaks needed. 

The intensity of each story propelled me into the next, my mind seeming to transform, accepting each new world with no need for explanation. What I mean is that the environment within each story was exactly right for the scenario within its pages from word one.

Not once did I think,
"Where the heck did that come from?"

Umstead could have created a world in which cotton toasters swam through lava propelled by the currents within hippopotamus venom and I would have believed it... I would've even demanded more.

Interestingly, my favorite story was not the one that I was most interested in reading when I downloaded this title. Incursion (sci-fi), the first of the stories, was the one that originally caught my attention, yet Opt-Out (suspense), the fourth story, was the one that caused my heart to beat wildly, sending shivers down my spine. The impact of that short lasted far beyond the length of time it took to read it.

How long was that?

About thirty minutes. Maybe forty-five. See? I told you I couldn't put it down... my eyes raced across each page as though they were running a marathon. I could. Not. Stop.

Now, this wasn't perfect, of course. I had a vague idea of what the ending of story one would be, so the twist wasn't quite as twisty as I'd like. The third story, likewise, wasn't quite as chilling as I think it could have been.

On the flipside, however, the first story didn't need to wow me with a spectacular twist. It was amazing even without a mind-blowing surprise at the end. And the third story? If you ever watched episodes from Tales From the Darkside, you'll love it unconditionally.

And Opt-Out? My favorite within this collection? Let's just say that it does a very good job of reminding us about the importance of reading the fine print. Always.

Always.

Don't forget that.

If you're looking for a good collection of short-shorts to make your lunch break more fulfilling than usual, you'll want this one. A lot. Like, really a lot.

Wrinkled Shorts can be found on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords. It's also available on Scribd, which is where I got it.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Sword of Agrippa by Gregory Lloyd Has Me Excited!

Today, I'm doing something vastly different from the norm.

After being contacted by the author, I've elected to review a sampler of his soon to be released novel. That means I've only read the prologue and the first two chapters.

image via http://www.longandshortreviews.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/SWORD.jpg

The Sword of Agrippa is a yet-to-be-released, metaphysical sci-fi novel written by Gregory Lloyd.

So what's it about?

Ever since the death of the woman he loved, Roy Swenson has searched for a new energy source: something that will make the world a better place for everyone. He has also self-experimented with lucid dreaming as a way to find complete freedom of thought. He does find a type of freedom... by viewing the ancient past through the eyes of Agrippa, a soldier that journeyed within Emperor Caesar's entourage trip during a journey to Alexandria.

I was a bit nervous about this one, having never reviewed a sampler before. I wasn't sure how I'd feel about reading such a small portion of an ebook. What if I truly like it? Can I recommend something I haven't read through to the end?

Those questions and more swirled about within my brain, threatening to suffocate me with my own anxieties. But then I realized something...

If you don't try something different, you'll always wonder what could have happened if you did.

And you know what?

I'm glad I did. Lloyd is an immensely intelligent person that has no fear of metaphor - and uses it with great effect. Adjectives, which have a tendency to slow down the action in most stories, are used aplenty... but they're all necessary here, adding to the story, rather than detracting from it. Not only that, but he's an author with the ability to make science seem like poetry.

Oh, wait... I'm biased. I have a degree in geology.  

But this wasn't geology that he wrote about - it was theoretical physics... something I'm not prone to getting excited about. Yet, I did. Dark energy became beautiful. A discussion about energy and sensors? Riveting.

Lloyd took a risk.

Sword of Agrippa is set in the very near future. The reason I call this a risk is that it could backfire. If specific social scenarios within the reality-based portions of the novel don't occur in the next few years, some readers may hold it against him.

Personally, though, I liked that.

It's a calculated risk, and it's very low-key. At the moment, the political and social atmosphere he created is very believable. Those of us with a more pessimistic worldview would even go as far as to say it's accurate.

In Sword of Agrippa, Lloyd makes a good case about the intellectual dangers inherent in our society. As various religious, political, or even scientific groups become more and more staunchly certain that their ideas are the only true and correct ones, we shove true creativity and innovation to the sidelines. Fitting in becomes more important than thinking independently.

If you're looking for easy reading, you won't find it in Sword of Agrippa. 

But! If you want a story that flows well and makes you think, you'll find it within these pages.

As I said previously, I've only read the prologue and the first two chapters. Having not read the entire ebook, I can't recommend it... but what I can do is say that if the rest of the book is as intriguing as the first few chapters, it'll be a great one!

The Sword of Agrippa sampler can currently be found on Kindle.

(Expect updates on links to the full ebook once it goes live)



Saturday, July 26, 2014

Maree Anderson's Freaks of Greenfield High Was Freaking Awesome!

I discovered the latest ebook I'm reviewing 
by complete
and total
accident.

And I'm glad I did!

image via http://www.mareeanderson.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/freaks-of-greenfield-high-600x800.jpg
Cover Design by Rob Anderson

Freaks of Greenfield High is a YA sci-fi romance written by Maree Anderson.

So what's it about?

Jay thinks faster, moves more fluidly, and has more strength than any other person her age. Of course, that makes perfect sense when one considers that she's a cyborg. What doesn't make sense, though, is that after meeting Tyler she has had to struggle with unusual and foreign emotions. She's evolving, becoming more than a cyborg... becoming human. Jay needs to come to terms with these changes while navigating the halls of a high school, keeping herself as low-key as possible, and evading the people that seek to use her highly sophisticated body as a powerful weapon.

As I said, this one was an accident.

While navigating through recommendations for me after downloading an ebook, I found one that looked spectacular... then clicked on this one when my daughter hit my elbow, attempting to gain my attention.

"Crap." I thought. 
"Whatever... I'll go ahead and see what this is about. I might as well."

So I did exactly that after tending to my daughter, and I have no regrets.

You've probably figured out by now that I wasn't particularly interested. The title seemed a bit silly, and the cover art didn't exactly make me want to read it. It felt... blah. Even the blurb didn't do much for me.

But I really liked the idea of a cyborg love story. It's not something you read every day, after all. So I went ahead and read the first few paragraphs. Then the next few.

And then a few after that!

Aside from a few proofreading errors, this ebook was spectacular. Not just a little good. Not not even really good.

Amazing!

The story of Jay's evolution was meticulously crafted. Dialogue changed over time. Sentence structures changed, and her word usage became less precise and more conversational. The reader could truly witness her evolution into something more than just a cyborg.

In fact, I ended up loving this so much that it became...

The newest Treasured Tome!
The newest Treasured Tome!!!
Yep. It was that good.

I know what you're thinking. How in the world could this be a Treasured Tome if I had so much reticence about even reading it, right? I mean, I even complained about some proofreading errors.

But that's the thing.

This story was so powerful that I was able to forget those issues. Rather than nitpick about various technical problems, I found myself living and breathing the words within the pages.

And I cried!!!

That didn't happen until the last 25% or so of the book, but I cried for a decent amount of time when it did. Prior to that, however, this story took me on an intense, emotional whirlwind. How so? Well, I laughed, I became angry, then I became very angry. Anderson also threw in a heap of loss and social fear, then added in some new love.

The result was similar to tasting a favored dish for the very first time. You feel that same mixture of physical and emotional pull, complete with momentary sense of floating.

Or, at least, that's what happened to me the first time I tasted creme brulee...

But you get the picture. This ebook makes you feel as though you've just placed your hands on a glorious treasure. It gives you both the yearning to share it, and the desire to keep it only for yourself.

Anderson has mastered the skill of emotional manipulation, and I love her for it.

Freaks of Greenfield High can be found on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords.



Special Note: The new cover image is far superior to the original that I saw:





Thursday, July 24, 2014

Melissa Wright's Bound By Prophecy Kept Me Spellbound!

Ready for a smashingly good urban fantasy?

Great! Because I just read one that you won't want to ignore.

image via http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-kKIpqneNeFA/UXAv1lTSQ0I/AAAAAAAAAZY/hMa0ER-RPQg/s1600/wright_bound_ebook.jpg
I have yet to discover the cover artist's name.
Whoever it is, though, the work is great!

Bound By Prophecy is the first installment within Melissa Wright's Descendants, an urban fantasy series.

And it's FANTASTIC!

So what's it about?

Aern has one primary focus: to protect the Chosen at all cost. A devastating war is about to begin, as foretold by prophecy, and one girl holds all hope for everyone. That girl is safely hidden, but Aern is being hunted by the enemy. To top it off, he has managed to find himself stuck with the Chosen's sister... a strong, independent young woman who will stop at nothing to keep her sister safe. Aern realizes that if they don't work together, she could be used to draw the Chosen out from hiding. If that happens, everyone is doomed...

Wright's storytelling ability is fabulous. 

Bound By Prophecy kept my interest from the very first paragraph until the very end. The pacing of this ebook kept me at rapt attention throughout, ensuring that I ended up with leftovers for dinner, since I couldn't be bothered to take times away from it to do something as silly as prepare food that would require me to remove my eyes from the pages.

Her characters were all believable, but what I really loved about them was that they had real flaws: flaws that you would expect anyone to have. These quirks added to the story, rather than detracting from it.

And they were very specific to the well thought out personalities in each character - including the ones that were only seen for a fraction of time.

One of my favorite characters was in a total of maybe 8 paragraphs of the entire book.

Yet I loved him. And no, he didn't take any of the spotlight away from the main characters - Aern and Emily. He couldn't. I was too focused on asking fate to make everything work out for them. Because, you know...

They're only trying to prevent an all out, brutal, and ferocious war from breaking out. 

As you may gather, this ebook packs a great deal of action within the pages. Indeed, our heroes run into non-stop trouble at every turn. There's violence aplenty.

But there is also tenderness.

Wright creates an intoxicating blend of the two, and does it with ease. Or at least, that's how she makes it look. Not too rough, not too soft. It's a mix that makes anyone happy.

It's not perfect, of course. There are a few spots in which this dialogue driven ebook is a bit narrative heavy. This upsets the otherwise equal balance...

But this is rare.

Bound By Prophecy is well worth the read. Pacing is excellent, characters and dialogue are true, and the story draws you into its grasp, refusing to let go.

Bound By Prophecy can be found on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Griffin's Boy by Julia Hughes Sets Your Imagination Soaring!

Have you ever dreamed of soaring the skies...

On a griffin?

image via https://dwtr67e3ikfml.cloudfront.net/bookCovers/0474ab89222f0ca74fc6b629fcb29e7882110ad2
Artwork is an image engraved by Gustave Dore via Ludovico Ariosto,
and adapted for the cover by LLPix Designs

If so, you'll definitely be interested in The Griffin's Boy, a YA fantasy written by Julia Hughes.

So what's it about?

As a commoner, Neb's future will be one of drudgery... that is, until he decides that Balkind, a young griffin, deserves a place as a mount within the ranks of the prestigious Griffin Riders. Though Balkind is chosen, his intelligent and troublemaking nature causes him to be left behind. 

Neb, who has cared for Balkind since the griffin was a baby, refuses to let Balkind's opportunity slip away. Leaping onto Balkind's back, the two of them ride off in pursuit of the Dragon Riders. Neb is determined that Balkind will get his chance at greatness.

On the way, though, Neb and Balkind discover a young child in danger, and a village in trouble. Once they become involved in the situation, the pair's lives change profoundly.

Hughes created a beautiful and rich world full of people who had real problems. 

The world was both vibrant and dark, dependent upon the given situation, and the environment felt true. Hughes didn't just create a world... she lived it.

But that's not all!

From minor characters that only spoke a few lines to those of prominence, every single person within this ebook was three dimensional. They had flaws and perfections, fears and dreams. Hughes didn't cut any corners. Even the griffins within the pages had individual personalities.

I was transfixed.

I started and finished The Griffin's Boy in a single day. Seriously. Not only did the world and everything in it feel real, but the action was high, and the story complex. 

Hughes wove plenty of plot twists and mysteries into this ebook. I've mentioned that I love to place myself into stories as I read them. It's not always possible, but in this case, every break I took was filled with ideas of how I could solve the problems the characters encountered, or where the characters would discover me (thereby including me in their adventure). 

Yep. I'm the bookish version of a camera ham. I admit it.

And Hughes gave me plenty of opportunities to bask in that glory!

This was almost a Treasured Tome. So what held me back from giving it that designation? Well, for whatever reason, though the characters were spectacular, the story engrossing, and the plot complex, it was missing something on an emotional level. 

My heart didn't beat hard enough to feel like it would burst through my chest, I didn't cry, I wasn't enraged, and I didn't feel a strong personal connection with anyone. The characters felt real, but they felt more like acquaintances than friends or enemies.

I'm not entirely sure why, and that may just be me. It's very possible that you'll feel differently and believe it should be a Treasured Tome. The writing is solid and the story is brilliant. So give it a read. 

You won't be disappointed.

The Griffin's Boy is available on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords.







Saturday, July 19, 2014

Devoured By Jason Brant Gives Us Some REAL Vampires!

Terrorist Attack?

Inside job gone awry?

Either way, the future isn't looking so good for humanity.

image via http://michaelloring.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Devoured-ebook.jpg

Welcome to Devoured, first book within the post-apocalyptic Hunger series written by Jason Brant.

So what's it about?

Lance York has hit rock bottom. He has no job, no future employment is in sight, he's in the midst of a particularly nasty divorce, and suffers from depression. Things just can't get worse. That's what he thinks, however...

One day, he discovers a woman that is clearly sick, and not in her right mind. She walks right in front of a car, oblivious to the danger, and Lance jumps out to push her out of the way. He gets hit instead, and winds up in the hospital. Soon after he wakes up, the hospital is inexplicably shut off from the rest of the city, quarantined.

A virus is sweeping across the nation's large cities, sickening its victims. This virus transforms people into hideous monsters that have lost all humanity, replacing it with rage and hunger. The woman Lance saved was one of the infected...

I'll be honest. I thought this was going to be a run of the mill zombie ebook.

I was wrong!

It shares many of those characteristics, but it goes beyond that - the people that have been transformed are still alive - no undeadness. Can I say 'undeadness'? Is that even a word? No? I claim it as my own, then...

It was different. These creatures were strong, they had a taste for human flesh and blood, and they stayed away from the light. 

That's right - 

Brant wrote about vampires! Not the lovey-dovey, pretty, sweet, and sparkly kind, but the awesome kind. 

The kind with no soul.
Brutal.
Animalistic.
And smart.

Exactly what I love! Bela Lugosi's Nosferatu... on PCP! And bigger. With enhanced limbs and musculature.

Ok, maybe they're nothing like Nosferatu... but you get the point. These creatures are awe-inspiringly complex and nasty - anyone that's looking for a vampire novel that doesn't portray them as beautiful will love Brant's descriptions.

I did have one problem with Devoured, however. Occasionally, I found that the dialogue didn't feel true. There were incidents in which I felt a particular character wouldn't speak in a certain way, or use specific speech patterns. This stretched my belief a bit thin, at times.

But overall, this ebook took me into imaginary territory that I was happy to follow it into. The action, sequence of events, and environment were all well written and believable.

And! And! And! 

Awesome vampires!

Forget the mushy, sympathetic, likeable vampire! Brant gave us the type of blood sucking, flesh eating creature of the night that many of us have been screaming for... and made it into a living, breathing beast.

Devoured can be found on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords.







Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Sky is Falling!

The sky is Falling!!!

No, not really. It's not. It may feel that way to some of you, however, and I want to apologize for that.

What in the heck am I talking about?

Some of you may have noticed that Undiscovered Tomes hasn't been very active this week. Facebook posts and tweets have been minimal. Don't worry. They'll jump back up to the norm relatively soon, and when they do, I'll give you a full explanation of everything - you deserve that.

Emails, tweets, and comments aren't being ignored. I love you guys, and wouldn't do that to you. Rather, I'm holding back as much as possible right now in order to ensure that I can give you my full attention. I have a lot going on right now, and I don't want to rush through any correspondence with any of you. You're worth more than that.

So remember, the sky isn't falling. I'll be back up to full speed relatively soon, and the reviews will go on - even during this hectic time frame.

Thank you for having patience with me. Review posts won't be neglected. You'll still get plenty of those.

Yay!

P.S. I also apologize for any grammar errors in this post. I'm in a bit of a rush. ;-)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Ian Cumpstey's Warrior Lore: Ballads That Make You Want to Sing

Sven Snow-White.
Say that three times, and fast!
Come on, I dare you!

No I haven't lost my mind. Well, yeah I have, but not because of the latest ebook review I have for you!


image via http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1403518702l/22568870.jpg

Warrior Lore is a selection of ballads translated from Scandinavian folklore by Ian Cumpstey.

So what's it about?

Heroes battle with trolls, fight for desired maidens, and duel each other. There's even a short ballad staring Thor, Loki, and Freya. These are old tales, and were translated into the English language via writings from the 19th century, complete with documentation, and also includes a brief summary before each ballad in order to guide the reader.

Pretty heavy stuff, right?

While I don't intend to start reviewing translations of historical documents - that's not my forte - I'm certainly glad that I agreed to read this when Cumpstey brought it to my attention. 

The thing is, these ballads are fun! Sure, they're written in a lyrical format, and sure, they require me to think a wee bit harder than an ebook normally requires, but these ballads are packed with action. I mean,

Freya got so angry that blood shot out of her fingertips!

Seriously. Exciting stuff!

There were a couple of lines that didn't quite seem to work, but Cumpstey was sure to keep the poetic style flowing smoothly, to the point that I wished I could hear these ballads sung. I'm not normally one for ballads, either, so that's high praise.

I read this because he mentioned one of my favorite creatures - trolls. I have a huge collection of them staring down at me in my office. Their nasty hair and gigantic noses make me happy.

As you can see, it doesn't take much to keep me happy...

But even though I read it so that I could enjoy some real Scandinavian troll stories, I came to love it on its own merit. This is a spectacular work, and if you enjoy Scandinavian folklore, or even just tales about the Norse gods, it's worth reading. Cumpstey was diligent in his research, and he truly took the time to ensure the reader loves these Ballads as much as he obviously does.

Warrior Lore can be found only on Kindle.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Step Into Eden, Dawn and Experience Archer Swift's Beautiful, Deadly Paradise

Do I call this one horror?

Or do I say it's dystopian?

A thriller, maybe?

Perhaps I can call it sci-fi?

No, it's not any one of these... it has the makings of all three. Today's review covers a thrilling dystopian horror within a science fiction environment.

Take that, genre rules!


image via http://archerswift7.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/with-quote-eden-dawn-final-smashwords-cover.jpg?w=203&h=300

I'd like to introduce you to Eden, Dawn: The Chronicles of Paradise, by Archer Swift.

So what's it about?

The Earth's final days were sudden. Climate change, war, and the breakdown of society as a whole was all any of those chosen to board the Ark, a space vessel leading to a new chance for humanity, would remember. Thirty thousand people left on a pilgrimage to Eden, a new planet that could support human life. It was to be a new beginning for what was left of the human race.

Within 48 hours, however, a staggering number of those that made the journey were dead. Ten Earth years later, the number was down to under four hundred. Humanity was an endangered species. Eden was not the paradise they thought it would be, and every day since their arrival was a fight to survive. Their strongest weapon against Eden's perils was their strong sense of community, their willingness to work together.

But the strong unity of Eden's settlers is now breaking down, and extinction is sure to follow. This is because of themThey are picking off the colonists one by one, and nobody knows how or why. Nobody even knows who or what they are...

You can see why I added horror into the genre mix there, right?

But I have a confession. The truth is that horror is a very good description of the intensity and suspense that a reader is put through in the first third of the book... but then everything changes. I loved the horror aspect. The blend of fear, nervousness, and lack of knowledge about the enemy was quite gripping.

Normally, a change in mood that propelled me out of the realm of horror and into the realm of sci-fi thriller would feel jarring.

Here, though, it felt right.

Swift created a vivid world filled with complexity and loaded with intricate detail. This wasn't a fortuitous accident... a bestiary (written in a character's POV) can be found at the end of the book, and  the in-depth descriptions of Eden's wildlife adds to the reader's enjoyment. Swift took time on the research, and it shows.

Further, I was entranced by the descriptions of them. 

What did they look like? Well... I can't tell you that. See, I didn't know until midway through the ebook, and that added to the suspense and interest level. I refuse to take that from you. Suffice to say, they are very different from anything I've previously read about.

Eden, Dawn did a spectacular job of creating a society in ruin. It felt like a cautionary tale, warning us against narcissism and arrogance. It focused on empathy and community as the key factors toward a better future, yet came nowhere near feeling sappy.

In a word, awesome.

The only thing that kept me from landing headfirst into the center of the story and refusing to leave was some clunky sentence structure and a few grammar problems. I know this sounds nitpicky, but it was incredibly jarring... largely because this ebook was so finely crafted. Saying that somebody went passed a tree causes me to turn into a tooth gnashing grammar fiend.

Ok... maybe I am a bit nitpicky... but it still jarred me straight out of the story a few times.

However!

As much as I may complain about grammar and word usage, Swift wrote with a strong and active voice. Eden, Dawn was believable and engrossing. If my biggest complaint has to do with a few tiny errors in grammar - and I do mean few - I think it's safe to say that Swift is an author worth reading.

If you like intense sci-fi thrillers, I highly recommend Eden, Dawn.

Eden, Dawn is available on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Magnum Opus: Deina Furth's Steampunk Brilliance

"A dark steampunk tale best enjoyed with a glass of scotch...
And scrambled eggs."
- Deina Furth

This line blew away all of my own attempts to come up with a good opener for the latest ebook review!

image via https://dwtr67e3ikfml.cloudfront.net/bookCovers/e3da54eba5027a96664499f9d7a3a251b83c25e8
cover design by London Burden
and Alexis Swartz

The Magnum Opus is a dark steampunk novelette written by Deina Furth. I've been craving steampunk for a while, so the second I saw this cover staring up at me... downloading of the title was a given.

So what's it about?

To Rastigan, only one thing matters. He seeks to create a perfect living doll, one capable of emotions, reasoning, and loyalty. He never succeeded before, but now he has created Evangeline, his magnus opus. 

I was first introduced to steampunk via Final Fantasy on my super nintendo. As I travelled across lands in Cid's airship, however, I had absolutely no clue that airships were a part of the steampunk genre - I didn't even know what steampunk was - I just knew that they fascinated me.

That, of course, wasn't true steampunk, but it was my first taste.

It propelled me head first into looking for more, and I devoured the whirring and clanking of the steam powered machinery while dreaming about the robots and victorian fashions that came with it. I was hooked.

Even today, I'll find myself looking for steampunk themed eyeglass frames. I don't wear glasses, but someday I might. It's good to keep your bases covered, I figure. Besides... everything steampunk is just awesome.

And Furth didn't disappoint.

Her tale of Rastigan's life achievement kept me spellbound. The world was dark and Rastigan was even darker. An inventor left alone with his work for too long, he wasn't quite right.

And his crowning achievement? His lifelike doll?

She was a woman that anyone could love. Well, as long as you can get past the whirring and clanking, that is. Evangeline had wants and needs, and her desires were something we can all relate to. Rastigan was the inventor, but she was the star.

The length of this ebook is very short, but it leaves you thinking long past its completion. It also makes you wary of lifelike dolls. I look forward to more from Deina Furth.

The Magnum Opus is available on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords, as well as Scribd.


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Go On 'A Flight of Marewings,' a Fantasy by Kristen S. Walker

Political corruption.

Social inequality.

War.

No, I'm not talking about the current state of affairs. Rather, this is the environment surrounding the latest ebook I read.

image via http://a.wattpad.com/cover/11369570-256-k45177.jpg
Cover Art by Jennifer Cox

A Flight of Marewings, Wyld Magic: Book 1, is a fantasy novel written by Kristen S. Walker.

So what's it about?

Korinna's life was simple: She ran the estate that her father, the duke of Kyratia, had gifted to her mother, and she did it well. That all changed one day, though, when the shade of her father appeared, giving her warning of his death. Korinna hurried to ready the estate for visitors, knowing soldiers would be there soon: Though an illegitimate daughter, she was also his only living child.

She's taken before the council by Galenor, the warlord and marewing rider charged with keeping Kyratia safe, a man that she's been promised to. They expect to marry and rule Kyratia together. But the council has other plans...

In A Flight of Marewings, Walker creates a magical hybrid: part horse, part demon. The result? Dangerous horses with sharp teeth and wings reminiscent of those on a bat. The creatures are intelligent, strong, graceful, and deadly. Few can tame one, and a marewing will never accept another rider. They're fierce, distrusting and quick to anger.

Nothing like the pegasus of legend.

Walker did a fabulous job of creating realistic and fascinating creatures. I fell in love with the marewings, as well as some of the other creatures she dreamed up.

But! There were others that I saw as vicious and cruel. The wyld was a dangerous place, and protection from it, through the grace of the allfather, Deyos, was essential.

These creatures - all of them - breathe

They come alive for the reader in all of their glory. It's quite obvious that the author spent a great deal of time researching each individual quality that these beasts displayed. They were highly believable, and when picking them apart, I was able to see, in many cases, which real-life plants and animals they were based on.

And the characters?

Yep. They were realistic, as well. Especially Korinna, the protagonist. I found myself bound to her, needing to know that everything would work out. She wasn't just a character, she was real. Her worries were mine. Her fears, her joys, her frustrations, her achievements. All of it.

Indeed, this was on its way to becoming a Treasured Tome. 

My feelings for Korinna were so intense that I cried. I had great, gushing waterfalls of tears that turned my eyes puffy. This caused me to hide from prying eyes so that I wouldn't have to explain myself. This happened not once, but three times. Powerful stuff.

So what happened?

The last chapter happened. That last chapter was basically an epilogue. Unfortunately, it was too good at wrapping up loose ends, if that makes any sense. Everything fit together so well that it drew me away from wanting to read another book. I didn't feel that I had any need to do so. The mystery was removed.

This is unfortunate, because I was head over heels in love with the majority of the book. Granted, this isn't an ebook that someone with knowledge of battle strategy would be happy with, but on a personal, individual level, this ebook shined.

Unfortunately, that last chapter made me feel there was no need to go back for more. There were no questions I wanted answered. I think, perhaps, that if Walker had ended this novel one chapter before she did I would have been raving about it. I think it could have been another Treasured Tome.

It had all the markers of one, after all.

Don't let that last chapter stop you from reading this, however. I mean, seriously... the rest was fantastic. The energy levels in A Flight of Marewings were great, emotions ran high, and the world breathed. I may even read it again, someday, this time stopping before the last chapter... because I think it deserves that.

Remember, it was a single flaw that kept me from awarding Treasured Tome status. Just one. The rest of the ebook was amazing. And who knows? You may disagree with me. You may believe the last chapter was perfect.

So give it a read. It's worth it.

A Flight of Marewings is available on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Land of No Angels Inspires True Self-Evaluation

Ready for another foray into a post-apocalyptic setting?

This one has nothing to do with zombies.

Instead, we're delving into the realm of demon invasion!

image via http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-77yFXYsMtj8/TdLqqDA_RGI/AAAAAAAAADw/TEI7W303eZs/s1600/Land%2Bof%2BNo%2BAngels03_500x800.jpg
Cover by Amanda Kelsey
at Razzle Dazzle Design

Welcome to Land of No Angels, the first installment in the Dark Ascension series, written by N.R. Wick.

So what's it about?

    One day, everything was fine. The next, our world spiralled into chaos as demons invaded the Earth. Many people died, and others went mad. Humans discovered by the new demon conquerors were killed or enslaved. Now, cities and homes are abandoned and left to rot.
    Rebecca and her sister Errol, however, have managed to survive with their wits intact, living in a tornado shelter and surviving off of canned goods and strange, unintelligent turkey demon meat. It's a lonely life, but life nonetheless.
    But one day, a demon attacks Errol after luring her into a trap. Errol survives, but is now poisoned. She'll die unless Rebecca can travel through demon territory and find the ingredients necessary to cure the affliction, and she only has a week to do it.

I have to be honest with you.

Reading about an awesome main character that just happens to have my name was very satisfying. I found myself thinking things like,

"Yep. Good name. All Rebeccas would make such a wise decision. 
And that one. And that one, too."

But can you really blame me for my moments of overinflated ego? I mean, come on... we all yearn to relate to a well-crafted character.

But! 

Even if the main character's name was, I don't know... Michaela Kennedy Kennsington LeBrat, III or something... even then, I'd like this book.

(Nothing against anyone with the name Michaela Kennedy Kennsington LeBrat, III, of course. 
That one is kinda growing on me...)

See, Wick managed to weave a beautiful tale of love, strength, and hope into an environment rich with hatred, cruelty, and desolation. The characters were all deeply flawed, yet still managed to overcome their personal weaknesses to work toward good, and at times selfless, goals.

How many people would be willing to sacrifice themselves for a stranger? How many would ignore a person in need in order to ensure their own survival? What would we do in the same circumstances that the characters were forced to endure?

None of those questions has a true answer. 

We know what we believe, and what we would like to believe, but since we've never actually been faced with a world in which demons have conquered and even transformed our environment, we really don't know those answers.

Wick explores these questions. 

She makes the reader question what s/he thinks is obvious. A few times, I found hope within situations and actions which I otherwise wouldn't. I also found pain. I found myself questioning what I thought I knew about the characters - especially bit characters.

This drew me into the world, and kept me there.

Even now, I don't feel I have the answers. Wick left just enough loose ends to make me crave the second installment, without leaving so many that I was plunged into frustration. I think I've stared at the cover for Land of No Mortals about fifteen times already, with my finger hovering over the 'Buy Now' button.

The pacing is great, and emotions run high. Throughout, the question of what separates us from the demons hovers above the reader's head. Wick's ability to thread the psychology of morality into her work without turning the story into a preach-fest is superb.

I found myself pondering: 

What, realistically, would I do in this same world? What choices would I make? How strong would I be? Where would I draw the line?

In all honesty, I'm a bit nervous about what those answers would be, and I think the same could be said for anyone.

Land of No Angels can be found on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords.












Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Magical Work of Bryan Golden

Back in April I reviewed a fantasy entitled The Legend of Damiano's Disk.

image via http://talesofaria.com/files/resized/153308/720;1153;0774bc3a7d573a5ab0dd888ceaa6c7876f2aa4ca.jpg

Carl Russ, III wrote a great book, and it put my imagination into overdrive. I imagined myself with awesome spellcasting skills, bravely fighting against the evil beasties that took over the realm of Aria.

Today, though, I want to talk about another important person that made Aria come to life for me:

Bryan Golden.

You're asking, "Who in the heck is that?"
...right?

Well, Bryan Golden is the artist who designed the spectacular cover. As you can see, his artistic interests veer toward manga and comics... and he's been drawing them for over ten years!

I'd say it shows.

His cover art worked with the Tales of Aria in such a way that it transformed my very image of myself as my imagination transformed my body and curves into something that would fit within the pages of my favorite manga.

As I lifted my arms to produce a brilliant orb of light, the very air that surrounded me seemed to transform and flow into a new and surreal environment. My eyes twinkled and my hair shimmered with power, lengthening until it wrapped my body within its ethereal tresses of grandeur.

Yeah. I was totally hot.

Blue Moon image via http://kagomesarrow77.deviantart.com/art/Blue-Magic-463954812
Blue Moon, copyright Bryan Golden, 2014
Well, ok. Maybe not that hot... but you get the point. His art made me dream. Mixing Golden's talent with Russ's story produced vivid imagery within my own mind.

The effect was, in a word, magical.

And he does more than just book covers. He's a digital artist that also focuses on comics and website mascot design. In fact, in 2011, Little Bite: Vampire Detective was published by Zeta comics, and was both written and drawn by Golden.

Little Bite image via http://www.zetacomics.com/kidscomicbooks/little-bite-vampire-detective/
Little Bite: Vampire Detective

Is Little Bite any good? Honestly, I don't know. I haven't read it.

But what I do know is that when I viewed it on the Zeta comics page, I loved the style, and the layout was smooth. It's something that I most definitely want to check out.

Why did I choose to focus on Bryan Golden as the first cover designer to spotlight? Well, after reviewing Damiano's Disk, a friend of mine mentioned that the art on the cover was the style that he was looking for with a project of his. He then pointed out that he didn't see a link to the designer.

There was a link...

But it was within the image's caption, which means it was very small and easy to overlook. Clearly, this needed to be remedied.

Spotlighting Bryan Golden as my first cover designer choice was a great way to do it.

Besides...

I have a special place in my heart for the Ever After High series, Shannon Hale being one of my favorite non-indie authors (her free short, Ashlynn Ella's Story, is fantastic!) and Golden appears to share this love. His whimsical pieces inspired by Ever After High on his deviantART gallery page placed a smile on my face that seemed to brighten the entire room.

Ashlynn Ella image via http://fc05.deviantart.net/fs70/i/2013/320/3/2/ashlynn_ella___ever_after_high_by_kagomesarrow77-d6uhuke.jpg
Ashlynn Ella, copyright KagomesArrow77

After going through his art, I have to admit to becoming a fan. He has a special talent for energizing me. His work sets the imagination aflame, bringing magic to life in a way that can't truly be put into words.

Be sure to check out his DeviantART page, as well as his latest cover design work on the Tales of Aria, in Carl Russ, III's second installment: The Awakening.

Let Golden's magical artwork inspire you, just as they did with me.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

An Adventurous Journey With Ben the Dragonborn

After the nightmare inducing zombie story I reviewed last week I decided it was time for something a little more tame.

So I chose a book in which a hydrophobic boy is sent to a water world where the skies are filled with monstrous, man-eating bird creatures. What can I say? I give myself great advice...

I just don't follow it particularly well.

image via http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1385686606l/19015246.jpg
Cover Art by Laura Gordon

Ben the Dragonborn, A Six Worlds Story, is a YA fantasy written by Dianne Astle.

And yes, I'm exaggerating the intensity of the book. It really is a lot tamer than Anywhere But Here. It does have man-eating bird creatures and a boy that's scared of water to the point of having a phobia, however.

So what's it about?

Ben is enrolled in a school which places a high interest in physical activities. Unfortunately, one of those required activities is swimming - something that Ben dreads beyond all else. His nights are plagued with dreams of being dropped into the water where he sinks, unable to bring himself to the surface. After failing his swimming test in the most embarrassing manner, he's sent to the principal's office, where it will be determined whether or not he'll be able to stay in his school. 

Everything changes for him during that meeting, and he suddenly finds himself travelling to a different world... one that's almost entirely covered with water.

Pretty cool, huh?

The characters in Ben the Dragonborn were fully fleshed out and likeable.

While I'm most definitely not afraid of the water, having swam in pools, lakes, rivers, and two oceans, I completely understood Ben's terror. Rather than getting annoyed at his intense fear, however, I sympathized with him, and yearned that he would overcome it. I owned his fear, briefly claiming it as my own. Me!

That was awesome.

Not only did this story do a spectacular job of making the reader understand fears, but it also showed the dangers and heartbreak that can result if those fears aren't faced. It showed how easy it is for fear and ignorance to create hatred.

But it also showed that hatred brought about by ignorance can be overcome.

The world that Ben entered was populated by both humans and mer-people, and they were about to go to war with each other. Tensions were high, and each race of people saw the other as inferior and vile. This was largely due to the fact that there was little to no communication between the two groups.

Ben and his traveling companions were forced into a situation where people from both groups had to deal with those differences and learn to trust each other.

That is, unless they'd rather die horribly due to natural hazards and wildlife...

Not much of a choice there, right?

Well, I assume you can guess which choice was made. This is book one, after all! The characters all learned to think rather than make quick judgements. I enjoyed that immensely.

Ben the Dragonborn made me smile. It also made me frown as I worried about what would happen to the characters I became involved with. The story was strong, and though I felt it taught a great deal about acceptance of others for who they are, rather than who we think they are, it never once felt preachy. Rather, it felt like an obvious truth.

And there's no better way to get a message across.

This was definitely a book worth reading, and can be found on Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords.