Monthly Archives: June 2012

REVIEW: Nolander (Emanations) by Becca Mills

Of all the beings that have lived on Earth, what if just a few had the power to make new realities, according to their desires? What would they create? The Second Emanation. A shadow world where ancient creatures persist, where humanity’s dominance is far less certain, where wonder competes with horror. A world like an autumn forest, its realities as multiple and layered as fallen leaves. The world that gives us our gods.

In Nolander, the Second Emanation crosses paths with a seemingly ordinary young woman from the American Midwest. It’ll never be the same again.

Amateur photographer Beth Ryder sees plenty wrong with her life. At twenty-three, she feels trapped in her small Wisconsin town. The guy she’s been seeing lately wants nothing more to do with her, and her sister-in-law is doing her best to push Beth out of the family.

Then one day, Beth takes a picture no one can explain. Her quest for answers leads her far from her small-town roots and opens her eyes to the unseen world around her. Sucked into a dangerous organization responsible for policing visitors from Earth’s shadow world, Beth discovers that humanity is far from alone, and that its fellow creatures, many endowed with disturbing abilities, do not wish it well.

As events spin out of her control, Beth must leave her restrictive but safe life behind. Thrown into a frightening new world, she struggles not to surrender more than she can bear to lose, and not to become something she can’t bear to be.

At 99,000 words, Nolander is a full-length novel, the first in Mills’s Emanations fantasy series.

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

Nolander was a highly entertaining read. Each time I thought I had a handle on what was going on and what was going to come next the plot would take a turn to something completely unexpected. Becca Mills has created a very vibrant world full of unique creatures and happenings where just about anything you can imagine is possible. This is definitely not a book for children but would be suitable for older teens as there is profanity and some built up sexual tension throughout the book.

Beth Ryder the main character of the book is portrayed as a very believable character. Upon finding out about another world within and attached to her own but only visible and known by a small group of people she does what any normal person would and freaks out about it. She doesn’t just accept that it is the truth and plunge forward, at least not until she sees more evidence to support these new ideas and have a chance to absorb the new reality she has discovered. The book is written mostly through Beth but also here and there through a being known as Ghosteater which makes for a very intriguing outlook on things. Without giving too much away I want to include that one of my favorite parts of this book is when Beth gets sent to “Octoworld” and befriends strange but friendly tree-dwelling octopi.

Nolander is a an excellent first novel in a series and gives you a lot of answers to the unknown, however, it does leave a few loose ends which sets it up perfectly for a second book in the series. I am excited to see what happens next and where this new world takes Beth and Ghosteater.

Available at Amazon: Nolander (Emanations) in the US

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Nolander-Emanations-ebook/dp/B007R6PPZA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1334867028&sr=8-1 in the UK

For more about the author visit: http://the-active-voice.com.

Book received from author in exchange for an honest review.

REVIEW: When Walls Can Talk by Cate Dean

A Fantasy Novella – approximately 65 pages

A missing prince. A haunted castle. A dangerous man bent on ruling the kingdom – whatever the cost.

When Rosamond and her friend Dan head out on her birthday to explore an abandoned and haunted castle, they expect to find only a ghost or two. Instead they discover the missing prince, and stumble into the middle of a violent, desperate bid for the throne.

In order to save the injured Prince Jaren, and themselves, Rosamond must reach beyond her own violent past to find her courage, and Dan must find the way to his true self.

Their only help is a children’s story come to life: an ancient sorcerer whose soul has been trapped in the walls of the castle for centuries.

Can they keep the prince alive long enough to bring him home safe?

Can they defeat the man who would be king?

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

For her birthday Rosamond wants to visit a haunted castle and see if the legends she read about in books are true. Is there really a sorcerer trapped within its walls? Rose and Dan get way more than they bargained for and quickly realize they need to fight for their lives as well as that of their prince and put their trust in talking walls if they hope to escape alive.

This is a very fast paced adventure full of magic, compassion and trust. It was very well written and extremely descriptive. Cate Dean makes the world come to life and lets you really “see” everything that is happening as its happening. There is some switching of characters POV so you really get the big picture of how dire their situation. I think this would have made an excellent novel with some more background about Haneh and how he came to be trapped inside the castle’s walls, possibly a flashback or two of Rose’s before she came to be a lady in waiting for the Queen, and of course more background on Arthur and why he kidnapped Prince Jaren.

One thing that really bothered me while reading this; the Queen is never given an actual name. She is always referred to as “milady”, which I found extremely annoying towards the end. Despite this small nuance, I really enjoyed reading this novella, it kept me entertained throughout and I did not want to put it down till I was done. I was happily surprised by the ending, as I thought things were going to turn out differently, but for all the torture and fear that dominate the first ¾’s of the story it has a very happily-ever-after type of ending.

When Walls Can Talk can be found at Amazon: When Walls Can Talk – A YA Fantasy Novella

For more about the author visit: http://catedeanwrites.com/

Book received from author in exchange for an honest review.

REVIEW: Last Chance Jack by Cate Dean

A Fantasy Short Story – approximately 37 pages

Jack is a guardian angel. A guardian angel who has failed every single assignment. For the past hundred years.

Now he has been given his final assignment, and he has one last chance. One chance to prove himself, one chance to change his fate.

But there is a catch: the assignment can’t see him, unless he can find a way to break through, a way to touch her. Only then can he even begin to help her.

He has three days.

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

Jack only has one last chance to get things right before being banished to Hell forever, and with only three days he needs to get his act together and figure things out quick. Jack quickly finds Kaylie and needs to figure out why she is so depressed and what he can do to “fix” her and complete this job correctly. Right off the bat you can tell Jack is going to have a lot of work ahead of him as Kaylie is depicted as very depressed and with little hope of things getting better anytime soon.

This was a very well written short story. It transitions back and forth very smoothly from Jack to Kaylie, so the reader is able to get a good amount of perspective from each character. This perspective has allowed Cate Dean to create two excellent, multi-faceted characters that work well together, and the story/dialogue play well off of their newly found trust and developing relationship. Nothing in this story seems too rushed and it also doesn’t seem to be missing anything. I was left feeling very satisfied after finishing this short story; it wraps up nicely and doesn’t leave any questions dangling in your face.

I would recommend this story to anyone looking for a little pick-me-up type story. Overall, it was an interesting and easy read with an entertaining plot.

Last Chance Jack can be found at Amazon: Last Chance Jack – A Fantasy Short Story

For more about the author visit: http://catedeanwrites.com/

Book received from author in exchange for an honest review.

REVIEW: The Demon’s Promise by Aliya Anjum

21-year-old Ena seeks romance and adventure in her life.

A trip to the ancient Hindu-Buddhist city of Taxila, near the city of Islamabad, is meant to be a getaway, but a silly prank leads to Ena being abducted by Mara, the demonic antagonist of Buddha. Temptation, is Mara’s demonic tool. He first uses it on Ena to transport her to the ancient Mauryan empire of India, circa 250 B.C. Ena soon finds herself being used as a pawn, in a deadly political game played between the Indian and Greek empires, by Mara.

Showing strength in the face of overwhelming adversity, Ena finds herself battling temptation, the demon’s tool.

A 6,857 word short story.

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

The Demon’s Promise is a short story set in India about a group of friends that go on vacation to Taxila, where a prank then turns into a demonic kidnapping. If you are an art history buff then this might interest you, otherwise it starts out almost like reading an art history text which I found to be incredibly dull. The plot itself surrounds ancient Indian history, which again if you are familiar with it or it intrigues you then you might find this interesting. Again, I found it similar to reading a textbook with a lot of the information not fully explained.

The writing itself could also use some work. Being a short story the plot moves very quickly however it does not do so in a flowing manner it is very jumpy and the story itself is full of missing words/incorrect grammar. It is easy to discern from this that English probably is not the author’s first language, so perhaps an edit by someone whose first language is English would fix these problems pretty quickly.

Overall, I did not enjoy this story and struggled to even finish it. It sounds like it would be a very interesting read from the description and perhaps with more character development and a little less history it would be more interesting to a wider variety of people and not just those interested in art and/or India.

The Demon’s Promise can be found at:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/165185

and Amazon: The Demon’s Promise

 

Book received from author in exchange for an honest review.

REVIEW: Forsaken – An American Sasquatch Tale by Christine Conder

A Sasquatch mother, still devastated by the disappearance of her daughter a year ago, is shocked when she gets word her girl may be alive.
Not just alive, but human.

Liberty Brewster has started to accept she may never know what happened to her daughter, Sage. There are other things to worry about now. Her widowed, human advocate is dying. When he passes, she and her mate will be forced to relocate.
When another member of their colony claims to have seen Sage, however, all of that changes.
Willing to break every Sasquatch rule in the quest to find her daughter, Liberty sets out to discover the truth, uncovering a secret about her ancestors that threatens to unravel everything she knows about her legacy in the process.

Forsaken – An American Sasquatch Tale is a 43,000 word Novella.

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

Forsaken was a very exciting read, I was immediately drawn in by the mystery and excitement that starts right from page one. It’s not a very long read and will keep you on the edge of your seat as you read and delve further into the mysterious dissapearance of Sage, Liberty and Nathan’s daughter. I was also very intrigued by the author’s depiction of the Sasquatch which are similar to shape-shifters that are only able to change from human to Sasquatch or viceversa (I should mention that this is the first book I’ve ever read about Sasquatch so I can’t make any comparisons/ comments about how they are represented in this book to others.)

The author does an excellent job of developing a main character that the reader can develop compassion towards and will to succeed in her plight of finding her missing daughter. I spent the majority of this book trying to solve the mystery of Sage’s disappearance along with Liberty and hoping that she was correct and Sage really was out there somewhere.

Overall, I really enjoyed this novella and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys elements of fantasy, mystery and suspense. My only complaint about this novella is that it could use a second edit as there are some missing words and awkward phrasing, however, they do not detract enough from the overall story to skip this one.

Forsaken can be found at the following places:

Amazon: Forsaken – An American Sasquatch Tale

and smashwords:
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/165179

Book received from author in exchange for an honest review.

Author Interview with Tristan J. Tarwater

1.   Tell us a little bit about your current book(s).
The current books I have out are Thieves at Heart, a novel and two short stories, Little Girl Lost and Botanica Blues. Little Girl Lost and Thieves are Heart are both part of The Valley of Ten Crescents series and revolve around a half elf, Tavera and her misadventures as a thief in the Valley. They’re more…gray fantasy or dark fantasy, since there isn’t any absolute good or absolute evil but there are plenty of people whose motives you can question. Thieves at Heart and Little Girl Lost go into Tavera’s start as a thief and her relationship with her pa, Derk. Botanica Blues is…very different from the other two. It’s set in modern times and is about a private investigator who is looking into some occult activity. It’s more urban, there’s a definite Lovecraftian element in there. My upbringing on the Lower East Side of Manhattan had a lot to do with it.
 

2.   Are you currently working on any projects? If so please tell us a little about them. 
Currently I’m working on getting ‘Self-Made Scoundrel’ in the can, which is the second book in the series but also a prequel. It goes more into Derk’s starts, the politics of the Valley and the various organizations running around behind the scenes. There’s a bit of romance, betrayal, families and alliances are formed but it’s still on a very small, intimate scale. I’m also working on a collection of weird tales to put out later in the year. I dig the Lovecraft Mythos and it’s fun to write creepy stuff. I also write an ongoing column at Troll in the Corner (trollitc.com) called ‘Realty Makes the Best Fantasy’ about things from our world and history that can be translated to gaming and RPGs.

3.   What do you enjoy about writing fantasy vs. other genres?
I like writing fantasy because I guess I like writing about the foundations of things, the starts. I like word-building a lot and fantasy settings are kind of fake histories. I’m hoping to write something set in the future of Ten Crescents. It’s fun to make up a history and biology and economy and religions and pantheons and all that and then drop individuals with their own desires and fears and needs and watch them go and mesh and grate.
 

4.   What is your favorite fantasy series (book, tv show and/or movie)?
My favourite piece of media in the fantasy genre? Hmm. That’s hard to answer. I enjoyed watching the latest season of Game of Thrones, especially because it was different from the books. I was always anxious to see what was changed. I liked Queens of Langkasuka, which is a Thai film I watched because I love martial arts movies and it was nice to see something based not in fantastic Europe.

5. If you could have any fantastical creature as a pet what would it be and why?  
Well, hmm. Maybe one of those giant turtles that can grow a habitat on their back? I love turtles and tortoises in general and one that I could live on? Hello, awesome. Though I guess it would start out small, with a bit of moss, perhaps. I wonder how long it takes them to grow island-nation size?

REVIEW: Splatterism: The Tragic Recollections of A Minotaur Assailant by C.S. Hand

“It is less dangerous to do evil to the majority of men than to do them too much good.”
La Rochefoucauld

A failed suicide attempt unites the last living minotaur, Evander, with the eminent sorcerer and perfidious rake Scammander, who might have lost all of his magical knowledge or might have just stashed it elsewhere to make room for his biggest plot yet.

Bonded by suffering and a special antipathy for humanity, the two set out to do what all villains dream of: destroying the world, one civilization at a time.

Is there anyone who can stop them?

Splatterism is a blood soaked novella of 24,000 words, constituting a grizzly, inclement prelude which is to be succeeded by two novel length entries.  This updated version now includes a preview chapter from the next entry in the series, Splatterism: The Horrific Recollections of A Minotaur Assailant (An Upbuilding Edifying Discourse).

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

Let me start off by saying this was one of the strangest and most mind blowing things I have read in a really long time. I started off a little confused and by chapter two thought this had to have been written while the author was dropping acid (in this case not necessarily a bad thing!), it is brilliantly descriptive and once you figure out what’s going on a pretty decent plot.

I’ll be honest, I really struggled to get through the first half of Splatterism simply because I wasn’t really sure what was going on and the author’s language was far above my head with me having to look up just about every other word (thank goodness for kindles built in dictionary, I’m not sure how I read books before it!). However, I was able to overlook all of the obnoxious language once I got about 90% of the way through the book and the book began making fun of its obnoxious language, it gave me a good laugh as well as a nice appreciation of good writing and one hell of a plot twist that I did not see coming, and I absolutely love it when I don’t see the twists coming because most things you read these days are so predictable.

Overall, I’m only rating this as an ok read because of how much I struggled to get through it. I didn’t really get into the story and understand/appreciate it until half way through, but if you enjoy lots of descriptive (and strange) murdering mixed with verbose language, more strangeness and a fast pace then you might love this one.

Splatterism can be found at Amazon: Splatterism: The Tragic Recollections of A Minotaur Assailant (Pars Prima: Hellenistic Asskicking)

For more about the author visit his blog: http://www.finalxbreath.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/eulogy-for-science-fiction-and-fantasy.html

Book received from author in exchange for an honest review.

23 authors 29 books, ALL of them FREE!

A group of 23 authors has put together a promo to giveaway as many kindle e-books as they can on June 20th and 21st. There are 29 books involved in the promo and many have recently been reviewed right here on The Dragon’s Inkpot!

Reviewed books include:

Little Girl Lost by Tristan J Tarwater

A Circle of Iron by Greg Benage

Claire: the Lost Fae by Aithne Jarretta

The Prisoner by Laura Lond

Splatterism by C.S. Hand

For a full list of books included in the promo visit http://www.freefantasybook.com/ or  amzn.to/M5YDYb or Click the Summer Solstice Free Fantasy badge on the right.

Author Interview with C.S. Hand

1. Tell us a little bit about your current book(s).
First of all, thank you for inviting me to an interview!  Now, to the books.  Well, I wish they were my books, but they are translations from Christian Winter.  I came across these particular MSS (as well as others by different authors) while toiling away in the “Bodley” (what the oxonians call The Oxford Bodleian Library) one summer while I was supposed to be doing much more intensive research.  In the upcoming full length novel I detail how I found these old manuscripts.  Splatterism is the introduction to two much more expansive works of dark fantasy.  It is a tale from the villains point of view–or what a society has labelled as villainous–regarding the destruction of the world.  It is fast paced, witty, and inclement with moments of very lyrical and lush language.
2. Are you currently working on any projects? If so please tell us a little about them.
I am currently working on a less poetically swelling book of epigrams from a different author which I hope to have completed by Halloween, titled “The Withered Garland: The Deaths of Eminent Heroes, Sorcerers, and Adventurers.”  It is a light derivation off of the Lives of Eminent Philosophers by Diogenes Laertius and a collection of ancient Greek poets called the Anthology, which, as the introduction tells us, originally meant “garland.”
3. What do you enjoy about writing fantasy vs. other genres?
Sometime ago I jotted down my musings on what attracted me to fantasy.  For anyone who would like read the more extensive (though unfinished) meditation on it, you can find the post here; but for the moment I’ll try to compress my thoughts.  I understand fantasy as the true heir of the poetic tradition inaugurated by poets like Homer and Hesiod.  I don’t believe in the novel, whose artistic validity creative writing programs attempt to justify through a nervous genealogical prevarication (citing the novel as a continuation of poetry).  Less polemically, fantasy is a remarkably pliant medium in which one can explore myriad problems from contemporary social issues to abstruse philosophical problems in a highly artistic medium.  We are fortunate to still have such a bountiful resource at our supposedly “late” position in history (though perhaps we aren’t so senescent as most modern philosophers would have us believe).
4. What is your favorite fantasy series (book, tv show and/or movie)?
Before I saw the series Merlin BBC randomly one night on NBC I had been thinking about how to attractively translate a particular text about an assassin, with a movie pitch in mind.  However, I was really averse to the idea of departing from Winter’s fantasy land and setting the tale in our world, which would limit the scope of what was possible, and, to me at least, how exciting the story could be.  But I was conflicted because I thought a more “modern” setting would be easier to pitch.  It was because of how much fun I had watching a random episode of Merlin that I decided to keep the setting of the the fantasy world that Christian Winter had created.  I’m now waiting on the season four DVD to arrive and can’t wait to watch it.  Probably all in one sitting.  So in short, I love Merlin!
5. If you could have any fantastical creature as a pet what would it be and why?
An imbruted sword that would tell me stories which were so fantastic and wonderful that I would believe in them so powerfully that my doubt could not overcome them, freeing me from having to tell myself stories all the time.  Alternatively, I would love the company of really droll albino Yetti.

REVIEW: The Knight by Laura Lond

Renown and knighted for capturing the fearsome Dark Elf of Syron, Sir Fredric has nagging doubts about his victory. His brother Malgrid’s drunken remark strengthens dire suspicions. Was it all some devious scheme? Fredric has enough enemies who would want to compromise his honor, especially with the prestigious Jewel Quest coming up.

It seems that there is only one person who can possibly shed some light on the situation—the Dark Elf himself. But will the captured enemy speak? Will Fredric discover the truth before a plot far more elaborate and danger much greater than he realizes take his life?

The Knight is is a novella of approximately 15,000 words (80 printed pages).

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

The Knight was an excellent sequel to The Prisoner, it answered just about every question I was left with after reading book one. I really enjoyed getting more background information on the Prisoner and seeing the relationship between him and Lenora grow. Also, learning more about the man who “captured” the Prisoner made for an interesting read.

This was a very fast paced short story, at some points it seemed a little bit too fast and also a bit too predictable, there were however a few plot twists that I did not see coming that set it up very well for a third story in the series. Unlike the first story which was very mysterious this one was much more straightforward and did not leave me with as many questions once I was done. There are new questions that arise concerning the new path the plot has taken towards the end which does leave you wondering what will happen next.

I was very excited to read this story and was definitely not disappointed, yet comparatively this story is not as good as the first. It did not leave me wanting more the same way the first did (although I would most certainly read the next story to find out what happens) and I would highly recommend that anyone wanting to read this story read the first one beforehand otherwise they will not have as good an experience because they will be missing very important details.

The Knight can be found at Amazon: The Knight (The Dark Elf of Syron, #2)

Book received from author in exchange for an honest review.