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REVIEW: Raven’s Heart: A tale from the world of Secramore by M.S. Verish

Raven's Heart Cover Best copyAn exiled man wonders if he should forsake his new life and risk returning to his homeland. A troubled girl seeks redemption for a terrible crime she has committed. A solitary tracker breaks an oath in order to communicate with an infamous, supernatural criminal. A vagabond thief chances leaving behind the world he knew for an unknown destiny.

An unlikely cast of characters, they are thrown together by chance, or perhaps by fate, willingly embarking upon an eccentric wizard’s mission to recover a magical stone: Raven’s Heart.

A piece of the “Stone of Undoing”, Raven’s Heart is deadly. Though the stone has the ability to unravel the very essence of magic, it brings Arcturus, Kariayla, Hawkwing, and Jinx together in a mission beyond individual ambition that could determine the fate of the world in which they live.

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Well it took me several months to read but I’m happy to say I finally made it to the end! Raven’s Heart is a humongous undertaking into the extremely well developed world of Secramore. It was slow in the beginning as there are many characters and before really getting to know everyone I found it complicated to keep everything straight. Once, the merry band of travelers all met up (Arcturus, Kariayla, Jinx and Hawkwing) it was easy and fun reading from there, up to a point.

I really got into their journey and rooted for all of them. Arcturus was pretty straightforward, you knew what he wanted and there weren’t really very many surprises. Kariayla’s past was hinted at numerous times throughout the book and left you wondering and intrigued throughout constantly waiting to find out the mystery behind her. Jinx again was a straightforward easy going character with little surprises. Hawkwing was another character built upon by intrigue and a dark past. He was another character that you constantly wanted to know more about and at times thought you knew what was going on with him and were either pleasantly surprised you were right or perhaps mildly shocked that you were wrong and it was something else altogether.

The character’s themselves were extremely well written as was the journey itself from the start until the end of part one. At the end of part one I really felt as though it could have been the end of “Book One” with the rest to follow in a sequel. Part Two was much more disjointed as the band of travelers broke up and most went their separate ways, either by choice or by force, and the rest of the part two, the majority actually followed two new characters whom I didn’t care as much for and just wanted to get past their bit and find out what was happening with the original main characters. Of the original main characters one of them is barely in the second half as he is taken against his will and the rest then commence trying to find him and rescue him, yet he was one of my favorite characters so that was a big disappointment. Another character who plays a large role is the white demon, he comes in during part one and is very mysterious and intriguing yet once you find out more about him you genuinely care for him and wish for him to succeed in his endeavors. Yet, once he goes off on his own way you never hear from him or about him again, there isn’t even any summary of he is alive or perhaps captured at the end of conclusion of the book. I was extremely disappointed by this as I figured maybe there would be a few lines in an epilogue about him or something else small to summarize where he was and what he had been doing during the rest of the characters adventures.

I thoroughly enjoyed part one, I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys epic fantasy, however I cannot say the same for part two of the book. While part two did hold my interest I just did not find it as enjoyable as part one. Also, as far as the writing style goes one thing that drove me crazy while reading this was the author’s use of quotation marks during large speaking parts, and there were many large speaking parts throughout this book. If one character was speaking and they broke it into paragraphs they would not end the first paragraph with quotations marks but they would start the next paragraph with them. I have never seen this before when reading and it drove me nuts! Also, the characters come across elves in part two of their journey. I have nothing against elves or the flowery language the elves used, but if you are going to employ flowery language then use the word “yes” instead of “yea”. The use of “yea” when the elves spoke seemed so out of place and really ruined reading their eloquent way of speaking, in my opinion.

Available on Amazon: Raven’s Heart (A Tale from Secramore – Epic Fantasy)


Book received from author in exchange for an honest review.

2013

I didn’t come close to my goal of 100 books for 2012 so I’m going to try again for 2013.

My first review of 2013 will be of Raven’s Heart: A Tale from the World of Secramore by M.S. Verish. It’s a crazy long epic fantasy that i’ve gotten about half way through so far. It was a bit confusing in the beginning which is why it’s taking me so long to get through it, but now that i’m past most of the background bits and really into the plot it’s been an enjoyable read thus far, it’s just not possible for me to finish it for 2012 though. 

Books to read for 2013:

*If you sent me a review request and I haven’t yet reviewed your book and you don’t see your book on this list, all is not lost, I just didn’t imagine the huge response for requests and I’ve gotten horribly backlogged in reviewing/responding to people, but besides reading and reviewing 100 books another goal I have is to be quicker at getting back to people who’ve requested reviews, so if this applies to you I apologize!

1. Raven’s Heart (A Tale from Secramore – Epic Fantasy)

2. Time, Love, Memory: A Great Biologist and His Quest for the Origins of Behavior (This one’s not fantasy but I have to read it for a class i’m taking.)

3. Yseult: A Tale of Love in the Age of King Arthur (The Pendragon Chronicles) (Another whopper at 579 pages – but still not as long as Raven’s Heart)

4. Erich’s Plea (The Witchcraft Wars)

5. Steel, Magick and Faith (Book 1 of The Remus Rothwyn Chronicles)

6. Ghost in the Machine (Corwint Central Agent Files)

Somewhere in between review requests i’d also like to start reading more of Terry Pratchet’s discworld series in preparation for possibly going to the North American Discworld Convention (https://www.nadwcon.org/), so far i’ve only read the Tiffany Aching books but I loved them.

And last but not least. .. .

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO EVERYONE!!!!

2012 Reading Goal

I started this blog over the summer and apparently set a very unrealistic goal for myself to read 100 books/ short stories this year. With a little less than 2 weeks left to do so, I just don’t think it’s going to happen. Maybe this year with starting my new goal in January i’ll be able to make it? I’m also hoping to be able to add one or two more books to the list before the year is out 🙂

NEW RELEASE: Rise of the Retics by T.J. Lantz

Are you a Harry Potter fan or perhaps a Percy Jackson fan and looking for a new book fix? Try Rise of the Retics, T.J. Lantz’s newest release.

It has tons of adventure and the reason why there are no more fantastical creatures living in our world today, at least not that we know of. . .

ebook cover

 

Book Description: For almost a millennia humanity has been making a concerted effort to eradicate the world’s retics, an eclectic collection of non-human, intelligent species. Recently, those efforts have been strengthened and far more successful than ever, though the Council of Rosehaven, the retic’s hidden sanctuary city, cannot figure out why.

No one realizes the danger of this this more than eleven-year-old Tyranna Wolfskin, who is ripped from her boring, everyday life in the middle of the night by a vicious group of retic hunters. Thrust into a struggle for her own survival, Tyranna must find a way to accept what she is and learn to acclimate herself to a world she never knew existed.

Author Bio: Though new to the world of professional writing, T.J. Lantz has been a world class storyteller (a.k.a. liar) for many years. Originally forging his craft by creating backstories for each of the lawn gnomes he managed to liberate from the prisons his neighbors called the “front yard”, he now uses that ability to entertain his wife and six four-legged furry children. Prior to writing the Gnit-Wit Gnipper series and Rosehaven: The Hidden City, T.J. worked as an elementary school teacher in York, Pa., where he happily resides.

REVIEW: The Immortals of Myrdwyer: A Mages of Bloodmyr Novel: Book #3 by Brian Kittrell

Laedron hasn’t been able to sleep for a week, yet he feels fresh and invigorated. He heals at an extraordinary rate, and finds that his hunger is satisfied by only a few morsels of food each day. Enhanced by the use of a soulstone, a vicar’s restoration spell has done much more than cure Laedron’s wounds, and a book with no name might be the key to discovering why. Unfamiliar with the deep implications of the magic behind his newfound abilities, he feels like his life is spinning out of control, and he must know the truth.

Laedron leads his companions to a land of vast pine forests to learn more of his condition, for the book mentions some of his symptoms and hints at the oldest secrets of mages. When he arrives in Lasoron, a strange old woman points him in the direction of the ancient ruins of Myrdwyer to uncover the answers he so desperately seeks.

An old feud, a host of soul-sucking enemies, and a madman bent on revenge stand between him and the answers he hopes to find, but he soon learns that some secrets are better left unknown to mortals.

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The third installment of the Bloodmyr Trilogy is by far the best and serves as an excellent ending to the story. I had some doubts going into the third book because I only thought the second one was so-so but it was one of the most captivating reads with great character advancement and much more relationship building than the first and second books had to offer. In this book Laedron and his friends venture to another unknown land seeking the Uxidin and the Bloodmyr Tome in hopes of learning if the healing “miracle” cast on him by Jurgen is permanent or if he will die when the spell finally does end.

Laedron finds far more than he bargains for upon finding the Uxidin and instead of a proud people he finds a sorry lot hiding underground from gigantic crystal monsters who suck the essence out of all living things. Laedron and his friends also come upon many moral dilemmas during this adventure, whereas the problems in the other books were more straight forward – this person is evil and must be stopped – no questions and no reservations were had, yet this time they must decide what is right, not just for them but for a race of ancient immortals. I very much enjoyed the moral dilemmas and the conversations had between party members in trying to solve these problems. I thought they were handled much better and much more in character than certain problems brought up in book two. I also really enjoyed the way this book was ended. A separate mini-chapter was written for each character upon returning home so that closure could be given to each chapter and not just to Laedron.

Overall, this was a riveting read and I found the crystal creatures to be fascinating, perhaps one day a short story will be written about them and how they fared after Laedron and his party left Myrdwyer? I’m not sure if I’d recommend reading these books out of order but it certainly seems as though the final installment gives you most of what you would need to know upon just picking up this book.

Available on Amazon:The Immortals of Myrdwyer: A Mages of Bloodmyr Novel: Book #3


Book received from author in exchange for an honest review.

REVIEW: The Consuls of the Vicariate: A Mages of Bloodmyr Novel: Book 2 by Brian Kittrell

Having arrived in the Holy Land, Laedron Telpist continues his journey to halt a war provoked by the Heraldan church. He discovers that the war he so desperately wants to stop is merely a prelude to something much older than he could have imagined. With the aid of his allies, Laedron must uncover hidden plots, bring justice to the rampant corruption, and end a conflict before it claims more victims. Laedron, his friends, and the Shimmering Dawn knights face off against new foes, some willing to trade their loyalty for power and the ancient secrets of spellcraft and others more dangerous than outward appearances would suggest.

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The second book in the Mages of Bloodmyr series starts out very exciting and is a continuation of Laedron and his group’s quest to end the war between Sorbia and the theocracy.  I was happy I had decided to continue with the plot however I was not as happy with the character development in this book. I felt as though most of the characters remained the same and that Marac and Jurgen made huge life changing choices with little thought. They appeared to make choices that go against what their characters had believed in throughout the first book and for most of the second. I felt as though these choices could have been made more believable with extra conversation or thought, for me the change from “I can’t do that” to “fine I’ll do it” just seemed to sudden and without a lot of thought.

The last quarter or so of the book was mainly build up based on this huge decision made by Jurgen and Marac that will continue the last leg of their journey in the third book. I felt the end of the book was rather slow compared to the beginning and probably could have been either summed up faster or left as a prologue for the third book.  However, the characters are left with a gigantic conundrum in which to solve and if the problem cannot be fixed then it leaves huge life changes for Laedron to deal with.

Leaving the third book with the group headed off to a new country and more unchartered territory for them along with a new problem to solve does make the third book a desirable read so one can gain closure for the story.

Available on Amazon:The Consuls of the Vicariate: A Mages of Bloodmyr Novel: Book #2

Book received from author in exchange for an honest review.

REVIEW: The Circle of Sorcerers: A Mages of Bloodmyr Novel: Book 1 by Brian Kittrell

When Laedron Telpist’s sorcery training is interrupted by a knock on the door, what once seemed a proper profession must now be hidden. In a world where priests and mages vie for the limitless power of the elements and a new Grand Vicar has sworn death to all sorcerers, Laedron is tossed into a nightmare which would see his destruction at every turn.

From the home shores in western Sorbia, through the Cael’Brilland heartlands, and even across the seas to the great city of Azura, Laedron finds himself embracing old friends, consorting with unlikely allies, and confronting potent enemies. As he struggles to train himself in spellcraft, Laedron must face that he lives in a time when the utterance of a simple spell could be the signature on his death warrant.

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This book was a little slow to start, beginning with a long introduction of the main character Laedron and his choices on where to attend school to become a mage. The first three chapters or so spend quite a bit of time developing Laedron’s character and depict him as an extremely naïve person ready to trust most people without a moment’s hesitation. As the book progresses Laedron runs in to a bit of trouble and finds out that he must make it on his own and is no longer living in a sheltered world but one soon to be at war. Laedron was known as a “neonate” mage before going off to school and was only at school for about a week before things went south, yet in that time he apparently learned an enormous amount of spells. The longer Laedron is alone the more power hungry, sadistic and vengeful he starts to become yet he never quite loses his naivety. I felt Laedron’s character was the best developed which makes sense seeing as the story is centered around him, however his ability to use spells so effectively with little training and little practice seems out of place – but I’m thinking that might be explained in another book seeing as this is the first of a trilogy.

Once I got about three or four chapters into it the story started to pull me in further. It becomes much faster paced and exciting only slowing down again in few spots. It also ends on a bit of a cliff hanger making the reader want more. Another thing I must give this story credit for is not being overly predictable. Obviously some things need to happen for there to be a story but at several points I assumed one thing would happen only to be fooled with something entirely different and I love stories with good twists.

Overall I would say this was a really good read, but I also would not have been put off with more character development surrounding the characters travelling with Laedron for the majority of the story. Also, I would love to have more background on Ismerelda, but again I feel as though that might pop up in one of the other books, if not I think a short story or novella dedicated to her could be interesting. I found her to be one of the most interesting characters in the book so far, but I am connected enough with Laedron to be rooting for him.

Available on Amazon: The Circle of Sorcerers: A Mages of Bloodmyr Novel: Book #1

Book received from author in exchange for an honest review.

REVIEW: Of Ants and Dinosaurs by Cixin Liu

“Of Ants and dinosaurs” is a fascinating fable for young readers; And an extraordinary science fiction story for a mature audience. Millions of years ago, in the remote depths of the Late Cretaceous, two glorious civilization flourished in symbiosis: The dinosaur nations and the coalition of ants. Taking the best from each to complement the other, these two species lived in harmony. With their great intelligence and visionary creativity the dinosaurs constantly advanced both technology and society; While the ants managed all the small things, squeezing into the dinosaurs’ computers to connect their microscopic circuitry. Until one day, on the annual dinosaur and ant summit, the ants insisted that the dinosaurs dismantle all their nuclear weapons…

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I was first drawn to Of Ants and Dinosaurs because of the intriguing cover art and book description. I was not disappointed. For a short story of about fifty-five pages according to Amazon it paints a fascinating description of what life could have been like for Ants and Dinosaurs during the cretaceous period on Earth. The story begins by giving background information on how the Ants and Dinosaurs developed a symbiotic relationship and follows that relationship through both species becoming sentient beings and developing complex and technologically advanced societies.

Due to the brevity of this read the characters do not have a lot of back story but I don’t think it is necessary to gain an appreciation for the characters or to enjoy the story. The characters emotions, especially those of the Ants are well developed through their conversations. The Ants communicate via pheromones and the author does an excellent job of inserting their emotions into the transfer of pheromones which helps give insight into the characters. This is not done for the Dinosaurs but I think their language helps aid the reader in inferring their emotions.

There is quite a bit of technical jargon in this short read but seeing as this is a sci-fi read it works well. The technical bits are also not overly complicated and can easily be understood so it does not detract from the story. The story itself is a back and forth between what is happening in the Ant society versus what is happening in the Dinosaur society, and at times the two coincide. The way the story is written it helps give the reader the full picture of what is going on in both societies.

Overall this was a very interesting read and a really different take on how the world could have been millions of years ago. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a short read and would be interested in reading other works by this author.

Available on Amazon:Of Ants and Dinosaurs

Book received from author in exchange for an honest review.

REVIEW: A Little Magic by Valerie Gillen

A Hidden Power: Stepdancer Siobhan Kelly didn’t believe in magic – until the magic chose her.

A Promise Made: She’s been warned magic is evil, but with her grandmother felled by a deadly curse, she must make a bargain with the local Fairie prince – the return of their sacred Jewel in exchange for her grandmother’s life.

And it just might work too – if only she can escape the dark witch who’s made Siobhan her prey in the hunt for a deadly blood spell.————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

Siobhan Kelly as any teenager would be is upset about her parents uprooting her from one side of the country to the other for a grandmother she’s never met who is in a coma. She’s now living in her big creepy house full of things she isn’t allowed to touch with a mother who seems like she’s also never been in the house before despite growing up there. The house has a garden that never seems to die, even in the middle of winter and secret rooms full of who knows what. All Siobhan wants is to move back to California and continue her step dancing until a weird girl at school and a small fluffy cat found in the woods lead to more excitement than she bargained for.

A Little Magic is a great young adult read, possibly even middle grade but it does have some larger vocabulary and a few profanities thrown in. It has a plot that will pull you in and keep you guessing and entertained right from the beginning. I thought Siobhan was a very well-developed character and (even though I found it annoying as an adult, a teen might really appreciate it) I liked how the author used the stereotype of Siobhan being from California and all the kids thinking she was a “valley girl” and bringing in that stereotypical dialogue and carrying it through from the beginning of the book all the way to the end. This was a fun and quick read and I can see the author writing more stories about Siobhan and her family in the future.

I would have loved more background on the rest of the supporting characters in the book, especially Alicia and the background of Siobhan’s mom and Johanna, perhaps a flashback or two of when they were younger. Their stories are told briefly for the most part but I think more background could have added a lot more depth to the story. Also, the book does have some formatting errors that make it somewhat annoying but not bad enough to detract from the story itself.

Available on Amazon:A Little Magic

Book received from author in exchange for an honest review.

Fantasy Art Contest

Do you love fantasy? Do you love to draw? How would you like to enter a contest that involves both fantasy and drawing!

Visit http://www.gdavidwalker.com/#!draw-the-races and check out the contest David Walker is having to find the person that can draw the races he has created to best match the images in his mind.

Winners will receive an Amazon gift card, signed copies of his novels as well as kindle versions of his novels.

Check it out now and good luck to all those brave enough to enter!