Archive for category Review
Storyline: Holy Moses! What a splendid and unique fantasy start to an original fantasy series! The Black God’s War: Splendor and Ruin, Book I written by the highly talented Mr. Mosey Siregar, will grab a’hold of you and pull into his world where gods fight alongside man and destinies unfold in unimaginable ways.
A mighty empire pushes to conquer the neighboring kingdom of Pawelon and after ten years of endless fighting, an end might finally be in sight. Lucia must decode the meaning of The Black God’s messages for her and her holy brother, Caio. Even though Caio is a man of peace, their father, the king, thrusts this war upon them, risking both of their lives for glory.
Prince Rao is powerful sage who will stop at nothing to see this war stopped and gone from his lands. He must use all of his skills to fight not only the gifted siblings, but their gods as well. Rao must reconcile his own philosophical beliefs with those of the myths of the invaders’ gods.
Can a peaceful resolution be met without anymore unnecessary bloodshed and tears?
Grammar/Spelling: Incredibly, this might be the first book I’ve read in ages and ages without a single grammatical or spelling error. I don’t know if it’s because I was so captivated by the story that I overlooked them, but Moses did a phenomenal job editing his book!
Character Development: The story focuses on a variety of characters and fully develops each person perfectly. Moses carefully crafted each character’s personality so that the reader can truly feel Caio’s reluctance in leading his father’s army into battle. The inner-struggle of Prince Rao as he tried to convince his father that he was worthy of his respect and was a worthy fighter. Lucia’s strong will and desire to protect her brother at all costs while hiding her own dark secrets came across clearly and distinctly.
Writing Style: The story flowed beautifully and quickly. Even though Moses introduced two very different and wholly new religions and a completely new pantheon if gods, I never felt as if I were overwhelmed with information. Nor did I felt as if I there wasn’t enough information about each side’s beliefs and rituals.
Another unique facet of The Black God’s War was the telling of all sides of the story. I’ve read books (and hell, watched movies) that showed both sides of warring nations, but never with this approach. Every important scene was told through the eyes of each player’s perspective.
I felt myself being pulled in separate directions: Huzzah! May the Rezzians conquer all!
No, wait! Let’s hear it for the Pawelons! They must destroy the invaders!
Well played, Moses. Well played indeed!
Continuity: No issues with continuity.
Overall Rating: 5
The Black God’s War: Splendor and Ruin, Book I by Moses Siregar III was a dazzling beginning to a fantasy series that was a delight to read and nearly impossible to put down. I am really looking forward to continuing the series and believe that Moses’ story will only get better!
Everyone and their respective mamas should go out and get a copy (or sit on their couch and order it)! I only hate that it took so long for me to review the book and pass along the greatness to you!
Now, I would like for you to meet Lucia, the royal daughter of the Kingdom of Rezzia. She’s as stunning as she is fearless.
Celia: How did you first meet your writer?
Lucia: You want to talk about that bastard? Was it when he was torturing me with nightmares of dying children? Or when he tortured me with nightmares of my flesh burning? Or when he decided to kill (SPOILER ALERT)? No, I remember now. It was when he dropped me into the black god’s underworld lair. After falling through the pitch black for so long I lost my sanity, I landed in a dark sea full of the dead bodies of our soldiers. Yes, that was how I met him. You’ll pardon me if I prefer that we change the subject.
Celia: Did you ever think that your life would end up being in a book?
Lucia: Yes. The Book of Time. I am a member of the royal family of Rezzia, and I have a patron goddess. At the least, a brief mention of my life would have to be written into The Book.
Celia: What are your favorite scenes in your book: Action, Dialogue, Romance?
Lucia: Romance. There are so many scenes in this book. Action? There was too much of it for me. Dialogue? I prefer quiet. I only found some modicum of repose in my romance with Ilario.
Celia: Did you have a hard time convincing your author to write any particular scenes for you?
Lucia: No, but the bastard had to work on some things.
Celia: Do you infiltrate your author’s dreams?
Lucia: Ha! What kind of person do you take me for? Do you understand that Lord Danato, The Black One, has invaded my dreams since I was thirteen years old? For the last sixteen years? And after all I’ve been through, you think I would be so insensitive as to infiltrate another person’s dreams? The answer is no.
Celia: Are you happy with the genre your author has placed you in?
Lucia: I’d much prefer to be in a trashy romance. A very trashy romance, at that. That sounds rather pleasant after all I’ve been through. But the bastard put me in the correct genre. I can’t hold that against him.
Celia: Would you be interested in a sequel if your writer is so inclined?
He hasn’t put me through enough? Why would I want to be subjected to his cruel treatment again? I suppose it’s possible that my life will be very different in the future. I admit, I’ve put some of my demons to rest. But I’m afraid the decision I made at the end of this book will haunt me, and I’m not sure I’m ready to face those issues.
Celia: If you could give yourself a superpower, what would you choose?
Lucia: You haven’t read this book yet, have you? I have powers, but I didn’t ask for every power that I have. Although, if I could, I would choose to have one of those powers again. I’m sorry I can’t say more. You’ll have to read the The Black God’s War.
It’s the not too distant future and we human folk are down to a very small number due to an outbreak of a fatal disease. Kati Marsh, the daughter of a leading genetic scientist, has spent her life working towards developing a new species of human that will be resistant to this virus. In the process, she and her father’s team have created a race of part human, part reptile creatures that could be the key to helping us survive this epic illness.
Her friend, Ryder, is the result of these genetic experiments and all he wants is to live free and not be just another lab rat, being subjected to test after test. But, there are people in the world who want nothing more than to destroy him and other saphers like him. Can a middle ground? Can mankind and the newly created saphers help each other survive their own destructions?
Grammar/Spelling: I noticed very few grammatical/spelling errors. My usual suggestion is for one more read through by a good beta reader.
Character Development: The characters were fully developed and spectacular – as per usual when reading a K.C. May tome.
Can I say that I developed a crush on the main character, Ryder, without sounding odd? He’s a sapher, but I’m cool with that. Throughout the story were several “firsts” experienced by Ryder and each one was described perfectly. I really felt Ryder’s shock of his first time seeing a dog in person, the feeling of the dog’s coat and tongue as he was licked by the puppy. Can you imagine never have actually been around a dog? Or a cat? Or, really, any pet ever in your life?
Writing Style: It’s a sneaky sci-fi book. Somehow, (I guess through “talent” or whatever, pshaw!) Miss May pumps you full of information on diseases, reptilian DNA and various other science related facts without overwhelming or alienating the reader. I bought into every single facet of the story and did not find myself with any questions left unanswered about the various processes and techniques used by the researchers.
Continuity: No issues with the continuity.
Overall Rating: 5
Look out! Venom of Vipers will getcha and leave you wanting more! K.C. May has created an exceptional sci-fi story that is both relevant and fascinating. I recommend this to anyone and everyone because, as I stated earlier, the science is well-explained, but not overpowering. I hope that this isn’t the last of her sci-fi adventures!
I was lucky enough to get an interview with dreamy Ryder. Yay! But, alas! He is spoken for!
1. How did you first meet your writer?
She just showed up one day like they all do. At first, I thought she was there to tell Katie’s story, so I didn’t really have much to say to her. Then I realized this was a perfect opportunity to get the word out about what’s happening in here.
2. Did you ever think that your life would end up being in a book?
Never. I didn’t there’d be anyone left alive who’d care.
3. What are your favorite scenes in your book: action, dialog, romance?
I like how KC quotes me exactly. She wanted to edit out the curse words, so I told her she could write about someone else then. I guess she decided to leave them in.
4. Did you have a hard time convincing your author to write any particular scenes for you?
I wanted her to give me a love scene with Katie, but she just gave me a sly look and said, “We’ll see.” Then I asked her to let me beat the crap out of Stuart Mann. She said if I could find him, I could do it. I looked for him. I looked all over.
5. Do you infiltrate your writer’s dreams?
Shhhh! She’s not supposed to know it was me.
6. What do you like to do when you are not being actively read somewhere?
Dane and Mack and I shoot pool a lot, and then there’s my art. I’m pretty good, if I do say so myself. I paint, sculpt and draw. You should see the drawing I did of my daughter, Evie. Henry sold it on eBay for twelve hundred bucks!
7. Are you currently engaged in a relationship?
Now, come on, Celia. You know I can’t tell you that. If you want to know who the repro scientists usually pair me with, it’s Teresa. She’s a fine Sapher woman, but she’s not currently pregnant. Maybe soon.
8. Are you happy with the genre your writer has placed you in?
Sure. I can’t imagine where else it would fit. I’m genetically-designed mutant, and I got people trying to kill me. Sci-fi thriller all the way, baby!
9. If you could rewrite anything in your book, what would it be?
I’d make it so I find Stuart Mann. Can you guess what I’d do to him?
10. Do you like the way the book ended?
*blushes* Yeah. I owe KC a beer.
11. Would you be interested in a sequel if your writer was so inclined?
Are you kidding? After what I went through? No way. She can be pretty mean. Let her to do it to someone else. I hear Pavel wants to be in one of her books. *snickers*
12. Do you believe that you are suitable portrayed in electronic books or would you rather be in paperback only?
Nah, I like knowing my story is out there being read right away. However people want to read it is fine with me — as long as they know the truth about what happened.
13. Did you have any input into the book cover design?
You know, I swore I wouldn’t try to run if they took me out to the desert for the photo shoot, but noooo. I blame Hamilton. Pretty sure she nixed that idea. They got some human kid to play me for the cover. Kid with fake fingernails and special-effect contact lenses. KC told me she’s thinking of changing it, but I don’t know what she has in mind.
14. What is the lamest characteristic your writer has attributed to you?
She tried to make me seem hot-headed. Can you believe that? Passionate, maybe, but hot headed? Give me a break.
15. If you could give yourself a superpower, what would you choose?
Well, since I can already heal people that wouldn’t be it. Maybe the ability to fly. Then they couldn’t keep me locked up in that place.
Very well written review, told me everything I needed to know to judge whether I would want to buy this book – and I do!
Shirley Blane, author of The Widow’s Revenge
Celia Can Read: making a difference. 🙂
Storyline: Since I’ve already used the “right up my alley” pun already, I’m just going to be blunt and say: Ursula’s Quest was wonderful. Tracey Alley has picked where she left off with Erich’s Plea and continued with a new, exciting story that is hard to put down and leaves the reader clamoring for more!
Ursula is plagued with dreams of her father’s voice telling her that she must find the missing key to save the kingdoms. She must leave the safety of the Monks of the Black Lotus and strike out across the desert lands of Kemet to reach the Temple of Life and she must do so even at the risk of her unborn child.
All the while, Slade and his companions are fighting their way across the wilds to find his father and try to stop the evil witch from winning a war that will surely end their world as they know it.
Grammar/Spelling: I think another beta-read would be a great idea. And it might help with the comma conundrum of which there is a lack of. (There is a lack of commas, not the conundrums. There are plenty of challenges…the key, the Dark One, the upcoming war… A LOT of conundrums abound in the story…)
Character Development: As usual, Ms. Alley’s characters are both well-defined and quite captivating. With Ursula’s Quest, we really get to dive into Slade’s sister side of the story and learn how she came to be part of the Black Lotus. Like Slade, she wants nothing more than to find her father and save the kingdom from the evil witch, Shallendara’s, plan to conquer the kingdom and let chaos reign. She worries that her unborn child will keep her from making the ultimate and difficult decision of choosing to fight and risking the baby or fighting and losing everything that is important to her.
Writing Style: The writing style is fluid and easy to follow. Again, Ms. Alley has incorporated her knowledge of ancient religions into the history and beliefs of her fantasy realm. Ursula and her traveling companion, Ming, travel to the Temple of Life and find that they must make it through a series of tests in order to reach their goal: the missing key. This is very closely related to the path that the ancient Egyptians’ souls traveled to Heaven. Since I love all things Egyptian, (except maybe all that heat – c’mon! Couldn’t they live in a more a temperate climate? Maybe even closer so I wouldn’t have to travel so far to see the pyramids?!) I really enjoyed those details and loved the use of the Reverse Confession.
Continuity: No issues with continuity.
Overall Rating: 4+
Ursula’s Quest written by the talented and charming, Tracey Alley is fantasy at some of its best! Ms. Alley keeps you interested without being too heavy handed with the fantasy aspect that some novels rely heavily upon. This journey is not only about elves, trolls and magic, it is about love and the recognition that there is something stronger than evil in the world: faith.
I anticipate that the rest of Ms. Alley’s series will be as fresh and exciting as the first two books have been. I would recommend this story to all ages and especially anyone who is just starting out in the fantasy genre. Good job, Trace!
Now, an interview with Tares, the Minotaur from Tracey Alley’s Witchcraft Series:
(Celia’s Note: This was my first interview with a Minotaur up close and personal and I must say that I was suitably impressed with Tracey’s ability to capture this fellow in all his wonderful glory. I’d hate to have him mad at me, let me tell ya!)
Celia: You are the first Minotaur ever to join the ranks of the Knighthood of Ilmater and, if you’ll pardon my saying so, yours is a race better known for its’ savagery rather than sacrifice.
Tares: I do not mind your question, [said with a slow smile], it is true that my people are more known for their skills as warriors than for their willingness to sacrifice for others but you must also remember that the minotaur people are a very honourable race. I was brought up to believe in honour and that dishonouring oneself or one’s tribe was the greatest sin one could commit. After I left the Isles of Dread to make my way in the world and met priests of Ilmater they seemed to me to be perfectly compatible with all that I had been taught. I feel honoured and humbled to be a member of Ilmater’s Knighthood, although I am, as yet, still only a warrior priest.
Celia: Were you surprised when Lord Michael Strong teamed you with Lara, a former thief and assassin in your task to find and free Sir Patrick san Decroix?
Tares: I was a little surprised and, in truth, at first found the pairing to be… difficult. Lara is, or I should say was, very efficient at her profession. Yet she is also extremely irreverent and it is difficult to get her to take things seriously. I found that something of a trial, yet Ilmater tests us all and I looked upon it as such.
Celia: After your escape from the prison in Zeaburg you readily joined Slade in his quest to find High King Erich rather than return with Trunk to Lord Michael, why was that?
Tares: It was my belief that following Slade was the will of Ilmater. The Knighthood have always served the Royal Family of Vestland. I could do little by returning but perhaps achieve much by continuing to serve the former Crown Prince.
Celia: Yet your companions, for the most part, were highly the ideal companions for a warrior priest of Ilmater. How did you reconcile yourself to following orders from someone like Nikolai for example?
Tares: Ilmater moves in mysterious ways and although I would not say so directly to the mage I believe that Ilmater has marked out Nikolai as one of His own. It was extremely difficult for me to follow someone who had dedicated themselves and their lives to a deity of blood and evil yet in time I saw a different side to Nikolai, a side that the necromancer may not even be aware of himself. Apart from which Ilmater calls upon all of us to make sacrifices for Him, I was merely following the tenants of the Knighthood that I believe in with all my heart.
Celia: One final question. Do you believe that the Knights of Ilmater will be able to win the war against the evil sorceress Shallendara?
Tares: Firstly you must understand that we fight a war on two fronts. We must not only defeat the war of conquest that Shallendara incited among Prince Ulrich and The Dark One but we must also stop the witch from her plans to open the portal to the gods. If she should succeed then all of Kaynos will be destroyed. This is a very difficult time for all of us, we still do not know the whereabouts of High King Erich, the Knights must fight a deadly war against a type of magic for which we still have no defence and Shallendara must be stopped from opening the portal. I have not been given any insight from Ilmater as to how the war will proceed. It is my hope and my prayer that we will succeed on all fronts and that the loss of life will be minimal but I have felt the effects of witchcraft and know how deadly it truly is. *sigh*
Storyline: Well, what can I say? This anthology was full of twists, turns and surprises of the finest kind. Each author took their turn around the campfire and delivered perfectly! For brevity’s sake, I’m going to see if I can fit the summary of ALL of the stories into one mega-sentence. Ready? Here goes!
A God machine, a were-pug, a terrible day at work, a klepto grandmother, the quest for perfection and understanding, an obsession, some shameful secrets, a hungry dragon and a do-over all await you in this gargantuan collection of greatness!
Grammar/Spelling: I hardly noticed any errors. I like to think it is due in large part to the magnitude of talent contained within this collection and due to the laser-like precision of Red Adept’s editing skills.
Building God – Jessica Billings: I can absolutely see why this story won first place. It was wonderfully written with a spectacular twist. It was supremely suspenseful and had a great Twilight Zone feel. It kept me almost distracted as I tried to figure out what would cause the spike and then drop in the number of people in the world so I had to keep reading to find out!
Should Have Seen it Coming – Brendan Carroll: At first, I really didn’t like Kurt. He was a complete and utter jerk. But, as the story progressively gets scarier and the suspense builds up, I found myself actually worried about Kurt and wondering what really happened to his dog and, oh yeah, his beloved. And I totally didn’t see it coming!
Granny Theft Auto – T.L. Haddix: Oh man…this one was awesome! I could absolutely imagine a small town (my hometown even!) turning a blind eye to the old woman’s thievery and her poor son. He was trying to do the best with what he had. I will say that it seemed as if the ending was a bit over-explained. I don’t believe that it needed as much of a wrap as was given.
Fired – Lynn O’dell: Utterly and completely perfectly written short story. It was the perfect combination of build up and story only to end with a sudden bang. This could have really happened to anyone. The ending brought about a giggling fit only matched by those you’d get during church when you’re trying your best to focus on the sermon and not all of the crazy inappropriate things that just randomly pop into your mind at the wrong time.
Unbroken Mirror – C.S. Marks: This was a beautifully written fantasy epic and I really would love to read the full story. It really sounds like a gorgeous and amazing world. It does seem a bit long-winded and heavy for a short story though. Maybe if some of the back story was pared down a bit?
42jorie – John Philpin: Another great short story with a wonderful balance of suspense and surprise. I really got into Peter’s frustration and annoyance with the smug Marjorie. Of course, sometimes, you have to be very careful about what information you share on the Interwebz. It could really lead to some major problems.
Leo’s Wife – Patricia Sierra: This short story was very well-written and I’m sure it’s happened to more people than would care to admit. Another inappropriate giggle escaped me while at work. (You guys are SO going to get me in trouble!) I did figure it out about 2 or 3 sentences from the end. But, I think that was the author’s intent. Sort of an “oh my God” moment and then disbelief that it actually happened.
Traditions – Michael Sullivan: Some traditions are meant to be broken and changed… I could really feel the terror and then determination of the girl as she resolutely set out to take control of her own fate. I felt every step she took and was really racking my ol’ grey matter trying to figure out what the sacrifice was all about. Of course, in the end, the story did end up asking some pretty important moral and ethical questions. Sacrifice for the greater good by staying the same or buck tradition and, for better or worse, change the world around you?
A Long Lonely Time – J.R. Tomlin: Another superb sample of short story sweetness. (Alliteration is a very powerful tool in any good author’s repertoire…or so I’m told. That implies that I’m a good author! HA!) Diane’s lived a fulfilling and happy life with her husband or has it truly been fulfilling? She is given the chance to revisit her past and make the ultimate decision that will change everything as she knows it. I devoured this short story with such a quickness that I wondered if it were all one paragraph. Hmmm… I wonder if I’d have made the same choice as Diane… Makes me wonder what I’d change if given the chance.
Overall Rating: 5+
You guys did an amazing job on these short stories! I really felt like each of you nailed the surprise twist and ending. I hope that each of you continue to churn out more short stories. What can I say? I’m greedy! I would also like for Lynn to be able to create a second anthology of greatness. Soooooo…get to it, y’all!
On a side note: I think we should ALL encourage Ms. Lynn O’dell (Red Adept, herself!) to write more for our viewing pleasure! If I can have a favorite story of them all (and I like to think that it’s ok for me to choose a favorite), it’s hers. You would do us all a great disservice if this was your only published foray into the written word (beyond your reviews, of course). Thank you so much for sharing, Lynn!
Jenka De Swasso wants nothing more than to be a King’s Ranger and, as usual for someone with a destiny larger than themselves, his life takes a sudden and dramatic turn after an encounter with a young dragon named Jade.
The goblins have a new king, Gravelbone, and are organizing with the “mudged” dragons to drive man out of their lands. Gravelbone intends to destroy the king’s huge defensive wall, poison the entire kingdom and make the survivors into his slaves.
Zah and Jenka are the only ones that can save the kingdom from the demon Gravelbone and his nightshade. Together, they must convince the king of the impending war, avoid being locked away for being dragon sympathizers and learn the true nature of their bonds with their pure blooded dragons, Jade and Crystal.
Grammar/Spelling: I noticed some inconsistencies with the spelling of a character named Rikky. Occasionally, it was spelled with only one “k”. There were also some minor punctuation problems that another read through with a beta reader could definitely take care of.
Character Development: The characters range from a powerful Druida to a stubborn young King’s Ranger to dragons, each with their own form of magic to help move the story along very nicely.
One of the standout characters for me was Rikky. He is barely a teenager and even at his young age, he shows a ferociousness and tenacity seldom seen even in men twice his age. Even after a debilitating attack from the goblins, he is determined to seek revenge on the Goblin King at nearly any cost.
Writing Style: Mr. Mathias has taken a tired old genre, reshaped and revamped it to start an entirely new saga with some surprising twists. The Royal Dragoneers have each bonded with a pureblooded dragon from the far northern reaches of the kingdom and the idea that not only can man fly with a dragon, but that he could literally bond with one is incredible. Is it possible that Avatar got the idea from Mr. Mathias? Hmmmm?
His depictions of the battles between the pureblood dragons and the mudged (or tainted) dragons are both energizing and amazing. I can almost feel the wind whooshing by as the dragons barrel dive and spray fire (even ice!) on their enemies below.
The story does have some graphic scenes of violence and gore and a sprinkle of adult language, so I don’t know that it is for everyone.
Continuity: No issues noted with continuity.
Overall Rating: 4
Bravo, Mr. Mathias! Your Royal Dragoneers is truly a new spin on an old dragon tale. I really want my own Dragon Tear and my own dragon. So, if you see any flyin’ about, send ’em my way and I might be so inclined to come pick ya’ up and we’ll go for a ride!
Great job, sir! Not just another cookie cutter fantasy with terrible, made up names and a predictable story-line; but, the makings of a great series that could continue for a long, long time! I look forward to reading the rest of the saga and learning more about dragons and their amazing powers.
Xanthan Gumm is a sweet little guy that’s not from Earth, but has been a fan of our movies for an extremely long time. Xanth (as he likes to be called) flies to Earth to star in the Movies that he and all of the other creatures in Galactic Central have been watching and studying for decades.
Only upon his crash landing and subsequent trials, tribulations and troubles does he realize that it’s going to take a lot more than he originally thought to be the next big Movie Star. Instead of instant fame, it might even take as long as week!
Grammar/Spelling: I noticed some minor grammatical (incorrect pronoun or character’s name, capitalization and punctuation) issues throughout the story, with an increase in formatting problems (spacing, paragraph indentation, random characters) towards the end of the book. These are easily corrected by another read-through by a beta reader.
Character Development: The main character, Xanth, is adorable in his naive and innocent outlook on humans and their way of life. Xanth isn’t dumb, he’s just very literal. Apparently, things are more straight-forward in Galactic Central than they are on Earth. He is very easy to love and the reader only wants him to be in the Movies. Xanthan almost makes the reader wish that life were as exciting as the Movies.
General Les S. Moore is likeable even in his misguided and misdirected patriotism. He is driven by his desire to protect Earth from the enemy, be it the “Commies” or otherwise. Apparently, Xanth falls into the “otherwise” category. With his overbearing mother helping to push him towards his ambition along with his over-the-top chin, General Moore will stop at nothing to achieve that goal.
Writing Style: Ms. Reed’s use of an “intergalactic” vocabulary is completely made up, yet very believable and just absolutely adorable. Her use of pop culture references is refreshing and helps move the story along quite well.
Continuity: No issues with continuity noted. The red cars remained red.
Overall Rating: 4
This story, with some minor editing for content, could easily translate into a Pixar or animated Disney film. I can almost hear Tim Allen’s deep voice as General Les S. Moore and Ewan McGregor’s soft voice full of awe as he tells everyone of his plans to be in the Movies.
Ms. Reed gave me a series case of the giggles in several points throughout the story. Xanthan Gumm is a great lighthearted and sweet story about a little guy who just wants to make it big – something that even we, as somewhat oblivious humans, can relate to. I recommend this book to just about anyone with a great sense of humor and a true appreciation for the Movies and achieving the American Dream. Or at least trying to achieve it.