Category Archives: Fantasy

Book Review: ‘Monsters I Have Known’ by Jess Hartley

Title: Monsters I Have Known: A Collection of Short Stories

Published: 26th June 2017

Publisher: Mad Muse Studio

Author: Jess Hartley

Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/category/Book/Mad-Muse-Studio

 

Blurb:

Come take a walk in the shadows alongside award-winning writer/editor/novelist, Jess Hartley, as she leads you through 13 intriguing tales of monstrous beings – supernatural or otherwise. In this, Hartley’s first solo anthology, readers will find a broad offering of genres – horror, romance, steampunk, fantasy and more – including her never-before-published murder mystery novella – Love Never Dies. Monsters I Have Known collects both well-loved favorites from previously published anthologies and never-before-seen fiction, presenting them with insightful introductions to share with readers some of the circumstances surrounding each story’s creation. A must-have introduction for those new to Hartley’s work, and a convenient compilation for fans of her career in the roleplaying game industry.

 

Review:

Goes down as another off my 2019 Bookworm Bingo Challenge – A paranormal book. Well some of the short stories had a paranormal element to them.

An interesting collection of short stories exploring different genres throughout, going from the mundane, to horrors and supernatural bizarre. Some I liked more than others as I felt they had a bit more depth to them with the characters and the story they were telling. Also I think it depended on the length of them as well.

Here are a few of my favourite ones and what I thought of them:

Love Never Dies – Elizabeth wakes up in the ocean on a stormy night trying to fight her way to land. When she wakes she doesn’t really know who she is – and later – what she has become. Her memories get triggered when she walks up steps to a house, shocking a man from inside a window. Billy panics to get her inside and so the troubles of what happened start to surface. Elizabeth doesn’t know what happened but has a feeling she shouldn’t trust him. He might want to continue with a plan to get what he wants but something mysterious with Elizabeth seems to make things take a different turn. Both futures are about to change.

Immaterial Witness – When you can see ghosts what better way to make a living than by giving ghost tours. Seems others aren’t as sure of her skill, to the point of her being mocked by a male host in an interview. He says that him and his crew want to join on haunted hotel tour later so she wonders if she can make believers of them. The host on the other hand has other ideas about what the night should entail taking the name of ghost hunter to a new level. Lets see what the ghosts think of that.

Of Rain and Roses – heartbreak leading you on a walk in the rain while your mind is in a haze. How long to wonder before stumbling upon someone at a memorial. Words of wisdom to always remember the past and its mistakes so you don’t repeat it. Remembering what happened can set your soul free or you may be doomed to repeat your journey over and over again.

Hunger’s Child – calling a child Una – meaning hunger – could be seen as an omen and set the child on a course for gluttony. Always wanting more and more, causing a stir if she doesn’t get it. She gets herself a doting husband but after months of demands while she was pregnant I’m not sure how much more he could take. Mother Gothel watches all from the outskirts of town, helping people with healing when asked. With Una’s never ending list of demands from her husband the less Mother Gothel is inclined to help. That is until the mother no longer wants the child and a path of wishes starts. One turns to two and then to many, sometimes causing more trouble than help. Mainly by taking the toll on the person wishing them. She may have done what she thought best to keep them safe but you can only stay hidden for so long. Especially when strangers stumble upon towers with secrets inside.

3.5 out of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from Mad Muse Studio for my honest review.

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Book Review: ‘Champion’s Rising’ by S.F. Claymore

Title: Champion’s Rising (Champion of Psykoria Book 1)

Published: 1st March 2018

Author: S.F. Claymore

 

Blurb:

An young adult medieval coming-of-age fantasy filled with action, adventure and a huge variety of magical creatures, including dragons and demons.

Prince Snarmis is a giant of a man, one of the strongest in the kingdom of the Psykoria. But although he towers above his peers, Snarmis’s skill at fighting fails to impress his father, whose approval he seeks. His close friend Celtor, leader of a mysterious and hermetic group of forest-dwellers, advises him to seek help from werewolves. Before he sets off, a young, enthusiastic and naïve member of the tribe, Serenity pleads with him to take her with him to give her a taste of life beyond the forest.

He is giving Serenity a tour of Psykoria’s capital, when the country is invaded by the daemons – terrifying, blood-thirsty monsters set only on death and destruction. Snarmis realises he must become a great warrior or die in the attempt, and accept help from anyone willing to offer it – including Serenity.

 

Review:

Goes down as another off my 2019 Bookworm Bingo Challenge – A book with a dragon in it. Warrior one called Rakkan that fights with King Breetor of Psykoria. An interesting fantasy read that takes you on quite the journey.

The last great battle was the War of Good and Evil, some would say the war was over but it looks like evil has found a way back to cause chaos. Seems sword training with Snarmis needs to be improved stat if he wants to be as good as his father.

Snarmis, the Prince of Psykoria, longs to impress his father with his skills but they just don’t seem to be improving on their own. He has the height and build to be a great warrior but his sword skills are lacking. Which isn’t good when news of a new battle is on the horizon. His friends the Lambada tribe might be able to help – along with the fairies in the forest that offer a little pain relief after a tricky training session, magic comes in handy some times. The leader of the tribe Celtor thinks he has a way to help but needs to travel to Drason Wood to see the werewolves there to do so, collecting something that will come in handy to fight. While he travels Serenity, another member of the tribe, asks to spend time with Snarmis to see more of the outside world, she may wish she had stayed put with what comes their way.

One way to charm your guest is to offer a ride on your pegasus. Well Serenity does want to fly so what better way than on a winged horse. Her wish is granted but not from a fun flight, more like a retrieval one when she goes off to find her leader fearing he is in danger. Snarmis is there to help but what will they come across on their journey? In doing so they might find themselves in the middle of a battle they should really be flying away from. Wherever Snarmis goes Serenity will follow, even when she really shouldn’t. Both getting better with fighting though – good job too with what comes at them.

A whole army of beasts called the Ultimate Evil is on their way destroying everything and everyone in their way. Demons are coming and it’s a fight to the death. One of the leaders Gassar wants to create an even worse army of followers – don’t get too close during a battle or you may wish for death. He wants something and is willing to do all he can to get it. Well that’s one battle that will be hard to beat.

Interesting read from start to finish, though in places a bit long in the description of things. Later part was mainly battle after battle but was a good way to see new sides coming together to fight the demons. Battles may be won but the war is just beginning. Intriguing characters overlapping along the journey taken with Snarmis and his friends. His skills might have improved but the battle for war continues.


3.5 out of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the author for my honest review.

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Book Review: ‘A Girl Named Calamity’ by Danielle Lori

Title: A Girl Named Calamity (Alyria Book 1)

Published: 12th July 2016

Author: Danielle Lori

Facebook: www.facebook.com/authordaniellelori

Twitter: @daniellelori2

Instagram: www.instagram.com/danielleloriwrites

 

Blurb:

*This is a New Adult Fantasy Romance*

I was a simple farm girl living in the magical land, Alyria, where men ruled and women only existed.

Call me sheltered. Call me naive. I was probably both. I never expected to be the key to Alyria’s destruction.

The journey I was on wasn’t only one to save me. But one where I had a lot of learning to do. With men. With magic. And with myself.

But I wasn’t alone. I had an escort. One I wasn’t so sure about. But one I couldn’t afford to lose and one I wasn’t so sure I could even leave.

I had many hopes. But the most important one was that my name wouldn’t become my fate.

WARNING: This novel contains blood, violence, profanity, and some sexual content.
It does end on a cliffhanger.

 

Review:

Goes down as another off my 2019 Bookworm Bingo Challenge – A book that features supernatural powers. Magic used to flow around more freely within many people, but now just a few. Those with it will always seek more power. It is locked into the world around them. If someone has a key to unlock it think of the magic they could posses. A fantasy adventure to be taken along on but be warned it does leave on a cliffhanger!

So even though Calamity’s Grandmother is only in the very begin she does make an impact. Pop off to town and come back with a horse, well of course you did Grandmother lol. Seems she foresaw Cal would soon be of need of it, more to her than meets the eye, for one thing she has healing magic in her. Something Cal always wished that she would have too but was always told she didn’t. She has a pair of silver cuffs that she must never take off. Something of value or something holding in magic so she is left unaware? Could they be hiding her from those that could cause her harm? The truth in that is about to be revealed.

Trouble arrives at their door in the middle of the night when Reina – Cal’s mother who she doesn’t remember – comes to steal one of the cuffs. The moment it is off her Grandmother knows Cal has to run, as she will no longer be safe in Alger. The shock of finding out who, or rather what, her mother is has to be pushed aside for the journey she is about to take, one without her Grandmother.

Escape and run away as fast as possible from dangers that are soon to follow. That’s the only thought running through her head at her Grandmother’s warning, not that she completely believes what she was told. A route through the red forest is the path chosen – let’s just say it’s called that for a reason! Scary place to travel but better than the darkness coming for her and her ‘unknown to her’ magic just waiting to be released. She must get through to the next town to find herself an escort to guide her across Alyria to Undaley to where she will be safe. An escort needed but having extra skills as an assassin might come in handy. Hello Weston, warrior ex-Titan turned assassin with enough raw malice vibe energy around him to make you tremble in your boots with a stare, fancy helping our girl? What can be said with no words, a lot it seems. He might be her guide but that doesn’t mean they need to talk. Funny how she didn’t realise how much she liked to talk until she couldn’t.

Stopping at towns along the way can make for interesting interludes. Going for a bath in one with, to her, bad smelling soap from a stranger has a strange affect on some men, Weston being one of them. He doesn’t want the temptation so throwing her into a pool of water for her to wash it off is one way to solve it. Not that she really understood why he wanted her to wash it off, I mean she knew she stank but thought he wouldn’t care. Oh how wrong you were! Small shops along the way have a pull towards them for Cal as well. Magic inside that might help her out of her predicament. Some – if not all – are surely to back fire and she may or may not like the results.

Funny how she keeps thinking Weston might have magic, as he can always tell what she is thinking. True or not it might have more to do with her thoughts being written all over her face. As the journey continues she’s going to need to work on that to stay safe. Does her guide have ulterior motives for helping her? Something about him is different and Cal has to figure out how safe she really is, with or without him. He does keep saving her from danger – the Untouchables and Mages being top of that list – but for what purpose. Out of the frying pan and into the fire on more than one occasion. No matter how hard she tries she just can’t catch a break.

Red haze or blue haze – come on girl which one do you want most? Love (or maybe rather lust) and hate are two sides of the same coin in regards to Cal and Weston. They know just the right buttons to push to get a rise out of the other but there is chemistry and denied passion just waiting to find a release. She may not trust her assassin guide but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t want him or feel a perverse sense of safeness in his presence. She just needs to figure out his true motives. The seal for all magic is what those chasing her want her to open and she is the only one who can do it. So far she has no faith in that and thinks they have the wrong girl.

Interesting read that had me hooked right from the start. The chemistry between Calamity and Weston is great. Fighting each other along the way but also feeling a need to stay close at the same time as wanting to escape. At war with her own feelings she has for him and the weight of the world on her shoulders for fear of letting Alyria down and causing death and destruction by opening the seal. No pressure then! Now we do end on a cliffhanger, but that just leaves you wanting more. Where do we go from here? Book 2 and 3 I think.

5 out of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the author via Instafreebie for my honest review.

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Book Review: ‘Aaru’ by David Meredith

Title: Aaru (The Aaru Cycle Book 1)

Published: 10th July 2017

Author: David Meredith

Facebook: www.facebook.com/DavidMeredithWriting

 

Synopsis:

Rose is dying. Her body is wasted and skeletal. She is too sick and weak to move. Every day is an agony and her only hope is that death will find her swiftly before the pain grows too great to bear.

She is sixteen years old.

Rose has made peace with her fate, but her younger sister, Koren, certainly has not. Though all hope appears lost Koren convinces Rose to make one final attempt at saving her life after a mysterious man in a white lab coat approaches their family about an unorthodox and experimental procedure.

A copy of Rose’s radiant mind is uploaded to a massive super computer called Aaru – a virtual paradise where the great and the righteous might live forever in an arcadian world free from pain, illness, and death. Elysian Industries is set to begin offering the service to those who can afford it and hires Koren to be their spokes-model. Within a matter of weeks, the sisters’ faces are nationally ubiquitous, but they soon discover that neither celebrity nor immortality is as utopian as they think. Not everyone is pleased with the idea of life everlasting for sale.

What unfolds is a whirlwind of controversy, sabotage, obsession, and danger. Rose and Koren must struggle to find meaning in their chaotic new lives and at the same time hold true to each other as Aaru challenges all they ever knew about life, love, and death and everything they thought they really believed.

 

Review:

Goes down as another off my 2019 Bookworm Bingo Challenge – A book by a male author. A book about death, childhood loss and finding new ways of coping with changes happening around you. What if you didn’t need to say goodbye? Would you like your mind to live forever in nothing more than a computer world you can create things in if it meant you could stay – in a way – with the ones you loved?

Rose is sixteen and has almost come to terms with the fact that her time is almost up. She has leukemia and with time running out she needs a miracle of some sort. Her younger sister Koren, just a child herself at thirteen, isn’t ready to let her go, let alone their parents. The miracle they have been looking for comes in the form of Mr. Adams. He wants to help Rose in a way others haven’t managed before. She is reluctant at first but agrees to try one last thing. If it fails then she’s ready to let go, as she is just so tired of fighting and wants some peace. He starts with scanning her brain and then having sensors put on her head while she’s asked to think of happy thoughts. Her emotional output is key for this to work. She’s not sure what this will do but gives it a try hoping he will explain later. It’s not long before she feels herself left in the dark, quite literally, her fight with her body might be lost but what comes next?

When Rose’s mind wakes up she is in a virtual world and is greeted by Lady Hana of Tenkoku, who calls Rose her Veda. Within this world she soon sees that if they think of something it happens – like clothes to change into, buildings or plants to grow. The kingdom is a blank canvas for them to create a world to live in. There are ten kingdoms within Aaru, each with a Lord and Lady. Lord Mikoto of Tenkoku deals with security in their kingdom. His new Veda Franco seems to have been forgotten a little by him so he gets Hana to train him alongside Rose. It’s not long before other Vedas start to appear, all creating more within their kingdoms waiting for residents to arrive when the system goes live. Is all really happy in this make believe world though?

The Aaru world seems unbelievable to most outsiders and none more so than Rose’s family, especially her sister Koren who hasn’t been handling her sisters death very well. They are brought to the facility to be shown that they did “save” Rose. Her mind was essentially downloaded – memories, thoughts, emotions etc – into Aaru as a way to cheat death. Will it really be her though? Koren is asked to go towards a computer and call out her sister’s name. When Rose comes to the screen it’s enough to knock them all over, this is the proof that Elysian Industries needed them to see. Now that they have they want to use Koren to help sell the idea of Aaru to the US market. A young pretty face that they can doll up to their own means to get the job done. But how far are they willing to go to sexualize this child for their product? What will be the consequences for when they do?

Aaru seems like the perfect place to live in but there are those that are troubled by what it means to be there. They are told to be happy and most seem to be but when they have thoughts or memories that turn darker they seem to be stopped. You can think of them like a story but not really feel the emotions that go with them. Almost like the system won’t allow you. With this being a programme you have to wonder what fail safes are in place, not only to protect its residents mental wellbeing but also their safety. Computer programmes can always be hacked, dangers are out there that can’t always be seen.

These dangers come in the form of Magic Man, a character used to create a darker side to the story. He is an online predator who takes an unhealthy obsession with Koren. Hacking into systems to get videos and images of her to feed his needs. That’s just the start with his plans. If he can hack a live feed how long before he tries to get into Aaru? The system might have many fail safes in place but is anyone really safe when predators are at bay?

There was an interesting twist with a character at the end that you won’t see coming. Setting it up for what’s to come and how both worlds will collide are an interesting concept. The story was well written with interesting ideas but I felt that some of the content turned me off the story. Had I been more aware of the darker theme content to begin with then I might have been better prepared. I do feel because of this that there should really be a content warning due to sensitive subjects within like stalking, paedophilia, child pornography and exploitation.

3 out of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the author for my honest review.

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Book Review: ‘Realm of Mindweavers’ by Marianne Ratcliffe

Title: Realm of Mindweavers (Book One – Tales of Golmeira)

Published: 16th January 2017

Author: Marianne Ratcliffe

 

Synopsis:

A ruler is betrayed and his young daughter is forced to flee or die. 

Teenage Zastra is a big disappointment to her father, Leodra, ruler of Golmeira, because she hasn’t got what it takes to become a mindweaver, one of the highly valued few who can manipulate the thoughts of others. Things get much worse for Zastra when she is roused from her bed to find that Leodra has been betrayed and her beloved Golmer Castle overrun with enemy soldiers. She escapes via the castle’s ancient underground tunnels, only to be faced with a terrible choice. Hunted across the turbulent landscape of Golmeira, Zastra must rely on her wits and the help of strangers as she tries to outrun the powerful forces set upon her trail.

 

Realm of Mindweavers is the first book in the Tales of Golmeira series. If you enjoy page-turning adventure stories with strong female protagonists such as Trudy Canavan’s Black Magician series or Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy, you’ll love these books.

 

Review:

Goes down as another off my 2019 Bookworm Bingo Challenge – A book by an author new to you.

Zastra is the daughter of the Leodra, Grand Marl of Golmeria, and he hopes that she has the mindweaver power, one needed to protect their realm. She was young to be tested at 13 and first thought is that she doesn’t have any powers. She might not have mindweaver power but she does have the ability to resist the power being used on her. A new power that could be of some use in times of need but not so good from her fathers point of view as he needs more mindweavers to be able to protect them against their enemies. He may look down on her a little after this but its not like he has any powers, her mother Anara on the other hand can sense the fears and emotions of others. His hopes might have to be saved for his baby twin’s Kastara and Findar.

Zastra has people on her side to help her. Dobery a mindweaver was the first to sense something different with her mind. Could help her develop her abilities to be able to detect and block other mindweavers. Could she help others too? Martek the master at arms fighting skills teacher and mindweaver could come in handy with what he might teach her. There is also Teona, a high master, teacher and mindweaver. She seems intrigued that Zastra’s skill is different, wanting her to train it. Zastra might be wary of her as a teacher to begin with but she is a great help in a time of need.

Enemies are what her father is worried of but maybe he should look closer to home. All the Marls are coming to Golmeria for a summit, her father wants to pass new laws but others seem apposed to them. Could this be the start to a coup from dangers unseen? He thinks that by having his brother Thorlberd Marl of Bractaris, along with his young son Rastran, stay for months that they can figure out what his enemies, the Kyrg who fight for coin, plans are. Will he figure things out too late?

Figuring out the dangers the Kyrg cause brings together one of Leodra laws he wants to change. It seems that old wars between two sets of land have caused nothing but trouble for years. To try to find a way of peace he invites Mendoraz, Lord of Sendor, and his children Kylen and Zadorax to talks about how to move forward. With troubles brewing it looks like blame is being focused on them rather than who is really at the helm. Especially after a Caralyx creature gets within the castle grounds heading for an attack on the children. Good job that Zastra is handy with a bow. Slow on the uptake on seeing things clearly and it might be too late with what comes next.

Zastra is going to need to be strong for her siblings when dangers come calling. Can she keep both of them and herself safe? She just needs to be careful whom she puts her trust in. Sometimes strangers might actually be best to help get somewhere safe. She needs to find people who are still loyal to her father to create a resistance. To do that she first has to outrun her enemies chasing her. To do this she has to make a difficult decision to keep them all safe. Hiding in plain sight might work for a while but she vows to return to put things right. Trouble and danger follow her on her journey, she must always stay on the move to keep everyone safe.

Interesting start to the series, sets things up nicely for how the world might evolve around them. War and battles are coming so she needs to look further afield to find those that will help. She always has those true to her father that will step in when needed. Can they be pulled together to overthrow the evil powers that have taken control? Continue the story to find out.

4 out of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the author via Instafreebie for my honest review.

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