Category Archives: Fantasy

Book Review: ‘Spellcaster’ by George Bachman

Title: Spellcaster

Published: 3rd April 2017

Publisher: Sublime Ltd

Author: George Bachman

Facebook: www.facebook.com/OfficialBachman

Twitter: @OfficialBachman

 

Synopsis:

In a turn-of-the century England steeped in steampunk and magic, Christine learns her life-threatening illness stems from her paranormal visions. During the London Season, Allie, her beloved sister and the family heir, seeks a noble match while she searches the occult underground for answers. But the only witch who can help will not do so unless Allie marries her beau, an impoverished aristocrat, so that the illicit pair can share Allie’s wealth.

 

Review:

Goes down as another off my 2018 Bookworm Bingo Challenge – A book involving time travel. Well in a way it does as you have reincarnated souls needing to travel back to their past lives to finish a quest they were on to stop a great evil.

Christine has always felt different, mainly with the things she can do – a witch’s craft growing perhaps? Right from the start she feels the need to search for two people – Rodham and Valerie – though she doesn’t really know why, just that she needs to. She keeps calling on different spirits to help her quest, each stronger than the last, to try to find them. Seems in a way she is also connected to someone Rodham knows. Spirits reincarnates perhaps? So whom have they really gone into? Seems this is where Sir Thomas comes into play – her past life. Seems these past lives have merged with the present ones and might even be able to manipulate them into doing things to help their cause – no matter the trouble it causes.

She also seems to get weird feelings about certain people or situations but doesn’t really know what to do about them when they come about. Could this really be her or is it more to do with Sir Thomas? In his time magic is around more openly and this could be what she is drawing her feelings from. Could bad feelings be because the people she meets have past souls she, or more precisely Sir Thomas, knew.

One of the things that might be more her past self’s doing than her own is helping Lord Serton woo her close friend Allie. The reason isn’t for true love but more to do with what Lady Kinloss can gain and help her with if the match is set. From this moment on Christine has almost been charged with seeing all those close to her wed by her friends and Allie’s sisters. A job she may wish she never agreed to help with. Might get a lot of matches but are they happy ones? Allie’s it seems might not be. Whether she can find a way out of it though only time will tell.

This is where the story becomes a two in one, with reincarnation playing a part and time going forward and back. I found at times though that I was never quite sure whose head I was in. So it might have benefited with names at the top of chapters so you could understand quicker whether you were inside Christine’s head or Sir Thomas’s. The story shifts to focus more on Sir Thomas near the end than Christine. She was almost a means to an end to get him back to where it all started so he could defeat a great evil.

The great evil to be defeated in the past before the future is lost is Hane, a Spellcaster who seems to be ruling by an evil hand. His actions saw a turn of events lead those around into a darker future. His followers seem to have gone into their future selves to try to stop Sir Thomas – aka Christine – and Rodham – aka Edmund – from getting the key back to their time along with an urn. Both needed in taking the spellcaster and his followers down. Once the master fails his kingdom soon crumbles. Let’s see if our time travelling souls can get the job done.

I found this book a bit hard to get into to begin with. Mainly due to the amount of characters being introduced that surrounded Christine. Just when you think the story is going one way it changes course. Now this is actually where the story picked up a bit better. When you go back to the past lives and see how they fair in their quest. Can they save the day to take down an evil ruler? Only time will tell. I feel it could have been split into two books with the first half being closed off a bit better when the stories focus shifts. One had closure but the other is left open. Seems once a mind has merged it’s hard to break completely as they are still plague by what they had to do to get the job done.

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: ‘The Magicians Workshop Volume One’ by Christopher Hansen and J.R. Fehr

Title: The Magicians Workshop Volume One

Published: 8th November 2016

Authors: Christopher Hansen and J.R. Fehr

Facebook: www.facebook.com/Magiciansworkshop

Twitter: @HansenFehr

 

Synopsis:

Everyone in the islands of O’Ceea has a magical ability: whatever they imagine can be brought into existence. Whoever becomes a master over these powers is granted the title of magician and is given fame, power, riches, and glory. This volume of books follows the journey of a group of kids as they strive to rise to the top and become members of the Magician’s Workshop.

Layauna desperately wants to create beautiful things with her magical powers, but all she can seem to do is make horrible, savage monsters. For years she has tried to hide her creations, but when her power is at last discovered by a great magician, she realizes that what she’s tried to hide might actually be of tremendous value.

Kai just wants to use his powers to have fun and play with his friends. Unfortunately, nearly everyone on his island sees him as a bad influence, so he’s forced to meet them in secret. When one of the creatures they create gets out of control and starts flinging fireballs at their town, Kai is tempted to believe that he is as nefarious as people say. However, his prospects change when two mysterious visitors arrive, praising his ability and making extraordinary promises about his future.

Follow the adventures of Kai, Layauna, and a boatload of other characters as they struggle to grow up well in this fantastical world.

 

Review:

Goes down as another off my 2018 Bookworm Bingo Challenge – A book with a number in the title. Seems some have gifts stronger than others but if you don’t have a colour pulled at the ceremony it will be for nothing. Each tale is different from the last but you know that eventually all players will be pulled into the same place. To what end is unclear, only time will tell.

We start with Layauna, a young magician coming into her very powerful powers. Hers seem to be haunting monstrous projection spells though, ones she can’t control yet. It’s a good thing that her grandfather, a very powerful magician, is taking her to the magician’s workshop to train then. Takes a while before we come back to her story and when we do it seems she’s in a loop of how she started, a dome that creates it. Trying to change what happened and control what she creates instead of them being too powerful after she’s created them. With how things pan out it’s not going too well to begin with and she’s been at it a while. Seems her creations might be able to become solid. A dream gift to others but a nightmare to her with what they can do. Nightmare is right; as that’s the kind of things she creates. Just needs longer to control them.

We then start to follow Kai and his friends Talia, Snap, Weston and Luge. Something that draws Kia apart from his friends is that he has a finger of a flame on his hand that won’t ever go out. They all seem to be good at projection spells with knowing what they want to create and being able to control them. Well to a point anyway. Creating a monster for a game is one thing but when it gets out of hand trouble is on its way. Could it affect his flame? People on the island think he’s trouble and after a game gone wrong, could they be right? Seems punishment was cast all round with a projection that got out of hand. Shouldn’t punish too harshly though as it seems the island is suffering due to a lack of a magician and these kids might be the future. So lets see if these creative kids have some colours on the day.

Thought Snaps dad Limmick was a right laugh. His reaction to the kids projecting something they shouldn’t have isn’t anger its ore, as he is so impressed with what they can do. Jade, Kai’s grandmother was interesting too. The fall of her husband and son, Kai’s father, put a dark mark on the family. Kai knows if he doesn’t become a magician he can’t pull them out of their misfortune. Something tourists pay good money to see so silver lining in a little way until time changes their fate.

Kaso has magic inside him too but because he’s an orphan he can’t take part in the colour ceremony until he’s 19, 3 years away. He has the ability to create warmth, which seems handy when the cold comes in. He has a younger brother he longs to protect, Coby. If he goes to region 2 he can go in the ceremony where everyone is already convinced he will have a colour and become a magician. Should he really trust strangers to get him and his brother there though? Eccentric poozers they may be but lets hope they keep their word.

Kalaya and her boyfriend Jaremon seem to be in training mode for her. He’s a mage already, his colour being green. She’s about to go to the ceremony to see the puller. Now she may be able to create things its just the colour of them that’s causing her trouble. Funny thing is that none of them really touch anyone else. You may project the feeling of touch but not many do and to physically touch is unheard of. Join later to see her in the testing stages to receive coins. More coins you have the more freedom you have to practice projections. Also helps with chances at the ceremony with getting a colour.

Let the ceremony begin. Looks like a lot of interesting young characters are about to start training at the magicians’ workshop. Time for a new era of magicians it seems. Emotions seem to play a part in what these kids can do when the time comes to test at 16. An interesting read that does draw you in but there are quite a few main and side characters to try to follow. Maybe when more are linked together it will be a little easier to follow where they might be going and how their lives are going to change forever after the colour ceremony starts. Volume 2 it seems holds all the clues.

4 out of 5 stars

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

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Book Review: ‘Shadow Eyes’ by Dusty Crabtree

Title: Shadow Eyes (Book 1)

Published: 2nd September 2016

Author: Dusty Crabtree

Facebook: www.facebook.com/dustycrabtreeauthor

Twitter: @dustycrabtree

 

Synopsis:

Iris thought she could ignore the shadows…until they came after everyone she loved.

Seventeen-year-old Iris Kohl has been able to see both dark and light figures ever since a tragic incident three years ago. The problem is, no one else seems to see them, and even worse…the dark figures terrorize humans, but Iris is powerless to stop them.

Although she’s learned to deal with watching shadows harass everyone around her, Iris is soon forced to question everything she thinks she knows about her world and herself. Her sanity, strength, and will power are tested to the limits by not only the shadows, but also a handsome new teacher whose presence scares away shadows, a new friend with an awe-inspiriting aura, and a mysterious, alluring new student whom Iris has a hard time resisting despite already having a boyfriend. As the shadows invade and terrorize her own life and family, Iris must ultimately accept the guidance of an angel to revisit the most horrific event of her life and become the hero she was meant to be.

 

Review:

Goes down as another off my 2018 Bookworm Bingo Challenge – A book about angels. You, along with Iris, might not know they are there to begin with as dark shadows are what she sees first but there has to be balance to everything so light is on its way.

Iris has struggled with a gift that was awoken within her at a dark time in her past. From the moment she opened her eyes the first time to see shadows lurking around those she loved she was scared. She has been afraid of them ever since and has no real clue as it what they are, just that she knows they aren’t good. For three years she has hidden this secret, along with a darker tale from her past. One we don’t learn of until she is ready to face it head on. Now with seeing shadows everywhere, most around people but some flouting close by, she would naturally be drawn to someone who has none or better yet seems to flow lightness from them instead.

From the onset we see a close friendship with Nicole and Lexi but sometimes friends can be fickle when guys are involved. She never really noticed much of the guys in school but slowly and surely the shy advances of Josh get to her. With him comes a group that connects with her friends too. Date night with a crowd of six it seems with some pairings happier than others – Iris and Josh, Nicole and Tyler and Lexi and Sam, though really Lexi has no interest in him at all. Starting something new and exciting with Josh is one thing but when a mysterious stranger comes on the scene it soon causes her to doubt her feelings. Patrick is someone very sure of himself, a classic flirt, so she can never be sure if he is playing or does want to get close. Not that it should matter when she starts dating Josh but the shadows seem to like playing games and he could be in their sights.

So Patrick is appealing due to not having shadows round him and with Josh getting more you can see where it might lead. He’s a master at flirting but do his actions ring true or are things not as they seem? With the new group broken it tears the girls apart but true friends are ever close at hand with Lexi and their new friend Kyra. Iris knows there is something different about her with the fact that she seems to emit light so bright it pushes back the shadows. You can tell she wants answers but perhaps isn’t ready to ask the right questions. Kyra has a calming feel about her and Iris knows she can trust her from the first moment they meet. Just happens to be in the class with her new teacher Mr. Delany. Another enigma it seems as he too, sometimes just with a look, can push the shadows back.

The shadows seem to have a game plan and Iris is at the centre of it, she just doesn’t know she’s playing. Strange things are happening around her to those she cares for and she feels helpless to prevent them. You know she suffers from anxiety but don’t know its source at first. Something happened on her 14th birthday and it forever changed her. Its not just darkness in her life she has to cope with but her families too. The more they seem to struggle the bigger the shadows become. Darkness surrounds them and until she finds her inner light she is powerless to stop them down the dark paths they are on – not their choosing but have they been pushed to go a certain way. Manipulation and whispers seem to be a key part to the shadows. Ones you need to stay clear of.

Side characters I liked were Lexi, Kyra and Hanna, Iris’ sister. They seemed to always be able to bring light and happiness back into the room. Kyra seems to be a bit of a ninja in disguise with some skills that come in handy when Iris needs them most. Her other sister was a bit harsh to her regardless of what she had gone through, especially when you know everything. Is it really her though or the shadows whispers causing her to act a certain way? The same goes for others really. Can they find their own way back? Do they even want to?

It’s an interesting supernatural mix with the everyday worries of teenage angst. Who to trust and who to push away? The line is never clear. You need to look deeper to see to someone’s soul to find the real them trying to get out. Family drama, crushes gone wrong, friendships tested and a fight between light and dark, good and evil. Which way will she be pulled and can she find the correct path to go forward? Only time will tell.

4 out of 5 stars

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

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Book Review: ‘Thread and Other Stories’ by Eric Halpenny

Title: Thread and Other Stories

Published: 13th July 2018

Publisher: Bookbaby

Author: Eric Halpenny

Facebook: www.facebook.com/halpennyauthor

Twitter: @dragonswordbook

 

Synopsis:

Thread and Other Stories is a multi-genre collection of short stories (single author) that includes science fiction, fantasy, urban fiction, literary fiction, historical fiction, and espionage. There are seven stories in the collection.

Prudence and her older brother Yannick face extreme poverty and hardship in Thread. They live day to day on the wages they earn at low paying, difficult jobs. They face hardships that seem insurmountable for two young children. Isidore, an impoverished boy trying to survive on his own, enters their lives with even greater needs than Prudence and Yannick. They integrate him into their family life even as their world begins to crumble around them. But, there is an ominous backdrop to these events as strange entities take a keen interest in the lives of the three children.

A military psychologist evaluates a Vietnam war veteran who has experienced psychological damage in Shrink. The veteran’s fellow soldiers and friends must support him as the psychologist attempts to uncover the reasons behind his trauma.

Emil, Annie, and their three children—Zona, Owen, and Abner—struggle to stay safe in a steampunk-inspired fantasy world in Chance. Abner finds himself in trouble as a powerful magical being terrorizes the family farm. Only Zona’s quick thinking along with her parents’ knowledge of magic will give them a chance against the dark sorcery of the enemy.

John and Greg, bound by friendship, embark on a journey of trial and tragedy in Conflict, a 20th Century historical fiction. They must deal with death, loss, and grief as compatriots fall in battle during this poignant snapshot of the Canadian military in World War I. John and Greg show a contrast in the ways that these soldiers adapted to the psychological effects of war.

Veera, an astrophysicist, begins to experience recurring déjà vu, the source of which she cannot determine in Oversight, a science fiction adventure. She is unknowingly set on a collision course with Misha, who challenges Veera’s perception of the world as she struggles to determine what is real and what isn’t. Misha must deal with his own psychological demons as he tries to salvage a failing mission that will either end in glory or in his own death.

Dmitry is a hardened spy in the Cold War who has no mercy for his adversary Olyesa in the espionage thriller Deception. Olyesa and Dmitry navigate their way through the murky waters of agents and double agents while simultaneously struggling against each other for survival. When their divergent plans collide, it threatens to destroy them both.

Explore a metaphysical debate in the literary short story Conversation, which is woven between each of the short stories in this collection. An unnamed protagonist and an unidentified and secretive entity discuss the metaphysical and spiritual meaning behind science and what it means to gain knowledge.

 

Review:

Goes down as another off my 2018 Bookworm Bingo Challenge – A collection of short stories. All are very different but each have a certain something to keep you intrigued to continue on to the next. Nice style of writing with this collection of shorts.

THREAD

A story connected by conscious thoughts of others perhaps? The main one itself is a trying tale of children living in poverty and having to work just to eat. The mines are for the boys and it’s cleaning for girls. They never feel hope for they can’t see a way out of the cycle they are part of. Work, eat, sleep and repeat. With the eating part sometimes being hard to come by. Yannick protects his sister Prudence but is still a child himself. A saying being you can’t look out for others, as you don’t have enough for yourselves. That’s Yannick’s way of thinking when Isidore comes into their lives. He’s younger than both of them but needs to work to stay alive too. Hardships become them and dangers of the world around them, work included, causes tragic results. Seems conscious minds might be merging to feel something new, hope might be born into their dark lives bringing some light and a connection thread to join them.

SHRINK

The perils of coming back from war and having to live with the consequences of what happened when you were there. A shrink to help the army vets before they go home but sometimes they are too far-gone to come back from the darkness. They need their crew and family to try to bring them round but is that enough?

CHANCE

Well what starts out as an everyday farmers family working life turns into something completely unexpected. Interesting twist with its’ direction and how the story evolves from there. Young minds are inquisitive ones so you should be careful to teach them to understand what’s at stake and not leave books around they might not understand. Creating a doll is one thing but this one had a mind of its own.

CONFLICT

Tales told of the Great War focusing on the Canadians fighting, all showing how and why different people would have signed up. What were they fighting for? Was it King, country, honour, family, friends or perhaps just a mixture of them all? Showing the day-to-day life of the battlefield slowly pulling them under. Two different men’s views on how they see the battle to be won. Who are the lucky ones? Those who go home physically injured, mentally injured, don’t go home at all or the ones who never got called in the first place? The letters or quotes from people who were really there mixing with the story were interesting. Gives you a little insight to what they really experienced.

OVERSIGHT

Two scientists following through with an 18-month task sending and tracking satellites – a link to the Mars project but also a new Jupiter one. Their project is failing and they know they need to go back through notes to find where they went wrong. This is where things get a little strange, as it seems they aren’t the only ones testing something, or should that be someone? Are you the tester or subject and can you tell the difference between the two? Quirky read that will have you questioning what could be out there and who or what everyone really is. Who is controlling whom? Maybe not knowing is the point.

DECEPTION

Spy masters at extracting information out of people. The top of a very select few that needs to stay hidden. Dmitry is one of them and believes he is the one always in control. He gets his pleasure out of tormenting others whether for work or fun. There seems to be no difference for him. He might think he is the one controlling the game but is he the one being played in a complex game of spy vs. spy. Cards are about to fall in a different way and he might not like where they land.

CONVERSATION

A need to have someone to talk to, but are they really there or just in your head? They say they will wait until you are ready to talk. Let’s hope it’s true. For someone to help do you need to be face to face or can they help you from afar? This story is broken up and interlinked between all the others. It gives the impression of time passing between the one who wants to talk but isn’t really ready to as they keep putting up barriers (I must meet you and you’re wrong) and the one who is willing to wait for however long until they are. A philosophical conversation with someone or something – do you really need to see them to talk?

4 out of 5 stars

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

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Book Review: ‘The Ghost Machine’ by Kristen Brand

Title: The Ghost Machine: A Gothic Steampunk Novel

Published: 29th December 2016

Author: Kristen Brand

Twitter: @brandedkristen

 

Synopsis:

Ella Rosenfeld is a lunatic. Locked away in the remote Auttenberg Asylum, she undergoes torturous treatment to cure her hallucinations. Yet the longer she remains within Auttenberg’s austere halls, the more gruesome her visions become, until Ella is sure she’s seeing ghosts and Auttenberg’s doctor knows it. He doesn’t plan to cure her; he wants to study her ability by dissecting her.

Ella refuses to accept her fate. She assaults her captors, scales the asylum fence, and finds sanctuary in the castle of Baron Viktor Szarka. Young and arrogant, the baron offers her protection, but he’s rumored to have locked a woman in the asylum to hide his dark past. Unable to trust him, Ella must uncover the conspiracy surrounding the asylum, her visions, and the baron’s secret…or join the rest of Auttenberg’s ghosts.

If you’re a fan of steampunk or gothic romance, download a sample or buy now.

 

Review:

Goes down as another off my 2018 Bookworm Bingo Challenge – A book you didn’t want to put down. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this gothic steampunk mystery but was gripped from the start and couldn’t put it down. Great story telling with twists, turns and misdirection’s seemingly coming at you to keep you guessing right to the end.

So Ella has come to Auttenberg Asylum in hopes of them helping her with what everyone thinks are hallucinations. Auttenberg is a place filled with history and death with battles long gone past. Not so good for Ella as the ‘hallucinations’ she sees are ghosts. She, along with her parents, thinks this is the best place to cure her but it doesn’t take Ella more than a couple of days to figure out something far worse. On her first session with Dr Grunewald, along with the help of Mrs Schuttmann (both of whom you get bad vibes from), puts her into a machine. One that seems to split her head in two, well it feels like it does anyway. Seems this machine has a purpose but right now Ella is just convinced it’s going to kill her. Fearing for her life, and after a chat with a ghost in her room, one that killed itself, she knows she has to escape. Easier said than done and luck most definitely has to be on her side because escaping the asylum is only her first hurdle. More are on the way and each more mysterious and dangerous than the last.

Now it seems Ella may have not paid too much attention to planning her escape. She found a moment to act and went with it. Thing is that the Auttenberg Asylum is in the Carpathian Mountains, a place currently with arctic weather and not one to be caught out in with only one shoe. Running for her life she fears death from the cold will get her first but its not long before wolves might play a part. Thank god for Baron Viktor Szarka as he comes to her rescue. But from the stories she’s been told can she really trust him. Could he just be luring her into another trap? He might take care of her recovery – frostbite is a bitch – but he doesn’t do much to put her at ease. He wants to hear her accounts of what really happened at Auttenberg, which she does minus the ghosts. Seems he knows what she omitted though as he has her journal. Invasion of privacy screaming from her but does he believe or think her mad? His home is a cold fortress but friendly faces do appear in the form of his younger brother Andras and his guardian/housekeeper Mrs Lupescu. All would seem well when parents arrive and with the Baron insisting they take Ella away as early as possible but with snow closing in and Dr Grunewald willing to do anything to get her back things don’t go to plan.

Adventure in the form of running for her life draws its head again and she knows its not just humans she should fear but iron soldiers too. She can see there is something different about them compared to the machines her father made. A clue to why she is so valuable to the wrong kind perhaps? Battles at the ready with flying ships, pirates, deaths and misdeeds forming but it seems she has a helper at hand with Andras throughout her journey and maybe even the Baron. Ghosts are what she feared but was she looking at things backwards. Was she meant to see them to help so they couldn’t be mistreated, even in death? She may be the asset Dr Grunewald and his team wants to claim back but she may also be their undoing. Well only if she figures everything out in time.

5 out of 5 stars

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

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