Tag Archives: fantasy books

Red Sun (The Shifter Chronicles Book 14) by M.D. Grimm Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A cat shifter discovers a young wolf shifter roaming the streets of El Paso, TX, after spending his life believing he had a demon possessing him. Taking the wolf under his wing, he brings him to a sanctuary for shifters, developing a close relationship along the way as a shifter hunter is on their trail in author M.D. Grimm’s “Red Sun”, the fourteenth book in The Shifter Chronicles series. 

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The Synopsis

Raphael is no ordinary wolf shifter.

Raphael knows he must be possessed by a demon. What else could explain the aggression, the physical, beastly transformations? To protect himself and others, his father locks him away. But when Raphael is nineteen, the demon gains full control and breaks free. Now Raphael is scared and desperate on the streets of El Paso, Texas, convinced he’s cursed. Then a stray cat enters his life and everything changes.

Ahmes is a cat shifter and knows there’s something off about the young shifter he’s encountered. It soon becomes apparent that the young man doesn’t know what he is, and Ahmes is determined to help and care for him. But gaining the trust of not only the fearsome wolf but the scared young man will take all his persistence.

Friendship, and the potential for more, grows between them as they travel to Haven, Montana—a town founded by shifters, for shifters, and home to a specialized counseling center, one that can help Raphael understand and accept who and what he truly is.

If that wasn’t enough, on their trail is the last person either expected—Gregor Whitefield, the commander of the Knights of the Dawn, which is an organization bent on the eradication of shapeshifters. Gregor enjoys the thrill of the hunt, determined to collect the unique blood that is crucial to Arcas’s great plan.

Raphael’s blood.

The Review

Going into this read, I was worried that I would be totally lost. In the fourteenth book in this series, I was sure that there would be too much history and too many character introductions in past books to be able to understand the foundations of this book. I am very happy to say that I was wrong. The author did such a perfect job of writing this book in a way that could allow it to be a stand-alone style narrative while also delving into the history and mythology of the Shifters and the Knights of the Dawn who are always after them. 

The atmosphere of tension that this war brought into Raphael and Ahmes’s story was entertaining, and the balance the author struck between that facet of the narrative and the more personal LGBTQ-driven romance narratives found on both sides of the story was truly inspiring. The way the author mirrored the coming out process that many LGBTQ people have to undergo and the confusion and even hostility both from family and from themselves with the evolution of Raphael’s story of coming to terms with his wolf spirit was emotional and drove me as a reader forward, eager to watch the emotional evolution of the character as well. 

The Verdict

Engaging, thoughtful, and heartfelt in its delivery, author M.D. Grimm’s “Red Sun” is the perfect next chapter in the Shifter Chronicles series and a must-read LGBTQ-driven fantasy read to start out 2022! With emotional storytelling, great new additions to the Shifter mythos, and memorable characters with a relatable mirrored character arc that readers will be living for, the story will resonate with so many while also delving into the history and culture this genre is so well known for, making this a brilliant story. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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M.D. Grimm has a new MM paranormal book out, Shifter Chronicles book 14: Red Sun. And there’s a giveaway!

Raphael is no ordinary wolf shifter.

Raphael knows he must be possessed by a demon. What else could explain the aggression, the physical, beastly transformations? To protect himself and others, his father locks him away. But when Raphael is nineteen, the demon gains full control and breaks free. Now Raphael is scared and desperate on the streets of El Paso, Texas, convinced he’s cursed. Then a stray cat enters his life and everything changes.

Ahmes is a cat shifter and knows there’s something off about the young shifter he’s encountered. It soon becomes apparent that the young man doesn’t know what he is, and Ahmes is determined to help and care for him. But gaining the trust of not only the fearsome wolf but the scared young man will take all his persistence.

Friendship, and the potential for more, grows between them as they travel to Haven, Montana—a town founded by shifters, for shifters, and home to a specialized counseling center, one that can help Raphael understand and accept who and what he truly is.

If that wasn’t enough, on their trail is the last person either expected—Gregor Whitefield, the commander of the Knights of the Dawn, which is an organization bent on the eradication of shapeshifters. Gregor enjoys the thrill of the hunt, determined to collect the unique blood that is crucial to Arcas’s great plan.

Raphael’s blood.

Amazon | Smashwords


Giveaway

M.D. is giving away a $10 Amazon gift card with this tour:

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Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d47220/?


Excerpt

Red Sun Meme

When next he knew anything, he was naked, shivering in the chilly night air, and covered in blood. He whimpered and sat up, tears clogging his throat and the taste of blood ripe in his mouth. His stomach rebelled and he vomited.

He’d killed them.

He’d killed them.

Not only was he possessed by a beast but now he was a murderer.

God help me!

Disoriented, Raphael looked around. He didn’t know where he was. It was too dark for him to recognize any structures, and he was too weak to investigate further. Dizzy, he lay down and curled into the fetal position, the blood drying on his skin. Not for the first time, he wondered if he should end it all. But then he would be damned to hell. He was Catholic and that just wasn’t something he would do. There must be another solution.

“Can I go home now?” he whispered, shivering.

The angry growl made him cry.

“I hate you.”

A mournful howl echoed in his mind and he prevented himself from releasing it into the darkness by clenching his jaw.

It was dawn when Raphael woke, surprised he’d managed to sleep. He sat up and cringed at the gore covering him. He didn’t consider it too closely and ignored his small pool of vomit. He needed to get clothes and clean up without being noticed. He realized he was in a narrow alleyway, and from the smell emanating from the dumpster, he guessed the buildings were restaurants.

A soft sound caught his attention, and he blinked at the large cat staring at him. His eyes widened. That was one big housecat. And so beautiful! This one was hefty, but slinky with big ears and equally big green eyes. As the sun rose steadily, he could see the cat had silver, black-spotted fur.

“Wow,” he whispered.

The cat sat staring at him for a long, poignant moment before stepping closer.

“Hey kitty,” Raphael said. He lowered his hand cautiously and held it out for the cat to inspect.

Upon seeing it, he winced, once again reminded what the beast had done. Blood was caked on his arm and under his fingernails. The cat paused and stretched his neck forward, sniffing at his fingers. Then he jerked back as if punched and hissed, showing small pointy teeth.

Raphael flinched and huddled tighter into himself. “I won’t hurt you.” Tears choked his words. “Non sono un mostro. I swear to God I’m not a monster.”

Overcome, Raphael sobbed, face pressed against his knees. Not even a cat trusted him! Why was he being punished? What had he done to earn God’s wrath? Why was he cursed?

It was a long moment before soft fur touched his arm, accompanied by a deep purr like a well-tuned engine. He lifted his head and realized the cat was rubbing his head against his arm. Raphael sniffed, reached over and scratched the cat’s head. The cat arched into the touch, still purring.

“You’re a good kitty,” he said with a wobbly smile. “You’re a pretty kitty.”

The cat regarded him with those hypnotic eyes, whiskers twitching. Such intelligence in his gaze.

“I’m not bad, you know?” he said. “I can’t be all bad if you don’t hate me.”

The cat set his front paws on Raphael’s thigh and lifted himself up until their faces were level. Then the cat leaned forward and surprised Raphael by licking the tip of his nose with his rough tongue. Raphael jerked with a watery laugh.

“Whoa, what was that for?”

The purring continued as the cat climbed into Raphael lap and settled there, his body heat a wonderful thing. Raphael resituated himself, taking care of his genitals, before wrapping his arms around the cat, taking comfort from his warmth and gentleness.

As the sun rose higher and the day grew warmer, Raphael was surprised to realize the beast didn’t mind the cat in the least. Not a snarl or growl came from the monster inside him. It seemed to hate humans but the cat had apparently earned its approval. Whatever the reason, Raphael was grateful. He didn’t want to hurt this cat. He didn’t want to harm anyone else.

“I won’t hurt you,” he whispered in Italian into the cat’s fur. “I promise I won’t hurt you.”

It wasn’t long before his protesting stomach could no longer be ignored. Raphael set the cat aside and approached the dumpster, aware of his nakedness. He lifted the lid and breathed through his mouth. The rising heat of the day did the garbage no favors. He’d be lucky if he didn’t get horribly ill from whatever was in there.

“Meow!”

The sharp sound caused Raphael to jump along with his heart. He swung his head around to stare at the cat as it gazed at him with apparent disapproval. And why did the feline’s eyes appear to be glowing? Must’ve been the sunlight.

“What? I have to eat something. I can’t catch birds and mice like you can. If you’re hungry, go do that.”

The cat flicked his tail, sitting with an air of royalty.

Raphael picked through the garbage, distressed to find nothing remotely worth the risk to eat. Sighing, he lowered the dumpster lid and rubbed his stomach.

“This is your fault, beast,” he whispered. “Are you trying to kill us?”

The beast snarled.

Raphael scowled.

The cat bumped against his leg, distracting him. Blood transferred to the cat’s pristine fur, and Raphael loathed to see it.

“Stop that.” He stepped away. “You’re getting my grossness on you.”

Determined, the cat trotted over to him and continued to rub himself against his legs.

“Il gatto pazzo. That’s what you are.”

Noise near the mouth of the alley had Raphael scrambling behind the dumpster. The cat followed him. He squeezed the cat in his arms, his heart racing. He didn’t want to hurt anyone else.

Behave yourself! he told the beast silently.

It growled.


Author Bio

M.D. Grimm decided to become an author in the second grade (kind of young to make life decisions, but whatever) and nothing has changed since then (well, plenty of things, actually, but not that!). Thankfully, she has indulgent parents who let her dream, but also made sure she understood she’d need a steady job to pay the bills (they never let her forget it!).

After graduating from the University of Oregon and majoring in English (let’s be honest: useless degree, what else was she going to do with it?), she started on her writing career and couldn’t be happier.

Working by day and writing by night (or any spare time she can carve out), she enjoys embarking on romantic quests and daring adventures (living vicariously, you could say) and creating characters that always triumph against the villain (or else what’s the point?), finding their soul mate in the process.

Author Website: https://www.mdgrimmwrites.com

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001710645622

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4574220.M_D_Grimm

Author Liminal Fiction (LimFic.com): https://www.limfic.com/mbm-book-author/m-d-grimm/

Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/m-d-grimm/

Author Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/M.D.-Grimm/e/B00I0KZMY6/

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And now, here is an amazing post from the author…

Good day lovely readers! Thank you for joining me. I am M.D. Grimm and I am here to promote my newest release, “Red Sun.” This is the latest entry in The Shifter Chronicles. I am overjoyed and relieved to finally release a new book in this series. It’s been a long time coming. 2021 was quite a successful and productive year for me. I succeeded in re-releasing all books previously published with a former publishing house after much tweaking and revising. Now I can work on all brand new projects! “Red Sun” is only the first and considering how much I love it, I have a good feeling about the rest. I also have to say that this is probably one of the sweetest stories I’ve written so far. So many scenes that give the warm fuzzies.

So how did I come up with the storyline for this book? Glad you asked. The seeds of it started decades ago when I was still a newb and unpublished. I had the outline for a werewolf series that never got off the ground, and it is unrecognizable to the finished story of today. In fact, I found that outline the other day and was amused at my ambitiousness so early in my writing career.

First, Raphael and Ahmes were very different. While Raphael was still an unusual wolf shifter, he was older and with a completely different past. Ahmes was the younger of the two and had a different name. He was a stray that Raphael saved from adolescent boys who thought it was entertaining to harass a poor cat. I honestly don’t remember where their story fell in the series or what the bigger plot was, but the dynamic between the two intrigued me and kept me interested. Despite that series fizzling before it started, the interest continued until I managed to work it into this series.

From what I can remember, the series was The Silver Moonlight Chronicles, and it revolved around the first five werewolves, who were cursed into monsters during the crusades (I think), and their romantic drama, as well as those of their descendants. It was the stepping stone I needed to create The Shifter Chronicles, so I will forever be grateful for it.

After I plucked the characters from one series to the other, I realized I needed to overhaul the narrative. After that it was a series of trial and error before I nailed down the story that was waiting to be told.

I think the only thing I have a twinge of dissatisfaction about is the title. While it fit with my first draft of the story, after finishing the final version, I realized the title didn’t gel as well for me. I had more Ancient Egyptian elements included in the first version, related to Ahmes and his heritage. And the idea of “red sun” was supposed to invoke the Eye of Ra and the sun and other Egyptian iconography. I certainly include bits and pieces in the published version as Ahmes tries to help Raphael cope with his nature. However, giving such things prominence didn’t work anymore after the story evolved. Red sun could also be seen as the opposite of moon, an element or icon often associated with wolf shifters/werewolves. And since Raphael is different from other wolf shifters… Though the title could also be a play on words (sun vs. son) and “red” is the color of blood, which is what Gregor is after. So the title still works but not the way I first envisioned. 

And try as I might, I couldn’t create a title that worked better. By then, my “working title” had become the only title. Sometimes it just works like that. I couldn’t put Moon in the title since that would link it too close to “Psychic Moon” and “Shifting Moon,” and the story has nothing to do with Derek and Brian. Sometimes you just have to work with what you have and allow the story to just be how it will be. It’s a small little nitpick that I’m sure no one will ultimately care about. As long as the story is good, who cares about the title?

That’s what I tell myself anyway….

The Shifter Chronicles 1-14 (plus short story sequels) are available for purchase at Amazon (also in print!) and Smashwords. I have a newsletter that I send out monthly with all the goodies you can expect in the future. That’s the best way to find out about my current and future projects. Also, you can check out the first three chapters of “Red Sun” on my blog if you’re curious and unsure if you want to commit!

For fans of The Stones of Power series, book 8, “Sapphire: Home and Abroad” is due out in June 2022. Keep your eyes peeled for that! I’m also working diligently on the third book in Saga of the Bold People, “Resistance.”

I am booked (pun intended) solid this year, working on the next shifter book, the next stones book, a couple single titles, and the next On Wings Saga book. Wish me luck!

More information on my catalog can be found at my website.

I hope you stay safe and healthy, and may dragons guard your dreams,

M.D. Grimm

Lluck (Qwyrk Tales #2) by Tim Rayborn Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Qwyrk and Jilly are back again, this time hoping to help a young boy named Lluck with the ability to bend events to his will, who is being hunted by several people and beings in author Tim Rayborn’s “Lluck”, the second book in the Qwyrk Tales series. 

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The Synopsis

All Qwyrk wanted was a few winter days of rest and relaxation in the small town of Knettles in Yorkshire, but of course, it all goes wrong immediately. She’d like to spend time with her young human friend, Jilly, but Jilly and her not-so-imaginary friend Blip have met a remarkable boy named Lluck, who seems to be able to bend events to his favor.

Lluck is on the run from two big goblins with unnatural powers. On top of that, Qwyrk meets a mysterious and enchanting woman who’s also looking for the boy. And hiding in the darkness, something else wants Lluck for itself, but why?

Lluck is the second in a series of four novels about the comic misadventures of a group of misfits at the edge of normal reality in modern northern England, a world of shadows, Nighttime Nasties, witchy magic, remarkable Indian Fae, would-be superheroes, a lazy Komodo dragon, and even more elves…

though they continue to be a bit silly.

The Review

I have absolutely swept into this amazing world once again and I couldn’t have been more thrilled. What always strikes me about this series and the author is the perfect balance of fantasy-genre storytelling with dangerous adventures and humorous and witty character relationships that readers can’t get enough of. The rich mythology seems to just seep into the narrative so naturally that readers feel like they know this world for which the author has brought us all, even if this is the first novel that readers have picked up from the series.

The character’s balance and interactions with one another were not only the heart of this novel but the perfect way to bring life to the LGBTQ themes and character backgrounds in this narrative. The development of Qwyrk’s newfound relationship with someone close to newcomer Lluck was so brilliantly played out, and the exploration of Jilly’s backstory and family life more in this narrative not only added to the witty back and forth conversations she has with Blip, but the evolution of her character and her role in this growing magical world overall. 

The Verdict

A memorable, entertaining, and heartfelt narrative that is as captivating as it is magical, author Tim Rayborn’s “Lluck” is a must-read LGBTQ-driven fantasy and paranormal novel. The immediate story is so engaging to the reader, and yet the hints and illuminating moments that hint at the growing behind the scenes conspiracy first looked at in the first book in the series is the perfect payoff for fans of this growing series and leaves readers eager for book 3 to be released by this amazingly talented author. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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Lluck - Tim Rayborn

Tim Rayborn has a new queer urban fantasy out, sequel to Qwyrk: Lluck. And there’s a giveaway!

All Qwyrk wanted was a few winter days of rest of and relaxation in the small town of Knettles in Yorkshire, but of course, it all goes wrong immediately. She wants to spend time and with her young human friend, Jilly, but Jilly and her not-so-imaginary friend blip have just met a remarkable boy named Lluck, who seems to be able to bend events to his favor.

Lluck is on the run from some awful and obnoxious goblins. On top of that, Qwyrk meets a mysterious and beguiling woman, who’s also looking for the boy. And in the dark, something wants Lluck for itself, but why?

Publisher | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CAN | Barnes & Noble


Giveaway

Tim is giving away an Amazon gift card with this tour:

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Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d47218/?


Excerpt

Lluck Meme

“I’ll be dead in a few seconds… or worse.”

Still, he kept running, plowing through snowy lanes, stumbling more than once on wet cobblestones blanketed in a thin sheet of slippery ice and powder. His breathing was furious, his heart pounded, and he knew he was running out of time. He sprinted back out to a main street and worked his way through thronging crowds of holiday shoppers, trying to hide in their numbers.

“Blend in, shake them off!” But he knew his pursuers weren’t interested in these people; they were only after him. He ducked into another alleyway, sped for the exit on the other side, and almost crashed into a padlocked gate.

“No!” He slammed the bars with his fists.

They were near; he could smell them, like bad fast food and garbage, with a hint of cheap cologne. But he tried pulling on the lock, and sure enough, it came loose. He laughed and opened the gate. Dashing through, he shut it behind him and relocked it.

“Have fun with that, you knobs!”

He turned around and there they were: grotesque, lumpy goblin creatures with mottled grey skin, bulbous noses, and large, pointy ears. They were mostly bald, except for some wiry black curls under said ears. Their snarling grins revealed bared, off-white crooked teeth. Beady yellow eyes completed the horrific ensemble.

“Well, well, what ‘ave we got ‘ere?” the larger one grumbled.

“Looks like a lost waif in need of some assistance to get to where he’s goin’,” the other replied.

“I’m not going with you, you tossers!” he shouted, defiant. He raised his fists in front of him. They just laughed.

“You gonna take us on in a fist fight, little boy?” the big one mocked. “That oughta be entertaining. Maybe I’ll even let you get in a blow or two in before I mash your pretty face into the pavement!”

“Oh, I won’t fight you, you miserable troll! I’m just getting ready.”

“Ready for what, lambkin?” the smaller one sneered.

“For this!” He threw his open hands forward in one jerking motion, and at once, both fell on their behinds, slid on the ice, and smacked their heads on the stones. They groaned, but didn’t get back up. He stepped over them (well, on them really, just to make a point; he might have even dug his boot heels in a bit) and made his way back to the crowds.

Once on the main street, he looked around and saw the town hall in the distance, with its multitudes packed in to celebrate the holiday festivities.

“All those people milling about; you can lose them there. Then get the hell out of here and head south.”

He paused, took a deep breath, and ran again.

* * *

“I do love a good festive celebration!” Blip announced. Resembling a bipedal frog sporting a handlebar moustache and a proper Victorian-style mutton chop beard, he strolled along the pavement in his Regency riding boots, while swinging an ornate walking stick, every so often accidentally hitting a passerby and eliciting an astonished yelp. A red, woolen scarf wrapped snugly around his short, froggy neck completed the ensemble.

“I love it too! It’s so much grander than the one in Knettles,” Jilly Pleeth said in a hushed voice. She looked down at him, quite grateful that a magical two-foot creature who liked to expound on nineteenth-century philosophy couldn’t be seen or heard by anyone over the age of thirteen, give or take a bit. Of course, there were plenty of children about, a few of whom gasped and stared; but most ignored him, being far more fascinated by the lights of the Leeds Christmas market, the aromas of cinnamon, nutmeg, and chocolate, the sounds of carols and stall hawkers, and the general merriment of the season. It was all rather like one of those displays in a department store window, but larger, louder, and less garish.

“We’ll have to keep an eye on the time, though,” she continued. “I need to meet mum and dad back at the train station in about an hour. They’ll be done with their stupid real estate meeting and keen to get back home before it gets too dark.”

“Come, come, my dear, no need to be so reserved, at least not in this instance! It’s the holidays, and the day of your birth is also upon us—twelve years!—so just this once, it is entirely satisfactory that we kick up our proverbial heels and live a bit. The holiday market is splendidly arrayed in front of us, a fine old tradition that I am glad to see being kept alive. So, throw caution to the wind, and embrace the revelry!”

“Oh, it’s not that,” she whispered. “It’s just, since most people can’t see you, I look like I’m talking to myself, like I’m a bit mad.”

“Hm, well yes, I do suppose that could cause some to think that you are a suitable candidate for admission to Bedlam, but again, this is the time for inversions of the social order in a controlled way, don’t you know? The Feast of Fools! The Boy Bishop! Saturnalian silliness! So I say, let them think that you are singularly odd and be done with it! And other children can see me, so what does it matter?”

“Yeah, but they probably just think you’re one of Father Christmas’s elves, anyway,” she said with an impish grin.

“Do not mention that reprobate in my company!” Blip admonished. “You know very well that the Father Christmas affair is a bone of contention with me!”

“Are you ever going to tell me what happened between you two?” she asked.

“A gentleman does not duel and tell, I’m afraid.”

“You fought a duel with Father Christmas?”


Author Bio

Tim Rayborn

Tim Rayborn is a writer and internationally acclaimed musician. He plays dozens of unusual instruments that many people of have never heard of and often can’t pronounce, including medieval instrument reconstructions and folk instruments from Northern Europe, the Balkans, and the Middle East. He has appeared on over forty recordings, and his wanderings and tours have taken him across the US, all over Europe, to Canada and Australia, and to such romantic locations as Marrakech, Istanbul, Renaissance chateaux, medieval churches, and high school gymnasiums.

On the writing side of things, Tim lived in England for nearly seven years and has a PhD from the University of Leeds. He has written books and magazine articles about music, the arts, history, and business. He currently lives amid many books, antique music reproduction devices (that is, CDs), and instruments, and with a demanding cat. He’s also rather enthusiastic about good wines, single-malt Scotch, and cooking excellent food.

Author Website: https://www.timrayborn.com

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/TimRaybornMusicandWriting

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/Tim_Rayborn

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rayborn.esoterica

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3160656.Tim_Rayborn

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Tim-Rayborn/e/B00DWY5J8E/

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Wind Wielder: Elements of Nordica: Book 1 by TC Marti Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young elemental must help band together with the last descendants of an ancient tribe to stop a global world government from taking complete control in author TC Marti’s “Wind Wielder: Elements of Nordica”, the first book in the Elements of Nordica series.

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The Synopsis

Avatar: The Last Airbender and 21st Century Military Combat Collide

A secret censored throughout the modern age…

…A cataclysmic riot leaves the fate of the world hanging by a thread

There are a lot of things Wind Wielder Sion Zona wished he had taken seriously. But the following facts he neglected display his sheer ignorance.

One, an ancient tribe within his Elemental race wiped from the pages of time still exists.

Two, Sion and a band of eight other Elementals are the final descendants from that ancient tribe and hold the key to preventing the masses from falling victim to a one-world government foretold in a banned set of ancient texts.

Three, the global superpower wants nothing more than to destroy Sion and the others before they discover their importance to humanity.

So yeah, there’s no pressure in taking on a raging dictatorship.

Wind Wielder is Book I in Elementals of Nordica, an exciting speculative fantasy series featuring old-world epic fantasy tropes bent into modern-day society. If you are a fan of elemental magic, complex plots, and sword and sorcery with a sci-fi twist, Wind Wielder is a MUST READ.

The Review

This was such a unique and engaging fantasy read. The way the author implemented modern-day tech and social structures into a world of magical (or superpowered, depending on how you look at it), people outlawed by this tyrannical government as mutants were just pure fantasy at its finest. The balance the author found between action-driven narrative and intricate character developments was absolutely perfect, as the world became much more vibrant and yet the reader was able to hone into the characters and their evolution over the course of the narrative.

What was so amazing to see the author develop was a larger-than-life mythos and truly engaging world-building. The foundation of any great fantasy, the story managed to develop the revelations and hidden truths of the world’s lost tribe and the intricate corruption that this government power held onto while allowing the world in which the narrative developed to feel well-established and well lived in, making this a gripping story to engulf.

The Verdict

A masterful, mind-bending, and entertaining read, author TC Marti’s “Wind Wielder: Elementals of Nordica” is the perfect first book in this brand new fantasy series, and will mark the perfect way to begin 2022 for fantasy fans. The world-building and mythology the author develops feel fresh and rich with history and culture, while the modern-twist on this original world feels like a natural progression of the modern fantasy book experience. With a cliffhanger ending that will leave readers eager for the next installment in this series, readers will not want to miss out on this incredible story. If you haven’t yet, be sure to preorder or grab your copy of the book on January 3rd, 2022!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

TC Marti has been an avid reader/writer for over three decades. He is the author of the Elementals Universe, a shared speculative fiction universe spanning multiple series. He is also a workout fanatic, and a fan of Arizona sports teams.

Interview with Author Will Rice

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

My professional life has always been focussed on numbers – I studied mathematics and followed this with a career as an actuary. I am still very happy living in the world of numbers, but I find writing is the perfect escape into something completely different – the world of words! I’ve always written stories since I was young, and haven’t stopped.  

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2) What inspired you to write your book?

I read a lot of fantasy fiction, a genre I really enjoy for its imagination, escapism and creativity. I also enjoy fast-paced page-turners with frequent twists and turns, such as thrillers or murder mysteries, that I can’t stop reading because I need to know what happens on the next page. My inspiration was to combine these two things I love into one – a fantasy page-turner.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I think that fantasy can give us a new perspective on our everyday lives, by highlighting or exaggerating some aspect of what it is to be human. I was interested in the idea of shapeshifting and invisibility, and what that means for our identity – if I could change my appearance, or disappear completely, whenever I wanted, then what would it really mean to be “me”? As I wrote the book these themes of identity emerged from the story, and I hope the reader will find these as interesting as I did.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

There is something unique about fantasy fiction. It asks what the world could be like if something, or everything, was different, and then lets us live in that new world. The Sorcerer Within is a fantasy novel set in our world and so blends the everyday with the fantastic, which is a sub-genre of fantasy that I’ve always been intrigued by. 

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

There is a character in my book who I won’t name as they turn out to be the killer behind the murder at the start of the book. This person has a skewed view on reality, to say the least. I wouldn’t like to spend time with them, but at the same time I would be morbidly fascinated to hear what they thought about what they had done – do they realise how utterly inhuman they are?

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6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Facebook – great for reaching a wide range of people.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Don’t give up – I found the most difficult part of writing a book was to keep going, even when it seemed “the end” was so far away.

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I have a project on the go to write a traditional-style fantasy novel aimed at older children – I love the idea of writing an escapist fantasy tale that my own children will enjoy reading.

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About the Author

I’ve always loved escaping into books. When I get inside a character’s head and look through their eyes and think their thoughts, I forget everything else. Getting inside the head of a character I created is the biggest escape of all. 

I often put down a book and find an idea wandering in my head for a book that I want to write myself. The idea I couldn’t resist combining two things I’ve always loved – a fantasy novel, and a page-turning mystery.

Turning an idea into a book was a lot of work but also a lot of escaping, and I enjoyed writing every word. There’s something addictive about reading your own thoughts back after you’ve forgotten exactly what you wrote. It’s like re-discovering a memory. The words kept coming and the story kept living and here we are. The Sorcerer Within is finished. 

My ambition now is for as many people to read it as possible. I’d love for you to be one of those people, and if you do, thank you. Let me know what you think

http://willriceauthor.com/

The Last Families by Carla Doria Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

The remnants of four powerful families who hold onto powerful abilities find themselves in a fight for survival and must contend with a dangerous new home, all while dealing with the same family fighting and odds they have held onto for so long in author Carla Doria’s “The Last Families”. 

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The Synopsis

Escaping their land’s destruction, the Kaptarish, Drontas, Verbaren and Ninfires have reached the island of Gambir. The last families with talents like mind-reading, extraordinary force, burning with their hands, and flying, hope to find refuge in this place.

Yarisha, the only mind-reader in the Verbaren family, will fall in love with Malakay, the most arrogant sibling in the Ninfire family. She knows the young man’s mother and the matriarch of the Ninfires, Mandely, will never consent to this relationship since she considers the Verbaren family inferior to them.

None of the members in the families expect to find a land full of secrets where those with the darkest looking-skin have better chances to survive and where the leader, Ian, is planning to take wives by force.

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The Review

This was a truly marvelous and engaging read. Immediately readers are hit with the urgency and anxiety that these characters are feeling, having lost their families and homes and seeking a safe haven after enduring so much loss. The balance the author found between the magic, power, and world-building that the fantasy genre brings with the desperation and fear that comes with a dystopian setting really elevated this narrative tenfold. 

Yet it was truly the world and character building and mythos the author crafted that allowed this story to shine. The author created such diverse and intricately detailed family dynamics both within each family and amongst the relationships between different families as well. The multiple POVs that this narrative had really did a great job of highlighting the differences amongst each family’s powers and perceptions of the world, and yet the same emotions and fears that resided within them all in this fight for survival they all shared.

The Verdict

An entertaining, thoughtful, and hauntingly thrilling dystopian fantasy read, author Carla Doria’s “The Last Families” is a must-read fantasy novel of 2021. The examination of what could happen if we tore our world apart so much that it was destroyed completely, and how inherent judgments and opinions can survive that destruction was so interesting to see, as was the need for survival that stripped those notions from some of these main characters enough to realize that those differences didn’t matter quite as much, making this a truly thought-provoking and emotionally investing read. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Carla Doria was born in Cochabamba, Bolivia. where she currently resides. Graduated as an Industrial Engineer, she decided to acknowledge her lost love from childhood: writing. She spends her time working, blogging, writing, traveling, doing yoga, biking, running, and enjoying the good life in the city valley of Cochabamba.

The Last Families is her first fantasy novel.

Book’s website: https://thelastfamilies.com/

Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09LJV5J7B

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/59067117-the-last-families 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cdoriam 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/carlisdm

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thelastfamilies/

Tumblr: https://thelastfamilies.tumblr.com/

Aspatria by John C. Adams Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

An invading army and the loss of all her male relatives forces young Dextra to become the Queen of Aspatria, and as she struggles to find her footing as the realm’s ruler, she must contend with an invading army and multiple suitors seeking her hand in marriage to secure the kingdom, all while struggling with her own romantic feelings in author John C. Adams novel, “Aspatria”. 

The Synopsis

Aspatria

After all her male relatives are killed in battle when the Eiran army invades Aspatria, AETHELINGA DEXTRA (18) is forced to take the throne of her country. The ruling council, the witan, choose her in preference to her surviving bastard half-brother CENWULF DARKWATER (18).

In the early days, with her reign still uncertain, Dextra accepts the need to marry a powerful prince to lead Aspatria’s fyrd into battle and to secure foreign alliances to support Aspatria. GORTAH VAN MURKAR (48) brings his youngest son, PRINCE EUGENE (18) to her capital to arrange a match. They are not the only members of royal houses heading to Brewchester hoping to win the hand of the Dextra of Aspatria.

Dextra refuses marriages offer from KHAN NICHOLAI (20), ruler of the Albins, and CROWN PRINCE JOHANN VON RELIATRA (15). She is not compatible with Gortah’s son Eugene and tells the Murkan king so at once. However, Dextra is very taken with Gortah’s adopted nephew LORD LUDWIG BERG (19).

The situation is soon complicated when Dextra insists upon staying true to her country’s heritage by taking two husbands. As he guides her through the early days of her reign, her admiration and regard for Gortah grow but he is incapable of overcoming his objections to her marrying twice.

Under Gortah’s tutelage, and despite her grief at the sudden loss of her father, uncle, brothers and cousins in war, Dextra’s confidence as a ruler grows. The young queen learns to bring the witan round to her point of view and rely on their advice as she establishes herself as a fair and strong ruler of Aspatria. The council stands behind her and she soon blossoms into the role of queen.

Dextra marries Ludwig on the night before battle. Gortah leads the fyrd into war with the Albins to expel them from Aspatria. The fyrd beat their foe back but Gortah finds himself laid low by witchcraft. The fyrd return to the capital and speculation intensifies that Gortah will marry Dextra and become her second husband. As Gortah recovers from his illness, Dextra’s position is made harder by his behaviour towards her. The spells cast over him make him overtly sexual and she is accused of already having been intimate with her august suitor and being pregnant with his illegitimate child. Dextra’s stepmother Queen Maureen is the prime suspect as the search for Gortah’s attacker intensifies.

Eugene heads to South Eira to lead the Murkan army in defending the border garrison of Dunath. Meanwhile, the Murkan fort at Belshan in South Eira is attacked by an army of ghost ships sent by the King of Eira’s mother.

Reliatra move their army through the mountain pass at Nordweig and enter South-East Aspatria to attack the burh at Westkennet. As the queen’s husband, it is Ludwig’s job to lead the fyrd in battle but he is captured. Back in Brewchester, Gortah overcomes his reservations about being the second of two husbands and proposes to Dextra.

Gortah sneaks into the Reliatran camp to rescue Ludwig and takes PRINCESS NOTBURG VON RELIATRA (18) prisoner. The feisty warrior is held as security until her father OTTMAR VON RELIATRA (40) can raise two million marks as compensation for his wrongful invasion of Aspatria.

Even though they are now engaged, Gortah is still struggling to overcome his reservations about being Dextra’s second husband. She remains concerned about how Gortah will respond if Ludwig fathers a son with her before he does. Will the powerful monarchs be able to settle their differences and find happiness together? Or will war between Murkar and Aspatria become inevitable? 

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The Review

What an intricately plotted and massively built-out fantasy world! This was an exceptional fantasy read, blending the political intrigue and rivalries of Game of Thrones with the brutality and action of Vikings. The author did a great job of finding a balance between integrating well-known medieval-style fantasy world-building and crafting original settings and characters that make the world of Aspatria feel alive. 

The vast cast of characters was a sight to behold. The evolution of main characters like Gortah and Dextra was so well-rounded and engaging as a reader to delve into, while the blend of magic and realism in this fantasy realm heightened the drama between the characters, as well as the heart-pounding action and suspense as each character’s massive arc played out. 

The Verdict

A memorable, mind-bending, and emotionally-driven fantasy romance novel, author John C. Adams’s novel “Aspatria” is a must-read epic fantasy. The readers will be instantly drawn in by the gritty and brutal war that opens up the novel, and be drawn in as the romance and emotions between Dextra and the men hoping to win her heart play out on the pages, creating engaging and entertaining drama that is impossible to put down. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

I’m a non-binary proofreader, editor, reviewer and author.

You can find out more about my proofreading and editing services here:

https://www.johncadamsreviews.com/about

I review for the British Fantasy Society as well as placing reviews and articles across a wide range of blogs and magazines.

I have a Postgraduate Certificate in Creative Writing from Newcastle University.

You can subscribe to my blog here: https://www.johncadamsreviews.com/

My horror novel, ‘Souls for the Master’, my fantasy romance novel ‘Aspatria’ and my fantasy and horror anthology ‘The Red Dawn and Other Stories’ are all free on Smashwords retailers. ‘Dagmar of the Northlands’, the sequel to ‘Aspatria’, and ‘Blackacre Rising’, the sequel to ‘Souls for the Master’ are also available from Smashwords retailers.

Although I write mostly long fiction, since 2015 I have had stories published in anthologies from Horrified Press, Lycan Valley Press, Fantasia Divinity and Jersey Pines Ink. My short stories have also been published in the Horror Zine, Swords & Sorcery, Sirens Call, Blood Moon Rising, Lovecraftiana and various other magazines.

Every emerging writer needs plenty of encouragement right at the start, and entering lots of competitions early on made a real difference to my confidence to press on with writing longer fiction and think about submitting short fiction to magazines and anthologies in due course. In 2012, I was longlisted for the International Aeon Award Short Fiction Contest for ‘The Visitors’ and again in 2013 for ‘We Can Finish Your Baby’s Brain For You’. My writing was also recognised by the Enrico Charles Literary Award (runner up in 2012) and by the University of Winchester Writers’ Conference in both 2012 and 2013, including a Commendation in the First Three Pages of a Novel category, and other nominations in poetry and short fiction.

I read PPE at Somerville College, and I am a non-practising solicitor. I live in rural Northumberland, UK, and I combine my career as an reviewer and critic with raising my kids and caring for a severely disabled relative. I’m always busy!

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/687737

The Sorcerer Within by Will Rice Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young man who works with sorcerers finds himself feeling some sort of connection to the group amidst a murder of a sorcerer, and must give up everything to stop a killer in author Will Rice’s “The Sorcerer Within”.

The Synopsis

How do you solve a murder when the victim and suspects are sorcerers?

Elliot can’t escape the feeling he has a connection to his colleagues at Arthan Associates. Even though they all have supernatural powers while he is just another faceless nobody.

When one of the sorcerers is murdered, the others are all under suspicion. No one seems a likely culprit, but their kind is naturally secretive. Who is not what they seem?

As the investigation continues, Elliot’s sense of unease grows. What is that familiar feeling? Why does he feel the darkness in his dreams and an echo of violence within? When he discovers the truth, he will have to give up everything.

If he is to stop another murder, Elliot needs to find out who he is. 

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The Review

This was a breath of fresh air in the fantasy-thriller genre! The author has crafted a wholly original and unique story set against the backdrop of our modern world, a corporation run by sorcerers, and magical mythology that takes on a whole new twist. The shift in perspective and time that the reader experiences as the author go back and forth between the present-day murders and the buildup of these characters and their relationships months earlier was incredible to read, and gave the tension and pacing as each mystery was revealed slowly but surely even more of an impact. 

The characters themselves were the driving force of this narrative. The mistrust and individual quirks each character has with one another as the story builds up was thoroughly entertaining, as was the mystery surrounding protagonist Elliot and his mysterious connection to the other characters and magic as a whole. The unraveling of his story alone and the facets of his own power was so haunting and awe-inspiring, inspiring me creatively in the process as well.

The Verdict

A remarkable, shocking, and nail-biting fantasy thriller like no other, author Will Rice’s “The Sorcerer Within” is a must-read novel of 2021, and the perfect winter read for fans of the fantasy genre. Heart-pounding action and suspense blend naturally into this world of magic and control these characters try to hold onto so hard, and the fate of several characters will have readers desperate to have more of this author’s amazing work. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

I’ve always loved escaping into books. When I get inside a character’s head and look through their eyes and think their thoughts, I forget everything else. Getting inside the head of a character I created is the biggest escape of all. 

I often put down a book and find an idea wandering in my head for a book that I want to write myself. The idea I couldn’t resist combining two things I’ve always loved – a fantasy novel, and a page-turning mystery.

Turning an idea into a book was a lot of work but also a lot of escaping, and I enjoyed writing every word. There’s something addictive about reading your own thoughts back after you’ve forgotten exactly what you wrote. It’s like re-discovering a memory. The words kept coming and the story kept living and here we are. The Sorcerer Within is finished. 

My ambition now is for as many people to read it as possible. I’d love for you to be one of those people, and if you do, thank you. Let me know what you think

http://willriceauthor.com/

The Veiled Throne (The Dandelion Dynasty 3) by Ken Liu Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

TRIGGER WARNING: MENTIONS AND SCENES INVOLVING CHILD DEATH, TORTURE, AND SEXUAL ASSAULT. READER DISCRETION ADVISED.

As one sibling moves to bring the war to an invading empire, another must contend with rivalries and power surges as they lead the Dara Empire and the forgotten people that the Emperor serves to decide to find new solutions for the arrival of a new age as the commoners find new innovations in author Ken Liu’s “The Veiled Throne”, the third book in the DANDELION DYNASTY series.

The Synopsis

With the invasion of Dara complete, and the Wall of Storms breached, the world has opened to new possibilities for the gods and peoples of both empires as the sweeping saga of the award-winning Dandelion Dynasty continues in this third book of the “magnificent fantasy epic” (NPR).

Princess Théra, once known as Empress Üna of Dara, entrusted the throne to her younger brother in order to journey to Ukyu-Gondé to war with the Lyucu. She has crossed the fabled Wall of Storms with a fleet of advanced warships and ten thousand people. Beset by adversity, Théra and her most trusted companions attempt to overcome every challenge by doing the most interesting thing. But is not letting the past dictate the present always possible or even desirable?

In Dara, the Lyucu leadership as well as the surviving Dandelion Court bristle with rivalries as currents of power surge and ebb and perspectives spin and shift. Here, parents and children, teachers and students, Empress and Pékyu, all nurture the seeds of plans that will take years to bloom. Will tradition yield to new justifications for power?

Everywhere, the spirit of innovation dances like dandelion seeds on the wind, and the commoners, the forgotten, the ignored begin to engineer new solutions for a new age.

Ken Liu returns to the series that draws from a tradition of the great epics of our history from the Aeneid to the Romance on the Three Kingdoms and builds a new tale unsurpassed in its scope and ambition.

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The Review

Now as a relative newcomer to this author’s fantasy series, I can only share with you guys my thoughts on this individual narrative as I am unfamiliar with the series as a whole. However, I must say the author has crafted a truly remarkable and vibrant world. The history, culture, and mythos the author has developed in this book feels rich and engaging, and while I would definitely recommend reading the first two books in the series to fully understand the politics and history of this kingdom, the in-depth and descriptive nature of the narrative really invites newcomers and fans of this series alike into the story and this massive world.

The author found the perfect balance of world-building and character development in this story. The gritty realism of the style of fantasy narrative was felt immensely in the narrative, and the only real criticism I have is the tournament scenes towards the end of the narrative feels a bit disconnected from the rest of the narrative and feels like it could be its own separate novella or short story set within the same universe instead. Otherwise, this was a truly engaging and memorable read.

The Verdict

An astounding, memorable, and breathtaking fantasy read, author Ken Liu’s “The Veiled Throne” is a must-read novel this winter. Due for release this December, this novel will be beloved by fans of the series while newcomers will be enthralled by the larger than life world the author has crafted, and the balance the author found between the action sequences and the more psychological and political battles fought back in the kingdom of Dara. If you haven’t yet, be sure to preorder or grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Ken Liu (http://kenliu.name) is an American author of speculative fiction. He has won the Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy awards, as well as top genre honors in Japan, Spain, and France, among other places.

Ken’s debut novel, The Grace of Kings, is the first volume in a silkpunk epic fantasy series, The Dandelion Dynasty, in which engineers play the role of wizards. His debut collection, The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories, has been published in more than a dozen languages. He also wrote the Star Wars novel, The Legends of Luke Skywalker.

He has been involved in multiple media adaptations of his work. The most recent projects include “The Message,” under development by 21 Laps and FilmNation Entertainment; “Good Hunting,” adapted as an episode of Netflix’s breakout adult animated series Love, Death + Robots; and AMC’s Pantheon, which Craig Silverstein will executive produce, adapted from an interconnected series of short stories by Ken.

Prior to becoming a full-time writer, Ken worked as a software engineer, corporate lawyer, and litigation consultant. Ken frequently speaks at conferences and universities on a variety of topics, including futurism, cryptocurrency, history of technology, bookmaking, the mathematics of origami, and other subjects of his expertise.

Ken is also the translator for Liu Cixin’s The Three-Body Problem, Hao Jingfang’s Vagabonds, Chen Qiufan’s Waste Tide, as well as the editor of Invisible Planets and Broken Stars, anthologies of contemporary Chinese science fiction.

He lives with his family near Boston, Massachusetts.

Erift’s Journeys: Secrets of The Sealed Forest by J.T. Tenera Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young man and his best friend find themselves tasked with stopping another young man from unleashing an ancient power on the earth while discovering that magic and fantasy worlds are very real in author J.T. Tenera’s “Efrit’s Journeys: Secrets of the Sealed Forest”. 

The Synopsis

What would you do if you were given the chance to embark on a real life adventure? Would you take the plunge, or let it pass on to the next person?

After being lured halfway across the globe with the promise of an exclusive video game event, Joseph Erift is pushed on a journey by a coffee-addicted professor that will forever change his life. He never thought magic could be real. That it was just an element found in fantasy stories and games. Airships and magic spells that create fire and slow time don’t exist in our real world.

However, if that were the case, then why is he seeing these things, and why are him and his best friend being sent on a quest to stop a misguided young man from awakening an ancient power?

Erift’s Journeys is a contemporary fantasy for ages 12+ with very mild language and fantasy violence. It features action and adventure, magic, and coming of age themes and is heavily inspired by RPG video games and anime. It follows a young protagonist overcoming incredible odds while meeting new friends during an unexpected trip that leads to a long road of self-discovery. 

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The Review

This was the perfect way to capture the heart and passion of Fantasy-driven projects, including animated series and video games. The author perfectly captured the voice and atmosphere of the YA Fantasy genre, while redefining the genre by bringing fantasy elements into a modern-day setting. The action and mythos the author builds here feel fresh and put a fresh twist on long-standing fantasy tropes. 

The character growth and development of the protagonist and his allies were fun and exhilarating to read. Not only is Joseph a great protagonist to help readers feel represented and connected to the growing fantasy world the author draws readers into, but his friendship with Eric is engaging, as is his rivalry with newcomer Ryan. The character’s ability to connect with their hero’s journey through video games will really connect modern YA readers with this genre, while the iconic theme of the hero’s journey feels well represented in this narrative.

The Verdict

A brilliant, entertaining, and grand journey of self-discovery, adventure, and heroism, author J.T. Tenera’s “Efrit’s Journeys: Secrets of the Sealed Forest” is a must-read novel of 2021! A story that balances humor, iconic fantasy mythos, and modern-day character growth, the twists and turns this narrative takes will not only be engaging for readers but will leave them wanting more from this very cinematic writing from the author. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

J.T. Tenera will fully admit that he never wanted to become an author when he was a child. Born March 10th, 1987, his dreams consisted of one thing; making video games when he grew up. However, a project in the 8th grade changed his mind. His class was tasked with writing and illustrating their own children’s book. After receiving 110% on the project, and being told by his teacher that he was talented in story telling, he started down a more creative path. Especially since he later learned that making video games was a lot more complicated than he thought as a child.

Tenera originally published Erift’s Journeys when he was a senior in high school. It was a proud moment seeing the story he dreamed about finished as a real book. However, it was all just for fun. He wouldn’t realize his desire to take his writing to a professional level until 2019. Mostly self-taught, Tenera now works to bring his world to life for readers of all ages, all while doing his best to find time to game in between.