Author Anthony Avina's Blog

Good books don't give up all their secrets at once. – Stephen King

I received a free copy of this book for a fair and unbiased review. All opinions are my own. If a hybrid of Harry Potter and Pride and Prejudice were to have it’s own shown on the History Channel, then you’d get author George Bachman’s Spellcaster. A breathtaking blend of fantasy and historical fiction (with …

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December 3, 2016

The Paper Magician (The Paper Magician Series, Book 1) by Charlie N. Holmberg Book Review

A young woman finds herself on a harrowing journey into the dark corners of the heart in author Charlie N. Holmberg’s “The Paper Magician”, the first
in the Paper Magician series. Filled with an all new realm of magic set in an old world setting, this is a phenomenal piece of fiction that
fantasy fans everywhere will love. Here is the synopsis:

Ceony Twill arrives at the cottage of Magician Emery Thane with a broken heart. Having graduated at the top of her class from the Tagis Praff
School for the Magically Inclined, Ceony is assigned an apprenticeship in paper magic despite her dreams of bespelling metal. And once she’s
bonded to paper, that will be her only magic…forever.

Yet the spells Ceony learns under the strange yet kind Thane turn out to be more marvelous than she could have ever imagined—animating paper
creatures, bringing stories to life via ghostly images, even reading fortunes. But as she discovers these wonders, Ceony also learns of the
extraordinary dangers of forbidden magic.

An Excisioner—a practitioner of dark, flesh magic—invades the cottage and rips Thane’s heart from his chest. To save her teacher’s life, Ceony
must face the evil magician and embark on an unbelievable adventure that will take her into the chambers of Thane’s still-beating heart—and
reveal the very soul of the man.

From the imaginative mind of debut author Charlie N. Holmberg, The Paper Magician is an extraordinary adventure both dark and whimsical that
will delight readers of all ages.

This was such a fun read. I loved the time period that this book took place in, exploring the turn of the 20th century. I also appreciated the
well rounded character development of protagonist Ceony Twill. While a lot of books would have focused on the young teen complaining about her
place in the world of magic for several chapters, this book showed a young woman who dealt with the change in her life with her head seemingly
held high, even when doubt and frustration wore her down, and who showed great bravery throughout her adventure.

The villainous Excisioners are a fantastically brutal group of magicians that make this story even more enchanting to read. Readers will be shocked
and in awe of the plot twists and turns that come from Ceony’s adventure throughout her mentor’s heart as she explores who Thane really is and
what made him into a master paper magician. The character development was a big highlight of this story, and made for one of the best entries
into a new fantasy series this reviewer has read in a long time. I highly recommend this book for any fantasy book fans out there, and I look forward
to reading more of the Paper Magician series. Author Charlie N. Holmberg is a master storyteller and I cannot wait to read more. Pick up your
copies of The Paper Magician today!

Rating: 9/10

November 13, 2016

Red Death by Jeff Altabef Book Review

Fantasy and Dystopian genres blend together beautifully in author Jeff Altabef’s novel, Red Death. Exploring the impact of religion on various
groups of people and the dangers of how it dictates their lives, Red Death delves into the lives of several young people throughout this
deadly world, with various tribes and Kingdoms conflicting with one another and the mysteries of this world waiting to be unlocked by one
courageous hero. Here is the synopsis:

Every child of Eden fears the Red Death. All those afflicted with the plague die young, their souls stripped away as punishment for ancient
sins long forgotten. For centuries, Guardians have protected Eden from the Red Death by killing outsiders who stray too close. They must
keep Eden a secret if they are to survive.

Seventeen-year-old Aaliss is a highly-trained and dedicated Guardian, but when her rather odd thirteen-year-old brother discovers a cure to
the plague, her world is turned upside down. The discovery is a miracle, yet miracles are dangerous in Eden.

The corrupt, all-powerful High Priest brands Aaliss and her brother Wilky as traitors, forcing them to run. They seek refuge in the last
place Aaliss thought she’d ever go—beyond the boundaries of Eden, and into the land of the Soulless. Here they must navigate a medieval
world filled with witches, magic, and warrior kingdoms run by Elders who are only a few years older than her.

Aaliss yearns to return home to Eden, but she must protect Wilky at all costs. And when her heart tugs her deeper into the world of the
Soulless, she questions everything she once believed, everything the Priests had taught her about those who live outside Eden—they are
forever cursed, savage, soulless.

Has her soul been taken? Will she and Wilky fall victim to the Red Death, or might they die sooner in the center of a battle that threatens
to tear apart the Soulless world? Or… might Aaliss finally find, against all odds, what her heart has yearned for all along?

This was an incredibly well written novel. The dark dystopian world is so vividly described that you can visualize the characters in your
mind. The action and plot of this incredible book took this reader on a roller coaster of emotions and created a world that can easily
pass for a dystopian version of our own. The themes of this novel have never been more true than in this day and age, from the dark side of
power in religion, to the judgement we often have for anyone who isn’t a part of our own culture, to the true meaning of family and how
a person can find family in the most unlikely of places.

It was refreshing to see the gender roles reversed from the “traditional” book styles, where a man is the hardened warrior and the female
needs rescuing or needs to be taught how to fight. Aaliss is a seasoned warrior, and the male lead of this novel that fans will meet must
seek her help for a quest, and must use her skills in order to learn and survive. It shows a welcome trend of strong female characters that
may be flawed but still become the epic hero of the story and prove that they don’t need a man to save them. It helps to break down the
gender stereotypes of our world and showcases that a person’s gender doesn’t define a hero, but rather their actions.

This is a beautifully dark world that has been created by Jeff Altabef, and is a promising first novel in a brand new series. This new world
promises to bring deadly threats to Aaliss and the rest of the people she befriends in this novel, and shows that the world she knows is
going to change drastically. Filled with twists and turns, characters we love and characters we love to hate, this is a fantastic read that
every dystopian and Fantasy reader must check out, so make sure you pick up your copies of Red Death today!

10/10 Stars

November 2, 2016

Interview with E.M. Markoff

1) Tell us a little bit about the conception of The Deadbringer and this fantastic world you have created.
The Deadbringer is
an amalgamation of reading, visual media, and culture. It’s a
Frankenstein’s Monster of the literary genres I love (epic fantasy and
classic fiction), the movies I grew up watching as a child (Hammer
Horror, Roger Corman’s Edgar Allan Poe films, anime, David Lynch films),
and of what I experienced growing up in a first-generation Latina
household. My mother, who was born in 1933, had some very tall tales to
tell filled with magic and surrealism. It made for some great stories.

2) What inspired you to delve into this dark fantasy realm over other genres?
My
mom was a huge fan of older horror films. As such, I grew up watching
Dracula (Christopher Lee) chase Van Helsing (Peter Cushing); Dr. Phibes
(Vincent Price) avenge his lost wife by committing pernicious acts, yet
still be the hero; Paul Atreides (Kyle MacLachlan) become a messiah who
would lead the people. Not being strict in what I read, I picked up
Stephen King, Carlos Fuentes’ Aura, and Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman. All of this, consciously and subconsciously, helped shape my love of ‘dark’ things. To me, the dark is beautiful. It had much to offer and so much more to show you.

3) Which character do you think you can identify with most, and why?
I
hate to sound cliche, but there is a little of me in each character.
But, if I had to pick only one, I would say E’sinea. The fact that I am
reluctant to say why I relate to him is probably the reason I do relate to him.
4)
Do you think readers should view this as a clear cut good versus evil
kind of story, or do you like to look at it as more of a story that
resides in shades of grey, morality-wise?
The Deadbringer is
very much a story told in shades of gray with respect to its
moral ambiguity and how the characters’ actions have consequences. Some
of the characters in the book have unique abilities that historically
are associated with evil (necromancy, shadow affinity, the literal
ability to rot flesh) but it does not mean that they are evil, and yet
they are persecuted as such. So, the book is very much written in shades
of gray in the sense that it demonstrates how the classic trope (or
natural human tendency) to categorize people into good or bad is
directly responsible for the misfortunes of the characters. As the
author, this this how I feel, but I believe that readers should feel
free to interpret the book how they wish. It’s part of the joy of
reading, after all.

5) What authors have inspired you as a writer?
Oh, that’s a long list! Stephen King and Neil Gaiman, as I mentioned before, Clive Barker, Oscar Wilde, Edgar Allan Poe, J.R.R. Tolkien, Alan Moore, Paulo Coelho…really, the list is never-ending!
6)
If you could meet any of your characters in person and have a
conversation with them, who would it be and what would you ask them?
E’sinea, and I would ask him if he wanted to play a game.
7)
When it comes to the marketing side of publishing your book, which
social media platform has been the most beneficial as far as reaching
an
audience is concerned and why?
Bookstagram,
which is a community of booklovers within Instagram, has been
fundamental to my career as a writer. I am grateful to this community
not only for their love and support, but also because I have made some
wonderful friends through this social media platform.

8) When developing your story, which is your favorite part: developing plot or character development?
I’ve
been told by my editor that I am obsessed with ‘playing house’ with my
characters, so I’d have to say character development.

9)
Since you have developed a lot of fictional towns and cities in this
epic story, where would you live in The Deadbringer and why?
Suelosa,
because its just far away enough from the governing powers that be and
no gods have come around to fuck things up! It’s still very much a free
city…for now.
10) What are your future plans for this series? Any other books on the horizon?

Future
plans include the second book in the Ellderet Series which is
tentatively scheduled for late next year. From there, only the Twin God
knows what the future holds. With any luck, Fortune, and not Travail,
will be on my side. As for other books, I’ve been working on a fantasy
novella that takes place in the world of the Ellderet Series and is a
sort of standalone prequel to The Deadbringer. My goal is to get
that out before the second book, but I don’t want to curse myself, so I
best leave it at that! What I will say is that I hope my readers will
enjoy the novella as much as I am ❤