Tag Archives: fantasy novel

Interview with Author Yasmine Maher 

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

I think I’ve always been a storyteller, even before I learned how to write. My parents used to keep cassette tapes of the six-year-old me narrating stories I made up with imaginary characters and colorful worlds. During middle school, I started experimenting with writing, video creation, and drawing anime mainly because I had so many stories to tell. Though I didn’t create anything serious until much later in life, it all put me on the right track.

Growing up with social anxiety, I had a lot of trouble expressing myself. I have never really been an eloquent speaker, but writing gave me an opportunity to put my thoughts and feelings into words and helped me become more confident.

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2) What inspired you to write your book?

Honestly, I wrote the first draft of Echo so long ago that I can’t remember how it all started. But I do know that I’ve always been passionate about magic and superheroes. At that time, most female superheroes I knew were “too cool,” if I may. I couldn’t relate to them, and I wanted to write about a hero that was just…ordinary. A clumsy, sometimes naive character who’s always trying to do her best despite her own insecurities. That was how Echo was born. 

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

Everyone has a choice. In the battle against evil, the hardest part is to fight the demons inside. Whether it was Echo, Doyle, Ebba, or any of the characters, it was always up to them to choose redemption, even when it wasn’t the obvious choice and when it wasn’t easy.

There’s evil and good in all of us, and we get to choose which side will win. 

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I’ve been a fan of witches and witchcraft since I was a child watching Sabrina The Teenage Witch on the Disney channel. So, my first serious book had to be a fantasy. 

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

If I could, I’d sit down with Vanna, drink tea, and ask her about life in general. What she has learned in her long life and what she has read in her books. Vanna has always been the one who didn’t say much, yet she thought a lot and had surprising opinions about everything.  

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

It’s a bit too early to judge that since I’m still starting, and my book isn’t even out yet. Like many authors, social media is a great challenge for me; however, I’m more comfortable using Twitter than FB or Instagram, and many people know me from there.

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

Keep writing. It’s the only way to get better. Ask for professional feedback if you can (and as soon as you can). And stay strong. Writing is not for the faint of heart, and the path to authorship is full of rewrites, rejections, and redirections. 

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

Yes, I’m very excited about moving on to my new books. I’ve already plotted the planned the first two. They’re going to be different from Echo, and I hope they’ll live up to my readers’ expectations.

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About the Author

Yasmine Maher is the author of Echo: The Curse of the Blackwood Witches and Director of Fables and Facts Publishing. As a passionate wordsmith and an active member of the Twitter writing community, Yasmine loves to weave captivating tales that inspire her readers with whimsical adventures, magic, and larger-than-life characters.

https://yasminemaher.com/

Creation of the Inevitable by The Raven’s Doctor Review

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

After facing and succumbing to his sickness, one man discovers a new world full of promise and health in author The Raven’s Doctor’s “Creation of the Inevitable: Volume 1”. 

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The Synopsis

All his life Malcom Doxon has only known fragility and sickness. Most days were spent on a hospital bed counting the hours go by day by day. One day his aliments got the better of him and he soon passed from our world. But through unexpected circumstances, he finds himself in a new world where he can start a new life without fear of his body breaking down.

The Review

The author did an incredible job of crafting a powerful story in such a short read. The character development was rich with action and the writing did a fantastic job of giving readers a sense of history and depth to these characters. The heart and passion with which the author wrote these characters also allowed readers to connect with them and seeing the protagonist’s unique relationship with each character introduced was a great way of making this fantastic story feel a bit more grounded.

Yet it was the world-building and powerful themes that really kept me invested in the narrative. The creative and highly original mythos that the author developed concerning Death and the protagonist’s relationship with Death, as well as the concept of what life after death truly looks like was such a powerful idea to explore, and the theme of life, death, and finding purpose felt so powerful and blended so well with the fantasy genre. 

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The Verdict

Captivating, richly developed, and entertaining, author The Raven’s Doctor’s “Creation of the Inevitable: Volume 1” is a must-read short story that meets the fantasy narrative of 2022. The cliffhanger final chapter will have readers breathless, and the promise of new worlds and new threats will keep readers eager for the next chapter of this epic-growing saga. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

The Raven’s Doctor likens himself to a weaver; his computer is the loom, and the words are the threads. Every day, without exception, the Doctor weaves his tale throughout. Additionally, he will examine his work closely to make sure there are no visible nicks or crevices. He aims to make the reader feel as though they are a fly on the wall witnessing the action take place in real time. What more could The Raven’s Doctor want for? He will also weave his book such that it may continue beyond his death for future generations.

In the Midst of Magic by Christian Cura Review

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

A woman mourning the death of her brother finds herself forced to embrace her gifts when an old foe breaks out of prison to destroy her life in author Christian Cura’s “In the Midst of Magic”.

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The Synopsis

Meet Kara Hartman, a photojournalist who is hiding her magic from the world. Traumatized by her brother’s death, she wants nothing more to do with magic. But just when she thought she could neglect her gift, it becomes apparent that the universe has other plans for Kara. When she discovers that an old foe has broken out of prison, hellbent on destroying her new life, Kara has no choice but to embrace the only power that can stop her.

The Review

This was a powerful story. The author did an amazing job of finding the right ratio of fantasy-driven world-building and emotional and captivating character development. The mythos and action of this narrative keep readers engaged from the start, showing the dangers and threats that keep the protagonists working to stop the destruction of all they hold dear. 

I was so fascinated by the character growth and perspectives from which this story was told. The theme of loss played heavily into this narrative for so many of the characters, from the way loss drives us to retreat from the world, while others are driven to take their pain out on others, and so much more. Getting to see the perspectives of so many different characters made the story feel so much more vibrant and alive on the page, and added to the depth of the emotional journey that this story provided the characters. 

The Verdict

Heartfelt, magical, and entertaining, author Christian Cura’s “In the Midst of Magic” is a must-read LGBTQ Fantasy read! The themes and emotional character growth that developed throughout this narrative will connect readers to the story greatly, while the action and twists and turns this narrative takes will have readers eager for more from this incredible author. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Christian Cura is a new author who just recently published his debut novel Dreams of Fire. Ever since he read Lord of the Rings as a teenager, it has been his dream to write and publish a novel of his own. His favorite authors include J.R.R. Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, and Robert Jordan.

Christian lives in Northern Virginia where he lifts weights and creates artwork. He is a Gryffindor, an Earth-bender, and a loyal follower of Optimus Prime. When he is not writing, he can be found drawing or getting beaten up at his MMA gym.

https://www.authorchriscura.com/

Destiny of Avalon (Awakenings Book 3) by J. Lynn Else Review

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

A young group of heroes faces their most challenging journey yet when their parents and a close ally are taken by a vengeful djinn who plans to unleash a powerful djinn army in author J. Lynn Else’s “Destiny of Avalon”, the third book in the Awakenings series. 

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The Synopsis

A djinn banished long ago has found his way back into Avalon, and he’s taken Genie’s, Whit’s, Mei’s, and Beth’s parents hostage. In exchange for their lives, he wants an ancient artifact. With it, he’ll conjure a spell that will destroy all of time as we know it in order to restore something that was taken from him centuries in the past. Then, before anyone knows what’s happening, he snatches Mei, whose ancestral ties can help him unlock his palace and its sinister secrets on Bottle Isle.

With the lives of their parents and Mei on the line, Beth, Whit, and Genie will need to split up in hopes of retrieving the artifact while also finding a way to set a trap for the evil djinn. Queens Guinevere and Nimue, along with Whit and Beth, will travel to the land of the dead on an ancient Egyptian solar barge. Meanwhile at the Library of Ancients, as Genie is investigating ways to foil the djinn’s plans, something strange begins to happen to her. She’s aging rapidly and losing strength with each passing day. While Morgana searches for a cure for Genie, Viviane must try to unlock the djinn’s final secret: his true name. If they can discover that, they can destroy his power.

However, there’s one final task that only Genie can complete. If they’re to stand a chance against the djinn army to free their parents and Mei from captivity, Genie must find a way to awaken the land of Avalon.

The Review

This was such a thrilling and heart-pounding conclusion to a multi-mythological baring fantasy series! The deep-seated lore the author has crafted from both original storytelling and existing mythos from various cultures was incredible to see. The addition of Egyptian mythology in particular in this story, from the Egyptian afterlife to gods and goddesses, was so creatively inspiring, especially considering the overall Arthurian mythos that has defined this narrative for so long.

The emotional and captivating journey this main cast of characters goes through is so investing to behold as a reader and fan of this series. Mei and Genie in particular have truly powerful stories unfold, both enduring the most challenging aspects of this magical adventure yet as they both attack the new threat from two very different places. The expansion of this world and the connection that it has to Earth’s own mythology and connection to magic was perfectly brought to life by these characters and made for a truly entertaining read.

The Verdict

Engaging, captivating, and brilliantly written, author J. Lynn Else’s “Destiny of Avalon” is the brilliant final chapter of the Awakenings series. While the world-building and mythos the author introduces leave plenty of room for the author to revisit in future stories, the main tale and its conclusion felt so satisfying and did the characters justice in the end. The climactic final battle with this ancient evil and the emotional final chapter that shows the path these four friends end up taking made this such a beautiful story to behold and captured the magic that defined the narrative for so long. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

J. LYNN ELSE is an award-winning author from Minnesota who’s self-published two historical fiction novels set in ancient Egypt, “The Forgotten: Aten’s Last Queen (2013),” which was named an Indie Editor’s Choice book for 2016 by the Historical Novel Society, and “The Forgotten: Heir of the Heretic (2016)” as well as a sci fi novella “Strangely Constructed Souls (2018).” Through Inklings Publishing, she’s authored an Arthurian-influenced, female-driven fantasy trilogy, “Descendants of Avalon” (2018), “Lost Daughters of Avalon” (2019), and “Prophecy of Avalon” (2021).” Her short story “The Girl from the Haunted Woods,” won 2nd place in the “Journey into the Fantastical” Anthology contest. In 2021, she became the Indie Reviews Editor for the Historical Novel Society. She believes in unicorns and practicing random acts of awesome.

https://www.teasippinnerdymom.com/

Dagmar of the Northlands (Gortah van Murkar Book 2) 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. 

A new heroine arises in the north as the stepdaughter of the Northland’s Jarl is slain, and his killer, her half-brother, takes his place, leading an attack on the kingdom of Gortah while he seeks to rekindle his relationship with his Queen Dextra of Aspatria after a year apart in the epic fantasy, “Dagmar of the Northlands”, the second book in the Gortah van Murkar series from author John C. Adams

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The Synopsis

From Albedo One Magazine Contributing Editor and double Aeon Award Longlister John C Adams comes a delightful fantasy romance featuring brand new heroine Dagmar Strongarm of the Northlands in the thrilling sequel to Aspatria.

Dagmar of the Northlands is edited by professional editor E S Wynn-Rubsam and features a powerfully evocative cover from Fiona Jayde Media.

When her stepfather Konung Thorlak of the Northlands dies, the jarls rally round Dagmar’s half brother Njal and make him their new ruler. Dagmar is disturbed by their ability to do so, when Thorlak fell at Njal’s own hand.

The new konung orders a raid on Gortah van Murkar’s island territory of Orkna to deflect attention from criticism of his rise to power and his treatment of his sister Yeen. Dagmar puts her yearning for romance with close friend Frakkok Warmhearth to one side long enough to join the raiding party, but her sister Ragnhild’s pregnancy from their mysterious house guest Jon, rumoured to be the human form of the Northlands’ Sea God Grunn, is also weighing heavily on her mind. Dagmar’s thoughts often drift back to her homestead, Barnahus, the aptly named House of the Women.

It isn’t long before Njal is proving himself unfit to lead, and the Men of the North are running amok. Dagmar and her cousin Magnus Broadchest step up, leading the raid on the crofters of Orkna to plunder whatever pitiful treasure the islanders have hidden away. They also do their best to rally the Men of the North’s allies to attack the island’s capital, the towering stronghold of Castle Longhope, before Gortah can get wind of their arrival and send reinforcements to hold this distant outpost of his massive empire.

Dagmar longs to return home and begin a relationship with Frakkok and to ensure that Ragnhild comes safely through the birth of her son. First, she must stiffen the resolve of the Men of the North to fight as a disciplined band within the coalition of forces the Gods have amassed to assist the Northlanders in taking Castle Longhope. With Magnus injured in the earlier raid, and his wound festering, returning home to Barnahus seems further away than ever for Dagmar.

Meanwhile, in his opulent capital Zwaarstad, Gortah awaits the return of his wife Queen Dextra of Aspatria and her much younger other husband Lord Ludwig Berg. The king and queen have been apart for a year following the death of Dextra’s baby son, Crown Prince Aelred of Aspatria, but Gortah has formally demanded her attendance at his fiftieth birthday celebrations, amid continuing speculation in Murkar and Aspatria about the stability of the royal marriage.

Just as Gortah hopes to celebrate Dextra’s return in peace, the Eirans gather an immense warhost and ride for the border with South Eira, Gortah’s possession across the Silent Sea. The commander at Fort Belshan sends urgent word that reinforcements are needed, and Gortah’s youngest son Prince Eugene leads those forces into battle. However, Eugene’s thoughts are clouded on and off the battlefield by tempting visions of the King of Eira’s youngest daughter, Princess Emer o’Eira.

Is the delightful and playful spirit who visits Eugene in the night hours at Belshan a true likeness of Emer in beauty and good nature? Eugene becomes more determined than ever to meet the princess in person and find out. But Emer’s father Domhnall o’Eira is determined that any match with the Murkan prince will be with his eldest daughter, Briana, even if it means breaking her betrothal to childhood sweetheart Chieftain Jarlath o’Cruach.

The return of Benedict Dartelend gives Gortah the thrill of seeing his old lover again after thirty years, but it is tinged with sadness and regret that Benedict has come home to Murkar after decades of ill health to say goodbye. 

The Review

Author John C. Adams has outdone themselves with this truly incredible novel. The author managed to capture the magic and intensity of the epic fantasy genre that fans of Game of Thrones have come to know. The narrative felt like equal parts Game of Thrones and equal parts The Last Kingdom, infusing some Viking-esque story elements and settings that made the world the author created in book one so much larger. The balance struck between the fantasy action found in the grand battles and invasions amongst the kingdoms with the conflicts in politics and how each kingdom differs in its practices and means of ruling made this story so engaging.

The character growth was phenomenal to read. The author was able to create equal parts of new characters and heroes to root for such as Dagmar herself with existing characters like Gortah and Dextra. The romance element of the narrative took these characters in so many different directions, from the LGBTQ romance looked at through Dagmar and Frakkak to the existing marriage of Dextra to both Gortah and the younger and more vile Ludwig was so interesting and heartfelt (and heart-wrenching). The twists and turns in these relationships were only elevated by the growing conflicts within their respective kingdoms.

The Verdict

Larger than life, haunting, and truly entertaining, author John C. Adams’s “Dagmar of the Northlands” is a must-read epic fantasy novel! The author’s ability to world-build and craft powerful and meaningful characters that fuel some truly grand storylines is truly staggering to behold, and this is one epic fantasy series that readers do not want to miss out on if they are missing their epic fantasy fix. 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.johncadamsreviews.com/

smashwords.com/books/view/944686

Sword & Sorcery: Frostfire (Sword & Sorcery Book One) by Ethan Avery Review

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

A young warrior growing up on the streets must find a way to save his friend from the jails meant for him, while a young woman studying magic struggles when she has no magic of her own in this fantasy-driven narrative studying class systems and destiny in author Ethan Avery’s “Sword & Sorcery: Frostfire”, the first book in the Sword & Sorcery series. 

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The Synopsis

Who’s right and who’s wrong is all a matter of perspective.

Erevan has a problem. He grew up on the unforgiving streets of Bogudos and has the scars to prove it. His friend, however, is stuck in jail because of his mistake. But when a suspicious courier offers him a chance to fix things, should he lift his sword to aid her cause?

Meanwhile, Aireyal has been accepted into the wealthiest and most prestigious magical school in all the land. There’s just one problem. She can’t do magic. But that’s far from the only secret within the walls of Darr-Kamo. And what she discovers might just change the world.

The Review

First and foremost, I absolutely loved the world building in this novel. The classic fantasy and magical elements that one hopes to find in these epic stories was paired so perfectly with the more in-depth and honest approach to class systems and how everyone brings a different and unique perspective to the same situation. I love the exploration of what “good and evil” truly means, which in epic fantasy stories can often be pretty cut and dry. Yet the author elevated this narrative to new heights, and created the right amount of tension and atmosphere to keep the story flowing smoothly and the action feeling intense while creating thought-provoking conversations on how people approach everyday topics of discussion.

The world-building was equally on par with the author’s amazing character development as well. Having not only multiple POVs but storylines running adjacent to one another helped showcase just how vast the world the author crafted was, and allowed the two main protagonists to shine brightly in their own stories. What was also so unique early on was seeing how each protagonist was like a mirror image of the other, with Erevan being more of an act first, think later kind of warrior, whereas Aireyal was more of the bookworm who would often get lost in her own mind. That allowed their individual metamorphosis throughout their narratives to feel equally powerful and great to read. 

The Verdict

Masterful, gripping, and entertaining, author Ethan Avery’s “Sword & Sorcery: Frostfire” is a must-read epic fantasy novel and the first in a brand new series readers won’t be able to get enough of. One of my top picks so far in 2022 for fantasy reads, the author found a great harmony between the world building without sacrificing character growth, and the ability to craft characters that reflected the dynamic and diverse nature of our own world and create new heroes that readers can become engaged with was just truly amazing to read. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy on April 22nd, 2022, or preorder your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Ethan Avery believes in the power of stories. As a child growing up in Ohio, they gave him a chance to see a bigger world, and to hear what life was like for people that didn’t look like him or believe what he did. And now years later, he hopes to do the same for others. For more information on Sword and Sorcery and what Ethan’s writing next, please visit www.storiesbyethan.com 

Revenge Seeker (Vital Impetus Book 2) by V.K. Tritschler Review

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

A young woman who has become the heir to a multiversal kingdom must protect her loved ones and stop her maniacal grandfather, who took her own father’s life, in author V.K. Tritschler’s “Revenge Seeker”, the second book in the Vital Impetus series. 

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The Synopsis 

Her Grandfather took her father’s life, and now Jess wants revenge.

Heir to a multi-verse kingdom Jess should be the most powerful woman in the world, able to keep her loved ones safe and bring peace to the realms. But with her newfound powers, came newfound dangers.

Jess is determined to protect the people she loves. To keep her sister, mother and boyfriend Peter safe, she sends them away, where her enemies can’t find them. When, Peter’s parents find out she’s the offspring of their mortal enemy, they are determined to keep them apart forever.

Going alone is perilous, and it’s hard to tell the difference between friend and foe. Determined to bring down her maniacal Grandfather, Jess is just beginning to realize the depth of her ties to those around her and the strength they bring to her.

Will she become the great protector or is she more like her Grandfather than she wants to admit?

The Review

This was such a fast-paced and entertaining read! The author did a truly fantastic job of world-building and crafting a very rich and descriptive narrative that really brought a large sense of imagery that captured the essence of these various worlds and realms the narrative took the protagonist in. The balance of character growth and mythos was perfectly captured, bringing both heart and creativity to the worlds in which Jess found herself. 

The character exploration in this story was unparalleled. The examination of protagonist Jess was especially brilliant, as her gifts and her mission for revenge were really tested when faced with the strain it put on her relationships, both with her mom and sister and with her longtime friend and boyfriend Peter. The twists and turns that came as a result of her desire to protect them as well as her need to avenge her father’s death were amazing. The tension and grim reality of her family life came to life in her battle with her grandfather, as she had to not only discover what life was like in his kingdom and under his rule but had to discover the lengths to which his villainy and desire for power extended. 

The Verdict

Captivating, engaging, and adrenaline-fueled fantasy action and adventure, author VK Tritschler’s “Revenge Seeker” is a must-read novel and the perfect next chapter in the Vital Impetus series! The twists and turns in Jess’s journey and the exploration of the corruption that power can bring and the blurred line that can come when seeking both justice and vengeance made this story really come to life, and the cliffhanger ending that left the fate of several characters up in the air made this a book that couldn’t be missed. So be sure to grab your copy of this wonderful read today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

VK Tritschler is the definition of very busy. Having both a fulltime job, a growing family and a career as an author she has a lot going on both around her and in her imagination. She lives on the amazing Eyre Peninsula in South Australia, having moved there from her hometown of Christchurch, New Zealand. Her family consists of a very patient husband, two rampant boys, and too many pets to mention.

She has a wonderful set of amazing writers who support her in the form of Eyre Writers, and in return, she offers crowd control services for the Youth section who are the future best-selling Australian authors.

Her first book “The Secret Life of Sarah Meads” was released in 2018 and since then she has participated in the NYC Writing Challenge, the Clunes Booktown, and helped organise and run the Eyre Writers Festival. Next came the paranormal anthology of “Magic & Mischief” with her story “Vital Impetus” which came out in July 2020.

After this, “The Risky Business of Romance” was released in October 2020 – a romantic suspense set in rural South Australia, and Trade Secrets is a rom-com based in Adelaide came out in December 2020. “A Town Called Nowhere” a paranormal romance about were-panthers set in rural Australia, was released in April 2021, with the second book out in October 2021.

Ever available to her readership you can find her at:

www.vktritschler.com

www.facebook.com/vktritschler

www.twitter.com/vktritschler

www.goodreads.com/vktritschler 

Keeper of the Jewel: Highcliff Guardians Epic Fantasy Series (Soul Forge Universe Book 1) by Richard H. Stephens Review

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

A young heir to the throne is sent away to be protected from a looming threat, but finds sins of the kingdom’s past may find their way back to her in author Richard H. Stephen’s “Keeper of the Jewel: Highcliff Guardians Epic Fantasy Series”, the first book in the Soul Forge Universe series. 

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The Synopsis 

Something evil lurks beneath the palace.

A phantasm from a darker past makes its presence known to Khae Wys, Queen of the Elves.

Braving the perils of a haunted tower, the queen seeks the counsel of the mysterious Fae, for only they can predict what is to come. A future that doesn’t bode well for her only living child.

In a desperate attempt to save the heir to the Willow Throne, Princess Ouderling is exiled to the only place capable of protecting her. Highcliff, the home of the coveted Crystal Cavern and the dragons that watch over it.

The Duke of Grim, however, has other plans for the princess.

The Review

I absolutely loved this book! The world-building was phenomenal, and the imagery the author infused into the narrative, (both literarily speaking and literally) was superb to see. The use of artwork throughout the book was an inspired choice, as the author was able to give readers a visual representation of the tone and quality of the characters that strengthened the emotional connection readers had for them.

I loved how complex and realistic the relationships and personalities of these fantasy characters felt. While I absolutely love fantasy-driven narratives, some novels can get so heavy with the fantasy elements that character choices and personalities can feel stuffy or disconnected in some way. Yet this author found a great way of making the characters either relatable or realistic enough for readers to recognize. Even protagonist Princess Ouderling perfectly represents the young woman who must undergo a heroic journey and face the past of her kingdom, but also holds that youthful sense of rebellion and need for an identity all her own, which will resonate greatly with younger readers especially.

The Verdict

A brilliant, entertaining, and amazingly haunting world of epic fantasy that readers won’t want to miss, author Richard H. Stevens’s “Keeper of the Jewel” is a must-read novel and the perfect start to a brand new fantasy series. What really was great to see was that this book was the first of a new series, but was set within an even greater series the author already has written. Yet the story felt fresh and was able to be enjoyed seamlessly by newcomers while still hitting great story strides with established lands and characters at the same time. It made for such a rich and powerful read. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Born in Simcoe, Ontario, in 1965, I began writing circa 1974; a bored child looking for something to while away the long, summertime days. My penchant for reading The Hardy Boys led to an inspiration one sweltering summer afternoon when my best friend and I thought, “Hey, we could write one of those.” And so, I did.

As my reading horizons broadened, so did my writing. Star Wars inspired me to write a 600-page novel about outer space that caught the attention of a special teacher, Mr. Woodley, who encouraged me to keep writing.

A trip to a local book store saw the proprietor introduce me to Stephen R. Donaldson and Terry Brooks. My writing life was forever changed.

At 17, I left high school to join the working world to support my first son. For the next twenty-two years I worked as a shipper at a local bakery. At the age of 36, I went back to high school to complete my education. After graduating with honours at the age of thirty-nine, I became a member of our local Police Service, and worked for 12 years in the provincial court system.

In early 2017, I resigned from the Police Service to pursue my love of writing full-time. With the help and support of my lovely wife Caroline and our 5 children, I have now realized my boyhood dream.

https://www.richardhstephens.com/

Interview with Author Paul Francois

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

A: My day job is being a computer geek for a global technology company. I’ve always been a geek and proud of it. Technology was always in my blood. My first job was an avionics system control specialist on F-111 fighters in the US Air Force. I started writing to quiet the voices in my head! Ok, seriously…I always felt I had better ideas for stories and movies than most. It was sometime in 2011 that I kept getting ideas waking me in my sleep and disrupting my day-to-day activities. Finally, I had to write. It was the only action that helped calm the voices.

Q: What inspired you to write your book?

A: I used to play Shadowbane online and was intrigued by the lore. The game designers intertwined Greek, Celtic, and Nordic mythologies so well that I had to expand upon it. So many ideas rattled around in my mind until I just had to pour them out onto paper…or a computer to be precise. This was my second book but I kept writing and writing until I realized…this was my first full sized novel. I was horrible in high school English classes. I wanted to write creatively, but the teachers wanted uniformity, conformity, and structure. I felt as if they were drowning me with rules and restrictions.

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Q: What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

A: I would like readers to feel that anything is possible. You never know where life will take you or what destiny may lie ahead of you, just waiting for you to discover it. 

Q: What drew you into this particular genre?

A: I’ve always loved the SciFi and Fantasy genre. I find everyday life boring and sometimes limited, but in the Fantasy genre you can create anything you like. Create a new realm, a new creature, or anything you can dream…your imagination is the only limitation.

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

A: It would choose Gaal. I loved creating this character and developing an arsenal of witty comebacks for him. I would ask how he felt about always being referred to as an abomination and what it was like growing up in the Carloon Outpost as a Shade. I always felt I could have elaborated on his life, but then again…I doubt the Shade would be very forthcoming with details.

Q: What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

A: Goodreads and BookBub. Most other sites would reach out to just any members, even if they did not know you were a writer. With my last name being French in origin I mostly received scammers speaking French wearing revealing clothing.

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

A: If you’re writing for a profit, find a new line of work. If you just care about publicity, then you can write what you “think” the public wants to hear. However, if the desire to express yourself and the yearning to create new worlds, stories, and characters just burns deep in your soul…write what you want, when you want, and how you want. If your one true desire is to be a creative writer, then write what you want. If they like it, great. If they don’t…then screw them! At the end of the day the only person you have to answer to, and that you can’t lie to, is yourself.

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

A: Due to life and health issues, I’ve had to take a hiatus from writing for a few years but I hope to get started on a trilogy series soon featuring a young female protagonist who is a strong leader and not afraid of showing it. I’m tired of some showing that females have to have a soft side and that they are so easily hurt, while the males are brave and fearless. It doesn’t always work like that in the real world. Also, I might write the prequels to the Shadowbane series, since I loved writing the Age of Aelfborn.

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About the Author

By day, Paul Francois is a mild-mannered IT professional. He has been in the technology field for over 20 years. One day, in 2011, he started pondering story ideas until they leapt out of his brain and onto paper…onto the computer to be precise.

Join him as he discovers which genre suits his writing style best. Fantasy, Sci Fi, Thriller, or perhaps…all of the afore mentioned. The road is dreary and his journey long, sit back and enjoy a tale as we travel it together.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/AuthorPaulFrancois

Twitter: @AuthorFrancois

www.crusaderscrypt.com