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The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker Review

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

A half Reaper, Half-Shinigami warrior must find her place in the underworld and life as a whole while trying to earn the trust of the Goddess of Death in 1890’s Japan in author Kylie Lee Baker’s “The Keeper of Night”, the first in the series of the same name.

The Synopsis

Julie Kagawa meets Scythe in this captivating and evocative journey into Death’s domain as one soul collector seeks her place in the underworld of 1890s Japan. Book 1 of a planned duology.

Death is her destiny.

Half British Reaper, half Japanese Shinigami, Ren Scarborough yearns for the acceptance she has never found among the Reapers who raised her. When the Shinigami powers she can no longer hide force her to flee for her life, Ren and her younger brother—the only being on earth to care for her—travel to Japan and the dark underworld of Yomi, where Ren hopes to claim her place among the Shinigami and finally belong.

But the Goddess of Death is no more welcoming than the Reapers who raised her, and Ren finds herself set on an impossible task—find and kill three yokai demons, and maybe, just maybe, she can earn a place in Death’s service. With only her brother and an untrustworthy new ally by her side, Ren will learn how far she’ll go to win the acceptance she craves, and whether the cost of belonging is worth any sacrifice.

The Review

Wow, that was truly a captivating and visceral reading experience. The author has expertly crafted an original YA Fantasy/Historical Fiction horror tale that will not only entertain audiences but introduce many readers to the rich mythos that exists within Japanese folklore and the culture as a whole. The balance of Asian and European mythology that the author explores is great, but what really is amazing to see is how the European lore is very much a secondary component to the narrative, serving more as a stepping board for the character’s beginning arc rather than taking up the majority of the novel’s mythos. 

The characters were so unique and rich to watch unfold. The protagonist herself was interesting, as she really toed the line between morality and her dark origins the further and further she went on her journey. Seeing how her brother and this new ally of Ren’s served as devil and angel on her shoulders throughout this journey, highlighting the hardship of having others tell you who you are while you are in the middle of trying to decide that for yourself. 

The Verdict

A mesmerizing, haunting, and emotionally driven YA Fantasy and action novel, author Kylie Lee Baker’s “The Keeper of Night” is a must-read novel for YA Fantasy and horror fans this fall! Incorporating truly chilling mythology and brilliant character growth, the shocking final chapter and cliffhanger of an ending will have readers on the edge of their seats, eager for the next entry into this amazing duology. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

Kylie Lee Baker grew up in Boston and has since lived in Atlanta, Salamanca, and Seoul. Her writing is informed by her heritage (Japanese, Chinese, and Irish), as well as her experiences living abroad as both a student and teacher. She has a B.A. in Creative Writing and Spanish from Emory University and is currently pursuing a Master of Library and Information Science degree at Simmons University. In her free time, she watches horror movies, plays the cello, and bakes too many cookies. The Keeper of Night is her debut novel.

SOCIAL LINKS:

Author website: https://www.kylieleebaker.com/

Twitter: @KylieYamashiro

Instagram: @kylieleebaker

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56030267-the-keeper-of-night

BUY LINKS:

Bookshop.org: https://bookshop.org/books/the-keeper-of-night/9781335405661 

Porter Square Books: https://www.portersquarebooks.com/signed/signed-keeper-night-hardcover

Indie Bound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781335405661

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-keeper-of-night-kylie-lee-baker/1138317760?ean=9781335405661 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Keeper-Night-duology/dp/1335405666/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=the+keeper+of+night&qid=1613326691&sr=8-2

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Kylie_Lee_Baker_The_Keeper_of_Night?id=6asJEAAAQBAJ

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ph/en/ebook/the-keeper-of-night

Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/dk/book/the-keeper-of-night/id1540957269

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Q&A with Kylie Lee Baker

Q: What was the hardest scene to write in The Keeper of Night? What was the easiest?

A: The opening scene was probably the hardest to write because I had to introduce a complex magic system. The Reapers control time, and that kind of power makes the story vulnerable to a lot of plot holes if you don’t word it carefully. It’s such a powerful tool that it raises the question of why there’s ever any conflict at all, or why any battle is ever hard for Reapers. I needed to address that very early on so the whole world wouldn’t fall apart, while still making the story move forward. 

The easiest scene to write was an argument between Ren and Neven, when Neven tries to dictate Ren’s identity, and Ren responds: “Why am I the only one with no say in who I am?” That was one of the first scenes I wrote, and it contains a lot of my raw feelings about how biracial people are treated. Very little of the dialogue changed from the first draft of that scene. The challenge, then, was to build up the rest of the book to bring the reader to the point where that question, and that very emotionally charged scene, made sense. 

Q: Did you hide any secrets in your book? (names of friends, little jokes, references to things only some people will get)?

A: I wouldn’t really call these hidden secrets, but a lot of details about the British Reapers are a huge nod to the Black Butler anime, which fans of that show might notice. For instance, the Reapers in The Keeper of Night are known for their poor vision, much like the Reapers in Black Butler who all have to wear glasses, which are important details in both stories. Neven’s love of cats came from Sebastian Michaelis, the titular character from Black Butler who is inexplicably obsessed with cats. Another reference (unrelated to Black Butler) is to Alfred Lord Tennyson–Ren often refers vaguely to themes in his poetry, but she’s talking specifically about a poem called “Love and Death” in which love defeats death, which is something she probably should have internalized a bit sooner. 

Q: What do you hope people remember about The Keeper of Night?

A: I hope people remember how complex, traumatic, and powerful Ren’s existence as a biracial character is. I hope that this gives people more respect for the uniqueness of biracial identity, and that biracial readers feel solidarity in their struggles. 

Q: Did The Keeper of Night have a certain soundtrack you listened to while writing?

A: I listened to an acoustic cover of Sia’s “Elastic Heart” and Billie Eilish’s “You Should See Me in a Crown” a lot when writing, because those songs reminded me both of Ren’s vulnerability and thirst for power. I also distinctly remember sitting in a coffee shop in Seoul listening to RM’s “Tokyo” while writing some of the first scenes in Japan. It has a very cold, lonely, wistful atmosphere that I tried to emulate. 

Q: What is your dream cast for The Keeper of Night?

A: This question is hard to answer, partially because I don’t often imagine real people when writing, and partially because the pool of mixed race white/Asian actors who you can discover through a quick Google search is much smaller than for actors of other races, not even taking into account things like age or face shape. The closest I can come for Ren is Pom Klementieff (who plays Mantis) with black hair. I know she’s Korean, not Japanese, but she also grew up estranged from that culture, much like Ren. Timothee Chalamet with blonde hair is probably the closest match for Neven, since I’ve heard a lot of people say he looks like he should have been a wealthy Victorian child, and Terada Takuya for Hiro–he’s very silly at times, and very sharp at other times, much like Hiro. 

Enjoy this Exclusive Excerpt from “The Keeper of Night”

chapter two

At the far edge of London, somewhere between nightmares and formless dreams, the Reapers slept by daylight.

The only way to enter our home was through the catacombs of the Highgate Cemetery, through a door that no longer existed. It had been built there long ago, when the Britons first came to our land and Ankou carved a hole in their world so that Death could enter. But humans had sealed it shut with layers of wood, then stone, then brick and mortar, all in the hopes of keeping Death out.

By the nineteenth century, humans had mostly forgotten about the Door and what it meant. Then, when the London churchyards began to overflow with bones, the humans had searched for a place just outside of London to bury their dead. By chance or fate, they’d built their new cemetery right on top of the Door. It turned out that Death drew all of us close, even if we weren’t aware of it.

No streetlights lit the path through Highgate at night, but I didn’t need them to find my way home. Before I’d even passed through the main gate, Death pulled me closer. All Reapers were drawn to him, our bones magnetized to the place of our forefather. As soon as I entered the cemetery, a humming began just under my skin, like a train’s engine beginning to whir. My blood flushed faster through my veins as I brushed aside the branches of winter-barren lime trees and low-hanging elms. My boots crunched shattering steps into the frosted pathways as I ran.

I stumbled through jagged rows of ice-cracked tombstones on uneven ground and through a village of mausoleums, finally reaching the gothic arched doorway of the catacomb entrance. The pull had grown unbearable, dragging me along in a dizzy trance as I descended the stairs into the cool quietness of damp bricks and darkness. The labyrinth would have been unnavigable if not for the fervent pull.

At last, my hands came out to touch the wall where the Door used to be, but now there were only damp bricks and an inscription on the arch overhead that read When Ankou comes, he will not go away empty in rigid script. I dug one hand into my pocket and clutched my clock, pressed my other hand to the bricks, then closed my eyes and turned time all the way back to the beginning.

Time flowed through the silver-and-gold gears, up into my bloodstream and through my fingertips, dispersing into the brick wall. Centuries crumbled away, the mortar growing wet and bricks falling loose. One by one, they leaped out of their positions in the wall and aligned themselves in dry stacks on the ground, waiting once again for construction. Objects were easy to manipulate with time, for I could draw from their own intrinsic energy rather than siphoning off my own. Rather than paying in years of my own life, I could borrow years before the bricks crumbled and quickly repay the debt when I put them back.

I stepped through the doorway and the pull released me all at once. I breathed in a deep gasp of the wet night air, then turned around and sealed the door behind me. The bricks jumped back to their positions in the wall, caked together by layers of mortar that dried instantly, the time debt repaid.

The catacombs beyond the threshold spanned infinitely forward, appropriated as resting places for Reapers rather than corpses. Mounted lanterns cast a faint light onto the dirt floors and gray bricks. It was almost Last Toll, so only the last Reapers returning from the night shift still milled around, their silver capes catching the dim light of the tunnels, but most had retreated to their private quarters for the morning.

I turned right and hurried down the block. The low ceilings gave way to high-arched doorways and finally opened up to a hall of echoing marble floors and rows of dark wood desks. Luckily, there was no line for Collections this close to Last Toll.

I hurried to the first Collector and all but slammed my vials into the tray, jolting him awake in his seat. He was a younger Reaper and seemed perplexed at having been awoken so unceremoniously. When his gaze landed on me, he frowned and sat up straight.

“Ren Scarborough,” I said, pushing the tray closer to him.

“I know who you are,” he said, picking up my first vial and uncapping it with deliberate slowness. Of course, everyone knew who I was.

He took a wholly unnecessary sniff of the vial before holding it up to the light to examine the color, checking its authenticity. The Collectors recorded every night’s soul intake before sending the vials off to Processing, where they finally released the souls into Beyond. He picked up a pen from his glass jar of roughly thirty identical pens, tapped it against the desk a few times, then withdrew a leather-bound ledger from a drawer. He dropped it in front of him, opened the creaky cover, and began flipping through the pages, one by one, until he reached a fresh one.

I resisted the urge to slam my face against the desk in impatience.

I really didn’t have time to waste, but Collections was a necessary step. I didn’t consider myself benevolent in times of crisis, but even I was above leaving souls to expire in glass tubes instead of releasing them to their final resting place, wherever that was. And besides, a blank space next to my name in the Collections ledger meant a Collector would pay a visit to my private quarters to reprimand me. The last thing I needed was someone realizing that I’d left before Ivy could even report me.

But when the Collector uncorked my fourth vial and held it up to the lamp, swirling it in the light for ten excruciating seconds, I began to wonder if I’d made the right decision.

The bells of Last Toll reverberated through the bricks all around us, humming through the marble floors. In this hazy hour between night and day, the church grims came out in search of Reaper bones to gnaw on. Night collections had to be turned in by then, while day collections had to be processed by the First Toll at dusk.

The Collector sighed as he picked up my fifth vial. “I’m afraid I’ll have to mark your collections as late.”

My jaw clenched. “Why.”

“It’s past Last Toll, of course,” he said.

My fingers twitched. The lamp on the Collector’s desk flickered with my impatience, but I took a steadying breath.

“I was here before Last Toll,” I said, trying to keep my voice even.

“According to my ledger, your collections still have not been processed,” he said, spinning my fifth vial in his left hand.

I sighed and closed my eyes. Of course, I knew what he was doing. Chastising a “latecomer” would earn praise from higher management. It was the easiest way for him to climb the ranks—to exert his power over the half-breed. He would be praised for his steadfastness and gain a reputation as a strict and immovable Collector, while I could do nothing to complain. I could explode his lamp and send glass shards into his eyes, but that wouldn’t make him process my vials any faster. The fastest way to get out of there was subservience.

“Forgive me, Reaper,” I said, bowing my head and dropping my shoulders. I let my voice sound timid and afraid. “I apologize for being late.”

The Collector blinked at me for a moment, as if surprised that I’d given in so quickly. But he looked young and power-hungry and not particularly perceptive, so I wasn’t too afraid that he’d see through my tactic. As expected, he sneered as if I truly had offended him, finally beginning to process the fifth vial.

“It’s a great inconvenience to both Collections and Processing,” he said, “though I wouldn’t expect a half-breed to understand the workings of the educated Reapers.”

The only believable response to his goading was humiliated silence, so I hung my head even further and tried to make myself as small and pathetic as possible. It wasn’t hard, because the memory of the night’s events was still wringing my heart out like a wet rag and my skin prickled with nerves so fiercely that I wanted to claw it all off and escape before Ivy could find me, yet here I was, brought to my knees before a glorified teller. I imagined being a High Reaper, being able to reach over and smash his face into his blotter and shatter his owlish glasses into his eyes for delaying and insulting me.

His lamp flickered more violently and he paused to smack it before finally finishing with my last vial. He placed all seven in a tray and pressed a button that started the conveyor belt, sending the souls down to Processing. The moment he put a black check next to my name in the ledger, I stood up straight and turned to leave.

His hand twisted into my sleeve, yanking me back.

I shot him a look that could have melted glass, but he only pulled me closer.

“There’s the matter of your sanction,” he said.

“My sanction,” I said, glancing around the office to see how many people would notice if I simply twisted the Collector’s neck. Too many.

“For your tardiness, of course,” he said, smirking sourly. From his position stretched across the desk, the lamplight caught in his glasses and turned them into two beaming white moons.

The standard punishment for failing to make curfew was a night on the pillory, hands and feet nailed to the wood and head locked in a hole that was just slightly too tight, letting you breathe but not speak. The other Reapers could pull your hair or pour mead over your head or call you a thousand names when you couldn’t talk back. But the worst part wasn’t the nails or the insults. It was the Reapers who did nothing but look at you and sneer like you were nothing but an ugly piece of wall art, like they were so perfect that they couldn’t fathom being in your place. And far worse than that was my own father and stepmother walking past me and pretending not to see.

“Come back at First Toll,” the Collector said. “We’ll find a nice place to hang you up by the Door.”

It took every ounce of restraint I had left to keep my expression calm. This was the part where I was supposed to say, Yes, Reaper, and bow, but he was lucky that I hadn’t smashed his glasses into his face with my fist.

As if he could smell my defiance, he pulled me closer. His glasses fell out of the lamplight, revealing a deep frown.

“Scrub that look from your face,” he said. “Remember that I’ll handle your collections in the future.”

The future, I thought.

Luckily, I didn’t have a future.

The light bulb flashed with a sudden surge of power, then burst. Glass shards rained down over the desk, forcing the man to release me as hot glass scored his hands. Some of his paperwork caught fire, and he frantically patted out the flames with hands full of shards.

“Yes, Reaper,” I said, bowing deeply so he wouldn’t see my smirk as he sputtered about “bloody light bulbs, I knew we should have kept the gas lamps.”

Then I turned and rushed off to the West Catacombs.

Excerpted from The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker, Copyright © 2021 by Kylie Lee Baker. Published by Inkyard Press. 

STAZR The World of Z: The Dawn Of Athir by Dr. Anay Ayarovu Review

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

An aspiring writer and author finds themselves at the center of an ancient prophecy and must become a savior to an entire people in author Dr. Anay Ayarovu’s “STAZR The World of Z: The Dawn of Athir”. 

The Synopsis

A strange and mystical prophecy was found in the city of Treebarad. On a piece of parchment,

old long-forgotten events come back to life, the memory of which was intentionally erased. A mysterious prophecy now gives hope to the twisted ruling race that the power they seek lies behind an ancient gate. On the reverse side of the oracle are coordinates to the location of the Chosen One.

Lael is an introverted and naive writer who grew up with a book in one hand and a quill in the other. All his life, he has lived in a peaceful solitude, reading and writing his short stories and dreaming big of one day becoming a prestigious author. To his surprise and delight he must now become savior of the Star people and take the journey to find answers that do not exist in books.

The Review

A truly engaging and fun read, STAZR The World of Z: The Dawn of Athir is a fascinating YA Sci-Fi and Fantasy read that thrusts readers into an already established world of creatures descended from modern-day animals and unique languages and vocabulary that will appeal to fans of epic sci-fi and fantasy. 

The story is also unique in that the protagonist is not a born adventurer, a young man seeking to travel to distant lands and become a hero. Instead, the protagonist is a quiet and at peace writer who dreams of becoming an author and has that quiet life threatened by a prophecy that makes him into a would-be savior to an entire people. The author does a marvelous job of world-building and mythology building throughout this novel, setting the stage for a rather one-of-a-kind sci-fi and fantasy series to be born that readers will instantly fall in love with. 

The Verdict

An evenly paced yet gripping and engaging narrative, author Dr. Anay Ayarovu’s “STAZR The World of Z: The Dawn of Athir” is a one of a kind sci-fi/fantasy read that YA fans are going to love. A fun read, the author also does an amazing job of creating a narrative that is thought-provoking and challenges the reader to delve even deeper into their own imaginations, making this a must-read novel. Be sure to grab your own copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Dr. Ayarovu is currently residing in Miami, FL, where she hopes to build STAZR Universe into a multi-media platform. Her love of sailing brought her to the coast and falling in love with her husband kept her firmly in place. She previously spent time as a creative photographer, where she gained inspiration for her debut epic fantasy novel STAZR The World Of Z: The Dawn Of Athir. Dr. Ayarovu found herself writing backstories for her photoshoots based on societal roles and expectations; those short stories made up the very first draft of what this novel is today. She holds a love for the way society works with and through one another and has strategically sculpted the characters to reflect the way current day society plays off shared issues and ideas.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/51493691-stazr-the-world-of-z

https://stazr.com/

Kingdom of the Silver Cat (The Sapphire Fruit Chronicles Book 1) by Thomas M. Carroll Review

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

A day that begins with a bus ride ends with mystery, wonder and danger for a group of students after a crash sends them into another world in author Thomas M. Carroll’s “Kingdom of the Silver Cat (The Sapphire Fruit Chronicles Book 1)”. 

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The Synopsis 

Kingdom of the Silver Cat is a fantasy adventure novel about friendship, adversity, risk-taking, and self-discovery. When a school bus full of children drives through a mysterious blue light in the road, the bus is transported to an empty field in a strange land. The bus driver leaves to find help but doesn’t come back, and the children realize they must fend for themselves. They soon discover they each have a magical power, but with each power comes a weakness.

Alone in a mysterious land, Sarah, Wesley, and their schoolmates set out to find their way home. As they journey through the land, the children encounter strange and wondrous creatures, including playful clouds, thundering fireballs, warrior fairies, giant wolves, and bouncing bears. But when terrifying winged beasts begin hunting them, the children must flee for their lives. They find help in unexpected places and learn the only safe place for them is the Kingdom of the Silver Cat.

They set out to find this kingdom. Along the way, they encounter dangers and hardships. They must work together and support one another if they hope to survive and someday return home.

Kingdom of the Silver Cat is a fantasy adventure for ages eight and up, which Kirkus Reviews calls a “fast-paced, sparkling fantasy for tweens in which great wish fulfillment entails great responsibility,” and IndieReader says is a “clever and engaging fantasy with a lively cast of characters and an imaginatively-drawn world” containing “a variety of peoples and places, enough novelty and beauty to delight, and enough danger (both apparent and promised) to keep the suspense going until the end.”

Kirkus Reviews: https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-re…

IndieReader: https://indiereader.com/book_review/k… 

The Review

A story that immediately begins with a shock takes readers on an incredible journey throughout this first book of a wonderful new fantasy driven series. Readers are immediately immersed into the narrative of this magical land the children find themselves in, and have a unique character study of these characters when they find they have fantastic new powers, but powers that come with a cost. 

One unique thing that really stood out immediately was the amazing artwork picturing the cast of characters in the book, which added to the imagery used by the author throughout the story as the characters encountered new environments and new threats along the way. A story that was very reminiscent in style and approach to the Chronicles of Narnia, The Kingdom of the Silver Cat does a marvelous job of showcasing an already established world to the audience that feels natural and magical all at once, creating that sense of awe that keeps children, teens and adults invested in the narrative. 

The Verdict

A whirlwind adventure, author Thomas M. Carroll’s “The Kingdom of the Silver Cat” is a phenomenal first novel in a brand new fantasy series. Filled with action, mythical and magical creatures alike, and a much needed new narrative of young people discovering themselves and their relationships with each other and the world around them as they navigate a mysterious land, this is a novel not to be missed. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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https://www.facebook.com/SapphireFruit/?view_public_for=107805530726017

A World on the Island’s Edge: Book One of the Golden Dolphin by Matthew Rudd Reynolds Review

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

A young girl trying to hold her crumbling family together finds a new calling in author Matthew Rudd Reynolds’ novel “A World On The Island’s Edge”. 

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The Synopsis

Twelve-year old Andi Johnston knows all about keeping secrets from the inhabitants of her island home. She’s been hiding the truth about her grandmother’s dementia for nearly two years in an effort to keep her family together. After finding a young golden dolphin hidden in a cavern under her cliffside home, Andi knows she is in over her head. The bond between Andi and the dolphin Lux is instantaneous and supernatural. With his strange powers, Lux is able to heal Andi’s grandmother-for a time. 

Together with her genius twin brother, Artie, and best friend, Jubal, Andi tries to keep Lux safe from the world. Even if she can, what will happen to her family? The appearance of an old and mysterious ship in the bay across Andi’s home does nothing to alleviate her fears, nor does the discovery of a monstrous creature trying to use Lux as a means of breaking out of its prison. With her options running out, Andi risks everything in an act of faith that will change their lives forever.

The Review

In the first book of this brand new sci-fi and fantasy series titled the Golden Dolphin, the author has brilliantly brought together a healthy mixture of real-world drama and family tragedy with elements of science fiction and fantasy-driven themes. What begins as a seemingly fantasy-driven narrative turns otherworldly as the story progresses, giving readers a fantastic new series to dive headfirst into. 

The story’s true shining spot, however, is not only the blend of YA sci-fi and fantasy, but the protagonist’s struggle with her personal life as this new fantastic element is introduced into her life. From the realities of having a sibling who falls on the Autism spectrum to having the only caregiver in her life suffering from dementia-like symptoms with a teacher holding a mysterious grudge against her family and a mother who disappeared years ago, protagonist Andi is a young woman forced to grow up well before her time and trying to hold the little bit of family she has left together, making her story much more relatable and tragic as the more fantastic elements transpire. 

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The Verdict

This is a wonderful read, filled with twists and turns that readers will never see coming. From twists in the protagonist and her family’s history on their island home to the mystery of the Golden Dolphin and the powerful enemy seeking them out, this novel is engaging and entertaining throughout the entirety of the book. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy of “A World on the Island’s Edge” by Matthew Rudd Reynolds today. 

Rating: 10/10

https://amzn.to/32SspOC

Chronomancer and the Time God Book 1: Death of a Paradise by James Meadows III Review

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

A world divided by long fought wars is threatened once more by an ancient evil, and one young sorcerer might be the answer the world needs to stopping this threat in author James Meadows III’s novel “Chronomancer and the Time God Book 1: Death of a Paradise”. 

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The Synopsis

“Evil times haunted Zarethea.” So, the bard’s tale begins…Over a millennium since the God Wars ended, the world of Zarethea remains a battle ground. Though the gods no longer walk the land, their discordant theocracies continue the war the deities once started. 

The Chronomancer, a mysterious sorcerer of unknown origin, threatens to plunge the world into a state of chaos and bloodshed by reviving Rael, the dark god of time. Aleister, a young sorcerer from the magical kingdom of Mystas, finds himself tasked with preventing Rael’s return and saving the war-torn world. To succeed, he must lead three rival priests of warring theocracies on a mission to reach the mythical city of Cockaigne. 

Along the way, he must somehow prevent the kleptomaniac priest of freedom from robbing the party blind, restore the confidence of the fallen paladin of order, and help the peaceful priestess of neutrality discover her inner strength.Yet, it is inside Cockaigne, the mysterious paradise of eternal youth and joy, where Aleister’s true test awaits. For beneath its seemingly peaceful façade dwells a divine evil which even Aleister’s powers may not be enough to stop. 

The Review

This is a strong first entry in a fantastic fantasy series. The author has created a YA fantasy series that immediately captures the reader’s attention by making the story being told the stuff of legends in the world the author has created. 

While the author has done a marvelous job of creating memorable characters and a story that readers will easily be able to devour once they get their hands on this book, the author’s true strength in this novel is in the imagery used to give the reader a sense of the world they are stepping into and the world-building itself. 

The mythology and lore created and established by the author feels natural and inviting for fantasy fans, and the use of political and religious division to highlight how we often divide ourselves from one another when the true threat knows no religion or politics that can get in its way is a brilliant storytelling device that will make the fantasy genre-driven narrative feel fresh and inviting. 

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The Verdict

A brilliant read that captures the mind and keeps readers invested throughout, Chronomancer and the Time God Book 1: Death of a Paradise by James Meadows III is a magnificent novel that fantasy and YA fans will not want to miss. A book that feels almost cinematic in its delivery, readers will not be able to get enough of this book as it promises to deliver the opening chapter to a fantastic new series in the final pages of this novel. Be sure to grab your copies today!

Rating: 10/10

https://amzn.to/2OX8dFw

Requiem, Changing Times by R.J. Parker Review

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

A young middle school aged boy finds himself thrust into a harrowing adventure when fantasy and horror creatures once thought fictional bring danger to his family in author R.J. Parker’s novel “Requiem, Changing Times. 

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The Synopsis

Clint and Corbin are having a weird day. Best friends for life, things are getting a little strange around their town, and at school. When they’re followed by a strange man looking for Clint and later attacked by an imp, it makes sense to retreat to the safety of home. But when strangers from another world, Banks and O’Neil, arrive with their medley of allies, things get even weirder. Why are they here? What do they want? And what is The Requiem that everyone keeps talking about? As Clint and his friends and family are drawn deeper into a thrilling adventure, only one thing is for sure. They may not be getting out alive. And class with Mrs Christenson will seem like a walk in the park after this.

The Review

The author does a brilliant job of blending several genres together in a cohesive way. A fusion of fantasy and horror with some elements of sci-fi, mystery and suspense in the YA genre umbrella so to speak make this novel really shine brightly.

Fans will get a fantastic cast of characters to root for and stand behind, not least of all protagonist Clint, a young boy suffering from a profound loss and getting into trouble at school and with his new family unit when he is suddenly thrust into life or death stakes and adventures, forcing him to reevaluate his priorities and the choices he had been making. 

What really stuck out though was the author’s flipping of the script in the YA fantasy/horror genre. Most often young protagonists must venture directly into another realm in a fantasy setting, but here we see the fantasy realm coming to Clint first, showing what would happen if these fantastic creatures and horrifying threats entered the real world in the midst of global upheaval. 

The Verdict

This lengthy read is the perfect new fantasy/sci-fi drama for anyone who loves the YA genre. A great pairing of mystery and suspense and larger than life characters all culminate in a shocking finale that will have readers on the edge of their seats and leaves the door open for future installments in this exciting new series. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy of “Requiem, Changing Times” by R.J. Parker today! 

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Russell Parker was born in Bountiful, Utah. As his father was safety manager he had to move around until his senior year of high school, when he came to Cache Valley, Utah to stay. He married the most wonderful woman in the world and they are the parents of four fantastic kids, with one crazy dog.

Russell played all kinds of sports and was an outdoorsman until an accident brought him to writing. A writer since high school, encouragement brought his stories to life.

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Secrets of the Sanctuary (Coven Chronicles #2) by Octavia J Riley Review

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

An influx of magical creatures seeking asylum drives Thea Bauer to search for the answers that the Coven seeks in author Octavia J Riley’s “Secrets of the Sanctuary (Coven Chronicles #2).” 

The Synopsis 

Thea Bauer has earned her way to being a highly skilled member of the Coven. Ranked as a Spellweaver, she’s assigned the more dangerous missions. Corralling a herd of wild unicorns? No problem. Taking down a witch riding the high of black magic? Piece of cake. Finding out why magic-based creatures are suddenly flooding the local sanctuary, protected by a powerful sorceress with a hatred for the Coven? Thea might need more than her tethered demonic partner to see this mission through.

She calls upon Summoner Rafe MacBain, a trusted colleague she’s known for years whose dreamy eyes might keep her up at night—but she’s not admitting that to anyone. He’s got his own demonic companion, and altogether they’re a force to be reckoned with. But, even with their combined strength, it might not be enough against feral demons escaping some of the farthest reaches of Hell.

As if that weren’t bad enough, Thea must conquer her own demons residing within herself that conjure up a painful past. Will she be able to overcome herself, or will the memories she’s tried to stray from keep her from fighting enemies in the physical realm? Thea is starting to wonder if the sorceress may be one of those enemies too. What secret is she hiding at the bottom of the sanctuary, and how will it affect everything Thea has come to know?

The Review

This was a fun and fascinating read that fans of the Fantasy/YA genre will love. While the second book in the series, newcomers like myself will easily be able to get into the narrative of this magical world where magic and magical creatures are an everyday part of life. Readers are instantly drawn to the characters introduced early on in the story, from protagonist Thea and the Summoner Rafe to the Kelpie she calls an ally and friend and the mysterious forces working all around them.

What was truly fascinating was the world building the author did for this novel. As part of a series with another author, this second book showcased the various levels of hell from which certain creatures or either summoned or imprisoned, and seeing the way each creature was categorized and divided up amongst the others was a major draw for any fans of the fantasy/YA genre. Readers truly felt immersed into the world as Thea and her friends went looking for answers, and found some of hell’s deadliest creatures loosed upon the world. Readers will love diving into the complex mythology created by the authors for this series, and the dangerous creatures chosen as the book’s antagonists.

The Verdict

This is a truly engaging and entertaining read that truly lives and breathes the YA/Fantasy genre in every page. Filled with mysteries, action, scares and a healthy blend of character and world building, this evenly paced read is something that will keep readers attention heavily focused in the moment and by book’s end, will have readers on the edge of their seat as the shocking conclusion plays out. If you haven’t yet, be sure to preorder your copy of “Secrets of the Sanctuary” by Octavia J Riley today or grab your copy when it is released on October 15th, 2019!

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

Ever since I was a child, I’ve had a passion for story-telling.

I grew up in and around Nashville and the surrounding suburbs until I was old enough to co-sign on an RV with my mother. Together, we traveled the southeast searching for the next phase in our lives.

We found it next door in good ole South Carolina, though not in the ways we planned. This is where I first met Nia Rose. From there, Coven Chronicles was born. The world we helped create together strengthened our friendship, and our friendship spawned more ideas that bled into the early hours of the morning, broadening the boundaries we had placed on ourselves and our imaginations.

Currently, I’m pursuing my BA in English Language & Literature at Southern New Hampshire University, writing my second novel (book four in Coven Chronicles), brainstorming ideas for a standalone, learning a second language, and working part-time. I have plans to teach English overseas one day, maybe find Mr. Right, and expand on the world I’ve come to love so much.

Who knows, though. Life is unpredictable. Just ask my characters.

– Octavia 

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Tales of Potentia: The Shadows by J.J. Angel Review

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

A small group of teens find themselves forever changed as an alien threatens to destroy the world in author J.J. Angel’s novel “Tales of Potentia: The Shadows”. Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis 

Humanity has always wanted to understand the inner soul of the cosmic web we call the Universe. They fulfill their curiosity with exploration hoping for eternal enlightenment, but what if something darkened their views? Something that could wipe out the entire Earth if given the opportunity?

Tales of Potentia: the Shadows, is the first rush in a thrilling and nail-biting supernatural fantasy series that entertains your curiosity and teases your imagination with an endless war between the Universe and the Absence of Light.

When a cosmic entity unleashes on an unsuspecting community, it carries an insatiable hunger and a hostile attitude with it.

The only resolve against this threat lies within the hands of a few teens, who gain mysterious supernatural abilities from a mysterious crystal not of this Earth. However, everything is not as it seems and if they don’t find out how to use Potentia correctly they will find themselves next on the menu.

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The Review

This was a fun new sci-fi/fantasy novel that began an intriguing new mythology that will hopefully expand further into a series. The book immediately jumps into the action and mystery of the deadly new threat, slowly building up to a story of monstrous and bloodthirsty creatures, a lone survivor looking to stop the threat forever, government agencies and innocent teens whose lives are changed forever by the discovery of powerful energies that merge with them unexpectedly.

The story was evenly paced, and did a marvelous job of presenting characters that were relatable and easy to cheer for. While there were a few instances of grammatical and misplaced word mistakes, the story overall was powerful and the author does a marvelous job of setting up this intricately detailed new galactic mythology without giving away too many details early on. By book’s end the stage is set for an expanding series, teasing growing threats and the power these teens have to face the coming darkness. 

The Verdict

This is a must read novel for anyone who is a fan of sci-fi and fantasy driven narratives. Especially geared towards a YA audience, both YA and Adult audiences will enjoy the chilling tale of monsters and aliens that descends on the world, and the few people who will find their lives changed forever. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy of Tales of Potentia: The Shadows by J.J. Angel today!

Rating: 8/10

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About the Author

J.J. Angel, also know by his other pseudonym J.J. Angelus, is an energetic, humorous, but equally focused creative author who enjoys immersing his ideas and creating imaginary worlds within the realms of science fiction, fantasy, and some horror. He is a former Entertainment Tech Film Major of Baton Rouge Community College and a recipient of the Unsung Hero Award for his contribution towards the anthology, “Voices from the Bayou”, with emotional and thought provoking narrative, “Still Water Runs Deep”. 

When he isn’t writing, JJ enjoys creature features, evening walks by the river, poetry, volunteering, and digital art and animation.

Website:  https://www.talesofpotentia.com

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Heritage (Imagine #3) by Jenna Greene Review

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

The dangerous new world created by the Coalition puts the Elementals to the test in author Jenna Greene’s latest novel, Heritage, book three in the Imagine series. Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis

As Becky tries to adjust to life back on Earth, in Oren, Prince Eston suffers under the deadly effects of broxide poisoning. 

While Cristox Savu joins with an unlikely friend as he attempts to save his people from extinction, Leda and Jamee, two of the three Naturals, those born with magic, struggle to defend the sanctuary of the Painter’s Valley. 

And, even as they finally face the feelings they have for each other, Kat and Ino must evade the Coalition’s clutches as they journey to discover what is affecting magic across Oren–before it is too late and magic, and an even deadlier enemy, destroys Oren and everyone Kat cares about.

The Review

All I can say is…wow. As a reader and fan of this growing series, I am more than blown away by the world building, character driven and emotionally charged story told by author Jenna Greene. This third novel in the Imagine series takes readers to new heights as we not only explore the Elementals fighting to survive in a world where their natural born gift for magic is outlawed as criminal behavior. Hunted and hated, the heroes must find a way to combat not only this powerful new organization, but the hatred and fear being stoked within the citizens of the kingdom of Areth. 

The author finds new and exciting ways to build upon the Oren mythology, including seeing how the magical realm has affected our own world. Seeing Becky’s journey struggling with the loss of her time on Oren and trying to find out what happened to her during all those weeks she was missing, it was great to see this young and powerful character continue to add to the overall narrative. Seeing the beginning of Kat and Ino’s relationship growing into something more than friends was a nice added development throughout this dramatic storyline, and readers will not believe their eyes when the book’s climax reveals the shadowy villain working behind the scenes of the Coalition.

The Verdict

This is a fantastic addition to this massively growing fantasy series by author Jenna Greene. A twist ending that leaves the possibility for more and more books in the franchise, the Imagine series continues to share the powerful world building techniques of the fantasy genre in new and unique ways. If you love YA fantasy as much as I do, then be sure to grab Heritage (Imagine #3) by Jenna Greene today.

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

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Jenna Greene is the author of the acclaimed Young Adult   Fantasy series, Imagine!  She is a middle school teacher, dragonboat coach, enthusiastic dancer, and semi-professional napper. She lives in Lethbridge, Alberta with her husband (Scott), daughter (Olivia), and dog (Thor, dog of thunder). 

http://www.jennagreene.ca/