Tag Archives: Science Fiction Fantasy

Child of Light by Terry Brooks 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 spent years in a child’s prison makes a desperate escape before she is transferred to the prison for adults, but upon entering the mysterious wastelands surrounding the prison she meets a person who claims to be one of the Fae, and says she is as well. With no memories of her life before the prison and looking nothing like him, she must navigate this magical world and discover who she really is in author Terry Brooks’s novel, “Child of Light”.


The Synopsis

The electrifying first novel of an all-new fantasy series from the legendary author behind the Shannara saga, about a human girl struggling to find her place in a magical world she’s never known.

At nineteen, Auris Afton Grieg has led an . . . unusual life. Since the age of fifteen, she has been trapped in a sinister prison. Why? She does not know. She has no memories of her past beyond the vaguest of impressions. All she knows is that she is about to age out of the children’s prison, and rumors say that the adult version is far, far worse. So she and some friends stage a desperate escape into the surrounding wastelands. And it is here that Auris’s journey of discovery begins, for she is rescued by a handsome yet alien stranger. Harrow claims to be Fae—a member of a magical race that Auris had thought to be no more than legend. Odder still, he seems to think that she is one as well, although the two look nothing alike. But strangest of all, when he brings her to his wondrous homeland, she begins to suspect that he is right. Yet how could a woman who looks entirely human be a magical being herself?

Told with a fresh, energetic voice, this fantasy puzzle box is perfect for fans of Terry Brooks and new readers alike, as one young woman slowly unlocks truths about herself and her world—and, in doing so, begins to heal both.

The Review

A gripping and engaging fantasy read, the author brilliantly draws readers in immediately with a grim and brutal world in which the protagonist faces unspeakable horrors and sees firsthand the vicious nature of her captors, the Goblins. The pacing and mythology the author develops throughout this novel deliver not only a grand universe in which these mythological creatures dwell, but a shocking series of twists and turns not only in the protagonist’s origins but in the status quo of this fantasy world overall. 

The character development was fantastic to see unfold here, and very much reminded me of the bond that formed so quickly between Jace and Clary in Cassandra Clare’s “The Mortal Instruments” YA Series. Auris and Harrow are a breath of fresh air challenging one another without delving into unneeded friction between them, while still delivering plenty of tension with other characters. The gritty nature of the villains plays well into the main narrative, but the villains themselves, the Goblins and Humanity’s ruling leadership, all feel like a play on the theme of humanity’s destruction of the environment and their need to drain natural resources, as this becomes part of the narrative over time.


The Verdict

An entertaining, emotional, and evenly-paced sci-fi and fantasy read, author Terry Brooks and his novel “Child of Light” is a must-read novel of 2021, and the perfect fall read for fantasy fans. The Fae become more than just an additional fictional race in this book, instead of becoming the prominently featured class and (mostly) heroes in this action-packed and gripping narrative that will leave fans eager for more. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

Terry Brooks was born in Illinois in 1944, where he spent a great deal of his childhood and early adulthood dreaming up stories in and around Sinnissippi Park, the very same park that would eventually become the setting for his bestselling Word & Void trilogy. He went to college and received his undergraduate degree from Hamilton College, where he majored in English Literature, and he received his graduate degree from the School of Law at Washington & Lee University.

A writer since high school, he wrote many stories within the genres of science fiction, western, fiction, and non-fiction, until one semester early in his college years he was given The Lord of the Rings to read. That moment changed Terry’s life forever, because in Tolkien’s great work he found all the elements needed to fully explore his writing combined in one genre.

He then wrote The Sword of Shannara, the seven year grand result retaining sanity while studying at Washington & Lee University and practicing law. It became the first work of fiction ever to appear on the New York Times trade paperback bestseller list, where it remained for over five months.


Forged in Water and Fire: Book Four of the Falconcrest Chronicles by J. Traveler and T Bear Pelton Review

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

An ancient evil of the past threatens the United Kingdom as a hero and his brothers try to forge a new path into the future that blend magic and technology, and in the process bonds their clans with the dragons in a new world in author J. Traveler and T Bear Pelton’s “Forged in Water and Fire:”, the fourth book in the Falconcrest Chronicles Series. 


The Synopsis

An ancient evil, left over from the Great War, threatens the five United Kingdoms. Lucan, his clan and family are called upon to stop the disaster while Francis and Eliza are trying their best to get married, David and Nightsong are having a baby and the dragons are forming unlikely alliances. Mage Hadrian is predicting some really odd things about the family heirs to be born. In response to the threat of backlash from the ancient warheads and radiation mutations, all the coastal towns are evacuated in anticipation of storm surges and tsunamis expected. In the midst of all the chaos, Lucan and his brothers try to reconcile what they have been taught of their past with what they discover in the Dead lands. Helped by their grandmother KayaMeika, the sorceress who lives with the dragonfolk, aided by a beautiful assassin tech from a faraway country where there is no magik, assisted by Hadrian and the wizards, they battle the remnants of the old times. In joining their magik with the technology of the new country, they unlock the secrets kept from them from centuries ago. New bonds are formed, old rivalries simmer as dragon and clansmen alike work to survive together in a new world forged of water and fire…and love.

The Review

This was a truly engaging and mesmerizing fantasy read. As a newcomer to the series, I was worried that I would be lost and the characters too far engaged in their roles to really invite new readers in. However, the authors have masterfully crafted this narrative to allow both new and old readers alike to enjoy it. From the list of characters, locations, and affiliations listed at the beginning of the novel to the inviting nature of the opening chapters that both jumped right into the character engagement and gave readers a glimpse into the inner-workings of this world, this novel really did a great job of being inviting and entertaining all at once. 

What really stood out as a new reader to me was the way the authors melded elements of sci-fi into the larger fantasy world and mythos that the authors have already established. Exploring the concept of blending magic and science into one working society was not only imaginative and creative but spoke to me on a personal level as a firm believer in paranormal exploration in all fields. Embracing the past and the future could make for a much bolder and exciting new present, and the authors really captured this theme and tone perfectly in their storytelling.

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The Verdict

An impactful, mythological, and thrilling new fantasy chapter in a fantastic new fantasy series, authors J. Traveler and T Bear Pelton’s “Forged in Water and Fire” is a must-read fantasy series. The fourth book in a fun and exciting new fantasy world, the story does a great job of exploring the tumultuous yet fruitful path to finding alliances and peace amongst former enemies, and facing the past can lead to a much brighter future. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

J. Traveler Pelton was born in West Virginia in the last century. She is active in her home church; enjoys having theological disputes with her friends, loves to cook a big meal and then takes a walk, discussing the ideas of what her friends/family are studying. She was the Nation’s Mother for her tribe for several years: she is still wife to Dan after 45 years, mother of six adults, a grandmother of eight, a Clinically Licensed Independent Social worker, a retired adjunct professor of social work at her local university and an avid reader. She is a cancer survivor. She studies science, technology, Biblical studies and human behavior. She is quick to draw parallels between different fields of thought and weave the ideas into a cohesive ideology that is at once practical, usable and thoughtful. Her books are the result of blending her life experiences with bureaucracy, studying science and nature, counseling and faith. She greatly enjoys the intersection of fantasy and possibility and hopes you enjoy it as well. We will see you on the other side of the imagination tree.

Her co-author of the fantasy series is her grandson T-bear. T Bear Pelton is a self-proclaimed gamer, a student of Kenpo, a Christian active in his home church, a Native American, a storyteller and a novice blacksmith. He lives with his grandparents, his Amazon parrot, and four Siamese on a small alpaca farm while working full time and dreaming of times when magic still existed and wishes sometimes actually came true. Enjoy this fantasy with him and for just a little while, suspend daily life for a dream of dragons and wizards, beautiful ladies and knights, magic and faith. Travel then with us to another time, another place and another dimension. Come to the future, after the War, when tech and magic combine with faith and fear.

Their farm, Springhaven Croft, is home to alpacas, dogs, Siamese cats, canaries, an eclectic group of chickens and an irascible Amazon Parrot named Gizmo. Traveler’s webpage is travelerpelton.com; she also has a FB page called Traveler Pelton. Come visit real soon!

Between Conversations: Tales From The World of Ryuujin by Marc Watson Review

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

Heroes and legends rise and fall into obscurity in nine original short stories from author Marc Watson in his novel “Between Conversations: Tales From The World of Ryuujin”. 

The Synopsis

In the world of Ryuujin, heroes rise and fall, but there are always stories that slip through the cracks. The tales of the people who shape the years to come. Heroism and betrayal. Conversations between friends and enemies that will change the course of the world.

These are nine stories from a world that is historic, modern, and terrifyingly futuristic. A world where science and magic intertwine, and give birth to the unknown souls who become heroes, and the legends who fade away into history.

From the author of the renowned dark comedy Death Dresses Poorly, and from the world of his hit science-fantasy duology Catching Hell comes a collection of adventure, drama, joy, and terror as we look into the lives of the powerful, the meek, and the people who make the world turn over the course of centuries.

The Review

This was an eloquently and well-conceived blend of mythology, fantasy, and science-fiction storytelling at its best. Author Marc Watson has crafted a narrative that showcases the amazing way sci-fi and fantasy can blend together in one narrative while showcasing an evolving world through simple interactions amongst heroes, villains, and those in between. 

The way the author draws the reader into the narrative and showcases how the world he has crafted evolves over several eras known as the 4 Falls of Man is very visual, crafting an image of the world and characters in the reader’s mind immediately. Cinematic in his approach, the author does a great job of showcasing a memorable setting and tone while showcasing a poetic and mythical style of writing that keeps the reader invested. 

The Verdict

Memorable, evenly-paced, and engaging, author Marc Watson’s “Between Conversations” is a must-read fantasy/sci-fi epic. Memorable mythology, gripping short stories set within an ever-evolving world, and a style of writing to elicit a cinematic approach to the narrative, this book will keep readers entertained and prove to be thought-provoking in its delivery. Be sure to grab your copies today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Hello, I’m Marc Watson, and I write stuff. I’m an author of genre fiction (primarily Fantasy and Science Fiction of all lengths). I began writing at the age of 15 with a pen and paper, and I’ve never really stopped, even though until recently it was more of a background to me than my defining trait. I have been published on flash fiction site www.101words.org, as well as comedy site www.thecorrectness.com. I’ve been a student of the excellent writing classes at Athabasca University for a number of years.

I live in Calgary, Alberta, and was spawned out of the depths of Southern Ontario. I’m a husband, proud father of two, and can be sometimes found at an actual job. I’m an avid outdoorsman, martial artist of some high repute, baseball player of very little repute, and lover of all Mexican foods. One day ‘World Famous Poutine Aficionado’ will be on my business cards.

You can also find me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/marcwroteabook, and on twitter at @writewatson. For public appearances and interviews, I am proudly represented by Creative Edge Publicity.

Interview with Author J. Scott Coatsworth

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

My mom got me into reading sci fi and fantasy in elementary, and by the end of third grade I’d read the Lord of the Rings cover to cover. I remember my teacher saying I read at the twelfth grade level LOL…

I always wanted to do what those authors did – painting whole worlds that other people could escape into. Pern, Trantor, Majipoor… so many pretty worlds to visit. Only there were no gay characters – no one like me. Well, there were those green dragon riders…

So I decided to write sci fi and fantasy that included a real diversity of characters.


What inspired you to write your book?

I wrote my first novel just out of high school, and it will NEVER see the light of day. LOL… But my second one did get sent out to ten big NYC publishers. It was a fantasy/sci fi hybrid story about a world called Forever, and it was roundly rejected. I kinda stopped writing for a couple decades. When I finally ventured back into the waters, I picked up the story, and decided to tell the origin tale of Forever. And so “The Stark Divide” was born.

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

The main theme that runs through book one is redemption. This is especially true for Ana’s journey from ship’s doctor to villain to almost godlike status. But the book is also about hope – that somehow we will find a way to go on, even if everything seems lost. That’s a recurring theme in a lot of my work.

What drew you into this particular genre?

My mom’s sci fi shelf. She was a member of the Science Fiction book club, and new sci fi and fantasy books arrived at our home with an alarming regularity. She has these big shelves in what we called the spare bedroom, and they were double-stacked with her books. After I finished Lord of the Rings, I devoured Pern and then the Foundation, and just about everything else she had. I was hooked.

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

Oooh. I’d ask Jackson what he found out about the Divine. He was the first religious character I included in one of my books, and he was less so than his wife Glory. But he was also the first to make the leap to seeing the Divine in the bio minds that ran the Dressler and eventually all of Forever. I’m a bit of an agnostic myself, but I remain open to the possibility of something greater than us, and this was my way of exploring that possibility.

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

Facebook. I’m on Twitter and Instagram, but I’ve never been able to reach the numbers of folks in the way I can with the site. That said, we have a bit of a love-hate relationship. I don’t like a number of their company policies, and have been in Facebook jail a fair number of times. But at the moment it’s the best way to reach people in the way that I need to grow my readership.

I also like Prolific Works, specifically for growing my email list.

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

Stick with it. I wish I had never stopped. At World Con in 2018, I attended a panel with an author who started when I did but never stopped, and who now has an amazing career as a sci fi/fantasy author. It was a wake-up moment, but despite my best efforts, I haven’t been able to build a time machine yet. So I have to make the best of where I am now.

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

So many things. I am currently shopping my novel Dropnauts to a bunch of agents with an eye to finally snagging one of those NYC publishers. It’s set in the same universe as The Stark Divide, and tells the tale of what happened back on Earth after the Crash.

I’m also writing a new novel tentatively titled “Twin Moons Rising.” It’s set in the same universe as “The Last Run” and is another fantasy/sci fi hybrid. My short story “Tharassan Rain” (out on sub to a number of spec fic mags) is also set on this world.

And I’m subbing a bunch of other shorts as well.

Once I finish this book, I’ll probably return to Liminal Sky (The Stark Divide’s universe) and start telling the “middle” stories – the ones between the Ariadne Cycle (The Stark Divide, The Rising Tide and The Shoreless Sea) and the Oberon Cycle (Skythane, Lander, and Ithani).

Thanks so much for having me on your blog!


About the Author

Scott spends his time between the here and now and the what could be. Ushered into fantasy and sci-fi at the tender age of nine by his mother, he devoured her library of Asimovs, Clarkes, and McCaffreys. But as he grew up, he wondered where the gay people were in speculative fiction.

He decided it was time to create the kinds of stories he couldn’t find at Waldenbooks. If there weren’t queer characters in his favorite genres, he would write them himself.

His friends say Scott’s brain works a little differently–he sees relationships between things that others miss, and often gets more done in a day than most folks manage in a week. He transforms traditional sci-fi, fantasy, and contemporary worlds into something unexpected.

He also runs Queer Sci Fi and QueeRomance Ink with his husband, Mark, sites that bring LGBTIQA communities together to celebrate fiction that reflects queer life and love.

Facebook Profile: www.facebook.com/jscottcoatsworth

Facebook Author Page: www.facebook.com/jscottcoatsworthauthor/

Author Website/Blog: www.jscottcoatsworth.com

Dreamspinner Page: www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/index.php?cPath=55_1189

QueeRomance Ink Author Page: www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/j-scott-coatsworth/

Goodreads Author Page: www.goodreads.com/author/show/8392709.J_Scott_Coatsworth

Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.com/J.-Scott-Coatsworth/e/B011AFO4OQ

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


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.



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”. 


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. 


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


Jake & the Dragons of Asheville by Brian Kacica Review

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

A young boy gifted with incredible power discovers a family secret and the existence of ancient creatures as government agents converge on a small North Carolina town in author Brian Kacica’s Jake & The Dragons Of Asheville.


The Synopsis

In a small, sleepy town in North Carolina, thirteen-year-old Jake Winston has discovered he carries a unique genetic trait; one that a covert government agency will stop at nothing to obtain. After the tragic death of his father, a local firefighting hero, Jake’s absent grandfather returns and sends him on a journey into the gated forest at the edge of town, bringing Jake face-to-face with a family of ancient dragons thought long extinct.

Determined to grasp the power of the blood flowing through Jake’s veins, the agent from the secret ONX facility begins killing every dragon in his path. This forces Jake in the middle of a battle between the government and the dragons of Asheville, where the true potential of his power is revealed.

The Review

A fun, engaging blend of sci-fi and fantasy, this amazing novel feels like a mix of E.T. The Extra Terrestrial and Game of Thrones. Blending fantasy driven heroics with government conspiracies, sci-fi action and teen drama and humor, Jake & the Dragons of Asheville tell a fantastic, evenly paced story of a young boy who goes on a journey after losing his heroic father, and discovering a destiny no one could have ever seen coming. 

The author does a great job of blending emotional character development as the story delves quickly into the pain of losing a loved one, especially a parent at a young age, and quickly turns that into a coming of age tale of discovering a hidden power within oneself and finding the path that leads them to their destiny. The friendships and relationships Jake has with his friends, family and new allies on his journey make the story as entertaining and engaging as it is, making this a novel that evenly incorporates mythology, fantasy and sci-fi adventure with drama, humor and the journey of a young boy in the midst of leaving childhood behind and becoming a teenager. 

The Verdict

A must read sci-fi/fantasy adventure like no other! Author Brian Kacica has done a fantastic job of creating a new mythology for those who love fantasy and dragons in general, relaying their history and journey in the world to the journey to the “New World” or America, and the price that comes from those like the government agents pursuing Jake and the Dragons seeking power at any cost. A powerful read that everyone can get into, this is a fantastic read for 2019 and the holiday season. Be sure to grab your copy of “Jake & the Dragons of Asheville” by Brian Kacica today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

Brian Kacica lives in the perilous hills of San Diego, fending off coyotes, tarantulas, bobcats and rattle snakes with his beautiful, valiant wife, three courageous children and chubby chocolate Lab, whose plump legs are routinely a chew toy for her spunky Boxer sidekick. JDA is his debut novel.

Author Page – https://www.amazon.com/Brian-Kacica/e/B074FZP443/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

Publisher: Magic Penny Press. https://magicpennypress.com/

Amazon Link: https://amzn.to/33NIXWX

Yankai’s Skull by Faramond Frie 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’s obsession leads to disastrous consequences and a journey of redemption on author Faramond Frie’s novel “Yankai’s Skull”. 

The Synopsis

200 years ago, a Tibetan Shaman entrusts Yankai with the secret that other worlds connected to ours exist and contain immense and dangerous power. Yankai is obsessed with gathering the knowledge required to protect his people from these worlds and following years of study, he stumbles upon a doorway to one of them. Yankai crosses into a dark and advanced world powered by the essence of Human Beings. Captured and tortured, he fights back and escapes to Earth but brings with him a being of immense power and is followed by another intent on revenge.

Over 2 centuries, Yankai seeks the elusive and deadly Poet whom he believes can help him destroy these beings. Aided by an immortal, a psychic and a man prepared to risk his life for Yankai’s cause, the threads of all their lives converge into a single moment where the fate of all will be decided.

The Review

In this short yet powerful read, the reader is treated to a dark fantasy driven narrative infused with a bit of sci-fi action and a historical style of fighting in a modern day world. This mashup of genres and story devices make for an engaging read, giving the reader just enough backstory peppered throughout the narrative to connect with the characters without taking the reader out of the moment entirely. 

The only critiques for this novel would involve transitions. There were moments in the narrative where it can be somewhat hard to discern where one character’s perspective ended and another’s began, so the use of transitions would have done well to help the story flow a bit more smoothly. However this wasn’t enough to take the reader out of the narrative completely, and I still found myself engaged in Yankai’s tale.

The Verdict

The novel is a fast paced, action-fueled fantasy that blends many different genres and has a way of making the modern world still feel ancient and mythical in its approach. The twists and turns that bring a plot device early in the narrative back into the novel’s finale is going to be a fun and shocking twist readers won’t see coming, so be sure to grab your copy of Yankai’s Skull by Faramond Frie today!

Rating: 8/10



Interview with Author J.J. Angel

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

Hello everyone!

My name is J.J. Angel and from in “the Boot of the South”, “the Sportsman’s Paradise” of the United States, aka Louisiana. I’ve been here all my life and I’m still here, now living in the state’s capital, Baton Rouge, for several years. I majored in Entertainment Technology (Film) and Digital Arts but surprisingly not Creative Writing. My first published title was, “Voices from the Bayou: Baton Rouge Student tackle Racism, Police Brutality and the Historic Flood”. It was an anthology of stories written by college students caught in the calamity of all these events within a single year. My specific piece titled, “Still Water Runs Deep,” is a deep rooted tale about my physical struggle as a flood victim blended with my own inner struggles drowning me within. The book is on Amazon and my particular piece is located in the flood chapters near the end. You’ll see J.J. Angel in there.

I started writing when I was still in early grade school. I used to be into drawing before I turned to writing. I get that from my mother who was an exceptional artist. My pen name is a part of her real name, Angela. My first and middle initial begin with the letter, “J”. So this is how I got into writing. I’m a small guy. I’ve always been little. That means as a kid I got teased a lot for not being as outgoing or athletic as the other boys. I wasn’t into sports at all. I stayed in the library during recess but outside that I used to be teased about everything. So what did I do? I started drawing stick figures but these were no ordinary stick figures. These were superhero stick figures. The kind who could fight off any bully and save the world! Somewhere down the road I started to create stories for these characters in my trusty notebook. The stories were episodic spanning ten pages back and front (20 pages an episode) using pen and paper. I think I had about four or five tablets. Each were a different color and represented a different arc of the series. I did this for a few years until I finished Jr. High. I felt writing stories like that were for little kids and since I was in High School, it was time to do “adult things”.  I dropped novel writing in favor of poetry because all the cool kids were writing poetry. I was such a follower during that time of my life. I did not want to be that oddball loser but ended up being the oddball loser who writes poetry. I even remember my Biology teacher asking what I wanted to do when I graduated. I told her I wanted to be a writer and she told me I was living a pipe dream. I kept my writing ability a secret in fear of being judged and when my senior year came, my writing dreams were over.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

What inspired me? Myself. I’m not being egotistical or anything. It had been seven years since I wrote a single damn thing. That was a weird period of my life but that’s another story for another book. Anyways, one day while I was moving I found an old box. Before I threw it away I decided to look through it and guess what I found? One of my old Lost Fighter tablets from grade school. It was a bit worn but the stories were still there in glorious ink. I stopped what I was doing and decided to read through it after all these years. My God! I had run-on sentences as long as anacondas. However, there was something else there. I had a great imagination and whole lot of heart. This is what I loved to do. This is what I really wanted to do. Take people on my visual journey and inspire them to do the same. What happened to the kid who had a big imagination and so much hope? I had given up on him. I was afraid of the ridicule for being a boring useless writer. It was me being bullied again. How can I create such fantastical superheroes or noble warriors who stand against the forces of evil when I can’t even stand against my own self-doubt? That was moment I realized what I had been running from and what I needed to do. That was the first day I picked up my laptop and pressed NEW DOCUMENT in Word.

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

Oh Lord. Well, I was telling my writing colleagues Potentia is a deep story under all the science fantasy lip gloss it has on. I want readers to look at it with an open heart and mind. Potentia is Latin. It means force, power or political authority. There are points in the book where I play around with that meaning. I like the idea of hope and believing in yourself, even when things look opposite of that. Karissa, Rupert, and Amare have periods of courage despite the odds they are up against. Even though she was injured, Karissa still made herself continue to the other side. She doesn’t just give up and fall down waiting for her attacker. She keeps on going and the crystal reacts to that emotion! Same for Rupert and Amare. These young adults are going up against supreme cosmic entities who could rip them to pieces. These are my main “bullies” (for now…*wink*) of the Universe. Despite this, Rupert and Amare show great courage at times. First, you need to believe in yourself. Second, you need to search deep within yourself. Third, you need to find that spark. Last, you need to bring that spark to life. 

When the story says the boys discovered Potentia, it’s saying they discovered the power (authority) residing deep within them and once they accepted it and believed in it, they could create something spectacular. Something powerful enough to repel the invasive shadow-like creatures trying to eclipse them.

I want readers to not only note the hopeful and brave moments, but see the themes of  acceptance. This book has a lot of diversity in it. Rupert is German-American and Amare is African-American. They have a tight knit friendship despite their racial backgrounds and physical differences. I want readers to see the strong levels of friendship here. They are like brothers. A strong brotherhood. Teamwork does make the dream work! Even Ya’asha is confused by how the two boys can fuse powers together so easily. We humans know how it’s done though! Plus one for humankind! There is also an LGBT character mentioned in the story. So I try to be as inclusive as possible.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I have a really big imagination! I’ve said that too many time now. I love the unknown and space is full of it. Even so, there were still some other experiences that brought me into this genre, both real and fictional. In fiction, I loved R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series as a kid. It’s what got me into horror fiction for young adults. I’m a big fan of Ridley Scott as well. I love his movies, Alien and Legend. Legend was a dark fantasy and is one of my all-time favorite films still to this day. There is something magical about that movie that fueled my imagination as a kid.

Now for the realistic side. As a child, I know two instances where I thought I saw dark figures or shadow people. They scared the hell out of me but made me interested in the paranormal/supernatural. Speculative Fiction is a beautiful genre and Science Fantasy has the power to captivate the entire world. I love it!

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

I was originally going to pick Ya’asha for this but he’s too much of a smart-ass to sit down and answer questions cooperatively so I think I’ll go with Karissa. “How does it feel going from a character that dies in Chapter 4 of the original draft to one of the central protagonists in the final draft?”  

I want to see if she will glare at me. Perhaps, death might have been more desirable than what’s she going through currently? I also like cats and she hates them.

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

I want to say it’s a tie between Facebook and Instagram. Thought, I think Instagram is more on the visual side of Potentia. Facebook might be one since I started with it, but Instagram is catching up since I put way more content on it now. My Twitter isn’t too hot right now but hopefully people will look in my direction and be like, “This little guy has created a story that has many layers beneath it. I’ve read it and found some things from incorporating many systems of beliefs within it.You have to be an active protagonist while reading and search for hidden meanings.” (Hint: One of the characters wakes up after a nightmare and sees 5:55 on the clock.  (According to numerology, this combination means huge changes are on the way! And boy are they! *grins*)

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


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

I’m currently going over Potentia The Shadows sequels, Tales of Potentia: the Awakening and Tales of Potentia: The Clash. First drafts are complete for both of these. I have two or three more after those. Legacy, Rebirth and War.

Stepping outside the world of Potenita, I’m working on a fantasy story called, “Arabian Rhapsody”. It’s supposed to be a novella but I have too much going on with the mythological monsters, faeries and other things. It’s getting a little stuffy right now. We’ll see how that one develops.

I have a horror I’m working on which is turning out to be a creature-feature splatter-fest. Screams!!

I also have a chapbook on Amazon called, “Poetic Vibrations”. You can check that out as well.

Well, that’s it for me, for now.

Thanks for reading and I hope you all have a wonderful day!

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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