Tag Archives: Fantasy

The Ever Fiend

About the Book by Randy Ellefson

Cover Art Ever FiendTalon Stormbringer thought he knew the risk of stealing from Viland Shadowbreaker – until he got caught. The wizard will spare him if Talon performs a service – fetch the deadly silver elixir from the Everway, a supernatural land that Talon assumed wasn’t real. Only children believe the stories about what lies within – lost souls, corrupted magic items, and mysterious destinations that most people never escape. Ruling over it all is the Ever Fiend, a bogeyman that people use to scare unruly youngsters into behaving.

Talon agrees to go, if only to stop Viland from doing something unholy with the potent elixir once retrieved. Joining him are a band of people he can’t trust. Their leader, a sorelia with nefarious plans of his own. The sorelia’s battle-trained mynx, a large cat who obeys only its master. An alluring swordswoman who wants to enchant her blades with the elixir. A cocky guard whose bravado might prove more liability than asset. A warrior kryll whose curiosity about the elixir might cost him more than his life. And a tortured Knight of Coiryn who seeks redemption in a place where most are damned. Of all the things they might discover on their journey, one is the most obvious and yet the hardest to learn…

Only a fool steals from the Ever Fiend.

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Heart Born

Heartborn
By Terry Maggert
 
Her guardian angel was pushed.

Keiron was never meant to be anything other than a hero. Born high above in a place of war and deception, he is Heartborn, a being of purity and goodness in a place where there violence and deceit are just around every corner.

His disappearance will spark a war he cannot see, for Keiron has pierced the light of days to save a girl he has never met, for reasons he cannot understand. Livvy Foster is seventeen, brave, and broken. With half a heart, she bears the scars of a lifetime of pain and little hope of survival.

Until Keiron arrives.

In the middle of a brewing war and Livvy’s failing heart, Keiron will risk everything for Livvy, because a Heartborn’s life can only end in one way: Sacrifice.

Fall with Livvy and Keiron as they seek the truth about her heart, and his power, and what it means to love with someone who will give their very life to save you.

 

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Excerpt

Chapter Four: Monday

Libraries open at a civilized hour. That was one of the reasons Livvy quickly decided that her new job was a good thing, despite the looming menace of Miss Henatis. Everything about the head librarian was intimidating, right down to when she corrected Livvy for pronouncing her name wrong. With a half-sneer, the tall, severe woman had explained her name was pronounced Terezza, not Teresa, like the unwashed masses, but Livvy was to address her only as Miss Henatis, since the library was a professional atmosphere and not some wild scene of casual familiarity.

So, at 9:55 in the dull, overcast morning, Livvy sat at her desk after taking several breaks to catch her breath following the long walk into the building, past the lower floor, and out of the elevator, where she suffered a tense, cloistered ride with several people who never looked up from their phones except to grimace at the lack of a good signal. Once she reached her desk, she quickly assessed the condition of her workspace before sitting down on her chair with a muffled whoosh. The cushion was welcoming, her pens were in order, and Livvy Foster began her second day as the assistant Answer Desk Librarian (2nd Floor).

“Hiya.”

The light smell of hand sanitizer wafted toward her as she turned to see a slender young man in a perfectly crisp blue shirt drop into the seat next to her. He wiped his hands in a practiced motion, flicking his fingers with a final gesture of satisfaction. Apparently, germs were a sworn enemy. His smile was brilliant, and she found herself responding in kind with something more like a dopey grin.

“Dozer. Nice to meetcha.” Before she could react, he was plucking at her shirt with busy fingers, smoothing an imaginary wrinkle with a light touch. “Before you say anything, we’re totally gonna be besties, and yes, I know what you’re thinking.”

“You do?” Livvy asked, overwhelmed with his onslaught of charm. She shook her head to clear it, but he just grinned even more.

“Yes. It’s part of my job as your New Best Friend. You’re asking a lot of things right now, but in your head, so let me help.” He held up a finger and winked. “Item one. How am I so good looking?”

Livvy burst out laughing, then had to place a hand over her heart as the stitch began to build in her side. She didn’t care. It felt good to laugh that way, and she took little sips of air while waving that he should continue. He didn’t pay her breathing any mind, so neither did she, reveling in the normalcy of a shared joke with someone new. It felt good to forget, if only for a moment. That was a good start if they were going to be friends. Besties, according to Dozer.

“You don’t look like a Dozer.”

He was impeccably dressed in blue, and his dark blonde hair was styled to sweep up off his forehead. Cheerful blue eyes crinkled at her as he smiled, and his teeth were small, white, and even. She held out a hand, and he took it. His grip was delicate and caring, like he sensed her condition but was too kind to mention it. It was a small thing, but it made tears threaten the corners of her eyes. She smiled harder to blink them away.

“Well, don’t let this flawless appearance confuse you.” His sniff was so perfectly arrogant that she felt like cheering. He smiled at her again, then slid his own chair so that he faced her at a ninety-degree angle. “Item two, and this is important, so pay attention.” When he saw her nod, he pointed out at the rows of desks, and books, and all the things that made the library into a sort of living thing. “I know all about this place, and more importantly, I know everyone who comes in here. I can tell you who’s happy, or sad, or drunk, or homeless, or fighting with their wife or husband. I know why they’re here, and I know if they’re leaving and never coming back.”

Livvy made appropriate cooing noises at this declaration, but they weren’t polite. She meant it.

Dozer cocked his head and raised a brow, looking like the picture of a screen idol from a time long ago. “Stick with me and I’ll show you the ropes, kid.”

Her laugh bubbled again, free and easy. “We are going to be besties, I think.” A blush colored her cheeks at her brashness; it wasn’t like her to be that direct and open. She was steady, and loyal, and a lot of other things that people said when they didn’t want to call you only sort of pretty, but Dozer was so gallant that she had to respond in kind.

He leaned in, conspiracy on his mind. “See the big guy over there?” Pointing with his chin, he directed her eyes over to one of the tables where the regulars sat. There were a stalwart few who came in every day. Their pecking order was written in stone, as if the chairs were ordained by a higher power.

“The man with the mustache?” she asked.

He was a big, solid guy with a shock of white hair and deeply tanned skin. His shoulders bulged with muscle, even though he had to be pushing sixty years of age. There were dark blue tattoos on both forearms, and his smile was lopsided and kind.

“Mmm-hmm. That’s Sailor Mark. He’s a good one. Sort of worked as a plumber all his life, and now he spends his days here. He’s a really nice guy, tells a lot of great stories. You’ll meet him, I’m sure.” Dozer selected his next target—a slender, harried looking woman with frizzy hair pulled back in a bun. She had sad brown eyes and coffee-colored skin, and she moved between the tables to her seat with an economy of motion and certainty that Livvy found fascinating.

“What does she like to read?” Lizzy looked thoughtful, watching the woman flit about like a hummingbird. The question surprised her new friend, who put a hand on his chin to think before answering. She liked that he gave her words consideration. It was a sign that she was being seen and valued. Her blush returned, but hidden from his sight due to his concentration on the scene before them.

“Miss Willie?” He watched the woman settle at a table, but only after a great deal of fuss in which she adjusted her chair, her book, her feet, and then her chair once again in a series of tiny scooting motions until she had everything just so. “Mostly adventure novels, and some old-fashioned romances. She’s kind of sappy that way. I asked her about, like, a billion new books and she said she didn’t have time for them. She just likes to relax, I think, but she doesn’t really know how. Sometimes I see her going over the same boring old things over and over. But she’s quiet and friendly, so—” He shrugged to indicate his powerlessness over such plodding book choices.

“What about, umm, the guy with the ponytail?” She watched the man tapping his fingers to an unknown beat as he flipped listlessly through a magazine about science and cars, but from Livvy’s standpoint it seemed to have an awful lot of women in bikinis.

“Oh! Right, that’s Drum Circle Danny, or just Danny.” Dozer’s eyes glimmered with mischief. “He can’t help drumming on stuff, so don’t tease him about it.”

“I wouldn’t dare.” Livvy meant it. He looked kind of crunchy and harmless, like an intellectual who’d gone back to nature.

“He comes in first, usually. Sometimes he’s here up to an hour before the others show up. Gets his stuff set up, but always quietly. I like him. He loves books about the ocean. I think he has a lot of stress in his life, and reading about whales or whatever lets him calm down.” Dozer’s one shoulder shrug was just enough; Danny was okay, too. That was the message Livvy got.

“How many are there? Regulars, I mean?” She counted the table and booths. There was room for at least two dozen people in this little nook alone.

Dozer thought it over, then started counting on his fingers. “Depends on what’s happening. We have special events here, sometimes. On a busy day we might get ten or twelve of them. It’s always a moving group, sort of like a school of fish. I can count them when they’re still, but they move around. . .” He brightened. “What are you doing for lunch?”

“Nothing, why?” She hadn’t thought that far ahead.

“You are now. I’m going to introduce you to the wonder of Frankly, Frank’s. He’s down on the plaza, right by all those benches.” At her hesitation, Dozer added, “My treat. And honey, I know.”

Tears pricked her eyes. He was so nice, and she didn’t want to ruin the feeling of having someone think about her kindly. “I want to, I mean, I do, but—”

“Don’t worry.” Dozer took her hand gently, but not like she might break. Even sitting down, he was taller than Livvy. “And I mean: Do. Not. Worry. I know all about your, ahh—” He pointed at her chest, and spots of color bloomed on her cheeks again, but this time it was something like shame. “Anyway, I know all about it, and we can go nice and slow down to the plaza, okay?”

Livvy knew right there and then; Dozer, the exotic, funny boy sitting next to her was going to be a true friend.

About The Author
Born in 1968, I discovered fishing shortly after walking, a boon, considering I lived in South Florida. After a brief move to Kentucky, my family trekked back to the Sunshine State. I had the good fortune to attend high school in idyllic upstate New York, where I learned about a mythical substance known as “Seasons”. After two or three failed attempts at college, I bought a bar. That was fun because I love beer, but, then, I eventually met someone smarter than me (a common event), and, in this case, she married me and convinced me to go back to school–which I did, with enthusiasm. I earned a Master’s Degree in History and rediscovered my love for writing. My novels explore dark fantasy, immortality, and the nature of love as we know it. I live near Nashville, Tennessee, with the aforementioned wife, son, and herd, and, when I’m not writing, I teach history, grow wildly enthusiastic tomato plants, and restore my 1967 Mustang.

You can find Terry at

            
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600 Second Saga!

600 Second LogoI’ve found a wonderful new place that readers and authors of sci-fi and fantasy alike are going to love.  Seriously, you all have to check this website out. Readers love discovering new authors.  This site is different in that there are flash fiction fantasy and science fiction readings.  600 Second goes to the notion that it could be a 10 minute long audio.

Here is the site’s main page.

I love this!  Hearing authors read from their work is so enjoyable, but all authors can’t travel to every town.  Some authors are shy and might feel they couldn’t do their writing justice.  Here, Mariah Avix does a professional level reading.  When they do their quality audio, they also share with readers a little about the authors.   One tip for readers, the heading for the post is usually referencing the content of the fiction they are going to hear.  Think of that as the short story title. However, they do have a link to the author’s recent book with the title and another to find out more about the author (their website or blog).

I’m going to share one of their readings right here (I have permission from Mariah).  I loved the title of this one, “You Sunk My Battleship…Again!” by Elise Abram.  I am also putting the link here for folks to get to the post to check it out.  Here.

 

P.S. for authors, they are taking submissions and they also have posts authors will find interesting.  In July they have one sharing helpful information on formatting books.  Subplots and complexities are discussed back in June.

 

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Lady of the Dead

Cover Lady of the DeadAbout the book by Gretchen S. B….
Fantasy, Paranormal/ Urban, 262 Pages

A Lady of the Dead only comes along once in a century. Gwen knows this makes her valuable but she hates the constant supervision of her Warrior guards. Her increasing power has gifted her some independence until rumors of war spook her guards enough to report to the King.

Cesar has been King of North America through several wars and rebellions. When one of his generals informs him these new rumors involve the Lady of the Dead he flies to Seattle himself it investigate, posing as his second-in-command. The instant attraction he feels to Gwen becomes increasingly hard to ignore.

Will Cesar be able to protect Gwen while battling his lust? Will Gwen stay with her warrior guards or will Cesar’s dominating nature push her to switch sides? Hidden alliances surface in Lady of the Dead.

 

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Reviewed by Guest Reviewer, the Twisted Book Carmudgeon

In Lady of the Dead war is coming to the North American Night World. It’s up to Gwen to bring everyone together and stop it. She also has other problems: trying to calm her volatile mate.
I wanted to love this book, but alas, it fell short of my expectations. The plot is crowded – with subplots and details and the number of players made it difficult to keep straight.  Also, the overarching story is weak, which accentuates the ‘crammed’ feeling with characters and groups and subplots.
In fact, I wish the book had been separated into two books. I believe it would have made it easier to follow and reduced some of the ‘busyness’ and given readers something solid to hang onto.
I did like the storyline. It has a lot of potential and is unique. It mixes genres and draws in elements, which aren’t usually put together. I appreciate authors who take a risk and want them to deliver. I look forward to reading more from her in the future.

♦   ♦   ♦

With thanks to Lilac Reviews for the opportunity.  Twisted Book Carmudgeon’s Facebook Page

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The Intergalactic Custody Battle

About the Book by Lee J. Mavin

Cover IntergalacticZiggy has been taken from away from Earth, stolen away so it seems to complete his training on another planet. Little does he know that his Alien father has grand plans for him, plans for him to take the royal throne and lead the Empire! Ziggy’s mother (a mere human) wants him back so she is going to fight for her Son’s custody, even if his father is the Emperor of an Alien race! An Alien race that has plans to expand its Intergalactic Empire. Ziggy’s best friend Hiroki, the tiny super genius, plans on finding Ziggy too, even if he does miss his year twelve math exams. The Intergalactic Custody Battle is the first of a trilogy that crosses the universe. Get ready for a wild ride across the galaxy!

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Hatred Day

How T.S. Pettibone Came Up with the Cover

The concept for Hatred Day’s cover took a lot more brainstorming than we care to admit. Initially, we only knew that we wanted the cover to be simple yet striking. Also, because Hatred Day is a series, we knew we had to come up with a concept that could be transferred to all the covers in the series.

HatredDayEventually, we both agreed that the concept with the most creative leeway was to place a different character on the cover of each book. Of course, it was an obvious decision to feature the protagonist, Snofrid, on Hatred Day’s cover, but book two will feature one of the larger supporting characters. Fortunately, we won’t have to do quite as much brainstorming, though, as we nearly have that cover all mapped out.

Once the cover concept had been agreed upon, we discussed color combinations. We immediately knew that we wanted the cover to have a strong focal point, which is one of the reasons we chose to make the gasmask red. The second reason was because, psychologically, the color red has a physical effect; it stimulates the spectator and raises their pulse rate. To contrast the harshness and ferocity of the gasmask, we dressed Snofrid in an elegant white dress. The motive behind this decision was to showcase our world, which is essentially a blend of horror and beauty.

On that note, we covered Snofrid’s face with a gasmask for two reasons. Firstly, because gasmasks are an integral part of our world. They are always worn by our characters while they are outdoors because the air in our world has been polluted and is no longer safe to breathe. Secondly, we know that many people, ourselves included, prefer to imagine what each character looks like as opposed to being shown.

Hatred Day’s cover was produced by an online company called 99Designs, which was recommend to us by a fellow author. Basically, you can either commission a one-on-one project with the artist of your choice, or you can hold a contest where several artists will enter designs based off of your concept. The first time we used the site we held a contest, and through it, we discovered a wonderful Indonesian artist who we eventually commissioned to digitally paint our cover. Ultimately, we were so impressed with his work that we now commission him to do all of our artwork.

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Borrowed Magic

About the book by Author Shari Lambert
Teen & YA, Fantasy, Sword & Sorcery, 287 Pages

Cover Borrowed MagicAfter a three-year siege, Lord Kern, the dark mage, is dead. Magic has left Tredare, and life is almost back to normal.

For everyone except Maren, that is.

Before the siege, an attack by Lord Kern left Maren near death and with a sliver of magic buried deep inside her. Now, for reasons Maren doesn’t understand, that magic has been triggered, giving her the ability to “see” the truth: that her world is nothing more than a magical façade; and that the kingdom’s hero may not be a hero at all.

But this gift of sight comes at a high cost. Maren is in constant pain, and fears her own death is imminent. Plus, no one believes her suspicions that another Dark Mage has risen, and that Tredare may be in just as much danger as it was when Kern was alive.

With the country’s future in the hands of a man who’s vowed revenge on its king, Maren must convince someone else of the truth. Unfortunately, the only person powerful enough to help is also the one man she can’t trust; the man she almost married; the man who abandoned her and disappeared for three years: Kern’s son.

As Tredare crumbles around them, Maren must persuade him to help – before the king is murdered by the very hero he reveres; and before the same magic that gives Maren the gift of sight also takes her life.

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Reviewed by Guest Reviewer, the Twisted Book Carmudgeon

This story is a little bit different to your usual historical/magical books you’ll pick up and read. The difference you’ll notice is the feeling that you’re not reading the first book in the “series”.  Several events had obviously happened in the past and we’re now stepping into “the next episode”. At first, it threw me off and confused me quite a bit, especially since the rest of the “previous events” had been teased out little by little from the main characters as I read along. In a roundabout way, the trick actually helped hook me into reading the book until I was caught up into the story until the very end.

Here we meet Lady Maren. She’s a very close friend to King Daric and Queen Adare. She also served as a personal advisor to the king. How or why she managed to secure that position wasn’t clearly laid out from the beginning. Yes, it did mention that she was the First Lady but in most historical books, women played a much more subdued roles unless they are warriors or soldiers or magical which would explain why they held such power over the king. Lady Maren wasn’t like that or not in the beginning anyway. So, who or what she was wasn’t really very clear.

Then we meet Phillip, her childhood sweetheart and the hero of the kingdom, who obviously hates her NOW. Again, we don’t know why until the history was dragged out from practically every major character in the book…then we finally understand.

There’s also the other man in the form of Teige who brought in the twist in the plot which was revealed earlier than the rest of the “history” behind the story.

All in all, it shouldn’t work, as major components of how a book comes to life had been all jumbled up. The ending was also predictable and followed the “norm”. It’s really just like any other magical/historical tale one would pick up. Nothing special.

But somehow everything worked out really well. The way the author jumbled up the sequence made it compelling. The way the author avoided focusing on details to make the setting of the book “medieval” as most do by describing decor and people’s mannerisms and way of life that’s so different from today, and instead simply centered on Lady Maren and what was happening around her drew my attention even more. I simply had to read on just to find out what was going to happen to her next.

Then right at the end, I found out that there’s a prequel to this book which could have been helpful to read first before this one to avoid the initial confusion.

However, as a final verdict, it was an enjoyable read simply because the author found a way to make it uniquely hers and showed me that there’s another way to tell a tale told by so many others.

♦   ♦   ♦

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Eolyn

Cover EolynAbout the Book by Karin Rita Gastreich

In a land ravaged by civil war, the Mage King Kedehen initiates a ruthless purge of the magas. Eolyn, last daughter of the magas and sole heiress to their forbidden craft, seeks refuge in the South Woods.

When she meets the mysterious Akmael, heir to the throne of this violent realm, she embarks on a path of hope, seduction, betrayal, and war. Desire draws Eolyn toward Akmael’s dark embrace, but fate binds her to Corey of East Selen, a cunning mage whose ambition challenges the limits of love and loyalty.

Can she trust either man?

Hunted in a realm of powerful wizards and brutal deceptions, Eolyn must find her own path to freedom or she will burn on the pyre.

Vigorously told deceptions and battle scenes, with a romantic thread.” -Publishers Weekly

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Theo Blinkerson and the Copper Coffin

About the book by Author Gregory Butron
Children/Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy, 190 Pages

Theo Blinkerson CoverWhen someone sets out to destroy all electrical technology on the planet, it’s sometimes best to hide under the softest, fluffiest blanket available. Other times you have to run screaming from dangerous robots. In the worst of times, you find out that your best friend has forgotten that you exist, and that you have to ride the world’s longest elevator with the scary girl you only met two days ago. Theo Blinkerson is about to have all of those times.

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Reviewed by Guest Reviewer, the Twisted Book Carmudgeon

It would have been a five star read if the author were trying to write the book as required reading in a science class.

Filled with techno-speak, which helps get into the mindset of the other characters, I think the author does a wonderful job at narrating the story through the eyes of the main character, Theo.

Theo is funny and snarky. He’s not as technically savvy as Dave, which makes me relate to him.

His way of seeing the world is enlightening. His thoughts are silly and yet true. It brings to mind the phrase: “Out of the mouths of babes” and reminds me that children see more than we give them credit for.

Full of action, adventure, and interesting characters, I appreciated Theo had a great moral compass and his dislike toward discussing emotions doesn’t hide the fact he has a lot of compassion.  The other characters are quirky and all have secrets – some revealed and some yet to come to light. Watching Theo negotiate this terrain was a joy.

This is a cautionary tale of how important it is to understand how the many tools work and not just use them blindly. It also speaks to growing up and fighting for what you believe in.

I think it would appeal to both boys and girls of say ten years old and up. Some of the jargon may be difficult for younger readers, because of vocabulary, and not because of content.

I laughed a lot while reading this and hope, as the author promises at the cliff-hanging end, that there are more stories to come.

♦   ♦   ♦

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Frost Burn

About the Book by K.T. Munson and Nichelle Rae

Cover Frost BurnFire and Frost; no two nations have ever been so divided. Only two bridges across the great River Gora connects them and their long standing hatred. When spring comes early, the Frost Nation looks upon the Fire Nation with suspicion. Soon they will discover that the rising rivers, warmer temperatures, and the earthquakes are all a result of something far more terrifying then each other. When the world seems to turn against them they will only have each other to look to. Can they put their differences aside long enough to fix their planet? They must or face extinction.

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