Category Archives: Fantasy

The River and the Ravages by J. M. Lawler

Reviewed by Timea Barabas

The River and the RavagesThe River and the Ravages by J.M. Lawler touches on universal themes from a predominantly female perspective. This fiction-romance tells the story of a girl coming to terms with her true self, while being pulled in opposite directions by competing forces.

The core relationship explored by J.M. Lawler seems to be that between mother and daughter. Aaliya only felt truly understood by her mother, of whom’s recent passing threw the world off-balance. Freeing burning emotions is not something that comes naturally to her; instead she keeps the pain to fester inside. In her desperate desire to find a way to cope with a seemingly unbearable loss she recklessly throws herself in different directions, into the arms of a lover or into the hard labor of saddle making. The way to redemption and acceptance is crookedly paved, but this makes the journey all the more interesting and relatable.

Rogue Wolf (The Oldenglen Chronicles) (Volume 3) by Robin Mason

Reviewed by Teri Davis

Rogue WolfTeenagers who enjoy nature rather than social media or video games might seem unusual. Jax and Sarah have a rare relationship with their environment. They understand the relationships with people and nature are immensely important for the future of our planet.

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Oldenglen is a special place near Jax’s home in southern Oregon. Having his life uprooted from life in England was difficult for him. However, school wasn’t his salvation, but the magical relationship he discovered with this unique forest and the creatures who live within as well as the trust and friendship with each other.

Keeping the area protected is always a constant challenge. With the ever-expanding new housing developments for humans threatening the natural habitats of the wild creatures while keeping the balance of nature between the expanding population of people and nature.

Balances within Oldenglen are also difficult to maintain. Providing food for all creatures requires just the correct proportion between predators and prey. Too many prey demands massive amounts of plants and small creatures, while predators must depend on an abundance of prey, otherwise they starve.

Legacy: Book Three of the Fire Chronicles by Susi Wright

Reviewed by Chris Phillips

LegacyThis Young Adult fiction is the 3rd in the Fire Chronicle series. It is very good and thoughtful uplifting even when presenting unsurmountable evil and odds.

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In a fantasy world where races of creatures, usually humanoid, are often fighting each other, order has come to much of civilization. The Alliance was formed in fire with a great battle where Lord Luminor was injured deeply. He leads this group of people beneficently with powers that have been unmatched until now.

There is danger now, a new and fearful evil has begun to invade the Morvians. These people live beyond the Impossible Mountains. Although, this does not affect his domain, Luminor must defend these people from the encroaching menace. He forms his army, the greatest so far, combining many groups into a single fighting force. He heads North leaving hearth and home behind protected by a regent and wise Elders to protect his domain and his family.

This leaves Espira, Essie familiarly, and Ardientor sitting at home and worrying about their father. As hybrids, combining human and Gaian ancestry, they are the first and possibly the only salvation of the domain, but they must overcome sibling rivalry and a confining spell placed by their father. When all seems lost, they find the way, Espira especially, to reconcile the personalities and the powers, first to summon assistance from the Ancient Realm and then to lend its use to the army across the Impossible Mountains.

The Meddlers of Moonshine (Moonfall Mayhem Book 2) by A.E. Decker

Reviewed by Teri Davis

The Meddlers of Moonshine“Rags-n-Bones wished he were a rat. If would make dealing with guilt much easier.”

Anytime anyone travels to a new place, fitting in with the community is usually a challenge. For Miss Ascot Abberdoff from Shadowvale and her motley crew, this is very true. Sir Dmitri, the Captain, Rags-n-Bones, and her Vicardi car, Widget, everything seems strange. With Ascot’s red eyes and fangs, Dmitri’s command of the language and love of literature even though he is a wolf, and Widget who is a bat-winged cat, fitting into anywhere in difficult.

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In this adventure of this Wizard-of-Oz-themed book, the challenge is to rid the city of ghosts. Since they had previously defeated unearthly spirits with Ascot’s silverware, shouldn’t their experience give them an advantage? Even knowing that the only competition will be from Professor Smothers, who will somehow cheat to ensure his success, Ascot feels confident that they will win.
A prerequisite for reading The Meddlers of Moonshine is to read the first novel of Decker’s Moonfall Mayhem, The Falling of the Moon. To understand this book is essential in understanding the characters and their relationships to each other.

The Diary of an Immortal (1945-1959) by David Castello

Reviewed by Suzanne Odom

The Diary of an ImmortalThe story begins during the height of World War II. Twenty-one-year-old U.S. Army combat medic Steven Ronson, describes his weariness of the death that’s all around him. For him it is especially difficult when his company is the first to liberate the Nazi Concentration Camp, Dachau. While exploring the camp along with some other soldiers, they enter the cottage of a commander of the German military. Inside they find a lavishly decorated room with beautiful paintings and fine furniture. Behind one of the paintings, a wall safe is discovered. It contains German cash, jewelry and a large, mahogany box which is given to Steven. Thinking that it may consist of medical instruments, he opens it and finds two envelopes and a sizable stash of bottled pills. Thus begins his dalliance with immortality.

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The letters explain a doctor’s discovery of a formula designed for Adolf Hitler to give him immortality. After seeing so much death, Steven decides to take the pills and develops amazing, superhuman abilities. For one, his body is able to heal itself of any injuries.

The Falling of the Moon (Moonfall Mayhem Book 1)

Reviewed by Teri Davis

The Falling of the MoonHow many of us secretly dream of life as “happily ever after?”

For Ascot Abberdorf of Shadowvale, all she has to guide her through life is a single book of fairy tales. Being orphaned, she relies on the guidance of her big brother for advice as she is approaching adulthood. However, when her big brother arranges her marriage to a much older man, she decides to leave her home carrying her guide book of fairy tales and whatever silverware she can quickly grab along with her loyal bat-winged cat, Moony. She believes that by traveling to the distant Daylands, she will find her true love as her destiny in life. Her father was from Shadowvale and her mother from Daylands, so why not discover how the other half lives?

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Since Ascot is a vampire, this land of brightness is a little strange to her.
As luck would have it, the prince of the land is searching for a wife.
Fortunately, a fairy godmother appears giving Ascot a ring with this inscription to help her find her true love. “I burn bright in Love’s True sight. If you light not where I have shown, live out your life, unloved, alone.”

World Saver by Neal Goldstein

Reviewed by Douglas R. Cobb

World SaverMeet Cy “LUVTR41N” Orbick, a teen hooked on the World Saver computer game, and the hero of talented author Neal Goldstein’s debut sci-fi novel. Cy’s father died while flight testing a plane in New Mexico, and his mother remarried her late husband’s best friend—Captain Trent, who happened to be manning the radar when Cy’s dad’s plane crashed. Cy aspires to solve the puzzle clues of the World Saver game, and to get hired at World Saver headquarters. Little does he realize his gaming chops will be put to use helping to save real worlds.

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The Wanderer’s Last Journey (The Orfeo Saga Book 4) by Murray Lee Eiland Jr.

Reviewed by Veronica Alvarado

The Wanderer's Last JourneyIn The Wanderer’s Last Journey, the fourth volume of the young adult Orfeo Saga, Murray Lee Eiland, Jr., delivers an exciting, fast-paced historical fantasy that will no doubt please devoted fans of the series.

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The Wanderer’s Last Journey opens with a burst of action. Traders from a foreign land have arrived Linnaeus’s kingdom, where Orfeo and Clarice are currently residing. Soon a scuffle ensues, during which Orfeo is taken captive. In order to get Orfeo back, Clarice has no choice but to send for Daryush, the Kassite. She and Semria, Daryush’s wife, join Daryush on the quest when he arrives at court. Soon, Zurga joins the search as well. He first looks for clues first at home and then travels to Egypt. There, he learns that foreigners from across the sea have kidnapped Orfeo; he soon enlists a crew to go and rescue Orfeo.

The Fireman: A Novel by Joe Hill

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

The FiremanBestselling author Joe Hill literally sets the world of horror fiction on fire with his take on the human condition as it subsists in the horrifyingly ravaged post-apocalyptic world, of his newest novel, The Fireman.

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Author Hill poses a vastly complex and alarming world, where a pervasively virulent spore somehow spreads between human carriers who ultimately die in one of the most brutal of ways, via human combustion. Seemingly indiscriminate, combustion can occur at any given time and without warning people die where they stand or lay, exploding into flames. Called Dragonscale because of its ominous, but decorative dragon scaled appearance on the infected, the spread of the vicious spore takes humanity to the brink of extinction, leaving those left trying to survive in an uncertain world swimming in fiery violence and drowning in ashes.

End Matter by Ezekiel Cartwright

Reviewed by Teri Davis

endmatter“These stories must never make it to paperback. I don’t want them edited, and they must never change from their existing format. They’re written this way for a reason, and…”

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The stereotypical author is introverted, creative, and extremely analytical. These attributes lead greatly assist them in examining and writing about the world around them, whether real or only in their imagination.

Nathan Cartwright fits this description. Living alone in Maine, he is very reclusive to the point of being almost a hermit. His only contact with the real world is through his son, Danny and his granddaughter.

Nathan has an advantage though over most authors. The major publishing houses want his writings, but he refuses to work with each of them, choosing to have his work strictly available through self-publishing only. He tried to write romance and even drama novels with little success, but his magic touch was the thriller. Why?

Nathan is facing the reality of his life ending. His physician has informed him that his days are numbered. Now is the time for him to do one final good deed.

His son needed money for his wife’s cancer treatment. Between the medical costs and raising a daughter, Nathan feels obligated to help with the family needs with money.
He is returning to being a successful writer of thriller novels. His books almost have a magical authenticity to them with so much explicit gore that he given the nickname, “Grisly Grandpa.”

Nathan now wants to publish a book that will secure Danny’s financial needs and those of his granddaughter.

With finally completing the latest novel on his tablet, Nathan meets with his illustrator at a nearby coffee shop that will change all of his plans.

It all begins with a server who eventually recognizes him. Who could predict how this would send his life into a downward spiral?

The author, Ezekiel Cartwright propels his interests into his writing while being influenced by his childhood in New England and writers such as Stephen King, HP Lovecraft, and Dean Koontz.

This novella is tightly wound into an introspective tale around the theme of striving for greatness while being aware of the impending cost of responsibility in that achievement. With realistically flawed characters striving for hope and a better life, the reader views the world through Nathan with his daily frustrations and challenges.

End Matter is a different novella with a unique authenticity that is a frightening page-turner.